Mails: Who is your manager’s pet player?

Date published: Tuesday 10th May 2016 2:53

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Rooney plays. That is all.
William, Leicester makes many well-thought-out, valid points as to why Rooney should not start and how the balance of the side is likely to be skewed if he does play. I agree that the best XI in France would likely not feature Rooney, but unfortunately neither William nor I pick the team. Roy Hodgson picks the team, therefore Rooney plays provided he isn’t in a full body cast.

The sooner we all make our peace with the fact he is in the team, the easier life will be. Much like Wilshere, Rooney is a banker and a pillar around which Hodgson has built his team. Welbeck is another one and as Roy won’t get to play Welbeck, Rooney is a guaranteed starter. We all know this to be true. Time to accept it.

You never know, he might be trying the same trick as Hazard and Fabregas and is saving himself for the tournament!
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC


Who is your manager’s pet player?
As obvious as it sounds, part of the bafflement at the inclusion of certain players in top teams has to do with the manager’s preference. For some reason or the other, whether it is the style of play, training etiquette, being a teacher’s boy or simply adhering to the manager, certain players manage to regularly sneak into playing XIs with certain managers in charge. Players who would not be anywhere near the first XI otherwise.

Ferguson won titles with players like Park Ji Sung, John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Darren Fletcher (Early Years), players who won might think are nowhere near Premier League winners’ material but by sheer application and being on the manager’s good side they managed to win titles year after year.

These players are different from a Gary Neville, who used his limited ability to become a great player. These players remain not the best players but for some reason are a manager’s preference. These are not players that a manager saw the qualities of and they turned out to be world class. These are just the players an individual manager loves. Players who could easily be upgraded on by a top-quality club and would be if a new manager comes in.

Would any other manager other than Pellegrini pick Jesus Navas so regularly for a team chasing the Champions League and Premier League? In many ways Navas perfectly encapsulates Pellegrini’s team at Manchester City. Nothing to complain but nothing to get excited about either.

Jesus Navas remains for large parts an average player. He would be in no-one’s team of the year.

As a lot of Manchester United fans, I too have a man crush on Daley Blind. He seems to do most things right and with elegance but would he be on any Manchester United’s radar let alone be the first-choice center-back for the club? Throughout the past two years Van Gaal has found a way to play Blind, when he bought two defensive midfielders this year he converted Blind into a center-back. If Van Gaal is to go, I do not see how a new manager will not make signing a center-back the top priority.

For a manager who is known to put an arm around his players, Mourinho has very few of these players. He has players like Terry or Drogba that he loves but those are world-class players. Willian is another one of his players that became top quality. Mourinho is ruthless when it comes to ditching a player when an upgrade is available.

Who is a player at your club who is only there because of the manager? Joe Allen comes to mind at Liverpool but even Rodgers did not put him in his starting XI regularly. Walcott at Arsenal but Wenger has now eased him out of the first XI, Mertesacker might be a better example but he was world class and only now losing the whatever little pace he had.
Shehzad Ghias, MUFC, Karachi


Man United miss out again…
Players United thought they had basically signed only for him to sign for someone else: Thiago, Benatia, Sanches, Firmino, Pedro, etc.

Players United thought they could get but never really stood a chance: Ramos, Neymar, Bale, Fabregas, Vidal, Ronaldo, Muller, Hummels, etc.

That’s just off the top of my head while I sit and ponder how United manage to sign a player on about four different occasions according to the papers, only for him to *actually* sign for a team he only gets linked with on the day it becomes official.

Are the United board really this bad at wrapping up transfers, and are they really this delusional when identifying transfer targets? Why do we seem to be such a badly run club from the outside? We’re f**king Manchester United. Can we please try and not look so stupid all the time?

I’m starting to think Ed Woodward is just an evil villain sent by our rivals to destroy our club from the inside.
Gaaavie (wonder if Pep and Custis will be watching the game together), Cape Town


…1996 Blomqvist
1997 Baggio/Davids
1998 Kluivert
1999 Shevchenko and Batistuta
2000 Figo
2001 Thuram and Most of Lazio
2002 Ronaldo
2003 Ronaldinho
2004 Vieira

and so on…

All players who were offered moves to Man Utd when we had money, were one of the best teams/squads in Europe and weren’t owned by the Glazers yet they still went elsewhere/stayed put. Not counting all the gossip and transfer rumours around other players that wasn’t true.

Now Bayern sign two players Man Utd were (possibly – probably in the case of Sanches) interested in…the more things change the more they stay the same.

I’m not being an apologist for Woodward (cos he’s a joke) or the Glazers but perspective is always useful.
Eddie, ‘Who Don’t Like Kids?’ MUFC


…I was late into the office this morning due to wandering round fields and talking to farmers so hadn’t had the chance for my usual click through Football365 as per my normal morning routine. However when I did and saw the news regarding Hummels transfer to Bayern I hung my head and a feeling; which I can only describe as a mixture of disappointment and accepting resignation, washed over me as yet another player I’d have loved to have seen at Man Utd go elsewhere.

On the bright side though I’m sure Ed Woowoo and Co are somewhere doing a deal for the first Man Utd stud sponsor, so all’s well that ends well I suppose.
Jimmy H (less commercial deals, more players) MUFC


…I’ve been sitting all morning looking forward to this final game at Upton Park, with the end of Louis on the horizon, and a potentially fortunate Top Four finish on the cards with one big push tonight.

And then BANG, someone p*ssed in my already soggy cornflakes. Renato Sanches is on his way to Bayern!

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that Utd have told Jose that Louis is getting his final season in charge, and in turn, Agent Mendes has decided that Utd aren’t getting Renato. (Yes I’m aware that he probably just wanted to play at Bayern anyway, but let’s just entertain this train of thought for one moment!) This being the case, it’s another fine mess on the lap of one Mr Woodward!

Over the past few seasons, Utd have been linked to a host of big names only for them to be total fabrications of the truth, or at the very least unobtainable targets. This one today bugged me unlike the rest. They have scouted him into the ground and he is seemingly the real deal…if there is the slightest chance that Woodward did indeed make a hash of this one over Jose, then can he make a summer exit with Louis please!
Gary B (Pogba and Renato, what a midfield that would have been!)


We don’t really know what’s true
Gossip is great. Be it sniggering about the way your twice-divorced Auntie drunkely cornered that significantly younger guest at that wedding, hoping upon hope for that long-await Dr Alban and 2Unlimited concept album or supping a pint with a mate while rummaging through the 43,291 players your team has been linked with.

As a Manchester United fan, I am very used to transfer gossip. Our squad would be the size of Liechtenstein if you were to believe the papers. So how do us mere fans seperate the wheat from the agent generated chaff? Gossip columns can help, but not much. Reliable rumours are about as rare as ITK people who are in the know.

Sanches was a shoo-in for United. Now he is at Bayern. Is that EwarWoowar’s fault? Were United really interested? United won’t say – and the ‘sources’ who will almost inevitably say they were not interested are probably the same sources that give out lots of other guff information. Or they may not be. They are all called Source so it is impossible to tell one from another. Red source, brown source or no source at all?

As an aside, what happened to the transfer window? From what I understand, there is no way Bayern should even be able to sign these players now. They are not free agents, it is an international transfer and cannot be considered an emergency signing. They are not in the last year of their contracts, so it cannot be a pre-contract agreement. Is this an example of other countries simply ignoring the rules?

Either way, at least there will be four weeks less of this nonsense this summer.
Andreas (I hate odd years) Hunter, St Albans


…I must say I am rather disappointed by the reporting by F365. So it turns out Renato Sanches and Mats Hummels can’t complete their transfers to Bayern Munich without the obligatory mention of how Manchester United were left jilted at the altar – the stupid idiots.

Last season we saw the same pattern unfold. Manchester United were ‘looking to sign’ Firmino, Ibrahimovic, Cavani, Otamendi, Hummels (again), De Bruyne, hell even Sterling was thrown in there at a point and yet United were sent away crying into their bedsheets as all these players ‘snubbed’ them. As far as the mainstream media is concerned it seems if you say something often enough it becomes true – or better yet, when ‘a source’ close to the player says it, it becomes the God’s honest truth – carved in stone. Come on F365, we trust you to filter your reporting a bit better than all the gutter press out there.

In any case, I expect Manchester United to ‘court’ and ‘get rejected’ by Griezmann, Pogba, Ozil, Sanchez, Gaitan (again), Higuain et al this summer so I guess I can just say it in advance: Ed Woodward has no idea what he is doing; that incompetent b**tard!!
Mandisi (Oh yes, forgot Mourinho – Ed will screw that up as well), MUFC


Did we want another Anderson?
Surely I can’t be the only one who sees more than a little Anderson in Renato Sanches.

Both looked damn good in a three minute YouTube video…
Sean Peter-Budge


Arsenal fans haven’t lost patience; they’ve lost faith
Interesting reading Daniel Storey’s article on fans patience and clubs’ lack of loyalty to the working-class fans. Wenger always takes the clubs’s side when fans complain about ticket prices. He doesn’t show any loyalty to the fans when they raise concerns about being priced out and is happy to play them off each other through the supply and demand narrative. But there’s another key element that Storey misses out on – the internet. In the pre-internet era fans in general didn’t have any knowledge of the workings of their or other clubs. For the vast majority all they saw was what was on the pitch either at the ground or on TV. For a manager to keep fans on side, all he had to do is have a good bit of charisma, talk a good talk and have some results showing the club is doing alright. Beating local rivals always helped.

Now we have newspapers discussing takeovers and investments in great depth. We have detailed blogs like Swiss Ramble dissecting how a club’s finances work. We also have websites like this and fan forums to discuss football in more depth then we would ever at the pub. And then you have the beast that is social media…

Overall fan knowledge of football has changed massively in what we know and how much of it. All his information and discussion has lead Arsenal fans to conclude that, considering the last five seasons and Wenger’s decisions and comments through this season, the performance of the team isn’t going to improve with Wenger in charge. Many fans are quite happy to continue with the current set-up if there was some serious indication from the management that the issues holding the team back would be resolved. But there are simply no signs that anything but the status quo will remain. Arsenal fans haven’t lost patience, they’ve lost faith. Incidentally Wenger ‘The Professor’ is now talking like a man of the cloth – suggesting his flock is being manipulated by external bodies…it’s all become fairly tragic.
Shaz, N19


…Sorry but Arsenal fans cannot be seen as one homogenous group.

Not all Arsenal fans want Wenger to stay. Not all Arsenal fans want him to leave. Not all middle-class Arsenal fans are calling for Wenger’s head.

It is true that a good many fans that want Wenger to stay are those that have only ever known him as a manager but not all the older heads, who have seen Arsenal when we were really rubbish, want him to stay – think Claude of Arsenal fan tv.

And it’s totally understandable that there should be a great divide between the fans. Wenger is arguably our club’s greatest manager but he has also presided over one of the longest silver-less runs in the club’s history.

Wenger had an excuse during the barren run due to the stadium but to fans that were used to winning trophies that period really hurt.

Wenger no longer has any excuses. He won back to back FA cups but this season he has failed and he failed because he won’t sign a proper striker despite having the funds to do it – that’s going to irk fans no matter their social class, age or gender.

Some Arsenal fans have no faith in Wenger at all – I’m one of them.

I just want him to set an exit date or he’s likely to be booed when the club marks his 20 years in time and not even his biggest critics want to see that.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Replies for the trolling Lee
Lee is absolutely right.

Leicester went to the prom and got the girl, roll credits, full credit to them.

The chasing pack went to the prom, but failed to get the girl for various reasons, frustrating seasons to differing extents, some lessons learned and hope for a more starring role in the sequel.

Chelsea woke up late for the prom. When they woke they also realised they had sh*t the bed. Chelsea did so well washing their sheets and hanging them on the line tho, that we should overlook the initial mistake. They got to the prom eventually (albeit three hours late) and once there they pointed and laughed at the chasing pack, believing they had some sort of superiority over them. Sadly though, no amount of Lynx Java could completely mask the smell of sh*t.
James Smythe, THFC


…I wasn’t going to respond to Lee’s clearly trolling email this morning until I saw how he given a succinct overview of Chelsea’s season in the form of an equation. Maybe all emails from now on should just drop the rambling and cut straight to an equation?

* Chelsea supporting buffoon + time on his hands = today’s letter to the Mailbox

Hopefully you’ll print this before all the detailed and frankly boring responses come in so everybody has a chance to shorten their replies.



…Some of the jumps in logic employed by Lee in his Chelsea Fan Letter this morning would make a gymnast blush. I imagine Lee was sitting in full Chelsea kit, sweatbands and all, as he inflicted that nonsense on his keyboard. He hasn’t so much ‘shifted the perspective’ as taken it down an alley and beaten it senseless.

He says that ‘The other four clubs below Leicester all had significant opportunities for success, but have blown them’ – hard to disagree with, but the problem is Chelsea also had significant opportunity for success. They were the reigning Premier League champions (winning it at a canter) with an almost completely unchanged squad, they had the current PFA player of the year, they had a manager with extensive league-winning experience, but guess what…they BLEW IT, and they blew it early. But it’s okay for Chelsea, because ‘this happens in football every now and then’.

Somehow, Lee has come to the conclusion that because Chelsea blew it earlier than the other clubs, they have somehow done better than other clubs. Doesn’t work like that I’m afraid.
Michael, AFC, Crawley


…A word of advice for that chap who wrote in a long mail about why Chelsea have had a better season than Spurs and the teams immediately below them.

There is a much simpler way to work out who has had a better season. It’s called the league table, and in it, Spurs are 2nd while Chelsea are 9th.
Adonis (great mail from Carolyn though) Stevenson, AFC


…Chelsea fan Lee, that is some superbly one-eyed rewriting of the season.

There’s an easy way of seeing which teams had the better season; it’s called the league table.

I suppose next year Leicester’s season will be worse than Chelsea’s, because at some point they’ll likely be knocked out of the Champions League, but your precious Chelsea won’t be.
Alistair Gilmour, Glasgow


…I’m gonna have to bite on that I’m afraid.

Chelsea’s players should quite frankly be ashamed of their efforts this season. How you can defend the worst title defence from any team ever with ‘we were already out of it so no worries’ is beyond me! You sacked your most successful ever manager because the players didn’t want to play for him any more, Fair enough.

Hiddink came in and things improved slightly but players like Hazard, Matic, Ivanovic, Fabregas and Oscar have been so bad this year it has to be unforgivable. When you see Hazard turn up for one half against Spurs and see how good he is, it’s astonishing to think what he has done to your club this year. Player of the year last season to downing tools and coasting all season and flirting with other clubs because he quite simply didn’t fancy it and couldn’t be bothered.

I actually think Chelsea have got off lightly this year due to Leicester and Spurs actually being quite good! Chelsea players and fans should be ashamed of themselves and their team after taking the p**s out of them all year.
Chaz (Essex)


Right to question the King
Matt Stead’s article on Alan Pardew
resonated with my opinions on my club’s manager. I am probably one of those Matt describes as a murmurer of discontent, because while I haven’t been happy with how awful my team has been in the second half of the season, I wasn’t necessarily advocating the removal of Pardew (I concede have pointed out in several mailboxes that other teams have sacked managers for less, even as recently as yesterday).

We all saw what happened at Nottingham Forest last season with Stuart Pearce. It’s not exactly the same, but few players in Forest’s history are as revered by the fans to this day as Pearce, so they were desperate for the club to do well with a favourite son at the helm. The logic was simple – the unpopular owners hired an incredibly popular former player, in the hope of inspiring the players to great things. That Forest’s players couldn’t motivate themselves to play well for Pearce shows either incredible self-absorption and ineptititude, or incredible bravado. In a similar vein, Pardew’s goal against Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final means he will always be looked upon favourably by Palace fans of a certain vintage. Few people want to see someone who (despite being an average player) contributed something big to the club’s history leave under a cloud of failure. However, it is fair to say that Pardew’s inability to arrest his team’s slump, and his somewhat complacent attitude towards it, has tried people’s patience.

Around the time the poor run began, the club’s new American investors brought over a film crew from NBC. Many investors in clubs tend to have their own ideas – rightly or wrongly – about the sort of football they want to see played, and about who they want running their club. With this in mind, I began to speculate that Pardew’s complacence might have indicated a man who didn’t think he would be around long-term – again, not that I want to see him sacked, just that someone looking to maintain employment would be more concerned than someone who knew they would be gone when the season finished. The story goes that he was offered several players in January who could have bolstered the squad, but declined them all.

If Crystal Palace overcome the odds and win the FA Cup final, Alan Pardew will get all the credit he deserves for bringing the club their first ever major trophy. However, as the more likely outcome is a Palace defeat, it won’t be unreasonable, in the aftermath of the season, to take a long, hard look at whether Pardew is the right man to take the team forward. There are going to be suitable managerial alternatives available this summer, albeit without Pardew’s connections to the club, so it will be up to him to convince the club is he worthy of a new contract.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven


We’re Palace, remember; mid-table is absolutely fine
It’s not a massive surprise to see Matt come down a tad hard on Pardew, and in many (many, many, many) ways he brings it on himself.

I just wanted to point out that as what I expect is a relatively average Palace fan – from south London, go to a few games a season + the semi, love Bolasie but would take £20m for him – I think there’s a bit of hyperbole going on about what we should expect.

