There is plenty of reaction to Mourinho's antics (Isn't that exactly what he wanted?) plus thoughts on Connor Wickham, Fabio Borini, beach balls and Tim Sherwood...
Another chap in the mailbox has been keeping notes on comments made by optimistic Man United fans. Plus, Garey Vance is offering a double-or-quits on his new tattoo...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoying This Season
Spurs 0 - 5 Liverpool
United 1 - 2 Spurs
That is all.
Mahzaib, LFC ( Happy New Year indeed)
Saw the match at Old Trafford tonight, best way to describe it is to paraphrase Lyle Lanley from The Simpsons: "Y'know, David Moyes at Manchester United is like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and dang if he knows how to use it."
Matt, Manchester (still enjoying the season though....)
Thoughts On United
A couple of thoughts on the two managers in the United-Spurs game:
- I've generally defended Moyes this season (or at least asked people to give him time before judging him), but it's getting increasingly hard to do. There's been a lot to criticise him for so far - and most of it has already been said - but during the game today I noticed something seemingly trivial but probably quite telling in terms of Moyes authority (or lack of) in the United dressing room.
Moyes is known for being particularly anti-diving. In the past, at both Everton and United, he's openly condemned his own players for doing it, and promised to stamp it out. But diving has so far been a hallmark of United's season (Welbeck, Januzaj and Young being particular culprits), and judging by yesterday's game, the situation isn't getting any better (Januzaj booked for simulation and Welbeck could have been) I'd actually be interested if anyone has the stats on which club has received the most cards for similation. I wouldn't be surprised if it was United. If Moyes can't even get his players to do something as basic as stopping diving, what hope does he have in getting across more important and complex ideas on how he wants them to play.
- Although Daniel Levy is known for being a pretty astute chairman, his managerial decisions over the year have been pretty terrible. You can argue whether or not sacking Redknapp was a good or bad thing, but in Sherwood he's now basically ended up with Redknapp-light. They're similar in terms of tactics (nothing too complicated; two up front; fast-paced, attacking football), man management (pally-pally, arm-around-the-shoulder types but prepared to give a bit of b***ocking when necessary) and outlook (think it's important for a manager to be British and a 'proper football man', whatever that means). But Sherwood comes without Redknapp's experience, contacts and pals in the media. He may do fine (and if not, more big-name managers will be available next summer), but it's hard to argue that he's a step up from Redknapp.
...With every month that goes by it just does not look like David Moyes is going to cut it as Manchester United manager. I like the man, and I completely understand the logic behind his hiring, but unfortunately the step up appears too much for him. Moyes and his backroom staff seem to be really, really out of their depth. It always seemed like a really bold move bringing in all his own men, and there doesn't appear to be any inspiration or any ingenuity coming from the manager or coaches.
One quote sticks in my mind. When asked about the underperforming Fellani, Phil Neville stated that he just needed a goal to get him going. This is a player that was brought in to provide stability and steel in the centre midfield, and one of the first team coaches thinks he needs a goal to kick start his season? No mention of any tactical changes that might bring out the best in this expensive signing, just the quite depressing observation that he needs a goal. It may be nit picking at a fairly innocuous quote, but I just couldn't imagine if Javi Martinez was underperforming there would be anyone associated with Bayern saying he could do with a goal. To me it sums up the completely unimaginative, dull thinking that has defined the Moyes era so far.
Only the performances of a few players, namely Rooney, Adnan and De Gea are preventing this from being a truly disastrous season. Everyone knew this was going to be tough season, and I think most United fans are willing to put up the poor results that will inevitable accompany the transition from Sir Alex, but there doesn't appear to me any signs that progress is being made at all. Performances and results have regressed majorly, but without any hint that this is down to a new playing philosophy. I still think he should be given time to see if him and his staff can grow into their jobs, but at the moment I have very little confidence that he can (a) come up with a new and exciting playing philosophy to help the club progress and compete with the best (b) find the right players to help him implement this philosophy or (c) inspire and motivate the current players to overachieve as Sir Alex did
...1. Even though the players need to be blamed for their performances, but most of the blame should be pointed at the management. This is the same team which cantered to the title last season, but are now looking rank average. It is usually said that the football teams usually reflect their managers - while Fergies United had swagger and certain arrogance about them and were relentless in the pursuit of victory, Moyes's United looks confused and direction-less.The only attacking option for united was Valencia, whose crossing was abysmal to say the least. United were bereft of any creativity and urgency and it took 2 goals for them to actually try something different.
