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Mourinho v Shaw
The way Jose went about it may have been wrong but the fact of the matter is Luke Shaw is a professional athlete with a pair of breasts a page 3 model would be proud of. In a time when nutrition and fitness in football are analysed daily, Shaw, an elite level player, cannot lay off the crisps & chocolate.
Jose has given Shaw tough love, he’s tried praise yet nothing seems to get through to a guy who although had a horrendous injury isn’t taking on-board anything his manager says to him. From an England perspective as well as a United one it’s a crying shame that it isn’t working out but the buck stops at the player, if he cannot be arsed being at the required fitness level to play for United then he needs to ship out to a team who doesn’t mind him having extra weight. But if you want to be seen as one of the best in the world you need to buckle down and do what is asked of you, not sit and whine how you are being unfairly treated then crack open another six pack of Walkers.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
…For a while now I’ve felt that there is something particularly wrong and borderline toxic about Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw. You may recall that Shaw turned down the chance to sign for Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2014. He instead signed for United, with Mourinho suggesting that the players wages were a sticking point whilst hinting that Shaw’s ‘greed’ had also been a factor.
Whilst I would not suggest that Shaw’s all round shit show at United is purely down to a grudge on Mourinho’s part, would anyone seriously tell me that the man’s above that kind of behaviour? His singling out of Shaw time and time again is bordering on bizarre and you genuinely feel there’s more to it.
Shaw has conducted himself admirably over the last couple of years whilst his character has been continually rubbished in public by his manager. Any idea that he needs to ‘accept it and get on with it’ is nonsense! In an era of increased player power he could have easily provided ‘sources’ with anecdotes that would have seen him portrayed more favourably as opposed to the complete unprofessional he has been. He’s a very rich man at a young age and could do without it!
Mourinho’s man management – on top of his dull playing style – will see him out of Old Trafford by the end of next season.
Mourinho is acting like he’s just walked in to a classroom full of unruly teenagers and he thinks he is the inspirational, ‘kick up the arse’ teacher they need. This is a squad he has had almost complete control over for 18 months.
Any lack of ‘personality’ is because he didn’t identify the flaw when signing the player, has trained the ‘personality’ out of the players he inherited or simply doesn’t know how to get the best out of the squad.
In the same time, Guardiola has improved the sum of the parts of the Man City squad immeasurably. Mourinho has no excuse. He has failed. He is not the coach to take this club forward. He cannot bear to be seen as being the cause of underachievement and so attacks every other facet of the club to deflect the blame.
Inter Milan have not recovered from his time in charge, Real Madrid won comparatively little under him despite the spending he deigns so critical, and his second stint at Chelsea ended with them in the bottom half of the table. What kind of ‘football heritage’ is that? By his own logic he is a second rate manager and doesn’t deserve the chance to continue as the manager of Manchester United.
…Enough is enough. Forget his ability, forget trophies, forget the narcissism. I’d rather have a club that allows the players to express themselves and wins nowt.
Mourinho out. Anyone would be better. Gary Neville would be preferable.
Paul, Man Utd
Where is Ed Woodward and the board and what the heck are they doing?
Mouninho’s rant basically came to this. United are a small club and they are lucky to have got hold of an elite title winning manager. This was exactly the Mourinho, United fans have been afraid of since day one. A narcissistic, self absorbed and at times delusional prick who fails to respect the hand that feeds hims.
However, what has been particularly galling has been the lack of response by the United board. Any employee who hurts the brand so spectacularly must be taken to task. What they must have done immediately is called Mourinho in for an explanation of his actions, berated and reprimanded him and instructed him to issue a formal apology for his actions. The PR team should have given Mourinho a written script from which to read from to ensure he does not say anything else in front of the media that could cause offense even by mistake.
But what does the board do? They hide inside their offices refusing to do anything. What can they do though, after all? If Mourinho can’t do the job, who can? This is the same board that chased targets in a drunken stupor under David Moyes. The same board who watched haplessly as Van Gaal bored everyone to tears while simultaneously failing to get results. It was the same board who allowed Mendes to dictate the timing and announcement of Van Gaal’s departure (and consequently Jose’s incoming). The same board who is completely dependent on the manager for every transfer decision. The same board that refuses to appoint a Director of Football / Technical Director / Head of Football Relations; anyone who can ensure the club has a coherent transfer strategy. Anyone at all other than the manager who possesses an iota of footballing acumen who can not only advise the board but to who the manager must, at times, defer to.
And because we have an impotent board, we have Mourinho; a manager on whom the board must rely on for everything. For deciding on all transfers. For deciding that coming 5th in the league is good enough. For deciding that spending over half a billion is just not enough. For deciding that departing limply at the first real challenge in CL is good enough. For deciding that United’s heritage is inferior to that of City, Sevilla and even Mourinho himself. For deciding that not winning the title while simultaneously failing in the CL is good enough.
