Mails: Cup and 4th – would you keep LVG?

Date published: Tuesday 22nd March 2016 11:00

Let’s keep ploughing through this international week please. Mail


Why Kane to United makes sense
Lot of stupid emails yesterday about why anyone would want to go Man United. So for the straight up thickos out there, United are a slick organisation who have grown from a big club to a super club. They are a marketing machine.

For this to work longer term, they have to be up there, i.e challenging for the title and the champions league. The owners know that hence the big fat cheque they wrote for Di Maria one year and Martial the next.

They will continue to splash the cash. ‘Oh but the tv deal means everyone has more money’ I hear you cry…so?
If everyone else starts paying £200k a week to their top players, United will pay £300k a week. Don’t for one minute think that money doesn’t come into it when players are deciding where to go. Man City, like Chelsea before them, came from nowhere by splashing the cash on player contracts.

United are consistently at or near the top of the salary roll comparisons.

Spurs have Daniel Levy in charge of the chequebook. Arsenal have their famous wage structure and contract lengths. United on the other hand are prepared to blow other team’s money offers out the water, just as they have done for the past 20 years and hand lucrative contracts to exciting talent Look how everyone laughed at Martial’s signing…not laughing now huh?

Sure one or two players will stay where they are out of club loyalty and on the back of a successful season, but there will be plenty who will move on for the big fat paycheque on offer, and some who simply realise that United are the biggest club in England and that if they want to be challenging long term United is the place to be.

Leicester and Spurs have had fine seasons, but I’ll be surprised if either are top four next season…United on the other hand will be.
Aidan (Mufc)


As soon as I saw the letter I knew you’d have many responses claiming Kane wont leave. Why would Kane want to go to Utd? Let me list the reasons:

Utd are a bigger club.
There is more prestiege playing for Utd both nationally and in europe/the world.
They’ll pay more money – yes everyone has money now, Utd/chelsea/city still have more.
Spurs historically have let their players go when big enough wads of cash have been waved under their nose.

Spurs fans (and Everton/Leicester/west ham etc) enjoy your good season. It wont last.

One good season for you and one poor season for Utd/Chelsea/city doesnt change things.
Mark , manchester


We always seem to have these discussions and nobody seems to remember a thing. Every time it’s the same – why would player A want to leave Team B to go to Team C who are a few places below them in the table? Why would they want to trade down?

As if the answer isn’t glaringly obvious.

Because Team B currently pays them a certain amount but Team C will triple it. And perhaps with a new manager and player A on board the places will be reversed next season. Sorry to burst your bubble but money talks and will do for many years to come.
Jim (for those struggling to follow me, A = Kane, B = Spurs and C = Man Utd), Norwich


As F365 once stated (sort of):

Real Madrid > Manchester United > Tottenham > Hartlepool > Brisbane Roar

Its the way the football world works.

Oh and if Spurs don’t win the league this year they never will. You think Kane knows that?
John, Brisbane


One win does not make a season
Well, I’d say my last mail was a successful one. I like it when other people have a different opinion to my own – disagreement and debate is the only real way to expand one’s thinking and open up to new ideas – but if you have to resort to name calling as a retort then I’m afraid that you’ve already lost the argument. Anyway, seeing as I was called out, I would like the chance to reply, if I may.

Jack disagrees with my opinion – absolutely fine, he’s perfectly entitled to – but then offers precisely no counter-argument, other than that we’re a point off City and have an FA Cup quarter final replay. Oh, and apparently me being a f*ckwit, whatever that counts for. For balance, let’s look at what van Gaal has actually accomplished so far this season:

* Being in joint-fifth place, 16 points off the top and only 22 from the bottom 3, in one of the most open Premier Leagues in recent years
* Elimination from the easiest group of the Champions League
* Elimination from the Europa League by our fiercest rivals (who are also having an indifferent season and are on their second manager)
* Eliminated from the League Cup by a Championship side, without being able to score a goal in 90 minutes
* Scrape a replay in the FA Cup quarter-final against the first decent opponents we’ve faced

Furthermore, the derby was our first win in five and just our 23rd in the last 49 games, which is a win percentage of 46.9%. Jack even says it himself: “…we are (somehow) only a point off City”. The key word there is “somehow”; I’m sorry, but for the time and money he’s been given, to consider it a wonder/surprise that we’re only just within touching distance of the top four (i.e. last year’s finish) is just simply not good enough. We should be doing much better than we are or at least have built upon last season’s achievements.

