Tag Archives: Manchester United

Bruno Fernandes exclusive: Manchester United’s ‘ghosts of the past’ and marking the referee

“Thirty-five minutes into the second assignment of the Premier League season and the scoreboard reads Brentford 4-0 Manchester United. An optimistic pre-season tour under new manager Erik ten Hag has given way to a season-opening defeat by Brighton at Old Trafford and then comes United’s most dismal half of football in recent memory in west London. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United showed why passing backwards to go forwards is so valuable

Manchester United’s opening goal against Arsenal was a thing of beauty. It wasn’t simply that the goal featured all 11 players, or the fact United cut through Arsenal’s lines smoothly. It was about how they created the situation — playing four backwards passes and going from level with the opposition penalty area right back to their goalkeeper. It was a perfect demonstration of the value of going backwards. …”
The Athletic: Michael Cox

Money to Burn: Lessons From the Premier League’s Transfer Window

“… This is what the Premier League does every year, of course: Every summer, and most winters, its clubs descend on Europe, the cash from infinitely spiraling television deals burning a hole in their pockets, and proceed to hose an entire continent with money. They swamp it, they flood it, they drown it with their wealth. And then, at the end of August, they go home, armed with a few more Brazilian playmakers and Swedish strikers, ready to play the games that will earn the money for them to do it all over again in a few months. …”
NY Times

Is this the worst Premier League foul ever?

“Some fouls leave you wincing. Some are debatable. And some leave players with lasting damage. The Premier League is widely regarded as the most competitive league in the world, so naturally, there have been some hefty challenges. But which is the worst foul committed in the Premier League? Seb Stafford-Bloor writes. Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube

Milner vs Van Dijk: Who was to blame for Manchester United’s opener against Liverpool


Jadon Sancho’s composed opener had only just hit the back of the net, but the inquest had already begun. As he rolled the ball past James Milner, Sancho only had Virgil van Dijk between him and the goal. Van Dijk held his ground, hands behind his back as he looked to cover the space, before Sancho slotted in the bottom-left corner. … The question is, who was right? Could Van Dijk have done any more, or did Milner have a point? …”
The Athletic (Video)

Manchester United Powers Through in Win Over Liverpool Amid Transfer Chaos, Protests


“Football has a remarkable habit of making fools of us all. When it was pointed out after Liverpool’s surprise draw against Crystal Palace last Monday that Manchester United could go above Liverpool if it beat Jürgen Klopp’s side, it was with a smirk. Even after Liverpool’s patchy start to the season, such a thing seemed implausible. After all, United had beaten Liverpool only once in the last 12 league meetings, Liverpool had lost only one game—the Champions League final—all year and United had produced probably its worst performance in half a century at Brentford last Saturday. And yet United was good value for its 2–1 win. …”
SI – Jonathan Wilson
Guardian: Why have Liverpool made such a slow start to the Premier League season?
Liverpool’s Biggest Rival in 2022-23 is Father Time

Cox: United played like Solskjaer’s underdogs — but Sancho goal was typical Ten Hag


“They say the form book goes out of the window in big matches like Manchester United versus Liverpool, but if anything, it was Erik ten Hag’s coaching handbook that went out of the window. Last night, we learnt very little about Manchester United’s future direction under the Dutchman but learnt a lot about Ten Hag himself. This was a deeply pragmatic tactical approach from Ten Hag, designed with the opposition and United’s previous performances in mind. Overall statistics can be misleading considering United led from the 16th minute and the onus was on Liverpool to dominate. …”
The Athletic

Premier League at 30: How football has changed


“‘Football didn’t start in 1992.’ It did not, but it did change forever. Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the Premier League replacing the Football League First Division at the top of the English football tree. Here is what has happened in those 30 years and how the Premier League and the world has changed. …”
BBC (Video)

Manchester United – what the rest of football thinks about a club in crisis

“No club in English football sets tongues wagging like Manchester United. Love them or hate them, in good times and bad, they are a source of endless intrigue and debate. As much as that applies to fans of every club, it applies to those who work within the game. For much of the past nine years, the entire industry has looked on with a sense of fascination — at times morbid fascination — as the empire Sir Alex Ferguson built has crumbled. …”
The Athletic (Video)
NY Times: Manchester United Isn’t for Sale, but a Piece of It Might Be

Manchester United fallout: Running, strained relations and Ten Hag changing mind on Ronaldo


