Gary Neville epitomises ‘delirium to despair’ Man Utd problem as pundit told to ‘get a grip’

Editor F365
Man Utd legend Gary Neville
Gary Neville hasn't held back on his criticism of Manchester United.

Manchester United are either close to a title challenge or a complete mess and ‘caricature’ Gary Neville is leading the Red Devil fan ‘frenzy’. That and much, much more in a bumper Mailbox.

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Gary Neville is the problem
A couple of things on Manchester United.

1. Gary Neville has completely lost his shit by now. He’s so wrapped up in his hatred of the owners he has lost the ability to cogently analyse what is happening to them on the pitch. The best he can offer these days is a caricature of himself; an emotional fan boy, shouty, irritated, using words like ‘disgrace’ and ‘joke’ all the time. Fine, if you’re a season ticket holder sitting on the Stretford End. Unfortunately not so good when you’re (allegedly) the #1 pundit on the nation’s premier provider of live football on TV. He has regressed dramatically as a broadcaster in the last 5 years. The very least Sky can do right now is take him off Manchester United matches. It’s embarrassing.

2. Related to point 1, in a way. Manchester United fans don’t help themselves or the club. Every time there’s been moderate short-term improvement (which every coach from Van Gaal onwards has coaxed out of the squad at one time or another), they just can’t help but work themselves into a frenzy. They win a domestic cup, and all of a sudden they’re only “a couple of key additions away from a title challenge!”. Which is of course, absolute bollocks. But it doesn’t stop them getting giddy. Then, after wholly unrealistic expectations have been set, when it inevitably goes tits up the following year, it’s time to get the Norwich scarves out and before the clocks have gone back, they’re back into full-on crisis mode.

The whole psychodrama surrounding the club, all this lurching from delirium to despair, is unhealthy and has an enormous part to play in the mess.

United fans – none more so than Neville – need to get a grip, start getting humble, and accept that there is no short cut. There is no sticking plaster. Success is several years away.
Andrew H, Swansea. 


If not the Ajax way, then why Ten Hag?
One of the things that I was most surprised about in the post-Derby reaction, was comments made by Ten Hag regarding United and Ajax. He claims that he wasn’t brought into United to create an Ajax like system and that they will never play like that.

I’d love to know why he believes he was appointed over other managers if it wasn’t to create a specific and sustainable style of football based around the football he’s played his whole career. What exactly is his job in his eyes, if it wasn’t to do this?

One of the things I was least surprised about in the post-Derby reaction, was comments by Gary Neville and the more myopic of Mailboxers who are rotating between that the penalty was “soft” or “not a pen at all”. The fact that an extremely well experienced and well qualified referee on the pitch who knows the rules better than all of them decided that it was seems to have passed them by. As did the fact that a extremely well experienced and well qualified VAR referee who knows the rules better than all of them decided that it was seems to have passed them by. As did the fact that a extremely well experienced and well qualified Assistant VAR referee who knows the rules better than all of them decided that it was seems to have passed them by. As did the fact that a extremely well experienced and well qualified referee WHO WAS LITERALLY STOOD NEXT TO NEVILLE IN THE BOOTH AND TOLD HIM IT WAS A PEN IN REAL TIME who knows the rules better than all of them decided that it was seems to have passed them by.

But I’m sure all these guys were collectively mistaken and in fact the United fan commentator and the United fan commenters are actually all better referees.

We’re now in the period where because a referee has made a mistake, it must mean that every referee always makes mistakes, even if numerous of them agree in both real time, after watching replays, and in their comments after the match to the media. No wonder the respect levels at grassroots are non-existent and every moron believes they are actually sharper and better than these people.

Maybe what we really need to do is encourage these people who are very clearly more educated and better judges than professional referees and put them in a grassroots game so we can finally have this pipeline of clearly world class referees?

Go on lads, show us all where they’ve all gone wrong:
Paul, Manchester


‘Hard times’ at Man Utd
I found John Nic’s “why do man U still have so many fans” article quite interesting, mostly because it highlights just how much expectations of success have changed for these rich clubs.  To read the article, you would think Man U fans have been thru 10 years of hell.

