Man City have been sussed. What now, Pep?

Date published: Monday 9th December 2019 2:52

Watch West Ham v Arsenal tonight then send your thoughts to…

City have been sussed
Who would have thought that Ole and Steve Bruce would be the ones to show the world how to crack the code that Pep has used to amass 198 points in 2 seasons. Bruce showed the way a week or 2 before and on Saturday Ole finessed and perfected the way to break Citeh (and probably Liverpool?). As far as I could tell (I enthusiastically kept pausing the MOTD analysis – which failed to mention what I saw – to explain my points to my thoroughly bored Mrs), what you need to do against Pep’s lot is to play 2 up top and station them on Citeh’s full backs. This pins them – and the entire back 4 back. You’ve now taken out 2 fellas from their midfield area, leaving 3 in the middle for Citeh – which you can go man for man against. Then….when you win the ball at the back as a Citeh move breaks down you must be quick and confident to play the ball through the single line of Citeh’s press. Beat their front line and you are into their midfield which is now minus their full-backs. KDB and Silva are many things but great tacklers and trackers they are not so once your midfielder gets the ball its pretty easy to turn / manoeuvre and get it out to your front men, who now are 1:1 with Citeh’s full backs. Get the midfield to leg it up as fast as poss to support and your have a chance to get shots off against a weaker Citeh defence. I love it when a once-indestructible system has been found out – and trust me Pep has been found out. Of course he’s still a legend but its time to evolve his system because any manager with half a brain will use what Ole and Bruce did to extract more points from Citeh
Duck (the use of Citeh winds people up doesn’t it??)


Arsenal easy fixes
Everyone seems to think that fixing Arsenal is easy. Some of the standard “easy fixes”:

1) “Just give Holding a chance at CB”. He has been injured on and off all season and has only started 1 game, the 2-0 defeat to Leicester. Not fit and not match fit by any stretch

2) “Chambers has to be better”. Chambers has played at CB 3 times, admittedly as part of a 3, vs Leicester (2-0) vs Southampton (2-2) and Newcastle (1-0). Not a shining light at CB (admittedly neither have our other CBs…)

3) “Just drop Lacazette”. Auba started with 8 in 8 games, then went on to score 4 in 12 games, clearly out of form at the moment (2 against Norwich isn’t a turn around in form…). Lacazettes 6 in 14 isn’t great but lets not pretend Auba is in the form of his life and undroppable. Neither are playing well right now.

4) “Xhaka and Mustafi are too slow, thats why we lose”. According to Arsenals internal sprinting statistics, Mustafi is the 5th fastest player at Arsenal (surely a joke). Lucas Torreira, the savior of Arsenal, is one of the slowest. If you look at our midfield, Douzi, Xhaka, Willock, Ozil and AMN, I’m not sure exactly if dropping Xhaka is the solution. Wilock is performing below par and Xhaka might just need defensive stability next to him but its certainly not a simple fix.

5) “Its all Emery” Agreed, the tactics are engrained now, it will take a while. That fix has happened now the change can come.

6) “Kola isn’t good enough” Admittedly, I agree with this one. Unless its in a 3, Tierney should be starting but I can only assume fitness is a bit of an issue.

So for all the Football Managers out there (Southend promoted to Championship first season, where do I sign?) maybe football isn’t quite as simple as we think it is behind closed doors.
Rob A (we should go with someone young and exciting, someone fresh faced and who plays modern pressing game) AFC


Pogba can rescue Ole
The Champions League final from 2011 at Wembley will never stop haunting me. I remember being awed by the brilliance of a Barca team at their peak, toying with Fergie’s United. Granted we played Giggs and Carrick against the greatest midfield of all time (and Messi dropping deep), so maybe it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, but the spirit Fergie had built up in that team meant they were very rarely embarrassed to that extent.

I thought Pep was the greatest manager in the world (and to some extent I believe he still is, although Klopp has a very legitimate shout), so to watch the first 30 mins of the Manchester derby, where PE teacher Ole had his beleaguered United team play Pep’s all conquering City off the park was like a remedy for the soul. United have definitely gone backwards since 2011, but there are definitely signs that we’re moving in the right direction. I had a good feeling before the game, knowing City’s weaknesses at the back and their ability to control possession for long periods of time without feeling dangerous, and I kind of expected what happened to be fair.

