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Actually, you would want to be drawn against City
Storey: “no club will want to be drawn against them”
Fair enough, unless the alternative is being drawn against PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg or Atletico Madrid.
George (Would rather draw Benfica than City I suppose…) AFC, Wellington, NZ
A very happy City fan…
What a lovely day, well it’s not, its actually a bit foggy and cold but I don’t mind. We went to Kiev and won comfortably. There hasn’t been many times we have been able to say that so far in our Champions League adventures.
I believe the appropriate levels of respect were shown, and the interest from the players was there for all to see. We were so good even Raheem Sterling looked good and Robbie Savage had to say nice things about us. Yes it was only Kiev, but not many English teams have won there. Now barring a disaster we should make the quarter final.
Like most City fans, I love Aguero, Kompany , Silva etc. However Fernandinho has rapidly become one of my favourite players for us in the time he has been at City. The man is a machine, players like him are so important as they allow players like Toure and Silva to flourish, yet he is still good enough to link up with them and not just be that guy who plays deferential five-yard passes to the creators of goals. He is also a master of a necessary foul a rare commodity indeed. If I still did such things, he would be the player I would have on the back of my shirt.
We probably won’t win the champions league but we are making progress which is fine, as long as we are in it, we will win it one day. It doesn’t matter who we get from here on in (provided we qualify), but I would like to avoid Barca if possible. There is only so many times you can watch Messi tear you a new one.
If we can manage to play with that attitude and level of application for the rest of the season, we might just get some trophies.
Danny B, MCFC
…But the real quiz
Decent performance by City, but Raheem Sterling’s sideburns are beyond the pale.
Is United’s debt starting to bite?
Given the way things are going, I’ve been wondering: is the debt at United finally having an effect on the football side of things? One would think that, with the record TV revenue and Adidas sponsorship deal, we’d be able to afford almost any player we wanted. In reality it doesn’t seem that is really the case; we’re bringing in piles of cash (projected to make £0.5bn this calendar year), so where is the money going – servicing the debt, probably.
Moyes kept talking about the type of players he wanted to bring in; Fabregas, Bale, Vidal and Ronaldo were all mentioned – none happened, yet three of those four moved to other clubs. We eventually did sign Mata and Fellaini but the former was widely known to be available (as he didn’t feature in Mourinho’s plans), while Fellaini had a release clause, so both were doable transfers.
Van Gaal eventually trimmed the fat of the squad, moving on Fletcher, Nani, Hernandez, van Persie, Rafael and a few others. His signings have all been similarly themed too; highly rated youngsters with great sell-on potential (Martial, Depay, Shaw), mid-range players on “reasonable” wages and with decent sell-on value (Herrera, Schneiderlin, Blind, Rojo, Darmian), as well as two freebies (Valdes and Romero). Schweinsteiger is the obvious exception but van Gaal himself admitted he had to persuade the board to sign him.
He also admitted to deliberately creating a small squad, apparently so that he could blood the youngsters, but when has this really been the United philosophy, other than the Class of ’92? Yes, it’s been important to get youngsters in the team previously, but usually as supplementary players – not to be relied upon as heavily as we are doing now.
It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that both he and Moyes were told that there isn’t as much money to spend now the debts have matured. Moyes couldn’t sign his top-level targets, while the board relented for van Gaal but only after he’d reduced the size of the squad.
It would also explain why the Martial deal was so heavily weighted toward add-ons, rather than all up front. We could afford to negotiate that kind of potentially huge deal, knowing that PSG or Real Madrid will likely step in and buy him if he turns out to be any good, rendering those clauses moot. If not, we probably wouldn’t have to pay out; win/win. A cynic could even suggest that this was the reason for both Ferguson and Gill leaving at the same time; neither wanted to have their reputations tarnished by this kind of disappointment, particularly if Gill has designs on the FA Chairman position or a role at UEFA.
Furthermore, why else would Giggs be such a firm favourite to get the job next if money wasn’t an issue? He has no business being a genuine candidate, having never managed permanently before, therefore would probably be quite cheap (no compensation to pay and “modest” wages probably) and he is the ultimate “yes man” at United – his long-standing association with the club and Sir Alex assures that. In Van Gaal they went for a manager who had previous with working under strict constraints (i.e. the World Cup) and also had form for blooding youngsters. It also explains why they apparently unsuccessfully approached Jurgen Klopp while he was still at Dortmund. They could also have made a play for Koeman, though it’s only hindsight that shows what a good manager he is with reasonably limited resources.
I would be very surprised if Jose does indeed rock up at Old Trafford any time in the near future. If Louis does get sacked before/at the end of the season then it’ll be Giggs next – in fact even if van Gaal sees out his contract it’ll be Giggs, they’ll just get to say that it was always the plan.
I admit that it’s a bit of an “Area 51” conspiracy theory, but there are some valid points to it. Either way, we won’t have to wait very long to find out – our season could be over in the next 17 days if we’re knocked out of the Europa League and FA Cup; both of which look quite likely right now, so it could be sooner rather than later.
What Brexit would do to football
After Mike, LFC, Dubai, mentioned possible implications that Brexit would have on Football Clubs. I can’t help but think we’re looking at the potential implications of this from the wrong way around. Surely it is the traveling fan watching their team in the Champions League/Europa League/Intertoto Cup (what a glorious tournie that was?), who will suffer the most.
Being in the EU means British fans can travel freely and without restrictions to other EU countries. This would be lost if we left the EU. Think long queues, passport fees, etc. And forget low-cost flights to Donetsk or Barcelona. Air duty will be charged for travelling from outside of the EU which I doubt our friends at (insert low budget airline) will just suck up without putting on to the consumer.
