Let’s have your emails: email@example.com…
Where’s the anger from Spurs fans?
I’ve been reading the back and forth over the last few days about how Tottenham should’ve got something out of the game on Saturday. Fair enough, lets concede that Le Celso should’ve scored and that would’ve allowed the game to end 1-1.
What we shouldn’t ignore is the third best team in the country last year (yes they finished 4th, but with a CL final coming up I get being distracted), at home, played a low block because….Gerrard slipped?
What was the goal? Soak up reams of pressure hoping to get that 1 chance because it worked in 2014 again?
Liverpool have shown themselves surprisingly resilient in breaking down defenses this year and arguably should’ve scored before the Firmino goal. Before Jose made the definitive changes and decided to go for it, at no point did I feel that Spurs were going to score.
This brings me to the central point of my email: Why aren’t Spurs fans more angry? Why are Spurs, a great club even without Harry Kane playing at home like a relegation candidate against any team?
Jose Mourinho came out to hope to cause that one mistake or steal that one goal despite the evidence that it doesn’t happen this season. When it didn’t come he waited until the tail end of the match to make the changes that could bring the game to Liverpool to…force a draw?
Spurs, CL Finalists, are 9 points off 4th Place, as close to the CL places as they are to relegation. With Chelsea and United winning a draw was not a useful result yet Mourinho set up to park the bus to perhaps nick the points (a daft strategy against this Liverpool team) and failing to make any changes until the last 15 minutes when this strategy failed.
What would a draw have accomplished save for bragging rights for Jose? Liverpool would be 12 points ahead with a match in hand and Spurs would still be 8 points behind 4th. A draw for Spurs gave them nothing…and it seems Spurs supporters are okay with it.
I have all the time in the world for Spurs and the ‘hate’ I feel for them as a Liverpool supporter is down to the fact they were hard as hell to play against and a great team. So it was a bloody shame to see them 10 men behind the ball, their attacking prowess blunted by a vain yesterday’s man who would’ve crowed about his brilliance taking a point off of Liverpool. And Spurs supporters seem okay with that.
A bloody shame.
Mark, Waterdown, LFC
1. Sadly, I start (yet another) email bemoaning crowd behaviour. There is literally no situation in which it is either funny or acceptable to chant about wanting someone else to die because of football. Every single one of those disgusting individuals, chanting “Ed Woodward is gonna die” needs to be tracked down and hit with severe criminal charges and total bans from all public events forever. Yet again, football brings into painfully sharp focus what a f*cked up, disgusting world this can be. I wasn’t personally at the game but their behaviour makes me ashamed to be a United fan by association.
2. I suppose I can talk about football now. The game and the performance were alright and, while that might sound entitled, United – or the team in 5th, if you like – should definitely be battering a team sitting at the bottom of the league with the worst defensive record in the division. This isn’t a corner turned, a sign that things are on the up, or any other optimistic spin one could throw at it. This is the bare minimum expectations being met and nothing more.
3. Rashford was excellent again and proving to be the excellent goalscorer he first appeared to be. While Lukaku is earning rave reviews for his performances in the old folk’s home of European football, Rashford is really showing why Solskjaer was absolutely right to favour him instead. His all round game is really starting to improve and, with 19 goals and four assists in 27 starts (and three sub appearances), is starting to really fulfil that early promise.
4. Brandon Williams was also exceptional again as well. But for that really quite impressive miss from less than a metre away, his performance was almost flawless. Three tackles, five interceptions, one key pass, two shots and the joint-second most dribbles, plus a lovely run to win the penalty, show what a cracking all round game he had. If this young man continues to play this way then I really can’t see how Luke Shaw will regain his place – and long may it continue.
5. Lovely Juan was also brilliant again, with two great assists (did my eyes deceive me? We scored a header?!) showing what he is still capable of. Norwich didn’t do themselves any favours, with the amount of space they afforded him, but it still takes skill and vision to execute those passes – something which neither Lingard nor Pereira possess enough of. Unfortunately, Mata’s main problem is pace – if you could give him the energy and pace of Lingard then you’d have an exceptional player. Still, I’d take Mata starting ahead of either of those two any day.
6. Martial managed to get his goal but he seems to suffer a little bit of the same problem that Lukaku had, in that he tends to score the “luxury” goals – like the goal that puts you two or three ahead, rather than that the goal that breaks a deadlock. It was a well-taken goal and he also worked very hard defensively, which is nice, but for me he’s just not a striker. Maybe with time he can learn to be a line-leader but he’s not quite there yet.
