He is one of a number of solid shouts for players that look old before their time. We also have the final words on lovely D-Beck and a rejection of end of season playoffs...
That's one opinion, but others give their thanks to the man. We also have ideas for a relegation playoff, happy memories of the season and a defence of Liverpool's campaign...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
That performance had been coming for a while now. We'd seen a few flashes of the old Jack here and there but tonight against a determined well organised Swansea Jack showed us some of that class that made him the next Great White Hope for England before his injury.
He bossed the game and more importantly he bossed the team, urging the rest to push up, close down and fight for the ball. And they listened to him. He's a future captain, that much is clear, and he leads by example with hard tackles, subtle drops of the shoulder and surging runs that seem to come out of nowhere. The goal was the icing on the cake but best of all you feel there's more to come. The odd pass is still going astray and not every flick and turn is coming off yet. A few more games and he'll be flying.
So amongst all the doom and gloom, the gnashing of teeth and the never ending calls for change it's so nice to see a player of real ability shine. Jack is back and like most great players, he makes you wonder why they all don't just play like that. It looks so easy.
Just a few thoughts on the Arsenal Swansea game last night from an Arsenal perspective.
-There would have been uproar if we had lost tonight. Off the pace in the league, out of the League Cup to Bradford and a daunting tie with Bayern to come. The FA Cup really is the only chance of silverware this season, so it was vital that we progressed.
- Enjoyable game in the end. There was always likely to be a little apprehension from the home perspective as Swansea had the edge on us before tonight's game, having not lost in our last three encounters, winning two. As they game grew however, we began to dominate and after the break we really put Swansea under pressure and should have won by a much bigger margin.
- Although scoring goals generally hasn't been an issue this season, it is a little worrying that in the games that we have scored highly in, we have also conceded in great quantities. The games against Reading (x2), Spurs and Newcastle are testament to the fact that in order to score goals we have to make ourselves unbelievably open. Sometimes this is natural as when you attack in greater numbers as you are more likely to concede space, but the fact we are not dominating these games is a little alarming. It seems as though we are incapable of winning games by comfortable margins, and keeping a clean sheet. We actually nearly managed this feat tonight, but were far too profligate in front of goal.
- Despite this lack of ruthlessness, it was nice to see us create the chances. Too often we have lacked ideas and penetration, especially at home, so it was good to see us create some key chances, albeit without putting them away.
- Other than for a few scary moments in the first half, the defence actually played pretty well tonight. Perhaps due to the fact we were so dominate in midfield in the second half, I, for once, did not feel like we were going to concede at all. A very rare thing indeed.
- Kieran Gibbs remains a worry. A lot of promise but he is crying out for a leader at the back to tell him what to do. Positionally, Gibbs is woeful. So often he is either ball watching, trying to play the offside when no one else is (or vice versa) or just caught up the pitch trying to attack. Tony Adams or Sol Campbell would have been 'drawing Kieran's attention to this' every time and he would have soon learnt. Unfortunately, it would seem that Tommy V, Laurent and Per aren't as vocal.
- I like Giroud, I think he gives us something different and something we haven't had in a long time. However, how slow was he last night at getting his head up and passing it on? It took him an age to do anything and often sucked the life out of attacks. We used to play a slick, high tempo pass and move game that has since dissipated over recent years.
- Wilshere is the total opposite to this and boy was he good last night. Fantastic throughout the night and easily the best player on the pitch. How anyone can compare Cleverly to Wilshere is beyond me. I like Cleverly but Wilshere is comfortably ahead of him and probably always will be. Wilshere takes the ball, gets his head up and either passes and moves at speed, or drives on into space with conviction. Olivier and a few of the other players should follow his example. So often it seems like the rest of the team are in a training match, just swaggering around the pitch at normal pace, as though they don't need tempo, urgency or intensity to beat the opposition as their pure talent will do it alone.
