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Bruno Fernandes is making Man Utd worse
I know this sounds like some gibberish click bait or a cheeky effort to get published here but no! Hear me out. I genuinely struggle to remember a player who has single handedly transformed a team’s fortunes in such a small time frame.I was a sceptic at first but now i am an ardent believer in his ability. (Not a United fan btw).
He has this air about him that oozes confidence bordering on cockiness that i believe has improved almost all his teammate’s performances since joining. I concur with Ryan ,Coilte from the mailbox.
But therein lies the rub. He is so good that an injury or a lengthy absence from him surely requires some foresight. Anyone who might be good enough to step in his shoes? And shoulder some of the weight he is burdened with. Pogba? Not for me Clive.
City have had to put in shifts from all players during recent weeks despite having their talisman aguero and the impeccable KDB on the sidelines. Can Utd emulate such a system or devise some way to mitigate his loss (God forbid).
Abdi , Nairobi. (Fingers crossed KDB signs quickly)
Liverpool’s scientists are starting to panic…
Two things before I start, if you don’t like numbers, analytics ro numbers just go right on and skip this, it isn’t for you. Secondly, Klopp is the right man for the job, Liverpool’s approach is generally sound, this is simply an analysis of what’s gone wrong and why.
Also, this is going to be long…
So, I think I speak for every Liverpool fan when I say things are starting to unravel in spectacular fashion. We have gone from a blip, to a downturn in form, to a crisis, to spiralling toward a black hole and everyone is trying to abandon the spaceship. This has been an incredible implosion. And as a fan it is a little like seeing your local hospital engulfed in flames; you can’t quite tear your eyes away, yet you are appalled at the abject horror of it all.
But lets look back at the decisions and reasons for why we have ended up where we are.
Well, the season started fine. We probably had a decent chance of retaining the title, lets say 30%. Our form had tailed off at the end of last season, but that was to be expected after securing the title. Right? Well, actually no. Ok, City’s game directly after winning the title probably was adversely effected by the revelry, but after that Liverpool’s highly professional players with a 100 point threshold in sight should have had more than enough motivation to keep pushing, yet results took a notable downturn. In hindsight, you might have looked at that as the indication things weren’t quite as rosy as we thought.
The enforced Covid break gave everyone a reset, perhaps many of the teams devoid of time to practice on the playing field used the time productively to analyse top teams, and nobody had more data available than Liverpool. We have played the same way, with largely the same personnel for several seasons and there was one system we overwhelmingly struggled against, the low block.
We want teams to play a high line, everyone knows that, it allows our two most effective goal scorers the space to attack in behind, it also allows Firmino to drop off and look for those through balls. Sitting deep nullifies a large extent of that, and as we have found out, Liverpool have no discernible plan B. The other team soaks up pressure and looks to counter. Their problem is getting past VVD and Gomez. Lightning fast and dominant in the air, they are perfectly suited to the high line squeezing the pitch. The system might have a flaw but with those two shutting up shop effectively, Liverpool largely only need one goal over 90 minutes to usually get all 3 points.
Then they both got injured. For the season.
So we are in November, both are out and Liverpool are faced with a significant problem. This is where our scientists come in (I call them scientists, they are in fact mathematicians) We would have turned to them and said, ‘what should we do?’ They then would do what scientists do and looked at the numbers. That would have produced probabilities on the outcomes for each competition based on the underlying data. So, Liverpool were near the top of the table, played a lot of the surrounding big 6 and had Matip available with Fabinho alongside. That’s not bad. If VVD is rated 95 and Gomez 89 and they both have pace 90, you might say Matip is 87 and Fab is 82 and both have 70 for pace, you say we are obviously weaker, certainly more exposed to the counter, but we have enough to beat 50% of prem teams 80% of the time. 30% of teams 60% of the time and the other 20% 33% of the time. That calculates to the following number of points. It almost certainly won’t win you the league, but we get top 4 comfortably and give ourselves a reasonable chance of the semi’s in the Champs League. By then you hope VVD and/or Gomez is back and we can readjust probabilities accordingly.
So do we need to buy?
Probably not if you are happy with VVD and Gomez as your starting 2 next season, and you are happy that we are taking a risk being much more exposed to injury now. Matip has a high injury proneness and the backups (Phillips, Williams, VDB) are untested and so difficult to predict quality. Moving Hendo back is an option but effects midfield balance. They would have weighed the probabilities of further injuries, assessed cover in midfield for losing Hendo and Fab and then worked out the knock on effect on winning games. They would have produced a breakdown on likely points totals and asked Jurgen whether he wanted to dent his future transfer kitty by bringing in a new CB who might not start the following season when all CB’s are fit, or carry on with young players. He opts to stick.
