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We better not make this shambolic Villa side look good this weekend. Which we've been known to do many times this season.

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2 minutes ago, Pizy said:

We better not make this shambolic Villa side look good this weekend. Which we've been known to do many times this season.

totally horrid performance

on of the worst of the year

Dean Smith is clueless

he makes OGS look like Helenio Herrera

Image result for Helenio Herrera

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7 minutes ago, Pizy said:

We better not make this shambolic Villa side look good this weekend. Which we've been known to do many times this season.

Most likely...

Despite their bad run..Leicester 4 behind City. Game in hand and all but no guarantee winning that for City

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20 hours ago, killer1257 said:

If they get Sancho, they have one of the best offense in the World.

Gesendet von meinem SM-G920F mit Tapatalk

Depending on Martial ability as no 9, that is one helluva of an offense. 

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Why Mourinho decided ‘enough is enough’ with Ndombele, Tottenham’s ‘big concern’



Jose Mourinho’s scathing criticism of Tottenham’s record signing Tanguy Ndombele on Saturday night was about a lot more than just a poor first-half display. Sure, Ndombele had been disappointing in the opening 45 minutes against Burnley but Mourinho’s frustration has been brewing for weeks.

Mourinho, according to one source, has tried to be patient with Ndombele but by Saturday night, felt that “enough is enough”. On the other side, the confrontation was viewed by some close to the situation as confirmation that Mourinho’s management style is not best suited to getting the best out of Ndombele — a mercurial if not always diligent midfielder.

First, a quick recap on what Mourinho said at Turf Moor after Tottenham’s 1-1 draw in which he had hooked Ndombele at half-time. “Somebody has to realise this is the Premier League… I hope that next season, he can be fantastic because until now, it is not enough,” Mourinho told Sky Sports — without actually naming the player.

At his press conference a few minutes later, Mourinho eventually dispensed with any veneer of ambiguity and after saying: “My thinking was that in the first half, we didn’t have a midfield,” and defending Ndombele’s midfield partner Oliver Skipp, he went on: “Because I don’t want another question about the same story. I’m not going to run away and I have to say that Tanguy had enough time to come to a different level. I know that the Premier League is very difficult and some players, it takes time. Some players, it takes a long time to adapt to a different league but a player with this potential and responsibility has to give us more than he is giving us.”

Tension has existed since soon after Mourinho took over in November — perhaps unsurprisingly, given the type of player Ndombele is. He is a richly talented midfielder but one who relies on virtuoso moments of brilliance. He has always been less interested in the defensive side of the game and there were concerns about his fitness at previous clubs Lyon and Amiens.

He is about as far away from the Mourinho prototype as it is possible to imagine. And having been signed for £55 million by Mourinho’s predecessor Mauricio Pochettino, starting 11 of 17 games under him, Ndombele started only one of Mourinho’s first nine — the ninth of which was the Boxing Day win against Brighton.

Ndombele was not even in the squad for that match and afterwards, Mourinho said: “He was not injured but not feeling in a condition to play.” Six days later, having limped off against Southampton with a hip injury, Mourinho described Ndombele as being “always injured”.

The Athletic reported at the time that publicly calling Ndombele out did not go down well with some members of the dressing room, though others at the club supported Mourinho’s stance. They were in agreement with the head coach’s view that Ndombele’s attitude and application were questionable, going some way to explaining why he was physically not in the right shape. Soon after, Mourinho praised Ndombele’s “amazing quality” as he revealed that the Frenchman had been placed on a bespoke fitness programme.


Fast forward to last Sunday and a tragicomic video went viral of Ndombele ambling back to try and stop Wolves winger Pedro Neto — barely breaking into a sprint despite Spurs losing 3-2 at home in the closing stages. Mourinho was asked what he made of the incident a couple of days later and to the surprise of some, he took it in good humour. He laughed and with a broad grin said by way of explanation: “Or Pedro Neto is very fast.”

