Can Man United Match Arsenal's Record?

With United sitting on the same number of points from 20 games as Arsenal had last season, the mailbox ponders if they can replicate the Gunners' form to sneak fourth...

Last Updated: 06/01/14 at 15:14

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Blame The Glazers, Not Moyes
No, Moyes shouldn't be sacked. He is not the one who has shattered the illusion that had some opponents beat before a ball was kicked against United. The latter years of the Ferguson era coupled with the crazy Glazonics currently in operation are more to blame for the aura of invincibility vanishing from Old Trafford.

Moyes never stood a chance with the soft underbelly of the aging and mediocre midfield he inherited in July. He needed at least two world class midfielders. He didn't get any. The reason: the club can't compete in the transfer market anymore because they are saddled with debt to make a quick buck on Wall St.

Even as an Oldham fan, it was hard to watch the United transfer circus, which ended in the sham of paying four million more for Fellani than his original buy-out clause. The loud bleating in the papers linking the club with Fabregas and other world class talent without any real hope of actually signing them showed that without Ferguson (and David Gill) things had really fallen apart behind the scenes.

I think Sir Alex knew the writing was on the wall. I think buying Van Persie the year before was a retirement gift that saw him land one more title and leave on a high. Ultimately though, it was a short term fix. It left all the building of a new dynasty to his successor, Mr Moyes.

Except that, Mr Moyes has been royally screwed over. Whereas Fergie was always backed to the hilts in the transfer market through his United career, Moyes hasn't been from day one. He's been let down and left to rely on Michael Carrick (a very good midfielder but 32), Phil Jones (a promising centre back but a poor imitation of a midfielder), Anderson (not sure I need to say anything), Tom Cleverly (mmm, the jury is still just about out about his qualities) and Ryan Giggs (who turned 80 or something last year).

With such a line-up in the middle of the park, I don't believe Fergie himself even fancied competing against heavily strengthened City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham sides. It was always going to be a hiding to nothing for Moyes in taking the job, but the fact he's not been given the chance to put his stamp on a waning team should, as Alan Pardew quite rightly showed after the Newcastle game, garner our sympathies and hope he gets the time to show what a class act he can be as a manager.
Luke, London


But Don't Blame Fergie
So apparently Fergie bears some if not all of the responsibility for Davie Moyes' spectacular crashing and burning (so far at least), because he a) recommended him to the Glazers and told the fans to lump it, and b) left his successor an unbalanced and weak squad. I say this is erroneous on both counts.

Firstly the recommendation. I have written in on this before, but I suspect Fergie's choice was made knowing the owners and the restrictions in place. Mourinho, Guardiola etc were never realistic options for the Glazers; they wanted a yes man who would come in on the cheap, toe the party line and not complain. For all we know they had a shortlist of the managers below 5th in the PL last season (except Allardyce, they couldn't afford him) and at that time Moyes, outperforming expectations with Everton again, probably looked like the legitimate best option.

Secondly the suggestion that in signing RVP instead of a central midfielder, Fergie was selfishly focussed on winning himself one last title instead of looking at the long term. So he should have realised the problem that signing RVP would create for Davie and binned him for Phil Neville and Tony Hibbert? In all seriousness I think the squad was very well suited to Moyes with most players similar to their Everton equivalents and arguably all an upgrade. The only gap was for a robust central midfielder in the Fellaini mould - and this gap was duly plugged with the original, at great expense. Presumably it's Fergie's fault that this also backfired spectacularly.

Besides, say Fergie had signed a midfielder instead of RVP (which could well have been Fellaini anyway, as I recall they were very strongly linked with him particularly after he scored against them in the first game). This would just have transplanted the glaring hole from CM to CF. Given that quality forwards are even harder to come by than quality midfielders, they could easily now be sat with Fellaini and Jelavic instead of Fellaini and RVP - and not had that last title to boot. Though I suppose at least that would make Davie look marginally better in comparison.

All this can be summarised in two questions - do you think Fergie genuinely thought Moyes was the best manager in world football last summer, and do you think he would also have taken this squad from 11 points clear to 11 off the pace in four and a half months? We all know the answer to both of these questions and that is a damning indication of where the blame really lies.
Jon Gibson LFC (still wouldn't put money on us finishing above them though)


Good Point Made Here
I have just read Moyes' latest we don't have enough time to sign a top player in the window remarks and wanted to write in with my own two cents on the stupidity of this comment. Has it escaped Moyes that it is a world cup year? Players (the ones we want) will all be plying their trade in Brazil from the end of May (preparing) to the middle of July (taking knockout stages in to consideration). After this they will no doubt need a holiday. Every player we chase in the summer is going to lament "I am not thinking about my future until after the world cup". This essentially means you have from very late July to late August to sign that player. (One month). You also have to do so with every other decent club competing for his signature too.

