Why would Man United need more midfielders?

Date published: Wednesday 29th April 2020 9:30

We did have to ignore dozens of mails about streaming in the end. Send mails on other subjects to theeditor@football365.com


Void the season…bring back Poch
I’ve been a Spurs fan for 58 years – for the record I was born a few months after we last won the top flight so…not in my lifetime. I’ve been inconsolable/angry-beyond-belief since the club made the worst decision in my lifetime to hire the ‘current’ manager; but I won’t go into that now. I put ‘current’ in inverted commas advisedly since there is now a possible scenario – however remote – that could play out to put the toothpaste back in the tube, un-ring that bell…on which I’m placing all my hopes.

If – granted it’s a big IF – the season is declared null and void – and the games were therefore never played – the club could, before next season, clean house, flush out the useless despicable Portuguese, and he would technically never have managed the club at all!

If I may ride this Utopian wave for a few seconds longer, Poch is still, as I write, on the market; It could be our Bobby Ewing in the shower moment (one for the youngsters there). All right-thinking Spurs fans could rub their eyes and bask in the relief that it was all a horrible dream.

For me, by far the greatest imaginable silver lining to the Covid cloud.

Do it, Daniel.
Big Pete – THFC Côte d’Azur


Man United and their endless midfielders
Firstly, obviously streaming football illegally is stealing. The clue is in the name. Doesn’t mean I don’t do it regularly though, so not sure where I sit on that one.

However, the main point of my mail is to address comments by Ferdinand, a player I loved watching and, despite me probably being in the minority here, a pretty decent pundit.

I have to disagree with his latest thoughts on players United should (if they even could, but that is a whole other mess) target in the summer transfer window. Again, this is assuming there is one?

A number of outlets seem to be thinking along the same lines as Ferdinand that United should revamp their midfield, which in my humble, and completely uneducated, opinion is not the priority.

Looking at the current squad, United could have a first-choice midfield three of Fernandes, McTominay and Fred. Hardly Keane and Scholes in their pomp, but a pretty decent trio. There would then be back-ups of Pogba, Matic and Perreira. Now, it is possible that all three of them could leave in the summer, although I for one would like to see Matic given an extension given his generally decent form in 2020. Add in James Garner as a replacement for distinctly average Perreira who should probably be moved on, and we then just have the issue of Pogba. I can’t see him going this summer, despite it suiting all parties, so if he stays, how do you accommodate players of the calibre of Maddison or Grealish? Maybe one of them, although if the season is voided I can’t see Grealish being willing to push for a move and Maddison would be priced out by Leicester who have no need to sell. Given the limited funds potentially available, and the increasing likelihood of the season being cancelled, it just doesn’t feel realistic to be talking of 4 or 5 signings, especially not more than 2 (at an absolute maximum) for big money.

Ironically this could suit United, who can start the season with Fernandes, which they obviously should have done for the current season, hopefully avoid long-term injury to Rashford, and have Maguire more settled at the club. Generally we look OK – star signings would be great, and I’d snap your hand off if we could get Sancho, Koulibaly and Ndidi/Kante, but I just don’t see it happening. And even if we could spend big, why spend it on midfield when it is our disjointed attack that has caused so many of our issues this season? I completely understand that for the attack to work the midfield and defence must be at a high level as well, but it just feels easier to upgrade our options in attack.

*Before anyone shouts at me, I also agree that this is not FM, so just writing an email to help pass the time.

**Unlucky on Liverpool, genuinely one of the best sides I’ve seen in the league, but don’t know how you can award a title and not relegate teams, and it simply isn’t possible to relegate teams without completing the season.
Jack (Be interesting to see who can coach their team instead of just buy new players) Manchester


Is it too late to save the soul of football?
As we live through an existential crisis, perhaps it’s time for football fans to start asking existential questions. Across the world and especially in the UK, football clubs are now in danger of going out of business. As authorities and fans scramble for a response, perhaps the solution is something more radically simple: stop treating clubs as a business.

