Posts Tagged ‘mick mccarthy’

The Six Pointer – Expensive Toys, Retro Formations & more…

07/02/2011

That was the weekend that was. Newcastle vs Arsenal deserves a post in itself!

.

1. Fernando Torres certainly had a Chelsea debut to forget and it will be interesting to see how Carlo Ancelotti fits him in for the rest of the season. The switch to a diamond midfield with Torres and Drogba playing as a pair up front wasn’t a surprise but it was strange to see Nicolas Anelka given the nod in the hole behind them.

I assume the theory was that Lampard’s strength is arriving from deep, something which would be negated if he played at the head of diamond. Chelsea’s success over the past few season has come through playing 4-3-3 and you can’t fit Torres and Drogba in that system and get the best of both.

Torres of course needs time to adapt; despite his price tag you can’t just expect him to instantly understand his new team-mates way of playing. But, given how Chelsea are quickly becoming involved in a battle to maintain a top four position as well as trying to engineer another attempt at the holy grail of the Champions League, Carlo Ancelotti will have his work cut out to solve this conundrum quickly.

An inauspicious start.

.

2. In contrast, Torres’ old team are on quite the run of form at the moment. After overseeing a defeat to Blackpool, Kenny Dalglish has quickly turned things around with some innovative, or should that be retro, tactical moves.

Three at the back has long been out of vogue but Liverpool have used it successfully to stifle the aerial bombardment of Stoke, and now the technical probing of Chelsea. Contrasting attacks but the same result – a convincing clean sheet. The beauty of playing 3-5-2 with wing-backs is that in theory it can work so well – they offer solidity in defence by forming a five but options in attack when pushing forward.

I don’t see Glen Johnson working well long-term on the left but it seems to be successful for the time being.  Of course Dalglish has the same problem as Ancelotti in trying to fit £50m worth of strike force into his team but you feel it will be a little easier with the players at his disposal.

Close enough. Though if this was Stoke they'd play all four.

.

3. Niko Kranjcar’s winner for Spurs against Bolton should give Harry Redknapp some reminder of the talents at his disposal. Notoriously poor at rotating, Redknapp is very much one to stick to the same players until the they get injured or he just doesn’t fancy them anymore. Kranjcar has been one of the unlucky ones this season with just six appearances to his name, totalling a measly 235 minutes.

So much so that ‘Arry bought a similar player in Pienaar in the transfer window, simply because he was available rather than any great need for him. The whole point of a 25 man squad is to use it, not least when you’re competing at the top end of the table and the Champions League. Perhaps he’d find that when he does have to turn to them, they might perform better if they’ve had a few games under their belts.

Niko Kranjcar, Spurs player. Sometimes.

.

4. Following Chelsea and now Man Utd losing to Wolves this season, Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Molineux is looking better and better. It must be frustrating that Mick McCarthy can get fantastic performances against the big sides but then lose to those around him. As with last season, it will be a close run thing whether Wolves go down but there are certainly worse teams in the league this season. They have yet to play either match against West Brom and those two games look like being crucial in determining which of the two sides will be relegated. I certainly don’t think both will stay up.

.

5. Bolton have now lost six straight away games. What was looking like a promising Europa League push is turning into a mid-table season. Part of the reason must be that the previously red-hot partnership of Elmander and Davies have one goal each since late November and Chung-Yong Lee, who had six assists has been away at the Asian Cup. With that in mind the loan signing of Sturridge looks to be a good move both for player and club. Already he’s taken on some of the attacking responsibility with two goals in two games.

He’ll be sure to want prove that he’s good enough to be at Chelsea next season and that motivation can only benefit Bolton. After all, this time last season Jack Wilshere was embarking on a similar loan and is now a starter for Arsenal and in the England squad. If Sturridge can get the goals to fire Bolton to 7th, Bolton may even have a shot at keeping him permanently.

.

6. Ten games produced 43 goals this weekend. As ever, Blackpool played a big part in that and their 25 games this season have seen 87 goals at just three and half a game. I wouldn’t want Ian Holloway to change his approach at all, but for the sake of Blackpool having another season in the top flight, I’d love them to get a 0-0 away from home once in a while!

They'll need an updated version after this season.

.

T.

Season Previews 2010/11 – Wolves

09/08/2010

No particular order to this, just posting as I write them.

Wolves

Last Season: 15th

New Signings: Hunt, Fletcher, Mouyokolo, van Damme, Guediora, Bia

Key Player: Kevin Doyle

One To Watch: Jelle van Damme

Needs A Big Year: Sylvain Ebanks-Blake

Would Quite Like: Another season like last year. Though with a few more goals and wins over West Brom thrown in.

Mick McCarthy wolves

Mick McCarthy and the healthy glow of Premier League survival.

