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City cannot win Champions League without Messi
Couple of mails criticizing PSG earlier and they have a point but aren’t Man City pretty much the same? PSG have a Neymar, Man City have a Guardiola but beyond these two their teams have lots of money but very little experience in the latter stages of the Champions League. They will both always get knocked out once they meet an actual big dog like Barca, Real or even Bayern regardless of the players they have.
PSG and City can both burn through cash every season and they will win domestic titles but never the CL until the Ronaldo/Messi era is over. Guardiola in my view will never win the CL without Messi leading his team. For all the possession stats and pretty passing Messi was always the catalyst for Guardiola’s CL wins as he could unlock any defence and put the ball in the net like De Bruyne or Aguero (although fine players themselves) can only dream of. Guardiola’s tactics have a ceiling of effectiveness and as we saw during his time with Bayern (They had a better squad than Man City have now) that ceiling is a CL semi-finals exit without Messi to make the difference.
If anybody other than Barca and Real want to win the CL this season they have to stop either Messi or Ronaldo scoring which especially in respect to the latter seems impossible in this competition right now.
My money is on Real to claim a third crown in a row.
Can Man City hold onto their stars?
Thought I’d bring up the topic of transfer hierarchy among European clubs. Liverpool, United and Arsenal have in recent times been put in their place when Real Madrid or Barcelona wanted someone from these clubs. You have your Ronaldo, Suarez, Alonso, Fabregas, Henry etc. You can also add Tottenham’s Bale and Modric for good measure. And from my limited knowledge, I think Italian clubs used to do that before their financial might took a hit.
AFAIK English clubs have never had that kind of power when it comes to player acquisition. Obviously as a pessimistic Utd fan, I seem to be spending more and more time thinking up new ways in which City will humiliate us for the foreseeable future. And it occurred to me that they could potentially be the kind of club Real and Barcelona are right now. And they might be facing a big test in the coming seasons. Because right now in their ranks they have the sort of players the two giants will want when it’s time for them to rebuild.
One could argue Real will start at the end of this season coz of their league performance. And surely Barcelona will struggle once Messi retires or his formidable powers begin to wane. And City have in De Bruyne, Sane and maybe Jesus, Mendy and Ederson the sort of Superstars the super-clubs crave. Whether they manage to keep these players or not will probably decide if they can hit the footballing heights of Barcelona and Real and the Juventus and AC Milan of old.
Also has Chelsea ever lost a top, top player against their will in the Abramovich era?
Aditya (I have a lot of free time, what can I say), MUFC
Could this be a record?
A fun Wednesday fact for you:
From reading ‘The Knowledge’ in the Guardian (great column) I learnt the record points difference between first and last in the English top flight is 76, a gap that has twice been seen, both times in the Premier League era. The first was 2006, between Chelsea and Sunderland and the second in 2008 with Manchester United ahead of the famed Derby side.
That got me thinking about this season. Taking Manchester City’s performance so far and extending it over 38 games takes them to 102 points. Doing the same with West Brom takes them to 26, a gap of the magical number of 76 points. If West Brom can be slightly worse than they’ve averaged or City can be slightly better, there’s a chance for them to do something special together. We’ll await the end of the season with baited breath…
Mike, LFC, Dubai
PSG – what’s the point really?
James, Liverpool has a point about PSG not being in a competitive league but it’s not that their league isn’t competitive, it’s that they don’t even have one challenger.
For years, Barca and Real have been playing in league that wasn’t competitive, fighting it out against one another in their domestic league with little or no competition from the rest. Sure they lost the odd game/title here or there but since the turn of the century they have cleaned up on the domestic front. Their rivalry has of course always been present but I feel that this has pushed the players on to stay competitive and focused at all times, even when they are coming up against a lowly La Liga team. They always have to be wary about what each other is doing and this form has carried into the Champions League.
In Germany, Dortmund closed the gap a few years ago and this pushed Bayern to be better domestically and then they started getting to finals of the Champions League again, having not done for around a decade. In the 90’s, United barely did anything in Europe, then Arsenal won the league, and United won the treble the next year. Then they won three leagues in a row, did nothing in Europe and then Chelsea (domestically) and Liverpool (in Europe) started to become more successful and United upped their game and started reaching and winning on the European front.
Of course, it’s not all that simple and maybe it just comes down to superior teams winning over two legs based on players, tactics, managers, weather, luck, form and hundreds over other factors, regardless of their domestic competition.
