The Mailbox is mostly #Olein after Man Utd’s Europa flop

Ian Watson

Keep your mails coming in to…


Before we get to the Europa final
I’ve read f365 since the days of the two Dannys but have never felt compelled to write in until today (I am too lazy).

In 1989 my two brothers, then 17 and 13, and their two mates were lucky enough to get hold of FA Cup semi final tickets to the Central paddock at the Leppings Lane end of Hillsborough. I was gutted at not being able to go and had to be content with following the match with Peter Jones and Alan Green on radio two.

It was nearly 9pm before we knew what had happened to them and they were safe, after a kind Sheffield resident had told them to come in and use her phone. There had not been a riot. There had not been any trouble. Two teenagers had spotted immediately that too many people were being herded into the Central paddock. To protect the two younger boys, they potentially saved their own and their brothers’ lives by ducking out of the Central crush and moving to the pen to the right, which was much clearer. If the two younger boys had not been there, I know I could be writing this from a very different perspective – I realise how lucky we are and have been constantly reminded of this for 32 years. That four teenage boys were able to assess the situation and take the right action says a lot about those in charge on the day.

The families have been through 32 years of fighting a system that appears against them every step of the way. For every hard earned victory there has been another kick in the teeth. Today, another one from a system seemingly set to stop any chance of justice.

What has compelled to write in is not that three more people in a long list of those involved are walking away without any recriminations. I have long ago accepted that no one will be held accountable for what went wrong that day. What has angered me, and I think what should worry us all, is that it now appears acceptable for evidence to be withheld or tampered with in a public enquiry and there is no come back at all as it is not a court of law. What is the point? How can this be acceptable? This is now not even about justice for the 96. This could happen to any of us in any situation. It just stinks.

What made me really really angry is then hearing that tosspot QC on five live accusing the Liverpool fans and blaming them all over again. I really cannot believe a supposedly educated man would twist the knife in the backs of those families after everything they have been through. I am absolutely shaking with anger.

Sorry for such a negative email on the eve of three English European finalists and the euros. We should be looking forward to all of this but I just can’t tonight. Good luck to them all – even you lot down the road tonight.

F365 Says: If Manchester United are serious then Solskjaer must go


Ole in
The criticism that Ole Solskjaer gets is honestly ridiculous. Since he came in, inheriting a disunited squad in disarray he has:

Taken the side to two consecutive top four finishes in his two full seasons in charge (for the first time since Ferguson’s reign), and absolutely coasting to second this year (again nobody else could manage doing it twice in a row).
Taken the side to a major European final, as well as a one legged semi-final. Only lost the final because a goalkeeper missed a penalty, against a manager in his fifth final in the competition (four wins).
Knocked out PSG in the Champions League. Beat PSG (last season’s finalists) away from home and spanked Liepzig (last season’s semi-finalists) 5-0 this season.
Favoured evolution over revolution, and has improved every season. 6th in 2018-19; 3rd and Europa League semi-final 2019-20; 2nd and Europa League final 2020-21.
Hasn’t publicly fought with his owners or board over transfers, and successfully integrated every key big name signing he did make – Maguire is captain and lynchpin, Fernandes vice-captain and inspiration, AWB a key absolutely safe right back.
Reintegrated expensive players on the fringes of the squad alienated by the previous regime (most notably Pogba and Shaw, also the previously much maligned Fred).
Successfully integrated academy products slowly but without exposing them to excess pressure either – Greenwood and Henderson are key members of the side.
Signed and developed into squad players young players for the future (James and Diallo).
Has brought harmony and unity to the squad. United has more of an identity and style of play than under any previous manager going back to Ferguson, while there isn’t constant infighting of players. He simply gets on with the job, uses the players he has and uses them well.
I’m sure he doesn’t read nonsense criticism of him from outsiders and internet blogs but if he did, one would permit him mild annoyance at the hand-wringing and short-termism of any criticism of his tenure. He has literally improved them, got on with the job and is slowly piecing together a good side using the transfer market, academy products and the squad he was given, while uniting the side. It’s all very reminiscent of full seasons 1 and 2 of one Jurgen Norbert Klopp, but because he’s played for the club before, he, like Zidane and Lampard, is held to a far far higher level of expectation than the various globetrotting supermanagers.