In effect the January transfer window is going to be roughly the same length as the summer transfer window. Utd already have trouble attracting the biggest names and fall short on the money front at the last minute regularly. This is going to prove even more difficult if we fail to make Champs league which is a very serious possibility. Even if we scrape over the line in to fourth it hardly makes us look a shining proposition to the big hitters in world football.

There is also the possibility of Rooney jumping ship, Rio retiring, Vidic, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher the wrong side of thirty. Giggs needing replacing, Scholes still needing replacing. Couple these with the average joes in Cleverly, Young, Valencia, Nani, Welbeck etc....

If ever there was a window that United needed to get busy it is now. Failure to sign bridge-gap players now will ultimately cost Moyes his job. Is there anyone anywhere even in LaLa land that thinks United don't need to add genuine quality to their books? It is buy or die time and everyone knows it - bar Moyes.
Chris Crook (bet big or go home)


Record Breaking
Jovan (London), although I am sure you are a born and bred Manchester native you dont agree there is a crisis?

Let's look at some of the records Moyes has broken.....

First Everton Win at old traford in 21 years.
First Newcastle win in old Trafford for 41 years.
first West brom win at old Trafford in 35 years.
First Swansea win at old Trafford ever....EVER.
First time United were outside top 4 at Christmas since Premier League started.
Worst Start to a season since 1989/1990.
First time to have two consecutive home defeats in 11 years (actually I think he has done this twice this season).

I am sure there are many many many more records he has broken and plenty more to come.

My biggest fear is that they will sack him to be honest!

In David we trust!
John, (LFC)


Comfort
I just thought I'd throw this out to you United fans.

You have 34 points after 20 games, the same as Arsenal last season.
Arsenal had to be the best team in 2013 to JUST get 4th, level on points with Spurs. That was without the threat of Liverpool and the smaller threat from Everton. We went on a 18 or so unbeaten streak if I remember correctly,

Do you think you could mount such a run and make the top 4?
Anonymous (Might was well complete the bait, Gnabry is as good as Januzaj)


Weekend Thoughts
*I think Man Utd are going to play the long game with David Moyes. As stupid as it may sound, I don't think he's doing too bad a job with the waning bunch he's been left with. Fergie's left, and Fergie's main men (Evra, Rio, Vidic, Giggs) are all out of contract in the summer. Rooney will be in his final year, RVP too(?). Imagine the stick he would have got if he had sold these players last summer and got these results! At least the Utd fans can demand these players leave.
*On top of that, there's a reason why Moyes isn't doing anything major this January. He's waiting for a massive overhaul this summer.
*I like David Moyes, and he has proven with his time at Everton that he deserves the respect and time to be given a fair chance at this job. Let Fergie's hatchet men leave the club, and let Moyes sell who he wants and bring in his own hatchet men. I would imagine that Jagielka will be a Man Utd player this summer, as might Ross Barkley. Man Utd fans are only making themselves look foolish by demanding patience ahead of a transition season, and then demanding Moyes gets the sack when they go through said transition.
*No no no, "Suz, THFC"... Adebayor running the length of the pitch after scoring a goal specifically to goad the Arsenal fans is NOTHING like Spurs fans pelting an injured Theo Walcott with coins as he's prone and Theo reminding them of what the score is.
*That was very, very comfortable for Arsenal by the way.
*I'm no Allardyce fan, but even I think the calls for his head are grossly over-reactive, even after a 5-0 tonking at Forest. He's explained a few times that he had to rest players for the Premier League, and that was on top of a big injury list. To echo old Fat-Head himself, just what was he supposed to do!?
Dale May


Where Are The Angry Hammers?
Reading this morning's mailbox I was amazed to see no mails from anger Hammers, venting their fury at Fat Sam after the utter embarrassment of their performance yesterday.

