Some Manchester United fans in the Mailbox are content to reflect upon a reality check in the derby. Also: who replaces Klopp? Gerrard out; and the north London derby.
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I’m kinda shocked that some United fans were surprised by this City result. They really need a wake up call. All this nonsense that Sancho and Rashford are in form and Ten Haag has changed things is nonsense. It’s like everyone forgot the first two games and how awful they were last season. They are absolutely miles off it. I’ve been saying this even before today’s game. The most annoying thing about it is United fans walk about with this plucky underdog mentality when they spent more than any other team. I find them so hard to respect. I remember growing up I’d always hear United fans mock Liverpool because they hadn’t won the league in years and “this is our year” shouts from Pool fans. They’ve literally turned into what they made fun of. United is just a circus. None of their victories this season have really proved much to me. They’re not actually playing well at all.
…As much as it was painful for United fans to endure another derby humiliation, there is I believe a very definitive and pretty rich silver lining.
When ETH was appointed most sensible United blog commentators warned that it would take time for things to change. Well beyond the integration of the new coach’s methods and philosophies, the whole infrastructure at United needed overhauled, deadwood needed clearing out, recruitment aligned with academy development, etc. etc. After a reasonably successful pre-season we come down with a bang in our first two competitive matches before winning four PL games in a row including home victories over Arsenal and Liverpool.
What was the reaction? We win Manager and Player of the Month, MOTD declare “United have their swagger back” and even one as hard to please as Roy Keane say we’re “certs for the top four”.
Don’t believe for a minute that the players didn’t hear all this stuff. They had done the hard miles after Brentford and now they were ready to at the very least give City a game. Well they weren’t and deservedly got a good hiding in the first half from a brilliant City side before we saw something of a response to the kicking they would have got from ETH at halftime.
And what of our fans? So many of those posts following ETH appointment addressed the need for patience and debated whether it was 2/3 years or 4/5 years before we would be ready to start winning the PL again, never mind compete in Europe. Reading those today you would think we were last season’s runner-up and pre-season favorites for this year’s title.
So that rich silver lining I mentioned is that we dropped 3 points only a fool would have expected us to get while ETH is empowered to take the first team squad on another long run tomorrow after he has reviewed the tapes from yesterday’s game with a humble and receptive audience.
How many KM did City run yesterday?
…The feeling going into this game was that City are a far better team at this point in time and we would do well to get anything from the game. Post game I feel like . . . it could have been worse. City did what you expect of them and were excellent. But they were not perfect or invulnerable. On a number of occasions when the game was still in the balance we had promising attacking opportunities which Sancho and Rashford in particular were guilty of totally butchering, some even leading to goals at the other end. For all of Rashford’s improvement of late, this was him back to his worst, just giving the ball away for nothing in a promising position.
But as Ten Hag and Keane pointed out, we just did not seem to believe that we were in with a chance in the game, and when that is true you will always struggle to make an impact. We saw that time and again with Sir Alex at his best, the opponents were already beaten before they took to the pitch.
So what was Ten Hag to do? I think sticking with the team that had been winning was a good move strategically if not tactically. It sends the message that if you are performing, you will continue to be picked, rewarding excellence. It also hedges that if the likely happens and we do not win (which realistically was the likely outcome at this point in time no matter what team we chose), then you can start with a fresh slate for Casemiro, Martial and a lineup tweak which has probably been needed, but would have been problematic whilst the team was performing well and winning. Let us imagine that instead of the team we started with instead we had thrown in Casemiro alongside Scott dropping . . . Eriksen? He has been one of our standout players? Bruno? Brave decision either way. Then when we (probably still) lose you are put in a difficult spot. You had a team that was winning, changed it up to include your best players and lost . . . what comes next?
So hopefully this was the best strategic move and we can now fully blend together our best XI and continue to build confidence and belief. It’s just a shame that offensively we were so terrible early on as defensively City were vulnerable. But that is our most difficult game of the season out of the way on paper, as well as a sobering reminder of the chasm that currently separates these teams. One at (hopefully) an apex and one just starting a process of building to better things. Yes which is which though lolz!
Collin (I blame Roy for what he did to Alfie) Hack
…So City tonked United 6-3 last night. Was anticipating a humbling, but never guessed United would put 3 past city. Which is itself grounds for optimism.
On the whole I think this result will serve as a good wake up call to the players.
…1. We missed Maguire on the pitch. Sometimes against a battering ram like Haaland, the only way to fight back is a battering ram of our own.
2. We missed Ronaldo too, why is the greatest goalscorer in United not playing when clearly City brought theirs. Between him and Maguire, we definitely could have flipped the score to 3-6.
3. Last time we were 4-0 down at halftime, we dropped Maguire and won 4 games on the trot. This time 4-0 down at the half, we’ll drop Mctominay for Casemiro and win the next 4 games on the trot. Rinse and Repeat!
4. People leaving at half time is not good. What they should actually be doing is joining the game at half time and watching a thrilling United comeback for a classic victory.
5. This derby should be called the El Fraudico – the losing manager gets called the bald fraud until the next derby.
6. Phil Neville…
Gaurav MUFC, Amsterdam (…the solution to our right back problem)
…The first half was embarrassing for United. Man City were just better and there’s nothing else you can say about it. Even when City don’t have Rodri in the midfield for the defensive cover, they are 10 times better than any other midfield in the league. McTominay didn’t even get a yellow card, which you can usually bet on and wasn’t even using his size as he usually does.
The second half was better but still worrying how big of a difference is between a rotated City team and a strong United team. Antony scored a fantastic strike which is a small positive to take away that he’s scoring and hopefully in games where we put up a fight he can be even more deadly. Martial was another positive from this game. It was good to see him back and scoring 2 goals will hopefully help his confidence going forward.
I also felt that Martinez actually kept Haaland quiet whenever he was marking him it was the rest of the United team that were at fault for his goals. We had Eriksen marking him for a corner. which is just silly. How can you think Eriksen is the man to mark Haaland?
Overall, City were out for blood and United were still dreaming of that Arsenal victory.
Max Of Whitegate
…De Bruyne’s pass for Haaland was unreal. Haaland will get the headlines, and understandably so, but my word.
I genuinely can’t understand people saying City are dull to watch. It’s beautiful to look at. And I’m having to watch Spurs every week stumble over the line despite themselves.
…Just need to comment on the final conclusion from Ian King.
Haaland didn’t cost a lot of money? As if the astronomical amounts paid to his father and his agent don’t count? As if the insane weekly wage he earns (on the books…..) isn’t a factor?
He went to City partly because of his Dad’s connection (who played there for all of 3 seasons) and not the troughs of cash he’ll earn there when he could have picked any club in the world? Do me a favour.
‘Sensational piece of business by City’. Well done Ian, you’re literally aiding the sportswashing and when City, Newcastle, PSG (and whoever gets bought next by a gulf state determined to launder their abhorrent human rights record) share the league and champions league trophies between themselves year after year in the future I’ll be curious to read your take.
James Outram, Wirral
…Ian King’s 16th conclusion on Haaland is so naive I legit cursed in front of my newborn when I read it. Haaland wasn’t going to cost anyone any more than his release clause. That was the deal he and Dortmund made. Neymar had to be wrestled away from a European giant that didn’t want to sell. They aren’t comparable..not even remotely. You are somehow making signing the most nailed on success story sound like City found Haaland playing at a YouTube charity game and took a shrewd punt on him “Of Pep I seen this lad score a robona against faffy 575, you know the streamer?? Well never mind I think this kid is going places”
What every major European team had to do was present Haaland with a vision and a monster contract.So to naive point number 2 yes Man City finding 375k a week to pay him is linked to their infinite money. Of course it bloody is.
And lastly Haaland Snr played almost double the amount of games for TWO separate PL teams than he did at City so emotional connection me hole, it’s not as if he was in an emotional bind between City and Forrest. He wants to win things and be paid…some player mind
Dan (you know at least a super league might have different champions every once and a while)
…Not sure what all the fuss about City is really, Brentford were able to keep a clean sheet.
Joking aside, City were magnificent and Utd a total shambles. Everyone in the team needs to take a long hard look and come back from this one. Upwards and onwards right?
