Cheating? Unlimited money? No, biggest advantage Man City have is Pep Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola is the biggest advantage Manchester City have over the rest. What happens when he goes?

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Top Six requirements for Europe
With the overall Top 6 positions pretty much now secure (With United who still somehow could finish 5th, but would expect nothing less than a win against Chelsea on Thursday), thought I would share what each team requires in the summer with three players to be signed per team in hindsight.

Manchester City – Probably do not need to add anyone into this ridiculously good squad, but probably need a defender/left back more than anything:

Jude Bellingham: The long-term replacement to Gundogan and would probably become Captain eventually. Worth £100 Million if Madrid aren’t able to snap him up.
Theo Hernandez: The man could run for days and has got exceptional talent and technique for a LB, perfect kind of intense player for Pep.
Toni Kroos: I can see Gundogan and potentially Mahrez leaving this summer, so maybe someone like Kroos to join as a 25-30 game kind of player?

Arsenal – Will need 3 quality players in the summer at least if they want to maintain the form they have shown between August-April this season.

Sadio Mane: Personally think this one is a no brainer. Hugely experienced with Liverpool and could snap him up for £30+ Million. Doesn’t play as often as he should at Bayern and could be converted into a striker and form a decent relationship with Jesus/Martinelli
Declan Rice: They need a big, huge guy who can just cover ground when getting hit on the counter, plus he is English and Arsenal need to recreate having that local presence. They need a player like him in breaking up play along with Partey and allowing the front 4 attackers to cause carnage.
Kim Min-Jae: Has just won a league title and he’s massive as well! But he is also young and with Spaletti leaving Napoli, he may be thinking its peaked at Napoli and is looking to leave himself.

Newcastle United – Following Champions League qualification, I bet Eddie Howe has already invited the owners around for Dinner, or perhaps the other way round! Great achievement by the club, best Newcastle manager since Bobby Robson. They will have at least £250 million to spend in the summer on top players but knowing Eddie Howe and the model Newcastle have shown so far, they won’t go too over the top with the signings and look to use logic rather than glamourous/famous players.

James Maddison: See him playing for someone like Newcastle and has the technique and experience to back it as well. Could form a great partnership with Isak & Wilson.
Luke Ayling: Always thought he was a half decent player for Leeds and one of their better players in the last 3 years. He could cover for Trippier and play CB some days as well, with Leeds likely to now get relegated.
N’golo Kante: The man is out of contract in the summer and he’s still fucking world class. Chelsea doesn’t know how to treat legends, and he has bags of experience and if he can regain his fitness (If anyone could, it would be him), it would be an absolute steal. I don’t think it will happen, but you never know!

Manchester United – Desperately need a Striker and a defender in order to stay in contention for Top 4 next season and rack up as many league points as possible to get closer to becoming a title challenger.

Harry Kane: Should undoubtedly be the number 1 target. I wrote on previous articles about United it would be maybe better not to sign him given the price tag, but if United ownership situation clears up and new owners do come in, the first course of action should be to try and sign Kane.
Youri Tielemans: Absolutely love this player and think he could really thrive at United. Could get him for cheaper as well if Leicester are relegated and has potential to be the next kind of Eriksen like player.
Fikayo Tomori: Class player and has become one of Milan’s most important players in the last 2-3 years. Won a league title, so automatically more experienced than most of the current United defenders apart from Varane.

Liverpool – They need at least two new midfielders given Thiago isn’t reliable and can stay fit, plus Henderson & Milner are getting on too.

Alexis Mac Allister: Liverpool crying out for a player like him, and if Trent moves into Midfield as well, they could really cause some issues for the opposition.
Palhinha: Has been a huge part of the reason Fulham have comfortably stayed up this season. Liverpool needs a midfielder like him to compete with Fabinho in getting the best out of him again, plus he covers so much ground too. Technically decent too and plays for Portugal as well.
Joao Cancelo: Klopp should be proper cheeky and go for him, him, Trent & Robertson in the same team could be tasty.

