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  1. Report by Dave Usher It’s an hour after the game and I’ve already started the report. Usually I wait at least 24 hours, sometimes longer, but this time I need to get it all down now rather than stew over it. I doubt I’ll feel any differently in a month, let alone a day. The anger will hopefully subside (it better, as right now I’m ready to kill someone) but the sense of injustice won’t. This was one of those games you’ll never forget and the feeling of being robbed never goes away. Funnily enough it was only a few days ago I was thinking back to when Suarez scored a late winner there and it was wrongly ruled out for offside. I’ve never actually got over that, having that moment of euphoria unfairly snatched away. That was bad, but at least the linesman had the excuse of only seeing it at normal speed with the naked eye. This was far worse, and a lot more sinister. Firstly, before I get into all that, I want to make the point that this was a really good performance from the lads to bounce back from what happened at Villa Park. We wanted a response and we got it. The way we started the game I felt as though we were going to absolutely steamroller them. There was an aggression and a desire to play on the front foot, and Everton couldn’t cope. It looked like the lads wanted to make a statement and overall they did. So from that point of view, all good. The anger I’m feeling has nothing to do with anything performance related and I saw a lot of things to make me feel good about the rest of the season, not least how that midfield looked with Thiago and Hendo in tandem. Wow. Our opening goal was beautiful. Slick, sexy football that ended with Robbo skipping past Coleman and pulling it back for Sadio to finish. Prior to the game that’s the area I thought we could really hurt them. That “Hamez” twat has a great left peg but he’s slow as fuck and doesn’t want to chase back. What a horrible little bastard he is. Waving his imaginary cards and constantly being up in the ref’s grid. Fucking over-rated little gel-head turd. Sick of the fawning over him already. He’s being hyped up like he’s some superstar but he’s been a bit part player at every big club he’s been at. If he was that good he wouldn’t have ended up at Everton in his prime years. He’s basically Shaqiri at Stoke, only with more Instagram followers. So that side of the field was always going to be key for us. The opportunity was always going to be there to overload on Coleman and that was happening a lot early doors. It led to the opening goal and should have led to a second when Sadio missed an identical chance after again being set up by Robbo. So yeah, all good to start with. We were already one up and if the officials had done their job we’d have been playing against ten men for most of the game. Pickford somehow getting away with that might be the biggest miscarriage of justice involving a goalkeeper since Harold Schumacher almost killed Patrick Battiston and was only yellow carded. Not even joking. My mind is blown that he was allowed to stay on after that. I don’t know what happened there. I’ve heard Peter Walton say that the offside doesn’t make any difference in that situation and that Pickford should have walked. I’ve also seen a rules nerd on Twitter saying that only applies for ‘violent conduct’ and not ‘serious foul play’. Dermot Gallagher, the baldy Michael Stipe looking bootlicking cunt, obviously defended the decision as that’s what he does. He’s never seen a decision he didn’t agree with. I tell you what I do know. Richarlison was sent off for a lunge on Thiago even though the whistle had actually gone for a free-kick a split second earlier. So how is this any different? Answer; it isn’t. Leaving aside the fact I don’t think it was offside anyway (I’ll get to that shortly), that is serious foul play, endangering an opponent, violent conduct, common assault and a whole lot of other things rolled into one. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full report Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  2. tlw content

    Opposition View: Everton

    Saturday sees Liverpool and Everton clash for the 203rd time in domestic league action. This fierce rivalry that divides a city has had many fascinating storylines over the years and this weekend shapes as another intriguing chapter. Much of that has to do with the fact that Everton have started the new campaign in fine form, winning their first four games and scoring plenty of goals in the process. Now led by Carlo Ancelotti who is one of the most astute managers in all of Europe, belief is rapidly rising amongst the Goodison faithful that he can lead them to something special. The major hurdle that stands in their way is the reigning Premier League champions and this week marks the 10 year anniversary since they last claimed three points in this fixture. While that is a daunting record to overcome, Andy Costigan from the @grandoldteam website explains why this Everton team is cut from a different cloth in comparison to those who have tried and failed in the past. It appeared for a time that Everton were a club without an identity switching between managers and philosophies every 18 months or so. Good managers take their time to assess what needs to be done before developing an action plan. So what do you believe Carlo Ancelotti has been able to alter the most? Without question, the mindset within the first team squad and elsewhere too. The sceptics thought that the Italian had joined Everton simply for the payday, rumoured to be in the region of £9 million a year, but he simply doesn't come across as someone looking for a easy ride and bumper pay out when the wheels come off. He's a vastly experienced manager and with a fantastic pedigree of improving and developing players to suit the tactics he devises. He took his time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the squad he inherited from Marco Silva, and wisely, didn't go gung-ho in the first transfer window available to him. His most telling comments came at the end of last season when he suggested to the players that they should go away and come back to training with a different outlook and desire... and to be fair to the players, they did and have done. Sure, he's signed some top quality players to boost the squad, but the difference in the mindset of all the players still here from last season is noticeable, they look like they want to be Everton players, look like they want to perform to their best and look like they want to be huge parts of the Ancelotti evolution of the new Everton. When a new manager arrives at a club he regularly identifies a ‘project player’ he believes he can take to the next level. That player for your club seems to be Dominic Calvert-Lewin. What have you noticed that has changed in the striker’s game since Ancelotti’s arrival? DCL has patently been listening very hard to both Carlo Ancelotti on his positional play and Duncan Ferguson on how to play with more physicality, to be stronger on the ball. The real marked difference in his play is he's playing between the posts much more rather than drifting wider, and his first touch is improving with every game he plays. DCL has all the attributes associated with traditional English centre forwards in that he's tall, is good in the air and not afraid to mix it with opposition centrebacks. But it's his positional play and first touch that has come on leaps and bounds since last season, and his mindset is probably the most improved since the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti. On the other hand, the form of Jordan Pickford is regularly up for debate despite being first choice for the national side. What do you think he needs to work on to silence the doubters once and for all? Pickford needs to improve some of his decision-making but his concentration most of all. When he was with Sunderland he was continually involved in the game and as such his concentration level needed to be high at all times, and it was. His form for Sunderland earned him his England call-up and the big money move to Goodison. His first year as a Blue he was kept pretty busy as well and his good form continued. Then the side struggled under Silva and so too did Pickford - he lost concentration and it showed in his game. He allowed outside influences to get to him, most notably in a game at St.James's Park where the Geordie crowd barracked him mercilessly and he reacted. As Ancelotti has looked to strengthen the Blues defence, Pickford is now not quite as involved in the action as he might like to be and it appears when he's not busy, his concentration levels drop and that's when errors creep into his game. He needs to work on that most of all All the great goalies have played behind solid defences that offer the kind of protection the Everton defence is now beginning to afford Pickford... he needs to reward their work by being the last line of defence they have faith in and can rely on. While Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez have taken the main plaudits for your unbeaten start, is there an underrated player or two that you feel deserves their share of praise? Three immediately spring to mind... Allan, Doucoure and Richarlison. Allan has given us a genuine ball winner in the midfield, something we've lacked since Gana Gueye left for PSG except Allan is better. Doucoure has brought a real 90-minute engine to the midfield, he covers so much ground and yet appears to do it effortlessly. And I include Richarlison for his all-round contribution. He's a real threat and someone opposition players target but, he's growing up fast. He's cut out the theatrical reactions to being fouled and his willingness and ability to get back and help out defensively demonstrates a real team ethic within him. If I look back to the Everton of the mid-eighties, Allan, Doucoure and Richarlison are our latter day Peter Reid, Paul Bracewell and Trevor Steven. In terms of the league, what do you think is an obtainable goal for Everton this season? Don't laugh... to be Champions. For years, we got tired of hearing David Moyes say the first target was 40 points to guarantee Premier League status, we've had flirtations with Europe that the fans enjoyed and supported massively but, the way to make us regulars in Europe is to win something and as you've asked about the goal in terms of the league, then it has to be to win it. Toffee fans have been naturally desperate for that elusive victory over the old enemy, but that expectation has become a heavy burden to carry especially at Goodison. So do you think playing in front no fans on this occasion could actually be a benefit by giving the players a sense of freedom? That's an interesting question, as I think there are a number of teams who appear to be better without having their home crowds on their back when things don't go well right from the start. Look at the difference with Aston Villa and