Keep them coming to email@example.com…
Who will follow Mourinho?
All the talk of Jose starting to get third season syndrome in his second season and media reports of him upsetting the powers that be at United led me to wonder, who would come next?
I know it’s very early days to start talking/thinking about it and there’s every chance United go on to win at least one trophy this season, but humour me.
I’m not sure who would come next for United. When Moysey was going LVG was the rumour, then when Jose was available he was linked daily with United. I’m not sure who United would turn to if he did leave in the summer.
Poch? He’s done an amazing job with Spurs but the argument for getting Jose at the time was he’s guaranteed trophies and the title. Would United turn to a guy who hasn’t won anything? (Yes he might win something this season, but let’s go on current records).
Tuchel? He did a good job at Dortmund but not great. Though you could argue the Bayern he came up against was much stronger than the one Klopp initially faced when he won two titles there.
Ancelotti? Seems like a great guy with “big club experience” but Madrid, Bayern let him go because he wasn’t doing it in the league. Probably ‘guaranteed’ a champions league win mind and already won the title with Chelsea.
Allegri? Excellent record with Juventus but not linked to any jobs other than the Arsenal one if memory serves correctly. Might be Italy’s next manager.
Simeone? Outstanding work with Atletico but if Jose gets pelters for his style then pray for Diego and the bus related jokes/memes.
Probably somebody glaringly obvious that I’ve missed.
And are United fans worried that the man brought in to guarantee the title isn’t working? Actually don’t answer that, we don’t need another inbox tale of how City are destroying the universe.
An idea for Spurs
Since Spurs don’t want to and probably can’t finance breaking their wage cap, would it be a good idea to introduce loyalty bonuses into contracts. E.g., when signing a new contract they could keep wages comparatively low, but offer substantial bonuses for anyone still playing after three years?
This won’t keep money grabbers or trophy chasers but it might keep the likes of Kane happy. Players who want to stay, but clearly could earn a lot more elsewhere.
Don’t think it would work for PC at Liverpool though
Joe… (Barca… you don’t need him!!)
Costa v Morata
First of all, I’d like to qualify the following with the statement that I do like Morata, and he’s been far from a failure this season. But, his wastefulness in front of goal is becoming an issue. I’m sure it’s a confidence issue rather than technique, but over the last few months he really has missed some big chances and last night was a remarkable collection.
The timing of last night’s events is fitting, as everyone’s favourite human embodiment of a Disney villain Costa finally re-joined Atletico, I really felt Chelsea do miss him for his ruthlessness as a goal scorer . As much of a merchant of wind-ups he was for the time he was in England, his ability to finish chances was one of his greatest strengths (that and somehow getting away with random acts of violence/petulance). Looking at his premierleague.com stats page, in 89 appearances he has 28 “big chances missed” (whatever the subjective measure of a big chance is). Alvaro, in his 19 appearances is already halfway to Costa’s total with 14.I’m sure that Costa would have buried at least one of those 1 on 1 chances last night.
If Alvaro wants to step up to the next level, he really needs to add that ruthless edge in-front of goal and start taking his chances. It wasn’t a big issue until last night when Chelsea really could have been out of sight and he cost them 2 points.
Gez Errico, Sheffield
In response to Brian (Bakayoko hasn’t exactly set the world alight either but at least F365 has pointed this out previously), Wexford’s I would agree that Morata is downgrade on Costa but you have to remember this is someone who took like a duck to water in England, scoring 20 goals in his first 26 league games. Very few players will ever hit the ground running like this in a new team/league/country (etc.) but the hope with Morata is that he will come good; he’s got all the tools to thrive in this league and it’s still early days as far as most (sane) Chelsea fans are concerned.
It is true that he is being afforded an indulgence from the manager Batshuayi never has been but that’s because he’s integral to how Conte wants his team to play. But overall yeah, based on just over half way through his debut season, Costa comes out on top. Of course, it was never Costa’s effectiveness or ability that were ever the issue – 50+ goals and two league titles in three seasons speaks for itself – rather he became more hassle than he was worth for long, boring reasons we all know by now.
