Barney Ronay

Author's posts

Oct 21

Beyond the warm hug, Pochettino and Klopp embrace total reboots | Barney Ronay

Tottenham and Liverpool are well-matched in skill and ambition and their managers are seeking to construct futures that will end obsession with the pastMauricio Pochettino loves a hug. The pre-match handshake may be no more than a glazed formality for …

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/oct/21/tottenham-liverpool-mauricio-pochettino-jurgen-klopp-past-future

Oct 13

Why curiosity was never going to kill Arsenal’s Mesut Özil | Barney Ronay

Özil has been accused of not running enough or working hard enough but after four years at Arsenal he remains basically the same player with the same skillsYou’d have to try pretty hard not to like Paul Merson as a TV pundit. Even if you insisted on ma…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/13/why-curiosity-was-never-going-to-kill-mesut-ozil-arsenal

Oct 12

Jürgen Klopp two years on – how much progress has been made? | Barney Ronay

Liverpool are a better side than they were at the end of Brendan Rodgers’ reign but a rampant Manchester United visit Anfield on Saturday and will be 10 points ahead of their rivals if they winWelcome back, then, the Premier League. Now. Where were we?…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/oct/12/jurgen-klopp-liverpool-how-much-progress-manchester-united

Oct 06

Why Southgate must wring the most out of John Stones for England | Barney Ronay

The England manager could do a lot worse than take a tip from Pep Guardiola and put as much energy as possible into wringing the most out of John Stones

This time. More than any other time. We’re going to find a way. Find a way to express key drivers of our unique but non‑prescriptive footballing DNA under a holistic development pathway. Getting it all together. We’re on our way!

Well, that’s all done now. England will be present at Russia 2018 after a room temperature qualifying campaign reached a grippingly dull resolution against Slovenia at Wembley. And really, it is worth remembering that for those who follow England these are the good times. With a place in the velvet ball bag assured we have a small interlude to purr at the prospect of wandering around the vast city-scapes of Europe’s great alien superpower worrying about Gary Cahill’s minor calf strain; to argue with doltish enthusiasm about tactics and selection; and above all to dream a little. Although if you believe the publicity it seems likely Gareth Southgate and his team of FA wonks, hangers-on and brochure‑wanglers are just as likely to spend the next few months worrying about the wider existential questions that have preoccupied the current FA.

Related: How England can find World Cup spark and repair disconnect with fans

Related: Gareth Southgate must give freedom a chance after numbing England spectacle | Barney Ronay

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/oct/06/gareth-southgate-john-stones-england

Sep 30

Gabriel Jesus stars to help Manchester City cope without Sergio Agüero | Barney Ronay

He may be only 20 and not really a No9, but the Brazilian showed at Stamford Bridge just why he could prove so crucial in his first full season for City

Gabriel Jesus will have more spectacular games than this. He will no doubt make the highlights reel more often and contribute more eye-catching moments of skill and craft than he did in Manchester City’s 1-0 victory at a relentlessly boisterous Stamford Bridge.

This, though, was something else, a performance of deeper attacking gears from City’s inside-forward, turned-false-nine, turned out-and-out central striker. Up front on his own, Jesus played with real heart and skill at the Bridge, never faltering in his energy and movement, never letting his levels drop, and doing just enough at just the right time to help nudge this match Manchester City’s way.

Related: Chelsea sunk by Kevin De Bruyne winner for Manchester City

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/30/chelsea-manchester-city-gabriel-jesus-sergio-aguero

Sep 29

Mata-Marouane: the Moyesian odd couple nearing a United redemption | Barney Ronay

The only two players signed by the Scot during his disastrous tenure at Old Trafford have defied all expectations to remain among the star-studded cast assembled by José Mourinho

In the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall a phenomenon bubbled up in Eastern Europe called “ostalgie”, or nostalgia for the old east. Seized with ostalgie, citizens of the new world found themselves tiring of the glories of capitalism, with its treacly soft drinks, unfettered access to soft-rock music and a natureless ecstasy of identical consumer products; and yearning instead for the old certainties of communism, the gulag and mass-produced cardboard trousers. As recently as last year a majority of Romanians said they missed the murderous despot Nicolae Ceausescu. Presumably, again, because you knew where you stood and the statues were nice.