…Villarreal – Champions of The Europa League eh, for man utd fans, it is cruel, I can see that, some media sites will try to tell you that Emery won the tactical battle but that is not true; he should have made subs right? Who was on the bench then, a half fit Fred? The often ineffective Van de Beek? The ageing Mata? The broken Maguire? The over-reliant on pace James? The inexperienced kids?

Ole gave this a lot of thought and gave his players a lot of rest, choosing not to play any of the starters against Wolves, a wise decision. And yet still, you got the feeling with Marcus Rashford that he was going to cost them, the chances missed, the balls lost, etc, should he have kept Rashford on? I would have done so and every other manager will have done the same as well, if you don’t have a fully bloomed Foden, you have gotta stick with the inconsistent Sterling, though, Rashford’s inconsistent performances are due to his constant ankle issues and other injuries, I wish he comes back to his best next season.

For man utd, I wanted them to win partly because if City end up winning the CL, at least they would provide some form of competition for the super cup, Villareal can’t do that and we all know it, Ole probably thought his side had enough to win in the second half, in fact, he probably banked all of his players energy on the second half like he has done in so many games this season, I was impressed with their performance then, the energy when pressing and counter pressing, the unrelenting attacks, credit to Villareal for staying solid and to Unai Emery, he is better than Arsenal thought he was that is for sure.

But what Ole did get wrong and all United fans and probably he knew at the time but gambled was the goalkeeping choice for the penalties, De gea is not good at that and he knows it, so he made sure that he had his best five penalty takers take the first five, no team in the world has better penalty takers than united, with Mata – dead ball specialist, Telles – dead ball specialist and designated taker while at Porto, Fernandez – designated taker at man utd, Rashford – designated taker at man utd before the arrival of Bruno, and Cavani – designated taker while at psg, no team could have gone into a shoot-out stronger than that! So the goal keeper, I felt Henderson was the better option but we all knew he wasn’t going to take off De gea, its probably his last match, he may not want to give him the impression that he doesn’t believe in him. He probably thought, even if De gea can’t save one, his presence should make them miss one, thereby, underestimating Villareal’s ability to drag it out (surely no one saw 21 kicks coming) and overestimating De gea, unlike most people, I don’t blame him for not taking of De gea, I may think he is not good at it but may be he is and it is just the pressure, he knows more than me, I don’t blame him for not making subs, again, it is easy to understand why, they are managers who will make subs for the sake of it, Ole is not that manager.

So.. for Ole, I have said it before, I like him, they did well and on another day would have won, but if I hadn’t witnessed the nonsense of Arsenal on full display, I would have told you with an unbelievable amount of certainty that Arteta will beat that team, and it is with the same amount of certainty that I tell you, Lampard will beat that team, black and blue, not to talk of Guardiola or Tuchel, but he is still a good coach, but he remains the only coach that majority of all fans still want in charge whether for or against United, a party thinking he is good enough and will prove others wrong and the other party thinking he is a joke and anyone thinking otherwise is living a dream; that is not the natural order, something has to give and for Ole’s sake, I hope it is in his favor.

…Well, the Europa League is finally over — well done Villarreal.
A number of articles on moving on from Ole. The question is why? The football has definitely gotten better and Utd have progressed since he first arrived. In the 3 seasons,
18-19: PL: 6th, CL QF
19-20: PL 3rd, SF -FA Cup, league Cup, Europa League
20-21: PL 2nd, QF- FA cup, SF- league Cup, Runner up- Europa League

In comparison to Klopp first 3 seasons:
15-16: PL: 8th, Runner up-europa league, league cup
16-17: PL: 4th, SF- league cup
17-18: PL: 4th, Runner up- CL

What happened next – Champions League winner, and Premier League winner in the next 2 seasons.
Would Ole achieve that? We would never find out if he is sacked now.
He deserves the chance to have a go at the title!

