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Jose is perfect for post-truth era
Despite being accused of being behind the times and unable to adapt, Jose Mourinho appears to be very on message currently as he has moved into the ‘post-truth era’. Anyone who has seen Adam Curtis’ (slightly over-rated) HyperNormalisation (or indeed followed any of the EU referendum or US Presidential Election) will be aware of the idea of post-truth which has caused fact-checking to be obsolete as the speakers are fully aware that what they are saying is patently not true.

The last two Premier League games have shown this well. Before the Liverpool match Jose said that he was not animated on the touchline as it was his job to coach. This was supposed to set him apart from Jurgen Klopp, who is reknowned for his coaching ability in contrast to Jose who puts the roundest of round pegs into the roundest of round holes…or buys a new peg. This is also the man who built (part of) his reputation on touchline sprint celebrations and who famously eye-gouged an opposing coach. After the game he said that Man Utd controlled the game and that Liverpool had parked the bus. This despite De Gea making two fabulous saves and Utd not forcing a save and winning one corner.

After the Chelsea game Jose seemed to genuinely believe Utd had scored. He talked of an imaginary equaliser (I think it was Ibrahimovic’s header over the bar) and then going 2-1 down. He then accused Chelsea of sticking nine men behind the ball and playing on the counter-attack to score their final two goals! This is Jose Mourinho who played a flat back seven against Liverpool with Young and Rashford tucking in as extra full-backs and Fellaini making a three in the centre. With Herrera in defensive midfield, Utd genuinely had just Pogba and Ibrahimovic outside of defence for the vast majority of the game at Anfield.

And finally he accused Conte of whipping up the crowd, which was a disrespectful act apparently. Man alive. Jose Mourinho accusing another manager of a disrespectful act is like;

– A manager of the richest club in the world accusing others of buying the title (Jose last year while at Chelsea).
– A manager of a team which parks the bus being the one who bought the phrase ‘parking the bus’ to England (Jose Mourinho)
– Me flicking another driver the bird for undertaking on the..oh, wait a minute, shouldn’t really…
Micki Attridge

Mourinho = Trump
1. Personally very successful.

2. Success built on the efforts of others, and often at great cost to others.

3. Success is always down to him, but failures are always due to someone else.

4. Pretends to be gracious, assuming we can’t perceive basic sarcasm.

5. Win-at-all costs mentality.

6. Humiliates others with abandon, but cannot handle even the slightest bit of ridicule or criticism.

7. Once loved by media for charismatic straight-talking and success, before eventually being disliked.

Narcissistic, childish, thin-skinned: Jose Mourinho is Donald Trump.
Andre E

Utterly pathetic from Jose…
It’s starting to feel like last season all over for Mourinho. Different problems but the same themes. Rather than address the issue of losing 4-0 to a rival, Mourinho has deflected the headlines to his own sorry soap opera once again. He feels ‘humiliated’ by Conte for getting his own fans to sing.

Is there another manager in the Premier League who is so pathetic? Imagine Eddie Howe or Sean Dyche coming out with such rubbish. Or Guardiola. Or Klopp. Or even Pards. José is a bad loser, a really bad loser. Being a bad loser made him a winner once upon a time. He seemed to use it fuel his drive to win and to influence and inspire his teams. The modern José though, blames others for his losses. Referees, doctors, players, other managers, José finds a way to deflect.

Stories emerged last week that José could have been Liverpool manager 12 years ago. I would have bit someone’s hand off to get him to Anfield back then. Even if Klopp were to leave (please never leave) I wouldn’t want him as our manager. The season is long and United still have 29 games to play. But I cannot see José being the leader they really need, not anymore. This might be José’s biggest job of all but it actually might be his last big one if he does not succeed.

And if the end does come for him this year, we will all look back and realise he isn’t the same and hasn’t been the same José for a long time.
Damo, Dublin

When do we start blaming Jose?
Gary Neville started making the excuses during commentary. I gather Danny Mills said something similar on the radio. This United squad, we are told, is burdened with players that just aren’t right for a ‘Mourinho team’, and the answer will only come over the course of the next couple of transfer windows.

I’m sure United fans will be delighted that Ed Woodward will finally dust off his chequebook.

