Boom! What a week!
This week’s photo captures the VAR official overseeing the Man U v Wolves fiasco, where Andre Onana caught Sasa Kalajdzic’s head and missed the ball, but it was judged no foul. Osana was reckless, it was a clear penalty. Can I say that ref Simon Hooper simply bottled it? The VAR decision simply continues to support the cynical view that it simply never punishes the ‘top’ teams.
How was it for you? In Gameweek One, top scorer was Paul (81 points) followed by Evertonian Rhys and Michal on 78 then nine folks following within seven points. Overall, a high scoring week where the top twenty-one all scored 60+ points. Thanks Erling. Many of us were frantically transferring out Harry at 5pm Friday which left me in a right kerfuffle and all my pre-season prep went out of the window. I’m hoping for a much better season than last, when my picks turned out to be more carthorses than dark horses, so pleased with my Gameweek One.
A quick canter through the movers and shakers in our league after Gameweek One revealed a mix of apoplexy, confidence and anxiety, and hope that the next thirty-seven game weeks aren’t filled with as much mayhem. What do you expect from the season ahead? Here are some of the responses:
James S: My shirt sponsors are Amnesty International, so when I have a bad week, I can at least defend the moral high ground. Confident of a top six and a good cup run.
Conor: My Friday night was ruined, my pyjamas soaked through with sweat, in my dream I was chased over fields of broken glass by Harvey Barnes, raging I didn’t pick him. Bottom last season, top ten this time round.
Aleksa: Pep’s aiming for four-in-a-row, I’m going for three-in-four years. Its painfully misguided optimism but with my generative AI tooling I can live a Metaverse victory.
Nick: Now we have the Big 6 or is it the Big 7.5? – we used to have the Big 4 – anyway, I’ll be in the Big group, whatever this means.
Katie: I wouldn’t dream of going to the dentist and telling him what to do or shouting abuse at my plumber, so be nice to all managers and let’s just be friends.
Chris B: Despite spending the majority of pre-season chasing after my players wielding syringes full of monkey bongo juice, they still have a wild look in their eyes rather than calm, so maybe fifth?
My philosophy after Gameweek One is this. It is omelettes and eggs. No eggs – no omelettes. It depends on the quality of the eggs. In the supermarket you have class one, two or class three eggs and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. So, when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem if you’re in Aldi.
Is it coming home? The Lionesses beat Columbia 2-1 and the Matildas 3-1 this week to reach Sunday’s WWC final versus Spain, so I’ve gone all in for my St George’s flag onesie for the game. After sluggish 1-0 wins over Haiti and Denmark, England routed China 6-1, then beat Nigeria on penalties spoiled somewhat when Lauren James was sent off for using Michelle Alozie’s back as a hopscotch grid. I’m flummoxed by the time zone difference and the early morning starts, the final is 11am Sunday.
Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman is the first coach to take two countries to the final of the WWC having led the Netherlands to the 2019 final. She also achieved back-to-back wins at the Women’s Euros with the Netherlands in 2017 and England in 2022. She has now reached four major finals in a row, with her two triumphs at the Euros separated by a 2-0 defeat for her native Netherlands by the US in the 2019 World Cup final. Come on England! Here are five minutes highlights of the semi-final England v Australia. Sam Kerr’s equaliser for Australia was as good a goal as you’ll see anywhere this season.
Pep was a bit intense Erling scored a sensational second goal against Burnley on Friday night, but what took place as the players left the field at half-time was nothing short of staggering. Pep is one of the finest tacticians in the game, but he has not taught Haaland how to score goals, yet played the overbearing boss by admonishing Haaland publicly as they left the pitch at half-time in full public glare. It is not unusual to see great managers exhibit enormous egos during matches, but what was so important that it could not have waited until the player and manager entered the dressing room?
Pep thought that the incident had nothing to do with the rest of us and proceeded to push away the cameraman filming the incident. If he wants to rant and rave with his players as he leaves the pitch, then we are entitled to see it. If he thinks that is unacceptable then take his discussions into the dressing room where he is entitled to his privacy. Pep’s public admonishment of his striker at half-time was not just badly timed and unnecessary but a display of his arrogance which we see now and then. Could the best manager in the world be in danger of hacking off the best striker in the world? Madrid is only a three-hour flight from Manchester…
The Saudi & Chelsea shopping sprees continues Another week when the Saudi cashpoint machine was used heavily, Neymar joining the jamboree. He reportedly requested a 25-room mansion, a swimming pool and sauna, eight workers to keep his house tidy, nine cars and all expenses paid for travel, restaurants, and hotels when he signed for Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal. Elsewhere, rumours that Mo Salah is open to an offer, and they’re back for Fulham’s Mitrovic too and it looks like City’s Aymeric Laporte is off there too.
Chelsea are obviously lacking midfielders, so they’ve got the cheque book out this week and bought Moisés Caicedo (£115m) and expect to acquire Roméo Lavia (£53m) and Michael Olise (£35m), as well as every other promising youngster ever. The deal for the Ecuadorian Caicedo breaks a record the Blues set six months ago when they spent £107m on another midfielder, Argentina World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez.
Chelsea have spent just over £800m on new players since Boehly’s takeover last summer, £430m more than the next-highest spenders Manchester United, and with the Lavia and Olise deals, that figure is likely to rise to around £900m by the end of the transfer window. Chelsea look certain to break the record for the highest summer spend by any club in the world, eclipsing Real Madrid’s £292m in 2019. The expense for new players has been offset to some degree by sales with around £280m brought in across the three most recent transfer windows.
Sir Gary speaks Football pundit, podcast host, hotelier, football club co-owner, Dragons Den star, property magnate, champion of the homeless and Leader of the Opposition Gary Neville – and now critic of the English A level exam system – he has more strings to his bow than the combined forces at the Battle of Agincourt – has acknowledged that United are still a bit of a shambles after a lucky 1-0 win versus Wolves. As with any football debate, this one quickly became mired in tedious, nonsensical whataboutery, accusations of hypocrisy, bias, and outraged cries. Can’t wait for Roy to get involved. I thought Ten Hag was getting it right, and once Rasmus Højlund (a bargain £7m on Fantasy) finds his shooting boots they could be a threat.
A new season has brought no resolution to two pressing off-field matters at Old T however. The ownership situation, triggered by the launch of ‘for sale’ signs last November, remains unresolved, and the future of Mason Greenwood – whose criminal charges were dropped in the spring but which triggered an internal investigation into his conduct – is yet to be finalised. It’s really surprising they’ve not resolved both to leave the focus on the football, and the absence of clarity around ownership brought the usual ‘Glazers Out’ chants during the home games will not go away. No matter what you think of the general arrogance of Man U fans, we do need them at the top table with some great players.
This weekend The shopping trolleys will be out as we close in on the final weeks of the transfer window. Liverpool’s season threatened to go off a cliff Wile E Coyote style this week, finding themselves legs-spinning-in-mid-air-over-the- abyss with Chelsea beating them to every transfer target, but nice to see Jürgen behaving himself on the touchline. As I write this, Liverpool are in for Doucoure (Palace), Endo (Stuttgart), Gravenberch (Bayern), and Kamara (Villa). Thomas Touchel, with typical Germanic humour, has been quoted saying that Liverpool’s offer of £40m would over cover 3/4’s of Gravenberch’s left leg. Therefore, Liverpool will have to offer around £319m to secure his whole body. This seems unlikely.
Amazon video star Mikel Arteta was feeling like a proud parent who’s let their child walk to the corner shop unaccompanied to buy a pint of milk for the first time after signing David Raya, but that was before Timber got ACL knack. Some bad injuries generally, Mings and KDB were big name casualties in Gameweek One, joining Jesus, Buendia and Nkunku on the sidelines.
Good luck for Gameweek Two, transfer deadline is Friday 6.15pm