One Step Forward, Two Midfield Steps Back

Isn’t crazy how things in football change within year? Within that year, you could carve a name for yourself or unfortunately destroy a reputation you spent most of a career creating. Almost 12 months ago, news broke that Manchester United had managed to pull off the signing of Radamel Falcao to the delight of United fans and surprise of rival fans. The excitement amongst the fans was understandable, high numbers were being thrown about as to how many goals he, Van Persie and Rooney could get between the 3. Especially as Man Utd had just signed Di Maria, there was a sense of 07/08 about the attacking talents LVG had at his disposal.

We are now coming towards the end of the season and those numbers forecasted by fans look like a joke in comparison to reality. Falcao has 4 in 23, RVP has 10 in 26 and Rooney has 14 in 32 , which I am sure we can all agree is poor by their standards but why is that the case? Age? Injuries? Deterioration? it could quite possibly be all of the above! However something that has not been mentioned as much are the guys behind them. Yes, the midfield. LVG has tinkered with formations all season in an attempt to accommodate his best players, despite his preference of the 4-3-3 but one thing has remained, the playing style: A controlled possession approach. What has that got to do with our strikers you may ask? Van Persie was once described by Gary Neville as a backdoor burglar and Falcao could even be thrown into that category. They are 9’s with predatory instinct in finishing couple with cerebral movements. They gamble making countless runs in between the centre backs. Rooney is a different type of striker. A false 9 one who roams around the pitch in search of space yet he has been used as a 9 in the mould of Falcao and Van Persie. Anyway, I am sure we know that so enough about the strikers’ traits, let us move onto midfield.

For most part of the season, Man Utd have gone with a 3-5-2 and anyone who watched us during that period would have noticed how lethargic we were and the lack of variation we had in our passing but the formation is irrelevant as it happened when Utd went with 4 at the back, as well. The issue, for me, stems from the passing amongst our midfielders. It was slow, pedestrian, sideways passing that turned a blind eye towards the movement of our strikers. Think QPR, West Ham and Burnley away. What Falcao and especially RVP rely on is the early ball. i.e (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPf-lrsAId0) RVP goal away at West Ham FA Cup – notice how early Giggs hits that and, more importantly, it is FORWARD complimenting RVP movement. The same pair are at it again vs Olympiakos to win the penalty. Another Example (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DjLzd0vQ8o) RVP vs Villa, Rooney gets his head up and it is about 5 touches in total. That is RVP at his best. If I were to pick moments from this season, which is very few and far, here are some examples RVP vs Leicester (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0v7b8dU_9U) that starts from a pass from Rojo in his own half and 3 touches later it is in the back of the net. Rooney vs Newcastle (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3BcjkCGDYg) Mata gets his head up and picks a peach of a pass into Falcao’s path, who peels off his CB. These are sporadic moments throughout the season so far. LVG earlier said he didn’t have a 20 goal striker. He could not be more wrong. He has 3 but it is how has the team gone about the business and maybe a misquote due to English being his second language. I have not mentioned Rooney much because he has played the majority of the season in midfield but recently LVG has restored him up front, to which he responded well. Coincidentally, however, that came in the run where our midfield upped the tempo and added a variation of passing to their game however he has started to tail off and the Red Devils are no closer to solving this problem that they have.
Over the weekend, United visited Goodison Park and left with their tails in between their legs. One thing that struck me was the similarity in that game and the same game a year ago against the same opposition. It was how the midfield performed – it was slow. It was unimaginative. It was sideways. It was like the possession you do whilst warming up and it was no surprise that Rooney, who many had called for to lead the line because of his ‘energy, pace and ability to run into the chanels’, looked as ordinary as his pals Falcao and RVP. At times, I feel sorry watching our strikers, especially when the players in midfield seem to have this horrible trait of turning a blind eye to the runs that the striker makes and only slinging the ball into feet when RVP/ Falcao/ Rooney are tired of making runs and come short to be involved, only to be surrounded by defenders (Not too dissimilar to the incident that led to the goal at Stamford Bridge) .
One idea Man Utd could explore is going into the market but if they were to go into the market, it would have to be a striker in the mould of Tevez, Suarez and Aguero, who like to get busy and are not reliant on the service of their team-mates, unlike regular no.9s. Another option Utd is right in front of them, in the shape of Angel Di Maria on the bench. Despite his annoying tendency to cross the ball from ridiculous areas of the pitch, he has probably been the only player, Herrera aside, to play that penetrative and imaginative pass. Cast your mind back to Mata’s overhead kick or how about the second half of the QPR away game or his off the bench cameos where he has seemed to be on the only person able to appreciate the forward runs of our strikers, but can be lacking in the execution of his attempt. I personally would love to see that and believe it would be the key into giving our strikers life again.

