...what happened to the fourth Champions League place the last time an English team won the thing. Plus, who would want to pay £60 to watch the current England team?
A Sunderland fan in the mailbox is surprised by Jack Colback's call up to the England squad. Plus, thoughts on Welbeck and Liverpool's Champions League draw...
If you have something to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We're Supposed To Be Happy With That?
I would honestly love to start getting excited about our chances, but I find it too depressing to see fans and pundits saying how well we did against Bayern. Let me just point something out to you...
Bayern scored an away goal. They literally have to do nothing else in the return leg except keep a clean sheet.
This wasn't some great tactical play from Moyes, we set up to stop them humiliating us at home (which was a good plan probably, but still) rather than to go at them. We played directly into their hands in many ways, and though they would probably have preferred to get more from the game, THEY are the ones who should be happy with the result. Not getting spanked is not a traditional ambition for United.
Have to say, though I've never been his biggest fan (thanks to Torres skinning him each and every time), that header from Vidic was absolutely majestic. World class. I don't actually know how he did it, but hat firmly off to him for it.
Welbz...oh boy, I am a big fan of his but I just wish he'd learn to tuck chances away a bit more. Too much time to think, rarely a good thing for a footballer.
Other than our defence (and in fairness not by that much) I honestly honestly think we're not so far from Bayern in terms of players. We just have Moyes guiding us into the icefield with a big grin on instead of Pep.
PS: I'm sure I saw Ribery on the team sheet...has there ever been a 'world-class player' who disappears with such regularity in the big games? I've never seen him do a single decent thing.
...Great result last night for the boys ...(you know the next word that is coming)... but, being the underdog, the equivalent of a lower-league side snatching a brave draw against one of the big guns simply isn't enough for me. Spoilt? I guess so, but United deserve a better fate than pumping balls out of defence up to the half-way line, parking the bus and generally not committing players forward into our own box...at OT !
Bayern were excellent, not as cutting as I'd imagined - think how impressive they would be with a decent centre-forward. Someone like Robert Lew... Oh, hang on ....
ET King (Manchester United)
Fellaini Out Already
Matt Stanger is spot on that Fellaini is like an albatross around Moyes' neck. He was painful to watch last night. Playing at Sunday league pace and pedestrian on the ball. Every second touch is a slide tackle. Often out of position and behind the play. At fault for the goal. The list goes on. Moyes could gain a lot of respect for admitting he's not at the level required and move him on. He's not a United player and never will be and his sale could act as a symbolic purging of this disastrous season.
Favourite quote from the stands last night: "He's nine foot twelve and still can't win a header."
Brian, MUFC, Dublin
Don't Blame It On Moyes, Though
I've been a regular reader of the mailbox and this fine website of yours but have never felt the need to write in. Howeve,r Matt Stanger's piece on Fellaini struck a nerve. Now I know David Moyes is totally out of his depth in his current job and frankly there's nothing I can say that hasn't been said before. However, Fellaini's ineptness shouldn't be blamed on Moyes.
At the start of the season, Fellaini's signing was lauded by most people(including myself) I came across in the excellent transfer blog and he did seem like he could provide the steel in midfield we've needed for a few years. That he suddenly decided to show us that he is about as average as they come shouldn't be blamed on Moyes but on the player himself. Yes, he overpaid for him but it seemed right at the time.
Frankly, if all this fawning over Liverpool that seems to be happening nowadays has taught us anything, it's to not write off players too early. If Henderson can come good of all people, then there might just be hope for Fellaini yet!
Pot, Meet Kettle
I thought it was a bit rich for Tom Cleverley to write in this morning to say how sh*te Fellaini is. 'Tom C', we know who you are.
Bayern Were Ultra-Cautious
Not to be a meanie, but I can't be the only one that thinks Bayern Munich were clearly playing within themselves. Right? It seems like the majority of opinions on last night's tie differentiate between United defending like lions and Bayern not being as good as we all thought. I do think United played quite well - even when cautious Bayern are a major threat, limiting their chances takes discipline and smart tactics (Moyes has clearly been watching his Chelsea vids circa Di Matteo). Criticising Bayern for not winning the match seems a bit ridiculous though.
In every Champions League knock-out ever the away team are rightly cautious. Damage limitation, away goals are a bonus, get them back to your place. The gamble of being over committed, getting caught, the crowd spurring the home side on and giving yourself a ledge to climb at home is not worth it. I'm sure Guardiola has not forgotten Arsenal beating his Barcelona side a few years ago. It's hard not to imagine that, bar the Schweinsteiger red, Bayern did exactly what he wanted of them. I don't think he even looked up from his crossword until then. Bayern are now in a stronger position than they were before the match, and evidence suggests that they can score a goal or two when they put their mind to it.