I actually know Man U and Arsenal fans who now tell me they have proved they are ‘real’ fans because they have stuck with their clubs through the ‘hard times’.  Seriously!  Hard times!  Both those clubs have won 4 trophies each during the last 10-years.  They have finished between 2nd and 8th in the PL every season.  Their new fans have never experienced hard times.

If they had actual hard times, say 10-years of bottom half mediocrity, it might be a surprise that they are still popular.   And probably the truth is many of those new fans would have lost interest.

The problem is these rich clubs have enjoyed such total domination of domestic football since the start of the PL that it has completely reset their fans expectations.  Five rich teams have hoovered up the domestic trophies.  So much so that they can now convince themselves that only 4 trophies in 10 years is actually hard times.

I first started following football as a kid back in the 70s.  At the start of each season, every team in the topflight fancied their chances of winning a cup.  The trophies were spread around (although Liverpool were a bit greedy).  Winning 4 trophies in 10 years would be considered a period of great success.  Oh, and teams like Spurs, Man U and Chelsea were relegated.  That actually is hard times.

So yeah, I understand most of these new fans that follow these rich clubs started supporting them at the height of their most successful period, often despite having no geographical or emotional attachment to the club, purely on the expectation that they always win.  Their expectations are high.  But let’s not pander to the idea that the poor souls are now going through hard times.
Jim (THFC) 


A lifelong Man Utd dream
A United fan for over 20 years now, I finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of watching Manchester United play live! (I live in India). It was honestly a moment i have been waiting for my whole life since i saw Beckham for the first time in a United jersey. I got tickets for me & my wife for the match against City, and went in alone for the earlier match against Copenhagen knowing that a win against City was not really going to happen. Here are the highlights:

– Living in Milton Keynes with some family, it was a 7 hour drive on both days. Atleast i got to see 1 win & 1 goal….

– The stadium seems like it was built in the 80’s and then never upgraded. Absolutely shambolic compared to some of the stunning stadiums we have in India. I was honestly shocked at how low class and cheap it looked. Glazers have well & truly sucked all money from United.

– Stretford end was AMAZING! the fans, the chants, the atmosphere was brilliant over both the games. Even when we were losing and most fans left, Stretford end was singing, cheering, trying to chant for their club. Proud to have been a part of it, and also the touching tribute to the legend that is Sir Bobby. Was beautiful and electric in the stadium.

– The pitch is much smaller than it looks on the telly. The game a lot easier to play, which makes it all the more shocking at how bad united were

– Dalot easily the worst player i have seen in all my years of watching football (maybe he had 2 bad games, but my god he was rubbish), and Rashford a close second. Honestly, a fart from one of our players would trouble City more than what Rashford or Dalot did against City or Copenhagen. It was like playing with 9 and a half players. It was truly disgusting how many times Rashford failed to even jog when the ball was there for the taking.

– Ten Hag, along with earlier United managers, just lacks the balls to make the tough calls. Even I know for a fact that 6-7 players are not even close to top class, yet he persists with them. I’d rather grow a pair and play some 17-18 year old kids. This season is finished anyways, atleast make a statement and show that mediocrity isnt accepted at United.

– The only direction of play in both matches was backward. The players were clueless, attacks broke down with a stupid idiotic pass back to Maguire or Onana. Zero attacking intent, zero risks taken, zero vision. It was so so so frustrating to watch that i was in half a mind to risk a life time ban just to run to Ten Hag & ask him WHY! We are losing anyways, just pass the fucking ball ahead and make some runs! The play was so so so so so so bad. Words cannot describe it.

– On current form, not a single player (bar Bruno maybe?) Would get into the starting XI of: City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, PSG, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern & many more. For a club that is supposed to be the best in the world, are we really accepting players who arent even in the top 30 players to play in their positon?? Its shocking how low the standards are.

– The gulf in class between the very basics at United (passing, running, attacking, defending) & City is insane. It felt like i was watching my highschool team play. I know for a fact that there were atleast 10-15 moments in both games combined which any 15 year old kid would be able to successfully do, simple easy forward passes, simple finishes, simple defending. Players just did not seem interested.

