The state of the game
‘7 things we spotted from Arsenal’s charity Christmas jumper team photo’ – Mirror Football.
‘Sead Kolasinac weirdly suits a Christmas jumper.’
Just say no
After Daley Blind took and scored Manchester United’s second penalty against Benfica on Tuesday evening, Paul Scholes criticised Romelu Lukaku for not taking it. Lukaku had quite clearly wanted to take the penalty, but had been told by Jose Mourinho that Blind should. He followed his manager’s orders.
Still, Scholes decided to pile in:
“He has to demand it himself. He might be short on confidence. He should push everyone out of the way and say ‘I’m getting on the score sheet’.”
Because history shows that disobeying the direct orders of Jose Mourinho is truly the way to stay on his good side.
Attack! Attack! Attack, attack, attack
Sticking with Paul Scholes, and here is his assessment on BT Sport of the demand for Manchester United to play attacking football under Mourinho:
“They’re in a position where they’ve brought a manager in to ultimately win the league. For four years the club hasn’t really been in a position to determine how they win it.
“We’d all like to see brilliant attacking football – waves after waves of attack – but I don’t think this team is capable of that.
“That’s not the way this manager does it. He’s first and foremost a defensive coach. He wants to set up in a way that will stop the other team playing and winning games. He’s doing that.”
Fair enough. Mourinho is a pragmatist who sees winning as the priority, not entertainment. That sounds to Mediawatch like a pretty accurate assessment of his methods, and Scholes was not angry or dismissive when he spoke.
In fact, as The Sun‘s online version of the story says in a caption: ‘Paul Scholes was in favour of Manchester United ditching attacking philosophy for results.’ Indeed.
Perhaps The Sun’s Neil Custis didn’t manage to watch Scholes’ answer then. That is the only explanation for the front page of their football pullout on Wednesday.
‘Paul Scholes launched a scathing attack on ‘defensive’ United boss Jose Mourinho after another dour display,’ Custis writes before continuing on the same theme.
He really, really didn’t, Neil.
Reid all about it
‘SUNDERLAND failed to beat Bolton last night and Simon Grayson became the latest manager to leave the Stadium of Light – and now the club must go back to the future to save itself,’ writes Ian Murtagh in the Daily Star, and Mediawatch knew what was coming. ‘By appointing Peter Reid, 15 years after his first spell in charge on Wearside.’
‘Last night’s 3-3 draw with Bolton prolonged their winless streak on home soil to an embarrassing 19 games and the sceptre [sic] of another relegation into the abyss will loom large.
‘The last time it looked possible was in March 1995 when a wretched Friday night defeat at Barnsley shunted the trapdoor wide open. Step forward Peter Reid to replace the sacked Mick Buxton and spark a revival which not only preserved second flight status but went on to achieve two promotions and two seventh-place finishes in the Premier League.’
It’s at this point that Mediawatch scurried off to check that the only managerial job in English football Reid has had since 2005 was a spell at Plymouth Argyle when he was sacked with the club bottom of the Football League (albeit in financial crisis). In the last six years, his only managerial experience at all came in a six-game spell with Mumbai City. It would be a gamble.
Still, Murtagh has the answer to his doubters:
‘All Reid asked for was a few hundred quid to launch his Mackem revolution. Money needed to take the players he inherited on a massive binge. The new man called it team-bonding.
‘It worked a treat. Players were invigorated and so too were the crowd.
‘Reid may not tick all the boxes but he ticks the ones this crisis-torn club needs right now.’
Yes, what Sunderland’s players need to do right now when they are in the Championship relegation zone is go out on the piss more often. Because what worked in 1995 will certainly still work in 2017.
Hatchet job #1
‘FOR THE FIRST TIME in his life England must have felt like home to Antonio Conte. Normally, Chelsea’s manager cannot wait to scarper back to Italy whether to lounge on the beach in his budgie smugglers or watch his beloved Juventus. So it must have felt a little strange last night when he couldn’t get onto a private plane quick enough’ – Andrew Dillon, The Sun.
Conte did indeed used to return to Italy regularly, to visit his wife and children who lived there and have now moved to England. What a d*ck move, eh.
Hatchet job #2
There is no doubt that Conte is under some pressure at Chelsea, yet Dillon’s piece offers a remarkably one-eyed view of the situation. The best is here:
‘The last time Chelsea lost this heavily in Europe the board moved swiftly and didn’t give the manager any time to think, axing Roberto di Matteo the very next day. And they were European champions at the time.
‘Conte’s stock is a bit higher than his predecessor but odd as it sounds, there’s been a spanking waiting to happen for Chelsea lately, despite winning three games on the spin before the wheels came off last night.
‘They were trailing to Watford, were wobbly against Everton and failed to cash in on a sackful of chances against Bournemouth on Saturday.’
That’s an awfully negative way of writing ‘Chelsea had won their last three games in a row’ before Tuesday.
West Ham headline of the day
‘West Ham fear being forced to sack Slaven Bilic with no replacement lined up’ – The Sun.
If only there were people at the club responsible for doing the actual sacking and lining up and could plan these things.
Ask a simple question
‘How Jose Mourinho told Romelu Lukaku not to take Manchester United’s penalty in 2-0 win over Benfica’ – Mirror Football.
With his mouth.
Recommended reading of the day
Barry Glendenning on Stan Collymore in Russia.
Miguel Delaney on Napoli vs Manchester City.
Paul Hayward on Wilfried Zaha.
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