Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, send your birthday wishes to Daniel Storey. It would make him ever so happy.
Excited for tonight
Incredibly excited about the game tonight. I understand the problems surrounding Friday night football for match-going fans but from a purely selfish point of view its something I could get on board with.
Let’s start in goals: I fully expect Mignolet to start for the Reds with Karius handed his debut in the League Cup (or whatever it is called these days) on Tuesday. Mignolet will know however that one slip-up and he will be benched for the foreseeable future-hopefully this will bring out the best from him rather than an all-to-familiar indecisive shit show. For Chelsea, Courtois needs to arrest a subtle dip in form. After being recalled from his Atletico loan spell he was initially excellent, competing with De Gea for title of best in the league, but the past few seasons have seen him regress. While not dropping any Mignolet-esque clangers, too often he has been slow off his line or allowed shots to squeeze past him.
In defence, all eyes will be on David Luiz upon his return. He is a very proactive defender and this willingness to step out of the line often leads him out of position. Fortunately he will have the immense Kante in front of him hopefully curbing his wandering. I suspect Conte will resist throwing Alonso in against a rapid Mane and persist with Azpi at LB with the person attached to Ivanovic’s derriere on the right. For Liverpool Lovren will slot in alongside the hugely impressive Matip with Milner continuing his passable impression of a premier league left back. Lovren is the most volatile character in the Reds’ backline but will hopefully not get involved with Costa’s inevitable antics-a yellow card for both is a decent bet. Expect Clyne to stick pretty close to Hazard and not push too far up the field.
Klopp has a big call to make in attack: Does he stick with the line-up that so impressed against Leicester or does he recall Coutinho for Sturridge and employ Firmino in the false 9 role? I suspect the latter much to Sturridge’s chagrin. A hallmark of Liverpool’s attacking verve this season has been the increased numbers in the box with Lallana and Wijnaldum often complementing the forward trident leaving Henderson in a slightly unsuitable deeper role. I expect Conte to try utilise this lack of defensive solidity with Hazard in particular tasked with drifting in field to occupy this space while Willian will be his usual industrious self on the right.
With Liverpool notoriously unpredictable and Chelsea still finding their feet under Conte this game could be a ripper (or, you know, a dour 0-0). I’m already looking forward to reading Storey’s take on it in 16 conclusions while up to my eyeballs in whiskey!
Osric the Brave, (Hopefully a happy drunk tonight), Cape Town
This mornings mailbox should have been called ‘The Snap Judgment Mailbox’. Are some of you guys for real?
Granted it wasn’t good. I mean, it was really really bad. But are we really comparing it to Moyes & LVG’s worst periods (and there were a few of them) in charge?
They’ve had a bad week, of that there’s no doubt. Outclassed for large parts on Saturday and struggled last night against a side they should be comfortably beating. But it’s not as if all hope is lost. These were United’s 5th & 6th games of the season. They won the other 4. The strikeforce contains arguably the countries most exciting, in form youngster in Rashford as well as one of the biggest names in world football in Zlatan (4 goals in 6 games & changed the mindset when brought on last night). On top of that, there’s the world record transfer signing and probably the most complete midfielder in world football (BT Sport subscription causes me to watch a fair bit of Serie A, this lad is good) in Pogba and a back 5 that includes one of the two best goalkeepers in the world and young talent like Bailly & Shaw that are seriously looking to be the business.
It’s not all doom and gloom is it. United will come good, of that I’m sure. The players and manager are just too talented for them not to. So let’s wait for a little bit more than one bad week before we all start screaming “SHAME SHAME SHAME” and making them complete a walk of atonement.
Before the game even started I worried that Mourinho’s comments had the potential to inspire a performance like that. If the one charged with motivation is talking about his lack of motivation, his need to actively force himself to care about the competition, what can you expect? You might say that players should have taken it as their chance to prove themselves but in the back of their mind they know that their manager will only trust them in games which he does not consider important.
Turning to the Pogba chatter, I don’t think people are right when they say he cost you a lot of money and therefore he should be doing more. If a player costs that much money, it should be because the club views him as the heart of the team – someone other teams need to think about shutting down in order to have any chance of victory. Pogba is and can be that player for the next 10 years. However, as Paul Scholes mentioned, if you are going to rely on Pogba to do that from midfield he has to be viewed as a facilitator. You need others whom he can facilitate. Last night, a rampant Pogba was not the solution to our woes. He tried but with no intelligent movement other than from Herrera he had no options. So he resorted to taking multiple players on himself to open up space for others but still he had no options even when this was successful. Later on he Moves further up the pitch to try and influence the game more but found that he wasn’t even able to receive the ball there – same problem as Rashford.