7. Mason Greenwood also showed why he is so highly rated, scoring within just a few minutes of coming on. As disappointed as I was that we didn’t get Haaland, it wasn’t a signing that needed to happen as much as some think. Getting more goals in the side is always a plus but Greenwood is showing that he is capable of scoring all sorts of goals, so if we can get some more creativity around him then missing out on Haaland may prove to be a blessing.
8. Other than that, everyone else just ticked over nicely. We managed to avoid any more injuries, which is a bonus, and we kept a clean sheet that will hopefully boost the confidence of the defence and De Gea (who made a couple of decent saves to keep Norwich out). It’s this kind of “boring” defence that we’ve been missing. I don’t miss the days when De Gea was making save after save, looking like a superstar – I would much rather Maguire and co have as little to do as possible and barely hear them mentioned, so more control of matches like this is definitely something to aim for.
9. As I said, this victory is nothing to get excited about and neither Mata’s nor Matic’s performances should detract or distract from the supposed pursuit of Bruno Fernandes. We absolutely need more quality and strength in depth in the middle, regardless of how well any of Saturday’s midfield did. I still 100% expect the Bruno stuff to be a red herring, but hopefully I’m wrong about that one. At the moment, it still feels like the Nico Gaitan fiasco, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him anywhere but Old Trafford by the end of the window.
10. And as good a win as it was at the weekend, two of the next four games are critical. If we lose to Wolves and fail to overturn the deficit against City then that’ll be two competitions over, with only top four to chase in the league and a long-shot at the Europa League still to play for. The win at Norwich will count for very little if it isn’t followed by more of the same, but our appalling lack of consistency this season suggests that it’s unlikely to happen. Again, hopefully I’m wrong, but we’ll know soon enough.
Enjoying lucky Liverpool…
Just to say I fully supported the conclusions you arrived at in Winners and Losers. Liverpool were lucky, because they didn’t convert their dominance into goals and could easily have been sucker punched if Spurs hadn’t Spurs’d it up. The moaning of the Liverpool fans this morning was insufferable.
That said, the luck and the moaning on either side are not in the slightest spoiling an amazing season, and I am enjoying every last moment!
Dan, Plastic LFC
Hasenhuttl and the power of sticking with the manager
I think you should put Hasenhuttl and Southampton board as your winners in the winner&loser section.
After got thumped 0-9 by Leicester City about three months ago, Hasenhuttl has shown incredible management to drag Southampton out from the relegation zone. He tweaked the system, played a much better football, and got a great luck (or great motivator?) in Danny Ings’ brilliant form.
Huge credit needs to be given to the Southampton board that decides to keep supporting Hasenhuttl. It would be understandable for them to give Hasenhuttl the sack after humiliating defeat against Leicester and appointing other managers to fire-fight the situation. Luckily, they are not and the reward is slowly being evident. The reward is even sweeter when they managed to beat Leicester away 2-1 this weekend.
Granted, Southampton is not safe yet from relegation (but then again, Arsenal is also not safe). But I like this story where the manager is given a chance to turn the ship around. I guess it is manager’s responsibility in any job: dealing with problem and actually correcting it.
What’s happening at Southampton is stunning, it’s also baffling. If Hasenhutl had been fired eleven weeks ago after suffering the ignominious 9-0 defeat to the Foxes, and his successor had presided over the run of results they have actually had since, we’d all be saying “What an excellent appointment, glad they changed when they did, where were these players etc.”
But it’s the same players and manager. It surely can’t be solely due to Ings’ goals?
Can a Saints fan, mailboxers or F365 find any explanation?
Paul in Brussels (Ings for England)
Grinding or coasting?
To the Editor
Some interesting mails on the Spurs Pool 16 Conclusions.
My quick thoughts are that Pool are coasting. Doing just enough at every point to get the job done. So Spurs score with their various opportunities, I think the Reds level up/wake up and score again. Not saying this is a good thing….
For the record I prefer the Man City strategy of the last two years of pounding every team into bloody pulp….
Watch Pool with a ‘worthy’ foe. Playing Leicester and Man City they were playing for blood, the Leicester game in particular after travelling time zones and on short rest, they came to the game ready to go and blew the doors off.
I don’t see this as a positive or sustainable strategy, just what is actually happening, for better or worse.
The worse is not playing for blood against Man Utd, coasting is not an option, Pool must play for blood and play them like the mailbox hasn’t been bagging them for 18 months, there must be a reckoning with the old enemy on what *could* be a premiership year.
