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Is Henderson still that farting dog?
A couple of years ago, there was a now infamous letter published in this hallowed mailbox that described Jordan Henderson as a “dog that wakes itself up farting” or words to that effect. I always thought that was harsh as I was a fan of his and wondered that perhaps people who only see him on TV a couple of times a year miss what he brings to the team when you watch him week in and week out.
Fast forward to now…. Jordan Henderson must up there with Kevin de Brunye for the player of the year. He has been phenomenal this season. In fact, he’s been brilliant for about 2 and half years now and never seems to receive the plaudits he deserved. Without doubt, he is one of the hardest working footballers I’ve ever seen, and he seems to be improving every year. He is playing with massive confidence right now and it shows; his passing, work rate, tackling and reading of the game are as on point as they have ever been, and he must be a shoe in for the England midfield at the Euro’s right now. There is simply no better performing English midfielder anywhere at the minute.
Let’s face it, you can’t be captain of one of the finest teams about right now and be a passenger in that midfield. You can’t be captain of the current European and World champions if you aren’t a top footballer because they would replace you in an instant if you weren’t.
I’d like to ask the writer of the original letter to give us their current thoughts on Henderson and ask if they stand by their original assessment? If you do stand by it, then you are wrong. Very wrong.
Neil (27 more points…) Mulvaney
Aren’t Liverpool lovely?
What I found really heart-warming watching the game last night was the innocent behaviour of Sadio Mane when he got injured. He knew immediately his game was over, but instead of doing the cynical collapse to the ground that so many “professionals” would do, he wandered over towards the touchline and only sat down when told to by the Liverpool staff, even then, he felt so uncomfortable doing this that he got up and carried on making his way off the pitch.
This highlights a couple of things to me that had previously passed me by. Firstly, the pure natural reaction of Sadio to what happened highlighted that this team really don’t do “gamesmanship”, I actually cannot recall any time-wasting or feigning injury from the players. What they have become better at this season is controlling a game in the later stages and will now pass the ball around rather than go all out to score a goal, so a growing maturity.
Secondly, wouldn’t it be wonderful if kids watching football learnt these positive traits from this great side just as they sadly learnt the negative ones from Fergie’s Utd and Mourinho’s Chelsea during they’re periods of success.
Dale (Game management and simulation are just fancy words for time-wasting and diving) Marlow
Man Utd are my dementia-suffering Dad
Some may find this a strange analogy but United are my dementia riddled dad.
My dad a local legend by all accounts was the type a dad any young football obsessed lad would die to have.
When I was growing up it was apparent to my 12 year old self even then that my dad was self made, rich, funny, successful, good looking and captain of the local football team. An alpha male. Men wanted to be him and women…well you know the rest.
Out of the blue my mum died suddenly (Fergie retiring) and as my dad got older dementia a cruel horrible disease (Glazers/Woodward) took hold and the old mans powers declined (United). Without his rock my mum he was broken hearted and a Doctor said the trauma of this brought on dementia sooner. He was a shadow of his former self. He lost weight, he neglected himself (old Trafford) and his mind was no longer sharp.
As more years pass occasionally myself and the extended family have witnessed the occasional glimpse of what the man once was (PSG away) the odd joke he would crack and just for a minute we would think…dads back, but he wasn’t and unless there’s a miracle cure out there he’s never gonna be the same again.
Sound familiar united fans….
Not Fergie’s fault
Nope, I’m not going to hear it. Every time I see one if these ‘hot takes’, I’m going to write in, and the only guarantee I can give is every “Alex Ferguson has to take his share of the blame” will always be needing to be put straight.
Opinions are a wonderful thing, you can launch into an ambitious one and seem evocative and’ progressive’ when really all you’ve done is spout completely deluded garbage. This isn’t a guy who ‘did loads for the club’, he fucking did everything. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!!
He asked one thing of the fan base upon his departure, one little thing in return for all that he did for them, all the glory he let them have a part of. “Stand by your manager”. That lasted what? 7 months? During which time there was endless griping and people not being able to get used to not being pampered to. He wanted one little thing in return for all of the great moments he provided for all of you, be mote supportive to the next manager in what will be a trying period of adjustment for not only everybody, but for Mr. Moyes too.
