Jose Mourinho is getting a fair amount of credit for what Chelsea did to Tottenham while Daniel Levy and Man City are defended. Oh and there are more penii...
Is it a sacking offence if Arsenal don't win the FA Cup from here? Is it the players, the manager or the board who should go at Spurs? We have a bumper mailbox...
If you have anything to add on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cruel, Cruel Trick
I just now convinced a Man U supporting colleague that Moyes had just been sacked. Unfortunately I could only keep a straight face for about 15 seconds but in those seconds he went from surprise to joy and then to the crushing realisation that I was joking.
I can see him right now sitting over there at his desk staring into space. I'm sure his phone is ringing too and he's not answering.
Cliff Mallinder, AFC
Go to your favourite search engine website, and look for images of 'war chest'. I wonder if any manager in the history of football, ever, has actually been 'handed' one of these by a chairman or an owner.
Kagawa Has Made Us Look Silly
As a United fan I've spent a fair bit of time this season with my head in my hands, doing that thing where you ruefully run them up and down your own your face; the frustration and friction leaving your eyes red and irritated. The process always completed with a deep sigh.
Simply, Kagawa has been a massive disappointment in a season littered with them. When he wasn't given an opportunity we shook our fists, gathered our pitchforks, lit our torches and took to Twitter in waves to deride Moyes. He doesn't know what he's doing, he doesn't know how to use Kagawa, we're being robbed of exactly the sort of player we need etc.
Well, he's been given the chance. A few of them. And hasn't sparkled in any. I was desperate for him to snatch the opportunity and prove our whinging correct. He's made us look a bit silly, to be frank.
That's not to say he can't and he won't turn it around, but let's not bury our heads in the sand. He has had the minutes to impress and make a spot his own, but has so far failed to do anything to suggest that he deserves more.
Kagawa Is Symbol Of What Could Have Been
Lay off Kagawa's defenders. Somewhere, down the other trouser leg of time, United didn't sell Ronaldo and Tevez, didn't lose Quieroz, weren't bled dry by Uncle Malcolm, and continued to invest in the squad. In this alternative universe, Berbatov might have flourished at Old Trafford and become the Cantona-esque presence he was meant to, Nani developed into a reliable winger to complement Ronaldo, and Anderson really did become better than Kleberson. United might have bought any of the players they've been heavily linked with since 2008 (Ozil, Sneijder, Lucas Moura, Hazard, Herrera, Modric, Fabregas, Thiago, Garay, Gaitan, Witsel, Defour...I could cry), might have won the Champions League in 2010, and could have introduced Morrison, Pogba, Januzaj, Smalling, Jones etc. into the side as Giggs, Scholes, Vidic, Rio etc. aged.
Instead, United have drifted, sold or lost their key assets, failed to develop their young talent, and watched clubs whose only merit is a sugar daddy (Chelsea, City, PSG, Monaco etc.) overtake them. Kagawa is a symbol of what might have been, and what United should be about. Young, talented, technically gifted, attacking, and suited to attractive, quick football. If a certain type of United fan defends him excessively, it's because he, almost alone in a squad of ageing stars, disappointments and mediocrities, is a reminder of what United should be.
Chris MUFC (please resign David)
United Should Save The Pennies...For Now
I am a Manchester United fan of 28 who has never seen a United team like this, and trying to be level-headed and not draw conclusions on Moyes until the end of the season. However, as the transfer window is open and the masses call for some signings, or some more reactionary fans calling for Moyes head on the goalposts, or to burn down the Sir Alex Ferguson stand as this is all his fault; I would like to offer a slightly different view to the - at least temporary - solution that the focus should be on. It's one Moyes seems to be hinting at; sign no one, and have 'like a new signing players' (i.e recall all the kids out on loan instead), and use the cup CL and League Cup for the fringe/youngsters.
The first reason for this is generally accepted by most, very few players who would significantly strengthen the team are going to be available or want to come to United right now. There is possibly one exception to this being the Brazilian Everton, a signing that may have some merit. That being said panic buys or lower-standard players, run a much higher risk of doing more damage to United's image, which seems to be most concerned fans' issue.
