Manchester United’s ‘lost’ 50 per cent can’t f*** off fast enough…

Editor F365
Ten Hag tipped to leave Man Utd
Erik ten Hag should show half his dressing room to the door...

The Mailbox shows the dissenters in Erik ten Hag’s dressing room to the door. Also: have Liverpool stumbled upon a 25-year-old Kevin De Bruyne? And Simon Hooper was right…

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Half-arsed United
If reports that Erik Ten Hag has lost 50% are true, I’d suggest that 50% leave soon so that we can rebuild faster.

Don’t care who has got the hump. Ten Hag frozen out a player that has had multiple issues across England and Germany with his Timekeeping and effort levels.
Seany (Get f***ed and get the f*** out of our club)


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Trent in midfield
I understand where Dave Tickner is coming from, but frankly I disagree. Apparently, F365 have decided Trent is not a midfielder based on one poor performance for England. It’s interesting you ignore the other games he’s played in midfield for England where he has played well, perhaps justifying that by pointing out the pants opposition in those games, but to write him off in midfield based on one poor performance seems unreasonable.

I think Klopp has perhaps unintentionally done TAA a bit of a disservice. Pretty early doors Jurgen identified Trent’s obvious abilities. He saw the range of passing, the vision, the technique, and quite rightly understood that even at 18, he could be a formidable weapon. However, there was a downside. Trent at 18 had even more defensive frailties than he does now and additionally had the physical presence of a dishcloth and the stamina of Pete Doherty.

So, what do you do? Well, at the time Nathaniel Clyne was injured and our backup was dross, so we had little to lose. And being a dominant team, it soon became clear Trent’s positives far outweighed his negatives. Since then he’s got better physically, defensively and tactically, making the equation even easier. But even today’s Trent still has obvious defensive frailties, particularly one-v-one. I think the reason Klopp has persevered with his RB position is down to a core trait of full back play; the amount of time they are usually afforded on the ball. Everyone is closed down in modern Premiership games, but FB’s are probably in as much space as anyone, and this really suited Trent. Give him time and space and he will hurt you. I think Klopp values this aspect of the Trent equation higher than any other.

However, there is a downside to being a FB – your distance from the attacking third. This subsequent negatively affects how much impact you can have on this area. Ultimately, games are won and lost in and around the box and you want your most incisive passers and best creators in position to make a difference. This simple axiom is why I think you have to move Trent into midfield. And that goes before some of the more basic calculations on the Trent equation.

He’s not a natural defender. This doesn’t mean he’s always awful defensively or even a majority of the time, but you only have to view our opponents’ tactical setups to see the issue. They always target Trent. Always. Whether its Pep Guardiola or Marco Silva, that’s the plan. Jurgen hates accepting Trent has any defensive weakness, but its bullshit insisting anything else, and his contemporaries prove the point.

Even playing FB, Pep man marked Trent when Liverpool had the ball, and this has been happening more and more the last 18 months or so. The benefit of the additional space afforded in the FB role is being diminished by the importance of shutting Trent down no matter where he plays. If he doesn’t get the space Klopp craves, then you might as well move him positionally and hope the kid can learn to play under more pressure and less space. It might take time, it might not even work, but conversely, if it does, we have just found ourselves a 25 yr old Kevin De Bruyne.

Would you play De Bruyne at RB?
Ed Ern


So Guy Thomas thinks that Spurs passing the ball around the back is boring. Well it might be for some, but aside from the fact that clearly a lot of Tottenham fans (and neutrals) find the overall approach not just more exciting than watching a Conte or Mourinho approach, but actually exciting then I suspect he’s in the minority.

I recall Darren Anderton explaining that the part of the football philosophy of the recently departed Terry Venables behind his Euro ’96 team being “you go slow to go fast”. Passing the ball around and retaining possession, making the other team run and waiting for their mistake to over commit or be pulled out of shape before snapping into action can be extremely effective. While they did have some dull games (Spain springs to mind), when it worked it could produce superlative and winning football. I’m more than happy to see Spurs try it and stick to it if the highs outweigh the odd bit of apparently sterile passing.
Dave, London

No disgrace in losing to Newcastle​
Newcastle have beaten both Arsenal and City 1-0 at home in recent months.

I really don’t think United’s latest result is really that bad – particularly as they almost snatched a draw but for Maguire’s intervention.

Very, very few teams will go to St James’s Park and outplay the home team.

P.S. I’m starting to think that the best part of being top of the league is the fact it really gets on everyone else’s nerves so much.

Yes, we’ve been pretty damn mundane thus far but you don’t get extra points for participating in thrillers.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


No Hooper hoopla?
Seriously? Just one email on Simon Hooper’s appalling refereeing decision yesterday?

I’m not a City fan and actually the draw probably helps rather than hinders my own club, Villa, but the insouciance the football world seems to be showing to that THAT decision is slightly puzzling and extremely worrying. Even Roy Keane seemed to shrug if off as “a mistake”. I’m sorry, but that was the most incompetent piece of refereeing I’ve ever seen at elite level. If it happened in a Sunday league match, you’d wonder if the ref actually understood the basic laws of the game.

