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The demise of Manchester United
I love watching the demise of Manchester Utd as much as the next man but I’m a little concerned by the current crop of ‘megastars’ they have in the ranks. Once you break it down, it does not make for good reading…..
David De Gea – Doesn’t want to be there. Won’t sign a new contract.
Ashley Young – captain and first choice right back. Bog standard left winger that wouldn’t get a game ahead of Zaha at Crystal Palace in his preferred position.
Mike Smalling – Played well recently but wouldn’t look out of place at West Ham.
Phil Jones – LOL
Luke Shaw – Not playing too bad but his body shape suggests he won’t be around for long.
N. Matcic – Old, slow. Needs replacing.
Paul Pogba – If he was paid £1 for every time he gave the ball away he would be paid £200, 000 per we…… Oh!!
Andrea Herrera – Already looking to leave.
Jesse Lingard – Average at best. Prefers Instagram. Would he get in a Spurs team? Nope.
Martial & Rashford – Proper top 6 players that any club would take. Although Martial has a tendency to look disinterested.
Special mentions to…
Sanchez – LOL. Absolute poison in the club. Other players using him as an excuse to bump their own wages up.
Mata – Nice guys always finish last.
Lindelof – The magnolia of defenders.
Fred – My Grandad was called Fred. He probably did more for Utd and he was City fan.
Jimmy (When did the brackets thing start?) Mongolia
So it seems my mail about United (possibly) slipping to mid table obscurity under Ole has rattled a few people.
Of the list I provided of players that could potentially leave it wasn’t generally about which of the players were leaving as opposed to the number of players leaving. Though it would still be a blow to lose several of the players Id listed as it would leave us short of a full squad overall for when injuries take their toll.
My bigger concern is the recruitment side of things from United. Since SAF retired the recruitment has been most of the time, a shambles. You need only look at the amount of players United have signed since Sir Alex retired that have since been sold on again to see that there’s a huge problem with recruitment. That’s besides the embarrassment of trying to sign the likes of Ramos or Godin only for them to sign new contracts. Keeping Herrera and Mata wouldn’t be the worst decision the board have ever made and anyone saying they’re the wrong side of 30 do they not remember Giggs, Scholes, Zlatan etc playing into their 30’s and beyond?
My fear is that let’s hypothetically speaking say United fail to close the gap and make top 4. No champions league next season, 6 players leave, will United sign 6 players to replace them? Unlikely, with the rising cost of players and given the last 3 seasons United have failed to sign more than 4 players in a window.
The likes of Sancho or Hudson-Odoi,(players that we’ve been linked to) young upcoming talent aren’t going to want to head to United for Europa League when they can sign for Bayern Munich and win most domestic trophies or stay with Dortmund for champions league football respectively.
I’m not saying that signing Ole as manager is a dead loss I think we could see more of Gomes, Chong and Greenwood as a result of his appointment and hopefully we’ll be talking about the class of 19 in the coming years. At the moment though it’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes and I think it’s hard to disagree that the next 4/5 months will be vital to how next season goes for United.
Sterling vs CHO / Carragher hypocrisy
I generally enjoy Aravind’s submissions, but this morning’s mail was quite odd. Drawing a comparison between Sterling at Liverpool and Hudson-Odoi at Chelsea is nonsensical.
First of all, primarily, Raheem Sterling was an integral part of Liverpool’s starting 11 for 2 seasons. Hudson-Odoi, if I’m not mistaken, has been an integral part of Chelsea’s starting 11 for 2… games? Suggesting a player who hasn’t been getting playing time should move on is not “diabolical”.
Secondly, Raheem Sterling has clearly benefited from his move, so there is nothing wrong in changing one’s view on the subject over the course of several years, especially with the benefit of hindsight. Maybe you wish Carragher would randomly interject “I was wrong about Sterling by the way, even though the situation was completely different!!!”, but you can’t always get what you want.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
I mean Chelsea fans are renowned as being the most disgusting fans on the planet but Aravind is in a league of his own.
I genuinely haven’t the energy to point out how idiotic his Carragher email was but I will say stop socialising with Danny Drinkwater.
Only explanation for the most idiotic email I have ever read in the mailbox….and I have been a fan since 2006.
