Man Utd must decide what they want from Ole’s replacement…

Ian Watson

Keep your mails coming, on any subject, to


What next?
James, Liverpool: I didn’t watch the Liverpool game so I can’t comment on your view of the game, however I pretty much agree with everything your email states regarding United and Ole.

The only thing I have to disagree with is getting rid of Ole because virtually anybody is better than him right now. Ole is out of his depth and this has been plain to see for some time. I was happy to give him another crack at it this season with his new signings but sadly the same old mistakes and lack of any definitive plan, style or commitment is very much apparent.

That he needs replacing is obvious but the question I think is, how do we replace him rather than who we replace him with. What do we want form the next manager exactly? Do we want a winner brought in such as Conte (for instance) who will be short term and massively disruptive? Or should we be looking to somebody who will build on the pretty decent foundations Ole has laid and build something more long term. That is certainly the way I would like to go but who is available to do it right now? Graham Potter would be the obvious candidate (and the only one available) from the Premier League but the timing doesn’t feel right at all. Do we look to snatch the next Tuchel or Nagelsmann as the young German coaches are looking very astute and possess all the skills and tools that Ole (and Frank) lack?

Until we identify the right person for the job I don’t think there is anything to gain from sacking Ole. He will keep us in and around the top 4 and that really is the limit of our ambition this season unfortunately.

I would love to think the hierarchy at United are working away in the background to identify the new coaching talent in Europe with a view to a long term appointment but we all know that it is highly unlikely!
Plato, MUFC


F365 Says: Leicester roll post-credits scene as Maguire nonsense punished


No defending the indefensible
It is pointless trying to defend that performance, as it will end up a poorer defence than was on show on Saturday (here all week). Even though we scored twice we were sloppy in attack, with bad touches and poor passes galore. Bruno had a bad game which meant a disjoin between mf and the forwards; Ole really should have taken him off and given VDB 30 mins. At least give the kid a chance when it’s not working, he’s good in tight areas and will speed up our passing around the box.

In defence, we were all over the place at times without the ball. We didn’t defend well as a team and Leicester sliced through us far too often. Pogba had a poor game in mf and while Matic actually carried the ball well, he was missing when we didn’t have the ball so ultimately failed at his main task. Maguire had a terrible game and let them back into it with such a simple error (although was a great finish).

All in all it’s not a great start to a tough run which feels like it will define our season. Best thing we can do in my opinion is to go 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 and try to tighten it up for next few games. Getting a win against Liverpool, any win, is important and will only leave us a point behind them so things will feel a lot better. Lose and continue to drop points in the subsequent games and it would be hard to turn the season around, given we’d be well adrift coming into the xmas period, which would of course lead to an obvious outcome.

Over to you Ole.
Garey Vance, MUFC


…I always find the mailbox a curious affair. A kind of football version of how we’d debated Brexit not so long ago. Everyone is taking a side. Frothing at the mouth. Nothing sums this up better than hashtagging OleIn or OleOut. Like Brexit all those years ago, both sides probably have valid arguments.

Nonetheless, I feel compelled to write in after reading Vinnie Pee’s passionate rant in defence of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. I am convinced at this point that Vinnie Pee doesn’t exist and is a made up stooge by the Football 365 powers-that-be to elicit a volley of replies to Vinnie’s ridiculous point by point arguments. Of course we don’t need Football 365 to put in some pretty parentheses telling me how wrong my insulation is. Or maybe Vinnie Pee’s email is one big joke and I’m just too stupid to get it’s sartorial parody. Maybe it’s a tongue in cheek rant of absurdly held arguments about those defending Ole?

However, let’s pretend for one fleeting moment that good ol’ Vinnie is actually being serious!

So let me go through the issues I have with mythbusting Vinnie’s arguments about how Ole isn’t the problem.

He says the players are world class and singles out Ronaldo not tracking back as part of the problem as to why United’s defence has suddenly become leakier than a proverbial sieve. Surely, it’s not too outrageous to single out defenders when trying to understand why Man Utd have suddenly developed a problem with conceding so many times. Y’know, defenders, instead of attackers! Why not try to understand and debate why Ole’s tactical system of using a double pivot in midfield has not helped given so many fans have raised this time and time again. But yeah lets single out Ronaldo’s not tracking back as a defence that it’s not anything to do with Ole!

So Vinnie is bemoaning the fact that Leicester only beat them due to worldies, dodgy decisions and just sheer luck. Are these indicative of all the games? Does he realise he sounds like an over privileged pampered follower, who is throwing a tantrum because the other team has the temerity to turn up and score a few goals! Where does this madness end? Crying over teams having the audacity to start shooting towards United’s goal? Get. A. Grip.

Ole has a plan. Of course he has a plan. Sometimes this has worked. Sometimes it hasn’t. However, to suggest that the long ball hoof to Rashford’s goal (OK that’s a little disingenuous) is a testimony to Ole’s deficiencies when it comes to having a tactical plan is far fetched at best. Just because something happened once doesn’t mean that it’s part of a plan or a concerted effort. I was intrigued to see if this was a plan or not and having had a look at the stats it would appear that Lindelof’s pass was the only time in the game that such a pass was made for that type of run. Having only watched the highlights of the game, the diagonal ball to an attacker making a run behind the defence doesn’t seem to have been a strategy that was used that often. But then again let’s blame the highlights since we seem to be blaming everything else.

Ole isn’t a novice because he’s finished second in the league. Isn’t that the point people in the OleOut camp are making, that he lacks the experience of mounting a serious challenge and questioning whether he has the abilities to take United to the promised land of Premiership glory? Have we reached a stage where finishing second is eulogised? This got me thinking. What other managers have led their teams to the glory of second. Hmm. There was Kevin “Id love it if we beat them” Keegan with Newcastle. Then there were the Liverpool legends of Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Brenden Rodgers coming oh so close. Maybe the roles are reversing and we end up with a United fanbase lauding up how they “nearly” won the league.

His defence of Ole using Sancho on the other wing is to compare Sancho to Mane and Salah, but then stops short of actually following the argument through. Let me do that for him. Mane has scored five goals this year already in the league, Salah has seven to his name with four assists. What numbers is Sancho bringing to the table then? Oh, wait, a big fat zero. So maybe it’s not too incredulous to ask why Sancho has not hit the ground running or shown his form that was so evident in the Bundesliga.

So at this point we now have a fan of one of the biggest clubs in the world, with one of the most expensively assembled squads advocating that Ole should be giving one of his players some match time in order to get match fit.

I envisage Vinnie losing it at this point like a toddler whose all cried out and keeps on repeating the same thing again and again hoping it sinks in. “ITS NOT FAIR!!!!” Every team putting in more effort against a big team unfortunately comes with the territory, that’s what makes big clubs – big clubs!

He asks how sourpuss Mourinho worked out. Well fortunately I can tell him. He got second in 2018 (something which Vinnie thinks is quite good in one of his earlier points), won the League Cup and the Europa League. Yes, he was not universally loved by United’s fan base but at this juncture it’s still a damn sight more than Ole has achieved thus far in his managerial career at Old Trafford.

Then poor Vinnie does lose the plot. Calls out Arsenal fans as being the worst fans in football but does not allude to why other than they make videos. Newsflash, most clubs and their fans take to the internet following the result – its not just AFTV or UnitedStand y’know. But Vinnie’s not quite finished at this point in his defence of Ole, he calls Bruno a diver (even though since his signing he has been one of the success stories of Ole’s time) rolls out the usual Pogba cliches of him wanting to leave (something he’s apparently been trying to do for the last 2-3 years) unfairly laments Rashford focussing on other things outside of football (how dare he not spend every waking moment in the service of Man United, oh and lets ignore he has been injured and in his first game back scored a goal) and that one of the all time great footballers in the history of football is now somehow past it even though he scored in both Portugal’s games in the recent international break and won September Player of the Month award!!!

He then ends by saying Ole deserves time. Well he has had almost three years Vinnie? How long do you want to give him?

Hands up everyone who like me thinks Vinnie’s not real, or Vinnie’s just writing in trolling us all, and the joke is on all of us.

By the way, I’m not in either camp, OleOut or OleIn, I just yearn for a bit more nuanced debating.
Mr K Who has spent two hours crafting this email that probably wont get published cos its ended up like one big ranty essay that’s gone on far too long. A bit like this signature!


Lampard could be the man for Newcastle
Been reading the mailbox for a while, decided to finally pipe up, was on break yesterday at work when I read someone suggesting Lampard might be one of the only managers who would accept Newcastle (I do agree Gerrard is likely to stay at Rangers, he’s 100% eyeing up Liverpool post Klopp).

But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve thought Lampard would actually be a decent shout, at least, for the short-mid term.

No, he’s not a top manager, we saw that at Chelsea. But he wasn’t woefully out of his depth either. Taking Chelsea to the top 4 with a transfer ban is a pretty respectable achievement.

But the one thing that, arguably, he’s probably one of the best managers in the league for, is working with young players. James, Tammy, Mount, Hudson-Odoi (who’s now locked in Tuchels basement a few doors down from where Klopp kept Shaq) all developed really well under Lampard, and a valid strategy for Newcastle to grow as a club would be to buy young, overlooked players from the prem and abroad, and allow Lampard to develop them.

They’ve already got Lewis and Willock, and quick glance across the league shows a number of players that could develop under Lampard, Van De Beek could return to his Ajax form, and he does seem genuinely unhappy at United. Maybe Hudson-Odoi would be tempted by a return to play time under the manager who brought him into Chelsea’s first team. Hell, I’m surprised nobody mentioned Max Aarons, a position where Newcastle really could strengthen, and it’ll be no surprise to me if they pick him up if (when) Norwich get relegated.

No they’ll not be getting Haaland or Mbappe, or even Dembele and the likes, but a strategy of getting young players with potential and a manager proven at developing them could be a good short term strategy to get Newcastle up the table, *then*, they can start going for the major managers and elite level players. Until then, the more I think about it, the more Lampard makes sense.
Daragh, Wycombe Fan


Matip > Maguire
Eamonn Dublin has apparently mentioned in the mailbox at least twice that Slabface doesn’t have the metal for it.

Sorry to be a grammar n^zi here, but … while it’s understandable that Slabface has got concrete in his brains, why should he rightfully be expected to have the metal … unless he’s some magnetite/ lodestone? [Confused]

Jokes aside… I know I’ve got LFC red-tinted glasses. I was looking at Joel Matip, whom I wanted to give away for a bag of peanuts last season, such was his unavailability due to injuries since the League title win pretty much… and seriously, I’d so much rather have Joel than Slabby.

Joel’s always gonna be the busier of the CBs because opponents tend to avoid VvD… And after not seeing Joel for 12 months, absence makes the heart fonder. I had really forgotten how good Matip was! Matip copes well with all that pressure, and still finds opportunities to pass the ball or carry the ball forward.

In addition, Joel gets into less trouble abroad, isn’t called up for internationals (he’s retired from Cameroon), carries the ball forward and passes just as well, has a much smaller turning radius than a tanker, and had cost infinitely less than Slabby (free transfer). He’s not much older either : by 18 months.

I could say more because LFC are currently flying high… but that’s gloating. Only thing I shall say is, Man Utd’s net spend under Ole is waaaaaay higher than LFC’s*. And just like Lampard, Ole’s gonna come under pressure sooner than later [if not already].

Good luck Ole. Hope you enjoy a long stay at Man U!

*Yes, unfortunately, our net spend is like 8th or 10th in the league table even though our wages are maybe 2nd or 3rd. Our owners are relatively tightfisted misers… but at least, I’m really grateful we’re nowhere near to bankruptcy which we came thisclose to in 2010… So thank you FSG for responsible stewardship, even though I would relish a big signing or two.


Do your bit, Liverpool
Liverpool need to see the bigger picture next weekend. It’s in our mutual interest to keep the Manchester United managerial situation exactly as it is, but there are some problems.