West Ham for instance. Whether our players feel a sense of freedom with us not being inside Goodison, I'm honestly not sure... I'd like to think that with the start they've made, that they actually cannot wait to have us back there supporting them. While giving glowing praise to a bitter rival is difficult to do, what makes this Liverpool team such a stern challenge to overcome in your view? We're under no illusion that this Liverpool team is a very strong side, well organised and disciplined in the manner that Jurgen Klopp wants them to play. The pace that the Liverpool side has is impressive and in Mane and Salah, two clinical finishers. The high press that Klopp employs appears ideally suited to your team but, I wonder sometimes if he hasn't put all his eggs into one basket... the nature of that defeat at Villa suggests his Plan B isn't up to scratch. Do you feel Ancelotti will stick to what has served you so well this season in terms of his setup for this fixture? We've played four league games and we've been slightly different in each game. We dominated a disappointing Spurs, we overcame setbacks to comfortably overrun West Brom, we battled toe-to-toe to beat Palace and we beat Brighton playing counter attacking football. To me this demonstrates that Carlo Ancelotti genuinely knows more about his players and their attributes and capabilities to adapt to different game scenarios than any of us can imagine. I'm confident that however he sets Everton up to face Liverpool on Saturday, he will get 100% from every player in the game and if no, when he does, the reward will be three more points. What is your prediction for this big clash? I think we can all safely say that this 'derby' will not be a boring scoreless draw, the two teams have goals a-plenty within them. I want a clean sheet for Jordan Pickford and if he gets that, then Everton win because I think our attacking options will create scoring opportunities that Liverpool will struggle to contain. As for a score line, I'd like 3-0 but, I'll settle for 2-0. View full article
  3. tlw content

    Opposition View: Everton

    Saturday sees Liverpool and Everton clash for the 203rd time in domestic league action. This fierce rivalry that divides a city has had many fascinating storylines over the years and this weekend shapes as another intriguing chapter. Much of that has to do with the fact that Everton have started the new campaign in fine form, winning their first four games and scoring plenty of goals in the process. Now led by Carlo Ancelotti who is one of the most astute managers in all of Europe, belief is rapidly rising amongst the Goodison faithful that he can lead them to something special. The major hurdle that stands in their way is the reigning Premier League champions and this week marks the 10 year anniversary since they last claimed three points in this fixture. While that is a daunting record to overcome, Andy Costigan from the @grandoldteam website explains why this Everton team is cut from a different cloth in comparison to those who have tried and failed in the past. It appeared for a time that Everton were a club without an identity switching between managers and philosophies every 18 months or so. Good managers take their time to assess what needs to be done before developing an action plan. So what do you believe Carlo Ancelotti has been able to alter the most? Without question, the mindset within the first team squad and elsewhere too. The sceptics thought that the Italian had joined Everton simply for the payday, rumoured to be in the region of £9 million a year, but he simply doesn't come across as someone looking for a easy ride and bumper pay out when the wheels come off. He's a vastly experienced manager and with a fantastic pedigree of improving and developing players to suit the tactics he devises. He took his time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the squad he inherited from Marco Silva, and wisely, didn't go gung-ho in the first transfer window available to him. His most telling comments came at the end of last season when he suggested to the players that they should go away and come back to training with a different outlook and desire... and to be fair to the players, they did and have done. Sure, he's signed some top quality players to boost the squad, but the difference in the mindset of all the players still here from last season is noticeable, they look like they want to be Everton players, look like they want to perform to their best and look like they want to be huge parts of the Ancelotti evolution of the new Everton. When a new manager arrives at a club he regularly identifies a ‘project player’ he believes he can take to the next level. That player for your club seems to be Dominic Calvert-Lewin. What have you noticed that has changed in the striker’s game since Ancelotti’s arrival? DCL has patently been listening very hard to both Carlo Ancelotti on his positional play and Duncan Ferguson on how to play with more physicality, to be stronger on the ball. The real marked difference in his play is he's playing between the posts much more rather than drifting wider, and his first touch is improving with every game he plays. DCL has all the attributes associated with traditional English centre forwards in that he's tall, is good in the air and not afraid to mix it with opposition centrebacks. But it's his positional play and first touch that has come on leaps and bounds since last season, and his mindset is probably the most improved since the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti. On the other hand, the form of Jordan Pickford is regularly up for debate despite being first choice for the national side. What do you think he needs to work on to silence the doubters once and for all? Pickford needs to improve some of his decision-making but his concentration most of all. When he was with Sunderland he was continually involved in the game and as such his concentration level needed to be high at all times, and it was. His form for Sunderland earned him his England call-up and the big money move to Goodison. His first year as a Blue he was kept pretty busy as well and his good form continued. Then the side struggled under Silva and so too did Pickford - he lost concentration and it showed in his game. He allowed outside influences to get to him, most notably in a game at St.James's Park where the Geordie crowd barracked him mercilessly and he reacted. As Ancelotti has looked to strengthen the Blues defence, Pickford is now not quite as involved in the action as he might like to be and it appears when he's not busy, his concentration levels drop and that's when errors creep into his game. He needs to work on that most of all All the great goalies have played behind solid defences that offer the kind of protection the Everton defence is now beginning to afford Pickford... he needs to reward their work by being the last line of defence they have faith in and can rely on. While Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez have taken the main plaudits for your unbeaten start, is there an underrated player or two that you feel deserves their share of praise? Three immediately spring to mind... Allan, Doucoure and Richarlison. Allan has given us a genuine ball winner in the midfield, something we've lacked since Gana Gueye left for PSG except Allan is better. Doucoure has brought a real 90-minute engine to the midfield, he covers so much ground and yet appears to do it effortlessly. And I include Richarlison for his all-round contribution. He's a real threat and someone opposition players target but, he's growing up fast. He's cut out the theatrical reactions to being fouled and his willingness and ability to get back and help out defensively demonstrates a real team ethic within him. If I look back to the Everton of the mid-eighties, Allan, Doucoure and Richarlison are our latter day Peter Reid, Paul Bracewell and Trevor Steven. In terms of the league, what do you think is an obtainable goal for Everton this season? Don't laugh... to be Champions. For years, we got tired of hearing David Moyes say the first target was 40 points to guarantee Premier League status, we've had flirtations with Europe that the fans enjoyed and supported massively but, the way to make us regulars in Europe is to win something and as you've asked about the goal in terms of the league, then it has to be to win it. Toffee fans have been naturally desperate for that elusive victory over the old enemy, but that expectation has become a heavy burden to carry especially at Goodison. So do you think playing in front no fans on this occasion could actually be a benefit by giving the players a sense of freedom? That's an interesting question, as I think there are a number of teams who appear to be better without having their home crowds on their back when things don't go well right from the start. Look at the difference with Aston Villa and West Ham for instance. Whether our players feel a sense of freedom with us not being inside Goodison, I'm honestly not sure... I'd like to think that with the start they've made, that they actually cannot wait to have us back there supporting them. While giving glowing praise to a bitter rival is difficult to do, what makes this Liverpool team such a stern challenge to overcome in your view? We're under no illusion that this Liverpool team is a very strong side, well organised and disciplined in the manner that Jurgen Klopp wants them to play. The pace that the Liverpool side has is impressive and in Mane and Salah, two clinical finishers. The high press that Klopp employs appears ideally suited to your team but, I wonder sometimes if he hasn't put all his eggs into one basket... the nature of that defeat at Villa suggests his Plan B isn't up to scratch. Do you feel Ancelotti will stick to what has served you so well this season in terms of his setup for this fixture? We've played four league games and we've been slightly different in each game. We dominated a disappointing Spurs, we overcame setbacks to comfortably overrun West Brom, we battled toe-to-toe to beat Palace and we beat Brighton playing counter attacking football. To me this demonstrates that Carlo Ancelotti genuinely knows more about his players and their attributes and capabilities to adapt to different game scenarios than any of us can imagine. I'm confident that however he sets Everton up to face Liverpool on Saturday, he will get 100% from every player in the game and if no, when he does, the reward will be three more points. What is your prediction for this big clash? I think we can all safely say that this 'derby' will not be a boring scoreless draw, the two teams have goals a-plenty within them. I want a clean sheet for Jordan Pickford and if he gets that, then Everton win because I think our attacking options will create scoring opportunities that Liverpool will struggle to contain. As for a score line, I'd like 3-0 but, I'll settle for 2-0.
