Thank you for your mails. Keep them coming to email@example.com
I have a ‘horrible feeling’ about Lingard…
My main reason for writing in is to discuss the transfer dealings for United this summer, but before I get to that, I would just like to backup James Galway’s point about…points. I agree that it really doesn’t matter how many points you get in a season if you achieve your goals. Do you think that Bournemouth are comforted by the fact that they wouldn’t have been relegated in any of the previous three seasons with this year’s stats? One might want to add a bit of gloss to it in their own memory, and that’s fine, but don’t be surprised that literally nobody else gives one. To quote Gimli in Return of the King, after Legolas has just taken down an oliphaunt/mûmakil: “That still only counts as one”.
Anyway, onto transfers. While I agree with all five suggestions in Steady’s ditch list, I would be surprised if they all happened. I know West Ham were linked with Phil Jones, but surely David Moyes isn’t actually so stupid as to buy a permanently injured, average-at-best CB (hi, Jonny Dance!) who has a propensity for own goals. I can’t see Pereira leaving because Ole seems to rate him and he doesn’t seem to want to leave either. Rojo I expect will go but only if Woodward lowers his demands – anything in the region of £5m would be a win for me.
I also don’t think that Lingard is going anywhere. I have this horrible feeling that he’s going to end up with a new deal, but if not then I can’t really see too many teams wanting to sign him, at least not teams he thinks are up to his standard. I think we let Mata decide what he wants to do; if he wants to stay then great, no issues there, and if he wants to leave then we should not stand in his way and acceptable a nominal fee. He’s been a brilliant servant to the club in one of our worst periods and has never caused any problems, while still contributing plenty, so he writes his own ticket as far as I’m concerned.
Obviously, you can add Smalling and Sanchez to those five as two we need to move on. As for who build around, those are all givens, except Pogba. I still wouldn’t be putting too much stock in his commitment to United, and I still wouldn’t care if he left. If he stays then fine, but I certainly wouldn’t be increasing his (already ridiculous) wages any further.
In terms of who we sign: we really need three as a minimum but if we get those done early and manage to shift the unwanted players then maybe push it to five. Those key three would be: centre-back, centre-midfield, and right-wing. A right-winger (not like Farage, I mean) is the absolutely crucial position to sign. If we get Sancho, Sarr, Grealish, Dembele or Coman (or one of the other 427 names linked) then that should ease the creative burden on Bruno a bit, meaning he can miss the odd match without too much impact.
Lindelof is a decent option at centre back but he has his limitations. We really need someone with better strength and pace to sit alongside Maguire (and to make up for his lack of pace). Bailly and Tuanzebe can be good but neither are reliable in terms of fitness. Before his most recent injury, I would have loved Ake but I would be wary of just signing another player who we can’t rely on to be fit consistently.
The final key position to strengthen is Matic’s. I know he’s only just signed a new deal but we need to be thinking long term in that position because there were still signs of the old, unreliable Matic in those last few games, and I don’t think either Fred or McTominay are really options for that position. If the rumours are true about Conte wanting to get rid of Marcelo Brozovic then a swap for him and Sanchez works for me.
If we get those done early doors and manage to get rid of the aforementioned unwanted players, then we could look at bringing in either a left- or right-back. If Max Aarons is supposedly available for £18m then I would snap your hands off there. The other position that we could maybe look at is centre-forward, but I’m wary about putting too many obstacles in Greenwood’s path. If it was someone who was happy to be a bit-part player then that would be ok, but I don’t think we will see a first-choice striker come in because I can’t see Ole dropping Martial or Greenwood (assuming Rashford is now an out-and-out left forward).
The biggest requirement is that we need to act swiftly and decisively; no p*ssing about for the entire window haggling over price like we did with Maguire. Pick your targets and get them done early or move on to the next. If the only signing we make this summer is Sancho then that is workable, but again – get him in early or move on. Then again, this is Woodward we’re talking about so I’m not holding my breath.
