An excellent mailbox. Thank you. Let’s march on through to the end of the week. Mail us at email@example.com
Koeman for Man United please
A large section of United fans (including myself) don’t want Giggs at the club and another large portion don’t want Mourinho at the club either. It has been well documented the reasons why fans don’t want either so I’m not going to revisit those. I’m in the Mourinho camp if it’s a straight shoot-out between those two.
It brings me to my point – I think United should hire Ronald Koeman as the next manager. It seems our esteemed Mr. Woodward is going to wait till the end of the season to fire Van Gaal or until it’s mathematically impossible for us to get top four ala like David Moyes. We will be knocked out of the Europa League by then anyways. This paves the way to appoint Koeman at the end of the season.
Koeman has an excellent record with Southampton and at the very least the Saints have remained as impressive as they were under Pochettino if not improved considering the amount of talent they have sold (Pool fans may disagree with the talent they bought and money they spend). Also of note is the job Pochettino has done at Spurs. It seems to me Southampton is a good breeding ground for managers to gain experience in the Premier League and move onto bigger clubs.
Koeman has lost outstanding players from last season’s squad, Clyne, Alderweireld and Schneiderlin. These players have been adequately replaced by Soares, van Dijk and Clasie. They had a tough start to the season with Europa League qualifiers, were missing there first-choice goalkeeper Forster, Bertrand at left-back and both Soares and Clasie have suffered from injury and bad form. I think they also had a certain hangover from last year and the constant speculation around Mane and Wanyama is not an ideal situation.
This hasn’t deterred Koeman at all, when they got into a crisis of his own making he knuckled down and resolved their problems (not unlike Ferguson would do) by winning five of the last six matches and not conceding a goal. It is fair to say that the run they were on before that was rotten losing eight of the previous 10 matches.
I think Koeman deserves the United job. He generally plays a good brand of football, is tactically flexible and has bought players in the £10m-£15m bracket which shows he has an eye for talent and is aware of what is going in the other leagues around Europe. United use to do this very successfully and it was always a better approach than breaking the bank like they did on Veron, Berbatov and Di Maria. They need to go back to the previous philosophy and I think Koeman is the ideal candidate for that. He has won leagues with Ajax and PSV. He also won the Portuguese Super Cup with Benfica and the Copa Del Rey at Valencia. His league form with the latter two is poor though and his last season at Ajax was a shambles but his consistency with Southampton has shown that he has learned from his mistakes at these clubs.
He is young, ambitious and has tasted success both as a player and manager. He is in no way the perfect candidate but with any managerial appointment there is risk it won’t work out. I think the risk you take on Giggs’ inexperience is too much and the potential of Mourinho leaving a trail of destruction behind him is too great. I feel the quietly spoken Dutchman is the ideal candidate for United right now.
Ian, Offaly, Ireland. (Please sell Rooney to China as your first act Ronald. Long time mailbox reader, first time writer. I’m coming for your job Matt Stead)
What about Blanc?
Like many people, I have followed the LVG replacement rumours; at first with some interest, but this has gradually given way to the resignation that the rumours will continue until long after I have died. One thing has bugged me for a while, though: what about Laurent Blanc? Setting aside that I think he could walk into most Champions League clubs if PSG decide to sack him for a higher-profile manager, I’m surprised that his name hasn’t been mentioned more often.
His record is undoubtedly tainted by his spell as France manager. Personally, I view that as a result of over-reliance on under-performing players with big egos (Ribery, Benzema). They didn’t buy into his methods.
Blanc’s reputation, however, was built on being a cerebral player who could read the game and, more importantly, could lead with a calm example and unite players around him. At the World Cup in 1998, he captained a team with high-profile racial tension, under intense scrutiny and with immense expectation, and calmly led them to victory (with maybe a little bit of help from Zidane…).
