Man Utd success not sitting well with rival supporters…

Date published: Monday 4th January 2021 2:24

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

Keep your mails coming to


Man Utd success not sitting well with rivals…
I am used to reading Pool fans go on about net spend and use that as a stick to beat Ole with, so was surprised to see it was an Arsenal fan this time.

As a United fan, we know United have spent a lot ever since SAF retired, however most of the big spending was on vanity signings that Woodward bought often against the managers wishes, coz these big names would sell shirts and make his other job on the commercial side a lot more easier. Once Ole showed up and United started buying somewhat sensibly, the team was a mess. We had a lot of overpaid player, who didnt fit the playing style, the league or were past their prime and the team didn’t even seem like they were trying.

Currently United have a deep team that needed a couple of quality players, namely a fast paced (non injury prone) CB, a quality Defensive Mid and a right winger.
Instead United got Van de Beek, who plays the same position as Fernandes, which again seems like a Woody signing, given Ole doesn’t seem interested in playing him. No CB or defensive mid and the only good signing has been Telles.Even last summer, Woodward didnt sign Bruno and only did so in Jan, after the team was floundering and the pressure was on him.

At the window was about to close Woodward picked up Cavani who while he has played well (when fit) is past his prime and was looking for a payday (the Woodward special), probably coz he will sell shirts and then brought in two kids in Amad Diallo & Facundo Pellistri who are probably a year or two away from actually contributing to the team.

Contrast this with how Lampard has been backed this season or how Pep was backed when he first came in at City and you can see why United fans are frustrated. Its even more frustrating that United are not spending given they are the richest club in the CB and have the resources to do so. That being said given we are currently in the title race is fantastic for us this experience will be invaluable to the team.

Best of all United are playing fantastic to watch football (something missing during Moyes, Van Gaal and Jose), so United fans are quite happy, which does not seem to be sitting well with opposition fans.


Another day, another rival fan that takes issue with Man United fans claiming that Ole hasn’t been backed. Man United 2020 summer transfer investment into the first team= 34 mil on VdB, 12 mil on Telles, Cavani – free (plus two 18 year olds who likely will play mostly in the under-23s this season). Let me quickly contrast this to the entire team bought by Chelsea, or the 125 mil Guardiola has thrown at CB, or Tottenham spending 100 mil, or Liverpool strengthening a title winning squad with Jota and Thiago, or even Arteta who was allowed to spend 84 mil on Gabriel and Partey.

All these managers spend far more than the 46 mil that Ole received to strengthen the first-team squad in the summer. No United fan I know is saying that United haven’t spent. Of course we have (last year). After finishing third, the manager should have been given the signings he needed to take us to first. I am at a loss to understanding why our rival fans have such a big issue when we point out that maybe Ed Woodward should have done better in the summer window which was spent entirely on the soap opera that was the failed Sancho pursuit.
MM, Man United, India


Lampard’s days are numbered…
While a loss against City shouldn’t and won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back with regards to Abramovich’s patience with Lampard, it does appear the Chelsea’s manager’s days are numbered. At times recently, I’ve had trouble distinguishing the football being played under Lampard from what was served up under Sarri. Lots of side to side passing with little movement off the ball. Aimless crossing seems to be a new thing, although we didn’t see too much of that against City. Defensive issues seem to have returned, with players’ heads dropping after the first goal, and for large stretches of the past few games Chelsea have looked pretty clueless offensively, despite boasting a wealth of attacking talent. If I recall correctly, Mourinho once said he doesn’t spend too much time in training focusing on attacking, preferring instead to rely on the players’ own creativity to shine during the matches. If so, it certainly seems that is what Lampard is doing.

