If Klopp plays heavy metal football, Ten Hag is bringing punk rock to Man Utd…
The Mailbox reacts to Manchester United’s win over Barcelona while highlighting why the Red Devils need the Qatar. Also: mourning Motty; a football regulator; and Liverpool’s clear-out…
Get your views in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Better, more coherent words will be written over the next 48 hours, but I will say this: of all the commentators in my 40 years watching football, none have managed to convey their obvious love of the game through the radio or the TV in quite the same way as John Motson. His commentary work was a joy, his contributions to shows like the Monday Night Club on 5 Live really showed his depth of knowledge of the game at all levels. You could picture him stumbling across a game of football in the park and staying to watch to the end before heading off to do the cup final.
There’s a little less joy in the world today.
…Just thought I would take a break from my United ramblings and give you a couple of pearlers from the late great John Motson.
“Middlesbrough are withdrawing Maccarone the Italian, Nemeth the Slovakian, and Stockdale… the right-back.”
“He’s got the taste of Wembley in his nostrils.”
“And I suppose Spurs are nearer to being out of the FA Cup now than any other time since the first half of this season, when they weren’t ever in it anyway.”
RIP Motty the voice of every fans football.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Read more: John Motson: You took us from childhood to adulthood as the voice of football
…Football as proxy on Twitter. John Nicholson. Collateral damage. Crawling through a river of shit. John Motson.
Did you come out cleaner on the other side John? I fear not. None of us have. We all have that Richard Dunne Thousand Yard Stare now. Like and extra from Platoon. Covered in mud and blood. Staring at the screen and seeing right through it all.
You see, for those who don’t remember, about 7/8 years ago Johnny started a column. A weekly in which he profiled a pundit or Commentator. Standard fare. I liked it.
However. John didn’t just write a critique of his own. No. He made a fatal error. He asked people on twitter to give their thoughts, good or bad, on the next person to be profiled. He would always add these at the end of his piece and everyone liked seeing their nice comments chosen. Some valid criticism was always added for balance too. “Loves and Loathes” or something like that.
But you can see where this is going. John had asked Football Twitter for it’s personal opinions on high profile pundits and commentators. Football Twitter happily obliged, and John had to read all of them. The worst of the worst. Every single day.
This deluge of hate and abuse had such a profound effect on John that he very soon afterwards moved to Tibet and began writing “Why we all Love” pieces. The anger was just too much. Especially when it was a woman being profiled.
No more bile, hate or vitriol. Good vibes only from now on. They’re all wonderful. John needed to go somewhere warm and cozy and nice for a very long lie down. And I don’t blame him at all.
Asking twitter for its opinions on a black female pundit? What could possibly go wrong. John must have needed goggles for most of it.
The point of all this? John Motson. And maybe a sliver of hope in humanity. Because, in spite of everything I’ve just said, I choose to believe that if John was to redo his Column once more again for Motty those comments would overwhelmingly beautiful and positive. Because that’s what happens when death brings perspective. I hope.
(Side note: I have no hope. Football fans are now 90% online and only care about results because it means they either can or can’t “cook” opposition fans.)
To a degree lesser or more depending on who you are, these people narrate moments we live with forever. Moments we cherish. Moments of despair too. Their voices will always be commentating on those clips. 100 years from now. Not a bad legacy.
But Johnny Nic? He opened Pandora’s Box and he’s never been the same since.
Brian Morrissey. ( Where have all the 2 footed freekick takers gone?) Waterford. Ireland
Punk rock football
I wrote to the mailbox after the Leicester match saying that I thought Ten Hag was attempting Total Football with some controlled chaos. After last night’s match I see no reason to change that opinion.
In fact, I’d say that if Klopp is Heavy Metal, then Ten Hag is pure Punk Rock.
DIY, on-the-fly, play the instruments in a different way and “borrow” the instruments you don’t have.
Xavi, who is no mug, looked genuinely shocked on the sideline at what he was seeing from United in the 2nd half. Ten Hag basically pi$$ed all over his strategy and half-time talk.
I counted at least 4 different United players playing No.10 during the match. I saw AWB pop up on the left wing and midfield. At one point Varane was the furthest man forward. Then thrown on a maligned lad who hasn’t played for weeks to score the winner. Barca were lulled into a false sense in the 1st half, then hit from every angle in the 2nd.
None of this seems logical, but yet the United players now (finally) are working to a plan, even if it is a plan of chaos that only they understand.
Of course I’m bias, but it really is genius. There is no way, as the opposition, that you can prepare to strategise against or counter it, either before or during a match.