Though clubs are run as businesses, they clearly should not be. For a start, almost all clubs fail to meet the fundamental parameter for any successful business: sustained profitability. But more importantly, society does not consider clubs to be a business. As COVID-19 has demonstrated, football clubs, more than local banks, and footballers, more than bankers, are expected to do their part. These are reasonable expectations because, despite their private ownership, football clubs are community assets. On a spectrum between public goods and profit-hunting private corporations, a football club lies closer to the NHS than a McDonalds in its role for a community.

Why then do we persist with this facade? Why can’t we just change to rules to treat these clubs differently and not risk their existence to the whims of an owner or the market? Why can’t the German model or any other workable variation be replicated? British fans invented the concept of fandom, but they seem to be the most at risk of losing what they cherish. Last season, on average, nearly 3,000 people turned up to regularly watch Yeovil Town, the 92nd best team in the English football hierarchy. Few social activities can command such fealty. Imagine if this passion were harnessed into mobilising a massive fan movement across the country. The possibilities could be endless: fan-owned clubs, reasonable ticket prices, and a fairer game.

Or is this pure naivety? Has the genie slipped too far out of the bottle? Are football fans simply too concerned about their club’s next game and next signing? Or the neoliberal forces just too powerful? If a group as passionate as football fans doesn’t have the stomach to resist the forces draining the game they love, then what hope does the world have?
Vishnu Padmanabhan


To stream or not to stream?
I wonder if people streaming would continue to do so if they had the right product available – a subscription to their team’s matches. I don’t watch enough football to justify me paying for a sports channel subscription. Nor do I really watch much other sport.

But if there was an option to subscribe to watch all the games involving my team, I would…
Kerry, Cambridge


…I agree with the consensus that streaming illegally streaming games that are being shown live on TV is stealing and immoral. However, I also understand the clamour for a move to a more efficient, ad-free Netflix style platform for watching football.

My question relates to streaming games that are not being shown live on TV in the UK.

I have the full monty of subscriptions to UK Premier League broadcasters, paying Sky Sports, BT Sport and Amazon Prime monthly fees for the privilege of watching content they have paid handsomely to exclusively broadcast. But what about the games that they don’t show?

As an Arsenal fan, I am lucky (or unlucky as it has felt in recent times) that at least 70% of our matches are shown live on UK TV. But when we have a 3pm Saturday kick-off, or a rare untelevised Sunday game, or a midweek game not chosen for TV – I do dabble in those illegal streams. Where does this sit on the moral compass of the masses?

Whilst I know these streams are still illegal, when there is no legal way of viewing a live match it feels less like I’m avoiding a fee and more just finding a way to watch something that is oddly unavailable to me at any price. When a live game cannot be viewed in the country it is being played in but is available in literally 10’s (maybe hundreds) of other countries worldwide it does kind of suggest that the whole system does need looking at.
David (AFC), London


…In response to Lewis from yesterday’s mailbox. Your analogy is wrong. If you use Netflix as the basis then what you want is the football screened a few months after it has taken place, in which case £10 a month seems doable. You want to watch the absolute latest feature, then go to the cinema and pay what that costs to do so. You want to see musicians live, well you can’t do that on Spotify, you need to probably jump over a fence into a stadium to see the live action, or pay the £60 or so to do so.

Live streaming is theft, it’s simple, and there really isn’t any justification just because it’s a bit too expensive or hard to justify the expense. If you don’t approve of the law then petition for its change, not pick and choose what is right or wrong based on your income levels.

Dressing it up as some kind of Robin Hood crime is ridiculous and if more of those who were watching and not paying did the opposite the cost per person would fall. The selfish twats.
Steve, (bit grumpy now) THFC


…I’d like to add a further argument to my email yesterday about why I’m quite happy to stream illegally. A season pass on NBC in the US is $65; that’s about £50 for access to 140 games, including 3pm, Saturday kick offs. Sky are charging £50 per month for access to 128 games per season, so over 12 times the price. Why is the UK consumer being asked to pay 12 times what a US consumer is, despite the content being exactly the same and when the “product” is produced in the UK? This is true of the majority of international rights; the Premier League is being shown all round the world for a fraction of the price that we’re being asked to pay in this country. That’s not acceptable.