So why then would bringing back the youngsters be a better plan? Well I think for that reason we have to look at the two teams above us; Liverpool and Everton. Everyone seems to be in agreement that they have a huge advantage, as their teams will not be stretched by cup competitions. Everyone also seems to be in agreement that many of United's players are old, creaking, and/or not up to the standard required, to challenge on all/any fronts. Therefore, why not bring back Keane, Tunnicliffe, Powell, Lingard et al and put them in the remaining LC and CL games, and let them push the usual suspects for a place. United have a very low chance of progressing much further than the next round of the CL anyway, so why waste the strongest players' energy and risk injury to the few key players United have? And let's be honest, even if United win the LC football fans will be united in deriding its importance, no player will join or stay on the strength of winning that competition. However, what an opportunity for the club and its youngsters. The club get to see if there is any genuine talent and the youngsters to feel they could really push their way in to the first team. I imagine Pogba would be in the side now had he hung around and Ravel M. must be thinking had he had is head on straight there would never have been a better time for a youngster to push for a place in midfield. Who knows? United could feel they need one less player in the summer.
The January transfer window should - if for anything - be Moyes opportunity to show one attribute of Ferguson that he should want to replicate above almost all others; if you're not good enough, you're out. Top of that list should be Anderson, then whomever he see fit to get rid of. Make it clear that it is because they are not good enough or, don't put enough effort in for him. Hopefully the under-performers Young, Hernandez, Kagawa, Buttner, etc (assuming he didn't cull any of those) would realise their mediocrity wont be tolerated any longer. Apathy, inconsistency, and a lack of fear in the players' performance is one of the biggest problems (it existed in some of the play last season too I feel).
For me there is the only one achievable and important goal left this season. Failing to achieve that goal will make it tougher to sign anyone. If Moyes wants to keep Rooney it will be the only way, it will at least buy him time to show some intent in the transfer market come the summer. If there really is a 100-200M available to him it means that come the summer he can cut the oldies without fear of losing the experience or quality they offer.
I think all the above would show some balls from Moyes and if he pulled it off, would silence critics by showing a plan and some skill in pulling off fourth place from the current position. At the end of the season I will make my judgements on Moyes and the squad, and I hope whatever way the club go about things United finish at least fourth. Maybe Moyes has different/better plan, to me if what he is hinting at is as above then I think it is the most sensible option.
I suspect some to say United should play to win every competition and to which I would say they didn't set out to lose any but priorities have changed and reality dictates this season. Those who may say 'try convincing Rooney or RVP that the CL isn't worth trying in', to which I say no individuals are bigger than the club (plus I rather expect they have accepted the CL is out of reach).
Maybe I'm missing something, thoughts mailbox?
Danny (tried so hard to say club/United instead of 'we'! I'm a supporter not an owner/player/staff member.)
On Moyes' Transfer Record...
As a card-carrying ABU I really didn't want to have to back up Moyes in this witch hunt but Seb Greenwood's selective memory on Moyes' big-money signings at Everton and his belief that 'pretty much every time he was backed with at Everton he wasted the money' deserved a response.
Let's take £5m+ as the basis of a big money signing at Everton and look at who he signed in. Beattie, Kroldrup and (you'd have to say) Jelavic didn't come off, fair enough but we all make mistakes *cough* Anderson *cough*. But that's three out of a total of nine £5m+ signings Moyes made in his time at Goodison. Lescott for £5m was a steal, Baines for 6m looks great business, as does Fallaini for £15m and Miralles for £6m. Don't think those four can be argued with to be honest.
That leaves Yakubu at £11.25m and Johnson at £8.6m. Johnson scored a goal every three games and was sold on for a profit and Yakubu had a similar strike rate over a fou- year career at the club but without the big-money transfer at the end. I'll give you Yakubu but I'm taking Johnson. That gives us a final tally of five good big-money signings against four. Not the best record in the world granted, but certainly not one that suggests he wasted Everton's money every time he was handed it now is it?
I'm also a bit iffy about whether he should be punished for picking up the likes of Howard, Jagielka, Arteta and Coleman (60,000 and now the best RB in the League!) on the cheap.
Niall (going back to laughing at United now) Dublin, Ireland
Get Rid Of The Old Guard. Fast.
As an Arsenal fan, I would take any opportunity to aim banter at ManU fans, but that is not the reason I am writing this email. I always felt (and publicly declared) that the retirement of Sir Alex would have similar transition-effects on ManU as the Arsenal move to the Emirates stadium. Believe it or not, in all our trophy-less years, the silver lining is that we have become experts on transitions - for big clubs at least.
Six-seven years ago, Wenger was heavily criticised for dismantling the Invincibles squad too quickly. Vieira, Campbell, Edu, Silva, Pires, Bergkamp etc. were all gone within two seasons of our last trophy. Many felt that caused a lack of leadership, stability etc. but as you soon learn with Arsene, the man had a point.
AW could have kept them longer, falling into a trap of thinking the Invincibles could do something special again. But instead, he got rid of most players either at their peak or just after (crucial also for financial reasons) - when we were arguably the best side in Europe. He could have grown complacent and milked out the remainder of their good years but he realised that the stadium-transition years would require a different kind of footballer - if we were to remain competitive at least. The youngsters (Cesc, Nasri, Clichy, Theo et al) would give their all to make a name for themselves and achieve the bare minimum - Top Four.
Those fourth-place finishes must look like gold in the eyes on ManU fans now and my advice to Moyes would be as follows:
You can't competitively get through the transition years with all of Rio, Giggs, Carrick, Evra, Vidic etc. What does a 35-year-old with loads of medals have to offer to a club in transition? The only thing worse than seeing old players struggle is also having to believe they are the hope for the future. Imagine you had four or five Januzaj-type players spread across the team. Now that would give hope for optimism to the Old Trafford faithful.
Forget the sentiments. Get rid of the old guard. Fast.
Lindelwe 'Lee' (cant wait for Wenger's autobiography) Moyo, Durban, South Africa
Get Rid Of Moyes. Fast.
Joy asks 'would Fergie win anything with this squad?', erm well yes he would, the title last season in fact or does that not count?
Okay so Fergie left United with a deeply average squad and neglected the midfield for far too long but the team should be playing better than they are and in contention for a top four place. Of course it is still too early to predict where United will finish this season but at this moment in time there are certainly five or six teams better than us and performances do not suggest that we will get any better. We are yet to witness any progression under Moyes, just decline, who seems stuck in the eighties with regard to his tactics (and training methods so it is rumoured).
How do we get out of this predicament before going into terminal decline? Get shot of Moyes who should never been appointed in the first place because he has absolutely no qualifications for the job, Fergie can see us through to the end of the season when we should go balls out for Klopp or somebody similar - a progressive young manager who tries to play football the right way. I could take not winning anything if we played decent football but we are now playing the most dire, negative direct football for which Moyes is famous.
To those United fans who say United never sack managers I give you two words 'Wilf McGuinness'. The club saw that it wasn't working when McGuinness replaced Sir Matt and took action; I would hope that the same thing would happen now if things haven't started to improve by the end of the season.
Moyes = Hughes
Thinking about this United situation and its all starting to look familiar.
A few years back a Manchester club gave a huge transfer fund to a 'highly thought of, never had funds before' respected British manager in Mark Hughes. Hughes took his funds along with new Chief Officer Gary Cook and promptly began an embarrassingly chase for Kaka that made everyone look foolish and got us nowhere. After looking around Hughes decided to settle on paying over the odds for former player Santa Cruz. He then brought young player Stephen Ireland into the team from the Youth Team/Reserves who the fans took to as he was 'promoted from within'. Hughes brought in Vincent Kompany, who as a youngster looked an accomplished centre-half, to play in midfield and then he then spent the rest of his funds on paying over the odds on decent players (Lescott, K Toure, Adebayor, Bellamy), on average players (Jo, Bridge, Ben Haim), on a keeper we didn't need (Given) and to be fair on very good players (Tevez, Barry, De Jong, Zabaleta).
