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Who’s next after Louis?
Since the mailbox is Arsenal loaded lately I figured I’d write in about Manchester United future manager situation and pose a question to the mailbox. Who should be given the reigns when LVG retires after next season?
From my point of view I’d like to see Pochettino get given the reigns if he manages to keep Tottenham where they are or continues to improve them over this season and the next. My reasoning is that for a long while United have never been a press heavy team, which has shown to be a very effective tactic these days and sets your attack up with more space than our current dominate possession tactics. United simply don’t have the players to consistently unlock the solid 10 man defences we face when our slow build up play lets the opposition get behind the ball. They have a young squad with loads of potential and after LVG drills them defensively for another season I think Pochettino could instil his style of play on the still young squad quite effectively. He has shown continued success in England with limited budgets in comparison to United and has a liking and getting the best out of young players, I think this could be a great pairing.
On the other hand who else is likely to be available for united when LVG calls it quits? No way Giggs should get the job, he needs to get experience away from United and prove himself first. Pep may be available but again would only be there for a few years and would want to spend similar to LVG to make the squad his as well.
For long term success I think Pochettino is the best bet, he can get the best out of the players, won’t be reliant on massive spending, great with youth and supporters will enjoy his style of play which in theory equal success.
Any other thoughts?
Alex (please god no not Giggs) Australia, MUFC
No hard feelings
I read the short piece on Raheem Sterling containing his quotes and I continue to wish him the best. I know quite a few other Liverpool fans like me, dare I say the majority and dislike how certain elements of our support tend to taint the rest of us.
If we want to hang on to our best players we need to get better.
Ian, LFC Medellin
The (obvious) difference between Rooney and Ronaldo
Rooney is nowhere near Ronaldo because of one thing, attitude. Yes, Ronaldo is selfish, egotistical and a tough person to like but you cannot doubt that he is dedicated to his craft. He wants to be the best footballer in the world and by adding blinding graft to his natural talent he has, occasionally, achieved it.
Every trainer, every profile, every comment on Ronaldo as a professional is that he is a machine. His need to be the best drives him to train harder, to be better. Look at his progression from skinny teenager to brick-shithouse, adding strength to his considerable speed to make him a more rounded player. The pointless tricks are no longer as evident. He has adapted his game to be more direct, without losing his quick feet. His finishing is why he has scored over 300 goals for Real. Yes he demands to be the centre of attention in a team of superstars. But he has earned that position with hard work and delivering goals and silverware. He doesn’t drink, for personal reasons, and I even remember a tabloid story about him stopping mid-shag to put ice on his injured ankle. Dedication. The lad seems to understand that football gives him the stardom he wants. and he wants to be the biggest star so he has to be the best footballer.
Contrast with Rooney. It’s long been said that his lifestyle is not conducive to a prolonged career. He doesn’t eat right, he drinks, smokes, carrys weight etc. He has done nothing to improve his game since he emerged and the regression is showing. Sure, Ferguson may have coached it out of him. Or maybe he arrested his slide by making him focus on the grit of his role rather than the flair that would fade. Rooney comes across as a player who, for a long time, decided that he had reached his pinnacle. That there was no more room for improvement. He demanded the same stature as Ronaldo without the same work-rate. He focused on getting the money of a superstar rather than being a superstar (somewhat understandable given the relatively short careers of footballers)
In short, Ronaldo became ‘a goal-machine, the complete player who has cemented his position as arguably one of the greatest players to have ever played the game and has won the ballon d’or three times’ because he decided to, because he can’t seem to accept anything less. Rooney seemed happy with his a lot.
The only bit you’re getting on Arsenal
I’ve heard various arguments for and against Arsenal recently, both with equal validity, so for no reason whatsoever I feel the need to give my opinion. I hate Arsenal, and there’s only one reason; Arsene Wenger.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great manager, he’s got an almost immaculate record of developing youth, and with the exception of the Champs League he’s basically won everything possible with an English football club, which of course is admirable. But he’s out of date.
Every team wants to get in the Champs League, and of course it’s a success if you do, but when you used to achieve it by winning the league, and now you do it by finishing fourth, it’s not the same. Trophies are great, but where once you won consecutive doubles, and now you win consecutive FA Cups after an 8/9 year (can’t remember off the top of my head) drought, it’s not the same.
Arsenal are stagnant. They have the money, the squad, the potential, but as long as Wenger remains in charge, they’ll keep finishing fourth, and keep maybe winning a cup. Can you imagine Klopp with those resources? It’s be scary.
Anyway, as someone whose opinion doesn’t matter, there’s mine on Arsenal.
Rob (definitely not bitter they beat us in our one and only FA Cup final), Hull fan in Leeds
Spare a thought for Brighton
Spare a thought for Brighton, the last unbeaten team in England. Having gone close to promotion twice in the last 3 years, last season was near enough a disaster, finishing 20th (centre-half Lewis Dunk was our top scorer on 7!). But this year we’ve been very good, without being spectacular. A few too many draws that could’ve/should’ve been wins (Wolves, Preston) and we’d be storming clear.
The football’s not always electric under Chris Houghton but results are king and if he can do what Poyet & Garcia couldn’t it won’t matter one bit.
