Abramovich the scapegoat, Man Utd should keep Rangnick and…

Date published: Monday 28th February 2022 2:28 - Editor F365

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

Is Roman Abramovich a scapegoat? Should Man Utd keep Ralf Rangnick for another season? Have Leeds been found out? And lots more debate…

Keep your thoughts coming to theeditor@football365.com


Abramovich the scapegoat
Does anyone actually read the news or analysis before wading in on punishing Chelsea and Roman for the war in the Ukraine? Did he have corrupt and morally dubious business practices? Yes, no doubt.

He bought shares from workers after the collapse of the USSR at lower than market value but for more money than most of the workers had ever seen, at a time they didn’t know if they would keep their jobs and salaries were never paid on time.

He bribed politicians for access, which was standard practice for politicians and police to be corrupt. At the time UK visitors were advised that trumped up charges by the police was common practice and to keep spare cash to pay off the police.

So based on today’s standard he was corrupt, but at the time in Russia is was seen as normal.

Now, going onto what he has done since, he left Russia, and moved most of his assets out of the country. Settled in the UK for the most part until we removed his visa and he became an Israeli citizen due to his Jewish background.

He is also one of the few Russians trying to help the Ukraine negotiate with Russia after the Ukrainians reached out to him through the Jewish community.

PS going to someone’s birthday party in 1999 doesn’t make you chums.
Rich (not actually a Roman spokesperson and can’t speak a word of Russian)


Why is everyone going in on Chelsea?
First I’d like to prefix this mail by stating I’m a Liverpool fan from the city of Liverpool, I say this because my view seems to be a lot different to my brethren.  Why is everybody going in on Chelsea? I know I should see it as an opportunity to stick the boot in too but I honestly hate it. Chelsea as a football club haven’t decided to invade Ukraine have they? Abramovich wasn’t on Putins war council when they decided to invade. Chelsea and it’s owner have nothing to do with the war in Ukraine so why are the snowflakes saying they won’t watch Chelsea anymore “because Ukraine”? This attitude is indicative of the times we’re currently in, this cancel culture nonsense that has no room for facts or nuance just optics.

Just watch the footy lads, it’s there to take your mind of the horrors of war, not exacerbate it.
MickT Liverpool


Chelsea have no moral ground to say anything
Dear editor.

I would just like to point out that anyone who has worked for Chelsea, be it a player, member of staff, manager or front office worker (current or ex) has absolutely no right to say anything about supporting Ukraine when they wilfully took money from a man who is a close political ally to Putin.

None of them can feign ignorance. The whole world has known for years how Abramovich got rich, who he was associated to, and which regime he has supported since the day he landed in London and bought the club.

They were happy to meet and pose for pictures with him despite knowing he’s a key member of a kleptocracy that has consistently threatened stability in Europe and the world and yet they chose to look past it in order to further their own careers and fund their lavish lifestyles.

Anyone of them who posts anything on social media to asking to stop the war and free Ukraine needs to first look in the mirror and understand how their decisions to work for Chelsea has helped legitimised a crook and a thief who has propped up a dangerous despot for decades.

If Chelsea fans had any decency they would boycott their club until it is no longer owned by Abramovich.

F*ck him and all those who rode with him.

Kind regards,
Buckethead (the better team lost the final yesterday but I’m glad they didn’t get to celebrate considering the past 4 days)


Keep Rangnick as manager for next season
The chances of Man United securing 4th in the league took another blow with the draw against Watford at the weekend. Given the games in hand, form of other teams around us, and difficulty of games left to play it seems highly unlikely United will be playing Champions League football next season. Missing out this time is going to hit very hard and could be far more detrimental to the team in the long run than the other times we finished 5th or worse.

United’s finances are not looking good these days. Every club took a hit because of Covid but it seems to have been worse at United. Pre-pandemic revenue was at €711m but last reports has this at €580m now which, though still 4th overall, basically puts the club on par with Liverpool, City, and PSG. When considering the debt repayments, shareholder dividends, and general incompetence in the transfer market then in real terms the club is currently 7th at best. Missing out on UCL money for next season is a big deal and will see the club fall further, possibly being overtaken by Chelsea, Juventus, and maybe even Tottenham in terms of revenue. So glad we’ve got all these bankers running the club eh.

It is possible to be successful in the Premier League and Europe without being one of the biggest earning clubs though this requires a level of management, planning, and commitment not seen at United in a long time. Given the squad additions required along with the multiple contracts coming to an end this season I can’t see any scenario where the Glazers invest the kind of money that will be required to make the team competitive next season, and multiple years without UCL money would be disastrous.

