While other managers have been quick to speak about limitations, Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez have pushed the boundaries to embarrass their peers...
Liverpool cult hero Luis Garcia is returning to Anfield on Easter Monday to take part in the 'Celebration of the 96' charity match. Jon Holmes caught up with him...
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We Had A Few Of These
Another record broken... Moyes has a habit of doing this... Stoke finaly won against Utd...
RICKY, MUFC ( missing piece of jigsaw is SAF)
Moyes Will Be Moyes
I lost the fervor to support my team when David took over.
I lost the zeal to support my team when David signed his best coat hanger for a few quid more than he could have.
I lost any slight enthusiasm I felt towards my team when David lost many, many games against far weaker opposition losing many age old records set home and away.
After this lose to another out of form weaker team, I've lost the appetite to even rant or be sarcastic.
It's a sad state of affairs when one can't even muster the energy to curse his fellow man!
Anthony Kane (Is this purgatory or hell?), Milan
...I think its fair to say that Moyes is not going to work out at United.Yes, what a shocking opinion. This is despite the apparent desire from some sections of the media to promote patience in the weird believe that somehow Moyes is destined to follow the same path as Ferguson because both of them are Scottish and angry looking. Well, frankly, the well worn trope that Ferguson had a bad start,Ferguson needed patience too is just ridiculous at this stage.
This team won the league by 11 points last year. This team has been supplemented with Januzai, Zaha, Fellaini and now Mata. Rafael, Evans, Valencia and Hernandez are entering their prime age, Jones,Smalling and De Gea are a year younger so should be better. This is without considering the qualities of Rooney, Van Persie and Carrick. Losing almost 40% of your games with this team does not warrant patience, it sort of demands action as spoilt and Unitedesque as that sounds.
So if we are to take for granted that this will happen eventually who are the actual replacements? If it happens before the end of the season - nobody.It could only be Ferguson part-time but that is unlikely because he would throw a hissy fit because of his role in hiring him. What about going down the Liverpool boot room route?Giggs, McClair? Doesn't sound great does it.
Who does it leave in long-term?There are surprisingly few candidates for what is always going to be a prestigious job despite Moyes' best efforts to turn United into the sort of team who may think Andres Townshend is a possible solution.
The ideal candidate is obviously Guardiola. No chance until he finishes his likely 3 year stint at Bayern and may possibly want the challenge. Klopp seems committed to Dortmund and he would potentially be a risk also.
To Spain and Italy. Biesla is too left field, Del Bisque is too old and Ancelloti is too busy raising his eyebrows in celebration of his jaunt around the worlds favourite cities. This leaves Conte and Simeone as the outstanding managers that could possibly be persuaded. I would personally go for Someone. The job he has done at Madrid is incredible and he looks like he has the charisma and intelligence for it.
Is there anyone in England?Maybe managers of Southampton and Everton but I dont think thats an option considering the Moyes appointment. What about managers out of work? Can anybody think of anyone?
...It seems the 'Mata effect' isn't enough to out do the 'Moyes effect'
Having watched that game I knew united were bound to struggle, mostly because of the tactics Moyes constantly insists on, get the ball down the wings and cross it in. Against a team full of 5'10" defenders thats fine, at some point or another your going to have some joy...but this is Stoke...Stoke! One of the two 19th century teams plying their trade in the premier league. This was always going to play into their hands. Admittedly I put this game down as a draw on my accumulator so in reality I got it wrong too. But until Moyes starts becoming more flexible with his tactics to expose the opponent's weaknesses rather than playing to their strengths, united are really going to struggle.
On a positive note, a win tomorrow for the reds will put us 9 points ahead of united and give us a good 4 point cushion going into the game against Arsenal.
A Long One On Mata And United
As an ardent Chelsea fan, I watched yesterday's game between Man United and Stoke with some fascination to see how David Moyes would deploy our old golden boy, Juan Mata. The game against Cardiff doesn't count in my view because the timing of Juan's move would have prevented the team from having any type of meaningful training in order to incorporate the Spaniard in any successful manner.
While he played Mata in his desired position, that famed pocket behind the strikers, it didn't really seem to have the effect most United fans would have wanted. To add insult to injury, Moyes lost his two centre halves and had to Magyver his team by playing Carrick in defence and Rooney in central midfield. Cue the 2-1 loss.
It may be an insult to Charlie Adam to suggest that the victory was more as a result of the United players unable to capitalise on their chances than his free kick and thunderbolt strike, but the truth is that at this stage, United are a team that just can't seem to make the most of their parts.
It's not that Mata can't play; he's the same old genius he was at Chelsea. His little chips, passes and clever movement of the ball had the Stoke defence at sixes and sevens quite regularly. The problem is that there was no one playing in tandem with him enough to make his efforts count. The one bit of brilliance was perfectly capped off by Robin Van Persie (a striker who knows how to play with small, agile and infinitely creative midfielders from his time at Arsenal), but Mata's critical through ball to Danny Welbeck in the 2nd half was duly flubbed by the United striker who seemed genuinely surprised Juan had gotten the ball to his feet. The problem was exaggerated by dropping Rooney down into deep midfield to cover the necessary changes in the team after Jones and Evans had to depart. Apart from Van Persie, he is the only other player in the United squad who can adapt to Juan's style of supply. Welbeck seemed clueless every time he got a through ball from Mata. You could almost see the poor chap yearning for Rooney's midfield gig.
The problem is that United just don't know how to play according to Juan Mata. He's not big on aggressive counter-attack. He's the kind of man who likes a slow build up, the one touch sort of stuff to make an Arsenal fan's shorts quiver, before a clever little pass somewhere around the box stuns the defence and the striker taps in. it's beautiful, its impressive, its cute and it's all Juan.
