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15 minutes ago, Vesper said:

other than that dodgy shit with CAS, I have no issues with City

Thats enough in it self Vesper, nevermind they can spend what they want. Lets see what they will conjure up this summer.

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1 minute ago, Atomiswave said:

Thats enough in it self Vesper, nevermind they can spend what they want. Lets see what they will conjure up this summer.

At least Guardiola was honest when recently asked the secret of their success ''money''. 

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8 minutes ago, Fulham Broadway said:

At least Guardiola was honest when recently asked the secret of their success ''money''. 

Yup, people thought he was joking but looks like he meant it, I can respect that.

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Not releted to this thread but I'm curious about this. I noticed we have fans here from all big European countries with best clubs except Spain. Was always like this? Any particular reason? 

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10 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

Not releted to this thread but I'm curious about this. I noticed we have fans here from all big European countries with best clubs except Spain. Was always like this? Any particular reason? 

Language barrier? I'm sure there are plenty of fluent English speakers in Spain, but perhaps they prefer talking football in their native language. 

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29 minutes ago, NikkiCFC said:

Not releted to this thread but I'm curious about this. I noticed we have fans here from all big European countries with best clubs except Spain. Was always like this? Any particular reason? 

We had couple when we signed Fernando the Wonderhorse but they cleared off. Bit like the Belgians did when Hazard thought Madrid was a good idea

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The Fiver

The future of Big Cup, and England's exceptionalist officiating

 

Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy there, not fouling Phil Foden.
camera.png Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy there, not fouling Phil Foden. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/PA
Paul Doyle

Paul Doyle


A MESSI BUSINESS

It has been a momentous week in European football, with the eliminations of Juventus and Barcelona meaning that the Big Cup quarter-finals will take place without either Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi for the first time in 16 years, which, coincidentally, is the average lifespan of carefully maintained goats. The duo did not dominate immediately, of course, for back in 2005 Luis García was the undisputed king. But their rises had certainly begun and they have reigned supreme since then, give or take the odd 8-2 Müllering, and a few international no-shows by one of Argentina’s finest.

Ronaldo and Messi have been ushered through the Gate Marked Also-Rans as the players set to replace them in the affections of YouTube editors worldwide shone again. Erling Braut Haaland did the business for Dortmund while Messi was relegated to a sideshow by Kylian Mbappé’s PSG and Ousmane Dembélé’s bracing exhibition of terrible finishes. Trooper that he is, Messi fought defiantly to retain top billing, outdoing his teammates’ misses by botching a penalty. At that stage, Barça still had qualification if not within their sights, then at least detectable by the sort of high-powered technology English officials are deploying with thrilling randomness.

Yes, all this week’s talk of changing of the guards and the beginning and ending of eras presumably referred to the most compelling evidence yet of the alarming expansion of England’s exceptionalist officiating. First, Stockley Park boffins deployed state-of-the-art cameras to not see Phil Foden being tripped in the Premier League in an incident that Pep Guardiola described, pointedly in slow motion, as “IN-CRED-I-BLE, IN…. CRED… I …. BLE”.

Then, a team of elite English sticklers in Paris used similar equipment to award PSG a penalty that no one reasonably asked for after Clément Lenglet didn’t jump out of the way of Mauro Icardi, in an incident that might as well have happened at Sydney Opera House given how much it actually affected events at the Parc des Princes. Mbappé converted the penalty, and then the same officials failed to spot Marco Verratti encroaching when Messi goofed from the spot a few minutes later. Farewell, Messi and Ronaldo? There’s really no telling what the future holds.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Big Vase ahoy! Join Paul Doyle as he kicks off our clockwatch with Manchester United 2-1 Milan and Slavia Prague 1-2 Rangers (both 5.55pm GMT), before Ben Fisher takes the reins for Olympiakos 1-2 Arsenal and Tottenham 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb. Phew!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I thought it was quite tame really, it was a grey padded blazer. I was expecting more about the result we just got and how well we played. Then [the press officer] hit me with my jacket’s been getting a little bit of grief. It’ll be on again and it’ll stay on if we get positive results. Whatever I wear is a reflection of the football club and the team and that’s it” – Fulham’s Scott Parker on that jacket, which caused a stir at Anfield.