- I really rate Coquelin. He should certainly get more opportunities than he does. I love Arteta but the guy clearly needs a break everyone once in a while. Ramsey is normally favoured above Coquelin despite being a bit hit and miss most of the time.
- Although not an issue last night, I really can't help but feel that many of our problems come down to the fact that we are so predictable to play against. This is not just in terms of footballing style, but also many other things. We make the same substitutes every single game, it's just the personnel who alter. We never change our formation or throw on an extra forward or midfield player but stick to what we have. Often, it's the wingers who get replaced and I feel we are just too predictable. Why not change the system from time to time?
Rickie Lambert For England
I wrote in last season around this time extolling the virtues of one Sir Rickie of Lambertshire as he was ripping up the Championship. I argued that if you watched him play then there is no doubt that he is good enough for the Premier League, and in my humble opinion, the International stage. I felt it would be prudent to at least give him a go in a friendly to see what he could do for the England team. I hope more people are now taking notice.
The man is a brilliant footballer, not just the proverbial 'big lump'. As a former attacking midfielder his deft touch and passing ability goes unheralded as he beasts Centre Backs (just watch him against Rio and Vidic in United's 3-2 win at St Mary's as an example of this kind of beasting) out of the game.
He is now the top scoring Englishman in the Premier League. Yes, he is in his 30's and will be 32 at next year's World Cup, but for a striker who's only missing attribute is pace his age won't matter.
So I am putting out a plea to the Roy, Gary and The FA. Give the man a chance.
Oh, and Luke Shaw is rather good.
Simon (I could also put the case forward for Schneiderlin, Puncheon and Cork, but I think that's enough) Goddard, SFC
I want to make an apology to Nani. I concede I am not quite at Gary Neville's level of honest punditry and I can quickly turn on a player who is as infuriatingly inconsistent and nonchalant as our remaining Portuguese wing wizard. But my god it is refreshing to have a player out wide who can beat a man! Who will even try an ambitious shot at the end of it! Yeah he is out of form and fitness - but welcome back. Hopefully that'l mean some bench for Valencia - contender for worst performer this season? Who has done else could have (or does) contribute so little, when so many goals are being created and scored?
Also a note on Anderson...I love the dude. Only CM we have who can drive through the middle of the park. Its been a while since he sh#t on fabregas....but im always pleased when he's in the team anyway.
Now everyones back fit, im looking forward to a Cleverley - Anderson - kagawa axis of dominance and destruction. Bit optimistic?
Some Old Trafford House Rules
As an Old Trafford regular, I feel its time to address a few concerns and agree some house rules:
• Rooney should only take a penalty if he's the 11th man in a shoot-out
• Our wingers should be locked in a room with Roy Keane and told some home truths
• Hernandez should be wired up and blasted with electric shock therapy every time he strays offside
• Anyone shouting for Anderson to 'SHOOT' should be forcefully removed from the stadium
• Welbeck should apologise to the opposition rather than display a cock-sure pose when he scores because its obviously a fluke
• Given that Forlan and Possebon have had songs in recent years, surely its time Michael Carrick was bestowed the same honour
• Anyone found leaving with more than 10mins left should be caught and restrained in the concourse until well after full time
• Every Ryan Giggs turn, pass and tackle should be greeted with rapturous applause
• 'And Leeds' should be dropped from the 'Pride of Europe' song, they are a run-of-the-mill Division 2 side not worth our time
That's all, I'm sure there's more but these are particular bug-bearers of mine.
Paul - Manchester
On The Booing At The Bridge
OK - I hate the booing at Chelsea. It just doesn't feel right. I can even see how it contributed to a sluggish start. I can see how it really didn't help when we had 10 minutes to score a winner. What I can't see is how on earth it is supposed to be the fans fault when we are 2 nil up and start playing more slowly and letting them back in. I can't see how it is the fans fault that the manager watches us play badly and changes nothing whilst they get 1 goal back and then simply carries on watching and doing nothing whilst everyone watches them score what seemed to us all like an inevitable equalizer.
