Van de Beek confusion; Mikel Allardyce; unlikeable Everton

Date published: Monday 26th October 2020 8:13

Donny van de Beek was an Ed Woodward signing that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can't figure out.

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A real loss today with the passing of Kevin McCarra. A great journalist and creator of so many images for events you weren’t there for. Very sad – thoughts with his family.

Will raise a glass of scotch tonight to you


Chill out

I don’t know why there is so much negativity around Saturday’s game. This was not a first division team that United drew 0-0 against, nor was it the first ever 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. United had 14 shots (we have had fewer in games) and did look the better team. A team full of expensive superstars came to Old Trafford to sit back and hit them on the break. Ole made sure they were unable to do that while creating chances on their own. Compared to the PSG performance, surely we were not expecting United to make the same PSG mistake of throwing people forward against a team built for the counter. This was almost a Mourinho masterclass from Ole but I guess the only reason we are expecting more is that he has raised expectations again.

The bench did look stronger but apart from James, you cannot argue that the rest of the starting 11 was not on merit. I do not understand the criticism about the bench. It has been a long time since we have had people on the bench who could be brought on and impact the game. I have no issues with United starting with Fred and McTominay shielding the defence at the start of games and then replacing one of them when United are chasing the game.

And therein lies the Van de Beek conundrum. I don’t think Ole knows his best position yet. Is he willing/able to play the Fred/McTominay role? If not, then he is competing with Pogba for the games where United only play one defensive midfielder. Pogba is better at long range distribution whereas Van de Beek likes to play higher up and play quick one touch football. He also tends to lose the ball like Pogba but higher up the pitch. I do think this is Pogba’s last season at United so this year is an audition year for Van de Beek as Pogba’s replacement.

So overall, happy with where we are now given how the rest of the league is going. This will be the strongest squad United have had in a while and Ole should be winning a trophy this season.
Hassan (United for the double this season)   


The amount of vitriol poured on one Ole Gunner Solskjaer is reaching Mourinho level. He beat a PSG team that almost always steamrolled the group stage. He put out a side that destroyed Newcastle, and gets a draw against Chelsea.

Here’s a manager that didn’t get the backing he wanted, he didn’t get the players he wanted and was left to feed off tranfer scraps just to field a squad, vs a manager that has been backed to the tilt. I don’t even think Guardiola recieved this much support on a single window. Chelsea are simply stacked. There are no 2 ways about it. Chelsea should simply be walking away with this title.

Here’s a manager who got everything he asked for, even managed to toss out a 70 million goal keeper and have his club pay 40 million on another goal keeper, vs a manager whose board couldn’t even get target 1, and just bought a bunch of names for the coach. The wierd thing is, the guy that was properly undercut is recieving all the abuse and criticism,  while the guy that guy that had everything he ever wished for is getting a pass.

Wait a minute, one is English and the other is foreign.
Dave(Brexit means Brexit, I guess), Somewhere


Lessons from Schalke

I was watching the Dortmund Schalke game this weekend where Schalke played a formation I had not come across before. The commentator described it as 3-3-2-2, with the midfield 3 moving to form a back 6 in defence and licensed to go forward in attack. On reflection, this seems like a formation that could really benefit a team that lacks strong full/wing backs and does not have a strong back line. The first team that comes to mind that could utilise this formation in the premier league is Man U:

Back line: AWB, Maguire, Lindeloff
Midfield: Van de Beek, Matic (or Scott McT), Fred
Attacking playmakers: Bruno F, Pogba
Strikers / inside forwards: Rashford, Martial

This system would allow Man U simultaneously be ultra compact in defensive with a block of six as well as play their two best players in their best positions (Pogba, Bruno) and play Van de Beek. Up front the forwards could split wide (both rashford and martial prefer to attack wide and then cut in anyways) which would also create space in the box for Pogba, Bruno and Van de Beek to run onto cut backs. Ole at the Wheel – what do you think?
Alex (The bundesliga seems to be at the forefront of tactical innovation), London


Van de Beek off

I have a sneaking feeling Donny van de Beek was a Woodward signing rather than a Solskjaer signing. Cant think of any other reason he’s not getting game time. I agree with playing two holding midfielders (as long as Pogba is not one of them) but Van De Beek was surely worth a punt against Chelsea when the changes were made. How Pogba is still being considered baffles me.
Ken, Cork, Ireland 


So the latest hideousness regarding MUFC is the chirping going on about how Van de Beek is not being used and it’s a crime not to use him.

