Top work. Keep those mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Are United in danger of becoming Aston Villa? (No)
9th February 2014. I thought United had reached their nadir since football started in 1992. 81 crosses under the Chosen one, and all we got was a point against Fulham.
Then came the glorious month of December 2015. Sitting 3rd in the league after a 1–1 with Leicester, the run of fixtures read WHU (H), Bournemouth (A), Norwich (H) and Stoke (A). The results read 0-0, 1-2, 1-2 and 0-2. I thought that was the seriously the worst and there’s nothing left to plummet to.
Today a side with Pogba, Ibra, Bailly and world-saviour, superhero Rashford folded to a Feyenoord side without even the slightest indication of a fight.
Watching United over the past four years has been like watching a loved one slowly succumb to a fatal illness despite all the medication and latest gadgets you buy them. At the back of your head, you’re painfully aware of the precedence – from Aston Villa to Nottingham Forest to Leeds United to Newcastle United – and while you console yourself saying “They’re too big to become like them” – you can’t help but watch as the loved one slowly fades into oblivion and you’re left clinging on to memories from Barcelona and Moscow.
But they were really awful against Feyenoord
Goodness me that was a cr*p performance! Unless Jose is masterminding a quick exit from a tournament he apparently has no love for, the performance from so many players is cause for serious concern. Jose looked a bit bewildered as he trudged off after the final whistle and its likely that a few of the players on display will be shelved for the foreseeable future. Top of the list is one Memphis Depay who looks completely shot of confidence, or perhaps he is quite crap after all.
The real odd bit however, is the fact that I still cannot see a distinctive style of play in the team. It seems that Jose is trying to adapt his own (safety first) philosophies to suit the club’s requirements and ethos. His teams previously rarely ever got beat, except for the times he came up against Barcelona, or when there was mutiny in the ranks (Chelsea). Now we have lost two in a row. He clearly is trying to move away from his style but by doing so he is also coursing unchartered territory now. I really don’t know how all this will pan out and for the club’s sake, I really hope it all falls into place sooner rather than later.
Mourinho paying for his disrespect
“This is not a competition that Manchester United wants. It is not a competition I want, it is not a competition the players want.”
There it is, in all it’s glory. The reason the British media love him so much, the reason the ex players won’t call him out, the reason he got the big job.
‘He said it, so it must be true’ This faux sense of masculinity and arrogance sits perfectly at home, front and centre with the entire PFM agenda in this league and society. Jose is the ultimate PFM, it’s only slowly becoming obvious to me.
I don’t even want to spend time speaking about the game because it was a repeat of last year, it was the exact same club, with the exact same vibe.
Can you imagine how insulting that statement is to thousands of football players and mangers and staff and fans all around Europe? Is anyone surprised the Dutch lads had more spirit? More heart? More reason to win?
He looks so jaded on the sideline these days doesn’t he, like a terrier who had the snip.
Dotz (Football is evolving so quickly, that we can actually see it in motion)
United vs Feyenoord conclusions
1. It’s no coincidence that in the two defeats this season we have tried to play defensively. It didn’t work for Moyes, it didn’t work for van Gaal, and it won’t work for Mourinho; we just aren’t that kind of team. The last two matches have been like watching van Gaal football, and we all know how well that went. We need to start playing much more positively otherwise there’ll be more of this to come and we’ll drop points to worse teams than Feyenoord.
2. His substitute appearance was Memphis Depay in microcosm: he can get in the right places but is utterly useless once there. I won’t be sad if his name never appears on another United teamsheet again.
3. The worst thing about tonight isn’t the fact we lost, but that Guy S is going to use this as a reason to trumpet Rooney (I just threw up in my mouth, sorry about that imagery). I was really hoping one of our other options would have a really good game and that would be the beginning of the end of Wayne, but of course they all flattered to deceive, so it’ll be back to business as usual against Watford.
4. If a linesman can’t see that the goal was offside from the position he was in, then they have no business being a match official. That was about as clear as you need it to be – the pitch was even forming a nice rule to illustrate it for him. A very poor decision indeed.
5. I know it’s still early days, but we really are going to need to see some signs of a world class player in Pogba sooner rather than later. He’s started off alright and had some bright spells here and there, but he looks nothing like a £90m player yet. As the world’s most expensive player, he doesn’t get the liberty of patience. Sorry, Paul, but if you wanted patience then you should have sorted out the transfer before you went on holiday and started not-so-subtly Tweeting/Instagramming about the move every five minutes.