Total Football, Ten Hag, Punk Rock.
And just how did Fred become Joe Strummer?
The joy is back, and I’m lovin’ it!
…After the game today I thought I’d go back to the mailbox after we lost 4-0 to Brentford.
Back then people were actually calling for Ten Hag’s head 2 games into the season.
What an incredible job he is doing. I never thought he’d improve the team like this at such a pace.
Nishul Saperia (Hoping Rashford hobbling at the end isn’t serious)
…What a time to be a Man United fan. Historically United and Liverpool have generally not both been good at the same time, and I have to say, I do not mind if that continues.
Definitely a bit worried about how the season may play out, as potentially United will play 65 games, and 46 will be between post world cup and mid May. That is a mad 9 gamers per month.
Felt we were looking tired last night at times, so I hope ETH has overhauled our medical team to the same extent as he has the actual footballers.
Not sure who got man of the match, but I’d give it to Fred. Though by no means the only one, he worked his socks off. I was never coached to score a goal like he hit it, but good luck to him.
Definitely a shame De Jong did not sign for us, he was great, especially in the first half.
And so to Newcastle. Right now, I’d take a top 4 and a win on Sunday, anything else a bonus.
Oh, maybe Liverpool being in the Europa Conference as an added bonus. Even at my age I can’t seem to kick off my intense dislike.
Finally I think the United v Barcelona and Liverpool v Real Madrid matches show exactly why a ESL should not happen. It is the relative rarity of the match ups that makes them so exciting and such special occasions.
Ged Biglin (HCM, 3am kick offs)
Pull the other one
They’re going to need a bigger lever
Tim Sutton (United feel inevitable again)
Read more: The Glazers are going. Now the fight against Qatar for Man Utd’s soul must begin…
A pro-Qatar United fan writes…
I am sure there will be a lot of backlash once the Qatar bid for Man United gets accepted so I feel compelled to highlight why I am pro the bid.
Let’s be honest with ourselves, Man United will not be the last team in the premier league that will be bought by a super rich Qatari or Saudi billionaire owners. Tottenham will be next as there is no ways that hedge fund is not going to sell to the highest bidder.
Then after that just take your pick of any team that has ungrateful fans that are angry at the ownership of the club. So let’s say in the next 5 years there will be around 6 teams that have super rich Qatari or Saudi billionaire owners.
As a Man United fan I want to be able to compete. Currently we do that by incurring a massive amount of debt which is unsustainable (just ask Barcelona how that went). So why not be on an equal footing with Man City, Newcastle, Chelsea and likely Tottenham.
Man City has virtually owned the last 10 years thanks to their super rich Qatari owners. Atleast now there can be some competition going forward.
On a separate note, Man United fans have been angry for years about the lack of interest from the Glazers in upgrading infrastructure at the club. Now you have a new proposed owner who wants to clear debt, invest in new training grounds, build a new stadium and importantly is a fan of the club.
I am for this Qatari bid as it’s what we need to compete in the football of the future. It’s either this or join that European Super League.
Manc in SA
United fans powerless
Let me state first I am a very long time reader of your site and generally a big fan, however your article on Qatar buying Man Utd was the biggest piece of dross I’ve ever read.
I’m a lifelong Utd fan, grew up local to the club, season tickets holder in the Stretford End etc etc
Personally I’d hate Qatar to buy Utd for all the reasons you outline, but my main problem with the article is what I’m Gods name do you expect me to do about it.
Our owners couldn’t give a crap about a few marches and protests and I really doubt Qatar will notice either. We have no way of stopping it, influencing it or doing really anything about it.
Even if I give up my season ticket which I probably will somebody else will snap it up especially once they start spending the money.
I have no way to do anything about this and your article offers no answers or tips, my one choice is to stop supporting my club which means I lose out on something I love and have supported for over 40 years.
So yeah Utd fans with any morals are screwed
Funny old business
In light of the plans for a new ‘independent’ football regulator, I thought I would ask the question as to why they should be able to block teams from entering something like a European Super League or in a lesser example, block changes to a club’s colours or badge.
This is a genuine question. I’m not looking to meddle and I’m only looking for constructive answers please.
Hypothetical example. I own 100% of Arsenal Football Club. What if I decided that I’d had enough, was so rich I didn’t need to sell it and just closed it down? Would the regulator try to block that? I bet they would. Why? It’s mine.
