What can Jose do without a Kevin De Bruyne?

Date published: Monday 11th December 2017 12:25

Call my name
‘TWENTY players and staff were involved in the tunnel melee which will be dubbed the new Water-gate at the end of a crackling Manchester derby’ – Simon Jones, Daily Mail.

A quick search on Google and Twitter would suggest otherwise.


Poor ‘powerless’ Jose
Mediawatch is actually a tad astonished that The Sun’s Neil Custis is admitting that Manchester United were second best against Manchester City on Sunday (it’s only two weeks since a 1-0 win over Brighton proved that United are ‘a force to be reckoned with’), though of course Jose Mourinho is being painted as ‘powerless’ in this humiliation. What could he possibly do with just £300m to spend over 18 months?

‘The problem for Mourinho is that all his good work in the last 18 months is being set against what is being achieved down the road.’

Poor bugger. It really is a ball-ache when people insist on comparing your work against others in some sort of league table. Paul Clement probably feels the same.

‘We must remember United are still second and that is a lot better than they have been since Ferguson left.’

Yes, though is it really that much better to be second and 11 points behind leaders Manchester City than third and eight points behind Chelsea as they were at the same stage of the season three years ago under Louis van Gaal?

So what could Mourinho possibly do now? Coach? Find solutions? Of course not…

‘Mourinho needs more if that gap is going to be bridged in the way he did in Spain when he beat Pep’s Barca to the title in 2012.

‘To do that he needs more money, he needs better players, from the very top draw (sic).

‘He has nobody like the magician that is David Silva, the outstanding player on the pitch yesterday.

‘Nobody in midfield like Kevin De Bruyne, one of the outstanding players of the season so far.’

There is something delicious in anybody writing that Jose Mourinho has ‘nobody in midfield like Kevin De Bruyne’; he did once have somebody very much like Kevin De Bruyne indeed.

Once again, there is something we really need to underline for the 427th time: Mourinho and Pep Guardiola had inherited teams that finished the previous season on the same number of points. They were not given massively different sums of money to spend. The playing field was as level as any playing field in history. That Mourinho’s team is now 11 points behind Pep’s City cannot solely be about resources.

When Guardiola took over Manchester City, Silva and De Bruyne had just scored a combined nine Premier League goals and assisted a combined 20 goals in 2015/16. A modest return.

When Mourinho took over Manchester United, he bought Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who had just scored a combined 19 goals and assisted 27 goals in Serie A and the Bundesliga at a cost of £120m.

If the latter manager has nobody like Silva and De Bruyne, he has no bugger else to blame but himself.


On the same page
According to the Daily Mail’s Ian Herbert, ‘City delivered the game’s best players – Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Raheem Sterling – and its finest passages of play’.

Herbert should have had a word with colleague Chris Wheeler; he rated David De Gea, Nemanja Matic, Marcus Rashford, Ederson, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus all above Sterling (6).


Inside the mind of Castles

Anyone still think he is an unbiased journalist?


We were the champions
It seems an awful long time since Manchester United won their first two games and were basically handed the title…

Martin Samuel, Daily Mail, August 21: ‘Mourinho, with his nose in front, is even more dangerous than the ghost of Billy Meredith. United’s manager is a front-runner, the way Tiger Woods used to be. Woods never won a major that he did not at least co-lead going into the final day. Mourinho wins his Premier League titles as imperiously. He dominates, early. Gets in front and crushes resistance into the turf.’

Neil Custis, The Sun, August 24: ‘His second season is always the one. It is not just coincidence, as his CV testifies. Already you can see the marked improvement in the team with the 4-0 wins over West Ham and Swansea. In the meantime, all his main rivals for the title have dropped points. Early doors, yes, but once a Mourinho team hits the front there is never a Devon Loch calamity moment near the finish.’

To be fair, we are nowhere near the finish.


Strong work
Martin Samuel, Daily Mail, August 21, handing United the title: ‘Mourinho is getting outstanding performances from a settled group of players: Paul Pogba, Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Marcus Rashford, even Anthony Martial off the bench, all look stronger this season.’

Martin Samuel, Daily Mail, December 11, handing City the title: ‘No United player, on form, would be preferred to Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, even Gabriel Jesus. United have a strong forward line but they are not City strong.’


Dear Stan
Stan Collymore, October 16: ‘It doesn’t matter if you win 10-4 or 1-0 you still earn the same number of points, but ultimately it will be the number of clean sheets you keep that win you the title.’

It really won’t.


Oh Stan
Stan Collymore, October 16: ‘Don’t get me wrong, some of the football City have played this season – not least on Saturday – has been amazing, absolutely superb.

‘But what will determine Pe (sic) Guardiola’s success is not how they play, it’s whether or not they can get one more point than the team in second.’

It’s going to be so, so close.


Credit to Sam
‘I simply can not accept that an Everton side managed by Sam Allardyce’s predecessors Ronald Koeman or David Unsworth could have pulled such an impressive result out of the bag’ – Garth Crooks, BBC.

But can you accept that an Everton side managed by Ronald Koeman drew 1-1 with champions elect Manchester City in August? Or are you just ignoring that?


Recommended reading of the day
Jonathan Wilson explains why Jose is to blame.

Michael Cox on Juventus 0-0 Inter.

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