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He really is special and needs to play every game. I don’t understand why he is always having to prove himself… he’s ready!
Man United conclusions
1. Jose might be in favour of scrapping the League Cup, but I am most certainly not. It is now and always has been my favourite competition for many reasons, which I have mentioned previously. However, I would say that one way of revitalising the FA Cup would be to apply some of the League Cup ethos to it: no replays, two-legged semi finals that are not hosted at Wembley, and a more urgent fixture schedule. The worst thing about the FA Cup is it’s lack of momentum; it seems to be an age in between each round and by the time the next game comes around you’ve lost your enthusiasm and it seems more like a distraction. But don’t let’s get rid of the League Cup, please.
2. To me, Rashford looks much better playing as a central striker as it seems to suit his natural game better: his positioning is good, his instinctive finishing is excellent, and he isn’t required to bring teammates into play as much. That is one area of his game that could be improved, as he can be a bit greedy and end up losing the ball in good positions when out wide. If we’d managed to sign Perisic, it would have likely been between him and Martial for the left positions, and Lukaku and Rashford for the centre, so I wonder if that’s why we brought Zlatan back.
3. Lindelof had another pretty good 88 minutes’ worth of football, but again had a couple of brainfart moments that show he’s just not quite up to speed yet. I dare say it would be fine playing him against top-end Premier League opposition, but those types of mistakes are the difference between keeping clean sheets and not, so I can see why he’s being used sparingly for now.
4. Speaking of conceding, I was very disappointed that we did so last night. I thought the decision to bring on Pereira was a bad one all round. Romero looked visibly disappointed to be coming off, and Pereira was coming into a dead-rubber period of the game where Burton had absolutely nothing to lose, so could throw more men forward. He clearly wasn’t game-ready either, based on hi attempted save of the shot before the goal, so now he is the ‘keeper who ruined the run of clean sheets at home – what’s that going to do for his confidence or reputation?
5. If anyone was going to get their goal, I was glad it was Lloyd Dyer. He had a fantastic game and worked his arse off – he fully deserved to score.
6. More worringly, he made Darmian looked pretty average. I’m not quite sure how he’s still a part of this squad – he’s not good enough at either full-back position and would be at least third choice for both position. Probably time to move on.
7. Martial was again superb. He looks to be back to his old self and confident enough to take on defenders – and more importantly beat them – on a regular basis. He is going to be really important to our chances of success this year.
8. Considering Carrick hadn’t played a single minute before last night, you would have sworn he’d never been away. Instantly up to speed and at his best, he put in an excellent contribution in the middle. He might not play loads this season, but it’s reassuring to know know that we can rely on him when he does.
…1) majorly rotated starting eleven, with the stand-ins impressing (especially Herrera, Carrick and the front three)
2) Mata rested early for the game on Saturday, and Shaw getting minutes on the pitch.
3) Another clean sheet for the second best keeper in Manchester.
4) Quick passing movements, creative play and a plethora of chances created (it was only Burton, we know).
A lot of things to be positive about as a United fan! Hopefully we can continue the good start on Saturday.
Kel, MUFC (step by step)
The League Cup helps nobody
I came across an interesting stat yesterday. Of the 92 managers currently in charge of Football league teams, only Jose Mourinho has won the league cup (four times). To me, that illustrates two things:
1) Winning the league cup does not keep you in the job; it does not even get you another job in England when you leave the current one. I believe that is the best response to people saying the managers should prioritise cups because they have a bigger change to win some silverware there.
2) Jose Mourinho clearly believes in the importance of the League Cup. I don’t think it is just because it adds to his honors’ tally. I think it has more to do with instilling a winning mentality in the team and giving them a belief and motivation for the final push in the league and Europe in the second part of the season, which outweighs the added fatigue.
Also, my contribution to the latest Klopp debate: Long-term, Liverpool’s results are on par with the expectations based on the wage bill, transfer spend etc. They fight for the top four and have various results in the cups. They don’t seem likely to really have a chance to win the Premier league title. My point is – does this mean Klopp is only an average manager? Of course it doesn’t, because he achieves a par competing with the best managers in the world. There is no shame in being marginally worse at the end of the season than a team managed by Pep Guardiola that has vastly more resources.
Of course you can find a manager that improves Liverpool’s defending. But good luck finding one who does that without also significantly weakening the attack. In my opinion fighting for top four while playing good attacking football most of the time and having some memorable results is the most Liverpool fans can currently hope for.
Broken crayons? Really?
Rafa Benitez has spent £100m in his two years at Newcastle. For the 2016/17 season he spent £60m alone to eventually win the Championship on the last day of the season. If Benitez spent £60m and was only planning on a team good enough to gain promotion which would have to be ripped up and built again for the EPL then that makes him about as far away as you can get from an ‘award-winning artist who is able to create a masterpiece with a pot of broken crayons and a pair of rusty scissors’.
You reference the fact that both Huddersfield and Brighton spent more this summer yet completely ignore the fact that the previous summer both of those teams combined spend was less than 20% of Newcastle. Of course they should have spent more, Benitez had a £50m head start on both teams.
I just looked at that ‘award winning artist’ quote again and cringed. Only in the EPL can someone spend £100m in two seasons and be lauded for beating West Ham, Stoke and Swansea.
Nobody should downplay Rafa’s role at Liverpool
Do me a favour Rafa bashers. So quick to downplay the CL achievement. It was Houllier’s team that won it right?
