Hang on a minute. Before we really get into the Premier League action from the weekend, I have a question.
Exactly how much did Sky’s decision to choose Burnley’s trip to Cardiff have anything to do with the fact that there might have been a thrilling finish to the Ryder Cup at around the same time?
Call me a cynic, but that is not exactly the kind of ‘Super Sunday’ your average Sky subscriber is paying their hard earned to see.
Anyway, we digress before we even get going.
Actually, I have another question. How much of a plea to be sacked was Jose Mourinho’s team selection at the Athletics Stadium?
Now, I am no Premier League manager (mind you, Jose might not be for much longer either) but even I know that picking Scott McTominay as the right-sided central defender is probably not going to end well, regardless if the lad has a ‘special character’ or otherwise. There’s at least more than one thing going on here. Firstly, Mourinho is showing that he couldn’t really care less about McTominay by putting him in a ridiculous position (and I don’t mean on the right of a back three). Secondly, if you dislike Eric Bailly that much don’t ruin the reputation of another player to prove your point. And thirdly, the whole world knows you wanted another centre-back in the summer, so you don’t need to keep reminding us by picking the likes of McTominay and, earlier in the season, Ander Herrera there.
Jose, who loves reminding us of statistics and facts remember, has now presided over Manchester United’s worst start to a Premier League season, ever. Better still, they’ve only played Burnley, Brighton, Leicester, Watford, West Ham, Wolves and one actual Champions League place contender, Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst we are on that theme, let’s go here: Between 2007 and 2013 United won five titles and lost the other two by a mere single point combined. Since then? Ahem, well as you asked. 22, 17, 15, 27, 29 and goodness knows how many points off top spot this season, respectively.
It’s not as if Mou had had a great week leading up to the West Ham game. Oh, no. Last week he drew at home to newly promoted Wolves. Then he decided to sack Paul Pogba from being a ‘second captain’ because the Frenchman had the temerity to suggest United should be a little more attacking at Old Trafford. Come Tuesday night, United were dumped out of the League Cup (a minority competition according to Jose, who didn’t say that when making it clear he won it two seasons ago) on penalties to a Derby County side managed by a novice in Frank Lampard. Then there was the staged bust-up with Pogba that went viral on Thursday. And of course, this. This rotten, stinking, nobody could care less performance at West Ham.
It is worth pointing out that this is one hell of a bit of man-management when it comes to Paul Pogba. Over the summer there was a player finally reaching the peak of his playing powers, full of confidence and ready to return to the club and dominate the Premier League. Mourinho has managed to kill that, stamp it out like a little fire in fact, in less than three months. Look down at your former club, Jose. That Sarri fella seems to be getting the best out of Eden Hazard, eh?
In the inevitable post-match press conference, the United press officer only allowed Jose to answer three questions but that was enough time to get a full house in the game of ‘Who will Jose blame this week, folks?’ bingo. The linesman was at fault for the first goal, and my association so was the referee and the Premier League for not having VAR.
The worst thing about all this? OK, maybe not the actual worst thing but certainly something that I need to rectify right here. In all of this, nobody has actually praised West Ham for being pretty damn good no matter how bad United were. There’s a reason that the United back-line looked weak. Felipe Anderson, Marko Arnautovic and Andriy Yarmolenko were superb and caused no end of problems. Even Mark Noble looked like a world beater alongside Declan Rice. It’s amazing how quickly West Ham look like a decent side since Jack Wilshere got injured.
Believe it or not, some other football was played on Saturday and we had Chelsea versus Liverpool as the real heavyweight clash.
Sadly though, especially from my point-of-view as someone that likes to point out the slightly more satirical view on football, the game passed without very little incident and two managers embracing at the end agreeing what a good game it had been. Where’s the drama in that?
Chelsea had led through another Eden Hazard goal and it took an absolute worldy from Daniel ‘I’m quite good if I can stay fit for a month’ Sturridge to get Liverpool a late equaliser. Who needs Mo Salah to bang in another 40 this season if Studge is doing that kind of crazy thing?
Whisper it quietly, but that’s seven league wins in a row for the Arsenal. And, and this bit is quite extraordinary, they are grinding wins out. Yes, actually grinding them out. They left it late to see off Watford but the two late goals grabbed another three points. More startlingly, Mesut Ozil is becoming super effective.
I don’t know what would have had Manchester City’s match with Brighton more interesting but it certainly would have been more than a run-rate, save-your-energy-for-the-Champions-League-lads 2-0 win. Aguero scored another one.
Harry Kane got a double against Huddersfield Town (of course he did, after I decided not to bring him back into my Fantasy Football team instead choosing to keep faith in Romelu Lukaku) as the Terriers looked to do their own version of Harry Kane’s previous aversion to scoring in August. David Wagner’s men have now gone five home matches without scoring and I am presuming that takes up the whole of September.
Everton needed a win otherwise the natives might have got misty-eyed with some Big Sham nostalgia, harking back to the glory days when they were allegedly hard to beat when he was around. And, they delivered. Fulham need to wise up quickly if they want to avoid a relegation dogfight and getting done 3-0 at Goodison isn’t good for morale.
Wolves will not be in a relegation dogfight and they demonstrated this with two late goals to see off Southampton who are becoming very Mark Hughes very quickly.
Peter Kenyon, formerly good at running football clubs at United and Chelsea, has supposedly met Mike Ashley, not good at running football clubs at all, and offered to take Newcastle United off his hands. We don’t know Ashley’s thoughts on this as he was too busy laughing at the Newcastle fans who were politely asking him to leave St James’ Park on Saturday as he watched his team go down 2-0 at home to Leicester. Walk away, Rafa. You don’t need a second relegation on your CV and if you go now people will still blame Mike Ashley. Leave it too long and people might start to question your tactics and all that.
Here’s a random thing to leave you with today. Cardiff had more possession than Burnley in Sunday’s match. I didn’t think that was even possible. They still lost, obviously, but still.