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Are you Ross Barkley in disguise?
As the dust settles on another mediocre season at Old Trafford where the PR machines performance outperformed the actual team, there is one particular player that needs addressing, Marcus Rashford. A young English star blessed with pace and trickery but there’s something not quite right. I have a theory, he is Ross Barkley in disguise. Ross, all the athletic and footballing ability you could ask for but flatters to deceive on a consistent basis.
Rashford when you take his pens out is failing to break double figures in open play goals, I think around the 8 mark, those are centre midfielder numbers and not a great centre midfield at that. Infact if you look at Rashfords stats for Utd as a whole, they don’t really make very good reading. You could say I’m being harsh but am I? 4 seasons in and no real improvements. Utd sweaties will argue about me not taking into account the penalties but let’s be honest, a)the manager chooses who scores those b) it’s usually a big ego player that hits them which Rashford could not be accused of lacking c) You cannot successfully plan for a season banking on getting 25 or whatever ridiculous amount of penalties that Utd received this year.
So what’s wrong? Rashford not unlike Barkley plays for himself a lot, whether it is a nice trick followed by a net buster when an easy pass is on or something of that ilk is all well and good but not sustainable if you’re trying to win trophies. Whether it’s the fact that Ross and Marcus learnt their trade at clubs that were struggling for any real quality when they burst on the scene and were perhaps told to go out there and do what you want as your the talent.
Now Rashford isn’t the spotlight man at Utd and they are beginning to bring in players of quality, he’s perhaps finding it tough to integrate into the team rather than being the team in the last few years. This is all just theory but something utd need to address because Rashford has not been anywhere near consistent throughout his Utd career and the tag of youngster is wearing thin due to him emabarking on his 5th season. If Sancho does arrive this summer it might be Rashford who could be casualty in the starting eleven for me as I feel the other two (martial and Greenwood) are much more impressive. English football might have another Ross Barkley conundrum. Thoughts?
Dodgy De Gea again?
There seems to be much criticism of Wan-Bissaka (rightly so) for Sevilla’s goals last night, but I was surprised to see no mention of de Gea’s bizarre attempt at saving the first from Suso.
Most goalkeepers in the world who use a more conventional, ‘’save the bloody thing with your hands technique’’ dive full length at that shot and amazingly save the bloody thing with their hands, instead de Gea drags his arse across the floor like a dog with fleas, to try and get his feet on it and gets nowhere near it!
Now I’m certainly no Utd fan and have been pretty pleased with their strong’ish’ end to the season so they’re forced to stick with OGS. But I’m really intrigued to see how the goalkeeper situation plays out there, as for me Henderson is now a no-brainer to be utd number 1. So it’s a huge call to make and will take some serious cojones which, if he makes it, could be the making of OGS in my opinion.
Mark (other end of the east lands)
Now I know none of the goals were technically De Gea’s responsibility, but he is simply our bad luck charm in these games. I simply do not understand why Solskjaer brings De Gea in for these games. 3 cup competitions. Romero wins all his games. We bring in De Gea for the semis, we lose all 3 semis. Coincidence? I think not. Maybe Romero curses them or something since he does nothing wrong to be left out of the team.
Hassan, Netherlands (Yes I am superstitious!)
PS. Mourinho played Romero throughout the competition, Mourinho won!
Is Ole now a ‘bottler’ too?
Considering Lamps got named a bottler by a number of United fans for losing 2 finals, does this mean Ole is now a bottler too? Nobody seemed to consider how well we played against Liverpool before losing on pens, or how unlucky we were against arsenal, so clearly all that matters is the result. On that note, did Pep bottle this season? What actually makes a manager a bottler?
Tashen, South Africa (not interested in Ole vs Frank, both had decent seasons all things considered)
European results show how poor PL was this season…
Supporting United throughout the Fergie era, I do not remember being interested about where Liverpool ended up so long as United were champions. Apparently Ipswich Town finished fifth one year, who knew.
