There are some harsh words for Manchester City and Manuel Pellegrini in the Mailbox this morning, as well as some rather nicer ones for Tony Pulis and his magic hat...
We have a long mail on why Giroud isn't very good at all, plus some more thoughts on neutrality. Plus, who do you want out of you club this summer and Liverpool moving buses...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leave Moyes Alone!
Please just let David Moyes get on with his job. It's hard enough as it is. As a United/football fan every time I come onto your site all I see is a different headline involving the awkwardness of a decision that David Moyes has made. If you are so interested in football surely something to do with the match-fixing scandal is currently more relevant instead of bashing an 'easy target'?
Or do you just love the fact that United are currently struggling so much?! Maybe in the league but we're about to finish top of our Champions League group. Will you be promoting how well he's done there? I think not.
Kind Regards and end of my rant.
Adam (Enjoy the struggle while it lasts because it won't last very long)
Spreadsheets And Clean Sheets
I wonder how revenue from sales of Man Utd's assortment of replica kits, branded duvet covers and tea cosies compares to the same period last year?
Man Utd's American owners may not care a great deal about clean sheets and goal lines...but spreadsheets and bottom lines? You now have our full attention Mr. Moyes.
Over the last four years Manchester United have somehow managed to win the Premier League twice and finish runners-up twice, with a squad which in my opinion has just got progressively worse. They are quite possibly the greatest team of overachievers ever, much as it pains me I have to agree with Ally, an Arsenal fan, United just got lucky.
Alex Ferguson should be congratulated for managing to get the best of a group of players that do not make a team, now he has retired David Moyes has been put in an impossible position. I am not a fan of Moyes but I am in the group that says stick with him although there is certainly no short-term fix.
I also believe that Moyes was chosen because he was a cheap option and because of his achievements at Everton, managing to work with very little budget boosted only by selling of prize assets. Fearing the reason United have taken him on is because they do not have the financial clout to attract a top manager or players due to crippling American debt, it looks like we will have put up with a team that are heading to mid-table mediocrity. The biggest problem will be once Rooney, Januzai and RVP have gone, is there anyone out there prepared to buy any of the others?
Graeme (Not expecting much from United for the foreseeable future)
United: Too English
United being crap is down to one thing: we have too many English players who are either crap or at the very most decent, but nowhere near world class, the likes of Young, Cleverly, Smalling, Jones, and Carrick. We're the only team trying to compete for the title without a Spanish or German outfield player in the team. And that is Fergie's fault.
A Five-Point Plan For Moyes
I have been somewhat inspired, by the onslaught of 'Moyes Out' and criticism he has faced thus far in his tenure as manager of Manchester United, to compile a five-point plan to guide the young upstart through this tumultuous period of transition. The reason for this is because the feedback I see from the Mailbox is fairly accurate but lacks any genuine suggestion of improvement and also by the headline on the main page of Moyes' so called four point plan, which is essentially him teaching his grandmother to suck eggs. The plan goeth thusly:
What has become eminently clear is Moyes is not a tactican, a man who seeks to evolve and develop the game as players' techniques, culture and methods metamorphisise year upon year. Alas, he does not need to be. What he does need to do is develop a system and a style effective in producing results in the manner and image he expects his United team to play football, whilst getting the most out of the personnel he has inherited. It pains me to says this because this tactic seems to have become fashionable thanks to Brendan, but the 3-5-2 system seems ideal. It's a system my Sunday league manager preferred as well, as he said the two on the wings can drop back to defend but also gives the flexibility to press higher up the pitch when you want to be offensive, pushing the two wing-backs further into midfield as wingers. Rafael and Evra embody the qualities this tactic requires to work, defensively and offensively, while it also allows United to use their surplus of centre-backs to their advantage, with Vidic the solid rock at the back, enforced either side by Jones and Evans. This also allows Rooney and RVP to play together, in their more preferred advanced roles, and the likes of Giggs, Cleverley, Kagawa and Fellaini a more centralised role, as opposed to dropping deep or playing behind the front man, giving them more freedom and time to play the simple passes or hold up play and bring the wingers into the game. Hey, even the flexibility to have a go at a driving run through the middle theirselves. Also, this can be altered slightly to create a more attacking 4-3-3 formation by substituting one of the central midfielders, pushing Jones into the holding role in the midfield three and introducing the likes of Nani, Welbeck, Zaha and Januzaj, who bring pace and width to the side, but also without drastically altering personnel.
2) Ultilising The Squad
Although injuries to key players haven't helped, Moyes' weekly team selections have an air of a man who is still trying to work out quite what his best side is. A more definitive playing style as mentioned above with tactics will help, but the man needs to utilise the players around him a lot better. For a start, he needs to put a stop to deploying players out of position. Chris Smalling should not ever be played at right-back (are you taking notes Roy?) and should not be given a sniff at central defence. His positioning, aerial ability and awareness are seriously lacking. Valencia is another example of this. Kagawa is at his best centrally, despite going missing the last game or two in the middle, and the insistence to shoehorn him into the side by pushing him out wide severely weakens the impetus of wing play, as he will cut back inside and become lost in a sea of players, therefore losing the guile and vision the side can profit from having him in the middle, with the right support. Honourable mentions go to use of RVP, he should lead the line and never drop deeper and resist the temptation to bring Jones out of his best position at centre-back, unless utilising the aforementioned change of tactical approach. I would also like to mention as an aside, the emerging talents of the likes of Januzaj, Zaha, Lingard and Powell, the latter two out on loan, is encouraging, over-reliance on them is dangerous and will lead to burn out. For this example, see Raheem Sterling circa last season. Don't be scared to use them, but slowly integrate them into the team.
3) Instill The Fear
Without a shadow of a doubt, United have lost their fear factor. We have heard more than enough times that this, that or whatever else wouldn't have happened when Ferguson was at the helm, with the fingers of reason being pointed at teams not scared of coming to Old Trafford and attacking, combined with Moyes' negative and/or tentative approaches to games. The fear factor hasn't disappeared overnight, but it is borne of the mentality of only winning is acceptable, and to regain this psychological edge, Moyes must lead the example and start putting the fear of God into his players. Some have reasoned that being Scottish and shouting a bit was a big tick in the CV box for this managerial gig, so start doing it. Tear the players a new one when they turn in abject performances, it should not and will not be tolerated at this prestigious club. Make the big decisions and drop players who aren't giving 110% to the cause. When the players are sweating bullets to perform for their manager, the never say die attitude translates onto the pitch, and that will be a part of helping to change results. When results become consistently more positive, opposing teams will struggle to play to their full potential, installing the fear factor.
4) The Transfer Window(s)
The failure to signficantly address United's deficiencies could be blamed on many, however, that's in the past now. January should actually be an opportunity not so much to strengthen, because in fairness, Moyes is correct in his statement that the right kind of quality isn't always available in January and United should not buy players for the sake of it, but it should be an opportunity to clear the deadwood, to help see the woods for the trees and really identify how to strengthen and whom with. Nani, Valencia, Young, Anderson, Smalling, Buttner and Cleverley should all consider theirselves very fortunate to be part of the United team and the sooner they are out the door, the sooner quality replacements can be made. That is quality, not quantity. Although making the Champions League may affect somewhat their finances and appeal, they can still have successful forays into the market. I cite Alderweireld to Atletico and Aubameyang to Dortmund as real quality at affordable prices. Good scouting can really pay dividends, but as I said before, identifying the right players boils down to indentifying how you want your team to play. Who would I recommend? Kevin Strootman, Ezequiel Garay, Iker Muniain and Diego Capel.
5) The Backtoom Team
Although it was acknowledged as a shrewd move to appoint Phil Neville to a coaching role and bringing Ryan Giggs into the set up, because of their knowledge and experience of United, the overhaul of the previous coaching team can only be and has only been a detriment to the transition of Moyes' leadership there. So, address the weaknesses and don't be scared to admit mistakes and get extra coaching support. As an example, McClaren was available until going to Derby, do you think he would have turned down a return to a coaching gig for a one-year period at United? And what great experience and knowledge that would bring. How about Ricky Sbragia? Walter Smith? Even Meulensteen was available for a period of time! These might seem ambitious, but these are men who honed their crafts at United and surely owe a debt of servitude to the club (except Smith) to support it when times are tough, with the added benefit if enhancing their own coaching reputations. Use the resource and knowledge out there, combine ideaology, methodology and techniques to get the best out of this United team.
So Davey, if you are reading, there's some free advice for you. If you use it, feel free to take the credit, I'll just take a cheque in the post thanks.
The Moyes Myth
In response to Alex from Fife's mail about Moyes's lack of charismatic authority I thought I would carry on with the historical analogies when talking of the current Man Utd manager. Historians often talk about the so-called Hitler myth which was a concept that used propaganda to paint Hitler as some sort of mythical figure who could fix all the problems Germany faced through some sort of divine intervention channelled through him, despite lots of evidence to the contrary (Munich putsch anyone?). They even had posters of him looking like Christ (the Nazis were audacious sods you see!) Anyway on to my point. There seems to be a similar mythical following surrounding David Moyes. Amongst all the criticism he has been on the receiving end of, all the so-called 'experts' seem to agree that he will be fine in the end because he did a great job at Everton and can do wonders with limited resources. Now am I the only one who see's absolutely zero trophies and one FA Cup final as not that successful? I understand that for a club like Everton the title was never really a realistic objective whilst Moyes was in charge, but stuff like European qualification was and I think I am right in saying that was only achieved twice? Maybe three times?
As for the whole he operated on a shoe-string budget, I really don't buy that either when you consider he spent £9 million on Dinyar Bilyaletdinov and £8.5 million on Andy Johnson. Sure he may not have had as much to spend as Fergie or other managers, but he was given enough and never really took Everton anywhere.
I do wonder whether he will do well at United, to be honest I really can't understand why he was hired in the first place, just because Fergie said so shouldn't have been enough to hire a manager who has never achieved anything to get the biggest job in English football, especially considering there were some far more able coaches available.
I seem to have lost my historical analogy a bit but never mind. To sum up can we please stop perpetuating the myth that Moyes was a great success at Everton, he was only ever mediocre with instances of brilliance.
Andrew (knew my degree would come in useful one day)
Martinez' Everton Overhyped
Nice to watch the rise of Everton right now, but while the media is banging on about how much of a genius Martinez is and how much better off Everton is with then they were Moyes I can't be the only one thinking it's ludicrous?
Enjoy it while it lasts, because this is as good as it gets for Everton.
Lukaku and Deulofeu won't be there next season, Barry and Pienaar have both revived their careers under Martinez but they are both a year or so away from playing in the MLS, the center-back partnership of Distin and Jagielka are getting on a bit a swell. If by a miracle they finish in the top four amd they hold onto Baines and Barkley next season they'll still need three signings just to cover the loanees' departure, two to replace aging players then a further few signings to not lose ground on the others (Liverpool, Spurs, Manu etc) that would be challenging them for their fourth spot. And when you have too many new faces we've seen what happens (Spurs), this ain't Fifa or Football Manager.
Martinez at best will only be able to equal what Moyes has done.
Charlie #moyesin Gooner
If My Auntie Had B***ocks...
Inspired by this in your Winners/Losers section today on Laurent Koscielny:
'Indeed, it's probably only his unfortunate penchant for the clumsy, costly error that means he isn't considered one of the best defenders in Europe.'
Danny Graham: Indeed, it's probably only his unfortunate inability to score goals that mean he isn't considered one of Europe's best strikers.
Sam Allardyce: Indeed, it's probably only his hideous face that means he isn't considered one of the world's most handsome men.
Charlie Adam: Indeed, it's probably only his being a dirty b**tard that means he is considered a dirty b**tard.
Chelsea Need A Striker Who Suits The System
As one mailboxer wrote about our striker woes, I thought I could elaborate on a little more.
What must a club look for in a striker (obviously goals, but the characteristics?) - First, analyse the current midfield and system of play (if ever something of that sort exists). Then get a striker who fits into the system. During Jose's first reign, we had a system where it was purely a physical counter-attacking midfield and we needed a big striker who could hold the ball and bang the goals on counter-attacks. We had Didier Drogba. Technically, expectations on him were not high (though he was damn good technically), he need not have to work hard, all he had to do was bang them in when it came. And he had a midfield to provide for the same. Take Torres for Pool - counter-attacking system where he was fed with so many through balls which is his forte and he flourished. The strikers at united during Fergie's years - pace (tick), power (tick), cunning (tick). Now you see why Berbatov was a flop at OT?
Now let's get back to the Chelsea conundrum. Since we began Barcelonalising our squad (if I may use the term), we have had small technically brilliant attacking midfielders. Now, this system has a necessary condition - a need for ball-playing central midfielders to control a game. Do we have that - No! Also, the system needs hard-working strikers who are also technically brilliant players with good finishing prowess. Do we have that - Torres of blue and Eto'o post Russia are not that (less said about BA the better). Without a player to win the ball and control games in midfield there is no structure to our playing style over the good part of the last 2.5 years. And in the chaotic attacking manner, the strikers are lost (additional to their uselessness). That translates to 0 goals in away games, five goals in the last 35 games in the Premier League. The orchestra is not complete. There is cacophony in the troupe!
While every other club has strikers with a system of play that supports them, we have neither good strikers or a complete system. What we have is a haphazard system with a load of attacking midfielders with no support behind or ahead of them. Therefore it's not surprising to see the trio of AM being our top scorers.
Aravind, CFC, Chennai (and we're still second in the league just five points behind Arsenal!)
Flamini = Kevin Richardson?
Loved it when Flamini came on and started barking orders, getting the team organised and cohesive.
Does Mathieu Flamini = Kevin Richardson for this year's vintage?
And if you're a supposed Gooner and have to look that up...well you're not really a Gooner, are you?
How about a 'club's greatest unsung hero of a particular era, when winning something/anything?'
Paul Chipperton, Toronto
Another Successful Successor
Have to take issue with Nick on his top ten of greatest successors. There's one startling omission.
I give you George Allison. Allison actually held the record of Arsenal's longest-serving manager before Wenger came to the club. He also had the unenviable job of taking over from the greatest club manager of all time when Bill Shankly was still playing football.
When Herbert Chapman passed away he won us our third successive title after Chapman had won the previous two - the only time we achieved this feat in our history. He also won the FA Cup and one further title.
And remember, Allison achieved all of this when the club was mourning the death of the father of the football club.
I don't contest Paisley's inclusion as number one on the list but the omission of Allison is a travesty in his appointment was an appointment from within. If you want to continue success the best way of doing it is to change the things that need changing and retain the things that need to be retained. I honestly think if Rene had got the gig and not David Moyes, United would be sitting in the top four places.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
A Long Wait
You could make Match of the Day eight hours long and there would still be feck all chance of insightful analysis from Alan Shearer.
That is all.