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The future is bright
Does anybody else have the sneaking suspicion that there’s a potentially rather good, exciting, fluid and young United team waiting to emerge at Old Trafford?
Schneiderlin is increasingly impressive whenever he plays. His positional play is excellent, passing might not be Scholes-esque but it’s decent and improving, and he contributes more in attack than might be thought. A preference would be either to play him as the anchor in a three, or with Herrera in a two, but he liberates Carrick to metronome away as Carrick used to liberate Scholes.
Notwithstanding the palpitations Aguero plainly gives him (and most centre-backs have at least one striker against whom they struggle), Smalling has matured into an excellent defender. His distribution remains suspect, but he’s quick, powerful, robust but disciplined, reads play well, and the fitness issues of earlier seasons seem to have reduced. Add an actual centre-back alongside him (Rojo looks decent when he’s fit and played centrally), and there’s the nucleus of a decent defence there.
Shaw looked excellent pre-injury. Touch wood he returns at the same level after a good pre-season, and that a reliable left-back frees Darmian to have a consistent run at right-back.
And Martial and Rashford. Oh my. Martial is frighteningly good for a teenager. 12 goals and counting in his debut season, in a United side struggling for fluency and playing distinctly unattacking football. By comparison, Rooney scored 16 in nearly 50 at the same age, in a far better and more attacking United side. Rashford may still follow Macheda, but he looks rather more like the player Danny Welbeck might have been if he were a better finisher and more selfish. Mitigating circumstances (namely di Michelis and Arsenal being Arsenal), but an 18 year old scoring crucial goals in a European comeback and against Arsenal, and the only goal away in a Manchester derby, is pretty special.
There’s still a need for a new, competent manager, and for somebody to properly develop Memphis and address the Rooney situation. But United’s future is far brighter than this season might suggest.
I know I should feel happy that we managed to win the derby but van Gaal has so destroyed my enthusiasm for this United with his horrible tactics and false dawns that I’m totally ambivalent towards it all. A few conclusions:
1) 16 Conclusions used the analogy of a boxer getting up off the canvas swinging to characterise van Gaal’s reign; I’d prefer to think of him as the clinger on the toilet that just won’t flush. Just when you think one more shitty performance will finish him off, the team bails him out with an uncharacteristic good result. The win notwithstanding, it’s time for some Toilet Duck.
2) Chris Smalling is a liability. If he’s not making rash challenges while on a booking, showing Carrick-in-quicksand like pace or misplacing simple passes in dangerous positions, he’s got at least one fistful of an opponents shirt in the box. For someone who started the season so well, it’s been quite the fall from grace (read: return to normal service).
3) Marcus Rashford, bloody hell. I honestly thought it was Martial who’d scored at first, so elegant and composed was his goal. High praise, indeed. I said after Thursday he should have been benched already to protect him – I’ll admit I got that one wrong.
4) I must say I actually agreed with the referee in not giving us a penalty. It wasn’t a dive I just think Demichelis outmuscled Rashford. Put it this way: I would have been fuming if we’d conceded that one.
5) It simply cannot be a coincidence that Schneiderlin’s presence and Fellaini’s absence saw a massively improved performance all round. Hopefully the massive hairy elbow has started his last game for us and we can start using the much more capable option we bought specifically for that purpose last summer.
6) I think that Jose might actually be the way to go. The rebuilding job needed on this team is huge and he is possibly the only one with the ego, reputation and track record for doing it. Ok, he doesn’t really nurture youth players but, depending on who you believe, our academy is in a state; I say give Jose 3/4 years to rebuild the first team while A N Other does the same to the academy, by which time Jose will be ready to move on again and a more progressive manager can come in and move things on. There’s literally no downside to removing van Gaal now so just get on with it, Ed, and make a good football decision for a change.
Any good will earned from this win will disappear instantly if we don’t follow it up with a string of both good performances and results. West Ham won’t be quite as generous as both City and Michael Oliver were today, so we will see very soon whether real improvement was made or if it was just another false dawn. I’m certain it was the latter, after all, even a broken watch is right twice a day.
