United wanted it more
Manchester United really did step up. Going into games like the Manchester Derby, form and how you’ve been playing does not matter as much as your concentration levels. Things like momentum and form simply go out of the window when you play your rivals. Man City were of course the favourites playing at home and on a 21-match winning streak, but United just wanted it more.
United made City look average and beatable. United just did enough to win the game. It was a good game and not a surprising game in terms of tactics. City were dictating possession, whilst United were looking for the counter-attack and looking to press at certain times. When you play your rival, it is all in the head and how you are going to prepare mentally.
It is all about focusing on that one game. It didn’t matter that City were the favourites, United were just more clever in a way.
Now, If they lose the next game, it means nothing. Yes they played their neighbours and arch rivals and there was the pride of the city on the line, ie the city is red. You feel proud for the week, but then if you lose the next game it doesn’t matter. You need to focus and reset for the next match.
United have turned up against big teams and had a high concentration level. However, when they play lower opposition, the concentration levels are not there. They must correct this. The City game is now in the past and must focus on the next game. It’s a big boost for the top four, but at the same time, they now need to move on to the next game.
In some ways it is too much to say that they are back in the title race, but in the other ways this is the Premier League and it might not be too much. This league is so unpredictable and I really hope that United can tighten the gap. However, City still have a big advantage and will in the end still prevail.
City are still a massive force and will be dangerous in the Champions League
Following United’s win, I’m sure teams in the Champions League will be taking note of how Solskjaer’s side played. But every match is different. You may notice weaknesses about a team and explore them. However, Guardiola is one of the most successful and cleverest managers and he will try to correct it.
Do your homework, study the opposition, study their weaknesses and keep in mind that they will probably be trying to correct it, but football is basically unpredictable.
Luke Shaw has come into his own and he is now England’s best left-back
I thought Luke was man of the match. He was great in that game. He was going into tackles, working hard, passing well and playing in a no-nonsense manner. His transformation under Ole shows that he has grown into the position.
I saw a meme saying that since United signed Alex Telles, Shaw has turned into the best defender in Europe. If we put the joke aside, this is what competition can do for you sometimes. You feel comfortable, then the team buy someone in your position and you realise that you need to prove how good you are. This then brings the best out of you.
Competition is certainly one of the factors that has helped him develop and improve. It also comes down to personal motivation, you don’t know about his private life and whether he feels comfortable. He was great on Sunday, as was the whole team.
There are lots of good players in both the left and right-back positions for England. Gareth Southgate has decisions to make and he is now the best left-back in my opinion. He now just needs to back it up. He just needs to stick to his trends, keep it simple and he’ll be an even better player.
England have some great talent right now and hopefully Gareth can fit it all together and made a great team out of it.
European classic next for United
I expect United to win and go through to the next phase. Obviously, AC Milan are enjoying a renaissance and playing better than previous seasons. They were top, but now second in Serie A six points behind Inter. They are still there in the title race in my opinion. AC Milan have good players and are led by none other than Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Hopefully he is fit and he would up the confidence for Milan and up the concentration level for United, you want to play for them. It would be a shame if he misses out through injury. In many ways, it would be good news for United as he would be up for that game. I just feel it is a game they should win.
I used to support AC Milan when Marco Van Basten played there. They had the likes of Rijkaard and Maldini there too. Things have been more difficult for them recently. At United when we played them, AC Milan had Beckham. We won comfortably at Old Trafford with a 4-0 win, it was a great win for us.
Spurs have turned a corner with four wins in a row
The Gareth Bale show is going on. Football is unpredictable, you think it’s going one way, then it goes the other way. Apparently, Tottenham have scored 100 goals this season which is some achievement and proves Kane, Son and Bale can play and thrive under a Mourinho system. They just need to maintain that consistency until the end of the season.
This weekend it is the north London derby and Spurs have the momentum with Bale also coming into form. However, it is a derby and you just have to try and win that game.
Arsenal are leaking goals and making mistakes, the Burnley goal highlights that. Spurs need to enforce that and make Arsenal make mistakes and not make mistakes themselves. I think Spurs have the better players on paper, but in these games, nothing is certain.
It’s an important game for both teams. It is a north London derby. Both sets of supporters want to win the game. If Spurs win it, they edge closer to the top four. It’s good for the ego and pride too. As I’ve said before, when you step onto that pitch and you’re mentally ready, you will be OK.
A win over Arsenal will build their confidence even higher. Spurs had a good season in the beginning, then they hit a dip in form and now again they have stepped up a gear up and are performing well. Hopefully they don’t have another dip in form as otherwise it would be the same old story. My only wish if they beat Arsenal is to maintain their consistency as that separates big sides and then the really big sides.
Liverpool’s form this season is similar to what happened with Klopp at Dortmund
I don’t think you can explain what is happening at Liverpool at the moment. There is of course speculation. I just think it is not a good situation for everyone surrounding the club. It’s something nobody expected to see. It shows how unpredictable football can be.
Interestingly, under Klopp, Borussia Dortmund won the title and then the year after that, they were fighting relegation.
It’s not the same, but there is a tendency for Klopp’s team to achieve one season and then have difficulties. Maybe it’s just coincidence but the fact is fact. They are not producing the football people want to see, it is a big crisis in the way they are playing football.
I watched the Fulham game and Fulham surprised everybody. Liverpool didn’t deserve to win and Fulham played very well.
Questions over Germany job will persist
After the news that Joachim Low is set to stand down as Germany manager following the Euros, people will speculate about Klopp now. When the time does come for Klopp to leave Liverpool, he will have lots of propositions. I want him to stay at Liverpool to fight and correct the situation, I know he can do that and turn things around.
We’ll see if he becomes new German manager, it’s like Mourinho being Portugal manager, but he remains a team manager.
Of course it is a hard job to turn down and one day he may harbour hopes of being the national team manager. But I think he should stay as he is a great coach and can turn things around. Everyone goes through tough times.