Keep those mails coming to email@example.com.
Why not Conte?
I would really like to hear from supporters of Arsenal, Spurs, and Man Utd, why they wouldn’t consider Antonio Conte as a replacement for their current manager. He’s won the league in the U.K. and Italy and did well as the manager of the Italian team.
Even as a short term manager, I think he would be better than their current managers or prospective future managers (Spurs – I don’t think Pochettino should go back). He’s a highly tactical manager and seems to motivate his players very well. He also works well with a limited budget. For me it’s a no brainer that he would be better than their current managers.
I’m not a fan of any of these clubs but I’d be really interested in what their supporters think.
Charles Heale (I’d love to see Conte at Newcastle, but doubt it will ever happen)
The Laporte solution
Everyone knows Manchester United are in need of a centre half. Every available centre half across Europe and beyond has been mentioned but could the answer be already under their noses. I am talking about Aymeric Laporte at Man City. He is no longer first choice at City and they may want to cash in on him. He is left sided which allows Maguire to move to the right. Its not impossible and would make sense as he doesn’t have to move to a new city and is an experienced PL player so wont need any settling in time.
Ken, Cork, Ireland
Sancho to Hypechester FC
I’m reading all the same reports about Utds transfer activity as everyone else and I can see a massive waste of money happening as usual. Jadon Sancho for instance, great young player who I like a lot but 80m? If you believe what you read Dortmund are looking at Hudson-Odoi as a replacement. I’m going to ask you this Man Utd fans, what’s the difference between these two players except 50m probably. You can bet your ass that Callum goes over to Germany and lights it up much like Sancho and Utd are in for him at an inflated price a couple of years down the line. Utd are being played once again. Not that Sancho isn’t good but because if you strip the hype away there are a lot cheaper options that would do the same job. Allowing Utd to strengthen key areas of the team like the spine. But instead they’ll spend 80m on Sancho, they will get a budget pau Torres and maybe stupidly blow another 100m on declen rice when there is so so many dms in the world that play at a similar level. But it’s hypechester fc.
Werner soft spot
I’ve a soft spot for Timo Werner. I’m not sure why. He’s missed a lot of chances this season and taken a lot of flak. Many have written him off already, despite 12 goals and 15 assists across in 52 games. The problem is last season’s numbers, 34 goals and 13 assists in 45 games. If you look at his stats, he hit 28 goals in the league against an xG of 20.8. That was never sustainable. He averages out a goal every other game, this season is just the counterpoint to last season’s over-achievement.
This is probably where the soft spot for him comes in. He is clearly an excellent player but he seems a bit shook and frustrated this season. There has been no lack of effort from him and you can see the impact each miss has. He made the runs, got into the right positions but, in a few too-many high-profile moments, the finish just wasn’t there.
Purely anecdotal but he seemed to hit it straight at the keeper a lot, he was getting shots on target but was so focused on it, that his placement was off. This meant his xG for this season in the league was 12.20. He scored 6. It seemed like he was trying to play himself back into form, or to kick-start his season with a few goals and it just didn’t work. He got spooked. You can see from his assist numbers that, after Christmas, he seemed to be more aware of this and focused more on laying the ball on for his team-mates and keeping himself out of the firing line.
He looks like a confidence player. It’s important to remember that he was shunted around by Lampard, across the front-line. That did not play to his strengths as an inside forward. I could be wrong but, if played centrally or just behind a central striker, it could all click next season. A few goals in the first five games could set him up for a 20 goal season. That said, put Lukaku on this team and play him facing the goal instead of lumping the ball at him, Chelsea would have to be favourites next year.
Kev (He’ll be on loan at Dortmund by Christmas, won’t he)
It doesn’t get better than this..
This sequence of unforgettable sporting satisfactions began when United made the fateful decision to “hand” Leicester their match at home playing a weakened starting XI to help them qualify to the UCL at Liverpool’s expense. The perfect plan to ruin our season was to field their strongest XI a few days later to provide Liverpool the ‘coup de grace’ and dance over our graves with no Champions League prospects. Well, we all know how that turned out. Not today, Satan!
And then, they lose a final that is impossible to lose against Villareal! A team based in a city none of us could even find on a map (be honest, don’t cheat!) A team w/o stars or flashy players; just hardened journeymen plying their trade to the best of their abilities. Before the match I was 99% sure Utd were going to win it and expected once they scored the first, they’d open the floodgates and cruise to victory. And yet, David knocks out Goliath with a penalty kick missed by one David. Fate loves irony. I threw myself to the ground in disbelief and for sure was not the only one.
And yesterday, the cherry on top; the destruction of Pep Fraudiola. The unbearable “pied piper”, the supposed “Greatest manager in the world” who always proves he’s not but his marketing apparatus still says otherwise. I recall him selling books and touring many Spanish-speaking nations giving talks & speeches for hefty amounts to banking executives & CEO’s about “leadership & victory” and “managing egos” to the sycophancy & adulation of everyone. Makes me sick how much men need to worship a false messiah. The Spain-hating Spaniard, the man who in his mind is so above his own countrymen he played in international tournaments for his national team only to, once retired say he never wanted to, but the laws wouldn’t allow him to play “for my country, Catalonia”. It’s not a country you separatist loon. Me thinks he’s probably not invited to get-togethers between former Spain world cup and european championships players’ rendezvous.
Mr. Fifth-Column Guardiola, the man who believes himself to be Mozart, Nietzche or Michelangelo always having to prove his genius can’t even field a proper defensive midfielder in a UCL final; then provides a no-show for 90 minutes in the biggest game of Man City’s history. To my knowledge, Mendy made no saves and they had zero shots on target. Tactically they were so dominated Kanté seemed to be everywhere and always one step ahead; I have never seen a more abject display from someone regarded so highly. His demise makes me so happy even though I admit he showed humility kissing the second-place medal. I wanted him to cry and throw a tantrum. Mourinho would have. Anyways, I can’t get that greedy. Not now. Life is beautiful when you win and those you hate lose.
Raúl H. García (Alberto Moreno trolling “Get out United” so funny!) LFC 1892 – YNWA
Not fair on Pep
There was a lot of criticism of Pep in the mailbox and most of it was deserved but it’s not totally fair to discredit his Champions League wins at Barcelona.
In his first season he sold Ronaldinho and Deco which took fairly major balls and promoted Busquets whilst also bringing in Dani Alves and Pique. Those three were all cheap and basically formed a big part of the spine that dominated Spain and Europe in years to come.
Messi was 21 that year which I wouldn’t call a peak for many players. The season before his attacking output was good but nothing special. At 21 Messi produced elite level scoring which he had never done before. He’s continued to do so for another 12 years since so I’m not saying that it’s all down to Pep but would Harry Kane be who he is if Sherwood hadn’t started playing him week in week out? It’s a bit unfair to give Pep zero credit because he got greater output from Messi and every other attacker who had been there the year before.
The one thing you can be sure of is that Pep will stay at City for a while longer. Their youth setup is amazing and there’s more talent coming through in seasons to come. Tziki and the back room team were meticulously assembled over years with a view to bringing Pep in and I think they have created a perfect working environment for him so I imagine he’s happy. You suspect before long he’ll contest another European final.
In terms of the final Thiago Silva and Kante who have won virtually everything in football. 6 of the Chelsea squad on the day also played and won the Europa League final two season ago. Cech in their back room has also won every major club trophy. I wonder if that experience helped calm the nerves and helped their players execute the game plan to perfection.
I don’t think Chelsea winning was as long a possibility as everyone assumed before the game although Pep definitely didn’t help matters by fielding a weird team. He’s also possibly annoyed a few players like Fernandinho who has been a loyal club servant for a long time and got left out of the biggest game of his career. You wonder how long that frustration might take to wear off when there’s no winners medal to console yourself with.
Top four manager evaluations
Sometimes there is a very strange lack of comprehension that not every manager can win everything. At the same time. And yet if they do not they are epic failures! Frauds! Promoted beyond their competence! Etc etc etc. Depending on who you listen to there’s an awful lot of failures out there. Most of them in fact.
But an ever-so-slightly more reasonable look at the league table provides:
1/ Pep. League winners 3 years out of 4. Continuous league cup winners in perpetuity. FA Cup semi finalists and Champions League finalists.
All while playing some pretty nifty to watch football. You really have to stretch the meaning of the word failure to apply it to that. But the reaction after the UCL final and indeed any time he doesn’t win the quadruple, is hyperbolic to say the least.
Unquestionably he gets to spend a lot of money and unfortunately he does have some very strange brain spasms at key Champions League moments. But he’s really very, very good indeed and will continue be so.
2/ Ole. Managing United is hard. Like really, *really* hard. Ask Van Gaal. Or Jose. Let alone Moyes. Living up to Fergie’s legacy is impossible for anyone but every single United team and manager is compared to his era. And of course will be for decades – Liverpool style.
