It’s a good mailbox. Keep it going with mails to email@example.com
The class of 92 illusion
If United end up hiring Giggs to eventually replace Van Gaal, I will have finally lost all hope. This Class of 92 fairy tale illusion, very similar to Real Madrid’s Galactico fairy tale illusion, needs to end. Hiring Giggs would be a massive risk, and unfortunately United are not in a position where we can afford to take that risk. Maybe if Giggs had been working under a manager playing attractive, attacking, title-winning football for three years we could afford to take the risk, but instead he has been working under a man who saw Fellaini as a better option up front than Hernandez. Yes, every United fan on the planet would love to see Giggs lift the title as manager with Rooney as captain, but chances are that’s not gonna happen. Saying ‘but it worked with Guardiola’ is not an argument.
Gaaavie (Pochettino IN, right now), Cape Town
Not missing Chicharito
As United fans, it’s easy to lament the departure of Chicharito – especially in light of his brilliant recent form. I really like the guy and he’s clearly a very talented striker. But for his sake, I’m actually glad he left.
The guy’s basically a top-class Jermain Defoe – a quick goal poacher who gets on the end of chances and puts them away. This is why if he’d stayed at United, nothing would have changed. Hernandez’ best season came when he played with Rooney as a strike partner – not a no.10, or playmaker, or winger, but strike partner. Two actual strikers. This worked because Rooney could run around a lot like he always does, but actually creating chances and causing havoc – plus the talented midfield behind them. All Hernandez had to do was finish the chances being created. I don’t put it like that to belittle him – it’s a crucial job. It’s no coincidence that Defoe often played better with a Peter Crouch-type striker alongside him either – the mailbox suggestion this morning about Crouchy joining Sunderland was actually a great shout for them.
In the current United team, there is a lone striker who, because of the shortcomings of the rest of the team (*cough* Rooney *cough*), has to do a lot of work up front to help make chances. This isn’t Hernandez’ game, and I honestly believe that if he’d stayed he’d still look like a non-league player because of this, despite his talent. Conversely, Martial’s willingness to work hard to create a chance complements his natural talent to help him be so good in this team.
I’ve no idea if Will Keane can help plug a gap for us but for his own sake I hope he can make an impact of some sort. But if United are going to be succesful for the rest of this season, they need one or two players who can share the burden of both creating and finishing chances.
Alex (Villa should have gone for both Crouch and Defoe in the summer), Leeds
Kane > Lukaku
It was an interesting question raised in the mailbox this morning – Kane or Lukaku – and I think I would say Kane. They’re both excellent strikers and I can’t really pick a clear winner from a football point of view, but I personally prefer Harry Kane’s attitude off the pitch.
Lukaku and/or his agent are always banging on about wanting to go to a bigger club these days, he may not mean not right now but definitely in the near future. Whereas, you rarely hear anything from Kane about wanting to move on and he handled the United interest very professionally, as I remember it. I’m not saying Lukaku is unprofessional or disloyal, per se, but I would worry that he’d want to leave if Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich came knocking, whereas Kane doesn’t seem quite as eager to agitate for a move.
I’d be over the moon with either signing for United though!
Lukaku > Kane
I would take Lukaku over any PL striker bar Aguero. Kane is an excellent player with a great work-rate, runs the line all day and consistently asks questions of defenders. Great team player to have – as Daniel Storey will tell you no doubt (once his hand is out his trousers), Lukaku has outstanding ability for one so young. His hold-up play is first-rate, his awareness has improved and his finishing is superb.
You look at Remy and Dirty Diego and then realise what a monumental gaffe the Chelski board made when they sold. He’d easily fetch £50m now, if not more.
Stewie Griffin (He’s no Giroud though – who has a better goals-to-minutes ratio than Van Basten LOL)
…Kane was a phenom last year, and has not done poorly this season after a slow start, but currently, as it stands, is there a better proposition than Lukaku anyone?
I get all dizzy just thinking of him holding up the line with some real United football going around him (yes, him holding it up while we get the midfield moving, and our tricky, pacy wingers out wide!)
