Dele Alli will never hit Spurs breakthrough heights again…

Joe Williams
Dele Alli Tottenham

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Kneejerk reactions…
I see your knee-jerk reaction that Jose won’t last the season at Spurs, and I’ll raise you another: Dele Alli won’t ever hit the heights of his breakthrough seasons.

This knee-jerk is based almost entirely on the moment in All or Nothing where Jose calls him lazy in training and Dele just laughs.

I’m sure by now we’ve all seen The Last Dance and witnessed MJ’s desire to be the best at everything. Not just basketball, but golf and even that coin tossing game he played with the security team.

Recently I saw a video on Instagram of Cristiano Ronaldo doing press-ups as part of a warm up. His team mates are all doing regular press-ups, but Ronaldo is doing clapping press-ups.

Even warming up for training Ronaldo has to be the best. Now, there’s a strong chance he’s just doing it for the cameras or just to show off to his team mates over anything else, but the effect is the same. Do everything at full tilt in order to be the best.

He’s telling his team mates that he operates at a certain level and that’s the level they need to be at in order to win.

This unquenchable desire to win everything is why MJ and CR7 will be remembered for generations to come, whereas Dele Alli risks being just another former prodigious talent that will one day be warming the bench at West Ham.
Chris in Cardiff


A late view on Chelsea expectations
Some views on the Chelsea expectations:

1. Popular to contrary belief, the defence was not the only area we needed improvement – having watched the entire of last season, our attack was ok at best – our chance creation and cohesion needed improvement and we needed killer finishes.  Extremely happy that we fixed it in the transfer window.  Lampard now has to get at least 45-50 goals from his forward line that is the minimum standard.

2. Most Chelsea fans don’t agree with me on this but let me still state it.  Our midfield is a problem ever since we sold Nemanja Matic (which to me seemed right at that time tbh).  Ngolo is world-class, but not as a sole CDM.  It is criminal to waste his talent as a lone DM.  I am sorry – I don’t rate Matteo Kovacic.  There, I’ve said it the Nth time.  He’s a talented footballer, but with the array of midfielders we have and how we want to play, he just does not fit.  He’s not a creator, neither a defensive midfielder neither makes the pass that is important in a move resulting in a shot on target.  Being press resistant and the ability to dribble in neutral zones is not good enough.  If he can enhance his end product then great, but I don’t see it happening soon.  Secondly, with Kante (who I don’t want to be sold), we need a midfield player who is positional correct aka Matic at peak.  That midfield would shut down anyone and our game would enhance big time.  If we sign Rice, my view is we must play a midfield of Rice and Kante and allow the attackers to do their business. If we don’t sign Rice, high time we signed (preferably a left-footed) positionally good sitting midfielder.

3. When it comes to Lampard’s coaching idea – he wants us to press and play quick, all good.  He seems to want players to find solutions on the pitch for problems.  Again good provided (a) you get the right players who have the knack to do it and (b) have a good training regime where this is executed well.  With our attack now I don’t think this would be an issue – the attackers can combine and make havoc, but that has to be backed by a midfield screen as mentioned in point 2.

4. That brings me to the defensive transitions – Frank has to find a structure here; we can’t allow holding midfielders to go up and press high (no of times Kante or Jorginho doing it last season annoyed me), or too many cavalier players ahead of play.  Frank and co need to find a plan for how we transition after the ball is lost.  This was last season’s issue and seemingly we still haven’t gotten it right.  The pressing has to be cohesive – can’t have heterogeneity here!  If we lose the ball, we need to gain a structure/shape within seconds.  That is the difference between conceding 30 goals vs 50 goals a season.  FWIW Arteta has done it brilliantly well at Arsenal very quickly.  This is a problem that can be only solved at the coaching level.  Regardless of personnel at disposal, this has to be sorted at the coaching level!

5. The defence issue – Thiago Silva will add good experience (I hope) but Rudiger must never start unless necessary.  Ideally, Zouma and Silva would be my preference (I never understood why Frank brought Rudiger for Tomori straight up when it was the Tomoro-Zouma partnership that won us games last fall).

6. My season’s expectations – halving point deficit to last year’s champions and a CL QF are minimum targets to show improvements.  Anything less is a failure of a season to me.
Aravind, Chelsea Fan


Polyg-lot of nonsense from Keown
Dear Football365,

As someone who has a degree in French, an A-Level in German, a GCSE in Spanish, and a few words of several other languages where I understand more than I can say (including Italian and Japanese), I was interested to learn of Mikel Arteta’s polyglot tendencies. I don’t think I could have switched as quickly and fluently between them as he seemed to do though, but equally, I was not surprised at the section of fans and the media who reacted negatively.

Martin Keown has form for this sort of comment: during the FA Cup tie between the Arsenal and Sutton United, he commented on a hard tackle by former Gunner Craig Eastmond on Mohamed Elneny by saying “you’re the foreign player who has come over here to take my place”, even though Eastmond had left the Arsenal three years before Elneny joined, to add a further layer of nonsense to proceedings. It’s hardly surprising he’d see speaking to players in their native tongues as inferior to shouting simple instructions in English.