Stop judging Ole because he’s not a crazy b**tard
Listening to all the talk, I notice there is real tendency to stereotype Ole as a simpleton. Nice guy but no great thinker. Perhaps it’s his Northern European background, coming from a relative footballing minnow country, rather than Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, or Argentina where the world’s great coaches hail from. That, coupled with his Mancunian twang, almost makes him sound like a second cousin of the good old fashioned plucky English manager, who is already over-achieving.
Please put your hands up now if at the start of the season, you thought that Manchester United would end the season in 3rd place (I put it at 1% of all the pundits), be playing a genuinely exciting attacking brand of football, would be successful both against the top teams (counter-attacking) as well as the bottom ones (dominating possession). Also that we would have a front 3 that would outscore Liverpool’s front 3 and have the signing of the season, and blood into the first team one of the hottest attacking talents in England. Oh and have the 3rd best defence in the League by the narrowest of margins. Did I mention go unbeaten for the last third of the season?
That in a nutshell is Ole’s CV over the past 12 months. Don’t be fooled by his nice guy attitude. He’s made things quite clear to Rojo, Perira, and even fan favourites such as Mata, as to where they stand. He hasn’t been bullied by Pogba’s agent, and has subtly but clearly told the media pack what he thinks of their predictions. And at no point has he ever thrown any player under the bus, no matter how egregious their mistakes were.
In my professional life, I’ve learnt that people who are really good at their job make it sound very simple. And when you hear them speak, you’re lulled into believing that anybody could do that. The great gift a lot of successful people have is clarity of thought and this ability to simplify. That’s what Sir Alex had. At no point, when you heard him speak or read his autobiographies, did you feel that he had any rocket science approach. It’s a percentage game. If you need goals, you’re going to need a good goalscorer, and you’re going to have to feed him. Van Persie talks about how he told Scholes and co off – he told them ‘I’ve got a goal scorer and you don’t pass to him, you’re off the team’. And if your forwards aren’t getting into scoring positions, you’re not likely to get the goals. Solskjaer has simplified United’s football. We needed a creator, we needed defensive upgrades, we needed more goals. Now we know we need a right winger. Really, it’s not rocket science.
Klopp’s football isn’t that complicated either. Defend from the front, press high. Have your full backs capable of delivering excellent crosses. Have forwards who can capitalise. Great managers aren’t always trying to reinvent the game. But fans, led by the media create the myth and the brand. Klopps brand ‘heavy metal football’ has an evocative ring to it. Ole’s version which he calls ’the Man United way’ is a matter of derision. Which is strange because it’s delivered more titles than any other, over the past 30 years. I’m not suggesting in any way that Ole = Klopp. And I’m not saying he’s better or worse than Lampard. All I’m saying is stop judging him because he doesn’t channel his inner crazy b**tard, or have the right surname. He’s not just a baby-faced Sam Alardicci.
Ved Sen, MUFC
Rejoice in third place but put it into context…
I see a few people have issues with my appraisal of Utds season. Let me clear it up, I meant regarding the points, Utd can sit and pat themselves on the back for finishing third in a season where Chelsea where on an embargo, arsenal and spurs changed their manger during the season but the gap grew to first place. I believe that last season was a bit of an outlier regarding Utds rivals form and to be happy in your minds being third is naive. I was looking at it on the basis that Utd should rate their season against the best team in the league as correct me if I’m wrong but Utd are the 2nd biggest club in the world and want to get back to winning titles as soon as possible right? Utd were 33 points behind 1st, half of your entire seasons points haul and closer to relagation than winning it so by all means rejoice in your 3rd place but please put it into context. Silver lining greenwood looks a star in the making.
Is the Big six still a thing?
Dear Football 365,
Looking at the league table I wonder if this is the end of the “top 6” renamed as “big 6.” I’m not trolling anyone here but I put it to you that the time has probably come to return to talking about the “top four,” as more is expected from Liverpool, the Manchester clubs, and Chelsea, than from Arsenal and Spurs next season.
Also, we’ve been able to see a big shake-up in the established order with Leicester and Wolves. If we’re going to talk about a big 6 we might as well consider a big 8.
Or a big 5, if you consider Leicester as most likely challengers of the elite.
On what basis is a PL club considered “big”? Is it budget, fan base, trophies or what?
Paul in Brussels
Goad Man Utd fans…really??
