Mails: Can United Be Like United Again?

Date published: Thursday 1st January 1970 12:00

Mails: Can United Be Like United Again?

It’s another cracking mailbox – let’s take it all the way through the week. Mail us at

Transfer Window Reporting Woe
I just took a quick look at the transfer centre on my Sky Sports app (I know, I know). Among the bullsh*t included in the blurb was a line reading ‘Benzema plays down move’. For no good reason, this misrepresentation of his actions has really bothered me.

When last I checked, Benzema’s exact move to address the rumours of a move to Arsenal was to take to Twitter and utterly deride the peddlars of that nonsense by calling them ‘clowns’. A tad strong in comparison to the usual party line of sober rebukes, but refreshing insofar as I felt like it had done enough to completely blitz the rumours into obliteration for this window.

But no. Apparently his words only constitute ‘playing down’ talk of a move, which as we know never ever stops the red tops from continuing to report it as a possibility. The frankly absurd pack of lies surrounding Neymar has been played down repeatedly already this week, but shows no sign of subsiding, for example. Surely Benzema’s reaction should be reported as him ‘dismissing’ the rumours surrounding a move, or even ‘scotching’ them (my personal favourite)?

Seriously, what does it take to permanently dislodge a clear fabrication from the rumour mill? Short of Benzema being offered and subsequently signing a new contract, it appears that the click-baiting lie machine has too much momentum at this stage to be interrupted until the window lurches to its long overdue close. I know the above example is little more than a technicality, but I did take it as being indicative of a blanket refusal by the media to just let transfer rumours die when they really should.
Keith Reilly, MUFC, Dublin

Awful Stuff
Manchester United Target Bale In Shock Medical: Headline in Daily and Sunday Express online, and most viewed story in last 24 hours on There can be no other way to take that headline right?

Depressingly no, upon taking the click bait: It transpires that Gareth Bale has had a toe scan after a recent game against Sporting Gijon. He’s not even injured.

I haven’t seen a headline this frustrating since President Dewey defeated Truman.
John Cullinane

Sources Close To Mediawatch
‘We suggest that Juventus hold out; Chelsea will be offering £100m by Tuesday.’

Is this a subliminal experiment whereby Mediawatch, the unofficial arbiters of transfer window guff, attempt to get themselves quoted as a ‘source’ in an SEO-tastic non-story by teatime, thus highlighting the ridiculous nature of ‘investigative’ football journalism?

Come on Daily Star, don’t let us down…

It’s Going To Be Our Year…
‘If not for Cech, Coquelin, the crossbar, and let’s face it, the linesman, that would’ve been three points.’

Well, yes, and if it wasn’t for his grotesque testicles, my uncle would be my aunty.
Alex, (don’t ask), Ayr

Chill Out Arsenal Fans
Why is it when a striker or a midfielder comes back into the side they’re forgiven rustiness and allowed games to get ‘up to speed’ but defenders aren’t?

Arsenal had a decent goal disallowed last night.

Both teams hit the woodwork (shots off target) and both keepers made saves.

Not too long ago Arsenal fans would have just been delighted to have a fourth-choice CB.

More importantly though, I remember a time when any team would have been delighted with a clean sheet with their third and fourth choice CBs ( ith the Invincibles that’d have been Keown and Cygan starting last night.)

Usually when your team deserves to lose and you get away with one, it’s something to be happy about.
Doug, AFC, Belfast

Hump It, Arsenal
There is a scene in the film ‘Dodgeball’ where ‘unique’ coach Patches O’Hoolahan says that to achieve Dodgeball victory a team needs to ‘grab it by it’s haunches and hump it into submission.’

This springs to mind when I look at Arsenal last night. I’m a relative neutral but have always had a soft spot for the Gunners due to one of my best mates supporting them, so I see more of them than most other teams. Yet all I see is consistent frustration and a lack of anyone willing to follow said advice and get humping.

It’s not in the big moments I see it though, it’s in the little things. I see it every time one of their players passes instead of shoots when on the edge of the area with a good sight of goal. I see it every time one of their defenders plays a silly pass to an under-pressure teammate instead of taking control of the situation. And I saw it last night in one particular instance.

In this instance Arsenal had a corner that Mignolet flapped at, sending the ball up in the air. This can create potential chaos in the box for an attacker to take advantage of. Instead the Arsenal players all stood and watched as the ball descended and a Liverpool player was free to head it away under no pressure. Why did nobody attack it? Why did nobody at least make it difficult for the defender? Why did nobody grab the situation by its haunches?

It seems an ingrained mentality at Arsenal, players not wanting to take control, not wanting to really impose themselves on the game and Petr Cech ain’t going to change that.
Charlie H (NCFC)

Losing Faith In Arsene
Last night’s game was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After a summer of endless opportunities to join the elite clubs in England, Arsenal have shown that they are as vulnerable and weak minded as ever…sadly, I finally agree with Stewie Griffin (a little bit of sick just came into my mouth).

The club’s patience with Wenger is starting to seem unjustified. In no way does he seem up the task of making the team better than that of Chelsea, Man City or Man Utd. This patience has been passed from Wenger onto the players. You do not have to try your hardest, you do not have to be the best, we will be patient and nurture you is the message that Wenger puts out.

Given the substantial funds Arsenal have, here’s a list of players that most top clubs would have replaced due to them not performing at the required level for a title-winning team: Monreal, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Arteta, Flamini (Obvs.), Ramsey, Walcott and Welbeck. Even if you disagree with a couple of those, ask yourself if you think that there are better, more consistent performers with stronger winning mentalities out there in world football. These players have been given time to deliver and have failed to reach the level of game winners. So instead of buying better players, Wenger shoehorns players like Ramsey into positions where he is very ineffective.

A lot of people deride Mourinho’s management, but when it comes to improving the team and creating a competitive, winning mentality, he absolutely nails it. Despite Chelsea’s early issues, you know that Mourinho will do what’s necessary for the club to improve. Big names will be dropped and sold, and money spent on players to come in.

I just wish Wenger had the spine to replace players that aren’t of the required standard. The counter argument is looking at the players Wenger has developed, but times have changed and you cannot afford to have half of your team as ‘developing to the required standard’.
Jake (Imagine Pedro playing on the right instead of Ramsey)

Try Something Different, Fella
I think Neville is right, and it’s a mixture of both arrogance and naivety from Wenger. It was interesting to hear Thierry Henry talk last night about Wenger’s mindset (and tactics) changing via the emergence of Cesc Fabregas. When he turned up, Wenger decided that the team must be built around him, but because he was neither a Vieira or a Gilberto, the way we set up completely changed.

As Neville flicked through the footage of the Arsenal of old last night, quick transitions from back to front were devastating. We were a very direct team, always looking to play the ball forward within 10 second from the back. Win it back, give it forward, have an effort.

That’s what made last night all the more depressing. We are so slow now. The tippy-tappy passing (that Fabregas first patented at the club) can look lovely when it comes off (Wilshere vs Norwich, Rosicky vs Sunderland) but more often than not it allows the opposition to soak it up, get men behind the ball and see it away.

Shock horror, Ramsey on the right is not working. I don’t think he, Cazorla and Coquelin fit into the same team. Last night I felt the Welshman dallied too much on the ball, came inside too much and although he scored a perfectly good goal, didn’t really threaten from the right.

It’s time for Wenger to show some balls. The ship has sailed on signings – they’re not going to come, so the next best thing would be for him to PLEASE come up with a Plan B and not be afraid to change tactics. Liverpool were set up with a narrow three in midfield, so why not start Ox, stretch them wide and get them thinking. He was an absolute menace when he came on and he’s itching to start.

The lack of adventure is so boring. Players are crowbarred into a 4-3-3, regardless of whether they’re a centre midfielder playing right or a tiny striker that would thrive off playing with a big man in a 4-4-2 (yes, Walcott has the potential to be an Owen type, but modern football doesn’t allow for this type of striker).

All in all, we’re not going to win the league and we’ll probably end up third or fourth. Fantastic.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex

The Curious Case Of Theo Walcott
A truly excellent game. Sitting in the Emirates last night, it was one of those games where I was on the edge of my seat for 90 minutes.

However, I do need to take issue with large elements of the crowd and their strange affection for a certain Theo Walcott. I genuinely think there are some Arsenal fans suffering from a very bad case of short-term memory loss. Every single game I watch a scrawny sprinter enter the field of play and quite clearly avoid getting involved. The
crowd groan every time he loses the ball but this is the same crowd that will call for him to come on when we need a goal the very next game. He has a terrible touch and awful movement. How the guy is in the same pay bracket as Alexis and Ozil is an absolute mystery (or maybe not given the English premium/greedy agent combination).

