Mails: Is it possible to be a neutral fan?

Date published: Thursday 26th May 2016 2:26

Seriously, feel free to send some non-Mourinho stuff to


England will benefit from Mourinho
I wonder if the whole LVG sacking and extended circus around the appointment of Jose Mourinho (Don’t you think it’s a truly un-PFMable name? Unless you opted for Joso, but even that doesn’t really work) will actually benefit the England team. The media are obviously lapping up Mouro (I will keep trying) whilst at the same time continually mentioning how horrible he is, which has shifted focus away from the England National team. Rashford and Co will feel strangely abandoned and I wonder whether this lack of scrutiny will actually enable them to just get on with playing football over the summer. Maybe, JoMo planned this all meticulously and is best friends with Roy Hodgson. Maybe Chelsea are in on the conspiracy and are deliberately holding up the image rights issue to help England.

Of course as soon as the Euro’s kick off, I’m sure our media will jump straight back in on the England team with a footballing equivalent of a Hulk Hogan top leg stinky leg drop and shatter whatever bodily functions Daniel Sturridge and Jack Wilshere have remaining.

I also noted that its only in the absence of Klopp scrutiny that Sturridge’s mechanical functions have issued a whimper. Ill tell ya, those Germans engineers know what they’re doing, anyone who can keep the football equivalent of a 10 year old Alpha Romeo running for more than a week is someone you need to respect.

As an aside how amazing would it be if Moro had to wear a Chelsea coat in the Man Utd dugout. It would camouflage him when he approaches to poke the eye of Antonio Conte or his underlings.
Nu, (Conspiracy theorist Extraordinaire)


United need short-term success now
I share the fears of many Manchester United fans about the likely coronation of Jose Mourinho, negative football, stifling of promising young players, general unpleasantess and skullduggery.

The thing is now Woodward simply can’t afford the next manager to be anything less than a hit. Its aruguable that Woodward is almost as culpable for the shortcomings of the last few seasons. The last two transfer windows have seen United become a laughing stock as the club has spent way more time waving wads of cash in the air and boasting about being able to sign world class players than it has signing world class players, or even just signing players significantly better than the ones already at the club. Is Rojo that much of an upgrade on good old Jonny Evans? If we’re being honest, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s fashionably Spanish, does Herrera really represent a £30m-ish upgrade on Tom Cleverley? Its easy to blame managers, but United tried to sign Herrera under Moyes, then went back for him the following season, so who’s choice was he?

Woodward’s footballing stock has taken a battering and were he to appoint a third successive manager who fell short, then surely his own position would become untenable, at least from a footballing perspective. How we went from David Gill’s assertion that Fergie’s successor would have ‘the relevant domestic and European experience’ to appointing a man with one top four finish in a decade or so and 180 minutes of Champion’s League experience, only the United board know for certain. What is certain is that Moyes brought the same level of achievment to Old Trafford.

Van Gaal’s appointment looked good on paper, but Woodward’s obssession with vanity signings such as Bale and Muller seem to have hindered attempts at re-shaping the squad. Van Gaal has also been a victim of the widespread lack of understanding of the scale of the rebuilding work undertaken. An entire matchday squad of players who had won the league under Fergie have left the club since then. Players like Scholes, Giggs, Ferdinand and Vidic who were central to the club’s success gone in the space of a couple of seasons. Press, pundits and fans seem to expect a quick return to the glory days, Some point the finger at Van Gaal and cite a strong squad that should be doing better, but a realistic look at a squad roster that includes as of now one striker who’s now a midfielder, one 20 year old striker who’s our best winger and one 18 year old striker who wasn’t even in the u-21s this time last year tells another story.

United will be casting worried glances at all those sponsorship deals, especially ones like the Adidas deal that contain clauses about being not being in the champion’s league. How many seasons out of the champion’s league before being Manchester United’s official fish tank partner for SE Asia (let your goldfish swim around a scale model of the Theatre of Dreams!!) loses its appeal?

From Woody’s point of view now is not the time for trusting a wholly inexperienced sentimental choice in Giggs, nor for hoping that a promising manager like Koeman can take the step up, or that a manager with no experience managing in this league like Blanc, can adapt. Now is the time to bite the bullet, to dance with the devil. Time to call for the man with 8 league titles in 13 years. Mourinho is the closest thing to a sure bet that there is in football. Many United fans are aghast, citing Mourinho’s poor record when it comes to blooding young players and his negative approach

However, I am probably a little more optimistic that football’s most pragmatic manager can deliver what the club wants. At Real Madrid and Chelsea, that was instant success regardless of cost. At United, the requirements are a little different, and I think Mourinho is smart enough to adapt. One point lost in all the analysis was when away from the ‘money no object’ cultures of Chelsea and Real Madrid he won the title at Inter with a squad featuring the 18 year old Balotelli, and academy graduate Davide Santon, then followed that up with a treble the next season. The negative aspect is overplayed too, Mourinho knows how to get results, how to win. For all Fergie loved to attack, I also remember United lining up against Arsenal with four full backs on the pitch, and playing rope-a-dope letting Arsenal keep the ball. That negative attitude of Mourinho didn’t stop his Real Madrid team scoring 100 goals in a season.

With Pep across town, Conte arriving at Chelsea, a young exciting Spurs side getting better, Klopp about to shape Liverpool how he wants them, Arsenal being Arsenal and West Ham improving and having a shiny new stadium with almost as many season ticket holders as United the battle for those precious 4 Champion’s League spots is only going to get tougher. The season after that might add Benitez and a resurgent Toon to the list, stranger things have happened. That’s without any repeats of Leicester’s stunning season or the billionaires who now own Villa and Everton trying to initiate some Chelsea/City type leap up the table.

United need the next manager to be someone who is as close to a nailed on bet for short-term success as there is. Happily enough the man probably best suited to that role of any manager in world football is available and desperate for the job. If United appoint the wrong man now, in two or three seasons time we could become a team like Spurs and West Ham used to be, like Everton, happy for a cup run and mumbling about how we play the game the right way, and just look at all the kids in our team as we finish 8th. Or like Liverpool of the 90s, adhering to some romantic ideal of promoting from within while football moves on around us and it takes us 20 or 30 years to recover.

Kind Regards
Mike Christie


‘You’re welcome to him’
In response to Olly, Chester who asked “what do Chelsea fans think of Mourinho going to Manchester Utd?”.

I can honestly say you’re welcome to him. I’ll admit I would have preferred to see him at PSG but I can’t deny I’m as intrigued as everyone else with how Mourinho vs Guardiola will play out. I think it should allow Conte to quietly go about his business with making us a top-four club again which won’t be easy.

I firmly believe his three seasons there will play out much like his second spell with us did – 1st year will be getting his feet under the table, moulding them to his ways and getting Martial to adopt LB as his secondary position. His 2nd year he’ll win the title having spent £230m over two seasons but the 3rd year cracks will begin to form and fans will be on his back for not giving more game time to the youngsters.

I loved him in his first spell at our club, he was a revolutionary who got the best out of a very talented squad. He’s credited with really raising the attitudes and mentalities of all our former legends; Terry, Lampard, Drogba, Cech have all come out with comments that go beyond the normal soundbites players give to former, successful bosses. But there was no charm or cheeky charisma this time around, it was mostly bitter, sulky and quick to shift the blame off of himself. The Special One died in Madrid, I believe. I don’t know what the Redtops will label him as when he finally signs but it may as well be The Temporary One.
BlueLuke – Thanks for ‘04-‘06 Jose


I don’t particularly mind that Mou has gone to Man Utd given the way it ended at Chelsea. We got to enjoy his second coming and winning the league. That’s enough. It’s unrealistic to think that Mou is going to 10 years anywhere (so just come to terms with that now Man Utd fans).

I would say that the general view of a Chelsea fan is that the average moaning of a Man Utd fan is hilarious. Mou with a huge transfer budget is amazing (he set points records with Madrid and Chelsea with it). Getting a small Chelsea squad over the line and then the following break down has allowed everyone to run with the lazy characterisation that ALL his teams were boring, which is simply not true.

