In the penultimate list of annoying things, it is only right to strive for greatness. There was, as usual, plenty to grind everyone’s gears and induce no little frothing not just from the mouth, but from all orifices and pores this weekend. Just remember once you’ve read it, that an author is not able to nominate himself for a Pulitzer, so do the right thing.
Brendan Rodgers is here, and he is the very best man in the world, and the very best manager in the world. He also clearly believes that he is a genius, and wants everyone to know it. He also appears to resent criticism that comes his way after a season of struggle. This weekend he was out in force with his gibberish:
“Six or seven months ago I was the manager of the year and I was going to be this and that, tactically this and tactically that, and now, because we have lost two world-class players, I am useless. But I accept that. I must have just dreamt that about Liverpool playing 3-4-3 in the last game [the Capital One Cup victory at Bournemouth]. What do people think that was, a bit of luck? A British coach playing 3-4-3? A foreign coach doing that would be a tactical genius. I imagine people think I fell into that system through a stroke of luck or something.
Not that I might have been awake into the early hours of the morning thinking of a solution to our problem. We played with a box midfield and a back three, with [Lazar] Markovic wide and [Raheem] Sterling as a free No9, but it took some thought. I didn’t just throw them out there.”
Congratulations, Brendan! You invented three at the back! You beat a team in the Championship! You have a box midfield, whatever that is! You have a free No9, whatever that is! You have the most sophisticated approach to life and management in the world and we are lucky to be in your presence. Congratulations on having most of the ball against Arsenal and coming away with a last minute goal to win th- hang on. Congratulations on getting a point at home when you played a side in the league you’re in. The Nobel prize cannot be far away, and when the Queen announces her abdication in the summer, we all think you’re a shoe-in to replace her.
5 Things We Learned From Liverpool 2-2 Arsenal
Interviewer: “Ronnie, would you like to sign Ched Evans?”
Ronnie Moore: “No, that would be an awful idea.”
It’s not that hard to get your head around.
When Evans made his debut for Manchester United, he looked like he would be at United for a decade. He appeared composed and unflustered. Best in the middle but able to play on the left at a push, he had the potential to learn from Wes Brown, Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, some of the most capable and experienced defenders in the world. When Alex Ferguson chose between Gerard Pique and Evans, he chose Evans, and at the time it looked like an entirely reasonable choice.
However, Evans has failed to improve. If anything, he has gone backwards. He seems utterly baffled by the requirements of playing three at the back compared to being in a partnership, and he seems terrified of any player taller than five foot ten, and heavier than 11 stone. Now 26, he has, at most, a year left to prove that he deserves to be at a United which finally appears to have a manager who is happy to get rid of underperforming players.
Mario Balotelli suspended for stupidity and posting a bigoted cartoon, Rickie Lambert out of sorts and Daniel Sturridge still injured, Borini came on in the second half against Arsenal with the chance to make an impression.
He threw the ball away and clattered straight into Santi Cazorla’s nipple, all in the space of a few minutes. Hi Fabio. Bye Fabio.
Manchester City’s incredible escape
Manchester City were reduced to playing James Milner as a false nine. James Milner, a professional footballer who has played in midfield for years, had to play 20 yards further forward than usual. It was therefore literally incredible that City were able to walk away against Crystal Palace. With just Yaya Toure, Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas and David Silva to provide a goal threat, it really was an inspiration to all of those around the world facing hardship.
If these men could struggle to break down Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace, just above the relegation zone, then surely impossible truly is nothing.
5 Things We Learned From Manchester City 3-0 Crystal Palace
Alex Has a Book Out! You Can Buy It Here