Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365
I just have one question
I’m sure everyone else will have plenty of conclusions/input about Manchester United’s latest screw up, so in lieu of trying to claw out 16 myself, I just have one question: where is this idea that Ole is a promoter of youth coming from?
It’s all very well Solskjaer saying that we didn’t replace our departed players because of the promising youth prospects in our ranks, but so far that looks like the absolute hogwash it really is. The teams we have picked this year are basically the same as last year, but for the three new arrivals. For the Southampton game, both Shaw’s and Martial’s places were up for grabs, but they were filled by Young (34), and Mata (31) or Pereira (23). No starters under the age of 21, three starters over the age of 30, average age of the involved players was 25. That’s hardly giving youth a chance in my book.
So far, Greenwood has featured for a grand total of 37 minutes (excluding injury time). Fair enough, he wasn’t strictly needed in the Chelsea game but against Wolves, Palace and Southampton we were chasing goals and yet the “most natural finisher” in the squad was afforded just 1, 24 and 8 minutes respectively. If he isn’t better than Rashford, Martial or Lingard, then to what depths of profligacy do we need to sink before he does get a start?
Pereira is not exactly a youngster any more (no longer eligible for the u23s), but even he has managed just 143 minutes out of a possible 360. Tuanzebe has been on all four benches thus far but hasn’t yet made an appearance. Chong has finally made a bench, but there are still no signs of either Garner or Gomes, the latter of whom I actually think is the most exciting option and the one who looks the most able to step up. McTominay is the only one of our home grown players who is featuring with any regularity so far, missing just 13 minutes so far.
For me, James and Wan-Bissaka don’t count as “giving youth a chance” because they are new signings that were purchased by/for the new manager, and both were playing regularly for their previous clubs last season. The point is that we were told that new signings to replace Fellaini, Herrera, Lukaku or Sanchez weren’t needed because of the academy products, which neither James nor Wan-Bissaka are.
We were told there would be radical changes at the end of last season but I’m still waiting for them. In a season where we have lost three first team players, how often have their young potential replacements (James Garner, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong) featured in matchday squads? As of today, just once between them. Sure, you could say it’s a risk to play the academy products, that we might drop points, but we’re doing that with the same dross that so underwhelmed for most of last year; hell, we’ve only won 3 out of our last 18 games, how much worse could it get?! In any case, I would be more understanding of the dropped points if the players who have been starting have been keeping the youngsters out on form but, for the vast majority of them, that really isn’t the case.
Even in terms of Ole’s self-preservation, most United fans would forgive us being this mediocre if this was a team full of youth; if we’re underwhelming while actually playing some of the youngsters that are not yet bedded into the team then you can at least see a learning curve, but are Lingard, Mata, Young or Matic really going to get better at this stage? Instead, we’re watching supposedly experienced players play like children; Pogba continually give away possession in his own half, Lingard doing his invisible man routine, and Rashford failing to get in anything like a decent striking position. It’s infuriating. After the international break we play Leicester, West Ham and Arsenal in the league – all teams above us in the table – and these are now must win games, which is ridiculous at this really early stage.
A conclusion for every club after the first four games (in order of league standing):
1) Liverpool: I’m not surprised they’ve won all games. They’re more than capable of that. I’m surprised by how well they’ve won them. The Liverpool of last year that were grinding out wins seems to have stepped up a level. Look dangerous. The front three in particular look much sharper than at the start of last season and the midfield plays with purpose and tempo, whereas it could often be sluggish at the start of last season.
2) Man City: Look as devastating as ever. I think they’ll steamroller pretty much every game, especially when the fixtures begin to mount up. The Spurs game seems like a freak result, but does it suggest a slight weakness when playing the bigger teams? Probably not, time will tell. What we do know is that the older hands don’t look like slowing down and the squad depth is just ridiculous.
3) Leicester: Brendan Rodgers will be calling them invincibles. Hard to tell what their unbeaten start means. I guess their next two fixtures (Utd away and Spurs home) should help clarify things. Then again, neither of those teams are good bell weathers at the minute. One thing worth noting is the gap already sitting between the top two and third. Had City taken the full three points against Spurs like they should then there would already be a four point gap. As it stands, the gap is just two but it feels larger.
4) Palace: How are they in fourth after that start? Their opening fixtures have been kind, but they’ve even navigated their way through them in an unpredictable fashion. I think, with all due respect, the third and fourth placed teams probably represents the state of flux the top six (outside of the top two) finds themselves in.
5) Arsenal: Talk about flux and Arsenal aren’t far behind. The addition of their new flux capacitor into the front three was supposed to catapult them back into the future. The game against Spurs was a chance to make a statement but with a midfield that can be bypassed too easily and a defence as porous as theirs is, they were always going to be taking one step forward, one step back.
6) Everton: How can you draw a conclusion on such an unpredictable side? They’re going to be fun to watch as a neutral this year (perhaps even as a Liverpool fan like myself) but I suspect they’ll be infuriating as a supporter.
7) West Ham: A rarity in the opening four games in that they are a team who have shown steady improvement. A bad result against City could’ve been difficult to recover from but they do seem to be on a positive trajectory. They did the seemingly impossible and stopped Teemu Pukki, no doubt frustrating fantasy teams across the land.
8) Man Utd: I’m beginning to think they’re unmanageable. If big personalities like Van Gaal and Mourinho can’t tame them then it’s possible they’re a beast that can’t be tamed. In world football, I would maybe only be confident that Pep or Klopp would have the personality or clout to direct them forward. So many issues to juggle and just so much pressure.
9) Spurs: Are they capable of staring a season without a wobble? I’m not sure at this point if Poch has an unenviable job, directing a club that fights against direction. Or, is this a weakness of his? Does he struggle to play down the drama and instead let it fester? Sometimes his lines in public do seem a bit over the top in terms of drama. Is this a consequence? I suspect once they get the squad settled they’ll improve – they always do – but they’ve already blown a chance to step it up a level and push the top two.
10) Sheffield Utd: I’ll admit, I don’t know much about them. I suspect their fans will be pleased with the start, especially after the elation of the late equaliser this weekend. Southampton next will be a good litmus test then the games get significantly more difficult.
11) Chelsea: It’s hard to know what happens from here. It feels like their season could go either way. Is it ever any different with Chelsea? Other than showing how early we are in the season, the fact they sit in 11th shows just how competitive the league has been so far this year already. The top six stretches from 1st to 11th. Chelsea haven’t actually played that bad but they’ll need to get a handle on the results soon or they’ll be chasing shadows in an increasingly congested top six. Teams like Leicester, Everton and West Ham are not going to hang around for an invite.
12) Burnley: They’ve had a tough opening four games. Southampton, Arsenal, Wolves and Liverpool. They’ve fared about as well as you’d expect with four points, but I can’t help but think that a season or two ago they might have nicked another smash and grab point or two in there.
13) Southampton: Another tough opening four fixtures. Win their next two eminently winnable games and they’ll go in to a Spurs game full of confidence. Lose them and they’re facing four points out of a possible 21. Their season will be defined on how well they cope with the teams they’re expected to beat. An obvious thing to say but they don’t seem to have that explosive unpredictability a team like Wolves or Watford (used) have to turn over bigger teams.
14) Newcastle: As predictable as expected in terms of points, if the results themselves haven’t been all that predictable. I just can’t see them anywhere other than a relegation fight. Steve Bruce is plucky relegation battle fodder through and through.
15) Bournemouth: Traditionally a curse for last man standing choices everywhere. You never know what you’re going to get. Although this year’s results have been a bit more predictable and not necessarily in a good way.
16) Brighton: Probably the opposite of West Ham in that they started well but have struggled since. The game between both being the moment their fortunes changed direction. Some tough games though and have more of less got the results you’d expect.
17) Wolves: Leicester, Man Utd, Burnley and Everton represent a tough opening four games but I would’ve expected better results from them. Burnley had similar problems at the start of last year, with similar expectation and a similarly busy schedule. It can’t be coincidence. Well, it can but I don’t think it is. These teams don’t have the squad depth to cope this early on.
18) Aston Villa: A bit of a roller coaster start. The win against Everton a high but the defeat to Crystal Palace probably a clearer sign of things to come.
19: Norwich: After the start they’ve had, it seems cruel that they’re down in the bottom half, never mind the bottom two. They’ve mostly played well but not got the results. At this stage, I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign.
