Keep your mails on Liverpool, Mo Salah, Manchester United and anything else coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Has Andy Robertson lost his form to the point now where he should spend some time on the bench? His performances over the past 12 months have been full of the boundless intensity but very little end product and a constant loss of the ball. In yesterdays defeat to West Ham, Robertson constantly gave the ball away when attempting crosses. He has last his ability to get the ball off the ground and seems to lack vision which Trent is getting the plaudits. In contrast, Tsimikas is performing well in the team and should be a starter going forward. The high line continues to reveal that it is an arrogant system which exposes the team to extreme vulnerability when teams pass through the midfield or lob the ball long over the top. Questions are being asked about VDD’s pace after the injury, but surely the question to ask is why do we negate a players defensive strengths of reading the game, clearing crosses etc and leave him to a footrace into a wide open pitch. It just feels that Liverpool’s high line has left the team in a state of constant vulnerability, twice in the first half Robertson failed to find a man with his cross and on both occasions, Antonio was set through one on one with Matip or Virgil. In addition, the high line results in a situation where an interception or block from opposition on the halfway line is now a 1 v 1 with Trent and Robertson desperately trying to get back.
It is time to sell Salah. The only way for Liverpool to generate the cash needed to compete with the endless cash of the Chelsea’s and City is to cash in on a world class player and use the 200 odd million to invest back in the squad. The sale of Coutinho should reassure Liverpool fans that this process can allow Liverpool to compete. The midfield is not good enough to win the league and the squad is desperately thin again.
Fred to turn into Mason Mount?
Once again after that expected and dismal performance I must chime in. Regarding the players I think a different manager will give a boon to players and you never know how they will react, think Mason Mount with Lampard. A hidden gem might arise. Maybe Fred starts putting in world class performances when he is coached by Zidane. But I was watching Moyeses West Ham beat Liverpool and thought to myself would Sir Alex Ferguson if he had come to United in this moment have been accepted by the fans? Would his style of play have been accepted? Keep in mind Sir Alex didn’t always play full on attacking football, playing Ji Sung Park on the wing is enough proof of that and especially in his early United days he wasn’t exactly winning. So considering todays fickle fan would Fergie have survived the early seasons of underperformance coupled with his defense first approach against quality teams if he came to manage United tomorrow?
Dino (Please not Rodgers) Kantardzic
We need to talk about David de Gea
I’m wondering how much of Man Utd’s defensive problems stem from David De Gea. Granted he has a statue that is Maguire in front of him, an out of position right back, and a 1 season in 5 wonder left back. All of which should be being dealt with in some capacity by your keeper during games. So how much of all the mess is on De Gea’s shoulders?
If we can look at it without club bias, is De Gea really that good? The saying is that ‘You don’t win anything without a top keeper’ guess what? Since De Gea has been there, Utd have won 1 Title, 1 FA cup, 1 league cup. He wasn’t picked for the Europa final where we won so that doesn’t count. He was for the last one, we lost Yay.
Granted he pulls off some saves, most of which are classed as worldies but in reality most of those are straight at him and he does just stand there. Roma away was a prime example. He gets a lot more praise for a save than most other keepers. He got player of the year for a few years running, but is that more to do with him making saves that he shouldn’t really have had to make if he could organise what is in front of him better?
He is a serial loser, a bit like most of the Utd team, but De Gea is held in such high regard by so many and I just don’t see it. To be called one of the best in the world yet not being #1 for your country and with many not being able to name Spains #1, doesn’t add up. Ole has often come out and said that for him, ‘De Gea is the best in the world’ and therefore makes him the best paid keeper in the world on a ludicrous contract. After Jose left and he talked about De Gea’s new contract, Jose said ‘I think he is very lucky to get it’
The man turns 31 today and is still making such basic mistakes and is lacking as an allround keeper which is leading to us conceding. I expect it as a new kid on the block, a young keeper, but this is a 31 year old making 21 year old mistakes. Let’s be honest, he chucked in Cities 2nd, he chucked one in against Atalanta, that’s 2 in 2. You can make all the ‘great’ saves during a game, but if you then chuck one in, what’s the point?
He is very week in one v one situations, rather than coming out and making himself big, he almost curles up in a ball. I think instinct wise he is very good, somehow managing to stick a leg out, wave a hand and it makes for a wonderful photo save. On the other hand, if he has to think about anything and make a decision, he fails to convince on many if not every occasion.
Elite level Keeping has moved on. No longer are you asked to simply keep the ball out, you have to have pin point distribution, have a greater command of your area, be alert to balls over the top, communicate far more as the game has got so much faster. De Gea is a 2000’s era keeper playing in 2021.
