Could Man Utd be on just two points after eight games of the season? Plus, more responses to Graeme Souness’ comments, Haaland>Nunez and more…
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A football weekend…
Just wanted to tell a bit of a story about my weekend in Manchester. For context, we are a family of Bournemouth fans, the last PL away game we made it to was at Anfield just three days before the Atletico ‘super-spreader’ game at the start of the pandemic.
I’ve been to the Etihad before, watched Bournemouth lose 4-0 that day too. On that previous occasion I’d been with my mate and my father-in-law and really didn’t enjoy it; the away fans were squeezed into a very narrow fillet of all three tiers and there was no real scope for atmosphere. Also I didn’t really get all the corporate fluff around the stadium beforehand; seemed a bit over the top and detracting from the actual football match. This time, I had my 10yo with me and he absolutely loved it. Being a nice day they had loads of activities for kids outside the ground, table tennis, football games and the usual face-painting and so on. With my ‘dad’ hat on rather than the more laddish approach six years ago I could see how this stuff gets the kids hooked and City are clearly doing a great job. Would just be nice if away fans could go in the outside bar!
In the ground, they were filling up water bottles for free no questions asked – and letting you keep the lids, in a welcome relaxation of rules. Meat and potato pie was rubbish however. It is still a narrow section for away fans but given the smaller travelling support now we only had two tiers. The view is pretty good from anywhere to be honest and I am a big fan of the safe standing. City fans built up a fairly strong atmosphere for kickoff, welcoming Haaland and celebrating the title win but the blue smoke served only to hide the pitch for the first five minutes. As we weren’t anticipating much, our end was quiet apart from the usual small tiny quota who would still prefer Bournemouth to be in League 1. Unfortunately they were standing right next to us. Despite their throwback and abusive songs and self-professed ‘casuals’ attitude not once did I see these fans at Millwall, Luton or Huddersfield last season. You’re only embarrassing yourselves, lads. Props to the official club coach travel steward who put them in their place.
On the pitch, we’d kicked off then settled into a flat back 9 which is mostly where we stayed. You might know what City are going to do, but you can’t stop it; the options they have are frightening. Haaland wasn’t great but still occupied our central defenders leaving acres of space for reverse passes to whichever of the inside forwards fancied it to run on to; most of the goals came this way. De Bruyne’s second goal was one of those you can only applaud when in the ground, we were right behind it and he placed it in the only part of the goal Travers couldn’t cover. Looked even better on the TV. Second half was quiet and I think we actually did ok. Arsenal home this weekend will be interesting, then it is Anfield again. On the whole, enjoyed the day apart from some of the behaviour from our own fans, didn’t get sunburn, saw some great players and ‘only’ lost 4-0.
On Sunday we’d arranged to do the Old Trafford stadium tour as part of my son’s birthday present, he supports ‘Bournemouth and Ronaldo now’. Growing up in the north-west I had done this in 1991 but let’s just say it has changed a bit. They must employ more people just for tours and associated ‘selling you stuff’ than Bournemouth do in total. Lots of gallows humour amongst the United employees following Saturday’s result, quite apt as the tours are a bit like visits to the crematorium with a 20 person tour departing every ten minutes all day. You’re briskly moved around various points in the stadium, visiting the VIP area in the North Stand, the away corner (standing there in an otherwise empty stadium brought back vivid memories of the evacuation game in 2016), the home dressing room and the tunnel. The tour guides were excellent. Pragmatic about the state the club is in without being critical and very revealing about the behaviour of members of the playing staff. They had loads of stories but at no point could they quite hide that the stadium is definitely a bit tired. Certainly doesn’t compare favourably with the Etihad.
After the tour you can go to the museum which is brilliant. The Munich section is carefully and tastefully done and very moving and the section on the early managers and ground development is really interesting. Well worth a visit. Then it’s the café and the Megastore. The former again seems to employ a small town worth of staff and were it not for Fred the Red coming in to pose for birthday parties you could have been anywhere. The Megastore is a bit dark and weirdly understaffed, there are no fitting rooms but you can buy hair straighteners and shaving clippers with the United crest on.
I’d recommend the tour just for the museum, but having been there on matchdays it is apparent that otherwise the whole place is lagging behind City in terms of what it brings to the football ‘consumer’.
Andy J, Bournemouth
Silver Linings ‘Chelsea’ and City/Liverpool thoughts
Bit late to the post-match ‘referee fury party’, but after the red mist of injustice had settled, I’m extremely happy with our performance yesterday.
For the best part of 60minutes, Spurs couldn’t get anywhere close to us and we dominated them in a way only two other teams in the league are capable of.