20) Watford: Oh, dear. It’s not going as planned. They’re a good side struggling with a hangover. They’ll need to make sure it doesn’t turn into a habit in what is looking like a very competitive year in the Premier League.
Ps. No doubt I’ll probably offend someone who reads this but that’s not the intention. If anyone even bothers to read it, that is.
Picking the top six
Trying to analyze/pick the top 6:4 points – If a player is good enough to be in most title-winning teams from recent seasons.
3 points – good enough for top 4/champions league player.
2 points – good enough for top 7/Europa league player.
1 point – mid-table player.
Squads based on current best (subjective, I know) starting XI.
Man City – Ederson 4, Walker 4, Laporte 4, Otamendi 4, Zinchenko 2, De Bruyne 4, Silva 4, Fernandinho 4, Silva 4, Aguero 4, Sterling 4.
Liverpool – Allison 4, Alexander-Arnold 3 (could improve defensively), Matip 3, Robertson 4, Henderson 3, Wijnaldum 3, Fabinho, Mane, Firmino and Salah all 4s.
Chelsea – Kepa 3, Azpilicueta 3, Zouma 2, Christiansen 3, Emerson 2, Kante 4, Jorginho 3, Barkley 2, Pulišić 3, Abraham 3, Mount 2.
Tottenham – Lloris 3, Sanchez 2 (has been poor in the last 12-18 months), Vertonghen 4, Aldereiweld 3, Rose 4, Winks 2, Sissoko 2, Eriksen 3, Son 4, Lamela 2, Kane 4.
Arsenal – Leno 3, Maitland-Niles 1 (in defence, anyway), David Luiz 2, Sokratis 2, Kolašinac 2, Torreira 3, Xhaka 2, Ceballos 2, Lacazette 3, Pepe 3, Aubameyang 4.
Man Utd – De Gea 3, Wan-Bissaka 3, Maguire 3, Lindelof 2, Shaw 2, Pogba 4 (obviously skillful, needs the system/manager), McTominay 2, Lingard 1, Martial 3, Rashford 2, James 2.
Average player score:
1st) Man City – 3.8
2nd) Liverpool – 3.3
3rd) Tottenham – 3
4th) Chelsea – 2.7
5th/6th) Man Utd/Arsenal – 2.5
Seems to check out – City are favourites to go 3 in a row. Liverpool and Spurs have been consistent CL teams for a few years, whereas Chelsea, Utd and Arsenal have floated between the 2 leagues. Obviously major injuries could completely change their scores, but on the flipside injured players coming back could see their score rise (think Tierney and Bellerin going into the current Arsenal side, or a Liverpool forward being injured and replaced by Origi 2 or Shaqiri 2).
Basically I was bored and wanted to se how this idea checked out, I probably should’ve waited a few days for international break to really kick in to send this email, the boring ones always get published when there’s no club football. Maybe I’ll resend in a few days if it’s unpublished.
I tried to be impartial as possible, I do support at top 6 side but didn’t want to make it obvious who.
Andy from Newcastle
I’m not delighted with Spurs’ league form going back to the start of the year, and I’m not particularly convinced that we are heading in the right direction or have used our run to the CL final as a platform for progress the way we could have done.
But I’ve yet to read a single piece of positive coverage of a point away to Arsenal– a team that aside from historical or rivalry status are much improved and will be a rival for top four.
Isn’t that a bit….much? Yeah dumb goals conceded, yeah Sanchez right back- but we created decent chances, worked their keeper, had a few penalty shouts and it’s not like we started with huge expectations of a result tbh.
Everyone (including fans and frankly those internal to the club) seem to be starting to fall a bit in love with our own sad death and for what? Because we’re not going to compete for the league? Here’s a tip- we’re not going to compete for the league while City exist in current form. Let’s not turn into one of those clubs, there’s plenty to enjoy about football without painting everything below #1 as a disaster, and up until last season we’d been doing very well with that attitude in place.
Roll on the end of this European transfer window, when we can start planning for the (very decent) squad we have because as things stand everyone from Poch down is feeding this relentless poor mouth n*rrative and its getting somewhat in the way of yknow football.
