Liverpool are heading the same way as Wenger’s Arsenal…

Date published: Tuesday 6th August 2019 10:00

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A glimpse into Liverpool’s future
Ok, this hasn’t been massively thought through but in the ten minutes I’ve spent thinking about it, there’s some strands of possibility. Liverpool will be the next Arsenal. And I don’t mean The Invicibles, but the Arsenal that appeared in the latter half of Wenger’s reign. Some glorious success and then it all comes crumbling down with no new dynasty or real hold on the game. Let’s look at the (potential/ slightly ropey evidence):

The board are all about the benjamins: yes, they make some big investments but they’re very much looking at their own dividends, too. The biggest excitement I’ve heard about a Liverpool transfer this season is Mignolet leaving, and someone actually paying £6.5m. They’ve just won the champions league. A bigger share of TV rights than City. And no real signings apart from some obscure young midfielders. Straight from the Arsenal playbook.

The manager is getting more from the team than the sum of its parts. Sound familiar? A slightly ropey defence full of players you’re not confident would get into any other team. Solid midfielders that you know do well but you can’t really understand why based on the individuals involved. An amazing front line that is only one injury away from seeing an obscure and much-ridiculed stand-in grab the glory. It all seems peak Arsenal at the Emirates.

A subs bench often filled with players that even regular fans have to google to see who they are? Check.

You also feel there’s no succession plan if Klopp goes and that many players sign for him, not just the club.

It’s half-cocked, but hey you may have a slow letters day. Not like the season is about to begin.
John P, Chester (Also, both managers wear glasses. Case closed. Over to you m’lud)


Pipe down, United
Back when they appointed Solskjaer, I remember looking at the fixture list and thinking that’s interesting, an easy start followed by a tough end of season. Strangely, United did much better than I thought initially but then really tanked worse than I thought they would. Funny how the media blamed it on the contract getting signed but I think it was just a tough run in. Having said that I thought the United fans overreacted in the mailbox at the end of the season panicking and claiming they needed every semi competent and possibly available player in Europe.

A successful preseason, which means nothing, and a couple of ish signings and the United fans appear to be getting ahead of themselves. And some of the comments in the mailbox about more signings is plain fanciful. United are a business with a business plan (yes I know it sounds ludicrous Woodwardwise) and the money is to a degree allotted to the requirements of the business in advance. Wages being the biggest cost of any business. So to say United don’t need to move people on at the hurry up is laughable. Jones, Smalling, Young, Matic and Sanchez will pocket over £10million pounds in wages before the next transfer window. That’s nuts. If your business is paying that then you can’t afford to bring in more players. The Glazers are businessmen and they definitely won’t take a punt or any kind of risk. To sign a player, it’s not a case of sticking your head out of the window and saying you’d look good in a red shirt. It’s driven by the needs of the business and the player, not many fancy Old Trafford with no UCL. It might be a reason for Dybala’s high wage demands, a compensation.

And I’m really not getting why United fans are getting excited about the young, British and hungry policy and then getting excited about octogenarian Mandzukic. Oh, yes, he’ll be a good fit? Where’s the consistency? And as for the idea the kids will be the next class of 92, it’s not going to happen. The age group international squads have been dominated by players from Liverpool, City and Chelsea and there are other young players around the country at other clubs, the United kids just don’t stand out like 92.

The bookies still have United as 6th come the end of the season. Many United fans in the mailbox talk of 4th? It looks pretty unlikely and optimistic. The best chance for United to get into the Champions League next season is the Europa league. To do that you need a squad. For all the United talk of filling positions 1-11 with decent players, the rest don’t look too convincing. To win the Europa league will see United play more than 50 games, a run in the cups could see this reach 60. Does any self respecting United fan really believe they have the squad for this? I reckon Arsenal look a better bet.

Some of the early summer contributors talked of multiple windows to get the sort of squad that can challenge and that made a lot of sense so why has it got so unrealistic lately. United have an 11 that on their day could scare City and Liverpool but over 50 games, the squad is clearly not there. Just enjoy the football. It has taken 30 years for Liverpool to get back to the top and stay there, they’re still waiting for a title. Arsenal were a mid table side before George Graham came along and these days the fans are a bit more realistic. Spurs were a mid table side for years before Poch. Chelsea and City had their ups and downs in the lower divisions before the money arrived and Chelsea have already seen aspirations lower as the financial backing has been reduced. Every dog has his day. But the greatest thing about football is that every dog can have another day especially a club as big as United. It’s just not going to be this season or next.

Football is all about dreaming. Especially in the Theatre of Dreams TM but let’s try and be a bit more realistic and back up comments with some realism.

Having read that all back I realise the key problem with all my statements is the mailbox would be a lot less fun if people weren’t so biased, myopic and nonsensical. Carry on as you were.
Rob (waiting for the ‘But Leicester did it’ responses), Gravesend


Bravo, United
I see some criticism over Manchester United’s transfer business this summer and I am a bit puzzled as to why.