So what do you think? Are Manchester United in need of new strikers or are the lads behind them doing them an injustice?

@Pitchside_Mark

038 TF Football Podcast – Wengerites v Moucolts

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Weekly Football Podcast.

This weeks show we recap on this weeks Champions League results and preview the Semi Final Draw, giving our opinions on who we think initially will progress.

We discuss the big London Derby between Arsenal and Chelsea this weekend, as a battle between the Wengerites and Moucolts commence.

We also talk future Ballon D’or winners, the potential signing of Ilkay Gundogan for Manchester United and your listeners questions.

Todays guests –
@Lewbob91 (Host)
@TheRegista_ (Mickey)
@Whodeknee (Morayo)
@MrMeeds (Ife)
@OlBanks_ (Ollie)

Follow @touchlinefracas on twitter and visit www.touchlinefracas.co.uk for articles and older podcasts.

Any enquiries email touchlinefracas@gmail.com

 

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14/15 Team of The Year

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The PFA will be announcing their ‘Team of the Year’ in a matter of days, it is bound the cause some controversy as it does every year, for example the inclusion of Steven Gerrard last season.

We’ve asked a number of people to give their Premier League Team of The Year, we’re going to accumulate the votes and make a ‘Touchline Fracas Team of the Year’, which im sure is bound to change when we do our next Podcast on Friday. But anyway, what the hell, lets get cracking.

@Adje_0 has gone with a 2-3-3 formation because he didnt feel like any Full backs were worthy of his Team of the Year. So his team is Dea Gea, ?, Fonte, Terry, ? Cazorla, Matic, Fabregas, Sanchez, Kane, Hazard.

@Myosapien (Leroy) has gone into tremendous detail for his Team of the Year, he actually should have his own article, but I will briefly summarise his team as best as I can, I’m sure he will elaborate further on the Pod on Friday. Unlike Adje, Leroy has found some Full Backs worth putting in his team using a 4-2-3-1 formation. De Gea, Trippier, Terry (Reliable, Dependant, Solid, Wanker, Rent Boy) Fonte, Cresswell, Schneiderlin, Matic, Sanchez, Cazorla, Hazard and Kane

@Elliskco_I (Ellis) hasn’t taken this exercise seriously I don’t think. He has gone for a 4-2-3-1 with Courtois, Clyne, Skrtel (Yes he has put Prison Break’s Martin Skrtel in, and yes Ellis is a Liverpool fan) Terry, Azpilicueta, Fabregas, Matic, Sanchez, Hazard, Sterling, Costa.

@AliquaScripto (Elijah) brings us back to the realms of sanity with a traditional 4-4-2 of De Gea, Clyne, Fonte, Terry, Bertand, Schneiderlin, Fabregas, Sanchez, Hazard, Costa and Kane.