Darragh, Spurs, Ireland
It seems my email suggesting Ed has Allegri’s number on speed dial provoked a fair bit of feedback…
My point was how long does Ed give OGS to show he can improve the squad? Granted Ed has an enormous amount of blame on his shoulders, I’m not denying that and in fact I was looking forward to seeing a DoF come in this summer to sort stuff out. Wish we’d sold Pogba and Matic this summer and bought younger, combative midfielders in and maybe an older head with a b*stard side.
I’m not impatient, I would just prefer not to see my club languishing below mid table come Christmas time. At the moment that seems a distinct possibility and you’re an ostrich if you think it isn’t.
Also, Harry B, I sighed and groaned when David Moyes was appointed!
Ben, Up T’North
I am willing to be patient
Arsenal obviously still have some liabilities in their team. Arsenal are not a side with bottomless pits of money to spend on restructuring the entire playing squad. Yes they have money but they have had to balance it as best as possible. This hasn’t helped by the previous regime allowing somewhere in the region of £200m to slip away from the club by letting players contracts run down or selling for severely below market value. I thin k it is clear that Emery doesn’t have anywhere near as much say in player recruitment as his predecessor. People need to remember Arsenal are on a huge almost total playing staff overhaul and are only just over 1 season in to it.
From the 18 players that made the matchday squad for the 2017 Fa Cup final only Ozil, Xhaka, Bellerin and Holding are still at the club. The turnover of players is exactly what has been required. Unfortunately without being blessed with limitless money there will be two stumbling blocks along the way. 1. you will still have some hangers on (Xhaka, Mustafi) who are difficult to get rid of and 2. not every signing you make will be a hit. The cycle of transition (I hate that term) is going to take a while and it will probably outlast Emery.
Arsenal have been drastically reducing both the age of the squad and the wages of the squad. jenkinson, Cech, elneny, Mkhitaryan, ospina, koscielny, monreal, lichsteiner, iwobi, welbeck and sadly ramsey have all left the first team this summer, that is 11 players. I can’t think of many prem clubs with that level of turnover of experiences and international players. The turnover has also involved getting some cheaper stop gap players on shorter term deals but off the field Arsenal are finally heading in the right direction after 8 years of nauseating backwards steps year after year without anyone doing anything about it.
Klopp has reached this point with his Liverpool side and has done so with some very shrewd and cheap signings, promotion of youth and a big windfall from an overpriced player. Arsenal don’t have the later option, but have made good strides in bringing younger players through and look to have been making some smart good value for money signings.
Arsenal often call for their fans to be patient, most lost patience with the previous regime, but as it is obvious that things have changed and their is sight of new ambition in the club I am willing to be patient at this moment.
A moan about tackles and fouls
Watching the NLD and there was little to no complaint about the penalty award to Spurs for Xhaka’s foul on Son.
Son had passed the ball and Xhaka slid in late on him – foul and penalty; no question about it.
However if Son had shot instead of passing, would the penalty have been given?
We’ve seen it often that a late challenge after a shot is rarely, if ever, punished. Why is this?
It’s a pet peeve of mine. If someone slides in late after a pass anywhere on the field it’s a foul and free kick (and often a booking), but do it in the box after a shot and nothing happens.
England players’ awful dives
To add to dave’s earlier point about Kane being shown up for his diving with the introduction of VAR I did wonder why English players seem to be so awful at it! Setting aside my own views about diving and whether or not it is, in true PFM style, a scourge on the modern game and brought over by them bloody foreigners why do English players seem to be so awful at it!?
Stevie Me was woeful and went down in stages. Same with Rooney. Young continues to do that odd reverse pike thing upon the slightest contact in the box. Both Alli and Kane treated us to some hilarious dives in the NLD. Sterling’s* pretty Dier at them too (see what I did there?). I cannot think of an England International / top top player who can actually dive well…
*On the point of Sterling he does get fouled a great deal but still is prone to simulation. But I do feel what doesn’t get covered enough is how little he is injured considering he’s often kicked from pillar to post each match. When he was our player there was a stat bandied about how he was pound for pound the strongest player in the top flight. I don’t know how they came up with that (was it like the flying postman when they had that sprint challenge and the SWFC player won IIRC) but I can believe it.
Watching, belatedly, and thoroughly enjoying All Or Nothing Manchester City. Especially as it makes Being: Liverpool look all the more ridiculous. Remember Mr Veneers and his awful dressing down of Sterling. I’d pay good money to know who the 3 names in his envelope who were going to let him down! I’m guessing, Sterling, Raheem and Shaquille were the three name because he viewed young Raheem as a triple threat?