So given all the above I don’t think this would be a very good time to get a new manager. Doesn’t matter who it is, new managers need time and money and United can afford neither. In my mind this leaves only one option. Keep Rangnick as manager for next season. As I’ve said in previous mails I think he’s doing a good job overall, the team are playing better and look more resilient. He’d also be best placed to select some affordable players for transfer that would actually improve the team and then know how to play them. At this point I’d be more confident in Ralf getting us back into the top 4 next year than I would Poch or Ten Hag.
Dave, Manchester

Man Utd boss Ralf Rangnick walks along the touchline

Penalties et al…
Liverpool was correct in getting Mo Salah to take the fifth penalty.  Statistically, the chances of missing a penalty increase as you go further into the shoot-out.  If you miss the last penality, then more often than not, you are going to lose.  However, missing the first gives you a chance to recover.  However, most teams will always put their best players first, such as Harry Kane in the Euro 2020 shoot out.  This is wrong as those that have the most experience in taking a penalty in a high-pressure situation have the most ability to deal with the stress, pressure and massive self-doubt that goes with such a thing.  Coaches will always err on the side of caution as if you pick a couple of players who miss and Mo Salah/Harry Kane is left without a penalty to take, then you look like an absolute fool.  It’s a bit like putting on a specialist penalty goalkeeper who fails to understand that over 80% of penalties go the natural way (for a goalkeeper’s right for a right-footer and left for a left-footer), unless the run-up is straight, then they go the opposite way.  Just look out for that next time you see a penalty.
Ben C

Just shy of conspiracy?
It is a conspiracy, it’s not, it might be, is it? isn’t it?

I’m afraid the best days of football have now passed us by.  It has got to the point where we are finding it hard to trust the game.
The introduction of VAR was supposed to be a good thing.  I’m sure its main aim was for disallowed goals when the ball clearly crosses the line.  Apparently, there is a sensor in the ball for this, so why do we need this corrupt system?

Because of the cries for VAR by the so-called experts, we now have to suffer the consequences. By so called experts I mean an ex-player of a team who just had a slightly bad decision go against his former team.

VAR is like Brexit, let’s just go on about the good things it will bring but don’t mention the really bad stuff that will suck the life out of you.
When you combine it with some of the ludicrous additional rules, like the flag not being raised for offside until that passage of play is over, no idea what the heck that is meant to do? We look back to a few recent decisions that have been checked by some old blokes in an office at the end of Butt *uck nowhere Street. The list could be a book in itself.

At Old Trafford in the cup against Notts Forest.  The ball hits the attacker’s hand in the area, accidently or not that touch gained control of the ball, but because he passed it before the goal, the goal stands. That happens anywhere else on the pitch and it’s a foul.

Last weekend, City get a Penalty because the ball hit the defender’s arm which was deemed to be in an un-natural position. Please explain what an un-natural position is? As a human, this is arms down with hands almost touching the hips.  Has anyone ever tried running like that? tackling? Jumping? or like the Spurs guy did, slide across to block the ball.  What is classed as un-natural? You jump, your arm goes up, its physics.
Then, City again against Everton, more on that later.

Then there are the goals now being disallowed because of interference of a defender by an attacker regardless of that attacker touching the ball.  There are extremes of this happening, in which it’s almost a wrestling match and refs have done a pretty good job of that on their own. We’ve had 2 instances recently where perfectly legitimate goals ruled out.  Varane had one where Maguire apparently blocked a defender and yesterday in the Final VVD apparently did the same.  If defenders know that this is going to happen, despite being nowhere near getting to the ball, are they not just going to be running into an attacker and falling over?  VAR will check it and the goal will be chalked off.

But does VAR have more despicable reasons for its introduction?

VAR takes away the power of the referee team during the game. No doubt about that.  By the looks of it, the refs have been told to allow anything and everything to go ahead that might lead to a goal.  Then leave it up to some nobody, who is not even in the ground to decide if the goal should stand, or penalty given.  This can lead to bias and unfair decisions. If this oh so powerful VAR team have to watch replay after replay, in slow motion from every angle, then the on-field decision should stand.  Is it clear and obvious, I won’t use the word mistake, so, is it a clear and obvious human error?  If the VAR team need to watch more than 2 replays (from the Refs and assistants’ angle) at game speed, then it is not a clear and obvious human error and play should carry on with the on-field decision.  This should take 20 seconds.