I know I’d never get permission to repurpose the stadium, but that’s fine as well. Just leave it unused. It is mine after all. I’ll keep it tidy outside just because I can and would be expected to, but I’ll never allow it to be used for football again. Maybe I can’t? Do I have to agree to use it for football despite it being 100% mine?
I know this would leave 19 teams in the league, but surely that just means a free weekend for one team every now and then? They’d still have a 36 game season. See, I’m helping to ease the burden.
Ah, the fans??? Well, tough luck. Unless you own the club, why should you have a say in what happens? Yes football is considered different from owning a different type of business and I understand the ‘part of the community thing’, but surely it’s just tough luck if I own it 100%. Yes you’ve been a loyal consumer (sorry, fan) and I thank you, but how is that any different from me owning the very last classic Ferrari on earth and then scrapping it? Petrol heads would be furious. But again, tough luck, it’s my Ferrari.
The FA and such like will say they want to protect grass roots football and that money from the top leagues goes towards supporting the bottom of the pyramid. Bollocks. It’s about the FA and Premier League protecting their cash-cow. They do not want to risk any potential devaluation of their golden goose. To quote an article from the BBC – “The English game remains one of the UK’s greatest cultural exports, with clubs and leagues around the world modelling themselves on its success,” the government said before its white paper on football governance. Yeah, it also makes them a huge amount of tax income!
So, as far as I can tell, I’d be forced to sell the club (which I accept is what would happen in reality. But what if I was Willy Wonka rich and didn’t need the money?). Then the regulators, the FA and the Premier League would need to approve the new owners under their laughable fit and proper test(!) and probably allow some Middle Eastern country with a poor human rights record to buy it. Would they consult the fans? Would they f*ck.
I know fan power is played up as a big thing, But is it really? All the money comes from TV which is mostly watched by fans around the world, not the diehards who go to the games. The money from those people is minimal. People would still watch on TV, regardless of something like an ESL wouldn’t they?
Yes, closing down a club negatively impacts a community. But so does closing down a coal mine or car factory. It still happened/happens though. The government are OK with that.
So my next question is, why should I be stopped from joining a European Super League if I want the team I own 100% of to participate in it? I accept we’d lose our place in English football and not be allowed in the Premier League. That’s fine. It’s all about the money baby. For me on one hand and of course the FA/PL on the other.
The NFL works OK and they run a closed shop. Makes plenty of money for everyone and fans seem happy (other than when teams move locations of course – but they still thrive)
Before anyone asks, I’m not supportive of the ESL, it seems silly if you have ‘protected clubs’ (but again, the NFL?). But, I am supportive of the right to do as I want with my things. Football is first and foremost a business these days but yet normal rules don’t apply.
Passion, a sense of community, history. I get all that. I’ve been an Arsenal fan for 46 years and would be upset to see it leave the ‘norm I’m used to’. But I also know Arsenal isn’t mine. I also know there would be massive outcry and protests, as seen before when the ESL was mooted. Again, I’m not supportive of the ESL, not one bit. I do just wonder why clubs are so ‘tied’ to the PL/FA when they are privately owned entities?
Maybe there’s a ‘charter’ you have to sign up to? If there is, can you ever give notice to leave or is it like the Mafia? You can never get out?
As far as I can see, owners are simply considered a ‘custodian’ who the fans (and the powers that be) want to spend heavily but not actually ‘own’ the club and do as they see fit with it? In 1000 years when the world looks a very different place, only football will not have changed very much at all. Some will consider that good, others bad.
Odd world we live in eh?
… Does anyone else think that this independent regulator for English football sound like a skim by the UK government? Firstly, if it had any real benefit it would cover the whole of the UK and not just the league with money. Secondly, the times is reporting that 50pc of its income will come from 6 clubs and 80pc from the Prem. Sounds like it’s decision making might be skewed away from league football. I can’t see them giving a toss about what’s happening at Charlton for example.
The UK doesn’t exactly have a track record on independent regulators. You seem to be able to buy a seat on the board of one if you can sort a Tory out with 800 grand. The water regulator is letting shit get dumped into our waters, the energy regulator is letting British Gas switch off babies heat whilst they make huge profits at our expense, the NHS pay review board can only come up with the number that the government tells them and the gambling regulator is non existent.
And that’s before we get to the serious ones one like housing and financial services where some people can’t get insurance or mortgages because their home might spontaneously burn down.
But someone who went to school with a Tory will get a nice little job out of it and probably some nice business trips to Qatar and the like.
Alex, South London
A quick browse through Liverpool’s squad revealed the scale of the work needed to rebuild it. By my relatively conservative estimation, these are the players that need to be moved on / replaced / kicked out / dragged off the injury bed.
Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – both drastically out of form and basically complete liabilities.
Naby Keita – What was the point of him?
The Ox – Ridiculously injury prone.
Fabinho – Almosy the personification of our current woes. Slow, out of form, lacking in confidence and an absolute shadow of his better days.
Henderson – Way too slow now. Creater of far too few assists and scorer of not nearly enough goals. Waving your hands around and shouting a lot does not a complete midfield General make. Master of the short sideways doesn’t penetrate anything pass.
Jones – Just hasn’t developed into the player we hoped.
Thiago – Borderline, but again, just far too slow for me. And our midfield does not need more slow.
Firmino – No place for him in our 1st XI, despite better than expected early season performances.
Jota – Bit controversial, but way too injury prone for me.
So that’s a jolly 10 players that could usefully be shifted to rebuild project Liverpool. The £1.59 we’ll get for them in sales won’t go far unfortunately. Then we hope we can attract better players to replace all of them. Without a lot of the money we need to do so.
We’re a bit bollixed aren’t we?
You’ve got no history
Dear Rohit (lfc), Abu Dhabi. I’m assuming you’re about 13 years old and are thinking of history as being the time that you’ve been alive. Arsenal have no history? Arsenal? Good god.
Rich (a Liverpool fan)
…Hi there ‘Scouser’ Rohit,
So funny that F365 published my email straight after yours. Nice one 365!
Now, does one email represent an ‘outpouring’? “Admit it, you just hate Arsenal and you don’t like what you’re seeing. No Arsenal fans I know think we’re definitely going to win it, we’re enjoying the ride. Arsenal faithful”? What is meant by that? Arsenal are a historyless team? Oh without a doubt with 13 League titles (1 historical for being unbeaten an another for the finish in 1989 at fortress Anfield); a historical 49 game unbeaten run; 14 FA Cups; 2 League Cups (for what they’re worth); 1 cup winners cup (poor European record, I’ll give you but if I want to be petulant we’ve never lost to Real Madrid (only played them twice I know but a historical away win); one of only two clubs to score 5 or more at Anfield this century: Real Madrid and yes: Arsenal (twice).
Arteta was a good player both for Everton and Arsenal and I was pleased when he joined Arsenal. It’s called being a fan of football.
Finally, lovely Kevin Keegan impersonation at the end LOL!
… In response to Rohit (lfc) Abu Dhabi I thought I would scroll through the mailboxes that F365 have published since Liverpool lost to Madrid. I am very confused because I cannot find this ‘outpouring from the Arsenal faithful’ that you speak of. Literally not one mail is from a gloating Arsenal fan about the defeat. More or less all the mails were from Liverpool fans on all ends of the reaction spectrum. So, I will put on my amateur psychologist hat and ask Rohit, this isn’t really about Arsenal, is it?
Andrew (After years of getting spanked by Bayern and Barcelona, if anything, I have sympathy.)
The full set
Have to disagree with Tom. The Europa league doesn’t complete a set and you can “Win all there is to win” without having won it. Yes, Liverpool lost a Europa league final, but since then they haven’t actually played in the competition, so it’s a bit harsh to mark it as some sort of missing trophy.
The Europa League is below the Champions League. If you’re successful, you don’t play in it. Klopp also hasn’t won the Championship (a trophy 72 league clubs would happily accept) but I Wouldn’t criticise him for that either.
Alex Ferguson also didn’t win the Europa League (or the Uefa cup). Nor did Cristiano Ronaldo. But I think you could fairly say they’ve both won all there is to win.
Mike, LFC, London
Dr Tottenham will see you now
With Chelsea arriving at White Hart Lane on Sunday with just one win in ten games, is there any self-respecting and long-suffering Spurs fan who isn’t genuinely nervous that Dr Tottenham will be opening their occasional surgery once again this weekend?
Surely, this has to be a chance for Spurs to get three points and stay in the fight for Champions League spots? Doesn’t it? Surely?
Father Dave, Maidstone (THFC, RIP Motty you legend)
Kane was the missing piece
Thomas’ mail this morning had me thinking of something I’ve been pondering for a while: I think Man City not signing Harry Kane last year is a real sliding doors moment. To me, Harry Kane would be the absolute perfect striker for Pep: He drops deep, creates chance for others, roams all over the pitch and interchanges with other players with ease. I truely believe he would have been the missing piece that would have led to world domination for City…
Stewart, Pompey (RIP Motty)