The expectation is unreal and even though the trophy cabinet isn’t the healthiest, Ole has done better than nearly everyone thought he would. But apparently not well enough. Would Poch *really* do better? How many league titles/ Champions Leagues has he won again? United are better than last year. And the year before that. That’s obvious upward progress and that’s *ok* – they’re not as far off as some people would have you believe. The difference Bruno made was transformative . Add one H.Kane…
3/ Jurgen. Jurgen is a German God. But people were seriously talking about his job because the wheels came off the title defence, admittedly fairly spectacularly at one point. He’s won the Champions league and the Premier league with more points than any of his illustrious, trophy laden, Liverpool predecessors ever managed. This is very hard indeed.
Maintaining that performance when your defenders keep falling like flies every week is impossible . Completely impossible. He is Shankly-esque in terms of what he’s done for the club and 3rd place in the context of those injuries was actually pretty damn impressive. One day Stevie G will take over but he isn’t ready yet and he’ll say so himself. Until that day Jurgen literally *cannot* be improved on for Liverpool.
Finally last and definitely not least/ Thomas Tuchel. Seems the easiest to evaluate today. From when he joined to 4th place, FA Cup finalists and Champions League winners- that’s spectacular. Beating Pep three times out of three is not too shabby and if Werner could finish it could easily have been 3 or even 4-0. There weren’t many people predicting that before Saturday, especially those who thought appointing him was akin to shooting Bambi. But by anyone’s standards he’s been a pure, unmitigated success.
Pity Roman will fire him by Christmas really.
James , Liverpool
What would you have done?
1) With Pep and Ole rightly getting some stick regarding their teams’ final performances this week, it’s be great to hear what mailboxers would have actually done differently, other than ‘coach them better/don’t overthink it/be someone else.’ I thought Ole had his best team out, in a formation they had played often. I would have gone with the same team, would have brought Mata on for Rashford when Villareal sat back in the second half but wouldn’t have had the cojones to swap keepers at the end. Pep could/should have started Rodri/Fernandinho but this wouldn’t have helped them score, and adding Aguero later on did nothing to help. So what would you have actually done, and would it have helped?
2) Southgate’s loyalty is admirable but loyalty should get you in the squad, not the team. Playing well against Spain 18 months ago shouldn’t be the main reason for starting in 2021. I’d love to see Foden, Mount, Grealish start with Sterling ready to come on and Rashford given the summer off. If pace is a prerequisite, seems like Sancho had a good 2nd half to the season. And Watkins ahead of DCL as Kane back-up perhaps?
3) With both Walker and Shaw (and James) having played part of a back 3 and Maguire not fit/match fit, could they both play either side of Stones, allowing Chilwell and one of the infinite options at RB to start as wingbacks? This might also allow just Rice to sit, and then play as many players that can keep the ball as possible. I’d like to see a 3-3-3-1 of Pickford/Shaw-Stones-James/Chilwell-Rice-TAA/Grealish-Mount-Foden-Kane
Happy bank holiday all!
Great letter from David in Dublin about Man Utd set up and particular emphasis on the academy.
The part I wish to take issue with is the comparison of OGS with two previous greats Busby and Ferguson. This is a problem you get when comparing the greats in the past football was so different. The win ratio for Busby for his first stint at Utd was 50% that is less than Benitez at Liverpool. Ferguson’s win ratio at Utd is the same as Klopp at Liverpool. Tuchels win ratio at both Dortmund and PSG is better still and he got sacked from the latter, whilst failing to win the league in the former.
The problem currently in football is that one manager is running in excess of 70% win ratio and with OGS only having a 55% at Utd, it will take an increase in one with at the same time a decrease in 3 others namely Klopp, Tuchel and Pep. That can only come by significant investment in proven talent because at least two of those others clubs will not hesitate in spending on the finished article, whilst all probably having a better current squad.
Just remember in 18/19 Liverpool won 79% of their games and lost only once a still failed to win the league.
Gary in Germany
City a glorified PSG
For all the talk about Man City being the best club in the world etc., they’re really only a glorified PSG. In fact, both clubs’ record in the champions league is strikingly similar:
– 1 (lost) final
– 1 semi-final (2016)
– 3 quarter finals (2018, 2019, 2020)
– 1 (lost) final
– 2 semi-finals (1995, 2021)
– 4 quarter finals (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
PSG are (rightly) derided because they plough huge amounts of money in a farmer’s league. But City’s money creates just as much of a discrepancy between them and the rest of the EPL, so it’s no different, really. I personally don’t care about the nature of their ownership, it’s the massive amounts of money they can throw at players that bothers me.
Good to see money alone doesn’t buy you success (I am aware Chelsea, Bayern and Real aren’t exactly poor).
Mike, CFC (Guardiola is good at winning leagues but not so good at cups. He probably should never try international football)