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Phil McNulty Q&A blog

The supposed invincibles of Chelsea lose, West Bromwich Albion win at Arsenal and Fabio Capello is suddenly back in favour after England open their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign in style.

If we thought this season, and the Premier League in particular, was going to be predictable, then we can all think again after last weekend.

So it is the perfect time for another Q&A session. I asked for your questions on the Premier League and England and the response, as always, was first-class.

Sorry if I have not answered your question here, but there were just too many to respond to them all. There will be plenty of other opportunities throughout the season, so hopefully we will get to pretty much everyone eventually.

Kwadwo Poku Gyambibi (and plenty of others): "Why did Arsene Wenger refuse to sign a goalkeeper?"

So many questions on this one, further prompted by Manuel Almunia's mistake against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

First of all, we should stress Wenger did not refuse to sign a goalkeeper, after all he did make offers for Fulham's Mark Schwarzer, it was more a case of him failing to sign a goalkeeper.

I am utterly baffled by Wenger's inability to address such an obvious flaw in his side. For someone who is so meticulous and a wonderful student of the game, he surely cannot seriously believe his goalkeepers are good enough to help Arsenal win the major prizes?

If he does, then he is mistaken. And this is not someone telling Wenger how to do his job, this is an honest opinion that is also shared by thousands of Arsenal fans. Arsenal need a new goalkeeper - a fact. It is certainly not something said with the benefit of hindsight because this has been a topic of discussion for months now.

And if, as some have suggested, Wenger is stubbornly refusing to follow the pack who are calling him to sign a keeper, then again he is mistaken.

It can hardly be a lack of cash given Arsenal's huge profits. Shay Given would have been a better alternative, and surely Wenger's worldwide scouting network could have come up with an upgrade on Arsenal's current mediocre crop of keepers.

A mistake - and one that could prove very expensive.


Faizan Javaid: "Who do you blame for Liverpool's downfall? Owners, manager or other factors? How will Liverpool improve and become capable of fighting for the Premier League and Champions League?"

As in many cases Faizan, Liverpool's current malaise is caused by a combination of factors.

Yes, the regime of Tom Hicks and George Gillett is chief among them, but it could hardly be said Liverpool's previous manager Rafael Benitez was starved of cash. It is something of a myth to suggest Benitez constantly lived on the game's breadline.

Benitez had money to spend, large sums compared to most clubs in the Premier League, but one of the major flaws at the start of last season, after Liverpool had finished second in the previous campaign, was wasting a large portion of the money he received for Xabi Alonso on Alberto Aquilani.

As former Liverpool midfield man Jan Molby pointed out last week, a lot of Benitez's legacy was on show in the humiliating Carling Cup defeat against Northampton Town. Benitez did so many good things at Liverpool, but ultimately he signed too many mediocre players and the blame for that cannot be laid solely at the door of Hicks and Gillett.

There is no doubt, however, that the owners and the ownership issue are now casting a huge cloud over the club. New manager Roy Hodgson cannot start his rebuilding job in earnest until new money flows into the club, and it will not come while Liverpool remain heavily in debt and no new owners are forthcoming.

I should add though, that players cannot use Hicks and Gillett as an excuse for performing poorly. You never hear players congratulating the owners when they are playing well, so they cannot hold them responsible when they play badly.

Liverpool need money to fight on a more equal footing near the top of the table - and as their supporters will tell you, it cannot come soon enough.

Marcus Parr: "What do you think of Gerard Houllier's appointment at Aston Villa, and where do you think they will finish in the Premier League?"


A question also posed by Sean Avfc Cook and, as I said in a recent blog, I think Houllier is a very sound appointment by Villa owner Randy Lerner.

History was in danger of re-writing his time at Liverpool as a failure, and nothing could be further from the truth. He brought discipline and professionalism after the so-called "Spice Boys" era and rebuilt the culture of the club.

Houllier, most importantly, also brought trophies back to Liverpool, winning the Worthington Cup, the FA Cup and the Uefa Cup in 2001 alone.

He is still a modern thinker on the game, very much in touch all aspects of football and a shrewd tactician. He is also a great believer in organisation on and off the field. Houllier will give Villa's players everything they need to achieve success.

Houllier has made a very good start, his appointment of Gary McAllister as assistant is also a good choice, and I can see him making Villa contenders for the top six. Don't rule out a cup run either - he's got form.

Ben Johnson: "Can you seriously see anyone but Jose Mourinho succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in two or three years, and do you think he will continue to bring unparallelled success to the club when he eventually takes over?

This was also a question from Dale Mattocks on the more general point of Ferguson's departure. I have long been of the opinion that Mourinho would be the perfect successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

He is someone who is undaunted by the size of any task, a prerequisite for anyone taking over from Ferguson, and is a winning, world-class coach. The identikit of what United will be seeking.

He also has a good relationship with Ferguson, whose input will no doubt be sought by the Old Trafford hierarchy.

Some worry if Mourinho will regard himself as bigger than the club itself, but Mourinho is not stupid. He will be aware of the history of Manchester United and embrace it.

So to answer your question, yes I think he is perfect for Manchester United and his career is almost looking like a route map to Old Trafford after Real Madrid. Mourinho has been a success everywhere he has been in recent years, so I do not see things changing in his next job, wherever that may be.

The big imponderable is, of course, Ferguson's retirement date. When will that be? Who knows? It could be longer that two or three years Ben.

Ben Hargreaves: "Do you agree or disagree with Blackburn's playing style?"

Interesting question. Not a question of agreeing or disagreeing with it, more a question of do I like it or not. While not agreeing with everything Sam Allardyce says or does, there is no question he has done a good job at Blackburn Rovers.

It is the job of a manager to manage his resources as best he can and find a formation that suits his players. Allardyce does that, although there is no doubt it is a style that is not universally admired.

It might not be my chosen style of football, but Allardyce has every right to do what he thinks is best for Blackburn, irrespective of the critics, and he has rebuilt them very well since taking over at Ewood Park. They were threatened with relegation when he arrived and I certainly do not see them struggling this season.

