Man Utd would be an unstoppable monster as the first state-owned super club

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Qatar's Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani has tabled his bid to buy Manchester United.
Qatar's Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani has pulled out of the race to buy Manchester United.

The Mailbox ponders the prospect of a Manchester United becoming the game’s biggest super power under Qatari control. Also: Arsenal really ought to grow up…

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If Qatar come for Man Utd
I’d just like, if I may, to offer a different comment with regards to the possibility of Qatar taking over Manchester United. Ever since City were bought, I’d always said I’d walk away if United were ever state owned; the truth is since then, I’ve already walked far enough away that it doesn’t matter anymore. I still watch our games, both legally and illegally, but the emotional and financial investment I once had is gone. I still love the game, but I despise the business.

What should be especially concerning, and from what I’ve read is putting the sh*ts right up the big clubs on the continent, is the wider implications of Man Utd becoming state owned. You see, for all Man City, PSG and Newcastle are “big” clubs, they’re not in that super club bracket that the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and co are. Those clubs have been able to financially compete, in the main, with the state backed clubs due to their mass commercial appeal and enormous fan bases.

As such, if one were to come into state ownership, and the same financial mechanisms that have been employed at City and PSG especially are implemented, then there’s the potential to blow everyone else out of the water and still be able to abide by FFP. A debt free Manchester United, with a new/improved stadium and commercial deals inflated from those that are already at the upper end of the market? That’s terrifying. That’s a budget 50-100% more than anyone else can afford.

So whilst I’m no fan of US hedge funds, I’d much rather a well run version of that came in (unlike the absolute leeches that are the Glazers) than go into state hands. Supporting that would be like walking into a casino and cheering for the house.
Lewis, Busby Way


Captain Erik’s controlled chaos
I’m praying that Erik Ten Hag starts wearing an eyepatch for no reason other than he can. And possibly do interviews smoking a pipe.
Have you ever seen a more in-control maniac?
He’s the captain of they craziest pirate ship the Premier League has seen in a long time, and we’re coming for EVERYTHING!
Players playing out of their “natural’ position, Shaw at CB, Martinez at LB, Bruno all over the place, AWB popping up in midfield. And then, why not switch the whole thing up during the match? Oh, and let’s thrown on a 17yo local lad for his debut while we’re at it.

In Weghorst, you have a lad signed as a striker but was everywhere yesterday. After playing every single game since he arrived. He’s probably still running now on an empty pitch (and still not scoring). Fast becoming a United cult hero and entering Diego Forlan territory already. He did everything bar score and operate the subs board. And he’s a loanee FFS! You just know he’ll score the winner in the Carabao final, probably off the back of his head or his arse.

Sabitzer, another loanee, looks like he fell off an actual pirate ship. Totally naughty tackle on Faes and lucky, but ran his heart out and can pick a pass. Already putting himself in Keane territory. Would Bayern consider a swap for Maguire? The German league might suit Harry’s “pace” and maybe save him some face.

Rashford, Sancho, Fred – all players that looking liked they were moping about last year now running the show. I’m half expecting ETH to lay hands on Martial and he’ll never have so much as a cold again.

Of course, making the Portugeezer walk the plank has assisted greatly.

It’s total football with a huge side-order of controlled f$cking chaos. Surely it’s impossible for opposition managers to strategise against it?

I honestly don’t care if we don’t win a thing, because what a time to be a United fan!
Terry, Texas


Ten Hag is boss, whatever happens this week
Getting this in ahead of what feels like a really big week for Manchester United. Basically, Ten Hag is an absolute genius, and no matter what happens in the rest of this year, fans need to give him full support heading into next season.

If a few results go against United this week, we could end up trophyless, clinging on the top 4 and having watched Newcastle bask in their totally-deserved-not-at-all-concerning newfound adulation. And there will be lots of questions asked about EtH, and is he really that good?

Yes. Yes he is. Let me tell you the clubs in Europe that have played more matches than United this year. That’s the list. None. This is despite everyone acknowledging the absolute disaster of a squad Ed Woodward left behind. For a decade United have lacked a coherent midfield. ETH found one, but a combination of some old fella named Caroll and VARs passion for punishment means we don’t have that any more. United lack goals, largely owing to a squad consisting of, statistically, about 30% of a single centre forward. One of the most storied clubs in the world is having to desperately scrabble out with loan signings to make up for the enormous gaps one injury shows.

ETH has United in the Top 4, playing good football despite losing their only fit CF, losing one of the two decent midfielders at the club, managing through a transfer window with no money and against the backdrop of an entirely unsure future. He is getting a tune out of Shaw and Rashford, managing Varane to play every other game and seems to have found some good characters in his signings. This squad is absolutely threadbare due to the horror-show before him, and he’s still got us going well.

