Mails: Give Nicky Butt the Man United job

Date published: Monday 25th January 2016 3:26

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16 conclusions on United v Southampton
I sat down yesterday to have a stab at 16 conclusions of Utd vs Southampton.

This is as far as I got.

Dave. BAC


Butt of the joke
Well, it’s clear that Manchester United have a problem. Louis van Gaal has all but admitted he can’t do the job and the board don’t want Mourinho and aren’t ready to trust Ryan Giggs. Now what?

Well, if they’re really that desperate, they could do worse than handing Nicky Butt the job until the end of the season. Not because he’s a member of the Class of ’92 who isn’t yes-man Giggs, critical Scholes or El Nevillos, but because he’s actually spent the last couple of years quietly managing United’s Youth Team. In other words, he’s actually done some managing.

I’m well aware that ‘knowing the club’ or having experience with the reserves (a la Solskjaer) isn’t a guarantee to being succesful with the first team, but at least he’s got some level of experience at setting up a team.

Probably not THE answer, but one worth pondering at any rate.
Alex (Can we have Alex Neill?), Leeds.


Like buying a pack of condoms…
Having sat through the most turgid 90 minutes at Old Trafford this weekend and heard the rounds of boos during the game, surely it’s time to let LVG go.

Seems we are just putting off the inevitable now, every bad performance and/or loss will lead to the same questions of whether they should sack him or if he will walk. It’s just a matter of time now sadly.

Waiting until fourth is no longer mathematically possible is too little too late. It’s like buying a pack of condoms after you’ve got a one night stand up the duff.
SS (sorry about the metaphor)


Empathy from a Liverpool fan
I was unable to watch the Norwich Liverpool game on Saturday so my Man Utd supporting friend was overjoyed to be able to keep me updated throughout the game with “hilarious” text messages. Cue full time from the afternoon kick-offs. What is it they say about he who laughs last?

Later that evening he then made, from what I can recall in our many years of friendship, his first Man Utd related Facebook post and of course the topic was calling for the dismissal of LVG. It seems that this season has finally pushed him over the edge. Now, whilst the opportunity to twist the knife was there, I thought better of it.

As a Liverpool fan, all I can say to the Man Utd fans out there is this. Welcome to years upon years of disappointment with the occasional trophy or glimmer of hope of once again winning the title and the years of domination that will naturally follow. That sense of entitlement brought on by (nearly) always having won in the past will just make other football fans hate you all the more. You get used to it, really. I can
wholly empathise with you all now.

Chin up my friends. It is, after all, only a game and surely next year will be your year.
Ciarán (I’d hate for them to prove me right!), LFC & Mainz05, Mainz


Is Anthony Martial just Francis Jeffers?
Is Anthony martial just a modern day Francis Jeffers? Still not sure what he’s done to justify the price tag.
Will F


Arsenal thoughts
I told myself I wouldn’t read this mornings mail box, but I did. And now I have to write the ‘calm down’ response to the inevitable flailing and belly-aching

We lost because our most experienced out-fielder had a brain fart which left us with a mountain to climb. Then for the third game this season we conceded minutes into the reorganisation. We did the same against West Brom and also Norwich. I think these 3 are the only games we’ve had to sub off defenders in, each time we concede straight away. Captain’s armbands and striker substitutions are all red herring explanations in comparison. I thought we played well with ten men, vindicating the decision to take Oli G off imo.

Potential defensive injuries are what make me most pessimistic for the season. We’re getting attacking players back now, but suffer from un-fitness in the defence and we’ll have a big wobble whenever it happens.

I’m still optimistic though, because of the proportion of are remaining fixtures to be home games against dross. Makes the season exciting for me too, as I’m paying an average of £30 a go for the four remaining matches I have tickets for.

Leicester at home, Utd, West Ham, Spurs and City away are the most tricky remaining games. As long as the fitness situation doesn’t get any worse than it has so far this season I can still see us getting enough points from those to pick up the trophy. Going to be a nervous few months whatever happens though
James Gooner


Here are some of my own conclusions on yesterday’s performance;

– Why play such a high defensive line with a defender like Mertesacker who is slower than an elephant in treacle? And if you’re going to do so, don’t give their midfielders so much space to release their striker.

– Surely Elneny should be a better option in midfield than Mathieu Flamini? He might not be experienced in the EPL but he can’t be much worse than Flamini can he? And if he is, that is worrying.

