If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Not A Kneejerk, Just A Twitch
I'm trying desperately to avoid the knee-jerk reaction so early into the Moyes/Woodward regime, but after yesterday's performance I'm beginning to twitch. They've only been in the job three months but already I've managed to compile a bullet pointed list of negativity:
* Most underwhelming pre-season results and performances in living memory.
* Fired the most successful backroom staff in British football.
* Wore a tracksuit in the dugout, a bloody tracksuit
* Reduced to being a pundit on ITV.
* Not created a chance in the last 180 minutes of football.
* Dropped five points in the first three games.
* Told us he was happy with the performance in a woeful loss away at our biggest rivals.
* Waited until after two of our biggest games to buy a midfielder who will 'make a difference'.
* Don't get me started on the buyout clause.
* Unable to secure a left back from a skint mid-table team.
* Embarrassing and desperate bids for every decent midfielder in Europe played out in the media.
I appreciated it's been a steep learning curve but they inherited an well-oiled commercial machine and the champions of England; how have they managed to balls up and alienate the fans so much in such a short period!! I hope I'm eating my words come May and we'll look back at and laugh about these early teething problems, but as it stands right now they're not giving us much cause for optimism.
Pint Over Head
We acted like it was the last hour at a disco - approaching anything vaguely presentable that hadn't already gone home with someone else, with everyone in the place acutely aware that we were moving from table to table after each successive rebuff. To make matters worse, if there was then any slight interest shown in return, we proceeded to (i) quibble about the drink that the lady in question was allowed to be bought, and (ii) ask her if she'd mind taking the nightbus home to ours instead of getting a taxi.
United have just had a pint emptied over their/our head.
Moyes And Woodward: Laurel And Hardy
1. Woodward and Moyes. The new Laurel and Hardy. In fact, I am still waiting for Jeremy Beadle or Noel Edmonds to come out from behind the curtain and tell us that Manchester United's transfer window has been a cunningly orchestrated prank.
2. I'm sure I'm not the only fan that was sat there hoping that the Fellaini deal would fall through at the last minute. Our terrible planning deserved that the club got a final kick in the teeth.
3. Ozil v Fellaini. It isn't even a contest.
Chris, London (I know things aren't that bad compared to others but we all like a good moan)
...Obviously I'm not the only United fan who is dismayed by the club's calamitous performance in the transfer window. I promised myself to delay judgement until the window was closed, and so like many of us I am now staring somewhat aghast at the results. You can't believe everything you see in the press so I'll restrict myself to things that I'm pretty sure actually happened.
Firstly Moyes. He has been lampooned by almost everyone for his lack of confidence, his negativity, his shiny suits (okay, I'll give you that one) and his failure in the transfer market. I have to say that I don't understand his fixation on replacing Evra, especially with an expensive alternative in Baines who is not that much younger, and if it's true that he passed on Thiago Alcantara then that's another question mark, but overall I think his transfer targets were sound. He'll work out that you can't play a 40-year-old Giggs on the wing any more, and Fellaini will certainly add the physical presence which has been so lacking in our midfield. Moyes represents a continuation of what works for us, and is certainly preferable to the enfant terrible at Chelsea.
So what to make of Woodward? The only thing I can say in mitigation is that even in the Gill/Ferguson era players used United to bolster their standing with other clubs in the way Fabregas appears to have done, although Gill and Fergie were much quicker at sussing it out. We low-balled every offer we made this summer, which means we ended up leaving all our business till the last 24 desperate hours when everyone costs twice as much and confusion reigns. We published our business all over every broadsheet so that even if we didn't make some of the more outlandish offers that have been claimed (Sneijder again?) everyone will believe that we did. We have absolutely no credibility at the negotiating table - how can you offer to buy a respected Spanish midfielder out of his contract without being aware that there is tax to be paid? Why did we only buy Fellaini after his own buy-out clause expired - he would have been bought in any case even if we had acquired Alcantara/Fabregas/Modric/Mata/Herrera? The extra money that we paid for Fellaini would almost have covered the "What, the Basques pay tax too?" extra Herrera payment.
The Gill to Woodward handover appears to have been seriously mismanaged. I don't know what the inside politics of the situation were or are, but at some stage it should have dawned on Woodward that he was out of his depth. Why the hell didn't he just pick up the phone to Gill and ask for some help? United still has a very good squad, and at least Moyes will now have a year to bed himself into the job with expectations much less than they were two months ago, but I suspect that Woodward has blown his shot at the big time. I know that if I were the owner of a 1-2 billion quid business and my CEO had mishandled the most important business period of the financial year so spectacularly I would be very reluctant to give him another chance.
Martin (too distraught for brackets) Levi, Tel Aviv
...I realise Ed Woodward will be in for massive abuse for this summer's shambles at United, but Moyes cannot avoid his share of the blame. He's identified five transfer targets (Fellaini, Baines, Fabregas, Herrera, Coentrao) and Woodward only secured one, hence the warranted abuse, but what Moyes should take responsibility for is the fact that he wasn't interested in Özil, a world class, creative midfielder who was available and exactly what we need, what's not to like? We'll be lucky to get fourth, Fellaini is Polyfilla, we needed a new wall.
