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And that’s why Emery is not fit to be Arsenal manager.
Arsene was way past his sell by date in the end and the club were right to can him but if he was in charge last night, we would have got the result.
And the reason is that Arsene would have sent him team on the attack in search of an equaliser rather than trying to defend a narrow defeat with that defence. Monreal is fine as cover but is no first teamer any more – the same could be said for Koscielny, and Mustafi should be nowhere near a Championship team never mind a team playing in Europe.
Attack was the best form of defence but what did Emery do? Take Aubameyang off and try and see out the game with no attacking outlet.
Arsenal need to sh*t or get off the pan. Either fire this charlatan now or wait another season so we don’t have to.
How you gonna blame this on Wenger, Stewie?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
…We used to laugh ironically that a Wenger team could snatch defeat from the Jaws of victory. It appears it wasn’t just Wenger but it’s an entire club mentality.
This is what happens when you have an owner disinterested in winning, a CEO (former) disinterested in winning, a manager (former) disinterested in winning. It inculcates down to the players and all this losing games against all the odds bollocks becomes the norm.
Emery has done a decent job but the board bent him over at Christmas sans lube. If this happens again In the summer we will be back in the market for a manager again for 2020/21
Farcical stuff from a club that has forgotten what sport means
How Ole’s done it
VAR! What is it good for?… Well, I think we know now.
In the afterglow of the hysteria in Paris, while United fans party like it’s 1999, I thought I’d try and present a rational analysis of some of the things Solskjaer has done. Because I will throw something at the TV if I hear one more pundit saying it’s all down to being ‘not Mourinho’ and making the players happy. No, anybody else could NOT have done this. (Looking at you Paul Ince!). I’ll just make 3 key points though there are plenty more.
Simplification is a rare skill that comes naturally to the competent. Read Sir Alex’s first autobiography and you’ll be hard pressed to find any earth-shattering insight. But simplicity it turns out is a very difficult state to reach. Jose had complicated things way beyond unravelling with his choice of players, positions and tactics. One of the first things Solskjaer has done is to simplify the approach. Putting Herera and Matic as the 2 central midfielders with their strong tackling and use of the ball, pushing Pogba up into an attacking role, settling the back 4 (and especially identifying Lindelof quickly as a cultured European centre half), deciding on his first team on merit and form – all of this made the basics of United’s game very straightforward and gave every player clarity about their roles. From there on the tactical tweaks in each game become much easier to follow and execute. For example, it allowed the tactical deployment of Dalot on the right wing quite easy.
Shifting the centre of gravity of the game: If the ball spends much more time in and around the opposition penalty box, the likelihood of a stray ball or a mis-pass resulting in a goal or a scoring chance is obviously much higher. If the game is largely being played outside your own penalty box, then you still have 60 yards to goal after you’ve won the ball back. Conversely, if you spend much of the game defending at the edge of your penalty box, you’re asking a lot more of your defence – one lapse in concentration could be costly. By ensuring that the game gets played much further up the pitch, Solskjaer has naturally improved both our XG for and against, which is showing in our actual goals scored and conceded. Mourinho’s United would quickly retreat to the edge of the box whenever the lost the ball, allowing the opposition to saunter up the pitch till the last third.
Improving attacking players: I used to watch highlights on the telly of teams up and down the country scoring goals in all divisions and wonder why we found it so hard to score goals! Obviously, this is a particular area of expertise for Ole and it’s well documented how he’s worked with Rashford or how Pogba’s new role has unleashed the real Pogba. But I want to talk about Lukaku. He is often mistaken for a big target man because of his size, but this is not his playing style at all. Yet this is what he was being asked to do under Mourinho – being a lone front man and having long balls played up to him. I think he bulked up in summer just to adapt to this role and lost some speed, and this made him a liability under Solskjaer. But rather than jettison him, Solskjaer has given him time to get back into shape, played him on the wings (to great effect v Arsenal, for example) and restored his confidence. He’s turned him into a 2-footed striker and restored his effectiveness when the ball is played to his feet or just in front. And now United can play a fluid, interchangeable front 3 with players who can all create and score.
Of course, there’s much more. Not the least of which is his brilliant PR and how he’s made the Man United brand and tradition into the 12th man. Beat PSG at home and made history? Sure, that’s what Man United does. Play with 10 first team members injured? No problem, we’re Man United. What other reason is there for us to even be in the tie with 5 minutes to go, with a midfield of Fred, McTominay and Pereira!