As an aside, mock LVG all you want for his left and right back substitutions but I actually think these two positions are now key for the team. They open up space for Martial and Mata, they draw defenses out wide allowing more space for the midfield to tick. This all enables Pogba. Putting it on the line here but I think a return of Shaw and Valencia in the premier league will start to see us ticking properly again in a way that everyone was admiring a mere three games ago.
A lot of hurt feelings and end of the world spewing from United fans in the mailbox this morning, and also an exchange between two others in the comment section that makes me think they’re going to meet in the football pitches after school for a fight. Get a grip, lads. Yes, the Feyenoord game was dispiritingly Van Gaal-like – sleep walk, concede a goal on a breakaway, lose – but that’s the point. It was Van Gaal-like. His ghost is there. On dark nights you can still hear him shouting at Angel DiMaria for trying to express himself with a football. The team has had two years of reduced expectations, second guessing and sideways passing. That’s not all going away in a few weeks, Jose or no Jose. If they’re still playing like this at the end of the season, have at it, but in the meantime let’s give him a chance.
Stephen O’S, MUFC
Guy was right
The BT sport “so called experts” (seriously, get the European Football Show guys in to do the European nights) kept saying that Rashford was isolated and had no support from the midfield. For me the issue was the full backs. When United had good wins against Bournemouth and Southampton, Valencia and Shaw were bombing up and down, playing as wing backs and supporting the attack. Damian and Rojo are just not those type of players. Darmian has a classic Italian “defend first” attitude, whilst Rojo, is a liability in defence and useless in attack so I’m not sure what he brings to the team. Neither had the ability or instinct to do what Valencia and Shaw do.
Added to this were Martial and Mata playing way too deep. Maybe if the fullbacks were pushing up this may have worked, and allowed them more space to do their stuff. But these two issues meant Rashford was isolated and in desperate need for support.
The main reason they lost was attitude. Call it arrogance, or simply not motivated to win a game no one was really bothered about, it felt like I was watching a pre-season with players not getting out of first gear and not being concerned with scoring a goal, as long as they got 90 minutes of match fitness under their belts. It isn’t just United though, most English teams have that attitude to this competition. Interesting that Southampton with their French manager had a good win, and Liverpool last year with Klopp nearly won it. Mourinho has made it clear this is a distraction.
The build up to the goal did have a clear offside, and Feyenoord were very aggressive in their tackling, but those are no excuses. A Mourinho team is always physically strong so should be able to deal with it when used as a tactic against them. Maybe Fellaini should have played to put it about himself and fight fire with elbows?
Although I was happy with the subs, I would have kept Rashford on and brought Young on for one of the fullbacks to help solve the first conclusion. Maybe for Rojo, as Darmian and Young can play either side so we could have had the option for them to swap sides for inswinging crosses or outswinging crosses.
Talking of subs. Memphis really is frustrating. A player so lacking with confidence yet clearly talented. Has Van Gaal ruined him? Has Mourinho the patience to get him back playing as we want and hope he can?
Hate to admit it, as I’m one of those who feel Rooney shouldn’t be played, but he was missed last night. For all his “controlling the ball like Bambi on ice” he does have a winning mentality which may have got the team out of first gear. He also wouldn’t have lost the ball as easily as Mata when put under some pressure. I still don’t think he should be playing number ten, and would prefer a 4-3-3 to build the team around Pogba and Zlatan, but I would be okay with him playing on the side of that front three with Rashford/Martial on the other. Much like Cavani did for PSG when Zlatan took centre stage. Its not right living in a world where Guy S may actually have a point!
Talking of 4-3-3, Scholes’s comments about Pogba needing a Pirlo type player to control the game from deep was interesting. If only we had that type of player. The type who dictates the tempo, whilst always having space, a leader. Possibly even a world cup winning captain? Wonder where we could get one of those?
I still don’t understand why playing football on a Thursday is so bad. The teams playing in the Europa Cup, play Sunday. The gap between games is no different to playing on a Tuesday after a Saturday, or a Saturday after a Wednesday in the Champions League. I quite enjoyed getting in from work in time to watch the game at 6pm. Shame my toddler son who is potty training decided to have a poo accident in his pants 2 minutes before kick off and I was the only person available to sort it out as the wife wasn’t home from work. Probably summed the match up!
Its not the end of the world. But after the opening three games its back down to Earth with a bang. I hate International breaks….
