While this blog is usually the preserve of the post-match press conference and the anger, derision and sycophancy that entails, this week we start with some entertainment before the mixed zone feeding frenzy.
Jurgen Klopp’s attempt to deliver a different style of bear hug to each one of his Liverpool players leaving the field at Stamford Bridge told you all you needed to know. We didn’t need him to sit in a room with the Daily Telegraph asking how he felt after the win – we knew. He was buzzing. Even the most demure, straight-laced of players can’t resist a childish grin when caught in an affectionate Klopp headlock on the way to the tunnel and that is what we got; plenty of joy.
Maybe this is how we should replace all post-match press conferences in future? Sack off the microphones and get the managers to display their feelings and thoughts on the game through the medium of some sort of warped game of charades out on the pitch. There would however be obvious casualties. Wenger would completely miss all of his players at the final whistle, claiming simply that he ‘did not see’ them.
Tony Pulis, complete with baseball cap and foaming mouth would, no doubt, be pulled over by the stewards as a pitch invader and banned from the stadium for life. Meanwhile, Eddie Howe would probably invoke the stadium announcer to appeal for the parents of a young blonde boy to collect him from the players’ reception.
Probably best we stick with the press conferences, eh?
One man who certainly wasn’t dishing out any bear hugs this weekend was Jose Mourinho. Felled by Watford and his former adversary in Serie A, Walter Mazzarri, the Man Utd manager turned on his players once more. Referring to when he took the job, Mourinho stated, “I knew I had a task. It is tactical but also mental.” No doubt the second reference in a week to the mental fragility of the squad he has inherited. This wasn’t the only issue he harped back to either, on Sunday. The Portuguese again blamed the officials, bemoaning the fact that it was the same bad fortune that befell him the weekend before against City. But it is more what Mourinho isn’t saying at the moment that is telling.
As Doddsy raised on our latest podcast, Mourinho seems to have lost the granite edge that simply would not allow his team to lose three games on the spin. His pre-match spiel about former foe Mazzari, was conciliatory and tame. The build up to the Manchester derby similar. Whether it is the behavioural expectations that the Old Trafford hierarchy seem to have laid down as a condition for his appointment, or the scars from his implosion at Chelsea, Mourinho seems a touch more passive. If he is to turn his team into title challengers once more, he will need to get that edge back.
Talking of getting the edge back, Tony Pulis will have been relieved by his West Brom team’s 4-2 drubbing of hapless visitors, West Ham. In fact, delirium had clearly set in by the time the league’s most recognisable baseball cap model faced the media. Pulis was clearly convinced that his team had deserved more from the performance the week before against Bournemouth and, despite having scored no goals and registering just the two shots on target in that game, felt it was a mirror image of the way his team played against West Ham.
“We’re pleased the ball has gone in the back of the net but we’ve done nothing different – other than the ball has gone in the back of the net.”
Nothing different, then. Apart from scoring the four goals eh, Tony? I hadn’t realised that hitting a team for four had grown so tiresome for the Baggies fans who are obviously spoilt with free-flowing football week in, week out. More confusing than Pulis’ post match comments though is that West Brom are tenth. That’s what playing four centre backs gets you.