Who knows what happens in future – he might get the job and it may all blow up. But the past 3 months have been magical, and now, we’ll always have Paris!
Ved (looking forward to seeing Jose at Qatar FC), Sen
More than a sub
I have bitten my tongue for so long now I think I have done irreparable damage, and Tim’s email today almost made me slice it in two.
Ole started 135 matches in the Premier League for Manchester United from the 96 to 03 seasons, and had a total of 200 appearances (I have left out the remainder of his career as the start of the 03/04 season brought the serious knee injury that plagued him til his retirement) . That means that his time at the club was not “mainly as a sub”. What you are imagining is a person who became known for being a sub, what the rest of us know is that he is famous for being one of the most prolific goal scorers after coming on as a sub. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes came on as subs more times than Ole did in the league.
Ole is a United hero for a reason, and it is not for mainly being a sub.
David (and he had to compete for starts with Cole, Yorke, Sheringham, Van Nistelrooy and Cantona!!), Dublin
Four Manchester derbies in April
Respect to Utd for beating PSG. Didnt expect it. Vicarious justice done. Man City surely are a shoe in too. Anyone else hoping for Man Utd vs Man City in champions league quarters?
Who to support as a neutral?
The Silvas and De Bruyne are the best Mancunian midfield ever. That is clear. But Man Utd have all the history. They also win the battle of the fans too. Pep vs Solksjaer is fairly even in terms of relative premiership achievement. Both teams have similar good and bad luck. It’s so finely balanced. Bring it on please. You know we all want it.
Would love to see who truly has bragging rights in Manchester (it’s currently not clear).
David (a neutral only in this matter)
Oh Micky, you’re so fine
The difference for Ole at Cardiff and Ole at United.
The difference between Ole and Moyes, Van Gaal or Mourinho.
The one that help the great one, Sir Alex, in his final year.
It could have made a lot of difference, if Moyes had keep Mike Phelan. He was advised by Sir Alex to do just that, but his ego is bigger.
Crack on, Ed
Saying Man Utd’s current form is based on luck is like saying Zidane was lucky to win three Champions League titles on the bounce. Solskjaer inherited a poor team (in terms of results rather than personnel) and made them perform. Zidane’s brilliance was the other way around – he made a diminishing squad keep performing against expectations – and the success of that is now painfully clear in retrospect and the spectacular loss of form at Real is not simply because Ronaldo isn’t there. The worry is that Solskjaer’s success will also only be appreciated in retrospect if they don’t give him the job. Get on with it. Zidane is a better fit for Chelsea anyway.
Tim SCFC (Mourinho is polishing his knuckle dusters for Ramos as we speak).
…To all the people wondering why Ewar Woowar hasn’t announced to the world that he’s giving Solskjaer the job yet, remember the one thing even Ed’s haters must acknowledge he’s very, very good at: negotiating contracts. If he tells the world Ole has the job before anything is signed, what do you think Ole’s agent is going to say? Perhaps something like “Just give me Avram’s bank account details, I’ll help meself. Can’t back out now mate, they’ll burn the stadium down”
Has Ole earned it?
A question for the mailbox.
Where are the people who wanted Gigsy to work his way through the lower leagues and ‘lesser’ clubs for several years? Why has the same standard never been applied to Ole? Ole had a failed stint at cardiff and coached Molde in a league not known for its competitiveness (or anything else). Hardly a a case for such a high profile job as the man utd manager. I understand being quiet about it now with the run of success hes had but could Giggs not do a similar job given the resources. Gerrard and Lampard have done alright. Why not Lampard for Chelsea next season?
Ole’s report card
Ole (like Southgate) has made the common sense decisions which seem easy but not seen enough. Here is a view on his progress till date (basis a small sample size)
1. Hiring Mike Phelan and a coaching team that understands the club.
2. Bringing positivity to the club (Not throwing players under the bus, handling media well – it must be boring/embarrassing to be asked about your future when you dont have control over it every single time.)
3. Seems to understand his players strengths and weaknesses. Inferred from ability to form combinations in attack, midfields
4. Meritocracy and squad usage/management has been good till date. Has trusted players and instilled belief. Has brought creative solutions to the injury crisis (Dalot on the wing)
5. Style of play – Attacking football. Has been pragmatic when needed.
6. Respect/Fan engagement/Like-ability/Team work – Natural fit with his personality.
7. Played well against top 6 and tactically recovered against PSG in the second leg.
1. Got outwitted twice tactically. Once by Tuchel at home (PSG Loss) and by Pochettino (I know United won). Small sample size but haven’t yet seen the ability to recover within a game based on a tactical substitution. Will be clearer in the next two games in champions league and remaining games.
Yet to assess:
1. Ability to spot talent that the club should buy – Transfers is a big question mark
2. Ability to improve individual players – Has not been in the job long enough to see this
3. Trophy cabinet at a top 5 league (We won’t be able to assess at this stage regardless of time) – Expect the same press to give him a hard time
4. Push players out that are not a fit and hire better players despite believing your current squad.
5. Dealing with disillusioned squad members when they have not played or are not playing for a long time.
6. Dealing with a string of losses (Two or three losses lead to the media hounding)
Great appointment so far. For a coach to come into a temporary role and to do 7 things very well (on top of all the relentless winning) is exceptional.
Should he get the job – What’s the hurry? We have time and he wont be leaving for another club. Might as well decide in the summer.
Sudarsan Ravi (Has to be one of the best starts by a temp manager at a big club)
So I was scrolling through YouTube as usual when my feed suggested a video by Jesse Lingard’s official YouTube channel.
It basically showcased his reactions towards the first and third goals (second goal and PSG’s were conveniently missing). You’ll have to see it for yourself to see how hysterical he was. Before the game during the lineup you can see him say things go each individual as the camera passes through them.
His reaction both prior to Rashford taking the penalty, saying that he loves him no matter what happens and the manic he went through after Rashford scored.
And this video touched me. Here was a player who was injured in the previous leg, having to sit out a match he would have played, celebrating like a madman for the goals and the pure joy. Logically we understand all this and we see players and teams celebrate all the time but modern technology allows us to also have this type of access. This wasn’t Jesse Lingard, Random Rich Footballer (TM), but Jesse Lingard, guy who loves football as well as his teammates and celebrates like a madmen when his teams scores.
It is not unusual for some of the current players to be criticized for their social media use by older ones, especially when they are not doing well. And yes sometimes you will get things like Neymar’s idiotic post insulting the refs as well as the negativity of football fans on social media. But social media also gives us access to things like Lingard’s reactions here, one he was injured and the unconstraint joy he has of his team winning a tie he was involved easier but couldn’t fight on anymore. It just makes them more human and relatable and if nothing else I’m grateful for that.
I love this game
Martin (It’s got to be Ole) Levi, Ramat Gan – god, these Ramos vs. Neymar debates are tedious. Can’t we all just agree that they’re both up there with the most bellendrous players in history, with unbelievable diving/cheating/red card records that will stand for a long time before anyone comes close to equalling them?
I personally think that we’re lucky to be alive in an era when we can witness both of them lose in a hilarious fashion in the same week as eachother. Anyone who can’t just enjoy that, and instead spends their time debating which is funnier, isn’t a true football fan.
Steve (I mean Ramos has done it more consistently over his career, but Neymar dragged his entire team to make clowns of themselves in a World Cup semi final), Nottingham
VAR and offside
As a Utd fan, I watched the game the other night and found myself confused because as it was explained it was perhaps a penalty but I know I would have been furious had it gone against us.
Anyway, reading mails on why VAR will never succeed etc brings back memories of DRS being introduced into cricket. Systems like this take time to implement and time to get right. The problem with VAR as I currently see it is more to do with how it is being used rather than it being used full stop.
Go back to the reasons the introduction of VAR has been pushed for years. Goals like Frank Lampard or Pedro Mendes clearly over the line on the TV pictures not given. Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland. Violent conduct missed by the referee etc. These are all very good reasons to introduce technology.
What it doesn’t need to be doing is reviewing every play as it currently does and whispering in the ear of the referee. Instead, a simple challenge system as used in Ice Hockey, Cricket and Tennis would allow a coach or on-field captain to use his one challenge. If you are adamant that you should have had a penalty you can call for VAR.
