That's one question posed in the afternoon mailbox, although it looks like the Japanese playmaker could soon be on his way. Plus, tipping Palace to go down under Warnock...
Plenty of fall out from Manchester United's shambolic 4-0 League Cup defeat, plus thoughts on Van Persie, Arsenal strikers, Benik Afobe, Celtic and Astroturf...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
On The 'Football' That Happened
When immovable object meets immovable object you get the most boring game of the season. But it will be interesting in the second leg without such silky skillful playmakers as Mikel and Gabi.
Greg Tric, Nairobi.
...For the avoidance of doubt, it's not a "tactical masterclass" or a "perfect European away performance" it's just mind crushingly dull.
...The only good thing about that match was Dr Eva Carneiro's run out. She is just delightful.
...It's going to be awkward when Chelsea recall Courtois tomorrow. If our goalie can't play, then neither can yours.
Niall (I know it can't happen, but that's not going to stop me), Denver
...Is it me, or am I completely missing something?
Chelsea played away from home in the first of two legs in the Champions League Semi Final and came away with a draw. What's the problem?
Sure, it's great to nick an away goal but they must be delighted with that. Why is everyone kicking up such a stink about their approach? They're in control of the tie. The history books won't record that it was a dull approach.What's wrong with everyone out there?!
Dan Green, Gooner, Cape Town
...Before everyone gets carried away by the Chelsea result last night, and another Mourinho tactical masterclass, can I remind you that Gary Megson got Bolton a 0-0 draw in the Vicente Calderon. We even won the home leg 1-0. Does that make Mourinho a poor mans Megson?!? Never thought I'd type those words about anyone...
Simon (Bolton and proud), London
...It's extraordinary how many people are actually giving Jose grief for the 0-0 against Atletico Madrid. I wonder if the same people have actually watched the mighty Barcelona being blown away just a couple of weeks ago trying to play? Yes they only lost 1-0 but they were utterly dominated and outplayed throughout the game, and had numerous other chances to score.
With a midfield of Ramires, Lampard, Mikel and David Luiz, how can anyone realistically expect Chelsea to be able to dictate play and bring the game to a team currently at the top of La Liga, ahead of the 'attacking prowess' of Real Madrid?
Our dear EMO was criticizing Jose's tactics as the reason for our strikers' struggles this season but doesn't realize that we don't actually play this way in every game. Yes, we had bad results against the likes of Sunderland and West Ham, but in each these games we had more than 30 shots on their goal. It's not as if Jose sets up shop against each and every team he faces. I don't have any problems with the manager doing whatever he can to get us into yet another Champions League final.
Stanger Keeps Someone Up Late
I've never had cause to write a 'disagreeing with Matt Stanger' email before but his piece last night on Chelsea's performance against Atletico has spoiled my plans for an early night.
I understand his central point (it's a fair one) that given the amount of money spent and experience in this competition you could ask for a bit more intent from this Chelsea team but there's only so much that you can expect us to rock up to the Vincente Calderon and knock it about like The Hurricanes. It might have been Atletico Madrid's first top-tier European semi-final in 40 years but this is a better team than the one that pumped us 4-1 last time we met and one that is currently storming La Liga having lost only once at home all season. By contrast, we just got or pants pulled down by Sunderland at home so forgive us if 'seeing out' the away leg of a European semi-final to one of the strongest teams wasn't quite what you'd expect from your investment (the 95 minutes I mean).
This was the most negative I've seen Chelsea play this season I agree, but it was also the first time we've faced an opponent as devastating on the counter-attack as Atletico are. It was hailed as a 'tactical master class' when we went to the Etihad and bided our time against a team that ultimately opened up too much yet for some reason Chelsea were supposed to go to Madrid and do exactly that to Atletico? A team that is even more geared towards derailing juggernauts on the counter than we are? We had Matic, Hazard and Ivanovic in that game and they were the reason we won it in the end. It's not Mourinho's fault they couldn't play last night and we're much less of a team without them - the former two especially.
If you need any more evidence to suggest that taking a buccaneering style to the continent before you've mastered it is a recipe for disaster you only need to take a look at what happened to the rest of the English contingent this year. Stanger suggests that perhaps we should have mastered it by now and perhaps he's right but the fact is we're 120 minutes (oh don't look so shocked) away from our third ever final so forgive me if I don't care quite how the cat gets skinned just yet.
