Mails: Is Mahrez the man for Man United?

Date published: Friday 13th May 2016 2:29

What a week for the Mailbox. Let’s make Monday brilliant too with mails to Meanwhile, read Jonathan R. Smith on his ACL comeback.


It’s Russian roulette for six managers
The end of the season is nigh and most of us have turned at least one eye onto the next campaign. It got me thinking about managers and how a reasonable number are doomed to failure. There will probably never have been so many high profile managers in the league and they can’t all succeed. We will have Wenger, Conte, Klopp, Guardiola, Pochettino and (probably) Mourinho.

For every one of these managers finishing sixth would be seen as anything from severe disappointment (Liverpool) to absolute disaster (City). However, it goes without saying but one of them has to finish sixth or worse. Every one of these managers could make good signings, get their team playing well, but one or two of them will still be viewed as a total failure. It’s a bit like playing Russian roulette with two bullets. You might lose, but that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.

That’s not to mention clubs like West Ham, Southampton and of course, champions of England, Leicester City. All these clubs will have an eye on mixing things up, as they have done this year, and having a genuine crack at the top four.

I can never remember a time where being a manager for one of the historic big clubs left you with such a small margin of error. At least one of them will ‘fail’ and possible through very little fault of their own. It’s certainly going to make for a fascinating season.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


City in fifth would surely suit Pep
Listening to the radio it appears that should City finish fifth it will be a total and complete and utter disaster for Pep. And City. Maybe even the universe. A disaster of such scale it would need the Avengers to resolve/cause.

I’ve been trying to work out why. Frankly, I’m struggling. There is the obvious financial loss (for maybe a season) but their commercial generation off pitch is going very nicely and the FFP rules cover a year or two. There is the loss in seeding points too, but to win the trophy you have to be able to beat the best teams at some point. So, again. Not sure.

Weirdly, it might actually help them. I’m not sure that I buy this – we won’t get the best players if we aren’t in the Champions League stuff. I think that is agent code for ‘you’ve got more money now and we’re going to grab a slice of that too ha ha ha”. City are a massive attraction right now – they are rich, ambitious and have signed the most wanted manager in Europe. If you miss 12 or so European Cup games as a result, well how much does that really matter? They can still pay you a lot of money. Also, it might be in the clubs interest. Maybe a part of why Liverpool were so close, and maybe why Leicester are with so few players, is that they don’t have to play two games a week, every damned week. Plus domestic cups. Would Kompany be injured so much if given time off between games, the extra coaching time might have what effect on the rest of the team ? You could say that City need 150-200m of new players. Maybe you could split that in half this way – go and sign 2 centre backs and sell off one or two of the ones you’ve got. Pick up a centre mid. Drop Toure off somewhere. Overall, probably close to salary neutral. Cash impacts tbc. More access to the players during the week, less travel, more recovery time, less need to make an impact on every competition in the first season. Then after a strong first season domestically, you’ve got Champions League to look forward too and a sack of cash to spend in it.

As it’s sunny I am aware I may be being a complete numpty optimist here. Mind you, I also think that Utd getting into Champions League might mean more LVG. And if that doesn’t make City fans happy. Well…
Matt (ignoring Spurs ability to play well in Europe and almost win the league completely) Hanchett
PS: ‘Hoolie karaoke’ shall henceforth be my term for all off-field sport-related violence.


…Oh, just read the Big Weekend section.

What you said.



If Van Gaal is there in June, I won’t renew…
United fans keep writing in about Van Gaal making it past June somehow.

Well just in case anybody at the club reads this, if he makes it to June it will be one of the biggest errors ever as season ticket deadline is the 1st June and if he’s not gone by then I know I and quite a few others I’ve spoken to won’t be renewing.

Honestly this doesn’t really have a lot to do with results though they obviously don’t help but more the mind numbing tedium that is now a trip to Old Trafford, I have never watched such consistently boring football played week after week and I simply don’t want to pay money to watch another year of it.

The one hope I have is that the date for renewal was originally around the 21st May and I’m just hoping they’ve moved it forward a little to give them time to sack Van Gaal after the FA Cup final and so there is time left for fans to still renew.

I don’t even really care who takes over just as long as it’s not more of the same tedium.
Leon (MUFC)


If you could pick one Premier League player…
Now that the league is pretty much wrapped up, apart from the fourth-place trophy that is, it’s time to turn our attention to the important matter of transfers. I rather enjoyed your piece on five Premier League players Liverpool could buy, and I hope you will do the same for the other teams. However, it was all a bit too realistic and a little dull. That got me thinking, if you could pick one Premier League player for your team, forgetting about realism and money, who would it be? I have had a go for some of the top Premier League teams (and for a bit of variety I picked a different player for each of them).

Leicester, Sergio Aguero. The big question now Leicester have won the league is where do they go from here? To avoid being labelled as one-season wonders they need to make a big statement, they need to sign a world-class player, and who better than Aguero?

Spurs, Anthony Martial. Spurs have needed some support up front for Harry Kane for a while now. They are reportedly still in for Saido Berahino, but why not go for a serious upgrade? I am not quite sure how you fit Kane, Martial, Eriksen and Alli in one team, but with that much talent you would have to make it work.

Arsenal, Romelu Lukaku. Oliver Giroud just isn’t good enough, no one is debating that. You could make a case that Aguero would be a better fit for Arsenal’s style, but the point is that Arsenal already have enough players with the same style and need a bit of variety. Besides, the potential for injuries of Aguero at Arsenal is simply unthinkable. An opinion on this site suggested that Arsenal would have won the league if they had signed Lukaku in January, I am not sure it is that clear-cut, but adding the pace and power of Lukaku to Arsenal would be pretty interesting.

Man City, N’golo Kante. City have a wealth of talent going forward, but could pretty much strengthen any of the defensive positions. Centre midfield seems to be as pressing as anywhere, Toure is almost certainly on his way out and pretty much every other centre midfielder signed by City in the last five years could be described as “meh”. Adding the talent of Kante is almost a no-brainer, and having a player like him in front of them might help all those expensively signed centre-backs settle down and look like the players they were before they arrived in Manchester.

Man U, Riyad Mahrez – Remember when Manchester United was synonymous with attacking wing play? This season on the right they have used Jesse Lingard, who has the attitude and work rate but probably lacks the necessary talent at the highest level, Memphis Depay who you could say the opposite about, Juan Mata who has the skill but lacks the pace, and Ashley Young who is Ashley Young. Adding the pace and skill of Mahrez could re-invigorate United’s attack at a stroke.

West Ham, Harry Kane. I have a pretty big soft spot for Andy Carroll, but even without his injury problems, he probably doesn’t have the quality you need to lead a push into the Champions League places. Harry Kane almost certainly has.

Southampton, Delle Alli. Steven Davis is a solid enough player, but lacks the spark to player as an attacking midfielder. The drive and class of Delle Alli could turn Southampton from a decent top-half side and into contenders.

Liverpool, David De Gea. Everyone can see Liverpool need a new goalkeeper. David De Gea, is the best in the league and possibly in the world. He has also been pretty much been man of the match in every league game between Liverpool and Unted for the last two seasons. And can you imagine the outrage?

Chelsea – Toby Alderweireld. Chelsea’s season has been so bad you could strengthen pretty much any position. With John Terry seemingly on his way, and Kurt Zouma recovering from a serious injury, Chelsea need a long-term solution at centre back. Papa Djilobodji almost certainly isn’t the answer. Alderweireld might well be.

Any other suggestions?
Matt Lancaster


United need to target B+ players
The reality is despite being ‘the biggest club in the world’ in terms of brand/revenue etc. MUFC cannot and will not attract the best of the best players so unfortunately we need to go for the B+ grade players. These players would be classified as ‘solid squad players’ for any other major team in Europe.

As touched upon by my fellow mailers, we are not going to get Varane or Kroos or any other player of that ilk so I would recommend that we sign the following players:

(CB) Stones/Laporte – An English centre-back who will be sold for around £35+ million – step in United who will be more than happy to pay the inflated price – expect this to happen on the last day of the transfer window.

(ACM) Barkley/Koke/Reus/Draxler – Everton won’t sell us two key players in the same season so unless a miracle happens, I would spunk out £60million on either of the last three. It would fill that void in me that is crying out for some flair.

(D/CM) William Carvalho/Marek Hamsik (seriously, why has nobody gambled on this man? He looks mean as hell and looks like he could be Kevin De Bruyne’s dad and boss the game for 90 mins.

