Not accounting for Man City’s charges, Pep Guardiola should go. Jurgen Klopp too…

Ian Watson
Pep Guardiola urges on his Manchester City team during the win over Tottenham.

There are calls for Pep Guardiola to step aside at Man City, while Stewie urges Liverpool not to make the same mistake as Arsenal. Also: mails on Spurs, Salah, Wolves, and Everton.

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Oh no, we’re going to have an asterisk at the end of the season, aren’t we…


Calm down
I’d like to see City wriggle out of this one!


Ah! Well, nevertheless –
Nick Glover, Scouser in Brum


City have a cunning plan
I remember captain blackadder once talking of the best defence lawyer around. Who once got a murderer acquitted, despite the man being seen stabbing the victim by 14 witnesses and saying to the police when they arrested him “I’m glad I killed the bastard”! 🤣

Well I always thought Man City must have been represented by that same lawyer the first time around!

It does seem somewhat surprising that it’s taken the Premier league a while to get around to finally taking city on. When the whole football world (including the journalists from what I’m told!), have known exactly what’s gone on and exactly how City have managed to not only exploit the rules but also cover their tracks so to speak. So I think we have to assume that the PL have been taking the time to get their ducks in a row to make sure their case is as tight as one of those same ducks arses.

I work in both law and international football finance so I know of what I speak. When you are taking on limitless wealth your only option is to make sure you use the only resource you have more of than them (time!) to get your case organised.

The big open question for me is what possible sanctions can be thrown at City if and when they are found guilty?? Theoretically, this is pretty open. So consider that for a moment!

I could say more but you can probably guess already that I really really shouldn’t.

Anyway, interesting times ahead but it won’t be a quick process. Let’s see if those PL chiefs have the balls to see it through!
Paul (London)


The real victims
Everton should’ve gone down in 1994. They were rubbish that season, and their 3-2 last-day comeback against Wimbledon was, in my completely impartial eyes, less of a fairytale and more the perpetration of a grave injustice. For three long decades I and many like me (OK, maybe it’s just me) have waited for Everton to experience a karmic comeuppance.

This season, that reckoning looked to have arrived. Despite Sean Dyche’s best efforts, the Toffees look set to finally – finally! – get the relegation they so thoroughly deserved all those many years ago.

But they won’t. They won’t, because another team, much higher up the table, will be relegated in their place due to financial irregularities.

City ruin everything.
Mark, Cape Town


Haaland and book cooking
Really interesting piece on Haaland by John Nicholson, and spot on.

He has undeniable qualities but always struck me as a bizarre signing for a Pep Guardiola side and for this Man City.

Pep has never been a one for this type of ‘focal point’ striker (see how Ibrahimovich faired at Barcelona) and Haaland just seemed so ill-suited to the whole ethos. Its just not the right fit, it’d be like casting Daniel Day Lewis as the new star of the fast and the furious franchise – both sides undeniably great at what they do, but not a meeting of minds.

If I were a betting man, I’d say Haaland’s stay at the Etihad will be short lived. They’ve been able to get him in for a great price (on paper) and will flip him to Real Madrid this summer or next for a massive profit, with none of the agent’s fees or the player’s dad fee appearing on the balance sheet – I think his signing was just an FFP scheme…

Which brings me on to the other topic of this email. That’s quite the list of charges, isn’t it. I stopped counting when I hit 70 individual breaches and was only about half way down the list…

That there is alleged systemic cheating on a huge scale over a 14 year period, during which City have won six titles (and, without actually fact checking, I believe at least 27 league cups…) – If they are found guilty of a significant proportion of those breaches, I hope part of the consequences include some of those getting stripped because that list is ridiculous.

The FA have spent 4 years investigating this and have clearly been very thorough, so presumably won’t be caught out by the sorts of technicalities that saw City reprieved in Europe (seriously UEFA, how do you end up going to court over a time-barred breach). Very interesting stuff…
Andy (MUFC)


Pep out
So here we are again. The pattern of City’s season in big games repeated. Lacklustre start, mistake, punish, struggle. Going 1 nil down, you knew another defeat at the cheese room stadium was forthcoming. The manager never gets questioned, and the cycle will be repeated when we play Arsenal soon.

KDB benched despite us having a 9 day break and City not playing again for another 7 days. Odd.
David James on BBC Radio Manchester said Rodri looked tired. HE HAD A 9 DAY BREAK! HE DOESN’T WORK FOR THE NHS!!!
So many defensive mistakes…again, what are we doing in training?!
Lacking ideas yes, but sometimes simply putting enough balls in the box, law of averages dictates one will fall to Haaland soon, rather than this backwards pointless recycling which will inevitably break down.
Phil Foden pulling out with illness. How convenient. Must be taking advantage of Stockport’s ever-improving hospitality industry.