So in to Jan we go, Liverpool are near the top still, results have not been great but the table doesn’t lie. The decision to carry on without replacements appears sound.
Then we start losing. Teams are only playing a low block and where we struggled to score goals before but our defence was also extremely solid, now it is starting to leak. Where we were averaging just under 2 goals scored and winning the majority, now we are averaging just under 1 goal and winning very few. The balance is shot, the team is haemorghing confidence and the probabilities are swinging wildly from positive to negative.
We turn to the scientists; what’s the plan?
It’s 30th Jan and we need to buy! Matip is out for the season in the most obvious turn of events ever, Fab is out, we’ve just noticed Rhys Williams is a little boy who was never ready for the step up, for some reason you don’t like Nat Phillips even though he is you from a younger life and Hendo is trying hard but can’t just magically become a world class centre half.
What’s out options in the transfer market?
Err, we didn’t plan for this and we have 2 days to conjure something up. We have a guy in the Championship with 6 months left on his contract who we can get over the line. We have also been approached by a Schalke who are desperate to offload any players they can as they are already down with half a season to play and the worst defensive record in the history of organised sport. They want to sell us their CB. Wagner gave him a thumbs up.
One lad is immediately injured while other looks pap. We are no better off. Results are in fact worse. Top 4 is slipping away and when that happens our business model falls off a cliff. We turn to our scientists.
What do we do?
Next: PART 2 – What happens when Liverpool are not in the Champions League and trying to recruit from a position of weakness and financially vulnerable.
Not enough is being made of how awful Arsenal are
I really do not think enough is being said about how truly abysmal Arsenal are. After 25 games the are TENTH in the Premier League table. All the credit is going to Villa, Everton and (eventually) West Ham for being above them and having generational seasons. But for perspective, Spurs and Mourinho are being dragged through the streets for how awful their season is (and it is awful), and yet they’re two points above their North London rivals with a game in hand. Arsenal have lost ELEVEN games, the same number of losses as Fulham, Burnley and Palace. One more loss than Southampton who lost 6 league games in a row before this weekend. One more loss than Wolves who are universally accepted as the stinkiest team in the division. THREE more losses than 16th placed Brighton!
I remember a few months ago they won a few games on the trot and everyone assumed they’d turned the corner and we could stop calling them awful because they were out of the relegation race, but their position in the table should be the story of the season. From Boxing Day they went 7 games without a loss but have managed 3 in their last 4 games.
This isn’t like 15/16 when Chelsea had a jaw-droppingly bad season because at least they had a trademark Mourinho implosion to blame, as opposed to a supposed rebuild. They also had a fairly decent squad that just needed to have their heads banged together. This Arsenal squad is truly horrible.
Looking at the first 11 yesterday, I think it’s criminal that City didn’t win by more. It’s a damning indictment that they felt they could score in the first 5 minutes and coast in order to save their legs. I honestly think they need to sign a brand new first XI to actually look dangerous again. Their crop of youngsters coming through are being heralded, but they’re complete pony. Compare with Mount, Abraham, Gilmour and James who came through at Chelsea at the same time. I’d take any one of them over Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nketiah, Smith-Rowe.
What even are Arsenal anymore? And why are we not making a bigger deal about how irreparably awful they are?
Silly contracts and Martial
About 100 years ago a man called Victor Lustig operated as probably the world’s greatest con-man. If you’re unfamiliar with the man I suggest a quick read of his wiki at least, the balls on this guy must have needed extra trouser support. He’s most famous for managing to sell the Eiffel Tower to a Frenchman, the scam was so good his mark was too ashamed to even report him to the Police so Lustig ran the scam again. United need Victor Lustwig, or at least his contemporary equivalent, because Anthony Martial needs to be sold and I’m convinced only a truly audacious confidence artist can get it done.
I’m not going to get into why, because its redundant, but everyone is aware he needs to move on. The obstacles to a transfer funnily enough aren’t that he’s in terrible form or that he has resting ‘smacked arse’ face. Its his contract. The men at the top of the club have improved their transfer dealing over recent years, a bit anyway, but still seem absolutely giddy to give out massive contracts for no good reason. Tony is on £250k per week till 2024.
There are plenty of clubs who would buy Martial for the right price, he has a lot to offer as a player and could be a devastating weapon for the right team, however I don’t imagine any of those clubs even considering his wage as feasible not to mention a transfer fee on top. So back to Victor Lustig, we need to convince either a small club to pay what they cant afford or a big club to pay for something they don’t want. We need to convince Tony and his agent that a transfer to possibly a remote corner of China is the best thing since sliced baguettes. We need to convince big Ed not to hold out for more money and take the bloody deal. And most difficult of all, we need to convince Ole that Martial is not a fucking striker.
On reflection I don’t think even the great Count Lustig could pull this off, maybe Jorge Mendes could have a go.
In an amazing turn up for the books, Alan Shearer made some interesting points about Martial on Match of the Day. Mainly that he is avoiding the box, and therefore cannot score as he is not there. And I do mean avoiding.
Strikers who are lacking confidence disappear. They are not putting the runs in, mainly because they are more scared of missing than confident about scoring.
Which brings me to Andy (Andrew) Cole. He never, ever disappeared. He used to get a lot of criticism,for missing a lot of chances, but that was always because he put himself in the right place to create those opportunities. And when he missed, he went right back there again, and gave himself another chance, to score, or, importantly, to miss. He never ducked it. He was brave both physically, but more importantly, mentally.
He is still hugely underrated. I wish Martial had half of Andy Cole’s determination.
Love for Lukaku
With everyone ramping up for Haaland vs Mbappe to be the next ‘world class forward’ debate I wanted to get a bit of Lukaku love in the Mailbox on the back of the Derby della Madonnina this weekend.
The man at this point looks like a superhero. Bigger, faster, stronger with fantastic dribbling, great vision and a true foot like a traction engine, he’s got 53 goals and 11 assists for Inter in two seasons to basically consign all the United nonsense to history.
Every clip of him makes him look like he’s playing against children; shrugging off defenders before leathering it past the keeper or putting it into the danger area for another player.
I’ve always thought he was brilliant, but right now he looks unplayable.
West Ham doing a Leicester
As the games dwindle away and the clock ticks closer to the 38. West Ham continue to tick off points whilst some others in the Big 6 continue to struggle can West Ham break the cartel and finish in the hallowed ground of Champions League football ?
I see lots of similaritys to the way Leicester City were treated by the media at this stage of the season when they won it and West Ham currently. It was really only with 10 to go that they were taken proper seriously as something that could be achieved. Up to this point it was nice oh aren’t they doing well and a undercurrent of they’ll fall of soon and get back in there lane . But that Leicester team found another gear when they started to see a finish line and treated the mantra of one game at a time with the most respect. That mantra is the same hymn sheet David Moyes has this Hammers team singing.
If West Ham can remain free from injury there in with a fighting chance. Moyes has every player courageously fighting for every ball there in free hit land and pressure they usually have is one of relegation. How often we see teams rally towards the end in a scrap for survival , West Ham can use that energy to see them over the line.
Marc , Waterford , Ireland
Hold your horses
I understand that people are upset but can we just take a step back please… The mailbox doesn’t seem to remember the standard of defence from one of the self-proclaimed world’s best Dejan Lovren..?
Like saying United would be leading the league if Phil Jones played more.
Guessing next is calling for Steven Caulker to be loaned again?
Wik, Pretoria, LFC (no longer favoured by the gods)
The ball dropped our way…
I am an Everton fan, and I am of course delighted with the “historic” win (and with reaching 40 points). Frankly, I feel that, for once, the ball dropped our way. On another day, Henderson’s shot would fly a little higher and into the net, Salah would be more composed and not afraid that the charging Pickford would flatten him VVD-style, the referee would not give the penalty, and we would lose 2-1.
Being relatively new to Twitter, I have been absolutely flabbergasted by the views of some of my team’s (Man Utd) fans. For instance, did you know there are a large contingent of fans, with surprising high followers, who think Bruno Fernandes is the weak link in the team because he’s lost some semi finals?!
A lot of these people are clearly attention seeking and probably not actual supporters of the club, but my goodness there are some truly insane opinions out there. They all seem to have the same vocabulary too, with literary Pearlers such as Ball knowledge(ball??), Low IQ footballer, and Ratio?
I was wondering, is there another team out there who have equally crazy cyber fans? Or this this another unfortunate phenomenon for my beloved Red Devils?
A flabbergasted Red