This sceptred isle
‘Alexis Sanchez, Philippe Coutinho, Ross Barkley, Diego Costa, Virgil van Dijk, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Danny Drinkwater are some of the biggest names in the game’ – The Sun.
Generous. Very generous.
Liverpool’s defensive headaches have allowed an old favourite argument to be taken from the back of the cupboard and given another airing. Oh yes, zonal marking is getting a kicking once more.
‘The problem, which flared up again during the 3-3 draw at Watford, is zonal marking,’ Dave Kidd writes in Wednesday’s The Sun. ‘And it’s not just us laymen who find this concept difficult to comprehend.
‘This week, two former Premier League bosses have told me there is a fundamental flaw in any tactical plan based on the idea that your team doesn’t pay full attention to what the other lot are doing.’
That’s just utter nonsense, isn’t it? Teams and managers have been successful using zonal marking – where each player is responsible for an area – and teams have been successful using man-marking, where they are responsible for a player.
Let’s ask Alan Hansen:
“We always used zonal marking when I won championships with Liverpool. It was all about winning the first ball and if not, you’ve got to clean up the second ball. The other thing of course was having a goalkeeper (Bruce Grobbelaar) who we knew was going to come for crosses.”
Let’s ask Martin Keown:
“Under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, I loved using zonal marking. Maybe I was just lucky to play with a really good group of players, but I think it is a common misconception that a zonal system is a weakness.”
Hansen won seven league titles with Liverpool; Keown was part of an Arsenal team that won the league title while conceding only 26 goals. Do we think that it’s more likely that the system itself is inherently flawed, or that the current Liverpool side is just not very good at it?
Keep it tight
‘Steve Bruce admits Aston Villa can’t spend their way out of trouble this year: “I haven’t got millions”’ – Daily Mirror, August 14.
“We need to score, we need to really look at what we’ve got at the top end of the pitch because without Jonathan Kodjia at the moment we are a bit toothless, I have to say that. We have to try to address that if we can” – Steve Bruce, August 15.
‘Steve Bruce has made an ambitious move to sign Jack Wilshere. Aston Villa boss Bruce has made enquiries to try and lure the Arsenal midfielder to the Championship. Bruce has already brought in former England captain John Terry and is hoping a big contract and bonuses could tempt Wilshere. It remains to be seen whether Wilshere would step down to the Championship and Arsenal would also look for a permanent deal and potentially a big fee’ – Daily Mirror, August 16.
Good on you, Steve. After all, you’ve only signed 12 players in ten months for fees totalling £23m. And Villa did sign Ross McCormack (£13m) and Jonathan Kodija (£11m) a full three months before you joined the club. At some point you might actually have to do some coaching, but not yet eh.
Sticking with Steve Bruce, and the Aston Villa manager was keen to stress that he always thought it would be this hard after watching his club move to 23rd in the Championship table. They were amongst the pre-season favourites for promotion:
“We obviously signed JT, people got carried away with the euphoria of it all. We are where we are and I’m convinced I’m the right one to turn it around. ‘There’s still obviously a load of work to be done but judge us when all the players are fit and ready and at the minute we are having a tough time.”
People did get carried away by the euphoria of Terry’s signing, didn’t they Steve? People like this over-excited chap:
“Driving into the training ground, I just heard Dean Saunders say on the radio that he thought John Terry was the best signing of the summer. After working with John – watching him first-hand for two or three weeks – I can only say that I agree.
“He is used to winning, doing things right. Everything he does, he does right. They don’t come along very often, people like him. He is a leader. He’s all of those things. But he’s also a fabulous player. You don’t realise how good he is until you are working with him. Left foot, right foot. In the air. What an athlete.
“I honestly never thought we would get him. I thought there would be suitors in the Premier League. But if ever I needed reminding how big Aston Villa is, this has done it. The idea of leading Aston Villa appealed to him. He wanted to succeed somewhere other than Chelsea.
“All he asked when he spoke to me was, ‘We have got to be in with a chance of getting promoted’. I said to him, ‘Look, I’ve still got some work to do, in terms of recruitment, but Aston Villa has got to be up there’.”
Or down there.
With Barcelona announcing the signing of Paulinho to widespread scoffing, The Sun asked Andrew Richardson to produce a list of the club’s worst-ever signings. Or ‘turkeys’, to use The Sun’s parlance.
Now Mediawatch is not saying that The Sun included Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas on their list for deliberate effect – above, say, Keirrison, Geovanni and Philippe Christanval – but both strangely make their way into the URL of the story. Funny that.
For the record, Sanchez scored 39 goals in 88 league games for Barcelona, scored the winner in an El Clasico and won a league title, Copa del Rey, Super Cup and Club World Cup in a three-year period before being sold for a £12m profit.
What a disaster.
Turn off, tune out, drop out
Mediawatch hugely enjoyed Andrew Dillon’s phraseology on the subject of Antonio Conte in The Sun:
‘Conte is having to come to terms with the Chelsea way when it comes to buying players. And that is agonisingly slow. Too slow for a manager like Conte who did not switch off his phone or his brain during his summer holiday.’
‘Switch off his brain’.
‘CHELSEA remain interested in signing Torino star Andrea Belotti, according to reports,’ begins a gossip piece on The Sun website.
‘The Blues are down a striker after Diego Costa refused to report for training at Cobham.’
What is Alvaro Morata, then – Scotch mist?
Mything you already
“The Invincibles were a myth! Arsenal’s Invincibles lost crucial games that season. They lost Champions League group stage games to Inter and Kyiv. They lost home and away to Middlesbrough in the semi-finals of the League Cup – they [Arsenal] fielded a decent side as well. They lost to Man United in the FA Cup. Not exactly Invincible, were they then?” – Adrian Durham, Talksport.
It refers to league results, Adrian. You haven’t unearthed some hidden secret that nobody had spotted nor repeated tediously over the last 13 years. Happy to help.
The worst of all the headlines
‘Chelsea star Morata and WAG STUN internet with OUTRAGEOUS bedroom footage’ – Daily Star.
1) That’s his wife. Not ‘Wife And Girlfriend’.
2) Nobody is stunned.
3) They’re having a f**king cuddle, guys. That’s only outrageous if you’ve spent the last three years on a computer in the spare bedroom of your Mum’s hou… Oh. Fair enough.
Recommended reading of the day
Stuart James on Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Adam Bate on Paul Pogba.
John Duerden on Paulinho.