Meanwhile in the other dugout, when he isn’t offending Jose’s delicate, unstintingly decorous sensibilities, Antonio Conte has turned Victor Moses into one of the players of the season. On MOTD2, Jermaine Jenas rightly commended him for appraising his squad and making the players he has work in his system, but isn’t that basically the whole point of a manager in the first place? Maybe not in our transfer-obsessed world, and the notion that the Portuguese might be expected to *manage*, rather than relying on yet another spending spree, has evidently not crossed the minds of the nation’s pundits. Which is lucky for him.

So far at United, Mourinho has got improved performances out of Antonio Valencia, eventually noticed Ander Herrera’s quality, and proved that, when asked to get in the way and not try anything creative, Marouane Fellaini is a reliable José grunt. At the same time, he’s failed to galvanise Memphis Depay or Wayne Rooney, shown he has no idea what to do with Paul Pogba, humiliated Bastian Schweinsteiger, alienated last season’s best outfield player and his best left-back, overplayed his ageing totem pole of a centre-forward, and actually lost Morgan Schneiderlin and Henrikh Mkhytaryan (happy to take him off your hands when you find him José). It’s got so bad he’s even had to start playing Juan Mata.

And in the context of that catalogue of shortcomings, we’re supposed to accept that it’s all the players’ fault?

While the relationship is no longer half as cosy as it used to be, there still seems a desire in the media to go easy on Mourinho. Historically, the most grating aspect of that was the failure to pick up on his hypocrisies, but it could soon become the accepted wisdom that Mourinho has been forced to work with mediocrity, rather than a squad that cost hundreds of millions to amass.

At a time when an outrageously successful coach whose side is topping the league risks being labeled a fraud on these shores, you do have to marvel at how Mourinho gets away with it.
Will O’Doherty
How will Jose survive this?
If Mourinho got sacked at the end of the season, which i think would happen if they finished anywhere below fourth, who would hire him again? Maybe he’d get the Portugal National Manager gig eventually, but Santos just won the European Championships, so you’d think they’re not going to shove him out right now.
Minty, LFC

What the hell is Jose doing?
As Mr Storey alluded to in 16 Conclusions, when Mourinho sets the team up to make the game difficult for the opposition rather than playing to win, the margin of error is small and relies on resolute defending and minimal individual errors.

That means your generally f***ed when you concede after 30 seconds and the whole game plan goes out the window.

Jose’s tactics in these games are palatable if they achieve results, but don’t and the lack of ambition becomes intolerable.

Results like this also make it impossible to defend team selection – Shaw, Mata and Carrick can all feel miffed at not playing after good performances Thursday, whilst Miki and Schneiderlein missing out completely is just bizarre.

Finally, Ibrahimovic seems to be doing a scarily good Rooney impression at the moment, and I think a bit more movement up there wouldn’t go amiss (Rashford, Martial) instead when he’s not firing.

Thought I’d just itemise all the various flavours of awkward going on at Old Trafford that combine to produce one big awkward ice cream pretty much every time they take the pitch.

De Gea – Awkward that such a ‘top three in the world’ goalkeeper still finds himself here, presumably palpably wishing he was not still here, and yet here he still he is.

Smalling – Awkward that the captain looks like he’d be a reliable performer in a good Stoke side.

Shaw, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger – Awkward at being unsure what exactly they’ve done wrong, except it being definitely something.

Fellaini – Just awkward for United fans, no matter how reliable the ‘not sh**’ level he’s settled at is.

Mata – Presumably awkward every time Jose walks into the same room as him.

Lingard – Awkwardly struggling to conceal the limitations we just all know are there.

Martial – Awkwardly trying to pretend he doesn’t resent Lingard.

Pogba – A massive, steaming, ‘look at all this lovely money’ ‘now play out of position’ heap of adrift awkward.

Rooney – Elephant in the room awkward, despite the protestations that only ex-footballers could think were subtle in their intent, A 300k per week hinderance to everything United do.

Ibrahimovic – Growing in elephant in the room awkward stature. After what may have been one last final burst of Ibra adrenalin through the old veins, is remembering how old he is and that he’s now trying to best the most relentlessly competitive defenders in Europe. Doesn’t look like that appeals. But, it’s Zlatan, so must be played a lot. Awkwardly large shirt sales support this.

