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The Game Football Podcast

Record-Breaking Haaland & Big Sam Is Back!

Tom Clarke is joined by Gregor Robertson and Tom Allnutt to look back at the week's Premier League action and discuss the biggest stories of the week.
The Times' Chief Sports Correspondent Matt Lawton joins us to reflect on the news that Sam Allardyce has been appointed the new Leeds manager until the end of the season. He discusses what he can bring to the side, and explains why his long-standing assistant Sammy Lee won't be with him this time around. (00:00)
The panel continue to discuss Sam Allardyce's appoint at Leeds and try make sense of it all. Gregor Robertson believes the appointment has no logic to it, whilst Tom Allnutt says Leeds no have identity, so he could understand why they have made the decision to bring him in. (08:10)
Leicester drew 2-2 with Everton in a huge game at the bottom of the table on Monday night, they reflect on this result, and explain why a point may not be the worst result in the world for both teams as they look to stay in the Premier League. (18:00)
Arsenal keep their slim hopes of winning the Premier League title alive with a 3-1 win at home to Chelsea in midweek, but just how bad have things got at Chelsea, and how much of a job does Mauricio Pochettino have on his hands if he were to be appointed the club's new manager? (24:00)


Erling Haaland breaks the record for the most Premier League goals in a single season as his 35th helped Man City brush aside West Ham - they discuss that result and also reflect on Liverpool's 1-0 win at home to Fulham on Wednesday night. (34:20)


Molly Hudson joins the show to reflect on Arsenal's defeat to Wolfsburg in their Champions League semi-final second leg at a sold-out Emirates Stadium, and also reflect on the news of a 4th Arsenal player picking up an ACL injury in just 6 months (47:15)


We end the show by discussing Lionel Messi's future after he took some unauthorised leave from PSG, and we preview the final day of the Championship season, with so many teams still in contention for a possible play-off place. (55:45)


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  • Fathers, sons, money and mavericks

    01:02:36
    Genes count as three sons of former players star for Liverpool. As academy players are in the spotlight the team discuss the modern player, private education and clubs more holistic approach to their assets. Had Stan Bowles been a player now he may have had more help with gambling problems that beset his life, Martin and Tony share their memories of a great player with a crazy life. With Wolves one game away from Wembley, is Gary O’Neil in line for manager of the season?On to FFP and points deductions, Finally, its Paul Pogba, Eric Ten Hag and martin makes a bold prediction about Brighton. Timeline: FA Cup2’ Klopps trust in the kids3’ This is Klopp’s chance to play the kids, they won’t be playing against City in two weeks. Great for the Dads. Three kids there all whose dads got them playing.5’ How have Liverpool not conceded in last two games?7’ all seem well rounded young men. Moulding good young people not just players.8’ Players with pros as parents know how to stay the course.11’ Lots of young players sent to private school by clubs.14’ They’ve done brilliant but a long way to go.17’ At Wolves, Gary O’Neil, took over five days before season started. He could get them to a Wembley semi/final.20’ He has walked in and not asked for too much change. Everton points deduction23’ six is better then ten. But its still too much.24’ Not good to have lawyers deciding league placings.25’ guidelines are better than nothing. But still no structure.26’ we need clear rules.27’ Everton will now be fine, little danger of relegation. Stan Bowles32’ A maverick, a gambler, and an entertainer.33’ Many stories about the colourful life, playing snakes and ladders for £50 a corner…34’ The stories obscure how good he was as a player. In 74’ QPR were 14 mins from winning the league.37’ Don shanks compared him to Aguero, he was a continental footballer in Britain. Tony thinks Zola.38’ there was a sad side to stan. He had a testimonial and gambled all the money away within a few weeks. Brighton42’ Martin thinks Brighton are too good…they will keep losing good staff and good players. You can’t sustain that.44’ No matter the data team, at some point you can’t pull another rabbit out the hat.45’ Bloom is a genius; he is possibly the best owner of a club in the world. Pogba53’ Pogba banned for four years for doping. effectively ending his career54’ Very sad, Sad way for a player of his talent to end his career. It won’t end with this, there is more to come out. Manchester derby56’ who knows, Martin can’t predict.57’ I can’t see how he [Ten Hag] can be there man for next season. Because if he was, they’d have come out and said it.60’ fabulous team, but you just can’t get the ball off them. Be amazed if Man City don’t win
  • Klopp's kids triumph and dealing with mardy managers

