Right – watch yourself some Tuesday night football and then mail email@example.com
It is still early doors but I wanted to give my assessment on Harry Maguire so far.
The first thing that should be clear is Leicester do not miss him, in fact they have improved in his absence. Soyuncu is quicker which means Leicester can play a higher line.
The fact we paid £85m for Harry isn’t his fault, I imagine they expected him to have a similar effect that Van Dijk did on Liverpool’s team. However Virgil is basically everywhere at once, so much so he has strikers second guessing themselves. Harry Maguire will never be Virgil Van Dijk.
Let’s look at the positives:
1) He is constantly fit which makes a change from the perma-crocked Bailly
2) He is comfortable bringing the ball out of defence, compared to Jones and Smalling he looks like Franz Beckenbaur.
3) The defence is conceding fewer goals.
Now for some objective criticism:
1) Harry is awfully slow, so much so I think he is running in two feet of mud. This is a problem because he is only going to get slower.
2) His defensive awareness is poor. If you look at a lot of the goals we concede (perfect example is Sheffield United game) he is always near the goalscorer but is never actually able to block a shot.
3) For a guy famed for his unusually large head and his ability to win headers, he has not been an asset offensively.
4) Being made captain, now this is more on Ole than on Harry. He has shown nothing so far to suggest he is a worthy captain.
In conclusion I think it’s clear to see Leicester fleeced us good and proper. Even with the English tax, he is a £30m player who we managed to pay £85m for. Not to say he isn’t good, he just isn’t the game-changing centre-back we needed. We needed another Rio in his prime and we managed to buy a 34-year-old John Terry without the immense leadership. All in all, this is no knock on Harry, he seems like a good lad. Again this is why our scouting department needs an overhaul, because for the money we paid was there nobody better, who was available?
Longsight Lad (Poch is on my Christmas list)
Martial to Chelsea please
In agreement to Ted in yesterday’s mailbox and an earlier mail that suggested that Antony Martial should be moved out from Manchester United due to his patchy form and suggested demotivation. The emergence of Mason Greenwood as a natural finisher only means that he will struggle for games. Even more so as united are being linked with Erling Haaland. He should be cashed out in January – to Chelsea, that is.
It’s the perfect recruitment for Chelsea. I know it’s a bit of a risk given his injuries but a look at Lukaku and you can see that he really only needed a new challenge under a more suitable system. And playing for a manager who trusts you is always an added bonus.
In my opinion it’s the no-brainer of the transfer window.
He is still young and would have some sell-on value, he has Premier League and Champions League experience and would not be cup tied for the latter. He can come straight in and would only be required to take some of the pressure off young Tammy. He would be a perfect replacement for Giroud and even my mum is an improvement on the Batman on current evidence because I asked her if she knows where the goal post are located and she was able to guess correctly.
With Martial, we could even play with two strikers up front like we needed to at some point against West Ham, City and Bournemouth.
I am sure someone can pick holes in my theory but even I believe a deal can and should be made. Martial may be struggling for relevance at United but there is still an elite striker in him somewhere that Lampard can find if he is willing to try.
Paul (now to forward this mail to Marina), CFC
Straw and order
*I’d say Sky Sports deciding to televise the ‘why is this a derby?’ derby between Crystal Palace and Brighton & Hove Albion was the strangest directorial decision of the day, but yesterday afternoon I saw my son’s school play, in which the traditional nativity story was framed by a courtroom drama centring on a stable ownership dispute between some cows and some donkeys. It was called Straw & Order.
I think the Palace-Brighton is the closest thing there is at the moment to a classic lower-league rivalry playing out on the biggest stage. It may lack the glamour of the North London or Merseyside derbies, but it doesn’t lack the feeling.
*While they are just games, worth the same number of points as any other, one of the most annoying things last season was the way Palace’s players didn’t seem to care as much as the fans did about Albion doing the double over them. Depressingly, last night’s game started the same way: one side refusing possession so as to spring counterattacks, and the other dominating possession with extreme caution so as not to be caught. This does not make for good viewing, and so it proved.
