Mailbox: Rage at LVG, Woodward, Fellaini

Date published: Monday 11th January 2016 3:19

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We’ll all had it worse than Man United…
Delicious schadenfreude in the mailbox this morning.

Twenty-five years of huge success for Man U followed by three years of average football. As one mailbox contributor said a while ago, build a bridge and get over yourself.

Literally every single club has had it a lot worse than the Man U fans in the Premier League era. I appreciate that the football has been pretty terrible but this wholesale abandoning of the ship is ridiculous.

Who knew that the plastic, prawn sandwich, glory-hunting reputation of Man U fans was true!?
Jon, (ABU since 1994) London


Still think top four is nailed on?
A few weeks back I was roundly ridiculed for suggesting that Man United would not be top four. Just curious if any of those that chose to belittle my opinion would like to come forward and categorically state (still) that for them, top four is a given. Maybe if they go and spend another £200m they might have a chance. But right now Arsenal, M City, Spurs are better. Meaning they are going for one spot against Leicester, Palace, West Ham, Liverpool and maybe Stoke or Everton (even Chelsea?). Would you back them? I wouldn’t.
Brad Smith


What’s the point of being a football fan?
Reading the entitled nonsense from Man Utd fans in this morning’s Mailbox makes me wonder… What is the point of being a football fan?

Is it all about winning? This morning’s mailers seem to think it is. But if it is all about winning, the fact that in every game there is a win and a loss, or two draws, makes the whole exercise pointless. The net gain to football fans is zero. Within these results there is obviously a huge range of positive or negative emotion, but this too balances itself out. The ecstatic joy that comes with a giant-killing win (great to see, Oxford Utd) coincides with the petulant moans of the big teams who aren’t happy even when they do win with a dramatic late penalty (you know who you are.)

So it can’t all be about winning, can it? The average football fan can’t be that stupid. There must be something more to it. I think there is.

My personal journey in football started with me supporting Man Utd as a boy. As my dad was also a fan, I watched all of the games on TV, and even made it to Old Trafford a few times or watched away games when they were closer to where we were living. It was an unforgettable experience, and I was obsessed with the club for years. But then I left England and my passion for Man Utd wore off gradually. Of course it did. With no connection to the club, and my only way of following the team being midnight games on TV, what was the point?

So eventually, more by accident than design, I started going to watch one of my local teams. Thai football is utter garbage, and the league is a corrupt mess. Regardless, I was hooked within a few weeks. My team got relegated by a whisker and there was utter turmoil surrounding the club, who went through five managers that season. And yet I was utterly hooked. It didn’t matter that we lost most of the games. It just made it sweeter when we won. And the most fulfilling part of the experience wasn’t even what was going on on the pitch, it was going to the games, hanging out with the weird and wonderful fans, and being a part of their community. Away trips became a way to explore the country, and going to home games was a routine which never got boring.

That’s why it’s worth being a football fan. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. It doesn’t matter what level you’re playing at. There’s much more to it than that.

That’s my perspective, anyway.

Any other stories out there of people reconnecting with football after years of apathy?
Tom, Port FC, Thailand


Winning doesn’t make this man happy…
I used to be of the opinion that if the team wins, the way we play doesn’t matter. That was before I knew how painfully boring football could actually be. Louis Van Dull is slowly but surely destroying the souls of United fans throughout the world. I used to hate missing a United game, now it feels as if I already know what’s gonna happen before every single game. The only reason Old Trafford can still be referred to as ‘The Theatre of Dreams’ is because everyone is asleep. The time for change is now.
Gaaavie (all I want is some good football), Cape Town
Why doesn’t LVG change his tactics?
The thing that angers me most about United’s insipid displays week after week is the fact that Van Gaal continues to put out the exact same tactics and selections every game. 4-2-3-1 with two defensive sitting midfielders at home to a League One side? Why not play Herrera back in a two with Schweinsteiger to offer a bit of forward thrust whilst allowing Memphis to start on the wing. We were always going to dominate possession so I struggle to comprehend what Fellaini was supposed to be doing, any idiot can tell you he’s not going to fill the role of a deep-lying creative playmaker. I’d like to see United switch to a 4-3-3 with Schneiderlin/Carrick the deepest midfielder and Herrera and Schweinsteiger either side. This would allow a front three of Martial/Young and Memphis/Mata flanking Rooney. If I remember correctly it was a similar formation that was so effective in our run of form that saw us beat Spurs, Liverpool and City in a row last year (Albeit with Fellaini part of the midfield three floating forward to support Young.)
Mark, Belfast


