The Solskjaer effect
The MailOnline bring us a deep dive into how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has transformed Manchester United. The campaign for him to be given the full-time job continues apace.
Jack Gaughan quite rightly writes that there has a ‘subtle tweak to United’s midfield’. Well done, Ole. This image demonstrates that subtle tweak…
…using a Jose Mourinho line-up that he literally never picked. Truly excellent work.
Go here to read about Paul Ince being utterly, utterly nonsensical.
Big Opinion of the day
Jim White on talkSPORT, noticing that Tottenham are just four points behind Liverpool: “They are serious title contenders. If Spurs were to do it, it would go down as a bigger achievement than Leicester. I think the competition is much more fierce than it was for Leicester.”
Football is a game of opinions. And some of them are absolutely batshit mental.
Mediawatch imagines that Jamie Vardy says the words “f***ing kn*bhead” roughly 17 times every day. But on Sunday he was caught on camera saying those very words. It is not remotely obvious to whom or what he was saying those words – it could be a passing ladybird, a man in the crowd or his own shoes – but that does not stop The Sun Online simply guessing. Why not? People are guessing on Twitter and there’s no reason why news websites should do anything else, is there?
‘Furious Vardy appears to call Puel a ‘f****** k**bhead behind his back.’
‘Fans convinced Jamie Vardy called Claude Puel a ‘f****** k**bhead’ behind his back during chat with Man Utd ace Paul Pogba.’
Excellent. After all, the one thing missing from traditional media for all these years was credence being given to the paranoid conspiracy theories of fans. Thank the lord that in the digital age, this can now be sold as ‘news’. True progress.
Somebody give Garth Crooks a proper column. The problem with Crooks only having his BBC Team of the Week to air his views is that he saves up all his Big Opinions.
Hence, we are treated to this nugget in his ‘The Crooks of the matter’ section:
‘Winning trophies in football has never been easy. Ask those professionals who have gone an entire career having never won any. So you can imagine my dismay when Mauricio Pochettino suggested that winning cups, as opposed to league titles, is good merely for polishing one’s ego.
‘A little rich, especially from someone who has never won one, don’t you think? It’s rather like offering your friend one of your favourite sweets only to be told he doesn’t like them but has never tried one.’
A week ago. A whole bloody week ago. That’s when Mauricio Pochettino made those comments about trophies and the ego. Since then he has spoken to the media four sodding times, and on the first occasion he entirely explained his comments:
“I know now that talk about ego is a negative expression in England, maybe in other countries we talk about it being more superficial.
“It’s because in the past I’ve been asked if winning a domestic cup will help the club to the next level. To win a Carabao Cup or FA Cup reach the next level, I cannot agree.
“I want to win cups. I’m not naive. It’s tough for me because after three or four seasons we’re always talking about the cups. I want to build my CV winning titles of course. I’m the first who wants to win.”
But of course Crooks has not seen or heard those quotes and made no effort whatsoever to find them. Why would you do that when you can take it as some kind of personal attack?
‘What Spurs boss Pochettino fails to understand is that winning trophies is not just about players or managers but the club and, most important of all, the fans. Of course he hasn’t won one so he wouldn’t know any of this but I have – and did so with the fans who now chant his name every week. And its magical.’
Pesky fact: Pochettino has actually won the Argentine title and two Copas del Rey as a player.
It takes quite some skill to be both a week late and very, very wrong.
From The Sun‘s player ratings after Chelsea’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield:
‘Jorginho: Still feels as though Kante – despite his assist – should be the man sitting in front and scurrying after the ball rather than Jorginho. The Italian was largely ineffective for periods, especially with the defensive side of things. Dragged off midway through the second half.’
Dragged off? Injured? What’s the difference really?
And here we are on Monday with The Sun now talking about Chelsea’s options after said injury. For it was an injury…
‘But in the 5-0 thrashing of Huddersfield, the 27-year-old had arguably his best game in a Chelsea shirt.’
‘Largely ineffective’ while having ‘his best game’? It can only be The Sun.
Oh and Maurizio Sarri did not ‘incredibly blame other Blues’ players for Jorginho’s struggles this season’. What he did that say is that “Jorginho needs movement without the ball from the other players because he is used to play one touch and it’s very difficult to play one touch without the movement of the other players”. Which seems pretty reasonable.
Unless you have decided that Sarri is some kind of evil intellectual that must be stopped, of course.
From the Daily Mirror: ‘N’GOLO KANTE revealed Maurizio Sarri has told his Chelsea players to stop being “big-time Charlies” against the small fry before a month of huge fixtures against the top teams.’
No he didn’t.
Shall we save the quote marks for, you know, actual quotes?
Shoulda, woulda, coulda
The Sun Online headline: ‘Solskjaer having massive say in Man Utd’s £200m transfer plans even though he could be replaced by Pochettino.’
The Sun Online opening paragraph: ‘OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER will have a big say in Manchester United’s future plans – even if he is not part of them.’
Oooh, a change of tense. Let’s see what Solskjaer himself has to say…
“The club will always get my advice if they ask me.”
Oh. Make that ‘Solskjaer could have massive say in Man Utd’s £200m transfer plans – if they ask him – even though he could be replaced by Pochettino’.
Three missing words
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) February 4, 2019
‘By Garth Crooks’.
Recommended reading of the day
Rory Smith on Manchester City
Matt Law on Chelsea’s changes
Richard Jolly on Stephan Lichtsteiner