Send your Manchester United thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m bored of reading Moan U fans grousing about their club because some wealthy guys paid the required price to buy a profit making asset. Why is anyone shocked or upset now those wealthy people want profit first, trophies second? It’s not like you lot are on your own in this. For similar see my own club Arsenal, or, even have a chat with a Blackpool fan. It’s not new news. Give it a rest. You still spend a vast sum on new managers and players on a regular basis.
Anyway, I wanted to talk about Arsenal’s transfer activity. It seems to be commonly held wisdom that we just had a very good transfer window. I don’t want to be a grouse or rain on any parades but I wanted to question whether that’s actually the case. Stick with me…
First of all, the big one… we’ve lost Gunnersaurus. He better have a buy-back option or something because otherwise there will be murders.
Next, in the nets. Is anyone else really not convinced that we sold the right keeper?! Maybe I’m a little bit bias toward the emotional story of Martinez having been with us so long and then getting an FA Cup win. However, I think he’s better than Leno with the ball at his feet. The defence looked better organised with him behind it. As McGoldrick’s left footer whizzed past Leno’s fingertips last weekend I also found myself thinking “I bet Martinez’ extra height would have stopped that”. Martinez, for me, is the better shot-stopper. Also, we got a few million for a ‘second choice’ GK. Not bad. We could have got probably 40-50m for a ‘first choice’ (to Chelsea?) and not lost any performance to speak of. You know what that would have bought us – Aouar. And we all know an Aouar Partey would be monstrous. And make for amazing headlines.
At the back. Very pleased we kept AMN. Think he’s got a lot of talent. Gabriel wasn’t cheap but looks solid so far. Bellerin doesn’t (yet) look like the player he was before the injuries so it remains to be seen whether a failure to ship him out to Barca is a blessing or a curse.
However, we are now similar to Man U in that we have a huge collection of CBs a number of which aren’t going to play. For three CB positions we have (deep breath): Luiz, Gabriel, Holding, Mari, Mustafi, Tierney, Kolasinac, Chambers, Sokratis, Saliba. That’s ten players. We have done terribly at shifting any of that bunch off the books. A sale of Kolasinac fell through last night. No interest has been shown in Sokratis or Chambers despite, presumably, neither having a future and both wanting to play. Surely a taker could have been found in a mid-table or bottom half Prem team for those? It’s concerning that Saliba has been with us for two months and already we are trying to send him out on loan again (but failed).
In midfield Partey time has arrived and that seems promising. It gives me great pleasure that we aggravated a top tier Spanish side when buying him given the history of those clubs destabilising our players. The day when the mono-paced Xhaka isn’t automatic first pick is to be celebrated. Ceballos is a good loan in that we badly needed – a sensible move for all involved. Torreira and Guendouzi out on loans is probably the right approach given that they might improve their value and / or come back to us and improve us in the future. We badly lack creativity, however, and the failure to generate funds for Aouar is not just disappointing – it’s a problem. The fact that Elneney (hard worker but fairly limited) is back with us and will presumably get a fair few games is a sign that our transfer dealings over the last few years have not been a success.
In the attacking roles the champagne corks were popping over Aubameyang and, short-term, that’s fair. 20+ goals a season, the captain and I’ve been saying for a while we have to stop being a ‘soft touch’ losing our best players on the cheap. Time will tell whether he’s another ‘Ozil’ though. High wages for a 32 year old whose game is based on pace and a lethal finish. What happens when he slows and / or stops scoring? Willian was free but gives rise to similar concerns. The elephant in the room is, of course, Ozil. It seems there’s no chance of him leaving but equally none of him even appearing on the bench. What on earth happened during lockdown – he looked like a player re-born under Arteta? So we are stuck in a loveless marriage where it’s simply all about the money. Lacazette isn’t scoring enough but that is very much tomorrow’s problem.
