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What does a league chasing, established Spurs team winning in Europe have to do with a shell shocked, still straggling but hopefully recovering United getting beat on a different night by a different team?
Maybe Spurs fans should concentrate on actually transforming all this recent promise into some tangible, trophy winning pedigree.
Plato – MUFC (Plenty of pedigree)
So Spurs have one of their best nights in Europe last night and all Spurs fans can think about is Manchester United.
Your team has just played a very good Dortmund side and beat them convincingly and you write in to F365 to use this as a crutch to beat United with, get a grip enjoy your win as we don’t give a flying f*ck what you think of us or Ole for that matter.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Just a quick one regarding the emails from Dave, Somewhere and Paul from the morning’s mailbox.
Seriously lads, how on earth has Spurs’ result and performance led you to contrast it to United?
Look at it rationally. PSG have lost 3 matches all season. One was the first leg in a cup tie which they ultimately won 10-2 on aggregate. Another was 2 weeks ago against Lyon and the third was against a Liverpool team currently holding off the ‘greatest ever PL team’ at the top of the table.
They have a team of top tier players (including one of the best centre back, holding midfielders, wingers and strikers in world football) who can basically chop and change tactics every week in order to see who and what works best without the results suffering as a result. This was evident in the fact that they were missing a couple of massive players and yet, they could call upon reserves who integrated seamlessly into the team.
United, on the other hand, have had 6 weeks to implement a completely new way of playing.
They haven’t had the luxury of mixing it up much recently and have had, basically, the same starting 11 every week.
The downside of that means that, those fringe players coming in, are still not in sync with the new manager’s way of thinking, as is evident with Lukaku and Sanchez. Although it doesn’t help that they’re both mediocre at best. Both need to go IMO.
Spurs, on the other hand, are a team that Poch has been moulding in his own image for the best part of 5 years now. Again, they were missing a couple of key players but the style doesn’t change when he makes changes.
They were up against an absolute who’s who of whos in Dortmund. A Dortmund who had Mario Gotze up top, Axel Witsel as their holding midfielder and were missing Marcos Reus.
‘But they’re leading the Bundesliga!’ I hear you say. Let’s get this right, Bayern are massively underperforming this season. They’ve lost 4 league games already after losing just 8 in the previous 3 seasons combined.
Bayern have just hit some form and I won’t be surprised if they’re leading the way in a month or so.
To say that Spurs winning against that Dortmund team shines any sort of light on United’s defeat is ridiculous.
In fact, maybe United making up 4 points on Spurs since Ole took over, losing a game less in the league and scoring just 2 fewer than Spurs this season is a bit embarrassing for them considering how utterly atrocious United were under Jose and how Spurs are being hailed as genuine title contenders.
Dave (Overly defensive about Ole), Dublin
To The Editor,
While Spurs beating Dortmund is great, are Paul and Dave suggesting that Dortmund are a better side than PSG?
Even missing Neymar and Cavani, PSG had one of the world’s best centre halves in Silva, multiple Champions League winner Dani Alves and a £100m striker running about upfront. If we ignore Draxler, Di Maria, Verrati, who cost close to £200m between them, they still have a World Cup winning goalkeeper and all round legend Gigi Buffon in goal. Hardly a team of part-timers is it?
On the other hand, the only player in that Dortmund side that could claim to achieved anything is Gotze while Marco Reus, arguably their most influential player (according to people who know more about German football than I) wasn’t in the squad due to injury and without whom, Dortmund have struggled every time this season.
I wasn’t embarrassed by United’s performance, although acknowledge we could have done better (looking at you Alexis) while Spurs played well and got what they deserved in the end. You can only beat what is put in front of you and Spurs did that, so fair play to them, but we aren’t talking two comparable sides here.
Conrad Wiacek, MUFC
The ‘why would Pochettino leave’ debate is reignited…
With the possible exception of the double-figure points gifted to Liverpool this season by shocking officiating (that is another debate entirely), as a Spurs fan, there is no one thing more infuriating this season than “Poch to United”.
Whilst I believe United will indeed go in for Poch, I just cannot see why he would want to go there. Whilst United fans and odious MEN reporters may argue that they are the biggest club in the world and routinely make stuff up about Spurs players’ desire to move to Old Trafford, such individuals are forgetting how time works.
There can be no arguing against the fact that United are a more successful, and historically-bigger club than Spurs. That is a given. However, look at the existing set-ups. How many United players get into Spurs XI? Arguably 1…DdG. Some poor souls may argue Pogba but Poch would not entertain someone who only plays well when they are being mollycoddled – and for those who can cut through hype, there is still the outstanding question of whether Pogba’s current good form in an otherwise terrible United career is anything more than a purple patch. Look at that starting XI again, compare it against the other top 4 sides and there is the argument that Mourinho massively over-achieved in finishing 2nd.
