Varane could get AWB dropped, plus your worst football takes

Date published: Wednesday 25th August 2021 10:14 - Editor F365

Raphael Varane

Diogo Dalot may take Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s Manchester United place when Raphael Varane comes in. And we want more of your awful football takes.

Send them to


Embarrassing takes
Since Mort Snort, Saints’ email has caused a debate to take hold in the Mailbox thought i would throw my own moments where judgement was very lapse, who doesn’t love a good laugh at themselves now and then?

– Last summer i said Ngolo Kante should be sold to Inter if we could get £100m, my reasoning was he was coming off an injury hit campaign, the fee was good value and we could reinvest it better, how wrong i was and that is why i am no where near the boardroom of a football club.

– When Harry Kane signed a new deal during 14/15 his breakout campaign in the February i texted my college friend and said that Kane was a one season wonder and this will backfire badly for Spurs, naturally five seasons of 20+ goals later he has proven me very wrong.

– Not a football related one but hilarious all the same, back in my college days the technology boom with Apple was starting to kick off, the day that they announced the iPad i distincitly remember chuckling with my classmate where we both agreed that “The iPad is just a very big iPhone, what a waste of time that product is because no one will buy that or even use it as it is gimmick”……..this was written on my iPad that i use daily.
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod 


Mort Snort, Saints – I have to respect your honesty. Now you’ve taken the plunge I will follow

Three times I was wrong:

I genuinely believed Adel Taarabt would light up the premier league. My Uncle is a QPR fan, I had played with Taarabt on FIFA 12 or 13 and one of my best friend is Moroccan. Oh how I was wrong

I placed a £10 bet in 2013 on Jupp Heynckes becoming the next Chelsea manager. I was younger and read a sensationalist article from the Bleacher Report (a US sports site). I’m sure he was retired at that point. What was I thinking.

I followed the crowd when I believe that Messi wasn’t as good as Ronaldo as he hadn’t proven himself in another league. What a ridiculous train of thought.

I’ve got so many more but I will keep it short.


Make your Martial mind up
Should Manchester United persist with Martial
? My feeling is either “meh” or “no”.

“Meh” because he might be useful in the Carling Cup or Norwich at home in the league between Champions League knockout games.

“No” because – as I was published by this esteemed editor stating last year – he and Rashford are right-foot Robbens without the skill.

Martial likes to run inside into blind alleys…using only a slight drop of the shoulder that doesn’t convince anyone anymore. His debut goal against Liverpool featured this and (crucially) a sharp turn back onto his left. He no longer wants to come back in on the left and does what virtually every right-footed left winger does now – run across inside until they are either tackled or forced to pass backwards.

It’s all to do with the body angle.

Left footers naturally stand much more side/diagonally-on (you’ll see this clearly in boxing or kickboxing where they are known as southpaws) and that threat of going in diagonally or outside makes them perfectly placed to be “inverted” wingers.

Right-footed players, however, are much more square-on and it impacts their ability to cut in and past when they are on the “wrong” flank…..they always go across and backwards. Iniesta is the exception, although it was very forced as he stood parallel to the touchline rather than diagonal like Messi on the other side. It worked though.

A simple stepover with the right foot and carrying it with the left foot a bit more would do Manchester United, Martial (and Rashford) the world of good.
Silvio Dante


Dalot to ponder
The Manchester United arrival of Varane has potential implications for our midfield, as has been picked up on by many outlets, potentially allowing us to get rid of the McFred (or worse Fratic) combo of DMs. But I wonder if Ole will have the balls (no, I don’t wonder actually, he definitely will not) to use Varane as a reason to give Dalot the nod at right back.

To be completely honest, I don’t think that Dalot is as good as Wan-Bissaka in one to one defending (or defending in general), but I also don’t think that Dalot is so much worse at defending that his much better attacking qualities are outweighed. AWB is not such a good defender that his position should be untouchable at Manchester United, and his lack of focus and positional sense costs us goals.

I don’t know if playing Dalot at RB would actually cost us more goals, and with Varane covering, Dalot bombing up and down the right touchline like a peak Gary Neville or Rafael, doubling up with Sancho, could actually create more goals than we concede. I’m probably expecting too much for one player (Varane) to do here, so a CDM of the ilk of Ndidi or Kante would be great too, but I still think it’s worth a good run of games, especially considering how long the Fred experiment has lasted at Manchester United.
Daniel, Cambridge


Arteta ramble
I think the Arteta thing has and always will be the fact that of all these great heralded names that learned under the Wenger tree and got to understand his philosophies and the things that he tried to do… The one who has implemented his understanding of the club is Arteta.

Henry has not worked out at Monaco, Vieira has had ups but considerable downs, Ljungberg wasn’t too impressive in his caretaker stint and Bergkamp has been part of the Ajax backroom, Pires isn’t interested in management, neither is Ashley Cole. Man Utd hired Olé to try meld one era with the other, and he’s making a fist of it somewhat at least. Arteta never saw the glory days, he saw “the stable days”. Clock in, make sure you get 4th, clock out, rinse repeat. All he knows about “The Arsenal Way” is keeping things stable. Achieve the minimum requirement, and that’s what success is. That’s what he knows about Arsenal football club.

Olé in comparison, was in a few different periods of mostly runaway success, and his historic moment was one borne of the entire ethos of the club up to that point. At least he knows something about what the club he’s associated with try to achieve. Arteta’s spell as an Arsenal player came after the glory days were long and truly gone and consolidation was their mission for the season.

Imagine after the Solskjaer era and they decided to give the reigns to a fresh faced manager like Ander Herrera? Spanish comparisons be damned, he would know as much of what the club “is about” as Arteta does for his.
Dave (David May knew more about Utd than Arteta does about Arsenal), Dublin


Bayern shares
One to add to the players signed by teams they impressed against – Roy Makaay to Bayern.

When Makaay was at Deportivo back when they were good (2002-2003), they played Bayern in the Champions League groups in Munich. Makaay tore the Bayern defence a new one on the way to a hat-trick in a 3-2 win (I was there); and then also got the winner in Depor’s 2-1 home win, as well as the winner in the San Siro v AC Milan later in the group. The following summer Bayern forked out what was then club a record fee of €18.75 million, and got 78 goals in 129 games for their money.
Chris Mac, LFC (Depor also had Diego Tristan and Valeron then, what a fun side to watch)


Manchester City and marketing
Over the weekend I saw an Instagram post showing the number of followers top European sides had on the platform, and was mildly interested to see Man City (25.8m) had overtaken Arsenal (19.8m) and weren’t too far off Liverpool (32m). This got me thinking about Man City’s global brand and a half baked theory I’d seen elsewhere on why they’ve been aggressively pursuing Jack Grealish and Harry Kane all summer. So it’s time to strap on my tin foil hat and let you all know why these two specific players are all part of a marketing ploy to improve the Citizens’ global brand…

As far as I can tell the invention of the Premier League was a tipping point, whereby the default choice for new supporters wasn’t their local club but the ones on TV winning every week. Subsequently clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool & (most notably) Man Utd saw an explosion in supporter numbers, which was magnified even further overseas as the Premier League continued to grow in popularity. 30 years later and following a decade of sustained success Man City are seemingly gaining some ground on these clubs in terms of international support, yet are still an enormous way off in terms of domestic support.

This seems to be for two main reasons; firstly all those kids in the 90s who started supporting the powerhouses of their era are now having kids of their own and sharing their support, leaving less opportunity for Man City to grow their domestic support. Couple this with the tone taken by pundits and rival supporters when discussing their success (the words “money” & “cheat” are never far away when Man City are being discussed in public) and you’d imagine it’d be hard for casuals to warm to a club that is openly despised by at least 50% of football supporters in the UK.

So, how do Man City get around this? Considering the acclaim and goodwill the national team earned this summer a shortcut to greater popularity has presented itself. England’s run to the European Championships finals brought in a new wave of casuals on these shores, and may have a similar if not quite as stark impact as Euro 96 in drawing more casuals into the game. And a very strong argument could be made that the most recognisable characters from that squad were the captain (who went from being criticised to equalling then breaking a bunch of Gary Lineker & Alan Shearer’s records), Raheem Sterling (top scorer) & Jack Grealish (thanks to the hype from the pundits and social media reaction, such as the notoriety of twitter accounts like @MissGrealish69).

Man City already own one of these players, and even if there is no outright need for the other two they’re both excellent players who’d improve any squad in the country. Aside from the ability they show on the pitch you theoretically capture the imagination of very casual bi-annual supporters (“who does that Grealish guy play for?”), draw in the kids who just experienced the first international tournament and soften your image in the media (who become a bit less likely to criticise City when they’re home to England’s captain and golden boy rather than Argentine or Portuguese players of equal quality).

Flawless right? Well, not quite given how this theory relies on several rather large leaps of logic; is it worth £250 million in transfer fees alone for this kind of intangible reward? Would the casual public just immediately start disliking both players because they’re wearing sky blue? Are Man City that bothered about increasing domestic support if international support is growing steadily? After all, the most likely option is they have pursued these players because they’re fantastic, proven performers who also count towards the home grown quota. Maybe I have too much time on my hands but I can’t help but feel there’s at least a little logic to the theory above.
Kevin (I’ll probably just skip the comments section if this makes it to the mailbox), Nottingham


Something is rotten in the state of UEFA
Now that the euphoria of the new, capacity stadia, premier league season is over (well for Arsenal fans anyway) I wanted to see what the thought last were on the UEFA €6B bail out proposal.

The 12 clubs that entertained the idea of the Super League were slapped down by all and sundry as being evil, money grubbing and, most of all, destroying the fabric of football itself.

The rest of football wouldn’t be able to compete should they be allow to hoover up all the funds being thrown at them. It would make the game uncompetitive. Etc. Of course, other than Barca making a pigs breakfast of their budget and Arsenal, well, being Arsenal, it really has been business as usual for most of the teams.

However, UEFA’s plan will have a seriously negative impact on football as a whole, especially in the ‘smaller’ markets.

It’s clear that the incremental funds from participating in any of the UEFA organized European club competitions gives teams over the rest of the their local, country league in the smaller markets. A form of financial coping. It’s one of the reasons we see clubs win their local league over and over again during the 2000s and constantly in the qualifying stages for CL and Europa league and sometimes getting into those competitions proper.

The €6B bailout is not targeted at clubs from the bigger leagues, or for clubs in general, but teams who compete in the UEFA competitions. So that means that clubs that can’t quite make it up to the UEFA level, have been struggling during COVID, now find the team or teams who constantly get into UEFA competitions will have a leg up on them – almost guaranteeing future competition entry.

In fact, it’s a bit circular, in that UEFA uses the future likelihood of being in a UEFA competition to determine any bail out funds as they will be deducted from future possible UEFA earnings – which are virtually guaranteed by the bail out funds.

UEFA will be making those country leagues far less competitive than they already are. It may not be detrimental or impactful for the top 5 (or 6) leagues but will definitely impact the rest.

I don’t blame UEFA for proposing the drastic action against the 12, although wondered what legal bounds they had for it – showed up by recent court defeats – because we all thought it was for the betterment of the game. Plus they are somewhat stuck between a rock and hard place – between ‘premier’ leagues with powerful club sides and FIFA.

But now? Huge whiff of hypocrisy.
Paul McDevitt


Offside ain’t objective
In response to Ved Sen, your basic premise that offside is an objective decision is not correct. At least not yet, based on the tech available.

When you compare Tennis or Cricket to Football, you have to compare them only in terms of hawkeye (goal-line tech). Has the ball crossed the line? Yes or No? Even if it is 1 mm on the line, the Goal line tech will deem it a non goal. It is quite objective and most of us don’t complain* about that. However, most of the rest is subjective. Even the most unbiased fans watching a neutral game will have different views as to why a penalty or foul should or should not have been given.

But then there is offside. It is masquerading as an objective part of the game when in essence it is subjective:

1. How do you deem what is the exact moment that the pass happened? How do you even measure that? You have to manually stop the frame somewhere right? So based on the frames per second limitation of the camera, and the need to stop the frame manually, this itself becomes a major subjective part which everyone seems to overlook when drawing fine margins.

2. Secondly, even 1 mm is arbitrary. You can even go down to half an mm, even pixels? Because that’s what you would have to do in Football. In Tennis, there’s only two elements: the ball and the line; and in cricket, it is the ball and the stumps. But in Football, there is no line that already exists for offside. You have to again manually draw the line based on where you see the last pixels of a shirt sleeve, or an armpit, or a toe. And this again, is limited due to the technology at hand currently.

This in effect, makes the offside decision a grey area. And you know what is the best way to deal with that? Introduce a grey area of your own: thicker lines.
Nikhil, LFC, Chicago (*Did I complain about the 11 mm non-goal against Man City in Jan 2019 that was the difference between 2nd place and an invincible title (and double) winning season? I guess we’ll never know ;))

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