Whisper it quietly, but have Manchester United actually made a good decision? No, no – not sacking Ole. That’s last week’s news (but was a good decision). I’m talking about bringing in Ralf Rangnick for the rest of the season and then to stick around for a couple of years, turning Old Trafford back into a home for a football club, not a commercial business.
Rangnick’s pedigree is about taking teams from lower divisions – Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig in Germany – and moving them up to the top divisions. Anyone who has seen much of United this season can surely feel the similarities in scenario.
Credit to Michael Carrick, though – he was determined to show what he could do. It just turned out “do” was picking McFredtic to compete with Chelsea’s midfield (even if they were sin Kante). He also chose to rest/drop Ronaldo on the day he was going to be marked by someone older than him. It’s decisions that shape your career, they say.
Mind you, United’s rope-a-dope ploy very nearly got all three points. Jorginho, who you suspect rates himself very, very highly, tried to pluck one out of the sky and only managed to assist Jadon Sancho’s first-ever Premier League goal. Carrick would have got the win had Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s fall from the “best defensive right back in the world” pedestal United fans put him on continued. AWB got tricked into kicking Thiago Silva and conceding the pen.
The finest moment of the 90? The note handed to Fred as a substitution was made – if it didn’t say “next time you think of shooting, give it to Ronaldo you idiot” then there is no point bringing notes on to the pitch.
Up at the Etihad, Man City faced the double jeopardy of a West Ham side keen to put last weekend’s slip against Wolves firmly behind them and the dreaded snow. Personally, I thought it might have been another cute Moysiah ploy – hiding a yellow ball in the white stuff so that City could not have it all to themselves for 90 minutes. As good a theory as it was, City still managed to find it often enough to win the game 2-1. Also, I suspect Aaron Cresswell saw an easy way to get in the nice warm changing rooms and took it in a heartbeat.
Liverpool were in further record-breaking form at Anfield – scoring two or more once again (I can’t recall the actual record broken and you should know by now the research efforts that go into all of this) and winning a Saturday 3pm fixture for about the 50th time in a row. 4-0 was the score against Southampton who thought they might confuse King Kloppo’s men by going three at the back and, ultimately, baffling only themselves.
On current form, Bobby Firminio might do well to let that hamstring take even longer to repair – Diogo Jota’s filling that hole more than adequately.
Arsenal continue to quietly sort themselves out. Most eyes were on Newcastle, wondering whether Eddie Howe being on the actual touchline might lead to a first win of the season. Watching Alain Saint-Maximin play as a false 11 soon answered that question, though Howe might have had a little point about Callum Wilson being barged over in the box moments before Martinelli scored a corker of a goal with his first touch.
Maybe, just maybe, the Newcastle owners have been sensibly looking into the future and noticed a promotion from the Championship on Eddie’s CV? They are going to need more than a pot of money and some refreshing training sessions to keep them up at this rate.
Steven Gerrard rarely got one over Partick Vieira when it came to winning Premier Leagues as a player, so he’ll be delighted to have seen off his former midfield rival at Selhurst Park. Palace, the side most of us (OK, me) got completely wrong preseason hadn’t been beaten at home this season until Stevie G rocked up and allowed Ashley Young to inspire them to three points. Now that’s management.
Norwich City are suddenly looking anything but a soft touch. Granted, a 0-0 draw against a Wolves team that can find plenty of ways not to score is not often something to get too excited about but Norwich would have categorically lost that match earlier in the season. That’s three unbeaten Premier League matches in a row now – there’s at least one club in Manchester that would love that kind of form.
Everton fans were the current holders of ‘which fans are annoying me most this season’ until the final whistle went at the Amex Stadium on Saturday night. Having just seen their side dominate a game against Leeds but only walk away with a 0-0 draw, a result that saw a club that could always be in a relegation battle any day of the week sit 8th in the table, the Brighton fans booed their team off. I like Graham Potter more than I like his beard, but I think he was completely right to have a bit of a pop at them after the game. They’ll probably be calling for him to be sacked next week.
Up at Goodison, Rafa is still copping the grief for the hand he has been dealt for years of mismanagement at Everton. The Toffees lost 1-0 away to Brentford, a club run with a bit of a plan and a lot of common sense – something in short supply on the blue side of Merseyside. Sure, the football isn’t that pretty at the moment but then Benitez is without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, has only just seen Doucoure return and had to pick Alex Iwobi. Plus, it doesn’t really help if Andros Townsend dangles his foot around opposition noses in the penalty area, does it?
Jamie Vardy is still Jamie Vardying. You’d have thought Claudio Ranieri might have had a plan to stop him. Leicester have been bang average so far this season, but this was one of their more entertaining performances, beating Watford 4-2. Vardy got two identikit Vardy goals but the best of the day was James Maddison’s. Hiding behind the Watford defenders, you suspect Maddison might have shouted “keeper’s!” the way they ducked and let it run through to him. I have a lot of time for that, you scamp.
Finally, I thought they were made of stern stuff up in Burnley? Called off for a bit of snow? I can’t imagine Sean Dyche was too impressed at that news – he strikes me as the kind of PE teacher that would have made you do cross country in your pants if you’d have forgotten your kit.