Mails: Loving Van Gaal’s rant at the meeja

Date published: Thursday 24th December 2015 11:30

Fine work to keep this a busy place while you’re all slacking from work. Actually, maybe that’s the key. Send your mails to


Manchester United: History repeating
History is truly repeating itself. The legendary dynastic manager (Busby/Ferguson) retired leaving an ageing squad in the hands of an appointment based on nepotism (McGinnis/ Moyes).

After that disaster, a more accomplished name was brought in who at first achieved the bare minimum, which was then drastically overrated because it seemed so much better than the previous disaster (O’Farrel/ Van Gaal) and yet, the football never seemed satisfactory even in the midst of a few winning runs. Results caught up to performances and this individual was eventually and predictably found out.

Seeking personality, the board plumps for the most divisive, brash and egotistical candidate possible in a desperate attempt to restore the club’s “mojo” (Docherty/ Mourinho). The story continues…
-Mr. F (awaiting Alex “Sexton” McCleish and Alan “Atkinson” Pardew; we are truly screwed): MUFC


Don’t you dare have a go at the media
Just watched the LVG presser. I feel sorry for him, the media have been (are?) utter s**thouses. Now he’s going to be made out to be a grumpy old man because he showed some emotion and basically told them to f*** off. Probably what me and you would do to someone who we didn’t want to talk to.

I have faith that he’ll turn it around if given some time and a striker in Jan. Last season we had a great record against the top teams, Liverpool away being my personal favourite performance. He’s shown us a glimpse of what we can achieve, leave him be and just relax.

Also, when are F365 writing an article explaining that managers are humans and not robots, like they have written about players and how earning lots of money doesn’t make you any less human?
Chris, MUFC, Preston


Loving Van Gaal’s passion
Whoa! Say what you want about LVG but great managers are authentic. They are direct and say it like it is.

I loved the fact that the manager of Manchester United has the balls to call out the press for the ***** (EDIT: Word that was here has been removed and wasn’t spotted when originally posted. It was a f**king stupid word to use for people with disabilities) that they are. Creating stories out of thin air and damaging public opinion. Increasingly, we are seeing entire articles written off just one tweet.

I like the fact that he hammered them. I like him even more than before and wish he turns it around so he can look at them in the eye and tell the press what tossers they actually are.
Sudarsan Ravi (140 words from 140 characters is my new pet peeve)


RIP assists
Assists are a funny thing. In football I don’t know how much has changed since it’s inauguration. It seems that if you pass to someone and they score no matter the circumstance it is an assist.

In basketball for instance originally an assist was only counted if the player didn’t dribble afterwards. This rule has since changed but has an aspect of human interpretation that doesn’t seem to exist in football.

Taking just one touch to score seems abit too far, there just needs to be some thought into how much work was done by the receiver of the ball to score. In the days of computers tracking everything statistically I don’t know how likely this is, unless it’s done on time, which still wouldn’t really be accurate in a lot of circumstances.

The growing importance of chance creation will maybe start to change the thinking of assists anyway, but do we really know what constitutes a ‘chance’. Don’t we all just miss when we were kids and we could just watch the game in pure enjoyment without over-thinking.
Luke. Chengdu


Arsenal striker analysis…
I have been hearing or reading this line “Not good enough to win the title with” or “not a 30 goal a season striker” a lot recently especially while people talk about Arsenal players, Giroud being the victim most of the time and more recently Ramsey. So I decided to spend a little time researching whether everybody is right and that whether what giroud provides is not really enough to win the title with.

Firstly I see that Arsenal have been in the top 3 in Goals scored every year (top 4 with 2 goals behind Chelsea in 13/14) since Giroud has come in. Taking a closer look into the average number of goals scored by the eventual title winner (80) since the Premier League’s inception Arsenal have been thereabouts with their goals tally each of the last four seasons. Even the seasons where we have crumbled (13/14), it was more down to our lack of CDM cover or defensive resolve and not due to our shortage of goals.

Secondly, since 92-93 the title has been won by teams with top scorers having less than 20 goals 11 out of 23 times, and with top scorers getting less than 25 goals 17 out of 23 times. It’s better to have a team with multiple scorers than a single 30 goal forward. I’m sure having Sanchez, Giroud, Walcott and Ramsey we have enough players with double digit goals.

