Is this really the best eleven – Dan Raywood guest blog

Today saw the announcement of the PFA team of the year.

 Unsurprisingly the team was dominated by players from Manchester City (5), Spurs (3) and Chelsea, Man United and Liverpool got one player in each.

 PFA team of the year:

GK | David De Gea
RB | Kyle Walker
CB | Jan Vertonghen
CB | Nicolás Otamendi
LB | Marcos Alonso 
MID | David Silva
MID | Kevin De Bruyne
MID | Christian Eriksen
FWD | Harry Kane
FWD | Mohamed Salah
FWD | Sergio Agüero

It is unsurprising that Manchester City dominated this team, as they have dominated the league. But in the case where U2 are the greatest band, does that mean that The Edge is the greatest guitarist? Of course not, there are some sublime guitar players in this world, and would The Edge be as revered if he were in a different band?

 To drop the analogy, my issue here is with the inclusion of Sergio Aguero. To be very cynical, has this really been an outstanding season for Aguero? Yes he’s third in the goal scoring charts, but no one really mentions him as being in the form of De Bruyne, Sane and Silva – a lot of players could count themselves as being very unlucky to not be selected.

Think the likes of the of Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane, Dele Alli, Glenn Murray and Ashley Barnes, they can count themselves unlucky to have not been included.

Is it the case that some players are in great teams, and therefore are better? Arguably yes, but I do wonder if the PFA are looking at an easy spine, and rest are filled in by looking at the form teams.

 As for the problem positions, well De Gea has been the outstanding goalkeeper this year when some others have faltered, and the overall poor form of Chelsea and Manchester United has left some players, who should have been outstanding (hello Pogba, Lukaku. Morata) very much in the B team.

Overall it is hard to pick fault as apart from De Bruyne and Salah, the rest of the top 11 have had consistent patches of form but I do wonder if a better representation of the league would have been better for all.

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Half a scarf, fully a fan – Dan Raywood guest blog

This week in Spurs – we lost our main goalscorer to a major ankle injury, got knocked out of the Champions League and season ticket prices came out. For some clubs that may seem a lot, but with Spurs now very much in the news headlines these days it is not unusual to see the club mentioned a lot.

Another story, which relates to that Juventus game at Wembley last week, caught my eye though. Issued via the Supporters Trust, it said that some Juventus fans had got tickets in designated home supporter sections.

I can guess that among those of you reading this who regularly go to games, you’ve sat among fans who are not supporting the same team as you. Doesn’t have to mean you are supporting one of the teams playing, you’re just backing one of the sides. I’ve had my experiences – one was sitting with a Leicester City fan with free tickets to an away game at Barnsley, sitting among the home fans (we made it a policy to punch each other when Leicester scored, which happened twice…thanks Wikipedia.)

However the release from THST states that “such supporters will only be asked to leave the venue if it is felt they are antagonising home fans”, in other words come along and enjoy the game – but don’t act like an idiot. Surely that has to be a good thing? Many is the time I watch football coverage, live or highlights, and I see empty seats. Any one has to watch West Brom at the moment to see the swathes of empty seats at the Hawthorns. Should neutral fans be encouraged to come along?

The other claim by the report is that it is hard to spot fans when they wear similar colours and half and half scarves. So is the answer to ban half and half scarves? Unlikely. But I bet at the weekend some football tourists would have bought a Man Utd v Liverpool half and half scarf, it’s an occasion to be at after all. Would you go to Barcelona v Real Madrid and not spend a handful of euros on a half and half scarf?

The answer is for better stewarding and for them to watch the crowd and be better at crowd management. Those who witnessed the invasions at West Ham United at the weekend will attest to that.

Enjoy the game, and behave yourselves. The person behind, next to and in front of you has paid a lot of money for that ticket.

 

Match of The Doy – The 100th post

Well here we are, the 100th post in the blog that is known as Match of The Doy. It started three years ago though as Strictly 442, playing on the popular tv show and the old school formation. The name change in fact came via a couple of work colleagues. I’d have liked to have reached 100 posts sooner, but external issues such as my depression often got in the way of my writing.

The game of football is something that I have always enjoyed and knowing that I’d never get to be a footballer or a journalist, blogging would be the best alternative. I could write about what I wanted regarding the game however long or however short and at my own pace. I haven’t though written every post in the blog. I have been fortunate to have guest bloggers in the form of Dan Raywood on a number of occasions and Victoria Sharkey on a lesser note. Dan has more often shared his thoughts on Spurs related stuff together with the post reflecting on matters elsewhere.

Not only guest posts, but I have had the pleasure to have some Q&A posts with the Portsmouth CEO Mark Catlin, thanks to Liam Earley and Gay Gooners and Pride In Football’s Joe White. This came through another good friend and the previously mentioned Victoria Sharkey. The idea of the Q&A session posts were to find out more about the off the pitch stuff that happens in the game. I look forward to adding more as and when I can.

