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Rashford: Really not that great
I’m going to p*** on the parade a bit here and say that I’m really not that convinced by Marcus Rashford. Now first of all I know he’s 18, but on Friday he was actually pretty poor and I was surprised by the description of his performance in your ratings section. I mean I knew the papers and Glenn Hoddle would go mental over him because he’s a great story and Hoddle’s a bit stupid but normally you guys give fairly accurate analysis of performance. I think you were way off with Rashford.
When players break in at a young age we usually watch them with rose-tinted specs because we want them to do well. Every productive thing they do is brilliant and everything that isn’t so great we tend to downplay or even forget. It’s part of the human condition, if we want to see things, we subconsciously forget the negative evidence. Rashford, if you analyse his performance objectively, did not look up to scratch. At all. His touch let him down a few times, he lost the ball, wasted good opportunities and his decision-making was questionable on a number of occasions. He is not a gifted technician, he’s not super quick or great with the ball at his feet and despite the fact that he does seem calm and effective in front of goal, to me he looked way out of his depth and a yard off the pace.
Now I know he scored, despite the spawny finish, and at his age that is nothing to be sniffed at. And that is not to suggest that he can’t become a great player and potentially there is something to be said for bringing along a wildcard full of confidence. But Roy has to analyse how likely he is to score again and that can only be based on his quality at this exact moment. The Euros is in a few weeks. To me he is fairly obviously a long long way behind Daniel Sturridge in terms of footballing ability. Basically what I’m saying is I don’t believe the hype and that similar situations happen every few years (yes I know he set a record). I think that there is a strong chance he’ll move from Utd to a much smaller club having not made the grade at some point and we’ll be utterly baffled as to how he nearly made it into a Euros squad at the age of 18.
…Okay, I’m going to say it…it’s hard not to like Marcus Rashford but I don’t think he’s actually very good. Poor touch, indecisive, lacks acceleration and not a natural goalscorer. Touch of the Franny Jeffers in my opinion.
Could Barkley or Lallana miss out?
When Roy first announced his squad of 26, those of us that closely follow F365’s Euros Ladder didn’t get any surprises. We all saw the squad and expected Delph, Drinkwater and Rashford to be cut if everybody was fit. The only thing worth talking about was that Jagielka was missing, Roy having decided that Dier as CB cover was a better option than Stones as RB cover.
Anyway, despite all the talk of Roy ‘including six strikers’, this was very much a 4-3-3 squad. After the three discards, we’d have ended up with three central strikers (Kane, Rooney, Sturridge), four wide men (Welbeck, Lallana, Sterling and, yes, Vardy), six midfielders, seven defenders and six keepers.
When Welbeck was injured, it made perfect sense to replace him with Townsend. We were replacing a wide man with a wide man.
But in the last two games, we’ve learned a few things. We work better in a diamond formation than in a 4-3-3. Vardy’s no good out wide. And we can’t ‘reclassify’ him as central by picking Rashford over Sturridge and putting Rashford out wide – he looks wasted out there too.
So maybe we should be switching to the diamond formation and picking a squad that fits with that formation. What does that mean for who gets left out?
Well, the three keepers and seven defenders are safe. For the furthest back three midfielders, assuming Delph is unfit, we have no choice: we have to go with Dier, Drinkwater, Henderson, Wilshere, Milner and (unfortunately given his attacking prowess) Alli. I expect us to start with Vardy and Kane up front and Rooney at the head of the diamond. That leaves room for four more players. Rashford and Sturridge would go as cover for the two strikers: that leaves two vacancies in the squad. After his performances in qualifying and against Australia, Sterling (despite not fitting perfectly into the formation) must go as the joker, taking the extra space in the squad freed up by only taking seven defenders. Which leaves Barkley and Lallana battling over the role of cover for Rooney and Townsend as one very unlucky guy (who needs two wingers in a diamond squad?).
So there you go. Drinkwater and Sturridge could be shock inclusions, Townsend and either Barkley or Lallana shock exclusions. I’d be interested to hear Winty’s thoughts on the potential rebalancing to a different formation.
And kudos to Ian Wright last night for being the first to suggest that Barkley might not make it.
What is Sterling for?
I’m not going to mention how awful England were.
Or how we might not make it out of the group with that defence.
Or how that 4-4-2 formation with three Hendersons in midifeld made Australia look cultured.
What I will say is Townsend should be in the squad ahead of Sterling. Hell Phil Neville should.
Your running joke of how Milner was useful like a, I dunno, a shoe horn.
What the hell is Raheem good for, I actively feel myself becoming hungover when I’m watching him.
Sean (at that rate I’m worth £1 mill at least. I’d use it to prevent Glenn Hoddle ever commenting again)
Just one conclusion
Pepe is the biggest knob in football.
Matt Wright, Gunner in Aus
16 conclusions on the final
Just in from a tragic night which commenced with four of us in Madrid’s only authentic Irish bar (Triskel Tavern; I don’t own it or gain anything financially from this plug, but you should really go if you’re in town) to watch our communal adopted club Wednesday get beat in the play-off final. Bad start.
Went over to the Barclaycard Center (quite famous financial institution, plug unnecessary, venue didn’t sell booze to everyone’s dismay; was that UEFA?) to watch the final with 15000 or so Atleti fans.
– Torres is never particularly good when the team are desperate, he’s valuable in the regular approach, but once they’re searching he cuts a frustrated figure.
– Griezmann wasn’t at the races. Love the guy but it was a terrible performance.
– Saúl and Koke unusually wasteful in possession but masters of harrowing. Made for scrappy stuff in the middle.
– Gabi immense. I didn’t see the km covered stats from the game, and whoscored might prove me wrong, but that withered looking man gets round like a whippersnapper.
– Pepe is a horrible human being.
– So is Sergio Ramos. At the time I thought it was a red, now I see that was partisanship getting the better of me…but is a 2/3 on 3 really much different from a one-on-one? If it were the latter, he’d have been sent off, especially for an erratic scissor tackle rather than the pulling back you normally see in that situation.
– Cristiano Ronaldo is one of those players who you have to accept for who he is. A lot of hate for him in the arena afterwards, but much like Simeone, he’s the villain who knows he’s an arse, and is terrific for it. Which other player in world football would you have been as certain the shootout was over if they were stepping up?
– Carrasco was absolutely unreal and will only get better.
– It’s a real shame Jackson was sold without a replacement being bought. You can understand the board’s thinking at the time, but that might well have cost Atleti the Champions League.
– Clattenburg is so annoying with his chummy stuff – laughing with a player who arguably should’ve been sent off and who scored a clearly offside goal isn’t on. The faces he pulls are so cringy. I feel for refs, we give them far too much abuse, but Mark makes my skin crawl.
– Zidane is a real class act; never has there been such a great player, and apparently manager, so humble. A really interesting and nice guy to hear speak, his embarrassment over his very good Spanish is great.
– Simeone too: what an influence. As mentioned, often portrayed as the baddie, but an amazing guy to have on the touchline. Lifted fans in the arena emphatically, I can only imagine what it was like for players/fans in the San Siro.
– The space afforded to Bale/Carvajal/whoever decided to have a wander down the right side for Real in the first half was unacceptable. Griezmann leaving Luis open from what I could gather, although perhaps linked to a tactical overlook. Amended later on though.
– Luis was absolutely exceptional, shame he had to go off…but how exactly did it not work at Chelsea? Really confusing.
– Feel so sorry for Juanfran, the last person you want that to happen to, but what the hell was Oblak doing? MoM until the shootout, seemed like the occasion got to him, Bale’s penalty in particular was blatant in where it was going and he still somehow got fooled/barely moved.
– Has there ever been a more sickening fate in footballing history? Losing to your rival twice in three years in the CL final, once via a 93rd minute equaliser then extra time collapse, the other when you stalwart misses the penultimate pen and the opposition’s star, a man everybody hates, scores the winner. Atleti are owed their first trophy in the competition. Let’s hope that’s next season, but Simeone sounds like he may leave…Stoke?
That was probably the worst goalkeeping performance I have ever witnessed during a penalty shootout . For half the penalties Oblak literally stood rooted to the spot completely motionless as he desperately watched the ball fly past him. On the odd occasion he did attempt to make a save he just fell to the floor in an awkward and clumsy manner. Very bizarre.
Shush with the whole Good v Evil thing
So after watching my team Real Madrid lift the ‘big ears’, I couldn’t help but notice the entire interwebz is aghast that the Evil team beat the Good team yadda yadda yadda. Now what exactly are they basing it on?
I understand that the financial clout of Real is 10 times more then Atleti and everyone loves a good underdog story but have you ever seen the way Atletico play football under Simeone? There’s nothing inherently good about it.
Real are no saints as Pepe demonstrated yesterday but let’s get over this whole Good vs Evil thingy.
Sridhar (DillyDing DillyDong) Iyer, Bangalore
Why does Ronaldo get the credit?
First of all, Pepe is an embarrassment. I have no respect for that player on any level. He is all that is wrong with football. Besides being dangerous and quite the savage, he simulates being smacked like there is no tomorrow. Ironic considering it is the only thing one would like to do to him when they see him play…
Which leads me to my next point; Well done Clattenburg for knowing what kind of player Pepe is. Basically telling the guy to f*ck off twice. Second time actually laughing it off. Great refereeing overall.
Finally, why is everyone praising Ronaldo like he is some sort of savior who came down from the heavens and won them the final? The man did nothing of note the entire game. Nothing. He was invisible and when he wasn’t he barely brought anything to the game, yet scores his penalty (like everyone else did in his team) and everyone reacts like they won that title all thanks to him. It’s sad to watch and I feel sorry for the entire Real Madrid team (except Pepe). I don’t understand how he deserves more praise than anyone else on the team, but then again he is more of a brand than an athlete, so I guess this reaction and praise comes with who he is. It is inevitable.
Malcolm (well done to Atletico) AFC
Are Premier League managers too old?
I wrote this after noticing that three of the four managers in the Champions League semi-finals played football in the same generation. So I did some digging and found out that the average age of the managers in the Premier League last season was 51.2.
Compare that to the average age of managers in Spain: 45.4 and Germany: 43.7222. (numbers courtesy of Wikipedia and my adding skills).
Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons Spanish, German and a few other clubs from other countries other than England have been doing better in Europe of late, despite the Premier League’s competitiveness, is the transition to young, fresh coaches with fresh tactics.
English clubs are dancing with coaches with ‘philosophies’ that may have worked in the 90s but my oh my, times have and are still changing, fast. Blackberry makers (read Arsenal/Liverpool) can testify how ignoring such change comes back to bite you!
PS: If any mailbox reader disagrees, let’s hear your explanation.
Patrick, (I’m not funny enough for this one) Boston