Mails: Fellaini was good. Mata? Not so much

Date published: Friday 11th March 2016 2:54

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A message from the ABUs
I love Van Gaal.
Dale (LUFC)


Liverpool = Dortmund (and make Sakho captain)
I watched the Dortmund-Tottenham game last night and have only just watched the repeat of the Liverpool-Man United game. It struck me how similarly Dortmund and Liverpool played in their respective matches. Both teams were composed on the ball everywhere on the pitch, had centerbacks playing the right passes every time and a central striker who could dribble his way out of tight situations around the box. Both Dortmund and Liverpool also had their midfielders and forwards in constant intelligent movement off the ball and this caused a big problem to Tottenham and Man United who both chased shadows against their opponents. It indicates how effective German coaching set-ups are if Klopp can impose most of the Dortmund style we know at Liverpool in just a few months. Now he just has to bench Henderson and Milner for the rest of their contracts, buy a better keeper and get one of those Willian/Di Maria type of wingers who take joy in making opposition defenders look like drunk cows. Replacing Henderson and Milner would likely leave Sakho as the matchday captain but he looks up to the task to me.
Greg Tric, (Emre Can is too good), Nairobi.


And Dortmund were sodding good
Much was said prior to the kickoff (and some said after) of Pochettino’s team selection and fielding a ‘weakened’ side. I’ll concede that it wasn’t the strongest we had available but it wasn’t quite like Man City’s recent surrender vs Chelsea. Only Josh Onomah in that side and perhaps Tom Carroll can be considered fringe players in this Spurs side. The rest have been used in rotation throughout the last season. It is more-or-less the same team that comfortably beat Fiorentina in the last round.

The much more salient point though is this; it didn’t matter. I’m 99% sure we could have played our best 11 and the scoreline would probably be much the same. I’m 100% sure that Man Utd’s team from last night would have been much worse off. One of the commentators stated that Dortmund were the best team he’d seen this year bar Barcelona. From what I heard (listened on radio since I don’t have BT sport) they were at their frightening best and there are few teams in the world who can live with that. They are very-much a late-stages CL side playing in a competition below their level.

If Spurs were fighting for 4th in the league I’d have been disappointed by last night’s team selection but we’re in with a decent chance to win the bloody thing. The proof will be in the pudding at Villa Park on Sunday. Its a great time for us to put on a big scoreline to bring back the confidence that has ebbed slightly in the last few games. Dier, Alli, Lamela & Kane were all ‘rested’ (actually Alli was suspended but the net result is the same). Roll-on the weekend!
Thom, Bristol-based Spur


Surprise at the surprise
The most surprising thing about last night’s Man Utd-Liverpool result is there seemed to be a whiff of surprise about it in the Mailbox.

For a start this was a re-run of the recent league game at Anfield but without United benefiting from a large amount of luck.

But the main thing is – and this has been no means limited to this morning’s mailbox – was the perception that United had prior to the West Brom game been good.

I seem to recall the phrase ‘wonderful little patch of form’ being used! Really?

Let’s look at the four games this refers to. Beating Shrewsbury (near the bottom of League One), a poor Danish side and a victory over Watford based on fortune and set pieces (like many this season.

This essentially leaves one good performance against Arsenal and while I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a United match so much our ‘good run’ was literally one game. Laws of average and all that.

On a similar note in microcosm – Memphis. He has talent and may well come good but he is currently a kid with a look-at-me style of play (trademark Daniel Sturridge).

Everything is greedy, extra touches and Hollywood, which again law of averages dictates will come off now and then.

This is what happened in a few recent games but even then it was interspersed with a lot of wastefulness. It should be no surprise that this doesn’t last.

Interesting to see the talented Martial have the same problems as Rooney has had when playing as a central striker. Dreadful service means he is isolated and has little effect – albeit his pace makes his cameos more eye-ctaching.

Lastly Daly Blind, technically good but what a wimp – he really doesn’t like 50/50 challenges.

All that said, well played Liverpool we’re lucky to still have even half a chance at OT.
Ronnie Buzzard, Manchester


More Reds thoughts
I’d hoped to read a few mails this morning containing conclusions from Utd, Liverpool and Spurs fans. Maybe even a happy Dortmund fan if I was extremely lucky. Understandably it was instead dominated by very upset Utd fans.
With this in mind here’s a few of my Liverpool biased conclusions:

The atmosphere at Anfield was electric, but shortly after kick off it was the Utd fans who were in full voice. Liverpools supporters seemed nervous. For once this did not transmit into the team. It wasn’t until the second half that Anfield felt buoyant. The team lifted the fans who in turn lifted the team. I can completely understand why Klopp was so happy after the game.