City then proceeded to lose to some very poor teams and produced some incredibly inept performances at home (Burnley 3-3 springs to mind), being dragged through games by own stroppy yet brilliant talisman Tevez whilst also progressing to the knock-out stages of a European competition and also the League Cup semi-finals. Change the names from Kaka, Cook, Hughes, Cruz, Ireland, Kompany & Tevez to Fabregas, Woodward, Moyes, Fellani, Januzaj, Jones & Rooney and it is very similar to what is happening to United at the moment
Gavin MCFC - to be fair, thank you Hughes for Kompany and Zabaleta
MASSIVELY Defending Coutinho
Clearly some of the entrants into the Top 10 MASSIVE disappointments is intended to be somewhat controversial.
One of those included and at a high number 3 was Philippe Coutinho. I was surprised at this because he has not exactly been lousy. But I guess Sarah wanted MASSIVE improvement and hasn't seen it. But would have been nice if Sarah had defined MASSIVE at the beginning of the article to give us a clue.
But there was no thoughtful view on how the manager has used Coutinho for much of this season compared to last. Coutinho was played centrally for much of the last season and able to play a more involved role. This season, Coutinho has pushed more to the right. Just as Henderson was played mostly to the right last season. With Henderson being given a more central role, Henderson has shone. But it has been at the expense of Coutinho getting that central spot. It seems Rodgers has some work to do to accommodate Suarez, Sturridge, Coutinho and Henderson to get the most of all four. It is a great thing and who can complain when Liverpool have played much better football, are scoring and constantly looking dangerous. And showing there is still room for improvement.
(Coutinho has played five times through the middle and ten times from the left this season in the Premier League. He's missed a boat-load of chances from both positions. The point was that he helped to change Liverpool's season when he arrived a year ago and he's gone backwards rather than forwards - Ed)
We don't see Mata on the list - Chelseas's best player last season and one of the best in the PL - because he is not getting game time. But isn't that a massive disappointment. I was expecting to see more from Mata this season. But I guess Sarah recognised it was much the manager as the player - pity Sarah didn't see that for Coutinho.
And what about Eriksen, Lamela (he's in there - Ed, Jelavic (ended last season really badly so expectations were low - Ed), etc, etc.
Nobody Looks Good In Lallana Saga
I really enjoyed Tom Young's piece welcoming Lallana to the 'football soap opera' and to be honest Im pretty embarrassed by the whole affair as are many of the fans I know.
To be perfectly frank Clattenburg is a s**t ref and I think that the club have just had enough of his unique brand of turdesque officiating and have used this as the excuse required to have him banned from reffing our games. Lets all be fair, it's not the first time that Clattenburg has been accused of saying something inappropriate to a player and I'm sure it will not be the last. Regardless of how you or I personally feel about the actual statement and whether it is indeed offensive to us, we still need to consider whether it is within the realms of the referee's role to inform the player of this apparently personal view.
Surely if the ref has an issue with the player, or his attitude is so belligerent that it is warranting action then thats what the cards in his pockets are for? Not to say "you've changed as a man since playing for England" that to me sounds like a comment only spoken to either a) annoy or b) elicit a negative response.
Even then I'm not defending Lallana either, if he has said something so bad as to get that as a response then maybe he needs to address how he approaches people. I firmly believe respect is a two-way street and to get respect you need to earn it. I've said all along as soon as a player gets in that England squad they seem to have think they have "made it" (despite the trophy hauls indicating quite the opposite in many players cases) and you see a change in attitude. But that's true of all human beings so what Clattenburg's point is I'm not sure. I reckon there's a few people who may feel that Clattenburg has changed since become a Premier League referee. (ahh there's the point!)
I honestly think they've seen what happened when Chelsea kicked off and when Everton complained (first time he reffed them in six years after the shocker in 2007 and waves away a definitely arguable penalty, to me that smacks of appeasement) and figured it was worth a punt to get him off our backs for a while.
My own, honest opinion, is that all the parties involved should just be a bit more mature about it. Clattenburg shouldn't have said it, Southampton players shouldn't of harrassed him, The clubs shouldn't blindly defend players or have a strategy to get a ref removed simply to serve their own needs, the official referees covent (or whatever they are called) shouldn't dismiss the criticisms out of hand and twitter-based turd-snafflers shouldn't be so obsessed with online ridicule which in 99% of my experience seems only born of jealousy.
Nobody has come out of this smelling of roses.
I sometimes think it was better playing MK Dons. At least people only gave a fuck about the football.
Flawed Rather Than Fraudulent
Sarah Winterburn listed Ashley Williams (and the rest of the Swansea back line) as part of her massive disappointments so far this year. Yet a look at the Whoscored.com ratings lists Chico Flores as the 37th best player in the entire league, and Ashley Williams as the 66th, the latter only three places behind Laurent Koscielny, who everyone agrees has been superb this year. Is it possible that these ratings, at least for centre-halves, are a bit...fraudulent?
PeterG, Pennsylvania, USA
A Book Recommendation
This Christmas the missus, okay you got me, my mam bought me one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received. Granted, Christmas has changed, I am 22 and the thrill of unwrapping presents has been replaced with reading well-written sports books but nevertheless, this was a belter of a book. Graham Hunter's 'Spain - The inside story of La Roja's historic treble' is simply a dream to read. It offers a brilliant, behind the scenes insight into the culture of Spanish football, offering a view of the difficult setting that the Spanish team found themselves in before Euro 2008, with the public and press calling for the manager's head, only for Aragonés to win Spain's first senior major title.
This book offers more than a simple detailed description of how Spain played and trained for these tournaments, It provides an insight into how the national academy has been set up to bring success at all levels. The culture that this academy has created shows how Spain have become, as Xavi describes, one big ego, not 13. It also offers a great insight into events that changed Spain, from Raul, Salgado and others being dropped (an ego Aragonés no longer wanted) to the Mourinho effect, both on El Classico and the national side, the Portuguese becoming Spain's biggest opponent. For example, those wondering why Casillas was dropped will learn is has to do with a friendship with Xavi that began when they joined the same Spanish side aged 14.
The most intriguing part has to be the culture the Spanish players bring to tournaments. Occupying secluded villages, they are afforded time off almost every day to spend with their families, they happily gather for activities between double training sessions, they split bottles of wine with lunch and dinner (even on match days) and are afforded nights on the town. As Hunter points out, such freedom would simply be taken advantage of in some national sides, but the Spanish clearly thrive in this environment, and understand the boundaries they live in, and the repercussions if they push them.
For those who haven't yet, I would advise purchasing Hunter's book, filled with personal interviews of players, managers, rivals and even Graeme Souness. Hands down the best sports book I have read (although I haven't branched into the novels penned by the people of Football365 just yet, so what do I know).
In response to today's Ian Wright '12 Questions' column in the Sun highlighted by Mediawatch. It reminded me of the famous Two Ronnies Mastermind Sketch 'Answering the question before last, each time.' Wrighty certainly did a good impression of little Ronnie Corbett there.
Narayan (You can hear the anguish in Kelly Cates' voice each Sunday on Radio 5 Live's 606 with IW)
...No way. No f*cking way were those answers genuine responses from Wright, no way were they actually printed.
I can't bring myself to buy the Sun or look online to see If this is real...but just no way.
So let me just clear this one up: basically, United can still attract players but might not be able to without Champions League football, but then maybe if Rooney stays?
Ian Wright: the new emperor of the mindf*ck.
Jack, 19, London
More On Ogden...
As well as suggesting that United might benefit from signing Lescott, he also suggested that while Rafael is a good player, he is very strong when attacking but a little suspect in his defensive duties, so suggested that Kyle Walker might be a suitable replacement.
That's The Time...
Is that an hour of full on love-making or does my three mins of heroic endeavour and 57 mins of farting and sleeping burn 120 calories?
Toby 'CTFC' Hudson
Somebody Wants To Turn Us Into The Daily Mail Online
Just thinking while reading the mailbox (New Year and all that) some letters in the mailbox are ****. Some are ****ing good. What'd be lovely is to have a thumbs up/down for each letter. Then you could see how popular letters are and give readers a warm glowy feeling if they're letter was loved, and make them feel worthless if not.
Just a thought.
Maybe put it to the vote... oh.