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Principles over Paulo
Probably the best update I’ve heard this summer is that United have decided not to pursue Dybala. I know all the wonderful things Dybala could have brought to United. His goals against Barcelona – using Pique as a practice dummy each time – are still vivid in my mind. But he clearly doesn’t want to leave Juventus, and he definitely does not aspire to play for Man United. So to go down that road of agreeing to excessive salaries, and custom clauses in the contract feels like groundhog day from the Di Maria transfer. If he doesn’t want to come, he shouldn’t be forced to, or enticed by a fat cheque. United finally have a stated strategy of working with youth. I’m glad we’re basing decisions around principles. If he changes his mind I’m sure he’d be a great addition to the team. But the onus should be as much on Dybala to see this as the right move for him professionally, and not a compromise that needs to be compensated by money.
Ved (Marcus, Mason, Martial and Mario!) Sen
Money no object over Maguire
I’m sure many non United supporters may be sniggering or sneering at United for spending 80m on a defender. Here’s an opposing point of view.
Van Djik for 75 m was being deemed absurd only a year ago. A year later he’s considered a bargain. The fact of the matter is, transfer fees don’t matter at all. At least from the supporters point of view. Leave the tedious job of balancing te books to those who actually get paid for it. If he performs well, it will be money well spend. End of story. This is a valuable lesson that City has taught the rest of the League. Does not matter if you have to pay a premium to get your target. Better to do that than shopping in the bargain bins each year only to end up wasting the money. We have an expression in Urdu which roughly translates to “Expensive buyer cries one. Cheap buyer cries repeatedly.”
And let’s not forget, this is United we are talking about. They earn more than anyone in the league and if any club can afford to splash the cash, it is United. They shop at Harrods and pay Harrods prices.
The other reason is the sponsosrs / brand. Manchester United is a global brand. Yet, there is no global superstar in the squad except Pogba and De Gea. And De Gea is a goalkeeper and they don’t excite fans as much as other players. This combined with the poor record over the last few years, Woodward knows that’s not a tenable situation with sponsors. Real Madrid has just signed a record shirt deal with Adidas, eclipsing the the one United currently has. Woodward will not be too plased. This needs to be addressed and having shiny toys to show off to sponsors is one part of fixing the problem. Woodward understands this better than anyone. Not only is Maguire an excellent player, he is English. After Harry Kane, Maguire is the most recognized English player. For Ed, that is the jackpot. Well, Kane would be the jackpot but Maguire is the next best thing. I’m sure Ed’s been having wet dreams for Maguire for a while now.
Which is why I think the deal makes great sense and since it’s not going out of my pockets, I don;t give a shit about the price. Of course Maguire could end up being a flop like Sanchez but that is the risk with any signing.
Thank Neymar for Che Adams
Has anyone noticed how many Championship players have joined Premier League clubs? It’s 28 and counting. Oil McBurnie (£20m) being the latest edition. I was trying to work out why and because I’m old (and grumpy) I thought back to those halcyon days of yore (the late 90s) when Sky Sports were the saviours of football, Soccer AM was the greatest show on tv and Richard Keys hand hair were slight strands of black….
As money came into the game The Championship were effectively pricing themselves out of the market as Premier League sides looked abroad for cheap imports. I think after the Neymar madness and foreign clubs realising English teams are rolling in cash, if they don’t spend 30m on some random foreigner then the fans get all twitchy and start complaining about a lack of desire. The knock on effect to this is that Premier League teams now see value in the lower divisions. This can only be a good thing as the money then cascades downwards. I think it’s far better for the clubs rather than going cap in hand asking for a handout every time the next round of broadcast deals are negotiated. Hopefully this will help lower league clubs pay off debts, buy other players, invest in the stadium and training ground and this way the whole game does actually benefit.
I kind of forgot about the lower leagues for the last 15 years I am ashamed to say, as the premier league seemed to gobble up everyone’s time, newspaper talk and click bait but now I am more aware and do read about what’s happening ‘down there’.
The Championship must be one of the most competitive leagues in the world. There are some decent teams desperately trying to get out of League One never mind the Championship.
Hopefully this trend continues and the lower leagues can get a decent slice of the Premier League money now their players are in plain sight.
Ian (placed his bets for promotion and relegation in the lower leagues) LFC
Football and terrorism
I am a Manchester United supporter who moved to the USA in 1986. I’ve had a couple of frivolous e mails printed in the mailbox in the past and ,indeed, I’ve just composed a new one about the coming season that I was going to send today. However, I don’t feel like amusement at the moment. I’ve spent the last 2 hours simultaneously checking the BBC website updating a game between the two teams that I least want to win anything and TV updates on the white terrorist crimes in El Paso and Dayton. Whilst it was reported that a mother was gunned down in a Walmart shielding her 2 year old son for the crime of being of Mexican descent a son of a murdered immigrant was scoring a goal for City who are managed by a supporter of the Basque movement. Later the team run by a German national equalized through a son of German and Cameroonian parents. A Muslim arab apparently kept going close to getting a winner for Liverpool whilst the TV commentator was trying to find out how the Ohio shooter could get hold of a military combat vest.
I’m not sure what, if any, point I’m trying to make. Maybe it’s contrary to popular view football doesn’t actually represent society or, if it does, then it’s the best of it…inclusive, colour blind, non-religious biased.
Maybe in a day or 2 I’ll send the frivolous e-mail.
Gary (ex Pat in Pennsylvania – whose best friend is a City fanatic) B
Reasons for optimism
I can’t help but feel that the way Liverpool performed today told us a few really positive things. Last season Liverpool had a variety of games in which 45 to 85 minutes of the performances were turgid, to pick a nice word to describe the poop fest of some of our games. But we consistently found a way to win in most of those games. It was so remarkably un-Liverpool, we were a club who had to show up and play our best to win for years and suddenly we were constantly looking a bit shite and winning for fun. We even did it against Spurs in the Champions League final. So I was impressed that against the best team in the league we were pretty poor all over and didn’t concede from open play. I think we only conceded four big chances in all which is remarkable when you consider the creativity in that City team and how sketchy we were in the first half.
When Keita or AOC plays, nobody will worry about our midfield creativity. If both of them play, we will score about 6 goals in a game at some stage. I also loved that Salah looked really sharp and also seems to have added a bit of variety in how he shoots in the box. Last season he was always trying to cut onto his left to float it at the far corner and keepers could read it too easily which hurt his output. Today he took a lot of snap shots and also went for the near post. I suspect he could have a really productive season and be amongst the top scorers in the league again. Firmino was outstanding today and I was a little disappointed that Brewster wasn’t on the bench to replace him.
I wondered, after Kompany left, who the leader would be for City. Today it felt a bit like they didn’t have one in the second half. Sterling is an excellent player and got himself into a couple of great spots to try and help but when we were in the ascendency in the second half they didn’t have someone savvy to waste some time, get everyone focussed and try to turn the momentum. It actually felt like we probably edged the game overall by the 90th minute and I wonder if the going gets tough this season who will be the guy in the dressing room or on the pitch that leads them and helps them keep the momentum going.
Also, fake trophy, doesn’t count, etc etc.
Sense of Community
Good afternoon! Just watching this match, it’s an absolute cracker. Both sets of players clearly want that shield, and to land the first blow for the season ahead.
I’ve always loved this match, as it’s always a delight to get back to watching football after the summer. I also love that it seems to becoming more and more competitive in recent years, with more clubs fighting for the same old trophies, and any piece of silverware becoming something to write home about (just ask Senors Mourinho y Guardiola). In Spain, it’s always a feisty affair, with the trophy being treated as an actual trophy, and it would be great if we kept moving towards that mindset in England to spice the season up a bit.
Back to the penalties!
Booing Sterling worked
The reason Raheem Sterling gets booed by LFC fans isn’t that he left us, got more money and trophies at City, or because of his tattoos. It’s because booing him has made him play less well against us in the past. I remember him the first few games back at Anfield being booed (it may have been for another reason at the time) and seeing his first touch faltering, passes go astray and his number up to be substituted early. I expect other fans will have watched and learned. If you can put off an opponent by booing- which is frankly a lot more harmless than other abuse- you would probably try.
Doesn’t seem to work any more, however.
Fair play to him celebrating, in the circumstances.
Paul in Brussels (hoping Wilson isn’t loaned out this season)
I don’t what kind of play-of-the-year post-season or year-end awards it will be eligible for, but give them all to Kyle Walker for that Matrix-y clearance off the line.
D Oliver, AFC, California
Plain and simple
How good does City’s strip look? I know it’s a one off but I wish that all clubs would sack off the shirt sponsors.
James Outram, Wirral
VAR is going to f*ck football up. Football is a spectacle, and that adjective is derived from “spectator”, and the powers that be seem to have forgotten that the entire raison d’etre of professional football is for people to watch it and be entertained. When the rules of the game were devised, there was an inherent, obvious spirit to them. Offside shouldn’t be about millimetres. As much as I enjoyed watching City’s “winning” goal being ruled out in the CL QF against Spurs, it didn’t sit well with me. No-one on that pitch suspected it was offside. Pre-VAR there would have been a shrug of the shoulders and an acceptance that football is a game played and officiated by human beings, and that these marginal decisions happen. It wasn’t designed to be that exact.
This is a moan without any real purpose, because the Pandora’s box that is VAR is well and truly open, and there’s no going back. Now that we have the technology that can rule out a goal based on millimetres, we’re going to use it, aren’t we? And of course then the argument gets arbitrary. Liverpool famously were denied a vital goal by 11mm last season, but no-one could reasonably complain about that decision, so it isn’t unreasonable to make the same point about an offside decision, is it?
Don’t even get me started about handball…
VAR is going to change the game completely, and it will lose something vital, and the big losers are the ticket buying spectators who have that moment, the one of unbridled ecstasy when a late, vital goal is initially given, ripped away from them, often whilst they stand there not knowing what the f*ck is going on.
I know, I know, a right decision is a right decision and all that…but as we gain one thing, we lose another and I am not sure this is progress.
Mat (Liverpool are bound to take a step backwards this season and this depresses me immensely)
Over in August
Nice to see the SPL’s gone right down to the first game of the season then.
Martin “the coat fetcher” Ansell
What to expect from Everton
Hi everyone. Community shield is out the way, transfers are starting to get wrapped up and there’s a week to go till we come out of Egypt and into the the football promised land. I’m interested to hear predictions about your clubs for the upcoming season. I get stuck in the media-heavy top six and personal interest Everton bubbles, so especially interested to hear expectations and fears from those outside the big six (hell, especially those in the Conference or the Albanian league if that’s your jam). Here’s my Everton effort.
Two word summary: Cautiously optimistic.
Where they’ll finish: Seventh. Marcel Brands – for all his surprisingly physically intimidating Bond villain appearance – knows how to get a signing over the line (maybe the villain thing helps with that) and this team is really starting to shape up. But, despite the apparent respective disarray at Arsenal and Man Utd and weird veneer of stability at Everton, this is still a young team with clear deficiencies that could be great in a couple of seasons, not this one. With Wolves in Europe, it should still be enough to regain the ‘best of the rest’ trophy (though Leicester and West Ham look dangerous).
Cup Run: Not very far in either, as is customary.
Player of the Year: Lucas Digne. Classy and consistent last season, will be again.
Top Goalscorer: Richarlison. He’s the real deal and Kean might take a season to find his feet.
Best New Signing (including players you think will sign): Kean looks good, but see above, so I’ll play safe and say Andre Gomes. There’s a reason they worked so hard to bring him back.
Breakout Season: Lewis Gibson. Everton seem to still think they can land Zouma, which won’t happen, so pretty short at centre-half. Meaning Gibson may get chances, and pre-season suggests he deserves them.
How Long the Manager will Last: All season. The eggs are in the Silva basket for a few seasons methinks.
Best Goal: Sigurdsson has this on lock-down.
Ok. I’ll leave it there. Let me know yours – add anything you think is interesting.
Owen Davidson, EFC
I’ve just enjoyed watching the charity shield game between what you could argue are the best two coaches and teams in the world at the moment even though Mohamed Salah still seems to miss the pass then miss the opportunity. I couldn´t argue therefore when reading, on another websit, fans predictions that these two will finish first and second . What did really surprise me however was the high quantity of fans predicting Chelsea to finish fourth.
I´ve been meaning to write in about this since Lampard was confirmed. I agree that the Chelsea squad is more or less on a par with 6 others that can all be contenders for fourth, it’s just that all those squads have better coaches . Javi Gracia , Nuno Espirito Santo, Unai (dracula) Emery, Marco Silva Brendan Rogers and dare I say it Ole are all better coaches than Lampard who I think will repeatedly get caught out, often losing to the sucker punch by more astute and cunning tacticians and all with more premier league experience. It´s not as if this Chelsea team have even one of the leaders that managed themselves when the awful Avram Grant was there . Looks like a sad car crash to me.
Mind you, it´s all predictions so my early season surprise team are going to be Watford and that will catapult the savvy Javi Gracia into a good position to take over when Lampard gets the boot.
One last one on predictions, seeing as Andy Robertson and Harry Maguire have made it to the top of the game from a sunken Hull, which of this season´s relegation fodder will provide the next defenders to reach the top? Perhaps from Norwich, Newcastle or Sheffield United?
Peter (liking West Ham´s new top – a throwback to Frank Lampard Senior`s days with a tip-top modern twist) Andalucia.
The final table
I am going to be ambitious here and try to predict the whole of the Premier League Table. Here goes:
1) Manchester City. There are no teams anywhere near the same level that Manchester City are currently at. The new signing of Rodri will strengthen them even further.
2) Liverpool. Despite their poor pre season and lack of signings, no teams are near Jurgen Klopp’s side currently, though I believe Spurs will close the gap between the two sides.
3) Tottenham. I think the signing of Tanguy Ndombele will help Spurs greatly, and if they make any more signings, I believe they can finish 2nd and win the FA Cup, but I think this is unlikely.
4) Chelsea. Few are tipping Chelsea for this position, but their squad is actually very strong, even without Eden Hazard. Little is expected of Lampard, but he did well at Derby, and seems to know what he is talking about. The untapped potential in their loan army will be key this season.
5) Arsenal. Emery, in my opinion, is actually a very good manager, and it will be thanks to him that Arsenal will be quite close to their rivals. Many fans will regard this as a disappointing position, but I believe a more consistent season will be a sign of progress, even if it means playing in the Europa League for three consecutive seasons.
6) Manchester United. United will certainly improve, but we are not yet close to the other teams. As a United fan, I am getting optimistic about the future, but I don’t think this Will be the season for them.
7) Leicester. Leicester will be the neutrals’ favourite, but the sale of Maguire will likely leave their defence quite fragile.
8) Everton. Everton will have a season of consolidation, but their season to thrive won’t be this one.
9) West Ham. I trust Pellegrini, and they have made good signings. However, last season they were too inconsistent.
10) Wolves. Wolves will actually be very close to 5th place, but improvements at Leicester, West Ham and Everton will mean they will not be able to reach the Europa League.
11) Southampton. Despite having a rather poor squad, even with their new signings, I believe they can finish midtable, all because of their manager, Ralph Hasenhuttl. After seeing what he could with such a soulless squad, it will be interesting to see how he will work with the new, better players he received in the transfer window.
12) Aston Villa. They have signed a lot of players, some of them very good. They also have a very good young English manager in Dean Smith.
13) Watford. They are not a very interesting side – I can’t see them challenging for high places, but with Deulofeu and Javi Gracia, they are too good for relegation.
14) Brighton. I like the signings Brighton have made this summer. They, along with the players bought in from last season, fit the new manager’s style. Graham Potter was the man who developed Daniel James, so I predict he will do the same at Brighton.
15) Bournemouth. Bournemouth will have a very inconsistent season, but this will be good enough to keep safely clear of the relegation zone. Their signings have been good, but not great, so I predict a very familiar season for them.
16) Norwich. I like Daniel Farke, the manager, who has really built a cohesive, convincing unit. They also have good players. As such, I think the Canaries will ruffle a few feathers this season.
17) Burnley. Burnley don’t exactly have a Premier league squad, but they have fierce determination, Dwight McNeil and Sean Dyche. This should be enough to avoid the drop.
18) Crystal Palace. I believe Palace will stay up if they keep Hodgson. However, if they sack him, the loss of him, Wan-Bissaka and possibly Zaha will hit them hard. Sadly for Palace fans, they have Steve Parish in charge, the man who sacked Frank de Boer after only four Premier League games. I can see them appointing someone very uninspiring (Mark Hughes, maybe).
19) Newcastle. I had Newcastle down for ,but they have recently announced the signing of Allan Saint-Maxim, the sort of player they really need. Add to SaintMaxim Joelinton and Miguel Almiron, Newcastle are not actually that weak in attack. However, the loss of Benitez and an uninspiring midfield will still see them relegated.
20) Sheffield United. Sheffield United have a weak squad, even after breaking their transfer record four times in a single window. Chris Wilder is a manager I have a lot of respect for, but I fear they will do no more than fight hard.
Looking forward to the upcoming season greatly,