Paul, LFC, Sydney
Give it a rest on Mitrovic
Saw Mitrovic mentioned in the first few lines of a mail this morning and despite not reading the entire thing I think I have a pretty good idea of what was said and who said it.
The Mitro argument is the single most tedious thing about supporting Newcastle United. Rafa has repeatedly said why he doesn’t get a game under him and that’s because he doesn’t follow instructions. He doesn’t do it on the pitch and by all accounts he went against the club’s advice and hired a personal trainer to bulk up, further reducing his mobility.
How Mitrovic would have fared this season is one of the great unknowables. Either top scorer or sent off every week. Dead or alive. Shrodinger’s Mitrovic.
What we do know is that two years ago he was our starting centre-forward and we were relegated. What we do know is that Dwight Gayle was the best striker in the Championship last season and that doesn’t guarantee goals in the top flight. What we do know is that Mitrovic was largely terrible last season, including one of the worst centre-forward displays I’ve seen at SJP as we lost to Blackburn.
Please don’t publish anything on Mitro ever again because I honestly can’t keep myself from biting.
Thanks for nothing.
Jonno (too fewming for brackets) NUFC
…In the build up to Saturday’s game at Anfield, Alan Pardew’s first game in charge (at home against the reds) was shown in the morning slot. There was a moment when Jonas Gutierrez got passed the defender on the flank, sprinted to the byline and then played a cross. Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll were making their way into the area in time, but the cross went miles over everyone’s head and out for a throw in on the other side.
Jonas was one of my favourite players, but I had forgotten how frustrating he could be because of his lack of end product. Saturday morning reminded me of how he used to divide the support for this reason, but at the time he was more useful to the newly promoted side than any more-skilled, but less hard-working winger may have been. Jonas was fantastic in tracking back and won countless freekicks in the opponent’s half, which was useful for a team more than willing to give Andy Carroll every opportunity to head the ball into the net. Jonas had the ability to hold possession and slow play down, which was important when trying to hold onto a slender lead or point against better opposition. The likes of David Ginola may have been able to put that specific cross against Liverpool into the right space, but would probably not have done the rest of the hard work needed for a newly promoted team. If Ginola was in that 2010-11 side, he may never have found himself with an opportunity to cross the ball to extend a 2 goal lead that was won through a previous 80 minutes of defensive work to contain the likes of Fernando Torres (just before the Chelsea disaster).
Fast forward seven years and the same debate is happening with regards to Mitrovic and Joselu. ToonBano this morning seems to suggest that Mitro would have been the goal scoring hero that Newcastle so desperately need, but Mitro simply isn’t willing to press defenders in their half, win headers or keep possession in midfield. Joselu, for all his faults, has been brilliant in doing that work- the stuff that doesn’t get all the plaudits, but has consistently contributed to the vital points the Magpies have won so far and need to keep winning to avoid relegation. Mitro, unwilling to do the work needed for the full 90 minutes and more likely to get sent off when given the opportunity, can then only be used in a substitutes role.
The second issue is that Mitro isn’t the proven goal scorer that so many claim he is. ToonBano argues that he’d be the right option to come off the bench, but his only goal scored off the bench in three seasons came when we were already 2-0 up against a West Ham side that had no chance of coming back into the game. He has spent large chunks of each season at SJP on the bench, but is yet to score a decisive goal in any games he has not started. Its fantastic that he’s now doing well at Fulham, but Rafa had every reason to doubt his ability to come off the bench and win games. Joselu might not do that either, but he’ll do the necessary basics to keep us in a game and keep us afloat. Its not ideal, but if Mike Ashley gave Rafa the money he needed, Newcastle may be lining up with a striker that could do both jobs. So if we want to point fingers at anyone for this scenario, I’ve got one fat cockney target in mind who needs to take the blame long before Rafa is at fault for choosing to cover his feet and not his head with the short blanket he has been left with.
…In response to Bano, whose mails I enjoy (fellow Mags unite!), in my opinion Mitro is a liability and a lazy get. I fear it might be a case of absence making the heart grow fonder.
The one thing Benitez demands is work rate for the team. Mitro is too often beating his chest and gesticulating for the crowd to cheer whilst being too lazy to chase a seemingly lost cause.
And as for being sent off, he was not available forthree games after elbowing a player in the head at the end of a match that we were winning 3-0. In theCchampionship, he was not available for the first four games after being suspended for getting sent off against Spurs the previous season (despite us already being relegated and winning 3-1 at the time!). I am sure he has been subbed off more than once because he was looking like getting a second booking. He is a moron who equates violence with drive or passion and we cannot afford not to have players on the pitch. As an aside, it was good to see Frank Lampard call Shelvey out against Palace for being a lazy bastard too. He is another moronic player who we would be better off without.