Want to make a call to the missus to let her know you’re safe and haven’t been stabbed/hit over the head with a plastic chair? Remember those roaming charges from a few years ago which the EU clamped down on? We’ll they’d be straight back on your phone bill without the EU regulation which we all bemoan.
And finally, if you get banged up after a rumble with some Eastern European Ultras, at present you get free legal representation and an interpreter, all courtesy of our friends in Brussels.
Actually, maybe that last point would be helpful to shed a few of the morons which each club has one or two of.
My point is, in an age where the price for fans is consistently going up year on year, let’s be sensible and not make it even harder for ourselves.
And why it will make no difference
As far as football is concerned, Brexit will have a zero effect on the status quo. The reason is that for the purposes of this discussion, we need to understand that there are 3 types of “Europe”. These are: 1. EU; 2. EEA; and 3.Switzerland.
EU = Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
EEA = Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK……PLUS…… NORWAY, ICELAND and LIECHSTENSTEIN
SWITZERLAND = Switzerland (…err…obviously)
So even if the UK exits the EU, nowhere have I seen any UK politician say that the UK will also exit the EEA – in fact for all sorts of treaty reasons, the UK cannot exit the EEA.
Hence all that happens is that UK moves from the “EU” column to “EEA” column, as we would then become part of the NORWAY, ICELAND and LIECHSTENSTEIN grouping.
But EXACTLY the same single market rules will continue to apply. So for example, at the moment, a UK footballer is totally free to move to a club in Norway without having to worry about work permits etc. and the same is true of a Norwegian footballer moving to the UK. — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Erik Thorstvedt, Steffen Iversen and Tore Andre Flo, for example, did not need to worry about any work permit nonsense when they moved to the Premiership.
Here endeth the lesson.
Kirit, North West London
Hey, leave Ranieri alone
I take exception to your columnist’s account of Ranieri’s tenure at Chelsea.
He had one season with Abramovich’s cash before being summarily dismissed, in which period he added some great signings, perhaps the most important being Claude Makélélé which freed Frank Lampard to get forward and become such an influential player. I also have it on decent authority that he laid the groundwork for the eventual signing of Drogba. He has already acknowledged he was at grievous fault in that match against Monaco – and explained the reason why: just before kick-off he became utterly despondent on learning that Abramovich was in discussion with Mourinho, It left him, as he said, unable to think straight.
Yes, he tinkered, but he also made an excellent job of building up his player’s tactical confidence, just as he’s done at Leicester. Above all he is a decent man, who never blamed the ref, or created ructions with opposing managers, or indulged in any other of the unsporting and ungentlemanly traits so beloved of his successor.
Something else he espoused, and which the club would be well advised to contemplate in the course of their hamfisted treatment of John Terry: he felt it absolutely important that a club had a solid spine composed of players from that club’s country. I’ve always felt this deficit lay behind both Arsenal’s and Man City’s lack of conviction. It’s sounds great to load up a team with stars from across the planet, but in a league as hard fought as the Premiership, replete with trips up north on freezing Tuesday evenings in January, it can leave them short on the essential grit that courses through winners. As a very long time Chelsea supporter I fear it is a lesson currently lost on our quixotic club management.
My one joy this year – well aside from getting shot of Mourinho – has been Ranieri’s success. He was crudely dismissed by Abramovich all those years ago and on his return has been greeted by several pundits writing him off as a has-been. More fool them. I hope some at least will have the decency to eat a bumper helping of humble pie.
Oh, and by the way, those ‘forgotten years’ or however your columnist described Chelsea’s pre-Abramovich era – wasn’t that the one lit up by the likes of Zola, di Matteo, Gullit, Hughes and Vialli? A lot more exciting to watch than much of Mourinho’s negative fodder.
We can’t even be s**t properly
Bloody hell! We can’t even get any players in the worst 11 of the Season! I feel nothing.
Defending Stuart Pearce
On the subject of dodgy substitutions, around the time of Harry Redknapp’s autobiography coming out, Don Hutchison was in the media telling everyone the story about the time West Ham were chasing a game, with one change left to make. Redknapp looked at Hutchison and reserve goalkeeper Les Sealey, before sending Sealey on – up front.
I know that a site with so many connections to Nottingham Forest may be loath to give credit to Stuart Pearce the manager, but I think the article on rubbish substitutions was a bit harsh on him. While conventional logic says it was a ridiculous thing to do, the article then seems to suggest it almost worked. Pearce wanted someone huge as a target for long balls, and for a while James was the tallest player in the Premier League. The game ended in a draw, with someone other than James missing a penalty, it didn’t cost Manchester City anything. It’s also worth pointing out that this was a baseball-style double switch, rather than something as mad as putting James up front at the expense of an outfielder between the sticks.
It’s an “if my auntie had balls” situation, but if Robbie Fowler had scored that penalty, would the substitution still have been so ridiculous? Possibly, but if it had been part of a winning effort, it would have been a mere eccentricity. Pearce the manager has shown many flaws, but this attempt to think outside the box shouldn’t be seen as one of them.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
21 years ago today
Twenty-one years ago today, this. Can fellow readers come up with a better collection of quality goals from a single match? Venison’s only goal for the Toon, Beardsley shimmying faster than a grass skirt on a fat Hawaiian hula hoop champion, and Townsend hitting a ball so too well that even the home fans applaud.
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle upon Tyne