What is the ‘right way’ to play football? It’s not what Burnley did v United.

Published: Monday, 25 September 2023

I enjoyed the weekend. The North London derby was a really good watch whilst Newcastle were ruthless at Bramhall Lane. I felt for The Blades mins you and I’m pretty sure when the dust had settled Eddie Howe would’ve felt for Paul Heckingbottom and his staff as well.

The win was something for the history books and the thousands that follow the Toon to away games. Good luck to them. They’re as loyal as they come and it was a fantastic week all things considered, but professionals don’t really like inflicting harm like that on a set of pros at another club. The shot of Stuart McCall summed up Sheffield’s misery. But take nothing away from Newcastle. They were terrific.

Liverpool (II) look like the real deal again. Klopp’s rebuild has been a resounding success and from a position where last seasons table told us they way were way behind United they’re now back on their perch - way ahead of them, proving that you don’t always need time - you simply need to know what you’re doing.

How jittery were United at Turf Moor? One moment of sublime class sunk Burnley, who tossed away a gilt edged chance to get their first win. They were anaemic. Poor. And, as I predicted pre-season, they’re going down unless something changes. They’re far too ‘nice’ to play against.

All I heard from our world feed commentators was ‘they play the right way’. ‘They’re good to watch’. Really? No. They play the wrong way.

Does the ‘right way’ mean weaving pretty patterns sideways and backwards - mustering just two shots at goal all night and not forcing the opposition keeper to make any save of note? Does it mean giving away a corner inside 47 seconds because you’ve been caught trying to be clever?

I’ll tell you what the ‘right way’ should be for Burnley - to get into teams. To make them uncomfortable. To make them scared of visiting Turf Moor. Just like Forest last season, if Burnley are to survive it will be as a result of their home form. They’re simply not good enough to tippy tappy about against seriously better opposition.

I know they tore up the C’ship playing that way. So what? That’s a totally different league. The three promoted clubs won 78 games between them last season. They haven’t got one so far in the PL.

United were there for the taking. They were shitting themselves after the defeat in Munich - their latest set-back after a terrible start. Burnley should’ve got into them - dropped some bombs on Onana for 10/15 minutes and earned the right to play a bit if that’s what they wanted to do.

Vincent Kompany is taking liberties. I’m afraid it looks as though managing Burnley is a vanity project for him. He said afterwards ‘any team that is associated with my name will always play good football’. Wrong Vinny. You’ve got that totally wrong. It’s the other way round - right now your name is associated with Burnley - a fantastic old club that down the years has always known what it is.

Sean Dyche understood that. He bought into the club and the town. You knew he was committed. He was ‘Burnley’ when he was at Turf Moor. Kompany gives me the impression that he’s just passing through and he’s prepared to sacrifice the club and its fans, who work damned hard for the 90 minutes of distraction in enormously trying circumstances, to raise his reputation and wait for the right one - almost certainly City in his mind.

Money is tight in the U.K. Fans want value for their entrance fee. They want to see players putting in a shift not ball room dancing. That sort of football is ok if you’ve got the players. Burnley haven’t.

Speaking of Dyche - Everton were fantastic at Brentford. Dyche knew exactly what was required from his team - keep it simple, turn them and make the most of set-pieces. Also - be strong. Brentford isn’t an easy place to go. Only two teams won there last season, Newcastle and Arsenal. Ok - Brentford aren’t quite the same yet, but they’re still a handful.

Dyche and Everton started the weekend with one point, just like Burnley. Both needed a win. Who had the harder game? For me - Everton. They adapted. Burnley didn’t and they failed to capitalise on a home game against fragile opposition. So who played the ‘right way’? And who is the better coach?

I was interested to see Aaron Ramsdale’s dad leap to his son’s defence by lambasting Jamie Carragher for his comments during the derby game. Good on him. I feel for Ramsdale. He’s a terrific ‘keeper and made of the right stuff, which is why he’ll turn up elsewhere and go on to have a very good career.

I didn’t agree with Carragher’s midweek assessment that Arsenal would never win the title with Ramsdale in goal. When I saw that my initial reaction was ‘nonsense’, because they were a whisker away from doing so last season. But then I realised that Carragher played in a team that was never going to win the title with him in it, so he probably knows more about the subject than me.

And finally. Did you see the story in the Athletic re-City? For those that didn’t - how about this?

The Athletic report that ‘the U.K. govt has admitted it’s embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Foreign Office in London have discussed the charges levelled at City by the PL, but are refusing to disclose the correspondence’. Surely nothing is being discussed that would lead to charges being dropped? Watered down? Compromised?

You have to say - it’s a great piece of reporting again by The Athletic. Make of it what you will. But let me ask tjese questions. Would this be the same govt that’s insisting on an independent regulator to ensure fair play in football? The same govt that chose Todd Boehly’s consortium to takeover at Chelsea? And the same govt that pressured the PL to approve the Saudi takeover of Newcastle? 🤷‍♂️.