Ranking all 24 Premier League managers during 2020/21

Final fallout
1) Let us start right at the top. That should be the end of Ole Gunner Solskjaer’s reign at United. Mourinho’s style of play was atrocious and he caused more upset than a dodgy curry but atleast in two and a half years he brought in two trophies. A 2nd place in the worst Premier league of all time, a handful of lost semi’s and a lost final is absolutely not progress.

2) Now back to the start, the line up at the beginning was probably the only thing Ole got right. Fred has been in awful form (Pogba not much better, but he does have more talent), and shunting Rashford to the right is pointless – more on him later. Greenwood had to start, but THAT bench highlighted how woefully poor this United squad actually is.

3) Victor Lindelof. How he’s made it as an elite centre back is beyond me. He couldn’t mark a small country.

4) Eric Bailly. How he’s made it as an elite centre back is beyond me. He seems utterly disconnected from reality.

5) Paul Pogba was terrible, anonymous, everything everyone has come to hate about him. I sincerely look forward to him being the best player at the Euro’s and earning an expensive transfer to whoever will pay some money for him. Half of this won’t happen though, he’ll sign a new contract for silly money a week and we’ll be stuck with him being brilliant once every 3 months and dire in all other games until the end of time.

6) Scott McTominay however was brilliant, quite possibly the only United player that showed up.

7) That last point was harsh on Cavani, but he really had nothing to feed off of.

8) Which brings me nicely to the fact that Rashford and Fernandes looked utterly shagged and both have done for about 8 weeks. Remember when I said Ole should now go in point 1? This is another reason. He’s run them both into the ground by playing them in games they weren’t needed. 4-0 up from the 1st leg against Sociedad? Tell you what let’s start Bruno in the 2nd. 6-2 up after the 1st leg against Roma? Yeah definitely needed again! For a manager who claims to have faith in youth, Ole’s awfully frightened of actually giving them a shot.

9) Want another reason Ole should go? Subs. I realise in point 2 I mentioned how shite the bench was tonight, and it truely was, I almost pined for Martial. But, given the choice of bringing off someone who had scored 8 goals in 13 games or someone with a record of 2 goals in 15 (and who had already missed an admittedly irrelevant sitter) I know who I’d be picking. Shame the bloke at the wheel saw it the other way round. Mind you I can’t blame him for turning round looking at Daniel James, and dying a little inside.

10) Is Mick Phelan still on the payroll?

11) After the 3rd goal conceded against Liverpool, I never expected to see United try one of these silly pass it out from the back goal kicks ever again. Imagine my anger when for what seemed like a period of 10mins they actively seemed to be trying out new ways to give away goals in this manner. Just boot it up the pitch for christ sake.

12) I bitterly disappointed we were all denied the spectacle of watching Wan-Bissaka slide tackle in a penalty. Gutted.

13) Want another sub that should have happened? I was screaming for this by the way….De Gea has literally never saved a penalty in his life, Henderson 6. Kind of obvious what should’ve happened there.

14) There were some very good penalties, especially some of the latter Villareal ones, and Fred’s (who knew). But for the first 2 or 3 De Gea actually dived before they’d even placed the ball on the spot.

15) Of course Ole will remain, and United will throw money at all the wrong players, and get none of them this summer (rinse and repeat ad finitum), so see you all back here in 12 months time for another ranty, sarcastic and slightly exaggerated set of conclusions. You know they’re all roughly correct though right?

16) Final thought must be spared for Donny. Poor Donny.

Mark Danger Endicott, MUFC

I’m not a United/Liverpool/City fan. Just an outsider that follows the Premier League very closely.

United results have been in spite of OGS rather than because of him. Games were won on individual moments or brilliance (with a whole lot of penalties thrown in). The alternative would be to say OGS tactic was to play like shit and go behind before miraculously making a comeback.

Long my he continue.
Tim H, IoM


…Just one simple question after last night’s debacle: If you are going to bring on your strongest penalty takers, shouldn’t you also bring on your strongest penalty stopper?