I know some will say ‘we should always back our players’ but why are we singing for a hugely ineffectual player to come on over someone like the Ox who made something happen within two minutes?

Or is it just me?
David (perfect start as we look to regain our 4th place trophy) Mendez

A First Conclusions Attempt
* Liverpool were far better than I thought they’d be. They seem to have grown in confidence again, in spite of having such a wally as a manager.

* Firmino and Gomez (as well as Clyne) look like footballers (in the way that Michael Owen was probably trying to say).

* Michael Owen is a d*ck.

* Petr Cech and Le Coq were outstanding for us.

* Ozil is still amazing but must fear for his reputation as he’s on a different wavelength.

* Alexis is way over-relied upon.

* I severely miss Wilshere. Far more than I thought I did. Him and even Danny Welbeck could well have made the difference. Is that what M Wenger is thinking?

* Callum Chambers looks like such a nice guy I don’t want to hear a bad word said about him. He’s young enough to be my child (if I was careless as a 17-year-old). In fact, they are all so young these days.

* Gabriel was immense. I think this was overlooked while Chambers was trying to remember how to play football but he took charge and clearly reorganised the pack to make sure it was him marking Benteke and not Chambers (poor lamb).

* Benteke is really good. Really good. In fact, the way he won pretty much every ball played up to him (via head or foot) I almost decided he was superior to our hunky striker.

* Giroud is still disappointing. It’s a shame as I’ve been championing him for some time now but finally I’m giving in to Storey and co and fell that we could do with better.

* That said when he was replaced by Walcott, he was hugely missed. Walcott has his contract now so he doesn’t need to be any good for a few years. This showed and is clearly showing in training, otherwise he’d be starting.

* Is there a striker around that could have converted our chances? Hmmm, we’re clowns are we? Does that mean there’s still a chance?

* I’m not even sure anymore that a striker is what we need. A really effective winger to balance the amazing Ox might do the trick. How about Reus? De Bruyne? Oh God, I don’t know anymore.

Lazar Love
Very happy with yesterday’s point and the start of the season overall.

I have written in the past about Rodgers need to take things slow this season. I felt he was very pragmatic about how he set up his team. I also agree with his sit back and counter approach to try and snatch the points at the Emirates. It was an approached he seemed to stubborn to try last season.

One thing I do hope for is the return of Lazar Markovic. I have very much liked Rodgers’ plan of throwing on a speedster at the end of the game to stretch tired defenses but I can’t help but think Moreno should not be the first name on the sheet for that responsibility. Watching him try to take his 115 pound body (when wet) and try to ram through three Arsenal defenders while Benteke had made a great peeling run and Ibe streaking down the right left me very frustrated. That was a big moment in the game and I can’t help but think Liverpool had someone of attacking minded quality in their ranks who may have done more.
Brian (He also cost 20 mil so let’s give him another go) LFC

Milner: Doggy Style
James Milner is a dog. I love dogs.

I am so impressed with James Milner in the first three games this season. He’s been MOTM in each one for me.

He leads by example as well as constantly talking to those around him. You can see him barking orders at all players all the time.

He’s constantly pointing to where the ball should be played. He’s cool and calm in possession.

He hasn’t brought his shooting boots yet but I’m confident he’ll be in the 5-10 goals category by the end of the season.

The real impact Milner has had is the press. A lot was made last year of Liverpool dropping their press from the 13/14 campaign.

This of course was never what Brendan wanted but the legs weren’t there as well as a lack of desire from some players.

James Milner is at the oppositions heels all the time. He’s like a terrier the way he nips at them constantly and when he can he bites hard.

There is a time to press. I believe in management speak this is called a ‘trigger’. The trigger for Liverpool (may be for all teams not sure) is when
a player receives a pass back into the centre from a wide man or when any player receives the ball with their head down.

Just watch Milner act on these triggers. He is so quick out of the blocks on these he nearly always forces the ball backwards. It doesn’t look like a lot when watching a game but this means that the ball can end up back with the goalkeeper for a long kick downfield down to 50p head Skrtel or back to a centre-half who isn’t as good at playing passes as the central midfielders. You’d like to see the ball back with Chambers instead of Santi which Liverpool managed a lot in the first half last night.

The second half last night saw Milner drop deeper but when the chance came again he pressed and the roars and pointing at other players to press was brilliant to see and hear.
Add to all of the above that he is a great passer and crosser of the ball.

He’s not the perfect player but he is perfect for Brendan and how he wants his teams to play.
Gough, LFC, Dublin

…In reply to Ian, LFC, Hartford, CT USA, who claims he is ‘deeply disappointed’ by Milner – what game were you watching?!

Milner was immense last night, especially in getting the attack going from the back while he had cover from Can and Lucas behind. In the first couple of games he was restricted to covering the defence a lot and was probably sitting deeper than he’d have liked to have been, but last night he was playing like a good old-fashioned box-to-box midfielder – winning the tackle, getting it to our playmakers, joining them in the attack.

Playing both Lucas and Can in the tougher fixtures would get so much more out of Henderson or Milner, depending which one would start in that system. The obvious problem is: which one do you drop?
Peter Klein

Big-Ups To Rodgers
I know you’ll have had loads of mails about the match last night but I just have a few points I wanted to add into the discussion…

I thoroughly enjoyed Rodgers’ post-match presser declaring that Ramsey’s shirt was offside and that it was a great call by the linesman. After the pelters he’s been getting from our own fans, let alone others and the media, it’s really nice to see Brendan walk into an interview and slam his brass swingers onto the table. Confident Rodgers is my favourite Rodgers and it seems very much that he’s got his tail (rightly) up.

Speaking of confident Brendan, his continued faith in Joe Gomez (who has been impressive) and his backing of Rossiter is further proof that Brendan is feeling like he can take risks, take chances and that’s when we’re at our best.

7 from 9 from the first three, including two aways that we shipped a total of 10 goals in earlier this year. This team is healing wounds from last season and looks to have purpose again, a way of playing. It’s aggressive and it’s on the front foot. I’m very excited.

Ramsey’s goal should’ve stood. Benteke’s last week should’ve been disallowed. Do I care? Do I balls.

After that, I believe an attack of Phil, Bob, Big Chris and Studge should be more than enough to cement a top-four place at the minimum.
Kris, LFC, Manchester

Who’s Naive Or Arrogant Now?
A quick couple of questions for Gary Neville…

Louis Van Gaal has stated time and time again that Rooney, Hernandez and Wilson are more than adequate for strikers for the season.

Is Van Gaal arrogant or naive?

Manchester United have spent the summer chasing unobtainable transfer targets rather than go about their transfer business in an appropriate and professional manner. See Ramos, Muller and now Neymar as examples.

Is Manchester United Football Club arrogant or naive?

Just wondering is all.
Kevin Walsh, Luimneach

Gaalacticos? No Thanks
Please can the transfer window close immediately? As a United fan this summer has been a real rollercoaster with the highs of signing Schweini and Memphis to the lows of (allegedly) missing out on Pedro. The thing that is getting to me more than anything though is this apparent change in transfer policy that seems have come in since Fergie departed, with SAF at the helm we bought one or two ‘top top’ players a season to supplement the youth coming through but as soon as he left us the club seem hell bent on trying to sign a marquee player without much thought to the balance or needs of the squad.

Since Moyes came to United we have been linked with ever increasingly ridiculous transfer targets from (the not fat) Ronaldo or Bale tp now Muller and Neymar. Neymar, really? There is every chance that the Neymar story is just media BS but I find myself feeling very despondent over these rumours rather than excited because there is absolutely no chance of any of those signings happening and all it serves to do is make the club seem increasingly desperate and rather ridiculous.

Us United fans have loved to use the ‘buying success’ stick to bash Chelsea and City fans over the head with, accusing their clubs of vulgar antics, throwing money around and being classless but United are no different now and that depresses me. Personally I couldn’t give a toss how City or Chelsea made their money or how they spend it, I just don’t want to see United become a team of galacticos and turn their backs on the policy of giving youth a chance and crucially, losing a British core to the squad.

The Balotelli Experiment
In the wake of Super Mario going to back to Milan has there ever been a transfer where every man and his dog could see it wasn’t going to work out, that actually did?

Makes you wonder how every fan in the land could see this was doomed but the scouting department of one of the so called biggest clubs in the world couldn’t.
Andrew, NUFC, Gateshead

Serie A The Prem’s Slower Cousin
With Lamela, Cuadrado, Bolotelli roumored to be leaving and remembering what happened to Shevchenko it got me wondering…

It’s probably selective memory but when was the last time in the last 10 years someone came from Serie A to the Prem and was massive success?
Ryan McGee

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