Regarding the comparison between the different receptions Morata and Lukaku have received for their respective efforts this season, I think the reason Lukaku comes in for more flak is that when he has a bad game he only reinforces the lingering doubts his detractors have about his ability to cut it as a world class striker. Having an iffy touch; being poor in the air; his average hold up play; not being clinical enough; being a steaky goal scorer; unconvincing in 1 on 1 situations – these are all accusations that have dogged his game since long before he came to Manchester United and now that he’s moved for world class money to a club with world class aspirations and a world class manager (in his own grumpy head anyway) the scrutiny is up tenfold. Of course Morata went for big money and has question marks hanging over his own head (‘never cut it as the main man before, unremarkable goal output, maybe too soft’) but expectations are simply different for a debutant than they are for a striker who knows the league and has finally got the big move he’s felt his talents deserve. Again, doesn’t help that he plays for Manchester United, possibly the most followed team on the planet.
I haven’t seen enough of Lukaku this season to comment but from what I have seen he seems more or less as good as the player they signed from Everton, playing for a manager that doesn’t really understand what kind of player he is in a system that doesn’t play to his strengths. Personally, I doubt he will ever reach the elite elite category striker you’d hope for £75m but I’ve no doubt he’ll go down as one of the best goal scorers this league has ever seen if he sticks around. Championships have been won with far worse strikers.
Don’t get me started on Bakayoko though good grief.
…I have to respond to Brian who has used last night’s horror show from Morata as the base for his “Lukaku is better argument”. The comparisons between the two are inevitable after the summers they’ve had but can I suggest we at least wait until the end of the season to decide who got the better deal? Or, better yet, can we just agree that both clubs got very good strikers that are both finding their feet in new teams. There will be ups and downs for both but we don’t have to have a kneejerk reaction about who is better as soon as one has a bad game.
Personally, there’s no way in my mind that Morata is a downgrade on Costa. His link play (particularly with Hazard) is very good and should only improve, he is superb in the air, is technically much better and doesn’t bring all the histrionics that Costa did and does. Yes the goals have dried up a bit recently but that can and does happen to anybody. The important thing is how he responds to last night and I fully expect him to respond with a goal when we meet Arsenal at the Bridge in the cup.
On the game itself; what an incredible spectacle. I felt confident before and during the game we could get the win so to leave with a draw is a disappointment but it’s a worse result for Arsenal who may soon see daylight between them and 4th. I think Wilshere should have been sent off but I understand why he wasn’t, it was a tough call to be 100% sure about. Bring on next Wednesday!
BlueLuke, CFC (Trying hard to be positive about Bakayoko for the past two months now)
…Just to reply to Brian, Wexford’s email this morning, the reason Lukaku has been given more criticism than Morata is because one of them plays for Manchester United. It’s the same reason that Mourinho has had more criticism than Conte despite the latter doing worse (sure, it’s only one point now, but it was a fair few points prior to United’s poor Christmas period) after spending more money last summer (not in terms of net spend due to their annoying/impressive buy-loan-sell system, but they only really lost Costa and Matic from their first team squad), strengthening a title-winning side rather than a 6th-placed team.
I’m not blaming this on an anti-United conspiracy though, more the click-bait factor. Opposing fans love criticising United, and United fans love to get wound up by it, so it creates attention, discussion and clicks, clicks, clicks.
Tom (clicks have ruined journalism), Manchester
…My first mail got published some years ago, so hoping to make it two for two, doubtful though. So is it just me or has everyone forgotten that Morata & Laca are new to the Prem? Yeah sure new boy or not you still need to make more of your one v ones with the keeper, forcing a save should be the minimum requirement.
In comparison to Lukaku has been here for ages and has played way more football this season, their goal tallies are same same, but different (10, 10, 8) waiting till next season before getting the knives out.
Wouldn’t trade either for Bobby Firmino though, who also didn’t have the best of times his first year in England.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all football league and Premier League clubs banned the West Ham fan that abused Jake Livermore?
I’m sure this idiot will now seek to go to away games – so how about not only naming and shaming the numpty but also the world of football closing ranks and banning this spanner from every stadium?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Everyone in the mainstream media loves a narrative. Particularly if that narrative is easily repeatable for long periods of time and can be trotted out whenever there’s a slow news day. And so we get all sorts of repeated shite, transfer rumours being the shining example of this particularly awful journalistic nadir.
The one I’d like to address today is “Jose Mourinho’s 3rd season syndrome”. First, let’s look at the bare facts:
Uniao de Leira – in charge for less than a season;
Porto – in charge for 2 seasons;
Chelsea – in charge for 3 and a bit seasons;
Inter – in charge for 2 seasons;
Real – in charge for 3 seasons;
Chelsea – in charge for 2 and a bit seasons;
Man United – in charge for 1 and a bit seasons.
Eagle eyed amongst you will spot that only 3 times out of 7 appointments has he even made it in to a third season. Looking at those three examples, his third season at Chelsea (the first time) was actually quite good although there were some grumbles from Roman – won both domestic cups and finished 2nd in the league. It was his 4th season performance that got him sacked. The other two (Madrid and Chelsea part deux) I can almost accept but even then it was his off field antics at Madrid that led him to leaving.
I guess the point is this – it’s a load of bollocks. Please stop banging on about it (looking at you as well F365) as if it’s some magical, mystical thing. Only really once has his team had a severe under-performance in his 3rd season (Madrid actually still did OK even with the player revolt). His main problem at United is that football has moved on and he’s a stubborn arsehole – the mediawatch article of the day yesterday highlighted this really rather well. It’s quite possible the same thing will happen to Pep if someone ever figures out the formula to beat him; he seems equally set on his style of playing.
A Christmas wish
Dear editor and compiler (you are not always the same person, right?)
There’s been the usual talk about the winter break and festive program recently, but precious few actual solutions other than “give them a break just not at Christmas”. I would like to propose one.
1. Reduce the festive program from 4 to 3 games (this year from Friday 22nd to Thu 4th)
2. Move the FA Cup 3rd round back one week (this year to weekend of Sat 13th)
3. No FA Cup replays at all, extra time and pens on the day
4a. Change the league cup format. Only one game for the semis, and for the semis and final to be played on Sat & Tue (this year 6th and 9th Jan).
4b. These games could take place somewhere warm and be sold to the highest bidder (Football’s soul is a bit like Voldemort’s and has been shredded into pieces that get sold off, honestly nobody will notice this bit).
5. Put the ‘missing’ game from New Year in the week of 4th round replays
This means that
– All bar 4 teams would have a minimum of 10 days between matches (this year Wed 3rd to Sat 13th) and could even give some players over 2 weeks if they were rested for the cup.
– You could even put the 4th round the week after the 3rd (this year Sat 20th), make the draw for both in advance, and there is plenty of scope for resting players
– Most teams/players would play the same number of January / February games (an extra league game to replace a replay
– Teams that play in the league cup get a warm weather ‘break’ but play the same number of January games as now (and can rest players if they really want, you could even insist that the 4 teams play their FA Cup games on the Sunday or Monday for the extra rest)
– those teams also get to ‘connect’ with their overseas fan base and there’s no cup final / replay fixture congestion in February and March
– The league cup gets finished early, but in the spotlight (good for teams and sponsors) and the FA Cup can then take centre stage
– There is no break for fans (or TV, which is the elephant in the room whenever the idea of a winter break comes up). The league program can continue on the cup final weekend for those wanting a live fix
I’m sure there are problems with this, and I trust the mailbox will help me find them. But this change gives positives to fans, players, clubs, competitions and umm, broadcasters and sponsors. What’s there not to like.
Šťastný nový rok
Dave, ITFC, Brno
I know this is very uncommon but I’d just like to give referee Anthony Taylor some respect for his performance last night. He got all the big decisions spot on even if they were very tough calls.
The Wilshire dive was a very close call, but even as a Chelsea fan I’m not sure you could clearly state it was a dive, but it certainly wasn’t a foul either and I doubt he will get cited for diving during the week. Correct decision.
Even Thierry, Carra & Dermot Gallagher all agreed it was a pen for Hazard after numerous slow-mo replays, Taylor called it correctly in a split second in real time with no replay. Ignore Wenger’s bitching, it was a pen.
The only one he possibly got wrong was not booking Holding which may have led to a later sending off (but then he may well have not made the later tackle if he had already got a yellow).
It was a great game and he deserves a great deal of credit for that, it did teeter on the edge for a while when a red card looked inevitable for someone, but he kept it bubbling nicely.
Well done Mr Taylor.
What is a foul?
There has been a lot of debate over whether the Chelsea penalty should or should not have been given. In the middle of this and every contentious penalty decision you always hear contradictory statements from both ex players and ex referees around what should be considered a foul. With regards to Bellerin’s challenge there seemed a consensus amongst the ex-refs and ex-players last night that as he didn’t play the ball, but connected with the player, it was correct to award the penalty. Yet on other occasions you will hear it said from the same pundits that ‘there was not enough contact for a penalty’. These are totally contradictory statements and which is correct will determine whether the Bellerin/ Hazard decision was correct. As I’m so sick of this confusion and hearing the same things debated every season, I thought it would be good to take a fresh look at the rules on the FA website and under Law 12 Fouls and Misconduct it says:
A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force: charges, jumps at, kicks or attempts to kick, pushes, strikes or attempts to strike (including head-butt), tackles or challenges, trips or attempts to trip. If an offence involves contact it is penalised by a direct free kick or penalty kick.
I won’t go into reckless or excessive force with regards to this instance, but the rules describe careless as: when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. No disciplinary sanction is needed
Therefore if we interpret the kick by Bellerin to be careless according to the above description it is a penalty and if not it isn’t. So the rules make it all no clearer. Please can we have clarification on this from the FA? Is any contact on the player without playing the ball first considered careless and therefore a foul or not? Even if it’s just the slightest touch which isn’t enough to make the person go down? Surely the rules should be clarified around ‘impeding the opposition player’s action’. This would mean that we won’t see just the slightest touch, that makes no difference to an attempt to play the ball or make a run, be penalised.
Although I agree with most of the rest of them, I disagree with with Daniel Storey’s conclusion about the Hazzard penalty incident. Don’t get me wrong, if it wasn’t given we would have found another way to concede so it doesn’t bother me that much, but it really wasn’t a penalty.
He thinks it was a penalty because there was contact but that is not the law. Football is a contact sport. Would it be a penalty if someone’s knee brushed against someone else? Or if their hands touched? Christ, if it was a penalty every time there was contact, Huth, Shawcross and Vertongen would be giving a penalty away at every corner.
It is only a penalty if the contact has impeded the player, and it is quite clear that in this case it didn’t. Bellerin touched Hazzard’s heel, and Hazzard threw himself to the ground clutching his shin. Clear simulation, although I agree that it was tough for the ref to spot it. If you’re not sure though, don’t give the penalty. It shouldn’t be a penalty in the box or a foul out of it.
Another thing that annoys manager, players and fans is inconsistency. I wouldn’t mind if this was now the new rule and any slight contact ended up in a penalty, but it won’t. It’s a one-off mistake will be forgotten the next time there is minimal contact.
So sure, blame Wenger for many things, but not for correctly complaining about the penalty award. And are you surprised that he is upset coming as it did 3 days after an even worse decision cost us 2 points? There are enough sticks to beat him with, don’t go looking for more.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
Standout English achievements
Surely Alan Curbishley’s achievements with Charlton deserve a mention? They’re just about in this century and deserve a lot more recognition than they ever get.