If you have anything to say on any subject, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And read Mailbox guest Jon Tucker on the journey of the anti-plastic. He ditched Manchester United for League One Southampton. It’s great.
Arsenal transfer targets
Do Arsenal pick transfer targets exclusively on the basis of having the same haircut as the rest of their outfield players, or does Wenger insist on a trip to the barbers before their first photocall?
Xhaka looks like a cross between Ozil and Sanchez.
Nice of Carl Jenkinson to let Arsenal.com use his lounge for their first interview with Granit Xhaka
Mourinho will do the one thing Fergie never did
It’s been a few days and I have had time to digest what is going on at Manchester United. The Horny One has left and now we now await the return of the Special One.
To be honest, I have mixed emotions about this – LVG was a senile old man but nonetheless he came across as a genuine nice guy. It’s a shame he had to go this way. If we had an option to choose between a successful LVG or unpredictable Mourinho, I am almost certain that people would choose the former. Alas, he ultimately failed and got sacked in this cut throat business football world that we live in. His dismissal has now left Arsene Wenger as the last remaining ‘Godfather’ of football management left in the game but that is a topic for another day…
Mourinho in my opinion will restore order to the club in terms of performances on the pitch and get us back to winning ways which when is what at the end of the day it all boils down to. We might not like his play, his theatrics or his press conferences but going by his track record (except Chelsea 15/16) he is a winner and that is what we need. No Mr nice guy required. We went down the scenic route of the successor to carry on Ferguson’s legacy and we all know how that went. We then tried Ferguson’s Dutch counterpart who at the time of joining had a touch of class about him and even that failed. Now is the time we embrace the fact that we are not the fairy-tale club – Leicester TM – we are no different from the rest so once we come to terms with that we can get on with our lives and help build this club back up. Yes Ferguson build us up on his own with 26 years of grit and determination but just like that in 3 years it has all tumbled down but now the only way is up. We need Mourinho just as much as he needs us and who knows he might get his act together for the big gig. The one he wanted all along.
Let’s focus on the positives now – one huge bugbear of mine during Ferguson’s tenure was his lack of ‘marquee’ signings. He was so good as a manager that he didn’t need them but let’s be honest. We all wanted them and we will now get the Benezma, Higuian, Ibra, Varana, James etc etc that we have always wanted and quite frankly that is good enough for me. Along with this he will clear out the deadwood so that’s a huge tick for me on that one.
Secondly, more crucially, he will win. He is meticulous in his planning and will get the best out of his squad. They will die for him and play like every game is a cup final. It’s been 3 years since we seen passion on that pitch and I am looking forward to seeing again a sense of solidarity and downright desire to win for the club.
What else? He will rejuvenate Rooney, he will actually nurture, not hinder Rashford – he is a talent out of a million, a man as smart as Mourinho would not let that go to waste. He will take away the negativities aimed at the team and carry it over his shoulders which is a manager’s responsibility, to fight for your staff and colleagues and he will do that in abundance. He will re-lay Ferguson’s foundations of winning and that is all we need right now.
Let’s just sit back and relax and remember that our club is now in safer hands than it has been in a long time and be prepared to win again. Giggs and Neville can come in 4 years time and pick up where he left off and bring back the ‘United Way’ but quite frankly, right now I do not care – I want to win, I want us to be successful. I don’t want MUFC becoming a fallen giant like AC Milan or Inter – we just can’t. We are too big for that. Aren’t we?
I would be interested to know other people’s thoughts on this.
P.S. I wonder what the odds are on him running down the touchline celebrating a last minute winner by Martial against Chelsea a la Porto (5000/1?).
AA MUFC GLA
What do Chelsea fans think?
In all the deluge of rabid Mourinho articles, which quite frankly are boring me already, I haven’t heard many asking how Chelsea fans feel about all this?
Their most successful manager, going to manage their rivals and almost certainly to his dream club, the job he’s had designs on since his Porto days. How does that sit?
I suspect most people don’t give a f*ck what Chelsea fans think about, well, anything. And quite rightly. But I am intrigued in this case.
United have become Liverpool
It seems to me that the modern world has become incredibly short sighted and all about immediate gratification.
