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Got to say Jesse Lingard gets a lot of leeway by behaving like a child, and therefore making most in the media believe he is one. Because he loves FIFA, snapchat and the latest dance craze, people still brand him as “a young kid” like Keane yesterday, and many others as well. By contrast, Lukaku, with his hulking frame is seen as a grown up, and gets all the stock in the world. Lukaku is 25, Lingard 26. He’s a worker no doubt, but nowhere good enough to be playing in a Champions League team (for this year at least). By contrast, players the same age or younger than Lingard on the pitch yesterday: Salah and Mané (26), Fabinho (25) Keïta (23), Alisson (26), whilst for United they had Lukaku, Rashford (21), Dalot (19), Lindelöf (24).
Only Lingard (along with actual young players Rashford and Dalot) seem to gets any slack for being young.
KC (I’d say 23 is the cut off)
Last week, you published a letter from an Arsenal fan going to a first home match since the days of Highbury. Well, can I just echo his sentiments, big time.
Despite how well Spurs have been doing, this autumn has been very flat for me. Since July the disappointment of going back to Wembley, and the total aggravation surrounding the ticketing for matches there, has meant I haven’t been to all the matches as I would normally do.
However, last week I came up on a ballot for one of the few times in my life. So on Sunday morning, myself and my youngest son made our previously regular walk down Edmonton High Road, to our new home. Even though there was no match, I felt the same old excitement that the Arsenal fan mentioned. The stadium is fantastic, and right now I can scarcely contain my enthusiasm for our return. I had been going to the old stadium since I was 6 years old, and was quite emotional on that last day. It was a bit like Triggers broom, but it had a trunk full of memories for me.
Now all I want is for the team to move in, as it is light years ahead of Wembley, and it is home. I just hope our next european night is there.
By the way, I agree with the guy who wrote in last Wednesday, Eriksen, just give him whatever it takes to get him to stay.
Jim French (Spurs since ’59) Herts
Thanks to the Daily Express for getting my New Player Tabloid Headline Bingo off the Mark:
1. Absolutely Fab-inho!2. Not too Naby. He’s Keita player
3. Shaq-attack or “Shaq and Awe”
4. He’s my Ally-son: a Beck-stopper extraordinaire.
Only 3 more to go….
PS I have never seen such a gulf in class between Liverpool and ManUtd in a premier league match before….it wasn’t the scoreline, it was the ease with which Liverpool bossed the midfield and the wings and kept Man Utd’s considerable striking talents quiet….It was like being back in the 80s…..
PPS Liverpool fans, stay level headed with how well we are doing. Klopp is a great manager and gives us an excellent chance to pick up trophies, but he is not a trophy machine like Mourhino, Ferguson and Real Madrid are/were. It is very possible that we end the season with nothing despite racking up our best ever points tally in the League and reach another cup final. So keep humble until we have a real reason to boast – and even then keep the boasting light, it is not a great look.
Miguel (LFC fan since 1985)
Johnny Nic appreciation
I’d just like to thank John Nicholson for so eloquently putting into words what I’ve been trying to say for years; success is not purely measured by the size of one’s trophy haul.
Billz, #LFC (it would be bloody nice to win one this year though!) Nairobi
Defending the Glazers
I realise that as an Arsenal fan, I may not be qualified to comment on this, but I’m going to take the rare position of defending the Glazers. I argee with Eamonn, Dublin regarding Mouinrho’s performance, but he has over-simplified things somewhat regarding the ownership of the club and what the Glazers have done.
Trying to claim that Man Utd’s success came as a result of “100 years of Mancunian labour and 50 years of Glaswegian footballing philosophy” is frankly a lie. The Edwards family (as close to ‘Mancuncian labour’ as I will allow) tried to sell the club several times, even as early as 1984, and Man Utd were publically traded following a floatation in 1990.
