Van Gaal Wants Football Robots
It seems to me that Louis Van Gaal only wants players who are football robots. Players who are prepared to stick to his rigid instructions and plan, if you are outside of this you are gone. Di Maria, Rafael, and RvP all players who have some individuality to their play are gone (it’s somewhat surprising he signed Di Maria in the first place but I think they were just desperate for quality players).
Januzaj confined to the bench, even Mata struggled to earn LvG’s trust. Look at the amount of time Fellaini and Young have earned, because they simply stick to his instructions and nothing else.
He just wants players who follow orders and nothing more. Robots.
It doesn’t surprise me to see Rooney move up front where he can be less of a free spirit wandering and roaming about anywhere, instead he will be instructed to be a pure finisher and goalscorer, and I imagine, will excel.
Joel, not a robot, Nottingham
Give Lingard A Chance
This might seem like making a mountain out of a molehill, but I have to say that I am more than a little disappointed at the at the news that United are looking to sell Jesse Lingard to Bristol City for £2.5m. If this is indeed true and we do let him leave permanently, it represents are real blow to the future prospects of the United youth system. Having impressed highly during last year’s pre-season tour, he was given a starting berth against Swansea in the first game of the season. He suffered a long-term injury in that game and ultimately ended the season on loan at Derby, where he impressed to the point that Steve McLaren was reportedly looking to take him to Newcastle on loan this year.
Lingard also played well for a poor England at the U21 Euros, scoring the (very good) goal that kept us in with a chance of qualification, despite starting on the bench. With United having apparently rebuffed the advances of Newcastle, he was given another chance during this pre-season tour and once again impressed, scoring and playing very well against Barcelona in particular. Van Gaal himself has commented on the lack of pace, creativity and good dribblers – attributes that Lingard definitely possesses, raw though they may be, and said that only players who were going to be involved this season would be on the tour.
My point is: if we have a player who has stood out in our youth team, impressed while on loan and also for the England U21s , is it so infeasible to give him a chance in the first team squad this year? He’s the type of player we need, he’s come through our system and is an English home grown player – why write him off prematurely? If players like Lingard can’t make it at Old Trafford, are we ever going to see another product of the academy actually make it with us? It certainly doesn’t bode well for Wilson, Januzaj, Pereira, Blackett and McNair if we do move Lingard on.
I understand that some players just aren’t cut out for the first team (i.e. the vast majority of our youth system graduates), but when a seemingly worthy candidate does arrive, we always seem to let them go without having given them a real chance. I’m all for buying ready-made quality for the first team, but there is no good reason for not letting the youth have a chance when a berth becomes available.
Is Fabregas Not Knackered?
Sticking with the ‘things for Chelsea to worry about’ theme that’s making the rounds, I thought about one that was hinted at, but not quite fleshed out, in Sarah Winterburn’s excellent piece on Chelsea last week.
It struck me, in reading about Costa’s hamstrings, Terry’s age and Loic Remy’s inability to stay onside, that at merely 28 years old, Cesc Fabregas has got to have an absolute sh*t-ton of miles on the odometer. He has been a regular in club football for over 10 years, thrust in to the Arsenal first team in the season after The Invincibles. He’s been a regular for Spain, a team that usually reaches the later stages of international tournaments, for slightly less time than that. He was the youngest Spanish player in 70 years to earn his first cap (thanks Wikipedia) on his way to 97 caps total. Lo and behold, you add it up and, again according to Wikipedia, he’s made 596 appearances for club and country in a little over 10 years.
To put this in context, from a quick search on transfermarkt.com it looks like there is only one established international player (more than 50 caps), between the ages of 27-29, playing in a major European league who has recorded more appearances for his club and country: Lionel Messi (631 appearances). Joao Moutinho (563) is close. Expanding the data set, C Ronaldo has put in 743 appearances, an absolutely freakish level of output, but at least he’s 30. Rooney, Sergio Ramos and Iniesta have more, but all are older, the last by three years.
Indeed, Cesc’s appearance numbers are more typical of a player in his early 30s. He’s an absolute workhorse and that shouldn’t go without a huge amount of praise. But he breaks down in the second half of recent seasons anyway, and it has to be a major worry that it will start happening earlier and earlier as the years go by.
Excited About Liverpool
In the spirit of Daniel Storey being excited by various things today, I thought I’d write in to say how much I’m looking forward to watching Liverpool this season. Not because I’m a fan of theirs, or because I think they’ll do particularly well (or poorly), but because the contrast between the quality in their attack and defence is so bloody massive.