In the 19/20 season Chelsea didn’t have a great time from December onwards either, winning 3, drawing 1, and losing 3 of their 7 games until the FA Cup 3rd Round. This year, one of those wins has become a loss, with the record reading 2 won, 1 drawn, and 4 lost of their 7 games. Performances and results last year started to improve slightly after December, with Giroud reinstated to the team in place of Abraham and culminating with the 4-0 against Everton just before lockdown. It was recognised internally as the best performance so far, and it really felt at the time that the team had turned a corner. Looking at Werner, you feel that perhaps Lampard needs to do the same thing again. Abraham can be frustrating at times but his record speaks for himself, and Giroud is just amazing. I love him. Let Werner have a rest and give the team a focal point to build around. I’d love to see Havertz and Pulisic closer to a target man.

Personally, I’d like Lampard given the time to try and turn things around, and allow him to be judged at the end of the season. Unfortunately, I’m not Abramovich. While the evidence so far seems to point towards the club leaning towards a less volatile 3-year plan model, we’ve seen the trigger finger too many times before not to expect it when things go south. On the plus side, my drinking game of a shot whenever Chelsea score or concede three goals in honour of the sponsor is proving a hit.


Lampard and project management
Interesting Dan Storey’s reference to Frank as a project manager and the juxtaposition of Chelsea’s hire and fire success. But what’s missing is context, the team had a quorum of players who literally ran and drove the team in absence of a manager. Throughout that time the model relied on Cech, Terry, Lampard, Drogba and Hazard with cameos from Cole, Ballack, Essien.

Lampard has yet to play his first 11 and its January, yesterday saw James out and an unfit Havertz on the bench. This was the first time his first choice front 3 have appeared together and then it was a Ziyech lacking any form of match fitness. Yesterday was men vs boys, but against a City side that was signed for almost the same money but missing 7 players.

I don’t know whether Frank can turn this round, but this is a new place for Chelsea and hire and fire isn’t the answer. So a new project manager may be required (Prince 2 or Agile need only apply,(PM in joke there) but I’m willing to miss out on CL and Europa to give Frank a chance to turn it. It’s been a weird season for a lot of teams, maybe patience is the answer.
P Didi


Cavani and Suarez
In reply to AY: I never equated Cavani’s actions with those of Suarez – I said that they were similar in that the same word was used

I never accused the man united old boys “Pundit Club” of selective morality / double standards. I merely enquired why they were so silent on the issue and suggested possible reasons – I actually do think it’s double standards, but that’s just me.

No idea why you mentioned that you are a black man but for the record I am not white either.

PS. I am typing this slowly, so you can understand it easier.
Heavy-D, Cape Town (LFC)


Leave Wan-Bissaka alone…
While I’m not one of the UTD will win the league crowd (too many dropped points against the big 6 at home), I am definitely glad we have moved away from the old Mourinho/Van Gaal tactic of ‘hoof the ball to Fellaini’ and see what happens. Of course Ole is not perfect and is learning on the job, as well only being two defeats in a row away from taking over the mantle of ‘about to be sacked’ (which Lampard has currently taken over from Arteta), but the fact that we are now playing the best football since Fergie’s last season is cause for optimism and a sign of progress. The money it has taken to get us here is irrelevant, as 1. we can afford it and 2. It’s more of an indictment on the squad building of Ole’s predecessors.

Van Gaal ripped apart a title winning squad to bring in the likes of Rojo, Darmian, Depay & Schmidfield. Mourinho then criticised Van Galls style as a justification to bring in his own finished articles (remember when the Lukaku vs Morata transfer sagas were going to decide the league winners?).

Ole has worked with what he could from his predecessors, whilst upgrading where necessary, whilst phasing out the unnecessary. One of those was AWB, who for all his detractors is currently 2 and a half years into a professional career. Think about that, he’s only been playing at the top level for just 2 1/2 years! How long do you think he needs to work on his crossing before he turns into Trent – 5 months? The kid is still learning and with experience his positioning/crossing/chemistry with attacking players will no doubt improve, but to call him out so early in his career is ludicrous.

Give the kid a break, his defensive attributes are only matched by Eric Bailey in our squad (suddenly the 2nd coming) and for all his ‘mistakes’ leading to goals, there are more than enough tackles and blocks to compensate for a player who’s best years are a long way ahead of him.

Luke Shaw on the other hand…. Well lets just say most of the goals we concede have a point where you can pause the opposition build up and see him ball watching….. but that’s another email for another day.
Omer. Lots of love and wishing a much better 2021 to all (stay strong wherever you are and whatever you’re doing).



Truth vs Perspective
Notwithstanding the fact that Man United have had a few soft penalties over the season, I was intrigued to hear how certain Dean Smith and even Douglas Luiz seemed to be in their comments that it wasn’t a penalty and Pogba had tripped over his own feet, against Villa. At the time I was ready to concede that the ref (and VAR) had actually made the mistake. But then on MOTD, Linekar and co showed very clearly with a close up camera angle that there was a clear moment of contact between Douglas Luis and Pogba and that’s what made Pogba trip over his own calf.  Given that this footage exists, and makes the truth apparent, I wonder why managers and players go out and insist on the contrary. Surely Douglas Luiz knows he made contact and that would have been picked up in the camera. And presumably Dean Smith has access to the same footage. So why go out and put your own credibility on the line? I can understand if either a player who wins a pen or the one who concedes it argues about the severity of the contact – I remember Bruno winning a very soft penalty earlier in the season. I can also understand the misplaced ire of fans venting on social media. But for the player and manager to argue what is blatantly wrong seems odd. Thoughts? Perhaps these are the reasons why a team should get 3 VAR reviews a game or something similar to cricket – it’s more likely to keep both sides honest.
Ved Sen (MUFC) 


Timo Werner…
Timo Werner clearly doesn’t read the mailbox but he needs to.

I remember a mailboxer asking last year why corner takers always place the ball right at the edge of the available area. I replied to mention that it stops the risk of kicking the corner flag and looking like a complete muppet.
Jon, Cape Town (have taken more corners than Timo Werners had hot dinners and I never kicked the corner flag once)


Vaccinate Premier League players first
During this difficult time, it is obvious how important football is to our national health. In the climate of footballers breaking the so called COVID rules and managers allegedly defending them the only solution to ensure the continuation of our national game is to vaccinate the professional football players first. Obviously start with the Premier League players and work down, with a national effort and coordination we can have all the leagues vaccinated by February and our enjoyment of football can continue.
Schlomo Jenkins


Crystal Palace…
Dear Football365,

*A 2-0 win against a Sheffield United team adrift at the bottom of the table is not something to crow too much about, other than to banter one the Blades fan in our (virtual these days) office. However, for Crystal Palace, it followed a run of five games without a win, which comprised two thumpings, three 1-1 draws and three goal of the month candidates scored against them. As the comedian Mark Steel pointed out on Twitter, the worse the opposition’s form coming into the game, the more likely it seems that they will beat Palace, so it was good to defy the odds in that respect. Had United claimed the points here, the Eagles have to face a resurgent the Arsenal and then Manchester City in their next two Premier League games, so could have been properly entrenched in the relegation battle by the middle of January.

*An early goal has been a theme in recent Palace games, so it was reassuring that it was the Eagles who scored first. Jeffrey Schlupp, moved to the left of midfield to protect Tyrick Mitchell, got on the end of a move involving Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke to stab the ball home via a deflection.  The importance of scoring first to Palace cannot be overstated:

*When he came on, Eberechi Eze lit up the game, as he has done several times and will continue to do, this time with a spectacular goal. What was most remarkable was that he did not appear to be sprinting at any point of his dribble, nor did he need too many tricks to escape the close attentions of many defenders; after the match Oliver Norwood suggested he or one of his teammates should have simply fouled Eze, but committing to challenge him would have meant leaving either Benteke or Zaha unattended, arguably creating a bigger problem.

*That wasn’t the best thing about Eze’s performance. He was dropped to the bench, along with Patrick van Aanholt, because Roy Hodgson believed that the first half would be “a scrap”, and presumably he wanted the defensive solidarity the Mitchell and Schlupp look offered. When Schlupp had to be withdrawn through injury, Eze was the obvious replacement based on his position, and had the perfect opportunity to prove he could protect Mitchell while still offering superior attacking threat. Fortunately, this became the case.

Long term, Mitchell and Eze will both play important roles on Palace’s left, but they are both still inexperienced at Premier League level, so it is unlikely we will see them start a lot of games together this season.

*If that was something Hodgson got right, he made a mistake with some of his post-match comments. Prior to the match there were suggestions that Luka Milivojevic had broken covid regulations, having been at a New Year’s Eve party. Hodgson’s comments were a little surprising:

A fellow reveller at that party is believed to be Aleksandar Mitrovic of Fulham, who have had games postponed because of positive tests. I don’t claim to speak for all Palace fans but actually, I don’t think I’m the only one who considers winning football matches a less noble cause than adhering to the guidelines for restricting the spread of a pandemic. Show me a football supporter who wouldn’t, in a gameshow on an episode of Black Mirror, accept their team being relegated in exchange for coronavirus being instantly cured and you’re actually showing me a self-obsessed, lying, idiot. Hi, the Cabinet Minister of your choice, come in, have a seat.

If Milivojevic did it, it was a grossly irresponsible thing to do, and the club could have earned some good PR by putting him into isolation while the situation was investigated and/or a covid test came back negative. Regardless of how well he played on the field (and Milivojevic did have a good game), his presence at the match has put a lot of people at an unnecessary risk.

*Next up for Palace is the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup. Expect to see Jack Butland make his club debut behind a team set up to lose at the first hurdle.
Ed Quoththeraven


Are we doing goal difference or not?
Dear Editor,

Minor one, this.  FYI – this is not specifically aimed at this site or the mailbox – but I’ve seen it all over!

When Tottenham and Liverpool were on the same points but Spurs had better goal difference it was ‘Tottenham top of premier league’.

Now United and Liverpool are on the same points but Liverpool have a better goal difference and it’s ‘United joint-top with Liverpool’.

Are we not doing goal difference anymore?

Anyway, hopefully Liverpool win tonight and we can put this nonsense behind us – if we lose by 9 we’re still joint-top though, right? Right? Anyone??!



Bielsa burnout
I assume DD has not been reading the mailbox for long. I suggest he goes back a couple of mailboxes and reads my reasons as to why the notion that Bielsa’s Leeds team generally burnout is not actually true. I would also like to add that he should remember punditry is often lazy and can end up leading to circular reporting. Someone says something and it gets repeated so many times that it becomes the truth.

Bielsa’s Athletic Bilbao team got to the Copa Del Rey and Europa League finals. The Europa League is not the shortest competition in the world. They also got a similar points total in the second half of that season to the first half. He won three Argentinian titles (with two separate teams) and got Newell’s to the Copa Libertadores final where they lost on penalties to Sao Paulo. From what I see with most of the recent teams he has managed, he hasn’t gone a full season. So there isn’t data on whether they would have tailed off with him in charge. The only team I can find that he has managed for a full season that seems to have tailed off is Marseille.

Wikepdia doesn’t give much information on his earlier teams but I have found articles that talk about Bielsa’s history of burnout in those teams. It seems that the teams started to burn out after a season or two of Bielsa’s methods. So after Newell’s early successes (when he won two league titles in a row) they started to lose form. He managed Atlas in Mexico to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years in his first season. but the next season they lost form and he resigned 23 days into the that season. He was only at Club América for half a season and wasn’t at Espanyol very long either. He won his 3rd Argentianian title with Vélez sarsfield, but only stayed for one season. He has also managed Chile and Argentina (where he won Olympic gold and got to a Copa America final)

I can imagine when Bielsa got to Europe, someone heard about his methods and burnout, saw that Marseille had tailed off at the end of the season, put one and one together and got three. So then it became a “known fact” that Bielsa’s teams tail off in the second half of the season. And if it’s repeated enough times, it becomes common knowledge. So he gets to Leeds, they bottle their first season, there is a break in the second half of the next season, we all remember that “fact”, assume Leeds got a nice rest and then suddenly we get “Leeds got promoted because of Covid”.
Ken Lalobo, LUFC (sorry for the long email!)

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