Can Man United Still Sneak Fourth?

That's one idle thought in an afternoon mailbox that also slams Jose Mourinho for Chelsea's defeat to PSG. Perhaps he should have held on to Romelu Lukaku last summer...

Last Updated: 03/04/14 at 15:36

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The backlash to the backlash to the backlash sees Arsene Wenger getting a good kicking while we also have mails on Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton and lots more...

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Can United Still Sneak Fourth?
United can, theoretically, finish on 72 points, all from eminently winnable matches (pre-Moyes at least). Not going to happen, plainly, but that would require Arsenal to drop ten points from six matches, and Everton nine from seven.

If the useless one even makes the Europa League, it'll be more than he deserves, but it's not inconceivable that his players might drag United to fourth.
Chris MUFC

Pitchforks Out For Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has well and truly evaded the proper scrutiny that he really should be getting treated with. When you consider that Moyes, Wenger and AVB have all been slated by the press at differing points of this season, some deservedly and some not so, it's remarkable that Mourinho has been getting a free pass. Especially when you review the following:

Lukaku- He should be getting way more abuse for this. No amount of reasoning can justify his departure on loan. It's an absolutely ridiculous situation and one that has proven costly on numerous occasions already this season

His public outbursts - The comments about Wenger were utterly unnecessary but were given credence by the press as they all have their heads stuck so far up his arse. Furthermore, he has humiliated his own admittedly misfiring strikers, doing nothing for their confidence. Imagine if Moyes spoke like that about his players? He would be lambasted.

Poor results - He's overseen some damaging defeats (Villa, Palace, PSG) and just a couple more similar results will see him trophyless. After spending a fair bit of money, and adding to an already World Class squad, that would be an unacceptable state of affairs. To not win anything with that Chelsea squad would see any other manager lose his job. But Mourinho is an undeserved exception to the rule, he has been treated like one for so long, and as a result, he believes himself to be invincible.

He was fortunate to walk away relatively unscathed after Madrid and he has clearly learned nothing from what should have been an ego bruising experience. Those of us who aren't fooled by the fa├žade can see the cracks. The fall will be fast. And the fall will be hard.
Narayan, London

Blaming Lukaku For Loan
Musing on yesterday's Chelsea result (about par, really), I had the following thought - How must Romelu Lukaku feel now? By all accounts, he pushed for the move to Everton after not fancying the idea of fighting for his place at Chelsea against our motley crew of strikers. However, had he stayed, it's not an unreasonable supposition that he would now be established as our number 1 striker, Chelsea might be 4-6 points better off in the league, and maybe even a goal better off in the Champions League. He'd be looking at a future as the main striker in the likely Premier League champions and an important player in the latter stages of the Champions League.

Instead, he's had an admittedly decent season at Everton, who will no doubt finish 5th. But as a result of not being at Chelsea, the club are now virtually certain to buy a top-class striker in the summer and he'll be fighting for his place from the position of 2nd (at best) striker at the club. With a pretty high likelihood that the club now decides to sell him to a second tier club instead (it's hard to think of another top-tier club that would sign him now as their number 1 striker). All things considered, looks like a very poor decision by Lukaku (and costly for Chelsea, too).

Oh, and Mourinho's a brilliant manager, we've had a good season and despite the goading from Liverpool fans I'm not sorry we don't have Ancelotti instead (who's busy bottling the Spanish league, by the way) nor at all sorry to see the back of Benitez (who's brilliantly led free-spending Napoli to 3rd and 9 points behind a Gervinho-led Roma).
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London

How Would Jose Have Coped At United?
I'm sure I am right in saying that Mourinho enjoys a reputation as a fantastic man manager. More than once I have heard Lampard, for example, eulogise Jose in this respect: between 2005 & 2007 he turned Lampard from a very good player into one of the best in Europe.

But, has that quality evaporated as the Mourinho hype and reputation has grown? Certainly reports of his time at Real Madrid suggest he divided the dressing room rather than uniting it and his treatment of Casillas was bizarre in the extreme. Now we see him tearing lumps out of the Chelsea strikers' confidence, which is already threadbare. I mean talk about throwing people under a bus. And does it help?

All of which leads me to the conclusion that this man management quality is a myth now. Man management is not turning a 20 goal striker into a 30 goal striker. Its turning a 7 goal striker into a 20 goal one. Jose should be making Torres feel like a world beater publicly. Is Jose too obsessed now with his own standing to put players first (as he did when he first joined Chelsea and had a point to prove)?

God knows what he would have said about the Man Utd (Cleverly??) midfield if he had gone there.
Dom (why is Jose so wide eyed in post match interviews?) Wilson

Former Admirer
As a former and recovering Jose admirer I respectfully submit the man has lost it entirely. "Lost what?" - you may ask. Well, both the plot and the touch, I say. Let's start with the latter.

The Jose of the Old Days would never bad mouth his players, not in public at least. Nowadays hardly a week passes without some not-so-veiled reference to so-and-so not carrying his weight. After the Crystal Palace defeat it was all about the back four playing well under any and all circumstances, unlike the forwards, ahem.

After the PSG defeat, he mentioned Cahill and "ridiculous defending" in the same sentence. Really Jose? "Ridiculous"? Your forte used to be these guys would die on the field for you. Super-motivated, siege-mentality and all that. You're shooting yourself in the foot; soon you'll be the only left "under siege".

