Categories
Sports UK

Ince insists “the jury’s still out” on Fernandes amid Cantona comparison

Paul Ince insists the “jury is still out” on Bruno Fernandes despite an impressive 12 months at Manchester United.

The playmaker will celebrate his first anniversary at Old Trafford later this month but has already made a huge impact.

An inconsistent United were languishing in midtable last term before his arrival catapulted them up the table.

Ince though has highlighted the lack of expectation Fernandes is having to deal with in Manchester amid comparisons to Eric Cantona.

The Frenchman was signed in 1992 and tasked with delivering the title, a challenge he rose to.

Fernandes meanwhile is not playing with the same pressure, although that may be about to change.

Bruno Fernandes has been deadly in the final third

An unfancied United side are level on points with leaders Liverpool and Ince believes now is the chance for the Portuguese star to prove his worth.

He said on Sky Sports: “The jury’s still out. Cantona came into a team who were under pressure to win the title. Manchester United, this year, are not under the pressure to win the title.

“We didn’t expect them to be up there challenging the likes of Liverpool and [Man] City.

“But now the pressure’s on because they feel they can win the title. That’s the mark of a top top player – what he does when it actually matters.

Eric Cantona was the final piece of the jigsaw for Man Utd in the 1990s

“Listen, I’m not saying that’s going to be the case, he’s certainly got the qualities to do it.”

Fernandes has scored 27 times for the Red Devils since his move from Sporting Lisbon.

The 26-year-old has helped inspire them to eight wins in their past 10 league games.

United haven’t ruled England since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last triumph in 2013, but Ince reckons they will be sensing a chance.

He said: “They’ll be smelling it. No one’s getting away from anyone at the moment. We’ve seen the table. They’ll feel they’ve got as good a chance as anybody to win this league.”

Categories
Sports UK

Houllier gave his life to Liverpool – who wouldn’t be where they are without him

Phil Thompson said it best earlier this year, as he reflected on the enduring legacy of his friend and managerial partner Gerard Houllier.

“Gerard has respect, but I don’t think the fans truly appreciate what he achieved, what he did for the club,” the former assistant boss explained, on the eve of a first title in 30 years.

“He nearly gave his life for Liverpool, he gave so much of himself to rebuild the team and the club. He transformed everything; laid incredible foundations.”

Gerard Houllier did give his life to the club. His club. A self confessed football obsessive, he acknowledged that fact in the days following his return to duty, after surviving a life-threatening dissection of a heart aorta, which saw him given only hours to live.

Gerard Houllier passed away aged 73 on Monday

He won titles with PSG and Lyon, but Liverpool was always his spiritual home, after arriving at Anfield as joint manager alongside Roy Evans in 1998, before assuming full control until his eventual messy dismissal in 2004.

With news that the Frenchman has passed away, aged 73, following more heart surgery in Paris, thoughts immediately turned to that day back in 2001, when he collapsed during a game against Leeds at Anfield, and only the quick thinking of club medics – and the crucial intervention of a specialist – saved his life.

“He’ll be grateful for the years he had since he died the first time, because he died on the operating table, and they brought him back,” Danny Murphy, one of his Liverpool players that day, explained.

“We thought he’d had a minor heart attack but it was massive. What he went on to do was remarkable considering what he went through.”

The Frenchman first joined Liverpool as co-manager with Roy Evans
The Frenchman first joined Liverpool as co-manager with Roy Evans

Liverpool are keen to repeat last season’s success – and you don’t want to miss a thing, surely?

From all of Liverpool’s updates to the must-read Reds stories, get them straight to your inbox without fuss by signing up for the fantastic Mirror Football newsletter!

It’s been an extremely interesting start to the season for Jurgen Klopp’s men.

They got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, before going on to conceded seven in a hammering by Aston Villa.

Virgil van Dijk’s season was ended by injury in the 2-2 draw at Everton, leaving the title favourites looking far less secure at the back – especially with Alisson’s injury worries too.