This is despite big changes to our team, however, Koulibaly looks exactly like the world-class player he has always been touted to be and Cucurella looks like for once a brilliant, expensive acquisition by Chelsea-I’m sure Chilwell will respond to the challenge for his place as I personally can’t see Cucurella playing LCB that often for us.
On another day, Chelsea could have won that game 4-0 (or even lost 3-2 if Kane buried his chance)
One thing that gets lost in the City/Liverpool rivalry (in my opinion at least), is exactly how good City are. I think a large part of this is due to the fact they don’t have much support online or in the media, which is of course not the case with Liverpool. Even when City lose or draw, they often dominate the entire game anyway and it’s often fine margins that cost them.
With Liverpool I would argue it has been different, they won a lot of games through their mental strength. Staying in games they were being outplayed (or at least not being dominant) in and Mane,Salah etc stepped up with a late winner. Sad to say as a Chelsea fan that Diaz looks like he will also do this for them as well.
Liverpool has been largely brilliant ever since Klopp has been in charge and like Wenger with Arsenal, I think people lose sight of the disadvantage those clubs have faced against the financial power of Chelsea and City.
Last note is on Trent- honestly, if you watch him play and choose to highlight what he CAN’T do, then you really need to lighten up and enjoy watching someone that is simply a phenomenal footballer.
I can’t stand these CR7vs Messi Gerrard vs Lampard James/TAA debates. I can’t be alone in just enjoying watching all of them irrespective of my own personal allegiance.
FWIW I’d start Trent at RWB and have the discussion be between Walker/James as the RCB for England- Trent is far too good to not be accommodated in England’s XI and I’d make the same argument for Reece, although Walker is probably ahead of Reece defensively, purely by dent of being available for more games and avoiding injury.
Anyways…PL, thanks goodness its back!
Liverpool fans, stop moaning about the ref…
Having read this morning’s Mailbox and seeing numerous Liverpool fans complaining about the ref’s performance, can I remind them that at Selhurst Park last year Kevin Friend and his VAR mates spent 5 minutes working out how to overturn a correct onfield decision to give a penalty for Jota ignoring the ball to run into the keeper and swan dive. It is still the most ludicrous VAR decision I have seen.
Enjoy your relegation playoff with Manchester United next week. Give Manchester City the title now.
Two points after eight games?
Reading Niallio’s mail this morning about United’s upcoming fixtures, and it’s just struck me. In the not-entirely-unlikely event we, say, lose to Liverpool, Leicester, Arsenal & Palace, and somehow muster draws against Southampton & Leeds, we’ll have just two points from eight games…
Colm (Galwegian exiled in Lancashire)
I appreciate Souness has since come out to offer an explanation for his comments on Sunday.
But it still doesn’t excuse the fact that he was sat next to Karen Carney and his brain thought ‘yeah, I’ll say it’s a man’s game’ -and then minutes later use the same sort of language.
It’s just common empathy – how about engaging your brain and thinking, ‘could what I’m about to say offend my colleague sat next to me who has just as much as right to be doing this job as I do?’.
He could easily have made the point about referees taking a more light touch approach in his day without putting poor Karen in an uncomfortable position.
Sky could literally have any former player sat in that studio – William Gallas played for both clubs as did Jason Cundy. It’s a privilege to be asked to be a pundit on games – Souness would do well to remember that.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Just read Martin (YNWA) defence of Graeme Souness. Each to his own, I’m not getting dragged into that one. What did prompt a reply was his statement ‘I also don’t feel the Lionesses success ‘ends the 56 year wait’ any more than when the England U17’s won the World Cup in 2017.’ Why not Martin? A senior England team won a major international football tournament, the first for 56 years. Pretty much ends the wait, no? Or could it be that you think women’s football is somehow lesser than men’s football? I’m sorry that you don’t find women’s football interesting. I wonder why. Try watching the Euro highlights. They might just change your mind.
Exiled Gooner (Ella Toone’s goal in the final was worth a year’s Sky subs at least)
I expect there’ll be a few letters but let me see if I can help Martin (YNWA) out with some nuances of what’s actually happening here. Let’s start with what Graeme Souness actually said; it was sexist, pure and simple. What he was saying is that ‘real’ football is now back, after that pesky interlude over the summer when we had to put up with the women playing their ‘inferior product’ (and he can make as many statements after the event to say that isn’t what he meant; no-one’s buying). So that is the base position that we’re starting from. Cue the upset.
