The signing of Mason Mount looks like a massive mistake while we also have knee-jerk reactions on Chelsea and more.
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Has Ten Hag cocked it?
It’s early days in the season of course but has Ten Hag, in what must be assumed a transfer he at least is on board with, screwed the pooch with this Mount transfer?
When he was signed I was actually quite pleased as I assumed, correctly, that he would play more as a No. 8 than his previous roles for Chelsea and England where he was a No. 10/wide right attacker. Having witnessed Eriksen get bypassed time and again in the FA Cup final, a more mobile replacement seemed a good idea. He also might have fallen into the category of a transfer where the opportunity was too good to pass up, ironically like Eriksen on a free was.
Two games in and he is indeed playing in midfield with Bruno and Cas but the balance is all over the place and anyone with a hint of athleticism and drive is able to pick up the ball and waltz right through the United midfield. Surely such tactical and positional issues should have been worked on during pre-season? We’re also seemingly attempting a City-esque full back moving into midfield thing to make up the numbers but all that seemed to do was give Kulusevski all the space in North London he could have wanted on Saturday. Again, has this stuff not been worked on?
We shouldn’t overlook that the midfield partnership last season of Casemiro and Eriksen came together somewhat by accident, Cas being a last minute panic buy and Eriksen being a nice opportunistic free. Now ETH has had a chance to actually construct a midfield of his own with plenty of planning and it’s an absolute car crash.
Now for all the talk of Amrabat, correctly as you can’t just rely on Casemiro for every game, he is being discussed as a starter WITH Casemiro. Which undermines the supposed new style two games in.
Combined with his continued use of Rashford through the middle, Antony being guaranteed starts despite not justifying such loyalty and Garnacho starting when it is clear he is probably still be used an impact sub, I can see the daggers starting to come out pretty quickly. It’s one thing to get things wrong, far more egregious to stubbornly stick with them despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Seeing the Man Utd positives
Let’s start with reinforcing the fact that I know nothing. But am I the only one who sees progress in what United are doing? There’s a general ‘Yes United were the better team for a significant period but we’ll just ignore that’ thing going on. Sure, the result drives the narrative but it does seem strange that a lot of focus on Spurs v United is ignoring the first part of the game.
What I saw, and people have been stating, is United started well. Those who say United only did well due to Spurs mistakes ignore the fact that the United plan was to force those mistakes. United could, and again as has been stated perhaps should have scored at least two goals by half time.
Now, you can’t just ignore the fact that they didn’t, but you also shouldn’t ignore the fact that they should have. If Rashford or Bruno finish one of their presentable chances and the penalty that should have been given for the clear handball is scored, would anyone have said scoring 2 was underserved? Now, Spurs could have scored as well but United were by far the better team in the first half. If that’s reflected in the score, big if, it’s a different game.
There are issues, no doubt. But I’m going to focus on the positives. The goalkeeping is already offering glimpses of the change it can facilitate. Mount did lots of good work forcing high turnovers and showed there’s a plan for him that can work. The execution was poor. Hopefully that will come. But I can see progress and in the areas I think suggest what ETHs plan is and how it will work.
Give it time.
Why didn’t Man Utd get a big striker?
In recent years, much to the amusement of ABUs like myself, Man Utd have gone in for aging strikers like Ighalo and Weghorst to fill gaps in their squad. But, much to the chagrin of ABUs like myself, these moves have generally worked out well given the cost.
I can’t for the life of me work out why Man Utd have left themselves in the position of having one senior striker, a fairly callow one who is currently injured. I genuinely felt sorry for Rashford, electric from the left last season and putting doubters like me firmly in their box with an array of goals and a long streak of good form that showed he could score all types of goals. And now he’s been totally blunted by being stuck up front, a position that he clearly will never be good at.
Do any Man Utd fans out there know why Weghorst wasn’t retained to offer depth in that position? Why Martial is still at the club and not given an Aubameyang/Ozil type pay off to clear up a squad place? And if the Weghorst deal was too expensive, why Man Utd haven’t repeated their trick by bringing in someone in that mould who could do a job there for them. I’m not going to die in a ditch over who it should be and there’s plenty of reasons why the likes of Giroud, Dzeko or Antonio wouldn’t work – but surely there’s someone of that profile available at a cheaper price to offer rotation.
Instead, Man Utd seem to have a never ending amount of wide forwards who, other than Rashford, all seem to flatter to deceive most of the time. It doesn’t feel like long ago that Garnacho was heralded as the next super star, and then this weekend I’m reading a Man Utd fan in the mailbox writing him off entirely.
On another topic, if the Premier League was scripted and someone wrote Enzo missing a penalty and Caicedo giving one away in the same game, the reviewers would say they’d jumped the shark.
On inverted wingers and more…
I really hope Everton go down this year. It’s not just that they just finished ahead of Leeds – it’s the arrogance of spending loads without a plan and pulling 4 results out of their arse every season to just stay up for the last two years. Don’t ruin Jack Harrison please.
Watching Angeball work wonders against Man Utd got me thinking how odd it is that sometimes managers and fans say that an inverted winger cannot/isn’t suited to play on their natural side/foot. Surely this is the most natural position?
For example, Antony is a pretty shite right winger – why not try him on the left wing? How much more effective would Andros Townsend have been on the left rather than cutting and shooting wide all the time?
I get the benefit of inverted wingers but like most things in life, football is pretty simple. Older times I know, but the symmetry of seeing Ripley & Wilcox, Giggs and kanchelskis/Beckham and Gillespie & Ginola was fantastic to watch.
Old man shouts at clouds.
Villa will finish higher than Man Utd
Ah the opening fortnight of the season, a period of kneejerkery like no other. The melodrama and wailing, the teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing, the calls for owners out, questioning whether managers will, or should, last the season or even the month, the players who are already shit forever after a mediocre performance. Good times.
Man U are fecked and Ten Hag should be shipped off to who cares where as his team of miscreants are not fit to wear the shirt of Manchester United Football Club (we’re talking about here). After two games.
Chelsea’s young starlets are over-priced wastemen who need replacing already and Pochettino hasn’t a clue. After two games.
Everton are doomed, doomed I tells ye. After two games. Actually, this one is pretty accurate.
I for one am pretty zen right now, my beloved Gooners are looking in a good place right now, a 100% win rate at time of writing, only 1 goal conceded all season and new signings bedding in nicely. What’s that, what Crystal Palace result..? What do you mean we’ve already lost half our games..? When the hell is Timber injured until? We’re f##ked, Arteta OUT, Edu you suck, Daniel Ek save us!!!
Alay, N15 Gooner (already revising my pre-season predictions which had Newcastle fighting for 5th)
West Ham v Chelsea: 16 Conclusions
1) The purchase of James Ward-Prowse for £30m already looks like smart business. He joins a West Ham team built for his talents, and two assists doesn’t tell the story of his impact. What he really brings is a giant confidence boost. Every corner and free kick is now something West Ham’s opponents will fear.
2) Chelsea aren’t going to score many goals this season. Nkunku’s positional flexibility was plan A. A 343 based on James’s talents was perhaps plan B. If plan C is to have wingers hit crosses at Jackson – they won’t get anywhere.
3) Pochettino has to take the blame some blame for multiple mistakes. Going into half time they were in the ascendancy. The inside forward play by Sterling and Chukwuemeka was eventually going to be too much for West Ham. The decision to replace him with Mudryk arguably cost the game. The focus on crosses into the box – against a side renowned for their aerial prowess – was another huge mistake.
4) Antonio needs a special mention. Historically he has been Chelsea’s bogey player, and he was very impressive once again. He was given little support even before the sending off, but was able to score, harass, occupy the entire back line and while taking the pressure off West Ham’s defence.
5) Mudryk will never be an £89m player. He has great acceleration, but no football brain and seemingly wills in high pressure moments. He appears to be a blonde Theo Walcott – but without the shooting skills.
6) Caicedo had a nightmare debut. He let Fornals in for a late shot that deflected onto the bar – before giving away the penalty. He was the Yang to JWP’s Yin.
7) Paqueta showed real grit to play under a cloud of betting allegations. Normally he is a starting member of Brazil’s first team; with all the flair that you’d expect – and all the grit that you would not. West Ham can point at the Caceido transfer and demand crazy money should Manchester City bud again for him. Perhaps even another break of the UK transfer record ? Moyes won’t settle for much less.
8) It has been said before on these pages that Enzo Fernandez was and is a ruinous, Pogba-style transfer. Any player that needs “babysitting” (and requires further player transfers to “unlock” them)- is not worth having. Here he was ineffective, bringing little to proceedings except tidiness. Bellingham and Rice were arguably within reach for Chelsea this summer – and yet they ended up with Fernandez and Caceido. That must sting.
9) Speaking of Fernandez, he really had no business in taking the penalty. He’s never scored for Chelsea and never looked likely to in this game. Why was Jackson not given the duty ? Another question mark arises over Pochettino’s decision making.