Refreshing to see a young Englishman playing without fear, not sure what Alan Shearer was talking about on match of the day, “it wasn’t a penalty for me” If that wasn’t a penalty then what the hell is? This is the same guy who extolled that he had every right to go down when he gets touched the week before, but Rashford apparently should of stayed on his feet what a Pillock.
I also thought (not even shown on MOTD) that Martial should of had a penalty, he did Mangala who took him right out nowhere near the ball, Smalling should have had a 2nd yellow but again 5 minutes into the game Fernandinho takes a two footed lunge not even a yellow let alone the red it deserved. All in all a really good performance by United, not so much by Michael Oliver.
Blind, Lingard, Schneiderlin, Darmian, Martial…
A few bones to pick with f365 and some other thoughts on Man City 0 Man United 1 –
* Sunday showed us a very different Daley Blind. His transformation from midfielder to center back moved from 60% completion to 80% – all over 90 minutes. By that, I mean he was gritty, aggressive and physical. He pressed Aguero more intelligently than Smalling. He committed the fouls center backs commit, passed United out of tight defensive areas and constantly strung pin-point long balls out to Rashford and Martial. Whatever Van Gaal may or may not achieve, I think its fair to say he’s got it right with Blind. He may struggle against frightening pace – like a Di Maria. But then again, few wouldn’t.
* Jesse Lingard is really coming to the fore – on an evening when Mata was painfully subdued, Lingard was buzzing, closing down, making runs, drawing fouls and was very busy. Although the slender 1-0 win does skew reviews in his favor, we cannot deny he is very close to becoming a first string member. Against big lads like Clichy, Mangala, Silva and Fernandinho, he more than held his own.
* A word on United’s center midfield – Schneiderlin was excellent – this cannot be stressed enough. His mobility and positioning complimented Carrick wonderfully. He constantly outran Yaya Toure and kept denying Silva and Aguero any time outside the box. Michael Carrick has almost literally dismissed the plainly ridiculous claims from f365 that his career is over. He was excellent with the ball and made a series of vital challenges in the box.
* Another United player who was dismissed by f365 – Matteo Darmian, did really well. I find it comical at times, how the writers here seem to pen an ultimatum – a career definer, an article that condemns players to a certain fate after a particular match. Darmian is not the quickest, but on an evening where you had to be above average to seem at par with the pace of the match, Darmian was just that. He wasn’t sensational, he just did really well. He’s solid and will continue to be so. Regardless of what f365 prophe-size.
* Martial is playing some ridiculous stuff for a 20 yr old, with remarkable maturity. Rashford keeps putting his chances away. I think it’s fair to say that Rooney will have to resort to a Totti-esque bit part role, an under-utilized senior squad member and let these youngsters take to the fore. Sign a couple of wingers, keep De Gea and fill a few more gaps – Manchester United look really OK.
FA Cup, Top 4 – Louis, you could really be around for longer. Have at it!
Man United fan, Mumbai
Manchester is red again
All is well, all is well. A win against the noisy neighbors is always one to savour. Although this just usually means that we are about to set on a dreadful run of form again. One step forward two steps back. One fullback in, one fullback out. Classic.
LVG has been justifiably criticized often enough but credit where credit is due. Calls to drop Rashford and Blind and to move Martial from the left wing were ignored and and the win provides him enough reasons to be smug about his philosophy once again. Critics would however point to the presence of Schneiderlin / absence of Fellaini and the fact that there has been enough false dawns previously.
As good as United were however, City were shambolic. They just do not seem to have enough players that seem to get club. Players that have their identity and the ethos of the club so intertwined with each other. It is a PFM explanation. It might also seem philosophical or slight form of escapism this, but City are the anomaly in this regards. Every title winner from the past 10-15 years always seemed to have players who really bought into the idea of the club. Whether home grown or brought in, they helped shaped the identity of these teams and seemed a huge part of the club.