Overall, it’s good that we haven’t had our pants pulled down again as happened with Pepe (worth half the price we paid) on transfer fees. But all the above leads us to question what on earth we did with Ramsey. We pulled out of that deal because we didn’t want to pay a large weekly wage to an older / senior player. Now we have signed up Auba and Willian in similar circumstances. So which was right? We let a 75m player leave for nothing due to wages. Only to spend those wages on an older player to replace the guy we spent 75m buying. Maddening. We also seem entirely inept at accepting small transfer fees for players in order to get them off the wage bill. Maybe there’s something about the economics of not writing off/down assets that you can assign optimistic values to but I can’t see how paying the wages of Sokratis, Chambers, Saliba etc this season, just so they can help lay out Auba’s training cones, is anything but daft.
All in all then I can see why there’s positivity and it’s not such a disaster as previous windows. But, for me, there’s significant evidence that we have yet to figure out Liverpool-esque transfer market operation. I’m cautiously calling this one a success – though it really depends on the quality of Partey and how many decent seasons we get out of Auba and Willian. One will not be enough. And, it seems to me, we have gambled on them firing us back into the CL.
In response to Nik (UTV)…
I’m a Villa fan. It’s not that I have wanted to, or wouldn’t want to, write in about Villa’s 7-2 shellacking of Liverpool. I’ve just had to watch about seven times to finally believe/confirm it actually happened. And, even after having done so, I still don’t really know to say.
Although… Russell, LFC; whilst I concur Villa were lucky in a few instances (deflections etc), they could have scored 4 or 5 more – and certainly should have scored 2 more.
I would also agree that Liverpool fans (and Klopp and the players) have been pretty magnanimous in defeat.
I’m off to watch Villa lose 2-0 to Bolton back in the day. I need some normality back in my life.
Gary, AVFC (very much liking the look of Watkins).
I hope that wherever Conor Byrne is in the world right now, a smile is gracing his lips and he has found reason to return to his beloved Villa (a skydiving return would be optimal).
Danilo (remember when the Football365 Fantasy League was named after him?) Warner, Bali United FC
Praying for relegation
And so we’ve had another Groundhog Day of a transfer window…loads of links to high profile players we were never going to get (but just look at the clicks says Ed) and a last 24-hours of panic buys the Manchester United hierarchy would like you to think were actually what they intended to buy all along. I predict 9th this season, and a new manager for next. But what will change with Poch or Allegri? Another cycle of the hope – frustration – anger that many Manchester United fans have eloquently expressed on this site before.
So this is my dilemma:- I love my club and like anything you love I want it to be successful, but deep down a part of me knows that this success will never be achieved with the present ownership and management and that the only way that situation will ever change is by a catastrophic financial collapse brought about by relegation or some similar event that would drive sponsors away.
So is it wrong to wish relegation on the club you support? Or does the potential reward of new ownership and a new rebirth of the club make it a price worth paying?
Paul (MUFC) confused.
Why don’t the Glazers try?
If you suddenly won the lottery and wanted to live your real-life footy manager dream by picking an obscure lower league team and take them on the path to glory it would be a bumpy road fraught with uncertainty.
You would need to spend a lot of money beyond the limits of the club (if you’re going to ignore FFP) on a lot of things. You will need to spend smartly on a good manager and coaching team, splash big on lots of players, get the academy running to help the club be sustainable, expand or rebuild the stadium and really get ‘the brand’ out there to pick up fans. It’s not easy to make a success of it and despite all the money pouring in to the game, it’s still the same cabal of big clubs with a few notable additions who are winning everything.
This isn’t a rhetorical question and I am asking this because I am genuinely confused and astounded, but why the f*ck don’t the Glazers simply want to make a success of the team they currently own? I understand all the arguments about keeping Manchester United near the top 4 and skimming off their profits, but surely a family of businessmen must realise the incredible potential of Manchester United? With the money pouring in to the game, the ceiling has never been higher, even compared to when Manchester United had SAF bossing club football around.
It’s not like they haven’t spent big. That is actually the problem. They have spent shitloads on absolute dross or players that don’t fit. I am so confused why these, I assume quite smart guys, don’t say “right, we’re shit, how are we going to be the best again? That lanky git with the polytechnic degree knows about his pot noodles and tractors but if we had a guy who could get the football side of things in order just think of all the other possibilities… tampons, PPE, those toy fidget spinny things that were popular a few years ago, VR glasses, shoelaces… the number of potential official partners is endless! And we don’t even have to spend beyond our limits.. we just have to think a little bit thats all! Basically, we are REDUCING our exposure but potentially gaining so much more! No wonder we are all f**king loaded!”
Serious answers please as I’m totally lost for ideas, but why are the owners so unambitious?
I should start by saying I don’t believe in any of the ABU stuff that sometimes gets thrown in the mailbox, for the most part I’ve agreed with the assessment of Ole that he doesn’t have very distinct and well drilled patterns of play, but I do disagree with some points, and want to add on what I think he is doing wrong.
The first of which is how necessary patterns of play are; Mourinho and Ancelotti have both proved that teams don’t need to completely play in the specific style systems of Klopp and Guardiola in order to win. There is also a danger to the Klopp and Guardiola system, mainly that players tend to look really lost if that plan does not work.
Another problem, that we seen starting with City last year and it looks like we’re starting to see with Liverpool, is how mentally draining it is to play that way. You are essentially asking players to be robots, and when that information is new and fresh, results can be good, but humans wear at too much repetition. This has been frequently said about Guardiola – how taxing he is to play for. Also, it’s something Ferguson never done and I think is one of the reasons for his success. Rooney once said of Fergie that if there was a red card in a game, Fergie let the players sort it out on the pitch and it shows the way he managed. He had a way he wanted the team to play but it was a way that allowed a lot of personal freedom, and I think is one of the reasons we saw so many players play for Fergie for at least 5+ years, never mind 10+.
It can work, we’re just not seeing it fully work at Manchester United now (and Ole may not have the personality for that way).
The other thing is the players – I wrote a mail on Pogba, Martial and Rashford last week and stand by every word I said. I don’t know if it’s a generational change, but Manchester United have too many players that just don’t seem like ultra competitors. I grew up watching Rooney, Keane, Scholes, Neville, Ferdinand, Vidic and more who seemed to see competition as a matter of pride and a win as something they’d do anything to get. A loss bothered them in a way that doesn’t seem to be the way for Manchester United players right now. Even when I compare attitude from Calvert-Lewin to Martial, it is stark. Too stark.
Manchester United genuinely have at least a handful of players that it looks like a game of football is an inconvenience for them; they know they need to do it but they’d rather be doing other things. Van de Beek does seem very bothered by what he’s watching, and it’s on Ole that he’s not playing. Which brings me to..
Ole does not have an excuse for not reverting to effort with how results are right now, and it’s worse than the patterns thing or him smiling. Arteta and Moyes have both forsaken reputation and player cost in order to do what’s best for the team, and both were right to do it. I also strongly disagree with what has been said about the players cost meaning that he has failed for getting the best out of them; we’ve all watched football for too long to know that the cost of the player sometimes does not account to much – West Ham proving that now too, and there are too many other examples.
I’d judge him on not creating a plan to get the most out of the less talented players in order to discard the expensive ones, but I don’t care how much Lindelof cost; he’s a liability. I’d also judge him on not going to formation changes as well as personnel changes; why not play a 4-3-3 with two 8’s of Fernandes and De Beek with Fred sitting? Why not go to 3-4-1-2 to add solidity and play Rashford and Greenwood as strikers with De Beek in the midfield 2 and Fernandes ahead?
The other thing is this transfer window. The media doesn’t like him, and his finishing third last year seems to have a giant asterisk beside it, and even if I think he could be better (which I do), he warranted a transfer outlay this window. He went from sixth to third, his signings had performed well last year and this was a chance to kick on. That mail about Manchester United spends after getting Champions League may be hitting the nail on the head but I wouldn’t have judged Ole letting the media know there was some unhappiness.
That squad expected reinforcements, and (judging by Luke Shaw’s comments a few weeks ago) wanted them. They knew there was a gap and they knew the effort it had taken to get them to third during the Restart. It was a distraction during a time of many distractions (Maguire and Greenwood) and no pre-season. Players get excited about potential signings like fans do and it has made a difference.