And, I think it's fair to say, Sam is not short of confidence in his ability to do the job.

Andy Forsyth: Where do you think Everton are going wrong this season? Surely it can't just be the case that we're not taking chances?

Thanks also to Neil Challis and others for questions about Everton. They are traditionally slow starters, but they have had an horrendous opening to this season. Totally unexpected.

And no, it is not simply a matter of Everton not taking chances, The main focus in the summer was on keeping players rather than adding to the squad that ended last season so well and, Steven Pienaar's failure to sign a new contract apart, this was done.

Sadly, because of a failure to attract new investment, there was no money available for the quality striker and right-sided midfield player Everton crave. This flaw has been exposed in the opening weeks of the season.

This is arguably the strongest squad Everton have had under Moyes, and yet the manager himself has not performed brilliantly this season. Marouane Fellaini was outstanding as a midfield anchor last season, and yet has hardly played there this time around. John Heitinga is clearly at his best in central defence, and yet has been in midfield this season - selection seems uncertain.

Also, Moyes has been unable to perfect a team formation that allows him to utilise two strikers. He is reluctant to depart from that rigid format, almost always operating with a lone striker.

He has shown an ability to turn things around before of course, but Everton could ill-afford this slow start if they want to make an impact in the top six.

So not just missing chances, try lack of transfer funds, poor form and an unconvincing start to the season from the manager.

Ahad Shaukat Gooner: "Don't you think Steven Gerrard should be the permanent captain of England with Rio Ferdinand's injury problems?"

Yes, I do think Steven Gerrard should be England's permanent captain. Rio Ferdinand cannot be relied upon to string a consistent run of games together, and for the sake of continuity alone Gerrard should be given the armband.

More importantly than that, though, Gerrard has handled the responsibilities of captain superbly since the World Cup - on and off the field.

He has been outstanding in all of England's games since they returned from South Africa, and he was a mature and measured spokesman for the team recently in giving support to coach Fabio Capello and talking about the problems team-mate Wayne Rooney was having. There was also a real unity around the squad as well and Gerrard has the total respect of his team-mates.

Capello will have to make this decision soon. I hope he sticks with Gerrard as England captain.


Danny Spooner: Under Roberto di Matteo, do West Brom have a manager who can keep them in the Premier League?

Long way to go Danny, but the early signs are good. Di Matteo has a great pedigree and background in the game. It was not just the fact that they won at Arsenal that was so impressive, it was the manner of their victory. They were outstanding.

And the confidence going to The Emirates and winning will give Albion's players cannot be undervalued. They will have troubled times ahead of course, but they have made a great start under someone who is a real, emerging managerial talent.

They will also be difficult to beat at home in front of passionate supporters, so yes they certainly have a chance of stopping the boing-boinging between the Premier League and the Championship.

Matt Bevis: "Do you see Manchester United looking to strengthen their midfield in the next two transfer windows?

The January window is never a great time for clubs like Manchester United to strengthen because the calibre of player they require is invariably involved in the Champions League or chasing trophies with another club.

They will, however, have to strengthen soon because - despite evidence to the contrary - Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs will not go on forever.

I was at a press conference with Sir Alex Ferguson recently when he stated the club may have to stretch themselves in the market in a couple of years to cover the retirement of that older generation of Old Trafford stars.

I would be surprised if he waited that long. I bet Wesley Sneijder's contract negotiations at Inter Milan are attracting the odd glance from Old Trafford for a start.

Jack Theo Anniky: "What do you think of the brand of football Chris Hughton has got Newcastle playing this season, along with his signings?"

Only seen Newcastle in the flesh once this season Jack, but they were very impressive when they won at Everton. Looked well-organised, strong in midfield and had a threat up front with the power of Andy Carroll and the creativity of new boy Hatem Ben Arfa, who scored a spectacular goal that day.

They will be inconsistent, as home defeats to Blackpool and Stoke City have proved, but I think they have enough about them to stay in the Premier League this season.

Steven Gabriel Ha: "Do you think the Liverpool job was one hurdle too high for Roy Hodgson, despite his accomplished managerial career?"

Very early for that sort of talk - despite Liverpool's indifferent start. Hodgson inherited a very tough task at Liverpool. Self-evidently the job would not have been available had everything in the garden been rosy.

He started well by signing Joe Cole and persuading Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres to stay, but things have veered off course in recent weeks.

There is no doubt you are managing a unique footballing institution at Liverpool, and this is what Hodgson is currently coming to grips with. Maybe it has surprised even someone as experienced as a man who previously coached Inter Milan.

With all due respect, while getting a goalless draw at Birmingham City is a good result for Fulham, it is merely a "middling" one for Liverpool. Expectation levels are on another plane, and I also think Liverpool's fans will not expect their team to approach games so cautiously in future months. Hodgson must be more expansive.

I thought the appointment of Hodgson was a good one and I'm certainly not moving away from that on the basis of a view games and a pretty tough Premier League start. Could have been better though - no escaping that.

Frew Frez: "Will Adam Johnson be England's next superstar?"

Not sure about superstar, but he has all the equipment necessary to make a big impact for England. Every time I have watched Johnson play he has done something to have you on the edge of your seat, and he looks a natural at international level, making and scoring goals.

Johnson has something of the old-school winger about him, direct, pacy, the odd trick and a willingness to shoot or cross on sight. No messing, which is exactly what defences do not like.

A note of caution though. Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has already felt the need to warn Johnson to keep his feet on the ground after his recent success with England.

He will do well to heed those words. It would a crying shame if he did not fulfil all the natural talent he possesses.

Andrew Webb: With the Montenegro game coming up for England, should Capello try out new players in all positions (except the goalkeeper) or stick with the same team?

Don't think England should be getting ahead of themselves Andrew. Montenegro cannot be taken lightly and I am not sure Fabio Capello's pool of talent is deep enough to consider tinkering on that scale, even it was ever justified.