Arsenal – Henry, Viera, Ljunberg, Bergkamp, Wiltord, Pires
United – Scholes, Giggs, Neville, Solsjaer
Chelsea – Cech, Lampard, Terry, Drogba
Even when the chips were down, the aura and caliber of the players meant that they rarely went down with a whimper. You would never have guessed based on the last 15 minutes of yesterday’s match that City were losing a derby match. It was really meek in that way. Joe Hart and Kompany are leaders on the pitch. Aguero and Silva, for all their talent, are not. (Kun barely speak English ). Yaya’s just does not seem too bothered. It could be the reason why their title defences have always been meek attempts. Maybe that is all that Arab money gets you these days.
P:S. Lampard went on to play for City and Cech for Arsenal. Make of it what you want to make of it.
Jeeva (Plastic Manchester United fan from Malaysia, residing in Germany)
Lukaku or Kane?
United are going to splurge in the summer. That is a dead certainity. With us needing a striker and a faster number 10, whom should United splurge on?
Should it be Lukaku or Kane? Should it be Mahrez or Payet?
Mailboxers, whom do you think United should pick? Lukaku and Mahrez might be easier to buy but would Kane fit our style of play better?
I would ideally like to buy them both. Rashford, Martial, Lukaku and Kane is a fiesty and scary young workforce.
Sudarsan Ravi (For Sanchez and Ozil, Think Silva and Aguero. Those four deserve better)
Bobby and Louis sitting in a tree
Considering the performances of their respective clubs this season, it would be entirely predictable to group Roberto Martinez alongside Louis van Gaal for under achievement. This line of thought is entirely justified. Stylistically however they have underachieved while being polar opposites of each other.
The failings of Louis van Gaal has been well documented. Has never afforded his players attacking freedom and his teams are always placed in a tactical straitjacket. An ill fitting jacket, one can deduce after everything.
Bobby on the other hand, seems to afford his players too much freedom on a defensive sense. He doesn’t practice set pieces as he considers it a waste of time. Individually, Everton do have some solid defenders. Compared to Arsenal, where the BFG, Gabriel, Flamini, Ramsey and even Ospina have thrown in some shambolic individual defensive performances or even Liverpool with Lovren, Skrtel, Moreno and the legendary Mignolet, trully horific individual defending is not the root cause of the defensive failings of Everton (Tim Howard has been poor for some time though). Fuenes Mori, Jagielka, Stones ,Coleman, Mccarthy, Barry and Baines are individually of the adequate quality. The problem seems to be mainly systemic. Statistics from whoscored.com shows that Everton rank in the bottom half for shots conceded,attempted tackles and interceptions per game. The players never seem to be in the correct positions to defend.
Against Arsenal over the weekend,Everton did not look comfortable defending from the get go. Welbeck, Özil, Sanchez and Iwobi continuously found space between the lines at will due the woeful positioning between the midfielders and defenders in the defensive lines of the Toffees. They seems to be holding a high defensive line without concerted pressure on the ball in midfield. It was suicidal at times. While attacking players afforded a degree of freedom tend to perform at their best as it allows them to express their respective individual abilities, this has never been the case with regards to defending. Teams need to be drilled defensively. In the absence of a sensible defensive plan, even a team comprised of the greatest defenders of all time would be reduced to running around like headless chickens.Each individually defending , but no coherent plan.
The manager’s job is to make the team perform more than the sum of their parts. Roberto Martinez, valid criticisms from F365 aside, seems to have escaped major criticism for his work due to him being a media darling. But the blame , in this case lies firmly at his doorstep. Van Gaal has mainly failed due his stubbornness and hopefully this would not be a case that will befall Martinez.
P.S I hope Bobby gets down from the tree. Don’t kiss him.
