Agent Rafa, Tuchel = Mourinho, ‘boring’ City, Lukaku and more mails…

Date published: Sunday 16th January 2022 9:20 - Editor F365

Thomas Tuchel shakes Jose Mourinho's hand

Will this be the year Benitez gets his statue outside Anfield? Plus, stick for Romelu Lukaku, City’s dominance and loads more…

Have your say by sending a mail to theeditor@football365.com

 

One-horse race
As Manchester City canter to another Premier League title before the leaves appear on the trees is it time to accept the idea of a premier league top 3, top 4 or rivalry of any kind is now dead for the time being.

Man City’s dominance is such no one can compete with them on or off the field in England at this time. Bar the aberration of Liverpool’s league title, temporarily scaling the mountain of near perfection for 27 games, the same mountain Man City have now claimed as their own, no team in England is getting anywhere near this Man City team anytime soon.

Since the premier league’s inception there has always been a rivalry between clubs or managers for the title. These rivalries have been the lifeblood of competition, drama and excitement in the premier league making it the product it is today, followed the world over and one of the UK’s biggest export.

But maybe we have been blinded by the past and just have noticed what is happening creep up on us.

The premier league in its current form is a one horse race.

Don’t get me wrong, Man City are a wonderfully run club (albeit with major questions over the morals and ethics of their owners) with a brilliant manager and sublime players.

Their football isn’t boring to me at least, but their dominance certainly is.
Dave LFC

 

Completely not through the Looking Glass
The White Queen liked to believe six impossible things before breakfast but in this game six extremely possible things were reaffirmed emphatically.

Firstly, City won. Considering this was the 12th time on the spin, this was not unexpected. They’re on one of those runs Pep seems to make happen more or less once a season.

Secondly. City are going to win the league again and pretty easily at that. This is what Pep does and he does it very regularly.

Thirdly, Jack Grealish is an inexplicable waste of money – again. £100 million pounds for a player City didn’t need and who’s strengths absolutely do not suit one of Pep’s teams. Saucy Jack is best as a big fish in a small pond. The player the side looks to for inspiration, not one who is simply a cog in the wheel. If he’d cost tuppence ha’penny he wouldn’t be anywhere near the first XI on this form. He’d be bloody lucky to be in City’s second eleven to be honest. Why Pep bought him is an utter mystery and one that does not appear to be solved any time soon.

Fourthly, Lukaku is a flat track bully who does not perform in big games. And doesn’t suit Chelsea’s system either – United sold him for a reason. Chelsea’s best form this season was when he was out injured and Tuchel’s frustration with him is bubbling barely below the surface. He was bought to decide games like this – he may only have helped Thomas to decide that Romelu isn’t fit for purpose. That might seem a premature judgement but that interview won him few friends and his form since has won him precious few more.

Fifthly, Kevin De Bruyne is really, really good. Unlike the previous two mentioned he *is* a big game player and a world class one at that. That goal was an absolute stroke of footballing genius from a man who would walk into any team in the world.

And finally , City and Chelsea games aren’t actually much fun to watch. Thomas has set up his side very conservatively against Pep since he came here – admittedly extremely successfully for the most part. But it doesn’t leave a terribly exciting spectacle to watch.

Sometimes the Premier League produces games that are like a mystery box full of magical surprises. And sometimes it produces games where not one single thing that happens is even slightly unlikely and is in fact tediously predictable.

But I sincerely doubt Pep cares.
James, Liverpool

 

Everton
We didn’t just lose to the worst team in the league.

We ARE the worst team in the league.

When Rafa continues to stick with a player like Rondon, we deserve to go down due to his absolute ineptitude. The only thing that might save us now is if Moshiri finally does the right thing and sack him.
TX Bill, EFC

 

Agent Rafa
This might be the year Rafa Benitez finally gets a statue outside Anfield?
Stewart, Chicago

 

 

Tuchel = Mourinho
Watching Thomas Tuchel on the sidelines and listening to to his post match comments immediately reminded me of Jose Mourinho. When things are going well, he is charming and insightful, but as soon as results start to turn, he looks for any excuse he can. He even goes as far publicly blaming players, another staple of the Mourinho playbook. K loop can come off as deranged when he blames other managers or the wind for poor results, but he never publicly blames a player. Pep is the same, the only time he will call out a player is after a win, like with Fidel and Grealish in recent weeks.

