Embattled Manchester United boss Ralf Rangnick continues to do little to fend off criticism, while Antonio Conte struggles to breathe life into a stuttering Spurs side.
Meanwhile, a West Ham star continues to leave little reason why he didn’t receive an England cap as a rejuvenated Newcastle gave themselves the injection of life they so desperately needed.
Read on as foxsports.com.au analyzes all the major points of contention from the weekend’s action in our Premier League talking points!
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RANGNICK FIGHTS TO INSPIRE ‘LEAKY, NOISY’ MESSY CLUB’
Manchester United is a good old mess.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season, it’s hard to say whether there have been many moments where everyone involved has sung the same hymn sheet.
And after the Red Devils’ latest result – a 1-1 draw with mid-table Southampton – the noise engulfing the club is getting louder by the day.
The team are said to disagree with interim boss Ralf Rangnick’s methods, especially as the German is said to have given assistant coach Chris Armas the lion’s share of the training ground workload.
According to ESPNsome United players have “jokingly compared Armas to fictional football manager Ted Lasso”, another damning indictment of the situation at Carrington.
Centre-back and captain Harry Maguire has also been the subject of directed criticism.
The England international endured a torrid time trying to keep Southampton’s Armando Broja at bay.
Former Liverpool marksman Michael Owen was quick to analyze Maguire’s performance.
“I was scared for him and it was quite embarrassing,” Owen said. BT Sports.
“He has no pace at the best of times, but he was foiled there (by Broja).”
But if there was one quote that sums up United’s worrying slide, it was from Saints boss Ralph Hassenhuttl.
“It’s no big secret that when they lose the ball, the backsteps aren’t everyone’s best,” the Austrian said.
That’s not the only worrying downward trend happening at the club.
Superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo has scored just twice since Rangnick’s arrival on an interim basis, compared to the nine goals in 13 games he netted when Ole Gunnar Solksjaer was in the manager’s hot seat.
The lack of form contributed to the fact that LIKEclaim a “fractured” relationship between the Portuguese star and the gaffer.
Put it all in a blender, push the button and you have what legendary England striker Alan Shearer describes as a “leaky, noisy, messy club”.
“They have become an interim football club – a caretaking club, where authority has been diluted and players inhabit a world of excuses – who have spent an absolute fortune to become truly exceptional,” Shearer wrote in a statement. column for Athleticism.
“On the pitch, they’re frayed and ragged, pissed off and in a bad mood, looking for someone else to blame, not knowing who and what they are.”
It would be remiss not to point out that despite all the deserved criticism they have received, United are just one point behind fourth-placed West Ham United and also have a game in hand against the Hammers.
But delving deeper than just a look at the table offers a bleak and depressing prospect that United don’t seem to want to get rid of any time soon.
IS TOUGH LOVE THE RIGHT APPROACH FOR TALE TO GALVANIZE “DYSFUNCTIONAL” AND “DEMORALIZED” SPURS?
As the rain fell in London in Tottenham’s disappointing loss to Wolves, Spurs boss Antonio Conte cut a sorry and frustrated figure as he paced the technical area.
The weather only darkened the mood further, as a comedy of errors from goalkeeper and skipper Hugo Lloris bagged both visitors’ goals.
Sky Sports’ Liam Jones felt “it seemed like Tottenham were completely out of touch with the work at hand from the first whistle, with their swooning from the back chaotic at times and lack of reactions to danger in the box just as bad.”
Conte has been a serial winner in his managerial career since taking charge of Juventus in 2011.
But for someone so used to leading teams to trophies, the way Spurs have struggled lately must be eating away at him.
It was no more evident than in a post-match interview he did with be in sportsthe Italian declaring “it’s very difficult to talk about fourth place, because I’m used to playing for other targets”.
His team is visibly lacking in confidence, even more so now that they have lost three on the rebound.
This led Conte to answer a question about the mentality of the team in a post-match interview saying “you can’t buy the winning mentality”.
“You transfer it day to day and it’s not safe day to day, because there are players who are more open and they understand the process quickly, other players need more time to understand that .
“We work very hard with the players, the players there is a big commitment but it’s not enough. It’s not enough. It’s not enough.
“I repeat that if we want to be competitive, we have to wait and build.”
The tough love approach didn’t work so well when Jose Mourinho was Spurs boss, and Athleticism Spurs writer Charlie Eccleshare believes that Conte could be going down a dangerous path by sending a similar message.
Eccleshare notes that Conte has done a lot of good since his arrival, including improved performances from underachieving previous players.
“But while we have to congratulate Conte on all the good things he’s done since taking over – the improved defence, the attacking patterns noticeable – it’s far to question whether a team so bereft of confidence needs that ‘She’s told over and over again that she’s not good enough,’ Eccleshare said.
“And when he implies that a battle for the top four is a bit below him, it risks showing a detachment from reality.
“What did he expect from the dysfunctional and demoralized Spurs team when he took over in November?”
THE MOMENTUM OF MAGPIES ERASEING ‘ABSOLUTELY DEPRESSING’ GHOSTS OF THE PAST
It wasn’t pretty, but a vital 1-0 victory over big spenders Aston Villa took Newcastle United away from the relegation zone.
The Magpies’ third win on the rebound helped silence doubters who thought that even with their newfound riches they would still face relegation.
Make no mistake: Newcastle aren’t quite out of the woods yet.
But it looks like they are starting to leave behind Norwich, Watford and Burnley.
Newcastle’s recent form has also sparked some life and hope in a fanbase that has been disillusioned for so long after several years of pent up frustration with stark playing styles and maligned former owner Mike Ashley. .
Against Villa, the atmosphere was electric and Gary Neville noted that it could be the most important thing for the team to continue to move away from the relegation zone.
“The players’ work rate was really good and it feels like St James’ Park is back,” Neville said on The Gary Neville Podcast.
“I have goosebumps because this place has been absolutely depressing.
“Actually, it was horrible and I didn’t like coming here at all.
“There has been dismal football and it has been mindless in terms of disconnecting the club from the fans.
“Now that looks like something.
“They are still bottom of the league, but looking at this performance against Aston Villa, I have no doubt they will emerge from relegation problems this season.”
HAMMERS ACE CONTINUES TO PROVE HE’S ‘PERSONIFIED COOLNESS’
It’s as if West Ham star Jarrod Bowen’s crazy season has gone slightly under the radar.
As of this writing, Bowen has the second-most combined goals and assists in the entire league, having contributed eight goals and eight assists for the cause.
The only man with better numbers? Mohamed Salah, who has scored 16 goals and provided nine assists for the Reds.
What’s surprising is that Bowen has yet to be called up to the England squad.
But with his recent form, including a goal against Leicester City in the Hammers’ 2-2 draw, it looks like England boss Gareth Southgate can’t ignore him for the next round of international fixtures.
Liverpool great Jamie Carragher certainly seems to think Bowen deserves a call-up.
When discussing the striker’s arrival against the Foxes, Carragher compared him to one of the best strikers in the Premier League.
“Let’s talk about the finish, it’s very similar to Robbie Fowler,” Carragher said on sky sports.
“Keep an eye on Bowen, he doesn’t look in goal once.
“He knows where he is, he’s absolutely fantastic – cool personified.
“He must have a chance with the England team.”
If Bowen can maintain his form, it can only be a good thing for fourth-placed Hammers as they chase a Champions League spot.