Karma’s gonna get you…
Absolutely delicious that United fans wrote in gloating over Mkhitaryan’s performance, only for their supposed big hitters to fluff their lines once again. Just what is the point of Pogba and Lukaku? Sanchez missing a simple chance, Martial having at least four chances – beautiful.

Now to watch Liverpool overtake them and for them to drop out of the top four, that would be glorious.
Pali, LFC

 

…It’s nice of Rowan to share his thoughts about how rubbish our players and manager are (like we hadn’t noticed) but perhaps he should be a bit more worried about his own club.

At least we lost to a top four side, not a relegation threatened team that have struggled to score all season.

If I was Rowan I’d be more worried about looking over his shoulder at Liverpool and Spurs than taking the piss out of our miserable lot.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC

 

Rafa over Mourinho
It was good to see Rafa out Mourinho, Mourinho. When the going gets tough you’d expect a £90m midfielder take the game by the scruff of the neck. Instead he gets pulled and cries on the bench. Comedy gold!
Adam F (brackets are overrated, kind of like Pogba)


How can Man United still play that back four?

I normally wouldn’t to do this but I really have to get this off my chest.

Considering how much has been invested into this team in recent years it is remarkable that we start a back four of Valencia, Smalling, Jones and Young.

Chris Smalling should not be getting anywhere near the United line-up. Absolute liability of a player offers nothing defensively, can’t pass five yards forward to save his own life. Horrible, it’s no wonder Southgate dropped him. Must be sold or better still terminate his contract and just pay him to bugger off.

Given how many simulations has been discussed recently it beggars belief that anyone would want to dive IN HIS OWN HALF. Step forward Chris Smalling, what an absolute brain-dead thing to do. Just when I thought it could not get worse you sink to a new low and fittingly Newcastle scores the winner from the resulting free kick. I do not think I have loathed any footballer more.

I still believe there is a proper defender in Phil Jones but you won’t get that as long as he keeps playing alongside Smalling.

Credit to Antonio Valencia for reinventing himself as a right back, but it is high time he is replaced. it just isn’t working anymore. Thank you for the years of stellar service, Tony, I’m afraid your time’s up.

Why on earth is Young still been played ahead off Shaw. He had a shocker against Spurs and was duly dropped against Huddersfield, Shaw performed well in the aforementioned game, his reward? a place on the bench. I’m still trying to wrap my head around considering Jose’s praise for Shaw. Ashley Young is for all intents and purposes, a winger. He might have had decent stint at left back earlier in the season but he is not really suited for the role for a number of reasons and crucially, he is 32 years old. This is particularly disturbing as we happen to have a much better option on the bench.

Matic is absolutely knackered. He must be taken out of the firing line or performances like this would become uncomfortably familiar. Jose has to take advantage of Carrick’s availability.

Pogba’s best position was heavily discussed in the past week and this game provided more evidence (were it needed) that Pogba needs to play in a midfield three and this is even more pertinent as we are not playing with proper No.10 (Lingard is no 10).

As much as it hurts me to say this if Martial won’t start on the left or as a striker he should be on the bench. The same applies for Rashford.

You cannot legislate for open goal misses and defensive brain farts but Jose has to take a large portion of the blame here the line up was baffling as well as the substitutions.

All in all it was a poor performance for everyone involved and we hope to see some changes soon.
Pelumi (much longer than I planned and doesn’t really feel like a rant anymore) Lagos, Nigeria


Eight Man United conclusions

1. No arguing with the result, the better team (by a distance) won, and deservedly so. It was only a matter of time before Newcastle scored, though I had put my money on Gayle to be first scorer – bloody Matt Ritchie. Newcastle should also have had a penalty in the first half, so it’s not like we were robbed or anything; more fortunate that we weren’t punished earlier.

2. But it’s appalling that Newcastle were the better side. With the amount of talent in that squad, even if you discount the Laurel & Hardy of defenders, we should be breezing past any team fighting relegation. We had a few chances, Martial (on three occasions), Lukaku and Sanchez all proving wasteful, but in truth a Man United win would have masked yet more problems.