Also of particular concern is the situation with the squad. Van Gaal could neither have known, nor reasonably even hoped that some of the youngsters he’s been forced to rely upon would do as well as they have. Anyone who genuinely thinks that Rashford, Varela, Borthwick-Jackson or Fosu-Mensah would have been playing in the last few weeks if there hadn’t been an injury crisis is kdding themselves. And even when the senior players were fit and playing we were hardly ripping up trees, so it’s not like you can even blame the injuries for our season-long malaise. So if you’re telling me that there’s no upside to getting rid of van Gaal now, I’d love to hear what the supposed downsides are.

To answer the point about Smalling, maybe I was being a little harsh, but I believe the point still stands. He did indeed start the season very well and was one of our better performers for a while, but the Smalling we’ve seen since Christmas has been nowhere near that standard. He’s always shirt-pulling in the box at set pieces, despite having been penalised for this earlier in the season, he’s terrible at passing and regularly puts his own teammates under pressure in dangerous positions, and some of his decision making is suspect at best, so I don’t think it’s unfair to say that’s a liability. As a mailboxer put it last week: he only seems to play well in situations where he doesn’t have time to think, which is all very well in matches like that, but defenders need to be at their best in the vast majority of games – anything else and they’re either being carried by the rest of the team or putting them in trouble.

I’ll admit that my timing wasn’t necessarily the best, coming after a derby win, but one win over City doesn’t make me forget about the rest of this season, which by most fans’ standards has been awful. Part of the reason I sent the mail in was because of the predictable “maybe we’re not that sh*t after all” reaction I guessed was coming, but the point is that we’ve been here so many times before and we shouldn’t fall for it again.
Ted, Manchester


How is Mourinho the solution?
As someone who is 22 years old and a ‘plastic, not from England’ Man United fan, I’m only used to seeing United winning or competing for the title. 3 seasons of not challenging for the title and everyone wants to sell the club’s soul to the devil, Mourinho!

Sure, Mourinho may win one title, maybe two. He will also leave in a maximum of three years. Manchester United have 20 top division titles. There really is no need to gamble with Mourinho for one more. United isn’t a club that is desperate for that one season of glory. We need a more long term solution, or someone short term who can leave the club in a decent place – someone to put the club back on the right track. Mou is someone who is as well known for his destruction of a team as he is for his title winning.

Also, in these three years, United will waste young players, buy big names for big money, park the bus, play dirty football, have to deal with Jose making despicable comments in the media as he creates an ‘us-against-the-world’ feeling and then have to build it all up again when he destroys everything and leaves.

No thank you.

I’d prefer Giggs trying to make the team play a decent brand of football again, without winning titles, to that nonsense.
Sasank (Chelsea’s greatest ever manager, sacked by them – twice, says it all really) MUFC


Could Van Gaal stay?
Despite our win at the weekend I’m still seeing rather a lot of (justified) calls for Van Gaal to be axed this summer, to be replaced in all likelihood by Mourinho. Now, since I enjoy being a contrarian n*b head, I would like to pose a question to the mailbox. If Van Gaal manages to scrape 4th AND lift the FA Cup, would you still want Mourinho in?

Rather than argue the pros and cons of Mou, I’d like to make a quick case for everyone’s least favourite Dutchman. He took over a squad that had, in recent years, lost an ENORMOUS number of hugely experienced players, many of whom had captained both United and their national teams. Replacements such as Nani, Anderson, Jones, Rafael (I still miss him) etc. have left plenty to be desired, giving Van Gaal an extremely difficult job in clearing out a whole bunch of dross and leaving a pretty big vacuum at the top end of the United squad. For all the cries of 250m, plenty of that cash was spent just trying to replace the players who at most other clubs would have been sold years ago.