His distribution is appalling. How many times during 1 game does he put the side under the cosh through a dodgy kick? He looks completly clueless on goal kicks, cannot throw and with the ball at his feet, well it is hardly inspiring. I watched Ederson and he is so confident, he invites the opposition onto him and the calmly passes with either foot, no fuss, no drama, nobody gets tetchy as they all know he can do it.
Cammanding his area is non existant, point proven by Cities 2nd. If anyone thinks he is not at least 80% at fault there then they must be watching a different game. No communication what so ever. The defence rely on their keeper to let them know but time and time again, he does nothing. He doesn’t even know that Silva is there, classic case of ball watching, mouth vacantly wide open with nothing coming out. Maybe if he had shown as much emotion in stopping Silvas toe poke that was straight at him as he did with punching (and missing) the tunnel, he might have saved it. Talking about saving, he can also save his ‘I am hurt’ unsocial media post. Shut up, nobody cares after you’ve thrown yet another one in.
I’m not just picking on the last couple of games, it’s been forever. When did he last come and claim a cross? David James used to get so much stick for fumbling crosses, difference is, James used to come for almost every cross, De Gea doesn’t come for any. The relief it gives the whole side knowing your keeper is going to come and collect anything up to the penalty spot is enormous. De Gea is glued to his line, saying nothing and hoping either someone heads it or he gets a lucky foot in to make a save.
He is the only keeper I see who always goes feet first into a challenge. He’s afraid, scared incase he might get a little knock.
Glued to his line? Against Liverpool was another example of this. Rashford decideds to play the worst back pass in history which sends Salah though. Now if that was almost any of the other EPL keeper, or almost any other European keeper playing at a high level, they would have come and cleared that before Salah was even close. But no, De Gea is so far back for some unknown reason, from wide open play he rarly leaves his area. For Utd, who want to play a higher line, it just leaves them open to a ball over the top. The strikers know, De Gea aint coming out, won’t make himself big and they can just pick their spot. Utd could have a corner and we can all guess where De Gea will be.
I’m not saying it is all on De Gea that the defence is a mess, but can we please show some level of realism regarding him. He is just like a lot of the Utd squad. Over hyped, over paid, over stayed. Does anyone think that he would still be there if Fergie didn’t retire? If LVG or Jose were not sacked? Ole treated the better keeper at the club like trash in Romero.
Unfortunatly we are now living in a time at Utd that no matter how poor you are, no matter what mistakes you make, no matter if your performance for a supposed elite club is bottom half championship level, no matter if you do try your best but you are simply not good enough, you are safe in the knowledge that your manager isn’t going to drop you. All it takes is one little bit of something for a few seconds in 1 game and all the hapless mistakes will be forgotten and life will continue. With Ole saying something like ‘he is a lovely guy who comes to training and works hard I am happy for him’
Honestly, Pogba could come back after his suspension and have a game where he stinks up the place but assists in the last minute. he’ll be called a hero and people will forget that he gave away numerous chances to the opposition for 89 minutes. Maguire could win 2 headers, 1 tackle and they’ll all say he is back to his rock steady self. More like a rock. Shaw and AWB could make it over the half way line and pass to a red shirt and they’ll call them wonder wing backs. They might even do their job as a defender for a few minutes too
Fred might make a tackle, not lose it in the process or foul, pass to fernandes and they’ll call him a great defensive midfielder. Fernandes might get more than 1 pass right during a game and the other 300 times he gave it away and lead to us being countered will be forgotten.
Ole might start VDB, Utd win and he’ll be called a tactical genius, just as he was after the Spurs game.
Our squad is a mess, Ole has his favourites who he is picking becuase at one time, they played well for 30 minutes and he thinks they are world beaters. Nothing will change, Ole will be there against Watford, barring injuries, I think we can all name the starting lineup. De Gea will be there and I guarantee, in the next 3 games, he’ll chuck another in.
The chasm of complacency plus the coaching conundrum
What is the black magic by which you can take a team that comes in second in the league, add to it a world class defender, a great goal-scorer, and one of the most promising young talents, and somehow create utter mayhem and a free fall in form? The fact that Man United currently look inept is not in question. But at the end of last season, and even at the start of this one, they were reasonably ept. What happened?
It’s tempting to point to Ronaldo’s arrival as the point of discord, when the shape and style of United was decimated by the one who would not press. But as has been pointed out by any number of people, United did perfectly well without pressing, previously. This is not the difference some think it is. There is potentially a real Ronaldo effect, which is that he likes to play high up the pitch, and Solskjaer’s most effective game plan against top teams was to sit deep and counter at pace. Ronaldo’s perfectly capable of a proper sprint – remember his goal against Germany in the Euros? But his game is not about making those sprints through the game, in the way that say Rashford’s is. But even that doesn’t explain the defensive shambles or overall performances.
I think that United are suffering from 3 specific challenges. The first, which is the most dramatic, is a collective mind-shift. This team came second, they added Ronaldo, Varane, and Sancho. And it seems like they all fell into a chasm of complacency. The kind where you think you’ve won games even before you’ve stepped on the pitch. And turning up is good enough. And this is very hard to switch back from, if you’re not putting in the absolute effort required on the training ground.
The second was called out by Carragher after the Liverpool game. You can do with a manager who’s learning and growing on the job. But that can’t be true of the entire coaching team. Even Sir Alex’s greatest teams (and years) coincided with tactically strong coaches – Brian Kidd, Steve McLaren and Carlos Queiroz. Phelan Wasn’t at the same level, as is evident from United’s last few seasons under Fergie. At the very least, the United board should be giving Solskjaer the ultimatum to change his coaching team or face the sack. Almost every player at United – even Fred and Wan Bissaka – are much better than the current coaching is making them out to be. There’s no point trying to judge players until they have a clear brief.
Which brings me to Solskjaer. I love the guy and have defended him at all times. But it’s become apparent that he’s not really learning at the speed he needs to, to catch up with the top managers around. He tends to solve problems by putting in the right personnel – Bruno Fernandes, Harry McGuire, etc. But he hasn’t evolved the individuals or the team tactically or systemically, and is unable to rotate his squad while he’s under pressure. And clearly he doesn’t scare Pogba enough. So yes, there’s a huge coaching gap here that needs fixing. Conte would have been absolutely the wrong choice, and its presumptuous to talk about other managers. But you’d think there are plenty of good managers there who would jump at the idea of managing this squad.
PS: Kudos to David Moyes, the league’s most under-rated manager. Since August, they’ve had victories against Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Leicester, Spurs, Villa, and Everton. Hats off!
Ved Sen, MUFC
Broadly I agree with Badwolf’s assessment of the issues in the United squad.
There is another layer to it though which is the astronomical sums of money that United pay some of those players.
Look at De Gea. You can argue his relative merits all you want and he may be a split call on sporting merit, but he costs the club £19.5m a year – apparently more than double the second best paid keeper in the league. United gave him that contract because they were terrified of him leaving on a free and his form has been, kindly, variable ever since. Now he has his qualities, and it’s not his fault United agreed to pay him so much but that is a preposterous amount of money forbthe quality United get in return. Liverpool fund the Salaries of Alisson and Van Dijk for about the same money, for context. It was such a massive amount of money that there is no possible way it wouldn’t come back to hurt them financially – no one was ever going to buy him on those wages.
The same is going to be true of Pogba – who I have a nasty feeling is going to sign a new deal (during a six week purple patch later this season after Solsjær gets binned) for an even bigger number, plus a charitable donation to Mino…
That is true over and over at United. Look at Sanchez, look at Jones – players being paid comical large amounts for what they give/gave in return. Badwolf suggests about half the squad need to go… I agree but who’d take them?
That’s the true frustration, it isn’t that the board won’t invest (that was true to at times during the Fergie years) – its the opposite. They throw comical amounts of money at the wall in the hope something sticks – it is a laziness that permeates the club…
West Ham v Liverpool, United thoughts
I watched both United v City and West Ham v Liverpool this weekend. Disappointing result for Liverpool, especially with Chelsea having dropped points but what a performance from West Ham. While Liverpool were a little off their game, the game resembled a top of the table clash, far more than Liverpool versus United did, or United and City on Saturday. That is, West Ham look like a top side.
It was interesting listening to Moyes talk before the game. He spoke about wanting to show Liverpool how West Ham had improved since their last meeting and wanting to put up more of a challenge. It immediately put me in mind of his Everton days. Underdog seems like the wrong word given how good they’ve been this season but certainly Moyes seems to thrive when tasked with challenging “bigger” sides. It’s hard not to feel happy for him after the United debacle.
Liverpool as I said looked off the pace. Give it to Salah seemed to be the default move. I thought bringing on Thiago made sense to bring some order to the chaos in midfield but even he misplaced his first few passes. In general they were sloppy but then again West Ham were so well drilled and organised and put relentless pressure on Liverpool. It was incredibly impressive.
