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The Guardian. Hello and welcome to The Guardian Football Weekly, big questions after the weekend's action arsenal good again. Is Gareth Bale back? Does Lee Mason have control over his own mouth to brighten even know you're meant to score goals and some other questions. Should Manchester United get more penalties? Will anyone get a point of Manchester City? What our Crystal Palace. Also today, we pay tribute to Glenroe to a great player and a lovely man.


There's a glorious goal in the FFA trophy and you've been in touch. We have played music collaborations and a tremendous amount of palate based correspondents. All that plus your questions.


And that's today's Guardian for weekly on the panel today.


Jordan, Bryan, nice to see you. Good morning, Max. How are you? I'm really well, thank you. Jonathan Wilson, how are you? I'm very well, thanks. Excellent. Barry Clendenning, how are you? I'm fantastic, Max. Thanks. Excellent.


And that is in reaction to an foxing believable who said fuming at the podcast's grandiose introductions in the last episode. What's wrong with a simple hello, how are you? Mark says, I know teams are entitled to have an off game, but was it fair for the entire league to do it on the exact same weekend? Yeah, it wasn't. It wasn't the most gripping weekend of Premier League action.


Come on, man. Let's let's cut straight to the music based collaborations and the pelchat.


The rest of it is there was a good performance. His arsenal were good. Gareth Bale was good. Lee Mason made what on paper was a and in reality was a pretty boring game. Phenomenally exciting. Let's start with Arsenal. They won three one at Leicester. Interesting game in the sense of the sort of the direction these two sides are going. Arsenal just got through in the Europa League. Leicester went out on Thursday night. Leicester have a lot of injury problems and another now with with Harvey Barnes.


But Arsenal Jordan left out, Sackur left out. Aubameyang came back really well, I thought in this game.


They did. Yeah. And I'm going to be for once, not the arse nor the grumpy Arsenal fan and actually give them some credit and praise of it did play well, despite going the gold down really bad go I thought, to concede very Arsenal type goal.


But there were erm sounds like you started quite negative. I know you've do. I got caught up myself. No they weren't good. They're in that weird territory now of they see that the league is pretty much gone and they see an opportunity to potentially progress in the Europa League there resting. Now obviously they're inverted commas, best team for that hence and Aubameyang being on the bench. But we've seen a decent run in terms of results from Arsenal's I'm thinking post Chelsea just before Christmas.


But they were in that kind of five, six game winning run, but they weren't particularly good performances.


I didn't think in those games there was some good performances, but it was more five good wins rather than five performances. Well, I want to see now is just good performances.


And that might sound a bit perverse and backwards, but I don't think winning games not playing well is sustainable. Whereas if you play really well for it for for a length of time, that will turn into wins from here on this platform. Follow. Yes, that's true.


That maybe the anomaly there. But I want to see Arsenal really use this performance now to really kick on and put a run together of five, six, seven really good performances because that for me will translate into good wins. But yeah, good win for them. Leicester, I don't know, there might be Leicester ring up again. Hopefully not. I want to see them in the top four. So it's not it's not a good week for them, but they've got some really bad injuries.


So they'll be hoping they can kind of hang on to their to their current top for standing.


Willian and Pepé Wilson were both very good and they've been players that haven't been necessarily very good every time they've stepped onto the pitch.


Yeah, that's completely true. I sort of I didn't really understand when they signed Papay how he was supposed to fit with Lacazette and Bamian. And I guess maybe maybe he's not meant to. Maybe it's just so it's got depth. But I think his his form lasted a month or so has been a lot better. Willian was a player. I always like the Chelsea for whatever reason. It hasn't really happened for me. I'd ask him, but I think I mean, Jordan knows better than me, but that's certainly the best.


I've seen him play in an Arsenal shirt for sure.


It is a very, very low bar. It is a very, very low bar. Yeah. So, yeah, I think there are I mean, we said this quite a bit, but I think there are really encouraging signs there and slowly encouraging signs should come together into whatever is bigger than the sign, a massive sign, an enormous billboard of encouragement.


What's behind the billboard of encouragement then? Actually, you saw from this game that they have got quite a deep squad, you know, certainly compared to Leicester, similar ish players without loads of superstars. They've got some good young players. But when I when I drive past the billboard into Arsenal town, is that fifth is that. Consistently in the Champions League, what is it? Don't know yet, I guess he's got to got to keep driving till they find out they have a manager who seems and has always seemed very, very bright, very articulate.


They they driven in as far as it's possible to tell from the outside. He has all the sort of appearance of a good manager. He is apprenticeship. You know, I can't think of anybody better to learn under. You know, I think he's been ruthless enough in decisions he's made. So I think all of that is encouraging and it's just a lack of consistency. And now that run of poor results before the before they beat Chelsea, make it at the end of last season was really good.


You know, they wouldn't have a cup. They they'd be sitting in the semi-final, which was a really good performance. In fact, they've got the kids coming through as well. All of that, I think, is enormously positive. You'd still worry a bit about recruitment and about the influence of corruption. And I think you worry about the middle of the defence, but other things seem to be going right.


Yesterday was a bit of a slap down, really, for Leicester. I think they in my mind, anyway, they were sort of becoming the new arsenal insofar as they were in danger of usurping Arsenal's place in the big six, such as it is. But yesterday they got a bit of a cough, you know, like the elderly dog slapping down to the opposing puppy.


I think it's a really good point by makes. I think that Leicester, if they are shrewd in how they go about the next three to five years, really could assert themselves as one of the big six, big four even, and in the likes of Spurs and Arsenal, who are not serious teams at the moment. But, you know, Leicester could really I've been really impressive. Leicester's recruitment not only players, but managers over the last four or five years.


