Man City were punished for failing to turn up against Wigan. They improved in the final half-hour, but complacency is becoming a recurring problem for Manuel Pellegrini...
He might have been rendered 'unfashionable' even as they bought him, but Marouane Fellaini showed Manchester United why they bought him against West Brom, says Adam Bate...
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Liverpool Need Defenders Please
Although I'm gutted that Liverpool have been gazumped by Chelsea in the Salah transfer, I'm hoping it'll turn out to be similar to the whole Clint Dempsey thing, in that I didn't really know for sure how good it'd be and the immediate reaction to it falling through is disproportionate to how I'll feel in a fortnight. It is frustrating to miss out on Willian and Salah so quickly though, after failing to get over the line with Diego Costa as well.
Before all the transfer shenanigans started, I wasn't sure that buying a young winger would be the best option anyway. Currently, we only play one winger at a time and we've got Sterling, Jordan Ibe and Coutinho all between 18 and 21. They need games. Given we're only going to be playing one game a week between now and the end of the season I can't see the benefit of signing another young winger this winter. If we do go in for another wide player, I think we need someone experienced, akin to a Gary Mac figure in the dressing room, who can come into the starting 11 with a certain mentality, skill, and general 'presence', but won't stunt the opportunities to kids over the next five-seven years. I truly hate him, but given the talent Bayern are hoovering up, would a cheeky three-year contract to 30-year-old Arjen Robben be worth a try in the summer? You don't need to think about re-sale value if you've got the replacements already in place, long term.
For now, Liverpool announcing the obvious news that Johnson has been playing with an injury for the last few months and is now out long term, a full-back is the priority. Preferably someone who could fill in at right-sided centre-half, like an Ivanovic type. For midfield, given Cardiff are imploding and F365 think they're going down, I'd try a bid for Gary Medel to shore up the middle alongside Allen and Henderson. That'd cover the essentials, and leave us until deadline day to look at whether another flair player is available as an additional plus.
Signing Somebody Would Be Nice
As a Liverpool fan I was quietly optimistic at the start of the transfer window, with some solid (but not extravagant) targets being mooted in the papers (and regurgitated on Liverpool's official website). In particular, Mohamad Salah was a refreshing target to plug gaps for the ineffective Victor Moses and inconsistent Sterling and support the SAS strikeforce that seems to show no sign of slowing down. We are in a great position to secure a Champions League spot this season with only the FA Cup and Premier League commitments left; silly me for thinking that the club (read: our illustrious American owners) would invest modestly to increase our chances (the best it has been in years). Unless Salah flat out refused to join Liverpool, it is frustrating, disappointing and worrying in equal measures that we couldn't secure our main target for £11m. I'm not sure if this was a 'Moneyball' decision as I've seen several reports that Salah was valued too high by Basel for Liverpool but common sense dictates the financial gain by getting in the Champions League should have easily offset the cost of Salah, not to mention that we will lose Suarez if we don't qualify (or maybe that's the plan..?)
Jay (I had to look up the ascii code for the £ symbol) LFC Sydney Aus
Salah = Wright-Phillips
Does anybody else have a sense that Mourinho only bought Salah so that Liverpool can't have him?
The Tipping Point
In response to the question: 'when will Man United's plight move from being funny to being sad?'
The answer is easy: Somewhere between 2050 and 2070, by my reckoning!
Rod Weidemann, Arsenal fan, South Africa
Top-Four Finish Would Be In Spite Of Moyes
Last night having finished the last episode of The Thick Of It on Netflix I felt all giggly and needed a come-down so I decided to see what the world was saying about my beloved Manchester United. Of course, the majority of the world don't give a s**t so I had to settle for BT Sport and Clarke Carlisle. He started strongly by claiming United's performances this season have been turgid (apt very, very apt) then he let himself down. Clarke trotted out the line all ex-pros and ex-managers are using when it comes to David Moyes. Which is, he needs time to put his footprint onto the club (Clarke's rather crap words) and, we are reminded, to remember it took Ferguson a few years to get it right when he started.
