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Bye-bye, Big Six
I know there are still about 8 weeks of the transfer window left but could we nearing the end of the top 6 ( who before you go complaining have really only been a thing for a decade before that there was the even smaller top 4 and before that Man U or Arsenal ) finally starts to crack open let’s assess the members
Liverpool – The quest for that elusive title remains the one thing this club can get what will happen when what happens if they don’t achieve it this year will the next manager be as good as Klopp
Man City – Will still maintain the mindset of winners but the core are aging Kompany is gone .You look at that defense and ask yourself how are a team with Stones, Otamendi and Walker that good? David Silva has been quietly replaced , but Fernandinho is yet another year older will the next guy have the commitment and ability to keep them playing the way they are , Aguero wasn’t highest goal scorer and is as old as Messi , is Jesus really the messiah they need when he’s not available ,will Sane finally achieve all that is expected of him all of this may not matter as long as Pep is there
Spurs – Poch has been a great coach but the team he started with is now long in the tooth Vertoghen is almost 33 ,Dembele who was integral has left,They have no in form right full back ,Son and Kane for some reason can’t seem to play together without one of them being diminished As a whole they struggled last year and would have been playing Europa had the wheels not fallen off entirely at old trafford.And you get the feeling they will only remain in the top spots for as long as Poch cotinues to work his magic
Chelsea – Ultimate wild cards dependent on the transfer ban ,How much the owner is willing to spend and who the manager is they are as likely to finish top 3 again this year as they are to finish 9th especially without the get out of of jail free card named Hazard,Eden
Arsenal – I know that Man U are considered a shambles but they actually have qualified for the champions league 2 out of the last 3 years,Arsenal are actually going to play in the group stage of Europa for the 3rd straight year that’s a decline that has refused to reverse. They’ve slowly gone from the treble to mere contenders to 4th spot is a trophy to actual Europa regulars the next 2 years will be important
Man Utd -No where is a bigger role of the dice happening than Man U the board have decided to back OGS who for some reason a lot of pundits including this site believe is unqualified and are tipping fails.This season it’s all on him he will not be able to blame Jose for the training or 1st half of the season or the signing as he is now firmly in charge . This can go one of two ways he shows managerial acumen a la Pep and Zidane or he shows Ince was right (Oh God the horror) and like Craig Shakespeare and a former Hull manager he is very familiar with is proven to have just been a good caretaker.
So when you look at that top 6 there are a few teams one managerial change or bad decision away from falling out when you look at the next 4 Everton,Wolves,Leicester you see teams that money and with the right organisation and attitude can supplant anyone who slips up and if your the team that fall into the abyss be wary it may be hard to get your spot back.
Pogba keeping United relevant
I’m not intentionally trolling here, but perception is reality so only your readership can tell me if I am or not (should this missive make it to the hallowed html of the Mailbox), but everybody offering to pack Paul Pogba’s bags for him isn’t being realistic about the impact of him leaving.
It’s not that Pogba is too inconsistent to build the team around or that he is Maleficent himself in the dressing room that matters, but rather what he represents that is most troubling for United. If he goes, what World Class player would realistically replace him at United? He was United’s best performer last season, like him or not, and if he goes he will leave an enormous gap in terms of output (goals, assists, wins).
Similarly, he is the most marketable player with the biggest Instapresence – again, without him, who will replace him in terms of enhancing United’s presence on the line? Did somebody mention Rashford and Lingard? Really?
United simply have to keep him to avoid losing all relevance in the Premier League and the wider football economy. Even if he is the problem in terms of the football and actually winning games, Accountant Ed is going to keep him around as he knows that he is the only thing keeping the Noodle and Tractor sponsors rolling in.
