Empty seats is the price Pep pays for playing Fantasy Football…

Date published: Saturday 18th September 2021 9:35 - Editor F365

Pep Guardiola Man City

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Pep’s choices
If Pep Guardiola wanted to be soaking up the atmosphere of a full house every game, he should have chosen his next club more carefully. Having gone from Barcelona to Bayern, he could have taken his pick of any number of historical superclubs across Europe, and he would have got the support he seems to crave.

Instead he opted to play fantasy football in a stadium that’s never going to be full every week, for Manchester City, a club that’s widely disliked for tearing up the financial fair play rules purely to glorify its sinister owners. He followed the money, he joined a winning team, and outside of the 38,000 who turn up to watch them administer another sterile midweek spanking in a meaningless European group game, nobody really cares.

Admittedly, there aren’t many genuinely likeable clubs that could muster the kind of cash needed to build a Pep team, but if he wants recognition and adoration from packed stadiums, perhaps he should go the Maradona route and sign with somebody a bit less obvious.
Martin, BRFC


F365 Says: Pep comments show disconnect as sh*t hits the fans again


Ole out?
All this discussion of Ole’s abilities relative to Pep, Jurgen, Tuchel et al has forced, forced I say, me to return to examining his skills versus various high profile managers currently at work in our league. Or very nearly.

The key when doing so is how you weight achievements v resources v longevity v style. All of these things obviously matter, it just depends to what degree each counts. Also how badly does the club fade after they’re gone? Vis a vis United after Busby and Ferguson. Liverpool after the Boot Room. Forest after Clough.

Pep has been winning for a long time now and as League and domestic cup manager he’s hard to top. Not just winning, but in style and often by huge numbers. Barcelona, Bayern and City have rarely, if ever, displayed such domestic dominance as under him. Two things count against him – the sheer weight of resources given to him by huge, rich clubs ( though that does bring it’s own pressures ) and his inexplicable Champions League brain fades. His desire to overthink/over complicate/unnecessarily show off his tactical versatility have cost City at least one Champions League and Bayern two or three. Can he only win it with Messi? He only has so far. But Pep’s teams are things of absolute beauty in full flow – and they so often are. No manager is more emulated than Pep and all less successfully. But Barcelona only stopped winning when Messi faded. Bayern won everything before and after he left. City have many more leagues left in them.

Jurgen has less resources but also less success. Each triumph is a huge, weighty emotional achievement – seemingly much more effortful than Pep’s serene glides to domestic glory. It’s heavy metal, gegenpressing and extremely exciting to watch. But it’s also very physically and spiritually draining. Dortmund faded badly in time, there may be signs Liverpool could do the same if the squad is not meaningfully renewed. It remains also to be seen if losing his glasses is akin to Samson losing his hair. But I don’t like it.

And speaking of which, the winner of many trophies in many leagues is the aforementioned Jose. Very well resourced but usually without that one massive superstar, his record on paper is phenomenal. The multiple leagues at Chelsea, the treble at Inter, a Champions League at Porto. That’s hard to argue with. But argue you must, because it’s always soul sapping, will draining, belligerent turgid football bereft of joy. Who’s ever enjoyed regularly watching a Jose team? You always get the feeling he’d rather manage a full pitch pile on and make you feel really bad while you did it. Initially came to these shores Special and full of life and mischief. But he left them drained and spent, a bitter doom laden parody of former glories.

It’s too early for Tuchel, wonderful start though he’s made. Brendan was too much the David Brent at Liverpool – it was Suarez who almost won the league, not him. And though it’d be churlish not to recognise this is really a more than decent Leicester side – Claudio did much better. Ancelotti has multiple leagues and Champions Leagues to his credit. But he’s a gentle hand on the tiller, not to make too many waves. He’s never had much evolution in him let alone revolution. There was no magician in him at Everton and few tears as he left. His replacement Rafa, has accomplishments galore and rarely an open cheque book. Style usually gives way to pragmatism though and he’ll clearly start a fight with every owner he’ll ever work for.

All these managers have clearly achieved so much more than Ole and enough would do better in his situation. He has been given more time than he could ever have dreamed of and a more than considerable amount of resources. But he’s won absolutely nothing despite having had plentiful close opportunities. He might yet be able to win a cup with this team but he won’t win a league. And sooner, rather than later the owners will wonder whether they need someone with rather more accomplishments than just a cherubic smile.

Ronaldo will not finish his career in an underachieving team if he has anything to say about it. And he will have something to say about it.
James, Liverpool (obviously)


…So after last year united fans seemed pretty happy on this forum. Second place Europa League final.

Some even compared oles first few years in charge with klopps. Then you went and spent huge sums of money in the summer on players that EVERY united fan was begging for.

