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Premier League and other football chat - 2016-17

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Online Roger

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Well as my other beloved team, (the mighty Torquay Utd), rest at their B&B having driven 4/5 hours in their own cars for budget reasons, I look forward to catching Sunday's early kick off which is Man Utd, again, at Watford who are in good form and might just give them a game !

Just reflecting as Wayne Rooney collects £300K or thereabouts for his week's work - that would pay for TUFC's whole squad for the best part of a year ! It's ridiculous money.
In Rooney type situations the Players sign a long term contract when they are are at their peak and the Club then has to pay them OTT for years when the peak has passed.

Indicators for the BPL from the Champions League, Man City in super form winning 4-0 and  Leicester winning 0-3. Arsenal draw and Spurs lose.
In the Europa - a great win for Southampton but Man Utd lose - they'll be ready to avenge that on Sunday. I looked at a list of Man Utd subs and squad members not playing at Feyenoord - plenty there ! JM will put a strong team out at Watford.

Well done Liverpool - I think they'll have a good season with Klopp in charge. But Chelsea without Terry were just average apparently - David Luiz played - a very surprising signing he was IMO.

Up the Swatcats !

''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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Getting ready for Watford v Man Utd on the big screen at 6pm. I see that Man Utd have won their last 11 meetings and the last Watford win against Man Utd was 1986 !
I'm not a Man Utd fan and will enjoy this as a neutral.
Watford had a cracking 4-2 v West Ham last match so ?

The Guardian on Wayne Rooney today :-

"He does not turn 31 till next month but Wayne Rooney made his Premier League debut at 16 and players who start out young often pay a price

They changed the format of the press conferences at Manchester United some time ago. For the past 10 years or so, everything has been in front of the cameras and the managers, as such, always tend to put on their face for television, remember to mind their language and often disguise, or water down, what they really feel. It is a PR world more than ever before, but it used to be much better fun in the old days when Sir Alex Ferguson held separate briefings, the cameras turned off, where he could go off-record, show a bit more of his real personality and occasionally fly into the kind of rages that had to be seen to be believed.

He certainly didn’t pussyfoot around the subject when it came to Wayne Rooney and the questions that occasionally came up about the striker’s febrile temper (nobody questioned Rooney’s performances back then, just the occasional controversies). The time, for example, when Rooney was being investigated by the Football Association for pushing his hand into the face of Tal Ben Haim, then at Bolton Wanderers. Ferguson was so enraged about it being brought up that day he machine-gunned 22 F-words in our direction in roughly 45 seconds. That press conference ended with him swinging his arm at the tape recorders on his table to send them flying into a wall 10 feet away. “You’ve got me to lose my temper, wonderful,” was his parting shot, pointing to the door to chuck us out, the flares burning behind his eyes.
José Mourinho tells Paul Pogba: forget about world-record fee, play your game

It would be great television but José Mourinho’s responses have to be couched with more restraint now it is his turn in the seat and Rooney is at that point of his professional life where he is finding out the hard way, as most sportsmen do at one point or another, that age can often be the toughest opponent.

History will remember Rooney as the man who took Sir Bobby Charlton’s 249-goal record as the most prolific scorer in the club’s history (he is currently three behind). He has already replaced Charlton as England’s highest scorer and is nine caps short of Peter Shilton’s record of 125, to go with five Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup and two League Cups. Whatever you think of the modern-day Rooney, however much time has passed since the crowds at United longed for the ball to be at his feet, statues have been put up for players of less achievement – including at Old Trafford.

At the same time, there is no point pretending all is right when the player in question has become a national debate and it does strike me that Mourinho might be more worried than he lets on.

Rooney turns 31 next month and in his profession that is not exceptionally old by any means. He is younger, by eight months, than Cristiano Ronaldo. Teddy Sheringham was 33 when he flicked out a leg to score for United in the 1999 Champions League final and Rooney’s absence from Thursday’s defeat against Feyenoord, with Mourinho stating his captain needed some rest, did slightly jar with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being on the trip, only a couple of weeks before his 35th birthday.

Yet, in football, it is not always as straightforward as comparing one man’s age with another. Rooney was 16 when he made his Premier League debut in 2002 and has never gone a season without playing at least 42 games. It has been a long old slog and heaven knows how many marathons he has run in that time. The workload was always going to tell eventually. Dick Allen, the old baseball player, had a neat way of putting it. “Your body is like a bar of soap,” he said. “The more you use it, the more it wears down.”

