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I’m not usually one for knee jerk reactions, but if I were, after last night I’d say Manchester United should sell Pogba and make McTominay captain.
Another anonymous stroll around the pitch from Pogba, and an all-action showing that Keane or Robson would be happy with from McTominay.
That Pogba can’t even rouse himself for a Champion’s League quarter final against the bitterest rivals of the team we’re all told he’s desperate to join says a lot.
McTominay, Fred and Matic should be our first choice midfield for the rest of the season. Let Herrera decide where he’s going, let Pogba do his deal with Real Madrid
Young should nowhere near this team
So last night showed United fans exactly how far we have to go to be competing at the top table again.
Ashley Young should be nowhere near this team I think Ole should of pulled him for Martial and dropped Dalot in at right back.
Scott McTominey was phenomenal last night, breaking up play, using the ball well and dovetailed really well with Fred.
Back to Young, he couldn’t cross a road even if he was stapled to the bloody chicken, Captain as well FFS.
On to Barca, Steve Biscuits is a despicable piece of work, he could of walked twice last night and the knee high assault on Pogba should of been a straight red. Jordi Alba’s strange headbutt of Young’s chest then throwing himself on the floor holding his face was prime Barca shithousery, glad the Linesman was stood right in front of it or else the ref could of taken action. Talking of the ref, he went to VAR for the goal yet when McTominey was fouled for a penalty (it was a penalty) he waved it away, what is the point of VAR? no really what is the point?
No matter what pundits and fans of other clubs are saying this game isn’t over, drop Young and Lukaku play with pace at the Camp Nou and we could be looking at another Paris, or Messi might find his way out of Smalling’s pocket and put on a masterclass.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
I’m reading the reaction of Utd supporters and I’m at a loss for the positivity. Utd were at home, didn’t get a shot on target? Are we now praising Utd for not getting tanked by a Barcelona team that was terrible? Front 3 where shocking, huffed and puffed with no quality. Good performances by Fred,Shaw,mctominay, smalling. Young was the worst player on the pitch by a mile and quite frankly could be the worst Utd captain ever. Utd Chance was last night and they blew it. If you think you’re going to catch Barcelona that cold again you’re bonkers. Fingers need to be pointed at rashford lukaku martial and lingard who were all terrible. Utd are about to resign rashford for 300k a week? You haven’t learnt a damn thing.
Do you remember the first time (again)
A heavily anti-Ashley Young mailbox this morning, and rightly so – I’ve despised ‘Sir. Cross fails to beat the first man’ for as long as I can remember – but why add to the pyre when I can write about a better memory.
Ajax’s performance last night was one of the most thrilling attacking performances I’ve seen in a long while. Yeah they only scored once, should have been three clear by half time and most probably will lose the tie in Turin; but watching this swarm of youngsters banboozle the visitors with one touch triangles, pace and verve brought back all sort of memories of when the mid nineties Ajax side landed in my pre-internet consciousness like the mothership from Close encounters of the Third Kind, the extraterrestrial kit design (the sponsor ran down the kit!) jettisoning players like Litmanen, Kluivert and Finidi George into my mind forever (I can still recall the moment where George trapped a high ball with the outside of his boot against Panathinikos).
And this current Ajax side feels just a like that. And maybe, just maybe, there’s some 10 year old kid who wasn’t watching Man Utd not get a shot on target and instead watched the buckles being swashed in Amsterdam and fell in love with football they same way I did.
Yes these youngsters will all be sold to ‘bigger’ teams and become just players in bigger teams. But for now, for a moment, just appreciate the show.
Clon (Sargasso Sea FC)
Yes – Guardiola is one of the greats
Regarding Badwolf’s email about Guardiola. A quick wiki check of Guardiola’s first stint as boss of Barcelona.
Among the players out – a 28yr old Ronaldinho sold to AC Milan, yes, the Ronaldinho…., a 30yr old Deco, sold to Chelsea. Both players you would have to be pretty brave to hoof out of that team. Zambrotta, 31yrs old, a staple player in that Barca team also sold.
Players in – Pique (21yrs old), Biscuits (20). Alves (25). Messi was 21yrs old at the time as well, and while we all know how brilliant he has been for the past 11 years, no one then knew how good he would become, particularly on a consistent basis.
It was by no means obvious that Pep’s Barcelona would become all conquering. And it most definitely is not as simple as driving the best F1 car on the grid. They were not the best team in 2008 despite Guardiola, they were the best team in 2008 because of Guardiola.
He did exceptionally well at Bayern, Champions League aside, he’s doing incredibly well at Man City. And although the game against Spurs is one of the only times I can remember his team playing so negatively (or were they just knackered?), he is one of the great managers. I do agree having 22 players at an extremely high level, and the core being international class does make it easier, but the sole reason Guardiola finds himself in such a situation is because he is the best manager in the world, and it was only a matter of time until he went to a club with limitless reserves who wanted an ‘Elite’ manager.
By your logic Badwolf, Pellegrini, Mancini and Hughes all should have had it easy too!