Woodward: The Anti-Levy
So hang on - United were actually willing to pay £27.5m for Fellaini but offered 28 m for Fellaini AND Baines? Step forward Mr Eddie Woodie, the latest force on the world transfer scene. You've heard of 'for every action, there's an equal but opposite reaction'? Finally, here's football's equivalent - for every Levy, there's an equal but opposite anti-Levy!
...I can only imagine that the shambles that was United's transfer window was on the lines of Bertie Wooster haggling with the shopkeeper to return the cat:
Bertie: Twenty five
After haggling, they settle for thirty five and Bertie informs us that it was not one of his better haggling days. I'm pretty sure Woodward's negotiation with Everton went like this.
Trying To Stay Positive
Massively disappointing evening for United fans but I feel a semblance of perspective has been lost. Keep Calm and Follow.
1) Ed Woodward and the new management at United need to up their game, this window has been a shambles. Doing business late like this can't happen again.
2) However, shifting from colossi of the game in the form of Ferguson and Gill was not going to be seamless. Moyes and the new guys upstairs need time. This is real life, not FIFA 14.
3) Sir Alex didn't always spend big, we haven't always signed early and we haven't signed a centre mid since Hargreaves. The problems in midfield have existed long before Moyes, the media and fans are just more vocal now because Sir Alex is not there.
4) Fellaini is a good signing and solves more of United's problems than Ozil does for Arsenal. Any team would love Ozil in their side so congratulations to Arsenal on their excellent acquisition but as a United fan we needed a proper midfielder more than we needed Ozil. Fellaini is technically not a better player than Ozil but very few players are. Fellaini will be an excellent player for United.
5) United have had a difficult start to the season in terms of fixtures, that will ease off.
Parmjeet Dayal (Look past the disappointment, we are alright)
...What a terrible transfer window. Woodward had no idea what he was doing and left Moyes with a s**t sandwich. For every loss every bad game Moyes will be pilloried whereas a good transfer could have bought him time with the fans. It's getting harder and harder to defend him. So far he has met every negative expectation, drawing at Trafford to Chelsea, losing to Liverpool, not attracting a big signing...But I still think he should be given a shot. The transfer window is more Woodward's fault than his. We should judge him at the end of the season and if he finishes top three he should be given another year to try and build. Truth is as bad as this transfer window was does anyone doubt that if Ferguson had this team, he'd win the league? Chelsea let go of their best striker, City bought mid-table players and are arguably weaker than they were last year with Ballotelli and Tevez, Arsenal bought a TV when they don't have a fridge, Tottenham sold their best player and quite possibly the third best player in the world last year and Liverpool who have done the best business, now have an unhappy and possibly disruptive (more so) Suarez, compared to last year. Yeah if Ferguson was at the helm I'd be confident at a title...but he's not.
Will Shinji Be Freed?
I'm really happy that Marouane Fellaini has signed for Man Utd, and disappointed we didn't get Herrera who is a real talent and has been for years now. The Fabio Coentrao loan has baffled me and talk of Evra becoming a left winger is even more baffling but I think Uniteds business might have one positive side effect: Freeing Shinji Kagawa.
I think it makes logical sense that the reason Shinji hasn't played so far this season, despite his creativity being needed, is that Moyes doesn't trust him and the rest of the midfielders to do enough defensive work. If you play Kagawa ahead of Carrick and Cleverley then I suspect Moyes was afraid they would be completely overrun leading to morale crushing defeats against Chelsea and Swansea and a worse defeat to Liverpool.
Now that Fellaini is there, Kagawa in front of a deeper two of Fellaini and Carrick sounds far, far more defensively sound and that will free Shinji to go and perform his magic.
We can all hope at least!
Calum, MUFC, Reading
Happy Birthday Dan
I wrote in last week complaining about Graham Simons and his misanthropy (unpublished, but to be fair it was more of an expletive-laden explosion of frustration at the man then a cogent mail). But I'm writing in again today as it is my birthday, and I feel especially vindicated by Wenger's big deal yesterday. Presumably Graham, who, lest we forget, suggested sacking Wenger and replacing him with Steve Bould merely a couple of weeks ago, feels that Bould would have been able to persuade Ozil to swap Real for Arsenal?
I know Graham and the rest of the Wenger Out brigade still won't be happy, and Ozil certainly won't solve all our problems, but I am so excited to see him play in an Arsenal shirt, and we beat Spurs at the weekend. So chins up lads and lasses!
Finally, well done to all at F365 for (hopefully) remaining sane throughout the months of rumour, hearsay and downright lies. Your reporting has been excellent, and Mediawatch's ability to call out the truckloads of BS delivered daily by the news media is a welcome moment of daily relief.
Dan, happy Gooner in Guernsey
Ozil: This Is Big
I spent most of the window as a Spurs fan, delighted with how we had done and excited by our prospects. I had completely forgotten that other clubs could sign players too.