He should play his strongest team, although it will be interesting to see if John Terry and Rio Ferdinand return in central defence. I believe Everton's Phil Jagielka should keep his place in central defence, Theo Walcott should stay on the right if he is fit and Adam Johnson should play on the left in place of the suspended James Milner.

Imagine the outcry if Capello did what you suggested and England lost?

Quazi Islam: Do you think Michael Owen will get more chances to play this season since Wayne Rooney is completely out of form? What is the chance that he will get a contract extension by the end of the season?

Not sure Wayne Rooney's slump will last that long, but one thing Michael Owen has proved again is that when he is fit and given the chance he still knows exactly where the goal is.

It is pretty certain his England career is over, so Manchester United can be his sole priority. It is obvious Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov are ahead of him at Old Trafford, but what an option for Sir Alex Ferguson to have.

Interesting question about a contract extension too. Much will depend on how he performs this season and how other United youngsters develop, but I am very certain that if United do not want him, plenty of others will. Gerard Houllier for one.

Grant Carmichael: "Do you have an opinion on the "Old Firm" joining a league down south, whether that be Championship level?"

Yes I do have an opinion on this Grant. I do not think they should be allowed to join a league down south unless it is at the very bottom tier - and they clearly would not accept that.

This is not a reflection on the stature of two great clubs, but you cannot have them simply parachuted in near the top tier of the English game. How would the game be reorganised to accommodate them? Would a club have to drop out of a division to accommodate them? Non-starter for me I'm afraid.

Christopher Ward: "Do you think the next England manager should be English and who do you think is favourite to get the next England manager's job?"

In a recent blog I made it clear I am very happy for the next England manager to be English, providing he is the best man for the job. I think the Football Association would make a serious error if it restricted the search for Fabio Capello's successor to an Englishman.

It is too early to say who the favourite is because so much can change in the next two years, although I have to say I do not see Capello's coach Stuart Pearce as an England manager. Not enough experiece.

What I will say is that if the best available candidate in 2012 is foreign, then the FA should have no hesitation in appointing him.

Paul Lewis: "Watching Fernando Torres play at the moment, if you were offered £50m for him & you could invest the money into getting another three or four people in to replace him would you take it?"

I know this is an idea that would tempt some, but Torres is playing his way back from a succession of injuries and is a world-class player. If Roy Hodgson felt Torres' heart was not in Liverpool any more and he could use cash for all-round strengthening then he may be tempted.

My take on it, however, is that unless Torres makes it clear he is unhappy at Liverpool, they should never be in the business of selling their world-class players. What message does that send out to their supporters and other clubs?

I do not buy into the theory that Torres is an almost reluctant participant in Liverpool's current team. I believe the fact that he is a class act whose mind is still learning to trust his body after some serious injuries is a better explanation of his below-par performances.

If I was at Liverpool, I would be very reluctant to sell Torres unless the player himself announced he wished to leave.

Mark Flavum Tattersall: Despite their 1-0 victory over Chelsea, do you think Manchester City need some more firepower up front? With Adebayor obviously not a favourite of Mancini, Balotelli out injured for a while with Santa Cruz barely justifying the large price tag paid by predecessor Mark Hughes, it seems we are relying even more heavily on Carlos Tevez's goals this season.

Long question but a good one. I do think City will rely heavily on Tevez this season, but he seems happy with that responsibility. I do not think Mancini is a coach who will fill his team with forwards, and I think he has great faith in Balotelli to deliver once he is fit.

Roque Santa Cruz has proved to be a poor buy, while it does seem Emmanuel Adebayor is not flavour of the month. It will be intriguing to see how Mancini man-manages his resources.

The good news for City fans is that if he does decide he needs another striker, he can pay pretty much whatever it takes to get him. A nice position for any manager to be in.

Raymond Fagbenro: "What solution would you proffer for the obvious frailties tormenting Manchester United's defence lately? Do you think Sir Alex Ferguson should try out another defence pairing or is everything just some kind of lack of concentration?"

I think the answer to this would be a long run of form and fitness for Rio Ferdinand alongside Nemanja Vidic - whenever that might be. Jonny Evans has struggled this season, while Chris Smalling is a work in progress.

The result has been a vulnerability for United at the back. Ferguson called it "lapses in concentration". I prefer "frailty".

It is a pivotal time for Ferdinand now. If he proves incapable of stringing together a respectable run of games, then I can see Ferguson going into the market to replace him, in fact I am a little surprised he hasn't done it already. He has great faith in Evans and Smalling though.

Āmèy Kokànè: "Should Chelsea be worried by their loss to Manchester City? If Chelsea face a physical opposition that crowds them out and try to attack on counter, they have problems. Same happened with Inter Milan in last year's Champions League quarter-final. Does Ancelloti has a solution for this strategy?"

Only one defeat Amey, although I take your point. Manchester City's power and stifling approach pretty much snuffed out Chelsea's threat. Chelsea did miss Frank Lampard, however, and they have plenty of power of their own if players like Didier Drogba and Michael Essien are firing on all cylinders.

They were not at Eastlands, so City won. I am certain Carlo Ancelotti will regard it as one disappointing performance rather than a sign of a bigger problem.

AND FINALLY

Tanimu Umar: If Sir Alex Ferguson seeks your advice on when he should retire, what will be your opinion?

Funnily enough Tanimu, I am not sitting by the phone waiting for Fergie's call! Should it ever come, then I would suggest when his passion for the game and hunger for success has diminished. So I am not holding my breath.

Many thanks again for all the questions. Apologies is yours did not appear, but there will be regular Q&As throughout the season.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    With reference to the question on whether the next England manager should be English? Should you maybe not change it to "Mother tongue" is English for example, a Scottish manager? They have shown through the years that they are more than capable, Fergie etc..... Look at the Championship and the Premiership with the abundance of Scottish managers, shouldn't they also be considered for the job? Would you say David Moyes has done a better job thatn say Sam Allardyce who is constantly being touted as a possibility?

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks for answering my question Phil, loved it .

