Mails: Imagine if Wenger wasn’t a soft touch…

Date published: Friday 19th January 2018 2:37

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Wenger’s too nice
I just read the article on your site where Wenger explains why losing Van Persie was a bigger blow than losing Sanchez. And a small part of me felt sad for him and wondered whether that explained the mire that he and his beloved club has been stuck in for the last decade.

Fergie was always lauded for being ruthless and having no compunctions about letting a player leave – no matter how close he was to him. Just reading the words Wenger said about Van Persie makes you wonder if he takes these “betrayals” personally and whether the constant stream of such transfers – all the way back to Henry and Viera and now Sanchez – has taken its toll on him.

Ruthlessness is always lauded and is a very important part of making a great manager. It doesn’t have to be in-your-face always – I think Pep is also pretty ruthless behind doors but the likes of Fergie and Jose have displayed that in public as well. And this is where Wenger’s nice nature loses out. Much like a father watching his kids fly out of the nest, he broods over what might have been had they stayed and thereby loses the attention of the current crop of kids.

I wonder if a more ruthless manager would have taken a different stance last summer. The writing was on the wall with Sanchez, Ozil was probably undecided and Lacazette had just arrived. I wonder if dropping Sanchez for the entire period till December and publicly stating your intention to build around Ozil and Lacazette might have been the wake up call for everyone involved. That would show some ambition for the future, start sniffing around for players to buy with Sanchez’s imminent departure, and also show Sanchez that you’re serious about the club and despite the many false dawns – there just might be a real one around the corner.

This ruthlessness also permeates down to the team on the pitch but then that’s an entirely different email for another day.

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YouTube footballers
I’m not sure what age Jerry,who wrote in about Ronaldinho is,but when he starts talking about “no look passes & back heels” I’m guessing he can’t be more then 8.With all due respect,who cares about tricks or flicks like that-for god sake Jody bloody Morris got on Soccer Ams showboating segement for doing a no look pass in an SPL game between Motherwell & St. Johnstone!!

Then he states that “someone will come along & match Messis stats” which is so flippant it beggars belief.Messi at 29 has 97 CL goals,no player in the history of football had as many goals at that age(Ronaldo had 78).Ronaldinho peaked at 26,when he played Liverpool in the CL in ’07 he was pictured shirtless after the game and was seriously overweight & when he left Barca in ’08(at 28,coming into his peak)it showed that he was already going downhill.He wasn’t on the pitch the day Madrid beat Barca 4-1 in 2008 after clinching the league but that was when Pep was about to be appointed & knew he had to get rid of party boys like Ronaldinho,Deco etc & go with youth.

It takes incredible drive for Messi & Ronaldo to do what they have done over such a sustained period,they have more money then they will ever need yet compare what they have done since the age of 26 to what Ronaldinho achieved post ’06.Given the choice of watching Messi & Ronaldo do back heels,no passes & smiling non stop(seriously??)only to peak at 26 or watch what Messi does week in,week out,year in,year out,I know what I would choose.

Pogba is Ronaldinho lite,I suppose good old Jerry thinks Pogba is better then Keane or Scholes as he does tricks,flicks,backheels all with a smile…& changes his hair non stop too!!Youtube footballers have ruined the game.
Gussy, Ireland.


…Uhmmm, that is an…interesting mail Jerry (if only Neymar was a little less petulant) MUFC,

So when Messi and Ronaldo dribble you…but then suddenly they would run into an advertising board seconds later.
Excuse me, but what are you actually on about, and in what world does this happen when these players skip past defenders?

Sure, Messi and Ronaldo, and their truly absurd stats are actually just average Jerry, and since you state that we will see their like again, how come many people tend to feel that we have never seen their like before?

Specifically magical Messi, who certainly has dribbled more than his fair share of opponents, so perhaps go and check some of key his career stats, as you mention when evaluating other known mavericks of the game, and I think you will see that Messi actually scores quite often once he is done dribbling, and very, very rarely runs off the pitch and into an advertising board.
Manc in SA( there is no need to be ridiculous with comparisons just to prasie Ronaldinho, he is a legend that did amazing things with the ball, so we don’t need to compare him to anyone actually)


Keeper conundrum
I slightly admire the misplaced faith that Alex, LFC has in Mignolet and Karius to eventually gather their collective sh*t together. But these two have one and only one job – keeping the little white round thing from going in the big white rectangular thing. Looking at the stats, it is actually amazing Liverpool are anywhere near the top four. The proficiency of Liverpool’s attack is doing a ruddy good job of masking the ‘Goalkeeping’ inadequacy. I say ‘Goalkeeping’, because although the ‘Defence’ has quite rightly been criticised in recent times, the root of the problem lies with the Goalkeepers. Thankfully, I’ve come armed with some stats to prove this.

In the Premier League this season, Liverppol have faced a total of 67 shots on target. Of those 67 shots on target, they have conceded 28. Twenty. Eight. That equates to 42%. Liverpool are conceding 42% of the shots on target. To contrast this, I’ve compared those stats with Stoke, because they’ve conceded the most goals. Stoke have let in 50 goals from 127 shots on target – meaning they concede 39% of the shots on target they face. So you’re more likely to score against Liverpool with a shot on target than you are against Stoke. I didn’t do the stats for someone like Burnley, but I imagine theirs will be somewhere around 20%.

That is nowhere near good enough for a team with top four aspirations. Whilst it’s true that Liverpool have kept 9 clean sheets this season, in three of those games they didn’t even face a single shot on target. This suggests that when they’re not having a brainfart, Liverpools defence isn’t that bad against preventing shots on target. But when a shot does come towards goal, Mignolet (predominantly is the culprit here) and Karius are 42% likely to let that shot go in. Whilst Alex’s gripe with the GK coach may have some truth, the fact is that Liverpool won’t push on and start seriously challenging for the title until they have a goalkeeper that isn’t a drooling halfwit who lets in almost half the shots that come at him. There are plenty of good goalkeepers out there (Sommer, Rui Patricio, Neto, Butland, Trapp, Handanovic, Oblak, Donnarumma) that might consider an Anfield switch. I’ve got a feeling Klopp will sort it in the summer, but until then stick a broom in goal – we’d probably do better.
Lee (off Snowboarding tomorrow, going to have some serious F365 withdrawal), LFC


Arsenal’s window
Impressive mental gymnastics from this mornings contributor Daniel Schulof who in the midst of getting caught up in the hype of Arsenals incoming playing staff has chosen to overlook a number of key factors.

’50m fee plus Sanchez-wages-less-20% for Auba and Ozil-like wages to Mikhi’
And you talk about scouse economics?

‘Buying Mikhi is a meaningful upgrade on Welbeck/Walcott/Iwobi, right?’
I don’t know, is it? Whilst I would probably be inclined to agree with you, I would have to ponder his suitability to the Arsenal setup. Mikhi thrived at Dortmund playing in a spring loaded counter attack. It is no surprise that he has gone off the boil completely since moving to a team that is expected to dominate play at all times. Whatever criticism one may have of Utd, there is no question that Arsenal are #1 in the league when it comes to having the ball for long periods without actually doing anything with it. There was a period at the start of the season when some throwaway stats highlighted Mikhi’s goal/assist contribution as being far superior to Coutinho’s best ever season in relation to the same stats. By January one has moved for a near world record fee and the other has been cast aside. Perhaps time will tell if it proves a good move for both Arsenal and Mikhi, but at his age and moving to an Arsenal team that has regressed over the past 2/3 seasons to play under a manager who has begun selling star players to the leagues big teams and who has arguably overstayed his tenure by at least 3/4 years, is it a move thats going to reinvigorate him?

But we addressed a need and are likely to get better this season without getting worse in any position…
Your need was to try and save some face after embarrassingly mismanaging your two star players contracts. Taking a (talented) cast off from UTD is a risk worth taking, particularly with the aforementioned pedigree playing in a vastly different system to what you currently employ. If there is solace in the Aubameyang transfer, look at the state of disillusionment Alexis leaves the club in, as well as Arsene turning Lacazette into a shadow of his former self.

In summary I do not begrudge Arsenal or their supporters looking for some beam of positivity to latch on to. What they are doing in reality is refurnishing a derelict building.



Antonio, meet Bas
Someone needs to introduce the Chelsea scouting department to Bas Dost, currently having fun in Lisbon, is probably the best target man knocking around, is huge, and has 19 goals in 18 games in the league. He moved for £10m at the start of last season and the Portuguese league is hardly known for record breaking transfers, so I reckon you can get him for £25m.

Seems like a match made in heaven?
KC(he’d tear it up)


Crocked and contract-less
I’ve been wondering this for a while, what is the situation if a player runs down their contract to only a few months and then gets a long term injury?

Surely the club is within their rights to pull all medical help after the contract completes, which could leave the player in a fair amount of trouble. Even for millionaires the kind of medical care clubs provide would drain their finances, with no incoming cash as well.

I’m not wishing this on anyone by the way, but it is something which is going to happen sooner or later, if it hasn’t already. This could be a reason why you see a tail off in effort when contracts are being run down, players know they are taking a risk.
Dan, Camberley


Ox revisionism
Seeing a lot of comments since last weekend like Daniel Schulof this morning making Oxlade Chamberlain into something we miss. He scored against City last week. Good for him. He was dog sh*t for us for years, rarely scored, often dispossessed and never ever chased back, some of our biggest defeats featured him.

He couldn’t get in the team ahead of Walcott, Iwobi, and Ramsey on the wings, and Coquelin, Wilshere, Elneny, Ramsey (Again), Wilshere, Cazorla and Xhaka in his favoured central midfield role.

Good luck to him, looks decent when things go well, but in defeats he can often be found losing the initial ball and not chasing back to recover it.
Thom, Newport

Expensive United deals

Interesting read about the Man Utd record signings transfer fees compared to the percent of the club’s turnover. However, I remember hearing on a podcast (Magic Sponge) that Dennis Law (£155k, 1962) was actually the most expensive signing using this metric. It seems – according to a BBC article – Bryan Robson (£1.5m, 1981) was the second, weighing in at 61.4% & 56.6% of the club’s annual turnover respectively.

When you think about the silly sponsorship deals in football now – every club seems to have an official watch, tyre and drinks partner – it is amazing that Man Utd had a turnover of around £250k.
Joe, Midlands

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