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Manchester United and Solskjaer: The uncomfortable truth - Football365.com
Nobody wants to hear it but Manchester United and OIe Gunnar Solskjaer are neither excellent nor terrible.
Everything to do with Manchester United is news. If theyre great, its big news; if theyre awful, it’s probably even bigger news. But if theyre sometimes great, sometimes poor and mostly somewhere between those two poles, thats confusing news and is no use to the modern world at all. Weve seen this situation ever since Ole Gunnar Solskjær took over and even now, with his first win over Liverpool. Look at how journalists in national newspapers continue to flip-flop on him, forever shifting position with each new result. One result and hes a hero, the next a zero. A great motivator and tactician one week, only to be out of his depth the next. It is as though there is an impossibility to accept that both these positions have an element of truth and that you dont have to be bloody brilliant to be top of the league, but nor do you have to be somehow scamming your way to the top either. With a media always hungry for the clicks and currency that Uniteds massive global fanbase can deliver, not being able to declare categorically that theyre either a wonderful team with a great manager, or in crisis with a third-rate manager, creates problems because everyone knows that extremes deliver the most attention and thus money. On the whole, United In Crisis is the best scenario for the press, TV and radio because everyone has got a view on how to put right what has gone wrong and thus the debate is engaged wide and loud. Mind you, United Top Of The League runs it close, as the millions of followers naturally want to bask in a return to their pre-eminence and being above Liverpool. Either position is fine. Everyone knows what to do with them. But while Sundays win over Liverpool and being top of the league is good for the United Are Back business, the feeling that it is an empire built on eggshells is ever-present and it would surprise nobody if they lost three, drew two and won one of the next six games. And then where are we? In this seasons game of United Snakes and Ladders we’re forever climbing up and sliding back down. Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over the managerial job at Manchester United, one of the most entertaining things about his tenure has been to watch and listen to the entire football media diaspora trying to work out if hes any good at the job, on a game-by-game basis. It hasnt seemed to occur to anyone yet that maybe hes neither and you can be successful being neither. Being brilliant not being a pre-requisite for winning a title might play against the idea that only the elites succeed in the game and thus makes us feel uncomfortable, but thats what seems to be the truth in his case. Ive heard well-respected analysts being amazed that such a clearly mediocre manager was given the job and is still in situ. Ive heard others tell me that hes got the whole squad on side by being an empathetic manager and that the modern footballer responds well to his style. Can both be right? Or are both wrong? One week hes making terrible substitutions or no substitutions, the next hes changing tactics mid-game to achieve a win. Hes turned a poorly functioning team of players into a winning machine or hes organising a team of expensive talent poorly. Sometimes hes on the verge of the sack, sometimes hes going to win the league. He has long winning or undefeated runs, and runs of losses. Sometimes they seem full of goals, other times not. Defensively they look suspect but, like on Saturday, they still manage to win. Occasionally theyre just outright poor. Perhaps the fact that they have won 21 points from losing positions this Premier League season, more than twice as many as any other team and did it once again on Sunday, illustrates the issue perfectly. Not good enough not to fall behind but good enough to recover if they do. It is a very nuanced position to be in and in that, very unmodern. Accepting that a manager, player or club is of fluctuating quality goes against the dominant binary culture, of course, where everyone is either under or over-rated, great or poor. That you might be successful being merely alright is almost revolutionary. I can guarantee you that if I wrote this as a Manchester United are lucky/not that good piece, or a United are superb it would attract far more attention than this one will which is, in a way, saying both those things and something else as well. And thats the problem. Theres been too much under and over-rating of this Manchester United manager and team. As a neutral who predicted that United would win the league, rightly to much laughter and mockery, what is enjoyable about this is seeing all sides making their excuses for why their most recent judgement of the Norwegian and his team has been superseded by a new perspective, following the latest result. No sooner has one position been struck than something happens to contradict it. You cant ask for more than that as an observer because nothing puts out the fires of romance like certainty. United so dominate the media that perhaps this is all inevitable. But it is interesting that Uniteds season is the first in a very long time when it isnt possible to make any hard and fast conclusions about anything. Whatever we say today could be contradicted tomorrow and then confirmed by the day after. United Sometimes Good and Solskjaer Doing Fine are not headlines that are likely to be written in the forever febrile UK press that increasingly deals only in extremes, but even so, it is probably nearer the truth…at least this week. John Nicholson
Cheltenham throw City off course before late blitz - Football News - - Football365.com
Football News - - Long throws are great. Cheltenham were great. But City survive to fight another day.
Predictably, Manchester City saw off Cheltenham to make it 10 wins in a row for Pep Guardiola’s men and 17 unbeaten in all since a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham in November. Just like absolutely everyone expected. A routine 3-1 win for City. Nice for Cheltenham to get their goal. Except it wasn’t like that at all, of course, with City 10 minutes away from one of the most astonishing FA Cup upsets before Phil Foden (by a wide margin the best City player on the pitch), Gabriel Jesus and, most cruelly of all in some ways, Ferran Torres right at the end of injury time secured City’s 3-1 win and a fifth-round clash with Swansea. Cheltenham really were so close to giving the town a less embarrassing association in the national consciousness than Tory-backing Covid superspreader events. Even in defeat, they can of course be immensely proud. Of the way City celebrated their goals, of the way Guardiola was visibly rattled as he stared down the barrel of a truly humiliating FA Cup giantkilling. But most simply and importantly of all, a performance to be proud of. Sounds glib, is glib, but this was stunning. Yes, it relied on a much-changed City side being slightly off the pace and slightly lacking in intensity – all such cupsets or near-cupsets do – but how Cheltenham took advantage of a below-par City display. There was plenty of resilient defending, of course, but no parking of buses. Alfie May, who would eventually get his big moment with the opening goal, was superb while Finn Aziz was a wonderfully lively menace until cramp forced him off on 80 minutes and, clearly, turned the game on its head. Above all, though, there was Ben Tozer. He’s been here before, part of a Northampton side that knocked Liverpool out of the League Cup more than a decade ago and a Newport team that took a strong Spurs team to an FA Cup fourth-round replay three years ago. Here he produced the ultimate Lower League Captain’s performance in this kind of cup tie. There was all the usual stuff. The defensive organisation, the blocks, the tackles, the leadership. Standard fare. There was the eye-catching moment of true defensive ridiculousness thanks to a physics-defyingly absurd clearance off the line after Benjamin Mendy’s shot appeared to be arrowing into the top corner. But above all, there were the long throws. Ah, the long throws. Absolutely glorious. No sooner did he get one than the commentators instantly invoked the hallowed names of Dave Challinor and Rory Delap. Every year there’s a cup tie where there’s fevered talk of a player with a long throw worthy of that exalted company. It’s almost always bunkum. A truly great long throw is one of the game’s greatest sights, a source of devilment and panic like almost nothing else. But truly great long throws – and truly great long throw-in takers – are also vanishingly rare. Most can just about reach the corner of the six-yard box with a following wind and, crucially, rely on launching the ball high and therefore gently and harmlessly into the sky to get there. Slowly they loop towards a crowded penalty box where all but the most incompetent of defences will just deal with it every single time. Not Tozer. Here was a true heir to Challinor and Delap. A proper rocket that disturbed City even more than the fireworks that halted play late in the first half (sorry). There’s something about the trajectory of a good long throw that seems to cause specific mayhem. The fact that it’s launched in flat rather than, by definition needing elevation from the more prosaic ground-based starting points of your corners or the free-kicks of this world. Done right, a long throw just needs any kind of contact off defender or attacker somewhere near the front post and absolute bedlam will ensue. After a couple of warning shots, City were punished just before the hour when a series of ricochets from the latest Tozer exocet ended with the ball at the feet of May, who had anticipated just such a sequence of events perfectly, to stab past Zack Steffen. For a good while, that lead held despite more and more of City’s big guns being summoned for duty. In the end, the class told. Fittingly enough, the two decisive goals – and once City got the first there was an air of grim inevitability about the second even when the chance fell to the profligate Gabriel Jesus – came from evidence that the feet can be just as lethal as the feet as first Joao Cancelo and then Fernandinho created close to unmissable chances with lethally precise delivery. City had survived a huge test and a monumental scare. For Cheltenham, they will always remember the time they so terrified the great Guardiola and his side that he resorted to arguing with officials over the precise location of an opposition throw with time ticking away. A great cup tie, and City in the end just about manage not to throw it all away. Dave Tickner
Arsenal tracking Saints defender in search of Tierney cover - Football365.com
Football News - Kieran Tierney has been great for Arsenal so far this season, but even he needs some backup.
