Nketiah’s red, Chelsea’s defence, Man Utd’s mentality and…

Date published: Wednesday 8th July 2020 9:27

Send your thoughts on Man Utd and whatever else fancies your tickle to theeditor@football365.com

 

Steady, Eddie
I enjoyed that game last night and as a Utd fan I’m happy that Leicester dropped points. The reason I’m writing in is to say that I think both the Vardy decision and the Nketiah decision are correct and try to explain why.

With the Vardy one, he isn’t making a challenge, he’s falling/rolling over and so it is just pure bad luck that Mustafi is where he is. Therefore there was no way of stopping it happening.

With Nketiah’s one, although he didn’t mean to hurt him, in my opinion, he has made a mistimed challenge that has caused a risk of injury. He could potentially of pulled out when he saw he wasn’t going to get the ball, which means he had a way of stopping it.

I might be wrong on my interpretation of the rules and I’m happy to be corrected, but that’s how I see it.
Bernard (it’s going to be a 4/5th place playoff on the last day isn’t it) MUFC

 

I have just seen the red card for Nketiah of Arsenal. Now I’m not really interested in whether or not it should have been a red card. What I can’t comprehend though, is that when the referee goes to the tunnel to view the incident, he gets to see a slow motion replay. He should get to see the incident in real-time first. I just can’t believe that the people in charge of the system don’t understand that slow motion distorts reality.

And now, as I’m typing this, the VAR is doing its best to disallow Vardy’s goal. What a farce.
G Thomas, Breda

 

Chelsea’s defence
What a tackle from Kurt Zouma
to stop a Crystal Palace equaliser, honestly incredibly timed and I celebrated that tackle like a cup final winning goal.

Overall though that game was so stressful, after going two nil up we were in total control, then Wilfried Zaha who at first I thought had just scored an absolute certain for Goal of the Month for the month of July, till I then saw the strike from another angle, it is an incredible strike yes, but Kepa has to get a hand onto that, maybe I come across a bit harsh but he really should get a hand onto that, after that goal we are on the back foot and Palace are going in at Halftime in a very buoyant mood and Chelsea are just glad the whistle has blown, what a turn around in such a short space of time.

Talking about a short space of time, 2 minutes between our third goal and Palace scoring their second, dreadful defending from our defence, we may have Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and arguably the potential for one of the best attacking team combinations in the Premier League for next season but we are not going to be challenging for any silverware, let alone a Premier League title without some serious investment in that back line, you do not see teams like Manchester City, Liverpool, Juventus, Bayern and many more big hitters concede goals like that, should be the top priority come the transfer window this Summer.

Finally that mad 5 minutes of stoppage time, my heart was racing, my blood pressure probably at a potentially high level for someone of my age, the header from Scott Dann hitting the post and then brushing past the stunned Max Meyer could be the difference between Chelsea finishing inside the Top Four or outside of it.
Mikey, CFC (That away kit will grow on me I am sure)

 

The Palace view
Dear Football365,

Haven’t seen any media coverage but I’m assuming everyone’s going with Chelsea exploiting good fortune and clinging on for dear life to claim all three points?

*Unless you support Man Utd or the Arsenal, most fans are generally ok with losing individual games providing the team give it their all trying to win. That’s why Crystal Palace fans have been frustrated for the past couple of weeks, but why most of us don’t mind too much about last night.

*Chelsea’s first goal had an element of fortune about it. Gary Cahill, an incredibly consistent performer for Chelsea over many years and for Palace this season, crumpled in a heap with a muscle injury that ended his participation, allowing Willian to run free and put the ball on a plate for Olivier Giroud. That the Eagles replaced Cahill with Mamadou Sakho had “double whammy” written all over it after the Frenchman’s mixed showing against Leicester City, but he put in a solid performance. Suggestions that this was Roy Hodgson’s earliest substitution of the season by 80 minutes remain unverified.

*A running joke on Guardian Football Weekly this season is that Chelsea’s defensive frailties are down to Frank Lampard never once looking behind him during his playing career to see what his teammates were up to. Here, Palace’s first goal made the most of an entirely vacant central midfield. No one closed Wilfried Zaha down, presumably expecting him to take someone on, but he unleashed a shot from 30 yards, using the “if I shoot straight at the keeper it’ll go through him” trick that presumably works so well in training against Wayne Hennessey.

The goal was a huge confidence boost to the home side, who finished the first half on the front foot and there was, if not optimism, then definitely a vague hope of getting something out of the game.

