Flag Waving Trophy will have to do for now. But Newcastle United are coming…

Ian Watson
Man Utd owner Avi Glazer shakes hands with Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan and chats with director Amanda Staveley.

Neutrals in the Mailbox were chuffed to see Man Utd turn over Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final. But the Saudi-funded Toon Army will fight back and triumph.

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com


A club that tried
“We don’t demand a team that wins, we demand a club that tries!”

The words of a banner held aloft inside St James’ Park during another particularly uninspiring home game during the Mike Ashley era.

Over the weekend, a club made a city dream again – a city that was not even permitted to dream for far too long. And while we didn’t get the result we hoped for, any dream will do (admittedly weird to go all Jason Donovan on you there, it’s been a weekend)

Congratulations to Manchester United and their fans. I appreciate there are levels to this game and a six year drought for you probably felt every bit as long as the 54 years it’s been for us. Looking at the respective benches ahead of the game outlined that today was a hell of an uphill task for Newcastle who are Not Ready Yet – and honestly, Almiron’s purple patch at the start of the season has maybe inflated our league position a little bit.

For us, regardless of the result this weekend was a celebration for a set of supporters who have spent 15 years being told they should be happy with their lot. That we should be happy to accept Premier League survival and never ask for more. That our owner was being sensible to actively try to get knocked out of the cup competitions at the earliest opportunity.

It’s difficult to understand how that feels unless you support a club that has lived it (we’re not the only ones either)

So while we may have only taken home the Flag Waving Trophy this time, I hope the scenes inside Wembley got the message across.

Whether or not you like it, we are coming.

Whether or not you agree with it, we are coming.

Whether or not you want us to, Newcastle United are coming.
Greg, Newcastle fan in Leeds (feel free to revisit that last bit when the wheels inevitably fall off)


The sweet taste of Carabao
It could not have gone any better for Ten Hag’s first final as Manchester United manager.

Newcastle did look good in the first half but once Casemiro scored the game completely switched in United’s favour. From then on United were in complete control with Rashford doubling the lead a few minutes later. The game was practically done at halftime as Newcastle were unlikely to score multiple goals to get back into and stop United from going and scoring again. Casemiro was my man of the match as he just is the best defensive midfielder in the world for me and with him, in the midfield, I believe we can beat any team in the world. Varane and Martinez also defended perfectly and are such a difference from where our defence was a season or two ago.

Every player did their job well so there’s not much to complain about. I feel that winning this trophy could be a point where the squad and manager go we can win the Europa and the Fa cup as we have that first trophy under our belts now and can make this season one we can never forget. What I feel is almost forgotten is that this is Ten Hag’s first season and he has already won a trophy and could potentially win two more and get a top 4 finish in the league which after the first two league games I don’t think anyone could have expected this just 6 months later. Even if the season was to end today with just the carabao cup and a top 4 league finish I would be calling this season a massive success but the fact there is potential for more really excites me.
Max of Whitegate


…It was almost a year ago I had written to the mailbox after United’s derby defeat at the Etihad. Had mentioned how it didn’t even hurt when we lost as it was expected.

Move forward a year and how ETH has transformed the team and the club overall. Results and performances on the pitch have directly and rightfully impacted the club’s outlook, player’s confidence and the fan’s perspective.

Yes it is just the Mickey Mouse Cup except when you win it. Jose won it in his first season with us, LVG did one better and won the FA Cup and got sacked the next day. Why expect anything better when this lot win it?? Could this be another false dawn?? Only time will tell. But there is renewed hope and it is purely down to ETH and his methods and Conduct. Even if we had lost the finals yesterday, this team will still get the fan’s backing. While we are still reminiscing from the victory I’m sure ETH will be thinking about the week ahead – planning for the Hammers’ tie and also for the trip to Anfield. It was also beautiful to watch him celebrate with his entire backroom staff.

And a special mention to Varane, who has been immaculate these last few games, all important ones. While all the focus has been on Licha and his height, Maguire and his lack of form, Varane has stepped up and actually been the leader of our defense. He and Casemiro have certainly brought an elite mentality to this team.

Special mentions also to Weghorst’s pressing and his post match celebrations, second half Bissaka and a Sabitzer cameo.

Carabao cup side, on Ziyech’s red card, it seemed the ref was ready to caution him with a yellow after the initial tackle on Richarlison. And the melee happened, red card shown, got downgraded to Yellow after VAR’s intervention. But should it have been 2 yellows for the foul and the shove respectively or does it constitute as only one yellow for the same.

Vasanthan, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Read more: 16 Conclusions on Man Utd winning Carabao Cup: Newcastle, Ten Hag, Casemiro, Karius…


The new Heskey
Wout Weghorst is Emile Heskey to Rashford’s Michael Owen.
Rob, Dorset


An omen
In 1999 Man U also beat Newcastle 2-0 at Wembley, I wonder if it is a sign of things to come…..
Andreas, Brussels


Suck it, Toon
So glad Newcastle lost. I don’t even support United, but the way their fans have lapped up the new ownership this past year has been nauseating. You can’t buy values lads.



…Im all a bit conflicted. I’m one of the biggest ABU’s in my group of mates, having grown up in Birmingham surrounded by kids who loved Manchester United and talked as if they’d been season ticket holders since Busby was in charge. I’ve said for a while that if they went out of business I’d celebrate like hell for a whole week. I absolutely hate them.

And yet.

Right now I can’t help but feel a bit pleased. Not for them, of course. But because they beat Newcastle, a team I also despise. This has nothing to do with their owners. But I remember a team who during the Keegan years was rammed down our throats as ‘everyone’s second favourite team.’ St James’ Park holds memories of stewards throwing away fans out for nothing. And when Sir Bobby (God rest him) was appointed, the chair of one of their supporters clubs was interviewed on BBC Breakfast News and said ‘he’s never had a bigger job than this.’ I know our lot rightly get stick for how we think we’re still relevant, but that comment has stayed with me. Absolutely unbelievable.

I wanted Manchester United to win today. I need a shower.
Aidan, EFC, Clerkenwell


Worth winning again
I see the League Cup is about to become a significant trophy again, if only it meant so much in the four consecutive years when Manchester City won it.

It’ll be just our luck it’ll be a minor thing again when we win it next….

What a shame.

Just trying to help
Levenshulme Blue, Manchester 19


Thankful for Tuchel
Just wondering if Chelsea fans are more grateful for Thomas Tuchel winning the Champions League or his 2022/23 points haul before he was sacked keeping them out of a relegation battle?
Simon, London.


Two years of Chelsea thoughts
Been ages since I wrote here (been busy with life, plus Chelsea have sucked the joy out of writing anything also!). Been wanting to write on many issues over the last two years, so here are some views on various issues, up to date!

1. ESL – A bad idea, and I was wondering if the Roman-era Chelsea and Man City (two teams that least needed ESL) joined ESL. I can understand the rest of the lot, but not Roman-Chelsea and City. But deeper, even in 2023, the issues that led to ESL are still there – the fault lines exist. Clubs like Juve, Barcelona (and even Real, who are well run), have to sort issues inside. Leagues outside England need to take equitable sharing of resources, tackling issues like racism seriously. For all its faults, at least to appease its wider global audience, PL takes issues seriously, to be politically correct. Just look at Vinicius and the abuse he’s getting, and how the league in Spain are reacting.

2. The war, sanctions – I don’t want to comment on the war given my disgust at Western hypocrisy in general (but war is bad, violence of any form is condemnable and I hope there is a swift peaceful resolution in Ukraine), but I was very sad at Roman having to forcefully sell Chelsea. For all his faults, he’s still football’s best owner (or thereabouts, also I don’t want to get in to the debate of source of income – to me ever billionaire has their own dirt, so let’s leave it there). I was very sad to see him sell the institution he built over 19 years, winning it all.

3. New owners – of all the interested parties, I liked Boehly the best, and thankfully Boehly got the club. I like Boehly-Clearlake’s long term vision, and they have understood where Roman messed up – lack of operational efficiency, suboptimal commercial reach etc. The plan to put sporting people all around is a very good idea. Sorting organizational structure is 90% the job!