*At some point Palace need to decide on an identity and stick to it. If they are truly a mid-table with ambitions (if not means) of moving upwards, they need to start playing like one. That means playing on the front foot and not simply doing an impression of a minnow in the FA Cup, defending very deep and not even attempting any spells of possession or attacking forays. Brighton have good players but they are not superhuman, they are a lower-mid-table side; they believed they could beat the Eagles, but for a long time that wasn’t reciprocated. Albion dominated the first half and were good value for their lead, but they could or possibly should have been out of sight.
*Another game, another defensive injury for Palace. This time it was Jairo Riedewald, withdrawn at half time with a muscle injury, at least according to ex-Mickleover Sports ace Clinton Morrison on Radio 5 Live. Midfielder James McArthur deputised, coping very well and doing a passable impression of Jack McGovern, but like the Grantham man, he isn’t a long- or even medium-term option in that position.
*We’re all experts after the event but this was another one of those moments where it seemed to take ages for Roy Hodgson to make a tactical change. He brought on Max Meyer and changed to 4-1-4-1, allowing Palace to have a bit of possession and they really came to life, creating a couple of chances before Wilfried Zaha found the equaliser. Once parity was restored, the Eagles seemed more likely to find a winner. Hodgson clearly trusted Meyer to come on and change the game, so it’s natural to wonder why he didn’t do it five or ten minutes earlier.
*Next up for Palace is a trip to Newcastle United, another side that doesn’t like possession. It seems the ideal time for Crystal Palace to start Meyer or even – gasp – Victor Camarasa.
Ed Quoththeraven (my son played a barrister, no idea where he gets his argumentative streak from)
Arsenal did not want to fire Emery but the decisive way Spurs went about firing and replacing Poch made their own situation untenable with their own fans. This explains why there is no real strategy in finding a replacement. The leadership has no idea which direction which is kinda sad. A strong Arsenal makes a more entertaining EPL, this coming from a Liverpool fan.
Carlton ( Perth, Australia)
Why would Arteta sign up for this sh*tshow?
Well, he’s done it before. The season he signed the club was in a mess, reeling after Captain Cesc left and the club went on a panic buying spree.
The fans didn’t exactly warm to Arteta, who took a pay cut to join us and who Everton fans told us was a solid player.
In his four seasons, Arteta became a senior player, was made Captain and helped us break our Emirates trophy duck.
Also, who gives a crap what the fans think? If that was a factor Charlie George, who was more of a legend, would have got the nod over George Graham.
Arteta is a gamble as any manager would be. It’s up to the fans to get behind him and I certainly will be if he takes the job.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
An Arsenal fan waking up from a 15-year coma…
“How are Arsenal doing? I guess Patrick Vieira has retired but surely we’ve got a like-minded blood ‘n’guts, ‘take charge’ midfield marshal in he team? (God, I miss those Patrick vs Roy battles). And who can forget Freddie and Pires?”
“Err, no. Not quite. We’ve got a bunch of promising youngsters in midfield but they’re out of their depth at the moment, to be honest. We do have a sulky, yet very talented, German midfielder who cost 42 million quid and earns 350k a week……”
“….What the actual F***!”
“Yeah, obscene, given his attitude and work rate but that’s the market these days.”
“What about defence? In ’04 we had Cole, Campbell, Keown, Toure and Lauren. Cracking defence. Only let in 26 league goals all season.”
“Err….we’re 17 games in and we’ve already shipped in 27. Our defence is quite shocking. They’re either young, past it or, quite frankly, shite.”
“Do I even want to ask about up front? How does the current crop compare to Henry, Bergkamp, Reyes and Wiltord?
“Weeeel, on paper, they’re sort of close. But the 1st choice three forwards, while showing glimpses of genius, are…I’ll be kind…inconsistent. Oh, and combined they cost 175 million quid.”
“Good grief!!! But we’re still in Europe every yeah, right?”
“Yes, but not where we were.”
“Last, that mob down the road in N17. They’re still shite aren’t they? At least tell me that! How was the last St Totteringham’s day celebrations?
Al, Arsenal, Sydney
The foul difference between Liverpool and City
In reply to Chris, I’ve also been interested in the relative levels of tactical fouling between Liverpool and City. I think a lot of the difference is in how they attack.
We all know City’s preferred attack by now; they advance the ball quickly through the channels, slip the ball through to an attacker at the meeting of the box and dead ball line, and then square is to the striker or winger for a tap-in. Devastating, but it does leave a lot of players very high up the pitch. The squaring player is basically on the dead ball line and at least two attackers are in the six-yard box barrelling towards the goal. If it goes wrong, none of them are
in any position to defend.
If the other team are quick and nimble, they will have spaces to advance the ball under control, meaning that the only City players that are facing the developing attack are the DM and defenders. All the stranded attackers can do is chase down the ball barrier and tackle him from behind, giving away the foul. It also works much better when you have Fernandinho in CM, as he’s basically telepathic.
In contrast, Liverpool this season don’t commit too many people to most attacks. They get the ball, recycle the ball to the full backs,and then frequently cross the ball from about level with the 18 yard box, or alternatively filter across the top of the box looking for a flick through or a long shot. This generally means when the ball is cleared there’s a line of FB CM CM FB across the middle of the opponent’s half, with Fabinho lurking behind them and the front three flitting around in front of them. This gives centre-backs more time to clear, but less passing lanes to do so on the floor, so there’s every incentive for them to hoof it. Less quick ball in the middle of the park, less need to foul. The downside is I think this is what’s making Liverpool comparatively stodgy in attack this year.
For complete clarity, I don’t think Liverpool are somehow above the tactical foul, they absolutely do it, Henderson and Fabinho in particular. It’s just the way they and their opponents have adapted to each other means that aren’t in that kind of position that often.
Dan, Plastic LFC
Atletico: Not all that
So, people think Atletico are a tough opponent. That would be true for most teams in this round but they’re certainly not the force they once were. I understand few of you actually watch their games, so the impression formed many years ago still stands. However, this is a very much changed team and certainly not nearly as dangerous as it once was. They’re languishing in fifth at the moment, fyi. They’re still defensively solid but struggling to find goals. I can’t see them scoring at all against Liverpool and certainly can’t imagine them stopping Liverpool from scoring over two legs. Morata is their top goalscorer with six while other tied behind him at two in the league.
Anyone can beat anyone on their day obviously but for my money Liverpool are going to breeze past them.
Why aren’t substitutes ready?
It’s a basic question, and I’m sure some intelligent and informed people will have an answer for me, but why do substitutes have to spend time getting dressed before they’re ready to come on? We’ve seen countless incidents of gaps in the side on the field when a sub is taping up his socks or trying to find his shirt. Why don’t they get dressed like everyone else? It’s not like they have to do their own laundry if they put a shirt on and don’t actually play in it. I can’t be that shin pads hurt as the starters run around for 90+ minutes wearing them. So why don’t they get dressed before the game? Seriously, I’d like to know.
Steve, confused of Los Angeles
Remembering forgotten players
In response to Mikey, CFC I remember in 2013 we went on a jolly to Seville and rocked up at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to watch Sevilla play Sociedad.
We were looking forward to seeing Rakitic, Navas, Medel and Negredo, but completely forgot about Jose Antonio Reyes who it turned out was a sub for the home team that day. Half way through the second half, Reyes was getting ready to come on but ended up in a fight on the touchline and was promptly sent off before he could get on the pitch. That got us reminiscing about him getting sent off in an FA Cup final a few years before and how we didn’t think he was that kind of player. A bit sad on reflection as this was our last view of the fella as he trudged off to the dressing room waving his arms furiously at the ref. I think this must have been towards the end of his time in Seville and it is so sad that such a talented guy is no longer with us.
Anyway, Sevilla lost 2-1. Claudio Bravo was in the net for Sociedad and they had a lad up front called Griezmann who was fairly anonymous. In an Arsenal link, Unai Emery was Sevilla manager at the time. Biggest laugh of the game was when the stadium jock played Highway to Hell as Seville left the pitch after their defeat in the pouring rain.
Football’s great isn’t it…
Bladey (and Sevilley) Mick