One of the things I do remember, from the first trip my sister and I took to Old Trafford back in 1990, was a club shop that was not much more than a portakabin. It really was tiny, Mega it was not. Almost everything about the club, stadium and club store has changed to such an extent it really is wrong to compare the club from the mid-to-late 80s to the beast it is today. Also, as it's been pointed out many times before, Ferguson took over United who were in the bottom reaches of the old first division. So Clarke and co, please stop always using Ferguson as an example of a manager given time, after a slow start, and being successful, find another example or two (any suggestions?).
We are told David Moyes needs time, with two or three seasons being touted, before judging him. Moyes took over a club who had just won their fifth title in seven seasons, finishing second in the other two, and who had got to a Champions League final as recently as 2011. So in other words, Moyes needs 2-3 seasons to get United back to where they were WHEN HE TOOK OVER!! Blooming marvellous!
If we compare Chelsea and United then both Mourinho and Moyes are in a transitional season. While Moyes took charge of the Champions Mourinho took over a Chelsea side who had failed to make a title challenge in the previous two seasons, two seasons in which they had four different managers (although credit for Benitez for steadying the ship somewhat). Mourinho inherited a team, like United, that still needed to replace club legends, past and present. For Chelsea, Drogba, Lampard, Terry and Cole. For United, Scholes, Giggs Vidic and Evra. Chelsea, again like United, could do with a revamp at the back and started the season with weak options in centre midfield, Ramires (good), Lampard (too old), Mikel (too s**t) and Essien (broken). While United have problems in attacking midfield, where Chelsea are strong, Chelsea have problems up front, where United are strong.
Looking at both club's strongest starting line-ups, How many outfield players from either side would get into City's team? Hazard for Chelsea, Van persie for United (both maybes)? One each, yet one team is one point behind City and one team is 13. Then again one team has a great manager one team does not. If United get into the top four it'll be in spite of Moyes and almost certainly because of the individual quality of Rooney, Van Persie and Mata. While if Chelsea win the league it'll be because of Mourinho and his 'team'.
Does He Have A Philosophy?
This longish rant is a follow-up to a conversation I had with a Manchester United-supporting friend of mine who is stuck between blaming Moyes and blaming the players for the current 'plight' of *his* club. This brings me to a very pertinent question: What is David Moyes' coaching philosophy?
Look around all the big clubs and you have managers attached to a particular philosophy; it is evident in the type of football they get their teams to play, it governs the type of players they scout and buy. If successful, it may become the ethos of the club pervading each and every aspect of it.
Arsene Wenger advocates a passing philosophy and the transfer strategy is based on buying technical players who fit into that philosophy. Barcelona have a tiki-taka philosophy which serves as a blueprint for the rest of the world. Their managerial appointments are in tune with that *PHILOSOPHY*.. Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pocchetino, Pep Guardiola, Frank De Boer etc have a well-defined idea about how their teams must play, the type of players they want to produce etc etc, and I can go on and on with this. The long and short of it is that a manager's philosophy is as important as his track record.
It would not be too far-fetched to say that Manchester City's dismissal of Mancini and the subsequent appointment of Pellegrini was based on wanting to establish an identity at a club known more for splurging in the transfer market than a particular style. Heck, even Mourinho, the SERIAL WINNER, at least has a playing style which he is fiercely loyal to (you know, that defensive dourness complimented by pacy wingers and all).
What does Moyes bring to the table? Did his Everton team play with a specific style or identity? What was the 'type' of player he bought? Of course, he was limited by the financial constraints at the club but it would not be a stretch to say that you can impose a style on the club irrespective of limitations (Rodgers at Swansea and Martinez at Wigan and now at EVERTON immediately come to mind).
