Woodward’s been prepping Man Utd for European PL all along…

Date published: Friday 23rd October 2020 9:23

Ed Woodward Man Utd

Keep your mails coming to theeditor@football365.com…


Man Utd: European Premier League champions 2024

Madrid, Barca, Bayern, Juve, PSG – all major teams that United will have to face every week. And we will beat them all. You know why? Because we’ll be Underdogs, in each and every match.
We all (incl. F365) already know Ole’s United works best when they are underdogs, when they don’t dominate possession and when they have to counterattack. It’s why we have beaten a lot of big teams since Ole, but always struggle when we have to create against Burnley, Brighton, Spurs and the others (I mean no disrespect). Now, guess which teams won’t be in the super league! We’ll have a field day against Mbappe, Messi, Ronaldo, everyone of them.

And then you add in the fact that we have all this young talent of Greenwood, Henderson, Pellestri, Diallo, Tuanzebe which will mature just in time for the super league formation. With a manager who literally only knows how to win against those kinds of teams. We’ll dominate that league with kids just like we did the Premier League in the 90s. With a young title winning manager from a small league just like we did in the 90s. It’s all falling into place, and Woodward is the architect. You are all worrying about winning this league while he is truly focused on the ‘Big Picture’.

Gaurav, MUFC (Champions of EPL 2024 …. European Premier League that is)


Phil Jones, star man

I’ve just finished laughing at your Discarded XI – not the team itself, which was fine, but the hilarious strap line across the top that said ‘Mesut Ozil and Phil Jones are the star names’. Now Ozil I’ll give you, he’s won 92 caps for Germany and achieved masses in the game. But Phil Jones? His next season where he starts 30 PL games will be his first, and at no point has he ever been in the top 20 players in the league in his position. I think you meant ‘plays for Man United’. If you want a second star, Danny Rose was named to his 2nd straight PL team of the season only 3 years ago and is still just 30.

Thanks for the laugh though
Phil, London




Bored of waiting

Having read your One Per Club: Irreplaceables article, my mind started to wander and I thought it’d be good to get the Mailbox’s take on a player from each club who we’re bored of waiting for to come good.

From my club, West Ham, it’d be Ryan Fredericks. He always appears useful and basically competent whenever he plays but seems to have small irritating injuries curtailing any extended run in the team and he was ousted immediately by Vlad Coufal and faces competition for the bench from young Ben Johnson and Harrison Ashby (and Jeremy Ngakia before them). I was always hoping he’d be our right-sided Cresswell who has been almost ever present at LB since he joined, fixing a long-standing weak spot in the squad.

Others I can think of off the top of my head for other clubs would be Gabriel Jesus at City…maybe Gomez or Keita at Liverpool? I’m probably very wide of the mark but would welcome the Mailbox and/or Editor’s opinions on this.
Sam In Stockwell


Real bad

So I had to comment on Madrid’s shocking loss to a Shakthar second string. I’ve honestly never seen such porous defending in all my life. Even Maguire wrestling his own player off the ball to gift Son a goal doesn’t come close.

So I implore anyone who hasn’t seen the first half highlights to check them out. Just before Shakthar score their first goal they had a chance on the break. Nothing disgraceful about that until you see the action. A simple ball down the middle for a free run on goal. How you ask? Both centre backs are 5/10 feet inside the opposition half while the full backs are in their positions on the flanks in their own half. It’s fucking laughable.

