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Tough Ole calls
The next few days are huge for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. This is not “Ole Out”. I think he’s been doing just fine, but if he wants to be a top level manager at one of the biggest clubs in the world, he is going to have to start making some tough decisions.
David De Gea has a legendary status at United. Alongside Schmeichel and van der Sar, easily one of the best goalkeepers we’ve ever seen at Old Trafford. At times over the last decade, he has been the best goalkeeper in the world. But the fact is he has been making silly, avoidable errors for two years now. How many times can you make an uncharacteristic mistake before they become ‘characteristic’?
The first Everton goal is a shambles from De Gea, and while I would blame Harry Maguire for the 3rd goal just as much, if not more, he has to do more. That goal, and the two goals against Sheffield United point to a complacency in his game. He was very nearly beaten by Lucas Digne at his near post as well.
I’m not saying he’s finished, far from it, but there has to be consequences for mistakes that cost you games and poor performances. Martial has basically forgotten how football works for large parts of this season and has lost his place to the in-form Edinson Cavani. Simple as that. Ruthless.
We have West Ham at home in the cup on Tuesday, so you’d expect to see Dean Henderson playing in that game regardless of De Gea’s form, so that’s not the big decision for Ole.
The big test will be next Sunday when we play West Brom in the league. De Gea has been below par for a long-time now. I get that keepers have a tough job and even a small mistake generally leads to a goal due to the small margin for error, but competition is what drives people to stay on top of their game.
We have Chelsea at Stamford Bridge at the end of February. Before that we have 5 games. One in the FA Cup, two in the Europa League and we play two teams in the bottom five in the Premier League in between. This is a perfect run of games to put Henderson in and see if he has what it takes. If Ole doesn’t believe he’s good enough to be a No.1, why give him a new £100,000/week contract (making him one of the top paid keepers in the league by the way)? Is it just so he wouldn’t go to Chelsea? If now isn’t the time to give him his head and see what he’s made of, then when?
If nothing else, it will at least let De Gea know that he’s not bulletproof and he needs to be at his best week in, week out to stay in the team.
You might piss off David De Gea if you drop him. Good. That should drive him to knuckle down and get back to where we all know he could be and should be as a keeper.
Giving Dean Henderson a proper run of games (not just a cup game every 3 months) to stake his claim to be United’s No.1 should drive him on to lock down that spot as his own. With Pickford being Pickford, he might even claim a spot as England’s No.1 ahead of the Euros.
Wouldn’t it be great for Ole to have two top level keepers at the top of their game to choose from?
Among many other qualities, what really set Sir Alex apart was an ability to recognise when a player was past their peak and move them on to be replaced by a younger, hungrier player. Ole generally sticks to the Ferguson Playbook for press conferences. This is a chance to show the ruthless streak that all his ex-teammates claim he has.
I could do a whole mail on what Ole could do to Harry Maguire after that dive and lying on the ground staring at the ref while Everton have a 2-on-1, and whatever the hell he was thinking running back towards his own goal all alone for the equaliser, but that’s for another day and another rant!
James (it really is the hope that kills you), MUFC
Manchester United would be better off lining up with 9 men than those two clowns and center back, and thats before I even get started on that wet flannel of a goalkeeper.
Any other team in the division wins that game 3-0.
The return of Mark Danger, MUFC
There will be a lot of reasons Man U should not be considered as title challengers. The main one :- De Gea.
Manoranjan ( ManU score the 3rd as I wrote this)
Evertonians feel the United pain
I think it’s safe to say, that the last consistent, good goalkeeper Everton’s had was Neville Southall. Sad but true.
TX Bill (It’s the hope that kills you) EFC
Just a thought – I agreed that Frank Lampard deserved to be sacked. I kind of agree with the pressure on Jose Mourinho. I thought Solskjaer should have been sacked earlier in the season. Mikel Arteta is objectively underperforming all of them. And yet the cacophony of voices calling for him to be sacked has yet to materialise. Which in its own way I would think should be the most worrying thing of all for Arsenal fans – at any point in the Wenger era this level of performance would have been cause for major mutiny and a big story (and have filled the mailbox), yet Arsenal under Emery and now especially under Arteta appear to have lowered expectations to such an extent that mid-table mediocrity is barely even a story.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, Singapore
Arteta’s failure to learn from previous mistakes is a real worry. It looked like he had turned a corner when he finally dropped Willian after the Chelsea game. Mind you, it took an injury and a game watching how much better the team could perform without Willian to convince him. 7 games of total dross and an enforced absence to make that realisation is a real worry for his credentials as a manager but at least once he saw the marked improvement, he kept him out as much as possible. Slow learner but at least he finally learned.