6. Fair play to Feyenoord, they looked like a very well organised unit and clearly had a game plan in mind. They didn’t deserve the win particularly, given the goal should never have stood, but they made the most of their chances and got the bit of luck you sometimes need to win games. If they play like that for the remaining five matches then they’ll win the group fairly easily.
We’re now bottom of the group and winless in two. Watford will not be an easy game this weekend, especially given their performance against West Ham last week – it could quite conceivably be three consecutive defeats if things don’t improve. This is not the season for slow starts, it won’t be a repeat of last year with everyone taking points off each other; too many slip-ups and we’ll fall behind and fast.
Is that the most expensive team to ever lose in the Europa League?
The Flan, North London
The latest Dundalk European tour updates (keep them coming)
Now you might not have noticed it last night, amidst all the glamour and glitz that surrounds Europe’s second biggest club tournament, and you would certainly be forgiven for straying more towards the headline of United being beaten by a Feyenoord side featuring an iconic, if slightly worn Dirk Kuyt. However, last night featured a very special moment for the League of Ireland and indeed for Irish football as a whole. Reigning champions for the last few years, Dundalk come from an area of just some 40,000 people – where the very club itself is so very ingrained in the town that it’s synonymous with the area. And it was as such that Dundalk FC faced off against Eredivisie veterans AZ Alkmaar.
Thought by many to be there more to witness than compete the small Louth based club were débutantes at this level. Fans tuned in from home to watch their travelling heroes in their first EL Group stage outing. And all in all, things went rather well. In a game of few chances which threatened to be overshadowed by the unfortunate and serious injury to AZ man – Stijn Wuytens, Dundalk emerged with a point. This might not seem like much to most, but it marks a step forward for the club and league. Progress. That’s what it means to the followers of the team. Last night’s EL draw garnered more money – to the tune of €120,000- for the League champions than their most recent domestic campaign- a reputed €110,000. Meaning that the club, amongst a league known for its chopping and changing with squads overhauls a common occurrence, has reaped dividends from managing to mostly stay together for the last three seasons.
It was a nervous match, and at times AZ threatened to overwhelm the Lilywhites. But the boys in white and black managed to impress as they stoutly kept their opponents at bay for the first half and registered an impressive ten shots throughout. It wasn’t to last and mere minutes after the break Stijn Wuytens gave the Dutch side a deserved lead – sustaining a heavy concussion in doing so. Tired legs and frustration began to show culminating in the sending off of captain Stephen O’Donnell. On the cusp of regulation time, the bleakest hour, Ciaran Kilduff provided an insight into what he does best and headed the ball passed the waiting keeper.
A simple thing. A small act. And a single point. The first point of hopefully many to come in a European competition for League of Ireland teams.
‘HON THE TOWN
A Delusional Fan, Dundalk
…Dundalk earned €120,000 for their draw with AZ Alkmaar tonight.
They earned only €110,000 for winning the League Of Ireland last season.
What Stephen Kenny and his squad are achieving in Europe is nothing short of incredible. To get within two goals of the Champions League group stages, to go to Holland and earn a point – the first point ever earned by an Irish team in the group stages of European competition at that – to look so comfortable on this European stage and to do it all in spite of the institutional indifference of the FAI towards their own league. Earlier in the summer, there was something of a ruckus when the FAI announced a financial injection into Irish club football – to the princely tune of €5,000 per club in the top flight.
So you know, it may ‘only’ be AZ Alkmaar but this is seismic stuff.
One can only hope that Dundalk can use these achievements as a springboard to launch themselves towards even bigger and better things. One can only hope that other Irish teams can follow in their slipstream. That swathes of Irish football supporters and the powers that be can be jolted out of their collective stupor and finally give our domestic game the attention that many devoted people work so tirelessly for. The attention that it bloody well deserves.
The Europa League might mean next to nothing to the Mourinho’s of this world but let us not forget that it was in the UEFA Cup that he made his name with Porto all those years ago. After all, we all gotta start somewhere.
John (And they did it with 10 men too!), Ennis
A great night for Israeli football too
What a great European night for Israeli football we just witnessed. If you havent seen an Israeli league game, consider yourself lucky. Its pretty much like a sponsored pick up game full of hairy guys with Neymar style hair cuts. At least the crowd is awesome and loud. The league games are full of failed dribble attempts and failed finish attempts. The Israeli national team hasn’t featured in a major tournament since Mexico 1970. That’s 46 years in case you were too lazy to do the maths.
Enter Hapoel Beer Sheva. Small city from the southern part of the country who got promoted to the first division in the 70’s and won back to back titles in the first two seasons (Nottingham Forest minus the European title, close enough). Since then it’s been pretty much dross, except for producing one Yossi Benayoun.
In the years since the title, the team has been back and forth between the first and second division. A few years back an Israeli business woman took over the club and completely turned it around. She moved the team to a new stadium and built a solid squad.
This tiny club just won its first league title last year. Its first since the 70s and got to compete for a Champions league spot. Beer Sheva got through a tough test in Olympiacos, and nearly going through the final hurdle in Celtic (beating them at home 2 -0, but losing 4 – 5 in agg)
Last night the team traveled to Italy for their first European League game to face Inter in the San Siro and came away with a 2 – 0 away win! I know Inter are not what they used to be, but this is just an insane achievement for a team with a 16K capacity from a small shitty league.
Beating Olympiacos, Celtic and Inter in a month’s span is probably up there with biggest moments in Israeli football. Lets see if Beer Sheva can keep this up and make it out of the group stage!
Mor, Las Vegas
Some other games to watch this weekend
*West Brom – West Ham. As fascinating a matchup as we’ll see all year: two struggling sides with mutinous fans (for different reasons) and completely different profiles. The Hammers’ defensive problems have been laid bare (is new Twitter celebrity Angelo Ogbonna on the outs with Slaven Bilic?), but equally important is the blank at striker, where they’ve had zero goals in six games in all competitions. The rampaging Michail Antonio is up against Brendan Galloway, promising but young, and just settling in at his loan club. James McClean stayed on the bench against Bournemouth last week, but I’m guessing Tony Pulis starts him to go against the vulnerable Sam Byram, putting Nacer Chadli in the middle to attack the other West Ham vacancy, at holding midfielder. This game has Score Draw With Salomon Rondon Scoring The First Goal written all over it, which means the reality will be very different.
*Crystal Palace – Stoke City. Playing at home, there’s no reason for Palace to show any respect for the slumping Potters. Go at them with everything you’ve got, Al, especially now with Steve Mandanda, The Footballer With A Boxer’s Face, excelling in goal. And while you’re at it, start James Tomkins for Damien Delaney, a great servant who’s no longer up to standard. And Mark, drop the 4-3-3, go back to the 4-2-3-1 that’s worked in the past, and for goodness sake start Bojan when Xherdan Shaqiri’s injured. And maybe hire a new sports psychologist. All the Wilfried Bonys and Bruno Martins Indis in the world won’t help you if you crack after the first goal.
*Watford – Manchester United. After last season’s defensive grind, who would have bet that after four games, Watford would be one of only two clubs in the league whose games have yet to include a clean sheet for either side? (The other is Manchester City.) Unfortunately, that’s not a good profile against a Mourinho team, particularly one stinging from a defeat in the Netherlands. Juan Mata didn’t do much against Feyenoord to win a recall, so it’s likely to be Henrikh Mkhitaryan running at Miguel Britos, the weak point in the back line. Marouane Fellaini is the perfect guy to track Troy Deeney on those long outlet balls. Odion Ighalo was effective drifting a bit out to the left last week, and might be able to force Eric Bailly into a mistake. August signing Roberto Pereyra is the man most likely to provide the key pass, and Etienne Capoue, who’s on an unprecedented scoring streak, will also be vital in the buildups.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
It’s up for grabs now
The last time I remember Liverpool playing a league game on a Friday night was back in May 1989…
Hoping for a somewhat better result tonight.
Jim Bob, Lfc
F365 is sexist against men
I like f365 I really do, it’s opinionated without being blinkered or biased. Your stance and opprobrium to sexism in the footballing workplace is generally great.
That said, it should make you more aware of making derogatory comments towards Men too. I’m not a Menimist (not even a word) but if you made comments about a lady’s backside like you do with Ivanovic’s then there would be uproar and rightly so.
In the world of equality men and women should be held to the same respect on aesthetics, as with all other avenues. I get that not all your comments are derogatory; the fawning over Giroud (the handsome one) is the perfect example. If repeated comments were made about a woman’s features albeit positive ones, then the dogs of war would be out en masse. Again, rightly so!
Love the site, loads of positives, cut out the male sexism and the hypocrisy and we can be friends again.