Solskjaer is culpable and Sancho won’t sort Man Utd…

Date published: Tuesday 22nd September 2020 9:59

The latest Man Utd post-mortem continues in the Mailbox. Also: alternatives to Kepa; Arteta; and Chelsea...

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

Keep those mails coming to…


United aren’t top dogs anymore
I have been impressed with nearly all of the United mails since ‘that’ display on Saturday night. As we all expect on here, they have been mostly rational and realistic. As the only City fan in a United family, they’ve reflected the kind of reasonable viewpoints I’ve grown up with. Which is timely as I think the penny has finally dropped for some that, not only are United not ‘Top Dog’ anymore, they haven’t been for years.

I don’t say that with a sneer or accompanied with a Simpson’s “Haw haw”. Quite the opposite. The Old Man was of that generation that would go to Old Trafford one weekend and Maine Road the next, even though he was resolutely red (for the younger readers, this was generally commonplace in the 50’s and 60’s when travelling to away games wasn’t a foreign concept, it was science fiction. The working man couldn’t afford it). He just didn’t ‘hate’ City and didn’t understand those that do. It’s also why he never (really) tried to stop me supporting them. Knowing as a dad what I didn’t know as a child, I now know why (sniff).

Yesterday, Garey Vance made some typically excellent points as to why his team put on such a poor showing and I commend him for his defence of his club. With respect to him though, I believe he is a member of the last bastion of Utd fans that think all is still well and the club is still just a couple of signings away from regaining their past status. This simply isn’t going to happen.

Last Thursday or Friday Andy Goldstein (Utd fan for those not acquainted with either the radio channel or the man) was on ShoutSport drivetime. And, on this primetime slot, told an incredulous Darren Bent that, if United signed Sancho (just him btw, nobody else) they would be genuine PL title contenders this season. No, he really did.

I don’t know if Andy G has revised his opinion after watching all the games we’ve seen including Wolves v City (thought Shirley Bassey was about to start after Jimenez scored) and if he has then I apologise unreservedly.

Yes, I know this is the first weekend of the new season (Garey’s points apply). Yes, I know the transfer window hasn’t closed yet and, therefore, everything may change. My contention is that neither of these points are relevant.

United aren’t in a mess because they haven’t signed anybody else of the clear quality of VDB in this window (so far). And it’s not just that Woodward is a football f*ckwit (although most of it lies at his door). Nor because OGS is inept. He’s a nice guy but, as a fellow mailer pointed out, you have to dig REALLY deep to find a single player he has improved. Bluntly, he isn’t a PL title winning manager.

United are in a mess because of a seven year ‘perfect storm’ of toxicity including poor managerial appointments, a patently non-existent transfer/club ‘strategy’ other than ‘buy big & shiny’ to assure investors that Utd are still relevant, and the fact that other clubs, in their stead, have done and planned the opposite.

Believing, as Mr Goldstein patently does, that the signing of one single 20-year old player, and for £110 Million, will have United competing equally as title contenders is ludicrous.

United last season, not this one, were still a top six team. Respectfully, and as it stands on the 22nd September, I would suggest they are a top 8 team.

And possibly not even that.

By all means put me right if you can get past the “If we just buy/if we just sign” narrative.
Mark (Please don’t put all the expectations of Manchester United’s history on a 20-yr old kid) MCFC.


Ole’s tactics aren’t helping
Seen a lot of sh*t about Dan James this weekend but F365 having his adorable little face on the link for the “losers” section has pushed me too far.

You might be aware that James is very, very fast. Early last year, before Solskjaer was wedded/welded to 4-3-3, Dan James was our best player when deployed on the touchline.

He knocked, he ran, he crossed, he scored.

Then Bruno happened and, no matter what, even when making 3 substitutes in the last minute of a European semi-final, Ole is sticking with his 4-3-***ing-3. This brings me onto what Dan James is not… which is an inside forward in a front-three.

There is no space to knock & run. His defensive workrate – which negated opposition fullbacks – is lost. He’s ***ing useless there, really.

Look at the avg. position of Fosu-Mensah on Saturday, much like AWB he takes the right flank only to spunk possession or pass back to (a woeful) Pogba; pushing Dan inside to use his famous… erm… strength, silky skills and world-class finishing?

Why not play him wing-back?

Why not go two up front so Martial isn’t isolated and Rashford can’t go hiding in midfield?

Why not do something other than the exact same ***ing thing every single game?

It’s bollocks.
Simon (still, **** the Glazers) MUFC


…There were a few good points touched upon in relation to Utd’s recent woes, in yesterday afternoon’s mailbox, particularly around the stagnation of players who arrive at the club, and don’t seem to get any better. In my view, there is one reason for this – coaching staff.

Take a look at United’s coaching team – Ole, Michael Carrick, Kieran McKenna. Ole retired in 2007, and let’s be generous and say the entire last 13 years he has spent as a ‘coach’. That’s still relatively inexperienced for a manager of United. Carrick retired in 2018 – 2 years of coaching. Then you have Kieran McKenna. Retired in 2009 due to injury, but first coaching job in 2015 – 5 years. That’s 3 backroom staff with a combined coaching experience at the top end of 20 years.

I don’t want to get into comparisons, but it’s plain to see that the three between them are collectively, very inexperienced. Disregard playing careers – it means nothing for management, for very Zidane there is a Zola. For every Bielsa, a de Boer.

Which begs the question – what do they do in training? What drills are they doing to improve players? Are they bringing cutting edge insights tactically for Ole to feed on? Is Ole himself tactically astute?

United could go out and sign Sancho, Upamecano and Haaland tomorrow and it wouldn’t matter much because they probably wouldn’t improve under the current regime. That experience will probably come with time, but can United wait that long?

And just because i’m a Liverpool fan, don’t take this as a dig, United fans. Just an objective observation from an outsider. Come at me if you want, that’s what the mailbox is all about. Discussion, debate and opinion.
Lee (assuming the ‘brace’ position), LFC


Starting slow
Man United apparently need 4 to 5 games to catch up. I’m sure Pep said the same thing to his team before they played Wolves.
Niall, Denver


Arteta acing it
I remember over the summer lots of bickering about who’s the better young manager between Arteta/OGS/Lamps.

I vaguely remember seemingly many MU/Chelsea apologists claiming that their sides were progressing even if the table didn’t necessarily seem to reflect it…funnily enough, has anyone noticed that of the three clubs in question the only fans not complaining about their manager now are those of Arsenal?

JohnnyWicky (sp?), can we get a verbose update on the young Prem managerial rankings?
MAW, LA Gooner


Kepa the worst ever?
It was suggested Kepa could be Chelsea’s worst ever signing, I’d say in terms of value and input on the team he certainly is, apart from his heroics in the Europa League Semi Final against Frankfurt in the shootout he hasn’t added or had a major positive impact on the club, you could even argue he cost us a League Cup with his antics in that exact same season, that along with his huge fee which even though wasn’t his fault it was a huge fee and his weekly wages overall a bad value signing.

Danny Drinkwater and Winston Bogarde also are in my top 3 of bad signings based purely on value for money they were, Alvaro Morata and Bakayoko escape because we have made our money back on those two and Morata at least did score some goals for us.

So I put this question to the mailbox, who would you consider your clubs worst ever signing based on the value for money they turned out to be?
Mikey, CFC


…Interesting shout on Kepa being the worst signing in history, but I’d say there’s a couple you’ve overlooked (both Chelsea too weirdly) – Torres for £50m looked great at the time, but he was clearly a busted flush when he arrived. The other example being a little further back, but Winston Bogarde was a pretty awful signing all round too.

Kepa is definitely the modern archetype of an overpriced, ill conceived, knee-jerk transfer though…
Dicky, AFC (had to change nickname, thanks Rich, AFC!)


…In response to Mike LFC, London’s email about the worst signing ever got me thinking. Not sure about the worst signing in the world but the premier league have had their fair share of cluster f**ks. Then thinking of Chelsea only and I thought of the following. Not sure if they’re worse than Kepa but at least definitely on par:

Winston Bogarde – considering he played for Ajax, AC Milan and Barcelona prior to his arrival all the signs were good, but we was absolute dog sh#t. Turns out it cost 15 grand for every minute he played.

Adrian Mutu – wasn’t too bad a player but his extra curricular activities got him a drugs ban and Chelsea terminated his contract. Subsequently got sued.