“On Wednesday morning, Manchester United’s players reported for training and began work on a tactical plan devised by manager Erik ten Hag for the weekend trip to Brentford. Ten Hag’s first fixture in charge, a 2-1 home defeat by Brighton the previous Sunday, had constituted a major setback and he informed his players of two substantial tweaks to his line-up. The first was to restore ageing superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to the starting line-up after only being on the bench against Brighton, which in turn facilitated the second alteration, which would see new signing Christian Eriksen end his brief, befuddling spell as a false nine and instead operate far deeper as a defensive midfielder. As such, two positions were tweaked but only one player dropped out of the side beaten at Old Trafford — midfielder Scott McTominay. …”
The Athletic (Video)

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

“… 3) Hammers looking to find rhythm. David Moyes was in no mood to deliberate after West Ham slipped to a second successive defeat, though it was not for the want of trying at Nottingham Forest; they had a goal disallowed, twice hit the underside of the crossbar and Declan Rice saw a penalty saved. Moyes said he hopes their Europa Conference League playoff first leg at home to Viborg on Thursday will help them establish some rhythm after a disappointing start. …”
Guardian

Manchester United are a mess. It’s not new, but it is deeply shocking


“… Yes, we know, Cristiano Ronaldo’s most recent episodes of self-importance have left everyone suspecting that he would rather be just about anywhere else than wearing the lime green cocktail number that qualifies as United’s new away kit. Yes, we know, Donny van de Beek only appears from the United substitute bench after the clock has passed the 80-minute mark. So, yes, we know it all. We have heard it all. We have seen it all. And yet, somehow, each week manages to conjure a new sense of stupefying shock. At half-time, Brentford, who had not beaten Manchester United since 1938, led their opponents. And this was more than a lead. This was 4-0 and deservedly so. And there was, in the press box, almost a numbing madness to it all. Brentford’s supporters, too, stared at one another, open-mouthed. …”
The Athletic (Video)
BBC – Brentford 4-0 Manchester United: ‘A joke’, ‘bullied’ & ‘rotten’ – are Man Utd at rock bottom? (Video)
Guardian: Erik ten Hag says Manchester United players put tactical plan ‘in the bin’ (Video)

Why the through ball is becoming a dying art in European football


“The number of through balls in the UEFA Champions League dropped 50 per cent between the 2018-19 and 2021-22 seasons. In Europe’s top five leagues, the number of through balls dropped on average 30 per cent over the same period. In the Europa League, it dropped 24 per cent. The through ball is not extinct, but it is endangered.Before examining why, we need to define the term. FBref data define a through ball as a: ‘Completed pass sent between the back defenders into open space.’ It is a complex pass to complete, hence the number of through balls is never particularly high and is in fact lower than the goals-per-game total in Europe’s top divisions. …”
The Athletic (Video)

What you may have missed on the Premier League’s opening weekend


“The Premier League is back — and it was a dramatic opening weekend with promoted Fulham holding would-be champions Liverpool to a draw, Erling Haaland scoring two goals on debut for Manchester City and Manchester United losing at home, with Cristiano Ronaldo starting the visit of Brighton on the bench. But away from the main talking points, our The Athletic staff have picked out some of things you may have missed from the first round of 10 matches. Let us know what you spotted in the comments section below. …”
The Athletic

The Adrien Rabiot paradox: What exactly would Manchester United be getting?

“Veronique Rabiot believed her son, Adrien, would have made a fine fencer. It’s a discipline the French have a strong tradition in, going back to the 1896 Athens Olympics, and it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a tall white-jacketed figure advancing up the piste, a balestra here, a fleche there, ready to pull off his mask at the end of a bout to reveal Adrien and those long, wavy locks. Unfortunately for sabre-rattlers, he chose football instead. …”
The Athletic

The Ted Lasso fan’s guide to the Premier League: Your starting point for the 2022-23 season


“We’re not sure when Ted Lasso’s third and (maybe) final season will drop, but it’s never too early to start preparing for how you’ll fill the void once it ends — and this week provides the perfect opportunity. AFC Richmond won promotion back up to the Premier League at the end of the show’s second season, but the real thing kicks off on Friday for another year with plenty of comedy and drama of its own. So if you’re one of the many Ted Lasso fans who haven’t gotten invested in the real-life Premier League just yet, now’s the time to dive in — if only so you’ll be prepared for all the new details sure to be included in season three. Ted Lasso’s landmark licensing deal with the Premier League means lines between the two will be blurred more than ever when it does return. …”
The Athletic (Video)
BBC – Premier League 2022-23: Everything you need to know as new season starts (Video)
NY Times: They Got to the Premier League. Staying? That’s the Hard Part.