The comparisons people have given about stealing BMWs takes a different tone when viewed through this lens. If you wanted to buy a BMW, but it cost 10% of the UK price abroad, I’m willing to bet the majority of people would do some research on what the import cost would be before committing their money to the purchase. The fact of the matter is that we’re currently being fleeced; having our pants pulled down and royally spanked. I’ll gladly keep on illegally streaming until the companies involved realise that their model belongs in the 20th century. They need to move with the times and offer something comparable to what is on offer elsewhere; it’ll take more people streaming illegally to force their hands.
Lewis, Busby Way


…Firstly for all the ‘theft is theft’ crowd, just stop it. Consider even for a second what that statement means, guy steals bread to feed his starving family or guy steals bread because he can’t be arsed walking to the till. Those are not the same crime, context is everything, don’t be so obtuse.

I was 13 when Napster hit the net. I grew up with P2P sharing as standard practice, it was and still is illegal. We all knew it was illegal but we did it anyway because albums and movies were too expensive, especially for a teenager. I remember campaigns of how we were all stealing from artists and how this would put and end to the industry or severely effect quality. It didn’t, instead the industry reacted by giving us a better option and P2P sharing diminished.

You can now pay £10 a month for Spotify and listen to all the music you want, and £15 a month for Netflix and Disney+ for all the movies and TV you can manage. The amount of media I now consume in a month would have cost hundreds of pounds 20 years ago. You see how this is better. Well you have all the napster teenage criminals to thank for that.

Now those same teenagers are grown up and streaming football because its too expensive. When you eventually get a great Premier League streaming service for £10-£15 a month with all the games, expert analysis and no adverts remember who to thank.
Dave, Manchester (change doesn’t come by asking politely, revolution works)


…Hello, haven’t written in before even though there has been a lot of subjects that’ve wound me up. Have the time now and decided to be arsed. Have been reading lots of mails about illegally streaming the football and a lot of opinions about what right and wrong is. Like they’re the purveyors of all that is good and just. I do stream when I can be bothered, or if it’s a match I’m looking forward to, which has gotten so much less over the years.

The Premier League’s gotten to sanitised for me to enjoy it as much. Not that interested in lower leagues as the quality isn’t as good. Probably won’t get published for whatever reason, just wanted to write in, yes I stream, yes it’s illegal, no I don’t care about that. I sleep fine at night because my opinion and my moral code works for me and I choose not to pretend that’s the rulebook for your life. All these comments about right and wrong. Is money right? Whole other can of worms there. Yes it’s the world we live in, also in that world is me sitting there streaming not caring about the legalities. Thanks.


…I pay as much as I can to watch the football I want to see. Yet that isn’t enough – if my team’s match is played 3pm Saturday for instance,
odds are I’m not going to see it by paying. Only one match available to choose of the five or so going on. Ooooh there’s ManU in it, if only I cared about them I would be so much happier!

The only way I’m going to see my match is streaming on some unscrupulous website I wouldn’t have even known about if the Premier League had done the right thing in the first place and made watching whichever match I chose an easily accessible option, for a suitable price. But no, I have to commit an actual crime just to watch my team play. Not saying I’m doing it.

I’m sure Sky and various other right-holders around the globe would be perfectly happy to agree on a deal that obligates them to show every match live. It would mean more views for them. Instead, the Premier League has decided, however unwittingly, to actively promote illegal streaming. Well done.
Anonymous Absolutely Non-streamer, Place on Earth


Ranking and apostrophes
Hello and thank you for helping to keep me sane or, at least, not completely insane.

When you’ve completed your A-Z top ten’s, I think you should then rank them.
John, North London
(P.S. this morning I have been trying to teach my 9 year old about apostrophes, though I am unsure I’ve got that one right in ten’s above… She would probably know though…)

(No, you f***ed it – Ed)


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