Anyway, enough of what he’s gotten rid of. What is he going to leave us with? Well, if he is given one more year to finish off his 3 year plan, hopefully a very bright future. We have the young and hungry in Rashford, Shaw, Varela, Lingard, Martial, Memphis, McNair and Fosu-Mensah. We have players who will be in their prime when Van Gaal leaves, such as Smalling, Herrera, Schneiderlin, De Gea, Mata and Darmian. Despite losing so much experience, we still managed to get our hands on Schweinsteiger too, who can still bring the kind of leadership we have been desperately, desperately lacking for years. Throw in another summer transfer window and the opportunity to bring through another youngster or two and, in my opinion, Van Gaal will leave the next Manchester United manager with a far more accessible platform than anyone would have gotten immediately post Ferguson. At the end of the day, expecting any manager to keep on winning the league every year whilst building a squad to last for years to come almost from scratch is, quite frankly, unrealistic.

Jon, I’d love to see Thomas Tuchel here if he keeps it up, Notts


Brits abroad
That was an interesting article by Matt Stead about Gareth Bale; I agree that at the moment a move to the Premier League would be a step down. However, the strength of the league, or at least how this is perceived, tends to work in cycles. I think over the next few years, with the additional money and the influx (or retention) of great managers, there will be a few high profile players moving to the PL. Great players want to play for great managers and when the English teams start to do well again in Europe then the PL will be back to being proclaimed as the best (by fans and the press).

Obviously Real and Barca will always have that draw for players, not least because of history and location, but there are a limited number of spaces at these clubs so there is no reason why the English clubs can’t compete for the other players. The English clubs can pay big transfer fees and extremely high wages, with most players following the benjamins.

Nevertheless, attracting world class superstars is not the key issue – successful teams can be build without being filled with Galacticos. For me (Clive), the most important element are the managers and how they build a team to prepare for CL football. Watch this space, in three or four years we’ll be back to the days of having the four English teams reach the last eight of the CL with one (or two) getting to the final – then the self-fellatio will start and Richard Scudamore will run naked down Gloucester Place shouting “we’re back baby, we’re back”. This will last for a few years and then the cycle will begin again. Same as it ever was.

Bale has a chance to be one of the players to bring this perceived greatness back. And hopefully it will be with United.
Garey Vance, MUFC


Reading your piece on Bale and playing abroad, I have always questioned why others don’t go to play abroad even if its not for the top teams in the world. As you say Bales Ambition has taken him there to play with some of the best players in the world and then come up against the best players at Barca with a constant stream of European games to play other greats, The PL isn’t what it used to be, the best players don’t come here anymore which is sad but true (hopefully this will change with some top managers here next season)

I don’t think this is down to the players not having the ambition or talent, i believe its more down to the the British teams needing X number of British players. This rule forces teams to throw money at British players to keep them in the squad so they can keep up with the rules of the FA(?). IF England and Wales want to compete in the big tournaments then they should drop this rule for our players to get experience abroad in different leagues playing against top players with different managerial skills and tactics. Also this would free up money that would otherwise be overspent on British players to be spent on some world class talent to build the PL.

It wouldn’t surprise me if we see Lukaku, Payet, Kante and other exciting young talent leave the PL but then Ramsey, Barkley, Kane will never get an offer for them from abroad that they will get in the English leagues (yes I know Kane will never leave Spurs anyway thats not the point).

Be interested to see other peoples views on this, does this FA rule work, if it does how is it helping our young players?
Stoky Boy – Sorry Ireland and Scotland I was using the word British because I am too lazy to type English and Welsh. I’m Welsh and loving Bale abroad, Ramsey should have gone to Barca


The destination for the best? Never
I read Matt Stead’s article on Gareth Bale and was refreshed by the support of the notion that the Premier League is not the centre of the footballing universe, despite the claims of Sky, BT Sport and the British Press. However rather than the Premier League being “no longer the favoured destination for the game’s best players”, I would suggest that it never has been.