Predicting the transfer market: Nunez, Haaland and league exchange rates


“It was hardly surprising that at least three of the Premier League’s leading clubs were interested and, ultimately, that one of them ended up taking the plunge. The striker had scored freely in his domestic league, was a good age and, on the face of it, had all the attributes — physical in particular but technical too — to succeed in England. … Either way, it is interesting to cast your eye down the table below and wonder what the numbers will look like for Manchester City’s Erland Haaland and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez — the Premier League’s two biggest imports this summer — at the end of their first season in England. Nunez came off the bench to score in Saturday’s Community Shield victory whereas Haaland missed a sitter late on, but how will their contribution be viewed in May next year? …”
The Athletic (Video)

What is Arsenal? Why are teams called United? What is a Hotspur? A history of English football names


“There are 13 clubs known as United in English football’s top four divisions. Aside from its array of Citys and Towns, ‘the 92’ also include three Wanderers, five Rovers, a couple of Athletics and a Rangers. There are a trio of Albions and just as many Countys. In contrast, as those from a corner of Devon will insist, there is only one Argyle. On top of all those suffixes can be added, among other quirks, an Arsenal and a Vale. There are names to conjure images of elegant stately homes or gleaming palaces of glass, all memories from yesteryear… as well as a day of the week. …”
The Athletic

Premier League owners: Who is in charge of your club?


“With the 2022-23 campaign quickly coming into focus and the summer transfer window in full flow, many Premier League owners are in the spotlight once again. Following the Chelsea takeover and the promotion of Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest, there will be some new faces at the table this season. So, who owns your lot? See below for a breakdown of the ownership structure and board make-up of all 20 Premier League clubs…”
The Athletic

Three Tales From the Transfer Market

“Let’s try something different in this week’s newsletter: A journey through modern soccer in three (vaguely related) stories. … 2. Lessons Do Not Get Learned. … Nobody watched Manchester United flailing in the Premier League and said: Yes, the issue here is the in-form left back. Nonetheless, the first signing of Manager Erik ten Hag’s tenure at Old Trafford was a left-back: Tyrell Malacia, to be exact, drafted in from the Dutch club Feyenoord. He will soon be joined, it seems, by Lisandro Martínez, an Argentine defender, and Christian Eriksen, a Danish midfielder, and Frenkie de Jong, currently with Barcelona, and possibly even the Brazilian forward Antony. …”
NY Times

Premier League five-a-side teams: who would you pick for your club?


“… We tasked our Premier League reporters with picking a five-a-side team from the club that they cover. There are some obvious picks — and some less obvious ones. The rules: *The ball is not allowed over head height  *Slide tackles are forbidden *Each team must have a goalkeeper and they can’t come out of the area *Outfield players are not allowed in the area *They can score from anywhere outside the area. Here we go then. Please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly with their picks in the comments section…”
The Athletic

Premier League winners and losers: set pieces, sprinting, nutmegging and fouling


“Manchester City are champions, Tottenham Hotspur grabbed the final Champions League spot and Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min share the golden boot trophy. The main prizes have now been handed out, but take a look under the bonnet and there are plenty of alternative awards to be handed out to players and teams. Some of them are insightful, some of them are utterly pointless. All of them are fun. Here we go… ”
The Athletic
The Analyst
Guardian – Premier League 2021-22 season review: our writers’ best and worst
***ESPN: How VAR decisions affected every Premier League club in 2021-22 (Video)
***W – 2021–22 Premier League

Introducing playstyle wheels – The Athletic’s way of capturing ways a team play well (or not)


“There are a lot of numbers in football that measure success. Goals and points are the original analytics, and newer stats such as expected goals and possession value are just increasingly fine-grained ways to model how likely goals are to happen. They’ll give you the bottom line: is this team or player doing things that help put the ball in the net or keep it out? Basically, are they good at football? It’s harder to measure how they’re good at football. …”
The Athletic

Sean Dyche, Ulla Klopp and whoever saves Everton: Who deserves a statue at your Premier League club?


“Ten years on from ‘Aguerooooooooo!’ and Manchester City’s first Premier League title win, the club yesterday unveiled a statue of their former striker at the Etihad Stadium. Aguero’s iconic stoppage-time winner in their 3-2 victory against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season will be remembered forever by City fans, so it is only right that he has been immortalised in galvanised steel. But who deserves a statue at your Premier League club? And who will be next at City? We’ve asked our Premier League club reporters to explain their choices and if you think they’ve got it drastically wrong then please let us know in the comment. …”
The Athletic

The Most Decisive Goals in Premier League History


“Today marks 10 years since Aguero. You remember: 93:20. Balotelli’s assist. The Goal That Changed Everything. The Match That Had Everything. Joe Hart on throw-in duties. Joey Barton’s long walk off. A surprisingly iconic QPR away kit. I think Edin Dzeko did something or other. Drink it in. I swear you’ll never see anything like this again. Sometimes goals are so iconic that they don’t need a date or a time. Just a single name. Michael Thomas, Jimmy Glass. Aguero. …”
The Analyst (Video)

When Were the 2021-22 Premier League Teams Last Relegated From the Top Flight?


