Casemiro is already Man Utd’s best signing for 10 years
It has been almost a decade since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and almost a decade since Manchester United have tasted anything more than fleeting success.
Their last Premier League title challenge came under Fergie, his parting gift in the form of a milestone 20th English league title – extending their own record.
In the years since, United have sporadically won cup competitions – the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League once each – but haven’t been remotely close to winning the two trophies that matter most – the Premier League and Champions League.
Money has been spent in the transfer market and a few signings have been kind of successful – Zlatan Ibrahimovic had one great season, Bruno Fernandes looks destined to be around for years and others have played well in patches – but most new arrivals have been and gone (or stuck around a little too long) without ultimately bettering themselves or the club.
United’s last masterstroke in the transfer market was the capture of Robin van Persie in 2012, a decisive factor in leaving Manchester City in the dust in the 2012/13 title race. Since then, there have been too many flops that cost too much money. Until now.
Even just a few months into his United career, Casemiro is the already best signing the club has made since Van Persie completed that controversial switch from Arsenal in search of silverware.
The Casemiro deal seemed to come out of nowhere towards the end of a summer when United had failed to agree a deal with Adrien Rabiot, although international colleague Fred later hinted it had been in the works for at least a little while. But sceptical eyebrows were initially raised as to why Real Madrid were willing to let him go, why United were paying so much for a player who turns 31 this season, why he would choose a club beginning a new rebuilding project and whether United were simply being rinsed by someone seeking potentially the last big contract of his career.
It took him a little while to command a place in the team as Erik ten Hag ensured he first has a handle on what was expected, but Casemiro has quickly dispelled all such concerns.
He had won it all with Real Madrid multiple times over and his parting comments about moving on in search of a new challenge were not simply empty words. Casemiro has played in United colours with the hunger of a player seeking to prove himself all over again.
The five-time Champions League winner wasn’t bought to score goals but that towering stoppage time header against Chelsea in October to salvage a point kind of summarised what he is about, showcasing a never say die mentality and determination never to be beaten. It is a spirit that characterised United teams for nearly 30 years under Ferguson, but has been all too absent since.
Casemiro had only been a sub when Manchester City won 6-3 in the derby earlier this season, but he has started every Premier League game since and United have looked far better for it. He makes the team altogether more solid, providing a foundation for others to perform.
Having assessed the United squad in the summer, Ten Hag had set his heart on a ‘number six’ and has now labelled Casemiro the ‘perfect one’.
“He has showed a lot of leadership and football skills,” the boss told club media this week. “He is keeping the team together and then he is also so important in our ball playing. Winning the ball and giving the ball to the right player, like he did with the third goal [against Nottingham Forest].”
For the first time in 10 years, Manchester United are starting to look like their old selves once more. Casemiro won’t write the headlines if and when success does return to Old Trafford, but he will have made it possible for others to do so. Sometimes that is the most important thing.
Tottenham weighing up decision on Antonio Conte future
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is weighing up whether to sack manager Antonio Conte this week, 90min understands.
While Spurs remain fourth in the Premier League, limp exits in the FA Cup and Champions League threw the Italian’s future into doubt and his meltdown at Southampton plunged the club further into crisis.
90min revealed earlier on Monday Tottenham could be forced to pay Conte a whipping £15m if they dismiss him before the end of the season.
Now, sources have confirmed Conte is back in Italy for a routine trip to his homeland having held talks with Spurs boss Levy. A final decision has not yet been reached but a number of officials at the club believe Conte’s position is untenable.
Tottenham Hotspur: Who is to blame?
Here at 90min towers, we’ve realised that there is always at least one Premier League club in relative crisis at any given time. In tribute, they are christened as the ‘crisis club of the week’.
But Tottenham Hotspur have crossed a line. You can’t keep continuously wrestling back the championship belt (you know, proverbially – we all know about the trophy drought). There must be a price to pay.
As such, we’ve had to dust off the old ‘who is to blame?’ gimmick instead. So, who really is to blame for Spurs’ current distress?
Blame rating: 0.1/10
Look at him. That big smile. Those big shoes. Those big wings.
He is everything wrong with Tottenham Hotspur.
Blame rating: 0.2/10
What’s worse than one big giant cockerel?
TWO big giant cockerels.
Blame rating: 0.5/10
It’s time to hop in the time machine. It’s time for some domino-effect interrogating.
Midway through the 2011/12 season, Tottenham had separated themselves from the top-four chasing pack and were within touching distance of Premier League title contenders Manchester City.
In a crunch game at the Etihad Stadium, Spurs fought back from two goals down to level it at 2-2. Mario Balotelli somehow escaped a red card for stamping on Scott Parker’s head, and would score a stoppage time penalty to seal a win for Man City and send Tottenham’s campaign into a tailspin.
That’s why they’re still stuck fighting for top-four finishes now.
Blame rating: 0.75/10
With Tottenham in the midst of that title fight, they recruited Ryan Nelsen and Louis Saha on free transfers on deadline day.
How do you think it went?
Blame rating: 1/10
But the person most at fault for such a collapse is Harry Redknapp. Or more specifically, his dog Rosie.
During a trial of two counts of cheating the public revenue, Redknapp explained to a court that he set up a Monaco bank account with Rosie’s name because he loved her so much.
All the while, Spurs’ season was going down the pan and he was flirting with the England job.
How could you do this, Rosie?
Blame rating: 1.5/10
At the end of Redknapp’s tenure, star midfielder Luka Modric was sold to Real Madrid, with Spurs announcing they had entered a special ‘partnership agreement’ with the Spanish giants.
Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid a year later.
Blame rating: 2/10
Though Juande Ramos is also Real Madrid alumni, his connection to Tottenham is for a very different reason.
He was the last manager to win a trophy with Spurs. Much better managers have followed in his wake and failed. What a lottery.
Blame rating: 2.1/10
Ramos won the cup, but that team spiritually belonged to Martin Jol. He’s just as culpable.
Blame rating: 2.5/10
Because you can’t blame who Spurs are and what they’re about without referencing Lasagna-gate 2006. I don’t want to go into it, though. Too painful.
Blame rating: 3/10
One of Tottenham’s most famous fans just happens to be someone who can also sell out Wembley – how are Spurs supposed to live with that pressure?
But speaking of Wembley…
Blame rating: 3.5/10
Tottenham had outgrown their old White Hart Lane stadium and had to move on. During construction of a new ground, they had to play at Wembley – a soulless stadium which was a nightmare to get to and from.
Spurs were unbeaten in their final season at White Hart Lane and lost their first game at Wembley. Go figure.
Blame rating: 4/10
Tottenham haven’t quite felt the benefits of their new home just yet. Why not? Why can’t a stadium play at wing-back?
Blame rating: 4.1/10
Among proposals for Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were a cheese room as part of the club’s luxury offerings.
It did not make the final blueprints.
Blame rating: 4.5/10
Beavertown have a microbrewery inside the new stadium. They now run a pub where the old ticket office stood. I am the proud owner of Beavertown x Spurs merchandise.
They truly run the world.
Blame rating: 5/10
The NFL have a 10-year agreement to play matches at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. There is a specific-use American football pitch underneath the soccer one.
It’s just not football anymore.
Blame rating: 5.1/10
Tottenham Hotspur Stadium featured on an episode of Richard Hammond’s Big.
Did the club further need their ego stroked? No.
Is the episode any good? Oh yeah, really great. Rivalries aside, definitely go watch it.
Blame rating: 5.2/10
Do podcasters even say anything interesting? Anything noteworthy? Are they worth the hassle? Everyone’s got a bloody podcast these days.
Anyway, please subscribe to Oh What A Night, part of the 90min podcast network. Hosted by me.
Blame rating: 5.5/10
The referee who gave a handball against Moussa Sissoko 22 seconds into the only Champions League final Tottenham might ever play.
I hope you’re proud of yourself. You ruined it for everyone.
Blame rating: 5.6/10
Off the back of reaching that Champions League final, Spurs made an audacious move to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus.
He didn’t seem overly keen on the deal anyway, but a move fell apart on deadline day as Tottenham could not legally work their way around an issue with the forward’s image rights.
Blame rating: 6/10
Jose Mourinho was hired to get Tottenham over the line in their pursuit of a trophy.
He took the club backwards instead.
Blame rating: 6.1/10
Tottenham were handed a boost in their 2020/21 UEFA Europa League last 16 tie with Dinamo Zagreb when it was confirmed that manager Zoran Mamic had been sentenced to four years in prison.
Spurs managed to blow a two-goal lead and lost the second leg 3-0. Maybe if Mamic was let off the hook things would have been different.
Blame rating: 6.2/10
Off the back of that surprise elimination, the social media manager of Joe Hart – who spent just one season at Spurs – praised the result on the goalkeeper’s Instagram page, assuming that Tottenham wouldn’t have ballsed it up.
