Embracing a young, hungry and probably potless Man Utd…

Date published: Monday 15th July 2019 2:46

Send your innermost thoughts to theeditor@football365.com…


Great expectations
Just read Johnny’s excellent piece on having expectations.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

I’m a United fan and all summer has been spent reading dullards react to every transfer rumour with ‘what are they playing at?’ People getting wound up that their club owned by awful billionaires aren’t spending enough billions to make it into that ‘golden’ top four spot.

But on Saturday the team played a friendly that featured a team filled with academy products managed by a club legend who seems to be a genuinely nice man.

It just centred me. It doesn’t matter what happens. If that team buys no one else and uses the kids with that manager I will follow that team down to the Championship if I have to.

I would much rather follow that side than the lumbering monstrosity Jose would have assembled.

But maybe as a 27 year old United fan my brain is broken, as I have only known unprecedented success my whole life?

Keep up the good work at 365,
Bob (that isn’t a defence of the Glazers, they are still awful on all accounts)


…This is getting silly now. I used to enjoy Johnnies humanistic take on everything football. Then things became a little too political for my tastes and perhaps drifted too far from the field of play. More recently though he seems to have become an unwanted lifestyle guru espousing ‘sensitive boy from the industrial north’ style self-help. His most recent effort is just nonsense, I’m not even sure why it is on Football365. It’s link to the sport is tenuous at best; the example of fans having expectations on their teams season being the sole relevance.

Lets clear something up first John, expectations are absolutely required in everyday life. From a financial perspective an expectation over a products expected success or usefulness generally provides the main factor in its price. Expectations over behaviour form the bedrock of society. You wouldn’t cross the road if you couldn’t expect drivers to stop at zebra-crossing. Expectations are useful too. I make predictions on the length of my meetings based on the topics that should be discussed and the complexity of problems. This allows me to plan my day. Sometimes I get it wrong and run late or early but I can at least plan more than 1 thing in a day as would be required in Johnnies new world where no one can guarantee anything so attempting is folly.

Really, you could sum-up John’s whole point as this; Having expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment. Having unrealistic or ill-informed expectations is a sure fire way to increase the chance of being disappointed. Garbage in the mainstream media is an example of unrealistic or ill-informed expectations.

In my personal opinion, which I have no great expectation over being true or accurate (sometimes no expectation is perfectly reasonable), I wonder whether expectation can help drive performance. CRonaldo probably had very high expectations over what he wanted to achieve and how good he wanted to be from a very early age. They were probably unfair or unrealistic. But maybe having those expectations and dreams helped drive him inexorably forward, never compromising in the attempt to achieve exceptional goals.
Ed Ern


Ewah Woohwah
Hi Ved, just a quick one on Ed, Sanchez was a vanity purchase to stroke Ed’s own ego not a player the manager wanted it was all about Ed beating City to his signature. Pogba again was a vanity purchase, a look at me buying one of the most sought after Midfielders in the World. Nothing about Ed’s work can be described as prudent, you are talking about a man who bragged at how much money United had and how they could pay any amount for any player making sure any team can add £20m on top of the valuation when United come knocking. So sorry to rain on your Ed parade, the man is an idiot and a puppet for the real villains of the piece the parasitic debt riddling Glazers.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


…Ved Sen, teams also know City, Chelsea, Spurs have a lot of money, but they get their transfers done with a minimum of fuss.

The problem United face is Woodward wants to do everything or the Glaziers won’t allow him to hire a footballing man to lead the scouting and the transfers.

There is no way any one guy can do it all (time), both the commercial commitments as well as the footballing side of the business. So United’s transfer just seem like a mess. Currently we hear that he is concentrating on one transfer at a time, which is ridiculous. Hire a permanent director of football, that way he can negotiate all the deals at the same time and if option no 1 for a position is unavailable, move to option 2 or 3 quickly, instead of being stuck in this endless loop and United seem to be stuck in and then getting desperate and overpaying when the window is about to shut.
Jarron, MUFC


Pre-season conclusions
I have a few observations from the United vs Perth Glory game at the weekend, if you’re interested.

The youngsters/newbies: Daniel James was the standout performer from the entire team. It’s very early days but he slotted in seamlessly on our left, and virtually every attack went through him in the first half. Chong tried hard on the right but I fear that he’s just not ready for first-team action; I think a loan move to a club where he’s able to play regularly would be the best thing for him. Tuanzebe was pretty solid at CB but absolutely crunched one of their attackers early on, in a blatant (but not awarded) yellow card offence, otherwise he looked a lot more comfortable and composed on the ball than Jones. Greenwood had a couple of really good chances to get on the scoresheet but couldn’t quite do so, though he showed a lot of positives in his overall play. I’m not convinced he’s ready for first team action either, even if Lukaku goes, but the rest of the tour will illuminate that more.

Wan-Bissaka looked pretty sharp on his debut. His arrival brought much more of an attacking threat down our right, which would add more balance to our attacks with James on the left. He didn’t have a great deal of defending to do but when called upon he did well. Angel Gomes was a very lively presence in the final third, showing far more confidence than Chong, and creating and contributing to a number of good attacks; I definitely want to see more of him this season. Garner only got a few minutes on the pitch but he certainly made the most of them, intercepting a stray pass and firing a lovely finish past the ‘keeper. He looks like a talent but, assuming we bring in a midfielder this summer, it’s hard to see where his game time comes from, even if Pogba leaves.

The established mediocrity: It was pretty much the same old stuff from the established players from last year. Jones, Smalling and Young pretty much picked up from where they left off; plenty of effort and bluster from Young but so sorely lacking in actual ability that it’s completely negated. Smalling and Jones are just awful, truly terrible footballers; Jones was repeatedly caught out of position and having to sprint back and correct his mistakes, while Smalling always looks under pressure (even when completely isolated) and adds a terrifying air of disorganisation to the back line. All three should be either moved on or used extremely sparingly.

Reason for hope: Rashford, Matic, Lingard, McTominay, Pereira, Rashford, Dalot and Mata all showed good form and fitness during their time on the pitch. Matic and Lingard were key in winning the ball really high up the pitch and, rather surprisingly, Lingard showed pretty good maturity and leadership during the first half. Mata was very good and, though his lack of pace will always hamper him somewhat, his intelligence and reading of the game will mean he can play a good part in this season. Pereira showed glimpses of quality but he just needs regular football now, so he can show whether he’s up to the task.

Areas needing work: Martial’s positioning as a striker is really poor. He has been touted as a potential replacement for Lukaku, should he go, but frankly I don’t think he’s ready to step into that role. He drops far too deep, far too often and, on the rare occasion that he tries to dribble past the defence, he invariably starts too far from goal, so leaves himself too much to do. It might just have been me, but it seemed like some players were reluctant to pass to Pogba in the second half, even when he was in space. I wonder whether there are some in the camp who are starting to tire of the circus around him. He was extremely generously credited with an assist for the Rashford goal (in reality, an ill-advised, attempted Cruyff turn on the edge of the box bobbled it’s way through to Rashford who did the hard work) but offered little else.

The balance in the team is still skewed: in the first half, all the best work came down our left; in the second it was the right. If we can combine the two then happy days, but I’d still be happier seeing a right-sided attacker come in. There’s a lot of graft in central midfield but not a great deal of quality. Assuming Pogba either goes or continues to play for himself instead of the team, we are going to struggle to break down stubborn/packed defences with current personnel. Shaw’s fitness was again a concern; not aerobically this time, but he limped off with a hamstring issue (which has since been resolved, apparently). I’m just not at all comfortable with Young or Rojo being his backup. Dalot hit a great shot on his left foot in the first, so if his crossing can improve then perhaps he can be the solution there.

All in all, it went about as well as your first pre-season game could do. We still have some players to come back – Darmian, Lindelof, Bailly, Fred, Sanchez & Lukaku – so we’ll see what, if anything, they can bring to the table. It is starting to look like Lukaku won’t be with us this season though, so I hope they have a replacement targeted already; Ben Yedder sounds like the most likely and I’d be fairly happy with that. But game one certainly highlights the need for further transfer business ASAP. The sinking feeling I got when seeing Smalling, Jones and Young’s names on the team sheet is one that we’ve experienced for too long now. The squad is bloated with too many average (and below) players, so if we can move on Darmian, Rojo, Smalling/Jones (or both!), and get in the centre-back, centre-midfield and right winger we need then we’ll be doing well.
Ted, Manchester


One way to spend £300m
300 million budget you say….? Any chance we could use it to buy our club, we’ll give Mike Ashley a bonus 2-3 years of Sports Direct hoardings to sweeten the deal…
Chris, Woolwich NUFC


Equal pay
Paul T.Wells, googling an article does not equate cold hard facts. If anything you provided no facts, just some propaganda.

So lets provide some facts.

1. The US Womens team earned $4 mil for winning the 2019 world cup and $2 mil for winning the 2014 WWC, while the US men’s team won $9 mil in 2014 World cup just to make it to the round of 16. They didn’t qualify for the 2019 world cup and still learned 3 mil more than the women’s team.

2. The NWSL (women league) lists just four major sponsors on its website, plus a new partnership with Budweiser announced recently and lacks a television deal for the full length of its season.
The MLS, which was established in 1995, lists 21 corporate sponsors on its website, including top brands such as Coca-Cola and Home Depot. The league’s current broadcast rights deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision was valued at $90 million, the largest deal in MLS history.

3. MLS averaged an attendance of more than 21,000 fans per game for its 2018 season, compared to an average of just over 6,000 per game for the NWSL.

4. The womens league relies at least partially on subsidies from U.S. Soccer, which covers pay for national team players. (The women’s league has already collapsed twice before).

Given these facts, I have no idea how the article you cited is correct. It was probably written by an activist using ‘alternative facts”. Should be interesting as the court case proceeds and the real facts become clearer. Right now all I am seeing is people pretending to be woke, while ignoring the real facts and if you bring up reality, you will end up being called names.
Anonymous (Can do without all the names from the loonies)


Heroes or Villans?
Interesting column on Villa, although I have to say I do not really understand the logic. Villa have spent a lot of money on gambles, that may or may not work out. This seems rather odd having nearly entered administration last summer, does it not? I say this as a QPR fan, who have wasted so much money over the past few years and are still paying for it.

If we look at the predictions made before the start of last season, F365 were lauding Fulham’s transfer business and not one of your writers had them down for relegation, indeed one writer wrote ‘Wolves and Fulham look very strong for promoted clubs’. I do not write that to ‘ha! ha!’ a prediction, but more to highlight how at the time these players were signed F365 appeared to believe Fulham’s transfer business actually looked reasonably good…

Which brings us back to Villa, who have signed Mings for around £20 million, a player who has made 17 appearances in three and a half seasons at Bournemouth – a club hardly known for their defence. He has played most of his football in the Championship, which might well be his level. That seems like a lot of money on a Championship defender, even in the current climate – albeit one that of course they have seen up close for six months. If Villa get relegated with a terrible defensive record, how much will they be able to get for Mings?

Their most expensive signing is a Brazilian who has scored 19 in 76 in the top division in Belgian. On paper Afonso Alves looked a much better signing – if Villa get relegated and Wesley scores three goals in the Premier League, how much do you think they will be able to get for him?

I am not sure I can agree with the logic of the article, if a club nearly enters administration and then gets promoted, should they really be forking out loads of money on players? Time will tell, but to me it looks a huge gamble.
Tim Harrington, London (QPR)


Lincolnshire’s answer to the Emirates Cup,
By no means the biggest game of the weekend but the only one I witnessed in person was a semi final of the South Kestevan District Cup, between Harrowby United and Grantham Town. This is Lincolnshire’s answer to the Emirates Cup, albeit with the main aim of raising money for Grantham Autistic Information Network (GAIN).

*Though the clubs are three levels apart, with Grantham in Step 3’s Northern Premier League and Harrowby in Step 6’s Uhlsport United Counties Football League, they have a few things in common; the Gingerbreads’ joint managers, Paul Rawden and Russ Cousins, joined them from the Arrows, while United’s manager and assistant manager (Jamie McGhee and Dennis Rhule) have spent time at Grantham in the past. I didn’t see anything remotely resembling a team list but I recognised a few Town players from last season, or from their signing announcements. Where are they now fans may be interested to know United have Marlon Harewood on their books, but if he was there I didn’t see him.