4. Sacking Tuchel – ridiculous, and bad. Tuchel is a top 3 coach. The man literally beat everyone with sub-par squad. Yes, his talent id is bad, and he prefers to coach. But, having spent 250 m in the summer, especially Aubameyang (like Higuain, I dont like him), sacking TT was bizarre. I think this is the worst call of Todd and co. At least give TT a year to adjust to the new culture, see how it goes. In just 100 days of a season sacking a coach who is top class, and loved by fans?

5. When Roman sacked someone, it was always followed by more success. You like this approach or not, cant deny the success of it. Roman knew when to pull a plug, and who to hire next. I dont hate Potter. In fact was happy that Potter got the job and was willing to back him. That is till I saw the first 5-6 games. To me, Potter is out of his depth – he’s still has a lower mid tale mindset and that is very worrisome. Forget tactics and all for the moment, Potter has made mistake after mistake in squad selction.

6. That brings me to the insane Jan window. I get the reason why the owners did what they did – and maybe they finally began to buy with an idea. But you already have a squad where a lot of players are young, many are Europa level, a few older, and the heterogeneity of quality is wide. You add more players, this is an epic disaster – 30+ players in a squad? To top it, Ziyech doesnt want to be here, yet he starts each game. I would be easy on Potter, if he developed players, played more academy graduates and loses. But starting players who are perennially frustrating, and want to leave – and then losing is very bad management! I mean, Tottenham didnt even want to win and comfortably beat us 2-0.

7. On our football – identity is lost. With Tuchel, the build up was world class. Because of midfield issues, and aforementioned bad squad, TT optimized the players to squeeze and over achieve. Now, without a world class tactician the holes are there to see. Potter cannot pick new players each game, new shape each game and expect it to work. You need a standard way of playing, and then within this framework find ways to beat an opponent (e.g. Tuchel’s CL final plan where he targeted City’s right hand side within our way of playing). Fluidity is fine, but if it doesnt come from the pivot of a structure, its going to be a disaster and that’s what we’re seeing. We have no clear way to build play, easily lose ball up front, and midfield seems over run. The pitch is under used, the attacking patterns dont exist. A few individual brilliances here and there aside, there’s nothing in Potter’s Chelsea. It is very annoying to see comparisons with pep, klopp and even Arteta with their struggles. Pep and Klopp – within 2 games I saw what their teams were. The identity was there, and you knew these managers are class. TT did it in game 1. What is Potter’s style of play? Are the players used in best roles? Are they showing signs of improvement? I dont like the excuses. If a few of them dont have a future, just drop them, and if injuries exist, play some of the kids. What have harvey vale and chalobah done to be out of squad? Vale was exceptional barring one small error at Anfield. I find Potter’s management and football bizarre.

8. That said, I condemn whoever sent Potter abuse and death threats – tribalism in football is so pathetic. I am sorry Graham, critique is ok, but what these morons do are not.

9. Is the season salvageable? I doubt it. 15/16 seems way better than what we’re seeing now. Chelsea finally got the structure and recruitment right – now need to trim squad, and find a coach who will play to maximize squad. Is that Potter? At this juncture, to me it is a no. I always felt Tottenham would take Potter (like they did with Pochettino from Southampton). Is it too late to make up with Tuchel and get him back?
Aravind, Chelsea fan.


Good business
Just a quick one on the signings of Jorginho and Trossard, got to agree with Poundland Piers and say they are certainly looking more like ‘good bit of business’ with every game. Especially when compared to the lightweight Felix and can’t get a game Mudryk

Matt (AFC)


Reds robbed
I can’t wait to hear how all amateur or professional commentators will explain why Gakpo got taken out by the keeper after playing the ball isn’t a penalty in the same universe that Ederson took out Nketia and it became a penalty…
James Outram, Wirral

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita challenges an opponent for the ball

No more Naby
Just so the mailbox is not just ManU fans gloating (congrats btw) can we talk about Naby Keita!

Clearly has ability but it is time for us LFC fans to admit he’s been a huge disappointment (maybe him, the Ox and Melo explain why we haven’t bought any midfielders), has never adapted to the pace of the Premier League and seems genuinely surprised when opponents take the ball off him. So is he the biggest of all time? Other contenders are Morientes and Litmanen, who else or who are your clubs?

Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy and Sean Dundee don’t count!
Howard (nor does Robbie Keane) Jones


Toothless Everton
Well said. The problems have been there for awhile but really come down to three main issues:

1. Not signing a striker in January. DCL has been worse than Darren Anderton when it comes to appearances. This was a clear issue but one that the board chose not to address:

2. The board. Spineless, gutless, and profligate. This has been going on for years and now the chickens have finally come home to roost.

3. Poor recruitment. Someone at Everton actually said “Yes” to the signings of Maupay, McNeil, and a clearly worse than the first go-around Gana. This also isn’t new. Look at the players we’ve helped other clubs with by paying them a pretty penny for: Cleverley, Schneiderlin, Bolasie, Tosun, Niasse, Keane, Mina (good player but like DCL, crocked all the time,) etc…. That’s just off the top of my head. There are many more that have been utter dross for us. We’ve wasted loads on substandard players, many of whom are not Premier League caliber.

At the end of the day, you cannot run a Premier League club like Farhad “I don’t want Everton to turn into a museum” Moshiri and expect to stay in the league. If we go down, and it’s looking like we will, perhaps this will galvanize Moshiri to sell up, the board to leave with their tails tucked between their legs, and allow the fans to enjoy watching their team once again.
TX Bill, EFC

Read more: Sean Dyche loses Goodison aura as toothless Everton slide back into Prem’s bottom three

Moyes in
Mike, KY, In the last two seasons West Ham finished 6th and 7th, and reached the Europa League semi-final. That is the best two season spell in West Ham’s history but you think Moyes has “driven our club into the ground”. Seriously?

Moyes is far from perfect. Your point regarding substitutions is valid, but most of what you say is, frankly, crap.

Soucek is not, and never has been, world class. His passing is terrible and his first touch is poor. If he was 6 ft 2 in rather than 6 ft 4 in he wouldn’t be a Premier League player, and if he was under 6 ft he wouldn’t be a footballer at all.

The young player that went to Leeds is Sonny Perkins, not Ollie Perkins, and Harrison Ashby is a right back with 9 1st team appearances, not a left back with 1 1st team appearance. Ashby has had a fair few injuries that halted his progress and it was a shame to see him go. But who was the last West Ham youngster to have a good career after we released or sold them? The issue as far as I can see it’s a lack of quality players being produced rather than a lack of opportunities. But we have just made it to the FA Youth Cup semi final so perhaps there are a couple of good players coming through.

Things obviously look a lot rosier this morning after a 4-0 win, but I’d really like us to stick with Moyes at least until the end of the season. Leeds and Southampton have shown that sacking the manager is only half the battle. You have to know who is going to replace them. A much better strategy will be to replace Moyes in the summer and get someone who can build on the great work Moyes has done.

The threat of relegation is real, I don’t think anyone is under any illusions in that regard, but the managers you mention will not join us with that risk hanging over our heads. I don’t think we will go down though, Bournemouth & Southampton will be the bottom two, leaving seven teams fighting for the last spot. Everton and Leeds are poor, but I can actually see Forest going down. They’ve had a fantastic run, but have nicked a few games 1-0 that they had no right to win (our game at the City Ground being a case in point), and after seeing them yesterday they are a terrible team.

So let’s get behind the team to make sure we stay up, and let’s see if we can go at least one stage further in Europe this year.
Andy the Hammer


Clear and obvious
Gary Lineker tweeted that he did not believe the Ben White foul on Danny Ward warranted VAR intervention as it was not clear and obvious. Thing is, on replay it’s quite clear and obvious as even pointed out by Wrighty during halftime commentary. As was a stonewall pen that should have been awarded to Saka.

In my opinion, the main problem with VAR is that there is no established way of deciding what exactly is clear and obvious, thus forwarding any disputable call to VAR by which point VAR then looks for any single thing that could have possibly affected the play.

As had been noted in the mailbox before, in the NFL (and now the NBA) a challenge to a call has to be initiated by the aggrieved side. Each team has the same camera angles as the league/refs – therefore can immediately attempt to analyze any questionable call and come to an educated decision. And that serves as a buffer – we are giving too much leeway to VAR to analyze any call without warrant which undermines the concept of only “clear and obvious” infractions being judged. Subjectively speaking, most anything looks clear and obvious in slow motion.

In other words, we should leave the decision to what is “clear and obvious” to the aggrieved side – who are by far the most likely to take the most biased/subjective view of the matter – or the on-field ref. Given that, if they both miss it – not clear and obvious. And we move.

The above might not be the best solution but there absolutely needs to be some process/protocol that establishes what is clear and obvious before it gets to VAR. Right now, the protocol is “whatever the guy who happens to be the VAR guy is thinking”. That is obviously not good enough, as we’ve seen with Lee Mason and others, and I really don’t think it would take that much thought to establish what I’m proposing. Either leave it to the ref if he’s not sure or leave it up to the teams or either/both could challenge something. The ref can decide, “I need another look at that.” or the aggrieved team can decide “We need another look at that.”.

If neither takes up the option it is certainly not VAR’s responsibility to do so.
MAW, LA Gooner


Learn from rugby
Not sure how many people watched the Scotland v France game at the weekend in the Six Nations. There were two big video review moments. First, a Scottish red card. It was a shoulder to the players head. The ref looks at it on the screen and you can hear the conversation with his assistants.”No wrapping of the arm, dangerous contact to the head, red card”. Very clear, no debate, clear reasoning. Little controversy.

The second red card (to France) was even more interesting. Head to head contact from a French player to a Scottish player. Again, you hear the conversation. The ref actually said to his assistant: “Head to head contact, but a low degree of danger, yellow card.” That was clearly nonsense, as it was a direct, deliberate, head on head collision. Maybe he wasn’t seeing it correctly. Maybe he was bottling it in the Stade de France, or because 2 reds in the first 15 minutes is highly unusual. Thankfully, his assistants then talked it through with him and convinced him that it was a high degree of danger. Together, they came to the right decision and it was a red.

Decisions on the big screen, conversations audible, collaborative decision making, very little controversy. Why football is unable to learn from this, I do not know.
Mike, LFC, London


Chemistry corner
In analytical chemistry (that’s an opening that will lose the readership of f365 instantly), we consider 2 types of errors that will make end result differ from the true value: random and systematic. In VAR, these could be translated to inconsistency and bias, respectively. I do not think there is considerable systematic error (bias) in VAR that would influence results (apart from Lee Mason, obviously). However, the random error (inconsistency) is enormous. And this is what infuriates and frustrates most fans, I believe. You could take numerous incidents, but to illustrate my point, here are two decisions: Trossard’s goal in the Arsenal – Leicester game was disallowed, because an Arsenal player (White, I think) was holding hands with the Leicester keeper. I guess the basis of this decision was that by doing so, the Arsenal player hindered the Leicester keeper. Interesting to note that no Leicester player (not even the keeper) protested when the ball went in, which I think tells you that even they did not think the keeper was impeded. But OK, rules are rules, so technically VAR is correct (however frustrating and irritating this can be, much like the micrometre offsides, which are technically correct but basically just an irritation). However, consider then the Arsenal – Aston Villa game, when the Villa player (Kamara, I think) was very definitely impeding the Arsenal keeper, so that he could not reach the ball from a corner. That goal was allowed to stand. Massive inconsistency that makes fans mighty frustrated. VAR was sold as something that will put an end to debatable decisions, since it can review everything, multiple times from multiple angles, ensuring correct decisions. The price to pay is the hold up in the game. Well, the price has been paid (and keep being paid), but VAR never delivered the results. Inconsistency remains, and becomes even more annoying because you have a hold up AND you can review everything multiple times from multiple angles yet still completely different results emerge from the same situation.
In analytical chemistry, once we identified the error, we try to find its source. In case of VAR, this is evident: it’s not the technique itself or the hardware (cameras) that is at fault. It’s the people. The referees.

Now, how to eliminate (or at least reduce) the error? Obviously, get competent VAR referees that can deliver consistent results. Otherwise, VAR will not lower the random error (decrease inconsistency), rather the opposite. Introducing another source of random error will not decrease the total error, as it will NOT cancel out the other random error. Or in footy terms: now both the normal referee and the VAR referee can make inconsistent decisions, and this will not improve consistency, only worsen it.

Proof of the theory: look at VAR in other countries / tournaments. It is the same technique, but run by different (more competent) people.
András (obviously a chemist), Sweden