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What Grealish deserves
Jack Grealish does not deserve to play in this Man Utd midfield next season. He deserves to play away at Preston on a Tuesday night in the Championship. Most overrated player in many years
Kit Rickabono, Bulgaria
Having skimmed through recent letters from Spurs fans bemoaning their manager, you have my sympathies. No club deserves what he brings (well perhaps Chelsea do). The sad thing is nothing is going to get better. Prepare yourselves for more misery as he blames players more and more, then it’ll be Levy’s fault, then the weather and the traffic jams and whatever excuse he can pluck out of the air. He is poison and his toxic bilge will just keep seeping throughout the club, producing turgid football and making everyone and everything utterly miserable. Why you guys got rid of Poch I’ll never understand. One relatively bad season after years of fantastic football and he’s out? Well perhaps you do deserve to be Mourinhoed
Nebs (MUFC) Johannesburg
‘Magic’ Poch only managed 11 points in his first eight matches at Spurs, comparing that to a few years later where at his peak Spurs were as unbeatable as the next team in the premier league. Should Spurs be winning against relegation-bound Bournemout? Absolutely. But let that not take away from the fact that it has only been some months since the arrival of Jose. The bigger the change required the more the time required. This team’s change required both an increase in quality AND style, so it is natural to need some time. Now is not the time for us to start cornering Jose, the fall of Spurs has certainly been magnified by the rise of Arsenal, Man U and Wolves. So dont despair just yet, a couple of clean sheets point to an improving defence. Don’t despise just yet, especially with The Gunners around the corner. Don’t despair just yet, this is a man that won the Champions league with Porto FC, after all.
Dear Football 365
No doubt, as we hit the business end of the season you’ll be hearing from so-called Tottenham ‘supporters’ expressing their displeasure with our hard-fought goalless draw at 18th placed AFC Bournemouth.
Well, I say boo hoo to those naysayers and keyboard warriors as we have much to look forward to at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, such as:
- Our new stadium is the entertainment hub of North London. The Emirates (note how the Goons have sold their soul and stadium naming rights) had Coldplay stage one of their Tofu festivals there, whilst Lady Ga Ga (just like Rivaldo) agreed to play at our new home. Has Coldplay won an Oscar? Exactly. *drop the mike*.
- Business genius Daniel Levy in not signing any player for 2 transfer windows has successfully negotiated a much better debt facility with the banks. Is that talked about on Match of Day? Typical biased BBC Liverpool.
- We have one of the most respected managers in world football and his well-known ability for nurturing young talent won’t see Tottenham spent reckless and indeed feckless amounts of money in the transfer market. Case in point, Man United’s purchase of Bruno Fernandes.
- Since the return of football, we have kept 3 clean sheets against the attacking behemoths of West Ham, AFC Bournemouth and Everton; and
- The excellent form of Serge Aurier has shown… sorry, I think the medication is wearing off.
David Harris, Sydney
Before I waffle, I don’t think it was a pen. But I can see why it was given and certainly don’t think it was a foul by Fernandes.
I think it is to do with the initiation of contact like 16 Conclusions touched on but also intent/negligence and possession of the ball. The laws of the game do not specifically reference these (I don’t think, haven’t checked because it’s very early and what fun is a football discussion based in fact?) but they are factors in deciding what is a foul and what is just a coming together and contact between players.
Obviously there are fouls where the player in possession just gets kicked but there are a large number of fouls out there that occur when a player with the ball (attacker) runs at an opponent (defender), knocks it past the defender and the defender trys to kick the ball away as it goes past him but misses it, placing his leg or foot or whatever he used to try and make the tackle (so in Phil Jones case, his face) in the path of the attacker. The attacker, chasing after the ball, is the one that then actually initiates contact with the defenders leg/foot/face which tried to get but missed the ball and the attacker is impeded. This all happens in milliseconds in real time and is given as a foul as the defender has impeded the attacker with either a degree of intent or negligence.
So I think yesterday’s incident is basically what happens above with the difference being there is intent/negligence in the above example, and in yesterday’s there isn’t. Yesterday Konsa chooses to make a tackle on Fernandes who is running towards him with the ball, but there is no intent as Fernandes does an unexpected roulette dragback twirly type thingy (the correct terminology for this little bit of skill) which he can’t have been expected to expect (quality English right there). No negligence either as Konsa’s only moved slightly himself, he’s not been reckless in what he’s done. Likewise with Fernandes though, he’s doing his twirly thing and actually has his back to Konsa at the moment of contact so cannot know where he is, so no intent or foul for me there either. You could argue he’s been reckless but he’s in possession of the ball trying to go past an opponent and I don’t think I would class his twirly thing as reckless or negligent either. Certainly neither of their actions are ‘dangerous play’, which are specified in there laws of the game.