Woolwich Arsenal, playing at Highbury, in the Second Division, in 1913. Crazy but true.
“The demotion season is upon us. In the next few weeks three teams will drop out of the Premier League, to be replaced by Fulham (promoted this week) and two others. As it stands it will be Norwich City, Watford and Burnley going down, but just how long is it since each of the 20 clubs currently in the Premier League last experienced relegation? Because make no mistake, they all have, just some more recently than others. …”
The Analyst (Video)

United’s pitiful goal kicks, Liverpool’s triangles and a difference in desire


“Four minutes on the clock and Liverpool have the first goal kick of the game. Thirteen passes later and Liverpool have scored the first goal of the game, too. That passage of play proved to be yet another example, both with and without the ball, of the chasm between these two teams. Manchester United had three goal kicks inside the opening 25 minutes. David de Gea kicked two balls straight out of play — Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, had to take cover on one of them — and on the third occasion, when United tried to play out from the back, it was car-crash football. If we’re being generous, United managed three complete passes across those three restarts. …”
The Athletic

Manchester United short on the intensity the modern game demands


“It is a mark of what a sorrowful environment Manchester United has become, a place of mournful noises, clanking chains, shouts through the wall, that the only idea to have met with near-unanimous approval in the past few months was the prospect of bulldozing Old Trafford into the ground and starting over. There are at least some notes of comfort before the Premier League meeting with Liverpool on Tuesday night. …”
Guardian

The education of Erik ten Hag


“Erik ten Hag’s family home is in Oldenzaal, a small town about seven or eight miles outside Enschede, not far from the Dutch-German border. It’s one of those places where you can tell there’s a bit of money kicking around, but people aren’t flash about it. It’s an incredibly peaceful town. You can’t really tell whether it’s rush hour on a Monday morning or 3pm on a Wednesday, and you’re more in danger of getting knocked over by a bike than a car. …”
The Athletic (Audio)
W – Erik ten Hag

FA Cup and Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


Brennan Johnson puts an arm round Ryan Yates after the midfielder
“… 4) Saints must take heart from City dates. Southampton will draw considerable strength from previous results this season against the Premier League leaders. They shared the points home and away with Pep Guardiola’s side, a head-to-head record bettered only by Crystal Palace and Tottenham. No reason to feel intimidated then, especially with Manchester City’s usually smooth engine spluttering ever so slightly. On the downside for Southampton, arguably the best prolonged spell of form since Ralph Hassenhüttl arrived has been abruptly ended by three straight defeats in the league. Booking a place in the FA Cup semi-finals would be just the tonic. …”
Guardian (Video)

In Derby Without Drama, City Wins a Laugher



“There was no tension in the last few minutes. It had gone long before the fourth goal arrived, marking the point at which victory turned into a rout. So had what little anxiety, what scant fretfulness might still have lingered. Instead, in the final few minutes of a derby, Manchester City’s fans could let go and enjoy themselves. Theirs was not a vicarious joy. There was pleasure, of course, to be had in the sight of Manchester United, once again, reduced to chasing shadows, grasping hopelessly at air, its players’ heads hanging and its fans silently trooping away. But as the minutes ticked by, the Etihad Stadium grew a little tired of crowing. …”
NY Times
Guardian: Manchester United flounder without foundations to build upon – Jonathan Wilson
BBC: Manchester United players ‘not good enough or don’t care’ – pundits react to derby defeat (Video)

Premier League: 10 things to look out for this weekend


Douglas Luiz midfielder Aston Villa
“… 4) Gerrard seeks Villa midfield spark. Steven Gerrard has lost more matches than he has won as Aston Villa manager. There were redeeming qualities in the defeats to Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, but nothing to admire in last week’s awful performance at Newcastle. The centre-backs performed competently but their attackers were hardly involved, principally because Villa’s midfield allowed Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton to run the show. That is damning of John McGinn and Douglas Luiz and helps explain why Gerrard was so keen to sign Brighton’s Yves Bissouma in January. …”
Guardian