Arsenal are reportedly tracking Southampton defender Ryan Bertrand to provide cover for Kieran Tierney at left back. The Gunners have limited options on the left side of defence after letting Sead Kolasinac join Schalke on loan. Tierney remains their first choice, but it’s thought that boss Mikel Arteta wants to sign a backup. FEATURE: Keeper stats highlight Lloris and Pope form, Patricio concern… According to Goal, Arsenal are hoping to sign Bertrand from Southampton this summer. The 31-year-old looks set to become a free agent in June after failing to agree new terms on the south coast. The report states that contract negotiations have reached an ‘impasse’. Bertrand wants an increase on his £70,000 a week wages, but Southampton don’t want to break the bank. Arsenal have now contacted the player’s representatives ahead of a potential switch to London. While they don’t see him as a permanent solution, Bertrand can provide Tierney with competition for a couple of years. The Englishman, capped 19 times by his country, has played in all but one of the Saints’ Premier League matches this term. He’s been a solid performer as they’ve reached an impressive 29 points in 18 games. Arteta recently revealed his desire to bring players in during the January transfer window. Speaking about their transfer tactics, he said: “Obviously this market and the context makes it difficult, but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do. “We are looking at various positions because the movement we have made in this window with some players leaving the club has left us a little bit short in certain areas. “So if we can, we will do it and if we cant, we will keep going with what we have.” Keeper Mat Ryan became their first signing of the month earlier today. He joined on loan from Brighton for the remainder of the season.
Chelsea cheerleaders move to absolve Frank Lampard of media blame - Football365.com
Chelsea have no leaders, no luck, no culture and no choice but to play Antonio Rudiger. What can 'conscientious' possibly Frank Lampard do?
What can ‘conscientious’ Lampard possibly do when offside Chelsea goals are ruled out for offside? The Bryce is rightLeicester went top of the Premier League table on Tuesday. Actual Leicester. You probably wouldn’t realise when reading any newspaper sport sections or scanning through football websites – very much including one not a million miles from here – but it remains true. That fact has not bypassed Graeme Bryce of The Sun, however, as he goes against the grain and actually leads on the Foxes rather than the Franks. ‘Fast forward five years and the cunning Foxes are being devilishly furtive again – in full view of everyone. But this time no-one is ignoring the team who sit proudly at the top of the Premier League,’ he writes in his fourth paragraph. ‘Somehow the 2016 champions have managed to glide in under the radar again, despite cuffing Manchester City, Spurs, Arsenal and Leeds in their own backyards and swatting Chelsea aside,’ reads his ninth. Great to see ‘no-one is ignoring the team’ that has ‘managed to glide in under the radar again’. Splits a family in two, puts people on streetsBryce continues: ‘Despite the hype when the Blues went top of the league in early December, Lampard’s men have crumbled under the pressure since then. ‘Don’t expect Leicester to suffer the same fate as they enter the second half of the season where they will relish the prospect of a rut with Liverpool and the Manchester giants.’ Leicester looked and indeed have been excellent this season. There is indeed literally no precedent for them being as high as second after the first half of a campaign before embarking on a poor run to finish fifth. If 2019/20 proved anything, it’s that Leicester absolutely do not ‘crumble under the pressure’, particularly not during ‘a rut with Liverpool and the Manchester giants’. The chosen fewSimon Phillips was on player ratings duty elsewhere in The Sun. Here is just a selection of his choices: On Mason Mount: ‘One of the few Chelsea players who actually played with any fight or desire.’ On Callum Hudson-Odoi: ‘One of the few players trying to make things happen and play with a bit of urgency.’ On Christian Pulisic: ‘One of the few who did put in the effort and try to make things happen.’ Then comes his assessment of Mount in a longer opinion piece: ‘Mason Mount was the only one out there looking like he actually cared whether they won or lost, the rest of them were limp and had no fight at all.’ ‘The only one’ or ‘one of the few’? ‘Players were happy to do the basics and that is about it. ‘Happy to run but not with any conviction, happy to play football but not win the match. Well Lampard himself stated the exact opposite: that “the basics are important like running and sprinting and we didn’t do that”. But also it really is a bit much to claim that professional footballers were ‘happy to play’ but not to try and beat their opponent. Phillips does at least question Lampard’s substitutions but what can a manager possibly do when ‘he does not have one real leader in the team’ he has spent millions assembling? It’s mad how serial trophy winners like Thiago Silva or three-time European champion Mateo Kovacic don’t even want to win matches anymore. Poor Frank is helpless for as long as the 11 full internationals he puts out each week just run a bit and are ‘happy’ to play but not even attempt to beat anyone. Conscientious objectorThat theme continues in the Daily Mail as Ian Ladyman pens his match report: ‘Chelsea, so promising for much of Lampard’s debut season last time round, suffered at the King Power from what appeared to be a mixture of draining confidence and tactical and positional uncertainty. ‘That is a pretty toxic combination and conscientious, likeable Lampard is in trouble now, right enough.’ He might well be conscientious. He could certainly be likeable. But a) that is almost entirely irrelevant when evaluating the actual merits of his coaching acumen, b) there are plenty of other ‘conscientious’ and ‘likeable’ people out there who might fancy a crack at managing a £400m squad, and c) Mediawatch cannot think of another manager who would be described in such terms while sitting below West Ham and only inhabiting a place in the top half of the table after half a season because they have played more games than Southampton and Aston Villa. Not sure Roman Abramovich will care all that much that Lampard puts in a lot of effort and still has journalists tripping over themselves to defend him despite incredible under-achievement. To be honest, the fact he is ‘conscientious’ makes it worse; this is him trying his hardest and still sitting just two points above an Arsenal side having one of their worst Premier League seasons ever. Lamp shadeLadyman lays it on even thicker, so to speak: ‘Chelsea carried no luck, it must be said. Two minutes before Leicester’s second goal, they were awarded a penalty only for it to be overturned by VAR. Then, with five minutes of time left at the end of the game, a late surge seemed possible when Timo Werner nudged in a free-kick. This time, the decision was offside.’ You have just described correct officiating decisions, not a lack of ‘luck’. Poor Frank again, having free-kicks awarded instead of penalties for fouls outside the box, and goals ruled out for offside when they are offside, as well as players who don’t want to even win in a squad without any leaders that he has spent more than £200m on. Why does it always rain on him? Luck hereThen there’s Tom Collomosse with his quotes story in the Daily Mail: ‘Luck was not on Chelsea’s side: they were awarded a penalty with the score at 1-0, only for the spot-kick to be overturned after VAR ruled Jonny Evans fouled Christian Pulisic outside the box. And in the closing moments, substitute Timo Werner’s close-range volley was ruled out for a marginal offside.’ The bloke really must have walked under a stepladder while smashing a mirror and crossing paths with a black cat. How incredibly out of his depth unfortunate he is. Law of attractionIn the frustrating absence of a Stan Collymore column on the man he considers to be ‘the brightest English coach to emerge for a generation’ (a reminder that in June he told Abramovich to give Lampard time as he ‘will build a team capable of winning the title in two or three years’), the biggest cheerleader for the Chelsea manager is probably Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph. This is the man who referred to Chelsea’s pre-season friendly against Bohemians in June 2019, Lampard’s first in the dugout for the Blues, as an “I was there” moment’ for supporters. But to January 2021 and what is surely a defeat too far to continue on this lonely bandwagon. Or not: ‘Lampard knows he will carry the ultimate responsibility for results and yet he cannot be solely blamed for the dreadful lapses in concentration for Leicesters first-half goals that left his team with a mountain to climb.’ Well at least we’ve found Jamie Redknapp’s pen name. No-one is saying he can be ‘solely blamed’ for anything at Chelsea but it cannot possibly be news to anyone that it is easier to sack one under-performing and remarkably inexperienced manager than it is to get rid of an entire squad of under-performing players. Law goes on to pinpoint Antonio Rudiger’s ‘bizarre season’ as one of the reasons for the ‘confusion’ in the Chelsea defence. ‘At the start of the campaign, Rudiger had dropped to fifth choice in Lampard’s central defensive pecking order with the 27-year-old unable to get on to the substitutes’ bench, let alone into the team. ‘And yet at the halfway stage of Chelsea’s Premier League season at the King Power Stadium, Rudiger was starting his second successive game ahead of Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen. ‘Rudiger is one of the more dominant figures in the Chelsea squad, so Lampard was left with a dilemma when the club did not sell him or find a suitable loan move during the summer transfer window.’ Add it to the list alongside correct officiating calls and managing non-leaders who do not want to win: Chelsea failed to offload Rudiger so Lampard was given no choice but to randomly reinstate the £34m centre-half he had previously frozen out without a hitch. What else could he possibly do other than play him in consecutive Premier League games? ‘Continuing to freeze out such a senior player would have been a gamble on Lampard’s part.’ The ‘gamble’ was surely freezing him out in the first place. Bringing him back into the first-team fold – something he has somehow resisted with Marcos Alonso – while continuing to overlook Fikayo Tomori, for example, was more naive foolishness than anything else. Crock of TwitThe fun continued on his social media with this tweet: What's become clear to me is that whoever is in charge of Chelsea – and I still believe it should be Frank Lampard – they have to build a culture, as well as a team. And building a culture is going to be much more difficult than assembling lots of talented players together. — Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) January 19, 2021 What is this vital ‘culture’? Who knows. What proof is there that Lampard is capable of ‘building’ it? Beats Mediawatch. But apropos of absolutely nothing whatsoever, it is almost exactly a year since the same man posted this: Phil Neville said United have got to stick with Solskjaer and that "they are where they are and people have got to accept it." Absolute nonsense. There is no way anybody associated with United should accept what's going on and there is no way Solskjaer should be manager. — Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) January 23, 2020 January 19, 2021: Chelsea are 8th in the Premier League table, five points off Champions League qualification having played an extra game. Lampard should still be manager; give him time. January 23, 2020: Manchester United are 5th in the Premier League table, six points off Champions League qualification with actual wins over teams in the top six. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must be sacked immediately and those who say they ‘have got to stick’ with him are speaking ‘absolute nonsense’. And that’s without even starting on the fact it took little more than for Maurizio Sarri to wear a tracksuit for a scoffing Law to point out that ‘moneyed folk back winners over philosophers’. Quite. Thank god ‘culture’ is presumably completely different.