Fat Sam is right up there in my top 3 of people I hate in football (Ian Wright & Paul Merson in case you were wondering) for a number of reasons - His mates in the media constantly referring to him as "Big Sam", (shouldn't it be "Bubbly Sam" or "Great Personality Sam"?) his dire brand of football, the fact he can't manage a team without employing Kevin Nolan, his neck being wider than his head, his ridiculously high level of self-importance and the fact that every victory is down to him personally, yet every defeat is someone else's fault

I was unfortunate enough to get in the car and have 5 live come on during 606 last night, with Ian Wright defending his mate. A Sunderland fan called in saying they were in the same position as West Ham i.e. in the relegation zone and with a cup semi this week, yet they put out a strong 1st team and progressed, whereas Fat Sam basically gave the cup the finger and was ready with his excuses before the game even started. Ian Wright's intelligent, measured response was that you couldn't compare the two because Big Sam isn't Gus Poyet.....at which point I rapidly changed channels before I drove in to a wall at high speed.

Can you imagine if a non-British coach had been in charge of West Ham? The tabloids would have been interviewing everyone from Geoff Hurst to the ghost of Bobby Moore to tear them a new one over the sacrilege, the lack of respect shown to the "greatest cup competition in the world" etc etc....

But even if the Davids do the right thing and show him the door, he will be due a huge pay off (15th highest paid manager in world football!??) and some other mug will no doubt employ him after his mates in the press blame everyone and everything. Still it sounds like AC Milan are looking for a new coach, I imagine the Rossineri have always dreamed of seeing Kevin Nolan playing as a false 9....
Mark James (Even starting to feel sorry for Moyes, well just a little bit) LFC


FA Cup Conclusions
As derided as the FA Cup has been in recent years, I felt that it did provide some interesting insights into the state of a few teams. Primarily, it demonstrated the depth (or lack of) that squads possessed. A few things I picked up from the games were:

*Surely if West Ham are going to sack Allardyce, the time is now. They very obviously need to spend in the transfer window, so surely if they are going to get a new man in, they'll want to be giving him the money to sign his own players. There's no point in letting Allardyce splash the cash to get in more players who play his type of football, and then sacking him in February/March.
*Brendan Rodgers would have been very relieved to have seen Aspas get a goal. The squad players at Liverpool really need to start pulling their weight a bit more, and in an ideal world he wouldn't have been opening his account in January against Oldham, but if Aspas can even chip in with 2 or 3 important league goals, it could be vitally important to Liverpool securing a place in the top 4.
*Yes, David Moyes is not doing a good job, and ultimately he is probably not suited to be the Manchester United manager but he is being let down terribly by his players. They seem to know that no matter how often/severely they lose, Moyes will receive the overwhelming majority of the flak. Man U's squad is far from vintage and there's significant room for improvement but the current crop are playing nowhere near as well as they could, and while the manager's job is to motivate the players, what can Moyes do when Fabio does something as crazy as that within a few minutes of coming on?
*During one of his frequent losses, one boxing commentator suggested that Audley Harrison's principle problem was that he was terrified of getting hit. Obviously this was a fundamental problem in the sport of boxing, and Chris Smalling seems to have a similar issue with his phobia of jumping and heading the ball. The two challenges he's put in recently on Adebayor and Bony have been beyond pathetic, and if he is going to continue to play, Moyes has to coach him to at least make the header somewhat difficult for the opposing striker.
*As an Arsenal fan, I have to admit that in recent seasons it's been neck and neck between us and Spurs, but this season feels like the first in a while that we are conclusively better than them. Their squad was obviously depleted on Saturday but this was also an Arsenal side in which Sczcesny, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Ramsey, Ozil, Flamini and Giroud didn't start. The ball didn't stick as well up front without Giroud, but it was noticeable how quickly we were able to get forward with a mobile striker. Giroud can really kill a counter attack with his lack of pace, but his strength and physique provides an option that not too many of the top teams have.
*Similar to the point about Moyes' culpability, Tim Sherwood did make a mistake playing a 4-4-2 like that, but there's only so much he can do when his right back is taking up the kind of positions Cristiano Ronaldo did for Man U instead of defending, and his left back is attempting Cruyff turns when he's the last man.
*Although some neutrals may find this hard to believe as he scores and assists loads of goals, Theo Walcott remains a divisive figure amongst Arsenal fans. A large contingent aren't happy with how he handled his contract negotiations and how his form fell off when he did eventually "sign da ting". He will have endeared himself to a large section of the support with his gesture and it's very inconvenient to have him injured for a month or so now. It could be a small blessing that he, Giroud and Bendtner are all injured though as it means Wenger categorically has to buy a striker this January.
*The draw for the 4th round might just be the worst draw in any cup competition in any sport in the history of the world
Brett (praying for Diego Costa, resigned to Berbatov) AFC


Weird Oldham Fans
There was no mail about Liverpool vs Oldham in this morning's mailbox since all bar 2 were about Man United (and probably this afternoon as well) so hopefully this will even the balance a bit and also break my 2014 mailbox duck.

Oldham fans' chants were weird. Their main chant was 'When the Blues go Marching In' with a different tune. Also, 'Oldham' doesn't really fit into 'Hey Jude' (an annoying chant, but at least 'Giroud' sounds a little bit like 'Hey Jude'!). Singing 'where's your famous atmosphere' after Suarez has just came on and the Kop is actually cheering was an odd choice, and 'the referee's a w*nker' has its own tune, with the 'Hallelujah Chorus' tune they used usually being used for insulting individual players with a two syllables in each of their names.

Is there a reason for the oddness, Oldham fans? Is it your inner hipster coming out, shunning mainstream chants like you shunned United and City? Are the guys who start your chants lazy? Or am I out of touch after swapping my Southport season ticket for uni?

Also, shout out to Peter Carney's Soccer in the City tour, it was a great warm up for the match!
Ben (Miiiicky Mellon is a w*nker, is a w*nker, wow I am out of date!), Southport


Chelsea Thoughts
Long time reader, first time contributor...some random half-way Chelsea conclusions:

- With all this talk of Moyes/West Ham's/Englands Cricketers awfulness, Jose Mourinho is quietly working away at turning my beloved Chelsea into a proper force again. After a very slow start to the campaign, we've become much more solid these last few weeks, as well as playing some of our best attacking Football of the season against Liverpool and Southampton.
- With that being said, if we don't buy a proper Striker in this transfer window, we won't win the league... it's as simple as that. Torres has shown glimpses of life these past few weeks but his finishing at times is woeful. Ba runs around like a clumsy, half-blind Horse. And Eto'o is 63 in March. We need reinforcements.
- With all of our attacking players (more on those in a second), if we had a proper Forward, we'd be phenomenal. At the moment we're like an artist who can only use cheap Poundland pencils. We have the ability, but not the proper tools to finish the job.
- Jose has recently come out and said that he has "the resources to achieve this seasons goals". To me that stinks of top 4 this season, with preferably a trophy and preparing again in the summer to mount a title charge next year. Were only two points off top, despite having been pretty sh*t for the first 3 months of the season, this is a great chance for the title!
- Onto our attacking Midfielders now. I love all of them, but I want to just praise 1 and that's Willian. Since Jose has given him a proper chance in the first team he's been very very good. He works like a box to box Midfielder and glides across the turf. Picasso would be the perfect soundtrack to a Willian montage. Also he has the best Football Chant in the World.
- Please don't leave Juan. I'd miss your handsome face.
Dan, Banbury. (Is it wrong that I plan to name my Child Super Frank?)

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may well get slated by other United fans for this, but out of the three contenders, I'd far prefer Liverpool to win the title. Yes some elements of their fanbase can be a bit OTT, yes they're our biggest rivals and yes it will make our poor season feel even more like the end of an era (Fergie's gone, Liverpool are back on top). However I just have to applaud Brendan Rodgers and the way he's turned Liverpool around in just a couple of seasons. It...

Mike_Christie
Please Stop Telling Us What To Think

H

ooray! We are all excited now, we beat a very mediocre team! With all due respect to WHU supporters, not winning that game shouldn't even be a consideration. This is the problem, there is no winning mentality at the Emirates - we're all congratulating ourselves beating a team that we have a winning record against.

TheWhiz
Wenger hails important win

I

s this meant to be an aspiration for United supporters? Moyes mediocrity strikes again. I see the Bayern boys don't want to sign for him, and his reputation amongst the senior European coaches make other key signings unlikely.

redbornandbred
De Gea's Europa League target

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Kieran's Not The Only One Keeping Notes

Another chap in the mailbox has been keeping notes on comments made by optimistic Man United fans. Plus, Garey Vance is offering a double-or-quits on his new tattoo...

Mignolet Is The Reason For Liverpool Flying

Mignolet's bad kicking is the reason for Liverpool's success, whilst one man keep notes on F365 mails. Plus England excitement, Arteta and a bad Walsall experience...

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