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Number 1 commented on: 2017/18 Barclays Premier League Thread
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A11_Smithy commented on: Championship table at end of season looking odd?
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Number 1 Comments
Don't think Merino-Hayden has even been the worst CM pairing Newcastle have put in the PL, let alone worst ever, although in truth it didn't play very well either (Merino wasn't awful, but still gets some marks taken off for letting Mooy get away before the winner). Diame coming on and passing straight to the ref was a definite downgrade further, mind.

It was a bit of a shit game all round, decided by the only real moment of quality and some inattentive marking. I think our bigger problem was going forward - just so lethargic for a counter-based strategy, when compared with the more streetwise and pacy feel to the tactics used when we won at Huddersfield in March.

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noir et blanc armée

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Hmmmm... like last week, did alright without threatening in the first half and fell to shit straight after half-time and didn't look like recovering. Which was understandable in the context of Shelvey's idiocy last week, but less so in this one.

Gonna be a bit of a chore of a season I fear.
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Our forward play has been really lethargic throughout.
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Because they've sold Lukaku and should still get reasonably big money for Barkley? - In fact if they get £35 for Barkley they will have a zero spend.

Although I've just seen Everton have signed Jose Baxter - that is surprising

Also that, but I think their owners are wealthy enough to afford this without such sales. Although I've heard Barkley's move might be on ice for the moment as he's injured his hamstring.

Baxter rejoining is weird, mind. They hopeful of a late resurgence where he massively belatedly matches his FM09 potential?
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The Premier League has been getting out of control since about 2014, but this year has taken the cake. Sigurdsson probably is worth that figure to Swansea because they wouldn't have stayed up without his goals and assists last season, but it is still outrageously over the top for Everton to fork that out. Feels weird to say Everton are overspending from wealthy owners, mind - got a bit used to Bill Kenwright saying they were skint or almost always having Barclays knocking at the door for repayments.

As for the Mags have signing Joselu, its a curious one that a not insubstantial quantity of Stoke fans seem to think he's their best striker given he's barely played for them and spent last year out on loan. But it still feels like we're continuing the weird cavalcade of "eh, might come good" signings that have already turned up this year, though least he seems to have joined for less than half the £12million figure banded around last week.
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There were a few positive signs, and I do wonder if Kane got away with one for the foul on Lejeune, but Shelvey has ultimately decided the game by behaving like an enormous bellend.
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I'd say Ruud Gullit with Rob Lee is the closer parallel than Souness-Bellamy. That was more a case of two abrasive personalities rubbing each other the wrong way over claims Bellamy refused to play out wide. Somewhat ironic given that's where Bellamy played a lot for Man City, Liverpool and Cardiff several years after departing St. James'.

Its an ugly business but it happens. More of a surprise of no Krul buyer, mind, although I'm guessing the injury problems and poor form since the mid point of 2013-14 don't help. I was assuming Saivet might creep in if Colback is sold, although it is likely someone else would just turn up if that happened. I thought Hanley had already left, which shows how little attention I was paying, Lazaar was a bit of a pointless signing, albeit kinda ok given it was from the "speculate to accumulate" school. The sell to buy ethos was the sympathy for Ashley, even if slightly eroded by then knowing he can be in a position to write huge cash for a property deal then saying "I'm not that wealthy" due to share dealings - values make it worth noting to take the words sceptically. Its a bit of a 1% problem to have.

Still, whatever. An extra striker given Gayle's dodgy hamstring, Mitrovic's lack of scoring and Murphy now playing for Nottingham Forest is the main thing. Don't think that's too much to ask for...
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If Conte wanted something to back up his calls for more investment, I think he has it. Fucking hell what a spectacularly shit start they're making.

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noir et blanc armée

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I think Benitez has really overplayed the challenge. - He's a miracle worker for scraping the Championship - Hughton who was forced to sell 10x what he signed - won after a 100 point season. The next year the club finished 12th with terrible managers Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew in charge - and a £23m 'profit' on transfers.

Like can you fucking imagine if Shelvey played out of his skin for 6 months was flogged for £50m and was then given Jonathon Douglas on a free?

tbf I suspect Ashley doesn't really care about transfer fees - I think he'll let the club spend what it can without him putting in further money. TV rights and player sales are generating ridiculous cash - transfer fees and wages are generating a tremendous cash drain. - It doesn't really affect him if a shite full back costs £2m or £20m really. - Maybe that Justin Barnes bloke is doing something behind the scenes to put the brakes on.