Moyes' identity, one can imagine, is pretty limited to 'Get Stuck in there lads', 'Let's not lose the game and nick a result in the last 10 minutes'. Now that Juan Mata's arrival is imminent, it is difficult to even tell if he's a 'Moyes type of player'; the only Moyes type of player that comes to my mind is Tim Cahill.
You know, those 'he gives 120% for the entire game, never stops running around' type of players. I would say that is just not good enough for a club like Manchester United.
I would go on to argue that Man United themselves do not have a philosophy of their own but that is best left for a debate on another day!
Oh, and finally, I believe that MOYES IS A MISFIT AT UNITED
Chaitanya, A GOONER from INDIA revelling in schadenfreude
Sad About Mata Exit
As a Chelsea fan, I am gutted with the impending departure of Juan Mata.
A world-class footballer (in my eyes) and a true gentleman off the pitch will be lost to our rivals.
Although this transfer makes sense financially for Chelsea and would give Mata much needed playing time before the World Cup, I do think that Chelsea are the losers in this transfer.
On current form, we are playing well and all is merry. God forbid, if there was an injury to Hazard, Oscar or Willian our only worthy replacement is Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah (if confirmed).
These players are unproven in the Premier League and could very possibly derail our chances of glory. Mata has proven his ability to change games and unlock defences and as a fan, I am not convinced either can.
Add in the fact that Mata (a marketable player) has gone, further revenue is lost.
Lastly, could this transfer make Man U into a Tika Taka team (4231) - RVP striking with Mata, Rooney and Januzaj/Kagawa pulling the strings?
Ashraf Kadwa - Durban (loves to use brackets)
Just Let Him Play
People are wondering where David Moyes is going to play Juan Mata in order to get the best out of him, since he couldnt get the best out of Shinji Kagawa.
Mata has won the World Cup, European Championships, Champions League, Europa Cup, was Chelseas' player of the year for the past two years, and is an all-round class act.
The answer is don't try to fit him in. Just let him play.
Let the man play.
Just Look At The Stats
I can't see why the Mata deal is even considered a bad deal for Man Utd.
A ready-made, twice player of the season, proven Premier League pedigree, creative midfielder.
On whoscored.com (http://www.whoscored.com/Players/25363/History/Juan-Mata), Mata is listed as an attacking midfielder left, centre and right with some really impressive stats for Chelsea in the two seasons prior to this one. Focusing on last season.
2012 -2013 Chelsea
* Prem League - 31 (4) Apps - 12 goals - 12 assists
* Champs League - 5(1) Apps - 3 goals - 3 assists
* Europa - 5 (3) Apps - 1 goal - 5 assists
Total - 49 Apps - 16 Goals - 20 Assists
(Bonus) Spain - Confed Cup - 2 (2) Apps - 1 Goal - 2 Assists
Mata was responsible for 36 goals in 49 appearances he featured in for Chelsea. I included the Confed Cup as a bonus to show a better picture of his importance that in four appearances he is responsible for three goals. His pass success is also a sight to behold from 2009/2010 season his lowest pass % complete is 82.8% to his highest 88.5%. That 82% came in his first season for Valencia, since then it never dipped below 84.1%! Man Utd are clearly in need of that incisive pass in the final third. The Sunderland game showed Carrick and Fletcher several times lacking in that department. In fact Januzaj is the only one capable of playing that killer ball, with his delivery from corners and free-kicks a refreshing sight to behold after watching the last few seasons of Ashley Young hit the first man from every set piece. Mata has also never been sent off in his career, is rarely injured and if you look at his total league appearances, goals and assists across a span of his seven-season career it reads 211, 50, 68. Essentially Mata is responsible for 118 goals in 211 games. No wonder Wenger is getting his knickers in a twist.
The timing is also interesting. You have Mata's side of things, where he is desperate to play games, to prove himself for the World Cup. Also he will be aware that he will be (PRESUMABLY!) the number one midfielder at Man United (if you're spending 37mill on a player you got to be number one surely), as opposed to clubs linked with him like PSG. The Man Utd side of things is, desperate for a world-class signing and an injection of class and ability to claw back a hopeful Champions League place. United also only really have the Premier league left to focus on. Out of both domestic cups, and the Champions League, in which I believe Mata is cup tied, as a distraction, Juan Mata can play in every league game for United, with Fellaini (he'll come good I think) and Carrick/Fletcher doing his defensive duties, the midfield looks a bit more structured and balanced at least.
To summarise, Cleverly is the alternative...think about it.
TJ (A lot of research into that one)
We Did And Flamini Was Top
I enjoyed the 'Underwhelming transfer targets' article a few days back. However, I was wondering if this feature was done last summer would it have included the likes Mathieu Flamini, Tom Huddlestone and Gareth Barry? These signings may not have excited the fans but undoubtedly have improved the teams they joined. Sometimes it's better to trust those who are paid to make such decisions (but not always).
Ciaran, Kilburn, London
It's All Such Good Fun, Man
There's a lot of negative vibes around at the moment. It's really killin' my buzz.
Arsenal are up top there, and so are awkwardly happy with themselves; darkly clouded by the jarring and hilariously justified fear that Wenger will forget he was trying to buy a striker in summer for good reasons, fresh from another big wibble and subsequent desperate scramble for the Emperors New Trophy. Take a step back and chill you guys! Against City and Chelsea's financial chicanery, you oughtn't really to have a chance regardless. Wenger is a human paradox, as you can't sack him for feckling things up with a team that only his genius could build. Zen.
The Noisy Neighbours are hugely enjoying a success borne from the meticulously planned plan put in place by Roberto Mancini; but are blinded by the observation that many of his players are gone and how City are playing in a completely different style, scoring twice as many goals, whilst getting out of the Champions League Group Stage. However, the miserable whining and grinding of teeth from next door is a drag.
Chelsea are loving it with Jose and all is rosy in the garden; except that his 'new and improved' modern design apparently looks a bit, like, ten years ago; and he didn't like their favorite plant pot, which he has sent to the second-hand store off Talbot Road. Chelsea fans are up with the fashions of the modern day - I've seen them on Channel 4.
I had to check the league table to make sure Liverpool really were fourth. More 'their year' than last year was, but not so much as to make it worth making a laughing stock of yourself by actually suggesting in public. Unless you're Brendan Rogers. Not snapping up Salah earlier in the window, because of a wrangle over a few million quid, could turn out to be a big mistake.
Tottenham are going to finish sixth. Adebeyor is a mirage and will have become a useless, slow-moving pile of earth by the time they get within touching distance of anything worth touching. Tim Sherwood is the living embodiment of 'The Honeymoon Period'. Roberto Soldado is just so Sergei Rebrov.
A sad experiment ended with Rafa Benitez being split in half (the one in Napoli is a ringer.) All his good points, were bundled into a nice, neat, happy little package called Roberto Martinez. All his bad points were stuffed into an overblown, farting bag of hot air called Sam Allardyce. Everton were sent the good bits and have used them to have a nice little party. They've invited all the cool kids and everyone is really hip. All the other cool kids want to come.
Man Utd fans are taking their cumuppence very well indeed. They aren't going purple in the face and telling the person who gives them a lift to work every day to 'Shut the **** up!", and they aren't calling the police to report 'a crime' like p***y little drama queens. They are patiently supporting in general, unsure if it is the players or the manager who is incompetent. Some of them are worried about buying one of the best players in the league in case he doesn't fit their system. If they mean that in the respect that he is not s**t, then they are right.
Next are two pointless teams, one who's only reason for existence seems to be to scare the ginger above; the other who everyone is keeping at least a four-point distance from lest the apocalpse be infectious.
Below this are the relegation candidates.
Everyone is therefore a bit p***ed off, except City fans, half of whom (including myself) are p***ed off because there is nothing to be p***ed off about. However, it's actually a great season for entertainment, with more sub plots than you can shake a stick at. Better than Corrie.