The good times are back at Old Trafford. Send your mails on all subjects to firstname.lastname@example.org
Manchester United: Back
Very delayed reaction, but United have actually signed Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
After half of a decade of Tom Cleverley, Darron Gibson, Ashley Young et al., it’s heart-warming to watch United again in full expectation of a comfortable victory, and full knowledge that we have better players than everyone else.
Man United are fun again
My favourite thing about the opening two matches of the season is how much I have enjoyed watching United again and, consequently, how much I’m looking forward to the next game. I haven’t felt able to enjoy the football we’ve played since Ferguson left – Moyes and van Gaal both brought their own particular brands of turgid football to United, which made it painful to watch at times.
I don’t think that Mourinho or the players have done anything particularly ground-breaking or spectacular; it’s more that they are going in to these games with a very clear game-plan that they all understand and know what they’re there to do. More than that, the mentality seems to have changed completely; under van Gaal it was always safety first, pass, pass, pass. Valencia’s go-to move was to turn back on himself and pass backwards as soon as he encroached in the opposition half. Fellaini’s was to…I don’t know what, elbow someone then protest innocence? But under the supposedly negative-tactically-inclined Mourinho, both players seem to have been revitalised and are looking so much more positive both with and without the ball. I think the big clue as to why that is that they both look like they are enjoying their football again – I think I’ve actually seen a smile on the usually solemn face of Tony V.
Zlatan has also gotten off to a fantastic start. I wasn’t sure about the sense of signing him (considering his age and wages) when the rumours first started circulating, but it’s a better start than I could’ve imagined so far. It’s still far too early to tell how he or Pogba are going to do over the course of the season – especially if Mourinho does keep squad rotation to a minimum, as he has done previously – but there are plenty of things to be encouraged by.
One of the other positive notes I have seen is that, while it must be disappointing for Herrera, Schneiderlin, Rashford, Darmian and Smalling to be missing out on a starting berth, at least this season they can see why – every player ahead of them is genuinely there on merit so far, whereas last season, that wasn’t always the case. I would like to see Rashford get a chance, and we’re still yet to see Mikhtarian from the start but there is a great deal of football to be played this season, so I’m sure they’ll get their chance before long.
I’m still not confident that we’ll win the league this year, but if we keep up this style of football until the end of the season then I’ll be happy enough with that.
Swagger or finesse?
Question to the neutral in the mailbox –
If you had the choice, would you rather than Man City’s current squad/manager with all its finesse and tiki taka or United’s current squad/manager with its swagger and star-studded line-up ?
No sympathy for Hart…City need an upgrade
I get why there are questions being asked of Pep in his ‘treatment’ of Joe Hart but there are a lot of factors that are making this decision quite an easy one for Guardiola. The obvious reason being that he simply doesn’t have the required skill set to play the kind of role that Pep demands of his goalie.
Now don’t get me wrong, Joe Hart is a very good goalkeeper, one of the best I’ve seen in my years supporting City (honourable mentions to Andy Dibble and Martyn Margetson). He has played a huge part in getting City to where we are today but as a team we are evolving and I’m sorry to say Joe is being left behind. Let me stress that in my opinion he is not being left behind due to a regression in ability (some might disagree) but rather that as a team we have improved in overall ability and are being taken in a new tactical and technical direction. We are upgrading the team in most areas of the pitch so why should sentiment dictate that we ignore this particular position in our team? Is it because he is English? Is it because he shows loads of pashun and belts out a national anthem better than most? Is it because he fronts up when things don’t go so well? When you chuck in his poor form and his pre-occupation with how he’s perceived by everyone else (his pre-game shenanigans get right on my tits by the way…less chest thumping shouty shouty might help you focus a bit more Joe, mate!) it’s easy to see why we would be even more keen to upgrade, especially when there are players of the calibre of Bravo available.
With Bravo’s arrival looking imminent we are acquiring a top-class keeper (x2 La Ligas, a Champions League and a couple of Copa Americas in the last couple of years to name a few of his successes) for a relatively modest 20 million euros in the current market. When comparing their stats it looks like even more of a no brainer…Bravo has more passes attempted, more passes completed successfully, less mistakes leading directly to goals…what’s not to like?