Atalanta are both good and not invested in this in the way we are. I don’t see them playing ball.
While City have helped to keep the show on the road in recent years (OK – it’s been in matches that haven’t really mattered in the longer term) – I don’t think Ole survives to the Derby in November unless they get a high profile but meaningless win fast.

And, quite frankly, it’s your turn. It shouldn’t be entirely on us to lose Derbies to keep the show on the road and while it doesn’t define our season, I’m over losing them. Please rest Salah and van Dijk for Preston North End the Carabao. Thanks
Mark Meadowcroft


Mendy not Ballon d’Or worthy
First of all I want to start by saying there are players on the shortlist who have been seemingly nominated for odd reasons, such as Pedri being really young, or Kjaer captain of feel good Denmark, and without these factors, wouldn’t be in, so there is space for others to come in on footballing ability.

However – I don’t think there’s remotely a travesty surrounding Mendy’s non-inclusion.

Now, Ballon D’Or is for calendar year, but I will be using stats for 20/21 as I don’t have an elite stat database, and will be using FBref, to compare league stats.

Keepers can be difficult to rate sometimes, as they are naturally a product of their team around them. Goals conceded? Clean sheets? Defenders also do a lot of work, and in the case of Chelsea, they play with a back five and a compact midfield, so you would naturally expect a reduction there.

There are some stats that isolate keepers though – the most obvious is save %. This seasons Mendy is in a frankly ridiculous 96.2%. But Ramsdale is also on 90%, so let’s see a greater number set. Last season Mendy finished the league campaign on 70.5%, 12th best in the league. The two keepers I consider better were 5th and 6th in this metric, on about 75% each.

But shot stopping isn’t everything. A cross stopped is a save you didn’t have to make, and this is where Mendy falls down as an elite level keeper, and something De Gea has been criticised for throughout his career. 17th best for cross stop %, with 6.3%. The two Brazilians again better, 3rd and 13th.

There’s also a rather complicated shot saving stat of Saved xG. I.E. how many goals have been prevented compared to what is expected based on all the shots against. 16th for Mendy, on a flat 0.00/90. 3rd and 12th for the Brazilians.

He does complete the most long balls as a percentage (47.5%), but with Alisson in 2nd and Ederson in 3rd, it’s not much of a distinguishing factor.

He’s good at sweeping too, 5th in the league with 0.66 sweeps per game, ahead of Ederson on .64, but we’ll behind Alisson who gets over double at 1.33.

Yes, he has great clean sheet numbers, and yes, his defence has been near impenetrable so far in the 8 games we’ve played in the league, but let’s not let recency bias affect our judgement too much. As things stand, Mendy is in a battle for 3rd best keeper in the league, because as I see it, based on a full year’s worth of stats, there are two clear winners.
KC (quantity stats are near worthless for defensive players)


Redknapp, Saudis and Santa
Jamie Redknapp’s deserves to be applauded for his honesty when it comes to Saudi Arabia investing in Newcastle. The majority of fans don’t care. He doesn’t care. Sky don’t care and the voice of the fans, Gary Neville doesn’t care.

The audacious hypocrisy from Sky and their pundits is plainly revealed. The Super League damaged their bottom line and so it was viciously opposed in a manner we associate with a propaganda machine like Fox News.

Saudi’s investing in England is making these guys rich and they just don’t care about the broader issues. The poor old Newcastle fans are happy and if the government of another country can do that, well then wave your flags and feel good about yourself because they people need something to smile about.

It’s also very funny to hear the pundits make the case that response of the ordinary fans to a medical emergency is what it’s all about. The essential act of human kindness, compassion and dare I say human rights was a real touch of class.

Jamie Redknapp presents the people of Newcastle as children on Christmas morning. Santa has just delivered some new presents and it would be mean of spirit to suggest to the children that all is not what it seems. The children can do their research, but what child wants to know the truth on December 25th.
Jamie, Eire


What a week
A billionaire takeover AND being mentioned in a 16 conclusions…

Newcastle are living the dream lads….
Robbie DFC (Ole in/out is bloody hilarious)

Newcastle United supporters, before their match against Spurs

Conflicted over Toon
It feels odd not wanting Newcastle to win. I don’t know whether it’s my selfish concern of their future threat to Liverpool, or misgivings over the ownership.
Aidan, Lfc (as ever, probably a bit of both)


Toon in trouble
So even after the human rights ignoring, financed by blood money Saudi state takes over, Newcastle are still absolutely terrible. The entire side needs replacing, staring with the manager, moving on to the defence and so on and so forth.