Kind of impressive in a Theresa May cringe dancing kind of way.
Firstly I don’t know precisely what Carragher said about anyone on Sky Sports last night. However Aravind, if you have a problem with the opinions of Jamie Carragher the individual, why not just write in with a letter solely about the opinions of Jamie Carragher the individual? As opposed to a letter dripping with the now familiar negative generalisations, unsubstantiated nonsense and crackpot theories all applied to Liverpool Football Club and its supporters.
Oh, and if Carragher is an ‘agent’ of Liverpool, he’s certainly not a ‘sleeper’ is he?! ‘He was just a quiet pundit, kept himself to himself all these years. You’d never have known he favoured Liverpool’.
As you mentioned in your email You do understand that Sterling and CHO are totally different situations. Sterling was involved in a title challenge with liverpool. Playing week in week out.. playing champions league etc so his request was different. CHO is doing a fraction of tht currently.
You mentioned multiple times in your correspondence tht it’s not a like for like comparison… so why are u even bringing it up?? Carra having the same opinion isn’t possible because as you said the situations aren’t like for like therefore the opinions wont be either?
Also your mail implies that over a number of years a person’s opinion cannot change?
Continually admitting your comparison is bull, doesn’t give you permission to continue to use that comparison as the main point of your argument. Sterling and CHO are not comparable situations, so stop trying to wedge it in just because you don’t like Carragher.
I agree that Carraghers CHO advice is dodgy and maybe he has ulterior motives, but not because of his previous Sterling advice. Carraghers Sterling advice was self serving as he wants Liverpool to win.
Further, Sterling’s move from QPR to Liverpool is nothing like his move to Man City. Moves from academy’s are not the same as moves to erstwhile first team rivals.
Both moves I think he was right to make at the time, and career wise have proven to be excellent decisions.
What a goal. What a player. Like most people, I am fairly convinced Eden Hazard is off to Real Madrid this summer. As a Chelsea fan it is a bittersweet feeling because he has given us so many great moments but, at the same time, he’s also stayed with us through some incredibly low times. I can’t believe he’s stayed as long as he has, in all honesty. His loyalty is very rarely mentioned but players of his incredible quality would not normally hang around after our 15/16 season (10th with Jose). But he did stay and he won Chelsea Player of the Year with Conte’s first title-winning season. To then stay after our 17/18 season – and finishing top goalscorer as well – speaks volumes of the man.
All throughout he’s been courted fairly openly by Real Madrid and Zidane so to keep providing moments, games, seasons of such huge quality is a testament to him. No whisper of mutiny; he just gets on and plays his football.
And play he does. This is not a job for him, it is sheer joy and that type of player is, for me, the type of player I love watching.
Frankly I can’t understand why he’s not in the discussion for Player of the Year this season. 6th most goals, 1st most assists, 2nd most key passes, 1st most dribbles, 1st Man of the Match awards (by a distance). These are incredible numbers. This isn’t just coming from a Chelsea fan either, I am a football fan first and foremost. I greatly admire what Sterling and Van Dijk have done this season but I’m just saying Hazard has a great case for the trophy.
Basically, enjoy him while you can because we’ll all miss his talent when he’s gone and the Premier League will be significantly less Premier without him.
Here we go again. Hazard scores a worldie brace and he’s up for GOAT (Greatest of all Tuesday?).
Simple fact is he’s incredibly inconsistent, doesn’t raise the standard of those around him, and downs tools when things aren’t going his way/he fancies a new manager. He plays for himself. He’s admitted all that himself, but he hasn’t changed.
Big match performances notwithstanding, for all those reasons he will never be a truly world class player of the same ilk as those he’s looking to join at Madrid.
Hopefully that’s his big performance of the month out of the way and he doesn’t make me eat by words by scoring yet another brace against Liverpool on Sunday (he clearly will, won’t he?).
Enjoy the Bernabeu.
League One update
A mailboxer asked for an update on the lower leagues last week, and since no one has stepped up I thought I would oblige for League One.
First placed Luton are an incredible 28 games unbeaten – a League One record. They finally dropped some rare home points against playoff chasers Blackpool, and the league leaders will lose League One player of the year (and leading goalscorer) James Collins to suspension after a sending off. Eight points clear, they should hold on, though other teams have games in hand.
