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Key aims for Man Utd
Interesting question posed by Andrew (LFC), Cambridge. As Andrew says, it does all depend on what United do in this transfer window, but I think some things are given; these aims are regardless of who we sign this summer, and should be the minimum requirement for this exact squad as it stands today.
First, a title challenge is not on the cards this time out, as much as many would have you believe it should be. The league table this season shows you just how far off the pace we were and that is not going to be addressed in one window. So, I think the first aim should just be to finish significantly closer to the title winners, whoever that might be – and I’m talking less than 12 points off the top. By extension, the second aim should be to comfortably (as in, not secured on the last day of the season) qualify for the Champions League.
The other thing which should be a key aim next season is to stop dropping points to teams that are in the lower half of the league. While we took 26 points from matches against 1st – 8th (beating Chelsea, Leicester and City twice each), we dropped 32 points against teams that finished between 9th and 20th (losing to Palace, West Ham, Newcastle, Burnley, and relegated Bournemouth and Watford). That, quite simply, is not going to be acceptable next year. It’s fair to say that some of those teams will improve next time out but we need to be putting more teams to the sword next season if we want to get closer to the top.
As for the cups, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would peg us for a Champions League win just yet, but I would definitely expect us to get out of whichever group we were drawn in. An FA Cup win should always be a target for any top six Premier League side, but it’s not a disaster to not win that. I don’t think there’s any indication of whether the League Cup will run next season but if it does then we should be aiming to win that (but only because it’s my favourite competition!).
I think if we go out and get the three players we are supposedly seeking (a right-winger, a midfielder/striker, and a centre-back) without losing any key players on transfers or to injuries, then those aims should be revised slightly. In which case, we should be aiming to get a lot closer to the top than 12 points off – probably into low single figures difference – but even if we got Sancho, Skriniar/Koulibaly/Torres and Van De Beek/Grealish/whoever then a title tilt is still not on the cards next year – we’re just not there yet. I just want to see tangible progress being made and for lessons to be learned from the mistakes of this season. That last one doesn’t seem to be the case as yet, given by the circus surrounding the Sancho deal, but I can’t say I’m surprised there.
I’m about to defend Man Utd, oh dear…
A Mail of two halves coming your way, first a response to Dean, SUFC, it is a short and to the point response:
“Now, with the Sancho transfer added into the mix, there is no doubt in my mind, that if Manchester United do not win the title or the Champions league next season, it can be dubbed nothing short of disastrous failure.” I quote from his Mail, now as a Chelsea fan defending United is probably a shock but surely to expect United to win one of the two biggest trophies in club sport and if they do not it is a disaster is quite harsh surely now? Signing Jadon Sancho would be a huge move, it would improve their side, but they still have many other holes within their squad that need looking at, similar to my own club, now I am not sure what United fans are expecting ahead of the 20/21 season in terms of targets, but if they were to finish within the Top 4, lift a domestic trophy and go deep into the Champions League, they would likely see that as a very good season, but to assume that signing Sancho will make them easily challenge Liverpool and City for the title is certainly quite something, unless your comment was tongue in cheek, then I have spent far to long responding.
Second half of this mail is a response to Adam, Midlands about “Tapping Up”, it seems most modern day transfers have some form of “Tapping Up” going on, otherwise we wouldn’t hear this “gossip” on a daily basis, we even hear that a manager has spoken directly to the player to convince them to join their club, now of course, tapping up means you have spoken to a player under contract without the clubs permission, so if permission is granted then all is well, but highly doubt it is often granted in many cases, I was curious to see if there had been any cases of Tapping Up in recent seasons, as my memory only can recall Owen Hargreaves to United and Ashley Cole to Chelsea, well after a google search I found that in 2017, Liverpool were found guilty of tapping up a young player who was registered with Stoke City, which led to a £100,000 fine and a two-year ban from signing academy players from English league clubs, does anyone else remember this incident because I certainly do not.
Mikey, CFC (Shout out to whoever writes the headlines in the Gossip section each day, they do make me chuckle)
My manager could beat up your manager
A lot of talk around the respective performances of Arteta, Lampard and Ole.
Arteta – who knows? Looks like he’s done good work but really early. Is it just new manager bounce? Won the cup obviously, which is great but I don’t think it’s much of a barometer of anything – van Gaal won it during an otherwise tepid season and got sacked. Roberto Martinez won it and got relegated… I can see why Arsenal fans would be pleased though.
Frank – I don’t get it. I’m not seeing anything he’s done to improve a Chelsea team who finished the previous season in 3rd and had a squad that was in good shape. Yes they had a transfer ban and sold their best player but, aforementioned ban notwithstanding, signed an excellent replacement player. I don’t think he’s been sackably bad, but I’m not impressed.
Ole – inherited an expensively assembled, but old and messy squad bloated with overpaid middling players, who (like at Arsenal) were playing badly enough to get his predecessor sacked. Almost everything he’s done has been positive. He’s improved the players’ fitness, improved the mood, made positive signings, been clearing the dead wood (We even offloaded Alexis Sanchez! I’m sure we took a hit, but at least he’s not a Mesut-Ozil style albatross sucking up half the budget anymore). He’s imposed a positive and exciting style of play. He suffered a bad dip in form but turned it around to turn United into the country’s form team. Yes, he achieved only the same points total as last season but that’s not a useful metric, in this league he has materially improved his team’s standing. All while lowering the squad age to the lowest in the league – United are only going to improve.
Almost everything he has done has been positive. He’s an unqualified success.
Having said that… I don’t think he’s “the one”. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I am not seeing that something extra that Klopp and Pep obviously have. He’s not the one who is going to build a dynasty but what he is doing is laying a great foundation – he’s the Pelegrini to a Guardiola, or the… Jupp Heynckes to a Guardiola or the… Frank Rijkaard to a Pep Guardiola.
I don’t know who our special manager is going to be, but Ole’s doing fine in the meantime.
Having said that, all of those guys that Guardiola succeeded won their team the league, so if Ole achieves the same, that would do nicely!
Side note, when you look at it Pep has only ever managed teams that he inherited and were really good already. He’s squeezed the last drop out of them then done a runner. Now City are ancient and their heroes all retiring, does he have it in him to rebuild? For me, that’s what gives Klopp the edge. His ability to take unremarkable, middling clubs and make them undeniably special is far more impressive than Guardiola’s taking the team that’s already the best and improving their passing. I mean seriously, just properly unremarkable football sides of unimpressive pedigree. Klopp’s a genius.
On the Arsenal redundancies and “football as a business”
In this morning’s Mailbox, Carolyn from South London discussed the backlash against the 55 job losses announced by Arsenal, casually dropping in my least favourite phrase of all time, a pernicious myth that the British public have long moved past even questioning, a lie uttered so many times that it has moved beyond questioning into the realm of pure, uncontroversial Fact, despite being nothing of the sort. The phrase I’m talking about, of course, is the following: “Football clubs are like any other business”.
Are they? Why? The hint is in the name that there is (in theory at least) a key difference between a football CLUB and what Carolyn is describing, which is a corporation, a brand, a pure money-making exercise. I’m no expert on the history of Arsenal but I doubt very much that the munitions workers who founded the club did so with profits for American business tycoons in mind. If one wanted to make money, there are a lot more reliable and less complicated ways to do so than to run a football club with profits in mind.
But the commercialisation of football has been allowed to continue unchallenged with so much pace and venom that we have already moved beyond any debate about whether or not it’s a Good Thing – the damage has been done, we can’t turn back now, evidenced by the casual nature in which Carolyn (and so many others, I don’t want to pick just on her) evoke this perceived truism that “football clubs are like any other business”. What we’re left with is a sporting culture bereft of all life, where fans get online and debate the virtues of their club’s sackings of regular staff compared to a rival club’s, where fans celebrate new sponsorship deals and say things like “I’d pay 50 million for Grealish but there’s no way I’d pay 60”, as if these figures have any meaning to us whatsoever, so astronomical to be impossible to grasp even if we had any accurate insight into the finances of our clubs anyway.
Does it really have to be this way? Do football clubs really need to be run “like any other business”? Other countries point towards a different way: while in no way immune to the virus that is neoliberal thought, at least clubs in Spain & Germany are still ostensibly run as just that, “clubs”, with a “President” rather than a Chief Executive. Of course, corporate logic has seeped into the water in those countries too. The difference in England is that nobody even tries to pretend otherwise, so embedded in everyone’s psyche is the idea that no, football isn’t different, and there’s no point in even imagining that it could be – football clubs are like any other business, now sit down and shut up.
Matt (MUFC), Berlin
I read yesterday the bile from Arsenal about haven’t to make 55 people redundant because of the financial situation put on the from Covid.
I have been an Arsenal fan for 52 of my 56 years on this planet, I tell a lot of people that, because i have always been proud of it, I used to be proud of it, i have never looked at another team, but today I’m only ashamed to be a supporter of the club. I know its not my doing this has happened, its not the players fault, its not the media’s fault, not Auba’s, Wiliian’s or Ozil’s. We don’t need to deflect away from the real culprits, that only plays into their hands. its only 2 peoples fault, they both have the last name of Kroenke.
