Thursday, 27 February 2014

Manchester United will not sack David Moyes

It was a bad result against Olympiakos. It was a poor performance.

But Manchester United will not rush to sack David Moyes.

They will give him time to develop his own team and make it successful. It's what they did with Alex Ferguson, and they will do so again.

There's no denying that Manchester United's season has been disappointing. When you've won everything and you're used to winning trophy after trophy for season after season, of course it's disappointing to suddenly find yourselves out of League Cup, FA Cup, sixth in the League, likely to be knocked out of the Champions League, and with little hope of qualifying for it for next season.

Of course, most clubs would dream of being sixth in the League, having reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, and still be in the last 16 round of the Champions League, but Manchester United are not most clubs.

Most clubs would be itching to sack their manager in such a "failure" of a season. But Manchester United are not most clubs.

For many years, at least, Manchester United will not sack David Moyes.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Manchester City and Arsenal head for the exit

Two of England's Champions League hopefuls have been ruthlessly exposed by the best in Europe in the last couple of days.

The pattern of both games was remarkably similar, with both Manchester City and Arsenal having a player sent off and losing their games 2-0.

Those who claim that Barcelona have a weaker team than for several years may be right, but it was still far too good for the team some claim is the best in England, Manchester City. Barcelona dominated possession (68%-32%) and goals from Messi and Dani Alves in the last minute surely made the tie secure for the Catalans. City's usual attacking flair was never allowed to come to the fore and they looked impotent in the face of Barcelona's superiority.

On to Wednesday night and the pattern was pretty well repeated as Bayern Munich weathered an early storm from Arsenal. Mesut Ozil unforgivably missed a penalty, as did David Alaba of Bayern, but the latter award also resulted in the dismissal of Arsenal goalkeeper Wojchiech Szczesny, which effectively ended the match as a contest. Bayern eventually scored two goals and possession of 79%. They might have had more goals, but the tie is surely over (even with the memory of Arsenal's 2-0 win in Munich last year).

So, two of England's finest are on their way out of the competition. Maybe they're paying the price for not winning their groups.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Chelsea must be favourites

The last couple of weeks have seen a bit of shuffling at the top of the Barclays Premier League, with Chelsea's card popping up at the top of the pack.

We can ignore all Jose Mourinho's nonsense about Chelsea being a "little horse". They are a big club backed by Abramovich's billions and no silly words from Mourinho can disguise that. Chelsea's performance to beat Manchester City at the beginning of last week was excellent and some recent displays by Eden Hazard show him to be a world-class player (and I never use that term lightly).

I make Chelsea favourites for the title.

Manchester City have shown vulnerability recently, with the defeat to Chelsea and a tame 0-0 draw at Norwich City, and, despite some obviously exciting wins, to me they don't seem to have the team resilience that Chelsea possess.

Arsenal have faltered - as I think most people expected them to do - and they are not yet strong enough to win the title. But I wish Arsene Wenger well - he's still one of the best managers there is.

Liverpool remain an outside bet. They are only four points behind leaders Chelsea, and in Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge they have genuine goalscorers. But I don't see them as quite the finished article yet.

As for the rest - Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Manchester United - they will fight to get into the top four, but I don't think any of them will make it. They may not be keen to land up in the Europa League. So, how do you fight for fourth, but ensure you don't finish fifth?