Mikel Arteta isn’t the only one. Every top manager needs a bit of knobbery about them…

Editor F365
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

The Mailbox continues to debate Mikel Arteta’s likability, with Arsenal fans thrilled to be boiling p*ss once more. Also: United’s semi; Chelsea’s cunning plan; and more…

Get your mails in to theeditor@football365.com


Necessary knobbery
Is Arteta a knob? Yes, but no more so than Klopp, Guardiola, Conte et al.

Ten Haag is too new to judge, but it‘s Manchester United so the fact alone probably means he’s a knob.

Potter is vanilla but Todd Boehly is big enough of a knob for both.

Eddie Howe is a nice boy but look who owns that club?

I think to succeed as a football manager you of need to have a streak of knobbery in you.

The most successful managers of the past 25 years, Ferguson, Mourinho, Wenger were all colossal knobheads.
Aidan Boyce (winner of the “how many times can the word “knob” be used in the one email award)


…I kind of don’t care if people hate Mikel Arteta. In fact, it might create the type of siege mentality which I don’t feel Arsenal have ever had within their ranks, which may in turn help them as they chase down the league title.

Jose Mourinho – someone, as an Arsenal fan, you’ll find that I unsurprisingly think is a twunt – was the master of it during his first tenure in charge of Chelsea, and it took them to a level of success they’d not experienced in years. Good managers often do create that feeling around them – was Ferguson ever well-liked? Was/is Klopp, outside of Liverpool?

What I do find strange about this ‘hate’ are two things; firstly, that Arteta has come along and built the youngest team in the league, with young English talent thriving, and he’s that unpopular. And second, that anyone who watched All or Nothing (I’m of course unsure if Will Ford did) that you’d hold that opinion. To me, he seems like a bit of an obsessive who loves the game and whose sole goal at the moment looks to be changing every facet of one of the country’s biggest football clubs. He has a plan, he has ideas, he has a vision. And he’s making a mockery out of the likes of Lampard or Gerrard who I truly believed thought could just turn up and it would come naturally to them because they were world class players.

There is also some irony in Will writing a piece just seven days ago about the likeability of United, when their team contains Bruno Fernandes, Anthony and De Gea – who utterly embarrassed himself Sunday with that weird dive he attempted as time ticked away.

I’d be more inclined to agree on the touchline stuff if Arteta was the only one; I’d argue those who don’t appeal to the fourth official or gesticulate on the touchline are rarer. The “ever so sweet and innocent” Sir Edward Howe got booked on Saturday for the exact same thing!!

Anyway, keep hating, honestly. He’s uniting the fans, the football club and the stadium again and frankly, I hope he stays five years or more and continues to put noses out of joint.

He must be doing something right.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


…Do you remember when Jose Mourinho was described as a breath of fresh air breaking up the duopoly of the Arsenal/United rivalry? or when people didn’t mind City under Pellegrini or even when Fergie was trying to land United’s first title in decades?

The real reason Arteta is starting to get on people’s nerves is the fear that Arsenal may be relevant again.

Did I hate Chelsea pre-Abramovich? Did I balls. Do I still hate Bolton or Stoke years after they habitually kicked our players up and down the touchline? No, not really.

I still don’t think we’re going to actually do it but I can see why some people fear we may actually do it.

But ask yourself this – would you still hate Mikel if he was currently trying to stave off relegation at Everton?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


…I love Will Ford’s article about his hatred for Mikel Arteta. The main reason is that I know the alternative.

The alternative was when my Spurs supporting brother in law said he really liked Arteta, good to see a club sticking by a manager and a manager sticking to his principles who had passion etc..

The thing is, my brother in law said that when we were in 15th. Today he can’t stand Arteta either and said the worst thing about Arsenal winning the league would be knowing it was because of Arteta.
Steve (Gooner – following ZInchenko’s advice of simply enjoying each day) Australia


…So here’s what I really think, in answer to Will Ford’s article and various mailboxers thoughts on the Arsenal:

I f***** love this season. I really don’t care if we win the league (love it if we did, Super Kev Keegan style) and I don’t care if we make top four (again, love it if we did). I just want to finish above Sp*rs.

