The return of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo's partnership should have provided City with a huge boost on Wednesday. Instead, their title hopes are left in tatters...
Liverpool v Chelsea will be billed as the title decider but nine days later the Reds face Crystal Palace. They're undergoing a Pulis revolution, as Roberto Martinez will tell you...
Yeah, We Had 30ish Of These
Re: Mark "I wont watch my team play until Moyes leaves" I think I speak for all real United fans when I say: even if Moyes does get the sack, don't bother supporting our team again.
Our fanbase doesn't need people like you so join the City bandwagon while it's fashionable. We have no right to be in the top four, just look at the competition: two gazillionaire clubs and two hugely successful clubs that have underachieved but threatened to explode in recent years... not to mention the excellent Everton and Spurs. We are in transition. Sure, we can spend £60m, but Chelsea, Spurs and City spent £100m, Arsenal spent £40m and were the best team from January - May 2013 and Liverpool have got freaking Suarez. Just how the hell exactly are we supposed to be in transition and compete with that at the same time?? I am certain if Ferguson hadn't retired all he would have done was stick in a £80m bid for Ronaldo or Bale. Football goes on for more than one season, you know.
If we don't get 4th spot then can you imagine how crazy intense next season is going to be, how many teams are going to be competing for it and how many transfers are gonna go down after the World Cup?? It will be great to watch and if Moyes is still manager you're going to miss United's campaign because you have the mentality of an 11 year old.
...I just can't take it anymore. I realise this is hugely unlikely to be published but I need to vent some spleen.
So, listen, you bunch of whining, over-privileged, perspective lacking buffoons - it's only a game. Success is cyclical and there are inevitable peaks and troughs and you are in a trough now.
So, for some perspective - Syria, massacred Muslims, various repressive regimes arbitrarily torturing innocent people, the parts of the UK population relying on food banks to stave off starvation, I could go on, but the more aware of you will get where I am going with this.
In summary then, please could the petulant little brats, most of whom know little to nothing about football, just shut the white noise and understand that it is hilarious for everyone else that one of the many clubs called United (yes there are others) is currently in a malaise, yes it last a while, yes you may have to huddle under past glories for a while, but just understand it's a game, there are many, many more important things in life.
Venting On Sherwood
Now, the fury has been building up for a couple of weeks ago so rather than going on an abusive rampage across Twitter, I am going to try and put my points across eloquently about the car crash that is Dim Sherwood. I know its long...but here goes.
Firstly, I am absolutely sick to death with the tabloid and other mainstream media queuing up to nosh him for a variety of reasons or urban myths as I call them.
1) Tim Sherwood has made Spurs more exciting. Quite simply, he hasn't. He has simply made us more random. Every single game is basically 90 minutes of 'you attack, we attack, you attack, we attack', with the outcome decided not by tactical nous or any semblance of a game plan, but by luck. The luck being that our players can simply outscore the other team or that they will turn up on the day. It's exciting in principle, but in practice, it's bloody horrible to watch. Bordering on barbaric
2) Our form has improved. Quite simply, it hasn't. Spurs were largely a consistent beast before Sherwood arrived. We had a couple of heavy beatings at the end of AVB's tenure, but one was at City, who also smashed 6 past Arsenal, and the other was against Liverpool, when we were so destroyed by injuries we had Etienne Capoue and Kyle Naughton at the back, and people were screaming for the inclusion of Zeki Fryers, who at which point had zero Premier League starts, as if he was the second coming of Philip Lahm. In between those games, were two good away wins and a creditable draw against Utd, who we would have comfortably beaten had our defence not been so charitable. Sherwood has 17 points from 8 games in charge. 5 wins, 2 draws and a defeat. Against the same opposition Sherwood has faced, AVB picked up 19 points in his last game against them. That isn't an improvement. It's a regression.
3) He 'knows the game'. From what I have seen, he quite simply doesn't. Fans of other teams who have seen us against their teams under Sherwood will attest to this, but we are incredibly easy to get at and have started slow in every game so far under Sherwood. He's had a couple of impressive results, like Utd away, but even in that we could have been 3 down in the first 15 minutes and were lucky not to concede a penalty. The worrying thing for me is his insistence that you don't need a defensive midfielder and that a good central midfielder can attack and defend. The problem is, we don't have any multifunctional central midfielders. We have destroyers and we have creative players, but nobody who has both in their armoury, apart from some French bloke who Sherwood claims not to know, so he plays his (apparently adopted son) Bentaleb rather than him. There is no real fluency in the team and no real link between defence and midfield or midfield and attack.
4) 'Bullsh*t Baffles Brains'. Now this was a quote from Rent-a-gob Redknapp but is also clearly a belief held by Timmy Tempo, or the PE Teacher, or any other nickname I've heard for him. There's an argument for 'playing to your audience' but there's a difference between that and what Sherwood is doing. He likes to keep things simple, not for the sake of the players, but because he himself is incredibly simple. The game isn't about tactics or formations, its apparently winning individual battles and showing more desire. Now, this may work in the lower leagues when playing against teams of largely equal quality, but in the Premier League when even the lesser teams are extremely well drilled, it is just not an acceptable view to have. He comes across as a throwback, a Luddite. Spurs played Hull at the weekend and with all due respect to them, we have better players all over the pitch. We looked absolutely hopeless. The goal itself was a complete fluke and just shows that we are overreliant on players having individual moments of brilliance like Paulinho, rather than setting up to outplay and outthink our opponents.
The worst thing of the lot, is that he is being talked about as if he's the messiah and that he has saved us from oblivion, in very much the same way as Harry was talked about, except Harry did improve us, this clueless spiv doesn't. He'll get a free pass from the lads at Talksport, The Sun and The Daily Mail who are loving the fact we have a GOOD ENGLISH BOY at the helm now, people even talking up Sherwood's record '5 away wins in a row' despite AVB winning two of them, and in some cases blatant lies, like Niall Quinn saying Spurs struggled on their travels before Tim came along (15 away wins in 27 PL games under AVB). It really doesn't surprise me that its the Anglo-centric parts of the media who are bigging him and similarly, the same can be said of some of our own fans who think he's the best thing since sliced bread, but personally I just can't stand the sight of his gormless grinning face and his f**king barn owl haircut. I can't wait until we employ a proper manager because the mere sight of this bloke makes me want to poke my own eyes out with a shitty stick.
Yours with love
Never thought I'd say this but I'm sticking up for Tony Pulis.
He was widely disliked as Stoke manager. Partly because he made no effort at all to turn the industrial stylings of his team into anything remotely progressive, not a problem in isolation but when you consider they spent an incredible amount of money for their annual 14th placed finish, sympathy does diminish. But mainly it was the fouling - the constant over-physicality aimed at bullying more technically accomplished opponents out of the game, typified by the origination of the verb 'to Shawcross'.
Neither of these apply so far to Palace. Under Pulis defensive organisation has still been paramount but they've also managed to have a go at more illustrious opponents without resorting to violence (in games against Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea and City they were actually out-fouled by a combined 40 to 46). Although they narrowly lost all four of these games their record in the other nine more than makes up for it with six wins and a draw. This translates to a massive 56 points across a full season, all while remaining one of the lowest spenders in the league, and to my knowledge no opposition striker has yet been Gabbidon'd.
I think Pulis is doing an incredible job at Palace without resorting to any of the unpleasantness that coloured his tenure at Stoke. So go free Tony, keep doing what you're doing and may you one day find that miniature baseball cap.
Jon Gibson LFC (reserve the right to redact this after our inevitable 1-1 draw there in May)
We Know A Few Who Agree With This On Newcastle
Given the lack of emails on Newcastle United I can only assume this is because they were all so full of bad language and angry Geordie words that they were unpublishable, so here goes.
That was without doubt some of the worst football I have ever seen at St James' Park. Pardew's reaction to loosing Cabaye was to stick Shola up front and hoof long balls up to him all day. Without Remy and Gouffran we were lacking attacking guile so fair enough keep it simple, however after 15 mins when your lone striker looks isolated and unable to win a ball why persist with the tactic for the rest of the match. After the game he said we have to go back to basics, come up with a game plan for the rest of the season. Well no shit Alan, what did you think you had to do. He knew Cabaye was leaving on Monday night and in the space between that and Saturday's game he could not come up with a tactical plan to even challenge Sunderland.
Every pass was sloppy, every tackle mistimed, I think we mustered one shot on target in the first half, the team had no fight in them. If Pardew cannot motivate his side the biggest game of our season then what is he doing except putting cones out 5 days a week. This looked every bit like a man who had 'lost the dressing room', his players would not play for him, each other or the fans.
Something must change at Newcastle and this is not just a reaction to Saturday, we have been poor for a while. We have failed to score in 5 of our last 7 games. Pardew has won 1 derby game in 7 and none at home. We have won 1 FA cup game since he has been here and have played some awful football. Last season we played the most long balls and this term we have the most shots outside the area, proof indeed he has little idea how to break teams down, it's dire to watch.
There were lots of calls for Ashley to go after the game and while our recruitment 'strategy' is frustrating, the club is largely being ran within it's means. I long for the day someone gets bored with the few billion sitting in their bank account and comes to play football manager on Tyneside in the meantime can we find someone who can keep us entertained. Pardew Out.