A Man Writes Off Atletico Based On One Game And Some Stats
- David Moyes should try his luck in La Liga. 38 crosses, no serious chances, not even an attempt any other form of attack - it was like watching Man Utd (minus the awful defensive mistake, of course)
- In all seriousness, how are Atletico top of La Liga? Looking at Whoscored.com statistics, this is a team with 49% average possession, 78% pass success rate in La Liga; in the Champions League, they average 45% possession. Any Utd fans hoping for Diego Simeone may care to think again
- It takes a special team to play with Chelsea's level of tactical discipline - and a special manager to get a team with so much talent to do so. According to German TV, only Torres had an average position in the Atletico half. I doubt any of the other semi-finalists could play that way (we may find out next week)
- 0-0 means we're likely to get more of the same next week. Being at home should give Chelsea a small edge, but I'd expect another strongly defensive performance - we're in Liverpool-Chelsea territory here
- English fans of other teams - before you criticize Chelsea, remember that this is almost certainly how England will play in the summer
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, London
Pulis For United?
So a club that had been so successful and even collected silverware last season, struggled this season for results and a manager that everyone thought highly of couldn't win games, generated a losing mentality, couldn't get the best out of his array of Premier League talent and even the most loyal of fans lost all hope of a respectable league finish.
But Crystal Palace sacked Ian Holloway a while ago and his replacement has done a decent job since.
Chris (Pulis to United?!) Lissaman
Forget Ancelotti, Klopp, Van Gaal or even the Chosen One.
Acknowledge that mistakes were made, Europe has disappeared from the radar and begin building your team, not around a bunch of mercenaries, but a group of players who want to play for the club. Bring in a style of football that the fans can be proud of.
The reality is that World Class players of which there are currently two (Mata/Van Persie) want to play at the highest levels. That leaves Man U in a financial hole. Pay over the odds and inflated wages for a midfielder/defender that moves on after one season, whose ego rocks the boat and causes further rifts within the camp all for a quick fix.
I hate to use Liverpool as an example and they are far from a polished outfit, however Rodgers was given time and stuck to a plan. He even managed to get Henderson and Allen some deserved game time. What he could have done with Carroll probably would have shocked us all.
As much as it pains your supporters, follow Liverpool's example and build something special.
Have no doubts about it, the names mentioned at the beginning fit into the mercenary category (along with Rooney).
The saviour, the man who can bring Man U back to the pinnacle of sport is a softly spoken, very humble man the players can do well to learn from.
Or Del Bosque?
Imagine you're the Man Utd Human resources department ( outsourced dare I say) listing the attributes of the next hire?
You need a big name.
You need a proven winner.
You need someone worthy of the club.
You need someone who is used to dealing with high ego and high expectations.
You need a tactical genius who is renowned the world over by players, managers and media alike.
You need someone who knows the European football scene as well as having success at home.
Van Gaal?, pull the other one.
You need Vincente Del Bosque.
Or Neville? This Guy Seems ITK
An executive friend of mine was speaking with a neighbour who's wife is the sister of a guy that lives next door to a friend of the CEO of a Manchester based delicatessen that is often frequented by people close to the inner circle of Sire Alex Feargalsharkey. Apparently they are very keen to have Gary Neville appointed as the next manager of Manchester Divided. You heard it here last!
Carlos De Tackle
David Moyes And Dignity
When the dust settles, Moyes spell as manager will always be looked upon as footballing failure. But for what it's worth, what dignity he has shown as a person - from spending the best part of a year being the punchline to many a joke on social media, to a plane flying over Old Trafford calling for his head, and to the fans that previously idolised him at Goodison making a fool out of him. Never once did he lose his cool, say something he would regret, or let himself down. There would be many a manager in the Premier League who would have struggled in the job as much as Moyes did - it wasn't his fault he was offerred it after all - but he will always have my respect for the way he conducted himself, and he should be proud of that
Moyes v 'Hero' Rodgers
Terrance Turner genuinely seems convinced that Moyes should've been allowed to stay, when the only people I've heard echoing these thoughts are Liverpool and City fans, who were just enjoying the (not so) slow decline of our biggest rivals.
He seems disgusted by the possibilty that the fans or the media might actually be right when it goes against what Fergie says, but within the first 10 games of the season it was painfully obvious that Moyes wasn't the right man for the job. To compare him to the absolute hero of a man in the Liverpool dugout, even when results weren't going our way in Rodgers' early games it was clear to anyone that he had a plan and a vision that could very well come good. I definitely didn't think it would happen so soon but go back and watch the first 10 games of the respective managers latest clubs and if you still think Moyes deserves time then maybe you should just accept that not every fan is as blinkered and uneducated as yourself, it turns out Fergie's as human as the rest of us. And sometimes, sometimes, the media do actually know what they're talking about!
Irony, Or Something
I was reading the mailbox this afternoon, and saw this line from Terence Turner. "no player was ever allowed to become more important than the manager. Paul Ince, David Beckham, Jaap Stam, Roy Keane, RVN, Wayne Rooney".
It looked wrong as I read it, then it struck me, could it be the ultimate irony that whilst "fear of Fergie" is what drove the team on, it was also "fear of Fergie" that led to United making the wrong appointment.
Maybe the board made the same mistake as Terence. because of course the actual cliche is that "no individual is bigger than the club". Perhaps, just perhaps, Fergie came to believe that he was the one person who was actually bigger than the club, and now they are paying the price.
I am not especially exercised by the fate of United. But if they finish below a team managed by Tim Sherwood, then they have really fallen off a cliff, or maybe they are smarter than I think, and perhaps they just don't fancy it on a cold November Thursday night in Dagestan, or Moldova or Tromso.
Jim French (Spurs since '59) Herts
Foreseeing The Future
Hello Football 365, I'm a long time reader and first time contributor - I wouldn't normally email in but I'm pretty certain that I predicted Moyes' downfall over ten years ago and needed to share it with you.
Back in the early noughties, my two housemates were banging on about Football Manager (or Championship Manager, or whatever it was called back then) and told me I just had to play it. Being more of a Pro Evo/ISS man myself, I didn't really fancy it but gave it a try.
As a Man United fan I had to pick them to start with, despite being told by my two housemates that I should start in the lower leagues as I wasn't good enough to manage at the top. Of course I ignored them - how could it be possible to make a mess of managing United? They'd won the league the year before, I'd sold Beckham and had a brand new van Nistelrooy and Veron to play with, so what could go wrong?
In my first game I had Fabien Barthez sent off after 15 minutes and the opposition scored the penalty. Ten minutes later Raimond van der Gouw was also sent off for a professional foul, leaving me with nine men and no keeper. I lost the game 3-0 and proceeded to lose the next three games in succession, after which I decided that Football Manager wasn't for me and never ever played again.
I can't help but see the parallels with Moyes this year - if only he'd jacked it in after his fourth game of the season, I feel everyone would have been happier.....
I've never written in to the Mailbox before despite being a daily reader, but yesterday's speculation on Moyes' successor brought up an interesting point. I've noticed recently that the way people are talking about Borussia Dortmund is in the style of a post-mortem. Seems the general consensus is that it was nice while it lasted, but it's over now. I actually think that, in the circumstances, things aren't so bad at Dortmund at the moment.
TONY MUFC pointed out yesterday that "Dortmund have had a horrid season" and suggested it may be time for Klopp to move on to a bigger challenge. Dortmund's injury nightmare has been well documented, and it has resulted in some very unorthodox team selections and poor results throughout the season. Yet despite Klopp not being able to field the team that started the Champions League Final once this season, Dortmund will probably finish with more points than they did last year, provided they can find 3 points from their remaining 3 fixtures. That's after losing one of their top players in the summer.
The ease with which they surrendered the league title to Bayern was disappointing, but hardly surprising given their injury problems and Bayern's financial dominance of the league. Despite all that though, their performances in recent weeks suggest they're not going anywhere just yet. One wonders how differently their season might be viewed if Mhkitaryan had converted even just one of those sitters against Real Madrid. After the 2-0 second leg victory over Real, they demolished Bayern 3-0 and have since qualified for the cup final. The ease with which they dismantled Bayern on the counter was reminiscent of their 2011-12 dominance. It's probably overly optimistic to point out that out of the 3 fixtures Dortmund and Bayern have played this season, Dortmund have won two of them (especially since Dortmund's two victories came in the pre-season super cup and weeks after Bayern had already been crowned champions - they did after all lose when it really counted back in November). But if they could unlock the blistering form they're in now as consistently as they have in previous seasons, there's no reason to think they couldn't give Bayern a serious challenge, even without Lewandowski. If they can keep Klopp, I wouldn't be surprised to see them achieve another league title or even another shot at Europe. Klopp's time at Dortmund has demonstrated that there are few better managers in the game at building a side from scratch.
It's definitely been one of football's most exciting stories in recent seasons and, as is the way of these things, the task of competing with much richer clubs has taken its toll. But this Dortmund side still has plenty more to give.
Weird Footballer Nicknames
Thought I would share with you some of the odd nicknames me and my brother have unintentionally created for footballers, some better than others.
Wayne Rooney- Wazlick
Andy Carroll- Cazlaa
Darren Bent - Fray. Derived from Fray Bentos pies
Dirk Kuyt- Digsy. Derived from Dirk Diggler I think?
Daniel Sturridge- Sturrache
Glen Johnson- Glenwick
Marlon Harewood- Marlonica
I could go on but they get worse and more bizarre. Felt this needed sharing.
Ben in Bristol - Praying Liverpool will win the league and this season is not all a dream.