Mails: Is Ander Herrera finished at Man United?

Date published: Friday 8th September 2017 9:25

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Looking bleak for Herrera
Last year, while United were going through one of their various purple patches, I had a mail published regarding Herrera and Pogba and some other first 11 members who were not pulling weight and needed to improve or be moved on. Pogba needed time to settle, but I stated that Herrera needed to pull his socks up. This comment was not well received by some readers, and I could see why, he is a little favourite of mine too and put it some great performances, but I still didn’t think he was the right person for a two-man midfield with Pogba.

Herrera was originally bought as a No.10. He did quite well, was good for the odd goal and was quite a decent high defensive line player for an attacker. However, he is not the calibre of Mata, Rashford, Martial or Mkhitaryan, close, but not quite. He is also not a defensive midfielder, not a purist, not enough to cover a marauding Pogba like Matic can. So where does he fit in Jose’s puzzle? He doesn’t!

I knew this would be his problem. Herrera was a stand-out in a team under performing, a team of players giving 9/10 one week, then 4/10 the next. Herrera was putting in 6, 7, 8/10 every week, so he stood out, but it was painfully obvious he could not be in a midfield two with Pogba. One of his best games was in a three-man midfield, with Fellaini helping with defensive duties. Unless United play a 4-3-3, Herrera is finished at Utd. He might partner someone in the odd 4-2-3-1 game, will definitely play in the odd 4-3-3 we play in cups or against lesser teams, but if United persevere with 4-2-3-1, and it looks like they will, poor old Ander is going to be getting many splinters in that arse of his.

A jack of all midfield trades, but an expert at none, and we know Jose likes his specialists. If he is happy to play 25 games a season, wonderful., but he won’t. For this reason, I think Mr.Herrera will be moving on in the summer, which will be a very sad day indeed. I do think Pogba, Herrera and Matic would rival anything Real, Barca, PSG or Bayern could put out. Would love to see this team play:

De Gea – Shaw, Bailly, Rojo, Valencia – Matic, Herrera, Pogba – Martial, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku.

Rowan, Red Devil Dub


Benitez v Klopp
Thanks very much Shidaan (South Africa), brilliant question and that is my morning’s work over.

Benitez has my heart, I’m not ashamed to admit it.  The final in Istanbul, the cup win over West Ham, the spanking of the Mancs on their turf and the fact that whenever we played you always felt scoring one goal was enough to win, that man will always have my respect (not to mention his continued support of the JFT96 campaign).

I understand why Shidaan would say Benitez’s team would win but, we struggled against Arsenal quite a bit in his tenure, with players like Henry, Arshavin and others proving elusive to our defence with their clever movement and speed.  Klopp’s Liverpool front line have speed and clever movement in abundance and maybe if Klopp’s Liverpool got an early goal, they would run riot?  I doubt it, Benitez’s side were never truly thumped (in my memory, please correct me if I am wrong) as our defensive shape under him was a thing of defensive beauty (Arsenal aside).  Also I believe that Benitez’s midfield would have toyed with Klopp’s. Henderson, Can and Gini (or Coutinho) vs Xabi Alonso and Hamman/Mascherano, that’s not even a fair fight even though Alonso and Didi/Masch would be outnumbered.

In defence is where I believe the biggest gulf is between these teams. Reina, Hyypia, Agger, Arbeloa/Finnan, Riise vs Mane, Salah and Firmino, then Mignolet, Matip, Lovren (Vidic in Torres’ eyes), Trent and Milner/Robinson vs Torres, Gerrard and Kuyt.  I can’t see Klopp’s side not conceding and we have seen games where Klopp’s front line has failed to break down a stern defence with Mane and Firmino getting frustrated.

Then we have the mentality of the team and the manager’s ability to change a game.  I hope that I am wrong but I am not sure Klopp has what it takes to change a game mid game if things aren’t going his team’s way.  I also think that mentally the players need a little while to get conceding a goal out of their head, more noticeable in the beginning of Klopp’s tenure to now.  Benitez’s sides were mentally strong and Rafa didn’t look the ‘never mind we can try again next week, come here give me a hug’ type of manager.  You cocked up and you are out of the side. For a while.

I think we would need to see how Klopp’s Liverpool stand at the end of this season after a campaign involving Europe, the league and cups to truly compare the two sides but, the side that Benitez took to second in the league vs the side that trounced Arsenal 4-0 I think would end 2-0 to Benitez – Kuyt with the first, Stevie G with the second just as they think they are getting themselves back in the game.
Peter, LFC, North London


…In response to Shidaan, I would have to go for Benitez’s team of 08/09. So much more solid defensively as well as having Gerrard, Torres and Alosno. Klopp’s current side doesn’t bost one player as good as those 3. It was nice knowing that if you go 1-0 up the chances are you’d get a win as was the case with the ’09 side while Klopp’s team, while exciting to watch, are often unconvincing when trying to see out a game.
John S


…The best Benitez side would beat Klopp’s Liverpool handily.

