No manager can thrive at Man Utd with these players. It’s time to play the kids…

Editor F365
Erik ten Hag on the touchline with Anthony Martial and Kobbie Mainoo.
Is it time for Erik ten Hag to ditch the likes of Anthony Martial and put his faith in Kobbie Mainoo

The Mailbox debates where the problem lies at Manchester United with a plea for Erik ten Hag to trust the kids. Also: the blueprint to stop City; Liverpool 2.0; and plenty more.

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Players are the problem
What’s going on at that club is quite clear.

In April 2019, Everton beat United 4 nil. This was the end of the season when Solskjaer took over. After the game, Solskjaer said: ‘If you want to play at this club, it has to mean more. I want my team to be the hardest working team in this league. I’m going to be successful here, and there are players there that won’t be part of that successful team.’

Fast forward to his last game in charge, the 4-1 debacle against Watford.

And now we see the problem. 4 of the players who disgraced themselves against Everton started last night. Eight, fully EIGHT, of the players who disgraced themselves against Watford started last night.

Ten Hag may be a goner soon enough. But the same players will be there, ready and waiting to throw the next manager under the bus eventually. Years of mismanagement and neglect from the custodians of the club has lead to this.
Kevin, Dublin


The kids are alright
Is it time to trust the kids?

Manchester United are really subjecting any fans to abject failure, and not just their own fans. We have January coming where we will likely end up with another Wout Weghorst to try and solve the problems because we have continuously overpaid for people who are not good enough for the Premier League, not just Manchester United.

If we take Hannibal for example, he offers far more energy in the middle of the park than the one good game in ten Scott McTominay. Losing Fred over McTominay was a mistake too. Anthony Martial should have been jettisoned out the door a long time ago too. The list of silly decisions goes on and on, but just imagine what the budget used on Phil Jones contract renewal, Donny Van De Beek and Anthony would have done? Hindsight is a wonderful thing but it wasn’t difficult to see either. Infact, i wrote in July about Harry Kane and Declan Rice but we ended up with Mason Mount.

I wrote in 2020 about a young lad, magnificent turn of pace and old school winger by the name of Jeremy Doku.

Now we have an oppertunity because this season whatever way we look at it is a write off. Omari Forson, Shea Lacey, and Hannibal should be getting more minutes alongside Garnacho and Mainoo. Save any winter budget for a Tapsoba or a bit of quality like a Thomas Muller. I believe even Dybala has a pretty reasonable release clause…

Sometimes life isn’t about losing, if you turn it into learning. And once upon a time… the kids were more than good enough.

Read more: Man Utd pair in top three worst Premier League finishers of 23/24 


Ten Hag’s failure
When I watch games I often wonder what exactly makes one player better than another or one team better. We may think we know. We get ‘insight’ from pundits and ex-players and the often smart breakdown from people like a Michael Cox, Jonathon Wilson et Al. But while watching a game…

After watching the City/Spurs game it is clear a lot does depend on the manager. Giving players the confidence and trust to make decisions many managers would decry that, over time, allows players to fully utilize their latent skills.

Holding the ball a little longer to be able to play through the opposition or controlling the ball to play out from the back and retain possession to slowly apply pressure on your opponents.

It also requires players willing to do the hard work for as long as they are on the field.

We saw the same from Newcastle.

Both Spurs and Newcastle suffering large injury lists and with player missing through bans (albeit Spurs having the advantage of not playing Europe in midweek) continuing to confound the experts by winning points.

But we also saw the hard running from Liverpool and Arsenal on the weekend – not just sitting back on their laurels.

And then we once again saw the performance of United.

For whatever reason Ten Hag seems incapable of instilling the confidence and trust for his team to play at the higher level his players should be capable.

It’s why we see players dramatically improve or flounder once transferred.

Are United fans wondering what-if they had hired Postecoglou instead of Ten Hag?

Postecoglou deserves huge praise for giving everyone of his squad the feeling they can play to their best. And many, if not most, are repaying him.
Paul McDevitt


Toon takeaways
It was a good week for the Mags: destroying Chelsea, drawing away to PSG, and dominating Manchester United in a somehow narrow home win. I didn’t write in about the PSG penalty because while I didn’t agree with the call, whining is always a bad look (cough, cough). Anyway, I’m on record as saying that intent should be removed from the handball rule entirely.

Outside of Sunderland, there’s no club I like beating better than Manchester United. Yesterday’s victory was at least as good as the Chelsea win, if only because of our squad status. I really don’t know how so many players went 90 minutes across each of those three matches. Remarkable.

