It does seem logical that the best thing to do with the best players is to play them from the start, when they have the most time to make an impact, rather than the last 15 minutes...
We have lots of people suggesting lots of things to Roy Hodgson but we suspect you'll be more interested in relative XIs, World Cup cliches and drawing Alonso...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Moyes And Charismatic Authority
I'm a history student and currently I'm reading about the Third Reich (bear with me). Well, there's a historian who explains Nazi Germany using an idea called 'charismatic authority'. Basically, even though the system was an institutional mess, it held together because of the force of Hitler's personality, with everyone anticipating his intentions and then acting in line with them. It even allowed this notoriously chaotic system to hold its own in years of war against the three strongest industrial powers in the world. The concept has been applied to other system as well, like Stalin's Russia.
Where am I going with this... er, well, this weekend, when I was watching Man Utd, I couldn't help but think again of this concept of 'charismatic authority'. A lot of people are calling for Moyes to be sacked. But my understanding is that Moyes is, in terms of the actual 'method' of being a manager, pretty good. He used his money intelligently (for the most part) at Everton, he got the best out of some (in many cases limited) players, and he was also tactically very astute (I'm given to believe).
However, charismatic authority is very much about context. It's not about how technically 'good' a leader is, but about an irrational appeal that communicates itself through particular the structures that surround him. I submit to you that the reason Moyes has failed at Man Utd, and why he cannot succeed, is not because he's limited as a manager, but because he's not capable of generating the kind of 'irrational faith' in his leadership qualities that his team needs to 'believe', go out and win because, within that context, he has no charismatic authority. He's a guy from a lesser club who reeks of midtable, no longer a genius hardman operating on a shoestring. He's still the same manager but the aura his context generates is completely different. So there are no tactics he can implement, no players he can sign, that will alter this situation, because the basic deficit in the almost magical aura that a manager at Utd needs to generate won't be conjured.
The next point is this: Man Utd, in my opinion, are uniquely screwed. Because it's clear that what held their system together was Ferguson's quite extraordinary degree of 'charismatic authority'. His personality permeated the entire club. This may have been true of Jose during his first Chelsea stint, and they didn't completely collapse after he left, but that's because of one crucial difference between them and Utd - Chelsea had authentically world class players. Man Utd have very few - their team is good, on paper, but not great. It was Ferguson's force of personality that held that group together in an almost military, cult-like fashion. Now that he's gone, the system he built is disintegrating, and the players, without their 'irrational' belief in him and victory, are crashing back down to earth.
The solution? Not Moyes, because however good he may be as a manager, he can no longer generate the necessary irrational charismatic authority. They really should've gone for Mourinho. I sometimes wonder if Ferguson deliberately did not endorse Mourinho because he knew that the latter's personal magic would, in fact, adequately be able to replace his. And he didn't want it to.
No New Ideas Is The Issue
I have been holding this in for a long long time. But I finally want to express my thoughts on David Moyes and Manchester United's season so far. First of all I was quite happy when Moyes was appointed manager. He had a very good record at Everton, on a limited budget and I felt offered the stability and long term vision that a club like Man United needs. Lastly, his background and style all were similar to Sir Alex himself.
I still believe in Moyes and that he can turn it around. We all knew this was going to be a transition season, most United fans I know were hoping for a decent cup run and a top 4 finish in the league, but it's the performances and lack of ideas that has left most United fans disappointed. We can accept bad results, if we at least see some work in progress, a new identity beginnning to take shape, a new philosophy that a manager is trying to implement or hell even a lot of new players being integrated into the team. But no, there is none of this happening. We completely lack any sort of identity or strategy, what exactly is our style of play? Fergie relied on wingers for much/all of his reign and he combined his tactics with incredible motivational power/being able to put the fear of god into players.
Moyes has continued with the Fergie tactics, I have seen nothing new in our style of play this season, nothing at all to suggest he has implemented any new ideas in the team. He's using old tactics without Fergie's incredible charsima and inspiration to go with it. The result? 9th in the table. When teams actually give us the ball we are f*cking clueless. We have no idea on how we are actually going to use the ball, create a chance and score a goal. The only teams we look good against are 'big' teams where we are more or less the underdog, expected to defend and play on the counter and when we do this we can churn out a result through a set piece or good counter attacking play (witness Arsenal home or Leverkusen away). When Rodgers struggled intitally at Liverpool it was at least understanable because you could see he was trying to impose an entirely new way of playing and the players would take time to adjust to it. What exactly is Moyes' style? What is our identity? How are we meant to play?