United undoubtedly defended well, caught Bayern cold a few times, and had a pleasing sense of self-belief they have often lacked this season, and it was nice to see the likes of Arjen Robben getting irritated at 'simulation', but let's not pretend that they've somehow got one over Munich, that Munich are overrated, or that the tie doesn't still heavily sit in the Germans' favour.
Stop Being All Sexed-Up About Guardiola (Or Any Other Men), F365
No surprise to find that this morning's mailbox is again clearly headlined to display your utter contempt for anyone who dares to question why Pep G only accepts a job once the club is clearly the most dominant in the world.
It's getting very sickening how F365 also refuse to publish anything other than praise mails regarding Pep.
I can see the online feedback, and the comments from football fans the world over, there are plenty, on top of plenty more, nauseous football fans completely disgusted by your mainstream-media-like, hipster-wannabe refusal to call out Pep G's blatant cheating teams, always the best divers in the business under Pep, and the on-going sexual gratification you seem to be offering Pep G, instead of talking about football.
It's actually getting so pathetic that a mail from a clearly confused youngster about how Pep's sex appeal is more important than his own life, is deemed more valid than a football mail. On a football site?!
Why is F365 so TERRIFIED of being perceived as even a little bit manly, or straight, in the traditional sense of the word?
Why are you so blatantly going out of your way each day to present an image that a real football fan is sexually attracted to other males only??
Anything, no matter how pathetically fake or imagined, preferably sexual in nature, that praises Pep even more than hipsters do, gets you in!
So now we have a new trend, you have these absolutely pathetic hipsters, all desperate for group approval from strangers, getting online to lie about their overwhelming sexual attraction towards another man, so that they can get into the mailbox.
So what if Pep has only had two jobs, which both were at near-invincible teams, who were ALREADY DOMINATING EVERYONE, and who now seem set to swap the mantle of 'greatest club team ever'.
It's beyond disgusting how Blatter Fc this site has become, when you know full well why Pep didn't take the United job.
He saw that squad and saw an actual challenge!
He would actually have to DO SOMETHING OR BE FOUND OUT AS A MANNEQUIN WHO SPEAKS SOFTLY AND TELLS THEM TO 'PASS IT LIKE RUUD/JUPP TAUGHT YOU'....
But of course both Barca and Bayern played awful football, and won absolutely nothing, dominating nobody, before their saviour Pep arrived, right you clowns??
He grows a full beard, which obviously some of you cannot, and dresses sharply, and so all you sad little wannabes, who look like a dog's arse and have even less confidence than one, now desperately try to live through him, pretending you are him, and thus he is perfect, because you wish you were.
Manc in SA (disgusting, sickening, and very pathetic that you cannot mentally compute that he was 'dead from stress', until Bayern walked to a treble a year later, and then he was on the first plane to Munich.)
Here Are Some New People Pretending To Love Pep
I loved that mail on Pep this morning from Rob, London, he is either a comic genius or a living Alan Partridge, but not a very good one (I can read you like a book. And not a very good book)
A classic introduction, 'I haven't watched Bayern much this season'. Beautiful, couldn't be any more brilliant, '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'. Ah yes, that horribly ill-fated spell which has been the source of much ridicule, he makes Tim Sherwood look like Shaft or something.
I gather you have played a lot of Fifa, Pro evo, or some championship management games 'at this level', so you know you have been full of players who have ratings ranging from a pathetic 82 but with several stars 86 and over throughout the rest of the team, and maybe even one or two in the 90+ range, indicating clearly for you to see that they are world class, and it should be a walk, but it's crazy when you come against teams that have lower overall ratings, and you just scratch your head, fling the controller across the room when you don't manage to beat this obviously weaker team. Amazingly, this stuff happens in real life too.
With your advice, pitiful Bayern Munich, scorer of only 82 league goals, undefeated in the league, somehow champions of Europe, may not have to scrape by domestically and underwhelmingly win the title in March, and do it in February instead, this season has been nothing but a struggle I guess.
Dave (PEP OUT!), Dublin
...Dear Rob, London
17 trophies (and counting) in five years..
Love, Pep (via JT)
Neymar A Disgrace
After watching about 60 minutes of the Man U game I suddenly realised that the Spanish game was probably going to be more interesting so I switched over. While the overall quality of both teams in that match was better, both matches were turds, and that is because of the histrionics used by Bayern and Barca.
It has gotten to a point, where I am going to simply refuse to watch any game either of these teams are involved in. The biggest culprit of all is Neymar. In ten minutes I counted at least three crucial calls where he blatantly dived and won fouls in very dangerous spots. After every dive every single Barca player would surround the ref and scream their phony outrage, and then started shoving Althetico players in retaliation for an 'assault' on their teammate. Pep has brought this disgraceful philosophy to Bayern. Sure, it exists on most big teams to some extent, but Barca and Bayern are by far the worst.