Because what do they have if not Mourinho. A club where those in charge are absolutely incapable of taking charge or making key decisions. And this is what the mighty United has come to. Woodward is no doubt a branding and marketing wiz whom United can not afford to lose. But there are other areas where his knowledge is lacking an understandably so. If United are to truly succeed in the long run, they must immediately appoint an elite Director of Football and back him to the hilt. Without it, the post Ferguson years will continue to pile on more misery for the fans. Even if United do win the odd title or two.
Watching the Wigan v Saints FA Cup tie yesterday, I don’t think it’s hyperbole for me to say that Christian Walton’s “worldie” penalty save was the best I have ever witnessed. That ball was motoring at the speed of an Ian Woan thunderbolt; what hands of steel from the young lad to palm it away.
Walton was outstanding at the weekend, and many indicators point toward England’s goalkeeping prospects looking very healthy indeed in the medium term. Besides Brighton loanee Walton, there are a plethora of English ‘keepers in their early 20s finding their feet at Championship level: Blackman, Gunn, Johnstone, Bentley, Wildsmith, Peacock-Farrell, I could go on… the point being the production line of English goalkeeping is whirring along nicely.
Given the illustrious tradition of English goalkeepers, it’s high time someone finally took over the mantle that has never quite been passed on since Seaman’s retirement. It seems there are plenty of candidates that may look to fill those boots.
I’m tempted to back Pickford due to his pinpoint distribution, but I would love to see some of these perennial loanees be given a shot in a Premier League side.
How’s this for an idea?
While sitting at home watching Swansea vs Spurs in the FA Cup, VAR was used to see if Son’s goal was offside. Clive Allen was complaining that the crowd was not informed and that so many grounds are lacking the big screens, it occurred to me that there should be an app instead. In this way all the fans could follow the decision and remain informed.
Many big prem sides do have big screens but smaller sides in lower divisions are unlikely to have them now or in the future. An app is the answer. It could be triggered by Wi-Fi to the crowd just as the TV broadcasters are given the opportunity to show it.
My first thought was this could be worth a bob or two but the need to get permission from those broadcasters means they are unlikely to offer such a lucrative opportunity to little old me. Shame, I could have used a little extra cash. Still those that can, should, it would good for all.
Tom in Dubai
If I could turn back time…
The final of the Spanish 5-a-side national cup competition took place on Sunday afternoon with a town of fewer people than Basingstoke, – Jaen, ( who knocked Barca out in the semi´s), taking on a team from the east of Madrid, who are probably the best in Europe . The level of technical ability was simply stunning by the way.
However my main point is that the clock ran downwards and stopped for every moment whilst other non in-play stuff was going on, which brings me to that point about early VAR shenanigans whereby in the early stages of such a big change, of course things will take longer to get it all working in unison and smoothly .
It will be possible to have a VAR turn-around in the blink of an eye, so we just have to be patient, don´t we Howard ?
But, by introducing a timer that goes down from 45.00 each half, at the same time as introducing VAR would have been a pretty canny idea . Like sandwiching the bad news with positive bits .
When VAR has become a success, this ‘clear’ timing is the next major change i´d like to see used in football, hopefully to also eliminate time wasting .
Back in the epic final, Jaen were 3-1 down with five minutes to go yet against the run of play and things not really working out for them on the day, in front of 12,632 noisy spectators, managed to pull it back to 3-3 before the clock came down to zero . Jaen then went on to score the winner in extra time to win (for the second year in a row) as huge underdogs and become local heroes all over again.
Peter (did no-one even suspect UEFA a little bit when the “2 bloody englishers” tied each other!?) Andalucia.
Spurs’ home semi
It’s started. Well…it kind of started a month ago with Jason Cundy talking rubbish to get schmucks to call in to his failing Sports Bar programme…but now it’s gone mainstream. “SPURZZZZ have got an unfair advantage playing the semi final at home”
Tottenham finished 2nd last season and reached the semi final of the FA Cup. It wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that we could reach the last 4 again, because we’re a good side. I don’t remember a single pundit, journalist or even fan bring this ‘real possibility’ up before the season started because everyone was too busy laughing that we’d finish 7th because of the ‘Wembley hoodoo’. Only 14 of the 40 BBC Sport experts predicted us to finish in the top 4, with 10 of those predicting us to creep in 4th place. 36 of 40 pundits predicted we’d drop at least 2 places in the league, based on the venue we were moving to.
So what has changed? In my mind, nothing. We still have a much worse home record than last season in the league. We have 34 points from 45 at home this season. At the same stage last season, we had 41. This is in games where we’ve had anything from 55000 to 80000 home fans behind us. A home match in terms of attending fans.
The FA Cup Semi Final is played in front of a neutral crowd. What is the problem playing Spurs in front of a neutral crowd? We’ve lost the last 7 FA Cup Semi’s we’ve played there. The last one we won was 27 years ago. We’re ‘bottlers’ right? A club with 20 titles, 3 European Cups and countless other trophies, A club with fans so arrogant they used to sing ‘We’re Man Utd, we do what we want’ have been reduced by Mourinho to feckless crybabies. Their once untouchable aura now replaced with an inferiority complex, a whiny protesting voice piping out hard luck stories about how a team with an annual wage bill of £265m and a squad of 18 that cost over half a billion quid, can’t possibly compete in a neutral ground against a team that are BELOW THEM in the league.
Remember…”Lads, it’s Tottenham”…and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
I like Klopp, but his criticism of the fixture scheduling around the CL clash with Man City doesn’t make sense. He said:
“We play at 7.45 on Wednesday night and 12.45 on Saturday. The other team plays at 5.30. Can you imagine how big the difference is? It means the world.”
He’s complaining his team get 5 hours less rest and preparation time after facing Man City on the Wednesday before playing another game on the Saturday. Doesn’t that then mean Man City have 5 hours less rest and preparation time after facing Man Utd and before the return leg of the CL, which is the following Tuesday?
If such few hours does make the world of difference as claimed, going by his argument shouldn’t he be pleased Man City have less rest prior to the second leg? That’s probably the most important fixture for both teams and he is therefore the beneficiary of the scheduling.
I really wish the media would stop encouraging managers to complain about scheduling just for soundbites. It’s like players showing dissent to referees: complaining won’t change anything so it ultimately serves no purpose other than to show you’re unsporting side.
One Mo season, please
You know that feeling when you’ve got a player who is just too good to stay? This time it’s Salah.
Give us one more season please.
Aidan (very happy Paddy’s day)
The Salah goal over the weekend got me thinking. Look back at over all the great mazey/slalom-y/dribbly goals you can think of, and now try remember all the great thunderbastards you can think of.
Is it just me or don’t the slalom-y goals tend to play across our screen right to left? And don’t the thunderbastards tends to play out left to right?
George Weah, Maradona Vs England, real Ronaldo lollipop goal with inter, Ronaldo vs Fulham, that Messi goal… all right to left
Zidane volley in CL final and, erm, can’t think of any other iconic thunderbastards right now… left to right.
Of course what direction it plays in depends on the camera we are viewing but most goals tend to be remembered in a particular classic view, and I’m sure there is a huge degree of recall bias, but am I on to something or am I talking out of my arse?
It’s not too late
As the season draws to a close, with the title race is all but done in England and most of the other leagues around Europe, I got to thinking whether any club could escape from the clutches of relegation with an unlikely upturn in form.
Last year it happened in Italy and almost went unnoticed. Crotone, promoted the previous season were widely predicted to go down and looked set to better those expectations by barely taking a point. Eight weeks into season they had a solitary draw to their name, and despite winning three of their next five home games their form away from home remained shambolic – think 2017 Burnley minus the defensive solidarity.
With 28 games played they had just 17 points, losing 90% of their away games and drawing the other two. They were as good as dead, barely twitching on the canvas.
On the second of April, dead last in the table and over ten points from safety, something incredible began happening.
First they beat mid-table Chievo for a maiden away victory, and followed it up by beating Inter at home. They picked up another four points away to European contenders Torino and Sampdoria, drew against Milan and beat relegation rivals Pescara and Udinese.
Crotone lost their next game away to leaders Juventus – like most teams in Italy did that year – and despite the late revival still needed to beat Lazio on the final day to guarantee survival.
They won 3-1 to cap an incredible run of form that saw them equal their points tally from the first 29 games in the final six weeks of the season, escaping relegation by two points. After taking only two points on their travels until April they gained ten in the final five games, losing only to eventual champions Juve.
So can any team in Europe match the achievement of Crotone this season?
WBA have previous form for unlikely escapes but look lost under Pardew. Pardew looks equally lost.
Köln and Hamburg are close enough if good enough, but don’t appear to have it in them currently.
Malaga, much like Crotone circa 2017, look as good as gone being fourteen points from safety with only twelve games left.
What price Benevento – the team who made an even worse start than Crotone did last season – continue their recent revival and bridge the fifteen point gap to safety, condemning Crotone to the relegation they so miraculously escaped last year?
Who knows? But as Crotone proved last year, it’s still early yet.
Storey called it
From Football365 last week: “Jose Holebas might well be the victim of a forward motivated to make amends… We could be in for an interesting spectacle.” As Andy Gray might have said back in the day, “Take a bow, Daniel Storey, take a bow, son”
Blades of glory
In anticipation of Monday’s Winners & Losers, if Leicester’s grounds people are not recognised for their efforts with a lawn mower it will be an outrage and I will forthwith be cancelling my internet service and covering my phone screen with gaffer tape.
M Joyce (visually distracted from the football)
Best songs this season
After a period of few genuinely new chants, Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s emergence has spawned two of my current favourites:
“Their wingers don’t like him. Wan-Bissaka, Wan-Bissaka!” To the tune of Rock the Casbah, and;
“Wan-Bissaka, Two-Bissaka, Three-Bissaka, Four. Five-Bissaka, Six-Bissaka, Seven-Bissaka, more.”
Interested to hear what are the best chants other mailboxers have heard this season.
Planet Sport interview: Federer conqueror Del Potro on how he nearly quit tennis in 2015 (Tennis365).