Oooh, what to do now…
I agree and disagree with AS Camden (just to clarify, Van Gaal out) I really don’t understand how anybody can still defend van Gaal. I think he has been given adequate time, resources and support and things just are not working. People may point to the league position but it needs to be looked at in context. The team were first not so long ago and have been slipping down the table. The form has been awful for two months and I haven’t seen anything to suggest it will turn around. You can point at an improved performance against Chelsea, but to me that was an improvement from a 1/10 against Stoke to 5/10 against Chelsea. Swansea was average again and they were downright rubbish against Sheffield. I genuinely havnt seen a convincing performance from the team this season.

On the flip side you can’t say people are anti-United because they support LvG. Some people still have faith that he can turn it around, or they fear that there isn’t a better option in the short term. There is a case to be made for sticking with him in the short term but If he is in charge next season then I believe we are in trouble.

Interim managers can be dangerous, if they do well it’s very hard to give the job to someone else. Di Matteo at Chelsea springs to mind, they didn’t want him long term but they couldn’t not give it to him after what he won.

The new manager bounce from Giggs coming in may be enough to propel them to top four, but I don’t think he is experienced enough to take the job full time yet.
Dan, Ireland MUFC


…Some excellent points were made in this morning’s mailbox, particularly those of Plato – MUFC; if van Gaal is going to leave the club then it will have to be resignation. The board have put themselves in a really difficult position by allowing him to continue, despite all evidence (both statistical and aesthetic) pointing towards the fact that it’s just not working out; they can’t possibly sack him now because of how much crap they’ve put up with so far.

If the current state of affairs, FA Cup progress notwithstanding, isn’t enough to justify his sacking, then what is? Surely the abject failure of a near-full strength team against League One opposition is the biggest indicator that LvG isn’t the right man for the job.

I also agree with AS, Camden’s points. The team that played over the weekend was mostly comprised of Van Gaal players. Darmian, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson, Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Martial, Depay, Lingard and Pereira were all either given their United debuts or signed by van Gaal, so you can’t even say that he’s not had time to build a team. That was his team and his way and it really didn’t work.

The fact that he couldn’t get what he wants from that team, most of whom he chose, says that they’re either the wrong players or the wrong tactics are being used; both of these faults are directly attributable to the manager, and the manager alone. One or two players suffering from a regression in form can be down to the players, but it happening to all of them at once is no coincidence.

Finally, Fred, Belfast was absolutely right in saying that it can’t be Giggs next. Honestly, I’m not sure Mourinho is the right man for the job either (my choice would have been Ancelotti and that train has sailed) but, quite frankly, I’d rather have Mourinho than van Gaal; we might still be crap under Mourinho, but at least there’d be some excitement off the pitch, even if there wasn’t much on it!
Ted, Manchester


Some hope remains…
I did like the mail by AS Camden, hard to argue although LVG has brought some good to the club…hear me out.

I wrote in a while ago about the difference between Moyes and LVG at a time LVG was being heavily criticized for little improvement despite substantial spend. The major difference being the hope that he had brought to the club. Hope of an improved future, blah blah blah (I won’t repeat my mail but it was awesome).

While I still believe there is hope, it is dwindling to the effect that I hope LVG leaves a strong squad for someone else to work with. I hope that some of the many youngsters in the squad make their mark at the club and I hope that we might make the Champions League again next year. I don’t hope for LVG to extend his stay but I don’t want him out until we have his replacement lined up who I hope will be the right person for the job and definitely not Jose. In short, my hopes for LVG’s reign have dwindled a firetruck of a lot.
Jon (Joburg)


Van Gaal to stay…for now
Though I’ve defended Van Gaal for long time I to now agree he should go, however getting rid now isn’t ideal and finding the right replacement is more important than ever.

I get the feeling he won’t be fulfilling his three-year contract, the board aren’t completely stupid (I hope) and there have been little leaks and rumors about replacing him for a few weeks now. This is what usually proceeds a guy getting the sack. So lets say he’s got a maximum of six months left in the job, is sacking him now a better option than waiting till the summer?

Of the possible replacements only Giggs and Mourinho could step into the job right now. From my perspective appointing Mourinho now, in the summer, or at any point is a terrible idea. Its incredible that the same fans who have moaned about boring football for four months are clamoring for Jose to be the manager. He might very well win the league, but for me that’s not worth three years of his pouty paranoid bullsh*t followed by a prolonged and destructive exit. Giving Giggs the job now isn’t a bad idea, six months is enough time for a fair assessment of his ability. If he can improve this team and crucially getting them scoring again the job would be his next season. But what if his inexperience causes the team to regress even further and we miss out on a top-four place, Giggs then wouldn’t be an option for next season and the absence of Champions League football would limit the contenders even more.

If Van Gaal gets until the summer and does achieve a UCL place then there are more options available to the board. Giggs would still be there, as would Jose (you know he wants the United job, he’s gonna wait and see). Even managers who are still under contract become possibilities (Simeone, Pochettino, etc) plus there is still the chance of Pep. It does seem probable that he is Man City bound but as John Nicholson pointed out today if the United job is available it becomes a question of how easy he wants his life to be.

I still think Van Gaal’s team can bore its way to a top-four finish so it;s logical to wait before replacing him, but football and logic don’t seem to go together anymore so who knows?
Dave, Manchester


Actually not anti-Van Gaal
I’m one of those that AS Camden’s mail refers to. I’m not anti-Van Gaal so I guess it makes me anti-United.

It seems to me there were stipulations when Van Gaal took the job that came from Woodward – “Rooney has to play, and I bought Mata* and Fellaini so we can’t sell them”. Van Gaal has done a half-decent job creating tactics that suits these three slow, above average, players whilst bringing through younger ones and new additions.

* Although I had to get my bigger friends in (David and Alex) to make sure it happened.

I don’t like the fact our captain and highest earner is still on the pitch for almost every 90 minutes (apart from when he’s mysteriously injured), we’ve become like Roma or Liverpool, an albatross of a player past his peak stopping other players and the team developing. Off to Everton (would they even want him?), China or USA in the summer hopefully.

Mata actually got criticised by Van Gaal after the match, for not playing wide on the right and stretching the play. So if one of your senior players is not doing the job he’s asked to (and when he does get the ball he just runs sideways for a bit or gives the ball away) what can a manager do? I’d rather the manager have the power in this situation than an overrated player who’s only had four of five top-quality games in the two years he’s been there (which is at least five more than Rooney). Would be happy to see him go in the transfer window.

Our worst football comes when Fellaini is in the team. Get rid.

There is no quick fix, I don’t expect them to buy any big stars, even if we do get rid of Van Gaal, who replaces him? Mourinho would be a huge mistake.

The way the club is being run by Woodward is sh*t, I’m anti-that.
Eddie, ‘Barbarism Begins at Home’ MUFC


More anti-Ed sentiment
Reading your article on Pep to United, I fully agree with everything (trying to be as unbiased as possible…). However I don’t think the problem will be convincing Pep to come to United, it will be convincing United to wheel old grumpy face out in his chair as he refuses to get out of his chair mid-game.

United seem set on keeping Louie after he has spent more than Moyes has and achieved less points than Moyes had (I did read that somewhere…if I’m wrong I am sorry). I can’t see Ed making this move for Pep.

Which brings me on to the issue I have, how do you get rid of Ed? Yes was a brilliant business man and he might be achieving business success with United, but he is not bringing football success with some great signings coming in and then being matched with terrible unnecessary signings for silly money. To get rid of Louie will we need to get rid of Ed first? Does anyone in the mailbox know how to get rid of Ed? Could Ed take a more business job and maybe Fergie could step in with transfer and football issues?

Are Ed and Louie secretly putting a string of 0-0 bets on United every week? Can we drop the pair…..


What has LVG done for us?
In our last 10 games, we shared points with Leicester, West Ham and a self-destructed Chelsea. We have also lost to Bournemouth, Norwich, Stoke and were knocked out of the Champions League by Wolfsburg. All mid to lower-table teams except for high-flying Leicester. We’ve only managed to unconvincingly win at home against relegation-threatened Swansea and a Sheffield United side FORTY SEVEN places below us.

And yet, there are LVG apologists out there defending him, asking for more time for him. The biggest argument they have is that he needs time to implement his blueprint as he doesn’t have the right players to play his system yet.

But wait, two seasons and £250m of buying players later, he still doesn’t seem to know which is his starting 11. And the players still don’t seem to fit his blueprint. Sure we had our fair share of injuries. But ask Arsene, his sick bay is almost always full. Does that mean his teams don’t play his system? Or is LVG’s system that hard to play? And are the players we have and he has bought that thick?

Having said all that, if he’s really such a good manager, wouldn’t he have a Plan B? Or at least work out a Plan B? He’s getting paid a lot of money and he should be able to work with the resources that he has at hand. We’re a squad of full internationals for God’s sake. Not some League One journeymen. Would it not make sense to then play to the strengths of the players you have rather than make them do something they can’t? Square pegs, round holes eh Scholesy? Fergie himself gave Ronaldo the freedom to play his game and made the rest work harder to compensate. Pep was also known to indulge Messi and gave him freedom as well. If that system of his is so rigid, surely the flirtation with the likes of Ronaldo, Neymar, Bale, etc are just red herrings to keep the fans hopeful cos let’s face it, none of this guys can play in this system. We’ll end up with similar situations with the likes of ADM, Mata and Martial. All being played in positions that they won’t enjoy long term.

As for building a team using his blueprint for the future, what evidence of that do we have? The youth set-up hasn’t be shaken up. We haven’t signed a load of promising youngsters that would be able to play his ‘system’ have we? I don’t think United fans the world would demand for a marquee signing every summer if they are able to see a clear plan ahead. Klopp did a brilliant job identifying and buying lesser-known players that we able to play to his system and Dortmund has been reaping the rewards since. For all this talk about LVG being responsible for the introduction of a raft of stars today, I haven’t seen any evidence of that here at United besides some short-term low-impact subs during games (mostly which were forced by injuries). It’s not that easy to spot talent when you don’t have a pool of ready-made talent from the renown academies of La Masia, Bayern Munich and Ajax eh Louie?

So really, take the results out of the equation – what has be brought to the club so far?
Keeps, East Of Mancunia


Mourinho = Van Gaal Deux
With all the discontent over LVG’s ‘philosophy’ and the clamour for Mourinho (from a good chunk of United fans) – I was thinking: is Mourinho really all that different from 2014-16 LVG? More efficient – check. More successful – check. But, purely in terms of style of play, when has Mourinho ever instilled a sense of attacking verve in a team, for a full season, befitting of the United way?

Ideally, you want you team to both win and with with style. Mourinho’s attitude and Utd’s bottomless coffers may guarantee the former. But you’ll still find yourselves craving the latter.


Ruben Loftus-Cheeky love
I realise that I’m likely to sound like a writer for a national tabloid with the following sensationalism, but Ruben Loftus-Cheek has to be the future of Chelsea.

After begrudgingly taking my dad to watch the game yesterday (I’m an Arsenal fan), it was apparent that Chelsea didn’t kick out of second gear, nor that they needed to. Chelsea didn’t look too threatening until Ruben Loftus-Cheek came on for the second half.

It’s the simple things that caught my attention: the anticipation of his runs to receive the ball in space, his first time passing that kept the ball moving, not being afraid to take on a man when there wasn’t a clear pass on and even his defensive work rate was apparent.

I know he’s only 19 and the overstate hype that has followed his performance, but it’s apparent the boy is special and it will be very interesting to see his development in the next six months.

Yes, I know it’s only one game and it is ‘only’ Scunthorpe, but he was only one of a few bright sparks for an Arsenal fan having to watch Chelsea. Scunthorpe to their credit, set up very well defensively and, while they did not achieve that romantic FA Cup upset, they played very good passing football in spells and did League 1 teams credit against the Premier League champions.

For all the talk of the manager merry-go-round at Chelsea and City this summer, I would like to see Pep at the Bridge just because I believe his philosophy would see him develop a team around players like Zouma and RLC, which would be would be great for Chelsea and the Premier League, but crap for Chelsea’s rivals.

Actually, thinking about it, bring Mourinho back and let RLC stay on the bench.
Steve (a realistic Gooner)


Loving another Campbell at Arsenal
Nobody’s wrote in to say it so I’m going to.