People don’t care about the future, no need for plans or considering the possible negative outcomes. In we leap and if it’s full of flames we’ll just blindly leap out to the next burning platform relying on hope.
Back in the day we United fans had a term for these people: Liverpool fans.
Of course we were living in an idealistic world. We had a good long term manager, a successful team, and a plan we trusted in.
When that ended many of us recognised that we were in for a period of instability, that we might not see success for a period but there was a plan and we trusted it would see us through. Of course no one expected mid-table-Moyes to be quite such a failure, we just hoped it would take him time to find himself.
Then we appointed a proven manager with a long term plan for the squad and youth development, while an ex-pro learned the ropes as assistant. It may not have gone as smoothly as we hoped because it wasn’t very well thought through (I see a pattern forming!) but he did clear out the squad, solve a bunch of issues, gave youth a chance and won a trophy.
Now the axe has fallen again and we are looking to appoint another very flawed option to the hot seat. This time a short term option, for instant success at the expense of the plan and the future. That seems pretty badly thought through to me.
A few years ago we looked at Liverpool and thought we would never do that, never jump from one managerial mistake to another. We had trust in the plan thanks to the power of Sir Alex, but the bankers have well and truly stolen the club now. They care only about money, not the fans not what the club has stood for. The only people standing in their way are two old knights and one respected ex pro who has been left in the cold.
If Jose is appointed without Giggs, the plan has been abandoned and we are no better than Liverpool except for having more money (made by stability). That makes me very sad and should all the true fans of United rather than just those who want to bathe in its reflected success.
Bow down to the United academy
“Ashley (Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend, really?) Metcalfe” mentions that 2.5 of the players in the current English squad a United Academy players, but let’s have a look in more detail:
– Tom Heaton: Was poached from the Wrexham Academy and then loaned out to Swindon Town, Royal Antwerp, Cardiff City, QPR, Rochdale and Wycombe. In his only season for United, he was fourth choice GK behind Edwin Van Der Sar, Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak at a key developmental age (21). Total first team appearances at United: 0
– Danny Drinkwater: This was a rare totally homegrown player for United. Unlike most United fans, he’s actually from Manchester. Was loaned out to Huddersfield, Cardiff, Watford and Barnsley. Moved to Leicester, where he went up the leagues, was given extended playing time and has now become a top player. Total first team appearances at United: 0
– Marcus Rashford: From what I’ve read, this is one for the future from Roy’s point of view, but I’d love to be proven wrong and for him to earn a spot in the squad (and even make some appearances!). He has been given a chance in the first team squad and I don’t want to take anything away from LVG for that. However, the manager who initially gave him his chance has been replaced by one who famously doesn’t nurture youth players and instead goes for short term instantaneous results. Total first team appearances at United: 17.
It’s not exactly compelling is it? Our third choice keeper and two who are among the favourites to be dropped, including one who has only been playing in the first team since February (although that is more of a reflection of the state of the national team!).
Rashford and Martial to Boro
Jose hates young players, we all know that. But no one’s looking at the silver lining here – he’ll send them out on loan…to his good mate and fellow Jorge Mendes client Aitor Karanka.
So, welcome to Boro Marcus Rashford and Antony Martial. We’re sending Chris Rea and Jet from Gladiators down to get you right now.
We’d have Luke Shaw too, but I think he’d get bored sat on the bench watching George Friend play every week.
Concerned about Roy
The build up to Euro 2016 has been overshadowed by the events at Old Trafford but I wanted to share my thoughts – concerns really – about the England team about to be assembled by Roy Hodgson.
In my view there a few different approaches to assembling a high performing team. You can have a preferred system of play and then find players to suit the system and maximize its effectiveness.
Or you have outstanding players in certain positions/roles and build a team around maximizing their impact. Or you have a philosophy/methodology for playing (pressing, counter attack etc) and build a team around perfecting the method.
Obviously, these are not mutually exclusive and most managers of clubs and international sides adopt some blend of these. The starting position for defining the team strategy tends to come from the players available to the manager and this is especially true for international teams. However, the availability of players seems dominate the thinking around the England team to the detriment of actually finding the best way of playing.