…Well, that was painful to watch. You can have sympathy for OGS, we all know he was promoted to that job without any real credentials. And when you look at the bench, other than a stressed out Michael Carrick, there isn’t much fun on offer.
But Fred on at 100 minutes for Greenwood? Yeah, that’s the kickstart needed! Plainly obvious he only has 11 players and the problem is a double whammy. Not only do the starting players know they won’t get hooked, the players on the bench know they’ll only be called upon in absolute drastic scenarios. Surely this was much more drastic than OHS seemed to realise though?! Rashford was having a nightmare, get him off. Put James on at 60 minutes. Not because James is a world beater but show some leadership. Don’t just pander to underperforming starters. Show the team that you aren’t happy. Being all nice and cuddly is a lovely attribute in life, but it’s really ineffective in football management.
Joey (Man Utd fan in 1999)


…Well done Villareal. Well deserved.

2 mistakes Ole, utd ran out of steam in extra time. Maybe starting to freshen up the team after 70-75 mins could have made the difference.

And secondly, no blame for De Gea for missing a penalty but he should have been subbed before penalties as I dont think he’s ever saved one.

Time to start supporting England for the Euros and try to ignore transfer clickbait.
Jon, Cape Town

…Well that was disappointing. Whilst Villarreal did a classic bit of bus parking, with the forward line Man United had, I was expecting them to be able to break down the defence. Ten out of ten for only having McT in a defensive midfield position, and I thought he was man of the match.

With a minute or two left, I did wonder who was the better penalty GK at training every day. If it is Henderson (or Grant) then he should have been brought on, (but I do not know who is).

When the medals were given out, most of the United players took theirs off straight away, and whilst I might be reading too much into it, the psychological message Solskjaer gave by leaving his on was not good.

Summary of the season overall could read like one of my old school reports, “Lacks concentration at times, and could do better”.

Personally 3am kick offs are not ideal. Could have been better scheduled for me and the other 700m China based United fans.

Maybe you can run an article on best to worst performances in a European final, and to appease other recent mailbox contributors make sure United are last will you.

Cheers and now bring on the Euros
Ged Biglin


…The lack of subs from Solskjaer was absolute Mourinho levels of trolling.
Shane Tallon, MUFC, Dublin

…It’s just gone to extra time and Emery has made five substitutions. Ole hasn’t made any, and frankly I’m not surprised. As he looks at his bench he must be thinking ‘who is going to be able to change something and create something?’ Other than Mata, there’s nothing.


…Maybe you could publish two mailboxes; one for Man Utd fans to lament the tactics and subs and another for everyone else to laugh their balls off?
Minty, LFC


…10 objective and fair conclusions from a Liverpool fan:

1) One can expect the 2 following #’s to trend on Twitter over the next 24 hours – #olesatthewheel #giveittogiggseh

2) Apparently that was Villarreal’s first ever trophy and well deserved at that. Given the resources available to them versus what their opponent spends, it is a great achievement

3) Man U fans should not be too disappointed as I fancy them giving the Europa another good go when they inevitably drop out of CL stages early next year. Some clubs have an amazing European pedigree and some clubs don’t. I guess that is just the way it is.

4) McTominay gives all of us football fans hope, that we can still make it as a pro footballer one day

5) Ole needs to be careful. Sir Alex (a legend and what a man) has a movie coming out soon and saw some promotional interviews that act as a stark reminder about the Utd faithful. Never realised the magnitude of their hate towards him as they tried to hound him out in those early years. I know Ole has won a manager of the month award but time is ticking.

6) The Glazers should be understandably annoyed with the trophies return. They’ve backed Ole and previous managers to the hilt yet they will shoulder the blame here and not the manager nor the players. Love is blind.

7) Bruno is not world class.

8) Utd need a new keeper

9) Utd will continue to progress as they will continue to throw ridiculous sums of money but I think their progression will ultimately prove too gradual.

10). How ironic that penalties undo Man Utd given the helping hand they have proven to be throughout the season. Well done Villarreal and Emery (4th Europa – impressive).

Thanks for reading
Jimmy G


…I remember a while back F365 did a countdown from Worst to Best for the Champions League Finals, I feel after last night it’s time to rank the Europa/UEFA Cup Finals, last night’s certainly could break the Top 5.