So please, avoid the knee-jerks. ETH is the man. Give him one more decent window and we’ll be back, and able to compete on multiple fronts next season. This is a season too soon, so don’t judge him yet.
Ryan, Bermuda (Get Amad in your fantasy teams next season on the cheap)

Read more: Marcus Rashford streaks ahead in 2023 goalscorers list with a strike every 81 minutes


Bring back Bielsa
Come back Marcelo. All is forgiven.

It’s a shambles here.
Tom (some fun organised chaos is needed, stat)


Arsenal and Arteta need to grow up
Villa have played both Manchester City and Arsenal in the same week. If you will indulge me, let me give you my perspective on both the games and feelings about the clubs.

In both games I had pretty much given up the chance of getting a point before the match. Like most mid/lower table teams you have to expect a loss against a top 4 team but hope for the best. Against City we had a bit of hope with a superbly taken Olly Watkins goal but they were predictably too much for us in a poor Villa performance. There were a few things to get annoyed about, such as a textbook Grealish dive, but I do try to avoid hypocrisy (it’s not a good look) as the same player won enough games for us doing similar over the years. I’m even willing to put aside their problemtaic funding model, as if I think about it too hard I may just give up on Premier League football (a topic for another mail). In terms of the game, about what I expected. We move on.

I had the exact same expectaions of the Arsenal match. Spirited fight, expect to lose. Even after a pretty fantastic first half performance where we defended well and scored two brilliant goals (Kamara driving up the field for the second – that boy is fantastic), I still thought Arsenal would have too much and win the game. Which they did. So why do I feel such disaffection for a team I previously liked and wanted to win the league?

Firstly, the word ‘narrative’. Somehow, Arsenal weren’t lucky in scoring that last goal from 30 yards that missed, hit the bar and bounced off the goalies head. That was being courageous, skillful and never giving up…. that was ‘narrative’. Nope. That was lucky, it really was. They had enough chances to bury us but their finishing was poor. Celebrate all you want, honestly, but that was sheer chaos (the defining attractive trait of football). Don’t give me the smarmy refrain of all lucky people: “You make your own luck”. Just own it. I’m not saying they didn’t deserve to win, they did, just someone, somewhere accept it was lucky.

Next up Arteta and his touchline antics. I really struggle to watch the UK version of The Office. The second hand embarassment is too much for a snowflake like me. Everytime the camera pans to Arteta I get the same knot in my stomach. I know some people like this kind of thing but keep some kind of hold on your emotions mate, it’s embarassing honestly. His worst David Brent moment was mimicing the referee when he called a free kick for a rolling ball. I finally understood why people found David Brent funny, I laughed out loud yet felt sorry for him at the same time. More seriously it’s just another nail in the coffin for the respect of referees.

We come on to Saka. What a kid. Love him to bits. For England and watching him for Arsenal. His ability to turn defenders into training dummies is incredible. I haven’t seen every Arsenal match so I’m not sure how he is treated in other games but this ‘Stop Kicking Saka’ campaign simply did not apply to this game. He got hurt in a 50/50 with Moreno. It was nothing more than that, a block tackle. He get’s all moody as he’s probably sick of getting that treatment elsewhere. I get it. Later in the match he goes on with Moreno for another tackle, he’s a few yards away so has time to think how he’s going to approach it. He goes with the ‘make sure I tackle but also stick my studs on my opponent’ approach. Moreno is substitued later. Reading the mailbox this morning was mind blowing to me. There was not any real rough treatment or tackles by Villa players in a co-ordinated attempt to kick him out the game. It just wasn’t there. Yes there were some desperate tackles to stop him but this wierd conspiracy theory did not apply to this game.

Lastly, Martinez. Sorry guys, again with the word ‘narrative’. Every goalkeeper time wastes. All of them. If he is doing it when we are 2-1 up in the first half then take it as a compliment. I had a match I paid to go to almost ruined by a QPR keeper that started timewasting in the second minute. At 0-0. The risks they take is getting a yellow card (which he did) and looking like an idiot when it goes wrong (which he did). So why so angry at him? Arsenal fans seem to have a weird relationship with former players and, along with their manger, could benefit from some emotional growth and maturity.

I wanted Arsenal to win the league, now I don’t. I don’t want City to win the league for their shadier than average financial doping (ditto for Newcastle). So am I…. am I rooting for Manchester United now?
Funstar (Tom Hanks vs Piers Morgan: we win the classiest fan competition) Andy


Rotational fouls
Saw a couple of emails about Saka being constantly fouled. Post match I also read a bit on twitter about Villa being ‘smart’ with ‘rotational fouls’ – meaning the same guy doesn’t foul him every time so unlikely to get booked for multiple fouls.

