This is where Levy and ENIC are taking Spurs…

Date published: Monday 11th March 2019 9:58

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Holding ENIC to account
Due to the fast, high press and intensive training sessions all but one of Poch’s season have seen Spurs tire at the business end.

As it looks very tight for top 4, this has not been helped by the chronic lack of investment in the squad. The real story, however, is it never fails to amaze me how the media are always in general complementing Daniel Levy on his ‘shrewd’ stewardship of the club.

It is very clear we are being lined up for a sale and it was always ENIC’s end game to build the stadium and sell the club on a huge profit for the £21m they paid Sugar in 2000. Lewis and Levy told Poch to achieve Champions League by the time of the second season at the stadium and have given the strongest ‘brand’ players new improved contracts – Kane,Son and Dele. All of which is more attractive to a buyer of the club.

We have not had meaningful investment in the playing squad in years and should Alderweild and Erikksen leave in the summer no doubt they will be replaced by lesser known, cheaper replacements bought on 31 August e.g. Walker for Aurier.

Whilst supporters are asked to invest personally in the club with high season ticket prices the clubs owners show a disinclination to do the same.

Net spend, the stadium has not been financed by ENIC. The supporters were sold season tickets to a stadium 8 months behind the promised start. The first item completed was the merchandise shop and Levy is the highest paid chairman in the Premiership. ENIC have chosen to invest their money in the property around the ground they would have only got the opportunity to buy as part of the stadium rebuild.

All of this lack of accountability and transparency (remember ENIC de-listed the club years ago) leads the club to being plumped up for sale to a US investor.

What is so ‘Spursy’ about the above state of affairs is we have had one of the best teams at the club in decades and our parsimonious owners are not interested in financing it in some way to the next level. We’re not talking Messi but sensible acquisitions like Maddison, Zaha and Maguire.

The result? Poch to Madrid and Benitez to Tottenham (well used to working in these conditions).
David Harris – Sydney

 

Brum disgrace
Johnny Nic is just wrong on so many levels. It’s got f*ck all to do with “societal issues” and absolutely NOTHING to do with mental health. It’s football itself and it’s every single person reading this now that’s the problem. It (football) creates supports and, crucially, ENABLES uniquely overly-aggressive behaviour from “fans” in a way that no other sport does.

The d*ckhead punching Grealish wasn’t the big point to take from yesterday. It was the thousands that cheered him blowing kisses as he was led off. Johnny, don’t try to explain a single f*ckwit’s behaviour and plant it on a multitude, try and explain that crowd’s reaction instead. Oh, and ‘tribalism’ my a*se btw.

I worked as a football hooligan/violence Police Officer for ten years from 2001-2009. I am tired of repeating on here that the general level of p*ss poor behaviour that permeates pretty much every ground in the top four leagues is present precisely because the rest of the supporters in the ground allow it to. R5L tonight had many football fans debating whether they would take their young children to games because of this kind of sh*t and others struggling to explain to their kids what they had seen on TV.

You can’t explain it. Except to say that grown men behave, at a football match, in a way they simply wouldn’t dream of doing in any other public or social context. Again, watch any corner taken by an away player and watch the sheer naked hatred and vitriol from the “fans” behind him. It’s utterly pathetic and every one of them, at every ground, should be banned for that. Will they? No chance. It’s just ‘atmosphere’ or ‘Bantz’ when you’re screaming abuse at a player doing his job. Behave like that to a bus driver or a shopkeeper and not only would you get locked up (and rightly so) but nobody else reading about it would bat an eyelid.

Bottom line folks is this. As football fans you can do as many worthy and charitable acts as you like (and great praise to those that have/do) but, generally speaking, football grounds are toxic environments full of knobheads in two distinct categories. Those that behave like utter f*cking pr*cks and those that do absolutely nothing to challenge them. Accepting that sh*t behaviour is ‘normal’ is you enabling it at every game you go to.
Mark (How many papers on Monday will have the utterly redundant “return to the dark days” phrase? Never, ever, gone away). MCFC

 

…No doubt there will be hundreds/thousands of Birmingham fans condemning the idiot from Sunday’s game, but if you watch the footage again, there is a huge cheer when the punch is thrown and lots of fans can clearly be seen clapping and cheering and Dean Smith refers to this in his post match interview.
Will the FA have the balls to do the right thing and ban ALL Birmingham fans from both home and away games for the rest of the season, harsh on many but if they dont ,then the day will come when something much more serious will happen, they need to send the right message right now.
Howard (do the officials have their pension fund on a city league win) Jones

 

…As an Irishman, I’ve had 2, formerly, biased views on Grealish:

– I just didn’t like him very much after rejecting Ireland (hey, none of us like rejection!)
– I never believed the hype around him was being matched anytime I saw him play live

However, after seeing what happened with the fan today, may I be the first of many to say I was screaming the house down in support when he scored the winner in that derby! Go on son, give it to them!