But there’s no slowing down in what is going to be a busy campaign – with Klopp ensuring his men continue at full pace as they bid for more title glory.

The easiest way to keep up with everything going on at Anfield? It’s by signing up.

Put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

What he did, was not only transform the careers of young players like Murphy, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher – as they have touchingly acknowledged – but the fortunes of Liverpool Football Club, by paving the way for what followed as Anfield’s first foreign manager.

Yet his legacy isn’t as fondly remembered as some, despite his important place in the Liverpool canon, because there wasn’t quite the affection – or blind loyalty – as with other important managers in the club’s history.

Houllier was a complex man, but he had genuine humanity. Like Jurgen Klopp, he genuinely cared for people, but unlike the present boss, wasn’t always able to translate that into his management style. There was Gerard the man, and Houllier the manager.

Houllier on the touchline with trusted No.2 Phil Thompson
Houllier on the touchline with trusted No.2 Phil Thompson

His relationships were often fraught, as he waged a campaign to change the culture surrounding the club, and eradicate what he saw as “a drinking environment”, and introduce “21st century discipline and attitudes”.

Yet even amidst feuds with players and press, he was capable of touching gestures – sending a card to one reporter on a mother’s death, when no other manager would have taken the time to learn of the sad occasion.

He acted with ruthless intent at the end of his first season as sole manager, selling the club captain Paul Ince, after saying privately he was a coward for coming off with an injury when 1-0 up at Old Trafford.

“My captain should only have come off on a stretcher,” he said brutally.

Liverpool won an illustrious treble under Houllier's leadership
Liverpool won an illustrious treble under Houllier’s leadership

He introduced a team ethic, and as Murphy said, “We won trophies because of our discipline, not our talent.” But that was his downfall too – an obsessively rigid emphasis on tactical discipline, which eventually led to fear within the team, and negative football.

It led to bust ups with many players, turning off talents like Robbie Fowler, but even though they warred, the Liverpool legend is adamant Houllier was a “genuinely nice man”, and his passing is such a “sad, sad loss.”

Houllier delivered a memorable cup treble in the 2000-01 season, but his greatest achievement was, along with Arsene Wenger (and Sir Alex Ferguson), helping transform English football into a modern, scientific environment, with truly professional standards.

Where does Houllier rank among the greatest ever Liverpool managers? Have your say below.

Houllier gave his life to Liverpool and will be remembered as one of the greats
Houllier gave his life to Liverpool and will be remembered as one of the greats

 

On that emotional return in 2002 he took back control of a Liverpool team he said were “10 games from greatness”, and later admitted he said it because, as a passionate student of Anfield history, “it was something Shankly would say”.

But he wasn’t quite a Shankly despite having many of his traits, and those words brought pressure and defeats in the Champions League to a good Leverkusen side, and in the Premier League to an Arsenal team who proved to be truly great, matching their perspiration with the inspiration which Houllier’s Liverpool ultimately lacked.

He should be remembered as a pioneer though, and a remarkable, lovely man with great humanity. As a man who gave his life to Liverpool.

“You never leave this club,” he once wistfully said, and he is still there.

Without him, Liverpool would not be the club they are today.

Categories
Sports UK

Van de Beek thinking “what have I done?” as Man Utd transfer questioned


Donny van de Beek must be sat at Manchester United thinking: “What have I done?”

That’s according to former Red Devils captain Paul Ince, who is apparently baffled by Man United’s capture of the Holland international.

United splashed out £35million on Van de Beek this summer after giving up on signing top target Jadon Sancho.

Van de Beek has made a handful of appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils, but is yet to start a game in the Premier League.

And Ince is the latest among many to voice his confusion over the signing.

Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Leicester vs Wolves, Ince said: “They’ve spent £40m on Donny van de Beek and they’re not playing him.

Donny van de Beek is yet to start a game in the Premier League

It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.

To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

“I don’t know why they signed him. Maybe there’s a situation where Pogba could be going at the end of the season and Van de Beek could come in.

