We appear to have arrived at the point in the season where certain managers decide that the best way to upset and distract their rivals is by doing a bit of trolling. Jose Mourinho displayed a lack of gracefulness a few days ago, and now Manuel Pellegrini has decided to rub David Moyes’ nose in a mess which, to be fair to Moyes, was left at Old Trafford (at least in part) by someone else.
Category Archives: England
30 January 2014 – 10:00 am
This season was always going to be one of unpredictability. With the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson the seat at the head of the Premier League managers’ table was vacant for the first time in decades. The return of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea seemingly left this seat open for him to succeed and on the evidence this season this theory would seem correct.
It has been a different Mourinho we have seen so far; a more measured and relaxed approach to his job, which is to be expected due to his experience, but at the highest level remains unusual. In previous incarnations he has confronted almost every obstacle in his path to achieve success but there is something almost uneasy about his manner since returning. He appears jovial in front of the media and almost helpful in answering every question at length.
Perhaps after his experiences in Italy and Spain he has realised the antagonism he used so frequently in the past could be eased out. Or, is it the fact that he really is the stand out manager in the Premier League and has no need to get worked up. Currently Chelsea lie in third place, two points behind Arsenal, are through to the knock out stages in the Champions League and face, arguably their direct rivals for domestic domination, Manchester City in the FA Cup.
The season started rather unpredictably for Chelsea, too unpredictably for Mourinho, and they dropped points in games where they were not expected to and suffered a lot from inconsistent performances. The normally reliable defence was conceding goals from everywhere and despite their initial intentions of playing open, counter attacking football they had to resolve the defensive frailties.
Previously under Mourinho’s management the full-backs have played vital roles in attack as well as in defence but this was the first thing he changed. Both of his full-backs have rarely crossed the half way line, especially in big games, recently. The Portuguese tactician has reverted back to his strong organisational skills and made Chelsea very difficult to break down.
Allied to this the unpredictability of the strikers he has inherited and the importance of this change in approach becomes almost a necessity. The result of this has been more consistent performances and his players are now reaching the levels of performance he desires from his team.
During recent interviews he has seemed at so much ease with life at Chelsea and particularly in the Premier League. He has been positive about opponents ahead of games, laughing and joking with officials and has clearly been enjoying himself immensely.
What Mourinho has already identified is that he, out of all the coaches in direct competition with him, is the only winner. Everywhere he has managed he has experienced success and only at Madrid he departed without tears and emotional goodbyes. With Ferguson now gone there is nobody really worth sparring with.
His closest rivals are Manchester City this season and Manuel Pellegrini is something of an unknown quantity in terms of winning trophies. Despite an impressive career in management thus far he has won nothing of note in Europe. However, he does not seem like someone who would get into a verbal brawl with Mourinho so could be best to himself.
His response to Arsene Wenger’s criticism over the sale of Juan Mata to Manchester United caused no reaction. The comments from Wenger have not shown the Arsenal manager in a good light and Mourinho’s shadow casts long over the Frenchman. He has never beaten a Mourinho side and the latter’s disdain for Wenger during his last spell at Chelsea will not have been forgotten.
Against Liverpool recently Brendan Rodgers was shown to still be very much the apprentice and Manchester United are focusing on the top four rather than the title. With Tim Sherwood still unproven Spurs are unlikely to contest a title run in too which leaves Mourinho as the heir apparent.
During his tussles with Ferguson it was always clear that Mourinho had the ability and the drive to succeed in management at the highest level. He was the biggest and best rival of the former United manager’s and spurred him onto build another side which eventually won the Champions League.
Mourinho will dine at the head of the table for a long time in England unless a rival can break the cycle and become a genuine challenger again. If Chelsea win the league this season it could be the start of another dynasty.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
20 January 2014 – 9:45 am
Manchester City scored their 100th league goal of the season on Saturday against Cardiff City and whilst much of the praise has gone to their strike force it could be argued that David Silva has been the key component. It cannot be a coincidence that his return to form has resulted in the sides’s magnificent form of late.
In a side that boasts so much attacking ability it is always going to be tough for one individual to really stand out. With Sergio Aguero’s brilliance, allied with Alvaro Negredo’s wonderful debut season in England and Edin Dzeko’s remarkable goal return, Manchester City are treating most of the other teams in the Premier League with disdain. They have scored six goals against Arsenal and Spurs, four against Manchester United and many, many more against seemingly everyone else in their path.
The freedom the new manager Manuel Pellegrini has allowed them to play with has certainly had an impact and the confidence level of the players has had a massive affect. The return to form of Aguero, Silva and Yaya Toure cannot be overlooked either; whilst none of them had bad seasons last time out they fell well below the standards they have set themselves previously.
The spine of the team is often talked about in football and those three are essential to City. Two years ago when they won the title all three had stunning seasons but last season due to injuries and possibly complacency they struggled to reach those levels. Toure could often be seen strolling through games and Aguero lacked fitness at crucial stages and the season was one of underachievement.
There is no doubt that Silva can also be looked at for under performing last season. He simply didn’t look fit enough for large chunks of the season and he looked burnt out. With his International obligations as well as competing with City on both domestic and European fronts he just didn’t have the energy levels to reach the top of his game. His passing was not as precise as normal and his movement was laboured and predictable.
However, this season he seems fully fit and has been running the strings in City’s midfield. His ability to play in between the lines in the opponents half of the pitch means he is incredibly tricky to pick up. As he drifts around he pulls the opposition defenders with him which in turn creates space for his teammates. With the pace that Pellegrini has available to him this space can then be exploited by the likes of Jesus Navas, who is also having a superb debut season in England.
With all of their pace and physical prowess a diminutive playmaker in Silva’s mould becomes the final piece of the puzzle. Having three strikers all in form and all scoring goals is very rare thing but City have managed it thus far. When you then through in Fernandinho and Toure as the midfield enforcers, who are both physically and technically outstanding, Silva becomes the integral part of the side.
His strength on the ball for someone so small is phenomenal and since arriving in the Premier League he has become more physically tough. The way in which he shields the ball against several defenders at once is very impressive and he rarely squanders possession. In recent games he has been everywhere on the pitch which makes him so hard to defend against, especially when he arrives late in attacks.
At this moment it is almost inconceivable to think that City will not become Premier League champions for the second time in three seasons. They appear to have overcome their erratic away form and are simply steamrolling everyone in their path. The plaudits have been going to their strikers of late but it is Silva who is making the difference. If he can remain fit and in this form until the end of May it looks like being another memorable season for ManchesterCity.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
14 January 2014 – 10:00 am
There are many key components that all need to function simultaneously for a football player, or any other athlete for that matter, to reach the best of their ability. Clearly having the requisite skill and physical attributes to reach the top is of great importance but at the truly elite level of sport much is decided in the mind.
26 December 2013 – 9:30 am
Beginning a new job in any warp of life can be tricky and can take a significant amount of time to adjust. However, Roberto Martinez’s tenure at Everton has so far been nothing short of brilliant. He has imposed his playing style and demands upon his new players and the club find themselves a few points off the summit of the Premier League.
4 December 2013 – 9:30 am
With everything that went on at Manchester United this summer it was going to be hard to predict how their season would transpire. The change in manager is, and has been, huge but the return to the fold of Wayne Rooney has been their biggest success thus far. Over the last few weeks he has been imperious and looks back to his regal best at Old Trafford.
4 November 2013 – 9:30 am
With Joe Hart’s lack of form and Asmir Begovic scoring against Southampton at the weekend the subject of goalkeepers has become very relevant over the last week or so. One of the few clubs who have no qualms over their keeper is Tottenham Hotspur who in Hugo Lloris posses the best in the league at this moment in time.
1 November 2013 – 10:00 am
30 October 2013 – 9:30 am
Sitting in front of Arsenal vs Chelsea last night it seemed obvious that the league cup really should be taken a little more seriously. Whilst fixture congestion certainly played a significant part in the starting elevens in this particular game, it clouds the main issue; the league cup means nothing to far too many teams any more.
9 October 2013 – 9:49 am
Whisper it quietly but there is something going on in North London at the moment. Arsenal are currently sitting on top of the Premier League table after the opening seven games and confidence is sky high. Following a pre season where confidence appeared at an all time low their manager Arsene Wenger has lead his side to nine victories in the club’s first dozen games.