We can get through this international break together. Keep your thoughts coming to email@example.com…
Fred is Manchester United
Will Ford said Fred is not terrible at much but distinctly mediocre at most, and that is the problem of most of this United squad barring Bruno.
In goal, Henderson can become great but definitely isn’t right now. De Gea has deteriorated after years of playing behind bad defenders. He is a shot stopper and not a modern sweeper keeper. He worked behind Vidic and Ferdinand because they commanded the box. De Gea will never be the leader at the back, he’s more skilled than Van Der Sar but he will never be as successful because Edwin read the game a lot better.
But De Gea is still world class and you can’t just replace him or trust Henderson yet.
Infront, there’s our captain, enough has been said about him but for good or for bad, here’s here to stay. He’s slow, he’s laboured, he makes mistake but United spent 80 million on him so he’s not being replaced anytime soon.
Lindelof I feel is not as bad as people think he is. I actually feel playing with a Ramos or a Van Dijk will see him excel. He’s just made to look like a fool next to Maguire and he’s not that good in the air. Probably the easiest to replace though, which is why a new CB is a priority.
Wan Bissaka is the 10th best English right back according to Southgate but he does a great job defending for United, especially with Shaw going up on the left, his lack of attacking outlet doesn’t hurt us as much. Its bad to look bad because we don’t have a competent right wing player to play infront of him. Again he’s just good enough to never be replaced.
If Shaw continues his run of form then there’s no need for him to be replaced. United spent 27 million on him and they had to stick with him through the torrid form because again he was just good enough for left back to not be a priority.
For Fred read the article. Matic is too old. McTominay can be a great but isn’t there yet.
Pogba is pogba. He’s great at everything but can’t be arsed half the time.
Rashford is on the cusp of greatness. He’s not perfect but he’s the best we have.
Cavani is 33.
We talk about Martial like he’s a young player but he’s 25 and its time to accept that the player you see is the player that he is. Again it’ll take a lot of cojones for Solskjaer to replace him. He’s good enough without being a top top striker.
Greenwood can be great but isn’t there yet. He can do a job on the right so United thought last Summer they can get away with without signing a top player on the right. Greenwood should be developed like Pep developed Foden. Manchester City never suffered to develop Foden – he had World Class players he could train with, learn from and now his time has come.
It’s the same story with the squad. Mata can still do a job without setting the world alight anymore. Dan James is good enough to do a role in the squad but he will never be anything more. Van De Beek is a tragedy.
The solution is never to replace 11 players but years of terrible recruitment means we’re stuck with players who are good enough. It is unfathomable to me that we did not move Heaven and Earth to keep Herrera. A real defensive midfielder, Herrera and Bruno would have been our ideal mid field. You can get a missing piece when you have the rest of the jigsaw, and I don’t see any part of a puzzle right now when I look at the squad.
We can still get lucky and win a cup or two with this squad but this lot will not be a dominant League winning team for 2-3 years.
You can carry 2-3 passengers surrounded by greatness. Its fine to have Anderson when he’s playing with Carrick and Scholes.
But United has 2-3 players with the potential of greatness surrounded by players who are just about good enough.
Klopp saw Mignolet and Karius and decided that just good enough wasn’t good enough. Pep goes every year and buys 50 million players despite having good enough players already in those positions. Chelsea buys 3 50 million players in the same position and lets them fight it out to see who will make it.
Unless Ole shows the same ruthlessness, we will not be terrible at much and distinctly mediocre at best.
One can even say that about Ole as a manager.
Shehzad Ghias, Mufc, Karachi
Prick of the Week
Finally a ‘Prick of the Week’ I can get on board with and the identification of the worst thing about football – football fans! And it is FOOTBALL fans not Liverpool fans or Man Utd fans or Chelsea fans because all clubs have their minority/majority of pricks because they are a cross-section of society and society is full of pricks!
Whether it be banter merchants saying the most ridiculous patently incorrect things about opposing football teams and then when eminently more sensible fans of that team point out how stupid their comment is throwing up the “Ha ha – fishing/triggered.” Sorry but no, you are not a comic genius. You just said something stupid about something you clearly know nothing about and you’ve been corrected by someone who does.
Fans seeing conspiracy theories that only affect their club – all referees are biased against us etc. If that is the case then the likelihood is that some referees will be biased for your team and some against if only because they prefer a team other than your immediate opponents.
Any of the other less savoury incidents which I won’t go in to here but we’ve seen lots of this year and every other year.
Fans are indeed pricks.
I have one guy on the Facebook who for every post about his own beloved Man Utd must post ten times as much banter about other clubs – all other clubs. Liverpool, City, Leeds, Arsenal, Chelsea, Wolves, Aston Villa, Tottenham – they all get a go before any mention of how Solskjaer is doing or if the new structure will work. When we spoke, which is rare these days because of his ‘banter’, he spent the entire Mourinho era arguing that the football was not dire and they were progressing. Now that Solskjaer is in charge the defence is that the football is better than the dirge Mourinho served up and at least they are showing progress unlike under Mourinho where they were going backwards.
