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Erling Haaland to Chelsea? Simple!
Dortmund want to keep him for another year. Chelsea want to pay up now to avoid a bidding war next summer when Haaland’s release clause kicks in. There’s a simple solution!
Why don’t Chelsea give them £100 this summer to buy him but then loan him back to Dortmund for the upcoming season. Dortmund get what they want and Chelsea get what they want. Bing! Bang! Bosh!
Tim (CFC) Ireland
Varane and Sancho not enough
As happy I am at Manchester United signing Varane – with weeks left in the transfer window no less – I still don’t believe there will be a massive difference. Unless a top class defensive midfielder is signed, it will be more of the same… flattering to deceive.
Varane is used to be playing with top level defensive midfielders both at Real and for France. I wonder how shocked he’ll be when he has McFred infront of him running around looking busy but not actually defending anything. With Leicester signing Soumare you’d think they are already ready for Ndidi leaving. Perhaps we could test the waters?
I also would not mind Kessie from AC Milan who i watched run our midfield over two legs. Just keep Declan Rice away from Old Trafford.
The Pogba conundrum
A lot of people have surmised that Paul Pogba has played well in multiple teams, such as Juve and France, or he has only played well when supported by high class talents. Some may say that the quality on offer in Italy is not as good, or perhaps the quality when he was there. Some may say that next to Kante, any midfielder will look better.
So let’s break it down.
Truth goes first.
Pogba left England at a young age and went to Juventus. He joined the Italian champions, who would win the title in each of his four seasons. This is where the Real/Mythical Pogba was born. All action midfielder, very dynamic, given a license to roam and capable of a nice thunderbastard. Here, he flourished. This is true.
During his career representing France, he has lost the Euro 2016 final at home to Portugal, and won the 2018 world cup vs Croatia. For France, he has looked almost as dangerous as he did for Juve, despite playing in a more tactically disciplined role. He is tasked with pulling the strings and sending those long balls for Mbappe, Griezmann and Dembele to chase. His first 3 games of the Euro’s showed exactly what he is capable of. This is true.
At United, he doesn’t appear to be the Real/Mythical Pogba, why? Like most things, the proof lies in the details.
At Juve, he had the honor of having the leadership and skills of Buffon in nets, a back three of Chiellini, Bonucci & Barzagli, flanked by Lichsteiner and Alex Sandro, with the mercurial Pirlo in front of them to protect. Alongside Pogba, were the box-to-box abilities of Vidal/Marchisio. This gave Pogba an outrageous amount of protection, while at the same time allowing him to be the man to dribble forward with the ball, take that long shot, attempt those long passes, safe in the knowledge he has an army of experienced defenders behind him. It made him worth 85M.
Now, for France he does not appear to be as dynamic or dangerous, but not one bit less necessary for the team. With the previously mentioned three, and others, Pogba does not need to make the runs forward he would normally do at Juve. He is instead tasked with using his passing range and carrying the ball forward. It has evidently worked and it has evidently not. He has won the WC, His mistake cost them in the last Euro’s.
For protection here, he has Lloris in nets, Varane and Kimpembe/Umtiti at CB with Hernandez and Pavard at fullback(Two defenders who can play CB) and he would partner with Kante and Matuidi(World cup winners) or just Kante( Euros).
United in this time has not come close to either team’s level of quality when it comes to adequate protection for a player like Pogba. He has never had a midfield partner to the standard of Pirlo/Vidal/Kante and he has not had the quality of experience at the back either to match Chielini/Bonucci/Varane.
This year may be different. If United could sign, let’s say, Ndidi. Pogba would have an experienced goalkeeper, experienced quality CB’s and fullbacks, midfield partners who have the discipline to protect him and forwards who will move into the spaces necessary.
However, PSG would be the better choice for him. He has the quality goalkeeper in Donnarumma, a back three of Ramos, Marquinhos and Kimpembe. Bernat and Hakimi at fullback are great options. Gini can be their Vidal, Veratti can be their Pirlo. Add in the forwards, Neymar, Mbappe and Icardi, and you have a team that can more than match the ability of his successful Juve side.
This all leaves us with the feeling of why? Why create all of this for just him? Well, you have to watch him to understand. Those first three games for France at the Euro’s. That run of form after Mourinho was sacked, where he scored and assisted 8 in 5 games. At his best he is an unstoppable machine capable of the delicate, and the dangerous. All you need to do is to listen to pro’s talk about playing against him to get it, and then watch his highlights for your eyes to get it too.
That said, he is also such a liability, and this is why I would prefer to see him in that PSG team. United should use those funds to replace him with a solid CDM and a dynamic midfield passer, a la Scholes. He is a liability because he has often had brain farts at major moments, in major games. His giving away and taking of penalties record is horrible. Like at this Euros, when you take away the box-to-box partner he needed for the WC, even just Kante can’t save you, and he made Danny Drinkwater a 35M Midfielder.