Joe Hart has been a corner stone of the most successful City side in our history, that is not in doubt and for that he is a legend at the club but with Pep at the helm we’re hoping that this new team will surpass the achievements of the 2010-2015 spine, and rightly so. It seems Pep has identified certain members of that old team and has decided they have to go. They’ve either regressed, are too injury-prone or have gotten waaaay too comfortable (and fat – Yaya and Nasri I’m looking at you!) and I could not be more on board with it. This is the man that discarded Ronaldinho and Deco when he arrived at Barca, and then Eto’o the following season.
A lot is being made of Caballero starting ahead of Hart at the minute but Willy has had a much longer pre-season adjusting to the our new system and by all accounts is embracing it more than Hart. A perfect example was 46 minutes into our final pre-season friendly against Arsenal and one minute after coming on as a substitute Hart recieved a back pass and with options on short blasted the ball straight out of play landing near the technical areas. Cue a roll of the eyes from Pep and the moment I knew he was finished with us.
I love you Joe and thanks for everything but I love City more!
Mark (behind enemy lines) M32 Blue
…Guy S poses the question on whether us City fans are happy to accept Pep’s treatment of Hart with no murmurs of discontent? In a nutshell Guy, yes we are.
Joe Hart is a professional footballer. It is his job to play football. Much like every other job, his boss has a particular idea of how Joe should perform in said job. Should he fail to meet certain performance targets or adhere to instructions given to him as to how he should perform his, extraordinarily well paid, job then he should not be surprised if his boss seeks to replace him with somebody else who performs in the job as asked. The only loyalty in football is that offered by the fans to their chosen love (club) to everyone else in the football business, it is exactly that, a business setting aside all sentimentality in the pursuit of winning at all costs!
Andy West CTID (to be fair, Joe’s distribution has always been shockingly bad so it’s no surprise he is being replaced)
…In response to Guy S, i’m quite surprised that anything has been made of the Joe Hart situation. He’s been paid well and done a pretty good job over the last few years. He’s pulled out some brilliant performances but also looked like his head is in the clouds sometimes so he’s by no means in the absolute top bracket of goalkeepers. Pep’s come in, obviously doesn’t fancy him from what he’s seen, so he’s not in the team, what’s the problem with that? If Joe wants to stay with us he has to either make the changes to his game that Pep wants, or if he’s not happy then move elsewhere.
I’m not aware of anyone making a serious bid for him in the past, so it’s not as if he’s been paid a pittance at City and achieved nothing, when he could have had riches and glory quite easily elsewhere but stayed with us because he loves East Manchester so much. My favourite piece of nonsense around all this has been Joey Barton saying that his treatment has been disgusting. No Joseph, jabbing fags into people’s eyes is disgusting, this is not.
Some sympathy for Joel and John
Joel Campbell being sent on loan once again has put me in mind of another hard-done-by player that plied their trade at the Arsenal.
I love Joel and so it seems do many of our fans but the manager doesn’t and would rather send him out on loan rather than sell Walcott to boost funds to sign an actual striker, while actually letting Campbell take up a place in the squad. Joel’s treatment also makes me think of another player that I thought was hard done by and may have actually been sold on by Wenger if I’m remembering correctly – that player is John Jensen.
When I was a kid I loved JJ. He had such a wayward shot that one of the wags at my school drew a picture of JJ at a stadium with the caption “On the top of every stadium – there is a ball from John Jensen” aping the “Behind every goal keeper there is a ball from Ian Wright” ad of the time. I was mocked for my love of JJ but I didn’t care though. Arsenal Fan TV even named him in their top 10 of worst Arsenal players ever.
While JJ’s goal in the 1992 European Championships final wasn’t indicative of a great goalscoring talent, he worked his nuts off when he did play for the Arsenal and was a really important player in that squad.
For me, he was one of the players that really made the most of what he had in terms of talent and I personally would rather a player with limited talent that gives his all, then a terrifically talented player that plays with the handbrake on.
