This is a cracking mailbox – on Mikel Arteta, Liverpool, Jadon Sancho and loads more. Send your views to email@example.com
Liverpool not spending money? I feel fine…
So I read the article by Tim Ellis about how Liverpool are doomed unless they spend money.
While there were parts which I agreed on the idea that you need to spend to win isn’t always true. The amount of money you spend isn’t nearly as important as making sure you spend it wisely (see: Barcelona, Manchester United, Juventus)
Our biggest problem last year wasn’t that we had bad players that needed replacing, it’s that we had to play our fifth and sixth-choice centre-backs (neither of whom would have been in the first-team squad otherwise) which meant that the midfield often sacrificed its creative input to help out the vastly inexperienced and not quite first-team-ready defence.
This had a knock-on effect that the forwards weren’t supported as much because midfield was constantly helping defence. This problem wasn’t caused by not buying defenders, it was caused by one being made out of paper, one getting an unlucky injury and one being flat out assaulted by Pickford. None of those scenarios could have been foreseen (well maybe Matip). Had we then spent huge sums of money on a defender (which we would because everyone would have rinsed us knowing how desperate we were) we’d have then had four CB all expecting to be first choice this season.
Personally speaking, I’m ok with us only spending what we earn. The club is working to make us earn more but these plans unfortunately coincided with a worldwide virus which meant we earned virtually nothing whilst also not being like City, Chelsea and United and being insulated to its effects. For them its business as usual but for us it meant tightening the purse strings. But we are making more income now than we were in the past – that’s progress.
We’ve won all the trophies we had hoped to win – that’s progress.
And we do all that while mostly playing decent football and being pretty fair about it (regularly top of the fair play league). We all know we aren’t a financial powerhouse and unless we trade the soul of the club (I know silly romanticism) to some rich foreign rights abuser/crook it’s not going to happen. The only people willing to be never ending sugar daddies are the ones who want to rehabilitate their image by essentially washing their finances through a club. Everyone who doesn’t fit that mould treats the club as a business and doesn’t allow never ending spending.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, money isn’t everything. And I’m not bothered if we can’t afford to resign a 38 year old player on highest wages at the club. I’m not bothered if we can’t slap £100m down on a player the team doesn’t really need. I am bothered that we play good football and try to conduct ourselves well.
Were still working on that last part. Which brings me to my final thing – please stop chanting stupid homophobic shit. This isn’t the 1980s (as much as most of the country wishes it was), knock it off and enjoy the football.
Actually, they are spending money on wages
Tim Ellis’ call that the Liverpool party is over is probably correct. While Chelsea and City have kicked on with smart squad additions since 2019, Liverpool has gone backward. Certain players have regressed (Firmino), a few players have kept the same level (Salah), and others have just disappeared due to injury (Gomez). What is really worrying is that Liverpool has just locked in this squad for the next 3-4 years by extending a bunch of contracts. Henderson is 31 and has just been awarded a 4-year contract!
The main reason the club doesn’t make new signings is that it has the fifth biggest wage budget in Europe. Of the four clubs that pay more, Barcelona and Real Madrid are financial disasters and City and PSG are owned by Gulf states.
A Madrid, Bayern, and Chelsea all pay less in wages. Yet each has stronger squads, while Liverpool’s squad is bloated with players who haven’t made the grade (Ox, Keita, Thiago), are too injury prone (Gomez, Matip), or whose best days are behind them (Firmino, Mane).
No love for Arteta
I think Mikel Arteta may be the first Arsenal manager during the time I’ve supported the club that I really don’t like.
I wanted Arsene gone by the end but it’s clear he was a gentleman. I always thought Unai and Bruce conducted themselves with class and despite the manner of his exit, it was George who restored the aura of the Arsenal coming to town.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty wrong with the club – from the Kroenkes to Edu to firing 50 members of staff and the club’s mascot but in Arteta we seem to have someone our inept owners will back at the expense of everything.
Arteta seems to lack any emotional intelligence – his treatment of players is disgusting and he comes across as if he thinks he is always right.
While Arsene played George’s defence for the first couple of years and got the best out of them, Arteta played three of Wenger centre backs against City as if to make the point that he hasn’t backed.