Premier League without VAR: Arsenal in Champions League places; Everton soar to safety


“It’s now five long years since Arsenal last played in the Champions League, and in fact this season is their first without any kind of European football since 1995-96. Mikel Arteta is trying to put that right, but finds his team in sixth place which, at best, is only going to be good enough for a place in the Europa League — where the Gunners were marooned for the past four seasons. But ESPN can reveal that without the decisions of the VAR, Arsenal would already be sitting pretty in fourth spot and dreaming of that place back among Europe’s elite. This season we’re looking at all VAR (video assistant referee) decisions across the Premier League, and seeing how they might have affected the outcome of games. …”
ESPN (Video)

Ajax, Barca, Bayern among Europe’s great treble winners


“The Bavarians’ success was remarkable given they changed their coach earlier in the campaign, appointing Hans-Dieter Flick as head coach. Flick had been the number two at Bayern and had filled similar roles with RB Salzburg and the German national team. Prior to that, he was coach of Hoffenheim in the regional league. While Flick inherited a team, he rekindled the fire at Bayern and won three major prizes. Bayern Munich joined eight previous winners of the ‘treble’. …”
Game of the People

Mason Greenwood, Harriet Robson, and a World Designed to Protect Assaulters


“… In light of the video and audio clips published by Harriet Robson, implicating Mason Greenwood of physical assault and rape, Manchester United’s statement reads: ‘We are aware of images and allegations circulating on social media. We will not make any further comment until the facts have been established. Manchester United does not condone violence of any kind.’ This isn’t new territory for Manchester United. Their star player, a constant presence on social media channels, and team leader — Cristiano Ronaldo — has a pretty compelling case waiting against him in the United States. The world was different in 2009, and Cristiano’s case got neatly brushed under the carpet and everyone moved on. …”
Football Paradise
W – Mason Greenwood

Newcastle Are Moving Fast and Breaking Things in a Bid to Stay Alive


“Look: Manchester City will win the Premier League title. If you’d like to foster the belief that alternative outcomes are possible, then by all means characterize the two-point swing in the title race just before the international break as ‘significant’ or even inconvenient for the reigning champions. Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters darting across City’s back line and striking a blow against Pep Guardiola’s Goliath; Hakim Ziyech’s magnum opus against Tottenham; Liverpool triumphing over Crystal Palace in a must-win game amid penalty controversy—this is all the kind of blockbuster stuff that suggests the pulse of the title race is quickening. It amounts to City now being just nine points clear at the top of the table now. …”
The Ringer

How do you value a player?


“Last year a Premier League club invited their scouts to a training day where one of the exercises focused on valuations, starting with the price of a large latte from Starbucks. Everyone had to log on via an app and enter the value. A pint of beer in the local pub was next, followed by a four-bedroom detached house in a particular town in the north west. … What is Mbappe worth with six months remaining on his contract? Actually, what is any player worth? …”
The Athletic

What if every Premier League club could make one exciting (but plausible) signing before the deadline?


“Each club in the Premier League has different needs in the transfer market. Some are constrained by finances. All are constrained by time. But what if they weren’t? We’ve gone through every single Premier League side and come up with one signing they would love to make before deadline day. …’
Squawka

The Aston Villa Revolution Will Be Televised


“You’ll be shocked to learn that a lot of soccer coverage, maybe even most, is results-driven. For instance, we were exactly 22 minutes away from another dispatch on the fragile Manchester United restoration project; Ralf Rangnick’s vulnerable, developing creation meekly pressing its head out of an awkward cocoon stage against lower-table opposition. They were winning 2-0 at Villa Park, and the second Bruno Fernandes goal, thumped in off the crossbar, felt like something wriggling free. But United still lack the ability of other big clubs to put the game out of sight, and Aston Villa are surprisingly resilient. …”
The Ringer (Video)

A trip to Dubai, ‘Yellow days’ or time off: What will your club’s players be doing during the Premier League break?


“It has snuck up on us in a whirl of postponed fixtures, the FA Cup’s third round and the Carabao Cup semi-finals but this weekend is the last push before the Premier League takes a two-week break. Don’t worry, there’s going to be plenty of football to keep us going in the meantime — with the EFL continuing, the Africa Cup of Nations’ knockout phase, World Cup qualifiers and the FA Cup fourth round to keep us entertained — but it’s an opportunity for many Premier League squads to get some time on the training pitch or simply take a well-deserved rest. Ralf Rangnick has opted to give his Manchester United players six days off, and the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea will also have extended breaks. But Newcastle United (Saudi Arabia) and Arsenal (Dubai) are off to warmer climes. Here, The Athletic’s club writers give you the rundown of what your lads are going to be up to over the next couple of weeks…”
The Athletic
W – 2022 EFL Cup Final

Players to Watch in 2021-22: The Analyst 50 (Part I)


“After a summer of frantic international football tournaments across the globe, the new domestic league season is now on the horizon. Ninety-eight teams will battle it out across the top five European leagues, with titles to be won, European football to be secured and relegation to be avoided and we wanted to give you a guide on some of the players to watch in 2021-22. We recruited the very best of Stats Perform’s data editors to give us a list of 50 players. These players aren’t who they think are the greatest – you’ve all read that. This is a selection of 50 players that we think will make an impact in 2021-22. Some are obvious, some less so. Let’s dive in to The Analyst 50, with the first 25 players. …”
The Analyst (July 2021) Part I (Video), Part II (Video)

Cliques in football dressing rooms: The good, the bad and the ugly


“‘When it comes to dressing-room dynamics, one of the major issues you’ve got is that there’s no other industry in the world where, on the most important day of the week, over 50 per cent of the workforce isn’t used for the big moment,’ a Premier League coach tells The Athletic. … We are talking about dressing-room cliques: why they form, what damage they can do, and how managers can try to prevent divides and schisms from creating bigger problems. …”
The Athletic

‘How Liverpool can climb Everest again’ – Danny Murphy on why title race is not over yet


“With Manchester City’s brilliance and the way they are so relentless and clinical when it comes to winning games, it looks like Liverpool are climbing Everest with their title bid this season. It’s worth remembering they have done it before, though. Right now, catching City looks extremely unlikely but then Jurgen Klopp’s side have already beaten the odds to triumph a few times in recent years. So, although it is going to take an absolutely unbelievable effort for them to stop City retaining their Premier League crown from here, there are a few reasons I would not write the Reds off yet. …”
BBC (Video)

UEFA Champions League round of 16 classics


“Taking in José Mourinho’s touchline charge, La Remontada and plenty more besides, UEFA.com picks out a classic last-16 tie from each of the last 18 seasons. The 2021/22 UEFA Champions League is the 19th edition since the knockout round of 16 replaced the second group stage. UEFA.com picks out a classic tie from each of the past 18 seasons – all headline scores are aggregate. …”
UEFA (Video)

It’s Too Soon to Panic for Manchester United and Ralf Rangnick


“Earlier this month, in the 54th minute of a Champions League draw against Young Boys, Manchester United fans serenaded Ole Gunnar Solskjaer—and not for the first time since he was sacked. This was strange for two reasons: First, it offered a loving kiss goodbye that no Premier League manager really gets to have—particularly one who was posted to the position for less than five years, and whose only contribution to the trophy cabinet in that time was a Europa League runners-up medal. Second, the future without Solskjaer looks brighter than it has on the Red side of Manchester in eight years, since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. For real this time. …”
The Ringer (Audio/Video)
The Athletic: What made Sir Alex Ferguson so successful? (Audio/Video)
The Athletic: ‘You win nothing without kids’ – Alex Ferguson’s obsession with youth
Guardian – ‘Not a problem of formation’: Rangnick bemoans Manchester United physicality
YouTune: Alex Ferguson: The Man, The Myth, The Manager

Explained: How and when the Premier League will reschedule its postponed fixtures


“The Premier League postponements just keep on coming. After gameweek 18 on December 18 and 19 was decimated by COVID-19 outbreaks at several clubs, with six of the round’s 10 fixtures being pushed back, the Premier League’s Boxing Day programme was also hit by a further three postponements among the nine scheduled games. Further disruption is inevitable as the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to spread. Gameweek 20, on December 28 to 30, already shorn of two fixtures and increased uncertainty over Everton’s home match against Newcastle United on Thursday. The postponements present the Premier League officials with a problem. …”
The Athletic

2021 was the year when football’s silent majority finally found its voice


A mural in Rome depicting Juventus president Andrea Agnelli puncturing a football with a knife. Juve backed the doomed European Super League breakaway.
“Remarkably, the website is still live. Eight months after the European Super League disintegrated in an embarrassing fireball, you might think its founders would be minded to erase all trace of their hubris and humiliation. But perhaps that would be to credit them with too much competence. And so there it remains to this day: ‘The Super League is a new European competition between 20 top clubs comprised of 15 founders and five annual qualifiers.’ Well, good luck with that. There is, of course, an alternative theory. After all, the Super League is still not quite dead in a legislative sense; certainly not if you believe the loud and persistent avowals of Andrea Agnelli at Juventus, Joan Laporta at Barcelona and Florentino Pérez at Real Madrid, the three remaining hoarse men of the apocalypse. …”
Guardian