@BabaMalt (Ayo) continues the trend of a De Gea, Terry, Fonte defence, with Trippier and Bertrand as the Full Backs in a 4-4-2. Sanchez, Matic, Cazorla, Hazard, Kane and Costa

@MrMeeds (Ife) has gone for De Gea, Clyne, Alderweireld, Terry (C) C for Cunt presumably and Azpilicueta. With Matic, Cazorla, Hazard, Sanchez, Costa and Kane  making up the 4-4-2

@JuniorXVII (Junior) De Gea, Clyne, Terry, Fonte, Monreal (the hipster in Junior shineth), Fabregas, Matic, Alexis, Hazard, Aguero and Kane in a 4-4-2

@Pitchside_Mark (Mark) has chosen De Gea, Clyne, Fonte, Terry, Bertrand, Hazard, Schneiderlin, Cazorla, Sanchez, Kane and Aguero in a 4-4-2

Lastly but definitely not least as I am the person who is writing this article, @Lewbob91 (Lewis). I have gone for De Gea, Monreal, Terry, Fonte, Azpilicueta (Yes I know he has played Left Back, but I cant leave Nacho man out), Cazorla, Schneiderlin, Hazard, Sanchez, Kane and Costa in a 4-4-2.

So lets tally up those Votes and come up with a Touchline Fracas Team of the Year.

GK – Dea Gea (8 votes)

RB – Clyne (5 votes), CB – Terry (9 votes), CB – Fonte (7 votes), LB – Azpilicueta/Bertrand (tied on 3 votes)

RW – Sanchez (9 votes), CM – Cazorla (6 votes), CM – Matic (6 votes), LW – Hazard (9 votes)

CF – Costa (5 votes), CF – Kane (8 votes)

Follow all the lads who participated in this article on twitter, aswell as the @TouchlineFracas account.

Contact touchlinefracas@gmail.com for any enquires.

The Man United Front Three

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Over the years, Manchester United have always been renowned for possessing top quality strikers within their ranks. I mean, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole and Ruud Van Nistelrooy are not bad names to have leading various lines right? And that’s just naming a few. The question is though, Rooney aside, what is next for the current crop of United front men?

Robin Van Persie is first name in question. The former Arsenal star is currently sidelined through injury, which has been a prominent trait throughout his career. Prior to his latest setback, Van Persie looked a shadow of the player he once was, often appearing a little disinterested under both David Moyes last year and compatriot Louis Van Gaal this season. Though always dangerous, it seemed a certain sharpness was missing from his game and this has been evident in the fact that the former multiple-time Premier League top scorer has only notched 10 times in 24 appearances this campaign. It has been highly touted that this could be the 31-year old’s final season with the Red Devils, who has reportedly been lined up as a make weight in a deal involving Paul Pogba and the best part of £50m.

Radamel Falcao has been one of the most talked about players in the Premiership for all the wrong reasons. The Colombian has scored a paltry 4 goals so since arriving on loan from Monaco sparking huge debate, whether or not United should opt to make his loan a permanent deal. There is absolutely no doubt that Falcao has the ability to succeed at the top level, as proven for both Porto and Atletico Madrid, but since the serious knee injury that kept him out of the 2014 world cup, he has never really looked the same player. It would be a huge risk for United to pay the £35m to make his switch permanent considering the fact that the likes of Chris Smalling and Ander Herrera have outscored Falcao during this campaign.

United currently have a couple other talented strikers on their books in Javier Hernandez and James Wilson, with the former out on loan. Hernandez has struggled for games during his time at Real Madrid yet has shown glimpses of legitimate quality during his career in Europe. For one reason or another Chicarito has never been given the opportunity to be a first choice marksman since arriving from Mexico in 2010, though he possesses a pretty decent goal scoring record with almost a goal every 4 games. Not too bad for a back up striker. It seems as if Hernandez will also leave Old Trafford with a host of Premiership sides including West Ham and Southampton frequently linked to the Mexican if gossip columns are anything to go by.

James Wilson on the other hand looks to have a future at the Manchester club. The 20-year old featured regularly in the early stages of the season making 12 appearences in the senior side before dropping back down to the reserve team, where he has flourished ever since. Wilson also showed glimpses of a bright future, and Van Gaal’s use of the young front man will only spur him on to return to first-team fold and ignite a potentially successful career for years to come.

