The Second Best Manager in Manchester

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Chris Darwen is a sports writer and author living his dream on the Costa Blanca in Spain.  Tales From The Top Flight has been featured each week in the largest English speaking newspaper in the south of Spain for over a year now and he is delighted to have turned it into a blog.  Chris is 37, still addicted to Football Manager and a proud shareholder in Real Oviedo.

Tales From The Top Flight

Sunday marked the 30 year anniversary of Sir Alex Ferguson taking over at Manchester United. In the next 30 years Fergie made a lot of errors but, understandably, people tend to recall the higher points.  But let us never forget, Fergie felt Moyes was his natural replacement and that Chelsea were not title contenders in the 2016/17 season.

Conte is like a manager that has suddenly stumbled on a tactic that works on Football Manager and he is going to never change it.  And why would he?  Chelsea’s 5-0 demolition of Everton even had Ronald Koeman reassessing his statement that Manchester City were the best side he had ever coached against.  Chelsea were so far removed from what we saw earlier in the season that you can understand why they felt Mikel Alonso was a must buy. They have not failed to win in any of the matches the left wing back has played.  3-4-3, it has a future.

So much of a future that the Poch decided to implement his version in the North London Derby where Harry Kane made his return.  BT Sport were in serious danger of having a decent half time debate over Arsenal’s opening goal until their director cut it short. “None of that lads, people will start expecting us to get rid of Savage and Owen!”  Obviously the game ended 1-1, because that was the only result that was going to happen.

Before City played Middlesbrough, Jose disciple Aitor Karanka had claimed Pep was the second best manager in Manchester.  He must really rate United’s new reserve team manager Nicky Butt.  Karanka looked as though he may have a point, as well as claiming one at the Etihad.  Boro stole a late draw in a game that City really should have put to bed far earlier.

Considering sterling has dropped to a 200 year low, yes I will finally accept that Pogba is worth £89m.  Jose’s plan to make Pogba look like the best player in the United side was to select Carrick, Felliani, Jones, Rojo, Young, Rooney and Zlatan around him.  I had to admit I, like many, were a tad sceptical of United’s line up at the Liberty Stadium but Swansea really did choose to lie down and have their bellies tickled.  Jose is back hey?  He certainly masterminded that victory which will give United’s Europa League push a huge kick start.  It was a fine strike by Pogba though, leading to social media meltdown about how THAT proved he was good value for money.  Yeah, £89m for a wonder goal against relegation certainties.  I can see the value now.  Ed Woodward must be feeling very smug.

Adam Lallana and Jordan Henderson put in the kind of performance we will definitely not see against Scotland on Friday night.  Watford showed that you cannot instantly just win by playing three at a back as the pace and skill of Liverpool’s movement almost matched Chelsea’s margin of victory.  It wouldn’t be Liverpool without at least one chalked up in the goals against column though. Actually, is 6-1 better than 5-0?  Discuss.  Raymond the Egg was quite quiet after the match as it is hard to keep criticising Klopp when he has taken Liverpool top of the table.

The West Ham directors were busy celebrating the real victory on Saturday.  A trouble free day at the London Stadium passed by for both sets of fans.  Lady Brady, ironically criticising people for heading into projects without giving them enough thought on the Apprentice last week, took to Twitter to celebrate the fact no fights broke out.  West Ham and Stoke drew, just in case anyone is interested in what everyone turned up to watch.

Sunderland manager David Moyes watches the game from the stands due to a one-match ban. Sunderland win first match of the season.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  Bournemouth battered Sunderland, but if you don’t stop Victor Anichebe from looking like a beast of a striker then you do not deserve to win.  Defoe netted the winner from the penalty spot.

Sunderland’s win gave Hull a bit of a wake up call.  They headed into Sunday’s match with Southampton needing something to cheer them up as fireworks weekend on the Humber is far from paradise.  Their bonfire was most certainly lit with a 2-1 win.

Leicester playing West Brom is back in the category of “I’ll give that one a miss” with Leicester clearly focusing their attention on all things European and WBA being, well, terrible to watch.  That said, I chose to watch Oviedo put in a performance that would have had even Albion fans banging their heads against the seats in an effort to stay awake.  They certainly got the better deal, watching their side score twice to Leicester’s solitary strike.  The champions sit just two points off the relegation zone.  Would it be the right way to end this fairy tale story if they did go down?  No, winning the Champions League and going down, there is another movie in that.

I don’t think Pardew has won since that BBC documentary, has he?  Even Alan is struggling to look smug right now and that England chat he was trying to drum up has certainly gone deathly quiet.  It’s a great feeling to battle back from 2-0 down to get the game level, but it hurts even more when you then throw it away and still lose.  Burnley have a better home record than some slightly bigger clubs this season.  Dyche’s “Ginger Mourinho” nickname needs updating now, as it really does not do him justice.  It cannot be the “Ginger Klopp” because, you know, Kloppo is already ginger.

PS:  Chris will be live on FANTVuk tonight (Tuesday) at 22:00 GMT+1 – tune in on the Sky Channel “Showcase” on 212. For his daily column, head over to and follow him on Twitter: @comeontheoviedo


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