But here’s the thing; no-one actually disputed Graeme Souness’s freedom to spout sexist balls. You see, the great thing about it is that he actually can say this kind of stuff, but other people equally have the right to call him on it, point out what a Neanderthal he is (which is a bit unfair to Neanderthals – everything I’ve studied about them suggests they were stand-up guys), and criticize the tone of this, and indeed any, comment he makes using a public platform. Just like I can criticize Martin (YNWA)’s letter, and of course, he can criticize mine. That’s how free speech rolls. So no, Martin (YNWA), this ain’t because he used the word ‘men’ or any the rest of the paranoid conspiracy stuff you hinted at in your letter.
Although of course, there is one group who can tell him to shut up – no, not wimmin, or lefty liberals who want to police his freedom, or anyone else the less intellectually developed on the right of politics usually look to when they hear the dog whistles blow. But actually, it’s his employers, the ones paying him to spout whatever passes for analysis he occasionally offers. And it rather appears that someone might have had a word in his ear, hence his rather confused ‘clarification’ to his comments. Now Martin (YNWA), this is where you need to pay especially close attention; this is not an infringement of his freedom to spout claptrap, but a business decision – not a conspiracy, it’s business. If his bosses decide that he’s p*ssing people off they have the absolute right to ask him to wind his neck in. My employers have the same right when it comes to me saying stuff to the clients, and I would guess, Martin (YNWA)’s too.
Now, I know that it seems wildly unfair to a certain group of people that they can’t say exactly what they want, when they want, but here’s the final thing to understand about free speech – it is not, never has been, and almost certainly never will be an absolute right. It has always been limited.
Hope that helps,
I think Martin (YWNA) is missing the point
Souness’ “men’s game” comment was in reference to rough play and the ref letting things go.
It can be inferred from this that the old curmudgeon’s comment was in the vein of the tired rhetoric that real men enjoy physicality. Akin to the use of colloquialisms such as “man up”, which I am sure we should all be able to agree has no place in today’s society where women and girls still have to endure a lot more hardship than men, and are generally far more adept at putting up with both physical and mental pain. A kick in the balls is not tantamount to labour.
I think most men could do with a firm dose of womaning up.
Dom – Feminist and proud – Littleford
Sorry I just had to reply to Morgan the Liverpool fan, saying the Glazers have spent a huge amount of money is like saying Boris Johnson has spent vast fortunes on the NHS, both statements are blatantly untrue. The Glazers have saddled the club with £600m of debt and under their ownership have taken out £1.2b whilst still leaving us £600m in debt, they bought the club with the club’s own money and haven’t put a penny of their own cash into the club they have just sucked out vast amounts like cash mosquitos. All money spent on players however badly is money generated by United, the Glazers still syphon off vast amounts without ever putting in, so by all means have ago about the awful slipshod recruitment United have subjected fans to but don’t ever try to tell us the Glazers have spent anything of their own as they haven’t and until the bloated American parasites are ousted from our club nothing will ever change.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Am I the only one actually enjoying the refereeing thus far? Souness had it spot on, they’re letting more things go and it’s making for more enjoyable games as a neutral.
Big teams not getting their usual bias? Tough luck, you’ve had the good times now enjoy not getting the 50/50s your way anymore. The majority of fans are pleased about this, and long may it continue.
Teams are no longer frightened of going to Old Trafford or Anfield and fans don’t like it because they don’t roll over and give them the 3 points. Palace were excellent in their game plan and deserved to win. Yes they rode their luck but it wasn’t the referee who missed chance after chance, look at your team before blaming him.
Sara (revenge 7-0 win for Town tonight)
Just a pointless musing really, but there seems to be far more loans with contracted options to buy, it’s massively skewed in favour of the buyers as the fee is agreed in advance. It did get me wondering why they do this, it’s not cash flow as they could just have negotiated to defer the payment on a perm transfer. Is it just an accounting trick where the depreciation of the player is one year further and so by moving the sale into another year they can report it as some kind of player trading profit?
Anyone on here know the real reasons?
Now that we know that Haaland>Nunez, who wears the man bun better? I say, Nunez, what say you?
Nunez and the tractor boys
Watched the Liverpool v Palace match, enjoyable and Palace probably should have nicked it at the death. But reading the letters this morning pointing their fingers at the ref, what the fuck.
The best thing that Nunez did was to get himself sent off, down to 10 men Liverpool started to up the intensity and pace. But for 60 mins their football was best described as agricultural, the long ball stick it in the mixer just played into the Palace back line. But for a wonder goal from Diaz, the match was spent watching Robertson and TAA sling in cross after cross.
Liverpool will miss Mane, and I’m not sure Nunez is the answer. Thought for the day that if United beat Liverpool next week the scousers go below them!!!