Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Everton - every potential top four challenger seems to be dealing in one step forward, two more back. Can anyone rise above these false dawns?
The boys try and take a look at Alan Irvine's appearances on TV but keep dropping off. Never before has a man been too dull to even use cliches. It's not good...
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Big Talk On Rooney/RvP
Just a comment on Vincentius, Cambridge, who claims that Man Utd have two world class strikers, and Liverpool would be glad to have one.
I hate to break it to you, Vincentius, but neither Rooney or Van Persie would get into Liverpool's first team! Was your point that Man Utd have players who are vastly over-hyped? In fact, looking at the two teams that started the opening fixture, the only Man Utd player who would oust one of Liverpool's is De Gea. It's one of the reasons all this talk of the title during the summer was so bizarre; only one or two of their players would get into any of last years top four.
Greg (As for the other names you mentioned as 'World Class(TM)'... Hang on, I've bitten, haven't I?) Taunton
Happy Arteta's Out
Praise be to Zeus that Arteta is out for a couple of weeks. I don't care what Arteta's passing percentage is, when Flamini is in the side -- even with his obligatory yellow card -- Arsenal are better. We have plenty of creativity. We need Flamini's grit. The only reason Mikel gets in ahead of Mathieu is Arsene's thing for pretty playing midfielders. I smell clean sheets until Arteta returns.
Brad, Canadian Gooner
Smart Move To Get Rid Of Nani
I've heard a lot of fellow United fans slating Woodward over allowing Nani to go on loan back to sporting as part of the Rojo deal, saying that it's madness that we're supposedly paying 100% of his wages. Now while I think Woodward is an absolute clown, paying all of Nani's wages actually makes sense, if indeed it is true that sporting only own a small percentage of Nani. This way we are essentially paying an extra £4.6m for Rojo (Nani's wages) but sporting don't have to pay a percentage of this to his previous clubs or any sports agency's who are entitled to a percentage of his transfer fee. A very clever way of circumventing Rojo's ownership issues and transfer clauses and therefore helping to push through the transfer. Think about it.
Rojo Is A Better Signing Than Hummels
All this fuss about Rojo not being the right player for United is baffling.
Despite being linked with everyone whose anyone in football at the moment, Van Gaal has been clever in identifying a player who will be a better signing that an established player like say Hummels.
Man Utd aren't in deep trouble as the media would have you believe, but they are in need of tough, resilient players who WANT to play for the club. Players who will roll up their sleeves and perform when others are not. Watching United last year did Vidic really look like he wanted to be at the club, at times it was embarrassing how little effort he and others put in and the lack of respect that was shown.
And that's one of the reasons why for example Hummels is not the answer (incoming -wild and unfounded assumptions to support my claim). Whilst I agree he is one of the classiest defenders on the planet (a fact not an assumption) and would improve any side in the world, he will come to the club with preconceived perceptions (the assumptions) about how a top club is run. His experience with Dortmund and Germany more recently will mean he may not be agreeable to everything Van Gaal is trying to employ and less willing to fully accept the philosophy.
This is where Rojo comes in. Hes a player whose form and confidence is on the upward swing after what I thought to be a very impressive world cup. Hes young and hungry, willing to learn and desperate to play for the club. The way he forced through a move to the club should be frowned upon by the neutral, however United fans should be happy that he was willing to do whatever it takes get to the club. Rojo is still a raw talent with ability if not the consistency. He will be accepting in Van Gaals advice as his willingness to learn and desire to play has come across in his quotes about his move. He's also the right character for United AT THIS TIME. Aggressive, hardworking and a never give up attitude that was on display at the world cup, this is exactly the 'type' of player desperately required at Man United.
My last point is that Man United also very rarely sign a 'world class' player. Van Persie is the most recent exception that comes to mind, but by world class I mean within top 10 players in world, Ibra, Iniesta, Messi, Bale, Ronaldo etc etc. In the past they have signed players on the upward swing (granted for a lot of money) and developed them further, see Ronaldo, Rio, Evra, Vidic B.M. (Before Moyes), Van Nistelrooy, Rooney, Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Cantona. I could go on.
To summarize, player character, desire and hunger are what is required for a tough champions league place fight meaning Rojo 'The Red Warrior' will be a very astute signing.
Also, he got rid of Nani.