Emre Can is genuinely excellent. This cannot be said enough. Seeing him in a back 3 for so long looks even more ridiculous now.

Henderson does not look to have regained the form he had pre-injury. He played well but Joe Allen must be pushing for a starting role after another great display once introduced.

BT commentary and post-match analysis is terrible.

For a short while LVG’s half time change was working. Utd were seeing the ball a lot more and causing Liverpool problems. Klopp recognised the shift in momentum and made a very astute change. It was great to see two managers change their team and change the game. It was a nice managerial dual, although it’s obvious to see that LVG’s innovation has stagnated and become plainly weird.

Utd have to win at Old Trafford 3-0 (or the equivalent). Liverpool love to press and counter attack. The stage is set for Klopps Liverpool.

Fellanis elbow at the end of the game to Can was needless. He’ll surely be suspended which is a shame as his dire performance aided Liverpool’s midfielders.

Watching De Gea really hammers home Mingeolets inadequacy. Even after a string of decent performances Mingeolet never looks like a first choice keeper for a side with lofty Champions League ambitions. De Gea kept Utd in the game. Holding onto him was a master stroke which will become increasingly difficult to replicate.

Assuming Liverpool don’t screw up the reverse fixture (big assumption to be fair) drawing Dortmund would be a fantastic. A really big European night (odd to say that about the Europa League). That’s the kind of game we should be relishing not shying away from in fear. If we genuinely want to win the EL then they are the team to beat!
Martin (shut up Scholes and Rio it was a penalty) Jackson


Love for Allen
I think I have found something that no one has mentioned and I think its quite relevant.. No seriously..

Joe Allen is really rather good isn’t he (for a few mins off the bench but boy he hassled, broke up play, played the ball forward, combined well and generally looked like a rather lovely player..) this is the second or 3rd time recently he has done this. Maybe.. just maybe…… Coz remember that bloke that was just a bad tellytubby (Lala), and how rubbish he was.. turns out hes rather good too..
Al LFC – Why when we play well is it that the opposition is always terrible.. sometimes its just that we are too good and make them look terrible..(surely it has to be sometimes)


Still worried about Liverpool
Whilst we put in a fantastic performance against Man Utd last night (who were decidedly awful bar a couple of spells), I’m still a bit worried about the fixture as a whole.

You simply cannot trust this side. When they’re good they’re exhilarating, but when they’re bad it’s just absolutely awful. And the level of inconsistency is still there – we’ve won a few league games on the bounce and a big first half of the cup tie, but the the inexplicable performance in the league cup final can’t be ignored. I’d much rather have won that than sneaked three points up the table a weekend after. Don’t make this out to be whining – there have been obvious, huge improvements, both in the obvious quality players (Bobby Firmino) and the write offs (Lovren, Origi – though I’ll note I always backed them). But the trepidation is still there. “Score one, they need four” or not.

Similarly, the Mancs seem to regularly play atrociously but then sneak results.

Two horribly inconsistent sides meeting just makes for an unpredictable and awful sense of apprehension for me. Plus, with Fellaini likely to banned for the ‘quick look at the ref, stamp and elbow’ on poor little Emre Can, Man Utd have already improved their side with his absence.

On a sidenote, the nastiness associated with the fixture from ourselves and the Mancs isn’t surprising anymore. It’s still outrageous and terrible but not surprising, even in ‘this day and age’.
Theo, LFC, Liverpool


Leave Marouane alone
Fellaini’s link up play was excellent yesterday. I was surprised. Just as I was surprised to read all the criticism last night and today.

May I suggest that to maintain integrity, you pick on him when he deserves it. He often does, so you won’t have to wait long.

I love football 365 and Daniel Storey’s pieces but I couldn’t disagree more on yesterday’s appraisal of his play. Re watch the game and I defy you not to change your hackish headline of an opinion.
Simon, Chiswick
p.s He played well but definitely should’ve been sent off, if those things can coexist.


Just got back from Liverpool and reading the reaction pieces + mailbox entries about the game. I’m surprised to see so much criticism of Fellaini. He was the only outfield player United had that instilled a feeling of nervousness/anxiety as a Liverpool fan.

I think it might be the case that seeing him in 3D up front offers a different perspective from the TV shots – when watching at home it might look ungainly and like he’s terrible, but up close he’s clearly awkward and difficult to deal with, and the slightest mistake from our defensive players could have allowed those awkward situations to lead to a chance or a goal. Thankfully that didn’t happen, other than Rashford ‘s early wasted opportunity.

