Mails on Klopp’s moaning, killing football, and educating Cavani…

Keep your mails coming to…


Klopp kicking off
As I read Johnny Nic this week, I found myself alternately nodding in agreement (the game is ruled by money, and the broadcasters hold all the power) and shaking it in mild disagreement (surely it is reasonable for managers to ask for common sense schedule tweaks?). Yes, the PL agreed to the schedule via a vote by the clubs, but why is it unreasonable for a manager to ask for schedule tweaks at a later date? Broadcasters tweak the schedule specifically to boost their own ratings – for example, back in August the schedule had Liverpool v Wolves on Saturday 5 December, but at some point by October the match had moved back to Sunday 6 December. If matches can be moved to give broadcasters a marginal boost in revenue, why can they not be shifted to accommodate teams playing in the Champions League? Especially during the current pandemic season, when there is no need to consider the impact on the various travel/accommodation arrangements made by away fans that get thrown into chaos by last second switches.

I know the split between BT and Sky means there would be some horse trading involved, but why are the broadcasters unwilling to show any flexibility? Clubs and players have adjusted the best they can to the increased schedule, I cannot imagine that BT or Sky would feel a massive impact from trading the 12:30 Brighton-Liverpool on Saturday for the 14:00 Southampton-Man U on Sunday to allow all teams a normal amount of rest. Each week we hear the media talk about the grueling nature of playing Thursday in Europa and then Sunday in the League (though thanks to Monday Night Football, that burden has been eased a bit) so why are they now pretending that Wednesday-Saturday is any different to Thursday-Sunday? The key difference being that Thursday-Sunday is somewhat enforced, while choosing to force teams to play Wednesday-Saturday is unnecessary. I’ve also seen many pointing out that the broadcasters had no complaint during the restart when matches were on just about every single night from mid-June to late July, so pretending that all sides must rigidly stick to the existing contract in all situations is just inane.

The article did start to lose me once Johnny’s argument gets a bit muddled in the middle: “This is what you get for setting up an economic model that is entirely craven to one source of money which, as a result, you cannot operate without. Did all the money make you deaf and blind to the reality of this situation?” Are Klopp and the rest of the PL Managers meant to shut up and accept their place in the pecking order – as servants to the clubs, who agreed to be ruled by broadcast money? Or did these managers also somehow agree to the overall economic system? If you’re going to tell a group of people to mind their place, at least make sure your argument is concise as to what that place is. Siding with the broadcasters over the managers/players, even via passing the buck of responsibility back to the PL, smacks of corporate bootlicking to me. If the people who actually make the games happen are asking for a bit of flexibility to improve the quality of the sport, it seems like maybe we should listen.
Danny, LFC NY (Klopp’s broadcaster talk also distracts from a flat LFC performance)


…In response to James (LFC so probably biased), the reason that 5 subs largely only benefits the “big clubs”, is because they are the ones playing twice a week as they are in European competition, and therefore before Christmas they will play a minimum of 6 games more (ignoring variable league cup progression). Spurs had to play 3 qualifying rounds to get to the group stage of the Europa League, so more than Liverpool, so to cope José is playing two different teams (only N’dombele started all 3 of Spurs’ last games), while Klopp, for example, is refusing to rotate to such an extent.

The teams in the Champions League have a massive financial advantage over clubs such as Sheffield Utd, so why on earth would those clubs vote to give them further advantages? Stop your moaning and rotate your players Jürgen, you have a big enough squad and plenty of kids.
Sam, London


…Your winners and losers focused on the timing of Liverpool’s complaints, but I think the broader issue is that they tend to act as if these problems happen only to them. You said in your piece that there isn’t a protocol about Wednesday CL games as there is for Europa teams not playing on Sunday, but that isn’t actually the case. No team was asked to play in the Friday night games after a Wednesday game, which would be the equivalent of a Thursday/Sat Europa schedule. But teams can and have been asked to play Thursday night then Sunday lunchtime, which is the exact same turnaround as Liverpool got this week. Spurs did exactly that when they played Southampton earlier this season, and I’d bet it’s happened to wolves or arsenal too and I don’t remember the same fuss then. Spurs also got asked to play Sunday/Tues/Thursday/Sunday and while that got some commentary it’s still drowned out by the fuss over Liverpool playing 2 hours earlier than they want to.