The saddest part of all of this is how unnecessary it is. Both teams have incredible skills. Why do they feel the need to cheat? Probably because it works and they can get away with it and their results speak for themselves. It even makes me consider wanting Man U to win. Please do something about it football. You're losing me.
Valdes The Winner
Does the Barcelona transfer ban give Valdes more leverage than any player in history? Given that they can't sign a replacement for him, he must now be worth far more to them than any other club, if he were inclined to change his mind about signing a new deal.
...FIFA just slapped a two-transfer-window ban on FC Barcelona...Which means, they will be stuck with this guy in goal for the upcoming season; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuW6JZb8rLU
Stijn Vermeulen, Amsterdam
Others Will Lose
That's Bendtner f**ked then.
Is This The New Golden Generation? Is It Balls?
This 'most dynamic squad' (Justin, LFC) and 'dynamism and quality youth' (Banjo, Prague - you're crazy, you're welcome) is presumably the stick we're going to be beating Hodgson with once the (presumably, no longer glaring) inadequacies in our National Team are exposed in the summer.
Presumably, our first choice 'keeper has not been quite wobbly early doors, on top of not actually being as good as everybody reckoned in the first place. Our first-choice left-back has in fact set the world alight, since Jose effectively retired Cashley. Our first choice right-back is not either Glen Johnson or Kyle Walker. Do I need to go on? Cahill, Jagielka are not the default picks at centre-half? There is a wealth of talent keeping them on their toes? We do have a dominant holding midfielder but he's in a group of players whose ability to impose themselves on the best midfields in the world don't make one absolutely essential? Wide men with plenty of pace and end product? And the cherry on top, the paper won't crucify Hodgson if Rooney doesn't play or is subbed off because 'he's our one world-class player'. No matter how many times he shins his first touch out for a throw because he's having one of those periods.
Some of our players are doing well in a team that also includes Coutinho and some bloke who's scoring more than a goal a game. The trio of Lallana, Rodriguez and Lambert look decent. But this is in the context of them playing against sh*te like Cardiff, Fulham, West Brom and Norwich. They may have got the odd result against someone half-decent but it's hardly comparable to Italy and don't we actually have to play against that bloke who's scoring more than a goal a game? If we get through the group (even) and the next game (delighted), we'll be up against Brazil or Spain or at best Holland or Croatia.
I like Woy. So much so I'm going to allow myself to call him 'Woy' because it's term of endearment, rather than a snide dig. What I like most about him is that he's dragged the expectation level down to an almost realistic level. I appreciate that this is what most dislike about him/him being England Manager but the fact is, he's about our level. It seemed that I wasn't alone and I could almost enjoy watching England again, almost safe in the knowledge that our collective expectations were commensurate with not having a 'Golden Generation' nor a glamorous medal and trophy-laden tactical genius as a coach. I actually don't mind the Andy Townsend "that's better" when one of our players actually passes to another one of our players. Because I'm realistic. Generally, it is better than what has immediately preceeded it.
Our ranking is approaching flattery. Quarter-finals would be nice, semis frankly unlikely. If you appreciate this and actually support the team from a position of hope that they play as well as they can and see what else happens, it's actually quite enjoyable. If you look at a couple of Liverpool games in isolation and decide that Sterling is the second coming and we'd walk it if our manager was any good, you'll be crying the hot, salty tears of the entitled but naive when the inevitable happens and yet again it's demonstrated that actually...
WE'RE NOT REALLY, VERY GOOD.
Time For Sunderland To Switch Sports?
Whilst chewing through the contents of f365 and the mailbox with my 'ecstatic because we drew' United supporting friend Alex, he brought up his new beard (read bumfluff) that has been growing since United's latest turned corner against Villa and Bayern. He claims it is acting as some sort of voodoo deterrent against defeat. As a Sunderland fan, I have noticed a similar correlation between my waking hour and our recent defeats, and after watching us fail to string two passes together for the millionth time, I have thus concluded that when I die The Lads will surely go on to lift the World Cup and NBA trophies in consecutive years!
Which got us thinking, which other sports would Sunderland be better suited to than football? Lacrosse? Inline skating?
With the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race on the Horizon, I reckon that a four of Altidore, Cattermole, Mannone and Cuellar with Bridcutt as Cox, would be a decent match for anyone in the Prem over 4.2 miles. The banks of the River Wear would be like La Masia and Carrington all rolled into one!
So who dares think their club could challenge these?
Pete Robinson, Manchester