Sunderland are one of those teams. Their April schedule is brutal – eight games in 25 days, owing to their FA and EFL cup runs. They showed great spirit to come from behind against Rochdale on Saturday to win 2-1, and play Burton (who beat current second place Barnsley on Saturday) at home tonight. Much may depend on the quality of Aiden McGeady and Will Grigg to see them home; Portsmouth and Barnsley will be hoping that the Black Cats’ punishing run of games will catch up with them.
Portsmouth, having overcome a mid season blip to win the EFL trophy, are roaring back into automatic promotion contention. Should they fail to go up, surely the big clubs will come calling for colossus Matt Clarke; a Premier League player in the making if there ever was one. Portsmouth should hold out for upwards of 6 million for him, while promotion would likely double his value. Meanwhile, youngster Ben Close is coming into his own in midfield, and the experience of Brett Pitman will be invaluable down the stretch.
At the other end, you can throw a blanket over the bottom half – a mere 6 points separate 13th to 23rd. I’d back Wimbledon to perform a Great Escape; they’ve won 3 in 5 but still sit 21st; no one else can buy a win. Heart rate monitors and squeaky bums at the ready for League One managers and fans – it’s going to be an exciting finish.
So I thought maybe it might be nice to send an update from League 1 Sunderland, where we’ve been witnessing a real topsy-turvy season after the absolute drudgery and despair of the last four or so. Started like a train in the league, smashing goals in left right and centre, but then faded away with a succession of draws around New Year, coupled with losing top scorer Josh Maja to the French league and (possibly not adequately) replacing him with Will Grigg. A run in the Checkatrade Trophy resulted in us mounting up a huge swathe of games in hand over second-placed Barnsley (Luton having, rather amazingly, simply run away with top spot), but as we all know, points in the bag are better than games in hand, yeah? After the excitement of making it to Wembley (and beating Newcastle and Manchester City along the way – I know it’s their under-23s but I’m claiming them) and then losing on penalties to Portsmouth, we’ve managed to refocus nicely on the league and have levelled up on points with Barnsley, with two games in hand. Hopefully, just hopefully, we can snatch that second automatic promotion spot and not have to go back to Wembley maybe in the play-offs, where we could face Portsmouth again (or even Charlton, anyone remember 1998?)
Just a few observations from the season so far:-
Jack Ross has done a tidy job, putting together possibly the best technical team in the division, only losing two games and failing to score in only one so far. His tactics though are on the side of cautious and this has contributed to our large number of draws. Playing big Charlie Wyke (who looked hopelessly shorn of confidence until recently) up front alongside Grigg has to start being the go-to plan, especially at home, as we often seem to lack a Plan B.
Size really matters in League One, it would seem. We have a squad that’s on the small side (I was amazed to find Lynden Gooch isn’t much bigger than my ten-year old son, when I met the team at a hospital appointment), and some of the opposition at this level are based firmly around their size, strength and power. Teams have caused us lots of problems with physicality and I think a few more “bruisers” in our own squad might have served us better over the season.
Don’t complain about Premier League referees – the standard in League One is much, much worse. I’ve been amazed at a lot of the refereeing quality, lots of basic mistakes and inconsistency far above what we’re used to at higher levels. You don’t realize what you’ve got till it’s gone, I guess.
Sunderland making all their games available via a streaming service was a master-stroke, the engagement level with fans has really grown and we could see that with the demand for Wembley tickets. Obviously Saturday games are still supposedly “protected” but apparently sales of VPN subscriptions in the north-east have skyrocketed. Despite this we still managed to break the League One attendance record so it’s clear that you can pander to the “armchair” fan without too much of a knock-on effect, although I guess you’d need a big fan base to be able to do this.
It’s all very well seeing the best players in action, but football is nothing without excitement. The standard is immaterial. I think I haven’t enjoyed a Sunderland season this much since 1999/2000. Here’s hoping we don’t end up back at Wembley again and can come up to the Championship the easy way!
James (Sunderland, Liverpool or Man City to watch tonight? No contest 😊) R, Sunderland