Man Utd finally acting like adults with £100m Ivan Toney decision; Chelsea and Arsenal next?

9 Feb 2024

Ivan Toney is expected to leave Brentford at the end of the season.
After years of transfer briefings from Manchester United designed to make them look like a loadsamoney behemoth that can hoover up the world’s shiniest talent, it is really quite refreshing to see the club brief that they are attempting to become a club that makes sensible, considered decisions. Less ‘we are the biggest and bestest’ and more ‘we are no longer the daftest’.
Whether that’s the early influence of Omar Berrada, whose Manchester City never had to win games in the media because they were too busy destroying the opposition on the pitch, or simply a new, emerging regime with an emphasis on actual trophies rather than trophy players, it feels like a welcome (for them, not us) departure from the Banter Era.
There’s no fanciful talk from Manchester United about pursuing Kylian Mbappe, while any lofty talk about Vinicius has originated from Spain; but there have been lines fed to the press about Michael Olise and Jarrad Branthwaite amid a ‘data-driven reboot’, persistent talk of targeting players in the final year of their contracts, and now a refusal to get involved in a battle for Ivan Toney if the price is anywhere north of £70m.
After a dead January killed at source by widespread fear of FFP ramifications, the idea that any club would spend anywhere close to £100m on a 28-year-old striker is absurd. Those kind of deals should be reserved for a Ronaldo or a Harry Kane, and Toney is far from being either.
It’s not just Manchester United that should be wary but every club in the Premier League. Chelsea have long been linked with Toney but the kings of amortisation would surely not countenance a transfer in which a 30-year-old Toney would have a book value of £60m after two years of a five-year contract.
To Brentford, Toney is worth at least £100m, but a transfer fee captures a moment when a player’s value to two clubs collides, and Toney – who at 28 will be into ‘little sell-on value’ territory this summer – is not worth £100m to any prospective buyer. Never mind an actual profit (those are always rare on big-ticket players), there will never be a book profit on that purchase.
Now some will roll their eyes at such notions, but clubs do have to operate within guidelines and there are reasons why City in particular have refused to go above a certain price or a certain wage for a succession of players. Unlimited money does have limits in football; just ask Newcastle United.
If any transfer should serve as a warning to Manchester United, it is not that of Antony – whose age offers some mitigation for his inflated fee – but Casemiro. United spent an initial £60m and committed massive wages to a player who will be worth only marginally more than nothing just two years later. There is a chance that Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez might catch up with their book values at some point during their mammoth contracts but Casemiro never could. It was a panic buy that only Manchester United would have made.
A summer-long pursuit of Frenkie de Jong should never have happened without concrete assurances, and there should have been a dozen alternatives with the same profile. The answer should never have been to throw a shedload of cash at an expensive, ageing money pit in the last days of the transfer window.
Toney is no Casemiro but at £100m it would be a similarly short-term purchase, and it would not even solve United’s biggest issue. It’s too easy to say that Manchester United need a goalscorer; actually, they have created far, far fewer Big Chances than even Brentford this season. It’s not that Rasmus Hojlund is missing a boatload of chances that Toney would despatch. United do need another striker but if there is a sizeable transfer pot, centre-forward should not take the bulk of that money. A chance of style is needed, not a change in personnel in one position.

Liverpool suffer most VAR errors in Premier League as Aston Villa get rub of the green

Liverpool have had more VAR errors go against them than any other Premier League side this season, while Aston Villa have benefited the most from mistakes.
The Reds certainly suffered the most blatant VAR error of the season when Luis Diaz’s goal was wrongly disallowed for offside against Tottenham, owing to miscommunication between the officials.

But ESPN has now revealed that Jurgen Klopp’s side have also been on the end of the most incorrect VAR calls this season, with all contentious incidents assessed by the Premier League’s Independent Key Match Incidents Panel.
While Liverpool have had four VAR errors against them, Brighton and Wolves have suffered three, Arsenal two and eight other clubs on one each.
Aston Villa are the side to have benefitted most with three VAR mistakes in their favour, while Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle and Nottingham Forest have each had two errors go in their favour.
The report has revealed that ‘of the 20 VAR errors this season, 17 have been for missed interventions, with two decisions changed incorrectly and one situation where the VAR wrongly rejected an overturn at the pitchside monitor’.
The accuracy of key match decisions has increased from 82% pre-VAR to 96% this season and Tony Scholes, chief football office of the Premier League, rejected criticism of refereeing in England, saying the standard is “at least as good [or] better than it’s ever been.”

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“It’s critical that the match officials keep up with the quality and the advancement of the players and the coaches,” Scholes said. “Further improvement is always required. I know myself from my club background that one mistake can be incredibly costly to a club and can be incredibly costly to individuals.
“It’s important that all of us at the league and in the refereeing organisation stay mindful of that and of the need to keep developing, keep improving so that we are in a world where no factual mistakes at all are made and subjective mistakes are minimized.”
There were 25 mistakes at the same stage of the 2022-23 season, but the time taken over reviews has increased markedly since the error to wrongly disallow Diaz’s goal against Tottenham at the end of September.
Scholes believes the lengthy delays are adversely affecting games and the fan experience in the ground, but said that plans to adopt semi-automated offside next season have yet to be rubber-stamped, and there remain doubts about the overall effectiveness of this technology.

“Clearly everything in the world of VAR is not perfect,” Scholes said. “We’re aware of that and we know that we’ve got work to do. We’re doing too many checks, we’re taking too long in doing them as well. It’s to a degree understandable, given the level of scrutiny these guys are under.
“But the reviews are taking too long and it’s affecting the flow of the game, and we’re extremely aware of that and the need to improve that speed whilst always maintaining the accuracy.”
Scholes wants decisions to be made more quickly, but accepts that placing a time limit on VAR reviews might not be appropriate at the expense of getting decisions correct.
“We don’t want to jeopardise accuracy,” Scholes said. “But decision times have increased this season and that’s alongside the increased scrutiny that is on the VARs as a result of a couple of high-profile decisions.

“They are taking longer to check, we understand that, but by training and development we want them to focus on making a decision on the facts they see but not having to double or triple check.”
READ MORE: Klopp deification sees Liverpool top title contenders ranked by how much F365 couldn’t stand them winning

Alexander-Arnold backs Liverpool to win quadruple as Reds can ‘beat any team’ (except Arsenal)

Trent Alexander-Arnold insists Liverpool can win the quadruple this season, backing his side to “beat any team” four days after they got turned over by Arsenal in the Premier League.
Liverpool were challenging on all four fronts in the 2021/22 campaign but ended up with just the two domestic cup trophies, losing to the Premier League to Manchester City on the final day and to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

Klopp has provided extra incentive this season having announced he will be leaving the club in the summer, and they arguably have a better chance now than they did two years ago given they’re competing in the Europa League rather than the Champions League.
They did suffer a setback in the Premier League on Sunday though, when they were soundly beaten by Arsenal, and Manchester City remain heavy favourites to claim their fourth consecutive title as they linger two points behind Liverpool with a game in hand.
The Reds can claim their first piece of silverware in the Carabao Cup final later this month, and will be odds on to beat Chelsea, but Alexander-Arnold is a greedy boy.
Alexander-Arnold told CNN:”I’m fully focused on winning every single trophy possible. My aim is to go and win the quadruple. It’s only a couple of weeks before we want to get our arms on our first piece of silverware.

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“Every game is almost like a final now because a certain other team [Manchester City] look like they are clicking into gear, which means it is going to go down to the wire as usual. It means every game is a must-win, simple as that. That’s the way you want it. You want to get pushed, you want to push yourself as far and as hard as you can. Even a draw feels like a loss, no matter the context of it.”
Rating the Reds’ hopes of the four trophies that remain on offer, Alexander-Arnold added: “Carabao Cup, there’s a 50/50 chance. The cup competitions speak for themselves because it is knockout football. I would back ourselves against any team in the world over two legs. European football at Anfield, we back ourselves to be able to beat any team in Europe and the world.
“For the FA Cup, I’d back ourselves to be able to beat any team. What I believe we are capable of doing is beating any team that’s in front of us. That’s the mentality we need to have. The league is going to come down to consistency and results. It will be nice to say we are going to win every game between now and the end of the season, but there’s a good chance that’s not going to happen. We need to put a good run together, which we need we are capable of doing and we also need to keep our mentality right because I’m sure the pressure will be right behind us.”
READ MORE: Klopp deification sees Liverpool top title contenders ranked by how much F365 couldn’t stand them winning

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