Writing on the wall for Shaw at Old Trafford?
Jose Mourinho continues to insist that Luke Shaw has a future under him at Manchester United but every passing week throws up evidence to the contrary.
A player who was once considered England’s guaranteed left-back for the next decade or more is struggling to rescue his Old Trafford career since that horrendous double leg break in Holland early last season.
Six league starts and seven in cup competitions is the sum total of Shaw’s season to date and, while he has been hampered by niggly injuries, losing his FA Cup place, after starting the last two rounds, is hardly a promising sign.
Just 48 hours after Mourinho insisted Shaw will not be leaving in the summer, his response was to play winger Ashley Young at right-back and right-back Matteo Darmian at left-back in preference to Shaw.
How can Ranieri rediscover the Leicester spirit?
The Italian worked miracles last season but there was little evidence in Saturday’s humbling at Millwall that the manager is capable of preventing Leicester’s title defence from turning into a disaster. Ranieri admitted he needed “gladiators” but faced with a testing atmosphere in London’s docklands, his players wilted.
If the midlands club are to avoid become the first reigning champions to be relegated in the post-war era, they need to find some backbone fast. The spirit that took them to the top of the Premier League table has disappeared, replaced by an alarming combination of a fear of failure and complacency that was articulated by Shinji Okazaki’s arrogance when presented with a good late chance.
The striker should have killed the game off, instead he wanted to add a flourish to his finish and was left red-faced.
Is it time to start the Chelsea double talk?
The return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup quarter-final will provide a serious obstacle en route to Wembley, but with a clear fixture programme to the end of season, the Chelsea double talk can seriously begin.
They’ve brushed aside all comers in the Premier League. Most managers and pundits have already laid out the blue and white ribbons for that one.
The FA Cup has seem some major casualties and with no European competition to worry about this year, Chelsea can focus on becoming the third English club to do their double twice.
And with their depth in their squad, they must have a great chance to win both. The Blues’ performance at Molineux was a masterclass in getting the job done with no frills.
Champions can dazzle, but in the end can also win the tough ones, and make it look simple.
Pochettino has abandoned the rotation policy
Squad rotation is considered essential in modern football, but striking the right balance is proving difficult for many managers. Claudio Ranieri got it badly wrong on Sunday as an under-strength Leicester were humiliated at Millwall, just as a much-changed Spurs nearly were in the fourth round against Wycombe.
So Pochettino decided to leave out just one first-choice player, with keeper Hugo Lloris replaced by Michel Vorm, and was rewarded with a comfortable passage through to the quarter-finals.
Pochettino has learned that he needs the majority of his best players on the pitch if Spurs are to have a chance in three competitions, and certainly he will put out a strong side against Gent in the Europa League on Thursday.
Although he said earlier this season that players are not robots and cannot play in every game, he also knows that without the depth of squad enjoyed by the other top six managers, he cannot afford to rest too many players between now and the end of the season.