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Give it to Giggsy
So clearly Ryan Giggs is going to be the single greatest manager of all time, the coaching love child of Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola. We were all wrong and he should have been given the United job after all. Swansea was indeed beneath him.
John ‘in all seriousness, Wales did play in a positive manner and that is all some United fans want from their team’ Morgan, South Derbyshire
An England choice
Thanks to ToonBano for raising the subject, so here’s what I would like to see from England at the World Cup. It may be ridiculous, it may be impractical and it would almost certainly be wildly unsuccessful, but it might also be a lot of fun. We line up in a 3-5-2, or possibly a 3-3-4.
Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford, for that famed distribution and the knowledge that he can handle it when our backs are against the wall.
Defence: Jamaal Lascelles in between James Tarkowski and Ben Mee. I reckon those three could probably block a freight train, let alone the Tunisians.
Midfield: Eric Dier at the base so he can slot into the defence when required. Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana (if fit, Ox if not) in front, for that relentless pressing and a bit of creativity.
Wing backs/wingers: Kyle Walker the only option on the right. And give a go to young Ryan Sessegnon on the left. What’s the worst that could happen? More fun than Ryan Bertrand, that’s for sure.
Strikers: Raheem Sterling in a free role behind ultimate nuisance Jamie Vardy. No place for Harry Kane unless you drop a midfielder and go even more all-out attack, or if Vardy’s not working out. Hell of a sub to have waiting.
Notable exclusions: Dele Alli, because frankly he’s been sh*te all season bar the odd moment. Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling, Joe Hart, Jordan Henderson, boll*cks to the lot of ’em.
We’d probably get through the group with wins over Panama and Tunisia and a hilarious 6-6 draw against Roberto Martinez’ Belgium before getting absolutely ruined by Germany or someone in the second round. But what else is new?
Harry (how else are you supposed to kill an hour on the train?), THFC
The Golden Generation did nothing
‘England’s so-called ‘golden generation’ may have disappointed at the time, but there was enough talent in that team – and sufficient progress made in major tournaments, compared with the spotty qualification record of pretty much every prior generation – that they may have proven just inspirational enough.’
In what is an absolute shambles of an article, Steven Chicken saves the worst for second to last with the above nonsense. Lets take a look at how much progress was made against ‘pretty much every prior generation’ taking the “golden” era as 2001-10:
World Cup – 2 Quarter Finals and 1 Round of 16.
Euros – 1 Quarter final, 1 didn’t qualify
World Cup – 1 Semi Final, 1 Round of 16 and 1 didn’t qualify.
Euros – 1 Semi Final, 2 Group Stages exits.
World Cup – 1 Quarter Final, 1 Second group stage.
Euros – 2 Group Stage exits, 1 didn’t qualify.
You have to go back to the 70’s to find a period of sustained failure to qualify for tournaments and then if we go back to the 60’s I’m sure we might find something to balance that out.
The fact is the golden generation performed pretty much exactly as they should have and actually not even as well as the previous generation. Progress, Steven? Really?
Gunning for Ed Woodward’s job
Give me 250 million and I’ll win the Premier League with Manchester United next season. Now that’s a lot of money but United have a lot of money. Also this may not be worth the read for non United fans but be interesting to see what people think. I definitely don’t think the players I’ve mentioned are untouchable this summer and the values I’ve bestowed upon them are realistic I think. Feel free to tear me to shreds.
I’m assuming the players going out and our strong economic game allow us to accommodate everyone onto our wage bill.
Formation 4-4-2 (Narrow Diamond – Free roles for CAM and the Second Striker)
1. GK – De Bea
2. CB – Bailly
3. CB – Toby Alderwiereld – 65 mil
4. LB – Faouzi Ghoulam – 40 mil
5. RB – Djibril Sidibe – 40 mil
6. CDM – Matic
7. CM – Pogba
8. CM – Fabinho – 50 mil
9. CAM – Sanchez
10. SS – Rashford/Martial
11. CF – Lukaku
12. GK – Romero
13. GK – Pereira
14. CB – Jones
15. CB – Lindelof
16. CB – Rojo
17. CB – Tuanzabe
18. LB – Young
19. RB – Valencia
20. CDM – McTominay
21. CM – Abdoulaye Dacoure – 45 mil
22. CM – Herera
23. RW – Malcom – 50 mil
24. AM – Lingaard
25. AM – Mata
26. AM – Pereira
27. SS – Martial/Rashford
3. Blind – 5 Mil (if they sign and sell)
4. Smalling – 10 mil (Big Sam will pay)
5. Shaw – 23 mil
6. Darmian – 2 mil
7. Ibra – Free
In – 290 mil
Out – 40
NET SPEND 250 mil
1. Toby Alderweireld, 29 (65 mil) – A no brainer. One of the best CBs in the country with proven Premier League experience. The right age for a CB as well coming in at 29 as the senior partner in a fearsome looking CB partnership. Spurs are said to be looking to cash in this summer as well with there being a clause that allows him to leave for much less next summer. Would be the ready made leader United need.