(LM) Gaitan – this is not a joke. Perhaps we should actually sign him this season. He can’t be any worse than Lingard/Memphis

(ST) Ibrahimovic – The marquee signing that we need although he is not my ideal candidate but it’s very plausible. We won’t be in the Champions League and we still need to sell shirts and generate some interest/spark in the team. Two years max before Rashford and Martial take over permanently.

The above named players are perhaps as realistic as our Summer targets can be with a couple reaching the upper limit of who we can actually sign and hope for given the situation we are in.

Over to you Ed.


A replacement?
I see the Evening Standard have it that Arsenal are considering Higuain as a ‘replacement’ for Danny Welbeck.

I wonder if the other half would sanction my purchase of an RS6 as a replacement for our trusty Passat on that basis.


What about the Saints?
Yeah, yeah I know. A fan whining about his team being ignored. It’s nothing new but, still, I am surprised to see Saints left out of the Big Weekend. I’ll explain why they should have been included while helping you out with your end of season Winners and Losers column as regardless of how the season now ends, today confirms that the Saints are nothing but winners this year and why you should watch out for us next year.

Worst-case scenario after Sunday’s games; Southampton will finish the season a maximum of eight points off of the final Champions League spot. The lowest they can finish is eighth place, while equalling their highest-ever points tally in the Premier League era.

Best case scenario; there is a very real possibility (if those buggers down the road do us a favour and put Van Gaal to the sword) that we could finish fifth this year. If Utd lose, West Ham draw or lose and we win against Palace then we will finish in fifth place, with as few as three points between us and City in fourth.

The stories and plaudits will go to Leicester and to a lesser extent, Spurs and Liverpool if they win the EL, and rightfully so, but Sky Sports and the Beeb are discussing next year’s contenders, including the top eight plus Chelsea but missing West Ham and Saints. I know this time last year it would seem crazy for me to complain about our exclusion in lists such as those, but thanks to Leicester’s achievements (we’ll hear a lot of that for the next few years) nobody should be writing us off.

Today Fraser Forster has signed a new five-year deal. Last week Virgil Van Dijk signed a new six-year deal. Let’s be clear about this; this is HUGE for us. These two players have been among the top performers in their positions in the Premier League this season, and it really wouldn’t be far fetched to say that if FF hadn’t been injured for so long there is a very real chance we could have finished in the Champions League spots. By confirming that arguably our two best players have committed for at least the next season rules out the possibility of another summer exodus that rips out the spine of the team. Pelle could go and we’d still have Long, Rodriguez and Austin, with a replacement for Pelle likely to come in also. We could lose Wanyama and we could still have Clasie, Romeu, Reed, Davis and a replacement. We probably need another wide attacking player anyway so if Mane went we’d need a couple, but we have Tadic and replacing outgoing stars has not exactly been a problem for us in recent years, has it?

If Saints start next season with the current squad fully fit and intact, it can finish in the Champions League places, especially if the big boys’ struggles continue. If the trend of the last two seasons continues, however, we will start the season with a stronger one than the year before, and will again continue to defy the doubters and give regular whoopings to those faltering big clubs.

I know it’s easy to get carried away when you love your club, but I reckon Saints can do something big next year. Keeping Koeman is a must (though he’s repeatedly insisted he will see out his contract, and it’s hard to argue that Everton are a step up right now) and if we do, watch out.
Lee, Southampton


…So, the Koeman to Everton rumours are starting. The Liverpool Echo state that he’s ‘interested’. Personally I think it will be De Boer in the end. I certainly hope so.

This rumour could though be good for us. It is clear that whilst Koeman supports ‘The Southampton Way’ he is slightly frustrated by a lack of ambition. 15th highest wage bill in the Premier league is admirable, however, we’ll only push for Champions League if more is invested in this area. Leicester have bucked the trend on this one but 99% of the time wages = success. He will only sign a contract extension if Les Reed demonstrates that this ambition will be in place. If we don’t promise him this, Everton will. Even if Everton don’t move for him I’m hoping that the speculation will accelerate the conversations that have been promised after the season has ended.

The excellent Virgil Van Dijk has just signed a six-year deal. I’m hoping that this signifies an era of ambition as he fully deserves to be the squad’s highest-paid player. Mane and Wanyama will probably move on (good players, questionable attitude) but we’ll keep the majority of our best this season. The biggest step is to then sign Ron up and invest in 2/3 quality players that will push up another step.

So come on Everton, flirt with him but in the end, don’t ask him to come home with you.
Jon, Southampton


Why not Koeman for Man United?
Having seen Koeman linked with the Everton job this morning it got me questioning why he hasn’t been linked more aggressively with Man United. I know he’s in the mix but the odds seem quite punchy to me. He has the right-sized ego, has proved himself a shrewd and effective tactician, and has a mid-table team punching above its league able to beat ‘top four’ on a given day. He is also clearly gagging for a move. Given what Poch has done at Spurs, why the f**k not, especially when given the alternatives?

Mourinho offers one-dimensional football and would destroy the one silver lining (youth) of United’s season. Is Blanc actually any good? Probably, in fairness, but it’s tough to properly assess his accomplishments at PSG when the league is a walk in the park and his players have no significant elite competition to prepare them for the CL. Either way, it would be a risky move given the post-Fergie fiascos. Giggs? Please!

I am a neutral in this, and will probably get quickly shot down, but Koeman seems more sensible than the usual suspects.
Adriano, Dublin


Flores sacking is a farce
Seeing this morning that Watford have pretty much sacked Quique Flores it asks the question ‘Is football far to trigger happy with sacking managers?’ And should something be brought in to stop it, Watford never flirted with relegation and finished comfortably mid table and got to a FA Cup Semi final, yet clearly it wasn’t enough, I feel sorry for him and the Watford fans with how their owners act.
Mikeyy Clewer, CFC


What does experience mean?
I was listening to 5 live last night and Chris Waddle was firmly advocating that Rooney be in the England starting line-up at the Euros because ‘he has experience’?

What does this mean? Experience of being crap at major tournaments? A quick scan of the number of caps and of the England player in the squad Hart, Cahill, Smalling, Jagielka, Milner and Welbeck all have over 25 caps. Is this ‘enough’ experience? Is it vital to have Rooney because he has over 100 caps? I am mystified by this PFM mantra about ‘experience’. There is the whole debate about form being temporary and class permanent but will Rooney be keeping a player out the side who is actually on form?

Be interested to hear others thoughts about this matter, I guess I am probably just getting wound up by more PFM idiocy.
Jim G (feeling unusual that England will be my second team this time round, come on Wales!)


A little more World Cup 94
If we’re still doing 1994 World Cup memories, here are my two favorites:

While the first round USA-Switzerland match was happening, going with my wife of two months and her eight-year-old son to the nearby lake to go swimming. I was absolutely petrified that someone would tell me the score of the game, and spent most of the time hiding behind trees. Amazingly, I managed to get away unscathed. Even more amazingly, we’re still married.

While coming back from a business trip, sitting in an airport bar in Chicago drinking ginger ale after ginger ale so I could watch the whole Germany-Bulgaria quarterfinal from a good seat. A classic race between the referee’s final whistle and my bladder, and I heroically held out. And Letchkov’s winner is still my favorite moment of the tournament.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


That injury? Snap
F365’s welcome guest. I got the same scars as you bruh! Though no ass to face happened during my injury. Tough times.
Ian Garner


Degsy reminds me of TGIF
Interesting random mail there from Eoin, Vancouver (Two lunchtime mailboxes, one dreadful lunchbox)

It’s quite different experience. But last time around, when I read Cheeky Punt article by Degsy, I had a bloody good laugh and made me feel ‘Thank God It’s Friday’!!!

But now Degsy’s article come up twice every week…I kinda lose the sense whether it’s Friday or not. Please don’t change.
Vincentius, Cambridge


You get our respect
Not sure whether I should be included in the Big Weekend article, but I’m top of the F365 Fantasy Premier League table (The Conor Byrne Memorial Cup) with my team ‘Football Team’. I’m 27 points ahead of second place Ctrl Alt De Laet currently and if I maintain this gap we’ll win the league.

I assume there’s a huge cash prize or a series of articles glorifying my rags to riches rise to the top coming from you if I pull it off?
Oli, Football Team (I put my success down to rewarding myself with pizza)


It could always be worse
Amongst all the loose ends being tied up over the next few weeks, spare a thought for fans of Spanish side FC Palencia who unveiled their new kit for next season.

FC Palencia

Words just can’t describe the horror.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool

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