That's the question posed in a wide and varied Mailbox, along with several others including Lloris dropping bollocks, Stewie Griffin's return & a thank you to David Healy...
...or just something that Paul Merson made up? We suspect the latter, but a chap in the Mailbox seems to think that it's better than thunderbastard. We suggest he's wrong...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
The Curse Of The Baggies
With Di Canio's sacking last night, yet again we see a Premier League manager sacked after defeat to WBA. In the last 18 months we have ended the managerial tenures of McCarthy, Villas-Boas, Di Matteo and now Di Canio. Is there some intense shame about losing to the Baggies that the only response is to dispose of your manager's services? I think David Moyes should be very worried. With the visit of the Albion this coming weekend his time could be up far earlier than he imagined.
You know how bad Moyes being the manager of Man Utd is? I didn't even watch the Man City game. I actually chose to spend time with my wife and my friends. I have become so apathetic about my team because it is undoubtedly the start of the same collapse that Liverpool experienced in the 90's.
All I ask is that when I send you an email in about 15 years stating "This year will be our year" that you send a highly skilled assassin to wipe me off the face of this planet. I'll be easy to find. I'll be stood in front of a mirror, taking a long, hard look at myself.
Joel Sparks, Chester (I wanted Klopp)
Moyes v Pellegrini
One of the main reasons City beat United was that they set up to play how they wanted to rather than over think when it came to tactics. I don't think Pellegrini gave a monkeys how United set up or intended to play. He had an idea of how his team should play football and picked players strictly based on that. A good example of this is his decision to start Nasri. The typical option would have been to pick James Milner who is more tactically and defensively aware and would press well from the wings while also covering for the full back and tucking into midfield to make it a three within Yaya and Fernandhino when needed. This is the exact reason Moyes decided to play an out of form Valencia over a more creative force in Nani. Ironically Valencia seemed the most tactically inept player on the pitch and didn't offer enough help to Smalling. Moyes let his fear of City/losing overcome the fact that he is managing one of the biggest clubs in the world who is famous for taking teams to the sword and playing with flair and without fear even when they loose (the classic game against Real is an example). It's those types of games that made United so well known worldwide.
Anyone calling for Moyes' head at this moment is smoking something not good for the reasoning part of the brain but performances (not even necessarily winning) has to improve or the wolves will be licking their teeth ready to pounce.
Seyi (can't believe Mourinho has managed to use Jedi MInd Tricks to fool people into believing Mata suddenly needs to adapt his game - best player in 2 cup winning seasons, YOU should adapt your game to him pr*ck) LFC
Cool Thy Jets
Before the #MoyesOut brigade starts coming out, lets all calm down and just remember we lost 1-6 to City at Old Trafford under Fergie (yes, I there on that miserable day) and we still ended up only losing the season on goal difference...
One simple change at half time could have won the game for Man Utd. Substitute Sir Alex in for Moyes and they would definitely have had more of a chance.
Hiram (Bangkok,LFC, enjoying the shambles in Manchester)
I was glad to see Moyes' post match comments regarding the opening fixtures to the season picked up on by both Nick Miller in his 16 Conclusions piece and on the front page of F365, especially given he was not challenged in any way on this statement in his post-match interview.
What Moyes seems to be suggesting is very serious. He is basically suggesting that the FA have gerrymandered the fixture list specifically to destabilise Manchester Utd. Let's just think about this for a minute. If Moyes suggestion is true, it basically means the games governing body is corrupt on a very fundamental basis. Moyes should be immediately dragged into FA headquarters to back up this claim as its extremely damaging to the very fabric of the game. He should be being asked to produce any evidence in his possession which has led him to form the conclusion. In the absence of any evidence (because let's face it, it's doubtful any exists) he should be asked to explain in detail what he believes are the FA's motives in pre-arranging the fixture list in this manner.
If he can't coherently and convincingly explain reasons behind making this charge he should be very seriously censured including but not limited to a hefty fine for bringing the game into disrepute.
I don't see why a manager under pressure after taking on a high-profile job and struggling in his first few fixtures should be allowed to deflect attention from his own failings by alleging such a serious charge and not have to face consequences.
It's The Negativity That Kills You
The thing that has bothered me so far is not the bad start to the season, but the fact Moyes is doing the same things SAF did wrong. Surely Nani and Kagawa/Hernandez would have been much better option than Young and Welbeck. It's the negativity that irritates me. I seriously don't know what Young offers. Can someone tell me how he gets to start games for Man Utd? Anyway, the point is SAF can get away with playing Park in a derby after a 2 month lay off, Moyes can't. The least supporters expect from the team is a positive attitude and solidity. Tonight's match showed us nothing of the sort.
