Mails: Wenger proving a point to Arsenal

Date published: Monday 19th September 2016 2:07

Arsene Wenger Football365

It’s a big one. A real big one. Got something to add? Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com.

 

A kick up the Arse
Xhan can…so why not let him try?

To all those Arsenal fans wondering why Xhaka and Perez are not starting and why Sanchez is being shoehorned into a lone striker role he is clearly not suited to, look no further than Arsene Wenger’s ego.

Wenger didn’t want to sign any of these players. I can imagine that he announced his intention not to sign anyone during the transfer window to the Arsenal board at the end of last season and that they applauded him for his financial acumen. This was a team that had just finished second after all. That’s two spots better than required, so they’d actually overachieved. Then someone, probably Ivan Gazidis, must have had a quiet word with Wenger in private.

“Listen Arsene, we have the money, you can buy almost anyone.”

“But I don’t need anyone. This team is well-balanced, I have enough cover. Second Ivan, second. Man City spent, where did they finish? Man United, big spenders, where did they finish?”

“But, but…a centre-back? A defensive midfielder? Dear god, a striker at the very least.”

“I will turn Sanchez into a striker. I have Coquelin as a defensive midfielder and Mertesacker and Koscielny will not get injured. Theo will play like the bastard son of Ljungberg and Pires this season.”

“Look Arsene, the fans are restless. If we don’t buy anyone and you lose even one game early in the season…Jesus man, they’ll burn the stadium to the ground and put your head on a spike on top of the rubble. We absolutely have to buy someone”

“I tell you what Ivan. You can make me buy them, but I sure as hell don’t have to play them. I will prove that I didn’t need to spend at all. You just watch me. F**k it, I’ll even send Campbell and Wilshere out on loan. That’s how confident I am. Buy whoever the hell you want, my team does not change.”

So Arsenal fans, get used to Sanchez dropping deep and Coquelin making the only attacking runs. Arsene has a point to prove and he’ll see his side relegated before he’ll admit that he’s wrong. I also have it on good authority that Xhaka is training with the reserves today after he gave up a perfectly good opportunity to pass the ball sideways on the weekend and shot from distance instead. The percentages really don’t back that kind of risk-taking.
JZ in Tallinn (Stockholm syndromed to say Wenger IN)

 

City are just really good, deal with it
Premier League winners and losers

I take umbrage with the assertion in this mornings mailbox that City are nothing but flat track bullies. A few points to consider:

1) At the start of the season every pundit, reporter and pundit’s mum was shouting from the rooftops that Pep and City would not have everything their own way this season. That the smaller teams would provide Pep with a rude awakening. Sorry but it hasn’t happened. With the exception of Sunderland all have been dispatched with a minimum amount of fuss.

2) ‘wait until the have to go to Stoke on a wet and windy day. We’ll see what they’re made of then.’ Result. 1-4. Next.

3) We beat Manchester United on their own ground. You know, the ones with the most expensive player of all time.

Going into that game United had won every game so far, and were being highly tipped to win not only that derby, but the league itself. City played them off their own pitch. The 1-2 result masking just how brilliant City were that day.

4) All of the above has been achieved without Toure, Hart or Kompany, mainstays of the last 5 seasons. We even battered Bournemouth without Silva and Aguero. Take last seasons spine out of any other team and see if they have 100% win ratios and get back to me.

5) Kolarov has played CB in 50% of those games and looked outstanding. This doesn’t really emphasise my point, but, it’s mental and needs acknowledging.

So to conclude, City will play tougher games, and may come a cropper. However, it’s snide and disingenuous to write them off as flat track bullies given all of the above.

As the old saying goes, ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you.’
Jumbo the Blue (We also stuffed Monchengladbach mid week. They must be s**t as well)

 

Is it too early to put up your Christmas tree
A special one? Mourinho looks like an ordinary one

After watching the United – Watford match I believe I’ve came up with some solutions that will help José get the best out of his United team both in the short term and Long term.