  4. It promises to be one of the most fascinating Merseyside Derby games in years this weekend, as top of the table Everton take on the wounded Champions who are seeking to get a humiliating 7-2 drubbing at Aston Villa out of their system. On paper it looks like being the toughest Derby to predict in a long time as for once Everton will go into the game fancying their chances of pulling off an upset. Usually the Blues go into these games with a huge inferiority complex but confidence is as high at Goodison now as it has been at any time since the late eighties. Everton are flying and have won four from four while scoring goals for fun. Liverpool were flying too, until they crashed spectacularly at Villa Park. Up until then, Jurgen Klopp’s men were seen as the runaway favourites to retain their title but conceding seven to Aston Villa has given the rest of the league some encouragement that maybe Liverpool aren’t going to run away with it as easily as they did last year. A quick look at the odds on www.888sport.com shows that while Klopp’s side are fairly strong favourites, it’s certainly closer to call than it has been for some time. Ordinarily you’d just expect Liverpool to bounce back from such an awful loss, but this is one of the worst fixtures they could have as this is a fixture in which Liverpool have rarely performed well since Klopp took charge. Whereas Anfield Derby games have seen the Reds turn on the style and score goals for fun, the return fixture at Goodison has always been a slog, with the last three ending goalless. Under Klopp Liverpool have not been impressive at Goodison and even the one game they won needed a late, dramatic (and hilarious) winner from Sadio Mané. Often Everton will just sit in and play for a draw but with Carlo Ancelotti’s men having made such a good start to the campaign and are currently sitting above the Reds in the table, perhaps they’ll be more tempted to take the game to Liverpool this time? Don’t bet on it though. Ancelotti has had a good deal of success against Klopp in recent seasons, mainly when he was in charge at Napoli, but he also nullified the Reds in the first game following lockdown when Everton probably should have won a dour affair that ended goalless. The Blues have a 100% record going into this fixture and have been playing an expressive 4-3-3 system with James Rodriguez excelling on the right of a front three with licence to roam around. It seems unlikely that Ancelotti will retain that set up against the Reds though. Rodriguez isn’t one for doing much tracking back and helping out his full back, while Liverpool are especially strong down that side of the pitch with Andy Robertson flying forward to support Sadio Mané. So expect Everton to revert to some variation of the 4-4-2 Ancelotti has used to good effect in stifling Liverpool over recent seasons. What will be particularly interesting is how Klopp chooses to react to the loss at Villa. There is a strong case to be made for several regular starters to be dropped, but the German’s plans may be influenced more by external factors rather than just individual form. The Reds have been more badly hit by Covid than most and Klopp’s plans for the derby will no doubt be impacted in some way. While he should be able to welcome back Sadio Mané and Thiago Alcantara after they were forced to self isolated following testing positive, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have now been forced into isolation after positive tests. ‘Ox’ wouldn’t have been in consideration for Saturday anyway as he is still sidelined with a knee problem, but Keita had started all four of the Reds Premier League fixtures so far this season. The likelihood is he would have made way for Thiago or Jordan Henderson this weekend anyway, however. Another player who initially appeared to have been ruled out of the derby is Xherdan Shaqiri, who tested positive upon reporting for international duty with Switzerland. It then turned out to be a false positive and “Big Shaq” should be available this weekend. With Alisson still ruled out the much maligned Adrian will have to continue in goal as Klopp has little choice but to persist with the Spaniard. Other out of form players may find themselves under pressure though, specifically Joe Gomez and Roberto Firmino. With Henderson and Thiago returning to the fold that might see Fabinho move into defence alongside Virgil Van Dijk, while Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino are both pushing hard for goal shy Firmino’s spot. Klopp certainly has plenty to think about ahead of this game, but hopefully Everton being in such bullish mood will be beneficial to the Reds.
  5. Saturday Oct 3: City are held to a draw by Leeds in a wild end to end game that could have ended up 5-5. Guardiola’s reaction afterwards was in stark contrast to last week after they were hammered by Leicester. He spoke of how refreshing it is to see a team go for it like Leeds did. Yeah, he’s saying that because he loves Bielsa and he’s also doubling down on his dig at Brendan from last week. Such a twat. Almost as big a twat as Richard Keys. He’s just the fucking worst isn’t he? But he does provide some inadvertently amazing comedy at times as he’s such a thick, old school, stuck in the past cunt. Today we might have actually reached ‘Peak Keysy’. Him and Tefal Head were talking about City’s defensive problems and Gray threw in the old lazy “he maybe needs someone to come in and work with the defence” to which Keys immediately jumped in with “Sam Allardyce”. This is the most scorching of hot takes. I don’t think there is any suggestion he could have made that would have been funnier or more ridiculous, and I don’t even mean that as a dig at Allardyce. Fat Sam can organise a defence but he does it by having the whole team play a specific way, and that way is about as different as Guardiola’s style as it’s possible to be. It’s mental that Keys, a man who has made his living presenting football and being surrounded by people who know what they’re talking about, hasn’t learned a single thing about the game. It’s impressive in its own way, as you’d thin it would be impossible for at least some knowledge to rub off on him. It clearly hasn’t though because he thinks Sam Allardyce (and he also mentioned Roy Hodgson!) could go into City, work with their back four and solve all their problems. This is the kind of take that even Adrian Durham would be too embarrassed to share, and that’s a fella who a year ago claimed Tom Davies could be better than Stevie Gerrard. Anyway, have a look at this because it really is something else. Even Andy Gray is embarrassed by it. Also today, Layton Stewart, who I mentioned last week as a possible factor in the club being willing to let Brewster leave, bagged a hat-trick today. That’s two hat-tricks in three games for him now. Not sure why he isn’t in the u23s already to be honest, as they don’t have a proper striker. Sunday Oct 4: Villa 7 L 2. Tell you what, I’m glad I didn’t take the piss out of United for letting in six earlier in the day. I don’t think I’ve ever been as stunned by one of ur results as I am today. We’ve had some bad defeats over the years and conceding six in Stevie’s last game was bad, but we were shot then. This was utterly mental because we’re so good. How can it happen? Firstly, empty stadiums are skewing everything right now. Some players just aren’t the same without a crowd. Since footy came back there have been games when Van Dijk has looked like he’s in a training session. In fact, he’s probably more focused in training sessions. It’s most of the team though. Some games we’ve looked like our usual selves but there have been others when the intensity just isn’t there. And when the intensity isn’t there we’re not very good. We need that. It’s what makes us special. Everyone will blame the defence today and it’s true that they didn’t cover themselves in glory. But there was no pressure on the ball ahead of them and Villa were able to break on us at will. We lost the ball far too cheaply, didn’t win it back and then didn’t get into the positions we needed to be in. The defence was shite (especially Gomez and Trent) but they had no protection either, and there’s plenty of blame to go around today. We probably needed this. It’s a massive kick up the arse and is probably better than if we’d lost a narrow one, 2-1 or 3-2 or something. This will have embarrassed the players and it will have shown them that if you aren’t right at it then bad things can happen. Maybe they’d forgotten that due to the incredible run they’ve had over the last couple of years, but this is now a chance for them to refocus and get back to what makes them great. Having Hendo back will make all the difference as this just wouldn’t have happened on his watch. He’ll have been fucking fuming watching this and I expect him and Milner will have had plenty to say. I wouldn’t want to be playing us next, that’s for sure. *checks fixture list* Ha! The derby at Goodison. If we were going into that flying we’d no doubt throw in a clunker and draw 0-0 as usual. So to be going in after a shameful result like this probably helps us. This is just a teaser, click to view the full article Please note that the Week that Was is only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  6. This would have been so much more enjoyable if we hadn’t been humiliated at Villa Park. City failing to win again and United conceding six at home to a team managed by the fella they sacked, this is the kind of shit that invariably brings the best out in me. This Round Up would have been boss, but instead it’s had the gloss stripped right off it. How can I go balls out ripping into United for letting in six when we then let in seven? City dropped two points but they still closed the gap on us, so that’s a bit shit too. I’m struggling here but it’s because I’ve forgotten how it feels. I was thinking about this prior to starting to write, and I can’t actually remember the last time I did one of these when we’d had a defeat that was actually significant. Sure, we lost a few games last season but by the time we did we were leading by a country mile and it didn’t matter much. The first game we lost was Watford in February. Up until that point the only time we hadn’t won was when we drew at Old Trafford. The Watford loss was disappointing but it was easy to shrug off because we were miles ahead, the title was all but wrapped up and basically it didn’t matter. This loss maybe - hopefully - won’t matter in the long run. In fact, it’s entirely possible that it was something we needed in order to refocus and regain that intense hunger and drive that has made this kind of situation so rare. So with that in mind I’m going to try to enjoy the suffering of our rivals as much as I can in the hope that we’ll be back on track sooner rather than later, while their woes will continue. So I’ll get to United at the end as they played on Sunday. We’ll start with the Saturday games and where better to kick things off than Elland Road, where Leeds and Man City played out one of the best games of the season so far. It was only 1-1 so it doesn’t immediately jump out as being anything out of the ordinary, but it was wildly entertaining, end to end stuff. Leeds started terribly. They were all over the place and kept losing the ball while playing out from the back. City should have been 3-0 up before Sterling eventually put them ahead. It looked like they were going to run away with it but Leeds eventually settled and started playing some nice stuff. Ederson had made two good saves before he flapped at a corner and allowed Rodrigo to equalise. He redeemed himself later with a stunning fingertip save to deny the same player though. Both teams had chances to win it and Sterling spent most of the game trying to win penalties by diving. He’s almost at Richarlison levels, but no-one ever says shit about it. Cheating little fuck. Guardiola’s interview afterwards was pathetic. Kissing Leeds’ arse big time because he loves Bielsa is one thing, but it was the little veiled dig at Leicester that was embarrassing. Sterling did the same thing. All this “it’s so refreshing when teams actually try and play against us instead of putting eleven men behind the ball”. Shut up you sad whiny cunts. Bielsa is fucking weird though isn’t he? He spent the whole of his post match interview staring at the floor and not making eye contact with the interviewer. He’s definitely on the spectrum of something, but then that’s a common trait with geniuses. And he is a genius even if he isn’t a serial winner. This is just a teaser, click to view the full article Please note that PL Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  7. Report by Dave Usher Shit. Just what the fuck happened there? I’ve never seen anything like this in all my years of watching football. We never defended that badly even when we were rubbish. By defending I don’t specifically just mean the defenders, I mean the whole team. It was a shambles. This team hardly ever loses games, so to see them spanked like this is actually incomprehensible. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have believed this was even possible. Sure, we could have lost the game. I could see that happening. I could even see another Watford type result being possible. But this??? Nah, I never thought even in my worst nightmares this could happen. I don’t really know what to say. It was only a few days ago the entire world was ready to just hand us the title. I felt like that too. I still do, despite this. The point is though literally everyone in the media had already decided that the title was staying here. Maybe that was the problem? The players have got fuck all to do these days other than train and then go home and watch telly. They can’t go anywhere, or do anything. So maybe they’ve just been sat around watching Sky Sports News all week having smoke blown up their arses, and this was the result of it. We didn't run away with the title last year just because we're better than everyone else. We ran away with it because we were focused and concentrated in every game we played (bar Watford) until the title was won. We didn't always play at our best, but we avoided the kind of bad results against inferior teams that had plagued us over the last 30 years. That's how you win titles. So with that in mind, and having seen how we've approached almost every game in recent seasons, I think I can safely say that they just weren’t mentally prepared for this game, which tells me they didn’t take it as seriously as they would have if they’d been playing an Arsenal or a Chelsea. It’s not something you can level at these lads very often, but I don’t see how you can draw any other conclusion after this. A fully switched on, fully motivated Liverpool does not concede seven goals against anybody, let alone Aston Villa. So therefore, clearly they weren’t switched on and motivated or this couldn’t have happened. It looked wrong right from the start. We've seen that before and usually we find a way to steady ourselves and get into the game. This time we never did. Before I get fully into the inquest though I feel it needs saying that Villa played incredibly well and fully deserved this. It wasn’t lucky and we can’t say it was a freak result because it wasn’t. They were outstanding and could easily have scored more. Yes three of their goals were spawny deflections but considering they also hit the woodwork and missed four or five other great chances I don’t think we can say the scoreline flattered them at all. Credit where it's due. We can have no complaints at all. We were fucking abysmal and deserved to be humiliated. How can this happen? I don’t think there’s any one simple answer. There are all sorts of factors that went into this and it just ended up being a perfect storm. First of all it had been a troubling week at Melwood. Thiago and Sadio coming down with Covid shouldn’t in itself be a problem as ordinarily we should be able to cope without them. How has it impacted the group though? How many of them have had it on their minds this week or thought that they themselves had it? We don’t know how this kind of thing might affect them. Shit, I’d have demanded all of them were tested right on full time, because if Corona Virus was a football performance this would be it. Defensively this display was me in March / April when I’d struggle to summon the energy to go for a piss and then I’d immediately fall asleep for an hour afterwards. Even then I was more alert than Joe Gomez in this game. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full report Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  8. Saturday Sep 26: Ah fuck off. Alisson is injured AGAIN??? And Thiago too? Actually maybe they aren’t ‘injured’ as it’s all been very sketchy. Usually you’ll hear that there’s a muscle injury or a slight knee problem or whatever, but this has been much more vague than usual. They’re isolating, aren’t they? Meanwhile, there are STILL random reports linking us with Koulibaly. This does my head in as it’s just completely unrealistic. Even Stan Collymore is banging the drum for it and while I understand the argument that him and Van Dijk together would be invincible, if Man City can’t afford to prize him from Napoli then there’s no way we can considering we have no money whatsoever. Even the deals we’ve done have cost us virtually nothing. £5m a year for Thiago and only a £4m down payment this year for Jota. We’ve made that back with sales already. Koulibaly ain’t coming Stan, get over over it. Speaking of Collymore though, I read something about him today that I didn’t know. It was an interview with Tony Warner on some podcast a while back and I stumbled across it online while looking for something else. Warner had a scrap with Stan on a night out. He said Collymore swung a big heavy chair at his head and he had to block it with his arms or it might have killed him. He then starts swinging and the pair of them hit the floor. According to Warner, all the other players couldn’t stand Collymore so James and Ruddock pinned him down and held down his arms and legs allowing Warner to lay into him. Then Roy Evans arrived to break it up and caught an accidental smack in the mouth. Warner told another story about how Steve Harkness was obsessed with his own shit. This is absolutely fucking mad, and filthy. “He was always messing around with shit. His own shit. He put it on the door handles in the hotels, especially with the foreign lads.” “We used to stay at a hotel in Waltham Abbey. When you go in there, there’d always be sweets and three or four chocolates next to the bed. I’d always fly in and scoff all the chocolates dead quick. So, one day I’ve walked in and I’ve grabbed the chocolates. Bang! One goes in. Bang! Another goes in. Then there was another one. They usually come wrapped in paper like cupcakes, but this one looks like it had kind of been smeared in. “Do you know what gave him away? An arse hair. Just an arse hair hanging out the shite. At the same time, I’ve picked up on the smell. So, I’ve seen it and thought ‘imagine if that went in my mouth’. I’ve turned around, looked at the door and Harkness is there with his head poked around the corner. “He’s burst off laughing and I’ve legged it after him, shouting ‘I’d have fucking killed you had I have eaten that, I’d have fucking destroyed you’. “I was thinking to myself afterwards that if I’d eaten that shit, that story would’ve followed me around forever. I remember saying to him afterwards: ‘The fucking hiding I’d have had to give you to appease myself… I’d have been ruthless.” Hard to believe we never won anything with that group of players isn’t it? Fucking hell. Sunday Sep 27: City got whallopped at home by Leicester and it was glorious. It will be covered in extensive detail in this week’s round up so I’ll just focus on the reaction to it rather than the game itself. Because the reaction has been hilarious. Rodri’s quotes afterwards tell you all you need to know about that team. He sounds like the playground bully who has been unexpectedly punched on the nose: “It is very difficult to explain. When someone knocks you out you are confused and don’t know what happens. Football has not been fair with us. We deserve many things. We prosed many things in the game. We tried many things, they tried two or three things”. It’s called rope a dope you soft twat. Teams will let you come onto them because they know your defense is shite and that any counter attack is likely to end up in a goal. It isn’t ‘difficult to explain’ at all. It’s fucking obvious. “Maybe it is our fault, maybe it is their strength. I am young and try to learn every game but games like this where the opposition do nothing, you are a bit confused. You don’t know what to do.” He doesn’t know what to do. What does that tell you about Guardiola’s coaching? Imagine one of our lads saying something like that? There’s such a stench of entitlement about that club and ironically that’s the thing fucking them up now. “The opposition does nothing” even though they scored five goals. “For me they are lucky. It is not the way I like to play”. Hahahaha fucking hell, talk about arrogant. They beat you 5-2 you soft cunt. It wasn’t some 1-0 backs to the wall Mourinho-esque shithouse display. THEY SCORED FIVE GOALS!!! It’s the football snobbery of City that is killing them. They think everyone should try to play the way they do and beat them at their own game and they don’t like it when teams use City’s own strength against them. City want the ball so let them have it, let them think they’re in control and then as soon as they lose it, stick it straight up their arrogant tiki taki, FFP dodging cheating arses. Guardiola too, the bald fraud. “Even at 2-5 they settled back with 11 men behind the ball and it so difficult to create chances”. Mate, it only became 2-5 with 88 minutes gone! And of course they got men behind the ball. They were winning, What do you want them to do, all go up front because “Jamie Vardy’s ‘aving a party”. He’s so used to winning that he has no idea how to handle losing. Meanwhile, Suarez makes his debut for Atletico and scores twice after coming on as a sub. Diego Costa was asked afterwards about how he feels having Suarez as a team-mate and he said. “It’s great. One of us bites and the other kicks.” They’re going to be must watch this season. They’ll probably finish above Barca. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that the Week that Was is only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  9. Report by Dave Usher I’d be lying if I said I lost any sleep over this result but it is a little disappointing to go out, not least because it was to Arsenal. I think what bothers me most though is losing on penalties again. Hate that. We seem to lose more shoot outs than we win these days and that’s annoying because we never used to lose any. We should have won the game before that as we were better than Arsenal in both halves. The shot count reflects that, as does the fact that their man of the match was the keeper. We outplayed them but didn’t take our chances and that’s why we’re out. But does it really matter that we’re out? For me, no not really. I’ve said before that the main reason I like this cup is because we get to see the kids and fringe players. It’s just something a little different and these games are usually fun because of that. For some that’s not enough. Some fans want to see us going flat out to win every competition we play in, but I just don’t see it that way anymore. It’s not realistic in this era. Of course I wanted to win it but I wanted to win it with the kind of line up we field in the early rounds. I wouldn’t be at all in favour of risking senior players in these games when the fixture load is so intense, but it’s not just that. I want the squad players to see some action because it allows them to feel a part of things and you never know when they’re going to be needed. For example, if we picked up a few injuries in midfield we now know we could just plug big Marko in there and he’d be sound. So that’s a benefit. We also need to keep the likes of Minamino and Neco sharp in case they’re needed, while any chance for us to get Jones out there can only be a good thing. But going all out to win this cup is counter productive. Like it or not, the League Cup is not that important to us anymore because we’re at a level where the bigger prizes are within reach. If we were an Everton or a Newcastle who haven’t won shit for decades, then I’d be wanting to see us go balls out to win either of the domestic cups, even if it meant resting players in league games. But we’re not Everton or Newcastle and the league games we have before and after these cup ties are more important. That’s just a fact. If that means we can’t win those cups then so be it. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t thrilled to see Mo in the team for this one because I’d rather he had been at home with his feet up preparing for Villa. With Virg it’s a little different as he doesn’t have to put as much mileage in and is less likely to pick up an injury though being kicked. I actually kind of like the idea of Van Dijk playing when we have an inexperienced centre back like Rhys Williams (the same would apply is Sepp Van den Berg had played) because it makes life much easier for the kid. He’ll learn a lot more from playing alongside Van Dijk than he would without him. Williams must be absolutely buzzing having now played two first team games alongside his hero. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full report Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  10. What a wild weekend that was. Goals galore, upsets, controversies, we had the lot. I’m struggling for the words to sum up what happened at Brighton. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more scandalously undeserved win than that and that’s before I even get into the winning goal that was scored AFTER the final whistle. I’ll get to that penalty incident in due course though. That was without doubt the spawniest win I think I’ve ever seen though. Brighton absolutely fucking murdered them. They scored twice, had numerous other chances and hit the woodwork five times. FIVE FUCKING TIMES!! Has that ever happened before? It’s incredible just how charmed a life the United goal led. Trossard was the first to be denied by the woodwork when his left footer from 18 yards struck the post with De Gea well beaten. He was the second one to be denied by it too, when once again he beat De Gea but struck the upright. I don’t like Trossard but I’m honestly not sure why as I can’t remember him ever doing anything to piss me off. I think it’s his face. He kind of looks like a frog. I know I shouldn’t let something like that define how I think about a person, but what can I say, I’m my mother’s son. She’s hated footballers (i.e. Lallana) for far less than that. He’s a tidy player though is Trossard and one day the above comments might come back to haunt me if he ends up playing for us. *checks wiki*. Yeah that’s not happening as he’s 26 in a couple of months. That’s shocked me as I thought he was only a youngster, or if you like, a tadpole. If he was 21 or 22 then he’d probably be on our radar, but this is as good as he’s likely to get. Actually I’ve just realized why I don’t like him. He reminds me of a young Nigel Farage. Not his fault, but now I really can’t stand him. Webster then hit the bar with De Gea again struggling as the onslaught continued. Greenwood thought he’d put United in front with their first attack but a late linesman’s flag curtailed the celebrations and VAR showed that Rashford was offside in the build up. My boy Lamptey was brilliant again. I discovered him you know, not sure I’ve mentioned that before. I saw him playing for Chelsea at our Academy and I told you all to watch out for him in the Diary. You could say he’s the Stevie G to my Gerard Houllier. No-one else knew he was a star, but I did. Seriously though, I think he’s been man of the match every time he’s played for them you know. Every week when I see anything online about Brighton he’s the one getting man of the match. He’s such a fucking handful down that right flank. He’s probably not the best defensively but in a three at the back set up you can compensate for that easily enough. He won the penalty from which Brighton took the lead. I don’t actually think it was a pen to be honest as what is Fernandes supposed to do