It's the Mailbox all but United fans have been longing for, with Davey Moyes copping so much stick. Also have love for Martinez, Luis Suarez and Southampton. Enjoy...
But it must only be used for a shot seemingly launched from a catapult with reckless abandon. We also have mails on Dimi Berbatov, Cesc Fabregas and lots more...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Are United Fans Holding Them Back?
First caveat to this mail is that I am a United supporter. By way of background, although I was brought up in a United supporting family, I am one of those supporters that has grown up in time where United and success were synonymous. What I know from the past is what I have read, not what I have witnessed.
However, I had a somewhat disturbing thought during the this transfer window that it is indeed the pressure from the United supporters that may in fact make the transition post-Ferguson more difficult than it needs to be. Ferguson's great success is that he was able to build teams through his managerial career without it ever feeling like there was a "transition period" between these great teams. However, he had over 25 years to build a system which would allow for this.
United now have a new manager, who needs to implement his own structures. Who is to say that these structures will not provide a similar framework for the somewhat seamless transition that was experienced between the great sides of the Ferguson era? However, to do this the manager needs time. To do this, the manager needs to be able to treat this year and perhaps the next as years where the bare minimum is Champions League football - not the league. A true "transition phase" (which Ferguson was granted at the beginning of his reign, except that his reign wasnt preceded by enourmous success). If you set these goals, you allow the manager to really take risks and give the youngsters a sustained run of games. He will really get to know the ins and outs of his squad, really come to understand what it will take for them to be successful domestically and in Europe. I would actually really like to see this done even if it means we dont win the league this year or next, as tough as that will be. I think it would have an enormous benefit to the long term success of the club.
The problem is that I dont see United fans allowing this. Can you imagine the outcry if United finish third this year? The pens are already at the ready. Many United fans I speak to already fear the worst (the worst being that the team finish outside the top two). I dont think this is such a bad proposition so long as we do it in the right way - we finish third having given the youngsters a go, really getting to know the squad, really identifying where the gaps need to be filled.
Whether they intended to or not, Chelsea are going about it the right way. Their squad has some real young talent in it, balanced with some experience. Although they will try and win the league this year, I dont think their support will be too disappointed with second and decent progression in the Champions league.
The curse of success at United is often expectation. You have to remember that we have been fed with a silver spoon for so long we dont know any better. However, this expectation is detrimental to our long term success.
P.s. I dont pretend for a moment that all United fans are like this. I just think there are enough out there who are.
Usmanov Is Not The Answer
In response to Boogswa, Belfast Gooner's mail on Sunday I'd like to point out a few things. While I do agree that the backline since the Invincible year has been terribly inconsistent, using the Invincibles as a measuring stick for the teams that have followed is not exactly fair. That season there was a great combination of talent, brilliance, grit and hard-nosed work-combined with some luck and if I really have to cite examples of luck then we are really gliding over how ridiculous that streak was.
I think those margins by which we've given up goals and done silly things defensively in recent times have been our poor showing in games against other big teams, and I believe that is a function of the makeup of the team, as was suggested, not solely our backline. We have tried, emphasis on tried, to replace the Invincible lot of players on our meager budget, but we were pretty hamstrung for awhile, that Arshavin was our most expensive transfer in those windows since the move to the Emirates speaks for itself. I do agree that some players have been sub-standard-though many have been let go this summer, but we also have to take into account the poor timing of injuries to our better members (RVP was always injured in crucial times), and the players that have left due to fatter contracts at clubs with more spending power. I think in terms of money spent Arsenal have tried to bring in players like Cazorla and Podolski, who were available for very good "value" (I'm sounding like Wenger), but again sometimes the talent never materialized or they left.
I think the biggest loss since 2004 was Fabregas, not Dein. If the suggestion is that we could have hammered through more deals with Dein around, then using Cazorla and Podolski's (also Arteta's) arrivals doesn't fit. Sure Dick Law has been the subject of many jokes, see Joel Campbell, Costa Rica, but his perceived ineptitude has partially been a result of really low bids, and lack of or unwilling use of funds. The club has had the fourth highest wage bill for many years, and has finished in third of fourth. I think there is some correlation in that.