Calm down Manchester United fans – there’s still plenty of hope…
Utds transfer plans have finally come to fruition, Liverpool and City are dropping points left, right and centre against teams they swept aside last season, they’re not the invincibles elect they once were.
It’s great to see we’ve signed a left back for the future, Telles at 27 years of age will offer increased competition for Shaw (25) and Williams (20) and presumably outlast both of them – this must have been a priority signing for sure.
Also good to see that we’ve added another young striker in Cavani, 33 years of age. Undoubtedly has been a fantastic player – I salute our scouts for watching him for 10 years or so to be absolutely sure before signing him – great work guys, let’s see if our medical team can do their bit now. He’ll help the other youngsters to develop and I’m sure it’s the cost effective option rather than to do what other clubs presumably waste their time and money on….coaching. I’m glad we didn’t get Sancho, he would have made those we have look bad and doesn’t have as much to learn from Cavani (might make him look bad too).
And we’ve signed a promising 23 years young midfielder in Donny. I’m sure he’ll get more minutes on the pitch at some point when the other midfielders tire or lose form. But while Pogba, Fernandes, Matic, Fred and co keep turning on the style it’s understandable there’s no place for Donny with normally only two games a week to select players for.
Central defence is where Utd have really knocked it out of the park. We have plenty of players to ‘compete’ for the central places, all with very similar abilities as each other so we may as well stick with Lindelof and Maguire. Like signing Sancho, a shiny new competent central defender would have been a problem in making what we have look even worse so probably better not to rock the boat, let’s keep telling our current highly paid stars how good they are.
All in all, we have the squad to compete on four fronts. By the start of the New Year we should hopefully be able to focus just on the league and I’d expect us to already be close to the 40 points or so required for safety.
Jon, Cape Town (I hope Fred the Red is at least safe)
Experience > wide boys
I’m no Woodward apologist, and I am certainly less than convinced about OGS as Manchester United manager, but I think a bit of balanced opinion on the relative success of United’s transfer dealings wouldn’t go amiss.
For sure if City had bought Cavani the press would have creamed themselves along the lines of ‘There you go, Pep has a gap in his squad, clicks his fingers and gets one of the world’s best strikers as a short-term fix’. Whereas Manchester United are buying a creaking yesterday’s man. I’m pretty sure the same would be said of Chelsea and or Arsenal if they had taken the chance on Cavani. If it turns out he is more Falcao than Zlatan then okay, you are all right, and I’m wrong.
As for Sancho – if ever there was an example of the ‘British Surcharge’ in evidence, then he must be it. 100 Million is a stupid price to pay for a largely untried talent, whatever the financial circumstances. I’m personally that pleased Manchester United didn’t fall for the hype. He may be an excellent player, but so too were Kagawa and Mkhitaryan … in the two-horse race that is the Bundesliga.
I think some maturity and experience in the Manchester United side is more what is needed rather than another ‘wide boy’ (in every sense) party animal. But maybe that’s just me being an old fart.
Yes, the defence is a shambles and too slow. Yes, I’d like to have seen a mobile and experienced centre back brought in. But much of the shambles must be down to the coaching, or more pertinently the lack of it.
Along with the excellent Fernandes, recent acquisitions haven’t been too bad, but I still quietly harbour a wish for Pochettino to come in and make a better fist of what is a pretty decent squad.
E.T. King (MUFC)
3 games, 3 points and a goal difference of -6 – Bad Ed. Bad, bad Ed!
It’s obviously Ed’s fault that the most expensive center back in world football looks like someone who won a raffle where the first prize was a chance to play a game with his favorite team. (And we should remember that Maguire was bought by Ole, not by Ed – you see, all the players perceived to be good were bought by Ole. Only the bad ones were bought by Ed. It’s the Manchester United Way).
It’s also clearly Ed’s fault that their highly expensive right back (Also bought by Ole, remember) spends most games chasing around the pitch looking for someone to tackle, as it’s the only thing he knows how to do. Bailly, who was bought by Ed when he plays, but was bought by Ole when he’s not, but should be, constantly shows that he is a great, physical presence, but with not a football brain cell in his head. And don’t get me started on Shaw, who’s the archetypical example of that FIFA player controlled by a 5 year old with a joy stick. Ed really screwed that one up. At least Ole now bought a new left back – or maybe Ed bought him? We’ll see when he’s had a few games.
So assembling probably the most expensive backline ever seen in the Premier League – both in terms of transfer fees and salaries – makes Ed the villain, while the guy in charge of making them play in something resembling a tactical system is seen as the blameless victim. I wish I had Ole’s job, and I’m glad I don’t have Ed’s.
P.S. Let me retract the statement regarding Maguire. Getting to play with Ole’s Manchester United team should never be more than a third prize at the most in any respectable raffle.
Smashing into the Glazers
So many angles and emotions to come at this mail but I will try be as straight and rational as possible which isn’t exactly the ‘2020 Theme’.
What is wrong in Manchester United at the moment?
No real System(Counter attacking wing play without wingers isn’t one)
Players(just don’t seem right)
Coaching(Not certain it is them but my eyes believe what they see)
Solskjaer(Naive, reminds me of me on Football Manager)
Woodword(Reminds me of an Old Trafford Jared Kushner)
Poor transfer planning(see above)
Sir Alex Ferguson( Read below)
The Glazers ( See below, below)
He may not be the manager but when he was he set the wheels in motion on the shit show that culminated on Sunday and got doubled down on, on Monday.
When he left we needed a back up for Evra, Vidic and/or Ferdinand, we still needed replacements for Keane and Scholes whilst of course Valencia was never going to replace Ronaldo.
Sir Alex amd David Gill would usualy get these transfers covered. Instead they both leave and hand the reigns to Woodward and Moyes, who replace a lot of the coaches and duly deliver us a Fellaini, a Zaha and eventually a Mata. Only one in those five where what we needed and and Moyes drops him for allegedly banging his daughter.
This is the second time it should have been fixed if ever it was. This was the time to hire Jose Mourinho and let him build a team. Coming from Madrid with some fire in his belly and a team still filled with aged champions to work with.
Instead it was LVG, who arrived late due to a World Cup, and then was given a whole bunch of ‘who the hell are theys?’ Rojo, Herrera, Blind, Depay, Darmian… all not bad, all not great and not one was a players most fans knew before Old Trafford. It showed.( I did love Herrara but rarely an 8/10 player)
I will stop the history here as we remember what happened. In came a jaded Mourinho more bitter than a tea bag sitting over night in a tea pot made out of used coffee.
He was backed in the market and you can see the holes he tried to fill. Lukaku was kind of what we needed, Matic was what we needed and so was Bailly( even though he fits in the LVG category). All of these players ultimately didn’t succeed but at least there was holes being filled.
This brings me to my point. Since SAF left, we still needed to replace Vidic and Ferdinand( Harry Maguire maybe because he cost 80m) , Evra just got replaced. There is no Keane(Matic is as close as it gets and thats like calling Keane ‘bubbly’) You could say maybe Fernandes could be a Scholes replacement( not the same player at all so no) and nobody has replaced Ronaldo just yet.
So thats a generous 4/6 & a realistic 1/6.
Adding to this was never ample replacements for Giggs, Young, Valencia, Smalling, Evans, Rooney, Nani, Hernandez, Carrick and RVP in the years that followed.
This transfer window we did finally get a RVP replacement(Only Messi and Ronaldo have more goals since 07/08 than Cavani)(thats ahead of Aguero)(Also, pretty good).
So out of those 16(6 pre SAF, 10 post SAF), we have signed 2/16 and adding in current squad members you can push this to 10/16.
In seven years we have gone from Premier League Champions who had been in 3/5 European cups finals up to that point to whatever incarnation this is. We have lost tricky wingers, solid defenders, hard working and talented midfielders and terrifying goal scorers with the club having the foresight to know when to chop and change this.
We now have a defense made of putty, no wingers, lazy and talented midfielders and terrifying occasional goals scorers with the club having about as much foresight as any human did in 2019.
