March 31, 2023
Who was turbocharged by a new manager? Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week

Who was turbocharged by a new manager? Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week

Garth Crooks

At the end of every Premier League round of fixtures, BBC football pundit Garth Crooks is on hand to give you his Team of the Week.

But who has he picked this time? Take a look and then pick your own team below. As ever, Garth also has his say on the game’s big talking points in the Crooks of the Matter.

Garth Crooks' team of the weekGoalkeeper

David de Gea (Manchester United)

The save from Marc Guehi’s point-blank header was De Gea at his best. With little more than 20 minutes left to play and United down to 10 men against Crystal Palace, after Casemiro had been sent off for violent conduct, the Spanish keeper kept his side’s hopes of winning alive. Such was the quality of the save, his team-mates were compelled to congratulate him. Recent media speculation suggests De Gea is close to signing a new contract at Old Trafford. If I were manager Erik ten Hag, I would make it my top priority.


James Tarkowski (Everton)

Everton should have scored three goals in the first half against Arsenal and would have done with better finishing. It took a set-piece and a centre-half to break the deadlock against the league leaders, which rather explains why they have struggled this season. Tarkowski’s first goal for Everton won them the points, but I can’t help feeling the arrival of his former Burnley boss Sean Dyche has turbocharged the player’s confidence. The entire team has also responded to the demands of the new manager. However we’ve seen this all before – the question is, how long will it last?

Nayef Aguerd (West Ham)

The tackle by Aguerd on Callum Wilson as the Newcastle striker was bearing down on the West Ham goal was as good as I’ve seen. The Morocco central defender looked brilliant throughout this encounter. The Hammers have had a difficult time of it lately as they fight to avoid relegation, but seem to have steadied the ship, which is just as well for David Moyes. The fans were starting to get a little restless at the London Stadium and when that happens it normally means the manager’s head is on the chopping block.

Craig Dawson (Wolves)

It was an inspired move by Wolverhampton Wanderers to get Dawson during the transfer window from West Ham. The defender, who played for West Brom the last time they were in the Premier League, is back in the West Midlands and looking just as comfortable in the famous gold and black club colours at Molineux as he did at the Hawthorns.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are leaking goals. I said some time ago that injured defender Virgil van Dijk is their most important player and one clean sheet in their last 10 away Premier League matches rather proves the point. At the moment, Liverpool look average at best.


Emerson Royal (Tottenham)

Not my favourite player, but I must say the way in which Royal dealt with Jack Grealish, Manchester City’s best player against Spurs, was very impressive. I have no idea what is going on at Manchester City, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the premature departure of Joao Cancelo, to Bayern Munich on loan, has not gone down well with some of the players. Kevin de Bruyne’s relegation to substitute and the look of total dissatisfaction on the face of Erling Haaland throughout the game against Tottenham are tell-tale signs that all is not well. Something is desperately wrong at City and Pep Guardiola is at the heart of it.

Ruben Neves (Wolves)

This was another excellent performance from Neves against a Liverpool side that seemed to be lacking in every department. What on earth has happened to Joe Gomez, Thiago and Naby Keita? Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson’s recent lack of form is also most worrying, while forwards Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah hardly had a kick. I’m beginning to think Nunez is suffering from stage fright. Clubs don’t come much bigger than Liverpool and the pressure can be enormous. Nunez is really struggling in front of goal.

Amadou Onana (Everton)

It’s been some time since an Everton player got into my team of the week – and we have two after this weekend. I’ve had lots to say about their poor performances and managers – but no selections. Against Arsenal I could have picked any of their midfielders, both full-backs and their two central defenders, such was their performance. However, it was Onana who seemed to get the blood pumping among Evertonians as he took the game to the Gunners. His passion, determination and willingness to cover every blade of grass was infectious. What a pity former manager Frank Lampard saw very little of that.

Tete (Leicester)

Leicester City’s form seems to have suffered more from the interruption of the World Cup than any other Premier League team. However, they finally got back to winning ways after a stunning performance by a player signed on loan. Tete is currently registered to Shakhtar Donetsk, but has found his way into Leicester’s starting line-up, via Lyon, due to the war in Ukraine. What is really interesting is this player has a goalscoring rate of one every three games and it showed against Villa. As for Unai Emery, the excellent start to his managerial campaign at Villa Park had to come to an end – it just took a Brazilian to do it.


Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)

It’s very hard not to recognise Manchester United’s transformation under Ten Hag without also acknowledging Rashford’s continued goalscoring exploits under the new regime. Rashford lost his form and focus last season and his game suffered as a consequence. However, with 19 goals since the arrival of Ten Hag, the England striker has recaptured his goalscoring prowess and put United on course for a top-four finish.

What possessed referee Andre Marriner to send off Casemiro against Palace, for what appeared to be no more than a mere scuffle between players, I will never know. Based on the decision to dismiss United’s former Real Madrid midfielder, at least eight players from the melee should have followed the Brazilian into the dressing room.

Harry Kane (Tottenham)

What an achievement. To score a record 267 goals for your club and 200 Premier League goals in a career is quite special. To take the record from Jimmy Greaves, one of the greatest finishers that ever lived, makes the achievement all the more mesmerising. There is of course, a certain irony attached to Kane’s accomplishment, as his record goal was scored against Manchester City, a side he almost joined. Had he done so, he wouldn’t have achieved the historic feat, but he would almost certainly have one hand on a Premier League title and eyeing a Champions League trophy. I suppose that’s the price you pay when you pursue records and not trophies.

Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton)

Mitoma was desperately unlucky not to make my team of the week after his performance at the Amex Stadium against Liverpool. However, I was determined to find a place for him after his performance against a Bournemouth side that might have got something out of the game had it not been for his brilliance. The Japan international is the most exciting player I have seen in a Brighton shirt since a young Peter Ward burst onto the scene in the 1970s – he also had the knack of scoring wonderfully-crafted goals. Brighton are playing some fabulous football at the moment and currently sit sixth in the table. I’m surprised they are not suffering from vertigo.

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The Crooks of the Matter

Another transfer deadline came and went, but this time with a record £815m spent in January on players who have either just burst onto the scene or we know little or nothing about. Chelsea, meanwhile, seem determined to start where their previous owner Roman Abramovich left off, buying almost any player that becomes available and at any price.

In January, new owner Todd Boehly spent almost £330m – with their most expensive signing costing a British record £107m (121m euros) after just half a season playing in Europe at Benfica. Spending such eye-watering amounts requires clever accounting in order to comply with Uefa’s financial fair play rules.

Nevertheless, this sort of reckless purchasing power not only artificially inflates the cost of players, but prices competing clubs out of the transfer market. This might be business as usual for Chelsea, but I’m not entirely sure it’s playing the game.

Pick your XI from our list and share with your friends.

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