But no, after sometimes 3-5 minutes reviews, they then call upon the Ref to go pitch side to make another decision because they can’t work it out. Then it’s obviously not a clear error.It’s like they are watching it over and over again just to try and find something to either allow or disallow a decision. I’m sure that if you watch something that much, you’ll always find a way to find something. Therefore, not a clear human error.

So, VAR can be used to create excitement and dare I say it, fix results.  I’m not saying they do fix it, but to give more favourable decisions one way or another to create a narrative, is quite a simple thing to do.

The City Everton game.  I am not saying that should or shouldn’t be a penalty.  We are doing exactly what VAR is doing and watching it back from different angles in slow and super slow motion.  Things look remarkably different in slow motion and zoomed in, but, if that is not given as a Penalty by the VAR team then City should not have got a Penalty against Spurs. So, the VAR team have directly influenced the result of that game and if it hadn’t had been for Kane scoring in the last minute, they would have influenced that result as well. We used to say Refs influenced games, VAR takes it to the extreme.

The power that these players hit the ball, I challenge anyone to be able to move their arms out the way from an 80mph ball at 6 yards distance.  Fair enough if the defender is in a Goal keeper stance then yes, but a genuine challenge?

We have cases now where a player is putting his hands in front of his face to stop him needing a nose job and that is deemed a penalty.  His hands are in an un-natural position, which is madness as that is the most natural position you’ll ever get. Never heard anyone say ‘Go on, smash me in the face and I won’t move’  Some say they should just take the solid ball being smacked at them in the mush, those same people also go on about ‘OH there is a head injury we need to stop play’ The hypocrisy is startling.

We now get offside for a couple of centimetres, which is not a clear human error.  We get goals scored that due to the stupid rules are allowed to stand and other goals that are disallowed for something that has no impact on the passage of play.  Because they’ll keep looking to find something.
How is it that if an attacker can gain control of the ball in the area with their hand accidently 😉 but as long as he passes it before the goal, it stands.  Yet if a defender touches the ball with his hand accidently whilst sliding across the floor, it’s a stone-cold penalty? However, this all depends on which team is playing which team and how much excitement and or media clicks the Premier League wants to create that brands their league as ‘The best in the world’

In the times we live in, VAR is here to stay, the world football nutjobs won’t change their minds and admit it has failed.  But the simple solution would have been.
Touches an attacker’s hand, no matter the circumstances then it is a foul. Who would have thought?
On the defender’s part, if it is a genuine accident, like protecting their face, or sliding across the ground, you know what I mean erm common sense, then instead of a Penalty, a free kick is awarded. The defender should have some benefit of the doubt.
Introduce more officials. Instead of one assitant for each half have 2 and put one behind the goal as well.  Or even better, have 2 central refs, 1 for each half.  Younger refs wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.  We have a top athlete’s in their prime, some who struggle to play 90 minutes, but the ref who is in his 40’s can keep up with play?

All in all, VAR is something that has ruined the game.  The introuction of more and more ridiculous rules is ruining the game.  Football is a simple game that has been corroded away by beauracratic bulls*it.
Mike (Thinking I need a surname)


Weekend update
Dear Football365,

Penalty shoot outs would be better if teams started with their weakest taker and worked upwards in ability. That way, the pressure is all on the supposed best takers, but this idea is as impractical as it is fun.

*Having beaten the actual Roy Hodgson in midweek, Crystal Palace faced the side who most resemble his Eagles team on Saturday. The previous meeting between Burnley and Palace had been one of the least likely 3-3 draws of this or any season, so a quieter offering seemed more likely this time.

*Patrick Vieira made a bold call to start without a striker, instead trying to capitalise on the excellent link-ups between Conor Gallagher, Michael Olise and Wilfried Zaha. The theory was presumably to try to drag Burnley’s centre-backs out of position and use speed of movement instead of engaging in aerial duels.

Sean Dyche, meanwhile, deployed a 4-4-2 with a big striker alongside their most skilful forward, a former England winger with a track record of pacey dribbles and spectacular goals on the right, and generally a group of players who relish the physical battles. A bit like Hodgson’s Palace side. This is why they will stay up, but also why Burnley fans will enjoy football less than they otherwise might.

*This was also this season’s Typical Palace TM. An early goal from Jeffrey Schlupp – courtesy of Olise, should have been the start of a dominating performance, but a second goal never came, despite Zaha and Olise coming close. This gave the Clarets confidence to get back into the game, and they themselves had some good chances.

*Luka Milivojevic remains the player most likely to raise the ire of some sections of Palace fans. In the side to provide defensive reinforcement to the midfield, his main contribution to the game came in the first minute of the second half. With Burnley moving the ball forwards, the Serbian initially doesn’t get close enough to Aaron Lennon to make a tackle, and then ignores him as he moves across the field. When the ball is crossed in towards Jay Rodriguez, Lennon runs through the area where Milivojevic should have been, and in his attempts to make up ground, he slides to intercept the cross at the near post. With the benefit of hindsight, he didn’t need to slide in because the target of the cross (Rodriguez) was covered by Marc Guehi, and having made that decision, he needed to make proper contact with the ball. Everyone makes mistakes, but when a player as experienced as Milivojevic is making errors of judgement, questions will be asked.

The Clarets seized the momentum from this, having a second goal ruled out for offside, and to give them credit, almost punished the hosts for their profligacy in the first half.

*Ultimately, a draw was a fair result. Palace were better in the first half, Burnley for most of the second, and Palace looked more likely to snatch a winner in stoppage time. The Clarets continue to Hodgson/Dyche their way to safety and the Eagles remain in midtable, not quite safe from relegation yet, and knowing that if they didn’t concede so many soft goals, they’d be far closer to (but not actually in) the European places. Funny old game, Saint.

*The current form of Joelinton – or at least, the goalscoring exploits to make his consistent hard work – make this the perfect time to remind everyone of how little involvement players actually have in the amount of money spent to acquire their services. It was not his fault that Newcastle United paid as much as they did to sign him, so criticising him purely on the basis of his transfer fee is unfair.

*Possibly the most predictable reaction to Marcelo Bielsa’s sacking came from Richard Keys and Andy Gray, and their insistence that Leeds United should contact Sam Allardyce “and say we only have one objective – just get us safe!” Maybe they should call Big Bird instead of Big Sam. Today’s mail is brought to you by the letters W, B and A.

It’s entirely understandable that United would terminate his contract based on the team’s form, but it’s also disappointing we will miss the wholesome content provided by Bielsa and his interpreter interacting. Bielsa deserves praise for the way he got that United squad promoted, but he deserves greater praise for the way he has got people in Leeds back in love with their team. It’s not just because they started winning, but for the way he became an ambassador for the club. From the moment he arrived he seemed to have all the time in the world for United fans, something apparent even after he had lost his job yesterday.

*James Milner became the oldest player to appear in a cup final for Liverpool yesterday, but he wasn’t the only golden oldie (upsettingly Milner is a year younger than me) in the headlines this weekend. Milner has a long way to go to catch Paul Bastock, who holds the record for the most appearances in the English football pyramid. Currently he’s assistant manager at Kettering Town, who lost a bad tempered game against Boston United at the weekend. They frequently surrounded the referee at everything that didn’t go their way, and from what I could see on the video highlights, for at least one penalty shout, the referee appeared to do an excellent job of explaining why it wasn’t a spot kick. Town were reduced to ten men when a player received a second yellow card for a clear dive, despite what their snide Twitter account said about it, and finished with nine when a player won the ball but with his follow-through scissored the knee of an opponent and was shown a straight red card. More surroundings, more protestations followed. Bastock was shown a yellow card for dissent on the sideline and a second followed for sarcastically clapping. It’s a stupid rule, but not a new one. Before play could resume, first team coach Joe Simpson was shown a straight red card, presumably for abusive language.

Hopefully the FA will take a dim view of these proceedings and hand out severe punishments to Kettering for failing to control their players, but especially to Bastock, who appears to square up to the referee after being shown his red card. It was absolutely disgraceful to see, it must have been horrific for a referee (in that case at least) correctly applying the laws of the game, and worst of all, it’s precisely the sort of conduct that makes dullards insist players should have to address the referee as “Sir”.

What is it about the combination of weird, unnecessarily aggressive behaviour and Poppies?
Ed Quoththeraven


Leeds have been found out…
I’ll start off by saying I’m a Huddersfield fan so slightly biased but the mail from Tom about Leeds had me literally laughing out loud, specifically the brag about your 10 game unbeaten away record, in a season where every team had excellent away records because of no crowds, and winning the championship by 10 clear points.

Karen Carney got absolutely destroyed because of her factually correct statements about being helped to promotion due to Covid and how fatigue would catch up with you. What a surprise she was right, you’ve been totally found out and getting hammered every week.

I’m aware of towns shaky premier history and yes we got pasted but we never bragged about the ‘Leeds’ way. We just enjoyed the ride and now it might, just might, happen again.

Tom is just the tip of how Leeds fans are and why they’re despised across the country.

I’d love it if Leeds got relegated and Town went up in their place. Won’t happen but still would be very funny.
Sara Terrier and proud


More Related Articles