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Lukaku DOES lack football intelligence
Just before the season began, Mediawatch was on the throats of all the papers that were peddling the narrative that Lukaku was not more football intelligent than Morata. And an entire planet of F365 Mailers joined in this symphony. As always the case, numbers were thrown to show the number of goals Lukaku had scored for Everton in the two seasons he was with them. The unofficial conclusion was that, we can’t group footballers in terms of intelligence.
Lukaku began the season on a high scoring eight goals in his first eight appearances. On paper this looked like a very good start, in practice it wasn’t, not in a mile. He was constantly dominated by defenders, he lost possession far too often, he significantly derailed United’s attacking play and was absent for long spells during play.
Since his goal drought began (am excluding the goal against Newcastle) the cracks in his came have become valleys and sad to say, his wall is crumbling. What United did was to replace Rooney with another Rooney in Lukaku albeit one who can score on accasion.
Lukaku over relies on the supply that he gets ftom his team mates. And even when he gets good balls, he actively looks for a special way to ruin play. As a result he makes the rest of the team appear insipid. How many assists would Rashford or Martial have bagged so far if Lukaku hadn’t been so wasteful of chances? It’s no wonder Rashford’s game is deteriorating, one can only do so much.
Talking of football intelligence, there is such a thing. The quick tiki-taka between Zlatan and Pogba at the edge of Brighton’s box that led to Zlatan’s shot (though it was miles off target) is a good example of football intelligence. Such quick play is something totally foreign to Lukaku, he takes eons with the ball on his feet trying to dribble, something he has never mustered and probably never will. Recall his goal Vs Newcastle, he took ages, such a goal can get past Bravo or Cech or any experienced goalie, it’s the incompetence of Rob Elliot not the genius of Lukaku that allowed that goal.
In every definition of the term Lukaku lucks football inteligence: He is quick but does not know how to utilise his speed, he has strength and stamina but allows defenders to bully him out of possession and his pass success rate especially during a counter attack is was beyond deplorable. He does not know how to position himself in the opposition’s box.
Mirror his attack with that of Morata. He avoids defenders, creates chances, scores and assists. Nobody in Chelsea actually realises that Costa is gone. While at United, we are stuck at the same point we were last season and the season before and the one before that. We lack a world-class striker, one who is intelligent enough to learn the flow of the game, open up defenses and make the players around him shine.
Thank the stars The Lion is back. I Hope Zlatan gets more play time and shows Lukaku how it’s done. Because so far, watching Lukaku is a little bit less entertaining than watching grass grow.
Elvince Ager, Nairobi
Jose did this against Liverpool…
Didn’t surprise me one bit when Man United’s attack was included in the losers section. It’s been a few games now and their is zero link from the midfield to the forwards. Martial and Rashford were taking the ball off Smalling and Lindelof for Christ’s sake. Micki and Mata need to desperately come back into form.
And all of this can be traced back to the Liverpool game. As much as Jose apologisers will point to the point we ‘gained’ at Anfield, it was a dispiriting performance and told the players Jose doesn’t trust them enough to go toe to toe with the other big teams. It’s destroyed momentum and confidence which are crucial coming into November and December. This is exactly where Chelsea won the title last season and is probably where City build an unassailable lead this season.
Doc, Los Angeles. (Oh and it’s Anfield not a damn gladiatorial arena. Hell LVG won there 2 out of 3 times he visited.)
United look knackered
Did anyone else think United looked knackered and devoid of ideas as they (just) beat Brighton on Saturday? It looks like two games per week is already taking its toll – and there’s nearly six months to go still!
Nigel Downs, Geneva
* Should we just give City the title right now? If even when your luck seems out you win 2-1 is there any reason to bother. Only one team is within eight points and that’s Utd and if the team doesn’t get six points against Watford and Arsenal (we got none from the corresponding fixtures last year) this week the Derby might be redundant.
* Speaking of which I don’t co-sign the mails about Zlatan stopping us from scoring due to a lack of pace he’s got an ingredient we don’t have a lot of intelligence and movement and it showed against Brighton with probably our best move of the night.