I don’t plan on rehashing the old arguments that you made your bed/funded some of your success via a floatation, and therefore have to lie in it/live with the consequences, but just saying “a rich American filled out some forms with a bank and now his kids get to keep all the money United make” is the kind of analysis a child would make.
The Glazers’ ownership is the same as any other private owner, and I find it difficult to reconcile your claim that they have demonstrated “apathy and/or incompetence in the boardroom” whilst at the same time admitting that they have grown the club’s revenues to previously incomprehensible levels and funding a level of transfer activity that can only be rivalled by nation states.
I acknowledge that they have taken money out of the club, but it’s hardly as if you’ve not been able to afford players recently. There is an argument that Sir Alex Ferguson was denied funds, but he certainly never complained of that, and has defended their ownership on multiple occasions.
As Eamonn himself points out, when the Glazers took over, only Real Madrid were of a comparable size. Frankly, that remains the case, and it is only through their approach of growing the club’s revenue streams that this has happened. Since they took over 13 years ago, no club in England has had the same level of sustained success, and it is ridiculous to suggest that this would have been the case without the club generating the money that it does. Without this approach, it is far more likely that Man Utd would be comparable to AC Milan now, who are themselves now owned by a hedge fund due to poor stewardship by a foreign owner.
Compare your ownership with that of Liverpool in recent years. In both cases, a “rich American” with no historic link to the city or club took over the club. In one case, the revenue streams have ballooned through their commercial approach and success has been all-but guaranteed in recent years. Down the road, the club was allowed to coast and it almost went bankrupt, only to be rescued by another “rich American” who is now toasted for the manner in which they have run it to date. On that note, I’m not entirely sure of the relevance of their nationality…
The simple fact is that the Glazers have done a great job as owners when compared with almost every other owner out there, and it is not their fault that the players are not performing. At the end of the LVG era, if you had been told that Mourinho would be appointed and given £350 million to spend over the next 3 years, it wouldn’t even cross your mind that you would be blaming them or even Woodward for the shambles the club is now in.
Klopp vs Mourinho
First thing to clarify is that I am a neutral, not a liverpool or united fan (although I have a distinct hatred for Mourninho so not a true neutral)
But looking at this from the outside, nothing sums up the two managers current situations like the positions that Fabinho and Fred currently find themselves in.
There are a lot of similarities between the two – both summer signings, both brazilian central midfielders, both signed from teams playing in supposed lesser leagues, and both intended to strengthen their current sides.
However, the respective situations of both players sums up the differences in their managers.
One was thrown in at the deep end, struggled to stay afloat in the new environment, and has now been seemingly cast aside as an expensive flop after only 5 or 6 starts.
The other didnt play a game for the first few weeks, was then given some time to adjust despite initially struggling with the pace and demands of English football, and is now flourishing as a key part of Liverpool’s midfield rotation – and ran the game on Sunday whilst Fred was nowhere to be seen.
You’ve got to wonder if Fabinho had of gone to united as suggested last season whether he would have already been cast aside after initially struggling to adapt. It seems to be Jose’s policy.
Tom (Mourinho is making Mourinho easy to hate …)
Champions League draw
If that isn’t an exciting round of Last 16 fixtures I don’t know what is. Apart from Man City being given their seasonal free pass into the last 8, the rest of us Brits are really up against it.
Bayern will be a tough game for us. People will point to their poor domestic form, but let’s not forget that they still have the tournaments current top scorer to call upon, while Arjen Robben is still doing that unstoppable cut-inside -> top-bins thing. I’m predicting us to go through of course, but via a frantic VVD-less 3-2 win in the first leg and nervy confident 0-0 away from home.
Spurs Dortmund looks like the standout fixture, as Dortmund are absolutely flying while Spurs just always seem to find a way to make it over the line these days don’t they? The United team that Shaq shot down last night look like they would get eaten alive by PSG, but they still have a few months to put things right and I still don’t think Neymar and co. are up to the challenge of these knockout games.
Meanwhile, Atletico / Juve looks like an absolute classic, while we can enjoy watching Messi and Suarez bag a hatful of goals against Lyon, who can also be pretty exciting to watch.
Roll on Feb
Ryan C, LFC
The solution for United
Dave, Manchester suggested that United don’t need a reset. They need to shut down. A bit OTT, but perhaps he’s on to something. Let’s be honest. United seem to have absolutely no idea how to do football anymore, on or off the pitch, so why not just phone it in and focus on other ways to provide entertainment and improve the ‘Brand Image’. Here’s a few ideas to get the ball rolling-
-Before every match, have Ed Woodward draw a seat number out of a top hat and announce that the lucky winner shall be the new United manager until they lose a game. United fans to spend the whole season praying that Fergie’s seat number is drawn.
-Forget trying to play football altogether. Surprise the opposition by switching floodlights for the spotlight and wheeling out Alexis Sanchez at a piano playing Smooth Jazz accompanied by the crooning Juan Mata. It would certainly be more entertaining and probably more effective tactically.
-Rip up the pitch entirely and turn Old Trafford into an elite shopping complex for the discerning footballer. Lingard can just ‘Be Himself’ and focus on his clothing range. Pogba can open a hair salon called Dab Arber. Even Ibra can make a comeback to start up his own Dojo.
-Produce a new reality TV drama/comedy, where Pogba, Jose and Woodward have to share a single room at the Lowry and they are not allowed to leave until one of them takes the blame for United’s woes. Run’s for 10 seasons.
Hands off Leno
“The decision to sell Wojciech Szczesny continues to haunt Arsenal”
Really? Woz was perfect all of a sudden I see. I’m sure he would play flawlessly behind that back 3/4, not like the rubbish he has in front of him at Juve!
Leno has been fantastic so far this season and he came within a gnats arse hair of tipping that (excellent) floating cross to safety. Still a questionable decision on his part, but let’s not stoop to tabloid level conclusions on these hallowed pages please.
Matt Wright, Gunner in Aus.
Duncan Castles can’t be real, surely?
Getting beat by the old enemy is never easy but this one was particularly galling. It’s not that we haven’t taken a pasting before; that 4-1 in 2009 still smarts, in fact the 4-1 in the summer still hurts and that was a friendly. The shot count doesn’t bother me either per se, although it is a pretty good reflection on the match itself, as a lot of these were from distance and didn’t trouble DDG. The main issue I had were with the tactics both at the start then after HT and our complete lack of attacking ability/desire.
Last season we were more than a match for Liverpool by employing the 4-2-3-1 (draw away and win at home). Why then does Jose pick a different system the players clearly are not well enough versed in? Then to try to gain control of the midfield Fellaini was brought on and our right hand side looked wide open; so either Jesse was instructed to stay high or he didn’t track enough. Knowing how much Jesse normally busts a gut it would seem the former is true. This was maybe to give Robertson ‘something to think about’ or to give us an outlet on the counter attack other than Lukaku, who is clearly struggling at the moment. It wasn’t working yet it was left to go on without Jose reacting to it until it was too late.
The game was crying out for Pogba. Someone to put their foot on the ball and to calm things down in MF. That Pogba is out of form and favour explains why he wasn’t thrown on and is a reflection of how poor Mourinho’s decisions and man-management have been thisseason. That is partly on the player as well – Pogba has looked like he hasn’t really cared and clearly won’t give 100% as long as Mourinho is in charge.
Which brings us on nicely to the future. I could accept performances which were poor and inconsistent as long as I saw us moving forward in terms of results (progress if you must) – I was more than happy with where we ended up last season. But we have regressed this season and Jose does not seem to be able to arrest this slide, so it seems inevitable that this will be his last with us. That being the case, it would be better to get rid sooner rather than later to see which of this squad is actually worth keeping. Just hoping Woodward has a successor lined up who will get everyone pulling in the same direction; although I fear that is misplaced hope. Oh well, at least we got an easy draw in the CL.
Garey Vance, MUFC
Eagles & Gingerbreads
Crystal Palace and Grantham Town both won this weekend. My Saturday > yours.
*Palace’s win over Leicester City was the greatest discrepancy of any game this weekend, in terms of its aesthetics, between the general ugliness of the game and the beauty of its two decisive moments. This was a victory of toil and effort, not to mention surviving the weather. It was a throwback to a simpler time for football, when the battle was won by mental toughness and adapting to the conditions and the opposition more than by the execution of a well-rehearsed tactical plan based on hours and hours of studying footage.
This was not a game of high quality. The home side scored with their only shot on target and allowed City only two. Luka Milivojevic’s goal was spectacular and worthy of settling any match. However, it remains a worry that the team are reliant on low-percentage long distance goals, or set pieces; with or without Zaha, the system does not suggest the team is capable of unlocking defences on anything remotely resembling a regular basis.
*The Eagles made three enforced changes to the side that chucked it away against West Ham United: Jordan Ayew and Martin Kelly replaced the suspended Wilfried Zaha and James Tomkins, while a back injury to Wayne Hennessey enabled Roy Hodgson to hand a first Premier League start to Vicente Guaita. The Spanish goalkeeper has had to wait for his opportunity in the league, despite only conceding once in three League Cup games. However, much like James and Matthew in the morning mailbox mentioned with Jurgen Klopp and his signings, according to a piece by Ed Malyon for the Independent today, it appears that Hodgson wanted to ensure his highly-rated new goalie was fully settled in to life at the club before he threw him into the first team. Then, Hennessey reacted well to the competition with a superb start to the season, so Guaita had to wait. However, based on how well he coped with rather strange surroundings and an unfamiliar climate, it looks like the Welshman may have a struggle on his hands to win back his place.
Guaita was not the busiest of keepers, and nearly made a calamitous start when closed down by Jamie Vardy. That said, you could see why the officials called it a foul; there was a nudge in the back, but it was one of those that always seems soft when you’re penalised and that you feel the opposition get away with. However, he made sure his debut was memorable for the right reasons when he saved from the City ace, who is still a lethal finisher from inside the box.
*While Guaita’s selection was met with intrigue, and Ayew’s with apathy, it was Kelly that caused the most concern, yet the ex-Liverpool man proved a revelation. He was a rock in the heart of the defence and hailed as man of the match by many observers. With City’s main tactic being to get wide and put crosses in for Vardy, Kelly won header after header.
*In the wider context of the season, this was an important win, as two of Palace’s next three fixtures are against Manchester City and Chelsea, either side of hosting Cardiff City. There is a danger of the relegation zone catching up with us, but three points against the Foxes helps keep that at bay for a while longer at least. In last year’s fixtures against the Citizens, Palace were thumped once and then brought their winning streak to a juddering halt in a typical Palace game: went into it expecting to lose, played well, squandered a chance to win, giving an unlikely point earned a feel of two points dropped as a big club is let off the hook.
*Grantham Town also secured a vital win on Saturday, against one of the few teams below them in the league going into the game. A ball over the top caught out the Mickleover Sports defence and forced the Sports keeper to commit a professional foul, ending his involvement in proceedings and requiring a striker to go in goal for more than an hour. Town scored from the resulting free kick before they struggled to control the game, conceding an equaliser in the 71st minute. Mickleover ran out of steam towards the end and the Gingerbreads sealed a 3-1 victory with two goals in the final ten minutes. Hopefully this is time to start looking up the table instead of over their shoulder.
*Grantham’s top scorer from last season, Lee Shaw, opened his account for Chesterfield when he scored the fourth goal in their 5-1 win over Basford United in the FA Trophy. The keeper he scored past was Kieran Preston, his teammate from last season.