But then, when Arsenal need a win… when they need players who will stand up and be counted… who does he turn to? Willian. I could not believe it. There has not been a worse player at Arsenal in the past 25 years.
Before Willian came on, Arsenal looked threatening. Like a team that could turn around a 1-0 defeat into a 2-1 win. They were working together and penetrating Villa’s lines again and again. As soon as Willian came on for Partey, Arsenal looked like a team that would lose 3-0.
Every attack broke down with Willian. He played passes behind his teammates, slowed the game down, gave the ball away, knocked it out of play and carried no threat.
Partey is a hard man to replace but Arsenal would have been better off with 10 men, or even 9, than bringing on Willian.
Arteta will rightly feel aggrieved with the officials. Today was another game where they got the short end of the stick with decisions – not just the big ones but the little fouls too. But that’s not why Arsenal lost. Arsenal lost because Arteta threw away their momentum.
When will he learn that Willian should be further away from this squad than Ozil? Doesn’t appear to be any time soon.
Following the defeat to Villa, out comes the very simplistic argument from the Arsenal fan base that “we sold the wrong keeper”. Martinez had one year left on his contract, confirmed to Arsenal that he wouldn’t sign an extension, and Villa offered him a massive pay rise and the opportunity to be their Number One. Then they offered to transfer £20m to Arsenal. This is not new information, Martinez has confirmed this himself. At this stage, Arteta essentially has two options:
1) Refuse the offer and force Martinez to stay, keeping a disgruntled keeper at the club who would leave for free at the end of this season anyway.
2) Take the £20m and put it towards a Thomas Partey shaped hole in our midfield.
Martinez was magnificent for us in the final third of last season, but let’s not be revisionist. He had loans to six different clubs whilst he was with us and they weren’t all successful. If they were, he would have been promoted to the Number Two position well before he turned 27. Particularly whilst Ospina was hanging around.
Ultimately, it was a deal that suited all parties. Can we just wish him well and move on?
‘M’ out, ‘H’ in?
I’m a three generation SPURS fan with my two children [male and female] also following. However I emigrated to Canada and still living in Canada but we see every game this year. Been playing, refereeing, coaching [Canadian C licence] here for many years, now trying to enjoy the SPURS.
I was a SPURS youth player back in the early 60’s – pre academy days, thankful to Mr. Roy Bailey.
I believe that my feelings re SPURS are what most are looking for. NOT a trophy being a MUST [although would be nice], but the team to be playing attractive attacking flamboyant football [as of old], playing in Europe [preferably championship] and to end the season way above Arsenal in the Premiership.
I cannot see why we ever hired “M” as I felt that the players we had could not/ would not want to play the “M” way and we would not win a trophy – I still feel that we will not win a trophy.
If this goes on past February without major changes – we will lose Kane and Loris, probably a couple of others and end up letting “M” go. Yet another waste of money and time. We will be left with seeking out a new manager, will require monies to purchase players to suit the new manager [which will not be forthcoming from Levy, at least minimal amount], will require a new keeper, members for back line, midfield and front line requirements. For example, Dyer is too slow on the turn for the back line but could play in front of the back line as a holding player [assuming the new manager looks to such a formation].
Finally, the new manager should be one currently used to Premiership football – how about Southampton’s man !.
But I’m sticking with the SPURS – but only just !.
What more can we say about var and incompetent refs? Var has just highlighted how awful refs are. Mike Dean has clearly never actually played a game of football in his life if he thinks Soucek’s ‘elbow’ is anything other than accidental following his attempt to free himself from the close attentions of a marker. That is was also Lee Mason on var who told Dean he needed to look at it is no surprise to me, and I’m sure no surprise to Saouthampton fans whose club I believe just stopped short of asking those two to be removed from any Southampton games this season.
Then we come to the Villa v Arsenal game. Lacazette and Martinez are standing right next to each other on a corner as often happens. Striekrs do it so GK’s don’t get a clear run to come and claim the ball, there is nothing wrong with it, the GK needs to find a way to get past a striker and the striker can hold his ground. Martinez has hold of Lacazette’s short for a long time, eventually pulling him over and towards him, sticking a leg out for good measure to make it look like Lacazette had in fact fouled him. I’m sure people could argue Lacazette was leaning in to the GK, but I’d ask if that was a defender that Lacazette was ‘leaning in to’ shoulder to shoulder would that be considered a foul? unlikely. In any case any leaning in is subjective, a pull on the shirt was the first offence and is not something that can be argued.
Then to top it off we have resident ‘expert’ on BT sport Peter Walton asked about it by the pundits. Rio Ferdinand says “there’s only 1 player pulling a shirt…?” and Peter Walton actually says “that’s true but has Lacazette used that (shirt pull) to gain more contact between him and the gk” What does that even mean? Walton is so pointless, he will go to the ends of the earth, usually boring everyone in the process to defend any decision. Last week they asked him to explain why Luiz’s red wasn’t over turned but Bednarek’s was – in this lengthy explanation Walton first agreed with the original decision to send off Bednarek and then also agreed with the overturning of the red. Obviously it was no coincidence that one decision didn’t effect the result of the game and one did.
Also in the Villa v Arsenal game Saka was fouled some 40 yards from goal but with a clear run at goal. It was deemed not a clear goal scoring opportunity because only a yellow card was given to the Villa defender. Of course it depends what you define as clear goal scoring opportunity, for me, running 25 yards unopposed to have a 1v1 with the gk would be pretty clear. If the decisoin is yellow then fine, but Arsenal fans will remember all too well Koscielny, Xhaka and Arteta himself all receiving straight red cards in similar circumstances with the play 40 yards from goal. The Arteta one v Palace did the rounds on social media and it is all but an identical spot on the pitch.
Forget technology, this is nothing about technology. The technology does not make the decision, in theory it just gives the referees a better set of facts and a second look to come to the right decision. This is all about incompetent referees in this country, if anything var has shown them up even more because they are looking at things lots of times and in slow motion from multiple angles and still getting it wrong. More than ever referee’s are influencing the results of matches with their misguided decisions and total lack of consistency, of course this is to be expected when Mike Riley is in charge of the whole gang and also when there is zero accountability, punishment or incentive for referees to be better. As a fan it really does turn you off the game when you see game decided in this manner and the rules applied so inconsistently from game to game. Obviously we understand each ref is different but these are meant to be the absolute elite in this country who are professional full time refs, who train together and have guidance so there is consistency. At the moment it is a total farce – just hope that it isn’t your club next week is all we can do.
VAR is ruining the game in this country. There were always going to be teething problems but it seems to be getting worse not better. Pre-VAR there were only ever a handful of debatable decisions on a weekend. VAR was intended to eliminate these but there now seem to be far more debatable decisions than there were before.
Despite wanting to see VAR introduced, I now believe that the best solution would be to scrap it altogether. Unfortunately that won’t happen.
An alternative would be to use the same VAR ‘team’ for every match for the entire season. This would hopefully lead to consistency as the same people would be making all the VAR decisions for every match. Better still, perhaps we could import some decent ex-referees from abroad for this new VAR team to replace the incompetent bunch we currently have.
Finally, Mike Riley should not be allowed anywhere near VAR. He was an awful referee and it’s no surprise that, under his mismanagement, VAR is such a joke. And BT should give Peter “VAR is not there to get every decision 100% correct” Walton a red card. His ‘expert’ analysis and usual confirmation of ‘correct’ VAR decisions demonstrate the biggest issue with VAR – referees cannot be seen to have made a mistake.
Please fix it before it gets even worse.
David Futerman, Walthamstow
Sue the referees!
So, first off, I am not writing in as a Liverpool fan before the plastics start replying with LiVARpool!!
I am writing in as a FOOTBALL FAN after watching Mike Dean for the second time this week give a red card, for which I’m sure I’m not the only football fan who was screaming obscenities at the TV for his gross incompetence.
So, here’s my question, and it’s a serious one!
When will a football club stand up and sue the PL and referees for making ludicrous decisions that are not only impacting games, but are resulting in affecting the outcome of games, and subsequent results because of their continued incompetence?
Managers are getting fined because they are speaking the truth, and are so frustrated after games, that they are being penalised for airing their views correctly, whilst the referees do not have any accountability for their actions.
It’s beyond a joke, and it’s about time a Premiership club stood up, backed their manager and players, and sued the relevant authorities for their continued incompetence.
Or is it just me overreacting??
I’d be interested to know how other football fans are feeling!
Gronk (LFC – armpits are for spraying deodorant on, not scoring goals)
On Tuesday, we watched Jan Bednarek sent off and a penalty awarded when we all (including Manchester United supporters) clearly saw that Anthony Martial had dived.
No surprise then that Bednarek was available for Southampton’s game against Newcastle. Why? Because his red card was nullified because “an Independent Regulatory Commission upheld a claim of wrongful dismissal and removed his suspension”.
So Martial did dive. However, Bednarek was ejected, Manchester United scored from the resulting penalty and enjoyed a training session of 11-on-nine. Where is the suspension for Martial? The “Independent Regulatory Commision” clearly watched the replays and came to the opinion that Martial cheated. If Bednarek was assessed a suspension, shouldn’t that pass to Martial for simulation?
This only because today Bednarek was again involved in an incident, which the commentators chose to phrase “Bednarek – sent off on Wednesday for fouling and conceding a penalty, surely this can’t happen again”. Something of a tortured narrative there.
But Almiron went to ground after a challenge clutching his throat after Bednarek stopped him with an arm across his chest. The VAR was asked to review the incident to see whether a red card was merited as the referee had already correctly issued a yellow to Bednarek for the foul. The VAR returned the verdict that Almiron had not been assaulted with a chop to the larynx and so a free kick to Newcastle was the correct call. But Almiron gets away scot-free for faking an assault that the VAR actually had to review and say it didn’t happen, and still no sanction against Almiron? He was trying to get Bednarek red-carded, why else the play-acting?
I haven’t seen one incident this season when a player has been cautioned or sanctioned for simulation, yet we see multiple examples every game.
I’m not a Saints fan, just a football fan that can’t fathom the immunity that cheaters seem to enjoy.
Steve, Los Angeles
Radu suggests that Haaland cannot score headed goals but fails to take account of Dortmund’s style of play. It may be that they don’t stick many crosses into the box for the lad to get on the end of.
Number of headed chances scored/missed would have been a useful stat but the best I can do is type of pass in whoscored, which tells me only 2% of Dortmund’s passes are crosses. The vast majority of their play involves short passing.
I know your comparison to Heskey was tongue in cheek – he looks lethal with both feet and I would be delighted if United signed him. Can’t see that happening but I suspect he’ll light up the PL soon with whichever lucky team gets his signature. Who knows, he might even score a header or two. The only downside is his agent, who seems to be an absolute weapon.
Garey Vance, MUFC
Liverpool have no chance
I have written before about my admiration for Jurgen Klopp, based on his 2 seasons at Dortmund. I honestly felt it was the club and the annual sale of it’s best players that led to that fateful final season where the brakes seemed to fall off. So when he joined Liverpool, I was pretty sure he was going to be successful, because Liverpool, don’t sell their best players, and when they do, it’s for a lot of money. When you go shopping at Liverpool, you know you will have to pay more than expected. Based on the fact that his best players weren’t going to leave every year, I speculated he was going to be successful. I think I was right, he has been very successful at Liverpool, a champions league trophy, and the 1st premier league title for Liverpool in 30 years. I call that success. However, after 1 title, he thinks he is Alex Ferguson or something, and expects the league to bend to his will. He speaks like he expects the league to succumb to his demands. If Ferguson was a manager, and said teams need 5 subs , he would get it, because of his status, longevity and influence in the league. Maybe the Liverpool or Man City Managers would oppose but the other 17 would vote with Ferguson. Klopp doesn’t have that influence, so when he starts complaining, he sounds like a whiny child.
Rebuild and rotate the squad Klopp. You can’t expect Mane, Salah and that other guy who doesn’t score to keep running at 100% for 4 years straight. Then the excuses the former Liverpool players spread in the media, for example, it’s because Henderson is not playing in midfield. I want to know what kind of person thinks Henderson, is the reason Liverpool won as much as they did because Henderson played in midfield. It’s why I think, if they can’t sell an asset to buy multiple replacements , last year will be the best they have for the near future. Liverpool as good as they are, are no Man U, and don’t have Man City, Chelsea type owner. Pep is going to have a cake walk for the next few years, he is better than Ole and Tuchel, but if Roman goes all out, with another 200m Tuchel could win a title.
Dave(Unless Liverpool find some more change on the back of the sofa, they don’t have a chance against these 3 clubs), Somewhere
Liverpool saw it coming
Can I just say that I believe the views of Den Norris more accurately represents the views of the majority of Liverpool supporters rather than Neil, LFC, USA.
Are we disappointed at the moment, following the massive highs of the past couple of years? Yes. Did we expect this to happen at some point? Yes. Are we happy to give players and manager time to resolve this situation instead of crying out for wholesale changes? Also yes.
All of that said, other teams, clubs and squads have had it much worse, and with far greater genuine tragedies than a few injuries or no supporters in stadia – Feb 6th is as sombre a reminder as you can get.
Thoughts are with Manchester United today, along with supporters and families who were and are still affected by the events in 1958.
Grim Reaper Moyes
Jeebus. I’ve just seen the footage of David Moyes post match interview and I think I’m going to have nightmares. Not seen a lot of the Hammers this year; has he been wearing that Grim Reaper getup all season or is this a new thing????
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames
Any refs left for Saints?
I presume Southampton don’t want Craig Pawson to referee them again too?