Mails: Are we sure LVG chose that side?

Date published: Wednesday 16th September 2015 3:01

That XI was so different to anything Louis van Gaal has fielded in the Premier League that one reader wonders whether it’s Giggs’ side. We have more fall-out from Eindhoven…

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Is That Giggs’ Side?
The thought occurred to me when United played their UCL qualifier and having dismissed it then, I can’t do the same again. Was last night’s team selection, formation and tactics really Van Gaal’s instruction? Hear me out, I have a feeling that LVG is giving the responsibility of choosing the first team and tactics for UCL matches to Giggs while LVG chooses the subs (based purely on the defensive composition of last night’s bench) and when to bring them on.

The reason behind this line of thinking is simply the totally contrasting styles and tactics for United in the Prem vs UCL.There were a good few occasions last night I saw Memphis playing across the attacking third yet in the Prem he’s usually confined to the flank. I stand to be corrected but was that the first time Mata has started a game as a 10 under LVG? Added to this, Van Gaal has already stated he’s not too confident in United’s chances in the UCL, so maybe giving Giggs a chance to get some real management experience at the highest level without the pressure of being the main man is part of the plan.

As for the substitution after Luke Shaw’s injury (I was truly distraught when I hit rewind and used slow motion because the producer refused to show us a replay and see Memphis tell the first medic on the field “It’s snapped” with a slicing arm movement), Daley should have stayed at CB instead of changing our central defensive pairing and let Rojo play in the position he excelled in for Argentina at WC2014. As for why I believe LVG chooses the subs, having Fellaini on the field instead of having an option like Pereira on the bench is too risky a choice for LVG even though I would have rather seen Pereira come on instead with Schneiderlin shielding the back four once Schweini tired in the later stages.

Best wishes to Luke and his family.
Raoul Yash (Sunny Durban, South Africa)


PSV Did A Stoke On Us
Not so much a ‘smash and grab’ from PSV as an aggravated assault and mugging. Awful challenge on Shaw and as I recall their excellent left-back had a little tread on Schweinsteiger’s (who’s really started to play well) metatarsals, which also escaped attention. After Shaw, I think I would have had a little cry if anything happened to Schweini.

Other than the Shaw horror challenge, PSV can’t really be blamed for their tactics. They can’t compete financially for the players that United have signed so the circa 2011 Stoke City approach is not a bad one. Defend deep, crunch the oppo and counter, I imagine Philip Cocu had a large cigar after the game and muttered something about a plan coming together.

Lots of blame can however be placed at the door of a referee who I have always thought to be a little suspect – Nicola Rizzoli. His reffing last night was bafflingly inconsistent, he seemed to only want to start bringing his cards out in the second half so pretty much let anything fly early doors. This is the same ref that sent Rafael off for a wee tug back on Franck Ribery so to let Moreno completely off the hook is plain odd. Moreno, who it is safe to say is off United fans’ Christmas card list, had a real hatchet man’s performance – not content with breaking Luke Shaw’s leg he also wiped out Ashley Young and looked like an impressively coiffeured foul machine all match. How he finished up with just a yellow to his name is beyond belief.

Considering we actually looked threatening for the first time in a long time, it was a horribly frustrating game, complete with dreadful injury and pantomime villain. Not the best way to return to the Champions League proper…
Smyth, MUFC (get well soon Luke)


More Penalties Please
I hate to see any player suffer a serious injury. Actually it turns my stomach, so I had no appetite to watch any replays. With this in mind I only saw the Shaw incident when it happened in real time and it brings me to a particular bug bear of mine…

When an attacker gets into the box and fires off a shot, there is a split-second amnesty for any defender to scythe away the legs of the attacker in any brutal fashion they choose. One legged, two legged, flying challenges, high, low, dangerous, innocuous, it doesn’t matter. As long as the attacker has hit the shot, then the ensuing melee of legs flying in to block the shot is a complete free-for-all with absolutely no repercussions for the defender.

We see this in virtually every single game, every single week.

If these challenges happened anywhere else on the pitch e.g. a defender clearing the ball and an attacker who slides in recklessly to block but ends up catching the defender, it’s nearly always an instant red card.

But if it’s an attacker unleashing a shot in the box and a defender sliding in a split second late to block, then 99% of the time, it’s not even a foul. Actually scratch that, it’s 100% of the time, as I don’t recall ever seeing a referee blow the whistle after a shot has been unleashed.

For me, there should be many more penalties every game, every game.

And while I may be a Liverpool supporter, I’m gutted for Shaw. He started the season as possibly United’s best player and his season is now over.
Sean (LFC)


…Seeing injuries like Luke Shaw’s last night ruined the game for me. Hope he gets back to his best as he’s a real talent.

On a side note; I was completely puzzled that there wasn’t even a foul given. Normally in European games, you see the game stopped for pretty innocuous stuff like raising your foot a bit too high (even when you get the ball), touching another players face, while last year I remember di Maria seeing red for what was a pretty limp shove on the ref.

I can’t fathom how that Moreno challenge could have been seen as anything other than dangerous, especially in Europe given he absolutely mullered him. The ref obviously made a decision that it was a fair challenge given the award of a corner.

I don’t subscribe to the view that Moreno deserves a ban, or that United would have won/drawn if another outcome as happened – as a team you need to deal with setbacks and I thought they played pretty well.

I just thought it was a decision that was wholly out of kilter with what I’ve seen in europe in the past ten-fifteen years.
Matt, Warwick


Where Was The Penalty And Red Card?
How was the ‘challenge’ on Shaw not a red card and a penalty?

The defender may not have meant to snap his leg in half but he did. I don’t see you can have any bigger proof of dangerous play.

I’m not usually one to stick up for Man Utd, but not only did they lose one of their best players for probably a season, they were robbed of the result too as surely even they couldn’t have messed up having a penalty at 0-0 and playing against ten men.
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


Should We Judge Injuries On Outcomes?
Like most of us I’m gutted for Luke Shaw after last night. Also as a Utd fan his absence will also be a big blow.

I still wince thinking about it, and could barely keep my eyes open during the replays.

The tackle from Moreno was a bad bad tackle, but in my opinion it was born more out of desperation then maliciousness. Shaw was bearing through on goal and was probably only 12 yards out when the tackle happened with the score at 0-0, so not exactly the time or place to leave one on a player as a PFM would say. Moreno has just tried to stop him scoring any way he can and unluckily for Shaw the fact his right leg was planted in the turf it caused the break to occur.

This got me thinking that I have seen much worse tackles/lunges where luckily the player on the receiving end either didn’t have his foot planted or for another reason (most boil down to luck) no serious injury was caused.

I just googled and watched a clip of Steven Gerrard’s (just an example, no club bias) worst five tackles. There are a couple in Merseyside derbies which he could be charged for GBH, except for the fact that luckily no serious injury was caused. Do we only remember these incidents if a bad injury is the result?
Pedro, Luxembourg


Ted from Manchester and indeed a lot of commentators need to get a grip. While the outcome of the Shaw tackle was horrific, the tackle itself was not. We will see three or four similar tackles this weekend, go unpunished or at worst, the offender will receive a yellow card. Shaw was simply unlucky in how the tackler and his standing leg were positioned relative to each other. Another day, Moreno hits Shaw a second earlier or later, Shaw’s leg isn’t caught under him and Shaw is upended and lands on top of Moreno. The extent of the injury suffered doesn’t and shouldn’t impact the punishment for the offending player.

The flipside of this is that Premiership referees do need to bear in mind that just because a player wasn’t injured, or in some cases hit by the tackle, doesn’t make them any less reckless or dangerous (perhaps it makes them more so, since it suggests the player has absolutely no idea what he’s aiming for).

And suggesting that the referee should be subject to a lengthy ban and that this is all Sepp’s fault, shame on you MC for publishing such banal, reactionary, ill-thought-out nonsense.


Hernandez Not A Loss
I understand why people are bemoaning the strikers United have let go but can we stop mentioning Hernandez as someone it was a mistake to let go? He’s bad at football and hasn’t scored goals regularly in three years. I accept that Fellaini up front is less than ideal but Hernandez as a loan frontman is, if anything, a worse option.
Adrian Fletcher


Play Walcott And Giroud Together
Come along with me and let’s trot down to the early 2000s. One of the most exciting strikeforces around at the time was Heskey and Owen up front for Liverpool and more effectively for England. Heskey would hold up the ball and chip on through for Owen to beat an offside trap to then be left with a one-on-one situation with the keeper. This was effective particularly as whilst Owen was a good finisher he mostly couldn’t shoot from distance (and nor could Heskey). This would then utilise his speed to its maximum potential. I’m conscious that both were plagued by injuries and so this wasn’t a pairing used as much as it could have been.

The reason I’ve walked you down memory lane to retroland is because Arsenal are poised to have the option of playing in exactly the same way were M Wenger to play Giroud and Walcott at the same time. When Theo scored his goal at the weekend it reminded me of Owen at his best. He’d been played through and given the option to pass the ball into the net as a result of his speed.

Of course the problem is playing a system to enable that to work and not lose out on any other important players. My vote would be to play 4-1-3-2 with Le Coq behind Ozil and the Ox/Rambo/Cazorla rotating across the three midfield positions.

Just a thought, but what would I know?


Michael Owen: Thanks But No Thanks
There seems to be universal agreement that Michael Owen is not a good pundit, or even an average one.

His monotone voice serves to dampen his impact even further, where at least Jonathan Pearce can mask his drone observations with his Robot Wars excited voice.

In relation to the ‘David Beckham wrongly stole a mascot’s rightful place’ (which I disagree with), herein lies a player being given preferential treatment based on his footballing reputation and not his footballing brain. Imagine if he had performance reviews like the rest of us – streams of complaints and possibly one comment such as ‘he seems like a nice boy’.