Maybe it was because I’m a neutral but I found myself switching off and putting on Netflix after a bit.

Feel sorry for David De Gea, never easy to take a penalty as a goalkeeper and I do wonder if that’ll be the last kick of his United career, an incredible United career may I add, let’s not forget how many Player of the Season awards and carried the team during the post Fergie years.
Mikey, CFC

Top 10 goalkeepers of the Premier League season

Dodgy Dave
Is it even possible to produce a worse goalkeeper shootout performance than DDG’s in that final? 11 shots faced, 0 saved and then missing your own penalty. Earned hits £400k this week, the lad!
Matt, Melbourne. (Watch Ederson get the job done in the big boy final)


Heard it all before
– United dominate possession against the unfancied team, seem in complete control without threatening and then concede from a set piece against the run of play
– They do nothing much, get into half time down away from home
– Come out of the traps much better resembling a football team, and deservedly equalise
– The opposition waste time from the 10th minute but this has no impact of time added on
– Rashford is a disaster, and offers virtually nothing
– Greenwood is far, far better
– Lindelof is weak
– Cavani scores
– Bruno makes loads of mistakes
– Pogba doesn’t dominate from the middle
– De Gea doesn’t save penalties
– Ole still hasn’t made a sub as far as I can tell

To be honest, the only thing missing in this match was the tight penalty which gives United a 2-1 lead.

I guess you give credit to Villareal for being a bit better Burnley than Burnley, but that was some pretty, shall we say, unambitious stuff. I believe their first attempt on goal in the second half was in added time.

But Ole and United have real problems, know their problems, and yet this match was a bingo board for these problems. That has to be at the feet of the manager, who turned what should have been a good season into a bit of a meh one. Again.
Ryan, Bermuda (15 set piece goals conceded, should cost someone their job at United even if not Ole)


Even Phelan cops it
Why is Mike Phelan – Played 24, Lost 13, Drew 5, Won 6 at Hull City in 2016, an Assistant Manager at one of the world’s biggest football clubs?


Rashford’s form
The game is just ticking towards 90 minutes and I find myself once again questioning what Rashford has on Ole to keep him on the pitch!

Yes he’s tired, yes he’s carrying an injury and yes he’s the nations darling. Whilst all the above is true he is also playing so badly tonight (and has been for months) that taking him off isn’t an option, it’s a requirement!

He may now go on to score a hattrick in extra time, but even if this were to happen then I would still only give him a 6-7 out of 10.

I don’t understand how so many players get slated for poor performances but he constantly goes under the radar just because of how “nice” he is.

His injury may be really hampering him and if that’s the case he needs to have an op to get it fixed because playing him in this form is just not working!

He used to be such an electric player who lit up the game every time he got the ball, tonight he’s just spent 85 mins in Juan Foyth pocket, trying stupid tricks, making poor passes and missing an absolutely wonderful chance to win the game.

If I performed as badly as him for as long as him, I would be sacked and no excuses could save me from it, but for some reason this is tolerated because it’s him!

The better he gets himself sorted and gets his head back on football the better but until then he shouldn’t be near our first team!


Lack of class
So after a close game going all the way to penalties and eventually being decided by the finest of margins after 22 penalties and De Gea coming up agonisingly short in the shootout Villareal were crowned Europa League winners. I can understand the disappointment of the Man United players to lose a final in such a manner, however the behaviour of most of the players during the medals presentation left a sour taste I have to say. The absolute arrogance and disrespect to tear off the runner up medals as soon as they were put on just stinks of sore losers to be honest. At least show a bit of class towards the competion and to the opposition and at least wait until getting off the podium if you really dont want to accept one. Fair play to Pogba, Mata and Cavani for not acting like entitled spoilt brats unlike most of their team mates, who appeared to be playing up to the cameras trying to basically say I am too good to accept a runner up medal. Two teams contest a final, one had to win and one had to lose so deal with it and take it like a man if you end up on the losing side.
Marc D, Dublin (Credit where it is due to Emery and Villareal – also delighted for Alberto Moreno who took a lot of stick for his performance in the 2016 final. For him there has been some redemption at last)


Villarreal vibes
As a United fan of a certain age, who was also a fan of Sir Alex Ferguson’s managerial career prior to 1986, I am trying to reach beyond my current feelings of impotent frustration, and try to take something more positive from the Europa League Final.