Scott Parker offers mixed reviews for Jürgen Klopp’s rig.
camera.png Scott Parker offers mixed reviews for Jürgen Klopp’s rig. Photograph: Matt West/BPI/Shutterstock

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Football Weekly is here! Join Max, Barry, Jonathan Liew and Mark Langdon for all the latest Big Cup chat.

FIVER LETTERS

“It was interesting to see José Mourinho say of Daniel Levy, who is just about to celebrate 20 years in charge of Spurs that ‘it would be nice for him to celebrate my 1,000 official matches winning a trophy for Tottenham’. Apropos of nothing, according to a piece in the New Yorker, the main trait of narcissists is grandiosity. They exaggerate their achievements and what they are certain will be their future triumphs, believe they are special, can be understood only by special people and cannot take criticism, Everything is about them, even other people’s success, and an opportunity to brag about yourself. Just a thought” – Noble Francis.

“Enough! Please resurrect STOP FOOTBALL now! I (and 1,056 others?) are now totally reliant on The Fiver to have the fortitude to do this [uh oh – Fiver Ed], lest we all die of boredom. Oh for the days of very infrequent live football on the telly, untainted by the dreadful ‘punditry’ drivel endlessly pumped out by massively overpaid has-beens currently employed for our ‘viewing enjoyment’” – David Pugh (and no others – yet).

“Liverpool 2-0 Leipzig. I’m so relieved that the Reds are scoring goals at home again!” – Peter Oh.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … David Pugh. No more prizes this week, but readers can still get 15% off From The Jaws of Victory (and free UK shipping) with the promo code FIVER.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Middlesbrough have condemned “vile and unacceptable” racist abuse directed at Yannick Bolasie on social media, while Bournemouth have also spoken out after Arnaut Danjuma received abuse. “This has to stop,” a club statement said. Quite.

The former Milan CEO, Adriano Galliani, has been admitted to hospital following complications from Covid-19. Serie B side Monza, where Galliani is now a director, confirmed the news but added it was purely a precautionary measure.

Manchester City have swept Fiorentina aside in Women’s Big Cup, winning 5-0 in Florence to complete an 8-0 aggregate win and join Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

Manchester City Women march on.
camera.png Manchester City Women march on. Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

A protest in Buenos Aires, led by Diego Maradona’s ex-wife and two of his daughters, has called for “justice” amid an ongoing investigation into his death in November.

The Livingston manager, David Martindale, has said only lockdown prevented Rangers fans’ title celebrations getting further out of hand. “I thought to myself, ‘thank God we’re in lockdown’. Can you imagine if we weren’t?” Martindale said. “Everyone knows my background and the fact I’ve been to prison. The amount of people who are in prison as a result of Rangers and Celtic games, it’s incredible.”

Newcastle are in deep relegation trouble and Bernard Cribbins has said “the buck stops with me”, before swiftly attempting to move the buck on. “We were going along very, very nicely until Covid hit, and then the injuries to our big players has been a real, big problem to handle. I don’t think people want to use that as an excuse.”

Trip the Goat and he will fall: Shaun Goater thinks the Phil Foden incident will encourage players to go down in the area. “If I’m a player watching that today I’m making sure that I’m going down,” Goater fumed. “Why stay on my feet now?”

And VAR has an unlikely advocate in Diego Simeone. “I still believe that VAR has improved football and made decisions more just,” the Atlético Madrid manager gesticulated. “There are people who work every day to improve it.”

STILL WANT MORE?