  • Comment number 4.

    i love th catechism format, phil but not a cliche in sight

    good stuff old son. my question would be

    When can we have the mangled metaphors back? we like them/

  • Comment number 5.

    There is only one Englishman who can manage England and that is Harry Redknapp. Not only has he been successful in his career as a manager as compared to other candidates but he knows how do handle big players and how to keep the level of spirit high in the dressing room . Would an Allardyce or Steve Bruce be able to handle big egos like Terry,Lampard and Rooney having never managed players of such caliber in their life ?

    I don't agree that the England manager should be English. It can be anyone. Anyone who can make it easy for the players, have a close relationship with them, comfort them and make the players understand his ideas..

    About Capello, what I've heard is that he's not the player's favourite. The players are afraid of him and they play with fear rather than freely under him. Ancelotti, who played under Capello at Milan recently accused Capello of being too distant with members of his squad .. Something similar was echoed by Mourinho .. So If a foreign coach doesn't have such problems, then I don't see anyone other than an Englishman being the coach of the England Team.

  • Comment number 6.

    have to say I agree with the opinions on AW's apparent inabilty to fill such a vital position with someone who shall we say is not prone to schoolboy errors. However he rightly points out that its not just the keepers that are to blame for some horrendous desion making.

    For example, look at tonights game just what was Dennilson doing? putting his arm wide up and open in his own penalty area when seeing a harmless cross heading in his direction? it beggars belief! and i nearly kicked my tv screen! as for Fabrinski, again i see some very poor decision making, also considerable lack of any communication between HIM! and his defenders, is he to scared to speak?.

    as you say, its perplexing as to why AW failed to address such a glaring weakness, perhaps the keepers available were to OLD!? but if this is the case, then in keeping with the youth policy why not sign a Young keeper who has someone more confidence.

    very puzzling indeed.

  • Comment number 7.

    damn! I only managed #7.

  • Comment number 8.

    Even though Phil most of the answers you have already answered in your blogs, what really intrigue me is your take on Jose return to Manchester United.

    Will your opinion remain the same with the sort of debt the club is having right now.

    Even though it is early days my feeling is United will have an unexpected season this one. Though not many have players outside the top three to topple them and it will be the only reason they won't be out of top four. I don't think they will be in the title race beyond January.

  • Comment number 9.

    Any chance you can talk more about the proposed Everton/Liverpool groundshare? Harry Harris from ESPN soccernet reported that both Dalglish and Kenwright are open to idea although it is not the ideal solution (article is here http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=827697&sec=england&cc=5739)

    Given the finance difficulties of both clubs, the groundshare makes sense. A world class large seater would given the clubs an edge over smaller clubs and help to put both historic clubs pack on the map. It would be also great for the city of Liverpool and allow the city to prosper as a whole.

    Thanks for your great writing Phil.

  • Comment number 10.

    Mostly agree with your answers - however I do question your support of houllier, like benitez he bought very poorly in the transfer market and relied on horrible Catenaccio tactics in the cups (anyone who remembers the games against barca (quite a poor barca side at the time) will be lucky to have recovered ten years later!), and could have very easily been the losing side in each of those finals (pub quiz - how many teams have conceded four in a uefa final and still won?), uefa cup conceded four to an average spanish side - winning goal was an own goal from memory, and outplayed by birmingham and arsenal in the others. He like benitez played on one or two results to build their reputation.

    And Mourinho? Why would he take a step down to man united, anyone who was born on the iberian peninsula has two teams they dream of - real and barca, mourinho has written off barca so madrid is the only other team - he has already got to the end of his road map. Granted if he is unsuccessful at madrid he could go to united, but if he is successful it will be a massive step down for him and he will probably only see the national team as the way to go. You've got to look at the facts from a southern european point of view rather than our 'premier league is the best league in the world' point of view. I can assure you that throughout the iberian area man u a quite a few rungs down from the big euro teams.

    And lastly you and other liverpool fans have got to forget your beloved liverpool of old - this is liverpool of 2010, with a weak inherited squad and limited funds as you say, a draw against birmingham away from home is a great result. You are not one of the so called 'big four' anymore and these teams (birmingham and sunderland) are the teams you should be measured against, you are a mid table team (anything above this will be an extremely good season - a la fulham of a couple of seasons ago!! hence why roy was brought in).

  • Comment number 11.

    #10 Dunno what youre on about mate. To say that going from real to united would be "massive" step down just smells of a bitter old ABU fan. You obviously dont understand the big picture or have any idea about how Jose works. United are one of the biggest clubs in the world, they are the only club on par with Real and Barca, granted, Real and Barca are more successful but United have a greater following world wide, are a bigger brand, play in arguably a better league, which they have dominated for the best part of two decades, its not a step down, thats just silly. Jose wants to win everywhere, he won it portugal, made his name with Chelsea, then further extended his success with inter now hes looking at bringing back glory to the bernabeu. The only thing left would be to further the fergie legacy, he said himself he loves English Football, probably cause hes from the Iberian Peninsula ;-) For anyone to out do fergie, which jose is capable of, would make them an easy candidate for being one the greatest ever.

  • Comment number 12.


    Phil, do you think Fergie is under pressure, probably from himself, cause he wasnt to 2 may be 3 very successful seasons so hes afraid to spend any time blooding youngsters. Can you think of any reason why hes persisted with Oshea at RB for united and hasnt gone with Rafael, or why he hasnt promoted some of uniteds many young CMs like Eikrem, Cleverly, W. keane etc to fill in for scholes and giggs, I would much rather he promoted from within than buy an expensive 27 year old from another league.

  • Comment number 13.

    When is someone going to realise Liverpool are a mid table club with a mediocre team. Hodgson left one mid table club for another. Look at the team the facts and the last season. You cannot factor in any more than that. Hodgson will turn it around quicker than he did Fulham but not make them much better than Fulham.
    As for Houlier to Villa, yeah he has form. So has Red Rum but I am not sure if that horse is still alive. Houlier was a disaster with the French National team and was 'promoted' upstairs. After the debacle in South Africa it's interesting he left the FFF before he was pushed.
    Uniteds defensive problems are squarely with the insistance of Playihg an out of form Evans.. Neveille it looks like has been dropped. Evra has his confidence shattered after his ban from the National team. Ferguson needs to play the twins.
    Agree with you on Rangers and Celtic... but not on M Owen. He proved last year his hamstrings are ancient rubber and snap easier than a Liverpool midfielder in a bar after a defeat. Give him a run of 3 games he will join Ferdinand on the bench.

