January 21, 2014

Sir Alex should stay in the back room

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

It’s foolish to think that a team that preaches stability like Manchester United would sack new manager David Moyes just half a season into his reign, but you can’t help but hear the chants of “Moyes out” coming from almost every Red Devils fan you know.

After this weekend’s loss to Chelsea in which they were dominated through and through, it’s hard to even point out what needs the most attention.

Sure, United was missing Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Rio Ferdinand and disappointing summer signing Maraoune Fellaini, but this is supposed to be a world-class side capable of dealing with injuries.

Maybe the real problem is Sir Alex Ferguson.

It seems that every time the old boss is in attendance, his former squad falters. Could it be the fact that he’s looking over Moyes’ shoulder that both the team and the new manager are suffering? By now there’s too much evidence to really call it a coincidence.

Maybe it’s time for Sir Alex to really take a step away and take that little bit of extra pressure off United. Stay in the backroom and work on bringing some sorely needed talent, depth and youth to a squad aging before our eyes.

AND ABOUT THAT DEFENCE…

Many pundits have come out and said that Nemanja Vidic should have been given the yellow card and Rafael the red for their brutal tackles in injury time at Stamford Bridge, which I can’t say I agree with. They both deserved red cards and Rafael got off easy.

Vidic’s scissor takedown on Eden Hazard wasn’t even close to the ball and was a dangerous play that was completely unnecessary.

Rafael’s two-footed challenge on Gary Cahill was another dangerous play that didn’t need to happen. He was trying to win the ball back deep in Chelsea’s end, but you can never go in with two feet. A split-second late and Cahill would have had to have been stretchered off.

It was obvious that United’s top two defenders were frustrated after being run roughshod by the Blues attack, but that’s no excuse for being reckless.

CONTROVERSY IN THE MIDLANDS

Oh, you thought this Nicolas Anelka “la quenelle” controversy was just going to fade away? You were very wrong.

Zoopla, West Bromwich Albion’s shirt sponsor has said it will be severing ties with the team after the Anelka made the salute which is associated with anti-Semitism.  It turns out that one of the company’s owners is Jewish, which makes the move somewhat predictable – although I’m sure that many companies would have done the same, regardless of religious views.

West Brom isn’t making things easy on itself either, by still selecting Anelka every week.

The right thing to do would be to keep him out of the lineup until the investigation about the incident is complete – which could net Anelka a five-game ban.

And if you didn’t think that Anelka’s little goal celebration gesture didn’t bring to the global forefront, here’s a quick fact for you: La Quenelle didn’t even have a Wikipedia page before Anelka made the gesture less than a month ago.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

It seems that the title race is really down to the three teams: Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea. I wouldn’t bet on anybody else sneaking into that top group which seems to be adding distance on the pack. All three teams won again this weekend, solidifying their spots up top … Fulham have never won at Arsenal. How could this London rivalry be so one-sided? I didn’t believe it when I read it, but the fact is that over 110 years, Fulham is 0-21-5 visiting the Gunners. Unbelievable … Remember when there was a debate over who was better, Roberto Soldado or Alvaro Negredo? Well, Soldado is now sitting behind Emmanuel Adebayor – who has been great since Tim Sherwood took over – while Negredo looks world-class despite being subbed off for Sergio Aguero this week … Samuel Eto’o’s hat trick against United was just the fourth the Red Devils have allowed in the Premier League era. It was also the first since David Bentley scored in early 2007 … While you can criticize Luis Suarez for going down a bit too easily to get a penalty against Aston Villa, the fact is that keeper Brad Guzan gave him the option. You can’t dive at a player’s feet and not expect them to hit the turf … What was Suarez doing on that free kick from half? I know he was trying to catch Guzan sleeping, but he wasn’t far enough off his line, the shot wasn’t weighted properly and it really had no chance of working. That kick ruined an otherwise good build up … The relegation battle could be something special this year. The tenth-place team Villa is at 24 points, which is just six above the three teams propping up the table at 18. Should make for an interesting spring.

THE LAST WORD

Something’s not right in the south. The lone team in Southern England, Southampton, are dropping in the table and have lost their executive chairman, Nicola Cortese. And that might not be the end of it. Rumours are the team may look at selling players and have also lost defence rock Dejan Lovren. What started out as such a great story of a team that built its way up from the bottom has turned into a three-ring circus. Here’s hoping the Saints hold onto their young talent and can right the ship, stabilizing for not just this season, but the next few as well.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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