Jon,Cape Town seems to be typical of a lot of Utd fans who seem to delight in saying Liverpool fans would “rather goad Utd fans then delight in their own win.”
In May 2011 Utd won their 20th league title to go ahead titles wise of Liverpool for the first time.They did this by drawing at Blackburn on a Saturday.
How did Utd fans celebrate?A long weekend of partying and enjoying your success and not goading Liverpool fans surely??
Liverpool were playing Spurs at Anfield on the Sunday.
Utd fans bought tickets to this belter of a game(which,bear in mind was a meaningless end of season game)for the main stand and the Reebok Stand.They smuggled in a banner with the number 20 on it,dangled it from the upper tier of the Reebok Stand, took a picture of it from the main stand and posted it on a well known Utd website and on twitter.
This was less then 24 hours after Utd went ahead of Liverpool in the number of titles and Utd fans have the temerity to accuse Liverpool fans of goading.
And every single Utd game(home or away) Utd fans cannot wait to sing anti Scouse fans laughing at poverty and food deprivation in Liverpool(whilst passing food banks on the way to Old Trafford mind)so please get off that high horse of yours.
PS. Wonder will Rashford magnificent charity work helping out millions of hungry kids all over the UK finally put an end to Utd fans belting out the “hillarious” feed the scousers ditty…I highly doubt it sadly.
Ryan Fraser – damaged goods?
I notice Ryan Fraser being linked with Crystal Palace this morning, presumably to replace Zaha. Having previously been linked with Spurs, Arsenal etc, I’ve wondered if his decision not to help prevent Bournemouth’s relegation in case he got injured may be one of the most stupid and counterproductive decisions of recent times?
Due diligence on player signings are more stringent than ever: they are expensive investments that require deep consideration on a range of factors. Any elite manager needs players they can trust to be a team player and show great attitude, irrespective of their talent. Does he really the likes of Arteta, Mourinho et al would look at Fraser’s decision to abandon Bournemouth in their hour of need and say “well at least he didn’t get injured “?
Given he’s (a) a talented player at a good age and (b) free to sign, it’s very telling that links to top 10 sides have faded. Whoever has been advising him should hang their head in shame.
The manager aesthetic
Credit to F365 for admitting that Merse was right and they were wrong when it came to Marco Silva. At times in the past they dug their heels in on some indefensible in-house positions (the “genius” of Lukaku was a peculiar one), but this wasn’t one of those occasions.
What the whole Silva affair reveals is a phenomenon that I think is very powerful but little discusses in football, and that is this:
The Manager Aesthetic.
The manager aesthetic essentially holds that you can tell if someone is a good manager or not by their superficial qualities alone. Good managers “look” a certain way, and bad managers “look” another way.
Broadly I would define those aesthetics like this.
– Continental (especially Spanish)
– Young ish
– Unknown as players
– Stylishly dressed
– Favour “modern” passing football
– Wrong side of 50
– Possibly fat
– Big names
– Ex players of club they’re managing
– Wear tracksuits
– Liked by Paul Merson
As you can see, Marco Silva is the archetypal “good manager”, and I genuinely think that his superficial alignment with this aesthetic is the main reason for the persistence with him in the game. I would even go so far as to say that his name being reminiscent of David Silva (the last word in continental sophistication) is more influential than anyone would dare admit. Sounds stupid, but it all contributes.
For this reason I can understand why F365 and many others kept faith with him, while people who are immune to the manager aesthetic (“PFMs” typically) judged him more on his merits and were perplexed by his high reputation.
Yes, in this case PFMs were able to see things far more clearly, because aside from anything else the one thing you *can* say for them is that they are immune to fashion, which is essentially what the manager aesthetic is all about.
Obviously this is a knife that cuts both ways. Just as there are overrated managers who align with the aesthetic, there are underrated managers who don’t.
The most topical of these is ex-legends of clubs. Ex-legends are very much against the concept (even though the arguable model for the aesthetic, Pep Guardiola, was one). However, viewed objectively, it does indeed appear that ex-legends have *better* hit rates than outsider managers.