*The Pensioners re-established their two-goal cushion midway through the second half, a very good finish from Tammy Abraham after a tremendous pass from Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Palace fans loved seeing Loftus-Cheek in red and blue, while realising he was destined for greater things. Hopefully he can stay healthy and play a pivotal role in Frank Lampard’s Chelsea’s first team in future.

*Almost immediately, the Eagles hit back. On the day that F365 published it’s Top Ten Strikers Who Didn’t Score Many Goals, it was fitting that Christian Benteke would make a rare appearance on the scoresheet. The hard work was done by another man facing his former team, Patrick van Aanholt, whose intelligent run burst through the Chelsea backline and enabled him to tee up his frontman for a Manchester City style goal. According to Understat, this goal had an xG of 0.81, while Zaha’s was just 0.01. Something for everyone then.

*From this point, one chance for Mason Mount aside, Chelsea looked rattled. They gave up several chances and relied on a combination of fortune and last-ditch defending, neither of which are strong criticisms, just an observation that the very best teams manage their situations to avoid the need for them. Scott Dann’s header, bouncing out from the inside of the post, was unlucky, even if there are people who love to say “actually, hitting the woodwork isn’t bad luck, it’s poor accuracy”. That’s technically correct response rather than an empathetic one – lads, if we want someone to  prioritise the pedantic over the emotional we’ll ask the VAR, they’re much better at it than you. Later on, Kurt Zouma produced a superb tackle to deny Benteke, and Max Meyer, believed to be on his way out of Selhurst Park, also went close, but it wasn’t to be.

*On paper, this was a game Palace had no right to get anything from, and yet produced a performance far better than they have in any of their last three games, one of which they would have really fancied and at least one other they had a sporting chance in. Next up for the Eagles is a trip to Villa Park, where you’d imagine that if they play to the same level as they did on Tuesday, they would have a strong chance of winning.
Ed Quoththeraven

 

All about attitude
A few seasons ago, I remember having a chat with my Liverpool supporting mate. Man Utd had just finished second in the league under Jose, whereas Liverpool finished fourth and hilariously lost the Champions League final. But it was a weird conversation, because quite clearly, out of the two us, he was happier.

Now I understood where my pessimism was coming from. There was almost no connection between the way the club was run, the football on the pitch, and what fans believed we, as Man Utd, should be. Liverpool on the other hand, were being driven down the autobahn in their newly built German machine and they were just picking up speed. The mood was buoyant, like the beginning of an amazing adventure, and we all know what happened after that.

Two years later, Man Utd look a different club. Bruno has transformed us on the pitch, but it’s Ole and his team that have really changed the mood around Old Trafford. The players look happy, the football being played is the best I’ve seen from us in the last decade, and the club has been doing some wonderful work in the community in these difficult times. It feels like the soul of the club has returned, and watching Man Utd is a joy again rather than a chore.

Now obviously this could change if we don’t get a top 4 finish or win a cup, but like my Liverpool supporting mate a couple of seasons ago, every single one of us is looking forward to next season, with the belief that we’re headed back to fighting for the trophies that really matter, while playing the way Man Utd should.

I keep referencing Liverpool for two reasons. For starters, they are currently the barometers of success, in terms of playing style, trophies, and the nature of Klopp’s transformation of the club, all of which we can relate to. The second reason is even more important – Mentality.

Once you’ve created a mood, you need to build on that by believing you can beat anyone, and theN doing it on the pitch. Mentality monsters they’ve called Liverpool, and they’re right. The attitude comes from the top down. Put it this way, if Arsenal, Spurs, or even City had lost the UCL final the way Liverpool did against Madrid, it’s difficult to imagine them coming back the next year, winning it, and getting 97 points in the league. I’ve always said Klopp is the closest thing to Fergie and he was the only manager that just kept rebuilding, and overcoming setbacks time after time.

This is what stands in the way of Man Utd before they can achieve greatness. However, there are positive signs. Whereas Ole may not be as animated as Klopp, and Man Utd may not have the same level of intensity, there is a steeliness behind those Nordic grey eyes. Ole knows, and reiterates all the time that we are not where we should be. This is a far cry from “2nd is my biggest achievement” and “finishing 6th and winning Europa is a successful season.” You get the feeling that even if we end this year in the best possible way, with top 4 and one or two trophies, Ole will not be satisfied. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this, because it is the only way we will conquer the mob down the road.

The question is, will the players realise this and step up to the plate? I can’t tell you what the future holds, but it feels good to be able to look ahead without fear and with optimism. We’ve come a long long way in two years. Now let’s see how far we can go.
​IP 

 

Firmi-yes
Perhaps a little late to the party on Roberto Firmino’s contribution or otherwise to Liverpool’s front three, but I remember reading a while back that the most important impact he has is that he’s the trigger for the counter-press.