Short term – switch formations to a 4-3-2-1, the back 4 can consist of Valencia, Bailly, Smalling and Shaw, then the midfield 3 of Blind who’s capable of defensive midfield and also pinging 50 yard balls that Rooney likes to think he can play. Schneiderlin who’s can break up attacks and regain possession and Pogba who can play in a more attacking role due to the 2 defensive type midfielders behind. Then have Rashford and Martial move them slightly in field as opposed to on the wings and let them interchange with each other dragging defences with them creating space for Ibra or alternatively let Blind ping a long ball up for Ibra to hold up and pass on to Martial or Rashford who can take on defenders with their dribbling.

Long term solution – sell Rooney.

(Here’s hoping Jose reads this f365 mailbox)
Andrew (optimistic United fan)

 

…Good afternoon MC,

I’ve held this in a long long time, seeing that we hired two very, very pedigreed managers in the past three years but the dire, aimless football in the last week has left me with no other choice but to tell you, faithful readers of the F365 mailbox, that I’ve had the answer all along. My apologies, for the fact that I didn’t share this earlier and FTFY United fans out there, but here it comes: the answer to all our footballing problems. Listen up, my beloved senor Mourinho.

1) Stop playing players out of position – just stop it now, Jose. Paul Pogba is not a deep-lying centre-mid, Marcus Rashford isn’t a left winger, Anthony Martial is not a right winger, Daley Blind is not a centre back. Wayne Rooney is not a dependable, goal-scoring footballer anymore.

2) Since when are elbows considered the primary asset of a Manchester United midfielder? Play Daley Blind & Ander Herrera in midfield. The midfield needs people who can pass the ball, and receive it. and pass it again. Pair one of them with Morgan Schneiderlin, or mix it up with an either/or. Don’t forget Morgan’s stats from last year. Remember those days when we were clamouring for an actual midfield? Well it’s sitting on the bench right now.

3) Tony V is the only exception to rule 1) simply because he is a tank. A better strategy for right back though, would be create a portal to travel to a parallel dimension at the halfway line. Every time the Man Utd right back is in the opposing half, we play in the Antonio Valencia dimension, and every time we need defending, we play in the Matteo Darmian dimension. Spend some of those millions on some science stuff. See if we can sign Elon Musk on loan, his SpaceX thing wasn’t going very well last month and I guess he could use the break too.

4) Relegate Fellaini to plan C (elbow the opposition/win headers in midfield to return the ball to the opposition) & Wayne Rooney to secret plan Z (when you really have no idea what to do – reserved for when losing 5-2 to Leicester or 4-0 to MK Dons)

5) Give Mkhitaryan a sustained run in the side. Yes, Rashford got a couple of goals, but are we really thinking a couple of 20 year olds can keep one of the best Bundesliga playmakers out of the side. (yes it could all go Shinji Kagawa but atleast we’ll know)

6) MOVE POGBA TO #10 – DO IT, DO IT NOW JOSE. He’s got the moves and he’s got the nous. PLUS You don’t spend that kind of money to buy a player and give him defensive responsibilities first. Just do it. (I know he’s signed to Adidas)

7) Drop your mind games, atleast till we’re nailed on for the Champions League next season. Get your head down, and go to work. This isn’t Chelsea in their pomp. This isn’t Inter Milan in a league with no real challengers. This isn’t Real Madrid after they just signed our Lord & Saviour His Holiness Krishna. This is a Manchester United side hurting from a few years of humiliation at the highest level, respect that

Here’s how they should line up.

Martial — Zlatan/Rashford — Mkhitaryan
Herrera-Schneiderlin/Blind–Pogba
Shaw–Smalling–Bailly–Valencia
————–De Gea——————

Play this formation. Pace on the wings, smarts in the middle, dead-eye strikers up front – that’s what you’ve always built your sides around. Pogba & Herrera join up for attacks, with Blind/Schneiderlin sitting in behind infront of/between the two CBs. Mata for Mkhitaryan when the going gets tough & there’s some defence unlocking needed, Fellaini for when you need to defensively close out games. Rashford in Martial alternate games maybe. Do this Jose, it works in my head, no reason why it shouldn’t IRL. Rooney can do the screaming at refs thing all game, every game. It’s pretty much his only remaining skill.

Pep took your pants off, with a copyrighted first half blitzkrieg, Gio & that passenger Dirk Kuyt had you undone on passion, and yesterday, you were humbled by Walter Mazzari. Come on Jose, listen to the fans, listen to people who don’t want mind games/player blaming this early in the season. We’ve had a terrible few years in terms of on field performances, and we’ve whole-heartedly accepted you as the the Great Red Hope of 2016. Say it like it is, like you always have. We’re crying out like those Scousers from the top of the Apple building in Savile Row. Don’t let us down.

Do it for the kids, Jose.
Vineet (another year of this and my red devil tattoo will fade)

 

Mourinho’s masterplan
Manchester United look completely uninspired and tactically inept. Over the past three games we’ve looked as bad as any time in the past three years. There is absolutely no need to panic though. Mourinho does not care about this year.
If there is one thing we know about Jose, it is that it all has to be about him and unless he gets it all absolutely his way his performance as manager dips, whether its a conscious decision or not in his part can be left to conjecture.

Mourinho has in the past thrown his toys out of the pram to the detriment of the team and the club just to get his way. Clearly at Manchester United Mourinho still does not have all the eggs he wants at the club. He has already started putting the blame on his predecessors and pointing to the work he needs to get done.

Backstage he is probably making a list of players he needs to get that job done. If he was to win the league at a cantor this year, the argument would have been much harder to make to get the board to sanction another window of spending after this summer.

Mourinho will move Rooney on, he knows it and he is just waiting till the board sees the commercial benefit of having him as the face of the club is not worth keeping him in the team. The way to off set the commercial loss is having other players with the same commercial pull. Players like Pogba and Ibrahimovic. For all of their qualities on the pitch, both of them are also massive social media stars all over the world. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in where that seems to be a consideration for Manchester United before buying players.

Mourinho would much rather prefer sneaking in 4th this season than losing out to Manchester City in a close fight and coming second. Europa league he clearly does not care for.

It is a dangerous game and we could end up coming in 7th and Mourinho getting the chop. I am hoping he will not let that happen. Another defeat and expect Mourinho to shut up shop and grind for 1-0s, it is very unlike Mourinho to set out a team playing as expansively as Manchester United have tried to do and failed in the past three games.
Shehzad Ghias, mufc, Karachi

 

…Please, please, please, can we just reflect on the reality of this situation, put our feet back on the ground, and grasp a sense of perspective here? Yes it was bad, in fact was completely f**king awful, but we’d be deluded to expect Jose to change United’s fortunes in the space of a few games. We have in some ways deceived ourselves already by winning our first four games without really doing all that much. Can we even say that we’ve been anywhere near approaching brilliant in any of the games that we’ve won thus far? I’ll answer that for you. NO. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Wining these games has papered over the chasms which we were left with from the LVG era. However, our recent results now highlight the enormity of the job that lies ahead for Jose. Long story short, it’s going to take time.

A new manager and a whole host of new players aren’t going to automatically guarantee immediate success, even when you do spend £89 million on a single player (eyes are still watering). We have four potential new 1st team players, all of them playing in a new league (Pogba never really got a chance in the Premier League before someone tries pointing out the bleeding obvious), trying to integrate themselves into a team clearly hungover from our last dictatorship of tedium, and all trying to work together as one unit whilst learning a completely new system under a new manager. And we expect them to just click? Let’s get real. We’re still only in September. SEPTEMBER!!! Once again, this is going to take time. So please, can we just stop with the knee jerk reactions before we end up breaking our own noses.

