Another great mailbox. Well done. Now make Tuesday great by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
What do they even do: An XI
Mentions of Ryan Mason and Jesse Lingard have made me want to try my hand at a ‘What does he even do?’ XI – and yes this is how I’ve wasted my first day off in two weeks.
GK – Richard Wright: Just sit quiet Richard and you’ll get another year
RB – Leandro Bacuna: Is he a winger, a midfielder, full-back, not great defensively or on the ball, an enigma.
CB – Steven Caulker: Boasts an decent list of clubs, still very young, built like a CB but might want to be a striker, Gary Doherty Version 2.0.
CB – Marcos Rojo: I don’t get it, suspect defensively, poor going forward, not sure if he’s a CB or LB, but he’s played in a WC final and cost United 15m+ a Season of paying Nani’s wages at Sporting CP
LB – Paul Dummett: Seems like he’s made a career entirely from being a ‘local lad’, Steven Taylor now looks on in envy.
CM – Glenn Whelan: This man has 69 caps for Ireland, honestly, 69 bloody caps, and is about to play at his second international tournament…I weep for the future of Irish football that we’ve not replaced him yet.
CM – Ryan Mason: Love Ryan, but the striker turned ball-winning mid, turned no.10, turned England international has been outgrown by this Spurs team.
RW – Jesse Lingaard: Captain of the team, can’t understand what it is he does that makes him good enough for United.
AM – Moussa Sissoko: If a Moussa Sissoko plays when the cameras aren’t watching does he even really play?….No
LW – Theo Walcott: Beyond pace he offers very little, still talked about as having massive potential despite 10 years in the top flight.
ST – Cameron Jerome: Expect to be attacked with youtube clips of thunderbas**rd strikes but never been better than a league One standard player.
Sean, THFC, Dublin
Mata is no No. 10
Baros, Nakuru-Kenya, ewhy is there still any debate about this?
Man Utd lost 1-0 at home to Norwich, Mata played no.10 and was regularly muscled off the ball when in possession. It wasn’t the first game that had happened. He can’t play with his back to goal.
Man Utd away to Norwich, first half Mata hustled off the the ball and tries to chase back, it was laughable and tragic. The game is all about transitions now (it has been for a while) and Mata is a liablity against counter-attacks. If you had a team of top-quality players who were excellent in possession you could have Mata. If you don’t have that he becomes a problem.
In 2003/4 Ronaldinho joined Barcelona, he played no 10, kept giving the ball away trying things (cos that’s what wonderfully creative players do) and Barcelona would get hit on the break because their players were not in the right positions to cope with a coutner-attack. So what did Rijkaard do? Moved Ronaldinho to the left wing where he was able to be creative, try things and lose possession safe in the knowledge that the team could cope with any counter-attack. Modric had plenty of games at left wing for Spurs when Redknapp was trying to fit him in the team. 10-13 years later and this stuff still needs explaining to people.
This is why Martial and Mata play on the wings because the defence are vulnerable to counter-attacks when possession is lost. This is why a mobile player like Lingard is preferred in that role. It’s very simple.
Because of the way teams play against us Man Utd have never had a creative no 10 who wasn’t also either physically imposing (Cantona, Hughes, Rooney), technically brilliant (Berbatov) or quick in the head (Sheringham) and feet (Giggs). It’s why Kagawa didn’t work (still love you Shinji). It’s why Mata never will.
Eddie, ‘Martial Matas’ (sorry) MUFC
Ready for ‘obscene effort’ from Hammers?
Ahead of tomorrow night, are any other United fans getting uncomfortable forebodings of Ludek Miklosko and ‘obscene effort’?
Rarely have a team less deserved to finish fourth than United, and even it were attained as well as the FA Cup, van Gaal should still leave, but denying City CL football, and forcing Pep to spend a season exploring Europe’s more interesting backwaters on Thursday nights, would be wonderful.
Giggs over Mourinho? Really?
Guy was on top form this morning wasn’t he?
Jose, serial winner of trophies, hasn’t earned the job. But Giggs – four games as a manager – apparently has.
That’s up there with chairman of the Rooney fan club himself saying United only need a centre-back when we average three shots on target per game and are putrid in attack.
Silvio (sick of seeing the word ‘narrative’ on this site to try to invalidate an argument) Dante
…I cannot have been the only one who starting reading the ‘Giggs has to be the next Man United manager’ thinking he means the problem of the fat lad [with not much] up top only to get to the end and realize Guy S is probably the one person on earth who doesn’t see this area as problematic. And just the one area, eh?
Bless him. Mr Shrimpton is nothing if not persistent!
Gregory Whitehead, LFC
…Enough with the charade and the dodgy pseudonym.
Who are you? Based on your mails throughout the season I’d been of the opinion you had to be Coleen Rooney based on your staunch defence of our Captain Fantastic Wayne Rooney, but with that mail this morning, you’ve made me broaden my suspect list to include the one of the Class of 92*TM.
Unveil yourself, I wait with bated breath.
AF (I know the club, does that qualify me to through my hat into the ring for gig?)
Manchester United: Inept
I was reading The Guardian’s ineptitude index this morning and laughing at how ridiculous it is that Man United were shown to be the least inept side in the league. Of course statistically Man United are the least inept (although Tom Bryant does seem to have just thrown his hat at these numbers) but when taking a broad view of say the last three seasons the club is staggeringly incompetent.
At the centre of this boorishness is a ‘banker’ named Ed. To list each of his failings would take considerably more time than I have right now but suffice to say he isn’t very good at the football stuff. By piecing together the leaks from the past six months we know that Ed would like to appoint Mourinho as manager next season but is facing opposition from others at the club, namely Ferguson and Charlton.
United fans, on the whole it seems, would quite like Jose to take over. Personally I can see the merits in appointing Jose even if I believe him to be somewhat cancerous to whichever club he resides in. However I just cannot square the idea that Ed is going to get his right, all evidence is to the contrary yet fans are agreeing with him. I don’t know if Jose or Giggs or whoever would be the best man to take over from Van Gaal, nobody really can, so it’s prudent to listen to the experts and follow their advice. In Fergie and Bobby we have two experts, given their experience and knowledge of the club there is no-one better placed to make the decision. If they’re saying Giggs and Ed is saying Mourinho it seems obvious who we should be listening to.
Seeing the positives at Man United
I wanted to give a more nuanced argument to Winterburn’s ‘is losing better than winning?’ debate.
As a United fan, I am definitely in the camp of wanting my team to win, qualify for the Champions League and grow as a club.
I will go further and declare things are not at all that bad at the moment at MUFC. Just a few of the reasons for this include:
– an exciting group of young players in the squad.
– an academy that is defying a popular myth of its demise by producing some excellent players (and are Under 21 Champions).
– having the best goalkeeper in the world, who is still only 25.
– having England’s best centre-back. And left-back.
– in Martial we have one of most exciting young players in the world
– some former greats being employed in important roles throughout the club
– we have an FA Cup final to look forward to
– our commercial team seem to be doing a phenomenal job maintaining worldwide popularity
– we have performed very well against the bigger Premier League teams this season (which was my biggest gripe with Moyes)
– our biggest rivals are also struggling on the pitch
– we have an exciting climax to the league season to look forward to
– we have an amazing stadium, heritage and fanbase
– we have the funds and backing to sign almost anyone we want this summer
So, whilst things are not perfect, our problems are mostly limited to a short-term tactics issue, with Van Gaal seemingly unable/unwilling to get the players playing with freedom and dynamism. If he, or someone else, can fix this….happy days all round.
Simon (seeing the positives), London
LVG over Mourinho is laughable
I’m trying to be open minded and trying not to be myopic, giving due consideration to other people’s opinions etc. As a result, I’ve come to the conclusion that any United fan who wants to keep van Gaal must be stupid or doesn’t actually like football.
The arguments for keeping him are just absurd, and tend typically to fall in to three categories:
Blindness or Ignorance: ‘This sh*t sandwich tastes delicious, what are you complaining about, isn’t it great to have something to eat.’
Mindless and baseless optimism: ‘Since the chef has fed me sh*t sandwiches every week for the last two years, next year, he will probably cook me steak.’
Lack of alternatives: ‘Eating this sh*t sandwich is better than the other options.’
The common theme with all three arguments is that they are as ridiculous as they are stupid. Take this morning’s mailbox as an example:
‘Bringing in Mourinho would give us relatively short-term success, but what happens after he’s spent hundreds of millions on experienced players that have maybe only two or three years left at the top level, p**ses off everybody connected to the club then f*cks off after three years.’
And that’s supposed to be given as a negative comparison to van Gaal, who spent hundreds of millions on few players actually able to play at top level at all, delivers no success, p**ses everyone off and still f*cks off after three years? Great f*cking long-term plan Wiggsy. Absolute genius.
Alternatively: ‘The people at the top of the club know what they are doing, and let’s not forget that both Fergie and Bobby Charlton are both still at the club and I’m sure giving their input.’
Excellent, let’s get David Moyes back in since they know what they’re doing. Stop making stupid arguments for van Gaal! It’s infuriating!
What if…Liverpool were not error-prone
Has one club’s season ever been so dramatically altered due to idiotic mistakes by its own players, you ask, Sam?
I’m not sure about the dramatically part, but has one club’s season ever been so altered through mistakes? Yes. This season. By Liverpool.
19 points thrown away from winning positions. If we’d kept them all, we’d be guaranteed second and, incredibly, still in with a shot of the title because of a game in hand. Even keeping nine, i.e seeing out three matches we were already winning, would’ve put us right in the battle for a top-four place. I’m choosing to see this as evidence that if Klopp had inherited slightly better/more consistent defenders we’d be having a storming season, given the way he’s unlocked the potential in our attackers. We know he’s capable of organising a reasonable defence (see Dortmund and Mainz) but when your only left-back is really a winger and your only realistic choice of keeper is Mignolet (who is joint top of the league for ‘keeper mistakes directly leading to a goal) the job is way harder than it has to be.
Anyway, on a positive note, the other thing City and Liverpool have in common is that both should have great seasons next year – we’re halfway through the revolution and probably will see our defensive problems properly looked at this summer, and you’re about to hire Guardiola and (presumably) give him something close to all of the pounds to rebuild your squad in his image.
Next year is going to be very interesting. Maybe even more so than this year. Here’s hoping!
Matt (Praying that United keep Van Gaal almost as much as I’m praying for a good night in Basle) LFC
…Normally, if your team wins 2-0 on the weekend (with Skrtel in defence) and is one game away from a trophy AND Champions League qualification you wouldn’t be wrong to be pretty chuffed with yourselves. Call me a ‘glass half empty’ moron, but after the Man City result, I couldn’t help but feel enormously pissed with Liverpool’s position in the table and what it could’ve been.
Picture this: ‘In the last two months, if Liverpool hadn’t bottled THREE 2-0 leads against Sunderland & Newcastle (both in a relegation dog fight) and Southampton (F*** you Skrtel), we’d be level on points with City WITH a game in hand.’ And I haven’t considered last week’s defeat to Swansea or the 3-0 reverse to Watford in November or Crystal Palace and the daylight robbery against United at Anfield. Because some games you’re s**t, some games you don’t do enough to win and some you lose by a 90th min freak goal. It’s all part of the game. I get it.
But what I don’t seem to fathom is how we can lose/draw a game after leading by two goals, not once, not twice but three times. It just doesn’t add up. “You knock United and Dortmund over two legs but can’t see out a game when you’re two goals ahead at home to 18th and 19th placed Premier League teams?” Just f*ck off already.
“Okay, but what is the point of all this?! You might as well be in champions league anyway.” Well if we did have those seven points a) We would be well ahead of United essentially denying them a Champions League spot, b) Win against Chelsea on Wednesday and we have consigned Pep and Sterling to Europa League (tell me that isn’t the least bit amusing) and c) Europa League Final would just be another game with the possibility of a trophy at the end, not a season( and the next summer) defining encounter against a two-time defending champion.
All this was so unnecessary. We could’ve easily been in top four (or even higher) just by parking the bus and defending a two-goal lead. Simple.
I told you. I’m a glass half-empty person.
Abhinav, LFC, Chicago.
Jose Enrique. LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE.
It’s hard to describe the space that Jose will leave in the Liverpool fans’ heart.
Topless selfies, Nando’s visits & hover-boards.
All while being paid £100k a week to play FIFA & Mario Kart.
He played that ball for Suarez’ goal that blew the roof off the place.
Shielding balls, rolled-up sleeves & aimless crosses.
Remember when he stole Suso’s pants from his case?
Jose Enrique. LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
Bocelli made me cry like a baby
Andrea Bocelli was indeed magnificent but was in fact a bit of a pain in the a*se for me. You see after 4 weeks of attempting and failing to get tickets through the official routes I had to settle for a (slightly less official) route into the Everton end.
All fine of course, dress in neutral colours, keep my head down until the final whistle, nobody will notice, it’ll be fine…and then Nessun Dorma reaches that crescendo and Andrea gets his Leicester shirt out and inevitably the tears start rolling down the cheeks. I’ve been in the ground four minutes Bocelli and you’ve already blown my cover. Hats off to the Everton fans though, there were a huge amount of far less inconspicuous Leicester fans than me in there and you were top class, you deserve much better than the sh*t you were served up with on Saturday.
Truly one of the best days of my life though, could not have been prouder of the city of Leicester and manner in which that whole day went off – very likely that’ll never happen again and if it doesn’t that was more than good enough for me.
Dan, Greenwich (via Leicester)
Give Vardy a break..
In response to Peedee in this morning’s mailbox, to be fair to Vardy the Everton keeper was play acting before the spot kick trying to vardy off so I think Vardy was well within his rights to wave a cheeky finger at Robles…I feel dirty.
Simon P, Dublin
He has some balls too…
I’ve seen some take issue with how Jamie celebrated his penalty, in the face of Joel Robles. I have no idea what was said prior to the two penalties, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. One thing that does get me though.
A few weeks ago, some questioned if Vardy had cost Leicester the title by getting himself banned. He slid in front of a defender and left his leg there giving the defender no other option. Almost unanimously, fans and pundits agreed that this was a dive, and to top it all off he swears at the ref.
Vardy is back in the line-up at home against Everton. He’s running through on goal, and does the same thing to in a penalty which he then scores. I am an Everton fan, but I’m not moaning about this because I don’t believe it would have changed the result, we have no fight on the pitch. What does grate me though is the sheer confidence he must have to do that. I just haven’t seen it brought up anywhere else.
All congratulations to Leicester by the way, a fantastic side, with lovable characters (except Vardy of course)
Liam, EFC (If he doesn’t want to play for our club, Lukaku can do one)
Everton players are getting off lightly
Just a brief email to make one addition to todays W&L column, as all my enthusiasm for any Everto- related content has been drained fully right now.
Whilst Martinez is clearly the biggest factor in our abysmal form, the free pass being given to the players as a result is unjustified.
I can only hope they are hanging the manager out to dry with their lack of effort, rather than they don’t know what to do. These lads are millionaires of the back of us punters; the least they should be doing is putting effort in. Nil Satis Nisi Optimum is a long way away now.
On the underrated Jimmy Mac...
In a previous mail I commented that the absence of James McArthur was one of the reasons we had dropped points in 2016, coinciding with his injury lay-off. On Saturday against Stoke, he ran over 10km (1st for Palace), registered two tackles (joint 1st), completed 61 passes (1st from both teams, 43 of these in the opposition half, again 1st), had 87 touches (1st), and made six interceptions (1st).
He is one of those players that seems to operate under the radar and doesn’t get a great amount of credit outside of his club, but the Selhurst Park going supporters definitely appreciate how good this guy is. If I could be bothered to do some sort of list or underrated players he’d be right up there.
Terry deserves more credit
John Terry called time on an amazing career in the way only John Terry could: by giving as much ammunition to his detractors as possible.
It was a shame similar to when Gerrard lunged out in his last Liverpool and Man United game. I am sure both will regret it for a long time to come.
It is worth remembering that John Terry is the most successful English club captain of the post war era. He has won four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, the Europa league and the Champions League. All but one of those trophies were as captain.
He also appeared in multiple UEFA and FIFA teams of the year.
So why did Match of the Day think that a single line tribute from Kevin Kilbane was enough to honour this man?
Steven Gerrard was given what seemed like an eternity of praise. No superlative was enough. No montage too long.
Some people will cite Terry’s controversies but Gerrard was hardly a saint.
Some will cite his courting of Man City. Did people forget Gerrard did the same with Chelsea?
Both even slipped over to throw away major silverware!
Both led their teams, were dominant in their positions and were two of the greats of English football. Both were one-club players. Both even slipped over to throw away major silverware!
Personally, I feel that, as a captain, Terry deserves so much more credit than he is getting. Many of you hate him but you cannot deny his brilliance.
In defence of the play-offs
I’m a Reading fan and we have a terrible record in the play-offs:
1995 – lost in final 4-3 AET to Bolton (in a season where on the Champions were promoted automatically).
2001 – lost in final 3-2 AET to Walsall
2003 – lost to Wolves in the semi-finals
2009 – lost to Burnley in semi-finals
2011 – lost 4-2 to Swansea in the final
So by most measures I should hate them. But you know what? I love the play-offs every single year, whether Reading are involved or not.
One of my greatest football memories ever was the semi-final at the Madejski Stadium in 2001 when we came back to beat Wigan 2-1 with goals in the 86 and 90th minutes.
As I see it the rules are very simple – The top two teams are promoted. The teams finishing in 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th places then win the right to enter what is essentially a cup competition over a maximum of three games, with the overall winner of that competition getting promoted along with the other two teams.
It’s not like this is suddenly sprung on the teams or the fans in the last week of the season.
And who ever said sporting competitions had to be fair?
…Michael AFC, I couldn’t disagree more as play-offs are my favourite part of the season with so many advantages to them. Primarily, it not only keeps the top half of the league interesting for longer as more teams have something to play for. But it’s also pretty fair as the best two teams are deservedly automatically promoted and third is also ‘rewarded’ with playing 6th first, so they should be getting to the final at least. Inevitably the match-ups lead to four great semi-final games between the ‘best of the rest,’ with everything on the line and then a Wembley final to top if off.
Each game has a spine-tingling cup final atmosphere which tend to bring out the best in the players leading to stunning goals and unbeatable drama. To prove my point, let’s go back to a certain Championship play-off semi-final at the end of the 2012/13 season. It’s the 12th May and in the 95th minute Leicester have a penalty (some things never change) in extra-time to win the match. The rest as they say, is history:
Despite having no affiliation to either team, it’s literally up there with a Agueroooooooooo moment of pure joy as you watch on in disbelief. What’s even more jaw-dropping is to look at the Leicester line up in that semi-final three years ago:
02 De Laet
15 M Keane
11 Dyer (Drinkwater – 66′)
39 Wood (Kane – 61′)
It’s still batsh*t mental that the core of that team have gone from losing a play-off semi-final to lifting a certain other trophy at the weekend. The bench is pretty tasty as well with two players, no less, going into the final game competing for the golden boot. While also having the hopes of England riding on their shoulders going into a Euros.
Cliché alert, but you literally couldn’t write such a story because it would be utterly ridiculous for it to happen.
Tom Saints (Lets have a play-off for the fourth place trophy,’ on current form I’d fancy Saints to nick it!)
Relegation play-offs are a thing
Michael AFC may want to have a glance around Europe, where relegation play-offs are the norm. Although the methods vary, this is par for the course across the continent – even our Scottish chums give this a whirl.
In short, it would be like Newcastle finishing third bottom and playing the winner of the play offs over two legs for the right to stay in/get promoted to the Premier League. Which could be all sorts of good fun to the neutral, less so if you happen to be a fan of the clubs involved, so spare a thought for all Werder Bremen and Nuremberg fans over the next couple of weeks!
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC
You’ll never walk alone
Kudos to the BBC on their programme on Hillsborough last night.
The fact that justice took 27 years actually had me seething at points in the programme as the story of what the families, the police officers and most importantly the victims went through that day unfolded.
And then footage of the 20th anniversary and it dawned on me that during that season I was at a match at the Emirates where Liverpool and Arsenal fans alike belted out Justice for the 96.
It should not have taken 27 years but how fitting that it should have been Liverpool’s fans and subsequently the wider football family that did not forget and ensured that Hillsborough was thrust back into the spotlight so justice could be served.
RIP the 96 – you’ll never walk alone.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London