United fans were pretty optimistic literally two weeks ago. Sure you got the occasional complaint about needing (yet another) expensive midfielder but generally there was no ole out. And mostly optimistic.

Then a couple of young boys roll in and utterly devastate the confidence of y’all. What the fuck happened? How can you swing from – his record in first few years is comparable to klopp – to – his time is up, he has no plans, no tactics and he should go.

For context when Liverpool were narrowly missing on trophies no Liverpool fans swung from hero to villain. None believed we were going backward. We all believed and knew that even though we weren’t quite there yet we were happy with the progress we had seen.

Like him or not ole has improved united. Second place. Major European final. Club is pretty stable. Team sheet is pretty enviable. Almost every facet is better under ole and I think united fans need to remind themselves how they were before ole arrived because you were a laughable team back then. Now you’re pretty respectable and I was looking forward to seeing ole compete for the league now that the other teams seem to have sorted themselves out.

Honestly appreciate what you have and stop crying about what you haven’t. United is almost a wish fulfillment club in recent years. You sign all the players you’re asking for, you’re super rich, old scrapyard is pretty much always full and a good atmosphere, you have a manager who is also a fan and knows the club inside out and you’ve just brought back that ex girlfriend you never really got over after she’s done letting all your worst enemies take turns with her.

Chin up, honestly when you’re down its rarely as bad as you think and when you’re up it rarely lasts as long as you wish, the trick is enjoying the middle.


…Ole in, Ole out, why does it have to be so black and white?

For those that like a real work analogy, it doesn’t seem fair to sack someone who has been way better than 2 much more experienced and more expensive predecessors.

I’m sure we can all agree Ole has done some great things for the club (OK, not all, just us utd fans). He has instilled some pride to wear the red shirt. He has turned the dire atmosphere under Jose, that previous managers had also had a hand in creating, into a positive vibe. And he has helped turn the club to a place players seem to want to go (the money probably helps).

And we should all agree that he has fallen well short tactically in some big games that mattered and some smaller games that mattered less. Squeaky bum time is not a good time for Ole.

However, expecting someone like Conte to be the solution does assume quite a lot given LVG and Jose spent big at utd and were still two different shades of shit.

One thing I’d like to point out that no-one even talked about even at the time was a big mistake David Moyes made. He came into Fergie’s role and the first thing he did was to get rid of the coaching staff and bring in Phil Neville and the like. That for me, was his biggest mistake by far. Overnight, he turned a Man Utd winning mentality of beating whoever was put in front of them to his Everton defensive mentality that worried about the opposition foremost. Old Trafford had been a fortress for years and that ceased overnight. Had he come into the job and kept all the existing staff and learned from the setup Fergie had then maybe he might have learned something and done a lot better (it couldn’t have been much worse). Glad to see Moyes doing better at West Ham now.

Ole has definitely been good for the club and does not deserve to be replaced – he deserves a chance to see what he can do with what he has assembled. However, the uplift in fortunes from Lampard to Tuchel shows how quickly a top manager can turn around the fortunes of a good squad but there aren’t many managers of that level readily available. Utd have the best squad they’ve had for about 15 years that should be good enough to win trophies but it still has its shortcomings which makes it even tougher to get the best out of them tactically. Let’s not forget that Fergie had a terrible central midfield for many years but still won things. His last title winning side had Cleverley in midfield with an ageing Carrick and even brought back a 55 year old at the time Scholes to put in a shift. Any other manager would have done well to get a European place with that squad.

Utd should get in a top manager AND retain Ole. The manager must be the top level tactician we desperately need, not some up and coming manager who’s done a good job at a mid-table team. Someone who has won things and managed in the champions league and beaten the best. Not an Ego, not Jose, not LVG, this person also needs to understand and buy into the man utd philosophy and history. Jose was wrong for so many reasons and Ole has put that right. The next managerial appointment is crucial and all future appointments must be done whilst keeping a core structure of coaching that is the man utd way. Barcelona have their way, Ajax have their way. Chelsea have a new way now where they hoover up talent and send them on loan – seems to be working pretty well. Utd need a way, start with the Fergie way and adapt it to todays needs. They need to prioritise this and make sure they get a manager who can buy into this, work with it and build on it. You can argue whether Utd have a way or not (they do) but it is very clear under Fergie that they did and since then it’s been all over the place. If you have no direction then you will definitely not reach your destination.

Give Ole the role of instilling the utd way throughout the club while also coaching the 1st team. Maybe Ole would not like to be reduced to what seems like a club mascot type role. It’s probably a much bigger role than his likely next managerial appointment though and he has proven that it is what utd need. I worry that should he depart we could end up with 5 or 6 years of Moyes-LVG-Jose Mk II only to revert back to Carrick or Rooney coming back to bring back the utd way…..

