Mails: Is Van Gaal trying to get the heave-ho?

Date published: Wednesday 17th February 2016 3:41

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Is Van Gaal trying to get sacked?
Something came to me today as I read through the United squad for the Europa League…hear me out…I am seriously starting to think this Dutch Ars**ole is trying to get fired on purpose. He is probably sick and tired of the press and the fans constantly on his back and cannot be bothered to work another year. if he gets sacked he gets a nice pay off and retires a year early, who wouldn’t want that?

The more I think about it the more it makes sense, why else would he take a squad full of youngsters to play in a game which is probably our last chance of getting top four?

They might be Danish and they may be considered ‘minnows’ but they are champions for a reason, they must know how to play football, which is more than can be said about us this season and they will not exactly be quaking in their boots looking at our current form and our place in the league. I am sure they have watched many United games in the last two months since the draw was made and we have been quite frankly terrible. They will be fired up for this and they have already knocked out Southampton this season.

I am seriously worried!!!

If I have to watch another season of no Champions League I will be mightily pis*ed off with this club and how it is letting two men tear it apart.
Phil MUFC (call me entitled I don’t give a rat’s ass) Salford


Chelsea can challenge next season under Hiddink
In case anyone didn’t know, Chelsea played, quite well, last night in a Champions League game and the talk in the mailbox was still about Arsenal and Leicester and was or wasn’t it a foul. This kind of analysis is like when you see players argue with a ref after he’s given a contentious penalty. He won’t change his mind, the foul/penalty did or didn’t happen, so shut up, get over it and look forward to the next game when a decision like that might go in your favour.

I wanted to add my conclusions from what was a very disciplined and intriguing Chelsea performance. As Matt Stead wrote about in his piece on the game, it started very much like a Chelsea of old performance except for one main thing. Confidence. You could see confidence in the defence and midfield, Willian tidying up and producing little flicks to evade Ibrahimovic who was chasing him down. Pedro chesting the ball to control it away from Maxwell in a left-back position, even our resident passenger Eden Hazard showboated with some nice tricks and dribbling to evade the PSG midfield. It’s this kind of confidence of play and belief in ability that shows why Chelsea should consider themselves favourites for the return leg.

The first goal, although unfortunate, was actually poor defensive play from Mikel. If you’re going to stand in a wall, you stand tall, make yourself as big as you can and get in the way of the ball regardless of who hits it and how hard. If i was in the wall with him I would be angry as hell at the pathetic attempt to stop the ball. JT would’ve done another of his salmon swimming up-stream impressions to stop the ball, so Mikel can stick a leg out and not hide behind Costa (or whoever was next to him in the wall)

The second PSG goal was a mixture of a fresh-legged top, top striker making a great run and a midfielder with too much time on the ball to pick it out. In the first half and through most of the second the front four of Chelsea were like boys on the playground following the ball around. I noticed Costa at left-back at one stage playing an out ball to Pedro playing further forward. This was great defensive as a team, almost doing a Leicester of this season.

The Chelsea goal was fortunate, but not undeserved, we were growing into the game and dominating position with only a world-class save from Trapp keeping Costa out before the PSG goal. Cracking cross from Baba by the way. He needs more game time at left-back, that kind of width play has been missing from our game with wingers too often coming into a congested midfield. Having full-backs playing on the side of their stronger foot can only help things – see Azpi crossing for Traore’s goal vs Newcastle.

Given our performances of late, and the way some of our players have drastically improved, I would say we can aim for a Europa League spot this year, blood in the kids in the competition and realistically challenge for the title next year.

I dont believe the Simeone rumours and think Hiddink should stay. I would also love to see Jose go to UTD just so he can balls them up like he has with us.
Stefan, CFC, London
Six conclusions on PSG-Chelsea
1) Ivanovic is a much better centre-back than wing-back – when not playing out wide, his lack of pace isn’t exposed.