Oh and I f****** love Super Mik Arteta. The fact that his touchline antics wind up Richard Keys should get him a knighthood but it at least makes this season better. Winding up Richard Keys should be a national pasttime.

That is all
Exiled Gooner (Just wants my St Totts Day back)


…I have to be honest here – I totally get why rival fans do not like Arteta. First, they hate our club so it’s not unlikely that they hate most if not everyone associated with it. But, at least for me, this is possibly grounded in something real.

I still haven’t watched All or Nothing and I still don’t really like watching Mikel Arteta’s pressers because ever since he first became our manager I always hated watching him talk. He has this didactic, professorial way of speaking that when combined with his very easy-on-the-ear Spanish accent exudes charm and wisdom.

Except, at least for the first 20 months, we were sh*t, the football looked like sh*t and the table/our results absolutely told us we were sh*t. I can’t tell you how much the dichotomy between the reality of what I was seeing from my club and the confidence being displayed by the manager annoyed me (this probably peaked with the “stats” press conference)…up until the point we started winning again. It comes across a whole lot different now that we’re wildly exceeding expectations although I still feel a little cringe when I watch him speak – some vestige of a previous Arsenal existence.

Point is I think this is the same for rival fans. Except now that we’re top of the league they really f***ing hate him.
MAW, LA Gooner (Big match tomorrow…)


Get back in your box
The irrational ‘hatred’ (seems too strong but its close) serious annoyance maybe is better for me revolves entirely around the fact he seems to NEVER be INSIDE his technical area

Why that extra 2 or 3 feet should make such a difference (to either me or him) is daft… but there’s a reason there’s an area that the managers are supposed to be in .. just like there’s a reason that the keepers arent allowed to handle the ball outside of their area…

Nearly catching the ball while it was in play against Utd / Eriksen drove me utterly mad.. stand up and shout at the tele mad… And I have no real dog in the fight, Im a Liverpool fan for the record)

The waiving and shouting that everyone does is fine. Go crazy pal.. but I really dont think.. (or maybe the cameras arent so dedicated to showing it, or maybe I havent watched as much of Conte, who gets mentioned everytime this comes up) that ANYONE else spends soooooo much time not in his area as Arteta.

And the fact the ref / 4th official doesnt just demand he stays there / books him every game, is madness to me.

Yes, an occasional foray a few yards out is perfectly fine but its the fact that now it seems like he is doing this on purpose that really ‘grinds my gears..’ / tips me over the edge in to being that old bloke that shouts at the tv and expects something to happen (other than my blood pressure to explode)

Weird and odd and not rational at all but its the purpose he seems to put into making sure hes doing it..

It needs stopping or we may as well scrap the managers area and let them do whatever the hell they want ..
Al – LFC – Nothing to do with me, I don’t know why I care really .. but I do

Read more: Will Ford: I really, really don’t like Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and I don’t really know why

Ford’s focus
I know that it must take a thick skin to be a writer who publishes their work on a public forum in this day and age. I am certain that many of you don’t even bother checking the comments section and you probably smirk and chuckle at some of the brain dead trollery hurled your way by brave pseudonyms, but being only human it would be understandable to have it upset you to an extent.

As an Arsenal fan, I read Will Ford’s piece on Arteta with a grin on my face throughout. It was clearly subtle praise and I found myself enjoying the idea of rival fans being annoyed by our manager, I totally get it. As football fans, we can all relate to that grudging sense of admiration for a person who gets under our skin on some level.

It baffles me that people who seem to think they are intellectually qualified to critique the “level of journalism on this site!” seemingly have absolutely no concept nuance or subtlety. The amount of commentors and mailers who think the Richard Keys overlord thing was not said with tongue firmly in cheek is quite astounding. And as for those longing for the days of yore, I have been reading this site almost daily for over a decade and if anything there used to be more of this sort of thing!

Lighten up everybody! Allow the writers to express themselves with a bit of character and humour. Don’t take everything so literally or seriously, this is meant to be fun!
Lawrence SA


White out?
Very very confused regarding your piece on Arsenal players who need to be replaced and Ben White featuring? I don’t want to sound rude but did the person who wrote it only watch one Arsenal game this season? White has been everything I could’ve wanted and more as a right back.

He’s been superb going forward and is part of the reason why Saka has thrived. I genuinely don’t know how White has the engine to consistently overlap non stop. He overlaps and underlaps at the perfect time and it just shows how intelligent and adaptable he is. His defending is top class. He times it well and is very aggressive with it. His technical ability is obvious too and all of this genuinely makes him the perfect full back. He has it all.

I’d imagine the piece is very much based on recency bias because I think he’s been our best defender this season. There’s no chance he will be replaced. His backup Tomiyasu is solid too but he’s probably worst in every department. I see people on Twitter making this same mistake too just because of the game against United. White made a stupid foul and was rightly booked, but he didn’t play that badly.

White is Arsenals first choice right back and backup for Saliba if necessary. There’s no way I can see him getting dropped, he’s been immense. Maybe he could drop into a bad run of form, but up u til that United game he’s been absolutely faultless. Like, he’s pocketed all the top wingers he’s come up against. Watch back and hopefully you’ll change your mind, because it’s quite weird. We’ve a great right back and a fantastic backup too. I can’t see that back 5 being broken up anytime soon barring injuries.
Dion, Arsenal

Carabao aftertaste
This was a great result away from home for United in the cup

The first half was solid football from United. United looked brilliant in the first 15 minutes and made Forest look like they had not even started. Rashford’s goal was great; he made it look so easy as he took on the Forest defence and slotted it in the near post. Casemiro comes back to the team and you can see the difference in the way we play and move to when we have McTominay playing and it is such a breath of fresh air. Forest did come into the game for a bit after the offside goal and gave us a challenge but never looked like scoring after the offside goal. Weghorst scoring before the half was great to see as it makes the game comfortable going into half-time as well as can take some nerves off of Weghorst as the first goal is always the hardest for a striker and once you get it that’s when the goals start coming.

The second half was United controlling the game and tempo. Forest did not get to do much in the second half as United were in control and went into second gear. United were able to take off Rashford and Eriksen which has not happened much this season which is good so both players can rest and not get overrun. Bruno pretty much confirmed us into the final with the late goal to make it 3-0 away from home. It would take some crazy football for Forest to go through I feel as we are in good form even without some key players playing.

Overall, It was a fantastic result away from home in the semi-final of the Carabao cup. This cup could be the perfect place for Ten Hag to get his first trophy at the club before the end of the season and if we win the cup that can give the players some extra motivation for the second half of the season and can push them to get some Champions League football. Now we got Reading on Saturday where we can rotate the squad and rotate key players for the second game against Forest as well as rest them before we play Palace on the 4th.


Piping up for Pope
You just can’t have Alisson over Pope in a team of the season, sorry. To only concede 11 goals at this point means that if he kept that pace up, he’d have conceded less by the end of the season than Alisson already has to this point. Not that all the goals he’s conceded are his fault of course but you just can’t not pick Pope here. I happened to be at Selhurst on Saturday and for all Newcastle’s dominance, Pope made the save of the game to keep it at 0-0. Brilliant concentration considering he had so little else to do. Ramsdale and Raya would make up my top three over Alisson too.

At right-back, I agree on Trippier, with Walker and Trent not even worth mentioning this season. Unconvinced by Ben White seems to be a regular and frankly hilarious take by many; I think Sunday was his worst game for Arsenal since his infamous first against Brentford. £50m for him has been brilliant business frankly, whether he’s played right-back or centre-back and I would not swap him. Trippier just about edges him though – I was really impressed with him pocketing Martinelli when they came to the Emirates.

The same goes for Botman, who I’d have over Stones in the middle. Saliba started like a train but has been a little rusty since the World Cup, although Sunday he was superb and never gave Weghorst (I know, he was actually playing apparently) a sniff. Thiago Silva also deserves a mention for still being absolutely imperious at 38-years-young and keeping his shit together as all around him have faltered. Incredible player.

Pretty hard to disagree with the rest of Tiger’s team to be fair, with Gabriel, Zinchenko, Saka and Haaland all being the best in their positions. Casemiro has been huge for United (the him vs Rodri vs Partey debate is so pointless – all three are massive for their teams, and I wouldn’t swap TP, but a Utd fan wouldn’t swap Casemiro) and KDB is a Premier League all-timer. Odegaard at AM is right, and Rashford’s recent form means he’s a cert at this stage too.

Honourable mentions to Kane who is still annoyingly goalscorey, Almiron who had the mother of all purple patches, Mitoma who I’m yet to see have a bad game since he properly broke into the Brighton side, Caicedo likewise and Mitrovic, who has proved a lot of doubters wrong with this latest stab at the Premier League. Xhaka, as Tiger also mentioned, is transformed too and so important to this Arsenal side and the success currently being enjoyed.

Will be interesting to revisit in May; there’s a long way to go…
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


Sparky G
Sorry, but has someone just called Mark Goldbridge a “football commentator”?? WTAF?? Football is done if some goon recording himself crying, whinging and moaning while watching Manchester United is someone to look up to in any way, shape or form. I don’t even know the authors point yet, I just saw the first sentence. But I already know it’ll be tripe. You’re better than this F365.
Weldoninhio, BAC


Strike duos
What ever happened to the striking partnership? The Yorke/Cole, the Phillips/Quinn etc. When you think of one you think of the other, like Ying and Yang (who did they play for? – MC). Like breathing in and breathing out. Football has become a canvas for an individual’s paint – can the modern game in its various stylings accommodate two prolific or complimentary players up front. Of course Ronaldo and Benzema did alright to say the least but their brands dictate that their exploits are consumed separately as in a degustation meal. Would love to hear the thoughts of the mailbox on this. Who are the iconic pairings of the modern game?


Chelsea’s loophole
In American sports it is common to back load contracts and even include voidable years to make sure a team stays within the current salary cap. All this does is kick the problem down the road, eventually every dollar paid has to be accounted for. The same is true for Chelsea and the long contracts they have dished out to lower the annual amortisation charge to their accounts – Boehly has simply employed a practice he will be well used to from the US. But there is one key difference between contracts in US sports and football – in the US a player can be cut at any time and depending on the contract, large savings can be made for the team. In many situations, a player is suddenly unemployed and receives no payout.

In football, contracts are fully guaranteed. So Chelsea are on the hook to Mudryk for £97k per week for 8 years. If he turns out to be crap, they will have to take a hit on the transfer fee (the outstanding book value would be offset against any proceeds of sale) plus they will potentially have to pay him off to at least make good any shortfall in wages he gets from his new club.

So I am not convinced these long deals are particularly great for anyone. Chelsea will need to significantly increase revenue in years 6, 7 & 8 of these contracts to comply with FFP. And the players have no bargaining power to get a new contract on better terms or to move elsewhere.

Interesting to see someone try something new, too much of football is done a certain way because that is the way it has always been done. However in this case I think it is probably right for UEFA to step in, 5 years feels about the right balance of power between player and club.
Andy the hammer


…The rule tightening to restrict player contracts to five years does actually seem like good governance rather than the self-interested status quo gravy training protecting that we are used to from, well, every governing body in football. I’m sure Chelsea fans don’t really care as they have made good use of it and they are used to money just sloshing around that club with no care for where it comes from or how its accounted for.

What I think it does demonstrate however is that transfer fees are no longer the right metric for discussing how much a club is spending on players. Firstly, its not how the governing bodies are measuring the clubs as they are using the amortised rate over the contract period (or other technical words if people who know better want to build up from that). This means that either we as fans should use this too or we should stop using transfer fees as anything other than a top trumps stat.

We’d need a snappy hashtag name like fair-play annual amortisation cost or FAAC which will definitely work on TalkSport with no unforeseen consequences.

Here are some examples based on Transfermarkt and the internet:

Casemiro – £60m transfer over 5 years, £20m per annum salary, gives a FAAC of £32m

Haaland – £50m transfer over 5 years, £20m per annum salary, gives FAAC of £30m

Mudryk – £85m transfer over 5 years, £5m per annum salary, gives a FAAC of £15m

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – £35m transfer over 5 years, £5m per annum salary, gives a FAAC of £12m

You’d need to add on bonuses and all the rest to get the real number of course.

I’d also like to see clubs publish the actuals as part of their accounts or some FFP reporting. Its not as though we don’t kinda already know the numbers anyway. I’d also like for all premier league clubs to be limited to the same FAAC. Now that would be financial fair play.

Back to real work now. Please dissect or provide some hilarious FAACing comparisons if you so wish.
Alex, South London


Joshua treat
Ok can we put to bed the argument/excuse that Arsenal were advantaged by the loss of Casermiro.
The only game Arsenal have lost all season was when they were without Partey.
Lokonga was nowhere near up to the void left by one of Arsenal most important players. If I remember correctly Lokonga was part responsible for 2 of ManUtds goals.

This shows we need another defensive midfielder and hopefully this window.

Stand up
Joshua Kimmich !
Sarn Smith


Upgrading Arsenal
Seriously, amidst all the talk of not being able to come up with 5 Arsenal players in need of an upgrade, you came up with 4 and didn’t think to not only just throw Elneny in there to get to 5 but not start off with him? Given that he’s our only relatively like-for-like Partey cover he’s basically much of if not most of the reason people still think Arsenal can’t win the title (other than City being City).
MAW, LA Gooner (Livid Gery Neville wasn’t asked about his “Man U second” prediction live post-match on Sky)


Compacted season?
In Wednesday morning’s Mailbox, Alex, South London claimed that on Boxing Day in the 19/20 season Liverpool were top having played 26 games, whereas Arsenal are currently top nearly a month later having only played 19 games. It’d be nice to have some factchecking done on these kinds of claims, seeing as they form the crux of Alex’s point about this season featuring a fixture pile-up still to come.

On Boxing Day 2019, Liverpool were indeed top, but had played only 18 games. They were 13 points clear, and eventually won the league by 18 points. At the end of the “busy Christmas period”, Liverpool had played 20 games. Arsenal’s lead isn’t as large, but it seems like they have come through that Christmas period (or this season’s equivalent) still top and with a decent lead.

By this stage in January in that 19/20 season everyone had played 24 games, so there is indeed a need to fit in more games between now and the end of the season, but it’s not so dramatic a change as Alex makes out. Also, Arsenal did well to win their Europa League group and avoid the two extra games in the intermediary round in February, which eases the congestion somewhat.

The wheels may still come off, yes, but credit needs to be given for one of the best ever first halves of a PL season, and some factchecking of claims like this wouldn’t go amiss either.
Rob, also South London


A collection of thoughts
Just a few random thoughts for you today, the Lampard & Gerrard Managerial thing, Gary Neville at Valencia had a better win record than Lampard at Everton and Gerrard at Villa, this stat alone should keep both of them away from the Premier League for all time.
Arteta is a bit of a knob there is no glossing over it, Arsenal fans will defend him to the hilt which they should but some defending him (Piers Morgan) called for his sacking only last year.

Rashford and Saka should be playing together for England but I’m not sure Southgate will play them both, he spouts dribble about playing players on form yet still plays Maguire and others before guys who are ripping up the league.

Newcastle are to the Premier League what Atletico are to La Liga, dogged, dirty with a smattering of absolute quality thrown in.

On to my team United, hopefully we can push on and get a trophy and cement top 4 this season, the Glazers finally selling up would be massive and free up Ten Hag to bring his vision to life, with the debt paid United are a self sustaining entity, the money made can be ploughed back into the club rather than the back pockets of the parasitic Glazers.

Lastly Odegaard has been quite magnificent this season and seeing skilful clever footballers not afraid to use their talent is wonderful.
Paul Murphy, Manchester