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Best European performance by an English club?
I had to write in regarding Sam’s post about the best British performances in Europe and it being absolute turnips. Firstly ‘over the past few years’ should in fact be changed to ‘as far as my memory will allow’ which, in fact, is the last 2 seasons. Secondly, no mention of any Manchester United performances? Not to sound biased, but Juve ’99? the final in ’99? 7-0 vs. Roma? What about Liverpool in Istanbul? I’m sure there are more but that’s just off the top of my head.
City or Spurs?
I’m amazed – even though i shouldn’t be – that people are still arguing over which of City’s and Spurs’ wins was the ‘most impressive’. Surely, deep down, any proper football fan would acknowledge Spurs beating Real Madrid is the more impressive and without question the more memorable.
This mail is not an attempt to downplay City’s result. Napoli are clearly a very good team and beating them, or anyone, 4-2 away in the Champions League is fantastic…..But as good as beating Real Madrid? Do. Me. A. Favour.
Napoli are a good team on a good run of (domestic) form. A very good run of (domestic) form even. They currently sit top of their domestic league – the once excellent, now pretty average, Serie A. Aside from the defeats to Man City, you have to go alllllll the way back, 6 weeks, to September 2017 to find their last Champions League defeat – to the mighty Spartak Moscow. They are now in real danger of missing out on the round of 16 entirely. They’ve never won a European Cup and it’s almost 30 years since their last league triumph.
Then you have Real Madrid. A team that has won the most decorated honour in club football for 3 out of the last 4 seasons, and had not lost a group game since 2012. A team that won their domestic league last season and now sit a disappointing (but far from disastrous) 3rd in La Liga and require 1 more point to qualify for the round of 16. In many ways – major honours, turnover, wage bill etc etc – they are the biggest club in Europe.
Let’s be honest, and hypothetical, for a moment – does anyone really think if you dropped Madrid into Serie A they wouldn’t be topping the table as well? 10 years from now (or even 10 months) nobody would be surprised if Madrid have added to their quite ridiculous trophy haul, whilst Napoli end up trophyless (again).
So when i reminisce about that memorable night at Wembley, i’m not going to let my happy memories be clouded by the fact the reigning European Champions had lost a couple (and it is only a couple) of games in their domestic league. I’ll be telling my kids about the time the 2026/27, 15-time European Champions Real Madrid, came to Wembley and got spanked.
Meanwhile the City fans (who truth be told will have their own trophies to reminisce about) probably won’t be sitting down their kids to tell them about the time they beat that Italian team Napoli, who had won a few games in their domestic league and may or may not have won a trophy or two.
Either way, both results are better than a 0-0 draw at home to Red Star Belgrade 🙂
Pep’s City > Pep’s Barca
Interesting point made by Robin, Man Utd, and I wholeheartedly agree that City really are something else right now. I think the one thing that separates them right now from Guardiola’s Barcelona is actually the thing that makes them better: they don’t have one incredible player. By incredible I mean literally that – Ronaldo and Messi between them are obviously the best footballers this, and probably any generation has ever seen, and maybe will ever see. What City have instead is a squad almost bursting at the seams full of really fantastic players; the benefit of this is that they can never, ever be accused of being a one-man team. They are approaching the epitome of a group of exceptional players, all of whom are playing at varying levels of proximity to their full potential at the same time. They also have a manager who clearly knows what he wants to achieve, and seemingly has a knack for getting this across to his players.
While Guardiola himself probably hasn’t changed his philosophy a great deal in the intervening period, I’d say that he has probably learned that he can – and maybe is even better to – play his style without having that world-leading player in his ranks. Without a Messi in his team, he knows full well that the team he is building as a whole can contribute to similar levels (in terms of goals, assists and that little bit of undefinable magic) to Messi in that Barca team, without having to rely on those moments from an individual. There’s no doubt that the Barcelona team was fantastic too, with excellent contributions from Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol etc., but I would definitely lump my money on this City team beating that Barca team.
If they continue this form then they will win the league at a canter – and deservedly so – and the rest of us will all be playing for second, in which there is no shame at all. I do think they are beatable, and that they have their weaknesses, but I suppose the big test is how they can manage those weaknesses and overcome any setbacks, should they happen. If they can keep this momentum going, then there is a very real chance that they could go all the way in the Champions League this season too. The usual big hitters are all slightly off their best at the moment, so this might be their Leicester moment (though I’m not suggesting it would be a surprise of the same proportions).
Don’t get me wrong, I’d still take a Jose pragmatic league title any day of the week, but credit where it’s due; this incarnation of City is a wonderful team.
Dear all football writers and pundits,
You should be ashamed of yourselves for even having discussions about Pep’s current Man City being the best team the PL has ever seen. The minimum requirement for a discussion around the best team any country has ever seen should be to win something first.
