Football Round-Up (EPL Week 13)

No real LOI news to talk about, save for the continuing back and forth of transfers and the like. Limerick continue to look for a new manager, with a lot of varying names bandied about, but it seems no decision will be made about that position for several weeks yet.

So, to England then. United bounced back from a very disappointing defeat away to Norwich with yet another come from behind victory against Queens Park Rangers. I feel like I am repeating myself every time I comment on a Manchester United game, as the defence was iffy and the attack only clicked into gear in the last half hour. QPR’s squad might have been playing up in order to trey and impress the new manager watching in the stands, but fell apart in the final 30, giving away two sloppy set-piece goals and falling asleep to the third.

Yes, Manchester United have the innate ability to come good when it really matters, and could have actually scored more, but this leaking at the back is incredibly concerning. Expect that area to be patched in the January sales, unless Vidic returns at better form in the next while. The performance of Young was also concerning, with the winger not in a rich vein of form by any stretch of the imagination. With Nani not exactly lighting the world on fire either, and Giggs struggling, various parts of the midfield are barely holding together. That City game draws ever closer.

Elsewhere, it all went United’s way more or less. After following his own formbook and sacking Roberto Di Matteo, Abrahmovich had the pleasure of watching a dour 0-0 draw play out under Benitez, with City failing to find any sort of spark to get things going. I’m not at all convinced that Benitez can do a better job than De Matteo was doing, and that opinion wasn’t changed by the sheer impotence on display in Stamford Bridge. Facing an early exit from the Champions League and stuttering just a little in the league, Chelsea have to get those pistons firing again.

On RDM, it is just a fact of life that managers are given no time anymore. It isn’t a problem relegated solely to football, but it is a concern that a lack of good results immediately, even in the aftermath of the greatest success possible in the club game, is enough to see a good manager sacked. Look at the rumours surrounding Roberto Mancini, lined up for the chop even though Manchester City are near the top of the table, and you get an idea of the problem.

Managers and their staff need more than two years (or less) to get things on track. That it is the richest clubs in the league who are going through managers like hot cakes will not have escaped anyone’s notice of course, and the merry-go-round of club coaching could well be connected to the insane amount of capital being pumped into these clubs, with immediate returns demanded – with such returns measured on an absurdly high scale.

Arsenal might have maintain their impressive streak of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League nine years in a row, but in the league it just isn’t happening as they would expect. Held by the dire Aston Villa, with the new summer signings completely unable to fill the void left by RVP’s departure.

With Suarez shut out and Gerrard playing as bad as anyone will ever have seen him, Liverpool dropped points yet again, this time failing to get a win against impressive Swansea, who continue to punch above their expected weight. Spurs had a handy win against West Ham to maintain their placing, while West Brom, with the help of Shane Long, are enjoying the dizzying heights of third. I doubt WBA will stay in that position for long – the overall quality of the squad just doesn’t have the legs for it – but certainly something in the top eight would be very achievable. Long should also be an Ireland starter, and any suggestion otherwise is absolute nonsense.

Lastly, on a sad note, I offer condolences to the family and friends of Dave Sexton, manager of Manchester United from 1977 to 1981, who passed away the other day. While Sexton had a difficult time at United, he was still a liked and respected personality in the English game. Sadly missed.

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