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Unofficial Weekly Awards
Premier League Player of the Week – Pascal Gross.
Because I am not a child, I am able to acknowledge when my team’s main rivals have played well. Peter Goldstein will tell you more about how Albion played, but Gross bagged a brace as his side secured a first top flight win since before I was born.
Football League Player of the Week – George Smith
Whether or not the new manager bounce is actually real is up for debate, but what cannot be denied is that players with someone to impress tend to make more of an effort. Seconds into Northampton Town’s game against Doncaster Rovers, Smith got on his horse to latch on to a long pass, before setting up Matt Crooks for a simple finish, securing victory in Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink’s first game in charge.
European Player of the Week – Kylian Mbappe. In two games this week, against Metz and Celtic, PSG have scored ten goals: Edinson Cavani has four, and Neymar and Mbappe have two each, with Lucas Moura and Own Goal rounding things off. Mbappe gets the nod because he still has the potential for second season syndrome hanging over him, and yet in the early stages of the season, looks entirely comfortable and then some with the increased pressure and expectation on him.
Best Goal – Leroy Sane.
His second goal against Liverpool was a fantastically emphatic way to cap a team performance that will still be talked about at the end of the season.
Best Pass – Chung-yong Lee
Is that a cheap shot? He put it on a plate for Chris Wood.
Best Tactical Move – Arsene Wenger
A 3-0 win for the Arsenal over an ailing Bournemouth does not necessarily deserve lavish praise, but by the same token, Wenger made the sort of bold call he made a habit of avoiding by electing to start Danny Welbeck ahead of Alexis Sanchez. The Englishman scored twice to put the game to bed after just 50 minutes, either side of a goal by strike partner Alexandre Lacazette.
Worst Tactical Move – Tony Pulis
WBA lined up against Brighton & Hove with Gareth Barry as their most advanced midfielder. It went every bit as well as that suggests.
Premier League Loanee of the Week – Cameron Carter-Vickers
One of the things that makes the Championship so compelling for neutrals is that no one seems to stand still – a run of consecutive wins or defeats can seriously alter your league position. Sheffield United ground out a 1-0 win away at Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday night, thanks to Hotspur loanee Carter-Vickers. The Blades have won four in a row and are now third in the table.
Captain of the Week – Jamaal Lascelles
A leader on the field at both ends of the pitch, and in the sense of being willing to stand up and be counted, including calling out more established players.
Owner of the Week – Patrick Cryne
The BBC have published the open letter from Cryne to Barnsley fans, in which he discusses his terminal illness.
Dick Move – Sadio Mane.
This award should really go to anyone and everyone trying to justify his challenge or protest his innocence. It looked bad in real time, it looked worse in slow motion, and worse still when the photos of Ederson’s face covered in stitches emerged. A raised boot is punished because it is often an attempt to intimidate an opponent, and make them back out of a challenge for fear of getting hurt, even though logic points to it being very difficult to control a ball while jumping that high off the ground and with your foot at that angle – if it was natural or sensible to play the ball this way, then players would do it when they weren’t in competition for possession with an opponent.
Worst punditry of the week – ‘Granted, a hairstyle is not going to determine how well he can control a ball or make a pass, but it does say something about where his mind is at the moment. If you are going to attract attention to yourself on a football pitch do it with goals and performances, not cheap gimmicks and marketing tricks.’
Safe to say few of us gave two sh!ts about Paul Pogba’s hair before Garth Crooks mentioned it as justification for picking Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting in his Team of the Week. People complain like hell about players being bland and lacking “character”, and yet as soon as someone visits a barber and spends more than £15 on a haircut that isn’t simply a short back and sides, it’s immediately seen as a negative and brought into all discussions of their playing ability.
Ice Hockey Numerology of the Week – Number 4, Bobby Orr, is this writer’s pick as the NHL’s greatest player of all time, and is the only defenceman to finish as the league’s top scorer (he did it twice). Two other great defencemen, Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey, wore 77. Frank de Boer departed Crystal Palace after 4 games and 77 days, in which his team neither defended nor attacked with anything remotely resembling greatness.
Dembele of the Week – Ousmane Dembele. His assist for Barcelona wins him the nod.
Compiler of the Week – Ed Quoththeraven
Interesting seeing the Man United ladder in this morning’s inbox so I thought I’d have a go at the Liverpool ladder. Definitely highlights the need for defensive reinforcements but here you go…
1) Roberto Firmino
2) Sadio Mane
3) Adam Lallana
4) Mohammed Salah
5) Philippe Coutinho
6) Emre Can
7) Joel Matip
8) Jordan Henderson
9) Gini Wijnaldum
10) Nathaniel Clyne
11) Simon Mignolet
12) Joe Gomez
13) James Milner
14) Dejan Lovren
15) Daniel Sturridge
16) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
17) Trent Alexander-Arnold
18) Dominic Solanke
19) Alberto Moreno
20) Ragnor Klavan
21) Andy Robertson
22) Loris Karius
23) Ben Woodburn
24) Marko Grujic
25) Danny Ings
26) Jon Flanagan
Absolutely anybody but Phil Neville
…1. Sadio Mane
2. Roberto Firmino
3. Adam Lallana
4. Joel Matip
5. Phillipe Coutinho
6. Jordan Henderson
7. Mohamed Salah
8. Emre Can
9. Simon Mignolet (make your mind up Jurgen)
10. Nathaniel Clyne
11. Dejan Lovren
12. Gini Wijnaldum
13. Alberto Moreno (seriously)
14. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
15. James Milner
16. Trent Alexander-Arnold
17. Daniel Sturridge
18. Joe Gomez
19. Loris Karius
20. Andrew Robertson
21. Ben Woodburn
22. Ragnar Klavan
23. Dominic Solanke
24. Marko Grujic
25. Danny Ings
(My word we are ‘attack heavy’ in the strength of our squad)
Ivan, LFC, St Albans
Anger about Roy
Forgive my bias, but what the **** are Crystal Palace doing?
Roy Hodgson is unquestionably the worst Liverpool manager in the last 50 years or more. End of.
He is also, arguably, the worst England manager in the last 50 years or more. And I include McClaren in that.
So how does this qualify you for anything other than the back of the unemployment line?
Sure Palace have made a shocking start and De Boer clearly didn’t fit in. So you cut your losses, fair enough.
But try someone, anyone else! Grab a promising fella from the Championship. A foreign lad that makes Merson throw his dummy out of the pram yet again. Some random geezer handy with google translate, why not?
Not that arrogant ,clueless, dull as as ditchwater, overpaid perennial underachieving a******e.
Because he will fail. Slowly and painfully. As he always has.
James, Liverpool ( I don’t like Roy Hodgson much – I know you’re shocked)
(Except, well, he hasn’t failed when managing clubs the size of Palace like West Brom and Fulham. He would be a bad choice to take over at Tottenham, but Palace not so much – Ed)
Questioning Neville’s advice to Liverpool
Because of all the fuss created over the sending off of Mane last Saturday I thing a very important point has been missed. Gary Neville’s advice to Liverpool was to work on getting Otamendi sent off. While I appreciate that professional sport is all/only about winning I do think that there is a responsibility on commentators to take a wider, dare I say, a sporting view of matters being mindful of the audience and aware of influences they may have. I find it slightly upsetting that commentators like Neville will promote all means, fair and foul, to get an advantage but will cry foul and complain bitterly when things do not go their way. What an example.
And then there’s Souness…
Can someone please explain the general appreciation for Graeme Souness as a pundit? Whenever people discuss excellent punditry his name always pops up yet I’ve always failed to see the appeal. Take this nugget from last night as an example. “Felliani is a bigger threat than Pogba and is more effective.” After Pogba’s electric start to the season which has resulted in United sitting on top of the table this statement is laughably incorrect. In my opinion his incompetence as a manager is only matched by his punditry and the sooner he takes the Dancing On Ice gig that his shtick has been crying out for the better for all concerned. And I’ve no doubt he’ll be rubbish at that as well.
Rashford not so ridiculous
Pouring over the ridiculous statistics of Marcus Rashford, one thing stood out, they aren’t really that ridiculous.
I will say that he is a brilliant young player, and his record of debut goals is an awesome achievement. He’s already developing into an all-round great player and has a great future ahead of him.
But the amount of hype is also pretty huge and the stats just outline that while he’s good, and could be great, he’s not quite the new Ronaldo/Owen (or any of the other stars he’s been compared to).
Out of all the statistics mentioned in the article, the only one which really stands out is most Premier League goals for United as a teenager.
Most of these statistics are instead, Rashford is the second/third or the runner up in a given category.
Also, four trophies? Are we seriously counting the Community Shield?
This has probably come across as far harsher than I meant, he’s still an outstanding young prospect, but do we really need the hyperbole, when he’s not quite hyperbolic?
The Proud Shepherd of this herd of Sharks
(PS. not sure that last sentence made sense)
(PPPS. Due to my age, I didn’t realise how unbelievable Owen was when he broke onto the scene, I imagine the statistics for the early part of his career must’ve been insane)
…Looking at the stats for Rashford it is clear he is talented. But what is even more clear is just how talented Michael Owen and Robbie fowler were. Throw Rooney in the mix and that Mersey area really has thrown up some amazing young forwards.
The usual complaint
I thought I’d point out that Chelsea and Celtic indeed played in Europe last night as well as Man Utd.
This seems to be something that seems to have been forgotten given how little coverage you afforded these clubs at the expense of saturation coverage on Man Utd.
Perhaps you should change you name to Man Utd 365.
Ian C (neutral supporter btw)
As a change of direction from the European flavour of this midweek, I thought I’d give you all the benefit of my experiences as a West Brom fan in Brighton last weekend instead.
My day began at 7am with three mates meeting up at Birmingham’s New Street station, which is living proof that network rail have attempted to put glitter on a t**d. Three hours, and four cans later, after a sprint through London Victoria from underground to overground, we arrived in Brighton in beautiful sunshine, and it’s still only 10:30. Down the hill to the beachfront for some food and a trip to the pier, followed by sunbathing and drinking at The Cricketers and The Evening Star on the walk back to the train station. No grief from doormen or police as we were allowed to move about town as we pleased although Wetherspoons had doormen and plastic pint pots but that’s probably not unusual for a Saturday breakfast.
Then comes the Premier League worthy experience, an actual organised football train! Barriers and queues in place for an extended football special train is not to be underestimated, and is included in the price of your match ticket. Great stuff for an away fan.
The ground itself is a lovely model, reminiscent of a mini Etihad, and although the padded seats went largely unused away fans got to sit behind the goal (this should be a football law) and the views were good from top to bottom. Strangely the ‘home end’ goal is probably the smallest stand and in contrast to the multi tiers either side of it, looks a little like a rush job.
With no rivalry between supporters the atmosphere was tepid until Brighton scored, and scored again…and again. Thankfully our fans behaved, and as far as I’m aware there was none of the homophobic nonsense audible.
Once the game was done and dusted, home and away concourses were left open (and more importantly serving) after the game. Kudos for the tasty pies and ensuring chicken tikka was the ‘guest special’ for curry connoisseurs from the black country.
Returning on a busy train even an hour and a half after the final whistle, we were able to get a few more drinks in before the jaunt back through London to a damp and dismal Birmingham.
All in all a cracking away day if you ignore the 90 minutes on the pitch, which isn’t really what away days are about anyway is it!? I’d strongly recommend a visit to the newly welcomed Premier League club.
Rusty (The poor man’s Michael Palin) Gray
Love for Portrait
Just writing in to say thank you for the latest edition of Portrait of an iconic team-Deportivo La Coruna. In the early 2000’s I was attending university and being in Trinidad, CL games came across mid-afternoon. There were many a missed classes to watch football and this team in particular.
It was the first time seeing them play all I knew about Spain was the big two (Barca were much more likable then). I was in awe of Roy Makaay, very disappointed when he left for Munich.
Anyway thank you for bringing back a memory of my fleeting youth.
Maybe one day I’ll be reminiscing about the Fellaini…
…What a great write-up on Depor. It brought me back to the days of my youth and pilliging that team when playing Championship manager.
One thing I noticed, and I’m sure others will have too, is the parallels with Leeds United. Eerily similar in rise and fall, fire sales and money drying up, except Leeds didn’t win any trophies.