Gofezo (football economy. Yuk) Jesus
I thought there were some excellent responses in defence of Pogba and what made it more interesting is they didn’t call come from United fans. I am a United fan and we have been bloody spoilt in my lifetime and I don’t recall ever seeing the vitriol aimed towards one player so visibly as we saw towards Pogba at the end of last home game of the season. Not even Di Maria got it this bad when he deserved to
I like Pogba and I will be sad to see him go but he encapsulates what’s so wrong at the club, seems contradictory I know but allow me to explain.. Pogba has talent and self-confidence in abundance, he doesn’t shy away from exuberance on and off the pitch which is why he is marketing dream and that’s what united have become all about lately. United will not let him go because of his appeal which continues to rake in money regardless of the poor results on the pitch. What Pogba and the team needs is someone to keep him in check, someone as good if not better than him to maintain the high standards. He’s not had this since his first season back with us when Ibrahimović was around who had even more self-confidence than Pogba but backed this up with his performances. Together they had relative success winning the Europa and League, often connecting directly with each other. Pogba said himself recently the best he’s played with are Scholes and Pirlo and it is the latter who set the standard during his time with Juve. As for Scholes, there’s that training ground story where a young Ronaldo was showing him all his tricks to which Scholes pointed at a tree some distance aware and proceeded to strike it the ball first time which Ronaldo couldn’t do. Every successful team has these kinds of players who are confident in their own ability , Cantona, Henry, Drogba, but they could never do it on their own which is why you put players of similar standard around them, Lampard, Bergkamp, Scholes etc. (with exception to Ronaldo and Messi who could do it on their own). I’m not making a case for us to go out splurge silly money on the superstars, some of the ones mentioned above didn’t arrive as one.
I don’t blame Pogba for wanting to leave, we haven’t given him much of a supporting cast and another mailboxer pointed out he is approaching his prime now wanting to show he’s worthy of being amongst the best. The perception of him here in the UK has been wrong even when he was in the youth ranks at United, comparing him to Vieira based on his athleticism when really he’s more like Zidane with flair and languid style. Is it any wonder he wants to go and work with him and learn from him directly whilst playing alongside the likes of Hazard, Modric and Varane instead of Lukaku, Fred and Jones. I reckon he will go and thrive, become even better but I won’t despair as I’ve seen many of our best players leave before their prime. We sold Ince, Hughes and Kanchelskis in one summer and lost our opening game to Villa with youngsters including an relatively unknown David Beckham scoring our consolation… we’ll probably follow suit next season but it won’t be our year for a while yet
Wass MUFC (Sanchez is far worse than Pogba on social media.. all you see is him get paid to go to the gym, obsess about his dogs, have time to make movies whilst playing cheesy music)
…Think I disagree with Scott CPFC regarding Pogba. The issue isn’t that he can’t be bothered against mediocre opposition, the issue is that he can’t cut it in the big games. I am happy to stand to be corrected here but in what big game where the pressure was on did Pogba perform this season? When Mourinho got sacked the pressure was firmly off (they were an insurmountable number of points off the top 4, if I recall a football365 article correctly) but once they played themselves back in with a chance to achieve something he wilted (along with the entire team in fairness).
Pogba is another Ozil for me; simply doesn’t have the desire or talent to really cut it amongst the very best. For Ozil I think it’s a lack of strength so he gets bullied out of games and for Pogba it seems a lack of Sterling-Type personality.
I picked Sterling on purpose because I think Sterling doesn’t have the natural attributes of a top footballer whilst Pogba does and yet I suspect it’ll be Raheem who is seen as world class universally whereas Pogba will always be at the margins of debate.
Also “good enough to win a World Cup” is a nonsense argument. Djimi Traore won a champions league it doesn’t make him a quality defender.
…Please please can we stop using the “well he won the world cup” as a marker of how good Paul Pogba is.
Bernard Diomede has won the world cup for France…!
Yes, Exactly.. £3mill we paid for him in 2000!!! 5 games and 0 goals we got for that but he did won the world Cup in ’98 so he must have been great right?
and as we all know Djimi Traore won the Champions League.. Just saying…
…Whatever Scott CPFC is smoking I think he should lay off it for a while. His best one was when he said that if you were 2-0 down to Barca at half time that Pogba is the guy you would want to have coming on. Were United 2-0 down at half time recently against Barca and I believe Pogba was playing but to be honest the only way I knew was his name was on the team sheet. How did that end?
The thing about Pogba is that some people, including himself, think you can build a team around him. His biggest success has been with teams where he is not the main man. With France the team is built around a solid defence led by Varane and using the brilliance of Mbappe and Griezman to hit teams on the break. In that team he is just another cog. Doesn’t do anything particularly brilliant but is solid. Same with Juve. Team was built around Buffon, strong defence, Pirlo and Tevez. Again he wasn’t the main man and again he was solid without being spectacular. If he goes to Madrid he will be ok as team will be built around Hazard and the only really tough games will be Barca and Athletico but come the tough games in the champions league he will again go missing.
Finally will these people who keep saying “he’s a WC winner” stop using it as if it’s proof he is great player. Olivier Giroud is a WC winner, Jimmy Traore is a champions league winner. Do I need to say any more.
Ken, Cork, Ireland
Wow, impassioned stuff from AL LFC on Conor Mcgregor. I’m Irish and an MMA fan and would take issue with some of the fudging of facts like the fact that Nate Diaz is a 155lb fighter and they fought at the higher weight class because Diaz was taking the bout at such short notice he wouldn’t have time to get the weight off.
More importantly than that, though… “his momma named him Clay, so I’m gonna call him Clay”. She didn’t, though, did she. The white slave owners who kidnapped his ancestors from Africa called them Clay, y’know… like dirt. Hence Ali deciding on the name change. Maybe put some respect on that for what it represents.
He was also a greater man than the degenerate McGregor has revealed himself to be so the comparison is insulting in and of itself. He fought for civil rights and justice for all at a time when it literally endangered his life whereas McGregor idolises Scarface and hangs around with criminal gangs who prey on the underprivileged and disenfranchised.
Sorry, not football, but this needed answering.
Not a bigot, just not interested
Dear Mr. Nicholson, I write to you as an extremely upset cis, white male in his early thirties.
Regarding your article on the women’s game, I feel like you have (perhaps purposefully?) labelled those of us with no interest in the women’s game as misogynists and bigots. This may well be true for some, I am prepared to admit that it may even be true for the majority.
There are however, those of us who just don’t care because we have no investment in it (for example, I am from Belfast and neither Irish team has qualified). I don’t know the names of any of the players, nor could I tell you the winners of the last competition or the favourites for this one.
This is not because I feel women have no place in the game, rather I do not have any interest in finding out. By way of example, I am interested in the “Big 4” leagues in Europe, the domestic game in Ireland, and the serial crushing disappointments of supporting the Irish and Northern Irish National teams. All other competitions (MLS, Africa Cup of Nations, etc.) are beyond my interest and as such, I do not care about them.
So please, avoid the lazy labeling of all disinterested fans. Some of us just have a tiny amount of attention to devote to football, and stick to those events and competitions that mean the most to us.
P.s Love your work in general, can we still be friends?
Grumpy Irish Steve, Belfast (Yes, given the point of your article I am aware of the irony of my mail)
Serie A swapsies
Harry de Cosemo’s great little piece on the managerial merry-go-round in Serie A highlights a very strange quirk of Italian football – that in a country so passionate about football, with rivalries which frequently cross the line from ‘passionate’ into ‘scary’, there seems to be a long tradition of managers merrily bed-hopping between clubs who are sworn enemies. Ancelotti & Capello have both managed Juve and Milan, with a little bit of cheeky Napoli and Roma action (respectively) thrown in for good measure. That is exactly as weird as Fergie at Liverpool or Shankly at Utd.
But it doesn’t stop at the managers – the players are at it too! (I make no apologies for basing this observation largely on my sketchy memory of Gazetta Football Italia.)
Just look at some of the high-profile culprits:
Pippo Inzaghi (Juve & AC Milan)
Christian Vieri (Torino, Juve, Inter, Lazio, AC Milan)
Andrea Pirlo (Inter, AC Milan, Juve)
Roberto Baggio (Juventus, AC Milan, Inter,)
Dino Baggio (Inter, Juve, Parma, Lazio),
Gianluca Zambrotta (Juve & AC Milan)
Angelo Peruzzi (Roma, Inter, Juve, Lazio)
Leonardo Bonnuci (Inter, Juve, Milan, Juve again!! Taking the piss!)
All Italians there, but the foreign players were at it too – Edgar Davids, Thomas Helveg, Paolo Sousa, Patrick Vieira, Zlatan…even Daniel Fonseca, the dreadful Uruguayan striker whose curtains weren’t cool even when curtains were cool (what?), managed to play for Cagliari, Napoli, Roma and Juve.
What’s the point? I dunno. Isn’t that just really weird?? As Harry says, your Gerrards, Carras, Nevilles, Scholesies, Terrys etc would never do this. And nor do your Vidics, Hyypias, Hazards, Henrys etc etc.
Where’s the loyalty, the tribalism? How can the fans climb down from years of cursing the ground a player walks on to signing his name in the stand? This just does not happen in English football. I don’t reckon it happens too often in Spain either, Luises Figo and Enrique excepted. It’s not like Germany either, where the money of Bayern just hoovers up anyone and everyone. Why should this be the case? Is it a bad thing? Does it make for a more interesting competition?
I guess it doesn’t matter, but it sure is fun to indulge in some rainy Monday afternoon 90s nostalgia.
Steve, Belfast (What IS the plural of a Vidic? Vidices? Vidici?)