Wenger should replace Solskjaer as a stop-gap at Man Utd…

Date published: Tuesday 19th October 2021 10:08 - Ian Watson

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline.

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Wenger for United
How about Wenger as a left-field choice as a short-term replacement for Ole?

The man obviously has bundles of experience, will play round pegs in round holes and has the standing in the game that would surely garner the respect of serial winners Ronaldo and Varane. His down years for Arsenal are still a hell of a lot more worthy of the gig than Ole’s pre-United CV. I’m sure Fergie would endorse him too.

I see him as an ideal stop-gap until the right longer-term manager is sourced – someone like Potter, ten Hag or whoever else.
Brian, Wexford


Ole is too nice
Ole is a nice guy. He seems genuinely nice.

Fergie wasn’t, he did free blow dries for the players as soon as they took off their beanies. He dumped players so that the rest would know he would chuck them no matter who they were. Ole is the total opposite. He keeps players that he doesn’t want, so as not to hurt their wee feelings. Mourinho isn’t nice. He falls out with everyone. Pep, he is an assassin, you can tell, it’s in his smile. Klopp, he throws wobblers all the time, and that’s on camera.

The workers at a football team are paid so much they can sit back and laugh at a nice guy. They will listen, yes, because he’s nice, but then head off out and do their own thing. It’s like Ole is your Mum, who will look after you when you are put in detention and Dad comes home ready to rip your head off. He loves you, but a bit of head ripping is also on his agenda. Ole is not your Dad.

The only thing keeping Ole there now is that they don’t want to get on the merry go round again, having messed up three times already.

The biggest mistake made by the Glazers and yer man who’s off is that they didn’t get Pep, or the German. Who would you have? Zidane will not manage well in the PL.

So, Ole it is, but he needs a hard man beside him, so he can smile and watch as a head gets ripped off, or a big name player gets his pan knocked in as we say over here. now and again.

Then they will listen AND do what they are told.


Johnny Nic: Man United are all icing under ‘just do something’ Solskjaer


How to fix United
I note the usual debate around Ole in or Ole out has followed another disappointing performance and very much deserved defeat. Those arguing that Ole needs time and that Sir Alex was almost fired after 3 years of his magnificent tenure are ignoring that Sir Alex had already proven beyond any doubt that he was made of different stuff with Aberdeen overcoming the Old Firm and winning a European trophy to boot. Ole has no such achievements to draw on or point to in his defense.

There are very obvious flaws in the way that United play – the two man pivot chief among them. Utilising two of your midfield in this way is often frustrating, even moreso when neither of them are any good at screening the defense and offering any sort of protection. The defensive calamities that ensue FAR too often are usually the result of teams playing straight through the midfield and / or turnovers in that area. It has long been a gaping hole in the squad and surely it is at the point now that the manager needs to bear the brunt of the criticism for that? It is for him to identify areas of the pitch that need attention and also highlight his preferred options in the role(s). That we are still sitting with McFred and Matic as our only viable options in that role (or anything remotely like that role) is beyond a joke now.

The other main area of concern over the past number of years is the lack of threat down the right. Having the defensively sound(ish) AWB at RB means all of that thrust has to come from the right winger. So they finally sign Sancho for £73m and where does Ole play him? On the left of course, shunted out there along with Martial, Rashford, Pogba, Bruno on occasion. Why sign someone with so much talent to finally solve the right wing crisis then stick him on the left?…..

Well the answer lies in the magnificent performance against Leeds earlier in the season in my view. Young Dan James was deployed on the right, Pogba was immense on the Left and Mason Greenwood was fantastic through the middle. Now picture something like that but with Sancho replacing the now departed James. Would be pretty excellent in my view. But we are now left shoe-horning Ronaldo (who I love btw, one of the greatest of all time and great to see him back at the club…but…) into every starting 11. Which means Greenwood moves back out to the right where he is effective but not as effective as he could be through the middle. Pogba isn’t being given the same prominent attacking role and Bruno has become less of an influence as Ronaldo is the focus of nearly all attacks.

I think if Ole dropped Ronaldo for some games and played Greenwood through the middle with Sancho and Rashford either side (or Pogba on the left) then you would see much more variation in the attack, much more dynamic approach play and a better attacking balance. Things are necessarily one dimensional with Ronaldo in the central position and that naturally stifles the creativity of those around him.

Having said all that a manager with experience, tactical flexibility and a better mentality would wipe the floor with most teams with any combination of the current United squad.

As an aside I watched the Liverpool-Watford match on Saturday. Liverpool were, disappointingly, rather fantastic with Salah being exquisite yet again. However, the gushing from the BT Sport Commentators (rambling about telling people where you were when Salah scored that wonder goal at Watford and mentioning twice that he put “four defenders on their backsides” – it was one) was a little overboard to say the least and was so ludicrous at times that it has detracted from an undoubtedly brilliant goal because it was nowhere near as bloody good as they were claiming. Very good goal? – Yes. One of the best goals of the Premier League era? – Honestly no. Hyperbole and all that.
Mangor United, Belfast


…Let’s see now…Shearer and Murphy say Ole was wrong to leave out ‘their best players’( meaning Pogba and Ronaldo) against Everton while Richards says it’s time to ‘leave some big names out’ after the Leicester defeat, No shortage of advice then.

Some perspective. United went 29 away games in the PL without defeat, largely by playing Fred and McTominay as a two in midfield, so something worked and no doubt they will be back there on Wednesday against Atalanta. Pogba can’t play in a two and should never be asked to- remember the midfield pairing in the 6-1 home defeat to Spurs- yes Pogba and Matic. No team plays with 5 forwards, which is what some United fans want and when tried, as on Saturday, can be exposed, as Matic was left alone. That could be offset by the centre backs pressing high, but as Rodgers noted United didn’t do that as Maguire prefers to drop off, which gave Madison loads of space between the lines.

So there is a structural issue and its bonkers to think a new manager would not play two or even three proper midfielders, with Matic or even VDB alongside McFred, so leaving United with 3 forwards, just like Liverpool or Chelsea ( in many games).
Dan Malin


Why are we being weird about Sancho?
Is the whole “Solskjaer played Jadon Sancho out of position” thing going to be on one of those football myths lists, along with Denis Law relegated United, Keane ended Haaland’s career, and Ryan Giggs turned down England.

According to a recent Athletic article, Sancho played 15 out of his 38 2020-2021 Dortmund games on the left.

There was also an earlier article when he signed that talked about how versatile he is.

The article shows he had played roughly an even amount of games on the right and left last season (plus a decent proportion through the centre) and that he was marginally more effective in terms of goals and assists when playing on the left. The season before that he mainly played through the centre, spending only 29% on the right and 12% on the left.

I get that Sancho was primarily signed to play on the right ahead of Dan James or Greenwood rather than the left where we have Rashford, Pogba, and (kinda) Martial. But I don’t think his performances so far have been because he is playing in an unfamiliar position.

There are loads of things to criticise Solskjaer for. This just isn’t one of them. It’s just a bit weird.
Dan, Pennsylvania


….To lighten up the mood surrounding Manchester United these days, I was thinking about how Jadon Sancho was yet to realize his potential, get used to the premier league, back to the level that was his when he was playing for Dortmund blah blah blah… But then I thought, can he actually do it on a rainy afternoon in Stoke?

Think about it. Dortmund seems to be somehow able to drain all the best youngsters in world football, as they are given the chance to play and most of the time flourish, and then sell them at a hefty price to European top clubs. But how many of them actually succeed in those top clubs? Let’s have a look at Borussia’s biggest sale of young players (so I’m excluding PEA, Mkhitarian and Gundogan who were already established players):
– Ousmane Dembele, to Barcelona. Did not exactly succeed. Did not totally fail either but is now a rotation player at best and lost his place in the France team. Not helped by injury though.
– Jadon Sancho, to MU. Jury’s still out on this one but not looking good so far
– Christian Pulisic, to Chelsea. See Dembele, Ousmane. Losing his place in the national team appart (but come on, this is team USA).
– Mario Götze, to Bayern. Did ok the first season. Gradually lost his place in the first team. Never became the world superstar he was supposed to become. Lost his place in the national team. Now playing for PSV Eindhoven, in case you were wondering.
– Abdou Diallo, to PSG. Rotation player at best. Was pinned to be the next center half of France. Nowhere near Les Bleus now.
If you go a little further in time, you can even add Kagawa to United. Not an incredible success either.

So my question is, were all those player actually not as good as everyone thought and is there just some kind of magic in Dortmund that makes young stars play above their level?
And my next question is, will Haaland or Bellingham be able to break the Borussia curse now?
Alex (that is one well documented email to prove Haaland is overrated) Denpasar


Pressing issue
Is “they need to improve their pressing”

The new “they need to show more passion”

In punditry/media speak?
Brian (BRFC)


Fans don’t care
Cannot believe I’m agreeing with Jamie Redknapp but Jonny Nic is completely wrong in his ‘Owners’ article. The vast majority of football fans (who are in my humble opinion morons, unlike the readers of this fine site obviously) don’t care who owns their club at sll. They care massively how the owners treat their club though, see all of the examples that Jonny mentions.

Using Newcastle as the most recent example it was Ashley’s treatment of the club, and mainly the lack of investment and ambition, that seems to have led to him being despised. Not that fact that Sports Direct treated their workers terribly. Or the fact he seems a bit of a nob. He was welcomed with open arms initially, as a man of the people (remember the pictures of him in the crowd, not a box, with the Toon Army, getting bladdered?).

The Glazers were despised from the outset because they blatantly wanted to force massive amounts of debt onto the club, viewed it as a cash cow and we’re blatant about it. If they had bought United outright and taken their pound of flesh but managed the club with the club’s interests put first nobody would care who they were.

And it’s why despite moral outage around the country that the Saudi’s are being let into football despite their human rights record, most Newcastle fans are welcoming them with open arms and tea towels on their heads.

Dylan (Everyone has heard of Karl Marx but do you know the inventor of the starting pistol was his sister Onya?)
(Struggling for something to put in brackets)


Johnny Nic: Redknapp rubbish on Newcastle supporters needs calling out

…I think John misses the mark in his recent article, criticising Jamie Redknapp’s comments. Redknapp is right. The truth is that fans really don’t care who owns, their club. They care how it’s run. Those are two very different things.

The Newcastle fans weren’t unhappy at Mike Ashley because he’s not very nice person. They weren’t angry at his use of zero hour contracts. They weren’t angry at the terrible working conditions of his staff. They were angry at the way he was running Newcastle United. If Ashley had been pumping in millions of pounds to the club they would have happily been turning up games wearing sweatshop tracksuits and toasting their success with massive mugs.

Every example John gave in his article is an example of fans being unhappy at the way the owners operated, and what they did to the football club. Those things aggravate fans. What fans are really not bothered by is the moral compass of the owners.

Chelsea, Man City and PSG are living proof that fans don’t care about who their club’s owner is, as long as they are running the club successfully. Newcastle fans are no different, and why should be? As long as the money keeps flowing and the team starts winning, the politics of Saudi Arabia will not affect their opinion of their new regime. And that’s not a dig at Newcastle fans. Fans of every club in the country would be exactly the same.
Mike, LFC, London


Anyone better than Vardy?
Has there been a better striker in the Premier League over the past 10 years than Jamie Vardy? I think when people talk about him they quickly move on to how he came from non league and gloss over just how good a player he’s been. 34 and still putting in performances like that, great finish for his goal and still hassling defenders in the 90th minute. He scores sublime goals the likes that haven’t been seen since Le Tissier and Bergkamp while having the pace and work rate that neither did.

It’s easy for neutrals to get dragged into another club’s drama and miss that Leicester were brilliant on Saturday. Leave Ole’s future up to the Utd fans and just appreciate good football.
SC, Belfast (Kane isn’t a striker)


Nuno’s hypocrisy
Never had many thoughts on Nuno. He’s bald, and he managed a fairly decent wolves team, and until he got selected for Tottenham, that’s all I really knew about him.

Do think it’s funny that Tottenham went for Nuno, a defensive minded coach when they just sacked Jose instead of going for Potter who’s Brighton are honestly great to watch, but perhaps a topic for another day.

Anyway, my lack of views on Nuno continued till yesterday, when I heard that Nuno was shouting for play to continue as Dier and Regulion got the referee to stop the game for the fan who needed medical help (glad to hear he’s okay)

Then I got into work, where we show the matches, and I see Nuno shouting at the linesman because Newcastle *dared* to play on when one of his players was down. That just took me the wrong way.

To be so willingly hypocritical that you want a game to continue as a fan requires medical attention, is reprehensible. To even want a game to continue as a fan needs attention is wrong.

I used to have no opinion on Nuno. Now I have nothing but utter contempt for him.
Mildly annoyed Daragh, also celebrating a rare Akinfenwa goal

Mendy is Ballon d’Or worthy
In reply to KC (quantity stats are near worthless for defensive players) from the morning’s mailbox, I want to tell you categorically on behalf of Chelsea fans that you, your mail and your stats are bollocks and you’re advised to toss it in the trash where such things belong.

What we care about and know though is the fact that Mendy kept NINE(9) CLEAN SHEETS IN A CHAMPIONS LEAGUE winning run conceding just the solitary goal and if that is not Ballon D’Or worthy for a goalkeeper then nothing should.

The 1st, 2nd or 3rd best goalkeeper in the league is also not a big deal to us anymore.

He’s our Goalkeeper and we love the beautiful man.
Tunji (Expecting more Chelsea reactions to that bollocks), Lagos


Head or heart?
Question for the mailbox, when betting on football, will you let the heart overrule your head?

My wife could never understand why I would spend a Saturday afternoon watching and listening to other people watching football and then I introduced her to BTTS betting, she loves it and tbf she’s never had a losing season (once came within a Frank Lampard shot going in rather than hitting the bar for over £4k off a £5, City 0- 2 Boro, FA Cup). She has her favourites, Cove Rangers and MK Dons spring to mind but form, league position, number of goals scored/conceded don’t come into it, 5-0 down with 5 minutes to go, “don’t worry, they’ll get a penalty!”. Myself on the other hand, do (try) and take these things into consideration, with about the same success!

But then I have a factor she doesn’t, my heart! Take Saturday, I entered my Super6 and went for Leicester 2 – 2 Man Utd, so logic says I should include this in my bet, but I don’t, why? Because I never want to cheer a ManU goal (I did once but that’s another story), so I can never put them in a bet, I can never bet against them ‘cos if they score or avoid defeat, it’s a double whammy. Back to Saturday, I ended up with 11 of my 12 teams scoring, my only other Super6 with both teams scoring was Villa/Wolves and they were included, had I allowed my head to rule my heart, the bank balance would have improved!

Do other mailboxers do the same? Did any fans other than those of LFC have them to win, Salah to score, clean sheet etc, can you bring yourself to do it?

Oh and thanks Watford, due to your complete lack of aggression. there were ZERO yellow cards.
Howard (same applies to Everton obviously) Jones

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