Why is Fernandes not getting the same ‘histrionic hatred’ as Pogba?

Date published: Friday 24th July 2020 2:27

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Bruno Fernandes Paul Pogba Man Utd

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It’s almost as if he’s tired
Oh, it’s Pogba bashing time again is it?

Lets do this.

Since the restart United have played 10 games, Pogba has appeared in all of them.

19/06, Spurs. Pogba plays half an hour, still manages 7.27 Whoscored match rating (these are 100% data driven metrics with no human interpretation. Ratings out of 10 where 6 is about average and 7 indicates a good performance)

24/06, Sheffield United. Pogba plays 80 minutes, 8.27 rating.

27/06, FAC, Norwich. Pogba plays 12 minutes. No ratings given in the FA Cup

30/06, Brighton. Pogba plays 64 minutes, 7.54 rating, assist.

04/07, Bournemouth. Pogba plays 90 minutes, 7.81 rating.

09/07, Aston Villa. Pogba plays 90 minutes, 8.49 rating, scores, MOTM.

13/07, Southampton. Pogba plays 63 minutes, 5.92 rating

16/07, Crystal Palace.  Pogba plays 90 minutes, 6.86 rating

19/07, FAC, Chelsea. Pogba plays 35 minutes. No ratings given in the FA Cup

22/07, West Ham. Pogna plays 90 minutes, 6.24 rating.

So for the first 5 games Pogba was excellent, then he got tired and is now less good.

Exactly the same as Fernandes.

For some reason however, Fernandes isn’t getting the same histrionic hatred for only being solid rather than excellent. What possible reason might there be to treat these two similarly performing players quite so differently.

Pogba is Uniteds 4th best performing player this season, and he’s played about a quarter of it. To quote Sir Alex, “He’s a fucking great player. Youse are fucking idiots.”
Tim Sutton


Possession is not nine tenths of the law
I’m a Spurs fan, and haven’t written in for a long time, but thought I’d write to discuss statistical analysis and how the present incarnation of it actually deducts from the spectacle rather than adding to your understanding of it.

Statistics are and always have been, merely an indicator of what has happened and can help when predicting things that may happen in the future. They do not tell the whole story, because if they did, bookmakers wouldn’t be as wealthy and influential as they are. Statistics can be used to push any agenda that you see fit, but understanding them and being able to use them properly rather than in a lazy anecdotal way like many pundits tend to do, is difficult. Using them poorly is reductive, misleading, and serves very little purpose.

I may aswell tell you now that I’m not the biggest Mourinho fan, and I’m not particularly excited by his preferred style of play, but it is what it is. He has his way of playing which primarily begins with being more risk averse until the defence is less porous, and you hope that he can make you more exciting from there.

That being said, the constant flak and criticism Spurs are receiving for having less possession than their opponents, just shows what little understanding pundits seem to have regarding different styles of play and what the stated aims and intentions of that style are, and seem to attach ‘worthiness’ of winning games based on style rather effectiveness. Spurs aren’t trying to dominate games and keep the ball all game. We’re not trying to press high up the pitch anymore. We’re letting teams come onto us, holding defensive positions and hitting teams on the break. Judging us on possession stats is as pointless as launching an expedition to the horizon. I don’t like it, but it is what it is.

Another one, just to prove I’m not punching down on lazy ‘lad’ analysts all the time, is xG. This statistic is driven by shots on goal and calculates the quality of the chance based on distance from or angle from goal, whether a shot was taken with foot or head, or the type of assist. This is all good, but it doesn’t take into account the quality of the players involved. A good example of this was from the recent Tottenham v Leicester game. We won 3-0 but xG was 0.68 v 2.41 or something like that. The thing is, we have Harry Kane who, contrary to popular belief, scores some ridiculously stupid goals that most players wouldn’t even bother trying. His goals v Leicester were fantastic, but not really surprising for anyone who watches him week in week out. He’s scored carbon copies time and time again. We also have Hugo Lloris, who is one of the best instinctive shot stoppers on the planet. Players like Kane can score from anywhere and can make chances themselves. Vardy is a great striker in his own right, but tends to thrive on service and space to roam. When you don’t allow it, there isn’t much point in him.