Only Juan Valeron
Just wanted to share a quick missive after reading the excellent latest edition of Portrait of an Iconic Team.
In September 2015 my girlfriend and I went to Barcelona on holiday and had the chance to catch a game at the Camp Nou, not a chance I was going to turn down. The visitors that day were Las Palmas and as I sat in the stand reading my programme I noticed the name Valeron listed as one of the Las Palmas players.
Like Daniel Storey, I have fond memories of that Depor team – Roy Makaay scoring for fun and Valeron pulling the strings. I couldn’t believe that it could be the same player, all those years later, but sure enough it was. I remarked on this to my girlfriend (she wasn’t especially interested) and kept a close eye out for him.
He started on the bench (he was 40 after all) but made an appearance late in the game for what would be his final appearance at the Camp Nou. I was excited to see him play in the flesh but what I hadn’t banked on was the reception of the Barca fans. He was introduced to a standing ovation from the entire stadium and was visibly touched by the adoration. It was a really classy gesture from the Barca fans it must be said.
It was great to see such a wonderful player play in such an iconic setting and more than made up for the disappointment of Messi going off injured after just 10 minutes. An icon indeed.
Dan, Gooner in Guernsey
A question for you…
I’ve just bought tickets for Sparta Rotterdam for €7.50 each.
Does anyone know how far down the English football pyramid do you have to go for a similarly priced adult ticket?
Martin ‘ducks arse’ Ansell
Introducing Aussies to the FA Cup
You’ve been crying out for mails on different subjects , Ed, so let me tell you a bit of a story here.
When I first came over to Australia in 1972, as a young man with two mates from Manchester, on a bit of a lark, it was all Australian rules. Aussie rules dominated the TV, newspapers and pub talk. Fair enough too; it was, and still is, the national sport. But there was just no TV coverage of ‘soccer’ over here.
And then, lo and behold, a TV station that was funded by the government and was aimed specifically at European migrants came into being and, all of a sudden, there was football. You know, the proper football that didn’t have goals as big as your mother-in-law’s arse. (Hey, Griff). The station gave Australians their first taste of ‘The World Game’ and has never really looked back. They are still the go-to station for those without pay TV, if they want to watch any sort of proper football. (And, by the way, I also subscribe to two pay TV services just so I’ve got the Premiership covered on one plus all the European games, the internationals and the FA cup on the other).
Anyway, their first coverage sort of coincided with the arrival here of colour television although, in it’s very early days, colour TV was restricted to the very wealthy or the big hotels. I talked quite a few of my Aussie rules-loving mates into an ‘FA Cup Night’ to be held at the Melbourne Hilton which was chosen because I had confirmed that they had colour television. The deal with my pals was that each person would bring what they expected to drink.
Come the big night, and Mrs. Jonesey and I arrived at the hotel early to book in and carrying a huge suitcase full of bottles of various types of alcohol, just in case any of the others ran out.
Well, I signed us in but, before I could stop him, a tiny bell-boy grabbed the huge suitcase full of various types of alcohol and nearly dislocated his shoulder lifting it. He was sort of looking at me as is if his damaged clavicle and various torn tendons were somehow my fault. But it got a lot worse because the bell-boy clearly didn’t want to chat to either of us after that but I suspect his damaged, ravaged shoulder had a lot to do with it. Or maybe he was just a grump.
Anyway, there was a silence amongst the three of us as we headed for the lifts. Except for the clink, clink, clink of the suitcase full of various types of alcohol. The bell-boy had given up on me by this stage and was casting hopeful glances at Mrs. Jonesey, still hopeful of getting a tip that might just cover his medical expenses. As if! Australians rarely tip now and they most certainly didn’t then.
To cut a long, raucous, boozy story short, the night was such a success that it continued for at least another ten years. Never in the same venue, mind, because we wouldn’t have been welcomed back.
I’m not sure whether I encouraged a new generation of Aussie football fans or just another lot of Aussie drunkards.
Regarding Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide’s recent letter, I got to thinking how long I’ve been reading the wonderful Football 365 website daily. It’s actually been a little over 10 years now which is longer than any relationship or friendship I’ve ever had. Long may the love continue, thank you.