But that’s not the worst part. For the 3rd goal watch as the ball is slipped up to the striker. Watch the midfielder burst through to hopefully receive a knock back and then just watch Number 3’s reaction. Number 3 is Militão btw. Apparently he’s a professional footballer. I swear to god I would have hailed him off straight after that action. I would have personally gone on and physically dragged him off the pitch and he would NEVER play again. Instead Zidane leaves him on and that calamitous player who once was good Marcelo. Instead Zidane scapegoats others and picks on them. Zidane needs to go. The team is old and he just has no clue. I know he won the CL three times but this sort of stuff happening isn’t a one off. I loved Zidane as a player. He was my idol but sadly he’s not up to management. Time to go my son
Alex (Liverpool & Madrid fanatic)


Pickford’s long game

In the recent spirit of making comparisons that seem relevant but are actually not… I would like to ask, just as refereeing mistakes level out over the course of a season or a couple of seasons; do Jordan Pickford mistakes also level out in the long run? Seem to remember him completely mistiming and messing up against VVD in 2018 but that time the ball ended up in the back of the net off Origi’s head in the 95th minute. Jordan giveth and Jordan taketh away.
James EFC


Retrospective action

Even as a Liverpool fan I’ve found some of the reaction to the Van Dijk injury has bordered on hysteria. Frankly I mark the improvement in our defence as much from the time Moreno stopped being played at left back as I do from Van Dijk’s introduction to the team (as good as he undoubtedly is).

I do have one question, though. Why is the rule against retrospective action for fouls the referee has seen still in place? Surely the purpose of this rule was to not undermine the referee by overruling them after the fact…

Now that we have VAR that is going to happen either way, and in real time rather than after the match. By the logic of that rule this is much more undermining of the official’s authority as they still have a match to referee having been proven to have made the wrong call once.

This rule is now completely redundant and should be removed so that appropriate punishment can be dished out for incidents (a three match ban; not hung, drawn, and quartered).
David, Wexford


ABUism, stereotyping, and other biases.

A quick note to Northernsoul (and to F365) – nobody actually believes that F365 is anti any club. Certainly not United. However, every writer has their own preferences and dislikes, which occasionally comes through. That isn’t really the point though. The anti-club bias is like really our toy sword that we use for our entirely-for-fun shadow fencing. Because otherwise this would be a very boring and all-too-serious mailbox.
Also an apology to David from Brighton. Yes, stereotyping is always bad. But to suggest that the 3-2 game with the 5 shots on the goal-frame is how Brighton normally play is stretching the truth a bit, isn’t it? I certainly remember a 3-0 scoreline from June this year where Brighton had less than 40% possession and 2 shots on target (yes, I went back and checked the numbers).
This is also a good time to point out an interesting anomaly – as expected Tuchel pointed to United being a good ‘counter-attacking team’. This as we know is the general narrative around United. But if you look at both of United’s goals in Paris, neither were counter-attacking goals. For the first, when Luke Shaw passes to Martial, there are 6 united players ahead of the ball with another couple running upfield. For the second goal, there are at least 5 United players in and around the PSG box. Neither is a breakaway counterattacking move. But as long as opposition coaches play us as though they believe we can only counterattack, I’m guessing Solskjaer is only too happy to spring the occasional surprise.
Lastly a note to F365 Ed – you contend that United should not consider themselves Underdogs against Seville. I would like to quote the F365 Mediawatch column which said last week: “The Sun seem conflicted as to whether Chelsea drawing at home to Europa League champions Sevilla, who held Barcelona at the Nou Camp earlier this month, beat Wolves, Manchester United and Inter Milan in Europe last season and drew twice with eventual finalists Liverpool in 2017, is a good result or not. Spoiler: it was.” It’s great when you answer your own arguments 🙂
Ved Sen, MUFC (Ole, please don’t spoil it by picking Pogba to start against Chelsea)

Gerrard’s achievement

I quite like the way Stevie G is solidly showing himself to be a good manager – for SPLphobes, his job at Rangers is hugely tougher than Ole’s at Man U or Frank’s at Chelsea – with his surprisingly excellent results in Europe and domination of Old Firm derbies.

If Ole or Frank fail, onto next manager, no big drama (they’re club heroes & tried their best!) if someone else wins the league this year.

If Gerrard fails then Celtic set new record for consecutive SPL wins. Not to mention Rangers have been on brink of a new bankruptcy for his entire tenure, while Celtic have nearly a decade of dominance and comparative riches to call on.

Question for the mailbox:

What would make you respect Gerrard’s time in Scotland the most?

– Wins SPL (stops Celtic winning 10-in-a-Row)
– Rangers reach semi-finals of Europa League for first time since 2008

P.S. 2nd goal scored by Rangers last night was arguably GOAT own half goal
Calum, Scotland



Moneyball works in baseball because it’s a team game that can be broken down into a series on individual based battles. Batsman against pitcher or batsman against fielder. It’s a binary sport. You either win your individual battle or you don’t. If you miss with your swing, there isn’t another teammate standing behind you to hit it for you. Football is completely different and doesn’t have those individual battles very often. Funnily enough, one of those areas where it does actually work is throw-ins. Dave Challinor at Tranmere and Rory Delap were effectively moneyball players and the liverpool approach to having a throw-in coach would be comparable.
Pete, from Guildford.


Reed the room

Tom Reed says that “These not-so-super clubs have become brands rather than sporting clubs of participation, swamped with faceless fans from who knows where, milling around club shops like electronics fanatics in the Apple store.”

I’m sorry, but “faceless fans from who knows where”? That sounds like good old fashion xenophobia to me (I have a face last time I check). Which last I check is the type of thing F365 abhors – and frequently criticized other mainstream outlets for.

I certainly don’t appreciate being labeled as a “fanatic”, when neing passionate about football is something all fans do, big “plastic” or small grassroots community based. Those diehard Apple enthusiast you hate? They have quite a lot of passion and loyalty for their team (sometimes even when they’re ****** by them, just like clubs) so using it as a contrast of a passionate football fan is weird.

I’m not saying those fans are the same those are are from the local community but to stereotype them as negative is just absurd. Some of those fans save for years to make a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to their clubs, or wake up odd hours to watch their clubs play and yes some of them also inherit their allegences from generation to generation too (I did from my dad). We live in a world where communication outreach has reach far and wide and the world is more integrated – and will become more so after COVID. Hell I read this British website everyday for ten years.

I get it, Tom Reed hate big clubs since they are far removed from the grassroots community bases and he doesn’t like the commercialization part. That’s fine, it is not an unreasonable opinion but if he can express it without sounding sounding like nationalist, anti-europe/international xenophobe, that would be nice. You can still make your points about how the big clubs are bad for local English football down the pyramid without being demeaning to other groups of people. You are a writer for F365, not a tabloid.
Yaru, Malaysia


Touchy subject

Normally I wouldn’t get involved in a discussion like this but it’s starting to get on my nerves a bit so here goes.

I have been refereeing since I was 16. Kids, men and women’s football, plus some 5 a side here and there. It paid my way through uni and gave me a decent workout. Never was it worth the money but that’s another matter. Throughout those years I’ve had to face a lot of stick, usually verbal. I’ve been called every name under the sun. I’ve had full grown adults both players and spectators waiting for me in dark car parks after games, parents running on to the pitch to square up to me and all other manner of bullshit. Two incidents stand out, however.

Once a trio of blokes smashed my colleagues legs to bits after a 5 a side tournament in a rough area. I was fortunate enough to be 5 minutes behind him as I went to the toilet and walked outside to find the poor guy being tended to by leisure centre staff. Another time a female player grabbed me, at the time just turned 18, by the balls and squeezed hard. It was at the end of the match and I just froze and buckled under the pain. I could barely walk to the car for a lift home. I reported both incidents to my bosses but never got any kind of response.

Those two anecdotes in particular changed my approach to the job and life in general quite a bit. The first really scared me as a teenager, making me realise I wasn’t invincible and that I wasn’t immune to a beating just because I was young. The second, exacerbated by the laughter with which my tale of humiliation was met at the time, made me much more reactive to physical provocation; I don’t do the job anymore because I know if someone shoved me, I would potentially see red and make things much worse for everyone involved.