Hart issued a public apology for the incident, but the damage was done.
Blame rating: 6.5/10
This really was a time where bashing Tottenham was the lowest of hanging fruits. Even Dulux – who had become the club’s official paint supplier days earlier – posted tweets mocking their empty trophy cabinet.
Blame rating: 6.6/10
“Lads, it’s Tottenham.”
This utterance from Fergie set up a generation of Spurs jokes.
Blame rating: 6.7/10
Ah, the man behind the modern person’s Spurs proverb.
“It is in the history of the Tottenham.”
That’s another generation sorted.
Blame rating: 7/10
The best fried chicken in north London, why must you always tempt us back to N17?
Sources (Matt Le Tissier and David Cotterill) suggest the secret ingredient is Chirpy.
Blame rating: 7.5/10
Ok, I’m only being half-satirical with this list. 75% at a push. 100% if you think I’m a moron.
But there are genuinely Tottenham fans who think that Beyonce playing concerts at the stadium this summer is an awful thing which somehow ties to the club’s ambitions.
Blame rating: 8/10
Is it a good thing when your managing director of football could be banned from football for two-and-a-half years for financial irregularities?
Blame rating: 8.6/10
Antonio Conte was meant to be different. He was hired to get Tottenham over the line in their pursuit of a trophy. He took the club backwards inst- hey, didn’t I say this already?
Blame rating: 8.7/10
The unlikeliest of heroes, all things considered. 271 goals for Tottenham Hotspur, and by dumb modern-day logic, none of them mean anything.
What a sad little life, Harry.
Blame rating: 8.8/10
Well, Tactics Tim, you always wanted to take credit for Kane becoming one of the best players in the world.
Time to have your cake and eat it.
Blame rating: 9/10
Whooooo remembers ‘4th – Arsenal’ jokes?
No but seriously the Gunners have made the leap Spurs were supposed to and it’s causing misery down the other end of the Seven Sisters Road and I hate it.
Blame rating: 9.1/10
Lord Sugar was the owner of Tottenham during one of the worst stretches of their entire history. Nowadays, he just tweets discriminatory things and hosts The Apprentice.
Quite a brush for the club to be tarred with.
Blame rating: 9.5/10
Objectively and subjectively, Tottenham have made huge strides under Daniel Levy’s chairmanship.
They’ve also stagnated in recent years because of some really poor decisions and refusal to learn from mistakes.
Levy giveth, Levy taketh away.
Blame rating: 10/10
Here he is. The man who raised the bar, who made modern Tottenham Hotspur the club they are today.
It’s only right that he should be forced to return and sort out this mess. Who’s with me?
Nottingham Forest midfielder Lewis O’Brien joins D.C. United on loan
Nottingham Forest midfielder Lewis O’Brien is officially headed to Major League Soccer.
The player will join D.C. United on loan through July 16, though the contract contains a purchase option.
As reported previously by 90min, the two parties agreed to terms for the temporary stint after head coach Wayne Rooney convinced O’Brien of the project at D.C. United.
“Lewis has been one of the best players in the Championship over the last few seasons,” Rooney said in a release. “He reads the game well and creates goal-scoring opportunities. Bringing him in on loan from Nottingham Forest was a great bit of business for us and he will be a brilliant addition to our midfield.”
The player’s future was initially at risk when failing to secure a transfer to Championship high-fliers Blackburn Rovers on deadline day. Director of football Gregg Broughton revealed Rovers experienced “internal and external” reasons that led to late submission, and the club appealed the decision in the hope of the move being ratified.
But the EFL rejected the bid as Rovers had not submitted all of the required paperwork in time.
The unfortunate outcome left O’Brien unable to feature for the remainder of the season, after Forest did not name him in their 25-man Premier League squad for the second half of the campaign.
But Rooney stepped in with the chance at a new chapter with the Black and Red in Major League Soccer. O’Brien will now join D.C United with one goal in 17 appearances under his belt. He stands as D.C.’s third Premier League addition in the last six months after striker Christian Benteke arrived last summer from Crystal Palace and Mateusz Klich joined this winter from Leeds United.
Under Rooney, D.C. United has seen a decent start to the 2023 campaign with four points in four games and a 1W-1L-1D record. After concluding the 2022 season in last place of the Eastern Conference, the head coach hopes the new additions will propel the team out of the bottom and into the playoffs.
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