Erik ten Hag a winner this season as Arteta behind Emery in manager rankings

Editor F365

Erik ten Hag left the Man Utd pitch to rapturous applause on Wednesday night. Is he a bigger winner than Mikel Arteta, who is behind Unai Emery.

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Erik ten Hag among season winners
With yet another marvellous season coming to an end, I’m sure there will be lots of ‘Winners & Losers’ from F365 and your readers. I thought I would take a quick stab at an alternative Winners section:

Darren England and Simon Hooper
There must have been a mighty, collective, and very audible sigh of relief from our two friends when they realized that their drunken re-enactment of The Hangover back in the autumn wouldn’t actually have any impact on the final standings and European qualification. They must have been sweating back in March!

Howard Webb
Allowing your staff to receive luxury holidays from the owners of one of the leading contenders would in most walks of life have resulted in a very quick and unceremonious dismissal, but not in the PGMOL. The man who, in his refereeing days, was one of the few to have his own stadium anthem(*), can’t let himself be bothered by petty little issues like bias and independence, or indeed figuring out why it is that La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A all seem to have figured out how to seamlessly use VAR, whereas PGMOL still looks like a clown bus driven by a blind squirrel on coke…

The self-proclaimed ‘King Makers’ did exactly what it said on the can and made every top team they played down the stretch look like absolute kings. No false advertisement here.

Ed Woodward
It turns out that it wasn’t all his fault after all. Surely, there will soon be a large crowd outside his house to issue a profound apology?

Erik ten Hag
According to several pundits, he has delivered the worst coaching performance in the league, but the fans are so hellbent that “it’s all the Americans’ fault” that he gets away with it. It always reminds me of the old joke that if you’re walking on the savannah in Africa together with the Glazers and a lion suddenly jumps out, you don’t have to outrun the lion, as long as you can outrun the Glazers…..

Aston Villa
…for finally, in game week 37, allowing all the lazy journos to get that Duran Duran-headline out that they have been waiting for ever since Villa signed the guy.

The Premier League mid-table
We all remember the old saying that 40 points should be enough to reach safety. It seems that the threshold has dropped consistently over the past seasons, and this year, 30 points would guarantee survival with a round still to be played.

First Newcastle, then Manchester City and PSG out of the CL. Sportswashing only goes so far…

(*) “He’s bald, he’s red, he sleeps in Ferguson’s bed. Howard Webb. Howard Webb.” It was always heartwarming to hear that belted out in stadia around the country
Tom K, wishing everyone a wonderful summer (Just read a book where there was a gay bar called Man United – I thought that was hilarious!)

📣TO THE COMMENTS! Let’s have your Premier League winners! Join the debate here

Embarrassment for the Toon
Feel just like when you get knocked out the cup by a team from a lower league today. Cannot believe we managed to lose to that man U team it’s embarrassing. Gordon’s comments on VAR were well articulated though, liking him more and more, I hope he stays and plays for the toon for a long time!

Arsenal need a left-back more than a striker
The Gunners have played really well this season though probably won’t win the title still. Much has been talked about lacking a top-class striker and rumours of adding who and who and who have been swirling around.

But if we’ve watched our games all season, we’d know it’s the injury of Jurrien Timber at the very first game of the season that has cost us the title we would otherwise deserve. This is the only weak point where we did not really upgrade from last season.

It doesn’t just affect the defensive side, but also hamper the offensive output on the left wing. Martinelli could have been more effective had Timber stayed fit. It’s by sheer luck that Trossard has been on a roll at critical moments this season. Reliance on Saka on the right has also made our attacking too predictable at one stage. We got going again only when Havertz finally found his feet.

Timber has shown that he’s the real deal in very limited playing time. He can bring the best out of our offensive play on the left. We have to make sure he stays fit and his position well covered next season as this is probably the final piece in our title chasing jigsaw.

Still, how we wish West Ham will score five past Man City on Sunday.
Kia Nian, Singapore

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Tribute to Klopp; Arsenal not great
There are two points I wanted to make.

The first is that Arsenal have been very good this season but not great. They might yet win the title but the maximum they can reach is 89 points, which is Arteta’s highest tally after five seasons. By comparison, Klopp smashed the 90-point mark thrice during his tenure.

In my view, Arteta is nowhere near the levels of Klopp and Pep and at most is the 4th best manager in the league today (Emery is 3rd). And all this after they have been the luckiest team in the league this season with injuries (Rice, Saliba, Gabriel, White, Raya, Odegaard, Saka barely missed a game).

As a Liverpool fan I would prefer Man City wins the title. Pep Guardiola has proven himself to be the greatest manager of this (or maybe any) generation. It is no disgrace to lose out to Pep and this Man City for the title and it is something Klopp has dealt with for the better part of the past decade anyhow. It wouldn’t be a worthy ending seeing Klopp lose out to Arteta in his final season.

The second and more importantly is the tribute to Jurgen Klopp. His record as a manager speaks for itself (goals scored, style of play, titles won etc.) but there is something special about him beyond the football. This quality doesn’t come by often (especially in football) and even in my personal experience is only reserved for a special few. That quality is the love and adoration of an entire fanbase. And he has done that three times over.

Has there ever been a manager so loved by three different football clubs – like build a statue outside the stadium levels of love? Mainz is probably closest to his heart given the history there, but I am sure you will have many fans of Dortmund and Liverpool who also claim he is their great ever manager. Nine years is a long time and life just won’t be the same again. So, thank you, Jurgen, you have provided some of my best memories as a Liverpool fan. Pep may be the greater manager but go away knowing you are more loved.
Rohit, Abu Dhabi (fingers crossed for a Joe Gomez goal in Klopp’s final game)


Arsenal have been great this season
Lee doesn’t like Arsenal. I can tell this because his criticism of them ‘not being a great side’ doesn’t make any sense. A top side playing more attractive attacking football against weaker opponents than they do against stronger opponents isn’t the dig you appear to think it is, actually it’s just generally how football works and for that matter most other sports too.

As for their record against those stronger teams (top 12 as per Lee’s definition) they’ve done pretty well. They’ve put 5 past Spurs, 7 past Chelsea and Bournemouth, scored 4 against Man United, Liverpool, Newcastle, and totalled 6 each versus Palace and West Ham. Man City would have to score 5 past West Ham on Sunday just to equal that goals record against the same opponents.

What you seem to be praising are teams that just attack recklessly which as a United fan I’m all for but that doesn’t make a great side, that just entertainment. So, is this Arsenal team a great side? No, because it takes winning competitions to be in that conversation but have they been great this year? Obviously. There are plenty of reasons not to like Arsenal but they are annoyingly one of the best teams in the world right now. Arteta is a prick though so maybe just focus on that.
Dave, Manchester


…I’m a Liverpool fan and it’s fair to say we’ve suffered more at City’s hands than most. Jurgen would be leaving with three Premier Leagues rather than one if City had only been a tiny bit worse.

But the reality is that they haven’t and it’s forced us to be the best possible version of ourselves in 3 seasons. 97 points and runners up? Insane. But we were better than we ever would have been without City to fight against.

Jurgen’s not leaving with the hugest pile of pots, it’s true. But the quality of football his sides played at our best is some of the greatest we’ve ever seen. In my ever-so-unbiased opinion obviously.

The point of all this is that Arsenal have fallen only ever so slightly short this season and it’s no real fault of theirs. They’ve been bloody good. When they collapsed last year, the naysayers screamed ‘ That was your chance! It’ll never happen again! ‘ So they added Declan Rice and got better. Arteta learnt from the experience and got better.

We needed a world class centre back and goalkeeper to fix our most glaring flaws and went out and got them. Successful seasons then ensued.

Arsenal needed a world class midfielder and striker. They’re half way there – do you really think Arteta doesn’t know exactly who he wants this summer? And if he gets them then Arsenal will be better still. Just like we were.

Even with all that said, it’s bloody draining fighting against City for a whole season. It’s worn our players and our manager out. But only *after* we won everything and our hunger was somewhat satiated. Arsenal are still starving.

They’ve lost nothing this season, they’ve been beaten by the best team this country has ever seen, managed by the best manager this country has ever had. But they got blooming close.

They’ll be back next year, they will be better and I genuinely believe Pep will have to raise his game to match them.

Christ knows what kind of a season we’ll have mind you.
James, Liverpool


VAR corner
A wise man once said “don’t back down, double down!” And here we go.

Keep VAR, it’s easier to scrap, but we clearly have structural problems in refereeing that won’t be fixed by removing the video assistance.

Case in point, we scrap VAR but would still have to deal with the current generation of referees. If anything, we’ve made things worse. Decisions for the sly 6 can be hidden behind “human error” again.