Over the course of the PSG tie I’m fairly sure Utd would have asked for VAR when Kimpembe hauled down Rashford in the first leg and should have been sent off. It may well have meant it never got to 0-2. Similarly, in the dying minutes last night Utd may have felt it was worth a punt on VAR to have a look at the handball. However, if they’d wasted their challenge earlier then they’d have to accept potential injustice.
Technology is here to get rid of the clear errors that sporting officials, referees and umpires make.
The offside rule should be re-written to say ‘if any part of your body is onside then you are onside’. This is how it works in Ice Hockey. Currently, we have this stupid rule that means an attacker is often leaning offside just because he is moving that way as opposed to a defender leaning the opposite way. Let’s have more goals.
If a handball prevents a shot on target in the box then it should be a penalty otherwise it should be an indirect free kick.
Handball should be awarded if there was an advantage gained with a caveat being time to react. I don’t think we can referee intent and it doesn’t really feel right that a goal could be prevented by accidental handball. This could be boiled down to two questions for a referee. Did the defending team gain an advantage? Was there time to react?
Sentimentometer Pt II
So I am sure you all had it marked down in your calendars, ringed, starred, maybe even in another colour. The Sentimentometer is back for another monthly update, and what a month it’s been. Let’s get to the rankings:-
1) Ole Gunnar Solskaer take a bow son. 2nd month at number 1. Some solid wins on the board making 4th look in the bag, hunting down Tottenham and just when you thought he couldn’t get any better he goes and wins in Paris. Hand him the pen, turn to the signature page, point at the dotted line Mr Edwards, you’ve found him. On a side note the photo of Eric, OGS and Sir Alex must have had the United fans weeping with days of glories past and possible glory to come. Remember you’ve only made it through to the quarter finals…..
2) Pep Guardiola – moves up a place from last month. First trophy in the bag, constant wins on the board and now heading up the Prem table. This man is a genuine genius, he’s no fraud and you can give a man 400m but you can’t lead him to trophies. Can they keep this going?
3) Poch – down a place but only due to the achievements of Pep and Ole rather than a reduction from Poch. The destruction of Dortmund was impressive, but to follow up with winning in Dortmund I suggest Spurs fans are quietly pleased. A mini dip in the league is nothing to worry about and I would like to commend the Spurs fans, they are on to a good thing and they know it. Let the rest of us whine about the odd draw or loss. Goodbye Spursy, hello Spurs.
4) Sarri – non mover – it was a huge shame the whole Kepa keeper debacle as it took away from a solid Chelsea performance in the league cup final. The episode has been handled well and it looks like it has galvanised the entire club to put their house in order. Big changes in the summer, especially with the transfer ban which of course will get delayed so they can go big. Can Sarri keep them honest, only Roman can truly decide.
5) Emery – up a place but he needs to make up his mind what Arsenal are. A slightly better Everton or a genuine top 4 team. With Ramsey now sorted out its down to getting a tune out of Mikhitaryan and sending Ozil to Mandarin lessons and hope he likes spring rolls. Looking to hang on to a narrow defeat against Rennes feels like an underachiever rather than a top European team thinking ‘No, it’s only Rennes, let’s get at them’. Good on him for trying to put a team together with what he has. It’s a bit like having a blanket that’s too small, cover up your shoulders and your feet are sticking out….. worryingly I think Paul Merson said this and I remembered it….. off to buy a bag of Revels……
6) Phil Neville – first trophy in the bag, didn’t see that coming !! Should have made this Gary Neville instead…..
7) Klopp – 5th last month – draws, strange substitutions, 2nd in the league, Bayern with a slight advantage next week. I can understand that no matter how badly Mo is playing he can make and bury a chance. I know Firmino works hard and can grab the ball back in a key moment. I know Mane can burn past a defender and slot. However they all need to be told that the one who is playing the worst comes off after 60 minutes for Shaqiri. A quality player who can be a game changer. This keeps the front 3 focused and adds impetus and a new direction at a key point in the game. Keita has a great engine, good speed and surely in tight games against Everton and Utd when teams are tiring he can be given 20 minutes to go crazy. I understand draws against Everton and Utd are okay but they were both there for the taking in my opinion. If we do lose the league I think Klopp will look back on this last month with regret. To caveat he has done an amazing job and I want him to stay for years to come, he’s knows what he is doing.
8) (new entrant) Gary Neville
Ian (come on Liverpool leave everything on the pitch) LFC