Özil is a phenomenal signing. I'm struggling to think of another time when a player that good came to Britain at the peak of their powers, and not for a downward spiral. Bergkamp had a poor spell before he arrived, Zola, Gullit and Vialli were reaching the end of their careers, Ronaldo and Henry (and Bale..) developed into top talent in England. The closest I can think of is Veron, as badly as it went for him here, and Aguero.
This is a landmark signing. Maybe not the one they needed on the pitch, but suddenly Arsenal look and feel like a different club.
It's going to be a great season.
Will Donovan, North London
So Ozil it is. What a fine player and Arsenal with him in the team will be noticeably better than Arsenal without him.
However...at the start of the season we had four gaps in our squad to address if we wanted to have two credible options in each position. Those were at centre-back, holding midfielder, winger and striker. Wenger has filled those holes by playing Sagna as an emergency centre-back, resigning Flamini as a holding midfielder, signing Ozil presumably to play on the wing and seemingly bringing Bendtner back into the fold to play up front. Only one of these is really a quality solution. The other three are reluctant half measures. We were supposed to be clearing out the deadwood to make space for quality not for Bendtner.
The striker issue particularly grates. We started the summer by flirting with Rooney, we were then in for Higuain, next we bid £40mil for Suarez before being linked with Benzema. To end up with Bendtner is shocking. Just as we spent the season before last praying Van Persie wouldn't get injured we'll now be holding out breath every time Giroud goes down.
The shame of it is yet again we're so close. Add Higuain and Gustavo to Ozil and we look like a proper squad. That extra ambition in the transfer market and we could be right in the mix. Instead I'm afraid we're back in the also-rans.
That said, with Ozil on board we're going to be highly entertaining also-rans.
Mesut bloomin' Ozil! I just wish I could find the umlaut button.
...Great signing for Arsenal, apparantly he has created more goal assists than any other player in Europe over the last two years (I cannot be bothered to get the stats, was just something I read on the net). Arsene Wenger must be creaming himself in anticipation as are all of those lovely Arsenal fans. Jack Wilshere even says Ozil will play the 'Arsenal' way, whatever that means.
However, one little thing worth mentioning; Cristiano Ronaldo. He didn't come as part of the deal did he? Because I'm pretty sure he is the one that has converted a fair few of those passes.
Arsenals new formation 4-1-5, goals galore I tell you...Except at the wrong end. I wonder if Arsenal and Man Utd might look at a doing a swap deal in January for their new midfielders having realised they have both bought the player that the other team really needed.
David (a Darlington fan no less....), Durham
Spurs Still look Short Up Front
In the weeks running up to the transfer window closing I have had a bit of a back and forth with some very sensible and knowledgeable Tottenham fans on these esteemed pages. You see my wish was that Bale be sold at a world-record price and re-inforcements be brought in with that money. Needless to say I am rather chuffed, but not overjoyed.
I really believe we needed two strikers. Soldado is great and from what I have seen perfectly decently value, but we needed one more. We are depending a lot now on Defoe and Adebayor (yes, really) chipping in with goals. Apparently Lamela can play up front as well, but the midfield is going to have to be aggressive going forward. We need willing shooters and guile from the wings and especially in front of Dembele/Sandro/Paulinho/Capoue. Eriksen has to be the answer. Sigurdsson and Holtby can do a job there, but Eriksen is potentially the difference between a transitional season and a succesful season. So for all that money spent we look a little thin up front.
Also two missteps were selling Caulker and loaning out Assou-Ekotto. Even if you regard Vertonghen as the first-choice left back, its not like there is quality cover after Danny Rose. That's if you even consider Danny Rose to be better than Benny at present. I am sure that Caulker was not on fantastic wages? Basically swopping him for Vlad Chiriches seems strange. In conclusion, I am happy that Bale was sold and that money was spent on mostly promising additions. I am not a professional scout or manager, and I have faith that AVB and team will put it together. Liverpool seem to have done really good business this window, and Arsenal have got Ozil. The top five places in this years league will be tighter than ever.
Neil Green, THFC
As a Newcastle fan, I didn't expect anything else. JFK was brought in to do exactly this, mouth off to all and sundry and take the heat off Ashley.
The only 'lessons' learnt from last year are that if their are 3 worse teams then we'll stay up and get more cash. It was the same policy last summer when we faced two games a weekwith the Europa League, no investment or ambition, just enough to get through. It was only our dire form, injury pile up and losing Ba in January that sparked a panic and the signing of Gouffran, Sissoko and Dubuchy.
Ashley is famed for loving a gamble and this is his next roll of the dice. We've lost good squad players in Perch and Simpson to trim the wage bill as no Europe means we only need 40 points.
NUFC is being left to stagnate whilst the profits are good. If we have no injuries, no run of bad luck or dip in form we'll finish 8-12. In the real world, we're going to have to slog in out till May aiming for 17th upwards. Or success as Ashley seems to believe.
Phil (who couldn't we get over the line this time?) Newcastle
See You In January...
I just automatically logged on to F365 and went looking for the live blog, it was a natural reaction... This has made me sad.
David 'What do I do with my life now?' Harley