TJ (For the same reasons Nigel De Jong is required more than Angel Di Maria)
Can I just point out to Parmjeet that Nani didn't carry Manchester United to the 2009-10 title like he claims? The simple knowledge that Chelsea won that year helped me arrive at this conclusion.
Parmjeet also mentions that Nani 'stepped up' after Ronaldo left well if by stepped up you mean 'playing well in the charity shield' then yes. Admittedly he did improve in the second half of the season after having a go at Fergie in public but that by no means constitutes stepping up in Ronaldo's absence, reinforced by the fact that with Ronaldo gone, Manchester united failed to match Lampard's goals from midfield after 4 years, handing the title back to Chelsea in the process.
...One quote from Joe Paterno/Lou Holtz (American Football coaches who both claim to have coined it) rings true to me re: Chelsea, City and Utd: "You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you're never as bad as they say when you lose."
It's just the opening week. Everyone take a breath...
Also re: Parmjeet Dayal's first paragraph. If ever there was a nailed-on reason to ban someone from future postings in the esteemed Mailbox, this is it. Please, never again.
Matt, Los Angeles via Liverpool
Praise For Giroud
Seeing the mailbox lurch from one extreme to another on the subject of Giroud, I feel compelled to send my first ever contribution to the mailbox to take a closer look at him. Curses to all of you if this gets published.
Our man Olivier has such a unique set of strengths and weaknesses that Arsene will be presented with quite a headache if he is to be replaced.
The weaknesses first. Even at his best, Giroud lacks pace, reliable finishing ability and dribbling. Using him up top removes the option of through balls to the striker (we need Walcott and now Sanchez for that), or crosses from the wings (giroud often gets outmuscled). Giroud more often than not needs the easy finish to score - I can't think of any other striker in top level football who is so weak in the traditional striker qualities.
However, Giroud is world class in two respects. One is his ability to win the long ball, providing arsenal with a useful out when the midfield is under pressure. The other is what is generally referred to as his "link up play". Essentially Giroud can produce magnificent first touches, although he often struggles when he has to take two or three touches. This means he is often a crucial passer in quick, intricate attacks, something arsenal often look to do, but at the same time is poor in positions where he has space and time, such as a one on one with the keeper.
So, we are relying on a striker whose primary abilities are not striking, but holding it up and passing. The crucial question is - are we in this ridiculous position because of a lack of top quality attainable strikers out there, or arsene's own love-in with producing his own version of barcelona? I can't say I know the answer to that question, but remove giroud from the equation and our ability to get the most intricate and watchable moves out of our attacking mids would likely be affected.
Add to that the fact that Giroud is loyal and hardworking, something we valued a lot when RVP left, and it becomes hard to dislike the HFB too much, despite his shortcomings.
Of course, with a mercenary conventional striker we would probably score more goals and win more games.
Uday (Arsene please please buy a centre back) Gooner, Mumbai
Can English fans stop building up and then tearing down players please?
Calum Chambers looks promising and deserves to keep his place against Everton at the weekend but he will have a drop in form at some point- like all players who are young and learning their trade shock horror- so stop turning him into the next Bobby Moore but equally don't make him out to be the next Zat Knight when he makes an inevitable mistake in the coming weeks. Enjoy him for what he is- a young player, in form, with a lot of talent
United To Struggle
Was that email from Vincentius the most misguided and rose tinted view of the world?
Quoting what happened two years ago before 5 key ayers left or retired (Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs and Scholes) and a fully fit van Persie as indication of performance today, alone, is wrong. Indicating that United is 'full' of seasoned internationals (including a player who has not yet signed) versus Liverpool ( who have a complement of new, inspiring internationals) instead of comparing to Chelsea and City who have considerably greater resources, misses the while point.
Those seasoned internationals are either extremely off form or past their sell by date. The defence is full of unseasoned PL players let alone internationals and the team as a whole completely underwhelmed in the first PL game after the 'friendlies'.
Even van Gaal admits it is going to be a long hard slog even though he is being lauded as the new messiah. He is not able to perform miracles and the feet on the pitch are the only ones who can win the games.
Utd lack pace and guile and several key players. Granted this does not mean they will die, but it does mean this talk of winning the PL is greatly over hyping van Gaal's abilities. If you are going to compare to Liverpool, recognize it took a couple of seasons under Rodgers and that Suarez was there for both. It doesn't happen overnight