Spurs looked really good but they were absolutely invited to by the most welcoming of opponents. The score line was a travesty, there should have been clear daylight between the teams. Even Kane scored, which at the moment says more about Newcastle’s breathtakingly porous defence than his recovery of form.

And Shelvy is still a f*****g idiot. It’ll take more than £700 billion to fix that.

But quite a bit of that money needs investing in January or this side are going down to the Championship and the rebuild starts there.

Apparently Gerrard is looking with interest at the situation, which is utterly beyond me. The job to get at Newcastle is clearly the next manager after Bruce’s replacement. Maybe even the one after that. The new manager here will be burdened by the unrealistic expectations of the PIF but without any of the tools to achieve them. Stay at Rangers Stevie, win a couple more titles. Then come back down south. This is not the time.

But Newcastle need a new boss now whatever. Lampard is not the choice, he has no experience of success or of executing the kind of rebuilding necessary. Favre, Fonseca and Valverde are all interesting choices and maybe even ones who’d take the job, poison chalice though it may be. Interesting times ahead. But as the Chinese say, it’s a curse to live in interesting times.

Newcastle’s next manager will find out how true that is.
James, Liverpool


An idea for FIFA
Very few talking points from the weekend. City won as expected. Liverpool were again as good as their fans believe they are (and the media’s desperate need to cuddle Des Kelly from the mildest of ribbing; oh to live in Will Ford’s world where that is notable behaviour…), Newcastle were dreadful. So I thought I’d mail in on Wengers bonkers plan, given the IoC and other entities are pushing back now, but it does seem FIFA are keen to push this. Courtois made a healthy point about this last week, so how do we keep the cash coming in but give players less minutes.

my idea is intentionally left field, and i’m expecting it to be torn apart, but hopefully one or two themes could be worked into a real idea.

We can’t rely on the leaders of our international organisations to work towards the betterment of the game, so perhaps a more beneficial mindset might be to work towards finding ways for them to primarily get paid, that conveniently and tangentially also make the game better and the situation healthier for the players.

So, on the whole argument between Uefa and FIFA, i would hope for a compromise akin to what Boxing does, whereby ties can be fought for multiple belts in one go, with each organising body getting a healthy pay cheque. bear with me.

so, expand the FIFA world club cup. But do it by giving the various federations places for all their main competitions, eg: Uefa getting 2, for the Champions League and Europa League winners (not the Conference?); Conmebol two, for the Copa Sudamericana winners; CAF places for both the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup.; etc etc etc. Group stages of four teams, with each federation having both teams in one group. That would mean competitive games, but could also tick off the ‘Uefa Super Cup’ trophy in the group stages of the WCC. In my head, for europe it’d be 1 game (the super cup) being replaced by 3+ games for the Europa League winners (which they may well be happy about), and for the champions league winner it’d be 2 less games (the super cup and the existing preliminary round of the WCC) replaced by 3 group games? can we get the leaders of Uefa and FIFA to be happy with the winners potentially lifting two trophies at once, like boxers wearing multiple belts? Surely it has to be possible to keep everyone happy via money and attention. In a group-stage format you could also explore the option of an added group of ‘invitational’ teams, eg last years finalists, or the Uefa Conference winner, or reward a team for attacking football – eg if the Copa Sudamericana ended up being a 5:3 game, then the losing finalist gets a place in a bonus group of the WCC? Plenty of scope for the required back-handers in football to happen, and Real Madrid to get an invite. Dunno. Increase the size of the WCC tournament but placate Uefa by not trying to replace the same ties of their champions league, but make it a notably different competition that is just bigger than it was.