Finally to address the potato in the room. A few weeks back Al Williams wrote in to the mailbox to defend Rooney and suggest that he should still be in the first team due to his leadership qualities. I call bulls**t! He must be deluded. I have no idea what could possibly make you believe such tripe after performances like yesterday. He’s beyond abysmal now.
Al Williams
p.s City look a bit too good and are frightening the kadjongos’s off me – this makes me sad.
Can’t we all just slow down?
‘H’
and a few people expounding the excitement of City, Liverpool and Spurs use of the ‘forward or Geggenpress’. He went on to say how Conte’s caution was one of the reasons they lost. Trouble is ‘H’ Chelsea were meeting a midfield that contained Lallana, Wijnaldum and Henderson that will run and cover circa 14km’s in a match. Now I’m not sure the last time you look at Cesc’s stats but that isn’t going to cut it. So Conte wanted to win the midfield battle. He didn’t as Matic and Oscar did not turn up. Well to be quite frank none of the team showed up until it was too late.

You see the challenge we have with Geggen or forward press is it encourages the use of animals that can just cover acres of ground, breaking down attacks to feed it to the skillful players. Sturridge, Coutinho, Mane.

The nightmare scenario is that teams will not look to beat the likes of City, Liverpool and Spurs tactically but will employ the same tactics. You see it’s only good and original if used by the few. If adopted by all we will get a geggenpress morass as side’s look for trigger points chasing each other around the field with no time on the ball, constant fouls and little place originality.

I am looking forward to those who will take up the battle to undo ‘the press’ and give us alternatives, If not youth football will become a sea of 6ft plus 14 year olds tearing round the pitch as they look to win the ball.
Pete B

 

…Thoughts on the managerial situation in the division:

1. To Mr. H who asserts pep, poch and klopp are the deals, please purchase and watch the season reviews of Conte’s Juventus, and Italy. Particularly how his pro-active Italy passed and thugged their way out of Spain’s tiki-taka in the Euro. Antonio Conte is one of the most pro-active attacking manager from the land of Italy.

2. Regardless of whether Antonio was a Chelsea manager, I’d stick out to support him (as he is a chelsea manager it makes it more passionate)

3. The current Chelsea team is not yet Conte stamped. A long way off. 99% of the team is the team that sucked royally last season.

4. The two Liverpool goals were resultant of individual defensive errors (I dont want to write more on this for fear of breaking down emotionally) that was characteristic of Chelsea last season. I give Pool credit for their play. Conte had a plan, which was to invite pressure, absorb press, counter press, pass the ball from defense to wide spaces. Some day some team (heck by the time we come to Anfield we may be ready) will do that to Pool and its going to be interesting how Pool react. Chelsea clearly werent equipped to do that.

5. Conte will know his team’s glaring weakness now, more importantly Emenalo must know this.

6. On Jose, as someone rightly pointed out here his biggest need is to do some soul searching. I really wish he had taken a year off after Madrid. Between pep and Jose, Jose was more affected during their stay in Spain. Jose drained Pep, and drained himself more at Madrid.

7. The game has now moved on, and Jose’s methods and football are on the brink of becoming obsolete as evidenced by last season’s demise and how poor United are performing.

8. There are no drogbas, makeleles, essiens, JTs, Militos, or the whole bunch of Inter players today. We are at an age where the players (the lot who were born after 90) probably looked up to Pep’s Barcelona and as a result are more tuned towards pro-active football. This is a theory I read sometime last December and makes sense “to me” seeing how football in general has evolved since 2008.

9. Brings me back to Jose, he has to rethink his personnel management and motivation techniques – which were his predominant strengths through which he won whatever he won. He is not a tactically sophisticated coach. He has lost his ability to connect with players, Madrid and Chelsea definitely proved it. Unless he corrects it soon, trouble beckons.

10. I did see the full watford game, and please credit Walter Mazzari, another good coach. They had a plan, a structure and knew what to do. As awful United were, credit to Watford also. It is not United’s results that are alarming, rather their team selections and lack of motivation.

11. As a final point, we are at a point where the top teams do not have 4-5 leaders as the Chelsea had once upon a time along with the United team under Fergie. The leadership and balls are in the dugouts with the managers, and boy we have a heck a lot of it in the PL. So, to speak the cliche, it is a championship of coaches and it is already apparent big time. Players and teams are starting to embody the managers and this will only evolve. Unless Jose can adapt, it is going to be another sorry season.
Aravind, Chelsea fan

 

Henderson’s relish
Football365’s early winner: Jordan Henderson

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of praise for Henderson in the mailbox and probably an equal amount of “a swallow doth not make a summer” type rebuttal but I would like to send some love to the gammy legged running machine.

In Liverpool’s almost season Hendo was fantastic. He was assured in possession, positionally sound and even chipped in with a few belters and worldy assists. Now he obviously had Suarez and an in form/fit Sturrridge to feed which makes life easier but I see no reason why with Liverpool’s depth and movement up front this season he cannot reproduce that form. Pools season collapsed in the last 3 games, two of which Henderson was suspended for after getting sent off at city. This is no coincidence. He allowed the attackers to roam free and lose the ball because he was always there to mop up and had the vision to provide defence splitting passes. Without him pool just looked less stable.

Clearly the talent is there, he just needs a run of games in his favoured position (probably not going to happen ) and I think we will see the Henderson of old.
Stu (Chelsea deserved a draw? Ahahahahahaha) Cornwall

 

Fat Man Scouse asked for Jordan Henderson’s shooting stats, so here they are:
4 shots taken, 1 goal. Less shots per game than every other Liverpool midfielder, and one defender too (Clyne). Also less than the likes of John Terry.
If you want to talk career wise, he has scored 1 in every 8 games for Liverpool, not bad for a non-goal scoring player. To compare him with another midfielder across Stanley Park that Fat Man might be more familiar with, Ross Barkley scores around 1 in 7 so far in his career, marginally better, but so far this season has taken 3.5x as many shots per game.
Sure sometimes Jordan Henderson fires off silly shots, but he’s not the sort of player that pops one every time he’s on the edge of the box.
Save the profligacy talk for Coutinho and Lallana please.
KC (why is John Terry having a shot a game?)

 

First off I would like to slam F365 for their constant slamming of Jordan Henderson and their now revisionist agenda that he is now the greatest thing since sliced bread (citing Gary Neville because when he says it, it must be finally true!).

Real Liverpool fans in the past 3 or 4 years have always rated Henderson, it is not new to us that he is capable of displays like the one against Chelsea. That display was the norm during the 13/14 season and title challenge and him being suspended for the Chelsea game and subsequent 2 games was a major factor in us blowing the title.

The only doubt real Liverpool fans had this season was could he get back to the 13/14 form after his injury set-backs for majority of the 15/16 season, he played nearly all his games last year under duress due to his injury so yes that is why he looked poor.

So stop acting like idiot fans and jumping on a whipping boy regardless of how he performs and have a bit more class in your judgement..yer know actually analyse somebody’s performance properly!

And don’t be big hypocrites and say that “now he is good, we now rate him”…he has been good for years (mitigating factors interrupted), just admit you had it in for him and admit your judgement errors.
Aidan, Dublin

 

Chelsea left Red faced
16 conclusions: Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool
Not sure what game M4RCU5X15, CFC was watching on Friday night, but his assertion that “bar a couple of defensive relapses(David Luiz was not at Fault) the match deserved to be a draw. Liverpool are fragile, but play well in spells” was so far off the mark, it belonged in Mediawatch!

Liverpool dominated the first half and were worthy of a two goal lead at half time. Anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong. Chelsea didn’t move the ball about quick enough and certainly didn’t force Mignolet into any notable saves in the first half. Liverpool, on the other hand, were constantly attacking the home side and were intercepting the ball well and breaking down Chelsea’s counter attacking football with minimum fuss. If anything, we looked like the home side. That’s something that rarely happens at Stamford Bridge.

In the second half, we started well for the first 5 -1 0mintues and then Chelsea had a good spell for about 20 minutes, in which they scored. After that, they didn’t a lot and it was more or less all Liverpool again. If anyone was going to score after Costa had, it was more than likely going to be Liverpool. Chelsea just seemed to pepper the Liverpool half with long balls for the final 20 minutes, but that was understandable as they were chasing the game. However, the balls they played in were almost all dealt with by us well. I’m a bit disappointed with the goal we conceded, but that’s more down to one bad piece of defending from the team as a whole. Other than that, Chelsea looked rather ordinary. Hazard, who looked to have found his feet again wasn’t in the game, Cahill looks like he’s off the pace, and Ivanovic is just a shell of the once brilliant player he was.

I thought Friday’s win was even more comprehensive a victory than the previous season’s 3-1 win, if I’m honest. We just seemed to be under very little pressure from an unbeaten team who were playing at home.
So yeah, sorry M4RCU5X15, but a draw was never on the cards on Friday from the moment we took the lead. You should be thankful that you only got beat 2-1 and the defeat wasn’t a lot heavier.

Cheers
Neil (This Joe Matip’s a bit good, isn’t he?!) Mulvaney

 

Where are all the defensive midfielders?
For all the recent talk over the last few years of a dearth of world class centre halves in the premier league there’s little chatter about the lack of truly top drawer defensive midfielders, now obviously the role of the centre midfield has changed significantly like all the other positions have, gone are days of having a hatchet man in the vain of a nigel De Jong patrolling in front of your back four.

But think back to when we dominated europe we had mascherano/alonso at liverpool Carrick/Hargreaves at united and the best of the bunch makelele at Chelsea. For all we copied/learnt from gaurdiola’s Barcelona we failed the recognise possibly their most crucial player in the system they played sergio busquets a player with incredible tactical nous, excellent at regaining possession and a excellent passer of the ball seriously watch the guy in a YouTube compilation he’s fantastic in my opinion the best midfielder in the world.

Other than chelsea, city & spurs there aren’t many sides who have a very good holding midfielder not world class just very good holding midfielder. Eric dier or kante is probably the best in that role in the league at moment but they haven’t got much competition fernandiniho is very good but after that it’s probably coquelin who is a red card waiting to happen, matic who’s gone backwards dramatically over the last 18 months emre can who is prone to lapses in concentration and carrick and Barry both of whom are mid thirties and probably leaving their clubs in the near future, but that’s a weak list when you think of the players, Bayern, barca, real and juventus have in that role.

Why wasn’t there a greater clamour for khedira when he was leaving real? or why hasn’t there been a huge amount of bullshit/speculation surrounding busquets when his barca contract negotiations start rolling around? This was all brought on by watching west hams recent games against Watford and west Brom. Now of course a defensive midfielder won’t stop your left back from handling the ball from corner in your penalty area but it will take a significant amount of pressure off your centre halves any time a team attacks you. When you have mark noble as your number four you know your up shits creek. Its no surprise when you look through all the previous winners of the premier league and the players they had in the number 4 role who were shielding their back four and dominating midfield battlers for their sides.
David (the #noble4england brigade have quietened down a bit) Burzio

 

Fellaini is a dead parrot
Guy S said this morning that “Fellaini has been a revelation this year” and I noticed recently that even F365 had started to report that United fans were begrudgingly accepting him.

There is a Monty Python sketch called “Dead Parrot” where, for those of you living under a rock, John Cleese complains that the parrot sold to him is actually dead and nailed to the perch. The shopkeeper however insists he is simply stunned. I won’t labour the point but don’t put a United shirt on a tree and tell me it’s a midfielder. I could dissect his game much more but next time he plays watch and witness these 3 things:

1) Fellaini will often move to receive the ball with his back to goal no matter where on the pitch. Most of the time he will not know whether he is in space because he will not have looked behind him before receiving it (if he does and there’s a man, watch the elbows come up to face level). There is therefore little attempt to turn with the ball using his first touch and “control out” into his path so that he can look up and pass forward quickly. Instead, he’ll either take a touch to turn if he can but in any case the ball will most often go back, slowing play and allowing opposition defenders to get into position. I have actually dared my mates to agree to a shot each forward pass. It was an incredibly easy drinking game.

2) In addition to sideways or backwards, Fellaini’s passes also tend to be shorter than 10 yards. Whilst this is great for keeping the ball in a pass and move system, Fellaini makes very little effort after a pass to actually move into a position where he can receive it back. In fact, you will more often than not see him trot (honestly watch him, he barely ever breaks a sprint) into a position which intentionally puts a defender between him and the ball (this happened more when Van Gaal played him wide and he did his “bring long ball down, pass short to Young” but he still does it at the base of midfield). Against a pressing team (and consequently the ones he looks most lost against) the player closing Fellaini down is already in motion in the direction of the recipient of the pass, putting them under greater pressure, and (without Fellaini moving into a side position to receive the ball back) forced to either pass long or wide, at which point those players (often fullbacks with one route) are easily pressed immediately.

3) For all his height, he is genuinely terrible in the air. He rarely uses a run up or jumps properly, preferring to rely on his height and arms (hence so many fouls). His technique also consists of simply aiming to make contact with the ball rather than generating any proper power from the neck (the hair can’t help either but that’s another thing).

Honestly I swear out loud every time I see him in the starting line up. He is the exact opposite of Scholes and not fit to lace the boots of Keane. I thought with Mourinho we would have seen the last of him but no, he’s there to “be awkward”. There was actually a moment against Watford in the second half where he received the ball and turned (my gf who I explained the drinking game rules to got excited but I said “wait”), Zlatan was free in space with one to beat near the edge of the box and called with his arm up, only to see Fellaini turn back and pass it sideways (Zlatan screams at him off ball afterwards if you watch).

Rooney can at least be shunted up front and wide for his work rate. There is no place for Fellaini in any team with title aspirations.
David P (Manc abroad)

 

Getting Horny
As a Watford fan, I’m pretty happy right now. Not only because of yesterday’s result (which was just ridiculously satisfying) but due to a very decent start so far and the familiar feeling that the pre-season prognosticators are again going to have their lazy, identikit opinions proven wrong. Most notably, for the second season running, it appears that bringing in a new manager with zero premier league experience does not necessarily lead to immediate disaster. You would think that anyone with half an eye on Southampton would have clocked that one by now.

The Hornets have so far picked up four points from two away games and three points from three home games (which have been against Cheslea, Arsenal, Man Utd). After what some have quite fairly identified as one of the trickiest starts in the league, Watford are eighth in the nascent table, with seven points, and only Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool have scored more

After what happened in the second half of last season under Flores, I’m not counting any chickens. But with the next run of five games against Burnley, Bournemouth, Middlesbrough, Swansea and Hull, I’m hopeful of picking up another point or two before Christmas. Come on you Horns!
Simon, Vienna

 

Bale b****ks
I can sympathise with Tom, Cambridge‘s desire to find an example of a new signing struggling to find his feet, only to go on to justify his megastar price tag, so as to have someone he can compare to Paul Pogba, but can we please put this ‘Bale wasn’t all that in his first season at Real Madrid’ nonsense to bed? It’s on a par with ‘Wenger turned erstwhile unknown Henry into a striker’, just plainly not true.

Bale scored a goal every other game from the wing and won the Copa Del Rey and Champions League, scoring decisive goals in both, in his first season. It was, by any reasonable standard, a raging success. The only similarity between the two players is a world record fee and you’re deluded if you think Pogba is anywhere near on track for a similarly successful season.
Simon (a player can still be great and overpriced) CFC

 

…Let us not forgotten how poorly a certain Welshman performed in his first season for Real Madrid…
– 22 goals
– 16 assists
– Scored the winner against bitter rivals Barcelona in the Copa Del Rey final
– Scored in the 110th minute of the extra time period to put Real Madrid 2–1 up against city rivals Atlético Madrid in the Champions League final, helping them win their historic tenth European Cup

Yup, rubbish.
Jim, Farnham

 

…I’m one of those sad-case Spurs fans who still worships the very ground over which Gareth Bale hovers, sublime and god-like.

As such, I have to take issue with the view of Tom from Cambridge that he didn’t exactly set the Bernabeu alight in his first season at Real Madrid.

In his first season with Real, he scored 22 goals in 44 games in all competitions, including the winner in the Copa del Rey final and the winner in the Champions League final to deliver ‘La Decima’. Admittedly these goals weren’t actually IN the Bernabeu but I don’t think the fans minded much.

I don’t know if that qualifies as setting things alight but if it doesn’t, I wouldn’t want to go to a barbecue at Tom’s house without flame-retardant pants on.
Rob Davies, THFC (Safe to say that Pogba won’t manage a first season quite like that)

 

Who’s in charge here?
Thoughts on the managerial situation in the division:

1. To Mr. H who asserts pep, poch and klopp are the deals, please purchase and watch the season reviews of Conte’s Juventus, and Italy. Particularly how his pro-active Italy passed and thugged their way out of Spain’s tiki-taka in the Euro. Antonio Conte is one of the most pro-active attacking manager from the land of Italy.
2. Regardless of whether Antonio was a Chelsea manager, I’d stick out to support him (as he is a chelsea manager it makes it more passionate)
3. The current Chelsea team is not yet Conte stamped. A long way off. 99% of the team is the team that sucked royally last season.
4. The two Liverpool goals were resultant of individual defensive errors (I dont want to write more on this for fear of breaking down emotionally) that was characteristic of Chelsea last season. I give Pool credit for their play. Conte had a plan, which was to invite pressure, absorb press, counter press, pass the ball from defense to wide spaces. Some day some team (heck by the time we come to Anfield we may be ready) will do that to Pool and its going to be interesting how Pool react. Chelsea clearly werent equipped to do that.
5. Conte will know his team’s glaring weakness now, more importantly Emenalo must know this.
6. On Jose, as someone rightly pointed out here his biggest need is to do some soul searching. I really wish he had taken a year off after Madrid. Between pep and Jose, Jose was more affected during their stay in Spain. Jose drained Pep, and drained himself more at Madrid.
7. The game has now moved on, and Jose’s methods and football are on the brink of becoming obsolete as evidenced by last season’s demise and how poor United are performing.
8. There are no drogbas, makeleles, essiens, JTs, Militos, or the whole bunch of Inter players today. We are at an age where the players (the lot who were born after 90) probably looked up to Pep’s Barcelona and as a result are more tuned towards pro-active football. This is a theory I read sometime last December and makes sense “to me” seeing how football in general has evolved since 2008.
9. Brings me back to Jose, he has to rethink his personnel management and motivation techniques – which were his predominant strengths through which he won whatever he won. He is not a tactically sophisticated coach. He has lost his ability to connect with players, Madrid and Chelsea definitely proved it. Unless he corrects it soon, trouble beckons.
10. I did see the full watford game, and please credit Walter Mazzari, another good coach. They had a plan, a structure and knew what to do. As awful United were, credit to Watford also. It is not United’s results that are alarming, rather their team selections and lack of motivation.
11. As a final point, we are at a point where the top teams do not have 4-5 leaders as the Chelsea had once upon a time along with the United team under Fergie. The leadership and balls are in the dugouts with the managers, and boy we have a heck a lot of it in the PL. So, to speak the cliche, it is a championship of coaches and it is already apparent big time. Players and teams are starting to embody the managers and this will only evolve. Unless Jose can adapt, it is going to be another sorry season.
Aravind, Chelsea fan

 

If Carlsberg did Mondays…
Sat on the beach, 30 degree heat, two mailboxes to read and one is full of upset Man Utd fans. Blissful.
Brownario (I think I died in an accident cos this must be heaven)

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