With both English clubs in need of a Toca's Miracle away at Bayern Munich and Barcelona this week, Daniel Storey picks ten comebacks from Champions League history to inspire them¿
Arsenal's frenetic start in the first leg had Bayern rattled before Wojciech Szczesny's sending-off. Playing with the same creativity and fearless streak would engender real belief...
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Jose Mourinho: Manager, Man, Humanitarian
"It's what he wants. It's what he asked us to accept. Chelsea Football Club is proud to act this way, in an open way, in a human way."
Oh look, I vomited on my sock.
Kevin Walsh, Luimneach
Well Played Jose, Well Played
It's all a conspiracy, I'm telling you.
Beginning of this season Jose lost out on the top job at Man Utd.
Fergie was clearly keen on bring him on as the successor, but the United board and of course, Bobby Charlton disagreed.
So, they end up taking in David MoreYears, and Jose Mourinho shed some tears.
From then onwards Jose was secretly drawing up this masterplan.
He KNEW without Alex Ferguson, Man Utd's performances would definitely turn into manure (no pun intended).
He knows Mata was Chelsea's BEST player. (Who doesn't already know this for a fact? Do you guys seriously think Jose is really so dumb and ignorant to NOT realise this?)
Now he waits patiently for MoreYears to be sacked, but before that, cunningly go to great length to make Mata look like a complete useless fool rotting at Chelsea.
Now he successfully ships Mata out (the most promising midfielder in the leauge) to one of their biggest rival - Man Utd - all these without any objection whatsoever from the Chelsea board, including Red Rom.
And from here onwards, this is what's going to happen:
End of season, Man Utd finish trophy-less, MoreYears get sacked.
Chelsea departs with Jose Mourinho by either...
1) Chelsea winning the Premier or Champions League and therefore...."I've achieved whatever I could achieve at Chelsea, it's time for me to leave."
2) Or Jose getting sacked by Roman for not winning anything at all.
Immediately Fergie comes in for Jose: "My friend, it's time for you to take charge of Man United."
The new season begins and on the first day of training at Man Utd, Jose and Mata walk up to each other and whisper, "See I told you this would work out!"
"Well played Jose, well played."
G.F.N. Arsenal fan, Singapore (I see what you did there Jose.)
I have a question for United fans to ponder over the weekend while the rest of us watch our teams play football in the fantastic FA Cup (emphasis added).
Are you happy with Mata or would you prefer, for the same £37m, Cabaye and Salah?
One is a world-class player, but the other two fill arguably bigger holes in the squad.
Tom (Southampton, it's only a Mata of time till I get published)
Nothing Wrong With That Squad
'Fergie left behind a sh*te squad' appears to have become universally accepted as truth, both from the ABUs and from United fans.
United won the league twice and lost it/threw it away on goal difference once in the last three years. Either side of a group stage knock-out we made the final and the quarter-finals of the Champions League, deservedly beaten by a Barcelona side with that year's Ballon D'or winner scoring once, and undeservedly losing to a Madrid side with that year's Ballon D'or winner scoring twice.
The only key changes of personnel in this time were; Dimitar Berbatov being replaced by RVP and Van Der Sar replaced by David De Gea.
Experienced Premier League and international players Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia were purchased, with the latter going on to be United's player of the season in 2012. Young defensive enforcements Phil Jones (£18m, England international) and Chris Smalling (£10m, England international) came in, along with the emergence of academy players Tom Cleverley (England international) and Danny Welbeck (England international).
The only player (who could have been considered to be in first team) to have left is Paul Scholes who over the three years made 22, 17, and 16 appearances in the league scoring once, four times and once respectively.
So a squad, which to re-assemble could cost north of £250m, used to playing and winning a certain way - are all of a sudden useless when made to play 4-2-2-1-1.
Simon (Cleverley in holding midfield was f*cking idiotic) MUFC
The Moyes Philosophy
I'd like to reply to Chaitanya re his mail about David Moyes' lack of philosophy. He has a very clear philosophy as demonstrated quite clearly in the match against Sunderland, snatch a goal from a set-piece or cross, then spend the rest of the game defending for your life since you are so delighted and amazed to have scored a goal.
No but seriously, I think we have to wait till the end of the season to see how we have done, I sing for and support Moyes when at matches, I would like nothing more than for Moyes to be successful, but I have to agree with Mr Cromwell from this morning's mailbox. Could those who suggest he needs 'time' give one reason they think he will be successful or give one positive to his management so at United, rather than give excuses? He must have been in charge for 40-odd football matches and has coaxed maybe two good performances.
...On United's identity, yes, it does have one. Football taught by Matt Busby, promoting youth from within the club, never die etc. It's one of the principal reasons why Moyes should worry United fans. Even if Fergie scarcely played Football Taught by Matt Busby after 2008/2009 (and moved towards a more possession-oriented style after the Madrid defeat in 2000), his best sides have always been attacking. Their default instinct was pro-active: to attack, to score, and to take the game to the opposition. Moyes is, by contrast, fundamentally reactive. Even if all teams apart from Barca can be reactive when required, no elite club sets up reactively and defensively against mid-table teams and experiences success. It encourages the opposition, discourages your own players (and Moyes has certainly sucked the confidence from United), and prompts the sort of results seen at OT this season. Moyes might play obdurate football, but it isn't resilience of the sort that turns 0-3 into 5-3, that scores twice in injury time to win the CL (and bring Clyde Tyldelsey to rapturous ecstacy), and visibly enfeebles the opposition. Rather, it's the cussed, desperate Dunkirk obduracy of a natural and instinctive defender.
And on the promotion of youth, apart from Januzaj, Moyes has instinctively turned to mediocre older players rather than give youth a go. No Powell, Zaha, Fabio or Lingard, but lots of Young, Valencia, and Cleverley.
I wonder how Moyes will feel on Tuesday knowing his likely successors are either managing the opposition (Ole), or in his coaching team (Giggs)? Hopefully moved to tender his resignation.
Moyes Has Conducted Himself Well
If you will Sirs, some points on the season and the morning's mailbox...
First off, what a season. With all the changes in the summer we expected a fascinating season but Gordon Bennett! We've ended up with the most competitive league season I've seen anywhere in a long time and it's really great fun.
Secondly, D Cromwell, you make some valid points but I'd suggest a better question to pose would be 'How many of Man Utd's squad would get in to the Chelsea team this season?' Taking fitness and games played in to account, the answer to that might explain why one team is so far behind the other.
Lastly, on the case of Manchester United this season and David Moyes. So much has been said and a lot of it is certainly on point. However, I reckon it's probably been a perfect storm of chickens coming home to sh*te. Everything seems to have happened this season - injuries, a decent-but-not-great squad showing true, staff changes, other teams strengthening etc.
What I will say is that David Moyes has held himself very well throughout. He may have made some poor choices and definitely deserves some blame. But considering the pressure he must be under, I think he's kept a great deal of calmness and control throughout.
Folks, enjoy your weekend and let's enjoy an equally fascinating second half to the season.
Doug, KFC, Glasgow
Kagawa: Not All That
Am I living in a parallel universe? Or is it in fact true kKgawa was not last season's player of the year?
Judging by the mailbox I've been in a coma and Fergie had him making Ronaldo look like my beloved Mackem slayer Mr. Ameobi.
The criticism of Moyes is now incredibly dull and for most parts uncalled for. United fans are making scousers look like they all have degrees. Grow up and back your team.
Paul (if United finish fourth it will most definitely not be in spite of Moyes. Put your dummy back in) NUFC
If there is one thing that is doing my head in this season, it's the constant use of the word 'transition'. Seemingly almost every club is in 'transition'. When is a club not actually in 'transition'? Please make it stop!!
Russell, Aldershot Town, Guildford
Missing Out On Salah Is Sensi-ball
I wanted to remind Jay (I had to look up the ascii code for the £ symbol) LFC Sydney Aus that the transfer window does not close for another week.
Also, (not to start this up again but) the concept behind Moneyball is identifying undervalued player attributes, in baseball it was drawing walks and compensating for deficiencies in a statistical convention which was about 100 years old. This allowed clubs to look for players whose market value was relatively depressed for the contribution they would make overall to the club (largely because the scouting system was run by and for a network of crotchety old boys).