Best to all the mailboxers for 2019 and a better 2020
Jim, LFC, Canberra (My country is burning, my city is choking on smoke, it is great to have something to talk shit about)
Oh big Nige…
Ok, take a deep breath Adam Miller. Nigel Pearson is a decent manager, but the Second Coming he certainly is not.
It’s never a great idea to judge a player or manager over a small sample of games. Yes over 15 premier league matches, that record of 11 wins and 2 draws looks great, but let’s not forget that he was recently sacked from our sister club, FC Leuven for guiding them to second bottom of the second tier (2 wins in 10 games in case you were wondering).
You may also remember that his dismissal from Leicester came in the aftermath of three youth players, including Pearson Jr, being sacked by the club for partaking in an orgy with Thai hookers on a club tour. His relationship with the board deteriorated at this juncture, presumably because he failed to deal with this situation appropriately. This wasn’t his only mistake at Leicester; throttling opposition players and ranting about ostriches aren’t a good look for an ‘elite’ manager. And ‘imagine what could have been’?? We won the league under Ranieri the next season for Christ’s sake! (now he was the second coming!). Nigel will always be well loved by Leicester fans, and he set the foundations for what was to follow, but crediting him with our title win is misguided and unfair on all the other components.
It’s also worth remembering that Solksjaer had a great record over a period of 10 or so games when he arrived at Man U. Then there was Tim Sherwood before that, and Craig Shakespeare’s golden spell. Let’s just see how Nigel copes over a year, or with a dip in form, or with injuries to key players before handing him the England/Barcelona job shall we?
All that being said, it’s great to see big Nige back and doing so well with Watford, he deserves huge credit for the START he has made.
Jaymo, LCFC (no regrets)
Leicester fan here. I come in peace, not to discuss our ‘shock’ defeat to Southampton (which, incidentally, was top billing on MOTD at the weekend simply because it was a major upset, which just blows my mind in so many ways), but to discuss Adam Miller’s musings about everyone’s favourite ostrich lover, Nigel Pearson.
I am as pleased as anyone that ‘Big Nige’ is reviving Watford and having a career renaissance. However, just because his recent form as a PL manager is so strong doesn’t necessarily make him a top (top) manager now. The picture, as always, is much more complicated than that.
Firstly, he wasn’t a ‘bang average’ manager before the fateful hat-trick from ex-Leicester reject Harry Kane. That was a weird season for us. At no point did it look like we were playing horrifically that the points tally suggested. Poorly, yes, but not nailed on relegation certs. I am sure if Peter G did some xG magic it would show that our position in the table really did lie in late March. So our form since allowed us almost to regress to the mean, we just did it all in one little chunk at the end of the season.
Secondly, it wasn’t necessarily Nigel’s ‘magic’ that sparked the change. There are various stories emanating from the dressing room that the team took a bit more control themselves and came up with plans and solutions to their form post- Spurs match, that ultimately brought a revival and eventual safety.
Conversely, such a situation (strong dressing room taking initiative) was not by accident, but something Pearson and his team actively sought as they created a strong culture at Leicester in the years following our League One ignominy and bought players with the right ‘profile’. Alongside this, the backroom set up, designed and led by Pearson, was clearly ahead of it’s time and, to this day, still contributes massively to our sustained success. This enabled them to take the initiative and lead to our miracle escape that season.
This culture was clearly evident the year we won the league (did we really?! oh joy of joys!) following Pearson’s sacking (one day the club will erect a statue of James Pearson in grateful thanks for being the catalyst for our greatest ever season). I can see why Adam suggests that Ranieri ‘got all the glory’ riding on Pearson’s coat tails, but that is to dismiss the unique chemistry Ranieri bought to a well-oiled set up. Who knows, with Pearson still in post we may have aimed for the CL spots, but there is no way he would have masterminded a title win or coped with the pressure the title race provided in the way Don Claudio did.
So, as I said at the start all those lines ago, the picture is much more complicated than Adam paints. In Watford’s case, it may well be ‘right manager, right time’, just like it was at Leicester in 15/16 – a clearly talented Watford squad just needed that disciplined, no nonsense approach from their manager to compliment their, undoubted talent.
Apologies to Adam for dissecting his different and genuinely interesting, non-big 6 mail. Please do keep those left-field theories coming in so I have the opportunity to act a know-it-all in response again.
Rob (our form is a bit iffy at the mo), Leicester
Defend the throw
The throw in that Liverpool were awarded shouldn’t have been given.
