Richard Keys Blog

Bravo Claudio

on Monday, 05 December 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

I wonder when Pep Guardiola is gong to realise he made a dreadful mistake when he signed Claudio Bravo? We know Guardiola is a stubborn man. We know also that he has an unshakable belief in what he does, but he dropped a b*****k when he signed Bravo. He simply isn't good enough to keep goal for a team with City's ambitions.

You see, that's the key for me - 'keep goal'. Isn't that a 'goalkeepers' primary function? I can't remember another keeper ever because being signed because 'he's good with his feet'. I haven't seen much evidence that Bravo is, but that's another matter.

What I have seen is one blunder after another. I've seen an 'ordinary' goalkeeper not as good as the man he replaced.

I know I've previously said that it was no surprise to me that Guardiola wanted Joe Hart out. So did Mancini and I don't believe Pellegrini was ever that convinced Hart either.

He was a big presence in the dressing room and that's why I believe Guardiola had made his mind up to move him out even before he got to the club. He'd had that problem before, with Messi, and he wasn't about to let it happen again.

But to replace him with Bravo? I just don't understand.

Bravo announced himself to City fans by gift wrapping a present for Ibra in the derby. He's gone on to make one error after another and if we're honest, he was hopeless again at the weekend. What exactly was he trying to do as Willian scored Chelsea's 2nd?

In stark contrast I watched David de Gea rescue a point for United at Goodison - at least that's how it turned out. At 1-0 down he pulled off a stunning save from Kevin Mirallas - ironically with his feet! Baines pen meant United had to settle for a point, so that save became even more important.

For two seasons now de Gea has been United's best player. He 'saves' them time and again. Is he as good as Bravo with his feet? I've no idea, but I don't believe United have suffered too much if he isn't.

Do you remember Brian Clough signing Peter Shilton when he was at Forest and immediately announcing that the England keeper would be worth 10 points a season to them?  He was.

I can't remember a team ever winning anything without a top keeper. Schemeichel - did he play 'because he was good with his feet'? His son isn't bad either. Cech. Seaman. Flowers. Courtois. Van de Sar. Lehmann. These are a selection of top keepers. What do they have in common?   Of course, they all won P Lge title medals.

If a defence doesn't feel confident about the man behind them they're going to make mistakes. They're going to constantly feel on edge.

I've mentioned before that Guardiola is proud of the defensive records he had at both at Barca and Bayern. When he won his third Spanish title with Barca his team conceded just 21 goals in 38 matches - a rate of 0.55 goals per game. At Bayern he set a club and Bundesliga record 17 goals in 34 games. Of course he did - Neuer is a magnificent keeper, which helped - but if you've got the football for as long as Bayern and Barca always had it - against largely ordinary opposition - you won't concede goals. That's not rocket science is it? Our Premier Leagie is different. There are no easy games and there are more challengers for the big prizes.

Guardiola is a Cruyff disciple. He too believed in a 'keeper being able to 'play'. Jan Jongbloed could do that, but he couldn't keep goal. As a player Cruyff held tremendous sway in the Dutch dressing room and always insisted on Jongbloed playing during that glorious era for the Dutch in the 70's.  I'm not saying he lost them big games on his own, but he didn't 'win' many of them.

Bravo Claudio for having a go, but I don't believe City will look secure again until they change the keeper.

Well done Alan Pardew - what a relief for Palace fans that their team at last won at the weekend. I was pleased doe David Moyes and Sunderland as well. They're on a tidy run now.

Keep your eyes on Watford. I'm not convinced they can sustain their early season good fortune. There's always one team that drops like a stone. They're my pick this season.

As for West Ham - well - I'm not getting as much stick from Hammers' fans as I did a year ago. Maybe I was just one season out when I said they should 'be careful what they wished for' post Big Sam?

Smile Jose

on Monday, 28 November 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Would the real Jose Mourinho please stand up - and smile? Charm us. again. Captivate audiences again. Convince us again. Make us believe again.

I just don't understand what's happened to Mourinho. He's got the job he always coveted. What a wonderful job it is too. Ok, he's not off to the start he wanted, but there really is no need for the tantrums. There's no need either for the miserable face - or the constant smiling and moaning.

United aren't the 'unluckiest' team in the PL as Mourinho would have us believe. They're simply not very good right now - and that's his fault. I think United fans have been more than patient with him so far.  And why not? We're only 13 games into the season. Turning a juggernaut around takes time. The horrible truth for United fans is that your team has been in decline now for 5 years - yes, that process started when Fergie was in charge and he did nothing about it. Well, nothing? Not quite - he signed Robin van Persie, a 29 year old, on whom there was no return beyond his first season, when single handedly he won an 'ordinary' United the title. Fergie knew that - he got out - and still the fall and fall goes on.

None of the above is new. I've said it many times. One of the big problems at United is the sense of expectation. Because a generation of fans have known nothing but success they 'expect' nothing but success. I'm sorry, it doesn't work like that, but I did genuinely think Mourinho and Manchester United were perfect for each other. I actually thought they'd win the title this year. I couldn't see a reason why not.

They spent big, Mourinho got most of what he wanted, and I thought the fact that he knew our league would give him an edge over Conte/Koop and co. I would add I thought he was two top strikers short and I still believe he is. I got shouted down on that one by United fans, but was I wrong?

Mourinho is making hard work of managing United. It's a tough gig, but when you're earning £12m/year and in charge of the fantastic institution that is Manchester United what's the problem?

Everywhere Mourinho has been he's had success. He's a giant in the game. His reputation as a 'winner' is well deserved. So is his reputation for moaning and behaving like a spoilt brat. It always ends like that - wherever he's been, but it's never before started like that - until now.

I keep hearing theories that he's a 'busted flush'. That the game has moved away from him. That a new breed of coach has stolen the spotlight from him. That may prove to be true, but right now I don't believe that. Not for a minute.

But it's difficult to argue that dramatic turn around in Chelsea's fortunes under Conte suggests the players downed tools and got him out of Stamford Bridge.  No-one can condone that, but it's the modern game. Players hold sway.

I'm hearing worrying stories that he's falling out with too many people at Carrington. Initially he breezed in and got things going, returning the place to the way it looked and felt under Fergie, but all too quickly his time at Old Trafford has become all about 'him'.