I didn’t see the Kane penalty live and in fact only caught it on the Monday on Ref Watch by which time I’d heard lots of conflicting opinions about was it a dive, was he clever/cute, was Kane using his mastery of the dark arts again, was he ruining his reputation with this sort of nonsense etc. I watched it and thought “Yeah, that’s a clear penalty. I’ve no idea what the fuss is about.”
However, without pointing fingers at the “Media” as a homogenous group, would there have been any debate if one Mr G Neville had not on commentary stated “It’s cute from Kane, some won’t like it.”?. If Sue Smith had not also called Kane’s actions “cute” and “clever”, suggested it can be “seen from both sides” or that it was “such a difficult call”?. Are the media (largely Sky and BT in this instance) fuelling this ‘debate’ and is it worse than it ever was now that we have pundits who make a living from being contrary or controversial for the sake of it? From personal experience it certainly seems harder to have a chat about football with a fan of an opposing team without it descending into lowest common denominator stuff.
What’s the point?
England vs San Marino, seriously, WTF! How many times a year does our national team have to waste it’s time in pointless matches like this one. When is FIFA/UEFA going to put an end to the ridiculous waste of calendar space that is including city states in international qualifiers. Organise a world cup of city states/tiny islands, if needed, and get these ridiculous matches out of our football calendars. What does anyone on the England set up learn from playing San Marino? They’ll get a more competitive match in training. The only result is a chance for our players to artificially boost their scoring statistics. Pele may as well include his goals in training in his stats, it makes up for all the nonsense goals European internationals get from freebies like San Marino, Andorra, etc. Please FIFA, create World cup qualifying leagues and get rid of this idiot waste of everyone’s time.
Spurs, Mourinho, Kane and penalties
I wrote in to try and share my thoughts on Mourinho and the season so far at Spurs. I am a Tottenham fan myself and I think it is just bizarre how many of our fans seem to be fooled by Mourinho’s mindgames/excuses. Before the season started most fans would’ve rated our summer transfer window about 8-9 out of 10. We finally got a back-up for Kane, Bale had come “home”, Hojbjerg was there to plug the gaping hole in midfield and we now had two seasoned professionals in both right back and left back. This is by far the best Tottenham squad I have ever seen although I have only been following them since the turn of the century. But now the newest Mourinho-cult has begun to cry: We need Paulo Dybala, Milan Skriniar and Ricardo Pereira to be properly competetive, the squad is no good, etc. I am so sick and tired of people being duped like that by the spin-doc Mourinho.
If we only had a coach who actually trusted the players to beat teams on account of being very good at football we would not have dropped out against Zagreb, we would’ve at least attacked a very suspect Arsenal defence instead of rolling over to let them tickle our tummies and we would probably be in a far better league position.To finish this season trophyless and outside of top four should be considered a catastrophe because with this group of players it is! However I fear that if we keep Mourinho on this will be come the new normal, getting Europa League (and Mourinho claiming it’s his greatest achievement in his carrer) and still not win any trophies and the worst of all: Playing like a bunch of scared little shits against any decent opposition instead of taking the game to them. I fear that perhaps Kane will move on due to the playing style and limp attitude if this continues.
On a side note: I am actually one of the pricks of the week according to you, that is I thought the rule was that if a player is impeded in the penalty area but has no chance of controlling the ball or even reaching it before it goes out of play then it’s not a penalty. I don’t mind being corrected but these penalties awarded to Lacazette and now Kane (let’s face it, the ball was gone) go against everything I’ve seen in football the last 25 years. Hell, you only need to rewind back two NLD to see Son take a shot and then getting bulldozed by a two-footed tacke by Xhaka (who else?). The referee decision? Goal kick. Again I don’t mind being corrected and I haven’t actually read the rules on this but I haven’t ever seen those penalties been given before.
I am actually in a weird state now as a Spurs supporter who is against Mourinho being in charge. I find myself rooting for the other teams now, hoping we’ll go on a losing streak so Levy will be forced to sack The gutless one. It is a very strange situation to be in, to find oneself rooting against your own club. Many may call me a plastic-supporter or whatever but I really believe that in the long run we will be better off by writing this season off, sacking Mou, getting players confidence back (look at Luke Shaw!), getting the joy back at the club and appointing a proper manager who doesn’t approach our main rivals as if we’re Colchester playing peak Barcelona. End of rant. But I would be curious to hear what other Spurs fans think.
Sibbi, the Icelandic-Spur
The recent talk of a new golden generation of England players got me thinking about the old golden generation and how a combined ‘best XI’ team of old and new might currently look. Here’s the line-up from the 2006 Quarter final with Portugal:
Kane comes in for (Joe) Cole. (Possibly) Pickford for Robinson owing to his better distribution*. And Henderson for Hargreaves? (Although I recall Hargreaves being absolutely immense in that game v Portugal).