A provincial club, with no great history of success, but with a side of players whose whole adds up to more than the sum of their individual parts? A tactically astute manager? A tense, at times backs to the wall victory, having seen more than 120 minutes of play, against one of the all-time great European sides? A first European trophy for the side in question? The defeated manager a club legend and himself a scorer in a European Cup Final?

Well, it all sounds a bit Aberdeen against Real Madrid in the 1983 Cup Winners Cup. (Aberdeen even had a super sub in the mould of OGS (John Hewitt), and 2-1 scoreline, but that’s mixing my metaphorical matches).

So good luck to Villarreal. I’m sure it means as much to them as it did (and still does) to Aberdeen.

And let’s hope they stuff City/Chelsea/Hamburg in the Super Cup to boot!

Kind regards
Nick Williamson, (DDG could have stood central and saved up to four of their penalties)

Villarreal Man United


…A team from a town of about 50 000 people winning their very first title, in a grand final, against a giant that even planned setting up a Super League for themselves and other giants (and Tottenham).

Damn, football, you can still be absolutely beautiful!
Håkon, Oslo


Villarreal antics
Just finished the god awful final and you may say that this is sour grapes but the referee and Villarreal were an absolute disgrace tonight, he gave them every dive, scream, shout and play act, United were not good but they were cheated at every turn by a team set up to frustrate and destroy the game. Ole didn’t cover himself in glory with his game management but my god they disgusted me. Rant over bring on next season.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


Emery wasn’t the problem
So it seems Unai Emery wasn’t the problem after all, who’d have thunk it..that just highlights to me how poor the Arsenal squad is and more importantly shows that triumph with hard work over “style” is possible.

Sure it wasn’t pretty but it would be exactly what Arsenal needs now



…Dear 365, can I please just clear something on the PL’s most deluded fanbase?
Am I right in stating that Unai Emery was apparently “not good enough” for Arsenal, their fans xenophobically mocked his English and lauded the Spanish teaching assistant Arteta instead? Well well. How time shows us the truth: Unai Emery has taken a team with a wage bill of just £40m, a total squad budget of just £100m, and a small middling team, and has humiliated Youth trainee Arteta, and showed you “can compete with financial resources” by beating a far richer ManYoo in the final.
Just to confirm that this was Unai Emery’s 4th European trophy, and he has done this with Sevilla, Valencia and Villareal – teams with meagre budgets. Oh and Emery’s 4 European trophies is a higher total than Arsenal/Wenger have in their entire history. Still…wait until you hear about Arteta’s amazing “second best team in the league over 23 games” trophy!
Stewie Griffin (laughing at deluded Gooners since 2006)



…Are the rumours true that they are thinking of renaming the “Europa League” Trophy as the “Unai Emery Football Appreciation” Cup?
Brian (BRFC)


Top 10 attacking midfielders of the Premier League season


The new Glenn Whelan
As we know, trying to work out what the point of Paul Pogba is has proved difficult for many. He is a footballing riddle wrapped in a marketing mystery.
However his display in this final has finally answered the question.
Driving runs to carry the ball forward, tracking back and making vital challenges, involved in crunching tackles, stunning cross field balls and giving full commitment to every step he took on the pitch, well that’s the role Scott McTominay fulfilled against Villarreal.
The type of footballer Pogba thinks he is.

Playing the ball sideways, playing it backwards, offering nothing offensively and even less defensively, that’s the role Paul Pogba actually filled. He has become the Glenn Whelan of Man Utd albeit without the self awareness of knowing he’s Glenn Whelan. He’s also still spoken of in Walcott-esque terms of potential. He’s twenty eight years of age. Unless he’s the second coming of Luca Toni it’s not going to happen.

To clarify, I’m not saying this as a wind up or to bait people. This isn’t based on a Souness level of hatred for the man. It’s an objective take on what I’ve watched.
He’s an extremely expensive water carrier who rarely does any lifting.

“But he’s won a World Cup” I hear you say.
Yes he did, as did Kleberson and Bernard Diomede to name but two players that have the same medal but just weren’t packaged and sold as successfully.
Eoin (Imagine what could be done with the money earned and wages saved by his sale) Ireland


Living in the past
I had to respond to Cathal’s mail describing the ‘99 Man U – Bayern final as “men vs boys”.

I certainly understand why someone might think that just by watching the highlights – and it’s not the first time I’ve heard that view point. But if you watch the full match (you can find it on YouTube) you may reach different conclusions.

After conceding a bad first goal, United dominate the game with Bayern sitting back and fairly content to counter. The quality of football from both teams is really poor with a heavy reliance on long balls (though this is pretty typical of the style of the time).

Beckham is everywhere and looks like the best player on the pitch. I think his celebrity status often leaves us forgetting just how great a player he was around this period.

There are little in the way of chances for either side during this period.

Around 60 mins, Ferguson takes off Blomqvist for Sheringham. This leaves a midfield 3 of Beckham, Giggs, and Butt. Bayern then have a few chances to end the contest – hitting the woodwork twice and forcing Schmeichel into two decent saves. This all happens in the last 20 mins as United push forward. Kahn also makes a couple of decent stops during this period.

I forget how it ends.

It’s also worth noting that the two teams met in the group stages – with United being held to a draw both times largely due to luck or individual errors (an offside goal and a Schmeichel mistake). The Treble was won thanks to a heck of a lot of luck but United weren’t inferior to any side they faced. Nor were they necessarily significantly superior to teams like Bayern, Barca, and Arsenal, which made it all the more exciting to witness.

Any other big games where the highlights have led to such a misleading perception?
Dan (blissfully remembering the good times rather than thinking about yesterday’s result), Pennsylvania.


Moyes as manager of the year?
Oh for heaven’s sake – David Moyes as manager of the year! I can take Bielsa and Rodgers as both have done fantastic jobs. I am a little conflicted over Tuchel – it really does depend on winning the CL – otherwise it’s, well, a 4th place finish. But at least I get rewarding him for reaching two finals. But David Bloody Moyes. If Pep wins the CL and a triple, to boot, I am sure he will be thinking what does he have to do. He must be doing a lot more crying and swearing wondering what does he have to do to earn the respect of Football365 writers.

It’s not as if West Ham don’t have a decent squad. They have spent a considerable sum on players. It really is a testament to Moyes under performing the prior year. Really. So the answer is – do really badly one year and then squeeze into a Europa League spot – and hey presto, the media will fawn all over you? Mind you, I guess in line with the ( very lazy and poor) worst ‘defending champions’ article that stuck to year over year points performance.

It would be Moyes actually won something.

And it’s not like I dislike Moyes or West Ham (well, maybe the triumvirate of Gold, Sullivan and Brady) but not the team, not the man.

But bloody hell.
Paul McDevitt, (PS does Utd losing the Europa League dropmOle down a place or two? What a shoot out though – bloody hell)


Thanks, Gini
I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to Giorginio Wijnaldum. Who has been as vital as any other player to Liverpool’s success during the Klopp era.

Almost every great club that has dominated English football has had a Gini Wijnaldum. Players like Gary Speed, Dennis Irwin, Ronnie Whelan, John McGovern, etc. All players who simply got on with it, but without whom, their respective clubs would have not reached the heights they did. These are rarely players who do anything spectacularly well, but critically don’t have any weakness and are so reliable that they get taken for granted, only missed once they are gone. In Gini’s case, he will always have the Barca CL semi final as his highlight, but his bigger contribution was his team work, the fact he was rarely dispossessed, the fluid movement with the ball, always played with football intelligence, making the correct decisions and that smile, I don’t think any Liverpool fan will forget that smile.

I think Gini’s departure is a result of a very unfortunate set of circumstances. Covid-19 has come around for him at the point where he was looking for the final “big” payday contract as he entered the final stages of his career, it simply could not have happened at a worse time from a career/contract position for Gini. The crazy thing is that even now Liverpool’s original contract extension offer is better than both Bayern and Barca are currently offering. Whether it’s pride or a simple family decision to bring up his kids in Catalonia or Bavaria instead of England, the decision seems to have been made. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think Gini will find the same love and adoration at his next club.