there? He doesn’t really make a challenge, he’s running toward the ball and Lamptey gets there first and cuts right across him. Clever from Lamptey but I’d be pissed off if a pen was given against one of our players for that as it’s virtually unavoidable. The flip side of this is that Fernandes is the biggest cheat in the league and has won penalties himself for far less than this, so fuck him and fuck United. Maupay took the absolute piss with his penalty. He “Panenka’d” the shit out of it and then milked his celebrations too. Came back to bite him on the arse later on, but I’ll get to that shortly. He dinked this one so softly that De Gea had dived and had time to get back to his feet to watch it cross the line. Lewis Dunk put through his own net to get United level and then we had a moment of real controversy when Connolly was awarded a pen only for VAR to overturn it. Much as I’d like to complain about that, the right decision was made in the end. Pogba has a little pull at Connolly outside the box, but it was nothing really and then Connolly just runs in front of him, grabs hold of Pogba’s shirt and then hurls himself to the floor. Never a pen in a million years (despite Shearer saying it was, the tit), and Chris Kavanagh reversed his decision after watching the replay. Connolly defo learned that on international duty from Shane Long, as that was right out of Long’s playbook that. Long is just better at it, but then he’s had years of practice. Rashford then thought he’d put United ahead but VAR ruled him offside. Interesting that Sian Massey-Ellis missed that one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her get a decision wrong before. I’m not being condescending there either, I think she’s fantastic. To be fair, it was a close one and who knows, maybe without VAR she would have taken the initiative and flagged. It’s going to be increasingly difficult judging the linos now with this “don’t put your flag up” directive they’ve been given. Rashford did finally manage to stay onside for once not long after and he raced clear to score a superb goal on the counter attack. That’s what you have to watch out for when you play United as other than winning penalties there’s not really anything else they do well. They can play on the break though as well as anyone so you need to watch that and Brighton didn’t. Connolly then pulled the old Longaroony again, this time on Maguire, but the ref was wise to him now and was having none of it. This one was a slightly more legitimate claim than the one he had earlier but still not enough for a pen. Brighton were peppering the United goal looking for the equaliser and March made it woodwork number four when his shot went across De Gea only to strike the inside of the far post. Then Trossard completed his hat-trick by blasting an effort against the bar. Unbelievable. Trossard then had a great chance from six yards out but toe poked it straight at De Gea. Awful miss that one. That felt like it might have been their last chance but incredibly March popped up at the back post five minutes into stoppage time to head in the equaliser. And that’s when it got REALLY crazy. United went down the other end and won a corner. From that corner Maguire sent a header towards goal but March headed it off the line. The final whistle then sounded, Brighton players congratulated March while Maguire ran to the referee claiming handball. As soon as they showed the replay I knew Brighton were fucked as that was a clear penalty. There have been loads of bullshit handball pens this season but that’s one that you just can’t argue about. Maupay led with his arm and the ball struck his hand. It clearly impacted the flight and power of Maguire’s header and without that touch maybe March can’t clear off the line? But the final whistle had gone, so obviously a lot of people weren’t happy about that. Personally I don’t have any issue with that. The offence happened before the whistle went. The ref hadn’t seen it but if VAR is there to look at things the ref doesn’t see then why should it not be used in this instance? I don’t think Brighton have any cause for complaint there, especially as it’s in the rule book that decisions can be given after the full time whistle if VAR has spotted something. The ref followed protocol and had no choice but to give the penalty. Where Brighton do have plenty of cause for complaint is in the amount of added time played. They were WELL over the allotted amount of injury time, and even allowing for the Brighton goal and the time it took to restart, this was still pure Fergie-time and the whistle should have gone well before the corner was taken. Of course Portuguese Gylfi scored the penalty. That’s all he does, the fucking one trick pony. I don’t think he’ll ever miss one as he’s great at them (it worked with Jorginho so I may as well give it another go). Of all the players at United he’s the one I can’t stand the most. Him and that cunt Maguire. This was United’s strongest line up and they were fucking shite. In fairness, I do think their (brief) involvement in European football at the end of last season is playing a part in how bad they look. Its not just them. Look around Europe and virtually all of the teams who were involved in the CL and Europa knock out games are suffering at the moment. Even Bayern lost 4-1 at the weekend, and that never happens. So that’s part of it, and the United we are seeing currently is not a true reflection of where they’re at. They’re not this bad, unfortunately. Of course they’re not particularly good either. I felt sorry for Brighton but United winning games in this fashion does not bother me. They aren’t a threat to us and while I always enjoy seeing them lose, if it happens too often they’ll eventually see Solskjaer for the “Norwegian Lampard” he is and they might actually appoint someone good. None of us want that to happen, so if it takes some more flukey wins like this to extend Ole’s stay at the wheel then sign me up for it. Final note on this. Rashford wore a mask in his post match interview. Not because he needed to as nobody else does. He’s behind a screen so it’s not necessary at all. He’s obviously done that to set an example and make a point. He’s such a good lad, Manchester United fans should be proud of him. Loads of them aren’t, because Tory Tory Man United. When the cunts are allowed back in they’ll still be singing about unemployment and how “you look in the dustbins for something to eat”. That’s probably why Rashford gets so much shit off his own fans any time he tweets about starving kids. “Fucks sake Marcus, if we get rid poverty and unemployment what are we gonna taunt the scouse bastards with?”. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that PL Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  11. Report by Dave Usher This sets the record straight somewhat. It wasn’t quite the mauling of Arsenal that I had hoped for but it’ll do. Some Arsenal fans had started to get a little bit carried away after those two most recent clashes between the sides and saw themselves as our equals when the truth is they’re nowhere near. The gap is massive. We dominated them at the Emirates but gifted them two goals and we should have beaten them in the Community Shield. We didn’t though and all of a sudden people were talking about Arteta having our number. They needed putting back in their box and this has gone some way towards doing that. We were brilliant from start to finish and showed that Arsenal are nowhere near our level. That being said, Arsenal are clearly better than they were because this level of performance would have been enough to see us beat them by ten not so long ago. They did well to dig in and stay in the game in the face of the relentless pressing they were subjected to and how good we were with the ball. They should probably feel pleased with themselves because the two previous results they had against us were flukes and by no means any indication of a “closing gap”. If anyone connected to Arsenal is disheartened by the gulf there was between the two sides in this game then it’s because they had kidded themselves into thinking the gap wasn’t as big as it is. We’re so much better than everybody else right now. We’ve never been this much better than all of the competition, not even in our 70s and 80s heyday. I know not everyone is comfortable saying this in case it blows up in our faces, but it’s true, we’re miles better than everyone. Over the last two seasons we’ve averaged 98 points. Whereas our closest competitors Man City have grown weaker year on year, we’ve kept all of our players and now added Thiago and Jota which makes us even stronger than the team that averages 98 points. I wouldn’t be surprised if the players already have it in their heads to try and beat last year’s 99 point total, as they’ll need to set themselves targets this year if nobody is going to push us. I know we’re only three games in but I’m not basing it on that. I’m basing it on the last couple of years and the general strength of our squad compared to everyone else. Seriously, who is going to be able to live with us this season? City won’t. United won’t. Chelsea won’t. Spurs? Nah. Arsenal won’t either, although unlike the rest of our ‘big six’ rivals they do at least seem to be on an upward curve. So are we though. We’ve still got the potential to get better. An already great team has now become even stronger by adding one of the best midfielders in the world and another forward who plays the same way as those we already have and thus gives us great depth. Thiago wasn’t even playing in this game and look how dominant we were. It’s scary how good we might be when he is playing. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  12. There is no doubt that the internet has changed the world; anyone who has lived before the era of smartphones can confirm this. But beyond all the obvious industries that followed suit because of this and had to transform to keep up, we can also see its effects in other areas. Football and bingo started out as leisure activities, but their presence has grown and evolved throughout time. Of course, the internet had a role in their change, too; and here’s how. Football and the internet Football is, without a doubt, a British staple. Keeping up with football has always been popular, and after the emergence of television, it became much more accessible to the public. Needless to say, the internet took this to the next level. It allowed for even more attention from all over the world, and this growing popularity also naturally meant that more money was at play. Today, not only is it extremely easy to watch matches from all over the world, it is also a breeze to look up any information on your favourite team you are curious about. With teams’ prominent presence on social media as well, you can keep up-to-date with what’s happening even if you don’t have a lot of time. This applies to both league and non-league football. In fact, fans of non-league clubs are thriving in this digital era where they can connect with other fans through social media. The fact that everyone has a voice on the internet means that non-league players and clubs can also gain popularity if they are a bit more social media-savvy and people notice this. Therefore, while the internet has made the gap between league and non-league football more prominent, it is not necessarily bad news for smaller clubs. The internet’s effects on bingo Another one of Britain’s favourite leisure activities is bingo. This game has a long history dating back to the 18th century, and it is basically a tradition that was standing strong until recently. A game of bingo used to involve socializing: getting together with other people, going out and visiting a bingo hall. Bingo halls used to be everywhere, and they were frequented by local bingo-enthusiasts regularly. In the 21st century, however, this activity, like many others, has also seen some big changes. As the number of bingo halls throughout the country was on a decline, a new form to enjoy this game emerged. The internet has provided us with online bingo, which many received with scepticism at first. Fans thought that this form of bingo would kill the game’s traditional spirit, however, what it had done is actually evoke interest in those who previously were not into this activity. If you read more about some online bingo sites, you will clearly see that it’s an easy and comfortable way to enjoy this game. Just choose whether you want to play 75-ball or 90-ball bingo, enter a room of your choosing and start marking off your numbers. Online bingo became a competition to physical bingo halls, which was a good incentive for them to step up their game, too. Soon, non-traditional bingo halls emerged and they started being creative with their offer; they paired bingo with other fun activities and organized events to evoke the interest of young people. What this means is that this game is certainly here to stay. Football and bingo are more than just leisure activities; they are important parts of many people’s lives and continue to be so even in the digital era. The internet has allowed more people to get interested and involved in these activities, as well as changed some aspects of the games. Who knows what the future holds for them?
  13. Saturday Sep 19: Jota is unveiled. You’d think that there was nothing left for our fans to moan about but I actually saw some whopper complaining about how our social media team sucks because the signing videos for Thiago and Jota were too similar. At least it’s original I suppose. Also seen a lot of complaining about the fee and that if we can pay £43m for Jota why couldn't we pay £50m for Werner. *sigh*. Ok, here we go, I'm off again... Right, first of all the financial implications of both deals are completely different. Most of the Werner fee (maybe all of it?) was due up front. We're paying £4m this year for Jota. So there's no comparison. Also, Werner's wages will be double what Jota is getting. Secondly, Jota is a much, much better fit for how we play. I'm not telling you he's better than Werner and will score more goals. But he's a more natural fit for the wide attacking positions in our team than arl no finesse Timo. Werner is much more similar to Danny Ings than he is Jota, and you can't sell Ings for £20m and then pay two and half times that much for someone who is a marginal upgrade at best. I'd back Ings to outscore Werner this season but there probably won't be much in it. They'll both get more than Jota because they'll play more games and they'll be playing centre forward rather than left wing. Give me Jota over Werner all fucking day though, and I reckon anyone who is still crying over Werner will be signing a different tune by the end of the season. We're meant to be signing some kid from Motherwell too. A 16 year old defender. Totally on board with this because you always want a Scot in your side. He might not make it but it's worth the risk. I'd probably sign one Scottish kid every year just in the hope that one of them comes through. The current Scotland captain meanwhile, says that a Manchester United player will get a standing ovation at Anfield when fans are eventually allowed back in. I hope so, I'll certainly be applauding Rashford the first chance I get and I genuinely couldn't give a fuck who he plays for. I hate United but not to the point where it stop me from applauding one of their players if he deserved it. It's like the goalkeeper thing. The Kop will applaud the United keeper when he takes his place in goal. I'm not sure Schmeichel got it (he may have, my memory isn't that good) but all the ones in recent seasons have been applauded. United fans would NEVER do that for our keepers and that's the difference between us and them. Rashford is a top lad and he seems to be more popular with our fans than he is with his own at the moment, although judging by the replies to him on social media I'd say that United fans who are actually from Manchester are a lot more proud of him than those who aren't. It's fucking mad. Just look at the responses any time he tweets about how kids shouldn't be starving in this country. It's a mix of overseas United fans telling him "concentrate on your football because you've been crap for a year", Liverpool fans telling him "well in lad" and random Tories from other clubs complaining that they don't want their taxes used to feed kids "whose dads have done a bunk" or "whose mums are smackheads". Sunday Sep 20: Chelsea 0 L 2 Any time you win away at Chelsea it’s a good day. We’ve almost reached a point now whereby we’re so fucking good, even when we win games like this you find yourself over-analysing and thinking “well we probably should have been better at X and I don’t think we did Y very well” and if you wanted to you could probably do it here too. It wasn’t a perfect performance but it was pretty damn good and we were miles better than Chelsea even before the sending off. We don’t need to be at full throttle with everyone playing out of their skin to win games anymore, but on those occasions when we are there is literally nobody that can live with us. Maybe that’s why even teams like Arsenal and Chelsea are scared stiff when they face us? Chelsea were ultra defensive today. It might just be that we penned them back and they couldn’t get out, but it was probably a case of them not really wanting to come out either. We didn’t create too many chances in the first half but it always felt like we were well in control and that eventually we’d make it count. Without the ball we were brilliant and Chelsea couldn't really do anything. Their only outlet was Werner on the counter attack, but his bull in a china shop approach didn't faze Fabinho who just kept taking it off him like a bully nicking a little kid's lunch money. Still, at 0-0 its always up for grabs regardless of how much you're on top. The sending off right before half time though ended any hope Chelsea had of holding out for anything. Brilliant vision and technique by Hendo and Sadio was clever in the way he got himself in front of the defender to force the foul. Hilarious that Lampard tried to say it wasn’t a definite red. Tit. With VAR that is a red card 100% of the time. He was clutching at all kinds of straws though. “If the sending off doesn’t happen, and if Kepa didn’t gift them a goal and if we had scored the penalty then it’s 1-1”. Yeah, and if you didn’t have a big moonface I wouldn’t be able to call you moonface, would I, moonface? He seems like a man who feels under pressure already. But then Roman has always had a notoriously quick trigger finger with under-performing managers, and ‘Lamps’ doesn’t have the ready made excuse of a transfer ban hampering him and forcing him to bring through youngsters this season does he? Spending £200m brings a whole different level of expectation. I actually think he’ll get the push before Solskjaer does. Something I didn’t pick up on initially so it’s not in the match report, but I saw