We have some conclusions from Louis van Gaal's perfect start, plus a dismissal of fantasy football, worries about La Liga's greediness and thoughts on Real with Ham-ez...
One Mailer is telling us to hold fire on our Woodward criticism, whilst we also have some wonderful PFA Team of The year geekery, a well done to Vieira and much more...
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Do United Fans Want The Europa League?
While watching the Liverpool-Arsenal game yesterday with a few of my cohorts we discussed the possibility (or lack thereof) of United making it into Europe next season. So here's a question for United fans, would you rather...
Sunderland won the League Cup, a team outside of the top 6 made it to the FA Cup final and thus only 5th got into the Europa League? Or would you prefer it that City won the League Cup, the FA Cup final was competed by City and either Arsenal or Everton and thus 7th got a spot in the Europa League.
That's based on the assumption that United got 7th place (by no means a certainty) but I'd personally opt for the latter. As much as I don't want City to win anything (ever) and as much as I dread the inevitable "Thursday Night, Channel 5" goading (you reap what you sow, but to be fair its been on ITV4 for ages now!) I think its more important to get into the Europa, give the kids an opportunity in the early rounds and, if we make it through, earn some Uefa co-efficient points. A season without Europe might not be the end of the world but it would ultimately see us drop out of the top group of seeds when (/if) we get back into the Champions League and probably remain out of those spaces for the foreseeable.
Mike Coxon, HA2 via Northwich
Rooney's Contract: A Case For The Defence
Nick Miller makes some valid points about Rooney's wages being generally obscene, but I thought I'd offer a case for the defence.
First, the argument we've already replaced him because Mata and Januzaj can play the number 10 role too simply ignores that none of those can play the striker role he also fills, and whilst yes we have Van Persie, he is 30 and prone to an injury or two. This is what Moyes meant when he (ill-advisedly) said publicly that Rooney was important if anything happened to VP. Behind him we have the non-prolific Welbeck, a rather one-dimensional Hernandez, plus the youth. That's not good enough for a team like United.
So accepting a replacement is needed, it's also already widely accepted that we need (1) a left back even without Evra leaving, (2) a right back to stop Valencia being played there and noting that with Ferdinand and Vidic leaving Smalling and Jones will actually have to play centre back, (3) a centre midfielder (...still), and (4) a winger who Moyes doesn't want to farm out to Cardiff. In an era of Financial Fair Play, that's a tough ask even without sticking a decent striker on the wish-list. Sure we have some money in the bank, but as Chelsea have shown we'd have to sell to raise decent funds, and Rooney is one of the few bankable assets we have (I'm assuming we all want to keep Januzaj, Mata, VP, De Gea, and that no one is going to pay big money for Bebe). Unfortunately, despite the fact a club would be buying a ready-made, world class striker in the prime age of his career, he only has a year left after this, so any transfer fee agreed would reflect that.
Turning then to the argument that not giving Rooney a £300k per week deal would free up the funds in itself, it's misleading to suggest that would give us £200k per week plus £36m for a replacement. To be fair Nick does say he uses crude maths. I'm guessing they were £300k for 5 years v 200k for 4 years, so I'd immediately counter that a better comparison would be a contract over the same period of time, which means a new world class striker for £26m. At that level of the market nowadays you either find someone like Rooney who's run their contract down (hence Chelsea's interest) or you take a risk. Sure City picked up Negredo for £22m in the summer and he looks every bit the beast, but Tottenham picked up Soldado for £26m, which is a lot for a bloke who takes penalties. Plus with Moyes' record so far (a post release clause premium £27.5m player not at United's level, and a £37.5m publicity statement who doesn't fit our current needs) would you back us to find value?
Finally, even if we do identify a target and have the funds, we'd be up against the likes of City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Barca, Real Madrid, PSG, Monaco, Bayern Munich, who can all (and this hurts...) guarantee Champions League football next year. This means we'd have to rely on (a) the brand being a large enough pull despite Sir Alex not being there anymore (let's all accept Mata came for first team football in a World Cup year rather than anything else), (b) pay them a wad of cash and so get ripped off anyway, or (c) rely on the allure of them coming to play with (the few) world class players already here, to which losing Rooney would be detrimental.
The solution, however distasteful, is therefore simple: either keep Rooney with a mind to use him, or tie him down to another contract to simply ensure that we'll receive a proper fee, which can be used to rebuild. For precedent, see the Bale deal in 2012 that took him to 2016 despite already having a 4 year deal in place from 2010, simply because Levy was teeing up a sale in 2013. I'm not saying we'd get that much money, but the principal is the same and, in the meantime, we have a match winner on the books who has already dragged United through many a game and can be used to promote the club.
