Premier League talking points: Mane superior to Salah for Liverpool, Man Utd’s Fergie time

Liverpool beat Arsenal, Leicester shocked Manchester City and Manchester United brought back Fergie Time. Express Sport writer Matthew Dunn talks about the key moments in his latest Talking Points column.


Sadio Mane has finally given Mo Salah the elbow this season as the man making things happen for Liverpool.

He was incredibly fortunate to get away with an early red card against Arsenal, but from that moment he was effervescent in getting Liverpool over the line for their comeback win.

That relentlessness is what you need to build a title success these days, and while it was Salah’s unerring ability to find the back of the net that took Liverpool so far two years ago, Mane is the one now who seems to be able to lift the Merseysiders consistently to three points.

He was the man-of-the-match against Chelsea and his stunning goal last night again secured the points.

It seems the only thing able to stop him is a better application of the VAR technology.

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The giant ‘5’ on the scoreboard on Sunday for Leicester City is proving a not-so-magic number for Pep Guardiola as he struggles with fifth-season syndrome.

But what it does do is mark a new way of measuring the game’s greatest top-level managers – in terms of their shelf-life.

Jose Mourinho famously struggles in season no. 3; may indeed struggle even to get there with Spurs.

Mauricio Pochettino’s ‘magic’ also disappeared after five years in a puff of smoke and although Arsene Wenger stayed for 22 years, the titles had dried up after eight.

Bob Paisley has the sense to walk away after six hugely successful years at Liverpool while Brian Clough’s 18-year reign at Nottingham constituted of 13 years steady descent towards relegation after his initial four-year continent-stormng burst.

Which makes Sir Alex Ferguson’s stint so amazing. Five years in, he hadn’t really even got going. If Guardiola is going to keep going into year six, perhaps he needs to find some fledglings to join Phil Foden and reinvigorate things at the Etihad.

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It has been the worst piece of interpretation since Monty Python’s eavesdropper at the Sermon on the Mount explained to those around him that Blessed are the Cheesemakers was “not meant to be taken literally, it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.”

The game’s senior rulemakers patted themselves on the backs in 2018 when after 80 years they had finally spelled out an exact meaning of “intent” in the handball law.

But they were missing the original point entirely.

Instead of penalising attempts to cheat, they had defined an arbitrary set of circumstances that were easier to identify.

Through no fault of defenders, there have been as many penalties give for handball this season as in the whole of the 2017-18 campaign – the last under the old wording.

That was not perfect, but football managed to get by for 80 years without falling into this current nonsense. Let’s have our old law back.

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The measurements are now in. Officially, it takes just two bad Premier League results for Jose Mourinho to start taking things personally.

On September 18 he was magnanimous about the “joke” fixture scheduling with Europa League and EFL Cup games expected in the same week.

“The people who make these decisions they forgot about one English team – not Tottenham, it could be us, could be Wolves or Sheffield or another one,” he said of a pile-up that would have affected whoever finished in the last Europa League-qualifying spot.

But defeat to Everton and two points dropped late at Newcastle, and suddenly it is a conspiracy.

“The only feeling I am ready to share is that I don’t feel Tottenham is respected according to to what the club is,” he moaned. “No respect. I feel we deserve more respect.”

Respectfully, Tottenham’s real problem this season is that when Mourinho was brought in last year to get them in the top four, they only finished sixth.

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The main asset Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has as Manchester United manager is the ability to pick up the phone to Sir Alex Ferguson for advice.

Now it seems he can also turn to him for his ability to slow down the referee’s watch.

Clearly Fergie has lost none of his touch and at Brighton he showed he could even conjure up a winner after the referee had blown his final whistle.

Ten extra minutes seemed to materialise from nowhere and Fergie is lucky that handball seems to be dominating the controversy conversations – otherwise moving time-keeping to Stockley Park would seem an obvious next step on the agenda.

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