Well how would you fix it? I’m glad you asked. Here is my plan:

1) VAR teams are now dedicated, no more referees doing VAR one week and reffing the next, this will allow more consistency in the decision making.

2) Make the head of referees the person responsible for the “VAR room” like any other organisation there has to be accountability. If a VAR official needs guidance, he is on hand to apply the rules. Any failures like what has happened to forest and wolves are on him(or her)

3) Here is the real doozy. Declare a reset in all that has gone before and the rules apply from game week 1 of the season. What this entails is all judgement decisions of the past are irrelevant and the 24/25 season standards are judged against itself. For example, that Jota penalty Vs Newcastle “there’s contact” therefore a penalty, well that becomes the benchmark for a foul, football fans I am sure would accept two soft penalties of the decision was consistent. (Unless it effects their team negatively). So I this scenario the first game of the season is the most important as this will set the standard for the rest.

4) For the “var outers” remember, rodwell’s red, Henry’s handball, scholes’ offside, Kieran gibbs mistaken identity, that Chelsea Sunderland game in 2014, and those are just the ones I can remember furiously typing this while making sure my boss isn’t watching I am sure many more of you will have many more examples.

I am sure many will call me naive, but I am firmly nailing my colours to the “Keep Var” mast.

TLDR: keep var, improve its users.
EFCraig (should we keep var? 1% said Frank Lampard)


…The problem with VAR is the arrogance with which we’re told which version we’re allowed to have.

Can we listen in to the live discussions of the officials? No. Can we just have a version that corrects the most egregious mistakes? No.

If IFAB, PGMOL and the Premier League were more open-minded and genuinely committed to making it better, I think clubs and fans might feel differently.
Rob, Villa fan in Sheffield


…So I see in the papers that the ‘me no like VAR’ knuckle draggers are out in force again today with the standard kneejerk reaction that people have when something new comes along so rather than taking an objective view of how can the process be improved they want to throw it out at the first opportunity and go back to writing with their quills and using good old fashion paper money because it “feels nice in their hands”. Sigh.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means saying that VAR has been an incredible step forward in the game, it has admittedly moved the game back in some aspects and has killed off much of the excitement that we all yearn for. VAR specifically is not the problem though, the technology is sound. The problem is that it has become a Frankenstein’s Monster hybrid of technology and human input. Humans are flawed, fallable and frankly unreliable or as Elon Musk put it “All User Input Equals Error”.

The problem is I feel that there’s more driving VAR’s failure than just human error. Any move to complete automation would be fiercely resisted by the refereeing unions as it would be the turkey’s voting for Christmas, therefore you have a group of individuals that are invested in its failure. Therefore whether consciously or unconsciously they may be making poor decisions with this in mind. This may be one reason.

Corruption could be another. Let’s take our “Football is all that is good and pure” rose tinted glasses off and put on our tin-foil hats for a second and assume that football is inherently corrupt and that there are games that are being fixed. Back in the Bruce Grobbelaar days you might’ve been able to pay off a goalkeeper for the price of a decent semi-detached house in the south. Now with the exorbitant wages involved, if you were to try to fix a game by having a goalkeeper throw it say they ask for 10 years salary in case they get caught. All of a sudden you start venturing up into the millions maybe even billions all for one game. The margins start to look a lot less enticing, so that only leaves the referee to be bought at a fraction of the cost. If you bring in full/semi automated refereeing then you’re closing off the last opening available for this criminal enterprise.

My third and all the more likely theory on it’s failure though is that this is due to what I’ll term the “Ed Woodward” effect on VAR. Football ebbs and flows and is fluid in nature so needs a VAR that is able to flow with it. Whoever has headed up the VAR project comes across as an actuary or accountant that has been given the most interesting job of their lives and whilst they’ve got all excited about it they’ve been unable to resist their urge for everything being exact, so for them a millimetre offside is a “clear and obvious error” because for them all errors are clear and obvious. There is such a thing as immateriality but for the truly pedantic accountant it’s either right or wrong no matter how trivial and VAR is very much in this camp.

What I would say though is keep the faith. If the first time someone fell off their bike we jacked it in and went back to walking where would we be today? All new technology goes through this “bedding in” period where various stakeholders sabotage, resist or poorly implement it but I truly believe that we will get to a point where it has been vastly improved and the game will become more akin to the one we all knew and loved.
Anthony, Kilburn

READ: Premier League clubs are missing the point with VAR scrapping vote