That does not mean Rooney is ready for the knacker’s yard just yet but it does make the questions legitimate about whether he is capable any longer of winning games at high altitude. And if Mourinho isn’t worried, he probably should be. The old Rooney could topple the very best. The modern version does his best work now at a lower level and, deep down, I suspect the new England manager knows it, too. “Most players perform at their best for only a decade,” Sam Allardyce writes in his autobiography. “If you are in the team at 17, you tend to start declining after the age of 27. There are exceptions, but not many. A player’s body suffers throughout those 10 years, especially if you’re an international. The body is bound to crumble when you think of the equation, 60 games times 10 years, with only three or four weeks off each summer.”

Allardyce uses Joe Cole as an example to make his point. “Maybe the wear and tear caught up with him,” he concludes. “He was only 17 when he made his Premier League debut and had played 150 games for West Ham by the time he was 21.” That is still a long way short of Rooney, though. At 21, Rooney had made well over 200 appearances for club and country. Today, it stands at 718. And Rooney is not Ryan Giggs. He is built differently, he has lived differently and, in his peak years, he has run down his opponents with uncommon levels of raw physical commitment.

Rooney has also put his body on the line, bearing in mind some new detail that I heard recently about the night in April 2010 when United faced Bayern Munich in the Champions League, 2-1 down from the first leg in Bavaria, and the sheer desperation for him to play, even with damaged ankle ligaments.

You might remember the shock when Rooney was named in the starting lineup (the medical prognosis was he would be out for up to three weeks). On the pitch, he was restricted to running in straight lines. He had to be substituted 10 minutes into the second half and missed the following league game against Blackburn. What you might not realise, however, is that Rooney, an incredibly selfless footballer sometimes, agreed to give it a go despite still being on crutches, wearing a protective boot, on his way to Old Trafford. Compare that with the suspicion in United’s dressing room last season that one player had pulled out of a game because he “didn’t fancy it” only to train perfectly normally the following day.

Rooney has worn strapping on that right ankle ever since and these are the details that sometimes go amiss when opinion turns against him. Perhaps, in that respect, he is unfortunate that his 14 years in the Premier League have taken in the age of social media. Few things on Twitter invite such a froth of condemnation as daring to type a few words of praise on his behalf.

Compilation videos pop up on the internet after each match to highlight his mistakes. One showed England’s captain losing the ball three times in succession against Hull City and, yes, it was grim to watch – though there was nothing of his run to set up Marcus Rashford’s late winner.

Rooney’s contribution in last season’s FA Cup final also seems to have been airbrushed out of history by his more dedicated critics, many of them supporters of his own club. “Why does he continue to be unloved and unpopular among so many MUFC fans?” Sam Pilger, a writer and author with a large portfolio of United-related work, asked the other day.
Wayne Rooney sees parallels between José Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson

There is no easy answer but, looking back, it is difficult to imagine Manchester City are too cut up about Rooney staying at Old Trafford after that brief dalliance, in October 2010, when he asked United for a transfer. Would City have signed Sergio Agüero if, nine months earlier, they had lured Rooney to the east side of Manchester? Or – hypothetical, perhaps – might Agüero have appeared on United’s radar if they needed someone to fill the void left by Rooney?

All that really can be said is Rooney would rather play in midfield these days and Mourinho might eventually have to rethink the situation. “His days as a centre-forward are over,” Jamie Carragher observed recently. “Ibrahimovic, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are better options with United; [Harry] Kane and Daniel Sturridge are better options for England.”

Except Mourinho has already made it clear he does not want Rooney trying to be the next Ray Wilkins. Something might have to give and, until then, there will be more of the questions that used to prick Ferguson’s temper, even if it is grey performances, rather than occasional red mist, that is the issue these days".
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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Fantastic game - Watford beat Man Utd for the first time in 30 years. Watford missed chances early on then held off Man Utd with just 40% of possession - 5 shots on target to Man Utd's 2.  The Press widely bemoan Man Utd's midfield, Rooney and Pogba. Fellanie plays well enough but he should have been sent off after a blatant shirt pull in the penalty area and yet another arm job in the first 15 minutes - if he'd just play the game he'd be outstanding. JM ?

Andros Townsend gets rave reviews and played a blinder for Crystal Palace who thrash desperate Stoke City. Palace look to be very strong this season - good signings.

Spurs take 74% possession and had 31 shots and beat Sunderland 1-0.
Harry Kane carried off.

Next week's early kick off on Saturday is Man Utd - again !! Versus Champions Leicester ....

''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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Last weekend Man Utd the early kick off again ! I'm nearly expert on MUFC now !
Plucky Stoke hang on with their goalie Lee Grant, stand in for England's Jack Butland, saving his side many many times. For Man. Utd - 2 points dropped.

Spurs beat Man City with a stunning performance - echoes of last season when City started very strongly but faded when Kevin de Bruyne was injured. I think City will benefit from Guardiola's leadership this year but Spurs are flying and Liverpool, Arsenal and even Man Utd cannot be ruled out. Should be a great season in the BPL.

I see that Thailand were beaten 3-1 last night by UAE and look unlikely to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Another massive disappointment for Thailand football fans againhttp://www.thenational.ae/sport/uae-football/tense-and-tight-but-uae-accomplish-thailand-target-in-world-cup-qualifying
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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I noticed today that Frank Lampard has scored 12 times in 17 games for New York City in the MLS season so far. From midfield .....

Frank expresses an interest in one day becoming the Manager of his beloved Chelsea.

A true Gent - some contrast to Big Sam and Joey Barton for example.

Tremendous player !

''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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It looks like a very hard season for the North East teams - M'boro losing to Watford, Sunderland losing to Stoke and Hull 6-1 to little Bournemouth. M'boro and Hull will go down I reckon. I expect S'land to break clear and Stoke and Swansea too. It'll be close down there.

Man City can only draw and Tottenham miss a chance to go one point clear at the top after equalising in the last minute against WBA. Chelsea are just 3 points off the top after thumping Leicester City the Champs ! It's all up for grabs ...

Liverpool and Man Utd tonight - would love to watch that one !

''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Alfie

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I reckon Sunderland will go down and Newcastle will be promoted from the Championship.
There are none so blind as those who will not see.


Online Roger

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Some interesting football last night.

Arsenal thump the Champs of Bulgaria 6-0 with 44% possession and a hat trick for Ozil plus his first assist for 10 games apparently.

Man.City pile up more question marks - not needing a benched Aguero ?? they lose 4-0 to Barcelona and a Messi hat trick. Maybe their season will limp again after another strong start. MCFC aren't going to walk the EPL are they ?

I see Luke Modric who I always thought was under-rated at Spurs, has just signed a contract with Real Madrid until 2020 ! Lucky man !
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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I watched Bournemouth v Spurs and thought it was a great game - intense effort and skills from both sides. Seems Eddie Howe has taken little Bournemouth up a gear again - he's a great Manager but could he repeat his achievements at one of the big six ?
Dealing with mega-stars may need a different skill set. I hope Bournemouth pay him well.

The level of quick close ball skills from both sides made me wonder how some of the great sides of the past would cope in today's EPL. Stunning stuff and although Spurs had most of the possession - I thought the draw was fair.

Great to see football again TW ?
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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An amazing EPL weekend with the top 3 all scoring 4 away from home !
Plus Chelsea 4th placed have scored 6 without conceding in the last 2 games.
It's gonna be an amazing chase this year.

I watched the Arsenal game and someone commented that Olivier Giroux scored 2 with his first 2 touches after coming on as Sub. Has that ever happened before ?
Sunderland were defiant but Arsenal suddenly ran away with the game. Teessider it's gonna be a long season, for my Torquay United too !

One point between the top 4. The managerial line up is impressive - Guardiola, Wenger, Klopp, Mourinho, Pochettino, Kloeman - who'll win through ?
Guardiola at MCFC is my guess.

Meantime nothing changes in 'Mourinho World' - he's facing a Stadium ban now after his latest spat and MUFC are well behind the front pack atm.

A gripping season so far.
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Robert

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An amazing EPL weekend with the top 3 all scoring 4 away from home !
Plus Chelsea 4th placed have scored 6 without conceding in the last 2 games.
It's gonna be an amazing chase this year.

I watched the Arsenal game and someone commented that Olivier Giroux scored 2 with his first 2 touches after coming on as Sub. Has that ever happened before ?
Sunderland were defiant but Arsenal suddenly ran away with the game. Teessider it's gonna be a long season, for my Torquay United too !

One point between the top 4. The managerial line up is impressive - Guardiola, Wenger, Klopp, Mourinho, Pochettino, Kloeman - who'll win through ?
Guardiola at MCFC is my guess.

Meantime nothing changes in 'Mourinho World' - he's facing a Stadium ban now after his latest spat and MUFC are well behind the front pack atm.

A gripping season so far.

Hi Roger,

maybe it is a mistyping but his name is Ronald Koeman not Kloeman.

I wathed Sunderland against Arsenal too.


Online Teessider

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I also watched Arsenal v Sunderland as True were good enough to screen the Sunderland game this week. I thought a point was possible when Defoe scored the penalty but Arsenal stepped it up. I feel sorry for the youngsters Pickford and Watmore who are struggling in a poor team with half of them not up to standard. Jones, Djilobodji, Rodwell, Khazri and Pienaar are not up to it. Until we can replace them with Kirchhoff, Cattermole, Borini, M'Vila and decent right back we will struggle to reach our previous low total of 15 points. And what other team has only a 34 year old Defoe and an overweight reject (Anichebe) as forward options. Moyes has not performed well so far. Poor buys, Djilobodji, McNair, Love. Why send Coates out on loan then pay £7m for Djilobodji. Why loan out Jermain Lens when there are no strikers. Why sell Giaccherini for £2m to Napoli?
Sunderland, Hull and Swansea for the drop. Man City champions.
Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.
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Online Roger

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Hi Robert,
That was my deliberate mistake to check you were reading !
Seriously you are correct of course.
Yes the Arsenal game was entertaining but I found myself rooting for Sunderland.
Rumours of that prominent beard sapping the strength of Olivier Giroux are incorrect !
ATB
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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Teessider - on the night I said to my M8 that I reckoned Big Sam will be back before Christmas to save the day for Sunderland ! That'd be interesting. ATB
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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Just noticed that former Premier side, MK Dons, (i.e. Wimbledon), are languishing in 20th place in League 1, well behind AFC Wimbledon in 9th place who were formed in the ruins of Plough Lane after the relocation of the former Wimbledon club to Milton Keynes. Well done !

I wonder how long it will be before 'FC United of Manchester' overtake their EPL rivals ?
FC United were formed by MUFC supporters in protest at the ownership of MUFC.
They stand 16th in the National League North atm - so a way to go !
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online caller

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I think Sunderland will go down this year and it seems to me they only have themselves to blame. There has been no real investment in players for a good few years and I can't understand that and in that same period, season after season, they have diced with relegation. Where is all the TV money going? The manager merry go around doesn't help either.

But as a Chelsea fan, I'm more than happy with Mr Conte, things are beginning to look up after a dire season last year.


Online Teessider

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In 2012 they signed Steven Fletcher £12m, Adam Johnson £10m and Danny Graham £5m. Fletcher and Graham left the club for nothing, Johnson is in jail.
In 2013 they bought Altidore £8m and Giaccherini £6m. Giaccherini left for £2m and Altidore was swapped for Defoe. They also sold Sessegnon and Mignolet to cover the purchases.
In 2014 they spent £10m on Jack Rodwell.
In 2015 they bought Khazri, Kone,Kirchhoff, Alvarez, Lens and Borini spending £40m and got back £8m by selling Connor Wickham.
In 2016 it was Moyes buys of Ndong, Djilobodji, McNair and Love.
Added to this Sunderland tend to pay high wages to persuade players to move to an unfashionable area despite Northumberland and North Yorkshire having some of the best scenery in the country. The high wages then make it difficult to move players on.
Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.
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Online caller

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Okay, I'll amend my comments to say they have spent some money, but not wisely! I hope you stay up, but there doesn't seem much hope.

Evidence of the influence of rotating managers is shown in those figures as well, everything just seems completely disjointed.


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They are in the top 10 spenders on both transfers and wages. It is true however that the buys and sales are poor. My personal worst is selling Fraiser Campbell for £800k and replacing him with the inferior and older Danny Graham £5m. That was Martin O'Neill!
Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.
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Online Teessider

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Jermain Lens who is a Sunderland employee currently on loan at Fenerbache, managed by former Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat, scored the 2nd goal against Man Utd with a swerving free kick. These so called managers earning millions a year yet are unable to integrate quality players like Lens and Giaccherini preferring the easy option of clapped out has-beens like Pienaar and Anichebe!
Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.
Blaine Pascal