Prediction: 15th

Thoughts: Mick McCarthy did very well last season and finally shed his tag as a manager who can’t win in the top flight. Transfer business was conducted early and efficiently and consisted of buying more players who can complement the ones already at the club.

Steven Fletcher will give Wolves a valid way of playing 442 at home while Stephen Hunt was one of Hull’s few positives last season and gives energetic running, some creativity and plenty of backchat. I don’t see Wolves getting worse nor do I see them particularly improving this year. A few more 1-0s and they’ll be right about where they were last season.

T.

Weekly Photoshop – 2009 Review

23/12/2009

Hello hello, long time no speak. This week there’s no Photoshop theme in the Guardian, merely a collection of the year’s best entries. They’ve decided to not just use the weekly winners (not sure why) hence Emmanuel Eboue gets in from way back in January while October’s effort for Old Trafford Injury Time also makes it.

.

My three personal favourites from this year are as follows:

3. Nicklas Bendtner (more for Ade as Ike Turner):

Nicklas may think he's "simply the best, better than all the rest" but sadly for him Ade is the Ike in this relationship.

.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (proving me wrong to be fair):

zlatan ibrahimovic barcelona guardiola

"Of course you can rely on me in the big games Pep." Zlatan's already epic nose suddenly seems to increase in size...

.

1. Roy Keane (both entries):

roy keane ipswich

There'll be none of this Tractor Boys business now Keane is in charge, it's manual labour all the way...

roy keane ipswich mick mccarthy

Mick McCarthy may have escaped Keane's clutches for now but he'll soon hunt him down.

.

Hope you enjoyed them all, I’m going to try to spend more time on them next year. Alberto Aquilani is first up in the new year.

.

T.

The Six Pointer – Men vs Midgets, Self-Deprecation & more…

30/11/2009

That was the weekend that was.

 

1. Chelsea showed Arsenal what it takes to be champions elect yesterday with a lesson in how to blend skill with power. Up until the first goal Arsenal were in control without really doing anything, though Chelsea could have had a penalty for Sagna’s foul on Anelka. Then out of nothing Cole wasn’t closed down and a great cross came over for Drogba to finish clinically. The defending wasn’t the best. Sagna could have made a better attempt to prevent the cross from Cole and one of the centre backs could have cleared it but it was a great ball in.

A couple of minutes later an almost identical goal was scored. Cole again had time and space to put in a great ball from the left but this time it went in off Vermaelen who was expecting Gallas to clear it. Two quick goals before half time, game over. The second half was notable for Arshavin’s disallowed goal, Drogba’s free kick to wrap up the victory and nothing more.

The game showed exactly how far Arsenal have to go if they are to match Chelsea. Ancelotti’s team had height and strength all over the pitch as well as skill, overpowering Arsenal everywhere. Wenger was missing Van Persie, Bendtner and Diaby who all would have played in this game and perhaps made a difference. However you’d imagine that even with them on the pitch Chelsea would find have found a way to win.

For some reason there was a constant stream of hopeful crosses and medium length passes to the forward line of Arshavin, Nasri and Eduardo, who every time were beaten in the air by Terry & co. It changed a little in the second half but there were mainly lots of runs up blind alleys. Eduardo in particular looked well off the pace and badly needs a meaningful goal while Arshavin continued his peripheral form of this season. Walcott was poor when he came on and there are no true wingers at the clubs, instead lots of inside forward types.

didier drogba ashley cole arsenal chelsea

I find it so hard to decide who I dislike more in this picture.

As for Drogba, Arsenal must be sick of him. Two great goals and an all action performance in tandem with Anelka. He now has 10 goals in 11 games vs Arsenal and has been directly the match winner six times.  I think Almunia should have done better with the third goal; his positioning was wrong (why move behind the wall?) and thus the ball was already in the net before he even reached with his dive.

Wenger can say the disallowed goal was pivotal but I disagree. As in the game against Man Utd, having all the possession is pointless if you can’t do anything with it. The reason why Chelsea and Man Utd have been the two top teams for the past few years is that they can soak up pressure and still win. Arsenal have yet to discover that method.

arsenal weak

What you see and what you get.

 

2. Everton lost again and although there’s no shame in being beaten by Liverpool (actually…) you sense that perhaps Moyes has taken them as far as he can. That’s not to say he isn’t right for the job and the Scot has done wonders with the budget and constraints he has but maybe something needs freshening up.

Everton won’t reach the heights of the past few seasons and the constant long-term injuries to key players means a likely finish outside the top eight this year. With the Kirkby stadium plans rejected and no buyers for the club, the future looks a little uncertain at Goodison.

