Are Manchester City failures if they beat Liverpool to the Premier League title?

Date published: Monday 16th May 2022 2:05 - Editor F365

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Riyad Mahrez

If Man City beat Aston Villa on Sunday they will be Premier League champions for fourth time in five years. Is that enough?

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Lots of ‘facts’ about Man City
I just wanna share some facts of this season about Manchester City.

Following are facts ( please factually prove me wrong if I am wrong. Let us not get emotions in the way )

• Pep has failed to win the domestic cups for city this season.

• He has failed for the past seven years or so to win any European Cups for City.

• He has not brought success to his billion dollar assembled team sponsored by rich oil owners.

• the philosophy of City seem to be money can buy titles ( and purchasing million pound players is a major strategy).

• Pep and City are failures this season, even if they manage to pip Liverpool to the title. They have not won any of the domestic cups. From a 12 point lead in the league last December they dropped points to take only a one point lead over Liverpool and were made to work hard to maintain that lead. They still need to win their last game against Villa and cannot afford to lose it. That shows how precarious their lead have been in the EPL. Whereas Liverpool have surpassed them as far as winning the number of cups available to be won this season domestically and Liverpool have the possibility of doing the treble if they win the European Cup! Between Liverpool and City, Liverpool are the team of the season and the most successful team in terms of cups won, this season. Liverpool is also the most successful team in terms of the number of trophies and titles won by an English Club. And Klopp has already won all that a manager can possibly win in his 6 years with Liverpool.

• Pep has failed and not gone beyond expectations as City manager for the 7 years he is in charge of City.

• Buying Haaland is no guarantee that City will achieve its quadruple goals for next season. City should aim to win all cups and titles available every season. Success should not be based on regularly winning the domestic league title and they will always be inferior to the European giants who have won the European Cups, until they can win it at least a few times over.

• This is just my opinion – Pep has done all he can possibly do with City. It is time for city to change manager.

• City will pip Liverpool for the EPL title. But they are no mentality monsters. When they had the opportunity to wrap the title up early in December being 12 points clear at the top (& media and almost everyone else predicting that the title was city’s already and that no other team would be able to catch them and similar blah blah blah) City dropped points till they were just one point ahead! They had to be on their toes for the rest of the season and couldn’t afford to lose! What must be most worrying for Pep, city players, the oil rich owners and their fans, was yesterday’s stumble at West Ham !! Did you see panic and fear on Pep’s face at the match ! That must have transferred to his players on the pitch!

However, Villa won’t be able to stop City from winning against them. Steven Gerrard is only a rookie manager compared to Pep! City will be all over Villa and will thrash Villa and finally, on the last day of the EPL, win their only cup and title for the season.
Zaccheus Edward


Some Mailbox reactions
Some interesting points in this am’s mailbox. In response:

Andrew Goonerbread Brown : your on to something, but I think we should go further. To support your refs mouthing decisions idea, not only should refs be mic’d up NFL Style , they should also include hand signals for the hard of hearing – imagine Mike Dean, pressing their hip mic and saying “No Penalty, Spurs No 10, simulation, legs like jelly for a non-existent penalty, deeeeefence ball” – whilst making the universal hand signal for w*nker and tell me that’s not the future.

JR, Londonderry : Hard to disagree with the list of trophy importance but at if clubs had to choose between a Premier League title winning season with early cup exits or a treble CL, FA and League Cup winning one – which would they favour?

Mike, Manchester : Agree whole heartedly – if Emma Hayes was called Alan Hayes, she would already be into her third season Championship or higher-level men’s football.
Eugene “Our U18’s won the league this weekend” Murray, Earls Barton United FC, Northampton



One of the best final days ever?
If Liverpool avoid defeat tomorrow night, the title will go down to the last day (although they clearly need to win to have any realistic chance). Last-day title deciders are actually pretty rare. This would be just the third time in the last 10 seasons that the title has gone to the wire. What would make this year even rarer though, is that everything else will also go down to the last day.

Whatever happens in the midweek games, relegation and the final Champion’s League place will still be up for grabs on Sunday. The last time that the title, top four and relegation were all on the line on the final day was 11/12 and I think there have only been 2 or 3 occasions that it has happened since “top four” became a thing.

Throw into the mix the battle for the Europa/Europa Conference league between West Ham and Man United and this is shaping up to be potentially one of the best final days the Premier League has ever seen. It is a fitting end to what has been a great season.
Mike, LFC, London


What’s Chelsea’s next step?
Fair play to Liverpool, they got themselves over the line, but so frustrating to be playing the final with so many injured. Of course you expect to have injuries toward the end of a long season, Liverpool started without Fabinho, but to be without Christensen, Chilwell, Havertz, CHO and Werner was beyond bad luck, three of those absentees within the last three days. That’s besides trying to play Kovacic in a game where he struggled to get his boot on as his foot was so swollen.

Not having the guile of Havertz, the speed of Werner or Hudson-Odoi afforded Liverpool the reassurance of minimal exposure to the counter attack and little opportunity to exploit the space left by Liverpool wing backs. An unfit Kovacic and Kante only being able to manage a 50/60 minutes each was there to see as the match went on and fitness dipped.

Chelsea can rise to the challenge of a final, to have made four with a 50% success rate seems ok but league form has never hit any consistency to chase City and Liverpool, so it’s a big challenge to remodel the squad for next year.

Boehly and Tuchel have a big job on their hands. As for Liverpool can they do the quadruple seems unlikely but City have opened the door.

P.s Booing Abide With Me, really!!
P Didi


Dubravka for Chelsea?
With the gossip persisting that Newcastle want Dean Henderson as their new keeper that should make Martin Dubravka a man in demand. He is a quality goalkeeper and with Kepa looking like leaving Chelsea this summer id love for us to pick up Dubravka as cover and competition for Mendy. He has let in a lot of goals but thats hardly his fault when before Christmas his defensive line was basically non existent and he got a lot of practise in making some great saves. With potentially Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs needing to add cover in goals this summer all could do a lot worse than and in Spurs case Gollini is definitely not a better keeper than Dubravka.
Aaron CFC Ireland


Getting shirty
I saw on twitter the other day, the leaked Saudi themed jersey as Newcastle’s third kit. Putting aside the fact that I saw quite a few ‘leaked’ jerseys last summer which turned out to be completely inaccurate, this one is a bit more emotive than the usual ones which get ‘I don’t like the collar’ or ’it looks like a training top’ type criticism at best.

Assuming its real, I am not super thrilled about it. I can see the commercial logic of it, they’ll surely shift a lot of third team kits in Saudi and will help to establish the Toon as the team to follow out there. I think that it could be purely a commercial move, and the assumption that it is the Saudi Prince pulling the strings is something I am a little sceptical about,

I do think its remarkably tone deaf though. There are a lot of eyes on this first summer under the new owners and most of the moves have been sensible; training ground updates, forging links with the community and ambitious but not deranged squad investment. But this is potentially going to completely overshadow all that good work. There’ll be a section of Toon fans who will wear it with pride to wind people up and lots of opposing fans using it to say ‘told you so, its all about sportswashing’, and I am not looking forward to any of it.

I’ve seen examples of Chelsea, Leicester and PSG doing similar without the same accusations, and to be honest if I was rich enough to buy Newcastle United I would certainly be tempted to have a sneaky Irish themed jersey, is that so bad?

I did see a weird comment already saying a Saudi themed jersey is only the start, not sure what they have in mind as a logical conclusion to that, beheading at half time in the league cup games to draw a bigger crowd?
Derek from Dundalk


Dear Emerson Royal…
I’m really sorry.

When the tabloids printed stories about Barcelona laughing their arse off at the money spurs spent on you, I lapped it up.

I mentally worked out the right backs spurs have sold over the last 3 or 4 years prior to you taking the position. It’s Kyle Walker, Kyle Walker peters, Kieran trippier and champions league semi finalists Juan foyth and serge aurier by the way.

I desperately looked on the intersurf for the clip of you and Sanchez basically not being able to pass to each other.

When Liverpool supporting mates were texting prior to the draw at anfield saying they were nervous, I said – we’ve got Emerson royal. You’ll be fine.

You’ve played awesome lately. I was wrong and you deserved more of a chance.

Andrew, Woodford Green


Not the Top Six
Couldn’t help being reminded at the weekend that if football wants to import something from the Super Bowl, they should forget half time shows and take inspiration from the way Super Bowls are generally dramatic or exciting affairs, whereas cup finals in football aren’t always that way.

* Aston Villa v Crystal Palace had all the makings of a nothing, end of season game between two lower-midtable sides with at least one eye on the summer and beyond. However, the sides’ managers, Steven Gerrard and Patrick Vieira were seldom shrinking violets in their playing careers, and the past few meetings of these sides have been a bit spicy: Tyrone Mings and Christian Benteke have both been sent off for their roles in amplifying, and failure to handle, the amount of needle.

* Vieira took the opportunity to try his typical second-choice formation, a 5-3-2. Cheikhou Kouyate played as the third centre-back, with Luka Milivojevic in midfield between Eberechi Eze and Conor Gallagher. Milivojevic will always be criticised by Palace fans, and every appearance seems to highlight just how long it’s been since his time as their most important player.

* Villa took the lead midway through the second half, with Palace upset at what they felt was a foul in the build-up. Looking at a replay, you can see they had a case, as Ollie Watkins did appear to wrestle Marc Guehi in a way that made the defender slip. However, Guehi should have been stronger, to hold his ground and get the ball out of his feet. It’s something he’ll learn from, and only really stands out for its rarity in what has by any standard been an excellent season for him.

* Palace made changes after this in search of an equaliser. Odsonne Edouard came on in place of Jean-Philippe Mateta and almost immediately earned a yellow card. Good work. Two further changes came shortly before the equaliser: Milivojevic departed in place of Benteke and Jeffrey Schlupp came on for Eze, as the Eagles changed back to 4-3-3 (Kouyate moved into midfield). A free kick from the left was crossed in by Gallagher but not cleared properly. Joachim Andersen mopped up and crossed the ball back in, where Guehi, wearing the captain’s armband, redeemed himself with a header towards goal, which Schlupp prodded home.

* A draw was a fair result in the end, but both teams deserve credit for spending 90 minutes trying to win a game that only had these three points, personal pride and an opportunity to entertain the supporters at stake. Both teams have a Thursday night game to look forward to, with the chance to have a huge impact on the relegation battle: Palace travel to Goodison Park, while the Villans host Burnley. Another fixture list coincidence sees them both face Manchester sides on the final day.

* Frank Lampard’s side just can’t help themselves, can they? First there were the potentially libellous comments against an anti-poverty campaigner, then “if I work from home I get distracted by cheese”, and to cap it all off, that ridiculous red card for Salomon Rondon.

* Ashley Barnes is a difficult player to feel sorry for. The polar opposite of playing with a smile on your face, he has all the attitude for officials but none of the numbers to back it up with his own performances. In general there are three degrees of handball: a deliberate attempt to touch the ball with the hand or arm; a deliberate attempt to touch the ball that incidentally uses the hand or arm; inadvertent contact with the hand or arm. The first of those is a clear penalty, and the third should be waved away, but unfortunately, the second is a grey area and that where the Barnes incident fits. To use another helpful rule, the palms of Barnes’s hands were facing the ball, which generally (but not infallibly) indicates the intentions of the handler.
Ed Quoththeraven


On Leeds and an improvement
After recently criticising all things dogmatic, it was a relief that Jesse listened to reason and used a few passages from Bielsa’s coaching manual.

The team shape reverted to the 4 1 4 1 which helped in a number of ways. Passing around at the back had a purpose (get it to Kalvin) instead of just drawing the opposition forward before a hoof. With two holding midfielders it’s all too congested to get Kal on the ball. Also, Raphinha and Harrisson had licence to get chalk on their boots so we also had better options for retaining possession, and out-balls to relieve pressure.

Leeds could have been four down at halftime, all too often the ball went wide, the player dribbled backwards, and as the defence started to push out an underlapping run was all too easy to make and find with the ball.

That said we stayed in the game and created chances. It was by no means a great performance, but there were spells where we looked dangerous again.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips under pressure against Brighton at Elland Road

Credit where it is due, Jesse got a performance out of them, far from perfect, but hopefully just enough. To score so late on when the only realistic attacking option we had from the bench was young Sam Greenwood is also pleasing.

Hopefully a point will be enough, we saw how Jannson reacted to being asked to let a goal in against Villa a few years back, so I’m not anticipating any favours from him in the Brentford game.
Richard Magson


The Mailbox is VAR from over
Didn’t see the Spurs game, so can’t comment on the specifics re. Ashley Barnes.

I do find the anger about VAR, specifically, tiresome though.

There is nothing wrong about using video to reach the correct decision. If the Barnes decision was a bad one, then it was because of human error. One of the humans that erred may well have been a video assistant referee but it was the person and/or the policy makers that you should be blaming – not the very concept of checking some of the footage to verify an important decision – a concept that is so inherently sensible, and successfully deployed in so many other sports, that it is, unequivocally, not the problem.

For all the anger ‘VAR’ causes (and again, people are conflating the concept with its poor application by people), I don’t think it makes them any more angry than not scoring a goal because of a blatant handball off the line (a “Suarez”, if you will) to deny a goal just because the ref missed it – and I can’t for the life of me understand any logic that says blatantly incorrect decisions, that the whole world knows we’re incorrect within seconds, shouldn’t be overturned.

The PL approach to VAR is abysmal. But they have it all over Europe, including the Champion’s League – where it is much more seamless and far less controversial. Its just PGMOL’s terrible implementation that’s the problem.

And finally, John’s second gripe, the “unnaturally position” rant. Again, didn’t see the Tottenham/Burnley game so not saying the Barnes call was a correct decision, but by “unnatural position”, they obviously mean deliberately “making yourself big”. The point is that a defender doing star jumps to maximise their chance of cutting out the cross shouldn’t get away with it just because the ball was kicked from a short distance away. That is a very obvious and sensible policy that reflects that the “deliberate” element doesn’t necessarily mean that the hand needs to have moved to the ball, nor does the ball need to have been kicked from a long way away, for the player to have known what he was doing.
Andy (MUFC)


…John Nicholson’s latest column bemoaning the penalty decision given against Ashley Barnes takes aim at entirely the wrong people. He starts by saying it was a ‘moronic decision’ when it was an obviously correct decision – a referee’s job is to apply the laws and that is what occurred. What he means is that it is a moronic law which I agree with.

He then goes on to bemoan VAR for about 10000 words when again, VAR has correctly applied the laws and done exactly the job it is supposed to. There’s nothing that says because we have VAR we have to have stupid handball laws (or offside decisions for that matter). Just go back to the old handball laws, keep VAR and you can prevent Maradona/Henry type travesties without any of the nonsensical decisions we have seen over the last three or four years. This isn’t difficult to solve.
Phil, London


…I read Johnny Nic article about VAR and handball.

His argument about defenders being forced to play with hands behind their back made a little sense.

That in close quarters a player can’t stop the ball from hitting their arm and so it shouldn’t be punished with a penalty. At first I agreed, it did seem unfair. Until I thought about it some more and realised he’s wrong.

Anyone thinking he’s right should close your eyes and imagine this scenario.

It’s the World Cup final. 90th minute. England are pressing for the goal which will win the world cup. Kane shoots from 6 yards. It’s going in. But it hits the defenders arm from close quarters and is then cleared by the defence. England go on to lose the trophy.

How many people including Johnny himself would think that’s fair and agree with the decision to not award a penalty? My guess is not many.

The next thing I want to challenge is his notion that players need to flail like an octopus for balance. You don’t. Look at any sport were balance is important; gymnasts on a balance beam, gymnasts on the floor, martial arts. Despite being acrobatic and using balance on one leg most of the time while the other is in high positions, arms are never out wide flailing. They’re tucked into what Johnny would probably call an unnatural position, and that’s because arms aren’t used for balance. They’re not needed for balance. Your centre of gravity controls that.

Truth is defenders don’t use arms for balance, they use them for advantage. Pulled across the strikers chest to stop him moving, a sly dig with the elbow or forearm when contesting a ball in the air and preventing shots and crosses from reaching their destination. They’re not as obvious as Maradona anymore thanks to technology. They try to disguise it by pretending to need their arms for balance.

But but but they need their arms for running! Yes they do. But when the ball hits a defender they’re nearly always stationary, not running.

So what can defenders do about the ball hitting their arms? What they’re already doing, putting them behind their back.
P.s Thiago should def have seen red. Thanks Ref! Cheque is in the post.


What would you change about football?
Reading Johnny Nic’s protest over VAR had me thinking how I wish I could get those who govern the rules of the game in a room and give them a piece of my mind. A question popped into my head for the mailbox. If you could change any of the rules in the game right now, what would they be? Here are some of my favourites, and a few wildcards that might just make things worse.

1. Stop the clock when the ball is out of play and shorten the length of the game. Not particularly original and needs little explanation, but surprisingly it hasn’t been seriously considered yet as far as we know.

2. Scrap VAR as it is and give each team 1 challenge per half/game that is lost if the ref decides not to overturn the original decision. The big draw of this is to address the fact that VAR was only supposed to stop the whopping great injustices that crop up a few times a season. The players invariably spot the clear and obvious. If they want to waste their challenge on a nothing incident then that’s their call and they can just shut up when it blows up in their face later on.

3. Handball rule. Penalties for deliberate handballs in the box only. Free kicks for all those harsh, “could he have done anything about it?” incidents.

And now some I am less sure about….

4. Classic red card for the last defender pulling down the attacker outside the box? Not any more. Don’t send him off. Just give the penalty and a yellow.

5. Orange cards. 15 mins in the ‘sin bin’. No more ruined games for silly sending offs. Violent conduct and nasty tackles sure, but those last man incidents above could fit this category. Two yellows equals an orange. Those headbutts that are not really headbutts/pushes/light slaps that inevitably lead to the opponent going to ground as if hit with a brick can be orange too. No more winding up a player for a soft red. The other benefit of this one is refs can be a bit more free with their yellow card. As it stands they are too afraid of booking players early and then having to send them off later leading to some infuriating inconsistent reffing.

6. This one’s a bit crazy to be fair. Penalties taken from where the foul was. No more easy free shots for fouls on the edge of the box or halfway to the corner flag. Players still need to leave the box and be 10 yards away, but it would create a lot more interesting scenarios. A line of players stood on the edge of the box racing to get on the end of a passed penalty from the side of the box would be fun.
Nic, Lancaster

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