Thirdly, who would I rather have for this seaon (from the other so called title contenders) over Giroud? Rooney, Benteke/Origi/perennially injured Sturridge, Costa – no, Kane – maybe, Aguero – for sure. So if we are dismissing teams based on not good enough to win the league or not having 30-goal a season striker clearly we have no team except Leicester that’s going to win the title since Aguero is usually injured for half a season and has never scored 30 goals and he is the only other player currently capable of scoring 30.

As a final point, I would take Benzema, Lewandowski,any of the barca trio or aguero in the blink of an eye but until a striker better than Giroud is available I’m not too worried about Arsenals potential to win a title with their current striking options.
Sasikumar Kannan, (Chelsea won with Lampard as top scorer, twice), AFC, Boston
(MC – Quick question: Where did this demand for a 30-goal striker come from?)


…And then some on Ramsey from the same Mailer
Being an Arsenal fan I have endured my share of frustrations with Aaron Ramsey especially during the early parts of his career at the Arsenal. But the last 3 years he has performed exceptionally well and I find it ludicrous when people say he is a squad player or that he is not good enough.

Lets take a look at his stats first:
13/14 35 games 16 goals 9 assists 3.3 tackles 1 interception and 7 MoMs
14/15 34 games 10 goals 8 assists 2.5 tackles and 1interception 2 MoMs
15/16 18 games 4 goals 2 assists 2.2 tackles and 1.8 interceptions 1 MoM
86+% passing every season

Having watched every Arsenal game over the last few years I can tell you that for every game that Ramsey has been fit he has been part of the starting 11 (except the inconsequential games where he has been rested) even when every fan was calling for his head in the 12/13 season he played. This shows the level of trust Arsene has in Ramsey. Ramsey’s 14/15 season was blighted by injuries and by the time he returned to fitness and form Cazorla and Coquelen had formed an effective partnership in the middle. His time on the right had more to do with Coq-Cazorla axis than his ability vs cazorlas to play the cm role. Cazorla would not be playing if anyone except coquelen was our CDM. Ramsey playing on the right being an extra midfielder on offense and his defensive cover was instrumental for our late season form.

Ramsey is a player who Steven Gerrard called the best attacking midfielder in England and has been praised by everyone in the media. It is an exaggeration that he is the best attacking midfielder in England but he is pretty damn close. Though ramsey has played only a few games as a CM, only Delle Alli/Dembele on current form have been better this year, Toure to an extent when he puts his mind to it performs better but at 32 he is doing it less and less and has pretty much given up defensive part of his game.

Ramsey has just played three Premier League games as CM and has already scored two goals and made an assist it wont be long before he starts showing what he is really capable of.
Sasikumar, (I havent included CDMs when talking about best CMs), AFC, Boston


More on Ramsey
I’m not going to get into the debate of who the best centre mid in the league is. It’s a ridiculously varied position. But I’ll guess from recent articles posted on the site that the Ramsey-related mails published in yesterday afternoon’s mailbox don’t exactly chime with F365’s editorial stance on him, or Daniel Storey’s at least.

And I have to take issue with Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA’s assertion that Ramsey’s “a good player to have on your team, unless you’re trying to win the title.” Peter clearly watches a lot of Premier League football, and his mails very often relate to the non-big four, so maybe he just hasn’t noticed that Ramsey played in the following games:

Leicester 2 – 5 Arsenal (77 mins)
Arsenal 3 – 0 Manchester United (90+ mins)
Arsenal 2 – 0 Bayern Munich (57 mins)
Olympiakos 0 – 3 Arsenal (90+ mins)
Arsenal 2 – 1 Manchester City (90+ mins)

He’s also featured in disappointing results – Chelsea/Mike Dean away (90+), Olympiakos at home (30) , Norwich away (72, though it was his first game back) – but did not play in the draw at home to Spurs and the drubbing in Munich.

It seems perfectly clear that Ramsey’s a core – ie first 11 – Arsenal player when fit, and that he’s played a significant role in the club’s biggest results of the season, and getting us to 2nd in the league. If you place even a modicum of importance on league positions and performances in big games/vs main rivals when assessing a team’s title credentials – and if you don’t, then what the hell do you base it on? – then the argument that Ramsey isn’t of the required standard looks shaky at best.

Ramsey has paid for his fitness problems, the strength of Coquelin and Cazorla as a partnership, and his versatility. In the early part of the season, he was pushed forward to a notional right-wing position to exploit his attacking threat but also to give Hector Bellerin protection. It’s fair to say he couldn’t displace either Coquelin or Cazorla in the middle, but like Mertesacker and Koscielny, they mesh very well, and given the Spaniard’s age, that partnership will not be a long-term fixture.