Speaking of pace why don’t the front three (Marcus ,Martial and Redrom) interchange a bit more each one hates being on the right and they all think their best position is striker so chop and change a bit a la Liverpool with the player consigned to the wing having the responsibility to track back when we lose the ball.
* Has any manager see his stock fall further than De Bosz in the last five months (Okay put your hand down Mr Koeman ) just when you felt his season couldn’t get worse he manages to watch his team lose a four-goal lead against the only team Dortmund fans hate losing to more than Bayern.
Not that Bayern can be smug after losing to old foes Monchegla….(the German team) A draw ain’t the worst result in the world but if they keep this up he’ll be gone before the Christmas break.
* The Valencia-Barca refereeing controversy is making me wonder out loud why there is not one set of standards set for the top leagues. Spain which claims alongside the EPL to be the best league doesn’t have goal line technology Italy already uses VAR.
So a truly diabolical decision like Messi’s disallowed goal can now only occur in Spain. It gives us something to talk about though.
* I know Tactics Tim Sherwood shouldn’t be anyone’s guide on European football but on a television program I had the opportunity to watch he said the following “Monaco are in a weak French league were there only job is to finish second to PSG”) I’ve got two problems with that one Monaco are still the defending champions and after losing to PSG this weekend they have dropped to third behind Lyon so the job isn’t as easy as it seems.
* And finally after not contributing anything all season congratulations to Justin Kluivert for his first hat-trick and for making me feel really old
Timi, MUFC (really really old)
There has been a lot of talk recently about Jordan Henderson being a poor captain because he doesn’t ‘lead by example’… ‘grab the game by the scruff of the neck’… shout at his team mates and tell them to play with more ‘Pashun’.
I wholeheartedly agreed with this until this weekend when I realised at the top sides the captains are:-
Chelsea – Gary Cahill – seems very quiet and definitely on the way down
City – Silva – seems to just play his football and glide around the pitch like a majestic swan across an autumnal pond (The gliding not his football).
Man Utd – Valencia – races up and down the touch line but never seems to say anything
Arsenal – do they have a captain !?
Spurs – they seem to pass it around don’t they !?
Anyway the point is that I am not sure in this day and age you need a Roy Keane. You need a dedicated close knit band of very good footballers who respect each other enough to do their jobs and cover for their team mates. Therefore the real answer is that Henderson just isn’t playing very well at the minute which means there is a gaping whole in midfield where the opposition engage and pressure the back line thus making us look very vulnerable and therefore leaderless…
Ian (Graeme Souness was our best captain) – LFC
On the sheer brilliance of Pep
The greatness of Ferguson was again highlighted today in a mail and no matter how grudgingly I admit he is indeed right there amongst the greatest managers of all time.
Amongst the currently active managers, I’m convinced without a shred of doubt that Pep Gaurdiola is by far the best. And certainly could end up as the GOAT manager by the team he calls it a day. Now everyone knows his phenomenal record and his perfectionist attitude and his attention to detail and his tactical genius etc. All that has been said thousands of times by men much more knowledgeable than me.
But it’s the small things he does ever so often which makes him so much more better than the rest. A couple of small points as I wrapped up watching the win against Huddersfield a few minutes ago.
1. Drawing 1-1 away from home. 80th minute. Still a healthy six-point lead at the top of the table. And he replaces one of the two CBs with a CF. They are unbeaten so far, which obviously is a big deal. And this gamble can easily lead to an end of the unbeaten run at that point. Hence most managers wouldn’t take the gamble. Not Guardiola. Easily takes the risk. Which obviously pays off.
2. Against my team ( Arsenal ) a couple of weeks ago. Leading 2-0 against a decently strong opponent and manager when his team concedes to make it 2-1. Most managers at that time would have parked the metaphorical bus to hold on to the victory. Not Guardiola. He does the exact opposite. Goes on the offensive. Further attacking. They obviously score again ( albeit with a little help from the linesman) to make it 3 – 1.
This intense desire to attack all the time, to always play beautiful football, to always win and always score goals. This for me makes him a class above the rest.