It might well be it was exaggerated, but the Championship this time felt tougher than it did in 2009-10. Either that or back then we had a more street-wise squad with some proper buggers like Nolan, Smith, Barton, Butt, etc. I'm not as bothered as I could be though - either way, we still got up and had the added bonus of winning the league. Wasn't perfect, and we definitely underestimated it far too often, but we did what set out to do.

I'm aware a snippet has just been released of an interview Sky did with Mike Ashley that is to be in full broadcast on Sunday after the Spurs game. Says he's not as wealthy as people think due to most of the wealth being in Sports Direct shares, and that he can't afford a £200m cheque for Rafa to do what may. A fair bit of the reaction from non-NUFC fans on Twitter seemed negative, curiously. Don't think it helps a report was out in another newspaper the other day saying he signed a cheque for £200m towards the redevelopment of some London properties. And even then, I was broadly sympathetic to the fact it was sell to buy but our sell list has few takers.

Krul is a bit of a surprise. Thought he might get a look in rather than no squad number and being told to go away.
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I'm getting bored of the bulk of NUFC seasons descending into a perceived farce on at least 5 different levels before its even started. Maybe one year it'll run smoothly enough.

I'm aware we're in a sell-to-buy scenario by virtue of being lumped with several unwanted players that takes us above 25 players, and its not hard to imagine Ashley's coldness towards an out of control transfer market, which is fair because the market is truly deranged, but the market is just one where £19million for Andre Gray, for instance, is the going rate. It all feels like another in a long list of Ashley gambles - hardly assuring given a lot of Ashley's gambles end up going badly

Not that I can say my expectations are that high anyway, given we're new boys with a weaker squad than 2010 and arguably weaker than the one we went down with, although this lot probably give more of a toss. Survival is good enough an ambition, and in all probability, it looks probably good enough for that. Maybe even something slightly better than 4th-from-bottom, if only because last season, 8th to 17th was split by six points, which is almost comically compressed. Not that I can agree with the post above, given the alternative for RB is back to the horseshit like McClaren or Carver. And that wasn't any fucking fun the first time around.

Anyway, I usually get this wrong, but...

1 - Man United - Lukaku and Matic are excellent buys, and they were very hard to beat last year. Can see them having what it takes
2 - Man City - Stronger than last year, but central defence remains far too reliant on injury-prone Kompany
3 - Chelsea - Morata is a decent replacement for Costa but feels like they're misfiring in comparison to last year
4 - Liverpool - May be a good tip for a cup but still lacking title challenge numbers. Although if Coutinho goes, might not be so rosy
5 - Arsenal - Not really convinced the soft-feeling factor to their defence has been resolved
6 - Spurs - Lack of depth and the Wembley factor are negative points. Did think they'd finish there last year though so could end up being wrong
----------------------
18 - Swansea - Sigurdsson looks like he's going, plus Llorente sounds like he'll be out for a while (or going Chelsea) and without a spree they look to have little alternative firepower
19 - Brighton - Would be impressive to see them stay up, but don't see much that the squad is likely to pull that off
20 - Huddersfield - In fairness, I didn't expect them to get promoted in the first place, so could easily see them defying such a doomy prediction and finishing the right side of the line

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noir et blanc armée

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Tbf I don't really rate Joselu as a signing. Weirdly a fair few Stoke fans hate the idea of selling him, although I'm wondering if part of that is because they still haven't really replaced Arnautovic for goals, and their main alternatives for the attacking positions are the aging Diouf & Crouch, or Berahino, who has been shit since joining them. I liked keeping Atsu, but that's only because he did reasonably well last season.
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I'd have liked Haidara to do well after he recovered quickly from the McManaman assault in 2013. But clearly few saw Paul Dummett being a consistent first team starter coming. Shame but it happens. I was under the assumption Gamez was staying given his pre-season role, while I don't think Lazaar did anything. Surprised at Krul and Darlow being potentially on the "Go away" list, mind, even if the former wasn't exactly great in his last full year and a bit.

Tbh I don't recall major buzz about Riviere, but then he did arrive on the back of a half-decent campaign in Monaco (a phrase that's becoming more frequently in use this summer) so I guess the expectation was he might at least do something of use, rather than a few pre-season goals and one scuffed effort at QPR. Not that it matters now, mind.
They can because its clear the FFP transfer bans are absolutely useless, and clubs aren't scared of them. Had loads of bans recently and it barely makes a difference to teams.

As far as I remember, the only punishments UEFA ever really handed out were partial things like Champions League reduced squads and small fines, and even that's gone away of late.
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My expectations with Spurs is that the new stadium move and having to borrow Wembley means Spurs are probably not going to have as good a season as last year. But then I didn't think they'd advance on 3rd 16 months ago, so what do I know?
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I'm puzzled as to how PSG can afford this reported Neymar fee and contract.
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I like the navy/pink kit but the electric hoops is a bit more hit and miss for me.
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New light blue away strip for NUFC is smart, even if it has Puma's daft spotty sleeve stripe thing. Although I think it would've looked nicer with light blue shorts.
http://i2.chroniclelive.co.uk/incoming/article13343345.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/NUFC-away-kit.jpg

As for another newly promoted side clad in Puma gear, I can't tell if I like or hate the new Huddersfield away number...
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ur1fXHudsV8/WWt_suKDgcI/AAAAAAABQBw/nTJZKA0XTUEdtQZ30eukruBwtvETlRmsgCLcBGAs/s1600/insane-huddersfield-town-17-18-premier-league-away-kit%2B%25285%2529.jpg
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Not sure if Jacob Murphy is a £12million player, but the transfer market is increasingly nonsensical so figures Norwich would charge that and we'd pay it. Manquillo is a curious signing, although I guess we needed an extra full-back with Anita now a Leeds player and Gamez/Haidara/Lazaar being non-entities last season.
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New kit is like that but with gold sponsors.

I like it, but its kinda ruined by the fact Puma launched dozens of other kits in the same colour scheme for various other clubs worldwide at the same time.
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Is it no longer just not enough to say "We've signed this player"?
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Almost like Nike couldn't be bothered with that Chelsea kit smh

It's like someone woke up at 8AM this morning and realised that he forgot to make the kit.

Nike look like they can no longer be arsed with kits full stop. Seemed evident when they gave the majority of their teams the same Vapor template for the Euros and consequent season. Spurs' are the better of these selections but still a bit boring.
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Why curious? Chelsea are heavily involved with chasing Bakayoko from Monaco so I'd imagine Conte is alright with seeing Matic go. Mourinho has managed him in the past so knows what he is getting and needs to shore up the midfield at United, no?

While Matic may not be as highly rated by Chelsea fans as I clearly thought, it still strikes me as strengthening a potential direct trophy rival.
I think Matic is a great player for United to have. I wouldn't mind him staying but I think he deserves to be first choice somewhere else. Next to Kante it is hard to look very good as he just does everything and is all over the pitch. Matic just needs a role that means he won't dwell on the ball. Tackle and pass.

To be fair Kante is a powerhouse capable of doing the work of 2/3 midfielders at once, so yeah, I can get why Matic would be overshadowed. But still seems like a useful option for them to have.
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I know kit makers like having a new gimmick but this weird dot stripe thing is bad enough when used as a sleeve accent. For full stripes its shit. Least Puma stuck to conventional stripes on our new home kit.

Also, as said, why do Plymouth have a green away kit? Its like that season a couple of years back when Norwich had 3 yellow/green kits in their wardrobe.
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Matic to Man U is heavily rumoured at the minute. Bit of a curious one, that one.
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The monthly "Rafa about to quit Newcastle" story is on a few back pages tomorrow.

Bored of that now tbh.
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Southampton's home kit I think is meant to be a reference to a strip they wore in the 70s. Though they never look right in anything other than stripes... that red and gold kit when they had Pochettino, Lallana and Shaw looked more like a rejected Manchester United strip. The away kit does look nice though IMO.

As for Chelsea, I'd forgotten they were swapping Adidas for Nike. Probably get that boring Vapor template everyone wearing them now gets.
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Southampton launching their new kit with a bespoke animation that takes a pop or two at Ronald Koeman is pretty funny.
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Southampton have sacked Puel.

Bit of a weird one really. 8th is not terrible for a team in L1/administration not that long ago, but they were crap after the League Cup final. Tbh I thought he'd been fired a while ago.
£10m players have become £30m players, £2/3m players have become £10m ones, it's insane.

Yeah. I guess its the nature of the beast. But surely this bubble is coming closer and closer to popping?
noir et blanc armée

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Fairly pleasing symmetry, given our first game in the PL-era top flight and our last one were home games against Spurs.

Hopefully they make another slow start.
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Its been strangely quiet so far but its slightly mental how not so long ago, fees like £16m for Maguire would've been ludicriously over-the-top and now, in the cash orgy that is the Prem, its like buying teams are going "Meh, solid price".
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Most of the media are reporting takeover talk, with Chinese groups among the front-runners.

A year ago I would've welcomed it but we seem in a happier place at the moment than for most of Ashley's decade in charge. Plus I dunno - a part of me is inherently suspicious of how much cash Chinese investors in football actually have, and there's been plenty of alleged rumours that haven't come to fruition in the last few seasons. Although if they have the cash, partial investment wouldn't be unwelcome.
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