OK, Craig, Shakespeare was a bit of a weird one, but they've done really well in the people they've brought into the club. And I think if they continue on that trajectory, they could really assert themselves as one of the big six at the expense of an arsenal or spurs, who I think have massive summers so that every single year. But it's a really big summer, I think, for Arsenal Spurs in terms of where they're going to go.


That the one thing I'd say against that, and I think you're absolutely right in terms of the recruitment and service, the quality of the squad, but the big six isn't the big six just because of results. It's also about fan base and about infrastructure. Unless the stadium is half the size of that of any of the big six and it's the right size, I mean, maybe they could put 10000 more on or whatever, but Leicester are not going to fill out 75000 stadium.


So that's where that difference is. Now, it may be as football's finances evolve in a post covid world, that stadium size doesn't matter as much. And as it turns out, Arsenal and Tottenham is enormous. Investment in new stadiums was mistimed and probably maybe not not necessary, but that is the thing that holds them back. But yeah, recruitment and everything, I think it's hard to see how they could have got it better.


I think they're moving into that area now where the ball for them should be six minimum. They need to be moving into that territory now where six is a bad season, top four is the ambition, you know what I mean? I think that would move them into that.


Right. Why do you hate clubs from the Midlands? Why do I like Leicester a lot? Actually, it's a culture a bit. It's a compliment. I'm saying for them, if I'm the owners, I'm thinking top six should be the bare minimum. You said that ten years ago. That would be you know, that would be phenomenal.


But interesting that it's interesting because if you think there are there are a lot of teams now who I think would go hang on, top six has to be the minimum. And there are more than six of them, possibly depending on where you are recruiting West Ham there.


You know, one one swallow doesn't make a summer.


No, no, no, I'm not including I wasn't including West Ham upset West Ham.


But imagine where it would be if they weren't being held back by Dean Smith. They would go runaway leaders.


Arteta said the team's improving. Its taking a direction I like. Attitude wise, the way we're playing within our model is much closer to what we want. On the subject of attitude, Barney was at the game and he said Catullus. Michael, keep shouting attitude. It's like being at a high energy fashion shoot for exciting new male cologne, Steve says.


Is it finally time to talk about Lesters injuries? Barnes needing surgery, I think when just said six weeks yesterday. But that may be a minimum. Who knows for Farner Perez, Morgan Madsen, Justin, as well as loads of other players missing more than five games this season. We're down to the bare bones as Brendan Rodgers. That is quite a lot of injuries.


Yeah. I mean, they've had injuries all season. It's just not quite this many. And I think the fact that it's starting to happen to to players in forward positions, we've maybe noticed that more. But they it's a sign how good that equipment's been, that they've played a lot of a season. Outside only, and we haven't really noticed because 4000 has been secured and they've got four very good fullbacks and they've only ever had two of them at any one time for most of the season.


This is more injuries now, but it's not like they had a clear run until two or three weeks ago that they have been struggling all season. But it was injuries last season that did indeed, he got the knee injury in in January and he came back after five games. I don't think he's ever quite the same again. Last season, Pravachol and he was such a key to this. Off to Astana, right? Yeah. They've been struggling with injuries really for, you know, a year, 14 months now.


We had I mean, Madsen is probably the best player he was out and the number of different options they had to cover for him was, you know, really impressive. They could have moved Harvey Barnes inside. They did move Tilghman's forward for their Europa League match, but that didn't work. They played in actual yesterday. I'm just really unconvinced by him. He never seems to grab any opportunity he's given. But, yeah, there is a lot of versatility in that squad.


Would you rather Ian or Ian Marshall?


Uh, in marshal, I seem to recall the marshal celebrating, scoring a goal more recently than a year, know the Spurs for Berlinale, NYG Beveridge says is Gareth Bale back?


Is Marineo back? Does football journalism put too much faith in the last performance? Nick Ames wrote that this was exactly the kind of afternoon Spurs had hoped for when Gareth Bale jetted back in five months ago, scored the first set up, the second with that lovely ball to gain whipped in the fourth as well. Barrie, he was brilliant yesterday.


Yeah, outstanding. He you know, he is a good player. We knew that. And he hadn't really played much football at all for the last year or more. I presume he just needed to to get a run on elissa's Feast of Football podcast. Him, Danny Gabaldon and you and Robert were worried that Bale just wasn't interested anymore. But I think he showed yesterday he was or he is. But I wouldn't read too much into their performance because Burnley brought little or nothing to the parity.


Jose said it would be very nice for me now to say that I handled the situation amazingly well, but.


But I'm not that kind of guy. I said, now, bail is better than ever.


It's not just about the two goals he scored. It's fundamentally about his physical performance. Now, he's not flat. He has speed in his actions. There was one moment, Jordan, when he basically just kicked it past the fullback and just ran and got it in sort of 2013 bail, which is what Spurs fans desperately want to see those school bell.


Yeah, I think I saw a tweet from a friend of mine who support Spurs. You said that that was actually more joyous for him than the actual goals he scored, because that was, as you say, the sign that he thought we've got a glimpse of of the old school bell. So if they if they can get that guy that can just blow past people again and get rid of good crosses in that, I think for them would be just as just as just as equally impressive to twenty go.


He may score for it, but why do you think José played this really attacking team, you know, with Son Kane Bale and Lucas Mora? Is it just because he thought Burnley were no good? Because it doesn't seem to go against what he's you know, this is what Spurs fans would love to see. Just play lots of attackers and just go for it.