I guess what is often forgotten is that statistics are like a visual aid that should be used to help explain your opinion rather than being the sole basis of it. Perhaps it’s the saturation of football coverage now where a single pundit is expected to have a view on 10 Premier League games in a single day for MOTD or Goals on Sunday, and can’t possibly ave seen all of them.

Or perhaps Charlie Nicholas and Paul Merson are annoyed that Arsenal can’t win games either by shutting up shop or playing expansive football?  I guess I’m pining for analytical utopia that cannot and will never be realised, doing away with lad banter analysis and also shunning flowery erudite writers like Jonathan Liew and Henry Winter.

I think I’ll settle for a little less ignorance.
RossH (THFC)


Man Utd fans would rather have Taibi than Kepa…
Oh Simon AFC, you do make me chuckle, now I know what you meant when you said about our squad and you’re right to some degree and it is a fact that “Chelsea have a £70m goalkeeper in Kepa”, yes, we have a goalkeeper we spent £70m on, but don’t for a second assume he is even worth half of that amount, I asked on my podcast this week the following question and I am dead curious if anyone has an answer and it was “Is there a current team in the Premier League who would have Kepa as their number one goalkeeper over their current number one?”

For me, no, even the bottom sides, would any of them take Kepa over; Tim Krul?, Ramsdale?, Heaton?, Foster?, quite worrying really, I even think United fans would rather have Taibi back between the sticks than choose Kepa.
Mikey, CFC


Shame on the FWA
Let me start off by saying, I have nothing against Jordan Henderson. I am happy for him, and glad he got to live his dream on the biggest stage of them all. He seems like an overall nice guy with love and passion for his club. Seems like a good captain and leader in the dressing room from what i heard.

BUT….PLAYER OF THE YEAR??? You have got to be shitting me. There are 5 players WITHIN the liverpool team itself that deserve this award more. Salah, Alisson, VVD, Trent, Mane. I mean Henderson, Gini & Fabinho are the equivalent of the smallest & cheapest cogs of a big luxurious machine. Their only job is to pass the ball to more talented players like Trent behind or Salah ahead. They add nothing else to the game, and they dont need to. Liverpool have found their rhythm and it works for them. This is not me dissing a title winning midfield, they won it because they are not showy and did the small things right. But to name a Player of the year JUST because he was the captain of the winning team is an absolute joke, and one of the reasons it is difficult to respect or even take writers seriously is that they have no integrity anymore. I mean does anyone really think, over the period of the 19/20 season, Henderson is better than the 300 other Premier League players? Is he better than KDB? or Salah? or VVD? Absolutely not. He is not half the player. He may be a great leader, sure. But surely talent & actual impact in a game has to count for SOMETHING in an individual award like this. You can replace Hendo with XYZ and Liverpool would still win the title 9 out of 10 times. Replace VVD, Mane, Salah or Alisson, no chance liv win this thing. That should count for something..

But anyways, I am sure he is thrilled to win this, and hope he enjoys it. Nothing but respect for Henderson and his team in their moment of victory, its the stupid PWA which is a joke. Shame on them.

PS – If you are gonna come at me, don’t come at me with stats or “he is the captain of the winning team”. Tell me that YOU truly believe that Hendo is a BETTER PLAYER than Salah, Mane, KDB & Virgil because that’s what you are essentially arguing for.
Aman, MUFC


Square peg in square hole transfer
The season of needlessly speculative transfer gossip is now upon us. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. Wesley Sneijder IS heading to Man Utd. Sky Sources agree.

In honour of Big Virg, I’ve made a list of the obvious square peg in square holes transfers – one per club – for Premier league teams. Moves that wouldn’t necessarily require bunker-busting bids or hours of hypnosis from ex-team mates to make happen.

Arsenal: Emi Buendia. Looks like he could raise his game a level with some semi-competent teammates and Arsenal have a low budget and a high creativity problem.

Aston Villa: Assuming they stay up (sorry Watford) it’s the sort of club I think genuinely think Jesse Lingard could succeed at. Seriously. He did alright last time in the second city.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Man City’s Yangel Herrera, who’s impressed for Granada this season and can help both defend and pick a pass. A loan move would also allow City to see whether he’s ready for them.

Burnley: Ryan Fraser. Industrious and crafty, and not just with contract negotiations. Time to move the versatile wee man back up North to make Burnley less binary.

Chelsea: They seem to have most things sorted apart from the defence and goalkeeper. Why not travel to Burnley for an audience with the Pope.

Crystal Palace: Hmmm. Callum Wilson’s not had a great season but would surely be an upgrade.

Everton: Tomas Soucek. Technically decent and hasn’t looked overawed in the Prem. Everton players have great set piece delivery from the likes of Digne and Gylfi, so Soucek should be one of those players, like Poyet or Fellaini that scores the dozen goals from midfield that will see them inching up to the Europa league places.

Leeds: Mitrovic. It would be fun and you know it.

Leicester City: Said Benrahma brings a more reliable attacking threat with shades of Riyad Mahrez.

Liverpool: Dayot Upamecano. Difficult but the last few weeks have shown why I don’t think Joe Gomez is quite up to it and the young Frenchman from RB Leipzig could still be moulded into a world class defender. Would also work for Man City.

Man City: Maxi Gomez. Kane would require a bid and a half. Raul Jimenez is perhaps too old. Guardiola’s wet dream fox-outside-the-box goalscoring selfless striker Benzema is destined to play up front for Madrid. Valencia’s Gomez is young, more physical than Jesus and would combine well with the other attackers.

Man Utd: Ed Woodward is a man who would, to quote the Arctic Monkeys, ‘lose the money, lose the keys but still end up handcuffed to the briefcase’ however surely a deal for the unwanted Samuel Umiti could help bring a bit of pace and experience to that defence.

Newcastle: They won’t get Edinson Cavani on a free, but getting the traction engine feet of Luka Jovic on loan would be a worthy coup.

Sheffield Utd: Assuming Dean Henderson goes, Aaron Ramsdale would be a decent replacement.

Southampton: They’re balanced and seemingly on the up with some injuries and loan players to come back. Sit tight until January?

Tottenham: Alex Telles could fit in to the left-back role and improve service to the attacking players. Delivery hasn’t been great since Eriksen and Trippier left.

West Brom: A squad of Championship-level mulch that could either Norwich or swim. Last seen doing very little at Valencia, Michy Batshuayi could be the man to get on the end of enough of Perreira’s assists.

West Ham: I mean, you wonder who’s actually going to go there willingly.

Wolves: An annoyingly well-balanced team. Podence looks to have reduced the reliance on Traore. I’m fascinated by the idea of getting John Stones in to resurrect his career in one of the leagues tidiest teams but I think a bid for Chris Smalling might work out. Or get a reserve striker.
Quarantino Asprilla, Chairman of the Bored, ITFC


Why Bruce is ahead of Rodgers and Nuno…
I’m actually surprised I only got one disagreement (either the list is good or there are many who didn’t want to write in) but I wanted to defend Bruce’s placing on the list.

I actually don’t think Newcastle’s team is as good as Palace’s and I was like you (albeit from a neutral standpoint) that I thought Bruce was an underwhelming signing. Yes, Rafa done well with this team but he also has a great CV and proven ability, Bruce is not his calibre. The list was made based on expectations before the season and throughout and I honestly thought Newcastle would be in a relegation fight, and they haven’t been. Yes, City made them look terrible but City do that to teams, and Newcastle have put in some great performances that I seen (Spurs away, United at home, Bournemouth away). He did exceed my expectations, that’s why I put him there. The reason he’s ahead of Rodgers is because Rodgers had 14 points on fifth and let that slip – the equivalent of at least 5 extra matches that have to be wins. If Bruce was 14 clear of relegation and then fell into it, he wouldn’t be fourth. I’ll admit it was tough putting him ahead of Nuno but I done so just on the fact that given the talent they have and how they performed last season, they are only now slightly exceeding expectations. I’m a United fan and I’d probably swap for their midfield in terms of talent, possibly Matt Doherty and their front three are really talented (I probably wouldn’t swap for their front three but I’d love to have them in United’s squad and see them get a lot of game time).

