Despite appearances, Pogba is not a Vieira…

Date published: Friday 16th February 2018 9:23

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Backing Pogba v Mourinho
You wouldn’t ask Messi to play left-back, although he could do a job there.

You wouldn’t ask Ronaldo to play centre mid, although he could do a job there.

You wouldn’t ask KDB to play sweeper, although he could do a job there.

So why on earth would you ask Pogba to play defensive centre mid?

Yes, I know he’s a ‘midfielder’, but that’s a pretty broad concept. So are Kante and Ozil, but that doesn’t mean you’d ask them to interchange. And yes I know he appears to ‘have the attributes’ to play in that position – but again, on paper so does Ronaldo, but that doesn’t mean it’s how you get the best out of him.

I can’t help but think that superficial similarities to Patrick Vieira have utterly distorted the way we think about this player. The real Frenchman we should be comparing him to – at least positionally – is Zidane. People forget that Zidane too was predominantly a left sided attacking midfielder, and Pogba, whilst not being the same on the details, broadly speaking plays the same role. You wouldn’t dream of making Zidane play the way Jose’s pushing Pogba, and just because the latter is tall and strong shouldn’t change that.

United have specialised in playing attackers out of position in the last few years – Martial and Rashford being played wide, Di Maria playing as a wing-back, Mata playing wide right, even Fellaini playing deep (!) – if the same fate befalls Pogba then one can only despair of them.

However, in this case, things are a bit different. Given how much Pogba cost, and his key commercial role, surely eventually even Jose will have to crumble. If things continue as they are, Pogba will never get near to fulfilling his potential. That’s not to say he will fail to adapt to the role, it’s just that his ceiling will be far lower. Every player has to play their natural game to reach their peak. He knows this, so will be forced to agitate for a move; rightly so, given the stakes. It’s just not necessary for him to sacrifice his game for the team, given that there are plenty of other clubs who would accommodate him.

The weirdest part is that his sacrifice isn’t even helping the team. When he’s been played in his favoured role (Watford away, Everton away, Arsenal away), they’ve won and he’s shone. It’s baffling. This is one of those rare cases where it is logical as a fan to support a player over a manager, and United fans should hope that Pogba wins this battle pretty sharply.

You want Pogba? More money please

Real Madrid should keep their filthy hands away from our players. Why would we want to sell Pogba at £120m+? I mean, if Coutinho is worth £140m, Pogboom should be worth more than that. If Real Madrid can cough up £200m, then we can grudgingly do biniz. Otherwise Real is a sinking ship, and it will take a few years before it can be a force again. Meanwhile, Manchester United Football Club (Greatest Club in the Universe®) is on the rise once again and it shall soon conquer England and Europe like the behemoth that it is… 🙂
Johnie Cummings
PS. Oh, and at United, we love our trophies, yessiree, haha


Some of us DO need to worry about net spend
Garey Vance, MUFC, really doesn’t get net spend, does he?

Just like many other United fans, net spend is nothing other than an opportunity to throw insults and stereotypes at Liverpool. This just highlights how out of touch with reality people like Garey are.

Football is very much part of the business world and if you conveniently ignore the net spend of any business function (and indeed laugh at its very existence) then you are either an oil rich billionaire who couldn’t care less about losing hundreds of millions every year for as long as it takes or a public/privately owed corporation who couldn’t care less about losing hundreds of millions every year for as long as it takes.

Just to be clear only one of the above actually exists in the real world…and United are not a billionaire’s plaything.

United have ’net spent’ hundreds on millions on transfers alone since Ferguson – between Van Gaal and Mourinho, we’re talking around half a billion pounds, right? That’s before we even bring in salaries. (As an aside, I’ve read that Sanchez earns more than De Gea and Pogba combined – let’s see how that plays out during next summer’s contract negotiations.)

Money most certainly makes the world go around. The ‘net’ bit completes the loop. By ignoring it, or laughing at its very existence, only highlights how utterly ignorant you are to the very basic principles of economics upon which the free world exists.

So laugh away Garey, but maybe you need to start preparing of the day when United don’t qualify for successive Champions Leagues, and Pot Noodle companies the world over stop sponsoring United for obscene amounts of money.

Maybe then the net penny will finally drop for you.


…I’m confused, is there some kind of aversion to the idea of net spend? I am not a regular at F365 so perhaps this has been discussed at length (if so, I’m sure this wont see the light of day) but Varey Gance seemed awfully perturbed by the idea of this apparently mythical beast.

I’m no finance whizz or pencil pushing poindexter who will baffle you with complex accounting analysis but according to my piggybank based economics, money received for selling something = money in my old man style, excruciatingly slow shuffle of pennies, coin purse. Now, in my experience as a nomadic grifter, if you swindle some local fool out of £10, in exchange for a feel of an off-cut of the Turin Shroud, that is £10 more money to spend on sweets and pop than you had before they touched cloth. Admittedly, the grifting world is a sterling based economy, where the homeless targets of my evil schemes have very physical wealth sitting in their begging jars, whereas in the high tech world of multimillion pound transfer deals, perhaps cryptocurrencies are used, whose value disappears after a period of time, rendering the whole drawn out process of buying and selling somewhat moribund.

If this is the case, fair enough. Otherwise though surely receiving a hundred million pounds for Coutinho, rather a lot of money, would have some tangible effect on what money you might subsequently spend. And from a bespectacled finance directors standpoint can be spent.

Now some random fellow might come along and say “Hogswash and Balderdash! According to Championship Manager 97/98 all accumulated transfer funds received get absorbed in to the faceless administrative blob of the board and does not affect budgets for following seasons’ and to that I would have no reasonable response apart from I am 90% certain our universe is not a larger scale version of the late 90’s Sports Interactive sim game.

So Mr Vance, riddle me this; Is there a difference between a club buying £500m worth of players and selling £5m and another club buying £500m worth of talent over exactly the same period and then selling £450m of players?
Ed Ern


…Through my time of reading the many excellent letters in the mailbox there is this trend of anger towards quoting net spend. I know this is a well trodden discussion and I may have missed the reason, but what is the issue with using net spend? Surely one must take into account players sold and bought when deciding how much a manager has spent on his team? Spending £35m outright is very different to selling a player for £35m and buying another one for the same amount. Can someone enlighten me of why my logic is so off?
David (please don’t shout at me!) Morris


…Just to be sure was ‘Garey’s’ entire argument against using net spend to call it a beast and make some obscure Alan Sugar reference?

I don’t expect much from someone who can’t spell his first name but come on, at least try to articulate an argument against the thing you disagree with.

As a Liverpool fan I believe net spend is a wonderful fantastical phantasmagorical creation of ours unheard of outside of our own beloved football club. We have (hilariously) come up with an ingenious plan to hide our own inadequacies as a club, a plan so devious I am surprised no one else ever thought of it but I can still see why they think it is absolutely hilarious.

Namely you can buy And sell players. Brilliant. And somehow by selling players for lots of money and signing new players for less money the club is somehow saving money. Hahaha can believe everyone nearly fell for that load of old nonsense. “Net spend” pull the other one mate I hear Garey say, good one.

Klopp is a fraud, Liverpool need a new proper striker etc etc…give me patience
Daive LFC


A dream Champions League 16
First of all, re the backlash about Spetsnat’s ridiculous wind-up email: I just wanted to say you shouldn’t take anybody who uses big words without knowing what they mean (an ‘obtuse’ amount of money?) so seriously as to respond to them. Doing so would be a complete contrafribularity.

Now that that’s out of the way, Akib LFC asks an interesting question about dream last 16 clubs. I’d just like to move the goalposts a bit and make it about particular teams from particular eras (though still one team per club):

1. Ajax 1994-1995 (the team that made me fall in love with football)

2. Liverpool 2004-2005 (still my favourite final of all time)

3. Man United 1998-1999 (Mario Basler’s permanently recurring nightmare)

4. Barcelona 2009 (Never liked tiki-taka/divi-cheata Barca, but have to grudgingly admit they were very good)

5. Real Madrid 2002 (Galacticos mk.1 weren’t half bad either)

6. AC Milan 2003 (Pirlo, Maldini, Inzaghi, Gattuso…)

7. Borussia Dortmund 1997 (Paul Lambert was there!)

8. Tottenham 2010-2011 (Bale v Maicon)

9. Bayern 2012-2013 (THAT Robben goal v United)

10. Porto 2003-04 (Last of the minnows to win, ever?)

11. Pannathinaikos 1995-96 (again, mostly because of their amazing kits. And for giving Ajax a fright on the way to the final)

12. Inter 2009-2010 (Year of the Wesley)

13. Juventus 2014-15 (didn’t win, but provided plenty of Pure Pirlo Passing Porn)

14. Villarreal 2005-06 (Riquelme was ridiculously watchable)

15. Monaco 2015-16 (You may think I’m running out of ways to avoid naming Chelsea, but…)

16. Chelsea 2008-09 (not so much for the football as for the legendary Drogba tantrum)


After Messi and Ronaldo…
Marco Asensio is going to win the Balon D’Or. I honestly believe that, provided he doesn’t get messed around at Real, he will be the kind of player people are talking about in 20 years, and not like Kaká, but like Messi & Ronaldo.

We’re always asking who will be the best players in the world after Messi and Ronaldo, and players like Neymar and De Bruyne will be elect should the perennial winners endure an unremarkable season this year coming.

However, Asensio can be a legend for Spain, he’s miles ahead of where De Bruyne was at his age has a solid 179 appearances under his belt at 22, and has scored goals in Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Champions League finals already.

I’m often guilty of getting overly excited about world-class players under the age of 23, but with his current ability, the potential stability that comes from never having a reason to leave the club, and the world-class coaching and peers, he should advance to be a complete attacking player. Madrid and Spain could do with installing him to their first XI permanently, and growing the team around him. Let him learn from Isco, and CR7, and make him the best player in the world. Give him the status and platform that Raúl had and you’ll find a far better player.

The biggest worry would be Real’s circus catching him in the crossfire, but hopefully Zidane can placate the board enough to last another year and prove himself again.
KC (this is as much an ode to the guy than anything else)


Stop getting carried away with Man City
Did I just read that on Tuesday evening Daniel got a message from Sarah Winterburn: ‘This could be the team we tell our children about.’ Maybe Sarah is a prophetess (no hard feelings) and City are a really good team but I guess it’s way too early to start putting them up there with the greatest teams of all time.

Pep’s Barcelona, Sacchi’s AC Milan and Liverpool of the 80’s. It is all about domination I guess so let’s not get carried away.
Ian (FCB) Nairobi

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