•"It is the first time United have conceded five since 1978 and the first time they had let in four goals in the first half since 1957!" —Solskjaer
•If you believe that Everton’s meteoric rise to the pinnacle of the Premier League table is due to newly signed players, you would be wrong
It’s Partey time at Arsenal
After a crazy weekend of results Monday’s roller coaster transfer window meant agents, clubs and players were glued to their telephones, negotiating mega deals and players switching clubs in 24 hours of frantic bargaining.
Arsenal emerged as possibly the winners when they finally got their man. Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey is now a Gunner. To employ Partey before the transfer window closed, Arsenal club lawyers had to hand over a cheque to pay the full transfer fee, the club then had to agree to pay a 10 percent agent’s fee and the personal terms for the player.
Finally, representatives of Spain’s La Liga had to e-mail confirmation of the deal to the Premier League to complete the international deal. This might all sound simple but when you consider that Arsenal have lost 55 administration staff during Covid-19 and the fact that they have already signed big deals to get Willian and Brazilian defender Gabriel, you can see that the situation was anything but straight forward. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has backed all the deals and covered club revenue losses caused by Covid-19.
Manager Mikel Arteta considers Ghanaian Partey as a vital part of his team jigsaw and he now has a strong midfield anchorman who will also improve his defence. Arteta said this week that he can mould this squad of players into a real title challenging unit. I was also told how delighted Arteta was to lose midfielder Matteo Guendouzi who has been shipped out to Hertha Berlin on loan.
Cavani will score goals says Solskjaer
Ole Gunner Solskjaer is a genuine Edinson Cavani fan. The Uruguayan striker has long been a target for the manager. However, Jadon Sancho took precedence but that was not to be. Cavani comes in as a free agent as his contract with Paris Saint-Germain had expired and the player himself was determined that United was where he wanted to go. When I spoke with United this week, I was told the club is convinced it has landed a bargain, despite Cavani being 33 years-of-age and his weekly wages of £225k doesn’t upset the club pay structure.
Cavani said, “United is one of the greatest clubs in the world and I am honoured to be here. I’ve worked really hard during the time off and I feel eager to compete. I cannot wait to experience the passionate supporters’ atmosphere when the fans return. I had a long conversation with the manager and this has increased my desire to wear this beautiful shirt.”
Solskjaer added, “His goal-scoring record for club and country is fantastic and we are delighted to sign a player of his calibre. He’ll bring energy, power, leadership and a great mentality to the squad but most importantly, he’ll bring goals.”
Despite his star name and reputation, Cavani is a team player. Solskjaer thinks his first priority is to build on Cavani’s ability to poach goals much like Vardy, Kane and Salah. He is brilliant at meeting balls sent in from the wing and converting them into goals. United, however, do not have natural wingers and it is questionable that the team can deliver the sort of balls which will bring the goals. Solskjaer has already started working with his assistants to improve the quality and number of balls sent into the box.
Ake and Torres impress at Man City
On Monday at the Manchester City training ground, Pep Guardiola spent a lot of time with John Stones. After his team’s recent mixed results, Guardiola is looking to strengthen his defence and despite recently losing injured strikers Aguero and Jesus he is concentrating on sorting out his leaky back-line. The manager was quick to both spot and point out that new signing Nathan Ake gave Stones confidence and the two worked very well together. Unfortunately, Stones was unavailable last weekend but Ake can expect a lot of game time based on his impressive start and the two will hopefully be the successful pairing so desperately needed by Guardiola. Another excellent signing, Ferran Torres, has also started well and impressed Kevin De Bruyne. The star Dutch midfielder said this week, “He has a lot of quality and puts pressure on himself to succeed. I saw it in training, he is a young guy and the way he has started proves he will be dangerous and sharp. He is going to help us win games.”
Klopp and Solskjaer share headache
What do Ole Gunner Solskjaer and Jurgen Klopp have in common? They both woke up with bad headaches following their matches last weekend. Last Saturday and Sunday were the most remarkable two days of Premier League football I can ever remember. Records were broken as Liverpool crashed 7-2 to Aston Villa and Manchester United were thrashed 6-1!