What he did to Schweinsteiger was a disgrace. Ok, do you don't want the fella at the club, so tell him to find another one and help that process. Why treat footballing royalty like he did? He later said it was a 'human' decision to involve the German again. As I said at the time - by his own admission that made his initial treatment 'inhuman'.

Smalling and Shaw came in for unwarranted criticism. Mkhitaryan is one of Mourinho's but can't put a foot right. Jones was frozen out, before working his way back in. Rooney keeps a dignified silence despite being messed about horribly. Then there's Young - in then out - one week important and then frozen out the next.

I know there's still surgery to be done on that squad and a lot have to go, but do it properly. They've all got mates at the club and dissatisfaction spreads quickly.

After their worst start for 27 years the title has gone. Fourth is looking a long way off. Fourth? Since when were United happy to settle for fourth? Speak to people at the club now and they'll tell you they'd take it.

Smile Jose, please. It's a big job, but enjoy it. More importantly, be seen to be enjoying it. Or is the truth that the new generation of coaches have stolen the limelight and he's sulking? If he is and things don't change he won't last at Old Trafford. He really won't.

For now, I'll continue to believe he'll sort it out. I'm a big fan - a BIG fan, but no more of the childish antics we saw at the weekend. You're making Sir Bobby Charlton look more and more right by the day Jose. He worried you'd tarnish United's image.

If Mourinho fails, what then? I wonder. I wonder if history could repeat itself and Fergie might step back in? I'm not suggesting that would be a long term solution, but it might steady the ship. No, you're right, that could never happen. Oh, hold on - do I remember a guy called Sir Matt Busby?


Spurs - the 'nearly' men

on Wednesday, 23 November 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Now this admission might make me unique. Some might think the sun has finally got to me - but I really quite like Daniel Levy! And I think he's done a terrific job at Spurs - but....!  

He's been a constant and 'steady' figure at White Hart Lane now since 2001. Well, when I say steady, perhaps not quite as steady as some would've liked, but he's never shirked a decision. He hasn't always been right - but he hasn't wasted much time in correcting things once he's realised a mistake. 

He's not a man that seeks publicity. He's very private, which is why I felt privileged to have spent an afternoon in his company a few years back. The owner, Joe Lewis was also there. It was around the time both had realised good old 'Arry had to go before he inflicted much more damage on the club. 

We talked about that and a whole lot more - including Levy's plans for the new stadium that they're finally building. He's astute. And clever. He gets things done. Incidentally, how right was he about the Olympic Stadium? He wanted to knock it down and start again. He knew it was the only sensible solution to all the problems that West Ham have created for themselves by trying to do things on the cheap. 

Anyway, through much tumult he's put Spurs back in amongst the big boys. Now here's the 'but' I referred to earlier - having done that unless Spurs push on again they won't just be standing still - they'll be going backwards and wasting a wonderful chance to be C Lge regulars - maybe even regular title contenders - perhaps even regular title winners. 

In my view Levy has been a big plus for Spurs. He's been their greatest strength these past few years, but he might also now be their greatest weakness if he doesn't ease the purse strings. 

Last night's (Tuesday) C Lge exit adds weight to my argument. What a waste of all last season's hard work. Spurs simply don't have a squad big enough to cope with modern day football demands and I fear that it's only going to get worse 

You can't accuse Levy of being 'tight'. Spurs pay good money. They're 12th in the table below with an annual wage bill of £2.68m. The average salary at Spurs is 51k/pw. But it's not enough. Look at United, City, Arsenal and Chelsea. If you want to play with the big boys you've got to pay with the big boys. 


I'm told Levy won't sanction any pay deal that starts with a '1'. In other words, nobody at WHL is going to earn 100 grand a week or more whilst Levy holds the purse strings. He'll have to change his mind about that if he wants to keep Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane. 

Lloris's advisors are trying to negotiate a new deal right now. They're miles apart. Kane has three and a half years left on his deal, but there'll be a break clause in it. For what he's contributing at Spurs he's seriously underpaid. Would you believe Sissoko earns more? Manchester United are aware and want Kane. We've all read those stories - and what United want they generally get. Unless Spurs come up with a proper deal - my view is Kane will soon be at Old Trafford. And I mean 'soon'. 

If that happened I don't think it would be too long before Pochettino baled out. 

Spurs are fine club, with a glorious past. They've given us much but for too long now they've been the 'nearly' men. Don't let it happen again Daniel. 

Gareth Southgate? I'm not holding my breath.

on Monday, 21 November 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Apologies that I've been so quiet lately and thank you for inspiring me to get going again. I had no idea how popular these musings had become! I'm flattered.

So Gareth Southgate passes the interview process to become England manager.  He was one of one in the running. I wish him well, but was there really nobody else? If not, why not? What a farce. Greg Clark, Dan Ashworth, Martin 'I'm not a football man' Glenn, Howard Wilkinson and Graeme Le Saux really had their work cut out didn't they?

I can hear them now 'Right gentlemen, let's get down to business. First item on the agenda is the new England manager. Let's make this an exhaustive and thorough process. We've got to get it right this time. How many candidates do we have?'  'Er, just the one Mr Chairman'. Honestly, if it wasn't so serious it would be funny.

I like Gareth, but he wouldn't be my choice. I'd have done everything in my power to persuade Glenn Hoddle to take it. At the very least, he should've been considered - interviewed maybe? Now there's a thought!

Southgate is a nice guy, and that's going to be his problem. He's 'mini' Hodgson, he'll play to the gallery too much. Roy didn't start like that, but he sure as hell finished like it, making decisions that the Press boys were screaming for.

Southgate dropped Rooney for his second game in charge v Slovenia, after he'd just skippered England to a 2-0 win v Malta. Why? Worse, he paraded him in front of a baying media to explain the decision. Why? He had him apologise for having a few drinks last weekend - with other England staff - whilst 12 players went on the missing list. Why? I'll tell you, because he was playing to the crowd. For me, it showed weakness, not strength. Back your man Gareth. What happens now we know that Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana were in a strip club in Bournemouth?

Significantly, both knew they'd be playing against Spain, Henderson as captain. In the furore surrounding Rooney, whose face on the front page of a tabloid sells papers, it's been overlooked that he knew he WASN'T going to play against Spain. I'll get back to this in a moment.

As for Southgate's 'audition' - a 3-0 win over the worst Scotland team in living memory and a 2-2 against Spain's reserves - did that really fill us full of optimism? I read one piece that suggested  he'd ushered in a 'new era' - giving youth a chance. Really? Have we forgotten that Hodgson took the youngest squad to the Euro's? That worked out well didn't it?!?