Jeeva(Malaysian residing in Germany), MUFC
Please, Martinez, just go
Here we are again. After the false dawn of an FA Cup win over Chelsea, Everton again revert to type and turn in a woeful home display. Our overall record this season is abysmal (shipping more goals than Aston Villa this season tells you everything you need to know). If we had a manager with a modicum of talent, an understanding of the need to defend (which Martinez only seems to apply in the FA Cup) and the ability to get the best – rather than the worst – of the best squad we’ve had in a generation then we would be up there with the Spurs and Arsenal pushing for a top 4 finish. As it is we appear to be going backwards in the league and we’re lucky that the bottom 4 seem to be already set up otherwise I would be thinking that we were set up to repeat Wigan’s departure 3 seasons back.
We can only hope that Bill Kenwright can get over his man-love of Bobby and get shot of this disaster-waiting-to-happen – especially given the importance of buying well and keeping hold of our best players for next season. I would love Koeman from Southampton to take over – but to be fair any manager with a decent Premier League or European record has got to be better than the shambles we have at present. A lot of Everton fans would have liked Bilic to come last season as well but that bird has flown. Of course Bobby will not step down because he will believe that none of the debacles this season are his fault. Therefore I can only hope that the new owner puts his foot down and does us all a favour – new manager, new squad, new start.
We can live in hope.
Phil, EFC, Wirral
City = not good
Possibly one of the worst performances I’ve seen by City for a long time.
Losing I can take, but the sheer lack of movement and desire to get on the ball was criminal.
Guardiola is going to have a fire sale if we continue to play like that.
We have gone from being in 4 competitions to winning a cup and now fighting to get 4th.
Guess announcing Guardiola hasn’t worked out how it was intended.
LVG has done a lot wrong, but its must be good for Utd fans to see players like Rashford come through.
He has given youth a chance, mainly through his own doing by not having other options. Some haven’t quite been good enough, but at least he has given them a go. Many other mangers would have tried to shoehorn a player into a striking role or something as just as daft when Rooney was injured but LVG picked a kid and gave him a chance.
Its definitely something we need to see more of, As Leicester have shown this season, you don’t always need to go and spunk £50m on a player all the time. It makes me wonder how many players like Kante or Mahrez are out there and will never get a crack at a “BIG” team. It also makes me wonder what do the majority of scouts do to miss or not rate these players.
In conclusion, devastated with the way the season is ending for us, but we got a cup and will hopefully get into Europe again.
Now that its 99.9% certain we wont win the league I can finally say “Come on Leicester!”
DANNY B (MCFC) MCR
Nice 16 conclusions by Storey but actually his comparison of City now to seasons past actually masks the truth because they won their first 5 games in a row at the start of the season so if anything the last 25 games have been really abject for City.
I blame Sterling. They should give him back to us for free.
Fernando: The f***?
While Martin Dimelichis drunken antics were hard to ignore, he’s only City’s second-most ridiculous player. That crown is surely Fernando’s to wear.
When Dimichelis was finally put out of his misery, Manuel Pellegrini thought it better to drop Fernandinho back alongside Eliaquim Mangala rather than his bigger, stronger, far more centre-backy quasi-namesake. It condemned City to a midfield base which, in the shape of Fernando and Yaya Toure, possessed the speed and mobility of an oil tanker. It is possible that the manager officially gives not one shi*t now that he’s effectively been fired but is still expected to come into work, but it’s more likely that the Chilean just couldn’t risk bringing Fernando quiet ineptitude anywhere nearer Willy Cabellero’s goal. While City were able to mount sustained pressure on United’s goal by the end of the game, you couldn’t help but think their hunt for an equaliser was an order made taller by Fernandinho’s exile in the back line, and his compatriot’s presence on the actual pitch.
It wasn’t even the first time that afternoon that Fernando had unwittingly summed up the City execs’ shambolic squad management over recent years. That Pellegrini turned to him when Raheem Sterling had to go off injured, dragging David Silva out of his most effective position and stunting City’s impressive momentum, is a damning indictment of Fernan Soriano and Txiki Begiristain’s reign at the Etihad. It seems their (fulfilled) promise to bring Pep Guardiola to the club has freed the, from scrutiny, and Pellegrini could be forgiven for thinking they have intentionally undermined him with the piecemeal squad they’ve given him to work with.