United’s stunned Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward looked on in disbelief. He was breathing heavily but it wasn’t coronavirus which caused him to catch his breath. It was the disaster unfolding before him and he felt the pain. I cannot imagine what he said on Monday when he phoned the American Glazer Brother owners to give his weekly report. No wonder United were busy scrabbling on Monday trying to bring in new players to strengthen the team.
Villa have won three out of three at the start of the season for the first time since 1962. Liverpool’s high defensive line was exposed by Villa’s pace and power. The last time Liverpool conceded seven goals was 1963! Both Jurgen Klopp and Ole Gunner Solskjaer are frustrated that the 10-day international break has arrived when they could have worked with players to try and find out what went wrong on this extraordinary weekend. Oh, and by the way, when the season resumes after the international break on the 17th October, Liverpool meet their bitter top of the table local rivals Everton at Goodison Park!
Meanwhile high-flying Leicester also had a reality check as West Ham beat them 3-0 with Brendan Rodgers standing helpless in his technical area. Their talisman full-back Ben Chilwell had gone to Chelsea and Leicester looked much weaker for it.
Ancelotti is reason for Everton success
If you believe that Everton’s meteoric rise to the pinnacle of the Premier League table is due to newly signed players, you would be wrong. Ten of the current team were playing for Everton 12 months ago. The difference is the superb coaching of Carlo Ancelotti. Twelve months ago, those same players had just lost their fourth game in a row and Everton were in the bottom three in the table. Midfielder Tom Davies has been talking about the changes at the club and the new spirit and mentality brought about by playing a new style under Ancelotti.
Davies said, “The gaffer has made changes and they have worked. He and the staff here are fantastic. From the start, they gave us the confidence to go out and play.”
However, Ancelotti’s greatest success so far is bringing in James Rodriguez. Davies says, “He’s incredible to watch. He can produce things from nothing. We have players who can win games and it takes the pressure off. I can learn so much just by watching what he does. Even in the gym…I can see what he’s doing and it shows me I can do more. What people do not see is the amount of work he’s prepared to do.”
Everton are top of the league and everyone at the club believes they can stay there.
Manchester United shambles 1-6
Disjointed, no passion, a shambles, disorganised and no genuine love for the club. They were all comments I heard after Manchester United’s last game. Regrettably, I can reveal to you that there never was a real recruitment plan. Jadon Sancho was never going to happen and now Edinson Cavani coming in is seen as a beacon of hope but at 33 and a great career behind him, the jury is out on that one. He has a lot to prove to United supporters. Luke Shaw said United need players, good players coming into the dressing room and showing leadership. Now they have one in Cavani and we will see how that goes. Is Ole Gunner Solskjaer safe and could another manager get more out of this team? Previous manager Louis Van Gaal thought he was half-way to putting together the team he wanted and then he was sacked. Mourinho also said he was half-way before he too was shown the exit sign. I noted that Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward was looking down at the two managers during the United v Spurs match. I wonder what he was thinking as Mourhino, who he had sacked, was thrashing his replacement Solskjaer. It cannot have been anything but a reflective moment. I am assured from within United that Solskjaer will not be sacked during the international break. However, if things do not improve before the next break in November, then he is likely he could go. Solskjaer has done a good job with the players available to him but this team is not good enough to genuinely challenge for the title. …Finishing third was a superb achievement but this season is going to be much more difficult.
Liverpool have signed Jota & Thiago, Manchester City spent £150m but United have not dramatically strengthened their squad. After the match Luke Shaw said, “We showed lack of concentration, a mistake, another mistake and we switched off. It is embarrassing. We let fans, ourselves and staff down. We have good quality but we need to look at ourselves. We are nowhere near it at the moment.”
Solskjaer said: “It isn’t about individual mistakes, it was the whole team.”
This is a record equalling defeat and United will have to work hard with players who are not on international duty. Their defence still needs reinforcing. Solskjaer added, “We were too passive and I expect more passion.”
It is the first time United have conceded five since 1978 and the first time they had let in four goals in the first half since 1957! Solskjaer said it was the worst day of his playing or managerial career since joining United. Club legend Patrice Evra says, “The players must stay compact, be completely focused but the international break is worst for us. All the players have to stick together and I wish some were not going away as it will be 10 days before they meet again.”