I had the good fortune to live in Bordeaux during the 2008/09 season, when Blanc managed them to a championship. The football they played was sublime, with short passing, quick, clinical attacks and a stout defence. To look back makes the feat even more impressive – at the time, I was convinced that Alou Diarra was one of the best centre midfielders in the world, and that Yoan Gouffran and Marouane Chamakh would be equally brilliant in the Premiership. The best player, though, was Yoann Gourcuff. With better luck with injuries and more of a work ethic, I still think he could have reached a similar level to Messi or Ronaldo. During that year, he was totally unplayable, and not just in the French league; I recall him embarrassing John Terry with a series of keepy-uppies too. Looking at his career post-Blanc, it’s clear that Blanc took a bunch of decent players and made them a great team.
I haven’t even mentioned his record at PSG – it’s one thing to buy a lot of expensive players but another to make them win every game – or his connection to Man Utd, or the strength he’s shown with the Serge Aurier nonsense, but I feel like I’m rambling now. The question is, am I just looking at things through rose-tinted glasses? Or is he being discounted because he looks like the alpha-nerd from an 80’s US sitcom? Why isn’t he viewed as a potentially great young manager?
LVG trying to get fourth, not sacked
Is Van Gaal selecting a weak squad to deliberately get fired? Almost certainly not. As much as anything, if Van Gaal was going to be fired by Woodward before it was mathematically impossible to finish fourth, he would have been.
To slump from genuine title contenders in early December to fifth in mid-February, with losses to Bournemouth, Sunderland, Norwich et al., a group stage CL exit, turgid football, and a vibe around the club as negative as anything since the Glazer takeover, is inexcusable.
Van Gaal’s selection for this week’s Scandanavian rip-off is a calculated risk to get United fourth. Much like Klopp in the Europa League, van Gaal looks very much as though he’s prioritising the league and nicking fourth from whichever of the current top four drop off enough to be caught, and is happy to allow the kids (other than Januzaj and Pereira, who I assume he caught flirting with Mrs. Van Gaal or keying his car) to go as far as they can in Europe.
Assuming that van Gaal’s contract has the same stipulations as Moyes’ around CL qualification, he needs to qualify for the CL. If he does, even if United still fire him, his pay-off will be much larger. And since he’s only still in management to repair the damage done to pension fund by the credit crunch, van Gaal isn’t going to emperil his retirement, and the chance to build an even bigger holiday home opposite Mr. Koeman, by not finishing fourth.
How did he not know about injuries?
I just read the article about LVG suggesting it was their policy to start the season with a thin squad, and my head is about to explode. It is almost as if this mysterious status of being ‘injured’ has only just been discovered. Well Louis, this is another unforgiveable decision and I hope you are just talking nonsense to cover your (and Woodward’s) mistakes.
Taken from Sky Sports website – ‘Manchester United suffered the most injuries of any Premier League side last season, a study has revealed. Louis van Gaal’s side had a total of 39 players sidelined throughout the campaign, but the club still managed a top four finish in the Premier League’. Now if I can use a search engine to find this info in less than a minute, then why can’t any of the f*cknuts who are currently running (ruining?) the club do so?
Therefore, my memory is not erroneous and we did have a lot of injuries last season. In fact, I remember you moaning about injuries last season and I used this as an excuse to fend off the mocking hoards when turgid and frustration became the new normal. So Louis, you went into this season with a purposely thin squad to give youth a chance; forgetting the point that injuries decimated your squad last season and we were going to playing in Europe this season. Here’s a tip for you, and feel free to give me a call to discuss, injuries happen! Fill your squad with at least (at least!) two quality players for each position and then supplement this with youth and other players who can fill multiple positions.
Making mistakes is one thing, not learning from previous mistakes and then making bigger ones is another. Just be a man and admit your mistakes instead of talking b*ll*cks.
Garey Vance, MUFC
We have too much football to watch the dull stuff…
I read with interest Daniel’s article on the Champions League.
A couple of things I’d like to add, and not touching on money.
