On Sarriball …

What we were made to believe by the press was that Sarriball is a system of play which deploys tactics to move the ball from defense to attack as quickly as possible. Don’t get me wrong; this was true with Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli and we saw how he started (of course, after losing the Community Shield to City) with 5 wins in the EPL, went on to beat Liverpool at Anfield in the Carabao Cup and went unbeaten for as many games in all competitions, before outsmarting Pep in a 2-0 victory against City 3 days after losing to Wolves. Sarriball was thriving so what has gone wrong?

Let me highlight some of the problems that Sarri inherited from Conte;

  1. Every top team in the EPL has a prolific striker, except Chelsea and this is public knowledge. They couldn’t find the right replacement for Costa and they were not willing to give Batshuayi a chance to prove he could score goals.
  2. Chelsea doesn’t have many creative midfielders. They failed to adequately plan for that part of the field, especially when Cesc lost all the juice in his legs.
  3. Willian is all run and step-overs, zero productivity (truth hurts).
  4. There are no rotational players who can step in to give the crucial players some minutes off to stay match ready.

People usually criticize Alonso for lack of pace but I honestly think he’s a top left back. There’s also a strong argument to say he performs better as a wing-back than a traditional left back … I won’t agree or disagree, because he’s been good this season. Then of course there’s David Luiz; he’s not bad either. If you judge him by what he was able to do against City in December then you’d have to agree he can be top with the right mentality. But I’ve been able to highlight 4 major problems, the top 2 teams in the EPL don’t have as many. So, can we hypothesize that Sarri inherited a team not capable of Sarriball? Probably.

Against Arsenal over the weekend he tried to replicate the tactics which won him the game against City, but Arsenal was fired up to avoid dropping more points. Chelsea started Hazard in the false 9 role again, with a bench which had Barkley, Giroud, Odoi, Christensen, Palmieri and Ampadu. At half time I wasn’t sure of who Chelsea could bring on to salvage anything from that game. After the game Sarri went on to question the mentality of his players and even said they were difficult to motivate.

One thing Sarriball has attempted to do (which it shouldn’t do) is to try and fit square pegs in round holes. I know Kovacic (from his days in Madrid) to be a defensive midfielder. He was mostly used as a replacement for Casemiro. Kante IS NOT an attacking midfielder either. The so called “heartbeat of Sarriball”, “the modern day Pirlo”, “the smooth midfield operator”, “the machine, the engine” (and all those fancy names they gave him) Jorginho, is struggling these days not because he’s not a good player, but because he’s in a midfield with 2 others who operate similarly to him. His primary role is to make the game simple and quickly transition play from the defensive half to the attacking areas; that means he is not to supposed to travel with the ball. The maestro of this type of role is Sergio Busquets.

To get Sarriball working again, Sarri should do the following;

  1. The transfer window is not closed yet. He should sign at least, one creative midfielder and a striker.
  2. He should give Loftus-Cheek the confidence to start. I think that boy is brilliant.
  3. He should allow N’Golo Baba Kante to sit in CDM and push Jorginho a bit forward to create or have a free role. He’s reiterated that that won’t happen so even though that can be a possible solution to his problems, he’s not going to consider it.
  4. Send Kovacic back to sender (I strongly believe Chelsea don’t need him).
  5. Play Hazard behind a striker or on the left wing. Hazard is excellent, but he’s not Messi (the master of all false 9s), though many want to make that comparison. Occasionally his brilliance and magic makes it seem that’s a position he can thrive in but the boy is struggling. His positional play has been very poor and the Sarriball can’t also find him in the right places.
  6. Bench Willian.
  7. Again, BENCH Willian.
  8. Work on the mentality of his players instead of criticizing them through translators.



How Man City Can Beat Liverpool.