So is just a coming together for me and should have been no foul at all and play on. I think the fact Fernandes had possession of the ball (and unfortunately his theoretical reaction) is why the ref gave the penalty but VAR should have overturned that. Drop ball restart and away you go chaps.
Dylan (The Kane one is a nailed on pen though, is VAR now just paying us back for our lack of love by seeing just how badly wrong they can interpret incidents?)
What a player…
First things first, it was never a penalty. Not in a million years. It also wasn’t a foul by Bruno, as some have suggested; it was just a coming together and nothing should have been awarded either way. Obviously Bruno completely played up to it by clutching his leg and I can imagine this will have wound up everyone who isn’t a United fan, but it’s a lovely bit of shithousery that we’ve not had since Herrera left. I can understand why Moss gave it as a penalty to begin with, from his angle I can imagine that it did look a foul, but that doesn’t excuse the VAR not overturning it. I’ve said all along that the only problem with VAR is the people using it – the technology itself is brilliant – and that remains the case. It’s no wonder FIFA are taking back control of it.
Next, Mason Greenwood. Jeez, what a player this kid is. The lad looks like an absolute natural. His work to set up the first goal was excellent, his all round play is brilliant (that switched pass on the run in the first half was beautiful) and he is absolutely lethal from anywhere near the goal. For his goal, I almost knew he had scored before he’d even struck the ball, that’s how good he is. Those two little touches to set himself before the strike were brilliant and gave the Villa back line no chance. I’ve never been this excited about an up and coming United player, including Ronaldo. Thank god Jose isn’t in charge any more, because we would never have seen Greenwood get this kind of game time.
In some ways, 3-0 was disappointing as we really ought to have scored more. Fred, Wan Bissaka, Rashford, Bruno and Greenwood could have all scored additional goals, but I suppose that’s a luxury you can afford while you’re already winning and keeping a clean sheet. Pogba was also excellent again last night and thoroughly deserved his (very well taken) goal. I think Keane was absolutely spot on in the post-match analysis, in saying that he seems to be relishing not being that leader figure. It’s really taken the pressure off him, having Bruno taking on a lot of this responsibility. It also went mostly unnoticed but he did an absolute peach of a side-step in the first half to unleash a brilliant counter-attack. His confidence has come back to the point that the little tricks and risks he tries are starting to mostly work out. This is finally the Paul Pogba that we thought we were buying, so fair play to him and the coaching staff for turning it around.
It’s great to see us finally putting teams at the wrong end of the table to the sword; our inability to do this earlier in the season is the reason that we’re so far off the pace in the league. Those dropped points against Palace (L), Southampton (D), West Ham (L), Newcastle (L), Bournemouth (L), Sheffield United (D), Villa (D), Watford (L) and Burnley (L) are all results that have either been corrected in the return fixtures or feel like they wouldn’t happen again now. We’ve got Palace, Southampton and West Ham in our next three fixtures, though, so I guess we’ll see soon enough.
There’s obviously still plenty to work on, both in the team itself and on the squad as a whole in the transfer window, but if feels like a change has genuinely happened now. Lots of talk of corners being turned has been heard before this season, but we’ve started to add true consistency and potency in attack, while managing to increase the number of clean sheets we’re keeping. It’s imperative now that we win all our remaining league fixtures, not just for our top four hopes but as a platform to take into the FA Cup and Europa League mini-tournament, and next season as a whole.
Praise for Ole
I read a lot of comments under any article on the web after a Man United win saying “if they are so good how come they are only 5th…Well done Ole from taking your team from 5th..to 5th” etc..However despite this being technically true, United have made a lot of progress under Ole
Since OGS took over in Dec 2018, Man United have been (an albeit distant) 3rd in the table, behind only Liverpool and Man City in terms of points accumulated. Given that United have only finished in the top 3 once since SAF left 7 years ago, that is already an improvement over a season and a half.
OGS (and his coaching team) have managed to do this whilst having to rebuild a totally new first team, and get rid of several players who were either not good enough, or just didn’t want to be at the club. Look at the first teamers from last year who he has had to either loan out, phase out of the first team or sell outright: Young, Smalling, Jones, Lindgard, Pereira, Herrera, Sanchez, Lukaku. I don’t think any of those players would be in the first team at the moment. Last season they were all in the first team with no other options (~shudder~)
He did have an awful period from March 2019-Jan 2020, but I think that is to be expected when you are rebuilding a new team, with a new identity, new style, new ethos. The squad was unfit (as they had been basically walking through games under Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho), not harmonious as it was full of players who were not good enough or just there for the money, and above all just a mixture of the whim of the previous 3 managers. You can definitely tell this is an OGS team now (or almost like a SAF team, as guess who OGS is trying to borrow from)
In his period the biggest weakness has been beating teams who defend in 2 banks of 4/low block/whatever you want to call it. Against the big teams he has been tactically very good. This season United have beaten Man City three times, Chelsea three times, taken 4 points off spurs, and I think will probably also do the double against Leicester. These victories have largely been done with a midfield of McTominay, Fred, Lindgard and Pereira (with no Pogba or Hernandes for a lot of those games). Imagine that!!
