Football is a learning business. If you can’t work and adapt, you’ll fall behind. This goes for entire teams as well as individual players.
Some teams have bad tropes surrounding them that they always get picked on for when they don’t play well, and some teams move on from them and make themselves better.
Here are 4 teams that have learned their lesson.
1. Arsenal: Actually Spending Money
Before the 2013/14 season, Arsenal (particularly Arsene Wenger) were criticised for not spending the levels of money as other teams around them and subsequently not progressing as a club.
The quality of the players they have brought in since then has shown a significant chance. Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and Alexandre Lacazette are all signs that this is a club that wants to be challenging at the top of Europe’s elite league.
That is, if they can qualify for it…
2. Manchester United: Spending Money Wisely Again
In the period after Sir Alex Ferguson but before Mourinho, Manchester United’s struggles and dip in league positions lay in the very obvious fact that they were panicking.
Ferguson’s wisdom had gone and they were desperately trying to continue the trends he had set in his tenure. But with poor buys such as Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay and Wilfried Zaha all not paying off despite huge fees, they were failing.
But with Mourinho that tactfulness in the transfer market seems to have come back in some respects, with Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic being stand out starters for United this season.
3. England: No More Sentimental Call-Ups
One aspect of England’s squad selection in recent years has been that certain players were
almost guaranteed a slot in the squad regardless of their club form, a prime example would be Jack Wilshere’s inclusion in the Euro 2016 squad after only playing around 100 minutes of football that season.
Gareth Southgate has wholeheartedly changed this around, with call-ups merited on the players’ form and not their reputation. The best part is that he’s sticking to his guns even when the team is plagued by injuries.
Long may it continue.
4. Barcelona: Letting Go of Guardiola
Pep Guardiola turned Barcelona into the real powerhouse that they were in the late 2000’s, but when he left to join Bayern Munich in 2013, they slumped down and let rivals Real Madrid take the spotlight for a while.
The main reason for this is they slowly became unable to replicate the tika-taka football that made them so dominant.
This season, they have started to distance themselves away from that, with a more traditional 4-4-2 formation used for large chunks of the season, whilst still retaining their confidence in passing.
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has warned his side against complacency as they prepare to face Premier League champions Chelsea in the Champions League.
The sides are set to face off in the first leg of their round of 16 tie next Tuesday, and the Spaniard must have hurtful memories of his last encounter with the Blues, who sensationally knocked Barca out at the semi-final stage in 2012 en route to lifting the trophy.
“That’s why we have to go there with iron feet. We know where we are, in La Liga and in the cup we’re in a good position, and now we have to do it in the Champions League. That’s why we will play Chelsea with the aim of getting a good result, to try to win to take the first step in this tie.”
La Blaugrana are enjoying a remarkable season under new boss Ernesto Valverde, having recorded zero losses in La Liga so far. But given Chelsea’s unpredictability in matches against Barca, the defender is right to be wary.
?Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti has once again had to respond to speculation surrounding a proposed move to Barcelona. The Italian has responded insisting that he is very happy in Paris.
Verratti was in action against Real Madrid in the Champions League where PSG were beaten 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu. PSG conceded twice in the final ten minutes after going in front in the first-half. A Cristiano Ronaldo double ensured the Parisians went home empty handed.
Following their Champions League defeat, Verratti was asked about the speculation surrounding his future and whether any plans to move to Catalonia were still on the cards:
“Barcelona? I don’t know,” Verratti told Premium Sport (via Goal). “I am happy here in Paris.”
(You may also be interested in French Report Claims ‘Unhappy’ Cristiano Ronaldo Wanted to Leave Madrid and Join PSG in 2012)
“I think 1-1 was fair for the first half,” Verratti said. “After the break, I think we deserved to win, but we lost 3-1.
“We’ve already had teams come back against us twice in the past, so we can do it ourselves. We’re disappointed, but there’s still another game to come.”
?Reports in Italy are beginning to emerge of news that some of Europe’s top clubs are fighting for the signature of Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skriniar, after a stellar debut campaign at San Siro this season.
Skriniar ?made the move to Inter from Sampdoria this summer, signing a five year deal with the Italian powerhouse for a fee believed to be around
?? | Inter’s Milan Skriniar turns 23 today, which means it’s our last year with the Slovak??
He has won the Slovakian U21 player of the year and named in the UEFA U21 Team-of-the-Tournament in 2017? pic.twitter.com/vy9DSASBkI
— FootyScouted (@FootyScouted) February 11, 2018
The report claims that January saw Inter reject a bid for their man that was around the
Barcelona have pulled out all the stops to make life as easy as possible for young winger Ousmane Dembélé.
A report from Spanish outlet ?Mundo Deportivo says that they have put measures in place to help the youngster, and they say that everybody at the club is supportive of him.
Dembélé has the backing of his teammates, coaches, sporting executives and the board of directors at the club.
The young Frenchman has suffered from three major setbacks in a short space of time. Firstly, his desire to leave Dortmund for Barcelona caused tension between the two clubs, leaving him stuck in the middle of a conflict between two clubs.
Secondly, he picked up a serious injury after joining Barcelona and had to undergo surgery in Finland. Most recently, the 20-year-old suffered from nervousness and stress following his injury, not helped by his large price tag and ‘Neymar replacement’ la
Last Sunday, ?Dembélé returned to first team action by making a substitute appearance in a 0-0 draw with Getafe. He was unable to affect the game and was only heavily involved in one passage of attacking play.
Friends and colleagues of Dembele have identified that things are weighing him down, and are keen to help him.
Barcelona have put measures in place to make his life as easy as possible, by hiring a chef (to ensure a balanced diet) and security employee for his home, as well as sending doctors and physios out to him on home visits.