Rich Laverty takes a look at some of the weekend’s action across the country, which includes a square up between Championship managers, Crystal Palace entering the danger zone while Arsenal and Leicester demonstrate a lack of fighting spirit.
Wagner shouldn’t be castigated
When did we all get so sensitive and dull in this country? David Wagner pointed out after his touchline fracas with Leeds United boss Garry Monk that celebrating with your players is common on the continent.
Wagner’s Huddersfield had just sealed a dramatic last-minute West Yorkshire derby victory so Wagner joined his players in celebration, just as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have done in the past. What happened next was entirely avoidable, Wagner was simply making his way back to his technical area – having to run past Leeds’s technical area in the process – when Monk stepped across him and caused a scene which may have had you believe you’d accidentally flicked over to the Six Nations.
But the abuse towards Wagner from Leeds fans on social media afterwards was ridiculous. All fans think players should be allowed to celebrate with them after a goal (without a booking) so why shouldn’t a manager be allowed to celebrate with his players? If Monk had also stayed in his technical area, the whole incident would’ve been completely avoidable.
Marco Silva gets a lot of credit, but Paul Clement deserves some too
There was quite the furore when Paul Merson and Phil Thompson criticised Hull City’s choice of Marco Silva as their manager – largely because it didn’t suit their pro-English coaches agenda. But Silva has so far embarrassed both and breathed new life into a floundering side who looked bound for the Championship.
Thompson’s reactions on Saturday were glorious to many as Hull swept aside Liverpool but for the sake of fairness, we should look at the other side of the discussion. Yes, Silva is doing a great job, which an English manager may have failed to do, but Paul Clement is also outshining the previous efforts of Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley at Swansea City.
The Swans were another side who looked destined for the drop but Englishman Clement has shown that it’s not nationality which makes you a good manager. Both Silva and Clement are doing fine jobs of trying to save their respective clubs and neither should be applauded more than the other based on where they’re from.
Arsenal should concentrate on other issues
God love them, Arsenal fans were once again all over the referee – this time Martin Atkinson – for his decision to allow Chelsea’s first goal to stand on Saturday.
It was a fair point, Marcos Alonso’s elbow left Hector Bellerin heavily concussed and it’s exactly the sort of end result we want to see less of, particularly following on from the incident which left Ryan Mason in a serious condition a couple of weeks back.
But it’s not all on the referee, Arsenal buckled and conceded two more bad goals from a defensive point of view as the would-be champions cut through the Gunners with ease in the second half. After an appalling display just days earlier at home to Watford, supporters should surely be more worried with their side’s continued lack of fight in the big games. On Saturday, I asked whether there was anything left in the ‘arguments for’ column regarding keeping Arsene Wenger because it’s hard to see anything changing when it’s the same story every year – whether the referees are with you or against you!
One step forward, two steps back for Palace
I watched Crystal Palace’s collapse on social media with my mouth wide open in the Doncaster Rovers press box on Saturday because it just wasn’t common nature for a Sam Allardyce side. Sunderland taking a 1-0 lead wasn’t a huge surprise. Palace haven’t been great defensively despite a clean sheet at Bournemouth, and David Moyes’ side have an ability to pick up points just when they need them.
But to concede THREE goals in the final minutes of the first half was incredible for so many reasons. The way Palace just seemed to buckle and give up when they’re in the midst of a relegation fight (whilst playing a relegation rival) was unacceptable and not what you’d expect of a side managed by Big Sam.
It’s still hard to see Palace go down, the likes of Christian Benteke, Wilfried Zaha and Yohan Cabaye are capable of winning football matches, and the defensive progress was evident against Bournemouth in midweek. It’s also hard to imagine a Big Sam side going down full stop.
Sentiment could kill the Leicester City story
Last year it got to a point after New Year where people said ‘You know what, they could actually win the league’. It seemed implausible for so long and even going into April nobody could quite believe what they were seeing.
One year on and we’re at a point where everyone is saying ‘You know what, they could actually go down’. Leicester are awful, they can’t score goals and they can’t keep them out at the other end. Any other club in their position would be sacking their manager, if they hadn’t already. Hull, Crystal Palace and Swansea City have all made brave decisions and by and large they’re seeing positive results for it.
Leicester go down to Swansea next week and a loss would leave them in the relegation zone. After that, Leicester face Liverpool and Arsenal as well as rejuvenated Hull City, how bad could it be after their next four games? While sticking with Claudio Ranieri is admirable and he has done an absolutely incredible and unbelievable job, Leicester are stuck in a rut and no change at the top could see Leicester’s time in the Premier League come to an end.
Follow Rich on Twitter at @RichJLaverty