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No-Lose For Moyes
I was actually happy United got through on Wednesday (which has left me very confused). Contrary to popular belief, this is the best possible draw for Moyes. Nobody gave United a chance to get past this round and a spanking was roundly predicted regardless of who was drawn. This draw at least helps mask over the current deficiencies in the United set up because the retort will be "well they went out to the strongest team in the competition".
If United can put up a fight it will be a bonus. It is in essence, a free swing so to speak. No pressure, no expectation, no surprises if/when it doesn't work out. If by some miracle they manage to get through, the name "Moyesiah" will be banded about for the foreseeable future. It's a win-win situation.
Rich P (Degsy give us odds on Bayern clocking up a double digit aggregate score) LFC
Enjoy The Last Hurrah
As there doesn't seem to be too many big European nights in the near future for United this draw should be embraced. No-one is expecting United to win or even get a draw so enjoy the experience. Moyes needs to show some balls for the game and do something different. No-one wants to see Alex Buttner against Robben, so why not play Evans at left back? Pack the centre midfield with Rooney out left and Welbz out right. Or bench RVP and play Rooney up top on his own. Just don't be so stupid as to try and go 4-4-2 against Munich.
And rest players tomorrow. United aren't going to finish fourth, so rest key players against West Ham for the City game where you want to play with pride. Use the RVP injury as a chance to play Mata behind Rooney. Drop Carrick and play Fellaini and Cleverley.
With nothing left to play for in the league it should be time to experiment a bit to help prepare for Munich.
Kevo2424 (Fellaini to score the winner vs Munich)
So its David vs Guardiolath then. We know who won that time...
Already Nursing A Semi
I might be getting ahead of myself talking about this before a ball has even been kicked in the quarter finals but I noticed one thing in the draw that whets my football appetite even more. Before the draw was made the four teams that I would have picked that have a decent chance of winning the tournament were Bayern, Real Madrid, PSG and Barcelona (if even just for Messi). With all four of them after avoiding each other in the draw it could shape up to be an amazing semi final and importantly we are one step closer to the Bayern Munich Vs Real Madrid Champions League Final. Mouth watering
Kieran (I can't wait to see Chelsea get Zlataned) LFC, Cork
Why Liverpool Are Faves
Dear Shaun, Dublin.
May I explain to you why Liverpool are favourites:
•They have Suarez
•They have Sturridge
•They have Gerrard
•They have a tactically astute manager
They even managed to keep a clean sheet against Utd...
May I explain to you why Arsenal are to be consolidating 4th:
•You have Giroud
•You havent got Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere and Walcott
•You're Arsenal, and it's therefore ingrained in these players to ultimately fall-short.
Chris, (Somewhat ironic insinuating that Arsenal are the perennial bottlers...)THFC.
I've always sung Football 365 to the tune of "Now That We Found Love" by Third World.
Audrey S. Thackeray, sunny Ansher.
...In reponse to Stu, Chiswick in this morning Mailbox, I too mentally sing 'Foot-ball-three-six-five' but to the tune of Manfred Mann's 5-4-3-2-1.
So, Err, Yea...
Adam (Currently 318th in the The Conor Byrne Memorial Cup - A late surge and I'm back in with a shout) Eggs
Defending Townsend, Sort Of
To be fair to Townsend he can dribble. Unfortunately that is all he can do.
Been waiting for this subject to come up without wanting to seem old and grumpy, so thanks Dave.
Time wasting. My absolute pet hate. Not that I blame teams for doing it, but the referees seriously need to get a grip. Goalkeepers who, for no reason other than to waste time, walk the ball from one side of the goal where it went out to the other side of the goal to take a kick. Funnily enough, they never ever do it when their team is losing, so how can the referees not see it as blatant time wasting? Ridiculous.
Also, the fake head injury a la Javi Martinez. There is an actually quite serious issue here, which is the danger of concussion and second collision syndrome in particular. It's obvious when players have serious head injuries, but the slightest touch to anyone's head/face causes them to collapse in agony. Introduce, as in rugby (sorry), a concussion bin. It's very dangerous for players to continue when concussed so take them off the pitch for 5 minutes to assess whether or not they're actually injured. No excuse whatsoever to go to ground and stop playing in 99.99999999% of cases of "head injury", so I'm pretty certain it'd stop completely if players knew they'd be spending 5 minutes off the pitch with a doctor.
So easy to prevent, so irritating to play against, and yet the referees continually ignore it. And yet they're so quick to pull the yellow out when a player kicks a ball away in frustration, without any intention of time wasting.
Alex G, THFC (Dnipro, I'm looking at you)
...I enjoyed the list that Dave (getting old and grumpy) sent through and thought I'd share some the things that annoy me.
1. Failure to change stupid laws
Picture the scenario: a team defending a corner manage to get possession of the ball and initiate a quick break. Five players are steaming forward against two defenders near the half way line. One of these defenders (I'm imagining a Terry, Vidic or Carragher back in the day) rugby tackles the attacker to the ground and concedes a free kick. It wasn't denying a goal scoring chance per se, so the attacking team are 'rewarded' (i.e. punished) with a free kick on the half way line, that generally can't be taken until the defending team are all back in position. Great, thanks for that.
2. Not kicking a moving ball
Seriously... how is this still applied? A player wants to take a quick free kick but the game is stopped because the ball was moving or not in the exact spot the foul took place. Why does the law have to be so rigid and dumb? The focus should be on enabling a free flowing contest, not stopping the game unnecessarily and rewarding the offending team.
Games these days are hardly cheap (especially as an Arsenal supporter) so why does the referee casually watch as a goalkeeper cleans his boots / has a swig from his water bottle at each goal kick? When we played Newcastle last season, the crowd actually counted the seconds in between the ball going out and the keeper putting it back in play - usually over 40 seconds. The punishment? Nothing. Zip. Nada. Really great way to spend an evening in the rain, £70 poorer.
4. Freekicks given to defenders
It happens in every single game. A defender gets the ball in a difficult position and an opponent quickly closes them down. Do they conjure up some world class skill to go around them? Pick out an intricate pass to get out of danger? Perhaps they play it safe and knock the ball out of play? Nope, they fall over and land on the ball. 100% guaranteed free kick for, at best, the most minor of touches. It's amazing how every referee allows this to happen - the defender should either be yellow carded (seeing as we're all so against diving) or play should continue.
5. The pretence that goal line technology was needed to make the game fairer
Sure, of course it does but the message seems to be: not awarding a goal when the ball crosses the line = unfair on the team but all other cases of wrongfully allowed / disallowed goals are fine. That's just part of the game so deal with it. Awesome - we now clear up the 5 or so contentious decisions a year but the hundreds of others cases of injustice are just a consequence of the game.
6. Football hard men
Seriously, the game has gone from having genuinely terrifying people labelled as hard men or enforcers (Vinny, Keane, Vieira) to the modern day variety (Savage, Barton). Wtf? Also, it now seems that the regular acts of utter cowardice shown by Ramires and Rafael, who now earn the label of 'tough guy' because of the regular acts of disgraceful thuggery. Cowards / thugs / cheats, yes. Hard men, no.
Just thinking about these gets me worked up in a bad way and makes me swear I'll never watch a game until they're changed. This will pass by tomorrow morning but return after seeing Ivanovic flop on the ball after Gibbs coughs on him.
Andrew H (Thankfully Ramires can't injure any more of our midfielders tomorrow)
... In response to Dave (getting old and grumpy)'s email about things that annoy him about football, I thought I would add my 2 pence worth.
1. Why aren't foul throws ever called nowadays? Almost every throw-in taken seems to be in front of the players face!
2. When someone is taking a penalty, why is it now okay for everyone else to run into the box? When Gerrard took one of the penalties in the United game last week, Henderson was basically standing next to him!
3. Whatever happened to contested drop balls? They are genuinely brilliant.
4. When Andy Townsend says, "That's better!" after an english team has done something vaguely near the standard of a proper team.
5. When fans on the internet change names to be mildly derogatory. I think the worse ones of these include but are not limited to: Slur Alex, Manure, Spuds and Chavski.
Dan (something in brackets to prove my shift key works), Medway
Carrick Has Long Been Poor
In response to RedArmy, I don't understand how you're surprised by Carrick's poor displays. Last season was his best ever at Utd and whilst he played well he hardly bestrode the pitch like a midfield colossus, scoring, assisting, dictating. He merely did a good job. His high point as a Manchester United midfielder was doing a good job.
His first season he was replacing John O'Shea and Giggs who had finished the previous campaign as our centre mid pair and even then he only looked alright. His Utd career bar last season has varied between the dizzy heights of bang average to the depths of there being talk of him getting loaned out in January a few seasons ago.
All we get from his defenders is that he's not the sort of player to score, or assist, or tackle, or control a midfield. He's made a career out of receiving the ball from his centre backs and either playing it straight back to them or passing it to the full back. If you give him plenty of time and space he can pass it but Jesus any professional footballer in his position should be able to do that. When pressed he falls apart, he looks to get rid of the ball like its an armed grenade and frequently goes hiding. That he's our best central midfielder is not a strong reference for him it's more a damning indictment of the gradual decline from the days when we the immense presence of Keane and Scholes.
With regards to the Champions League draw, Bayern or Barca were who I feared most. Robben v Buttner, Ribery will get Rafael sent off, Carrick, Fellaini and Giggs or Rooney v Kroos Schweinsteiger and Thiago! We may just try to park the bus and hope for the best because if we try to play them then the three-nil home defeat to Liverpool might look like a good result.
Give Soldado A Break
Soldado needs chances created for him to score, Tottenham do not create chances to score. Tottenham currently cannot really pass the ball through our own midfield. The issue may well be a lack of adaptability but, until we have a manager who can actually coach our midfield and introduce (heaven forbid) an element of penetration to our play, it is unfair to judge Soldado. For two long years we have predominantly played lateral football in front of the opposition, have had players who don't seem to realise that they actually need to offer various positional options to the man on the ball, and generally not had a clue what to do when faced with an organised team (i.e. most of them).
Instead of prematurely writing off the £26m we spent on the obviously talented Soldado, we could save far more than the amount we'd lose by shifting Tactics Tim and bringing in a manager who can get our players to remember how to play football a little more complex than 'pass to Ade and hope something happens'. A manager who won't drop him after ending his drought with a crucial-at-the-time winner. Then, if he still looks like he's won a competition to be a PL player for the afternoon, by all means write him off. Until then, stop being so mean to lovely Bobby.
Alex G, THFC (not sure to do with myself now the football season is over)
Something a bit diff for Friday, football books!
Football writing (IMO) has reached incredibly high standards over the last few years (I think mainly because so many people do it now), so I thought I'd wade in with some of the stuff I've read that I've enjoyed and not so much enjoyed.
Barca: The Making Of The Greatest Team In The World: Staying on the Hunter theme, I'm sure most have read this. I really, really didn't like this book at all; but oddly would say it's worth checking out. The structure is all over the place, the repetition borders on farcical at times. And I guess it would help if basically every page didn't say "BARCA ARE DA BEST MOURINHO SUX". But Hunter does have access where others don't, and there's all sorts of tidbits and details that are really interesting.
Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning: Yeah, I went on a bit of a theme with an Amazon purchase. Sue me. Ballague's book is quite good, again he has access to detail you probably wouldn't have otherwise read. I dunno, the more I read pieces about this Barca team the more I realise I don't really like Guardiola's incessantly sanctimonius persona. But again, it's good and easy to get through.
A Life Too Short - The Tragedy of Robert Enke: Everyone's heard about it, if you haven't read it yet. Do so. Right now. Really spectacular (and harrowing) piece of writing from Ronald Reng.
Thierry Henry - Lonely At The Top: Hands down, one of the finest books I've ever read (regardless of genre). For full disclosure, I should probably say I'm an Arsenal fan, as is the writer Philippe Auclair. But by no means is this a love letter. If anything, Auclair tells you things about Henry that you really don't want to know and it's quite uncomfortable reading at times. But there's a balance, and you're left to make up your own mind about the man. Really brilliant writing.
Be curious to hear other people's thoughts and recommendations (and please no one mention the underground hit "Inverting The Pyramid" - yes it's very good but we've all read it now). Does anyone read The Blizzard? Enjoyed it at first, but there's only so many articles on the history of Ugandan third division football you can take in.
Sandeep (Oops...forgot to say, F365 has great writing too! Please print this), London