Hopefully in time the current young crop will develop into world class players like almost all of those in the 2006 WC team were and who definitely underachieved, given their talent. But currently they probably have some way to go.
Anthony (New Forest)
* I might have imagined this but I recall Robinson hitting the roof in one of the WC 2006 group games with a stupidly high kick, resulting in a drop ball!
Missing right backs…
Even as a United fan I’m pretty upset that Lee, Hornsey forgot to add Dan Petrescu to his list of Chelsea Right Backs from the Premier League Era. Come on Lee.
Simon (Woking) raises some very good points.
If I keep to my original allowance of 5 right backs I think I have to change the list completely.
Petrescu (Can’t believe I forgot Super Dan)
Gallas (I know he didn’t like playing there but F me was he brilliant alongside Terry and Carvalho there)
Steve Clarke (just for his “let’s banish the ghosts of the 1970’s team” speech before the 97 cup final”)
Honorable mentions to Ferreira (very solid if unspectacular), James (plenty of time to make this list) and Chappi Ferrer
As an aside. Thinking about the 97 cup final and how much it meant back then to a Chelsea fan who’d lived on very slim pickings through his childhood, does anybody else have the same feeling of success not meaning so much anymore? Maybe it’s age and responsibilities but despite travelling across Europe and up and down the country to watch Chelsea, FA Cup Finals barely even register now. The Conte final that we won a few years back I didn’t even watch and sort of forgot that it was on. I wonder if Man City fans feel the same or do they still get the giddy excitement of winning something?
Best same nationality XI
No doubt this has featured in the past, but in the list of hypotheticals, best team XI from a foreign nation is a good one.
For example, Arsenal’s French team might win the league:
Warmuz (thank Christ there was one)
Sagna – Koscielny – Gallas – Clichy
Viera – Petit
Wiltord – Nasri – Pires
The Spain team wouldn’t be too shabby either
Bellerin – Gabriel – Pablo Mari – Monreal
Ceballos – Arteta – Cesc
Cazorla – Perez (sigh) – Reyes
Anyone else got any suggestions for other teams? No English players for English teams, Spanish players for Spanish teams etc.
I imagine Barcelona’s Argentinian team might win it…
Newcastle fans’ reputation
Re. Kevin, Nottingham’s email on Newcastle fans’ reputation, I’d add a number 4: horse punching.
You shouldn’t punch horses…they’re majestic.
Bale / Mediawatch
Sorry but the point Mediawatch is trying to make about Gareth Bale stating he intends to return to Real Madrid is seems very odd to me. Am I misremembering or don’t on-loan players frequently express a hope, or even preference, for their loan to be made into a permanent transfer? Especially when there is an established clause/option to do so? I don’t think saying “yeah I’m a Real Madrid player but I hope Tottenham decide to make my loan permanent, it’s been great” would constitute a breach of contract.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Media darlings….maybe not
Firstly If you think rashford’s social cause of helping children with meals is a media hype i pity you. Anybody doing anything to help the community and society should always be appreciated no matter who does it. Just because he earns big bucks he does not strike you as someone who stands up for a social cause? Is it his fault that he earns more than normal people? For the amount of money he earns he does not need to come out and stand for a social cause at all but he still is and that has to be applauded. This is not a media hype this is giving credit where its due. And also he did not strike you as a social warrior before???? The lad is 23. Did you care about any social issues at that age?? Ffs do something concrete in your life before slating someone else.
Also man utd are anything but media darlings. In fact nobody other than us few man utd fans thinks ole is ‘the man’. His credentials have been questioned at all the times. He has been called the pe teacher,a manager nobody would swap their manager with and so many other things by media which frankly are downright insulting. Even the managers of relegates teams are not spoken about like this. Its only few of us man utd fans who support ole and even we know that he is not world class. But for the first time since the days of moyes,van gaal and jose there is some sort of stability at the club and ole has brought that.
Also we know that apart from a select few our players are not good enough. We don’t have a solid gk,cb,dm,rw. Compare that with the first xi’s of chelsea and pool we are doing much better and we are glad. But there will be article written about how man utd need a trophy. That is not being media darling,that is criticism.
In fact there are other managers who get undue praise. Arteta for example.arsenal are 9th!!! Yes 9th!! They were 8th i think when emery was sacked. How’s that for a progress !! But media will keep praising him even though he is going to finish 7th on best case scenario. But still at the end of the year’s winners and losers arteta will be a winner and ole will be a loser. This is what is called media darling.
Also you think that you would only choose players who have won trophies. By that logic why is harry kane in the team?what has he won? Players should be picked only and only based on their current form and on that basis shaw gets in and taa out. In fact if taa was selected that would be favouritism.
So next time when you write please get your facts straight and understand what is written by the media and not how much. Cheers
Swapnil, Mumbai (man utd)
P.s. JB please write which team you support so that other get a chance to berate your team as well!! Its only fair don’t you think?