John “Even though he’s an ex Liverpool player, I can’t help but like Kuyt, what a worker and an important cog in any team” Morgan, Kingsbury
A couple of days ago I wrote a comment on one of the F365 mailbox threads, basically elucidating what I see as the myopia of Guy S’s opinions on you know who. He replied in a dignified and reasoned manner, and made some fair points. I don’t agree with all of them and I feel that he still warps logic to fit his Rooney narrative and gives him the benefit of a doubt that he doesn’t give to others, but at the very least I felt like I was having a conversation with a person with a brain and a valid opinion, even if it is contrary to my own.
Guy gets a lot of flack on here for his view on he who shall not be named, but he engenders discussion, doesn’t resort to name calling, and is fairly well spoken. He’s a damn sight better than the Keg Baridis and David Robins of the world.
Disagreement on football is like shagging in Magaluf. You can’t really avoid it, and why would you even want to? It’s why it’s all so much fun. Guy deserves a lot of respect for maintaining a position that he clearly believes in, and for refusing to kowtow to hive logic. Good for him.
Eamonn (Rooney is a bit shit though), Istanbul
Jose missed a trick
Obviously, there will be some knee-jerk reactions to last night’s insipid display. Pogba isn’t worth the money! I told you Rooney has to play!
What is frustrating is that just like Arsenal the other night this result was predictable but for a whole host of other reasons. Time and again Premier League managers make massive changes for Europa League games and come unstuck. Often times it is the same story in the League Cup.
One thing Sir Alex managed in his final 4-5 years as manager was finding the balance between having a settled team and rotation. Rotation means changing 2-3 players at most each game not playing the same XI and then throwing 8 players in who haven’t played a game all season.
We were always likely to struggle against a side who have played 3-4 games together this season. Surely it would have been better to make a couple of changes last night (e.g Rashford for Ibra and Smalling for Blind) then give a couple others a chance against Watford. I get that Europa League is the chance to use your fringe players and the PL is the priority but winning games and building momentum is also hugely important. Coming into the weekend on the back of a 3-0 win away in Europe a bit tired would surely be better than now playing under pressure on the back of two defeats.
When Memphis was whoring himself around Europe for a fat contract and announced he was going to United over Liverpool I was genuinely devastated. I’d fooled myself into thinking we could have had one of the brightest young players in Europe, fitting in with Brendan’s philosophy and with potential to be world class. The situation was reminiscent of Hazard to Chelsea: young talented inside forward decides it’s time to play in a major European league (shhh France, back down) and announces he’s leaving to cut the crap between clubs and start the public appeal process.
How has he gone from such a position of power to where he is now however? Obviously a talent, United will be reluctant to cut their losses just yet so I predict a January loan to someone like Southampton, or a team that achieves more than United in Europe.
Who failed here though? Memphis or United? Players with great records come from Holland and other successful-but-not-major leagues and seem to either fly or sink.
Memphis cost more than Suarez out of the league (granted 4 years of football inflation), yet their careers couldn’t have taken different paths. Suarez isn’t a one off either, RVN being an example of a big money Eredivisie signing amongst others.
Ultimately though this is just a mail about learning a lesson on reacting to transfers. Whilst I bet United fans are now gutted about missing out on Hazard, they’re probably not too bothered about Lucas Moura who was a big deal at the time.
As for me? We signed Firmino instead of Depay so I’m pretty chuffed about that particular Memphis sized close shave.
KC (wish we’d signed Gabigol though….. guess I haven’t learnt)
From what I’ve seen of Pogba so far I think everyone (mainly in the press) has been a bit mean about him struggling. He was described as the ‘new Vieira’ on many occasions, and I think he is there already. Well, not so much the new Vieira, more the new new Vieira. One Abou Diaby.
JazGooner (United are very lucky to have him. Hopefully he won’t break so much)
This week I will watched football on the telly every night.
MON: Sunderland v Everton (dire until Lukaku’s alarm went off)
TUES: City v Monchengladburtbacharach
WEDS: Leicester v Club Brugge (all the way?)
THURS: United v Feyenoord (LOL)
FRI Liverpool v Chelsea (the return of Sideshow Bob – amazing)
What a bloody time it is to be alive. I’m mostly just happy we all stopped arguing about the cost of Pogba.
Lee (I think Matip will have Costa in his back pocket tonight) LFC
It had Storey written all over it
I notice that whoever coined the terrible gag in the Man City garlic pitch article wisely decided to leave aside their by-line.
As vampire jokes go, that one sucks.
Terry Hall, Switzerland