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I’m almost certain Daniel James won a competition to play for Man Utd.
Perhaps he collected all the shineys or something.
Mark Danger Endicott, MUFC
In great Nic
One of the best articles I have ever read on F365 – bravo John Nicholson.
I could certainly see this happening in years ahead; I get fed up of constant talk of top 6 clubs more than anything else as it is (I am afraid your great site is as guilty as ever of this), and I would welcome a breakaway league where other clubs, at long last, have a realistic chance of winning the league/a cup.
It doesn’t matter the so called best players would leave, football is more than that, so much more. We can but dream.
Simon C, SFC
Johnny’s article on the prospect of a league without the ‘Big Six’ is a drum I’ve been banging for years now. I want them gone. I should note here that I am a Spurs fan and I have no great desire to see us get lumped 7-2 by Bayern twice every season, but nor am I particularly enamoured of watching Manchesters City and United or some other billionaire-of-the-month spend an unpalatable amount of money just to stop anyone else enjoying themselves. If losing Spurs is the cost of making football competitive again, so be it.
I say let the European Super League happen, let all these money-grubbers go play with each other in China or Qatar or whichever the latest fashionable oligarchy is, but with one addition to John’s idea.
If (when) the whole thing falls apart and nobody wants to watch it any more, any club that left has to start from the bottom of the footballing pyramid if they try to come back. Don’t just let them back into the First Division, as it will be renamed in our new footballing utopia. Stick Man Utd into the 11th-tier Manchester League Premier Division and let them fight their way back up. In the meantime we can all enjoy ourselves watching Wycombe Wanderers sh*thouse their way to the First Division title at the expense of Leeds and their pretty passing Bielsa-ball.
Now that’s what football is really about.
Interesting piece from John Nicholson regarding the state of the English leagues and cups if a potential European Superleague were to go ahead.
I’m happy to suspend my disbelief in order to become fully immersed in this lofty tale, but even I can’t get behind Peter Brackley being back on ITV, seeing as the legendary commentator died back in 2018.
Definitely support the reintroduction of Barry Davies to the airwaves though, and I’m not even over 55.
Come on now, that JN article cannot be serious, Sheffield Unt only do binary scores.
John painted an idyllic little picture of British football born out of the creation of a European Super League. While it sounded nice, John seemed to ignore all of the negative connotations, or at least did not consider any of the possible questions someone who read the piece might have. So, with that in mind, allow me to paint a more realistic outcome of such a dream;
To start, viewing figures. John states that the figures average around seven-eight million, with anywhere between 10-25 million tuning in for the bigger, higher-staked games. Where are these numbers coming from? Just the UK. If so, then what has happened to international viewers? If not, then who broadcasts those games, still the BBC/ITV? In Ireland, we used to get those channels for free, but now to get them households have to sign up to a TV company. And if we wanted to watch them on BBC iPlayer, that is not available overseas here (but our actors are British??), so I can only imagine countries further afield would have similar access issues. So, there is money to be spent there, thus creating a TV revenue market, which would lead to money being given to the clubs, thus meaning the now-not-Premier League would be given more money than the Championship, thus creating a pull and divide, financial inequality, and an ability to buy the best players and coaches available within the UK.
On a similar note, what of prize money? Does it still exist? Because if so, then surely the winners and teams that finish higher (read: in Europe) would make more, thus creating a divide in a financially drained market, giving them an edge, and an ability to buy the best players/coaches from the UK. All of this, mind, is ignoring the international football market. Are those leagues as exciting, drawing fans from all over their respective countries? This would create a similar problem of financial gaps opening up over the world with the middle teams becoming too rich for their own leagues, but far too poor to compete with the elite.
While you say the ESL viewership would fall, what is your basis for this? Because people have to pay? But outside of the UK, people would have to pay anyway, so therefore why wouldn’t they pay for a better product? If their respective leagues were on TV for free, this would mean that governments would have had to buy the rights too.
While I still think there would be outrage if the UK government spent £1 billion during a post Brexit recession and a global pandemic while unemployment is quite high and a footballer had to literally beg them to feed children in need of food, this would not be possible all over the world, thus creating markets available for the rights. Thus, places like Spain, Germany, France, & Italy would be able to sell their leagues for money – especially if they’re as unpredictably exciting, thus meaning they could snap up the rest of the best talent, as they could offer higher wages. They would then make the most money from sales of these players to the ESL clubs, and subsequently hoover up the rest of the talent again as well as the ESL rejects, creating a mini little transfer market ensuring talent does not go elsewhere.
If it created an inflated market for middle tear clubs, then we would have smaller clubs in lower leagues get massive pay days, meaning that they could buy their way to the top of their league, and then remain there, creating a tier of one team winners, much like we have now, but across the rest of the leagues around the world. Except, of course, for the middle leagues that have marketing deals, where all the best players who are not good enough for the ESL go to play and get paid better than in other leagues.
Additionally, what could also happen is that clubs and leagues would fall across the world, with viewership falling, money within the wider game falling, and an inability to pay for facilities, players, transport, numerous staff etc., and we could see a rake of clubs and leagues fall to semi-professional status. While there is a romanticism in this for sure, standards would drop, which would affect audience interest, player development, and international sides. Essentially, the ESL would reign supreme with the most money, best players, best youth players, coaches, etc. etc. (but would probably go stale without relegation/promotion) whereas football around the globe would either collapse as a professional game, or new Premier League Lites would pop up around the bigger leagues in Europe – apart from the UK due to a state TV deal – thus creating the terrible imbalance we have now but on two different levels.
While I wrote this as a bit of tongue-in-cheek about a similarly fantastical article I enjoyed, the more I wrote, the more I thought that the creation of a European Super League would actually be the kiss of death for football in the way that it is now – which was essentially Johns point – however, it seems like it would create a nightmare more than a pleasant dream!
(P.S. And just an aside, if 25 million people were tuning it, there is no way in hell that would go unnoticed, with broadcasting and advertising sharks sniffing around, the Government, FA, not-quite Premier League et al salivating at the chance to make some money, thus just repeating the cycle.)
Simply put, I don’t care what you or any other fan thinks of Ole or my club, you all know where to stick your opinions. So what if he spent a lot of money????? Do Man City and Guardiola not spend money????? Also, I cannot believe that fans of clubs like Sheffield United would have the temerity to dare speak about an institution like Man Utd when they just popped up back in the Premier League last season.
Ole will win the Europa League, and all of you will be forced to eat humble pie or more like have it thrusted down your throats. Which of your managers have scored a Champions League final goal? Ole won us the Champions League as a player and will lead us to glory as a manager as well.
I see the Man Utd and Ole kicking is still in full swing on this site, plucky underdogs Man Utd FFS absolute lazy journalism, as you are aware Man Utd have had their pants pulled down time and again when it comes to paying over the odds for players now when they finally say enough is enough you decide to deride them with cheap shots damned if you do etc.
(MC – it was a facetious Mediawatch headline about Man Utd refusing to be ‘bullied’ by Aston bloody Villa.)
The Ole would have been fired at Chelsea line, quite possibly but he’s not at Chelsea is he? Man Utd fans no matter how you try and paint otherwise are happy with Ole and how we are moving forward, the tired trope of how much he has spent again doesn’t really matter as he inherited a team full of dead wood and massive holes so yeah he’s spent but he has also got rid of some of the players holding us back. This is a massive window for Ole and Man Utd and if we get it right then Liverpool and City will be looking over their shoulders.
Paul Murphy, Manchester
Perhaps its because most fans only closely follow their own team but an awful lot of good things have been achieved at Man Utd this past year.
It’s true that 3rd place in the PL is not considered a success at Man Utd. However, it is 3 places higher than the previous position of 6th. We can play the game every season of saying if team X hadn’t done xyz then our team would have finished top 4. The fact is Utd chased down a 13pt deficit to Leicester and 7-8pts to Chelsea to overhaul both teams to finish 4th. They did this by going the last 14 games unbeaten and having the best league form of any team since that Burnley defeat in January. That’s over a third of a season and bodes well for next season.
Dean, SUFC points to Bruno as the catalyst for this form. It’s true that when Bruno came in our results picked up massively. However, we also got Martial fit. We got Pogba and Rashford back after the COVID break. Greenwood emerged in the 2nd half of the season as a 1st team player. On top of Bruno’s contributions, we also kept a number of clean sheets in that unbeaten run suggesting our team defensive work had improved. Arguing that we shouldn’t be so reliant on Bruno is like saying Liverpool rely on Salah or Tottenham on Kane or City on De Bruyne too much. Shock! Your best players are important.
Wezzley, from under the bridge, argues that Ole would have been fired by Chelsea had he spent that much and failed to challenge. Well, I disagree. Ole may have been fired by Chelsea and Lampard would probably have been fired by Utd had he been our manager with his teams autumn/winter form. The fact is being a club legend affords you more time. It’s also worth remembering what our ambitions were for this season. We weren’t spending money expecting an instant title challenge. We finished 6th the previous season. Obviously, we need to outspend Liverpool and City in an attempt to catch up but it can’t be done in one summer. We have undertaken the first proper long term rebuild of our squad under Ole. He has moved in limited players like Fellaini and Smalling in favour of more technically gifted players in Maguire and Bruno. He has shipped out players who didn’t fit in Lukaku and Sanchez. Most Utd fans can see the progress.
Charlie, Pedelston, Sydney says Ole hasn’t improved any players. He must have missed Rashford and Martial hitting career highs in goals then? Or Luke Shaw looking like a solid LB this season? Or Fred actually looking a valuable squad player now. Martial’s hold up play has improved hugely especially since Ighalo came in. You wonder if half the reason we extended Ighalo’s loan was to help Martial learn the physical side of playing up front.
The fact is this season got off to a terrible start with Pogba and Martial missing through the autumn leaving us really short after Lukaku was sold. We looked awful. Ole could have been sacked at that time. However, our coaching team and board actually stuck a plan and made the right addition in January to fix our creativity problem.
We have finished 3rd behind two amazing teams. We will have to spend big again to try and close the gap especially as City are going to invest heavily. However, playing CL football is a far kinder schedule than Europa league and that alone should help us. If we can add Sancho and another couple of depth options I think we’ll get closer next season.
Having followed the Mailbox debate on OGS lurching from saviour to failure with intrigue the last few days, while there are many aspects to support either side of the argument (though objectively, by any Man Utd fan stance, Ole’s season for Man Utd has indeed been a success), I’m sick to the back teeth of being told the it was only due to a Leicester collapse that we are able to have this debate, with a Top 4 finish saving OGS being branded a confirmed failure.
FFS ABU’s (and any one who uses any form of Man U/yoo), Man Utd finished 3rd, that’s behind LFC and City granted, but AHEAD OF BOTH Leicester and Chelsea. I know some are hard at reading between the lines, so broke down very simply, even without a Leicester implosion, we still finish ahead of Chelsea and in top 4, and hence having a successful season.
So debate the relative merits of the debate all you want, but keep Brenda’s bottlers out of it.
However, first time in 7 years any Man Utd fan has had reason to be optimistic, one of the finest attacking sides in the league, best teenage prospect in English, nigh, world football, a role model to be proud of and one of our own in Rashford, and a midfield with less unfamiliarity and nervousness than a room full of divorced speed daters than we’ve grown accustomed to.
A few more additions to strengthen the defence and squad, god willing, a decent, long awaited director of football and a reversion back to type for Man Utd! Here we go as we get ready for an assault on our perch. Cheers for keeping it warm for us, and hope the rest of you EPL-champ-Jonny-come-lately’s, Berties, relegation botherers and ABUs enjoyed your moment in the sunshine.
As you were.
Duncan (Utd fan) Manchester,
Woah, woah, woah, I don’t think Ole should be managing a club as big as Man U but some of the accusations in the previous mailbox are plainly ridiculous.
He should get fired for coming in third, behind 2 of the best managers and teams? If they are the best 2, then the only position available is 3rd. Can anyone remind me what he got?
Second argument revolves around money, I consider Man U to revolve around but slightly below Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus types. If a player is attached to any of this spheres, they cost a lot of money. So going to Man U will generally cost a lot.
So why crucify Ole, let the man build, he’s got atleast 2 years left. Now do I think he wins? No. Does he have a chance to win? Maybe. Bottom line Man U will not win anything soon and the guy is getting the best of the rest.what more can you ask for?
Dave(If everybody just settled, America wouldn’t have made it to the moon), Somewhere
Slightly unsung heroes
I was reading the article about longest serving players and it got me to thinking about which players have proven to just be excellent value for money, service and really bought into the club.
For my team (Chelsea) they also happened to be cheap as well which is unusual. If I had to pick 3 I’d go for:
Azpilicueta, Cost £6m, has played 271 games, scored 8 goals, set up loads and very very rarely has a bad game. Before the whippersnappers came into the league and changed what a fullback is, was probably the best FB in the league. Seems like a top guy as well
Ivanovic. Cost £9.7m, played 261 games, was imperious for a few years before the strain of lugging that massive arse around took some of his speed away and scored 22 goals. Lots of them priceless as well. One of my favourite ever players. Looked like he was made out of granite.
Cahill. Cost £7m, played 191 games and surprisingly only got 13 goals (I thought he scored more). Not as beloved as the other two but always put a shift in, very rarely let us down and also seems a very decent guy as well.
Between the three of them, you have 723 games and counting, 43 goals, multiple leagues, european trophies, domestic cups and not many goals gone past them, all for £22.7m
Who else can beat that?
My manager’s bigger than your manager
Start with a caveat I am hungover so this will be cranky:
The debate over the last few days of Lampard vs OGS vs Arteta ; it is so totally irrelevant. Each fan base thinks that their manager is doing well – that is fine. Lampard got CL a budget and was unlucky in the cup, OGS has found the right man to get the team to click and they did well in the second half of the season, Arteta has won the first trophy he has had chance to.
You know you are allowed to be happy at the same time as someone else right? It isn’t a one in one out system.
The latest contributions are just such a tiresome approach football (and life) – enjoy the journey especially when you are at a good point in it.
Can’t we just end this debate by saying that most of the respective fans agree that they’ve got the right manager for their team????I don’t think that has happened since the halcyon days of Wenger, Sir Alex and Mourinho’s first reign at Chelsea…Weird times indeed
Aarez (Gooner in Pakistan)
I think you’re completely wrong about Jesus not being good enough. I feel like you’re forgetting how young this man is. He is only 23 and he has got 20+ goals for the second season running and hes not even their first choice. They have developed him for this long and now that Aguero only has one year left, imagine they sell Jesus too. Hes going to be coming into his peak very soon. He has everything. Good in the air, quick, runs all day, strong and scores goals. 67 goals in 151 games for a young player is very good and you would assume that he is only going to get better. Teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juve will definitely be in for him if he is going to be sold.
Sancho v Torres
Ok, against my better judgement I will bite at a comment from below the mailbox, which was “If Torres is worth £20M, how much is Sancho worth?”, basically suggesting that City had snapped up an absolute bargain and Man Utd were about to get their pants pulled down (both could still be true).
Let’s start with stats:
Both are aged 20, with about 3 weeks between them. No significant effect on the difference in value.
Ferran Torres’ League whoscored rating 6.72, Jadon Sancho’s is 7.64. That’s an extra 14% performance. If we say that value increases in proportion to that then Sancho is now worth £23M. Of course it doesn’t quite work that way. Sancho is in the top 10 players in the world on that metric, Torres is not in the top 200 (I don’t actually know where he ends up, I couldn’t be bothered scrolling any further). But that as that rating is a bit nerdy and pseudo-scientific, let’s just say he’s worth an extra 14% on performance, so £22.8M
Let’s look at something more tangible to the team. They’ve played similar minutes, with Sancho having played an extra 32 minutes over the season. Torres has contributed 4 goals and 5 assists, not terrible but only one assist more than 90s fullback, AWB. Sancho, has managed Bruno Fernandes levels of contribution with 17 goals and 16 assists. So 9 goals contribute by Torres and 33 by Sancho. So let’s multiply our value by another 3.7. And we’re now up to £84.4M for Sancho.
Now lets look at contracts and value to the selling club. Torres had one year left and by his own admission was being actively touted to clubs around Spain and was considered the “fifth winger in the squad”. Not too important and about to be sold anyway or leave on a free the year later. Sancho has two years left on his contract. Dortmund don’t seem to want to sell but they don’t seem too bothered that he could go. Could take a fair amount of money to replace. I’ll be kind to Torres and say this makes Sancho worth an extra £20M so we’re up above £100M.
Sanchos also English so gets the “English Premium” lumped on your all English players. Again I’ll be conservative and say £10M. So we’re just shy of £115M.
Also, that Torres fee was the initial fee, with undisclosed bonuses on top. For all we know that could rise to £30-40M. Then how much is Sancho worth?
All of the above is completely arbitrary but that’s entirely the point that everyone misses when they talk about relative values of footballers. They all mean something different to the buying and selling clubs. Man Utd need Sancho to fill a gap, Dortmund would prefer to keep a very good player. Valencia wanted to get rid (apparently) of a decent young player with less than a year on his contract. City need some reinforcements for their attackers and a potential replacement for someone who contributed nothing last season (Sane, good player though). Sancho could be bought for £110M and Man Utd, City, Dortmund and Valencia could still all be happy with their lot. The only people that will worry about it are football fans who seem to care more about how their rivals spend their own money than how their own club obstructs investigations into whether or not they spend their time getting around the governing body’s regulations.
But as much as I’m excited by the prospect of seeing such a quality player wearing the number seven at Old Trafford, it would be infinitely more palatable if they donated the money to people in the local community who are at risk of unemployment and a very bleak winter this year.
Besides the points
87 points won Man Utd the title in 2008, Arsenal in 2002, Chelsea in 2015. Man Utd have even won 2 titles on 80 points!
Historically, 87 points in a season is nothing to scoff at. Its true in the last few years Pep’s and now Klopp’s dominance is unprecedented, but how many other teams have reached that number?
N.V.M. (Here come the “buts”)