It's a bonus Saturday Mailbox, with plenty of reaction to the most alarming 0-0 draw in Manchester United's recent history. At what point do we worry about Louis van Gaal?
It's all very well talking about formations and United's defensive problems, but shouldn't their expensive attacking options be doing better? And we talk psychology...
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Liverpool Fans Are Excited
Since I sent my last mail in oh, an hour or so ago, I've been swept up in a wave of giddy enthusiasm.
More than fears for our title aspirations and Champions League berth, what worried me most about Suarez going was that we'd stop being fun to watch. We've still got pace, technique and brilliance throughout the team (and, increasingly, the squad) - and that's all well and good - but I was worried we'd be dull. Predictable. Still too good for most, but not outrageous. Not the sort of team that tackles opposition players around their right-back's spot with their heads.
Balotelli gives me hope. Not of replacing all 30 goals in one swoop - I'll be delighted with 15 in the league - he gives me hope that we'll still be fun.
I so want this to work. I want Balotelli to find a home at Liverpool for years to come. I want our fans to fall in love with him like we did with Torres and Suarez, like we have done with Sturridge and Coutinho. I want it to inspire him to wild new heights of unpredictable brilliance - backwards diving headers into the top corner from the edge of the box, that sort of thing - that continue to make us dream.
I strongly suspect it'll all end in tears but I really, really hope it won't. And either way, I hope we all enjoy the ride.
Nick Glover, Scouser in Brum
...With the news that Balotelli could soon be on our shores again, I'm left with the feeling you get before a first date. Pure excitement but how will it pan out?
The thought of our 4-4-2 diamond with Sturridge sterling and Balotelli at the helm would tear defences apart and is a great answer to the 30+ goals 10+ assists we will miss from Suarez's departure. I can easily envisage myself doing this every weekend at Ruse in Borough - a great Liverpool pub in London.
Yes he is a bad boy and he's a similar player to Sturridge but Sturridge is one of the best strikers in the Prem - why not have two?! That's what squad depth is all about surely...
It's a great time to be a Liverpool fan (even if we can't attract the greats of the game).
Andy (let's not forget how good we were last season, I'll take 4th) LFC
Since the start of 2011-12, Balotelli has missed more PL games through suspension than anyone else (barring the obvious one) - and City sold him to Milan eighteen months ago. Brendan certainly has a type.
Initial reaction is underwhelmed, especially after being titillated with talk of Falcao or Cavani. But then sub £20m doesn't buy much these days and Rodgers has decent form in extracting the maximum from 'troubled' individuals. Clearly none of our first choices are willing to come (again), we still desperately need a striker and I can't think of many others who are as good and available - ultimately I'd rather gamble on Mario than end up with another Aspas.
Jon Gibson LFC (could go your way, could go mine - either way, one of us is going down)
Oh my are you completely mad Liverpool? Mario may not bite people but he is as big a liability as Suarez. He is inconsistent lazy bad in the dressing room a loose cannon and more importantly a marked man in the referees dressing room. Talented though he is we never saw enough of it. Banned 3 times in 2 and a half years. If you want to do all the rest of us a favour go for it Liverpool. I am astonished that Brendan Rodgers would even consider him. Oh and by the way if Mancini could not get the best out of him, you have no chance.
Storey Doesn't Do Knee-Jerk
Is your knee-jerk reactions piece designed to highlight other people's, or your own, or what?
Some of them are knee-jerk reactions with reasons to back them up - so that's supposed to tongue in cheek, right? Like, 'we know these are knee-jerk reactions but we still want to believe them anyway' sort of thing. Like the Remy Cabella one.
Then there's real knee-jerk reactions, called out for what they really are, like the one about Stoke.
But then some of them are just considered opinion with, er, good reasons. That's not even knee-jerk. E.g. City should win the league, isn't that just based on the fact that they have a really expensive squad and they've added some more expensive players?
If the title is 'top 10 knee-jerk reactions', then you have to write 10 ridiculous responses to the first game that are unlikely to hold up. You can't have genuinely good opinions in it that most people would agree with! Any time your editor's off sick I'm happy to fill in at reduced rates - you're welcome.
And right on cue we have Greg, a Pool fan who tells us that United's players are overrated, while hilariously wearing Liverpool tinted glasses. You do realize that the most fans would have RVP ahead of Sturridge and Rooney or Mata ahead of Coutinho. Yes both of the Pool players have potential, but one season for Sturridge and half a season for Coutinho do not make them better than RVP, Rooney and Mata, especially a season was played in the shadow of Suarez, who basically carried Pool.
As a United fan, the only Pool player I would want at United would be Sterling. They have a couple of players who are better than what we currently have, but they aren't really players I would want in my team if the aim is winning titles.
We will find out the true worth of the Pool team this season now that they are playing without Suarez, can't fly under the radar and have the distraction of CL football.