    54:58
    Was it Captain Colossus, Klopp’s charisma or just really good academy players that got Liverpool over the line? Alyson Rudd was Nostradamus, highlighting last week the huge impact Virgil Van Dyke has on his Liverpool team. What now for Pochettino and Chelsea, wilting in extra time and still no trophy.At Old Trafford the shoots of hope were trampled by a very good Fulham performance. It left some wondering, what the club have to show for the second most expensive signing ever…Anthony. For Crystal Palace, Oliver Glasner has hit the ground running with signs of a blueprint after only two games.Finally, its Arsenal looking strong and good luck to George Elokobi and Maidstone. Timeline: Cup final2’ Liverpool, well deserved win. Chelsea created better chances, but Liverpool had the fight, hunger and drive.4’ Tom A felt Chelsea were in the ascendancy, until extra time. Poch’s disappointment was how they played extra time.8’ Alyson the prophet, saw the impact VVD has on Liverpool.13’ It is precious to have academy players in big games. It strengthens the bond between team and supporters.14’ Chelsea had that and they burnt it.15’ Liverpool testament to a long term structure and plan.“Its not a coincidence that you get a 19yr old at a club like Liverpool who can step in and look like he’s been there for years.”19’ Chelsea have wasted their money. Who is not buying into Poch’s culture.21’ Too many mistakes and get too introverted to easily.22’ a collective malaise, where is it coming from? Pricky Pep24’ doesn’t like journalists, looked bored26’ seems to hate doing press.28’ The pressure and demands on managers are enormous. Manchester United31’ Ten Hag back under pressure. Result indicative of what’s going on at the club.32’ Tom’s visit to Ajax, no one thought Anthony was worth what Man U paid for him.33’ Are they going to build off field first then the team? Or on pitch first.36’ Hot managerial market this summer. Liverpool, Barca and Bayern all looking.37’ Fulham were excellent, they wanted it and were without Paulinha, Jimenez and Willian.38’ Muniz stepping up, looked good. Iwobi, really good, cool finish. Palace40’ already there is a blueprint. 3-4-2-141’ Matheaus Franca, looked good, suddenly can see why they signed him.43’ great start for Glasner, good record of signings from championship, Wharton another of them. They have good young players.44’ free roll of the dice for a mid table club. Arsenal46’ Playing fantastic, front foot football. They’re flying.48’ Goals from 19 set pieces and best defence…50’ Should Eddie howe be worried, they’re tailing away. Look poor first half.51’ Arsenal suffocated them, pressed them to death. Good luck George!!Maidstone take on Coventry City in the FA cup tonight. They’re the lowest ranked team to reach round five in over 40 years. 
  • George Elokobi: "We dance one more time."

    30:15
    Ahead of a huge FA Cup tie for Maidstone United, a special edition of The Game.Ever wondered how a part time team prepares for a big cup game against a team four leagues above them? Or what it’s like to score your first premier league goal, or get ‘tortured’ by a winger in front of Sir Alex at Old Trafford..? In a bonus edition of The Game Alyson Rudd and producer Neil went to meet Maidstone manager George Elokobi….
  • "We’re Manchester United and we’re coming to get you." Really…?

    01:00:13
    A quick look at the mid-week fixtures and a bold claim, Arsenal have the best defence, and defences win leagues… City won again and Klopp likened his teams win against Luton to their famous win against Barcelona.James Gheerbrandt went to see Tuchel lose out to Xabi Alonso against Leverkusen. A week later he ‘agreed’ to leave Munich, where next and what are the knock-on effects in the managerial merry go round?  Tom, Martin, James and Gregor discuss the bold new vision presented by Sir Jim Ratcliffe at Manchester United, is three years optimistic and why no backing for Ten Hag…? Timeline:2’ Arsenal sucker punched by Porto3’ Different feel to European games, lots of fouls, grappling.5’ Good for the champions league to have such a different feel. Made it tough for Arsenal.8’ arsenal looking at not getting to quarters again, do they need to change mindset. 11’ Arsenal have the bets defence in the league, and titles are won by defences…13’ Klopp has created, built character at Liverpool, that will get you a long way. Tuchel leaves Munich20’ Will Tuchel leaving mean Alonso goes to Munich?21’ Tuchel was out manoeuvred by Alonso, he won the tactical battle.22’ Weird move by Munich, not good for dressing room.24’ If Liverpool want him, they need to get in now and tell him, before Munich do. Sir Jim Ratcliffe33’ He wants Man Utd ‘turned around’ in three years. Three years isn’t very long…can he do it?35’ He has a helping hand with Klopp leaving, and city facing FFP investigations37’ he was bullish, might regret that. Came close to slagging the glazers off.38’ No mention or backing for Ten Hag42’ slates being cleared. They’ve had good managers, it’s the system they work in that needs fixing.45’ We’re Manchester United and we’re coming to get you.  49’ extraordinary that it has taken 11 years for this to happen for Man Utd to have a modern set up.51’ everything is about money. Why is it surprising that Newcastle want money for Dan Ashworth…54’ On the pitch looks better, but still a long way to go. Gregor still thinks they are miles off. 
  • The title race, Kane's understudy and Lemon Meringue Pie

    58:25
    City dropped points, Liverpool picked up more injuries and Arsenal are eleven nil up from their last two games. So where does that leave the title race?Which players are irreplaceable on a title run in?Crystal Palace look set to make a managerial change, but how have they handled it, with Roy Hodgson still unwell and Oliver Glasner seemingly lined up to replace him.Who is best placed to be Harry Kane’s understudy? Gregor Robertson thinks Ollie Watkins is the complete striker. Alyson Rudd thinks Ivan Tony has international class.Rasmus Hojlund has turned a corner and is now the youngster player to score in six consecutive premier league games, will it be enough to drag Man Utd into the top four… Timeline: Title race2’ Across two games Chelsea were really good. Chilwell handled Foden well.3’ Best game Disasi has had in a Chelsea shirt.4’ Haaland wont’ have many games like that.5’ Can’t believe how nice you’re being to Chelsea. They were defensive smart performance from Chelsea8’ city’s record against top 6 is a concern. They’re third, behind Arsenal and Chelsea.Liverpool9’ Virgil Van Dyke, a man with presence. Key to being clam is enjoying the football.11’ having an amazing season Arsenal15’ Forward line has grown in confidence as the goals have come.16’ Liverpool victory was key.18’ Burnley and West Ham abysmal. So 11-0 for arsenal has context.19’ all done without Zinchenko and Jesus. Injuries21’ could have a key part in title race. Each of the big three have key players- Van Dyke, Stones, Rodri, Saliba…will injuries affect the outcome.22’ Liverpool have youngster on the side lines already bedded in who can step in.Roy Hodgson23’ Awful position to have a manager facing the sack whilst also ill in hospital.25’ when Hodgson collapsed he still hadn’t been told, but it is an open secret that Glasner is going to get the job.28’ Roy shouldn’t be in a position of being angry with the club going behind his back. 29’ they way they are handling this is terrible. And it isn’t the first time.Watkins or Tony31’ Masterclass from Watkins at the weekend32’ His importance to Villa is immense, their top four challenge rests on his shoulders.33’ He is profile similar to Kane.36’ His stats put him in elite company.37’ Watkins is always involved, even if he isn’t flashy. His skill set is very broad.40’ Ivan Tony is very unselfish. He has improved Maupay enormously. Makes unselfish runs and links up others players. Very good intuition. He has international class.43’ Kane’s understudy…Watkins for Gregor. Wide skill set. But Alyson thinks Tony, he has more arrogance and would step up to international football. Watkins is developing that arrogance.Man Utd and Rasmus Hojlund  47’ Youngest player to score in 6 premier league games on the spin.48’ Led the line brilliantly, looked confident, strong and with a strikers nose.51’ Without his goals they had no chance of top four. Now…it looks possible, but not yet likely.Bad tackles53’ This was Sheff United’s chance to create hope of safety. Holgate blew it inside 20 minutes.56’ Tough times for Chris Wilder. He had a big win at Luton and they haven’t backed it up. So momentum has been lost.
  • Who owns your club? Kane’s trophy hunt, and Man Utd’s big signing