Even with players as fit and conditioned as this current team, you can’t press constantly for 90 minutes. Instead, Liverpool press in phases, particularly going at it like the clappers during weak points in the opposition’s play. If the opposing centre backs are comfortably knocking about triangles with a midfielder, they’re not going anywhere and they’re not looking in danger of making a mistake, they get left alone. Then when someone takes a heavy touch, or the passing options start drying up, Firmino is the one who tends to see this developing and starts the press. Everyone else looks to him making that first move and then piles on.

So, not a prolific goalscorer indeed, and doesn’t get huge numbers of assists, but he’s the keystone to the entire defensive and counter attacking strategy. So not much then. Ahem.

Would’ve liked to see Timo Werner give it a go, sure, but would likely need that typical Klopp treatment of being on the fringes of the team for a couple of months, which understandably I doubt he would have been up for. The only other striker I’ve seen remotely approximate that role is Jamie Vardy, but even he’s a bit less discerning in when he goes chasing after things.
Pierre, gegenmailing, Bristol

 

The two stages of Joseball
Immediately after the game
: Apathetic, redundant fury at the type of football. “Gosh that was painful”, or “Anti-football is antithetic to our clubs DNA”, or simply “Jose Out”.

The morning after: Pragmatic appreciation of the pragmatism, and realisation that in the big picture the ugly HOW doesn’t matter as much as the 3 points. “Sometimes you need to grind out a few wins (and clean sheets) to get back on track” and “Give him a full season, and let’s see”.

Intrigue devoid of excitement… Spurs’ new normal?
OC Firenze (good to see Hugo finally giving someone a bollocking… better late than never)

 

Look I’m not saying Jose isn’t past it he clearly deserves censure ,but it must be said they’re recent acquisitions have been atrocious ,

Lloris hasn’t needed replacement since 2012 , The belgian central defense can’t move anymore and attempts to just go back to using the latest hot thing at Ajax ( D Sanchez at the time ), or any number of replacements, have been so dier they have literally had to resort to Eric.

The last useful fullback was Tierney  and he’s gone, Rose is on  a long farewell tour,he can’t be bothered no matter were he is, Davies is offensively limited, Aurier is just offensive and limited. How they must wish for the days they could buy 2   Kyles from Norwich decide one was rubbish and pawn him off to Swansea.

In Midfield they have just about replaced at least one of Ericksen and Dembele with Lo Celso otherwise the grand plan i s still if push comes to shove we’ve got Kane and Son

And all these shambles are supposed to be led by Jose ( Mr Smiling personality)

Good Luck
Roode, MUFC

 

Here’s my bright idea
It might be foolish to suggest a half-baked idea that you haven’t given a lot of thought to on a public forum, but I’ll go for it anyway.

There are understandably huge concerns around the sustainability of the football pyramid in the wake of Covid-19 and how lower league sides in particular will be able to function without match day revenues for the foreseeable future. At the same time, questions are being asked about youth football and when academies will be able to function again. Whilst the horrifying spectre of B teams begins to stalk these types of conversations, could the loan system not be revamped as a one off?

I would propose that a lower league side could engage in an unlimited number of loans from a single club for any players under the age of 23. The Premier League side would have to pay their wages in full and they wouldn’t be allowed to set a loan fee nor stipulate how many games they had to play. Neither could they recall players over the course of the season. Lower league sides could replenish thin squads at no extra cost and PL sides would see this as an opportunity for their players to get valuable experience playing together in games that matter with experienced professionals. The U23 league would be cancelled for a season in order to encourage clubs to engage in the partnership and to stop them from stockpiling young footballers.

In order to entice an elite club to enter into such a partnership the lower league side would have to convince them that they could be trusted to look after the players and that they would play a certain way in order to safeguard their footballing development. This would lead to sides becoming more technical throughout the pyramid. There would be the added bonus that it would increase a club’s exposure in lean times. Swansea’s social media admin must notice a significant boost in ‘eye balls’ when they tweet out a clip of Rhian Brewster scoring and this can’t escape the notice of sponsors either.

If you wanted to develop some hype you could call it the strategic player exchange partnership and you could announce the club partnerships live on Sky. Lots of gifted young players gracing actual football pitches in games that matter whilst allowing clubs to reduce their outgoings at a time when revenues are through the floor. It would only be in place for next season and I can see it would tempt clubs to potentially release good pros because they are too expensive, but unfortunately that’s surely going to happen anyway. I’d also stipulate that you couldn’t loan any players to teams in the same division.