My guess is Wenger absolutely sees Ramsey at the heart of his midfield, with a more defensively-minded, ball-playing partner who will allow him to push on take risks. This will essentially be a reprise of the Arteta-Ramsey partnership which saw Ramsey hit the heights of the ridiculous “half-season”, only both players will have functioning legs (though the hair won’t be as good).
Will (he’s almost as good as Edu.) O’Doherty


…I’ll leave everyone to their opinions on Aaron Ramsey’s relative quality but I’d like to point one or two things out…

1. He has played out of position for a good chunk of his career and while he struggled in his first stint out on the right, he established himself as first choice (ahead of Theo & The Ox) in his second stint. Most casual observers highlighted this as one of Arsenal’s problems/mistakes but I believe the majority of Arsenal fans were happy with Ramsey’s performances. Indeed, the success of the exceedingly dimunitive central paiting of Coquelin and Cazorla can be attributed in part to Ramsey’s diligent tucking in to the centre whenever Cazorla went a-dribbling or the Coq had a full-back to cover.

However, considering that he has scored twice and assisted twice since his recent return to the centre, it is not unreasonable to suggest that while he did an excellent job out wide, he may well have better end product numbers had he stayed put in the middle.

2. Ramsey’s combination of unbelievable stamina, high work-rate, defensive awareness, passing range (most of the time) and a willingness to get forward into scoring positions at every opportunity DO in fact add up to a potentially world class central midfielder. Sure, his finishing is a bit erratic but composure in front of goal is natural to a few and comes with experience for most, so its not like he can’t improve there.

3.The use of that most Arsenal of words. “potential” may strike some as odd but the fact is that Aaron Ramsey will turn 24 day after tomorrow. That “fantastic half a season” someone mentioned came when he was 22.

I agree with the assertion of one of your correspondents that Ozil, Alexis and Cazorla are Arsenal’s best outfield players. They are aged 27, 27 and 31 respectively.

There are a handful of players in the world whose development took/is taking an almost exclusively vertical trajectory (Messi, C. Ronaldo, Neymar etc) but for the vast majority of players (including many of those who go onto “elite player” status), development happens in a succession of spurts and plateaus.

In closing, I think Ramsey is an excellent footballer and has it in him, especially as part of a strong team, to be among the best in the PL and Europe… if he can stay fit
Harsha (Played fast and loose with some of those ages but I think they’re right…) Arsenal


Nice line on Leicester
In response to Simons question yesterday, as a Leicester fan I would rather live one day as a lion than a thousand as a lamb.
Richard P “we might be playing Brighton again next year, and not in the Championship!!” LCFC, Brighton


Missing Men
I am writing to ask that you bring back the lunchtime stalwart that was Missing Men. Along with a selection of my finest colleagues, I would look forward to playing Missing Men every single day, refreshing the screen from 12 onwards to until it appeared. Along with Mediawatch it formed the bedrock of my workday afternoon. We’d play, timing ourselves to see who’d finish it quickest (My record was a 2004 England game in case you’re interested. Was the first to clock Scholesy on the wing – wonder if there’s a mailbox thread in that at all).

For the uninitiated, Missing Men was a genius game whereby you were presented with the team, opposition, date and a series of blanks laid out in formation, in which you had to enter the names of the starting 11. It was joyous. Who’s that in Man Utd’s midfield? Scholes? No. Keane? No. Veron? No. They’ve not got Giggs in the centre have they?

Wait a second…. It’s only bloody Liam Miller!

You just can’t top that kind of a rush, no matter how you try and fill the void with sex, drugs and Guardian football quizzes.

At the time that you took Missing Men away I thought it was probably the right decision. There were only so many times you can guess Terry and Carvalho in the centre of a Chelsea defence, and you just knew that the five letter Arsenal midfielder was Gilberto Silva. Every time.

But now though, now there are a whole plethora of line-ups you could delve into. Ones you’ve never used before. Just think of the joys of guessing an LVG back four. Or working out what position Rodgers was playing Sterling in that week. The feeling of triumph when you get Kim Kallstrom right. He only started one game for Christ’s sake.

So do it Mr 365 (can I call you Football?). Do it for the ones who’ve never played the game. Do it for the ones who miss it. Do it for my lunchtime. Do it for Christmas.

Bring Missing Men back!

Yours ever,
Gary, London
(MC – This MC loved Missing Men as much as you. Alas it was a Sky Sports thing which featured as a link on our site. They have now stopped the feature. Only the good die young)

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