Keep the emails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
A good place to start
R.I.P The Power Shift.
Some Manchester United conclusions
1. What a difference an early goal makes. There have been five or six games this season in which we’ve scored an early goal, and subsequently gone on to comfortably win the game. It seems to settle the players down and reduce the number of mistakes that are being made – understandably, of course – but maybe there’s something more in that.
In the games where we don’t take an early lead, it often looks like Moyes/van Gaal football; plenty of possession but no cutting edge. Maybe it’s something that’s coming from the fans or worse, the coaching team, but I think that massive gains could be made by getting the players’ confidence back up or easing the pressure on them.
2. And that especially applies to Lukaku; he looks like a man completely bereft of any self-belief at the moment. What kind of confident striker would have elected to not hit his shot first time, when presented with an open goal? Early season Lukaku would have hit it first time, for sure. I don’t know whether benching him would help or further knock his confidence, but he clearly needs some help off the pitch as well as off it.
I think it’s been fair to say that we haven’t been creating too many good chances for him in recent weeks – he’s only been getting one or two each game (which, admittedly, should be enough for a £75m striker) – but that wasn’t the case last night, as he was presented with a number of reasonable opportunities and fluffed his lines each time. His support play was fine, and I know he got two assists, but that’s a secondary part of his job; he is there to score first and foremost, so someone needs to help him start doing that again.
3. Martial, on the other hand, staked a pretty strong claim for some time up front. His finish was excellent, and the model of composure. I can’t help but think that if Lukaku’s open-goal chance had fallen to him then it would have gone in.
4. What on Earth has happened to Ashley Young? He was playing like a man possessed last night, and both goals were superbly taken – the free-kick especially so. I would be rather worried if he was still starting every game in 12 months’ time, but I don’t see any harm in giving him another two year deal if he can maintain this form and fitness.
5. But for my money, the man of the match last night should have been Jesse Lingard. In the first half he was absolutely everywhere, causing the defence no end of problems with his intelligent movement and link-up play. Much of our good attacking play was either down to, or heavily involved him, and that goal was spectacular. If he can keep that form up then I can’t see how you justify dropping him for Mkhitaryan at the moment.
6. I can understand why it was given, considering the angles the referee and assistant had, but that wasn’t a penalty. It was a daft idea to try and make that tackle, but Rojo clearly gets a foot on the ball before the player goes down, it’s just that the people that matter had no chance of seeing that.
I’m not sure why he went for the tackle either, it seemed unnecessary to me, as we had other players covering in the box. Hopefully that’s just a bit of rustiness from so long out, because the rest of the game he was pretty good.
7. Lindelof was fantastic last night. His positioning was superb and his distribution of the ball seemed pretty good too. That was the first time that the back three looked comfortable, and I think that was largely down to him and Rojo – it meant that the Smalling effect was reduced, and he even had a decent game. Maybe Jose did know what he was doing with Lindelof after all.
8. The last two games could have been a couple of banana skins, and I wasn’t particularly confident going in to last night’s game, but we have managed to keep ourselves in the chase, from a bit of luck and a bit of quality. If we can get at least a point out of Arsenal then it will have been a pretty good few weeks, though that is by no means a given. I would be tempted to play pretty much the same team and tactics against Arsenal, assuming Matic is fit, though I would be sorely tempted to swap out Lukaku for Zlatan.
…Victor Lindelof alleviated a lot of nerves – looked the part. Good with and without the ball, didn’t over commit, chose his moments to come out of the back and kept f365’s top-player-outside-the-top-6 in his pocket.
Ashley Young seems to be reinvigorated – if van Gaal’s praises were an encouragement, Jose’s have been more akin to an aphrodisiac. He was excellent! The Brighton match nudged his defensive side awake and his all round game turned up very, very well last night. I see his mentorship and encouragement as the final aid that Shaw can be given.
I earlier described Lukaku in a manner that is re proving itself time & again – “A striker that always needs 2-3 good chances to score a goal.” His performance apart from goal scoring, seems unaffected. Which is a good & bad thing both. He’s on the cusp though and not certainly not the finished article yet. Yesterday will renew frustrations about his chance taking. Many expect to see improvements, sooner rather than later.
Matic since the intl break has struggled – Newcastle match was easy, Huddersfield and 85% of his Watford match were below his standard. The One can speculate this dip in form is because he wasn’t 100% fit. Yet, even an injured Matic’s departure from the pitch saw us lose stability and concede like we did. Herrera – lauded for his reinvention last season, perhaps needs to do it again and fill the mould of a more Carrick-esque player that we need to fill Matic’s absence.
Lastly, when United were seeing the game out and 2-4, Rashford misplaced a pass to Zlatan on the sidelines under Jose’s nose. I was delighted to see him scream his head and run off the bench, a foot inside the pitch! Jose may have given United the license to play within themselves, but not to drop concentration levels.
Akshat Pande, Man United fan, Jaipur – India
Quite the nickname
I thank you.
Carl (Hello to Jason Issacs) Oldfield MUFC Southport
More criticism for Lukaku
So Mourinho says that there is something wrong with Lukaku’s boots?
I could not agree more. His feet were in them! Surely a player worth £70mill + and earning God knows what can manage to find some decent boots that fit?
What next? Wrong shorts, uneven socks, wrong shade of green in the pitch?
