Man Utd need Ferguson, and why referees are expendable like doctors and nurses…

Editor F365
Brighton striker Evan Ferguson prepares to defend a corner.

The Mailbox urges Manchester United to move for the new Norman Whiteside this summer. Also: plenty on refs; England’s uncapped strugglers; Arsenal; and rating Saka, Rooney, Henry.

Get your views in to

Fergie for United
I am massively biased for Ireland and Manchester United, but it occurs to me that what United need (one of the things anyway) is Evan Ferguson. He’d be relatively cheap and he kinda reminds me of Norman Whiteside, but more durable I hope.

Just a thought.
Liam Utd and Ireland.


All in for Europa
I just wanted to respond to Jon, Cape Town… while everyone is entitled to their view, I would have to disagree with his assertion that the Europa is not a big opportunity for United.

Firstly, match days at Old Trafford for this competition have been excellent, with a particular highlight being the Barcelona game. I’d also make arguments around momentum, building a winning culture, and the fact that we are probably the strongest team left in it – by no means a certainty that we will win it, but we do stand a good chance.

However, my main gripe would be what is the point in football if we aren’t trying to win the trophies available to us? Sure, it ranks below the Champions League or League title, but it is still a noteworthy competition with some stand out teams having won it. Also, what is the point of just trying to qualify for the Champions League? Will you see extra money in your wallet? Or will a bunch of people who wouldn’t even slow their car if they saw you crossing the road add a few zeros to theirs? We are in the Europa League because it is where we deserve to be – if we were good enough for the Champions League we would be in that, or more likely eliminated already. It really annoys me when fans of Big 6 clubs think of the Europa League as beneath them, since it is our performances that put us there.

I for one am enjoying the ride, and hope we can continue to progress. I am not trying to be critical of Jon, as I am a firm believer that fans have the right to air their opinion and enjoy the game in whatever way works for them, and from a cold logical point of view he is probably correct. However, I don’t see the point in just qualifying for a competition we haven’t got a hope in hell of winning – why not try and win every game and see where it takes us? Football is about moments for me – the League Cup isn’t a massively important trophy but I really enjoyed us winning that.
Jack (For reference, I would say the same if City/Liverpool were winning these cups – life is an absolute slog at the minute so football serves it’s purpose as a great escape to give us a few moments to enjoy) Manchester


The referee’s expendable
Rob raised a good question this morning, about referees’ relatively stingy wages. My guess as to why they don’t get paid more, given how important they are, is that it’s seen as a desirable profession. It’s horses for courses, and for a lot of people refereeing a televised football match would be a thoroughly unpleasant experience, but for those who enjoy being a ref, stepping out into a stadium full of thousands of people during a big Premier League match must be a massive buzz. So from the FA or FIFA’s perspective, there’s no pressure to pay them wages in line with the profitability of football, because they a) enjoy their work, and b) have a queue of other refs behind them who would like to take their job as a Premier League official.

There’s a similar attitude shown by the wage-payers towards other vocational professions, such as being a doctor, a nurse, a teacher, and so on – these are careers that many people want to do (or at least used to, before conditions deteriorated), because for a lot of people, helping others is a nice thing to do. Therefore the state feels it can keep wages low, because there will always be people wanting to work in those roles. And, similar to referees, of whom Rob points out “Their importance to every game can’t be overstated” – a society without healthcare professionals or teachers would collapse fairly swiftly.

Remarkably, the powers that be don’t seem to give credence to the converse of this – i.e, that if a job is important but isn’t considered desirable, like emptying bins, it should therefore be well-paid to encourage people to do it. It’s almost as if they’ll use any excuse to pay crap wages to those doing important public services.
Cheers, Dan (MUFC – full support to the strikers except Nunez and Haaland), Worthing


…In response to Rob’s mail as to why refs are paid much lesser compared to players, the answer is pretty obvious isn’t it – they don’t bring in revenues.

In my knowledge Pierluigi Collina and his death stares are the closest any ref came to commanding some kind of fandom and personality. And yet I don’t think anyone went looking for a match ticket only because he was officiating it.

It’s very similar to any business. I work in data analytics for a bank. I am paid well but never as well as the front end guys getting in the customers. Same it is with referees- the function maybe important but ultimately its a non-revenue generating cost.

P.S – I am a united fan but can’t believe Badwolf implied that Rooney was ever more talented than Henry. That guy was slick.
Akshay V (Man Utd – why don’t we give captains finite VAR calls the way we do in Cricket and Tennis.)

Read more: If media and fans keep screaming referee conspiracy, we will be left with cold, objective VAR

Banging the drum
Hallelujah, Simon, North London Gooner. Imagine paying 80 quid to watch Arsenal play and then have to listen to a crap drummer for 90+ minutes. Listening to a good drummer for 90+ minutes is hell, so how do you describe something that’s worse than hell? My club, NAC Breda, doesn’t allow musical instruments. The away fans have to leave them at the gate if they are stupid enough to being one. Unfortunately, a Heerenveen supporter managed to smuggle in a drum recently (explain that if you can). There was outrage. Never again. It’s selfish as well. Why should one person be so noticeable for the rest of the crowd, for the whole match? I think we need to start a campaign…
G Thomas, Breda


Whatever happened to…
Reading your list of uncapped English men, two names jumped out at me.
One was Jamaal Lascelles. It doesn’t seem that long ago that he was definitely on an upward trajectory and seemed a certain future England player. Can someone who’s been watching Newcastle explain where it all went wrong?
The other was Curtis Jones. Despite the silly haircut I was convinced he was going to become a permanent fixture in Liverpool’s midfield. Now everyone gets picked ahead of him, even Ox and Keita. Why doesn’t Klopp trust him any more?
Paul in Brussels


…Yet again, the list of uncapped players is completely baffling to me. I’ll start with Wan Bissaka. Do you genuinely think Jack Colback and Joel Ward have more of a chance than him? They’re both 33, while AWB is 25. In addition to that, AWB has literally already been called up by Southgate in the past.

Also, you think Luke Ayling has a better chance of a game than Sessegnon. Look at who Ayling has ahead of him. Look at his age. Sessegnon is a decent enough player with age on his side and in a position that doesn’t have much depth.

The headline too confused me. “Struggling Southgate”? At which tournament did he struggle at exactly?
Dion, Arsenal.


Breeding Gooners
Such a shame we have an international break. Ho hum. Real football will start again soon. As such I just wanted to write in with some recent thoughts.

My stepdaughter has now declared herself a Gooner. Now this is exciting news as we live in Cobham and her dad is a Chelsea fan, as is everyone else in this area it seems. But I think what’s telling is that the success is breeding a new generation (not class of ‘92…!) of Gooners. I can’t remember the last time that happened. And the fact that it’s girls that are saying that too is lovely. My daughter is already a declared Gooner, and guess who all of the children have as their very favourite player? That’s right, Bukayo Saka.

The downside to this is that my stepdaughter wants a third shirt for her upcoming birthday. I’ve never seen this happen before but it’s completely out of stock everywhere. Is that because of it being pink or is it because of the recent upsurge in popularity of the team?

Another thought I wanted to run past the mailbox is that whenever I hear the name ‘Toney’ (as in Brentford’s striker) I immediately hear ‘Luca’. Does anyone else do that? And are there other examples of thinking of the wrong player in this way?
JazGooner (If anyone knows when the third kit is back in stock, please let me know. I want to make a little girl happy)


Saka = Robben
I’ve been reading with interest the comparisons of Arsenals current squad to the class of 92 (complete rubbish) and now comparing Saka to Rooney (more rubbish).

However, watching Saka at close quarters recently, the player he most reminds me of is the great Arjen Robben. They are literally the same player. Left-footed right wingers that are great dribblers and always want to cut into the centre and shot with their left foot.

No matter how obvious it is (that they will cut in and shot), for some reason teams just can’t defend against it.

Robben was a very underrated player in England, I guess based on the fact we only saw a young Robben tearing it up for a few seasons at Chelsea, however if Saka can emulate half of what he achieved he will have had an unbelievable career.

Paul K, London

Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka celebrates his goal

Top class
WOW! I didn’t think my missive about understanding the connection between youth products and fans would boil the p*ss of so many United Fans. Why is that?

I don’t recall comparing Saka to Rooney, in fact, I distinctly recall explicitly NOT comparing them, or even saying who was better. The literal point of my message was I understand NOW that the connection between fans and homegrown is deeper. But to United fans in the mailbox and in the comments….woooweee, you guys took that hella personally. Like I had blasphemed.

Badwolf, unfortunately by stating Henry wasn’t a generational player, negates ANY point you make. Rooney never won a World Cup, Henry did. Rooney never won the Euros, Henry did. So straight away, he’s better than your generational wunderkind. Rooney never won La Liga, Henry did. So now your provincial Rooney is beginning to look like a big fish in a small pond. As for Rooney being generational, he never got England to a final, and that was with the Golden Generation. We all have our rose tinted glasses when it comes to our players, but sometimes we do need to take them off.

As for McG, I didn’t even remotely imply this means more, merely I understood how it can heighten the emotional connection. As for the peers of Class of 92, I didn’t even say that! I said “I know I’m seeing something as rare as the Class of 92 ” I fear that too many United fans missed comprehension lessons as a kid.

I, personally, like this team more knowing that some of them have come through the ranks. After years of signing Pepe’s, Mustafi’s, Sokratis et al, are you surprised we’re happy that young players coming through our ranks fill us with hope and pride?

If this is how United fans react to a compliment, I’d hate to see what happens when people flat out insult them.
John Matrix AFC

…I would have been kinder to myself and said “exasperated and incredibly annoyed” but perhaps my language made it seem like I was angry. I’m not really sure where the confusion lies though. I was annoyed by John Matrix Arsenal fan. Writing stupid emails about not “getting” the class of 92 until it happened (didn’t happen) at Arsenal.

Not because I’m a Man United fan. Because I’m not a Man United fan. And not because Waterford lost in the Hurling. Because Waterford always lose in the Hurling. It was that dumb ass mail.

MrG Belfast is much more concise in his diagnosis. It’s your success and it’s happening now. It doesn’t have to be about something else that happened 20 years ago to make sense now. That’s just weird overthinking.

I did enjoy Strife of Brian though. Thank you.

I also enjoyed hearing that Graham had a wonderful time in Waterford. No doubt as much as he enjoyed pointing out my mistake about it being a Euros not a WC. That just makes it worse tbh.

On a separate note. What a draw in the Champions League. Benfica v Napoli in a potential semi final is absolutely superb.

Real are the obvious call on the other side of the draw so the other side is the news. Benfica are ridiculous going forward. Napoli have the next World Stars in Kava and Osimhen. Inter have a brilliant Cup manager and pedigree. AC are royalty. So much to root for and look forward too.

Money talks but every now and then football still wins.

Much love. Take Care of yourselves and eachother
Brian Morrissey (Liverpool Fan) Waterford
…I just want to point out the comparing different generations of football team and different players is a fools game. However since we’re all doing it I will join in! The comparison of Rooney and Saka is bonkers as Saka is 21 while we can observe Rooney’s whole career. Rooney had an amazing career and questions of how good he was feel trite. He was one of the very best in his time won lots of things and set some impressive records. On the other hand Saka has won an FA cup and that’s it but he is still 21. Saka could be one of the very best for the next decade. He could set records and win accolades or this could be his best ever season and injuries / Loss of form like Dele Ali could make him a what could have been. At the end of Saka’s career this becomes a fun debate but not yet.

Equally the class of 92 is iconic for a reason and despite Arsenal 23 being good the are not home grown to the same extent. 90’s / early 00’s United had less competition than now but their achievements are still staggering. Arsenal 23 will be fondly remembered among Arsenal fans no matter what and are close to being iconic at least among Arsenal fans. Time will tell if they are ever considered truly great but I am keeping my fingers crossed. Can we just enjoy them all?
Croydon Gooner


…In reply to Exiled Gooner (morning mailbox 21st March), I read with more than a little disbelief what was claimed to be the class of ’89.
Perhaps ‘Exiled Gooner’ was held back a few years at school and so we can give a bit of leeway to the inclusion of Paul Merson (turned 21 in 1989), Mickey Thomas (22), Martin Hayes (23), Gus Ceasar (23), Niall Quinn (23), David Rocastle (22). However, Paul Davis turned 28 and David O’Leary turned 31 in 1989. On that basis, why weren’t Dixon, Winterburn, Adams, Seaman, Bould etc included 🙂
Sheepy (Arsenal fan working in a bar on 26th May 1989)


…Maybe I’m wrong but I read the original posters question about Arsenal and the Class of 92 as nothing like a player comparison but how it made the fans feel a greater connection with the players and their team. Seems quite sensible. Of course not to Man U fans though, who seem thoroughly upset that a rival fan can feel a greater affinity to some of their own players, the scoundrels.

Anyhow, for me Rooney was an amazing player but so was Henry. Personally I would choose Henry as one of the greatest imports to the league in what he did for their entire team, the technical (and shithousing) ability he was capable of and did so regularly. It’s an argument for who is the better and each has merit, but if Rooney was a ‘generational’ talent then Henry was very much in the same bracket.

Saka vs Rashford (how did this comparison happen), for consistency I think Saka has it. Rashford’s having a great season but Saka’s had 3 great seasons for his club and England, the national side is lucky if they both keep at their current levels.

I’m a Spurs fan as well, this was tricky.


Generation game
In reply to Badwolf, I’m not a Gooner but I was slightly riled by the description given to Thierry Henry in your email. So Rooney was the talent of a generation and Henry wasn’t? In my humble opinion Henry was possibly the finest player we’ve ever seen in the Premier league. A superior player and athlete compared to Rooney I would certainly say. Was both lucky and unfortunate to see Henry play against Liverpool in the flesh, he was on another planet and tore us apart. If there’s been a more destructive player in the Premier league I’ve yet to see him!
Dave, Newport (bewildered Liverpool fan)