Stop pretending Manchester City and Liverpool have been ‘inseparable’ since Guardiola

It really is important to be grateful for Liverpool, without whom Manchester City would have dominated the Premier League under Pep Guardiola.

There can be miracles, when you believe
Writes Neil Custis in The Sun:

‘It’s incredible to think that this time a year ago United were going into the new season having finished as runners-up in the previous campaign.

‘They had finally landed Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane was on his way and little did anyone know about the excitement that would greet Ronaldo’s return.

‘Their league season opened up with four wins and a draw and a belief was growing that for the first time since 2013 they could challenge for the title again.’

‘A belief’? You said Ronaldo was ‘the last piece in the jigsaw’. You wrote about his addition meaning it was ‘probably the best Manchester United team in over a decade’. You stated that their business ‘has proven they are back, big time’. You suggested he might ‘write the most astonishing chapter in his incredible football story’ by leading them to the title.

Own it, man

The only acceptance
The worm truly has turned with regards to Ronaldo, to whom about three or four different tabloid journalists dedicate their Friday columns. Among those is Andy Dunn of the Daily Mirrorwho saw Erik ten Hag describes the Portuguese’s early exit from a pre-season friendly as “unacceptable” and decided to take it rather literally:

‘Well, don’t accept it then, don’t have him anywhere near the place. Sadly, it has come to that.’

That really is easier said than done. Especially when the player involved is on a wage worth around £500,000 a week.

‘If this is being seen as the beginning of a Ten Hag ‘project’, that project simply cannot involve a 37-year-old who wants out.

‘And never mind financial, contractual or commercial considerations, that instruction has to come from Ten Hag himself.’

Ah right. ‘Never mind’ the implications of chucking half a million quid down the drain for a whole season. Just write it off, Erik.

‘Tell Richard Arnold, United’s CEO, that Ronaldo will not be involved in the first team under any circumstances and then leave it to the suits and to Jorge Mendes to sort the rest out.’

Perfect. Significantly weaken an already pretty sodding shaky negotiating position. That will endear Ten Hag to his new employers and not create any lasting problems whatsoever.

Brazil nut
Perhaps not all is lost, however. The Daily Mirror website see a surprise solution:

‘Cristiano Ronaldo finally given Man Utd exit route: “It is true I want to sign him”‘

Well this is interesting. There are quotes and everything. And they come from Corinthians president Duilio Monteiro Alves. Obviously.

Here is what the benevolent gent said:

“It’s true, I dream big. This is Corinthians! Aren’t Willian and Renato Augusto here? In football everything is possible and I have the obligation to give my best for Corinthians.

“Is it possible? I don’t know. We didn’t try, we didn’t investigate, there was no such possibility, but we are keeping an eye on him. Imagine that he suddenly wants to play in Brazil…”

It’s pretty much done. Only the best ‘exit routes’ involve someone saying “Is it possible? I don’t know” and “Imagine that he suddenly wants to play in Brazil”.

As the story adds: ‘It remains to be seen if Ronaldo would seriously consider the idea of ​​joining the Brazilian outfit.’

Yes. It truly is a mystery as to whether Cristiano Ronaldo, who wants to leave Manchester United because they did not qualify for the Champions League, will join a club that literally cannot qualify for the Champions League.

Ian Ladyman has a message for those who have taken against Liverpool: ‘we should be thankful for them’.

Not sure everyone will get on board with that, whether or not his argument that the Premier League would be wholly dominated by Manchester City without them holds water. But do carry on.

He says that the squads of Manchester City and Liverpool ‘may look marginally different but both [are] fundamentally the same’. Ladyman then writes that ‘City’s squad has been improved by the acquisition of Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips’ but Liverpool ‘have lost a key player in Sadio Mane’.

It sounds like they don’t ‘look marginally different’, nor are they ‘fundamentally the same’.

‘The Senegal forward has been just as influential as Mo Salah in recent seasons and however effective new central forward Darwin Nunez transpires to be, Mane may yet prove to be one of those players whose absence is felt just a little bit more keenly than anybody would really wish.’

That’s all well and good but is there a reason the Manchester City exits of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Fernandinho are being ignored? Liverpool have essentially swapped Mane for Nunez but Manchester City have added three first teamers – with Julian Alvarez – while losing four.

Still, thank f*** for Liverpool. Without them Manchester City would have won five straight Premier League titles, instead of a mere four in five years.

Nothing between them
That article is accompanied by a graphic: ‘INSEPARABALE SINCE PEP ARRIVED’

The definition of ‘inseparable’ is ‘incapable of being separated, parted, or disjoined’. It is important to keep that in mind while glancing at an image which tells us Manchester City have accrued 458 points to Liverpool’s 432, won four meetings to Liverpool’s three, claimed four league titles to Liverpool’s one and lifted five other trophies to Liverpool’s three since Guardiola’s appointment as manager.

They even include ‘Premier League runners-up’ and ‘Champions League runners-up’ in the ‘trophy breakdown’ of Guardiola v Jurgen Klopp, despite those specifically and literally not being trophies, to make the rivalry look closer.

Inseparable. Absolutely nothing between them.

Boehl’d over
In one of the weirder examples of the genre…

‘Todd Boehly breaks silence as Chelsea sign “one of Europe’s most exciting young players”

The Daily Mirror website must know something Mediawatch doesn’t. Was Todd Boehly specifically keeping his counsel over Carney Chukwuemeka?

Fofana split
‘Leicester reject Chelsea’s opening £60m bid for centre-back Wesley Fofana… but Foxes fear Blues are prepared to break the £80m world record fee Man United paid them for Harry Maguire to sign the Frenchman’ – MailOnline.

Why are Leicester scared that someone might match their valuation of a player? Are they aware they control that price and can even reject it?

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