Now this raises the question, how much of the victory is down to Ole, and can he actually get the team consistently performing to this level. I’m not sure, and in the last year we’ve seen plenty of suggestions he can, and plenty more that he cannot. And despite his elementary tactics, and his constant faith in destiny and the United spirit, I don’t remember the squad ever being this together at any point in the last 6 years.

If Pogba decides he wants to play football again, and he is slotted into the role behind Martial, United will be an entirely different team because despite his inconsistency, Pogba’s ability to create is as good as anyone else in the league. Freed of his defensive responsibilities now that the double pivot of Fred and McTominay has been established, United will be a lot more dangerous against teams that sit back. In a season as close as this, he could actually be the difference.

Or you know, just sell him and get Bruno Fernandes, Erikson, or whoever else can create. Ole’s job depends on it.
IP (Marco Rose would be my choice if Ole ever goes)


Interesting take from Timi, MUFC. For what it’s worth, I think Solksjaer’s alright. Nothing more, nothing less. However, I do think that any manager would struggle to keep Manchester United consistently challenging at the moment because of the oft-discussed problems with the club’s infrastructure.

That said, I have to take issue, as he has done previously, with some of his arguments.

I don’t think anyone is expecting immediate success. ‘Progress’ is the word often used, and I think that’s fair enough. Liverpool previously, and now Arsenal, are showing that without a long-term vision clubs will suffer. However, these are only two (excellent) results. Let’s be honest, they were poor against Villa, and abject against Sheffield United aside from a ten-minute burst.
I actually think Klopp would have that squad challenging for the top four. I agree that it’s not the finished article, but look at some of the options. An £80m, first-choice international centre back. The best defensive fullback in the division. An exciting and young front three with pace, creativity and goals, including arguably the transfer of the summer in James. If OGS can’t motivate Martial consistently, then that’s a managerial issue. Yes, the centre midfield lacks steel outside of McTominay, but part of a manager’s remit is to improve the options he already has.
‘There will be no convincing you of course and you will hold onto Ole’s record in games against small teams conveniently forgetting he started his appointment by handling smaller teams their butts’. This is a mental thing to say. The record last season/start of tenure is irrelevant; how many times have we seen a club come up from the Championship, and then dismiss their manager later in the season? You’re only as good as your recent performances, and the last two have been brilliant. Coaxing that consistency is literally the manager’s job. If he can’t do it, then it doesn’t matter if you win all the games against the ‘big’ clubs’, because there are more points available from beating the others. That’s a recipe for mid-table…!
My personal take is that he’s not good enough for a club of Manchester United’s standing. Given what the likes of Pochettino and Allegri have achieved, I think one of those should be given a crack. But that’s just my opinion, and he does seem like one of the good guys so I would be happy to see him succeed.

Apart from when he rocks up to Anfield, of course.
Stu, Southampton


Enjoy reading Winners & Losers on a Monday morning, however can F365 please end the love in with everything Man City, Pep and Raheem Sterling related please.

The last few weeks, Man City have been well beaten by Manchester City, drawn with Newcastle, drawn with Shakhtar, been thrashed by Liverpool and struggled past Southampton.

And yet every week, neither Manchester City, or Pep Guardiola, or Sterling….their F365 appointed talisman…..have been labelled as losers. The issue is always sidestepped by categorising it as Manchester City’s organisation or Manchester City’s defence. Have we forgot who is organising the team, and selecting the defence?

Why can’t F365 call Pep out for his inability to stop City going stale, his continued selection of Angelino who isn’t up to the task, his continual overlooking of Cancelo. His continual selection of Rodri when the solution could be to reinstate Fernandinho into midfield and select an actual CB at CB. Or why not Pep for not mixing up his preferred formation.

Why can’t F365 call Sterling out for his 1 goal and assist in his last 6 matches. Even Harry Kane has found himself in the losers section for his output earlier in the season.

Just saying that Eddie How got called out for being unscrutinised. And that Marco Silva, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Poch and so on have all been called out as losers this week. In fact if it wasn’t Man City, or Pep Guardiola F365 would also probably be writing articles about how Pep, after 2 amazing seasons has gone stale, looks devoid of ideas, has overseen a negligent transfer window etc etc…..especially when he’s been allowed to take a treble winning side and add a further £120m of talent. Lets see some of the bias disappear please.
Tom (premier league neutral)


Celebration police
There’s nothing more c-wordy than rival fans asking you not to celebrate too much a huge and emotional victory over your bitter local rival. Fellow Utd fans, can you not celebrate until we inevitably win a treble-treble with Ole at the helm and Rashford winning the Ballon d’Or, please, because Darragh is feeling a bit sensitive? No chanting at the back! Only nod your head slightly to acknowledge each win.
Monty (Also, let’s fully deconstruct, in long emails, the fact that some fans are really happy with Ole about 2 big wins that no-one saw coming), MUFC


…Damned if you do, damned if you don’t – reading through this mornings mailbox it is funny to see Liverpool and Spurs fans weighing in about Ole and his position at united. As we have all seen stats can be used or found to support any theory you may have. Daragh who has said Moyes was doing a better job and got sacked for seventh, despite two lines up on his e-mail stating that United are in fifth – the lines prior to this confirm he has indeed checked the table (multiple times) So small maths lesson here Daragh – 5th in the table is higher than 7th.

Moyes also inherited an premier league (albeit aging) winning team – he and Woodward royally fucked up the summer transfer window and was sacked when it was clear the team would not qualify for the CL. Ole still has a chance of qualifying for the CL which seems to be the minimum criteria.

Solksjaer’s signings have proved good buys, first team players that reduces the average age of the squad an focused on a British core – if nothing else this is showing a strategy for the future unlike another former manager who clearly can get into another PL team without any issue who wanted to sign established 30+ year olds to get some quick wins.

As for Martin LFC – I agree the back office needs a complete re-org – you say he never would have got the job if it hadn’t been for being an ex-player – this is correct I believe – but it is not unusual, but Ole actually has more managerial experience than Zidane – who has done ok in his only first team managerial role – or even Frank Lampards entire year at Derby before getting the Chelsea job. You don’t always have to go for experience or cv’s sometimes there are more important factors – although there have been some terrible displays this season we have also seen some great ones – Norwich and Brighton come to mind as lower teams we have played off the park – and the record against the so called big six speaks. I think we are at a similar place to Liverpool when Brendan Rogers was manager – is Ole the right man to put us back to the top? Perhaps not but he is at least laying the foundations as opposed to trying to fix the cracks in a sinking building

Dan, MUFC, Belfast


Racism, Rashford and Big Dunc
Just wanted to offer a heartfelt thank you for today’s Winners & Losers, which covered racism in a way far better than I ever could. F365 was ahead of the curve with the Sterling abuse, ahead of most Manchester United supporters in their treatment of Rashford, and a countless number of other examples as well. I found this site close to 15 years ago, and it has never failed to hit the right note.

To give this a slight football stance, and to avoid talking about the derby (I’m a United fan, but it has already been covered), just wanted to highlight how much a neutral enjoyed Big Duncan Ferguson managing Everton. There is something truly special about a player who was a legend managing a win for your club. Obviously Solskjaer hasn’t panned out quite how we would have hoped (although I am firmly in the camp of he deserves more time), but the highs with him have been truly special. Long may it continue!
Jack (My fiancé got annoyed at me because apparently I have never told her I ‘adored’ her… ye but, Rashford! What a player) Manchester


Chelsea don’t need to spend
Agree that Chelsea’s defence was shambolic at Goodison, but really Gary Cahill the answer? Rudiger will probably start against Lille. Not ideal to have a fresh pair for such a crucial game but needs must. However, I am anti spending on a CB in the Jan transfer window. Chelsea have Tomori, Rudiger, Zouma and Christensen – all of whom have looked like real players at some point (some more recent than others). Shoring up LB and having a steady pair of CBs so they learn to play with each other – when to press or drop etc, is what needs to happen. If anything from the transfer ban, we have learnt that there may be more treasure at home than away. And it’s still a new system and new manager. Cahill is known for his backing away, last-minute block speciality – unsuited to this system of play, better in a low block. He would have definitely done a job but would’ve prevented the current young crop from learning and improving. All that is really needed is a LB (I dream of Chilwell) and back up for Tammy. Just because we have the money, doesn’t mean we need to spazz it out on luxuries and knee-jerk reactions. Let the yoof come through!
Saaj (CFC)


Wise words

I think Sky Sports needs to come in for some praise for what I’ve seen over the weekend.