I’d venture that of all of his transfers that he was a part of in his time at the club, that was the biggest one that he wanted to get right. Of course, he could get it wrong, his transfer record was far from perfect, but it was far closer to perfect than abysmal. Bringing in David Bellion isn’t as memorable in terms of strategy as bringing in Ruud Van Nistelroy. That fuck up is barely memorable compared to that masterstroke. And Van Nistelroy wasn’t even that much of a masterstroke really! He only won one league! But he is remembered far more for his exploits than “just winning the league once.”
So, his shitty transfers weren’t such a catastrophe that wrecked the entire landscape of the club. And transfers that were REALLY GOOD weren’t that good, and that’s because the transfers that were REALLY F*CKING GOOD were so overwhelmingly the standard that the really good transfers just fit in seemlessly with barely any noticeablity. As did the gash ones. Fergie was a guy who had so much good work being done that his bad work left barely a scratch and his really good work looked better than it was but still was really good in itself.
If he was still your manager you’d not be in this position, even now, with him being a million years old, finishing 3rd would still be a catastrophe and a source of bad feelings and anger. So do one will ya lol, he presided very carefully over the most important transfer of his career by bringing in who he thought could be his natural successor and could be groomed and 7 months of endless crying and finger pointing was all he got from his spoiled fanbase after he asked them for one thing, just one little thing for his 27 years of monumental success. You’s just got spoiled and cried your arses off at the very notion of having to be thankful. So don’t f*cking even lump him into your dissection of where things went so wrong. The only thing he could be accused of is being Santa Claus to a bunch of kids who turned out to not deserve it.
Davo (Not even a Utd fan), Waterford
…Pherian, My Question is why 6 years after the point people are still bringing Fergie up and asking why we don’t blame him? While I agree with you that the first season post Fergie we can all look and say that the correct decision were not made in terms of manager appointment and that heart overpowered head but that was six years ago.
He left a title winning squad, albeit an aging one, but there was plenty of quality there. If the correct playerss and coaches had been brought in ( keep in mind Moyes decided to clear out the backroom staff and bring his own in) Then the disastarous Moyes transfer window not helped by David Gill retiring (Why aren’t you blaming David Gill? Was it not his decision to appoint Woodward?)
It really is as simple as this. Ferguson decided during the season to retire at the age of 72 to spend more time with his wife after a death in the family? Pretty reasonable right? Why does the future planning still then reside with him – if united had structured correctly as an organisation the board should have made the decisions for the club, maybe then you wouldn’t have “he chose Moyes” as the sole reason for blaming him for the current state of Manchester United.
So to answer your question, why does Fergie get exempt from blame? Because he hasn’t been manager for over 6 years and has nothing to do with the current situation
Can someone enlighten me? Man Utd’s squad costs more than £100m more than Liverpool’s. Their wage bill is one of the highest, if not the highest, in the PL. Yet the fans have turned against the owners??? Is it because it’s easy for the fans to turn against the owners rather than actually the people who are really at fault? The owners have provided the funds but that has been invested poorly by those who are responsible for recruitment, and that includes the manager. Man Utd, even with their current squad, should not be losing games against the likes of Burnley, Bournemouth, Watford etc. That’s down to the manager. A manager who is inept and limited, and definitely not up to the standards expected of a club of Utd’s stature. But hey, keep blaming the owners. That seems to be the easy option at the moment.
Nizam Dorasat, LFC fan
…I have supported Man Utd for many years going back to (old) Division 2, Tommy Docherty & Dave Sexton days and will continue to do so should we stoop to those levels ever again! The problems at United are more than skin deep and have been since before Fergie retired and seem to me to coincide with the departure of Martin Edwards (1980-2002). The reasons I say this are many…….
- Any business (which football clubs are) are run from the top, the decisions made at the top influence everybody within that business – from the tea lady to the managers. Wrong decisions at the top influence the attitude of everybody within the workforce usually resulting in demoralisation.
- Infrastructure – in reference to the above, if the facilities are deteriorating and/or in a poor state of repair then again this has an influence on everyone that works for the business. Poor, run down facilities do not motivate anyone. Yet we hear that Old Trafford is now sub-standard and not up to the requirements to host world cup matches (media facilities not up to scratch, away dressing room too small)! Which does make me wonder what level Carrington etc is at nowadays. All this from what is still one of the top 3 clubs in the world by turnover!
