After a spell being highly regarded by the European elites as push-overs, and looking like , English clubs suddenly look like genuine forces again in Europe. There were no shortage of talking points last week, conjuring up questions that urgently required attention. For example, is it right that Tory MP Douglas Ross skipped the Universal credit debate in order to run the line at Barcelona in the Champions League? You tell me. Do you agree with Jurgen Klopp’s self-portrayal to a Slovenian journalist that he’s a “charismatic, funny loser”? Nein, he is Jurgen Klopp.
Let’s kick things off where I finished last week’s column, Liverpool vs Manchester United. I predicted another sordid ninety minutes of football with the same conclusion as last season. With an estimated audience of around 900 million across the world, it proved to once again provide the same outcome. Shocking. There was a truly world-class save to speak of mind, courtesy of David De Gea to keep out Joel Matip. To be fair, it is mandatory for Sky Sports to wildly promote the so-called biggest derby in England. It may be the biggest but the best it is not. It was for this reason I had such hopes for Super Sunday’s clash at Southampton versus Newcastle on the stunning St. Mary’s pitch. Much like the turf it was played on, we were treated to a stunning game of football with a couple of goals each.
It’s no secret that showings in the Champions League by English clubs for the last few years have been absolutely awful. It led to pundits all scratching their heads as to why? And it was unanimously agreed that our winter schedule was the issue. Now, with absolutely nothing changed in that respect, the English clubs are now making a mockery of the competition and sticking their middle finger up to UEFA. All the Premier League’s representatives are currently either placed in first, or second place in their groups.
Tuesday night saw Liverpool hand out a pasting to Maribor in Sweden, netting just the seven goals. At the Santiago Bernabeu, Hugo Lloris did his best send Spurs back to London with a shock three points, only to succumb to a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. An own goal from Raphael Varane had given Spurs fans hope, meaning their highest profile results in the Champions League are now two draws against Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
In Manchester, City saw off Italian’s Napoli 2-1, effectively getting the job done within half an hour. Just want to say I love Napoli’s slick, passing football where even passing back to their keeper makes for pleasant viewing because if you support them, your heart would be racing. Though the highlight of the match was surely at half-time, when Kevin De Bruyne was hysterically screaming “LET ME TALK” while arguing with teammate David Silva.
The next night saw Chelsea and Man United in action. Both Chelsea and Roma shared three goals between them, including two beauties from David Luiz and Edin Dzeko. Jose Mourinho’s tactics from Anfield and Benfica were in great disparity, which mitigated their attacking intent. Rash
“Craig, Craig, where art thou Craig?” I can only apologise. Leicester City’s ever-increasing ruthless owners saw fit to dismiss Craig Shakespeare following the 1-1 draw with West Brom on Monday night. It seems failing to defeat the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City was enough to seal Craig’s fate, four months after taking charge.
Why would anybody want to become a football manager?