Liverpool ‘dodged bullet’ that has helped take Man Utd down

Date published: Tuesday 8th March 2022 2:52 - Editor F365

Bruno Fernandes celebrates with Jadon Sancho

Bruno Fernandes was dreadful against Manchester City and Liverpool were lucky not to sign him. Manchester United could do with a quarterback.

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Rash decision
Rami, Manchester
– I thought that when we refer to a “20 goals a season striker”, it means 20 Premier league goals, no? Rashford’s league goals record in the past 3 full seasons is 11, 17 and 10. The previous 3 seasons were 7,5 and 5. He has 4 in 18 this season.

Why is he rated so? When confident and on form he can play with a certain instinct which lends itself to patches of higher standards, but I’ve never observed the level of decision making, movement or composure in elite strikers. He certainly doesn’t have the tactical awareness, creativity, delivery, positioning and work rate to be a wide forward. Hell I can’t even remember the last time I saw him playing with confidence/instinct/aggression since he first season or two. Consistency is key, as they say.

I’d love for a young(ish) England striker to be demonstrating quality and development, but I just don’t see it. I’d argue that Ollie Watkins is a better rounded talent as a forward today.
Mark | Football Fan


This is not a “let’s bash Rashford” mail. He’s recovered slowly from injury and has been struggling for form in a team that’s struggling for form. This is, I think you’ll find, not unusual. Other very good players have had bad years, sometimes with excuses (see Kuyt, Dirk and the death of his father) and sometimes more mysteriously (see Mane, Sadio and whatever happened last year).

Ideally, you want to be able to nurse these players through their poor form by letting them focus on their role in a functioning team. Rashford doesn’t have that luxury. I’m sure he’ll recover and return to being a very good, but not quite great inside forward.

But that’s neither here nor there. What I want to grumble about is the idea that he’s still a young player. Basically, he’s not anymore. He’s 24. The PFA may consider him young, but I don’t. And I bet, when you think about it, you don’t either.

Here’s a laundry list of senior players younger than Rashford. AWB, TAA, Sanchez, Ramsdale, Gabriel, Odegaard, Rice, Tomiyasu, Royal, Romero, Ajer, Konate, Struijk, and I’ve gotten bored. All of these are senior players who would not get the “oh, they’re still young” tag.

Rashford is a player in his prime, but also in woeful form. While I suspect he’ll return to form, I don’t think his ceiling is going to magically change without a dramatic shift in coaching. And, considering he’s already very, very good, that’s fine. But maybe it’s time to pin the next-big-thing hopes on someone else. Sancho, for instance.
Andrew M, Streatham


Rashford’s PR team is probably one the best PR teams I have seen. A player terribly off form, who has nothing in the past 24 months to warrant a place in any team that can afford his wages. You think that even Arsenal will sacrifice lacazette’s work ethic, link up play and excellent decision making away from goal for Rashford’s lack of work ethic(he plays for his boyhood club), terrible decision making and average finishing(he has gotten double figures in the league thrice in his career and more than 11 goals just once in 6 years)?

Now his PR says Arsenal wants him, Simeone’s Atletico madrid known for their work ethic also wants him, get this for about 60m GBP. Wow, Rashford? 60m? on 200k plus a week? is he better than Martinelli? or Joao Felix? or Antonio and Bowen at west ham? or Son and Kukulevski at Spurs? or can he get on the pitch for Chelsea or Man City. On his form in the last 30 months can he get on the bench of this liverpool team? If Rashford wasnt English will he even play for Manchester United?

He had so much ability at 18. Now he just a 24 year old wonder kid, and everlasting wonderkid like Neymar but with far less ability
Kufre, Nigeria


We’re back, baby!!! Doherty with two assists and having one of his best ever performances in a Spurs shirt, Kane back in full glorious goalscoring mode, our two central midfielders actually working together to control a game of football, a clean sheet!!! The top 4 race is back on!

Or we just whipped a shambolic team that are crashing towards the Championship.

However good Tottenham were, Everton were worse and then some.

After the match Conte said the real barometer will come against Utd as he knew these 3 points from Everton were as easily won as you’ll ever get.

Spurs’ best winning streak in the league this season is three in a row, and that’s only happened twice. Beating Man Utd will equal that.

We beat a broken Leeds 4-0 and shambolic Everton 5-0. Before these wins, we lost to Burnley and sandwiched in between them
we lost to Middlesbrough. Are we good? Are we very average? Will beating Utd change any of this?

If only there was a word to describe this supreme level of streakiness from this club. If such a word did exist, Spurs would be that.

Here’s to a draw against Man Utd on Saturday because both teams are too much of a parody to have the decency to lose and do the other club a favour.
David, Battersea


Destruction derby
Strange game for a Liverpool fan as I was up for United to win it. But since I have no connection to any United player at all I feel like I can be pretty unbiased about it.

I felt like United were almost the better side in the first half and deserved their goal. Wan bissaka and Fernandes were god awful but everyone else played well. Then the second half happened and it was like an entirely different set of players stepped out, except wan bissaka and Fernandes who continued their awful performances.

I’m gonna be a bit easier on wan bissaka since it was pretty clear very early on where pep told his players to target, he often had to deal with three attackers at any given time so it’s not a surprise that he couldn’t cope. The surprise is that nobody ever came to help him and wreck it didn’t change that in the second half.

Fernandes is a bad player. This was the 8th time I watched him this season and the 8th time that I’d seen a player who couldn’t stay in position. Couldnt mark, press or track a runner. Couldnt make simple 5 yard passes and offered nothing at either end of the field. I’m now inclined to say that he’s just not a very good player and it’s a real dodged bullet from liverpool.

How does a team which has spent more money than any other premier League team step out into a derby match against their local rivals with zero strikers and 6 midfielders? I know that what pep does every week but that’s his MO and in his defence he doesn’t really have any strikers, the closest he has is Jesus. United have plenty and still started with none. That’s incredibly unambitious.

Finally I find it hard to refer to United as rivals anymore because a rival is someone you’re in competition with and they haven’t been competitive for almost a decade. It’s tempting now to say that United’s rivals are those which fight for 4th place; arsenal, Leicester spurs are United’s rivals now. It’s a sobering realisation and one which as a Liverpool fan I had to accept and live with back when we were fighting for that coveted 4th place trophy every year.

We were lucky and got out through a combination of better club management (thanks fsg) and the right man at the right time (thanks jurgen). I dunno how United fix their club management issues a better question is… Who is the right man for United and when is the right time? Talk of ten Haag makes me think it’s the wrong time for him. Very promising coach who I think needs more time to grow into a coach who can handle the extreme pressure of United. The second name is poch who I think is the wrong man. Struggled in France last year, got worse every year at spurs and is making it look difficult to coach Lionel Messi in a league in which he should score for fun.

So who is the right man?


Crist has risen
Everything was going well (albeit not spectacularly) for Manchester United. Then they sign Cristiano Ronaldo and everything goes bust.

They were a decent goal scoring side. Then they sign the greatest goal scorer of all time. Now they can’t score goals to save their lives.

Since he came, Bruno Fernandes lost his Mojo. Rashford forgot how to score and Maguire forgot how to defend. To fit him in, we’ve tried 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and even invented 4-2-2-2. None has worked.

Solskjaer lost what little career he had in management. Rangnick lost the ephemeral reputation he had as an innovative coach. We now look at Arsenal with envy, wishing we had Arteta. At least you can see progress there.

At Old Trafford, whatever semblance of progress we might have had, was sacrificed on the altar of nostalgia.

Transfer mistake of the decade without a doubt.
Tunji, Lagos.


Quarterback required
Hi F365,

I watched the ‘best goals of the FA Cup Fifth Round’ on the Beeb website (spoiler alert: Perraud quite rightly appears to have it in the bag) and noticed that two of the seven goals (Grealish’s and Werner’s) came directly from long, slightly off-straight passes (long passes, not ‘long balls’) over the top of the opposition defence. They weren’t counter-attacking moves, where the forward has acres to run into – they were precise balls into a very small corridor of space where neither the defence nor the goalkeeper were able to intercept.

Having watched about 70-odd minutes of the derby as a United fan and spending most of that time trying to work out what some of United’s multiple issues are, it struck me (particularly after seeing Bruno attempt a relatively straightforward crossfield pass to switch play, and scuffing it so it skimmed at knee-height into a City player) that we’re missing, amongst several other things, a ‘quarterback’ – basically a long-overdue replacement for Michael Carrick. The move for Sancho’s goal was nice, but it’s not easy to break through three or four presses every time – having an accurate ball-playing midfielder who can cut out two lines of opposition players and launch an immediate counter (and to add another attack route against deeper defences) would be lovely to have. The closest we have, from what I’ve seen in recent weeks, is Lindelof, who has a nice line in long passing, but only rarely gets the chance to make them – and we shouldn’t be relying on him to do so anyway.

The combination of a dedicated CDM and a ‘more cultured’ ball-playing deep midfielder might also bring a bit more out of our speedy wide forwards – as well as allowing diagonal switches of play to advancing full-backs on the opposite side, which Liverpool use to great effect currently.

And to open a question to the floor, in case it’s a quiet Tuesday: who have been the best destroyer/ball-player midfield duos, from the Prem, Europe or beyond?

Dan in Brighton


United and Frank
Dear Editor,

Now the Monday night game is passed, a couple of overall weekend thoughts if I may:

First, did anyone, Liverpool fans especially, really think that United would get anywhere near City? If, and it remains a big if, Liverpool are to catch City, we can only look to win every game left this season. The draws early on have cost us, but that’s not to complain – we are having a phenomenal season, enjoy it!

Second, Lampard is taking Everton down. Fast. The thing that strikes me, that I don’t think has really been addressed is how poor his teams are defensively. The numbers tell the story for me – with Derby in 18-19 (conceded 54, GD of 15, far worse than the 5 clubs above them), with Chelsea in his only full season (conceded 54, the next team to concede that many were Southampton in 11th), and now with Everton, 3-1, 2-0, 1-0 and 5-0 losses.

Who did they bring in, in January – a left back who is worse than the one that left, a winger, a midfielder and who knows what Deli is now? They’ve a championship defence, and a manager who can’t organise it.

Burnley and Leeds to stay up.



FAO, Barry
Barry, you are the worst kind of football fan. Kulu has an excellent game and straight away you want to come out and say that he’s better than Diaz. Why do you do it? Does it even matter if he’s better than Diaz? He’s started well for us and as long as that continues, what Diaz does or doesn’t do is irrelevant to us. And your ‘who’s laughing now’ comment makes you sound like a child.

‘Assuming we beat Man Utd at the weekend the race for fourth place looks like a straight shootout between Spurs and our neighbours. Bring it on.’

You can’t be an actual spurs fan if you just assume that we will beat utd at the weekend. And writing off utd and West Ham at this point is silly, it’s going to be a close race for the top 4 and all the challengers will drop plenty of points before the end of the season. Without meaning to insult any of the clubs a not great side is going to qualify for the cl this season via the league.
Donnie Jones


Oh Barry, why did you have to go there? Why can’t we just appreciate both footballers for what they are? Do we have to continually play the same game in the playground, where my team is better than yours etc. (We should really blame F365 for their game playing headline)

What I did want to highlight off the back of Barry’s genuine love of Kulu was that sometimes we should value players other than the usual currency we hero worship them for, whilst getting goals and assists are still crucial, the acquisition of Diaz and moving Mane into a more central role has actually improved Liverpool’s forward line and options.

Would it be churlish of me to say that has enabled Liverpool to continue their fine form of late, whereas Spurs have spluttered at times losing to Burnley in the league and Boro in the Cup even whilst calling on the fine services of Kulu.

I’m almost tempted to say it is already one the signings of the season, but then I’d be falling back into the stereotypical tropes of being a football fan.
Mr K


Sutton United
Dear Football365,

Nathan Spafford’s piece about Sutton United had a couple of the key ingredients for a good F365 piece, namely an interesting subject and the writing of Nathan Spafford. Nathan suggests United feel like a non-league side punching above their weight. An artificial pitch can help with this vibe, or at least, stories about the high costs of replacing them; this was certainly the case with Harrogate Town a couple of years ago. In 2018, they finished third in the National League and made it publicly known that this cost was prohibitive to the smooth financial running of the club. Showing their trademark sympathy, the National League helpfully pointed out that to refuse promotion was a breach of the rules of competition punishable by relegation.

It’s also worth pointing out the club has not been full-time very long; until a couple of years ago, they were part-time before moving to what they called a “three quarter time” model, so players could give themselves the best possibly chance on the pitch while still being able to earn an income outside of football if they needed to. The timing of that decision coincided with Paul Doswell’s decision to resign from the club. Doswell is based in Hampshire and runs his own business, so presumably could not commit to increased time at Gander Green Lane. A move to a club closer to home worked out well for all involved, as Doswell took Havant & Waterlooville to second in the National League South in his first season in charge; a return to the playoffs looks less likely at the moment, but is by no means impossible. Matt Gray had previously deputised during a leave of absence for Doswell, so was the obvious choice to succeed him. It’s to Gray’s eternal credit that he has surpassed his predecessor.

I’ve always had half an eye on the Us, as my one of grandad’s best friends was a club director for a number of years. Sadly, Brian passed away in late 2020, so never got to see the Us in the Football League. He was an adoptive Londoner rather than a native one, but he found a home at Sutton, and was well-liked by his club colleagues and fellow supporters. I last saw him in December 2017, at a big gathering, and seized the opportunity to chat about non-league football. The club put a touching tribute to Brian on their website, so I wrote to them to say thanks, and that our family had known Brian’s for more than sixty years. I had a personal reply from Sutton’s chairman, Dave Farebrother. That’s what proper clubs do.
Ed Quoththeraven

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