I’ve previously described Erik Ten Hag as a dead man walking. I never thought he was in any immediate danger of the sack, and the fact is that MU have managed a very good points total given their scoring record. But holy smokes, does he look moribund. When Marcus Rashford declined to shake Ten Hag’s hand upon his substitution, it made things look even worse. If his players don’t respect him, how could he ever succeed? I don’t think the club wants to sack him, but the players may force the issue.
Chris C, Toon Army DC


Gracious Red Devils
Long time mailbox reader here and Newcastle fan. Just read the responses from the Man U fans and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. No mention of Newcastle sportswashing or their team being robbed via any dodgy decision making. Very complimentary of Newcastle’s performance, and critical of their own performance.

Very refreshing and I thought a stark contrast to many of the mails from Arsenal and Liverpool supporters when speaking about my team. And as if by cue, the next mail was from Andrew goonerabroad Brown, still banging on about Newcastle and VAR and implying Newcastle fans are racist. Salty much mate?

For the record, I appreciated the football Wenger’s Arsenal played, the football Klopp has Liverpool playing, loved watching those teams even when it was to the detriment of my own. But I have never come across a more entitled, salty bunch of fans than those from Arsenal and Liverpool. Entitlement that oozes from their pores, never thought I would be complimenting Man U fans but here we are.

Good to get that off my chest
Stephen (looking forward to more salty responses in the comments)


Give Newcastle credit
Why is it whenever Newcastle United win against the better sides, it’s because the other side played poorly, which, inevitably leads up to a week long media inquest, rather than just giving us the credit we deserve?

So far this season…

Beat Villa 5-1: ‘Villa were poor.’

Beat City at home with a 2nd string team: ‘Pepe doesn’t respect the cup.’

Pummelled Man United at old Trafford with a 2nd string team 0-3: ‘They were poor.’

Pumped PSG 4-1: ‘PSG will never win the Champions League’ and ‘Mpabbe didn’t fancy it.’

Blew Chelsea away 4-1: ‘Chelsea too soft.’

Beat Man United in the most one sided 1-0 you’re ever likely to see: ‘Man United players aren’t committed.’

Howe’s lads have been running on fumes recently because he’s only got about 2.5 fit players. Despite that, they have consistently delivered some of the most intensely committed performances you’re likely to see anywhere in Europe right now.

Do the right thing media people. Just say the much better side won and move on.
NUFC fan…the much better side.


City stitched up
Normally we only accept members into the “Jobbed by VAR” club that have actually been hard done by VAR.

But after seeing Simon Hooper’s performance at the end with calling the foul a full five seconds after Grealish was potentially through?

The committee has had an emergency meeting and special dispensation has been made to allow City into the club. Shocking officiating in the “best league in the world” No it wasn’t VAR but its effects were just the same if not worse.
TX Bill, EFC


Cheat chant
The irony of City fans (those that stayed to the end that is) chanting cheat cheat cheat was probably lost on them.
Seán (Inchicores bouncing again) Dublin


Massive for Spurs
Massive massive point that. To go away to City – maybe a slightly out of sorts one, granted – with that starting 11 speaks volumes.

It felt like we were on a very fast downward spiral and the narrative was that we had already lost this game before a ball had even been kicked. I was one of the people thinking the same. If that was the case, the West Ham game would have come with an unrelenting pressure which probably would’ve seen us really struggle.

Ange can do what he wants and I kinda like this whole ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ attitude. It’ll come with some pain but stick to your beliefs. They’re beliefs for a reason. I’m still allowed to argue with team selection though and Gil is just not up to scratch. Please don’t play him. I know we are light but Pierre in the team made much more sense. I prefer Kulu on the right anyway.

On City’s 3rd goal, I’m going to point out that Biss loves holding onto the ball in tight situations but, whilst our style of play will encourage that, dicking around 35 yards from goal, surrounded by 3 oppo players, when you had a very easy option to pass out just 1 second previously, just isn’t on. Take calculated risks, not reckless ones.

But, ya know, Spurs.

Romero is back for the next game which is huge. It’ll be awesome to have an actual CB (a World Cup winning to boot) play. He brings a quality and aggression that means we’ll be treated to wildly contrasting emotions related to him playing brilliantly and looking like the best thing since sliced bread (what a player sliced bread was), in addition to him trying to take someone’s canister clean off with an 8ft high karate lunge. Or something.

Anyway, whilst football moves quickly, this last period has felt like a never ending torturous one. But, look at it now. VDV and Maddison are massive misses – we can’t ignore that, but let’s focus on the fact we’ll have Cuti back. Gio is doing a good job of being our James lite version. The front 3 is still tasty (Johnson, Son, Kulu). Richi gives us a little less shit depth and Pape is due back shortly too.

So we’ll have gone from missing 427 first team players to missing just 2. Davies ain’t no VDV but with big Cristian next to him, he’ll be fine. Lo Celso, again, ain’t no Madders but he’s neat and tidy and bagged 2 in 2 against good teams.

I absolutely hate West Ham and the game is on my bday. Whilst I’m not as emotionally involved in all this bollocks as I used to be, getting beat by a bunch of bubble blowing, pie and eel eating cockneys, on my bday, will really take the jam out of my donut.

Big game. Win it and we keep ourselves in the chat for CL qualification.
Glen, Stratford Spur


The blueprint
Is this the way to play against City? Spurs tactics looked crazy at times but it worked.

Maybe the way to take points from them is to be toilet for much of the game, press relentlessly, bless your posts, be very lucky, repeatedly give them them possession, and score a shoulder equaliser.

Aidan, Lfc (maybe if they think they’ll have hundreds of chances they miss more?)


Going in two-footed
Anthony Gordon, a very hard working but limited footballer taps in at the far post and works hard every game.

He’s not in the England squad, but his agent has just kicked the PR machine into full effect so expect more “opinion” pieces on how amazing he is.

According to She ra, he “battered” man utd down the left hand side – until it came to him or livramento having to use his left foot!

Uh oh, multi million pound player only has 1 foot shocker!

I now ask if we can use Jude as the new yardstick? Each player must be competent with both feet, surely that should be a minimum requirement of a pro footballer these days?

Yours, oldmanly
Fat Man (yes, footballers of today are much worse than my day. My day = Zidane, real Ronaldo, Redondo, romario, jay jay okocha, carbone, di canio, figo, Henry and of course bergkamp etc etc)

Anthony Gordon celebrates scoring Newcastle United winner

Mystic mugs
Recently there was the article about Onana not being pants, then he proceeded to be pants immediately after.

Then today was the one about Enzo not being productive enough on the attack for Chelsea… So he goes and bags a brace.

On Tuesday morning please can you get one of your esteemed colleagues to write about my terrible form on the Euro millions?

Ta muchly,

Read more: Enzo Fernandez is a poor man’s Rodri but Chelsea need him to be Fabregas


Liverpool 2.0
Asking for a friend: Does that count as LFC 3 points gained from losing position, 3 points lost from winning position, both, or neither?!? (Probably 3 points gained from losing position for LFC and vice versa for Fulham)

Klopp 2.0 is truly in full swing… this looks like LFC … in 2015.
When we had defensive sieves Mignolet, Lovren, Alberto Moreno, and had to outscore teams just to win. (I would have said out-Braziled other teams but Brazil isn’t really winning right now…)


…City-Spurs was meant to be the fixture in lights for this matchwk but to my eye (and for pure entertainment) it was Fulham’s visit to Anfield… So we came away 4-3 winners but I’ll tell you as exhilarating as the late heroics were, it felt a hard reality check and a showcase of all the reasons we cannot contend the title this season. It only appears a title race at the minute b/c City have hiccuped but they tend to do this yr on yr. City will customarily string together a 10-12 game springtime win streak and grab another (asterisk-laden ?) title* at a canter despite media naysaying after three consecutive draws.

As for us, we could have and should have been out of sight but for several spurned chances and some markedly sloppy play throughout. In basketball they often say players encounter tight hoops or a lid over the rim when their shooting touch is off and theyve gone something like 2-for-10 on the night; how many games do we see where Darwin Nunez encounters a tiny goal mouth or a forcefield of training dummies when he single handedly spurns 1.0 xG every other fixture ? The lad is phenomenal at missing the open net, I’m not sure ive ever seen as many from a Liverpool forward so early on in what is a worryingly expanding catalogue of comedy. To further the basketball trope, a cold shooter might go 2-for-10 but can go on to sink clutch baskets down the stretch or get to the charity stripe. Football is too much of a low-events exercise to afford someone like Nunez repeated opportunities to redeem himself; you’ve got to hit the target when the chance is presented and put your team ahead. You’re the striker ffs. So he did have his moment at St james’ in somewhat strange circumstances, and he may do it from time to time still, but I don’t reckon he’ll ever be a golden cow like Forlan or Cavani or Suarez. No– he’ll be Darwin Nunez, and he’ll miss more than he makes.

Incidentally my wife thinks his chant from the stands (Noo-nezz ! Noo-nezz !) is insipid and uninspired; she mentions how stupid she finds it anytime she’s in the room. Well I doubt i’d be able to chant his name myself if he had the Kop’s greatest ever terrace song. I’m often dumbfounded by how much adoration he receives for what little output he’s mustered thus far but I do hope someday he has me belting his name out at 11. Right now it seems a very far, very muted cry.
Eric, Los Angeles CA (Haaland was right to be incensed, they were away and likely win it late before the 1v1 was called back– a ludicrous call. Also ludicrous: Caceido’s repeated assaults vs brighton. Refereeing shouldn’t be a topic this often but it will dominate the mornings headlines again, just watch rinse and repeat )


Endo the world
I just love Endo. Reports and people have all written him off because he was cheap but I just love the fella.
In the same way I like Minamino and Philips. Never rated, always gave 100%. That’s what I want to watch on TV.
Nik (surprised we pulled that off), Paris


…Endo, a transfer mistake? Transfer genius more like….
Mike, LFC, London


Trent robbed
Seriously, taking that goal off Trent and giving it a Leno OG is everything that’s wrong with the game summed up. Joyless w@nkers
Mark Robbo, LFC


Get away 
Obviously the biggest shock in the fa cup draw is united being drawn away
Andrew goonerabroad Brown


What next?
Genuine question here for the mailbox. For the record I don’t think they will be, but now that Everton have formally submitted an appeal, what happens if they’re successful? Does the point deduction get reversed? If so, what are the time frames on that? Seems pure chaos if a points-based punishment could be administered then reversed in the same season – particularly if it potentially impacts something like relegation. Why does it feel like everyone’s just making everything up as they go along?
Owen Davidson


Big clubs and big names
I was reading the letter by Nick from Woking, and I’m interested to know whether other readers or the staff at F365 agree with him.
If he’s correct, I think it’s a pretty damning indictment of football.

The suggestion is that the game of football as an entity is of very little interest to sports viewers, and it’s only the “big” clubs with history that attract any attention. It’s like saying that we have no interest in the plot, direction, cinematography or production value of a film, we’ll only go if Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts is in it. If there are no big stars then we’re not bothered.

That seems to indicate that the Premier League specifically, and football in general, is hanging by a thread. It’s only able to remain solvent as long as it can promise the star power of Manchester United and Liverpool. I would be curious to know what the viewership is for Crystal Palace vs Fulham, maybe nobody cares if a big team isn’t involved. It also means that the big clubs can hold the league to ransom. Rather than being something so aspire to competition should be assiduously avoided since it may threaten the position of certain teams domestically and in Europe. We can expect that no punishment will be meted out to Manchester City since the league is dependent on them for its continued existence. It was possible to make an example of Everton since they’re not a draw, and nobody aside from a few Evertonians is impacted anyway.

I often disagree with John Nicholson’s opinions, but I never questioned that he loves the game. And his love extends far beyond a specific team or league, to the sport itself.

Forest vs Leeds on PPV? Sorry, twice European champions Forest vs European runners-up Leeds. Anyone? No, not interested?

No matter, the Taylor Swift movie should be streaming soon. Hopefully that’s enough star power for you.
Andrew – Canada


…To paraphrase Mark Fisher, it seems for some (like Nick from Woking) it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of the current Premier League. Nevermind that England has sustained a 92-team professional league structures for decades, long before the TV revenues and advertising exploded, long before the English top division was home to the world’s top talent and long before it had any significant interest overseas.

No-one would contest that without the draw of the biggest clubs there would be less money in English football and fewer elite players coming from overseas. But the idea that football in England couldn’t survive without them is just utter guff. Every week the average League Two club draws about 6000 people through the gate. No one is going to Gillingham v Grimsby because those clubs somehow bask in the reflected glory of being in the same league pyramid as Erling Haaland. They’re going because they love their club, they love their communities and they love live football.

That’s £150,000 per match of revenue, more than enough to pay a squad of 20 guys a full time wage to play football in front of those 6000 people. And believe it or not, that’s all a football club actually needs to survive as an ongoing concern. Yes, English football would be poorer and worse quality if the Super League took away the big clubs, but it wouldn’t actually die. The circus at the top isn’t sustaining the existence of the English league structure, the huge and unique national appetite to play football and watch our local teams is.
Jack Saunders