I didn't want Benitez at Chelsea. I don't however hate him for things he said 7 years ago but I am starting to hate him for not operating a plan B. Can anyone honestly tell me that putting Ivanovich on and pushing Luiz into mid field at 60 minutes wouldn't have (a) secured us 3 points and (b) been obvious to any Championship manager?
Benitez Is Doomed At Stamford Bridge
My previous letter to the mailbox got me thinking and I'd like to share because nobody in my office gives two sh*ts about football.
Benitez will be hated at Chelsea whatever he does. He hasn't done himself any favors in losing the club world cup final, failing to get back into the title race, securing a league cup final or getting knocked out of the champions leaugue group stages, although granted he has zero blame for that last one.
So what's left? Glad you asked.
He could still turn it around in the second leg of the league cup semi final? Very unlikely with a two goal lead for the Swans who deserve a trophy for Michu's hair alone.
He could win the FA Cup? Big deal. Hiddink and Di Matteo did that in half a season.
He could win the Europa league? From champions of Europe to champions of Europa?
He could get 2nd/3rd/4th in the league? That's the minimum of expectations and hardly an achievement (Sorry Gooners)
The guy's doomed whatever he does. At least at Stamford Bridge.
Jad H, CFC.
Mourinho To Return?
With all the manager speculation in the mailbox at the moment i cant be the only one thinking Mourinho wont be going to Man City or Man U but back to Chelsea?
Pep said no to Roman last summer (hence why it took so long to renew di matteo's contract) but Rafa is still obviously referd to as the interim manager until the summer when lo an behold Jose Mourinho is available to restore his first love in English football to the top and cement his legacy at a club for once.
Fan Mail For Thayden
Kel, MUFC (anyone cringed for poor Stuart?)
...Please please please do not put all Arsenal fans in the same bracket!!! I for one think the red was correctly rescinded, but I don't blame Dean for that decision. When Kompany first went for the challenge, he had both feet off the floor, but then as he actually tackled he was one footed and sliding, winning the ball then clattering into the player as a result of momentum in an excellent tackle.
Of course this is after seeing it in replays and slo-mo etc, but the ref doesn't get that time, by the time he has seen and processed the beginning bit, the tackle is over.
In short, it's a classic example of why you are allowed to appeal straight red cards.
Tom 'Gooner' Berry
...Thayden, Arsenal players have accounted for something like 50% of the broken legs suffered in the entire Premier league in the last decade (can't be bothered to google it). Jack Wilshere was fouled the most any player has been fouled in a game this season, during Sundays match. The tabloid press still report Arsenal as being a technical side that you can only stop with strong tackling, every single game.
Do you think that points two and three could relate to point one?
Still... (sigh...) your testosterone flows mightily through your pointy, pointy words - good shout that this persons opinion must be that of a child, or worse, a lady. Really the worst kinds of opinions there are.
However, and now to the point of my email - don't let this world be robbed of your glowing genes. Please don't let these fools, those that carry opinions, thoughts or views that are not Thayden Brand opinions, thoughts or views - full fat, and salty - hang so heavily on your man shoulders. Cast them off, I say, throw them to one side and be done with the weak and piteous. How barren a future it would be without your proudly screaming, blood vessel bulging skull, threatening parents and volunteer officials alike in their foolishness at not seeing the ultimate, near religious wisdom of your touchline cries for your 8 year old child to break his legs. In a kids knock-about game. On a Sunday morning. That's meant to inspire teamwork, and encourage fitness.
You must breed. You must. The gene-pool needs you, what would we all be doing without you now, let alone in the future, when there are even more people, having even more opinions, without any fanatic to tell them which are right and wrong.
Won't somebody think of the children.
AL - (Norovirus was only recent? Really? I mean, I've read your previous letters...?) Bournemouth