Firstly, European football used to be elusive. Hell, even our own leagues weren’t on telly much. No foreign leagues were covered live and it was difficult to read about them unless you went out of your way. Therefore European clubs were an unknown, unpredictable and above all, exciting. It was your chance to watch Romario et al in action and live.
Now you can watch every European league, read about the teams, watch clips,etc…All very easily – and I think it takes away the mystery, unknown and ultimately the entertainment value.
Which leads me to the matches. Because I find European football a cagey affair featuring predictable results (in the main), for me, the neutral, it doesn’t offer much if it’s not my team. Gone are the days a neutral will support the home nation’s teams. In fact, we’d rather they lost. Schadenfreude at its best. Fans appear to support their own team and do something else less boring instead when they aren’t playing, getting results from twitter.
So where’s the appeal to pay for a subscription let alone watching matches?
I seem to recall Wigan selling out their stadium every week when they first got in the Premier League, and then crowds fell as it became “normal”.
In the thirst for more more more, we seem to have got quantity over quality. Football is entertainment, if it fails to entertain, expect audiences to drop.
Once again, greed consumes itself in it’s quest for more.
Watching Real is no fun at all
Just finished watching Real vs Roma, two giants of world football during my lifetime. Roma less so than Madrid may I add!
What to me potentially could’ve been a fantastic game, turned out in my opinion to be a bit of a bore fest… Granted there were two goals, but I always seem to be underwhelmed when watching Madrid. I’ve always preferred them to Barca, but I now find myself asking why?!
Real just don’t seem to strike me as a ‘team’ anymore, just some world-class players thrown together for a cheeky little kick around.
Watching Ramos react terribly to challenges whilst still proceeding to be a nasty sh*te for 90 minutes, followed by Ronaldo sulking and waving his arms around like a petulant child are starting to take their toll on my viewing experience. We all have favourites when it comes to clubs in foreign leagues, but due to less of an affiliation with these clubs we can change who we’d like to follow whenever we like.
I’m thinking that maybe the reason for me switching to Barca is Suarez, being a Liverpool fan and all. The football they have been playing since his arrival is unbelievable and the fact that Neymar is getting better and better adds to the entertainment.
It got me thinking, if only I could be more impulsive when it comes to switching teams domestically, because I’ll tell you now – if I could pick a club to support at the moment, it wouldn’t be Liverpool! I also should’ve watched Gent-Wolfsburg..
Rob (In love with Can and Klopp though)
Arsenal are soft so they deserve it?
Khurram Alvi – Islamabad can do one. What Arsenal fans are sick of is are teams coming up against ours and kicking us off the park without punishment. This isn’t a comment on the Leicester game, but rather a distinction that’s needed to be said for a while now. Stop assaulting our players. Rough and aggressive are fine if that aggression can be pushed ‘within the rules’ where you say every team needs to find a way to win. Diaby, Eduardo, Ramsey, Wilshere v. McNair, Sagna twice, Alexis being pushed into a pit at Norwhich, Debuchy into the ad boards a couple seasons ago. These are the things we are rightfully furious with.
Our players for years now seem much more likely to receive these outside the rules treatments, and frequently enough without cards being issued (Drinkwater). Arsenal don’t like it up them/they’re soft/obviously they don’t drink enough milk at London-Colney, or their bones wouldn’t be so brittle and un-Englishly weak. Eat me. There have been Arsenal sides over the last decade that needed greater toughness, there’s a look at ourselves for you, but the rest of the kicking, leaving a foot in, or leg-breaking tackles, those are certainly not within the rules. Once, twice does not a pattern make, but the volume of broken limbs Arsenal have suffered in the last decade are a bit suspect. But maybe you’re right, it’s all BS our players need more calcium and to man up.
Nick, AFC, Washington, DC
Why do we laud rough-housing?
I know there is huge will to move on from the Arsenal v Leicester musings in the mailbox, so I’ll take it forward to a more broad subject that must annoy every Arsenal fan not just me. Can we please put to bed the nauseating notion that Arsenal fans, manager and players whine about not being allowed to play nice fancy tippy-tappy football and that all we want in the world is teams to idly stand aside whilst Arsenal weave pretty patterns around their statuesque figures and walk the ball in to the net and win the game.
Arsenal fans generally (there’s always the stupid minority) don’t care what tactics or formation the opposition play they only moan when those tactics are not within the rules of the game. Now clearly this is up to the ref to determine what is and what isn’t in his eyes deemed as in the rules of the game but I’m pretty sure that knee-high tackles, diving, time-wasting and rotational fouling should be frowned upon by most refs.
This isn’t to say Arsenal players themselves haven’t been immune to any of these things but generally we get annoyed when it is clear the opposition have been sent out to break the rules and in our eyes the referee is not taking appropriate action. My personal view on this is far too many refs understand the rules but don’t understand the game. Therefore they appear too naive to the tricks and tactics of teams and players breaking or bending the rules
Every fan will think their team is persecuted and hard done by by refs but there is an ongoing sterotype that Arsenal ‘don’t like it up em’ and that to beat Arsenal you must ‘get in their faces’ whatever that phrase means. I would broaden this further and suggest that whilst this attitude is not only accepted but encouraged by leading coaches and pundits in this country we will forever be placing physical attributes such as tackling, running fast and hard, strength and general all round chest thumping far ahead of attributes such as technique, first touch, positioning and awareness. This all leads to mediocre but big and strong players progressing at the expense of technical players. Germany seemed to have a good balance in the last few years but they completely ripped up their national youth structure after a dismal Euro 2000 showing to get to where they are.
We love the cut and thrust of the Premier League but there are still too many PFM who are too old school and will cheer a sliding tackle that puts man and ball in to the stands but doesn’t win possession.
This has gone slightly off track from the original Arsenal chat so the point may be lost but I think I’m basically saying let’s stop encouraging and applauding rough house play that is outside the rules, refs start clamping down properly on tackles like Drinkwate’rs – and for goodness sake lets give them a helping hand with video technology.
Rich, AFC ranting since 1992 as everyone knows that’s when football started
Let’s lose the Capital One Cup
I’ve seen some articles this week about plans to scrap FA Cup replays and move the games to midweek. Firstly, I disagree, since it’s a bit unfair on the lower-league clubs who love a replay of course. But secondly it got me thinking about the cup competitions in general and wondering, why does the League Cup even exist? What is the point of it? Everyone who is in it is also in the FA Cup. No Premier League teams are even remotely bothered about it. It was introduced over 55 years ago, apparently as a source of additional revenue, but God knows the Premier League sides don’t need it for that reason anymore. It has effectively become obsolete as a top-flight competition.
A suggestion then – why not exclude Premier League teams from the League Cup? I suspect not one of them would bat an eyelid, it would save their poor tired legs a few extra games early in the season, and the loss of the negligible prize money would be irrelevant. Just make it into the ‘Football League Cup’ and have done with it.
I’ve even done the numbers to save them a bit of time (because the FA and Football League are definitely scouring the F365 mailbox for ideas). The Championship and League One teams, plus the top eight League Two sides get a bye into the second round, so only the bottom 16 of League Two play in the first round. That leaves you with 64 teams for round 2 and you’re away. Championship sides can actually compete for a meaningful trophy, aside from the endless yearly attempts to get into the Premier League, while Prem teams need not concern themselves with it one jot.
In addition, I think the stigma around playing weakened teams in the FA Cup has to end. The management team of every club should be free to field the team they see fit without backlash if they decide to field a reserve team for the away trip to Carlisle or wherever. It’s up to them. With no League Cup it would be relegated to bottom priority by default, so perhaps it would be more acceptable to use the fringe players then. If you don’t want to play any replays – then make sure your team is either strong enough to win the game the first time round, or weak enough to lose it.
Olly Cole, THFC (still can’t get my head around being in a title race)
No Rooney? An opportunity for Roy
Ok, this is a massive test of Roy Hodgson’s cojones, right here. Wayne Rooney is out for two months and there is extensive historical evidence to suggest that, even if he is passed fit for the Euros, he will not be capable of performing to anything like the level he needs to – especially not when the competition for spaces in the front three is so strong.
If I was Roy Hodgson, I’d be delighted that this has solved a minor headache – he can now select purely on form, and not worry about endless questions about ‘who will partner Rooney’ from national journalists and lazy pundits who still think we play a 4-4-2.
Roy can now play the dynamic ‘three from Sterling, Kane, Vardy, Sturridge, Welbeck and Walcott’ that we all really want to see this summer, while Wayne can have a summer off.
So, an unfit Rooney to start the first game, then, yeah?
…I had a dream last night that Rooney was injured in training and missed the Euros, resulting in Vardy and Kane being joint top scorers and us winning the competition.
Could this be the ultimate blessing in (quite shabby) disguise?
Stu (the other dream I had is less likely to come true) AFC
How will England line up at Euro 2016?
Following Roy’s recent appearance on MOTD, it got me wondering, who is going to be boarding the plane to France in search of England’s first European Championship win?
Will it be the ever-predictable selection of players that have proven themselves against the lower ranked nations, then failed to produce on the big stage? Or will it be form players from the current Premier League season?
Personally, I would love to see a mix of both. I think there is obviously the need for your ‘big-name’ players, but how many of those do England really have?
If you believe in picking the highest-rated players, courtesy of statistics from whoscored.com, you would end up with a team of Butland; Walker, Smalling, Dann, Rose; Dier; Barkley, Alli, Drinkwater; Vardy, Kane (playing a 4-1-3-2 formation in this scenario).
While you can’t pick a team based on stats, this list excludes some names that Roy wouldn’t dare leave out (fitness permitting) – Hart, Henderson, Milner, Sterling, Rooney, Welbeck, Sturridge to name a few.
I like the point raised in the mailbox a few days ago – maybe the Leicester approach should be adopted by England; pick players who suit the counter attacking game, and are suited to a team that isn’t going to have the greater share of possession against technically superior sides.
Who would you pick for England?
My team: Hart; Clyne, Smalling, Cahill, Rose; Dier; Alli, Drinkwater, Barkley; Vardy, Kane
While this team may be very similar to the stats-based XI, surely it would be competitive in the summer, and why not give these form players their shot at a major tournament! Clearly it may be a little late to try and blood players such as Rose and Drinkwater into the team, but that’s what the upcoming friendlies are for!
Matt, MCFC (trying to get away from the Arsenal-Leicester chat!) Brisbane, Aus
Blaming Mikel for PSG goal
I just read the article on ‘The folly of Mourinho exposed despite loss’, and I have to respectfully disagree with Matt Stead’s assertion, ‘But the positives from such a performance are obvious. An away goal, courtesy of John Obi Mikel – who else? An excellent defensive performance tinged with two conceded goals – one unlucky, one a result of a quality striker.’
Mikel gave away a cynical free-kick, his job then became to be the last player on the end of the wall, closest to the far post. An important position, as he’s covering the middle of the goal, from the position of free-kick taker, and the far post. Instead of doing his job, and showing some courage, he actually jumps sideways and ends up behind the wall, when he lands! It’s like he pivots on some sort of hinge, maybe Ivanovic had one attached, and swings behind the wall. This movement means he actually swings his feet towards the goal, which deflects the ball in that direction, it was almost a beautiful, well-worked, technique.
Ferdinand and Ballack commented on this, saying they’d be having words with him in the dressing room. I’m surprised Mikel, or any player for that matter, got away with that in the analysis. To me it’s a shocking disregard of duty, in any game, and in the knockout phase of the Champions League, it just compounds it further. I hope his team mates gave him a bollocking, despite scoring the equaliser, he let his team down there.
Fox Freeman (The truth is out there, except in Van Gaal’s post match press conferences)