- Recruitment – admittedly not easy in todays world where competition for the top players is now Europe wide at least. However, in Martin Edwards day a player was targeted and subsequently bought, more often than not before even being reported by the media. The players bought were bought for a certain position & role and used there. Now we have long drawn out negotiations often resulting in no purchase – Haaland/Fernandes, huge media involvement and players being bought (often overpaying) then subsequently played in the wrong/different position/role that they excel in (Martial).
- Development of players – I am sure this has been mentioned here before but I see players going to Man City/Liverpool and actually improving their standard of football and becoming better players than when they joined the club. I cannot name one player that Man Utd has managed to achieve this with outside of youth development. More often than not players end up leaving us mere shells of what they once were!
- Retention of players – the days of players not performing/not good enough or being motivated enough at Man Utd and instantly being despatched off to pastures new have gone (Poborsky/Henning Berg/Jesper Blomqvist/Di Maria etc). Again, keeping players at the club who do not want to be there can only have a detrimental effect on the rest of the squad (Pogba) or are not good enough (currently too many to list). Personally, Pogba should have been out the door last summer, yes, a good player (on occasion) but committed to Utd? Also, De Gea – love him but take the money and run not overpay on his contract – we are not that desperate for keepers – Romero/Henderson good enough options.
- Squad size – 2 players for every position (+ 1 youth), not going to go through every position here but briefly we currently have 1 forward & 1 youth striker (Rashford/Greenwood – Martial was a winger at Monaco) for 2 positions – Haaland/a forward was a MUST buy, Central midfield (not sure where to start here!) – Matic, Mata, Pogba, McTominay, Fred, Pereira, Lingaard(?) – comments on these please! Central defence………….errrr!!! etc etc
The majority of these points are not influenced by the manager but by those running the business/club, those at the top! I would class the squad that Fergie left as the weakest squad in his whole tenure at the club so whoever took over was not going to have an easy task which is/has only been exasperated by the lack of direction from (again!) the top.
To summise – any manager would have a very hard task to turn us around (Poch/Allegri included). The solution…….jeez where to start???
Anyway – congratulations to Liverpool, a long time coming. Although Carraghers comment that the nation is gripped made me LOL – 16pt lead is not gripping!
Glazers shooting themselves in the foot
What’s left to write about Man United that has not been written.
My first memories of United are Tommy Docherty’s swashbuckling, attacking wingers. It wasn’t just Fergie and Busby with an attacking philosophy. Was followed by Dave Sexton’s sleep inducing tactics. Van Gaal wasn’t the first.
Anyway how to fix it. I’ve done OK in management so here is my business hat approach, and what I’d expect to see if United were a “normal” business.
Firstly accept the fact the owners do not want to sell.
I genuinely despise United’s owners, but as your net spend article showed, they have thrown money at the problems in recent years, and it ended up down the drain. So, in a normal business out would go the CEO (bye bye Ed), and the head of recruitment, (no idea who this is, even after searching).
Re the last points, along with a new CEO, you would get a Director of Football, whose first task would be to appoint a decent, recruitment team.
Only then is it worth reviewing the manager’s position, either keeping Ole (sadly, unlikely) or appointing someone who will fit into the owners preference of allowing them to maximise their asset as a cash cow for their other investments (Julian Nagelsmen?), whilst trying to return to being a half decent club.
And finally, after all of the above maximise noodle partner sponsorship.
Surely even the Glazer’s must recognise their current strategy is destroying the value in their brand. A vomit inducing sentence to write as a football supporter, but the only thing they care about is cash, not trophies.
Right, back to the beach bar as it’s Chinese New Year, and I’m on holiday.
Sunk cost and Kepa
There is a corporate finance and accounting term of “sunk cost” which could, let’s face it, apply to a number of players currently working for large corporations – sorry – teams in the Premier League. A “sunk cost” is money which has already been spent, cannot be recovered, and should not factor into decisions going forward.
Let’s take a wild, random stab at an example and come up with Kepa Arrizabalaga. I’m not picking on him, just plucking a name out of the air.
For whatever reason, he is not what Chelsea hoped, expected nor paid an astronomically amount of money for. But the narrative that “he cost £71.6m, we can’t drop him” flies in the face of all reason. It doesn’t matter what he cost, that money is gone. The question is he performing to an acceptable standard? That’s a binary. Yes or No, and I’m assuming he’s getting all the help he can from Petr Cech and the coaching staff.