As for Rooney-gate. Come on, give the guy a break. He did nothing wrong. I repeat - he knew he wasn't going to be playing against Spain. Instead of leaving the hotel, he had a few drinks, a full seven days before he was due to play again, with a few members of the FA staff! So what.

I'm told he DIDN'T gate crash a wedding party, it was more the other way round. He was approached by the wedding party. He spent time with the married couples' guests - how refreshing in a modern era when our heroes are almost untouchable. What a disgraceful fuss about nothing.

I've said before, I don't understand the obsession with destroying our last English modern day icon. When he's gone there'll be more of an understanding of what he achieved during an extra-ordinary career. Respect guys please, a bit more respect.


As for Southgate - I genuinely wish him well, but I'm not holding my breath.

Death by a thousand cuts

on Monday, 31 October 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

It was Niall Quinn that said it - 'its like watching a death by a thousand cuts'. You could feel his pain. Quinny is one of the good guys. He's a Sunderland man through and through. Not only was he a fantastic - and as it turned out, irreplaceable centre-forward for the club - he went on to both buy it and then run it.

He came as close as anybody to restoring a grand old club to its rightful place in amongst the big boys. Well, when I say he did, both he and Steve Bruce did. They delivered Sunderland's only top ten finish since Peter Reid kept finishing seventh. That was quite a useful habit!

Quinny's managerial career wasn't quite as successful. His one game in charge ended in embarrassment when the Super Sky Blues tanned their arses at High field Road - ironically managed by Peter Reid! I'm half joking - it wasn't a s bad as I'm making out - but it was a defeat - and a rare enjoyable win for us!

Bruce filled the Stadium of Light and delivered for Quinn, by now Chairman, like no one else has done since.

And so back to the slow death that Quinny described after watching Sunderland being taken apart by Arsenal. It's sad to see them in such a mess. It's been a dreadful start for David Moyes, who now has the unenviable record of having delivered the worst ever P Lge start to any club's season. Cast your minds back a season and Sunderland won their tenth game of that campaign, beating Newcastle. That result gave them six points from their opening ten games and Big Sam went on to do what Big Sam does - he got performances from a team well beyond their capabilities. And, of course, he kept them up. Now Sunderland have just two points. They're going down. And not before time.

I don't say that to be unkind, but it's actually the only way they can go forward. They've got to replicate what Newcastle are doing. There is no more to get out of a tired squad of bang ordinary players. They're shot (I could've used an 'i' there!). They're well passed their sell by date. They're a collection of mis-fits and somebody else's poor buys. They're done. They're hopeless.

None of this is Moyes fault, although I do sometimes think that he could get on the front foot a little more. Sunderland fans knew, but didn't want to be told after half a dozen games, that they were in a relegation fight.

So who do we blame? We can only blame Ellis Short. It had to be Short that nodded through the appointment of Paolo di Canio in 2013.  Worse - DI Canio and his director of football Roberto De Fanti?  Di Canio then brought in a small army of backroom assistants and 14 duffers onto the playing staff. The outcome was as predictable as it was disastrous. Let's not forget that DI Canio replaced Martin O'Neill, who Short had sacked. Brilliant.

Gus Poyet inherited a mess and another relegation battle.  So did Dick Advocaat. So did Big Sam. So did David Moyes. There's a theme here isn't there? Enough. It's time for a remedy. Sticking plaster won't do anymore.

I wrote, before a ball was kicked, that I'd be worried about this season if I was a Sunderland fan. Granted, that was hardly a bold prediction!  But do you remember why I said that? It was because of Martin Glenn's arrogant belief that there was 'no rush' to appoint Roy Hodgson's successor. Really? Sunderland fans knew there was. We all knew Big Sam would get the job but Glenn and the FA couldn't see that while they dragged their heels a transfer window was passing and Sam's successor at Sunderland was going to have no time to work in it. It didn't help that when the FA finally made their minds up Short=

held out for unrealistic compensation. He got his money in the end - but it 's going to be the most expensive compensation in history. The protracted discussions are partly the reason why I believe Sunderland will go down this time.

So what should Short do next? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. David Moyes is the right man to sort things out. Sunderland need to do what Newcastle have done - as much as it will hurt Mackems to read that. Short has to back away - give Moyes the reigns and let him get on with it. If they start preparing for the drop in January - and subsequent recovery - there's no reason why they can't be top of the Championship and heading back to the big time a year from now.

If somehow Moyes keeps them up we'll be re-visiting this same subject next season. Like Villa - eventually it will catch them out. My solution?  A clear out. Get the lot out. Start again. And give Sunderland fans what they want -a bit of pride back in their team.

Age is no limit

on Wednesday, 26 October 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

What a wonderfully unpredictable season we've got on our hands - so far anyway! And my title tip - Mourinho and Man Utd - are doing their best to make me look as much of a mug as I did last season after predicting Leicester would go down!

How bad were they at Chelsea? Awful is the answer. And despite the fact that they got out of Anfield with a point last Monday, they weren't much better there.

I read a piece by Mourinho this weekend where he was arguing that all he's got to do to win over United's fanatical support was 'win'. Wrong Jose. Yes, that's part of the formula, but managing Manchester Utd comes with a responsibility to understand the club and 'entertain' whilst winning. Nothing else will do.

Right now there's a lot of re-building to be done, so I accept that it's a process, but on recent evidence Mourinho looks miles away from achieving either.

They're missing Rooney for sure. Before you jump all over me, undertake this exercise for yourselves - look at the results with him his season - and compare them to the results without him. He's a leader. He's the captain. He makes things happen.

And tell me this - what is Ibrahimovic doing to justify his selection that Rooney wasn't? Or Pogba? Or the dreadful, ponderous Fellaini? There's three major problems right there, but Ibra comes with a reputation, Pogba with a huge price tag, so I can understand Mourinho persisting with them, but Fellaini? United really should be charged with bringing the game into disrepute every time they play this lumbering, laborious neanderthal. He is hopeless. Embarrassing. He can't run and he can't pass a ball forward. He can't open up defences and he often can't keep his elbows to himself. He is NOT a Man Utd player, yet he gets in ahead of Rooney? I know Wayne was injured on Sunday, but he hasn't been.

