Van de Beek will allow positional change Man Utd star needs

Matt Stead
chris smalling donny van de beek

Send your thoughts on DVDB, AWB and MUFC to F365 at Donny van de Beek, eh?


Sticking his Van de Beek in

Interesting article on Man United’s midfield conundrum. I agree that Pogba, DVB and Bruno feels quite unbalanced, albeit very exciting. However, it does lend credence to an idea that I think could really suit United – playing three at the back on the reg.

With three centrebacks giving extra protection, Van de Beek’s style of deep-lying midfielder is far more viable, and it also affords the opportunity to try out moving Wan Bissaka to a right sided centreback. I think, given his attacking limitations this could suit him really well.

I’d love to see something like De Gea; AWB, Maguire(!), New Centreback; New right wingback (or Williams/Laird), DVB, Pogba, Shaw; Bruno; Rashford, Martial.

If nothing else, it’s nice to have to think about who might miss out, rather than worrying about who might come in.

George, Salford

PS: Christ in a sidecar, writing that defence down made me realise where we really need to focus investment.


Donny van de Beek looks a bargain at £40m but is the rationale of this purchase a distraction of the failed Sancho pursuit, or does it spell the end of Pogba’s United career? I can’t see those two and Fernandes playing in midfield with no defensive line in front of the back four. It’s potentially back to ‘Arry’s philosophy of outscoring teams which I’m not sure United will be able to do with a) DDG in goals and b) Harry Maguire already playing with the pace of someone in a chain gang..

On to Liverpool now who apparently have to sell in order to buy. We won’t pay £30m for Thiago when we can sign him in five months for nothing so either Bayern will have to compromise or we risk a repeat of the Werner episode. If we could somehow wrap up Thiago along with Sarr (delivered courtesy of sales of Wilson, Grujic and Shaqiri) I strongly believe we’d have an influx of new talent, quality and hunger which should easily see us challenging if not strong favourites to retain our title, assuming no centre-backs get injured of course…

God I hate transfer windows..
Dazza, Dublin, LFC


I, too, wonder why Donny van de Beek would want to move to Manchester United. Why not stay at Ajax to compete in the Eredivisie? Maybe a Spanish side will come calling next year.

Moving to the biggest club in the best league in world football this summer just doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t he have ambition?
James, Washington, D.C.


One size fits Smalling
Kia ora F365,

I can’t be the only one hoping Chris ‘Mike’ Smalling finds a way to escape the long shadow of Ferdinand and Vidic (and Manchester United) by joining A.S Roma this summer? When he initially signed on loan, a Romanista friend messaged me asking about this new English defender. I described him as being a pest for attackers, but lacking the distribution required of so many defenders these days. Oh, and that if you had a choice between Smalling and Phil Jones, Roma have got the good one on loan.

I wasn’t wrong, and even being given Aldair’s #6 jersey didn’t phase him. The Italian papers covering his veganism in detail was particularly amusing, but seeing a defender who has often been unfairly maligned settle into a grand old club like Roma, take the captains armband and chip in with a couple of goals was a football story that warmed the heart.

Then, of course, his loan wasn’t extended by United to cover the resumption of Serie A and the wrangling over transfer fees began, with Ole indicating there was a place for Smalling in the United squad (hopefully as part of that). The player has indicated how gutted he was to leave Rome and Roma before the end of the season, and surely Solskjær knows it’s time for him to move on – at a time when the club should be trying to move him on.

Smalldini found a club that fits him, got back to playing the kind of football that saw him identified as a prospect, and has a good few years left playing at the very top. It would be criminal if they were spent as a bit-part player for United, rather than a mainstay of the Eternal City’s greatest team.

John Palethorpe


16 All or Nothing Conclusions
1) Couldn’t Tom Hardy narrate it in the voice of Bane?  I AM NOT A JOKE. I AM NOT A RIDDLE! I AM BANE! would’ve been a good opener.

2) Poch was sacked after 5 and a half years in November – 1/3 of the season had passed – seems like he’s not getting 1/3 of screen time.

3) Did they just dump the majority of the August-November footage?

