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Christian is risen…
Just seen the news that Chelsea are signing Christian Pulisic. Two things spring to mind … Hazard is a goner. Secondly, surely now young Chelsea players have got to start having 2nd thoughts about their futures? Chelsea appear to have an abundance of players that can play in similar positions, players who already look more adept to the EPL (pace and strength), equalities Pulisic may or may not possess. (Certainly pace isn’t his key attribute). The likes of RLC and Hudson-Odei are the obvious two that spring to mind – both have relative pace, strength and good technique, and have EPL experience. This isn’t a ‘poor-little-Englanders’ email, I’m sure there are several more players, both English and foreign (I don’t care enough about Chelsea to know their youth, reserve squads) … it just seems like an odd purchase to me. Not just because it seems an expensive risk, but it surely undermines their buy-to-loan-any-youngster-that-shows-talent policy.
He might be the new Hazard, but I rather think this might end up more like the Torres deal.
David Moore (Happy New Year peeps!)
Mourinho wouldn’t have done it in style
To Dino, the reason why Mourinho wouldn’t have gotten praise for the hypothetical wins against the last three teams like Ole did is because he likely wouldn’t have done it in the same way with anywhere close to the same score line or style. Fans would usually take points over style but they wouldn’t take style without points and this season Mourinho basically has achieved the latter.
In fact, one of the reasons why Ole is getting so much praise is because he has gotten United to play at a more eye pleasing style while also gaining victories, albeit against teams United are expected to beat for the moment. If he was getting scrappy 1-0 wins out of three matches, you can be sure the any praise will be very light. It’s not just the score line either but the way the players are moving forward and working together that is different and more pleasing than before.
It should also be noted that the previous three managers have also played with less than ideal style so of course, when someone makes it work even if it’s only three easy games, fans get excited.
This is not to say that Ole is ultimately a better manager than Mourinho, only time will tell with that one as managing is more than just asking your players to attack or keeping them happy. Just that for the moment he is bringing in what the fans want and successful doing it, where Mourinho didn’t for this season. It is too early to seriously judge Ole with only a sample size of three games of course but he will be given that chance (playing against the rest of the league in the second half of the season) and the challenges that come with it.
A look around Europe
Happy New year’s thought i’d look at some of the other major leagues and see if there are any close races or big surprises
Spain -This year there’s a proper race with Barca marginally in front of Atletico Sevilla and Slow starters Real
Spare a thought for basque only Bilbao who are struggling and in real danger of finally being relegated.
Germany – That’s weird Bayern aren’t 427 points ahead of 2nd place,Wait a minute there’s something wrong with my glasses they aren’t even 1st.
Lucien Favre, has just as he did at Nice led an unfancied team to the submit here’s hoping he manages to take this lot all the way.
Bayen have by the way crept up to 2nd, after some friction between ex player Novak and some of Bayerns long serving players (who are on their way out) hopefully everything is resolved and they won’t have to break the glass on the Heyneckes alarm .
Italy- At this rate Juve will wrap the title up by early March they are still undefeated and have dropped 2 points all season.
The real drama is the battle for 4th which Lazio have a slender lead over Milan who are having a bit of a wobble but both can’t get too comfortable the gap to the team in 12th from Lazio is just 7 points.
France – PSG are so far ahead they might as well have their own league (they could probably afford to pay for it). Behind them, are a whole bunch of teams who beat each other ever other week ,further helping PSG ,currently lead by beating each other.
Lille and Lyon currently occupy the remaining champions league spots although everything is slightly complicated by the games that will need to be rearranged due to the yellow vest crisis.
Holland – A straight up fight battle between PSV and Ajax who are separated by 2 points and have collectively dropped points in 3 games and one of them was a game between both of them and another featured Feyenoord
Belgium – Genk are leading the normal season with sizeable cushion with 7 points , Which if it continues like this will probably give them an advantage when those absolutely ridiculous end of year playoffs start
Portugal -Dominance of this league shifts regularly between Benfica and Porto right now it looks like it’s advantage Porto who are 4 points ahead before the Christmas break,A further point Benfica are their local rivals Sporting who looked like being main challengers until a surprise loss there could still be a few twists
Russia Zenith have a slight lead over recent Europa Regulars Krasnodar who have only existed since 2008.Not too far behind however are the 3 traditional powerhouses from the capital.
Ukraine – It’s looks like it will be Shaktar again for the 3rd straight year they really are gradually eclipsing Dynamo
Greece -After all that Olympiakos dominance it looks like the Greek title is going to continue it’s national tour with PAOK this time enjoying an 8 point lead.
Turkey Basaksehir once again seem to be leading the charge to upset the established and this year .