3. Please, please, please can we just stop playing bloody Jones and Smalling now? I don’t care how many mistakes he might make, or how different the English league is to the Portuguese league, Lindelof simply can’t be anywhere near as bad as those two jokers together. United’s insipid defending against Spurs caused the partnership to be broken up and we keep a clean sheet and win against Huddersfield, so why then do we go back to virtually the same team that failed so miserably against Spurs? Those two clowns should be done at United now, but if we start next season with either of them still in contention for a first-team spot then it’ll be another season of disappointment in the league.

4. I warned at the time that Sanchez was going to be a bad signing and it was laughed off with derision. An excellent player he may be, the accommodations we have made to include him in his favoured position are to the overall detriment to the team. Martial was playing really well and consistently on the left and has now been shunted off to the right where he’s largely ineffective. Lingard no longer has the space in the middle in which to operate because Sanchez keeps coming infield, Lukaku is still getting very little service as a front man, and Rashford is playing even fewer Premier League minutes. Signing Sanchez hasn’t solved any problems; it’s just created more.

5. So that brief purple patch of Pogba’s was just that. He might have skill and decent technique but his overall game is consistently underwhelming. Maybe it’s partly down to the system, but it’s no secret that he isn’t a defensive-minded midfielder, so why wasn’t the team strengthening to get the best out of him in any of the last three windows? Sure, Matic helps, but not in the 4-2-3-1 we usually play. But Pogba’s attitude in general isn’t good enough. All too often he saunters around the pitch, as if expecting things to just happen for him, playing Hollywood passes like Rooney used to, but very rarely having any positive effect on attacks. And his defensive contribution is usually to get muscled off the ball (which is ridiculous), lose possession, or go down looking for a foul before gesticulating wildly instead of tracking back. Talent will only get you so far; application and attitude will take you further and both of those things are lacking right now.

6. It was good to see Carrick back in the league, but it’s indicative of the larger problem at United – just not enough quality in midfield. We may not need a direct replacement for him, but we do need to have better options than a nearly 37 year old when things aren’t going our way.

7. Mourinho’s subs are starting to get really strange. Chasing the game and we replace two midfielders with almost like-for-like, but an old-timer and an inexperienced youngster? I get that Lingard and Pogba weren’t having a great game, and that Matic is running on fumes right now, but were Mata, Carrick and McTominay (about whom I’m still not sure what gets him in the team) really going to change that game? Obviously not.

8. So that just leaves us with the FA Cup really. There’s no way we’ll progress much further than the first knockout round in the Champions League, and we’re now facing an uphill struggle to maintain our league position, so the FA Cup is last chance saloon. And that’s not going to be easy to win, because it’s virtually inevitable that we’ll have to face at least one top-six opponent between now and a potential final, which we’ll probably bottle like we have most of the league meetings between them so far. If by some miracle we did manage to win it and scrape a top-four place, it could be considered a decent season, but still massively disappointing because we haven’t made nearly enough progress from last year; league position notwithstanding, the football just hasn’t been consistently good enough. Sigh.
Ted, Manchester

 

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Lukaku and Mourinho out
Firstly let me say buying a world-class player or a player on the way to being world class for close to a hundred million pounds and not knowing how to get the best out of such a player says a lot about the manager.

Is it just me cos I can’t understand how Lukaku is a footballer or even a striker for that matter. For someone who it takes literally centuries to sort his feet out, zero intelligent play, minus something first touch you have to be worried about the quality of players in this generation. In the late 90s if a striker lacks a true footballer’s quality they usually made up for it with quality finishing, intelligent plays or even quality movement. Lukaku offers none of this you can go through all his goals this season they are mostly saveable finishes usually close to the keeper. It’s truly sad cos a player of the ilk of Lukaku and Smalling in Manchester United only goes to show that football has definitely dumbed down and this fact diminishes the achievement of the likes of Messi and CR7 who I feel would have been one of the best in the days of De Lima and Zizou but won’t have stood out the way they are in this generation.
Kayode Ajaja (Jose and Romelu Out) MUFC Nigeria

 

Dissing Smalling
I know the unwritten rules of football state you should support every player that puts on your team’s coveted jersey. Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched many world-class players in a United shirt, watched many players that eventually disappointed, even watched plenty of players that were downright shite. But there has never been a player that I’ve downright hated! Stand up and take a bow, Chris Smalling.