With the likelihood of a number of these players departing Old Trafford, there will definitely be some movement in the summer for attacking. And if not,then I guess there’s always the man in form Marouane Fellaini. Not looking so bad after all.

By @BinnzyLohan49

If you too would like to publish your content on our website, contact touchlinefracas@gmail.com or @touchlinefracas on Twitter

Take a listen to this weeks Podcast ‘No Signs of Distress’

037 TF Football Podcast – No Signs of Distress

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This week’s Football Podcast covers all the topics over the last 7 days including a discussion about the nominations for the PFA Player of the Year and the PFA Young Player of the Year. Should players be allowed to be nominated for both awards? Could we suggest a new system, which would allow the award to be given to less established young players?

We also discuss this week’s Champions League games, including the Pep-Bayern medical scandal, another game that Real Madrid has failed to beat Atletico, Barcelona putting on a masterclass in Paris and Juventus showing Arsenal how to beat Monaco at home.

This weekend’s FA Cup matches also are discussed but not for the reasons you may think. We talk about how the fixture between Arsenal and Reading clashes with the Premier League crunch game between Chelsea and Manchester United, both kicking off at about 5.30pm. Does this undermine the FA Cup? And what possible reason would the broadcasting companies have done this for?

We move onto a rather heated debate over the definition of the term ‘World Class’, with a rather one sided debate of Neymar v Muller, as well as a random unplanned debate of Mandzukic v Giroud.

We conclude this week’s show with a recap of our predictions from the start of the season, including some comical false predictions over Harry Kane.

Guests this week – (Give them a follow on Twitter)

Lewis – @Lewbob91 (Host)

Ayo – @Babamalt

Morayo – @Whodeknee

Ife – @MrMeeds

Ol – OlBanks

Leroy – @Myosapien

Kane – @TheRegista_

Feel free to download our football podcast on Itunes, listen via Soundcloud or visit our website www.touchlinefracas.co.uk.

Follow us on Twitter @TouchlineFracas and if you have any enquires to do with our football podcast contact us via email touchlinefracas@gmail.com

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Champions League or Championship?

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As the season reaches its climax and with so much yet to be decided, whilst we don’t really have a much desired title race, we seem to have fights everywhere else in the table.

We asked Touchline Fracas Pundits to predict who they feel will be playing in the Champions League next season and who will be playing in the Championship.

@EverydayAlexis

I think, Chelsea, Arsenal, Utd and City
will get top 4, mainly because I think city will get it together and their home form will make sure Liverpool don’t overtake them.

Relegated I think Sunderland, Burnley and Leicester. Mainly because Sunderland have been on a downward spiral since Poyet left and I think it’s their time.

@MarcoReubs 

Top 4 will be Chelsea, Arsenal, United and City. Liverpool and Spurs are too far away to catch City who despite their poor form have the individual quality to stay 4th.

Leicester, Burnley and Hull will go down. These teams don’t have the necessary quality to survive in my opinion. Burnley are well organised but they must turn more draws into wins. QPR and Sunderland will survive by the skin of their teeth.

@Pitchside_Mark

Top 4 will be Chelsea, Utd, Arsenal and City – title seems pretty much a given for Chelsea, picked Utd to finish 2nd just because the momentum and new found confidence and I see Utd beating arsenal at Old Trafford just to pip 2nd, arsenal and City I expect to win more or less the majority of remaining games thus qualifying for the Champions League

Relegation, Sunderland, QPR and Burnley Burnley. I reckon Leicester will escape the drop playing a lot of teams around them at home and I don’t think Burnley have much quality, QPR Jekyll and Hyde and Sunderland are woeful.