Looking at the way OGS operates, I doubt there are non footballing reasons that Van de Beek a isn’t playing. He seems to be working to a plan with Van de Beek and he deserves time to implement it.

Klopp didn’t have so much whining when he brought Fabinho in and barely played him.
Ryan B


Mikel Allardyce

I am a Nigerian, had to chose the club I love, decided on Arsenal because of the wonderful Arsene Wenger’s team played.

Watching Arteta football is most times Painful to watch. Against big teams we suffer, ride our luck, plus Martinez was amazing, and we won a few games. Against team we are suppose to be superior, we suffer from an obvious lack of creativity. Leicester was painful to watch. I just can’t fathom what Arteta has turned Arsenal into. Even against Leicester who where sitting back, we still played 3 at back(Xhaka playing Left Centre back). Partey was asked to sit deep…and why the determination that Aubemeyang shouldn’t play as a centre striker. He is our best striker.

He has made us more disciplined. I don’t care. Bar the last season, Wenger played quality football and still challenged the top four, amd won aa few FA cups along the way. Now we are structured and well Organized in defence. Play like shit. Arteta is nothing but an inferior Big Sam.


Ever since 28th September, when Arsenal travelled to Anfield to stand around and watch Liverpool’s title winning squad pass the ball for 90 minutes in a poor imitation of a competitive match, I have had real concerns about Arsenal. I have no brilliant suggestions, I’m just angry tonight after our defeat against Leicester and in need of a rant.

Over the years, our various footballing displays have veered from the ridiculously good to the ridiculously bad, but they were rarely this BORING. We were mocked for: the team being physically and mentally weak, the absence of trophies, being nothing more than a Top 4 team… but now we are stale and dry, like an old cream cracker. I keep reading that we’re now more ‘resilient’ (meaning we just get fewer severe beatings on the pitch) but we are also lacking in ambition, style and class when we show up to games. Many teams will go to Anfield and the Etihad this season and leave empty handed but the shame is in not even making a decent go of it.

Solskjaer and Lampard are frequently the subjects of heated debate, is it just that Arteta is too dull to be called out? Or is it just that nothing is expected of Arsenal anyway? I don’t want to see him fired, I’m just surprised that Arsenal’s on-pitch spark is dying and there is little comment on it. (The ongoing Ozil situation and the embarrassingly badly handled Gunnersaurus episode have added a thick layer of off-pitch cringe, we won’t go further into that.)

Maybe by tomorrow morning, I’ll have calmed down. I’ll accept that we have strikers out of form right now so things can improve. I’ll appreciate that Arsenal’s Goals Against stat in the table hints at that improved defensive resilience (admittedly boosted by the insane scorelines of other matches in recent weeks) and I’ll acknowledge that building a balanced team takes time. But I will still sadly watch as Arsenal fail, yet again, to make a sexy pass from midfield and sigh with frustration at Pepe attempting basic football skills. I will still wonder if making us harder to beat has been effective. Things have looked up at times under Arteta but we’re overall uglier and still rarely beating the best teams and that is just…disappointing.
Anastacia Needlemeier


Just writing about Arsenal vs Leicester

No one f**king saw it

I’d bet a pile of money that total eyeballs in the UK would be < 200k. I say inside the UK because in almost every other country around the world there are (legal) options to watch every game, paying less than £14.95 a month let alone for a single match

Premier League, Sky, BT – f.*.*.k. you
Simon, AFC, London


Unlikeable Everton

Not entirely sure where this streak of spitefulness is coming through at Everton. If there is any responsibility to pointed at the handsome charismatic Uncle Carlo. But even in previous interviews, he seems to ignore any bad feeling towards the Van Dijk scenario. Just seemed to brush under the carpet, but guess you need to protect your players. But no admission of wrong doing on pickfords behalf.

Now two red cards in last two fixtures. Richarlison as shown his temperamental side, 3 red cards in his short prem career for a 23 year old, isn’t a glamorous record.

I think the natural temperaments of some of their first team players seems to be that of a ‘shithousery’ style. James seems to be a bit of wind up, simultaneously being a bit of a baby. Along with Allan, seems to always leave a foot in, or go in for a challenge for no reason. I personally can’t see likeable players in their current 11 and bench. But im not sure if thats me being a bias liverpool fan. DCL seems to be a alright, but not sure if that is just his cureent good form. But dont get me started on the pickford and digne instagram fiasco.

However just wanted to know if anyone felt the same, or if its just rhe sour taste of last weekend in my mouth.
Ross, Essex


It was never going to last, but that was some crashing down to earth. We lacked all semblance of tempo, which was in complete contrast to Southampton. I wrote a rambling preview full of inaccuracies (Walcott is actually on loan so couldn’t play, and Kenny is out injured for a while for us…) and only gave credit to Southamptons front two. I’d thought of Ings and Adams only as a goal threat, which they were and are, but they pressed from the top and the rest of their midfield followed. Really impressed by Armstrong, Romeu and Westegaard – felt like a really strong spine. They were all over us, first to the 50-50s and more quick and skillful on the ball than us.

-We had one moment in the first half were Sigurdsson hit the bar – the build up was properly sexy but that was about it. It definitely had the feel that teams are cottoning on to Rodríguez’ switch from right to left, so we didn’t really build up moves.

-Poor Ben Godfrey looked like a centre-half playing right-back. He may have to continue there with Coleman and Kenny out. The other option would be Tom Davies who has played there sparingly.

-Davies might also play if we change our formation and go with wing-backs, which is likely given further personnel changes. The first of those being dropping Iwobi – he was dreadful. Some promising cameos when we’ve been on top this season gave way to a showing of miscontrols, miscues and just missing the ball. Not great. Furthermore, DCL looked isolated because we didn’t have Richarlison creating a second presence in the box, too.

-Of course, the main personnel change for the next few games is from another red card. I don’t think Digne meant to do it, I’ve heard some commentators say it was a “stamp” which I don’t believe is correct. But, I think we have to accept that he endangered the player – thankfully Walker-Peters was ok – and so we can’t complain. F365 had him as our “Irreplaceable”, and whilst Nkounkou has done well in the League Cup, it’s a big blow. Missing Coleman, Digne and Richarlison for at least Newcastle away and Man U at home is taking away a big part of our side.

-There’ll likely be glee and delight at another red card for Everton, and that we’re “that sort of side”, I’d feel that would be incorrect but changing a narrative is hard. That said, we were very ratty after the red card and I spent the last 20 minutes in fear that Rodríguez would do something stupid and get himself sent off, too.

-Those next three games – Newcastle, Man U and Fulham – should be ones we should not lose, and before the Liverpool game and our losses ones we’d be expecting to win all three. Now, well, we need to work hard , dig deep and other clichés to not throw away a great start. Time to lick our wounds and go again.

Congrats again to Southampton,
Matt, EFC, London


Still only 9 wins from safety. At this stage of the season, I’ll take that.
Aidan, EFC, London


Raised by Wolves

Once I had seen that the early winners on Saturday had been a deserved West Ham side, I knew that, bar a big convincing win, that Wolves would have been the early losers.

Just to get a few things straight. Yes, the match was a bore. Yes, it was devoid of inspiration for the majority of it. Yes, I wish Wolves had gone a bit more attacking sometimes. Yes, I wish I had those two hours back so I could have watched paint dry.

However, this is a Wolves side that is in transition. Nuno is trying to get the side to be more dominant, which also means that Traore, who was at times last season unplayable, is dropped to the bench. And with the sales of two first team players in Doherty and Jota, there has been a lot of upheaval in the side. Not to mention the whole left side of the team is pretty terrible at the minute.

