Mails: Why are problem positions ignored?

Date published: Thursday 25th August 2016 2:01

Keep those thoughts coming to…


Glaring holes
Five players currently playing out of position

Forget about Man Utd’s consistent ignorance to their midfield destroyer role (Pogba’s amazing, but still not it), and the fact that four managers have ignored this hole, and let’s look to another hole that’s still very much open and has been since 2008.

Liverpool’s left back slot. Since John Arne Riise left in 2008 there has been a slew of stand-ins that just haven’t quite made the grade.

When Riise left, the excellent and underrated Aurelio became first choice, but beset by injuries, never managed to hold down his spot effectively, and was released (before re-signing) in 2010. 07-08 was probably Arbeloa’s season, but a training ground argument over threatening Reina’s clean sheets with poor defending led him off to Madrid. There was also the case to be made that he was a right back by trade, and would have performed better on the right.

Then in came Emiliano Insua from the reserves, to become undisputed first choice, then unwanted and sold within one season. He left very young and had great potential, but wasn’t what liverpool needed at the time. He has a good handful of medals now though and plays for Stuttgart, so I guess everyone’s happy.

Herein start the truly dark days, in comes Hodgson with Paul Konchesky sneaking in behind him. His substitution in one game was cheered by the home fans.

We seemed to muddle through for half a season thanks to players filling in (Daniel Agger had a few, Aurelio when fit) before finally signing Jose Enrique and thinking the problem was done. But he only cared about Insta and performances quickly declined. In and amongst this Dossena squeezed his way into the line up in 18 league games and proved the only skill he had was lobbing world class keepers when we were already 3 goals up. A great skill, but you need something different from your left back. The next player signed as first team left back was Aly Cissokho, this time on loan, after realising things don’t usually go to well in that position. He was pants (similar to Moreno) but did deliver a cracking cross for Suarez to score a 20 yard header.

Again a loanee, in comes Javi Manquillo on a 2 year loan that never got to two years. This leads us to our current dilemma, Alberto Moreno. Very highly rated, this young £12million Spaniard capped 3 times for Spain already at age 22 will be it. Sorted for 10 years. Turns out he has no interest in actual defending unless it involves a tackle from behind in your own penalty box.

How does a professional club with their scouting team spend so much and get it wrong so repeatedly? When the likes of Rose & Bertrand have been so readily available recently along with countless others down the line, why hasn’t there been a “safety” signing, a solid but unspectacular to end the rot?

Would love to hear from other mailboxers on their repeated glaring holes too.
KC (please give us Coentrao Madrid, you owe us one)


How to get off the Premier League merry-go-round
On Sarah Winterburn’s piece Premier League painted into transfer corner,

Simple answer is they can reverse the trend of overpaid, unwanted players. It involves a complete philosophical change in approach at board level. Boiled down simply, they just have to pick and choose the best players they require to improve their first XI, pad the squad with more youth instead of players like Loic Remy or Falcao and be more holistic in their managerial signings. Finally, actually COACH their players.

My club Chelsea’s biggest issue in this regard has actually been the merry go round of managerial sackings. From Jose, to Big Phil to AvB and Back to Jose there was scarcely a manager that played the same system never mind liked the same players. Added to the fact we are requiring our managers to win every competition, every year, we do not allow our managers to get to know and then improve the youth team players. We don’t allow our First team coaches actual time to coach the players, improving their current squads. For instance, Ancelotti rated Josh McEachran and Gael Kakuta. Played them multiple times, was sacked half way through his second season and, needing to steady the ship they got no game time over the next 3 years. Never to be seen again both these players went from loan to loan and have found themselves in the lower leagues.

If managers continue to lose their job as they don’t have the ultimate power, the one thing we really need to look at is the Director of Football role. Swansea and Southampton have done this magnificently in recent years. A common approach in Europe, the manager isn’t the leader of the ship, the DoF hires the manager, controls the player acquisition and synchronises all the youth teams. The DoF decides how the team will work. This critical appointment allows a club to keep moving in the same direction. Appointing managers which share the clubs “philosophy”, play in a similar tactical setup and expect the same things. Require similar traits from players. How many players have been shipped out of Man Utd since Fergie left? How much have they spent? Jose, Moyes and Van Gaal all have very different approaches to football, Di Maria would have been a perfect Jose signing, Mata not so much.