10) Chelsea looked like a team that had never played together. Of course – this is because they haven’t. Playing so many new faces away, against a rival team, looked like a gamble from the start. A poor one at that. Gusto – a right back – made his debut in midfield.
11) West Ham vs Chelsea has become a true rivalry once again. The money flooding into the Premier League has damaged Chelsea’s cheat code, so West Ham are shopping at Waitrose now. Alvarez, Doku, Kudus are recent examples of players hunted by both teams, and West Ham can argue they have several players who could get into the Chelsea team now.
12) Most of the post match inquests will focus on the money spent by Chelsea, and the uneven way that it has been spent. A central defence featuring a 38yr old and a 19yr old was always risky. Colwill was out of position for Antonio’s goal, and struggled with his physicality all night. Colwill will surely/hopefully become a great player for Chelsea and England, but this assignment was damaging for him. He’ll need better guidance and management or his confidence will become shot like Fofana’s.
13) West Ham has 23% possession, yet scored 3 times and hit the bar. Chelsea never really looked like a threat, and a front line of Mudryk, Jackson and Sterling screams of mid table obscurity.
14) With that said, Sterling looked lively – especially as an inverted right winger. He was giving Palmieri real problems towards the end of the game, but still had little to aim at in the box.
15) Questions must be asked about the medical team at Chelsea – and perhaps the recruitment team also. After 2 games, Chelsea now add Chukwuemeka to an injury list that features Nkunku, Fofana, Broja, Chalobah, James, Badiashile, Betinelli.
16) Chelsea will next host Luton. The most expensive team in Premier League history host a club with a squad value of £73m. The market value of some of Luton’s players are lower than the weekly wages of Chelsea’s usual suspects (transfemrkt). This game is a banana skin. Surely Chelsea won’t slip again?
Tom – E13
To be Frank…
Do you think Chelsea and Everton will be willing to share Frank Lampard’s managerial nous when appointing new managers in a few weeks time?
Remaining resolutely giddy about Spurs
Hey, Andrew. Glad you enjoyed the Spurs game (I swear the atmosphere was seeping through the TV) and I understand your brain’s natural reaction to subconsciously and consciously not get excited about the future but I will do no such thing, sir.
The similarities you’ve raised – playing against a Manchester based club at the beginning of the season and having a positive atmosphere for a manager who wasn’t seen as a cretin – have no correlation to the basis of my email yesterday. The contrast between then and now is stark. Let me elaborate.
Kane didn’t start, true, but he was still part of our club (that is a HUGE change to now) and that starting 11 were all existing players, not one new signing that day. On Saturday we had a 60% new back line (including the GK). Hell, even Porro has only been here half a season.
That midfield 3 was new. Yes, Yves and Sarr had been signed prior to this transfer window but, let’s have it right, that was a brand new midfield 3. Only up-front can we say there was some familiarity. Whilst a win against City is always nice (most of our managers seem able to achieve that), we didn’t particularly have a playing style and the only impression Nuno gave as our new manager was one of ‘how the f*ck did I end up here at this beautiful stadium after an appalling season with Wolves!’ type of amazement. Again, absolutely massively different to what we have going on now.
I did set expectations. Those expectations being that it’s gonna be fun (with some beatings along the way by better teams) and that that we probably won’t qualify for CL but let’s enjoy the ride. If you can’t get excited at the prospect of Yves x Rodrigo x Maddison (you know, the future) then feel free to let me take any tickets off your hands. I’m all for enjoying the moment but those moments are what give you hope and hope is for the future. Don’t deny yourself the excitement of ‘what may be’. Don’t let Levy’s Tottenham not let you dream. If it doesn’t happen, so what? Big Sam will be available if it all goes tits up.
Glen, Stratford Spur
England were grinders
Look Spain were the better team but credit has to go to the Lionesses for getting as far as they did.
In truth, while they got very good at grinding out results, their only truly great performances came against China and the hosts and they were very lucky to get past Nigeria earlier in the tournament.
But making the final without your centre back captain and your top goal scorer from the Euros would have been like England showing up in Mexico 1970 without Bobbies Moore and Charlton.
It wasn’t to be for England but I’m not going to kick these Lionesses while they’re down. They’ve inspired a generation and ensured the Women’s game will remain in rude health for some time to come.
But how about the Beeb committing to screening a WSL game in the Saturday teatime slot every week?
The Women’s game right now is infinitely more interesting than watching the Man City machine meander their way to yet another league title. When they do it, I’m sure we’ll all be told how great they are and how we should all applaud this amazing achievement but only City fans will give the tiniest sh*t.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London