@JuniorXVII

Top 4:

With Chelsea limping to the finish line and top 4 veterans Arsenal picking up the pace behind them, the two Manchester clubs are my pick to swallow up the remaining two Champions League places this season. The ‘Talent vs Passion’ duel between City and Liverpool has tended to go in favour of the Merseyside club when the two sides meet of late. City however still have the offensive quality to steam roll their remaining 6 opponents regardless of form, rendering it difficult to see The Reds bridging a four point gap before the season closes.

Bottom 3:

With all 3 newly promoted sides predictably struggling to cope with the Premier League, I predict only one of these three to survive; leaving Burnley QPR and Hull (facing a tough run with United, Spurs Liverpool and Arsenal still to play) to fall back down into the abyss of lower tier football.

@Elliskco_I

I think the top 4 will remain as it is, Chelsea have a manager who is a regular winner of titles, so his experience in that position will come in good stead. But this is football, stranger things have happened, in terms of the top 4, Arsenal and Man Utd are in good form, they will continue till the end, I think arsenal will come 2nd as they seem to have the easier set of fixtures. Man city will finish 4th, they look bereft of confidence and their key players look uninterested and out of form, but having said that, they have too much quality to drop any more points. (Sorry Liverpool fans no Champions League football).

The bottom 3 will contain Leicester, Burnley and Sunderland, all 3 teams are running out of games, they have minimal quality to main a consistent drive out of the relegation zone.

@BabaMalt

Top 4 will stay the same. Liverpool don’t deserve to be in the Champions League spots if they have Henderson taking set plays and their best CM playing centre half.

I’m not sure on whose going down but I hope burnley pull off something miraculous. Done well in games this season and I like their manager and how they work hard for each other. Hull are doomed. Their fixture list is looking like death row. Fans might as well start planning the minibus routes in the championship.

@AliquaScripto 

I think Chelsea, Arsenal and both the Manchester clubs are going to finish in the top four. These teams’ ability to score goals are what separate them currently and I think it will be the telling factor in the end. Liverpool’s top scorer has 7, Spurs don’t get many outside of Kane and Southampton are lacklustre in that department too. Spurs’ defensive problems hold them back too.

Injuries are probably going to consign Hull to the drop along with QPR and Burnley. Leicester have shown good spirit in recent weeks and have 5 home games of their 7 left. I see them putting a run together that will just get them out.

@Swagadore

I think Chelsea, United, City & Arsenal top 4. That’s just me going with the safe most likely bet, because I’m naturally cautious. I think the expectation on all of these 4 teams is to finish top 4 & they have the most to lose if they don’t make it. I think that pressure could bring enough motivation out of the players if these clubs to help them achieve their individual targets.

I can’t lie though. My opinion about the bottom of the table is more useless than Welbecks goal threat. Sorry I can’t be helpful on that account – Swag

@Myosapien

Top 4 Chelsea – miles ahead winners. United picking up form at right time look difficult to beat will prob beat Arsenal at home on this form and finish second. Arsenal form at right time players fit looking good but both teams playing well will prob show old deficiencies tactically and prep wise against a team as good playing as well so will lose to United. City in free fall but have enough to finish top 4 closest contenders will be Liverpool may push city to the line the way the league is lining up especially if City lose to Spurs

Relegation interesting Leicester have most games at home have been competitive all season and play a few teams in an around in some old fashioned 6 pointers some may not be done yet but likely to go down. Sunderland dismal will go down, QPR to go down also and I Hope Burnley stay up if so Dyche manager of the year. Just an Honorary mention to Crystal Palace and Pardew for the miracle turn around

@Lewbob91

Top 4 – Chelsea, United, Arsenal, City. As an Arsenal fan it kills me to say United will finish above us, but maybe I’m just trying reverse psychology. The Top 4 will remain as it is, I just can’t see Liverpool, Spurs or Southampton even, having enough about them to overhaul a free falling City. Current Top 4 for Champions League.

Relegation – Its tough, but I think Sunderland and Hull are in huge trouble at the moment, the fight from Burnley and Leicester will see them safe, which means QPR will be playing Championship football again next season.

Thanks for reading, be sure to leave your prediction at the bottom of the page or tweet us on Twitter @TouchlineFracas where we will be sure to RT your opinion.

Contact touchlinefracas@gmail.com for any enquires including writing opportunities and dont forget to listen to our weekly Podcasts!

Take a listen to our Latest Podcast here ‘Zero Hour Contract Rosicky’

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036 – TF Football Podcast Zero Hour Contract Rosicky

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A weekly football podcast

We’re back and firing as we discuss the title race, the top 4 battle and we answer your listeners questions. Including the Herrera v Ramsey debate, would you sell Jack Wilshere? and Would you swap Sterling for Walcott?

Featuring

@Babamalt, @MickeyKane_, @S3L_VCC, @Lewbob91, @Myosapien

Follow us on Twitter @touchlinefracas

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034 – The Reverse Oracle

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Welcome back to another Touchline Fracas Podcast. On this week’s show we delve into the weekend’s fixtures, giving our thoughts on the ever intriguing Top Four Race as well as the battle for The Title.

The week’s main topic of debate comes from Chelsea fan @MrMeeds who believes there is an unfair and frequent mistreatment of Chelsea FC from Refereeing officials and The FA. We discuss as to whether there is actually a ‘Campaign’ against Chelsea FC and what the reason behind it may be.

We also take your listeners questions on a wide variety of topics including Anders Herrera, Louis Van Gaal, and a debate on who plays the best football in the Premier League. You can send in your listener’s questions to be answered on the pod throughout the week by sending them on Twitter to @TouchlineFracas. Get involved in the discussion by tweeting your thoughts to us and using the hashtag #TFPod.

We appreciate all your support, please feel free to give us a review on Itunes, Soundcloud or even a tweet to voice your thoughts on the podcast, both positive and negative feedback is welcome, we’re always looking at ways to improve the Podcast both in content and quality.

You can find our guests on Twitter @;

Host – @Lewbob91

Morayo – @Whodeknee

Ife – @MrMeeds

Ayo – @BabaMalt

Mickey – @TheRegista_

Reuben – @MarcoReubs

Gaz – @MidknightGaz

Ol – @Olbanks_

You can email us at touchlinefracas@gmail.com or find us on twitter @TouchlineFracas

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033 – The Deloitte Football Money League

 

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A weekly Football Show

This Weeks Guests ;

Host – @Lewbob91

Ayo – @A_D1su

Morayo – @whodeknee

Sel – @S3l_VCC7

Ellis – @Elliskco_I

On this week’s show we discuss the 2015 release of the Deloitte Football Money League.  We break down just exactly why Manchester City and PSG find themselves in the top  10, as well as the impact obscure investment has on the footballing world.

We also discuss the factors around the Premier League having all 20 Premier League clubs in the top 40 of the DFML, as well as the advantages and disadvantages this may bring to English Football.

We give our top 10 rankings of the biggest clubs in Europe based on our own formula, the Touchline Fracas top 10 clubs in Europe. Check out our previous podcast on Finances in Football here 

We also answer your listener’s questions, and as per usual delve into some random football chat.

Thank you for listening once again, we hope you enjoyed the show. Please show your support by telling your friends about us, sharing the show around, liking us on soundcloud or leaving a review on Itunes. You can submit feedback or questions about the show to @TouchlineFracas on Twitter or touchlinefracas@gmail.com

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032 – Bye Bye Sponsors!

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Weekly Football Podcast

On this weeks show we are joined by regulars

Ayo – @A_D1su
Ife – @MrMeeds
Morayo – @Whodeknee
Leroy @SoAc3y
Daniel – @Swagadore

Host – @Lewbob91

Follow @TouchlineFracas on Twitter

This weeks show we discuss;

– The Ballon D’or award
– The weeks football news
– Your listeners questions!

Thanks for listening, we’ll be back next week.

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