For what it’s worth, I think you are going to love it and going to win the league comfortably, and you’ll all conveniently forget all the moaning you have done this month in a year’s time.

But if he takes Willian, I’ll kill myself.
Charlie CFC


Marquee signings
Jean E. Forrestier wrote a list of marquee names that Ferguson signed — thank you F365 for dismissing a few of them, but I’m going to go a bit further and dismiss all of them except one.

Veron: Marquee name, no doubt. Didn’t work though.
Van Nistelrooy: Dutch league top scorer just like Depay, but not a world class player at the time.
Poborsky: One great Euro tournament does not make a marquee player.
Stam: Humiliated a month before joining United when PSV lost 5-0 to Ajax in the Dutch Cup final.
Keane: British potential and hard man, but never a marquee name.
Cole: Great English striker, but not world class. Maybe even at no point in his career.
Ferdinand: Great potential but didn’t become world class until 4-5 years after joining United, when he was paired with Vidic.
Berbatov: Luxury player.
De Gea: Pretty unknown when United signed him and took a few years to become what he is today.
Van Persie: Premiership great, but a marquee name? No.
Rooney: Potential and loads of it, but it was a pretty big risk at the time.
So, to sum up: Paying loads of money for players does not make them marquee names.

Di Maria and Falcao were marquee names though, and that worked out brilliantly, didn’t it.

Kim Johannesen
Copenhagen, Denmark.


Being a neutral fan
I really enjoyed John Tucker’s piece about plastic fans but one sentence really stood out to me: ‘I love football and consume it voraciously but without a team to love it feels slightly hollow’. I could not disagree with this theory more. I am a neutral football fan and I would argue that it enhances my love of the game. I watch games that I think will be entertaining/full of skill rather than remain unthinkingly wedded to watching whatever team I support. I don’t doubt that the majority of fans really feel an affinity with whoever they support but I don’t think this a prerequisite for being a ‘real’ football fan. Quite the opposite. The amount of Utd fans who clearly hate Liverpool and vice versa is baffling when you take a step back and look at it. Hate! They hate a group of players they have never, and will likely never, meet. Not that there is anything wrong with a healthy rivalry of course but partisanship poisons everything. Think of the Utd fan who genuinely thinks Scholes was better than Xavi, or that Gerrard was ‘sh*t’. Or the Arsenal fans who pathetically ruin every poll by voting for their players en masse.

I appreciate that I am in the minority here but I do think there is real value in being neutral. I simply want to watch the ‘best’ football available to me. This tends to change obviously from time to time (last season I really enjoyed watching Leicester, Spurs and West Ham in the premiership, Barcelona and Dortmund are usually brilliant). Maybe it is because I prize technique and talent above most else but the thought of someone having the chance to watch Messi and Iniesta on a regular basis and instead choosing to watch Fellaini elbow his way through 90 mins based solely on a perceived loyalty is alien to me. I can see that there are benefits in being a club fan but the negatives seem to outweigh them to me. Again, I know that I am in the vast minority but I’d be interested to hear feedback (unless it’s of the ‘you just don’t get it’ variety).
Stephen, Dublin


More on plastics
I found the plastic fan issue a very interesting read, and was surprised at some of the comments beneath the article.

I supported Liverpool when I was younger for the sole reason that my Dad did. Neither of us had any tie to the area and never went to games. We’d watch Liverpool on TV a lot and I had Liverpool shirts, bedding, etc. The only games I actually went to were my local team Leicester City mainly in the championship. Going to about five a season.

This was up to the age of 18 (well the Liverpool bedding had gone slightly earlier…). By this time, I’d stopped caring as much about Liverpool and went to more Leicester games. I felt more belonging there as this was the city I was from. Wins were much sweeter and defeats hurt more. This was in 2009.

I’ve had a season ticket since 2010 at Leicester and see this as my club. I love my city and my club. Now I could be seen as a glory supporter as Leicester have won the bloody league. But, my opinion is that i shouldn’t be constricted to supporting Liverpool based on a decision made by my dad when i was too young to understand. I fully committed to Leicester about 10 years after I should have. Does the fact that I’ve gradually switched to my local team make me plastic? Am I now a plastic fan because Leicester are successful? Would i be less plastic if I stuck with Liverpool (a team over 150 miles away)?


Managing expectations
Jurgen Klopp is the 44th longest serving manager in the English League. Think about that for a second.

There are 92 clubs in the league and Jurgen Klopp has been in charge at Liverpool for longer than the current managers of more than half of them. That is incredible. Only six clubs have had their current manager for more than four years. All but seven clubs appointed their current manager after the London Olympics. 44 clubs either have a vacancy or a manager who has been in charge for less than 200 days.

Alex Ferguson was in charge of Man Utd for three and a half years before he won anything. In 1988/89 Utd finished 11th. Does anyone serious think he would be given anything like that now?
Micki Attridge


“Whereas once injury-prone footballers were treated with great sympathy, now the standard response is mockery (Abou Diaby and Phil Jones) or a weird strain of anger, as in Wilshere’s case. It’s hardly his bloody fault.”

Why is it weird? If he continually keeps picking up injuries then either he’s not taking care of himself or the physio/medical team at Arsenal aren’t taking care of him/making sure he takes of care of himself. Whichever way it is, if you add it what we all know of Jack Wilshere the man, then combine this with Arsenal’s injury record, then you can see why people would greet his continuing injury issues with anger. It basically comes across like Wilshere and Arsenal are too stupid to keep him fit.

Imagine that every weekday your job was to train a bit and use the the gym, under the guidance of professional physios. What’s your excuse for continually being that weak when your whole workplace and working day is designed to make you stronger?

Add to this that certain players take/took home massive wages *cough* Michael Owen *cough* whilst contributing very little from the treatment table and surely you can see why some people react without sympathy? It’s their job to be fit and playing.
Stu, London


Love for Nick
Oo Nick,

Thank you for your bang on article… I love love looovvvveeee to be hated due to my allegiance to United.. It was and continues to be the risk free alternative of becoming a career criminal because we all know it is just so good to be bad.

There really isn’t any reason for me to expound on Nick’s article, perfectly captures one of the alluring, more devious aspects of being a supporter that I don’t think is discussed that often which is deriving pleasure from opposition fans’ pain (insert Louis Van Gaal’s sex masochism comment here).. The only thing I love equally to a United win is visiting Arsenal’s Fan Youtube page after a loss and watch as fans explode at Arsene’s tactics and Arsenal’s lack of impetus.

I am thoroughly excited at the prospect of becoming the most hated club in the Premier League again, and this isn’t even down to Mourinho’s success. If he wins trophies, fantastic, but if he doesn’t and nicks points off of “the big teams”, it will be just as fun and knowing that those fans will be enraged and their hate only makes each win that much sweeter.

So cheers to the Premier League next season, I won’t speculate on what Mourinho is going to do because the narrative has already been set.. Even if Mourinho sticks with the youth, introduces an attacking style of play, doesn’t act like a complete g*t to other managers/directors/staff/fans/your mum (delete where appropriate), it’s only a matter of time, right? No point in speculating and get ready for a grand spectacle.

J.D (a right ol’ bastard United Supporter)


Ed’s explanation
It’s you. It’s always been you. You understand that free spirits need space to roam.

In response to Dave, I’m not sure what my record is, but I have done the Mailbox-Fiver double a couple of times, as have a few others. In my defence, I write about different things for different sites, unlike, for example, Harry Redknapp and Robbie Savage, two notorious idea recyclers, and a certain person I could mention, who has previously achieved the aforementioned double with the same email.

Looking into it, I’d claim a PB of 6 – 2 Mailboxes, 2 mentions on different 6 Music shows, 1 OBO with someone called Nick Miller, and the Fiver. Obviously the easiest way to break that record would be to start a transfer rumour on a foreign website, and then watch as first the Metro, then the Daily Star, and then the Telegraph, Guardian, BBC, MailOnline, Express and Times all publish it.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (it’s not a character, just a sequence of phonetic sounds that looks good on a t-shirt. And my middle name).

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