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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Is This The Closest Premier League Race Ever?

Written by on February 16, 2014 | 63 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League

This was a FA Cup weekend but with the top four clubs drawn against each other it was hard to escape the grasp of the Premier League. When the league reached the half-way stage during the packed holiday schedule many pundits pointed to at least seven teams that had a realistic chance of winnining the 2014 Premier League

Here is a look at the Premier League table on December 29, 2013.To read more please click on the link?


63 Responses to “Is This The Closest Premier League Race Ever?”

  1. Seattle Loon says:

    Fascinating article.. Interesting parsing the numbers to see how consistent the top five teams have been since January 1. Over 7 games (six for Man City) they gained the following number of points:

    – Chelsea = 17
    – Liverpool = 17
    – Spurs = 16
    – Arsenal = 14
    – Man City = 13 (game in hand)

    Does anyone think the next round of Champion’s League games will have a bearing on the title? Something tells me all the clubs above would love to see Man City (Bayern Munich) and Arsenal (Barcelona) overcome stiff odds.

    One final comment away from the EPL. Anyone else think Southampton’s decision to play such a weakened team in the FA Cup against Sunderland was bizarre? They should safely finish in the top ten, had a full week to recover and the Cup seemed an attainable goal especially as so few strong teams were going to be left in the quarter-final draw.

    Probably doesn’t much for non-UK raised fans but they devaluation of the FA Cup is a really, really sad thing to witness.

  2. Southampton were massively disappointing. Missed two really good chances and overall a very sloppy display.

  3. Ed Gomes says:

    I really don’t care if it’s close, as long as it’s exciting. The run for first should be great, especially if City and/or Arsenal drop out of the CL.
    The run for fourth could also be great. Keep in mind that 4th means a CL Qualifier, and those have become much more difficult.
    The real excitement could come at the bottom if the table.

    I too was disappointed with Southampton. I was hoping they would advance.

    On a side note, will a Man United loss Wednesday cause a Moyes resignation?

  4. Smiley says:

    ED – SAF won’t allow Moyes to resign… this season, we have been over this a hundred times.

    PS Have you ever seen an “exciting” race for the title with over a 6 point gap between first and second? Any close race is inherently exciting no?

  5. Ed Gomes says:

    Sometimes it can be. It all depends onn matchups.
    The leader could take the foot off the pedal and a hungry desperate team could make it very interesting.
    I agree with Mourinho when he said that it’s the matches with the also-rans that will decide the title.

    With City most likely out if the CL, they should turn it on fir the league title. Shame on them if they don’t. Let me add its tough here Kompany say how Barca was there for the taking yet City didn’t go after it. I don’t mind the tactics, but there was no rush or urgency in countering. Can take anything from anyone if a draw was all you were looking for.
    Barca had to be a bit relieved that they were able to knock it about as a defensive measure. I for one hate watching Barca play if they’re not in the mood and attacking. Watching a back pass all day, gets tedious. Especially if the opponents aren’t countering at pace.

    If Man United don’t advance in the CL, he has to resign. Please.

  6. Astronomer says:

    Ed Gomes,
    For the last month or so, you have been relentlessly asking or wishing for Moyes’s resignation.

    But why would he? From a purely financial sense, it would not make sense for him to resign.

    Isn’t it the case that if a manager resigns (as opposed to being fired), he forgoes a large amount of money in compensation?

    Maybe I am mistaken about this, but all the time I hear about fired managers (especially with top club and national teams) getting several million dollars in compensation when they are given the pink slip.

    So, financially speaking, it is better to get fired than to resign. Why would it be different for Moyes?

    ______________________________________________

  7. Ed Gomes says:

    Astro, I don’t disagree with that notion. But if he’s as dim as he’s showing to be on the futebol acumen, maybe he’ll just walk away.
    Just hoping, that’s all.

  8. Seattle_Loon says:

    David Moyes and Man Utd’s terrible transition overall after SAF’s retirement has been the biggest factor as to why it’s been such an exciting EPL this season.

    As a Liverpool fan I’d love them to make top four. But given the the financial clout of the four richest clubs in England I would sadly say that this would be a one-year blip.

    More evidence today with Rooney’s new contract reportedly at close to $500k (US) per week. High wages attract the best players which far more often than not translates to success on the field. Liverpool and Spurs can’t compete with Man Utd, Man City and Arsenal long term. Hence, temporary weakness this season from Man U opens the door for others but for how long?

    By the way, for someone occasionally (and falsely) portrayed as a dimwit Ronney has shown incredible shrewdness renegotiating his contract when Man Utd are at such a low ebb.

  9. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Seattle Loon

    Rooney was shrewd enough to employ Paul Stretford as his agent. ;-)

  10. Alberta Gooner says:

    Oh and I largely agree with your post but there are examples of cash-rich clubs that don’t make their financial muscle count on the pitch. So while I agree Liverpool have something of a reprieve this season due to the transition, United will need to get it right in the summer window, both in which players are let go and what players are brought in. It’s amazing they committed to a five-and-a-half-year deal on a high-mileage player with Rooney’s lifestyle issues. Add to the fact he currently occupies the same position that is preferred by Moyes’ first two major signings and it strikes me as a move right out of the Freddy Shepherd business plan at Newcastle United. That’s no guarantee they’ll bottle it this summer but it should give Liverpool fans some hope!

  11. Ed Gomes says:

    I agree AG. Money is just one of the pieces. Due to how many pieces Man United needs, that can be debated, it could all go horribly wrong. Hence my biggest concern is Moyes himself. If he’s allowed to build a team in his image, it could get ugly fast.
    It was necessary to give Rooney the new deal, because of the marketing and stability aspect. But, Man United will need to spend, and if they aren’t able to harness that talent appropriately, it won’t matter.

    As for Liverpool, they still have European clout and earning that CL spot will go a long way in getting that back. I for one don’t underestimate Liverpools commercial earning power.

  12. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    What does building a team in his image mean, exactly? If you think it’s a reference to his days at Everton, he never had the resources that will be available to him at Manchester United. Much of Fleet Street and many, many gooners made the same mistake when Arsene “Who?” arrived at Arsenal and I recall more than a few doubters when Alex Ferguson arrived at Manchester United from Aberdeen.

    Moyes was chosen as Sir Alex’s successor because he demonstrated his long-term commitment to a project at Everton and he had a very successful track record of developing young players. That’s something the other much mooted candidate for United, Jose Mourinho, has never shown in his career, and I had to laugh when people seriously advanced him as a candidate. His track record in both areas is terrible. He’s not demonstrated the ability to stick around at any club in the long-term and has fallen out with hierarchy and large sections of the dressing room. They didn’t want somebody like Mourinho to ruin Januzaj, which is understandable.

    Some of the comments about Moyes being under pressure or being forced out simply beggar belief. It suggests the fact United gave him a six-year contract is lost on his critics, who don’t grasp the significance of that commitment. He’ll get time and supporters need to be patient. If they can, they might as well take their plastic flags and find another club to support, which will almost certainly play in blue.

    Any United supporter who judges Moyes on his work this year needs to take a deep breath and honestly assess the playing squad and Moyes’ dilemma. Could he really make the necessary cull after they had won the Premier League under the most successful manager in the club’s history? Or did the players need to play their way out? I think everybody understood this was going to be a transitional year, which is why you don’t see either the board or well-informed supporters making dumbassed suggestions that Moyes needs to do anything other than make his assessments of who will stay and who will go and draw up his list of transfer targets for this summer. Then he’ll be given an opportunity to win – or lose — with a squad that he’s shaped. That’s why he received a six-year deal.

    United are in an enviable position because they do mint cash and can afford a period out of the Champions League and still pay top dollar. I’m quite certain they will be monitoring the contract talks involving Gundogan, Kroos, Matuidi and other midfield targets and will be significant players in the auction for Porto’s massive central defender Mangala.