Similarly, we’ve been deluged by warnings from Liverpool players about falling out of love with the game as if no one else has had this happen to them already. It’s an issue of course, but every decision was at least clearly correct (under the laws in place), which hasn’t always been the case.
I actually think Klopp has a pointing both issues – the broader point about VAR destroying the flow of the game and the timings. I think Jonny Nic’s description of the broadcaster timings issue as some binary choice between dancing 100% to every whim and not taking the cash was overly simplistic and the rules could be tweaked to everyone’s benefit. But please, Liverpool, stop acting like you and only you have ever suffered. It’s not a good look.
Phil London


What if they make it that subs 4 and 5 have to have come through the academy?
Dave, Chile


Cavani conundrum
Troy Deeney said ” I just want to know whether the FA are educating players when they come to this country.”
To me, that sounds a bit patronising with hints of racism. All foreigners need educating to the superior ways of England because they are wrong?
If Cavani was writing in English that would make some sense but now the FA is to educate people what is acceptable in all languages? And if a term is acceptable in one language but not another then who decides if it is ok? Or do we ban all terms that are offensive to someone anywhere in the world? Should the FA translate all social media posts all players write in their own languages and check them?
Seems Cavani used a (he claims) term of endearment to a friend, with no malice. If the friend was not insulted and native speakers of the language they used were not insulted, then point out to Cavani there’s been an outcry and move on. If otherwise then ok, ban him or fine him or whatever.
In Sweden Marcus Berg (according to Wikipedia) was earlier known as Svarte-Marcus (or Black-Marcus) because he reminded people of IFK club legend Filip “Black Filip” Johansson, so called because he had black hair. There’s even a road in Gothenburg called Black Filip’s Street. Now, I personally would love to see Marcus Berg banned from football due this (as it would give Isak and Quaison a chance in the national team and make it 90% less brutal) but I think that’s a bit unfair.
I write this to point out that sometimes there seems to be more concentration on something that a footballer wrote that is almost a taboo word if you don’t translate it but use it in English than there is on things like Sweden seeming to have a only one minority on the pitch at a time rule, or the lack of minority trainers in England, or horrendous racist insults hurled by fans…
Does a media outcry over things like the Cavani post help against racism, or just hide real issues?
Rob, of Sweden.


…So football tribalism means my instinctive reaction was a wry smile and to hammer out a tweet: “Who knew, negrito really is a term of endearment in rioplatense Spanish”

And then it occurred to me. The huge, clear and obvious difference.

Cavani apologised. I think Evra is still waiting for his.
Nick Glover, Scouser in Brum


Facts do tell a story
Lee weaves an interesting tale with his VAR table, painting Liverpool as the victims in this most vicious of atrocities.

However, another way of looking at it could be that without VAR:

1) Last year, Liverpool were broadly neutral and would probably have finished about the same level, whereas those teams with a higher VAR score would have unjustly finished lower in the table as a result of more incorrect decisions being made.

2) This year, Liverpool would be much further up the table (7 decisions probably puts them a bit clear at the top?) as a result of their unabashed scheming and cheating going unpunished! 7 times they’ve been caught by incorrect decisions being overturned! If anything, numbers that high suggest unabashed scheming and cheating – only explanation for it happening so frequently.

Of course, if we use our eyes, maybe those facts aren’t quite so clear cut.
Alex, Ayr


…As a Liverpool fan I was pretty frustrated with how the game on Saturday finished. I want to make it clear straightaway that I have been a big fan of VAR and still believe that the use of technology is – or rather can be – of enormous overall benefit to the game. But the problem is how it’s being used or misused by those in charge and how it’s having knock-on effects in the laws and their interpretation.

I read a very interesting article on the Independent where the journalist attended a demonstration session of VAR which was overseen by Mike Riley. From his notes he made the following observations (copied verbatim) –

• There will be minimum VAR intervention (maximum benefit, minimum interference)

• The point is not to re-referee games

• There will be a high bar for clear and obvious

• Only overturn a decision if it is clearly wrong

• There to pick up big missed incidents, not painstakingly search for them

To me, the decision to get involved with Welbeck/Robertson goes completely against every single one of those directives. We’ve got a ref who was clearly looking at the incident and saw no foul. Why? Because there was minimal contact which didn’t impact the game. Maybe you’d debate the fourth one but was there a high bar here? No. Was it a missed incident? No. Was it painstakingly searched for? Yes. Did they re-referee the game? Yes. The bottom line is the ref saw it, he saw no foul, move on. A few weeks back Fulham conceded a penalty for a similar and equally ridiculous situation. If this continues I will be able to point at any little kick that makes contact and scream penalty which would be a farce. Little bit of a pull at a corner, penalty. Two players come together, penalty. Catch a guy with a follow through, penalty. We need to apply common sense via the referee and strictly stick to the directives listed above.

VAR clearly has it’s objectors and while I’m not one at the moment I will be if they carry on like this. How can it be that minimal contact on a foot sends the ref to the screen to analyse several replays but a knee high flying challenge which leaves a guy receiving treatment and out for the season is overlooked? These sorts of incidents are fuel to those who want VAR scrapped but it didn’t have to be this way, all of this is due to poor decisions on the part of officials and administrators.

Speaking of which (feel free to tune out now), the handball law. This is another avoidable farce where officials have thought that now with VAR we can check incidents and carefully apply some convoluted criteria. There was no need, the old law was fine where if your arm was by your sides then no handball. Now part of the arm isn’t handball and can be offside which causes Bamford’s goal to be ruled out. I was hoping VAR would rule out simulation but it’s done the opposite. Salah gets kicked and throws himself to the floor. Ref gives a penalty. Does the VAR overturn it because of the throwing to the floor part? No, he gives it because of the existence of some contact, except all contact isn’t always a foul. The opportunity was there to make players stay on their feet and we’ll adjudge if you were impeded but this has been blown.

At risk of banging on for too long I have some proposals –

Follow the directives above as originally intended
Revert the handball law back to how it was
Judge offsides based on players feet (eliminates difficulty identifying furthest forward body part and inconsistencies with how lines are drawn from heads/shoulders down to pitch level)
Sack Mike Riley

I guarantee that making those changes will simplify matters and bring more people onside with the technology. Fat chance they’ll happen though.
Jim, Norwich


…Leicester – Fulham. I’ve seen it all now. The referee goes to the pitchside monitor to view a possible penalty and lo and behold, he awards it, after looking at 2 slow motion replays. 2 slow motion replays! As if he’s awarding a throw-in, or a free kick on the halfway line. How is it possible that you don’t look at the incident at normal speed first? A million/billion pound industry, every decision counts, every point matters and they can’t even get something so obvious, so logical right. It doesn’t even matter if you are pro or anti VAR, it’s just a case of using common sense.
Traore got booked for diving the other day, rightly so in my opinion, but but but, if the VAR checks it and the referee goes to look at it in slow motion, he gets a penalty because ‘there was contact’. Yeah VAR, great work, let’s encourage cheating and diving.
G Thomas, Breda

READ MORE: Premier League winners and losers

Fading love
After reading Ryan, Bermuda’s mail about how his feelings and love with football have changed over the years I actually fully understand the point he is making, it is similar to myself with watching Serie A football, now stick with me on this one.

Serie A is how I first discovered the beautiful game, my love for AC Milan was my first love for a club, a culture and their players and how they played the game, not forgetting James Richardson and Football Italia, then I would watch the games over on Eurosport and eventually Bravo TV, who else remembers that channel or even the logo, anyone, no? But over the years Juventus took control and it made the league a bit stale to myself, their dominance started in the 2011/12 campaign by going unbeaten the whole season, what an achievement I must add, but seeing the same winner over and over just got far to repetitive for my liking, then the famous Milan Derby became less entertaining as the two sides struggled under the Juventus shadow, this season however I feel the league truly is getting back to its best, it is the first season in a long while I cant be certain Juventus will lift the title, the Milan Derby is entertaining again and we have sides like Atalanta, Sassuolo, Lazio amongst others over the last two or so seasons playing fantastic football, I often put this feeling down to not just nostalgia but also when something is new and fresh it is always more exciting, be it a TV show, a video game or a new single from your favourite artist.

