Jones the best CB at Man Utd? Rashford ‘impersonating’ Martial…

Date published: Tuesday 4th January 2022 10:08 - Editor F365

Man Utd defender Phil Jones blocks a shot from Ruben Neves

Is Phil Jones any worse than Harry Maguire or Raphael Varane? Can Rangnick end the Man Utd misery or is he out of his depth?

Keep your thoughts coming to theeditor@football365.com….

 

Godfather
Ever since Rangnick’s appointment, I have voiced my doubts. I think he talks a good game, but most winning clubs saw through the BS, and said , thanks for participating but we will go with the other guy. Enter on stage left Man U, who among other things, have been accused of not knowing how to build a winning football team. Now I think when Woodward started listening to Rangnick he was so mesmerized, he jumped at the first ask. I’d suggest questioning his resume to start with, but they seem to get easily persuaded to spend where they really shouldn’t.  City seem to have their number, With the Fred deal, Sanchez deal, Ronaldo as well. They pretend to want a deal,only for Woodward to jump and spend massively on players they had no business with.Another problem I saw was, why is the outgoing decision maker, make such a crucial decision just before his exit? Should the decision of next manager not have been left to whomever is taking over that role. It’s akin to a president hiring a new chief justice a month before an election wherr his term ends. Woodward has been a shambles, his decision making football-wise, should be used an example of what not to do. Not to go down quietly, he hires a guy for 6 months plus 2 more years. He wasn’t done screwing them just yet, add 2 more years of influence.

Enter Rangnick, I have watched like 3 or 4 of his games since his appointment. He talks a good game, has been endorsed from earth to heaven, now show us. I’ll be honest, they are shite. I heard about the 4-2-2-2, now I don’t really care what a coach is comfortable playing, but the first time I saw this formation was Villarreal, the yellow submarines. They had Riquelme on the side at the time. All I got from it was, they were hard to beat, but not exciting to watch overall. Which is what this Man U side looks like. All the talk, godfather of German geggenpress, his apprentices are world beaters, Klopp, Tuchel, Nagelsmann bla bla bla. I’m personally beginning to think, they are just countrymen trying to get one of their own a job. For example, where is the pressing, where is game control, they are back playing counter attack and doing it poorly.
Dave(I called fraud, I stand to be corrected), Somewhere

 

Wrecking it Ralph
I was really excited when we appointed Ralph Rangnick. I knew that he will need time to implement his philosophy and system. I knew that our players are not used to the high press and we will get tired, lose points along the way. But at this point after the Wolves game I am really wondering if Ralph even has a clear idea about what he is doing. What is the 4-2-2-2 formation achieving exactly?  We were shambles at the back before he arrived, we still are vulnerable. We have not conceded too many goals but that is down to the quality of opposition. We still are vulnerable on the break. What kind of team with title ambitions ( please read it as top 4 ambitions ) concedes more than 10 shots on their goal in each and every game!!!!!! This was a problem from the ole days and it is still not fixed.

The formation has somehow killed our attack. We should not have a problem scoring goals with the kind of attacking talent at our disposal but we are barely able to test the opposite keeper with shots. All the moves break down due to lack of communication or absence of any concrete plan as to what to do with the ball when we have it.

Also i get that both ronaldo and cavani are our 2 beat finishers but what is the point of playing 2 ageing strikers right from the start. You can not expect them to keep pressing throughout the game. They are going to get tired and become more and more static which really works against the way this formation is supposed to work.

Our possession stats have not really improved.our ball retention is still poor. I get that it can take time for a team to learn to press together as a unit and build attacks thereafter but keeping hold of the ball and releasing it quickly is something these players should be able to do but somehow in this formation the players seem isolated and seem to get trapped with the ball at their feet without a quick option to release which results in losing possession or breaking down of the attacking move.

This formation is making our players worse than what they really are.  Bruno seems lost. Rashford is getting quite good at impersonating Martial’s body language on the pitch. Sancho still can’t dribble past anybody and chooses an easy option or loses the ball.

Ralph may come good ultimately ( I sincerely hope so) but i am sure that it can not be with 4-2-2-2. He needs to find a system that suits the players currently available and not wait for his preferred targets to arrive this month. as i am pretty sure we are not going to sign anyone in January. If we were serious about signing anybody in this window. we have had enough time since ralph’s arrival and with no matches to play due to a covid outbreak to  choose a target make a bid and have that player with us by now. If barcelona with no money and no means to register new players could sign ferran torres we easily could have. So ralph don’t wreck the team with this system
Swapnil,mumbai (man utd ) P.s. if a formation has wan bissaka as the most creative outlet just know that it is fu**ed and bin it Period. 

