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Fallen for Allison already
Watching the end of the Liverpool v Napoli friendly. Nothing at stake and all that, but it still feels a bit surreal. The fab 3 back and clicking like they have never been away. Milner unbelievably stepping up another gear from last season. Keita playing like he’s played under Klopp forever. A host of second stringers fit and wanting to prove a point. Sturridge revelling in a deeper role. Jones twisting and bursting like a seasoned pro (I squealed a few times). Then we bring on Shaqiri and Fabinho! The former’s tenacity and the latter’s class and ability to find a pass no matter where and to who, adding new edges to an already well-oiled engine. Moreno firing a torpedo home, probably under the illusion that he is Salah.
But the most surreal aspect is looking at the back and seeing Allison, a sea of calm washing over the whole backline. Brilliant distribution, brick hands and looking very, very big. I feel like we have won 15 games already.
Can you tell I am excited?
Weech (only downer was Klopp wearing what looked like pyjamas), Singapore
The news of Toby Alderweirald wanting to join United gives me some comfort as a fan. It gives me hope that getting linked to multiple defenders is a negotiation strategy more than us actually buying any of those defenders.
Toby is different class. And clearly, will not be sold till the last day. Levy will use every minute available to negotiate a higher price.
I hope for our defence, we sign Toby. He and Bailly would be an awesome fit and it should remove any excuses about a solid back line which stop Mou from attacking.
I am betting on him signing for United on the last day of the window. And, while the club may whine and complain, as a fan isnt it refreshing to see the window shut down early.
Less BS from the papers is one immediate benefit. And the rule seems equally unfair to every club in the premier league.
Sudarsan Ravi (What is United’s defensive order – Is Smalling > Jones or vice versa. Is Lindelof better or worse than Rojo. Answers on a post card)
Jose’s not finished – but not right for United
Interesting stuff in the Mailbox this morning in response to Ian Watson’s article. I’ve read so much about Jose in The Mailbox over the years, but nobody has suggested the following, so here goes: Jose Mourinho is still a Category A Manager, but is only suitable for Category B teams. Let me explain…
He is undoubtedly a master of the dark arts, and a master of creating a siege mentality, an “us against the world” culture within his squad. Tactically, he knows exactly how to play as an underdog, sit deep, counter effectively, take your chances. This footballing philosophy worked wonders at Porto, Chelsea (first time around) and Inter Milan, because all three, in European terms, were Category B clubs at the time – possible argument against Inter, but they hadn’t won the Champions League in a silly number of years prior to his arrival and domestic success was a result of the Juventus scandal more than anything else – In these jobs he was essentially able to utilise his skill set with Category B clubs to take on the clubs that were part of the establishment and win.
The problem for Mourinho is that these techniques don’t work when you are in charge of a club that is the establishment. Category A players at Category A clubs don’t want to play his way, and that is where everything starts to fall down for him – dissatisfied players, revolts, lack of squad harmony etc… Imagine he moves in to International Management and takes over the Brazilian team, it would be almost impossible to get his players to follow his philosophy, “we’re Brazil, we don’t play this way” would be the universal outcry from his squad. Now imagine he takes over the English National team – the players will be much more receptive to his methods if they feel it could bridge the gap between them and the opponents they could face. Hence, he is a category A Manager, suited to Category B teams.
So, what of the future for Jose Mourinho. I imagine he will leave Man Utd at the end of the season having failed to win the league in three attempts. There may be another Category A job out there (Juventus/PSG?), but eventually Jose will run out of these opportunities (if he hasn’t already). At which point, he either retires as The Sour One, or takes a job at a Category B team (club or international), and has a renaissance of sorts.
He’s not finished. He’s just completely unsuitable for his current club, which as an Arsenal fan, is beautiful!
Spurs pulling an Arsenal
Your recent piece on Spurs’ bizarre abstention from the transfer market is dead on. We’re good enough to win something if we take all the competitions we’re in seriously, and it’s past time we did. But we just don’t have the depth. I agree it’s not easy to convince somebody to back up one of Kane, Eriksen, Alli, or Son, though we do have Lucas Moura now. But there have got to be midfielders around thinking, and rightly so, “I could get into that side ahead of a crocked Wanyama, a declining Dembele, an unproven Winks, or a whatever-he-actually-is Dier.” So let’s get out there and buy one of them!
What I really don’t want, but am afraid of, is that we pull an Arsenal with this new stadium, and deliberately don’t address positions of need in order to save money–but without even the satisfaction of having won things beforehand.
Winston, London (temporarily)
What’s going on at Bayern Munich?
The transfer of Arturo Vidal from Bayern to Barcelona caught my eye. Barcelona’s transfer business has been a bit erratic in recent years, and has misfired a lot more often than it has impressed. However, the transfer of player as complete as Vidal (for a reported £27M) should be fine business, even at the age of 31.
What surprised me in particular was that Bayern would let a player like Vidal go, given that they’ve lost former stalwarts like Lahm and Xabi Alonso in recent years.
When I thought about it for a second, I realised I’d lost track of what Bayern were up to with respect to squad-building. They’ve had an impressively familiar lineup for the better part of the last decade. But now when I cast my eye over their teamsheet I must admit that I’m only truly familiar with half of the names.
I can see that the gist of it is that they’ve been hoovering up (mostly) youngish German talent from their Bundesliga rivals.
But I was wondering if any German fans (or anyone who follows the Bundesliga closely) would be so kind as provide some deeper insight as to what has gone on at Bayern in recent years? What the club’s team-building, strategy seems to be, what the mood of the fans is, how the new project seems to be working?
Owls out of order
It’s been reported today that of all the clubs in the Football League, Sheffield Wednesday are the only ones to reject the terms offered by the BBC for the rights to broadcast radio commentaries of its games. The BBC have reportedly offered 10% to all clubs across the divisions for these rights and everyone else has agreed.
From what I can see on social media, this is a vary unpopular decision. The ‘solution’ being offered by the club is for fans to sign up for the clubs’ ifollow which is the digital platform that broadcasts audio commentary for both home and away games for £5 per month. Unfortunately, there are plenty of old fans who wont understand how to use the Clubs ifollow to hear the games (for a fee of £5 per month) and it means that those who can work it have to pay £60 per year to hear the away games that for as long as I can remember have been free to air on the radio.
Fans of lots of clubs have legitimate gripes about their clubs treating them as mere customers but this feels like a really cheap move from the Club. Shame on you Sheffield Wednesday.
Nick (Exiled in Leeds ) P
Q. Who is the only player to have won the Champions League, Uefa Cup, Uefa Super Cup, Premier league, FA Cup, Community Shield and been relegated?
A. Michael Owen
My pay it forward teaser: Which player has played alongside the 3 aforementioned quiz answers (Sol Campbell, Shay Given, Michael Owen) as well as John Terry and Wilfred Zaha?
…Which letter of the alphabet is used in the name of only one club, in the top four divisions of both English and Scottish football?
Nigel Brackets NZ
…The answer to Richard’s trivia question is easy:
Arsenal, Scunthorpe and Man-f***ing City
…Please, who is the only player to score in all of the following competitions:
Scottish League Cup
Clue: he used to play for my club