At Least United Won't Have To Play In Europa

It's a very thin silver lining, but at least it looks like no Thursday night Europa League for United. Plus Flanagan, going to ground, Fergie, and managers' coats...

Last Updated: 17/03/14 at 14:43

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At Least There's No Europa
David Moyes is the right man for United. As an Arsenal fan, I hope his reign continues for decades, but it has now got to the point that United fans should be hoping he stays til the end of the season.

While Champions League participation next season is not an impossibility - though they probably have as good a chance of winning the thing this year as they do reaching the top four - it certainly ain't bloody likely. So would United fans be happier with the Europa League or a year to focus on domestic competition?

Going from champions to not even playing in Europe might be too ignominious a fall, but just look at Liverpool to see the benefits. With no Thursday-night football and late flights back from Minsk etc., the squad has enjoyed a far less rigorous season than their title rivals. They've played nine games less than United and ten less than City, despite them having two league games in hand. Their game against United was their first in over a fortnight; that's not the only reason they were so convincing, but their freshness surely helped, and will continue to do so in the run in.

Which brings us back to Moyes. Replacing him, getting a bounce in results and ending up in the Europa League will only make next season harder. They are going to have spend a shedload on new players anyway this summer, because the promise of a trip to Salonika in early August is, surprisingly, not going to be enough to convince the players they target to drop their wage demands, so why not maximise the chances of getting back into the top four as soon as possible? All they have to do sink a little bit more, and who better to achieve that than a man so clearly out of his depth?
Will O'Doherty

Going To Ground
The subject of diving is again being discussed after the incident at Old Trafford on Sunday. Somebody in the comments section linked this video ( of Gary Neville highlighting the issue. In this clip, Neville makes a masterful argument about the grey area that is diving.

If you don't go down you don't get a penalty (Fellaini on Suarez). If a player anticipate a tackle coming in and the defender effectively impedes the natural movement of the attacking player (Vidic on Sturridge), why is contact needed for a penalty to be given? A tackle has been made that prevents the attacking player from completing the play yet most people act like the only criteria is if there has been contact. There is no mention of contact in the definition of a foul in the laws of the game. What people are really asking is for players to stand there and be taking out, thus risking injury.

Neville's final argument about defenders going to ground at the slightest of contact is also relevant. Nobody complains when a defender does it. Off course the reward is much higher for the attacking player but we constantly apply double standard without even blinking an eyelid.

Finally, is it any less disgraceful/cheating for a player to accuse a player of diving (Carrick on Sturridge) when they know fully well that they've just taken them out?
Nick (Moyes is a football genius), LFC, Berlin

A Reasonable Assessment Of Moyes
So there we have it. The team available to Moyes was better than any Sir Alex had available for the last couple of years. We stank the place out.

This can only mean one thing, and that is that something is massively amiss. Sure, if Robin could find it in himself to hit the target that would be grand. He was 'a touch' profligate last season in big games, but he at least had form and confidence then. Now he has neither and his barn door banjo shooting is becoming laughable.

It's not just about picking the right players in the right roles either. The team shape was theoretically our strongest, but you have to play the opposition, not just a blank team sheet. They also need to get used to playing that formation. Rogers picked players for a tactic, understanding where the holes would be.

But really it's basically clear that he could field a world XI and still come up short. Moyes is used to having better players available than his rivals in the chase for being just behind the chasing pack, and just about muddling through, as though Everton are a small time team. When faced with a better team, or a better manager he consistently came up short.

This is just not that type of job. And now, it really shouldn't be his. If he can't take at least a draw against our biggest rivals when playing at home, it's done. Surely, it's done. Even an unlikely tie-winning performance vs Olympiakos can't be enough (we'll draw 1-1 by the way, probably scoring a great goal that will do nothing to rouse the team).

At this point, maybe Giggs can just step in and hold the fort till the end of the season. He literally couldn't do any worse. At least he's respected.
Guy S (Off to the Championship, David, if they'll have you)

Fergie Needs To Pipe Up
Did Moyes ever really want this job in the first place? I mean really want it? Sure, he was given an offer that he couldn't refuse but if you actually think about what happens in The Godfather, that's not always a good thing.

In an excellent article in the pre-season, Andi Thomas wrote that United had got things wrong under Ferguson but that Ferguson had always been there to fix his mistakes: now that he wouldn't be there, United might get in trouble. Well, now United are in trouble but Ferguson is still there to fix his mistakes. In fact, he's United's only hope.

Ferguson made a series of very poor decisions off the pitch in his final year. United's title last season was an astonishing personal achievement for the manger but he put himself before the club. He shied away from his most important role at the club in his final years. Ferguson's final job for United wasn't to win one last premier league but to build a dynasty.

Ferguson needs to fix his mistakes and give the club direction. With each loss and each post-match interview it becomes clearer that no-one else at United can.
Angus LFC

You're Over-Thinking This A Touch
I think John Senior brings up a good question/point about the refereeing this weekend. I also found it (wonderfully) bizarre that the referee caught Matic's handball and Ramires' stamp, despite looking like he did not see either incident.

I hate conspiracy theories, but the idea that the Premier League has considered secretly using video technology to help referees in a behind-the-scenes way is not absurd at all.

But moreover, I'm just wondering: can anyone think of a reason why a referee would not be able to ask a friend or colleague to watch his match on television, and text/call/radio messages to him if he has missed anything or is about to get a big decision wrong?

In this case, Foy's mate sees the Matic handball or Ramires tackle and shoots a message over to Foy, who receives on his earpiece or watch or whatever and is able to change his mind. It sounds a bit James Bond-esque, but if I were a referee I can't say I'd be above trying to gain an advantage like that.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

We Guess Because He's Playing At Left-Back
There will be much deserved praise for Liverpool and Rodgers. While we have some exceptional players and some outstanding performances yesterday, I wanted to highlight the performance of Jon Flanagan. The moment where he breezed past Mata, held off Rafael trying to kick him to the ground, and made a little sly pass round Rooney summed it all up.

He was excellent. Like a young Carragher. Not the finished article of course, but on that wing, kept Januzaj, Mata and whoever else at bay and was a rock. While Johnson may be tipped to start for England, Flanagan actually looked far better and I've grown to be completely comfortable whenever the opposition start to attack down his wing.

I can't name an English right back (even though he was put on the left) who I'd prefer at the moment. Made these expensive, world class players look very ordinary. If he misses out on the plane to Brazil to Walker, Smalling or whoever, I'd be very disappointed.
Michael D'Arcy LFC

The 'Attempt' Argument
Tom, Manchester is correct in that there was no contact by Vidic,but lets be honest it was a stupid tackle where he didn't get the ball and nowhere in the rules does it say the tackle has to hit someone. In the laws of the game on page 36 it says

"A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any
of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be
careless, reckless or using excessive force:
* kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
* trips or attempts to trip an opponent"

Vidic quite frankly deserved to concede the penalty, it was a careless challenge and he was on a card. I don't condone diving but I don't know if you can shout at the referee for giving the pen.

And sorry, no one will give up on Manchester having had favourable decisions when those were the first penalties conceded at home since 2011 and Ferguson has left.
Anonymous (Koscielny is just as good as Kompany, if not better)

Neville Doesn't Count, Apparently
Merson. Souness. Carragher. Redknapp.

In the end Sky Sports selection of pundits was not the most disappointing aspect of my Sunday afternoon and I don't want to go all Points of View but it never fails to amaze me how often Sky skew the pundits on their coverage, quite often to a Scouse flavour.

Yesterday stands out as it is the most recent example but it seems to be a regular occurrence. The Neviller on the commentary doesn't count because as ever he was rightly trying to be unbiased in terms of rivalry but wrongly protecting his England mates. He could easily have been on the panel with someone solid like Alan Smith on the commentary.

There should have been a United man in the studio, as there should be for any club that is getting covered in a match. Edward "Teddy" Sheringham, as one obvious example, could have been used to cover both the United and Spurs angle in an articulate manner. Even give Yorkie in a great suit a shout. The media has obviously loved an ex Liverpool pro for a long time now but some balance wouldn't go amiss.
Parmjeet Dayal (The next trophy will be sweeter after these days)

What coat was Arsene Wenger wearing yesterday? No one knows. But every man and his dog can tell you Tim Sherwood was wearing (or throwing) a gilet. And Pellegrini wore a hoody last week, while God knows what Uwe Rosler had on.

Conclusion: No one cares what coat you're wearing if you win.

Pep Guardiola could've been wearing a pink, diamond encrusted, 'Justin Bieber World Tour' smoking jacket for the past year and we wouldn't have a clue.
Jamie, Boro

A Mail That Just About Squeaked In
I am writing from Canada, but was born and raised in England. I think I have a pretty good grasp on the vast number of ways the English language is mutilated in North America and usually side with the British way of speaking/writing. However, I've noticed an increasingly annoying trend recently. The phrase "just about" is very frequently used by match commentators to mean the exact opposite of what it DOES mean.

"The keeper did just about enough to save that", means that someone has scored a goal, not that the keeper finger-tipped it over the bar.

"He just about kept that from crossing the touchline" means that the other team will be taking a throw-in.

Why and when did this start?? Drop the "about", and you'll save yourself two syllables of breath AND be right.
Dickon Sandford

Your Honour
Of course I didn't rob that bank, I was playing non-league six years ago.

The Big Question
This biggest question that needs to be answered after the Manchester - Liverpool game is this: Does Phil Nelville go to the same sun-tanning parlour as Phil Brown, the forumer Hull manager?

I swear Phil is just as orange as Phil.

The MC Thinks He Has a McLovin Look To Him
I can't explain it, the lad is a good footballer but the thought that stands out when I think of him is; I don't like Flanagans face.
Joshua, South Africa

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h Daniel. I could spend hours on this subject putting the world to rights. You can even take a step back and ask why football fans (and society in general) have this need to know that something will happen before it actually does. There are times this important, when it comes to things like war, food production and natural disasters. A man you've never met changing his job? Not so much.

Time To Burst The ITK Bubble


reat article. Hits the nail on the head. Encapsulates why I don't read tabloid newspapers anymore. The only thing worse is the 'told you so first' headline when they get lucky.

Time To Burst The ITK Bubble

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Mailbox: Feeling Sorry For Poor TC23

If there's one loser in all the machinations at Man United, it's poor TC23. We have mercifully few mails on United, but lots on Arsenal and in particular Olivier Giroud...

Dear Brendan, Please Sign Di Maria

That's the request to Brendan Rodgers in the mailbox, and not just because it would annoy Man United fans. Plus, more thoughts on why Arsenal didn't want Cescy back...

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