Against the low block teams now with Pogba, Fernandes and Greenwood playing together they have now been doing much better, and wins against these teams now seem a formality. For all those who doubt the tactical nous of OGS (and his team, Mike Phelan and Carrick and McKenna are not there just because they are his mates) should reconsider and watch the team going forward.
United have a front three who are now outscoring Liverpool’s, and the squad have scored 99 goals this season. Last night they became the first team in PL history to win four consecutive games by a 3+ goal margin. By the end of the season they will probably have three 20 goal strikers if Greenwood keeps going at this rate.
United have the 3rd best defensive record in the league (I anticipate this will become the 2nd best by the end of the season)
United have lost fewer PL games than Man City this season.
At the beginning of the season OGS did say that this would be another season of transition. And so it has proved to be. The squad is starting to come out of that period now in a very healthy way. Clearly planning has been done for the long term. The team is the youngest in the PL, and there are still very exciting prospects who will come through next term in Teden Mengi (CB) and Hannibal Mejbri (creative midfielder), which may mean that an extra CB or backup for pogba/fernandes is not as urgent as before. Greenwood will be the #9 going forward, And clearly OGS is planning on having 2 excellent players for each position. Someone is clearly acting as the Director of Football in the absence of an official position, it’s probably OGS and Phelan together managing Woodward upwards.
So I think for all the talk about United still being 5th, which I think shows how difficult it is to break into the top 4 these days, OGS deserves some praise for rebuilding a football behemoth, which 18 months ago was a total shambles. There have been ups and downs, but it looks like United are coming out of a very fallow period of rudderless leadership with a clear identity, a style which is difficult to contain, and a long term plan involving youth which is beginning to come to fruition.
Well Done OGS
Well that was a UCL draw for the ages
So after watching the draw for the Champions League Quarter Final stage, then letting it sink in that Chelsea will unlikely be playing Barcelona or Napoli in the Quarter Finals of the Champions League as we are 3-0 down heading to Germany to overturn that lead against an incredible Bayern side, but if we take our eyes away from that side of the draw and look to the other side it has raised the question, “Is this PSG’s year to finally lift the Champions League trophy?”
Well lets take a look at PSG’s potential route to the final, remembering that all of their games will be one off knockout ties, no second legs, no dreadful collapses, no Barcelona comebacks of old, so first up PSG take on Atalanta then in the Semi Final if they were to win would be Leipzig or Atletico, on paper that is easily the easier route to the final, no Bayern, no Madrid, No City and no Barcelona, so that Quarter Final is against the Serie A surprise package of recent seasons Atalanta, which for me is certainly going to be the hardest game in that run to the final, Atalanta are playing some incredible football and maybe even themselves could make the final which would result in many neutral fans supporting them due to how they play football and who does not love a good underdog story? We championed Ajax last season, Atalanta would surely take that mantle for the neutral.
I can already hear some of you shouting at your phones or computer screens on why I havent given Leipzig or Atletico a shot at beating PSG, well my reasoning behind Leipzig not being able to get the result is simple as they have lost Timo Werner who is their main goalscorer, he has already stated he will not be participating for Leipzig in their remaining games in the competition, their next top scorers within the competition are Forsberg and Sabitzer, both talented individuals but not strikers in their own right, Werner is crucial to how they play and for me I just feel they won’t be able to do it without Timo, so on to Atletico Madrid, they beat Liverpool in the previous round, that is no small feat at all, they always grind out a result so you can never truly rule them out of anything, even though I technically have, but again this season has not really been their best, I could be proven wrong though since they are all one off games, deep down I hope that it will be a Napoli vs Atalanta final with Gennaro Gattuso lifting the trophy for the Gli Azzurri, what a story that would be, as long as it does not turn out like the last all Italian Champions League final, oh my, it surely couldnt due to both team’s style of play.
VAR boys own club…
Yesterday there were VAR refusals to overturn two seemingly obvious errors (Fernandes’ penalty and Kane’s non-penalty).
This got me thinking about the relationship between the on-pitch referee and the VAR.
They are both referees, which means they are peers. One would assume they know each other and you could also assume they have positive relationships with each other. Human nature would suggest that, at least subconsciously, they want to protect each other.
Is this the biggest problem with VAR? That it’s the police reviewing one of their own. When ‘a clear and obvious error’ is subjective, wont teammates veer towards backing each other, instead of undermining the on-field decision?