JB (Only thing missing from Greg mail was "This year is our year")
...Greg says United's terrible because only De Gea would get into the Liverpool team, but conversely, which Liverpool players would get into Chelsea's team? City's? Hell, Arsenal's? I'd maybe have Sturridge over Giroud. Maybe.
The thing is, people often bring out the "wouldn't get into X's team" phrase as a perfect measurement of a team's quality, but that's just rubbish. Let's take the Sturridge example above, for example. Obviously Sturridge can score more goals than Giroud, but as Uday, Mumbai said this morning, Giroud contributes to Arsenal in a way that compliments the way we play (and he's fantastic in the air when we're defending set pieces, which he forgot to mention). So while Sturridge is a better player, he might not fit in that well at Arsenal. Hence why I say he might not walk into the Arsenal team.
RVP is a far better player than Sturridge, you'd have to be mad to say the opposite, but it's not completely crazy to say he might not walk into Liverpool's first 11 for that reason.
This long convoluted mail is to say, United ARE fairly average this season, but can we please, PLEASE stop it with this "how many of their team would walk into my team's first 11" rubbish? It's a ridiculous, subjective, skewed way to evaluate a team's/player's quality.
...As Newcastle fan, I'd definitely have RVP and Rooney in the Liverpool team. Even if they sign Balotelli.
I feel dirty now defending Man Utd.
Andrew, NUFC, Gateshead
Good And Evil
It appears F365 is suffering from a bit of post-modern liberal angst in its feature on the Tan/Mackay story. You worry that you backed the wrong horse at the time of the dispute and that now you should entirely revise your opinion of the incident, and of both men, in the light of Mackay's racist comments.
This, of course, is wrong. Like most people, you are suffering from the Manichean impulse, the urge to divide the world into undiluted blocks of good and evil. This impulse is based on the last big thing that that the person, organisation or movement did; all previous actions to the contrary of the new zeitgeist are explained away or ignored. To take a footballing example, Beckham was burned in effigy after his sending off in the 1998 World Cup. Somehow, the fact he had dented England's chances of progression meant all his good work for England and Man Utd prior to that was entirely forgotten.
The best recent example was Suarez last year. For many (and not just the tabloid press, but many fans as well) Suarez could not just be a world class player playing as expected, but a Good Guy who had put his troubled past behind him to fire Liverpool to their first title Premier League title. The season before, this even manifested itself in Liverpool fans becoming amazingly proficient in the complexities of Uruguayan dialects as they attempted to explain away Suarez's comments to Evra. In essence, protagonists cannot be nuanced people, we must fit them into a false good/bad dichotomy.
I would therefore urge F365 not to either deify Tan and destroy Mackay or the reverse. Artificially picking sides where one person is Good and one Bad should be left to the cast of Made in Chelsea and TOWIE after relationship break-ups. The fact Mackay is allegedly sexist, homophobic and racist does not mean Tan knew this at the time of Mackay's sacking (he almost certainly didn't as it would have made said sacking immeasurably easier). Even if he did know, it would not change the fact Tan has run the club like his plaything and made a mockery of good corporate governance.
I hope we can now recognise the most probable scenario: both are probably odious individuals whom none of us would ever like to meet.
Clutching At Straws
Everyone keeps harping on about why would Di Maria take a step down to play for UTD? Is it really a step down to play for UTD or a step down to play for PSG? Ask yourself these questions:
1) Are PSG as big a club as Real Madrid? I would argue not even close
2) Are UTD as big a club as Real Madrid? I would argue yes
3) Can PSG win the Champions League? In theory they can but will they? I doubt it. Will they ever? I doubt it. With this in mind why would Di Maria really care about playing for PSG in the Champs League when he knows they can't really win it?
4) Can UTD match the wages by PSG? Yes they can and then some because PSG are operating under very strict transfer rules at the moment.
5) Would he be top dog at PSG? Not even close to it. Ibra would make sure of that.
6) Would he be top dog at UTD? Of course he would. Van persie is top class but ageing, Rooney is inconsistent and Mata is not egotistical.
7) Is the French league a good league? It's a one horse race and not seen with any great distinction to win it.
8) Is the Premier League a bigger draw than the Champions League? I would argue that yes it is. To play in 1 of the top 2 leagues in the world every week is a massive draw. He has already won the Spanish league The chance to win the BPL would be too big to turn down.
9) Can any other English club sign him? They could if they really wanted but wont because the top clubs are fully stocked with their "top earners".
Man UTD is still a massive draw in their own right and now is the time they need to show it. They can get Di Maria if they really want him and pay enough in transfer fee and wages! It just depends on if they are true to their word about having all this money to spend. Woodward it is over to you to prove that you are not out of your depth!
Simon (MUFC fan and fully aware we terrible)
We're going home!!!
David (Sky Blues & Zbrojovka Brno) Szmidt