Kalidou Koulibaly, 27 would be my second choice and is a physical monster who I reckon would take well to the Premier League. Possibly an even more fearsome and intimidating partnership than the one mentioned above. Also two years younger than Alderweireld. It’s a definite option now that the African Nations Cup has moved to a summer tournament.
2. Faouzi Ghoulam, 27 (40 mil) – 6’2 for a full back is straight up Mourinho’s playbook. CL experience and probably looking for that big move too. Left sided with a great engine. Will need to get up and down in this narrow formation (so sad that we didn’t go for Mendy, given that I think Mourinho had already made up his mind about Shaw last summer).
3. Djibril Sidibe, 26 (40 mil) – 5’11 or a full back is straight up Mourinho’s playbook. CL experience and probably looking for that big move too. Right sided with a great engine. Will need to get up and down in this narrow formation. Winning mentality already shown and an integral and unsung part of Monaco’s success. Will get World Cup exposure with France this summer.
4. Fabinho, 25 – (50 mil) – Could be that all-action CM we’ve needed for ages and possibly the perfect foil for Matic and Pogba and may just allow Pogba the chance and freedom to shine. Unsung hero from Monaco’s successful run in the CL and in France. Hungry to challenge himself and move on from Monaco. Again great size and pace to his game too. Back up RB too.
5. Abdoulaye Doucoure, 25 (45 mil) – Premier League proven, box to box, knack for goals open to the big move and with Watford going off the boil it would be a good time for him to jump ship now than perhaps wait for a mediocre season next year. Great physicality. Would learn from Matic and take a large workload off him and Pogba. Longer term successor to Matic.
6. Malcom, 21 (50 mil) – Granted I’ve not seen a lot of him but there must be something to this kid if he is wanted by everyone. If the fee touted is accurate and he can be signed at around 50 mil that’s good value in the current market given his age and potential sell on value.. Said the right things about staying on at Bordeaux to help the team as well. Direct and quick and right sided to offer the squad something they don’t already have. Mahrez was the ideal candidate last season but would be too much of an investment to just be an option now that we got Sanchez. Lucas Moura would have been the ideal bargain buy but again United missed a trick there.
I think like City last summer United need to spend and spend big and be decisive. Most importantly have a plan. I think these signing fill a lot of gaps in the current team and everyone is coming in at mid 20’s except for Malcom who is a little on the raw side. The signings give the squad a great core with the right experienced leader at the back. Also everyone is hungry for that big move and they all have something to prove.
Also something tells me these guys will buy into the system and be Mourinho players. Once Jose is gone we will still have the core that will cope.
Only one out and out number 9 but that’s basically been the same problem we’ve had this season and got through it. We do have Rashford, Martial and Sanchez who don’t offer the same thing but can play through the middle up top if we lose Lukaku for a spell.
A 27-man squad should get us through the season with plenty of rotation and we do have a lot of experienced heads in reserves.
Sorry for it being Man Utd centered but I’ve had a lot of time and I miss my Champ Man days of having full control. I was and am really good at that game.
Next year will be our year if this email find Ed.
Hakim, Sri Lanka
Is Mourinho using Jedi mind tricks?
In light of the letters from Adeel and Deji it looks like Mourinho has successfully managed to turn some Utd supporters against some of the players and convinced other supporters that finishing a poor 2nd behind a rampant City and being dumped from the CL in a thoroughly embarrassing way is a successful season.
And he has managed to pull this off while slagging off Utd’s heritage, the players and the supporters. He really is a Jedi Master.
Quick retort on Graham Simons’ critique of Hector Bellerin and AFTV. To qualify this, I think AFTV, while a good idea in principle has become about 4-5 people getting themselves popular and subsequently trying to set up their own YouTube channels. That’s another conversation for another day.
Hector never said anything negative about AFTV, in his Oxford University discussion (which was very good discussing a wide range of issues) he said they have their opinions, are entitled to them but he will listen to coaches and professionals over the baying mob, and rightly so. Funnily enough those 4-5 aforementioned individuals have taken this attention and ran with it, portraying this as a great slight against the fans whereas it’s just a good bit of common sense.
I’m struggling to see what exactly is the difference between his comment on Gibbs (promising under Bould, stagnated under Wenger) to what we’re seeing with Bellerin? Almost identical situations, but different conclusions drawn, seemingly all because he ‘had a pop at the fans’. Which is in itself pretty funny, fans have the right to slag someone as they see fit because they spend their money, but when a player retorts politely with common sense it’s the end of the world and they should be ashamed.
We have one of, if not the best young right back in the world in our squads on a long term deal. Who could probably do with a regime change to continue developing (and we’re hoping it’s coming) but some fans are insinuating they’ll be happy to see the back of him. Madness, they’ll be gutted when he’s running things at Barca and the like if we continue down this path.
James, AFC, North London
…Normally I like a lot of what Graham Simons has to say, I don’t necessarily always agree with his opinions but that’s kind of the point of opinions and it’s always worth a read to understand a different point of view. However I feel he’s taken a bit of an ugly pill on Bellerin and can’t see the wood for the trees.
Personally I didn’t get the hoo har surrounding Bellerins comments at the Oxford University thingy, I was actually quite happy to hear him speak openly and honestly instead of the media-trained blandness. I also pretty much agreed with him as I see the rise of Arsenal TV as nothing but a highlight of how poisonous and negative the rise of social media has been. Let’s not pretend that there is any other reason that YouTube account gets any love other than to laugh at Arsenal Fans. It’s a parody of what it should be. At the heart of it I do believe it was set up in good nature but due to some fruitcakes on it and the need for clicks has driven it into a wall and it gets the airtime it does to mock Arsenal fans. The guys running it know what gets the attention and feed everyone else their delicious helping of controversy they demand.
The article on Hector nailed it. It was his hard work and determination that allowed him to take that first step and take the starting spot but when he needed help and guidance the club have let him down (as with all the defenders, this is not a new phenomenon.) Wenger’s constant will to play players out of bad form is reckless and at times the younger guys need to be taken out of the spotlight and taught how to play properly. How can they be expected to learn from their mistakes if no one is teaching? This very obviously doesn’t happen (again, look how many good defenders we’ve ruined.) Unfortunately under Wenger it never will and we will never see truly how good Bellerin can become and it would be a massive loss to lose him.
Lee (No one but Mustafi makes Mustafi look bad) AFC
Watford not better without Deeney
Your article on Premier League captains was an interesting one, but it does highlight the dangers of drawing conclusions from individual statistics, and shows why context is always needed.
I’ll take my example from the club I support, since I have more knowledge about them than any other. The sentence ‘Watford have performed significantly better without (Deeney)’ needs a lot of context. At the start of the season, under Marco Silva, we took 15 points from nine games. Deeney only started two of those games – a draw and a loss – as Silva preferred the pace of Andre Gray. So in those nine games we took 0.5 ppg with Deeney starting, and 1.55 without him, but that’s too small a sample size to draw any conclusions.
Then Everton sacked Ronald Koeman, and shit went south very quickly at Vicarage Road. We took 11 points from our next 15 games before Marco Silva got his P45. Deeney started five of those 15 games, winning 1, drawing 1 and losing 3. So 0.8 ppg with Deeney starting, and 0.7 ppg without him.
Since Javi Gracia took over, Deeney has started all seven games and we’ve taken 10 points – 1.4 ppg. Not quite as high as those first nine games under Silva but you can see Deeney’s influence increasing in each phase of the season.
The main point here is that there are far bigger factors affecting the team’s fortunes than the presence of their captain in the starting line-up but, trust me, we don’t perform better without him!
On those wondergoals of 1996/97
I’ve another wondergoal to add to Lee the connoisseur’s lengthy list. Step forward Robbie ‘God’ Fowler and his goal v SK Brann in the Cup Winners Cup. Charging forward and with a defender in close proximity, the ball was headed infield towards him from the left but was behind him and knee-high, so without breaking stride he scooped it high over his head with his heel leaving the defender flummoxed, tore into the area and after the ball had finally bounced after returning from orbit, hammered a low shot past the keeper. Two touches, utter brilliance. Honestly, look it up and try not to smile.
On another note, can we start a thread of best footballer’s middle names. I’ve kind of started with Robbie Fowler (his real middle name is actually Bernard), and I know of Chris Roland Waddle, Stanley Victor Collymore, Sulzeer ‘Sol’ Jeremiah Campbell, Gary Winston Lineker OBE and the always entertaining Emile Ivanhoe Heskey off the top of my head, but what other crackers are there I’m unaware of?
Jonny (actually, Danger is my middle name) Dance
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