Mails: Armchair management – the easiest sport of all

Date published: Wednesday 21st March 2018 9:37

It’s international fortnight, so you knwo the drill. Send mails on the weird and wonderful to…


Armchair management: The easiest sport
Alex, London Saint must have me confused with someone else – I in no way shape or form wanted Puel to remain in the Saints managers job, and was more than happy when Pellegrino was appointed (yeah look how that turned out) and only recently had a mail published describing how I thought that our fan base was fairly naïve in already whining about having Hughes come in on a temporary basis to see if he can rescue us out of the shit before a ball had been kicked.

In reflection I would suggest that the first half performance was scrappy and full of individual mistakes, the second half was better (clearly Mr Hughes had a ‘gentle’ word at half time) and we should have grabbed a couple more goals if it wasn’t for some great goalkeeping by Walton, however this would have been unfair on Wigan who, to their credit, kept pushing till the end.

Managing a Premier League, or for that matter, any league Club, must be difficult, it has to be! Trying to match the expectations of the board, the players, the fans etc. A certain percentage of fans will want you to play one way, the other % will want it done another way. The players will down tools if it goes wrong, the Chairman will issue a statement of support and trust to the media just before they bin you etc, yet every one of us thinks we could do better!

I love reading the mailbox when every fan and his cat comes on saying how ‘X’ should’ve actually play 3-5-2, with player A and player B doing the hard graft on the wings as that provides space for player C to do his thing in, or what we should is play it over the top for player D to run onto because we all know that’s his strength….

Do we? Or do we simply think we know because we believe that’s how we ‘want’ them to play? Anyone with half a brain and who has played football at any level will appreciate that trying to play to a certain ‘way’ will only ever happen if you have the players to match the tactics, and a plan B if it doesn’t work. Standing there screaming at your forward for missing another header when he’s only 5’3 just makes you look like a b*llend, not a manager.

Don’t get me wrong, I know we could all reel off names of managers past and present who look like they haven’t the first clue about setting up a team, or have more than one way of trying to get a result, but in general, most of these blokes have been there and learnt it either the hard way by starting low and learning, or by being thrown in the deep end (by luck of by choice) and being ‘gifted’ a winning team.

Managing any club is only going to get harder and harder as fans (and boards) always want instant success, especially given the money spent by ALL clubs in this current age.

I would again suggest that even though we all think we know what we should do that in fact we leave it to the blokes that have got the badges and the experience and stay firmly on the stands/seats/chairs and let them crack on.


As a United fan, it galls me to pay a compliment to any Liverpool player,

However the biggest compliment I can pay Salah is that I look forward to seeing him play for Madrid or Barcelona in 12-18 months time.


Leaks show that Man United players are unprofessional
Seriously, where are these leaks coming from re atmosphere in the Man Utd squad? How much of it is fabricated or exaggerated and how much is real? (I guess F365 doesn’t care about that. Just publishing what newspapers are saying.)

My first question was rhetorical of course. They come from players or certain players. I am guessing not Matic or De Gea or anyone else playing well.

Now coming to the question that was posed the other day, if I had to choose between players or manager, what would fans do? The enquirer went emphatically for the players. Not me. If you hire a manager and you want to keep him, then I would say definitely choose him. If the board don’t like the manager, they can just sack him.

Why let players decide who can give them an easy time? Why would we want to become Chelsea where basically, the club sacks whoever Hazard doesn’t want to be professional for?


A reasoned case for cutting losses on Mourinho
I had written an email the other day about what United need to do in the summer, based on the predictions of Ian Watson with regards to the players who may and may not leave the club. To cut a long email short, I reckoned that Blind, Shaw, Darmian, Carrick, and Zlatan would be the ones to leave, with the rest staying put. I also suggested that we would be daft enough to chuck stupid money at Fellaini to tempt him into staying. What I thought should happen was that we get rid of Smalling, Jones, Blind, Darmian, Fellaini, Carrick and Zlatan, and keep Shaw and Herrera.

However, with a few days reflection, I’m starting to re-think things a touch; I think what we should actually do as a priority is get rid of Mourinho. He’s not a bad football manager, as such, but he just doesn’t seem up for it any more. He has the demeanour of a beaten man and is taking it out on everyone and everything around him. It’s not that he’s not been successful: we won two trophies last year, we have improved our league position from last year, we still have an outside chance of the FA Cup, and he’s given plenty of chances to a few younger players.

I, like I’m sure many other United fans, do appreciate that certain aspects of the club have improved during his tenure, but it’s the manner in which he is conducting certain parts of his job that causes the problems. The poisonous relationships with his players being criticised to the media, the constant moaning about money, the repeated criticism of the fans (and subsequent refusal to discuss said criticisms with supporters groups), the overly negative tactics, the abject failure to keep pace in the league, and humiliating exits in the League Cup and Champions League are all things that make it really, really hard to support his continued presence.

