Sunderland played out a boring, goalless draw at Aston Villa today. The visitors put just one of their seven shots on target, and spent the last thirty minutes simply closing down Villa. That point may have pulled Sunderland out of dead last, but they remain five points from safety. They’ve won just two of their thirteen matches and have failed to score in almost half. Yet manager Gus Poyet, who’s been on the job for nearly two months, still thinks that the Black Cats are going to survive this season.
Speaking after the draw on Saturday, Poyet said, “I think we deserve it (the win). The players were believing. We didn’t get the three points but it is a step in the right direction. The idea is to maintain this level and I am sure we are going to be alright.”
The Sunderland boss continued, saying, “It is a good point for different reasons. We performed for 90 minutes, we made it difficult for Villa and created chances. We are keeping on growing. Sometimes you have to understand when you are at the bottom that things don’t go for you.”
Anyone who watched the match may have had trouble understanding what Poyet meant when he said Sunderland are “growing.” It is not tough to take points from Villa Park these days. Sure, a little luck and things may have gone Sunderland’s way. And Poyet’s comment about things not going for you when you’re at the bottom may have been in reference to the visitors’ not being awarded a penalty for what appeared to be a handball by Ciaran Clark. But ultimately, Sunderland still look like a collection of players thrown together, who often don’t have ideas on how to work together to create chances.
Having already mired themselves so firmly at the bottom of the table, the Black Cats have a lot of work to do to avoid relegation. And unfortunately for Poyet and his side, positive thinking is not going to be sufficient to boost them past Chelsea midweek, or Tottenham next weekend.
Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle wrap up a great weekend of Premier League action. Liverpool took all three points against Crystal Palace. The guys chat about the mood in the United dressing room (12:40) and the opposite feelings across Manchester as Man City thrashed Huddersfield (25:30). We wrap up looking ahead to the big one: Manchester United vs Tottenham next week (33:30).
[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]
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Manchester United CEO Ed Woodward is readying a change to the hierarchy at Old Trafford as he attempts to steady the ship, and it’s not the removal of controversial manager Jose Mourinho.
The Manchester Evening News is reporting that Woodward will appoint a director of football at the club to help ease the burden after growing frustration from Mourinho and supporters following a summer with few transfer buys.
[ MORE: Klopp on beating Palace ]
Mourinho lamented the lack of additions in the summer after he gave a specific list of center back targets to Woodward and got exactly zero of them.
Now after beating Leicester City and losing at Brighton, United could be in a bad position early if they cannot manage a positive performance against visiting Tottenham on Aug. 27.
And MEN reports that Woodward is eager to get himself out of “the firing line.”
United have not held back when it comes to issuing press releases boasting about their many commercial partners, but there has been a quiet revamp of the club’s academy, scouting network and training ground facilities behind the scenes.
One of the final steps is bringing in a director of football – something many United fans have been crying out for following the club’s patchy transfer record with Woodward at the helm.
Woodward is not going to appoint anyone who would undermine his decisions, and the hire could speak volumes about Mourinho’s future, short or long.
The transfer window had just closed when ProSoccerTalk’s staff made their predictions for the 2018-19 season.
For the most part, the first two weeks of the Premier League season have cemented this writer’s faith in his projections.
[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]
In four cases, however, being allowed some Monday mulligans would have me moving teams more than one spot in my predicted table.
Spurs (Predicted 6th; New spot 3rd) –> The worries I have about Dele Alli returning to world-beating status have been quelled by Lucas Moura‘s newfound comfort in creating Premier League chances. Tottenham’s defenders the same. Next Monday’s trip to Manchester United will say a lot about both clubs. And hanging onto Toby Alderweireld instead of allowing him to steady Manchester United’s creaky back line was smart.
Watford (Predicted 18th; New spot 12th) — Don’t get us wrong, the Hornets have not done much yet. Beating a Europa League weary and shallow Burnley isn’t a great feat, though their home defeat of Brighton is a bit more impressive after the Gulls knocked off Man Utd. That said, Javi Gracia‘s men have a clear plan to get service to Troy Deeney and Andre Gray, and terrific playmakers in Roberto Pereyra and Abdoulaye Doucoure. They are better than relegation fodder, and should finish 7-10 points clear of the drop.
Manchester United (Predicted 2nd; New spot 5th) –> United probably would’ve drawn Brighton on Sunday had they a few extra minutes on the clock, but there’s a chance Leicester would’ve done the same to them on Opening Day if afforded the same opportunity. Is Eric Bailly the proactive wall we saw versus the Foxes or, well, the reactive problem he was at Brighton?
I believed the start of the season and return to fitness for so many World Cup players would dispel the odious scent from Jose Mourinho’s offseason obnoxiousness. It hasn’t, and it’s going to cost the team the Top Four. That said, I’ll hedge a little and say United’s players may make a decent Champions League run if given a good group stage draw.
Wolves (Predicted 13th; New spot 17th) –> I thought Wolves had enough firepower to challenge for a top half spot, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s side looks incapable of keeping dangerous chances away from goalkeeper Rui Patricio, who can only do so much.
Jurgen Klopp thought both his Liverpool and hosts Crystal Palace were feeling exhausted in the second half of the Reds’ 2-0 win at Selhurst Park, so he loudly threatened to murder his players.
Okay, okay, that’s not exactly true, but you be the judge: He got a goal out of it.
[ RECAP: Palace 0-2 Liverpool ]
“In these moments the fuel is really low and maybe the players need a bit of help from an angry manager, ‘Run or I will kill you,’ and they did that with a fantastic counter attack,” Klopp said.
Cool. That said, Klopp pointed tot his team’s commitment to fitness as a reason for their win.
“Second half both teams, you could see Crystal Palace maybe struggle a little bit more than we did but it was for us very intense as well,” he said. “We had these big chances, didn’t use them. They had their moments when Alisson had to make a few saves. The save on the free kick was outstanding. I know we have to play much better but for tonight I’m absolutely fine with that.”
Klopp bristled when asked about meeting Man City’s 6-1 defeat of Huddersfield Town with a fairly complete performance against Palace.
“I am not interested in sending statement to Manchester City or anyone else. We want to win football games and that’s what we did tonight.”