Rashford – Awkward in being such a committed little gem that he’s prepared to dick around on the wing when every single person with functional eyes can see he should trot over to Ibra, pick him up, deposit him on the touchline, and start playing in his place.

Mourinho – Awkwardly trying to find love for the job he always wanted and is not good enough for.
Toby Sprigings

Conclusions on Manchester United vs Chelsea
I know F365 has their own set of conclusions out, but I’ve got some more:

* David De Gea: No one is saying it, but David De Gea has been well below his level this season. This is a goalkeeper who, at his best, single-handedly dragged Manchester United into the top four. But this season, he has conceded 12 goals in the league this season; 2, after just nine games. This is a goalkeeper who ‘makes saves he has no right to have made’, but instead we have seen far more instances of ‘he would be disappointed to not have done better’. It’s no secret the team’s defence isn’t great, and it hasn’t been anything more than par for the last three seasons, but De Gea is not inspiring the confidence he did in seasons past.

* That said, the objective is to score goals and United now have just 13 goals for. Interestingly, the chances are being created (even against Liverpool, City and Chelsea) which, if taken, could form the basis of a successful performance. Mourinho’s style of play doesn’t include open, expansive football but deathly clinical football, instead. For that to be successful, Zlatan needs to be taking his chances. Headers and chances from within the box (of which there have been plenty in all matches) need to be scored because if they are, controlling the game (Mourinho’s preferred style of play) becomes far easier. It’s no secret that Zlatan is on a poor run, but Zlatan is also surely due a rest soon. I just (hopelessly) hope it’s Martial who starts up front as opposed to Rooney coming into the line-up for Zlatan, against City.

* Marouane Fellaini is again attracting a lot of flak again for doing his job (literally doing just what he’s being asked to by one struggling coach after another) but the bigger problem surely lies in the fact that Jose instructs his ‘defensive’ midfielder to operate further up the pitch than his wingers on the break. He’s nothing but a clogger who can (only) help compliment more talented midfield partners to control the center of the park. Asking more of him is shooting yourself in the foot, not the Belgian’s fault.

* The Chelsea players: Wow. They played not like they had a point to prove to Mourinho, but like a group of players who played with full dedication and commitment. That Mourinho could not harness this level of commitment and dedication from (largely) the same group of players a year ago adds more fuel to the fire of however Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea ended. Even then, when pressed to comment on whether ‘this win gave (Chelsea) anything more than just the three points’, Hazard’s answer of ‘in football the most important thing is three points’ was classy; classy how Eden Hazard used a Jose line to diminish the importance of Jose Mourinho.

* Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Morgan Schneiderlin and Luke Shaw are all quite possibly the solutions to the requisite problems out wide, in midfield and in defence. I don’t know what it takes to p*ss Jose off, but he gets p*ssed off hard.

* ‘You do it at 1-0, not 4-0’: Jose, Jose, Jose don’t be like that FFS, man. Even then, I do think it might have been more disrespectful do ‘it’ 30 seconds into the game.

* Thierry Henry spoke of how the Chelsea players looked like the wanted to show Mourinho up and so I wondered: what kind of stories about Jose would Henry have heard, given he’s currently working with the Belgian nation team. KDB, Lukaku, Hazard, etc must have some real gems to share about Jose.

* United fans, please don’t complain about Luiz staying on the field…Herrera vs Stoke, pliz.

* Mourinho should be given ‘adequate’ time to persist with his own methods with the full backing of the board but Mourinho, unlike Van Gaal and Moyes, has far less reasons for patience:

1) Both the Scotsman and Dutchman arrived at United following successful spells (and hence had earned their appointments, to varying degrees)…Jose was last seen fighting with every player and staff member at Chelsea (and Real Madrid before that) before being appointed United manager. My point: he’s not here on the back of a successful spell..he got the job because of excellent timing (ONLY).

2) Unlike Moyes and Van Gaal, Jose has had the full backing of the board with everything he’s required. Defense? Check. Midfield? Check. Attack? Check. Potentially world class players AFTER two seasons of high-profile signings.