Aaah, there is that dizzy spell again, getting rather too excited here.
I rate Romelu lads, I really do, Why Jose would sell, well, a player who looks like he could a left footed Drogba-of-a-player one day is quite beyond me.
Speaking of the Special/Rubbish One (since it seems in fashion to deal only in absolutes these days), his tendency to distrust (?) youth, along with a reputation mostly for anything BUT Barca-like levels of aesthetically pleasing football with hugely expensive squads…have me rather mild on the idea of jumping upon the Jose bandwagon.
Because what improvement in the so-often-self-defined ‘United Way’ do you actually foresee/anticipate/so hilariously envision occurring suddenly when Jose takes over training and match days from LVG?
Do we REALLY want to see ‘The United Way’, or do we just want a trophy again fellas, and since that Jose chap often delivers those…?
Manc in SA (Not saying any fan owes me any explanation, but let’s not hysterically clamour for Jose to come in, using the refrain that he will restore ‘the United Way’ with flowing footie. Just say you want to win.)
…Personally, I’d take Lukaku. There’s a lot of risk inherent in having a player in your team who isn’t real and doesn’t exist.
Realistic transfer wish
I want Ighalo to Liverpool.
Gough, LFC, Dublin (Lukaku over Kane all day long)
Man United just need three PL players
Paul in Brussels For the first time, in a long time I believe my team (Man Utd) could recruit the players they require solely from the Premier League. In my opinion they need three players (and a better manager but that’s another argument) to be able to challenge for the league & in Europe (if they get there) next season.
These players are Stones, Mahrez/Payet & Lukaku.
That would leave a team of: De Gea, Darmian, Smalling, Stones, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Herrera, Martial, Mata, Mahrez/Payet, Lukaku.
Subs: Romero, Jones, Blind, Schweinsteiger, Depay, Rooney and Young.
Obviously there is a slim to f**k all chance of this happening but I think it would be great!
Other transfers I think would make sense are:
Cabaye to Arsenal
Berahino to Everton
Shawcross to Chelsea
A Valencia to West Brom
I love talking about transfers.
Dan, Ireland MUFC
Stoke cocked that up
I’m a Scotsman who has recently moved down to England to work for a couple of months and I have been taking in a lot of games down here on a weekly basis. Last night I was in attendance for what must have been Stoke’s biggest game in some time? (Potters fans correct me if I am wrong).
On that evidence I was massively disappointed in Stoke’s performance. Playing at home where recently they have demolished Chelsea, City & United, under a sell-out crowd and against a side that is incredibly inconsistent in Liverpool. It just seemed to me like everything was there for them to have a real go. I think Hughes got it completely wrong last night with Bojan up top on his own, there were no runners in behind the Liverpool back line, nothing for them to worry about physically either as the play was always in front of them. I would also have liked to have seen Charlie (the hatchet man) Adam play as he would have got stuck in against his former employers but he can also pick a pass.
It just seems such a shame that Stoke couldn’t continue the level of performances they have recently had at home against the big teams. I don’t think they will get a better chance with Coutinho and then Lovren going off which left a centre-back pairing of Toure and Lucas?!! I mean come on! The funny thing is, I was sitting there thinking that the old Stoke would have known exactly how to exploit this patchwork defence but Hughes’ nice on the eye Stoke had no idea.
Jonathan Boal (no allegiance to either side, I just enjoy football)
A broken Liverpool XI
Have we caught something from Arsenal? 12 first-team players injured!
Aside from the fact that there is no goalkeeper this isn’t even that bad a team (not going to win the league but neither would our first choice 11):
LB: Joe Gomez
CB: Dejan Lovren
CB: Mamadou Sakho
CM: Philippe Coutinho
CM: Jordan Rossiter
CM: Jordan Henderson
FW: Divock Origi
FW: Daniel Sturridge
FW: Danny Ings
Subs: Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure
Luke, Red in Sussex
Management: Piece of p***
Nobody likes a smug dick, but i don’t mind. Some time back in August or September I suggested (unpublished) that Rodgers and Benitez should swap jobs. I pointed out that they’d both be sacked by Christmas anyway (a little off with Rafa), and it made so much sense in that Rafa could do that thing where despite never looking brilliant, Liverpool would win things, whilst Rodgers could say “fantastic” after every game and mostly be right.
As an aside, this football management lark is a piece of p**s really. 70% of it comes down to having a striker who bangs in goals, 20% is about making sure the rest of the squad vaguely try to stop the other team from scoring, and the last 10% is about trying not piss people off and bluffing on about building something (which is actually just players getting older as time passes).
Seriously, can everyone stop over thinking it please?
Not if you’re at Barnsley…
With regards to the mail from Jingles in SA (Who’s had the most managers), I’d like to put forward the team that I support, Barnsley, as a candidate for most trigger happy club with unrealistic expectations. Here is the list of managers in the Sky era (stolen from Wikipedia without a hint of investigation):
Mel Machin (1989–93)
Eric Winstanley (caretaker) (1993)
Viv Anderson (1993–94)
Danny Wilson (1994–98)
John Hendrie (1998–99)
Eric Winstanley (caretaker) (1999)
Dave Bassett (1999–00)
Eric Winstanley (caretaker) (2000–01)
Nigel Spackman (2001)
Glyn Hodges (caretaker) (2001)
Steve Parkin (2001–02)
Glyn Hodges (2002–03)
Gudjon Thordarson (2003–04)
Paul Hart (2004–05)
Andy Ritchie (2005–06)
Simon Davey (2006–09)
Mark Robins (2009–2011)
Keith Hill (2011–2012)
David Flitcroft (2012–2013)
Micky Mellon (caretaker) (2013)
Danny Wilson (2013–2015)
Mark Burton (caretaker) (2015)
Lee Johnson (2015–present)
Classy list, huh?
Skinny, Leamington Spa
Defending F365 against Bobby defenders
As I’m a nice chap, I’m going to help Ed to help Chris –
The reason Robert ‘Bobby’ Martinez is under greater scrutiny than say Mark Hughes and Ronald Koeman is quite simple – he has spent a boatload of cash without providing any discernible sign of progress.
David Moyes was at Everton for 10 years without that sort of backing and turned Everton from relegation candidates to an aspirational club on the up and they were in a much healthier state when he left than when he took over. Quite simply, a mark of progress. If Martinez left today, would you say the same? Not a chance. The fact he can’t organise a defence seems to be the prevailing reason for this yet his ambition when he joined was the Champions League. Lol, rofl etc.
If you use the same marker, then both Koeman and Hughes would be missed by their clubs. Hughes has taken players with potential who were otherwise unwanted and produced an entertaining and forward-thinking side at Stoke (remember Pulis-ball a few years back?) while Koeman, although harder to defend this season, has raised expectation to the point where a top-half finish is now the minimum for a club promoted but a few short years ago, all while having continually sold their best players.
Is Martinez doing a horrific job? No. should he be doing better. Almost certainly.
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC
Individual skill wasted unless..
I’d like to follow on from Ed’s email this morning regarding Hagi’s quote that stated football had become ‘all about results,’ as far back as 2001. Quite frankly, I think it’s nonsense from Hagi.
The great man may have fallen short in Spain, yet he is still revered worldwide by football fans of a certain age. I suspect that the above quote contains a good helping of sour grapes. Individual skill is still highly sought after, yet it needs to complement the team. Football is, after all, a team game. Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the most individualistic player I have ever seen, yet it is hard to make the argument that Real Madrid would be better off without him.
True genius is catered for within the team structure. However, very few players carry such genius that they are able to transcend the shackles of position or formation. That their mere presence, somewhere on the pitch, is enough. It’s a relative thing, as well. Riquelme was a genius, yet at Barcelona, he was just another fish in a pond that contained Ronladinho. Villarreal however, were happy to build a team around him. You have to be so far above your peers that the team’s mantra becomes: ‘Just give him the ball.’
The Cantona article mentioned in Daniel Storey’s Profile of an Icon about Hagi isn’t hogwash. It’s remarkably accurate.
King Eric was/is overhyped, always was. There is no doubt he was an influential player, a major catalyst in transforming the mentality of United players and he certainly contributed to Fergusons early triumphs.
But, and I dislike starting a sentence with the word, the statistics don’t lie, he was not world class.
Our beloved Mesut plays the game in a beautifully artistic manner, his deft touches and marvellous vision appreciated by supporters and begrudgers alike. As F365 states regularly, his match statistics back this up, his distance covered and of course, his glowing assist record held up as quantifiable examples of his brilliance.
In contrast, Rooney’s dire form of the past few months (years) is also supported by the numbers. Measurable proof that he has been a bit sh*t.
We can’t apply rules to judge contemporary players and not to players of previous decades. That would be sentimental and incorrect.
Before I wrap this up, I’d like to clarify to all of those who will leap to Cantona’s defence, I’m not saying he was a poor player, just that he wasn’t world class, not by today’s standards and not by the standards of his day either.
Eoin (Always hated his popped collar, loved his arrogance) Ireland
I’m not sure what I just read from Degsy but I loved it. As hilarious as it was confusing, great piece.
I eagerly await the day when the corporate wet blankets in America loosen their stance on sports betting. Until then I think I’ll enjoy a pint of vodka and iced tea-lemonade mix on this early Wednesday sick day.
Brian (To the day I die I will defend that Allen meant that as a pass) LFC
P.S. Liverpool look more like title contenders with the scrubs than the starting XI.
A quite wonderful mail about the Italian pyramid
If I can go off-topic for a second, if I am to assume the topic is and always will be Arsenal’s nearly men and their soft underbelly, Liverpool’s imminent possible revival and Man Utd’s longing for the Ferguson era.
I was playing Football Manager (please keep reading, this is NOT about Football Manager, I am just pointing out how I found this out), and was playing in the Italian C2 league (fourth tier), where there are two leagues of equal standing feeding into the third tier (Italian C1, where there were also two equal leagues). I found out through playing that the C2 league was being disbanded, and that the 36 teams in C2 were to be either promoted to C1, or relegated to Serie D. This wasn’t quite as hard as it sounds to be promoted, as they were adding an extra league to the third tier, meaning now three equal leagues at C1 (now called Lega Pro). This means that for this season in C2 (talking real life here, not FM), the top eight were to be promoted, 9th-12th to have a play-off, and the bottom six were to be relegated. Can you imagine the pressure on a season like that? No safe mid-table here, every point is vital. I don’t know myself what happened with the play-offs, if two went up, two down, or if only one went up, but I just loved this story of such high stakes in a league.
You might now be thinking that being relegated wouldn’t be all bad, you can just get promoted from Serie D next year and end up in the Lega Pro. Well, that’s not as easy as it sounds as I decided to research this as well, having been truly fascinated by this one-off sh*t or bust season. At Serie D level, there are NINE equal leagues, where only the top team is promoted. However, it doesn’t stop there. In each league the 2nd-5th teams have a play-off, the winners of each nine play-offs for each league go into the second round, which is three mini-leagues of three where they play each other once. The winners of each of these then get a place in the overall semi-finals, with the winner of the Serie D Cup coming in at this stage (I have no idea what happens if the winner is already in the playoffs/promoted, guessing best 2nd placed team). They then play a new play-off to decide who wins the Serie D 36-team play-offs. This is the best bit though, this team don’t actually get promoted, they just go top of the waiting list to go up, if a team from the leagues above them don’t meet financial requirements (which apparently does happen fairly often). Also, the nine winners of the original leagues also have a similar play-off to see who is the overall bestest champion of Serie D. I bloody love it.
The reason for this mail is just that I really enjoy looking at football pyramids, and having now researched it I love the complexity of the Italian one at the 3rd’/4th tier, and in particular that one season where every team had something to play for. Does anyone else have equally great or even greater stories about football pyramids? I’d love to read them. Apologies also if this had also been covered in the mailbox at the time, or if even F365 covered it, but I had to share. Bravo Italia.
Mike (AVFC), London