The debate over the importance of pre-season continues, including a league table from last season for stats fans. Plus travelling to watch your team and Blackpool...
We have some conclusions from Louis van Gaal's perfect start, plus a dismissal of fantasy football, worries about La Liga's greediness and thoughts on Real with Ham-ez...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
"You Only Adopted The Dark. I Was Born In It"
"There's a reason why this prison (the relegation zone) is the worst hell on earth...Hope. Every man who has rotted here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy... So simple... And like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst, many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope."
Bane, masked villain, fierce killer, avid Sunderland fan
Already Sounding Like He Belongs
Spot the difference...
Giggs today: "We're Manchester United, we're at home and we expect to win."
Moyes pre Newcastle: "...they come to Old Trafford and we're going to make it as difficult as we can for them."
..."I told the players 'I trust you and I know what you're capable of, go out there and show it' "
He's had one press conference and already exuded more confidence and showed better PR skills than Moyes. I actually feel optimistic now the top dog at the club actually understands and, more importantly, thrives on the huge nature and responsibility of managing Man Utd.
I hope he doesn't get the job yet though - he's still very inexperienced and probably too big a risk at this stage. If it didn't go so well it would be a lot more difficult to sack probably the clubs most iconic servant ever, although to be fair I don't think it's unreasonable to assume he would resign before it got to that point for the good of the club.
A mailboxer wrote in recently with a plan of Van Gaal to be taken over by Guardiola, and then Giggs. If this interim role goes pretty well, and by that I merely mean a noticeable change and actual good feeling around Old Trafford, then I say skip Guardiola and show faith in a then more experienced Giggs. He may just turn out to be our own Guardiola
Questions, Re Moyes
All the ire, joy and excitement in the mailbox over Moyes' sacking has lead me to ask a few questions of fellow mailboxers:
1) Why the sudden increased vitriol for Rooney? He's been one of our best players this since, including scoring one of the goals of the season. He could even be considered Moyes only success story, signing him on for another few years and getting him fit and firing again. So why are we hating "fat" Wayne again? His wages are ridiculous though.
2) Why have we all now accepted that Moyes downfall is due to the players lacking respect for him? I don't doubt that there's some truth to this but so far everything's been based on speculation. And if it's true how was Moyes ever going to earn their respect if he wasn't turtles by the board? Fergie had some issues when he took over with certain players who liked to indulge in a few drinks. Fergie had the balls and more importantly was trusted to ship players like McGrath out and bring his own players in. For those who can't remember, McGrath was absolute quality. He also managed to steer Robson clear of such problems. This didn't take ten months.
3) I think much more of a problem for United is the fact the players are shit so did Moyes lack the necessary respect for them when he started by openly stating (the bleeding obvious) that the squad lacked star quality? My neurotic self would instantly assume he was talking about me if I was a player so did this have a negative effect right from the beginning of his reign of disappointment?
4) Rene Meulensteen reckons Moyes underestimated the size of the job but did he also underestimate the quality of the opposition? City, Chelsea and Spurs strengthened significantly, Arsenal signed Ozil where we signed Fellaini, and Liverpool were already showing signs of what they were capable of at the end of last season (their consistency had been a real shock though). Also did he overestimate the job he had done at Everton? With pretty much the same players Everton are playing much more interesting football than under Moyes. He certainly knows a good player but his tactics aren't so good, does this make Moyes a glorified scout?
5) Did the board underestimate the size of the job? Let's be really honest here, they cocked up hiring Moyes in the first place and, although I've always said he should be given time once in the job, he shouldn't have been in the job in the first place. Also the squad was weak and getting weaker all the time, having hired Moyes they should have made sure he had transfer targets in place byJuly 1st and not waited until Cesc had said no 100 times before belatedly panic buying Fellaini. While I feel Moyes dithered a bit last summer, the board should have managed the situation better and got on with signings the day he started. Why on earth did Edward woodwardwood have to go to Australia on the pre season tour exactly? Having said that, if I had been Moyes I would have had my transfer targets in less than a week after he agreed to take over. it's Manchester United for christ's sake, everyone knew our midfield was gash.
6) why give a man a six year contract and sack him after ten months? The giving of a six year contract kind of signifies to that person that you expect results in that time frame. If that's not the case then I think a shorter contract would be a better and cheaper option. Also actually backing the manager properly in the transfer windows would help. I'm talking about number of signings here not money spent.
7) would any other United fans like to know exactly what the boards goals are for every season? And I don't mean "win every game 8-0" I mean realistic targets like "qualify for champions league or your contract will be reviewed". In the past 10 months we've just had "the manager will be given time" consistently until boom he's sacked. Don't get me wrong we were pretty gash, and it was getting worse but it would've been nice to know what the board expected. I wonder if Moyes was informed before it was too late?