So come on Frank, rather than chasing a PSG striker who would doubtless prefer to play for Atletico, why not cast around for someone who can give Kepa a break from the pressure and allow him time to be coached? You’ve got Caballero who is a fine ‘keeper and absolutely deserves his chance with this side currently, and he’s available on a “free”, you just have to give him the start.
Steve, Los Angeles
One in a lifetime Reds
So, in the Premier League, this Liverpool team….
Have lost 1 of their last 62 matches
Are unbeaten in their last 40
Have won 31 of the last 32
Have won their last 14 straight
And in their last 6, they’ve just beaten the teams in 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th (twice) and 8th by an aggregate score of 12-1.
It’s unlikely that they’ll go unbeaten, or set a record points tally without anyone pushing them, but I’m 43 and this is the most stunning display of dominance I’ve seen from any team.
Barry (NY, NY)
No one is handing Liverpool the title
The longer Liverpool keep winning, the more we are hearing about the league being easy. Liverpool are running away with it because the competition has let them. But is that true? Well although there are a bunch of teams clustered between 14th and 5th, that’s not really relevant. What is relevant is how strong the title rivals are. So let’s take a look. Here’s the projected points if the top 4 continue their current pace (rounded to whole numbers):
Liverpool 111 (obviously not going to happen)
Man City 81
So how does that compare to previous years?
Looking at the last 10 seasons (including this one), here’s what you find.
111 points – would be the highest 1st place total by some distance.
81 points – would be the joint 4th highest points for 2nd place.
76 points – This would be the 4th highest points for 3rd place.
63 points – This would be the lowest 4th place total in the last 10 years.
Does that mean anything? Well, it means that there’s not much competition outside of the top 3 but the teams in 2nd and 3rd certainly are competitive. To compare it to Leicester’s league win is not really fair. 2nd place Arsenal finished on 71 points that season. There was a real lack of challenge. This season, both City and Leicester are on track to get a very normal number of points for that place in the table.
I think last season has clouded some people’s minds about the reality of a normal Premier League. Liverpool are not this far ahead because everyone else it’s poor, it’s because Man City have slipped from their ridiculously high standards to a more normal level, whereas Liverpool have gone from sublime to ridiculous. But, as is the way, I’m sure we’re to hear over the next few months about the “poorest Premier League ever.”
Mike, LFC, London
Do Liverpool need a strong United?
Completely disagree with Niall, Denver this morning
Liverpool do not need a strong Manchester United. I am enjoying every second of their struggles. I hope it gets even worse for them and lasts forever, and I think I speak for the majority of Liverpool fans in saying so
Matt L, Liverpool
…I’m afraid to say I totally disagree with Niall, Denver. I think it can get far worse for Man Utd compared to where they are right now.
The Glazers won’t move on. Since they bought the club it has doubled (or more) in value. They’re taking plenty of money out of it and as long as the TV rights money keeps coming in then I don’t see them being particularly fussed if things stay as they are or get slightly worse. As Liverpool have demonstrated themselves; their mass appeal doesn’t strictly get reduced by years in the wilderness and Man Utd’s ability to sell itself abroad might not be diminished by a lack of success on the pitch.
Woodward definitely won’t go. As commercial director he was responsible for making the Glazer’s asset worth over £1bn. Why would they cast him aside? Again, if the noodle and tractor sponsorships keep generating income then I don’t think the Glazer’s care.
The fans might choose to stay home but this also might not matter. There are so many tourists who want to visit Old Trafford that the stadium will still always achieve 70% occupancy and those that come won’t be the season ticket holders that come for the game and leave; it’ll be the types that buy an official pie and a coke during half time.
In short, there’s nobody at Man Utd who cares how they actually perform. No desire amongst management for any success other than the commercial kind. That lethargy seems to have already permeated into the playing staff so things could simply stagnate or they could plausibly get worse.
…In response to Niall, Denver’s assertion that Liverpool need a resurgent United to directly compete against them for the title to make it all the more sweet I couldn’t agree more. I have said before on here that of all United’s Premier League successes none were as sweet (or tense, or enthralling) as the 2008 / 09 season when Rafa’s Liverpool pushed United most of the way to the title. It was so much more meaningful to pip Liverpool to the title, way more satisfying than beating Aston Villa, Blackburn, Newcastle, Arsenal, Chelsea or city to the summit.
And it was not because it was getting one over on “themuns” it was because it really felt that it was the way it should be with United and Liverpool duking it out for supremacy.
On a side note, though, it would be refreshing to see a few more Liverpool fans just enjoying the majesty of what they are doing at the moment without always having to reference it back to how shite United are by comparison. It is like small man syndrome, just enjoy your success and you can take the piss out of United as well, but don’t always directly link the two. I doubt United are on Klopp’s radar at the moment at all so let it go and enjoy your cake walk to the title.
Mangor United, Belfast
Back of the net
F365, you’ve outdone yourself. Your article on Europe’s biggest net spends made me Laugh out Loud.
First of all, absolutely remarkable achievement by Klopp and Liverpool to have assembled a team of this elite quality and elite mindset on only the 29th highest net spend in all of Europe. As I wrote in before in a previous mailbox entry, Liverpool are the GOAT’s of the transfer market during the Klopp era. Just look at some of the names with higher net spend since 2015, it boggles the mind. Everton! Arsenal! And those two are in the top 10 of the list!
And now to come to the actual “Laugh out Loud” part. I’m scrolling the list and get to the top 3, and what do I see? Why, I see Manyoo sandwiched between the money bags teams of England and France, Man City and PSG…
That is Manyoo ladies and gentlemen, with the 2nd highest net spend in all of Europe over the last half a decade. LOL.
johnnyWicky, (At least AC Milan will be relieved that they didn’t turn out to be the biggest laughing stock from that list, being 4th themselves), Toronto
Having just read the Chelsea article I have to take issue with point 4.
Pulisic + Willian + Cho = Eden Hazard.
10 goals and 10 assists for the first three and the same for Eden.
So basically exactly the same output for three players who have played directly in Edens position … Replacement value is the same !
To make that comparison you should judge when the first three are all on the pitch together , not being a Chelsea fan I can’t answer that but when I have seen them play this year it’s been certainly no more than 2 of 3 of them(mainly due to injuries) and mostly 1 of the 3 on the pitch at any one time.
So Chelsea give or take are getting exactly the same production in terms of goals and assists as they were out of Hazard… nothing to see here then boss. Obviously Hazard did add more to the team from an overall perspective and clearly is the best player of the 4 but the comparison is lazy
DL , LFC ( Wolves without Europa would have finished 4th) Geneva
Spurs snog, marry, avoid
This has probably been done before, but to break some of the football intensity now that Liverpool have already won, Manchester Unity are showing none and the rest of the teams are either going nowhere or down, I thought I’d have a bit of fun.
So, who would you Snog, Marry, Avoid from your current first team (semi) regulars?
Snog, Paulo Gazzaniga, obviously. Have you seen those eyes?
Marry, Toby Alderweireld. What a protector he would be, and I think he would treat me nice.
Avoid, Danny Rose. In and and around anything that starts with T and ends in Rouble.
Enjoy your weekend, all.
Dr Oyvind, Earth.
St Andrew’s derby
What with the fairly uninspiring FA Cup fixtures happening this weekend, I was all geared up to write a furious missive on how the only games being televised feature Premier League teams (aside from the two games relegated to the Friday evening slot) and what a disgraceful kowtowing to the big teams that is.
I was also going to play up the games featuring non-PL teams, persuading people that no, really, Portsmouth – Barnsley might very well be a humdinger, and who doesn’t want to watch a clash of two grindingly average Championship teams when Reading take on Cardiff City?
Most of all, however, I was going to point out that the one game that might be worthy of attention (and certainly contains enough #narrative to be televised) is Coventry City vs. Birmingham City. As some / many of you will know, Coventry are currently tenants at St. Andrews while our grasping yet barely-visible owners try their best to destroy the club. The Sky Blues are currently making the best of a bad situation, sitting three points off the top of League One with a game in hand, and the FA Cup tie should be an unusual game in that both teams have decided that tickets should be split 50 / 50 between Cov. and Birmingham fans.
I was going to write all of this but then remembered that whenever we’re on TV we are always, without exception, utterly horrendous.
Enjoy your weekend!
David (just bitter about the THREE MONTH Czech winter break) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep.