Wednesday's big stories
Fans are everything
When was the dying embers of a Premier League match last decorated by a fracas? This here blog posits it last bore witness to scenes of such ferocity the last time fans were in grounds. A year and a bit of zero fans and a distinct lack of scraps; one game back and it is Battle of the Bridge II between Leicester and Chelsea in the 2-1 win that puts Thomas Tuchel's side on course for Champions League football next season. Fans well and truly are the backbone of this game.
Ibrahimovic says Man Utd 'talk too much about the past'
There is a serious point amongst this fracas-lauding. Supporters contribute to the ebb and flow of matches, infuse them with tension, and they drive and drain momentum. For good and bad, fans set the tone for performances and seasons. For example, it is of no surprise that both West Ham and Tottenham enjoyed an up tick in results during their last season at Upton Park and White Hart Lane as feel-good nostalgia enveloped their home matches. And at the other end of the spectrum, there appears to be a fairly direct correlation between Arsenal's success or lack thereof and a development of a toxic element to their fanbase.
The Premier League sells itself as the best, most passionate and competitive league in the world. Yet, often, fans, who are integral to - to use the league's own term - the product represent an afterthought. The European Super League (ESL) gave the Premier League a PR win by disassociation but, truth be told, much more must be done to assuage fans. Glib decrees of fans' importance were made in the wake of the ESL shambles, but now is the time for action. The game has been gradually taken away from the fans since the advent of the Premier League. This is the time to redress the balance.
Cavani is younger than fading Vardy but Iheanacho the future
Edinson Cavani is younger than Jamie Vardy. Yet, coverage of the pair feels distinctly different, with the Uruguayan given the veteran treatment. However, it is Cavani who has finished the season the stronger, and is currently sitting on 10 goals and three assists in 26 games after his strike in Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Fulham. Vardy has 13 goals and 9 assists in 33 appearances. However, he is on a downward trajectory, having only scored one goal in his last 18 matches in all competitions.
If that pair are in the 'edging towards the twilight of their careers' category, Kelechi Iheanacho is yet to enter the prime of his. And what a player he is.
His strike after emerging from the bench during Leicester's 2-1 loss at Chelsea was his 16th in his last 18 games in all competitions. And if the chance that presented itself to Ayoze Perez in the dying minutes of their match had fallen to the 24-year-old Iheanacho, it is hard not to think that the Foxes would have emerged with a crucial point. Alas for those of a Leicester persuasion, the chance fell to Perez and then flew over the bar.
Changes are a coming at the point of the Leicester attack. Iheanacho is the future of this Leicester team. A Vardy succession plan - a concern for years - is in place.
Luke Shaw: Manchester United Players' Player of the Year - a penny for Jose Mourinho's thoughts
Jose Mourinho, April 5 2017
“He [Shaw] had a good performance but it was his body with my brain. He was in front of me and I was making every decision for him. The communication was possible because we were very close."
Manchester United players, May 18 2021
Now, Shaw is not without fault but if there were ever a more damning indictment of Jose Mourinho's attritional man-management approach then the Warm-Up is yet to see it.
Shaw's progression under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - hardly renowned for his tactical acumen - has been borderline exponential. Sometimes football is a simple game. And in this instance the simplicity was this: cajole a player whose confidence was shot following a near career-ending injury rather than chide him at every turn.
IN THE CHANNELS
All of Chelsea's strikers by the looks of things because they are certainly nowhere near the box.
Absolutely shocking stat, that.
Boca fans should be given some form of award for this sort of behaviour.
The Harry Kane saga rolls into another day and Dave Hytner of the Guardian charts the seriousness of the situation for Daniel Levy.
For Levy, fighting fires on multiple levels and with uncertainty swirling, it was difficult to imagine a worse time for Harry Kane to take the pin out of a hand grenade that he had held for some time. The striker’s decision to push for a transfer this summer threatens so much at Spurs but not least Levy’s chairmanship. Because were he to sell a generational talent, one who connects so easily with the fans, it is easy to see the formation of a scar that will never heal.
Can Liverpool capitalise on Leicester's slip against Chelsea? They face Burnley.
Here tomorrow is Andi Thomas both a veteran and the future of the Warm-Up.
‘You have to ask serious questions’ – Neville has had ‘enough of it’ after Solskjaer sacking
Man Utd confirm Solskjaer has left role as manager