As for continued ownership/mgmt gripes, why did they not let Ronaldo go if ETH had zero plans to use him? Will always love Ronnie for what he did in the past, but surely not having a megastar on the bench in itself would help ETH. Does ETH even want Casemiro? This looks more and more like someone higher up making a deadline day splash rather than the manager wanting a player. You can see the stark contrast with Antony who’s straight into the lineup. Not saying Casemiro is a bad player or that these gripes would necessarily change this one match; this one is on ETH and those who took to the field today obviously. But it’s these bizarre decisions which continue to hold back the overall squad in the longer run. It also allows other fans to quote the ridiculous spend by the owners to make Utd fans’ complaints feel entitled, when we keep arguing it’s more about running us as a marketing tool and cash cow which ‘irks’ us, to put it mildly.
Niraj (well played city) Tampa
…Yes get in!
If you ignore the first half we just beat City 3-2 in their own back yard!
…For those of you that even entertained the Haaland vs Nunez debate Haaland has probably scored more goals with the season only 2 days into October than Nunez will all season
Gaz, CFC, Sidcup (a 4th hat trick against Southampton on it’s way?)
Not a fair fight
My take from the City-United game. This is what allowing state owned clubs to get away with financial doping looks like.
If the Premier League doesn’t take action then it will have the same problem as the Bundesliga, the same team winning the title every season which is boring. Maybe Newcastle might spice things up in a half decade or so but that will just further highlight this issue.
Should owners be banned from sponsoring their clubs through companies they own? This would certainly prevent clubs, especially state owned ones with endless pockets of cash from corrupting the system by inflating said sponsorship deals above market rate. A ban on state club ownership entirely would be an even better option but I doubt the UK government would ever allow it (since the owners in question tend to have a lot of oil and gas).
It is nice to see Haaland doing so well but we all know he wouldn’t be at City (Pep probably not either) if they weren’t allowed to flaunt the rules.
La Liga seemed to do everything they possibly could over the summer to keep Barca buying players so they could stay competitive. You can question whether the La Liga should have changed their rules just to benefit Barca but it was a business decision. Without Barca and Real competing for the title every season La Liga has little to offer its fans internationally, especially with Messi and Ronaldo gone.
Just like La Liga without competitiveness (at least at the top of the table) the PL loses its appeal so this issue must be fixed sooner rather than later. Serie A was the most exciting top league for me last season as there were multiple title challengers and it seems it will be much the same this season so I’ll be hooked again. City have won the title 4 out of the last 5 seasons and if things don’t change I expect them to do 5 for 5 in the next half decade. Last season the title went down to the last day but I can’t see it happening this season. If the PL wants to stay as the most popular and profitable league in the world a business decision needs to be made however much City and Newcastle fans will have a tantrum about it.
Considering how part of what I’m suggesting would affect the club I support and we aren’t typically title challengers it wouldn’t be for my benefit just fans in general.
Good ref, bad ref
Well done to Sunday’s ref at Man City, rough tackle in 2nd minute, player booked, excellent game after that. Compare that with Saturday’s ref at Selhurst Park. Palace players fouled by Chelsea’s from the start, no-one booked even for persistent fouls, but then Palace manager booked for complaining! That ref could have made it an excellent contest by taking firm early action.
Eagle in exile near Athens in Greece
Who replaces Klopp?
I thought CanuckLFC letter was interesting and also a little revealing.
Should klopp be replaced? Is one question but the follow question I think answers the first question – by who?
Football is a game of passion and sentimentality, right up until you start losing and then suddenly patience vanishes.
I don’t believe in curses or any other such superstitious nonsense so the idea of the 7 year dip for klopp is idiocy. For one the circumstances were totally different at Dortmund. He was battling with his own team because they sold his best players every year, causing the dip in form. At Liverpool that hasn’t happened.
It’s a very bad run of form, the worst in his tenure I’d argue because there isn’t really any excuse for it. When he arrived he didn’t have a good squad. When all our defenders were injured it affected everything but now… There isn’t any obvious reason. Can klopp fix it? Sure he can. He’s obviously a very good manger because he took a team which had become a laughing stock and turned them into premier League, European and world champions within 6 years. Of course he can fix it.
Will he fix it? He is clearly trying to do something different because we do not look like the team of when he first came (all pressing high tempo attacking) or the team which won a title (stifling defensively solid well drilled machine). I can’t actually tell what our matchday tactics are anymore, which is very bad.
He seems to be trying to make us less dependant on Salah and unfortunately the other players aren’t stepping up. Salah himself is also not amazing right now and is continuing his poor shooting form from last season.
What I find more interesting is what would happen if a world class manager were available right now? Klopp is somewhat lucky in that there are probably only two or three that would be an upgrade or the same level as him (pep and ancelotti are potential upgrades) and they are all unavailable. So why fire klopp if there is nobody to replace him?
Writing on the wall
A few weeks ago, I wrote to the editor expressing a tentative concern that LIverpool may have been in slow decline in the past few years, and that this season’s woes may be a sign that this decline is beginning to accelerate. Nothing has occurred since to convince me otherwise, sadly.
Klopp built a masterpiece. What made them so wonderful was the fact that, in the truest sense of the word, Liverpool under Klopp were a team. For one part to work, all had to work. For example, for Trent’s attacking ability to truly flourish, and his defensive shortcomings to be hidden, he needed ferocious workrate from those in front of him, and the best centre half and keeper in the world alongside him. For Salah’s goals, he needed an intelligent, technically outstanding workhorse at no.9, who didn’t mind not scoring much himself. This same no.9 needed the wide players to score, so he could help the midfield, who themselves had to cover for rampaging full backs bombing forward, which brings us back to Trent. Even Van Dijk needed a world -class sweeper keeper and intense pressing from the front to help him out. This is why I find criticisms of individuals pointless, petty and useless. I know that most successful teams rely on both individuals and teamwork, but Klopp’s Liverpool relied more heavily than most on the latter.
My guess is that, as a whole, each individual is 10% below their usual level, but because this team is greater than the sum of the parts when on form, it stands to reason that they are miles below the sum of their parts when struggling, so you get a 30%-40% drop off, and all the inevitable hysteria that this entails.
So what caused this 10% drop-off?Maybe age,maybe tiredness, maybe performing at superclub level for years, smashing records left, right and centre, but not having won enough to show for it, mostly because this incredible run coincided with a slightly better (and much richer) team going on a run of their own, and the Liverpool players feel resigned.
Having pushed themselves to the limit so many times, and found it still wasn’t enough, maybe they’ve lost a step, that willingness to really push that hard again. Maybe they’re just human.
This will (rightly) get lost in the mails about the proper game on Sunday, but seriously, can anyone bar Christian Purslow make a case for Stephen Gerrard to be kept on as Villa manager.
Wrong appointment to bring us to the next level and really just floating around with no game plan and players regressing.
Broken record, but owners don’t right significant cheques for such limited returns.
Was only able to catch the last thirty minutes of the NLD after soccer training, just in time to see Martinelli taunt Richarlison in possession, minutes before Xhaka’s goal, (I bet Lloris could have done better,) but wonderful play from the Arsenal team. From there on, it was a slaughter, not in terms of scoring, but utter humiliation by possession. I felt sorry for them. For the first time, I wasn’t mad Arsenal didn’t score more.
The match shows the difference between both sides, in style, management and coaching. (I guess the red card didn’t help as well.) Arsenal build a foundation that will outlast the manager; currently, Tottenham do not. Arsenal have a system and clear pattern, Tottenham have intangibles in place- fight, tenacity, grit and what-not, but as many have rightly pointed out, it’s a high risk, high jeopardy adventure.
Saliba is ridiculously good on (and off) the ball, has a certain verve and drive that’s infectious to watch. Watching him buzz around is a joy to behold.
The right hand side of Arsenal’s defence was anonymous, ridiculously strong. And that’s a compliment to Ben White, didn’t know who was playing, but there was a near – impenetrable vibe from that right side, (Sami Khedira-esque, from right back.) I loved his reaction to being substituted. Also, Saka took up really wide positions, pinning back the Tottenham ‘ s left back. He might not have been as involved as the electric Martinelli, but his role was crucial nonetheless. It was a pleasure to watch such cerebral machinations in play.