Don’t forget how many managers our friends at Liverpool went through before they got Klopp and a long awaited title. It is not easy.

We don’t need to get rid of Ole. We need to add something more to the base he has provided.
Jon, Cape Town (interested to know fellow utd fans views on this view?)


Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole’s overarching philosophy
Carl Anka asked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a very important question during the press conference 16 September ’21. Carl used his platform to quiz Solskjaer on his thinking behind using a midfield pivot. In general terms, what does Solskjaer expect his midfielders to do?

This is question is important for two reasons.
First of all, Solskjaer’s answer would provide clarity on the reasoning behind his team selection, which for so long has been a source of discontent within the fanbase. Secondly, his answer would give us an idea of how he plans to fix the midfield in the transfer market, or if at all he sees it as a problem.

The assumption in analyzing this matter is that Ole Solskjaer is coaching the best iteration of Manchester United post Sir Alex Ferguson. Of course there were the trophies won under Van Gaal and Mourinho, which can be placed in the same evidence locker as Wigan’s FA cup win during the season they were relegated. Only now, after two seasons of sustained progress, do Manchester United feel like they genuinely have a chance at winning the Premier League.

That being said, there is a sense of foreboding among the Man united fanbase regards the midfield. Especially now after Eduardo Camavinga is box-to-boxing the living daylights out of Real Madrid’s midfield just after two games. There were rumblings that Manchester United failed to secure a midfielder due to Solskjaer being content with his options. Most likely, however, Solskjaer and all involved in the transfer committee have identified targets that were not attainable this window and were willing to wait it out a-la Jadon Sancho.

The first entry in any “strengths” column of a Solskjaer profile would be recruitment. The reason why Manchester United have improved the past three years is that they actually possess a squad that has good and competent players. For all the credit given to tactically adept managers today, there is a lack of acknowledgement for those who are capable of identifying problems and recruiting players who fit the bill.

Solskjaer’s response to Anka reaffirmed his approach, which increasingly mirrors that of Sir Alex as time progresses. What was Fergie’s Overbearing Tactical philosophy? “Attack attack”? We know that Sir Alex favored utility in the middle of the park, especially during his mid-to-late 2000s squads, which featured utilities like Anderson, Fletcher, Hargreaves, Park and the dynamic Scholes, who Solskjaer mentioned. The only player who’s role was clearly defined in that era was Michael Carrick, the exact profile of player this squad lacks.

Now, some will say that Sir Alex’s model would not have worked in the modern era, and was a contributing factor in Man United’s slump after his departure. Partly true. Solskjaer basically told Anka he does not have an overbearing philosophy, and wants his midfielders to be able to adapt to different situations. Mctominay and Fred, the main antagonists in the midfield saga according to most fans, are a damning indictment. They straddle the line between and eight and a six like a Fletcher or an Anderson or a Modric. The problem, of course, being they are nowhere near as accomplished as those mentioned here.

There is yet hope for Scott McTominay, who was thrusted into the limelight by Jose Mourinho during the height of his mind games with Paul Pogba. He could very well have been a target for United had he broken out at a lesser club. He too, however, is yet to consistently show he can be the deep lying ball progressor in the mold of Carrick or the Chelsea version of Matic. Fred has shown that he can be a nuisance to opposition, but isn’t the solution to the problem either.

Solskjaer tactfully answered Carl Anka’s question, but has probably put himself under more scrutiny, even among his most ardent of believers. If football is indeed a simple game as he laid out, and the “intricacies” of the modern game are not as important as they are laid out to be, then he will have to make it work with what he has. To hope that Scott McTominay will grow into the role of playing alongside and making up for the shortcomings of Pogba, whose spot in the starting line up is most certainly cemented in what could be his last season.

I hope our premier league title drought isn’t as long as this train of thought


Good times

Does anyone remember about a decade ago when the mailbox was more than just LFC and MUFC fans acting like eleven year old boys arguing about who got pubes first?

Northern soul NUFC


Getting shirty
What is the deal with West Ham, European football and not having shirt Sponsors…?
Paul (MUFC)Dublin


Degsy’s youth
Was going through cheeky’s PL prediction for the upcoming gameweek, perusing games and sure odds to book this weekend and this line really sent me rolling the floor, “When I was 18 I was getting paid £4 an hour working for John Joyce Bookmakers, getting blind drunk in town between trips to the local STI clinic and winning the treble with Cardiff City four years into a Football Manager save”.

(Inserts laughing and crying emoji) My goodness, bless F365 and it’s writers, they bring joy to my weary soul.
Alaribe G. Festac, Nigeria.

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