With City’s grip on a Champions League place next season looking increasingly in doubt, it looks like the Spanish pair could be in line for some sort of comeuppance. If it means it will be that much harder for their man Guardiola to overhaul the squad and remove any sort of reliance on embarrassingly sub-standard options they’ve lumbered the club with, it will be hard not to enjoy the irony.
I was reading that LVG blamed Liverpools collapse yesterday on “Tiredness”. I agree. Martin “Tiredness” Skrtel seems a very apt nickname. Thank you Louis.
Derek, LFC, Dublin.
If any player is looking for a way out of a club without submitting a transfer request, they just need to emulate Martin Skrtel’s performance from yesterday.
That vowel shy son of a gun singlehandedly cost Liverpool a game they were comfortably leading.
Three conclusions from Southampton 3-2 Liverpool
3 conclusions on Southampton’s come from behind 3-2 win over Liverpool (from a Liverpool perspective):
-For everything Klopp got right in the first half, he got it wrong in the second. Even if turns out that Lovren was injured and had to be substituted at halftime, why was Skrtel preferred over Toure? Also, when Koeman made the change from a 4-4-2 system to 4-2-3-1 at halftime, you could see for the first 15 minutes that Southampton was starting to pass the ball with ease because of the width the latter formation allowed. Why didn’t Klopp add someone into midfield when taking off Sturridge? It would’ve pushed Lallana and either Coutinho/Ojo out wide on their respective flanks which would’ve crowded out the width and then you would’ve had a midfield trio of Can, Allen and Henderson/Coutinho which would’ve snuffed out the advantage they had with the change they made at halftime. Just really poor management and a shame to see.
-Is it any coincidence that when Skrtel went down with injury that Liverpool’s “defensive woes” started to, slowly, disappear? And is it any coincidence that when Skrtel returned that they immediately returned? Not within five minutes of returning does he give a penalty away. If that doesn’t sum up his defensive qualities than I don’t know what will.
-Finally, this last point is about Jamie Carragher. The reason I say that is because I don’t want to make it sound like I’m bashing Flanagan as he is still learning his trade and he’s just coming back from a long layoff. With that being said, we’ve all heard the commentary from Carragher about Alberto Moreno and his supposed lack of defensive prowess. After seeing Flanagan be the direct reason for Southampton’s first goal, I would like to know if his vitriol is directed at a fellow Scouser. Carragher has, unfairly at times, lambasted Moreno for mistakes that aren’t even his fault. If he doesn’t do the same to Flanagan it just shows his bias to a fellow Scouser and English team member. I doubt it. His “analysis” have always been lauded by the English media, even some on this very website, just like a certain Gary Neville’s. After seeing the stellar job that the latter has done with Valencia, maybe they don’t really have it right after all.
Rob Scully, Orlando, LFC (For guest essays, if you need an American’s perspective on how the English game has grown in popularity in this country over the years to its current point, I got you fam. I’ve been here since the beginning)
The derbies were a thrill to watch because of the ramifications for the four clubs involved and it did not disappoint in effort though Sunderland should have beaten Newcastle. Moussa Sissoko and Ayoze were a big disappointment and on the strength of their display, Benitez must be a worried man because they were lifeless and resigned. The draw gives the advantage to Norwich whose biggest worry should be Sunderland as Newcastle are doomed (McClaren has turned the team to a bunch of chomps). Man City gifted Man Utd the game by poor finishing and atrocious defending (Demichelis should be searching his soul). Yes LvG won but this stop/start hardly wins trophies. His excuse of injuries for the inconsistent results is unacceptable because it’s unthinkable that you can go through a season without injuries/suspension to key/first team players. He chose to fill his team with Youth players instead of good squad players and it backfired. That said, the top four and relegation run in promises some big shock in this crazy season
Osama (Man City’s board guilty of poor information management and responsible for the poor form. LvG out!) Nigeria
This is a different Leicester
Five points clear going into April, this really has been the most incredible season.