8) would United fans prefer a quicker manager turnaround of once every 3 or 4 years or to have another Fergie? Managers like Jose and Ancelotti could bring us more champions league trophies in the short term but a Klopp or Martinez might bring us a new sexier attacking image and some consistency on home soil over a prolonged period.
As you may have guessed I'm a little bit stressed but all the uncertainty at my club, it's something I haven't dealt with in my lifetime. Mostly though I'm piss bored of the standard of football we're seeing. It was already starting to tail off under Fergie but has crashed completely under Moyes. I still would have given him proper support in the transfer window and another season because I agree with Neville in that being a football manager is a bigger job than just 12 months. Maybe we need to define the difference between a coach and a manager?
Ashley Metcalfe, in turmoil
We Don't Think This Spurs Fan Wants Moyes
I've just read that Spurs might be considering Moyes as their new summer appointment.
Please. God. No.
While his time at Man Utd clearly hasn't helped him, I wouldn't have wanted him before either. It has little to do with past success either.
It's simple really, I have no actual reason to support Spurs. I'm not from London, nor is my Father, Mother or almost anyone else in my ancestry. I support them because when I was a wee nipper it was their flamboyancy and verve, their adventure (and misadventure). It was Gascoigne and Ginola, Sheringham and Ferdinand. Spurs was spelled EXCITEMENT. When someone asks "what's it like to support Spurs" I can cheerily reply "never a dull moment" and it's true. Spurs are usually exciting or at least interesting. We like our attacking football plus a few characters on the pitch. Does it end in success? Rarely. Does it get the heart racing, the mouth salivating and the eyes feasting? Hell-yes.
Moyes is the Anti-Spur. He brings calm, he brings sensible, he brings pipe-and-slippers where we want to see punk hairstyles, irresponsible unprotected-sex-behind-the-bike-sheds and motorcycles (figuratively speaking... mostly). I'd rather keep Tim frickin' Sherwood than look to Moyes, at least it'd be fun for a while.
So please, God, if you're listening, visit Daniel Levy & the rest of the Spurs board in the night and frighten the dickens out of them with threats of fire, brimstone and tax inspectors should they even think of appointing Mr Moyes...
Thom, Bristol-based Spur ('cause there are no good teams nearby)
On Jose's FA Charge
I'm not a lawyer, but I thought this the moment I heard his spiteful, sarcasm laden interview after last weekend's match. Precisely because his critique was so completely sarcastic, it doesn't come across in print as anything truly malicious - Mike Dean was congratulated for a "fantastic performance", and the "congratulations to Mike Riley, because he's the referees' boss, and what they are doing during the whole season is fantastic..." reads similarly. He hasn't actually said anything "to bring the game into disrepute" unless you manage to take context into account (which is, yes, an obvious factor.) He even delivered the words without rolling his eyes.
Of course, he's being 100% disingenuous and we all know it, and the FA clearly seem to do whatever they want to, but - if there was some sort of legal element to this, would he not be cleared? Any lawyer-types want to field this?
...I understand Jose is being charged over the comments he made last week.
Personally I think the FA are playing a very dangerous game here.
The FA can't start charging people on the way players and managers issue comment rather than on the content of what they've said.
Yes, Jose was probably being sarcastic but let's not forget he dragged his assistant back from a confrontation with the referee and didn't appear to criticise the referee during the game either.
Journos are always going to ask players and managers about contentious issues and if Jose is found guilty, I'm afraid managers will simply choose not to talk to the media.
Put simply, if the FA think Jose was being sarcastic then surely that means they think the ref's performance was sub-standard or at the very least controversial.
The only way to deal with sarcasm is to respond with sarcasm. This matter should have been dealt with by both Dean and Riley issuing a statement thanking Mourinho for this kind comments. If nothing else this would have annoyed him no end which would no doubt teach him not to be a smart arse in future.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Rammy Rammy Ram Ram
Apropos of nothing,
Ramires seems to have suffered from not being ruddy faced, slightly balding, a bit overweight and English. Also, I'm getting bored of his stupidity. He seems to have regressed from his stellar seasons of the previous 2 years to turn into a very snidey, fighty, divey, cheatey (sic, sic, sic) annoyance who I don't enjoy watching so much anymore. He's probably missed at least 7 games this season due to suspension which isn't overly helpful.
Also, as tedious as the game was on Tuesday night. Of the four European semi-finals this week only one away team didn't walk away with a defeat. I'd take that tedium for a better chance of winning next Wednesday. As for the chap from Norf London (sic), you don't have to watch if you don't want to. I'm sure there are some other great shows on a Tuesday night.
Enjoy this weekend's coming shenanigans.
