Manchester United : Bluff and bluster over Sanchez
IF football transfers are often a game of bluff and double-bluff, with a dose of mischief thrown in, then
For those who may have missed the previous episodes, here's a quick recap: Sanchez, arguably Arsenal's best player, refuses various contract extensions to his deal which runs until
The January window arrives and even
It is hard to read things differently. Sanchez is a "phenomenal player" who, despite an unsettled season in a poor team, has chipped in with goals and performances. But he is a winger/forward hybrid and United's team already includes a gaggle of young players in that role:
The fee isn't outrageous - even for a 29-year-old on an expiring contract - but the wage commitments would be huge with Sanchez holding all the cards. And you would imagine other areas, like midfield and defence, would be greater priorities for Mourinho.
That is why City's contention that they won't budge from the Pounds 20m offer and, if need be, simply pick him up for free in the summer, makes sense. It also makes sense for Sanchez: a chunk of the Pounds 20m City would save could go into his pocket in wages.
As for United, it feels like a half-hearted attempt. But it keeps Mourinho in the headlines for something other than the puerile war of words with
We are so accustomed to evaluating clubs and managers based on cliches of the "table-never-lies" variety that we often miss the evidence under our noses.
Under Hughes, Stoke finished ninth for three consecutive seasons. They dropped to 13th last year, but they were also only three points away from finishing eighth. Heading into the weekend, ahead of tomorrow night's trip to Old Trafford, they had slipped into the relegation zone and that, presumably, is what led to Hughes' sacking.
You imagine Stoke will replace Hughes with someone who gives them a better chance of staying up and, whether or not he achieves that goal will determine whether sacking the Welshman was the right decision, at least in the popular narrative. But then what?
The reality for clubs like Stoke is that in the modern, polarised game, they won't be finishing in the top six. Those three straight ninth-place finishes were Stoke bumping their collective heads against the ceiling. This was their
If that is going to be their benchmark, they have to accept the fact they won't reach it most years. And, in fact, the gap between ninth and relegation is just one or two bad, or unlucky, games. That's the reality for clubs in their position.
Hughes' mandate was to rid the club of
It is not news that the margins between success and failure are slim or that the stakes are high: we keep repeating this endlessly. What is, or should be, surprising is how often clubs continue to think a managerial change can have more of an impact than simply a change in fortune.
THE suggestion that
Why someone with those credentials, or lack thereof, should be magically teleported into one of the biggest jobs in women's football is difficult to comprehend, beyond some kind of media stunt. Then again, it is in keeping with the treatment the women's game often continues to get, even from the
Last week, their equivalent of Match of the Day was actually presented by a current player,
Nobody bats an eyelid. Nobody sees a conflict. Nobody even raises the possibility that a journalist or professional presenter or even a retired pro-turned-pundit might be a more appropriate choice.
Hopefully not because it's just "all a bit of fun". Like
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