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Ole the PE teacher…
Whisper it quietly, but for a PE Teacher, Ole is doing a bit OK!
Progress is being made and tactics are in evidence along with very useful squad rotation.
3-5-2 this weekend at Anfield?
Gary B (Patience and progress….the virus of Jose is eradicated)
– It seems like United will be in with a shout of being top of the league at the halfway point of a season. To my eye, that would make them one the worst team to ever be in that situation, and I’m a United fan. – We lack any real rhythm, control or pattern of play. We have some genuinely excellent players that for a few minutes each match make the difference. And that’s it. For the first 30 minutes tonight, Burnley were very much equal in playing football.
– Martial and Rashford can be truly excellent. They can also be truly awful. When they’re both the latter, it’s tough to do anything.
– Burnley are kind of funny, embodied by Barnes. When they’re going for the ball, they’ll run full-Brexit straight into you, if you’re up for a header, they’ll have a sly little nudge, if you’re shielding the ball, a tidy little kick to the back of the Achilles. Proper ‘ard. But have the temerity to touch them? The amount of yelling, screaming and falling to ground was an embarrassment. It’s one thing when a slick-passing European does it, but I thought Dyche’s teams were real men?
– If Kevin Friend can spend, literally, five and a half minutes on one VAR decision that he got wrong, surely he could have spent 5 seconds reviewing the savage Maguire foul? No? Alright then.
– Also, as oppo fans all remember the exact moment United were incorrectly awarded a penalty against Villa that one time, will they all recall this bizarre decision in future mails? No? Alright then.
– Pogba was the best player on the pitch by a country mile, which will probably also be true in Paris/Madrid next year. Now that he’s healthy again, he’s reminding United of what we’ll miss.
– Love your partner the way De Gea loves his goalline. Cherish it, and never venture too far.
Firstly kudos to Burnley. United were made to work for the points. They are some tough MFs.
That first half was a slog. The long balls Burnley played into the box were giving me kittens. Credit where it’s due, the United defence stood firm. The Burnley efforts on goal were “half chance’s” (I love that phrase) I thought United were a bit sluggish with possession, it was all a bit too slow for my liking.
I felt the ref along with VAR made the correct decision with the Shaw tackle. He clearly got a toe on the ball but when I saw his studs catch him on the follow through I was thinking I’ve seen a red given for something similar. With the Maguire incident, it may be I’ve got my red tinted specs on but I thought the goal should’ve stood. He barely touched him. I suppose with VAR to quote Paul Merson it’s like a bag of Revels. You’re not sure what you’re gonna get.
The second half was much better from a United perspective. We moved the ball a lot quicker and looked like the side most likely to score.
Big up to Paul Pogba. He fully deserved man of the match. The goal may have been lucky with the deflection but you make your own luck.
I don’t think United will win the league but history shows us the team that wins the league grind out a few 1-0’s around January/February and that felt like one of them during the Fergie years.
I’m gutted about Martial coming off injured. I’m praying he can make Sunday as I feel he would rip Trent a new one.
Roll on super duper Sunday. A real clash of the Titans.
Bad ass Bailly
For all the fuss about who should play further forward for United, there is compelling evidence that Eric Bailly, when fit, should play at the back. He has an athleticism that allows him to cover for the lack of pace elsewhere, whilst covering Maguire, also helps out Wan Bissaka who is going through some patchy form and uses the ball quite well – clears when he has to and can pass a bit as well. Granted he is as brittle as glass but an absolute must when fit. He makes the others look better!
Vulie, New York (United fan since they toured Eswatini (then Swaziland) in 1983)
Another win, which obviously means another chance to have a moan about the many issues which afflict this once great football club. Strap in, for this will be a long rant mail.
Anthony Martial is hopelessly shit at football.
Olubunmi Omoloso (Blimey, we’re one-nilling and two-oneing our way to the title!) Lagos.
At time of writing, it’s half time in the Burnley Man Utd game.
Shaw should’ve seen red and Brady a yellow.
Strictly speaking, VAR’s looking at a potential red card for Shaw, not a potential red or yellow, so it can only be a red or nothing. When they sent the ref to look at the screen, he took it as an opportunity to give a yellow. This shouldn’t have happened as VAR is not supposed to look for just fouls when a goal hasn’t been scored. Had a goal been scored, they can as it’s then avoiding a clear and obvious error – a goal that shouldn’t have stood.
The way the situation was handled, it effectively gave Robbie Brady a free hit on Cavani without any comeback.
IMO, Shaw should’ve been sent off and Brady should’ve had yellow.
No doubt there’ll be a lot of noise about VAR as though it’s a sentient AI making the decisions, not humans. But I am interested in seeing what other readers think of the Luke Shaw decision? I think it’s pretty clear he’s entitled to go for that 50:50 and he definitely both gets the ball and gets there first. He also definitely does catch Gudmundsson on the follow through and it does look nasty, potentially even dangerous.
I’m not convinced it was a foul personally – otherwise where does that leave us with 50:50s? Should Shaw have backed out? Or should Gudmundsson considering he was the one to arrive at the ball later? I feel both players would have received a bollocking if they had pulled out of the challenge and this was a typically physical game from Burnley. So do we just accept that football is a physical game, some players will get injured and not necessarily through malice or foul play?