I'm also wondering if there's another issue? Has Mourinho's magic gone? Have United been duped? I hope not and I still believe the marriage of manager and Man Utd was just about perfect, but Jose has got to lighten up and start entertaining again. We've seen the petulant, spoilt teenager routine and I think it's fair to say we've all had enough of it? How he could complain to Conte about his touchline antics is beyond me. Mourinho invented that act!

Chelsea were terrific weren't they? I think they finally rinsed Mourinho out of their system. It was a stunning win. Stunning. That's the way to do it Jose - entertain.

I must say I'm fascinated by what's going on at City. As we all know, it's now five games without a win. That's only happened to Guardiola once before, in his first season as coach at Barcelona. By his impeccably high standards this is a crisis. Locking your team into the dressing room for an hour after the match says as much.

Super coach? You know my feelings. Good coach, yes. Super coach? Not for me.  Not yet anyway.

I'm not being churlish, but - with the side he had at Barcelona he couldn't fail. They haven't exactly struggled since he left have they? In fact, there's an argument they're even better now.

He came up short in Germany. Bayern wanted him to win the C Lge and he failed, however you look at it, and now he's got a job and a half on at City, where. nothing is ever simple.

Most weekends Guardiola would expect to win in both Spain and Germany. That won't happen in our league. The congestion at the top tells you that and there are no easy wins to be had in the bottom half either.

Guardiola says he's not for 'changing', that it's his way or the highway. Well I think it'll be the highway for a few on the playing side very shortly - and if he's not careful it might be for him down the line. I've spoken about that dressing room at City before. Yes, Guardiola has made a start in sorting it out, but there's a long way to go yet.

I'm hearing Aguero's representatives have been asked about the chances of him going to Real Madrid. The answer was 'very good'. That's why Guardiola phrased his answer carefully when asked about Argentinian in his press conference. 'If he leaves this club it'll be his decision' was the answer. There you have it. Aguero isn't the only one that doesn't buy into the 'philosophy'. He doesn't want to be hunting defenders down - he wants to be fresh to snap up chances when they come - something he does very well.

Asked after the game Sunday what he'd changed at half time Guardiola said 'nothing'. He added 'they (the players) changed their attitude'. Wrong. He changed but didn't want to admit it. He put another forward on and the equaliser came from a long diagonal ball, something that they hadn't been doing in the first half.

Look, things change so quickly in football that the two Manchester clubs are just as likely to be the only two left chasing the title at the end of the season, but right now not much at either club is going according to plan.

I wonder what the chances are that 'old man' Wenger might just sneak over the line first this season! Wouldn't that be one in the eye for those who write off experience? It's a commodity you can't buy, not even in the big money world of P Lge football.  

Right now age and the sky would appear to be no limit for Wenger. Nor time. He'll leave Arsenal when he wants to and not before.

Back in business.

on Thursday, 13 October 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Is it only me, or do we all feel the same about these international breaks?  I hate them. I shut down. The only thing I'm thinking about, from the moment the last P Lge ball is kicked and we stop, is 'when do we get going again?'

I know it shouldn't, but international football is starting to leave me stone cold. I'm not sure that players themselves aren't beginning to feel that way too. I've mentioned it before - playing for England now isn't fun. The Scots have had a kicking this past fortnight as well - and Wales. What is it about our Press boys? Why is there always so much negativity?

Answer me this - how much better were England without Wayne Rooney? The guys bullied Gareth Southgate into leaving him out - to what end? I was disappointed that Southgate buckled so easily under media pressure. At least Roy Hodgson took a couple of years before he started dancing to Fleet Streets' tune. Southgate wants to please everybody I know, but I thought he made the wrong call on Rooney.

Oh, and when the new England boss says 'I inherited a mess' who is he blaming? Big Sam, who only had 67 days to create that mess, or the previous regime, which Southgate was very much a part of? 

Briefly on the skipper - Rooney remains the only player England have that frightens the opposition. United blitzed Leicester without him - scoring four in 20 first half minutes - three from set pieces, which I suspect they would've done with Rooney on the pitch, but what happened v Stoke? I didn't read anything from the people who'd castigated him following the Leicester game admitting that he's not United's problem. I'll make a little prediction here - I'll bet Mourinho plays him against Liverpool on Monday night.

Speaking of Liverpool - I've been reading some fascinating stats about Jurgen Klopp. Let me share them with you, because again, I'm totally baffled by the conclusions of two separate articles. 

From the excellent Andy Dunn in the Sunday Mirror -

'Klopp has won fewer than half of his 37 Lge games.

His team has averaged 1.729 pts per game.

During his 122-game spell at Anfield Brendan Rodgers won more than half his matches averaging 1.795 pts per game

Klopp is averaging 1.97 goals per game. Rodgers averaged 1.9.

Liverpool were marginally tighter under Rodgers, conceding 1.24 goals per game.  It's 1.35 under Klopp'.

Pretty similar records aren't they?  Also last week The Times reported 'Klopp's Liverpool are the masters of a new era of Super Fit Football'.

Here's a few of their findings.

'Liverpool have increased the distance they covered in their opening games this season from 756.4 km's to 814.8.

Sprints are up to 4165. A sprint, apparently is 'an action of movement over 25.2/h or 7m/s. Keeping up? No? To be fair I got lost when I first read all this!

Liverpool made those 4165 sprints in their first seven games, an 'enormous' 478 or 13 per cent more than Bournemouth, who led the table after seven games last season. 

From the same article I read that Liverpool's 'surge' this season came as a result of their pre-season which included 'treble'  sessions. Really? And so far they've achieved what? Not much more than a similar record to Rodgers - but they have sprinted more than Bournemouth a year ago? Again - is it just me?

Anyway - it's great to be back in business and have our P Lge ready to start again.

We've got a fantastic weekend ahead on BeIN Sports, starting with an extended Keys & Gray on Friday night. ALL the weekend's games are 'live' across our channels and for La Liga fans - be sure that the first Classico of the season WILL BE 'live' on beINSports. I read because of the 3.15 kick off  time it won't be broadcast in the U.K.  Rest assured, you'll never miss a thing with us at BeINSports. 

You were Super - Spurs

on Monday, 03 October 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

The air of invincibility around Pep Guardiola and his City team was blown away by Tottenham's tornado. What a game. I enjoyed it more than anything else I've seen this season.

Spurs were terrific and had Eric Lamela scored with that penalty  3-0 wouldn't have flattered them.

Double training sessions you see - that's the way forward! Wait until they lose one though - then double training sessions will be to blame again!

So what of City? Have they been found out, not just by Spurs, but also Celtic? Well, not exactly. I thought Guardiola was both magnanimous and relaxed after the game. He's right - City are a work in progress and all those who thought they title race was over because of the way they'd started now need to re-assess. It wasn't over before the Spurs game - and it isn't now. City hadn't won it - and they haven't lost it. I was pleased to see Guardiola smiling in his post match interview as well. Early on in the season I thought he was surly and rude when facing reporters post match. It's not an easy that - for either the manager or the reporter. The guys in the tunnel do a really good job - none more so than Geoff Shreeves and I'm pleased to see how well Des Kelly has taken to it at BT.

What point was Mourinho trying to make when he said the performance against Stoke was 'United's best of the season'?

Is he saying that what's been served up prior to the weekend wasn't very good? Was he trying to protect those that this week toiled without their skipper Wayne Rooney? Funny isn't it, after a really good 20 mins last week, when they got four goals against Leicester, three of them from set-pieces, the media buried Rooney. And this week when he wasn't on the pitch and Utd struggled - was that Rooney's fault as well? I come back to what I said last week, they're a much better side without Fellaini, but like City, they're a work in progress. As for Jose's claims? As he said - we're all allowed our opinions!

Here's a 'fact' though that's been overlooked this weekend - a year ago United were top at this stage, with three more points than they have now!

Arsenal were lucky. Koscielny's goal should never have been allowed. It was handball, not intentional, but because of the consequences of it, it should've been disallowed. Have a look at law 18 and what it says about 'common sense'.

Everton's goal should've been disallowed as well.  We can argue all day long about whether they should even have had the free-kick, but once it had been given it should've been indirect. Why? The offence was 'dangerous play' because there was no contact. Jon Moss was wrong in law.  Lukaku stuck it straight in - so the game should've re-started with a goal-kick for Palace.

Liverpool continue to make obvious progress - second half they were really good at Swansea. Francesco Guidolin won't be in charge when we resume after the Internaional break. I still think Ryan Giggs will be.

And I wouldn't be surprised to see his old skipper, Steve Bruce, in charge at Villa. Not only do I think he'd be the right choice, I have no doubts that he would get them up - almost certainly this season. Bruce knows the league. He knows what's required to get out of it and he inspires people. For too long now Villa have been an unhappy ship. Bruce would get people smiling again.

As for me, it's been a crazy weekend. My wonderful wife and I have said all we intend to on the weekend's fire-storm. It's business as usual all round. And thank you to everybody that took time out to offer their support.

Much ado about something

on Friday, 30 September 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

I've waited all week, mainly because we've been promised fireworks all week. As it turns out The Telegraphs' explosive expose of the wrong doings in English football has turned out - so far - to be like a wet Guy Fawkes night.

In fairness they certainly stirred things up early in the week reporting the 'sting' that cost Sam Allardyce his job. I said on the day that I was both disappointed with Sam and for him too. With him? Well, as he realised very quickly he really shouldn't have put himself in the position that he did - and not said many of the things that he did. I'm sorry for him because in trying to do a life long friend a favour he cost himself his dream job. By the way, why is it that in every report I've read in The Telegraph so far, Scott McGarvey's name keeps coming up. Why was he at every meeting that The Telegraph set up, both him and the Italian agent Pino Pagliara?

Having served Sam up on a silver platter were we told that eight P Lge managers - either working or 'resting' - would be exposed for taking bungs. So far - nothing. All we've had is two sacrificial asst managers, one - Eric Black - a really good guy, who was also trying to do McGarvey a favour. I don't know anything about Tommy Wright. Oh, and Jimmy Ffloyd, who as far as I can see, was looking to negotiate a fee for public speaking in the Far East. Don't we all want to get paid for the work we do?

Now, The Telegraph might yet reveal something far juicier, but in the meantime, why all the hysteria? Gary Lineker wants the Police called in to investigate. Perhaps that's not a bad idea, but how far back do we go? Do we investigate everything from the early 80's when all our top talent was going to play in Spain and Italy? Those guys invented the brown envelope. Are we to believe all those deals were clean?

Look. I'm no different to anyone else. I don't like foul play and if wrongs have been committed, let's route them out. But we need proof. I know all too well what it's like to be the victim of smears. Right now some really good football men are suffering a similar fate. We've all heard the names. It's wrong. Very wrong.

Naturally the social media is screaming blue murder. A number of X-players with a few skeletons in the cupboard are 'insulted' by the content of the allegations - players who've missed out on England squads because of drink driving charges. Players that have been caught by their employers in secret meetings with the Chief Execs of other clubs talking about a transfer. Players that have even missed drug tests. It's amazing.

We've also had Parliament up in arms. Almost inevitably every busy MP trying to make a name for himself has been quoted. Take Damien Green, the current Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. He's only temporarily in the job because his predecessor, Keith Vaz, has all sorts of life-style problems of his own right now.

Honestly, MP's lecturing the rest of us on matters of decency and honesty? They can't be serious. How long is it since we were reading similar stories about their expenses scandals? That stench still won't go away. We still are hearing of many examples of similar fraud even now.

And on that subject - my journalistic colleagues are full of opinions as well. How many of them can honestly hold up their hands and say 'I've never been creative with my expenses'. I'll tell you - none of them. What's the difference? It's all fraud isn't it? Some of the top guys have sat and laughed, enjoying the hospitality of individuals constantly linked with financial impropriety in our game. I've mentioned this before - I've even discussed the subject with one in particular. I asked him how he could put himself in that position?  'Oh, it's *****. he's only nicking a few quid'. Ah - so that's ok then? Of course it's not.

I'm not defending anybody that's had their fingers in this sticky pie. It's wrong, but it's also how business and life often works. There are hundreds of countries in the world where, if you want to get a deal done, you've got to be 'creative' in doing it. It's how it works.

So why is it always football and football people that attract so much criticism on this subject? 'Aren't they paid enough?' is a question often asked. Well, perhaps not. Does a City banker stop earning money if he pulls off a £100m deal? No, he wants £200m. It's life. Is it right that an F1 driver can earn a million for two hours work every fortnight? Yes, it is, if that's the going rate.

Football is always getting a kicking. I repeat, where wrong doings are 'proved' then let action be taken, but we can't go round speculating and creating stories to fit baseless claims. It's not right. Remember - despite the fact that we now live in a very judgemental society - everyone deserves the right to be judged innocent until proven guilty.

West Ham and Rooney get Hammered

on Monday, 26 September 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

After six games last season West Ham were in the top 3 - and my  suggestion that their fans 'should be careful what they wish for' wasn't looking too accurate. Many a Hammer would regularly, and quite rightly, point out how well Slaven Bilic had taken to life as a coach in the P Lge and that my fears weere considerably wide of the mark.

After six games this season West Ham are in the bottom three and my warnings don't look quite so daft do they?

Look, I have no desire to open up old wounds with West Ham fans and I genuinely don't like to see the club struggle - it's a fine club that's contributed hugely to the English game down the years, especially for those of us of a certain vintage - Moore, Peters and Hurst were all heroes of mine.

What always disappointed me about the modern West Ham fan was how ungrateful he/she was to Big Sam. Hands up - Sam is a mate so of course I'll defend him wherever and whenever I feel I have to. I first got close to him back in 2008 when I worked in Qatar for the first time and he was hugely supportive of me and Andy when we were tucked up by Sky. Aren't you supposed to be loyal to good friends? I thought that was unwritten law in the East End - perhaps more so than anywhere else in London?

Sam didn't just save West Ham at the most needy point in their history, he first settled and then built the club back into a P Lge outfit. Bilic has never been shy of making that point. Sam made last season possible.

In warning that Hammers fans 'should be careful what they wish for' I was making the point that the old fashioned belief that their team should always play the 'West Ham' way was outdated and dangerous. You simply can't play 'nice' football in our league anymore.

Bilic, who I like enormously - he's a real football man, both knew last season and knows now that there is no such thing as the 'West Ham way' anymore. I pointed out last season, that before Christmas, the percentage of long balls West Ham played was up from 18% to 23%. Not my stats - Opta's.

In the last minute on Sunday I saw Antonio chucking a long throw into the box. Most Hammers fans would've missed this because they'd already left the stadium, but is they 'West Ham way'? The throw very nearly did its job though.

Last season the Hammers were brilliant and I said so on many occasions. Payet was sublime. Any football fan must've enjoyed his contribution to their season.

This time around they're a shadow of themselves. So is Payet. Perhaps he's struggling at the moment after all the excesses of the past 12 months, but right now he looks like a player that wants to be elsewhere. West Ham need him again - and fast.

I don't believe the Hammers will struggle all season. They're not as bad as their results have been so far but nor were they as good as results were last season.  The truth is that they're somewhere in between - about where Sam left them.  

The crisis at Old Trafford appears to be over! I said last week that I didn't believe Mourinho wouldn't sort things out. He hasn't yet, but Saturday was obviously much better. Or was it?

I thought they looked nervous for 20 mins. Goals change games and their opener did just that. Mata was terrific and helped put the game to bed before half time. A good job too, because Leicester had the better of the second half.

Were United better without Rooney? No. I'm not having that. I think they were miles better without Fellaini, something which seems to have gone totally un-noticed after all the nonsense surrounding Rooney.

I asked before - what is it with the Rooney-bashers? Why? Why are they so keen to run him out of both Old Trafford and England? I've never understood it. I repeat - the fella is a phenomenon. He's been awesome for club and country. His record speaks for itself. When has he ever complained about a job he's been asked to do for either?

Yes - he's out of sorts just now, but he'll be back. And when he is let's hope he's given just ONE job to do on the pitch. I can tell you, without fear of contradiction, that in the games he's played for United this season his manager has had him perform in a combined 12 different positions - shifting him forwards, back and sideways. Twelve! Rooney has adapted without complaint done what he's been asked, all for the good of the team. Back off him and enjoy him while we still can. We won't see his like again.

I thought it was interesting how Antonio Conte reacted to Chelsea's dismal performance at Arsenal. A warning Antonio - that dressing room won't react positively to criticism. It never has. Ask Villas Boas, Scolari and more recently Mourinho, to name just a few. You can go all the way back to Ranieri. Dennis Wise was in our BeIN Sports studios this weekend. When I made that point he reacted with a wry smile! I said in the summer, if those big ego's at The Bridge thought they were in for an easier time once they'd outed Mourinho then they should think again. Conte is more pedantic, tougher, demanding and he'll upset them. What happens next is going to be very interesting.

Oh. In amongst all the hysteria surrounding Rooney I saw this headline - 'Son proves Spurs don't need Kane'. Really? What a daft statement. They were good at the weekend - but is anyone seriously thinking they won't miss Kane? Believe me, they look able at the minute - but they'll miss Kane all right. 

Don't panic Mr Mourinho

on Monday, 19 September 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

It certainly hasn't been the best week of Jose Mourinho's career. All of a sudden all kinds of damning statistics are flying about.

Here's a couple - losing at Watford meant United had been beaten for a third successive match, in the Portuguese's worst run of results for 15 years, since he was in charge of Porto in 2002. I can think of a few coaches that would love a record like that!

It's now 15 defeats in his last 33 matches - described as 'an utterly damning statistic for a manager in charge of two high end clubs' in The Mirror today. How many of those were due to the unprofessional manner in which his players at Chelsea 'downed tools' to get rid of him at Stamford Bridge? My maths tells me 12, so the stat isn't quite as 'damning' as it reads.

Another headline screamed 'Just not special anymore' referring to both Mourinho and Rooney. Rubbish!  They both are.

Granted, after a very good start to the season, the last seven days haven't been great and because Mourinho makes himself such an easy target for the media when things go wrong, he's always going to get a kicking, but I have no doubt that he'll sort things out.

I do hear worrying stories of a little unrest amongst a few players and I understand that Antony Martial is not his biggest fan - nor Mourinho Martial's. That's certainly something to keep an eye on. Martial wouldn't be the first wide man that Mourinho has fallen out with would he? He's got some serious 'previous' with some very high profile names on that front.

Having said that, who hasn't got unhappy players at a club? No-one. It's generally those who aren't playing that make the most fuss.

Mourinho will settle things down, but I'm a little concerned that he hasn't yet got to grips with what's in the DNA at United. I mentioned last week that I was surprised that they were so 'passive' in the derby. He set up 'not to lose'. That's not United's way. Every time he picks Fellaini I think Mourinho is open to that allegation. Quite simply, Fellaini is not a Manchester United player. He trollies about totally out of his depth, passing sideways and backwards. He gives too many free kicks away and there are times that his behaviour is totally unacceptable.