All we are doing at the moment is going to games and hoping for Rooney/RVP/Janujaz to bail us out with some magic so we can get over the line. This lack of any plan combined with our embarassing transfer window, his embarassing press conferences (he was talking before the game against Newcastle saying how we are going to make it difficult for them, YOU AREN'T AT PRESTON ANYMORE DAVID) and the lack of fight and drive shown by the players on the pitch is what frustrates and disappoints, not the results themselves. Sort it out David.
Aniruddh, London, MUFC
United Just Got Lucky Last Season
When you inevitably compare Manchester United this season to last season's title-winning team, you have to take in to account the perfect storm that fell into place for them. Last year we saw Ferguson possibly the most motivated he was in his entire career, utterly determined to win the title after the heartache of the 2011-12 season; he urged one last great season out of ageing players like Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra and Carrick as well as making a short-term impact signing in Van Persie. They were utterly relentless in going for victory in just about every game (often ending up somewhat open at the back as a result), but were also helped in their championship win by every other team you could consider as rivals for the title having utterly incompetent seasons: City looked utterly stale and demotivated, Chelsea were badly managed, considering the talent they had, and Arsenal weren't even in the running after a dreadful first half of the season.
But now, quite probably as a direct result of last season's events, David Moyes has a very different perfect storm. Motivated by respective failures, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City invested heavily in their squads over the summer while Manchester United stood still. Their ageing players, having won that "one last title", are no longer hungry and long past their best. Ferguson essentially burned out the spine of his team for one last league winner's medal; not to say that that was a mistake, but it leaves his successor with a much bigger rebuilding job than the role of "taking over from the champions" suggests. All this goes to say is that Moyes is being judged on a different job from the one that he actually has, which is one that requires much rebuilding.
The aforementioned Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra, as well as Giggs are all out of contract at the end of the season, and should all leave, along with other underperformers such as Anderson and Young. If replaced with young, talented and hungry players, we can only then start to judge Moyes as a potential title-winning manager.
Ally, an Arsenal fan
Get A Grip On Gibbs
Anyone blaming Kieran Gibbs for yesterdays goal is at best being a bit harsh, at worst knows absolutely nothing about the game and has never played a minute in a competitive match. Gibbs is covering both the player with the ball and anticipating the pass outside which is very f*cking hard to do. then Deulofeu knocks it to the side and smashes it with almost zero backlift.
It was just a decent goal, are you going to blame Koscielny for not getting a head on the cross? Perhaps Rosicky for letting it bounce? Screw it let's blame the ball manufacturer for letting Deulofeu smash the ball with such ease, it wouldn't have happened 50 years ago when balls were made from goats tongue and orphans tears.
Get a grip guys.
Luca James Sparks
...It was utterly predictable that some Arsenal fans would get all upset about the result and look to scapegoat one of the players. The obvious choice is Gibbs because he just so happened to be the closest to the ball. Right.
Excuse me for being overly lenient or protective of one of ours, but I'm not sure there was a whole lot anyone could have done about Deulofeu's effort. Sometimes one just needs to raise their hands and give credit to the opposition. The kid scored a great goal. If we're assigning blame, maybe Arteta could have stopped Barkley from spraying the pass out wide or one of the central defenders could have cut the cross out before it landed at Deulofeu's feet. Or they could have all just stayed at home and shirked responsibility entirely to prevent Stewart and co from whining.
The point is that it's silly to use one incident, which probably wasn't entirely one player's fault, to criticize excellent performances all year. Some folks just can't be happy about anything. Then again, Stewart's opinion doesn't count - Arsene Wenger's does.
Idris (Arsenal), USA.
Seeing as my last couple of slightly more thought provoking attempts at getting in to the mailbox were crushed by the MC I want to write in about Chelsea and and make some points for maybe why they're not doing as well as predicted.
The squad- The pivot area of midfield was not addressed at all, instead more attacking midfielders were bought leaving is with an ageing Lampard, mostly useless Mikel, a passed it Essien and the excellent Ramires. A striker was not bought also and this weekend Mourinho made reference to the other teams strikers all scoring regularly where ours have not, so acknowledging that Chelsea are behind the other teams in this department.
Competition- As well as every team in the league getting stronger Chelsea's rivals at the top of the table all have someone in form scoring and winning their team games, Ramsey, Suarez, Aguero.. Chelsea do not have such a player at the moment, again setting Chelsea back from their rivals.
So while Chelsea are not performing as well as they should looking at their team on paper they are still up there at the moment and you know a Mourinho team will not give up.
P*ssing On Everton's Chips
This Martinez version of Everton really is a sight to behold but, sadly, it will only be a flickering glimpse. Lukaku and Delafeou are loan players and they do not have a hope in hell of holding on to them next season (in fact, if Chelsea try to recall Lukaku in January, I would not be surprised). Then there is Barkley, a talent no doubt, but only have to look at the likes of Rodwell and Sinclair to see what could go wrong there. Pienaar is back to his best but age will catch up with him soon. Baines seems destined to a move away and the season that Coleman is having will only alert cash-rich teams to his undoubted talent and consistency.
So, I know I am painting a grim picture here but it is one gleamed from experience. Too many times I have seen a team rise up on to be picked apart and dismantled by their lofty opponents. As a neutral, Everton are a joy, but a brief one.
Bruce Willis Writes In...
You published this morning a missive from a so-called diehard United fan who called David Moyes a "dude" and then went on to explain that "his team selection sucks" and that the aforementioned Moyes is "failing to cook a winning combination"
If that good sirs is a die-hard United fan then I am Bruce Willis.
Philip (a genuinely worried and die-hard Charlton supporter) Johnson
'Super' Reading. Dear Me
Re: Austin Maguire, MUFC's contribution to the mailbox about a lack of originality in chants, and the general pilfering of anything anyone else comes up with.
I agree, and it's just brought to mind the most irritating of all football chants, which will no doubt have been sung at every league ground in the country this weekend and every weekend of the season, that being: "[team name] / [team name] FC / we're by far the greatest team / the world has ever seen."
Seriously, f*ck off.
It's almost certain that you're not even the greatest team in your club's history, let alone the world's history (unless you support Yeovil). As a Reading fan, watching us deliver a performance of unremitting shoddiness against Bournemouth at the weekend, hearing this chant nearly drove me off the edge. We're not the greatest anything at the moment; we're a self-inflicted pain in the arse masquerading as a football team. "Reading" doesn't even fit the meter of this most boring and stupid of chants, so it gets shoe-horned in as "Super Reading".
"Super Reading"? What next? "Reading 64"? "Reading Wii-U 3D"? FFS
Just stop it. Think of something better. Or at the very least, think of something less obviously completely totally not fucking true.
James (only slightly bitter about the performance at the weekend), Leeds
An Angry Ram
After watching my team, Derby County, beat Blackpool over the weekend on Sky, I thought I'd write in to express my mild frustration at a little bit of 'analysis' that often does the round of commentators, pundits etc. I seem to remember the mailbox enjoying a few discussions of irritating commentator cliches, so it seems up the readers respective alleys.
If you somehow missed the match (as if, ha!), Blackpool took an early lead and proceeded to drop deep. Derby dominated possession, created a decent amount of chances, and early in the second half caught Blackpool on the break and were awarded a dubious penalty (dubious meaning, there was a bit of contact but the striker milked it). The match finished 5-1 in our favour.
So of course, despite most things suggesting that a comfortable Derby victory was on the cards, the result was attributed to the dodgy penalty 'opening the floodgates'. The f*cking floodgates. Because that makes sense. It makes sense that Blackpool definitely wouldn't have conceded any goals if that penalty hadn't been given. It makes sense that a professional football team are bound to let in more goals if one slightly unjust goal goes in. Blackpool could have been the better side, despite all evidence to the contrary, but the referee had to spoil it.
The floodgates don't exist. If Blackpool deserved a result, they would have been able to utilize the remaining 43 minutes to stop us scoring any more, and score more of their own. Same goes for any other team (I'm not meaning to attack Blackpool here, well, not directly anyway). B*llocks to the idea that it's 'psychological', too. I know footballers are reputed to be mentally immature, but surely one unjust goal isn't enough to destory their ability to do their job. The floodgates are a go to excuse for managers and fans, and an easy topic of discussion for talking heads. If 'the floodgates opened', it's because your team were sh*t and allowed them to do so. Bah Humbug.
The Left Banke > The Four Tops
While Mediawatch was understandably keen to display his/ her hipster credentials with the reference to The Left Banke I think it's worthwhile noting that most people will probably 'get' the headline by virtue of The Four Tops cover of the song (number 3 in the UK charts according to Wikipedia).
I'd also recommend a listen to Baby I need your loving...
Adam (has anyone noticed how bad the defending in Serie A has got?) London