Related: Paul Pogba’s Manchester United absence declared ‘long-term’ by Mourinho

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/29/david-moyes-manchester-united-mata-marouane-fellaini

Sep 18

Sead Kolasinac adds missing muscle to Arsenal’s array of skill-gnomes | Barney Ronay

The Bosnian represents an echo of the powerful, hard-running players who characterised Arsène Wenger’s best title-winning teams

One thing you often lose watching a football match on television is the sound levels. Not just the noise of the crowd but the noise of the players, a scale of collision and opposing force that means certain incidents, and indeed the careers of certain players, can have an entirely different register in the flesh.

David Luiz’s red card against Arsenal on Sunday was one such case. Replays and stills will show a raised foot but really this was a red card you had to hear. So profound was the thunk of contact those nearby knew instantly the challenge went beyond necessary force and into the realms of dangerous excess.

Related: Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend’s action

Related: Eden Hazard cameo underlines Chelsea’s need for extra source of flair | Barney Ronay

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/18/sead-kolasinac-arsenal-missing-muscle-arsene-wenger

Sep 11

Farewell Total Croydon, but which Roy Hodgson will Crystal Palace get? | Barney Ronay

The former England manager, now 70, will be desperate to erase memories of Euro 2016 and will look to imitate the simpler days of West Brom and Fulham

Welcome back, then, Roy. And rejoice Croydon, for he has returned. The news that Crystal Palace will turn to Roy Hodgson to replace the departed Frank de Boer is perhaps unsurprising given the background noises of the past few months. For all that there will still be a tendency to roll the eyes, to mock the sudden shift in footballing direction – from the Ajax Way to Purley Way – and to point out that Hodgson is 70 and hasn’t had a club job in five years.

This is undoubtedly a little unfair. In isolation Hodgson to Palace makes plenty of short-term sense. Plus it would be foolish to underestimate Hodgson’s determination to prove a point, his popularity with players and his vast experience. And yet there is no escaping the wider sense of dissonance here. Even in a league defined by its habit of vacillating comically between methodologies and personnel, the lurch from De Boer to Hodgson is one of the more bizarrely abrupt about-turns in Premier League history.

Related: Crystal Palace revert to short-term policy after ditching Frank de Boer experiment | Dominic Fifield

Related: Crystal Palace to appoint Roy Hodgson after sacking Frank de Boer

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/11/roy-hodgson-crystal-palace-total-croydon-farewell

Sep 10

Ederson’s good decision exposes Liverpool’s flaws on Jürgen Klopp’s day to forget | Barney Ronay

Sadio Mané’s red card was not bad luck but bad judgment and Liverpool’s resultant collapse allowed Manchester City to show their best side

If you can meet a 5-0 thrashing and a messy 1-1 draw and treat those two impostors exactly the same; well, there is a fair chance you will be a testy, process-obsessed Catalan super-manager, my son. Six months ago Pep Guardiola described Manchester City’s draw with Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium as “one of the best moments of my career”. Fast forward to Saturday lunchtime and City’s 5-0 shellacking of the same opponents on the same ground left Guardiola a little restless, a little cagey in his judgments.

City’s manager was pleased and talkative but still rueful over the opening half-hour when Liverpool perhaps shaded it and when, if you had had to bet on a player being sent off, it would surely have been Nicolás Otamendi, whose performance combined ponderousness with a blind scything violence whenever he got near the ball.

Related: Kevin De Bruyne’s perfect touch delights Pep Guardiola and keeps Silvas at bay | Sachin Nakrani

Related: Manchester City and Gabriel Jesus hammer 10-man Liverpool 5-0

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/10/manchester-city-liverpool-pep-guardiola-jurgen-klopp-ederson

Sep 10

Renato Sanches, the invisible wonderkid, goes from celebrity to the Liberty | Barney Ronay

Less than a year ago, Renato Sanches was the toast of Europe. On Sunday he will make his Swansea debut. So what went wrong for him at Bayern Munich, and how good can football’s captive prince still become?

Football has always tended to eat its young. Although not, perhaps, with such gleeful, richly rewarded haste as this. The ballad of Renato Sanches, European football’s great invisible wonder kid, is set to enter its latest phase on Sunday afternoon as Swansea City take on Newcastle United in their first game since Sanches joined on loan from the dingiest corners of Bayern Munich’s Säbener Strasse training complex.

From obscurity to celebrity to entropy to the Liberty. And all in less than two years. It is now 23 months since Sanches made his first-team debut for Benfica as a thrillingly ragged, thrillingly high-grade 18-year-old from the tough side of Lisbon. The timeline of that career parabola bears repeating.

Related: Swansea City v Newcastle United: match preview

Related: From Sanches to Aurier: five Premier League debutants to watch this weekend | Jack Kinnersley

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/sep/10/renato-sanches-wonderkid-celebrity-swansea-city