I was watching the match at a bar, and when Young was substituted, a girl shouted "Get off the pitch you hunched over, vacuous, bald, first defender hitting waste of space." I've never loved a girl more.
Harish, MUFC, Chennai/Adelaide
...As a Manchester United fan I accept that we were very lucky to win the title so comfortably last season. The performances were dour and it occurred to me that this Manchester United side has had a lot of the life sucked out of it by the constant need to scrimp and save and identify the 'right type of player'.
Scout: Yeah, he's a United player, him. He's got bundles of desire, works his socks of, and grew up in a warzone. Tough as nails, him.
Manager: And can he trap a bag of cement?
Scout: Not the most technical of players, to be fair, and the passing is a bit erratic...but he was homeless for a few years on the streets of Lisbon!
Manager: Sign him. He's a United lad, him.
This has been the way for a long time now, this philosophy of being the 'right type of player', to have the right 'attitude' for a United player, which usually means being a workhorse and not a showboating showpony. It even fed in to the curious decision to make David Moyes the new manager.
But why are we so desperate to be so dull? This is Manchester United, right? We used to be synonymous with flair, exuberance, arrogance, style, and rightly so, because players like Eric Cantona and Andrei Kanchelskis could do something magical. And yet this image of swashbuckling Manchester United, that we like to project in our marketing, belies what we see on the pitch. Flat, zombie-like passing in midfield, endlessly knocking the ball out wide for a winger to fizz another ball into the box. Ronseal football.
A quick look at Sunday's team sheet reveals the 'type of player' that United have so often been courting over the past years. Young and Valencia are hardworking players, but painfully average in technical areas. Their inclusion in the team at Moyes insistence seems part of a culture at the club to make United more prosaic and lifeless than ever.
Having won the title 20 times, I am happy for us to do it again and again, but what we are missing at the club is a bit of risk and charisma. This is a dull side, with a dull manager. If this season is not to be our season, let's at least play some football.
Conclusions For United
Heavy defeats any day are better than narrow ones. You learn more from a drubbing than an narrow defeat. It provides a foundation for change. Here are some changes I would make.
1. Play Evans - He was our best defender last year and did spectacular with Rio or Vidic on the side. Rio + Vidic while good once in a while are just not cutting it every game. Which leads me too..
2. Rotate the squad more often. Rotate the defense and rotate midfield.
3. Replace Evra in Jan
4. Dont play more than two of Welbeck, Giggs, Valencia and Young in big games. Use them against the smaller sides.
5. Play Kagawa. If not from the start, from the 60/70 minute and give him game time. Invest in him.
Sudarsan Ravi, MUFC
...- Well, that was rather depressing. It was not so much the scoreline, but rather the performance. United were shambolic at the back and the midfield bore no semblance to the one that turned out against Leverkusen in midweek. Rio had an absolute shocker in defence while City did not afford United any time in midfield. The only reason United looked slightly threatening in the last 15 minutes is merely because City had no need to keep up the intensity. The game was won when Toure bundled the ball home before half time.
- That said, once again Moyes got his team selection wrong while his counterpart got his spot on. The introduction of Negredo brought mobility to the frontline, and coupled with Aguero's movement and Toure's late surges into the box, the United back four had no clue what to do, who to mark and made to look like school boys. City's movement in the final third was absolutely devastating.
- As for United, Moyes' really needs to review his team selection for big games. Its understandable to err on the side of caution but to win big games, there must be a certain degree of risk undertaken. I know Nick Miller believes that Moyes had nowhere to play Kagawa but I beg to differ. With RvP's exclusion, Rooney could have led the line, Welbeck would have done a better defensive job and posed more of a threat than Young and Kagawa could have played in his preferred No.10 role while Fellaini and Carrick set deeper to provide some form of cover.
- Speaking of Young, he has been appalling. To put it bluntly, he's not good enough. We have several young, talented wingers in the form of Januzaj and Zaha and while I do not expect them to deliver immediately, I'd rather the team allow these players the playing time and development they require. Young must go in January.
- All in all, a very impressive City performance. Kompany and Toure were imperious and Aguero was a constant threat. If they can replicate this performance against the other challengers, they have a very good chance of being champions come May.
Ming Kiat Tan Singapore
Where Kagawa Could Have Played
In response to Nick Miller, the points about Kagawa and Hernandez really struck home. Where was Moyes to have played either of them? The obvious answer here is in place of Welbeck and Young, both of whom every United fan saw in the starting lineup and immediately resigned themself to defeat. United started with a 4-2-3-1, so just replace the two weak links in that with two competent players and immediately have an impact. If nothing else make those changes at some point during the game. The idea of Kagawa and Rooney interchanging while Hernandez darts into the box is infinitely better than Young hitting balls into the stands and Welback tripping over his own feet.