Am I missing something with him? As a central defender, he has the exact opposite characteristics that you need to play at the top level. He’s a bag of nerves on the ball, woeful passer, terrible in the air, not particularly quick and is devoid of a footballers brain. Play a drinking game where you drink every time Smalling hoofs it up the pitch to nobody. You’d be needing a pump out after eight minutes!

Even his face annoys me. He looks exactly like a player from Fifa 2002 on the playstation and doesn’t get me started on a center back wearing the number 12!

So which player on your team do you hate!!!
Bryan

 

…After Phil Jones’s exceptional display a fortnight ago against Spurs, Chris Smalling’s cameo against Newcastle was a commendable follow up in what can only be described as an exhibition in performance art. Almost give away a needless penalty in the corner of the penalty box: check. Perform a swan dive close to the centre circle: check. Fail to clear the ball in the set-piece that followed: check and mate. How he and his side kick Jones get away with this on a weekly basis while Mourinho publicly hangs out to dry less worthy individuals is a mystery for the ages.
Karthik

 

Is Jose making Shaw unpickable for England?
Getting more frustrated with every game Jose ignores Shaw for Young. I respect what Young has done all season but this is really not helping the team long term…. Unless it is meant to!

If Shaw gets a run of games and rediscovers his form this season there is a good chance there will be calls for him to be a part of the squad to Russia. Given the lack of game time Rose is getting, this would be even more likely.

Could Jose, rather sadistically, be trying to protect Shaw and have him at Carrington for a longer pre-season to help him rediscover his form for the start of the new campaign? Let’s face it the League is gone and the Champions League is the longest of long shots. Top four is also looking likely now so maybe the focus has shifted to next season already.

If this were the case is this fair on Shaw? Would you as the manager inform the player of your plans for him? If he has told him and Shaw has agreed is this then an indication of the club (primary salary source) trumping the country and what would this say about the player himself?

That’s a lot of ‘ifs’ and I am being rather cynical but this is the only thing I can think of that is keeping him out of the team after finally finding some form mid season. Of course there could be more going on behind the scenes between the two of them.

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Also Rashford has played a lot of football over the last two years… Make me wonder.
Hakim, Sri Lanka

 

Massive for Liverpool
Liverpool were very different today. To watch the team be so disciplined, to ease off the throttle and to sit back and actually control a game was something I’ve not seen since Benitez was in charge. It was weird because Liverpool rarely win by the odd goal nowadays, probably because we don’t have the personnel capable of seeing a game out 1-0 but today we seemed to have them pretty well under control.

Kariusis growing on me. I like the speed of his distribution, something that has always frustrated me since Mignolet replaced Reina. Does anyone remember how Reina was so good at making counter attacks that he would get fouled when he claimed crosses and got his head up. I don’t mind that he made a slightly careless throw at one point and perhaps could’ve punched better. His intention is to be aggressive which I think is better than the weak and passive Mignolet.

That said, I wonder if Karius looks more assured having VVD in front of him. Today the boos were ringing round St Mary’s and the TV showed him smiling to himself, he was thriving in a potentially difficult environment and just continued to make good decisions at every stage. The same can’t be said of Matip today who veered between looking calm and crazy at various stages.

I think on Wednesday he’ll persist with AOC, despite the fact he was quite poor today in the middle. He gives us so much dynamism and we’ll need to battle hard to get something against Porto. Can is suspended so I suspect that’s why Henderson was rested today. AOC does need to learn to stop switching off once play passes him. He doesn’t drop in the way Firmino and Mane do. He left TAA on his own far too often today which is why Southampton threatened so much down that wing.

