The Man Utd experiment that must end with immediate effect

Date published: Friday 21st February 2020 8:37 - Matthew Stead

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Shaw thing
The whole Luke Shaw as a left-sided center back in a 3 man defence is an experience I hope dies with immediate effect. Shaw has the positional sense of a man who has never heard of football and Brandon Williams inexperience often means both of them are occasionally left flat footed. This means that when our slow giant captain center back inevitably ducks under the ball (???) there’s no one covering for him and his unbelievable lack of pace means recovery is impossible.

Lingard, Pereira and Matic are all players who actively make us worse. Lingard and Pereira specifically are experts in the art of doing nothing. Their only significant actions are when they give the ball away or give an unnecessary foul away. Matic, on the other hand, is so slow that it’s difficult to imagine not running past him with ease. He also slows down every single attack we have; between him and Maguire it’s genuinely like watching a game at 0.5 x normal speed.

Martial is Martial. Anyone who saw that line up before the game would have been able to see that he would receive no service tonight, and that’s exactly what happened. Had he not capitalized on a defensive mistake, people would be chastising him for not doing Lingard/Pereira/Mata’s job and creating more. He deserves a lot of the criticism that comes his way, but I struggle to think of any striker who would thrive with those players behind him. It’s disgraceful to see the lack of anything being created for him.

The difference between Bruno Fernandes and the rest of our team is already light and day. It didn’t even take much for him to seem so clearly far above the rest; all he’s had to do was make forward passes and take some shots, an apparently foreign concept to most of our team.

I remain cautiously optimistic that Bruno Fernandes coupled with an eventual Rashford return can get us back into the Champions League, but for all the talk of deadwood being shifted, this squad has a ridiculous amount of deadwood.
Gaaavie, Kaapstad


Mustafi madness
What the hell has Arteta done to Mustafi? Whatever it is, I like it. That TAA style crossfield pass in the buildup to the goal was stunning.

I remember at the start of the season someone at F365 towers was laughing at the prospect of Mustafi and Luiz being partners at the centre of Arsenal’s defense and I shuddered at the thought, but was comforted by the fact that we had so many centre backs that it would never happen.

Now they have had 3 clean sheets in a row, the first time this season Arsenal – the previous best being 1.

I am really starting to like Arteta. And how long should I wait for the ‘I told you so’ for when I said it was a mistake to go for Emery over Arteta?
Adonis Stevenson, AFC


Sportswashing does not exist
Anybody out there love Vladimir Putin since the World Cup ?

Is Azerbaijan now on your ‘must see before you die’ list after the UEFA cup final ?

Anybody think the Chinese communist party is actually a law abiding citizen loving misunderstood entity after the 2008 Olympics ?

Do all Man City fans now holiday in Abu Dhabi ?

You get where I am going. The constant references to sport washing in football are misplaced. Man City is an investment. It cost £80m to buy from that other law abiding politician (Thaksin Shinawatra) and they have since spent £1,000,000,000 (for those reading this early, hungover or still drunk it’s a billion but thought the zeroes added emphasis !) Man City is now worth almost $5 Billion. That sounds like a good investment to me.

I think City fans are blasé about what is currently going on with their owners as they are happy with where they are. Before the Saudi’s came in City were struggling. Anybody remember the League One play off final all those years ago ? Paul Dickov and Nicky Weaver anyone !? City have broken the hegemony of a crooked Russian billionaire (allegedly), an American family who bought Man Utd through a leveraged buy out and continue to slowly bleed the club and an Arsenal team dying a slow death whilst in the background a Russian billionaire and an American billionaire wouldn’t work together for the good of Arsenal. Why are City any different ?

There were some great points yesterday from a number of contributors, it was a good mailbox. I don’t believe FFP is broken. If you read this from UEFA you can get a better understanding of what they were trying to do. It allows for owners to subsidise a club and I do think FFP has worked as F365 pointed out fewer clubs have gone to the wall since its inception as leagues have also put in place their own guidelines.

The key issue is the ignorant arrogance of City and their wilful underhanded way they have subsidised City rather than PSG whereby they are clearly doing the same but they have put ‘valid, legal, correct’ sponsorships in place even though we know where the money is coming from. Their lack of respect for FIFA and UEFA (both bastions of fairness, legality and transparency !?!?) is stultifying footballs attempts to keep clubs solvent and competitive.