– Forced my wife into a 7 hour round trip to watch the match against City, which cost us 600 pounds just for the tickets. She kept asking why the red team kept passing the ball to the blue team, and why the red team kept passing it backwards. I had no answer. Doubt she will now join me in my lifelong passion for Manchester United, absolutely sucks that she had to watch that as her first taste of United. Tried to tell her that the only way is up from here, but i dont believe that myself anymore.

– Did not buy a single scarf or souvenir, as United do not deserve my hard earned money. (Other than the insane amount i spent on buying resold tickets)

– The first half against Copenhagen & the second half against City made me feel sure that i can play better than most of the players & definitely manage better than Ten Hag, who seems just lost. I like him, but he doesnt have the guts to change this. He got everything wrong. Line up, subs, timing of subs, tactics, attitude, sideline behavior. He is in hiding.

– The noise and vibe after tthe Maguire goal & Onana pen save against Copenhagen will be one of the best memories of my life, and i will hold on to that when dealing with the many many depressing matches that come in ahead.

– Hojlund deserves much better, he needs to improve on his finishing but his pace and hold up play was a joy to watch. The only player who was exciting to see live.

– City are just so slick to watch live, their have been trained and drilled into perfect passing, positioning & gameplay. They look like a team thats cohesive and coached.

– All in all, it was a dream that was 20+ years in the making, filled with euphoria after the Onana save against Copenhagen, and ended with silence and depression after the Foden goal. Still wouldnt change it for the world.

– Even after winning the treble, smashing us 3-0 and generally dominating since years, they are a team who dont really have many fans or overall a lot of hype in the Manchester. They dint seem to have people who care about them the way fans should! Even their players and coach seem so robotic. So the loss hurts less than what it would (or did) against Liverpool or Arsenal. Manchester was, is, and always will be red.
Regards, Aman, India.


Liverpool drop to 12th
So we’re 10 games in and the narrative has clearly been set for the season already. Spurs will be champs, City and Arsenal will duke it out for second, Liverpool and Villa will compete for 4th and 5th, United will be relegated.

There’s probably no point playing the other 28 games but, just out of interest, I looked to this time last season to see how it panned out (really scraping the barrel of hope here but work with me). League table at this time last season below, with finishing position in brackets.

1) Arsenal (2)
2) City (1)
3) Tottenham (8)
4) Chelsea (12)
5) United (3)
6) Newcastle (4)
7) Brighton (6)
8)Liverpool (5)

So what can we conclude from this based on the current league table? Without question, it means Arsenal will win the league, Spurs second, City will drop to 8th (financial misdeeds finally catch up with them through a points deduction?), Liverpool will drop to 12th (happy days), Villa to finish 3rd, Newcastle 4th and the mighty United snick in 5th to get the last CL spot. I suspect most of us would be happy enough with that.
Garey Vance, MUFC


Why Spurs won’t win the league
In all the various articles on this website (and elsewhere) about why Spurs will or won’t win the league, no-one is mentioning the most obvious and glaring fact of them all.

Yes, because of the lack of games, they have a chance. The football has certainly been fantastic so far. Yes, They only have a maximum of 35 games left to play this season (if they made it to the FA Cup Final) when other teams will play 50 or 60. Any risk to a title challenge from key injuries is mitigated by the way they’ll be able to keep the players relatively fresh. It’s entirely possible they can play the season with only 15 or 16 players getting regular time. If that happens, they’re definitely in with a shout.

And yes, on the other side of the coin, this is Tottenham we’re talking about. We’re pretty creative at inventing new ways to fail. I’m sure Tottenham will get that oh-so-creative-label of ‘spursy’ when we don’t win the league this year, even though Arsenal were even bigger bottle jobs for their failure to win anything last season given how far ahead they were.

But, amusing as it may be, taking a pop at Arsenal is not the point of this missive. I just want to point out that the one thing no pundit is mentioning in relation to Spurs’ chances is the January international tournaments. Rather than the conjecture of whether this or that player might get injured, let’s talk about the rock solid certainties that three key players will be missing for a month. Yves Bissouma and Pape Sarr will be at the African Cup of Nations between 13 January and 11 February. Son Heung Min will be away at the Asian Cup from 12 January to 10 February. All three play for decent countries with good chances of going deep into their respective tournaments. In that time, Spurs will play Man U (A), Brentford (H), Everton (A) and Brighton (H) and (hopefully) an FA Cup 4th round tie.

Admittedly, it’s not the worst run of fixtures. It could be worse. But none of them are complete gimmes either. So without Biss and Sarr at the base of the midfield and Sonny scoring the goals for a month, and with all else being equal, I’ll be amazed if we’re still in the title conversation come the end of Feb.
Father Dave (Maidstone, THFC and v.much enjoying the ride even if I know we won’t win)

Tottenham vs Palace
Tottenham players celebrate scoring against Crystal Palace.


VAR corruption or incompetence
I’m only going to mention the Diaz non-goal briefly, in the context that more than a few people suggested that the game wasn’t honest any more, with accusations of conspiracies and corruption, and I looked on thinking, no, that’s nonsense, it’s just incompetence. And having heard the recordings, then I think I was probably right.

But then I, as a Liverpool fan, watched the penalty decision at the weekend, and it really felt to me as if they were desperate to find a problem, and it occurred to me that this is far from the first time that the idiot in charge of VAR has done this. We all know – every single one of us – that if VAR was as forensic after every corner, then they would be giving half a dozen a match. So why did they go to such lengths to give this one?

Why does VAR sometimes go to such lengths to manipulate the on-field referee for some things, and not for others? How many times do we watch a match, see an incident, only for seconds later to hear “check over”, when it looks like something amiss may well have happened? How come VAR can do this in ten seconds for some things, and then take 3-4 minutes for others?

If it’s not corruption, then it is criminal incompetence, and we are watching it happen week in, week out. The results of games are being constantly affected by deeply arbitrary decisions made at deeply arbitrary times, and whilst we all complain about it, the problem gets worse. A little lip service is paid, sometimes apologies are made, but that only happens when they are caught well and truly out and have no choice.

We can all argue that it was technically a penalty at the weekend, and it probably was, but we have all seen far more blatant incidents at corners that are completely ignored by VAR. Inconsistency could be perceived as the problem, but IMO it’s something else. What motivates the VAR official to be so forensic with some situations, and so blasé with others? There is something going on. Perhaps there is a psychological explanation, rather than corruption, but whatever it is, when we will as football fans finally declare that enough is enough?

For these things to be happening so regularly – it’s a weekly occurrence – it is nothing short of a scandal.

I love watching United get beaten. I should have wanted them to take points off City at the weekend, but as a Liverpool fan I am hard wired to want United to lose every time they play. So if someone with my motivations is seeing something wrong when United concede a penalty, then maybe, just maybe, there is something very wrong with the game.
Matthew (I still love watching the United fans in the comments trying to make sense of what is happening at their club)


The dodgy stick
I know this has been covered a million times but have you seen the state of the Carabao Cup coverage this week? 2 games out of 8 staggered against each other and the highlights are at 1130?

I’ve always been on the side of paying for what you watch from both a moral and a quality perspective – after all if we don’t pay then ultimately we’ll end up with much lower TV deals for clubs and the football will suffer, but it really feels like the piss is being taken.

You can’t tell me that with 800 channels on Sky and four for ITV (one of which appears to just show the same episode of Poirot on repeat) that there isn’t room in the schedule for these games to be televised? They’re showing the highlights so presumably the cameras and commentators are there?

But no, as far as I can work out the only way to see what happened would be illegally or to stay up way past my (and my son’s) bedtime to watch what will presumably be a 5 minute highlights package. …and you have to feel for Exeter, Mansfield and Port Vale; great cup run lads, shame nobody can see and no TV money.

It’s becoming harder and harder to make the argument against the dodgy stick.
Matt (Angrier about this than I thought) UK