It was in November 2002 that Jeff Astle’s death was recorded as “death by industrial disease” so why is the belated inquiry into concussion so woefully under-resourced? Andy Bull reports.

Is Zoran Mamic Dinamo Zagreb’s master coach, a criminal – or both? Alex Holiga on the Croatian club taking on Spurs in Big Vase.

North London derby classics, Soccerball genius from Roberto Cabañas and that Paulo Otávio tackle in this week’s Classic YouTube.

Paulo Otavio hacks down a Hoffenheim player.
camera.png Not so fast! Photograph: Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Big Jürg played Fabinho in midfield and Liverpool looked loads better. Well, that was obvious, says Jonathan Liew.

How exactly did ‘Dundee United’ become an insult in Nigeria? Liam Kirkaldy tells the tale, and it’s a corker.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

FROM THE PEN OF J.D. MacGREGOR

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Chris Wilder will apparently be gone from Sheffield United today...just before we play them in the cup next weekend.

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I dont understand this obsession with Klopp over the years and their success. It is not like many are trying to say that he build something for the future and for years to come.

They suffered 3 years under him to get success in 4th and 5th season but now they are back to natural habitat. Most likely no CL next season. All their best players are getting old.

Ofc for Liverpool fans after 25 years without title, if you come to them with 5 years project that will give them title they will say: Hell yeah! But in Chelsea we would never accept that.

Conte came here and won title in first season just like Carlo. Better success for me and they dont get credit, not even close like Klopp does.

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1 hour ago, NikkiCFC said:

I dont understand this obsession with Klopp over the years and their success. It is not like many are trying to say that he build something for the future and for years to come.

They suffered 3 years under him to get success in 4th and 5th season but now they are back to natural habitat. Most likely no CL next season. All their best players are getting old.

Ofc for Liverpool fans after 25 years without title, if you come to them with 5 years project that will give them title they will say: Hell yeah! But in Chelsea we would never accept that.

Conte came here and won title in first season just like Carlo. Better success for me and they dont get credit, not even close like Klopp does.

Because Klopp inherited a genuine mid table team and never got backed by the owners unless the money was raised in a sale.

Not saying he nesseserily deserves more credit than managers that do it quicker but all of them had better resources to select from.

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1 hour ago, NikkiCFC said:

I dont understand this obsession with Klopp over the years and their success. It is not like many are trying to say that he build something for the future and for years to come.

They suffered 3 years under him to get success in 4th and 5th season but now they are back to natural habitat. Most likely no CL next season. All their best players are getting old.

Ofc for Liverpool fans after 25 years without title, if you come to them with 5 years project that will give them title they will say: Hell yeah! But in Chelsea we would never accept that.

Conte came here and won title in first season just like Carlo. Better success for me and they dont get credit, not even close like Klopp does.

You say that and yet, our league finishes aren't too different from Liverpool under Klopp in the same period at all:

Liverpool - 8th, 4th, 4th, 2nd, 1st
Chelsea - 10th, 1st, 5th, 3rd, 4th

Each won the league only once and Liverpool would have won 2 had it not been for the crazy City side in 2018/19. Liverpool of course also reached 2 Champions League finals and won one of them under Klopp.

Don't think the squad building Klopp started years ago was bad. Had the right idea and built the right squad. His problem is not refreshing the squad in the last year or so. Then again, I suppose not everyone is Fergie.

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The Fiver

Bamboozling managers with new-fangled tactics and shouts of 'BASHY!'

 

Chris Wilder
camera.png Oh Chris! Photograph: Mike Egerton/Reuters
Barry Glendenning

Barry Glendenning


A WALK ON THE WILDER SIDE

Fan. Ball boy. Player. Captain. Manager. As Sheffield United as Bramall Lane, Sean Bean and refusing to get out of bed on a particular day of the week because it’s called Wednesday. At the time of writing your Friday Fiver, it remains unclear whether Chris Wilder chose to leave, or has been sacked as Sheffield United boss. Either way, it doesn’t matter. He’s gone and we can only imagine that leaving the club in which he has invested almost a lifetime of blood, sweat and tears across a little over half a century is bound to be a wrench.