Other thoughts from the trip:
– the atmosphere at both ends, Kop + Anfield Road both home and away sections, was great. The Main and Centenary stands not so much, as usual. But that’s modern football for you.

– If I’m not mistaken (and I might be) the United fans were mockingly preemptively signing Liverpool songs, ie “We’ve won it five times” with actual lyrics, rather than parodizing, waiting for the rest of the ground to join in. It was quite annoying in person. However, television audiences would presumably not realize and think that it was all Liverpool fans. Odd.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


I’m very surprised at the amount of criticism that Fellaini is getting for last night’s performance. I thought he was one of the better players on the pitch and was undoubtedly Man Utd’s second-best player (after De Gea obviously).

He was clearing headers out of his own box and down the other end trying to make things happen all night, which considering he was coming back from an injury was very impressive.

Sure he made some mistakes and had a few misplaced passes, but he actually looked like he gave a shit, which is more than can be said for the majority of the Utd team last night. He was always demanding the ball, trying to win the ball or to make something happen. Players like this always attract the most criticism when a team performs badly, whereas those that are completely anonymous (hello ‘Captain Fantastic’ Mr Mata) escape the same levels of condemnation.

Man Utd fans should spend less time focusing on the elbowey Belgium’s shortcomings and more time questioning why their other 9 outfield players didn’t display similar levels of fight and commitment as Fellani.
Ollie McG. Ireland


Stop blaming Fergie
I am sick of fans and pundits saying that it’s SAF’s fault that Man U have been doing so badly over the last two-and-a-half years). Moyes inherited an absolutely fantastic squad of players in 2013 and he and LVG are primarily the ones responsible for Man U’s precipitous decline. SAF is the last person who should be blamed!

These people ignore the fact that Man U won the title by 11 points in SAF’s last year in charge. Some pundits have said that they were ‘lucky’. But if anything Man U were very unlucky that season. They would have almost certainly have gone through to the semis of the Champions League against Real Madrid if Nani had not been unfairly sent off. They could have won the whole competition with a bit more luck.

Some people have said that Moyes inherited an ‘ageing’ team, or words to that effect. But if they won the league by 11 points then surely they should be good enough to at least challenge for the league title the next season? I find it extremely hard to believe that being three months older made that much of a difference. It’s a ridiculous argument.

Even worse, some people say that Man U were ‘stagnating’ in the last couple of years of SAF’s time, or that the team SAF left ‘just wasn’t good enough’. How can winning the league by 11 points be ‘stagnating’ or ‘not good enough’?

It’s true that the Man U of 2012/13 was greater than the sum of its parts, it was a star team rather than a team of stars. It is also true, of course, that SAF is the one who picked Moyes for the job. But David Moyes inherited an absolutely fantastic squad of players who were more than capable (maybe with a couple of additions) of winning the league and the Champions League in that first season, you have to be mental to suggest otherwise.
Thomas Ewens


Disappointed Spurs
I noticed that there weren’t any mails on the Dortmund v Spurs match in this morning’s mailbox, so I thought I’d chip in. You won’t be surprised to hear that I am very disappointed with the result, but more so the team selection. I understand resting players and using heavy rotation in the Europa League during the group stages or against weaker opposition, but surely at this stage of the competition and against a serious opposition, you have to leave that mindset behind?

You could make a case that this would have been the biggest game of Kane’s club career but he was left on the bench. There were echoes of Brendan leaving Gerrard out of the team to face Madrid – play your best players, surely? And we left out our entire midfield and it really showed playing against easily the best team we have faced this season, better than anything in the Premier League (1st time this season Spurs have conceded more than 2 goals, and only the 5th team to score more than once against us). I’m pretty sure Dortmund would have won against our strongest team but at least then we could have gone home without regrets and maybe even an away goal.

I appreciate we’re in a great position in the league, and Poch knows the condition of the players better than the fans do, but this was clearly a case of not taking the competition seriously. I just hope that we play the strongest available team in the home leg and salvage some pride, even if the quarter finals are now probably out of reach.

As an aside, if we are in the Champions League next season, will we rest players in that competition as well, it’s nearly the same number of games as the Europa League and with harder opposition so will the players magically become even fitter
Kevin G, THFC


Frustrating line up from Spurs last night, tho understandable it still grates.

Every manager values the Europa league, until they don’t.
James Smythe


The alternative view
I was surprised to see very little mention of Spurs in the morning mailbox. There was a lot of criticism last night from fans and pundits over Pochs team selection. With a match against Villa this weekend a lot believe that we should have fielded a stronger side.