In fact, if anything, the European results show how poor the Premier League was this season. Atletico (or Atlethico as Pool fans call them- would be like calling Liverpool Liverphool.) comfortable winners enough vs the defending champions, who in turn went down without a fight to RB Leipzig. Considering Barca’s obvious struggles vs Bayern, is Liverpool’s comeback last season that impressive now?
And then you have City, who lost nine league games this season but were still considered favourites for the Champions League, absolutely screw up against a team facing into no European football for the first time in a generation. Top clubs were never so weak collectively.
The fact that Fergie could win a league AND qualify for a CL final in the same season puts him ahead of everyone.
My only gripe in the Seville v Man U game was how biased the english commentary was, just like it was in the Man City game. I half wonder if the Spanish commentators spoke of “Nuestros chicos luche duro” when Man City beat Real. Anyway, why don’t they just call the match in English and loose the bias? Is it that hard to do? The talk of “VAR is robbing our teams” when a decision goes against Man U and then reference a foul against Man City in the previous game. Where is the professionalism? I was not actually going to post until I heard Maguire’s post-match interview saying they deserved to win and were the better team and all that jazz about creating chances and still loosing. Sounds very Wenger-like to me, where Roy Keane at?
Man U only played the first 10 minutes of each half and then Seville took control for the rest of the half. They controlled both the midfield and the wings. Both teams played a 4-3-3, the fact that Man U could only sustain 10 minutes against Benega, Jordan, and Fernando has me questioning what the noise is all about Pogba, Fernandez. Ever Benega was the best player out there and it’ll be a huge loss for Seville when he leaves next season. I was surprised though, I didn’t think the Man U midfield had a bad game per se, but the team was totally outplayed. I question the tactics and the coaching. These are superstars, being outplayed at their own game by class B actors. The quality wasn’t even close, the pattern of play of Seville was above whatever Man U were attempting, infact, I didn’t know what Man U were doing other than relying on individual brilliance. This is the next team after Barca to loose by relying on individual brilliance rather than, you know, actually coaching a team. Second half was the same, except this time,the penalty wasn’t given, and after the first 10 minutes, it was all Seville.
I don’t even think this was an upset, like the Man City loss was, Man U are just not very good. The players are enticing, but the coaching is way below par.
Dave(It’d be great to see a Seville v Inter final), Somewhere
Not a great game from us defensively last night. The back four look very shakey without Matic screening (which is damning in its own right). AWB didn’t have a great game and has looked weak under crosses the whole season but I was shocked to see F365 pin the second goal on him.
There is a wonderful camera angle that shows Lindelof casually looking across the line with his arm out as if he is ushering the cross out for a goal kick – while the ball is being pummeled into the back of the net. I would certainly hope that the CB would take responsibility for clearing the danger, especially if he knows AWB is weak in the air.
For me, Clive, Fred doesn’t work as a screening midfielder (or really any position) and Lindelof doesn’t work in a back 2 where he is expected to, you know, deal with crosses.
Overall disappointing result but still a positive season.
Thomas, Cape Town
I assume Paul Murphy,Manchester is a recent convert to following the Red devils? If last nights performance from Sevilla annoyed you then you most certainly missed every performance Utd put in against Liverpool under Mourinho.
Sevilla time wasted??Every single free or throw in conceded Ashley Young held onto the ball for 5-10 seconds and then threw it behind the Liverpool player.Same guy took 10,15 secs to take every throw in and as for corners?? Sauntered over to take every one and took about 20 seconds to take it.
Theatrics??Are you kidding me??
If a Liverpool player looked at Herrera he was down holding his leg,not to mention Mourinho on the sideline holding onto footballs and taking an eternity to take substitutions. De Gea took forever to take kick outs,regularly moving the ball from one side of the six yard box to the other.
This was referred to as a “masterclass” from the Portuguese Pullis.Any dissenting voices were seen as whingers and it wasn’t theatrics from a Mourinho team,just that Klopp and Liverpool were naive.The last time Utd beat Liverpool was 2-1 in 2018 at Old Trafford,same scoreline as last night.
Utds theatrics were identical to what Sevilla got up to,and it was worse that Utd were doing it as Utds squad cost far more then Liverpools,you could kind of understand Sevilla doing it due to the financial disparity. And no one ever compare AWB to TAA.
Like comparing Insua to Dennis Irwin.
Loving the irony of Man Utd fans in this morning’s mailbox complaining about Sevilla players cheating and diving when Brandon Williams and Bruno Fernandes both had penalty ‘appeals’ waved away by the referee that looked suspiciously like dives…
Dave Horgan, Dublin
Man Utd were unlucky…
Can all the ManYoo fans calm down? By all statistics apart from goals, Man Utd were the better team. They had 20 attempts to Sevilla’s 9, 33% of the game was in Sevilla’s defensive third compared to 25% in Man Utd’s, Utd were dispossessed by Sevilla 9 times but took the ball off of them 17 times, and completed 24 dribbles to 14. They should have won. In fact, if you played that game 100 times they would win the majority of them. Like Liverpool against A Madrid earlier this season, Utd were not outplayed. They just got unlucky. And frankly that’s why we love football – the best team does not always win. If you don’t like it, go and watch the NBA or the MLB.
On a serious note though, Stephen Warnock was quoted in the BBC’s live chat saying “Paul Pogba has disappointed at times. He has been the lazy player tonight.” By the end of the game he had completed the most key passes (4) and dribbles (9) of any United player, and finished with a pass accuracy of 90%, which only Lindelof bettered. According to WhoScored, he was not just the best United player, but the best player on the pitch by quite a margin.
Football commentators need to have a good hard look at themselves. The Professional Footballers’ Association recently released a report that shows that commentators more commonly praise white players than black players for being hard working, intelligent, and showing leadership. While they are far more likely to praise black players for their strength and speed. Let’s be clear, these commentators are perpetuating age old racist stereotypes. So when PFM like Stephen Warnock call the best player on the pitch, who also happens to be black, “lazy” and “disappointing”, we should it call out for what it is. It is a racist comment that serves nobody but a rent-a-quote ex-professionals who has nothing better to do with his time than parrot stereotypes.
United we fall…
I have said it before in the mailbox and been criticised by United fans and rival fans alike but Ole is not at the level required for a Manchester United manager, even this incarnation of United. I have seen countless people cite the lack of options on the bench as the reason no change was made until the 87th minute but that just screams of a manager with no plan B.
Since Fernandes has come in the attacking dynamics have changed and he has led an improved mentality of closing down and tracking back. The starting 11 basically picks itself, the only variance being dependant on Matic’s legs. But you can’t pick them for every feckin’ match! No wonder they are knackered looking. AWB has rightly come in for a lot of criticism but it must be mitigated by the fact that he has no back-up, or none that the manager is willing to play at least.
Managers are generally derided with the old adage of “I don’t think he knows his best 11, Jeff” but in Ole’s case that seems to me to be the only thing he knows. Your best eleven is your best eleven for a reason but there has been so little rotation since lockdown that the players are exhausted and, if you play the same team with the same tactics every single match it will not be long until every team knows how to counter that.
The fact that the game was drifting a bit between that 10 minute period at the start of the second half and the Sevilla winner should ahve been prompting Ole to make a change that was going to alter the course of the match. Instead he sat on his hands with half the team dead on their feet and offered nothing by way of tactical or personnel changes that could effect change in the game. That is a manager out of his depth who does not have the tactical nouse to use his substitutions to turn the situation around.
Piss poor defending caused the goal but that didn’t need to be the final act, a change in tactics or players could have helped United get back into it but as soon as Sevilla scored the second United were at a loss to do anything to get back into the game and that falls squarely on the manager. If it were up to me I would nab Poch before he gets formally approached by Barca.
