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So f***ing angry about Man United
How can Solskjær have a smile on his face at the end of that s***t last night! He needs to stick some dynamite up a lot of these players a***s because I can’t see them giving a s**t about anything on the pitch.
Don’t know about anyone else but why on earth doesn’t Solskjær get his backside off his comfy seat down to the pitch and start pointing out a few home truths to some of the players during the game. No point in having a f*****g luv in back in the dressing room because it won’t wash.
Let’s be honest, that side didn’t want to be on the pitch last night which sums up the current form of Rashford, Martial and Greenwood which is diabolical to say the least. Attitude is a disgrace and it’s now showing on some the brighter players who at least look like they give a s**t.
Get lost Ole let’s bring someone in who’s got some fire and wants to win trophies. And to those who say it’s still work in progress, f**k off!
Injuries are an issue
Far be it for me to defend a ludicrously flat display from United last night but something did strike me when I started to ponder why Ole had played such a pragmatic midfield pairing (Matic and Fred) against a team who, despite being at home, are after all managed by Roy Hodgson and therefore are likely to sit back.
Loading up the injury table it was illuminating to see that Pogba, Van De Beek and Mata were all unavailable meaning there were only four available players for the midfield three. For the record it would have been wiser in hindsight to start with McTominay given he has a greater propensity to break into the box. I then noticed that the teams who had looked pretty good recently only had a couple of injuries to contend with at the current time – City (1), Chelsea (2), Spurs (1) are some key examples. Whereas Leicester with six in an already small squad, Liverpool with their well reported long term injuries primarily in one area of the pitch as well as others such as Newcastle and Southampton show that the injury situation in a squad may well be having a greater impact on performances than usual.
Why? Fairly simple. With so many games coming thick and fast, rotation is more important than ever. If you lose the ability to rotate you are then in a downward spiral of running the remaining players into the ground which inevitably will lead to more injuries and/or fatigue. This is not some plea for sympathy, especially for the top clubs, however merely an observation that the ability and bravery of managers to rotate throughout the season before their players become ragged has probably played more of a factor this season than ever before. Something Pep has shown great willingness to do in the past and is probably a big factor behind their current outrageous form. Contrast this with Ole (already has previous during Project Restart for not rotating) and Klopp who also has a reputation for sticking with the same XI.
Low blocks are not a new invention
I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about certain big clubs struggling to play against low blocks. This has been quite a common theme in the mailbox this season with mainly Liverpool and Manchester United fans complaining about this. Quite often the diagnosis has been for the coach to find a way to play against teams that sit deep and generally play negatively while waiting for their chance to hit on the counter.
I’m a bit confused about this – haven’t the smaller clubs always played this way against the big boys? I started watching the Premier League circa 1998 and even then many teams tended to put 10 men behind the ball and sit deep when playing the top clubs. If I recall correctly, that was pretty much the norm and it often made for very turgid football. If anything, teams playing the low block these days are a lot less negative than the ones who employed those tactics in the past.
Am I missing something? Why are people talking about this like it’s a recent tactic that coaches need to adjust to?
Turiyo Damascene, Kigali, Rwanda
Why so easily impressed?
Now, can anyone explain to me why when a footballer scores a goal, or makes a save or a tackle, commentators are amazed by their incredible skill. Maybe I’m wrong but aren’t these men paid on average £40k a WEEK to play football? They are supposed to be able to hit the goal with a kick, or trap a ball, or pass to another bloke a few feet away! In reality most should be practicing the basics a lot more. Most don’t even bother working at using both feet! In fact, they’re crap and most of your readers could do a better job for half the dosh.
Mails on Man City and money
My God, is there anything more annoying than a City fan playing the “we don’t pay record transfer fees” card??
Yes, Liverpool paid £75m for VVD & City have never paid that much for a defender.
But Gomez, Matip, Phillips and Ben Davies cost £5m COMBINED.
Laporte who cost £63m.
Stones who cost £50m.
Dias who cost £60m.
Ake who cost £36m.
Eric Garcia who cost £20m.
Citys bench on Saturday v West Ham was worth over £300m yet City could still start Ederson, Stones, Dias, KDB, Fernandinho, Aguero and Mahrez.
Mendy on the bench cost £50m.
Liverpool’s four full backs of TAA, Williams, Tsimikas and Robertson cost £30m COMBINED.
Yes, you don’t break transfer records but no team on the planet has as many squad players who cost between £30m and £65m.
…The Grudge MCFC decries overly simple explanations of City’s finances while offering up a defence that is at best naive. This new narrative of “forget the billions of unearned income that where poured into the club to make us an elite club we are in fact just better at business than you” is almost admirably one eyed.
If I had a business that sold cans of warm p!ss and a Saudi Prince poured billions into it and then gave me Tim Cook as a manager it’d be successful.
All City fans (and sadly Winty) twisting and turning and whataboutery cannot separate City’s dominance from the finances. A team that was middling at best does not get to here with sponsorship alone.
…The Gruge brings up the wages argument but they’re simply not a like for like comparison when you consider the fact that non-playing staff are not included in City’s wage bill but are included in the other clubs’. That can amount to millions, particularly when you think of the executive positions. Then there’s the habit (admitted to by Mancini) of paying wages from entities other than City so that they don’t show up on the FFP books…..maybe that’s why City players are almost never transfer linked to other clubs in the way that the best players elsewhere are?
Finally, there’s the whole ‘Image Rights’ farrago…
You can read in more detail here (head down to Project Longbow) but the gist of it is that generally around 15% of what clubs pay players is to do with image rights but City sold those rights to a new company they created in 2013 to shift about £10m p.a. off their books meaning that they could both declare an income for the sale and reduce expenses going forward. That new company sold the rights, on the same day, to a Guernsey based Sports Management company but they then agreed to cover any losses that they incurred. So they’re basically continuing to pay image rights to the players but it’s off-book.
You can suggest that they use their money a lot better than everyone else but in reality they’ve circumvented the rules to give themselves an unfair advantage, and that’s before we get into the inflated sponsorship deals from friends and family of the owners that they got away with on a technicality at CAS.
James Outram, Wirral
…Like Gruge, I too did a cursory google regarding teams’ respective salary costs.
The thing I googled was ‘Mancini Salary Man City’. The first link was a well publicised story about how his salary that appeared on City’s books was £1.45m, but he was also paid £1.75m for a consultancy role by Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club which, shock horror, also appears to belong to the same owners! Imagine what he could have achieved at City if he didn’t dedicate so much time to the cultural club!
Now, that was historic, yes. But it illustrates a point – how much stock do you really put in City’s published numbers?
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Apparently, they have just three players who earn more than 150k a week. That’s at Man City, a club with a Facebook following less than a third of the size of United’s and a Twitter following that’s 40% of the size – playing for a less supported club meaning their exposure is smaller and they should, in theory, be less attractive to sponsors.
What the hell is keeping all those world-class players there?
Maybe they’re all happy to be underpaid because they care about the sporting project? Maybe Fernandinho was glued to his TV growing up dreaming of playing under the bright lights of Maine Road, like every little kid growing up in Londrina… maybe ikay Gundogan finds Moonchester the Alien too gosh darn endearing to ask for a pay rise…
The amount United pay some of their players is ridiculous, laughing stock, absolutely. Not the point of this email. The point is, if Mancini’s money was coming from somewhere else, or if the sponsorship money was coming from somewhere else (sorry – time barred, I withdraw the comment) why on earth should anyone believe the salary cost you quote is accurate, or any sort of indicator of their relative success…
You think it’s just Man City?
Jon and others should probably take a look at themselves and the other large Premier League clubs before continuing a rant against City.
The claim that “no other club” has the commercial deals that City have arranged is easily dismissed by a whole 30 seconds looking at the excellent Swiss Ramble page which helpfully sets out commercial income for dozens of sides. City have a large commercial income, but not wildly different from the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and still well below United. Then the tiresome trope that these are “dodgy” despite CAS and PwC as well as City’s own auditors concluding these are market value and finding no evidence of any backhanders.
Another valuable 30 seconds of his time could be spent looking at City’s major sponsors, which include Etihad but also those famously Abu Dhabi companies SAP, Marathon, Xylem, Nissan, Wix (Israeli as it happens), Nexen…and wondering whether these (and other) multinationals with a duty to ensure shareholder value are inflating contracts for no commercial reason? Even the Abu Dhabi based sponsors will likely see clear commercial reasons for sponsoring a club with with a extremely high profile in Abu Dhabi and invest in these sponsorship deals accordingly.
The fans of these other teams might look at their own sides’ failures to reach the Champions League on regular occasions, whereas City have been in it every year for a decade. You can’t be instrumental in setting up a tournament to hoard broadcast income (looking at you Liverpool, United, Arsenal) and then whine when a club amasses large amounts of that income by qualifying for it when you failed to do so. You created this self perpetuating money tree, where winning the tournament is less important than qualifying for it – and you have to live with it.
This peculiar selected amnesia around income, ownership and individuals owning/being involved with clubs is also interesting. Liverpool fans wander around town with Standard Chartered on their chests whilst their players, staff and directors happily take the money from an organisation that has had “interesting” attitudes towards funnelling money for oppressive regimes. Similarly United happily hoover up commercial income from the Russian state airline whilst that state climbs steadily up the Human Rights Watch tables. You can’t abdicate responsibility by saying “we only take the money, we’re not owned by them”. Where’s the line? The Standard Chartered deal is £160m, is the line, by any chance, £161m?
Coming back to underhand dealings, by claiming that managers are paid twice he is really struggling when they rely on an accusations concerning one individual – a decade ago – for which the courts found no evidence beyond an email that referred to a consultancy contract which was happily made public at the time and continued beyond Mancini’s time at City.
As others have said, City’s owners (an investment company, not the state) are indeed linked to a regime that has a worryingly dark side – but you can’t pretend they are unique in having close links and indeed significant income from equally morally dubious sources. What City are better at is spending that money – and even making that money available to the manager rather than spiriting it away to hedge fund owners and propping up failing businesses in the US. They are failings unique to those clubs and fans of these clubs are no different to City’s in having little to no influence on who owns these clubs and the beds those owners choose to lie in.
Manchester is blue
I remember Sir Alex making a pun at the unveiling of a Tevez poster in Manchester, the noisy neighbors had landed, starting off with the statement signing of Robinho, the noisy neighbors have come along way from then. From having to buy average players at exorbitant prices (Adebayor, Dzeko et al) and seeing young talent stagnate (Michael Johnson) the Manchester City project has seen many ups and downs over the past decade.
The thing though is that that they have always invested in the right ingredients and are now a super club. Apart from Chelsea’s wholly unsustainable model of trying to please their Russian Owner, City are the only club with vast resources that has actually broken the glass ceiling. Wolves, QPR, Malaga, Valencia to name a few have all been part of huge take overs by big money but the same have not seen much change, with wolves in particular, doing just enough each season to keep us interested for the next.
It’s also important to understand that City have always had a very balanced approach and have progressed organically ever since the Abu D take over back in 2008. Granted there have been splurges every now and then but mostly the targets brought in have been long term investments (Silva, Aguero and Kompany) with a view to building a sustainable team. Going from 10th to 5th to 3rd and eventually 1st in 2012. Subsequently, winning the title 4 more times till date.
They have never been impatient, giving each manager sufficient time and money to make their mark going from Mark Hughes to Mancini to Pellegrini and now Pep. This all has a whiff of meticulous planning and competence.
The point I am trying to make is that money alone is not enough, it still requires effort, vision and hard work to get somewhere. Kudos to the management of the team in sky blue because kids these days don’t remember Giggs, Scholes or Keane they remember Aguerooooooooooooooo because like it or not Manchester is now blue and rightly so!
On Crystal Palace and their wages
Last night’s slog was tough on everyone, but as a Palace fan I had the double frustration of hearing the commentary team express their disbelief that Palace have so many players whose contracts expire at the end of this season, along with the manager’s, with none currently slated for renewal.
Martin Tyler and Gary Neville seemed to think this indicated a lack of ambition, despite stating that we have the oldest starting 11 in the league, as well as the oldest manager. As Tyler highlighted, this is our most successful Premier League season after 26 games (drink it in!), but we went out of both cups at the first hurdle and – this crucial point rarely seems to be mentioned – we have the seventh highest wage bill in the Premier League.
Seventh highest. Crystal Palace. Nearly £85m. That is roughly four times Leeds’ wage bill and a clear £10m more than Leciester’s. Can anyone really argue that we are getting value for that outlay?
In the context of no matchday revenue, and for a club with a history of nearly going to the wall under the tanning booth-bronzed bellend Simon Jordan, this is ridiculous. We have to start making some savings, and not renewing contracts for ageing players on fat wages is sensible. We need a refresh and to make some room on the wage bill. Tyler and Neville were seemingly transmitting their opinions from an alternate dimension where Covid didn’t hit and everyone aboard the dangerously accelerating Premier League gravy train could keep pretending that a sharp turn and a harsh derailment isn’t somewhere on the horizon.
I’d like to have a club to support in the future and spending big on the nirvana of finishing 14th and crashing early out of the cups every year isn’t worth the risk of financial implosion. Palace, and increasingly the league as a whole, is an elephant’s graveyard of players who would be earning a fraction of their wage in other leagues. A fair few of them are good players, but there is a financial as well as sporting impact from having no fans in the stadium and the tv deal is predicted to shrink by another half a billion for 2022-25. It would be nice if the pundits would be up front about this and cut out the Comical Ali nonsense. We can see the tanks of crippling financial reality rolling relentlessly into shot behind them.
Maybe Craig Gardner could do a job for Man United after all…
All hail Ross Turnbull
Reading wurzel’s mail on will we see modern footballers end up in management made me think of Ross Turnbull working at Hartlepool as goalkeeping coach originally for free. The Athletic had a fantastic interview piece with Turnbull, going into detail everything he does for Hartlepool including being the club’s scout, opposition analyst and basically groundsman keeping football’s pumped and equipment clean. This is a man who while never a world beater made a very comfortable living while playing for clubs like Middlesbrough and Chelsea of course, while not Ronaldo or Messi he was involved at the highest level and now does the work he dies because he just enjoys his work in football not for financial gains and I think that is what will drive the most successful managers regardless of money or how successful their own playing careers were. It takes dedication and a passion for what you do to succeed in football regardless of weather your involved with Hartlepool or Bayern Munich. I thought it was a great insight into the mind of a former professional who loves and lives the sport, a fantastic article I highly recommend if you have the opportunity to read it.
Aaron CFC Ireland (now also a Hartlepool fan)
Prehistoric computer football
Thank you Stevie Dallas for reminding me of Match Day II and its super cheesy tactics. My friend and I spent countless hours teaming up against the “AI” (I use the term loosely) on the ZX Spectrum. Much like Man Utd vs Palace, the game was played at walking pace, and one of us would stroll upfield and push the goalie out of the way, jamming him against the post, while the other rolled the ball into the empty net. Unlike Ole’s tactics, it worked every time.
Still, having players you could push around was an improvement on Match Day I, in which the first person to score would always win, because he could spend the entire rest of the match standing still with the ball bouncing endlessly on one immovable player’s head.
All you kids today, moaning about some update that’s marginally upset the balance in FIFA or Pro Evo or whatever, you don’t know how good you’ve got it.
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