2. Moyes and his grandfather should have realized by now that shifting Valencia to Right back should never be option. He has a defensive nous of a donkey and has already cost United atleast 4 points (he had similarly lost his man for the Everton goal).
3. Hugo Lloris is a liability for Spurs and its a pity United did not test him more. He might be a good shot stopper, but his tendency to continuously scamper off the line is suicidal to say the least, and a better team or a stronger referee would have punished him for the numerous mistakes he made.
4. Is Howard Webb the most overrated referee in the premier league.Even though it is not a barometer of his performances, but the stat that he has not produced a single Red Card and has not given a single penalty this season is rather telling. Either all the games he has refereed been really docile affairs or he doesnt have the bottle to make big decisions (De Jong's Kung Fu Kick in the WC Final! the biggest example). He might look tough , but looks like his is just a tough looking weak guy.
5. With the title now definitely out of reach, even fourth place now looks very very tough. And with this kind of track record, it is highly unlikely that any player of substance would be keen to sign for Moyes. Leighton Baines is the best Moyes might do.
6. Fergie has made some horrendous signings - Djemba Djemba, Bellion, Bebe, Kleberson, Anderson (can he be added in this list now) etc, but Moyes is his worst signing, as the others atleast did not have a direct negative impact on the title. Moyes has successfully converted the Champions to a laughing stock with his plain dumb press conferences, poor decision making (overhauling back room staff, playing injured Van Persie etc) , poor tactics etc. His career might have progressed, but he is definitely taking United backwards. How long will this charade last? Fergie was a winner before he joined United, what does Moyes know about winning to inspire his players?
Moyes, smirking, smiling, has just said we played very well. I think he has gone senile. I think my head is about to explode.
We just have to try and win the next game, he says. It's just not the right attitude.
We NEED to win the next game. We did NOT play well at all.
It Was United's Fault
When your players try to con the ref by diving twice in a game (as they have been doing in many games this season), can you blame the ref for doubting a legitimate penalty appeal?
Ted (Does any other team in the league have more SERIAL divers than United - Young, Rooney, Nani, Welbeck, Januzaj, Hernandez?)
The Treatment Of Januzaj
His treatment over the past few weeks is one of the big reasons the world best players prefer Spain or other leagues to the Premier League.
We can talk about weather, culture, history or whatever you like, but if the world's most talented youngsters can't produce what they're capable of because less talented lumps are allowed to spend 90 minutes kicking the arses off them up and down the field, they are going to start looking elsewhere.
I sometimes marvel at just how thick the English football masses are. they glory in the no-nonsense, hard-tackling, "get rid" enforcer at the back or in midfield, right from early age football to the top. Then they wonder why they can't produce technically gifted players like Spain, Brazil, Belgium, Argentina or Holland. Newsflash guys, it's because of fellas like Silva, Neymar, Januzaj, Messi or Robben had spent the first decade of their footballing lives listening to neanderthals being praised for landing them on their arses, it's highly unlikely they'd still be playing football today. It's even less likely they'd have been able to develop to the standards they have reached.
What's even more ludicrous, is that people still wonder why English football cannot compete on the international stage, despite having resources superior to almost any other footballing nation. Well if your system is based around the tough-tackling, no-nonsense, less-talented, "have it" style player, and you're playing against the more skilful, technically advanced, "let's actually play football" style player, and you're playing under referees who have been raised to appreciate football, skill and technique as opposed to rough housing and bullying, what do you think is going to happen?