Fernando Torres – wasn’t the worst on the list but considering the fee they paid he was a disaster. I will always remember him for when he went past De Gea, presented with an open goal and somehow put it wide. At least Chelsea fans will always have the Gary Neville goalgasm.

Everyone knows the worst premier league signing was Ali Dia. How he mugged Southampton for believing he was George Weah’s cousin I don’t know. Then again we all know Souness is an idiot.

Let’s not do a Man Utd list eh.
Imran, Manchester (The Red Half)


Crime and punishment?
Rob (Leicester) makes a great point about penalties. The punishment is often disproportionately larger than the crime.

Does every infringement in the box have to result in a penalty kick? I don’t think so. Take the De Bruyne penalty incident vs Wolves tonight. What would De Bruyne have done with the ball if Sais hadn’t gone to ground? What was the best case outcome for him? Possibly a corner even though a goal kick was actually the most likely outcome. So why should it result in a penalty when there wasn’t any direct danger to the Wolves’ goal to start with? Why not give an indirect free kick?

A penalty kick should be reserved for infringements from open play that deny direct goal scoring opportunities – like handballs on the line, or hand balls from a shot heading towards goal, or fouls in the box where the next action would have been shot at goal. For set pieces where the starting position places the players in the box, you could retain the same parameters as now.

Talking of indirect free kicks, when did we last see one given inside the box? Anyway, that’s food for thought.
Drew (Dublin)


F*ck VAR
I think a few mailboxers have incorrectly interpreted the annoyance of the penalty decision(s) on Saturday.

As noted, you can complain about the rule that De Gea broke, but not the VAR way it came out. I agree. Note: his boots were not beyond the line, he was not encroaching. But you have to have one foot grounded now. Which is insane and ignores how goalkeepers move, but there you go. That rule will be changed by next season.

The anger I have at VAR is how it’s been applied in this one match, but this officiating crew. You have two penalty incidents reviewed. On one, the referee does not go and look at the on pitch monitor, but trusts his team. The other, he chooses to go look. On both, defenders accidentally commit an act – in one case stamping hard enough on a foot as to remove a boot and trip a player, on the other having their hand brushed – and only in one case is it deemed an egregious enough incident to overrule the on pitch decision. For the record I don’t believe either should be a pen, and certainly that neither warrants overruling the onfield referee.

The logic of the application of these two rules appears to be: Lindelof could have forcibly removed Ayew’s boot and been okay, but having the ball flicked against his hand from 2 feet should effectively be a match-ending offense.

When we were sold VAR, we were told it would only overrule clear mistakes. That must have changed somewhere along the line, and on Saturday that appears to have been during Atkinson’s halftime refreshments.
Ryan, Bermuda


Chelsea and change
You have to love Chelsea. As a QPR fan, I don’t really love them (or any football, nowadays) very deeply. But you’ve gotta love Chelsea.

Outstanding young right back Lamptey (I know it’s early days) is ripping it up. They couldn’t find a place for him. We move on. Nathan Ake is clearly a very good and potentially excellent player whom they sold and had a decent buy back clause, but for whatever reason, refused to exercise it in the pursuit of… maybe Declan Rice? They let him go very easily.

If I was Declan, I’d steer well clear.

Hudson Odoi should have been allowed to leave. And for Bayern? Imagine a great club putting faith in you? Tomori has been used as a last option. Abraham is sidelined and even Mount might have to weigh up his options soon.

You have to love Chelsea if you don’t care about young academy players being given a chance. It seems all the good things Lampard did last season were borne of necessity. Now it seems the only necessary thing is to replace all hope of an identifiable Chelsea, with a fresh emerging academy driven team, with an expensive (possibly slightly better?) one, driven by the international market.

I am no Brexiteer. I would even go as far as to say I’m not proud of my country for its hideous sins of the past (controversial). But, being a QPR fan perhaps, I put a lot of faith in the England football team. And seeing young players getting marginalised has been a big bear of mine for countless years (about 43).

You have to love Chelsea and their pursuit of silverware. Yet again I won’t be supporting them.
Joey (Go on Eze!)


Loopy City
Just quickly popping in here to point out that City’s away kit looks like some bratty kid left a bowl of milk and fruit loops out for too long.



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