Man Utd player named as England scapegoat the media and fans will enjoy ‘destroying’ after Euros

Editor F365
Kobbie Mainoo in England training before Euro 2024
Will Kobbie Mainoo be the player England build up to knock down?

The Manchester City discourse continues unabated in the Mailbox but the England squad is a welcome distraction now their downfall can be properly predicted.

Send your thoughts to


Southgate doubling down on mistakes?
Heard the squad, thought – yeah, I quite like it but when you look at it on paper we are stacked with midfielders who do the same thing. Wharton, Mainoo, Rice and Gallagher are birds of a feather with varying degrees of impact. I used to be a bit Rice averse but he has come on leaps and bounds since signing for Arsenal, he’s a dead cert, Mainoo looks great and has at least some form from the season but Gallagher? Did alright the other night but he’s not changing a game, he’s not starting a game so what’s the point? Maybe as back up but now we have Wharton as well.

So, it looks very much like we’ll be playing Rice and Mainoo, with Wharton and Gallagher as back up. I think we are about to see a criminal mis-use of Foden and Bellingham. Jude is going to be marked so tightly, playing him up the pitch is going to starve him of space. Play him slightly deeper and he wreaks havoc and allows us to use our fast wide men. Sticking Foden on the left will be like playing Scholes there back in the noughties.

Not bothered about Maddison but surely grealish was worth a go, he can mix it up and guarantees a free kick in a dangerous position. Seems like Southgate (please be the one!) is banking on getting in front and then shoring up with a loaded midfield.

We’ve got a great team, and Southgate has been fantastic to a point – and he definitely knows more about footie than me but I was hoping he would have learned some lessons from previous mistakes – this squad makes me think he is doubling down on them.

I’ll be at Wembley tomorrow though – so come on England prove the doubters wrong!
Tom (Looking back to when we first met)


Squad goals
What is Gareth smoking.

Its the semi’s and we are down 1-0 to France with 15 mins to go and he wants to bring on Jarrod Bowen – Your having a laugh. He was terrible against a bad B&H team the other night.

Luke Shaw isn’t fit and will definitely miss the 1st game. Whoever is his replacement (Trippier or Gomez) plays well against Serbia, do you then use an unfit Shaw who hasn’t played most of the season against stronger oppo? He should be in the same taxi as Maguire.

Dunk is nowhere near an England player, didn’t Gareth watch the B&H game? If Stones gets injured were screwed, Mbappe et al will have a field day.
I could go on……Neil, LFC, USA


Maddison avenue
Am I missing something?

Why the hell has Southgate dropped Maddison out of the England squad?

I wouldn’t just have him in the squad – for me, he’s a nailed-on starter.

Why try and accommodate a sub standard partner to Rice when you can have Bellingham alongside him, with Maddison ahead feeding the front three?

The sort of movement and ability to play others in would make that England attack unplayable.

All I see is Mainoo having a brilliant tournament until we reach the latter stages and the press and fans absolutely destroying him for losing his man.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London

…he’s going to start Dunk and Bowen isn’t he?

Jeez, Gareth. You’ve changed.
Jonno McSchmonno

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Big money
As expected, no real engagement with the idea that booting City out should be the beginning of removing all big money from the game rather than the end goal in itself.

Nothing in any replies beyond the idea that getting rid of City solves everything, or that actually big money is still fine just not in its current distribution.

None of it is serious, it’s all just pissing around the edges. People can keep going on at City fans, calling us cowards and all the rest, but it won’t change anything. You’re either in favour of making football fair and competitive again – which requires the removal of all big money from the game – or you’re not. People can keep wasting their time trying to thread the needle by coming up with reasons why other money is fine if they want, but it’s not the case.

I’m a City fan and not claiming to be a victim of anything. I don’t think City are heroic strugglers against the “Red Cartel”, or that the people who own the club are interested in fairness. Obviously they are not.

But City winning every year or a rotating cast of another three teams winning it in turns – it’s not actually, functionally any fairer or more competitive when you take a wider view, rather than looking at it through the lens of the clubs who are all worth billions and spending hundreds of millions each year.

You can claim that you want City out because you care about fairness in football, or you can say that you think that big money in football is fine but it’s just distributed unfairly – but you can’t do both. And until you all start following your arguments through to their logical conclusions you are certainly not fighting on behalf of the overall health of football in this country.

Alex, Manchester

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FAO: Manchester City supporters
Hi Editor,

I see all the Man City fans that never write in unless people bring up the 115 charges have appeared in the mailbox again.

You can see a theme in all the mails. Its everybody else’s fault from rival fans, the Premier League and the rules. There is zero mention that all this might be related to any wrongdoing on their clubs part as usual.

Just accept your owners behaviour over APT rules confirms their guilt. It is the last pathetic attempt of a corrupt club trying to avoid punishment for breaking rules they think shouldn’t apply to them. The rules never apply to them anywhere else because they are despots who sell natural gas so how dare they get treated like everybody else here is how they feel. We’ve all seen it in movies when the corrupt rich guy finally gets arrested for his crimes and screams at the cops “Do you know who I am? I know the mayor, I’ll have all your badges!” This is the stage City are in now. We enjoy it in the movies but its even sweeter in real life.

Most other clubs have 1 or 2 FFP charges and accept them. City have 115 and these are for things far more serious than mere overspending. If City weren’t up to no good they wouldn’t have been charged so many times. 1 or 2 charges you could argue the PL might have got it wrong but 115? Give us all a break. This isn’t a witch hunt, your club isn’t a victim, your owners are crooked just like the country they run. Can any of you just grow up admit your club broke the rules?

My own club has broken FFP rules before and have been punished. They are also being investigated for possible breaking the rules again too. Am I questioning the rules? No. Blaming other clubs and their fans? No. Playing victim? No. Why? Because my club broke the rules so must face their punishment.

This isn’t just the me, 99.99% of the fans of all other clubs punished for violating FFP rules just accepted it and moved on.

Why can’t City fans do this like other adults?

Not accepting it will just make it impossible for anybody feel to sympathy for you when the guilty verdict is handed down, your ill-gotten trophies are all stripped and club destroyed financially.


One of the great things about football and why it’s so popular around the world is that it’s essentially a meritocracy, on the pitch at least. It doesn’t matter if a footballer comes from the penthouses of Knightsbridge or the favelas of Rio, their ability to earn millions and be admired and celebrated by millions comes down to talent and commitment. There are of course other factors involved and some kids have better access to opportunity and so forth but basically the success of a footballer is determined by ability and little else.

As fans we fundamentally understand this meritocracy even if we’re unaware of its significance. The best players earn the most, the best teams generally have the most success, win the most prizes. The fairness is baked into the sport top to bottom. However, football clubs do not operate within a meritocracy. The best run clubs do not have the most success. The best producers and facilitators of talent do not have the best teams. Due to football operating on a commercial basis football clubs can spend their way to success. This is objectively unfair, but we accept it because sport for fan enjoyment only happens with commercial involvement and financial inequality is a by product of this.

Crucially though we still want and need there to be as much fairness in the system as possible because of how essential it is to the sport. This happens through governance, by establishing rules and enforcing them. If clubs are successful within the established laws then their success has been earnt and achieved fairly. What we cannot accept is a club achieving success through unfair means, by breaking and subverting the rules. It goes against the very principle of the sport.

Man City have funded their success by breaking the rules, we know they have done this because we have seen their internal communications discussing it, organising it, and expressly committing to hiding it. It is right that people are angered by this and reject their success and status as one of the world’s best because it was achieved unfairly. Anger toward Man City fans and calls for them to boycott their club is not because of where the owners come from or how the club has changed the status quo. It is because Man City have acted unfairly for many years, because they now seek to legitimise their wrongdoing, and because they claim what we all know to be objectively false, that it is they who are being treated unfairly. Arguments about human rights and state ownership are valid but also secondary, the club have cheated many times over many years and it is just wrong. Some Man City fans just don’t want to accept that fact.
Dave, Manchester


Another mail about club 115 but I’ll keep it short (unlike some) and lacking in facts (just like everyone else).

Man City are cheaters, that is a fact. However, they are just like Lance Armstrong in that they are simply better at cheating than everyone else. It’s not just one or two people, the whiole club are complicit in it from top to bottom. Where the similarity ends is that Lance Armstrong and team did not sue the sport to try and have the rules changed to allow them to legalise increased cheating. That’s a new level of arrogance and entitlement befitting of the tyranny in their ownership and now DNA.

I find it amusing that the Premier League have not been able to bring City into a courtroom for years as this drags on and on but the minute City throw their toys out of the pram, this must be heard straight away.

The rules are different when you have money, City will no doubt buy their way out of it and we can continue to taint their titles with the dreaded asterix that actually doesn’t make it into the record books believe it or not.
Jon, Cape Town (It’s not coming home is it but let’s hope we enjoy the ride to as far as we get)

📣TO THE COMMENTS! Should Manchester City be punished? And if so, how? Join the debate here


Stop being cowards
So Alex, Manchester says that he is all on board with boycotting Man City as long as it doesn’t just stop with them, and there is wholesale changes. I totally understand. For my part Alex I have been half boycotting football for almost a decade. I stopped spending any money on football, didn’t watch any of the world cup in Qatar and have not watched any of the Saudi league. The only money I have sort of spent on football is at a pub that shows games, sometimes even at 4:30 am if they know there will be enough people. Not sure if f365 will confirm or remember but I have sent multiple mails to f365 about this to try to get people on board with me, some have been posted.

To anyone that thinks it is relevant if I live in Manchester, you are not understanding where that money you make is supposedly coming from. It is from the equivalent of me but City fans. Your global fan base. I am what the argument is all about. I understand why you wouldn’t understand though, you don’t have a global fanbase, let alone one comparing to Arsenal, United, Liverpool, Barca etc., that is what the whole problem is. Clubs have spent 100 years building a global fan base. Not City. You got national funds coming to you. Funds that are supposed to help improve their citizens lives, not make their authoritarian leaders life more entertaining.

Stop being such cowards. Boycott your club.


City fans can’t win
I noticed in today’s Mailbox someone questioning whether Man City’s fans would stick with them if they were relegated, and it reminded me again that City really can’t win with how other supporters view their fanbase. If they sold out the stadium every week they’d be accused of having plastic fans – yet when they don’t sell it out, it’s called the Empty-had, and they’re a laughing stock for not being able to sell out a big Champions League game. So which is it? I’m a neutral (Villa) fan but even I can appreciate that City have had a very loyal core fan base going back to the days of Nicky Weaver and Paul Dickov, and whatever reservations anyone might have about the current set-up, there’s a large portion of loyal fans who’ve been behind them for a very long time in lower divisions (and I include the Gallagher brothers and Ricky Hatton in that!)
David Horgan, Dublin


Fair Market Value
In light of the Man City debacle, I read the excellent ATP Explainer by Matt Stead, got to the part about Fair Market Value (FMV) and immediately had a thought. Allow me to pull some figures out of my actual backside, and allow me some creative licence, to illustrate my thought…

Man City’s primary short sponsor is Brother, and they pay £1m a year to sponsor that shirt. Liverpool’s primary shirt sponsor is Carlsberg, but they pay £1.5m a year to sponsor that shirt. Is that Fair Market Value? Why is Liverpool’s shirt 50% more expensive to sponsor? When Man City renegotiate with Brother, they agree to pay £1.5m per season, because that’s what Carlsberg pay Liverpool, so it must be Fair Market Value.

Man Utd then announce a blockbuster deal with their shirt sponsor, Sharp. £2m a year!! Wow. Is that Fair Market Value? It probably is, because Man Utd are massive and sell squillions of shirts, are always on TV, and are league champions.

Chelsea then announce that, no no no, despite failing to qualify for the Champions League this season, their shirt sponsor, Commodore, has agreed to a £3m a year shirt sponsorship deal. Is that Fair Market Value? £3m a year for a flippin’ shirt deal, and Chelsea aren’t even in the Champions League. Wowsers. It is agreed that, seeing as Commodore are happy to pay £3m a year, then it kinda has to be Fair Market Value. Expensive, but fair.

Man City then get bought out by Abu Dhabi and go back to renegotiate with Brother. Man City now want £3m per season for a shirt deal, but Brother cannot afford it. Man City also approach Crown Paints, McEwans Lager, Newcastle Brown Ale, JVC and Muller Yoghurts for £3m a year, and no one pays that money. Then, from nowhere, Man City then find an Abu Dhabi based business called Etihad who are willing to sponsor the shirts for £5m a year, blowing the Chelsea / Commodore deal out of the water. Incredible.

Playing devil’s advocate, wording this carefully, it’s very fortunate that the new Abu Dhabi based owners of Man City found such a wealthy and generous sponsor in Abu Dhabi. The rest of the Premier League smell something funny cooking and claim that this is not Fair Market Value. To add my own personal remarks about this situation, to me it’s clear that there’s some underhand and creative accounting going on here. It shouldn’t happen, but clearly it can, and can it legally be stopped?

I suppose there is a serious question that needs answering here. If the owner of Man City does actually own multiple companies, and he is the decision maker of Man City AND these multiple companies, and the companies can afford it, and the deals go through… as unpalatable as it is… what makes these not Fair Market Value when, for the previous two years, the likes of Carlsberg, Sharp and Commodore all blew each other out of the water to have the most valuable shirt deal?

We know the crux of the matter is that the owner of Man City essentially owns all of the companies that are seemingly delighted to pay world-beating sponsorship deals to Man City, thusly allowing them to compete financially with the traditional big boys. However it’s not illegal for him to own all of these businesses. He’s allowed to do that. They’re his businesses, it’s his club, it’s his money.

Morally, Man City should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. Are they doing anything illegal though? Does the actual law trump Premier League rules? How did Abu Dhabi get through the fit-n-proper test in the first place? I genuinely don’t know. This is going to be a very interesting couple of weeks. Just to reiterate though, I am firmly of the camp that Man City are shamelessly breaking Premier League rules and need to be punished to the full extent of the Premier League’s power.
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite


The Red Cartel are right to be upset
In response to the many, many mails from City fans complaining that it’s always Arsenal, Liverpool and United fans complaining about City’s financial dealings, I would offer the suggestion that the complaints are more relevant from supporters of these clubs. Yes, all three have foreign investors, but all three had either won or were regularly challenging for titles when they were bought out, and that’s precisely why they were a target for investors, because they were already successful clubs that had a strong financial base on which to build. These owners didn’t just throw money at the teams, and in most cases actually became a hindrance to their development. They were clubs that had spent decades building their successes, and then the likes of Chelsea and City – two teams who were nowhere near competing before their rich owners came in – were just given the cheat codes to get where they wanted to be.

I can’t speak on the ins and outs of United and Liverpool’s ownership over the years, but as an Arsenal fan, I’ve seen our club develop slowly since I started supporting them at the scrag-end of the George Graham era. We had the odd big money signing here and there, but it’s well known that the team’s successes in the late 90s/early 2000s were largely down to home grown talent and bargain purchases. And then we moved to the new stadium, which we had to take out loans for, which obviously needed paying off. Then the investors came in and we stagnated for years, with the board unwilling to invest proper money into the team and we were forced to watch the likes of Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh, Yaya Sanogo and Johann Djourou. As long as we qualified for the Champions League and Stan Kroenke got his £3m salary, then they didn’t give a toss if we won anything or not.

So you’re damn right we’re looking at City’s financial trickery as being unfair, because we did it the hard way. We can spend the big bucks now because we’ve built everything slowly and sensibly and, most importantly, within the rules. It’s what Villa are (so far successfully) trying to do now, and good luck to them.

We all just want a fair playing field.
Matt (Alright, maybe Chelsea were sort of competing before Abramovich came along, but only a bit)


Hats off to some top-class whataboutery from the City fans this morning…

Was the PL set up as a cash grab from the (then) top teams in England and was that bad? Yes and yes.

Has the league, in its short term greed, allowed a parade of grotesques to gain ownership of too many clubs? Hell yes (that it took the invasion of Ukraine for the penny to drop that Abramovich might be a wrong ‘un tells us plenty about the miserable history of governance in the sport).

Does that mean that actual states run by actual authoritarian monarchies using near limitless wealth derived from oil production that is actually cooking the planet  buying up clubs to willy-wave as soft-power projection via sportswashing of said authoritarian and ecocidal political records, and also using that wealth to abuse the court system in an effort to entrench that power at the expensive any remaining semblance of competitivity in a sport that’s just supposed to be some fun (and, you know, maybe a wee break from the crushing geopolitical nonsense that we live through rather than its brutal extension) is exactly the same and totally ok?

No, no it does not. There are unsavoury aspects of supporting modern, top league football clubs for sure, but at some point lines need to be drawn. Maybe we could learn from the mistakes of the past, rather than repeating them, and make football better rather than worse for once?
Euan, AFC

P.S. Levenshulme Blue – Alisher Usmanov was trying to get ownership of Arsenal a few years back. I did think about what I’d do if he were successful, and (due to reasons that probably can’t get printed) no, I would not have continued to support the club. Some things are more important than football.


Interesting to see the City fans strike back in the mailbox.  And it was quite striking how much more balanced their input seems to be than the vitriolic ramblings of the red cartel fans.  They are obviously aware that their club has been financially doped up to the eyeballs, but also aware it has happened on the back of a  long history of financial doping in the PL.

It got me thinking, if Man City hadn’t won 6 of the last 7 titles, who would have won them?  And a quick check of the tables tells me:

23/24 Arsenal
22/23 Arsenal
21/22 Liverpool
20/21 Man U
19/20 Liverpool
18/19 Liverpool
17/18 Man U

No wonder the red cartel are seething.  We could have had a continuation of the same sterile league dominated by the three G14 financial dopers, rather than petro-dollar financial dopers.

We all know the league should not be this way.  Clubs are not meant to have huge financial advantages over the rest.  It is meant to be a sport with an attempt at a level playing field.  But fans of the red cartel trying to convince us that it would all be better if Man C weren’t corrupting it, is the height of hypocrisy.

Unless you are wiling to call out your own clubs for corrupting the league in the first place.  Unless you are calling for the money generated by the PL to be shared equally between the clubs.  Then your faux-outrage is meaningless.  We all know what you are really calling for is a return to the previous version of financial doping where your clubs had all the money.
Jim (THFC)


Are Arsenal even part of it?
I just want to take umbrage at the idea that Arsenal are part of the ‘red cartel’. We haven’t won the league in over 20 years, we’ve never won the Champions League, if we are part of said cartel, we’re the least achieving member. We are the footballing equivalent of Richard Hammond compared to United and Liverpool in terms of titles, European or otherwise.

If we are part of an Anti-City cabal, which I think every club should be, it is because every moment of our ascension has been checked by Roman and his roubles, and City and their sovereign wealth fund. We spent season after season selling our crown jewel players just to pay off our stadium debt. We earned our right to compete, and we were in the trenches, with AFTV et al. So to see City crow about four in a row and trebles that have been built on explicit cheating, sticks in our craw. So to have City fans say ‘you’re just jealous’ or ‘we should be allowed to fix the system so we win’ just rings hollow.
John Matrix AFC

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