If Sadio Mane wanted a ‘new challenge’ then why didn’t he try and help Helsingborgs win the Champions League? Plus, it’s two wins already for Man Utd, Mo Salah’s new contract, Spurs optimism and lots more…
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Why Salah was always going to sign a new contract at Liverpool…
I bet a friend of mine a few weeks ago that Salah would sign a new Liverpool contract (he’s a Liverpool fan, I’m United) and now I’m here to explain why. It’s not that I wanted Salah to stay at Liverpool, he’s obviously been great for them, but there was something weird with it all. Mainly, that he wasn’t getting any offers for a player that good.
Usually when the elite players near the end of contracts, there’s nothing but constant rumours. Especially considering that it was fairly public that he was rejecting them – that’s when the vultures tend to circle, or at the very least that’s when agents use any whispers as a bargaining chip in negotiations (think Ramos using United for a Real contract). Not that I think Salah would do that particular thing, but it was oddly quiet. Even when he said before the champions league final that he’d see out his year, usually someone comes along to test that resolve, like Real putting a big offer in for Mbappe last year. Going into his last year, it was very, very weird that someone didn’t offer Liverpool £60m just to see what they’d do.
Then I got to thinking, Salah doesn’t seem like he’d be as good for just any team – Liverpool suit him, whereas Mane seems more transferable. I obviously don’t mean that in a bad way but the only other manager I think he’d be as good for is Pep. Maybe at Bayern too. I don’t think he’d be bad for Barca, Real, PSG but just not at the same level, and I think the quietness is what made him take the Liverpool offer.
On another note, something that really annoys me is that when Carragher talks about Salah or some other players he says, “what I love about him is that he’s never injured”. It’s ridiculous and archaic as if it’s a choice. Players don’t ask to be injured (very few may feign it) and there are many stories of players rushing back so they can play in an important game or help the team and then get injured worse. It’s an odd stick to beat someone with when it’s literally their body – I’m sure even for Liverpool that Thiago and Henderson hate being injured.
And I can’t answer all of Lee’s mail because I think it’s ridiculous, but the question of “would you rather the best woman in the world or the worst man”, is extremely condescending and patronizing to women in a mail that thinks it’s defending women. Just support your women’s team like your men’s.
Two wins already…
The arrival of Tag is a big win already as alluded to by your article, but United have another win that will count for more than three points, the departure of Pogba.
Football teams enable young men to maintain the attitude of schoolboys until they are thirty+. While the rest of us have to sort our lives out, scrabble around for a job, a house, a partner etc, these young men have it all handed to them on a plate, (the partner attraction is based on Mrs Merton’s “what attracted you to millionaire footballer?). These are growing-up factors, and they are lacking for Premier League football players.
In school, the dominant figure is the rogue, the bad apple, or the out-and-out bully, with a gang around that all cheer him on sycophantically in the hope of a pat on the head. They were the ones that decooled you for working for exams, for being decent to others, for talking to the class swats, and the outcasts that they had created. They were usually covering up for lack of intelligence, trying to drag others to their level so when the results came in they could whine to their parents that others had also failed. They end up in pubs starting fights because subconsciously they realise that they have no future. They often fill vacancies for racists and misogynists.
Pogba was one such “leader”. You can see it in the documentary that he let be made to show us what a waste of space he is. His acolytes were there too, being influenced into being idiots, throwing away opportunities that the rest of us could only dream of, for the sake of a grin from the “big man”. He was the bad apple, the rotten egg, the one that damaged the whole.
As you grow up you look back at school and the teachers you remember are not the ones you took to the cleaners, they are the ones that got through to you, encouraged you to think, learn and enjoy education. Tag looks like one of those teachers, like Fergie, remembered for the hair dryer but more so with respect and affection for giving young men the direction that made them better players, in a better team, and better men too.
United may not win anything next season but they re already a better team.
A new challenge
Recently a pundit (I think it might have been Dean Saunders) was called disrespectful for saying Mane will be chilling for the next two years at Bayern.
I’m confused why it’s disrespectful to say that mane joining a team which has won the last 10 league titles in a row is disrespectful? If you play for Bayern you win the league. It’s more of a given now than Scotland (which at least has two teams competing).
If Mane really did leave for “a new challenge” and not because Bayern paid significantly more then why not go to Dortmund? Or Hertha Berlin? And help them win the league. Why not go to Helsingborgs and help them win the Champions League?
When Ronnie went back to United, sure he was getting paid a lot but trying to make United a good team is actually a challenge. It was unlikely Ronnie would be able to coast and watch the trophies roll in.
Ten Hag to United is a challenge. Klopp to Liverpool was a challenge. Baggio to any Italian club post 94 was a challenge. Mane to a club which almost automatically wins the league and cup is not a challenge.