The two problems with Liverpool's misfiring front three... - Football365.com
The fallout from Liverpool and Man Utd's draw continues in the Mailbox. Also: Newcastle, and celebrations in the Covid era...
Keep your mails coming to [email protected]… The problem with Liverpool’s attackWhat’s eating Liverpool’s fabled front three? With so much attention being given to Liverpool’s injuries in defence and TAA’s problems at right back the focus in gradually coming to the front three, I am not the first to realise this but let me offer a perspective. One of two things have happened in my opinion. First case for the prosecution: Liverpool and in particular their front three have been found out. There is an argument to be made that most of Liverpool’s players and in particular their fabled front three have been over-hyped…I know not something a pool fan would readily admit but has to be considered as a possibility. Why would this be? Klopp has been adamant from the outset how he wants his team to set up to press the opposition into making mistakes deep in their own territory. For a while teams could not cope with this and fell into the traps set by Klopp’s teams of pressers repeatedly. This led to the ball being turned over in broken play with lots of room for the fabled front three to operate in and flourish. They passed the ball through a disorganised defence usually and scored a huge amount of goals as a result. Their relative profligacy in front of goal went unnoticed when they scored so many in particular Salah and Firmino. Now this year things have changed. Firstly teams have started to figure us out and do not under any circumstances try to pass the ball short in their own half of the field. Their is little or nothing for the press to press anymore, leading to few if any turnovers in most games and lots of sterile domination with 8-9 players behind the ball defending waiting to counter. The pressure exerted by the team as a whole is greatly reduced due to the absence of the regular CBs and the press is lighter and easier to escape, in essence opposition teams can breathe again. In this environment the job of the front three has become much tougher, they must create alone or between themselves in tight spaces with defenders on their backs and be clinical when the half chance presents itself, they are failing to do either of these things at present. So in essence the abilities of the front three although considerable were magnified by the genius of Klopp’s system. Maybe Salah isnt the new Messi, maybe Bobby is a very hard working players with great game intelligence but a lack of end product. The other option to the above is that something is wrong in the chemistry of the three players together. Since Mane stormed off last year following Salah’s failure to play him in, to Firmino ignoring obvious passes in favour of personal glory at the weekend to Salah complaining of how he is being treated in the media by Liverpool and batting his eyelashes at Barca and Real. There is a feeling of some of the front three feeling aggrieved and starting to believe their own hype perhaps. If this is the case, and we cannot ever know for sure from outside then Klopp needs to nip this in the bud and remove whoever is the rotten apple in the basket. for my money this could be Salah. He of all three always seemed most motivated by personal glory and recent media comments attest to this. Selling Salah could be Liverpools countinho part 2. If he were to go to one of the Spanish giants for in excess of 100mil, this could be used to but a reliable right sided centre back to partner VVD and/or another forward who is good at kicking the windy thing in the boxy thing, Haaland would be the dream signing for me here. Either way things are not right at the pool and something needs to change. Either that or its just january when all three of these players usually have a slump in form and in three months time when they are banging in the goals again I’ll look a right ninny, happy either way.Dave LFC How Man Utd’s poor record against Big Six rivals comapres… Issues at the backThe narrative forming around Liverpools troubles is naïve. They say were missing Jota and a ruthlessness in attack rather than Van Dijk and other defenders. This is borne out of the view that because were not conceding too much, it hasnt hit us too hard defensively but that misses the domino effect of the great Dutchman missing at the back. So lets start in the defence. We had our 3 first choice defenders missing. Thats a big problem but our solution is causing us bigger problems. Our first choice midfield would usually be Fabinho, Henderson and Wijnaldum. So as well as missing Van Dijk and Gomez, we are now effectively missing Henderson and Fabinho they cannot do the same job in defence that they do in midfield. Thats 4 first team players out right in the spine of the team. And the problem that gives us is in how quickly we win the ball back AND recycle it forwards when the opposition is still in an attacking mindset or at least an oh poo, weve just lost the ball as I was moving forward out of position, where should I be. mindset. Our forwards have been able to take advantage of that transition a lot in the last few years but now they are not getting the ball back as quickly or as high up the pitch meaning the opposition has more time and space to recover their shape. Throw in a bit of a loss of form, from an admittedly very high level, for both Trent and Bobby in particular and its not hard to see why Liverpool are suddenly finding it difficult to get over the line. Although we won a ridiculous amount last year, dont forget how many times that win was by one goal, often late on and accompanied with a comment such as they didnt play to their best but they got the win in the end. So to my view, before we even talk about how much we are missing Jota, weve got 4 of our best players missing every game and 2 of the remaining 7 in a poor run of form. Were also missing Van Dijks organisation and presence. I always watch the matches without fake crowd noise (seriously, why do you need this?) and he is always talking, shouting, driving the rest of the team in a way that no-one else does. Its going to very difficult to win it from here but imagine how good this one would be if we could!Adam LFC York (by the way, its January, we often have a blip in January honest) …Following up on Rich (AFC) about Liverpools injury crisis, I would feel more sympathy toward them if I hadnt just spent all of last season listening to how stupid City was for only going into a season with 3 CBS on the roster and suffering from the same injuries. Laporte (2nd best CB in to Van Dyke) suffered a freak knee injury at the beginning of the season, which could never have been planned for. It left City relying on an talented but injury prone John Stones (Joe Gomez) and an erratic and injury prone Otamendi (Matip, also better). City also were forced to move their world class holding midfielder fielder Fernandinho to defense and rely on promising academy players to fill in. City even had the Sane injury to deal with (just like Jota), and although he was likely to have been sold if not for the injury, City would have used the money to purchase a replacement. The only difference this year to last year is that this year there is not all conquering side running away with the league, so Liverpool are still right in the title race. Injuries happen, and their is no way to plan for your world class CB suffering a freak season ending injury. It is also incredibly hypocritical to criticize a team for spending too much money and then turning around and criticize them for not spending 60 million for a back up. If anything, this should make us appreciate just how [email protected] good City and Liverpool were the last 3 seasons, and how much has to go right to reach those levels.Ryan, MCFC Size mattersOne thing to note from the recent team selections for Liverpool is that due to their injury problems, theyre a substantially smaller/ weaker side than last season. If you take yesterdays game against Manchester United, with Henderson and Fabinho playing at centre halves, youre effectively swapping Van Dijk and Gomez/ Matip with Thiago and Shaqiri from their regular starting side from last season. This causes problems on set pieces at both ends of the pitch. Liverpool currently have scored 6 goals from set pieces, the 8th best in the league. Liverpools goals per game from set pieces at 0.33 this season compared with 0.45 goals per game from last season. Also, if you check the defensive issues, its possibly a worse situation. Liverpool conceded 7 goals from set pieces last year or 0.18 goals per game. This season, the figure is 6 in 18 games or 0.33 goals per game. Liverpool have a league leading 121 corners this season, at 6.7 per game. Last season they won 257 corners in 38 games which amazingly is also 6.7 corners per game, so the difference doesnt seem to be in the numbers of corners earned, just in their ability to score from them! While Liverpools goal scoring problems are not solely down to set pieces, it is obvious that teams are happy enough to sit deep and even give away set pieces with little fear of conceding from them.Morgan (So, basically I’m saying Van Dijk is good in the air?) Dublin Unlucky JoeEveryone keeps saying that Gomez is injury-prone, but that doesnt really seem fair. He did his cruciates – that happens and is unlucky, but it can and does happen to anyone. He had his ankle badly broken against Burnley and needed a while to come back from it. It wasnt helped by the initial prognosis being 6 weeks before it was decided he needed surgery (and missed out on the World Cup, which would explain why so many people think he is injury prone) He played