And without using the “lost the dressing room” cliche, the Cancelo issue. And if that’s the case, the team losing it’s spark and not putting in enough effort, it’s time for change. An ever improving Leipzig team will do us in the Champions League thanks to another Pep selection disaster class. Looking forward to seeing Ederson at left-back, the ghost of Colin Bell at centre-back and Kevin Kennedy in midfield.

Gundo is too slow, John Stones has hammies made of biscuit and Bernado wants to f*** off anyway. The selling of Zinchenko is looking like the biggest mistake of the season with no recognised left-back (injury prone Jesus I can accept selling). So a clear out is needed. Starting with the manager, with Tuchel and Pochettino (Champions League Winner and Runner-Up) twiddling their thumbs, and possibly Klopp out of work soon too.

The definition of madness is repeating the same mistakes. It’s time for a reset; changing managers regularly never did Real Madrid any harm?
@rubym83 , (seriously, Stockport is good for a night out these days…)


…I’ve been a Man City fan since the Joe Royle days, so I totally understand what Pep has done for City – the way he’s moved them on as a team and as a club, and won (not quite) everything. Even the expectation that City fans have now, that we should win silverware, be in the quarter finals of the Champions League, and be challenging for the league each season, come mostly from what Pep’s done with the team.

But I genuinely think he may have taken them as far as he currently can, and it’s time for the board to consider whether the team’s achievements are matching their expectations. It’s not just the poor results this season (although you look at the 2-0 loss to Southampton and 1-1 draw with Frank Lampard’s Everton and wonder how many other managers could have done better); it’s the fact that they genuinely don’t seem to be progressing as a team.

Don’t get me wrong, Pep *could* take them further and make them an even better team. But his weird mental blocks (Klopp, Tuchel, Spurs’ new stadium, the Champions League), and his one-man crusade against the rigid concept of “winning” is holding City back at this point. Truly great team are those that win everything there is to win; Sir Alex Ferguson is remembered as a manager not because his United teams played the game in the most technically correct way, but because they focused on the result above all else, and won the key matches. Teams would turn up to Old Trafford already knowing that a draw would be a great result, and even when United went behind you knew they’d pull out a result somehow. Klopp’s Liverpool at their peak had it too – you knew that Salah, Mane or Firmino would pop up and score the crucial goal to give them the result. But Pep’s so fixed on his vision of how football “should” be played that he can’t just take the ugly win if it’s there; and when City go behind you don’t have that confidence that, even with one of the best goalscorers on the planet in the team, they can pull it back.

I don’t necessarily want Pep gone – I’ve no idea who could replace him, nor how much we might regret his leaving. But at this stage he clearly needs a break, and City need to think about whether Pep in his current mindset is delivering what they should expect given the players the club has, and how much has been spent to bring them together. As someone else suggested before, he’s in danger of becoming outdated – perhaps not in his methods but at least in the results – and the City board are well within their rights to want to change and update things, whether that’s with Pep or another manager.
Nick, Dublin City fan

Read more: Ten possible punishments for Manchester City and Pep Guardiola after Premier League charges

Erik knew
I remember when Ten Hag joined United and was asked in his first press conference about City and Liverpool.

He said ‘eras come to an end’.

With Liverpool currently looking pretty much as bad as our worst since Fergie left, and City possibly in deep trouble over FFP and lots of unrest rumours, I doubt anyone thought it would happen this quickly!

Not getting cocky – Arsenal are currently the ones taking advantage as we rebuild and who knows Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Newcastle too may be roaring next season on top of Arsenal but I cannot deny I am enjoying watching this season unfold.
Nishul Saperia (excitedly awaiting the Glazer sale)


Marsch-ing on no longer
Today must be a red letter day for Dave Tickner, who seems to have been predicting Jesse Marsch’s dismissal since he was hired. On the down side he’ll have to start looking for new material, now that all the Ted Lasso related jibes have dried up.
Credit where credit is due, he predicted that Marsch would either lead Leeds into Europe or be sacked with them in the bottom three. They’re only avoiding the drop on goal difference at present, so if Everton were a little more prolific he would have been bang on.
A couple of seasons of nice nondescript mid-table irrelevancy would be nice right now. My heart can’t take all this excitement.
Andrew – (Long suffering Leeds fan) Canada


A warning for Liverpool, from Stewie
Dear Liverpool fans,

I’ve been noticing with interest that the Liverpool fans are increasingly splitting into two factions:

1. The “Klopp has earned the right to decide his future” group
2. The “performances are unacceptable and Klopp might need to go”

Far from offering a personal view on one of their greatest ever managers, I just wanted to remind Liverpool fans to look across at Arsenal and Wenger, and how appallingly it can turn out if/when a group of fans decide that a legendary manager should become so powerful as to decide his future. Arsenal fans spent between 2005 and 2018 with every excuse under the sun:

“It’s Kroenke’s/board’s fault” (You curiously don’t hear that one anymore these days)

“The future is bright and once FFP is brought in” (It’s really hampered Citeh and Chelski eh lol)

“Give him time, he doesn’t have money to spend” (Like Klopp, Wenger was actually spending money – but in the wrong areas)

We all know what happened to Arsenal in the time the fans gave Wenger carte blanche to incompetently take the club further downwards: regular thrashings as we now see at Wolves (see the 8-2 at OT, 10-2 Bayern, 6-0 Chelski away etc). An overblown wage bill with mediocre players that can’t be shifted. Taken out of the CL, and years later the club hasn’t seen a sniff of it. Income down. In fact it’s taken 5 years for Arsenal to stop being a punchline – and even then, that’s ahead of schedule!

So Liverpool fans, I’m sure you won’t repeat the idiotic blind backing Arsenal fans gave a manager who was clearly out of ideas and out of time. Tbf Klopp seems to have a lot more dignity than Wenger and I suspect Klopp will walk himself instead of waiting to get sacked so he can get a fat pay-off (unlike certain “men of principle” 🙄)
Stewie Griffin

Klopp on Liverpool defeat

Spurs to rule Europe?
Barry Fox, you lunatic. Apart from the City match yesterday, you lost (6) or drew (1) all the other ones against the rest of top 6 + Newcastle, including two losses against Arsenal. Presumably by top teams in Europe you meant Fulham and Bournemouth.

If only Everton kept Frank Lampard – after they drew with City, they`d have won the CL too in 2 or 3 years.
Jan, Prague


What’s Schlupp?
Plenty of words have been written on who grabbed whose neck in the Man United v Crystal Palace game, but to revisit an old chestnut, why isn’t anyone talking about the initial foul by Schlupp on Anthony? I’m curious to know in which other sport it is deemed acceptable to respond to a show of skill with beyond-the-rules violence, with general approval from all and sundry? Would it be okay to throw your racquet at Djokovic if he made an egregiously creative drop shot while winning 5-1? Or bowl a beamer to a batsman who has just reverse swept the last ball? Why does football lean towards institutionalised thuggery? And at a broader level, is this why only English players that grow up in the protected environments of top clubs’ academies can turn turn out to be the Sakas, Fodens, and Rashfords, because all kids trying skills across the country are getting lumps kicked out of them to roars of encouragement from onlookers? And can that be good for English football?
Ved Sen (MUFC)


Salah’s role
With all the chatter about how poor Liverpool have been, from their defensive issues to the lack of midfield options and Darwin looking like an expensive Joelinton ( by that I mean a very good footballer who’s actually not suited to playing as a forward because he can’t finish his dinner), there is one glaringly unusual thing about Klopp’s tactics that seems to have gone unnoticed.

Salah has always played as a right winger, but obviously he’s been allowed to move inside and play as forward and not given much defensive responsibility. So much so that in the past he’s basically been playing as a striker who hangs to the right hand side of the box for much of the game. While he does sometimes drift inside now, it’s only really once or twice a game. Salahs position this year has completely changed. Instead of playing as right forward/ winger, He’s a right midfielder now. He seems to be lining out as an out and out chalk on his boots David Beckham-esque right midfielder who’s always an average of 35 to yards from goal.

I noticed this just before the world cup and nothing has changed. It feels like Klopp is telling our best finisher to stay out wide to leave room for Gakpo and Nunez and its just madness. I really want some pundits/journailsts to bring this up with him. The argument would probably be that Liverpool are so poor he’s finding it hard to get into the positions he used to when they dominated, but Klopp has got to identify ways to get him closer to the goal. Every match now since the World cup he’s played as a traditional wide midfielder whose best chance of contributing to attacks is crossing it in, and although I still have faith in Klopp, the fact that he seems oblivious to the idea of playing his best goalscorer close to the goal is really worrying.

I don’t know what tactical change it needs, play him up front and Gakpo or Elliot out right, or try a 442 diamond with him in a 2 up front with Nunez. But at this point id take a switch to a 532 with Allison playing wing back & Darwin centre half if it just meant Klopp would try something different instead of playing the same broken tactics every week game after game and then sit there looking shocked when it fails again.


Super Wolves
Some Wolves Liverpool musings from a Wolves perspective as I’m fairly sure you’ll have a few from the other lot:

1) Those absurdly unfair offside decisions at Anfield in the FA Cup could in fact save our season. By having a weekend off, it gave Jules a solid ten days to work with the team, which was absolutely evident from the kick off. The defensive shape, co-ordinated pressing high up the pitch and speed with which we attacked was a world away from most of Lage’s time at the club.

2) Neves was obviously brilliant and I’m still fairly confused as to how he’s a Wolves player. I’ve heard talk of his lack of pace being an issue, but surely the third (sadly disallowed, we’ll come to that later) goal puts paid to that. He improves Liverpool for a start, probably Spurs and arguably United. He’s the best player to have worn the shirt since the 50s and probably ever since we all know old football was rubbish 😉

3) Lemina looks a great signing and I hope the injury isn’t too serious. He’s just so damn intense in everything he does and the ground he covered to allow the likes of Neves, Semedo and Ait Nouri get forward, was key to the performance

4) Jules’ substitutions were impeccably timed and perfectly judged in terms of personnel. He’d seen enough after 10 minutes of the second half to know we needed a change and after 15 minutes Moutinho and Jimenez came on. As intended and as happened for the sadly disallowed third goal, Moutinho as an extra midfielder brought some class and presence in there. Whilst Jimenez brought a more physical focal point after Cunha had started to fade, which was the last thing Liverpool’s super competent defence wanted to see.

5) For all the talk of Liverpool’s poor performance and they were crap. For the first 15/20 of the second half we had to defend and defend well. The aforementioned defensive shape restricted them to a couple of good chances (Nunez chance later on was from a counter attack, rather than as a result of extensive pressure

6) Lastly, I feel for Neves. After such a great captain’s performance, that third goal really could have capped off the his afternoon. I do hope Mr Klopp’s decision to discount the goal on reasons of his distaste for possession being turned over expertly in midfield, followed by a blistering counterattack and wonderful finish, don’t disappoint the skipper too much
John, Shrops


Everton are back. Maybe. 
Like night and day, an unrecognisable Everton rise from the ashes of a spent, broken shell of a team to fire on all cylinders once more. All credit to Dyche, that was a solid team performance. Some elements of new manager bounce, some elements of letting our better players do their thing and do the basics right, but you could see there was fresh impetus and a will to perform. McNeil had by far his best game in blue, Mykolenko outdid himself, and for once it wasn’t just Iwobi who was obviously trying his heart out, it was all 11 on the pitch. Side note: Onana is genuinely a world class talent in the making. Build the team around him.

I was sceptical about Dyche, worrying that there might not be any translation to a long term plan if he took charge. I still think that. The goal for any Everton manager is to rebuild and win a trophy. Laugh all you want but that’s what Everton fans want to see. Dyche needs to have a long term plan as to how we achieve that. I’d like to think he’s our new David Moyes but it’s down to how ambitious both he and this shambolic board want to be. You don’t have to get anyone in a headlock to find out that Everton fans demand better than mediocrity.

The sceptic inside me also notes that Everton tend to raise their game against Big Six opposition as a rule, and these sorts of games have never been our issue, more so the Bournemouth / Southampton type of games, which are usually where we drop crucial points. But this was a fantastic start. Looking to what comes next, it’s too much for any blue to expect a win over the Kopites, but we can definitely be assured of a gutsy performance after watching that. It’s a good sign.

Long term though, where do you start performing surgery on this team? A striker for sure, probably a winger, definitely some upgrades/depth in defence. Will Dyche be given funds in the summer to do what needs to be done? Is he working with Thelwell to imprint an identity to a club that’s been lurching from farce to crisis for the last decade? There are plenty of questions still left to answer, and beating a ‘not at the races’ Arsenal doesn’t wipe all of those away. Great win and great start though, maybe we might be playing our first game at Brantley Moore Dock as a Premier League team after all.
Joe, EFC


Casemiro KO
Ed’s not wrong about the interesting logic from some United fans on the Casemiro decision. However, Ed seems like someone who watches a lot of football and knows his stuff, so it’s surprising that he still thinks Casemiro grabbed Hughes by the throat. Didn’t you watch MOTD Ed? Or see any of the many videos that showed he was actually holding his shirt?

He also doesn’t address that a Palace player grabbed a United player by the throat in the same incident and somehow wasn’t also sent off, but I’ll chalk that up to the typical one-eyed view that afflicts all of us football fans at one time or another.

As a neutral, it seems clear to me that it should either have been yellow cards all round, or one red card each. It’s always amusing when the fanbase of one of the big clubs gets up in arms about something, but let’s acknowledge that this was yet another example of VAR being used poorly.
Neil, Swansea