West Ham’s performance, for me, really shone a light on how bad Man United are at the moment in terms of work rate and tactics. Their implosion on Saturday at the first sign of adversity seemed almost inevitable. It’s become almost a bug bear for me, the persistence with Solskjaer. It makes no sense whatsoever. Bringing on Van Der Beek for ten minutes after ignoring him all season. Why? Not playing your expensive new winger to put a bit of pressure on the opposition’s most in form player in Cancelo. Great idea. Fred. Sheesh. While non United fans, me included, chuckle at the chaos at Old Trafford, I also find it baffling and I would genuinely love to know why Ole is still in the job. If talk of Ferguson “protecting” him is true then it’s even more farcical. Gundogan describing the game as enjoyable says it all.
Interesting season so far, to say the least.
A note of caution to fellow Gooners
Its all good and dandy now that we are fifth, call me a killjoy but i think this is the highest we will ever be for this season. Some fans need to stop day dreaming over a UCL placement. The current overall performance is good, much improved, but lets be honest here, its really nothing spectacular. We did what we can to the limit, in every match in order to win them. We won by just, if you may, in most encounters so far.
Looking back at previous 10 encounters, in each and every match there was this period of “hanging on” that we were completely out of control from the match and the opposition could score at any second and completely change the match. In some of the match they did, like vs Palace and we almost lost. And in some of the match we were VERY lucky that they didnt, like vs Brighton, Leicester, Burnley. And you cant just feel very secure yesterday when Watford attacked although in hindsight they offered absolutely nothing bar that Ramsdale miskick.
Theres only so much shot Ramsdale can save, and so much ball deflected to ESR path for him to score that we can maintain this 5th position. I’m not saying its all doom and gloom after a win, but lets be realistic here, we are really, really far away from top 4 position than the current league position suggests.
Syfq Amr, COYG
To all those…
…who say that F365 is pushing a pro-Arteta agenda and an anti-Solskjaer agenda.
Arsenal now above United, just in case you didn’t notice.
Wik, Pretoria, (No need to comment about my team, take it all in David Moyes, you deserve it), LFC
Watford deserved nothing
Hilarious that Ranieri, Watford fans and players are complaining about sportsmanship after that display. How it took so long for them to get a red I’ll never know, 20 fouls and nowhere near enough cards, diving, rolling around and time wasting from the first minute. Danny Rose telling the uninjured player to stay down was a personal highlight. I agree about the foul by AMN and it should have been ruled out but we banished Stoke from the Premier League years ago, it was sad to see them back. We should have won by 2 or 3 anyway so you can’t say it wasn’t fair result anyway. Onto our reality check vs Liverpool.
Rob A (not sure the “good time to play them” applies here) AFC
Premier League refereeing is diabolical
The decisions by Kevin Friend in Arsenal’s game against Watford was another Premiership refereeing masterclass in inconsistency. I’ve never wanted to believe refs were biased against us but you’d be hard put to find a better example to make a case for that. Sure, I don’t think he deliberately wanted us to lose or whatever, but I think many of them buy into the narrative that we’re a soft touch, and when we get physical, it’s a foul because we don’t play that way. But when other teams do it to us, we are overreacting (sometimes we do of course). Perhaps refs should be put on some demerit points system but that will not happen because they protect their own eh?
Tired (of systematic fouling going unpunished) Gooner
After the Brighton v Newcastle game there’s been a lot of muttering about the rule that only allows for a player to be sent off if a professional foul is committed outside the box when denying a clear goalscoring chance. There would have been howls of conspiracy if it had happened to Liverpool/Man Utd but I digress.
This situation is why penalty tries exist in rugby. Denying a scoring opportunity via foul play should not prevent the score. Even if the rule were changed to allow a penalty in the situation with Sanchez taking out Wilson, it gives the side in the wrong a better chance to save a goal than the chance which was denied.
Now I know people will say rugby is a bad comparison, i’d actually argue the opposite. With goals being so scarce in football/soccer it makes it even more imperative that honest-to-god chances are not denied.
I 100% wouldn’t advocate for penalty goals to be awarded except in cases like the Sanchez one or if a defender handballs on the line ala Steven Taylor, which is also where a penalty gives the team in the wrong a better chance of preventing a goal than the one they denied via a foul. I also acknowledge that if Wilson avoided Sanchez’s boot or stayed on his feet, who is to say he wouldn’t have rolled the ball wide/blasted over? He wouldn’t be the first or the last to inexplicably miss an open goal.
I just think for a very narrow range of circumstances this should be an option for referees to say that a goal would have been scored without the illegal intervention of the opposition, therefore the goal is awarded anyway.
Happy Invincibles Day
‘The invincibles were overrated’
‘They drew 12 games’
‘They only won one trophy that season’
‘Liverpool/ManCity/Chelsea will go unbeaten this season.’