  • Comment number 14.

    Phil: "I think he is perfect for Manchester United and his career is almost looking like a route map to Old Trafford after Real Madrid."

    What makes it so?

    #11 "The only thing left would be to further the fergie legacy"

    That's the only thing left to achieve in football after Real? Coz Man u are the most successful club in europe?

    This idea that Mourinho wants to go to Old Trafford seems to exist in United fans' heads, he has neither said he wants to go there, no hinted that he wants to go there, which job in club football is bigger than the Barnabeu?, just people seeking relevance...

  • Comment number 15.

    #10 Jose just loves the English game . He has stated that many a times . He has done his job with Chelsea. He bitterly ruled out managing Liverpool at any stage of his career. He said Arsenal,Everton and tottehnam have a chance but I don't think these clubs will go with his ambitions. Only Man Utd is left . Jose loves the bigger stage. He loves being in the spot light and getting attention. And he will get all of that at Utd. He's a fan of Ferguson and would love to succeed him . And I believe that Jose would one day manage Utd...

  • Comment number 16.

    Q) Will the Old Firm ever play in the Premier League ?

    A) Yes

    Q) When ?

    A) When SKY TV says so

    End of subject

  • Comment number 17.

    Real might be the biggest club but we know what kind of a character Mourinho is and if he has some issues over transfers or team selections with Perez who knows he might leave. He has never said that he will manage Utd but one day he will return to the English game which he said he loves the most and only Utd can match this ambitions .

  • Comment number 18.

    To those who suggest that Mourinho wouldn't go to ManU as it would be some sort of step down I can only say that u must have almost no knowledge of modern football. If you had you would see the massive number of couches who have coached at Real in the past decade, often for only short periods and then gone on to coach elsewhere, "step down" or know. Mourinho has shown himself to be a coach that doesn't hand around to long and Real have certainly shown themselves to be a club unintrested in retaining a manager to long so its reasonable to expect he'll be looking for a job in a few years time, especially having allready stated that he sees international management as an old mans game.

    To be honest I think the critical point is his own tendancy not to stick around to long. As someone who can not remember any other manager at Old trafford and indeed only two long term incumbunts as my own club (not counting Rioch) I find it hard to imagine either club wanting to go for a manager who wouldn't off the same sort of opportunity. The stability offered by these long term managers has undoubtedly been crucial to keeping both clubs consistantly near the top every of English football every season for the past 2 decades and to possibly throw that away on a pre-madonna coach like Mourinho who might grab u a Champions League but would almost certainly leave u in the lurch seems risky. For me one of the top options is Moyes, he's young, loyal and consistant in his end of seasons places despite being surrounded by clubs with bigger budgets, cant imagine him not managin at either ManU or Arsenal one day.

  • Comment number 19.

    #18... pre-madonna (lol)

  • Comment number 20.

    Lol @ #1!

    No scotsman will ever manage England. Thre is more chance of rangers and celtic joining the EPL, leaving to join la liga and then finally setting up their own league on the moon where they play each other 36 times a season (not includeing the cups) until the moon itself goes into orbit around the sun.

  • Comment number 21.

    My two pennies worth....

    The incredible results at the weekend only make me question the role of far-eastern bookmakers and foreign owners in our game...cynical I know - but what were the odds!

    Arsene Wenger hasn't signed a keeper simply because he's snookered himself by having 3 very young back-up stoppers who he's all promised chances to and can't be seen to bring in a long-term experienced replacement for Almunia for fear they'll all spit the dummy. He's also stubbornly loyal to the Spaniard who patiently waited his turn behind Lehmann.

    Who do you blame for Liverpool's downfall? Greed, moneymen, speculators and bad management.

    Villa will scap for a finish in a Europa League slot for a business only club.

    United may suffer like Liverpool within next few years and drop down the pecking order ending up with a Hodgson type manager rather than a Mourinho! Similarily picking up Koncheskys of this world instead of Ronaldo's to answer later question, plus Fergie should have quit after Moscow win - big mistake (even later question)

    Same slow start from Everton..Moyes has problems picking up reliable strikers the same as Wenger does goalkeepers.

    Ferdinands' injuries have gifted the England armband to a deserved Gerrard longterm.

    WBA's survival helped by other teams being much worse than them down at the foot of the table and others like Newcastle and Wigan being so erratic in form it's quite unbelievable.

    England need to concentrate on building a decent team ethic and forget the days of building up 'superstars' completely - the only way forward.

    Unfortunately for the Old Firm they need the EPL more than the EPL needs them at the moment and many Championship teams wouldn't like them stepping on their toes to jump the queue to get to the pot of gold.

    Disagree with Phil - Stuart Pearce has the most 'international' experience to be next England manager.

    Selling Torres would be the straw that finally breaks the Liverbirds' back, but he's definately who City need to be real championship contenders.

    'Evans and Smalling' read 'Konchesky and Kelly'...simply adequate but not world class.

    Chelsea can easily afford the occasional slip up as everyone is dropping points.

  • Comment number 22.


    # 14 Blue madrid? really?

    mate never said its the ONLY thing left to achieve in club football, but if you were just getting out of madrid, wouldnt replacing Fergie be enticing, if not what would be? Atleast admit its certainly an option and you could do alot worse right? thats all I'm saying.

    Jose never explicitly said that, who would, but as # 15 pointed out its the only thing that makes sense in the EPL.. savvy? being a united fan TBH, I'd love jose, but then there are obvious reservations. EG: Hes always spend alot of money except for Porto, he bought expensive duds at Chelsea, Shev and Ballack, and given that he built a part of that team himself, they werent very good to watch. I know fergie has signed his fare share of no shows, but atleast the football is exciting. Inter in the home leg against Barca was an exception, they played brilliantly under jose, always willing to bomb forward esp on the flanks. jose would be great if he sticks to those principles.