There was also an incident in the game where Spurs got a corner that should have been a Liverpool goal kick.
One of those situations should be more dangerous to the defending team than the other (it’s not the throw).
However, Liverpool defended the corner. Spurs failed to defend the throw in.
You want to complain about something? Complain about your teams’ inability to defend the attack that followed the throw in.
Remember, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
I was thinking about how formations come and go. Positions find favour before being consigned to the past (think out and out wingers for all action full backs) but no position has been dismissed with such abandon as t he sweeper.
I know keepers such as Lloris, Neuer and Ederson have evolved to perform this role but back in the 90’s and beyond the sweeper seemed to be the role of a player clearly better than all those around him. Think Gullit who I think first took on the role at Sampdoria. Hoddle at Swindon and, coincidentally who brought Gullit to replace him in the same position at Chelsea. Think Sammer – possibly the best of my lifetime in that role. Lothar Matthias dabbled. And, of course the Godfather of the position, Beckenbauer.
There are others of course. I wonder just how effective the role could be now. Spurs had the reverse sweeper (sounds like a sex position) a few years back with Dier stepping back from midfield to create a back three (and by the by, forgive me mentioning the former players in the same breath as Dier, and for mentioning Dier and sex position in the same sentence). I would love to have seen someone like Alonso or Toure – both incredible readers of the game, physical and with beautiful distribution play that role. Philip Lahm would have been excellent at that role, too.
Don’t have a point to this, just loved the sweeper and miss it.
Quick(ish) thoughts on handball, VAR and offside feet
Seeing the Snodgrass goal ruled out on Friday night for a handball in the build-up made me think that from now on whenever a player knows the ball has hit has hand, accidentally or not, he might as well kick the ball out for a throw-in or deliberately lose possession as no goal can ever come from it. Handball it at the start of a 30-pass move that leads to a goal… “sorry chap we’re cancelling that goal out cos of a handball we didn’t initially spot and which was purely accidental because it led to a goal from the same phase of play one minute later”. Absolutely ludicrous. Although perhaps worth mentioning here that Liverpool got away with this in the City game earlier in the season with van Dijk so is there a time limit, pass limit where it no longer gets taken into consideration?
And quickly, on VAR offsides. A thought I’ve recently come up with in terms of a change that might see less of those super tight offside calls with shoulders and armpits going against the attackers – how about changing it so that if your feet are ‘onside’ it makes no difference if your shoulder or armpit is leaning further forward, you’re deemed ‘onside’. It might not solve those ones where an attackers feet are offside but the player is leaning the other way but it would, I think, cut down on the number of debateable offside decisions which are reliant on a referee at Stockley Park deciphering where on the screen someone’s shoulder starts under their shirt. Just an idea!
Just throwing this out there…
Just a very quick one to stoke the uneccessary VAR debate today. Forget a throw in – was Sadio Mane not fouled?
From all the replays/stills I’ve seen, it’s not a pretty tackle. Therefore have they maybe decided not to call it back in the same way you wouldn’t award a penalty where advantage is played and the attacking team scores?
Am really enjoying the outrage though. Some of it really quite hilarious.
In fairness to Garth Crooks and his goalscorers of the week.
He should rest James, Van Dijk, and Fernandinho, replace them with Almiron, Mahrez and Deeney, adopt my 2003/04 Champ Manager Juventus formation (the 0-4-6) and with King Martin in goal, they’d still have the league wrapped up before Christmas.
The only issue Garth will have is when they’re live on TV, and he drops a bollock (I believe he does this on purpose, because he wants to stay at the Toon).
Ratt Mitchie NUFC – OHHHH MARTIN DUBRAVKA!
All the best, Johnny Nic
As always I enjoyed John Nicholson’s latest Monday article, but also wanted to express my sympathies to him and his vocal condition. That must be a scary thing to go through. It also seems really inconveniently timed as, per my recollection, Johnny was just beginning to be invited on an exponentially-increasing number of Podcasts and TV shows, which must have been affected by his health development.
It’s really great to read he is making a recovery (and that it wasn’t caused by cancer)! I look forward to hearing him, as well as reading him, in future.
On the subject of voice, accent and being perceived as “old school”, JN is very pertinent because this was always one of his major appeals, back in the days of Podball365 and latterly on the major Podcasts – a man with a northern accent, self-identifying as working class etc, who rejects all the Proper Football Man nonsense (wasnt it he who coined that term, originally?!) and instead regales us with his stories of hippying through America in the 70s. What a man.
All the best,
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland