Solskjaer is the ‘wallflower’ amid Man Utd’s transfer incompetence

Date published: Friday 18th September 2020 2:58

Keep your mails coming to


Spurs have signed more than a player
A common theme in the mailbox is that Bale is an injury prone, past his prime has been and Thiago will be the best signing since sliced bread.

A few of points to pick up on:

  • There is less than 2 years between both of them (634 days to be precise)
  • Both have played for the past 7 seasons for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.  Bale has averaged 36 games per season and Thiago 34 over that period
  • In the league last season Bale played 16 times compared to Thiago’s 24.  Take into account that many of the games Bale missed was due to not being picked rather than injury.

I’m a Spurs fan so I come into this debate with a slight bias.  For me, the Bale signing will be about more than just the player.  It’s about making a statement, getting a proven winner into the dressing room to bring the others up to that level, to show that Spurs mean business.

Personally, I think they will be great signings for both clubs and in all honesty, I just want to see the best talent in the Premier League which is why I was disappointed that Messi didn’t make the move to Man City.
Ross (watch Bale snap his ACL in his first game) NorwichSpurs


Bale balls-up
Looking at a British managerial trio, Roy Keane played under Nigel Clough, SAF and Jack Charlton.  Not bad.

As for Bale, am I the only United fan who is a bit sad to have missed out.  We have in the past taken on older players on short contracts when they can add value without breaking the clubs wage structure:  Henrik Larrson, Michael Owen, Zlatan, Laurent Blanc (maybe gloss over that one!).  A rolling one year contract with a wage-share arrangement (thrown in J-Lingz for free!) would have suited all parties.
Samwise, MUFC


No Liverpool without Salah AND Mane
F365’s interesting piece on Salah inadvertently revealed something deeper about Liverpool’s star forwards. In a similar way as it is impossible to discuss Messi without mentioning Ronaldo, you cannot talk about Mo Salah without bringing Sadio Mane into the conversation. As a way of example, the aforementioned article mentioned Sadio Mane 5 times. No other Liverpool player was mentioned more than once. In fact, the only other person who got more than one shout out was Gary Neville, which makes sense because we are talking about Liverpool!

While there is a certain element of rivalry between all players on top teams, the competition between these two players is so obvious. That’s not to say I believe they loathe each other, but they both clearly desire to be the team’s top scorer, to receive the most praise, and to deliver the most “clutch” moments for the club in the highest pressure games. Frankly, it is an amazing thing to watch. This tension drives them both to be better, to score more goals, to create more assists, and to deliver more for their team. In fact, it is hard to imagine that Liverpool would have been as successful as they have without either of them.

The attacks of the greatest teams of the last 20 years have tended to be built around one great player. Barcelona have Messi, Real Madrid had Ronaldo, Bayern have Lewandowski, Man City have De Bruyne, AC Milan had Kaka, and West Ham have Mark Noble. Liverpool are the exception to this rule, and so far it has worked beautifully.
Oliver, London


Interesting article on Salah and one that it’s difficult to disagree with. I remember when Chelsea signed him and I was working with a Lebanese guy on a football project – and he said then that Salah would become the best player in the world. Yes, he was a Chelsea supporter, but he knew his stuff and he was gutted when he left. I think that’s part of it for me – I just can’t see him leaving. He probably will, but I’ve never felt that he was on the cusp of walking away, that Barca or Madrid didn’t appeal to him.

As a Liverpool supporter, I love Salah. It’s a different kind of love to Mane and Firmino. Just as the love for Bobby is different to that of Mane. And Virgil. And Henderson. And Gini.

But Salah, in my world anyway, is the guy you’d want your daughter to marry. He’s doesn’t appear to be the showman, he’s not (at first sight anyway) the powerhouse. He’s the guy who’ll probably break your heart the most because he’s never anything but lovely and because his normal is everybody else’s exceptional. Like that end of season celebration after we’d not won the title in 18/19 – and his daughter was on the pitch, and you could see the happiest and proudest man on the planet. No, that’s not necessarily unique, but there’s just something about that moment that I can’t help but adore, there was so much humility, and playfulness and it just seemed like the most genuine emotions that he was displaying.

Does he bring that blood lust passion that Suarez did? No. But equally, when he’s breaking the net you can see it’s in there – the guy is ruthless and supremely talented. But his heart is also huge and he’s giving us his absolute best years.

Then there has been one glorious moment that he and Alisson created last season which, in all my 34+ years of supporting the club got (and still gets) the positive emotions going. The moment he also lost it. The moment Alisson ran the length of the pitch to celebrate with him. The moment that the fans went from hope to belief: that last minute goal in a 2-0 win against United in January. Forget Istanbul or Madrid. Forget the double in 86. Forget Owen v Arsenal in 01. Forget Lovren v Dortmund. Forget Stevie G’s top ten moments. This was a spine tingling, emotional thunderf*ck of a moment that nobody else has delivered in my adult football life.

If and when he leaves it will be a sad day, but he will always be adored and welcomed back with rapturous applause. He’s a special special man, and I’d love to have a coffee and cake with him.
Rob, Brighton


A small subset of children
Just to clarify Waleed, on behalf of the vast majority of United fans. I don’t hate Liverpool, the football club or the city (which I happen to call home – its a lovely place).

There’s a rivalry between the two clubs which I happen to enjoy. I do take pleasure in it when they lose, but their winning the league didn’t blind me with rage (the through the night car honking and fireworks that lasted several days did, but in that “some of us have to work tomorrow and you’ve woken my baby”, kind of way). I met it with a shrug to be honest…

Hate’s a strong emotion, and not something that healthy human beings are capable of generating over a rival sports team.

So Waleed, the problem isn’t “United fans”, its a small subset of man children that every club has.

Liverpool have them too, like the ones who write unsolicited fishing emails to sports websites accusing an entire fan based estimated (optimistically) to consist of 659m people of having an unhealthy obsession with your club… its the other way around Waleed…

While most Liverpool fans were off celebrating their title win, not giving a toss about what United fans may think you’ve wasted your energy getting in a lather over United…sad to see. I hope it you can make your peace with it and hope it doesn’t take another 30 years fro. Premier league win no.2 so you can actually enjoy it…scratch that, going too far, I definitely don’t want Liverpool to win it again, but if they do…whatever
Andy (MUFC)


Contempt and disdain for Liverpool
Waleed in the Mailbox asks United fans to “be objective” and not “blinded by rage” in their dislike of Liverpool the football club, and more widely, the city of Liverpool.  If I may, I’d like to put forward an argument of why my complete contempt and disdain for both club and city is rational and objective.

Let me take you back to the 1950’s; western societies, on the back of the Victorian age and the World Wars, were repressed on an individual level.  Emotionally, sexually, spiritually.  Then the 1960s happened, and the counter-cultural revolution brought forth a personal revolution within people.  These repressions were slowly cast aside in a tide of free-love, spiritual exploration and emotional blossoming.  However, as is usually the case with social movements, history acts as a pendulum; something needs to swing in one direction, but then it swings too far, has to be corrected, and swings back.  This happens repeatedly until it settles in the sweet spot.

That brings us to today, where we are at a point where the pendulum has swung too far.  The individuals within society have become too in thrall to their emotions, with rational thought cast aside in favour of gut instincts and feelings.  It’s a good part of why populism is currently so effective.  “Follow your heart” is an oft repeated refrain.  That’s terrible advice; follow your head, it’s generally got a far better handle on things and makes better decisions.

So how does this apply to football?  Well, can you name me a more emotional club than Liverpool?  Can you name me a UK city that runs on emotion more the Liverpool?  Didn’t think so.  As such, you’re the footballing embodiment of this societal failing, thus my dislike is reasoned and considered.

I’d also put forward the idea that narcissism is the greatest undiagnosed mental health condition in the western world and is having a similarly negative impact on the world…  What’s your motto again?  “This means more”…  Oh.
Lewis, Busby way


Man Utd getting one thing right
There’s (understandably) a lot of doom and gloom surrounding Man United at the moment – the board has well and truly sucked the joy out of the transfer window, and nobody seems to have an effing clue what’s going on.

But one thing the club does appear to be getting right, is loan moves for some of the younger players. Tahith Chong has been sent to Werder Bremen, a well-established top-flight team (and he even scored on his competitive debut!). Now James Garner is off to join a Watford squad with recent PL experience, and where he’ll likely get a substantial amount of game time, given that Doucoure recently left.

They’re both still very young, and have already played senior games for United, so there seems to be a plan to get them ready for regular first-team football next season. It remains to be seen whether they’ll actually make the step up or not, but they’re at least being sent on seinsible loans, to teams that are playing at a fairly competitive level. Much like Dean Henderson’s well-planned progression to the first team, there seems to be some actual thought being put into these moves.

Or it could just be that I’m sick and tired of the transfer shite, and I’m looking for any positives I can find. Let’s wait and see – at least there’s a game to look forward to(?) this weekend!
DJ, MUFC (Thiago is a cracking bit of business by Liverpool) India


Solskjaer the wallflower
When footballers are going for the inflated transfer fees they are, 25m for Thiago is a joke.

A real joke, and a slap in United’s face.

Can someone at Old Trafford show some fucking competence please, you lot are on the worlds highest salaries for your profession and level of performance, especially that last part, no way anyone at United performs above their pay right now.

Really hope that Ole can do it, but I keep looking back over my rather short life time at the winners each year, and how often a real, undeniable, force of personality was needed as Manager before it came together.

Guys on the side-line with a personality bigger than most of their players, I used to think that deflection from players was the big benefit there, it is clearly so much more that it provides to the team, from the very start to the very finish of a victorious campaign, or just a competitive one, it drives everyone forward with the manic commitment that it seems to take most of the time to achieve great things.

Sir Alex? Jose? Pep? Jurgen? Claudio? These were not wallflowers, and in my personal opinion, just because Arsene didn’t project his force of personality in the same direct manner as the formerly mentioned managers, to claim that he did not shape Arsenal hugely, to his will, would be incorrect, he absolutely had an iron will, he stuck to his philosophy for example in the face of huge pressure and even swathes of lost-adoration, while that may irk Arsenal fans and be seen as perhaps mere stubbornness or even selfishness, the point stands that he could not shaken from his pillar of belief, another example indeed of a title winning manager who absolutely put his mark on the entire club and then delivered silverware, and I sadly wonder how Ole can fare in that regard, we are not all given the same gifts after all, it is not a bashing, merely an observation.

Speaking to just being competitive, not even demanding victory, Brandan Rogers came how close to a title, not a title winner, but his team competed fantastically, and his personality comes off as so thickly layered on that people parody it, the point again being that you need something about you as the leader of a PFL team challenging for the title, that really secures total buy in from the players, and drives them all forward relentlessly.

I hope that Ole proves me foolishly wrong, it wouldn’t be new for me, and that we can bring some pride back the Jersey this season, even if it doesn’t mean winning, but finishing closer to relegation than Liverpool is just not on really for United, not with our resources and investment,  any other club supporter would surely agree that if their club had our resources, they really would expect consistent success from the team.


Thiago cynicism
The pandemic still carries on, The tensions between neighbouring countries continue in Asia, it’s all weird, I have deactivated all my social media accounts even before ‘the social dilemma’ started trending; it’s all still very 2020.

And then yesterday around 4pm (Indian Standard Time), the news broke. Thiago Alcantara is on his way. Servers of the Athletic crashed, it was all that was being spoken about. Immediately the excitement, almost celebrations began. Testimonials, player videos, what it would mean to the Premier League champions in various articles; added the fuel to the nuclear news that broke.

Amongst all the joy, Me being the cynic that I am, started wondering if a bloody talented world class midfield player could possibly unsettle the balance of the existing side. You see Klopp’s team is a unique machine and it requires every part to function at its best. Thiago is the aesthetic dimension as put aptly by the site with all its explanations as done by many. But my cynical mind won’t rest.

And then the unthinkable, my United supporting friends went on a rant explaining that how utter stupid I sound. I don’t remember the last time my United supporting friends waxing lyricals over a player that LIVERPOOL signed. I mean the pundits, the science all on one end. But when one of the manU friends concludes by saying, “Havertz, Werner etc. on one side, you have no idea the kind of player Liverpool have got now …”

Clearly I have no idea, but it seems that Thiago Alcantara is one of the most all round excitement signing in the football world for some time.
Mihir Nair, Mumbai, LFC. (P.S Liverpool and United fans really dislike each other here as much as probably they do over in England, don’t even know why)


Defending the undefendable
I’m curious to understand what the actual criticism of Ed Woodward is, beyond the fact that he’s apparently not likeable and he had a rocky start to his job. When you’re amongst the world’s richest clubs, you’re always going to be against it when it comes to buying players. Player inflation is insane. We raised our eyebrows when Martial was bought for 35m with add ons. Do we really believe that Havertz, Pepe, Kepa, and Lucas Hernandez all worth more than £70m each? Or that John Stones was a £50m defender? Or that Coutinho was worth £140m? But when a large club comes calling for somebody who has already been recognised as a player with great potential or at the peak of his game, there’s always a high price. It does’t matter if you’re Woodward or Van Der Sar, you can’t negotiate in disguise, can you?

So it’s useless pointing the finger at Woodward for the high prices. United were ridiculed for Maguire, and even for Wan Bissaka last year. And there will be people who will snigger at the £100m+ for Sancho, especially if he turns out to be the next Sanchez rather than the next Ronaldo. And I think it’s absolutely fair for United to have set limits on what they will or won’t pay for a player. We can’t complain about absurd player prices distorting the market, and then point fingers when a club declines to pay them. The same goes for Haaland. I would think many times over before touching a Mino Riola client, who will be plotting his next move from the date his contract has been signed.

The newspapers are always going to clickbait this and manufacture drama. He wants to come, he’s been spoken to, he has confided in his team mates, he has issued a ‘come and get me plea’, he ‘liked’ Pogba’s instagram, and so on, are all designed to titillate. (I still have a soft spot for Nicholas Gaitan). But unless we’re a fly in Woodward’s office, we don’t know what approach has actually been made, whether the player was even in United’s shortlist, and what conversations have happened between Ole and Woodward.

Negotiation is always a game of chicken. And Woodward is not answerable to the fans clamouring on social media and in the mailbox, reacting to newspaper gossip. He is accountable to the owners and will need to explain why he spent 100 million when he could have spent 90 had he waited a couple of weeks. That 10m pays a lot of wages for club staff for a long time. He should be judged at the end of the transfer window if at all. And last I checked, there was fairly low correlation between winning the transfer window and doing well in the league.

The only other way is to find players before they hit the limelight. For what it’s worth there have been a spate of high profile 16-17 year olds who have been brought into the club. Even if a couple of them pay off, that would be a great return. Let’s not forget, all of that is happening under Woodward as well. As was the signing of Bruno. It’s easy to say he should have signed him earlier. But we’re all talking with the benefit of hindsight. In a different universe, he could have been another expensive flop.

So yes, Woodward should be accountable for not having a scouting system that can bring talent into United before they become £80m properties. But it’s a bit harsh to deride him for not signing players for silly money. I’m not a fan of Woodward, but this frothing at the mouth by entitled fans is more annoying.
Ved Sen, MUFC (Isn’t it easy how £50m rolls off the tongue for football fans?)


Don’t piss on our chips
Every year fans of rival clubs suggest that the PL/CL was particularly weak and yet nobody has ever suggested a PL/CL that was ‘strong’, without wearing rose tinted glasses.

Given the optimism of so many fans for their clubs, as well as the excitement that Leeds are generating, can we agree now whether this is a strong league or a weak one?  Come May, I don’t want to be trying to enjoy my chips with a sprinkling of urine.
Nick in Woking


Cheeky Punt is back
‘Jack Grealish: a player with so much skill and trickery I’d wager he doesn’t even get out of the bath to have a s**t.’

It’s great to have Degsy back.
Bagpuss (ironically, moderation > excess), Abroad


The Real Ronaldo
While discussing players under great managers (SAF, Pep, Jose etc), Matt in the morning mailbox listed CR7 as “Ronaldo (not that one)”. I presume he did so as not to be confused with the Brazilian Ronaldo. But why? If anyone randomly sees or hears the name “Ronaldo”, who comes to mind? CR7 or O Fenômeno?

Over the years I’ve seen many people (Matt is probably one of them) refer to the Brazilian as the Real Ronaldo and it just gets my goat. The First Ronaldo, sure, but the Real? You’ve got to be kidding.

O Fenômeno was amazing and ridiculously talented but CR7 is unarguably the greater footballer and definitely more famous. He is currently the most famous athlete on the planet. His impact is more globalized and his legacy more enduring. He has done a lot more to own the name.

The Brazilian just happened to come first but Cristiano is the Real Ronaldo™. Otherwise we might as well call Florentin Pogba, who plays for Sochaux, the Real Pogba because he’s older. What nonsense!
AY (honestly it’s  annoying) 

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