 

Nowhere near their best?
Throughout that game, after and even on here, we heard the phrase “Man Utd were nowhere near their best”. I think I speak for many when I ask “What on earth are you on about?”

Man Utd have been the best part of awful for the last… Well, almost 8 years!! None of the post Fergie signings have worked, none will be remembered in 5 years let alone 10. Would anyone shed a tear if any of them left?

Maybe that is the Man Utd peak performance with those players.  So far they haven’t shown any different so why are some still saying they were nowhere near their best?  We can go on about tactics as much as we like, but when you can’t play a simple ball then that’s not tactics.

Varane looks no better than Maguire who is basically a Roblox character with a stream lag.  Shaw and AWB, 2 full backs who Utd couldn’t give away to any club hoping to win things.

McTominay who some were saying was amazing against Burnley. That’s how far we’ve fallen.

Matic, a guy who was good, like 6 years ago.

Sancho, correct me if I’m missing something but he has zero dribbling ability.  Yes he can run with the ball but he can’t beat anyone, he doesn’t even look that quick. Ripped up the German league, but this ain’t that.

Rashford, dear me, at least he’s been benched but when he gets on, contributes nothing.

Cavani, being lauded but has done nothing for the last 2 games and not much before that.

Ronaldo, sorry to say but he’s finished. Does nothing, creates nothing.

Then we have Fred, Lingard, Donny, Bailly, Lindelof and then Pogba lurking in the wings. If I’ve forgotten anyone then it’s proving my point, they’re forgettable. They have all had the chance and all failed to live up to the hype.

This is what you get when you employ the wrong managers and in particular the last one for 3 years.  We literally have a squad that has zero personality, no cohesion, no style, flair, character, consistancy, passion.  The standards have bottomed out.  A group of players who have been signed and added nothing to the team. Yet, they’re always called great players and they must do better.  I seriously doubt they can.  They are not even likable.

We have a guy called Phil Jones, who hasn’t had a first team game for 2 years and he performed no worse than our supposed first choice defenders, in some respects he was better than them. How is that possible? You telling me that a fit Phil Jones with Chris Smalling is a worse CB partnership than what we have had to suffer? We have signed almost £200 million worth of Centre backs in the last 4/5 years, that’s embarrassing when none of them are any better than what we had at the time.

I said a few weeks ago that it’s not 1 or 2 players we need, it’s almost an entire new team.  None of them are good enough if we actually want to compete and it’s obvious, so why the hype?

Manchester United might be a huge club, might have an incredible fan base, be a commercial juggernaught, but they are not a good footballing team and haven’t been for a very long time.  We must stop living in the past. Nobody is scared of playing us, it’s no longer a shock when we lose, no longer a shock when we play poorly.  It’s the norm, against Wolves, that was a normal Utd performance.

There isn’t a manager in the world who can come in and sort that lot out.  I cannot remember the last time I was confident on Utd winning a game.  Utd’s forwards will strike fear into every opposition, when? They can’t even create a chance.

They are not as good as they are made out to be and it’s about time people realised that.  They ain’t getting top 4, they’ll struggle with top 6, this could be the worst Utd team I’ve seen since the freakin 80’s.
Mike

 

How…
…bad is Rashford these days? No seriously, is he doing it on purpose.

Next weeks email most likely on Maguire, Shaw, Wan Bissaka, Fred, McTominay, Pogba, Ronaldo, Sancho or Greenwood.

Regards
Alfie Cheesecake.

 

Wolves musings…
– Neves is one of the best midfielders in the country at the moment. He improves everyone bar Chelsea and City. I’d imagine he’ll go for something comfortably north of 50 million this summer. He’s never angled for a move and has always conducted himself impeccably, I’d hope fellow Wolves fans let him go with love

– Mike Dean refereed that game bloody well last night.

– Jimenez is still very out of sorts and a decision will need to be made at the end of 2022 as to whether he’ll ever get back to where he was

– Neto to return hopefully adds the goals we’ve been missing

– Our back three are absolutely dominant at the moment. Against Liverpool, City, Chelsea  and United we conceded a dodgy pen and a freak injury goal with our left back off the pitch.

– I’m confused as to why we’re so under the radar, Lage isn’t “interesting” as Nuno. But I’m baffled as to why Brighton for example seem to get more attention. No complaints though

– Lage is doing a phenomenal job with someone else’s squad. He’s directly improved Kilman, Saiss, Podence, Semedo and Ait-Nouri in the 6 months he’s been here. If backed in the transfer market we could be a force for the next few seasons. A cup run would be nice and maybe another European adventure

– Lastly, nice to hear a manager of a big club admit when the opposition were better than them. No blaming the referee, the wind, the snow or the pitch. Touch of class.

UTW
John, Shropshire

 

Sumptuous seasonal banquet
OK. I am not the only City fan looking forward to a particularly enjoyable post Christmas footballing catch-up with my work colleagues. Many thanks to Wolves for providing an exquisite Cognac to round off a sumptuous seasonal banquet. I further concede that when Guardiola tells everyone he’ll be deeply disappointed if we only draw with Chelsea, he will be lying even more outrageously than normal. Of course a draw would be more than acceptable in the current circumstances.

However, it ain’t over. The situation is very similar to January 2019 after City lost at Newcastle and Liverpool were prematurely declared to be Champions in waiting. It didn’t work out like that and there’s every chance the same thing could happen but this time with the boot on the other foot.

Specifically, City are doing this with 17 senior outfield players. One of those 17 will be 37 before the end of the season. We are in a pandemic. Yes, those 17 are extremely good and they are also not only flexible and versatile but are also coached by a genius at hiding weaknesses.

But all 17 of them are going  to play a lot of games, and Academy players will be needed. Cole Palmer has already stepped up. There will be others, as you can see from the substitutes City are naming.  But if a significant proportion of that 17 are unavailable and the almost 37 year old is having to play every week rather than being rotated in and out to deliver his usual masterclass of tactical fouling, then problems are foreseeable.

Resources are going to need to be marshalled and the Rona could be an opponent that isn’t confused by a strikerless system. That is, I think, why Foden and Grealish were put on the naughty step so publicly. Avoid defeat against Chelsea and we might have too big an advantage for them to recover, but it’s crucially important we don’t give Liverpool a sniff in the way that they left the door marginally ajar when they failed to beat Leicester at home 24 hours after we were beaten at St James Park.
Mark Meadowcroft

 

What happened to Fabinho?
I read a few mail boxers ask why Fabinho was fairly average and why the midfield couldn’t control the game vs Chelsea and it was one of the aspects I found most tactically interesting. I noticed as Liverpool were playing out from the back that Chelsea’s front three pressed high but stayed narrow, limiting easy access to midfield, while at the same time keeping the wingers within sprint distance of Liverpool’s full backs.

In midfield, Mount kept on Fabinho and Liverpool’s other two midfielders where covered by Kovacic and Kante. This meant the defense was forced to mostly play it to the full backs who were forced to go straight to the forwards. Even after a defensive clearance, there was still a man on Fabinho to prevent him recycling possession.

I started to realize that Fabinho may be the essential clog in not just Liverpool’s defense but attack too. It reminded me a few years back of the way to stop peps Barca was to stop the midfield and more specifically, Busquets, getting the ball, thus eliminating their control over the game, and forcing them into a less familiar and less comfortable plan b.
Calvino (Cracking game and goal)

Fabinho shouts instructions

Why the WSL is better than the EPL
I started watching the Women’s Super League seriously when my own beloved Arsenal men’s team were playing shit. And it soon became apparent why the women’s game was better and far more satisfying to watch than the men’s game. Generally speaking, the women play a competitive and skillful game without all the cheating and bullshit that has been ruining the men’s game for years.