  13. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, I couldn’t disagree more.
    “Moyes was chosen as Sir Alex’s successor because he demonstrated his long-term commitment to a project at Everton and he had a very successful track record of developing young players.”
    Who cares? This is Man United we’re talking about.
    If a player is good enough, he’ll play. Period.

    My biggest issue with Moyes, is the way the club has been set up and played. When I say, “in his image”, I’m basing it on the way the club has been set up tactically. You had and still have a Man united squad that looks “limp”. They are more worried about getting back to a spot defensively, then just playing.
    I’m sorry, but all those crosses mean something. I understand the tactic, but when it doesn’t work, how didn’t Moyes see it and change things up?

    I get it, Moyes is going to get plenty of time to build the club. But to give someone a free pass, because he’s replacing a legend, is foolish. Yes, it’s a transition year, but this team shouldn’t look anywhere near this bad.
    I feel that Moyes has his way of playing, and it doesn’t fit a Man United caliber club. I don’t think he’s shown the acumen to lead a big club.
    Some signs;
    – No in match tactical changes (more often than not).
    – Team selection and positioning
    – Choosing Vidic as his captain for the remainder of the year, when he’s leaving.
    – Evra is due to go as well, but not a sniff for a possible replacement. Where’s the youngster development there?
    – Fellaini was regarded as a big (Moyes type of player) signing.
    Just my opinion.
    I could be completely wrong, but I don’t trust Moyes has a manager or a talent evaluator. A world of difference earning and being praised over a draw verse a top club, to having to beat the top clubs consistently.

    On a side note;
    I’m Portuguese, but I’ve never been a Mourinho fan as a person. I had the pleasure or displeasure to meet him personally, and didn’t care for him. But I do respect him as a manager.
    To say Mourinho doesn’t care for youth, is not quite correct.
    Examples;
    – He sat Pepe at Real for Varane
    – Morata got more than just a sniff at playing time
    – He kept Oscar instead of Mata
    – He’s brought in Salah
    All Mourinho cares about is quality. Yes he’s plays mind games with his own players and tries to mold them. Young players tend to crumble, if not mentally strong enough.
    I didn’t want him at Man united, because of that “burn out” factor you mentioned. I’m curious to see how long he’ll stay put this time.

  14. Seattle_Loon says:

    I have and continue to find the appointment of David Moyes baffling. His suitability for the job seems to mainly hinge on a very superficial likeness to Sir Alex Ferguson. Otherwise you are left scratching your head. No history of winning anything, a terrible record in games against the best domestic opposition and very little European experience. The latter area being arguably the one place SAF’s successor could reasonably be expected to improve.

  15. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    Your analysis seems to absolve most of United’s senior players of any responsibility for some piss-poor performances. Some of the defending has been abject from senior players on a lot of money.

    I’ll note you did not respond to my point about Moyes being unable to enact a purge of a squad that won the league at a canter but now appears to be in need of profound surgery so I’ll assume you grasp that point.

    And yes, it’s Manchester United and if you’ve followed the club for more than five minutes and know their history, you’ll see there is a tradition of developing young players. And that’s probably more important today given the regulations in the Premier League and Champions League regarding home-grown talent.

    And, sorry, but Mourinho’s track record with youngsters is terrible. I’m not talking about buying young players with proven pedigrees for 30m pounds, as they did with Oscar, a purchase made prior to Mourinho’s arrival. I’m talking about his work with Joe Cole and John Obi Mikel in his first run with Chelsea as well as Mario Balotelli and Davide Santon at Inter. As far as Varane goes, he made all of 24 league appearances under Mourinho in two seasons. Morata had 13 appearance in the same time period. That hardly makes them ever-presents. Oh and Mourinho was in open warfare with the youth team coaches at Madrid, wasn’t he? So please contrast that with what Moyes did at Everton was bring along Rooney, Barkley and Rodwell from the youth set-up into the first team. Oh and helped Leighton Baines blossom from a journeyman into an England international. That’s more blooded youngsters than Mourinho in his entire career. He’s a chequebook manager who has won with top talent purchased at top prices relative to his competitors.

    You may not rate Moyes as a talent evaluator. Sir Alex Ferguson does. So does the United board. That’s why he was given a six-year contract. If you are a United fan, get used to him in the technical area because he isn’t leaving anytime soon. He will be given substantial funds to re-make the squad in the summer. Then judge him on the players of his choosing. Until then, it’s going to be difficult to assess as he was operating on an entirely different budget at Everton.

    I’ll add one last point. Ferguson probably knew it was the right time to retire because the squad required major surgery and he did ask United supporters to stand by the manager in his valedictory. It’s more than amusing for those of us who remember United before Beetface pitched up to hear the whinging from all the plastics in the Home Counties and beyond about United being terrible when they have never seen them experience anything but trophies. Their patience and support are going to be tested because it’s probably going to take a couple of years or so.

    And while I hope Arsenal demonstrates better succession planning than Wenger inviting his chosen successor to his house three weeks before he announces his retirement, I suspect our club will go through the same bumps. Then all the little Chicken Littles who began supporting us during the Invincibles season and have spent the past eight years clucking for Wenger’s head are going to get their wish. And their comeuppance when they find out what United “supporters” are discovering now in the post-Ferguson era.

  16. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    He’s operated in a very different level up until now. As I told Ed, judge him on this summer’s work. I don’t know whether he’ll succeed or fail but he should be judged on his work with a squad of his choosing, not Fergie’s holdovers, who’ve aged poorly.

    I don’t buy the notion that he’s tactically limited, either. He set up United away to Arsenal in the same way that Mourinho did. He was condemned for it while Mourinho was hailed as a genius for taking a point.

  17. everwonthetreble says:

    AG:
    Sure you’re not United, mate? Excellent analysis once again.

    I’m curious to know when @Ed started supporting United. Seems like a 99 supporter from Essex or Kent. Maybe even Devon.

  18. Alberta Gooner says:

    @EWTT

    lol, not a chance of that! In fact, I’ve seen the same kind of plastic johnny-come-lately set moan similar things about Wenger at our club. And actually I have to credit you for correctly forecasting this a couple of seasons or so back, when I believe you said United would definitely go through a period of decline once Ferguson retired. I’m not certain Moyes will succeed or not but the idea of judging him on this season or his time at Everton is ridiculous. I’ll admit I’m more and more impressed about how easily United won the league last year with largely the same group, minus Fellani and Januzaj but you can see how several senior players are not playing at the same standard and that’s down to the players, particularly given their experience and wage packets.

    I know Fergie probably didn’t leave United in great shape. As you’ve stated, allowing Pogba to slip away ranks as one of his biggest mistakes. It’s down to Moyes to address that. The good news is there will be top quality players who are might be available in the summer (Kroos, Matuidi, Gundogan).

    I often wonder whether Obi Mikel has any regrets about picking Chelsea over United and whether he would have fulfilled the enormous potential he displayed at the u-17 World Cup and u-20 World Cup in the Netherlands, where he rivalled Lionel Messi as the tournament’s best player, under Fergie’s tutelage. Mourinho ruined that kid. Just criminal.

  19. Ed Gomes says:

    I started following Man United when I was 18 years old, I’m turning 46 this year.
    To be truthful, I started rooting for Man United mostly because they share the monicker of Red Devils with Benfica, my club. The biggest reason might have been my dislike of Liverpool.

    I don’t absolve the senior players at all. But, it’s up to the new manager, no matter who he is, to get them to buy in to his tactics. All we’ve seen so far is a squad that looks disjointed out on the field.
    I’m sorry, but I don’t think that Moyes has the acumen to lead a top club. We’ll see.

    When money is no issue, is building from within that necessary? How long before Barkley will be joining a big club?
    Please don’t bring up FFP rules. Lets wait and see how they’ll be enforced.