So here’s to you JJ – if you’re ever in north London, there’s a pint of Carlsberg awaiting you with your name on it. If you ever do a ‘meet and greet’ with the fans with Mesut Ozil – I’ll be first in the queue for yours rather than the mercurial Mesut’s autograph.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
I watched Leicester vs Arsenal at the weekend and was reminded of a classic episode of the IT Crowd. In the episod (if you haven’t seen it), the nerdy protagonist Moss has learned some stock football phrases in order to converse with ‘proper men’, much to the surprise of his friend Roy. These phrases include “Did you see that ludicrous display last night?”, “What was Wenger doing, bringing Walcott on that early” (Indeed, Walcott played from the first whistle) and lastly “The thing about Arsenal is, they always try and walk it in!”
I checked and this episode was from 2005 or 2006. And people ask why Arsenal fans get frustrated…
Jim G (NFFC and devoted fan of the work of Graham Linehan)
Klopp out of ideas? Pffffft
I found Satwant Singh’s mail this morning, where he states that Jürgen Klopp has ‘very glaringly run out of ideas’, absolutely obscene. Maybe he sh*ts atop a golden toilet so luxurious and so gigantic that his warped perspective is explainable…
But…just in case he’s stuck with a regular porcelain job like the rest of us poor slobs, and, in light of the fact that he, and a few other ‘supporters’ suffer from the same ‘very glaring’ absence of short-term memory, I’d like to run through some of the accomplishments earned by our widely-respected, two-time Bundesliga winning manager in the **10 months** he has been in the Anfield hotseat, this despite the fact that, at some unknown point, he completely ran out of ideas (very sad, btw):
– Defeated finalist in the League Cup.
– Defeated finalist in the Europa League.
– The run to the Europa League Final, by the way, included wins over Manchester United (in the first ever European meeting between the two rivals) and Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga runners-up who were the form side in the competition before we dumped them out).
– How brilliant was that tie, by the way?
– Rejuvenated a large swath of the support.
It should be noted, in all fairness, that Satwant isn’t the only observer Klopp has failed to impress. The ‘Weird Fitness Egg’ (a.k.a. ‘WFE’ a.k.a.’Weird Fitness Bloke’, if you prefer) has also reviewed Herr Klopp’s work unfavorably. In the interest of balance, I did want to note the ‘Expert Opinion’ supporting Satwant’s case.
I firmly believe Satwant and the WFE represent a tiny minority opinion within the wider Liverpool support.
Call me old-fashioned, but I think supporters should demonstrate a little patience during the first month of the season. And, I hate to be stubborn, but I must insist on total and complete sanity when evaluating the performance of our world-class manager. I just think it’s important. And finally, I know it’s controversial, but I think we should remember things that happened last week and use them to develop informed opinions…
I’m fresh out of sarcasm now so I’ll just say that losing 2-0 to a promoted side is frustrating. Hopefully it’s not an indication that our problems with consistency will carry into this season, but it would be way too early to hit the panic button, even if we’d lost both of our first two matches.
Jürgen Klopp, that widely-respected, Two Time Bundesliga winning World Class manager of Liverpool Football Club, has only been in the job for ten months. He’s only been in England ten months. Klopp gave that quote stating this was ‘His Team’, so he is responsible for its composition and results. Some people have then conflated that (very reasonable) notion (man declares himself responsible for himself and his work) with the idea that ‘His Team’ is therefore, necessarily, the finished article. That’s just not true, they aren’t the same thing. If he doesn’t win the League, or finish in the top four, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s failed. He won the Bundesliga in Year Three at Dortmund, but had also previously managed in that league with Mainz.
I’m very thankful that we have a manager who is prudent, confident and reasonable enough to coach the players at his disposal rather than run off into the transfer market to solve every problem. He knew in taking the Liverpool job that the club would spend money, but that it could not compete financially with teams at the very top. We definitely need a new left-back, but I would rather suffer for a couple matches with Moreno and Milner while we get the right player in. Our first choice (Chilwell) preferred to stay with a club in the Champions League. We might not like the fact that another player wasn’t lined up right behind him, but there could be a good reason.
In general, I am more than willing to give our highly-respected, world-class manager the benefit of the doubt. Some of these knee-jerk reactions are sickening, but every club’s support has a few…Klopp isn’t perfect, but he sure-as-sh*t isn’t out of ideas…Madness.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA
I see various comments in the mailbox regarding Liverpool’s poor showing this weekend, but Minty suggesting that that ‘Firmino hasn’t offered a lot so far this season’ and shouldn’t have started is a bit harsh after one Premier League game.
I mean both Kane and Vardy haven’t scored a goal ALL SEASON.
Coutinho: That d*** at five-a-side
Nice piece on Philippe Coutinho. He’s always reminded me of that annoying bloke you occasionally find yourself playing 5-a-side with. This fellow’s clearly a bit better than everyone else on the team but several levels less good than he actually thinks he is. This leads him to pretty much ignore any kind of concerted team ethos in favour of attempting all sorts of solo wonderfulness. He usually fails. This gets him increasingly annoyed, leading to ever more selfishness as he tries to demonstrate his superiority (which no-one doubts anyway), leading to more failure, more annoyance and so on.
Occasionally, of course, the guy scores a wondergoal (like I say, he’s not sh*t, just not as good as he thinks he is) but this just secures him in the knowledge that he is better than everyone else and therefore he can carry on ignoring his team mates and trying to do it all himself. As Simon Barnes once wrote of Anelka (a very similar sort of character), Coutinho ‘is a Beaumont who thinks he’s a Shakespeare’.
I now have an image of a giant Sean Dyche running around Burnley roaring at the press and waving his little arms in an uncontrolled paranoid frenzy.
H, (Just in case it is a thing, this is a joke and I do not discriminate against anyone with short arms…or against dinosaurs.)
Tempering the Palace panic
Seriously, Palace are f***ed before August is out!?!
Sounds pretty hysterical to me but let’s see what the justification is for this extreme opinion…
In a game we weren’t expected to win, an article written by a respected journalist said we were organised and determined, okay. There must be more? Well, of course, also, the Palace official Twitter account only mentioned Connor Wickham three times. Right. The most attacking of our players, in a game where we would expect to be defending for the majority, had the least involvement. Well that is a surprise. Let’s say that Wickham is the problem then, according to the questionable logic put forward, sounds like that position should be invested in. Let’s hope that Benteke gets mentioned on Twitter more than Wickham.
So Pardew now has a week before his position becomes ‘beyond untenable’. Two more games, before the transfer window even closes, to save his job. Four games in to the season, seriously?! Get a f***ing grip.
I’m not Pardew’s biggest fan but let’s give him a chance to see how his squad changes pan out, otherwise what is the point in backing him so heavily in the transfer market. He’s shipped out some popular players that have been with us since the Championship but also brought in some good players, Townsend, Benteke, Mandanda and Tomkins all look like solid additions at Premier League level. If his form of 2016 continues until Christmas and we find ourselves 16th or lower, then I’d be surprised if the club backed him any further. The choice then would be to spend more on players he presumably would request to improve results or change the man in charge.
There are rumblings in the squad of discontent, Delaney has deleted one of his social media accounts with his last action being posting a picture of him and Jedinak. He was furious at being substituted on Saturday, although later had a cast on his leg, and has given an interview saying that they are either “set up wrong or the players aren’t performing”. That is pretty clear what his thoughts are but it seems that Pardew is removing some of the bigger personalities in the squad, unsurprising given the ego of the man, and Delaney may well be the next to be marginalised. Steve Parish and the board have backed Pardew, that is the reality, it’s too late now to change their minds.
Points on a few subjects
* Guy S – just what is this horrific treatment of Joe Hart? Has he not just dropped him and informed him that he is not part of his plans? Manchester City are still paying him an extortionate wage. A manager has come in, assessed his players on merit rather than reputation, and picked players that suit his game plan. While rumours are that the treatment of Schweinsteiger that you refer to seem worse than the Hart situation, I don’t understand why managers are lambasted for having different views than their predecessors (especially ones that were sacked due to a lack of success). Don’t buy the tabloid BS.
* It seems like players are getting the message about the new rule changes – close-ups following decisions seem to show players venting general frustration, without the vitriol towards the referee. It is refreshing to see them treat the officials with something approaching respect. I also love watching pundits realise they have no idea what to make of the new rules with regards to penalty box grappling. They’ve b*tched about it for so long, now it is here they seem to want to complain about how soft the penalties that will inevitably be given from them are.
