Solskjaer’s subs and Leno’s balls mauled in the Mailbox…

Date published: Friday 12th March 2021 6:00 - Editor F365

Get your mails into…


Negative Ole
Yes they beat City the other day and played nice at times but… Seriously… What in the actual f*#k were those substitutions and formation change about today with 25 minutes to go? 5 defenders and 3 defensive midfielders against a deeply average Milan side. If that was against prime Barcelona from 2011 then sure, sub off Greenwood for Lindelof as well while you’re at it. But that Milan, at home, with so much of the game left. I don’t know what’s worse, that Solskjaer felt he needed to give that much respect to Milan, or that United STILL weren’t able to keep them out.
Chris, Barnet


Matic problem

There’s a common theme on Man United’s lethargic/worst performances and that is one N Matic. He drops far too deep, pretty much at centre back which allows teams to press much higher, resulting in chances or ineffective possession for United. His passing isn’t good enough to be on the ball and he is abysmally slow and has no energy, constantly getting caught out. Every time he starts, United have a poor game.

Milan played positively, a few comments were about how many injuries they had but equally United had a few, especially in midfield which meant Matic played. No Pogba, Rashford, Cavani, Van De Beek (would have played in centre mid), Mata (would allow United to rest Bruno more, leaving him fresher). McTominay has been injured previously which meant Matic had to play in some league games and was terrible as usual.

A defensive midfield option is required in the summer or bring back Garner from loan for next season and play him at the base of midfield, while he is a Carrick style DM he at least can move. If we carry on playing Matic, we’ll have more and more performances like Crystal Palace and last night.

Thanks for your time,
Andy (MUFC) (A Fabinho clone would be amazing but technology isn’t there yet)


Man United-Milan lives up to an illustrious history

Leno let-down 
Half watching this Arsenal match here and felt the need to write in after seeing Olympiacos equalise. I don’t even support Arsenal or care about their results but what really annoys me is people blaming Xhaka for the goal v Burnley. Clearly Leno’s fault but I keep hearing commentators blaming Xhaka.

And well I suppose ill be hearing for the next week that is was Ceballos’ fault and nothing to do with Leno giving out a sh*t ball to someone surrounded by opposing players.
Chris, Dublin, LFC


Gabriel’s goal
Best header since Richard Gough in the Rous Cup in 1985
Martin (leap, stretch, hang, DOOF), Peckham


Spurs conclusions
1. The last time I wrote in (after one of the Liverpool defeats, can’t remember which), I was a bit critical of Erik Lamela, and straight away I felt quite bad, now even more so; what I should have criticized him for at the time was an inability to affect matches from the bench and no more; tonight once again proved that when starting games he is an utter pest, constantly winning possession and evading opponents to break the lines, he’s been in fine form of late and is unfortunately for him, now seemingly up against an in form Bale for the RAM spot, although, if Moura wasn’t doing so well there, he’d be a good shout for the high press instigating No.10. That Erik is the last of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ alone is worthy of some respect but over all these years surely his wild swings from mediocrity to brilliance are a perfect distillation into a player of an entire club? I genuinely hope he remains in N17 long enough to get a testimonial, just so he can shithouse the entire opposition team and not get red-carded.
2. Replacing the entire attacking midfield with three equally attacking players on 65 minutes whilst winning was the most un-Jose thing Jose has possibly ever done, please let it continue….
3….and it nearly instantly paid off; Moura winning possession and Bale doing with the outside of his boot what most can barely do with the inside, seriously, that cross was utter filth.
4. Before they all came on though, I loved the sight of Ledley and his clipboard prepping them; it made me suddenly long for him to be first team manager ASAP….
5. I was watching with maybe Russian (?) commentary so may have missed crucial info; was VAR not running, as I cannot for the life of me see how Ndombele didn’t get a penalty; he megs the dude, who then can’t play the ball and stands on Ndombele’s ankle and brings him down, how is that not a penalty?
6. Kane’s miniscule drag back for the second goal was a thing of beauty, reminded me of Rafa against Villa….
7. I really dislike Joe Hart. haven’t seen Joe Hart for a while. Now that we’re in a final, look a good bet for another quarter final, and are out of the other cup, hopefully I won’t see him again this season. Which is a nice thought to end on.
Jerome, Bristol Spur



Where does Klopp rank?
Ok, I’ll bite Jerry. I would have thought it is self-evident that a list of trophies is a largely meaningless way of judging who is the best manager, because it completely ignores the fact that a large part of your success as a manager is dependent on the players you have at your disposal.

Take Pep. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fantastic manager. But you can’t overlook the fact that at every club he’s been at he has had the best squad of players in that league. Jerry lists Pep’s 3 German league titles and 2 cups on his list of achievements. But most people would consider Pep’s time at Bayern to be no better than adequate. Of course they won the league, that is the bare minimum expected. But they completely failed in the Champion’s League, the competition he was brought in to win.

That’s not me having a go at Pep, just an illustration that solely looking at trophies is ridiculous. Allegri has won 6 league titles with Juventus, the most dominant, biggest spending team in the league. That does not make him a better manager than Klopp.

I’m not going to argue about where Klopp fits in a top 10, but I will say this. I cannot think of another manager who has done what Klopp has done. To take a completely unfancied team, without outspending your rivals, and make them champions. Twice. He build Borussia Dortmund up, and despite spending less than half of what Bayern spent (who were often buying his best players) won 2 league titles and made the Champion’s League final. Liverpool lie 6th in the spending table (not net spend, gross spend) since Klopp took over, being massively outspent by their closer rival, Man City. Yet they’ve won a league title and the Champions League.

The only other manager on that list, who hasn’t had the best players or massively outspent their rivals is Simeone, who has done an incredible job at Atletico Madrid.

To think that Klopp would not have a different trophy haul if he had gone to Bayern Munich or Man United when he had the chance is staggeringly naive. There are a handful of managers in world football who could do what he has done. Trophies or not, he is one of the very best.
Mike, LFC, London


Mailbox: Klopp second to Pep? He barely makes the top ten…

…In reply to Jerry your metric about winning trophies is slightly skewed you are basing it on everybody is starting at the same place with the same resources which in football is not the case.
You site Pep but his time here in Germany was a failure in context with the club he managed the guy before won the double and CL and one of his predecessors did also he didn’t. He has taken over teams which were 3rd, 1st & 2nd so slightly ahead in the starting blocks to Klopp.
The same can probably be levelled at most of those in your list with the exception maybe of Simeone. I believe Ancelotti is excellent manager but not because of what he has won but taking on Everton & Napoli and making them competitive. Winning with Chelsea, Paris or Madrid their resources far out strip most in their respective leagues so winning trophies is expected.
I would love to see Pep take over Sevilla, Leverkusen or Southampton and win the league but it won’t happen. You cannot play his style without the best players and they cost so you have to go to the richest clubs.
In conclusion if you are a mid table team without the financial clout of others in that league and looking for a manager then Klopp is the manager you need. For the older readers Cloughie out performs them all.
Gary in Germany


…Whilst I agree with Jerry in the sense that if you were to make a listicle of the best managers in the world, based only on trophies, Klopp would come in fairly low. And while I disagreed almost entirely with the premise of Hong Kong Ian’s letter, I feel Jerry missed the point of Klopp being “second only to Pep”. At this moment in time, I genuinely feel that Klopp would be considered the second best manager(coach?) in the world, only behind Pep. And to simply say he only has ‘X’ amount of trophies diminishes what Klopp is all about – and kind of opens a whole comparison crate of apples & oranges.

Klopp started his career at a second division club, and worked relative miracles with them – similar to an Eddie Howe, or Sean Dyche. He got Mainz promoted, and then kept them up against the odds. Granted he was relegated a couple of seasons later, but continued success at the bottom of the table is hard work, and rarely in the modern age (Leicester aside) does a team go from the bottom to the top and remain there. He then got his move to Dortmund – a big club in name and history – but not on the pitch. Again, he built a team there. He improved the players, he implemented his style, and won leagues while delighting in Europe. He coached a magnificent team, and showed what an excellent manager he was. Again, this ended in smoke, as many managers do (Clough, Pep at Barca, Wenger etc.) and he left. His move to Liverpool was parallel to that of Dortmund – a big club in name and history – but floundering on the pitch. Yet again, he built, he improved, he coached and won the league. He took his team to the top of the world, and won the trophies to match. Sure, this season seems odd, but that’s because it is. Only time will tell if this is the natural end to his Liverpool career, or a strange blip in a strange time.

