Pep Guardiola was right to usher Joe Hart out of Manchester City, while the looming departure of Tony Pulis at West Brom and Mark Halsey’s revelations are also discussed.
Pep right to jettison Hart
Goalkeeper Joe Hart was allowed to leave England training earlier this week to fly to Italy and complete a loan move to Torino.
He was then back in time to take his place between the sticks in Sam Allardyce’s first game, although the reasons why he was allowed to leave City in the first place were apparent once again.
New City boss Pep Guardiola wants his goalkeeper to play out from the back and he has backed Willy Caballero and new-boy Claudio Bravo to do that better than Hart, who the Spaniard feels lacks the ability to play a passing style.
And Hart’s first clearance here was a mis-kick straight to the opposition and on the half-hour mark he played one straight out of play. He was not tested by a single Slovakian shot but the question over his distribution capabilities remain.
The new City boss has been criticised for his handling of Hart’s departure at City, but you don’t become one of the game’s top bosses by being sentimental towards players. And on the evidence of Hart’s display in Trnava, you can certainly understand his thinking….
Dele can deliver further forward
Dele Alli’s absence was arguably the most striking from Allardyce’s first starting line-up, with the Tottenham man unquestionably part of England’s future going forward.
The 20-year-old was named PFA Young Player of the Year in a breakthrough season which brought about his England debut.
And his introduction on 64 minutes against Slovakia quickly turned England into a much more positive and attacking unit – he is exciting and precocious and Allardyce will surely look to get him into his side from now on, putting Wayne Rooney’s place in the team in even more doubt.
There’s obviously questions about whether both players can play in the same side (Gerrard / Lampard mk II anyone?) and Allardyce has plenty of thinking to do ahead of his next game.
West Brom washing dirty linen in public
It only seems a matter of time before there’s a parting of ways between Tony Pulis and West Brom, given Friday’s comments from Albion chairman John Williams.
It’s fairly commonplace for managers and chairmen to disagree on certain matters, but as soon as any feud enters the public arena, it’s usually only a matter of time before one of them ends up walking away. And we all know which one of them will prove to be the fall-guy….Just ask Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich during the former’s first spell in charge of the club.
For Williams to issue a statement criticising his club’s manager, however, smacks of two very obvious issues.
1) The club are not happy with the job Tony Pulis is doing. If so, keep things private and come to an arrangement that sees a parting of ways. Do NOT wash your dirty linen in public
2) The Albion board are getting their relegation excuses in early and are deflecting the blame for their failure to land some of their summer targets. (NB – are we meant to seriously believe the club were confident of landing Sporting Lisbon’s much-sought-after William Carvalho?!)
West Brom’s fans aren’t daft, so why does the chairman feel the need to treat them that way? Or better yet, if he wants rid of Pulis, why not speak to him man to man, not dragging his name through the dirt.
Whatever is going on behind the scenes at The Hawthorns, it doesn’t look set to end on a happy note. Some may feel Pulis has had it coming for serving up a boring brand of football, but in truth, it seems his attempt to put pressure on the board to bring in five players just three days before the window shut, could come back to bite him on the behind….
Ex-ref Halsey has opened up huge can of worms
The 2016/17 season had appeared to have gotten underway without too much controversy and it was nice to see the football, for once, doing the talking, rather than politics off the field dominating.
But that was broken over the weekend when former referee Mark Halsey tweeted on Saturday that he was ‘told to say he’d missed controversial incidents’ during games; a statement to which Gary Neville (quite rightly) responded to by asking him if that was not ‘corrupt’.
Whatever Halsey meant by the tweets (and Gary Neville claimed later he’d spoken to Halsey, who verified what the pundit described as a “huge problem”) he’s probably done far more damage and raised more questions than he probably anticipated.
The PGMOL – the Professional Game Match Officials Board – acted swiftly to deny Halsey’s claims, but it puts added pressure of officials, and more so the FA, to see how unpunished incidents are dealt retrospectively.
James Marshment (@marshyleeds)