Keep those Mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Early in the season, TV commentators were going on about how Mourinho had assembled a very tall team. The actual phrase I remember was ‘… a team of giants.’ There was some truth in that comment in that we already had Jones (when he is fit enough to play) plus Smalling and Rojo. Then add Baily, Matic, Lukaku and Pogba and I thought we were going to ace corner kicks and set pieces and score cheap goals galore. I also thought we were going to be more defensively sound from those same corner kicks and set pieces at the other end.
Nothing could be further from the truth because we are no better than last season’s side in that we don’t score too many from those situations where commentators might say something like ‘…United have got a corner…’ in an excited sort of tone. You know, as if there was some sort of real expectation of an imminent goal. The commentators should really have saved their excitement for similar situations at the other end of the pitch because that’s where the thrills are. Smalling and Rojo in particular continually have their arms around an attacker’s waist or shoulders or are pulling their shirts. For me, a lot of them are dead set penalties but all teams do it so I suppose it’s the new norm.
No doubt someone will have an App on their ‘phone or will go to some statistics football site to prove that I’m talking bollocks. Don’t bother, just start watching United’s games to see the truth.
As for all the criticism of Lukaku, well Mourinho surely knew what he was buying. None of us, in fairness to the player, can point the finger at Lukaku for not being the player we had all hoped and longed for, rather than the player he still actually is. My only real criticism of the player is that, for such a large man, he frequently gets shoved off the ball by smaller, less muscular players.
Actually, I’ve got one more criticism in that he is quite slow off the mark. Fair enough, he’s carrying a lot of bulk but I’ve written in before (about one of my all-time favourites, Denis Law and how his acceleration off a standing start was just fabulous and got him many, many goals). OK, Lukaku is never going to emulate Law or even Michael Owen but I’ve always wondered whether clubs hire not just sprint coaches, but dedicated acceleration coaches. On reading that bit back, it sounds a bit silly but I’m fairly certain that Olympic class sprinters have access to that type of help.
And aren’t footballers supposed to be elite athletes anyway? I have no idea whether clubs engage this type of coach or not but maybe they should?
Standards of behaviour
It might be old fashioned, it might be just plain conservative, but I expect that the manager of Manchester United should conduct himself in a manner that reflects positively on the club, the players and the history. Jose Mourinho is straying from any standards in his comments to the media, and his behaviour in tunnels and elsewhere. His sneering commentaries about matches, players, other teams and more are not worthy of a United manager. Is there no one to control or advise him? Is this seen as good management? It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And then there is the football being played!
Salary cap nonsense
Andrew – Canada’s totes sarcastic email covers one of those topics that really grinds my gears – namely salary caps.
Bravo NFL/NBA, etc, etc for putting that in place, it retains a modicum of competition in the most capitalistic, winner-takes-all society on planet Earth. It makes for an exciting spectacle with genuine hope for a large number of teams at the start of each season being crowned the winners of their respective league. Good for them.
People regularly propose a salary cap in the Premier League and almost hold their hands up in despair that no-one else can see that this is the obvious answer. Well I have news for you guys – it would never work over here.
Why? Because the set up couldn’t be more different.
In American sport, there is one utterly dominant league that is the pinnacle of their individual sports. No-one comes remotely close. So they have the pick of ALL elite players between themselves (most of whom are American anyway). A salary cap and draft system is logical and sensible.
In proper football, it is a world game, played to a high standard in most continents with players from all four corners and several leagues all with valid arguments for being the bestest league in the world. The competition and variety is enormous.
Lets say we go radical and introduce a salary cap in the PL. To work it would also have to be set at a level that ensures it isn’t just a paper pushing exercise (difficult given FA/UEFA/FIFA etc but bear with me). So that means it needs to be set at a level somewhere in the middle of the earnings table for current PL teams.
Great. Off we go, and suddenly the playing field is literally levelled and competition is boosted. Burnley win the PL by grinding out 38 1-0 victories. Man Utd are relegated. Happy days.
But what is this? All of a sudden, our ability to attract world talent to these shores is limited because our clubs have less money to spend on wages. They cannot buy the next Messi and those dastardly Spaniards and Germans, who remain salary cap free, simply offer these superstars more money and our brave egalitarian clubs miss out. Even more horrifying, John Bull, the latest English yeoman centre-half who bleeds three lions leaves the country for a despicable, cheating Italian team unencumbered by the salary cap. The horror!