 

3. Is the clock ticking for Mark Hughes? Seven straight draws now. Funny how you can say they’re unbeaten in ten or without a win in seven. Hughes will no doubt slant to the former but I suspect the owners will be looking at the latter. Of the seven games (Villa A, Wigan A, Fulham H, Birmingham A, Burnley H, Liverpool A, Hull H), only Villa and Liverpool are truly tough games if you have real aspirations to be in the top four, and despite everything said otherwise that is the target. Somehow I don’t think Hughes will get a second attempt if he doesn’t achieve it this season in what is such an open year.

 

4. Hats off to Jimmy Bullard for the celebration of the season. In case you haven’t seen it, he gathered his teammates in a circle and mock scolded a la Tango Man last season. Ironically enough it was at the City of Manchester Stadium again. His return has been the main reason behind Hull’s resurgence and they may yet find themselves in a position like last where they weren’t very good but three teams were worse. He has brought a sense of fun back to the KC Stadium and fair play to Phil Brown for being able to see the funny side of Bullard’s celebration.

jimmy bullard goal celebration man city hull

Genius.

 

5. One of those teams will be Wolves unless Mick McCarthy goes. It took a while but it’s now clear that either the players or the manager aren’t cut out for this level. Time for either to prove that’s not true.

 

6. Birmingham have been doing well of late. They have been hard to break down since the start of the season but Alex McLeish has realised that by adding an extra striker and playing 4-4-2 he is far more likely to rack up the points that will lead Birmingham to safety this season.

 

T.

Season Previews 09/10 – Wolverhampton Wanderers

14/08/2009

wolves

Last Season: Promoted from Champioship (1st)

Say hello to your new teammates: Kevin Doyle, Ronad Zubar, Greg Halford, Andrew Surman, Nenad Milijas, Marcus Hahnemann.

Close the door on your way out: Stephen Gleeson, Darren Potter.

Predicted star: Slyvan Ebanks-Blake. A former Man Utd prospect, he moved to Plymouth and then Wolves and has progressed to a stage where he’s been top scorer in the Championship two seasons running. Still only 23, now is the time to see whether he can cut it in the top flight. Wolves’ attacking style of football will mean he gets plenty chances to score. Double figures in goals is certainly a possibility.

Needs a big year: Mick McCarthy oversaw a dreadful Sunderland side last time he was in the Premier League and he’ll be looking to show that he can manage at the highest level. He finally got Wolves up at the third attempt of trying and he’ll hope that they don’t go straight back down. In terms of players, most will need big years if they are to stay up.

How many can he score?

How many can he score?

One to watch: Nemad Milijas scored 22 goals for Red Star Belgrade last season while Michael Kightly provided 18 Championship assists. Expect to feature heavily in Wolves’ best play this season.

What they want to happen: Survival.

Nightmare scenario: Bottom while Birmingham or Burnley stay up.

Plan A: A strong spine will be supplemented by plenty of flair players who will look to attack at every opportunity. Ebanks-Blake will need to convert a high ratio of the chances created for him.

Plan B, just in case: We’ll score one more than you.

Predicted finish: 16th.

Why? I always believe that promoted teams who go for it are more likely to stay up. There’s no point being hard to beat but only ever picking up draws when you could go all out for a win every three weeks. In that respect Wolves have a great chance of staying up. Their defence is not the best but they have plenty of attacking options to gain enough wins to just about survive. Obviously not everyone will be able to transfer their Championship form to the Premier League but players like Ebanks-Blake should be able to make the step up. Kevin Doyle has already scored for Reading in the top flight and could form a good partnership with SEB.

Cheer up, it could be worse.

Cheer up, it could be worse.

Kightly is an interesting prospect but I think they’ll probably end up relying on Milijas more. As I was saying the defence could be better (52 goals conceded last year) but the signing of Zubar should go some way to solving that. As for Mick McCarthy he should cheer up a bit. People do slate him and I’m not convinced he’ll be the one to keep them up but if he just enjoyed things a little more than the media perception of him might change.

.

T.

Weekly Photoshop – Roy Keane

07/05/2009

SUCCESS! The Sportboys win first prize in this week’s Guardian photoshop gallery as new Ipswich manager Roy Keane provides the inspiration. I win a £100 bet, you get two entries to chuckle over, everyone’s a winner. Everyone except Sportboy P, who won’t be getting any of Sportboy T’s winnings.

 

We’ll start by looking at the strict regime Keane is likely to bring in:

There'll be none of this Tractor Boys business now Keane is in charge, it's manual labour all the way...

There'll be none of this Tractor Boys business now Keane is in charge, it's manual labour all the way...

 

and then focus on Keane’s arch-enemy (well one of many), who for now has escaped via promotion:

Mick McCarthy may have escaped Keane's clutches for now but he'll soon hunt him down.

Mick McCarthy may have escaped Keane's clutches for now but he'll soon hunt him down.

 

The rest of this week’s gallery can be found here.

 

T.

 

Previous entries: Messi, Vidic, Cahill and the rest.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: