Mails: 'My suggestion to Pep...'

United rightly credited throughout the Mailbox, but it's the advice for Pep Guardiola that brings a wry smile (16 league defeats in six years). Plus why Atletico are Europe's heroes...

Last Updated: 02/04/14 at 09:51

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United v Bayern Conclusions
- Finally, Moyes set up the team with a clear, concise plan against a big team. Starting Welbeck on our left side with Giggs tucked inside and behind was a very obvious but nevertheless shrewd decision from Moyes to give Buttner protection. Carrick sat well in between Fellaini and Giggs, who as a result had the confidence and freedom to press Bayern surprisingly high at times when needed, but also had the discipline to plug gaps when required. The energy across the midfield was refreshing and United only looked stretched the few times they committed going forward. A textbook plan well executed.

- Bayern were really rather disappointing, with De Gea only making one (brilliant) save. United finished the game with three defenders and six midfielders, but moments of panic were rare. Of course there's still a fair chance they'll steamroll United in Bavaria, but from what I've seen Bayern a brilliant team, but the unpredictable flair and flamboyance of Robbery has been minimised as a consequence.

- That miss from Welbeck. Sometimes he makes it so difficult to defend him, but I can't help it, I love the boy. He really should've slid the ball low. Neuer was on one knee when he slapped the ball away, so wouldn't have been set to block off the near post. But atleast he had the (arguably misplaced) confidence to try the dink, and was unlucky to have his first half goal disallowed.

- Shinji Kagawa was again largely impressive with little hints of brilliance, with tidy footwork and sharp passing. His off the ball work is very subtle and clever, but he also provided the same defensive cover as Giggs did. Kagawa has almost had the tag of a luxury player who can't be trusted to do the dirty work, but he showed enough desire, intensity and concentration along with technique in his 45 minutes to show he can and should still be an important part of United's future.

- Valencia was lucky to finish the game. That tackle could've conceivably been a red on its own. It lit up all the usual red flags: 50/50 tackle with the ball running away from him, both feet off the ground, studs showing, strong follow-through. It makes Schweinsteger's red seem tame in comparison, was foolish and unnecessary and could've led to a very uncomfortable ending for United.

- Moyes will be pleased and rightly so. United were given no chance, and the fact they are still in the tie after the season they've had is an achievement in itself.

Helping Pep Improve His Team
I haven't watched Bayern much this season, but watched a fair bit of Barca over the years and I can't help but think that Pep is the master of his own downfall.

Last night they totally dominated possession, but what the hell good is that if you concede and can't score many. Quite frankly Bayern never really looked threatening, whereas United looked like they could score when they got near the penalty area - and if Wellbeck was close to being a footballer, he would/should have scored.

Bayern were at their most dangerous when they tippy tapped it in their own penalty area, forcing United to spread out and leave spaces the play. Obviously, this carries a risk that if you lose the ball you'll concede something, or that the other team will just let you do it and take the draw. Even then, Bayern weren't exactly lightning in attack and United just got back to defend.

They also only did this a couple of times. Most of the time they just kept possession in the United half with no cutting edge - and when you're playing a well drilled team, even the most incisive of teams is going to come unstuck.

Moyes got his tactics spot on last night, and while I detest saying this, thoroughly deserved a draw, and in my eyes could/should have got the win they and their fans deserved.

Lots has been said over the years about Newcastle under KK and Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers. But there's one key factor, they score goals because they make the other teams believe they can score - and therefore seem to intentionally keep the game to be open and allow for incision and creative flair to lead to goals. Even when you have great strikers, they still need space to operate and when they're surrounded by 11 players in the box, that's going to be tough.

If you never let the opposition come out of their penalty area, pressing and winning the ball back normally just leads to another 3,000 passes before another hoofed clearance or a misdirected shot.

My suggestion to Pep - give the ball away a little, take a few pot shots and don't be scared to lose every now and again, it might even help you improve as a team.
Rob, London

Super Marouane
I would just like to take the time to write in with my expert, detailed and non-bias analysis of the Man Utd game, even before full-time: Fellani is sh*te

I thank you for your time.
Tom C

...I really don't understand why, every time he played against us in an Everton shirt, Marouane Fellaini bullied, bossed and controlled us ... now he's wearing our shirt he can't pass, he can't tackle and, FFS, he can't even head the ball !!!

He's six foot four inches tall, yet he can't outjump and win standard headers against players who are six inches shorter than him ... why the hell not?

He makes Peter Crouch look good in the air, and that really is saying something.
StellaMan - Stowmarket

No Dive
At first (and subsequent) viewing it may appear that Wayne Rooney dives over Schwiensteiger's tackle and makes the most of it to have him sent off.

Good news is that he didn't. He never would. He said so:
"I'd never dive. I'd like to think of myself as an honest player. That's the way I play. I don't like diving, football doesn't need it."

There you go. That's that settled then.
Sammy. Lfc. USA

Players Had Some Fear
Loving Moyes is deep. Guillaume Nery deep. Once again, it must be said, he probably didn't do too much different to any other game this season. The difference was the level of concentration and commitment on the pitch. Fergie had the players constantly primed. That was his ultimate achievement.

They were always going to relax when he departed. Take they're foot off the gas that little bit that made difference. There are plenty of other factors for the recalibration of standards this season, but it's the psychological relief of the constant tension; it's the absence of the power behind "the hairdryer" that has been most apparent. Fergie instilled a fear of failure that no-one could replicate. No one.

What we saw tonight, was that those levels are still there, but that the players are no longer living in fear to deliver them game in, game out. They can dig it out for themselves, but after the behemoth of Fergie, no mere man can call on it time and time again, game in, game out.

Yup, the circus would love the top job in English football to be under threat, but the infuriating fact (for the media and phone -in show experts) is, Moyes is the man; he'll be given time. I could go on and on, but there's no need. United are starting from scratch. A new beginning, It'll take time. Adjust your expectations because Liverpool never did.
Joe Donohue

Not A Pep Fan
I wrote to you after the Bayern v Arsenal game about the 'extreme gamesmanship' of Guardiola's teams and how they use histrionics to their advantage as a means of keeping possession etc etc.

In light of this, I'd just like to take a moment to revel in the extreme irony (is it irony? I'm not even sure) of Bayern, and especially Guardiola, complaining about an opposition team/player diving. I almost spat my drink everywhere when it showed Pep doing that diving gesture on the touchline.

This is the man, lest we forget, who in the Arsenal game was seen warmly applauding one of the most cynical fouls I've ever seen by Javi Martinez and (in my opinion) actively encourages his teams to dive, feign injury and generally be a bunch of odious berks.

In fairness, Valencia should have walked as well but I guess what goes around comes around. Boateng probably did him a favour by forgetting he was supposed to roll over 10 or 15 times for a few seconds and by the time he remembered the ref had already made his mind up.
Ashley, Burnley

Atletico Are The Heroes
Decent point raised by Phil regarding the merits of which potential title winners, Liverpool or Atletico Madrid , deserve more credit. For me (as a Colchonero) there can only be one winner: Atletico. This is why.

1) TV revenues in Spain are woefully stacked in favour of Real and Barca unlike the collective agreement of the self proclaimed "Greatest League in the World". Granted Atletico still get more money than others clubs like Valencia but the gulf between the Spanish duopoly and the rest is insane. See for yourself. Also my 02:57 alcohol induced maths may be incorrect but I reckon that the Bale + Neymar fees = More than the entire Atletico squad combined.

2) Atletico have had to sell their best players recently to finance a colossal €300 debt. See Falcao, Aguero , Forlan, , Torres , De Gea et all and soon to be Diego Costa and probably Koke. The club have invested "some" money on players in the recent years but its pittance compared to Europe's elite.

3) You could argue that the Pool had to rebuild from the horror show that was the ownership of Hicks and Gillett? Sir, I raise you Jesus Gil! A man who actually did all of the following: punched a fellow president, abused a judge, threatened to feed his players to his pet crocodile, sacked 44 coaches in 17 years , scraped the youth system thus sending Raúl into the arms of Real Madrid. Granted he passed away in 04 but the legacy of calamity continued. Wonder if Rafa could have worked with him?

4) Ok Liverpool's long wait for the league title is less than Atletico's (1996) but sure the Rojiblanco's were also relegated into the second tier of Spanish football four years later. Fair enough the more recent years for Atleti have been good with two Europa Leagues and a Spanish Cup but even Souness/Hodgson didnt get Liverpool into that sort of mess.

5) Finally correct me if I'm wrong but I think the current title chasing squads of Barcelona and Real Madrid may be a wee bit better than those of Man City and Chelsea. (Understatement of the century)
Paul (Some hit from Diego though!)

Let's Not Shower Levy With Praise
I cannot agree more whole-heartedly with David's email regarding Levy doing a better job than Sugar. For those of us old enough to remember the Sugar years (or indeed Irving Scholar before him) it is a time dominated by mid table mediocrity and only the odd flawed genius raised us from our seats.

Since Levy took over we have seen inconsistent but steady growth and this is success for Spurs fans. Only the most deluded see us winning leagues. In my 35 years of supporting spurs we haven't come close.

That said, I am frustrated by what has happened this season. AVB could have got it right. We weren't playing well, but we were in the running for 4th and doing ok whilst playing turgid, insipid football. Another season or two could have seen it all click. Liverpool have shown what sticking with your man (and keeping hold of your prize assets) can do and with AVB, Levy lost his bottle in the face of unfair media criticism.

The recent years have been good for Spurs. We even had a dalliance with the Champions league where we felt like the nerd who lucks out with the fit cheerleader in those films we don't believe. At least the season wasn't over by FA cup third round day like it was so often in the 90s. Whoever we appoint needs the time to get things sorted and Levy needs to keep faith with project.

Sunday was the lowest I've felt for a while... I don't mind them not being good enough, but not trying just isn't on. It should be used as a warning to chairman who prematurely sack managers in the hope that the grass is greener. In Sherwood's works there is no grass... Just a barren, featureless desert.
Jim Bags, Bedfordshire

I just want to let you know that today I watched all 10 of your top 10 own goals, and today in my 2nd meets 3rd game in 11 a side, I belted a beauty into my own net with the outside of my left foot.

F**k you F365. F**k you.
Silvio Dante

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Why Doesn't Rodgers Play Borini?

One Liverpool supporter thinks this could be Fabio Borini's year, whilst we also have thoughts on the Red Bulls, Welbeck vs Gervinho and Paul Lambert's new deal...

Could Arsenal Benefit From Top Four Exit?

That's one idea in the morning mailbox as the Arsene Wenger debate rumbles on. Plus, comparing Welbeck to Gervinho and some advice for Greg Dyke and the FA...

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