Before I begin, I DO appreciate that Ed Woodward and the structure at Man Utd is far from ideal and their approaches in the past few seasons has been scattergun. I sympathise with United fans who have to see their two closest rivals several levels above than them and far more competent when it comes to both on the pitch and transfer dealings.

However, Man Utd have signed good players with experience of the Premier League to fill two problem areas they have struggled in over the last couple of seasons.

Firstly, Wan Bissaka. This is a superb piece of business. He made his debut in February 2018, won the Player of the Month award for March 2018 and the Player of the Year award for 2018-2019 season. He also won the Young Player of the Year award the season before in 2017. This, added to 42 appearances in the Premier League shows a player of great promise already delivering. Signing him at such a young age gives him time to adapt and grow and make that right back berth his for years to come. Not to mention United needing a good right back for the last 5-6 seasons.

Maguire. Way way way way way way over priced, but three seasons in the Premier League and superb form at the World Cup is enough of a backdrop to convince me that this signing is a good one. The same with the right back position, Man Utd have needed a good centre back for years rather than a stopgap (Rojo, Blind) or the Jones Smalling partnership. Maguire will give that backline strength and composure and alongside an impressive Lindelöf, suddenly it doesn’t look as weak as last season. Both Maguire and Lindelöf have shown in the past leadership skills that have been sorely lacking for United and I am looking forward to see how they get on.

Dan James. A free hit. Minimal outlay. Shows promise. Eager to see how he does.

Finally, I don’t understand why more clubs do not employ this Bayern Munich Style Method. Now there will be a significant mark up on Premier League talent, but signing players with a few years’ experience of the League from ‘smaller’ clubs who will be determined to take the step up ala Maguire and Wan Bissaka could really prove a masterstroke.

A few players that would fit in at any side in the top six in my opinion are Chilwell, Ruben Neves, Doucoure, Ndidi, Richarlison, Zaha & Rice.


Maguire madness?
Got to step in and defend Adeel from the attack by John.

The “Harrods” analogy was a clear one. Adeel just meant that United are shopping for players at the top of the market and it’s unavoidable that they’ll pay a premium. Nothing they can do about it.

Second, I know Liverpool fans think van Dijk is the second coming, and he’s an undeniably great player, but Maguire is a quality player as well. He hasn’t proven that he’s at van Dijk’s level yet but I can see very clearly why United were willing to pay comparable money (plus inflation) to sign him.

You talk as if van Dijk would cost £75m right now having proved himself at Liverpool, but he’ll obviously be worth a hell of a lot more than that next summer when Barcelona or PSG want him. Liverpool paid £75m for him and people at the time said it was ridiculous (they were wrong, obviously) and in hindsight it worked out! Maguire is in a very similar position; a top quality premier league player, who may or may not step up again.

Finally, John calls United fans arrogant and “the most hated club in the land”. Well, you don’t actually speak on behalf of the “land” John – pretty arrogant to suggest you do. United clearly aren’t well liked by non-fans, but if I was to guess, I would say they have a very clear rival in the “most hated” stakes…
Andy (MUFC)


…I actually think £85 million for Maguire is pretty cheap, y’know, per cubic metre of head.
Tom, not bitter, lcfc fan in London


…We finally have a CB who can slot straight into the first team. I know 85m is ridiculous (what is the world coming to? Watch this record get smashed next year) but its nice to sign someone who won’t take time to settle in. The last couple of CB signings we have made have all come from leagues where the level of play is not the same as in the PL. Rojo, Lindelof, Blind all needed time to settle in and adapt their games, Baily is an exception coming from Spain but had barely one season of senior football under his belt and took time to settle in as well. Can’t be easy settling in when the spotlight is on you, and all had moments and periods when they looked like a Man United CB. Lindelof is the only one of the lot that has a long term future at Old Trafford and its good to have a partner for him who can slot straight in. (Still a ridiculous amount of money)
In other thoughts, United definitely are all talk no bite in the transfer market. I feel we have been the constant laughing stock every summer since Fergie left. Agents and teams dropping Uniteds name to drum up more interests in the assets, driving up valuations. Players publicly batting eyelashes at us only to score an improved contract with their own club. Agents of our own squad making comments that would definitely affect the dressing room atmosphere. The whole summer we have been hearing about links, and multiple bids for Bruno only to find out we were never interested. Having all the details of the ill-fated Dybala deal in the media couldn’t have helped either, any next superstar signing knows now that he can use the media to their advantage and up the pressure on Ed & Co.
This needs to be changed. This is no way a club should be run. Be it a big club or a small club much less a club that rates itself as one of the biggest in the world. Just look at the way Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juve, Bayern operate in the transfer window. The fact that we are a huge club and able to afford to give top level pay packages should be an advantage and not something that other clubs/players/agents/third party owners can take advantage of. There’s something to be learned even from the way Man City conduct themselves in the transfer market, you don’t see them being made chumps (anymore). We may have not one as many trophies in the recent past as some these clubs but the aura and stature of playing for a club like United is still as big as any of the other clubs (Well not Man City obviously). Rant over.
Yash, MUFC (5 days to go!)


Eriksen next?
Another window, another deadline and another surprising rumor with regards to a Man United transfer target.

Fergie signed Van Persie to really sharpen what was a sorted front line. To put poison in the sharpened darts. To me, could Erisken be a similar antidote? to United’s midfield?

He would come in with proven Premier League and Champions League prowess and experience. I can imagine him linking McTominay to Pogba and the forward line very well. Pochhetino’s standards for fitness and stamina mean he will slot into Ole’s new regime without any complaints.

Eriksen’s incredible creativity and chance creation mean he could immediately proper us to a title challenge and lay foundations for Rashford to rediscover his prodigal status. A positive first two seasons for Ole could be monumental – because it could really cement a roster of frightening talent into the first XI – Tuanzebe, Greenwood, Chong, Gomes and perhaps newly signed Mejbri.

Additionally, it could steer us clear of the AC Milan-style decline and make our transfer windows a whole lot easier. The ultimate priority in my mind is to bring out that 20-years-of-Ole-at-the-helm that we have all been dreaming about. It all starts with a strong first few years, and Eriksen could help.

Manchester United fans and delusional optimism are a great combination, aren’t they?
Akshat, Man United fan, India


Still need a DoF
Another transfer window is at an end and if there is one conclusion that Manchester United need to take is that they desperately need a Director of Football.

While fans focus mainly on the incomings, it is bizarre how United are unable to offload any players even at discounted prices.
– With the Maguire signing, United currently have seven senior center backs. Surely at least 2 need to go but the club has been unable to find any buyers. The most redundant list would surely be headed by Rojo and Phil Jones. To then hand over a new contract just recently to Phil Jones surely signifies a lack of forward thinking or any planning at all.
– Darmian made just 7 starts for United last season yet remains a permanent fixture at the club.
– Alexis Sanchez made 27 appearances for the club but scored only 2 goals throughout the season which is simply atrocious. A concerted effort should have been made to get him off the books, even if United had to pay part of the wages. However, no move was made to do so over the entire summer.
– Herrera has been a vital player for United for the past few years but United let him slip off on a free transfer without lining up a suitable replacement. Mata on the other hand, a far less vital player, was handed an extension.

When it comes to signing, the record since Ferguson left, has been one of the worst (if not the worst) in the world. Since the summer of 2013, United have spent over 1 billion Euros on 29 players. 3 of these players were signed this summer so only time will tell how they work out. However, of the remaining 26 players, only 8 (Mata, Herrera, Martial, Pogba, Bailly, Ibrahimovic, Matic and Lindelof) can be declared a qualified success and not one of them an unqualified success. Herrera may well be the best player United have signed in the last 6 years left which is enough to tell the story.

This year’s signings look far batter with both Maguire and Bissaka looking like they may actually be upgrades to the current dross. However, the midfield needs serious fixing and United has been unable to do that. They urgently needed replacements for both Herrera and Matic, without which, even a top 6 position is at serious risk.

Just imagine, a club which has spend over 1 million Euros in the last 6 years, is not just out of the Champions League, but also expected to finish 6th in the league table. Surely, heads would roll at such gross mismanagement in any other organization in the world. Woodward has proven without a shadow of doubt that he cannot be trusted with the money. That he still remains in charge of the club is a damning indictment of not just his performance but of the role of Glazers. Surely, those fans demanding Woorward and Glazer out are more than justified in doing so.


A fair crack
Come on, I get that it’s still kind of the closed season and there’s not a lot of actual football to write about, but surely you guys can do a bit better than some of the guff you’ve come out with today!

Man United sign a centre half who Guardiola has admitted he would have liked to have had, but can’t afford and this is ‘mastering the art of looking busy’. Meanwhile, Citeh trading Danilo plus £32m for a player who by your own admission ‘had fallen out of favour in Turin’ is ‘talking the talk and walking the walk’?

You’ve said yourselves that MUFC have been linked with over 100 players this close season, a lot of which are downright nonsensical. I’d say it translates more to you and similar news outlets mastering the art of clickbait!!!
Andy Houghton, MUFC, Manchester


Sir Frank
I just cycled past my hero, as a Chelsea fan, our new manager, the legend that is Frank Lampard.

I raised my arm as i went past and loudly said “Mr Lampard”. Not Super Frank, not Good Luck, not even Super Frank, Super Goals….

His look said it all.

Mr Lampard? FFS.
The M Rod, Chelsea, Obvs

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