Subconsciously or consciously, peers will look after their own. So to the VAR, that ‘clear and obvious error‘ needs to look more like a Zidane headbutt from hell as opposed to a subtle but definite push in the back.
This isn’t fully blaming the VARs. They’re reacting to deep rooted human behaviours which makes it harder to make unbiased decisions.
And yes, there are VARs doing excellent work and they should be applauded for it, but it’s starting to feel like there’s too many instances where that’s not the case.
So here’s the question; should VAR officials be independent from the on-pitch referees? Would that lead to better VAR decision making? And if subjective VAR calls are frequently prone to human error, then shouldn’t VAR be taken out of the equation completely?
David, Battersea (Have I mentioned how boring Spurs are yet?)
As a United fan it’s sad that the narrative from last night’s game was of John Moss giving a dodgy penalty for a none foul, yes it wasn’t a penalty but the push on Greenwood before was just as he got his head to the ball the defender pushes him causing him to misdirect his header, as was the foul on Pogba in the final minutes. Moss is unfit to referee not only is he incompetent he is also overweight and struggles to keep up with play.
On to the rest of the game, the first 20 minutes Villa went at us pressing high up the pitch which under previous managers would of been cause for concern but under Ole we seem to have a lot more resilience and currently always look like we could score. Exciting times to be a United fan, even have Liverpool fans chirping up on every story and post deriding the team and bigging up the pool, slight concern from down the East Lancs I’m detecting.
Paul Murphy, Manchester (Greenwood ooofff)
Does that make me a glory hunter?
For so long, I longed for a time like this. A time United will rise from the dredges of abysmal display into a pattern of brilliance. A mood reminiscent of the Fergie years. After watching the last couple of matches, I’m hopeful. I almost feel like a plastic fan though. I had lost my voice for a while, only to find it now that United are doing well. Does that make me a glory hunter? Lol
Victor. Man Utd. Nigeria.
Whats different between Nketiah and Tarkowski…
Quote Rich (AFC – well written BTW)’Nketiah was sent off it’s that others aren’t. Then last night to completely back up this moan you have Tarkowski stamp quite clearly on the knee of Bowen, Tarkowski is yellow carded and it isn’t even reviewed by VAR. At best it is identical to Nketiah’s, at worst it is a lot more intentional and forceful as he can see the player he’s trying to tackle rather than Nkeitah’s which felt more like clumsy trying to control the ball.’
He is black and Tarkowski is White – unconscious bios or conscious that’s the only difference (if the laws are applied equally). I am white, and grew up in Hackney with many colours and saw heaps of racism and have been on the receiving end a couple of times of racism when with friends (just to qualify my statements – even though i am white I can still recognise it).
I get sick of commentators fawning over players like Harry Maguire (did you hear the other day the commentator talking about ‘the England players broad chest’ WTF!). Or every time a black player looks unhappy on the pitch – ‘he really needs to smile more’ oh FFS, yesum sir!! – why should he??? You dont say that about white players – when they are not smiling its because they are unhappy with their performance, being professional. The criticisms are very different for no reason.
I am embarrased to be white sometimes when i see and hear this all the time on the TV, news, online – what about the terrible abuse black players were still getting just before the pandemic – commentators and news channels just STOP IT – please….
Shot of nostalgia
A leftfield post, but for anyone wanting a bit of surprising faux-nostalgia, can I recommend watching the Alexander Sorloth renaissance video on the PlanetFootball article on 7 Best 2020 Redemption Stories.
Between Trabsponszor’s funky colourerd kit/big white text sponsor, some very shonky video quality, some very very suspect (read unathletic) marking and Sorloth unapologetically scoring a handful of ‘having a good touch for a big man’ esque goals, it’s like watching those late 90’s/early 00’s Premier League highlights first captured on video which I watched obsessively on YouTube in its earliest days.
Hindsight transfer game…
To carry on the hindsight transfer game from this morning’s mailbox, Arsenal haven’t had a huge windfall from a single transfer but one summer does stick in my mind where it would be interesting to fiddle with history. Summer 11/12, Arsenal sell Fabregas, Nasri and others for a combined £70m. This is the summer when Arsenal got spanked 8-2 by Man U and Wenger went on his mad last minute trolley dash and bought Andre Santos and Park Chu-Young!Instead these players moved for these fees that same summer
De Bruyne £7m
Aubamayang £1.8m! (from Milan to St Ettinene)
and we’d still have £9m change so we could have also made the Arteta signing that we did actually make to ensure the space time continuum at least maintains some trace to him wanting to manage Arsenal today.
Liverpool selling Suarez in 2014 and buying Lukaku and Di Maria
Didn’t Giroud play every game at the World Cup without scoring? If a player fits a winning system, I’m backing the manager.