Was scared seeing the subtitutions for Arsenal, but they dealt with that really well. More nice touches from Vieira; Nketiah with good fight, I love his hunger; seems like Tierney is getting back to his best.
Still have the same issue with Sambi Lokonga though, he travels way too much for a holding midfielder or one who plays in that role. His presence immediately created gaps in the defensive midfield from which Tottenham nearly capitalized. Arteta needs to work on that. At one point during an Arsenal throw-in, Arteta made the correction. Don’t know if it was just to receive the throw, or a tactical correction. But that needs to be his tactical instruction. Sambi. Sit. In the midfield.
Arsenal completely took the mickie out of Tottenham, and that was lovely to see. Seeing those rows of defensive players in blocks fanning low and wide to stop Arsenal was quite the sight. Xhaka resplendent.
Good game from the Arsenal team, the desire was completely there, and you can’t ask for more than that, they were really up for the fight. It’s going to be interesting, their clash against City when it comes. I wouldn’t want to go toe to toe with those guys though, perhaps find a way to outsmart them. (I’m listening to the derby commentary as I write this.) Oops! Haaland just got his third.
Iyanu, Lagos Nigeria.
Hi, hope all’s good. I love a bit of Jonathan Liew in The Guardian. Writes beautifully. But as a Spurs fan, his coverage of the NLD has tipped me over the edge. It sort of boils down to Arteta is great, warm and lovely, and Conte and his henchmen aren’t. You had quite a bit of fun with your article about whether or not Spurs are a bit sh*t last week. There’s this narrative circling that supporting Spurs isn’t much fun at the moment.
Let me set you straight fellas.
At the end of August we’d scored 1 less goal than Man City in 2022. Since then, Liverpool grabbed a 9 – 0 so there’s a chance that we’re now 3rd highest scorers in Barclays this year. Doesn’t seem too joyless to me.
We had the league’s top scorer last season. He’s had a very mixed start to this season but that smile. Have you clocked that smile? There’s a lot of joy in that heart warming smile.
Did you see Richarlison weeping on the pitch when he scored his first champions league goal for us?
Did you see us score 4 against Southampton, 6 against Leicester and look like we were going to score every time we went forward against Fulham? I did. The sun shone and we had a smashing day out.
Fairs fair, we got beaten by the better team on Saturday. But we’re genuinely looking forward to champions league in the week and Brighton next weekend.
It’s fun supporting Spurs, don’t worry about us
Andrew, Woodford Green
Bournemouth 0-0 Brentford
Can I spin this out to six paragraphs? No as it wasn’t great. Bournemouth continue to look difficult to break down but the solidity comes at a price as so many times Billing and Tavernier were in a corner looking for a triangle and the full-back was 50 yards away on the halfway line. Will definitely take it but sooner or later we will probably need to score another goal at home. Neither of them were penalties but the referee was a bit raw. Will be interesting to see how he gets on away from the definitely-not-a-lions-den Dean Court.
Brentford weren’t great, Toney probably should have scored but I think they have a few defensive vulnerabilities. Mee in particular seemed a bit panicky at times.
Word for Chris Mepham. Played for Brentford, had a shocker against them in the playoff semi second leg two years ago, got a World Cup looming and no Kelly alongside him. Looks increasingly assured.
Off to see the Lionesses Friday before Leicester at home Saturday. You don’t need me to tell you which one I’m looking forward to more.
Andy J, BH7
Andy, Guatemala shared his Premier League XI in the Mailbox on Sunday morning, not a bad team in a 4-3-3 formation and he is spot on any XI will always be the personal preference of the fan, no one will entirely agree with another person’s list, so with that here is my attempt at an XI and i have tried to not go for the obvious names but of course some made the list as i cannot choose Rickie Lambert over Thierry Henry, but i tried to think how they might all play together on the field, team chemistry and all that.
Goalkeeper: Petr Cech
Defenders: Ashley Cole, John Terry, Tony Adams, Lee Dixon
Midfielders: Frank Lampard, Patrick Vieira, Kevin De Bruyne
Forwards: Thierry Henry, Wayne Rooney, Mo Salah
Would be curious to see what other readers could come up with in terms of an XI that would work well on the field.
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod