Man Utd are broken and West Ham aren’t far behind…

Date published: Tuesday 28th January 2020 8:33

Harry Maguire Scott McTominay Manchester United West Ham

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com…

 

A lost, hopeless and broken club…
While I can no longer deny that Ole deserves most of the criticism coming his way, I think it should be clear to everyone now that the shitshow that is Manchester United goes far beyond him. For some strange reason, Woodward, the Glazers and the rest of the cluster f**k in charge of our club believe that making a below par bid for a player who we desperately need and then walking away from the deal because they won’t adjust their valuation (probably because they watched us spend 80 million on a Phil Jones clone) somehow shows both intent, and the strength to not be held to ransom. Which is, and I cannot stress this enough, stupidly ridiculous.

Firstly, getting a good player to actually want to come to the most dysfunctional “big” team in the world is a massive task. So why do we shoot ourselves in the foot, face and back every time we actually have a chance to sign someone? What is going on in Woodward’s mind that makes him think signing Maddison or Grealish is going to be any easier than signing Bruno Fernandes? Not only will they be way more expensive, because England, but it’ll also be a whole lot more difficult to convince them to come.

We are also more desperate than we’ve ever been for midfielders, so United’s decision to pussyfoot around the valuation of a player, while under the impression it’s a masterful negotiation tactic, is just so f**king tiring to watch.

I have no hope for this season, next season or the season after that. As long as Woodward and the Glazers are here, it really does not matter who takes the managerial role. We are a broken club with an over reliance on average players; and our best youth products outside of Greenwood seem to want to jump ship before we sink to the very bottom. It is going to be increasingly difficult for us to sign players, and it is going to be increasingly difficult for us to hold on to good players. What stops Rashford from leaving an upper mid-table team to go to a European giant other than blind loyalty which will eventually wane?

I laughed off the article claiming United are targeting 6 players. When you don’t know how to pull the trigger, it does not matter who you’re targeting. We are a broken club with too much money. I expect us to overpay for a bunch of average players over the next few years, I do not expect our net spend to decrease and I do not expect us to be any higher up in the table.

We are Manchester United; a lost, hopeless and broken club.
Gaaavie, Kaapstad

 

West Ham – the new Sunderland?
Unless the mailbox has been inundated with yet more Liverpool fans leaping to the defence of their poor beleaguered manager, I thought there might chance to talk about the other end of the footballing competency spectrum.

Today’s announcement that West Ham posted financial losses of £27.26m for the year to 31 May 2019 makes for worrying reading for a number of reasons.

Firstly, where has all the money gone? Seriously? Given that we’ve moved to the “next level” and paid next to nothing to do so, how can things be this bad? David Sullivan very helpfully points out that the board decided to “embark on an investment programme that would involve bringing in a world class manager, investing in better players and making significant investment in the club’s infrastructure” so how has it gone so spectacularly wrong?

Secondly, the majority of media coverage seems to be laying the blame at the door of Pellegrini and his team. Even poor Roberto got dragged into it. He can’t even save himself from that situation. That suggests that Sullivan, Gold and Brady are briefing all their media pals to absolve themselves of any blame. Why aren’t they being held to account? Regardless of their intentions and their stated love of the club they’ve failed. They are ruining the club and sending it in only one direction.

Finally, the financial statement contains this pearl of wisdom: “Retention of our status in 2019-20 season is an absolute necessity for the future wellbeing of the club.” Whilst clearly this wouldn’t have seemed like a possibility when it was written in October it almost feels inevitable now. And a team with zero confidence isn’t going to take an awful lot of positives from that one. No-one stopped at the time and thought, “do we need to write this bit?”. And that lack of foresight, of forward thinking, is absolutely in keeping with everything that’s rotten with the club.

If, as seems likely at the time of writing, we are relegated I’m not sure it will be the fun filled Championship adventure and bounce-back we enjoyed last time. Whilst I’d welcome that positivity in the club again, I think it’s more likely that we’d do a Sunderland and go into free fall unless something fundamental changes.

Fingers crossed for a takeover from some Icelandic businessmen.
Andy (I forgot what point I was trying to make as I depressed myself writing this) Crisp, Cardiff

 

West Ham released their accounts today. Without going into too much detail, here’s a quick snapshot of how our club is run…

– Loss of almost £30 million
– Debt has risen from £34.6m to £65.8m (90% rise)
– Operating profit fell from £34.7m to £20.7m
– Wage Bill has risen 27%

The important part:
– Sullivan and Gold took interest payments of £3m for the year (bringing total interest payments to over £20m out of the club)
– Karen Brady, bearing in mind she’s the CEO who has responsibility for all of the above, got a pay rise of 27%, £898k to £1.14 per annum
– Our match day income has gone up less than £200k for the season. Glad we sold our soul and moved stadium for that..
– We currently employ 1 full time scout. 1.

If we go down, we are in huge trouble. But if that’s the price to pay to get Sullivan, Gold and Brady out of our club, bring it on.
Fionn

 

Games played
A quick one comparing number of games. It’s rather simplistic to say that Shrewsbury have played 36 times and Liverpool 38. Liverpool’s previous season ended on 1st June. I didn’t google it, but I’m fairly sure Shrewsbury would have finished in early May. A significant number of Liverpool’s players played in the Coppa America or the ACON. Again, I didn’t google it to check, but I’m assume this is not the same for  Shrewsbury.

Add to that internationals. Liverpool players have probably played an extra, what? 6 games? 8 games? So the total number of games is more likely in the mid-forties. To say that the players have played the same number of games at the same intensity is simply not true.

That’s not to say that Klopp is correct. I can certainly see arguments for and against. But what I would say is this. Every manager, even lower league managers are complaining about fixture congestion and replays. All Klopp is doing is taking that complaint and turning it into action. I can’t say I 100% agree with him, but I admire his grapefruits for making a stand.
Mike, LFC, London

 

Eh?
I think Joe, with his witty brackets, completely missed the point that everyone was trying to make in respect to Liverpool not bothering to attend their replay with Shrewsbury. I don’t think anyone is too worried if Liverpool send out a second string, it’s the fact that Klopp himself is refusing to be in the dugout that is annoying people. Many teams, for a variety of reasons, send out weakened teams in various competitions but they always have their manager present.

Unless Klopp has injured himself by ‘playing too many games’? (see what I did there?).

Cheers,
Paul, Man Utd

 

Shrewsbury should be over the moon
For all the (in my opinion) bollocks outrage directed at Klopp for his decision to let the actual reserves take to the field and be managed by their actual manager, one thing not one person has spoken about is Shrewsbury.

Given the fawning over Shrewsbury on Sunday (joking at half time about how great it is that VAR wasn’t able to give a blatent handball in the box and then overturn a tackle outside the box that was given as a penalty), and that Shrewsbury *were* the better team on Sunday…

They now know they will play a very weak team at Anfield and have a chance to win. At Anfield.

They will then play Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Given that everyone wants to see Liverpool lose this match and for the underdog to have their day, why are they getting so upset? The chances of doing so and rewards are clear as day.

Surely it’s a good thing? If I was a player, yeah it’d be fun to be tonked by best team in the land, but I’d still rather want a decent chance of winning and progressing.

Disrespecting the cup? Balls to that. If I was in the Shrewsbury camp, I’d be over the frikking moon.

Good luck Shrewsbury.
Rob, Brighton

 

I feel this has been alluded to but the 39 shrewsbury games versus 41 liverpool games excludes around 8+ intl games the liverpool players are involved in each. Either way whilst the youth team can play I believe Klopp should attend the replay and is in the wrong (despite my love of him). Not the main reason but he was responsible with the decision to play a weakened team so has to finish the job like many bosses finish a deadline project before they head on holiday.
David (can’t believe I said something against klopp) Morris

 

In response to Weldoninhio, Dublin

Apples and pears.   Shrewsbury may have only played 2 less games than Liverpool (36 to 38), but that doesn’t really tell the full story.   From a very quick search, it seems that the furthest they’ve travelled is  Newcastle. Liverpool have played in Italy, Belgium, Austria and Qatar in this time.   Also need to remember that many of their (starting) players are full Internationals, representing their counties around the World.  Henderson for example has played 4 games for England and others may not have played for their country, but were called up and travelled.

Looking a Shrewsbury, I can find only 2 players who have played in 30 games.  with everyone else having played 28 or less.  Liverpool have 9 players, having played at least 28, with many of these 9 having played 30+  (this excludes any added Intl appearances).     Liverpool have a minimum of 18 remaining fixtures (inc. a trip to Spain) and Shrewsbury 19 (inc. a trip to Southend!).  Again excluding Internationals (3/4 games) that many Liverpool players will be involved in.

Just looking at ‘games played’ doesn’t give you the full picture of what players (and teams) go through and how their situations are so vastly different, that it renders the use of ‘games played’ as a way to measure work load,  as being utterly meaningless.
Neil (here, there and everywhere and not a Liverpool fan)

 

 

Klopp narratives
Let’s put a couple of these Jurgen Klopp narratives to bed.

Narrative 1: he’s depriving Shrewsbury of gate receipts. LFC operate a cup scheme that you sign up to in July. I get the same seat for all cup matches even though I’m only a member and the club deduct the price from my debit card once a home draw is confirmed round by round. Each season it’s oversubscribed even though you don’t know who we’ll draw or if we’ll get a home match. Even should nobody turn up, the Shrewsbury match is mostly fully sold already. So no loss of receipts for the visitors.

Narrative 2: if another manager did this he’d be hung out to dry… Well, excluding illness (which is understandable) Sir Alex Ferguson went to his brothers wedding rather than one match – the Manchester derby – after what was originally scheduled as a free weekend suddenly had a fixture inserted in it (sound familiar?) and 10 years later he didn’t bother with a league cup game as he flew to Spain to scout De Gea instead. As this was pre the outraged era of mass social media I don’t recall it causing an issue.

Narrative 3: Shrewsbury have played only 2 fewer games. This is true only of the club and not the players in the first team. However it’s not just about club matches. Because of international football, Sadio Mane has had no break for 18 months. Since the start of the domestic season, Brazil (and therefore the Premier leagues Brazilian players) have played a further 6 times plus a summer tournament with 3 more international breaks to come before Copa America qualifying starts again in June. I’m happy to be corrected on the numbers, but Shrewsbury have 3 players called up for international matches; LFC and most Premier league sides have the majority of their squad called up.

So he’s not costing anyone money, it has been done before by one of the greatest managers we’ve seen and it turns out Premier league players really do play more matches with less time off than Accrington Stanley or other members of the EFL. If you schedule in a first team break, it should remain a break. Just as the players need to recover physically, I’m sure the first team staff will also appreciate a mental break from such an intense job – who knows, maybe they have weddings to go to also.
Lee ()

 

‘Shameful, arrogant, self indulgent behavior by Klopp.’

Here’s another quote (I think Steve Jobs said it):

‘If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader – sell ice cream.’

Would you prefer your leader to have a pair of cajones or go around trying to please everyone?    Klopp is driving this bus, and a whole lot of us are on it. If he chooses to miss a stop then I really couldn’t care two missed sitters.

To clarify: Klopp is not an ice cream seller in a tiny van with an annoying siren.
Barry, Cape Town 

 

No sympathy
“Sadio Mane couldn’t even celebrate his African Player of the Year gong because he had to return for the run of games.”

That is by far the funniest thing I’ve read in the inbox for a good while. The poor guy not getting a couple of weeks off for being the best player from a particular continent. How on Earth did Messi manage a hat trick for Barcelona just FIVE days after being named the worlds best player? Surely he should’ve been given the day off to bask in the glory of being head and shoulders above every other player that plays today (not literally)?

Talk about first world problems. And that’s probably the reason why sympathy for Liverpool is limited outside of the partisan Liverpool support – they are the first world of football. There is far too much of a disparity in money between the Premier League and the EFL which means that the Liverpool players are far better conditioned and looked after and play in better conditions than those at Shrewsbury. This starts to negate the effect of the Liverpool players being International players and travelling for those games and of course the Champions league games.

We should want Liverpool to do well in Europe yes, and we also want our our English players to be fresh for the summer. I have full sympathy for Klopp managing the freshness of his team and have no problem with him putting the kids out. I don’t have any sympathy for anyone having to rearrange a holiday (as has been suggested in the mailbox) in a holiday where replays were always scheduled. We need to be careful about protecting the domestic game, of which the FA Cup is the cornerstone.

We’ve already messed with the FA Cup, reducing replays, having semi final replays at Wembley instead of sensibly located neutral grounds and now holding matches (i.e not replays) midweek instead of at the weekend. United didn’t set the best example, completely missing it in 2000 (and being rubbish at the Club World Cup) and Premier League sides and now Championship teams are increasingly playing weakened sides to focus on winning/getting promoted from/avoiding relegation/existing in their respective leagues. So playing a weakened side isn’t unusual but it is problematic. The European Champions not turning up for a home replay (and advertising the fact) will probably have an adverse impact on attendance for the game and therefore gate receipts meaning less money for Shrewsbury. There is probably a better chance of Shrewsbury winning and going through to play at Stamford Bridge though.

I think the biggest shame is Klopp saying in advance that he won’t be there. I don’t think he has an excuse to miss the game, he was in charge of the team that failed to beat Shrewsbury in the first place so the replay is his doing. He doesn’t need a mid season break. He had good reason for missing the League Cup game but he has nowhere better to be when Shrewsbury come to Liverpool. I think he needs to have a bit of respect for the tournament (the League Cup warrants zero respect) and the FA on this occasion. Fergie did miss the odd game it’s true but he missed three (well that’s what I read earlier, I’m sure it should be more) out of more than a thousand United games. If Klopp doesn’t turn up against Shrewsbury he will have missed two out of twelve. I’m not sure that’s right.

So yeh, if I was the FA I would be looking to sanction Klopp for his non-attendance (not sure there’s any rule to form the basis of a fine or ban though). But I’d also want to be tougher on the Premier League looking after their own. One way of doing that would be to give the FA Cup winner the fourth Champions League spot. We need to do something to improve the way the Cup is approached by the top two leagues, especially with the expanded Club World Cup on the horizon.

One final suggestion – teams that have European involvement cannot field players registered for Europe/International players in the League Cup. If there’s a pointless trophy, that’s the one.
Ash Metcalfe

 

Mr Klopp, the spoilt brat
Dear Editor,

So, due to the fact that poor old Liverpool have played 627 games in less than three weeks, Mr Klopp has decided that none of the first team will play in the FA Cup replay, almost certainly denying Shrewsbury Town much needed revenue. Yet, whilst Liverpool FC as a club have indeed played a lot of games this season, the stats don’t really support his concern for player fatigue.

These stats are from the Sky Sports website. Van Dijk has played 32 games so far and probably needs a rest. But using him as a benchmark, lets have a look at the players who have played less than 20 games so far

GK

Adrian

Defenders

Lovren

Gomez

Matip

Fabinho

Midfielders

Milner

Keita

Shaqiri

Lallana

Oxlade Chamberlain

Strikers

Minamino

Origi

Okay, it’s a slightly disjointed 4-4-2 but I reckon they could play as a solid 3-5-2. Note also I haven’t mentioned Hoever, van der Berg, Jones or Elliott, all listed as first team players on the Liverpool website. I can’t help thinking most of these boys would love a run out at Anfield?? As mentioned, all of these players are yet to play 20 games this season. Clubs like Liverpool have a squad for EXACTLY this situation. Naturally, some are injured, but you throw one or two youngsters into the squad to balance that out??

Therefore, Mr Klopp, stop whining like it’s not fair, stand up to your responsibilities as a successful Premier League club and show some respect to a lower league team who frankly would DREAM of having your problems. This was in the rules when you signed up for the winter break deal. If you didn’t like it, you should have let Shrewsbury score a goal in the 89th minute and we wouldn’t have any of this. You knew what a draw meant.  Deal with it.

It’s the disgraceful behaviour of a child that can’t get his own way. Simples

Rgds
Tim (cant type any more as this is my sixth email today and I’m a bit tired) Benson, Bedfordshire

 

 

God save our gracious FA Cup??
All I’ve been reading since Sunday is how Klopp has either DESTROYED the FA Cup, or fans saying it’s fair enough. Personally how I looked at it was thus – what would I say if, for example, OGS came out and said he’s not attending their next FA Cup game. Would I really give a sh*t? Actually, no. I can’t see any physical impact him not being there will have on the game, or the Magic Of The FA Cup ™. Others have gone into detail on the pros and cons of this, but effectively what I’m getting at is the whole narrative of “saving” the FA Cup. Everyone has said Klopp has disrespected the cup, the tradition, war veterans, the Pope, but seriously why are people only now saying the FA Cup needs to be “saved” since Klopp decided he isn’t going to the game. Good ol’ Merse even has a go in a recent chat about how the FA Cup needs saving, and his bold plans to “save” the FA Cup. Save it from what?

The way I see it, the format hasn’t *really* changed much. You could argue that more teams are playing backup squads etc. but seriously, why not? Each club, manager, player, even fan has priorities. Why is the FA Cup the only cup you’re not allowed to disrespect? There is still money in there. Lower league teams (in this case Shrewsbury) have the chance for more money given the replay at Anfield, which they’ve admitted will help them out big time. TV money is there. All teams have a chance. Hell, with the big teams playing their “weaker” squads surely that permits even more chance of a lower league progressing?

If someone could explain what we’re meant to be saving the FA Cup from, I’d be grateful. And don’t just say tradition because… well that’s boring.

Ta,
Steve, Liverpool > Wales

 

Making cup competitions optional
I think the suggestion about making cup competitions optional can be improved by expanding the idea to league fixtures too!
Here is how it would work.

Before each round of fixtures, each club decide if they want to play the match or not. If both teams agree not to play, then it gets scored as 0-0 draw and both teams get a point.

As long as at least one side wants the match to go ahead then it will take place.

This is actually quite a fair system in my eyes. Since it requires agreement to cancel the fixture, you are guaranteed to play in every match that you choose to play in. Obviously a match might go ahead that you wanted to avoid, but since the idea of a football club is to, you know, play football, you can’t really complain too much!

It would be interesting to see how teams used this tactically. Would smaller teams always choose to avoid away matches against Liverpool, Man City etc.? And would the top teams ever be willing to settle for a draw in advance, or would they always back themselves to get a win? Maybe a smaller team gets lucky and gets given a draw at Anfield because Liverpool have a tough CL match midweek and decide they would rather rest. Imagine the last-day drama if one team decided to take a point rather than risk losing, but then needed other results to go their way to ensure they survive.

Also, it raises the possibility of a team going an entire season without playing a single match, collecting 38 points, avoiding relegation and therefore getting the chance to do it all again (or not) next season!
Michael

 

Ted from Manchester made an interesting point about making cup competitions optional, however I foresee one big problem, advertisers and fans too would eventually get bored of seeing the likes of League 1 and 2 teams for example in the Quarter Finals and beyond, as they know that a cup final and semi final draws higher viewing figures on TV for a clash between Manchester City and Liverpool, or any of the big 6, than the likes of a Semi Final between two sides in League One.

I love the FA Cup and this debate gets recycled every single season, we will soon stop talking about how to save the cup, until of course next January when we start it all over again.
Mikey, CFC 

 

Net spend thoughts…
My own opinion is that wherever the money comes from, the cost of a squad is the amount it cost to purchase the players in the squad – that’s it.

Net spend is just a book keeping term and in football given the massively inflated value of players it’s pretty incidental and arbitrary these days. One big deal can skew net spend figure massively one way or the other.

When Utd bought Pogba or PSG bought Neymar, were Juve and Barca suddenly doing things differently because of the decreased net spend on their squads?

If I sell my car for 3 grand, then put that 3 grand towards a £10k car – did the new car only cost £7k or did I spend £10k on a car?

To take Pierce’s totally real example that actually happened, if I inherit a Maserati and my neighbour cherry picks new parts for his existing car, I haven’t actually spent anything on my new car, so I’m operating on a net spend of £0 aren’t I versus his or her higher net spend?

Fact is Klopp has spent a significant amount, really well and has assembled a great team. But it’s a team that includes the most expensive defender in history and at the time the most expensive keeper in history ( if even for a short while ).

You don’t get to break transfer records on one hand and expect plaudits for being thrifty on the other.

Klopp spent a lot of money. Klopp spent that money really well. This is a good thing.
Doug, AC, Belfast

 

Arsenal played last night…
Wow, no mails about Arsenal this morning. I guess us Arsenal fans are only interested when things are going wrong! I did have a couple of observations if anyone cares though.
First, I’m liking Arteta. The club and the squad are nowhere near where they want to be but at least he is showing signs that we might get there one day. There is a plan, a playing style and the ability to motivate players. All things that were missing under Emery. When Emery started we had that massive (by recent Arsenal standards) unbeaten run but you always had the worry that it wasn’t based on anything and just came from our handful of good players doing something special despite the manager, not because of him. With Arteta we don’t have the results yet, but you can see an improvement in how we are playing, which for me is more important. You wonder where we would be if we had hired Arteta in the first place as we should have done.

Secondly, I’m not a massive fan of Guendouzi usually because I think he takes too many unnecessary risks when he is the last man, but I do love his shithousery. It’s been a while since we had someone like that  on the team. Last night was a great example of it. After an incident when Gosling stamped on his hands while he was picking the ball up (why was he not sent off or a VAR review used?) he clearly realised the ref was not going to do anything about Gosling trying to injure him and took matters into his own hands. A few minutes later Gosling was taken out with an “accidental” elbow. Absolutely what he deserved. Then within a minute of that he also nutmegged Gosling just to humiliate him in a different way. Beautiful. Now if only someone could teach him to not give the ball away in dangerous situations we could have a player on our hands.

So there we go. Some Arsenal positivity. I feel weird.
Adonis (Obviously we will now be awful in our next game) Stevenson, AFC

 

League Cup idea…
Afternoon all,

Went to the Saints/Spurs game at the weekend and was having a chat with a friend over the amount of football that gets played (before Klopp and Shrewsbury kicked off) and we came up with the idea of the League Cup being competed for only by teams not entered into European competition that season. That way:

Clubs in Europe don’t have the additional games that the LC provides, considering that the ‘big 6’ are regularly getting through to the latter stages and competing in the final.

The League Cup then gets a different winner each year, allowing other clubs the chance to partake in European competition.

I guess there would be a conversation if a team made it into Europe but then failed to get through the qualifiers and then couldn’t take part in the LC, but this seems like a fair way to reduce the workload on players. Thoughts?

For what it’s worth, I know United were ‘allowed’ to opt-out due for commercial reasons in 2000, but that sets a precedent. I think Klopp is totally justified in his actions.
Stu, Southampton.

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