Benteke/Coutinho/Firminho/Lallana (not to mention Sturridge) at one end, with Mignolet, Skrtel, Sakho, and Moreno forming 4 of the back 5 can only mean one thing: goals. Lots of goals, both for and against.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that all we love games with lots of goals for both teams, so I cannot sodding wait to see how things go down on Anfield this season. If I were Degsy I’d be smashing into the overs all season long this year…
Ligue Un Is Like The SPL
Winning “everything except the Champions League” in France is, for a club with the resources of PSG, basically akin to winning “everything” in Scotland.
If Thiago Silva, Ibrahimovic et al want to sleepwalk to semi-retirement whilst filling their pockets with oil money then they can, but let’s not pretend there’s any merit in doing it. They aren’t there for the challenge are they?
They’re at the only big fish in a feeder league sized pond. PSG’s treble means about as much as Arsenal’s.
Make Football Available Anytime
When I was 23 years old, I too could go around to friends houses and to the pub whenever I pleased.
However, I’m now 41 (42 this week – all presents gratefully received) and married with young children. In order for me to go to the pub to watch games I need to negotiate with my wife which is akin to trying to buy a decent spurs player from Daniel Levy on Transfer Deadline Day. When my friends and I do manage to occasionally meet up to watch a game, our ‘bonding’ tends to consists of sitting huddled together, drinking as fast as we can (free time without kids is a precious commodity not to be wasted) and watching the football hoping the phone doesn’t ring with a come home immediately because the kids are acting the maggot.
So while I’m envious of the freedom that Ciarán enjoys and while he sees football as a social activity he can embrace whenever it suits, this isn’t the case for a lot of us. I need football to fit around my life and responsibilities, not the other way around.
Morgan ‘Earning Brownie points since 2002’ Emmett
On That Football Manager Thing
I read Axel (AFC)’s submission defending Sky’s use of Football Manager
stats to shed light on players they clearly don’t have a breeze about
with interest this morning. Not because I want to launch any kind of
tirade against FM, but because I viewed its use as part of the rising
tide of lazy journalism that has been washing over Sky’s blanket
coverage for quite some time now.
The concept of 24 hour sports news is clearly bloated and pointless,
but even in light of the need to fill nearly 1500 minutes a day,
shouldn’t we all expect a bit more actual journalism to rear its head?
I’d personally be happy enough to see a schedule filled with 90
minutes of reporting to a reasonable standard on loop, with breaking
news integrated as it currently is. There’s no need to tart news up –
just give us the facts with a smattering of informed opinion on same.
But no, we’re instead subjected to a tsunami of cheap nonsense
including inane Twitter/Instagram posts, polls asking questions that
wouldn’t look out of place in Match magazine, the Transfer Totalizer
(hiss!!) and the absolute steaming pile of sh*t that is 92Live.
Zero insight, zero analysis of any substance, zero value added. Toss
in the likes of Ray Parlour, Dwight Yorke and Tony Cascarino who never
contribute anything beyond what a 7-year-old might in terms of
opinion, and you’re rapidly approaching a perfect storm of utter
That’s not to mention the regular incidences of anchors managing to
mangle the pronunciation of them foreigns’ names, reporting of
flagrant transfer bull direct from the red tops as if it’s somehow
indicative of fact, or a myriad of other niggles I could go into.
In summary, the product we’re paying for is barely even a parody of
what it could and probably should be. When I think that my monthly
subscription also funds eye-watering salaries for both Thierry Henry
and Jamie Redknapp, I end up wiping froth from my mouth. Were it not
for Neville and Carragher (and the actual football, obviously), I’d be
within a whisker of cancelling the whole shebang.
Keith Reilly, MUFC, Dublin
On Joe Gomez
Has anyone else noticed that Liverpool have just about confirmed that Joe Gomez, the 18 year old right-footed centre-back with no top-flight experience at all, is our first choice left-back. To clarify, I mean ‘confirmed’ in the Daily Mail/Daily Star sense, in that Gomez has been talking about playing against Stoke, and has also been Rodgers’ first choice at left-back all through pre-season – except against Swindon, where Rodgers was using second-stringers and kids as well as trying to get Benteke and Firmino match fit. Moreno played that game, and made a glaring defensive error. Hmmm. In related news, Lawrenson is having a public go at Moreno – and while he’s the grumpiest man in football for no reason, he does have a point about Moreno going missing a lot.
It’s not great for the club, and it’s hopefully another nail in the coffin of the ‘transfer committee’, but it must be highly embarrassing for Moreno. Last year, he joined us as our first-choice left-back, having won the Europa League with his boyhood club. This year, he’s apparently being benched in favour of an 18 year old playing in his fourth-choice position. He can’t even defend himself against Lawrenson, because (a) club legend and (b) actual top defender – it’s not like Moreno can repeat ‘what does he know about my job? HE was a bloody striker!’ until he believes it.
I don’t have any issue with this happening to Moreno per se, assuming Gomez is the defensive beast that Football Manager thinks he is (I brought him by coincidence in a game I was playing about a week before Liverpool got him in real life, he is now 22, repeatedly capped and fully five star rated in that game), but it got me thinking, anyone else have any players who came in as obvious first choices, then were not the business and got embarrassingly replaced by a kid? Bonus points if the kid wasn’t even that good but did a far better job than the ‘first-team’ player they replaced.
Yes, I’m stil passing the time until the real football starts again.
Matt (Four sleeps!) LFC
Audi Cup Annoyance
With recent articles about pre-seaon tours and the one about Spurs being half-way to a perfect summer, I thought i’d have a little rant about Spurs participation in the Audi Cup taking place today and tomorrow.
I’d like to know whose bright idea it was to play two friendly matches against CL quality teams in two days, three days ahead of an away lunchtime kick-off at Man U! Looking at the squad for it we’ve taken one striker, Kane, if he ends up injured in either game then we’re boned really. The other teams in this little tournament don’t start their seasons for a couple of weeks, meaning they can play much stronger sides than Spurs who will be looking not to tire anyone out or get injuries, meaning thrashings are on the cards (although they probably were regardless!). Not exactly morale boosting or brand enhancing… Did they not actually look at the fixtures for the forthcoming season and realise it was all starting a week earlier than usual?
As for our strikers, Poch has now said Soldado is still part of his plans, but as he’s not played at all all pre-season that seems somewhat difficult to believe, and Ade is, well, Ade, so who the hell knows what he’s doing now… How has this been allowed to happen? Rather than congratulating Spurs on a job half well done, serious questions should really be being asked instead. Its been clear that Soldado and Ade aren’t really part of our future plans, that we’ve brought no-one in to help out Kane yet is disgraceful.
I apologise to my fellow Spurs fans for what is a surprisingly (for me anyway) negative missive, i’m usually dead excited before the start of a season!
…I appreciate that tonight’s game versus Real Madrid is a preseason friendly. I don’t appreciate the fact that they seem to snap up our best players. So, just for tonight, I want our stars to flop.
Even in a friendly, it’s an opportunity for the likes of Eriksen, Kane and even Lloris (if he’s recovered from wrist break) to show what they can do.
Eriksen – Still only 23 and continues to improve slowly. He has the ability to control a game on his day. If he steps up another level he’ll be right up there with the best playmakers in the world. Looks up to Michael Laudrup, the Danish legend who starred for both Barca and Madrid.
Lloris – Okay, admittedly it looks like Madrid are set on De Gea. However, Lloris would be a cheaper and arguably safer option. Again, he’s right up there in the top 5 or 6 keepers in the world so you never know what could happen. (with De Gea, Courtois, Neuer, Cech)
Kane – chain him to the gates of White Hart Lane and throw away the key. If he follows up on last season with another 25-30+ goals then inevitably the Madrids of this world will pester. Can only hope that he’s one of those loyal players who are chasing a statue rather than a pay cheque (/Champions League medal).
My verdict. Eriksen will star, Lloris will mould into a brick wall, Kane hattrick. Madrid confirm their shopping list for January window.
Inevitable verdict. Eriksen will go missing, Madrid will win 4-1, Kane still scores. Madrid buy Kane, whilst Soldado becomes our lone striker.
Ryan (Please Spurs do ‘a Spurs’ tonight) THFC
It’s From Happy Days
What does ‘jumping the shark’ actually mean ‘Murica365?
You are English for the sake of Pete! By jingo, if I ever see you use that other annoying American idiom ‘thrown under the bus’ I shall storm your office and pelt the writer responsible with scones and Union Jacks!
Hulmy (idle threat), Stoke