Alex Chick

  • United flaws too big to ignore

    To the casual observer, Manchester United's struggles this season might suggest they are getting weaker.

    However, that would apparently be a deeply simplistic and naïve interpretation.

    The consensus among the pundits and rival managers is not that United are getting worse - everyone else is getting stronger.

    Take their back-to-back defeats over the New Year - including a shocking home loss to a side that were 28/1 shots at kick-off.

    Blackburn's win at Old Trafford was greeted as proof positive that the Premier League's competitive balance remains alive and well.

    If the worst team in the league

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  • Pre-season predictions revisited

    David Silva: Making Armchair Pundit look halfway competentOn August 5, I made a bunch of predictions for the upcoming Premier League season.

    As we reach the campaign's midpoint, it is time to take a look at how I am doing so far.

    - - -

    Prediction: Champions - Manchester United

    What I wrote: 'Manchester City might have brought down the '35 years' banner but they still exude a faint air of desperation.

    Second: Manchester City, Third: Liverpool, Fourth: Chelsea.'

    How it looks now: Not great. Desperation has turned to supreme confidence and City are odds-on to convert their exceptional start into a first league title since 1968. United remain the closest

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  • Chelsea should fine selfish Lampard

    Often a result doesn't tell the whole story.

    Manchester City lost a Premier League game for the first
    time this season, but have every reason to feel confident of lifting the title.

    They can take heart from their performance in last night's
    2-1 defeat at Chelsea, particularly in an excellent first half.

    That's not to say they merited a win - more often than not
    in football you get what you deserve, and what they got was nothing.

    Yes they should have had a penalty, but otherwise City's
    wounds were self-inflicted, through a failure to press home their early
    advantage and a brainless sending-off.

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  • United: Where did it all go wrong?

    It might have been a bad season for English clubs in Europe,
    but nobody expected this.

    Having been handed one of the easiest groups in Champions
    League history, Manchester United somehow contrived to win none out four
    against Benfica and Basel.

    Manchester City's exit, ousted by Bayern Munich and Napoli, is
    poor but understandable. United's is completely inexcusable.

    Their punishment is a Thursday night date with the Europa
    League, a competition Patrice Evra has already declared himself
    "embarrassed" to be a part of.

    So what happened?

    Complacency

    United always seem to get a favourable draw, and

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  • End of English dominance? What dominance?

    It could be a humbling week for the Premier League in Europe, as three sides stand on the brink of a group stage exit in the Champions League.

    Both Manchester clubs and Chelsea are one bad result away from the Europa League, and while only City's fate is out of their hands it has certainly been a poor collective campaign for English sides.

    Along with Arsenal, the endangered trio have won only nine of 20 games, including failures to beat the unheralded likes of Genk and Basel.

    These struggles have been taken as evidence that the Premier League no longer dominates Europe - a recurring theme in

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  • Another Sports Personality snub for football

    Another year, another snub to our overpaid prima donnas.

    For the fifth time in six years, not a single football player has made the 10-strong shortlist for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award.

    And this time, it wasn't even close, as shown by a look at the votes of the 27 publications who elect the nominees will tell you.

    Football's biggest contribution came via a completely bonkers selection from the Manchester Evening News, featuring the quartet of Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov, Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira - three quarters of whom do not even qualify on nationality grounds.

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  • Redknapp title talk a shrewd move

    Can Tottenham Hotspur really win the Premier League? Harry
    Redknapp wants us to believe they can.

    In his post-match interview after last night's win against
    Aston Villa, the Spurs boss claimed: "If we keep up the form we're in at
    the moment we'll win the league."

    This, of course, is rubbish. If everybody maintains their form
    Spurs will come second behind City.

    But it was a measure of the feelgood factor at White Hart
    Lane, following eight wins from nine games, that the manager felt emboldened to
    make such a claim.

    Actually, he has done this before - in July 2010
    then again several months later

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  • England playing the Capello way

    Two victories, two clean sheets, two winless streaks broken.

    England have ended a run of 31 years without beating the World Cup holders, and of 43 years without a win against Sweden.

    All very good, but these wins will only be infused with real significance if things go well at Euro 2012.

    Was this the week England learned to beat good opposition playing controlled, intelligent football? Or was it just a couple of rather featureless matches that happened to go our way?

    The dangers of claiming to 'learn' things from a single match are obvious, but it seems clear that England can play in a 4-3-3,

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  • Ronaldo: The £80m bargain

    When Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid from Manchester
    United in 2009, he faced a tough task justifying his world record price tag.

    Two-and-a-half seasons and just 105 games later, Ronaldo has
    reached 100 goals for the club.

    He brought up his century on Wednesday night with a brace
    against Lyon, including a viciously powerful free-kick.

    It is a staggering achievement, which shows Real Madrid
    have achieved the impossible and got themselves an £80 million bargain.

    In a world where Andy Carroll costs a cool £35 million and
    Charles N'Zogbia sets you back £10m, surely Ronaldo classifies as an

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  • Greedy players must get real

    As the summer transfer window nears its final
    stages, something strange is happening.

    Many of the moves that were 'definitely'
    happening have failed to materialise. A clutch of big names find themselves
    languishing at clubs, long after they have made plain their intention to move
    on.

    Wesley Sneijder, Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel
    Adebayor... all were expected to be off within days of the window opening. None
    have gone.

    Behind this strange phenomenon, there has been
    a fundamental shift in the way these players approach transfer negotiations.

    Footballers have long been accused of being
    mercenaries,

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