Brighton – They will most likely lose a couple of good players this season, thus why recruitment this season is especially crucial for them in maintaining the standards they have shown this season.

James Ward-Prowse: With Caicedo & Mac Allister possibly leaving for big bucks this summer, think this is a pretty sensible once as he will most likely be leaving Southampton this summer, too good to player in Championship.
Reiss Nelson: Has shown glimpses of his potential this season and think he could improve a lot at Brighton and just seems like a very Brighton-like signing as well.
Scott McTominay: He would actually do a decent job for them as a box to box midfielder but would need to improve his touch under De Zerbi when playing from the back.

So that is it! All realistic choices with maybe 1 or 2 shouts slightly ambitious, but each of these clubs have quite a bit of cash and have pretty decent managers to match with that. I think the most important transfer window for the Top 6 here is for both Arsenal & Manchester United, but time will tell which team has the better one!
Rami, Manchester


Come on, give Pep Guardiola more credit
I’m late to the party here, but the Man City fascination in the mailbox for the past week has been teetering that line between making me want to laugh and cry. John Nicholson pretending to turn his nose up at Man City is just the latest example.

JN says ‘people just don’t care’ about Man City and their latest victory, or that nobody is bothered by their trajectory towards Treble immortality. He even points to the Mailbox as proof — are we reading the same mailbox?

Since Arsenal’s capitulation started, we’ve heard incessantly, that Man City are petrol-pumped, money-doped, Lance Armstrong-esque, cheating, horrible viruses who must be eradicated. That sounds like people care, no?

What I find most amusing about the City tirades, is the delicious irony of it all. the 115 CHARGES are shouted from the roof tops, their dastardly ownership group and their huge spending. Literally in the same mailbox, we’ll have somebody else applauding Newcastle, and talking about their excitement to see what’s next. We’ll have articles written on F365 and elsewhere about Wrexham. We’ll have articles talking about Pochettino’s first Chelsea targets as he adds to the £600mil spending spree. We’ll have eulogies praising Mourinho’s Chelsea, Guardiola’s Barca or Franco’s Real Madrid, as if they ALL weren’t built on similar ‘unfair advantages’ (in the case of Barca, even paying referees!). Secretly, these same fans would only LOVE for their club to be the next to have these unfair advantages.

These famous 115 charges are treated like City got to play games with 12 players – when in reality, they’ll be (relatively) small accounting tricks, that will mostly be forgotten or dropped – one example is an alleged payment to Manicini of ~£1.75mil – let’s assume they’re all in that ballpark – that would be £175mil worth of ‘cheating’ over 10 years — less than Chelsea or United spent last summer. Not nearly enough to warrant five Premier Leagues in six years or a Treble. I find it sad when people focus on the ‘cheating’, because it undersells the genius of Pep Guardiola, and the consistent quality his players have produced.

Yesterday someone made a valid remark – that most of this vitriol, has nothing to do with charges, or cheating, or money or whatever… it’s just pure tribal jealousy – at least that is an understandable argument.
Andy, THFC, Eire


…I think it’s weird that the brilliance of Pep Guardiola doesn’t get more attention as THE major factor of City’s sustained success. This guy is a once in a generation manager, who builds and rebuilds teams to compete across multiple seasons. Fergie was the same, but to me Guardiola beats him out because he’s done it in multiple places. His major “failing” is the Champions League, so maybe that’s why he’s overlooked? But the Champions League is a different beast to the league…

City will always have their pick of the best managers in the world, but very few people are at Guardiola’s level. Very few ever will be.

I’m not predicting the wheels fall apart when he leaves, but I think things will go back to something “more normal.” We might even be blessed with some hilarious managerial missteps. Who’s going to be the Moyes/Emery/Avram Grant of the City era?
André E


…Reading the mailbox over the last couple of weeks it’s amazing how many people are trying to devalue this Man City team.