David P, Manchester
...Whether it's the articles, the mails or Nick Miller's piece on Rooney's new contract, the general consensus seems to be that it's a ridiculous amount to offer a player like Wazza.
What I do know is that none of these pieces seem to take into account just where we'll be come the summer transfer window and what it will actually cost us to replace him with a player of similar calibre. It's looking increasingly likely that we'll not finish in the CL spots. Hell, at this rate we may not even reach the Europa League.
F365 has covered (at length) the negative impact Moyes' appointment is having on the club - yet when talking about where the Rooney money may be better spent seems to ignore the fact that this might make it more difficult to attract players of CL quality. Despite the fact that you have also repeatedly covered this elsewhere.
So we let Rooney walk for free, or at least a low amount. Great we've freed up some cash. But then it turns out that we're forced to overpay for other players to lure them to a club currently not playing in Europe.
I'd rather we overpay for Rooney than overpay for another player who clearly isn't wanted that much by clubs actually in the CL. Besides, if he does want off - better he be on a 5 year contract, surely?
And of course, £300k per week seems like a ridiculous amount of money. But I have no problem with the likes of Rooney earning £15m a year as a key member of one of the richest sports clubs in the world.
If you look at the top earners in any highly lucrative sport, this is the kind of money they're on. Golf, Tennis, NFL, NBA - Rooney is at the bottom end of what top players earn and I don't begrudge it to them one bit. What I mind is the players bench warming, the players in the lower leagues earning vast amounts of money when they're not actually a key part of a machine generating the kind of revenue which warrants that sort of salary.
Marky B. MUFC.
...Reports from the summer indicate Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United. Since then, negative headlines and opinions circulate regarding Utds ability to hold onto their best players. An aura of doom is cast upon the club as they expect to part with their prize possession.
Recent reports suggest Wayne Rooney is on the verge of signing a lucrative contract extension, with supposed extra club privileges. Negative headlines and opinions circulate regarding Utd richly rewarding a player who has behaved dishonourably in the past.
I may be harbouring scouse levels of paranoia, but the majority of articles from this website seem to portray any Utd stories from a critical viewpoint. Surely from an objective perspective, Utd keeping arguably England's best player and not potentially selling to a direct rival, can only be construed as a success. For those of you that aren't aware, Rooney gets paid fairly handsomely as we speak, so a slight increase on these wages shouldn't necessarily represent Utd caving in to pressure from Rooney and his advisors. Maybe it should represent that Utd, after years of austerity in comparison with richer clubs in the league, are displaying signs that they can financially compete. The thought of buying a striker possibly without premier league experience and having Rooney playing for a rival is a much more worrying proposition that paying him a few extra quid and providing him with a bit of transfer information.
Yes, More Trophies Make Someone A Better Player
As preposterous as any man earning £300,000 a week is, I think that F365 are particularly harsh in their summary of Wayne Rooney. It is obvious that he is an overpaid, overweight, and at times very poor looking footballer, he is also a marquee name and is probably the most marketable player globally in the Premier League.
If Gareth Bale was worth £80million and a £300,000 a week contract to Madrid after winning the grand total of f*ck all at Spurs, then what is Man United's multiple title winning, soon to be highest ever goal scorer worth to them? If they as a club want to prove to the rest of the world that they can attract the best players, then surely they want to keep the ones they have? If they were to let him leave in the summer, in what would be a cut price transfer, who would they replace him with? RVP wants out and will most likely leave, if Rooney goes there is a pool of about 5 or 6 players who are of the same stature as him to replace him with, and none of them are likely to go to the red half of Manchester with no Champions League football.
The stat of 1 goal (against Hull) in his last 9 has been thrown about a lot on F365 today and yesterday, but stats can fit any argument when given without context. For example Luis Suarez has 1 goal (the meaningless fourth against Everton) in his last 7 games, the only sides in the top 10 he has scored against this season are Spurs and Everton in routs, 17 of his 23 league goals have been scored against sides currently in the bottom 6 of the league, I believe that the bottom half of the league have regularly been described as 'dross' on this site all season. Yet no articles bemoaning how a player with no record to speak of against top sides in the premiership and no European pedigree has a £70million price tag and was given a £200,000 a week contract after demanding to leave the club last summer. The disgusting parts of Suarez's on the field behaviour have been widely covered, but put him in the exact same situation as Rooney with contracts and only one person gets negative publicity for it. On a side note to this, has Suarez got Adebayor syndrome? Gets a new contract and his goals are drying up, maybe he's just going through the motions waiting for the summer to come...
Impressed By Pool's Improvement
Whilst I am a big fan of common sense from referees, there are certain things in football that CANNOT be tolerated and the key one is placing a hand on the referee. For Webb not to punish Sterling for raising a hand to him is to let down all those Sunday morning referees who have to put up with abuse and worse from players and parents. What he should have done was called the captain over, and then booked Sterling whilst explaining to Steve G that his player was a lucky boy not to be sent off. (Especially as Stevie G would know about being a lucky boy not to be sent off!!)
Whilst Webb missed many things yesterday (second penalty for Liverpool, Gerrard booking), by not dealing with one key point correctly, he let his whole profession down.
Tim Benson (please tell me Gibbs is fit for Wednesday, I can't do another 90 mins of Monreal!!)
So the short-lived dream of a double is over, courtesy of some excellent goalkeeping and of course Howard Webb and his box of controversial refereeing decisions.. It was a really pleasing Liverpool performance away from home and although we were on the wrong side of the result there are plenty of positives to take from the game.
The biggest one for me though is how gutted Liverpool looked after the game.. I realise this sounds strange but this is now a Liverpool team that went to the Emirates expecting a result, expecting to win. At the Emirates. Against Arsenal.
The progress this team has made it just 20 months under the talented Brendan Rodgers has been outstanding. As Liverpool fans we should count our lucky stars that this chap turned down Chelsea and Spurs to manage Liverpool Football Club. With the backing of the board and hopefully some astute signings next summer (no more of the £7-8m pick~n~mix basket please) I think the future is looking very bright indeed.
Let's rock on now and make one last push for the end of the season. We might not be favourites for the league, but we're not going to make it easy for anyone else either!
Dazza, LFC, Dublin (Honourable mention to the Ox who looks to be turning into quite the player!)
More Webb Moans
I couldn't help but chuckle this morning when I saw Arsenal fans bemoaning the fact that Steven Gerrard didn't get a second yellow. I'll admit, I was concerned when Gerrard made the challenge because it was one of those that are occasionally given yellow cards for. The thing is, though, Arsenal got away with some too. Podolski and Monreal in particular both got away with blatant yellow cards not given. Podolski's sliding, scything down of Flanagan a few seconds after the ball had gone was a particular highlight (and orders of magnitude worse than Gerrard's challenge), and how on earth Monreal didn't get a second yellow for raking his studs down the back of Joe Allen's leg is beyond me.
Bottom line is, if I were a Arsenal fan, I'd be staying as hush as possible over yellow cards not given.
Not that - as a Liverpool fan - I think that it is necessary to point out we were hard done by by the ref to still feel positive this morning. The performance was excellent at a ground we have historically struggled at - just a bit of uncharacteristic finishing from Sturridge meant not only that we didn't win, but that we didn't win comfortably. If we put in that kind of performance in the rest of our away games this season then Champions League is returning to Anfield in the next. I haven't felt this positive about my club and the direction it is heading since Rafa was there.
As for Arsenal, well I hope they go on to win the cup - if only to stop some of the criticism Wenger gets for not having won things recently. He can be irritating at times but you guys have a top manager there (although you don't need me to tell you that, I'm sure).
Have You Told Him About The Mailbox?
My dad turned 60 the other week. He's a Fulham (and Coventry City fan). He never e-mails me. He never phones. I woke up this morning to find this sitting in my inbox. I'm impressed.
I just googled Felix Magath and this is what I got...
He apparently spent the best part of €70m on new players in 18 months without having a clue how to use them, "Magath has simply lost the plot. Players keep popping up in unlikely, unsuited positions, then get banished from the squad only to re-appear in other, even more unfamiliar roles some weeks later." (No change there then! - Paul) (bonus points for not even saying dad - well done. Matt)
It would appear that he is a strict disciplinarian who has upset many players in his career, and isn't afraid to sell players soon after he has bought them if they don't react to his harsh methods. "Some players are especially motivated against former managers, especially against Felix Magath," said midfielder Roman Neustädter. "The fact that Magath constantly runs into players who want to get their own back has become a permanent competitive disadvantage"
To top it off. Magath used to be called "Saddam!" behind his back by some players.
SW6 style.. Business as usual - Paul'
All valid points - thanks Dad.
Matt (I'm hoping for a weekly Fulham update but not holding my breath)