fourth or a trophy
I have to admit, I dismayed at the result of your poll. You pose a tough question, but how can anyone swap winning something tangible for coming fourth?
What happened to the charm and allure (felt around the world) of the FA Cup? Arsenal really have broken English Football. Of course I rather be in the Champions League than Europa, but if you win the Europa you qualify for the Champions League anyway.
I think on balance, if winning the league is out, I rather focus on the cups and earn the right to play in the Champions League by being Champions of something. If United won the Europa, I not really be fussed where we came in the league. But maybe it easy to say as a fan of a team that won it recently.
That has to be better than a cabinet full of imaginary fourth place trophies, doesn it?
I have been at least a thrice daily reader of your website for roughly a year now, and must first express my gratitude for providing a guaranteed delight in an otherwise mundane working day.
This is my first time I have felt compelled to write in, and I do so in anger.
Having meticulously planned my Saturday sporting entertainment, I was thoroughly looking forward to the seamless transition from one battle of the titans to another, from Man City/ Chelsea to El Classico.
Above all, the drama of the latter is probably the game I look forward to the most in the sporting calendar, with sporting, political and social ramifications in abundance.
However, thanks to the powers that be (and I sure initially for good reason), I will not be able to witness the spectacle of the Catalonians facing off against their fiercest rivals due to a ban on broadcasting ban on UK television for live football matches between the hours of 2.45pm and 5.15pm.
This is an issue that has been addressed before, and for the purposes of the domestic game I understand the reasoning.
However, when such a tasty encounter appears in a foreign league, surely the rule could be flexed to permit this (and also give the British PFM another reason to gripe about the foreign game getting preferential treatment.
Until next time, I hope you all have a delightful weekend, and as a parting request, more regular literacy genius from the Cheeky Punter would be glorious.
Scott (Another Painful Season for the Minster Men), York
Jesse Lingard reminds of a young Freddie Ljungberg. Limited technically in comparison to his peers, but his off the ball movement and space finding is second to none. Give him time to improve his composure and finishing and he could end up being a top, top player. Keep blaming him for United inadequacies and watch another English talent go down the drain. He is evidently a late developer, so let him develop people. Patience is sadly a lost art in today game.
He has his place in this United team. Maybe not our strongest XI, but he should start his fair share of games. He could end up as a big a part of our team as Ljungberg once was for Arsenal.
Stoke City Burnley. What do you do when your team is super duper mega impossibly abject when away from home? If your opponent is Stoke, you work on set pieces, because the Potters are behind only the Pardews in goals conceded. You look at an opposing midfield that might still be missing Glenn Whelan, and get ready to attack down the middle. You drill a back line that largely surrendered to West Bromwich Albion two weeks ago. You hope Tom Heaton and Dean Marney are fit, because Johann Berg Gudmundsson isn’t. You send subliminal messages through Mark Hughes’s smartphone to start Jonathan Walters instead of Wilfried Bony, like he did last week against Watford. You learn Dutch swear words to distract Bruno Martins Indi, the in form defender. You search YouTube for inspirational videos. And, hopefully, you play some football.
Stat: Michael Keane leads the league in shots blocked, with 24.
West Ham Arsenal. A fixture averaging 4.0 goals over its last six times out. A large banana skin for Arsenal: they’ve been picking up points without playing terribly well, and West Ham, even with new injury questions, almost have to be better than against Manchester United midweek. No way to predict who the wheel of fortune will select in Arsenal’s midfield, but I’d include Francis Coquelin to blunt the Hammers’ attack. There’s usually plenty of space behind Pedro Obiang and Mark Noble, and since last year Alex Iwobi delivered two assists from that very spot, he should be in the lineup as well. But last year a certain Andy Carroll scored a hat trick from far post crosses, so the Gunners need to get close to their men on the wings. West Ham gambled a bit in the midweek game and got overrun, so perhaps we’ll see a more cautious approach. But let’s hope for the usual allotment of goals.
Stat: Arsenal have 12 different players with assists this season, most in the league.
Middlesbrough Hull City. What looks like a Monday night borefest is one of the more intriguing games of the week. For the first time this season, Boro will be a clear favorite, going up against a team likely to sit back to frustrate them. Do they have the passing talent and the nous? With Dieumerci Mbokani suspended, Mike Phelan is probably back to one available striker, Adama Diomand. But Hull’s 4 5 1 may frustrate Boro’s wing attackers, so Adam Forshaw needs to be effective in the middle. Will Aitor Karanka instruct Adama Traor to come inside as well? Hull have been mostly a right sided attacking team, but with Andrew Robertson available again they could attack more up the left, to go at Boro’s weak point, right back Antonio Barragan. For a tight game, let’s think set pieces: Hull have scored six and allowed six, Middlesbrough have scored three and allowed three.
Stat: Middlesbrough lead the league in tackles per game, with 21.2, but are last in shots on target per game, with 2.46.
Something I think gets overlooked in the whole fact rant debacle is what had happened just before that.
If you cast your mind back to December 28th 2008 LFC had just beaten Newcastle 5 1 away from home and afterwards Stevie G had a rather unpleasant altercation with a DJ.
All the talk afterwards was of how Gerrard, our captain/talisman/God, was facing up to five years in prison for GBH and how he single handedly messed up our best chance for a title in donkeys years.
Then out comes Rafa a week later and all of a sudden the narrative switched and all talk of Gerrard stopped and the focus was on Rafa.
It always struck me as extremely odd that nobody seems to want to mention this and that it been used as a stick to beat Rafa in the intervening years, but then again history is written by the winners and so this has gone down as Fergie getting Rafa to start cracking up.
A quick thought on Rafa/Rant/Facts something which I surprised Gerrard didn mention in his autobiography December Liverpool beat Newcastle at St James Park
29th December Gerrard arrested for an alleged assault, the case drags on until July
9th January Rafa has his everyone then concentrates on Rafa and his cracking up, taking a lot of attention from Gerrard for the next couple of months