In five years in the job, he defied expectations by taking the club from League One to the dizzy heights of a ninth place finish in last season’s Premier League, a feat that surprised many informed pundits who had confidently predicted that a campaign spent getting Simon Tracey to lump the ball long to Brian Deane or Alan Cork would almost certainly end in relegation.

As well-researched as they were, these footballing experts and opinion-formers could scarcely have been more wrong and Wilder raised eyebrows and expectations with his habit of repeatedly bamboozling opposing managers with his new-fangled tactics of employing overlapping centre-backs while shouting “BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY! BASHY!” a lot. The results were devastatingly effective.

The results this season have been devastatingly ineffective. With his team anchored to the foot of the table and heading back to the Championship, Wilder retained the unequivocal support of most Blades fans but had made no secret of unrest “behind the scenes”. Having shelled out more than £30m on two strikers, one of whom has got two goals with the other yet to score, club owner Sheikh Abdullah remains in favour of putting somebody other than Wilder in charge of a club war-chest currently padlocked and emblazoned with a cautionary photo of an apologetic looking Rhian Brewster.

While the Sheikh has “give it t’Heckingbottom” for the timebeing, Eddie Howe is already being touted as Wilder’s potential replacement, while we are also contractually obliged to mention Frank Lampard. Meanwhile, various luminaries of the English game and Peter Shilton have been voicing their disquiet at the turn of events.

“Surely it won’t be long before Chris Wilder is back in football after being sacked at Sheffield United,” said Peter Shilton, taking time out from tweeting about how great Brexit is and warning of an imminent reckoning for Harry and Meghan over their shoddy treatment of the queen. Gary Lineker, Martin Keown and no end of Sheffield United fans have also paid homage to Wilder. “If he would be [at Man City], he would fight to be champion,” said Pep Guardiola earlier today. “If I was in Sheffield maybe I’d fight not to be relegated.” With their much-loved leader gone, that’s a potential job swap most Sheffield United fans could probably get on board with.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE

Join Barry Glendenning for red-hot updates on Newcastle 0-0 Aston Villa at 8pm GMT.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I look up, I don’t look down” – José Mourinho gets his [email protected] on ahead of the north London derby by suggesting he doesn’t worry too much about games against teams below Spurs. Arf.

José Mourinho
camera.png Zing! Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

FIVER LETTERS

“I’m currently listening to old Danny Baker BBC Radio London shows from 15 years ago that a bloke appears to have recorded, edited and recently uploaded to iTunes for some unknown reason (but a doff of the cap for doing so). I’m up to May 2006 and all the trailers are very excited about Arsenal in the upcoming Big Cup final against Barcelona ‘as Lehmann is in great form after saving a last-minute penalty in the semi-final’. As the great man used to say: ‘Nothing can go wrong now’...” – Noble Francis.

“Unlike David Pugh (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I don’t have a problem with live football being on TV every night of the week. But I agree with him totally about the abysmal level of punditry. When my team, Manchester City, were on every couple of weeks I’d tune in for the pre-match waffle. But now that every single match is televised, the ‘experts’ have literally run out of things to say (it happens to the best of us – Fiver Ed). They have 30 minutes to fill and you can run a sweep on when they will discuss (a) the pricetag of City’s subs bench, (b) how Pep could have sent Foden out on loan or played him more often (while never mentioning that he has actually made over 100 appearances) and (c) whether Agüero’s City career is over. STOP PUNDITRY!” – John Caley.

Send your letters to [email protected]. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’the day is … John Caley. No more prizes this week, but readers can still get 15% off From The Jaws of Victory (and free UK shipping) with the promo code FIVER.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

Chelsea will play Wolfsburg and Manchester City will face Barcelona – the holders of the German and Spanish titles, respectively – in the quarter-finals of Women’s Big Cup. Gulp!

David de Gea’s availability for Manchester United’s game against West Ham on Sunday is “touch and go” because the keeper has had to quarantine after returning from paternity leave in Spain.

Despite Manchester City cruising to another league title, Pep Guardiola has found something to micro-manage and moan about. “The [Etihad] grass is not good,” he honked. “We were in London against Arsenal, at Anfield, at Old Trafford and the grass was better. We were in Budapest in the [Big Cup] and the grass was incredible – and our grass still is not good.”

Etihad pitch
camera.png Erm, it’s hardly Maine Road in the 70s is it? Photograph: Gareth Copley/AFP/Getty Images

Abdoulaye Doucouré is set for 10 weeks’ worth of red-hot chat with Everton physios after suffering foot-knack.

Manchester United co-chief suit Avram Glazer has put shares worth more than £70m up for sale. Buy! Buy! Buy! Or don’t.

The FA has apologised for telling several players they were not on the 35-player Team GB shortlist for Big Sports Day in Tokyo just 90 minutes before Birmingham v Everton on Thursday.

And rock hard ref Darren Drysdale has been given four matches in the stop-and-think chair after being found guilty of improper conduct when he “snarled” into the face of Ipswich’s Alan Judge.

STILL WANT MORE?

“I was so lucky that I was good at sport because it’s the only way I knew how to interact with people.” Manchester City and England’s Lucy Bronze get her chat on exclusively with Suzanne Wrack about how she’s never more comfortable than when she’s playing football.

Lucy Bronze poses with her WSL player of the month gong for February.
camera.png Lucy Bronze poses with her WSL player of the month gong for February. Photograph: Tom Flathers/The FA

Liverpool’s mega-slump is a story of burnt-out brilliance and the need to go again. By Barney Ronay.

Ten things to look out for in the Premier League this weekend, right here.

Bayern Munich and USA! USA!! USA!!! defender Chris Richards, who is on loan at Hoffenheim, chats to David Hytner about on falling football in Argentina, training at Bayern and his hopes for the future.

Diego’s last dance: the night Maradona played in Toronto.

Oh, and if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

NICE

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The Telegraph

Friday March 12 2021

Football Nerd

How Thomas Tuchel made Chelsea the Premier League's tightest defence

102x102DanZeqiri.png

By Daniel Zeqiri

Some fan bases carry around a carefully curated self-image based on their club's reputation for attacking football and playing the 'right way' but Chelsea are not one of them.

Only fans of a certain vintage will recall their swashbuckling team of King's Road hellraisers in the Sixties, with most having Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Carlo Ancelotti as their reference points for winning league titles.

It will therefore hearten Chelsea's supporters that new head coach Thomas Tuchel's biggest achievement so far is their miserly defensive record.

Since Tuchel's first game in charge, a goalless draw at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Chelsea have conceded just two in nine Premier League games. Four fewer goals than any other team in the division.

In this week's Football Nerd, I analyse the data and look at how Tuchel has managed to keep Chelsea's back door firmly shut.

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20 hours ago, Jason said:

His problem is not refreshing the squad in the last year or so. Then again, I suppose not everyone is Fergie.

Indeed, and that has been our problem too, in the few seasons we won the title.

I have no idea why we didn't bother to strengthen significantly in Mourinho's 3rd season following the title win. Same happened with Ancelloti's second season. No signings of note. Just an ageing Benayoun of all players. (I'm not mentioning Conte's title win here, because his second season transfers were mucked up by him).

It's as if management thinks that the same group of players are a bunch of machines that can reproduce the exact same results year after year. Just illogical.

Liverpool are suffering from the fact that there is no challenge or respite being offered to either of Salah/Firminho/Mane from their bench, besides Jota. Minamino and Origi are below par.

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