In their prime they were winning in Barcelona, thrashing Real Madrid and humbling Man United at Old Trafford. They were a rock solid defensive unit deadly on the break…this Klopp side regularly struggle to break down defensive sides…if Liverpool’s defence struggles when isolated against counter-attacks by the likes of Burnley and Southampton, then they’re going to be eviscerated by Torres and Gerrard in their best years.
Si, Amazingstoke


Chequebook battles
I’d like to combine two topics from recent mailboxes; chequebook management and who’s team was best.

In a time-travel face off, which of Jose’s teams would win? Chelsea 04/05 or Man United 17/18?

The team of Robben, Drogba, Cech, Makelele, Lampard, Terry etc against Pogba, Lukaku, De Gea and Matic.

Personally, I’d lean towards the Chelsea side – even though it didn’t take him three windows to assemble it – as it was one of the most effective sides I’ve watched. What are the mailboxes thoughts?
Lee (LFC)


Footballers as smells
Since I was small, I’ve had smells attach themselves to photos whenever I’ve looked at them.

This lunchtime, I went down the sidebar of the Daily Mail online website. These were the results.

Lenoid Slutsky = Peppercorn

Eden Hazard = Cherry

Davide Zappacosta = Grass

David Sullivan = Envelope Adhesive

John Terry = Toilet Duck or Calpol (this was confusing)
Alexis Sanchez = Beef

Neymar = Cupboard

Ronald De Boer = Fabric Softener

Arsene Wenger = Wood

Simon Mignolet = Mint

Ruud Gullit = Paper Mache

Nothing for Philipe Coutinho and although not a footballer, a distubring “orangey” smell for Manu Tuilagi.


Adding a Y
I’m not at all sure where Alex (love adding a y to get your football nickname) Ayr is coming from in this morning’s Mailbox because he can only be talking about Giggs in his brief, one sentence mail. Or Giggsy as Alex seems to be so excited about calling him.

But, for goodness sake, Alex, Giggs became Giggsy years back so why are you even mentioning it now? Or have I completely missed the point?

Were you excited about the addition of a y to Scholes’ name, even though he’s been known as Scholesy (or Scholesey) for years. And, I have to ask the question, do you get even more thrilled with the addition of an o, as in Keano?

So what about Baillyy or even Baillyo? Either works for me, how about you? Or maybe Rojoo? Or, to be particularly sillyo, maybe even De Geay or De Geao? (That last bit sounds like that Banana song. You know the one,” Day Oh. Dayayayayoh. Daylight come …”etc.

I honestly don’t understand the bit you put in the bracketsyo.
Jonesey, Melbourne


Palace are f***ed
Daniel Storey’s article about Crystal Palace was well-written, but could have easily been summed up with three words: Palace are f###ed.

While there is nothing etched in stone to say that teams have to play with the same style for their entire existence, it is worth pointing out that by wanting to change Palace’s tactics, Steve Parish is attempting to go against not just the Tony Pulis-Sam Allardyce tenures, but probably half a century or more. We’re not self-mythologising enough to call it “the Palace way”, but the team has a tradition of direct football, big centre-forwards and tricky attackers. This was certainly true of Terry Venables’ “team of the 80s”, who Parish would have watched as a youngster, it was true of my first Palace team, Steve Coppell’s early 1990s side, and it was the way that the Eagles won promotion last time.

While I wrote the other day that Parish is in danger of seeming out of his depth, but only because he is in the public eye; the American investors have been incredibly quiet through all this. One thing to remember is that their ice hockey team, the New Jersey Devils, has been rubbish for some time. During their ownership (five seasons), the Devils have not made the playoffs at all. They lost their captain, Zach Parise, to free agency, and didn’t replace him adequately. They got in trouble for attempting to beat the salary cap system with a 15-year contract offer for Ilya Kovalchuk that offered him big money for three years and then a steady decrease until he would be on about $20 in his final year (aged 41). Kovalchuk lasted one season with the Devils before “retiring” and then turning up in Russia. Fittingly, New Jersey’s coach for the first three seasons was called DeBoer.

Anyway, the announcement of their investment in Palace was greeted with a general sense of not being in Kansas anymore, but it also coincided with the ar$e falling out of the team’s form (also linked to injuries for James McArthur and Yannick Bolasie). They brought a film crew over to make a documentary, and it was clearly a distraction. I speculated at the time that Alan Pardew was managing like a man convinced he was going to be sacked imminently regardless of form, and so wasn’t bothered about arresting the team’s downward spiral. Parish’s comments at the start of last season, also about changing the playing style, now look like an attempt to pander to the Americans, and potential fellow investors, by offering a more aesthetically-pleasing “brand” (just did a bit of sick in my mouth) of football. This didn’t work, because the players couldn’t adapt to it, and in appointing Sam Allardyce, Parish used the phrase “turning the dial back the other way”. Back, if you will, to the traditional style of football that has served the club for better or worse for most of its history.

Allardyce deciding to leave was unfortunate. Although a safety-first team, it’s not fair to say they weren’t entertaining – other than fans of the Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool, didn’t people enjoy watching the Eagles do those teams over? However, it did give Parish the opportunity to appoint – if not fully back – a manager who brought with him a style of play the chairman dreamed of seeing his beloved team play.

We’re now in a situation where reputable journalists are reporting that Frank de Boer will be dismissed if his team fail to win against Burnley on Saturday. Either it’s going to end badly or, like when Pardew rallied his side to beat Southampton last season, it’ll be a reprieve for a manager who will ultimately still be given the boot.
Ed Quoththeraven


And West Ham are in a mess too
It’s a story that has gained some traffic, but as a long-suffering West Ham fan I am aghast that the ego of David Sullivan is once again dragging our already poor reputation further into the gutter.

For whatever reasons, West Ham never signed William Carvalho. The cynic in me thinks it is because the cheapness of our board would never pay £40m for a player. They work on a principle of who they can sign, not what we need but it is what it is. Regardless, as soon as Sporting commented on the deal, David Sullivan Junior immediately went on Twitter to state we would be suing Sporting, and this was followed by the inevitable war of words which will continue to provide an embarrassing spectacle that nobody at the club seems to care about.

Transfers break down and, as with Van Dijk to Liverpool, angry words are often exhanged. But it is a measure of David Sullivan’s ego that he feels he can be justified in somehow getting the emails in front of Sky Sports. And what emails. Grammatically awful and written in pure spiv-speak as Sullivan warns Sporting that the £24m offer (£16m less than the player’s widely known release clause) is a take it or leave it deal as they have a player lined up to ‘borrow’ from PSG…

As if this season has not already started badly enough, Sullivan feels the need to inflate his own ego – and once again at the detriment to the club’s standing. Here is a man who desperately wants to be hailed as the saviour of West Ham. But with every misguided outburst is doing the opposite.

I am ashamed to be a West Ham fan right now. Not because of our gutless performances, nor that we are second-rate tenants in the football equivalent of a rented room in a house share where we cannot put anything up to make it ‘ours’. It all lies with the Sullivan family. As football becomes a bigger money machine, West Ham are saddled with Del Boy at the helm; all grubby deals and front. They are a relic of a bygone era, but one that refuses to go away with so much money kicking around.

Yours despairingly,
Barnet Steve

I mispronounce you…

In response to Okudo, MUFC,

I also find this infuriating, particularly the José example as my wife is Portuguese and he is one of the most (in)famous individuals in the sport. Having previously lived abroad for several years in Brussels, I was surrounded by football lovers of different nationalities and naturally started pronouncing players’ names as they should be in their native tongue. Cath-orla and Ath-pilly-kweta being particularly satisfying to say.

Now I’m back in good old Blighty, I’m resisting the very British urge to revert to the incorrect pronunciations to avoid being seen as a snobbish pseudo-cosmopolitan keener. One I’ve given up the battle on is how the French pronounce Morgan Shneeder-lan as this provokes confused outrage whenever it is deployed and has nearly ended friendships.

However, I would add that this ineloquent mangling (Isn’t he a centre back for Man City?) of names is not specific to UK commentators. Having watched Champions League football on TV in Belgium I’ve heard references to Frank Lamp-hurt and Steven Guerre-hart. I’m sure there are many more international examples of these little linguistic lumps in football’s great melting pot. Still annoying, though.


Pronunciation? We’re English!
I’m assuming Okudo thinks Cazorla should be pronounced Cathorla. Sorry, it’s an English country and you don’t start to adopt accents from elsewhere. Do you say Brazil or Brasil? Italy or Italia? It’s Barcelona and I’m not putting on a lisp to please you and sound like a pretentious mong at the same time.

How is it possible to mispronounce Kante and Drogba anyway?
Adam Corbett


Fat Sam fact check
With a natural revulsion to anything that comes out of Sam Allardici’s face-hole, and too much time on my hands at work, I read Mediawatch’s destruction of his claim that “The Premier League is generally won – certainly over the last ten, 15 years – by the team with the best defensive record” with particular interest.

Mediawatch dismantled the claim by saying that only once in the last five years has that been the case. Mediawatch has trained me to look out for inaccurate comparisons to suit a narrative. So I extrapolated that over the last 10 and 15 years to check if Sam might have had a point over the longer period. The answer is…

No. The lesson is; Always trust Mediawatch.

Indeed, over the past 15 years, the team with the best defence has won the league just seven times. But interestingly (admittedly playing fast and loose with the term), if you look at how those seven cases break down: from 2002/03 – 2008/09, it was true 6/7 times. But from 2009/10 – 2016/17 it was true just 1/8 times.

Evidence that Sam lives in the past (presumably in a dark cave) – not new news. But a clear trend of how the game has moved on.

If only Arsene showed an inclination to do the same.
Chris, AFC, (Everything’s fine..just fine)

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