I’m also letting go of former grudges and accepting he might just be a bit good and doesn’t deserve that kind of sh*t that happened today.

Let’s hope footage surfaces of a police officer telling the ‘fan’ that Grealish scored the winner against Birmingham through his cell door later in the evening.

‘Alright mate, you know that fella you punched on the head – he only gone scored the winning goal against your team and dedicated you with the assist, get innnnnnnn thereeeeeeeeeee’ – is how I expect that convo to have went!

Honorable mention to Number 2 and Number 3 t*ats of the day:

The steward who then got arrested sticking a knee into Grealish (total madness – get him sacked)
The Gooner fan running on to go at Smalling

Gary B (Cantona was right all them years ago – some fans deserve a good belt)

 

Unai’s acing it
* Now would be a wonderful time to hear from Arsene’s s***-eaters in chief. How’s MAGA world “Lindsey” Graham? If only they’d sacked Emery on Friday morning. 🙄

* I repeat: Arsenal have more points, more wins, more goals scored, less conceded than at the same stage last season.

* They’ve also beaten Spurs, Chelsea and ManYoo at home, and gotten creditable draws at Old Trafford and away at Spurs (a game they should have won)

* Pochettino is a fantastic manager and Spurs have two world-class players in Kane and Eriksen. Arsenal currently have none and somehow, Emery is just 1 point behind a superior Spuds team.

* Emery tactically swatted Solskjaer aside. It was remarkably easy for him and though Solskjaer has earned all the deserved goodwill, the fact is he’s been incredibly fortunate. I have doubts that he has the ability to compete against the best managers.

* Lacazette is an excellent attacker with a very good all-round game. Sadly he isn’t ruthless enough to ever be a top-class striker: that’s three sitters in two big games he’s now scuffed and not even hit the target

* A word on Ozil: he’s useless. His fanboys love stats so here’s a few: 0 shots on target, 0 shots off target, 0 assists, 0 successful dribbles, 1 chance created, 0 tackles, 0 interceptions. So he does nothing in attack and nothing in defence. Pathetic. £350k a week for a German traffic cone. 🙄

* I suspect ManYoo will get that 4th spot but Emery has made Arsenal a serious outfit again after 14 years of farce under an inept autocrat. At 2-0 up the game never looked in doubt, tactically the team play passes with much more speed, spaces are intelligently closed out, the pressing happens in key areas, the width is used when it’s congested, the formation varied depending on the scenario, average players are being maximised, and there’s an obvious improvement in the likes of Leno, Sokratis, Maintland-Niles and Iwobi.

Still. If only Emery had mindlessly pushed everyone forward at 2-0 eh? 🙄🙄
Stewie Griffin (The MAGA morons better get them red caps back on. SAD!)

 

Ole’s been sussed
Ole Gunnar Solsksjaer is just another Roberto Di Matteo (when he managed Chelsea).

And he won’t win the champions league.

Man Utd should do the right thing and chase Pochettino in the summer.
Gooner, London.

 

Credit to United and Liverpool
When LFC beat United at Anfield to end the non-special ones reign the gap between the two rivals was a mighty 19 points. Since Oles appointment and let’s call it that because he deserves the job full time, United’s results and performances have been as good if not better than at any point post Fergie. They were a touch unlucky today as Lukaku should have scored and the penalty ,well soft isn’t really an adequate description. United are clearly back and look set to challenge again next season.

Yet since Oles appointment LFC have seemingly “bottled it” according to the press and “ thrown the title away” basis they have had a few particularly recent draws. Ole has just produced the greatest first 12 games as a manager in premiership history (10W, 2D) before today’s loss.

However the gap between England’s two greatest teams is ….. 15 points….. so all that has happened is that United have proven they should be closer to the top 2 sides and LFC are far from bottling it…
DL , LFC , Geneva ( going to the thinnest of wires)

 

Moore reaction
I like to think that I’m not a person predisposed to knee-jerk reactions, and for most of my life I have been relatively content in the knowledge that my football team largely mirrors this attitude. Unburdened by Aston Villa’s sense of entitlement, or the wild, reactionary mouth-frothing that frequently besets our cousins in Wolverhampton and Digbeth, respectively, we have long tended to go about our business with a quiet, grounded dignity, granted a sense of perspective and a neat line in self-deprecatory gallows humour that comes with having been so thoroughly unremarkable and unsuccessful for so long.