Daniel (the decision to rule out Maguire’s goal was a disgrace though) Cambridge
The Arteta axe
As I fully expect to see a Man Utd dominated Mailbox with 427 contributions of “Man Utd are going to win the league” as well as a further 427 contributions of “Ole Out”, I thought I would provide an alternative theme. As we’re currently in a transfer window, I thought I would analyse the incredible number of Arsenal players I’m expecting gone before the start of next season.
For the purpose of clarity, these are my estimations of Arteta’s thoughts and not necessarily what I would do, much the same as the famous 365 England ladder. So, first of all: Players out of contract this summer:
Some will be gone this month and the rest in the summer, right? I think the club want to bring in a first choice RCB to partner Gabriel this summer. Holding and Mari will be the back ups, and Saliba will be the fifth choice when he returns from Nice. There is the tiniest possibility that David Luiz may get a one year extension should we not be able to bring in a partner for Gabriel, but beyond that, these five players won’t start next season with Arsenal.
Players out of contract next summer:
With one year left on the contracts of these players, I think Arsenal will be willing to listen to offers for any of these players during this summer window. I don’t expect all to go, but I think it is reasonable to expect three or four players from this group to depart in the summer. Guendouzi and Kolasinac being the two most likely.
In addition to the eleven players listed above, I feel Arteta has a lack of trust/faith in the following players and would be willing to sell if an appropriate bid is made:
I think one, possibly two, maybe even three of these players will not be in the squad for the start of next season. By my calculations, 8 to 12 of the listed 15 players will not be in the squad for the start of next season. If that transpires to be the case, then it is an absolutely monumental clear out. Arsenal will then have the following “Arteta players” to build the squad around. I believe the following 17 players are practically certain to start next season with Arsenal:
Ainsley Maitland Niles
Emile Smith Rowe
Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
I believe we’re about to see some major surgery performed on this Arsenal squad, and the success of that surgery will define the Arteta/Edu project.
Dem Blades and the Mags
Well, that was a lot better and more like the Blades we were used to last season. They still lacked that cutting edge but the build up play was sharp and incisive and they looked as though they really wanted it right up until they scored. After that, they reverted back to the panicked, no confidence scramble that they have presented for most of the season. Hopefully, this win should calm them down, boost confidence and help them kick on to a bit of Blade-like consistency in the style of last year, although the upcoming fixtures look pretty horrendous.
But what about Newcastle? They were awful for 73 minutes until they went behind, but came alive after that. I appreciate that the Blades fell back and allowed them to play, but they clearly have a better team of individuals and they could easily have come away with a point. Who goes to the bottom club, who haven’t won a game since July with the aim of grabbing a 0-0 draw or maybe snatching a win on the break? If Newcastle had started as they ended, I’m pretty sure the Blades fragility would have come to the fore and the Mags would have had an easy win.
I’ve said before that Crissy Wilder deserves all our support because he never stops trying, but I can understand the frustration of the Geordies with Steve Bruce who didn’t start trying until they were a goal down. The lack of ambition is astonishing. On balance, I’ll take the Blades every day which in itself, is a sad indictment of Newcastle United.
Bladey Mick (football – whew!)
Bring the bantz!
Well, what a cup draw that was! Manchester United v Liverpool in consecutive weekends and I am already stoked for this double-header. This is our Real Madrid v Barcelona, our Rangers v Celtic, our River v Boca. The Premier League Classico. What an opportunity for the victors over these two games to inflict a bit of psychological damage on the other side going into the second half of the season!
If United can win both encounters, it could really give them enhanced belief to go all the way in both competitions. If Liverpool win both, expect United heads to drop. If they each win one apiece, or one or both encounters end in cagey draws, the intrigue continues unabated. If covid eventually renders the whole season null and void, it’ll all have been for nowt!
But if the games themselves prove to be anti-climactic non-events, reading the fallout between the rival fanbases on these pages should prove to be more entertaining, especially if United receive a penalty, however clear-cut, in either game. Prepare for the website to crash over the next two Sundays. It might literally break the internet.
Whatever happens on the pitch, you just know that off it, wacky claims from one group of fans will lead to ever-wackier counter-claims from the other and I can’t wait! I am stocking up on popcorn already. Whatever gets you through these lockdown times, right?
Bring on the banter!
Lee, locked down for too long
Enjoyed the fact that Crouch apologised for drawing Liverpool away to Man Utd in the FA Cup, but really it’s only a continuation of Liverpool’s lack of good fortune when the balls come out (assuming you’re looking for an easy draw that is). In the last four years, they’ve been in eight FA Cup draws (3rd/4th/5th round) and managed to draw a Premier League team seven times out of eight. That includes four out of four in the 3rd round, when the chances of getting a Premier League team are less than one in three each time. Liverpool got lucky with the Villa Covid situation, but it doesn’t change the fact that they drew a top half PL team for the fifth time in the last six draws. Obviously not claiming some sort of conspiracy, just noting that these random draws have not been friendly to Klopp, compounding the fact that he has (probably wisely as it turns out) taken the FA Cup less seriously than the league/Champions League. Maybe it being United will force him to change this season. By the way, I think it’s pretty well known, but it’s worth (not at all bitterly) noting that Man City’s numbers are equally unlikely, just the other way – eleven 3rd/4th/5th round draws in the last four years, they have drawn a PL team a grand total of twice – and both times it was Burnley at home FFS. But at least they lost one of the other nine games to Wigan.
Looks like Fiyako Tomori is off to AC Milan on loan. You know AC Milan – that team who have been top of Serie A since it kicked off, who were unbeaten until just a few days ago, who have playing some of the best football in Europe, who have played with incredible consistency without Zlatan during his long injury layoff, who have conceded the least goals in the division apart from Napoli, Juve, and Verona, who have, rather crucially, a manager who is coaching the group of players at his disposal to their absolute maximum, bringing the best out of a squad that cost a fraction of Chelsea’s, utilising the talent in front of him in the best possible way, and imbuing his side with a strong sense of identity, style, and organisational discipline.
Maybe by the time Chelsea get a manager as good as Pioli, Tomori will have been coached and developed and improved more than most of his teammates back in London. Actually on that note, can Pioli take CHO on loan too?
Great mail from Adrian in Dublin, I watched the Crawley v Leeds match and when they brought Mark Wright on I almost hoped Leeds scored 4 in five minutes. If it’s a money spinner for Crawley then it would be churlish of me to knock it, clubs at that level need every penny as we all know. If it’s just a publicity stunt though it leaves a bit of a funny taste in the mouth…
A mate of mine, I won’t name him but lower league fans may work it out, has had this career path – Everton, Widnes, Skelmersdale United, Portsmouth, Tranmere (loan), Tranmere, Wrexham (loan), Blackpool Wrexham (loan), Macclesfied Town, AFC Fylde. He is still 26 and barring a couple of bad injuries would and should be at a higher level. However, he is flying in the National League North and, friendly bias aside, is clearly 10 times the player Mark Wright is.
How is it fair that a vague celebrity gets all the exposure and plays in a high profile match when a hard working pro like (unnamed) is playing away at Telford on the same weekend? (Unnamed) even went and got a job teaching kids football at Chesterfield High when he was released a few years ago, didnt go on celebrity bellend island or I’m a gobshite get me out of here. As Adrian rightly says, Mark Wright may be a lovely bloke and he has fulfilled the dream of most of us. I just think it’s very, very unfair that he has got this leg up by virtue of having a wife who used to be in Coronation Street.
Maybe every team in the FA Cup should field one player who has been released or injured or had some other misfortune? Players like (unnamed) may surprise us all, dont forget where the likes of Jamie Vardy came from.
Mark Jones, LFC, Liverpool
Ps – Chesterfield High is down the road from Marine’s ground in Crosby, not in Chesterfield!
Perspective is weird thing
Home schooling hasn’t left me much time to read your excellent site, but today I had a chance to finally read your 16 conclusion on the fa cup 3rd round.
Point 11 or 12 stated that spurs had a terrible record in the facup particularly in the semi final, which conflict with my internal view of spurs as the fa cup kings. I then realised that my perspective was set in the mid 90’s after spurs won 3 out 4 finals in 10 years
My consciousness has not registered the 4 fa cup semi final defeat in the last decade although I remember watching each game, or that we are now joint 3rd in the fa cup winners list. If you asked me beforehand I would have said we had lost 1 or 2 recent semi finals and were 2nd in the list.
I realised this logic applies to other teams
Man Utd will win the league
Liverpool will flatter to deceive
Chelsea are a yo yo club who will always beat us
Arsenal will always finish above us
Newcastle score line will be 4-3
It the same rationale that leads marketing executives to using the music the target market listened to in their teens.
Which leads me to tonight’s game and the impact of Covid.
Being a football fan, but having sadly lost a relative to COVID last summer I can see both sides.
The decision to keep football going is a balancing act between mental and physical health. At the moment I believe the benefits out way the negative, but that is not a given.
Therefore it upsets me whenever anyone, especially Tottenham players flouts the national guidelines, physically or in spirit. As these are the best available standards we have to hand I think that anyone who is seen to break the rules should be treated as if they endanger someone on the pitch and be banned for 3 games. Then there is a chance the public will also comply. Don’t even get me started on teams going on abroad training trips.
Which brings me to Wednesday game. Once you decide to keep football going you have to do everything sensible to achieve that, until told to stop. I’ve seen elsewhere about cancelling the cup, but I think that decision should have been made at the start of the season. I do see an argument for this season fa cup to run through next season, effectively cancelling next season’s.
On paper the situation for tonights game does give spurs an advantage and is harsh on Fulham this week, but I see spurs will hit problems later in the season as I can see them going deep into several cup competition especially after a potentially favourable fa cup 4th round draw. It will be hard to fit in 2 rearranged games let along 3.
In a way this scenario could work in Fulham favour creating a them against us scenario with nothing to lose and I can see Fulham getting something.
Paulo (at least spurs still play attacking football)