This was a huge result given that Man Utd lost and opens up the battle for positions from 2nd to 5th enormously.
Minty, LFC

 

Saints still not losers?
Our dive towards relegation continues to be ignored. At what point will the world at large start spelling out in large finally start spelling out in large neon letters that Saints are in crisis?

This weekend we played the same old system, had the same old result and lost again. No goals, very few chances, no imagination. We are the definition of pure madness right now. We repeat the same thing time and again and expect a different outcome.

Did Liverpool deserve to win? Based on two moments of brilliance, yes, but that cannot detract from the individual error that lead to their first goal and our subsequent inability to play our way back into the game. It is the same old nonsense, week after week. We are persisting with an inflexible manager whose plan A (his only plan) has not worked yet, it shows no signs of working now. The 4-0 v Everton was a false dawn, the 1-1 with Spurs was a false dawn, and we have once again failed to build on a positive result at West Brom last weekend.

The only teams we have beaten this season have been sides who at the time were in a seemingly worse circumstance then us; West Ham, Everton, Palace, West Brom (x2.)

All results went against us this weekend, all credit to Swansea, Newcastle and Huddersfield, we are now back in the bottom three. We only have one home game in our next three fixtures, against Stoke. If we do not pick up significant points from the trips to Burnley, Newcastle, Swansea and West Ham then we have an almighty struggle ahead. A home game against Manchester City to finish the season is not the critical three pointer you would wish for.

Relegation is coming and our apathetic board are making no efforts to avert it.
Colin Brown

 

Ed’s Palace thoughts
A few thoughts on the weekend.

* There is something eminently frustrating about losing to a former manager. That said, Everton are supposed to be a substantially better side than Crystal Palace, so ultimately losing by two goals is not the end of the world.

* The Eagles used a ‘thunder and thunder’ frontline, of Christian Benteke and debutant Alexander ‘ALT+0248’ Sørloth. In an ideal world, of course, we could have had some players with electric pace to take advantage of the presence of Ashley Williams in the second half, but that’s life.

The two big men up top – albeit that Sørloth would drop deep and wide when his side weren’t in possession – did create some chances. According to Understat, Palace actually had a higher xG than the Toffees (1.74 to 1.52), proving once again stats guru Michael Caley’s assertion that God hates Crystal Palace.

* The other problem for the Eagles is that they don’t score many goals from open play. This isn’t based on one single thing, as there may be issues with the supply or with the finishing, but is something that needs to be worked on.

* Benteke is an incredibly frustrating player He is clearly heavily dependent on confidence, which appears to have gone missing, yet when he is on form, he produces some incredible moments – his dinked goal against Chelsea last season was absolutely hilarious, and totally fantastic.

* The technical term for the style of defending carried out by the visitors early in the second half was “sh!tting the bed”.

* I said last week that timing would be an important factor in who stays up and who goes down, maybe with a slice of fortune that other results go your way. Well, not only did Palace lose, but Huddersfield Town picked up a deserved if unexpected win over Bournemouth. Like the Palace blogger HLTCO, by this point I was also convinced that Manchester United would bottle it against Newcastle United. And of course it was a former Palace player (Dwight Gayle) who had a big contribution to the result with a goal line clearance.

* Next up for the Eagles are Hotspur at home in two weeks’ time, and are the only struggler taking on a top, top side in that round. Depending on who takes points from whom, we could go into the game in the bottom three. After that, it’s Manchester United at home the following Monday (because Selhurst Park under the lights is a cliché in danger of not being overused), when several of the teams in the bottom half will be taking on those chasing European qualification, or the Arsenal. Then, we travel to Chelsea the following Saturday, again when there’s a good mix of struggler v struggler and top v bottom Knowing the unpredictability of results, combined with our own sense of depressing inevitability, we’re equally likely to be several points adrift at the foot of the table, or inexplicably safe-looking. Keeps things interesting, anyway.

SOURCE:football365

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