Also, we have seen many established sides in the Premier League try and change their style and have it backfire spectacularly. Relegation this season also could be particularly bad due to the world situation, as the financial impact could be greater than usual. So I personally think Nuno is making the right call on not overhauling the style of play in an instant to try and go more dominant, there are small baby steps towards it with the team selection and some of the interchanges between the front three. It might not be great to watch at the minute, but it will get better over time. And personally, I like Wolves style of play, it’s generally easy on the eye and at times very exciting. And as said, tends to be very effective also.

And with the uncertainty around everything going on everywhere, Wolves didn’t overspend in the transfer market, a net spend in the summer of around £2.5M, while also getting contract extensions agreed for some key players and the manager. They probably could have pushed the boat out and signed a few more players in the area’s I mentioned above, however, this is a club with a long term plan of sustainability and progression in mind. So taking that gamble on a potential short term gain would go against everything the club is trying to achieve.

This is a club that seven and a half years ago had just been relegated to League One with Dean Saunders in charge. I think being 8th in the Premier League with a manager who actually knows what he is doing and helping build up the success of the club for the future, while also progressing the style of play to a more dominant version of the current model, with a side that has some glaring holes in it. Sign me up for that familiarity.
Michael Dixon (if I had a Euro for every time a commentator says Max Kilman played Futsal for England, I would have a lot of Euros), Dublin


Ed’s Crystal balls

Well done everyone who contributed to thousands of pounds being raised for charities instead of buying pay per view football.

*Saturday’s best game saw the two English teams most fond of Roy Hodgson meet at Craven Cottage, as Crystal Palace took on Richard Osman’s Fulham.

*Hodgson made several changes to the team that survived the thriller against Brighton. He retained his 4-4-2, but injuries for James McArthur and Joel Ward meant a recall for Luka Milivojevic in midfield, and a first start for Nathaniel Clyne since he rejoined the club. Jairo Riedewald also started in midfield, presumably to appease the section of the fanbase that has it in for Milivojevic, and because he is beginning to show his talents as an all-round midfielder, something that was desperately needed in McArthur’s absence.

*On the subject of Milivojevic, he has been dividing fans for a while. A lot of it is revisionism, but it’s easy to see how a season in which he scored a lot of penalties and free kicks would distract people from the flaws in his general play, whereas last season, without the opportunities from the spot, more attention was drawn to him in midfield; he was blamed for the lack of dynamism in the team, yet the numbers showed he was still one of the top chance creators. Any way you look at it, it’s easy to make a case for the strongest midfield combinations (whether two or three) not featuring him, and that Palace have moved on from someone who was once their most influential player – they’ve even started scoring from corners when he hasn’t been taking them.

*Threatening to overtake the Milivojevic angst on social media is the anger when Jeffrey Schlupp starts ahead of Eberechi Eze. I’ve said before that I expected him to feature more when Patrick van Aanholt is fit to play and mentor him, in the way Schlupp has worked with Tyrick Mitchell. It was telling that in order to accommodate van Aanholt off the bench, Mitchell moved to right-back behind Andros Townsend, who was praised for the way he worked with Aaron Wan-Bissaka. I would have liked to see the Eze-van Aanholt combination given the chance to start, because I think it will reap rewards in games against teams who will play the underdog against Palace, or who have weak defences. That said, Mitchell and Schlupp started in the victories over Fulham and Manchester United. It’s good to have options.

*Riedewald’s goal came as a result of excellent link up play involving a defender (Mitchell), a forward (Wilfried Zaha) and a midfielder. Zaha’s ability to dominate the thought processes of an opposition defence was starkly apparent: Match of the Day highlighted at least six Fulham players watching him and no one giving any consideration to which teammate he might pass to. In the end, the Ivorian dropped a perfectly weighted pass behind the defence and Riedewald had little trouble beating the goalkeeper. His attitude towards his lack of playing time is second only to the way he has seized his opportunity, and hopefully this will be the start of a run in the first team for him.

*After that, it was simply a case of letting Fulham keep the ball while Palace kept their shape, knowing that more opportunities would present themselves. One such opportunity was the second goal, where Michy Batshuayi played a ball across the goal for Zaha to slid in bravely at the back post. In the end, the Eagles had ten shots on target to their hosts’ three, one of which was a consolation goal in the 95th minute. In future games they will need to turn this dominance of chances into dominance on the scoreboard, but in terms of this individual game, they did more than enough.

