Matic holds key on re­turn to Chelsea

Weekly Trust - - Shot! - WITH DAVID BILLING­TON

Last week I promised you news on Tot­ten­ham’s Kenyan de­fender Vic­tor Wanyama and I have been in close con­tact with the club this week. I am afraid the news is not good. Vic­tor saw a spe­cial­ist this week and his knee in­jury is so se­ri­ous that he could be out for the rest of this year and into 2018. Moussa Sis­soko has been deputis­ing for Vic­tor in mid­field but he does not have the com­po­sure and skill to be the per­fect re­place­ment. Mousa Dem­bele has also cov­ered Vic­tor’s po­si­tion but man­ager Mouri­cio Po­chet­tino isn’t 100% happy with his per­for­mances. That leaves one long-term ob­vi­ous op­tion. Spurs have long tracked Ever­ton’s un­set­tled Ross Barkley and I am told that a bid in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow is likely. Tot­ten­ham have a tough string of games at the end of Jan­uary/begin­ning of Fe­bru­ary and meet Manch­ester United, Liver­pool and Arse­nal in three con­sec­u­tive games and it is pos­si­ble that they will have a two matches in the Cham­pi­ons League if they make the last 16. In con­trast to the mid­field prob­lem, congratulations to Spurs for their great mid­week win over Real Madrid where they com­pleted a sec­ond win over the reign­ing Euro­pean cham­pi­ons. Spurs are now in the last six­teen of the com­pe­ti­tion and de­spite their prob­lems the mid­field per­formed well.

Mourhino’s strange be­hav­iour

I am not sure what Jose Mourhino is up to with the fans at Manch­ester United. He seems to be creat­ing con­fronta­tion where there is none. Manch­ester United Sup­port­ers Trust (MUST) have now called for a meet­ing with the man­ager to ease ten­sions be­tween sup­port­ers and Mourhino. I was at the match with Liver­pool and ad­mit there were some boos when Mar­cus Rash­ford was re­placed but it wasn’t very loud. Then the crowd be­gan to get on Romelu Lukau’s back as he failed to score but again the fans crit­i­cism was only luke warm and most fans seemed fairly happy with the way United were play­ing. Some say that Mourhino is mak­ing United into a bor­ing team to watch and his fo­cus is only gain­ing three points even if the score is 1-0 every time and the match play not very en­ter­tain­ing. But again, there is only min­i­mal dis­con­tent. Why then did Mourhino put his fin­ger to his lips af­ter the vic­tory over Spurs at Old Traf­ford last week­end? Mour­inho said it was to quiet the crowd and stop crit­i­cis­ing him and the play­ers. The one thing Jose must not do is up­set the fans be­cause it will be bad for him be­cause that was what hap­pened at Chelsea where he lost the fans and the play­ers and then his job. Will Jose never learn?

Curse of Pre­mier League ti­tle hold­ers

There is now a sense of worry at Chelsea and man­ager An­to­nio Conte js do­ing ev­ery­thing in his power to play the sit­u­a­tion down and has is­sued a “There is no panic” re­as­sur­ance as the Blues head into a huge “must win” game with Manch­ester United on Sun­day. I wrote at the begin­ning of the sea­son that Chelsea were crazy to sell Ne­manja Matic to Manch­ester United and to me the mid-week loss to Roma un­der­lined that view. Chelsea were shred­ded at the back by a strong Roma team in the Cham­pion’s League. It seems that, like Le­ices­ter af­ter their fa­mous Pre­mier League ti­tle win, Chelsea are fall­ing to de­fend their sta­tus. It is al­most like a curse of the ti­tle hold­ers: Bril­liant one sea­son and not too good the next. I know they are fourth in the ta­ble but it has been a trou­ble­some road so far. Conte has prob­lems, it must be ad­mit­ted, with the com­mand­ing pres­ence of N’Gol Kante miss­ing in mid­field and Chelsea have con­ceded 11 goals in six matches dur­ing his ab­sence. I no­ticed in the mid­week Roma match that ex Manch­ester City star Edin Dzeko, now star­ring for Roma, neatly threaded a ball to the un­marked Diego Perotti be­cause An­to­nio Rudi­ger, David Luiz and Ce­sar Azpilicueta were stand­ing in a line and all were caught off bal­ance and the de­fence split wide open. And that sce­nario hap­pened more that once. Com­bine that sort of tac­ti­cal prob­lem with the fact that An­to­nio Conte has been get­ting very an­gry this week as he strongly de­nied there was trou­ble be­tween him and the Chelsea board of di­rec­tors and you can see how un­set­tled Chelsea are. Conte em­pha­sised that, de­spite re­ports to the con­trary, he is not talk­ing to any Ital­ian clubs about re­turn­ing there to man­age. Chelsea need to take a breath, re­or­gan­ise and work out the best way to op­er­ate in mid­field. Harry goes for 50 be­fore De­cem­ber 31 Harry Kane has scored 45 goals in all com­pe­ti­tions so far this year. And his aim is to score 50 by the end of 2017. He scored a brace against Liver­pool and has 13 games left be­fore the end of the year. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has al­ready hit 50 goals in 51 games and Cris­tiano Re­naldo has 43 in 47 games but they don’t play in the Pre­mier League and have ar­guably an eas­ier time. Kane met leg­end Maradona be­fore the Liver­pool match and was star struck! He said, “He was such a down to earth great guy. What a player and I can only learn from some­one like him.” Kane’s loss to Spurs against Manch­ester United was ev­i­dent al­though one player does not make a team. You can never keep Zla­tan down My favourite quote of the week came from World Box­ing Cham­pion An­thony Joshua. He was due to fight Car­los Takem and be­fore the fight, which he won, he was vis­ited by Manch­ester United star Zla­tan Ibrahi­movich. I will let An­thony’s words tell you the rest of the story: “Zla­tan loves his box­ing and his mind­set is phe­nom­e­nal but he picked me up on some­thing I said af­ter my fight with Wladimir Kl­itschko ear­lier in the year. He pointed out that I’d said ‘I’m not per­fect, but I’m try­ing’. Zla­tan told me, ‘No, no no! What you must is say is: ‘I am per­fect and I’m not try­ing.” Good old Zla­tan, as con­fi­dent as ever and you can never keep the bril­liant Swede out of the head­lines! It will be a great day when he re­turns to United’s at­tack.

Dele Alli

Satur­day, Novem­ber 4, 2017

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