    01:00:25
    Could Harry Kane really have another trophy-less season? If he does it won’t be for the lack of effort. The England captain has had a brilliant season, is endearing himself to the German fans, but it could still be not quite enough. Man City strolled to another win in the Champions league, are they now at their best?How would you feel if your club was part of a multi ownership model, with sister clubs in other countries…it is becoming more and more common, what are the pros and cons?Finally the new era at Manchester United looks set to start with the signing of…sporting director Dan Ashworth from Newcastle. Tom, Martin, Jonny and Gregor all agree, its good business.  Timeline: Harry Kane2’ Looking like he may not win anything in Germany. 3’ if he’d stayed at Spurs he’d be unlikely to win anything either.6’ Highly likely Munich will win something, if not this season then next. 7’ we don’t seem to celebrate success in the same way in this country. He couldn’t do anymore, he’s been great.11’ Kane endears himself to the supporters.18’ He could stay for two or three years, especially if his family are happy. City22’ They look back to their best, so easy.23’ John Stones looked accomplished in pivot role. Is he taken for granted?26’ Pep had a pop at Grealish.28’ Guardiola has earned the right to criticise, he is subtle with it though.Multi club ownership33’ Girona in Spain, the smallest ground in La Liga, a budget 700million euros less than Madrid, yet they are in a title race. Astonishing.36’ If they’re good owners, what does it matter.39’ Girona are the exception, many multi ownership models favour the ‘big fish.’40’ 8 of top 18 teams in Belgium part of multi club models.42’ it depends on the club, some push back and do wish to be part of a large organisation – Strasbourg declined Chelsea.48’ It’s a growth industry, 180 clubs world wide now part of multi ownership groups, it was 40 a decade ago. Man United52’ Looks like Dan Ashworth is going to be poached from Newcastle. 54’ Looks a good positive move from Jim Ratcliffe.55’ Ashworth is one of the best in that particular role.54’ Ashworth has ushered in a far greater degree of intelligence in the way clubs are run, he did it at West Brom, FA and Brighton.56’ Man Utd are the last of the old style football clubs. 
  • Arsenal for the title? Spurs for fourth? But what is Scott McTominay?

    53:08
    For fifteen minutes it seemed Arsenal were the complete team, but was that down to West Ham’s passivity? What does the result from the London Stadium mean for both teams - are Arsenal now back in the title race, if they were ever out of it; and for West Ham is a contract for David Moyes more or less likely?The result at Spurs was not reflective of an end to end encounter. Brighton refuse to take a backward step and Spurs now have all their players available again.After the break, what/who is Scot McTominay? A six, an eight, a ten or a throwback. The team try to figure it out. He helped Utd to a key win. Villa lost, but played well.Finally, Gregor went to meet Luton forward Elijah Adebayo but he was an unlucky omen for a great lad. Oh and Alyson is getting excited about Xabi Alonso…Timeline:West Ham v Arsenal4’ Hard for arsenal to win a title with some many London derbies to negotiate. West Ham have a good record against Arsenal.6’ Trossard was superb. 15 min spell with four goals. They had everything for that spell. Pace, power, grace, intelligence.9’ Arsenal were in control, they made it a technical contest. Last season it felt like it got tense and emotional.10’ the asterix is West Ham are all at sea.11’ Gregor thought West Ham were passive.13’ easy to extrapolate too much from games like this. Just one win.16’ West Ham fans might have seen this performance coming. Team set up on the back foot.17’ West Ham have some good players, could do something under a more progressive coach. Tottenham v Brighton20’ to teams better at pressing than playing out from the back. Repeatedly stealing the ball off each other in the final third.21’ It came down to both teams not quite having the quality in the final third, Son made the difference. The quality makes the difference in those fine margins.23’ it was all about Son, it felt like he had been away for a year.24’ Spurs are looking good, they’ve got all their options back for the first time under Postecoglou26’ Spurs need more out wide if they are going to progress to the next level.27’ Brighton missing the cutting edge up front. But still doing remarkably well with the resources they have and the type of football they play.28’ Brighton - Playing above themselves, brilliant to watch and a clear style of play.Scott McTominay and Villa v Utd31’ Jack of all trades or will he be a 8 or a 10? Always looked like he would be a destroyer rather than a goal scorer.32’ for all his appearances and goals he still won’t be a starter.34’ Its not definitive that he can’t start. 35’ Any parallels with John McGinn at Villa, not quite a centre mid or a ten?36’ Are their good players being phased out who can’t do what the modern creative/pressing era requires.38’ This is Utd from last season, grabbing wins they shouldn’t whilst not playing very well. But still amassing the points.40’ Villa have had a dip, but yesterday they played well and felt they were unlucky not to win.41’ Utd now seem better placed to finish top four than Villa…But spurs look good.Luton v Sheff Utd43’ Spent a long time at Fulham without playing for the first team. Appreciates where he is now.44’ The energy at Luton comes from players who have had to fight to play top level football.47’ Sheff Utd were fearless. Didn’t come for a draw. Bundesliga 48’ Leverkusen deserved their great win against Munich. Poor Harry Kane looks like he might not win a title.50’ some of Leverkusen’s patterns of play were amazing. 52’ Alonso is nothing like Klopp, that could be a really good thing. IF he goes to Liverpool. 
  • Sin bin's and the celebration police

    01:02:19
    Are sin bins a good idea? It looks increasingly likely that they will be trialled in specific games/competitions next season. Tom, Martin, Gregor and Tony discuss the pros and cons of sinbins and other IFAB proposed rule changes. Chelsea confounded the critics with a five star display at Villa park, but can they reproduce it?While Chelsea celebrate the team move on to discusshow, where and when one should celebrate. FYI, its not in front of the Millwallfans when you’ve just scored against them. Finally, Jesse Lingard is off the South Korea… Timeline: Chelsea and Villa5’ how do you predict football. Convincing performance, but off the back of Wolves and Liverpool performances.7’ young players will have good nights, but its about consistency.9’ Jackson’s confidence will rise from playing wide and contributing.10’ A drop in standards from Villa.11’ Early goals made all the difference.Celebrations14’ I’m not the celebration police, but keep your trousers on. Play nice.16’ Tony and his limo. Jibes about players wages on the pitch.18’ Carful how you mock…what goes around…22’ Its part of the game. Gregor would love to have someone like Maupay in his team, winding up the opposition is part of the celebration.27’ The dentists chair was a classic orchestrated celebration29’ the plans that go into each game. High fiving defenders for a clearance.32’ We’ve turned into the celebration police.38’ Tony celebrated against his former clubs…Cooling off38’ the self pass is a good rule, one used in rugby and hockey. That would cut out decent.38’ The cooling off period wouldn’t achieve that. 40’ there are easier things to do which don’t alter the structure of the game.41’ The laws need to be simplified, not complicated.43’ All seem in favour of a Sin bin46’ Are we setting unrealistic targets for perfection in the running and ruling of football.50’ the penalty spot is the perfect example of the madness at IFAB…by trying to improve it they make it worse. Jesse Lingard 53’ Korean culture doesn’t need Lingard. He might need it though.55’ It’s a shame, he’s a better player than south Korean league.56’ He might regret not taking the offers on the table58’ did he choose money over a good football choice.
  • Gunners fire, Liverpool stall. United hope, Chelsea despair

    01:02:37
    Arsenal are back in the title race, but are Liverpool suffering the delayed effects of Jurgen Klopp’s announcement last week? Tom, Alyson, Gregor, and Tony discuss the result at the Emirates and where it leaves both teams. It was a positive weekend for Manchester United, two wins on the bounce and Erik Ten Hag more upbeat than ever, have they finally turned a corner?Chelsea by contrast go from bad to worse. The team see no light at the end of the tunnel for a team over budget, with no identity, no character and facing FFP restrictions. No such trouble at Wolves who are a showcase for the ability of Gary O’Neil…will Crystal Palace come calling if he isn’t given a new contract by Wolves soon. And a quick tip of the hat for Luton.  Timeline:Arsenal v Liverpool2’ Keepers at fault, Alisson and Reya,  should have stayed on their line.4’ the let down after Klopp’s announcement6’ Nunez should start if fit. 7’ poor as a team, off the pace, Trent AA nose out of joint.10’ Arsenal were fantastic. Structured, first goal was great.11’ Brave on the ball at the back, resisting Liverpool’s press13’ What do Liverpool do now?18’ It’s a reset moment for Liverpool…will they or not? Manchester united20’ Positive signs, two wins on the trot.21’ there is balance in the team with Shaw and Martinez back. Mainoo offers legs alongside Casimero.22’ Ten Hag suddenly has a predictable eleven.25’ The Kobbie Mainoo goal could have been the springboard.26’ There are lights and reasons for optimism, can they sustain it. West Ham29’ Tough start for Kalvin Philips at West ham. He looks short on confidence and a little unfit.32’ missing pre season is key. Philips playing catch up from not playing at City. Chelsea and Wolves   35’ Fans berating players, some berating manager, joined with the Wolves fans who sang you’re f**ing sh*t.36’ Wolves were a joy to watch. Everything Chelsea are not. Pace, bravery and positivity.37’ Gary O’Neil not getting credit because it’s about the Chelsea crisis.38’ Chelsea sold all their personality. 41’ Chelsea could be in freefall, they need to move players on.41’ Chelsea If you take Tiago out it looks like a team of little boys.43’ Is Poch the problem? 46’ They can’t afford to sack him, even if they want to.48’ Will O’Neil stay at Wolves? He’ll be in demand. Are Palace looking?Crystal Palace51’ no depth in squad, can’t afford it, results reflect that. Bit of bad luck with injuries to key players. 54’ Getting rid of Hodgson would be a political decision.55’ It’ll end badly, because the club shouldn’t have reemployed him in the summer. 57’ bigger issues at Palace, Steve Parish owns 10% but his a bigger say on pitch,,,why? 58’ There is conflict in the board room.Luton58’ Of course they can stay up!!60’ They’re brave, they play with positivity and ross Barkley has found a home.