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What do Man United do without Pogba?
Actually stumped up for MUTV this year so have managed to watch all my team’s pre-season games and wanted to share a few brief thoughts.
1. We’re really in trouble if Pogba gets injured. I was very happy with his performances last season and he seems to be stronger and even more confident (if that’s possible) as we enter the new campaign. However the team are already reliant on him to create something from midfield, if we lose him for any long stretch I don’t see enough creativity in the squad to cope.
2. I like Pereira, he reminds me of Herrera, but he loses possession too often to ever hold down a regular place in a Mourinho team.
3. McTominay has looked handy on tour. At 6’4 it’s not hard to understand why Jose is giving him a go, can definitely see him showing up in the odd cup game this season.
4. Fosu-Mensah is life. Love that guy.
5. Lukaku could easily bag 30+ goals this season
6. The possibility of Lukaku, Rashford, Martial, Miki, and Pogba all playing at the same time gets me giddy.
Another great week, you just guessed it right, because another great is joining Manutd. Matic has been one of my most favourite midfielders in the EPL ever since he joined Chelsea. A tough tackling midfielder, a ball-holding one and furthermore big in stature, that’s Fellaini and Herrera in just a single package. There’s just a feeling that I have that he might be our best buy.
Donaldo, Man Utd fan in dreamland (Kericho, Kenya)
Tottenham did spend…it just didn’t work
In your Arsenal preview (good article btw) I just wanted to make a quick correction. ‘The transfer market should not be seen as the only means to improving league position (Mauricio Pochettino shows that).’
Or, put another way, how they spent £71m, adding Wanyama who was one of their key players of last season. Just because Jansen and Sissosko turned out to be average/rubbish, doesn’t mean Pochettino didn’t try to improve through spending…
Rob A (mildly optimistic with Laca and Giroud as striking options) AFC
Arsenal on verge of a treble
So we have already won the International Champions Cup and the Emirates Trophy. If we can win the Community Shield next weekend then that’s the treble done before the start of the season and we can just relax for the rest of the year.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC
I have a dream…
…that Antonio Conte and Diego Costa will do a Mancini/Tevez-style kiss and make up. And that would logically lead to Alvaro Morata replicating the Aguerooooooo moment in 2018.
Come on, give it a thought and you’ll see that all the pieces fit:
An Italian disciplinarian at the helm of affairs? Check
A prolific, hot-headed striker who wants a move away? Check
A striker of the same nationality already brought in as a replacement? Check
Said striker is bought from a Madrid-based club? Check
Want-away striker doesn’t get desired move? 31 days more and that’s a check
Franklin, CFC, Lagos
Mostly looking forward to…
Nice idea from Garey Vance, MUFC , who asks who you’re looking forward to following next season. Here’s my list, which also includes everyone playing for Brighton and Huddersfield:
Marko Arnautovic — Always the first name on my spectator teamsheet. Can be brilliant and awful in the same game, and his reactions either way are priceless. With a new club, should be doubly fun.
Chelsea youth – Nathaniel Chalobah, Kurt Zouma, Ruben Loftus-Cheek. They finally get their chance. Nathan Aké too, although he was briefly a regular for Bournemouth last year.
Jay Rodriguez – Has been in good form in pre-season. Is he all the way back? Could be a great story.
Young English centre-halves – Jack Stephens, Alfie Mawson, Harry Maguire, Rob Holding. All had their moments last season. Stephens, Mawson, and Maguire will have their first full seasons under their respective managers. Holding, assuming he starts, will be in a high-pressure role.
Cuco Martina – I’m probably the only person outside his immediate family who rates him, but Ronald Koeman liked him enough to take him on a free from Southampton. Hope he gets some time.
Leonid Slutsky – A nice all-around guy and great touchline character, bravely plunging into English waters with Hull City. A future cabinet member in the Trump administration?
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
Why Arsenal are big in Africa
Phil in Saturday’s mailbox asks why Arsenal shirts are so popular in East Africa. I wouldn’t want to speak for the entire region, but as a Rwandan who was in the Country in 1998 when the Premier League really started taking off, I can offer my theory about why it is popular in Rwanda.
For one, there was the perception that Arsene Wenger was more open to giving black players a chance and this gave Arsenal a more multicultural feel for many fans down here. Whether this was borne out by the statistics is not for me to say, but I remember hearing that argument many times back in the day. Kanu becoming a Gunner definitely helped because he was pretty popular here at the time.
Another reason Arsenal ended up becoming so popular around that time is that people felt that they played football the ‘African way’- emphasis on exciting attack and non-stop entertainment. I heard people mention quite often that Arsenal was like an African team and their brand of free flowing football felt like the kind of street football people had played growing up. The fact that they actually won stuff was a very nifty bonus. Obviously there is no single ‘African’ way to play football, but I wasn’t about to get into that argument with Arsenal fans considering the fact I was pretty much usually the only non-Gunner in the room.
Needless to say, there was also an element of glory hunting which is why Arsenal fans are currently – by some distance – the most grumpy fans in Rwanda. The come-down from the glory days has not been pretty.
Turiyo Damascene (‘Liverpool fan for my sins), Kigali, Rwanda
Is there something afoot in Barcelona?
This Neymar to PSG transfer saga has got me thinking there must be problems at Barcelona. They weren’t at their best last season and seem to have been in decline since they their last CL win. Obviously stuff like this happens to most big clubs but with the squad they have there is no reason they can’t turn it around next season so why does Neymar’s intention to leave seem believable. For years it has been unthinkable that Barca would lose one of their stars against their will but now it seems likely. Thoughts below:
1) The new manager. Could it be the uninspiring appointment of Valverde as manager? He is a former Barca player but only played about 20 games over two seasons for them so is not the Hall of Fame type like Cruyff or Luis Enrique. His managerial history and trophies hardly suggest he will win the CL next season or even La Liga. After Zidane’s Real winning two CL trophies in a row and La Liga last season Neymar might have seen this as a reason to jump ship as he wants to win things.
2) Behind the scenes. Is something going on at at Barca that is making him want to leave? Since Suarez joined their transfer activity has been fine but they’ve hardly signed any world beaters and I think its clear they do not have the financial capacity to rival Real, PSG, Bayern and the top EPL clubs for targets. Even if a top target favors Barca they haven’t seemed to be putting in the bids and even Liverpool know they can muscle them away from Coutinho by demanding over 80m. If they cannot compete with their rivals in the transfer market and their academy isn’t producing the next Messi/Xavi/Iniesta they will fall behind and Neymar knows this.
3) Messi. Being in Messi’s spotlight can’t be easy especially when Neymar is the world’s most marketable and valuable player according to many. Messi may come across as mild-mannered and boring (the anti-Ronaldo so to speak) but I’m sure he has a planet sized ego and asserts it any chance he gets so Neymar has grown tired of it.
4) Neymar’s own ego and marketability. For anyone who saw his terribly embarrassing appearance in XXX (if you haven’t seen it I recommend you don’t, I’m surprised Samuel L. Jackson didn’t walk off the set after learning of the scene’s existence), only a person with a humongous ego and zero shame would agree to crass marketing stunts like that. Neymar is a brand and playing second fiddle to Messi who won’t retire for years at Barcelona is not ideal for him in many ways. PSG are a less prestigious club but being number one there suits him better than being number two at Barca in terms of growing his brand.
5) Money. Brazilians are like the Gold Diggers of world football as proved by their almost magnetic attraction to China well before their careers start to decline. Could it be as simple as PSG are the only club willing to pay his release clause and make him the highest paid player in the world? This reason would surprise me the least to be honest.
It could just be made up by reporters and clickbait aficionados but of any ridiculous transfer saga that mostly likely won’t happen this is the one that actually seems like it could.
Come on England
The Lionesses keep on roaring! Brilliant stuff. Makes a welcome change from the usual plaintive miaow upon exit from the men with fat boy Rooney blaming the fans for yet another abject tourney display collectively and personally?
I am not too proud to admit that I imagined the misogynist bigot Garry Vance sitting there [doing his best Iain Paisley impression] shouting “Wimmin! And English wimmin to boot!” Getting all impotently angry, bless.
I am thoroughly enjoying this. One can only hope the clubs can tap into this increased popularity and harness the expected uplift in attendances and wider interest post tourney. But given the size and setup of the clubs involved you can bet they’re already drawing up their plans.
I, for one, sincerely hope they can tap into the upswell of interest and build on this…
Gregory Whitehead, LFC