Posted: 27 February, 2017 by Matt Bellotti

EPL Matchday 26 talking points

Tags: Football, EPL, Soccer

Ranieri, just quickly

Other leagues don’t seem to have the mawkish sentimentality towards coaches that the Premier League does. Elsewhere in Europe it’s generally felt 2-3 years is a good shift as manager. You need to keep that role fresh, and the identity of the bloke on the sidelines is secondary to the overall approach of the club and direction of football. Yet not so in England where it was a “disgrace” that Claudio Ranieri was sacked last week.

In his time at Leicester, Ranieri won the league, an achievement matched by very, very few – in fact never by a single English manager. So, well done mate. But if he stays in his role the team is going down.

What this decision proves is that in the Premier League, staying in the league is more highly valued than winning it.

Which other sport can you say that about? 

Kane. Good God.

He’s even better than you think he is.

There’s so much to this player. He isn’t an old fashioned number nine at all. His ground covered is amazing, he has superb technique, he’s good with feet and in the air, he finds space, knows just when to get his shot away, his link-up play (especially with Dele, with whom he’s shared 63 goals since the start of last season, but also Eriksen, Son and the whole Tottenham midfield) is outstanding, and he creates perfect space for those around him.

He is complete.

He’s also a natural in the ring…umm…box. 


Don’t rule out Everton catching United in 6th. Or even Liverpool if the Reds suffer injuries to key players.

The Toffeemen are in brilliant form, top four form in fact.

And the reason is arguably the best signing of the January window (alongside Southampton’s pick up of Manolo Gabbiadini).

Morgan Schneiderlin, for some reason, did not work out at Manchester United. Their loss.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Morgan Schneiderlin of Everton and Raheem Sterling of Manchester City during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on January 15, 2017 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

At Southampton, when he was fit and playing they had top four form. Now he’s fit and playing for Everton, they have top four form. It isn’t coincidence.

Since going to Goodison Park, no player in the Premier League has completed more passes.

He is setting the tempo and dictating play so that the likes of Lukaku – one of football’s most prolific marksmen – can do his thing, and keep play away from a defence re-finding its feet.

As I say, United and Liverpool may well want to focus on catching those above them. But they shouldn’t rule out getting caught themselves. Morgan and his merry men are on the charge. 

Doping At Dean Court

Who doesn’t like Bournemouth? There’s so much to like. Tiny club, good football, great coach, small ground, they’re the feel good romantic story in the Premier League. Except…

They’re not.

The reason Bournemouth achieved their historic, unprecedented promotion, was by breaking Financial Fair Play regulations in the Championship.

And to add to financial doping, this week Bournemouth have now accepted an FA charge of a breach of anti-doping rules.

While this merely means players have missed tests (apparently due to inaccurate player records on three separate occasions), not necessarily that they are doping, it isn’t a great look. And the rules are clear, and followed by the other teams in the league.

Makes you wonder if the only way teams as small as the Cherries can compete at this level is bending the rules. Which is both possible and faintly depressing. 

The Cursed Cup

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Jesse Lingard of Manchester United celebrates with the trophy during the EFL Cup Final match between Manchester United and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

The League Cup is called the EFL Cup this season, a name even less likely to stick than calling the NAB Cup the JLT Family Charity Challenge Experience Of A Lifetime or whatever the AFL has coined it this year.

90 of the 92 league teams had long given up all interest in the tournament by last night, which is sad as there are some big clubs who haven’t got close to winning anything whose fans would love a day at Wembley.

So well done to both United and Southampton for putting on a highly entertaining final. Both obviously wanted to win and their managers knew what silverware means to the players and their clubs.

However is United’s win all good news?

Going by past winners of this tournament - whatever name they give it - not so much.

Winning it in 2009 wasn’t enough for Man Utd to hold onto Cristiano Ronaldo, and Chelsea overtook them in the league to do the double.

Spurs two wins in the past 20 years have seen the manager who won it sacked by the time the next final came around.

2011 winners Birmingham were probably the unluckiest of all, possibly celebrating their underdog win over Arsenal too much, tumbling to relegation and never coming back to the top flight.

A year later Liverpool needed penalties to overcome Cardiff. But the season was otherwise a great disappointment and “King Kenny” Dalglish was sacked that summer.

Michael Laudrup was another League Cup winner sacked before the following final, as he completely lost the dressing room at a nosediving Swansea City.

As was Manuel Pellegrini last season, City’s owners – perhaps understandably – wanting a manager proven in the Champions League rather than the English League Cup.

So, well done United. And good luck. 

Tweet Of The Week

Liverpool fans look away now.

This guy noticed that if United won last night, Liverpool’s official twitter bio would be inaccurate. So he told them. And just before last night’s game, they duly changed it.

Just when United fans thought waking up this morning couldn’t be any more satisfying… 

Matt Bellotti


Matt is the only member of The Greenfield Post team to have been to an Auto Windscreens Trophy Final, the Malaysian FA Cup Final, trained at Trent Bridge, and watched all nine tiers of the English football league pyramid – which he thinks makes him better than the rest of us.

He supports (not “barracks for”) St Kilda because, like the England football team, the only moment of success in their long history came in 1966. Bloody Poms.   

Tags: Football, EPL, Soccer

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