No disrespect intended to the Swiss Super League but an £11m valuation is steep and it is a huge jump to playing in the Premier League week to week. I am aware he scored against Chelsea in the Europa semis and that cracker that went to penalties against Spurs, there are excellent reasons he highly rated, but still...
This isn't Moneyball, it's rather 'Sensiball' (ug, sorry) policy as there are higher priority positions Liverpool need to address: anywhere in defense and a gift basket, 'I'm sorry' card and delivery charges to a certain Spanish resident of Naples spring to mind. I wouldn't mind some proper cover up front as well. Watching a certain Purple Nosed Scot over the years I've drawn the conclusion that you can never have too many goals in your squad, particularly when your defense is the inspiration for the upcoming Disney-Pixar film 'The Diabolical We' (3D & IMax in Summer 2017).
So if Jay wants us to reach the Champions League, splashing out on a 20-year-old winger who's still not the finished article should hardly be in his equation. It's that kind of math that got us Moneyball in the first place. Though I enjoy when foreign fans slate foreign owners, I believe his ire is misguided considering everything John Henry and FSG did to rescue Liverpool from disaster (brought on by a Texan, not the same as a Yank, see, I'm no better).
Ian, LFC (one of the Mailboxers who freaked out when someone called Luis Suarez by his initials and number, still winds me up) Hartford, CT USA
This Liverpool For Seventh
So now that's Lucas, Johnson and Enrique all likely to play no part in the rest of the season. Sakho and Flanagan still out with lingering hamstring injuries. Agger perma-crocked again. Of 19 first-team squad members actually able to hobble onto a pitch, four have yet to play a single minute of league football, two are completely untested defenders and another is Aly Cissokho. The only four senior defenders available are Kelly, Skrtel, Toure and the aforementioned disaster zone. We have a total of three central midfielders of any description. The only place we are relatively comfortable is in attack where we have seven players for 3-4 positions (which is of course why we've spent three weeks trying to sign another one).
We have a tough fixture away at a Championship club tomorrow and we ALWAYS struggle away to lower-league opposition. We can't really rest anyone in defence or midfield so getting through the game without any further injuries is more important than the result at this stage (prediction: neither). Then it's just a case of getting a jaded and already stretched to breaking point squad ready for the most pivotal derby in recent memory.
In the longer term we currently have: Two RBs, one with about an hour of play behind him in the last two years; three CBs, of which the best is incredibly injury prone and the other two can't play together; just the one LB, who is as bad as we've had since Disco Traore; further up the choice of playing a trio of Henderson, Allen and Gerrard for 90 minutes for every remaining game this season or, more likely, relying on the barely-there 4-4-2 on display against Villa; in attack Suarez, Sturridge, Coutinho and Sterling are decent but only Aspas, Moses and Alberto as back-up looks a little short.
Four of this so-called first team (Sakho, Coutinho, Sturridge, Allen) have each spent at least eight weeks out injured already this season so the hopes of nursing them through another 16 games are slim. Gerrard is not actually injured, just playing like he is.
Balls on the line time, without at least two first-team-ready additions in January, forget finishing above all of Spurs, Everton and Utd, we will not finish above *any* of them. There is no building for next season with a near miss, we will only get weaker in summer if we miss out so it's this year or bust. So given we have got ourselves into a great position in the first half of the season, why are we jeopardising it all over half a f**king million here and there? At this stage it's literally a no win, no fee gamble - pay the going rate for the players we need to get us into the CL and if for whatever reason we don't make it, we will have £70m+ coming in from the inevitable Suarez sale so it can just be offset against that.
I can't fault FSG's running of the club thus far but while their words are all about making Liverpool elite again this month's actions, so far at least, are telling a very different story.
Lord knows I'm miserable this morning. You all have a wonderful weekend, 365ers.
Jon Gibson, LFC
Not sure if there has been a topic on irrational hatred of players/managers, but I cannot stand Tim Sherwood. There is no reason for this, I support Preston, I have no dislike Spurs, I live in The Wales, I have kids and a mortgage and should spend my time worrying about less trivial matters. The thumbnail picture you are currently using for the article on Timmy makes me sick.