In all lines of business you always have people who try to bend the rules and those who seemingly left their morals and standards at the door on their way in. FFP is a good idea and I think it’s important that UEFA stand up to City. It’s dishonest business practices and not ‘sport washing’ that is the issue. It’s therefore important City face the consequences.
Ian (Surely not EVERYBODY was kung fu fighting) LFC


Always the victim etc and so on
I just can’t understand Man City and their victim attitude right now. Any sensible person knew that the money spent on transfers and wages at City was going to get them in hot water. That’s why they made up those inflated sponsorships which, again, any sensible person knew were nowhere close to market value.

Then the argument about Liverpool spending 75m on Van Dijk. Stupid point. Their right back cost nothing, left back cost 9m, centre back cost 3m or nothing – depending on which one partners Van Dijk.

Bottom line. Any reasonable person knew that City was built on getting money from their owners. They’ve won alot during the past decade. Good for them. But get real man, you’re no victims Man City.
Chris Moore, AVFC



Dench French
Smyth, MUFC. What a fun idea, certainly beats the mundanity of bothering to comment on City’s ‘ban’, even though we all know that by the time their lawyers are finished and all the appeals are over, it’ll probably be UEFA that are banned from the CL.

Anyhoo, I thought first that I could definitely beat that side with a French version, turns out there weren’t as many ‘worldies’ as my brain remembered. Still, I think this side would definitely give other nations a run for their money so here goes…

GK – Lloris
LB – Evra
CB – Desailly
CB – Laporte
RB – Gallas
RM – Petit
CM – Vieira
CM – Makelele
LM / F – Pires
FWD – Henry
FWD – Cantona

Subs GK – Barthez, DEFS – Leboeuf, Sagna, MIDS – Kante, Ginola, FWDS – Anelka, Martial / Lacazette

Caveats: As you can see I got slightly desperate towards the end with Martial / Lacazette. The midfield is slightly unbalanced, perhaps it should be 4-3-3 with Pires closer to the front 2. Plus Sagna is probably a better RB than Gallas but it’s worth it to see who he sits down against after not being awarded a decision.

Notable omissions include Laurent Blanc and Didier Deshamps who (in my opinion ONLY) we way past their best when they arrived in the Prem and Stephane Guivarc’h, purely because he’s the only player I know with an apostrophe in his name.
Chris, Guildford (Plastic Red Scouser)


I’ll bite and put together a French 11 that would take on that Dutch side.


Koscielny Desailly Gallas

Kante Makelele

Pires Vieira Ginola

Cantona Henry

Subs: Barthez, Clichy, Lebouef, Deschamps, Petit, Wilthord, Djorkaeff, Evra, Sagna

Manager – Arsene Wenger

An incredibly quick and powerful back 3 protcted by Kante and Makele, Vieira going box to box as required. Pires, Cantona, Ginola and Henry could basically do what they wanted. Experience and goals on the bench. Fullbacks on the bench to allow a back 4 or wingbacks if a formation change were needed.I’d fancy them against that Dutch team.

Also, the Irish 11 wouldn’t be too bad


Irwin McGrath O’Shea Staunton

Coleman Keane Reid Duff

Quinn Keane

Bit light after the first 11 though
Doug, AFC, Belfast


Great mail from Smith, MUFC in regards to Best XI from One Country since inception of the league, well after looking at what England could deliver, it’s quite impressive, maybe even a World Cup winning side?

GK: David Seaman

LB: Ashley Cole
CB: Rio Ferdinand
CB: John Terry
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold

CM: Paul Scholes
CM: Steven Gerrard
CM: Frank Lampard

FW: Michael Owen
FW: Wayne Rooney
FW: Alan Shearer

Subs: D. Beckham, I. Wright, T. Adams, J. Hart, G. Neville, J. Carragher, J. Sancho

Whether this formation would work to everyone’s strengths, well perhaps not, but it does show what an incredible amount of talent the England team has had in the Premier League era.
Mikey, CFC


Dear F365,

Can you please let Smyth from the most recent mailbox know that Gini Wijnaldum hasn’t earned the right to hand Rafael van der Vaart his boots, let alone replace him in a central attacking midfield position.
Dr Oyvind, Earth


In response to Smyth MUFC’s mail about the best team any nation could field based on Premiership players, I have to agree with it being Holland, and he got his defense pretty spot on.