Arsenal fans have been hearing these comments for 17 years now. Yet here we are, 7th November, and only 11 games into the season and it is now officially impossible for anyone in the league to go unbeaten this season. I’ll happily repeat this until the end of time, but the invincibles team are ridiculously underrated by the masses. The starting 11 had at least 6/7 genuine world class players with the rest being rated at least international class. Furthermore, they were the most aesthetically pleasing team to ever play in English football. Teams have gone unbeaten in other European leagues since, but you can’t compare those leagues to the competitiveness of the EPL.
Until next year, Happy Invincibles Day!
While some Premier League managers have been harshly treated, it should be pointed out that promotion-chasing Buxton relieved their manager of his duties for booking a family holiday during the season: it clashed with an FA Cup First Round weekend he clearly didn’t expect the Bucks to reach.
*Crystal Palace went into their game against Wolverhampton Wanderers full of confidence. Patrick Vieira stuck with his 4-3-3 formation, but made a change to his starting lineup, re-jigging his front three to have Christian Benteke flanked by Odsonne Edouard and Wilfried Zaha, with Jordan Ayew dropping to the bench. Facing a three-man defence and wing-backs, this gave a balanced attack between direct running and target man play. A three-man back line counters the role Zaha and Edouard have tended to play this season, a descendant of the old inside forward role, so the game was set to be an even contest.
*It’s fair to say things took a while to warm up. When faced with a home side intent on playing possession football, there is often a tendency that visiting sides will sit back and attempt to weather the storm for the first 20 minutes or so, in the hope that frustration will set in. This is certainly how Palace have played in previous seasons, to mixed results. These days, however, the shoe is on the other foot; the Eagles look to pass the ball around patiently, testing their opponents’ resolve, and games are stalemates for a long time. It’s as though Palace (or their manager) use the first half to see how their opponents play, and then use the second half to try to beat them. It’s not a perfect approach, but so far it is garnering more good results than bad. It’s certainly a world away from the previous regime, where tactical plans were etched in stone and substitutions not something we do.
*There are people out there who will take that previous comment as ingratitude for the efforts of Roy Hodgson and all he did for my little club, that I’m getting ideas above my station for wanting more for my team than to watch them defend with nine across the penalty area for 90 minutes every week and decide that trying to score isn’t worth the effort. That’s the same logic that tells people Zaha’s comments about how much he enjoys his football now is a “dig” at Hodgson. It really isn’t; the Ivorian does just as much defending this season as he did last year, but the difference is that he is doing that defending 30 yards further up the pitch, and he isn’t doing it on his own – that’s 30 yards less for him to run in on goal and theoretically fewer opponents to kick lumps out of him along the way.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) November 6, 2021
*Wolves were largely disappointing, for a team that had quietly built their way into the top half of the table. They will feel aggrieved about some VAR decisions, and the penalty decision was contentious – it certainly looked like one on first viewing, and I’d always believed that a foul that started outside the area and continued in was a spot kick. While referees shouldn’t be prejudiced by prior events, the previous antics of Wolves players may have clouded the referee’s judgement as to what was (or was not) a foul worthy of a penalty.
*Leicester City took less time to score their equaliser against Leeds United than Aston Villa did, in that game when Marcelo Bielsa’s side let them walk one in.
*On the school run this morning I casually asked a friend if he’d seen any football this weekend. He wasn’t happy that his side lost to “West Ham and the referee”. If even Liverpool aren’t safe from biased refereeing, what hope do the rest of us have? You know, besides not having a goalkeeper throw one in his own net.
*Tottenham Hotspur beat Manchester City on the opening day and were comprehensively beaten by Manchester United last week. United were then belittled by a City side that was completely outplayed by Palace last week, with Palace having also thumped Hotspur earlier in the season. Funny old game, Saint.
Manager transfers crazier than deadline day…
Who remembers the merry-go-round of coaches in the Bundesliga with 8 clubs starting with a new face in the dugout? I reckon with Premier League club Chairmen going full throttle with the boot, we could experience something similar. Nuno to Villa? Bruce to Norwich? Farke … F*#k No!
Here is an even more insane string chain of manager exchanging positions,
Brendan Rodgers – Man United
Roberto Martinez – Leicester City
Eddie Howe – Belgium
Nuno Espirito Santo – Newcastle
Ralph Hasenhuttl – Aston Villa
Steven Gerrard – Southampton
Steve Clarke – Rangers
Steve Bruce/ Big Sam – Scotland
Frank Lampard – Norwich City
Neil Warnock – Derby County
Daniel Farke – ???
Ole – ??
Posab ( You heard it here first) Botswana
PS: Rooney get a short term playing contract from Lampard and …okay I need to stop now.