4) Amazing how Poch is sacked, Jose is approached and hired all in the space of 24 hours;

5) Who knew a commercial contract to hire Jose shown signed by Levy in the ‘works’ canteen could be drafted, agreed and signed so quickly– shame the same lawyer wasn’t used for the Moutinhio, Dybala and other such missed deadline day deals?

6) Levy proclaims to run businesses and to run a football club is the most difficult – do we ever hear of his love of Tottenham and passion for football since he was a child?

7) Levy is Spock.

8) Levy wants to regenerate the area by ENIC buying up all the property around the stadium?

9) Enough about Levy.

10) Jan Vertonghen seems nice and so does Toby.

11) Tanguy N’Dombele’s contribution to the first 3 episodes reflects his contribution to the whole season.

12) Serge’s Aurier’s discussion of his background seems ever more poignant.

13) Harry Kane wants to be Ronaldo and Messi, not sure Erik Lamela will help him achieve that?

14) Was Lamela ruled out with injury in the first 3 episodes, will feature in episodes 4-5 and be injured for the rest?

15) Where’s Uncle Joe? More importantly, will we get a tour of his personal cruise ship?

16) One can’t help but think Amazon contributed financially to the Jose deal – makes for a much better series than traipsing around after one very p*ssed off Argentinian coach for 9 months.
David Harris, Sydney


Arsenal >>>
Now I’m not saying I’m happy with Arsenal’s inability to challenge consistently for the title these past few (cough) years, a couple of challenges that fell apart before the ides of March do not a happy fanbase make. But Howard Jones‘ assertion that Man U need to spend circa £200 million on Grealish and Sancho to avoid getting “stuck in the Arsenal Groundhog Day of just fighting for 4th and quarter finals every year” is well wide of the mark. You need to learn again son.

I’m not starting a pissing contest, my club is bigger than yours, our manager is more awesomer than yours, but aside from the fact that we literally just won an actual trophy this month (while Man U collected 3 Semi-Final Participant Trophies) we have been regular challengers for trophies and titles for most of my life. Observe:

2020 WON FA Cup
2019 FINAL Europa League
2018 FINAL League Cup; SEMI Europa League
2017 WON FA Cup
2016 2ND in League
2015 WON FA Cup
2014 WON FA Cup
2013 – Hibernating
2012 nada
2011 FINAL League Cup
2010 nada
2009 SEMI Champions League
2008 nada
2007 FINAL League Cup
2006 FINAL Champions League
2005 WON FA Cup
2004 WON League
2003 WON Fa Cup, 2ND League
2002 WON League, WON Fa Cup
2001 2ND League, FINAL FA Cup
2000 2ND League, FINAL UEFA Cup
1999 2ND League, SEMI FA Cup
1998 WON League, WON Fa Cup
1997 nada
1996 nada
1995 FINAL Cup Winners Cup
1994 WON Cup Winners Cup
1993 WON FA Cup, WON League Cup
1992 nada
1991 WON League
1990 nada
1989 WON League
1988 FINAL League Cup
1987 WON League Cup

Throw in legitimate title challenges in 2008 and 2011 and we’ve been doing ok. Note that I only put 2nd and 3rd lace finished there to disprove you Howard, not because I think it’s good enough. I don’t. If we don’t win, I’m sad and annoyed and want to win even more.

That took longer than I anticipated but whatever. Arsenal are perennial winners and contenders, get over it.
Alay, Brighton Gooner


TLDR re Howard Jones..

that’s 8 Fa Cups, 5 League titles, 2 League cups and a Cup Winners Cup in my 34 years supporting Arsenal. Throw in another 7 finals and 5 second place league finishes and I dispute your slander sir.

Arsenal are doing alright. And under Arteta I’m optimistic of fighting for more titles.
Alay, Brighton Gooner


Messi and more
There was a mail a while ago asking if others have “pet hates” in football. I already thought of replying then but some of the recent messy Messi mails have brought the subject up again so here goes:

Messi. Dave tells us that if Messi joins ManC, Sterling’s agent will be demanding pay parity. Really? I like Sterling, but are you really serious? Lot of other nonsense in the same mail, but “being part of the problem” is something that grinds me (probably too much). I don’t know how much you have watched Barcelona play during the last few seasons, but he has been constantly the only part that is actually not the problem. Saving them again and again and not only being the best scorer, but at the same time the best chance creator of all the players in Europe.

Drew tells us that without Messi all the other players in Barca will suddenly become better like Griezmann, De Jong, Coutinho and Fati. What is that based on? I’ll give you that signing Coutinho was a huge mistake by Barca and you really can’t have Messi, Suarez and Coutinho playing at same time against good teams since there is not enough collective defending, but how does not having Messi improve other players exactly? I assume you are Liverpool fan considering you mentioned Liverpool backline so you probably watched the CL games a year ago and saw how 2 Liverpool players hovering around Messi should actually give more room to other attackers and plenty of chances to shine. In fact, like Messi benefiting from having Xavi and Iniesta and Ronaldo having Modric and Kroos, other attackers should score a hatful of goals with more space and chances Messi creates.

One last point about Messi is money. Yes, he has a massive salary but as The vocal minority writes, he probably brings in more than he takes. And who says he has to earn exactly the same as he earned in Barcelona anyway? Maybe he will settle for meager 400k€ / week with some image right thingies and sponsor deals.

Oh, one more thing. Last one I promise… Messi having this massive influence on Barcelona. Like he is the dark puppet master dictating what Barca does and doesn’t do. If reports and his own words are to be believed, he didn’t want Neymar to go, he didn’t think signing Coutinho was a good idea, he didn’t want the manager to be sacked and he has been unhappy with other signings as well. So where is the influence? None of his wishes seem to actually happen. The club has royally f***ed up and made decisions Messi doesn’t agree with. It’s not his place to make those decisions and if he is unhappy how the club is run, he can always leave. Which he now does. So where’s the problem with that?

– As my mail became tedious Messi defence, just a quick mention of other issues that annoy me. Tactical fouls, VAR, net spending and not understanding or cherry picking statistics:

All deliberate fouls are tactical, why those happening closer to midfield are more tactical than other fouls trying to gain unfair advantage baffles me. You dive or grab a shirt, surely that’s a tactical rule bending as well?

VAR – nothing wrong with the system, it’s just the implementation that is horrible.

Net spending – It is all about net spending. If you sell your best player for 100m and get a worse player to replace him with 50m, surely you can’t then say that because you have spent 50m, you should challenge? So big hats off to Liverpool in that sense, even if I am not a fan. Truly astonishing work in the transfer market. Partly because of Barcelona which annoys me a great deal.

Statistics – xG for example is a very useful indicator, but it doesn’t tell which player got the scoring chance. So a statistic can be useful and at the same team it needs some other information in addition to be reliable e.g. what is the average xG of single players. Still, people either dismiss it as irrelevant or rely on it too heavily, not understanding there are other factors explaining how a team with higher xG can lose sometimes and not be just unlucky.

Have a nice week and stay safe!
Matti Katara, Helsinki


Fantastic mail from Sandra Smith on swapping your best player for another club’s best player, the trouble is, who is Chelsea’s best player right now?

No i am not being sarcastic, negative or even a little weird, it is a serious question, now our “Player of the Season” was Mateo Kovacic, however some would argue that our best player would be Ngolo Kante or Christian Pulisic, we could also now include the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner into “Best Player” but they have only played one game of football so to call them our best player might seem a bit silly, though if we signed Lionel Messi would he then be our best player without playing a single minute for us?

Well I just managed to turn a really fun question into a riddle that only The Riddler could present, but for argument sake I am going to pick Ngolo Kante as I am sure many fans would love him in their side right now, who would I swap him with though?

We need a goalkeeper, the best goalkeeper right now who is the best player at his club would be Atletico’s Jan Oblak, well there we go, we came to a simple conclusion in the end, but seriously, who would you consider to be Chelsea’s best player right now?
Mikey, CFC 


Goal to banger ratio
Amid all the transfer news I have been thinking about who has the best goal to spectacular goal ratio. My money would be on either Patrik Berger, Matthew Taylor or Tudgay from my time watching the Premier League.

Come to think of it John Arne Riise would also be in with a shout. Is there any way we can measure this goal to banger ratio?
Sohaib ( havertz) Junaidi