Man City need a Champions League coach to work alongside Pep Guardiola

Ian Watson
Man City manager Pep Guardiola.

The Mailbox calls for a coaching change at Man City to help Pep Guardiola. Also: Grealish, not De Bruyne, is the problem; and how ’bout those Gers?

Get your views in to


Rangers’ night
Had to mail in. I know most readers don’t give too much attention to Scottish football….you guys at the 365 towers tend not to ( previewed the West Ham tie but no mention of the other Europa league semi!)

I’d like to say Rangers were awesome tonight against a team who had 4 players individually who cost more than our entire team! What an atmosphere at Ibrox unbelievable. 9 years on from when we won the Scottish 3rd division title after we reached rock bottom.

That was for Walter and for Jimmy Bell our kitman who was in the dugout on Sunday and who then traditionally lost his life on Tuesday . Jimmy was dubbed the world’s best kit man and had worked at Ibrox since Souness swept in.

I’m a very happy Ger, we’ve dispatched some top teams and will be underdogs again in Seville in the the final but currently damn proud and fancy our chances.

Respect to the boys

Best wishes
Neil, Glasgow


Magic of the cup?
Ah the magic and romance of the cup. The team that won the Scottish 3rd division in 2014 beat the runners up from the German 3rd division in 2014 to reach a European final.
One finished up in the division because they were caught cheating, the other because they gamed the system.
Don’t dislike either team but still, doesn’t warm the heat.
Mel – Berlin Dublin Athlone Town


Very bad day at the office for West Ham and their fans. Hopefully they can use this pain and disappointment to charge on for the remaining games and qualify for the same competition next season.
James, LFC, Milan

Eintracht Frankfurt end West Ham’s European run on a night of red mist


City need a Champions League coach
A few years I ago I messaged the mailbox stating that Pep needed some pragmatism after his first clusterfuck defeat to Monaco. Roll on 2022 and nothing has changed. Nothing.

As I had a sleepless night, I was thinking of the new England cricket coaching set up with separate coaches for test and one day formats. City should perhaps employ similar; keep Pep for the Premier League (even if we finish second to Liverpool which looks likely now, fair f*cks, they’ve been the best team the last couple of month) and in the Champions League, have a coach that CAN WIN THE THING WITHOUT MESSI! Sod it, dig up the corpses of Brian Clough or Bob Paisley if we have to?

Because something needs to change. The man is cursed.
@rubym83 (yes entitlement and all that, but I’m tired of his Aspergian tinkering…)


…City’s tactics were fine, problem for me was the mental fortitude. Pep looks especially stressed in these big champions league games which must surely be felt by the players and must therefore impact upon them at least subconsciously.
The reaction of pep after Mahrez’s miss at 2 nil at the Etihad was beyond a normal look of disappointment.
Klopp often talks about mentality monsters and I think that starts with him!


What’s the opposite of a mentality monster?
Some thoughts following the CL semis.

I noticed a lot is being said about Liverpool’s playing all the possible games in a season – winning the League Cup and reaching the CL and FA cup finals. Just a reminder that the Liverpool team of 2000/01 also reached the final of all three cup competitions they were in (Europa vs CL) and played 63 games – winning the three cups but coming 3rd in the PL. Plus, in case it’s forgotten, the 1984 team also did a treble winning the European Cup (CL for the youngsters), League and League Cup.

The effort put in by the Liverpool stars is a great advertisement for younger players. While they are stars with unbelievable skills they still put in a shift. Frequently seeing Salah, Mane, Diaz, tracking back and pressing forward. No wonder they blow away other teams with that level of commitment.

Is it some kind of karma for City fans constantly deriding the CL, booing them anthem like that means something (all because UEFA rightly called them out on their financial doping) that prevents them winning the trophy. Like some fantasy world witches curse?

Are City the opposite of mentality monsters? It looked like for 85 minutes they had the game under control, but quickly fell apart after they let in the first goal. Hard to put a finger on it but they did seem all over the place. I guess that’s the difference in losing the plot near the end versus the beginning of a game when you have a chance to get back into it. But City did have extra time to put it away again but never recovered their composure.

After those two semi-finals, are UEFA going to back down on their idea of a single game. While the Super League is a bad idea, UEFA’s constant fiddling is equally as bad. Every year there is also one unfancied team that does well – which buoys the interest of the neutral – and the semis always entertain.

When it’s a clear offside – the player is a foot or more offside – why not call it straight away. We saw many times where the forward goes in on goal and an injury could happen with a clash with the goalkeeper.

Why do City have two players to take a corner? And not intended to be a short corner but standing on the corner flag. Surely there is a risk of being slightly outnumbered should the corner be quickly rebuffed?

Why do assistant refs (linesmen) overdo the checking of the corner kick ball placement when no one will check on the opposite side of the pitch, given they only cover one half and one side of the pitch?

Why do pundits spend so much time doing what-iffery? Post Villarreal pods talked about “what if the first leg was only 1-0, Villarreal could have…”, “what if Villarral hadn’t scored so early giving Liverpool time to recover”, and so on. It’s one thing to ‘what-if’ before the game but after…just seems so pointless.

Meanwhile none of these pundits effectively worked or discussed why Liverpool took control back (until I read the Michael Cox piece.) It seemed to want to simply focus on the fact Diaz came on and changed the game. Even Klopp said that wasn’t the case.

The quality of the refs in these European games has been excellent . While you can’t completely rule out shenanigans and some sh*thousery, in general, they have done a great job in minimizing or punishing it or letting the advantage play out.

Finally, it is both admirable and reprehensible to see the aggrieved look of a player who has been fouled after spending the bulk of the game cynically fouling anything that moves in the opposition.
Paul McDevitt


A lack of grace and Pep
Well, yesterday afternoon’s mailbox was a doozy, wasn’t it? (Sigh). Perhaps F365 missed a trick and should’ve had a dedicated mailbox for gleeful, gloating Liverpool fans. Because then the rest of us could’ve been spared the endless wishful thinking, extreme whataboutery and, frankly, utter b*llocks from the world’s best supporters of the world’s best team (ever!).

Some favourites of mine include Pep’s time is up and City wouldn’t trust him with a £300 million re-build. Guardiola will get the sack, Phil Foden needs to leave, as does KDB and a whole host of senior players WANT to leave this summer. That this defeat means that City will crumble in their last four games in the PL. Indeed, that they will bottle it as they did on Wednesday night. Oh, and a special mensh to ‘David’ who states (of Guardiola):

“He is a creator of sublime football teams but the greatest of a generation?

Not for me.”

David, who the f*ck said he was in the first place?

Seriously? These are the types of Liverpool fans (I don’t know if ‘David’ is one mind) that seem to be genuinely surprised when people state they are ABL. Like everybody else, you are perfectly entitled to your opinions and it’s up to F365 which mails they print, but just try and have some sense of grace and self-awareness ffs. You’ll find there would be far less ‘haters’ if you did.

Anyway, mini-rant over and back to the game and thoughts from a City fan.

Overall, at 89 minutes I was quite happy and was sure it was a done deal. Guardiola didn’t do what he’s previously done in the CL and tinkered. I thought both his team selection and tactics were bang on. Walker was outstanding and completely nullified Vinicius, and Benzema didn’t get a look in. Looking back objectively, I think the game changed when Ancelotti took off Modric and Casemiro because their replacements were, it turned out, inspired substitutions.

At 89 minutes I thought it was all over and went to put the kettle on. As, I would like to remind people, did thousands of Real Madrid supporters who had already filed out of the Bernabeu (but not to put the kettle on!).

We all know what happened in the next two minutes and when the second went in, I just knew. I was gutted but I can’t imagine what a kick in the b*llocks it must have been for the City players. They’d controlled that game almost perfectly up to that point and yes, reacting positively to adversity is what separates Champions from the rest but, Christ on a bike, that must’ve hurt.

We didn’t lose because of Pep p*ssing about with formations and so on. Nor did we lose because the players didn’t put the graft in. They did, and over two legs, we were the better team. We lost to two cracking quick-fire goals from a top-quality side.

As soon as I saw the team sheet in last season’s CL final, I knew Pep had f*cked it and I was p*ssed off for days afterwards because of that. Not this time he didn’t and, 24 hours after the event, whilst still stunned, I’m rather more sanguine about this loss. It hurts, obviously, but it wasn’t for want of effort from either the manager or players. We’ll go again next season. Bet on it.

Oh, and to those Liverpool fans hoping and praying that he will, the only way Guardiola will leave City is when he decides to. The whole club has been deliberately structured by Tixi Begiristain and Ferran Soriano to accommodate him, his systems, and his style of play. Further, and whilst I have no concrete evidence to put before you, my personal view is that he won’t leave until he HAS won the CL with City because, as an ‘elite’ manager, I believe he has a professional point to prove.
Mark (Some Liverpool supporters might want to look up the definition of Karma) MCFC.


Lucky, lucky, lucky
It’s easy to see why people are so eager to pile on Guardiola and City at the moment. City is an evil oil club, Pep can come off as smug bordering on arrogant, and he has built a maddeningly, historically excellent squad. How in the world have they not won the Champions’ League?

We’re excited by this week’s events, but are you all new to cup football? We are aware that anything can happen in a one-off match or two legged tie, yes? The ball is round, the match lasts 90 minutes, everything else is pure theory. Players make mistakes and unpredictable things happen. And thank fuck for that.

Pick a club, any club. Pick a player, pick a manager. Nobody, nobody, can guarantee that they will win the CL in the next ten years, or twenty. That’s why we play the game, and that’s why we watch. Guardiola has built a CL-winning caliber squad, which is frankly the most he can be expected to do. His teams still have to play sport against other very good teams. At the rate we are going, perfectly predictable robot football will be here before we know it, let’s enjoy the chaos in the meantime while we still can.
Paul, Gooner
PS- Liverpool in Istanbul was “human greatness”? Where were they every weekend that season?


In defence of De Bruyne
I write in to defend Kevin, who very much does turn up in the big premier league games, and theres too many to go through frankly where he’s been man of the match against Liverpool, Chelsea, United, Spuds and Arsenal.

Now that City continue to fail in Europe, he’s being targeted this morning (by the Reds of dubious location it seems).

In fact United and Liverpool supporters appear tk be using this game as a desperate ploy to downplay the fact thats he’s the best midfielder in premier league history, lest their sacred cows Gerrard and Scholes be demoted in the arbitrary ‘lists’ they create on twitter.

In Europe Kev has very much shown up, sealing the game against PSG in the semi final in 15/16, leading us to the final last year, bossing the Bernabeau last time we were there and many many more matches.

Faltering in the odd game does not make you overrated it just makes you a football player. Only nostalgia tends to wipe the memories of imperfection.
Stephen, Manchester CTID


…Jamie calls KDB overrated! How do you watch football? Upsidedown? Which top team has KDB not scored against or assisted this season? Liverpool? Atletico? Chelsea? Or Madrid itself? *scoffs* Tell me another player who’s done this. Oh, by your logic, Ronaldo too is overrated, right? Cos this season he’s been good against average teams…..yea, Tottenham too. 😏 And poor against the top ones. KDB had a night off yesterday, and even had me screaming at my screen. It happens to great players. It doesn’t take the shine off them.
PS. City will crash now, won’t they?


Grealish the weak link
Just rewatching the last few minutes of normal time this morning – my goodness Jack Grealish is poor defensively. Watch him fail to track Carvajal before he flashes a pass just out of reach of Asensio’s toe, then fail to close Camavinga down quickly, then fail to get tight to Carvajal. Even after that when Rodrygo gets another shot in the 93rd minute, watch him jogging back from out of shot while Madrid overload City down the right side again.

Calls to mind all of the discussions about him last summer, and Southgate’s reluctance to trust him in tight matches. He is not suitable to play a midfield role with defensive duties in big matches – he might get there like Joe Cole did eventually, but he’s miles off at the moment.

Ancelotti Madrid

European aura
I think Matthew, Belfast’s theory about “European DNA” in certain clubs is both right and wrong.
Right, insofar as the most successful clubs clearly take pride and inspiration from such legacies, and demand their teams and players embrace them and carry them on. Right, in that myths build up around “European nights” and “the magic of the Bernabeu” (or whatever venue) – although the latter didn’t seem to affect FC Sherriff too much just a few months ago. No doubt such things can have marginal (or possibly major) impact on the mood and psychology of opponents.
But wrong because if what he says about early winners is true (and describing Liverpool wins 20+ years into the competition as “in its relative infancy” seems odd) then why are Benfica and Inter not “aura” clubs constantly challenging for European titles? – both were more successful in the early years of the European Cup than Man United. Why did “aura” club Bayern have to wait 25 years for another win after their 70s heyday? Juventus – absent entirely from “the infancy” period – have been in more finals since the mid 80s than any other club bar Bayern, but have lost almost all of them – does that count as “aura”?
What I think is more relevant are the points Matthew makes about leadership (in City’s case, clearly a by-product of Pep’s style and personality) and resources (massive domestic dominance for PSG, City not translating into success on a more challenging stage). Although even with the latter factor we again have an “aura” club in Bayern who have had at best a mixed record in making uninterrupted domestic success equal European dominance. It didn’t look like the complacent Bayern set-up benefitted too much from DNA when Villareal gave them a nasty surprise.
It’s an interesting discussion because it clearly matters but it’s not clear how much it matters. Also, sadly, the chances of many clubs with proud European records over many (now distant) years re-living and building on those legacies seem vanishingly small in the modern game.
Ian, Dublin


Champions League name change
May I suggest to placate people uncomfortable with the fact that non-champions compete in the Champions League that UEFA change the name to Champions and Friends League?



City, United and world class recruitment
Ralf Ragnick was recently quoted as saying Manchester United need to focus on buying players who can become world class. This was taken by some fans as him suggesting that they need better scouts, better ideas, better decisions to find the next generation who will become world class. That this should not be expensive and can be done by being smart. That may be true. But during the same discussion he suggested players like Haaland.

My view is he is talking about clearly fantastic young players who will improve your team technically and mentally. But who have, at that early stage, a world class ceiling. You look to buy Sancho not Sanchez. These players will still cost a fortune, they are not cheap, but they are often worth it.

I remember considering City. They’ve never paid the biggest transfers, but very large sums often. Grealish aside, and that has not worked perfectly, they buy at almost the top level. But not quite.

After last night, I wonder if that’s leaving them just a little short? Could it be that the only world class member of the team is the manager? Think about it – Liverpool spent big on their keeper and central defender. World record signings at the time. They’ve built up others, bought exceptionally well and you could argue, man-to-man, that there are not that many City players you would take over Liverpool ones. They are brilliant for Pep and his carosel tactics, fitting in here there and everywhere.

But does VVD give away that pen last night? The very good but perhaps not absolutely world class Diaz did.

Maybe by submitting entirely to the concept of the manager as the star, they have missed the need to sprinkle a little more magic dust on the pitch.

Whatever it is….they’re both still miles ahead of United. Which is annoying.
Andreas, St Albans