Lee (despite being Chelsea I'm secretly delighted in the thought that we could win a 3rd European trophy in 3 years and Terry wouldn't make the final again) Tooting
Optimistic About England, Not About Roy
I'm in 'Lee. SFC's' camp. I too am feeling optimistic about the England Team. I certainly don't expect a win! but have a feeling we'll see moments of decent football from us - or at least something that will give us hope for the coming years
There are some genuinely good young(er) players on their way through (Sterling, Shaw, Barkley, Wilshere, Ox,) some players maturing very nicely (Lallana, Cahill, Welbeck, Sturridge, Henderson, Hart) and decent experienced players (Gerrard, Rooney, Cole, Baines, Neville P).
My biggest worry is the manager. Everyone knows the Manager is vital to a team, especially so an Intl team. Moyes has been the biggest proof as to how a (relatively speaking) average manager can hold back a good side.
This is where we come to Roy. I see Roy as a pragmatic man. A man who will stick, rather than twist. Not a risk taker. A Moyes Mk II. The problem is, when you look at the players we have, most are dynamic attack minded players. Players who want to move the ball quickly from front to back and who have pace.
This is probably very harsh, seeing as he hasn't even started the World Cup yet and may win it (!) but I don't see how Roy can take this current side, with the addition of young players who're going to break into the side in next 1-2 years and develop them into a quality International team.
Roy is a Sega Megadrive in todays PS4 footballers world. Good luck to him in Brazil. I will be cheering his every move, but I fear that in the longer term he will hold us back.
Flippers And Snorkels
Does no one else think this dismay coming from upstairs at Bayerns 'new style' under Pep is not about tika taka or whatever the current buzz word is.
Its the fact he's added flippers and snorkels to the players. Yes granted, they have previous on play acting but just like at Barca Pep has took it to the next level. Either he has zero discipline or he encourages his eleven Tom Daleys to attempt to get the opposition sent off for having the cheek to try and win back his beloved possession.
Paul (Hes a modern day Don Revvie) NUFC
To reply to Paul, London the most obvious person you can compare Thomas Muller to is the great Dirk "Diggler" Kuyt, Not particularly strong, quick or skillful but a great knack of being in the right place at the right time to score important goals.
...Two notes on Thomas Müller:
First, let's not start thinking that "Raumdeuter" is a real word. It's a play on words, i.e. a "Traumdeuter" is an interpreter of dreams. So, in English: he looks to find space.
Second, and most importantly, in Germany he promotes Müllermilch and he's seen in a commercial drinking his own milk, along with Gerd Müller, who also drinks his own milk. Then they pose, holding their creamy products and expect us to suddenly have a craving for Thomas and Gerd's frothy white liquid. Now, maybe it's just me, but this sort of puerile and suggestive advertising totally works. -S.
This nothing to do with football in England or Europe, but please bear with me.
I live in South Korea and the recent ferry disaster has been upsetting for many people. Especially the victims families and those connected with the school.
I follow FC Seoul in the K-League and on Sunday I will be going to Suwon away, which is the derby game in Korea. But, for the third match in a row there is going to be no chanting from both sets of fans because of the ferry disaster as a sign of respect.
This is going OTT! If fans cannot chant or sing at games in order to show respect, then the Korean Football Association should postpone all games until further notice. I can't see why there can't be a one minute silence and/or players wearing black armbands, etc. Football is a form of escapism for many people, it helps them to forget about all that is bad in their lives.
This is sucking the fun and enjoyment out of football.
Martin Brez, WWFC and FC Seoul, South Korea
The last word in comedy football nicknames comes from the bloke that sits a few seats down from me at the Cardiff City Stadium. He has a knack of coming up with silly nicknames for the City players but the following has to be the greatest I have heard:
Steve 'Spongebob Squarepass' McPhail
Absolute comedy genius!
This Is Skirting The Edge Of 'Banter', But We'll Allow It
Following on from the spoonerisms, here's some nonsense for a Friday mailbox.
My friends and I have developed a strange ways of speaking using footballers names.
Some examples are:
That's a Shay (a given)
She's a bit Robbie (keen)
He was a bit Nistelrooy (rude)
Last night was Lionel (messy)
Anyone else do this? Or any ideas for us to use?
Mike, London, LFC
An Out Of Position XI
Its Friday, so naturally that means coming up football-themed ways to kill productivity. All the hype about Raheem Sterling made me reflect on how versatile hes been, playing all across the front and even at right back early on in the season. As a tribute to these flexible chaps, here is my PL Out-of-Position XI:
Jagielka (GK, might be a stretch)
Marc Wilson (CB)
I think this team would be comfortably 17th.
Ved, Japan (regularly occupy different chairs at the office)