I know that we were warned about this when he was appointed – though it’s not like us fans had much of a say in the matter – but it doesn’t mean that he should be above reproach. His treatment of Shaw is similar to, if less severe than the Eva Carneiro situation. Ashley Young has made comments about Shaw’s need to work hard, which may hint at a reason for the criticism from Mourinho, but what we’re seeing is less frustration from a manager who wants his player to improve, and more of a character assassination and deliberate attempt to undermine a professional in his employ. And how he has the temerity to moan about money given the amount already spent during his time is beyond me – the Sanchez, Lukaku and Pogba deals should be used as a huge stick with which to beat him in that regard.

I just think that we could be achieving at least what we are at the moment, and without many of the negative side-effects with someone else in charge. As another mailboxer said, if it’s him or the players then I think you’ve got to assume that most of the players – in many of whom we have invested a hell of a lot of money – are likely to be there longer than he will and it’s they who actually go and play the games. Moreover, it’s a lot easier to replace one guy than worry about trying to recoup your investment selling quality players on whom a massive transfer fee was spent.

There’s no argument that certain players have underwhelmed but Mourinho doesn’t really seem the type of manager to turn it round. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Pogba and Shaw aren’t responding to the criticism he’s doling out, and I’d rather see someone else try and bring out the best in them at United than elsewhere. Personally, I’d like to see us try and tempt Allegri from Juventus, but I think we will soon see who is next, because I can’t see Mourinho being in charge at the end of next season.
Ted, Manchester


Two things to help England
As it’s international friendly week I thought I’d email in about the England National team. I saw talk about who we think (or should) Southgate take with him and that’s a fine debate.

However I just have two hopes. Firstly, take players for certain positions. For example if you want to take Young as a wingback that’s fine. However, don’t take him because he can play in defence and attack. I don’t see other nations doing that and I don’t see the point. Settle on two/formations and pick players who will fit in that.

Secondly, please don’t pick players who are recovering from injury. Even Sir Harry of Kane. If he doesn’t make it back to play in Tottenham’s last two games, sorry but not this time. In particular I’m looking at Phil Jones and Jack Wilshere. We need players who are match fit.

The league season finishes on the 13th May and England don’t play a game till the 17th June. People will say that gives players extra time to recover but for me it should be used as a chance to rest players who’ve played a lot and make sure they aren’t knackered, not for oxygen tents and the such.

Otherwise, pick away and try and pick a team that will be at least fun to watch.
Bernard, MUFC


Another underappreciated Premier League XI
In response to Nik in yesterday’s mailbox there are some brilliant underappreciated gems in that mailbox, Hyypia is also in my favourite CBs.

An alternative line up could be:
GK – Brad Friedal – solid, consecutive appearance record (310), oldest player to appear in the Prem and even scored a goal for Blackburn. Bonus points for joining Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann and Brad Guzan in the bald American keepers club.

RB – Steve Finnan – Literally the forgotten man of the Istanbul team. Also had a random spell at Espanyol which bodes well in my books.

CB – Sylvain Distan – One of those players who seemed to just keep going. the man only retired a few two seasons ago. Remarkably solid and unlucky not to have a spell at a top club.

CB – Arjan De Zeuw – One of those lower/midtable CBs who gave everything. Bonus for being one of Tony Blair’s favourite players (just so random) and for now being Detective.

LB – Leighton Baines – One of the highest scoring and assisting defenders of all time and unlucky not to play for an elite club. All this was achieved despite suffering from chronic homesickness.

RM – Stelios Giannakopoulos – A name to make match reporters groan and one of the better parts of Bolton’s European team.

CM – Gilberto Silva– When everyone says Kante, Makalele or Carrick are underrated and unappreciated they forget how much this guy allowed Arsenal stars to shine.

CM – Gary McAlister – At the age of 35 won 5 trophies with Liverpool.

LM – Bolo Zenden – Played for PSV, Barca, Marseille, Chelsea, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Sunderland and started in Champions league final.

ST – Robbie Keane – Played for half the Prem, on the whole was good at every club, Ireland’s darling and bonus points for a random season at Inter (Michael Turner also nearly made it in for the same reason).

ST – Chris Sutton – The part of the SAS that people seem to forget about. Won the golden boot and also had a season where he scored 25 goals for Norwich.

Some many more players could be mentioned and this is a great walk down memory lane.
Joe H


What’s your football happy place?
The (very good) article on footballers who are out-of-contract at the end of this season mentioned Giuseppe Rossi and I was immediately transported back to when he played for that seriously entertaining Villareal side.

It set me off on a daydream about that period of time, when Aguero and Forlan played together up front for Atletico Madrid, and Freddie Kanoute played for Sevilla, Real Madrid had Robben and Sneijder, Robinho was still Robinho and hadn’t had the Captain America operation that turned him into Marcelo, and…and…yeah, so I went into my football-happy-memory-place.

Does this ever happen to anybody else? Like, seeing a name and suddenly you’re leaning back and think “I think I may have preferred football back then”. Any other team/play combos that spring to mind off the back of the mention of player you’d half forgotten about?
Stu, London


Yeah, we’re with you
Anytime I see someone use ‘Fraudiola’ in a mail, I scroll immediately down to their name and think to myself, “Eat sh*t, <name>.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA


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