Manchester United are represented in the latest Premier League team of the week that has been selected by BBC pundit Garth Crooks.
Actually Garth is now down as a ‘Football Analyst’ these days, a posh term for a pundit then!
The performances by Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku in the four nil victory over West Ham United at the weekend at Old Trafford was enough to earn the trio a place in the side alongside the other, in the opinion of the former Spurs striker anyway, most impressive performers in the topflight over the latest weekend.
I think we’ll already know ourselves, and not just based on the latest performance, why Crooks, we’ll also not argue with it, selected them as part of his team but explaining his choice he told the BBC.
‘It was good to see Phil Jones fit and playing in a Manchester United shirt again. He has suffered more than his fair share of injuries over the years but if Jose Mourinho intends to challenge for the title this season then he is going to need a fully-fit Jones. The former Blackburn defender can no longer go crashing into every challenge as though his life depends on it. Of course, it’s every defender’s dream to leave something on his opponent but Jones has to wise up. Picking his tackles is a vital pre-requisite if he intends to be part of a title-winning team under Mourinho. Of all the central defenders at Old Trafford, Jones is the most comfortable on the ball. Chris Smalling is a warrior and Eric Bailly a great support act but if Jones can start to play with his head and not just his heart, United could be in for one hell of a season.’
‘When I read that Manchester United had bought Nemanja Matic, I thought it was a misprint. As far as I was concerned, it was inconceivable that Chelsea would sell a player of Matic’s calibre, particularly as they have four major competitions to contest this season. Why on earth would Antonio Conte sanction such a thing? Matic must be among the top 10 best holding midfield players in the world. Why would you sell him, especially to one of your arch-rivals? I watched Matic on numerous occasions during his time at Stamford Bridge, and while he didn’t have a blistering season, he played a fundamental role in Chelsea winning the title. No sooner had the hangover from the title celebrations subsided, than Matic was off to United producing what can only be described as a majestic debut performance. West Ham were blown away as Matic provided Paul Pogba with the freedom to roam, Henrikh Mkhitaryan with the freedom to probe and Juan Mata to do just whatever he liked. Landing Matic has been an extraordinary piece of business by Manchester United and that is why I have tipped them for the title.’
‘This was quite a performance by Romelu Lukaku on his Premier League debut for Manchester United. If you were an Everton fan, it must have been a difficult watch seeing your former hero putting the finishing touches to an impressive team performance for the Red Devils. However, I can’t help feeling it was the right move for all concerned. Everton got the money (and his goals) while United got their man. The Belgian’s game reminds me of Didier Drogba the more I see him, and that was precisely why Jose Mourinho bought him. Who knows the value of a player with Drogba’s potential better than Mourinho? To snatch the Belgium international from under the gaze of Chelsea, who clearly wanted him, must have left a very sweet taste in Mourinho’s mouth. He knows only too well what Antonio Conte could do with a player such as Lukaku at his disposal. Now Chelsea have lost the striker and look like losing Diego Costa into the bargain – all because of Conte’s impetuousness and inability to resist sending his top goalscorer a text stating his services were no longer required before he knew he had Lukaku in the bag. Mourinho must be falling about with laughter.’
It’s always good to see the club represented in this way, and well played to all three for their recognition, but the most important thing about the weekend was of course the win.
Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Wayne Rooney (Everton), Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Stefano Okaka (Watford), Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United), Steve Mounie (Huddersfield Town).