That’s five games against teams set up to stop us. Since the Man City win, we have been taken more seriously and treated like a team who is top of the table. This has meant playing against deep defences and teams happy with a point against us. Definitely not what we are used to! To come out of those five games with 13 points is extremely pleasing.
This is particularly the case as small margins could have very much gone against us. Delaney hitting the bar in the last minute for Palace, Newcastle players falling over each other in the box, and not getting the last minute winner against Norwich.
This is now a very different Leicester side compared to the first half of the season. We are more efficient, more ruthless. Earlier in the season, we were a joy to watch with an air of unsustainability about it all. This was all very fun but not expected to last. Now with four one nil wins in five, I feel more confident that we can actually do the unthinkable. The support in the game against Palace was amazing.
Mind you, Spurs look pretty good… thank goodness for the five point cushion.
Toby (We’re staying up) Mitchell
Well that was enjoyable. The fluidity and variation in this forward unit is quite wonderful. Alexis, Ozil, Iwobi and Welbeck are all comfortable in all four of the attacking positions, lovely interchanges, so different from when Alexis is anchored to the left and Giroud playing central statue.
Iikewise the clam of El Neny on the ball, a dreamy contrast to Ramsey and Coquelin’s unique brand of panic-ball. The Egyptian looks like some beautiful splicing of Coquelin’s athleticism and Arteta’s technique. To dominate, even against a Clattenberg inspired Everton was superb. How on earth Clatts missed every foul on Bellerin the obvious penalty on Alexis and every foul committed by Funes Mori is quite amazing. Especially for a man whose microscope eyes chalked off Giroud’s entirely legitimate goal.
Arsenal need at least 7 wins from their last 8 games to win the league. We will ask why this functional system that has impressed against Tottenham, at the Nou Camp (where entirely rotten defending undid us) and now today was left in the locker so long. Now a magic spell to get rid of this annoying bloody international break.
No Ramsey = better Arse
How nice to see an Arsenal side without that limited, showboating 180 & 360 degree turning for no reason, passing out of play under no pressure, non-tackling weakling slowing us down over and over again. Elneny showing him how it should be done. That said, Arsene’s favourite player will be shoehorned into the team at the expense of a player playing well as soon as fit again and we’ll revert to getting slowed up and caught in possession again and again!
NC (Elneny > Ramsey) Gooner
Never mind the Fourth Place trophy
It is total balderdash and baloney that Arsenal are only going for the 4th place trophy this season. We are going for 3rd place. Woohoo!
Iwobi v Rashford
Manchester United v Arsenal – Marcus Rashford scores 2 goals in quick succession in his EPL debut at the age of 18. Next day is hailed in the media as the second coming, the new best player in the world. The shining light for English football.
Everton v Arsenal – Alex Iwobi scores a delicious goal in his EPL debut for Arsenal at the age of 19. Nowhere is it mentioned that he is the next best player in the world. The shining light for Nigerian football.
This is why the English media is hated by everyone. This is why you can’t have nice things.
Perhaps Matt Stead could elucidate further as to how exactly this Everton squad is abundant and overflowing with quality young players who supposedly represent some of the most exciting and promising talent in Europe as his article would have us believe. By my estimation it currently stands at a grand total of 3 and that’s being charitable. Of course there’s obviously Lukaku who most likely will go on to be a world class player and already has a phenomenal goal scoring record but who is still frustrating at times and has the tendency to go missing in large parts of games. Apart from that, Stones has endured an error prone season which has seen him relegated to the bench in recent times with the hapless Funez Mori and an aging Jagileka favoured ahead of him whilst the overrated Barkely continues to huff and puff but unfortunately is unable to string together a consistent run of performances.