  20. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    So you’ve been following them for almost 30 years. You must have heard of the Busby Babes or George Best. You would have actually seen Norman Whiteside, Lee Sharpe, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, the Neville brothers and others move through the academy into the first team. And you dismiss the notion that Manchester United would want a manager with a proven track record of developing young players? You need to learn a little more about the club you claim to support.

    You might or might not be right about Moyes but judging him now makes you no better than the legion of Chicken Littles at my club who’ve been clucking about Arsenal’s “decline” under Wenger. And the vast majority of those are fairly recent “supporters” so it’s easy for somebody like EWTT to dismiss as a Home Counties plastic based on your comments in this thread. Most older supporters who were around for Ferguson’s start at the club would exercise a little more patience.

    If money is no issue, it’s interesting that the two most successful clubs in Europe in recent years, Barcelona and Bayern, have built their squads around homegrown cores.

    And I wasn’t talking about FFP — I was talking about the rules, which are very much enforced, about clubs needing a certain number of homegrown players for the Premier League and UEFA.

    http://www.premierleague.com/en-gb/fans/faqs/home-grown-player-rule.html

  21. Seattle_Loon says:

    Playing Devil’s advocate here – I am not sure how relevant developing young players is now for the top English clubs. As the EPL has become richer it appears that it’s a safer strategy to buy success. Ironically that leads to the EPL’s hottest current striker Daniel Sturridge proving himself at Liverpool after not getting a chance at Man City or Chelsea. Wenger has done a better job than anyone else, Chelsea’s best young players rarely get a chance at their own club and Man Utd have Cleverly and Janujaz (mis-spelt?) in their squad. Man City look like Chelsea.

    I’d take a punt that the transfer window this summer will demonstrate this further. If Southampton’s best youngsters and those of other teams (worldwide) end up at Old Trafford, The Eitahd and Stamford Bridge. And maybe the Emirates.

    Which brings me back to Moyes? Why select a manager with such limited European experience when the one area in which Utd can improve is the Champion’s League? Someone with no experience of managing the ego’s and expectations of a massive club? With such a poor record in games against the largest domestic rivals? If he had checked 1 or 2 of these boxes then maybe yes but none?

  22. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, these are different times. People keep saying, buying a title. I say smart business, of you’re able to do it. If you have the means, and the right personnel (key) making decisions, why not buy.
    There will always be homegrown talent throughout clubs, it’s the nature of good business. By the way I consider Cristiano a home grown talent for Man United. Sporting might have discovered him, but it was at Man United that he developed.

    There was always going to be a down period after SAF. My biggest issue with. Moyes is that he hasn’t shown the capability to manage. He seems to know his way, and has no acumen for in game changes. Whether he the first after SAF or the fifth, you would like to have seen some flexibility. I don’t want to call it innovation, because that’s not needed. Just try something different when it’s clearly gone wrong. I’m not even asking for game to game changes, let’s see some in game changes. Again we’ll see.

    I’ve already stated how I’m not a huge Mourinho fan, but do you think Porto, Chelsea, Inter or even Real are upset at what was accomplished at each club.
    Success can be defined a million different ways. I for one believe Wenger and Arsenal have been extremely successful. I have just felt that they could have maintained their fiscal policy and still won a trophy or two. Arsenal has had tremendous talent and a very good manager, but just fell short.

    By the way I’m sorry if I don’t qualify has my clubs historian, although I’m very well versed on Benfica. I’ve never claimed to be an expert, just offering an opinion.
    I love futebol but I’m a sports fan. I love football and basketball, baseball, etc… So much so, that I still play in basketball and futebol leagues.

  23. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    You could make all of the same arguments of Brendan Rodgers. No European pedigree No record of beating top domestic rivals. How has that worked out for Liverpool?

    You could make the same “lack of experience” argument when Pep Guardiola was appointed by Barcelona. Clubs have a different check list than fans or media when they select a manager, too. While I’m not guaranteeing Moyes will get it right in the summer, it’s a little early to judge him. United’s board understands this, which is why they gave him a six-year deal. I don’t think he’ll have six years to turn it around but he’s going to receive the opportunity to succeed or fail with a squad of his choosing, not the one he inherited that looks a little short of expectations at Old Trafford.

    Finally, I’d suggest United’s history demonstrates a commitment to more of the Bayern-Barca-Ajax model that’s currently being followed by Arsenal rather than the Manchester City-Chelsea “sugar daddy” model, which is unsustainable in the long term, as demonstrated by what happened to Blackburn Rovers in less than 20 years after being atop English football.

  24. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    I’m sure Cristiano considers himself a home-grown United player, too, though he wouldn’t qualify as one under either Premier League or UEFA rules.

    I’m a little unclear about how Moyes comes up short in terms of “in game” management. I’ll give two recent examples, the draws against Fulham at home and Arsenal away.

    Against Fulham, Moyes was widely derided for United’s failure to change tactics despite dominating possession and seeing his striker Robin van Persie pass up a clear opportunity at an open goal. He saw both Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher fail to track Steve Sidwell on Fulham’s opener. That’s not on the manager. His job is to put the players in the right position. That happened. It’s on them if they fail to execute. On Fulham’s injury-time leveller, there were three individual mistakes — starting with Vidic’s weak clearance — that led to Bent’s equalizer. Again, those are mistakes made by senior players on big money. They were in the right position and failed to execute.

    At the Emirates, Moyes set up his side completely different and obtained the same result that Jose Mourinho did. The difference was Moyes was criticized for being timid while Mourinho was lauded for being cagey. So I don’t buy your criticism about Moyes’ tactical acumen.

    You might not be a Mourinho fan. You would be joined by many Interistas — who have seen the effect of Jose’s chequebook management and reliance on older players since his departure — and many Madristas, who view him as a failure given the amount of resources provided and trophies won. As well as alienating the pro-Real press corps, the youth teams and a large section of the first team squad.

    You are free to offer an opinion as a fan, just as I am. I’m explaining why I find criticism of Moyes’ transfer policy is a little too early in the day and the dismissal his tactical acumen is rubbish based on a narrative shaped by negative media coverage rather than what actually is happened on the field.

    I’ve coached select youth sides and have obtained coaching licenses up to the B level and some of the mistakes in the United back four by defenders on a lot of money would be unacceptable at the u-16 level. That’s on them, not Moyes.

  25. everwonthetreble says:

    Ed:
    I won’t play the game of “Who Knows the Club Better” with you. You would lose and that would actually miss the point I’ve been trying to make with a number of supporters I know, who along with myself, have supported the club even longer.

    I really feel for are the supporters who don’t have any recollection of who managed before Fergie. They’ve only known success and have nothing to fall back on for these types of seasons. United had success for so long that even supporters who have been around as long as I have the barren times. But if you’re a long time supporter, patience should be relatively easy. We’ve seen this before, right? Actually we’ve seen worse. Short of United getting relegated, what’s the worse that could happen? They finish 7th or 8th for a couple of seasons. Been there, bought the T-shirt. Gimme a break, mate. Relax.

    I can’t completely discredit your thoughts on Moyes. There is certainly something there that I don’t quite like myself and is a worry going forward. @AG made some correct and interesting points on the Fulham match but your points about Moyes tactics aren’t far off either. There is a gaping whole in the AM position that Mata should have been able to exploit given how Fulham were set up which was largely 4-4-2ish. They wanted United to go wide and made it difficult for them to do so in pressing both Evra and Young when the ball was in their possession. The early goal, which @AG is 100% correct on, only exacerbated United’s approach. He needs to introduce a different approach. I think we can agree on that. Yet, who with? Remember, its a team game. If you put an attacking lineup with slow defenders, who covers for them? Bottom line…he needs a midfield. Someone who won’t be mentioned allowed one of the most promising midfielders in the world to got to Turin. Moyes should be given a chance to get that or those types of players in and then we should judge him.

    Not sure if you caught the Crystal Palace match but statistically, United had a very good match. High possession, high pass success, there wasn’t a great deal of crossing and Fellani had one of his better performances. It was nothing to right home about but if any other club had come there and won in the same fashion we would be hearing about it still. There are glimpses of Moyes managerial ability that I’ve seen and he should be given the opportunity to develop that with support in the transfer market.

  26. Ed Gomes says:

    You’re right I only know success.
    AG you are also right that the players aren’t performing.
    But it’s a managers job to get the best out of them.
    How does he give the armband to Vidic for the rest of the season, when he knew Vidic was leaving. Never mind being sat down for poor performances.
    I still don’t understand the new Nani deal. Hoping that’s not on Moyes.

    The reason Moyes gets no credit for the job he did against Arsenal is because of the clubs form at the time. It just became another limp performance.
    Mourinho was deemed successful, because the way he manages and approached the match. I personally didn’t treated it a success.

    As for Inter fans, none would trade the Treble for stability now. The club has financial issues due to the new investor/owner being corrupt and money got tied up. Shocker.
    Truth be told, the bigger problem at Inter is that Serie A no longer has 4 CL spots. They have to finish in the top 3 for CL play, and the qualifiers have become much harder.
    As for Real, unless they win everything all the time, it’s deemed a failure. Same goes for Barca and Bayern. Clubs that dominate their leagues are expected to continue to do so, especially with the revenue that’s generated. For me Mourinho wasn’t a success at Real and should have accomplished more.

    Listen, I may be overreacting, but I’m not a crazy who stomps his feet and cuts people loose right away. Hopefully Moyes will prove me wrong and be successful at Man United. I’m just worried that if he does build a team in his image we will have a poor performing club. Top four will get harder, especially if Liverpool continues fighting for and succeeding in the CL. By succeeding I mean advancing.

  27. Seattle_Loon says:

    Probably the bigger issue with Man Utd and Moyes is the question of the whole transition. Man Utd lost Sir Alex Ferguson, his whole coaching staff and the club’s Chief Executive simultaneously. What other business (especially a publicly-traded one) would abdicate responsibility like that? In that context what has followed is a lot more understandable.

    The wider context makes it very unlikely that Moyes can ever enjoy the success of Ferguson irregardless of how much Man Utd spend. Chelsea under Mourinho are a different proposition, Man City are making an effort to replicate the Barca set-up and structure, Arsenal have improved and shown a willingness to spend and Liverpool look greatly improved. Beyond that the influx of Foreign TV money (split equally amongst all EPL clubs) means lesser clubs are improving too.

    Will he get it right? Man Utd’s willingness to accede to Rooney’s wage demands show the club are definitely going to back him. The issue of Rooney becoming the defacto club ambassador as part of this contract tickles me. Someone who was this close to joining their Man City rivals for more money a few seasons ago?

  28. Alberta Gooner says:

    Some interesting points made in this thread. I’ll say this. Every single intelligent and well-informed United supporter that I know has expressed more doubts about the Glazers’ willingness to stump up the required cash to remake the first-team squad than they have about Moyes’ abilities as a talentspotter and tactician.

    Seattle Loon’s point about the transition pangs being even more pronounced due to the departure of David Gill and many of Fergie’s loyalists on the staff is a very astute one as is handing him the armband after twice publicly agitating for moves to leave the club.

    I agree with Ed about the Nani extension, which seems strange. I disagree with Ed about how Interistas view Mourinho’s time at the club and the shape he left it in. He brought in experienced players on huge wages and crippled the club. He also alienated their two brightest young talents in Balotelli and Santon. It was a huge gamble and it paid off in part because Inter’s chief rivals had been crippled by the calciopoli scandal so he didn’t need to worry about challenges domestically and could focus on bringing in the Champions League. He left the club with a Champions League trophy and unable to compete in the future so there is a pretty serious debate about his legacy in Milan.

    Finally, it’s one thing to make the top four. It’s quite another to stay there. Ask Manchester City about that. It takes a lot of time to find your feet in Europe. If Liverpool make the top four, they might not find it easy. They won’t have a high UEFA co-efficient and will likely find themselves in a tough group. And if they finish fourth and face qualification, there are no guarantees. David Moyes would know all about that.

    As I’ve stated before, I’m not suggesting Moyes is a lock to turn it around. I am suggesting it’s a little early to pass judgment on him. He’s made some good decisions, particularly in how he’s handled Januzag, and some not so great ones. He’s had his hands tied to a degree by his predecessor and that legacy. For example, I’m hearing Patrice Evra has played enough games to trigger an automatic one-year renewal IF he chooses to exercise that option. That’s being reported by Duncan Castles, who is pretty reputable. What it suggests is they may keep Evra around. I’m pretty sure they are looking at Luke Shaw and if you are bringing in a teenaged left back for big money, who would you entrust with his development, David Moyes or Jose Mourinho? Based on their respective track records with developing young players, there’s only one proper answer to that question.

  29. Ed Gomes says:

    I heard a pundit say;
    “Man United will be disappointed in that performance”.
    It was said after the latest loss verse Olympiacos.
    For me it was another limp performance. I’ll agree with anyone that states that Man United need an influx of talent, but please don’t tell me they should be this bad. The players need to be held accountable, but where’s the response from the bench? The manager is letting them get away with it.
    The blank stares all over the field from the players can’t be lost on the manager.
    Oh yeah, starting Ferdinand after he played a full match over the weekend was brilliant.
    I’ve read how some are pointing to RVP’s miss. Really? A miss at the 85th minute, while down 2-0, was critical.

    Although I’ve been very critical of Moyes, I’ve never been one to ask for managers sacking so quickly. My issue is that we see nothing that shows any type of promised. Nothing has changed this whole season. There hasn’t been anything that says this club is showing promise and is turning it around.

    I only hope that this match actually wakes them up. A big quick up you know what, is what they need. I’m just happy that we won’t have to hear Moyes say how well they played in spite of the loss.

    Sorry for the mini rant. I know let’s give him time.

  30. Seattle_Loon says:

    AG

    The answer to your last question is surely: Brendan Rodgers:)

    The transformation of Raheem Sterling is amazing. From an extremely fast headless chicken to the semblance of a good all-round player at the tender age of 19 is either miraculous or very flukey.

    I don’t want to be premature but today’s result against Olympiakos has to be some sort of catalyst for Moyes either way at Utd. The thing that continues to strike me about Utd presently is how few chances they are creating. The days of the SAF onslaught are a distant memory. Something looks seriously wrong in the final third. They didn’t play badly against Crystal Palace on Saturday but until Evra was fouled the origin of a goal looked murky.

  31. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    Moyes’ tactics will be tried and found wanting by the “has-been and never-were” brigade in the post-mortem but it wasn’t tactics that caused Robin van Persie to blaze over fhe bar while unmarked in the box. And 2-1 is one hell of a lot different than 2-0.

    And Carrick’s defending on Campbell’s goal was simply atrocious. That’s what happens when you get square to an attacker that you are jockeying. It’s stuff that 11-year olds on a select team would understand. Get low and use your body position to “show” him away from the goal. After embarrassing Carrick, Campbell still had a lot to do and it was a smashing finish but still. God, I’d have ripped out all my hair if I were Angry Dave at this point in the season. The fact it was a senior player makes it even more inexcusable to get skinned like that in that area of the pitch.

    There may be some legitimate questions about the team selection and how they were set up. The bottom line is the players didn’t perform. Moyes has a six-year deal. Most of them don’t have that kind of job security and they are doing a great job of playing their way out of his plans and the club.

  32. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    Hahaha! Brilliant answer to that question! Rodgers does deserve credit for Sterling but also in how he’s coaxed the best out Henderson, Sturridge and Coutinho. Flanagan appears to be finding his feet in the first team as well. It’s almost Arsenal-esque!

    And yeah, this result sure as the look of some kind of nadir. It wasn’t just the result. The performance was abject. On Twitter, Gab Marcotti said Olympiakos midfielder Devlin N’Dinga “is good. But not that good. Yet tonight they’re making him look like the love-child of Roy Keane + Patrick Vieira.”

    Again you can credit Fergie for wringing out the performances he did with largely the same group but some of his stalwarts have aged poorly. Carrick was dreadful — this is the worst I can remember seeing him in a long time. Given the potential availability of Kroos, Gundogan and Matuidi this summer, I suspect this will be priority one for Moyes.

  33. everwonthetreble says:

    Ed:
    So what are you proposing the club do?
    Who should they bring in? Is there enough money? Let’s see if you’ve done your homework.
    Will the Glazers spend any more?
    When should they bring a new manager in, this year or next?
    Is anybody available?
    What’s the criteria for getting the job?
    Do you want an entire new philosophy built on transfer dealings or do you want a manager to bring along youth?
    Who is available out there that has a long term philosophy based on bringing in young players, working with older players brought into the club, or both? How much should they pay him and for how many years?
    How much will it cost to get rid of Moyes?
    Will his sacking directly impact transfer spending or wages at the club?
    How will his sacking reflect on the share price?

    Do you really want to come up with these answers? Of course you don’t and neither do the rest of the United “supporters” who think like you.

    If you honestly believed that they were going to just tick along after Fergie retired then you completely underestimated the quality at the very top of the PL and how much Fergie meant to Manchester United’s dominance. Your expectations for United this season would have been drastically lowered if you believed even one of these to be true.

    Get yourself ready. It will get worse before it gets better but sacking Moyes will only compound the problem which is emphatically not all his fault. I can provide you countless examples when you’re ready.

  34. Ed Gomes says:

    Last time I checked I was a fan. I’m not being paid to make those decisions.
    That being said, I’ve mentioned that I’m not a believer in firing managers right away. Frankly, I expect Moyes to play out the season, if he doesn’t resign.
    What I would like for the club to do is to look hard at what’s taking place now. I agree that the players aren’t performing and an influx is talent is needed. But please take a look at how Moyes hasn’t gotten more from these players. Also, since he needs to make up the club “in his image”, we should see gradual improvement on the field, as players get acclimated. . Yet all we see is what has taken place all campaign long.

    The Glazers know they have a commercial bonanza with Man United, and have a lot of guaranteed money coming in. If they should not spend, Man United will get a lot worse before getting better.
    All I’m asking is for the owners to take a look at the whole organization, before letting the status quo remain.

    A few examples;
    At Porto Perreira was let go, even though they won the league in dramatic fashion, because the President didn’t see the same commitment on the training ground he had seen in previous seasons with other managers.

    I would also like to congratulate Liverpool in being able to be Top 4 contenders while not having CL money or clout. Hanging onto Suarez was key as was the signing of Coutinho. If they get there back line sorted out, you can only see improvement for the club.

    I don’t see the same for Man United with this bunch.

    Lastly, I don’t get the fascination with Moyes. Is it because he stayed at Everton so long when he could have moved on? Is he like the young prodigy that has come up the managerial ranks?
    What if we’re four years in, and he failed miserably, would that be ok? We gave him time. I’m going by the eye test, and right now that’s not very pleasant.

  35. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    What I’m saying is your eye exam is a little premature. Liverpool are in the top four because they stuck with Brendan Rodgers after finishing seventh last season.

    His first few buys – Joe Allen, Fabio Borini, Oussama Assaidi — didn’t inspire a lot of confidence but he found his feet in the transfer market in January when he brought in Sturridge and Coutinho.

    He’s brought along Sterling while coaxing the best out of Jordan Henderson, who was previously viewed as an expensive flop.

    He also needed to clean out the deadwood that accumulated from the previous regimes.

    I’ll repeat myself — Moyes needs a chance to win with a squad of his choosing. And just so we’re clear — MOYES NEEDS A CHANCE TO WIN WITH A SQUAD OF HIS CHOOSING.

    The Glazers understand this. Sir Alex Ferguson, who won with this bunch, understands this. EverWonTheTreble and other long-time United supporters understand this. That’s why they are holding their mud and reserving their judgments. If the summer window yields something along the lines of Shaw, Mangala, Kroos/Gundogan, Matuidi and another quality player, I’ll think they’ll be happy, though they’ll still withhold their assessment until they see how it comes together on the pitch — they are not Spur and don’t make dumbassed crowing based on their transfer business prior to the start of the season.

    And none of this guarantees Moyes will succeed. You might or might not be right. You are definitely way too earlier in writing off the manager.

    Oh and there ought to be a little irony that this is coming from a longtime Arsenal supporter who has disliked Untied ever since Brian McClair kicked Nigel Winterburn on the ground, something you might be aware about if you’ve supported United for as long as you claim. But I do respect the club and what they’ve done. Moreover, I’ve had to put up with a bunch of snivelling, squalling Chicken Littles for the past few years infecting this forum and others with similar whinging about Arsene Wenger, who needed to go because, well, they won the league with Arsenal while playing FIFA on their Gameboys or whatever so it had to be easy. It wasn’t, though for entirely different reasons than Moyes has to face. Relax. Take a deep breath. Give him time. Because he’s not leaving. And it will improve you as a supporter to see your club struggle a bit. You’ll learn to love the club in an entirely different way when they are not winning all the gongs.

  36. Seattle_Loon says:

    Interesting the comparison of Brendan Rodgers and David Moyes. If Moyes is to improve in the short run he needs to figure out what Rodgers has at Liverpool – how do you accommodate two first rate strikers in a team. RVP and Rooney aren’t working particularly well together. As RVP indicated after the game last night in a Dutch TV interview he and Rooney like to play in the same areas.

    Rodgers has done a brilliant job of getting his players to buy into his plan. Who would have guessed that he could convince Suarez to play wider (and Steven Gerrard to start as the most defensive midfielder)?

    It strikes me that Rooney’s new contract makes this task tougher for Moyes. Part of it seems to recognise that after years of doing so that Rooney is no longer content to play 2nd fiddle to anyone.

  37. Ed Gomes says:

    AG, I get it. I had similar battles with Benfica fans who wanted JJ out. I held my ground in keeping him, due to quality of club despite lack of Silverware. Benfica, in my eyes, is a great European club but I understand we’re a “selling” club. JJ has been able to develop great transfers that have enriched our coffers.

    My biggest concern is that Moyes has gotten the current crop of players to buy in. They are actually playing the way he wants them to, and this is what we’re getting.
    If you recall in earlier posts, I commented on how players were running to defensive positions instead of reacting appropriately. It was as if it was drilled into them, on where to go. Nothing has seemed to change from that.
    Him picking Vidic as Captain, when he’s leaving also points to him not having a clear grasp of the club. It just doesn’t make any sense.

    I get it, give him time. He needs to build his team. I’m just afraid that will be a disaster.

    I also don’t want to compare Liverpool’s situation to Man United’s. By all accounts Liverpool had to build slowly due to finances. The way the Fenway Group has lost hundreds of millions in this economic downturn.
    I see Man United actually spending the money, and I’m not confident the person spending it is capable.

    AG, I have been critical of Wenger and Arsenal in their dealings. I thought they could have brought in a Hazard, Wilian, Khedira, Matic, etc…, in order to get them over the hump. I’ve always thought they lacked leadership and it really hurt them, in defining matches. I just thought they could and should have won something in the last few years.

    I’ll stop now.

  38. Seattle_Loon says:

    On the subject of Arsenal is it fair to say they’ve been hindered not helped by the majority ownership of Stan Kroenke who through his multiple sports franchise ownerships has shown a strong preference for profits over success?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/15/sports/soccer/15owner.html?_r=0

  39. everwonthetreble says:

    Ed:
    “I get it, give him time. He needs to build his team. I’m just afraid that will be a disaster.”

    A disaster would be relegation. One or two seasons of being in mid table? Mate, welcome to supporting your club. I know many of us have forgotten how to do that but trust me, judging by your thoughts and many others, a few seasons of this will be good for us. If you’ve supported the club, as you long as you claim, you’ll understand this situation has happened before. Draw on that and keep some perspective, which clearly you didn’t manage to do while United were abnormally successful under Ferguson.

    “Him picking Vidic as Captain, when he’s leaving also points to him not having a clear grasp of the club. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

    Why are you getting caught up on who he gives the armband to? You think that really makes a difference when they’re overrun in midfield because the previous regime decided it would be best to let one the best young talents in midfield head to Turin? Does his decision become magnified when Rooney doesn’t give Carrick a passing option when he receives the ball from deep as has been the case many many times this season? Worry about the things worth worrying about.

    You’re in the ball park mate when you question his tactics. I’ve seen quite a bit of Everton and I had the same feelings about his philosophy as you do now and whether it would transfer over. However, I feel quite strongly that the players at his disposal have underperformed or have needed replacing for a while. He takes some responsibility, I’ll grant you that, but you are completely and utterly wrong to put the current situation all on him. Stop it.

    “I see Man United actually spending the money, and I’m not confident the person spending it is capable.”

    To be honest, I’m quite shocked they’ve spent as much as they have. One was Moyes (Fellani) the other was a statement by the management (Mata). The person “spending it,” as you put it, is not a dumbass. Matuidi is no longer available but if Kroos, Gundogan, or someone in their class are available and he decides to buy one of them, how confident will you feel then? Which brings it full circle to the point AG and I are trying to make…deep breath, keep some perspective as tough as it is, and allow him to operate.

  40. Seattle_Loon says:

    He is and was the wrong choice.

    No experience of managing a mega club especially re:expectations and ego’s.
    Preferred playing style in direct opposition to traditional of SAF and club.
    Limited European experience – the one area UTD could hope to improve
    Appalling record in games against toughest opponents (Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool)

    I just don’t see how you can contradict any of that. At the very least a six year contract seems illogical.

    I don’t want to be childish and say as a Liverpool fan long may he continue but he’s definitely made English football more interesting this season.

  41. Ed Gomes says:

    “Ed:
    “I get it, give him time. He needs to build his team. I’m just afraid that will be a disaster.”
    A disaster would be relegation. One or two seasons of being in mid table? Mate, welcome to supporting your club. I know many of us have forgotten how to do that but trust me, judging by your thoughts and many others, a few seasons of this will be good for us.”

    This is Man United, arguably as big in the world as Real and Barca. Mid Table finish? What?
    I’m sorry, I would understand fighting for 4th, but mid table?
    Again, this is Man United. Not being pompous, just reality. Please don’t go and bring up Leeds or Pompey or Blackburn. They are in a whole different level economically. Man United can afford to make mistakes, that’s the power of a “World Class Club”. By the way, Arsenal, with its new deals, can afford to make a few mistakes in the transfer market.
    The issue with mid table, is that it doesn’t draw. The club loses out on substantial european revenue and obvious clout. Mid table doesn’t allow you to draw big time talent.
    Liverpool was fortunate that they obtained a great talent in Suarez, who by the way came cheaper due to his on field issues in Holland.

    I’m sorry, I don’t believe I’m not a “real fan” unless I experience mid table. If it happens, so be it. But that doesn’t mean it should and be better for the club.

    Oh yeah, what did this great youngster developer named Moyes do with Zaha?

    I’m willing to accept that I may be overreacting a bit, but please, turning a blind eye to what is happening is just as foolish.

  42. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    Agree with you about Rooney’s deal tying Moyes’ hands to a degree. As I stated, one of his biggest decisions will involve RvP.

    If you look at United’s record when Rooney and RvP are playing together, it’s actually pretty good. They’ve struggled when one or the other have been out of the side.

    I don’t buy Kroenke’s track record with American sports franchises, which operate in an entirely different financial frameworks, is relevant to his English football club.

  43. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    A couple of points by way of response.

    United are not Benfica so I’m not entirely sure why you would compare the fans wanting to oust Jorge Jesus with United plastics wanting to rid themselves of Moyes.

    I disagree with you about Moyes getting the current players to buy in. The way Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand defended against Joel Campbell is — most assuredly — not how David Moyes would have instructed them to play. There were some basic fundamental errors that would be unacceptable at the schoolboy level. That’s not buying into a system — that’s two senior players made costly mistakes that allowed Campbell to score. These errors regularly feature in United performances and have cost them points. It’s why an overhaul is necessary. If Moyes brings in his own guys and we see the same errors, well, then I’m suspect EWTT and other United supporters would wonder what the hell is going on at training and what’s being said in his team talks.

    I’ll give you another example. Go back to the Spurs game where Adebayor scored the opener after United dominated the opening. Have a look at Chris Smalling, who was defending him. He wasn’t in a bad position. He didn’t jump with him and that’s not on David Moyes. In most instances, players are not in bad positions. They fail to execute. That’s not on Moyes. That’s on the players.

    When I look at Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young, I’m not seeing the same level of performances as in past years. Is that on Moyes for not being able to motivate them? Maybe, but those players were already slipping last year under Fergie so I’d argue it’s diminished returns.

    I would argue Vidic losing the armband would carry a lot of risk. I don’t think the captaincy is as big of a deal as the fact Vidic has also slipped significantly.

    I’m not going to bother dealing with your thoughts on Arsenal, Ed, largely because I think you probably should spend a little more time focused on learning about your own club before you try to tackle the “problems” you’ve identified at another one by touting unrealistic solutions after the fact.

  44. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    Oh and if Moyes was the wrong choice because he never managed a “big” club, what does that say about Liverpool choosing Brendan Rodgers? They aren’t a big club so they could pick a manager who has never managed at a big club? That Liverpool have the same expectations as Swansea City or Reading?

    It’s too early to judge him just yet. Just like it was too early to judge Rodgers based on last year’s seventh place finish.

  45. Seattle_Loon says:

    AG

    Don’t know if the vacancies at Old Trafford and Anfield are comparable. Rodgers has benefitted from taking over a club with lowered expectations and after a period of relative turmoil. Moyes took over in exactly the opposite circumstances.

    Again being Spock-like, why select a manager with such little relevant experience when you could in theory approach anyone? One whose prefered playing style and timidity in big games is the exact opposite of SAF’s and that of the traditions of the club? And to compound things you allow no stability by changing your CEO and entire back room staff at the same time.

    To call the transition post SAF amateurish is an understatement. Being selfish Liverpool will probably get one season of Champion’s League football they wouldn’t otherwise get.

    I was genuinely curious about Kroenke. Unsure of the relevance also.

  46. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    Your first point about the differing circumstances is a fair one.

    Speaking to your second point, I think they did look far and wide before deciding on Moyes based on his track record of being able to develop young talent, his demonstrated long-term stability at Everton and his familiarity with the footballing culture of the northwest. What we don’t know is whether the club had any other managers on its short list and whether they approached any other candidates.

    I’m not sure I get this “timidity” narrative about Moyes’ days at Everton. Gabriele Marcotti made some legitimate criticisms of how he set up United Tuesday night and suggested he wants to see Moyes manage United with the same élan that he guided Everton.

    http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/championsleague/id/814?cc=5901

    I agree United botched the transition but changing the CEO at the same time can’t be blamed on Moyes. He might regret the decision to cut ties with so many of the holdovers on the coaching/technical staff to smooth the transition.

    It will be interesting to see how Liverpool handle Champions League given their lack of European involvement and Rodgers’ lack of experience in that arena.

    As far as Kroenke goes, North American franchise sports operate under vastly different financial frameworks than English football clubs. You’ve have to try hard, very hard, to lose money as an NFL owner given their deals for media rights, merchandising and salary caps. It’s much more balanced in that the team with the worst record gets the top pick. I don’t think any comparison is particularly helpful.

    For me, Kroenke appears far more interested in property development than football but he’s given Wenger free rein to run the club as he sees fit. If we failed to win, Kroenke is the last person to blame. We have 100 million pounds available to spend in the summer. It’s down to Wenger to decide what he wants to do. Guillem Balague told Sky Sports that suggested Morata has agreed to move to Arsenal and will agitate for a move.

    http://www.101greatgoals.com/blog/alvaro-morata-will-join-arsenal-this-summer-if-gunners-can-agree-fee-with-real-madrid-guillem-balague/

    We’re still being linked with Julian Draxler at 44.5m euros as well as Mario Balotelli. Though Campbell’s sensational goal, abetted by some abject defending from Carrick and Ferdinand, may give Wenger some food for thought. Whatever Wenger decides to do, money won’t be an issue.

  47. Ed Gomes says:

    I hope I can learn enough, so I can meet your expectations.

  48. Seattle_Loon says:

    AG

    I would love a rule where clubs had to field 3 players under 23 every game. Will never happen but it would make the game more interesting and significantly help with youth development.

    How many Sturridges are there out there who no longer get a chance because the stakes are so high and managers accordingly are willing to take so few chances?

  49. Ed Gomes says:

    I think that Sturridge is getting a great opportunity. He’s only 24 years old and his prime should come in three years. Liverpool has done a great job with this, wether by choice or necessity.
    Arsenal has also been great in integrating young talent with veterans.
    Chelsea’s future is bright due to the younger talent. Same goes for the Spurs if they’re able to hang onto them.
    Only City is comprised of mostly players at their prime and it could go south in a two or three years.

    Love the following. Not a Nani fan, but Young is special.

    http://balls.ie/football/highlights-video-man-united-players-hate-shinji-kagawa/

    I know, a match video can be edited to make anyone look bad or good. But this is from 29 minutes of play.
    Yes, I also noticed Kagawa sending it wide.
    Game planning at its best.

  50. Alberta Gooner says:

    @SL

    I’m not sure. Some clubs, particularly my own, would not have problems with this rule but I’m curious about why you would set it at age 23 as opposed to another birthdate. Players develop at different rates. Keepers and defenders tend to develop later in their careers than strikers and wingers. I think the intent of a policy would be admirable but I also think it would be very difficult to find agreement. Some clubs in a relegation scrap might exploit the rule to pull what Mick McCarthy did a few years back when his side visited Old Trafford and fielded his reserve side because they had little or no hope of winning the match. After all the wails about the homegrown rules, clubs found their way around it.

    Successful clubs will always integrate young players into their plans. Some will make it, others won’t. Some will hit their peaks before 23 and fade because they become comfortable with the rewards of the game and lack the drive to kick on. David Bentley would be a case study in this. So, too, would Jermaine Pennant.

    As far as Sturridge goes, there were definite questions about his maturity and temperment. Manchester City wanted him to stay but he wanted a substantial pay hike that the club clearly felt was out of line so he moved to Chelsea and was lost in the shuffle. Credit Liverpool for the ability to see that and bring him through.

    Finally I happen to think if Josh McEachern, to name one player, has his development retarded by a lack of first-team opportunities at Chelsea, it’s down to him to force a move to a club where he can realize his potential. That’s what Romelu Lukaku apparently did when he wasn’t guaranteed a place at Chelsea. There’s no guarantee McEachern would have made it. I can list dozens of promising Arsenal youngsters who looked like world-beaters at 17 but fizzled. That’s not down to a lack of opportunities. That’s because they simply found their ceiling and no policy like the one you are proposing would change that.

    Finally, in the interest of full disclosure based on my comments here, I did write a lengthy post on why Manchester United should have considered Carlo Ancelotti to replace Sir Alex Ferguson on my own blog. I’m not going to repost it here but I’ll provide link in case you are interested in reading it.

    http://www.soccerphilia.com/?p=4031

  51. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    That’s a pretty fair synopsis of where the top sides currently sit. Manchester United used to have a great balance of youngsters, players in their prime and greybeards. The core of Fergie’s last side has aged, though. I think the lack of spending finally caught up with them. You saw it even last year. The difference was their chief rivals were not nearly good enough and RvP wasn’t on the shelf nearly as much as he is this year. But Vidic, Evra, Ferdinand and Valencia, in particular, looked poor at times last season, too. That’s gotten worse this year.

    If FFP rules are strictly enforced, City’s biggest issue is going to come in replacing Yaya Toure, who is 31 in May and has a lot of miles on him. Next year is an African Cup of Nations, too.

  52. Ed Gomes says:

    I still don’t think FFP will be “strictly” enforced. Truth be told, it’s the smaller clubs punching, but surviving, above their weight which will suffer.
    Big clubs, especially ones that are backed by owners with multiple assets and relationships, could always set up deals and repay through other dealings.
    Even Monaco, can go ahead and make their lowly stadium a luxury box venue. Only the very wealthy and corporations will be able to afford with limited sitting for the current less than 10,000 fans that go watch.
    All I’m saying, is that I’ll believe in FFP when I see it.

    Let me add another way that FFP can be circumvented. It’s rumored that Chelsea has a backdoor deal for 19 year old Markovic that’s at Benfica. The deal has been made with the player, his agents (LIAN Sports) and Benfica. Basically he’ll move to Chelsea after spending two campaigns at Benfica, and the fee will be around one or two million. Benfica gets the services of a young dynamic player, that will help in winning titles and draw future transfers. This has been making the rounds in Portugal.

    The other thing that may help circumvent FFP rules, is Agents buying players outright from clubs. Jorge Mendes, has gone ahead and bought Andre Gomes for 15 million euros and Rodrigo for 30 million euros from Benfica. This removes all agent fees for future deals, and it could set up temporary rich “loan” deals more easily.
    Yes an agent will want to get his, but now he gets it all regardless.

    Interesting point with Yaya. I believe his deal runs through 2017. I wonder if a club like PSG, would take him on after next season, as a possible missing piece?
    City should have another two to three campaign run with this bunch. That would give them time to fill in youngsters around them.

    This offseason could be very interesting, depending final standings. Everyone can agree that Man United need to spend, but it’s fair to say that Arsenal, City and Liverpool, never mind Barca, will be trying to get the same type of player. They could all use upgrading at the back line.
    I wonder if the World Cup will take the sting out of transfers or heighten them.

  53. Seattle_Loon says:

    Agree on FFP. The bigger clubs will just be the best at circumventing it. Look at Man City already. Their latest trick is to buy a club in New York and Australia and then claim that monies paid by the new clubs back to Man City as revenue! If that is allowed to stand then Financial Fair Play will appear farcical to all.

  54. everwonthetreble says:

    SL:
    City’s trick is nothing compared to what PSG have done/is doing. If they’re allowed to continue on without some sort of massive sanction FFP will mean nothing.

    Ed:
    This is Man United, arguably as big in the world as Real and Barca. Mid Table finish? What?
    I’m sorry, I would understand fighting for 4th, but mid table?
    Again, this is Man United. Not being pompous, just reality.

    I’m surprised you didn’t end this with “we’ll do what we want.” What you know of Manchester United is sitting in the stands currently. I have a slightly different perspective given that I’ve supported the club longer and have vivid memories of when we were actually worse than this, and managed to hold a bit of perspective while we were highly successful. Sorry you haven’t ar’lad.

    “Please don’t go and bring up Leeds or Pompey or Blackburn. They are in a whole different level economically. Man United can afford to make mistakes, that’s the power of a “World Class Club”.”

    Wow. Been drinking the Kool-Aid since 2005, yeah? But you’re going to have to define what classifies a mistake for me. See, I see letting Pogba go as a mistake. Not adding to or replacing the midfield as a mistake. Loading the club with hundreds of millions of pounds of debt as a mistake. But that’s just me. You?

    “The issue with mid table, is that it doesn’t draw. The club loses out on substantial european revenue and obvious clout. Mid table doesn’t allow you to draw big time talent.

    Here…educate yourself: http://andersred.blogspot.com

    There will be a time when they aren’t able to afford top level talent. But that time isn’t now. You know what draws for players, though? Money and lots of it. United’s issue is that their failure to turn over the squad during Fergies’ time and the beginning of Moyes means they’ll be paying through the nose for most if not all the players they’re looking to bring in.

    “I’m sorry, I don’t believe I’m not a “real fan” unless I experience mid table. If it happens, so be it. But that doesn’t mean it should and be better for the club.”

    Real fan? Please…enlighten me on what a “real fan” is. I know “real fans.” Many of them were once, long time supporters who are now supporting FCUM because they vehemently opposed the way the club has been run. They’re not gonna sniff mid table in the PL any time soon but they sacrificed all of that because they wanted a club with principles, mate. You sack Moyes now, we’re no better than Chelsea or Spurs and I want nothing to do with the club that I’ve grown up supporting and whom I watched play home and away, turning into either of those types of clubs.

    Look mate, I don’t want you to be a fan. Be a supporter. Particularly one with some perspective which is the point I’m desperately trying to make to you as a fellow supporter. United don’t need any more fans. They’ve got 28.5 billion if you ask them and most of them reside in Asia. But I’m seeing that we’ve obviously lost quite a bit of supporters along the way. You and I want the same thing. We want United to be extremely successful. But take some advice from someone who grew up in the area and has seen much more than you with regard to the club. It will take some time but we’ll be fine.

    “Oh yeah, what did this great youngster developer named Moyes do with Zaha? I’m willing to accept that I may be overreacting a bit, but please, turning a blind eye to what is happening is just as foolish.”

    You must not have heard some of the rumors of the lad being rather involved in the Manchester nightlife. Well, there are those and I also heard he was sort of enjoying the lime light a bit much. But Moyes has done one better than what Fergie did with Pogba. One of them will becoming back to United. Take a guess as to which one.

    AG can back my claims on what I’ve said on Moyes even before he got to Carrington. Needless to say I was skeptical and I wouldn’t even fix my lips to say he’s been anything more than average at best. But if Pep, Klopp, or Mourinho came in they would all have needed new signings. Especially Klopp and Pep. Its no different with Moyes.

    Just so we’re clear, mate. We want the same thing but we don’t want to follow Chelsea, Bayern, Madrid, or Spurs. What did you say? “We’re Manchester United,” right? Lets do what WE want.

  55. Alberta Gooner says:

    All I can say about FFP is some clubs appear to have moderated their behaviour in advance of the audit committee’s reports on compliance, which are scheduled to be released in March. Oh and Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, United and others who have complied have made their position crystal clear to UEFA.

    The following links are useful for people who actually want to learn about Financial Fair Play.

    http://www.financialfairplay.co.uk/financial-fair-play-explained.php

    Here is the same author looking at how Manchester City will attempt to handle the regulations and why PSG might be in big trouble/

    http://www.financialfairplay.co.uk/latest-news/man-city-release-controversial-accounts

  56. Alberta Gooner says:

    @EWTT

    Excellent post. And yes, I can verify EWTT what has said about Moyes. Hell, going back a few years ago, I remember him talking about enjoying United winning then because he correctly forecasted the club would endure some lean years once Fergie left. I’m sure he’s sorry to have been proven right.

  57. Alberta Gooner says:

    Oh and David Conn has been reporting on Jorge Mendes and Peter Kenyon’s back-door dealings.

    http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jan/30/chelsea-links-third-party-ownership

    And I’m sure if a Fleet Street journalist is reporting on it, the game’s authorities are also looking at it, too.

  58. Ed Gomes says:

    EWTT, I happen to be a Benfica “Socio”. That’s my club.
    I root for Man United due to family, and frankly enjoyed following.
    I do love the sport, meaning I love watching all matches. I love watching quality matches. Yes, blow outs can be quality matches, just take a look at Real’s match verse Schalke.

    I understand you’re a supporter, and like you I don’t agree with the way the Glazers set up their Man united deal. It’s tricky and dangerous, but I also feel that the Man United brand is strong enough for it.
    I can take lean years, I’m just dumbfounded by the way the players and manager has looked. I blame both, and unless we see some sort of improvement on the field, I wouldn’t trust the Moyes regime with the rebuilding.

    AG, take a look at Neymar’s deal with Barca. It was laughable that Barca came out and paid an additional 13.5 million in taxes. The president, stated it was so they didn’t have to go and fight an injustice. Barca paid just so they didn’t have to fight a supposed injustice. LOL.

    there will always be someone that will find a way to circumvent the rules.

  59. Alberta Gooner says:

    @Ed

    I laughed about them calling it a “voluntary contribution” in cutting that deal.

  60. Ed Gomes says:

    “So they didn’t have to go through the injustice of the charge”
    Precious.

    Barca is looked at as the little engine that could, which is laughable.
    They went from UNICEF to Quatar Foundation, but it was ok because they were both “charitable organizations”. They were allowed to be the only team, ever, to be allowed to have two sponsors on their Champions League kit, since they were charitable foundations. A year later it’s Quatar Airways, yet it’s still being allowed.

    Big Club is a big club, and you don’t get there by being meek.

    How about Gaitan’s Paneka free kick. Can wait to see others try and get laughed at for failing.

  61. everwonthetreble says:

    Ed:
    Ah, ok. Well, as much as I would trust your knowledge of Benfica, trust mine with United. Much like you I love the sport and this season has allowed me to take a break from United and focus on just watching football. I lowered my expectations dramatically after Fergie retired and made it a point to just enjoy watching football.

    So with that said…any insight into this: http://www.football365.com/manchester-united/9192993/William-Carvalho-I-Might-Go-To-United-Or-Madrid

    I’ve seen him a few times but I wanted your thoughts figuring you would have seen much more of him.

  62. Ed Gomes says:

    William Carvalho is still very young. He’s only 21 and this is his first season in Sportings squad. He spent the last season and a half out on loan for Cercle Brugge in Belgium. He actually played quite a few matches at center back in the Jupiler League.
    Depending on the formation, he’s mainly a defensive mid. Even if listed as central mid, his main focus is sitting in front of CB’s. To his credit, he’s played very well, hence the sudden notoriety. Jardim, Sportings manager, has really gotten the most from him and the squad.

    For me, he’s still a bit raw. Not as good or accomplished on the ball as Matic, for example. He does read the game well, and that’s a good sign from someone so young. Sporting looks completely different without him supporting the back four, especially with the right and left backs getting upfield.
    He’s been linked with Man United (and Arsenal), but the clause is silly. Due to Sporting’s financial restraints, he could be had for much lower. Granted, if Porto keeps failing, Sporting will earn a CL Group Stage spot, and that could influence decisions.

    Carvalho has also played really well fro the U-19 and U-21 Portuguese squad. He’s expected to get a call up for the WC, but we’ll see what Bento does.
    Frankly, I don’t know. Could be a real gem, but it will take the right environment.
    I for one was a huge fan of Matic’s. He was highly coveted before heading to Benfica, and showed quality while playing as Javi Garcia’s backup. I don’t see that for Carvalho, yet.
    The more accomplished DM in Portugal would be Fernando at Porto. Although he’s also been shaky lately.
    On a side note, I was hoping that Man united would have gone after Matic. A defensive mid that good on the ball and could get forward. He could be a very good box to box mid. Nice touch from the back, and reads the game well.

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