The Right Side
The biggest problem United face with the current set of injuries is the right flank of the team. From the last few games, it is clear that when Rafael is injured - United just do not have enough quality to replace him. Smalling is not a natural right back and from the look of things will never be. Jones offers more but he's been brilliant in his role in the centre of the park and it would be better if he continues there.
This tactic of pushing Valencia back and bringing on another winger to attack has to stop. It is more of a risk as United have found out with defeats to Everton and Spurs. Valencia is not a natural right back and will not have the focus or the concentration to pick his man up. He was at fault for Oviedo's goal and again for Eriksen's goal yesterday. He should be blamed but Moyes should shoulder the bigger share for this ridiculous tactic. Fergie started it but back then - the attack was different. Nani and Valencia were both in form and two speedy wingers down the same flank was too much for even Ashley Cole. And United were stronger and had that aura about them that made opponents respect them. Now, shunting Valencia to right back is an invitation for opponent teams to load their left wing and attack him.
The centre midfield continues to play in their default missing man formation. At one point in the first half, a Spurs attack saw four players running at the back four for United with not a single midfielder in the frame to track Dembele or Capoue. The first one to reach back was a charging Rooney.
If Rafael is injured - we need to look at options. Fabio would still be a better fit but not Valencia please. His crossing is pathetic and very few actually find any sort of target in the box. Stanger's point about United's reliance on crosses is true but Januzaj showed why they are lethal with that style of play. With a good delivery, United have the strikers needed to finish them off. But Valencia is nowhere close to that sort of delivery.
Nobody Is Hot For United
"The rain falls hard on a humdrum town
this town has dragged you down
oh the rain falls hard on a humdrum town
this town has dragged you down..."
As I sat watching yet another insipid display by a very poor Utd side, I couldn't help but think of Morrissey weeping into his eggnog and reciting the above from one of his more optimistic tunes.
Someone must put Mr Moyes out of our misery, and quick. Which potential inspirational signing would look at this current side and its manager and think ?, " fark, I'm hot for that UTD side!"
Let me answer that one for you, NOBODY. You see the problem is that in handing the red ship lollipop over to a bland, cardigan-wearing, school teacher, the result is a bland, cardigan-wearing team; no creativity, no vision and no tactical nous. Until such time as Moyes takes his packed lunch and goes UTD will continue to be outplayed by more imaginative teams; and a lot of those are below them.
Well I know who won't be going to Brazil. You can put the sun tan lotion back in the medicine cabinet and the towel right back where it belongs in the linen closet, Mr. Webb, because you're spending summer at home.
He has been utterly embarrassing these past few weeks. His hesitance to back his judgement is so obvious he won't even make the easiest decision any referee would ever have to make.
For example, said easiest decision presented itself late in the game when Spurs' Harry Kane booted the ball into row T of the Alex Ferguson stand following a blatant foul which had been swiftly decreed as such by Mr. Webb. The referee did nothing. Nothing at all. That is a yellow card every second of every day of the week. But not according to this Howard Webb. I use this almost insignificant instance because its as cut and dry a call as anything you'll ever see.
This Webb books Januzaj for a dive, more on him later, but doesn't have quite the same mettle or conviction when Welbeck and Young are felled in the box. Pardon me for being so black and white in a game of grey, but either they were fouled or they dived.
This says nothing of the shambles Webb cast his eye over at Stamford Bridge last week, but is yet another big ticket fixture the Premier League's supposed top man bottled.
Full credit to Spurs, they came to slow the game down, absorb pressure, attack on the counter and, hopefully, nick something. Which they did. Can't dispute their tactics, because they won the day. They were frustrating, sure, but winners write the history books.
The only saving grace for United was the star turn of young Adnan Januzaj. To have every attack channelled through him in the second half, the weight and burden of that sort of expectation having crushed older and more experienced players many times over, and to lift the stadium and his teammates was magnificent.
Wilshere > Ozil?
Does Jack Wilshere have more talent than Mesut Ozil? I know it was his birthday yesterday and he wanted to perform well, but he was on another level. I haven't seen an Arsenal Ozil put in a performance even close to the one Wilshere put in last night. He caught my attention last night, hopefully he'll get Ozil's too.
Ahsan, Arsenal, USA
New Year Thoughts
1. Wow, didn't expect Jose to openly admit Oscar dived. Full credit for not being hypocritical on the diving issue! At the same time, for being clear on the situation by not condemning Oscar either.. AVB must learn the art of man management from his mentor..
2. Brilliant start for Nando on new year.. Felt that he is playing his best this season in a Chelsea shirt. Pity the goals have not come for his performances and hopefully more to come.
3. As much as I love Mata, its difficult to question Jose's substitutions in the game.. Oscar and Willian in particular added a yard of pace and spark in the game.. Willian is justifying his transfer fee with his performances - suddenly he looks a frightening player
4. Talking about Willian, as someone wrote early in the season, he is not a regular goal scorer but scorer of great goals. Touche! Did I mention his work rate was magnificient? Wonder what Spurs/Liverpool fans have to say about him now...
5. What next for Juan of Mata? I would love him to prove a point to Jose by staying put and performing what Jose wants.. But if he wants a move I'll understand. A lovely player who would start in any starting XI in the division at ease.. Hopefully if he leaves it is for foreign shores...
6. On Spurs game - my god never witnessed such a dull man united team in my 10+ years of following EPL.. They always had a grit and cunning about them when they were playing bad but this team has no creativity or flair anywhere..
7. And the grit seems to have vanished too... Teams can now take them apart if need be.. Alright they had the ball a lot.. But barring a few first half mins and a few mins after their only goal, they were pathetic to watch..
8. And David - defending Ashley Young, really?? It may not be a blatant dive but not a clear penalty either.. Young made maximum out of a nothing challenge.. Those who say English football has a no diving culture - Ashley young is the mascot! A disgusting player..
9. Januzaj looks like a beast in a child's body.. Wonderful player (hopefully he cuts out the play acting)..
10. Rooney was a pedestrian for the full game barring a touch or two.. Wonder if his mileage for the season is over..
Aravind, CFC, Chennai
An Underwater Wednesday In Luton
Should a wet Tuesday night in Stoke now be changed to an underwater Wednesday afternoon in Luton?
Anyone who didn't catch the "game" on TV today should try and see some highlights on Youtube or similar if they're in need of a good laugh. The pitch was utterly unplayable with the ball refusing to go further than five yards before nestling in a small pond and requiring a mighty hoof to relinquish it. I'm pretty sure Klinsmann could have started at one end of the pitch and slid all the way to WHL.
As someone who is often shocked by the level of poor (and sometimes simply incompetent) refereeing in the Premiership, never fear; it's reflected right down at the other end of English football.
Greg Benham, AFC
On Micky Owen And Lions
A couple of classics from Mickey Owen during the Man U vs Spurs game:
1) "Adebayor's strong, has pace and skill, and Spurs just don't have that at the moment...." Anyone else notice a fault in Owen's logic there?
2) "Januzaj's as brave as a Lion there..." Now I'm sorry for being a Picky Peter but don't Lions just spend all day sleeping on the Plains of Africa because they have no natural enemies and therefore have no need to be brave ever. Mongoose fight with Cobras! That's brave!
Now I don't mean to pick on Owen but....yeah I do actually. Sorry.
Stephen, THFC (Happy New Year all)
Has anyone else noticed the virtually every single throw-in this season has been a foul throw?! It seems to me that referees are given rules to focus on (eg the six second rule for goalkeepers to hold on to the ball from a few years back) which are strictly enforced for about two months then totally forgotten about.
I think a clamp down on foul throws is in short order because it's becoming a bit of a joke.
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire
Just a quick message to the Spurs fans at Old Trafford who were singing "You're getting sacked in the morning" to David Moyes. If you really want to taunt us Man Utd fans I would suggest switching to "You'll still have a job in the morning".
Bill Handley, Gloucester