Yeah, I mean, I think it almost certainly is because of Burnley and they probably play Burnley. How Burnley going to hurt? They're not going to hurt you by hitting space in behind you. You're going to hurt you by getting cross into the box. You can't afford to set that up against Burnley. So even a manager is sort of wedded to a low block, as Mourinho, I think would acknowledge against Burnley. It's not the right thing for a team like Tottenham to do.


And Burnley, I think, are susceptible to players even at their own pace. If you think of the goal, some scored against them last season. It happened again yesterday. Sunningdale and Lucas all cause problems just by running out them. The idea that José suddenly seen the light and it's going to go on to entirely change his philosophy. Yeah, let's let's wait and see what I suspect is specific for for being Burnley. Now, here's a question.


Are you a good player? You know, don't.


Oh, so, yeah, I guess if you don't represent your country, this was sort of better than any of the football. Yesterday was an argument between Roy Keane and Jamie Redknapp on the strength of the Tottenham squad, to which Roy Keane basically said, if you can trap the ball, you get an international cap.


And Barrie, it was a great five minutes of TV. I I'm not sure who is. I suspect some of them are right about others. Jamie Redknapp got a bit chippy. Roy Keane, I think was just winding him up.


Yeah, Roy just seemed to be gunning for Jamie Redknapp got uncharacteristically chippy and it was slightly ruined by the delay for anyone who didn't see it. Jamie Redknapp was was down on the White Lane pitch. Roy Keane was in the studio. So there was a little delay, which meant they kept talking over each other. Roy Keane said nobody in the Spurs team would would get in a big four side when Jamie Redknapp pointed out that sonand Kane would be. But, well, nobody except Son and Kane would get to the top four.


So which slightly undermines his argument. He wasn't having it, particularly that Sergio regulation is a good player, whereas Redknapp was insisting he's probably the best fullback in the league. He Keane also got a dig in at Doherty because they have previous I think he was quite critical of him when he and Martin O'Neill were the management team with the Republic of Ireland. Yeah, I think Roy just look looking for a bit of a rather and got one. Enjoy, Jordan.


I loved it. I was tweeting and had a bit of back and forth with our very own last Deverson about this because I'm no I'm no Roy Keane fan, so I don't want to be that very.


From the get go, but I was on his side on this one because while it was really good television, I thought the reason why I backed his stance on this was there's a wider thing going on about punditry in this country for me. And I think there's so many lazy pundits that trot out so many, you know, not thought through and regurgitate so many lies. I'm here, George.


Sorry, that's not so. And they regurgitate same old lines that don't take any thought. And some of these guys are getting paid good money. If mean you're in the pub having a disagreement about Harry Maguire. I'm not Harry Maguire fan. I'm not a Lloris fan. That's my opinion. We can argue about that in the pub, no problem. But these are professionals who are paid to give some real insight, some interesting views, rather than just saying the same thing they were saying two years ago, retina's view that this is a good SPER side.


Well, let's look into that. Is this a really strong SPER side? I think he was calling him on that to make him think actually stop just saying it for the sake of saying it. Actually, think about what you're saying. And evidence the last 20 years suggest that maybe this isn't maybe this club isn't producing good players and not as good as we think they are. So I was keen on the fact that he talked to a lot of rubbish lot of the time.


And we know about the whole grandad old man back in my day rhetoric that's tired and I'm past that. But on this occasion, what I thought he was doing was, was making Redknapp earn his money. He was calling him on a statement that I don't think is true and Redknapp didn't like it.


I really liked Roy Keane saying the Chelsea fans didn't need to surround the referee without any irony at all. That was fun.


I thought he was there was a bit of a knowing look in his eye there. Wasn't there enough?


I'm also looking forward to Jordan's mentions about your hot takes.


I mean, that's why some of them aren't regurgitated, because they're only you know, they're just not on a similar note.


Actually, I was hugely impressed with Joe Cole's punditry before, during and after the West Ham Manchester City game. He was very good.


He did fantasy football. Remember years ago when before I killed that show. And yeah, he was really good as well.


The punditry of the Maradona goal wasn't a dream, but I think him and Peter Crouch did it. Oh, yes. Joe Cole was absolutely brilliant for going through that guy. How is Glenn Glenn, who basically gets absolutely taken out and like a two for to go back and watch if you've never seen the goal.


Quarterfinal of the World Cup, Mexico. Eighty six. Let's go from that goal to the Hawthorns.


Seems quite the jump. West Brom won Brighton nil. Amanda says, is Lee Mason the worst ref since all the others? Matt says Will No, no, no, get his money back. Now, he's been proved totally right after the Brighton no gold goal, no gold fiasco. He got fined 25000 pounds for saying Louis Mason wasn't good enough. It was sensational fun.


Brighton, have a free kick loose dunk. Asked if he could take it, Lee Mason blew his whistle. Lewis Dunk kicked the ball. Lee Mason blew his whistle again. The ball went in so Lee Mason disallowed. It was surrounded by the Brighton players allowed it was surrounded by the West Brom players checked with VA who told him that he had blown his own whistle and then he disallowed it. Frankly, it was the highlight of Saturday until Liam O'Neal's theatre for Cambridge United's.


Jonathan, did you enjoy it?


I mean, enjoy possibly the wrong word? I was sort of vaguely fascinated by it, and it actually was twice this weekend, maybe more. But I think the right thing happened for the wrong reasons. So I think that the penalty that wasn't given for that's not very humble at Stamford Bridge, which I guess will come on to. I think that was similar in that everything went wrong in terms of process, but ultimately the right result was reached. I have a problem with quick free kicks like that.


I think there's something fundamentally unfair about them. When a goalkeeper just out of position, is it really fair for somebody to kick a ball in? And I felt that even when it got for them personell in 2001, and I felt uncomfortable even then that I go with the because they're so much of the day. And it's always an interesting point I was making that that you should be able to take three kicks as quickly as you want, because otherwise you're penalising the side.


He's, you know, he's been fouled against who's been offended against. I think that's true up to a point. And I would even support his his suggestion. You should be allowed to actually fix yourself, which works in hockey. I don't see why it wouldn't work in football. However, once the referee has got is spoken out and started marking where the ball has to be, whether ball has to be the situations and different, that it's no longer sort of the fluid part of the game and you should reasonably expect everybody to be ready for you restart the game.


So I think that's where the difference comes. You can't have a wall sort of still in the business of retreating and the referee with this. Cancer in the way, and a player taking a free kick, the refs got a blow as whistle. Think when he blows the whistle, it's only fair that he makes sure that everybody is realistically ready for it. So the laws are that once he blows, the whistle is allowed to take that risk, as he did against Liverpool last season, as Don Hutchison did.


In those four examples I was talking about, as we've seen a lot of players do over the years, he basically panics, blows the whistle again. And it does appear he got there just in time before the ball crossed the line to stop accounting. But it's it's a shambles.


Does anybody remember the Cherian referee kick again? I think it was Wiggan at the W stadium where he took the free kick, scored it, and the referee said no, disallowing it. He took it too quickly and then he took the free kick again and put it in the exact same top corner.


I was really hoping this happens here as well.


I'm not going to pardon the referee here because he clearly made a series of errors and mistakes here that can happen. Should it happen, maybe not, but it can happen. I just think that there's that there's a there's a wider thing here about a nervousness and a tension around referees and decisions and rules and an unclarity unclarity.


I mean, that would be a good word to get rid of the good work and a lack of clarity around what rules are. And maybe that's the footballers themselves for maybe it's a lack of authority from from from the referees and officials. But there just seems to be this kind of weekly now discussion around do we know the rules? Has referees messed up? And I think that is exacerbating itself even more week on week. And we're seeing incidents like what we saw at the Hawthorns that are just detracting away from actual football and certainly getting some soap opera around referees being really awful.


But it's not a shocker. But, hey, I'm kind of piling in on these referees. I feel sorry for them now.


Yeah, I feel for him. I feel for him. And I agree with you. But I also found it tremendously entertaining. But like in that kind of we've all been in this situation in our lives where we just want to sit on the floor and put our hands on our ears and rock back and forth and go. I just don't want to I want to be anywhere else but here. And, you know, I think Lars was texting me going, this is is this a full on anxiety dream for a referee?


But in real life, you know, and so I feel for him because I agree with you. I think the scrutiny is too much and we're as guilty of it as probably not as anyone else.


But we are we're still guilty when we're talking about that than the fact that Britain can't score a goal for love nor money.


There was an almost identical incident only an hour or two later in the the Wales England rugby match. I mean, practically identical. It was uncanny how similar to this one gifted with to try you basically very well take control. But yeah, it was uncanny how similar the two events were.


I mean, there's this narrative as well as the refereeing is getting worse. I just don't think it's true at all. I just think I scrutinise it way, way more. I mean, it's something that you when you when you look at World Cups, even from the 70s, 60s, 70s, and there's always this discussion about how ÇAKMAK referees interpret things differently to European referees. And you realise in those days I was almost impossible to get sort of standardised interpretation of the laws because very, very little was televised.


So you get a yes. For instance, the Dunwell back penalty, which the post and bounces back to Dunwell back and is an index feature because he's touched it twice in a row. That's something that happens, I don't know, once a season, maybe, maybe not even often when, you know, I was watching it live comes back to Danny Welbeck and my instinct was minding the store is, oh, he's going to put it into the empty net.


Then the whistle goes and oh, yeah, because it's steps it twice. But I wasn't sort of expecting the whistle. That is a rare incident that even now you could go five years, ten years later, seeing it happen, watching ten games a week in the seventies when you got one game on. Yeah. You know, I don't know, like ten games a season. You can let you spend your entire life watching football and never see it.


So getting sanitisation four four decisions was almost impossible. And now because you have because you have everything scrutinised, there's this expectation of standardisation that it just never was before.


TomTom's says if you had a barn door and a arse that needed hitting with Brighton, didn't give a banjo to how long would it take them to one of them?


It's remarkable. I mean, Brighton are a good team and they're also a very bad team, a bright and fun treat me over the weekend saying in four years of supporting the club, there are simultaneously the best and worst Brighton team he has ever watched, which kind of sums it up nicely. There's stats are remarkable. In the past, three games have had twenty shots on target, not counting to miss penalties which hit the woodwork and the loose donc free kick that was disallowed.


Loud and disallowed, again, that's 23 shots on goal really scored one, and in that time they've had five shots on target against them, four of which have gone in. And the teams who had those five shots have taken seven points out of nine. So they're finishing is just extraordinarily bad. And Irishman Aaron Connolly is one of the main what would you call them? Culprit. Culprits?


Yes. I wonder next season what brights and do do they just go out and decide, look, we're creating chances where a good team let's just go and spend 30 million Ostreicher and that will see us finish in the top ten.


Didn't work for Sheffield United. Yeah, exactly.


They could get they could get Sebastian Hala or Delon Wright or they decide, no, we're going to just maybe find a really good championship striker that may score 10 goals and that's enough to make us finish top 12. I'm really keen to see what their strategy in terms of how they solve this problem for next season, where you're presuming they'll be in the Premier League.


The true truth. All right, that'll do part one.


Part two will begin at Stamford Bridge. Welcome to Part two of The Guardian Football Weekly, Chelsea near Manchester United nil, Manchester United have failed to score a single goal in open play against opponents from the so-called Big Six. What's that about, Wilson?


I think it's largely about the way are setting up. I mean, it's slightly kind where you've put put it. I mean, they've got one goal against the so-called Big Six, which is in a six one defeat to Tottenham and a penalty. And it was a penalty.


I mean, they still count, but it's my pro Manchester United bias. I put a different out there today, seven games five, which have been nil nil. I think when you have said this, we saw laughed at him a bit that he said as a defensive manager, you know, he's just sits man behind the ball and that is what he does in big games. And last season it worked because I think maybe opponents were a little bit naive, maybe underestimate, you know, its its capacity on the break.


And this season now they've they've worked out how, you know, they're playing. They they don't give those opportunities to break into. And the result is a series of, you know, slightly dull tactical battles.


Is it Sociales fault that this game is nil nil or two calls as well?


Who's fault? Well, I mean, fault is the wrong word. Obviously, you loved nil nil.


So I started it in that, you know, this keeps on happening. And I think, again, the other thing that we keep coming, I keep coming back to that, you know, at a very raw line going forward on individuals doing great things at the right time, which is fine when you're playing your lesser sides. But it's a problem when you're playing better sides. And even, you know, the game is last year when they drew to two, it was Bruno Fernandes was brilliant that they did the score one and set one up.


I think without his contribution yet again, it was it was all down to to him. But but equally, I think since since 2000 after Chelsea, they've been very solid. They've been very good at protecting possession and they have lacked a little bit of creativity. So. He must have seen how social teams play, he must have known the danger of overcommitting, but it also seems to be something in his Chelsea at the moment that they they're not quite as penetrative as they maybe should be.


Now, Harry Maguire has told Manchester United officials that Luke Shaw misheard a conversation he had with the referee, Stuart Attwell, with the left back, believing the official to have said he would not give a penalty because it would cause, quote, a lot of talk.


I said some brilliance. The whole thing is so ludicrous. It's utterly hilarious.


I mean, Harry Maguire and giving evidence at the time I saw a hand ball, he said I didn't know whether it was Mason or Callum. I just carried on. I didn't even know there was a potential check, said Luke. Sure, I don't know why they stopped the game if it was going wasn't going to be a pen. The ref even said to H, which is not line of duty h. I heard him that if I say it is a pen, then it's going to cause a lot of talk about it after.


So I don't know what happened there. Also on the subject of did Callum Hudson avoid Tappet gently with his hand while running away from the goal, it's all these not that that I would not give that as a penalty, even if it was a hand ball. But, you know, that's a different matter.


It's all these outside influences. There's only going to Soldier Vare talk before the game on Harry Chiki when they put that on the website that's influencing referees. Just how does only going to have enough time to read the Chelsea official website. That's all I want to know. Barrie, what were your thoughts on all of that? Do you care?


I know I'll be honest. I'm not even going to pretend I have anything of interest to say about this game. I just wish I had been watching Line of Duty, which is back in three weeks time. And I'm looking forward to it remains. Do you have anything to say about it?


Not so much on the whole handball thing, but on the game itself. Yeah, that the quality was just so poor. And I looked through both the elevons. It starts and I thought, this is Manchester United versus Chelsea. And again, I don't to sound like, you know, some old man back in my days was a classic game.


But look for the team. I just thought, you've got Greenwood and Gerard up front. And I love both as players for different reasons, but I love them. But it's Greenwood and Jerusalem, United Chelsea. You've got Harry Maguire and you've got Zoomer as a senator. But I just thought this is this is such a limp measure of a game that, you know, that shoot for teams to spend so much money have so much more quality in the over reliance.


Again, on Bruno Fernandez, I think is a little bit concerning as well. Just one thing I thought of going back to the question you asked Wilson regarding a soldier's record in these big games. It's been it's been mentioned that the six one smushing by Spurs in the season as maybe squad United. And since then, you know, soldier has kind of got the mentality of that's never going to happen again. And he's gone too far the other way now.


And that's maybe a theory as to why in these big games they have been so cautious, scared.


Thomas Tuko. Obviously, everyone was amazed he could speak English because he within 24 hours of arriving in the UK as if he'd never heard of the language before.


But he does struggle to pronounce McGuire and he said last Ibbitson pointed this video out to me where he said we suffered because of the quality of McGyver.


And I thought, well, actually, McGyver playing centre back from Argentina would be really quite exciting, wouldn't it? Let's go to the Etihad Manchester City to West Ham one. Terry says, As a West Ham fan, am I deluded to feel disappointed that we lost to Manchester City how quickly expectations change for football fans? They played alright in this game, but didn't they? And there is no shame, I thought better than all right.


I thought they were excellent and. They probably deserved a draw and probably should have got a draw because this idiot missed a sitter just almost the very last action of the game, he had to look certain to score and somehow managed to put a wide. But if I was a West Ham fan, I wouldn't be disappointed with that performance. I'd be hugely encouraged by it because they were, I thought, really, really good. Yeah.


20TH consecutive win, first city unbeaten in 27. Their subs bench had Consuelo Rodrique, Bernado, Sterling Foden.


Jaysus was quite a good substitutes bench isn't it, as they go perhaps that after 50 minutes we knew we were not going to paint something beautiful.


We were lucky we didn't create much, but we didn't concede anything. What we have done is amazing, but of course we don't have any titles yet. But what we have done now is like a title to be able to do twenty years, maybe one of the greatest achievements we have done together in our careers. They could win every game, Jonathan. It's unlikely, but they could, couldn't they, that that they're that good and they got that much debt.


Well, I think they're as close now to a quadruple as any team has ever been. I mean, that may not be true in the sense that there might have been a team that's got to the semi-final, the competition right. In the quarterfinal. But you're still up against Labour with the homelike to come. So they really should get to the quarterfinals, the Champions League. I don't think there's any outstanding side in Europe at the moment that even by and look iffy defensively, the Spanish giants are not what they were.


Yeva, you know, bizarre managerial appointments, not not playing as well as they were. They're clearly the best side in England because however many points, thirteen points clear, whatever they are at the moment, they've got to beat Tottenham in the league cup final, which you would expect them to do, quarterfinal the quarterfinal of the Champions League and leagues, you know, as good as one already. So. This this could be the greatest season in history, maybe should be the great season in history, which, given where they were in December, is remarkable.


I don't want to be a hipster, but is it a crazy suggestion to suggest that Consuelo's should be a strong contender for Player of the Year?


I think it's not a terrible and gunda one in there as well. Who would you vote for first?


I mean, I wouldn't give it to him, but somebody mentioned that he should be high up on the list of of contenders. And I kind of thought about and I thought considering his performance is a while since you do in the clinches recall, which is contributed to by the evolution, if you like, of his positioning on the pitch and all of that. I just wondered if it would be a bit of a left field. He shouldn't win it, but I just wondered if you guys thought it was.


Well, I don't know. I don't know if he didn't win it. I mean, it seems to me that it's pretty much got to go to city player this season, given the likelihood of them winning the majority, if not all competitions. And for me, their three best players have been Consolo, Gundogan and even deaths. From that point of view, I don't see why he shouldn't be in good shape.


Semi-Final Liverpool to Sheffield United became the first side to lose as many as 21 of their first 26 matches in an English football league season since Newport County in the Fourth Division in 1970 71.


Arum Ramsdale was brilliant for 79, by the way, and he's not had a brilliant season necessarily. But for him, Liverpool would have been out of sight. Alan Shearer matched the day, said Curtis Jones was was the best player. Looks to me, Jonathan, that he has everything you want from a central midfielder.


Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I think really inventive. Great touch. I don't know, England ever having been in a situation like that in now, certainly in my lifetime, the four of us could pick out England squads for the Euros. And between us we couldn't what Jordan could pick anybody.


But between us we could get 50.


We can have 50 odd players and none of them be ludicrous. Not quite every position, but the majority position is three, four, five really good candidates who in a previous age would have been certainties for the squad. So I think it probably will come the US will come too early for him, but.


I can't see him not being effective international within sort of five years or so, injuries notwithstanding, I'm getting very twitchy about the number of good guys just going to make it worse.


Every position, it's just going to make it harder. And also, it's really I think we said it before, it's sort of not fair on Southgate because England probably won't win the Euros because it's hard to win a major tournament. History suggests that. And when he doesn't win it, someone will say, here's the one that you should have picked and here are the 11 reserves. And all the people you picked shouldn't have been picked.


Leeds nil, Aston Villa one. Umland says, well, algorithm does. Jordan Bryan used to come up with his hot takes. Elliott says, how many by how many millions? Wilson and Brian think Bielsa outsmarted Smith. And why is the one nil scoreline in villain's favour actually both a damning indictment of Smith's ability and a testament to the unquestionable majesty of the great man of Rozario who wants to go first? Jordan. They didn't have Jack Grealish. They won again.


You know, their level on points with Spurs have a game in hand with them. They've got two games in hand on a lot of the sides above them, really. Dean Smith doing a tremendous job, isn't he?


Yes. No, but I mean, there's rumours that the Grealish injury actually is worse than he has. He is. He's mentioned and he's massively playing down how bad it is. So how well, Villa and granted a good start with Beatson leads here. How will Villa do from here on in the season? I think will be interesting to see. They've got a couple of games in hand. And I was of the mindset that having games in hand this season more than any actually is a negative than a positive.


But Villa might be proven me wrong once again that actually they can handle it. But we'll see now because last year was Grealish United and everybody else. It was it was a one man team this year. That's not the case. But he's still such a key figure in in I just think a presence on the pitch for them, him not being on the pitch. There's more quality on the pitch now, but I still feel his influence and the loss of that good could really be could be a factor in kind of where they go.


They can finish now twelfth or if they really kick off, they could finish top eight, top seven. So. Yeah, well, we'll see in. Dean Smith is all right.


You have to say though, unmoral algazi he always seems to step up. I mean, big boots to fill, but he never seems to let them down. There may be fans out there. I know he wasn't popular with them previously, but this season I've been impressed with him.


Jamie says, Max, do you know any other adjectives to describe Leeds other than fun? It might be interesting in future pods to challenge the narrative of Leeds being terrible in defence, 33 percent cent clean sheets this season, around 40 percent under Bielsa, hardly chaotic. I mean, they are quite fun, though. I, I certainly enjoy watching them.


I think they they struggle against teams. They set deep against them and the second half dead set against them. So that's the sort of one constant criticism I think you'd have of Leeds this season, that the man to man pressing, I think is susceptible against teams who who play a low block of this sort of chaos is is a wilful chaos. You know, it's sort of it's chaos within the parameters of Bielsa tries to allow. Again, the original question sets me up as some enormous balser apologist, which just isn't true.


I defend them against idiocy and I defend them against people who don't understand them. But it doesn't make him sort of perfect. But he is doing a very good job with a pretty limited team. What are they? They tend to at the moment of they tend to eleventh now with Arsenal winning yesterday, eleventh, eleventh with a team that last season had the seventh highest wage bill in the championship. That's an amazing achievement. He's given Leeds that intangible thing of a a sense of a sense of love for the team.


Again, a sense of love for football.


Invisible Man says, is this the most ridiculous table ever? Sky put up the entertainers, as in most goals in Premier League games this season for and against. So Leeds a top. I think we'd go with that. Manchester United second, Liverpool third in the top six.


It also includes West Brom in fourth and Crystal Palace, Crystal Palace in sixth in the entertainers. And they looked at that table and went, Yeah, let's put that up as the as the entertainers on palace, they drew nil there with Fulham in what was an absolutely terrible football match. Sorry, Graham, there's a challenge for you. Find something positive to say about Palace. I may have missed it, but I didn't hear you talk about the smash and grab at the Amex.


Yeah, we've completely forgot about that game where that was one of the funniest games I've ever seen. It was I was watching it and I thought the fans might score was so far from my mind that when Bentek scored that volley, I sort of it felt like something gone wrong because I was waiting for it to be disallowed. I couldn't conceive how that could possibly count. And then there's a lovely scene if I Hodgson giving a sort of little. Sip of delight in turning around a hungry Lovington on the touchline, Paul Hauspie was suggesting that as the ball was going to Bentek, the inplay odds were getting longer and longer and longer.


It is now at ten thousand seven.


Roy Hodgson did say after the Fulham game, we showed a real desire not to lose. So that's the hope for palace fans. Newcastle drew well with wolves. It wasn't a terrible game.


It's a problem for them, though, isn't it? Because I know wolves have had a little bit of a resurgence recently, also in terms of results without playing particularly brilliantly. But if you in Newcastle and you're looking at the effectiveness of where you're going to pick up points and they probably need another 10 points or so to stay up, you just thought home game against Wolves. That's a good chance at three. So to be one nil up and then to only get one and they could have lost it.


I mean, it's a remarkable block by Dubravka in the last minute.


And I think they're now without Callum Wilson, Alonso, Maximon and Megi Almir on for the foreseeable future. And that's basically their three best players.


Some sad news. Glenroe to the former Watford West, Newcastle and Norwich manager has died at the age of 65. He's had a long battle with illness after suffering a brain tumour. He was a defender during his playing days by playing Orien to QPR, Newcastle, Watford and Gillingham, where he began his managerial career. Also coached in England, set up when Glenn Hoddle was the manager, Howard Wilkinson, the chairman of the League Manor's Association, said Glen was such an unassuming, kind gentleman who demonstrated lifelong dedication to the game.


Not once headlines his commitment and application to his work at all levels warrants special mention Don Hutchinson, who played under radar at West Ham, wrote on Twitter. I'll never forget when my dad was passing away, the gaffer told me to get in my car to Newcastle to go and see him quick. Glen was on the phone with me for all five hours of my journey. Sleep well, Gaffar. My thoughts are with his family. By all accounts, everybody that I've spoken to whenever he's been brought up in conversation has made a special point to mention what a nice bloke he was and wasn't a really good footballer as well.


Yeah, I mean, you know, when I was growing up in the north east near Newcastle as captain, you know, very unusual, certainly back for the time in that he was very comfortable on the ball. They happy being in the ball forward. He had the voter shuffle. He would drop the shoulder and then go into his left foot. And I saw on Twitter has been tweeted around like, well, I think I think QPR scored with him basically taking the ball from his own penalty area to the opposite penalty area and crossing a defender ahead of his time.


I mean, he sort of physically the thing, though, even in the it struck me how thin his arms were, he wasn't sort of something he physically dominating opponents. He he was a good player because of his reading of the game and is his touch and his intelligence and the handful of dealings out of him as a manager. He was, as you say, he was, could never have been more more helpful or more polite.


Yes, I knew Glenrowan had passed away at the age of 65. Will be back in a minute. Wagons passed through The Guardian Football Weekly, Dan says, If not that I'm counting my chickens Norwich go up this season, what do they need to do differently to stay up, stick to their principles or go for a Big Sam type manager? I'm not sure that would be the right approach for Norwich City. Why wouldn't they keep Daniel Akaka?


Well, I don't know. I'm only asking that I don't. I'm Daniel Focus's. You're doing a really good job. Yeah, I'm just the messenger here with this question. Jonathan, stick with Daniel Akaka. I'm happy.


Yeah, great. Melvin. Here's a question for Jonathan Wilson. How old do you need to be to be a long suffering Sunderland fan?


Four or five? Yeah, he sent a picture of someone called Joey, 17, football memorabilia lover Keane Cui's, a Long-suffering Sunderland fan. Can he be longsuffering at 17? I think in Sunderland's case, definitely.


But on the other hand, it's going to get worse. Well, I say that I'm suddenly full of optimism after, you know, the takeovers happens. Some of them suddenly are winning games. And, you know, two goals we scored in and last quarter an hour to get through on Saturday, both of them extraordinary strikes. And outside the box, we've got this billionaire who's going to waste absolute fortune on making a summit at the championship club. And we've got the Papa John's final look forward to that.


It's true in two weeks time. Clock's ticking.


Were your outside of the box goals as good as Liam O'Neill's for Cambridge United, which keeps us top of League two? And it made me. Well, it was to us.


Well, yeah, but but it made me sort of involuntarily squeal in my living room. And I think it was the closest I've got to celebrating like I was in the stadium. You know, I didn't find someone I didn't know and hug them because there was no one I didn't know. Well, there was no one in my living room because my wife has left me.


Well, I was just I was watching. I was watching on live score. Just the it's just number two on down after nine minutes. And what you get nine plus one, two, three, nine plus eight before the equaliser came. But sort of once I knew it was going to say ten minutes of injury time. Yeah, probably got this. But the weird thing was I thought I misheard.


There was a header. So when I was watching the highlights later, I was bewildered as the ball dropped to Chris Maguire. Twenty five yards and he lost it. So why is that been ruled out now?


It turned out that was that was the goal by the non league dog says any of you tried the Notts County goal in your back gardens today? It's a this it's a is a scorpion kick. Barry, would you call this.


I'm saying it's a bug kill. The guy who scored it is called Bockl. I've never seen anyone score a goal like it before, so I think it should be named after him. Like the Pannonica penalty was named after the guy who tried it first. So it's a Boku.


The guy who scored, it's called Eli Sam. What? Yeah, sorry, I spent all weekend labouring under the delusion the guy who scored it was called something Bockl.


He's not called something Buckel. He's called Eli.


Oh, well, then it shouldn't be called a Bocuse.


Mr. Buchel, I got that call because I put out a tweet saying it should be called a bookie. And I was perplexed that it didn't get more traction. Now I know why.


Well, I think it should be called a Buckwild.


Yeah, they named after an idiot journalist who spent an entire weekend in a state of confusion. Well, now I'm in confusion.


A few things we need to tie up. One is a few podcasts ago, months ago. I don't know, Jonathan, when he suggested it would be good. You would like to have a cardboard cut-out of yourself so that it was to do with Bernie.


Sorry about. Oh, yeah, that's right.


James Madison used to have a cardboard cut-out of him.


It is alleged that I think we should be careful that even Barney wasn't convinced of the veracity of the.


So James Madison used to put a cardboard cut-out of himself in taxis with himself. Is that what it was?


No, it was when he was in clubs to have a heat wave for Kabakov himself to attract the waiters attention. I mean, this is so far down the line of Chinese. Without it, you know, it could be Kasper Schmeichel with a dormice. I don't know.


So that's a new that's the twenty twenty one Leicester version of Cluedo that I'm really looking forward to. But anyway, thank you to Ed Kavali, friend of the pod's Australian broadcaster, who sent you a cardboard cut-out of you where he sent it to me so I had to deliver it to you. But is there behind you, isn't it?


And it's the greatest present I've received in, I don't know, Salom, but it's yeah, it's it gives you something. It's sort of an evening. It's very lifelike. And I mean, what I would say he he is quite truculent, just seem to have some quite extreme views on Frank Lampard.


Next up, we were talking about Mogwai, won't we, Barry, and musical influences or musicians who listen to the show if they want to write a new theme tune, things like that. And John McClure from Reverend to make his big Sheffield Wednesday fan, he tweeted us to say, I've got a new theme tune ready. And I was like, yes, John.


He said, it's a belter to which you said Barry will be the judge of that, to which John said, Alright, Simon Cowell back down.


So I don't know if you've I don't know if your your discourtesy has stopped the reverend from sending along his track.


I think Maclure is a nice bloke. I would imagine he he would have seen the funny side. I'm sure his tune. Isabelita Well.


Well, John, send it to us. We'd love to hear it. Don Henry heard our discussion about Mogwai and us, and he is made by by the way, sorry.


Before you get to this, we should add we did single handedly get Mogwai to number one. They are number one, congratulations, Mogwai. But I do think they're getting slightly too much credit for their achievement when it was actually down to us. Do you want to tell Jonathan McGuire a band? No, no, no.


I tried to work that out. Thanks. OK, well done. Well done. So done. He said these are extremely crude. I hope Mogwai and Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai don't object, but this shows the huge possibility of a football weekly Mogwai crossover.


Why not? Nobody is saying the Bielsa is a guarantor of trophy's, nobody is saying he's a man, he comes in big sack of silverware when the day of judgement. When we went into Pax. Will it? Will it be legal? Will they be committing to sell about? Will it be the hearts of the people of your. People are saying that people who have been coporation in Brixton, you work. Oh, my goodness, that's their most famous football collaboration since the darn movie.


And here is Mogwai featuring Bonnie Ronney.


Now let's have a discussion about what about putting the to honestly where we've got an empty stadium screens. How do we please welcome thank you to Mogwai, by the way, for saying we're allowed to do that without reviewing them.


But like you, you couldn't give them anything but five stars or whatever, whatever songs get these days.


So thank you very much, Dan, for doing that editing. And before we go, Jonathan writes, I've reached a point where the word pellets is just a sound made with air that has no meaning. Lots of people got in touch, David said, on the wooden pallets thing here in Portugal and presumably many other places that don't have a lot of central heating, they use an alternative to logs for wood burning stoves and fireplaces to heat your house. He sent me a picture of a salamander.


Our pellets log burner six KW DBI eight one for a 4.5 rating. That gets this is obviously because Spurs beat pellets they got through on Thursday night just to bring it back to football.


And I got my agent got an email from from Antonio Long Car.


Dear Max, I love your podcast and the great British humour. The quality of the analysis is great. And now a fun fact for Monday. The company behind the football club Wolfsberg AC Brackett's pellets, the pellets are mostly for heating. You can buy the pellet for pellet stoves in small bags, 15 kilos or 10 kilos. You could also order briquettes made from pallets. We use them in the Austrian army for our stoves. Then he's given me a link to some products.


It's a link to a website kind regards Antonio Lawncare greetings from a Varney's with Croatian roots kick twenty eighteen smiley face. So there we are really thought the Croatians should have been tired, but it's a different story and and that'll do for today.


Thank you so much, John Jarrett. Brian take. Thank you very.


Thank you. Jonathan Wilson.


Cheers. Thank you. Barry Glendinning. You're welcome. There's no tomorrow. We're back on Thursday and then a bonus pot on Friday because that's the way the Premier League games go. So hold your breath until Thursday and then two pods in two days. Marvellous.


For more great podcasts from The Guardian, just go to the Guardian dot com slash podcasts.