I must say I do love watching the Premier League years between 2002 and 2010, those are some quality seasons, some fantastic goals, players and teams.
Mikey, CFC


…I avoided commenting after the Everton match. Even though I was spitting pips. Just sour grapes.

Said nothing on Saturday even though it was clearly ridiculous. Just another entitled Liverpool fan.

Have tried to stay out of the whole debate because all you ever get back in response is LiVARpool as if somehow that’s a reasoned and well argued retort.

So tonight was another perfect example of the fact that it isn’t just my team being affected. It’s happening right across the board. So am I allowed to comment now? Thanks.

These are the facts: the people in charge of football have to go. They are destroying it for the people who love watching it and the kids who love playing it.

The game’s gone. I’m well into my 40s now but this is not the game I fell in love with as a child.

Offsides given because after 10 minutes of drawing lines on a computer someone thinks the piping on a shirt sleeve might be a millimetre in front of the piping on someone else’s shorts?

Penalties being given for handball after someone has the ball melted at their arm from three inches away?

Slow motion replays being used to decide the outcomes of games when the sport itself is being played at a hundred miles an hour?

You can say what you want about club bias – and Lord knows I’ve said enough over the years – but this is completely ruining the game and everyone’s enjoyment of it.

Right now, at this moment in time, I’ve never disliked football more. Which is madness. I’ve waited 30 years to see the reds lift the league title again. Whatever happens now, I told myself, I’ll just enjoy the fact that we are champions until someone else wins the league.

And yet I have reached the point now where I’ve stopped watching the game live and can’t stand to watch the highlights. The enjoyment has been sucked out of it.

I don’t want to wait five minutes for someone to decide than an eyebrow was offside. I don’t expect penalties to be given against defenders for the simple fact that they have arms attached to their torsos that they can’t detach and hide behind their backs.

The people that run football are RUINING football. Those are the facts. Completely ruining it.

Tonight it’s Villa fans. On Saturday it was Liverpool fans. Tomorrow it will be fans of another club.

Putting tribalism aside for a minute – when will football fans, players and clubs take the game back from the idiots in charge of it?

Who’s game is it anyway?!?
Jon Cardy


Arteta’s rope-a-dope
Engaging in wild speculation here, but what if Arteta is playing the long game here. Let all the other teams kill themselves playing at full tilt every three days, while Arsenal stroll about the park in the league and effortlessly glide through to the knockout phases of the Europa. Come January 1st, you bring your most creative player back into the squad and tell everyone else they can start trying again while all the other teams break down from their early season exertions (a la Liverpool at the moment). The classic rope-a-dope play. It’s extremely unlikely that he’s doing this, but if Arsenal make a miraculous meteoric late season charge up the table, we may have Muhammed Ali to thank.
Danny (Arsenal’s last league goal from their Tierney-Saka-Auba left side came in September) Bali United FC

READ MORE: The damning statistics: Comparing Arteta’s Arsenal with Emery’s

…I have never hidden my disdain for Arteta”s Arsenal. The football breaks my heart. I have been an Arsenal fan for 23 years. Beautiful football is all I have ever known. It’s why I started supporting the club. I am not a North Londoner. I grew up in Nigeria. So I am not a gunner because I grew up near Highbury, or my grand parents supported supported the club. We made the choice to support the club because the football was lovely…
I hope Arteta is sacked very soon, because he is destroying my club.
But the board should take most of the blame. The Ozil fiasco is a board decision, cos Man played well before he was ostracised for non footballing reasons after project restart. He is not the solution but he played well.
The £72m on Pepe was unwise. Bringing Cedric Soares was very needless.
There is the Lucas Torreira loan, and bringing back Ceballos, and playing him unsuccessfully as a defensive midfielder, and keeping Elneny…
During Emery’s first season, and Wenger’s last season. Our most creative players where Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Ramsey and Ozil(They where the top four in chances created for Arsenal)… They have all been discarded…
In thier places.. Martinelli, Pepe, Cebellos and later Willian where brought in… Players(With William as an exception) never known for chance creation.
It’s no surprise there have been a distinct lack of creativity. Because the board failed to bring in creative players….
Don’t get me started on the decision to sell Martinez and restore an inferior Leno as first choice…
The board has been less than satisfactory. I don’t know who will get after the Arteta debacle. But whoever comes will meet a seriously flawed squad…
A squad with no creative central midfielder, with Bukoya Sako it’s only genuine creative winger

Click Here: newcastle knights shirt


Villa falling
Losing a game it was easier to win is so Villa and this years season. Also, why was Jack moved off penalties?

Lost 4 of the last 5. Time to earn your salary Deano.

Oh and further to that point, I can’t be arsed watching football anymore with VAR. And I’m far from the only one.


Championship talent
With the success of Champo players in the Premier League continuing to increase, I wanted to highlight some of the talents that may make the jump over the next few seasons with a fun challenge. The rules were simple. Select the player from each club most likely to play in the EPL. No recently promoted or relegated teams were considered, and players can’t have played in the EPL before. The picks ordered by likelihood to make the jump…

Brentford – Brentford’s recruitment and talent identification are well-documented and they genuinely have 4-5 players who look capable of the EPL jump. Josh Da Silva was tough to pass on, but Bryan Mbeumo has continuously produced the goods since signing for the Bee’s and the Frenchman has more than enough ability to match and/or exceed Said Benrahma’s 25M transfer fee.

Stoke City – Tyrese Campbell is ELECTRIC and one of the lone bright lights in what has been a tough few years at the Britannia. He’s seen off doubts about his durability and continues to provide glimpses of a complete all-around game. Stay another season and develop please lad. Sky is the limit.

Reading – Michael Olise appears to be the Reading youngster ready to fill those enormous Danny Loader expectations. Blooded into the first team last year, Olise’s vision and technique were in-your-face apparent but he struggled with the physicality of the league. He’s come back this year and been different gravy, displaying consistent brilliance. Special player, bright bright future.

Swansea – South Wales has become a conveyor belt of EPL talent in recent years with Rodon, James, and McBurnie all moving to greener pastures for big fees. Welsh centerback Ben Cabango is very well positioned to keep that belt churning. Steve Cooper has done a fantastic job with the Swans and deserves transfer market backing at some point but until then, he seems more than happy to continue producing EPL-ready talents. OH BEN CABANGOOOO.

Nottingham Forest – On the verge of returning from injury, Joe Worrall looked oh-so-promising prior. Played a massive role in Forest’s success last year and their struggles without him must be noted. Given his nationality, there is sure to be EPL sniffs around Worrall from the EPL if he can quickly regain his form.

Derby – As the Wayne Rooney-led Rams sit bottom on the table, they can take some solace in the fact that there is a fair bit of young talent at Pride Park. All-action midfielder Jason Knight has just been capped by Ireland and is just about the first name on the Derby team sheet. Not quite at the level of those above right now but still has another level or two to reach.

Bristol City – Surprise time. I tried avoided getting too ‘cute’ with any of these picks but couldn’t resist the temptation of Bristol City’s Antoine Semenyo. Following in Nicolas Eliasson’s footsteps of ridiculous output in limited minutes, the young attacker oozes skill and is starting to show that there may indeed have been some substance behind that Chelsea rumor from last year.

QPR – Lyndon Dykes was considered here and is quickly becoming a personal favorite. However, Bright Samuel has come into his own following Eberechi Eze’s cross-London move. The focus on Samuel has increased drastically and he has risen to the moment, transitioning seamlessly from impact sub to attacking focal point over the last two seasons. One of the league’s most exciting dribblers, he has even more room to grow.

Blackburn – Nice guy Tony Mowbray has a talented squad on his hands with Dack, Travis, Dolan, Rankin-Costello, Armstrong, and Nyambe to boot but one of his most impressive feats has been his work with Ben Brereton. A victim of a nonsensical transfer fee out of his control, Brereton is finally showing glimpses of the talent that allowed his early breakthrough at Forest. Possess the rare ability to impact matches as a forward without scoring. Consistency is key but the upside is massive with Brereton.

Millwall – Millwall’s squad isn’t exactly young but regardless Jed Wallace and his free-kicks stand out as the easy pick here. Wallace seems like a Sean Dyche wet dream (if only Dwight McNeil wasn’t a thing) and has managed to carry last season’s breakout form into this year. Looks ready for a bigger challenge.

Middlesbrough – Signing Anfernee Dijksteel might be the lone accomplishment of Jonathan Woodgate’s miserly Teesside tenure. ‘Virgil Van Dijksteel’ has been immense since moving inside as a CB in Warnock’s 3-5-2 and boasts rapid recovery pace and composure on the ball. Middlesbrough have done well to lock him down to a new contract.

Cardiff City – A trio of talented loans plus players who featured in the lone Prem season two years ago mean Kieffer Moore is the unglamorous pick here. Moore has earned plaudits this season even as Neil Harris’ side have struggled but with Murphy, Tomlin, and Wilson providing service the Welsh forward has a real chance at 20 goals this season. And 20 goals mean EPL glances.

Birmingham – Ivan Sunjic came to St. Andrews with lofty expectations after been signed for a ‘massive fee’ by Championship standards and while he has not yet set the league on fire, he has been a firmly above average midfielder and possesses both an evolved passing range and bite in the tackle. Needs Birmingham to play more expansive football to start catching the eye more regularly.

Sheffield Wednesday –Slim pickings. And while games played are a tough drum to beat, Dominic Iorfa has 186 league appearances as a ‘young’ 25-year-old, versatile, English centerback. He was an England U-21 regular a few years ago and with Pulis in charge, Iorfa will get plenty of chances to put himself in the shop window.

Preston North End – A player with plenty of pedigree, Ryan Ledson seems to have finally come into his own after a few seasons of uncertainty. The youth caps indicate the talent has always been there but Ledson has found himself the subject of continued Alex Neil praise this season with the gaffer longing for his all-action displays to continue. Bonus points for crunching Harvey Elliott.

Huddersfield – David Wagner’s feisty Terriers squad seems so long ago and while the warning signs were always there, the cupboard looks oh-so-bare these days. Harry Toffolo has been in good form and Lewis O’Brien came through the academy, but Isaac Mbenza gets the nod. Not a lot to say. Has a burst of pace, Belgium U-21 caps, and an 8-goal Ligue 1 season with Montpellier. Still only 24.

Luton – Limited prospects here but a quick shoutout to Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Leicester) and Rhys Norrington Davies (Sheffield United) who both look like players. CROATIAN INTERNATIONAL Simon Sluga gets a surprise Hatters inclusion for the Hatters. That’s right, error-prone Simon Sluga has featured for World Cup finalist-Croatia three times (!!!) in the last two years. Case closed. Sluga, Sluga, Sluga.

Barnsley – Cauley Woodrow is showing signs of life as an ‘older head’ in a very, very young Barnsley side and Mads Andersen looks like a nice find out of the Danish Superliga, but Callum Styles is the long shot pick here. Small in stature, Styles has created some noise with his play this season with his screamer against NFFC to point to as evidence.
Wally #UTB


Mourinho was a success
Anu and Sean bring interesting perspectives on Mourinho. IMO Mourinho was successful at Old Trafford he won two trophies ,secured the highest number of points and one of only two podium finishes since Fergie left.I agree with Anu Ultimately he didn’t win the championship because of fate,In the form of Pep .Pep showed up at exactly the same time as he did and while he had the better team both where only separated by goals scored in the last seasons for Pelegrini/LVG .

Pep wisely chose the stronger team but utimately had to add a few things like Goal keepers, Defenders (he is still doing this ) and Leroy Sane.Jose might have come closer if his recruitment had been better,Ultimately Zlatan was great, but he also was obsessed with Perisic at the time when Rashord and Martial were already in position on the right,and shot himself in the foot by trying to keep 427 central defenders at the same time and then there’s Matic who can range from great to past it sometimes over a season sometimes in one game and Ignoring the issues we still have to this day, Right winger .Ultimately his waterloo at Utd, was the Virus he recruited who hopefully will leave in the next two windows.

Sean blames the media for his demise ,while there stance didn’t help him ultimately I think his general toxicity style of play, and him throwing his toys out of the pram when the funds for new defenders didn’t arrive, in addition to the virus he recruited were why why he got sacked.

So my overall opinion is I support Anu’s theory that he needs a good foundation but want to add that he has been in the right place at the right time ,his title wins occurred when Benfica where going through a lean spell and Mario Jardel was basically powering Sporting lisbon (for Porto).He won in his 1st Chelsea spell at the end of the premierships bloodiest civil war, Arrived at Inter when Milan were in decline and Juve had been decimated by Calciopoli ,Came to Spain just when Barca players would have got tired of Listening to Pep and returned to Chelsea when there was no Alpha team due to Fergie’s departure. He would have been best served joining Utd maybe after Ole has done a bit more recruitment.


Captains and leaders
As a United supporter I actually hope Jose wins the title with Spurs. I did want him to go at the end of all that happened during his last year – but it wasn’t all his fault. I think the players respect and listen to him at Spurs and do what he asks on the pitch. Kane being a leader in the dressing room and the pitch clearly sets an example on how to work under him. I don’t think Jose is the same as he was at Chelsea (first spell) because now people know a lot about him (and his insecurities – so he’s less sure of himself) and his systems. He’s best managing an underdog team or who don’t expect to win things very quickly. He likes when the attention isn’t on his team to win (he loves the attention for himself though!)– Porto, Chelsea, Inter. Didn’t do so well at Real and United. I expect a bunch of emails questioning this or even giving examples of exceptions during his career. He’s a great coach and I’m not taking that away from him.

At United – we still don’t have a captain on the field. Maguire is a very good defender and a leader but isn’t really captain material. The breed of captains like – Keane, Gerrard, Terry – it’s really dead I think. We do have some players who still lead the team like that on the pitch – Hendo is an example. But it’s more of a rarity. Antonio Valencia was United’s captain. He’s a leader for sure but was he really a captain? That’s why United won’t win the league (They did well when Ibra was in the dressing room). Recent confession from Rooney come into mind that he wanted to impress the likes of Giggs/Keane more than Fergie himself.

That’s why City won’t win too. They might win a trophy here and there just because their team is crazy talented. They might have (have they) replaced Kompany the defender but they haven’t really replaced his leadership.

Chelsea will do well but they lack a captain too I think. It’s really between Liverpool and Spurs I feel.

I might be contradicting myself because Kane isn’t a captain who’s shouting orders at his team either. But then his world class play brings the team in. We all know Lloris will step up if the team isn’t trying hard enough (Son incident). They have strong characters in the dressing room. And with a manager like Mourinho – it’s better to have a different kind of presence on the pitch.

Solskjaer will probably not be sacked and I feel United will somehow get to the Quarters of the Champions League (esp. if they finish group winners) and finish 4th again. They’ll finish 4th really because Arsenal are doing worse under Arteta and Leicester don’t have the steam for a full season. The reason why OIe won’t be sacked is the reason why Mourinho didn’t win anything with United – Director of Football (or the lack thereof), Ed Woodword, Glazers and all the reasons we’ve been talking of since Fergie left. Solskjaer might actually be a better tactician than we think he is, he might actually be scary to someone like Lingard or Fred. But do you think if Rashford or Martial or Maguire have an off day – that they’ll really be scared of facing him in the dressing room? Fernandes was right to be miffed at Lindelof (what game was that?) for a defensive error – but immediately it was in the news in the form of dressing room unhappiness. Basically no one is scary enough in the team to be able to push players to exceed limits. They players don’t seem to be consistently motivated to produce the best every time they step on the pitch (I could be wrong on this but looks like that) or there’s no playing philosophy drilled into them by the manager/coach.

We should try and get West Ham’s manager. Look what he’s done with that team and they’re clearly overachieving. I think David Moyes would be great for United. He looks scary too. Oh wait – they’ve tried that already.

But really they need to get in either Ralph Hasenhuttl (it’s a tougher last name than Solskjaer too!) or Pochettino or anyone who knows how to coach a team with such talent.


The real winner
I think it’s time to talk about the real winner this weekend. I took an 8 point hit to bring in Fernandes (C), Jota and Zouma at the expense of Rodriguez, Willian and Alexander-Arnold.

This management lark is easy.
Niallio, Dublin

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