What the above highlights is that while Klopp might only have a few medals around his neck, he has shown throughout his career what a fantastic manager/coach he is. He constantly improves the team he is in charge of, and constantly meets, then exceeds, expectations. He doesn’t take your Bayern’s and Barcelona’s from the top to the top, he starts lower and climbs. He coaches, and manages, and builds teams that win. If Klopp had won the league titles with Mainz that Pep had won with Bayern, Klopp would be the best manager ever. But rarely does a manager win multiple titles with the smaller team they start with, but rather they grow in their career, collecting titles along the way – as Klopp has continued to do, improving at each post.

Pep is undoubtedly brilliant, and the fact that he started at the top proves as much. He is a footballing revolutionary, a wonderful coach/manager, and seems to build machines rather than teams. He has the medals, but he also has the current ability to build, to win; to succeed. That’s what makes him number 1. For all Mourinho’s trophies, at the moment in his career, he is failing to show that he can coach a winning team. Not just this season, but the last few have been the same. While he might be high on the all time list, he is not cutting the mustard in the here and now. To use only a history of trophies excludes the very idea of coaching. Sure the aim of football is to win, but in order to win, a manager must coach his team to do so, which Klopp has continuously done. Cream will rise to the top, and that is where Klopp currently is – well, second from top underneath Pep’s cream!
Neill (Fergie was other-worldly), Ireland


…Jerry wrote a nice email explaining why Jürgen Klopp shouldn’t be considered “2nd to Pep” in terms of the world’s best managers ..

.. by claiming stats/trophies are the true measure.

Gimme a break!

Pep Guardiola: has only managed already insanely-talented squads where he has also been given an open chequebook.

Mourinho: Real Madrid, Chelsea, Man U .. he’s a great manager, but he’s rarely had to struggle for playing talent. His Spurs side are only a mere 2 points above Liverpool right now.

Allegri, Zidane, Luis Enrique? Great yes. But again, WHO have they managed, in which league, and what has their budget been?

Jürgen Klopp took a battling Liverpool side from mid-table, to a Europa final, consecutive Champion’s League finals (1 win), and brought Liverpool their first ever Premier League triumph.

Yes he spent large sums on a CB and a GK .. but this only came after he brought in players for far less, and turned them in to the talents they are now.

Klopp doesn’t have an open chequebook, and leads a team in a city players would rather not be. Madrid? London? Turin? Or Liverpool?

Salary? You won’t get paid City wages in a red shirt straight away. You have to earn it.

Klopp’s the man!!
Glen (keeping it real) Stuart, NZ


…Whilst I don’t consider Klopp to be the second best manager in the world, I do take issue with Jerry’s rationale. Yes trophies is a good starting point, but some relativity must be applied in respect of whether a team was already successful before the manager started winning trophies.

As a Liverpool fan it pains me to say it but Ferguson is the standout as Man Utd were duff before he rocked up. Guardiola, however, just rocks up at well established winning machines and turns the winning levels up a notch. Klopp winning the Premier League with Liverpool or Bundesliga with Dortmund are bigger triumphs achieved from the shadows of Man City and Bayern respectively. Would Klopp have won more trophies if he had been manager of Barcelona, Bayern and City? Without a shadow of a doubt. Would he have won more than Guardiola? Who knows? Who even cares?


Big Weekend: North London derby, Havertz, Liverpool, Moyes

Getting lucky
I’ve never read a bigger pile of horse manure, that the email from Hong Kong Ian!

In order to justify Liverpool meriting their “2” trophies ( no self-respecting fan counts Super Cup, or Club World Cup as “trophies”. They’re right up there with Charity Shield), he quotes Quantum Mechanics etc. , and renowned Quantum physicist Anrold Palmer (Steve “interesting” Davis, another renowned physicist, said the same thing!), concluding that “luck does not exist”.
GENIUS, so the guy who buys a single lottery ticket, & wins the jackpot is just a “meticulous planner”, as opposed to the poor sods who buy tens of tickets every week, & have read dozens of books on how to win the lottery!
Or the poor soul who’ crushed by a falling tree in a storm, is not unlucky, but a “bad planner”!?
What a load of twaddle! You wanna claim Klopp is the greatest manager in the world, and everything Liverpool, from FSG to scouts, via medical staff & players are “best in class”, fine, just say so, but please don’t subject us to your Scientological theories.

If a team is battered for 90 minutes (e.g. Palace in their game against Brighton 2 weeks ago), and score with their only 2 touches in the opposition box, & win, that’s down to “a great all-encompassing plan somewhere”!!? Palace were unbelievably lucky, & every single one of their fans would say so, I know a few myself, living in London.

Liverpool fans are the exception, when they win, it’s cos’ they’re marvellous, result of years of meticulous planning (which is I suppose how, Origi scored an injury time winner, via VVD’s skied shot against Everton!). When they lose, its’s never cos’ they’re crap, it’s down to injuries, covid, absence of fans, wind, cold feet etc. etc. etc.

Liverpool had all the luck going, on and off the pitch, in the past 2-3 seasons. This season they’ve had bad luck with injuries, but above all, their quite frankly “IN C RE DI BLE” (as pep would say!) luck deserted them, which explains their current malaise. As a Spurs fans, I’ve witnessed the dominant Liverpool of 70’s & 80’s, Fergie’s dominant United of 90’s & 20’s, but never thought any of those teams were “consistently” lucky, Sure, they’d have the odd fluky win, but most of their wins were deserved. I honestly cannot say that about this Liverpool team. I lost count of the number of games I watched in the past 3 years, and were left thinking “they were jammy to win that match”. I’m not a Liverpool hater, quite the opposite, one of my favourite teams of all time is the Liverpool team with Kevin Keegan in his prime. Just cannot stand teams who over-achieve due to good fortune. This Liverpool teams is neither as bad as their current performances & league position suggest, nor as good as everyone thought they were in the past 2 years. They somewhere in between, a very good team who should finish in the top 4, and maybe challenge for the title.

So, to summarise, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own “facts”. Luck exists, undisputedly so, in all aspects of life, & football’s no exception. That’s a fact. Whether Klopp’s Liverpool team are a lucky team, is a matter of opinion. IMHO, they were, very much so.
Fred (Are Liverpool “back” now, after beating Leipzig, twice?), London


Review panel
I loved a lot of the proposals that Nick Smith wrote in about, especially the time and time wasting proposals as there’d be no ambiguity as to when the match will end. He did bring up another proposal however involving the reviewing of dodgy decisions, diving, etc… after the match. The FA in fact DID have such a panel, the infamous FA diving panel. Due to the number of diving incidents happening in the Premier League, it was finally time to step up and stamp out this scourge on the game once and for all. You dive, you get a three match ban. Simple. You’d see players doing all they could to stay on their feet and the game being played the way it should be.

Well, the panel was enacted and was used to immediately suspend two well-known divers who were renowned for their ability to go down in the box on a regular basis. Step forward Oumar Niasse of Everton and Manuel Lanzini of West Ham. Yes, these two gentlemen were the poster children of diving in the league and it was time the league put a stop to it. Well Oumar has gone…well who knows where, and Lanzini I suppose is still plying his trade with the Hammers although he’s learned his lesson I’m sure.

Once the league banned these two unprincipled gentlemen with retroactive video evidence, it determined that the problem was solved, diving was eradicated, and there’s been zero need for the panel since then. I applaud Nick’s idea of retroactive video evidence but apparently, diving’s no longer a problem.
TX Bill (besides, no player playing for a “big six” club has ever been guilty of simulation…ever) EFC


…Nice mail from Nick (AFC) summarizing what the mailbox has been advising for a long time – namely simple changes that will have a positive effect overall.

It’s worth noting that FIFA was always reluctant to make changes (such as a separate timekeeper) to ensure that the game could easily be emulated globally. Well VAR has truly let that ship sail, and with all the scandal surrounding the world body over the past few years, the time may be ripe for a new push for these changes.

On the other hand, the above requires common sense, and as Voltaire reminds us it’s not abundantly available.
The Big P, Vancouver

Five unwitting PL candidates to spawn the next Haaland

Alternatives to football
Tues. Never a penalty.

Weds. Never a handball.

…And that’s WITH infinite video replay. Whats the F-ing point then?

I want to throw my toys out of the pram and say I’m done with it. Really. I’m 51 and want to walk away from this toss. Its soul-destroying, diving, screaming Dante’s inferno of next-level dramatics…all the time, from all the teams. Retroactively yellow-red car that stuff and VAR WILL be adding value. But…

FIFA & UEFA somehow know the pull is just TOO strong for us all. Even when they are totally bollocksing-up something that was already perfect in its imperfections?

This is an Arsenal fan who was already committed in 1978, who saw the Invincibles…but will still watch with some self-loathing: (i) a crap team (ii) play a 3rd rate Greek outfit with (iii) a former pants-ish Arsenal defender who (iv) clears off the line twice and scores a towering header? (written 1.5h before the match).

Readers got any suggestions on other hobbies that provide a comparable (legal) rush?
Paul, Toronto

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