I say amazing as apparently “no-one cares” and have a “meh” attitude.

Certainly doesn’t read that way.
Brian BRFC


Actually no, it’s cheating
One has to wonder how tone-deaf City fans must be to continue dredging up ‘evidence’ of how everyone else did the same thing as City in the past. The whataboutery is unbelievable. For example, statements like “Hey, Liverpool bought Van Dijk” ignore that they sold their best player prior and even waited for their desired target.

Liverpool dominated the 70s, and United dominated the late 90s and early 2000s. They were both magnets for the best British talent in their heyday – much like Bayern still siphons off the best German talent today. But they did this through excellent management and coaching during that time. United saw the future of the EPL before everyone else. It invested in a stadium and the idea of selling sponsorships and leveraging its fan base to draw ahead of the rest.

But the critical point in all this was they didn’t cheat.

City followed the same model as Chelsea. Once taken over by billionaires, both teams upped their total and net spending to 10 times the average of their prior ten years. In the case of City, it continued at that pace for 12 years. When Pep came on board, the last two of those jumped to a higher level. As a prior writer pointed out – had City’s (or Chelsea’s) revenue jumped ten times?

And therein lies the rub. The current City squad has been built on spending, not just over the last five 5 years, but gradually building a squad by spending beyond its means.

To those City whatabouterists who claim all the charges of cheating have not been proven miss the point. CAS threw some charges out while stating that City was at fault for not being responsive. And that the many charges were stale dated. Had City responded rather than used lawyers and subterfuge, UEFA would like have been able to prove the charges better AND within the allotted time period. After all, City owner Sheikh Mansour said he would “rather spend £30m on the 50 best lawyers” and sue Uefa “for the next ten years” than accept their punishment. That, my friends, is the tell of the guilty.

Do I think the EPL will do the right thing and push ahead with the City charges? No. But not because of innocence but because it would ‘tarnish the image’ of the EPL – an exclusive organization wholly owned by the current 20 clubs. The EPL hopes the politicians will lose interest in regulating the EPL as it focuses on the latest crises. Then it can calmly sweep this under the table. And it’s likely that City will be as helpful and responsive to the EPL as it was to UEFA. So we are unfortunately going to have to put up with more shrill letters extolling City’s virtues while pretending they never really cheated.

Many clubs are respected for winning titles and cups, but City, like Chelsea, will never be among them because we all know they have used their ill-gained financial dominance to win them.
Paul McDevitt


And it’s immoral
Living in the US, you find people pushing other people towards admitting the world is terrible, and nothing can or should be done. I’ll give an example.

John is a normal guy, never dreamed of hurting anyone. A man asks him “would you kill someone?”, he says “No, never”.

Now, not being satisfied with that, the guy will keep pressing until they admit they are bad, and that it doesn’t matter. “Would you kill someone if they were breaking into your home?” “No?” “…Well, what if your family were in harm’s way, and you had no other choice?” . “ok, fine then, in that scenario, I guess I would”

“See, we are all killers, so you should not act as if being a killer is a bad thing or that you would never be one”

This is what I call mental corruption. People will try to maneuver logic to get people to the point where bad things happening is just acceptable, we are all deplorable, nothing can be done, it’s not actually a big deal, or classic whataboutism.

I bring this to the mailbox as I find this is where we are with Man City. I can tell they have gotten exactly what they paid for by simply reading the Man City defenders.
Break rules? Stop it! Everyone does, look at Barca!
Spent tons of money?! So did United and Chelsea!
Has all the best players? Heard of Real Madrid!
Broke many rules? There weren’t that many!/They haven’t been found guilty!

The whole idea about sports washing is to use the sport to wash away the negative misdeeds of the owners, and with every defense, Man City supporters give them what they wanted: The thumbs up/Look the other way to continue their cruelty, so long as their money is being used in part, to entertain.

I’ll admit it is hard when it’s out of your power to do anything, and no fan chooses the owners. The PL are the first and only real gatekeepers to this situation, and they have long okayed dirty money in the English game. But to go above and beyond and act as if crimes against humanity don’t matter, or breaking almost every rule doesn’t matter, or that if someone did something a tad bit similar, then those misdeeds should be ignored/sport washed.

One has to ask: Is attacking lgbtq acceptable? Is using slave labor acceptable? Is torture acceptable? Is discrimination acceptable? Is the murder of migrants acceptable?

If a PL trophy and some investment in the game is what makes the above questions worth answering yes to, then not only is the game being broken, but so are peoples moral compasses.
Calvino (I have also experienced first hand the conditions in the UAE)


Are Man City the Tories?
Plenty of analogies as to what Man City’s title triumph means, so I thought and add my er… thought.

The last few weeks have reminded me of the runup to a general election: despite years of experience telling you the bastards will win again – and before the votes are counted – you can’t help but hold a little hope that maybe this time thing will be different.

After weeks of bullshit and bluster, you sit down on election night, struggling to hold down that tiny bit of hope, that yes, maybe it’ll all work out this time, only to find that, yes, once again, the bastards have romp home…
Stan, LFC


Newcastle absolutely did need the money
Firstly, whilst Mike Ashley could have spent the money we have on players, he just wouldn’t have. Even if he had bids accepted for Trippier, Bruno, Botman et al does anybody really believe they would have come? They signed because of the potential promised by the new owners.

Second point on Eddie Howe, and that he’s transformed the players had already had at the club. Yes, Almiron, Schar, Longstaff, and Joelinton have all come on leaps and bounds, but the signings mentioned above have helped them to do that. Schar doesn’t look half the player if he’s paired alongside (Captain) Jamal Lascelles. Almiron doesn’t score the goals he did without Bruno playing in clipped passes and through balls between full back and centre back. The recruitment has been smart, it’s identified not only the right players to take the club to that next level, but also ones that complimented those already there.

All those that are now saying that the success this season is tainted by who the owners are and the funds they’ve invested. So what? I’ve sat in St James’ and heard opposition fans every other week chant “there’s only one Mike Ashley”. Wolves, Leeds, Leicester, clubs that we’ve had no particular historic rivalry with, but have taken delight in Newcastle being run to meet the absolute bare minimum. Now that the ambition is to challenge for silverware and play champions league season after season it seems a bit disingenuous to bring it back to “well look who your owners are”.

I’d honestly love if we were fan owned, or even a local business man. But unfortunately we’re not, so while I’m not going to stick a Saudi flag in my twitter name, or put a tea towel round my head when we do eventually win a bit of silverware, I am going to enjoy taking a Champions League spot away from one of the traditional big boys. We’re in that bracket now, regardless of who next season goes, we have the financial power to go again and again and again until we do make it every season. I’d love to see someone like Brighton consistently challenging too.

But history tells us when teams over achieve they end up having their jewels plucked away (Monaco 2017, Ajax 2019). Their recruitment has been superb, from manager to playing staff. But it won’t last forever, just ask Liverpool


…On one hand I do agree with James, NUFC that a lot of what Newcastle have done is simply wise investment which could be done at any point in time, but I do disagree with him despite that. Because whilst Newcastle could have theoretically invested in a lot of the players they bought under Eddie Howe, James dismisses one crucial thing, which is the extra incentive players have knowing that they have the richest owners in football and what that could mean for them financially.

The older I get and the more I watch football, the more I realise that footballers behave very much like the average joe in their jobs. There’s probably a lot of days where they can’t be arsed in training, and more relevant to this overall point they want to earn more. The fact that most of them are millionaires and don’t need the extra money is irrelevant because it’s all relative, both to other football players and to their life circumstances.

Mo Salah doesn’t care that his weekly salary is 100 times more than the GDP per capita of Egypt, he cares that De Bruyne secured himself a £400k a week contract and feels he has leverage to do the same. Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t need £170m, but if as a parent he asks himself should I do 2 years of relatively easy work to ensure my kids can have whatever they want in life for the rest of their lives, it makes sense.

The difference between Newcastle now and Newcastle under Mike Ashely is that if these players do a good enough job when Newcastle do go spending cash, some of that can go into their pockets. Every one of those players will have worked that bit harder knowing that it could make them richer, and it’s going to happen in a shorter time frame than they could have probably expected. Next year they’ll benefit from champions league bonuses and it’s only going to be a matter of time until Newcastle’s average wage bill will go up.

This isn’t to dismiss any of the great work that has been done by the players and Eddie Howe, but I’m convinced that individually everyone will have tried a little bit harder because they knew what it could mean for them financially.
Mo (Kane to Newcastle?)


Whose money are you all taking?
If fans from other clubs are unhappy because football sold its soul to oil rich state owned football club, like Man City and Newcastle United, and some would rather boycott their club rather than supporting this travesty, may I know how many fans will raise placards and urge their PL team to reject sponsorship money from Bein Sports, and urge their club not to buy any players when the origin of the money is partly sponsored by a state-owned, oil rich, human right abuser Qatari media group?
Zammy, NUFC, Malaysia


Baiting, Seventies-style
Back in the late seventies a mate of mine went to the library, and searched a few editions of the local newspaper from the last 30 years (on Microfiche for those old enough), and randomly picked 11 Oldham (I think) football players from the reports, as being the best players he had ever seen play

He then sent in his “selections” to said local paper and it was published.

The responses were apparently hilarious. For days replies were published, decrying the team he picked.

I am sure Stewie is a modern equivalent, and fair play to them both.

My mate never attended a football match in his life.
Ged Biglin


On refereeing decisions and VAR
So, I see the mailbox has been getting the latest missives regarding the poor state of Premier League officiating as well as the poor implementation of VAR. This past week it’s been Liverpool’s turn and probably fairly.

Let me say this to the other 19 clubs and their supporters.

“Take a number and get in line.”

The number of awful and just downright corrupt (sorry but “inept” is just not a strong enough word) decisions against my club over the past two years have been enough to fill a small book. I won’t bore you with the details as you’re probably well aware of them and let’s be perfectly honest here, don’t care. Until the league does the following, these mails will continue to come in from supporters of every Premier League club:

1) Hold the officials accountable. There’s been some improvement here. Also publicly praise the officials who get it right. Players are scrutinized the week after, why not officials?

2) Have the officials state (like Rugby?) the offense and the ramifications or all to hear, including why the call was made.

3) Use VAR as IT WAS INTENDED…for CLEAR AND OBVIOUS errors. No more drawing lines, not more looking at it five ways from Sunday. If they can’t do this, bin it. Just get rid of it.

4) Retrain the officials in certain areas of the law such as “what is a handball?” Heck, we don’t even know what a handball is anymore. It changes week to week.

5) Give officials more protection on the pitch like Rugby. DO NOT approach the officials unless you’re the captain or you’ve been asked to approach. Players need to be held accountable for surrounding the referee and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do you touch the officials. Make that a zero tolerance policy.

6) Lastly, demote and promote officials who get it wrong the majority of the time or, who get it right the majority of the time. Give the officials a route to better/more matches and higher pay for good, consistent, performance.

This isn’t the end all be all list and I’ve seen the mailbox contribute with what I thought were some very good ideas in how to improve the quality of our league. But it’s clear !!! Improvements are a must in many areas if the Premier League itself doesn’t want to continue to drag the game, as a whole towards “disrepute.”
TX Bill (you think Everton having their fate in their hands is a good thing, I’m not so sure) EFC


What’s in a name?
While flicking through the scores of Dutch games last night I realised Willem II have a number 9 called Jizz Hornkamp. That is all.
Edward Canhands (Best football name since Rod Fanni)