(I’m an Arsenal fan by the way… And would love to know what Guardiola makes of Ozil)
Ummm, De Gea did well?
Mangor United, Belfast
Did you somehow miss the two good saves De Gea made last night? I came away from that game thinking United should sign him immedietly with whatever pay he wants because he played a role in keeping it down to 0-1 and more of a fighting chance later. He certainly deserves it more than Rashford (who is good but maybe not 300k a week good).
Certainly it wasn’t a repeat of his incredible performance against Spurs earlier but it was one of his better nights. The front was more of a disappointment for United yesterday.
Just had a tweet pop up saying “On this Day, Australia beat American Samoa 31-0”
Looking through the scorers and see the name Colosimo with a cheeky brace.
First thought, “is that the Colosimo who was part of a famous Rushden & Diamonds league win in Diamond Geezers?
Yes, it was.
Adam (Waiting for Maxim Tsigalko to get signed), Birmingham
Eden Hazard and Chelsea
That was a fine article on the comparisons of Hazard and Henry, also the comparisons between Arsenals decline and our own were a scary read because they hit home we could be I very big trouble if/when Hazard goes. I don’t think any Chelsea fan could ever hold it against him if he does leave he has been the shining light that dragged us through some tough times and agreed to give Sarri a year to see what happens unlike the other Belgian sitting on the Madrid bench right now. I do think there is a cause for optimism for the future though to briefly summarise the squad we do need a striker maybe if we could get Mitrovic for a decnt price it would be a low risk move but it’s a tough position to fill, if we can hold on to CHO him and Pulisic have bags of potential, our midfield is struggling a little bit at the minute but the quality we have in the center of the park should see us through. At the back we could probably do with signing a quality left back Emerson is useful but limited and as much as I love Alonso he is a liability when things are not going our way a bid for Ben Chilwell or possibly Wan Bisakka with Azpi swithcing back to the left back spot, either would be delightful. Our center halves are solid and Kepa is doing okay so far and he is young so there is lots of room for improvement. I know a lot hinges on this transfer ban being upheld or postponed but all in all the future could look a lot worse.
Aaron. CFC. Ireland.
This is their year though
Raul H. Garcia might as well ask himself why he keeps watching Liverpool when he knows they’re never going to win the league. At least that trope has got 29 years of evidence behind it, not 3 games*.
Also, didn’t United fans used face abuse because we were glory supporters? Why are we not allowed to turn up to watch our team be shit now? Is that because it disproves the glory supporter label or because you just feel sorry for us?
On another note, I fully expect Liverpool to hump this boring Barca side. Comfortably.
Ashley (*it’s probably their year though) Metcalfe
Man Utd signings
I largely agree on the assessment of United’s performance last night, particularly the large vacuum of any sort of competence that currently has the status as starting right-back and captain. Some poster earlier in the week maintained that there won’t be a huge overhaul of United’s squad, and I agree, but I do think there could be a few outside-of-the-box signings within the PL that would immediately sharpen up the squad without delving into ridiculous spend.
First up, with Valencia and now Young clearly needing of upgrade, right-back is a going concern. However, Dalot has shown enough to eventually nail-down that spot, so rather than spend big on AWB like rumoured, why not plump for the versatile (and cheap) option of say Erik Durm? Can cover left-back and defensive midfield too, but most importantly would be competent at defending first and foremost. Cedric Soares would be a possibility here too, particularly with the compatriot angle, but he may already have his heart set on Inter.
Centre-back needs a calm presence in there, so paying the mooted release fee for Alderweireld makes sense. Toby/Lindelof/Bailly and one of Smalling/Jones should be adequate cover, with Tuanzebe hopefully developing into a first-team option next season too.
Next up, McTominay has shown a bit lately to suggest he could bring more legs to Matic’s role, but still a good exponent of the art is required at DM. Well Wilfried Ndidi has made 154 interceptions and 221 clearances in the league so far this season and would bring more solidity to midfield and by extension the defence.
A slightly random choice for a passing midfielder brings me to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Four goals and two assists and an 83.9% pass success rate is decent for a player in a struggling team hampered by Mark Hughes for part of the season, and stands up to scrutiny when compared to all other of United’s midfielders save for Pogba. Again, wouldn’t be a massive outlay, and would be accepting of a rotation option you would imagine. Only turning 24 when next season begins, he hasn’t even hit his peak.
That would leave the marquee signing as either a right wing option (Sancho) or a replacement for Pogba should he turn up at the Bernabau (Coutinho). De Gea leaving will pose more problems though.
So essentially a squad of
Pogba (or Coutinho)
Lingard (or Sancho)
with the likes of Chong, Gomes and Greenwood to add youthful exuberance doesn’t look too disheartening to me.
Not exactly flashy signings, but that has exactly been United’s problem recently. Dipping into side’s at the lower end of the table certainly hasn’t affected Liverpool.
