How wrong we were
‘Moyes needed to use his experience, his nous, to manufacture Sunderland’s escape from chains so loose that Houdini would have scoffed before rolling his eyes. What followed was ten measly points from 21 league matches. Moyes and Sunderland were done.
‘The weirdest element of this capitulation is that Moyes, for so long the archetypal dour Scot by personality, has projected an image of positivity that has bordered on propaganda. While the Sunderland squad reportedly refer to him privately as the ‘energy vampire’, Moyes used press conferences to paint a rose-tinted picture of Sunderland life. We were repeatedly told that results were hard on Sunderland, and that performances justified better. Even after the 5-1 defeat on the final day, Moyes focused on his insistence that the fifth goal was offside. It would be funny were we not dealing with a manager’s fall into the abyss.
‘Like Steve McClaren, this is a British manager who belongs in the last decade. If the game has moved on, they have not moved with it. If the game has stayed the same, they have fallen backwards. In a decade’s time, we will look back with raised eyebrows and shaken heads at David Moyes’ appointment by Manchester United. From his greatest honour, Moyes has been careering downhill ever since’ – Football365, May 22, 2017.
Or, hang about a bit and earn a promotion. One of the two.
What David wants
A reminder for West Ham fans of what Moyes considers essential in improving a club: Britishness.
In August 2016:
“He [Papy Djilobodji] needs a lot of schooling, that’s what I would say. He needs a lot of schooling, and I’ve got an awful lot of work to do on the training ground just to get the Britishness into him. I don’t want to take out all his natural ability.”
In December 2016:
“I told him [Billy Jones] that he would definitely be involved if he got himself back fit. We’ve got Javier, who has also done well in games, but I felt we needed a bit of Billy’s Britishness when we were struggling for some results.”
In March 2017:
“I decided I wanted Jack and Gibbo together. I thought the game might suit more Britishness in the middle of the pitch.”
Thirteen of West Ham’s last 14 permanent signings? Non-British. Looks like the first drill on the training ground will be patriotism.
Slight difference of opinion
‘Antonio Conte’s future has been rocked by the exit of Chelsea chief Michael Emenalo. Roman Abramovich’s right-hand man was a major ally of under-fire Conte’ – The Sun ‘exclusive’, November 7.
‘Chelsea’s sporting director Michael Emenalo’s surprise decision to stand down will be seen in some quarters as a good thing for Conte as they clashed over transfers. This must be seen as a strengthening of Conte’s precarious position’ – Daily Mirror, November 7.
So it’s either ‘rocked his future’ or ‘strengthened his position’. Glad that’s clear.
Scaling back your ambitions
In Tuesday’s The Sun, Neil Custis writes about the possibility of Jose Mourinho leaving Manchester United for Paris Saint-Germain, and says that Mourinho’s representatives has spoken to PSG:
‘The flirtation with PSG still raised eyebrows at Old Trafford — as will this approach.
‘It is not the first time they have attempted to get him, having tried to hijack his appointment at Old Trafford in summer 2016. PSG’s sporting director Antero Henrique worked with Mourinho at Porto and will be seen by PSG as a key player in trying to land him.
‘Mourinho is nearly halfway through his three-year contract and United want to tie him down to a new one but there have been no negotiations so far.’
It’s weird that Custis says that there have been ‘no negotiations’ between Mourinho and United over a new contract, because it was only on October 12 that Custis told us how ‘Jose Mourinho is ready to sign new £65million five-year Manchester United deal after brilliant start to Premier League season’.
‘Mourinho, 54, is the best-paid manager in world football alongside his Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola, with both earning £250,000 a week,’ Custis wrote then.
‘This basic wage will stay about the same but the Portuguese’s incentive package for trophies and league positions is set to rocket. The final details are still to be agreed.’
So from the basic wage, bonus payments and length of the contract being confirmed but finer details to be agreed to ‘there have been no negotiations so far’ in the space of three weeks. That is some impressive backtracking.
This will shock you but…
…Stan Collymore thinks the Premier League is rubbish because Manchester City are running away with the title (‘League is Premier in name only’). It’s almost as if… oh you know the ending by now.
And there’s more
Sticking with Collymore, because he actually manages to use Manchester City’s dominance of the Premier League as a stick with which to beat Manchester City. You have to admit that that is fine, fine work.
‘Tottenham are probably the only team in England, everything considered, that I would pay money to watch,’ Collymore writes in his Daily Mirror column.
‘Not Manchester City – good to watch, but I just can’t get excited about them as a club. They are trying to build the best team with the biggest budget. What does that mean?
‘Is it a great team or do they simply have the biggest budget? Anyone can do that.’
There you go, Pep Guardiola. Don’t for a minute think you are special for the way Manchester City are playing at the moment, in the Premier League and Champions League. Because ‘anyone could do that’.
It’s weird City pay Guardiola so much money really, rather than just picking a fan out of the crowd each week.
Changed your tune
‘Forget Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, it’s got to be Spurs for me. They are exciting because of their philosophy, manager, youth and the progress of the club.
‘Stories like Harry Kane and Dele Alli, the way they play, the rise of Mauricio Pochettino – all these things get me excited and are the reasons why I want to watch football’ – Stan Collymore, November 7.
All very sensible. Mediawatch thinks you are probably allowed to enjoy watching more than one club, but there is no doubt that Spurs are exciting. It’s great to see Collymore enthused by them. Especially after he wrote this six months ago:
‘There are plenty going overboard about Tottenham right now. And, as they head into the North London derby with Arsenal today, Spurs seem to be everyone’s darlings. With a season at bogey ground Wembley beckoning while the new stadium is built, followed by the 2018 World Cup which will put Kane and Alli in the global shop window, trouble definitely lurks.
‘Last season, they managed to finish third in a supposed two-horse race. And while this term they look to have more steel, greater experience and a hunger to make their mark, they will still almost certainly finish empty-handed yet again
‘Two near-misses is just about acceptable given the age of Pochettino’s team. But three in a row would surely border on wastefulness. Because for all the back-slapping, the reality is that right now there are still lots of ifs, buts and maybes about Tottenham.’
Ifs, buts, maybes and an awful lot of excitement.
The new meaningless bee in Charlie Sale’s bonnet
‘England manager Gareth Southgate’s raft of team-building initiatives includes closing the doors of the hotel at St George’s Park to the public when the senior squad are in residence during international weeks. During that time the players will share the massive facility only with people booked in on football business.
‘This decision, put into practice for the first time this week, has seen players wandering around the hotel far more than they would have done if — horror of horrors! — members of the public or the media had been staying there’ – Charlie Sale, Daily Mail, August 30.
‘The brown tourist road signs showing the way to St George’s Park feature a football and a bed, signifying that there is a Hilton hotel at the football centre. But with the FA likely to continue banning the public from its 228 rooms when England are staying there, the bed symbol will surely have to go’ – Charlie Sale, Daily Mail, November 7.
Not unless England’s senior players are planning on living there full-time Charlie, rather than the 20 days of the year they actually spend at the complex. What a non-story.
Worst take of the day
‘Manchester United are statistically the LAZIEST Premier League team so far this season’ – The Sun.
Can we all stop this notion that distance covered is the true marker of laziness? Thanks.
Recommended reading of the day
Michael Martin on remembrance.
Adam Hurrey on Gianluca Vialli.
Donald McRae with George Graham.