My point in all this is that officials don’t get protection at grassroots levels since there isn’t anyone else around to protect them. However, stuff still happens even at the higher levels and shouldn’t be tolerated. In my eyes Aguero should have been carded or sent off for putting his hands on an official, those are the rules and we see them enforced… sometimes. Though this does not excuse such behaviour however, let’s not pretend that a bunch of adrenaline pumped superstars with nigh unimaginable pressure on their shoulders every single day are going to be paragons of virtue. Billions are on the line here and there’s a huge difference between touching someone and properly going for them.

Now after all of that I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the Aguero/Massey incident has been overblown and I feel that Massey is receiving more media attention than we might expect because she is a woman. In my opinion there wouldn’t be politicians making statements about this incident if Massey was a man. So yes, there is sexism at play here, except it’s coming from all the third parties who are patronisingly trying to fight her corner as if she somehow can’t perceive her own reality. Anyone who has done the job has had someone put there arm around them, with the intention to intimidate or otherwise, both male and female. Yes I know it’s not always that easy and perhaps Massey does in fact feel that she can’t call out Aguero for fear of retribution but any more nuance than what I’ve offered is going to have to be typed up in yet another long mail.
‘Insert fake name here’ the ex-ref


…Simon, just because someone doesn’t agree with you they’re automatically a world class tool?

Sh*t, call me whatever card suite you want.

You know how its news every-time a woman becomes the first ref of a competition or specific game etc.? Do you have a problem with that? Honestly I ask cuz I do.

The way I see it, the women who officiate these matches have done it before, it’s not their first day officiating games with men, women, children who knows. They’re also chosen for a reason, most likely similar reasons as the men, ala being capable of handling the pressure of the occasion, capable of handling the players and the games around them, and of course being able to make the correct decisions.

What this leads me to believe is that the people chosen to officiate the matches are professionals.

So for instance Lahoz, a wonderful ref, doesn’t really like to be touched or yelled at or talked at in general from what I’ve seen (the little of it tbf) of him. He deals with the event the way he decides to, be it a stern word, a caution, a card or telling the players to get his f*cking hands off.

The way I see it, Massey-Ellis dealt with the situation the way she felt appropriate. She could have thrown her hands up and done what a certain flamboyant ref does most games in the Prem. She didn’t, she either said to or physically removed Aguero’s hand and went to continue her job.

If she felt like she can’t speak out about it, that is unfortunate. I wish that it isn’t the case and I’ve written in about how much i hate social media and I blame that for a lot of the stagnation of just basic human evolution in sports (fanbases mostly).

But I digress. My point is, she didn’t make a big deal of it because I’m sure it wasn’t the first time someone touched her, just like its not the first time a ref was touched in general. She dealt with it. Most likely the same way she would deal with a female player touching her maybe? Or how someone would deal with an internet random calling them a world class tool.

But my issue is with people who want to virtue signal and make it about an issue. Your girlfriend has a problem with what she saw, evidently enough of one for you to write in and undoubtedly talk to her about how much of an asshole the guy who disagrees with you is. The writer you quote had an issue with it specifically because it was a woman. The support on twitter that pours in for her could be from other people who want to seem to be good people on social media and most likely don’t watch footy (not because women don’t watch soccer but because your source being twitter means f*ckall).

Again, a woman professional who dealt with the situation the way she thought was best. Because it’s her job and I trust in her abilities to do her job the way she sees fit.

If you have an issue with refs being touched, thats your issue. It should not be that a woman was touched with what YOU perceive to be sexist disrespect. You should write in to PGMOL and petition them to change rules so ref can’t be touched. (Period). You touch a ref, red card. No virtue signaling, no issue. Right?
N.V.M. (Cant wait to be “quoted” and made into a sexist misogynist because I don’t agree with you!)



Will Chelsea fall into Manchester United’s trap again at Old Trafford? And is Virgil van Dijk really so big a loss for Liverpool as has been made out? Winty and Mark dissect what is sure to be a Big Weekend.

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