The fact they tried to whitewash the savings in a “we will reinvest into the team” make it so much worse. They couldn’t even sign the statement themselves, had to have others do that. Do they genuinely believe we are that stupid? The amount they are saving that I have seen being reported is 2,5 million, what in gods name is that going to do for anyone. Its disgusting. If we are truly in a financial state that 2.5 million is going to fix then we probably need to close up shop. I am just perplexed at what they hope to achieve by this. I know football is a business, but what is this going to accomplish.
I don’t blame the players for this, i don’t agree with the amount they earn, but that is the game, its not their fault. If i was an Arsenal player today I think i would be seriously thinking about putting in for a transfer request. You will all get picked up by other teams, you are all good players. I mean, the owners lied to you and stole 12.5 % of your pay ( i bet you wont be getting that back) who is to say they wont keep lying to you and keep stealing from you.
I think the worst thing (other than the 55 who are losing their jobs) is that their isn’t a damned thing Arsenal fans can really do about it other than email our outrage about this, but what does that do. The Kroenke’s couldn’t care less about what we think. All they seem to care about is money, judging by how they have run other great teams into the ground. They will keep stripping our club of its class piece by piece. I truly hope that other teams will take a look at these people and offer them jobs.
Wade (please FA get the Kroenke’s out of the premier league) Hanging on.
Europa League thoughts…
As a Chelsea fan, I’ve been clinging to the gossip column everyday, hoping to see what our team might look like come the start of next season. Given the speculation around Havertz and more recently Reguilon, I was eager to watch both of them play. As Havertz is about 60m more, I decided to watch more of him.
Havertz had a poor game for a player reportedly worth 80 million pounds. He could well have had a hat-trick, at the least a brace. Two one on one opportunities went begging and just before half time he gave the ball away twice in the space of a few minutes with misplaced passes. Perhaps this was just a blip. A conspiracy theorist might say he was trying to drive down his price to push through a deal (I kid, of course). There were moments of quality, like his inch perfect through ball to set his teammate up for a brilliant chance. He was also unlucky not to score from a superb volley. Based on this game alone, I’m not entirely convinced he’s worth the prices being reported. On the other hand, he his only 21 and clearly as plenty of potential. I look forward to watching him in the next round.
At half time I switched from the Bayer game to the Sevilla game, I never looked back. Sevilla played some incredible football, high pressing, high tempo. It was beautiful to watch. They seemed to be able to tear Roma apart at will. Reguilon was equally as brilliant. To be entirely honest, this was the first time I’d watched him, and he was phenomenal going forward. His goal was an excellent demonstration of pace and control, even if he did get lucky with the finish. As impressed as I was with his attacking ability, I was more interested in defending. Unfortunately for me, Sevilla dominated and he didn’t have to do much of that. He is definitely a bargain at 25m, but I’m still not entirely convinced he’d suit Chelsea. We need defenders who can actually defend, first and foremost.
I have no intention of pretending I’ve watched enough of these players to form concrete opinions, these views are entirely based on last night’s matches. I would love to here from other mailboxers who have watched more of them.
God help us against Bayern.
Tashen, South Africa. (Genuinely cannot wait for next season to start, but what in the hell are Nike doing with out kits??? Absolutely horrific!)
The Wasted Generation
Your feature on players under-used really brought home a startling fact – we’ve wasted a whole generation of English players.Hart; Rose, Jones, Stones, Clyne; Wilshire, Rodwell, Delph, Sturridge, Welbeck, Lallana…that’s an England first team right there. Add in the regression of Dier, Ali, and numerous others who have failed to progress, and you have to ask…what happened?
I don’t remember other generations falling by the wayside like this. The Golden Generation (Lampard, Gerrard, Scholes, etc) may have been crap at international level, but at least had decent club careers?
‘ABU365’ at it again
I see your next trick is to slate our new kit. Disgraceful. You’ve really gone to far now.
“Bus seat upholstery” well I never. This is all too much, I’m going to have to report you lot to the media standards agency. Does that exist?
You’re just picking on United and all its fans now.
Mark Danger Endicott, MUFC
P.S. take in jest and keep up the good work F365.
“This shirt is objectively bad and if you like it you are wrong. It should be inserted up Sir Alex Ferguson’s backside until it dissolves.”
Ah that famous scouse wit. I know ABU365 likes to pretend it’s impartial but there can be no doubt who Dave Tickner supports. (MC – He is from Cambridgeshire.)
I can actually hear the phlegm.
William Douglas Foster, Stretford
Is nobody talking about the fact that Rangers have been playing fixtures in two different seasons this week? Surely some kind of (short-lived) first?