West Ham’s bubble keeps bursting because they think it’s too easy to fly so high
A brand new stadium can be snapped up in an instant – building a football club takes time. And because of their impatience, West Ham are finally asking the man who put the foundations in to come back and build the walls. Having done the hard work of keeping them in the Premier League, it was decided David Moyes was not exciting enough to continue the project to completion.
At Everton he had done a very similar project – turned an ambitious club struggling to make an impact in the Premier League into a Champions League team. But it took him four years.
But the same impatient board who don’t seem prepared to wait for scouting structures to develop and new signings to bed in have instead wasted 18 months and over £200m on a Manuel Pellegrini experiment that was always looking at the short term.
It was a bad decision to sack Moyes in the first place.
Perhaps it is time for the owners themselves to ask whether they are in fact the ones preventing the club from going – as they always like to put it in their statements – to the next level.
Defensive platform built – now get Pochettino before that train leaves the station
Finally a sign that Manchester United have not quite got everything wrong since Sir Alex Ferguson left six years ago.
An inspired performance by Victor Lindelof against Burnley supported by his expensive cohort Harry Maguire showed Manchester United have at their very core the keystone to make them stronger than most of their vulnerable peers in the hunt for European place
Not Liverpool, of course.
However, with Arsenal struggling to buy a good defender for anywhere in the back line, Manchester City falling apart in the absence of Vincent Kompany and Tottenham incapable of keeping a clean sheet away from White Hart Lane, Ole Gunnar Solkjaer has taken the side into contention despite his own inadequacies as a manager.
A large slice of that is to do with Maguire, though – the moment in the summer when the United board really went for their no. 1 candidate and did what they needed in order to get him.
That same mind-set could land them Mauricio Pochettino – and then let’s see where that gets them.
Mourinho may be regretting not writing that wish list
When Jose Mourinho first arrived at White Hart Lane he was fully on message at his unveiling. He did not need big money signings this January – the players at his disposal were all good enough by themselves to revive the club’s fortunes.
One wonders now that he has seen what they are really capable of doing, whether he is still quite so vehement.
Serge Aurier is clearly too much of a liability for regular Premier League football. Juan Foyth looks like being not-quite-good-enough in a number of different positions.
Christian Eriksen remains a shadow of his former self and Eric Dier is too hit and miss in his clumsy rehabilitation from injury and illness to be relied on to protect a wobbling back four. Giovani Lo Celso does not yet look like a long-term option when his loan expires in the summer.
A few key signings could reinvigorate the squad in a way which Mauricio Pochettino was unable to do in the summer. But once again it would make Mourinho seem like a cheque-book manager.
Is that a price the Special One –or indeed, chairman Daniel Levy – is prepared to pay.
Invincible defence has now become derisible
No amount of years spent studying at the right hand of Pep Guardiola can magic you the foundation of a side good enough to compete at the top of the table.
Sadly, Arsenal’s continued failure to invest in a decent central defender leaves you so frustrated you want to punch something.
Anything would have been nice in the case of Bernd Leno.
A lack of confidence causes the sort of mental frailty that leads a Germany international goalkeeper to make such a blunder and until Arsenal get the right sort of players into the most important areas, no amount of work Arteta puts in will make them Champions League quality again.
Arsenal had conceded more goals before Christmas than they did during the entire Invincibles season. It really isn’t rocket science.
TELEGRAM TO FIFA ABOUT THE USE OF VAR
Dear FIFA… Stop.
For all the words that are again being bandied about this weekend, that is all that needs to be said.