Man Utd’s individual brilliance bailed out Solskjaer…

Date published: Monday 20th September 2021 8:35 - Ian Watson

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

That’s one of the reactions in the Mailbox to Manchester United’s thrilling win at West Ham. Also: Chelsea, Greavsie, Jordan Henderson and Burnley…

Get your mails on any subject into


Fall-out from West Ham 1-2 Man Utd
…In F365 initial report totally glosses over the fact Martin Atkinson was incompetent bordering on cheating, Ronaldo had two stonewall penalties turned down with Atkinson seemingly not even speaking to the VAR team, the only suprise when he gave West Ham a penalty is that he didn’t take it himself. If it wasn’t for De Gea suddenly realising you’re allowed to save penalties then daylight robbery would of ensued. Three excellent points won today with a so called impartial official trying his level best to give United nothing, lastly well done Jesse Lingard a quite wonderful finish to win a very tough game
Paul Murphy, Manchester


…After that 90 minutes, with all the effort he put in – so many crucial moments – to lose it that way. It’s absolutely soul-destroying.

Let’s hope Martin Atkinson is okay to go again next week.
Ryan, Bermuda


…As a fairly immobile, leaden-footed and easily frustrated footballer prone to kicking out at far silkier and skilful players, I’d really appreciate the opportunity to play a match refereed by Martin Atkinson!
Killian, Limerick


F365 Says: CR7 *can* be a sidenote – but only with an end that ludicrous


…Is Ole going to get as much praise on these for his substitutes combining to win the game as a he did criticism when his 10 men team (which had played that way for nearly an hour) lost due to a misplaced pass?

Just asking for a friend…
Rob, Guangzhou

F365 verdict:


…De Gea probably hasn’t saved a penalty since United last won the title!

Ronaldo’s reputation for diving is now costing him, he should have had atleast two penalties there. Losing points in that match on a penalty would have been really unfair.

Also MESSI LINGARD! Football, Bloody hell!
Shehzad Ghias, MUFC, Karachi


…Fresh off the euphoria of DeGea’s penalty save….some sobering thoughts…

Ronaldo-Bruno-Pogba-Greenwood= Fantasy League front four= no pressing in opponents’ half. My eye-test tells me none of these players have the character/energy levels to press from the front. They instinctively drop off once West Ham has the ball, as if they are playing Man City or Chelsea etc. Will mean the average position Man U wins back the ball will be deeper in their own half and hence the ponderous attack since none of these front four are truly speedsters and no PL defenders will wet their pants at the prospects of any of these four running at them. So time and time again, Man U is reduced to trying to play that magical through-ball or cross with no true pace going forward.

Additionally, Matic >(VDB>) Fred: We look better for the short period of time Matic came for Fred. Damning indictment for Fred when you see him dropping back beside Macguire while Varane is far more advanced (than Fred) trying to push the ball into West Ham’s half in the latter stages of the 2nd half. Compare this to Matic touch map in West Ham’s half when he came on. Play Matic for first 65 min of every match and then bring on fresh legs in the last quarter of the match. Also, what does that say of VDB that he cannot get meaningful minutes ahead of Fred?
Lionel (Man Utd) Singapore



…So, another pretty poor Manchester United performance papered over by a moment of brilliance from Jesse Lingard and a good save by De Gea. And that’s exactly the crux of the Ole Out brigade, as stated in Dave Tickner’s “end of the returning hero manager” article. Lots of piss poor decisions by Ole being bailed out by moments of brilliance from an expensively assembled team.

I was not impressed to see McFred and Wan-Bissaka start the game, but not surprised given Ole’s absolute reluctance to drop players who are not performing. I was even less impressed when Pogba was pulled instead of McTominay or Fred. McTominay had a poor game, but that’s understandable, given it’s his first game back since having surgery a few weeks ago. Fred was his usual dross, busy without having any positive impact on the game, misplaced passes and the lack of ability to trap a simple pass along the floor. So when 7 assist Pogba was pulled for Lingard it seemed like an odd choice for a team that wanted to win and true to my expectations we didn’t look like scoring at all. When Matic came on with a few minutes to go it became clear Ole was going for an away point against a West Ham team that was missing a key player and who played on Thursday night in Croatia. A stunning lack of ambition and plan was there for all to see.

Obviously, as has happened so often during his tenure, a player – in this case Lingard – popped up with a vital intervention to sprinkle glitter over the turd we were served, and De Gea made a good stop from a poor penalty to keep the points. I won’t get into the absolute shambles that was the decision making not even a minute before West Ham’s penalty was given because Ronaldo was clearly scythed down in the area by Zouma. What I will mention is that David Moyes will no doubt be hauled over the coals for his decision to introduce Noble without a proper warm up in the 94th minute to take a decisive penalty without having kicked the ball in the game.

This is valid criticism, the likes of which Ole seems immune to. The decision to play McFred was a poor one. The decision to stick with Fred at all is a poor one. When Fred and McTominay were having poor games, the decision to stick with them and remove one of our star performers was a poor one. And in light of his red card on Tuesday, his poor performance where he could have given away another penalty, and when he showcased his lack of any kind of contribution to the attack, playing Wan-Bissaka was another poor decision. Watching Wan-Bissaka stinking up the right touchline, making no forward runs, not overlapping, and every time he gets on the ball playing the safe ball back to Varane in his 7:30 position. He’s an absolute god send for a team that has to defend at all because they can effectively leave him unmarked while they double up on someone who will actually do something with the ball. Dalot needs to be given a run in the team, if only to stop teams having an extra man to double up on our key players.

And it’s on that note that I was interested to read Ian Watson’s piece on Diogo Dalot today, more or less repeating and elaborating on the letter I sent into the mailbox a few weeks ago. I’m flattered, and if you would like me to write full length articles in future, you just have to ask 🙂
Daniel (what does Fred have to do to be dropped?), Cambridge


…I normally don’t mail on a Sunday, but felt after reading the article on United’s win that it should be pointed out that:

a) The commentary team was watching the first half of the game where United had 7 shots on target in said half, the most of any team this season.

b) The “Just Kick It To Him” line would make sense if United weren’t the second highest scorers last year without Ronaldo, highest scorers so far this season and as part of this season, scored 7 goals in 3 games before Ronaldo actually joined the club.

c) “There can be a narrative around Manchester United this season that doesn’t involve St Cristiano of Ronaldo.” You sound like a spikey liberalised Stan Collymore. I don’t agree with turning players into deities, but the man has achieved a lot in his career so will obviously have some limelight and be talked about (star players who score goals usually do). You don’t have to make it weirder. It’s already a bit weird.

This is from the same site that said you don’t have favourites or biases against players or managers – regular readers know which writers have certain biases and which don’t. Either say it’s your opinion or bias, or write in a way that doesn’t stick to, or look for, narratives. You can absolutely and rightly say that Tuchel, Klopp and Pep are better than Ole until he wins or achieves what they have. But that also doesn’t mean he’s terrible and the worst manager ever who accidentally and luckily gets teams to score goals. By-the-by, that away record is incredible. Yes, Covid, but also, then why have any other teams not done it and why is it continuing? Ole rubbing his lucky horseshoe must be the ONLY logical answer to how teams do such things.

For the record, I’ve noticed Poch hasn’t been used as the benchmark for how Ole and United should be. I’d imagine if PSG had won their Champions League game against Brugge then he would’ve been mentioned in the Young Boys post-mortem as an Argentinian stick to beat Ole with. But he didn’t, with his star-studded line-up, in Brugges. Played off the park apparently. Lucky to get a point apparently. United don’t know what they’re missing.
James, (Just say he’s good but could be better) Galway


16 Conclusions: Tottenham 0-3 Chelsea


Two mails in one
Thought I’d combine two mails into one, first off here are my thoughts on Chelsea going top of the table after a huge win against Spurs:

– First half was extremely poor, Spurs on top and had the home advantage showing, second half what a turnaround, top class all around

– Thomas Tuchel showcasing why he should be in the bracket when we talk best managers in the world at this moment in time, he made changes and it showed, he admitted he got that first half wrong and his move to bring on Kante was a huge game changer

– Thiago Silva showed age is just a number, i still cannot believe he is approaching 40 in a couple of years, he does not show that at all on the field

– A word on Antonio Rudiger, Chelsea need to pay that man the money he deserves, outstanding game on his behalf.

Now the second part of this mail, Weird Transfers was brought up by Tom, Leeds fan in Newcastle, well i certainly have a few that come to mind, Chelsea making a few appearances in this list:

– Steve Sidwell (Reading to Chelsea) – I just like to assume we tried to do a Juventus before Juventus were doing it, signing players on a Free, except we chose Steve Sidwell instead of Aaron Ramsey

– Danny Drinkwater (Leicester to Chelsea) – He will get the best out of Ngolo Kante some said, well Kante didnt need anyone to get the best out of him, he is world class, Danny on the other hand has been involved in more scandals than appearances for us

– Anyone from Chelsea’s 2015/16 Summer Window – Take your pick from Baba Rahman, Michael Hector, Radamel Falcao and Papy Djilobodji

– Steven Fletcher (Sunderland to Marseille) – Fair play, i mean it was a huge upgrade for a loan move and i think we would have all agreed to join Marseille

– Victor Valdes (Man Utd to Middlesbrough) – More trophies to his name than The Rock has had protein shakes and he moved to Boro, then got relegated

– Third Choice Goalkeepers – This goes without saying, Rob Green at Chelsea, Richard Wright, Scott Carson and Stuart Taylor at Man City, finally Lee Camp at Man Utd
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod


RIP Greavsie
Whilst not wishing to be overly callous, I have to say that the passing of celebrities generally passes me by. Very sad of course and you do think of their loved ones but other than that?

And yet yesterday, I found myself very much moved on hearing the news about Jimmy Greaves.

Bear in mind that, as a City fan, I had no direct footballing link to him and nor did I see him play live. And still I found myself quite upset and I think it is the measure of the man that this was the case.

I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to both Spurs and Chelsea supporters of a certain age whom, I’m sure, will have found the last 24 hours somewhat difficult.

God rest him.
Mark. MCFC.


F365 Says: Jimmy Greaves was the prototype of the modern striker


Hendo mugging off Brendo
A quick look at Jordan Henderson’s injury record will show you he misses about 20-25% of games through injury. Now he’s far from Andy Carroll or Owen Hargreaves in that regard but ‘injury prone’ isn’t entirely unfair. Ferguson actually said he wanted to buy Henderson but was advised against it by the medical staff. Henderson’s is a good player, but he misses a fair chunk of games through injury. That’s almost exactly what the United scouting department reported so how has he “mugged off” Ferguson?
One man he has mugged off is 365 darling Brendan Rodgers, who was happy to swap him for Clint Dempsey ffs. But sure keep pretending that Ferguson went full Connor McGregor and wrote “he’ll do nuttin’” over and over again instead of actually rating the lad, wanting to sign him, but deciding against it over injury concerns.
ThaiWolf, HK (mind you they could’ve done a better job of spotting injury potential in Phil Jones when he joined that summer!)

City’s attendance debate
Interesting debate, on the one hand guardiola is right. He’s pushing his team, staff and players as far as they can go to not only provide entertaining football but to win while doing it, they are entitled to full stadiums.

But on the other hand, football is expensive and mid week games late at night are tough for people with kids, especially if you’re a low income family.

This is probably why we see empty stadiums at old Trafford and anfield on mid week fixtures late at night. I remember once finally wrestling a ticket for a League cup third round tie against Grimsby back in 2001, it was at 8pm on a Tuesday night. It was so late in fact that I didn’t even get to stay to watch us lose the tie in extra time because I had to catch the last train home.

There were 34,000 people there that day for a third round League cup tie against Grimsby at 8pm on a Tuesday.

City could only muster 4k more for a tie in the biggest competition in club football. Liverpool is a city which is facing the same strife Manchester is, I wonder how many fans attended their late night mid week game….51,445 of 53,394.

The fan spokesperson who attributed the low attendance for how difficult and expensive mid weeks games are for families is maybe using that as an excuse. By his reasoning if city make the champs league final and it’s held on mid week most city fans wouldn’t attend, which I don’t think is true. They’d move heaven and earth to get tickets and attend, so the reality is – city fans didn’t deem a champs league qualifier as important enough to make the effort to attend (with the exception of the ones who did).

The reason why I’ve been thinking about this is as a Liverpool fan I can never get tickets to watch. The aforementioned Grimsby game I had to hold on the phone for nearly 2 hours to buy that ticket. It’s very very hard to get tickets for anfield for just about any game because it’s close to full every game and there is a loooong waitlist. I imagine united is the same as are the other big clubs. City fans should really appreciate the opportunity to see games like this because as Liverpool, united and arsenal fans can attest – sometimes it vanishes for a long time.


Should he stay or should he go?
As expected, much of the debate this week has been about Ole’s performance and suitability. So here’s my submission.

In Sum: A manager who has spent £50m + on a dodgy full back in earlier transfer windows. And this summer spent over £100m without filling a key gap in the first team. Has definitely improved the team significantly over previous managers but has found it hard to get his team over the line in the really big games. In the one major European final his team reached, he bungled it through his team selection and subs. Enjoys the support of somewhat dodgy owners.

So my question to you is: should Pep be sacked?

(And now I sit back for the flood of emails explaining to me in excruciating detail why the Internet doesn’t have a sense of humour).
Ved Sen (MUFC)


Clarets karma
Karma sometimes sounds as real as Tooth Fairy and Santa …

After seeing Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood climb all over and shoulder barge liverpool’s defenders earlier in the season and get away with it …

Seeing Ashley Barnes give away a silly foul from which Martin Odegaard scored the FK and clinched the points. Priceless karma at work.

Keep on keeping on, Dyche/ A Barnes/ C Wood. Keep trying to hurt other players and one of these days, your players will pick up an untimely long term injury thru their very own callous actions.
Gab Ynwa

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