I cannot name one occasion when any EPL player attracted the reigning ‘best player in the world’ to these shores. Without doubt, we have had contenders for that title playing in the Premier League at one time or another, but invariably these players were youngsters or relative unknowns that grew and developed themselves into that position (Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale, Suarez etc…). But if we think of the luminaries to have played the game since 1992 (and before) they never really came close to joining an English team at the height of their powers, or indeed at all.

A quick look at the list of Ballon D’Or/World Player of the Year winners would support this as none of them ever came to England- Messi, Kaká, Cannavaro, Ronaldinho, Zidane, Nedved, Sammer, Stoichkov, Ronaldo, Figo, Rivaldo, Weah, Romario, Baggio and Van Basten all played and stayed on the continent. Add in players like Del Piero, Raul, Kahn, Buffon, Maldini, Seedorf etc… and you see that it is clear that the EPL has never been able to attract the best. The only exception is Andriy Shevchenko who joined Chelsea two years after winning the Ballon D’Or, but he was seen by many to already have peaked and was declining fast- as proved to be the case.

Despite the general assumption that we have the Best League in the World it’s clear that the players who can have their pick of where to play don’t agree. We are a great destination for the ‘not-quite-world-class’ level of players who can get more money here than anywhere else, but the best can get huge wages wherever they go. So once you scratch off the big Premier League money veneer, it appears that there is very little of substance that is attractive to the worlds’ best.

We have a very competitive league, and this year has been the best in ages, but don’t believe it’s ever been the destination for the best players in the world.
Dan (THFC- Oslo)


Peer pressure
I’ve felt slightly guilty not getting on the Leicester bandwagon this year. I’ve come to dislike them as the months have progressed which baffled me since I think of them as a likeable team. But reading John Nic’s piece I’ve finally realised why. People keep insisting that I have to like Leicester or I’m dead inside. For all the crap the fans of the “big” teams put out, the smug neutral’s opinion that Leicester are saving the Premier League and if you don’t appreciate them you don’t appreciate football is just as egregious and has soured me on a team I really should like
Mark, Dublin


More on Leicester
As a neutral, I’m as thrilled as anyone about Leicester City – it’s even reached the point where I punch the air and shout “Yes!” when they score – and I understand Johnny Nic’s, shall we say, left-leaning politics. But I think he’s overdone it with his latest column.

The implication is that somehow Leicester City are overturning everything we thought we knew about football. Of course that’s possible, but just about everything seems to indicate that the Foxes are a massive outlier. A magnificent, joyous outlier, but still an outlier.

Point One: It’s been shown that for the most part the stronger the league, the closer the correlation between time of possession and success. This is true worldwide, and isn’t likely to change any time soon. Leicester are doing it a different way, and that’s fantastic, but there’s nothing to indicate this can be accomplished on a regular basis.

Point Two: All the underlying stats suggest that Leicester City are on a roll that is unlikely to be duplicated any time soon. One of many possible examples: in the last 11 games, Leicester’s opponents have converted only 4% of their shots. That’s a ridiculously low figure (the average is around 10%), and is completely unsustainable for a long period.

Point Three: Money still talks. (Just read the articles about all the players Pep is thinking of buying.) On this score I’m a little closer to Johnny’s position, since the huge influx of money into the league may indeed have changed the playing field somewhat. We may be moving toward a model where scouting and coaching matter more than they did. But it seems wiser to reserve judgment for a few years.

So by all means, come on you Foxes! (I’ll be very happy if Spurs win, too – absolutely love their football, and since at Christmas I predicted they’d win, it’ll make me look good.) But perspective can be useful too.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


The latest article is what happens when you write with a preconceived agenda and not with the brass facts, this whole idea that it is so original what Leicester are doing. They are using the tried and tested model of a strong defence that has had people criticising Mourinho and Rafa in the past. All the excitement is the novelty not the football on display quite the opposite look at End of March 2014 Liverpool were top having scored 88 goals as opposed to Leicester 54. You can look throughout the table more goals, which I equate to more excitement.

This is not a pop at the foxes, it’s just the guff coming from the press trying to portray this as something special because of them when in fact it just hides a pretty crap league. I would think every fan except Leicester, Spurs, Watford & Bournemouth probably think their team has been a bit hopeless this season.
Gary (bah humbug)


City’s kids
I just thought I’d reply to the “Where are City’s kids?” question posed by Jonathan Hughes in the afternoon mailbox on Monday. The short answer is, they’re right there. There are a few reasons why they havn’t been given a go yet (apart from the FA cup game vs Chelsea) some are just too young and we’re still nurturing them but many are simply being ignored.

Now, before everyone starts assuming “well, they’re obviously not good enough then” you could not be more wrong. The main reason we have not seen very much of them is because we have a manager with such tunnel vision and a blatant refusal to use these extremely talented youngsters he has at his disposal. Pellegrini’s days have been very publically numbered for a couple of months now and there is no way that he is going to change his stubbon refusal to give the kids a go now that he’s got one foot out the door. Why would he?

We have all obviously seen the promise that Iheanacho has shown in his (far to few in my opinion) appearances so far. The kid is undoubtedly the jewel in the City Academy crown but there are others that have just as much potential. In addition to him we have a whole plethora of youngster starring for our EDS team/U21s, most of whom are playing for the EDS team before a lot of their peers at the same age, and many of whom are Mancunian before you naysayers start! Our academy team at U18 level is ridiculous (coached by Jason Wilcox) and have only lost twice all season winning the Northern Divison Title last week and their most recent performance a 2-1 victory against Arsenal on Friday night in the first leg of another FA Youth Cup semi final (we were beaten finalists last year!). Our U16s also seem like they’re playing on cheat mode most weeks battering teams by 3, 4 or more goals on a regular basis. I’ve not even touched on some of the kids impressing out on loan, like Jack Byrne playing out of his skin for SC Cambuur in the Eredevisie.

This week we’ve had 5 players called up to the England U18 squad, 3 more in the U20 squad and 3 in the U16 too. The foundations are still being laid with these younger age groups but another example of our success was the u15s winnning another trophy a fortnight ago. Our academy has had a lot of press due to it’s size, expenditure and facilities but people seem to forget that it only opened a year ago. There is a process, we will not see immediate returns from investment nor will the players benefit from the improved facilities for probably a few seasons.

I have no doubt though that the yougsters already at the club and the talent we are producing will filter through to the first team over the coming seasons. It’s an exciting time looking at our future, the prospect of some of the talent we have (such as Jordan Sancho and Brahim Diaz – check this beauty out linking up with Pep Guardiola gets me all tingly! It’s just a shame that our first team squad is making me wish this current season away with a feeling of indifference and apathy!


Leave Hendo alone
Short memories and all, but still important to recall Henderson’s red card against Man City in the title chase a few years back. It was him missing, not the literal slip, that led to the figurative slip. Surely Klopp could look at a tape of that year and recognize Hendo is at his best farther (not further so stop it) up the pitch pressing the opposing backs. He is never going to be a disciplined midfielder so stop trying to shoe-horn him in there when he’s best on the right side of the three-pronged attack of Coutinho and Firmino. Use Miler where he actually wants to play next to Can and free Jordan to express himself, especially considering he’s our only player who can hit a decent cross into the box.
Niall, Denver


F*** Ref Watch
Anyone else read the Ref Watch feature on skysports and just think, what. a. load. of. sh*te.? What Gallacher ‘analyses’ is basically everything those who watched the game already know. It’s no better than these ‘learning’ pieces that might as well be printed on a roll of Andrex. ‘Analyse’ taking on the meaning of ‘saw’ here…

Was your team affected by a contentious decision? Read on to find out… *Sighhhh*

1. If the decisions are contentious, then yea they probably affected the game.
2. Saying ‘knowing Michael as I do’- I don’t know the ref personally, but I know he’ll watch replays and say, ‘oh, shit, should’ve given a pen’. And I don’t give a shiny turd whether u know the guy or not.
3. Smalling red card- lucky boy, glad he didn’t get sent off but I think that foul on Aguero is a stonewall booking, that Gallacher can sit there having seen replays and still say it’s not beggars belief.
4. Huth incident- his view is that the ref is far away and that it’s ‘comedy value’. Wait, what? Gallacher, you’re supposed to be saying whether the decision is correct or not, i.e. does the incident warrant a penalty? Answer: Yes. Right, that was simple.
5. Captain States-the-obvious strikes again- from his analysis, he determines that “If he has made that call he’s made it incorrectly, because it was outside the penalty area.” We’ve seen the replays, we all saw it was the wrong decision. Analysis needed? No. View of a former pro ref needed? No.

If they’re gonna continue with this feature, they could at least pick some incidents that actually require analysis and indeed explanation beyond ‘I think the ref has’ blah blah blah. We can all speculate, but perhaps not all of us can cite the relevant rules and apply them accurately to the situation being discussed.
Jon (Whatever happened to quality over quantity?) Guangzhou, China


Mediawatch is missing a trick by not covering Dermot Gallagher’s column on SkySports as he’s the refereeing equivalent of Garth Crooks. Unfortunately it also shows the massively confused and inconsistent thinking of referees.

On this weeks big incidents.

Skrtel rightly gave away the penalty against Pelle because he thinks he was the initiator of the shirt holding – replays showed both were holding but Skrtel may have initiated it. Fair enough. But Scott Dann literally pulling the shirt off the back of Robert Huth wasn’t a penalty because it was ‘comedy value’!

Brilliant stuff.

Also Martin Skrtel please just leave. When a 74 year old Kolo Toure is a better option off the bench it really is time up.

Lindsay, Dublin.


Well done, Hereford
Just wanted to draw fellow mailboxers attention to the exploits of Hereford FC (formally Hereford United). They’re not my team (I’m as pre-occupied with the Premier League as the next mail boxer) but they are my local team.

As the mailbox may, or may not know, Hereford United was wound up in December 2014. Hereford FC was formed out of the ashes. This weekend they managed to overcome Salisbury 3:1 on aggregate to reach the FA Vase final, and a day out at Wembley. A Wembley appearance is something the former Hereford United never managed. There is a lovely article here which details Hereford FC’s recent history, which says more than I can…

An amazing achievement for everyone connected with the club, especially my long suffering friend (hello if you’re reading this Tom!) who has followed them through the relegations, the shit storm of the previous ownership, and been faced with having no football team at all to follow (imagine if that happened to your club for a second). They really deserve that final appearance and a day out at Wembley. I would go along too, but I don’t want to be labeled a Plastic! I get enough grief about that as a Chelsea fan!
Will CFC, The Shire


Captains not very fantastic
I was reading your captains that clubs outgrew piece and I’ve got a theory for why arteta became captain. 2011-12 season arteta finishes fifth in the polls, doesn’t become captain. 2012-13, he finishes 4th… It was meant to be.
Sood CFC (has way too much time on his hands)


Football dads
So I was at the Leeds Vs Huddersfield game on Saturday and hear a hell of a lot of bad language spouted. One moment sticks out to me though. A Dad who was there with his kids stood up red faced, spit flying everywhere, finger jabbing on an absolute rant about and opposition player.

As you can imagine I’m intrigued by this. What great Insult is he going to finishing it off with, dirty orrible barstool, effing useless count, pr*ck,d*ckhead?

Nope. He finished it off with you soft get.

I respect that.
Regards. Dale (LUFC)


On Vinnie Jones

For “hard man”, read “complete and utter helmet”
Paul M (Ross Kemp would have him any day..) LFC


Gossip comments
Can I please direct everybody over the Gossip column so you can all see the first comment below the stories. It’s a work of art. I mean, really sh*t art but art nonetheless. It makes me wonder: Do English guys ever go onto foreign football websites and attempt comments in the native tongue of the site but spell everything hideously wrong? Is that a thing?
Stu (I think we should make it a thing), London

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