Tim, Alabama (my wife is threatening to become a Tottenham fan)
...To reply to your 16 conclusions , the conclusion about where to play Shinji kagwa. He should have played in the hole behind Rooney with Welbeck on the left getting the best out of both Kagwa(ball retention) and Welbeck(endless pace and energy) and with Rooney in the form he is in he would have loved playing upfront and dropping back deeper when needed. Saying all this, its easy to say in hindsight but after 45 minutes it should have seemed clear something drastic needed changing and just like the Liverpool game Moyes seems slow to react when things aren't going our way, and boy did things really not go our way yesterday. City deserved the win and even with our best 11 and Fergie at the helm we still might have lost against a team playing that good but I'd like to think we'd have put up more of a fight.
This One's On The Players
I'm sure you will receive a ton of mails detailing how woefully out of depth David Moyes is as manager of Manchester United. Maybe he is. But the overwhelming blame for the shameful thrashing on Sunday should be laid firmly at the polished marble doorsteps of the 11 men who started the match.
Yes, tactically maybe Moyes could've gone with 3 in the midfield. But then everyone would be howling about how he had bottled it against a big team by starting a defensive line-up. And after the rather dominant midfield display by Carrick and Fellaini in the mid-week Champion's league game, there was no reason for Moyes to think that they would be overrun like a hapless Apple store "specialist" at the launch of a new iPhone.
It was evident there was something wrong with the United players even before they got on to the pitch. The steely eyed, stone-jawed glare, perfected by Vidic in emulation of the eminently psychotic Roy Keane was missing. Oh sure, Vidic tried to get it on but he was distracted by all the City players he had to hug and kiss and pat gently on the back of their heads. It's a fucking derby against your cross town rivals and main title challengers for Pete's sake!
And on the field the United players looked miserable, hopeless, morose, despondent and simply disinterested as if Pellegrini had paid off each of their best friends to bang their wives (or Gfs) and had them reveal their dastardly betrayal five minutes before kickoff.
Sure City were good, excellent even, and United has been outplayed before, but memory does not serve up the last instance when United were so cloyingly limp, without an ounce of grit and desire. I mean Samir freaking Nasri managed to outmuscle and turn Vidic!
Of course it's Moyes' job to motivate the players, but surely a game against Manchester City should be enough to generate copious amounts of adrenaline on its own without Moyes' having to break out the Chariots of Fire CD.
If there is one criticism that can be levelled at Moyes, it is that he seems to have lost the scary-bastard image he had at Everton. Maybe he is a bit star struck or overwhelmed or simply so delighted with his appointment that everyday feels like a Disney movie where animated birds help him put on his suit in the morning and wide-eyed fawns nuzzle at his groin. But this kind of performance should give him the perfect excuse to kick some boots at the players' faces put the fear of mortality in them. When Sir Alex was in charge the players wouldn't have dared play like this because they would be terrified of what would happen once they got back into the dressing room. Moyes needs to instil the same fear in them. If that means he needs to go a little mental then so be it. God knows the players deserve it.
Rito, Manchester United, India
On Arsenal's Title Chances
It's the hope that kills.
Matt Wright, Gunner in Aus.
Arsene Still Knows
I'm guessing Arsenal emails might get overlooked due to the Man Utd mauling, but I'll keep this one short and quick.
When Flamini was signed, the parade routes weren't exactly planned - but he's been the perfect signing for this side (yes, even in this young season). Just want to point out to all of those who clamoured for Luis Gustavo - 2 red cards in 3 games for Wolfsburg.
Maybe Arsene does still know?
Nick, Burlington, ON, Canada
It's great being top of the league and while we are I intend to enjoy it before the inevitable run of City as they overhaul us - though I think for the first time in years we could genuinely finish above United.
But all that's for later in the season - I'm sure many gooners will be waxing lyrical about Ramsey or Ozil but I would just like to pick up on the performance of one Serge Gnarby.
The German with the unpronounceable name as up until this season looked very lightweight but yesterday he literally looked like a different player. He stood up to Stoke's roughhousing and offered protected the full back in a way the unfortunate Myachi simply wasn't able to do when he came on.
It would be easy for lazy journalists to report on Wenger's attacking football emerging victorious over Stoke's odious orcs. But Stoke actually played a bit of football - the problem was they didn't bother practising defending set pieces as well, Arsenal generally give you the ball back in such positions.
