In defence of Ed Woodward and Man Utd’s noodle partners…

Date published: Tuesday 11th June 2019 9:34 - Ian Watson

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Woodward is a football man
I have repeatedly read that Woodward is not a ‘football man’, but can I ask the mailbox what one actually is? Woodward has been there for longer than most people stay in jobs, and being seated at the top table for all negotiations, after this amount of time, he has to be assumed to be one. He never played professional football, but neither did Horgan or Levy (to my knowledge), so it doesn’t seem to matter whether or not you are a ‘football man’, just whether or not you are good at your job, which he clearly isn’t. The trouble for United is that the marketing/sponsorship behemoth that is in place will continue to deliver revenue streams, which is ultimately what the Glazer’s care about, and which masks his true ‘performance’. Either way, he now must be considered a ‘football man’, albeit an inept one.
Nick in Woking


…Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with the sentiment behind Paul Murphy’s email – If Ed is chasing Bale, it’s driven by commercial concerns and I don’t think it would work out well.

But I do want to pick up on this tedious noodle partner reference he used that people keep trotting out.

Every team in the league engages in that sort of nonsense… Paul mentioned City and Liverpool, so taking each in turn by way of example:

1) Liverpool do not have an official noodle partner, but they have equally stupid arrangements. We all know that Adam Lallana’s face wouldn’t be anywhere near as soft but for freebies Liverpool’s official male grooming partner.

They also have an official baby stroller, and coconut-based foodstuff partners – either of which is just as lame as noodles.

One can only assume that their relationship with their official Japanese processed ham partner is because of shared values, not because of the big Yen involved. Incidentally, while not a producer of cup noodles, they are a producer of freeze dried foodstuffs made specifically for sale to the cup noodle manufacturers. Liverpool couldn’t get the big cup noodle endorsement, so had to go further up the unglamorous supply chain – the losers.

2) City do not appear to be in the cup noodle game. They do however have a sponsorship deal with Power Horse Energy drink, which I think is like Aldi-brand Red Bull.

City actually have relatively few official partnerships, as befits a club with a very small fan base that major sponsors wouldn’t be particularly interested in. A curious number of City’s deals are with Abu Dhabi based outfits… not sure why.

Honourable mention to Everton – not because of Angry Birds, but because of their official snack-size salami partners.

To be clear though, I am not criticising any of these clubs (except City – obviously). I’m just fed up of the Noodle banter – everyone football team does it and, as a United fan, it’s the only aspect of our club that isn’t a bloody mess – so leave it alone!
Andy (MUFC)


De Ligt decision
Lots of arguments in the comments about whether PSG would be a bad destination for De Ligt as opposed to Man U who play in a stronger league and hence would develop him better.

So let’s compare them to their equivalent sugar daddy club in England, Man City.

The past 7 seasons have seen both PSG and City compete in the CL. City have 1 semi (2016), 2 quarters, 3 round of 16 and one exit at the group stages. PSG have 4 quarters and 3 round of 16.

Very similar records. City aren’t more competitive in Europe than PSG. Their players aren’t better, so there’s no evidence that playing at MU would develop De Ligt better than at PSG.
Mike, CFC


Sir Daniel
Reading F365 Top ten English players who need a transfer this summer, I felt a wave of panic.

If Daniel Levy sells Dier to Ed Woodward, adds £20m to the kitty and hoovers up Fernandez or Ndombele, he might be due a statue, or at very least his own DVD.
Nick (chuck Trippier in and he’ll get both) J


If VAR is wrong, I don’t want to be right
In what’s probably a first, I’m going to have to thoroughly disagree with John Nicholson. The game needs technology. Correct decisions need to be made. If it’s via the ref in real time or via VAR, then so be it.

I used to be of the opinion that if the vast majority of the ball was over the line then it’s a goal, but goal line technology determined that a Liverpool shot against City was 11mm short. A goal that would have most likely handed Liverpool the league.

If embracing technology to prevent that scenario is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Big D, Luxembourg


…know there has been plenty said on this subject already, but here goes, I might get shot down. I am in favour of VAR, if we get more correct decisions, then it is a good thing. Here we go……

VAR was introduced to help eradicate clear and obvious errors, but if it takes 3-4 minutes to decide if the decision is correct or to correct it, then it is not a clear and obvious error. We want to keep the spontaneity in football, but that just isn’t going to happen the way we are currently using it. If there was a time limit, of lets say 1 minute, to decide if there is a clear reason to overturn the on pitch decision, we would solve some of the current complaints about the time taken, I also think it brings it back to the spirit of why we introduced it. As an example, when the ball hit Chilwell on the back, it was clear quickly it wasn’t a penalty – if it had been given, it would have been quickly overturned as a clear and obvious error. Lingard’s goal required stop-start footage, lines across the pitch and lots of back and forth to see the precise moment the ball was kicked to determine a marginal off-side call, that even the Dutch defenders called and then accepted quickly – not a clear and obvious error. I’m not for a second saying that the wrong call was made, just that it wasn’t in the spirit of the game.

As decisions are subjective, we will never agree on every decision, but that’s part of what we want, it’s the decisions that are obviously errors we want rid of. Close calls are part of the fabric and we generally accept that. In cricket, the third umpire has to have clear reason not to stick with the on-field decision (which is the default option), surely there are guidelines that can be drawn up? The only one I can think of is the time limit, with the default of sticking with the on-field decision unless we can clearly see that something has happened that requires the decision to be overturned. Naturally there needs to be help from the TV companies to ensure swift replays are available.

In short, we’ll never go back to not having VAR, but there is no reason why we can’t have a clearer methodology in the decision making process. I never berated a bad call from a referee, if I could understand how the decision was arrived at. With clearer guidelines that are well known and publicised, we will be able to better understand our game. We can still debate, argue and banter with each other until our hearts are content.
Gary Clarke, Chelsea Fan, Bedford.


…There’s nothing wrong with mathematics in sport, just see how Duckworth-Lewis, the most mathematical of mathematics in sport has changed the farcical into the fair. VAR seems to be one of those many things that divide opinion but it shouldn’t have to. Johnny Nics article further exasperates this into a black and white issue but ignores that there might be a happy compromise as other sports have discovered.

I don’t like VAR for many of the reasons listed but how can I be opposed to something that could have prevented that little Argentinian druggie tw@t scoring with his hand against England all those years ago regardless of whether the end result would have changed? And maybe I’d be able to see that aforementioned Argentinian for his talent and look past that one incident, but I can’t. Who would argue against the goal-line technology that now makes it clear whether a ball has crossed the line or not? There’s nothing wrong with that technology so why can’t technology add more clarity? And for the record, Lampard’s ghost goal would not have changed that result any more than a certain Russian linesmans’ flag would have as these games were both won by more than one clear goal.

In time, I’m sure you could microchip the ball and all the players and their boots and make an offside call instantaneous. You could probably also have a way of knowing who is interfering with play or not using logic and technology to see if that player was anywhere near the path of the ball, or Player = Alexis Sanchez, clearly not interfering – but we’re definitely not there yet. Penalty calls however are so subjective that even after 10 slo-mo replays from 5 angles a team of pundits still don’t agree – partly as they don’t know the rules as they don’t need to as “they played the game at the highest level” – this is where VAR needs to be improved. The time we have to wait is terrible but what if we actually learnt from other sports and took the best from those?

The sport of egg-chasing has the same issue with having to wait for a call and it doesn’t ruin the game, partly because they’ve had it a long time and the calls have got quicker and the fans have got used to it. In cricket though there are 2 great things about that which VAR should consider. Firstly, that a marginal call does not get overturned, so if someone’s big toe is offside then it doesn’t matter. And secondly, limiting the number of reviews (works in tennis too) moves the pressure away from umpires and back to the players. Give each team 1 VAR per half that expires at the end of the half, if they chose to review a blatant dive then they’ve wasted it and if all VARs are gone. And at least fans know that at most they have to survive 2 of these per half.
Jon, Cape Town (the transfer market has truly gone mad when a not very good team can let Herrera go on a free and may have to pay 20 million to get rid of De Gea)


…John Nicholson wrote “I don’t believe that even the most pro-VAR person is having more fun because of its existence and fun is what football is about, remember?”

And statements like this is why I honestly don’t like John Nicholson as a writer.

Look I am a very Pro-VAR person but for John to assume that nobody in their right minds would say that they are not having fun because of VAR is extremely insulting. It shows a how much up himself that he refuse to believe that people that ENJOYING VAR for VAR itself exist! I know I wanted it for years and I’m loving it like crazy.

Because I am having a lot of fun with VAR, more than I’ve ever had in football because I get the satisfaction of knowing that officials get good mechanism to review decisions. And this is to the point where even if my team is the receiving end of a decision. Better my team lose correctly than benefit from a bad decision where a referee guessed!

Even if I disagree with a decision, I can know that it’s at least seen at at a level a human can comprehend and know that they’re more trained and qualified for interpretingn than I am (as well as 99% of the Internet, where everyone thinks they are a world class trained referee).

And while I heavily disagree with the Anti-VAR crowd, I can at least see where their coming from – and most importantly I know they exist even if we differ greatly on what policies we advocate in the game.

I said it before in an unpublished mail, that football is a marriage of art and science. The art part should be about the actual football being played, while the science is about the rules, regulations, measurements and judgment.