Looking at Roy Hodgson’s squad, he seems fixated on picking the best players and then finding a way of playing them but without a clear vision of what the system or method will be.
He seems to have adopted an emergent strategy whereby he will work out what to do with the players once he has put them through their paces. You could argue that there is nothing wrong with this approach and it is sensible. However, the fitness and form of many of the players chosen is questionable and if these are to be the central plank of our playing strategy then we should be very concerned about how we will perform as a team.
Given the form and fitness of several of Roy’s “key” players it would make sense for him to look at those who have performed best in the last few months and then build a method/system to suit them. This would probably mean playing two defensive midfielders to support the shaky defense and utilize our key asset of pace by playing on the counter attack. Playing like this would also dictate that the best players to execute it are actually played in their correct postilions (e.g. Vardy).
It seems that Roy is not keen on doing this and instead is determined to fudge a system of playing that accommodates certain players (Rooney, Wilshire and Henderson) in the hope that they will produce a better result than adopting a system that better reflects the players available. The additional flaw in Roy’s thinking is that in accommodating these players he also asking them, and their supporting cast of team members, to play out of position. For example, a team that has Vardy out wide, Rooney in midfield and Wilshire in a holding position is compounding the problem not alleviating it.
A brave manager would sacrifice the players for the system and methodology or sacrifice the system and methodology for the players. Sadly, the latter can only really work if you have truly high performing players who would more than make up for the deficiencies in the system.
England do not have such players at present and I am very concerned.
The quotes in Mediawatch about how “ludicrous” it is that managers only have a “lifespan of 13-14 months” would carry more weight were they not from a man who:
*Resigned from Sheffield United after one season to take up a job at Huddersfield Town, where he lasted 17 months.
*Taken over at Wigan Athletic and then left them to move back up the pyramid to Crystal Palace.
*Negotiate to take over at Birmingham City just six months after he joined the Glaziers, something that brought about gardening leave and a court case.
*Leave Birmingham in 19th in the Premier League to return to Wigan, leading to a then-world record compensation fee for a manager.
*Leave Wigan again to move to Sunderland.
A few years ago there was run of managers who were all perceived to be unfairly sacked, and in every case the LMA were quoted expressing their disappointment at what had happened. However, they were marginally less vocal when one of the members – and Steve Bruce was at the vanguard – did one to another club for more money.
While I do think the turnover is rather high, and that it’s pointless giving someone a three-year contract and then dismissing them after three months, it could be argued that certain managers have made rods for their own backs.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (it’s not a character, just a sequence of phonetic sounds that looks good on a t-shirt)
Rafa has dared to give me hope again and for that I am grateful.
He’s going to get sacked 10 games in isn’t he?
Paul (Cloob), Newcastle
This time for Africa
Reading the news that Leicester are bidding £23.5m for Ahmed Musa fills me with dread.
I can’t remember an African player signed from the Russian league ever becoming a success.
The three off the top of my head are Niasse, Eto’o and Samba.
I would happily like to be proved wrong, but I’m sure there are more I can’t think of that would justify my point. Any suggestions welcomed.
Prior to my previous email, please can you add Doumbia to that list.
Love for Wor Al
I thought the recent piece on Shearer was spot on in some respects. He was a Division 1 striker in the Premier League era. However, the article went down the same alley that most Shearer-related articles do. That being, that he’s a legend because he went to Newcastle, his Blackburn career didn’t really matter so much.
On the contrary he’s a legend because he helped the most average team in the Sky Sport / football-started-in-1992 era win the league. He’s the reason Mark Atkins and Paul Warhurst both have premier league winners medals.
His record at Blackburn was unparalleled: 112 goals in 138 league appearance over 4 seasons – Averaging 28 goals per season (including a season he missed half of with a snapped ACL). Conversely at Newcastle it took him till the eighth season to get to the same goal total. I’m sure Newcastle fans may disagree with this, but he was by far at his best with Blackburn, he never really returned to performing at that same level after the injury in his second Newcastle season.
That said, what am I splitting hairs for? He’s not going to be knocked off his 260 goal perch for a long time yet. Thwack indeed.
Tom, BRFC, Sydney
(btw almost cried at the Shearer highlights video, memories).