English teams suddenly find themselves on a par with Portuguese or Dutch clubs – regular group stage attendees but very rare forays into the latter stages of the CL. The league suffers a dip in quality, passion remains high but the interest wains. Those foreign TV rights diminish as they switch focus on the leagues that attract the aforementioned top, top talent. The PL suffers, less money flows into the game, clubs are poorer as a result.
Even if a miracle occurs and all European leagues somehow agrees a joint salary cap we will have Chinese and others taking advantage and offering more. Enticing the talent away from Europe and the traditional powers.
All this is not necessarily a bad thing, a salary cap and increasing competition amongst PL teams would be brilliant to see. But all this is predicated on the clubs voting for this change in the first place, and I bet you the scenario mentioned above would be one that is swilling about in their minds.
So, lovely idea, but please can all those advocating for it take a moment or two to consider the implications of such a plan.
Rob (come on Burnley, do a Leicester!), Leicester
Football started in 1992…
I have no idea what Gavin was going on about this morning.
1931. Football ?
Seems someone doesn’t realise that Football started in 1992, so all he said, is irrelevant…..
Neil (putting his tongue in a cheek since 1992) here.
Bye bye, Pep :'(
It will be sorry to say goodbye to Guardiola at some point next season, won’t it? It will be by my ruthless calculations at least. Since the 05/06 season, only Sir Alex Ferguson has managed to stay at a club longer than one season, after winning the Premiership (06/07/08/09, 10/11).
Mourinho (05/06), Ancelotti (09/10), Mancini (11/12), even Fergie (12/13), Pellegrini (13/14), Mourinho (14/15), Ranieri (15/16) and the yet to depart, but inevitable, Conte (16/17).
So unless Pep can manage consecutive title wins, or gets a Knighthood, by my calculations he is a dead man walking.
Jamie Finnegan YNWA
Two sides to every argument
I have been dipping in and out of the mailbox on a far more casual basis these days due to a number of factors so its been a while since I last attempted an email and this could be a few days late and now off topic.
City beat us fair and square on Sunday and its been a feature of the Jose reign that we are not good enough against our direct rivals. However what has caught my attention has been the recycling of the money conversation and how City have bought this success. There are obviously 2 very distinct sides to this argument and they will never meet in the middle and agree on anything.
My simple view of the entire subject is as follows……
Did your money and ability to generate money come on the back of success on the pitch i.e. United, Liverpool, Arsenal ?
Did your success on the pitch come on the back of money “generated” off the pitch i.e Chelsea, City, PSG?
Plato – MUFC
Just thought I’d throw something out there regarding the whole finance debate surrounding Man City and other clubs. To preface this, I have no problem with Man City spending money. They have it, why not use it? Sure, they may not have earned it the same way United did, but that doesn’t mean they should be any less ambitious.
Anyway, there’s one thing that does kind of annoy me about the revisionism surrounding City. Back in the 00’s when the takeover occurred, the top end clubs were spending relative pittance compared to nowadays. United spent less than 10m each on Van Der Sar, Evra, Vidic, and others. Top talents like Ronaldo cost 12m, future England international Michael Carrick cost less than 20. Of course there were exceptions such as Ferdinand and Rooney, but let’s face it- they were both outrageous talents who would probably cost over 100m today (looking at you M’
City on the other hand, were not a top end club. They had money to burn and fair enough. They burned it. Players such as Roque Santa Cruz, Joleon Lescott and others were purchased for prices well beyond their value, with wages to boot. Now they key thing here is not that these were good or bad players, but that City rather massively inflated the market. In a bid to take that first step towards becoming a trophy winning side, Mark Hughes and company made it so that United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal were all forced to double up on their spending to avoid being left behind. Two of the aforementioned realised this quickly, and went on win league titles and more beyond 2008. The other two are now playing catch up.
Anyway, my point is that City made every club outside the top few start to value any flash in the pan they stumbled upon at 8 figures minimum. Other teams such as United are guilty of this too, but never to such an outrageous degree, and always with money they earned through years of winning and marketing. City have to take some responsibility for the insanity of the current market, much like PSG this summer with M’bappe.
Jon, Muddled thoughts but there’s a point in there somewhere, Nottingham
Christmas is cancelled
Just looking at Allardyce’s comments regarding cancelling Everton’s Christmas party. Not sure how Everton fans would respond to it but I think behind the immediate “scrooge” reaction his comments are actually very sensible.
It does however chime nicely with a big club in chaos in the Swiss leagues at the moment. When listing Swiss clubs, I doubt that many in the UK would immediately think of FC Sion but this is a club that just two seasons ago earned two creditable draws against Liverpool and qualified from the Europa League group stage (which, for the 2nd tier Swiss sides, is a solid achievement) as well as being perennial winners of the Swiss Cup (winning 13 of the 14 finals they have reached). As some may know, Sion are bankrolled by a wealthy benefactor Christian Constantin, who for the uninitiated is best described as making Massimo Cellino seem like a calm and reasonable individual in comparison.
Constantin is currently serving a year long stadium ban for physically attacking a TV pundit after a recent match, and FC Sion are currently bottom of the Swiss league with one game to go before the winter break. Already on his fourth head coach of 2017, “CC” has now publicly undermined the current coaching team by suggesting that results would be better if he was allowed to be in the stadiums to put a rocket up the players – and as he cannot do so in person, he used the tabloid press to announce that if the side lose on Saturday against FC St Gallen and are bottom over the winter break, he’ll be sending the entire squad to a two week Foreign Legion training boot camp in Guyana.
So chin up Rooney & co – Christmas may be cancelled but it really could be a lot worse.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (by my count, 43 changes of manager since he took over the club in 2003, including appointing himself as manager twice)
Klopp deserves more credit
Klopp’s honeymoon period with the media seems to have been over and the question on everyone’s mind seems to be whether the Emperor have any clothes on after all.
Even as a United fan, I can’t help but look at with envy at the job he has done so far. Liverpool have the perfect attack of that there can be no doubt. The additions of Naby Keita in central midfield and maybe one to two defenders will add the much needed backbone to an already strong team. If he invest wisely in the squad next year spending roughly around 100 million (perfectly reasonable given that they have a net spent of only around 30 m over the last 2 years) who is to say they can not become title challengers next year. That would be an incredible feat given the budgets Liverpool has in comparison to some of the other top clubs.
Klopp is replicating his model from Germany and building a great team from relatively limited resources. Short term-ism is not always the answer. If the solution is to buy a good but not great player this year and let him be a burden on the club for years rather than wait a year to buy the best, Klopp is very clear on which he would prefer and most businessmen would agree it is an astute strategy.
Currently, Liverpool seem among the favorites to finish in the top 4 and if they do so, weak defense or not, it would still be an outstanding achievement. The big guns better be wary of this team next year.
Adeel from Pakistan
I wouldn’t swap Zaha for any player in the world
Never leave Selhurst early. Completely uninspiring 89 minutes of slow build up play, barely any second balls won and a number of misplaced passes, was followed by 3 minutes of mayhem. We didn’t deserve to win, not by a long shot. Watford didn’t particularly deserve to win either, a coherent first half from them was followed by a second that seemed intent only on running the clock down and preventing any momentum building.
For the first time I can remember, Hodgson made all 3 subs. Cabaye has been carrying an injury for at least 3 games now and can’t go beyond about 70 mins, Fosu-Mensah also had to come off so I’m not sure how much credit you can give to the manager for those, although he has already said he wouldn’t take it anyway. Two of them scoring provides a massive boost for the squad as we go in to an intense fixture list, especially considering the lack of depth we have.
Great to see Roy as the early winner. But is there a more important player to his team than Wilfried Zaha? His cut inside and shot produced the equaliser last night, then he provided the assist for the winner. On Saturday he won two penalties, one of which obviously being missed. Against West Ham he scored the 97th minute equaliser. Against Chelsea he scored the winner. He scored the second against Everton.
This isn’t a new thing either, he has been doing it for years. When we got promoted in 2013 it was Wilf who stepped up after Glenn Murray got injured to score 2 goals against Brighton in the Play-Off Semi Final. It was Wilf who then won the penalty converted by Kevin Phillips as we won the Play-Off Final. There are many more moments in between and all from a kid who grew up within half a mile of Selhurst Park. I honestly wouldn’t swap him for any other player in the World. I’m obviously not saying he is better than Messi but for what he does, what he means to us, how much he loves the club, he is irreplaceable.