None of this means Usmanov should ever be in a position of power at the club. He is the antithesis of everything that has been built this past decade. If Arsenal supporters vigorously complain about Chelsea and City's influx of wealth and how cheap it is, then what does it say when some have their heads turned by an Uzbeki billionaire with a somewhat checkered past? We dislike Roman but we love our Usmanov is it? So we surely know that his well timed blatherings to the press and open letters are on behalf of us fans, not his way to undermine the powers that be? Kroenke and the board have their reasons not to sell anything to him, whatever they may be, and that they refuse to acknowledge him whatsoever mean's he won't be around anytime soon. His desire to win seems similar to the desire of other billionaire wealth in the league, spend what I want when I want, and get rid of managers who don't win as many things as I want. I'd rather have Silent Stan than Loud Mouthed Alisher.
The club has made a lot of noise about how now they can spend, and I'm as anxious, confused, and frustrated as anyone else that according to Wenger the window starts now. Can someone do a study to see if his 75% assertion is backed up? We'll see what the next week or so brings but the idea that we will once again be as successful as the early part of this millennium because of more spending is as accurate as a weather forecast. We aren't entitled to success and that people believe we are is annoying. Yes the club is wealthy, yes we should be doing better, but we should not take for granted how well we are positioned now and for the forseeable future-that is if we can bring in some players to help this squad out, which we do need to do.
Patrick, American Gooner
At This Stage
Funny thing... After all the panic, anger and frustration showed by Arsenal fans at the beginning of this season, Arsenal already have MORE points at this stage of the League than they did last year!
Cool Thy Jets
I really wish people on the whole wouldn't lay in to arsenal so much, I'm including the miserable pessimistic gooners that complain about everything possible that doesn't go right. You're the reason most people don't like us, you're never content! Firstly, the transfer window has been disappointing, I can admit that, but when people complain by simply saying 'we haven't bought anybody' it avoids all the obvious reason for this; namely, champions league football, top players want it, and until last Wednesday we couldn't guarantee it. Also, incase people haven't noticed, we have actually tried to buy players but have been priced out or rejected. This does happen. It's stupid to assume we an attract 'world class' players to make the squad complete because we aren't world class. We don't have any world class players, closest being Santi. And about the whole 4th place trophy thing, Wenger doesn't see it as a trophy to aim for, he sees it as the bare minimum the club must achieve to continue to operate at this level. Yet in the media, Arsenal finishing fourth is a bit of a joke, it's a massive underachievement for a club like arsenal, however, it is an achievement and a good target for spurs, who according to lots of the same people, are better than arsenal. Why is it ok for them to aim for 4th? Because they haven't won the league in the last decade?
Sorry everyone but we're doing pretty much as expected, we are predicted to finish 4th or 5th every season, and we do finish 4th, and then are poked at for only doing so. I'm pretty content to finish 4th when we aren't close enough at the moment anyway to challenge for the title. It could be a lot worse than being the 4th best professional football team in England guys. Cool your jets.
Alex (mostly happy Gooner)
Some Liverpool/Villa Conclusions
I quite enjoyed the tussle between Liverpool and Aston Villa last night, so I thought I would write about it.
- Like many people, I thought Brendan Rodgers would be very much one dimensional tactically. However, this match just further illustrates how much of a pragmatist he is. He clearly enjoys attacking with style and flair, as illustrated by the huge variety of positions Sturridge, Aspas and Coutinho were taking up. However, the ideal of 'death by football' seems to have been abandoned. Coutinho has been tackled the most of any player in the league, Suarez is incredibly direct, Aspas was, rather frustratingly, trying audacious flicks when he could have just passed the ball backwards. Liverpool are not a possession orientated side any more, they are direct, they do not play percentage passes any more. Henderson is preferred to Allen because he can run in the channels and can cover more ground.
- Daniel Sturridge's decision making looks much improved under Rodgers. I think the influence of Suarez, who undoubtedly lets his team mates know when they have made the wrong decision in attack (ie not passed to him), has humbled Sturridge. A more humble, more intelligent Sturridge, combined with his obvious technical abilities and pace bodes well for both England and Liverpool. If he can overcome his inconsistency and injury-proneness he can a top goal scorer.
- Kolo Toure is a great laugh, and at 32 probably has longer left than most people realise.
- I am always thoroughly impressed by Paul Lambert. He has high expectations from his side, and he seems to have isolated a group of young hungry players eager to improve. He handled the Benteke affair earlier this summer very well, and tactically he seems to have a clear idea of what he wants his side to do.
- On that note, Villa are clearly a counter attacking side, and with Weimann and Agbonlahor alongside Benteke they have enough space to cause damage to sides that try and press high up the pitch. However, they did look a bit lost for ideas against Liverpool when they sat deep and got men behind the ball. It is no real surprise then that they won more games away from home last season, as teams coming to Villa Park are more likely to set up shop and commit less men forward.
- Fabian Delph could be a good premier league player. He is quick, strong, good at dribbling and passing. However, he gave away some stupid fouls yesterday, he seems over eager at times, frustrated by a lack of possession. In a way he is like a crapper more defensive Wilshere.
- A small gripe with Nick Miller's article last week about Liverpool being inefficient finally; Liverpool had the most shots in the league last weekend, without Suarez who created the most chances from open play of any player last season. They have also won 5 games and drawn 1 without Suarez. And 11 shots on target out of 25 shots is not even a bad conversion rate. Whilst Suarez would improve Liverpool, they are currently set up in a very good attacking system that will have to be reworked to accommodate Suarez. Further to that, Sturridge has been fantastic since Suarez got banned, and has scored 7 goals in those 6 games. I could not find the exact statistic too but I think Liverpool had been top, if not second top scorers in 2013 before last weekend. Suarez's biggest technical fault before last season was poor finishing (it was under 7% for most of the 2011/12 season). Mr Miller should be wary about taking statistics out of context.
Just reading a bit about tomorrow night's game between Utd and Chelski when this dinger of a quote from Moyes made me a do a double take. In his praise for his opposite number, David felt the need to say this about him:
"He's a coach who makes tactical changes, depending on how his team is playing."
Forgive my ignorance as I am not a premier league manager and probably never will be but in modern parlance, da fuq? Is that not what all managers do, good or bad, Champions league or Sunday league?
Let's just hope Moyes can figure out how to do this if we are chasing the game at any stage against Chelsea. Gawd.
Fox (Kagawa to come good) Power, Berlin
Guy Adam, CFC, America - claiming Chelsea wouldn't sign someone who could strengthen their rivals - I would like to point out Mourinho has previous in exactly that. The year is 2005, and a young Shaun Wright-Phillips has had two excellent seasons in a row, scoring innumerable outstanding goals, and he looks to be a genuinely remarkable English talent. City, being a middling to not very good premier league team, instantly have the jewel in their mediocre crown linked away. It seems Arsenal are his main suitors, and with good reason, they'd suit his style of play, his father used to play for them, going there would improve him as a player. This was back when Arsenal still viewed first place as the trophy position. Wright-Phillips would have played, and maybe would have fulfilled his promise. (I know that's purely hypothetical, but still, he used to be SO good)
As we know instead title rivals Chelsea, led by one Mourinho, flew in with a big offer and SWP went to warm the Stamford Bench. So while I don't think Chelsea would intrinsically sign someone just so their rivals couldn't, I do believe Mourinho would do so. It'll just be interesting to see how much Willian plays, is all. And for what it's worth, I do think Mourinho views Spurs as a threat. To paraphrase Nate Silver's excellent 'The Signal and the Noise' - "Past performance should never be used to predict future performance." Suffice to say, AVB has put together a good squad, and is about to have a lot more money to further strengthen.
Ant Cule, MCFC
Just a quick mail on the back of the recent piece on knee-jerk reactions. I have increasingly found myself frustrated at fellow fans, journalists and pundits recently. From the scrutiny of United's performances in meaningless pre-season friendlies leading to some serious fans questioning Moyes before a ball had been kicked to people handing the title to Chelsea on the back of twenty impressive minutes against Hull.
Perhaps it's just me using the internet more and more in recent years to keep up with opinions on football but i genuinely don't remember it being just so bad in the past. I've already seen someone say Michu is suffering "second-season" syndrome two games in for christ sake!
Does anyone else find themselves frustrated with this or is it part and parcel of football today?
Was that the first time a high profile Joe Hart error hasn't been described as "uncharacteristic" by the commentators?
Maybe people are finally realising he's actually just not that good. Roberto Mancini certainly agrees if Platt is to be believed!
Tom, MUFC (Cheshire)
...Another 'uncharacteristic' error from Joe Hart I see.
Does anyone still believe he is the 'best in the world'
If he was a striker, he would have been branded as a 'one season wonder'