Mails: LVG to Arsenal; ‘abysmal’ Smalling

Date published: Friday 18th March 2016 3:00

Louis van Gaal Arsene Wenger

Mail theeditor@football365.com if you want a Sunday Mailbox. Or if you’re very lonely.

 

Dortmund? Oh f***
Anyone but Dortmund, anyone but Dortmund, anyone but… oh bollocks.
Paul M, LFC

 

the three stages every Liverpool fan will come to know very well.

before the draw? anyone but Dortmund.

straight after the draw? may as well play them now. good test for the lads.

April 14? anyone but Dortmund.
Lloyd Stiles, still annoyed we didn’t even try, THFC, Vienna.

 

“Please don’t draw Dortmund”
Thanks. For. That.

Regards
Rikki Belsham

 

F*CK!

Well, getting to the quarters was fun!

I am hoping for 9 misfortunes to befall Dortmund players similar to the ones that Mr Burns’ softball players did… Seeing Marco Reus struggle with invisible sideburns will be interesting but Paul Scholes moaning about it would not be…
Jon Andrews, LFC

 

After trashing Europa League since August I gladly eat humble pie. When the competition is throwing up Liverpool vs United and Liverpool vs BVB who needs the Champions League?

In reaction to the draw Sky wrote this “It’s the draw he didn’t want, but Jurgen Klopp will be going back to Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. Tough draw for Liverpool judging by the way Dortmund dealt with Tottenham in the last 16…”

My reaction, Tough draw for Liverpool? It was only Spurs they beat.
Brian (Appalled by the lack of leadership from UEFA not to condemn both Liverpool and United supporters for horrible chants) LFC

 

I guess those Reus/Hummels/Gündoğan to Liverpool rumours were more accurate than we all realised.
James Tong, GFC, Brighton

 

Dortmund are bloody lovely
In amongst all the Liverpool/United vitriol, a word on Borussia Dortmund.

From the stadium, to the football they play, to their incredible fans, Dortmund are an absolute class act.

At the beginning of the game last night (a dead rubber for which I had tickets), their fans unfurled a banner reading “European Super League, Shut The Fuck Up.”

That won applause from those of us who saw it, while they later applauded in return when we exploited a rare break in their semi-constant singing, jumping and drumming to sing for our team in defeat.

The most impressive thing about them though is the football. Aubameyang reminds me of Thierry Henry in his pomp, only quicker. Reus absolutely bossed the game from midfield. The defence was nigh-on impenetrable.

When they press, they don’t do so individually, they do so as a tight-knit unit. Everyone knows their job and does it to near perfection. If they were in the Premier League, they’d be 10 points clear.

From a Spurs point of view, there aren’t too many positives to take out of that, except for another oustanding performance from Toby Aldeweireld. That moment where he followed up two awesome tackes with a beautiful 360 to beat his man…look for it on Twitter and be amazed.

I suppose there is also some consolation in the fact that we didn’t get totally hammered.

But the main thing I’ll take away from that game is that Dortmund are going to be a hell of a handful in the Champions League next season.

I lived in Germany for a year but never really found my team. Bayern are the arrogant pr*cks everyone loves to hate. I went to see Leverkusen once (they had Ze Roberto at the time, which was cool) but it’s hard to get excited about a team from a town as dreary as Leverkusen.

Dortmund though…you just have to love them.
Rob Davies, THFC (Son’s impression of a newborn foal finding its feet is starting to get tiresome)

 

Studge: The would-be best striker in Europe
Selling Sturridge for the reason listed is absolute madness. That has to be the flimsiest reasoning yet I’ve heard. Besides, can anyone come up with a feasible replacement for him? I can see the logic in flogging him because of his injury record but were he to play every game he would comfortably be one of the best out and out strikers in England, if not Europe.

In an injury hit four years he’s scored 46 goals and 11 assists in 76 games for us. You don’t get rid of a player like that simply because he’s tried a couple too many speculative shots.

Everyone saw his role as provider and scorer in 13-14.

Im absolutely fine with someone of his quality being selfish and and making himself the main man. He’s got better finishing ability than anyone in the side bar Firmino anyway. Go for it Daniel.
Theo, LFC, Liverpool

 

I cannot disagree strongly enough with Martin Jacksons mail this morning about selling Sturridge. It would be madness to do so.

If Sturridge stays fit, he is Liverpool’s best player, and makes everyone around him play better. He is the only player Liverpool has that has that effect on others.

If he doesn’t stay fit, he won’t be worth any material amount of money, and it would be no benefit to sell him. It would instead make more sense to avoid relying on him + to view his availability as a bonus. Taking a 15m offer from West Ham or something would only make Liverpool worse.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

 

Smalling = frankly abysmal
Having been to the game, listened to the abysmal Talk Sport Sports Bar (if you haven’t heard it….don’t!!) on the way home and now read the Mailbox I think we need to talk about the ‘Elephant in the Room’ ….. well stood at the heart of Utd’s defence to be more accurate….. MR C Smalling.

Whilst Blind gets (rightly in most cases) slaughtered by Utd fans for playing in arguably his weakest position ‘English Chris’ just evades criticism week after week. As a footballer he is frankly abysmal. Bear with me on this. As a defender when asked to get a foot in, track a man…. basically not think he is a solid 7/10, no more no less. However he is playing at the heart of a team set up to allegedly play ‘football’ and he still can’t pass the ball any further than 5 yards without the receiving player having to stop or adjust. When the receiving player is Carrick (well the modern old version), Schweinsteiger (see Carrick) or Fellaini (never had, never will have it) then this just invites opponents to press and win ball back exposing Blind and either full back who may have broken ranks and ventured forward. Countless times last night he had the ball in yards of space and you could see the panic set in and it would either go back to De Gea, rushed out to Varela or aimlessly hit towards Rashford and out for a throw

Maybe I watch a different Smalling to everyone else but comparisons to Rio are so far wide of the mark Memphis would struggle to hit them with a shot. It’s no coincidence the ‘World Class’ talk came during the period when Utd spent most games under the cosh and he was in his element. Any decent manager (I think even Wenger spotted it this season) would just tell his players to let him have the ball and wait for the mistake.

Aside from that the games went as expected. Utd gave hope, Liverpool got the inevitable away goal and that was that. Fellaini was better but the bar was very low. Rashford played well considering his inexperience, Martial continues to perform beyond his years and I think De Gea has been covered elsewhere for the last 3 seasons.

And don’t get me started on the Giggs as next manager talk as he is guilty by association to Moyes and now LVG !
Disillusioned Red (It won’t get printed but it’s been good therapy)

 

Give him the Gig(gs)
At around 85 minutes of last nights game I commented that Giggs was making sure that tomorrow’s press is all about him showing the requisite passion to manage Utd by standing alone on the touchline shouting for more effort from the team in the last minutes of a game they were always losing.

Performance levels and tactics over the two legs nothing to do with him of course.

This caused some annoyance with a Utd supporting mate – apparently I’m not meant to comment on Utd – but could it have been more blatant?

Cue the first ‘5 things we learned’ article I see (The Daily Mail of course) and Dominic King is espousing ‘Manager waiting in the wings’ as Giggs ‘looked every inch the manager in waiting’ mainly due to the fact that he stood pointing and shouting while Van Gaal sat with a clipboard.

The genius tactics Giggs was getting across? That Varela should be pushing further up – cue Coutinho having a tonne of space to run into for the equalising goal.

God, I hope Utd appoint him over Mourinho or a thousand other better qualified managers.

Regards,
Lindsay, Dublin.

 

Are United the new Liverpool?
So has it finally occurred

Are ManUtd the New Liverpool?
Al LFC Happy enough but clearly worried about getting Tottenhamed by Dortmund.

 

I’m done. Finished
I nearly wrote in last week to taunt the Arsenal fans and tell them to make the mailbox a good one after they out peaked themselves.

However, as a United fan, I felt a sense of humility was in order. After last night, never has a truer thought been more appropriate.

I’m now done for the season. Maybe longer. Why – because
a) There is literally nothing left to say, mock or get angry about. I cannot put any more emotion or effort into it. I mean – what does a man have to do to get the sack these days?!?!
b) Because we could effectively become the new Arsenal.

With a board who have failed with the last 2 managers (#epic levels of failure), they may just appoint another beige, tactically inept, yes man. They may seek financial stability over taking a risk and before you know it, 4th place and the FA Cup is not just associated with Arsenal, but also the Red side of Manchester. You’re probably thinking ‘That’ll never happen’. But it did to ‘The Invincibles’. Wings were clipped, ambitions doused and years of moaning/nearly winning things followed.

The TV is going off, I’ve deactivated facebook (The Liverpool fans are being mean), I’m just going to ask a mate to let me know the sweet news of Leicester (because it’s the fairy tale one) or Tottingham Hotspurts (because I want Jack Wilshere to eat some humble pie one) winning the league. I cannot risk any further news, gossip, humiliation or Paul Scholes being a miserable moaning goat.

Regards,
Anthony (What else can I do during the summer), Coventry (which is also depressing)

 

United 2016/17
In an attempt to garner a faint whiff of the kind of positivity Liverpool fans are rightly feeling towards their improving team right now, I thought I’d envisage a best-case scenario for Manchester United when August rolls around. Given how many other teams’ seasons are effectively over I’m sure I can’t be the only one.

Manager. Someone competent would be nice. So not Giggs, and obviously not LvG. I have my issues with Mourinho, but if he’s willing to jump aboard our particular sinking ship then we really aren’t in a position to turn our nose up at him. His presence and relationship with Mendes would also help attract players who would otherwise laugh in Ed Woodward’s middle-aged-baby face.

Keeper. I don’t think a United fan exists who would blame De Gea for extricating himself from this omni-shambles in the summer, he deserves better. Whoever we get in to replace him won’t be anywhere near as good. Sad.

Defence. Luke Shaw returns to fitness at the exact same level he began this year, ably supporting by CBJ and his baby T-Rex impression. Darmian and Varela fighting it out for the RB slot is a bit average but I like them both and that is rapidly becoming my most important criteria when assessing who I want to watch next season. We sign a decent centre half (who can pass) to partner Smalling (who really can’t). Rojo stops getting stupidly injured and offers cover along with Fosu-Mensah. Valencia and Jones are jettisoned into space.

Midfield. The new manager consistently starts Schneiderlin, Herrera and Schweinsteiger in midfield. Mata is sold to a local U14’s team where his physical capabilities and blog-writing find their natural home. Carrick’s contract is allowed to expire and he leaves the club, presumably at a snail’s pace whilst looking over his shoulder to see if there is anyone behind him he can pass to (cheap gag but he has been bobbins this year). Daley Blind can revert to being slow but elegant and handsome in midfield instead of centre half when necessary. Fellaini is sealed behind some ‘break in case of emergency’ glass, including a warning sticker about fines for misuse.

Attack. Rooney takes his brand to China where he swiftly balloons to Ronaldo proportions but with no tangible effect on his game. We sign Ibrahimovic (only happens with Jose in charge) to mentor/protect Martial/Rashford. Lingard continues to endear with his averageness ably covered by Willian levels of endeavour, whilst Memphis, Januzaj and Pereira actually get game time.

Weirdly this scenario doesn’t require as much surgery as I was expecting. A replacement GK, decent CB and Ibra. I’m convinced we have good players who are just being poorly-led currently. I just want to look forward to watching my team play again.

This mail probably won’t make the cut as it’s self-indulgent and as much as I love how United-heavy the mailbox can be at times, I understand other readers must get bored of it. Especially when we’re just being dour rather than hilariously inept. But if it does, I’d like to hear others’ hopes and dreams for their clubs over the summer.
Adam, MUFC (I’ve taken a leaf out of LvG’s book and forgotten Ashley Young even exists)

 

40 years on, and finally…
So I am the archetypal plastic fan – an 11-year-old out-of-towner with little connection to Manchester, lured by the glamour and success of the country’s most popular team at the time, the then European Champions. The year was 1968. Since then it’s fair to say that I’ve experienced my fair share of good times and bad. Throughout it all, I’ve always been there to the bitter end of each game I’ve attended, to cheer the shirts off, politely applaud them, or quietly glower at them depending on the outcome. That was until last night, and I finally did it. I left 10 minutes before the end.

I left not because I couldn’t face being put out of Europe’s booby prize by our historically biggest rivals, and not because we were being put out by a team only marginally less crappy than my own, not even because the players were inept and clueless (I’ve seen plenty of those in my time). What this particular shower of sh*te on the pitch and particularly in the dugout have managed to do is take away my belief. In times past I would always believe that SOMETHING might happen. Blind optimism that the individuals on the pitch shared my passion, and even if we went on to lose, something unexpected and magical might just occur before then.

The exodus was so great last night that I still ended up stuck in traffic. So, while I was in the snaking queue of cars, looking back at Old Trafford magnificently bathed in light, just as I was at the point of becoming maudlin about the whole sorry shambles that United are, and remembering the great times I’ve had at OT down the years, I remembered. I remembered that we the fans are what make a club, and no matter what, they can’t take that away from us.

So Louis, you can f*ck right off and shove your antiquated philosophy where the sun don’t shine, because when you are just another fading memory, I’ll still be at Old Trafford, and you won’t be. You and your hand-picked preening, overpaid posers may well be wondering how to spend your millions of pounds while I will no doubt be sat freezing my a*se off on my expensive piece of plastic in the North Stand. But I’ll still be there, and you won’t.
ET King (MUFC)

 

Who’s the bigger fool?
Who’s the bigger fool – Wenger for not signing Schneiderlin or van Gaal for signing Schneiderlin and not playing him?
Conor Malone, Donegal.

 

Fellaini
So, over two matches Fellaini has been filmed deliberately elbowing three of our players and stamping on someone.

It’s not as if he was just psyched up either, he does it every week to every team.

What the hell does this guy have on the FA and UEFA? Pictures of them orally pleasuring goats?

He’s a disgrace.
Luke, Red in Sussex

 

Spurs played too, guys
Just browsed the mailbox, and thought I’d mention there was a match at White Hart Lane last night.

No complaints about the result, Dortmund are a really enjoyable side to watch, apart from a little bit of exaggeration when brushed by ‘aggressive?’ Spurs players.
We didn’t go for it last week, and we rested guys last night, so no arguments about the result. To be honest, I’m not sure how much difference it would have made anyway, as they are a superb football team.

In a season where we have been very exciting domestically, it was like a jolt of reality, and a reminder of the days when we got beaten like that domestically. So it was a reminder of our progress this season to take the edge off the disappointment, but a warning of the step up required when/if we are in the CL next season.

The Dortmund fans were impressively noisy, but are they all actually watching the match? With big flags and drummers etc, hard to see how they can really be fully focussed on the action. Nice to have them visit, but I don’t think I could take all that drumming week after week.

The consensus around me last night was, whilst the title would be brilliant, so long as no one other than Leicester are ahead of us at the end of the season, Pochettino will have exceeded expectations this season. COYS
Jim French, Spurs since ’59, Herts

 

Be careful what you wish for?
Couldn’t agree more on the ‘be careful what you wish for’ rhetoric aimed at Arsenal fans.

You simply can’t compare United with Arsenal.

United were looking for a successor to a man that won trophies season after season.

Arsenal will be looking for a successor to a man that has won two cups in a decade.

Who really thinks there isn’t anyone out there prepared to take £8m a season to better that?

And for all those that point to Wenger’s record in qualifying for the champions league – I would much rather have had Liverpool’s one night in Istanbul over Wenger’s ‘we’re just happy to be here’ “success” any day of the week.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

To all the ManYoo fans moaning about LVG subs, I’ll just say “Be careful what you wish for”. Imagine facing the best team in Europe, being a goal down and then deciding to help that said team kill off the tie by throwing on a busted crock, who gifts the oppo a pen within less than a minute?

As you all said when Fergie was winning the lot and we moaned about Wenger, “Be careful what you wish for”. (LOL)
Stewie Griffin (funny those Pool fans chatting sh*te now didn’t seem to care about being careful what they wished for with Brent eh? Didn’t he almost win the league?)

 

Van Gaal to Arsenal?
Last week(sih) I explained how I’d like Pellegrini to manage my beloved AFC.

I rescind that comment.

Let me just state, I have always hated United and anyone remotely associated with them. Even when Kagawa (my previous favourite footballer) played for them I disliked him.

But I feel sorry for LVG.

He’s a giant of the game, admittedly a fading, aging giant but a giant nonetheless. His stats are as good as anyones.

So, I have a solution.

Let Giggs take Manure. Or whoever fancies it.

LVG – come to Arsenal.

We dont need an attacking manager with floaty formations and ‘feelings’. We need a mad old bastard who will stop us conceding goals and kick us in the balls when we are caught taking selfies.

Let Wenger walk backwards into the ocean like the Hulk and LVG come to the Emirates. He’d have the attacking players he craves at his disposal leaving him free to sure up the back 4.

Genius.
Stu (LVG2AFC4EVA) AFC

 

Myth-busting
Just a quick one:

Spain has three teams in the CL quarter finals and three in the Europa League quarter finals.

England has one and one.

Can we put an end to the age-old myth that there are only two good teams in La Liga and that the others are just there to make up the numbers? Even without Barca and Real, La Liga would be coeffi-sh*tting all over the Prem.

Incidentally there’s a beautiful symmetry to this: La Liga’s top three have made the CL quarters and the fourth, fifth and sixth teams have made the EL quarters.
James Bruschini (Coeffi-sh*tting? Beautiful symmetry? It must be Friday)

 

Perfect fits
After reading Stoke-Boy (MUFC)S mail and his comment about how Coutinho and DeGea will be best friends at their new club next season, it made me think . . . . DeGea is going to Barcelona?!

And this is because if Coutinho looks a perfect ‘fit’ for any club, it is Barcelona. Not Madrid. In-fact I could not even imagine Coutinho playing for Real at all. He just doesn’t . . . . Well, fit. It seems wrong imagining it.

This has me thinking, are there other players who just scream ‘insert particular club here’, and the thought of them playing elsewhere just doesn’t look, sound or feel right?
Martin, Chorley

 

Fan mail
I’m sure it’s been said before but since you ditched those joyless corporate bastards at Sky F365 has rediscovered it’s mojo. Funny, irreverent and more care-free, just like the old days.

Welcome back!
Luke, Red in Sussex

 

No room for Luis?
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to point this out but A full Arsene Wenger ‘I almost signed’ XI and Luis Suarez can’t get a look in? Surprised to say the least.
Gerry (Only about ten people in the office today and Wenger tried to sign three of them) S, Dublin

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