“But if you’ve spent £40m on a player, you put him in! Put him in the team. No disrespect to Fred but do me a favour… Fred’s OK. He’s OK.

“He doesn’t score goals, he doesn’t set up goals. Midfield players are supposed to score goals. Even when you watch him shoot – he can’t shoot!

“That’s why you spend money on players, but then you’ve got to put them in the team. Bruno Fernandes came in and was straight in the team.

“Van de Beek must be sat there thinking, ‘What have I done?’.

Paul Ince is apparently baffled by Man United’s decision to sign Van de Beek

“Recruitment at United has been really, really poor. They’ve always had money to buy players. If you bring players in for those big amounts and you’re not playing them but the team is winning, then great.

“When you don’t play them and the team isn’t getting results, people will start questioning Ole about recruitment and results.

“Those two factors combined are going to put pressure on Ole. Recruitment and results.”

Should Donny van de Beek be starting in the Premier League? Have your say here.

* Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip





Source link

Categories
Sports UK

Ex-Man Utd midfielder Paul Ince urges Paul Pogba to leave Old Trafford


Paul Ince has called on Paul Pogba to leave Manchester United after the midfielder was benched for the third match in a row.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named Pogba among the substitutes for the 0-0 draw with Chelsea, with Scott McTominay and Fred preferred in central midfield.

Pogba was also on the bench for the 4-1 win at Newcastle last weekend and the 2-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain in midweek.

United chose to extend Pogba’s contract at Old Trafford until 2022 earlier this month, but the France international remains heavily linked with what he described as a “dream” move to Real Madrid.

And Ince would have no qualms if Pogba chose to quit the Red Devils after Solskjaer’s latest team selection.

Ince says it is time for Pogba to “move on” from United

“Paul Pogba should be on the pitch, this is a big, big game,” Ince told beIN Sports .

“For him to be sitting on the bench and watching, with no disrespect, McTominay and Fred playing in his position, I would be saying, ‘I must be doing something wrong if I can’t get in this team’.

“I know he has had an injury and he might be trying to bring him on a little later on, but I think it is time to move on. He has come out in the last two weeks and said he wants to join Real Madrid.

Should Paul Pogba leave Manchester United? Have your say here.

Pogba came off the bench in the second half against Chelsea

It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.

To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

“I think his performances since he has been here have been inconsistent. Paul Pogba is a world-class player and when he moved to Old Trafford I thought, ‘great’.

“But all he has done is been a problem. The fans have gone against him and now Bruno Fernandes has come in and shown what you need to do to be a Man United player.

“He has performed consistently and Paul Pogba hasn’t done that and that is why he finds himself on the bench.”

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.





Source link

Categories
Sports UK

Frank Sinclair leads calls for black managers to be given equal opportunity


For Frank Sinclair, visibility is one of the key factors in tackling racism in football.

Of the 90 Premier League and EFL clubs in England, only four are currently managed by coaches from a black or ethnic minority background.

The pathway for former black players to managerial roles is still strewn with barriers, while their white counterparts have no such obstacles.

Former Chelsea, Leicester and Burnley defender Sinclair is in a new role as head of coaching development with League Two Port Vale, passing on his knowledge to the next generation.

But the 48-year-old wants to see more done to ensure greater representation for black managers and coaches, and to afford them the same equality of opportunity as their white colleagues.

Sinclair has been appointed head of coaching development with League Two Port Vale

“What I do see is a lot of lip service and a lack of action,” said Sinclair.

“When I look at my black peers who’ve played the game and gone into coaching and management, there are so many I think ‘have they really had a fair opportunity?’

“Take Paul Ince, who captained England and played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, but had to start his managerial career at Macclesfield Town.

“Then, in recent times, others are getting better opportunities higher up, when you look at Steven Gerrard at Rangers and Frank Lampard at Chelsea, who had similar careers to Paul.

“There just seems to be an imbalance in the opportunities black coaches are getting, when they finish playing and go into coaching and management – the visibility is poor.