Mangore United, Belfast
‘Plastic treble’ and other weekend musings
What a weekend? Some thoughts if I may:
1) City – if nothing else this sets up a potential humdinger next season. Recently been debating which team of the current City and Liverpool may lay claim to being ‘the best’ in this little period of time. It has the legs to be the modern day United – Arsenal from the early 00’s. Three seasons – City with two premier league titles, Liverpool with one and the Champions league. Next goal wins?
2) Pundits – Don’t need to comment further on Scholes, but Stephen Warnock on 5live. I despair. ‘United are way off challenging’, then literally the next sentence – ‘Sign a centre-half and they will challenge for the title next season’. I know standards are low, and they are footballers not writers, but is it too much to ask for a basic level of competence and insight?
3) United – ‘3 semi-finals and a 3rd place finish is good’. Well in 2001, Liverpool finished 3rd and won all 3 of those trophies. Playing 63 games (for those lamenting the length of Wolves’/United’s season) along the way. They call it the ‘plastic treble’, now it’s aspirational. I’m bloody loving it.
I have to say I thought United were by far the better team last night. Its not easy to get to semi finals and/or finals, and once you’re there anything can happen.
This is Oles first year too, so I think if he can make a final next year, then that’s what I call progress and if he can win one the following year then that’s exactly good enough to again be considered progress.
Less of the over reactions, that team will learn more from these defeats than they’ll learn from winning them.
I, like most have had a good chuckle at united over the last few years but what I seen last night was a for more coherent side than iv seen in years for united.
Progress is progress, if they can start signing players that fit the bill rather than constantly looking to spend 80 to 100 million on apparent “superstars” it won’t be long until they’re challenging.
I was disappointed no one mentioned B. Silvas tweet this morning, the guy who upon winning a league, sang about Liverpool fans being “battered in the streets” around the same time Sean Cox was on life support, has he no self awareness what so ever? Has a player ever snapped at another fan base before over memes?
Congratulations on KDB too, well deserved POTY no arguments, a special talent.
City looked jinxed in Europe, they probably shouldn’t of sang about Liverpool loosing a final they’ve yet to reach, its a classic mistake the football gods don’t take kindly too, a bit like when Gerrard mentioned “don’t slip” and then we’ll, slipped!
Speaking of which is the sterling miss the modern day Gerrard slip?
Bayern look sensational (and will win the thing) but let’s not forget this Barca side have serious work ethic issues, coupled with a unwavering sense of entitlement, case in point: every time vidal does a pre match presser, Jesus christ how many testicles has he left to bet with!
Anyway this little summer football bonanza has been great.
City CL exit
There will be many, many words written about this latest Champions League defeat for Guardiola and City, and Minty LFC has by far written the worst of them.
“Living off past success, increasingly unable to justify the enormous amounts he demands to spend in order to generate even moderate levels of success.”
What utter nonsense. City and Guardiola won a domestic treble – something that had not been done before – last season. They achieved 98 points, after a season in which they got 100 points. Sure Guardiola has failed to deliver in Europe, and should be rightly criticized for it, but living off past success? Moderate levels of success? You’re talking about one of the most successful managers in the history of the game, who is still doing it at the highest level, despite having a poor season. Maybe wait for a couple more seasons like this one before you start regurgitating this tripe!
Néill, (Grow up and cut out the hyperbolic tribalism), Ireland
This may be a little late as Utd have just sh*t the bed against Sevilla but I haven’t submitted to the mailbox in a while and felt compelled to offer my thoughts as Man City have been taking a lot of stick in the media and from opposition fans, including in the mailbox. As there doesn’t seem to be a lot of city fans’ perspectives at the moment I thought I would contribute something of a general defence of a club I have supported and loved my entire life.
Most of the criticism from other fans seems to stem from the idea that we’ve apparently emerged from nowhere and we are ‘plastic’. However, as a sweeping statement, if you say City have no history you are a unfortunately a complete idiot. By domestic honours won we are the (joint) 5th most successful club in English football history. If you think there are only 4 relevant English clubs in the game you can’t really call yourself a football fan. We have also won the joint most 2nd Division titles in the history of the English game. This may help appease some of you who view football through a spreadsheet but it is also largely beside the point. History isn’t just titles won and glamorous nights in Europe; football history is as much Rosler as it is Ronaldo and as much Trautmann as Terry. Any fan who says we have no history betrays their own ignorance and not only insults City but also virtually every football club in England. By this logic you dismiss the history and validity of any club who haven’t always been successful but who have their own character and community, their own heroes and villains and their own stories.
We may not always have the most media hype or garner the most clicks and we may not always even fill our own stadium but we are a unique and historic club with a tightknit community which, unusually for a successful side, has most of its fan base from the local area. Yes we’ve spent money but who hasn’t? Lamentedly you simply can’t take a team to the top of English football without it and yes Sheikh Mansour is dodgy but all billionaires have more than a few skeletons in their closet. Our owners no longer pump money in – the club has turned record profits this year and are completely financially stable and independent – we just required an initial investment and some smart financial planning. Almost all successful clubs have received something similar and many were accused of what we now call financial doping as far back as the 1920s. Once again whilst this may appease some it is beside the point – if you can’t see that a club is more than just a commercial machine with owners and profits and losses and debts then the game really has become the soul-sucking commercialised facade it sometimes appears.
We may have just been ignominiously dumped out of the champions league and we really did not play well but if Dembele’s first had been given as a goal against United or Liverpool there would’ve been a nationwide inquest. Guardiola has won us 2 premier league titles, played the best football I have ever seen in the process and most importantly added to the legend and history of our club. We mourn every defeat and celebrate every victory no matter what division we found ourselves in and whether we are cheering on Kevin De Bruyne or Stephen Ireland. I wonder how many fans of the other big 6/7/8 could say the same?
I’ve been trying to understand the pros and cons for signing for Real or Barca.
Pro: You are joining undoubtedly one of the top 5 teams in the world, and the prestige is like nowhere else
Cons: You are joining two highly dysfunctional clubs who are so focused on dominating and winning their leagues to the detriment of everything else
Pro: You get to play with the best players in the world, learning from them
Cons: You don’t actually get to play because your manager is likely to last only 6 months and if you don’t score a hattrick every game you will be unfavourably compared to Ronaldo (Perfect example is Gareth Bale, a man who has scored in 3 CL finals for them and is still said to be not good enough – Real fans, you some ungrateful MFs)
Pro: You’ll be paid a handsome wage…
Cons: To sit on your backside, or to be loaned to another club. Sure, you’re financially secure, but the peak of your career is dribbling away
I look at Coutinho, Dembele and Griezmann. I look Odengaard Luka Jovic, Kovacic and Ceballos and wonder, ‘are they happy where they are, or would they rather be playing’?
I think about the teams they could be in, and the goals they could score. Mbappe is a phenom, but I am glad he isn’t at one of those clubs yet, as any drop in form could kill his confidence.
Basically, this is around about way of saying, personally, I wouldn’t sign for them. And I get that some people will say that those other players were big fish in little ponds and couldn’t hack it, but I don’t believe that is true. I think those clubs, and their hoarding of talent, is bad for the game, and they have unhealthy environments which are only suited to certain type of temperament .
John Matrix AFC
Arsenal or Man Utd: Who has had the better season?
Hello everyone. Full disclosure (Arsenal fan here, so I might be a BIT biased).
So I asked a question on a group with some friends about who has had the better season; Arsenal or United. The replies I got were along the lines of “United by far” “Not even in the same ballpark”. Everyone else was sure it wasn’t even close.
I sure remember a time when Arsenal were mocked for only being able to make top four every season. “Trophies are all that matters” , they said.
Now, I’m the first to admit, Arsenal’s league position is an absolute disgrace and our season has been horrible BUT we won a trophy. United fans can’t say the same. One of my friends said United reaching two semifinals and securing CL qualification for next season automatically makes it a great season but what’s the point of qualifying if you KNOW your chances of winning are slim to none. After all, It’s trophies or nothing
I would love for neutral fans to weigh in.
Iyanu (Glass 1/4ths full) Nigeria
Always linked, never signed?
With reports that Chelsea are looking at the potential signing of Alex Sandro this morning in the media, it was yet another name that as a Chelsea fan I feel we are always being linked with yet never seem to sign, many come to my mind over the years, the likes of Robinho, Edinson Cavani and of course Hulk of Porto, Zenit and now Shanghai SIPG fame, but we all know about the players consistently linked with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, what I would like to hear from other Mailboxers is which player or players do you feel are always linked with your club but never end up signing? This can be as from any year, any decade and any time at all really.
Looking forward to the responses, we could even call it the “Wesley Sneijder Award”
In defence of UEFA…
I like Jonny Nic and enjoy reading his columns. However, I feel his hatred of all things modern and anything that contains the faintest whiff of money colours his judgement sometimes. His critique of UEFA and the Champions League format contains a degree of truth but misses many key points. I am my no means UEFA’s greatest fan, but here is the case for the defence.
Firstly, on seeding. Jonny argues that seeding is ‘rigging the draw’ implying that UEFA have somehow corrupted our senses, blinding us to the true nature of what they’re up to. Firstly, seeding is not rigging the draw. The point of seeding is to ensure the tournament results reflects the best teams, i.e. the eight best teams make up the quarters and the four best teams make the semi finals. If you’re genuinely the second best team in the tournament, you deserve to make it to the final. What would be unfair is for the two strongest teams to meet in round one, with a guarantee that one of them is going to be sent home.
Secondly, if seeding truly is rigging the draw, then every single sport in the world is up to the same corrupt scheme. Was the World Snooker Championships rigged because the draw was seeded? What about the Rugby World Cup? Or the World Darts Championships? The men’s 100m at the Olympics? What about at Wimbledon, where seeding has taken place since 1927?
If anything, the Champions League is unusual because, unlike say Wimbledon, there isn’t a guarantee that the top two ranked teams will be kept separate before the final. They can meet as early as the last 16, or if both win their group, the quarter finals. UEFA also changed the rules around 5 years ago for the top seeds in the group. This meant that Leicester, who previously would have been 4th seeds, became top seeds because they won the Premier League.
The second part of the article that I would take issue with is the idea that a group stage is something favouring the larger clubs, whereas a single knockout tie would be embraced by the smaller teams. This couldn’t be further from the truth. As Jonny says himself, the FA cup shows that the top teams will advance anyway, so what happens to the lesser clubs? They play one match, maybe two, get knocked out, then they’re out of Europe in September or October. One or two may make a slightly longer run, but for the majority it would be a massive anticlimax.
Under the current format, making the group stage gives the club a guaranteed six matches. Financially that is important, but its also about more than that. It’s three away trips around Europe. It’s three home ties where you can welcome some of the best players in the world to your club. Take a team like Slavia Prague, who were competing this year in the group stage and the European cup in general for the only the second time in their history. They were drawn in a group with Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona. While they lost all 3 games at home, they achieved very creditable draws in the San Siro and the Nou Camp. Do you really think they would rather play a one legged tie where they could go out after one game?
The group stage isn’t perfect and I agree that it can feel like a drag. While the format is certainty about money, it also allows fans of smaller clubs to enjoy the European journey through to December.
As for the idea of a single legged tie in the knockout stage, I’m completely against this also. Some of the greatest moments of recent Champions League history (Liverpool and Roma v Barcelona, United V PSG, Tottenham v Ajax) have come from a team being able to overturn a first legged deficit. The format has been fine for this year as a necessity, but would fans really want to give up the opportunity of watching team in a European quarter or semi-final and not getting to watch the match at home? To finish by giving Jonny a little taste of the past: Do we need changes? Not for me Clive.
Mike, LFC, London