Moyes is lacking 'charismatic authority', Kieran Gibbs is defended, Chelsea's problems are examined and a dreadful chant attacked. It's a glorious mailbox...
Fear is stopping Moyes dismantling Fergie's team, we are told. Plus, one Arsenal fan digs at Gibbs and mails on Martinez, the Group of Death and a Spurs Christmas list...
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United For The Title? Really?
I am bewildered. I can't understand why pretty much every so-called football pundit going is tipping Man United for the league or to go very close.
We talk about clubs losing and acquiring key players and the impact that has on a clubs success but Ferguson's exit has barely been mentioned. This is a man who has, quite frankly, dragged a recently well-below-par Man United team into a mentality that ensures they perform well above the quality they actually have in the team. This is particularly evident in Midfield.
Don't get me wrong. Moyes has done some good things and has had some significant success with Everton, ensuring they also have punched above their weight. But they have also had some horrendous starts to the season. This just wouldn't be tolerated at Man U and with the challenges in their early fixtures quite apparent, they realistically could be in the bottom half of the table five games in.
There is enough doubt here in my mind to suggest that Man U could finish outside the Top four. I do suspect they will be there or there about but with new managers come uncertainty and if I was a player looking at winning trophies next year in the EPL, I wouldn't be looking at moving to Man U quite yet.
Miles D (THFC)
Not Blaming Fergie For Anything
As a United fan I'm going to address a few points from Stu's mail to this morning's mailbox.
First off, anyone who initially wanted Rooney to leave, still wants Rooney to leave, However, no-one wants Rooney to leave if Chelsea is the destination. It would be a monumental gamble and potentially our biggest mistake in the PL era. This is entirely separate from our need for reinforcements.
You are right that Fergie has not moved with the times in the last few years. The man knew his retirement drew near and was no doubt terrified of going out potless with Man City sitting atop their own perch. So he went back to what he knew best ‒ 442, pacey wingers and world-class strikeforce. This wouldn't be enough in Europe but he knew it was enough to win the league, and I was more than happy to indulge the man, the legend, in his final season, after all he'd done for us.
I was happy with our purchase of PL Player of the year and world-class striker Robin van Persie. I was also happy with three Champions League finals in the last six years. I'm delighted that Fergie has left behind a leagu- winning team for our next manager to work with. So no, I wont be blaming Fergie for anything, ever.
Alex Lopez, Cork
...Just read Stu's 'Blame Ferg' email.
Firstly, congratulations on finding yourself nodding in agreement with an article that suggested a recognised world-class striker at his peak age would fit well in a side in the same league currently boasting a West Brom level strikeforce (no offence) of Ba, the ghost of Torres and Lukaku.
But this crap you've invented about Sir Alex, you appear to have forgotten our inept midfield and bizarre proliferation of simplistic wingers cake-walked our way to the league this year, beating you home and away in the process, and were widely recognised to have only failed to advance past Real in the CL QF because the sight of a Michael Jackson impersonator confused the referee. We also made it to three Champions Leagues finals in the last 10 years. You might remember one, and losing to arguably the best club XI in history was no shame in the other two (and with all due respect, you were a Messi penalty from deservedly losing as well).
Last year's success isn't just because of Van Persie either. We scored less goals with him than we did the year before, which you seem to forget we only lost on goal difference because of a freak result against City. I did enjoy your assumption though that Ferguson didn't perhaps look at the midfield and consider that a way to solve it was by buying Van Persie and playing a 4-3-3 to force teams to defend further up rather than buying a midfielder (not saying this is true, just that there may have been reasons why he bought as he did, including for example...) as well as you completely ignoring that Rooney had already handed in his first transfer request and that we needed a replacement and £30m is a lot to most clubs. No it was because we didn't score enough goals apparently and were a bit "miffed".
Then there's this usual myth about midfielders available, regardless of whether they would fit. You name Modric (who if memory serves Chelsea even failed in getting because he wanted to go to Real), Gotze (a German who went to Bayern), Mata (a player you bought for £23m) Dembele (the year we bought Van Persie), Cabaye (who obviously had a great season this year) Fellaini (who we - like everybody else - obviously didn't think he was worth the £23m release clause at that stage) and Thiago (who went with Pepe to Bayern). Sneijder is another one that gets mentioned a lot, but of course he only went to Turkey in search of a fresh challenge rather than sh*t-loads of money. And quite how you can mock the Fabregas bid in the middle of a rant about Ferguson is beyond me.
Finally, the years of service thing really p*sses me off. He was paid for a job he was doing and has been rewarded very well for it. He will still get paid for that job, and he's the one who signed up for another two years. The fact he's contracted into his prime years is the very reason he's getting paid the £250k a week. If he stays ten he gets rewarded with a testimonial, and if doesn't keep throwing his toys out the pram some people might even turn up. As for remembering football careers are short and that he needs to make the most of it, have you seen his trophy cabinet?
