If you have anything to add on any subject, you know what to do – mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Are United’s old guard stitching up Van Gaal? (And too much about Batistuta, so I wrote about Batistuta)
After listening Scholes’ most recent scathing pronouncement, I can’t be the only one who has noticed an increasingly strident pattern that has got me wondering. He’s not wrong, but there’s been a rhythm forming over the last two months.
Neville has never been one to hold his tongue with criticism of his old side, but then, that Neville is that Neville, not exactly one to hold his tongue on any side. Scholes throws in his hat from time to time, but always with a less-than-subtle jab that it is van Gaal who is to blame.
Giggs sits in the assistant’s chair, but will only half-heartedly dismiss rumors of a falling out with manager or team morale, or Beckham’s alleged (totally fictitious) slight. But the edge and virulence has been slowly ramping up, and not exactly subtlely.
Are ManU’s Old Guard, or the “Class of 92” (or “99”) so naive that they are collectively overtly deliberately undercutting van Gaal with the faith that Giggs is heir to the throne? Scholes can be a brilliant commentator at times, but his indictment didn’t exactly match to the facts of the grounds, so to speak.
Perhaps they know something I don’t, perhaps they know Giggs is guaranteed the managerial position after LvG; but it doesn’t seem like there’s any question that the core SAF players are systematically undercutting their own club, and John Morgan’s self-quote feels like it is even more prescient than his piece: it’s not merely that the n*rrative has changed, when it was true that SAF was more than happy with a group stage draw away to a team that was challenging United’s getting out of the group stage…the n*rrative is being dictated in one particular direction, especially by one particular group, towards one particular figure. Coup d’etats are often successful, initially…but they rarely end up well.
Finally, there is a measure of hypocrisy in this note, because frankly Daniel Storey’s new legends series is now my favorite piece of football reading each week and I find myself looking forward to the next one, and the next.
It has firmly cemented 365 as my go to site, and Batistuta played a giant role in my love of football at an era when my family was in the States and televised matches were hard to come by. But were submissions really so poor for this last mailbox that four successive fawning missives to the piece’s wonders were really necessary? For those of you who loves the maths, that’s 4 on and 7 on other topics, or 36%, and in line-count the figure goes over 50%…half on how great a piece was.
Finally, Sasank: that might be one of the most sublimely pithy mails I’ve read yet. Well, well played, sir
Banned for booing the anthem?!
Having just read the news that UEFA are to charge City with “bringing the game into disrepute” as their fans booed the CL anthem words almost failed me. Just who do UEFA think they are? Fans are paying customers and are entirely title to vent their frustrations about governing bodies, players, referees in any way they wish so long as they do not break the rules of the game or law of the land (or, I would argue, common decency). Booing the CL anthem is nothing but showing frustration at a regime – while I entirely disagree with the reasons for City fans doing so if it was done in opposition to FFP, I am also fully supportive of them having the right to do it. Punishing Manchester City or their fans for what is in effect a form of peaceful social protest within a game is a disgrace, particularly when you consider UEFAs atrocious record at instigating change and adequately punishing those clubs whose fans perpetuate racism, violence or other much more serious problems.
UEFA can go jump in a river as far as I am concerned – there are bigger problems in football that deserve the attention of UEFAs leadership and I can’t help but feel that following the climb down from UEFA where they basically stopped enforcing FFP on PSG and Man City, this is a case of trying to throw their weight around rather than focusing on some of the genuinely more concerning aspects of football, like the cost of football, racism, institutional corruption and yes, FFP.
…News that UEFA are pondering fining Citeh for their fans booing the CL anthem is just disgusting. Even if they were in the wrong for doing it – which they weren’t – to even think about fining somebody for booing a piece of music is literally ridiculous.
On a mildly related subject, recently I was watching James Caan whirling his wonderful hairy chest around and smashing the life out of various foreign types in the glorious Rollerball, a film I’d not seen for about 25 years, and was more than a little chilled.
For those who’ve not seen it, basically at some point in the future, Earth has just about survived an apocalypse, with huge transcontinental corporations succeeding and subsuming national governments, and sate the remaining population with regular rollerball games (basically a mixture of ice hockey, NFL, basketball and Streets of Rage). And at the start of each match, both teams are forced to line up, gaze up at their industrial overlords and listen to the rollerball anthem in silence.
I assume Mastercard and Gazprom are fans?
Why always City?
Is anyone actually surprised that UEFA are punishing the Club for the fans booing the anthem?
City have been fined more for being late for the second half than our opposition were for racist chanting. We have suffered a behind “closed” doors match without compensation for tickets and travel booked. Last season we had transfer and squad restrictions that were outlandish and plainly focused on the “new money”. Restrictions I may add that were imposed due to UEFA consistently changing the FFP rules to ensure City could not meet the targets.
If I were Jose Mourinho I might say that there was a campaign against us.
Alex, Bermuda (It would be nice for some English football solidarity but it’s derby week so…)
Rating the English Champions League sides
Taking a cue from Storey’s 5/10 rating for United in the CL so far, I thought I’d give half-time group-stage reviews for the English clubs:
Arsenal – 3/10
This probably would have been 1/10 were it not for a very impressive, if a tad lucky win over Bayern. The fact remains though that their opening two games (particularly the second) were utterly appalling and that as things stand qualification looks very precarious. As Storey noted, should Arsenal fail to better Olympiakos’ result at home to Zagreb when they play in Munich then Olympiakos will only require a draw on match day six to qualify. A reminder that last season Olympiakos beat Atletico Madrid and Juventus, finalists in 2014 and 2015 respectively, at home in the group stages – you wouldn’t bet on Arsenal to better their results. Chances are Arsenal will drop into the Europa with all the moaning that it brings (“We’re playing on Spursday! Wenger out!”), though personally I think should that occur Arsenal should try and win the whole thing rather than play their reserves.
Chelsea – 6/10
Third in the easiest of English groups with only 4 points. However, they get a 6 because, like United, you would still expect them to top the group. They’ve played their two hardest away games and come away with one point, but had they come away with 2 they would probably top the group right now. They will expect to win their last 3 games (Kyiv home, Maccabi away, Porto home) and although the ‘decider’ for topping the group is the last game they can be confident of topping the group.
Manchester City – 5/10
Two points more than United/Chelsea yet a worse score? It’s because of the games that those points were dropped – whilst United and Chelsea dropped points away from home, City crucially lost to their main rivals for the top of the group at home. They may be looking rosier right now but with away trips to Sevilla and Juventus to come in their next two games qualification may be in the balance going into game 6. I still back them to qualify via a draw in Seville and a win against Monchengladbach, but they’ll likely come second in the group, draw Barca in the last 16 and exit at the same stage once again. Has raiding Arsenal for players led to an Arsenal mentality in the Champions League? Probably not, but it’s fun to ponder.
Manchester United – 6/10
I’ve been slightly kinder than Storey, as whilst 4 points (like Chelsea) looks like a poor return on paper, I still see United topping the group. They have arguably their hardest away game to come on matchday 6 vs. Wolfsburg, but two homes games against CSKA and PSV should really provide six points, which would allow United to play for a draw (or a higher-scoring than 2-1 one goal loss due to H2H rules) in Germany and still top the group. The PSV loss was disappointing (even moreso for Shaw’s injury), and whilst the result in Moscow was fine the performance was sleep-inducing, but United are still on course to top the group.
So, in summary: the two teams with easier groups have stuttered slightly but are on course. Of the two teams with harder groups one (City) is on course to finish in the predicted position of 2nd, whilst only Arsenal are really falling below par despite the Bayern win. As the other groups stand we can hopefully expect at least one English team in the quarter finals, as of the ‘likely to finish 2nd’ teams only one of PSG/Real Madrid look like they would beat an English team comfortably. Of course we said that last year about Arsenal and Monaco, but Chelsea/United seem to have more mental fortitude in Europe (despite United’s absence) and you’d expect them to handle the occasion better.
I’ll see you all for a full time report after the all-English semi finals and final…
United got a good point (and other conclusions)
A point away from home in the Champions League is usually a decent result. CSKA are not world beaters but they are no mugs and were very well organised and looked dangerous on the counter. If we can win the 2 home games and avoid defeat at Wolfsburg, then I would be confident we can go through top of the group.
-Another utterly anonymous performance from Rooney. I see Scholes criticising everyone but him again. I can understand G Neville’s reluctance to criticise him seeing as they work together at England, but Scholes should be laying into him. He can’t run in behind, he can’t seem to hold the ball up, he’s scoring regularly enough and he keeps dropping back into midfield to play either 2 or 50 yard passes.
-The worst thing about having Rooney in the side is that it keeps somebody else out. It’s not like we don’t have options. Him playing up top now has forced Martial wide. I think very few people would argue that Herrera/Mata at 10 and Martial up front is a more dangerous combination.
-Thought it was another decent performance from Jones. He’s not setting the world alight but ability wise I don’t think he is far off the likes of Cahill, Zouma, Mangala, Demichellis, Jagielka, Vertonghen etc. If he can stay fit and maintain this kind of performance level then I would have to concede van Gaal was probably right not to have spent £35m on a new centre half. Although if Smalling gets injured then we are trouble.
-I don’t know why, but every time Smalling puts in a good or even solid performance, I’m still surprised.
-Nice to see Lingard get a game. Probably should have scored though. I’d say that would have kept him his place for the weekend. Some good young players around the first team now, even if some of them cost a lot of money…it’s still nice to see.
-I’m confident we can get a result at the weekend. A lot depends on how we cope with De Bruyne, whether Yaya decides to play good or bad and whether we can create enough chances to score.
Dan, Ireland MUFC (Still content at how the season is going)
Football365 – Hating your club since forever
Reading through the notoriously one-eyed Winners & Losers this morning:
Apparently Chelsea’s forwards were “effervescent” and had a “spark”. – Of course they scored no goals and drew away from home in Ukraine, making them Winners (of course).
Manchester United’s forwards lacked any “spark” because Mata wasn’t on the pitch and the only capable player was a 19 year old (*his age is somehow a criticism…). – Of course they did score a goal in their away draw in Russia, having to come from behind against a well-organised home side, making them Losers (of course).
The fact that Valencia produced a fine cross for Martial’s goal does not, apparently, constitute having produced a “spark” (what does??). Perhaps if Hazard/Sanchez/Silva had produced it…
Even Martial is only grudgingly included in the Winners section, with more words dedicated to his first half error than his important goal. Not even the slightest praise reserved for the quality of the header, as we wouldn’t want to acknowledge that now would we. Much more important to dedicate six paragraphs to Kevin De Bruyne’s goal. He’s only 24 you know (*his age is just right).
Gotta love balanced football journalism!
Schweini is the cool head
Unlike most of the people who write into this fine mailbox, I can not claim to be a long standing fan of this website for the last ten years. Being only nineteen I am a relatively recent reader (last two to three years or so) and have never written into the mailbox before.
However after reading this morning’s mail about what Schweinsteiger actually adds to this United team, I felt compelled to write in myself. I agree with the mail in the fact that I would love to see Herrera and Schneiderlin in midfield together (this also allows Mata and Herrera to rekindle their beautiful bromance) but it is very unfair to say that Schweinsteiger offers nothing but slow build up play. He is an extremely intelligent player that offers a cool, wise head in the middle of the park.
Yes, he is not the Schweinsteiger of old but there have been matches this season where he has come on and just settled the whole team. I wish more than anyone that he could start nearly every game but the fact is, he is thirty-one and did suffer a long list of injuries. I do still think he has a lot to offer to this United team but perhaps for now, off the bench.
Darragh MUFC (Did I use the brackets right?), Dublin
He wrote it late at night, alone
I’d say the level of smugness in the office when Storey wrote the line about Ideye was palpable.
Adam L. (We’ll beat Bayern in Munich then lose the rest) Gooner in France
It’s really something
Thank you for the header picture accompanying today’s Mediawatch. It was (and still is) very much appreciated.
If you could report a story about Graziano Pelle tomorrow that would also be marvellous.
Sally, EFC, London.
Love the reference to Usher – U-Turn in Mediawatch today. 8701 is an absolute gem of an album from my adolescent years.
I’m not too sure what that says about me or my teenage years but well done nonetheless.
When I wake up in the morning…
Whenever I hear Brown Ideye’s name, or see it, I can’t help but start singing “lovely day” by Bill Withers.
Sweeper (go on sing it, you know you want to) BFC