It made my mind go to Rugby where yellow cards are given for ‘cumulative team fouls’ (not the technical term I’m sure). But basically it means that if the same infringement (ie offside, taking down a maul etc..) happens multiple times by the same team, it doesn’t matter who commits it the next time (even if its the player’s first infringement) that player gets the yellow card. It is always preceded by the ref. having a word with the captain so they know he is looking for that. It is then the captains responsibility to let his team know..

So if a referee has seen, for example, Zaha or Grealish or Saka etc… get fouled multiple times, he has a word to the opposing captain and says that he’s watching for fouls on Zaha/Grealish/Saka etc.. and that the next player to do so is on a card. You’ve often seen refs. count out fouls before giving a player a card – so this is the same principle, just applied to the team. Again I stress communication is key – let the captain know that a certain foul they see the team doing has been noticed, its then his responsibility to pass it on.

In my mind its not about ‘protecting’ certain players, but more targeting tactics that involve fouling. You could apply the same principle to how some time (City…and this year Arsenal), will foul high up the pitch to ensure there is no chance of a break developing. Rarely a ‘yellow card offence’ in and of itself, and often different players do the fouling (rotational) so no one in particular is seen as a serial offender (the serial offender being the team).

Of course all this involves the PGMOL upping their game and quality. They did a good first step in firing agreeing by mutual consent that Lee Mason should go.
Stephen Scott (Gooner – Australia)
PS As a former keeper myself I always have a soft spot for them…and when Martinez left Arsenal I wanted all the best for him and hoped he would do well, and loved how his time with the gunners ended on a high….but my goodness he made liking him an impossible task and I absoultely loved watching the ball go in off his head.


Saka dished it out too
I have to laugh at some Arsenal fans moaning about Saka not getting enough protection. As a Villa fan who, for years, watched Grealish repeatedly systematically targeted by tag team serial fouling, I know the real thing when I see it, and can tell them that no such thing happened to Saka at Villa Park. One or two mistimed challenges maybe – after all he is pretty skilful – but he also makes a huge meal of them half the time.

Not only this but in their whiney one-eyed-ness they all failed to notice a massive irony – that the closest anyone came to being the next Eduardo was Villa left back Moreno, after an over the top follow through stamp on his lower leg by – you guessed it – Saka. See photo. For which not even a yellow card.

Last season Mings got a yellow card after he slid to win the ball. connecting with it with Saka at least still a yard away. Saka continued to run at Mings, threw himself over Mings’ leg and the ref fell for it. Shitty behaviour like that means I have little sympathy for him.

As for deserving the win, well yes Arsenal are a very good side, and they were the better team overall. Nevertheless their goals owed more to the defensive frailties of Villa than their own creativity, the first being a gift from Mings (yet another one) and the second an invitation to a free shot at goal due to poor marking, just like the goal that saw Stevenage knock us out of the cup.

As for the third, well that came shortly after Villa were inches from getting a third themselves, and was not only extremely lucky but should have been ruled out for offside. Not one but two Arsenal players in offside positions and directly in front of Martinez as Jorginho hits the ball. See second and third photos. McGinn had a goal ruled out at the Emirates three years ago for the same thing, with only one player in an offside position and not even directly in the way of the keeper’s line of sight – see fourth photo. VAR didn’t even look at this one, yet it’s a clear and obvious error.

Deserving the win on the balance of play is one thing but at least have the humility to admit you were incredibly lucky to get the goal that clinched it and then not have it disallowed. And stop being one-eyed drama queens over a player who makes a meal of a lot of challenges and isn’t averse to dishing it out himself.
Kevin Villa (At least I saw Tom Hanks)


…This crying over Saka getting kicked needs to stop. Of course players shouldn’t get away with targetted fouling, but tell that to CR7, Giggs, Rashford, Grealish, even Rooney and god knows how many who have gone before.

This “danger player gets kicked” thing isn’t new. Why should your darling be particularly protected? Especially considering that I seem to remember Arsenal being one of the worst culprits for targeting players.

On to a happier subject, good to see Sancho come on, do well and score today, especially in light of recent nonsense in the mailbox. I can’t wait to see how he progresses. Fred, on the other hand… the summer transfer clear-out can’t come soon enough!


Bruno reads the mailbox
Bruno Fernandes is clearly a reader of this website. He saw Abhinav’s ludicrous email the other day which bizarrely suggested that his ‘technical ability is so bad (passing, crossing, shooting technique)’ and responded by playing a lovely through ball for Rashford’s opener, then put the ball on a plate for both Dalot (who missed) and Sancho (who didn’t), amongst other lovely play.