    And dont over-react no one on here said its a BIGGER job than the bernabeu, may be on par, but def comparable, altogether DIFFERENT challenges.

  • Comment number 23.

    Mourinho has stated himself that he wants to return to the English game and that there is no better league than the Premier League. So it is certain he will return to England, the only question is which team. Given that he has already stated a project like Man City would not interest him (as he did it with Chelsea), Arsenal have AW who is unlikely to retire and even less likely to approve of Mourinho taking over "his" club. There are three teams I can see him going for, Tottenham (outside chance), Liverpool (not in the current situation and due to past spats again, unlikely) and Man Utd.

    When Mourinho left Inter, or rather before he left but was making it clear he was going to leave... he was talking about his love for the English game, his friendly relationship with Sir Alex and what he has done at Man Utd, how he would love to accomplish the same. Then Wesley Sneidjer comes out and says "he will managed Man Utd one day, he was always talking about them."

    My only question is can he play the Manchester United way? He's got a reputation for playing what some would describe as "defensive football" although I don't entirely agree with that assessment it will be interesting to see how he handles Real Madrid and how he gets that team to play. From the early signs it still might be a 1-0 win game for him but it's definitely more to the strengths of the Madrid players and that is an encouraging sign.

  • Comment number 24.

    Completely agree with Keano's boot.

  • Comment number 25.

    I enjoyed reading this blog Phil so good job. Have criticised you when they haven't been good so thought I'd praise you when it is.

    I'd have to agree with you about AW and the goalkeeper situation. I don't understand why he hasn't tried the two under 21 internationals he has as backup. He might be close to losing the Polish one on Bosman as his contract is up at the end of the season and hasn't signed a new one yet. From what he did at Brentford maybe it's time to test him out now.

    I also agree with you about the 'Old Firm' coming to the Premier League. I they want to start from the very bottom then OK but not if they want to come in at the top.

  • Comment number 26.

    Would have been nice to read about some comments on subjects besides Man U and Liverpool. Not one single question about Blackpool, Birmingham, Bolton, Fulham, Stoke, Sunderland, Spurs, West Ham, Wigan or Wolves - that's half the premier league! But no, 5 questions answered about Man U and 3 about Liverpool.

  • Comment number 27.

    I cannot agree with those who argue that a manager of any nationality should be eligable for the England job. Much of the attraction of international football for me is its difference from the domestic game. This has become ever more cosmopolitan, and more power to it, I say (notwithstanding the adverse effect on the national side that the influx of foreigners is purported to be causing). All the more reason for the national side to be entirely NATIONAL - including the manager, who is surely an integral part of the 'team', in the proper sense of the word. Too bad if there isn't any Englishman good enough - our system will have learn how to nurture managers who ARE good enough, instead of trying to temporarily buy success by throwing obscene amounts of money at foreign mercenaries. How is that supposed to develop the game, and build for the future? If this means that we have to suffer the humiliation of becoming a third-world football nation, then so be it. Better that than to achieve hollow success as a nation, with the use of foreign assistance. It is a laughable state of affairs that a once great footballing nation like ours is reduced to such soul-selling measures.

  • Comment number 28.

    To michaelsyates...been checking out the groundshare with both Everton and Liverpool. The blog is on the way.

    To George Thomson...I think David Moyes has done an excellent job at Everton, but not sure someone as very Scottish as him would take the England job!

    And to those questioning how Mourinho would play if he took over Manchester United, I think he is too good a coach to simply have one style. He would tailor his style to suit the players.

    Real Madrid may play less exciting football (in the eyes of some) football under Mourinho, but there is every chance they will be more successful. I think most fans would take that.

  • Comment number 29.

    @10 What makes you feel United is a step down. I dont subscribe to Jose but to say United is a step down you are surely a joker. Do you remember a certain Carlos Quieroz, a number 2 at United. And when you mention Iberian hope you are not talking Portugal as well.
    The Spanish league = Scottish league + much more money.

  • Comment number 30.

    Phil, as others have said, this type of thing is better than your usual blogs. Sorry, but that's the way a number of us see it. I would prefer this sort of thing every Monday morning as well, as sort of 'How was the weekend's action for you?' type thing.

    Anyway, just to pick up on a number of points:-

    1)Arsenal's goalkeeper - I agree that Arsenal's goalkeeper is not the best. However, as you rightly say, Wenger has tried to sign someone but failed. Top goalkeepers do not grow on trees and all goalkeepers make errors. However, to say that the profits are there is not quite right. The current profits are, I understand, largely as a result of the redevelopment of Highbury and they are being used to pay off the debt. Now, you could take the opinion that Arsenal should 'borrow' to buy a new goalkeeper but that is not a judgement shared by the economist and football manager that is Wenger. For him, he see's that a large investment such as this would not give the financial and footballing rewards. I think you have to trust his judgement on that even though it ultimately does not give rise to the results that Arsenal fans want. But who are we, non-Arsenal fans, to say what they want?

    2) Everton - maybe Moyes is trying something different, shuffling his pack as it were, because he just doesn't know what else he can do to squeeze more out of this squad. If Everton don't have the money to improve the overall quality of the squad, then he must just gamble with what he has. It is a gamble that has not paid off but if what he has can only be used in a certain way, perhaps he has taken the club as far as it can go.

    3) Roy Hodgson - I think what has happened with Liverpool's start to the season is perhaps the natural continuation of what happened last season and, to my mind, is Benitez's legacy. Too many average players will surely only get you a mid-table finish?

    4) Mourinho at Man U - is he really the natural successor? Mourinho has not, as such, built a team anywhere, rather just fixed one. He has not stayed anywhere long enough to develop and promote youth. These will be key to Man U and what appears to be their ever tightening budget. This may change when the new regulations come in but, and perhaps it seems churlish to say this, I reckon Mourinho still has to develop as a club manager rather than just a coach before he can do the job that may need doing at Man U when the time comes.