*The ground at Dickens Road has character. There is one stand but I decided to watch the game at pitch level, roughly halfway between the dugouts and the penalty area. I was equal parts surprised and amused by what I could hear from the technical areas. The pitch is uneven, and slopes across the playing surface and had a pronounced dip the length one of the inside forward channels, just to add to the home advantage. These are not necessarily negative – it takes a far more skilful player to shine on an awkward pitch than on an immaculate Premier League one.

*Grantham started the game the way they finished last season: narrow 4-4-2, hoofing the ball at every opportunity beyond strikers not able to get near the ball, or being too close to each other when the ball did come to one of them. Harrowby realised this was the case, so began pressing the defenders and dropping their midfielders back in front of their defence. Despite this, there was no instruction from the Town gaffers to exploit the space in midfield.

*Harrowby opened the scoring in bizarre fashion. Midway through the half (there wasn’t a clock, I’ve no idea of the timings) Grantham’s goalkeeper played a short goal kick, even though none of his teammates were expecting one or anywhere near where the ball went. Instead, David Golapo picked it up and from just outside the area fired a shot that went in off the post. A superb finish to punish an absolutely bizarre decision from the goalkeeper. The Arrows had clearly rattled the visitors, and almost got a second with a back post free header that flashed just wide, but couldn’t add to the score meaning it was just 1-0 at half-time.

*The second half saw some comedy timewasting from the home side as they looked to see out the game. At one point, a player went down injured off the pitch, which meant play could continue, so he rolled back on to it. He got his medical attention, but he also had his name taken by the referee. Early on in the half, Town had an indirect free kick inside the box because goalkeeper Yinka Adabowale held on to the ball too long, but unfortunately it came to nothing. Another time, when Grantham won a free kick on the right wing, and while the referee was sorting out the players in the penalty area, United’s manager told a player who was about to be substituted to lie down, meaning the physio had to enter the field to attend to him and take a few seconds off the clock. Sometimes karma works – the ensuing free kick was met by the head of Rodrigo Silva for the equaliser.

*Town then gambled, removing centre-half Tom Ward for a midfielder and looked far more likely to find a winner, although neither side could. This meant things would be settled by kicks from the penalty mark. Omens looked good for the Gingerbreads when the first Harrowby effort landed in the car park, but it wasn’t to be: inspired goalkeeping for the Arrows saw two saved penalties as they won the shootout 4-3.

*This was a day of firsts: first preseason game, first game I’ve watched from pitch level, and the first time I’ve seen a penalty shootout. My man of the match was Adabowale – he made about half a dozen important saves throughout the game and then starred in the shootout. For Grantham, midfielder Danny Racchi was particularly impressive, always making himself available for a pass and finding a pocket of space, and he has a good passing range. All in all, the Gingerbreads looked far better when they played a form of 4-3-3 with a variety of passing styles, using their collective football intelligence, rather than simply hoofing and hoping.

Next up for Grantham is a trip to Newark Flowserve of the Midland Football League tomorrow night; next up for me is a trip to the City Ground on Friday night.
Ed Quoththeraven


I really don’t want to turn this into politics 365 so I’m going to keep this short, but the idea put forward by Mike (WHU) that the democrats will lose to Donald Trump because they practice ‘identity politics’ conveniently ignores the fact that Donald Trump has been practicing nothing BUT identity politics (in the sense imagined by Mike) long before he won the presidency. I’m not a fan of the term as it usually just means ‘politics I don’t like’ but newsflash pal- ALL politics is identity politics.

But to bring the subject back to football- I really don’t get why people like Mike get super sensitive on the subject of women’s football. At no point has Johnny Nicholson ever said that everyone who doesn’t watch women’s football is sexist or misogynistic so why make that claim in your email? Johnny has called out those who specifically don’t watch it for misogynistic reasons and if you have looked under the comments on articles related to women’s football on social media you would be aware that the number of those people is not insignificant. Jumping to the conclusion that he’s talking about ALL non-watchers of the women’s game is baffling to me.

It would have been helpful if Mike had quoted the offending part of the article but I’m sure it was just an oversight that you didn’t quote Nicholson at any point in your email.
Turiyo Damascene

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