This began and will finish with the Glazers.
Through amazing management and signings, SAF made a team to define an era. It was glorious but I feel it ultimately may be what kills us.
Since they arrived, successes we have had consist of Carrick, Berbz, Vidic, Evra, Van De Sar, Park, Nani, Anderson, Tevez, Hernandez, DDG and RVP pre SAF retirement. Not one didnt make sense. Thanks to SAF.
Post SAF, you could say Herrera, Martial and Ibra. Thats at a push a 3, but more fair at 2.
Blame Moyes, LVG, MouMou, Ole..even the players if you want.
The Glazers and Woodword are the common denominators of this diabolical disaster and disaster it shall remain until one, if not both are replaced.
Calvino ps sorry about the length but thats 2 days of anger spat out as calmly as possible.
Calvino at the double
Systems seem to be what all teams use now. Gone are the days we’re you send out the boys to just do what they can do.
Klopp came in with a 4 3 3. Ball playing goalie, attacking full backs, ball playing cb’s, defensive shield, hard working midfield, goal scoring wingers and a deep lying forward. Signed the most suitable people for the positions- results followed.
Pep also likes a 4 3 3. Very similar but with more passing, more guile and less energy than a klopp midfield. A lot of positional, movement and passing intelligence- results followed.
Even Leicester when they won the league with a 4 4 2. Narrow compact team, fast wingers and striker to counter, solid strong cb’s, hard workers all around as well as a midfield destroyer and playmaker.
For over ten years Man Utd typically venture with a 4 2 3 1. Who and what players for this system they think they need I will never know. Here is what they have out of the current squad:
Goalkeeper? Hendo/DDG 2/2
Attacking fullback? Just got one. 1/4
Ball playing cb’s, Harry at a push 1/6
Ball winning midfielder? No. 0/2
Deeplying playmaker? Pobga/Matic/Fred/McTomz at a push 4/2 Advanced playmaker? Bruno F/VDB 2/2
Attacking wingers? Martial/Rashford 2/4
Target man/ Goalscorer? Cavani, again at a push. 1/2
That means we have 11/24 players that we need for this system with an additional 2 deeplying playmakers.
This is not a system for our players.
Calvino (Can we just drop a CB and start with two goalies?)
AND THE HAT-TRICK
I saw a mailboxes say the mail box was incredibly Manchester United heavy, and Andrew,right you are.
Jack Grealish. Just wow. Always felt his Englishness is what made him expensive. Turns out I’m right, but he is an amazing footballer too.
Football without fans is interesting in terms of sports psychology. Would Sunday have ever happened with fans? Can certain players perform better without thousands shouting at them or some worse without it? Is that 12th man missing for some teams but helping others?
This new ‘Well the rules say hands in unnatural position..’ is the biggest load of horsesh*t ever. It still all depends on the referee and the referees are still making mistakes. Everton game at the weekend in point. One accident gets a penalty(Not much Ward could do), one accident doesnt.(DCL keeps arm is by his side, but he has time to move it, doesn’t, but doesn’t stop a goal bound shot with his arm)
The goalkeeper penalty rule. Get a grip of realty and go work for Uber. De Gea penalty saved, 2 inches of his line, retake. Ok cool. Sunday vs tottenham, stands behind the line, jumps forward, doesnt save. No retake this time. Not cool.
The play on rule seems like a solid one. Still weird me out to see it, you almost feel like you did when you were 17 and got past security for a club, not sure what to do or whats going on…but a good addition none the less.
Onto Arsenal, for the signing of Partey I say this. Possibly the new heir to the old Patrick Vieira throne.
And speaking of Arsenal thrones, The Thiery Henry throne you might say a Mr. Aubameyang currently holds as he does the precious no. 14. But, in the Premier League, the most befitting of such an honor I would bestow upon none other than Spurs superstar Son. His first goal on the weekend just oozed Henry. Be takes games to teams almost individually and is so quick. Thierry Heung-Min!
Record number of penalties for a season. Record goals for a season.