Mourinho did not want to publicly call out the player again and thought he would be better off making light of it and protecting him this time. Privately though, Ndombele’s lack of conditioning was reportedly becoming a “big concern” — just as it had been to his predecessor. Pochettino started to have doubts by the time he left and a few weeks before he was sacked, raised eyebrows by saying it might take two years before fans saw the best of Ndombele.

By the time Saturday’s match against Burnley came around, Mourinho still felt that Ndombele needed to improve his conditioning and that he was not reacting to the instructions he had been given as quickly as he should have. His physical condition had not been great when Mourinho arrived — not helped by a groin injury carried over from the Pochettino era — and since then, he struggled to adapt to the new head coach’s methods. He has completed 90 minutes under Mourinho just once and in his three other starts under him prior to Saturday, had been taken off after 63, 61 and 25 minutes (the latter with an injury).

Nevertheless, with Harry Winks and Giovani Lo Celso needing a rest, Ndombele was given a rare start — only his fourth in the Premier League under Mourinho. He lasted just 45 minutes and afterwards, Mourinho explained precisely why: “More important than the tactics is to have midfield players that want the ball, to have midfield players that connect the game, to have midfield players that press, to have midfield players that recover the ball, to have midfield players that win duels, and we didn’t have it.”

These failings were a huge disappointment to Mourinho but what really infuriated him, The Athletic understands, was what he perceived to be the player’s lack of effort compared to his team-mates.

Was Mourinho’s assessment fair? It’s not easy to quantify effort but certainly, a look at two touch maps shows how much more involved the outstanding Lo Celso was when he replaced Ndombele at half-time.


Ndombele’s touch map (above) compared with Lo Celso’s (below) shows how much more the Argentine offered


As for Mourinho’s inference that Ndombele didn’t want the ball, connect the game or recover possession, the evidence suggests that may have been a little harsh. He touched the ball 40 times, which if calculated per minutes he was on the pitch, would have been the second-most of the Spurs starters, while his three possession wins had him joint third (though both figures were bettered by Lo Celso). His 62.5 per cent duel success was the second best of the Spurs outfielders.

But, as mentioned, Mourinho’s reaction was about more than just a sluggish first half against Burnley. And there are some who share the manager’s exasperation — one dressing room source said Ndombele has not made enough of an effort to adapt to the English game. Back in France, a prominent journalist told The Athletic that there was a perception of Ndombele as “arrogant”. This view was entrenched by Ndombele saying in December 2018 that: “To run after the ball against little teams is a bit boring.”

Yet there is another side to all this. One source close to Ndombele told The Athletic that the player requires more careful management and there is a sense that Mourinho is being “particularly hard” with him.

This was a sentiment agreed with by former players Danny Murphy and Ian Wright on Saturday night’s Match of the Day. “At least six or seven players were not at the races in the first half. It’s harsh to use him as a scapegoat,” said the ex-Tottenham midfielder Murphy.

“It’s pretty harsh digging him out,” added Wright — before making the point that it’s his first season and he should be given some leeway.

This is a view put forward by other observers, who make the point that he needs time to be in the best condition and find his best role in the Tottenham team. There is also an understanding at the club that joining Spurs at such a tumultuous time has not been easy. Adapting to the Premier League from Ligue 1 is hard enough at the best of times, let alone with a switch of manager and a team that is constantly changing their system and personnel.

Ndombele will likely need more stability and balance to thrive, and some feel that he would benefit from a more attacking role that exposes his defensive deficiencies less than being part of a central midfield pair. Tottenham’s more direct style under Mourinho — as was the case against Burnley in the first half — is also a long way from being the best method of maximising Ndombele’s rich passing and dribbling quality.


Mourinho v Ndombele
This week The Athletic's Jack Pitt-Brooke, James Maw and Charlie Eccleshare discuss Mourinho's criticism of Tanguy Ndombele. Was Jose wrong to do this in public? How will it affect the player and the rest of the squad? They also discuss the team's performance in the draw at Burnley, and explain why there is hope for Spurs in Leipzig



More broadly, he is far from the only player to get this sort of treatment from Mourinho. Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba and Joe Cole are other players with extraordinary attacking gifts that have been singled out in the past. As well as fears about his conditioning, Ndombele has also suffered groin and hip injuries that appear to still be niggling him and may require proper rest. His likely involvement with France at Euro 2020 will not help in his regard.

The question now is what happens next? Given the vast outlay spent on Ndombele last summer and the appreciation of his huge talent, he is a player that everyone at the club wants to succeed. Mourinho himself said on Saturday: “I hope he uses every minute on the pitch and every minute knowing what the Premier League is to improve. Many fantastic players in their first season in a new country; for different reasons, they struggle.”

Though he then added with a warning: “I cannot keep giving him opportunities to play because the team is much more important.”

The former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher said on beIN Sports that he hoped Ndombele used the criticism as fuel to prove to Mourinho what he is truly capable of.

In the longer term, Ndombele still has plenty of time to do that and in the coming weeks, Tottenham’s injury problems mean that he will have more chances to prove he is worth the money and the effort.

He knows he needs to start taking them.



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City should ditch Otamendi just like they did Demichelis after derby nightmare




These are the moments when the mind goes back to another derby defeat for Manchester City, a little earlier in the Abu Dhabi era, and what it meant, specifically, for the ageing Argentinian in the heart of their defence.

Martin Demichelis was an outstanding player in his peak years, winning 11 trophies for Bayern Munich and playing 51 times for his national side, including the 2014 World Cup final against Germany. But he took such a chasing from Marcus Rashford, almost 17 years his junior, in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in March 2016 he was substituted seven minutes into the second half and it turned out to be his last start for the club.

Demichelis was at fault for the game’s decisive goal, fortunate not to give away a penalty and partly responsible for Joe Hart injuring himself when he under-hit a backpass to City’s goalkeeper with his first touch of the second half. Manuel Pellegrini, then the City manager, admitted afterwards that his most experienced defender had looked “very nervous” but the most memorable line came from Louis van Gaal, blunt as ever.

“Marcus is very quick and Demichelis looks like the years are catching up with him,” was Van Gaal’s take. “He was a very good defender, my centre-back at Bayern, but that is the life of football.”

That is, indeed, the way this sport works. It is brutal sometimes but Van Gaal was right: age is the one opponent that catches up with everybody and, for Demichelis, it ended with Rashford running him out of the Premier League. Demichelis, then 35, came off the bench twice in the remaining two months of the season and subsequently joined Espanyol, who had just finished 13th in La Liga.

All of which brings us to the puzzle of Nicolas Otamendi and the considerable evidence that he, too, is reaching the point whereby a club with City’s ambitions have to think seriously about whether this summer would be a good time to cut him free.

Otamendi is 32 and, on the face of it, that is not remarkable for a centre-half. His mobility is not as limited as Demichelis and, to give him his due, perhaps it is a little harsh to focus entirely on one player after Sunday’s loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford, a performance that Bernardo Silva described as “not acceptable”, featuring two dreadful errors from Ederson and several clues about why City are 25 points behind Liverpool at the top of the table.

All the same, it was difficult to find too much in the way of mitigation when the post-match debate among the Sky Sports pundits turned to City’s inability to replace Vincent Kompany and the team’s vulnerability at the back whenever Aymeric Laporte is missing through injury.

Micah Richards, for one, seemed perplexed that Otamendi had become so accident-prone. It was only 18 months ago, Richards noted, that the player in question was known as “The General” to his team-mates. “I don’t know if he has got to an age where he can’t move as well as he could,” Richards suggested, “but he’s not producing the same performances that he was a couple of seasons ago.”

The discussion turned to the extent of rebuilding work that would be needed to assemble an elite back four and the consensus was that City had to make this part of the team their priority. “We’ve seen Otamendi being exposed time and time again, and they (City) have to sort it out,” came fellow Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville’s verdict. “When Pep Guardiola last lost the league, which was three seasons ago, he was aggressive like you wouldn’t believe in the transfer market. I would imagine he is going to do the same again. They have to be aggressive in getting those centre-backs in.”

Note the use of “centre-backs” — plural.

That has potential repercussions for John Stones, too, bearing in mind his deterioration in form and the growing suspicion behind the scenes at City that the England international — missing here with an injury, according to his club — might always fall short of the ambitions that City, and Guardiola in particular, had for him.

Hypothetical, perhaps, but it is also tempting to wonder whether City might harbour a few regrets about their decision to leave Harry Maguire to United when the two clubs were competing for the same player last summer.

Maguire has not been flawless this season — Exhibit A: the exquisitely-delivered nutmeg from Sergio Aguero that dumped him on the floor in the first half — and City were entitled, like most of us, to think that Leicester City’s valuation of £80 million was too high.

The problem is more that City did not have an alternative. There was nobody else on their list and that, on reflection, has to be seen as a mistake, particularly now they are preparing to release their grip, finger by finger, on the Premier League trophy. At least with Ederson, the mistakes that led to United’s goals can be written off as an aberration and so out of the ordinary that Guardiola, in the post-match interviews, would not accept a negative word against his goalkeeper.

For Ederson, City’s third defeat to United this season became a personal ordeal but it was easy to understand why Guardiola was so reluctant to add to the criticism. It was Ederson’s least distinguished performance from three seasons in English football but the reason why it was so shocking was that it was the exception rather than the norm.

Unfortunately, for Otamendi, the same could not be said for him and the evidence is stacking up that this summer has to be a good time for City to think about easing him out of the club. Otamendi has been vulnerable for some time, with his tendency to dive into challenges and his susceptibility, in particular, when he is exposed to quick, direct opponents who will take him on and test the theory that he cannot keep up any longer.

The most startling aspect, perhaps, is that he has still not learnt when to go into challenges and when to hold back. Perhaps somebody ought to teach him that Kenny Burns, the 1977-78 Footballer of the Year, used to have a great old saying that “you don’t have studs on your arse.” Don’t dive in, to put it another way. Stay on your feet.

This has been a weakness in Otamendi for too long and, at this stage of his career, it is probably wishful thinking to imagine that it is ever going to be fixed.

He was fortunate, in the extreme, not to concede a penalty for a challenge on Fred that ended with the United midfielder being booked, wrongly, for an alleged dive and nobody from the VAR control room apparently thinking it necessary to intervene.

There was another moment in the second half when Daniel James ran at Otamendi and took the ball past him as easily as someone swatting away a bothersome fly. And the problem, more than anything, is that this has become part of a recurring theme.

“The General” is straying dangerously close to becoming a danger to his own team and, at this level, City need only look at the champions-in-waiting, 40 miles or so along the M62, to realise that no team can expect to win the really big prizes without having some of their best men at the back.


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Spurds are paying for failure to overhaul their squad. Now there’s no quick fix



Not yet ready or past their best — the Tottenham squad can be broadly divided into these two camps.

There are a few notable exceptions, but in the former group are still-to-settle signings from last summer like Tanguy Ndombele and Ryan Sessegnon, and youngsters like Troy Parrott who are too inexperienced to be relied upon. In the latter group, thirty-somethings Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Hugo Lloris are among the Spurs players almost unrecognisable from the level they were at during Mauricio Pochettino’s peak years. Alderweireld and Lloris offered us a reminder of this during Spurs’ dismal Champions League exit to RB Leipzig on Tuesday night.

A major reason for this state of affairs, as my colleague James Maw recently pointed out on The Athletic’s View from the Lane podcast, is the decision not to sign a single player during the transfer windows of summer 2018 and winter 2019, having brought in only Lucas Moura in the winter of 2018.

Reaching the Champions League final in this period suggested Spurs had gotten away with their stadium-enforced frugality, but the present situation makes that seem like an illusion, an unsustainable sequence made possible by a manager and group of players who, by the end, were on their knees wringing out every drop of their collective talent and desire.

Now is when the consequences of that self-imposed transfer embargo can really be felt. This is the time when the players who should have been signed in that period would have been coming to the end of their second season and theoretically fully settled at the club, helping to give the squad the refresh it so desperately needed.

Because when you think of most successful recent Spurs signings — and those of most big clubs — few were instant hits.

Of the Gareth Bale-money signings in 2013, Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela started off solidly but both went to another level in their second and third seasons. Even Dele Alli who hit the ground running enjoyed his best season in his second campaign at the club in 2016-17 when he scored 18 Premier League goals — almost double his next best tally. Bale himself endured a difficult first couple of seasons before an outstanding finish to the 2009-10 campaign.

Looking forward, this has major implications for the summer rebuild that Spurs so desperately need. Given the slow-burn nature of most signings — unless they are exceptionally expensive or quick to gel — it seems unrealistic to expect any to instantly settle and transform this Spurs team. It’s possible Ndombele and Sessegnon will make big strides in what will be their second seasons next term, and Giovani Lo Celso already looks being a brilliant signing, but the pipeline of players from the last few years is pretty dry.

Of the 2017 summer signings, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth were supposed to be a centre-back pairing for the future, but Jose Mourinho appears to have little to no faith in the latter. Foyth has played just three times under him and is consequently open to a summer move. The remainders are Serge Aurier, who continues to divide opinion, Paulo Gazzaniga who has shown himself this season not to be a No 1 of the future, and the already departed Fernando Llorente.

Then there are young home-grown players from the last few years like Harry Winks and, well, that’s about it.

Spurs are more hopeful that Parrott, Oliver Skipp and Japhet Tanganga can become first-team regulars, but certainly in the case of the former two, it’ll likely be a year or so before they are fully established.

In short, plenty of patience is going to be required, and with chairman Daniel Levy admitting last week that there will be a reduced budget should Spurs fail to make the Champions League, shrewd signings who need a bit of time to develop will be the only option. That is unless Spurs sell one of their star players like Harry Kane or Dele and reinvest it as effectively as Liverpool did when they sold Philippe Coutinho and brought in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk. Should Tottenham choose to hold on to their best names and be more financially constrained, then Liverpool again illustrate how to effectively develop a side, with Joel Matip, Sadio Mane, Georginio Wijnaldum and Andy Robertson costing only a combined £67 million. But it took them time.

Whether Mourinho is the man to oversee this kind of rebuild is open to debate — he has certainly never been tasked with doing so on such a meagre budget before.

And watching the 3-0 defeat to RB Leipzig on Tuesday night it also became apparent just how many of the old Spurs guard look unrecognisable from their former selves. Lloris’s two errors caught the attention, but just as worrying was Alderweireld’s obvious discomfort against Leipzig’s pacy front three. The three-year contract extension he signed in December is suddenly looking like far less of a coup than it felt at the time.

Eric Dier had similar difficulties, and it was hard not to brace oneself in the second half when the rapid Timo Werner picked the ball up around the halfway line with only Dier between him and the Tottenham goal. In the end, Werner’s shot was off target after he had sprinted away from the Spurs defender.

Vertonghen, another key man of the best Pochettino teams, couldn’t even get a game — despite Spurs being without the injured Ben Davies and Sanchez. As he had done after being substituted against Southampton last month, the Belgian looked devastated when talking to Mourinho after the game.

Spurs’ struggles are about more than just a fallow year or so in the transfer market, but some of these players should be in the process of being phased out. Instead, not enough alternatives have been brought in to replace them.

Dele summed up the situation when he said in the aftermath of the Leipzig defeat that the team’s “confidence has gone”.

He, and all the other stalwarts, have desperately needed fresh faces to reinvigorate this Spurs squad for at least a year. But they either didn’t arrive or did so last summer when it was too late.

Tuesday night illustrated the extent to which Tottenham are paying the price for that, and you suspect they will be for a little while to come.

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