The problem with Rooney (who I think is great and would keep regardless) is that he makes his own problems. His fitness is questionable, his form can dip because of it, and his attitude (or at least the advice is getting) has resulted in him isolating a lot fans. Like so many people with heads turned these days, he needs to shut up and concentrate on football.
David P, Manchester
...Oh, Stu. You sure do know how to make a man titter with mild amusement.
Everyone saw Barcelona run the United midfield ragged on that fateful night. United fans and ABUs alike, we all watched on in amazement as potentially the best player of all time and his ragtag band of merry world class footballers hitting their absolute peak in an era of unchallenged dominance knocked the ball around a bewildered opposition, bringing forth the next few years of Carrick bashing by our one-game-watchers worldwide.
Funnily enough, I seem to recall Barcelona doing this more than once. Against Real Madrid. Again Xabi Alonso, Sami Khedira, Pepe, Ozil and whoever else happened to be around. It took years for Jose Mourinho to finally conquer a domestic rival light years ahead of every other team in the world at their best, and even then it was only a fleeting victory. Meanwhile, Ferguson carried on winning the league, purchasing world-class strikers and playing the game with a long-term view.
This is not to say that I totally disagree with you, Stu. It would have been wonderful if Ferguson had purchased a midfielder, instead of putting faith in Anderson, Fletcher and even Owen bloody Hargreaves to regain fitness and show us what they're made of. Luckily though, being the wily old fox he is, Ferguson knew that instant European dominance was not possible without multiple high-price purchases. Even then, such a thing is never guaranteed. Barcelona still have the likes of Messi and Iniesta, while Bayern were at their very best last year. So he made do with as little as possible, bringing in young talent for the future whilst still winning the biggest prize realistically on offer for the next year or two.
And now, within the next three years or so, other top sides will inevitably begin another cycle. Every side goes through periods of form, before having to rebuild again - what Ferguson (and now Moyes) planned to do was wait out players like Xavi and strike as they begin to wane, potentially pushing others into panic-buying or even pulling the trigger on yet another short-term manager. Instead of spending big to catch up as quickly as possible, we are steadily rising as others begin to fall - when the gulf is narrow, it is then we strike. That's some Sun Tzu sh*t right there.
Long term does not mean over the course of a season - it means over the course of five.
Jon, I wonder if the new Barca manager will have trouble attracting talent, Nottingham
...You are a wally. Rooney is a United player (at the moment) and will play where he is told. Same as Jose will play his players where he wants to. They play football for an unbelievable amount of cash and really have no complaints. So wind your neck in.
Why Does Rooney Owe You Loyalty?
To narrow it a bit more, those fans still concerned about Rooney leaving or wish to label him a 'disloyal c**t' and what not. Just stop for a minute and think about this 'White Pele' you used to hail. He has served you about almost a decade if I'm not mistaken. A certain Ronaldo (not the real one) served your club less. But what's the important thing? Both won all the trophies they possibly could at your prestigious club under an undoubtedly great manager.
Would you at your work place consider working for a new manager who already values you less than the newly hired employee that stepped in a year ago (RVP)? Ah yes, performances matter you say. But how long has the older employee served the company? How much has he contributed to the success? Has he so easily been forgotten? If that employee needs a new challenge, then that's all there is to it.
Think about us Arsenal supporters? We've had to deal with shitload of excuses about the stadium, the youth project, the entire 'Invincibles' being sold for some meagre potentials. And the one player who made the difference for us after all those injury spells finally has an injury free year and leaves. For you. I'm not asking you to expect what we are expecting because I respect the fact that Fergie had no excuses about winning. That's all that mattered to him. City finally won and still your club came back and won it. That says alot about Utd, even if it took RVP to do the job.
So why am I saying all this? If Rooney is clearly not the favored person to start where he used to, then why does he need to do a Giggs for your club? He has not left like RVP out of boredom and do you really think that him going to Chelsea would somehow diminish your club's chances of winning the league? If that's the case then you're too myopic in your view of what your club is capable of and even if Rooney goes to Chelsea and they win it next year, I can say with good probability your club will come back stronger the year after. Because it has been instilled in your team. By Sir Red Nose of all people. And those values don't just go away because a new manager stepped in.
Carl (I should be talking about Suarez more, not Rooney...Jesus!), AFC
Shame On You, Kritian
So basically Kritian, what you are saying is you supported him regardless of anything he did whilst he was Liverpool player and now he doesn't want to be one anymore you don't like him? Shame on you Kritian Herrity, shame on you. Shame on your hypocrisy, shame on your complete lack of self awareness, shame on your nauseating letter, shame on you for dragging the rest of the mailbox into your personal nightmare.
...In response to Kritian Herrity's missive this morning on Suarez.
So you were ok with the racism, the biting and the diving, but the straw that broke the camel's back was that he didn't wave to you during a testimonial?
Christ, doesn't football bring out the best in everyone?
Why The Saga Won't Die
Problems For Suarez
- Liverpool are not currently competing at the level he should be playing at (Champions League), so it's understandable that he'd want to go somewhere else that can offer that, but Liverpool won't sell.
