I, like a lot of people, have a lot of respect for Pat Nevin. He’s a guy who knows his football and doesn’t get too caught up in the modern-day drama or hamster wheel of everything either being a disaster or the greatest moment in footballing history.
You could say Nevin is pretty balanced in his footballing narrative.
So when he says that Chelsea’s squad is now the envy of every other Premier League side, you have to take note. Granted, in this statement, it is more what he hasn’t said that is important – by saying that it is now the envy of everyone else, it is not too great a leap to presume that he means ‘now they are being coached properly’ – and who can disagree?
I, like a lot of people, fell into the trap of loving the idea of Frank Lampard’s Chelsea being managed by none other than Frank Lampard – the kids getting a chance, Chelsea finally putting yoof before big-name transfers. The sad reality is, that Lamps wasn’t ready by all accounts and now the club has someone who does know what they are doing the difference is there to see and, suddenly, all those expensive attacking parts seem to be fitting together.
Not that any of this is pleasing Christian Pulisic any more than yesterday – he is still being linked to a move away from the club which has led to various media outlets sticking a few replacement names into a hat and seeing which one they pull out. Kingsley Coman of Bayern Munich, if you were wondering.
Joao Cancelo thinks differently, however – he rates Pulisic as the toughest Premier League player he has come across in his time at City which, frankly, is just a little bizarre.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka said his was Neymar – we have to assume AWB was allowed to mention Champions League players as well. Either that, or someone’s been winding him up that he was marking the Brazilian when United played Sheffield United.
Staying with Manchester United, they played out a 1-1 draw with AC Milan that really could have been 4-1 to Milan or 1-0 to United. Amad scored his first-ever Old Trafford goal in front of an empty Stretford End, doing more in four minutes than Anthony Martial has managed all season. United just had to hang on for another 35 seconds but their consistent inability to defend set-pieces came back and bit them on the nose as Milan levelled. That said, Milan deserved something after Franck Kessie’s wonder-volley was disallowed because VAR felt the ball was in the same post-code as his arm.
New football director John Murtough might have been watching, might have been wondering whether a move to Miami at this time of year would have been better weather-wise or pondering a move for Brighton’s Ben White.
Mikel Arteta is under some kind of false illusion that his project is about to ‘bang’ any moment now. I’ve been there, Mikel. You spend ages building the fireworks display, you’ve put so much love, time and money into it that it is going to be the greatest fireworks display ever. You invite all your friends around to watch it. You publically talk it up. And then, when it comes down to it, it just kinda fizzles out without ever really catching light and people start drifting off wondering what all the build-up was about. That folks, that is Arsenal over the next 18 months.
No, a 3-1 away in Greece in the Europa League isn’t going to make me review that claim, move on.
Manchester City’s record goal-getter, Sergio Aguero, is waiting until the end-of-the-season to decide whether he wants to stay at City or not – which is a curious road to go down considering that Peppy G has been quite open in the fact that he hasn’t decided whether he wants Sergio Aguero at Manchester City next season or not. Either way, Barcelona are interested – having realised they got rid of one ageing South American striker too soon in Luis Suarez, they would like to replace him with an equally ageing South American striker a season too late.
Liverpool must sign Leeds’ Raphinha according to Steve McManaman – to be fair, having listened to Macca’s analysis over and over myself, it’s unlikely Liverpool will listen.
Mauricio Pochettino’s ever-loyal sidekick Jesus Perez claimed that the Poch will return to Spurs one day given their combined love for the club. That smacks of someone who knows the average tenure at PSG is about 18 months.
Tottenham (Harry Kane) stuck two past Dinamo Zagreb to take control of their Europa League tie – Kane ending the match with an ice-pack on his leg that was, apparently, merely a precaution. As if it wasn’t cold enough in London last night.
West Ham United are looking to make Craig Dawson’s loan move from Watford permanent as soon as possible because they are not idiots. Hang on, let me reword that – because even they cannot be that stupid.