City hosts Liverpool on Thursday January 3rd and it’s the one game I know Pep will want after such a difficult ran in December. A victory for City will cut Liverpool’s lead to 4 and a defeat will leave the defending champions 10 points behind the challengers with 17 games to go. On team news, KDB faces a late fitness test. Ilkay is cleared to play. Mendy and Bravo are still recovering and Delph got a straight red against Leicester so he remains suspended.

If City had Mendy I would have suggested a 3-4-1-2, repeating last year’s system which got City a 5-0 win at the Etihad. Without Mendy, 3 center-backs will not help much, making the team more conservative than necessary. For a game that City needs to win, a 4-3-3 will be ideal; GK-Ederson, RB-Walker, LB-Danilo, RCB-Kompany, LCB-Laporte, CDM-Fernandinho, RM-KDB, LM-D. Silva, LW-Sane, RW-Sterling, CF-Aguero.


Liverpool created a lot of problems for City last season, and they are even better this season so this will be a very difficult game. Klopp now plays Salah on top with Fermino behind in a 4-2-3-1 setup to make room for Shaqiri on the flanks and we saw what that did to Arsenal (Robertson stands out for me as the best LB in the league by the way.) To defeat Liverpool City must do the following;

  1. Be impeccable with keeping the ball, especially in the defensive half.  Liverpool has demonstrated time and again that one bad pass or a bad ball control in the defensive half and you’ll be picking the ball up from your net. City cannot afford to make those Anfield mistakes of last season. I don’t expect Klopp to be aggressive with pressing in the final third like they did last season, as the first meeting at Anfield (which ended 0-0) this season showed. City should be comfortable on the ball and keep possession with zero room for error.
  2. Sane should stay wide, Sterling should come in, Danilo should invert and Walker must overlap (as shown in the lineup image above). Danilo is comfortable with both feet so playing as an inverted fullback shouldn’t be a problem. My only challenge here is how productive Walker will be in attack if he overlaps; he’s shown that crossing the ball is not one of his qualities, but then if he overlaps, that prevents Robertson from getting forward to send in his good crosses.
  3. City needs Aguero to continue his scoring form against Liverpool. Aguero hasn’t been sharp after his injury but he managed to get onto Zinchenko’s cross when City played Southampton after failing to score from 6 yards out. Aguero is on a 6-game home scoring run against Liverpool and the city fans need that to continue tomorrow.
  4. Pep should tell his players to play with courage. Klopp has always been Pep’s greatest challenge and this will present an opportunity to encourage his players to be courageous. The confidence with which he will set up his team will be key; the moment the players feel he’s not sure of anything he’s asking them to do will be the beginning of another defeat. His plan-b will be very key; if he anticipates that Salah will play upfront and he doesn’t, a different system should take care of Salah playing out wide seamlessly.

This is a game City cannot afford to lose if they’re to retain their title this season. I predict a City win, but it will be a closely contested game. City might just keep a clean sheet to everyone’s surprise. My last coin is on City 2-0 Liverpool.

On Pep’s 2017.

Pep has finished the first half of the 2017/18 season in England by winning 19 and drawing 2. That didn’t happen in his time in Spain (where he had arguably the best team in history), neither did it happen in Germany. Before his arrival in England, many people who argue that the English league is only competitive because you have a group of average teams all going for the title said that Pep was going to sweep the league away in style, but that didn’t go as planned for many reasons. The most obvious was an aged squad and “time.”

When Pep said many times in his press conference last season that his team will improve in the boxes, he knew very well that his team had defensive and finishing issues. He addressed the defensive issues by bringing in Walker, Danilo, Mendy and Ederson. He solved the finishing issues tactically by improving the positional play of Sane and Sterling. What De Bruyne is doing doesn’t surprise me because everyone who watches football know his quality.

I saw a very interesting tweet which suggested that Pep hasn’t done anything extraordinary because a lot was put in place for his arrival; to make his job easy. Well before I go on, I want to ask the same question Tim Sherwood asked … “how many of Man City’s defense will get into the teams of Man United, Chelsea and Tottenham?” No way United will accept Ederson over De Gea. Mangala won’t be good enough to replace Smalling or Bailly, neither will Otamendi. Can Delph replace Davies or Alonso? The list can go on. I won’t move up the pitch because I acknowledge that Man City has some of the best midfielders and a proven finisher in Aguero. The point I’m trying to make is, Pep hasn’t assembled the modern day galacticos to achieve 19W 2D 0L.

What he has done is to adapt to the quality of the squad he met, signed those he needed (Nolito didn’t work out though), improve positional play and ball retention. When Mendy got injured, I saw Danilo as his obvious replacement but that wasn’t the case for Pep. In stepped Delph; a tactically disciplined midfielder, whose role is completely different from Mendy’s. One thing Pep does well is his desire to give his team an identity. At Barcelona & Bayern we could identify his teams because they had a style. This City team has the similar style. What’s more fascinating is, this City is no where near as strong on paper as his Bayern or Barca teams. So, to do what he’s doing, in the leagues many believe to be the most difficult in the world, is remarkable.

I don’t mind if Pep doesn’t gets the credit he deserves. I mean, he doesn’t even care really. This team hasn’t won anything yet. All he cares about is his team playing well in the next game. I appreciate good football, I love his approach to games. He’s the only reason why I took interest in the EPL last season, and he’s the reason why I support Man City. His team will get better, even with some major injuries because he’s always finding profound solutions for complicated problems and that’s why history will remember him as one of the managers who revolutionized how football should be played.

Let’s Question Pep’s Defense.

It was May 27, 2009. Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Barcelona had reached the Champions League final, losing only their final group stage match against Shakhtar Donetsk. That year, the football world was always jaw-dropping at how Barcelona won. Teams were not only losing against them, but losing heavily. Aggregate scores like 6-3 and 5-1 against Lyon and Bayern Munich respectively at the knockout stages, meant Barca were favorites against Chelsea. Chelsea though, had a renowned defensive setup; Cole, Terry, Alex, Essien (as a CDM), proved impregnable at the Camp Nuo. The aftermath of the return fixture was dominated by Tom Henning Ovrebo and Iniesta’s equalizer (fair enough). But Pep had a problem to address before the final.

Barca played that game with only 3 real defenders and 2 of them were not going to be available for the final. Abidal was sent off and Alves took a third yellow in the competition. Marquez was out for the rest of the season. Barca was left with Puyol, Pique, Sylvinho (aged 35 then) and Martin Caceres (who was having a terrible season) for the final. Going against a Manchester United side with a prolific attack in Ronaldo, Rooney and Giggs, the pundits had Barca’s defense all figured out. But Pep Guardiola, the greatest Manager of his generation, had other ideas.

Pep decided the game on paper, by conjuring a tactic that will send home Manchester United disunited. It looked frail on paper though I must admit; two veterans, Puyol and Sylvinho, on the flanks against Ronaldo and Giggs … ridiculous! Yaya Toure then had to replace Puyol in the heart of defense and his position was to be held by Busquets who had only been promoted to first team that season. The rest was a Pep tactical masterclass and a champions league title.

Fast forward to 2017 and many pundits still think to find a weakness in Pep’s team is to look at his back four and his goalkeeper; the high line they keep … a goalkeeper who plays out from the back. In his first season, the problem his team had was more of not being able to finish chances in my opinion. Yes, City had fullbacks who were aged, but most of the games City lost or drew, they lost or drew because they failed to take their chances. Pep said this many times in his press conferences. When he went on a 10-games winning streak (in all competitions) in his first season, he got carried away (he confirmed this in his interview with Gary Lineker) and underrated the intensity & the physicality of the EPL. He could get away with a game or two with those aged fullbacks, but missed chances always made his defensive setup look bad. Believers in the good old theory about the EPL, that “to win the EPL, you need world class defenders and a “De Gea” goalkeeper” went like … “didn’t I tell you?!” Well, you did, but you didn’t think City’s defense can’t go on a 16-games winning streak.

We can all agree Ederson and Walker have made this City team better, but it’s the same slow paced, hot headed Otamendi in the back four, and a Delph, who is not a traditional left back. Give this back four to any other Manager and the story will certainly not be 16 straight wins in the most competitive league in the world. When the season started, the pundits kept saying “if Kompany can stay fit” and they’ve swallowed their words because Kompany hasn’t been fit and this team keeps going. When Stones got injured, they said that this City team is now going to struggle at the back because Mangala, Otamendi’s clone (just a bit faster), was no good, but the team keeps going.

Well, let’s keep questioning Pep’s defense.

Destiny 2: What MUST NOT Be Repeated From Destiny Rise of Iron

I am not an ardent gamer, but I love Destiny because it is the best shooter game out there. I tried Call of Duty (Advanced Warfare) and it did not go so well. Destiny is far more detailed and quiet technical. That explains why some find it boring, but to be frank though, it is not a game for everyone. If you are not willing to commit to knowing the game by Googling something you do not understand about it, then Destiny is not for you. It’s 2017 and Destiny fans are all excited about Destiny 2, but here are some changes I would like to see if Rise of Iron is to be the benchmark. Bungie, take note!

1. Better Armor for Female Characters

I have two female characters (Hunter and Titan) and One male character (Warlock). Anytime I load my Titan, the armor available for her is so terrible I just have to stick to the Iron Banner armor all the time (even that, the leg armor is terrible). Armor for female Hunters and Warlocks are better than what is available for Titans, but even theirs can still be better.

2. Ability to Gift Items

Look, it’s not everything we loot that we have use for. I do not like hand cannons and fusion rifles, but those are found useful by some other friends. Sometimes I just have to dismantle for legendary coins, if the item is a legendary one. Bungie should incorporate the ability to gift in Destiny 2. To be fair, they can pin the light of all gift items to say 3 (except those without light) so that the receiver upgrades it, else those with less light may have items they have not really earned so (yeah, I said it, but that’s why its a gift). I really want to be able to be able to gift or receive some strange coins, weapon parts, armor or even hadium flakes!

3. Make Swords a Second Primary Weapon

I still don’t know why swords must fall under Heavy Weapons. I believe a guardian can carry a sword and a Rocket Launcher. If they create a forth weapon category for just swords, it will be great.

4. Fireteams

Maxing out a fireteam to 3 guardians is not ideal in my opinion. Sometimes 4 players want to do a mission together and that is not possible. I also do not support 6 guardians for Raids. I have been playing Destiny for at least, 2 years now and I have done Raid on just two occasions because I could not find 5 other players; timezone.

[Destiny] How to get Exotic Shard easily. 

For newbies, “what on earth is that” will come with that disappointment look when Exotic Weapon Blueprints are accessed in the Hall of Guardians, especially when you have a pile of Glimmer and need just one Exotic Shard to acquire an Exotic item.

I’ve been playing Destiny for a while now and I’m yet to come across any exotic shard (i.e. getting rewarded with it like Legendary Marks). If you’ll want to get it through playing, you’ll probably play forever and have about 1 under your belt … for effort maybe. Let’s just get straight to it.

1. Download “Where is Xur?” from the PlayStore … it’s not available on iOS yet I’m sorry.  Continue reading

Twitter Verification; Why Your Request Will Be Declined

Twitter.pngThe only blue tick the coolkids acknowledge is that of Twitter. You’d want one, every ardent Twitter user wants one, but the truth is you won’t get one. There’s a reason why only 0.06% of active users are verified. Forget your ability to amass followers, forget all the sense you tweet, forget your 10k+ RTs … you’re just not going to get verified my dear follower.

To get verified though, your account must have;  Continue reading