2) Baba Rahman isn’t half bad after all

3) John Mikel – wow… Completely at fault for losing the free-kick that led to their first, completely at fault for sheepishly sticking out a leg, turning his back to the ball, and subsequently deflecting the ball into our net. (JOHN OUT)

Then in the dying seconds of the half, finds himself some space, and hits a bullet past their keeper! (JOHN IN)

People think Frank Lampard OBE was the first Chelsea player to receive a knighthood, its goals like that which demonstrate he was actually the second after John Mikel OBI. Otherwise thought he did a fairly decent job defending our exposed back line.

4) If our out-field players hadn’t been playing so bad, Courtois would have received more attention himself for having a dismal season. He no longer signifies the immovable bus parked outside our back four, and his shot-stopping has seriously declined this season – Cavani’s late winner he won’t want to see again. Whilst I was all for allowing Cech to move across London in the summer, perhaps the decline in the lack of competition from Begovic has caused him to become complacent.

5) Costa was poor – although there’s been a huge resurgence in his form post-Mourinho, which makes you wonder ‘where were you when you were sh*t’ i.e. was he the infamous snake who refused to play under Jose, his positioning and movement was terrible last night. David Luiz, who we all know is a risk-taker and easily prone to exposure, was there for the taking last night. Instead, Costa in the dying moments of the game last night could be found by either corner flag, not making the cutting edge movements in the six-yard box when we desperately needed them. That missed header in the first half was agonising…

6) Would’ve taken 2-1 before the game, still all to play for at the Bridge, but on the passage of play to lose 2-1 late on was disappointing…it was intriguing to see PSG push for a third late on though and not sit back on their lead – perhaps they weren’t happy with a 2-1?

Also buzzing about the latest rumours regarding Simeone – his organisation, fiery personality, ‘us against the world’ ethos and track record at Atletico Madrid is something to relish – perhaps it’s not City (Guardiola) or United (Mourinho) getting the best manager in the world, but us?
Freddie Mills CFC (1-0 to us in the second leg, late Mikel winner)
And some more…
Since no-one else could be bothered…

– We didn’t play too badly.

– We didn’t play that well either.

– PSG were not as good as I expected and left themselves surprisingly exposed at the back at times. With last season’s Hazard, Costa and Fabregas we would have won the game.

– Ivanovic at CB with Baba on the left and Azpi on the right looks like a decent option. Why are we only seeing this now?

– Some are not convinced by him, but Marquinhos looks a very good player for a 21-year-old.

– It’s a shame that Cavani is basically spending his peak years waiting for Ibra to retire.

– Hiddink has been playing Oscar on the left and it just doesn’t work. Stop it Guus.

– I love Willian.

– I was happy to see Mikel score until I realised it meant that commentators and pundits would spend the rest of the evening repeatedly reminding viewers that it doesn’t happen very often.

– What has happened to David Luiz? He didn’t do anything brilliant or hilarious.

– Lavezzi to China makes me sad. By the way, why don’t we fawn over him like we do with Pirlo etc. (

– I had forgotten Pastore existed.

– Cech has been better than Courtois this season.

– If Chelsea manage to knock PSG out, will we see PSG starting to court Jose?
James Bruschini (couldn’t quite make it to 16)


The Paris match
I thought I’d bite at the carrot you guys were clearly holding in front of us (by letting us all know that you failed to receive a single email about the PSG – Chelsea game).

I’m an Arsenal fan with a long-time affinity with PSG (coupled with an affinity with the French language, Paris and French music – especially rap by S-Crew/Nekfeu), so naturally I donned my PSG casquette (cap, for the angolophones in the world) and watched what turned out to be a very accomplished performance by Les Parisiens.

Pre-match, I was worried that Chelsea were going to upset the odds and general sentiments that PSG were favourites. I suspected that perhaps the lack of comparable competition in Ligue Un would actually work as a detriment when facing cohesive, accomplished teams that can field players of international and CL quality. I was very happy to see that my niggling doubts were in vain, as PSG absolutely bombarded Chelsea in the opening stages.

Of course, Chelsea looked dangerous on the counter (as do most teams in Europe, playing for an invaluable away goal), but I feel that PSG were very good value for the win, and perhaps should have mirrored their 3-1 win from a couple of years ago at the Parc des Princes.

I don’t quite agree with Hiddink with his assessment that the tie is 50/50 going into the return leg. Chelsea must score to progress, meaning they will have to play on the front foot, with a sense of purpose and initiative. This will definitely aid PSG’s game, as I am confident in saying they will dominate the midfield if/when Chelsea open up and try to force the play. I can’t see a team with the talents of PSG leaving Stamford Bridge without registering a goal, especially against a defence as porous as Chelsea’s (and even more so if Terry plays).

Some have said that PSG should have beaten this iteration of Chelsea by a greater margin, taking into account their respective league form. Chelsea are in 12th because of their shambolic start under Jose, not because of their poor run of form as of now. They’re unbeaten in the league since December, and have been steadily amassing points. PSG did their job yesterday, and I do hope they finish it off in the garden of Eden, Stamford Bridge.



On The Champions League TV lock-out…
Your comment about nobody watching Chelsea-PSG last night persuaded me to write in.

As you can imagine, Scottish football has a difficult time raising its profile, even within Scotland itself, with TV being full of English Premier League and Chanpions League games of a far higher standard. This has been even more the case since the Celtic-Rangers games disappeared.

Even the Edinburgh Derby has been missing this season with Hibs playing in the second tier. Fortunately, however, they drew each other in the Scottish Cup. The game was a cracker, Hibs improbably coming back from 2-0 down away to their higher division rivals to force a replay.

So last night, the two met again. Winner takes all, the night-time kick-off under the floodlights guaranteed to generate a tremendous atmosphere. What better opportunity to showcase the best of the Scottish game, especially with those who don’t have BT who might be looking for a game to watch.

But no, UEFA don’t allow any domestic games to be shown at the same time as the Champions League. And if that wasn’t enough, they now spread the games over four nights so moving the game to next week wasn’t an option either.

Listening to the game on the radio, it didn’t disappoint and had everything you’d expect of a derby. Cracking atmosphere, red cards, and a cup upset too. It’s a shame no one but those in the ground got to see it.
J, Glasgow


What makes an underdog?
Having finally managed to read F365 today, Jonesey, Melbourne’s point made me wonder: What ARE the criteria for becoming a Premier League underdog?

As many have pointed out, the spreading of TV’s munificent bounty across all 20 clubs has raised the capability of historically mid-table clubs to buy ‘world-class players’. The inability of teams like Chelsea and Man City to retain their titles has opened up the slots for European competition like never before. Managerial instability means another dynasty like Fergie’s is unlikely. And for a variety of reasons, some of the older footballing super-powers like Liverpool and Man Utd are not automatically in the running for the top spot.

As Jonesey so kindly reminds us, Arsenal have not won the Premier League trophy for a fair few years now, so is it about how recently you won something, (in which case does that make us plucky little losers)? And if that’s the case, which competitions count and are Birmingham City and Middlesbrough, as recent winners of the League Cup, not considered outsiders any longer? Or is it about how much money a club has, in which case neither of Liverpool nor Tottenham (at Nos. 9 and 12 in the Deloitte Football Money League) should ever be considered underdogs for anything?
Carolyn, (championing the underdog since 1970-something) South London Gooner


Not understanding the Arsenal-Leicester fuss
Dear Ed – this is my fifth missive, surely I am getting near to the quota for a publication !!!!! Or do I need to have ‘literary’ or ‘Adonis’ in my name?!

Why can’t we just say Arsenal-Leicester was a cracking match, pretty untypical of most top four clashes recently…some controversy, plenty to talk about in the pub afterwards blah blah blah rather than peeps whinging about XYZ ?! It was a TYPICAL Prem League match you see every week when it comes to dodgy ref decisions, time wasting, diving, play acting, players in the refs face etc etc etc…and Arsenal are perennially accused of being soft, bottlers, not aggressive enough etc and yet the moment they start getting tough, aggressive, in the ref’s face etc they get slated for it…can’t have it both ways chaps.

And I see some fans (Sasank MUFC, morning mailbox, had to laugh at his ‘next year is Liverpools year comment’!) are already spouting complete tosh about if Arsenal do win the league, it’s only because XYZ are sh*te ?? So what, Arsenal have been pretty sh*te for a while when it comes to finishing the league off (since 2004!!), so Chelsea only ran away with it last year cos Arsenal, Manyoo, Spurs etc were in ‘transition’/’Disarray’ etc etc, teams are in transition/disarray ever year so I can’t see any basis for that argument!!!

Whoever wins it, wins it, simple as that. The fact is, the Prem has been a much leveller playing field this year, there is no real standout…so whoever finishes top will be deemed the most consistent and the winner, whichever way you want to denounce it, and I’m afraid it may well turn out to be the Spuds !!!
Haj (it’s raining today) AFC


Mental strength? Huh
Isn’t the Arsenal fans bleating about Leicester’s physical approach to games simply symptomatic of the team and management’s approach to every season – that mental strength that Wenger selectively talks about? “Ohh, they’re nasty, they won’t let us play are little triangles. Give Ozil and co the time they need on the ball pwease, don’t you know they are artists on the pitch, for the love of god let them paint.” And this is after a game they WON!

I fear for the game when the key talking point to an absolutely crucial game that undoubtedly has a big impact on where the title ends up is centred around players battling. Sigh.
Eugene, Northampton


Is 24 years ago really recent?
Just read the article about Nicky Butt at the Utd Academy and the quote below got me thinking…

‘Butt was part of the most famous group to have graduated from the club’s youth set-up in recent times – the famous Class of 92, which included stars like Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs.’

Two things:

1. The Brand name ‘Cass of 92’ bugs me. Neither Scholes nor Phil Neville played in the 1992 FA Youth Cup. They were in the 1993 team. Giggs did, but he was already a first-teamer at Utd with 53 appearances from 1991 – 1992. But that’s not really the point of the email.

2. Is 24 years ago ‘recent times’?

Nicky Butt made his first team debut in 1992, Scholes in 1994, Beckham in 1994, Gary Nevile in 1992, Giggs in 1991 and Phil Neville in 1994.

I suppose what I’m asking is, what constitutes recent times?

I love the thought that Blackburn recently won the PL in 1994–95, Michael Jordan recently retired from and returned to the NBA from 1993–1995, Mike Tyson recently bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997, Denmark recently won the Euros in 1992, Monica Seles was recently stabbed in 1994, Roberto Baggio recently missed that penalty in 1994 etc.

It almost makes me feel like I’m not old.

Anyone else got any wonderful recent (except not really recent at all) sporting memories to share?
Doug, 38 and half, Belfast


Paul Parker, PFM
“Here, Keysie, have you seen what Paul Parker’s said about Man Utd? He reckons Tim Sherwood would be better than Jose Mourinho.”

“He’s onto something there – Mourinho has won trophies but he is a foreign – he clearly doesn’t properly understand our game otherwise he wouldn’t have been sacked by Chelsea.”

“Yeah but should Parker being saying them things? Is he one of us?”

“Not yet, but it seems like he wants to be. Shall we have a look? He played for loads of clubs in London, but also went up north to play for Derby and Sheffield United. He won trophies with Lord Sir Fergie, and played 19 times for England. That’s perfect – he played for Wor Sir Uncle Bobby’s legends, but got dropped by Turnip. Did a bit of managing in non-league, and but hasn’t worked since he left Folkestone Invicta in 2006.”

“Where’s Invicta, Jeff? I can’t find it on the map.”

“Shut up, this isn’t the time for ice hockey jokes from 15 years ago. Anyway, since then, he’s done a bit of punditry, he’s mastered the art of the “and who the f##k asked you” opinion He’s getting there. Also, he’s quite short, so it would be nice for TC to not be the only one forced into a highchair in a restaurant. Parker would fit into a shopping trolley perfectly. The downside is that you can’t do or say anything these days without people thinking you’re like Big Ron, but having him around would be good for ‘how are we racist when we’re mates with him’ reasons.”

“Hang on, I’ll ring him…”hello, is that Paul? It’s the PFM committee here…loved the work you did on Tim Sherwood to Man Utd, can you do something for Nigel Pearson?…That’s great, fancy a drink?…Fantastic, I’ll tell Reidy to prepare something special…Cheers pal.”
The literary Ed Quoththeraven

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