Christmas past comes back to haunt Rodgers

The Herald:

“I've learned tons off Brendan and I'll admit I've stolen a few things off him as well,” said Steven Gerrard. The Aston Villa manager was, of course, referring to the Northern Irishman's style of man management which he experienced when the pair were together at Liverpool but it's probably fair to say that after his side's first half performance they nicked three points yesterday. The shot count at half-time read eight-five in Leicester's favour, and all of the possession stats belonged to the visitors, too, after a half in which Brendan Rodgers's side should really have had more to show for their efforts than a Harvey Barnes goal that was cancelled out by Ezri Konsa's equaliser.

Rodgers' and Gerrard's paths only crossed twice when they were in charge of Celtic and Rangers respectively. Each man left those derbies with a victory apiece in games their sides thoroughly deserved to win. Each half in this fixture was like a microcosm of those two Old Firm games – for Leicester read Celtic's dominant 1-0 win over Rangers in, for Villa read Rangers one-sided victory by the same scoreline a few months later.

Rodgers' 100% win record at Villa Park came to an end yesterday as his side continued their habit of turning in Jekyll and Hyde performances in each half. They didn't come out for the second and Villa took advantage. Another face from Rodgers' SPFL past also came back to haunt him as John McGinn delivered another man of the match display and a superb corner to the back post which Konsa headed in for the winner.

It was a day for new managers getting a tune out of previously vilified fodder

The Herald:

At Old Trafford, Ralf Rangnick's first game in charge of Manchester United was an energetic but frustrating affair with Crystal Palace set up in a manner to stifle the hosts. They looked like securing a point before Fred, so often the target of supporters – and, let's be honest Cristiano Ronaldo's – ire during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign provided the winning goal with a fine strike from distance to secure the three points. Meanwhile, at the Tottenham Stadium, defenders Ben Davies and Davinson Sanchez, two players who have been given similarly unsympathetic treatment by supporters made major contributions (Davies set up two goals and Sanchez scored) in another Premier League victory – their third in a row – for Antonio Conte, who has lifted Tottenham to the fringes of the top four since his arrival at the start of last month.

Rangnick, a place behind in fifth, will be hoping he can extract similar output from his lesser lights as they seek to join Tottenham and Arsenal in a race for what is likely to be one remaining Champions League berth.

Coady puts his body on the line

The Herald:

Molineux witnessed one of the great Liverpool misses of all time on Saturday. Yes, it was up there with Ronny Rosenthal's infamous bar rattler from six yards after rounding Nigel Spink against Aston Villa in 1992. The circumstances were not dissimilar after Jota had robbed Wolves keeper Jose Sa way out on the right touchline.

The Portugal forward, playing against his former side, hared towards the Liverpool goal where Conor Coady and Max Kilman had formed a two-man barrier on the goalline. In truth, that obstacle looked about as secure as a Wendy house in a hurricane as Jota was left with what seemed to be the relatively straightforward task of rolling the ball past the pair into the net but instead he found Coady's nether regions.

Wolves continued to defend frantically and appeared set for a hard-earned, doggedly-secured point when Jota's blushes were spared by Divock Origi. Surely Conor Coady's private parts did not deserve to die for that?

The lesson Bernardo Silva provides to coaches everywhere

The Herald:

It's hard to believe that City were contemplating allowing the Portuguese playmaker to depart this summer, such has been his form this season. His mastery of the ball is complete and there is not a player in the league playing at a higher level than him.

His technique bears witness to the coaching he received at Benfica as a kid. One story from Silva's past reveals much about the differences of coaching practices in certain countries. It will come as little surprise to learn that the 5ft 8ins Silva was small for his age.

At 15, he struggled in his own grade but when coaches would ask him about certain passes or passages of play, they discovered a football brain faster than his contemporaries. Where Silva was failing was in the physical side of the game so the coaches at Benfica placed him in a younger age group and suddenly he flourished.

In plenty of other countries – including our own – eyebrows would be raised at such a suggestion.

Hasenhuttl was wrong to call out his goalkeeper

The Herald:

There are times when breaking down the anatomy of a goal can be a beautiful, rewarding experience. There are others when it reveals a series of calamities that leave players and managers pointing their fingers at each other.

Take the manner in which Southampton conceded a late equaliser against Brighton at St Mary's. Alex McCarthy, the Saints goalkeeper, had stopped taking kick outs due to a hamstring tweak sustained in the second half. Nevertheless, as Southampton appeared to be edging towards the three points, they conceded a late free-kick. Cue confusion in the home defence.

Kyle Walker-Peters went back on to the line to offer further protection for McCarthy but was waved away by the keeper, then James Ward-Prowse took it upon himself to do the job. But Jakub Moder's free-kick hit the wall, bounced back to him and as Ward-Prowse charged out he played Brighton forward Neil Maupay well onside and the Frenchman made no mistake for a 98th-minute goal that salvaged a point. Afterwards, Ralph Hasenhuttl, the Southampton manager, blamed McCarthy.

"Alex must be definitely more professional than that," he said. "Today I had one change [left] and I couldn't take it because he didn't say anything and this, for me, is not acceptable."

But surely all Hasenhuttl – the manager of the team - had to do was ask why his No.1 wasn't taking goal kicks for the last half hour of the game.