Football needs to get braver and be more clear in their actual path. Until that happens clubs like Sunderland will sack a manager every 10 months and buy 8-10 players every season, all whilst not actually moving forward.
Aston Taylor (CFC)


Taking the Michael
Over the past few mailboxes, I’ve seen Jose’s character take quite a bashing. And lots of it is being done in comparison to Pep. I’d been tempted to write in on this issue before and hadn’t but Mike’s email earlier was the final straw. So here goes:

1. Why oh why is it humiliation when Bastian Schweinsteiger is told he no longer has a place at the club, but when Pep does the same to Joe Hart it’s being professional and catering to his vision of the team?. Bastian,32, has been at the club for a season and was injured for most it. He was snapped supporting his wife more than actually playing for Man United. Mike says in his email that he ‘especially’ likes the way Pep has treated Joe Hart. Yes, because giving the club’s longest serving player (he even came before the Arab money) a week or so’s notice before the window closes is just the way to treat players. He must have known Hart would have trouble finding a new club given his substantial wages and that for a goalkeeper he still has 7-8 years in his prime. At the very least Bastian was given every opportunity to join a new club. But tell me more about how Jose is worse here.

2. Pep has done this at his former clubs as well. At Barcelona he ‘cut’ Deco, Zambrotta and Eto’o immediately. Pep has ‘cut’ Joe Hart from his plans. Jose, however, has ‘brutally axed’ Bastian Schweinsteiger. See the difference.

3. Also you know what I call a guy who only picks fights he can win? Smart. All Pep’s ‘ideals’ have earned him for the last three years are two spankings and a crushing defeat by Spain’s elite. Don’t tell me that he’s won the Bundesliga in each of those years. I would class Jose’s 2014-15 Premier League medal higher than any of the Bundesliga ones.

4. Mike’s also up in arms about Jose’s treatment of some of the players. Apparently Martial is frustrated and wasted out wide. This is a player who scored 17 goals last season from that position. He’s already notched 2 assists this season and had 2 extremely presentable opportunities last week against Southampton to open his account for this season. Rashford is stuck on the bench and ‘can’t get a look in’. Never mind the fact that he’s 18 and shouldn’t be tasked with being Man United’s leading striker. Jose has already said on multiple occasions on how he’s waiting for September, so that he can give everyone in the squad minutes. But let’s just wilfully ignore that and get on Jose’s back for not giving a player minutes in just the first 2 league games of the season.

5. Finally, I thought we’d cleared this Mata business up. Jose explained clearly what his intentions were when he took Mata off in the Community Shield. It was good football logic and the fact that Mata has started every game since should be enough indication as to whether it was humiliation or not.

It’s exciting times as a Man United supporter and it’s really surprising to read such negativity from United supporters themselves. Nobody’s perfect. Not even Pep. Deal with it.
Divyank. (Los Angeles)


…In response to Mike (Still a million times better than the dark days of Moyes) in the morning mailbox, I think you need to stop fretting over some of your points given we are two games into the season:

· Martial frustrated and wasted out wide – this is where he tended to play for Monaco, played most of last season under LVG gaining lots of plaudits and plays for France!

· Rashford not getting a game – we’re two games in! Rotation will be at a minimum until the EFL and Europa kicks in. Last season there were concerns about burnout for a young guy and now everyone’s crying about him not starting every game whilst simultaneously solving the problems in the Middle East.

· Mata humiliated – whether you choose to believe Jose’s reasoning behind the Community Shield substitution or not, he has started 2 games consecutively, I wish I could be as humiliated that much. And in one mail you praise Pep’s treatment of Hart while simultaneously decrying Jose for freezing out Schweinsteiger.

Oh and Brian – the training video in The Office says the most important part of a business is the customer. So if the fans are unhappy with the way things are going, Wenger should possibly start listening. But then what does Peter Purves know anyway?


…Mike (Still a million times better than the dark days of Moyes) San Fransisco, MUFC, I agree, I would have preferred Pep as well. I genuinely thought he would chose United over City.

But that being said, I do have to take issue with some of the things you have said.

Firstly Mourinho humiliating Schweinstegier and Mata versus Pep standing his ground and fighting for his ideals against Joe Hart.

This sounds like confirmation bias to me. You like Pep so agree with what he is doing, you don’t like Mourinho so don’t like what he is doing. United have played three competitive games and Mata (his 52nd and 53rd consecutive league games) has started two of those. How was he humiliated? Don’t say the subbed on, subbed off thing during the Community Shield. It was journos who decided Mata was humiliated, not Mata himself. As for Schweinstegier, at the end of last season there were reports (I know must be taken with a pinch of salt) that the other players were annoyed with his special treatment by LVG. I like Schweinstegier, but if the choice is between having a happy squad without him, or an unhappy squad with him, Mourinho has made the right choice. How is this different to what Pep has done with Hart?