Even if they don’t succeed ,it seems unlikely that their neighbours the traditional Big three will be on hand to take advantage,Financial troubles are gradually catching up with them the likes of Pepe had his contract ended early and not one of them is currently in the top 4.
Gala are the closest on in 5th on Goal difference and Fenerbache in real danger of being the 1st of the three to ever be relegated.
Scotland – This has been an interesting season it’s not been all Celtic,Hearts started like a house on fire ,however with hindsight they look like the pacemakers in a marathon.
Right now, Kilmarnock (so that’s where Steve Clarke went) and Rangers ( Now there ‘s a throwback) are challenging Celtic (only top on goal difference and a game in hand), keep your eye on this one especially as Rangers just won Celtic for the first time since Hannibal appeared on that famous episode of pimp my Elephant.
Ups and downs of football
Back in the beginning of December pundits, fans & neutrals had put the task on our football club to run city down to the wire in the title race. January 2019 and the tide has truly turned. Some Insufferable (sorry) fellow fans who make me think that we’ve been winning titles since years and I was in an alternate reality. Well I know all fan bases have such a lot. The surprise comes in the disrespect shown to Pep & city from pundits and ex-players who know more than the lot of us about the trials of the game (Football equivalent of gold diggers?).And the gradual hate from the city fans has exploded into view.
Success comes with trophies they say and I agree. But there’s something more that I’m witnessing this season. I have had atleast one Arsenal, Chelsea & United fan in my circle who’s texted me asking when do Liverpool play City again. Now obviously they may be not wishing my club well in their prayers but this is where the bosses, manager and players have brought us. We may have been just entertainers in the past season but slowly we’re hoping to get there, where from time to time the footballing world looks at the calendar when Liverpool play next, who Liverpool play next…
Hopefully going back to the era where playing Liverpool means a chance for glory for the opposition.
Did I mention that success means trophies in football?
MIHIR NAIR. LFC. MUMBAI. (I think Puyol likes how we play)
Why Solskjaer is a “better” manager than Poch
Apologies for the length,but this one takes a bit of explaining as you can imagine.
Amongst all of the praise Solskjaer is receiving for the turnaround he has effected at United, there is one big “but” always hovering over it – the idea that he isn’t a necessarily a good manager. Certainly, it’s taken as a given that he’s not on the level of Poch, or Jose for that matter, and this is something I want to take issue with, as it is reflective of a fallacy that corrupts the whole of football – the media, and clubs alike.
The fallacy runs something like this:
Broadly speaking footballers are organised throughout the game into a hierarchy of ability. It is objectively true, more or less, to say that the average player at Real Madrid is a “better footballer” than one at Yeovil. Eden Hazard is “better” than, say, Freddy Sears. And, by virtue of this fact, it’s reasonable to say that a player who fails to cut it at a lesser club will almost certainly fail at a greater one.
This is all true, and widely accepted.
The problem comes when we automatically apply this same judgement system to managers. We assume that managers, like players, are organised roughly in order of “ability” throughout the game, with the “best” managers at the top clubs, and so on down the leagues. Just like players, if managers prove themselves to be “good” they can get promoted up the divisons, until they reach their supposed limit of “skill”. It is this belief that assumes Solskjaer shouldn’t (on paper) be a serious candidate for the United job – he wasn’t good enough for Cardiff, so it’s ludicrous to assume he’d be good enough for them. Clearly Norweigan football – which we equate with perhaps League 1 – is his “level”.
This way of thinking – though completely understandable – doesn’t make sense, and yet it’s accepted as gospel.
I have no experience in football, but I do in businesses, and doubtless the same rules apply. Managers – just like CEOs, for instance – don’t succeed because of some raw objective “ability” (although certainly one can be a “bad” manager who won’t succeed anywhere). Instead they succeed through a combination of basic competence and, moreover, an innate *fit* with the organisation they control:
– Does their style match with the resources and needs of the organisation at that moment?
– Do they understand how that particular type of organisation works?
– Do they understand the context (market / league) the organisation operates in?
– Do they have a personality that gels with the organisational culture?
It’s not a binary, measurable skill metric, like we find with players. It’s almost completely context dependent.
This is why it can be so hard to define who is a “good” manager or not. For instance, are Claudio Ranieri and George Burley “good” managers? On the one hand they have achieved probably the greatest feats in Premier League history (Leicester title, Ipswich fifth). But then they’ve also been abject failures in other contexts. So are they good or aren’t they? Clearly the answer is that they are good – *in certain contexts*. And, crucially, not necessarily the “easier” contexts lower down the table.
We all act like it’s “harder” to manage clubs at the top of the game, therefore requiring better managers. But it’s not harder, it’s just different – requiring different knowledge and different style. I highly doubt that *any* of the managers near the top of the league would be as good at Championship level as Neil Warnock, even though they are all supposedly “better” than him. The fact is that he knows exactly how to manage that type of club in that precise context, and they don’t. However by the same token he’s not well suited to managing a mid-table Premier League club. Doesn’t mean he’s bad. It’s just a different job.
Looping back to Solskjaer then, let’s look at his background. He spent most of his career learning what it takes to make a club like Manchester United win. A club who must play on the front foot, will have better players than most of their opponents, and who have a high level of media scrutiny and expectation. Taking this knowledge to Molde – another dominant team – he proved his general competence with his success there. However, on moving to Cardiff, he was suddenly thrust into a scenario he was ill suited to. It was like taking the CEO of a flying startup, who you assume must be a “good CEO”, and putting them in charge of a business going into administration. His prior success became irrelevant – he didn’t have the first idea how to help a team like Cardiff battle relegation, and it showed.
Because of this, we shouldn’t assume that his Cardiff failure to be in any way predictive of his United performance – back in his “comfort zone”. The question should never be “is x a good manager”? The question should always be “is x a good manager for y team”? Is Solskjaer a better manager than Jose? Stupid question. Is he better for Man United? By the looks of things, yeah, probably.
Annoyingly if he goes on to be a success at United, and gets the job permanently, everyone will view it as an anomaly, or they’ll say he “learned” from his experience at Cardiff and it made him a better manager. I would suggest instead that we should *expect* him to succeed at United – because he knows, better than anyone, what works at that club, and has proved himself to be a competent manager elsewhere. Competence + fit = success.
Ironically on that basis it is Pochettino who would be the real risk. Has he proved competence? Certainly. But fit? Well, he’s never been inside a club of United’s stature. He’s never managed players of that level, of that ego. He’s never faced such pressure. He’s never had to delegate so much. Not to say he wouldn’t make it work, but other competent managers (LVG, Jose) have failed to find fit at that club.
Bottom line, Solskjaer may or may not succeed, but he if he does it should not be a surprise. Far from being radical, he looks like the safe choice.
Sat in the front row of the Clock End yesterday my attention was drawn to paint peeling off the hand rail in front of my seat. It seems an apt metaphor for the current state of the club.
The Anfield massacre came at the perfect time for Arsenal in that it exposed the piss poor options Emery has to work with. It also shook confidence in the manager, which manifested itself in a good old fashioned booing for having the temerity to sub Lacazette for Ramsey yesterday. Emery’s tactic worked but there is definitely a sense of maybe Gazidis done screwed up with the appointment of Emery.
There are already two camps of fans – most, who wish to give the manager time, and a very small minority who fear we’ll have more drubbings like we received at Anfield.
I’m in the camp that thinks the manager should be given time but his complaints about a lack of creative options in the aftermath of the Brighton draw really got on my nerves.
Football at its root is a very simple game. You get the ball to a creative player, who feeds your attackers. Ozil’s absence is costing us big time. He is perhaps the greatest creator of goals in the league and we have two of the best strikers of any club. But not having Ozil to call upon is seeing the likes of Torriera neglect his primary purpose in protecting the defence in order to help out in attack, leaving an already piss poor defence exposed.
Koscielny no longer has the pace to get himself out of trouble when his terrible positioning sees him caught out, Mustafi never had it to begin with, which leaves Sokratis on his own.
A winger and a centre back are high on Arsenal’s wishlist – how ironic that we should have two such players out on loan at other clubs.
I don’t think we’ll make top four but we may have enough in the tank to fluke a Europa league victory if we can add reinforcements. For me, that means recalling Chambers and Reiss Nelson and adding a pacy two footed full back.
We’ll still be making do but we’ll hopefully have enough to get us over the line.
Happy New Year all.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Reading football365 predictions, it was mindnumblingy predictable that the website would concentrate on the same narrative to my beloved Spurs that most of the media seems to be.
Albeit it’s a tad disappointing given F365 in general tend to be regarded as a cut above the generic red tops.
Why exactly are Spurs a house of cards? Aren’t we a football club trying to grow organically using our own resources.
Why suddenly should this all be some precarious juggling trick, destined to fall down the minute Harry leaves for Real or Poch bizarrely decides Manchester is a better city to live in than london.
I guess ultimately how Tottenham end up being regarded is not down to me, or the media view but ultimately down to ENIC.
What do they want Tottenham Hotspur to be?
If you are happy to charge a loyal fan base the most expensive tickets in the land but then portray yourself as a little club punching above it’s weight to the rest of the world then that’s the perception everyone has.
Until then maybe things won’t change and f365 and the rest of the world are simply waiting for this house of cards to collapse.
Raj THFC North london