Andrew (Seriously worried for next season) NUFC
Annoyed With FFP
As a supporter of a lower league team (Colchester United for my sins) I have tended to view the shenanigans of the football aristocracy and parvenus much as a chimney sweep might view the passing of a royal cortège - diverting but of no real significance to my everyday life, just a different world. As such I feel my allegiances do not colour my opinion on the issue of Financial Fair Play. I believe it is, quite simply, the biggest carve up by vested interests in the game since the inception of the Champions League. This is not really news, but needs shouting, again and again
FFP has reared its ugly head once more this weekend with the news that Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal might lobby for Manchester City's exclusion from the trough because of a failure to comply fully with FFP. Yes, that is Chelsea who, under Abramovich's ownership have made a total loss of £679M compared to City's losses under Abu Dhabi of £560M! Yes, the Liverpool FC that were bankrolled for decades by those pedlars of false dreams, the Moores. And Arsenal, with the most expensive tickets in the country, and whose majority shareholder is shady to say the least. The hypocrisy and naked self interest is breathtaking.
Let's get a couple of things straight here.
First - FFP is only about preserving the status quo. Yes it will prevent a Portsmouth, but it will also prevent a mid 90s Blackburn. What can Villa, Southampton or Newcastle ever hope for in the era of FFP? Europa league football? No, FFP's aim is to cement the biggest clubs positions at the top. Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd and Chelsea.
Second - Manchester City and PSG have spent an eye-watering amount of money to hoist themselves up to the top table. They have not done it gradually, but have splurged huge amounts of cash in an orgy of spending. No doubt some of this was due to vanity, but in the main, they did what had to be done - they knew since 2007 that FFP would bar them from the elite unless they battered their way in before the drawbridge was raised. Now, having done so, the incumbents are not happy - 5 into 4 does not go!
FFP is desperately needed, but not the version that is currently being imposed. I suggest a salary cap similar to that used in Rugby League would not be a terrible place to start.
The only thing that surprises me is the blind idiocy of the majority of football fans. I can understand followers of the privileged four supporting this farce - after all it is human nature to look after number 1, but the rest? It is almost as if we don't really like change but just want to maintain the status quo, kowtowing to the big boys tugging our forelocks as we go.
Greg (grumpy on a Monday) in Colchester.
United Need To Swallow Their Pride
Something that was alluded to in Winners and Losers is United's "holier than thou" attitude to standing by a manager. I was all for this and it did give me a sense of pride that "we're not like you peasants sacking a manager every 8 months, we get it right". Maybe this makes me fickle but I'm sick to the back teeth of this now. We got it wrong, we need to admit this and Moyes needs to go. The worst part of it all is that he wont, no matter how bad it gets. The principle of standing by your own is admirable, but I feel it should only apply when the person you're standing by has proven they are capable of doing their job. I feel like Moyes will keep his job solely for United to fulfil this philosophy, rather than on actual merit.
Surely there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough. David, you kept Everton above mid-table for 11 years and well done to you. Maybe that qualified you for a stab at the United job, but your whole reign has been a nightmare and what evidence do we have to suggest things will improve? It's not like we've played breathtaking football but individual errors have turned 4-0 wins into 5-4 losses. It's not like Moyes has given any indication in any of his press conferences that he has a clue what he's doing. Phil Neville, much worse a player than Nicky Butt and (obviously) Paul Scholes, is first team coach whilst these two former players are/were involved in the youth set up. On what ground? Is he even remotely experienced enough for this? Who the f**k is Steve Round?
It's hard to remember which defeat is the most recent, or which article from Google about Moyes' disastrous reign is the most relevant to read. He needs to be sacked and we need to get someone who we can back completely whilst being 100% confident that their track record suggests they can turn it around and make United win titles, not to hopefully qualify for the Europa league.
Englishmen Spotted At Newcastle
Interesting fact: the Toon lined up with 4 Englishmen and 3 Frenchmen against Sunderland, with a further one of each coming off the bench, meaning they actually played one more Englishman than Frenchman in the game. Furthermore, 4 out of the 5 Englishmen were Geordies! (Yes, I'm including Shola here as although he wasn't born in Newcastle I don't think anyone would doubt his Geordie status).
So the next time you hear a Geordie say, 'No passion, team full of Frenchies, don't understand what the derby means to locals', remind them that maybe it's not passion, maybe it's just that the players, whatever nationality, aren't quite good enough.
Jamie (Sunderland, keep your hands off the League Cup) Boro
Bravo To Palace Fans
Winners and Losers quite rightly praised the Crystal Palace fans at the Emirates on Sunday for creating a bit of un-Premier League like atmosphere. It was made all the more incredible by the fact it was only really about 50 fans right at the front of the away section.
Not a single one of them sat down throughout the 90 minutes though, as you might have guessed I'm firmly in the 'bring back standing sections' camp and those Crystal Palace fans made the best argument for it I've seen in some time.
Luca James Sparks
Like A Long Lost Friend
It's severing time - again. All I can say is that crossed legs is the new black
As you were Mediawatch, as you were.
Cliff Mallinder, AFC