in 43 games last season – it wouldnt be unreasonable to think that he would be able to do that same again. I dont have a problem with our transfer policy, but I think our midfield loses a lot of control with Fabinho sitting so deep. The front three look knackered (MM, thats probably why they look like theyve never played together) – would love to see Divock tried through the middle if only to see what happens. Hope all are well and looking after themselves and others as best they can.Tom Anfield falloutEver since United started gaining on Liverpool a month ago, their fans have been nothing short of embarrassing. From labelling United as the favourites (so ridiculous even we dont believe this), to making every excuse under the sun and turning their team into plucky underdogs. The fact of the matter is, as Champions, you dont get sympathy. Youve spent 30 years trying to win the league, OWN THAT SH*T. Yet if the reaction from Liverpool fans is anything to go by, theyre criticising us for not winning at Anfield, where no one has won for FOUR YEARS. Did anyone realistically think that was going to change yesterday? A Liverpool team that had the easiest Xmas schedule (playing every 4-5 days as opposed to Uniteds 3), and then a further two weeks off (Villas youth team doesnt count) before the biggest game of the season. United meanwhile, have been playing every few days from the start of the season, having in the last week come through a semi-final against City and a gruelling game away to Burnley. Bruno and Rashford could barely walk towards the end. In a season with no defining moments, its not a surprise that yesterday taught us nothing new whatsoever. Whereas the game wasnt exactly boring, both teams were pretty cagey and looked happy to settle for a point. The annoying thing is that this was built up to be the most competitive derby in 10 years, and nobody took the initiative. United are still a ways away from winning the league, more than anything we need a proper defensive midfielder that can break the press and carry the ball out of midfield. Admittedly, McTominay and Fred had their moments yesterday, but neither is good enough for a team that wants to win big trophies (especially Fred). Its also worth remembering, just like Liverpool, our attackers havent been firing this season either with only Bruno and Rashford really getting the goals. This brings me nicely onto Bruno, and the nonsensical questions around what he does apart from scoring and assisting (those unimportant things). These questions quite clearly come from those who dont watch or understand football (probably the kind of people that believe Covid is hoax). Even though he had a poor game yesterday (no doubt due to being f*cking exhausted) Bruno is the brain of the team. If you watch him, you see him everywhere, always making himself available to receive the ball, always directing his teammates into space, telling them where to move, who to press, what run to make. Its similar to what Henderson does at Liverpool, which is why its so noticeable when either is missing from the team. United are not a team with high footballing IQ, so they need someone with an understanding of the game to direct them on the pitch (especially since Ole refuses to play Donny). I probably need to talk about the half time whistle, which to be fair was a bit strange, but the ref quite clearly blew before he knew what was happening. Whys everyone so convinced Mane would have scored anyway? They had a whole other 45 mins and could barely get a shot on target at home. Also worth mentioning how many cynical fouls Thiago made, and I dont think he even got booked. What a classy player though, made Fred look like a fool a few times, which isnt that difficult if were being fair. Overall I think we shouldve won considering the chances, but weve come a long way in a year. On current form City look favourites, but anyone that wins a few games on the bounce could run away with it. Its just enjoyable being in the picture again.IP (What a performance from Luke Shaw) 16 Conclusions: Liverpool 0-0 Man Utd …Alex from South London’s mail reads like a man cutting loose and letting some pretty horrible tension out of his system. Unfortunately, the raw human emotion of thinking his kids might have COVID has led him to pretty ludicrously oppositional stances. First off, he talks like these games have not always been, for the most part, cagey, tactical affairs. And he also talks like Liverpool no longer carry huge threats simply because they are missing a couple of centre-backs. Fabinho, as has been demonstrated consistently, can do a very competent job in there. Henderson is more of a wildcard, but referring to an ‘Anfield debutant’ in the midfield is disingenuous in the extreme. Thiago you mean? 29 year old Champions League winner, ex Barcelona and Bayern, Pep’s only signing his first summer at Bayern, the guy who ran the show for the first half an hour Thiago? He then refers to Luke Shaw not going forward at all, which was strange, as the game I watched saw him making numerous bursts forward, winning a free kick to 20 yards from goal in the first half, not to mention creating the game’s best clear cut chance from the byline, of course. And then he clinches the deal by arguing that, instead of seeking to take advantage of Liverpool’s high line with long balls, a decent enough tactic if better executed, they should simply lump longer balls into their fifth choice striker who didn’t even make the bench of 9 players yesterday? Massive slow clap for that one, icing on the cake. Finally, to answer his question re Mourinho and Van Gaal : very simply put, this is the first time we’ve been top with this many games played since 2013. In that context, a draw at Anfield is a very good result. Against a team who have been generally steamrollering all before them since about this time two years ago, it is doubly so. This team is still knitting together, and being the first team to keep Liverpool scoreless at Anfield for a long, long time will help that process.Pablo, MUFC, Dublin ( I like Silvio Dante’s point about the pointless insertion of words like ‘Look’ or ‘Listen’ into articles. Need to, like, stamp out the amount of mailboxers who, like, love to add a completely superfluous ‘Like’ in the middle of sentences too ) …Imagine Salah, Firmino and Mane being up against Pogba and Fernandes in defence because Maguire, Bailly and Lindelof were all injured. Imagine a Liverpool fan saying that didn’t make United weaker. Imagine being Dave of Manchester.Jo (VVD back in February, Thiago is king) Kent Decent drawsThe Liverpool and United Draw has been derided by many. Personally, I thought it was a good result for both. A loss for either and the knives would have been out for both coaches.If you look at the current Cricket series in Australia, the 3rd test match was by far one of the most engaging games I have seen in some time.So a game for the mailbox – the “best” draw you remember fondly.For me it was United Arsenal 2 2 draw of 2002 / 03 season. The rivalry between Fergie and Wenger was at its peak. Arsenal the defending champions desperately needed to close the gap on United the league leaders. Goals, crunching tackles, red card – it had everything.For those interested, here is a nice extended highlights for this gameShivam, MUFC (how good was Ruud) Penalty pallaverNice of Lee to point out in yesterday’s mailbox that Liverpool and United both have quick, nippy forwards, so that doesnt explain the discrepancy in the amount of penalties awarded. But there’s another factor that he hasn’t taken into account – the overall style of play. When Liverpool attack teams, they’re usually entrenched in their own half. They’re set up to defend, and they’re facing the team that are (often quite brilliantly) trying to pry them open. When united are entering the penalty area, its often due to a counter attack. There’s 3v2, there’s tonnes of open space, and the defenders are desperately chasing backwards and mistakes happen. Another team that plays a lot of counter attacks in this manner? Leicester. How are they getting on in the penalty stakes this season?Browner (MUFC) Bruce outSteve takes his gloves off, the wheels come off and Mike Ashley can f*%k off! Jamie Carragher pulling out a line that Ive not heard since Pardew tried to convince us that, getting an average squad player back was like a new signing. That was like a new manager coming in, being more positive and losing. I prefer to see Newcastle lose like that. One shot on target (dunno when) and 34% possession. I give up with the sky boys. I open this up to the mailbox, can anyone explain how Newcastle plan to score a goal? It doesnt just have to be based on last nights performance, you can base it on any game this season, what is the plan? Finally, why cant we do throw ins?Ratt Mitchie NUFC (sack him and dont replace him until the big fellas gone) ScrummyThe Premier League should only stop footballers celebrating together when RFU stops their players from scrummaging or going into rucks. Double standards much. Both are contact sports. Get over it.Rob, AFC Storey’s big wordsI have taken the time to write in before to compliment the wordplay in Winners and Losers, so youre damn sure Im writing in for the use of the word insouciance! Ive even copied and pasted the Oxford definition as I had to check what the fuck it meant! Bravo! Insouciance noun casual lack of concern; indifference. “an impression of boyish insouciance”Jon (I didnt get to read Winners and Losers till late!), Lincoln
Foden the shining light as weary City get the job done - Football News - - Football365.com
Football News - - Phil Foden took his goal very nicely. The rest of Man City v Brighton was pretty hard work for everyone.