Oh, and it’s the start of November! fs
I’m taking names and will enjoy laughing at your expense in March.
I feel obliged to respond to Storey’s Unsworth piece following my previous defence of our caretaker manager, because I don’t really feel that he’s getting a fair crack of the whip around here.
F365 really should stop making proclamations after a really small sample size. After Robertson’s debut for Liverpool you said ‘And there should end the Alberto Moreno experiment: 2017/18 edition…’
How did that work out?
So yes, Unsworth’s 3 away games aren’t really enough to judge him on, and it would have been nice if he had produced better results so far but if the answer is to bring Sam Allardyce in shouldn’t we at least consider that he didn’t win a match at Palace until the 6th attempt?
Storey criticises Unsworth for picking 18 players in 3 matches and not playing players in their correct positions – Koeman already goosed the Europa League so last night we didn’t bother taking as many senior players as we could get away with – and as the squad currently has 1 senior left back there wasn’t much choice but to play Martina then Kenny there last night – I fail to see how that is the current manager’s issue.
Likewise upfront, Calvert-Lewin as the only available centre forward is jaded. And 20. And maybe not all that. Sigurdsson was either going to play up front or sit on the bench while we ran the kid into the ground, so given the option, I’ll take Sigurdsson up front for an hour with a view to changing it later…when the change came, it was 0-0 and the plan had worked up til that point…
And as for Storey’s description of the team last night – 2 right backs (correct), 3 defensive midfielders (correct) and 3 strikers (what? it was 2 wingers and Sigurdsson pushed forward ) – how do you get that so wrong when one of your points is about team selection?
So, 3 games in a week, in 3 different competitions. 18 players? Seems fair enough to me.
He also criticises Unsworth for playing on the back foot. Away from home, in Lyon, on the back of a 6 game winless run in a competition that we were all but out of and against a team that destroyed us on the counter at Goodison. Easy managing from behind a desk in Leeds, isn’t it?
Hindsight being what it is, we might as well have let Koeman struggle through these fixtures, to give Unsworth the chance to start a turnaround with a home game….but honestly I’ve enjoyed the last 3 matches more than the previous 10, such was the dearth of entertainment under Koeman, and am looking forward to seeing what we can do up against F365 favourite Marco Silva on Sunday.
Surely he couldn’t…..?
Ghoulam was out, but…
Erik, Montreal (from this morning’s mailbox) is right in pointing out that Napoli must have found it difficult to deal with Ghoulam’s injury, but it’s worth pointing out that while Napoli spent 60 minutes without their first choice left back due to an ACL tear, City spent the full 90 minutes without their first choice left back due to an ACL tear, rested their first choice right back just to make things more difficult, and still won 4-2.
GA, Dublin, Ireland.
Kevin Keegan is here
As a United supporter I just love the hate Manchester United are getting. Simply love it.
Lynton (The most successful people have the most haters)
Europa League winners and losers
A special mention for being the only team in the competition still with a 100 % record thanks to a 90th minute own goal. And well done for getting to the next round while rotating your squad and maintaining Serie A form.
Arsenal’s youth policy
Well it wasn’t the perfect result but they’re in the next stage already and haven’t had to tire out the first 11. Now that they have qualified does Arsene now keep using youngsters from the reserves or does he have some children he would like to try out?
Dynamo Kyiv, Steau, Zenit
Put your feet up boys now you can play the kids.
Emphatically got back on track while simultaneously eliminating a team that looked like a threat before the tournament started. Need just one more point as an aside .Bertrand Traore seems to enjoy this tournament after his heroics last year with Ajax and Memphis just seems to play better when he is not in the North west.
Spanish and German clubs
This week their record reads: P5 W4 D1 and that was due to Basaksehir equalising against Hoffenheim in the 90th minute.
Astana and Sheriff Tripasol
Astana are Kazakh, Sheriff Moldovan, and they both won away this week to greatly improve their chances of playing in the knock-out stages.
Lovers of extended drama and high stakes
There were last minute winners and equalisers and as only 5 of the 12 teams that could have qualified actually succeeded there’s still a lot to play for in three weeks.
What a shambles of a season so far.So that’s their European campaign finished before it even got started. The silver lining is that they can concentrate on staving off relegation
Really not the sort of thing you want to do in the twilight of your career getting sent off before the game and likely lengthy ban to booth
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Vardar
How do you say in Hebrew or Slavic “We try again next year”
Have six points after two games and now have six after 4 to make their job harder at least they won’t play Lazio again.
Ostersunds and Zorya
Victories would have put both on the brink of qualifying ,Instead Group J just became a whole lot harder.
180 minutes of playing AEK Athens . No goals wake us up when it’s over.
I’ll keep this short and sweet.
Da Fuq was Evra doing last night? Surely he’s looking at 10+ matches for that.
Lee (Sweet Connection though, I suppose), LFC