*Next up for Palace is a trip to Wolverhampton, needlessly being played on Friday night. Fill your boots with “horror show” analogies.

*The first highlights package of EFL on Quest featured Watford players as victims of studs-up reducer challenges that don’t get properly punished instead of the perpetrators. Have we slipped into a parallel universe or is it simply 2020 continuing to get progressively weirder?

*Following the sh*t shower on Friday from their MPs, there was a massive rain shower across the East Midlands on Saturday afternoon. Even so, it seems like Grantham Town would have better without their McIntosh.
Ed Quoththeraven


VAR corner

Once again we have VAR incorrectly influencing the result of a game. I have no problem with the linesman putting his flag up when Lacazette’s header went in. He saw 2 players in an offside position and it would be very difficult for the linesman to know if the ball touched them or whether they were active or impeding and opponent. Var needs to step in do these same checks and correct the obvious error.

The telling thing for me is not one Leicester player appealed to the ref. You would usually see a GK waving his arms, pointing at the offending player and running to the ref if he felt he’d been obstructed or fouled. Xhaka wasn’t between Schmeichel and the ball and impeded no Leicester player trying to clear the ball, he clearly got out of the way so the ball didn’t hit him. Same can be said for Aubameyang. What is it that VAR saw to chalk off this goal? It needs explaining just as other awful VAR decisions do. I’m not a fan of refs having to explain their split second, 1 view only on pitch decisions but VAR should have to.

Considering Leicester’s tactics of sitting deep and counter attacking that goal totally changes the game. Credit to Leicester for the second half, the plan worked but it would have been a totally different game tactically if VAR had done its job. Please ensure you don’t have anyone suggesting these things will even itself out over a season, they don’t, and by saying it you accept the terrible errors, why should we do that?
Rich (AFC)


We all know what VAR was supposedly implemented for, that being obvious errors.

The trouble is now it’s here, there’s no way to just stop at that so it’s here to stay.

I hope we all agree that it’s not the technology, but the people using it and/or the rules as they are.

You would think some stuff will always need a decision for a human to make, sending offs, missed errors etc.. if we could take away anything to lighten the workload of the person who would make those decisions, they may make better quality ones, and let’s be honest here, there’s not that many per game of those.

The biggest one I think we could take away would be offsides as there’s a lot of grey area. How about, instead of all this “the part you can score with your arm is 4cms from the armpit” crud, how about we make it as binary as possible.

Either we favour attackers, and say there has to be daylight between any part of the players, or we favour defenders and say if any part of the attacker is in front then it’s offside.

So simple.

Then they could get a bot to do it, and the VAR person just has to check the bot has drawn the lines correct and judge any particulars, like other players interfering.

I know it wouldn’t be completely accurate, but it would be consistent, and probably take a few seconds. Even if they didn’t have a bot, that rule change would be beneficial, along with others (starting with if a foul is committed after an offside it’s still punishable).

The real beauty is in-game, if lino spots and obvious offside, then call it, otherwise maybe raise the flag halfway to signify he’s not 100%, let the move play out and if a goal is scored it gets checked.

Sure it still sucks a little fun out of the celebration, but we’re never going back to those days.
Steve {different brackets} Bristol


Stop those kneejerks

Dear the following:

DNA Boy Out Brigade Member (including Leon who wrote in to complain about  a draw….

F365 Writer pimping out their favourite  Tactician of the week

This is our year Type

Please just STFU and enjoy what’s going on it ‘s ridiculous watching people out with pitchforks one week before hsving to back track the next week . F365 jumped the shark this week when they decided to pimp out Hassenjutl again after he defeated ;last weeks poster-boy for experienced managers .

The sooner we all accept that this is going to be a slugfest ,and no one knows what’s going to happen next and basically criticise each performance withut a set narrative the better everyone’s life will be.7

For context Liverpool took almost 25 games to drop 5 points last year now look at them .

Sit down grab your pop corn and watcghh, analyse without letting your personal bias take over
Shayd, Man Utd (Who am I kidding you’ll will never change)


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