Also, I disagree that this will all be Benitez fault (although I think his overly cautious approach has cost us at times this season). He has not been given anywhere near the tools needed to consolidate our place in the premiership. Getting a crocked striker in on the last day of the transfer window was defiantly not his decision. I genuinely believe Mike Ashley has some sort of bet on that he can get us to survive without spending any money or is happy for us to yo-yo so he can collect the delicious parachute payments.
There is a half-decent player in Mitro trying to get out, but as long as he does not put the shifts in and calm the stupidity, he will not be trusted by coaches like Rafa.
Anyway, I don’t like fighting with other Mags, it is what that b***ard owner wants.
I work for a business where I regularly have to catch the corporate jet (it’s a coffee and a wispa, no whisky in sight) up north and I took that flight this morning. During the 40 minute flight I was perusing the Daily Express (don’t judge me, it was just ‘there’) and reading the sport when a wave of nostalgia hit me: the scores section. The black and white ink, the half time scores in brackets, the teams underneath, the tables listed parallel. I remember as a youngster scoring over these pages for hours, looking from the score to the appropriate league table and literally spending hours totting up previous scores from previous newspapers to check the tables were accurate.
It was from these pages that football wonders such as Hamilton Academicals jumped out at me. Whilst I realise this sounds faintly ridiculous now, at the time there was a level of mystique surrounding these whimsical names of places from another land. Who was their manager? What did their ground look like? When were they formed? Various inane questions that bore no relevance to life in general, but to me this was as enthralling as the old style football stickers book. Plus then I’d have to actually go and research to find out the information. Over time this fascination turned me in to a bit of a football almanac and I was proud of that, you could throw any question at me about any football club and I reckon I’d have had a good go at answering it (verging between a 1 and 99% success rate in answering correctly….)
The great article on Highfield Road further made me think about how football has moved on, modernised and grown at such exponential rates. The ability to bet during a game, cash out, get scores flash up on your phone, get the goals a couple of minutes later. All information is available at the push of a button and some very simple usage of an internet search engine.
Whilst this is all fantastic to the ‘modern’ football fan, for those like me of the older generation – by the way I’m not even 40 yet – then this has made me fall out of love with the game a bit. It’s lost its mystery, it’s lost its very core. The Highfield Road story shows the pitfalls of lacking any business acumen, however the commercialisation of the game now surely has gone too far?
The feeling looking at those scores this morning was truly bizarre. It was peaceful and, for the first time in my life, made me almost say ‘in my day’ or ‘things were simpler back then’. But they were, weren’t they??
Andy (not falling out of love with the game because I’m an Arsenal fan. Nope. Not at all).
Sessegnon for England?
Gossip column fave Ryan Sessegnon pops up again linked with a megabucks move to Liverpool. A left-back (playing further forward a la Bale) with great pace, energy and anticipation appears to be right up Klopp’s street.
Statistically, from New Year’s Day Fulham have taken 28 points from a possible 33 beating Wolves, Derby and Aston Villa in their last 4. Sessegnon has 9 goals in that run (14 for the season) and has been absolutely clinical scoring his first 13 from just 16 shots on target!
So, is he a shout for the England squad? Yes it’s only the Championship, yes he’s only 17 and yes there’s the Theo Walcott thing but as someone who has watched him a few times I’d have him starting. Kane, Alli and Sterling are nailed on for 3 of the 4 attacking slots but otherwise we’ve an unfit Lallana, out-of-position Oxlade-Chamberlain, or out-of-position and out-of form Rashford/Welbeck/Barkley. Surely a young, exciting round peg in a round hole is preferable?
Dan (assuming he’s just below P Nev on the ladder), LTFC
The day’s biggest story
Without reading the story to find out, the biggest story in football today really has raised a few questions;
Does he have a shop or just travel between London and Nice/Liverpool/Manchester?
Is he based in London and just happens to be Balotelli’s mate as well as a barber to at least one Premier League footballer?
Is he Italian? Is he based in Italy and the Premier League stars fly to him?
Was he only invited as a friend of a friend?
Was he only invited; did not intend?
I fully expect a feature piece on your website to answer all these questions and more on the pressing football issues.
Conor (I only write this in half jest), Dublin
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