I thought at Watford the game was crying out for Michael Carrick, someone to give United momentum and forward movement. Their passing was both negative and slow.

And how about putting Marcus Rashford up top in those games? He was a breath of fresh air last season running away from defenders and frightening them to death with his pace. United don't have that option right now. I'm sure there will be times when Ibra will be needed to influence 'big' games. On that basis, I'd keep him fresh for those games. Why play him at Watford?

As we know, I'm a massive Rooney fan, but I admit that he looks out of sorts at the moment. He's confused by all the different jobs he's been given and plays far to deep. Get in the box Wazza - it's the only place you'll score goals and influence matches.

So one or two little gripes, but Mourinho is a far better judge than me and he'll sort it!  More than anything I want to see him take United off the leash. I want them to play like his first Chelsea title winners did, with flair and pace and an ability to excite. That's what United teams do.  

I must confess I've been very impressed with City so far and if there's a player in better form in the P Lge right now than Kevin de Bruyne I haven't seen him.

Liverpool were terrific on Friday night and have very capably overcome the handicap of playing their first three games on the road.

I like the look of Everton as well. There are bigger tests to come than they've faced so far but what a relief it is to see them getting the ball forward more quickly and entertaining the Goodison faithful again.

Spurs are still short - way short of where they were last season. Again, I'm hearing all is not well behind the scenes. I'm not convinced that Pochettino got what he wanted in the transfer window and he wasn't that impressed by what he did get. Watch this space!

There are certainly problems at West Ham. I've resisted talking about them so far after what turned out to be a really good first season for Slaven Bilic. I like him, but what I'm seeing now is what I expected post-Allardyce, compounded by the stadium move. Historically the Hammers have always had a 'soft' centre. Allardyce fixed that and last season Bilic took them on with a mixture of 'realistic' football and some fantastic results, but now there's trouble.

I say 'compounded by the stadium move' because I genuinely believe that will be a factor for quite some time yet. Other than Arsenal, I can't think of another team that's made a trouble-fee move to a new stadium.

West Ham have already had their teething problems and I suspect it'll be a while before things settle making Ms Brady's ludicrous claims on July 25 this year look even more ridiculous. She said then 'The move has been a complete success on every in no doubt, we are part of the most successful migration in history'. Really Karen? I don't think so, not by a long way. 

Special 1 Pep 2

on Monday, 12 September 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

With both apologies and thanks to the sub editor at the Sunday Mirror that came up with the best headline of the weekend. It was so good that I had to nick it! 

So was the game. I really enjoyed it. Often those big matches get surrounded by so much expectation that they fail to live up to the billing. Not this one. It was a terrific game. 

Full marks to Guardiola. I wasn't convinced that he'd be able to take his style of football to Old Trafford and dominate for virtually the whole game. But he did - and City thoroughly deserved their win. For me, they were the better team. But - and it's a big but - United should've had a penalty and Bravo was a lucky boy not to be sent off. There's no guarantees that United would've scored with the pen, but the keepers reckless lunge at Rooney met all the criteria for dangerous play. He should've gone and I'm really surprised that Mark Clattenburg, who I believe is our best ref now, thought differently. Mind you, so did my mate Andy Gray, but he was wrong as well! 

I said Saturday on Twitter that I thought Mourinho had picked the wrong team. I'm pleased he's been big enough to come out and admit it. Not not only did he pick the wrong team, I felt that United were far too passive. They sat off for virtually the whole of the first half and invited City to run rings round them. And so they did. 

I still can't understand why. I really fancied United because I thought they would be more 'powerful' - typically Mourinho - but I also thought that playing at home they'd get on the front foot, like United teams of old, and steamroller City. 

Mourinho had the personnel to do that and I thought he looked so relaxed pre-match that he genuinely believed for almost the first time he had a better team than Guardiola. 

If you cast your minds back over previous meetings I can't remember too many occasions when Mourinho set a team up to 'beat' a Guardiola team. He's always set out to 'not get beaten'. That's why I think he's happy with all those draws in the head to head. For Mourinho they're like wins. This time I genuinely thought he'd go for the jugular.  

Anyway, as I said, top marks to City. I thought they were great. 

Andre Marriner was at it again wasn't he? How didn't he see Fer's foul on Gary Cahill? I did - and I was sitting in a tv studio 3500 miles away! Must do better Andre! And it didn't get much of a mention at home, but wasn't Costa's equaliser 'dangerous'. Have another look if you get the chance. He nearly decapitates that Swansea defender. Of course we don't want to see magical moments denied on the pitch, but that should've been. Or did Marriner realise his earlier error by this time and just even things up? Perish the thought! 

Well done Watford. What a stunning comeback at West Ham. Arsenal got lucky, again! There'll come a time this season that Arsene Wenger is complaining about decisions, but he's had two big ones go his way already. Arsenal should've conceded a late pen at Leicester and what was Bobby Madley thinking handing them that late chance to win it? 

Whatever else, they were genuine errors, and it happens, so we have to accept that. What didn't happen this weekend - for the first time this season - was that a ref gave a penalty that could've been avoided. Now why was that? Well in my view because that one-man wrecking ball Mike Dean wasn't in charge of a game. And why was that? Well, I'm hearing that he's been told to calm down a bit - and that neither the Sterling pen at Stoke, nor the award for shirt pulling on Benteke was a pen. Perhaps it was just a co-incidence that he was only 4th official at Old Trafford? 

I don't the new tv gantry at Anfield. Amazing isn't it, a club spends all that money on a new stand, in an era dominated by tv, and yet can't deliver a gantry to allow the game to be covered at an angle that's easy on the eye. It's too far away. My solution? Move it to the other side and look into that magnificent new stand. 

I'm looking forward to the game tonight. I'm intrigued by what David Moyes is going to be able to achieve at Sunderland and Ronald Koeman might just be on the brink of returning better times to Everton. I'm delighted to say that a 'strong' Ray Wilkins will be in the BeIN Sports MNF studios. It's been good to spend time with Ray this weekend. He's had his problems recently as we all know, but he's on the mend. 

Honest Mark Halsey

on Monday, 05 September 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

He was Jose Mourinho's favourite ref. The two became close friends and remain in touch to this day, although not quite on the same regular basis. 

Asked why Mark Halsey was his favourite, Mourinho replied 'because he's honest'. I could stop writing now. What else is there to say? Well, quite a lot actually. 

Mark has been a friend of mine now for more than 10 years. I too have found him to be nothing but honest and honourable. 

Why is this important? Let me quote from Andy Dunn's excellent column in the Sunday Mirror today 'And his (Halsey's) allegations - if true - render the Professional Game Match Officials Limited unfit for purpose'. 

Of course I'm referring here to the furore surrounding Sergio Aguero's ban for throwing an elbow at Winston Reid. Those who follow me on Twitter will know I broke the story that Aguero would be charged at 9.30 on Tuesday morning. My sources told me that ref Andre Marriner had told the FA that he handn't seen the incident. We have to take him at his word, but why didn't he see it? He was 10 yards away. He MUST have seen the incident surely - if not, what is he doing taking charge of such important high profile football matches? 

The reason I'm wondering is not because City fans set Twitter alight asking the same questions, but because I'd seen another X-ref, Dermot Gallagher, tell Sky Sports News on the Monday 'Marriner had to see it. He's got an unobstructed view'. It was that statement that sparked City's appeal and one that everybody seems to have conveniently forgotten. That was a story I broke on the Wednesday having heard of City's intent. The question on everybody's lips was 'had Marriner been told he hadn't seen it'? 

It was at this point that Halsey got involved in the Twittersphere with the following reply to an enquiry 'Paul, I have been in that situation when I have seen an incident and been told to say I haven't seen it'. Cue chaos, especially once Gary Neville had got himself involved.

Things will only get better

on Monday, 29 August 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Things will only get better. Admittedly, not bad if you're a Chelsea, United or City fan but I can't think of too many other clubs' supporters that will be too happy about what they've seen from their team so far this season. It's been an ordinary start hasn't it? But it will get better. I think the international break has come at a nice time. 

Actually, Hull City fans have got to be pleased with what Mike Phelan has done - but I can't imagine anyone on Humberside is expecting anything other than a long hard season. How good were they against United? I'm delighted for Mike. I really do hope that he gets the job full time - and a realistic chance of some kind of success to go with it. Success this season would be staying up. 

I tweeted Saturday that I thought we'd seen a 'title winning result' from United. How typical of days gone by was that - a Fergie time winner? United look strong. The 'fear factor' is returning. I don't think they played particularly well, but that's what made the outcome - and the manner of it - all the more impressive. Taking three points away from a game like that is what champions do. They wouldn't have done last season. In fact, I think they would probably have been beaten. They're my tip to win it and I'm more confident about that after the first thee games. 

City were 'smooth' for 45 minutes weren't they? Their football was a delight and West Ham could've been buried before half time, but credit the Hammers with a really good second half. They dusted themselves down and gave it a go and let's not forget how short of their 'big guns' they were. They'll only get better. 

They underlined where City will come unstuck for me. At Barca and Bayern Guardiola's style of football would sweep teams away. They could play the way they did in that first half at the weekend for 90 minutes, running up cricket scores against second rate opposition. The P Lge isn't like that. It's an age old cliche, but there really aren't any easy games. If Guardiola thinks he can win 'big matches' playing the way he did on Sunday - open and entertaining - I think he's in for a bit of a shock. That's why I can't wait for the derby. It's going to be a fascinating clash of cultures. Aguero, by the way, was bang out of order. At the time of writing he hasn't been charged with violent conduct, but if he isn't then the FA should charge themselves with bringing the game into disrepute! Had Costa done what Aguero did he would've been all over the front pages today. 

Chelsea look good. It's baffling as to how Hazard and co have all come back to life! Surely it was just a co-incidence that they all lost form at the same time last season - and played their manager out of a job? Was it hell! They downed tools. City's superstars lost a Cup Final to make sure they got rid of Mancini. It's horrible when it happens, but it does and it will again. It happened at Valencia last season as well. 

Arsenal looked better at Watford. Ozil makes a real difference to them. With the two new boys and everybody fit after the Euro's I'm certain things will settle down at The Emirates.

Spurs are stuttering. They're nowhere near the side that started last season. Kane and Eriksson are way off. Funny - I was interested to read Tony Cascarini telling Kane in his Times column today that he's not a No.10. I think I mentioned that a year ago! If he doesn't get himself up top and start being in the right places to score goals again he's going to struggle all season long. You're a centre forward Harry. Play like one. 

I don't know what to make of Everton just yet, but the signs are good. Ronald Koeman will make them competitive again. I like his style. Evertonians will as well. 

Liverpool's season is summed up by their results so far - a stunning win in the best game of the season at Arsenal, a sloppy defeat and a draw snatched from the jaws of what should've been another win. Klopp will know he's got to sort out the inconsistency. Oh - and Daniel Sturridge. How many times have I said - managers/coaches always believe they can get something out of a player that no-one else has? They always end up disappointed. Players don't change. Sturridge is a talent, but high maintenance. I hear he's got a new management company now that he's hoping will create a profile 'like Beckham's'. Daniel, there's only one way to do that - play football regularly and well - the rest will look after itself. I think Klopp may to have to bow to the inevitable any time soon and move him on. 

So we get the chance to take a break and look forward to what Big Sam has in mind for England. When the P Lge returns I'm sure we'll start to see some order take shape and I have to believe that things - the football - will only get better.

Is possession 9/10ths of the law?

on Monday, 22 August 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

Now I may have got this completely wrong - but ever since I first went to watch Coventry aged 4 - I've been under the impression that the purpose of playing football is to win. Right? We all agree on that?

How? Simple. Put the ball in the opponents net more times than they do yours. Yes?

If you can do that with a panache and excitement that gets supporters on the edge of their seats - job done. That's how United always did it under Fergie. It was breathless stuff. Of course, there were times when it didn't all come together, but no one ever left Old Trafford early, just in case. 

Now not every manager is as fortunate to have the tools at their disposal that Fergie did, so not everybody can play like that, but the purpose of the game remains the same - find a way to put the ball in your opponents net. 

Let me quote Pep Guardiola again - his own words from his autobiography 'I hate possession for the sake of it. There is no purpose to it. Barca didn't do tiki-taka'. No. They didn't. They hunted the ball down. The pinched it back early. They'd overload on one side before moving the ball quickly to the other and exposing defensive weaknesses. And they had three geniuses - Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, that made winning matches a whole lot easier. 

So this brings me onto the headline below. 

Burnley beat Liverpool at the weekend with the least possession that any team has had in a P Lge match since records began - a little over 19%! Brilliant.

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