From a neutral’s point of view, you can criticise how often he gives the ball away (although that’s not uncommon with players who try to create things) and definitely his tendency to hit the deck, plus his constant whinging to the referee. To criticise his technical ability is just silly though. I’d take a player with half his technical ability in my team, thanks very much.
Neil, Swansea

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter during a match

Potter’s predicament
Inevitably, losing at home to bottom of the league Southampton will get a negative reaction from a lot of CFC fans. So this is a mail in defence of G. Potter.

From the outside I’ve never much liked Chelsea, mainly coz of their fans but some notable players too , Mickey Droy, Kerry Dixon, Dennis Wise, Carvalho, Terry and Lampard, not to mention Ken Bates. All that aside , as I’ve aged I have definitely tried to assuage such extreme views against them and indeed Real Madrid.

I was then, as a big England fan, dead pleased that a forward thinking, tactically flexible, young English coach got a shot at managing, what has to be digested, one of the three richest premier league clubs.

It definitely for me at least made Chelsea less odious along with seeing the back of ‘blood on his hands Abramovic’.

However, joining mid season , before an international break , before a mid season World Cup is , for a coach like Potter , a worst case scenario.

If there is any sense and patience ( throws hands skywards) the owners will recognise that a full pre season , and perhaps a year with no European commitments can be part of a ‘perfect storm ‘ for Potter to weave this squad together into an entertaining and successful 23-24 season . I seem to remember them having a striker already bought too. The first I might add that may trouble the 20 league goals a season bar that last happened in 2016-17!

Dortmund meanwhile, clearly continue to be an amazing club and that away game was a helpful bar for the more ‘stable’ Chelsea supporters to measure themselves against.

Playing some great football between now and May ought to be enough ‘green shoots of hope ‘ to appease the masses, ( it won’t ).

Having so many young, non English speaking players coming for the first time to London is a tough cocktail to mix yet Potter is very clearly a future mastermind akin to Nagelsmann but taller and without the chip on his shoulder.

On the other hand, it would still be somewhat pleasurable to witness the Chelsea board actually bow to the wails from the ‘terraces’ and lose patience, hence having to watch him go on to greater things at a ‘fresher and brighter’ club than this one in Hammersmith & Fulham.

So you can indeed have your cake and eat it too.
Peter (Madrid will rip Liverpool to shreds if they defend like they did up at St James’), Andalucia.


Harry for Chelsea
He’s a busy man, so I thought I’d spare him the work of leaking his interest in the Chelsea job.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA


Favourites for fourth?
I was reading a couple headlines and articles that said lfc were favorites for 4th. I’m a diehard lfc fan, but seriously?

What happened to 3-goal losses against Wolves, Brighton, Brentford?!?

Arent the favorites for 4th… the team in 4th? Last i see, spurs are also ahead of us. And we have to reel in fulham too, which would require us winning our games in hand (not a given – look at our wolves game!)

Besides, whilst our attack was delicious – jota was buzzing all over (albeit lacking clinicalness) and Bobby oozed class – our defence was still 3/4 porous: VvD is still not back to his best form, Gomez is due 1-2 head scratchers each game, and TAA has never been known for his defense. Luckily we had Alisson to bail us out.

And that’s before we get to the weakest part of the lfc team. Newcastle kept having all those excellent chances becos they kept breaking our press. In past seasons, Fab and Hendo executed a vise-like grip on the opponents who rarely were able to break out, maybe 2-3 times per game, which was ably dealt with by VvD and /or Alisson. This season? That press is porous man. 3 guys press on opponent, who easily slips that trap and / or quickly passes out and bypasses that trap. Our defence kept getting exposed by the, 10 men of newcastle.

Just because we played nicely for 23 minutes and newc played horribly for 23 mins, we’re now favorites for 4th? Having a laugh.
Gab Ynwa
PS where’d we be without Stefan Bajcetic? Probably midtable and also rans for the race for 4th. He’s the only one playing like the imperious lfc midfield of Klopp’s peak lfc teams.


Show £60k Seamus some love
At risk of sounding like part of the “if Messi had done it” brigade, I am finding the coverage of Coleman’s goal on the weekend a little weird. It wasn’t “lucky” or “bizarre” or “unusual” or “inadvertent” or a “cross-shot”. Watch it again and it’s clear it was a fully intentional and perfectly executed piece of vision, opportunism and technique.

Put simply, it was a fantastic goal worthy of winning a crunch match. Let’s give it a little love.
Owen Davidson (we don’t get much these days), EFC


Getting Hammered
The last 2 seasons as a Hammer are like the beers the prisoners in Shawshank Redemption drank on the roof. A brief moment of what life can be like before returning to life long misery.
Phil The Hammer, Norway

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