He puts a player in and if they don’t do exactly what he says or have a bad performance, it can’t be Arteta’s fault – it must be them so he
writes them off. I imagine there is a toxic atmosphere at that training ground and there are signs of it seeping out with Maitland Niles social media output and Willian’s exit.
When Arsene Wenger’s or George Graham’s title winners are celebrated, people only remember the Henrys, Adams or Rocastles but it’s worth remembering these managers also had to rely on the likes of Cygan, Groves and Grimandi – Arsenal haven’t had the best squad of players in the league since the 1930s. To be Arsenal manager you have to make the most of what you’ve got. Arteta seems to want to throw his toys out of the pram because he doesn’t have the best player in every position. It’s worth noting that if one of Arteta’s predecessors had adopted such an approach – he would never have played for the club in the first place.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Why have F365 shown Arteta patience?
Ved Sen (MUFC) called it right in yesterday’s mailbox. F365’s infatuation with Arteta is unfathomable.
Nothing quite drive home the point as the matchday 1 Early Loser article. It was Steve Bruce whose Newcastle side lost to a superior and better team in West Ham. This was after Arsenal limped to a pathetic defeat at Brentford in the Friday season opener.
This after spending more money than anyone else. It was a monumentally embarrassing result even for Arsenal’s current standards. The performance was even worse. They were out-thought and out-fought by a newly promoted side. And with it being the first match of a new season, they were metaphorically and quite literally the ‘Early’ losers. But no, F365 had to wait till Sunday to continue their campaign to get Bruce out of Newcastle.
(This really was just logistics – we had no writer working on the Friday night as it coincided with staff holidays. He would undoubtedly have been the early loser had somebody been working – Ed)
My best guess is F365 or some of their writers concluded pretty early that Arteta was going to be good. Their reasons probably had more to do with his Lego hair and sitting beside Pep for a bit than any tangible football related attributes (negative backs-to-the-wall defensive tactics to win the FA cup a la relegated Wigan doesn’t count much I’m afraid).
Now rather than admit their prediction was wrong or at least premature – he may still come good somewhere sometime or probably never but he’s certainly not good enough now – they’ve decided to double down and follow him down the rabbit hole.
In a way it’s quite funny to see how much bending over backwards people are willing to do just to avoid admitting being wrong. Calling out Arsenal, officials and players, but always cleverly withholding any direct personal criticism of Arteta’s managerial competence. Lines like “…he may not be the problem but he’s also not the solution”. No. Of course he’s not the solution to anyone’s problems. That’s blindingly obvious. But by burdening Arsenal with mediocre players like Cedric, Willian, Xhaka (FFS how did he get a renewal), and being, you know, a bit shit especially at managing the squad (Saliba comes to mind), he’s actively contributing to the problem.
Now one incredibly baseless and rather unfair punch line that was routinely thrown Solskjaer’s way during his darker days was that no club in the Premier League would swap their manager for him and apparently that damns United. It’s a rather juvenile assessment but I put the same to you now so you can understand the inherent folly of the argument.
Which club would swap their manager for Arteta now? I’m sure we have plenty of fans of non-Big Six clubs here. Would you take him over who you have now? Even Newcastle. In fact I doubt Nottingham Forest at the bottom of the championship would swap Chris Hughton for him.
It’s a funny game isn’t it?
Give Sancho a break
I see Jadon Sancho being used as the picture and caption for another masterful piece of baiting by the F365 team and here I am responding to defend Sancho and also to confirm that F365 has tried and tested formula of targeting “big club” supporters and getting a reaction out of them.
A winger makes a difference in a football team by either a) delivering great balls into the box between the opposition defence and their GK, or b) beating men in one on one duels and therefore opening up space for his attacking colleagues or creating space to strike at goal himself. Jadon Sancho has done this consistently since he was 19 years old but with two caveats to that “consistency”. The first is that he was playing in the Bundesliga where it is clearly not on the intensity level of the EPL (Haaland has ridiculous numbers *cough cough*); the second is that he typically plays below his ability until around November before he becomes almost unplayable.
There’s a pattern I have seen play out for young English players several times in my 30-odd years. They are built up to be smashed into the ground like some kind of pagan human sacrifice for the crops to reap a good harvest. Sancho has barely played 90 mins since joining for Manchester United. He is 21 years old and has clear talent for all to see but of course, since he hasn’t ripped a new one for defenders and smashed in goals and assists, he’s rather rubbish isn’t he?
My issue doesn’t quite lie with the fact that he has been disappointing so far (he has) but it lies with how quickly he is being shifted into the “pants” category instead of some levity being applied to the fact that he is in the top 1% of players in world football with the ability and statistics to prove it on the planet.
At 21, there is ample time for coaches in the club (and a certain Cristiano Ronaldo) to make him realise his safe passes and his reluctance to take his man on when in a one on one situation is actually a higher risk strategy than simply letting loose and risking losing the ball more often – that’s why Bruno Fernandes is so effective – he doesn’t give a toss about pass completion stats, he cares about making the one pass that changes the game’s result.
This mail was supposed to be short but I have failed in doing so. I would simply like to remind the mailbox and English fans in general that they never do any favours for their young players because they spit roast them while they are still learning their trade – Rooney, Sterling, Sturridge, Rashford, hell even Ben White is already getting it already. The ones that make it through the gauntlet of unrelenting abuse and unrealistic expectation are usually those with intense mental strength and those with strong squads surrounding them with management that is not under immense pressure for instant results.
Calm down and let a highly talented person find their feet in the most competitive football league in the world – he’s 21. Most of us who aren’t sportsmen were spending most of our time trying to find a broad to finger bang or to find a semblance of an adult daily routine at that age.
Mandisi (Manchester United fan buzzing with excitement about Ronaldo filling our CDM position)
If you could ask one question…
I’m sure I’m not alone in being frustrated when your club’s manager won’t simply just answer the bloody question. Managers can often turn a bit political in press conferences giving well-worn generic lines and rarely coming close to offering the insight fans crave. So if you had the chance to ask your manager one question, what would it be?
Lets say it’s a private conversation and to ensure honesty you’ve agreed to never repeat what is said, its purely to satisfy your own curiosity. You can ask anything, personal issues, tactical decisions, team choices, nothing is off the table.
To Ole I’d want to know only something he could answer so I’d ask about Donny Van De Beek. What is the plan with him? Why are you not playing him? There is obviously and decent player there who can play a number of midfield roles, technically gifted, good in possession, and has bulked up so he’s harder to dispossess. Why is he never on the pitch but Fred is always on the pitch? EXPLAIN!!! (I realise that’s a few questions but you get the idea)
What burning question would you want answered?
Dave, Manchester (2nd in Cathal’s league *muted fist pump*. All downhill from here)
Hey Zed Jones,
Willian is the worst high profile signing ever? Alexis Sanchez would like to have a word. Eliaquim Mangala is waiting to speak with you as well.
RP, MCFC (Mangala was the most expensive PL defender at the time!?!)
Cantona the greatest of all time?
On the question of the greatest transfer ever I have to put forward Eric Cantona from Leeds United to Man United for somewhere between £1m to £1.6m in November 1992.
There a few reasons why this should be considered the greatest transfer ever:
1) It wasn’t planned:
There wasn’t weeks or months of work gone into identifying Cantona as the missing piece for United, it was a completely off-the-cuff request from Ferguson, or Martin Edwards – both have claimed responsibility for it. Le Tissier, Hirst, and Deane were all sought before Leeds rang to ask about buying Denis Irwin and someone decided to just take a punt on seeing if Cantona was available.
2) It was initially identified as a good piece of business for Leeds:
He was considered a turbulent player and removing him from the squad was considered a good thing. Martin Edwards has since claimed Leeds lied about how much Cantona was sold for, to spare their blushes at selling him so cheaply but it just shows how willing Howard Wilkinson was to get rid of him.
3) It transformed United:
It, undoubtedly, allowed Man United to take the step from ‘also rans’ to ‘Champions’. United’s 1992/93 season is almost evenly halved between pre-Cantona and post-Cantona. They played 22 matches in all competitions before his first match and 28 after. Their record before he signed was 8 wins, 6 losses, and 8 draws (36.4% win rate). Their record after he signed was 19 wins, 3 losses, and 6 draws (67.9% win rate).
4) It was far from a certainty that it would be a success 1:
Cantona was, to put it mildly, regarded as having a bit of a volatile personality. He had an issue with another player or the manager in pretty much every team he played with. He punched a teammate in the face, threw his boots in the face of another, called his national team manager a “bag of sh*t”, received a three month suspension for a particularly bad tackle, threw the ball at a referee after being angered by a decision, and then called each member of the disciplinary committee an idiot.
5) It was far from a certainty that it would be a success 2:
United needed a goal scorer. In the three seasons before Cantona signed United’s top goal scorer scored 15, 21, and 25 goals in all games. Cantona wasn’t a prolific goal scorer. Prior to joining United he had scored 83 goals in 254 club games. At United he scored 82 goals in 185 games.
6) The next two decades were dominated by Man United:
It’s often said that Steve Bruce’s two goals versus Sheffield Wednesday in April 1993 are the most important goals in Premier League history as they pushed United on to win that first title and laid the success for everything that followed. The same can be said about Cantona’s transfer to United. If he doesn’t arrive when he does I don’t think United win that first title, and so don’t end up being the dominant force they did – especially as many of the young players coming through at that time credit Cantona for showing them what dedication it took to be a top level player. Plus, he knew when to walk away. I’m not sure United would have won the Treble in 1998/99 if Cantona hadn’t retired in 1997.
Who would be your Ronaldo?
It’s easy to wonder about the wisdom of the Ronaldo transfer. There are many questions that you can ask. Can he still cut it in the premier league? Will age finally catch up with him? Would be money be better spent in midfield? Will he stifle the development of young players?
However, if I was a United fan I wouldn’t care at all about any of that because RONALDO is coming back to Old Trafford. I can completely understand how giddy some fans are, because I would be exactly the same. An all time legend is returning to the club. If that doesn’t excite you, give up on football now.
It got me thinking, who would be your Ronaldo? Which player would you have taken back and loved to see for a couple more years at your club? No one is going to match Ronaldo, because no one else has left to become arguably the best player in the world, but who would you pick?
For me it would be Xabi Alonso. I would have loved to see him strutting his stuff in the middle of the park again. He was a pleasure to watch. What other mailbox readers? Who would you have taken back?
Mike, LFC, London
As a United fans, I haven’t felt this thrilled by a transfer window in a very long time. Despite the elation, I can’t shake a feeling of ‘why the f- has it taken so long to get a transfer window right?’
I think it really highlights what a terrible job Ed Turdwood did. There are so many transfer horror stories from his time in charge – you probably have your favorite. Mine is that we let Ander Herrera go to PSG on a free transfer and now we have a hole in midfield that he would perfectly fill.
It’s damning that now Turdwood is no longer overseeing transfers, we’ve signed Varane, Sancho and Ronaldo in the same window.
In short, Turdword is a turd and he has set Man United back more than anything else in the past 10 years.
(I wonder what Arsenal fans think about Edu)
Chuffed for Dan James
Genuinely pleased for Dan James if his move to Leeds goes through today; Bielsa wants him, his raw speed and energy should be a great fit for their style of play. If I was United I would insist on a wee buy back clause just in case. Reason being I am convinced that Bielsa will improve all those aspects of his game that leave him just below the level required at OT.
I do have to wonder though if he had gone to Leeds a few years ago, as looked certain at the time, he could well be on his way to United this summer with vastly improved playing time, having been coached by one of the game’s best and be a much better player for it. I think back to his performances for Wales in the Euros and he looked like a completely different animal. Pogba is much better for France, Maguire looks even better for England, Lindeloff for Sweeden, Fred for Brazil, Lingard for West Ham. It is almost as if the players improve quite dramatically when they are sent out onto the pitch with a gameplan…..
Anyway, I wish Dan James all the best and hope he is a massive success for Leeds.
Mangor United, Belfast
And for Man United
Manchester United are about to sell a player, FOR A PROFIT!!!! Dan James was brought in for a fee of £16m and will be leaving for a fee of £25m WITH ADD ONS!!! This feels so rare that it should be a sign of the apocalypse, carved into stone by South American sun worshippers, “there will be a great fireball fall from the sky, the seas will rise, and United will make money on a transfer”. Seriously though its good news. I’d have preferred Lingard to go but you take what you can, what James lacks in ability compared to Jesse he more than makes up for in work ethic and determination, he’ll do well at Leeds and good luck to him.