Even Harry Winks can’t save Ten Hag from sack as Man Utd defenders offered solace

Editor F365
Erik ten Hag during a match

Tottenham don’t want Winks, but Liverpool and Man Utd should in a Mailbox full of overreaction and laughing at said overreaction.

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com.


Winks Winks nudge nudge
There is currently lots of tedious discussion around who Man Utd and Liverpool should sign to strengthen their midfields, and I am surprised that nobody has suggested Harry Winks.

He has an excellent range of passing, a great engine and is positionally sound. He is also a top professional and is an England international in the prime of his career. I would be gutted to see him leave but with the sheer strength in depth Spurs have in our midfield currently he is our fifth choice central midfielder.

What do Man Utd and Liverpool fans think about this idea?
Barry Fox

Ten Hag out
Ten Hag wont last the season. He came in with no plan, no strategy for a rebuild except to try to raid Ajax for players. And Ajax wont cut it in the Premier League. Man united need to look for a more qualified, bigger personality manager, someone who can attract top players. They also need to stop wasting funds on paying over the odds for players (wages and transfers) – Sancho is no 70 million player, Rashford is a squad player at best. As a Liverpool fan I would like to see a competitive united – dont want to watch games like the 9 – 0 aggregate last season.
Heavy-D, Cape Town (Frenkies gone to hollywood)

Man Utd overreaction
Am I the only one who thinks there is just way too much of an overreaction to United losing to Brighton? Yes, the first half was pretty shocking with Brighton having over 10 shots at goal, scoring twice with the United defense making Danny Welbeck look like Prime Theirry Henry.

But is this surprising in any way, shape or form? United didn’t deserve to win of course, morale is evidently still low from last season. But fuck me everyone needs to chill, this is Ten Haag’s first EVER match managing United in a competitive game…what is wrong with some fans and why are they falling with the obsession of United from the media, it shows an embarrassing naivety from the fanbase and also some pundits as well.

The media will always be interested in United due to the commercial revenue they make and the overall history of the club, especially since the Premier League started in 1992. I am not saying United should cling or be proud of that in any way at all, what’s done is done, the most important thing at the moment is Ten Haag figuring out his best XI and then afterwards 17-18 players he can trust on a weekly basis.

Even worse than the media having a constant hate boner for United are the fans. I saw one fan write an article in the Mailbox last month comparing Sancho, Martial & Rashford to the Rooney, Ronaldo & Tevez Trio that tore teams apart between 2007-2009, winning around 5-6 major honors in those two years. I mean REALLY? Due to a decent Pre-season in Asia & Australia? Whatever drugs that guy was smoking or taking, I want to know because he’s either taking the piss or as famously quoted by Roy Keane in ‘Living in Kookoo land’

If fans don’t want to support the team or aren’t going to be realistic that this season is going to be a LOT of chopping and changing from Ten Haag, then I would heavily advise not to watch most games this season. Also someone needs to give Bruno a slap and tell him he isn’t Iniesta or Ronaldinho…some of his passes on Sunday against Brighton were the reason we got hit on the break so many times. Also first goal was more or less his fault and could have stopped the goal if he had tracked back.
Rami, Manchester

It’s quite amusing seeing the Man Utd over-reactions, they go from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Firstly, one game has passed this season. Utd just narrowly lost to a team who very recently beat them 4-0 and played them off the park that time. If you expected E10H to turn things around in the space of one pre-season then you have a problem bigger than utds.

Secondly, it’s really funny seeing “reviews” of the opening game from “fans” who go into detail on what was wrong and also admitting they didn’t watch the game. So basically you’re saying your opinion was made up on reading something in the Sun or on some clickbait article. Well done matey, you really are adding to society.

Basically what I’m saying is that if you’re a fan of utd you first need to give the new manager and his team time to adjust. And if you’re a fan of utd or any team for that matter you should be offering your opinion based on football you actually saw rather than a second hand view of some reporter paid for clicks who clearly has to overexaggerate every win or loss or Ronaldo non-event.

Please give it 10 games, maybe even watch some highlights if you can, then make an informed opinion. Personally I’m watching it all with interest and some hope of starting to build and climb out of the shithole we’re in.
Jon, Cape Town (those who criticise TAA probably also don’t watch many games)

Man Utd solution
I guess it’s time to show my face, now the bruising has diminished after a frankly appalling weekend.

Do I still have faith? Yes, absolutely. While “fans” on social media and the like are losing their minds, the reality is that the underlying causes of our dire situation have been removed. Bar the owners of course, but no amount of protests will separate a greedy yank from their money tree. (Yes Klopp Legend, we all still want them out.) The recruitment team is overhauled and while that hasn’t meant a sudden flood of top class players banging on the door, it does mean we are making considered and sensible decisions. No one can argue with three signings or the departures, no one would suggest Antony is worth the asking price and walking away is proof that we won’t be held over a barrel and while we wait on De Jong at least there’s reason for some confidence. Even there we’ve agreed the fee and won’t move.

While many fans scream for Tielemans and Neves the manager has already recognised they aren’t the calibre of upgrade needed. Sure they’re better than our current two but he believes he can coach better from what he has – including the youngsters – and based on his history I think it’s fair to trust him.

I fancy that next game we’ll see a different line-up. I seriously doubt that he’ll make the same mistakes twice. Fred clearly has the memory of a goldfish, with his pre-season work and earned credit completely out the window. McTominay was of course poor, but for some reason he was taking it on himself to fill the “line breaking running” gap while being completely unsuited. He’s a decent enough player, but not in that role.

Maguire has once again done a Maguire. Quelle surprise. Hopelessly caught flat footed, and vague. And his post match interview makes me want to weep, such his is lack of self awareness. And unlike the other two, he is already in his best position. He has no excuses.

Whoever does well in these their auditions will retain their spot and the others will be dropped. There’s no room for emotion. The manager is building for success, I can’t see him pandering to sore egos.

I fancy we’ll see Martinez in midfield, anchoring it, and hopefully either Eriksen or one of the young lads in the more progressive role.

I also hope we give Rashford a run up front now Martial is inevitably injured. Yes, he missed a good chance, and he’s not the most clinical finisher but that shit happens to the best strikers. The keeper did well, far better than De Gea would have. Marcus deserves a run, at least he’s getting into positions.

So yes, not a pleasant weekend, but the hope remains. Without it, you die. I just hope that when the good times roll back in, we don’t see United fans cherishing a single league title as some reason for misplaced arrogance.

Excuses for the Man Utd defenders
How unlucky Manchester United are. They sign highly-rated center back after highly-rated center back, only to find out that – upon actually starting to play for United – all of these players were actually terrible all along! 80m pound hero of the World Cup and Euros Harry Maguire? Turns out he’s actually the worst defender in the league! World Cup and multiple Champions League winning central defender Raphael Varane? Imagine United’s shock when they realised that all of those trophies were a complete fluke! And how about their new 60m pound Argentine defender, that our manager – along with managers of other top teams – so desperately wanted  to sign? I’ve frankly seen enough in his 90 minutes against Brighton to conclude that he’s useless, too short, and we better start playing him in midfield.

If any other club had that kind of luck with buying players they would surely curse the Gods, engage in some spiritual cleansing process, or at least complain to the relevant Ombudsman because they’d have clearly been frauded. One might be tempted to think though: isn’t this series of high-profile defensive flops just a liiiiiiiiiittttlllle bit of a coincidence? Couldn’t there be a simpler explanation?

Bear with me while we engage in this frankly crazy thought experiment, and imagine for a brief moment that these obviously talented defenders haven’t just developed two left feet as soon as they walked through the doors at Carrington. Might there be other explanations? Let’s look around the team.

The first and the most glaring issue is one David De Gea. He has presented subsequent United managers with a serious problem given that he is somehow completely unable to play any actual football. He’s so bad at it, in fact, that the Spanish public and squad selectors tired of him a long time ago now, preferring Brighton’s recently victorious Robert Sanchez over the United stopper. De Gea is allergic to acting as a sweeper, and I’ve started wishing that he was also allergic to passing the ball, because he is completely terrible at it. The result of De Gea’s incompetence and/or unwillingness to play like any other modern goalkeeper? United’s defensive line is forced to push way back, covering the spaces that Ederson and Allison cover admirably in their respective teams.

Ahead of these terrible, awful, useless defenders sits a midfield double pivot that is probably amongst the worst in the league. I actually quite like Fred and McTominay, but it has been obvious for years that they are simply not good enough for a team that wants to play in a way that United wants to play. Those defenders behind them (who, remember, aren’t worthy of being professional footballers at all, let alone for a club of the stature of Manchester United) are therefore left with zero protection.

The team is therefore stretched vertically across the pitch, with massive gaps forming across everywhere. Defense is no longer linked to midfield, and midfield is no longer linked to attack. Solskjaer was not the manager Man United needed, but he at least recognised the team’s weaknesses and turned us temporarily into a useful counter-attacking unit which was deadly in transition, mitigating to some degree the limitations of the squad.