3) Jose has a track record of winning titles, and that’s why he’s been hired. He doesn’t have a track record of playing attractive, expansive football, giving chances to youth to the extent of regularly producing first team stars from the youth academy AND winning titles; these are the three pillars that best encapsulate ‘The United Way’. Moyes won no titles and did’t play expansive football, so was cut short within a year. Van Gaal had a track record of doing things ‘The United Way’ before he came to Manchester United and was afforded two years.

Based on those three points, Mourinho should not be afforded much patience at all if he hasn’t won a trophy, promoted (new) players from the youth squad to the first team and isn’t playing good football. I’m not advocating Mourinho be sacked just as yet, but he should be given no extra time than he deserves.

Not looking forward to Manchester City… t really doesn’t look good right now.
Emad MUFC (Wazza for Bailly at CB) Boston

Jose can only work with a strong defence
While I was laughing at the decline of Mourinho, a thought occured to me.

He didn’t decline. He was a square peg in a round hole.

Mourinho had done his best work setting up a strong defence and a physical, powerful team.

His first Chelsea stint was built around John Terry, Carvalho and Makelele. He didn’t know what to do with the talents of Robben, Duff and Schevchenko, just to name a few.

Then, he went to Inter – an Italian team known for their solid defence. Won the Champions League easy.

At Madrid, they expect attacking football. He tried a few things, didn’t work, and proceeded to physicalise, aka kick the sh*t, out of Barcelona.

Chelsea Pt 2 offered another intriguing misfit. Chelsea had morphed into a good attacking team.

Mourinho could not cope. And now, Manchester United.

An attacking team all the way, thanks to 20-odd years of Fergie’s gung-ho-ness. Mourinho wasn’t allowed to do what he does best – built physical specimens and nick 1-0 every game.

Give him a physical team like Stoke and he’ll go again.
Vinnie ‘Mourinho-career-saver’ Pee

Remember that Man United were knackered…
Before the inevitable meltdown and knee-jerkery begins to build to its crescendo, let me try to provide a little bit of perspective; the last game Chelsea played was on Saturday 3pm against Leicester and had a full week to rest and prepare for that game.

United on the other hand, for reasons best known to the FA had to play Liverpool on Monday night despite the public knowledge that they are competing in the Europa League on Thursday night, a decision I still find bizarre. Why couldn’t that game have held on Saturday as well? So United had to play two gruelling games while Chelsea were preparing for that game.

All over Europe, football governing bodies are very considerate of teams competing in Europe and adjust fixtures to help their preparation, hence Friday night games, but the English FA can’t be bothered. And we all are baffled that English clubs dont take the competition serious for coefficient’s sake. Does the FA even care about the coefficient?

I kinda expected the players to be both mentally and physically second best in that game, which maybe led to conceding such sloppy games from schoolboy defending.

Hey, maybe I’m clutching at straws here, but just saying the team and players are not as horrible as many are now painting them. Three games in seven days is not the same as one game in seven.
Mere Godled, MUFC, Nigeria (does anyone remember LVG’s record in big games?)

Mourinho can’t even blame Chelsea’s freshness and lack of midweek European games because that’s his fault as well.
Uzayr, South Africa

You have ‘specialists’, Jose; use them
Well that was a disaster. No complaints about the result as you don’t concede four goals without scoring and the result not be deserved. City fans would remarkably disagree but that’s a different story.

Even though they are by no means our fiercest or historically relevant rivals a defeat to Chelsea rankles more than any other team in the league. Its something about the way they go about their business and the players (and manager) they choose to elevate to ‘Legend’ status with Costa and Luiz being the latest incumbents. ‘Sh*thouse’ being the prefect moniker coined on this very website.

I was hopeful that one of the more frustrating aspects of LVG’s management would have been discarded but Mourinho seems to have slipped into a similar style of fitting people into roles for which they are not suited. I don’t want to bang on about individuals within the team as the Rooney debate has worn me down but didn’t Mourinho state that he wanted ‘specialists’ in their respective positions and not a team of utility players?

I have faith that he will turn things around given time but he may want to start explaining why the likes of Shaw, Schneiderlin and Mkhitaryan are not being given a fair crack at it.
Plato – MUFC (Eric’s knee injury has really finished off the weekend fun)

On Chelsea…
– I believe that a football game by itself over 90 minutes is a reflection of the sum of many smaller games within 90 minutes, both the teams will have spells (in big games especially) where they’re pro-active, have the ball, create chances, defend opponent’s wave of attacks etc.