Greatest manager conversation
There seems to be a lot of conversation about Pep Guardiola being labelled the greatest manager ever and the people strongly refuting this. This seems to stem from the argument that he has only achieved what was expected of the clubs he was in charge of. First of all this ignores that Madrid also expected the title in La Liga and as many as 5 teams expect it in England. However, isn’t the main argument here that we are obsessed with naming someone the ‘best ever’ when in fact there are managers that suit different clubs and situations.
David Moyes was not a bad manager, he continually had Everton overachieving and putting pressure on the big boys. He found hiden gems that could do a job for him at Everton and gave them a bigger platform to show their talents. He normally set a rigid conservative game plan which was fine when you are the underdogs against what he was competing with, the old Top 4. Next, he gets thrust into a club that expects to win every game while dominating the ball and buying the best players. He doesn’t have, or never needed to develop, the skills to succeed in that situation.
Could Neil Warnock get Manchester City to win the league with record points and that style of play? We can safely say no. However, could Pep get the clubs Warnock has promoted into the Prem? Again, no as those skillsets are so different.
So instead of saying Pep is or isn’t the greatest ever cause of so many reasons maybe it’s time to acknowledge that certain managers are the best, or very good, at certain situations. Want promotion its Warnock. Survive relegation towards end of season it was Tony Pulis. Win domestic titles with lovely football its currently Pep.
The biggest skillset we may be underestimating in a manager is the ability to identify a good fit for themselves. Should Moyes have taken the United job knowing the vast difference in expectation and culture? Can you apply the same tactics from an overachieving mid table team to the most successful team at that moment and expect it to work? The players didn’t but into that and nor did the fans as the culture surrounding United was so different to what Moyes had at Everton
Pep picks clubs that can offer him the same tools he had at Barca, tools that helped him be successful. The same way Klopp picked Liverpool who had similarities to Dortmund. A manager isn’t just good or bad the same way a player isn’t good or bad, they have certain skills and characteristics that mean they thrive in certain situations and environments.
There is no greatest ever as no one can do everything, but there is the best for the current situation. If your current situation is that you have the best players, or the ability to get them, and want to win the title with great football then maybe Pep is the best for you.
VAR rears its ugly head again
I know people are probably sick to death of it now, but after the round of CL games this week, VAR rears its ugly head again. To be absolutely blunt, I despise it. I hate the idea that we get yet another subjective opinion, I hate that we are trying to make deliberately vague rules more black and white, and I hate that we are sacrificing our love of this magnificent game for a game where the rules are the most important thing. Oh, and I hate that I see it as another move towards recognising that those in charge value TV entertainment more than the utter confusion of fans in the ground who don’t have a clue why a goal has been disallowed.
But it’s coming. However, I think there is one middle ground which makes it quick, non-intrusive and ensures it does what we were all told is the key thing – stop the absolute howlers (Henry v Ireland etc). That is, the ref can have one, full speed replay of the incident. If the incident was such a howler, he will spot his mistake straight away, without the need for seven replays from five different angles at 1/50th normal speed. One full speed replay showed that Suarez was clearly onside, avoiding disallowing a perfectly good goal for a non-marginal decision. But is an offside of a matter of 2cm a “clear and obvious error”? If the ref is having to watch a replay five times, surely that is evidence enough that any error was not “clear and obvious”? This keeps the power with the officials, still allows them the benefit of the safety net (allowing more attacking advantage for offsides for example) and eliminates the shocker.
That’s my twopenneth anyway. I hate it, I will always hate it, but this would make it bearable. Just.
Michael Byrne, Abu Dhabi Reds.YNWA
British clubs and European refs
A few alluded to it in the morning mailbox, but it’s genuinely becoming a fascination of mine when watching the CL: English clubs almost universally get a raw rub from the officials. Maybe not in isolated incidents, (hi Kimbempe) but across 90 minute matches.
Watching Busquets, Vidal, Suarez, and earlier in the season Chiellini – these players absolutely boss the referees. I’m not sure if it’s the way they yell when touched, the way they wave their arms or what – but they are playing the system and playing it well. If a professional referee watches Jesse Lingard’s ‘assault’ on Vidal and deems that a yellow card – his first foul btw – then I no longer understand football.
These players constantly waste time when winning, constantly hold the ball to prevent counters, constantly hit the ground screaming as if their career is over and – more importantly – refs constantly fall for it. Just watch Chiellini in the final minutes of the Athletico tie: Morata tries to burst through and potentially get a game winning touch, Chiellini not only blocks his path off the ball, but proceeds to act as though both his ACLs have popped along with presumably his spleen and lo and behold, the foul goes the other way. It’s magnificent.
Contrast that with Harry Kane on Tuesday. His diving technique is abysmal. If that’s Suarez in the same situation he gets it.
Football is a game of small margins, especially at the highest level. Obviously we have 4 clubs still in it this year, so doing fine, but I definitely think we have things to learn from our continental counterparts. Because one thing is for sure, these refs are going to fall for it.
Ryan (still bitter about Cakir), Bermuda
The impossible question
Dastardly question for Spurs fans, as I’m curious. If you had to get rid of one out of Son or Kane, who would you pick?
Lee (Arsenal v Napoli should be a corker), LFC