The most entertaining league in the world... but not the best
No football fan with a pulse could fail to have enjoyed Manchester City’s draw with Liverpool. The barnstorming challenges, the unwavering commitment to attack... but above all the distinctly amateurish approach to it all. You had both sides leaving themselves wide open on the break. You had some truly, truly awful defending headlined by Gael Clichy’s hapless penalty concessions. And you had a series of astounding misses that proved far more exciting than the routine strikes we might have seen from more composed finishers than Adam Lallana, Raheem Sterling and even Sergio Aguero.
In short – it was a bit rubbish, but in the best possible way. Proof positive that all the ‘super coaches’ Europe has to offer can’t quell the Premier League’s shambolic spirit. Don’t go changing.
Mourinho loses the United Way, but wins three points
What, precisely, is The United Way? No doubt it can be located if you stroll down Sir Matt Busby Way, or Sir Alex Ferguson Way – just make sure you avoid the David Moyes cul-de-sac. Whatever this conception of a club is, it certainly isn’t playing with six defenders as you try and close down a match against relegation-haunted Middlesbrough. But by the end at The Riverside, Jose Mourinho had flooded his box with bodies in a bid to suffocate the home attack, which was focused on hitting long balls to Rudy Gestede and Alvaro Negredo. It just about worked, even if it did invite more pressure, and United broke to make it 3-1 late on.
It was widely pointed out that Moyes or Louis van Gaal would have been absolutely pilloried for using such a tactic – and the Van Gaal comparisons were out in force after half an hour when Marouane Fellaini headed in from an Ashley Young cross in a tribute act to the sadly departed King Louis. It is true: they would have. But the difference is that while Jose Mourinho doesn’t ascribe to United’s best traditions, he does satisfy one major one: winning big trophies. Not this season, admittedly, where United are too far off the pace to challenge in the Premier League, but successfully managing games isn’t something to be derided, even if does seem like a basic contravention of your club’s very soul. Moyes would probably have done the same and drawn the game.
Dele Alli is putting up some extremely good numbers
Britain is in turmoil. The Union is threatened. Brexit is coming and all we have planned to mitigate its impact is the building of a new royal yacht. But fear not. There is some hope. His name is Dele Alli. Okay, so he only scored a penalty as Tottenham beat Southampton on Sunday, but that’s four games in a row the 20-year-old has scored in, and a tally of 13 Premier League goals and 17 in all competitions this season.
His figures are quite astonishing for a player of his age. In the corresponding season in his career, Wayne Rooney scored 14 league goals to Alli’s 13, but he was playing as a striker; Frank Lampard wasn’t putting together numbers like that until he was almost 27. When the England group was announced by Gareth Southgate earlier this week it had the look of a squad put together for a League Cup third-round tie by a top-flight team with only vague aspirations of winning the trophy. That is, apart from Alli, who is now comfortably the best thing about England. Well, certainly when Harry Kane is injured at least...
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: 6 Truths: PL rubbish and brilliant; Mourinho has lost the United way