Keep sending those mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Good. Good.
Louis van Gaal: Thanks for the memories
A moment has passed at Manchester United, albeit, a long two-year moment, but I think, ultimately, Louis Van Gaal has been good for Utd, and Utd good for Louis.
His leaving statements one is a genuine parting of the ways. He clearly felt the allure and prestige of managing Utd, and the family atmosphere that still exists within the club from Sir Alex’s days.
After the way the news broke, so soon, after the final, I wouldn’t have blamed him for being a belligerent and stubborn man, squeezing Utd for everything he could get out of them. And even with the stories from the nationals, clearly leaked by a disgruntled “senior pro”, I’m grateful for what Louis has done.
Utd needed a strong personality, with a vision and a clear idea of what direction he wanted to take. It rubbed players the wrong way, alienated fans, but it also brought some structure and a much needed new foundation to Utd. Sometimes you have to destroy so you can rebuild.
That’s what I feel he has done. We have a group of youngsters that can kick on, Jose can’t ignore, a strong defensive setup. A much younger squad, and the first post Fergie trophy, a real watershed. All of which I’m grateful for, and what Moyes needed to do, but couldn’t. Jose is coming into a very good position, not one of immense strength, but one of a firm foundation and great potential. I’m excited, it’s up to him now, but he owes Louis, and I think we Utd fans owe Louis too, for setting Utd up for the future. Our academy, and potential to sign young players has increased, the outdated scouting system got rejuvenated, and there is a good squad of players in the first team, with the right utilisation. The time was right for us to part ways, but I respect the man for sticking to his principles in the face of intense media pressure and not wavering, you don’t have to agree with his methods, but that’s something I can respect.
So, thanks Louis, it’s been one hell of a journey, but a necessary one, I wish you all the best for the future, and thanks for putting Utd into a position where we can grow again.
Jose has always wanted United
Personally I think a lot of people doom-mongering before Jose even rocks up to Old Trafford are missing one very salient point: Jose has always wanted to manage United. He is desperate to be thought of in the same way as Sir Alex and I honestly think he will do his utmost to make it happen.
I think he will be a lot less twattish and concentrate purely on getting United back challenging at the very top. Iit’s no coincidence that both Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson have sought assurances about Jose and how he will go about things at United before endorsing his appointment. A Jose with a point to prove and money to spend with a core of excellent young players is going to be dynamite and I think with a couple of astute signings we can challenge for the league.
Like I said just my opinion and it could all go pear shaped but it’s going to be a bloody exciting season, bring it on.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Desperate times call for desperate measures
Firstly after the Moyes & LVG era, even Mou at his worst would be a massive upgrade. We are currently at the footballing equivalent of ground zero. So talking in terms of style, the only way is up with Mou even if he produces his most turgid outfit to date.
Secondly, we have reached the point of desperation. We need a quick fix and an immediate return to challenging at the top, especially when those around us (Pep, Klopp, Conte) are doing the exact same thing.
The board didn’t really have a choice to be honest. After the horror show of Moyes & LVG there’s no way they could have risked putting Giggsy & Neville in the hotseat and hoping for the best. Jose will make us competitive straight away and give us a decent chance of winning trophies during his likely three year tenure at the club. It’s going to get harder and harder to continue being this marketing powerhouse while finishing fifth and playing like a pub team every week.
Is it a shame that it’s come to this? Absolutely! But if Jose can deliver us a title and restore us to being a feared team again, then I’m willing to accept whatever mess he creates on his way out of the club.
Dave (Desperate times….) Barron, Nanjing
Pray for Juan
Dropped from the Spain squad and now this, poor Juan.
That next blog post though…
Nick Salt, Durham
Next season is going to be f**king brilliant
Despite conflicting feelings on the seemingly inevitable appointment of Mourinho as a United fan (pros: he’s very good; cons: he’s a bit of a t*t) I’m getting rather excited and intrigued by the prospect of next season’s Premier League title race, mainly due to the absurd line-up of managers, and the huge amount of money now available to teams levelling the playing field for clubs without billionaire owners.
You could make a case for any of the following teams to win it:
City – they have the two best players in the league, and they have Guardiola. If they invest a lot, which they will, and invest it wisely, which they might, they’ll live up to their status as (current) outright favourites with the old camel-toes.
Chelsea – a new and proven manager, decent players in the squad already, and loads of money to splurge.
United – see Chelsea.
Leicester – unlikely, you would think, but unless every team in the league develops a reliable method of countering their tactics then they’ll be up there again. Depends on the players they bring in and how they cope with the Champions League.
Spurs – again, if they invest in two or three very good players, and strengthen the squad with reliable back-up where required, they have the manager to compete. Kane-Alli is as good an attacking partnership that exists in the league, on current form at least.
Arsenal – this relies on an administrative error seeing Ocado (other online grocery retailers are available) delivering a defensive midfielder, striker and centre-back to the Emirates in place of the scented talcum powder and bottles of Malbec that Wenger ordered. They do have one or two of the best players in the league though.
Liverpool – a long shot, but they have the manager to do it, even up against Guardiola and Mourinho. A lot of their players now seem to be nearing fufilling their potential (Lallana; Lovren; Origi) and if three or four new signings hit the ground running, and Sturridge doesn’t shatter like a leant-on Pringle, they could be up there.
So that’s 40% of the league who could win it without it really being a huge shock. Compared to the monopolies in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, as detailed in the recent mailbox, it’s (hopefully) going to be another very good season.
Dan, (it’s camel-COATS, Daniel), Brighton
Spurs should sign Rashford?!
Given all the hoo-ha surrounding Man Utd managers, the FA Cup and impending Euros, the transfer gossip muck-spreader seems to have taken a back seat in the collective football fan psyche.
In general, Spurs haven’t been linked with all and sundry recently, as was always the case (there’s a brilliant “Spurs nearly bought” squad out there somewhere- Rivaldo?)
Now the dust has settled a little and “big club” Arsenal have got over scraping above us by a point for £50-100 million (depending on who you read) more in wages, I’ve been thinking about how will Spurs move this summer? Given Levy’s track record of holding out until 3 games into the season for “value”, and Pochettino’s clear template for types of player he wants and value of pre-season and Paul Mitchell with his pesky laptop, how will this trinity combine with Champions League gravitas and money at their disposal?
I’ll help them out: Carroll, Bentaleb and Mason will/ probably should go. Great servants they have been, title- challengers they are not. Another striker or two are clearly a must, despite Kane not actually existing.
So I can’t help thinking as midfield reinforcement/competition, Gotze would be a perfect fit. We can offer Champions League football, despite Klopp’s relationship and the historic lure of Liverpool. He’s young, a grafter, great touch and versatile. Injury worries would be dealt with by our shiny new training centre (ever the optimist), fits into the Poch Matrix perfectly. Would bring the esoteric “winning mentality” as well.
Secondly, Rashford. I know he’s a raw teenager. But seems immensely comfortable on the biggest stage, has a fantastically mature football brain, would surely blossom under Poch’s tutelage and must be concerned about Mourinho’s imminent arrival and wielding of chequebook. Regular first team football, Champions League, development alongside other bright English talents- win/win. Getting him to leave the Biggest Club In The World TM may be tricky, but better than a loan spell at Hull. Those two signings could be a catalyst to greatness for players and club.
Spurs fan as a dreamer. ‘Twas ever thus.
The United academy lists
In reply to Nelson, Manchester questioning of United’s youth production. Please see below a list of players who came through the ranks at United since the ‘class of 92’ (I agree the term has become a bit annoying). Not all these guys will fit your criteria of ‘genuine top quality’ but have at least played at full international level:
Wes Brown, David Healey, John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher, Kieran Richardson, Jonny Evans, Darren Gibson, Guiseppe Rossi, Gerard Pique, Phil Bardsley, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Robbie Brady, Ryan Shawcross, Paul Pogba, Adnan Januzaj, Joshua King, Danny Drinkwater, Marcus Rashford (inevitable?).
There are others but these are the guys you’ve probably heard of. Most of these players are still playing today and most have had pretty good careers. Drinkwater just won the Premier League with Leicester along with Danny Simpson, another United youth. Pogba is without doubt one of the best midfielders in the world.
You may be under the assumption that top academies should be pumping out world class players every year but that’s a ridiculously high standard. Events like ‘class of 92’ and elsewhere such as when Messi and Co came through La Masia, are rare anomalies. A 2015 report from the CIES Football Observatory on youth training ranked United 14th best in Europe, higher than any other English club.
The most important part of United’s youth policy is the well trodden path from the academy to the first team. United youngsters know that if they train well and apply themselves they will get a chance, this is the most vital component of developing young players and something which I fear will vanish under Mourinho. Hopefully he will try to honour the traditions of the club and use the players LVG has brought through. It would endear him to the fans and allow him some extra leeway should results not match the lofty expectations that are now being set.
O’ Shea (Sunderland)
Borthwick Jackson (Man United)
McNair (Man United)
Verala (Man United)
Riley (Man United)
Lingaard (Man United)
Blackett (Man United)
Rashford (Man United)
…In response to Nelson, Manchester ‘Where are the kids since 92’
Nelson your email must be a hanging off the hook of a fishing rod because I am going to bite the bait.
Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans, The Da Silva twins, Paul Pogba, Ravel Morrison, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverly, Michael Keane, Tom Heaton, Craig Cathcart, Tom Cleverly, Danny Drinkwater, Danny Simpson, Danny Higginbotham, Ron Robert Zieler, Gérard Pique, Pierluigi Gollini, Ritchie De Laet, David Jones, Darron Gibson, Ben Amos, Corry Evans, David Healey, Ritchie Wellens, Guiseppe Rossi, Luke Chadwick (Stop Laughing at the Back!)
Ive missed off a few I’m sure and yes the majority aren’t world class. However they have all had/are having good solid careers in the upper tiers of proffesional football. There’s not another English side in the last 20 years that has created as many players as United who regularly played Top Flight or Championship/League 1 equivalent football in the topEuropean countries. If any of you care to dispute that be my guest. Youth systems need to create players for football in general. You’re not going to get a world class player produced every year and it’s unfair to expect that when we know it’s very rare.
A mail from the future
After the 15/16 season we all knew conclusively that Marcus Rashford was on course to be the best player in the world. His incredible record of 7 goals in 18 games, (which of course included his excellent start of 4 in 2 games, after which he scored 3 goals in 16 starts as a lone striker for Manchester United) meant that only criminal mismanagement could prevent his inevitable charge towards the Ballon d’Or.
We all could see it, Roy Hodgson could see it, but since then Mourinho has come in and Rashford hasn’t played as well, and has only scored 5 goals this season which is obviously terrible, it’s clearly Mourinho’s fault. The conclusion we’d leapt to about Rashford’s level based on a very small sample size can’t possibly have been wrong, therefore, Mourinho out.
Angry United Fan (bring back LVG!), London
Leave Alli alone
Whilst I don’t disagree that Dele Alli needs to grow up, I think it’s a little unfair to paint him as some snarling brute who gets involved with no provocation. He was the third most fouled player in the premier league last season (46) and was fouled at least 3 times against Turkey. He gave away a couple of fouls – one for climbing on the back of a defender when winning a header (which was hugely debatable) and one for diving in on a player where he actually won the ball.
There may have been others, but the point remains that whilst he needs to calm down a bit, people are over egging this a bit – and I would certainly suggest that anyone who claims he his never nibbled at over 90 mins would be better served actually watching the game rather than simply listening to Clive Tyldsley and repeating whatever he says.
On Swiss football
I had actually resisted sending this mail already as I figured it would be too niche to make the cut with all that went on over the weekend, but seeing Micki Attridge discuss dull football in Europe I thought I’d take the chance to reply.
I am in Switzerland, where it is fair to say, the league is up there with those that Micki mentions in terms of predictable winners. The current structure, with the Super League of 10 clubs at the top, and the Challenge League of 10 clubs as the 2nd tier before the semi pro “national leagues”, has been around since 2003-2004. In the 13 seasons since, Basel have won 10 times, and FC Zurich have won 3. No other winners. Basel have the most money, the biggest stadium, the most fans, and the best (and best paid) players. No surprises then that Basel have this season secured their 7th title in a row.
So, is the league dull? Actually far from it. Even though this season (as with pretty much each of the last 7 seasons) has seen the title won at a canter, with Basel effectively on their holidays for weeks now and phoning in performances – at the other end, FC Zurich (champions in 2009) have been struggling all season and are absolute rock bottom going into the last day, relying on fellow relegation candidates Lugano slipping up to have any chance of staying in the league. In a local context, this is up there with any of the “too big to go down” stories we have seen in the Premier League era (pick your own favourite, mine is Forest, apologies to Daniel Storey) but compounded by the fact that the rivalry between Basel and FC Zurich is as fierce as any I have witnessed in the UK (check out any of the many videos of FCZ v FCB that can be found on Youtube – precious little football, lots of fan violence and riot police).
This is just one of the many myriad stories that are out there beyond the simplicity of who wins the title. It would of course be preferable to have more variety at the top of the league (not least because on my arrival in the country, I adopted FCZ as my local team, and even for a “plastic” such as myself, it has been tough watching Basel march to 7 consecutive titles and take scalp after scalp in the Champions League) – but the football on offer is still interesting, and although attendances in the league are relatively poor they are no lower now than they were 9 years ago.
I’m not going to profess to know enough about the French, German or Spanish leagues to comment directly on the stories that might be found there beyond the eventual winner – but in Switzerland at least, just because the title is more or less decided before the season kicks off, it doesn’t make the whole thing boring.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (TL:DR – won’t get published)