Yesterday from my seat in the clock I could see every Arsenal player harrying their opposite number every time they took the ball and while Stoke did enjoy a lot of possession we were the ones that made ours count and they ended up looking like an Arsenal team of old - sideways passing the ball across the midfield with no end product.
As an Arsenal fan of old I'm liking this new Arsenal - three set pieces - three goals and top of the league - at least until the weekend.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
You'll probably get a few mails in regarding a certain derby that happened yesterday accompanied by a few melters calling for Moyes head, but hopefully you can fit in a Spurs mail amidst the wailing.
I thought from start to finish it was a polished away performance. Hugo Lloris again kept us in the game early doors, even if the cheeky Gallic chappie again used the full parameters of his penalty box (and maybe more) Naughton still looks out of place on the left side of defence but as for the rest of the back four, solid and dependable...Dawson was an absolute monster and smashed everything that moved. Walker is returning to his best.
The midfield really is coming together quite nicely. Dembele anchored the midfield in typical dominant fashion in the first half which allowed Paulinho to push a bit further up field. Our ball retention is really coming on now and allowing us to push teams back and put them under pressure. Sigurdsson looks to have finally settled and is looking dangerous and full of confidence. Lamela is being eased in gently...new country, new language and a few personal issues have perhaps held him back slightly but he looked intelligent and tidy when he came on and bagged a great assist. Eriksen just makes things happen with his movement and on the subject of movement, it can't be long until Soldado bags from open play, as again yesterday he was excellent without scoring. A matter of time.
All in all, we are starting to look like a fairly formidable side. Powerful, solid and thankfully now, developing some finesse too. With the likes of Chiriches, Capoue, Sandro, Lennon, Chadli, Defoe, Adebayor and arguably Lamela still to really step into the first team fold we have a lot more strength in depth to attack the Premier League's top 4 places and an assault on the cups.
Its looking like an exciting season ahead. As I read somewhere on Twitter yesterday, the business we have done in the summer has turned us into a completely different animal, almost like we have sold Elvis and bought The Beatles. I know it's only Cardiff, but it was the manner of the victory that I found most pleasing. A new team needs a defining result to get it truly on it's way and hopefully the match against Chelsea at WHL will provide it.
Balotelli is having his penalties saved.
Aaron Ramsey is scoring as much as Cristiano Ronaldo.
Juan Mata is being dropped from the Chelsea squad.
Arsenal scored 3 set pieces against Stoke.
Perhaps the 2012 doomsday prophecies were a year early?
Andrew M, AFC, (Di Canio got fired - wait, no, that was probably always going to happen) Australia
Martin (YNWA) (Fed up of having to put something funny here too), you're an idiot.
You do realise not everyone supports Liverpool or Man United right? To say nobody cares about where Southampton finish or that they beat Liverpool on Saturday is one of the most ignorant things I have ever read in the mailbox, and that's saying something. I'm a Spurs fan but the rest of my family are all from Southampton and have been season ticket holders for as long as I can remember. They go to every home game, most away games and have even been on their last few pre-season tours (bit weird I know). I spoke to my dad Saturday morning and he said if they could manage to get a draw he'd be delighted. After the game he was absolutely over the moon. Those three points meant the long trip up to Liverpool was worth it for my mum, dad and sister and for every other Southampton supporter. Those three points have made their week. Try telling them that it means nothing or that nobody cares where Southampton finish.
Rob Pearse (Concentrate on finishing above Everton before worrying about Man Utd)
After years watching Ronaldo and then his desciples crash and smash free kicks into the wall/crowd/occasionally the goal with as much force as they could force through their limbs, I'm really enjoying seeing the art of free-kick taking behind refined and rediscovered this season.
Untouchable swerving efforts from Yaya Toure, Leighton Baines, Wayne Rooney and a couple of others have tickled my biscuit. There is just something more satisfying about seeing a goalkeeper scramble along the line or flying through the air, stretched to the limits of their body, falling short by a fingertip of making a save.
I appreciate it takes skill to score a thunderbastard free-kick, but to curl the ball into the top or bottom corner - now that's class. I grew up watching the likes of Dennis Irwin, Matthew Le Tissier, and then of course David Beckham doing it, and it's been great to see this style of free-kick taking being executed quite so excellently once again.
In response to Alexander Tovey:
- No one wrote that Chelsea had an "unassailable" lead after 2 games
- No one has written that Jose Mourinho is on the verge of being sacked
- No one has written that Aaron Ramsey has already won player of the year (and I'm fairly certain the bookies have not stopped taking bets)
In short, you have either (at best) exaggerated the truth or (more likely) simply made up stories to fit your own agenda and the argument you are trying to put forward. Do you think this might undermine your credibility in writing in to lament the hyperbole of others?
An Unappreciated Golden Age?
There has been a debate running for a while now about the current level of world football and the number of great players currently active. With Europe's major leagues less competitive than they have ever been and the international game becoming more irrelevant with every passing season, there appears to be a growing feeling that football was better in the old days.
When 'the old days' were exactly is unclear, which provides a less than helpful starting point, but most respondents seem to agree that the beautiful game is not so alluring any more. The Brazilian Ronaldo recently remarked that football was best in the nineties: "For me, there is less competition now. I do not want to be the typical guy saying things were better in my day but I look around now and I just see [Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo].
"Maybe Neymar is coming but he has a long way to go yet. In my time there were many great players. I competed with Zidane, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Owen, Figo, Batistuta. There were many players who made their teams great."
Through my discussions on Twitter I have found that Ronaldo's view is generally representative of the majority opinion. This is, to my mind, disappointing and irrational - misty-eyed romanticism trumping an irresistible amount of evidence. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are obviously the best of their generation - two of the greatest players ever, full stop - but the monotony of their domination should not obscure the fact that today's talent pool is deeper than ever before.
It is understandable that fans bemoan certain aspects of the contemporary game. It is prohibitively expensive to watch and bankrolled by oligarchs. In England, a historical giant of the sport, it is next to impossible for a local to turn out for one of the country's top sides. Globalisation means there will never be another story to compare with Celtic's Lisbon Lions or Steaua Bucharest's European Cup winning team of 1986.
Today's great players come increasingly from a select few nations and end up concentrated in a relatively small number of cities, but there are an incredible number of them regardless. Think of a position on the field of play and there are at least seven or eight outstanding performers in it - and most of them playing in different roles within different tactical frameworks.
The most obvious reason that many believe that there are no individuals worth celebrating is that football is now a more team-orientated sport than at any point in its history. Having been shaped by the ideas of Rinus Michels, Valeriy Lobanovskyi and Marcelo Bielsa, it does not allow for the participation of crowd-pleasing mavericks if they are not willing to do the dirty work.
Virtuosos such as Juan Román Riquelme will always remain celebrated for their willingness to attempt the sublime, but opponents at all levels now look to exploit such high-risk styles - and, in most cases, the accompanying lack of defensive input on the part of its architect - in order to maximise their chances of victory. José Mourinho is currently leaving out Juan Mata for this very reason.
Additionally, technological developments mean that widespread cultural exchange and unprecedented levels of performance analysis have rapidly accelerated football's development. In turn, the game has become homogenously played almost everywhere. Recent statistical analysis showed that the styles of play in England, Spain, Germany and Italy, radically different until a decade ago, are more or less identical now.
This hurried stylistic evolution may have seen a certain joy lost from the game but it has undeniably raised the standard. While we as viewers lost the likes of Riquelme, we gained attacking midfielders with more rounded skillsets and selfless mentalities - players like Andrés Iniesta, Toni Kroos, Luka Modriæ, Oscar, Marek Ham¿ík and Christian Eriksen. I could name many more just like them.
Another common lament is that "the characters have gone from the game"; that the vast majority of today's footballers do not - and cannot - have the charisma and charm of, say, George Best or Diego Maradona. Again, there are many good reasons for this change. The aforementioned advances in methodology, increased professionalism at ever younger ages and, of course, a global influx of untold riches into football have all played key roles in turning personable players into characterless drones.
What today's stars lack in wit and affability, however, they more than make up for in skill and output: tens of thousands of footballers across the globe play a far more sophisticated and demanding version of the sport than Best and Maradona ever did, do so with greater regularity and under more intense scrutiny than those they are compared against. Simply put, spectators forget that some weekends even Pelé sucked.
The truth of the matter is that as, a technical exercise, football is considerably better now than it ever has been. If that goes unnoticed then the fault lies with us, the viewers. Repeatedly exposed to brilliance, it seems we have forgotten how to appreciate it. We have come to expect the spectacular pretty much every time we watch a game. When it does not come we blame the players and repeat the truism that icons from years gone by, whose identities vary according to each individual's bias, would never have played so poorly.
We are living in football's unappreciated golden age. While we constantly watch the game, we do not recognise the unprecedented talent of its players. Nostalgia will always impact on popular thought and we all enjoy reminiscing from time to time, but for all the many faults of twenty-first century football - and goodness knows there are many - the quality of the player is one thing the modern game has got right. Spectacularly so.
Why did the hipster burn his tongue?
He drank his coffee before it was cool.
George (always rated Ramsey, chuffed with his form, gutted he's becoming mainstream) AFC, Wellington, NZ