Problems For Liverpool
- It's a vicious cycle. Without great players (like Suarez) they won't crack the top four and be able to offer CL football. Without CL football then they will struggle to attract great players (e.g. Mkhitaryan). What makes it even more difficult is that at this stage there are few (if any) good options to spend any transfer fee from Suarez on. There must be some but I can't think of any players who would a) come to Liverpool and b) offer a real benefit to the team.
Problems For Arsenal
- They need a creative player who can reliably score goals, and at the moment it seems like Suarez is the only option left. The difficulty is that Liverpool's problems compound Arsenal's. If Liverpool can't find anyone to replace Suarez then they obviously won't want to sell him, and if such a player were available Arsenal would have probably just tried to sign him instead.
It seems like almost any resolution to this is going to leave at least one or two of the parties p***ed off and in real trouble this season. Why don't Arsenal just offer Cazorla and Walcott (plus some cash?) and have done?
Thankful For Torres Lesson
I have come to the conclusion that Torres leaving Liverpool has been a blessing in disguise, however bitter.
When Torres joined Chelsea, I was among the large majority of Kopites who were crushed as our hero, our saviour and our honourary Liverpudlian abandoned us, abandoned those for who he could do no wrong, who heaped huge praise on him and fully believed he was the one to bring us back to the big time.
His transfer completely desensitised me to footballers. Never again would I single out a player as a favourite.
But now as we go through this Suarez ordeal, I have never been more grateful for Torres leaving. If Suarez had been our first big name who wanted to leave for greener pastures, after everything he has dragged the fans through, I don't think I would have been able to take it. I would have completely turned my back on football. After everything he has done we have stuck by him and now, with the way he has been trying to force through this transfer, from buttering up Real Madrid to blaming the English media for mistreating him until he realises that an English team are the only team that want him to threatening to take legal action on what, for me, is a technicality (although fair enough if it is in his contract to leave if we didn't get Champions League but it seems like a stupid thing for a club to put in a contract if it was never near a certainty that we could finish top 4), it would have killed off football for me. However, thanks to Torres, I have become numb to player favouritism and player loyalty so I can deal with Suarez being like this.
A bitter, bitter blessing in disguise.
It's Not About The Money, Money, Money
Not sure if raising this point starts a butterfly effect, with consequences so devasting...who am I kidding - it probably won't, but I do have to disagree quite heavily with the central points in Satellite of Love (no gravitational pun intended) and not just because the guy is a Utd fan.
'Rising ticket prices are themselves a product of rising costs, which are largely driven by wage inflation for players...'
The stat about declining attendances is a good one, but simply sits the argument. Palace and Watford obviously had good years last year, but as the stat finished in 11/12 this has to be disregarded - and I would say all of these clubs were in a prolonged period of being 'less good with each passing season' (can't help but feel a word is needed for that) which, as the JCLs (Jonny come latelys) are weeded out, erodes the fanbase to the 'hardcore'.
It's a known fact (there are figures, I just can't be bothered to find them) that the majority of a club's income is down to TV money, and other deals - gate receipts are one of the lowest income streams. In turn, this TV money has driven up the amount of money in the game, allowing agents to negotiate much better deals for their clients.
The notion that clubs then increase ticket prices to cover that shortfall is just wrong; it's simply an argument of supply and demand. The volume of supply is fixed, either at a fanbase or stadium capacity level. Demand for the product is price inelastic, because of loyalty most fans hold for a club (put all clubs in the lower half of the Championship to determine a true fan base - Old Trafford wouldn't sell out). Therefore, the clubs have worked out that they can increase prices, without adversely affecting demand at the level of supply they can offer.
The comment about it being nearly impossible to get promoted to the Prem without a rich owner or parachute payments is also ludicrous. In the last ten years, just ask Portsmouth, Leicester, Wolves, West Brom, Wigan, Reading, Stoke, Burnley, Blackpool, Norwich, Swansea and Cardiff. I've also excluded teams like Wolves whose parachute payments would have ceased by the time they got re-promoted in '08 and Southampton (because it hurts).
Chris (at least he's got a decent name), Portsmouth
I firmly believe that the combined hair power of Carlos Puyol and David Luiz will result in Barcelona winning every cup with ease and will bring an end to world hunger.
That is all.
Shane Kearney, Mitchelstown
Keown And Proud
Really interesting piece by Mr Nicholson.
For me personally the name I chose for the back of my shirt was tied up with the player I played like or really wanted to emulate.
Generally I plumped for Patrick Vieira (my idol) but in reality I played like my second favourite player and his name adorned my shirt only once.
It was after the battle of Old Trafford in early Autumn 2004 and I went for Martin Keown - even the lady in the club shop asked me if I was sure.
To this day it is one of my favourite shirts as while a great many gooners, who have that weird Orko from He-man shirt, have gone with Henry and Pires mine proudly bears the name of Martin Keown and if it hadn't been for him we would never have gone the season unbeaten as it was he that galvanised the squad and ensured we achieved what no other Premiership team has ever done.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London