Because if we are going to get rid of the “science” in football, we might as well get rid of regulation goal posts, regulation ball, regulation lines, hell even counting score as that’s mathematics – which John advocates for the disinclusion in football in his article. In other words, what I’m saying is that to say that football should be art means to truly get rid of the regulations in football and make it a subjective art performance.

So to the Anti-VAR crowd, criticize VAR for reasons of slowing speed, can’t celebrate early, etc (all fairly valid reasons) if you want but don’t use the “art not science” argument because we have had plenty of science in football for decades married to the art.
Yaru, Malaysia


…I am in principle a VAR advocate, but I completely agree that the current implementation is not effective and is working to the detriment of the game. It’s inevitable that any new technology will have teething problems while the bugs are ironed out and the users get to grips with it and, as one ‘philosopher’ once said, if we want the rainbow, we have to put up with the rain.

Look at goal line technology: without it, you have goals being given when they’re a foot wide or nowhere near crossing the line, you probably have Liverpool winning the title by virtue of a ‘goal’ that didn’t quite go in. With it, you have the correct decision 100% of the time, instantly, with zero effect on the flow of the game. By John’s own stated principles he must be against this technology regardless (I don’t think I saw any articles from him bemoaning it at the time, but I’m sure the MC can link us to them) – I can only assume he loved the ghost goal-related bickering in 2005 and wants to see more of it. In the same vein I assume he hasn’t got a satnav because getting lost on B-roads and arguing with his partner is part and parcel of the unpredictability of going on holiday.

OK, GLT had no such teething problems and VAR is a huge distance from being as flawless and instantaneous, but it will eventually get there. Whether the benefits are worth the current difficulties is a matter of personal preference (for me it’s nowhere near ready) – but to say that incorrect decisions are intrinsically necessary, that the game would be lost without even the concept of refereeing errors, is pure John Nicholson contrarianism.

I recently read about a study in which a set of ‘undiscovered’ Bach symphonies were performed at a classical music and roundly praised, until it was revealed (to widespread anger) that they’d actually been produced by an algorithm designed to mimic the composer’s work. It was assumed that the shallow, soulless creation of a machine would be easily distinguished from the vibrant human compositions, but in blind tests the audience preferred the algorithmic piece every time. So, John, you may think that the existence of fallible refs is crucial for your enjoyment of the game, but it’s probably just that you resent machines being better at human things than actual humans.
KG LFC (yeah I read the same book as everyone else)


Women’s dark arts
Two mailers wrote in yesterday morning in praise of the Women’s WC. As someone who has also watched a lot of WSL games with my beloved Citeh I’d have to disagree, but only slightly, about the lack of dark arts in the women’s game. It is creeping in. That said, I’d say it’s been more pronounced at this current tournament than in the WSL.

Last night’s game of Argentina v Japan had some good examples. In the first half Banini, the Argentine captain, had a Japanese hand flapped in front of her face and went down clutching same in a way that would’ve had Busquets on his feet and cheering. Similarly, Japanese players were going down in and around the opposition box with less contact needed to send Salah sprawling in the Prem (I know!). In the latter’s case it was almost certainly because they were one of the pre-tournament favourites to reach the finals. Being held to a nil-nil draw by minnows Argentina was most definitely not on the cards and it seems the pressure built on them as the game went on.

Both mailers were right though. It is a great watch as are their assertions that there is a general lack of whingeing, surrounding refs every two bleeding minutes etc, etc. I think I’m right in saying that there were over 6 million viewers for England v Scotland on Sunday. Love to know how that would compare with either of the Nations League finals the same day.

It will be interesting to see, as the women’s game continues to develop professionally, whether the sh*thousery develops as well. I really, really hope not.
Mark (Plus, England beat Scotland. What’s not to like?) MCFC.


Why Liverpool aren’t universally admired
Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this ‘Quite frankly, you’re talking an utter casserole of nonsense, and you come across as an absolute slow dance of a human being.’

Bravo Logan. Oh and I agree with the rest of the reply
Lee (L’Arse)


…Football is often likened to religion, and all anyone with a religion does is tell everyone why their god is great….

Ultimately I guess the best thing to do is sit back and be happy for other people being happy that they’ve found their god, which sounds pretty much where Dave is at.

Even if to you it sounds a lot like Scientology, if it works for them and they’re happily identifying and feeling part of something then isn’t that just lovely! ….rather than as most football fans do, try to tell you why your god is shit and that you’re stupid for following your god.

Mark LFC


…Wow, Dave LFC has been trying waaaaay too hard hasn’t he? Dave, it’s pretty simple mate and yep, you guessed it.. it is indeed the fans. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

While I’m here though i’d may as well provide a few other reasons. Off the top of my head;

1) All your ex pros sat in the stand week after week. It’s annoying. Don’t ask me why, it just is.
2) Suarezgate. Let’s leave it at that.
3) The pure, sickening sense of entitlement. Sadly exacerbated by the fact that you are actually winning things again.
4) Klopp. You probably thinks he’s a lovable, technical wizard. I don’t. He has the media creaming their pants with his bantz but he’s a horrible loser and a massive hypocrite. I do rate him as a manager (clearly he’s doing a great job), I just can’t stand his holier than thou nonsense.

I have no doubt there are reasons why you don’t like my team, Spurs, or any other team for that matter – human nature isn’t it? The difference is, if it were my team that had just won the Champions League I wouldn’t give a flying f*ck whether you like my club or not.
Dave, Berkshire Spur (never a pen, was it?)


Karius carry on
Can we put to bed these weird myths about Karius and last year’s Champions’ League final? There was a mail yesterday attempting to denigrate Liverpool over this and it was commonly thrown about in the aftermath of that final.

Fans of other clubs seem to try to make Liverpool’s players out to be awful people for not immediately running over to him. My immediate reaction to this claim is that it makes no sense; why would they? Your first thought would be your own disappointment, most of the players just sat on the ground on their own as always happens. Plus at that level those mistakes were so utterly pathetic (with the context of not knowing about a potential concussion) it’s only natural some of the players would have been annoyed at him. Try tell me you wouldn’t have been. All those criticising are probably annoyed at the delivery driver for being 2 minutes late with their Chinese. Regardless, there was plenty of photos of players a little while after the final whistle consoling him. Klopp also backed him after the game and was prepared to give him a chance until pre-season showed he is mentally broken.

As for the fans. Of course they were annoyed. It wasn’t his first costly error for the club by any means. He also threw the ball off their striker. Just read that aloud and you realise how stupid it sounds. He then posted some stupid Instagram video of him LA or somewhere about a week after which was ill-timed to say the least.
Now, when the reports of concussion came out most fans I saw were very reasonable and felt he should be excused given he may not have been completely in with it. We then received an onslaught of “BANTER” from rival fans mocking us by saying the concussion was a fabricated excuse etc. So did you want us to support him or not? Can’t win in this generation of social media tribalism and crap “banter” (until you sign Alisson and lift number 6 that is!).

In summary – the players did nothing wrong and aren’t horrible people. Karius, concussion of not, wasn’t good enough. Klopp wanted to give him a chance, the fans were happy enough to, but he just isn’t very good. We brought in Alisson who showed up in a slick suit and now everyone is happy.
Shane (that one has been bugging me for a while) LFC, Ireland


Build around Winks
At the beginning of Gary Neville’s stint in punditry, I was quite surprised at how good he was and straight to the point, rather than the pc brigade at match of the day where it’s the taking part that counts. Move on a few years and I really struggle to agree what he says 90% of the time. His comments about the top six are generally a waste of time due to his Utd bias. There’s an article today from Neville saying England should build their team around Harry Winks? Really? No but really??

Nothing against Harry winks but he shouldn’t even be in the England squad. His physical attributes are pitiful and technical attributes are standard. He’ll link up a couple of useless passes that didn’t effect anything but that’s about it. Is Gary Neville watching the same player I am? I’ve came to the conclusion Gary Neville hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about….. average rb, terrible manager, deteriorating punditry. Perhaps I am wrong but if England are going to build a 4-3-3 ( front 3 are England’s best players) then you need a midfield 3 that can cover ground. Good luck getting tiny Foden and winks to do that job, they’d be overrun with the cart horse Dier between them. Must be the utd in Gary, shoe horn the best players we’ve got into positions that they’ll be found out. You can’t play winks and Foden in the same team. One of them in a three (Foden). I’d like to see Gary Neville and England not care what flavour of the month someone is and pick a team that’s going to get a result. Story of England’s last 20 years. My England team: Heaton, TAA, Gomez, Maguire, Chilwell, Henderson, Foden, Grealish, Sterling, Kane, Sancho.

As you can see Rashford, Lingard, Winks, Dele all not in it but ask yourself this? When did any of the players above have a good game recently ? They’re all Meh! They’re all still living off their first season in the prem before they got figured out. Stop picking people because of their club or status!


Weird England
I know that Planet Football your sister sites ‘USP’ is positivity in football. Which is very refreshing. But I loved that article by Rob Conlon about England being weird.

Pitched at exactly the right level, a bit like the current England side. It’s journalism at its best. It’s a non news piece that encapsulates the current mood of English football and its fans. Proud of our team, but with a sense of realism. From the hangover of the golden generation, to what ever we’re calling that murky in between, to this loveable new era.

I no longer expect or hope, but just watch and enjoy.

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