Two final points: the first, which applies equally to Keown as it does to spelling, grammar and punctuation pedants on social media, is that communication is about being understood; the most important thing about saying or writing anything is that the intended audience understands what you are trying to tell them. In this specific case it means switching languages, but more generally it means building a rapport with someone and adapting to them. The other point is that my studies coincided with “transferrable skills” becoming a buzzword, but linked to this was something one of my French A-Level teachers said: you can know all the rules of grammar for a foreign language inside out and back to front, but if you can’t express interesting ideas in your native tongue first, you’ll never manage it in a foreign language. I’ll leave people who have either seen Keown on television or read one of his newspaper columns to draw their own conclusions.
Ed Quoththeraven


I was glad to read the article about Bielsa and Arteta and their so called  language issues after the frankly moronic comments out of Martin Keown. How the man is paid to speak about football is a mystery. He really is just bloody stupid. Does he think Arteta speaks Spanish to the English players? And if so, fucking why!?

The constant laughing at Emery about  “good ebening” always got under my skin too. Quick language lesson. In Spanish, the letter V is pronounced u-bay with the “b” softened somewhat, and in many cases, depending on the word, is not far off how B is pronounced (Bay). It’s a common issue for Spanish speakers learning English. The man was making an effort to be polite in a different language and all the cretins of the football media could do was mock him. I wonder how many of Martin Samuel et al speak another language. It genuinely angers me that there are so many of these guys still in employment writing nothing but hatchet pieces or outright lies. As mediawatch has noted ad nauseum, it reeks of old white men shouting at the clouds, desperate to remain relevant. The sooner tabloid media is dead the better.
Alan (annoyed), Córdoba


Sancho v Bale
Loved the piece by Dave Tickner and Ian Watson about whether Utd should sign Bale. Really interesting to read a piece making both arguments like that. Obviously, Dave is completely wrong… that is unless United could somehow sign him for £15M, only pay him £100K per week, and get away with a two year contract. However, I don’t think Real will bite at that.

Anyway, can I make a suggestion? Can hear Winty in the back grumbling, “Absolutely bloody not.” Could you do the same style piece – i.e. Dave arguing against Ian – about whether Sancho should sign for United? It is clearly a more nuanced question than the Bale one. Cheers.
Oliver, London


I despair…
I’m hoping opposition fans can now appreciate United fans hatred of one Ed Woodward, all the bluster about Jadon Sancho was just that bluster, he and the parasitic Glazer’s had no intention of paying the money so instead offered way below asking price and pontificated about value. Now Mr Big balls Ed is apparently in for Gareth part time footballer Bale, I despair at the short termism which Ed will spin as showing massive intent when in reality it’s just another shirt selling marketing ploy. United are one of the riches clubs on the planet yet time and again under Ed’s watch are made to look like rank amateurs, Sancho and Upamecano are ideal players for what Ole is looking to build at United yet time and again that sh*t stain we call a CEO pissed all over Oles chips. Until Woodward and the Glazer’s bugger off we will be a top four club at best and that is the real problem, Champions League qualification is all Ed and the Glazer’s need to keep milking the United cash cow.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


Needlessly hammering Arrizabalaga
To all those bobbing pointed heads in unison at “yet another Arizzabalaga blunder” : these days you can pause and forward therm YT videos!
Let’s do it since we work from home anyhow and all that.

First, when Trousard took his shot about ten players populated the area between him and Kepa, most in motion. (With  the exception of Zouma who was obviously brooding over his pancreas.)

Since we have such high-standards we shall always hold  Kepa responsible for his peccadillos. But not seeing through solids isn’t one of them.

Second, Kante pulled a Houdini  to contort his body away from the shot, as if it were poisonous (the shot, not Kante! Pay attention for God’s sake!)
Next in the firing lane was Brooding Zouma who seemed inclined to deflect the ball, only to give up in the last moment in favor of higher albeit yet-unspecified pursuits.

Trousard’s shot landed three inch away from Kepa’s right post…
Just because in the past Kepa has let some easy ones in it doesn’t make it his fault every time they score against him.

Radu Tomescu Челси Taipei


The assist debate…
Talk in the mailbox today about the idea of the ‘second assist’ and arguing that this should be a thing. Well it definitely already is. It may not appear on Match of the Day but there are literally hundreds of metrics being used to measure and rate players, and the second assist is definitely one of them. I’m about halfway through the book ‘Football Hackers’ (great read if you like that sort of thing) and it covers all these different stats that the ‘boffins’ gather and use to analyse performance. It goes way beyond second assists, there’s a stat that counts any time a player was involved in a move that leads up to a goal, however far back the move started (Thiago rates very highly here).

Assists in general is quite a poor stat, because, as has been discussed, all assists are not equal. Additionally, to get the assist you actually need to be feeding a decent striker. ‘Chances created’ is probably a much more meaningful insight into how good these asists actually are.
Mike, LFC, London


There’s a lot of talk in the mailbox of assists and pre-assists. Did these things actually exist pre-fantasy football? Are we now recording these stats just for the sake of fantasy leagues up and down the country? I personally don’t care; I’ve given up this season already.
Simon “Wilson > Noelinton”, Cheshire