Yes we had an incredible start to the season. Yes we’ve been shocking in the league since December. But the general consensus of me and my Palace-supporting friends is that we’ve come out to about two places below our expected league position, based largely on having a Championship-standard defence and goalkeeper (except Scott Dann). Finish 14th rather than 12th, which sounds about right, plus an FA Cup final, and it wouldn’t even occur to me to whisper about sacking Pardew. That’s not because I bloody love English managers (irrelevant) or because I’m convinced by Pardew’s act – it’s because we’re Crystal Palace. You know, Crystal Palace. Remember? From 1990? Crystal Palace.

I realise that if next season’s league form starts the way this one ended, then we’ll be a bit screwed. But that’s a long way (and hopefully a new CB, RB and GK) off.

Mainly it’s the suggestion that we should be aiming for the stars because of Leicester that clashes a bit with the reality. Without wanting to take away all the romanticism and escapism, anyone who thinks that Palace ‘should’ finish in the top six next year because of what Leicester have done is a f*ckwit. More specifically:

‘The Foxes have raised the bar of expectations, and the King must get up from his throne and face the challenge.’

No. He must not. He must finish in 10th or thereabouts next year, be safe in March and potentially put together a cup run. I’m sorry if that invites a load of whingeing about me being what’s wrong with football and ‘that’s why you’re a nothing club’ and ‘you’re not a real football fan’ and ‘what would Andrea Bocelli sing about that?!’ – but it’s true. I bloody love watching us in the Premier League, I love seeing us buy Cabaye, I love seeing Zaha come back and become a fan favourite again. Clearly I don’t love that as much as a Leicester fan loves watching Danny Simpson lift the Premier League trophy, but watching him do it doesn’t suddenly make me think Martin Kelly could or should be next.

As ever, love the site (and football!)
Ben Quoththeraven, CPFC, The Eagles, South London


What could have been for Southampton…
In reply to Adam and what could have been for Villa, A former Southampon XI:

Oxlade Chamberlin

I would argue that is just as big if not more of a difference to the Villa team which would be a solid mid-table team. that Southampton team would be challenging right at the top!
James, Southampton


What kind of a man likes play-offs?
I bet the people who like play-offs and brush over their inherent unfairness are the same people who think that stadiums playing music after a goal is “just a bit of fun”.
Stu (you know what’s more fun? The team in third being awarded promotion), That London


What about the play-offs in Belgium
I am a little late to the play-offs thing but I think the English Championship playoffs are actually not that bad compared to the ridiculous version in Belgium. First of all, it happens even in the premier division with the top six teams during the regular season facing each other for the title. Aside from the fact that the team which finished first after playing each team home and away in the regular season may not win the title, it just does not make sense considering the winner gets a Champions League spot. It is unfair because the team which finished sixth in the regular season may somehow get into the Champions League while the team which finished first may not even get into Europe at all.

The second thing about the Belgian League play-offs, and the one that irritates me the most is the Europa League playoffs. The teams which finished 7-14 during the regular season are divided into two groups and made to play for the final prize of a Europa League spot. This season, Mouscron Peruwelz finished ONE point ahead of relegated Leuven yet found themselves have an almost equal opportunity with 7th-placed Standard Liege. It is just plain ridiculous and unfair for a team that survived relegation by a single point and had the worst goal difference in the entire league to be given a chance to qualify for the Europa League.

Surely the whole purpose of a league format is for teams to be awarded based on where they finished on the league table during the regular season? Play-offs just do not make any sense.
Greg Tric, Nairobi


Feeling like a kid again…
An unusually long one for me, and I know it was a couple of days ago but on Sunday I got to mingle with some of the players and legends at White Hart Lane thanks to my mum being picked to give Alderweireld the player of the season after the game (shame about the loss, but Southampton deserved it, if Poch ever leaves Koeman please!).

Now, obviously this was a proud moment for the family but it dawned on me that both my sister (previously a mascot) and mother have spent more time on the pitch at White Hart Lane than I ever will now. At 31 my chance is probably gone now.

However, I got to meet Ledley King, have a picture with him and not faint, nor injure him for six months. Now that’s a result.

I love how football can still make me feel 13. COYS.
Jon (Yido and definitely NOT bitter mum), Boston
PS. Pat Jennings touched my puny hand with his man hands. Wow.


Mailbox: Rewind
​Martin Ansell in the mailbox? Is this 2002?
Adam Corbett

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