Luk who is to blame…
“It is easy to criticise him, it is easy to blame him,” said Jose Mourinho lickspittle Neil Custis on Sky Sports’ Sunday Supplement, saying the Manchester United manager got it “spot on” against Liverpool at Anfield and called him the “master tactician”. Only one thing went wrong…
“Where the plan fell down is that Lukaku couldn’t hold the ball up when it came out. Yes, he had men around him and what have you, but if he holds the ball up, they can get men near him and attack on the counter. Lukaku was poor yesterday and Mkhitaryan went missing; that’s not Mourinho’s fault.”
Yes, Lukaku really did let everybody down on the 22 occasions he touched the ball. Absolutely nobody can blame the manager for him touching the ball fewer times in 90 minutes than any of Manchester City’s three substitutes on Saturday.
Custis continued his theme in The Sun, writing: ‘Had Romelu Lukaku done better with his big chance we would now be talking about a tactical masterclass.’
Oh Romelu, you have been such a bloody idiot. How did you not score from the one chance you were given in 90 minutes? We can only conclude that ‘his performance added weight to his detractors’ argument that he does not do it against the big guns’.
Custis is right on one matter; it really is so easy to criticise Mourinho that his Sun colleague Gavin Newsham did an excellent job on Monday morning, writing:
‘Jose’s United managed just one shot on target in a game when Mourinho’s men did little or nothing to try and win the game, playing the kind of unsightly, anti-football that’s completely at odds with the way they tend to do things at Old Trafford.
‘In days gone by such a performance would have been sold as a ‘Mourinho masterclass’ but they simply won’t buy that at United. It’s just not what they do. He has been warned.’
Silly Gavin. Listen to your elder and better; it would have been a ‘tactical masterclass’ if only it wasn’t for that chump with only 11 goals from 11 games.
‘THERE were just two big chances in this game – one for each team’ – Neil Custis, The Sun.
‘For all the grim reality of that pragmatic approach, United still should have lost, with David De Gea making a world-class save from Joel Matip and both Mo Salah and Emre Can spurning wonderful chances – while even at the end, Matip and Dejan Lovren had clear headers they put over’ – David Maddock, The Daily Mirror.
As xG has moved so far into the mainstream that it is cited on Match of the Day, Mediawatch feels justified in using the xG scoreline from this game: 1.97-0.24.
According to the statisticians, Liverpool had five players who came closer to scoring than Lukaku, whose missed chance was of course the only reason this was not a ‘tactical masterclass’ from Mourinho.
Romelu Lukaku has now played one game against Big Six opposition while playing for a Big Six side, so now is clearly the time to make judgements…
‘Is Romelu Lukaku a flat-track bully? How his stats from Liverpool blank compare to his early-season form’ – Daily Mirror.
‘Is Romelu Lukaku a flat track bully who is too timid in the big games?’ – Daily Telegraph.
Mediawatch does not recall the same discussions when Harry Kane failed to score against Chelsea. Ah but of course he suffers from a ‘curse’.
Pard to argue
Neil Custis and Duncan Castles (who obviously thought his views were ‘spot on’) have a friend in Daily Mail columnist Alan Pardew, who says:
‘JOSE MOURINHO is getting a bit of stick for parking the bus at Anfield but I disagree. To win the Premier League title, you have to beat the top teams, or at least finish near the top of that mini-league against the rest of the ‘big six’. But it’s a long, hard season and Saturday’s draw at Anfield will be a good point at the end of the campaign.’
Rather neatly, Pardew has done our job for us. He is right that ‘to win the Premier League title, you have to beat the top teams, or at least finish near the top of that mini-league against the rest of the ‘big six”. And right now, Manchester City have six points from two games, and United have one point from one game. We know which position we would rather occupy…
The BBC’s Garth Crooks was one of those who found it easy to criticise Jose Mourinho in his Team of the Week, in which he included one Liverpool player…
‘Thankfully, Liverpool did their best to make a game of it and none more so than the impressive Joe Gomez. This is a young, versatile English player who can play as a full-back or in central defence.’
So obviously Garth names him on the right of midfield.
The Long game
The Daily Mirror’s Adrian Kajumba on the Southampton strike pairing of Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long:
‘That both his frontmen, who took it in turn to lead the line rather than operate as a pairing, were so crucial to to Saints rescuing a point also gave Pellegrino food for thought.
‘The recalled Manolo Gabbiadini, making his first start for over a month, scored twice and Shane Long’s trademark, tireless channel-running and chasing of lost causes paid off when he won the penalty which led to the Italian’s equaliser.’
Player rating for Shane Long, as awarded by Kajumba: 4/10.
Remember when there was ‘something sinister going on at Stamford Bridge’ and that ‘something is very, very wrong’ at Chelsea? You must remember because we keep reminding you about Neil Ashton’s ridiculous hyperbole in The Sun after just one Premier League game of the season.
Well, Ashton is at it again after Chelsea’s defeat at his beloved Crystal Palace, writing:
‘Chelsea’s ruthless regime is all about results and Conte has stopped getting them. This is a phoney Chelsea, an imitation Chelsea, a fake Chelsea.’
Which is a tad bizarre because we are pretty sure that between admittedly poor Premier League defeats against Burnley and Crystal Palace, Chelsea played nine games – they won seven, drew one against Arsenal and lost one against Manchester City, the team at the top of the table. The most impressive of those seven wins was away against Atletico Madrid and prompted one Sun writer to opine:
‘There is something fresh, something exciting, something intoxicating about watching Chelsea’s new forward line.’
Oh Neil, you accidentally wrote ‘fresh’ and ‘exciting’ when what you meant was ‘phoney’ and ‘fake’.
Wayne Rooney scored a penalty with his only shot in 89 minutes of turgid football at Brighton but that’s enough to convince The Sun’s Dave Kidd that his signing has been a success…
‘Koeman was sceptical about Everton bringing back prodigal son Rooney from Manchester United on a free this summer.
‘But he would certainly have been glad of some successful arm-twisting from the Goodison board last night. Because what seemed like a sentimental move looked full of cold, hard logic at the Amex yesterday.’
Because of course Everton do not have a single other player who can take penalties. That chump Leighton Baines has missed three of 27 spot-kicks in his career, after all.
Warning of the day
‘CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN is warning Zinedine Zidane he had better not make the same mistake about Tottenham as Pep Guardiola did’ – The Sun.
No he isn’t.
Recommended reading of the day
Priya Ramesh on the Netherlands.
Nick Ames on Tammy Abraham.
Jack Pitt-Brooke on Luka Modric.