    5) Blackburn - style and Blackburn do not sit well together is the perception but I wonder if that is the reality. We are all quick to jump on lazy bandwagons but if you actually went into the stats (possession, forward passes, length of passes, area from where goals scored etc etc) I wonder if Blackburn would fare that poorly compared to other top division teams and whether we just see the bruiser that is Allardyce and we just conclude that the team must be in his image?

    6) Steven Gerrard, England Captain - the main question here is whether he will exert authority and stand tall if similarly senior players return to the squad/team? He may be comfortable being the 'big man' to Theo Walcott, for example, but would his contribution be the same with Ferdinand, Terry and Lampard about the place?

    7) Chelsea - they could still be considered a work in progress under Ancelotti as he is getting 'his' squad together as he has only been there a year. Given where they are at this time under his managership, I currently have no qualms whatsoever that he is doing a fine job for today and tomorrow.

  • Comment number 31.

    #10 BrianTopp.

    Why would Mourinho take the massive step down to manage Man Utd.
    Well it may not be them, but he has stated, very clearly, and in his own words, that he loves English Football, and the premiership, and wants to go back and manage there one day.

    Can't see a return to Chelski, or going to the rival london club Arsenal.
    LFC are not the club they once were, the owners wrangling, debt stories, NO CL football, and current poor position, make them a fairly unattractive proposition right now.
    That really only leaves Man U, or City. Loads of recent history, or loads of current money? Which would he choose?

    And i'm not a fan of any of the english clubs.

    LFC

  • Comment number 32.

    Mourinho at Man u, Mourinho at Man u...blah blah blah

    I suggest we begin discussing "How would Portugal fare with Mourinho as the national team coach?" It is just as likely if not more likely to happen

  • Comment number 33.

    I like football.

  • Comment number 34.

    @22 Shevchenko was forced on Mourinho by Abramovich, it is rumoured Ballack was too. Ballack wasn't an expensive flop anyway, his wages may have been high until he took a pay-cut, but he's been a great servant of the club and came on a free transfer.

    Steven Gerrard may be looking like a goodish captain SINCE the World Cup, but this seems to be ignoring the fact that he was captain DURING the World Cup too.

  • Comment number 35.

    The Spanish league = Scottish league + much more money

    #######################################################

    Really?? Blackpool, newly promoted and offering wages far in excess of levante, get humped by Chelsea in second gear. Levante on the toher hadn hold real, whilst hercules beat barca at the nou camp!

    The denial about the strength of la liga is incredible. Just wait and see Valencia (£400m in debt due to the recession) vs manu tonight......You will see just how strong la liga is!

  • Comment number 36.

    Regarding the question about Arsenal and their goalkeeper, there was a fair amount of ambivalence in the case of the potential signing of Shay Given in the summer: he wasn't available then, now he is, apparently, and will move from Manchester City in January if Mancini receives an acceptable offer for him (and if he's still only second choice keeper at the club, presumably). Maybe bringing in a player of as comparatively advanced years as Mark Schwarzer, if he had been available, wouldn't have been the answer, as the club would have had to renew its search for another player a year or two later.

    Regarding Mourinho and Manchester United: you suspect that he'd love the challenge, albeit that the only way is likely to be down, post-Ferguson and I suspect that the main issue will be timing: will Mourinho have had enough at Real when the Manchester United post becomes available.

    Serious Football

  • Comment number 37.

    #36 Raging Bull

    I think with a goal keeper, age is much less important. For example, Man U signed VDS when he was 34 and he has been a fantastic signing for them and is still playing well now at the age of almost 40 (next month)!. Shwarzer is 37 and Almunia is 33. The nutcase that was Jens Lehman was 33 when he was signed.

    I don't think Wenger is worried by age but, as usual, money.

  • Comment number 38.

    35. At 1:18pm on 29 Sep 2010,
    weezer316 wrote:
    The Spanish league = Scottish league
    + much more money
    #######################################################
    Really?? Blackpool, newly promoted
    and offering wages far in excess of
    levante, get humped by Chelsea in
    second gear. Levante on the toher
    hadn hold real, whilst hercules beat
    barca at the nou camp!
    The denial about the strength of la
    liga is incredible. Just wait and see
    Valencia (£400m in debt due to the
    recession) vs manu tonight......You
    will see just how strong la liga is!


    Well you didnt get my drift, Barca and Madrid duopolise d la liga. Do you think if Celtic and Rangers have so much money they wont get better players and compete more in d CL. And i remember WBA winning Arsenal recently. And before anybody talks about foreigners making d EPL good, Di Stefano and co werent Spaniards and enough of the present Madrid squad aint Spanish.

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm really surprised that so many people think Man u is a bigger club, or even on par with Real. Why do you think all the real stars go to barca or madrid - do you think ronaldo thought he wasn't good enough for the big time at united so took a step out of the limelight at real, do you think zidane, ronaldhinho, ronaldo 1, villa, kaka (the biggest players of the last ten years - who all had clear choices between england and spain) all thought the epl was just one step too high for them??

    English football fans are kidding themselves if they think that anybody else believes that the premierleague is the biggest league in the world. I have lived in portugal and spain (and greece and italy) and I know for a fact that people from these countries would definitely place the spanish league much much higher than epl.

    But by all means, don't let the actual evidence dissuade any of you - man u (cough cough) are the biggest side in the world!!!! All the top players alawys choose to go there...

  • Comment number 40.

    Phil - 'Spot on' with your comments on Mourhino, I'll bet the Glazers have already 'lined/signed' him up already, for when SAF packs it in - the only condition maybe, is how successful he is at Madrid?
    Jose will need to win the CL in the next 1 or 2 years, with Real, because SAF has said he "won't be doing the job" when he is 70 and he's 68 now!
    The 'Theatre of Dreams' beckon's 'the special one'!

  • Comment number 41.

    Re: Mourinho: We are all 90% certain that Jose will come to OT. Not just because of his previous overtures about the PL bit because UTD would be stupid not to get him. Having said that, about a year ago i spoke directly with one of the directors of UTD and his exact words were "It will never happen". How much influence this person has over the money men at OT is questionable but it certainly offers food for thought.

  • Comment number 42.

    oh and 18 - Pre-madonna!!! OMG

    PRIMA DONNA!!! lol

    "16" - The question of the OLD FIRM joining the PL is a joke and here is why: Notwithstanding the obvious protests from the Football League it would also spell the end of the Champion's League and PL clubs would never risk that.

    If Rangers and Celtic were to join the PL it would create a precedent in Europe and before we know it Ajax and PSV would be in the Bundesliga, Porto and Benfica in La Liga. Marseilles and Monaco in Serie A then lo and behold UEFA would say "STOP!!! Lets have a European League instead - 20 teams from all around Europe all put in one league together". And hey presto - BANG goes to Champion;s League. Enough said.

  • Comment number 43.

    And for any of you gamblers out there, how about taking a punt on this:

    Its 1990 and Liverpool have just won their 18th league title. United are NOWHERE NEAR their potential and are 11 titles behind them. Yet in 2009 United equal 18 titles and are favourites to get to 19 first. NOBODY WOULDVE BET ON THAT.

    So..... here we are in 2010. United are on 3 European Cups. Real Madrid are on 9. Both have great squads, great managers and both are near the top of their game.

    Here is the bet: Utd will get to 10 European cups before Real. Any takers???

  • Comment number 44.

    Oh and before you all think im a biased UTD fan. I believe Gerrard is the best man for the England Captaincy.

  • Comment number 45.

    39. At 2:13pm on 29 Sep 2010,
    BrianTopp wrote:
    The spanish game for a long time have had foreign manager and you know if you are to manage a team you will be comfortable with ppl that speak your language. Thats why there are more foreign players in Spain. Look at Arsenal and you see the logic. When Benitez was at Liverpool, more spanish guys were there unlike before. I can mention more. Or dont you think if Scolari was still at Chelsea there will be more Brazilian? Having Brazilians and Argentines more in Spain does not point to being the best. If so the trio of Lebron James, Wade and Bosh would have gone to LA instead of Miami.

  • Comment number 46.

  • Comment number 47.

    People can keep on claiming that the prem isn't the biggest league in the world but the fact is it brings in the largest amount of money both at home and in the foreign markets as well as having the second highest attendance to Germany in Europe (and that only because they only charge a pittance for entrance to stadiums partially funded by the government). Unless your basis for being the biggest league in the world is about having the two clubs with the largest revenue in the world (and this only because ManU as part of the prem shares most of its TV revenue rather than taking it all as the Spanish clubs do) then the premier league is certainly the biggest, most watched league in the world.

  • Comment number 48.

    5. At 11:02pm on 28 Sep 2010, Ahad Shaukat wrote:

    There is only one Englishman who can manage England and that is Harry Redknapp. Not only has he been successful in his career as a manager as compared to other candidates but he knows how do handle big players and how to keep the level of spirit high in the dressing room.


    Here is his "success":

    Bournemouth

    * Football League Division Three: 1986–87
    * Football League Trophy: 1983–84

    West Ham United

    * UEFA Intertoto Cup: 1999

    Portsmouth F.C.

    First Spell

    * Football League Division One: 2002–03

    Second Spell

    * FA Cup: 2007-08
    * Barclays Asia Trophy Winner 2007
    * Community Shield Runners up 2008

    Tottenham Hotspur

    * Barclays Asia Trophy Winner 2009

  • Comment number 49.

    Good blog, addresing a lot of questions in detail.

    A couple of questions spring to mind after reading the comments:

    1) If Rangers and Celtic join the English league system (at whatever level), what happens to the rest of the SPL? Does the winner still qualify for the Champions' League? It seems very unfair not to let them, but unfair on other teams if they are allowed in, given they would only be there due to the Old Firm's absence. I'm not even going to mention the quality of the teams that would be in the CL in place of Rangers and Celtic...

    2) Is Mourinho really the right man for United? And has he even expressed a formal interest?
    He seems to be a very different manager to Ferguson, and impatient with players who don't instantly adapt to his formations and tactics. Would Nani and Berbatov (the standout performers this season) have survived two mediocre seasons under Mourinho? No, he would have expected more. Then again, he does have a history of getting the best from his players so maybe they would have stepped up to the plate quicker than they have. Impossible to say, but I would have misgivings about Mou if I were a United fan, great coach that he is. Apart from anything else, his ridiculous good luck in the big games has to run out at some point.

  • Comment number 50.

    :) "Barclays Asia Trophy". Wossat then?

    O'Neill for United, although he's likely to be over 60 by the time Fergie retires - probably too old by then?

    Honestly, if Guus Hiddink were available, I'd have him for England after Capello - a proven international manager, speaks the lingo. Or Wenger. Otherwise, if it has to be English/British, it must be one with experience of top-level European (club or international) football.

    Harry is a possibility, but he's done nowt impressive in Europe yet. His dismissive approach before the Basel game was typically English ignorance of continental sides who aren't a 'name'.

    Not many other candidates out there, O'Neill aside...

  • Comment number 51.

    Thank you Phil for answering my question. nice blog
    Completely agree with you.
    Liverpool definitely need definitely owner and money to sign world class players. Lets see when will problem of ownership of Liverpool solve.

  • Comment number 52.

    Ooh, I meant Young Boys of Bern - not that anyone's reading this blog now

  • Comment number 53.

    #48

    I didnt mean to say that Harry is a successful manager . What i meant is that he is successful if you compare him to other prospective England managers. Guys like Steve Bruce,Mark hughes, Allardyce etc.

    And you posted all the honours of Redknapp as a manager . I can post all of Capello's honours . He is probably the most successful in the current era, but what did he do as an England manager? A complete failure. So why not give Redknapp a chance ...

 

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