– In that context, I felt Chelsea’s losses against Arsenal and Liverpool were more to do with Chelsea’s magnitude of loss in one of the smaller games (though in both games, Chelsea did draw/win some of the other minor games)

– Antonio Conte in his post match stressed the reason why Chelsea lost those smaller games – lack of energy and pressing intent during the opening minutes of the game. This does not necessarily mean Chelsea have to attack the opponent, a team can also defend with a lot of intent and energy (a la United at Anfield in the opening half).

– I couldn’t be happier at how we started the first small game last night. It was magical, the opening goal. 11 passes, no United player touched the ball and Pedro, a player I liked and wished to do well (and whose abilities are more to do with positional off the ball running) scored a peach!

– In an unpublished email last week, I had written that this game will come down to whether Chelsea score early. I believed Jose would set up a team for a 0-0 till 60 minutes, and then in one of the smaller games later on take on Chelsea for a smash and grab (like his Inter did) and I was worried that should the score be nil all at 60 minutes, United had a far better chance. But Conte and Chelsea proved different.

– In our first small game of 22 minutes, we should’ve been four goals up minimum, but was happy to be two ahead. We scored an early goal, were a little lucky that Zlatan scorched a header top of the post and then harassed United to create chance after chance and score from a set-piece!

– In the second game from 22 minutes till half time, it was an even 50-50 game of consolidation, I thought both teams negated each other (Chelsea more than United perhaps) and it was parity.

– I expected Jose to bring on Mata (and perhaps Martial also) at HT. I expected Chelsea to sit back, invite wave of attacks and counter-attack. The first game of second half and third game overall. I believe the best teams are those who can score in games they’re on the front foot and games they’re on the back foot. Chelsea did exactly that when United were having more of the ball and though not creating dangerous chances, did start to look menacing. The third goal is precisely the type of goal that would kill such a momentum and what a beauty by Hazard.

– The final game last night was when United were done and out and if we showed more ambition we could’ve had probably more, but N’Golo Kante’s goal was the goal of the night. The abysmal defending of United (Pogba and Smalling in particular) can be analyzed, but for the moment I’m going to enjoy one of the most ridiculous goals by a small and humble player than laugh at the defending that led to it!

– I couldn’t be more satisfied with Chelsea’s overall performance. What was standout was the players doing something rehearsed throughout the game – as though they knew when to switch those mini-games. Positional discipline while defending was top notch. Especially Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso – I didnt expect them to be so effective early on in a new system.

– Also some credit to Gary Cahill whom I’ve been chastening for a few years. He really seems to be enjoying his football and did nothing of mistake since the shift to back three. So did David Luiz barring that red-card worthy challenge on Fellaini!

– Jose asking Conte not to wind up crowd at 4-0 was laughable. During his stay, he has been constantly whining about how the crowd at Stamford Bridge are not comparable to Anfield and always made that an agenda, and he himself has would up the crowd around 90 minutes in so many games! It’s okay Jose, I understand you’re hurt. It was awkward for me also when I saw you turning right out of the tunnel in a Pl game.

– On that front, can we say that the path to vanquish Mourinho’s shadow at Chelsea has begun (if not complete)? It’s very unhealthy for a club to live in a former manager’s shadow (ask Liverpool and United) and it was good for Chelsea to have a performance and result like that against our best every manager of past.

– I will leave my Man United colleagues of the mailbox to dissect their team.
Aravind, Chelsea fan

…Having not long got home from west London, I thought I’d offer up some thoughts on today’s shellacking from a Blue perspective…

– I’d barely sat down by the time Pedro snuck/waltzed/sashayed through the United defence, but even from the other end of the ground the defending looked amateurish. It was a bit like watching Conte’s Chelsea play the Chelsea of pretty much exactly 12 months ago. Funny that, when you consider the common denominator in that ‘equation’.