Premier League: Man City on top but no team in control of title race – Alan Shearer analysis


“Manchester City will be top at Christmas after winning eight straight games but I don’t think any team will take control of this Premier League title race for a long time yet. At the moment, it is City’s turn to make everyone say ‘wow’ at the way they are playing. Some of their football is amazing and they are strolling through many of their matches. They currently look the team to stop, but I have thought the same about Liverpool and Chelsea at different times this season and I am sure we will soon be talking again how strong those two look….”
BBC (Video)

Who are the 10 best players in the Premier League?


“First things first. Let’s not even pretend this is a serious piece of journalism. It’s a game, a fun bit of distraction to force us all to argue with each other and berate everyone else’s bad opinions. So, please, enjoy it for what it is and join the debate — but be nice. It’s just football, right? Here’s the game: name the 10 best players in the Premier League. On general talent, not just the form they’ve been in for the past few weeks. And you have to put them in order, with No 1 the best. It’s actually really hard. Does Harry Kane deserve a place despite his nightmare of a season so far? Is Mohamed Salah plus nine Manchester City players a valid top 10? How do you compare apples and oranges? We asked our writers and editors to have a go, then averaged out the answers to come up with this. Outraged? Again, have a go yourself. We don’t mind being told we’re wrong. …”
The Athletic
The Athletic – Fantasy Premier League: The players on my watchlist for the festive fixtures (Dec. 3, 2021)

What Do We Mean by Good Soccer?



“Jesse Lingard was streaking away, the ball at his feet, on the right wing. Their legs weary and their hopes dwindling, Arsenal’s defenders heaved and hauled to keep up with him, as if they were running into a stiff wind. And on the other side of the field, Cristiano Ronaldo started to sprint. It was a true sprint, too, a track sprint, a coached sprint: starting in a low crouch, his back straightening as he reached full tilt, head held high, arms pumping. The clock had just ticked past 90 minutes, but there seemed to be a magnet drawing Ronaldo to Arsenal’s penalty area, some elemental force. …”
NY Times

The rise of the underlap


“Imagine you’re Andrew Robertson in the Merseyside derby and you see Sadio Mane up ahead about to gather a loose ball at the corner of the box and dribble at the defence. You’ve got a quick decision to make. One thing you could do is hang back and let Mane try to beat his man one-on-one. After all, you’re nominally a defender, and if Liverpool lose the ball someone will have to stop Andros Townsend and Richarlison from counter-attacking up your flank. …”
The Athletic (Video)

ESPN FC 100: Messi, Lewandowski, Oblak among No. 1s; Premier League has most representatives


“For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN presents its annual ranking of the best men’s players and coaches in world soccer! Welcome to FC 100. As always, rankings are broken down into Top 10 lists for positions, plus a countdown of managers, in order to present the most meaningful look at talent on the pitch and the sideline. Whereas last year was dominated by Liverpool and Bayern Munich — the clubs combined for eight of the 10 No. 1 spots — the leaders in this year’s edition are spread across six teams, with none having more than two men on top of their respective category. …”
ESPN (Video)
Go to: Goalkeeper | Right-back | Centre-back | Left-back | Central midfield | Attacking midfield | Winger | Forward | Striker | Manager

The rise of Ralf Rangnick, godfather of German coaching, manager of Manchester United


“This week wasn’t the first time Ralf Rangnick had been interviewed for a job at Manchester United. Or that’s how it felt to him, at least. In the autumn of 2019, United’s football director John Murtough travelled to Leipzig to study the Red Bull football group’s facilities and corporate strategy. A proud Rangnick, eager to show off a Champions League club he had essentially built himself, hosted Murtough for eight hours, at the end of which the German sensed that the real reason for the visit might have been him. His suspicion that he had been sounded out was strengthened when he got word that an unnamed club was conducting background research into his working methods, tapping into his mentor Helmut Gross, a trained structural engineer turned tactical maverick, and Lars Kornetka, a long-time Rangnick collaborator, for insight into his footballing beliefs and his character. …”
The Athletic
W – Ralf Rangnick
YouTube: Brief History Of: Ralf Rangnick