Nobody seemed to seriously consider that United desperately needed a goalkeeper this summer, given that on paper they possess two of the highest rated goalkeepers in the league. But look at how much Pep was willing to risk by swapping out Hart for Bravo. Everything these days starts with the goalkeeper, and as long as United persist with De Gea in between the sticks they will consistently be found out by well organised teams like Brighton.

But, of course, realising the problem isn’t always the first step to fixing it, which is a fact especially evident when it comes to United’s midfield. True, you haven’t been able to move these last few years for people realising the problem in United’s midfield, they’ve been realising it so frequently and with such ferocity. Bloody realising the problem everywhere! But, of course, we still haven’t actually signed anyone. McFred will play on, unless by some miracle James Garner truly is the finished article.

But, of course, what I have just engaged in is pure fantasy, merely a looney thought experiment for the purpose of meaningless argument. The problem, when you get down to it is clearly the very highly rated center backs, who are truly shit. Everyone and their mother can see that.
Yours in righteous sarcasm, Matt (MUFC, Berlin) 


Trent’s defending
Trent didn’t grow up as a defender and he’s mostly going up against attackers who grew up as attackers.  At the highest level, those fine margins matter and his mistakes are usually just being slightly out of position, or not quite instinctive in how he deals with balls that people who grew up as defenders know how to deal with through years of repetition.

We also compare his play going forward with his defending.  That’s a mismatch.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold is beaten to the ball in the air by Aleksandar Mitrovic


Classified results
The BBC’s decision not to read the classified results as part of Sports Report has naturally been met with outcry. It would be cynical to suggest that if everyone who was loudly opposing the decision had tuned in, then they would have carried on. Instead, the reaction reminded me of a decision taken in CAMRA to abolish a monthly printed newspaper, instead adding it to a quarterly feature-led magazine. Only a small fraction of the membership actually opted in to receive printed copies, mainly because most of the information was already available elsewhere; for those who did, it was mainly the convenience of having it in one place. The difference is that this took up a huge amount of budget, whereas the classified results presumably do not.

I think this is the rationale behind the decision: the number of people for whom the only way they can find out the football scores is to have the radio on at a specific time is very small. The information is widely available elsewhere, mainly online. The only people who would need to hear the results instead of read them are motorists, but even then, if you set off before all the games have finished, you can read it when you get home, or in a newspaper the following day. The main thing they have going for them is the convenience of having all this information in a place where they have been for many, many years, but that isn’t the only place to find it.

Aside from the nostalgia, summed up best by Jack Pitt-Brooke’s “do I miss it or do I miss being 10 years old in the car with my dad”, to my mind the classified results meant that football had finished for the weekend. Whether you listen to the radio or watch Soccer Saturday (or its equivalent on other channels), it gets quite frantic as they go from ground to ground, wherever the drama is; someone with a calm voice reading the results signified that everyone had got their breath back. When Saturday games were only played at 3pm, it made sense to read the results of every game at 5pm, but now the 5.30pm kickoff is here to stay. If they are meant to signify the conclusion of the day’s football, it makes no sense to read them out while there is another fixture still to play. In that instance, it would make more sense to read them at 7.30pm, but of course there would be less interest as people get on with their evenings.

It’s a shame they aren’t doing it anymore, but at the same time, it seems like a weird thing to be outraged about.
Ed Quoththeraven


Not sure I really agree with Johnny Nic’s rose-tinted piece on the decision to axe the classified results – and interesting that the image that accompanies the piece doesn’t have a single fan listening to a radio. No one’s even looking at their phone.

I get what he’s invoking and I remember the days of standing outside Dixons or Currys with various other males of all ages, on a Saturday afternoon, a few words exchanged in a 5-minute bonding session, watching the results come in before we all go our separate ways. But since the start of the Premier League with games played on Friday nights, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays the classified results, whether on the telly or the radio, has never been the same. Ever since the full classifieds did not feature the full top division (and often, these days, a high riding Champo team or two) it lost something for me. And the birth of instant mobile data at our fingertips has pushed it even further into the past. Not to mention being able to keep an eye on all the results via a live score app while the games are being played.

I very much doubt there will be fans getting in their cars to go home after a game, desperate to know how Tranmere got on because their mate is a Tranmere fan and went to the game, cursing the axing of the classified results on Radio 5. If they wanted to know they’d already know – and if they really didn’t know because they didn’t have a smart phone they could ask virtually anyone around them, like they did back when they relied on a fan with a transistor radio broadcasting the full classified results.
Mort Snort, Saints fan