Rafa ‘only’ signed Luis Garcia. Who scored thrice against Leverkusen, the unforgettable winner over Juve (any excuse to watch this again
and the mythical winner over Chelsea.
And he ‘only’ signed Xabi Alonso. Arguably the best midfielder to have played for us in the past 25 years after Gerrard.
Anyway, give a s**t who signed the players. That team played like Rafa incarnate. Stifling teams in away legs and desperately hanging on to one or two-goal leads at home.
It was Rafa who chose to deploy Riise higher up the field. It was Rafa who turned fringe players into useful weapons (Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama Pongolle I’m looking at you). But more importantly, it was Rafa who moved Carragher to center back where he would go on to become one of the league’s best.
Anyone trying to downplay Rafa’s role in it all needs to take a long look at themselves in the mirror.
Coaching is difficult, you know
I thought I would add to the conversation about Klopp and his coaching by asking those who are complaining if they have ever tried it.
This past season, due to injuries I wasn’t able to play football so I coached a team instead. Now this isn’t a professional team but in it was for a club that was pushing for promotion in a semi pro league. I wanted to discuss a challenge I had throughout the season.
It is so difficult to change the way a player does certain things or to implement the style of play you want. No matter how much you work on it on the training ground it essentially comes down to the player to carry your instructions out on the field. During each game, 90% of the time the team preformed as we discussed. However, the left back always had a moment where he would switch off and we would concede. No matter how much we spoke about positioning and staying switched on it happened every game. He couldn’t be dropped because we didn’t have a better alternative.
I guess what I am trying to say is sometimes it is not the manager’s fault. Sometimes the players make mistakes and that is down to them not being good enough. I think this is relatable to Liverpool, which has been rightly pointed out, they don’t have better alternatives. I understand they have the option to buy better players but sometimes you have to make do with what you have. If you don’t believe in your players at your disposal then you’ve already lost.
Now for those who might say that we kept conceding cause I’m not a very good coach. That’s fair enough but we did end up winning the league and getting promoted while only losing 1 game. On a side note, I would highly recommend coaching, it is very challenging and a lot of fun. It is very interesting seeing it from both perspectives (as a player and as a coach) and I have learnt a lot.
Mike NZ (I can’t imagine what the pressure would be like at a high profile club.)
Why is nobody buying Napoli players?
Away from the usual drivel about Wenger, Klopp and the like I have a quick thought.
Why was nobody trying to pinch Napoli’s best players?
The defence, in particular at full-back, leaves a lot to be desired but the front six as good as almost anything else in Europe.
Watching them away at Lazio on Wednesday night they were sensational. After a fairly poor first half they came out and blitzed Lazio after the break. Dries Mertens improvising a fantastic goal at the end of a three-goal ten-minute blitz. Insigne and Callaghon are also comfortable across the entire forward line and have scored an incredible amount of goals over the past couple of seasons.
Why the relative lack of interest? Higuain and Cavani have rolled off the production line in recent memory but I’m astonished the vultures haven’t circled for the latest batch.
JC (Not gonna take that nonsense bait from yesterday about Rafa being the Spanish Pulis) NUFC
Top ten English club sides
Your portrait of an iconic team feature on Milan 1987-1990 was really interesting, and sparked a lively debate in our office as to which English sides would be worthy of such a feature
For what it’s worth, I offer up a top 10 iconic English club sides in no particular order as follows:-
Actually there were two great Arsenal sides from this era, but I’m opting for the earlier side from the early to mid 30’s. Herbert Chapman’s team of Bastin, Hulme and Alex James – in my heavily biased opinion the greatest British club side of all time
Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ 2003-04
D’uh….the clue is in the name isn’t it? Going a whole league campaign unbeaten in the modern era was truly exceptional.
Bill Nicholson’s double winning team of Blanchflower, Mackay et al. Simply one of the best footballing sides ever.
Liverpool late 80’s
The last great dominant Liverpool team of Rush, Barnes, Dalglish etc. Wonderful going forward and gave you nothing at the back.
Man Utd late 60’s
Best, Law, Charlton – enough said really…
Man Utd 1999
The Treble team. Brilliant attacking side, rock solid defence with arrogance and sh*thousery to spare when needed.
Leeds Utd late 60’s – early 70’s
Speaking of sh*thousery – Don Revie’s dirty b*st*rds featuring Giles, Bremner and co. were surely the greatest exponents of the dark arts, but never forget they could play you off the park as well any time they chose to.
I feel all dirty including these guys, but the first Mourinho era unquestionably produced one of the all-time great teams.
Nottingham Forest 1978-1980
The ultimate punch-above-your-weight team. Robertson and Francis were genuine talents, but how the hell did Cloughie coach the likes of Kenny Burns to two European Cups?
Huddersfield Town late 1920’s
The first English side to win three consecutive league titles. Definitely not in any way an attempt to curry favour with your editorial team, oh no – actually it’s more a tribute to Herbert Chapman the only manager to feature in this list twice.
I know we’ll have forgotten some serious contenders and there’s others we’ve considered but just miss out (a couple of Liverpool and Man Utd sides from their great eras spring to mind)
What does anyone else think? Try and remember kids, that great teams did exist before 1992 and some even existed before colour television – you just have to do your research.
Rob, Bristol Gooner (Maybe should have included Wolves from the 1950’s…bugger)