Tuchel is clearly an outstanding manager tactically, but also clearly lacks the man management gene when things start to go bad. The knock on him at both PSG and Dortmund was that his players hated playing for him, and judging how the month has gone at Chelsea, he is heading that way there. The days of publicly blaming players, even if it is deserved, are long since over.
Ryan, MCFC

 

Romelu Lukaku…
Ahh… the sweet vindication of being proven correct; yet another big game in which Big Rom is conspicuous by his absence. I could’ve, and did, say this is what would happen when fans and pundits alike were giddily proclaiming how he’d be top scorer this season.

A few quick points I’d like to make that back up my view. Firstly, as brought up in the conclusions article, is the fact that “they’re not setup to get the best out of him”. It’s something I’ve heard frequently in his defence; that the system doesn’t suit him. How often do people make that same comment with regards to Lewandowski? Or Benzema? Or Mbappe? Or Haaland? Or peak Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez or Aguero? Even Kane? Almost never, because they continued to perform and to score goals whomever their manager was and whatever system they were playing. Why? Because they are or were genuinely world class strikers. If a striker can only play one way, or requires an entire attack to be built around their limitations, then by definition, that player is one dimensional and ergo not world class.

Secondly, the references to how he “tore it up” in Italy. Does anyone think Ciro Immobile is world class? Would Chelsea sign him for £100m? Because in Lukaku’s time at Inter, Immobile out scored him in Serie A by 10 goals in the same amount of games whilst playing for a significantly weaker side. Scoring 2 in 3 (including penalties) for the best side in a league with the highest goals per game rate of the big 5 leagues in Europe (that they’re petitioning to have reduced back to 18 teams because there’s too many awful sides getting promoted), whilst at the peak age for a player, doesn’t make a £100m striker. Serie A is not what it was; it’s closer to Ligue Un in quality than the Premier League at the moment. Don’t agree? Darmian, Sanchez and Ashley Young played significant roles in Inter’s title win. See them getting a game at City, Liverpool or Chelsea? They weren’t playing at United, and we’re really shit.

So yeah, stick on The Hives, because any United fan that knows their onions is sat watching him lumber around thinking “hate to say I told you so”.
Lewis, Busby Way

 

Is Werner a footballer?
Just finished watching Man City – Chelsea game. What was Tuchel’s game plan? From being title contenders, Chelsea are now preparing for a fight with the chasing pack for third position. As for Werner, I rest my case. The boy puts his head and hits the ball anywhere hoping against hope to locate a team mate. This is unacceptable. Lukaku was simply anonymous. The trophy should be left at the Etihad as no team will surely catch City.
Carey (frustrated with Xhaka’s antics) Yiembe

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku skips away from John Stones

Clarifications and Chelsea’s lack of pace
I think one conclusion among your 16 missed Chelsea’s lack of pace. City dominated the posession as the game settled but Chelsea did get some chances on the counter, only for Ziyech’s lack of pace and Pulisic dithering in the final third(makes me look silly writing about him earlier). Can’t help but wonder either one or both of Mount and Werner would have been better in those situations.Ziyech is a lovely footballer when on song but when it’s not his day, he is a liability in possession. Can’t remember how many tes he gave the ball away.
Looks like UCL and FA cups are what’s on plate for rest of the league( hopefully for us, it’s those 2 and Carabao Cup too)

Reg my last mail that made the Reds supporters chide me for being ungrateful, let’s rephrase what I said : We are extremely lucky that we have Klopp. If not for him, we wouldn’t be thinking of winning anything let alone being disappointed for missing out on points. BUT, he could’ve have rivalled Guardiola for dominance if our board would’ve backed him in the market. You don’t seriously believe going into 20-21 season with 3 defenders was a good idea do you? And the front 2 of Salah and Mane are squeezed of their last drops instead of bringing in faces to keep the competition high and squad fresh to challenge on all fronts. If the critisism of the suits is same as criticising Klopp, then I don’t know what to add.

Lastly, someone needs to bring in Sergej Milenkovic-Savic to UCL clubs. He’s someone who has earned the highest stage to exhibit his talents
Vikas, LFC, India (Didn’t even know Karius was still here) 

 

Postponement, you say?
Arsenal wanting to postpone Sunday’s match on the basis that they have injured players, players on international duty in Africa, a player serving a red card ban and one Covid-19 case?

I’d say we can agree to that, on the condition that we receive full monetary compensation from Arsenal for missing out on the Champions League due to Lasagnegate.
Samuli, THFC

 

Hello,

I haven’t written in for a while. So hi everyone, hope everything’s going smashing over at 365 towers.

Anyways, you’re going to be flooded with letters from pissed off spurs fans angry about the derby being postponed. And by all accounts, the management are pissed about it too. They know better than me and obviously fancied their chances against the depleted Gooners, but I’m not sure this postponement is such a bad thing. Sure we could have won, but we’ve then got Leicester 3 days later and Chelsea 4 days after that. We’ve looked leggy since Christmas, the games keep coming thick and fast and our 2 best players are injured. A victory was by no means assured. A victory could have come with a price. And a defeat, oh my word, imagine if we hadn’t beaten the depleted Goons. Yes they’ve played the system but come on, it’s for the premier league to show some bottle, not for the clubs not to try.

It also gives us a chance to turn the volume down for a few days. Everything is so shrill with Spurs at the moment. Your kind words in that well written article about the league table of optimism are misplaced. It’s hell at the moment…can we keep Conte happy, can we get rid of the dead wood, will levy put this hand in his pocket, is the derby on, will we ever score against Chelsea is Ndombele training on his own etc etc etc…? Honestly supporting Spurs at the moment is like watching ‘Uncut gems’ with a hangover. I need to get off the merry go round for a few days, it’s not doing my jam tart any good.

So let’s take the breather, get some points from the 2 games we have got next week and take them on at the Lane on a raucous Wednesday night in the spring.

All the best,
Andrew, Woodford Green 

 

AFCON
I agree that the AFCON may not be a great watch – its a different type of game in African conditions. The grounds are probably not equal to Premier league grounds. Opponents are tough, resilient. Personally, as a fan of the underdog, I enjoy watching the Premier league stars being pulled down a notch by good hard football.

But AFCON means different things to different folk. South Africa’s win in 1996, followed on the rugby world cup win in 1995. South africa had its first democratic elections in 1994. The rugby world cup, quickly followed by the AFCON win, played no small part in uniting and healing a nation. We are not there yet, but every bit helps.

The late Nelson Mandela led the celebrations in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

So, its different football for sure. But it means so much to different folk.
Darryl, Cape Town

 

Turns out ref in Mali v Tunisia, Janny Sikazwe had heat stroke and was “severely dehydrated” at the time so anyone using that to bash the tournament can f*ck right off.  It’s been reported across various outlets the last two days. Surprised it hasn’t been mentioned here.
Alan

 

 

Lack of expressive players?
This is all going to the read like a bunch of rose-tinted, better-in my-day nonsense, but bear with me. I was recently debating with my brother, regarding what I consider to be a lack of artistic, expressive players in the modern game, compared to, let’s say, 20 years ago. I’m cherry picking a bit, but compare Raul, Zidane, Henry and Ronaldinho  to Haaland, Mbappe, Salah and Bruno Fernandes. I’m categorically not saying that one group is better than the other, but, which group would you pay to see, if you could only pick one?

I’m sure that the artists are all still out there, and some still break through, (Neymar, Firmino) , but they’re clearly a dying breed.

Thanks to modern fitness levels and more sophisticated coaching of attacking play,  virtually every top team in Europe is now a  high-pressing, attacking unit. But these teams are brilliant not because they are laden with magicians who can take your breath away,   but because they are an ultra- efficient , well drilled machine stacked *primarily*  with technically excellent  players who do everything right. I like Mason Mount as much as anyone,but I doubt I’ll be watching his skills on youtube in 20 years.

Would you rather watch an inconsistent Barcelona team being bailed out by a 90th minute Rivaldo bicycle kick,  or watch Man City systemically dissect Burnley?

Ultimately, what I’m asking is this- Are we, as fans, thinking about the game wrong?In the pursuit of perfect attacking football, have we sacrificed the one thing – call it magic, expression, whatever -that made football so beautiful in the first place?  I recently read a modern pundit lambasting Zidane (Zidane!), as he  wasn’t as productive as his skill demanded.

Cos that’s what we want, isn’t it?

Just a thought,
Bryan

 

Sorry F365
In the last few weeks, we have made Joelinton look like prime Zidane, Mings look like Beckenbauer, Ramsey look like Maradona, Chukwumueka look like Pirlo and Norwich look like Barca, Villa look like Brazil 70, Can’t believe F365 and Winterburn were right all along, we need to sack this fraud PE teacher harping on about United DNA and hire someone with football philosophy like Ralf Rangnick…
Manyooligan SoC

 

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