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Author Archive for Jonathan Wilson

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Lionel Messi returns for Argentina but can his dreams finally be realised?

The Barcelona forward will play for his country again on Friday but can he lead this squad, which is less gifted than in the past, to glory in the Copa América?Last weekend, Lionel Messi hit a high even in the context of his ridiculous career, his name…

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Four English clubs in the Champions League last eight. What took so long?

Celebrate by all means but ask also why Premier League sides have underperformed for a decade and remember it means little without the trophyUnfurl the bunting, roll out the barrel, clear the streets for a party: there are four Premier League teams in …

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Brendan Rodgers looks like a natural fit at Leicester City

Jamie Vardy is only one player who seems a lot happier at the new manager’s arrivalTime is not something habitually afforded managers in the modern age. Whatever Brendan Rodgers’s motivations for taking the Leicester City job now, rather than waiting u…

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PSG demise a lesson in the corrupting effect of money and arrogance | Jonathan Wilson

It was a great week for the puckish charms of football and its ability to confound hubrisFootball still, it turns out, has the power to fight back. Money is a lot of things but it isn’t quite everything, not yet.Although before we get carried away, it …

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Lukaku brings goals and technical excellence, so why the excessive criticism? | Jonathan Wilson

Romelu Lukaku is the 20th most prolific scorer in Premier League history, but he gets judged by the wrong standardsRomelu Lukaku’s two goals against Crystal Palace on Wednesday took him to 111 in the Premier League, level with Dion Dublin as the 20th m…

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Is defending making a comeback after the gung-ho attacking years?

Liverpool’s draw with Bayern followed a Champions League last-16 pattern so far – and the phenomenon runs deeperIt’s early days yet, of course. Nobody should be getting carried away. There’s plenty of time for the second legs or subsequent rounds to ma…

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Chelsea fans don’t often have time to turn on a manager – this felt decisive | Jonathan Wilson

Maurizio Sarri is serving up predictable, sterile football and some choices are hard to fathom but Chelsea share the blame for this messChelsea fans don’t often turn on their manager. They don’t usually have time. But there, distinct in the cool Februa…

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Did Neymar’s absence help PSG to prosper at Manchester United?

Brazilian’s refusal to track causes problems and PSG’s discipline suggested it may be unwise to play him, Mbappé and Cavani against top sidesWhisper it – and try at least for a while to ignore the enormous Brazilian ego that has temporarily vacated the…

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Chelsea struggle with the long term and time looks nearly up for Sarri | Jonathan Wilson

For the Italian to work as manager would take time and there have always been doubts as to whether he will get itHow bad is too bad? What level of defeat forces a club to change its long-term plans? Is there even a long-term plan at Chelsea? Chelsea’s …

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Sarri needs to compromise or risk Chelsea suffering at Manchester City | Jonathan Wilson

Manager likes to play his way regardless but Chelsea’s win over Guardiola’s side in December was not down to his masterplanSometimes things in football just happen. The most extraordinary victories can be achieved by teams whose tactical schemes have s…

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Sarri needs to compromise or risk Chelsea suffering at Manchester City | Jonathan Wilson

Manager likes to play his way regardless but Chelsea’s win over Guardiola’s side in December was not down to his masterplanSometimes things in football just happen. The most extraordinary victories can be achieved by teams whose tactical schemes have s…

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Could Manchester City be tripped up by Pep Guardiola overthinking? | Jonathan Wilson

Defeat of Arsenal can be styled as a Guardiola-inspired success but there were also signs pressure can muddle City’s managerFootball can be a confusing world at times, when narratives clash to leave an outcome that seems to mean two entirely different …

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Simple tweak to Lukaku’s role keeps charmed prince Solskjær’s reign alive | Jonathan Wilson

Playing Romelu Lukaku on the right wing meant Ole Gunnar Solskjær created the space to get the most out of Alexis Sánchez in the win over ArsenalEasy game, this management lark. So easy, you wonder what on earth Ole Gunnar Solskjær was doing during his…

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False nine: ancient tactical curveball still retains the power to shock | Jonathan Wilson

It is 125 years since the first false nine and its history since is fascinating as much for its failure to become a dominant tactic as for its many successful applicationsAt times it feels in football there is nothing new, merely the reinvocation of ol…

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Chelsea have a good manager and players – so why are they in a mess? | Jonathan Wilson

There appears to be no long-term strategy at Chelsea, which has led to Maurizio Sarri trying to impose his rigid style on players who are not suited to itIn September 2016, after Chelsea had lost limply away to Arsenal, Antonio Conte laid into the “bad…

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With his ‘spygate’ PowerPoint, Marcelo Bielsa has enhanced his legend | Jonathan Wilson

The Leeds manager has an almost pathological honesty and there are few people in football so ready to admit fault as himMarcelo Bielsa’s first job in coaching was at the city university in Buenos Aires. He hadn’t made it as a player, too slow to make m…

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With his ‘spygate’ PowerPoint, Marcelo Bielsa has enhanced his legend | Jonathan Wilson

The Leeds manager has an almost pathological honesty and there are few people in football so ready to admit fault as himMarcelo Bielsa’s first job in coaching was at the city university in Buenos Aires. He hadn’t made it as a player, too slow to make m…

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Ole Gunnar Solskjær shows there is substance behind the smiles | Jonathan Wilson

Victory over Spurs not only extended the Norwegian’s perfect start as Manchester United’s caretaker manager but also demonstrated his ability to do the job long-termHe could smile, be gracious, look pleased to be there and deliver the letter U in a ple…

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Solskjær’s approach shows players are not sets of data, but humans | Jonathan Wilson

The Norwegian’s man-management at Manchester United has been top class – but the game against Tottenham will show whether he has the tactical nous to beat the bestNobody realistically doubts that Manchester United’s game against Tottenham on Sunday rep…

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11.7 millimetres from glory: now Liverpool must brush off defeat

Jürgen Klopp’s side may have seen their lead over Manchester City cut to four points after a miraculous goalline clearance but they must recover quickly to end title droughtThe world moves on. Technology develops and evolves. The aesthetics of the spec…