it on Twitter today. On the penalty save, Milner comes from waaaaay back to get there first to help Virg make the clearance. The desire is the first thing that stands out, but it’s also the professionalism. He had no idea if Alisson would save the penalty but he acted as though he would and that the rebound would need to be cleared. It’s little things like that which make him a fucking superstar in my eyes. What a man. It was funny listening to Klopp afterwards when he said that they didn’t tell Thiago anything about what to do. He just went out and figured it out for himself and controlled the game. Imagine what he’ll do when they do give him instructions on what they want from him. Even without really doing anything exceptional, Thiago just has that presence and swagger about him. He carries himself like a superstar and everyone around him seems to view him as one, even other world class players seem to look at him like he’s a level above. This is just a teaser, click to view the full article Please note that the Week that Was is only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  14. Report by Dave Usher It was 10 years ago this week that we were humiliated at Anfield by Northampton. Obviously the club has come a long way since those dark days and we’re now the best team in the land, but I thought it was quite fitting to see the second string perform like they did at Lincoln. Northampton wasn't a one off either. We’ve spent decades struggling in these type of cup ties when the big hitters were rested and we had to call on the kids and fringe players. Now? I actually look forward to these games as much I do the ‘proper’ matches. Some of the most enjoyable games we’ve had in recent seasons have been when the second string has played in the cups. Arsenal and Everton last season were great. So too was the Shrewsbury replay when it was a team full of kids. This was more of a mixed line up but we had a bit of everything really. We had the star quality of Van Dijk, we had the fringe players like Shaqiri and Minamino, the wonder kids Jones and Elliott, the unknown youth teamer unexpectedly thrown in at the deep end as well as a couple of new signings making their debuts (Tsimikas looked good I thought). We also had a couple of lads in Big Div and my boy Grujic who maybe won’t be here much longer. Everyone played their part though. It was a real mish mash eleven and in the past whenever we’d done anything like this it would usually end up in a risible performance and a cup exit. Spurs away jumps out at me for some reason. I couldn’t even tell you who played that night but I remember it was a real shitshow. Probably people like Degen and Plessis were involved but I’ve kind of wiped it from memory so can’t be sure. Generally in the past when we've thrown together a team of kids and misfits, they've played like total strangers. That doesn't happen anymore. Win or lose they always look like a Klopp team. This was great. Not perfect, and the second half wasn’t good defensively after Virg went off, but scoring seven times away from home with a second string against the League One leaders isn’t anything to be sniffed at. The quality of some of the goals was ridiculous too. Shaq’s free-kick to open the scoring was a belter. I saw that coming a mile off and called goal before he even took it. I watched it at my parents house and as I'm sure I've mentioned before, Shaq is like the son my Dad always wanted. I don’t mind that, I love Shaq as well and wish he was my little brother so I could playfully slap him in a headlock and ruffle his expensive new hair. Love that little guy, he's fucking boss. This is just a teaser, click to view the full article Please note that Match Reports are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
  15. So last week I was rejoicing in it being a manc free weekend in the Premier League but both of them were back in action this week and frankly it was great. Well, half of it was. That United loss against Palace was great fun, as was the subsequent over the top reaction to it. There’s just no middle ground with them is there? When they’d beaten up on some shit teams their fans and the wider football media got far too carried away by it and convinced themselves that they were much better than they actually are. Now, after they lost at home to Palace, the opposite is happening. “Ole Out” was trending and there have been various discussions about his future on different media outlets. After one fucking game!!! There’s just something about Manchester United that provokes far more hysteria (positive and negative) than anyone else. It’s similar with us and Arsenal, but just not as ridiculous. All we’ve heard for months is how United are “back”. I didn’t buy into that and I’m not buying into the notion that they’re completely hopeless now because they’ve lost one game. They are what they are. They’ll be on a similar points total this year to what they managed last year and the year before. Not great, not terrible, just meh. Far be it for me to be the one to offer up a defence of Solskjaer, but it seems ridiculous that one loss has caused such a big about face. I think he’s shit and I hope they keep him for a long time, but this was one game and there were extenuating circumstances for how shit they were. Not least that they haven’t had a pre-season. They came in cold against a Palace team that was much better prepared than they were. I’d have been more surprised if they’d won, not least because they’re a bit shit when they can’t play on the counter attack, and Palace were never going to let them do that. Palace can do this to anyone though. Their record against top six sides over recent years is pretty good. They’ve basically beaten all of us at some point. You don’t want to fall behind against them because they can just dig in and play on the break, and they’re really good at it. There was nothing especially unusual or surprising about this result. Anyone who thinks there was hasn’t been paying attention or they were swept along by the ridiculous hype United have had since lockdown ended. The one thing that it was, of course, was fucking hilarious. It was hilarious even before it kicked off, with Patrice Evra saying live on Sky that Zaha was bombed out of United because of the rumours “true or untrue” that he was in a relationship with Moyesy’s daughter. This fella is a fucking idiot. How can you not know that there are certain things that are off limits when you’re on live telly? He shouldn’t have said anything at all but if he really felt like it was a point that needed making then you say something about ‘there were rumours about his personal life’ or something like that. You don’t just repeat what was essentially just a wild internet rumour. Of course it was hilarious, but Kelly having to apologise for him was excruciating. Make HIM apologise for it. Anyway, as has been said on countless occasions, Zaha (or more likely his solicitor) pointed out to Sky that the rumours were false and he’d never even met the daughter of David Moyes, let alone done anything else with her. So anyway, the game gets underway and Townsend gave Palace a deserved lead. He should have made it 2-0 actually as he had a couple more good chances. Palace were looking like they’d score every time they attacked, mainly because United’s defence is shite. They eventually doubled their lead from the spot in the most hilarious circumstances. Firstly, that’s never a pen in a million years. If that’s a penalty then every time the ball hits a defender’s arm in the box you’re going to have to give one, just for consistency. Or alternatively just keep giving them against United, that works too. The comedy wasn’t finished there though, as De Gea made a great save to deny Ayew and play went on for a good while before out of nowhere, BOOOOOM, the VAR ref said “nah ah Man United”. De Gea was an inch off his line so it had to be retaken. The rule is the rule and harsh as it seems, officials have been told they have to clamp down on this from now on. Solskjaer even acknowledged that was the right call but said he didn’t think it was a penalty. I agree with him, but considering how many pens they’ve had over the last couple of years sympathy will be in short supply. What makes this even better is that Palace not only got to retake the kick, they also got to change their taker. Ayew was fucked off and Zaha stepped up to bury the spot kick to add a capital ‘F’ on the Fuck you. United pulled one back through Van der Beek but Zaha punished them on the break late on to add a capital… erm.. UCK on the FUCK you. Goldbridge’s reaction to the retaken penalty was glorious. One of the funniest Goldbridge moments ever this (skip to around nine minutes in): It was raining goals this weekend though. I don’t know if that’s a result of no fans in stadiums or just because everyone is completely rusty and hasn’t had a pre-season to hone their defensive shape and organisation properly. It looks a bit amateurish though when so many goals are flying in. Makes for a more interesting MOTD on a Saturday night though. The Blues put five past West Brom in a game that was shaping up really nicely until Kieran Gibbs stupidly got himself sent off for clouting Rodriguez. Moron. This is just a teaser, click here to view the full article Please note that PL Round Ups are only available to website subscribers. Subscriptions cost just £2 a month (you need to register first) and can be purchased here.
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