What did we learn in the Premier League?
It was a wild Saturday in the Premier League, as we had blowout wins, red cards, stunning goals and some huge shocks all rolled into six games.
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Below we focus on the key stories to come out of Saturday’s PL action, and there’s only one place to start...
Jose Mourinho and Manchester United are still a mess
My word, what a comeback. Manchester United beat Newcastle 3-2 on Saturday just when it seemed like Mourinho was on the brink of being fired. Newcastle crumbled in the second half after racing into a 2-0 lead but they still had plenty of chances to score against United’s shaky defensive unit. However, with their backs against the wall, United’s players dug deep and fought for Mourinho. That was a huge question mark heading into this game with the likes of Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and others said to have fallen out with their manager. This could be the turning point and heading into the international break there will be some kind of positivity around United.
But they are still in a mess. And how much is Mourinho to blame? Reports had circulated that Mourinho would be fired regardless of the result. United had called that report as “nonsense” but the situation is still far from being sorted. Surely the only way is up from here? The subs he made and the way his senior players stood tall told us that they still want to play for Mourinho. That’s huge.
“In the second half the players gave absolutely everything. There was nothing left to give. I am 55, I am mature, I can cope with it and I can live with it. I think clearly, some of the boys, they are not coping well with it,” Mourinho said. “The way they started the game was absolutely panicking. Every ball that was in our box, I thought in some moments we could even score in our own goal. For me, it is not easy, but life is made of experiences and some are new and some are deja vu. This is new but makes me not just a better manager but a better person. I now understand things better in the industry. There is a lot of wickedness in something that should be beautiful.”
So far this season, Mourinho has created a cloud of negativity at Old Trafford with his players looking scared to play and they made a very poor Newcastle side look like world beaters early on. He called out Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford for criticism after the game which may not help him in the long run, but he continues to clash with his players. With Pogba and Nemanja Matic playing at center back in the second half, Mourinho also seemed to be sending a thinly-veiled message to Ed Woodward and the board at United: you didn’t get me the players I wanted this summer and this is your fault. Of course, the fault for United’s worst-ever start to a Premier League season lies at the door of Mourinho, his players and the hierarchy, and you get the sense that this situation can be turned around with everyone pulling in the right direction. But so much has to change. United’s players need time away from the club over the international break to take a breather. So does Mourinho. He looks like a man who needs a break from the criticism amid all of the pressure.
They still have the squad to at least finish in the top four, even if a serious title push looks far away this season. After all of their struggles so far, United are in eighth place and just four points off the top four. That’s not that bad, right? This seems like a turning point but there’s still a huge mess to sort out.
Bournemouth’s attacking quartet key to European bid
Callum Wilson, Josh King, David Brooks and Ryan Fraser ripped Watford apart on Saturday and they are the main reason Bournemouth sit in fifth place in the Premier League and dream of qualifying for Europe. After their fifth win in eight games this season, Eddie Howe said he believes his team are “capable of beating anyone” and David Brooks hailed the “on fire” attacking unit for the Cherries. With games against Southampton, Fulham, Manchester United and Newcastle coming up, you can expect to see Bournemouth hanging around the top six between now and December. The longer they stay there, the more belief they will gain and Howe’s youngsters are playing with so much confidence right now. Bournemouth can be the Burnley of this season and finishing seventh certainly isn’t out of the question. In a week where the South Coast club halted a bid to move to a new stadium and away from their 11,000 capacity home, their ambition on the pitch remains. Bournemouth are the perfect model of how to run a club, how to develop young players and how to keep faith in a young manager with a clear philosophy. The Cherries have now been in the Premier League for four seasons and this is the first time it feels like they can turn their fluid attacking play into a genuine push for a top seven finish.
Sigurdsson and two Brazilians spark Everton’s revival
Everton went to Leicester and won on Saturday and Gylfi Sigurdsson’s late stunner was worthy of winning any game. The Icelandic playmaker has now scored four goals in his last two PL games (as well as missing a penalty kick) and his play, alongside Bernard and Richarlison, is key if Marco Silva’s time at Goodison Park is going to be a success. Now that their defensive issues are sorting themselves out with injuries clearing up, the focus should be on their misfiring attack. With Theo Walcott, Sigurdsson, Bernard and Richarlison all starting on Saturday, Silva has a similar problem to his predecessor Ronald Koeman: without a top central striker, Everton must focus on spreading around the goals and assists between their wingers and attacking midfielders. That is harsh on Cenk Tosun and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, but with the trickery of Bernard and Sigurdsson, plus the pace of Walcott and Richarlison, there’s actually a really good balance in Everton’s attacking positions. Those four should be given a run of games together for the Toffees. Silva is known for his his direct attacking play and so far Everton have meandered along under the much vaunted Portuguese coach. With back-to-back wins against Fulham and Leicester, they’ve dragged themselves into the top 10 and there is plenty of room for improvement. Silva knows that and after crashing out of the League Cup in midweek he needed this win today.