The competition for promotion is especially tough given the money and squads the others at the top have (Hull, Burnley, Middlesbrough, Derby), and I fear for us if we got a couple longer-term injuries in some key positions . But all in all, we’re doing much better than most could’ve hoped for with one of the best midfield partnerships in the Championship (Kayal & Stephens), and we’ve just set a new record for games unbeaten. Long may it continue!
The art of defending
Interesting to read the comments from Gerard Pique regarding the evolution of modern defending. I remember six or seven years ago having an argument with a Spanish guy over whether Pique was the best defender in the world (the guy thought he was). Exasperated, I asked him what he thought the job of a defender actually was, and he said, “To give the ball to the midfielders.” I immediately stabbed my finger wildly in the air and said, “That’s why you don’t get it – their job is to stop goals.”
2015, and football has definitely moved towards his way of thinking and away from mine. I wonder if that’s why there are so few obviously world class centre-backs around nowadays? The shift in mentality has moved defenders too far away from the basics of the position. Everyone’s raving over Chris Smalling at the moment, but I’m still always struck by how uncomfortable he is on the ball. It’s the rest though – the reading, the marshalling, the beating the head off opposition strikers – that everyone is responding to.
So in conclusion, I was right and that Spanish guy was wrong. Next week, why there are so few world class strikers left.
Stephen O’S, MUFC
Refereeing and rules
This international break is already so dull that I’ve started to think about rule changes in football. I need a hobby.
Anyway, the thought is there so here goes. I find myself irked by the continual repetition of various refereeing decisions that to me seem a case of punishment not fitting the crime.
1) What happened to indirect free-kicks in the box? We get so wound up by strikers diving for penalties, or appealing wildly every time a ball comes near a defender’s shoulder, but it isn’t any wonder as there is such a massive incentive to do so? The outcome — a direct shot from 12 yards with no defenders near — far outweighs the potential goal-scoring opportunity in most cases. So of course players are going to throw themselves to the ground, throw themselves into opposing players, or smack crosses with the aim of hitting the defender’s arm rather than their striker’s head. It just is good play under the current rules. This is easily changed — penalties are only given for fouls in the act of shooting. So if a defender blocks a shot with his arm, it is a penalty, if he blocks a cross, it is a free-kick. Same with fouls. There will always be a requirement for referees to interpret a situation, so there will still be controversy over whether it was a shot or a cross. But at least the incentives would be right.
2) We need a sin bin. Red cards almost always ruin a game, and should be kept to a minimum. Only violent conduct such as leg-breaking tackles or proper fisticuffs should warrant a red, or very brazen denial of a clear goal such as a defender handling on the line. Everything else should be yellow cards. Once you get two, you take 10 minutes on the bench, so there is a reasonable punishment for repeat offending. Watching Erik Lamela flying around at the Emirates on Sunday, he was taken off because he was at risk of a second yellow. But none of his challenges were at all bad — he was just getting a little carried away at times with his pressing and being clumsy as he isn’t a good tackler. So give him 10 mins on the sideline to cool off. Punishment would fit the crime.
3) Again borrowing from rugby, time to mic up the refs. It adds hugely to the entertainment, and also to the transparency of decision making. You may not agree with the decisions refs make in rugby, or the third umpire makes in cricket, but when you hear their logic and how they go through the process, you at least know where you stand. People say it couldn’t happen in football due to the swearing, but that is a load of rubbish. Most players would clean up their language if they had to if they knew kids could hear, including their own. And if they don’t, fines and bans would soon stop them swearing. If the mic picks up a bit of bad language in course of play, as happens in a scrum, commentators can apologize and we all move on.
4) Time to end excessive celebration yellow cards. Does anyone, anywhere, care that a football player takes off his shirt when celebrating or jumps in with the crowd? It is so PC, and so kill-joy. Just stop it.
5) End the ridiculous charge of “bringing the game into disrepute” that is used to muzzle managers in post-match interviews. It is a violation of free-speech, but also a violation of common sense. You think Jose Mourinho ranting about a referee brings the game into disrepute? No, it just adds to the entertainment and ultimately makes him look deranged and out of control. Football is big enough to look after itself. Let’s give Big Sam, Jose, Pards and Sparky free reign to let off some steam after the match. It is good television at the very least.
6) More technology, especially for offside. I find the idea of two linesmen crab-stepping up and down the pitch for 90 minutes with a flag very out of date given the technology that is now available to us. It is technically impossible to call offside correctly unless you are a cyborg — you need to be looking in two places at once. So let’s make this the next thing turned over to technology. There will still be a requirement to figure out who touched the ball last, but in most cases it is simple, and every millimetre a player moves, and the ball moves, is now tracked. It should be feasible. This would free up the linesmen to step in from the touchline and become proper assistant referees, which would likely lead to an improvement in decision-making.
So a few ideas there. Is the international break over yet?
Charlie, THFC, Somerset
Transfer Deadline Day
Chelsea signed one Nantes defender Papy Djilobodji (weird signing with weird name) to help out of the crisis… Roll on, how many times has he been in the team sheet? (havn’t checked actually) does he even have a squad number?
Posova(papy’s on holidays)Andrew
In response to The literary Ed this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Prep4trYNj4 is why RTE’s coverage is great, you’re right it is just old men bickering but tell me this is not more entertaining than Jamie sodding Redknapp.
Karl (Bill O’Herlihy RIP what a legend) Dublin