Ince began his career with League Two club Macclesfield Town

“Unless we get equality of job opportunity, it’s always going to be difficult for black coaches to inspire the players playing now, who are thinking of going down that same route.

“If they can’t visibly see it, it’s not encouraging them to say ‘I’m going to go down that route and get into coaching and management.

“If you can’t see it, it’s very difficult to have that ambition.”

It is not just in coaching and management where there is a lack of diversity. At the very top positions at the FA, UEFA and other administrations, there is little or no black representation.

“Look at what Paul Elliott has done at the FA, at governance level and for equality in the game,” said Sinclair.

It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.

To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

“But when he attempts to get on the board, one he’s supported for so many years, and he’s voted against being a board member, that sums up the lack of inclusivity at the top of the game.

“It’s okay to be helping out, encouraging or advising on matters of diversity or a lack of representation in the game, but they’re reluctant to make these people equal.

“Until that happens, there’s always going to be a problem.

“Until the likes of Jason Roberts, who is doing unbelievable work with CONCACAF, is able to join UEFA, they’re never going to know what he’s gone through and why he’s on a mission to strive for diversity.

Sinclair would like to see black figures given transformative roles in UEFA

“As much as we talk about it, unless you’ve experienced racism, it’s very difficult to have empathy with what it really feels like and what needs to be done to deal with it.”

Sinclair who won the FA Cup, League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup as a player, cited Port Vale as a progressive, forward-thinking club with a commitment to diversity and equality.

“There’s a handful of clubs you can look at, in terms of their coaching staff, the way they’re set up, and say ‘there’s diversity there’,” said Sinclair. “I’d include Port Vale in that.

“From having a black head of coaching and an Asian head of the academy, it was something I wasn’t aware of, but these things need to be cherished and talked about.”

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip.





Source link

Categories
Sports UK

Robbie Savage: Bale will be loved back at Spurs – but he won’t win trophies


Gareth Bale is British football’s most successful export since fellow ­Welshman John Charles, and it’s understandable if he is coming ‘home’ to Spurs to feel loved again.

But I don’t see Bale’s return to the Premier League adding to all the trophies he won at Real Madrid.

Maybe, after a couple of injury-hit seasons, he is not quite the same match-winner Tottenham sold for a then world record £85million seven years ago, but Bale is still a world-class player.

And given everything he has achieved at Real Madrid, his success at the Bernabeu is under-appreciated.

For me, Bale’s record stands comparison with any of British football’s best ­players abroad – from the great Charles at ­Juventus, to Kevin Keegan at Hamburg, Tony Woodcock at Cologne, ­Michael Owen and Steve ­McManaman at Real Madrid, Paul Ince at Inter Milan, Paul Gascoigne at Lazio and Gary Lineker at ­Barcelona.

And Bale should be revered in Spain with the very best imported legends. Just look at his stats, which stack up well in comparison with some of the ­biggest names.

Bale scored no shortage of key goals during his time at Real Madrid

He has scored 105 goals, won 13 ­trophies, ­including the Champions League four times, and his overhead kick against Liverpool two years ago was the greatest goal in a major final I’ve seen.

Compare that with the great Zinedine ­Zidane, now his coach at Real: 49 goals, six trophies and that world-class volley against Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League final.

Compare Bale’s ­record with Luis Figo: 57 goals, seven trophies.

And compare it with Brazilian legend Ronaldo: 104 goals and three trophies.

Bale has scored more goals and won more trophies than those three. So he is up there with the greats.

Bale gives the thumbs up back at Spurs’ training ground

Where will he fit in at Tottenham?

Jose Mourinho is tactically more astute than I can ever hope to be, but I would play him just off Harry Kane in a ­central role.

That is where he has the best chance of manipulating the ball on to that deadly left foot and ­influencing the game.

Bale offers relief to the goalscoring burden on Kane’s shoulders

With Kane and Bale, ­Tottenham will lift the whole club, lift the supporters and it should give them a better chance of lifting trophies this season.

I’m not sure it will be enough to outweigh ­Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea’s squad depths, but it will make Spurs an even more fascinating watch this season.

After some of the ­hostility aimed at Bale by ungrateful sections of Real Madrid’s support, I can understand him coming home to a club where he will feel loved.

But for footballing ­reasons, I fear his return to Tottenham may have come a couple of years too late to win trophies.

Will Gareth Bale be a success back at Spurs? Have your say below.

Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip





Source link

Categories
Sports UK

Liverpool owners must trust Klopp in transfer market to make club ‘sustainable’


Paul Konchesky has been looking back on his move to Liverpool 10 years ago and feels that “being a London boy” might explain why he bombed.

A label which didn’t really affect Paul Walsh, Michael Thomas, Paul Ince, Glen Johnson, Joe Gomez or others.

Maybe a more telling reason was that, performance-wise, Konchesky made Liverpool’s second-worst left-back signing, Julian Dicks, look like Carlos Alberto.

He wasn’t the lone failure in Roy Hodgson’s only summer as Liverpool manager. Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Brad Jones, Milan Jovanovic, Danny Wilson, Raul Meireles and Jonjo Shelvey also arrived and made as little impact as the man who signed them.

It’s why FSG, the owners who came in and sacked Hodgson, have been determined to operate a prudent strategy ever since – which is taken personally by many thousands on social media who annually fixate on a player and demand he’s signed.

Thiago Alcantara could be what Jurgen Klopp needs to give his midfield an extra attacking edge

Two years ago it was Nabil Fekir, last year Pepe. Looking back, it’s fair to say neither were missed.

This year it’s Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, and with only Kostas Tsimikas brought in as Andy Robertson’s back-up, with the money received from Dejan Lovren’s sale, the Twitter fumes are toxic.

Especially as all their rivals, including Everton, are waving around the cheque book.

But maybe this time they have a point. Liverpool haven’t made any major signings for two years and of the outfield team that lost the 2018 Champions League final, only Joe Gomez has come in for Lovren and Fabinho for James Milner.

The rest, with the possible exception of Gini Wijnaldum, have been automatic choices when fit. That’s a lot of games between them. And little variation in style – leading to a feeling that tactically the squad needs more flexibility and some high-quality fresh legs.

Klopp appears to agree with that. Whenever he’s been asked about transfer plans he has hinted that he’d like to bring in players but is operating on a different financial level to his nearest rivals. Which rankles with some fans, who point out Liverpool have reached two Champions League finals and won the Premier League in the last three seasons.

New CEO Billy Hogan’s opening message was that the club “is about trying to create a business that is sustainable”.

But is it sustainable to ask the same small squad which racked up 196 points over two seasons in the world’s toughest league, to hit the same phenomenal levels again, without an injection of quality?

FSG need to trust Jurgen Klopp’s judgement after he led Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League triumphs in successive seasons

FSG are right to point out they’re taking a big hit with Covid and can’t gamble with the future. But which club isn’t? And when you have a man like Jurgen Klopp at the helm for the next four years, is backing his judgement in the market that much of a gamble?

I think Liverpool will spend. There’s a long way to go in this transfer window and as the deadline approaches there will be demand for the likes of Harry Wilson, Marco Grujic and Xherdan Shakiri, which could bring in a minimum £50million. Wijnaldum could also engineer an exit to Barcelona.

If that doesn’t raise enough cash to plug the gaps in the squad, FSG would be wise to stump up the cash. Because Klopp needs cover in central defence, a new point of attack from midfield, which would be Alcantara, and an alternative striker, possibly Ismaila Sarr or Adama Traore.

Liverpool need to freshen up their attack, with Ismaila Sarr an option

Sign up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

From the latest transfer news to the agenda-setting stories, get it all in your email inbox.

Put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

This isn’t 2010, and the manager isn’t Roy Hodgson. Looking at Klopp’s track record, they can feel confident the players he covets will deliver.

It’s admirable that Hogan’s priority is a sustainable business model. But having got back on their perch after 30 years, surely the main thing they need to sustain is keeping the team at number one. The rest will follow.

With Manchester City strengthening an already formidable squad, and possibly bringing in Lionel Messi, it would only take the slightest drop in standards to fall off that perch again.





Source link

Categories
Football UK

Liverpool owners must trust Klopp in transfer market to make club ‘sustainable’


Paul Konchesky has been looking back on his move to Liverpool 10 years ago and feels that “being a London boy” might explain why he bombed.

A label which didn’t really affect Paul Walsh, Michael Thomas, Paul Ince, Glen Johnson, Joe Gomez or others.

Maybe a more telling reason was that, performance-wise, Konchesky made Liverpool’s second-worst left-back signing, Julian Dicks, look like Carlos Alberto.

He wasn’t the lone failure in Roy Hodgson’s only summer as Liverpool manager. Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Brad Jones, Milan Jovanovic, Danny Wilson, Raul Meireles and Jonjo Shelvey also arrived and made as little impact as the man who signed them.

It’s why FSG, the owners who came in and sacked Hodgson, have been determined to operate a prudent strategy ever since – which is taken personally by many thousands on social media who annually fixate on a player and demand he’s signed.

Thiago Alcantara could be what Jurgen Klopp needs to give his midfield an extra attacking edge

Two years ago it was Nabil Fekir, last year Pepe. Looking back, it’s fair to say neither were missed.

This year it’s Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, and with only Kostas Tsimikas brought in as Andy Robertson’s back-up, with the money received from Dejan Lovren’s sale, the Twitter fumes are toxic.

Especially as all their rivals, including Everton, are waving around the cheque book.

But maybe this time they have a point. Liverpool haven’t made any major signings for two years and of the outfield team that lost the 2018 Champions League final, only Joe Gomez has come in for Lovren and Fabinho for James Milner.

The rest, with the possible exception of Gini Wijnaldum, have been automatic choices when fit. That’s a lot of games between them. And little variation in style – leading to a feeling that tactically the squad needs more flexibility and some high-quality fresh legs.

Klopp appears to agree with that. Whenever he’s been asked about transfer plans he has hinted that he’d like to bring in players but is operating on a different financial level to his nearest rivals. Which rankles with some fans, who point out Liverpool have reached two Champions League finals and won the Premier League in the last three seasons.

New CEO Billy Hogan’s opening message was that the club “is about trying to create a business that is sustainable”.

But is it sustainable to ask the same small squad which racked up 196 points over two seasons in the world’s toughest league, to hit the same phenomenal levels again, without an injection of quality?

FSG need to trust Jurgen Klopp’s judgement after he led Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League triumphs in successive seasons

FSG are right to point out they’re taking a big hit with Covid and can’t gamble with the future. But which club isn’t? And when you have a man like Jurgen Klopp at the helm for the next four years, is backing his judgement in the market that much of a gamble?

I think Liverpool will spend. There’s a long way to go in this transfer window and as the deadline approaches there will be demand for the likes of Harry Wilson, Marco Grujic and Xherdan Shakiri, which could bring in a minimum £50million. Wijnaldum could also engineer an exit to Barcelona.

If that doesn’t raise enough cash to plug the gaps in the squad, FSG would be wise to stump up the cash. Because Klopp needs cover in central defence, a new point of attack from midfield, which would be Alcantara, and an alternative striker, possibly Ismaila Sarr or Adama Traore.

Liverpool need to freshen up their attack, with Ismaila Sarr an option

Sign up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!

From the latest transfer news to the agenda-setting stories, get it all in your email inbox.

Put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.

This isn’t 2010, and the manager isn’t Roy Hodgson. Looking at Klopp’s track record, they can feel confident the players he covets will deliver.

It’s admirable that Hogan’s priority is a sustainable business model. But having got back on their perch after 30 years, surely the main thing they need to sustain is keeping the team at number one. The rest will follow.

With Manchester City strengthening an already formidable squad, and possibly bringing in Lionel Messi, it would only take the slightest drop in standards to fall off that perch again.





Source link