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Can someone please shed some light for me on what Souness is talking about regarding Paul Pogba.
A poor understanding of the game, and no understanding of his central midfield position?
Is that what others see when they watch Pogba play?
I will freely admit that I am a huge fan of the lad, and find his play influential and inspiring to the United squad, as he seemingly up the game with in the team, and show clear signs of struggle without him.
Am I just being a big ol fan here, because I think he is truly world class?
Manc in SA
So United have become the first high profile victims of this stupid new rule stating that you can play people on-side, if you leave the pitch without the ref’s permission. Which is understandable if you just simply walk off for a chat with someone in the croud, or as a deliberate act, but if your momentum carries you there, COME ON!!
One can only assume there will now be a spate of defenders sliding in whilst simultaneously shouting “Ref, can I go to the toilet please?” Or a variant thereof.
European football’s on its arse. It started with these useless blokes who stand behind the byline and do……nothing, literally nothing (I think it’s UEFA’s bring a mate to work scheme); has graduated to the most senseless rule since Peter G exposed the sizing (or lack thereof) of the corner area; and will end with, well who the Christmas knows? Replacing the semi finals with an air hockey tournament, last man standing takes his team through? A wild card team consisting entirely of failed reality TV stars, items of furniture and a partridge in a pear tree? The addition of a third half (or Third as it should probably be known), but in this part of the game you can only score if you’re upside down? The mind boggles.
Mark Danger Endicott, MUFC
More United thoughts
*That game summed up what we’ve all known about Luke Shaw – on paper our best LB by a country mile but severely unfit (worthy mentions to Young, but im also considering age and potential as well). He was on fire for the first 55-60mins, but it became so evident he was unfit and was soon exhausted after that. Dont recall him making a run into the opposition third in the final half hour, was a bit too reactive rather than proactive in his defending from that point on too. Before that he was magnificent though. If Shaw can significantly improve his fitness levels to play the whole match as he did his first hour, then he is more than capable of winning the manager over as many other players have done so already. Thing is, he has been injury free for over 2months now, and considering, his fitness levels are quite poor. He was generally sharp (surprising considering how few minutes he’s played) but being fit and sharp for 60minutes just isnt good enough for a top 6 side.
*Rashford ran riot today. His form was beginning to go off the boil but hopefully with the rest he’s had over the last few weeks (only making sub appearances), he’s ready for the holiday period.
*Mata’s assist was a thing of beauty. He had a decent game although I would say he never really grabbed it by the scruff of the neck as Lingard has done in his past two (much tougher) fixtures. The spot is still Lingard’s to lose but Mata has firmly cemented himself ahead of Mkhi.
*Speaking of assists, Pogba’s assist was also lovely. He’s going to be sorely missed for the weekend derby. 3 goals and 6 assists in 10 games (im not counting the game where he got injured inside the opening 20mins as thats not enough time to really affect a game). For a central midfielder those stats are mighty impressive. For comparison, Fabregas, the other central midfielder getting rave reviews for his performances this season, has managed 2 goals and 4 assists in almost twice the number of minutes. Even assist master Ozil has managed fewer assists and goals in more minutes of football, playing in a higher position on the pitch. To think he is only 24 and will get even better. WOW
*Yes Lukaku’s 1st touch is not what you’d expect from a £75m man. Yes he’s had quite the extended goal drought (until today). But I’m firmly behind Mourinho when he compliments Lukaku’s work for the team. His ball to Rashford in the opening minutes was splendid. For a striker who apparently lacks intelligence, he has made more than a handful of defence carving passes and interchanges over the past few months. I wonder if its also telling that the 2 games where Ibra came on and he was farmed out to the left, our attacking play became virtually non-existent (apart from one or two ‘I Am Zlatan’ moments), and again when he was subbed off, we seemed unable to keep hold of the ball in their third. He’s not elegant as perhaps a Morata, and I think he could do more work off the ball, but he allows the likes of Martial, Rashford and Pogba to do their thing. Oh and 12 goals, 4 assists is also pretty handy.
*Romero had a quiet night. Couldnt do much about the goal but made a fantastic save in the 2nd half to deny an equaliser. He’s a little more unorthodox with his technique than De Gea, but just as with DDG, I cant remember the last time he made a mistake. He could easily be 1st choice keeper for any top competitive team. I wonder whether Lpool fans would take him in a heartbeat over Mignolet, even with his United history.
* A quick word on Lindelof. Much improved over the past few games since the comedy that was his pre-season (and first few competitive appearances). Looks assured in a back three, is able to run out with the ball, and has an eye for a pass too. I still think his agility is his biggest weakness and as such, the City game will truly be a test of how far he has come since August.
*Final word on the kids getting a run out, I’ve seen both McTominay and Tuanzebe have better games against tougher opposition, but nice to see them get a few minutes under their belts. I think our squad is probably a bit too big right now that its tough for the kids to get game time, especially with a core group of 15 or so mainly being used. The likes of Blind, Darmian, Herrera, Fellaini, Mata, Romero, Lingard (up until a week ago) arent getting much gametime and so it wont do much for team morale if you opt to play kids ahead of more senior players when injuries or rotation is required. Note: I use the word kids with caution as many of our regulars are kids themselves (Lindelof and Bailly turned 23 this year, Martial turned 22 today, Rashford is 20). Shaw is less than a year older (22) than recent promotee Andreas Christensen (21) over at Chelsea.
Sari Samman (with Pogba a draw vs City is the least we should be aiming for, without – its the best we can hope for)
1. Well, we got there in the end. Not the greatest first half of football we’ve played this season, and their goal was baffling but we responded well in the second. The two quick goals were a sucker punch to a tiring defence and just what we needed.
2. My man of the match has to be Shaw. He showed unbelievable pace at times, some good strength in one on ones, really good attacking intent, and some crucial tackles and interceptions. It is obviously a hell of a long road back into first team contention, but that should have done his chances no harm at all.
3. Lukaku scoring was a timely bonus. His link-up play was good, and he was getting in the right areas. The two worries for me were firstly his reaction to setbacks; too many times recently he seems to be letting his frustrations show – beating the ground, lots of gesticulating, a bit of moaning – hopefully that goal eases some of that. Secondly, his dribbling needs a bit of work; running off the ball is fine, but he looks a bit clumsy at times running with it. Not a huge problem but that could definitely be better.
4. And Rashford managed to end his drought too. For me, there is just one thing that needs to improve in his game: his crossing. He got into fantastic positions tonight but too frequently wasted the opportunity with a misplaced pass or inaccurate cross. He gets a bit of grace because he is learning that side of the game, but that’s what separates him and Martial on the left.
5. That offside goal. No disputing the application of the rule, but the rule itself is bonkers. How on Earth it can be right that a player whose momentum slides him off the pitch can still be classed as playing the attackers onside is beyond me. If attackers not affecting the play aren’t given offside, I don’t see why defenders clearly not affecting the play should allow attackers to be onside.
6. Though that doesn’t mask the poor defending that lead to the goal. We can’t afford to give away chances like that in the derby because we will definitely be punished. Smalling needs to learn how to clear a ball – too many times his “clearances” didn’t ease any pressure and, in fact, invited more. Must do better.
7. I thought Mata had a good game in midfield too. I don’t expect he’ll start against City but it was good to get him minutes. His biggest detractor is his lack of pace, but he makes the most of his intelligence and ability in other ways. Some of his play tonight was excellent.
8. It’s testament to his recent impact that we looked worse for the absence of Lingard. Rashford was good leading the counter but I feel like we could have been even more clinical if he’d be on instead of Mata, just for the pace he brings. He’ll definitely start the derby.
All in all, not a bad night (and thanks to the turnaround, my acca came in for £90). Top of the group, some good teams avoided and we maintained a bit of momentum going into the weekend. I won’t be holding my breath for more than a draw despite what some of my fellow fans claimed in the mailbox today, but at least we’ve given ourselves a bit of a lift.
Clatts more like it
I wanted to share my thoughts on what I see as a genuine football story. Mark Clattenberg’s comments seem to have gone relatively unnoticed, especially in the mailbox over the last couple of days. Although most media outlets have published stories leading with attention grabbing headlines such as how he “allowed Tottenham to self-destruct”, I think the real story here is about how he went into that match with a gameplan not to give any big decisions against Tottenham. It’s not about whether he tried to make the game about himself, or otherwise. In my opinion, his intentions are clear – he wanted to protect his own reputation at all costs. He saw that as being more important than performing his duties correctly, and because (in his opinion) Tottenham weren’t going to win the league anyway, he didn’t want to give the fans an opportunity to make him their scapegoat.
I am a Chelsea fan, and I’m just as biased towards my own club as everyone else, but that’s not what this is about. I really don’t want this to come across as sour grapes, because it’s not. That was a nothing game for Chelsea, and the financial impact is pretty insignificant to Abramovich. As a reminder of some of the things that happened in that game as a consequence of Clattenberg’s conscious choice not to officiate that game correctly:
– Players’ safety was put in danger due to the nature of challenges that went unpunished throughout that match. This was in the build up to a major international tournament in which many of the players in question were due to play.
– Chelsea were fined £375,000 by the FA for failure to control their players (essentially for reacting to the persistently dangerous tackles).
– Tottenham were fined £225,000 on similar charges (although I think this related to the number of bookings they received rather than the general chaos that followed, so possibly not Clattenberg’s fault)
– Chelsea lost out on an additional £1,300,000 on premier league prize money which they would likely have gained through having won that game if Tottenham had finished with seven or eight payers, as Clattenberg himself suggests they could have done were it not for his gameplan.
– One player had his eye gouged.
– A 69 year old manager was shoved off of a 3ft ledge into one od the dugouts.
At the time I thought this was the single worst refereeing performance I had ever seen, but in light of recent comments this must constitute negligence. Ignoring the accumulative £1,900,000 direct financial impact, imagine if a player had broken a leg. Imagine if Costa had been blinded. Imagine if Hiddink had hit his head and died. Dramatic, I know, but not unrealistic. And to top it off, Clattenberg appears to be bragging about his performance during that match. He’s bragging about how his gameplan worked, about how he won that battle and Spurs lost.
My closing gripe is that Clattenberg currently holds two roles in the refereeing community (according to his own twitter account); one as the head of refereeing in Saudi Arabia, and one as Academy Director at an online media outlet You Are The Ref, who aim to “provide unrivalled analysis, education and insight to colleagues seeking to achieve the standards they set for themselves”. How can he be the right man to conduct either of those roles now?
Adam H, CFC
Have I missed mailbox discussion of Mark Clattenburg’s comments? Why does there not seem to be more of an uproar over a former referee openly admitting that he bent the rules, and in some cases potentially risked the safety of the players on the pitch, for the sake of a narrative (in the case of the Spurs game), or because he was intimidated (in the case of Roy Keane)? Why have I not seen the FA distance themselves from the comments, emphasising that they do not condone that sort of officiating?
Actual top ten worst top-six players
I’m not sure I understood the logic behind some of the picks for ‘the ten worst players in the top six‘.
Klavan and Sissoko, all day long. Xkaha too I can see being on there, not sure what he brings to a football pitch apart from trying to look hard (he’s the type who puts a huge exhaust on his polo and gets tinted windows).
Some of the others seemed to be picked because they’re slgithly out of form. Luiz was picked because he had a few bad games and got injured, at the same time a squad player has done well – bit harsh to say Luiz is one of the worst players in the top six teams, especially when you don’t include Lovren on the list.
Can’t say I agree with Ali being on their either, again he was picked because he’s having a bad run of form – but he’s still Spurs’ second highest goalscorer. Eriksen hasn’t scored or assisted in a billion games and is knackered as football365 keeps pointing out. Why wasn’t he picked? And going off the logic from the Luiz pick, when Kane has his customary six week injury does that mean he becomes one of the worst players in the top six? Because he’ll be out injured like Luiz and not scoring like Ali. Hmm.
Most baffling was Dier. He got picked because his manager relies upon him too much. You what?
The Mata decision similarly didn’t make much sense to me either.
In the end it seemed to be a mix of “the ten worst players in the top six and the ten most out of form players in the top six”.
If you want the top ten worst players, you cannot overlook: Lovren, Mignolet, Moreno, Henderson, Monreal, Koscielny (Arsenal fans will explode but everytime I see him (which isn’t that often), he’s making mistakes that cost Arsenal goals) Coquelin, Fellani and Mangala. Maybe 2 of the last 3 haven’t played enough to qualify.
Do it again and do it properly.
2+2 = …
Big Sam takes charge at Everton.
Big Sam wants forward options.
Ex Everton great Tim Cahill leaves Melbourne with immediate effect.
Tim Cahill can head a ball.
Big Sam plays “direct” football….
Ronald Koeman probably has a house on merseyside he wants to sell/rent…
See you soon Tim…
Wolf (any players that dives gets 3 matches – video analysis allowed), York
Adam Smith Institute
We usually hear around this time of the week if anyone has been charged with offences from the previous round of Premier League fixtures. This has included diving (Oumar Niasse) and violent conduct (Troy Deeney). However, so far I haven’t heard anything about Adam Smith.
For those of you who didn’t see, Adam Smith was booked against Southampton on Sunday for diving when it was as clear a penalty as you are likely to see. According to Smith the referee even apologised after the game. The issue here is that Smith will now be suspended for picking up his fifth booking of the season. Surely if Niasse can be suspended for two games for deceiving the referee to gain an advantage then the FA should be big enough to rescind Smith’s booking on this occasion?
Micki ‘not holding my breath’ Attridge
Long time reader, first time writer etc etc. I feel a bit bad being negative with my first email as I love the site, however I felt I had to take issue with yesterday’s Mediawatch.
What do you have against Lampard that makes you say that Silva is ‘a far better footballer’? Silva probably does have more natural talent, but to call him far superior to a midfielder with 178 premier league goals seems like you’re being needlessly controversial and negative about an English player just to oppose the red tops. Lampard took his natural talent and worked hard to get himself to the top of the game, personally I think that should be applauded.
You cite their assist records (a fair point, Silva is certainly more creative), but then competely ignore Lampard’s far superior goal record. It all just seems a bit weird to state your controversial opinion as fact, in a bit where you’re deriding a journalist for his opinion.
Anyway rant over, aside from Mediawatch I love the site so keep up the good job!
A F365 love letter
To my love F365. Let me start by saying I love you. The affection I have for you is incomprehensible. You know much like it was impossible to understand how Bayern Munich thrashed PSG.
I must confess though. Meeting you was pure luck. I didn’t go to any dating site or looked for love, but somehow, like Chelsea’s draw today, I just bumped on you, and just like that, what was me, became we.
We have grown to love and hate in equal in equal measure. We constantly demolish sport journalists in mediawatch, talk about their questionable trousers right after winning an award (gloating in 3D), read mails as soon as they are published etc. Who would want to go to movies or a date (or work), it does not get more romantic and interesting than this.
Haters will tell you I love ManUnited more than you. Don’t believe what you hear. Yes, I never miss a game, but I always tell you my views of it. Sometimes you act bitchy and dont “mail ’em” but sometimes you just give me a boner by having my name on the mails, like today, with this mail.
I love you like the bench loves Luke Shaw, with all your flaws. Are you ABU? Probably. Are you rooting for ManCity? Maybe. Are you anti-Mourinho? Definitely. But do I hate you no, when we exchanged vows, for better for worse was our mantra and you and I are a loyal breed
You sometimes (on inspired form) speak on more important issues, like mental health, racism, sexism and how De Gea can save the “Universe, stars, galaxies and stuff”.
My love for you will constantly rejuvenate like Linderlof, Young and Martial’s form. I will be dynamic and unpredictable akin to Pogba. I will defend you like Matic, with pace like Rashford and the strength of Lukaku and Valencia combined. But when our love dares to fail let’s not worry, we have David de Gea, he can save anything.
Remember, just like CSKA scored via offside, am willing to be questionable but be forever yours.
Oh and realise that English is not my first language. Be editing my mails so I stop being seen as a douche, I have a reputation to protect.
PS. The Devils were on the Double today.
Many loves my love F365.
Elvince Ager (The Certified United Fanatic) Nairobi.
Your first time
In answer to JJ, Suffolks great question…
The first professional game I ever watched live was Milan vs (brain didn’t store the opposition) at the San Siro. I remember entering the stadium, at 8 years old, with my parents and my brothers, wide-eyed and full of awe. The size of the place, the baying of the enormous crowds, I don’t think I’d ever even seen that many people in one small space before, the verdant grass and the shrill whistling. We stood somewhere near where the two sets of fans could properly hurl insults (and projectiles) at each other so I was equal parts terrified and.. well.. terrified, but it didn’t detract from the occasion. There was an old geezer standing next to me who shouted himself hoarse in a beautiful tirade before the referee blew for half-time. Italian is such a beautiful language.
I don’t remember much of the football itself, I was too blown away by the raw energy and visceral delights of the stadium and its inhabitants, the flares, the chants, the hurled insults, the crowd erupting in fury when the opposition scored, and leaping around in ecstacy when Milan spanked one in.
I was hooked.
Outside the ground I cajoled my parents into buying me an A.C Milan cap and wallet and scarf. And to this day I am a (paper) supporter of Milan.
Did this experience sour my times at Underhill when my brother used to take me to watch Barnet plying their trade in the Vauxhall Conference? Did it sully my time at Highbury when I watched us (Arsenal not Milan) scrape past Oldham in a scrappy 2-1 FA Cup win? Did it f##k. It opened my eyes to the what football could be, what the highs could be – though sadly not the lows. If I hadn’t been to one of the greatest stadia on the planet before I even hit secondary school, all those Panini albums would have felt empty, all that fantasy football bartering would have held no lustre, and scoring a last-minute goal just before the teacher blew the whistle to end lunch break wouldn’t have been the title-clincher against Internazionale.
Go big, see the best, better when young. There’s nothing like it.
Alay (I never scored a last-minute goal), N15 Gooner
Great question from JJ in Suffolk about whether his friend’s first football experience being at the Nou Camp will feel amazing or normal. My wife’s first football match was the flippin’ River Plate v Boca Juniors derby in 2007 while she was working in Argentina. For a long time, I wanted to take her to an Accrington Stanley game but she herself was concerned about ruining her 100% record of seeing “bucket list” games!
Eventually, I convinced her to accompany me to see Barcelona play Almeria at the Nou Camp in 2015, so we could say we have witnessed Lionel Messi in the flesh (and so I could try to smuggle Suarez and Mascherano back to Anfield). And we had the perfect view for a classic Messi goal – saw him cut in from the right and curl it into the top left corner, and we saw it from over his shoulder. Or rather, I saw it. Because after a good few minutes of me saying to my wife that she has seen something special, she confessed that she didn’t actually see the goal because she was distracted by two bats flying around overhead…
So, my thoughts are: your friend will probably love it and will realise that it is a special place for his first football experience, but you must make sure he pays attention to the pitch and not to the nearby wildlife.
Neil (maybe the Anfield Cat could take her attention away from a typical Liverpool defensive set-piece atrocity?) Weatherston Sharma, Edinburgh
REVEALED: The Manchester derby
“All of this happened. More or less.” – Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse Five,1965.
After the beautifully ugly United win last week at Arsenal, there were two questions on everyone’s mind. Can they keep up the Alamo against City? And how in hell do we have a chance without Pogba?
So, while Mourinho is probably making a creative list of injury/suspension related excuses he can use for the pre-match press conference, (and of course stating that everyone would agree that he had no choice but to go for an attack minded 6-4-0 formation) I decided to find a way to actually go win the damn thing. Without Pogba. On Fifa 17. On my laptop. In the middle of f***ing nowhere. (The wifi is decent.)
Pre-match Analysis: Lets face it, without Pog, the only way we were gonna win the damn thing, was by pulling off a surprise. So i included Luke ‘played 177x more playstation minutes this season than actual on-pitch minutes, if any’ Shaw. And of course Mkhi, who i’m gambling on to be better than our spanish midfield blogger, even on current form, and the Armenian’s history of having the self confidence of a 62yr old ugly 300pound career hooker. But yeah, I expect him to have the game of his life, and counter the magician element of De Bruyne and Silva. Lets face it, I’m banking on everyone having the game of their life. Which is not hard, if Lionel ‘Love-Me/Hate Me’ Jessi and Ashley ‘8/10 every once in four years’ Young are having their week’s of their lives. And De Gea has been like he’s playing for his life since he lost Vidic and Rio. So it’s plausible that others step up to the plate. Game on.
Strategy: I shan’t go into details or formation specifics, except the important mentions. Pogba is obviously swapped out to the reserves. So we have a midfield of Ander Herrera-sment (Tactic included in name) and Nemanja ‘I wish the other Nemanja was here too’ Matic. Mkhi in the hole, with Martial and Rashford instructed to have the games of their lives on either wing. Lukaku having the game of his life at this point, would equal putting in a half decent performance, but he still starts because he’s slightly quicker than Zlatan, stats wise atleast, and is due some good fortune. Yes, we’r counting on the spiritual here too. So its a 4-2-3-1. Young and Lingard miss out because their stats suck on Fifa, and real world spirit doesn’t count. So i’m gonna have to leave emotion aside with them. Shaw and Valencia start. Bailly and someone else starts. Someone else better be above average.
The only way Fellaini gets into the stadium, is in a suit. And not the track kind. I considered putting him in there, to nullify/counter the threat of De Bruyne, and by nullify I meant absolutely annihilate in a knee crushing Keane-esque tackle to end his game season and career, but then i realised virtual De Bruyne may have a wife and kids too. And I shouldn’t wish that on anyone, and that i’m not a serial killer. Even with the tempting tactical advantage after the planned on pitch assassination, would be the fact that City would virtually (no pun intended) lose combined 3 players in the De Bruyne, while we would lose only 1/18th of a player in Fellaini. But no. This is football not war. And even war isn’t as bad as Fellaini. Not on my watch.
Game Mode: Legendary. Because we’r coming up against a legendary team.
Half Length- 8 mins. Because that beer won’t finish itself.
Strategy- Another surprise. Tiki-Taka. Lets take the game to them, only literally though. Keep passing the ball in triangles, and don’t let a City player even close. Maximum width.
NOTE: After few restarts, because of a red card under 10mins, and a goal against me with City’s first bloody play.
Tiki-Taka works. It’s Bailly and Jones, because my real world counter part Jose believes in him, and because everyone elses stats are pretty much the same. It’s pretty much all them and David De Gea, and three guys pretty much assaulting a City player every time we lose possession.
27mins into the game, and we’r still surviving, albeit one scare from Sane’s horrendous finishing. Camera pans to Pep, raising his hands is exasperation. Virtual Pep is clearly very flustered. This was something he did not expect.
The game progresses the same way up until the 87th minute. The tactic of “if they dont have the ball, they ain’t got sh*te on us” tactic seems to be working. It’s still nil nil, but since half time, we’ve been dominating possession, stats still stand at 82-18%. 76% of that and contributed by the back 5, with a few touches up the pitch just to scare City a little, and the warn them that we will not simply sit back and do the sum of zero and sweet f**kall, and we are quick incisive and lightning quick in attack! Then we send it back to De Gea and sit back and tiki again. Camera points to Virtual Pep being frustrated again. I consider this a tactical victory. Camera also pans to a grumpy Virtual Mou, shaking his head. I assume in a euphoric ecstatic kind of way that the picture doesn’t quite show. As the game wears on, we grow in confidence, and actually start putting out of boredom counter attacks together. LuLu gets a surprise cross into the box, swerves around the defender to make space for the shot, and hits one of those crap stratosphere hits. And this one time when nothing but a mental block stopped me from scoring when 1 on 1 with the keeper, probably because I didn’t think I’d even get this far. Or because the righteous man in me felt it would be wrong to score, after 3 restarts, so i’d give one in return.
We get to the 87th minute. I pause the game. Reach for the once mentioned beer. I feel proud of the whole mental challenge of keeping my sh*t together, and not being tempted for the fancy, the outrageous, or the exotic, which i’d usually attempt on my semi-pro level, where i am accustomed to winning 23-0, with 18 Goal of the season contenders. I’m proud of my team, for keeping their sh*t together, and working as one cohesive unit. Almost as if they were controlled by a singular god-like being, who had their fate in his fingers, on a laptop or something.
I take another sip of my beer, and feel proud again. A tactical masterclass. Virtual Gary Neville would praise the sh*t out of me when this is done. I resume playing, taking cocky beer breaks.
92nd minute. City gain possession. De Bruyne scores a screamer from outside the box. Whistle goes off at the restart. City win 1-0. With 18% possession. Virtual Pep jumps with joy.
– It ain’t over till it’s over.
– Life is like Stevie Wonder’s left testicle. It’s not fair, and it’s not right.
– Maybe sometimes, just maybe, Fellaini is the way.
Stig “reads Mailbox every day, writes in once a year” Archer, MUFC.