Ronaldo hasn’t fixed Man Utd’s defence and dodgy keeper…

Date published: Tuesday 14th September 2021 7:46 - Editor F365

Man Utd needed Ronaldo, but the Mailbox says they still need so much more. Also: the tackle on Elliott, and Salah’s standing…

Keep your mails coming in to


Ronaldo hasn’t fixed United
I remember having to play from the right of the screen on street fighter used to throw me off. Manchester United have signed an elite level talent who is used to leading with his right and has built up a lot of instinct from that position and played him on the other side of the pitch. Intuition and instinct guided him through slalom courses of opponents in the Bundesliga but coming from the other side, he has to consciously think about his movements a lot more so of course he’s looked uncomfortable so far.

Some questions; Why is he being played out there? Wasn’t he signed because they had to play the likes Mata on the right last season? Why sign someone who is world class at something and tell him to do it the other way around anyway? Wasn’t Pogba doing well on the left? Would the Dutch lad really have done a worse defensive job than him in the middle? Bruno likes to run around and throw in a tackle. Would he not be a better option than Pogba for the defensive work?

The team really did need Ronaldo. It will be him that will raise standards in training and elevate the mentality, not the manager. If that brings major honours with OGS in charge, then fine. In fairness, Ferguson delegated lots of the coaching and tactical work so if Ronaldo becomes a de facto coach, then whatever works. Just missing the ol’ tactics now, no biggie.

Also, Maguire has been at fault for at least 2 of the 3 goals United have conceded this season. Fair play to him keeping out Ukraine and a German team with 2 of Chelsea’s forward line from last season during the summer but Lindeloff has been hard done by. It’s not just a midfielder United need, Varane needs a proper partner and De Gea needs to do quite a lot to prove he doesn’t need replaced either.

Ronaldo could well have a Cantona-like effect but until the club or the manager employs someone to give the forwards some sort of idea of what to actually do and wake up to the fact the goalkeeper and the captain are nor good enough, the bookies decision to make them 4th favourites at the start of the season will look prophetic by the end of it. There won’t be a credible title challenge for a while yet.
Eamonn, Dublin


Johnny Nic: This is England and it’s ripe for Ronaldo nostalgia


Where Salah sits
I think Minty LFC may have just gotten a bit ahead of himself when comparing Salah to Ronaldo, Henry and Shearer in the “pantheon of premier league greats.” There’s no doubting his talent but I think we’re a bit premature in that assumption. Let’s give him a few more years shall we?

However, in order to be fair and impartial, I think we can certainly lump him in a category of “Premier League greats” named Suarez, Robben, and Kane. These gentlemen were/are certainly great in the art that “wins penalties” and we’d be remiss in not recognizing this outstanding footballing achievement.
TX Bill, EFC


Thiago’s time
In Winners and Losers, you said of Thiago: ‘This was the sort of performance Liverpool must have envisaged when they signed the Spaniard‘. But you’ve got it the wrong way round, you should have said ‘this was the sort of team Thiago must have envisaged playing in when he signed’. Finally playing 90 mins both alongside Fabinho and in front of VVD (at the 42nd attempt!), behind a front three somewhere back to Liverpool’s best in terms of movement, with fully fit full backs doing what they do.

But even leaving that aside, the idea that he’s only starting to show his worth now pretty much ignores the last quarter of last season, in which Thiago (and Fabinho) played the vast majority of minutes and Liverpool picked up 2.6 ppg. And even leaving that aside, whoscored’s ratings (not the be all and end all, but credible enough to be used in F365s worst XI of the week) made him the 25th best player in the entire league last season, with near enough the same average rating as Phil Foden, for example. I’d imagine a lot of clubs are currently hoping their new signings are going to be as good as Foden and among the best 10% in their ‘disappointing debut year’, as W&L described it.

Quite happy for him to be below the radar, just bemused at the context-ignoring conclusion of last season (and apparently still) that Liverpool had signed a dud.


Struijk’s tackle
There is a debate about whether or not Struijk’s tackle was intentionally harmful or not.

This is classic, pointless misdirection. How often do we see genuinely malicious challenges (particularly ones that go on to really hurt someone)? Keane on Haaland Sr springs to mind… and that was some time ago now. There are the occasional ”clever fouls”, of course, which are intentional but usually just to stop an attack. Those getting terribly worried about intent are essentially arguing Cantwell’s trip on Jota the other week was a worse tackle than one that has ended someone’s season. I suppose.. but the truth is that intent to injure someone is essentially non-existent when these horrific injuries come along. No one is saying Struijk meant to do seriously injure another player. Nor did Son. Nor did Shawcross etc.

Most fouls in football aren’t intentional at all but rather slightly mistimed interventions, making poor judgements or something that is on the edge of the law. The tackle in the box that is a millisecond late. The grapple in the box that goes a little too far. The stretch for the ball but the dazzling feet of the player moves the ball and you get the man etc.

So what about Struijk: Did he intend to hurt Elliott? No, of course not. Did he do all he could to ensure the safety of a fellow professional? No. As soon as you leave the ground with both feet – as he did – you lose an element of control. The outcome was a horrific accident of course but when you leave the ground like he did you raise the risk.

All of that sits within a wider context: the FA’s direction to refs to let play flow and to stop whistling so much will logically lead to fewer fouls (by definition!) but it will lead to lots more people playing on the edge as they know they are less likely to get whistled, less likely to get booked etc. We’ve seen that already this season and some of the managers of the teams at the top end of the table warned about the outcome.

If you look at the incident on its own it was a horrific outcome to what was to a large extent a fair tackle (with the caveat that a tackle from behind in the air is risky). If you look at it in the wider context of the game – where a number of Leeds players were on the edge and would have been booked last season and the season where teams have essentially been encouraged to be a bit rougher – we perhaps shouldn’t be surprised.

Hopefully young Mr Elliott mends quickly and fully. And hopefully poor Struijk doesn’t have this hanging over him.
Marrsio, Edinburgh


…I was devastated for Harvey Elliot on Sunday. An 18-year-old who had started the last three league games for Liverpool and has not looked out of place has really injected some excitement into the squad in the absence of any high-profile signings. Stating the bleeding obvious but Klopp obviously rates him highly too and he could well have been our secret weapon this year. I would rather have lost yesterday if it meant he is still fit & healthy.

My despondency has since been replaced by disbelief and anger. Started by the Sky commentary team and seemingly taken as gospel by every other media pundit, the party line is that Struijk’s challenge was innocuous. It turns out that he, Leeds Utd and the general football-watching public are the unfortunate ones after all, not the poor teenager taken to hospital with his foot hanging off, nosiree bob. Apparently “It was not a foul and definitely not worthy of a sending off” according to one entry in the mailbox this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there was no intention on Struijk’s part to deliberately cause such an injury and am not suggesting otherwise. There were so many things wrong with the “tackle” though that I had to, against my better judgement, watch the challenge more than once as I was questioning my own judgement once everyone started with the “it was harsh” narrative.

First off, Struijk jumps into the tackle. It’s there for us all to see on the video, both feet leave the floor so he is out of control. Secondly, it’s a tackle from behind, and thirdly he used the wrong leg, stretching with his right when he should have been looking to hook the ball with his left. Finally, his momentum and the actions described mean that he then scissors Elliot’s ankle with his trailing leg. Struijk panicked, was caught out of position and was reckless (and therefore a booking) at the very least – as a point of reference, the Laws of the Game on the FA website states:

Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned.
Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and endangers the safety of an opponent and must be sent off.

It was then the officials conclusion then that excessive force was used, hence the red card.

Take your punishment on the chin and quit whining. It was an accident, yes, but it was also a red card – ridiculous that the sending off is even being debated.

Yours frustratingly,
Duncan (Liverpool)

…Martin Atkinson and Burnley are an absolutely lethal combination for the health of opposing players.


F365 Says: Ryan Giggs in United directors’ box was tone deaf invitation


Giggs as a guest
I see you’ve taken down and turned off comments now on your article complaining about United not preempting justice.

This is no defence of Giggs. My issue is that presumably he would have been allowed (by the F365 social justice warriors – staff and volunteer) to attend the match if he’d paid for the ticket? Or are we saying criminals (or potential criminals in fact) should have lesser rights? It will certainly reduce crowding in grounds.

Or is it just because the Glaziers had him – as a legendary footballer for the club – as a guest? He wasn’t there to give an award or for any kind of promotion – it would have passed mostly unnoticed if it wasn’t for the media and this site making something of it – so surely it’s no one’s business?

This whole barmy train needs to put on the brakes. You remain innocent till proven guilty and even if guilty it wouldn’t preclude Giggs or others like him from attending football matches, going to the cinema, having a bank account etc. and nor should it unless their crime potentially puts people at risk.

Ryan Giggs

Does social media matter?
I’m confused by Mike LFC response, is he insinuating Bekham wasn’t a good footballer? Does he think Zidane wasn’t known across the world? Is he the social media aspect doesn’t matter or shouldn’t matter. This is entertainment after all, last I checked. It’s not air, or food, it’s entertainment. Unless you are Man City, where a middling airline always has 300m for you every year, you will need people to pay to sustain your success. People have to cough up, whether it’s directly buying tickets, or now tv money. I think TV money usurps attendance money , and who are these people Mike? They are the same people on social media. James3456 on social media, who made Ronaldo trend, is just 1 of the people who is giving a tv network money to watch Man U. The tv network then pays the EPL or maybe the club. All I know there 3 clubs where money isn’t based on popularity, Man City, Chelsea, PSG. Every other club is based on social popularity.
My point, if he is this popular, he is making a nothing match trend a whole day before ,how the hell is he not the GOAT? I think the world appreciate it more, just my thoughts. I don’t know anyone that pays to watch league A, even with Messi, Neymar and Mbappe there. I know al ot of people who got EPL subscriptions though.
Dave (Lampard and Gerrard were better midfielders than Scholes, hence were more popular), Somewhere


…Although I agree with Mike,LFC’s email about the uselessness of a Messi v/s Ronaldo debate (both being superhuman in my opinion FYI), I would like to point out the real effects of social media “clout”. In the case of Nike v/s New Balance for the new kit deal of Liverpool football club, New balance had met all the financial requirements that were required to extend the contract, but when compared against Nike’s offer they could not measure up to the “three non-football global superstar athletes and influencers of the calibre of tennis legend Serena Williams, basketball star LeBron James and the musician Drake”.
This ruling is revolutionary because it transcended sports/entertainment/music and compared all on the same parameter : Social media followers/clout and translated that to Financial might.

The reason I mention this is because even though the attributes which make a player great still remain the same : goal contributions, leadership, key interceptions, save%, shot accuracy, free kick conversion etc. Social media clout is now considered among those attributes by clubs and fans, because people now go to see Pogba Dab for 30 seconds after scoring a goal as much as they go to watch his mesmerizing pass cross field for Mbappe to score.
Sadly, that is the reality of tier 1 football now. It’s more entertainment than it is sport.
Let’s watch a local team play and revel in the familiarity of it, if we really want to “enjoy” football as it is meant to be enjoyed!

The smoking Gunner

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