Secondly Martial and Rashford: again three games in.

Thirdly Pep’s amazing football versus Mourinho’s feared football: Both have won two league games out of two. City have only scored one more goal than United in those two games.

Fourthly Mourinho picks a fight he knows he can win, Pep fights for his ideals? Okay, there is no excusing what Mourinho did to Dr Carneiro and I am not trying to, but aren’t you forgetting Pep humiliating Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt in the middle of a game? Something which led to Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt, resigning after 38 years at the club, followed by his entire medical staff.

Just like you shouldn’t look at the league table at this stage of the league, let’s also not jump to conclusions about style and using/not using players.
Jerry MUFC/Cobh Ramblers (Dundalk were unlucky to go out Legia, 2 last minute goals, and a ref who gave them nothing in the first leg)


…In response to Mike, It seems like he’s picked some weird points to criticise Mourinho on.
We’re only two games into the season. While both Pep and Jose have started well, we can draw f*** all conclusions at this stage.

You praise Pep for dropping Hart and sticking to his ideals while criticising Mourinho for doing exactly the same thing with Schweinsteiger. I don’t think Jose drops players according to their media backing. He explained the Mata substitution after the Community Shield. While it seemed an odd move, Mata has started the first two games of the season scoring once, so obviously their relationship has broken down.

Martial scored 17 goals from the left last season, so I don’t know that he’s wasted out there. He had a poor Euros but he’s coming off a 60 game season at the age of 19/20. Nothing overly concerning here.

Rashford isn’t getting game time because Ibra has scored 4 goals in three games. Should Jose drop him? Rashford will get a chance this season but dropping Ibra after he’s hit the ground running would be a strange move.

This is the difference between Mourinho and Van Gaal. Van Gaal seemingly dropped players at random regardless of performance. When Mourinho drops players the replacements come in and win games. This creates competition for places in the squad which can only be good.

Can’t argue with you on Rooney, he’s f***ing terrible.
Dave (Osvaldo) Cooney.


…So many holes to pick in Mike, San Francisco’s mail, but suffice to say that the 3 competitive games we’ve seen so far aren’t enough to start boo-hooing over Mourinho’s way of doing things, particularly with regard to playing Martial where he played all the time last year or not picking (yet) an 18 year old who probably won’t do more than 25-30 games this year anyway. Similarly, the amount we’ve seen Pep’s side play aren’t enough to lose ourselves salivating over. Neither side have played anyone with pretensions towards the Top 6.

I myself find it hard to like a man who accused the emergency medical services at Reading of not responding promptly to Cech’s head injury and went on to state that he knew 100% that Hunt went in to injure Cech in that incident. That points to a man who is not just dislikeable, but deep down, completely unhinged. It’s hard to watch him in the dugout for us, and i’m just waiting for the meltdown that always seems just round the corner with the fella. It may even come when City give us a right spanking in a couple of weeks’ time. As a United supporter it’s a strange thing to contemplate allowing myself a wry smile if that were to happen. But when the likes of Mike say things like ‘Mourinho is like the guy who picks a fight he knows he will win. Pep on the other hand is the dude who will fight whomever for his ideals’ – well,after you’ve swallowed the little sick you’ve done in your mouth, you just find yourself rooting for the man, despite his many glaring flaws….
Pablo, MUFC, Dublin


…I’m sorry but Mike MUFC has really p*ssed me off. Apart from using words like “lumpenproletariat”. (How many people genuinely didn’t have to Google that?)

“players who don’t have the biggest media backing (Schweinsteiger, Mata) etc get humiliated in public.”

Ermm… what?

Mata must feel SO humiliated currently by getting into the first 11 over £30 million signing Mkhitaryan (had to Google the spelling again). Schweinsteiger is probably just past it and doesn’t want to move for his £200,000 (!!!) a week. He’s been dropped from the squad. But humiliated…? It’s not like Jose has got them walk around the pitch at a home game shouting “SHAME, SHAME”. Stop being dramatic.

Not sure where you’re going with the whole “media backing” bit, in comparison to Rooney maybe?

“Pep on the other hand is the dude who will fight whomever for his ideals.”

Again, based on WHAT!?! Based on the 2 matches we’ve seen and a select amount of interviews!? Aggghhhh! Have you sat down with Pep with a beer and truly worked out his ideals and the type of guy he is? Or have you just watched the telly or gone on Twitter. Get off your incredibly high annoying horse.

F*ck their “ideals”. May the best team win.
Nick – The Tigers, but hopefully Hull City AFC again in the next few days.