Lampard, Ole, Zidane- all are doing better than trendy technicians tried before them. However all were seen as “sentimental” appointments to appease idiot fans by the very same people who, at the time, would probably have argued that Marco Silva should be given a crack at those jobs.
At the end of the day, we all judge books by their covers, and we all have our own built in biases. And often, these are for good reason. F365 have their reasons, as does Paul Merson- and both have a point.
But I’m hopeful that recent developments will prompt us to think about managers differently.
And who knows, maybe even bring back Glenn Hoddle!
What an entertaining place to be…
I just have to say, this is the most interesting F365 has been since I’ve been here. From the halfhearted appraisals of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to ‘baitingly’ putting him above super Frankie(best manager itw according to Chelsea fans) in the 19/20 manager ranking. I love this game!! ahahaha.And oh, say me hi to Mr Matt ‘praised Ole at length’ Stead.
Pros and cons from first season under Lamps…
So just an fyi, I am gunning for one of those ‘response from a reasonable fan’-type titles to my mail.Lamps, I too have felt pain when seeing his name criticised on this page. Maybe it’s due to years of defending him from other fans saying he only scores deflected goals and tap ins and obviously the ‘fat’ Frank moniker – so maybe I am being defensive. So to examine this objectively, and in spite of it all going t*ts up for Ross in friends, I made a pros and cons list.
New direct style of play – Sarriball was getting soporific. Lamps has integrated high press, fast attacking play almost from day one (and planned well for it during pre-season). He has kept playing it out from the back, even with CBs like Zouma who gives Chelsea fans nightmares with his first touch.
Game-changing substitutions – 365 towers claimed this was just addressing mistakes in starting lineups but I feel seeing a problem and correcting it mid-game as a strong signal for a good tactician. Has also been shown to have benefitted from the additional breaks since restart – again showing this tactical nous.
Tactical flexibility – Also a nice change from Sarri. And the players seem well-coached whenever switching formations. Take the 3-4-3 used against wolves who spent the whole season (and last) using that formation.
Big game manager – I know this is very subjective but the players always seem up for it and produce in important games – Spurs (top 4 on the line), Ajax (away, toughest game of group), Lille (needed this to qualify), City (home, post-restart run-in was the toughest of all and really needed this win) and of course United (semifinal, had lost a bunch of times to the same team but won arguably the most important one). Yes, I realise we are now going to lose the fa cup final and obviously he needs to prove this in more big games.
No favourites – Really seems to pick players on form. Not as myopic as Sarri
Great transfer game – See the recent quotes from Werner? Has that stature and explains his vision well
Inconsistent performances – Maybe it is the players’ fault. Countless times we have switched to a 3 at the back, got a huge win followed by a hugely deflating loss. Could be opposition adapting to what they have seen in the previous game but it is desperately inconsistent.
Defensive coaching – We were terrible at defending transitions initially. I think this has gradually improved as the season has worn on though. What has not is set-piece defending. I feel sorry for Frank as he started with zonal, switched to a mix of markers and zonal because he was ‘fed up of conceding goals’. Obviously not really solved
Maybe I am being naive but see genuine comparisons with Pep and Klopp in their first seasons. Great attack, need to sort out defense, and this really is a huge pro considering our attack was ‘give it to Hazard’. I guess that’s over-simplistic in many ways but in my opinion he is well on the right track.
Lamps vs Ole
Good job by Ole finishing third… Lampard has done a decent job if I’m not mistaken highest finish in the leauge for a English manager in a long time..Good work but can’t help but feel it will come to an end soon… Both clubs have owners and fans who have ambitions to win major trophies, and as much patience as those Watford owners… i don’t think ole is good enough and watching Lampard shout abuse at the Liverpool coaching staff…Reminded me of Big Sam,Pardew, Harry Rednapp which direction will he go? Can’t help but feel one of them is preparing the way for Potchetino.