Good luck Gini, you are a legend. Incredibly underrated, but massively influential. YNWA


Euros predictions
Never get involved in a land war in Asia, never defend a World Cup with a high line and never make early predictions on the Euros. The three classic blunders. But unlike patchy 90’s Britpop band Menswe@r (Mensweatr?), I believe in being brave…

Winners: France

Tricky to call given the magnificent ‘Group of Death’, which is made even more intriguing given that the two weakest squads (Hungary and Germany) will be hosting their matches.

France should win at least on paper. Kante is their ‘Weapon X’ with his ability to both harry and surge forward. I have them favourites because of Mbappe but they could easily get dragged into a group stage brawl and face an early exit.

But the squad looks a little top-heavy and perhaps they’ll miss the ultra-reliable Matuidi. Plus picking Clement Lenglet is the football equivalent of riding the Derby on a cow. Barcelona fans will know all about the error-prone defender with the constant guilty look of someone who’s been caught sneaking out for a pack of gauloises with his mistress.

Portugal at 8/1(!) are a good outside bet. The defending Champions have a squad which could survive the necessary rotation – like Juventus, Portugal have been better at times without Ronaldo. Get a good result in that first match against Hungary and the group opens up for them a little. Draw or lose and Group F becomes the heavyweight royal rumble we’ve all been hoping for. But three teams could still make it out.

Flops: Belgium

Belgium are third favourites, have some big reputations and are in a comfortable looking group. But that once-solid defence is ageing a little and I expect it to be found out. Otherwise Italy – even if they impress in the group stages they will flunk it when the intensity rises.

Golden Boot: Kane

Lukaku, Mbappe and Kane seem like the safest candidates. Group stage boot-fillings could easily skew it to a more left-field choice, like Russia’s Dzyuba or Sweden’s Isak.

Wildcard: Spain

Only Alba and Busquets remain from the great Spain teams of the early noughties and there seems to be a lack of leadership present. Yet Llorente and Pedri could easily be the stars of the show. Nobody ‘knows’ anything.

Surprise package: Turkey

Turkey look like a team with something to prove and Yilmaz has been great for Lille. Netherlands could easily float through to the latter stages without too much interference.

Home nations: Given the draw, England could suffer the madness of winning their group and getting knocked out by Germany. I think tiredness and injury will be their undoing but rotation and a good draw should see them reach at least the semis…

Wales have a weak looking squad and a tricky group, which I don’t think they’ll get out of unless Bale and Ramsey can repeat their Euro 2016 heroics.

Scotland are very much in the balance. They have a far better squad than Wales but the Czechs and Croats will be no pushovers. Expect a lot of passion but late heartbreak.
Quarantino, Chairman of the Bored, ITFC.


Not salty
Can we not all agree that pointing out that an argument/claim is awful doesn’t mean you are ‘angry’ or ‘salty’ or ‘bad losers’?

It just means that you are pointing out a really bad argument. Some people think awful arguments shouldn’t be unchallenged because people might actually believe they are good arguments otherwise. Weird that. Someone who makes a bad argument and then claims that people who show it is incoherent are angry is at best a troll and at worst completely incapable of taking part in a discussion that doesn’t take part in their own little echo chamber.

Don’t blame the people pointing out that a claim/argument is utter nonsense. Blame the people who make that original claim/argument in the first place and the people unwilling to see their precious delusions shattered by the facts of reality.
Greg, Taunton. (And yes, I do have more respect for the people trolling rather than the people who genuinely believe that pointing out a bad argument makes you angry. A scintilla is more than zero, after all.)


Pick a player
Fun game from GlenFor Liverpool I’d take:

De Bruyne,

So a line up next season of


TAA – Van Dijk – Gomez – Robertson

Henderson – Thiago – Fabinho

Salah – Jota – Mane

On the bench:

De Bruyne

Good team that.
Mike, LFC, London