If you’re not worried, you should be. If that is the level of refereeing competence that currently exists in the Premier League then sooner or later it’s going to affect your club. Just ask Liverpool.

An independent review of refereeing standards is urgently required.
Matt Pitt


City karma
As I understand it (he says, leaving open the possibility he’s got it wrong), referees were being encouraged to play advantage more often in an attempt by the authorities to clamp down on tactical fouling. While they may not have originated the practice, Manchester City certainly perfected the art of the snide foul to break up a counterattack in such a way as the reward of a free kick is negated by the conceding team’s opportunity to get players back into position. It’s arguably been as important to their success as Kevin de Bruyne.

All of which is a long preamble to say it was really, really amusing to see the referee stop play to award a free kick to Manchester City and deny them the advantage of a counterattack. I’m sure in time their supporters will come to see the funny side of it as well. Just as they will Erling Haaland adding missing sitters to his repertoire.
Ed Quoththeraven

Erling Haaland reacts to Simon Hooper's decision.

Ref justice
I am quite confused by everyone going bananas over this hooper mistake in the Man City game.

When I was watching it he sees the Haaland foul and blows his whistle and makes the single handed motion to indicate a free kick. At that point Haaland has his back to goal and it doesn’t look like there’s any advantage to be gained. Then Haaland plays an immense through ball but the Spurs players around Hooper were basically walking because they must’ve heard the whistle and seen his hand signal. At that point hooper has no choice but to stick to his original decision of giving the free kick.

Obviously if he’d done the two handed “play on” signal when Haaland was first fouled it would be one thing but he blows his whistle and points at the location of the foul. It would’ve been really unfair to suddenly switch to play on having pointed for a free kick already.

For the first time all season I’d say that’s actually a perfect bit of refereeing. Worth watching a replay again and focussing on his hand signals. You can’t blame him for not anticipating that Haaland was about to play a ludicrous through ball with his back to; Hooper is only human (unlike Haaland) and once he’s blown and pointed once it would’ve been far worse to change decision on pitch.
Minty, LFC


All as bad as each other
Lots of mails telling the big 6/7 being told to please go away (but ruder) and join the super league. Lots of anger at the big 6/7 and and we’re being told they’re ruining football. So I feel the need to point out that whoever you support, your club are just as bad. Does anyone honestly think that West Ham, Everton, Villa, Burnley or anyone else would not join the super league if asked? Would they not take more money if they could? If Sheffield United could vote to abolish relegation, would they not do it?

Your club is not morally superior. You are not morally superior. If you’re an Everton fan then you are to Hull what Man City is to you. If you’re a West Ham, you are to Cardiff what Arsenal are to you (and please anyone, don’t take offense, they’re just rough comparisons). If you’re a fan of a Premier League club then your club is doing all it can to maximise revenues at the expense of lower league clubs. Clubs are all as bad as each other and if you get rid of the big 7 you’ll have them replaced by the next big 7.

I also find it strange that fans go on about the big clubs hoovering up all the trophies as if this is new. Since the 80s, big clubs have won the league. Those big clubs may be slightly different but they were still big. Everton, Blackburn (The Man City of their day) and Leeds. Then we had Leicester in the modern era. It’s not even the big 7 winning the trophies, since Newcastle and Spurs haven’t won since Lloyd George was Prime Minister (or something like that).

Every single league in Europe has a small group of clubs that win the trophies. In England, we’ve had 6 different Premier League winners since 2000. There isn’t another major league in Europe (And probably very few minor ones) that has had that many. For all the praise of German ownership, look what that gets you. It could be worse.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


Leeds are massive
Nick in Woking might want to check his viewing figures and average attendances.

In a season where Leeds were for the most part appalling under Marsch, we still posted an average of 36600, capped only by the size of Elland Road. 11th in the Premier League for that season, only bettered by clubs with bigger stadiums. Most games were sold out regardless of opposition.

First season back down – nearly 1m tuned in to watch us salvage a draw vs Cardiff.

I think we’d be alright with PPV figures and attendances without the Super League clubs, mate. But thanks for your concern.
Mat, Leeds.


Monday morning’s Mailbox surprisingly featured two entries continuing the topic of the popularity/feasibility of English lower league football. Andrew from Canada specifically asked whether other readers agreed with Nick from Woking. To answer this question: Yes, I agree with Nick. I think first-time mailer Jeremy Aves made some good points about mitigants which would keep lower league football running in some shape or form. I don’t see this as a binary situation where lower league football is literally canceled forever. But given that lower league clubs are riddled with debt and are frequently operated beyond their means, expecting that lower league clubs would not struggle or avoid going out of business without the financial subsidization that comes from further up is (in my opinion) naive.

For context, I’m someone who has taken a particular interest in English lower league football, largely due to the influence of this website and this Mailbox. I have been to matches at all of the football league clubs in London, I have been to a few non-league clubs’ matches too, I’ve been to Bristol Rovers and I intend to go to more clubs’ matches in future (Tranmere is high on my list). My impression based on my own personal experience can be summarized as: “the glory of English lower league football is a myth” – in the sense that it was no better/no more special than random poorly-attended football matches I’ve been to across Europe and the United States. This is just my opinion, but it’s at least an opinion based on a reasonable sample size across many clubs at different levels of the football pyramid. To tie this back to the question Andrew asked: when I try to get friends and colleagues to join me on these lower league adventures, they are usually not particularly keen, if not entirely uninterested. I don’t think my social circle is an outlier; I think most people simply don’t care (see below paragraph).

Jack Saunders wrote with some numbers, about how League Two clubs average 6,000 fans attend matches “because they love their club, they love their communities and they love their live football”. This is true. Counterpoint: England is a country with a population of 56+ million people. If you combine the average attendance of the Premier League “bottom 13” with the average attendance of the Championship, League One, League Two and National League, you get a total of 1.35 million people. So another way to look at it is “97.5% of people in England don’t love their club, don’t love their community and don’t love their live football”. This is not a problem, lower league football does not need ‘everyone’ to care or attend. But I think it is important to keep the overall perspective in mind. Football fans massively over-inflate the importance of many small local football clubs to the communities which exist-around-them-but-largely-ignore-their-existance.

Jack Saunders went on to claim that this would be 150k GBP per match of revenue and that this is “more than enough to pay a squad of 20 guys a full time wage to play football”, and that this is “all a football club actually needs to survive as an ongoing concern”. I found this suggestion very funny. No need to pay for any equipment, no need to pay for match stewards/turnstile operators/catering staff, no need to pay for policing, no need to pay vendors for the food/drink sold. “All revenue = profit!” Thorough analysis, 10/10. (No need to pay club staff a “living wage” if you don’t hire any club staff at all! *taps forehead knowingly*)
Oliver (actually now living in Stepney, but will continue to sign off as) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
PS: If anyone feels that my impression of lower league football is due to me going to matches at ‘the wrong clubs’ in ‘the wrong city/ies’, by all means please share suggestions of other clubs people should experience first-hand as representative examples of English lower league football. I would be very keen to hear these.


…Not to belabour the conversation around the Big X leaving the Premier League to start up a Super League, it shows that once a topic goes around a few cycles, it becomes somewhat cyclic with the latest responses to the last email and not the entire conversation.

Andrew from Canada appears to think Nick in Woking is wrong by using a movie analogy to make a point. Do we go to watch movies because of the stars or the plot, direction, or cinematography, for example? And the answer is that movie makers wouldn’t spend so much to hire ‘stars’ if they didn’t think it positively impacted the selling of the movie. We watch movies because of the genre (assuming that is the plot part) and sometimes because of the director as well. The director could be seen as the Manager of the club; the genre could be the competition. So we can all play that game.

Nick was correct in that he was responding to a prior email from Jereny claiming that the remaining clubs would thrive if the Big X left because they would become the new big clubs. And the reality is that there is a limited supply of funds going around. So if a Super League hoovered up a huge chunk of sponsorship and TV revenues, then that would leave less for Premier League 2.0 and the UEFA competitions when the next round of deals came due.

And the football league pyramid, which Jeremy says could withstand the Big X leaving misses the overall downward trend of revenues in the EFL. The Championship clubs are a basket case and hugely indebted – paying 125% of revenues on player wages alone. Clearly, the effort to get into the PL takes its toll. Even League 1 has seen player wages exceed revenues, while League 2 has kept them to around 80%. But make no mistake, if the Big x left, the money that trickles down from the EPL would be reduced. Today, that is 15% of the EPL’s income, which equates to some £500, while the EFL only earns £130+ from its own media rights, sponsorships, etc.

The irony is that Andrew probably can’t easily watch games below the Premier League but can watch the Big X whenever he likes. They are a global brand. Take away the Big X, and the Premier League 2.0 matchups become the equivalent of Indie films. Followed by a few avid followers, while the odd match will get broader applause. In the meantime, the big directors, actors and genres will still get the bulk of the investment.

The reality is that EPL didn’t have a rule that disallowed such a venture when it first arose, hence not being able to charge the clubs with points deductions, etc., as emailers from Everton, have raised. But the new rules prevent it. At least prevent being in a Super League and the Premier League. Besides, it was the Spanish and Italian clubs who saw the idea of a Super League levelling things up against the state funded teams like PSG, City and I guess now, Newcastle, but more so to the pulling power of the EPL itself. So it is actually more advantageous for the Big X to stay in the EPL and maintain the competitive advantage over the ‘foreign made films’ genre. 😊

Of course, if the Saudi’s decided to invest a ton in Premier League 2.0 just to eff up the Big X and UEFA, all bets are off.
Paul McDevitt

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