Graeme Souness did a piece speaking on how his attitude has changed having come up through a very homophobic era in football. His message will be heard by everyone, including the “idiots everywhere (Roy Keane – 2019)”. Add this to the comments from Redknapp and Neville about the racism and suddenly you have very large figure heads who can influence a huge majority on some of the most important topics in modern society.

We’ve seen the way their opinions can influence the public’s thoughts on specific players, specific managers, and how their teams should be playing. Let’s hope they can do some good now with the platform they have and can start to change how society thinks on this.

It’s a small step in the right direction.

Culk the Younger


Strap in for football, politics and racism
Whilst I appreciate that this is a predominately football website, if you’re going to open the doors to a wider societal debate, then I think there should be some balance.

On that basis I find it a little strange that Daniel Storey would choose to highlight Boris Johnson when discussing racist views in society, but leave out some notable others.

Where’s the reference to the Labour party which is currently being investigated by the Equality & Human Rights Commission for “whether unlawful acts have been committed by the Party or its employees or agents” in relation to racism.

Where’s the reference to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who is let’s say, “prone to the odd gaffe”

So you have the PM, the leader of the opposition and the Queens husband, who all at one time or another have said/done/thought things which could be defined as racist.

Then there was this video I was sent last week. If you can’t link it, it basically called people out members of the general public for holding different people accountable to different standards on racism – because it suited their political views to do so

The most shocking part of this for me was the way in which, when confronted with the truth of which party leader had said/done something allegedly racist, what the general public said in response.

Rather than apologising, many of them simply rolled out a couple of racist stereotypes by way of justification.

So maybe the truth is that racism is everywhere, all of the time, you just have to wait for it to present itself. Maybe it’s not “just” a scourge on society, maybe it’s woven in to the fabric of society itself, never far below the surface.

Things are changing, of course, and for decades now people in this country have been born in to a fully multicultural society, where people hopefully define themselves less and less by their race, gender, sexuality etc and therefore are hopefully less prejudiced towards those who don’t look/sound/behave like them.

However I think it’s wrong to point fingers at those in position of power and use that as a reason that racists feel legitimised in saying racist things. Most of the racists I’ve encountered didn’t need any more legitimisation than holding the same views as the people they spend most of their time with. I say it at home/in the pub etc. so why the hell wouldn’t I say it at football?

Racism is a grass roots issues – you have to challenge it every time it comes up. However that’s easier said than done. I was queuing to get in to a football ground recently and having left it a little late, kick off was approaching. A group of about 10 men decided it was the stewards fault that they would miss some of the game, and started racially abusing them.

I should have said something, I wish I would have. I didn’t because I was frightened of what might happen next and in that moment chose my own safety over and above everything else.

Brexit hasn’t empowered racists, it’s revealed the true extent to which members of our society hold racist views. Getting rid of those views is going to take time and education – not finger pointing and excuses.


England’s Zizou
Despite the focus being entirely on the heavy Christmas fixture period I cannot help but start to get excited by the Euros . If ´´there are shades of Henry in Rashford’ then where is our Zidane?
Well , as has already been mooted , when playing a top team in the knock out stage ,
having AWB as our right back would leave TAA to play a defensive midfielder role but also spray balls out behind the advanced full backs of the top team .
For me this is a very exciting vision (2006 Zidane v Brazil) and brings about a scenario where with tactical substitutions off the bench to go for the jugular our best 14 playes can , for the first time , go all the way .
When you add the furore of the home crowds and the upbeat carnival atmosphere of the country everything seems to be falling into place ( cue metatarsals being broken ).
Does it look as if the only game outside of UK could be in Ireland on an England run to the final ?
Peter (hope Southgate has the cojones to play TAA in front of the defence) Andalucia .

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