Manchester United fly at Eithad stadium

Sir Alex Ferguson did it before. He knows what such a Derby means in the Premier League and how fantastic it is when you win an away game. Sir Alex’s joyful face and the big smile after Manchester United smashed the second only indicated, his former club achieved something special. For this current Red Devils, it was a red-letter day!

Your team reserves a small section of the crowd and are outweighed by the buzz of the home team. It is never easy to silence the home crowd when you are playing against the defending champions at their own den. And for this Manchester United unit under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, doing such things have not been easy – it would be near-unthinkable.  And why not? Against teams like Aston Villa, Southampton, Newcastle United or Sheffield United, Ole’s men were just ordinary. How could such an ordinary side topple Pepe Guardiola’s big boys remains a moot question.

But you know what, in five league matches against their traditional big six rivals this season, they are unbeaten, winning three and drawing twice. Again, they have beaten Chelsea in the League Cup as well. Just when things start to fall apart, Ole fins a way to get going. While the stormy wind is blowing around him, threatening to tear him apart, Ole outclassed Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford. He witnessed the sacking of Marco Silva and he knew, his days as a manager would be outnumbered if he fails to deliver in the next few matches. Well, he gunned down the mighty Manchester City at Eithad.

Something strong certainly binds this Man United side – ordinary against below-par sides, special against top sides. Especially, against top sides, they play without any fear.

Last night, City dominated. They had more control over the ball and orchestrated more attacks. Bernardo Silva, Kevin de Bryune and Raheem Sterling poured into that area since the game started. Ole’s defence did the best thing – block them as much as possible and then give the best shot during the counter.

With two full-backs of Pep pitching high-up a bit more, Anthony Martial, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford advanced like a Hare. During the transition periods, the pace of Manchester United’s forwards is unmatchable.  The Brazilian took full control over the midfield, and set free the forwards – Rashford and Martial tore Manchester City defence into pieces with the little opportunities they achieved. As soon as the opportunity to counter came, United exploited it fully. Two goals were scored in the first half and it was enough to bag full points.

Pepe’s team is missing Leroy Sane, Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero. The decision to play Rodrigo in the central midfield instead of Fernandinho – who is positioned as a centre-back is not helping City at all. Angelino as left-back has been average while Gabriel Jesus is consistently failing to link-up with the guile and pace of Silva, Sterling and de Bruyne.

But still to beat Pep’s team at the Premier League is not at all an easy task. And that also at Eithad stadium. Ole stunned City. Yeah, simply outclassed them despite not being in full control.

Strong defence, a young unit ready to give their best and attack at pace whenever there is a chance to counter.

Let’s see how Manchester United deliver after taming Mourinho and Pep.

Note: this article has been posted at Cricketsoccer as CSdesk on 08/12/2019 Manchester United fly at Eithad stadium   

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Faisal Caesar

Richarlison sets the tempo, Everton smile against Chelsea

It had been a pretty tumultuous few days for the Toffees. One of their most inspirational managers last season, Marco Silva was sacked. The idea to appoint David Moyes as the next manager did not impress the fans and above all, Everton are at risk of getting into the relegation zone. Surely, after showing a lot of promise last season, Everton would not want to discover themselves at the rock bottom. What they needed against Frank Lampard's Chelsea was nothing but the right tempo to start with.

When the matter is about setting the right tempo, none could do better than the Brazilians. The game entered into 5 minutes and many of the spectators did not even manage to fix their focus into the game when Djibril Sidibé sent a high cross into the Chelsea box and Richarlison rose high in the air like Cristiano Ronaldo and powered a header low into the back of the net. Goodison Park erupted. Richarlison brought their smile back and Everton never looked behind since that strike from Richarlison.

The last time Everton scored under Marco Silva, also came from Richarlison and it was a reminiscence of Duncan Ferguson –scoring goals from high in the air or scripting a dive to pass the ball into the net had always been Ferguson’s specialty. They say, alongside Silva, Ferguson always had an influence on Richarlison’s growth in Goodison Park, but the Brazilian just possesses that extra-bit when the matter is about setting the right tempo.

It was his sixth goal of the season, still 7short of last, and the way he excelled since then, one can expect the well-built and lanky Brazilian to surpass his last season’s strikes. His tempo proved vital for the Toffees, who just got better and better as time progressed.    

Dominic Calvert-Lewin, the tried and tested ragged-striker, who has always been chosen since 2016, for his grit, determination and aerial domination, rather than scoring goals, struck twice to write Chelsea off the game. Under Ferguson, ragged-strikers like Dominic are expected to flourish as Ferguson himself was such a product.

Frank Lampard was left pondering how to rediscover rhythm after he loses them. His young men do create moments of thrill-and-chill, but so far, they have not been producing satisfactory results consistently.  Four losses in their last nine games across all competitions is an uninspiring form. 

 Kepa Arrizabalaga is Lampard’s another headache. One cannot term him just average, but so far he has been outright atrocious. Conceding 3 goals from just 7 shots on target, is not good. Chelsea’s brilliant control over the ball always shielded Kepa, but with no Jorginho and Fikayo Tomori around, the control over the ball became lesser. Kepa faced the heat.

Note: This article has been posted at Cricketsoccer as CSdesk on 07/12/2019 Richarlison sets the tempo, Everton smile against Chelsea

Lampard has a lot of work to do still.

But, an inspiring victory for the Toffees.

A much-needed one under adversity.

Everton sack Marco Silva: Another Premier League manager bites the dust

The rivalry between Liverpool and Everton might be a treasured heritage, but on that night at Anfield, it was nowhere near to a rivalry, but a bunch of strong men crushing down schoolboys. Liverpool went eight points clear at the top. While Jurgen Klopp celebrated his one-hundredth match-win in Premier League, at the other end, Everton’s coach, Marco Silva could guess his outcome.

In this season, under his reign, the Toffees had been dismal. Everton were stunned by Norwich City last month, which ultimately started to script his end at Goodison Park. The fans turned on him following the 2-0 defeat against a team, who were at the rock bottom before the kick-off. The pressure continued to build, and Silva just failed to find a way out. He was left as the lame-duck!

Above all, the issues with a poor transfer strategy, injuries, and VAR hindered Silva to a great extent.

Everton spent approximately £117m on players at that time and also recouped £84m from the transfers under previous managers.

Idrissa Gueye was sold to Paris Saint-Germain. Gueye’s replacement, Jean-Philippe Gbamin, made only two appearances. He ruptured a thigh muscle and is yet to make a comeback. Central Midfielder, Andre Gomes suffered a fracture-dislocation to an ankle on November, while Fabian Delph, who was signed from Manchester City, has been haunted by several injuries.

The failure to replace the on-loan Kurt Zouma in central defence also cost Silva. Silva wanted Zouma’s signing a priority, but the Brands were more interested in signing the 19-year old striker Moise Kean from Juventus. Alongside Richarlison, Silva demanded a more experienced forward. Kean dented Silva’s plans – Kean has not scored in 13 appearances in total for the club.  The £29m-singing had been such a waste.

Everton have sacked Silva midway through a three-year contract. He follows Roberto Martínez, Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce as managers sacked in Moshiri’s reign and the under-23 manager David Unsworth had also been there on a temporary basis.

Everton’s hierarchy, where Brands is a part, had divided opinions in between them before sacking Silva, but in the end, another Premier League manager bites the dust.

 Silva won 19 matches from 53. In this season, Everton are at risk of being the relegation zone. But for all this, how much Silva could be blamed remains a moot question. Neither had he had the fortune nor the support to gel his team. The world demands result despite all the setbacks. Failures have no mercy. Silva has to go!

Note: This article has been posted at Cricketsoccer as CSdesk on 06/12/2019 Everton sack Marco Silva: Another Premier League manager bites the dust  

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Faisal Caesar 

Jose Mourinho lose at Old Trafford

Jose Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford. After arriving Mourinho shook hands with the security guard and club’s photographer with the warmth, which was missing during his tenure as the manager of Manchester United. There was no sense of revenge floating in the air, but all Mourinho sending was friendliness. That fearsome competitor underneath and aggressive body language, which made Mourinho one of the best managers in world football, had not been evident.

Perhaps, he wished to be too friendly and thus, made some tactical bulnders. Playing Mousa Sissoko as the closest player to Serge Aurier did not prove worthy enough. As Goal stated, “Solskjaer could hardly have believed his luck, with his game plan of getting the ball into the Spurs right-hand channel paying dividends immediately”.

By playing Sissoko alongside Harry Winks as the pivot led Delle Ali to move up front and Tottenham Hotspur lost a third midfielder. Manchester United were gifted with spaces: Jesse Lingard wandered freely and exchanged plenty of passes along with Scott McTominay and Fred. The Spurs backline came under pressure consistently.

The surprising thing was despite having the opportunity to fix that midfield, Mourinho did not opt for that. As time progressed, Ole’s young guns took full control over the match. Spurs started to lose their identity and exhibited carelessness in possession. The backline failed to garner any support from the pivots  and Paulo Gazzaniga was tested.

Mourinho is the Special One and none can argue against that. But his his habit to remain hellbent in some of his decisions, automatically, paves the way for his downfall. And, he does not wish to correct them.Being whimsical and hellbent is good for the reporters, but for a particular team, such things pay a heavy price.

Note: This article has been posted at Cricketsoccer as Csdesk on 05/12/2019 Jose Mourinho lose at Old Trafford

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Bob Willis is dead: Cricket has lost a friend

Bob Willis was fast. In the 70s he excelled as a tearaway fast bowler, but more often his name was sandwiched between the likes of John Snow, Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, and Andy Roberts. But the English lad was never bothered by that. He consistently ran like a Hare to sent down cannonballs at an astonishing pace. Neither the lad was afraid to bowl at the likes of Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Majid Khan or Zaheer Abbas. Even if a Viv or Greg hooked his fast-bouncers, he would send another one targeting the head. The English lad had the cozones.

They say when John Snow approached at the popping crease to bowl, firecrackers used to lit; but the same can be said about Bob aka “Goose”  nicked named for his loose-limbed approach towards the crease. When the matter was about unleashing the true beast and hostility with the ball in his hand, Willis was close to Snow, Fred Trueman and Frank Tyson.

Injuries crippled his career more often, but Willis was mentally so strong that he never decided to surrender but came back stronger to hunt his prey. The six-feet-six-inch lanky figure walked casually towards the crease, started his run and that curly-brownish-auburn-hair flew in the air dishing out a sight to watch for the cricket followers around the globe in 70s, when cricket really became a hit on television. Among the big boys of the game in 70s, he established himself as one of the members, who would command respect from opposition players.

Willis became a part of cricket’s folklore when he bundled out Australia for 111 to trigger an epic 18-run win on that eventful day at Leeds in 1981. Ian Botham essayed a masterclass to give England the slightest of chances to turn things around, and Willis’ 43 for 8made sure, Botham’s epic does not go in vain.

The following year, he was announced as the skipper of England replacing Keith Fletcher before the tour to Sri Lanka and India. Willis inherited a weak England side with the likes of Graham Gooch and Geoff Boycott joining rebel tours in South Africa. Still, he managed to beat India and Pakistan at home and lost to Australia 2-1 Downunder in another memorable Ashes encounter. He eld England in World Cup in 1983 only to be knocked out by the champions India in semi-finals. In 1984 West Indies scripted another Blackwash. The third Test at Leeds against West Indies would be his last.

 Bob retired as England's leading wicket-taker, and second in the world overall, behind Australia's Dennis Lillee in that summer of 1984.

After retirement, Willis took the microphone on his hand and became a renowned cricket pundit at BBC and Sky Sports. He was lethal and logical as a commentator. Never, ever stepped back to express what is justified. He was a fearsome critic and his straightforwardness had been praised all over.

Willis was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016.

On December 4, 2019, Willis died leaving everyone sad.

Bob Willis was a proud Englishman. A legendary cricketer. A great cricketing brain. A true friend of the game.

With his death,  cricket has lost a friend.

Note: This article has been posted at Cricketsoccer as CSdesk on 04/12/2019  Bob Willis is dead: Cricket has lost a friend

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Faisal Caesar