Tell me all the ways this is a bad idea.
Mike Pearson

 

Pierre pressure
Similar to Johnny Nic’s article on unconscious bias in commentating, you can also add print media’s use of the terms ‘Lazy’, ‘Unfocused’, and ‘Poor attitude’ against certain players (Ozil included) as a specific method of criticism that tends not to be used against white players anywhere near as much, if at all.

These pejorative terms always rear their head when a narrative is required, more so when placed in the context of a player falling out of favour or is due a new contract, whereby the customary “uncertain future” is also used (see Pogba and Lukaku for further evidence). May I also add this nonsense around Anthony Martial’s ‘need to smile more, because he always looks so disinterested’? When was the last time you heard that notion used in tandem with a white player?

Maybe it’s something that only occurs at big clubs, but I haven’t seen anything regarding Ryan Fraser’s situation at Bournemouth, or James Maddison’s scant return this season for a player whose billing in August was as a future England star and possible Euro 2020 squad pick.

Maybe it only stands out to me because I’m looking for it, or I don’t consume enough football-related content to see that everyone, regardless of colour is being treated the same as Aubameyang. But this feels particularly targeted given his performances for the club since the restart and in light of recent world events it feels particularly jarring.
James F, BCFC KRO

 

Big old Tick
I just fell in love with Dave Tickner.

That is really funny.
Mark.

 

The aggregate Premier League table
For a while, I’ve wondered what if points in the league were based on the aggregate scores of the result over two-legged ties. You wouldn’t play each team back-to-back (there would be no change to the fixture list) you would still play the second leg when it comes up in the calendar. Only after both legs would you be award the W/L/D and the points based on the score over the two games.

It could throw up some interesting situations:

For a start, the season would be far from over: Liverpool would only be six points clear at the top of the table with 5 second-leg matches left (every team in the top 9 up would still be mathematically in with a chance of winning the league). After the (1st Leg) leads, the second-legs against: Arsenal (A), Brighton (A), Burnley (H), Chelsea (H), and Newcastle (A); Arsenal & Chelsea would only need a goal to overcome a 2-1 deficit, and the others would have to score at least two and Liverpool would only get a single point or none at all -surely keeping the title race going until the last game or two of the season.

Similarly, in regards to relegation all the teams from 9th down would be at risk of going down based on 2-legs. Also, surely every team would still have a chance of survival up to the last games of the season – even Norwich!

Leicester’s 9-0 first-leg lead over Southampton would have meant Leicester could have rested some players in the return leg, and their 2-1 loss home barely put a dent in their aggregate score.

Liverpool could have put those draws to Man Utd and Everton to bed as they would’ve been aggregate wins, although they would still have lost to Man City and Watford.

Tottenham would be simultaneously championship chasing and relegation threated at the same time, with only 5 games to go!

Of course one huge drawback is there wouldn’t be any points on the table for the first half of the season, as we await the second-legs.

Anyway here’s the table so far based on completed 2-legs (made before the Wednesday games) Norwich are only goal difference away from escaping the drop, and Man Utd would be up to 2nd (on second thoughts forget I brought this whole thing up):

Pos

Team

Pld

W

D

L

F

A

GD

Pts

Change

1

Liverpool

14

12

0

2

59

21

38

36

2

Man Utd

14

9

3

2

51

26

25

30

+4

3

Chelsea

15

9

3

3

52

38

14

30

4

Man City

14

9

2

3

62

28

34

29

-2

5

Leicester

15

8

4

3

57

28

29

28

-1

6

Arsenal

15

9

1

5

42

33

9

28

+1

7

Sheffield United

14

9

1

4

28

27

1

28

+2

8

Wolves

14

7

5

2

38

25

13

26

-2

9

Tottenham

14

6

3

5

42

37

5

21

-1

10

Crystal Palace

15

6

2

7

26

37

-11

20

+4

11

Brighton

14

4

4

6

33

35

-2

16

+4

12

Everton

14

4

4

6

34

38

-4

16

-1

13

Newcastle

14

4

3

7

30

39

-9

15

-1

14

Burnley

14

4

3

7

30

41

-11

15

-4

15

Watford

15

4

2

9

27

39

-12

14

+2

16

Southampton

14

4

2

8

36

49

-13

14

-3

17

Aston Villa

14

4

0

10

30

56

-26

12

+1

18

Norwich

15

4

0

11

21

54

-33

12

+2

19

West Ham

14

3

1

10

33

54

-21

10

-3

20

Bournemouth

14

2

1

11

22

48

-26

7

-1

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