How good was Joel Campbell at the weekend?

His movement, commitment, determination and support of the other contender for man of the match Hector Bellerin was exquisite.

It’s even more amazing when you consider that last season Hector was a rookie and Campbell had been loaned out yet again.

I’m sure we’re going to stuff all this up by getting beat by Stoke and Liverpool but it feels pretty good to be a gooner right now.

Finally, how exactly do United fans expect to become more entertaining by replacing LVG with Mourinho? I don’t get it, but then I also don’t care.
Graham Simons, Gooner, RIP thin white duke, Norf London


Some positivity from a Toon fan

It’s been a tough month for Newcastle United, but I can’t help feel that some of my fellow fans have got too carried away with the negativity.

I’m London-based, so don’t get to watch my team as much as I’d like, but having been to both of our latest 1-0 defeats, I’ll give my two cents.

– We’re not that bad. We outplayed both Arsenal and Watford, away, who are both far higher than us in the league. Yes, only Watford, but watch them vs Man City, Liverpool etc and you’ll see. Against Arsenal, I thought we were brilliant.

– Our midfield is solid, but uninspiring. Given how comfortably we ran the midfield in these last two games, it’s unsurprising that Elliott has hardly been tested. Don’t think he made a save on Saturday. However, we lack a creative spark in there to open teams up from deep. We miss Cabaye, and I think that’s why they want Shelvey.

– We need some luck. The last four games we’ve lost 1-0 to weird goals. Deeney’s was a howler by Wijnaldum, Kos goal for Arsenal was a lucky drop and look at Cleverley’s last second winner.. All silly, but cruel goals. And not due to bad shape, play etc by the team.

– We need to score. As we don’t have a creative midfielder, we don’t create a huge number of chances. Those that we do get, we miss. Wijnaldum vs Arsenal, Perez v Watford, Mitro vs Everton. They cost us. Need another option, and Remy makes so much sense.

– Mitrovic is good. A bit like Giroud, very good at holding it up and linking play. But he’s not fast and doesn’t stretch teams. Means we are a bit slow in build-up and struggle when trailing in games and the opposition can sit deep. Our delivery from crosses is woeful, and not making the most of his aerial threat.

– Mbemba is very very good. Needed a good CB for years. Composure is amazing, great on the ball and picks a pass out from the back. Fast, great tackler. He won’t be around for long.

– I think we’ll stay up. Shelvey (see above) and a striker and we’ve got enough. Really we should have beaten Arsenal and Everton in the league and Watford in the cup. We’ve been unlucky, but the performances suggest there’s a good team there. I’d like another CB, but let’s get to 17th first…

Some positivity from a Toon fan, and I doubt you’ll get many of these emails right now!
James (NUFC, London)


Some of us still like the FA Cup…
Matt Pitt is assuming that the FA Cup needs fixing. I’m not so sure that’s true. Just because you don’t like something, doesn’t invalidate it. Lots and lots of us really like the FA cup. Saturday saw my team get its biggest cup crowd for 10 years as we beat a team in the league above us, after what has been a horrendous run of form in the league. Without wishing to attack anyone, since we’re all allowed an opinion on the people’s game, it just depends what you want from football.

The Premier League is a really, really aggressive hegemony swallowing all before it. It demands coverage, it shows it’s great big global market off and demands more. The morally obscene amounts of money thrown around by its clubs as badge of honour draws us all in, encouraged by a willing media shouting names and numbers at random to get the easily distracted to click on their site. And that’s all fine, ship sailed, horse bolted and it’s all good fun, much as the last days of Rome probably were.

But, you know what? I’m thrilled that for a few weekends a season the Premier League f**ks off, and the FA Cup, the old anachronistic FA Cup steps in, and some smaller teams get to play some bigger teams and keep the wolf from the door for a while. That some cliched postmen get a kick at some professional shins. I tend to think the bigger teams are mostly taking the cup seriously these days..and as for there not being ‘proper’ upsets anymore…did you not notice a proper Chelsea team get spanked by Bradford last season?

Seriously, the PL is back on Wednesday. If you can’t go 10 days without the Premier League, then you have bigger issues than the FA do.
Jeremy Aves

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