Trying to look at things on face value, United are where they are due to the inherent lack of quality in the playing squad. They are a level below Spurs and their recent win at Wembley doesnt change that, 0-1 could and should have been 3/4/5-1 such was Spurs’ dominance and DdG heroics. Poch would obviously be given a huge war-chest at United but the task of getting the personnel up to Spurs’ level is far bigger than how it is generally presented.
Why not stay at a better side, with a better stadium (when it opens) with a fanbase with realistic expectations. I fail to see how a move to United is more appealing than that.
Mbappe to United
Great piece on Mbappe. If Woodward wants to make a ‘statement’ signing then he needs to look no further.
I think we all know Mbappe won’t stay in France forever and there are only a few clubs that can afford him, so maybe this summer is the time for Edward to prove that Manchester Utd really are the biggest club in the world.
Collect all your noodle and tractor money and go and get him. With a signing like that, the rest will follow.
Jimmy (Son for player of the year?) Spain
Spurs aren’t actually all that
I absolutely cannot fault Spurs’ performance last night, over the last few weeks/months and more generally throughout Poch’s reign but one thing is starting bother me.
All this crowing about doing it whilst missing two of their most important players, TWO! At any given point of any season most teams will be missing important players for various reasons. Elite squads which (despite recent transfer inactivity) Spurs definitely have, are made up of between 22-25 players. Their bench last night included the England right back, their second most expensive purchase (Lamela – I think?) and the wonderful Llorente along with other experienced professionals. They were still able to field arguably the most in form EPL player in Son, one of the most coveted creative midfielders in football along with a largely settled defence which includes the goalkeeper and captain of the very recent world cup winners.
Why shouldn’t they be able to win games when missing 8% of their squad? Also, is Alli anywhere near as good as Kane, Son or Eriksen?
As I mentioned, this isn’t to knock Spurs, even if it sounds like I am. Let’s just not pretend they’re doing all this with a makeshift team of 18 year olds from the youth team. I know they’ve given Skipp a few minutes but he’s the only one and looks late 20’s early 30’s anyway.
Tottenham comparisons are childish
As I wrote yesterday – though it didn’t make the cut – Dave from Somewhere’s ludicrous overreaction to United’s performance/defeat shows just how unrealistic most football fans are.
Solskjaer has been in the role 8 weeks. Eight WEEKS! His first objective had to be to stop the rot which had set in over such a long period of time. Well, he did that. And how. Next was to get the team actually playing some decent football and (heaven forfend) maybe settle on a first team. Ok so far so good. Next up – close the gap on the top 4. Box ticked. Yes he had a forgiving fixture list but can we honestly say any other manager would have delivered 10 wins from 11 and while generating a healthy +17 goal difference?
OGS inherited a top 4/5 Premier League first team. Not a top 2 Premier League team and certainly not a top 4 European team. PSG may have been missing two elite players but the rest of their team is pretty damn good and arguably more balanced without the Brazilian bauble. Genuinely expecting this United side – which has bugger all CL knockout experience in recent years – to compete with PSG is fanciful. Comparing a settled Spurs side, with a stronger midfield, and a manager who has been at the club for years this United and a manager in the job two months is just childish.
Solskjaer may have the quality to be United’s saviour. He may not. It remains to be seen. But all we got from the chastening experience on Tuesday was a reminder that this United side simply isn’t at that level.
Stephen (wasting my sweetness on the desert air), Dublin
Tired old trope
Can Dortmund use the classic English excuse of “we lost because our league is so intense” or is that only thrown out when English teams do poorly?? Can that idiotic point be put to bed?
Whether you have a mid Winter break or not you still have to play 38 games.Spanish teams play twice a week from Jan onwards due to the Copa Del Rey-there was a classico last weekend whereas English teams get a rest.
Liverpool will have had 9 days off before the Bayern game & also had 9 days off last month.
Tiredness/intensity was a load of b#####it.
Wasn’t an issue when Liverpool got to the CL last season
Wasn’t an issue when England got to the semis.
Wasn’t an issue when English teams got to 6 finals in a 7 seasons from ’05-11.
Was only an “issue” when English teams lost to better teams.
As to the Qs
I’d like to attempt a few suggestions for the five questions posed of United this summer, if I may.
- This is an interesting one, and it entirely depends on who the next permanent manager is. If it’s Ole then, with Young having just signed another contract extension, I would expect that he’s still going to play reasonably often. In which case, Dalot will probably get the nod in more games than before, but probably still not in the biggest games. Young does add a bit more experience to a relatively youthful starting 11, which is always useful, but he’s playing in a position that relies heavily on pace and athleticism – two things which will inevitably start to wane sooner rather than later. For me, the club would be best served prioritising Dalot until the end of this season, allowing for a few mistakes along the way. As we’ve seen with Rashford, starting games regularly is the best way to speed up development of a player, so at least gather some hard evidence to make this call more informed. It might have been better to let Young’s deal expire and plan on bringing in a new signing, but if a new right-back does come in then Dalot should probably go out on loan.
- This point got my hackles up a bit, because until now I’d been happy with Shaw’s contribution thus far. But then I started wondering whether that was more because he was playing at all, rather than because he was playing well. I don’t feel like he’s had many bad games but maybe I’ve been blinkered. I’ll start watching more closely in the coming weeks. But in any case, we cannot give up on him right now because he’s literally our only specialist left-back. If we bring in some proper competition for him then fine, but we definitely can’t let him leave.
- I’ve been saying this all season but United desperately need competition for Matic. He, Herrera and Pogba had formed a good partnership (until the PSG game) but when we’ve been under the cosh more, I have been looking at our bench for someone we could bring in to shore it up and have been found wanting. Fred clearly isn’t a Matic-type (not that I’m quite sure what he is), and now Fellaini has gone we do look desperately short. I wouldn’t be against bringing in someone like Oriol Romeu (2.7 tackles & 1.6 interceptions per game, vs 1.9 & 1.1 for Matic), but we’re definitely in need of some cover there. Neves would obviously be good too, but I imagine he’d be rather costly at this point. Not sure about either Milinkovic-Savic or Tousart though.
- Right, this one is easy. We have to get rid of at least two, if not three centre-halves (so centre-1.5 in total). Jones, Smalling and Rojo would be my instant, no-doubt-in-my-mind picks. I would rather see us promote Tuanzebe to fourth choice and pay big money to get the great centre-half that we need. Alderweireld would be fine, I suppose, but I don’t know how long you’d get out of him before you have this problem again. I can’t claim to know enough about Skriniar or Koulibaly to say whether they’re “worth” the money because I just don’t watch Italian football. But Harry Maguire is a massive no-no. He had a great summer but he’s not a great defender – he’s like a less comedic Phil Jones – we can and should be doing way, way better than that.
- Another easy one, in my opinion. Rashford has proved that he’s capable of being our number one striker since he replaced Lukaku under Ole. The big problem on Tuesday night was one that we experienced all season under Jose: we didn’t create any chances. It wouldn’t have matter who was in our team that night because we just didn’t get the ball to the striker in the right areas. We could buy Mbappe and we’d still have that problem. Sure, he’d probably score a few individually brilliant goals, but until we address an elephant that has been in the room since bloody Nani left (i.e. buy a right-winger who can assist), then we are going to struggle to mount any serious kind of title charge. I also think that bringing in the right wide player would help us get more out of Lukaku too. He hasn’t been as bad as it’s sometimes portrayed (though he’s definitely had a poor season this time), so it’s worth persevering with the two of them plus Mason Greenwood next season, I’d say.
So, that’s a left-back, centre-half, defensive midfielder, and a right-winger for certain, with a right-back to be decided. Oh, and sell/release Darmian, Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Rojo, Mata, and Sanchez (ha, good luck with that!). Plenty of work to do but work that has to be done.
The letter of the law
Well, we’ve had the VAR in Holland since the start of the season and now in the Champions’ League and it’s just not working. Last night, Ajax scored a goal, everbody celebrates, the crowd goes wild, joy and happiness is felt by many, even Sergio Ramos could not find anything to complain about, Courtois was feeling guilty because it was his mistake that led to the goal and all of a sudden it’s not a goal.
Apparently Tadic was standing in front of the goalkeeper in an offside position. The referee wasn’t bothered, the linesman wasn’t bothered, but technology found a reason to disallow the goal.
Is that what we really wanted the VAR for? To spot things the naked eye couldn’t spot? To give offside decisions the linesman could never see (Mata’s knee being offside springs to mind)?
Last Sunday, Dumfries of PSV slipped in the penalty area and inadvertently brought down an opponent. The referee waved play on, but was asked to look at the incident by the VAR. According to the letter of the law, it was a penalty, but the ref decided he wasn’t going to award one because it was a slip, he didn’t care what the rules say.
I applaud that man, but according to the letter of the law he was wrong. Imagine if everybody lived their lives according to the letter of the law. What a scary place this world would be. The world of the VAR. Be careful what you wish for in England.
Chicken before egg
If Steven Chicken didn’t exclude me by name, and now I’m offended because he thinks I’m a racist football fan, does that make me a snowflake.
Néill, (agree with Errol LFC 100%), Ireland
The class of the class of ’92
Just a quick one on the passing of Eric Harrison the United youth team coach last night, the man who brought us the class of 92 and who turned United’s youth set up around when Sir Alex arrived and tasked him with making stars. RIP Eric and thank you for the memories.
Paul Murphy, Manchester