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A depressed Chelsea fan writes…
I have watched all the Chelsea pre-season games culminating in the Charity Shield loss and I can’t see Conte staying very long this season.
It’s like we are playing a game of ‘hold my beer’ with Leicester for worst title defense with the shambles on and off the pitch.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse big signing debut than Morata’s against Arsenal; missed a decent chance, missed a sitter, missed a penalty, and looked clueless for 15 minutes on the pitch.
We have weakened the squad in every area and our key man Hazard is injured and won’t play for a while.
We needed wingbacks and haven’t bought one, we sold Chalobah and Ake after they have proven themselves capable of playing at a top level, we replaced Chalobah with Bakayoko who is injured and untested, we sold Matic and it now looks like we are thinking of replacing him with Drinkwater?
Who are the people making these decisions and why do they still have a job?
I think if we can get Guus Hiddink to come in and put his arms around the frozen out Costa we’ll make a fist of it but without Costa we’re going to struggle to get into Europe next season.
MJ in Los Angeles
Tottenham are being fattened up for sale…
Another concerned sorry fatigued Tottenham supporter once more rolling his eyes at the genius dealings of Daniel ‘Shrewd’ Levy. If you look up the definition of ‘shrewd’ in the Oxford English Dictionary it would surely say the following:
1) Sell your right-back to a rival for a very good price and at the same time not line up a replacement and wait for everyone to hike up their prices once your other right back gets injured;
2) Break 100K p.w. salary cap for the first time for Emmanuel ‘workaholic’ Adebayor;
3)Make your first offers of the transfer window near the end leaving the target player’s club no time to buy a replacement and with increased TV money the ability for them to politely decline Daniel’s said offer.
Before people throw back the ‘we are building a stadium’ line ENIC have been the lowest net spenders in the Premier League for years and Tottenham are being fattened up like a turkey on Thanksgiving to be sold to the highest US bidder.
The ‘Spursy’ aspect of the whole saga is we are the nearest to being genuine Premiership title contenders since it began, with our best manager since Burkenshaw and only a decent second striker (Hernandez? Iheanacho?), winger (Mahrez?) and a couple of others would complete the squad.
Let’s not forget due to injury and/or suspension Ali, Lamela and Son will be absent from the start of the Champions League.
Come on, Zuckerberg get your cash out and even I might open a Facebook account to tell the world how many Weetabix I had this morning – LOL “insert applicable emoji.”
David Harris, Sydney Australia not ‘Poitier’
Assessing the top six transfers (with pessimism)
Money well spent:
Kolasinac – Versatile, physical and seems well suited to the EPL. Scored on his debut and was free transfer too.
Lacazette – 129 goals in 275 matches for Lyon. Small, quick, great dribbler and excellent off the ball. If he can convert Arsenal’s creativity into goals his price tag will be look like a bargain.
Could end in tears: None yet but the transfer window is still open and this is Arsenal.
Money well spent:
Antonio Rudiger – German defender that has spent time playing for a top Italian club which is a mix that rarely breeds a dud.
Willy Caballero – Sold back-up goalkeeper with bags of experience.
Could end in tears:
Alvaro Morata – Few players transferred this season split opinion like this guy plus he wasn’t even Chelsea’s first choice. Overpriced on paper, talented certainly but is he suited to the EPL? Will he score as many goals as Diego Costa? I feel the answer is no to both.
Tiemoue Bakayoko – Young, raw, lots of potential but has his playing style is often described as a defensive midfielder who likes to get forward. That usually translates as lacks positional discipline and will leave his team woefully exposed on the counter attack. Kante will probably need to do some extra running this season if this is true (while pining for Matic).
Money well spent:
Andrew Robertson: Solid left back with EPL experience and only cost 8m which shows you can still get bargains in the current market.
Dominic Solanke – England Under-21 star, lots of potential and has a great chance to progress under Klopp. Should get quite a few chances to show what he’s got as Liverpool have the EPL and CL plus domestic cups to contend with this season (especially when Sturridge is injured which he is already).
Could end in tears:
Mohammed Salah – Failed at Chelsea, looked great in Italy but will have far less time and space to use his pace and trickery this season. He needs to have a productive start or this could be a very difficult season for him.
Money well spent:
Benjamin Mendy – Most expensive defender in history but also has the potential to be a world-class fullback and they come along very rarely these days (the only one in the world right now is Dani Alves who is 34 and still streets ahead of everybody else).
Danilo – Always looked good defensively and in attack when I’ve seen him play. Has CL experience. 6’0 tall and solidly built so shouldn’t be overawed by the extra physicality of the EPL either.
Could end in tears:
Ederson – A 35m goalkeeper few had ever heard off with no international caps from a country hardly known for producing top quality goalkeepers (except Taffarel). He’ll certainly have fun trying to catch crosses against West Brom. This has egg on Guardiola’s face written all over it.
Bernardo Silva – Tricky creative attacking midfielder that looks like a light breeze could knock him over. The same could be said for David Silva but he is very very special player indeed and the same trick rarely works twice.
Kyle Walker – Will he be terrible? No. Will he be the player we know that is fast, likes to get forward but can’t cross the ball or defend very well and will get caught out of position constantly? Yes. Will Danilo take his place after too many costly mistakes? Highly likely. Do even need to mention his price tag? Yes as it still sounds ridiculous post Neymar to PSG.
Money well spent:
Romela Lukaku – Proven EPL goal scorer and perfect for Jose’s system. Create and he will score lots of goals simple as that.
Nemanja Matic – A Jose favorite, 2 EPL titles, disciplined and knows what his job will be to the letter. Will allow Pogba and Herrera the freedom they need to be at their most effective.
Could end in tears:
Victor Lindelof – Harsh I know but the EPL is a big step up from Portuguese league especially for a player so young. Looked very shaky in pre-season so Jose could be wishing he opted for the Michael Keane come Christmas especially if they are off the pace in the league and/or drop out of the CL at group stage.
Money well spent: A nice new stadium.
Could end in tears: For Poch if they finish lower than 4th.
No, Coutinho is key
Not sure I agree with Dominic. Firmino’s pressing is vital to the way this team plays (along with Mane, Lallana, Henderson etc) and Coutinho offers less in this regard, but the team is clearly built around his technique and vision.
He is the danger man, our creator-in-chief. We have better goalscorers and better dribblers but Coutinho is multifaceted: equally adept at picking a pass or a shot if given space, or slipping away from an opponent when pressed. His off days may be too frequent to consider him among the very best in the world, but he is still our best player.
It seems that Klopp is building a team around Coutinho in a more withdrawn role, supporting him with two hard working midfielders and asking him to exploit the movement of Firmino and the pace of Mane and Salah. Losing him now would be a blow and suspiciously vague reports of a ‘back injury’ are ominous.
Hopefully Barcelona will baulk at the quoted price (even with the Neymar cash burning a hole in their pocket) and look elsewhere. He’s not quite irreplaceable, but Klopp has enough still to do as it is.
Tattoo, too awful
Having just seen the image of Coutinho catching a piggy back ride on Roberto Firmino I can say with certainty the latter has some of the absolute worst tattoos I’ve ever seen. Yes, worse than Jared Leto’s Joker.
Mock me…I deserve it
It’s nearly time for the f365 annual predictions, so I’m getting them in early…
1) Who will win the League?
Arsenal. No UCL fixtures. Yikes, I shouldn’t have said that.
2) And the rest of the top four in order?
Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool (because they’ll go out of the UCL early)
3) Which three clubs are going down?
Swansea, Burnley, Huddersfield
4) Which club will do surprisingly lovely things?
Watford, because of Marco Silva
5) Who will be top scorer?
6) Who will be the best signing?
Sead Kolasinac. Built like a bus, so should adapt easily physically. Was in Bundesliga team of the year last season. And. He. Was. Free
7) Which big-money signing will flop?
8) Who will be this season’s Marcus Rashford, the kid who comes out of nowhere (nobody said this would be easy)?
Nathaniel Chalobah, Watford
9) First manager to leave their job (not necessarily sacked)?
Craig Shakespeare. They showed no patience with Ranieri, and they’ll show even less with him if Leicester are anywhere near the drop zone
10) Which English club will go furthest in the Champions League?
Man Utd. Mourinho’s bus parking will suit that tournament in the big games
11) Finally, who would you most like to see fail, and why?
Jose Mourinho. Because he’s a wanky human being.
The news that Tony Adams is leading a consortium looking to take over at Palace this morning led my mind to wander to Adams the player. And in particular my favourite moment of football porn. It’s 1998, Everton are playing Arsenal at Highbury in a game Arsenal needed to win to win the title. Thomas Myhre had headed away from an Arsenal attack, when Bould picks the ball up in the centre of the pitch. Quite what he was doing there is anyone’s guess. With vision and application way beyond anything we had been accustomed to, he puts a deft chip over the top of the Everton defence to a marauding Adams who is clean through. A slight miscontrol on the chest only added to the moment, before smashing a left footed half volley into the corner. Then the celebration. As if he scores those every day in training. It was not a goal of the season contender, but still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and is still one of my favourite moments in football. Nothing quite like two old school centre-halves combining to score a goal that will never be forgotten. Given the well-documented problems Adams had at Arsenal, that moment felt like a moment of redemption.
Why the hate for Swansea?
Long time reader, sporadic poster. I’m getting really bored of seeing Swansea City as a regular insertion to the relegation conversation. The Bob Bradley debacle was embarrassing but moreso for us then anyone. Also being talked about as a team that nobody would ever countenance paying for a Sky/BT subscription to watch. Even in our joke phase we’ve always been great value by beating big teams regularly (never Spurs) and that crazy Palace game last year. People seem to have forgotten that we were the model club in terms of building sustainably with a commitment to attractive football. Fact is when we have had competent managers in a stable situation we’ve never struggled. We look to have gone back to our old philosophy of signing young players with something to prove and relatively inexpensive players who have excelled abroad. I’m quietly confident of at least 12th this year with a possibility of breaking into the top half.
I have to take issue with Johnny Nic’s article about Neymar. He’s made the classic mistake of looking at the ‘investment’ in isolation. Remember that players are accounted for as assets and the £198m is amortised over the 5 year contract. In accounting terms Neymar has cost £40m/year, his wage is a cost unrelated to the asset value. Conservatively they will recoup 75% of that just from the added exposure, you can account for intangible assets such as brand value as well. Not to mention he has significant resale value, once Messi and Ronaldo retire he will be the world’s biggest football player. Also they will in future windows be able to sign a calibre of player they would not have been able to before. Commercially it absolutely makes sense, as well as politically but that’s a different story. Don’t confuse business sense with morality, the two don’t mix. The derivatives markets wouldn’t exist otherwise, designed to capitalise on others misery.
Finally I have to mention the article about Wenger and his points target. You made out like Wenger said if they get 85 points they will win the league and then stated how often that wouldn’t be the case. You also implied that was the points target that he had set his team. The article however shows he clearly meant ‘if we get 10 more points that will be an improvement and we’ll be there or thereabouts’. Huge misrepresentation especially when English isn’t his first language and he was clearly using a PFM phrase. You guys slaughter people in Mediawatch for less, just saying. On a more positive note I can’t wait to receive my copy of the Portrait Of An Icon book. It’s my favourite feature (has regularly brought me close to tears) and it’s also a fantastic cause.
Darren, Swansea (Way too long to get published but whatever)
Conclusions on the Euro 2017 final
…Let’s talk about the football! 16 Conclusions/points/whatever style.
Denmark’s 4-4-2 was a classic two banks of four job, using the pace and trickery of Nadim and Harder on the break. It was very important that the Danes score first as the Dutch then had to start chasing the game, and it allowed for the attacking play to flow a bit more. A stunned Dutch side clearly weren’t expecting it as Denmark took the game to them from the kick off and exploited a lack of organisation to win a penalty after some clumsy defending from Van Es. Nadia Nadim’s penalty was the epitome of clinical and set the game off to a exhilarating start.
In fact, the Dutch seemed to adopt tackling that can only be described as robust. Van Es and Groenen in particular were on a mission to channel the finest Nigel de Jong as they sought to try and bully the Danes with the support of the home crowd. Denmark though, refused to be intimidated and responded in kind.
Holland were playing a 4-3-3 with an asymmetric attacking trident. The plan in the first half at least was to press aggressively in the midfield zone and release Van de Sanden on the right. She would then pick out Miedema and Martens, who had licence to drift around and create overloads. This was exemplified in different ways for their first two goals. The first came when they won the ball in their half and Groenen immediately found Van de Sanden down the right. The winger was simply too fast and skilful for Sandvej all night, and this time gave Miedema an easy job for the equaliser. Their second goal came after a patient spell of possession on the right flank culminating with Lieke Martens collecting the ball centrally, making space with some skill, and then arrowing a shot into the bottom corner.
For a match with with some ferocious challenges, the football on display was sumptuous. Both teams were not shrinking from the physicality of the contest and fierce, successful tackles were exchanged all over the pitch. While defences were generally well organised, the technical quality on the ball meant they were constantly probed. Holland in particular had some spells of percussive, one-touch passing and movement that was mesmerising to watch.
How accurate was the finishing though? Five goals were placed into the corner of the net. Pernille Harder’s solo goal was a wonderfully disguised finish, after a lightning counter attack. Spitse’s free kick may have lacked pace but when your shooting is that precise there’s not a lot goalkeepers can do.
Finally, Miedema showed that Harder wasn’t necessarily better, faster or stronger by producing her own stunning goal from the other side. The Danes were caught upfield and had no energy to get back; the victory on penalties against Austria had come at a cost, and they could not keep up in the final quarter, when a rampant Dutch were playing tricks and entertaining the crowd. That two Danish players ended the match on crutches says it all and it is a testament to their fitness and skill that they managed to give a good fight until the 70th minute.
That said, Holland were deserving victors. Dekker and Van de Gragt were superb throughout a tournament in which the Oranje only conceded three times. That they did while providing such scintillating attacking play is all the more impressive and Sarina Wiegman deserves the utmost kudos for constructing such a unit despite only being in charge since December. It will be really interesting to see how this team does in France 2019!