After all football is a beautiful game about goals.
Here’s to Pep Gaurdiola.
Shubhanshu Chawla, 30, Arsenal. India ( someone’s got to stop the unbeaten run though, the golden trophy is ours)
Stop w***ing about Pep
Matt put your winkie away and get a grip, City were gifted the points by a soft penalty and a fluke, yes they are playing well but everything is going their way at the moment, contentious decisions (red cards, penalties, deflections, injuries etc). The massive media circle jerk regarding City is nauseating, hyperbolic overreaction to every little thing they do “oh Pep blew his nose making the left back look at him slightly allowing Sane to cross the ball, the mans a genius” Let’s see how they cope when they lose an important attacking player such a de Bruyne or Silva for a few months.
So yes they are playing well but they are also getting a lot of luck at the moment so leave the over zealous over reactions to the Red Tops please.
Paul Murphy, Manchester (The Red part)
Conclusions on that Arsenal win
I was hoping you guys would do a feature on this game afterwards but you didn’t, so here is my take…
We passed the test, just.
Our 427th last minute winner against Burnley in the past two seasons.
We seem to have a renewed defensive focus after the shambles at Anfield.
Koscielny alluded to this after the game saying we are now defending as a team, knowing our attack can win us games, problem is, this isn’t the first time the team has had a defensive epiphany over the years only to suffer defensive amnesia and the wheels fall off…
While I don’t think a Xhaka-Ramsay partnership will ever win us a league title it does seem that they have found some balance. It was also noticeable that Xhaka played the ball quickly when facing his own goal – deliberately avoiding the Burnley press after having a couple of turnovers which led to goals this season.
Credit to Burnley, they may be overachieving this season but there’s a reason they are so frustrating to play against. They mix it up, short passes with wing play, long balls, and aren’t slow to whip the ball into the box. Stability goes a long way, a settled squad and manager with good organization. They cover each other when out of position so well. Look down the league and try and find a more committed side.
What was the difference between this game and the (unlucky) loss at Stoke at the start of the season?
We didn’t concede and had a favourable decision, that is about it. The stoke-Lacazette disallowed goal and penalty decision still grate – We went to Anfield the game after and I think it affected us and the team in terms of momentum.
Did we deserve this win? Maybe, maybe not, but credit to Wenger for squeezing the pitch in the second half knowing we had a speedy defence that “shouldn’t” get caught out with a ball over the top. It meant we were in the game more second half.
Was it a penalty? I’ve seen softer this season, Richarlison, Sterling, Niasse etc, besides, in and around the 65th minute Bellerin is taken out and nobody says a word. It’s one of those calls where the tackle happens on the byline and Brady is already on the ground – a long slide tackle if you will – before he takes down Bellerin, it looks less clumsy or reckless than a quick lunge but it was a clear penalty.
We now face Huddersfield at home with Spurs, United and Liverpool all facing tricky midweek away fixtures.
All in all a good week for Arsenal until the wheels come falling off again.
Strevs, Afc, Canada
Those Burnley fans though…
Watching the Burnley vs Arsenal game yesterday, I was struck with the incredible partisan nature of the crowd. I don’t mean fervent passionate get behind your team partisan, I mean boo the other team and every single decision that is given or not given against you. It was absolutely remarkable. Handball shouts every two minutes, baying for blood with every Arsenal tackle. It got me thinking about the basis of football support.
Do these fans go to a match to vent and release the frustrations they have in every day life? How can it be fun to spend 90 minutes with your eyes bulging out of your head screaming at blokes chasing a football. Perhaps they should spend more time actually supporting their own team then on their obsession with Arsenal. Diving, cheating, Arsenal.
Burnley Twitter after the game was quite a thing. Apparently Arsenal should have had two players sent off, spent the whole game diving, and dived to win the 92nd min penalty. I honestly had no idea who they meant. Turned out they meant Xhaka (for one of the best tackles of the season) and Mustafi for persistent fouling (four fouls). Ashley Barnes spent 90 minutes throwing himself to the ground at every opportunity. Diving I call it. Don’t recall an Arsenal, that’s isn’t to say there wasn’t one however.
Ignoring the actual penalty for a second, Bellerin was clearly fouled in the box in the second half giving Arsenal their sixth blatant non penalty of the season (yes I’m counting). No mention of that from Burnley fans. And as for the penalty it’s a push, a clear push, in the box. Penalty. 100%. Oddly just the sort of ones Arsenal haven’t been given for a while now.
I wondered what drives a fan to be so one eyed, to literally ignore everything that went on in the game and stick to their pre conceived ideas of what ‘would’ happen during the game and stick to it before, during, and after the game. Then I remembered that over 70% of Burnley voted for Brexit. And I stopped wondering.
A new floor record?
Does anyone record stats for time spent on the ground? If so I’m pretty sure Ashley Barnes has broken the record today. He’s barely stood up.
Dyche to Everton?
Beating Spurs was pretty sweet, but beating a bunch of dirty cheating b*stars in their own back yard in front of their baying fans in a slightly controversial manner comes pretty close. It makes up for them getting away with almost anything they wanted but when our players went within breathing distance of theirs, it was always a foul.
As for Dyche, he is a good manager and and excellent organiser but I’m not sure where this persona of him being tough comes from. To me he just seems like a moany, grumpy fat man. Is he ever not moaning about something?
Good manager though and I don’t know why Everton are not snapping him up considering what is going on there. They are in a bad position but are a club with bags of potential and surely if he has any ambition of managing at a higher level, that would be the perfect stepping stone for him.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
1. Has a caretaker manager ever been sacked?
2. When was the last time Southampton scored four?
3. What has happened to Williams, Keane and Schneiderlin?
4. Why do we still have Angry Birds on our shirts?
5. How is it that the only game City haven’t won so far in the league was against us?
Matt, EFC, London
Peter G’s weekend thoughts
* Far be it from me to figure out someone who names his kid Wolf Nine, but these days Andy Carroll only looks interested every ten minutes or so. He isn’t even a dangerous target anymore. Chicharito can’t come back too soon. Oh, and David Moyes’ new idea is to play Manuel Lanzini deep and Cheikhou Kouyaté up high. Can that possibly work? Doesn’t Lanzini have to be as close as possible to the front men?
* Swansea were awful for the first half hour against Bournemouth, and you could see Paul Clement checking flight schedules on his iPhone. Then out of nowhere they took control of the game, with Renato Sanches, Jordan Ayew, and Wilfried Bony combining beautifully but somehow still failing to test the keeper seriously. In the 70th minute Clement made one of the all-time counter-intuitive substitutions, Leroy Fer for Sanches, and Fer damn near won the game with a wonderful solo run, but couldn’t put in his own rebound. But there’s life in the Swans yet.
* Gooner, London wondered whether Willian’s goal reminded anyone of Ronaldinho vs Seaman. But anyone from the USA (or parts of West London) will tell you it was a tribute to Clint Dempsey’s immortal did-he-mean-it goal for Fulham against Juventus in the Europa League
* Last week I was drummed out of the Premier League Hipsters Society for not knowing that Marvin Zeegelaar was in the Watford squad, and indeed not knowing who Marvin Zeegelaar even was. Turns out he’s played in Holland, Turkey, Portugal, and the height of his career, Blackpool (two appearances back in 2013!). Looks like a passable left wing-back, decent pace, good crosser. He’ll do for Watford until the next one comes along.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Ed’s weekend thoughts
* Does every team think they concede more goals in the last minute than they score, or is it just Crystal Palace? Admittedly, it’s almost 20 years since we won a Premier League home game with a goal after the 90th minute, so it may be an extreme example, but we can’t be the only fans who feel this way.
* This was a game low on quality, but largely an even contest. The home side had more shots on target than Stoke City (5-3), but the overall attempts were 10 apiece. Both teams had chances to win the game, and defying expectations, it was the Eagles who took theirs.
* Roy Hodgson took a gamble with his team selection, sticking with the strikerless 4-4-2 that he has been using for the past few weeks out of necessity. He then withdrew James McArthur, who had arguably had his side’s best chance of the first half, in favour of Christian Benteke. As ever I’m obligated to point out this is possibly harsh on McArthur but ultimately the right call, and the team looks better in a 4-2-3-1.
Quotes from Jason Puncheon this week suggested that he had no issue with being dropped, and was prepared to fight for a place in the team. I wonder how long it will be before similar quotes appear from Scott Dann. There cannot be many teams with two former captains on their bench but the side do look a lot better without either of them – the midfield looks more capable, and the centre-back pairing of James Tomkins and Mamadou Sakho (in the rainbow armband) was far more assured.
* Benteke himself did not have the best of games, and still appears rather rusty. However, his introduction had a positive effect on the players around him, most notably Andros Townsend, Wilfried Zaha and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, interchanging positions behind him. Jermaine Jenas praised the relationship between Zaha and Loftus-Cheek on MOTD, and they posed problems for City’s defence all afternoon.
* Xherdan Shaqiri’s goal was very well taken, although I couldn’t help wondering if it asked a question about Wayne Hennessey. The shot did not seem that powerfully struck, or hit with swerve/spin, and yet, Hennessey, who was brought into the side for his extra height, either failed to reach it or failed to react quick enough. Can any goalkeepers reading this who saw the goal let me know whether or not I’m being harsh.
* Following Palace’s game against Tottenham, someone on the Totally Football Show pointed out that the Eagles didn’t let their heads drop after conceding, and got straight back on with the job. The same thing applied here against City, and the home side hit back straight away, as Zaha and Benteke made nuisances of themselves enough to distract the defence and allow the ball to slip through to Loftus-Cheek, who fired home.
* That goalline clearance of a City chance by Ryan Shawcross, when it was far, far easier to score, was the exact opposite of that Iain Dowie own goal we all know and love. Unlike in countless previous games, the Eagles were able to punish their opponents, when a last-second corner saw the ball worked to Yohan Cabaye, whose shot rebounded straight to Sakho, who slotted home.
* The Eagles are now just three points from safety, such is the general rubbishness of the bottom half of the table, and everyone up to Brighton & Hove Albion (9th, 16 points) still sort of in the mix. Next up for Palace are the Seagulls, in the “why is this a derby they’re nowhere near each other” derby.
Respect for Neil Ashton
I am a committed watcher of The Supplement on Sky on Sunday morning. For those who also watch the guests can be a real mixed bag. You get your fair share of one-eyed journos who beat the same agenda drum that they do in their respective papers every day (you know who I’m talking about), as well as both your established, and up and coming journos, who provide real insight into the football world both on and off the pitch.
The one constant on the show though is Neil Ashton. As an avid daily reader of Mediawatch, Neil comes in for some real stick, most of which I have to say is fair copy. The paper he writes for demands those types of stories and associated hyperbole. However on The Supplement he comes across a completely different person. He is clearly intelligent and it seems he has a very knowledgeable understanding of all aspects of the game. He asks very insightful and leading questions on the current football issues of the day.
To his credit, he has not shied away from some of the more distasteful issues in today’s game, such as the treatment of Eniola Aluko and even the recent abuse Adam Crafton has been subjected to on Twitter. On Sunday’s episode he opened the show discussing the rainbow laces campaign, an issue a lot of football fans know little about. These may not be subject matters that will increase viewer numbers but importantly they are very real issues that the game needs to talk honestly about. Neil should be applauded for using the platform of the Supplement to raise these issues and present them in a respectful and considerate manner.
Ironically, writing for ‘that’ paper may help as he often comes across as playing devil’s advocate. Asking the questions he would not necessarily want to answer so forthright in his paper.
I’m not going to shed a tear for the pasting Neil gets almost on a daily basis in Mediawatch but equally we should give credit where credit is due to Neil for hosting a show that could very easily have descended into tabloid tomfoolery or even worse sun sh*thousery, if it wasn’t for his stewardship.
Keep up the good work.
Charlie Rose (CTID)