– Some of the players in this first team should thank their lucky stars there is the home grown rule to abide by because they are woeful. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have been absolutely useless this season, contributing close to nothing between them.

– Out of all the players out injured, the one we are missing the most is Santi Cazorla. He has the perfect ability to release our forward line by getting on the ball and forcing himself out of tight situations in midfield. Aaron Ramsey is so inconsistent at it that it is almost criminal.

– Diego Costa is not a pantomime villain. He is an actual villain. Pantomime villains pretend to be violent while Diego Costa seems to want to hurt opposition players all the time. After failing to stamp on Ramsey and them both falling to the ground, he clearly tried to provoke the Welshman but Ramsey was having none of it.

– We are now closer to 4th place than we are to first place with 2 points out of a possible 9. With Spurs in the form they are, Arsenal should be worried. But then again, everyone saw this coming.

– If Leicester City win the league before we do, I will give up hope completely.
Malcolm, AFC


What a season! Leicester’s hitherto unfathomable position, Chelsea’s deliciously low league position, United all over the place, Alex Song’s steam punk glasses… In many ways it’s a season of unabashed excitement, especially for a selection of the traditionally “weaker” and best of the rest sides, but for what are commonly preceived as the top teams it’s been more or less a total embarrassment. In particular Arsenal and City’s respective title tilts bring to mind this classic clip from youtube:

As you may have heard, Arsenal haven’t won the league for three hundred years and I had hoped that when it did finally come it would be very different to how it may potentially arrive in May – not by being the best in the league but by effectively being the least bad. As has been mooted many times in the mailbox, Arsenal have improved only very incrementally this season so far (the signing of Cech and Ozil’s form, basically) and have benefitted greatly from the dramatic demise of their rivals. Beggars really can’t be choosers, and I’ll take the title any which way it comes in May, but I sense that if we do lift the trophy it’ll always feel slightly tainted; not earned but stumbled upon, not achieved but in some ways gifted… at the moment at least.

There is cause for optimism however, not only in Arsenal’s title chances but also in them becoming worthy winners, but it’s going to take an imperious run of form (also a win in March against them down the road wouldn’t go amiss either). We have important players coming back at a really key time – Sanchez yesterday looked like he’d never been away, Coquelin is reportedly back in training, Welbeck back soon (maybe?!) to continue running around a lot, and Wilshere back in a month or so before his inevitable return to his natural habitat – the physio room. It bodes well, mostly, and although I’m biased, I think the stats show we’ve coped relatively well without them. If Ozil can maintain his recent form (Chelsea game aside) with Sanchez in the team and Oxlade-Chamberlain/Flamini nowhere near it, we’ve got a half decent chance I reckon.

I’m still optimistic. I’m still hopeful. I’m going to be let down very, very badly aren’t I? ‘Twas ever thus.
Michael, AFC, Crawley


That captaincy lark yesterday was very disrespectful to Chelsea, the League and to Mertesacker.

Who in their right mind looks at that game and smiles thinking ‘I will give it to Theo for the ten years service he has given us…’

I can just imagine the dialogue in the Chelsea changing room. Can’t recall a club ever doing that against us, or if they did it bloody worked.

For all the criticism of Mertesacker, one poor tackle doesn’t make him sh*t– in recent weeks he has been worthy of his potision and captaincy.

On Theo, he had one chance to run through the middle of the chelsea backline on the half way line just a few moments before the sending off….that was the chance to get Terry booked at the very least. Instead he stopped and passed it backwards. So given the opportunity to use his one strength (Speed) he didn’t fancy it.

Yesterday is all on Wenger.
Thom, Newport.


Ozil = bottler
I can only assume the lack of mails this morning aimed at the amazing ability of Ozil to completely disappear is because the Arsenal fans haven’t realised he was actually on the pitch.
Andy (When will people from Dublin do what the rest of us want and f**k off) Bull


Leave Per alone
Kind of expected the mailbox this morning to be choc-full of Arsenal fans dutifully assigning blame to players. So far this morning I’ve seen Walcott, Chamberlain, Ramsey, Wenger, the coaching staff, Koscielny, Flamini and even, in a twisted jump of logic, Arteta receiving a small slice of blame, but the one I expected the most, and the one I want to defend the most, is the blaming of Per Mertersacker by Shaz N19.

Shaz comes out with the ultimate straw man when s/he confidently declares – basically – he’s too slow and I knew this all along. Well DUH, Shaz. Mertersacker is slow. We all know this. Arsenal know this, the fans know this, the opposition knows this, pretty much anyone in the world with even a passing knowledge of the Premier League will tell you that Per Mertersacker is slow. His lack of pace is every bit as exploitable as his strength in the air is not exploitable.

Every single team in the universe, including my former Swindon Sunday League Team (The Village Inn), would turn up at the Emirates and put the pacey striker up against Per Mertersacker. He’s slow you see. Play it past him and get involved in a chase for the ball. You’ll probably beat him because he’s really slow. But do you know who knows this better than anyone else? Per Mertersacker.

There’s a reason why Arsenal play Per pretty much every week and don’t concede very many goals, and they come up against pace every week, and that is because Per Mertersacker plays for us. Per Mertersacker, a player who realises that he’s so damned slow that he needs to improve every other aspect of his game to compensate, be that his positioning, his reading of the game, his passing, his heading. Basically how can he the best, pace-less defender he can be?

But you know what? On Sunday he was playing against Diego Costa; not the quickest striker but certainly quicker than Per, and on top of that a very clever player who makes great runs. He’s done this pretty much all his career and signed for Chelsea for about £30m. He’s pretty good. As well as that, this Costa fellow was running on to a pass from another chap called Willian, an attacking midfielder with such appreciation of the ball he’s usurped Eden Hazard as Chelsea’s best player this season. He’s playing against two of the best players in the world, who due to a quick ball recovery and counter, had Per Mertersacker exactly where they wanted him. It’s just ruthless, cruel, brilliant football from two of the sharpest minds in the box. That’s exactly what Chelsea were planning for. That’s why Costa made the run he did and Willian made the pass he did, because Per Mertersacker is really slow and that’s what you do.

It’s almost as if pretty much every player in the universe has a weaker aspect of their game, and that the opposition tries to exploit that weakness. After weeks of defending marvellously it took two of the finest attackers in the Premier League to do him brutally for pace. In a League which is nigh-on impossible to win every game, and where everyone makes an error or is exposed at some point, you got to go with who’s going to let you down the least – and for me that’s where Per comes in.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite


Leave Souey alone
Your snarky Winners and Losers column mocked Graeme Souness for not thinking Swansea’s new manager would be any good in the Premier League. “That 29% win record at Southampton makes him an expert, you see.”

But don’t forget that after Southampton he took Blackburn Rovers to promotion, a top six finish in the Prem, and possibly the last major trophy the club will ever win.

Plus he remains my all-time favourite Rovers manager, partly because as football’s answer to Begbie you knew he could easily kick seven shades out of any opposition manager, should the urge take him.
Martin, BRFC


Ranieri’s lovely face and…
Great article today. Overall with Leicester I’m pretty happy for their success this season – Jamie Vardy aside they seem like a nice group of players and the city is actually much nicer than it gets credit for. Or maybe I’m just biased from my university days. Either way, it’s a bit refreshing.

I mainly emailed just to make a little point. Benitez copped a lot of flak for rotation over the years, but I remember seeing an article that did a bit of analysis on the amount of rotation he undertook against how much the ever-successful Mr Alex Ferguson did, following a comment from Benitez claiming old whisky rotated far more than him. It basically showed that Ferguson rotated a lot more, the difference was that he had good backups, not cack ones, something which Benitez and Ranieri did not have the benefit of.

So basically, you’re only seen as using rotation if your team are playing poorly as a result of it . The media rarely seized upon the problem being with the rotation in of bad players, but rather the system as a whole. Get results, and nobody is paying attention to your rotation policy. Similar to this is zonal marking, where every clean sheet is down to pure footballing luck but every conceded goal is the fault of the system.

What other common examples are there of miss attributed blame in football?
Theo, LFC, Liverpool


Smug’s game
Well after that Sunday, I’m feeling really rather smug right now, what with all the predictions of a thrashing at the hands of a team who hadn’t scored past us in the league in three years.

That Costa behaved himself and still riled up the Arsenal players, manager and fans was predictably delightful. Can nobody at Arsenal get Wenger a video monitor so he can see the key incidents after the game? It’s been standard practice at every other professional club for about a decade or two, and it would stop him looking such a mug every time you lose.

That the Chelsea faithful sounded like the home support (if said home support were anywhere other than the Emirates) made it even better.

Not to mention the fact that Arsenal fans STILL boo Fabregas. I know we get a lot of stick, some deserved, but Chelsea fans do not get on players’ backs, criticise the team, or boo former players.

Oh and by the way, Costa did not dive, he made the most of a comically bad challenge. There was contact, visible only from one angle due to the ball. The only decision Clattenburg got wrong was the penalty.

And Graham, with your weekly snipe at the Blues, this season may have been crap for Chelsea, but it’s been 11 years and counting for those so-called invincibles… Maybe that should be your reference point for the worst title defences.
Harry, CFC, Saaf Landan


Is Sakho the problem, not Mignolet
We Liverpool fans are a fickle bunch, particularly when it comes to our players. They’re either $hite or world beaters, sometimes both over the course of their time with us. No one shows this quite like our captain, Henderson, who went from a £16 million flop to FIFA cover star, seemingly overnight (as a side note: LFC posted a link to the poll on their website for supporters to vote, without limitation on the number of votes you could cast, so your all welcome). Another one is Sakho who initially looked like Bambi on ice but now is claimed to be amongst the best centre backs in the league. Of course the truth is he’s somewhere in between that and when I watch him play I can’t help but be reminded of Peter Crouch. He’s a gangly fella who looks uncomfortable with the ball to observers, but has pretty good technique and is always way more in control than he lets on. Also, like 2-metre Peter, for a person of his size and stature, he is useless in the air. Any balls played in over the top and he’s like a deer in the headlights. He was responsible for Norwich’s first and last goals at the weekend as he seemed to move away from the ball to let it drop. I’ve been noticing this more and more in recent weeks and because we have a punch bag in goal everyone else seems to be completely absolved of blame. If he’s afraid of the physical side of the game then I don’t think he’s of much use at centre half. Having said all that I do quite like him and he’s probably the best defender we have (in the land of the blind…) but ultimately I’m sure Norbert will realise he needs to be replaced for us to be able to defend set-pieces again. Or maybe it’s down to Mignolets inability to communicate with his centre backs and control his area adequately.

Also how did, what is quite possibly footballs greatest name, escape the morning mailbox? Tokyo Sexwale sounds like the answer to the question ‘name the first three things which pop into your head when you think of Japan?’
Eoin K, LFC.


Stones not to blame
I didn’t write in to the morning mailbox as I assumed somebody else would address the issue. In the Football365 summary of our awful performance against Swansea on Sunday, and in various other social media and news outlets across the web, many seem to blame John Stones for the penalty. However, I ask anybody to watch it again.

Most goalkeepers in that situation would create an angle by taking a few steps forward towards Stones, cutting off the striker completely, before the pass is even played. This doesn’t happen.

As a kid, I remember my coaches screaming at me “Come towards the ball”, its just a basic. Watch Howard and Howard only and you can see he takes 2 or 3 steps AWAY from the pass as its played. If Stones had hit that any harder, and Howard had done his job correctly, he’d have had little to no reaction time. Stones plays it gently, allowing a few steps from Howard to kick the ball upfield, but without inviting pressure onto himself.

Stones didn’t have a good game yesterday, I think his confidence is shot at Goodison after receiving criticism for playing the ball out. But to blame him for the penalty I think is very harsh, bordering on plainly incorrect.

As for the rest of the team, they seemed to have an eye on the City game already. Lukaku needs to throw himself at these Deulofeu crosses, and one thing Barkley desperately needs to add to his game, is the late runs into the box to feed off of these crosses, and their knock downs. It is what made the likes of Lampard, Gerrard and, closer to home, Tim Cahill, great goalscorers. Barkley has the ability to have the long range finishes of the first two, but these make up just a glorious fraction of their goals.

Coleman couldn’t finish his dinner yesterday could he?!
Liam 19 EFC Liverpool (Mirallas and Besic are big losses)


Be careful what you wish for
Everton fans should be deliriously happy.

I’ve always been sceptical when I hear fans moaning about their teams performances and bemoaning their managers lack of verve and willingness to attack and play ‘exciting’ football despite decent results. Prime culprits in the recent past have included Stoke fans (Tony Pullis), Everton fans (Davis Moyes), Spurs fans (AVB), Manchester United fans (David Moyes and LVG) and West Ham fans (Sam Allardyce) – in fact any club Big Sam has managed apart from Bolton say the same thing!

They often say “well we might be winning games but we aren’t playing the West Ham/Tottenham/Manchester United ‘way’ – we’d be much happier playing exciting football and losing 3-2 every week than watching a turgid 1-0 victory.” You hear it on the football phone-ins all the time and I’ve never really been able to disprove this theory until now. Obviously you get examples like West Ham where Bilic improves both performances AND results, so these don’t count. The guy to test the theory in it’s purest form is none other than Mr R. Martinez.

Roberto Martinez is the answer to all the prayers of these disgruntled fans, you want exciting football and don’t care about the result? Roberto is your man. So obviously Everton fans are happy as Larry? Surely being entertained week in week out, seeing attacking flair and ding-dong battles, last minute equalizers/winners, never a dull moment. Unpredictability, excitement, the highs, the lows, this is what it’s all about isn’t it? Err well apparently not if the majority of Everton fans I’ve heard making their views known are to be believed.

So if you’re a fan that believes results are less important than the performances, be careful what you wish for – because what you’re wishing for is Roberto Martinez.
Chris {posh brackets} Wolves


Weekend thoughts
– That Mahrez touch and one of the most exquisite goals I’ve ever seen from Alli in the same day made it a perfect time for my Sky+ box to decide to screw me out of MOTD. Thanks, Sky.

– As a Spurs fan, I am fairly intimate with seemingly impossible collapses and, whilst Leicester may just fall short of winning the league, I don’t think anyone could see Man United or West Ham suddenly being good/consistent enough to pull back the 10+ point gap between them. Leicester seem pretty nailed on for CL, which is remarkable enough.

– One of the highlights of our season has been the mental fortitude (also remarkable) and just how much of a team we are. No outstanding players in the sense that we rely on a certain few; everyone is chipping in at the right time. Again, a title challenge may be a step too far, but we must also have a great chance at CL football. Which would be pretty perfect timing, given the stadium development.

– Stones and Howard conspired to give away one of the most Everton-esque goals I’ve seen. As “Spursy” was once a thing, surely “Evertony” will be soon.

– Payet is a simply wonderful player, and a joy to watch almost every time he takes the field. In spite of the fact that he plays for West Ham, who (annoyingly) it is becoming difficult to dislike.

– “Jurgen Klopp’s ultra-mobile lower jaw gives me the heebie-jeebies” is one of my favourite observations from these hallowed pages. Bravo, Will.
Alex G, THFC


* Are Newcastle doomed? We have not been particularly terrible, but don’t seem to pick up points with any kind of regularity. If we are to stand any chance we need a finisher (who doesn’t?) and another defender. Townsend is not the answer.
* Ashley v Levy in a transfer battle must be very tense as both look to get the ‘perfect’ deal.
* Is it 2012? Crouch and Odemwingie coming on for Stoke.
* Klopp is an infectious man isn’t he? He’s making Liverpool likable again (the bastard).
* Hahahahaha Man United! (We will never forget 1995/96!)
* Ooh look! Swansea have a doddery old Italian at the helm! Hahaha…what’s that? They’ve started winning again…
* Poor Boro, they aren’t going to have a derby next season (even though they are small town in Yorkshire).
Paul, Newcastle


*The game vs Manchester City was peak Alex Song. He was technically superb, won the ball several times, and started some decent attacks. But he’s not a defender by instinct, and it was all undone when he was too high up the pitch and let Iheanacho go right down the middle in the buildup to Aguero’s late equalizer.

*Southampton are back to last year’s best: smothering defense, goals when necessary. Get on them for sixth place.

*Nice to see that Jonjo Shelvey is still great one week and mediocre the next. And he barely seemed interested in playing defense (one tackle attempt, unsuccessful).

*Does anyone, anywhere, really think Arsenal will win the title? They’ve hit Peak Arsenal so often they must be managed by Sir Edmund Hillary. (Oh, and LVG out, obviously.)

*Highlight of Norwich-Liverpool was commentator Peter Drury on Steven Naismith’s goal to put Norwich up 2-1 after having trailed 0-1: “A one-time Evertonian has taken Norwich from behind…” I was laughing too hard to hear the rest.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA

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