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On the Liverpool embarrassment
What a desperately poor performance. I think Can might be the only play that can claim any real credit.
Coutinho has been getting linked with Barcelona? Well the good news is that his performances since December have guaranteed that they won’t be looking any more. Firmino was wasteful but he was trying to mix up his play and give options today, I don’t know how he got subbed with Coutinho left on.
Benteke is a big unit. I hear he can win a header. Lucky for us he won 2/12 aerial duels, which is partly based on the fact that we have full backs who earn £30k+ a week but actually cross aimlessly, but it’s partly based on the fact that his positioning and movement is a joke.
Honestly what would you even do in this January transfer window? Realistically you can’t sell and effectively replace Mignolet, Lucas, Allen, Benteke and Lallana in one window. It’s bad luck that Ings, Sturridge and Origi are all broken when they are the strikers who are likely to make us look better. Probably get Markovic back so we can stop playing two or three no. 10s each game who all make each other look bollocks.
As a side note West Ham have a Northern Ireland International keeper as their backup. He’s not bad having seen him earlier this season. Liverpool are probably the 5th richest club in England, why the actual f**k do we have Bogdan? Why do we have such a poor squad overall.
We had bad luck playing late on Wednesday and then playing early on Saturday but then maybe Klopp should’ve recognised this and taken a risk on a wholesale changed XI. We lost anyway so it’s easier to say retrospectively that we should’ve gambled but I think Liverpool fans have enough patience that we would’ve accepted a risky XI full of youth that might have at least tried and looked like they might compete.
An embarrassing performance. Questions need to be asked.
Manchester United and wax dummies
Dear Madam Tussaud
Just a short note to tell you how much I enjoyed your Old Trafford/Manchester United display today. The Theatre of Dreams was amazing, from the “Impossible Dream Made Possible” banner, the Stretford End, depressingly lifelike Manchester rain and of course the ever changing advertising hoardings featuring everything from noodle ads to truly heartfelt Happy New Year greetings. And the win reminded me of the displays that we used to take for granted every week.
The highlight of the exhibit to me was the combination Wayne Rooney statue/ATM machine. I was fascinated at how the Rooney ATM has had so much of the Glazier’s money deposited into it but the machine rarely makes any payback. Regardless, that display looks just like the great Wayne Rooney who used to play for United and is so lifelike it actually scored a goal. But of course your old Wayne Rooney would have scored three with the chances given.
Also I was impressed with how you were able to repurpose your former Ewok and Richie Cunningham displays into one , creating a realistic Ed Woodward statue. Of course it isn’t as impressive as the David Gill statue that used to be on display but I was amazed at the stack of profitable commercial endorsements piled beside the Woodward figure. It would be great if you could add a figure with a footballing mind to handle the on field product. To that end I must complement your inclusion of the Ryan Giggs and Sir Alex Ferguson figures – the Old Trafford display just wouldn’t be right without them.
I don’t want to complain but I did note that the Manager figure seems, well, just like a wax dummy. I remember that the previous United manager that was displayed for so many years was animated, had a voicebox that intimidated the referee figures and motivated the players and had a tactical nuance that could impact the on field performance. ( I especially liked how that figure pointed to its watch!). Perhaps you could move the Ryan Giggs figure 3 feet to the right and take out the unsatisfactory dummy until you can add a Pep Guardiola? That would add so much pleasure to those who visit this exhibit.
Also, I did not see any Confidence on display. That was always a hallmark of the Old Trafford exhibits. Despite searching for 95 minutes I could find no confidence. I believe that could be achieved by adding a proper striker to the display and by moving the Giggs figure to the right as I mentioned.
I also enjoyed the Anthony Martial figure which has been a positive addition. Perhaps with the changes suggested the Old Trafford/Manchester United display will be more enjoyable and will be the best in England once again.
Prince MNC, Muskoka, Canada
United vs Swansea conclusions
It’s strange being able to write in to the mailbox after a United win – I might have forgotten how to do it! It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but that was so much closer to the type of football we United fans have been asking for. In November I wrote in with the following comment:
‘With the players at United’s disposal, imagine how much we could improve if we combined our current defensive solidity with a bit of Leicester’s attacking verve; continue to retain possession but be more attack-minded when we have it. I don’t think anyone would complain if our possession went down from 60% – 65% to around 55% if it meant that we were more attacking.’
Well, today we averaged 54% possession and managed 19 shots, 6 of which were on target, while still maintaining an 84% successful pass rate. It’s no coincidence that this complete abandonment of the previous style we’ve tried to play resulted in one of our best performances this season and a win. I don’t agree with van Gaal’s assertion that it was a riskier way to play, because we still controlled the possession – with a slightly more disciplined defensive performance (and a full strength back-four) this is the way I’d like to see us play regularly.
Ashley Young was excellent throughout, so it stands to reason that he had to come off injured. While it was encouraging to see someone on the wing being able to deliver a cross and do it with both accuracy and regularity, the fact that it came from our right-back was a bit concerning. This highlights the need for a right-winger to be brought in because Mata just isn’t one. Perhaps Januzaj could fulfil this role if talk of his return is accurate.
I’m still not sure why Darmian isn’t starting or why he was playing centre-back when Swansea equalised, but he should be playing more often than he is. I sincerely hope talk of a move to Juventus is wide of the mark. Also key will be Luke Shaw’s return; Barrow looked dangerous every time he ran at whoever was playing left-back at that point, in his absence we are seriously struggling there.
Rooney’s goal was a touch fortuitous but those type of goals do look good when they go in. Martial was again very bright and looked a threat frequently; credit to him for putting in a good cross and for getting into the position to be able to in the first place. Herrera also put in a good performance, wherever he was officially playing.
Credit also should go to Sigurdsson for an excellent finish, that header was delightful and gave De Gea no chance. As previously mentioned, Mo Barrow was also very bright when he came on – one wonders if Swansea might have gotten something out of that game if he’d played form the start.
I hope that today’s performance doesn’t mask the problems that are still so clear. The constant re-shuffling of the defence highlights all the problems there. Further injuries to Jones and Young are indicative of the fact that we should be looking to bring in at least one new defender this window. Looking at the bench there wasn’t much in the way of senior attacking options available, with Depay and Pereira available. We have to bring in another striker, there can be no arguments about that. I’m still not convince about van Gaal, or whether he’ll keep the faith with an attacking lineup and mindset, but overall this was much, much better.
Arsenal must buy Lukaku
I haven’t read any of Daniel Storey’s fan mail on Romelu Lukaku, so I’m not 100% sure if I’m jumping on the bandwagon or not when I say that I think Arsenal would win the title this year if they made a successful move for Lukaku this transfer window. This would strengthen the Gunners and weaken a pretender to the top four spots.
Drop 60 mil on Lukaku now, pull the trigger on either Debuchy or Chambers (I believe 10 mil pessimistically), and they effectively buy the title for 50 mil in January. I know Arsene Wenger doesn’t believe there is value to be found in the winter transfer window but I believe he missed out on Romelu the first time from Chelsea and now would be the perfect time to rectify that mistake especially since he is not cup tied for the Champions League. Imagine Lukaku leading the line with Walcott, Sanchez and Ozil behind him against Barcelona.
Provided that Arteta, Rosicky, and Flamini all do the right thing by leaving in the Summer we could then sell on Giroud for at least 20 mil (title winning striker 2015-2016 remember) and go back in for John Stones and guarantee (MC – ‘guarantee’?) three more titles between now and 2020.
No beef with Everton, and I admit I threw in the Stones thing as an afterthought, but seriously – the Lukaku thing.
Greg B, Papua New Guinea
A vital time for Wenger and Arsenal
So Arsenal are top of the league at just after the half way point, 3 points ahead of City. I would certainly have taken that at the start of the season but there is still a long way to go.
We now have 3 very tough games coming up (Liverpool away, Stoke away, Chelsea home) and if we are within a few points off the top after those, I will be a lot more confident that we can challenge for the title this season.
Right now, Spurs, City and Arsenal are all in the title race but a few bad results could see any of them fall out of it at this critical stage of the season.
Some decent signings would certainly help matters. As would getting Alexis back. It will be nice to have another world class player on top of Ozil and Cech.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
Some Southampton sorrow
I wrote into the mailbox back in the Spring declaring the universal love for Ronald Koeman in Southampton and asking the question of whether any other clubs have this level of adoration for their manager.
A few months makes a big difference. The first #koemanout tweets are starting to appear and whilst the vast majority of us believe this would be the wrong choice at this stage it does reflect that the tide of opinion is turning. He is criticised for not motivating the players, making tactical changes too late and not giving our famed academy players a chance. I feel that whilst these are fair complaints the real issue comes from the way the club is run. I’ve always praised this board for running the club ‘well’ but the full consequences of what this means are coming into reality.
The annual summer sales have caught up with us with the replacements sub-standard to the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 squad. I’m a fan of Van Dijk for example but he is not on the same level as Alderweireld (hence why we were so gutted when he went to Spurs having indicated he’d stay with us…fair enough if you look at the table right now). The worry is that we’re turning into a club that Newcastle fans describe…run in a way to purely remain profitable and businesslike i.e. As long as we stay in the Premiership it’s fine to languish in 16th place. The memories of administration are still raw and I am grateful that we’re not being run wrecklessly, however last season gave us real hope that we could become the new Everton – a team perennially in the mix for Europa and possibly CL. That chance seems to have gone. It’s more about building brand in the US off the back of our academy’s reputation.
So we’re left with some disappointing results and a sub-mediocre league position. Mané and Wanyama clearly want away so it looks as if the cycle may continue. Our wage bill is low and we were the only club to have made a profit with transfers last year but we can’t help looking at teams like Leciester, Palace and West Ham with envy. Their fans are having the season we had last year and they completely deserve this.
We may yet be drawn into a relegation battle. I hope and think not. The performance vs Arsenal gives an indication of how good we can be and I think we’ll pick up enough wins to end up 13th/14th but the sadness is that it could have been 4th to 7th again.
You may get your wish
Anybody else watching Valencia not doing very well and secretly hoping that the Nevellier is sacked so we can have him back on MNF?
Just me, is it? Alright then…
The Welsh Pirlo
Somebody needs to tell Joe Allen that one does not play more like Andrea Pirlo simply by looking increasingly like him.
Living in Australia means that time differences make it hard to get a real feel for what’s actually happening on the field in the Premier League. However, the recent holiday period and relaxation of work commitments has meant that I’ve been able to stay up late/get up early and watch a lot more football than usual.
As a result, I’ve been able to see for myself that Liverpool aren’t as bad as their results have been suggesting – they’re actually worse.
An important point
Andy Carroll’s hair makes him look like one of the Na’vi from Avatar.
Girish, AFC, Chennai