United on the other hand, just love the back-breaking man-handling in deep midfield, the mugging of the ball and the blitzkrieg down the wings before their balding, stocky superhero in the middle fires the ball through the goalie into the net. It's not beautiful; its scorched earth policy. But it bloody works on the right day, with the right players.
United don't have that anymore. But they do have a player who made more assists than any other attacking midfielder in the league last season. They have a midfielder who will tear the defence a new one, not with speed or power, but by glorious and awe-inspiring touches and clinical through passes that players like Van Persie and Rooney should gobble up. In short, if you play Mata and you play the way he wants, you will score goals.
In closing, I'd like to suggest that a temporary fix to the problem could be for United to change their playing formation to a 4-1-3-2, not unlike the Chelsea diamond we saw a few years back. United actually have the players to make it work if you think about it. In defence you'd have Raphael, Jones, Vidic and Evra. Michael Carrick would hold the midfield with Januzaj and Valencia offering the speed and passing ability down the wings. Mata would operate in the forward midfield area in the pocket and then you have Van Persie and Rooney as the two strikers up front. Now the only challenge Man United have is trying to find a spot for old Kagawa...
Anyway, use it or not, I think United's troubles aren't going to end soon. Moyes is a good manager and I rate him. He's got a mismatched squad of absolute world-class talent mixed with really average players who wouldn't even warrant squad berths at Everton, mind you. It can't be easy trying to make that load of players function well together.
However, with Mata, they do have a chance of getting into the top 4. Failing that however, and you'd have to wonder if they haven't made a terrible decision in spending £37 Million on a player who just doesn't fit the team's style of play...
Liverpool's Transfer Window
I've tried to remain positive about deadline day passing with no signings - we're still fourth, the squad has players return in from injury soon, we didn't really need another attacker anyway - but what really grinds on me is the way it was gone about. Our transfer delegation apparently dicked about for over two months with Salah to the point where it became obvious he would go elsewhere.
Haggling is one thing but constantly giving the player the impression you don't rate him at the level that even is current club do is embarrassing to say the least. Then, with only a couple of days left you travel to Easter Europe to throw all your eggs in to one "headless chicken" shaped basket despite the clubs owner being a multi-billionaire and having no interest in selling. Unfortunately trying to force a sale by agreeing everything with the player first will only possibly work if the player has the time to hand in a transfer request and go on strike.
I know teams don't sell/loan players to competitors (insert joke about Chelsea not deeming Man U competitive) but there were players available who would have improved our squad depth (and possibly first team) and could have been brought in. If fourth (and Suarez) slips away then there will be a LOT of disgruntled fans for FSG to deal with thanks to the January debacle.
Carl (at least the a rugby starts today) the Welsh
Not Too Bad For Arsenal
I see F365 have gone for the it was a miserable night for Arsenal angle. I have to say I disagree based primarily on the fact that the importance of the January transfer window is over - hyped and no way near as significant as people make out. January is mostly utilised to sign players as back up, which I think is shown by the amount of loan signings made.
Teams are over halfway through the season and should be aware by now what constitutes their best team, something that Wenger has identified clearly seeing as Arsenal have been in the top 3 for pretty much the whole campaign. There is really no need to upset the balance of the team now by going out and spending over the odds on players that would probably end up spending more time on the bench. Kalstrom might not be the best player in the world, but he is a perfectly capable player and should be ok as cover for injuries and suspensions. People need to stop complaining about Draxler, especially as Wenger has confirmed that they were never even in for him.
I would like to see a player of his quality play for Arsenal, but I wouldn't like to see us pay £10-15 million more than he is worth, especially considering he is only 20 years old. As for strikers, Arsenal still have Podolski and Bendtner (who is better than most people give him credit for). They could even try the old false 9 tactic and play Ozil or maybe Cazorla more centrally. I mean if Sam Allardyce can pull it off once with his players then surely Wenger can. There is also the fact that Giroud is playing well this year and signing someone else might effect his confidence. Having said that considering the only player we were in for was Saloman Kalou it makes me think that they weren't really bothered about getting a striker or not, otherwise they would have gone for someone who was actually worth acquiring and not someone who is not good enough for the Premier League.
So stop moaning, Wenger made it clear that he wanted to sign some cover in midfield because of injuries and suspensions and that's exactly what he did. If Arsenal once again fail to win anything this season then yes new players need to be bought, but right now being in second place a point off of top is not a crisis and if it aint broke don't fix it.
So Kallstrom is out already with a back injury (allegedly sustained whilst playing beach football?!) and set to miss around the next six weeks.
You've got to admit that Wenger sure is a dab hand at finding players ready to fit into the Arsenal way immediately.
Greg Benham, AFC
Maidstone And 3G Pitches
For those that haven't seen this Maidstone United, my local club, are currently in the Ryman Premier Division and playing on a 3G pitch pitch. They are currently in 2nd place in the league, but won't be allowed to play on there pitch should they get promoted, as this week the teams in the conference voted against 3G pitches in the league. For more info see http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/31/why-maidstone-united-prove-a-strong-3g-signal-is-the-future-of-grassroots-football-4284584/
Gareth Southgate and Steve Bruce were asked about this and both said he would also have said no to this, as they would prefer a battle in a quagmire on grass to playing on "plastic".
Surely this is the problem with English Football at the moment. Every football match is not a battle, players like James Milner are not going to win England World Cups. Playing on churned up pitches doesn't encourage technique, skill, ability but the ability to run and tackle harder.....yet the top bods in our game would rather have a "battle" than look at a viable solution, a 3G pitch that is based on a sustainable business model and that encourages passing and looking after the ball. Unless this attitude changes we are never going to improve internationally and bring through player with technical ability.
Craig "Cole" Russell (I hate people that put Thoughts? at the end of an email but couldnt think of anything else)