Can we talk about something else please?
A number of people rightly state that F365 can only print the letters it receives, and it seems to only receive letters about Arsene Wenger, Liverpool and Jose. Sooooooo, how about a few different topics?

1. What do people call the League Cup? I have a friend who insists on calling it the Milk Cup because he can’t accept change. I have noted a number of people sticking with COC, either because it is a little bit funny or because they don’t realise the sponsorship has lapsed. I, as the question suggests, still call it the League Cup and I cannot see this changing with the rebranding as ‘EFL Cup’, not least because I was convinced this was the Auto Windscreens thing and the Prem clubs in the draw were their academies.

2. I think it is a real shame that Wales, NI and Scotland are still blocking a GB team at the Olympics on the spurious suggestion it would lead to FIFA demanding one GB team in all competitions. FIFA has consistently said this isn’t the case and I think it is particularly sad for the Women’s team given the exposure it could give to them (not least because they would have a genuine shot at a medal). The four separate nations complete in the World Cup, European Championships and various age group competitions. I cannot see the entry into one tournament as a group will cause widespread consternation and demands for homogenisation. Chris Coleman’s argument was along the lines of ‘you might break our toys’. I think, for the record, that Gareth Bale is Real Madrid’s toy, but surely the players should have a say?

3. Bournemouth are still playing lovely football, will this change if they are in a relegation dog-fight? I, for one, don’t think it will change and I also think they will OK. Jordan Ibe is an odd choice as a record signing and their goalkeeper is not Premier League standard but they have enough elsewhere to survive.

4. For all the joking, getting Celtic back into the group stages of the Champions League is great for Brendon Rodgers. They have made some superb signings this summer and surely no one will relish going to Parkhead or expect an easy night. Shame they seem unable to get a result away from home. (On the actual draw- Pot 3 looks tasty!)

5. While on the Champions League, genuinely disappointed for Dundalk. That would have been amazing. The Europa will be fun, but the big one? Maybe they will win the Europa and qualify automatically.

6. I am reading ‘Living on the Volcano’ at the moment and the insight into the day-to-day realities of a football manager is astounding. It is by the same guy who wrote ‘The Nowhere Men’ (what do you mean you haven’t read The Nowhere Men? Read it now, it is fantastic) and his understanding of the background workings of football is phenomenal. I suggest fans, especially of lower league clubs, read it and think a little before barrelling in on their manager next time they go three games without a win. Not least when you consider that there are only 40 managers in the English leagues who have been in their current job for more than a year. That means a pretty big majority of managers (58%) have been at their clubs for less than 12 months. And yet we still expect results.

As an aside, thank you for the all feedback on my letter around betting apps. It was only my experience and I am sure others have sound interactions with the whole betting hoopla with no issues. I am not on Friendface so cannot add comments but I did want to note that the offer was for a cash payout, not free bets. I withdrew the £50 and paid a parking fine with it (clouds and silver linings there). I just felt that the fact they could give me a free £50 showed how much they expected to make out of me. The letter from thayden explaining Tipsters getting a share of your losses… if that is true… that is absolutely terrible.
Micki Attridge


Keane as mustard
Any chance of doing a ‘Portrait of an Icon‘ on Robbie Keane? I’ve always felt he wasn’t rated as highly as he should have been in England due to his ever changing club career and the way he was treated at Liverpool but he did score a boatload of goals in the premier league/ship (126 to be exact).

It is at international level though where he really became an icon. He has the most amount of caps for Ireland. He smashed the previous Irish international scoring record of 21 three times over playing for a pretty small nation including goals in major tournaments and against the major heavy weight nations (Holland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain) in Europe.

Amazingly he had his critics here in Ireland which I could never understand. Those critics will now see the vacuum of goals Ireland will endure for the next decade or so before another kid can come along and even get close to half of his tally of 67 (hopefully more come next Wednesday).

He was committed to Ireland and wore the jersey with pride… I’m babbling here but come on Daniel you know you want to do it… I’m sure you’ll get a few of these.
Simon P, Dublin


Fergie’s f***ing perch
This morning’s article about Fergie’s f***ing perch shows you how being cocky can lead to your early demise. Liverpool raised an infamous banner proclaiming, “Au Revoir Cantona and Man United Come Back When You’ve Won 18”. And sure enough, Sir Alex Ferguson made sure it happened and United returned with a banner reading “You Told Us to Come Back When We’ve Won 18, We’re Back”. Ha ha, good times….
Keg Baridi (Man United off their perch coz of Moyes) Nairobi, Kenya

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