Other former players, media professionals and Journalists (my particular favourite) are evidently denied punditry opportunities by the game swallowing horse lover Mr Owen. Denying us access to better analysis and someone who doesn’t quote the book of clichés verbatim. He doesn’t even seem to take any comments on board, at least with Phil Neville, albeit after his horrendous debut commentary and subsequent twitter humiliation, used the criticism to improve. And improve he has.

Owen, due to his club-jumping escapades, has no real legacy to speak of. This coming from a Liverpool fan who I think would admire him the most – we are indifferent.

He’s not so much digging his own grave, as he doesn’t have one to dig. He will go from being neutrally respected for what he has achieved – to having scorn and judgment poured on him from all fans.

I’ve read Stevie G’s autobiography (the first one); and he fawns over Owen’s ability, seemingly from paragraph to paragraph. But you will be hard pressed to find a snippet of mentions to Owen’s charisma or tactical nous. This says it all, even if your biggest fan doesn’t big you up what will the prejudiced (sometimes) world of football say.

Michael it’s time for you shuffle off and play with your horses and 2.4 children. There’s a nice boy.
Brett (BODMAS – I remember like it was 16 years ago!)


BT’s Goals Show Thumbs-Up
Can I just say, that as wrong as BT sport has got some of its coverage (e.g. Michael Owen), how good the Goals Show was on the BT Sports/ESPN channel. I watched the City vs Juve first half as I hadn’t known about it pre kick off; somebody mentioned it on Twitter at half time I thought I’d flick over and give it a go. I didn’t turn back. James Richardson is always a good start (as someone who used to love Football Italia on Channel 4 years ago) and a panel of journalists (Julien Laurens, Rafa Honigstein and James Horncastle) and Howard Webb basically discuss what’s going on in the games ‘Soccer Saturday’ style, but they actually flick to the live footage when something is happening (for example a free-kick or penalty about to be taken) or show a replay instantly if a goal is scored.

It was kind of frantic at times (eg when Moenchengladbach pressed the ‘give as many penalties in five minutes as possible self-destruct button’), but it was entertaining and did work Julien Laurens’ PSG Cavani overexcitement aside (that said, what a flick by Ibrahimovic). From now on, on the Champions League days Arsenal aren’t playing, I’ll be watching this.

Something positive to say about football coverage on the telly. I need a sit down.
Ian (get well soon Luke Shaw) Dorren, Essex Gooner
More Teams As Bands
I have a few more suggestions for teams as bands:

* Liverpool – Queen. This is because almost everyone you meet who likes Queen only likes Queen and has little interest in other bands. Similarly, perhaps more than any other team, Liverpool fans are interested exclusively in their own team and not football in general. Also, they used to have a massively talented frontman with distinctive teeth, and all subsequent replacements have been pale imitations.

* Swansea – One Direction (until recently). Should have simply been a flavour of the month a few years ago, but have actually lasted at the top a lot longer than anyone could have expected.

* Chelsea – The Smiths. They have talented players but the way they play divides people, with detractors calling it dull and supporters being sensitive to criticism. Also, much like Morrissey, Jose Mourinho could start an argument in an empty room.

* Stoke – Red Hot Chili Peppers. Part of their appeal in the early days was that they were unashamedly quite crude, while later work (i.e. Californication) was rather more accomplished. More recent work hasn’t quite lived up to the previous promise, but there’s no denying the abilities of some of the players.

* Watford – Spinal Tap. Except with managers instead of drummers.

* Manchester United – Coldplay. They play in huge stadia to thousands of people all the time, yet if ever someone tells you they really like them, you instinctively devalue their opinions on other subjects afterwards.

* Tottenham – Bon Jovi. On the surface they look and sound a little bit like Motley Crue or Guns N Roses, but really they are a watered-down, pre-watershed safe, blander version. Likewise Spurs have all the hallmarks of a side able to cut loose and break into the top four, but don’t really have the substance to do it.

* Aston Villa – Razorlight. Their leader talks them up as the second coming of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Clash rolled into one, but really, they’re a bit sh!t.

* Crystal Palace – The Clash. The greatest band this country has ever produced. I’m half-joking. There is a swagger about them these days, the way a band enjoying success by making the most of its technical limitations handles themselves Glaziers fans are also some of the highest-profile ‘Against Modern Football’, despite being in the Premier League, leaving them open to accusations of hypocrisy akin to the Clash being dismissed as ‘champagne socialists’.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (Ian Wright’s glasses make him look like Bookworm from Toy Story 3), CPFC the Glaziers, Notts


…Enjoyed Matt, LFC’s Yardbirds-Spurs comparison earlier. I’d also add that the output of both is actually very average, and nobody would have heard of either if they weren’t from London.

As for my mob – Villa? Kula Shaker. Yes, they’re still going…
Neil Raines


The Day The Football Died
With the new ‘site layout and Chelsea banning banter, no one seems to have noticed the biggest change of recent: Mediawatch ditched the Friends reference.

I just died a little inside.
Ade, Lagos

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