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Only one man to blame at Man United…
Whilst wallowing in self-pity about United’s most recent performance, and given there are only nine games left, I thought it would be interesting to compare our league performance from this season to last season at the same stage. After 29 games the tally reads as follows (last year in brackets): W13 (16), D8 (8), L8 (5), GF 37 (50), GA 27 (26), GD 10 (24), Pts 47 (56), Pos 6 (4). Clearly we have regressed and by a reasonable margin. Our defending has produced similar results and is fairly good (second best this year and third best last year at this point). But the attacking has cost us dearly – fourth best last year but ninth best this year. Sunderland have only scored two goals less than United; no disrespect intended, but what the actual f*ck?! Big Sam’s Sunderland, who have only just recently made it out of the bottom three, are only marginally behind us in terms of attacking success. This is the same BFS who is not exactly known for his attacking football.
So who and what is to blame for the goals drying up? Is it the philosophy? The system? The players? Well as regards the what, it is probably a mixture of these three elements – let’s call it ‘The Golden Triangle’ of football management. All three need to be in good shape to have a successful team. If one is inadequate then success is unlikely.
In terms of LVG’s United, the general philosophy is sound; possession-based football can and does work – just look at Barca who are the poster boys for this style of play. Furthermore, it was the same philosophy that was used last season which returned more goals. However, the philosophy loses worth if the team is too risk-averse or if the players are not good enough to adopt it.
As regards the system, and this is where the who to blame starts to become clearer, Louis has traditionally favoured a 4-3-3 system (one holder, one box-to-box and a # 10) yet we have been treated to a plethora of systems, including the 3-5-2 which he was forced to play with the Dutch in the World Cup. Ultimately it points to fitting a system around the players rather than finding the right players to fit into a (tried and tested) system. I can understand doing this for the national team, given there is a restricted pool of players, but not when you have the money (and now the time) to buy any number of players to fit your system of choice. He has tended to play two holding midfielders which links back to being risk-averse and has been the foundation for our impotency. So instead of coming in and sticking with his beliefs, Louis has bent so far that he lost sight of what worked for him and now even his confidence seems shot.
Then we have the players. I actually think our team is not too bad when everyone is available; we definitely have enough ability to challenge for the top four. However, injuries and poor form have combined to scupper any chance of having a decent season. Regardless of what Louis says in terms of having a small squad to promote youth, major mistakes have been made in the transfer windows. We have got rid of deadwood but we also let some players go who could at least challenge the players in the first team, thus improving form. We don’t have a big enough squad to cope with injuries and, despite Woodward’s inadequate performance or generally poor scouting, the blame has to lie square with Louis for letting too many go without securing replacements first. We had loads of injuries last year and this year we had to compete in an additional competition. Since Louis took charge, we have let 24 players go who have played one or more games for the first team yet have brought in only 12. By your own admission Louis, young players are wildly inconsistent; so how can you put all of your eggs in that basket? We have a few decent youth prospects who may or may not make it, but culling numbers by that margin is just asking for trouble.
And don’t get me started on your subs.
In conclusion, Louis only has one side of his golden triangle in place and there can only really be one person to blame for our current predicament. If you want to work with the academy for a year until you retire you will be more than welcome.
Garey Vance, MUFC
LVG’s tactics are the problem
First of all I disagree with some of the mails claiming it was the players who came in that caused the defeat – Smalling and Darmian were great defensively although I wouldn’t want my life to depend on Darmian making a useful cross and Lingard was the right call for Memphis especially as we have four important games coming up and Lingard isn’t playing the next one.
The key issue besides Carrick’s decline is LVG’s inability to change a game positively till it’s too late. This game changed partly because Herrera who was the more likely man to cause a creative spark came off. It also changed because Pulis decided to bring on a full-back who could cross and possibly asked Rondon to take on Blind. This would have been an idea LVG would have tried in the World Cup if you look at a lot of the games we lost this year it’s been because we haven’t made changes at the right time or for most of the away games because we haven’t looked like we have had a clue what to do when faced with adversity.
He or whoever takes his place needs to fix this otherwise it won’t matter how many millions we spend or how many youngsters come through.
You can’t be bored of City yet, surely?
Regarding John Nicholson’s article and his understandable desire not to return to ‘normal’.
I’m a Man City fan, and can I just ask when have Man City ever been part of this long established status quo of top four Premier League sides? I don’t remember City being one of the ‘Sky 4’, in fact we were probably playing away at Macclesfield when the phrase was concocted?
United, Arsenal, Liver…scratch that…and to a lesser degree Chelsea…sure, but City, come on?
We’ve won the Premier League twice, in very exciting fashion (none of this procession nonsense) so it’s a bit hard to stomach that you’ve had your fill of us already?
How about a top four of Man City, Leicester City, West Ham and Newcastle …that wouldn’t be too bad…surely? I know I know, we’ve got money…and lots of people supporting the ‘Sky 4’ resent us for it…but as a City fan I feel more empathy for Leicester, West Ham and Newcastle than I do for the self-entitled glory hunting history professors that support Arsenal, United and Liverpool.
Plus, John Nicholson might well be getting premature nostalgia for the way this season is panning out, but if John worked in the F365 mail room and had to deal with all the whining emails from the Sky 4’s entitled brigade, I doubt he’d be feeling the same.
If Leicester had had injuries…
Imagine if Leicester had half of the injury problems Arsenal or Manchester United have had this year…wonder where they would be in the table? Not disrespecting what they have done (dominate) and might do (keep dominating) but it’s an interesting thought. Have not done a lot of research but every time I watch them play, I feel like it’s the same 11!
Ryan, North Carolina, MUFC (Not Mad at Mr. Mata, just disappointed)
Love you, Daniel…
I love football. But also love stats and facts.
The point ‘inconsistency: a disease’ in Winners and Losers yesterday was excellent.
Close second, the comparison of Jerome, Bacuna and Ireland.
Got to tip the hat to chief football nerd Storey.
I support Everton. Although I have every sympathy with supporters of other clubs and their own predicaments (Villa and Newcastle fans in particular although I find it harder to empathise with Arsenal supporters bemoaning regular top-four finishes and Champions League football every season…) I think I speak for the vast majority of Everton supporters who cannot wait for the day Roberto Martinez is shown the door.
As Chris Sutton alluded to recently, Martinez’s post-match interviews are a joke. He blames referees, linesmen, opposition players, the weather, luck, Norse Gods, aliens – in fact anyone except his own good self for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. His recent showing against West Ham is just one of a number of debacles that have seen us throw away points due to bizarre and ridiculous substitutions and tactical changes which leaves fans in the stands initially scratching their head over and – 15 minutes later – hurling abuse at the manager for the consequences of those decisions.
The false dawn of fifth place a couple of seasons back has been replaced with mediocrity that beggars belief given the abundance of talent on show How can a team with Lukaku, Barclay, McCarthy, Stones et al be lower in the table than (no disrespect but…) West Brom, Stoke and Southampton? Martinez’s ‘philosophy’ (good grief!) is that he doesn’t want clean sheets but wants to win matches. Here’s a thing Bobby – if you keep clean sheets you have a much better chance of winning and a 0% chance of losing.
Many Everton supporters are torn between getting in a proven PL manager (Koeman, Hughes, Pellegrini etc.) or a good European manager. One thing for sure is, apparently no-one wants to see Bobby in charge next season and spending the new owners loot and the PL money on another 12 wingers and crocked strikers to keep his philosophy going.
Phil, EFC, Wirral
…I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Moyes who was the entire problem at MUFC.
I am absolutely sure it is Martinez who is the entire problem at EFC.
TX Bill (Martinez, ruining weekend vacations since last season) EFC
Tottenham’s midfielders are just knackered
I enjoyed your 16 conclusions on Spurs v Arsenal but I think Tottenham’s fatigue, particularly in central midfield, was overlooked as a factor.
To illustrate, Eric Dier played 28 Premier League matches in the whole of last season. Saturday’s game, in the first week of March, was his 28th match of the current campaign. The minutes comparison is even more striking, last season he played almost 2500 minutes across the Premier League and Europe. He has already played over 3000 this year. 22 of his last 26 appearances have been for the full 90 minutes.
Alongside him Dele Alli played 44 matches last season. His next appearance will be his 40th this year, in addition to four England caps.
Add in Dier playing in the thick of the action in midfield compared to defence and Alli playing in a Premier League title race rather than League One, and the step up in intensity these two players have undergone this season is even more pronounced.
They’ve both hit the wall. Alli isn’t 20 yet, Dier is only just 22, it’s nobody’s fault and hopefully they will be better equipped this time next year, but they need a rest. Dembele’s resurgence has been a joy but he can’t do it on his own.
The question for Pochettino is when? Thursday night is awkward for Spurs. It’s a big game that Tottenham don’t really want this week and may not actually feel that motivated for. Champions League qualification through the league looks far easier than winning the Europa League from this point. But they can’t risk a defeat that could damage morale at a very sensitive point in the season. Does he play Alli and Dier and then trust Mason and Carroll to get Spurs past Villa at the weekend? Or put his faith in Carroll and Mason to keep Spurs in the tie against Dortmund and then a (semi) rested Alli and Dier can return to get Spurs back to winning ways in the league?
Either way, expect former footballer Nabil Bentaleb to be sold at a price based on his 14-15 form to one of the terminally gullible (Hi Sunderland/Hull) in the summer and Pochettino to go into the transfer market to get Alli and Dier more help/competition next season.
For all the talk of mentality, with their ball-winner and match-winner exhausted, it’s Spurs bodies that are the problem now.
(P.S, I wonder if Alli’s injury will finally catch up with him around the week of March 26th/29th? One for fans of ‘CLUB VERSUS COUNTRY TUG-OF-WAR’ pantomines to keep an eye on…)
The French didn’t like the Belgian Origi
I’m not in France but I can explain a bit about Origi. In the 2013-14 season he was used a lot by Lille and scored some good goals including an eye-catching equalizer against Monaco. But he was a bit stop-start.
After signing for Liverpool in June ’14 and going back to Lille on loan he played regularly but didn’t score a league goal from October til mid-March, when he then promptly scored a hat-trick. He managed nine goals for Lille (8 in the league) that season and it wasn’t considered good enough. The fact that he’s foreign (Belgian and not French) maybe put him under the spotlight a bit more.
Here in Belgium, though, he’s very popular – voted young sportsperson of the year in 2014. I remember seeing him play for the national side in June 2014 at the Roi Baudouin stadium -h e started that match against Tunisia and although he didn’t score, he had good movement and got us off our seats with some of his chances. He’s only 20 – he’ll come good!
Paul in Brussels
Palace fans have let themselves down…
I’ve always quite liked Crystal Palace. It’s a good adventure for an away day and despite not being our (Liverpool) best hunting ground, it’s always been a good day with a great atmosphere. Lately I’ve taken a huge dislike to Alan Pardew for reasons many of you already know but the Palace fans have always been sound….until now. A supporter of Palace has set up a petition on change.org to the FA to ban Christian Benteke and fine Liverpool FC six points. It’s laughable but has picked up a ridiculous amount of signatures from Palace fans. I’m sorry but this is just pathetic. I’ve never seen anything like it and now I look at Palace fans with disdain. Sad pathetic fans who are little butthurt. Get over yourselves. Now there is no inner turmoil about liking a club but hating the manager, now I can go to Palace next year hating everything to do with the club.
Some of my best friends are referees...
I don’t know where to write, I’m not on the Twitter, so that’s out and I’ve used up my phone a friend. Listening to Talksport this morning Alan Brazil and Danny Murphy were talking to Mark Halsey about how good refs have enough common sense not to give yellow cards early in big games and derby games, wtf!
Why can’t players be expected to have enough common sense not to commit foul play early in a big game, often you hear commentators note that they’re letting the opposition know they are there and get away with it as it’s early; so not having the balls to give an early yellow is actually encouraging foul play. It’s absolute tosh and flimflam!
They ended up saying how they liked Mark Halsey’s reffing style since if he got some bantz in the game about a decision, he give it back later, he’s the ref not a comedian dealing with a heckle, football needs to learn from rugby about how a ref interacts with players, applying the laws and how players interact with the ref, there seems to be some institutional sensitivity to be seen as copying what the posh egg chasers are doing. Cue discussion about Nigel Owens epic bantz over the years…
Steven (Eddie had a dream, on minus 17, we had no money, so he signed our players on loan, we play from the back, with pace in attack,
He went to Burnley, but Eddie came back) AFCB
Is the Champo more entertaining than the Prem?
I watched the East Lancashire derby on Saturday and it was f**king dross from start to finish. Both teams had a pass completion of 58%. 58!
The entertainment factor might be due to the parity of the opposition in the Championship but the quality of football doesn’t make for joyous watching.
Mike (yes, I know the plural of anecdote isn’t statistics) Taylor
The really loyal Italian…
The no. 1 choice on today’s top ten list got the right country but the wrong players. Angelo Di Livio stayed with Fiorentina after financial shenanigans resulted in their demotion to Serie C2, which is level four on the pyramid. He then stayed with them through successive promotions to finally retire after finishing their first season back in Serie A. Think that makes Buffon and Del Piero’s single season of adversity look a bit piffling.
The big question
I don’t like the now-cliched phrase ‘is it just me, or…’ but, is it just me, or are the too-big squares on Roberto Martinez’s quilted jacket really annoying?
It is just me? Thought so.
Alex Stokoe, Newcastle upon Tyne
Sticking up for Football365
Everyone in the mailbox seems to be writing mean things about you lot.
Big club bias is one of the accusations I’ve seen. So f***ing what? It’s not football365’s fault that these articles get more clicks and this make them more money. Maybe if other fans are upset you should start sending money to F365 to deliver what you want? People do pay for decent quality football writing, be it The Tomkins Times or The Blizzard, so instead of moaning about them delivering articles which prove to be popular, why not put up?
Also wondering whether you read the articles you recommend because your opinion contradicts them. This isn’t The Kim Jong Il football website and I’m pretty sure opposing opinions are welcome. I am sure I remember Pete Gill spouting one opinion in winners and losers once which was totally contradicted by Winty in a F365 says article a couple days later. Why wouldn’t they recommend something just because it goes against their own opinion? Whilst Storey or Stead might be wrong about why Everton were sh*t I’d rather read their opinion on it and make up my own mind. If I wanted to read sh*t regurgitated by idiots I’d go find out from the Daily Mail what was going on in football. And with all those bloody foreigners.
Let’s lighten up a bit kids. This is meant to be fun for everyone. I am pretty sure these guys aren’t even paid that well despite running one of the most popular football websites in the UK. At the very least they deserve a bucketload of our respect and appreciation. Those Sunday mailboxes don’t compile themselves you know.
Also to the Leicester fan who won’t be reading the website anymore because he’s got to focus on his team winning the league, what exactly does that involve? Will you just sit down and clench for twenty minutes a day and prepare or glory instead of reading the interweb?
Does this sound like a good idea to anybody else?
I have an idea for the site guys. It’s not entirely fleshed out but it just occurred to me and I like to share…
Broadly it would involve you inviting guest articles (maybe once a week) from your favourite (or most frequent) mailbox writers. You could possibly pick the topic for them or you could see if that person would be up for it, and if so, what they would write about.
This is a good idea because it would encourage more people to write in; everyone likes the idea of having a full article published, if the writer was so inclined they could post their real name or Twitter handle. It would be free for you and it wouldn’t require much effort beyond picking someone and agreeing a title. And it would get you a bit of extra content each week!