I would also call time on the Community Shield.

keep the world cup at every 4 years. a lot of the arguments for it becoming bi-annual seem to be that it gives certain countries and players more scope to take part; That was certainly the argument aired by New Zealand. it’s cobblers. but give those nations something of interest and pride to take part in.

i would amend the often pointless qualification process, when baring the odd example it’s a formality. to address that I’d look at other sports, and the oddity of football having ‘friendlies’. it’s time for test series.

The short term plan:. Take england’s current world cup qualifying group. Is there a need to have a consistent team play across those 10 games? Currently yes, to give Southgate a sense of rhythm. But if you broke up the games into batches and played against sides of a comparable level each time, you could select an appropriate ‘test series squad’ to cater for it. Andora, San Marino, & Hungary (h) together; England could name the u21’s or a variant there-of?! Inversely, a run of games against Poland and Hungary (a) etc, you’d name a ‘test squad’ closer to full strength. It would almost certainly result in egg on face for the top teams as they get things wrong, but there’s so little jeopardy in qualifying now there’d be scope to fix it, and even then there’s play offs etc etc. Who benefits from 50 games in the current group format for germany to top it with matches to spare; There’s nothing to watch out for and their first team gets knackered. This suggestion obviously adds a level of complexity for the organisers to ensure everyone has comparable runs of ‘grouped’ games, but it is eminently possible with a bit of spreadsheet work and scheduling. And F365 would get to draft ‘test-series ladders’ more often, to cater for a run of games of differing complexity. more clicks for you.

the long term plan. help the global game, and work with FIFA, Conmebol and Uefa to find a way to bin off all this pointless qualifying for major tournaments. perhaps have it that in their showpiece regional competitions, if you come top of your initial group you are pre-invited to the next euros etc. the remaining places are filled by something akin to the nations league. Qualifying is currently (seemingly) endless matches for the same old faces to show up at every tournament (and supported by a seeded system, and a play of system almost entirely reducing all risk). Well instead, have Germany already qualify, and instead play a 2 game test series in eastern africa; have france do a test series against the US and Canada. At it’s extreme, you could have the visiting ‘test squad’ of a nation play a local domestic team? Australia v Boca Juniors? As there’d be spare international windows for them, should they want to Germany could have a test series against France and England? Competitive, but as qualification risk is assured, coaches could manage the minutes played by their stars. Obv should a test cover a long distance, the trade off to the clubs would be those star players have the next window ‘off’ – so an extra mid season break? The federations would get paid; we’d get competitive games; the players needn’t be involved in every game. Clubs get tehir respite, and on occasion a random game against a nation to help their marketing coffers.

Alot of this is slanted to the western european football schedule, and obviously that’s not universal. but it’d be better than the current set up of international football windows seemingly every 5 weeks serving very little purpose, very minimal interest, and (currently) just knackering out the players of the more tenured regions like europe and south america, and not helping propagate the quality of sport in other regions.

You’d still have winter breaks; clubs could be placated that their international footballers wouldn’t necc be called up for every single international window and could be rested in some, and there’d be a sense of risk and interest because the stakes would be ‘test series victorors’ rather than a pre-assured qualification programme where fans need reminders of who they are playing and what the group table look slike.

NB this does nothing to reduce Football’s global carbon footprint. Though it could be addressed by the prize money for various federations to be spent on off-setting or direct tree planting?

Dunno. Just feels like if FIFA are going down the radical route of a bi-annual World Cup, the counter argument cannot be keep it as it is. So this is my ludicrous alternative. Hoping there’s some scalable ideas in it.
Tom G


Nev in Miami
Can someone please explain the situation with Phil Neville and Inter Miami? Surely Beckham has to let him go now? Went on a rant about referring standards and then promptly lost four-nil to a team just above them in the table. Inter Miami are currently nine points off a play-off spot with five games to go. Neville’s record with the English women’s team was shambolic towards the end and given his relative inexperience, why is he still leading one of the most intriguing projects in world football?
Arnab P, LFC, Kolkata (Ballon d’or as serious as the Oscars if Sterling, Mount, Neymar, Mahrez and Modric were considered to have had a better 2020/21 than Edouard Mendy)