This season has seen me take on the predictions game for the Premier League. It has to say the least been an interesting path. Not so many accurate scores as I would have liked but the end results have often been chalked up more. Given that Watford and Burnley have been giving as good as they have got, they are hot on the heels on a top ten spot.

This year I had the idea of the Flashback 40 which was to share posts relating to my growing up over the years. It hasn’t always gone to plan, but you should look out for the France 98 retro review. This was one of my favourite World Cups and I have made slow progress but almost completed the group stage review. I thought it would be a good idea to look at each group….I do like giving myself a challenge. Thankfully though it will be completed for this year especially as I will be finishing work on the 14th December for the year, so no excuses.

So what does Match of The Doy look like for the next 100 posts? Well more of what you have seen already and other stuff, more from Dan Raywood and hopefully other guest bloggers joining the fray. Whatever happens though, it will be fun and interesting, so thanks for reading and keep on following.

In the Firing Line? – Dan Raywood blog

Today in football, West Bromwich Albion fired their manager. So what some of you may say, football managers get fired all of the time? Well there are two factors to this that make it interesting.

Firstly, the former manager Tony Pulis has never got a team relegated. The team is skating close to the edge this season, but the likelihood of relegation looks slim bearing in mind the manager’s past capabilities.

The second factor is the appointment this summer of Gary Megson, who served as manager of WBA many years ago and this summer returned to the club as assistant to Pulis.

So why is this interesting? Well Pulis will likely get another job and do a satisfactory job at another club, although a move to Wales looks likely. What about WBA? They could go with someone completely different and the fans will be left figuring out what will happen – will the new manager play a different game, more open and attacking and get the club relegated? If so, what does that make the fans think of the consistency of Pulis?

Also, did the appointment of Megson undermine Pulis? Was the intention all along to remove the head coach and replace him with a fan favorite?

It’s all so hard to tell when you’re on the outside, but in the case of football management as with other professions, the supporters are the customers in this case and the returning legend is seen as the saviour. With a short transfer window opening in just over a month, West Brom’s fortunes could stay the same, improve or get worse, and if things do get worse, the fans will long bear in mind that Pulis was never relegated as a manager.

 

NLD – Now (the) League (table looks) Different – Dan Raywood blog

So it turned out to be one of the most one sided, well from a goals perspective anyway, north London derbies for years. The result leaves the red side of North London happy and the Wembley tenants of Spurs less than happy.

In a way, you could see it coming. Great results and performances against Liverpool and Real Madrid were followed by a scraped win against Crystal Palace, and Arsenal unbeaten team aside, a team needs to have an off day at some point.

Apparently today was one of those days. Spurs looked disorganized and only Hugo Lloris played well in my view. The majority of the game was played in midfield or in Spurs’ half, and then the Arsenal offense had figured out how spurs were going to play and used that in their own tactics: playing through the middle and on flanks against two left backs who did not have the strength of Rose and Aurier.

Spurs will go back to the drawing board ahead of the away game against Dortmund on Tuesday night. Arsenal now find themselves in the top four a point behind Spurs, and without the distraction of a champions league tie ahead of them. Spurs will just be glad that they have already qualified from the champions league group, and can focus on giving Son, Llorente, Foyth and a returning Eric Lamela (played today for the under 23s) a chance to get some game time.

As for me, I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the weekend and glad I got so many chores done during a dismal game.

Never Appoint Your Heroes – Dan Raywood

They All Count

After a fantastic performance against Real Madrid in mid week, the next game was always going to be a challenge to meet the same excitement.
As it turned out, the early Sunday kick off against Crystal Palace was my first Spurs game of the season and one that found me initially surprised to find that it was an early kick off, but ultimately delighted that I got my afternoon back.

At the time of writing, I’m heading back home from the game and it’s about an hour and 10 minutes since full time. That’s why I don’t go to many games in truth; it’s great that Spurs stayed in London but the journey home is a chore.

As for the game, well Spurs made several changes from the team that conquered the European Champions and saw a debut for goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga as well as continued presence of Aurier, Winks, Son and Rose – who you may seem to be from the second string of the first team squad.

All in all, the game was relatively uninspiring and not full of incident. Palace have had their challenges on and off the pitch so far this season, and with a vocal traveling support and the strength of Zaha, Cabaye and ex Spur Andros Townsend, they have the potential to succeed and stay up this season.

For Spurs, it was a laboured performance that didn’t see Harry Kane at his best, saw Son miss an absolute sitter and generally saw good performances from Sissokho and Vertonghen. Man of the match for me was the impressive Davison Sanchez, but that is an example of how well distributed the ball was and how cool he was under pressure.

This won’t be my last visit to Wembley, but I’ll be delighted when the team return to Tottenham as while Wembley does suffice, every fan knows that this is a temporary situation and while Spurs can produce some classy performances, there are games they will have to scrap for and as the headline says, sometimes you have to do that as all of the points count.