However, in recent years I have begun to notice a change in our fanbase, and one that is seemingly reflected in the boardroom. Far from the sensible self-awareness I’ve always associated with Baggies fans, we are seeing a dramatic rise in the sorts of tendencies for which we have always berated our neighbours: booing draws against similar-sized clubs; lambasting loyal club servants for relatively minor errors; most pertinently, calling for the manager’s head after a few less-than-perfect results. Whilst I am tempted to draw parallels between this increase in tantrum-throwing and the prevalence of Twitter (and the anonymity it brings with it), or even the tribal language of Brexit, Trump, and the general rise in populism, I’ll leave the social commentary in the capable hands of Johnny Nicholson, and instead focus on the supposed footballing reasons for Darren Moore’s sacking.

To begin, I think a bit of context would probably be useful for those not of a West Brom persuasion. Ever since the F.A. came calling in the summer of 2012 and poached our then-manager Roy Hodgson and, more importantly, then-technical director Dan Ashworth – whose influence on the recent successes of England’s men’s and women’s teams (regrettable Mark Sampson case aside) should not be underestimated – we have been a club without an identity. Initial success under the streaky Steve Clarke gave way to the varying levels of disaster that came with the respective reigns of Pepe Mel (under-backed and hung out to dry), Alan Irvine (passive and overawed), Tony Pulis (dour and divisive), and Alan Pardew (quite frankly just embarrassing all-round). Our signings frequently reeked of desperation, or otherwise no forward planning whatsoever. The only time we ever developed an identifiable playing style was under the aforementioned Pulis, and it was so dull that fans began staying away from the Hawthorns in droves. We were a club in the midst of an existential crisis, circling the Premier League drain more perilously every year until relegation became unavoidable. Enter Darren Moore.

When Moore took over as caretaker manager, we were already down. Not mathematically, perhaps, but requiring several snookers, to steal a cliche. He oversaw wins over Manchester United, Tottenham, and Newcastle, as well a draw against Liverpool. In fact, Moore’s tenure, despite only being six games long, accounted for over 35% of our points last season. Whilst nothing is ever certain, in football as in life, there’s a strong argument to be made that, had we replaced Pardew with Moore a few games earlier, we would have stayed up. He picked up the Premier League Manager of the Month award in April, and – in a gesture that has summed up his time in charge of the club – made sure that his acceptance photograph for the award was not only of himself but also every member of the team and extended backroom staff. There are probably 80-90 members of staff in that photo. The message was clear, and stood in stark contrast to the (largely undeserved) self-aggrandisement of Pulis and Pardew: “We are a team, and we will fight as a team.”

I am often wary of pundits replacing analysis of tangible, quantifiable variables with vague, abstract concepts, but Darren Moore had undoubtedly restored some pride – and, crucially, identity – to West Bromwich Albion, in spite of our relegation. As with the current Solskjaer situation at Manchester United, it would have been impossible not to have given him the job on a permanent basis. A club legend had come into the fold on a temporary basis and put smiles back on faces and bums back on seats. Sure, we could probably have attracted someone with a more impressive managerial pedigree, but Moore was the perfect fit, and had more than earned his opportunity. He was inexperienced, but for the first time since Roy Hodgson it felt like we had somebody who understood the club and the supporters in charge. A few fans argued that we should have been looking at attracting a manager with a proven track record, but they were rightly drowned out by the swell of support for Moore, and even his doubters couldn’t begrudge him a shot at managing the team full-time.

And so to this season (if anybody is still reading). The Championship is a topsy-turvy league. There is no runaway winner, a la Wolves, this season. Depending on how results pan out in the Premier League today, there are four or five teams in the top flight whose points-per-game record equals or betters Norwich’s, the league leaders. We are 9 points outside of the automatic promotion places with ten games to go. We have a 7 point buffer to the team in 7th. Barring a monumental collapse, we will finish in the play-offs. On paper, we have arguably the best squad in the division, but we’ve seen in the past that this can count for nothing. You still need to motivate the players. West Brom’s wage bill is in the top three in the league; the other two are Aston Villa and Stoke, teams 10 and 16 points behind us, respectively. Swansea, the other team to come down with us last season, are 14 points behind us. Only Norwich have scored more goals than us this season, and absolutely nobody will want to be drawn against us in a play-off situation.

What does all of this mean? Nothing, frankly. Depending on your point of view, you could convincingly argue that we are underachieving, overachieving, or about par. Moore has not done everything right, though seemingly the influence of assistant (and apparent tactical guru) Graham Jones should not be overlooked. His insistence on picking the bulky, immobile Livermore in central midfield whenever he’s fit – in the loosest sense of the term – has been baffling, especially given our other options. Attempts to shoehorn both Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez into a front three, with one of them inevitably stuck out in an unnatural wide position, have too often seen one or both of them essentially nullified by our own tactics. Our commitment to passing the ball out from the back, despite having no centre backs who appear comfortable doing so, has invited pressure in far too many games against supposedly weaker opposition.

On the other hand, there have been plenty of positives. For a start, we’ve actually been scoring goals, something that happened far too infrequently during those Pulis years. We’ve successfully integrated a number of youngsters into the first-team picture, with Rekeem Harper’s performances in particular proving that, should we hold onto him, the future is bright. And the noises coming out of the club suggest that, for the first time in a long time, the dressing room is unified, with a welcome lack of reports of training ground bust-ups, player dissatisfaction, or arrogant outsiders pissing everybody else off emanating from the Hawthorns.

What I guess I am trying to say is this: even the biggest doubters and loudest dissenters have to admit that the season is neither a write-off nor a failure. West Brom appointed a man with no previous managerial experience, knowing that this season would be a learning curve, but have not given him the opportunity to make mistakes along the way. They have not been helped by a number of so-called supporters, particularly those who boo every counter-attack that breaks down or take to Twitter to demand Moore’s head after any game we don’t win. No team has a divine right to win promotion, and many in the recent past have failed much more comprehensively than we appear to be doing. Perhaps Moore has become a victim of the club’s indecision over Pulis and Pardew, two managers whose permission to outstay their welcomes exacerbated the team’s situation and precipitated our decline. Maybe the board could only see things getting worse and decided that they had to act quickly. They might even appoint somebody who’ll prove me comprehensively wrong, a man who can take us on the sort of winning run we will need to overhaul one of Leeds and Norwich and earn us the automatic promotion the owners so obviously believe should have been achieved at a canter. Or maybe, just maybe, we have fallen victim to short-termism, knee-jerkery, ideas-above-our-stationality.

Darren Moore is a modern West Bromwich Albion legend. His heart-on-sleeve, no nonsense displays at centre-back during our promotion seasons in 2002 and 2004 were superb, and a massive part of our success. He played more games for us than any other team in his career, and it is us who immediately come to mind whenever anybody mentions his name. He wrote so honestly and eloquently about his disappointment at being part of the Derby County squad that beat us in the play-off final in 2007. He has been a fantastic servant since returning to the club in a variety of coaching roles, first as youth team coach, overseeing the progress of a number of players who are now part of our first team squad, then as the caretaker boss who almost managed a miracle, and finally as a manager who has steadied the ship, brought a sense of joy back to the Hawthorns, and got us into a very good position to achieve promotion at the first time of asking.

If reports are to be believed, he was sacked in the dressing room, within 40 minutes of the final whistle, and forced to go out for post-match media duties knowing that he’d just lost his job. It is a horribly undignified way for such a dignified man to end his West Bromwich Albion career, which has now lasted, on and off, for nearly 20 years. To be honest, I’m embarrassed by the actions of my club, and the actions of some of its fans. I can only hope that Moore is able to go on and have a long and successful career in football management, and am sorry that it can no longer happen at this club. Thanks for all your hard work, Darren, and thanks for the memories.
Neil

 

…The Albion’s decision to sack one of the true gentleman of the game has left me feeling a bit numb to football this weekend. As somebody who stopped attending games under the Tony Pulis regime (joyless, soul destroying dirge). I felt as excited about a season as I can remember after the appointment of a bona fide club legend and despite some rocky periods, particularly at home of late, was generally optimistic about Darren developing as a coach, steadying the ship and taking us into the playoffs. Darren inherited a problematic (remember Taxi gate?), aging squad that was used to playing dreadful, percentage football and turned it into an open team full of goals, albeit leaky at the back, despite limited investment.

I appreciate why the decision was made, Mr Lai is obviously reluctant to repeat the mistakes made when Pardew was kept around far too long and seems to be grasping desperately to protect his investment and apparently terrified of another season outside of the pot of gold Prem. His motivations I understand, I just can’t really fathom what the vocal section of our fanbase who are defending the decision actually want out of football anymore? Have we not learned from the tedious, eye bleeding years of grinding out 40 points? Realistically, what does the Prem offer for a club of our size outside of a return to the race to stay on the gravy train? Yes, the football was far from perfect this season, but standing by Darren Moore would have afforded a young coach in his first full season to further develop, continue blooding youngsters from our own academy and restoring some of the club’s DNA.