Scipio Africanus and the Carthaginians: The Flank Dilemma in the Premier League


“… As funny as this may sound, the famous general was actually right. But the question is, how do you make the other bastard look dumb? Well… you deploy the best tricks up your sleeve to fool them. Let’s rewind back to the Third Punic War when Scipio Africanus ran a ‘clever trick’ on the Carthaginians at the Battle of Ilipa. Both the Romans and the Carthaginians had armies composed of their well-trained, homegrown soldiers and not-so reliable Iberian allies, almost half/half for each. For a few days, the two armies were camped close to each other and would come out during the day and form up. Scipio always put his legionnaires in the center and positioned his Iberians on the wings, whilst the Carthaginians followed their lead and did the same with their army and engaged in a staring contest. …”
Breaking The Lines

Cox: City can beat elite teams without a prolific forward – it’s against the cautious sides it becomes a problem 


“Sometimes it feels like every Manchester City game is a test of whether playing without a prolific forward is viable, and the consensus can swing wildly from one match to the next. But City’s upcoming week might demonstrate why. On Wednesday, they face Paris Saint-Germain — a side averaging 62 per cent possession in Ligue 1, and naturally attack-minded by virtue of having multiple superstar forwards. Either side of PSG’s visit, City host Everton and West Ham United, two of the more cautious sides in the Premier League. Everton are averaging just 41 per cent of possession, the fourth-least in the league, and while West Ham are more positive in that respect, only Newcastle United pressure the opposition less frequently in the final third than David Moyes’ side. City’s next three opponents are typical of their managers. …”
The Athletic – Michael Cox

Solskjaer Out at Manchester United After a Loss Too Far


“Manchester United had not done it after a humiliation by Liverpool. And the club’s executives had managed to tolerate the sight of Manchester City’s cruising to victory at Old Trafford while barely breaking a sweat. After each defeat, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the manager who had overseen both calamities, somehow remained in his post. He could not, though, survive a third. Solskjaer had promised, two weeks on since that defeat against Manchester City, that his team would react, that it would use the embarrassment as fuel for the rest of the season. …”
NY Times

The ‘problem Cristiano Ronaldo is creating at Man Utd’


“It’s possible to have too much of a good thing. And in Manchester United’s case, it’s possible to have too many good attackers. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is compelled to play as many of United’s big-name attackers as possible. But in doing so is sacrificing balance and defensive awareness. As Michael Cox writes playing Cristiano Ronaldo, with little defensive desire, is making United worse. Illustrated by Marco Bevilacqua.”
YouTube

When the Solution Is the Problem


That split-second when everyone thinks the ends justify the means.
“Not once, in two decades, had David Beckham heard the moment. He had witnessed it at the time, of course. More than that, in fact: He had summoned it and created it and lived it. He had, presumably, watched the moment more than once in the intervening years, too. But it was not until a couple weeks ago that he sat down and listened to it. The moment he did was — obviously — captured for posterity, a social media post as meta as they come: a man recording his own reaction to a recording of himself. As Beckham listens, he has a look of fierce concentration on his face, mixed with just a little genuine concern, as if he really does not know how it all ends. The audio plays in the background, an echo of his past: the last couple minutes of the BBC radio commentary of England’s meeting with Greece on the road to the 2002 World Cup. …”
NY Times (Audio)

Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action


“… 3) Off-key De Bruyne struggling for form: On 59 minutes there was the rare sight of Kevin De Bruyne being substituted, Manchester City’s talismanic midfielder having been clumsy of touch, short of a yard and generally misfiring. Pep Guardiola is a big fan but he is also ruthless and this was the correct decision. Of the 30-year-old, who has struggled with injuries, he said: ‘Kevin is such an important player for us and an excellent person. He is trying more every single day [to return to top form]. Today he made a step forward in many things. About playing or resting him – this is my decision because I know a lot of information about a player. In seasons there are highs and lows, big moments and the next one [game] is another challenge, another opportunity. Kevin knows it. He has done more than good since he arrived here and wants to continue to do it. The problem is when he gives up trying, says it doesn’t matter. That is not the case with him.’ …”
Guardian (Video)

Tactics and Thunder: Analysing Antonio Conte’s suitability for Manchester United


When deeper, Conte’s teams prioritise compactness over pressure and work to block spaces centrally and force the opponent wide. When the ball is moved, all players move across in unison.
“No one can have missed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems to be on the brink at Manchester United and clinging onto his job as the club’s manager. It’s being reported that the Norwegian needs positive results in the coming matches to remain in charge of United, highlighting United’s indecisiveness regarding their managerial situation. Surely, if the club officials were 100% behind Solskjaer, they would keep him regardless of the result at Tottenham on Saturday, or Manchester City next week? Equally, if they doubt him, why is he still in charge? …”
Running the Show (Video)