I take issue with his midfield however as he seems to have forgotten that both Davids and van der Vaart both played at Spurs, (although in the case of Davids, this is entirely understandable,) and that van Persie was awful on the left wing. Surely Davids at the base of a diamond, with Overmars on the left, Robben on the right, VDV at the tip behind bergkamp and van Nistelrooy is a better line up, or if you wanted to be super naughty you could drop VDV to the bench, (not quite sure how de zeeuw got there anyway,) and play bergkamp behind Ruud and kluivert (after his equally forgettable spell at Newcastle,) or van Persie now Overmars has his spot on the left.

Also being of a certain age I would have to get George Boateng on the bench to close out those tight games and give cover to the defense. Anyone think they can improve on that?
Andy, Guatemala


Spot the difference
Surely I’m not the only F365 reader who was looking forward to reading yesterday’s edition of Mediawatch, only to find that 585 of its 1041 words (or 56%) were devoted to pointing out the difference in coverage between Tottenham and Liverpool’s 1-0 CL defeats, implying that there shouldn’t have been?

Mediawatch acknowledges in passing that Liverpool and Tottenham are teams of entirely different ability, and that there is a difference between losing 1-0 at home vs. away, but does so seemingly in an attempt to minimize the relevance of these considerations.

Let’s make this clearer: Liverpool are on 76 points after 26 games. Tottenham are on 40 points after 26 games. There is a 36 point difference between the two teams. There is good reason to see their chances of progression differently, even if all other variables are kept the same.

But let’s ignore that, as Mediawatch seems keen to do. Let’s instead focus on the fact that a team in Liverpool’s situation after the first leg statistically has a 39% chance of progression, based on previous CL results, while a team in Tottenham’s situation has an 11% chance of progression.

“Sounds about right” indeed!
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


Release me
I know I could google this but can F365 please enlighten me as to how release clauses work?

Specifically what happens if two clubs are both willing to trigger a release clause and the player is happy going to either, having personal terms met by both?

Does the release clause preclude a bidding war in that it’s first come first served?

I can’t believe that only a single European club will be willing to trigger Timo Werner’s release clause this April, hence my interest.

I also haven’t seen much analysis in these pages of Haaland’s deal and what Dortmund is actually getting (to me it resembles more of a rental arrangement given the artificially low purchase price and artificially low release clause) and the implication of a top player retaining complete control of his career.
Aussie Red


Big Japanese weekend
Dear MC,

In case anyone is interested in checking out Japanese football, I thought I’d write a few things to look out for in the J1 matches that FreeSports are showing this weekend – the first ever live Japanese football to be shown in the UK.

Shonan Bellmare v Urawa Reds (Friday 9.55am)

Last year Urawa went all the way to the final of the Asian Champions League while their J1 form was abysmal and they narrowly avoided finishing in the relegation playoff spot, which was occupied by Shonan, who drew with J2 playoff winners Tokushima Vortis to stay up. There might be a bit of needle in this one as in last year’s fixture Shonan inexplicably had a goal ruled out as the officials somehow missed the ball crossing the line and thought the Urawa goalie throwing it in anger was him playing on. Urawa went upfield and nearly scored to make it 3-0. After a long argument with the officials, the game continued and Shonan came back to win 3-2. People who know more about Japanese football than me are predicting Urawa to do well this year, and new striker Leonardo to score loads in J1, as he has in J2 and J3.

Vissel Kobe v Yokohama FC (Sunday 6.55am)

Kobe won the Emperor’s Cup last season – their first ever trophy – and followed it up with a good start to this year, with ACL wins and victory in the Super Cup against J1 champions Yokohama F. Marinos. That game was notable for the nine consecutive penalty misses in the shootout – the funniest I’ve ever seen. Kobe have plenty of familiar names: Iniesta, Vermaelen, and Gotoku Sakai, but their new strike partnership is probably their most interesting point. Young Kyogo Furuhashi and Douglas are already banging them in this year. Yokohama FC finished second in J2 last year and have an odd mix of very young and very old players, the most notable being almost-53-year-old Kazuyoshi Miura, who will get more headlines than minutes this season.

Shimizu S-Pulse v FC Tokyo (Sunday 1.30pm)

Shimizu stand out for their bright orange kits and the beautiful location of their stadium. Apart from that, though, they seem to struggle every year, and probably will more so this year after their main goal threat, Douglas, moved to Kobe. FC Tokyo led the league for much of last year but an 8-game stretch away from their usual home ground due to the Rugby (Union) World Cup saw them falter and eventually be overhauled by Yokohama F. Marinos at the end of the season. It’s hard to see them doing as well as last year.

If any Mailboxers watch any of the matches, please share your thoughts next week!

James T (@kanazawadreamin), Ishikawa, Japan


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