– This 3-4-2-1 formation really does look pretty tasty. Luiz gets licence to pretty much do as he pleases, although it was interesting to see that despite this he was frequently the deepest defender. Eden can do his thing up front, and seeing him live and back to his best is properly scintillating. It’s all about those wing backs though. Alonso was as good as he was against Leicester, but allow me to indulge a bit when it comes to the man on the other flank…

– Moses just seems to be getting better and better. He’s been discarded by Jose several times in the past after having what looked to be a series of really solid pre-seasons, and I can sort of see why – he would have been third, fourth, possibly even fifth choice in the systems that we’ve lined up in in recent seasons. The suit that Conte’s made for him though? Fits like a glove.
He gets up and down like a well oiled yo-yo, and chips in with more than his fair share in defence too – and this is where I’m most pleasantly surprised. He said he’s learning from Dave (Azpi), and it shows. His general defensive play is solid (and improving), and I counted at least four or five really good defensive headers in the first half alone.

– Mr Storey did a far better job analysing it in 16 Conclusions than I could, but I’m enjoying seeing an attack-minded Kante, as opposed to the flat-out destroyer of worlds we saw last season. And he seems to be enjoying it too. Also, I know it was Man U, and it was the cherry atop a quite delicious cake, but the celebration of his first Chelsea goal in the Shed upper was bloody brilliant – the place went beserk.

– A few words on Jose. Whilst if true, his apparent comments to Conte about ‘not celebrating at 4-0 because waah-waah-waah’ (or something like that) could actually re-write the dictionary definition for hypocrisy, I’m really pleased that today wasn’t about him. It was about Matthew Harding. It’s 20 years since his death – and with him being such a big part of our recent past, it was great to hear the respect being paid to him by the crowd (also at half time, when his four children did the walk around the pitch to a humble standing ovation from all sides).

– Back to the game. That Luiz tackle was bad – I was a good 100 yds away and even I could see that. I was praying for a yellow, but wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been a red. But yeah….cough *Herrera* cough *Joe Allen* etc etc. You win some, you lose some.

– Aside from his goal, which was obviously well taken, I’m not convinced by Pedro. He’s quick, but the end product doesn’t match the build up. Hoping to see Willian back to his best on that side in the next few weeks, after returning from compassionate leave.

– 16 Conclusions was rather heavily weighted towards United (and I get why – they form a far bigger chunk of your traffic. Oh, and they really were bobbins), so read that for a serious breakdown of how they performed. However, I was a bit (dare I say?) disappointed with them. Whilst the back three seems to be working, I still think we’d struggle with a well-executed high press (my god the Liverpool game was depressing in that respect), especially from such a physically powerful squad. So why didn’t they go for it? They really stunk the place out in the first 20 mins, and yes Fellaini really was that bad. Also, still not sold on Pogba. The Chelsea crowd clearly enjoyed chanting “what a waste of money”, but that price tag really does seem to be weighing him down. Whilst he was a powerhouse at Juve, he just seems withdrawn at the moment – almost as if the killer instinct we’ve seen be so effective is being coached out of him.

– United looked much better once Mata came on and started working passes between the defence and midfield lines. Genuinely thought they’d score during that first 20 mins of the second half. But then Eden scored and it was all lovely again. Shout out to Courtois though – he definitely had to make a few saves, and a couple of them were absolute blinders.

Final couple of thoughts on other weekend ‘stuff’ whilst I’m here:

– Whilst I feel a bit dirty saying it, I’ll admit that I really quite like Jurgen Klopp. And it pains me to say it, but whatever he’s doing is working – that Mane goal was f*cking gorgeous. Like a large slice of salted caramel cheesecake. Or Jessica Alba.

– To Monty in Sunday’s mailbox – I’d urge you to read the reviews of Steve Bruce’s first two books, because they’re as good if not better than #3. They’re by a guy called Seamus O’Reilly (@shockproofbeats on that there Twitter), and are all on the lovely*. Oh, and if you’d like to purchase a copy of any of Mr Bruce’s weighty tomes, you’d better be packing some serious coin. They go for at something like £300 each on eBay. I sh!t you not.

Have a lovely week everybody. And remember, if you’re feeling glum, it’s only 61 days till Christmas!
Robbo Robson, CFC
* He also has his own website which is worth a look if you want to hear about a guy who makes the Nutella people put labels on their product that read “Arsemuck’ or ‘Turrdz’
Let’s talk Henrikh and Daniel…
As a Liverpool fan I’m really enjoying 16/17 so far, much has been made in the media of Adam Lallana’s great form, Pogba’s lack of form and (undeservedly in my opinion) Wayne Rooney’s decline as a player.

But two glaring stories have escaped media attention, the first being the treatment of Henrikh Mkhitaryan. This was probably the most productive midifelder in Europe last season with an eye watering 23 goals and 32 assists from midfield, obviously I would have loved him at Liverpool but he went on to seal a bargain £26 million move to Manchester United and has been seemingly unfancied by his manager from the get-go playing just 104 minutes of football…

Think back to the sale of Kevin de Bruyne and the 300 or so minutes given to £23 million Juan Cuadrado to prove himself and Mourinho is looking like a total asshat when it comes to working with creative midfielders.

The second being the decline of Daniel Sturridge, almost everything I read on Sturridge still paints him as a devastating weapon Liverpool can unleash on the opposition, personally I haven’t been convinced by him under Klopp at all, I think his entire game was based on pace and like Michael Owen and Fernando Torres before him, he lost that pace sooner than he should have and is struggling. Rooney struggling in a team struggling for form is one thing, but Daniel Sturridge struggling for form in a team in red hot form? I’m surprised more has not been made of it.

Against Manchester United last Monday his departure immediately led to Liverpool going up a gear or two, which brings me back to the start, I never thought I would find myself clamouring for the departure of Daniel Sturridge and the arrival of Adam Lallana to try win a game!
Stephen Deegan

Peter G’s weekend thoughts
* After Matt Stead rashly compared this Arsenal squad to the Invincibles, it was inevitable the Gunners would slip up and the substitutes would accomplish the square fansitedbusr of you-know-what. In fact, Arsenal’s last three games have been against three of the weakest sides in the league, and they could easily have been held to three draws. More notable was Middlesbrough’s change of system from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1, with The Incredible Amazing Death-Defying Adama Traoré starting for the first time, and Adam Clayton excelling in a screening role. This could very well be the way forward for Boro, and chapeau to Aitor Karanka.

* Bob Bradley and Walter Mazzarri aren’t exactly known for exciting football, but Swansea-Watford went beyond ‘exciting’ to ‘ridiculous’. Despite edge-of-the-abyss defending on both sides, the Hornets couldn’t create and the Swans couldn’t finish. Takeaways: Modou Barrow still looks the business, the Deeney/Ighalo axis can still flourish under the right circumstances, and both sides need to get back to the training ground in a hurry.

* It’s better to be lucky than good, but right now Sunderland are neither. With only one set-piece to defend to pick up a point, they fell completely asleep — but who could expect a possibly offside goal from Winston Reid outside the box with his left foot? Still, they were so very awful in the first half hour that the Hammers could have been all the way to Green Street before they noticed. Jack Rodwell has now started six games this season: does David Moyes actually know that Sunderland have never ever won when he starts (now 32 matches)?

* Simon Francis of Bournemouth is one of the more obscure regulars in the league. A converted right-back playing at centre-half, he’s been at best average most of the time. But he was inspired against Tottenham, taking everything Spurs’ left-tilted attack threw at him. Fifteen clearances, 3/3 aerial duels, two interceptions, and at the other end a chance created with an excellent cross.

* Hands up all those who thought Victor Moses would ever be an important player for Chelsea. His worst fault has always been decision-making, usually trying to win the game by himself. At wingback, though, he doesn’t have the opportunity to go solo, and his pace, skills, and defensive abilities come to the fore. It’s still an open question whether he’s good enough for a title-contending team, but much credit to Antonio Conte for putting him in the frame.

* Bournemouth, Burnley, Middlesbrough, Southampton. All four played boldly against superior teams and all got a result. To quote Punch, that’s the way to do it.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA

Ed’s weekend thoughts
* I didn’t pay too much attention to the football this weekend while it was going on. I was staying with family in Stowmarket for the first time since FA Cup Final day; let’s just say the sooner my aunt and uncle move out that cursed house (as they are intending), the better it will be for Crystal Palace.

* Well done to Leicester City for their deserved win. It was certainly on the cards, given City are a team that likes to counter-attack and Palace like to play out from the back, but aren’t very good at it. City came into this game needing a win to boost their league form, and found an obliging opponent, or as one person (I forget who) said in last Monday’s mailbox:

‘I’d fancy City given our generosity when it comes to helping teams struggling for form.’

* Generally speaking, the Eagles were poor, making too many errors and being positionally suspect. Shinji Okazaki’s goal, though well-taken, was a result of a cheap turnover and then Joe Ledley doubling up on the wide man, rather than tracking the Japanese striker.

* Wilfried Zaha was a rare positive for Palace, he caused a few problems down the right flank, and put a shift in defensively too – fully justifying his inclusion in F365’s list of the best defensive forwards (the NHL has a trophy for that).

* When a goal like the one Christian Fuchs scored goes in against you, there’s not a great deal you can do about it. Well, other than clear the ball properly from a corner, but that’s being churlish.

* I saw the following on the Twitter feed of the Palace blogger Hopkin Looking To Curl One (@hltco, he’s great):

‘By coincidence, it has now been 38 games since Palace last played at the King Power Stadium. In that time, they have taken 38 points, winning just nine games and have a goal difference of -14.’

According to information on Transfermarkt, the Eagles have played 65 Premier League games since Alan Pardew took charge, winning 24 of them and taking 84 points in total. That’s a win percentage of 37% and a points percentage of 43%, equivalent to 49 points over a full season – enough for lower-mid-table; in the last season’s worth of games, that drops to 23% (win) and 33% (points), which shows a serious decline.

* A timeline of recent events:

Some point during the week leading up to 15 October – Alan Pardew records a piece for the BBC’s NFL show, in which he compares himself to Vince Lombardi.
15 October, lunchtime – Alan Pardew is spotted at Stamford Bridge scouting Leicester City.
15 October, evening – Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace lose to West Ham United, snapping a five-game unbeaten run.
Some point during the week leading up to 22 October – Alan Pardew is the subject of a sympathetic piece on the midweek Premier League show.
21 October – a sympathetic piece by Dom Fifield appears on the Guardian website about how much Alan Pardew is enjoying life at Crystal Palace, and in which he claims he wouldn’t even leave for the England job.
22 October – Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace lose 3-1 to Leicester City, making it three games without a win.
23 October – Alan Pardew appears on the BBC’s coverage of the NFL at Twickenham, wearing a red NY Yankees baseball cap and a shirt that clearly has at least the first four buttons unfastened. Rumours he was verifying my explanation of blitzing in the mailbox last week remain unverified.

Just seems like someone’s lost a bit of focus. I’m not suggesting that he should live the life of a self-flagellating monk just because we’ve lost a couple of games, but it’s an easy correlation to make, between a team who looked badly organised in their last two games and a manager who was busy with other things.

* Likewise, this quote stands out from the Fifield piece:

“When people ask me about England … well, if I was still at Newcastle, I’d be pretty keen on that England job. But, with all this here, I’m left thinking: ‘Why would I really want to leave this club now?’”

Why did Pardew need to bring Newcastle United into it? He just comes across as someone who tells you on the one hand they’re happy to be out of what was a very toxic relationship, but on the other hand they clearly aren’t over their ex. Again, for someone who wants people to think he’s focused on Palace, he’s doing a lot of unnecessary talking about unrelated teams.

Ultimately, it’s great that he wants to stay, but that shouldn’t just be his decision. Eventually, despite his close working relationship with Steve Parish, something will have to give. I’m not saying sack him now, or ever, but this is last season all over again – the team gets in a rut, losing games they could have taken something from, and Pardew goes on a charm offensive about how much he loves life at the club, and it really tested a lot of people’s patience.

* Palace’s next game is Liverpool at home. The Premier League’s leading gegenpressers will have a field day against the Eagles’ attempts to play the ball out from the back every time. I’m not saying don’t ever do it, just mix it up a bit, you know, like Barcelona do.
Ed Quoththeraven

Tony Pulis and his magic hat
‘Tony Pulis will have watched on excitedly from his home, covering his nether regions with only a cap from the club shop.’

Thank you Matt Stead, now I’ll never be able to get that image out of my head!
BP, LFC Johannesburg