While it’s patently obvious that Poch has decided to prioritise the league over the Europa it seems to me that he’s made the correct decision and crucially he’s made it at the right time. Better to go out of the Europa now than slowly tire out over the next few weeks and decide to field a weaker team in the quarter finals (this of course assumes we would have beaten an excellent Dortmund team with a full strength team). Now he definitely won’t face so many selection dilemmas in the upcoming run in.

On another note, how much does Ian Darke sound like Peter O’Hanraha-hanrahan?
Mike (Ich nichten licten) Taylor, Spurs


The Tottenham crisis
Just to let you know, there is something wrong with your home page – I can’t find the mailbox devoted to Tottenham’s crisis. There must be one, surely?

Losing at West Ham with an abject performance, blowing the chance to go top of the league despite leading against a horribly out of form team with ten men, then getting humiliated by Dortmund all within eight days.

We know Tottenham are now the premier team in North London – so where are the hourly think-pieces, and mails mentioning the Tottenham crisis that have nothing to do with Tottenham (ie, ‘looks like United are going to do a Tottenham this season’ – which means getting beaten at home in the FA Cup by the most out-of-form team in the league).

You must be saving it up for Friday afternoon.
Jaimie (in no way bitter Arsenal fan) Kaffash, AFC, London


United fans
So United fans should just stop going should they?

This kind of logic really grinds my gears.

One of the best of the recent ranters on Arsenal Fan TV was one following the Swansea debacle who raged against the manager and the team before telling the camera but I’ll still go to Tottenham at the weekend – like a mug.

You see, that’s what’s you’re supposed to do.

F365 do a sterling job of offering me an outlet to moan and celebrate the Arsenal over the season but my in-match “protests” are limited to muttering about certain crap players under my breath. When I’m in the stadium I cheer the boys because that’s what you’re supposed to do – you’re a supporter! Although, I did once have a “moment” over Gervinho who I swear is the most frustrating player of all time. I even kept it together when Eboue conspired to let Liverpool back into a game at the Emirates a few seasons back when we were still on for the title. I think I actually laughed and went home.

And you know what? I’ll be there on Sunday against Watford – like a mug.

Not going won’t persuade the Glazers to sell up – they’ll just hang onto the club in the hope fans will return so they can sell when they can get a good price.

Also Seth, Arsenal haven’t done an Arsenal for the last two years son – though we may well do so this season.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


An Indonesian backing Newcastle
I am an Indonesian student who is currently residing in the UK. I did my undergraduate in Newcastle and immediately feel the strong support towards Newcastle United.

Newcastle United are admittedly not big names like Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, or Chelsea in the Asian base support. We just identify them as the team that consistently lies in mid-table of Premier League. However, during my three-year stay in Newcastle, I realised fully how big of a club is Newcastle. Every match day, thousands of thousands passionate (not plastic) supporters flocked to the St. James Park to support their team. Endless support. Most families at Tyneside don the jersey proudly. Heck, even some of my university lecturers inserted some slides about Newcastle United in their lessons! It’s difficult not to feel the energy and start supporting The Toon.

With this strong support (arguably the most passionate fans in the UK) in mind, how the club is being run is just beyond unfunny joke. The supporters need to put up with annual humiliation by Sunderland, irresponsible owners, and lately string of puppet managers. I am surprised they can stay for that long with John Carver (pure comedic gold) and a charlatan that is Steve McClaren.

Mind you, Newcastle actually have good players in their team. Tim Krul (although this season injured), Janmaat, Wijnaldum (who won the title as a captain in Netherlands!), Mitrovic, and Sissoko can easily fit into so-called “Top 6” squad (not necessarily starting XI, but still going to be good players in those teams). How they are managed is just criminal. They are not supposed to be in the 19th place, they are supposed to be doing similar like West Ham this season!

As an outsider, Newcastle will be forever my second-favourite team in the UK. Now with McClaren gone, I really wish whoever the new manager can steady the ship and at least save us from the relegation. Rafa Benitez looks like to be our new manager and hopefully he can do something quickly. Still 10 games to go, it’s not impossible but certainly going to be hard. New manager just needs to galvanise these players and to perform like their perceived abilities.

In the future, I really wish Newcastle can win some trophies. Their fans don’t even demand titles / glory hunters (they just want the team to show some passion). But I believe the passionate fans and the beautiful city of Newcastle really deserve a proper and achieving football club. They breathe, eat, and talk football there. Love it.

Howay the Lads!
Vincentius, Cambridge


Absolute Caulker
This article is exactly why I visit your site daily (and precisely why I just don’t get enough work done).
Of course Caulker has to play in goal. Hopefully he can get a run out mid game as a last minute addition to the striking line in the style of David James.
Martin (cr*p did I just b*ntz) Jackson


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