Now a few words about losing the plot. Jose, not sure you've noticed, but today's football is different from your Porto days. Most good teams actually play football, attack, build patiently and so on. Against PSG, down 2-1, you were playing for keeps.
Radu Tomescu

...Well, I donned my (usually lucky) Chelsea shirt last night and watched the game whilst my housemate had "The Raid" on in the background... By the by, if you haven't watched The Raid, you should because it is full of exciting, non-stop action... Bringing me nicely back to the Chelsea game which, whilst still enjoyable, played out like a lot of our games this season, and many of our games under Mourinho:

Our performance was a little underwhelming. Sure, we played with some bright patches over the course of 90 minutes, but any team should be able to dominate the ball for a brief spell. I also feel this was due more to Blanc's tactics than it was our game plan/players. They intentionally seceded possession to draw us onto them, overruling our own counter attacking tactics as they pinged balls for Lavezzi, et al to chase. Great stuff. It could have backfired for PSG, sure, but then our starting line-up was probably assessed and the correct conclusion that - they don't have a striker in their first team, or on their bench (Yes, I know Torres was on the bench, but lets just take into consideration his recent form) so the chances of them breaking us down, without a penalty or set-piece, are approximately 400-1.

The unfortunate thing is we look so damn prepared to settle for 2-1 in the closing stages. I completely appreciate that 2-1 would not be a bad result (3-1 is however) to take into the second leg, but the players should still look like they're ready to play out the remaining time, rather than thinking about air stewardesses and Parisian floosies. Because I can find no other justification for 3 players being so easily bypassed and Cech struggling to save a shot at his near post.

Mourinho was looking to, but thankfully didn't, bring on Mikel, but then I wouldn't bring on Mikel - ever, even if you paid me. So that doesn't say much. Ultimately this belief that 2-1 would be reversible at home cost us a third goal. Also, how many times have people said £37mil man now? I also hate the comment "He's paid back a large part of his fee with that goal!"... No he hasn't. If he hasn't been performing before scoring said goal then it's a hell of a lot of wages and transfer fee combined for a player to do one good thing every few months - Please see Torres, Fernando for more emphasis to my point.

I do agree with James Bruschini, London. I mean... People didn't hate us quite as much with Ancelotti in charge, one of my friends even compared him to a lovely cuddly bear. Which I agree with, he looks like the kind of guy you could give a nice big hug to and we scored 3098349834 goals in our last 7 matches. Whereas Mourinho's tactics and media handling has rekindled the image of us as a bit of a douche club. People like to remind me of our negative tactis and how our boss has a big mouth, things I struggle to disagree with.

I wrote in at the beginning of the season questioning Mourinho, worried, thinking that perhaps Benitez wasn't so bad afterall. Then I wrote in again, being that kind of football fan easily impressed by a winning run, saying that Mourinho was right and that the players were doing a decent job. Now I'm feeling a bit lost again. We won't win the league and we'll be extremely lucky to get through to the next stage of the CL (not that we should expect this every year, but, much like West Ham fans and Sam Allardyce, you're expecting some kind of enjoyable football to be played). Matic has been signed and been a wonderful addition (other fans don't actually hate him, unlike sneaky Ramires who always has a dangerous/stupid tackle in a game) and for that I say cheers Jose. However, I can't help but feel that under Ancelotti, whether we would be champions or not, at least people wouldn't think we were a bunch of d*ckheads...
SRB (saying that, people always think I'm a d*ckhead), London

Fan Mail For Ansell
Lovely stuff by Martin 'You can always read something else...' Ansell in this morning's mailbox. I think given his creativity using the written word, summed up beautifully by the poem he wrote for Southampton, if I had to take one 'velvet bullet' from the mailbox he'd be a contender. I tried to sum it up in rhyme myself.

Although I'm not that way inclined I understand his reason.
You choose one contributor from the mailbox for one season.
I'd even say to Charlotte I'm afraid I have to cancel.
I'm off to read some poems with the lovely Martin Ansell.

I think thanks should be given to the Manc in SA for finally allowing us all to be open about this previously forbidden topic of conversation by highlighting the way we have been speaking of Pep, so I'm sending him big hugs as well. Cheers Manc in SA, you're now a mailbox trailblazer.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool

Barton: Irrelevant
Joey Barton is wrong on so many levels, and I won't write the essay I want to because I'll ramble, but in short I want to say this:

Under common law in most countries, there is a principle that a person cannot delegate more powers than he or she holds (i.e. you cannot ask somebody to do something that you do not have the legal right, power or knowledge to do yourself). In this respect, somebody who has 1 England cap and is at best a top level Championship player, cannot pass too much judgement on whether or not Wayne Rooney is "world class". Of course the term has many meanings but when you have won as many league titles as he has, not to mention the odd Champions League, I don't think he will lose too much sleep over Barton's pathetic publicity stunt.

Good day to you.
A Lawyer

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Be Careful What You Wish For, Gooners

That's the message from a Man United fan in the mailbox. Plus, thoughts on Paul Lambert's new contract, the Alan Pardew dilemma at Newcastle and lots more...

No, Wenger IS To Blame For Failure...

The backlash to the backlash to the backlash sees Arsene Wenger getting a good kicking while we also have mails on Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton and lots more...

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