An important win for resurgent Manchester City, a performance on which to build for Brighton and further evidence of the slow yet steady increase of Phil Foden’s influence at the Etihad. On the face of it, a night with plenty of positives. But really – and this is no criticism of any player on either side – this was a pretty drab game in a paradox of a Premier League season: the weariness of every team is producing a thrilling title race out of a lot of piss-poor football matches. That’s maybe harsh on City. They were truly excellent against Chelsea and no-one can turn it on every week, but they still look some way short of their best week in, week out. Old-fashioned an idea it may be, they still look like a side in need of an actual striker. They have, though, now at least developed the knack of Getting Things Done. That’s six wins and two draws in the last eight league games. This season more than ever, it is the way it must be. Play well as often as you can; win as often as you can when you don’t. City weren’t doing that earlier in the season, and now they are. That’s good news for them, isn’t it? The three points aside, Foden was the other obvious massive positive. He’s still just short of what you’d call a regular in this City side, but there is little doubt about his increasing importance to Pep Guardiola. His goal tonight was a crafty one, giving the keeper the eyes from the edge of the box and rolling the ball into the bottom corner with his swinger. It’s his eighth goal in all competitions and, thanks to Raheem Sterling summing up much of the 90 minutes that had preceded it by slapping a late penalty high over the bar, makes Foden City’s top-scorer this season. Less surprisingly, Kevin De Bruyne got the assist. Darren Fletcher and Steve McManaman suggested on commentary for BT that reports of City’s demise had been premature and they had never really gone away. It’s an understandable point, but it doesn’t quite hold. Even now, they are not – consistently at least – the side we know they can be, but the performances are bringing greater points reward. This still didn’t look like the performance of champions, but if we apply that criteria then this season will have no champion. City now have as good a chance as anyone and could for the first time be considered favourites. Which is good news for anyone who said they definitely wouldn’t win it after a dour Manchester Derby against a United team who will also said definitely wouldn’t win it. It’s become clear that recalibration is needed. What we’re not seeing this season is a team that looks like it will get 90 points. But what that obviously means is that we don’t need one; 80-odd might win it this year, and there are at least three or four sides capable of scrambling to that. And two of them are in Manchester. But that’s not to say City’s early-season struggles were overplayed. They had 12 points after eight games and had already lost twice. They’ve taken 20 points from the next eight without necessarily playing much better. This season is going to be like that. Results will always trump performances but this year that’s more true than ever. Watching this game, though, as two exhausted sides dragged themselves through 90 minutes, it was impossible not to wonder just what kind of spectacle we’ll be watching by April if there isn’t an enforced break. Another paradox: the Premier League has never been more visible than this season, and this season the more we see of it the worse it looks. Dave Tickner
A cup run or a European place would only hurt Leeds... - Football365.com
A cup run or a place in the Premier League? Apparently, Leeds have to choose. Also in the Mailbox: Jose, Dele, and Van de Beek...
Get your mails into [email protected]… Leeds, Leeds, LeedsDont get me wrong, I was hoping that Leeds would beat Crawley Town. Not because I had any interest in them doing well in the FA Cup, but just because its embarrassing to have lost. My dream scenario was for them to beat Crawley, be drawn against a good Premier league team in the next round, and then lose with dignity. Apparently they should have taken the cup very seriously indeed”, but I have no idea why and Im glad theyre out. Seven changes to the lineup gives you an idea of how seriously Marcelo Bielsa was taking this match, and three shambolic half-time substitutions seemed a lot more like resting a player returning from injury and giving a couple of others some playing time. It may be that Chelsea or Arsenal win the cup every year, but outside the usual suspects Wigan were the last team to win back in 2013. That was also the season they were relegated. Before that it was Portsmouth in 2008, and while they managed to finish 14th the following year they were relegated the season after that. Cup competition is great for some teams, after all it gives Kepa and Donny van de Beek a chance to play. For teams struggling with injuries and focusing on staying up, not so much. Sure Leeds not going to trouble the top six, but why would they want to? I would far rather they consolidate their position in the league than run the risk of qualifying for Europe through either league of cup. Its wonderful for Spurs that theyre in the Carabao Cup final and they have an opportunity to win some silverware, but they have an established squad who have been challenging for league title for a number of years. Silverware is lovely, its so shiny and theres a distinct shortage of goldware, so who wouldnt want some? Given the choice between a cup and a place in the Premier League though, I would take the latter every day of the week and twice on Sunday (see what I did there).Andrew – Canada (Leeds fan) …Cup doesn’t matter anyway. We can concentrate in the league now.Dale (Opinions are like the weather) Leeds 16 Conclusions: FA Cup third-round weekend Kudos for MourinhoI’m sure you’ll get a lot of these, but massive respect to Mourinho. As he pointed out the risk of injury was very real but he did everything that I’m sure the Marine players would have wanted. I’m sure that “The day Gareth Bale came to Marine” will be talked about for years… Pompey are just going to focus on the League… CheersPompey Stew (Eddie Howe for Inter Miami), Hampshire …Great day yesterday for Marine made even greater by the attitude and actions of Mourinho. All week, he’s been nothing but class. From supporting the online ticket scheme to the team he picked to start the game and putting Bale on for the last 20 minutes to give the Marine players the chance to say they played against him. The guy, rightly and often, gets a lot of stick for the negative football or for just being a bit of a dick. Credit where its due though, he showed yesterday that at heart he’s a real football man with the utmost respect for the game.Kevin, (Had to try so hard not to put “proper” in that last paragraph) ITFC, Vancouver. F365 Says: Mourinho shows Marine precisely the respect they deserved Dele delightWatching Dele Alli play like this really makes me wistful. Its not gone away, has it? Hes playing with a confidence that seems nonexistent in the Prem. One wonders if hes playing for a transfer somewhere? Ahem.Jon (Poch and Dele sitting in a tree…), Lincoln Van de Beek and mistaken identityI greeted the signing of VDB with a mix of pleasant surprise (we’ve managed to get one of the famed Ajax class of 2019) and a little confusion (wait, where will he play?). When we signed him, we had just put together an unbeaten run with a settled midfield 3, Bruno was the man, Matic the experienced calm one and suddenly Pogba wasn’t going anywhere due to pandemic finances. With Fred and McT proving to be able deputies (and now go to for big games), the VDB signing makes less sense every passing game and seems like a ‘grab the shiny toy whilst it’s still on the shelf’ signing. So why the mistaken identity? Well for that, cast your minds back to the Ajax team which reached the semi finals playing great football with a core of homegrown talent. At the time, Barcelona were looking for a midfielder to replace Iniesta as Coutinho proved an incorrect fit, so they naturally turned to Ajax (similar style of play, same philosophy, the Cruyff connection etc) and signed the jewel in the crown – De Jong.Except De Jong is not the player they needed. His strength is to pick up the ball from the centre backs, beat the press, drive the team upfield and pass to the more creative players, something Busquets is the master of. What Barca needed was a player to play intricate one touch tika taka to knit the possession further up the field, make space for Messi and occasionally chip in with a goal or two. That is what VDB was doing at Ajax and with Barca’s scattergun transfer policy, they ended up doing a reverse Gravesen. With his age, natural ability and heavy investment De Jong has slowly adapted his game to suit Barcelona so he’s not going anywhere soon, and with Pedri stepping up this season to fill the Iniesta shaped creative hole in midfield they suddenly do not need VDB. In another timeline, UTD would get De Jong (the player we expect Pogba to be) and Barca get VDB as part of a sensible transfer policy. Till then, we have to be patient with VDB as remember, it took Fabinho a while to integrate into Liverpool’s team (which seems to be a benchmark for patience). Form is temporary and all that; if it doesn’t work out, Inter will be waiting to take him off our hands.Omer (stay safe, wishing you all well during the winter months). F365 Says: No peace for Solskjaer while Van de Beek shines An idea for the EurosHello everyone, hope we are all staying safe and well. I’ve been thinking about euro 2020/21 and have come up with an idea. The risk of doing 12 cities in 12 countries this summer is just going to make it impossible to host this in the way that was planned but I’ve got an idea. Why not have one host city where there are numerous football stadiums, like London or Istanbul (just two off the top of my head with numerous top flight clubs) where there are a number of grounds already. This would mean very little travel for each team between games. Those clubs whose grounds are being used can also donate the use of their training pitches so that teams can have somewhere to keep fit and work on tactics. You can then give each team a hotel in said city where they can have their own bubble. Finally, before each team flys out they will need to have a test for every player to prove they’ve not got the virus. I understand there will be draw backs on this. First of all it will be a bit rubbish for the players having to stay in a secure bubble for a month. Secondly, even London with its numerous premier league and championship teams might struggle to give all 24 nations their own training ground and finally, is it really that important and can we not just cancel the whole thing. If this is a stolen idea then I do apologise and if anyone can think of a better way to play it then I’d be happy to hear it.Bernard (let’s be honest, lock down is awful so let’s give those players who’ve made mistakes a break) MUFC
Klopp critics are wrong: Liverpool's FA Cup line-up did not undermine point - Football365.com
The Liverpool side Jurgen Klopp picked to face Aston Villa's kids in the FA Cup did nothing to undermine his overall points this season.
Send your thoughts on Jurgen Klopp, narratives and more to [email protected] Klopp for PMGot to say, Im starting to look at Klopp and wonder if the days of him getting praise – for anything – are gone. He is doing a fantastic job under the circumstances, but gets slated left right and centre, no matter what he does. Last year, weak team in the cup, absolutely battered on socials for not playing a strong team. This year, plays a rotated but still strong team, slated (from your Joe Williams, amongst others). I dont think Klopp is asking for sympathy, he is asking for equality. Wilder has a dig at Klopp, Klopp digs back. Oh look at Klopp, putting the small man down. José moans about refereeing decisions, haha look at José doing what he does. Klopp does it, wont stop moaning. The government will always be criticised for not doing the opposite of what they have done, regardless of outcome, as those who cant do it, always think they can do better, and it seems Klopp is now in that boat too.KC (Klopp for PM) Sod the narrative…Klopp was rightOne expects to see some pundits attacks Klopp for fielding strong line-up and say that negates what he has been saying about fixture piles ups this season but it is a sham to see an intelligent website like F365 following the herd. Klopps overall message is correct- there are too many fixtures this season packed into too short a time frame. This could have been avoided had the EFL decided to scrap the Carabao Cup or UEFA the Nations League. Neither did so and, in a way, thats fair enough as both organisations need the money. Klopps point remains valid, however, that trying to fit ten months-worth of fixtures into nine months with a tiny pre-season and then an international tournament summer at the end of it is detrimental to player welfare and to the overall quality of the sport (though it has led to a more exciting title race than two of the last three years). Klopps secondary point is that broadcasters have a responsibility to try to keep reasonable breaks between fixtures. Again, there is an argument against that the broadcasters pay for the product and are entitled to use their slots to promote what they regard as the fixtures most likely to get viewers and therefore advertising revenue. On both points, therefore, Klopp is making valid arguments, and though there are counter points to be made they lie beyond his ability to fix them (he doesnt control UEFA, the EFL, Sky or BT Sport). Klopps overwhelming priority, however, is to win games of football for Liverpool Football Club and, more than that, to win trophies for Liverpool. No pundit is inside the Liverpool training ground or has access to the medical records on each player at the club. Yes, players were at risk of injury but players are at risk of injury every time they step onto the field. Players also need rhythm and form. Fabinho remains a (very good) work in progress at Centre Back and Klopp may well have thought that another game under his belt would be a good thing. Liverpool played (terribly) on Monday and, aside from the Villa game, do not have another until Sunday week. Leaving players out of form without a game for 13 days before the biggest game of the season so far is also a risk and, Kopp may have calculated, a bigger risk than playing them against Villas kids. In the current moment, Liverpool have a (mini) crisis of form, they do not have a fixture pile up. They have played 5 fixtures in 21 days and by the time they play Man Utd they will have played 6 fixtures in 30 days (1 game every 5 days). The Brighton game came in the midst of a period when they played 6 games in 18 days (1 game every 3 days). You do not need to be a sports scientist to work out that the former period was much more likely to produce injuries than the latter. Klopps selections against Villa do not undermine much of what he has previously said about fixture congestion and injuries and will not if and when Liverpool ae again asked to play Wednesday evening and Saturday lunchtime. To suggest otherwise is simply lazy, narrative-led journalism which this website should be above.Andrew, Cambridge PerspectiveRead seans email in the mailbox. It was a good read till i reached the end. He says at the moment being a liverpool fan is tough. I mean really sean, is your club really in that bad a state?? Just because your team dropped some points and struggled slightly for one half of an fa cup game???? Your most important player,player that leads from front like keane ,defends like a clone of Ferdinand and Vidic together, pops up with important goals all the time is out for almost all season along with so many other casualties all over the pitch. In spite of all your team is top of the table and favourites to win the league,your team progressed to the next stage in europe again top of the group and are probably one of the 2 or 3 teams that can stop bayern ,progressed to the next round of the fa cup. I mean what more do you need?? Get some perspective. See what happened to city when they missed kompany,see what happened to chelsea when hazard was out injured or was not playing well,see what happened to my man utd when all the leaders in the squad were gone post fergie!!! I wouldnt mind my man united in Liverpools position right now. Happy new year mate!!Swapnil,mumbai (man utd) Well in, VillaI feel like Villa should be commended as a club for not simply forfeiting their cup game due to covid. I think this idea should be extended to the premier League especially when the reason that city couldn’t field a strong first 11 was because their team member decided (again) to host an illegal Xmas viral super spreader party. I wonder, would city have been so quick to contact the FA if their choice was field a youth team or fofeit the points? This lack of real consequence for holding super spreader events means players will carry on doing it. And teams will carry on publicly condemning them and having complete apathy behind closed doors because why get worked up over something that has no consequence? For city in particular it’s actually a benefit to move an important game to a date in the future when aguero will likely be fit and playing again. Change the rules and not only will we see more matches played and less switched to a later date (in a season which has zero time to do this) it will also greatly increase the control teams will exert over their players and decrease the amount of super spreader parties that players stupidly keep holdingLee Politicking boxesAppreciate F365 has always had the reputation of flipping the bird to those in power in the football world, but I’ve really appreciated the recent uptick too in slightly more scathing views of things going on in the world and unashamed principled views for things like the Karen Carney debacle (f**king hell, what a shit show, Dave’s article was spot on). ‘Stick to football’ has always stuck in my craw, and being a lover of American sports (where by in large the stars don’t give a damn about your fantasy team, conservative views or puncturing your precious worldview) the UK has always been behind in supporting those who use one of the few platforms available where minority/underrepresented voices demand and get attention. The traditional media at this point seem like they’re set up to resist this, so places like F365 that stick the head above the parapet and say ‘Actually, this is bullshit, what are we doing here?’ are great. Add to that a majority of football fans being generally excellent people (potentially even a reasonable number of Millwall fans) as seen in all the charity supporters trust stuff (I see a lot of Arsenal stuff going on, but I know it’s replicated across other fanbases) and it throws even more into light the miserable, bitter world of tabloid football journalism. So keep on plugging, it’s a pleasure to read.Tom, Walthamstow Do as I say, not as I doLoved how Anthony called out someone who said resting Eric Baily was a disgrace but they went on to say Bruno Fernandes needs a break. Brilliant contradiction spotted. However, Anthony fell in the same trap by suggesting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is doing a better job than José Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes but wants people to not compare him with Alex Ferguson because that era is gone. They’re all gone mate with their eras. Snarkiness aside, completely agree with the sentiment on general overreaction these days.The Vocal Minority Everton VARWhat’s the point? Seriously what is the point.Was it to use 8 blue and red intersecting lines to triangulate the body position of various players? Like hell it was. Perhaps the rule needs revising because its ludicrous that you can be deemed to be gaining an advantage when you’re feet are in an onside position. I’m not going to bother watching matches. There’s no point as you can’t involve yourself when the game’s happening. I’ll check the result and watch the highlights if they’re worthwhile. Seriously f**k this.Michael Transfer window snog, marry, avoidto answer Mikey, CFC Buy: Christian Erikson for the lols but really Erling Haaland as he is clearly the best young striker on the continent [Mike didnt say i had to be realistic] Sell: Okay about 6 players could go here so really just start with the biggest drains on the wage but not Ozil, I will miss the tweets! So David Luiz and/or Willian. If we are going to 4 at the back then Luiz does not get into the team but could have a future as a coach and Willian is clearly only suited to the US league [neither will leave] Loan: easy. Ainsley Maitland-Niles needs to be allowed to decide on a position and go on loan to play in that position and then he is either good enough for us or not [though if he wants to be a jack of all trades for us I would be happy.Murray
FA Cup Big Weekend: Marine v Spurs, depleted Derby, Van de Beek - Football News - - Football365.com
Football News - - It's the biggest weekend for Marine and a considerable number of youth team players. And Donny van der Beek.
Game to watch – Marine v TottenhamThird-round weekend, you say? Magic of the cup is it, Sir? David versus Goliath. Ooh. Giantkillings. On cabbage-patch pitches. Postmen pitted against professionals. Ooohhh. It’s the one weekend of the year that football meets the old testament and few make a better Goliath than Jose Mourinho. He takes his Tottenham players to the Northern Premier League Division One North West surroundings of Marine. It’s the archetypal third-round clash. At least, it would be if anyone was allowed to watch it. As it is, the closest anyone will get to seeing Mourinho’s millionaires taking on NHS workers, a PE teacher and a bin man is the sofa on Sunday evening. Covid restrictions and the absence of supporters has cost the eighth-tier hosts around £100,000 but Marine have found other, more creative ways of milking their moment in the spotlight and they aren’t going to let a global pandemic spoil their fun. Mourinho will doubtless turn on the charm, the whole time wondering how soon can he get back on the bus, and the Spurs boss will obviously take the opportunity to rotate his squad for a tie which features the biggest ever gap in league positions. Which means we can all see how Gedson Fernandes and Carlos Vinicius cope at the Marine Travel Arena. Fernandes may well be heading back to Benfica after the game, if he hasn’t made a break for it already, but for Marine’s players, furlough awaits. Their season is on hold and, unless they turn Tottenham over in the biggest shock ever, then who knows when they will play next with their season currently suspended. READ MORE: All hail the simple genius fuelling Mourinho’s Spurs Team to watch – Derby, Villa and numerous other youth and reserves teamsThe Rams have been quite upfront about their predicament this week. Covid has taken hold of Wayne Rooney’s squad and the player-manager will join his squad and staff in isolation this weekend. So to Chorley on Saturday lunchtime will go a mixture of the Under-23s and Under-18s. Not that the prospect of an easier ride appeals to the hosts’ manager Jamie Vermiglio. We want to see Wayne Rooney walk into Victory Park, Vermiglio said before Derby revealed the scale of the outbreak. We want to be able to shake his hand, or fist pump or elbow bump. Even though it would disadvantage us if he were here, it would give the occasion a little bit more merit. The last thing we want is to be playing against an under-18 side. Its our chance to shine against good players. Derby are certainly not the only side scratching around for a team. Shrewsbury’s trip to Southampton has been postponed due to an outbreak at the League One club while, as it stands, ties involving Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Villa are in doubt. If Villa get their game on, they will field an Under-23 team. The Reds could have their revenge for the spanking the Villans gave their youth team in the Carabao Cup just over a year ago. Player to watch – Donny van de BeekWhile third-round weekend is all about the Davids, we have to talk about the Donnys and the Goliaths because #numbers. Manchester United face Watford on Saturday night as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side take their first step towards semi-final defeat. With Bruno Fernandes starting to look like a player who has not far off carried his team for almost a year, United’s talisman is sure to be rested for the visit of the Hornets. In his place will surely come Van de Beek. The £40million midfielder has made only two Premier League starts since joining United and he was given all of three minutes of the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday. It has been a hugely frustrating period for Van de Beek, as well as United and Holland supporters. We don’t know what was agreed before he signed on the dotted line – perhaps the plan all along was for the 23-year-old to watch and learn for most of his maiden season in the Premier League. Regardless, Van de Beek needs another impressive performance against Watford, because when he has played, he’s looked sharper than you might expect of a midfielder who has spent most of the campaign picking splinters. Van de Beek isn’t going to play regularly in the no.10 role – that belongs to Fernandes. But he would be able to play more often in a deeper role if United had a top class defensive midfielder who soothed Solskjaer sufficiently so that he didn’t feel it necessary to play two defensive screeners. So it will be interesting to see what role Van de Beek is given against Watford. Will he act as Fernandes’ stand-in or, as he did against Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League, might he start at the base of midfield and use his passing range to get United through the Hornets’ lines? READ MORE: Five clubs who should take the FA Cup seriously Manager to watch – Mikel ArtetaIt’s all about momentum for Arteta and Arsenal when they begin the defence of their trophy by hosting Newcastle on Saturday evening. After a wretched few months spent under dark clouds at the Emirates, the sun is shining on the Gunners boss after three victories in a week ended a seven-match winless run which threatened his continued employment. The baying hordes have turned their attention to Frank Lampard, and Arteta is being left in peace to guide his young side up the Premier League table. The issue for Arteta this weekend is whether he continues with those youngsters. Emile Smith Rowe has made a huge difference in the no.10 role and having not played in the Premier League before Boxing Day, the last thing he needs is a rest. Bukayo Saka is more deserving of a breather but the winger may prefer to play on rather than risk interrupting his purple patch. Rob Holding has already played more this season than during any of his previous four seasons with the club so the novelty means he won’t want to give way to the returning Gabriel. Nor will Pablo Mari, who quietly has made a very positive impression since Boxing Day. Perhaps the one change Arsenal fans will want to see is the return of Thomas Partey. Otherwise, with five days before they host Palace, why fix something that for the first time in a long time doesn’t appear broken? Football League game to watch – Sunderland v HullFA Cup weekend sees Sky Sports show the EFL some love with three games on offer on Saturday. Leaders Lincoln face fifth-placed Peterborough at lunchtime before the Black Cats and Tigers get their claws into each other at 7:45pm. Only on Wednesday was it decided to play this game, which was originally postponed on Boxing Day because of Covid. Sunderland were due to face Fleetwood on Saturday with Hull scheduled to play Wigan, but outbreaks within their opponents’ ranks saw Lee Johnson and Grant McCann agree hastily to get it on. Hull are currently in second while Sunderland flail around in 11th, though they are only three points off the play-off spots. If Posh lose at the leaders and Johnson inspires a Black Cats victory, they could go fifth, but only if Ipswich balls it up at second-bottom Swindon, also on Sky Sports at 5:30pm. European game to watch – RB Leipzig v Borussia DortmundIf Arsenal versus Newcastle doesn’t appeal on Saturday evening, then the Bundesliga has you covered with second-placed Leipzig hosting fourth-placed Dortmund. Leipzig went top of the table last Saturday and looked set to stay there on Sunday when Bayern trailed 2-0 at home to Mainz, before the champions woke from their slumber and scored five in the second half. Julian Nagelsmann’s side have the stingiest defence having conceded only nine in 14 matches so far this season and though they are unbeaten in eight games with four consecutive clean sheets, Dayot Upamecano and co. will have to be at their best to keep Erling Haaland quiet. Dortmund got back to winning ways last week with Jadon Sancho finally remembering the way to goal. They can go third with victory at Leipzig but defeat would likely leave them 11 points off the leaders before the halfway point. They already sit closer to Stuttgart in 11th than Bayern at the summit. If interim coach Edin Terzic has a hope of landing the permanent gig, the win over Wolfsburg needs to be the start of a run. Ian Watson
Journalist reveals Arsenal player has 15 offers to leave - Football News - - Football365.com
Folarin Balogun has 15 offers to leave Arsenal on a free transfer in the summer, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano.
Folarin Balogun has 15 offers to leave Arsenal on a free transfer in the summer, according to journalist Fabrizio Romano. The young forward scored in the 4-2 victory over Dundalk in early December, the second time hes come off the bench to score in the Europa League. Hes previously been the subject of interest from Sheffield United, but the player opted to stay at the Emirates to fight for a starting place. FEATURE: Five PL players back from the brink like John Stones However, Romano claims his lack of game time since the summer means he ‘will decide among 15 clubs that approached him as free agent’ unless he ‘plays more’. Balogun, who is out of contract in the summer, has ‘always been open to stay at Arsenal’ and the ‘priority for Folarin and his agents’ is for the forward to play more. The 19-year-old will ‘consider a new contract’ if his game time increases but Romano adds that ‘nothing done/signed yet’. Balogun always been open to stay at Arsenal… but he needs to play. This is the priority for Folarin and his agents. If he plays more, he’ll be consider a new contract. If not, Balogun will decide among 15 clubs that approached him as free agent. Nothing done/signed yet #AFC Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) January 7, 2021 Arteta confirmed after their victory over Dundalk in Decemeber that club officials are determined to keep the promising youngster, he said: Weve been having some discussions with the player. “He knows that we want to retain him at the club and we know that the length of his contract at the moment is an issue, but were trying to resolve it in the best possible way. We want him to stay and hes said to me that he wants to stay at the club, so hopefully we can reach an agreement and extend his contract. Hes done really well. Every minute hes been on that field hes been superb and today he looked a threat again. He scored a goal and set up another one, and he looked really lively and mature on the pitch.
Lampard out? Just look at Klopp and Gerrard for clues - Football365.com
Frank Lampard will win the title with Chelsea (or someone else), apparently. Just look at Jurgen Klopp. Erm...
Sentence of the day‘Lampard is halfway through his three-year contract and insists erratic results are a natural part of his team-building process after spending more than £220million last year on six new players’ – Andy Dillon, The Sun. If we did not know already that Dillon is a Hammer… Safety in numbersElsewhere in The Sun, Dave Kidd tries to argue that sacking Frank Lampard would not be in Roman Abramovich’s nature, actually. He is misunderstood. ‘If you judge him by Abramovichs unique standards, then surely Lampard is on borrowed time? ‘Yet the history of Abramovichs reign is not as simple as that. ‘Only once in the last eight years has he switched managers in mid-season and that was Jose Mourinho in December 2015, during that campaign of Eva Carneiro and palpable discord and Chelsea in an actual relegation battle.’ You might think ‘eight years’ is an odd timeframe to pick, but then you realise that ‘nine years’ would pull in two more managers who were sacked mid-season – Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo – and sacking managers mid-season suddenly feels like the rule rather than the exception. Three of the last five permanent managers have gone that way. It’s also worth pointing out amid this re-writing of history to make Abramovich look patient and reasonable, that Kidd himself advised Lampard to turn down the job in the summer of 2019: ‘If Lampard is made an offer, it is difficult to imagine him turning Chelsea down, or even trying to play hardball with the man who leant him his big boat. ‘But he should. Unless Abramovich is determined to show uncharacteristic long-term planning and patience when appointing Lampard, then the idea would be doomed to failure. ‘This is a club which is only too happy to part ways with Sarri, despite the Europa League trophy and a return to the Champions League. ‘Patience is no virtue for Abramovich.’ Oh. It’s amazing how the tabloid desperation to keep a British boss in a top Premier League job magically changes the whole history of impatient/patient Abramovichs reign. From Paris with loveWhy would Chelsea fans want to keep Frank Lampard though? After all, Thomas Tuchel would obviously bring Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe with him to Stamford Bridge. Because the biggest young star in world football would absolutely be keen to play for the ninth best team in England. Just try and stop him. Especially when he learns that Tuchel will still be playing Timo Werner wide left. Dear StanStan Collymore has obviously not been studying the last eight years of the Abramovich reign because he seems to think that the Russian has a habit of hiring and firing managers. So what does that mean for a man named ‘the brightest English coach to emerge for a generation’ by Collymore in July? ‘The big question the Russian must ask himself this time, though, is whether he does again what he has always done. ‘Thus pandering to those supporters who have been fed a diet of hire and fire, and who think Frank Lampard must go because he isnt getting the best out of his men despite lavishing £200million on the squad in the summer. ‘Or does he turn his back on almost two decades of football business practice and say, You know what, this guy is special and if I look at the anecdotal evidence of other young managers – Steven Gerrard, Dean Smith – if I give him time I know I will get something better at the end?’ We’re pretty sure that Abramovich will never say ‘You know what, this guy is special and if I look at the anecdotal evidence of other young managers Steven Gerrard, Dean Smith if I give him time I know I will get something better at the end?”. Because that would be really weird. Gerrard entered management at the same time as Lampard and has led Rangers to the runners-up position in the Scottish Premiership twice; his unbeaten team is now 19 points clear of Celtic. There is plenty to suggest that Gerrard is ‘special’ (just look at the table) but no evidence as yet to suggest that Lampard is ‘special’. So why should Lampard be afforded patience on the grounds that Gerrard has shown excellence over exactly the same period? As for Dean Smith; he is two months off his 50th birthday. So presumably the ‘anecdotal evidence of other young managers’ stems from his first spell in charge of Walsall, when he took them from the relegation zone to mid-table in the same time-frame as Lampard has been a manager and taken Chelsea to ninth. We’re really not sure that Abramovich will have studied Smith’s spell at Walsall. ‘I really hope Abramovich looks around the Premier League and sees that Englands two most successful clubs in the past few seasons havent arrived at their success by chopping and changing managers. ‘Jurgen Klopp has achieved great things at Liverpool but it took him much longer than the year-and-a-bit Lampard has had at Chelsea.’ Indeed. But Klopp had already won the Bundesliga twice with Borussia Dortmund; there was plenty of evidence to suggest that he was an excellent manager. And in his first year-and-a-bit with Liverpool, he spent less than £80m and took Liverpool back into the Champions League by the end of his first full season. ‘While Pep Guardiola was hired by Manchester City to build a dynasty and wasnt fired in or at the end of those two seasons in which he failed to win the Premier League.’ He literally won the Premier League title in his second season with a record-breaking 100 points – his seventh domestic title. Comparing City faith in Guardiola with Chelsea faith in Lampard is an utter nonsense. ‘At Manchester United, the owners and board have supported Ole Gunnar Solskjaer through some tough times, while Mourinho will have at least three or four years at Tottenham if he keeps his nose clean.’ At last, a sensible comparison, though Solskjaer has never spent over £200m in one summer and ended up with a worse side. As for Mourinho, again, his magnificent haul of trophies do earn him a little more patience than Lampard’s play-off final defeat with Derby. ‘Arsenal have resisted sacking Mikel Arteta despite some calls for him to go in recent weeks and, barring City, who are arguably Chelseas equal, the rest are all bigger clubs than the Russians.’ Terrible apostrophe aside, Arteta is an interesting case but he took over a really poor Arsenal side, won a trophy (beating Lampard’s Chelsea in the final) and absolutely did not spend over £200m in the summer. ‘So I hope Abramovich keeps his eye on the prize and gives Lampard time to make mistakes, gain experience and grow into the manager I know he will become. ‘Because I guarantee that if he does then in two or three years, Lampard will build a team capable of winning the title.’ That is one hell of a guarantee, especially considering Lampard is statistically one of the worst managers of Abramovich’s tenure. ‘And if he does decide to sack him then, it doesnt matter who is at the helm, Chelsea arent winning the title this season or next, whoever is in charge. ‘All Abramovich will have done is give Lampard the impetus to go to another top-four team in the Premier League or one of Europes other big leagues and be very successful winning the trophies he could so easily have been winning with Chelsea.’ We’re gone. That’s killed us. There is literally zero chance of ‘another top-four team’ appointing Frank Lampard as manager on the back of his first 18 months in charge of Chelsea. Literally zero. United we standHow The Sun website sell Southampton’s win over Liverpool: ‘Reds give Man Utd chance to go top with loss as Danny Ings early strike moves Saints sixth’ Yep. That’s the first thing we thought too. Recommended reading of the dayJonathan Liew on Frank Lampard Tom Hamilton on football, Long Covid and more
Pogba out; Haaland in – Man Utd to stay in bed with Raiola - Football365.com
Football News - Man United have had enough of Paul Pogba, but will stay in bed with agent and b***ard Mino Raiola.
Man United have had enough of Paul Pogba, but love it in bed with super-agent and super-b***ard Mino Raiola. POBGBA OUTPaul Pogba has been ‘shaking it all about’ for Manchester United in recent weeks, suggesting he’s more ‘in’ than ‘out’. But the Frenchman’s resurgence in form is reportedly not enough to repair the damage done by his claims that it would be a “dream” to play for Real Madrid, and Mino Raiola’s claims that his Old Trafford career is “over”. United have triggered a one-year contract extension that ties him to the club until the summer of 2022. But the Mirror reports there is now an acceptance at the club that they must sell him at the end of the season to recoup some of the £89million they paid Juventus to bring him back to Manchester in 2016. And the Old Lady are one of those interested in midfielder, along with “dream” club Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain. Is another prima donna is one of Mauricio Pochettino’s top priorities? The report claims that Pogba’s recent form is being seen as a positive, not because footballers playing good football is good for a football team, but because it will hike up the price of an asset they are desperate to move on. RAIOLA INDespite hinting that the influence of agent and b***ard Mino Raiola is a prime reason for Manchester United wanting to cut their losses over Pogba, the Mirror also claim that they are keen to do further deals with this particular devil. The Gossip on Saturday said United were confident of landing Jadon Sancho for a bargain, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is actually far more interested in Dortmund teammate and Raiola play thing, Erling Haaland. Ed Woodward reportedly now feels justified in not splashing out over £100million for Sancho in the summer after Dortmund ‘held a gun to his head’ over the deal. Ed and United ‘dodged a bullet’ there and are far more keen on landing Haaland with £37million teenage wing sensation Amad Diallo arriving from Atalanta this month. The report does point out the ‘drawback’ of having to deal with Raiola, but adds that the United bosses privately insist they wouldnt be put off dealing with the super agent over Haaland. The 20-year-old has a release clause in his contract of £65million, but that does not come into effect until June 2022, meaning any club interested in signing him before then will have to pay full market price. AND THE RESTPoch urges Mbappe to sign new PSG deal… Saliba willing to take pay cut to leave Arsenal… Newcastle in for Choudhury… Palace and Leicester interested in Kabak… Bruce wants Tomori loan from Chelsea… Allardyce opts against James move… Inter offer Eriksen around Europe.