That’s not to say that Martinez does not have his faults which most prominently include his inability to organize a defence and they should undoubtedly be a few places higher up the league having thrown away points after being in winning positions but let’s not get carried away and pretend this Everton team is somehow world class and that any competent manager would automatically have the challenging for the league title.
It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights, it’s time to read about Palace.
*You brilliant foxy b#st#rds. Every week, we watch City win and think, “well, they’re very good, but they don’t look invincible”, and yet, they’re still able to beat everyone.
Aside from that striker who thinks it’s acceptable to use racist words to make up for his lack of understanding of poker etiquette, there is a refreshing lack of c##tishness across that Leicester team. Let he who does not want Claudio Ranieri to be his uncle cast the first stone.
*On the face of it, for a team in the relegation battle only losing 1-0 to the team marching to the title is neither a bad result nor an unexpected result. However, by the sound of it Palace gave City a really good game, and were a tad unfortunate not to come away with something. We had more shots on target than the visitors, and shaded possession. Bakary Sako in particular played well when he came on.
*The Scott Dann shirt-pull was a fantastic satire on the inconsistency of refereeing. Maybe these things do even themselves out after all.
*The Emmanuel Adebayor honeymoon appears to be over. Probably best to just skip to the “contract cancelled by mutual consent” phase now.
It’s easy to say in hindsight but it’s really surprising why Dwight Gayle didn’t get a start. Gayle’s pace, combined with that of Zaha and Bolasie, could have posed more problems to the City defence than a disinterested Adebayor.
*As I’ve said previously, the anti-Ranieri, Alan Pardew, has had a very easy ride throughout this rancid run of form. However, the new American investors Josh Harris and David Blitzer were at the game on Saturday alongside Steve Parish, and had brought with them the TV production crew for the NBC documentary on the team.
This is pure speculation but it’s entirely possible that Harris and Blitzer have their own ideas about who should be managing the team, and it doesn’t involve the current manager. If the current manager is aware of which way the wind is blowing – and you’d expect that he would be – then it might be he is simply waiting to be dismissed.
With the international break now upon us, I wouldn’t be surprised if the board and manager had a chat along the lines of “sort this mess out or we’ll get someone in who can”. I don’t know who that would be, and I don’t want the turmoil, but plenty of other managers have been sacked this season alone for far shorter winless streaks.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
Not so long ago, I believed that the likes of Denmark winning a European championship they hadn’t qualified for, or Greece winning a European championship they were under-qualified for, were the greatest footballing achievements that I would witness in my lifetime
This season has given me a new perspective on things. To secure a victory in a knockout tournament against the odds is undoubtedly impressive, but the small number of games will on occasion allow things like luck to play a far bigger role than you might expect. Over the course of an entire 38-game season, though – you need consistency, you need focus, you need an entire group of players to dedicate themselves unwaveringly to a singular goal
I realise now that Derby County’s record 11-point Premier League haul is the sort of remarkable, once-in-a-generation sporting upset that we’re not likely to see again for some time. Aston Villa’s struggles this season have proved that it takes more than just being monumentally terrible at football if you want to do that badly across the course of a whole season – you need a proper footballing miracle. I genuinely don’t think that the East Midlands has produced anything as impressive before or since
La Liga refs
I don’t really watch La Liga games because at the end of the day, we all know Barca and Real Madrid will win their games. And the referees don’t help matters by making absolutely horrendous decisions. Take the Vila Real vs Barcelona game for instance. In that game, Neymar tried to round the keeper but he made a fantastic save. To the astonishment of everyone on the pitch (including Neymar), the ref gave a penalty which was quickly dispatched. The Vila Real players were livid and rightly so. In the Real Madrid vs Sevilla game, Gamiero scored but it was ruled offside. I wonder if these two referees will get sanctioned. They need to go back to refereeing school before they can even be allowed to referee an under-13 game.
Johnie Come Lately (Exactly, coz I have now joined the Leiceseter bandwagon)