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
To those people moaning about Kane diving.
I hate diving. Despise it. Hate all the cheating the game is riddled with.
But don’t single out one player as being any worse than any other.
That is so blinkered it’s untrue.
Practically every player dives ‘given the opportunity’, and not just in the box.
Every club has players who engineer the opportunity to ‘earn’ a pen.
Stop pretending like there are specific players who should be singled out.
Kane is just this week’s target.
Yes he dived. Get over it. They all do it. Stop pretending otherwise.
I hate it, but the FA/PL wont eradicate it, so you have to live with it. Tough.
Seamus (Poch is starting to look bored)
Whilst I agree that Harry Kane should not have won a penalty for the incident toward the end of the North London derby I would have to take issue with Brad’s description of, Kane’s actions as, ‘slow down from a sprint sharply so the defender has no choice but to run into you’.
From what I saw Kane was not exactly at full pelt, is not controlling the ball, and Sokratis is actually coming in from the side (as he should, as you cannot take man before ball as we all know) and then Kane, without possession of the ball, deliberately moves his body into Sokratis’ path. The physical contact is enough to make both men hit the turf, nothing untoward there, but actually what has happened is Kane has committed obstruction as he didn’t have the ball. And from what I saw is this not what the referee gave? As i’m sure play restarted with a free kick to Arsenal but no booking for Kane.
Has Kane hoped to ‘earn’ a pen by being ‘cute’? Quite possibly, but it was certainly no swan dive. And the situation finished with the referee making a good, correct decision under pressure, which going by that match and the weekend in general had seemed in short supply.
Watching live at the instant of the coming together I thought ‘pen’, as my mind went back to Sokratis stumbling into the back of Mo Salah at Anfield last festive period (the one where he tried to kick off as they went off at half time until VVD asked Sokratis if he fancied stepping up a few weight divisions instead. What a man) and on that occasion Salah was running in the area controlling the ball and he slowed down, because he was getting near the goal and isn’t Darren Huckerby. The point being that if you have control of the ball you’re entitled to run at any pace you like and change it whenever you like. If you see another defender directly in your path you don’t just keep sprinting head long into him (again, unless you’re Darren Huckerby), you’re fully entitled to come to a full stop. It’s then the responsibility of the pursuing opponent to react and adjust their position in order to be in one that allows them to make a fair challenge.
In many situations defenders do have the choice to not run into their of their opponent, as the onus is always on them to be in the correct position to play the ball legally (which yesterday Sokratis was) and not the man. There’s nothing in the laws about being allowed to get away with a foul because you were running dead quick.
Dear Brad, Alay et al,
Was it a penalty? No.
Did Kane dive? No.
Sokratis clearly goes into the back of him, as Brad rightly pointed out, since Kane is looking for contact. Contact made, Kane accepts the invitation. It’s not diving, it’s smart play. Look at it this way, if Atkinson gives it, there’s no way VAR overturns it as a clear and obvious error.
If the world and his wife know that strikers will look to go over with minimal contact *cough* Aubameyang at Wembley last year *cough*, why do defenders giver them the opportunity? Kane wasn’t going anywhere and SOkratis gave the ref a decision to make (which he did correctly.)
That said, it was the usual breathless entertainment. Xhaka could/should have been sent off twice – once for the foul on Son and another for repeated offences punished when commited by spurs players. Spurs ceded the midfield to Arsenal in the second half and Guendouzi was excellent. The introduction of Lo Celso helped stem the tide. And God love Sissoko for his energy and desire, but he makes Imperial Stormtroopers look accurate!
Chris (God it’s hot here) Valencia
Ok, I’ll say it then. Kane may have been looking for it but it’s still a foul. If you stop anywhere else on the pitch with the ball at your feet and someone bumps in to you from behind, it’s a foul. The fact that it’s in the box or ‘soft’ should make no difference. If the defender isn’t clumsy and actually looks where he’s running, there won’t be any contact will there.
That’s two penalties we’ve been denied in our last two games. Xhaka could and probably should have been sent off too. A draw was the fair outcome against Arsenal, who played well to be fair, and we were really poor v Newcastle although we clearly did not deserve to lose that game. Had that penalty been given (which was clear – I’ve never liked Mike Dean) there’s a good chance we’d have gone on to win that with 10 mins to go.
Call it bias if you like but I genuinely feel we’ve been a bit hard done by in terms of decisions so far this year.
However, considering how poorly we’ve played, that’s two of our toughest away days out of the way already. Could be a lot worse. COYS.
Dave, Berkshire Spurs
Why wasn’t he sent off? Well…
There’s a good reason Captain Brainfart wasn’t sent off.
It’s because reducing a team to 10 men is meant penalise the offending team NOT benefit them.
You actually want Xhaka to avoid a suspension?! Call yourself a Spurs fan?!
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Is VAR able to be used to pick up foul throws in the lead up to a goal? If no why not and if yes why was the second goal for wolves allowed to stand?
Jarrod from Hobart, Tasmania
Don’t focus on VAR
It’s beginning to look like the worst thing about VAR is that it takes the focus off referees. In both the Zimmermann and Grealish incidents Jermaine Jenas complained about VAR instead of asking what on earth the referees were doing. There seems to be a new unspoken rule that you don’t criticise referees no matter how inept they’ve been. Haller was fouled in the box and should have gotten a penalty, the referee had an unobstructed view from a couple of yards away and yet he didn’t give it.
I can understand referees making mistakes in marginal decisions but these were three plain as day errors that cost all three teams. We need to drop the “clear and obvious” and have VAR call any mistake the referees make and we need to take retrospective action against players even if the referee has seen the incident. I always found it hilarious that managers face a charge of bringing the game into disrepute if they complain about the ref after the game and nobody dares to say that the referees do too.
Business and wages
I don’t even know whether to start with JN’s article. But I’ll start with this:
“Why is it so hard to run a football club in a fiscally responsible manner? It shouldn’t be that difficult. Tens of thousands of small businesses manage to do it every year.”
According to a Telegraph article by Rob May written in January 2019, 60% of UK small businesses fail within the first three years. Another one by Fundera claimed that 70% fail within ten years. The answer to JN’s question is simple: reality.
The question shouldn’t be why football clubs fail – but why they survive so long to begin with? Some of them survive for more than a century. Even with a loyal built in local patronage, that is impressive.
He wonders why players are paid so much, when the answer is obvious. There are a limited number of players that can play for a club, all the clubs are competing for them and all struggle to for limited number of spots on the league. That is the market price, you dont pay anywhere close to it good luck getting anyone decent to play for you.
You will then get kicked out of the division and then maybe spiral down to disaster anyways, as your income drops down further. Bury FC demise was generally sad for football but I guerentee you there are National League clubs salivating for that extra spot and are secretly happy.
Also, using other industries as a gauge for what someone “should” be paid is not useful because they have different supply and demand scenarios. Remember that multiple clubs bidding for the same player will drive the price up. This happens in pretty much any job too where multiple firms are trying to get/lure someone they think is good.
On this topic, we already have data going back decades in English football that shows that higher salary spending correlates to higher finishing places (transfer spending effect by contrast is random). So in general if they DONT spend on salary, they will be left behind (on average and assuming other factors stays constant). Considering how JN once wrote an article about this topic, he is either forgetting or ignoring the part about wages.
It’s good to call out racists for their behavior, but I think Minty, LFC was wrong to lump all Italian fans together for this kind of thing. There are specific fanbases in Italy which have a track record of this kind of thing, Cagliari is one of them.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
100% correct, Nail on the head mate!
I would go 1 stage further and suggest that as this is now a largely recurring theme in Italy and has been for such a length of time that its about time UEFA kicked them out of their cups for a season!
Clearly they arent going to as UEFA seem to have no power to act over this disgusting behaviour. apart from ‘tiny’ fines that dont bother the ‘fans’ doing it at all
Kick them out of Europe for a season!
Would we (British teams) able able to refuse to play an Italian team ?? I know that we then might face the punishment and owners are not big on that due to lost revenue but we are trying to do the right thing over here it seems.. (social media still has a way to go sadly.. another email..)
Lets make it an actual punishment / deterrent..
The only way to stop twats being twats is to remove them from the situation..so they might ‘learn’
Can we start a campaign?