Any player who claims to leave their current club for “a new challenge” then immediately transfers to a team which wins trophies regularly and pays high salaries is not leaving for a challenge unless it’s a challenge for their accountant.
Dean Saunders didn’t say anything disrespectful at all. It will be an easier ride in Germany with Bayern and Mane has earned his time taking it easy and earning a bigger salary, he was overused and underpaid at Liverpool. This time is earned. But let’s not call it a challenge.
In response to James NUFC’s mail, and others who dominate the comments section, let me try and expand on the positivity around Spurs with, hopefully, a bit of balance and less rose tinted glasses. (looking at you here Barry!)
Let’s start with the obvious, we qualified for Champions League and somehow have managed to hire one of the best managers in the game.
And it is because of the Conte affect that we are feeling this wave of optimism. Everything about this summer screams anti-ENIC:
*Investing their own money into the club.
*Buying players other than up and coming potential talent for future profit.
*Buying early and quickly without trying to haggle down to a packet of hula hoops or waiting on selling players.
Even the fact that we’re hiring a coach to specially work on set pieces, all of this feels like ENIC have realised that they cannot afford to piss Conte off and how lucky we are to have him.
The purchase of Richarlison in someway typifies Spurs approach this summer. Is he worth £60m? Absolutely not in my eyes and he is not going to be an auto starter ahead of Son, Kane and Kulusevski. But what he does add is depth and something different to our attacking options. Spurs would have baulked at paying such a sum for a player who is not a guaranteed starter in the past but they’ve gone and got him and practically at asking price when it was obvious Everton were, rightfully for them, playing hard ball.
Despite all of the above, it could so easily unravel. Conte is a ticking time bomb who could go off any moment and all this positivity would leave with him. Perisic, class as he is, might not adjust to the league as well as we hope. And we all know what happened last time Spurs went on a splurge of several players. History could still repeat itself.
Until the end of next season, we have no idea how well this window will be. But football is a fickle game. There is nothing wrong with cautious optimism, I don’t think Spurs will challenge for the title but no reason why we can’t finish 3rd and actually win a bloody cup. Conte managed to come into a mess of a club, get them playing good and entertaining football and finish the season strongly. Theoretically, he now has a stronger squad to work with and a full pre-season. That is exciting for us fans!
Bring on the new season.
Northern Spur (for those that didn’t know, charges dropped against Bissouma. Other guy being investigated has had bail extended)
The transfer window so far…
One or two thoughts on the transfer window so far for some of the teams towards the top of the prem
I feel Man City appear to be having the most successful window so far once they get Phillips confirmed, which speaking as a Liverpool fan is mildly depressing. It’s tough to see how Haaland won’t be relatively prolific with the number of chances that will be laid on a plate for him by the quality of delivery that’ll surround him. We should also see if Grealish is something approaching a £100m player with the likely departure of Sterling offering up greater game time potential (Pep generally gets his new players to sing a better tune in their second season).
I very much sympathise with Roger for his glass-half-empty view of what his beloved Spurs appear to have opened their door to. In my mind they have just bought a £60m selfish, stroppy virus .. the polar opposite in so many ways of what Son brings to the team. Quite why they thought that was a preferable option to someone like Raphinha is beyond me. Good business away from that though (I remember the days when I was praying for Liverpool to be in for Perisic … best days may be behind him but suspect he’ll do well).
It’s tough to be able to comment on Chelsea and Man U’s business so far as it’s all talk and no trousers. Both appear to be in desperate need of quality central defenders but Man U will suffer in that battle due to lack of CL and will have to pay extortionate wages to snaffle top talent. Both should be banging on Inter’s door for Skriniar who looks an ideal fit for the prem.
I am getting slight flashbacks to the transfer window when Moyes took over (leaving things too late, triggering some mad scramble to overpay for someone not ideal – quite why they didn’t have things lined to go as soon as the window opened is beyond me….. but I won’t be losing any sleep over it !).
Now that I am fairly certain Liverpool won’t be going in for him (a financial rather than a footballing decision) I am praying that Raphinha doesn’t go to another prem team (just need Deco and his Barca contacts to print some money off to help avoid that trauma).
For a number of years Arsenal have been crying out for steel in their central midfield to help protect a fragile defence. Partey appears to be their only real attempt to do that and I’ll continue to be slightly negative about their top 4 ambitions until they sort that area out. They did need a body up top to replace Auba/Laca and it is understandable in this case that they appear to be placing their faith in Jesus.
I like what Newcastle have done – impressive.
Pope is one of the best shot stoppers in the prem, but is not overly comfortable with the ball at his feet (like Cech in that regard) and Botman looks like good business. Just appears that they are adding good ingredients into a solid squad (unlike the questionable splodge on Wood we saw in Jan …. that smelled like Man City buying Bony … not going to be a long term relationship).
Will close with Liverpool. It really is tough to state with confidence whether it can be classed as a good window.
I always like to see us investing in young talent and having seen a little of Carvalho whilst at Fulham I am very pleased he has come into the fold.
I always sensed that Mane’s nose was being put slightly out of joint by the contract renewal focus being placed on Salah rather than himself and I can understand his desire to move – I wholeheartedly wish him well … he has been a phenomenal servant to the club across the years.
People’s opinions will differ on comparisons between the two but I sit in the camp that Mane was/is the slightly better footballer. Salah has the greater stats primarily because of the goal blinkers he gets when within 20 yards of an onion bag. I am glad we are not making the questionable decision to pay him the c£400k per week that he appears to be asking for (no-one at the club should be earning more than VVD – our most important player).
Was slightly disappointed Mbappe didn’t head to Madrid as I thought that may trigger PSG to throw around £50m our way for Salah (which I would have taken and immediately gone to kick the door down at Elland Road for Raphinha). So the contract wind-down commences ….. hmmm …..
The big unknown is Nunez – he certainly looks like he has the skill set / attributes but the open question to me is around attitude. What has been so amazing about Diaz’s integration into the club has been his work ethic from both an attacking and defensive perspective and doing so in a manner where he doesn’t roll around on the floor too much .. and with a smile ! I am praying that Nunez takes that as the blue-print of how he wants to play at Anfield and if he does the fans will love him for it. He appears to have ice in his veins and will score goals .. make it about the team and not the individual and he’ll excel.
The approach to the midfield does feel like a bit of a risk and placing a lot of pressure on Elliot / Jones to step up and perform (more confidence in the former than the latter). Not sure what that does to our negotiation positon with clubs in a years time when surely they’ll have to be in the market (would love to think we have the capability to snaffle Bellingham but we’ll see).
Have a good summer folks …. Just the 6 weeks to go !
Sparky LFC (currently kneeling in front of a shrine to Bobby Firmino, praying he will extend his contract … just love that man !)
Time for punditry regulation
After seeing Gabby Agbonlahor’s latest acid filled rant at Ben White, I’m sick to death of mid-level ex-footballers becoming pundits and criticising every up and coming footballer. The way Agbonlahor talks, you would imagine that he was a world class superstar who achieved everything there was to achieve. Alas, the truth is he was a competent forward with an adequate scoring record who would never have been bought by a top 6 side. As an Arsenal fan, I’m fed up of ex players like Agbonlahor and Jamie O’Hara belittling our players when the truth is they achieved very little themselves in their playing careers.
Football punditry needs to start being regulated to ensure only the top top players with significant achievements and who are looked up to by the wider footballing community are given the platform to share their views. Only those players have earned the right to criticise.
Mike Riley again…
At the risk of flogging a dead horse, the criticism of Mike Riley is not about Arsenal or Man Utd or Liverpool or Everton or whatever other teams he has mis-refereed. It’s about the integrity of the whole game in England. It’s about the difference between football being a sport and football being an entertainment package. It’s about whether you believe that if a player commits a professional foul after 5 seconds they should be sent off for the integrity of the sport or get a yellow for the protection of the spectacle.
One of the problems with football is that lots of people can’t seem to see past their own team. If aliens appeared at a Liverpool Man Utd match there’d be people arguing over whose side of the pitch they landed on. It constantly misses the bigger issues. Just pick whatever match Riley screwed your team over in and let’s have a discussion about officiating in the Premier League.
It’s all too easy for the PGMOL to keep quiet about their mistakes when they can just wait a couple of days and the narrative will turn into sets of fans arguing amongst themselves. Make mistakes, say there were no mistakes, blues fans argue with reds fans about the time it happened to them, repeat. Referees are humans and humans make mistakes, that’s fine. When the “I didn’t make a mistake” attitude is taken to an institutional level it becomes a serious problem, one that has led us to last season where officiating was utterly pathetic. Teams getting different punishments for virtually the same fouls on the same day. No free kick for literally pinning the goalkeeper’s arms. Yellow cards for repeated fouling after your first foul. Punching a player in the face and VAR deciding that it’s not even a foul. And all through this we’re told by the authorities that there’s nothing wrong.
If you can’t see that officiating is not serving the sport and you turn every objectively wrong decision into an us vs you argument then it will continue to get worse. Fans came together to say what we thought of the Super League and that died so quickly. Imagine how we could protect the sport if we were united (small u) around the abject refereeing that is quickly turning football into WWE.
Who is the greatest British centre-back of all time?
While we mourn the decline of the British defender, and have to watch Maguire stumble around the pitch (for United and – preposterously – England), I wanted to ask the mailbox (and comments section) who they think was the greatest British centre back they’ve seen.
For me, without a doubt, it’s Rio Ferdinand. The lad was silk, excellent on the ball, with pace to catch even the fastest of strikers when needed, but who could take the ball off an opponent without fuss.
That puts him ahead of Sol Campbell for me, for his superior ball carrying, but my god at his pomp Sol was a beast.
Ledley King was majestic too, shame he had such bad injuries.
Bobby Moore was legend, but I never saw him play so it’s hard to judge.
Terry was obviously very decent and better than the current set, but I found it hard to rate him at the time, and no better now. All big challenges (because he was out of position), a dash of racism and abuse of position, missed penalties (because he wanted the glory of the winning pen) not to mention full kit wanker. Each of the above were excellent, while he was only excellent when he had an excellent partner to cover him. Still, he did put his body on the line and you have to respect that.
Sad thing is that Maguire seems to fancy himself a Terry, but without any of his actual abilities!
Stones has looked very decent at times, but never really sustained the levels hoped.
Anyway, over to you to tell me how I’m wrong.
Badwolf (and no, Southgate was not on the list)
Newcastle more improved than you think
Thanks for covering Newcastle a bit more so far this year – a pleasant side effect of new notoriety and our absolutely dodgy money. I’m afraid I have to critique the article today though….
Ian says “Newcastle finished 22 points behind Spurs…. The idea that Newcastle have improved that much more than the teams who occupied the top 6 positions last season is fanciful”.
The truth is Newcastle already absolutely did improve all that much – in January. That deficit to Spurs had literally all happened by New Year – Spurs were 22 points ahead of Newcastle on New Year’s Day. Checking the transfermarket form table for the second half of the season, Newcastle got 38 points in 19 games. Spurs got 36 (Arsenal 34, Chelsea 33 and United 24), Only Pool and City did better and they’re absolute machines. We were only 9 points behind United by the end, after being more than 20 behind at New Year.
Yes, Newcastle spent money in January, of course, but that’s my point – once the team had Howe established, and added Bruno and Big Dan Burn, they were already on champions league form – 2 points per game, third in the table in the calendar year, and outperforming Spurs with Conte, Kane, Son, Kulu etc, as well as Chelsea United and Arsenal.
I’d be pleasantly surprised if Newcastle kept that up a whole season, but adding Botman could transform a real weakness area (Ciaran Clark played 11 times in the first 19 games and he should never have been a PL CB). Any good new forward alongside a fit Wilson and ASM should make the front 3 fairly threatening as well.
The striking thing is how much Newcastle had already been improved last season solely from ending the worst underinvestment and rank decision making of the Ashley era. Any decent mid table owner could have improved the club by hiring the unemployed Howe to replace the sadly woeful Steve Bruce. Any decent mid table owner could have bought Burn or Targett, neither certain starters at their old clubs, and maybe even Bruno – Newcastle have still spent less in the last five years than Villa or Everton, and Bruno isn’t of a higher profile than say Coutinho. And yes all of that does make me rather wish we’d got a regular prem owner rather than a petrostate.
In sum – Newcastle were on Champions league form for the whole second half of last season, part Howe and part money, and the money being spent this summer will improve things again. United or Spurs might be better too, but they’ve both squandered money and very high-reputation managers before. I don’t want to unfairly put pressure on Howe, and any further move up the table would be good to see, but if things go well we can absolutely finish above some of the big 6 this year. HTL.
Roger, Newcastle in London
How do you cope?
Roger THFC asks “How do you cope when a player you despise for their ‘sh*thousery’ and general cheating, suddenly joins your beloved football club?”
The answer is quite simple. You embrace him and cheer him like you do with Harry Kane.
On his mailbox titled “Switching sides”…
Step 1: Go to any large Liverpool fan forum
Step 2: Search for “Luis Suarez World Cup Handball”
Step 3: Read the vitriol and condemnation
Step 4: Search for any combination of “Luis Suarez” “T-Shirt” “Biting” “Evra” and “Dalglish”
Step 5: Read the full-throated, at times poetic, and somewhat defences put forth by posters simply on the basis that he’s their idol, the bite didn’t really happen, T-shirts are good PR, etc
That is, with respect, the playbook on how to cope with such players joining your beloved club.
Jon, Swansea City AFC
Bringing out the best in the Mailbox…
The lull in football always brings the best out in the mailbox. Aside from transfer activity there is little to bring out and so the batshit crazies appear.
Everything from subtle digs at other clubs to wild speculation on next season (Man U second? Really?) is always entertaining.
So well done one and all for giving me somewhere to go between meetings and having some amusement.
If you write in you should get a medal if you make it batshit crazy you should get….. well…. Two medal.