It is just from a neutral perspective and I’d imagine you follow Newcastle news a lot more, but I also stand by the fact that for most of this year, there is very little media about Newcastle – before it was a constant borage of it, and I think it’s testament to him that the team has just been able to get on with things instead of constant questions about owner, manager and players.

Also, the list is actually really tough in parts. Still feels odd how low Guardiola is but there’s reasons.
James, Galway


Not sad to see Lovren go…
So the news has broken that Dejan Lovren’s six year spell at Liverpool is drawing to an end. 185 appearances, 8 goals, and more mistakes than Nicolas Cage’s acting career. In many ways, Lovren epitomises Liverpool players pre-Klopp. Like Moreno, Sakho, and Mignolet, he is fine but not great, prone to panic, and regularly seems to be caught out of position. However, I – and I think my views are shared by many Liverpool fans – found Lovren to be distinctly frustrating. This was mainly due to his penchant for giving media interviews where he inevitably talked up his and Liverpool’s abilities before we got spanked 4-1 by some clowns like Stoke or West Ham. When you couple that with his promotion of anti-vaxer opinions, you get a man who is a general threat to Liverpool’s clean sheets and its public health. I am not sad to see him leave and I wish it had happened sooner.
Oliver, LFC


Come on, Frank…
I thought it was interesting that Frank Lampard spoke about arrogance after the match on Wednesday. I looked at the incident a couple of times and it seemed like Frank was being very aggressive: a lot of no f&@king way and f&@k off and what have you. It seemed like klopp’s light hearted reaction to all this angered Frank even more. Therefore, he waited until his end of the game until he could get the last word in. He shouted something about it being the first one- did he mean first trophy, cos klopp won a big one last year and also apparently it’s quite a big deal to win two bundesligas on the bounce. Maybe he meant Liverpool’s first one.

Anyhow it sounded a bit like Frank didn’t really appreciate the older man’s achievements in the game despite Frank’s relative inexperience- D’ya know what- Frank Sounds a bit… I dunno… arrogant! Yes that’s the word I was looking for. What did Frank expect- that Klopp would respond to his foul mouthed outburst by running onto the pitch and pleading with the ref not to award a free kick? No Klopp didn’t do that. Presented with a poxy bad tempered reaction to an outstanding goal he laughed and told Frank to sit down. Boo hoo Frank. What do you want him to do? Why don’t you manage your own team and maybe give your keeper a video of Trent taking free kicks next time!

Michael, Ireland


Lampard failed to improve…
Will Ford’s article was hilarious. The idea that because some other teams have faltered means that Chelsea should have been expected to make top four is a joke,with the punchline being that there haven’t been improvements.

Firstly, yes other teams have had dips on form and terrible results, as do most teams. Chelsea aren’t exempt from that and were probably more susceptible due to the number of young players and their fragile form. By November Chelsea were supposedly in a position to expect top 4. What seems to be forgotten is how we got there in the first place. Tomori played often, Tammy was scoring regularly, and Mount had his best spell in a blue shirt. The young players carried us to a phenomenal position, but realistically that could not have been expected to be the new norm. The reason we weren’t in anyone’s top four was because of the how little was expected from the young players. Their form dipped, and so did our results. Ole spent 200m and had his form dipped. Spurs had Potch and a team that reached a European final and got fired, replaced by Mourinho, a notorious winner,and they also dropped points. Clearly this is not something unique to Chelsea, and the fact that they are still in control and could finish in the top 4 should not be underestimated.

Yes Eden hazard may not have kept us clean sheets, but he sure as hell would have won us plenty of points. Hazard dragged Sarri’s team to third. Having a world class player in your ranks eases the squad and means you always have a chance in a game. He can produce something out of nothing. During our dips in form we struggled in front of goal, F365 implying that crossing isn’t much of a tactic and lampard failed to coach his team on how to break down a low block defence. How did we do that last year? Simple. Pass the ball to Hazard, let him create space or a chance. Anyone who watched Chelsea last season will understand just how important he was to the teams style of play. Stats don’t do his influence justice. Sure we suffered losses this season because of our defence, but we would have secured far more points with one of the best players in the world.

Continuing with the theme of goals, we had tammy, giroud and batshuayi. At the beginning of the season, those striking options were probably the worst of the top 6. Yes giroud is brilliant at holding up the ball and linking play, but in a young team going through transition, you need a striker to score goals. With France he had world class forwards to link with. Last season, he had hazard to set up. Things are a lot easier when you’ve got class players on the field. We’ve been criticised for stale possession and a lack of penetration. A forward who can break the deadlock can open up a game and change the entire direction of that game. It’s obvious that Chelsea thrive of an open game, and having a player who can get you the goal to open the game is crucial. It settles nerves, gives you control and freedom to play your game.

I’m sure coaching is important, but when you have arguably the best left back in Premier league history in Ashley Cole, a Premier league legends like John and Petr Cech, I think the clean sheets will also come somewhat naturally. There also can’t be much to do when your keeper let’s in howlers and your centre backs fall asleep. Yes our defense needs shaking up, but there’s no point in buying for the sake of it. It’s far better to wait until a target is identified and signed. Yes we have far fewer clean sheets than last season, but the football is far more entertaining. For a young team developing a young manager rebuilding the squad, its something.

Perhaps Lampard and Cech know how weak our defence is, but are signing these attacking players were already targets, and they’re more available at a lower price than normal. I could definitely see Leverkusen asking over 100m if Havertz has another brilliant season. Getting him now might have been prioritised because of the deal available. They understood the importance of a strong spine, so filling in two slots with young, accomplished players with huge potential is a brilliant idea. We were never going to sign a new defence or spine in one window,so we might as well get the highest quality target that are available. Next season may be more heart racing than this, but it will give us a look into how effective this future attack work together, and move onto a new keeper and centre back. Both Liverpool and City had to sign new keepers, but after making some other signings. I don’t see why Chelsea would be any different, especially with Petr Cech so closely involved. He’ll probably have a good eye when evaluating a goalkeepers abilities.

Lampard has beaten some of the best managers in the league this season, and blow for blow with the English and European champions on Wednesday, as we have done on our last meetings. Poor defending cost us, again, but that’s still a noteworthy achievement. Lamps has made some crucial substitutions since the break, changing the games regularly. I think he’s also getting a better idea of his players. The return of kante to his holding role shows that Frank may have found a way to incorporate him into the team and play to his strengths. In a sense, Chelsea have missed two of the best players in the league in Hazard and Kante, most teams wouldn’t still be in contention for the champions league.

Pulisic. What a player. What a bloody player.

My point is that Frank has improved Chelsea. I fear we’ve taken his over achieving to the extent that we’re beating him with his own handicaps because he made them not seem so bad. Give him some time to build his squad.
Tashen (South Africa) (Loved him showing some fire at Liverpool, my f*****g manager!!!)


In response to Alan’s e-mail, I’m not sure if this falls within the category of “footballism”, but there is a particular situation involving commentators which annoys the hell out of me.

After a penalty is scored, 9 times out of 10 the commentator will say “There was never any doubt about that”. It may have happened before, but I can’t remember an instance where the commentator actually said that there wasn’t such doubt BEFORE the penalty was taken; that statement is always made after the fact.

Trivial, but annoying nonetheless.
Jasvinder Singh (Selangor, Malaysia)

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