He does the magic many cannot, But in a team where Bruno is our main performer, there is not much space for the luxuries of Paul Pogba.
You will get the screamer, and then be turned into a screamer, for his efforts.
Can’t say I agree with JB. Rashford definitely looks like he’s been carrying an injury for some time to me.
As for saying that if it was actually something wrong, you’d just get it fixed… it would be nice if it was that clean cut, but that’s just not how surgery works.
I don’t know exactly what the nature of Rashford’s injury is, or what the surgical solution is, but the surgery could have a less than ideal success rate, it could only be a partial solution, it could leave the recipient with permanent (but lesser) pain in the affected area, surgery may only offer a temporary solution to an inherent problem that will eventually recur… There are plenty of reasons why a young guy may want to reflect on a choice between managing an injury versus going under the knife, or the exact timing of the surgery.
But really, why is it such a big deal if the club was less than truthful in order to protect the player?
Maybe it is made up and the issue is a sensitive one that the player doesn’t want widely known – like the early days of Darren Fletcher’s ulcerative colitis, or a mental health issue… Or maybe they are just making it up to alleviate pressure around bad form; sounds a perfectly valid tactic to me… what, if anything, is wrong with him isn’t really anyone’s business but his and his employer’s.
Why don’t the press call them out on their BS? Probably because it isn’t newsworthy…
Wednesday’s PM Mailbox: How did a ‘useless PE teacher’ sign Varane? Lamela was a ‘liability’ and…
Biscuit Dave – do you work in PR or marketing? There’s some wonderful creative framing going on in your description of United’s key players this morning.
Listen, I get United are delighted to have finally signed a defender who looks competent in all areas of play rather than just a selected few, but to describe him as ‘the most successful centre back under 30’ is clearly heavily caveated so as to avoid anyone who didn’t hoover up Champions League medals at Real for most of the last decade, and even then you have to limit the age range so as to exclude his way more successful defensive partner.
England’s best centre-back? John Stones is clearly why you’ve switched from ‘most successful’ to (a very subjective) ‘best’. John Stones might occasionally drop a bollock, but Maguire is always slow and one-footed. I know who I’d rather have.
And to finish, a wonderful combo designed so as to exclude any striker under the age of about 29, yet not position Cavani behind of any of those he’s being compared to – ‘one of the best centre forwards in Europe over the last 10 years.’ Yeah, he’s been one of the best over that timeframe, but you’d probably find few outside of Salford who’d rate him above the other obvious names in that bracket such as Ronaldo, Lewandowski, Muller or Benzema.
Even the intro to the group of players includes ‘(on paper)’. Absolute joyous and meaningless nonsense, and why I love the Mailbox.
Jonny (on paper, one of the best bearded players over 6 foot tall between the ages of 42-45 in my street) Dance
…Oh Biscuit Dave, I just have no idea how Ole gets these players to sign for the club with the highest wage bill in the country. Maybe he sent them a VHS of the time he did that tap in.
And as for best English centre back, I think Joe Gomez (PL, CL) might have a word with Maguire(…….).
United are back at the big boy table now. No more playing for nil nils or bragging rights when the leagues already lost. Ole has to do what only a small handful of managers have ever done and beat Pep in the league.
No excuses now. Not injuries, not VAR, not playing on Thursdays after Christmas. He’s been spending like Man United, he needs to win like Man United. That means the league.
United fans would do well to let their team do the talking on the pitch this season. Next year has to be their year. Anything else would be a failure for them.
Alex, South London
Ole: the good, the bad, and the ugly
The Good: Ole took over a toxic situation from a toxic man in Mourinho. He was seen as a short term option to raise morale and see out the season. He nailed it, so much so, United gave him the job full time. I was concerned about this as Pochetino seemed like the better option.
But I am not Ed Woodward, so I just had to sit back and hope for the best. What I did know was that we had a former player in the hot seat, we had a manager that fully understood what a successful United is, and the importance of sticking to the United way- Fast, attacking football, with local youths reperesting the club. It is a manager who has won trophies as a manager( Albeit in Norway, that said, his side were not favourites)
From the get-go, you could tell the players where in a more comfortable environment, and happier for it. The results were not bad and by the end of his first full season, we had finished in the top 3, and reached 3 semi-finals.
Last season we went a step further in both regards, finishing second in the league and reaching the Europa final. Despite a loss in the final, progress was definitely made.
He has improved players as well. Greenwood has come on leaps, the best we have seen from Pogba has been on his watch. He added Maguire and AWB to make a sh*t defence solid, and he has them consistently getting high ratings without it really being noticed.
His transfers have been the best since Fergie has left. He signs players that we need, but who also appear to have the right mental capacity to be a United player. Maguire, Fernandes, AWB, Varane, Sancho- These are all amazing players, but more importantly, the types of players we have needed and missed out on/Never went for.
Tactically, he has beaten the best, and last season’s sensational comebacks should be seen as proof of this, instead of it being another ‘luck’ stick to beat him with.
The Bad: I feel bad saying bad things about him, but then when I think about it, there is not much bad to him. He is nice and friendly, he doesn’t abuse, belittle or blame his players. You could say that tactically, he is maybe not as seasoned as your Mourninho’s or Pochettino’s, and he does not appear to have a preferred system such as Pep or Klopp. But Pep aside, not one of them was successful last year.
You could say his use of substitutes can improve, as we learned in the lost final. We also learned in that game that, on occasion, he can be like a deer in the headlights when the opposition is delivering a masterclass.
His interviews- this is where I think most people get their feeling for Ole, from. He just doesn’t scream anything, it’s never really emotional, engaging, or inspirational. He does not say anything truly wild or thought provoking. He just….is.
The Ugly: The ugly I find is in his presence, so many are frustrated. It’s like your ex dating some really nice guy. You don’t want to like him, and he has given you no reason not to, but you still do.
I don’t even think a trophy would do it, unless it is the league, and in a convincing way. But already people are saying he should win the league with this team, so we will see.
He took over United in a similar way to that of Klopp at Liverpool. He achieved better success in his first full season than Klopp did in his. His second full season ended up in a losing european final(Albeit the Champions league for Liverpool) and a higher league finish than Liverpool.
He is currently on an upward trajectory that should be seen as highly positive, yet, perhaps because he doesn’t have a thrilling tactical system and perhaps a slight lack of ‘Charisma’, he is being seen as lucky or unfit for purpose.
Luckily, the United board does not.
Calvino (His spending is about on par with Klopp in that time too)
Three rule changes to improve “The Game”.
1. Stop the clock when the ball is out of play (e.g., throw ins, corners, subs, goal kicks). Simple…removes doubt, rewards playing. No stoppage time and reduce the 90 minute game time if needs be. Probably advanced by many others before me, but let’s ease into this.
2. Introduce sin bins. We need a card between the yellow and red (e.g., orange). The reason players “take one for the team” (e.g., yellow card with little time left to play), is because the balance between reward and punishment is…unbalanced. “Tactical fouls” go against good play/skill and are only supported by idiot hipsters (e.g., “Chiellini on Saka, is brilliant defending”. Nah, it’s cheating). Deliver the punishment within the game the crime occurred, and create jeopardy for cheaters.
3. Make VAR reviews the decision of managers or captains. I think most people want good skill and fairness, not decision making perfection/porn – they are different and the latter does not exist…as far as I’m aware.
No fan wants to “cheat” their way to a win (think Henry handball against Ireland, Lampard’s phantom goal against Germany or Maradona’s handball), particularly in a significant game. But do we really care that a marginal offside or free-kick occurred 2 minutes before a goal? I don’t…get on with it, play on, tackle, defend.
Use the tennis review model (i.e., 2 reviews per set and you keep them if you get your review right) to remove the obvious and impactful mistakes, but don’t make a video referee the central character in a game of physical skill. If you like decision based dramas, go and watch A Few Good Men.
Dissecting grey areas is dull, futile and comes at the cost of the overall shape and integrity of the game. If Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan, or Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle is less likely with VAR, then remove it until you have something that doesn’t make it so (N.B., I am a football not Liverpool fan).
Last thing… We are all controlled by others…ultimately high finance, PR, and Government, in some shape, form or collaboration. Moments of joy are few and far between. I don’t think we should allow The Man to place himself in front of one of the few moments of uncontrived joy left…put that power in the hands of your “elected” managers and captains, make it part of the game…and most importantly deliver fairness not officiousness.
Nick (not The Man)
P.s. Imagine Wenger/Mourinho/Fergie/[insert typically whinging manager] arguing they thought the ref had a bad game after they called 2 decisions wrong themselves… Already seems worth it.
Non-perfect perfect goals
Adding to Paul from Brussels mail about perfect goals that come out of left field where there looks to be no chance to score, my favourites are the goals from players that rarely get close but suddenly spot an opportunity. When they score there is this look of bewilderment followed by sheer joy, it’s the pure fun you have playing as a kid.
As I am biased, check out Makelele’s goal against Spurs. Not only a great goal but he just stood still for a split second before realising he’d actually scored, and the reaction from the rest of the team says it all.
Blue Chelsea Blue