The real genius
If Ryan Bertrand is on the verge of being England’s number 1 Left Back for the summer, what color captains armband will Ashley Young wear?
Ed (Willing to negotiate a boot deal for Red Rom), Limerick
Longer thoughts on Lukaku
Rom does not lack football intelligence, what he currently lacks is red hot form and better service. (Mikhi, Mata, ask him where he wants that ball guys, and then let’s play some footie again!)
If anyone feels that the United midfield is firing and playing sexy pulsating link up football, please let me know soonest.
Actually, since you don’t have to play aesthetically pleasing football to win a game, if anyone feels that the midfield is playing well at all given their talents and the coaching team, please let me know.
However, whatever Rom does lack, as he is certainly not perfect of course, does he not have the time and surely the environment to add improvements to his game? He is not after all at the very end of his career right guys, with the old saying (maxim? Is it generally true?) being that it’s only the old dog who cannot learn new tricks.
We should also therefore be sure to put our concerns into context, much like you would as a Chelsea fan with Morata, and no, not because their comparison is logical in my opinion, but because both are new players to their respective teams, tasked with firing in goals, while still looking for the best way to contribute to those teams, and accentuate their strengths therein.
Are we sure that as fans we have observed either evolutionary or revolutionary ways of providing service to Lukaku yet, before we roundly declare that this particular science IS settled, and that Lukaku is such and such, without an inch being allowed for debate or alternate thought?
All things are not equal, and will never be, and therefore definitive conclusions in this regard would require an wonderfully intricate theorem, in essence identifying exactly how you either eliminated the inherent differences, and their subsequent consequence to your conclusion, within your comparisons, or identify how you created a totally even and identical playing field, one where you can truly gauge who is most effective in a given situation.
One where not a single dynamic or uneven metric is being used to measure your subject, or again, you do not actually know who volleys the ball better, from an identical incoming cross, meaning every aspect of the cross has to be identical, from the provider to the receiver to of course the wind breezing past at a certain exact moment. (you get the gist by now, big or small, all factors must be equal )
I think we can agree that for the most part, this really sounds like a lot of the fun being sucked right out of football, so perhaps we can just stick to conceding that our opinions are just that, seemingly rarely informed by true logic or facts, and often by the range of emotions supporting a team can elicit in us.
Which is fine, we are football fans, we are allowed to feel, and articulate those feelings, but let’s just slow down on all of these edicts that we appear to be putting out, regarding people’s definitive and final standing in the game.
Manc In SA
Why do Tottenham not have an academy striker?
Arsenal, West Brom, Leicester… even going back as far as Chelsea in August, isn’t it peculiar that everyone’s “best performance so far this season” seem to come against Spurs?
Expensive/experienced reserve strikers clearly aren’t our forte, why are there no 17/18/19/20 year old attackers coming through the academy? Where is the next Harry Kane?
Knackered by mid-November, this is not good.
Vertonghen is being exposed
For the last month Spurs have been bleeding goals from one spot. Attacking Vertonghen’s side of the back three. He gives up too much space and can’t close anyone down.
We can point fingers at Dele but Vertonghen has been exposed without Alderweireld. Come on, Poch. If I can see it, so should you. Everyone else does.
Eric in NY
But maybe this is business as usual
So Spurs have hit a sticky patch. Sure, it happens. Two bogey teams in Leicester and West Brom back to back after a North London derby that invariably goes either way.
Worth pointing out, though, that at this exact time last year they had won once in 10 games – flukily too, with 2 injury time goals against a rather unlucky West Ham – were out of CL as well as the league cup, and it had been NINE MONTHS since they’d scored more than 1 goal in a game. Check this run out…
West Brom 1-1 Tottenham
Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Tottenham
Bournemouth 0-0 Tottenham
Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham
Tottenham 1-1 Leicester
Tottenham 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham
Tottenham 3-2 West Ham
Monaco 2-1 Tottenham
Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham
So yes, it is annoying, but it’s autumn business as usual for Poch and Spurs. Tottenham have a battle on for Top 4, but they always had in the year they’d be playing away for their home games. Very few pundits put Spurs in their Top 4s at the start of the year, with Liverpool expected to challenge City and United, some picking Spurs as low as 6th. It can’t now then be a disappointment they’re not challenging for the title.
Top 4 was always the aim. If that means players leave, it’s where the club is currently at. I wish everyone would just be realistic.
The fourth place race is going to be great
The battle for 3rd and 4th is going to be mental.
I doubt it’ll stay this tight for so long but the last week of the season sees Arsenal away at Huddersfield and Chelsea away at Newcastle. Both potentially tough games where the other side might not entirely be on the beach.
It would be nuts if a team slipped from 3rd to 6th on the final weekend of the season…automatic champions league place to Europa League play off misery.
If it’s going to happen to anyone it’ll be Liverpool who will lose at Anfield to Brighton. On the last day of the season. I’ve cursed it haven’t I? Fuck.
‘Should have been on television’
Brighton v Palace derby – Well that was a dull game. And to the Palace “supporters” lightning flares that risked injuring their own fans, and setting off firecrackers at Brighton corners in an attempt to put players off; stay classy.
Pardew and Allardyce back in the Premiership for their 4th and 6th (?) outing.
So remind me, who exactly is blocking young managers getting a shot?