* If ever the deficiencies of Carrick have been laid bare, the performance of Pogba has well and truly hit the nail on the head. Playing 5-10 yard passes should be the minimum expected of a midfielder at the top level. Taking the ball under pressure, breaking through the lines, passing with pace on the ball – that is what turns a passenger to a game changer. Amazing what a great midfielder can do for a team.
* Haven’t seen it mentioned, but Mkhitaryan looked good in the time he was given against Southampton – he looks like he has a lot of confidence on the ball, and purpose as well. I don’t think Rooney has been as bad a normal in the opening games, but was interesting to get a glimpse of a player who could make a very strong case of replacing him – I think a Rooney injury could be a blessing in disguise, as a run of games for Mkhitaryan could show what United could be with a 10 who can play in a system that can move the ball quickly.
* I also can’t believe Sterling gets booed. It is just preposterous. Hart being dropped? Callous, disgusting. Young footballer moving clubs to try and find more success and suffering a blip in form? Yeah, deserves character assassination from national newspaper and booed by every set of supporters in the country, perfectly acceptable behaviour from adults who actually somehow co-exist in the world.
* I will, however, condone any abuse of Pardew though – he is a complete clown. If he was not English, the press would give him an absolute battering. I love listening to the outrageous hypocrisy (Sunday Supplement is always a good source of poorly informed, contradicting opinions) of the ‘leading’ national journalists. The guy has shown he is incapable of managing a team beyond riding the ‘new manager bounce’, and yet when the next big job with a top, top club passes plucky Pards by, we’ll be reminded of how the brave Englanders are being overlooked for foreigners with their “tactics”.
* As a neutral, this looks like it is going to be a great season to watch, but has put to bed any notion of success in Super 6 this year. Long may it continue.
Sir Bobby: What a man
Thanks for sharing that wonderful Bobby Robson article on Mediawatch. What a man.
Admittedly, when your club is managed by Alan Pardew any act of grace seems inordinately amplified but still – what a f**cking man.
Dad’s getting the Icon Book for his birthday whether he likes it or not. Don’t suppose you can stick in any Carlisle players? Actually, that was a joke but Jimmy Glass isn’t a bad shout…
MOTD spoils everything
I am one of those crazy old-fashioned types who likes to avoid hearing the results of the day’s football matches so I can enjoy Match of the Day with a little suspense. However, the MOTD running order makes this very difficult. Take Saturday for example. When the programme opens with Burnley v Liverpool you pretty much know one of two things will happen. Either Burnley will win, or Liverpool will win seven or eight nil. Once Burnley scored after two minutes you know it was the former. ‘Big’ clubs are only on first against smaller clubs if they have been beaten or hand out a lashing. Burney 0-2 Liverpool would have been last.
Also, I was looking forward to seeing a match between the top two in the country last year. As the mundanity of West Brom, Swansea, Hull City etc passed my eyes it became abundantly clear that Leicester City v Arsenal was going to be nil-nil. I am not avocating a return to one featured match and goals from the rest, far from it. But a match between the top two has to the game of the day, no matter how dull it was. They did this a couple of times last season, I tuned in early doors to watch a match between two contenders only to be faced with Rag End Rovers v Shonking City. No offence to the Shonkers, I will watch all the matches, but just because their mid-table misery exchange featured six goals doesn’t make it more important.
That is before you get to spoiler alert that is them showing a substitution.
However, my running order pain is nothing compared to the highlights show which talks over goals as though you can’t see the screen. Channel 5 do this on the Championship highlights (as does the BBC when doing the early rounds of the cup). You end up with lines like ‘both sides searched for a winner, although neither could break the deadlock’ ahead of them showing another couple of chances. Or, ‘Brentford thought they had found a way back into the game when they were awarded a penalty’ oooh, I wonder if he will score? I find it impossible to watch this kind of highlight show. Why on earth do they have to tell you what happened before they show it? ‘Jones whipped the cross in but Smith just couldn’t get his header on target’ in the split second before you see the header…why not after? Or why not, and this is crazy talk I know, no commentary at all? Just crowd noise, like at an actual match?