Moore galvanised the whole club in a summer that threatened to become a shit storm and is a man who genuinely cares for the football club. Even putting aside what a genuinely top man he is, that there are Albion fans who support the decision to cast the potential aside of success under one of our own for an attempt to return to being an also ran in the glossy, humourless Premier League just saddens me. I feel like I’m in a minority that can’t quite see the appeal of the Prem, at least for 14 of it’s clubs.
Alex (can’t wait to see Jokanovic’s version of this defence), Stourbridge

 

More wind and hot air
Just wondering how many media outlets will ridicule Sean Dyche for rightly pointing out the ridiculously windy conditions on Merseyside yesterday.

I totally understand rival fans’ banter about his various comments, but I really don’t like how journalists interpret Klopp commenting on conditions as “making excuses” – there is a difference between describing situations the team failed to overcome, and saying ‘we were at a disadvantage because of X Y Z’. It’s especially frustrating when the “both teams had to deal with it” point is made, particularly when the games finish as a draw (I’m looking at you amongst others, Matt Stead!).

In a sense he is making a rod for his own back by even bringing the subject up, but I’d put it down to it being a very German* way of expressing yourself – it is hard to describe without any formal expertise on the subject, but it is noticeable that ones’ native language impacts not only the words you use to express yourself in a foreign language, but also the content you wish to convey. I’ve always enjoyed listening to people from French/German/Spanish managers and players speaking in English for this reason – not sure if other multilingual mailboxers have noticed the same?

Klopp deserves criticism for the times he has accused his questioners of not understanding football, or of asking stupid questions (when valid), but a lot of his “excuses” really came across as observations, taking this all in consideration.
Oliver (* observation based on German family, colleagues and friends – hopefully doesn’t come across as negative stereotyping etc) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

 

Alisson’s brilliant. But…
Obviously happy with the result, but one niggle is Alisson’s judgment. I understand his frustration for the first goal, but arguing with the ref resulted in a pointless yellow. He could’ve got a second for timewasting from a goal kick. And of course we had another heart in mouth moment from ball dawdling (stop smirking at the back).

He’s brilliant, but if he can improve on this he could be the best in the world.
Aidan, Lfc (don’t know why I’m trying to find a cloud in a silver lining – think the thought of Mignolet just freaked me out)

 

Lallana credit
First of all, fair f**ks to Adam Lallana. I was very critical of Klopp bringing him on as a sub the other week because he looked off the boil when we needed someone incisive. The issue with Lallana has always been one of end game; often it feels as though he just wants to pirouette into an infinite abyss. Today he came on and gave us verve through the middle of the pitch and his actions served a specific goal and it was to constantly knock the opposition out of rhythm. I think his MOTM was a little over the top given it was his work off the ball that made all the difference rather than what he did with it but he was still essential today.

Given yesterday the officials seemed desperate to gift Man City the result it was a bit alarming that Alisson didn’t seem to be getting the most basic of goalkeeper protection today for their first goal. Sometimes I think the second linesman should come short and onto the pitch to watch corners to add another angle. I don’t strictly know on this latter point but for our second and third goal I wondered why the defenders didn’t get booked for their challenges. I realise that the ref played the advantage to allow us to score but both were bookable challenges and it’s pretty normal for the ref to acknowledge that with a booking in most games after an advantage has been played.

Today we probably should have scored 6, but it’s a much better feeling than games like last week where it felt like we were never going to score at all. Or had possibly forgotten that that was the purpose of playing the game in the first place.

Slightly off topic but I saw a lot of debate about OGS and whether he was being lucky. I appreciate it’s not for all but I saw something showing that his team was outperforming expected goals scored and conceded up to now. That might not be lucky, if he’s coaching some new mentality into the attackers or giving them new shooting drills etc but days like today were bound the happen where the opposite seemed true. It was amazing they didn’t even score 1 of the ludicrous chances they created today. And perhaps a touch unlucky that De Gea seemed to misread Xhaka’s shot. His goalkeeping for that shot looked a lot like mine in 5 a side which made me feel better.
Minty, LFC

 

So there
People can say all they want about Liverpool/Fans/Klopp whatever. Even if we don’t win the league at least we actually bothered to put up a challenge to City unlike anyone else.
Ryan, Liverpool

 

Mystic Mowbray
Listening to the commentary of the Newcastle Everton game on MOTD on Saturday night and it struck me that Guy Mowbray has got an uncanny ability to predict goals being scored; either that or his commentary style is such that his approach is to presume a goal is going to be scored in order to make it more exciting. I’ve noticed this many times over the years when he has commentated on Citeh games and it has led me to believe that he is the mystic meg of football commentary. Has anyone else noticed/appreciated his mystic qualities?

Yours,
Rosie Poppins.


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