I find Vernons email quite laughable. United fans seem to have some kind of underdog mentality and feel like they’re overarchieiving. There are several reasons why Lampard has had a better season. Firstly, it’s his second season in management and only his first in the PL. OGS has had this United team since December 2018. Hes had a lot more time to work with them. Lampard also lost a player Chelsea were very reliant on and one of the best players in the world (Hazard). He was not able to sign any players in his first summer. Kovacic rejoined but had hardly impressed in his loan spell. There are many positions where Chelsea clearly need to spend on: GK, CB, LB, CM. They have addressed their issues on ST and wide players with the arrivals of Ziyech and Werner. Calling Giroud a proven goal scorer is a bit strange when he hasnt hit double figures since 16-17. You also mention hes won a World Cup and hes a proven goalscorer so I’m sure he must have scored several goals in that Worl…oh wait he didnt get any. At the start of last season I didnt rate Chelsea very much. Their strikers were Abraham, Giroud and Batshuayi which isnt very convincing. Their wide players were 20 year old Pulisic who was in and out of Dortmund side, overrated and ageing Willian and Pedro who is far best his best. Mason Mount had never played in PL. Barkley has looked average in last few years, RLC injured, Jorginho hasnt been fully convincing.
OGS was able to spend 80m on Maguire and 50m on AWB. He got Fernandes for 55m half ways through the season and then with the helping hand of Covid managed to have Rashford and Pogba available to play all the remaining games. Even signed Dan James for 15m too. I’m not saying he had a great team but he was set up for a much better season than Lampard. From what I’ve seen Lampard has coached Chelsea quite well and I feel OGS has gotten a lot more luck.
It was very interesting to read the CAS report detailing the reasons for overturning Man City’s Champions league ban and astonishing to see how such a sham is being allowed to be played out so publicly in day and age. In summary:
City were in fact guilty of ADUG directly funding them and falsely claiming that Etisalat had funded them, but they could not be penalized for that as this was done before May 2014, and hence it was time bound as UEFA is supposed to look an violations only for the last five years.
City and UEFA could nominate one CAS panel member each, and the chairman was supposed to be neutral. City not only nominated the panel member, but they also went ahead and nominated the chairman , Even the said panel member had a conflict of interest as he had ties with Etisalat. It is no surprise that the final result was 2-1 in City’s favor. How UEFA agreed to this arrangement and allowed this to happen is beyond me.
Finally, even this panel could not overlook the fact how blatantly City had refused to co-operate in the whole process and refused to provide any evidence to UEFA.
It seems that the whole CAS process was a sham and the way it played out showed the reasons why they were confident they could get away with it yet again. They knew that the violation was done earlier and they had nominated 2 out of the three panel members This just goes to reinforce that City’s dealings have been murky to say the least and in their ambition to make City compete with the best, they have blatantly violated the rules – its just that they did not get caught on time.
We cannot blame the City’s supporters here as they, like all the fans of the other clubs, have no control of how their club is run . But what they (and Pep) cannot do now, is still sit on their high horse, turn a blind eye to this and claim that their club is innocent and has behaved with integrity throughout.
Because they have not. Not getting caught on time does not mean they have not done the crime.
Help me out here
I’m a bit confused. According to what I’ve been reading in the mailbox recently, points comparisons are meaningless because the quality of the league changes. Andy even said this morning that the league was tougher now, so getting 66 points this year could be considered an improvement.
Here’s where you need to help me out, because a few months ago I kept reading that this league was the weakest in Premier League history, and that was why Liverpool were racking up so many points.
So which is it? Was the league weak or strong? Because if 66 points was a good return, this Liverpool side truly must be one of the all time greats to reach 99.
Mike, LFC, London
Dear mufc365.. Sorry, I mean mailbox,
Everyone seems to be railing against F365 for having an agenda against their club, so lets me join in. You hate Aston Villa. Admit it. No letters in the mailbox, a begrudging pat on the head in W&L, Grealish gets onto one of your lists (how is he not top of the list ffs?!?), Dean Smith doesn’t make any list… He basically built a team from scratch and stayed up!!
We should be front and centre of any articles, videos, topics… Basically everything. But no, you pander to the fans of teams with a larger support base. How dare you?
When we achieve mid table next season, I hope you all eat humble pie.
Nik (the above sounds ridiculous right? Thats how all of you lot complaining sound to everyone else. Stop getting pissed off at peoples opinions and enjoy your teams doing well you muppets)