In the men’s game it is politely called ‘simulating’ but we all know that is just Sky Sports whitewashing the act of cheating, got to protect the product after all. But take any random five minutes of any EPL game this season and you are likely to see players who sometimes aren’t even touched fall to the ground, grab some random part of their body and scream like their love spuds have been thrust into a very angry wasp’s nest, you may even see a goal keeper grab his leg, stay on the ground, fail to stop a shot, limp around about, then sprint to the ref to complain about the goal, then remember the broken leg they had sustained and start limping again. Or be on the other side where a player stops an opponent by cheating then put on their “what me face”, argue with the ref about their innocence, continue to argue with wild arm gestures, usually with their team mates helping by surrounding the ref and generally throw a tantrum. Some even go on to claim in the post-match interview they had got the ball even when all the replays showed they weren’t even in the same area code as the ball when they clattered  into the opponent (yes I am looking at you Harry ‘repeat offender’ Kane). You may even see a player scuff up a penalty spot (yes idiot, I am looking at you), kick the ball away, feign cramp,  or my favorite piece of cheating when taking in a throw-in after ball went out about 1 meter from their own goal line but somehow the defender is about 2 meters from halfway when they finally throw the ball in. This all became apparent when I was rewatching the Arsenal v Aston Villa WSL game. There was a typical incident in the second half when a Villa player put her arm across the Arsenal player and dragged her off balance. The Arsenal player went down without rolling over, yelling in pain or clutching her head like it was just smashed by a brick, in fact she was half up again before the ref even gave the decision. After the ref gave the decision the Villa player gave one angry wave of her hand but no amateur theatricals, no argument, no bullshit; Christ it is so refreshing to watch footballers actually PLAY football for 90 minutes.

Oh and then there is the ‘dark-arts’, another piece of verbal white-washing of the more accurate term of cheating which could involve possible harm to the opponent. The ‘dark-arts’, like ‘simulation’ are pretty much practiced in any EPL game you wish to choose to watch. In comparison you can watch any continuous 10 hours of the WSL and not see any of this form of cheating that is an accepted and even expected part of the EPL; Sure there are fouls, tough tackles, physical competition and occasional injury but none of the theatrics that accompany these things in the men’s game. To use a piece of sexism from the past (as if):- the men play like a bunch of spoilt girls while the women play the men’s game. If you are sick of the fourth rate Hollywood acting by first rate cheats check out the WSL some time, you may not only find it rewarding but also make you realise just how much bullshit is in the men’s game.
Murray (to mis-quote a Beatle ‘the EPL isn’t even the best football league in England’)

 

Grabbing the ball before a foul is called
I’m getting so sick of players grabbing the ball after a collision, but before a foul is called. Referees seem to then give the foul in favor of the player who handles the ball, even when it looks for all like a 50/50. It’s influencing refs, and slowing the game. The entire concept of football is based around the idea that outfield players not being allowed to use their hands. Let’s start penalizing it in all instances.
Dan, NYC

 

Credit to attackers
The penalty for City seems to have caused quite a stir. It is clearly a penalty, there is contact, there is a shirt tug and there is a dive. Doesn’t matter how many ways you try and spin it, it’s a penalty. There also seems to be a lot of “Xhaka is awful” and “typical Xhaka” comments.

Xhaka clearly has flaws, he is quick to tackle in a way a midfielder can but often finds himself in the box where the clumsy tackles are a “tactical yellow”. That’s a great foul to stop a counter but not a penalty dash…

What we are ignoring here is the brilliance of David Silva. The touch, the change of direction, the speed. It was magnificent attacking football and I suspect many of the best defenders in the league would have given away a penalty. Or given Silva free reign of the box. We can ask the question why Xhaka was left 1v1 vs Silva but I can’t fault Xhaka there. He was simply outplayed by an incredible footballer in a position he isn’t good enough to defend from.

We often forget that when criticising defenders, maybe people haven’t played in defence and don’t realise how hard it is when a tricky technical attackers have you 1-1. Just look at City who went from leaving Saka 1v1 or 2v1 to 4v1 sometimes to make sure the Xhaka scenario didn’t happen.

My only other thought is if this is what Arsenal are like 6 months into “Artetas team”, this is the most excited I’ve been as a fan since Sol Campbell scored in 2006. Let’s hope we can maintain this momentum into next season.
Rob A (Tomiyasu, 16m, signing of the season? AFC

 

In response to Paul, Manchester – it was a foul, yes. I personally don’t have an issue with Silva’s abilities in winning it. Pires was the master at manufacturing a foul, it benefitted us greatly for years. So there you have it, not all Gooners have their “knickers in a twist” about it. I’m also really disappointed in the penalty spot scuffing, and feel we entirely deserved being down to 10 men. Football is won by margins but we don’t need to stoop so low. Just be better at the football bit.

The point I wanted to write in about is; how many times does Xhaka have to be responsible for the team dropping points before he stops playing for us? It’s akin to sabotage at this point. I can forgive clumsy challenges due to being shit, but time again Xhaka makes poor decisions going into challenges. Why grab Silva’s shirt? The way he turns his back and stamps in challenges… He comes across as a petulant hot-head who has a temper overruling his reason. His temperament on the pitch is tangible, his implosions are entirely predictable. Perhaps opposition players are conscious of this too? Or is he really just that shit at football?

Either way, if he’s lining up next season I’ll be astonished.
Mark (Arsenal fan, not a “Gooner”) Sydney

 

Victoria Concordia Crescit
A number of clubs had a Latin motto when they were founded.

Some retain their motto on their badge but some have discarded it upon a redesign.

Arsenal’s motto hasn’t graced its badge in 20 years and over those 20 years the club has recorded just one league title and its fans have entered into a civil war over the then manager.

But something special has been happening within the stadium this season which was epitomised by the fans applauding the team off at the weekend after a narrow defeat.

It is the sort of togetherness that existed between the club’s coaching staff, players and fans that existed during the 1990/91 and the 2003/4 seasons when we were docked points.

Victoria Concordia Crescit actually means something again and I’m starting to get excited.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

 

When banter really leans into the sh*t
Good article about “banter” from John Nic, I agree with all of it.  I remember when I was younger hearing something about Darren Anderton taking a shit in somebodys socks or something, I googled but couldn’t find it so the socks part may be wrong but he definitely took a dump, thing is when football does it’s thing we really don’t think of these performers as anything but athletes that contribute much or little at particular times, the best thing I ever saw Anderton do was score the thunderbastard to end all thunderbastards against Sweden for England, back then I never thought he was shitting in bins (or socks) or whatever.  You’ll remember more Robbie Savage taking a dump in the referees jacks than Anderton doing whatever shit related thing because on the pitch he would have a super memorable moment whereas Savage isn’t renowned for having those unless it’s off the ball “shithousery” stuff.  Anderton shitting somewhere he shouldn’t shit sticks out more than it would because his obvious talent wasn’t as famed as his famous injury record.

There’s space to fill on the Darren Anderton blog, so him taking an unusual shit is padding out the rest of the biography, like toilet paper.  I’m sure Alan Shearer took a dump in Faustino Asprilla’s boots once leading to that being the primary reason the latter REALLY left, but Wor Al’s injury record though bad was irregular, a big injury every 5 years, and those 5 years were filled with goals galore.  If somebody is trying to write a glowing tribute of his career, they wouldn’t be finding themselves at a brick wall where they need something else to write about where they potentially go down the rabbit hole to discover this stuff, if Shearer did something like that no one would ever be compelled to potentially discover it because goal after goal is enough to sway the attention.  If it’s mentioned tomorrow it will be forgotten because of his on pitch reputation.  Now, if Nigel Quashie was reported to have taken a dump on Harry Redknapp’s car, that would get the desired attention, because he doesn’t have much of a career tribute except as a relegation specialist.  But we all know if that were to happen he would just be a fall guy and this stuff wouldn’t be curbed out but used as a faux idea of “change” in locker room culture.

As soon as somebody wins a football match, we instantly “don’t give a shit” about what they might possibly be doing in their casual time.
Dave (Shearer was just an example, he doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would take a shit in an airplane cockpit having banter with the pilots, but how do you tell, and would you be arsed to even give a shit about whether people take dumps or not in weird circumstances?), Dublin

 

Winners and losers…
So TT is top of the winners and losers column today, after drawing at home to one of their man rivals. Yes they were 2 down & they got back into it through 2 fantastic goals, not defensive errors, not managerial master strokes, not anything other than pieces of individual brilliance. From there they should be going on to win & get the 3 points both sides desperately needed. Liverpool, in the losers section. The same Liverpool that go 2 points above chelsea if they win their game in hand, the same Liverpool that picked a point up away to one of their closest rivals & the same Liverpool that will either have the chance to go 5 points clear of Chelsea or gain points on city when they play each other in a couple of weeks. Stick your winners and losers award… I know which manager will be happier (or rather slightly less disappointed with not winning) out of the 2! Great game at the bridge yesterday, not sure why there needed to be a winner or a loser… it makes a change for a big game to live up to expectations, even as a Liverpool fan I’ve not enjoyed a game as much as that one in a while… football was the winner here.
Marcel G, LFC.

 

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