Mails: Pep’s Man United would have battered Liverpool…

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Well that was all a bit sh*t…
Watched too much football this weekend, especially as most of it was rubbish. They need to sell the global rights quickly before someone else realises the football is kinda shit.
Mel, Berlin


How Man United could have hammered Liverpool 4-1
I saw some arguements about Jose setting himself up for a draw. Going to Anfield for a draw was a crime. Especially with that Liverpool defence.

The biggest weapon Jose has at United is David De Gea. It is really really difficult for anybody to get past that guy. It has to be a really special strike to get a goal against United. We have seen him save four or five times a game before Jose was here.

Not trusting him was Jose’s crime. Liverpool strikers are poor. Yes they run fast and move well but their conversion ratio is crap. Add De Gea to that and you can be rest assured, they would not score more than two.

We have been hammering better drilled defences for four goals. I cannot see a Liverpool team shut shop even if they score a goal. They dont know how to so there was never a risk of not being able to attack them.

You know how Pep would have lined United up against Liverpool?

De Gea
Valencia – Smalling – Jones – Shaw
Mata – Matic – Mkhitaryan
Martial – Lukaku – Rashford

We would have destroyed Liverpool 4-1. That is poor tactics and poor game management. That is a coach making his team play worse. Van Gaal said philosophy and we hated it. Jose doesnt say it but it is his philosophy. I don’t like that either.
Sudarsan Ravi (Still support Jose just p***ed off with his approach)


Don’t forget Smalling though…
I have been a reader of this hallowed site for a number of years now and have never written in, mainly out of pure laziness. I do however take issue with the increasingly skewed narratives that are being espoused weekly and also with the revisionist rose-tinted view of the past.

Initially after watching Saturday’s Anfield debacle I was rather annoyed with Mourinho, however once I had had a moment to reflect, almost felt sorry for Jose, not a position I am best pleased with. Let me explain, if he had set the team up to attack without his better players (Bailly, Pogba – big misses) and got slaughtered he would have got slaughtered in the press, so basically he is in a lose-lose situation.

Why do I believe they might have got slaughtered, I give you exhibit A, one Smalling, Chris. If you have watched this player for any length of time you will notice how limited he is, (player, for footballer he is not) he cannot complete anything but the most basic of passes, has no vision and therefore no ability to sense or read danger as well as looking completely baffled (think deer in headlights) when faced with a decision. His greatest strength is winning headers but he cannot find a teammate with the knockdown (whether under pressure or not). This hampers the team tremendously as you cannot play out from the back and nor can you leave this liability exposed.

English players get an easy ride with the media except if they are Raheem Sterling. The media are probably lambasting United for the same reason that Raheem gets it, mainly Liverpool bias and the pain of drawing at home – can’t even have bragging rights in this fixture anymore

My mentioning rose-tinted glasses above is in reference to something that has been mentioned a number of times in the mailbox, everyone thinks SAF’s United were these all conquering behemoths who tore everyone to shreds, I remember many a game where the team played terribly, I imagine that being whipped into a frenzy to perform week in week out took it’s toll some weeks. Hardly anyone or any team is ever amazing all of the time, that’s what makes Messi and Cristiano so ridiculous (that must be mentally taxing).

Basically beware the narrative that surrounds the Premier League where people would rather talk about the soap opera that surrounds the football rather than the football itself, after all it’s all about marketing the Bestest league ever TM.
Alain, Cape Town (I said almost felt sorry, it is difficult to have sympathy for a moaning millionaire. Incidentally maybe the national team would be better if there was less about the opera and more about the football)


Blaming the international break…
What a surprise reading comments today, once again ‘Jose is killing football’. Same old boring rhetoric, which conveniently forgets the 4+ goals scored in so many games this year. I get why he is being blamed, Liverpool are there for the taking, poor defence etc – but people forget that Liverpool are always up for games against Man United at home. In Ferguson’s last six matches at Anfield we lost four, drew one and won one…so drawing away to Liverpool in any context is a good result. I appreciate it wasn’t pretty but it’s been blown completely out of proportion.

The one point I wanted to make was this game comes after a grueling international week. This always means less time to prepare and tired players who have been traveling and playing in all corners of the world. Is it a coincidence that both Chelsea and Arsenal lost away from home after so many of their players have been away? Of course not, but nobody seems to be mentioning this point at all.

Look at Man united, seven of their starting 11 were away on international duty, and Bailly and Rashford both picked up injuries playing for the national team. It’s hardly the best preparation for playing at Anfield, and at most the players had one training session to prepare. I appreciate Liverpool had the same but they are playing at home and were hardly inspiring themselves. Jose obviously wanted to play on the counter, but the players were unable to pull it off, especially second half, and I have no doubt that tiredness (both mentally and physically after so much traveling with a vastly different focus over the previous two weeks) played a factor.

Man City played Stoke at home and looked great, and playing at home to a mid-table team is always an easier prospect then away to your biggest rivals. Spurs looked okay, again at home to a bottom-half team, and as mentioned before both Chelsea and Arsenal lost to lower table teams…I don’t believe these results would be the same in a different week with more preparation time.

People are so quick to attack Jose, and I get it, it’s his own fault for past behaviour and reputation. However, are people not able to actually look at all factors and circumstances before being so damning? I doubt it.
Aaron Collins


Take the shackles of their feet…
I have to agree with Dave P MUFC Dublin in that Manchester United didn’t ‘park the bus’ at Anfield. And I say this as someone who was really quite annoyed by the whole display. It wasn’t at all that Manchester United came to get a point, it’s that – as many others have pointed out – we were completely abject. Every time we got the ball it ended up either being passed sideways, backwards or simply misplaced and then possession was lost. Only De Gea came out of that game with any credit. On that note, I feel that including Herrera in the losers section is more than a little unfair, especially when several players, notably Darmian, Mkhitaryan and Lukaku were much worse.

Herrera may not have had a great game, but equally Matic didn’t have a great game beside him. I think ‘mopping up behind’ him is to overlook this, especially when he has been starting regularly and is supposedly in form. Compare this to Herrera, who as you pointed out has made just two starts this season, coming into a team that to a man played terribly. Sometimes, one player can win you games – the likes of Ronaldo or Messi – but Herrera is not that kind of player and to expect him to shine when no one else is, when he’s played a limited amount of football seems like you’re making him a scapegoat when you give Mkhitaryan two sentences and let Darmian and Lukaku off with a free pass. And the suggestion that Herrera lacks passing range or doesn’t release team mates is bullsh*t. Straight away I can think of the ball Herrera played through for Rashford against Chelsea last season and I know that wasn’t the only ball like that which he’s played.

The bottom line is that too many players were not trying to do anything with the ball when they were on it and this stinks of Jose shackling them like he did last season. Everyone seemed nervous and fluffed lines and misplaced passes. This meant that Man Utd failed to build any head of steam, and meant Liverpool were often gifted possession, which they ultimately did nothing with.
Daniel (Mata and Carrick would have made quite a big impact I think) Cambridge


It was a disaster for Liverpool
Brian makes a valid point about United not having too much to celebrate, as a United fan I was bored and think it was too negative a performance especially in the second half. If that is the default away performance against top six sides then we won’t get many points from those games and Mourinho needs to do better.

However I think he is getting a bit carried away in trying to attribute it is a positive for Liverpool. It’s easy to criticise United and build up City but the context of this result has to be taken into consideration.

Utd are seven points clear of Liverpool, they have conceded fewer goals, scored more, have five more points than they had after ten league games last season and a good position in the Champions League. It’s an absolute necessity brainier who that result benefited more.

City are a class part at the moment, Spurs and Utd will do well to stay close if they maintain anything like their current level. For the rest of last season’s top six any title challenge is looking like a long shot already. A win on Saturday would have been huge for Liverpool, as it is a loss to Spurs could see talk of next year is our year in October.


From the church of Guardiola
It’s been a popular notion for some time now that the sole reason City are so dominant is because they have spent billions to get the best players in the world. Something Paul, London seems to also believe.

But this is patently untrue. City may have spent a lot but let’s not pretend their buys were/are world class talents. Of what appears to be Guardiola’s preferred XI, only Walker, Ederson (Gk) were bought this summer. Mendy is out injured and, considering the amount of Spurs fans who keep stating that Trippier is better, I doubt we can consider Walker as a world-class buy (Dani Alves was first choice).

What Guardiola has enacted is an adaptable and exciting style of play. Their last two games featured the same starting XI, playing with two distinct tactical instructions and yet utterly dominated the opposition both times. At the beginning of the season and perhaps even now, other than De Bruyne and David Silva, no other City player might have gotten into United or Chelsea’s team. Or even Spurs. It’s a credit to Guardiola that he’s been able to make them play with such verve instead of making one watch the first Premier League match immediately after an international break and wish the break never ended.

To those who called his Barca “the Messi team”, Guardiola was there for four years, winning 14 trophies before he left. Since then, they have had four managers in five years. While Villanova won the league, Bayern destroyed them. Martino’s season was disastrous, while Luis Enrique needed exorbitant amounts spent on Neymar and Suarez, along with help from Xavi to settle a dispute between he and Messi, to win the treble. After which his team collapsed. Valverde is there now.

I could explain in more detail Guardiola’s effect on Barca, (La Masia’s success, titles, Spanish global dominance, yada yada) but let’s reduce it to this, Messi has won five Ballon d’Ors, four of these came during Guardiola’s four years. Since Guardiola left, he won it once, due to Enrique’s treble. Who enabled who?

Also Paul, if Guardiola had taken over at City or Liverpool, he would be under less pressure. With City, he must end the season top (while making an impact in Champions League) or he would be deemed a failure, and despite my dislike of Mourinho, he’s in a similar position without UEFA. No other manager in the league is going to be judged in such manner. It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out Koeman’s problems, while Klopp’s personality masks the fact that he’s a poor tactician.

Btw, Aravind says Hazard would do better if in De Bruyne’s shoes, the same Hazard who said he hates defending, Hazard is pretty good but De Bruyne’s best quality is his selflessness.
Victor A, (De Bruyne for Ballon d’Or 2018)


Arsenal without Ozil and Sanchez will be just fi…oh
Excellent mail by Rob A (nearly 50% on two players, wow) AFC. I would also like to further his argument in defence of Arsenals reliance on Sanchez and Ozil by noting that 41% of Arsenals attacking output emanating from 40-50% of their attacking players (assuming 4-5 outfield players are primarily charged with attacking) is not altogether alarming. Also to take the analysis a step further, it’s not as though Arsenal will play with two less players after they both inevitably depart. Surely the problem is not quite as big as 41% as the breach will be filled by …. oh, now I get it!
RC, Canada


Answering all the mails
Good mailbox. A lot of times it gets dominated by one topic but there was just so much to talk about today so thought I would try and answer everyone……

Chuck – Of course United have passers! Herrera (he’s Spanish so it’s actually against the law for him NOT to be a passer). Matic – Jose’s favourite player. They just didn’t perform

Dave – judging by your comments I think you were watching a different match. You can’t spend £300m in 18 months and claim you have no players. No excuses.

Raymond – agreed, United won’t win the league but will be second. Jose knows this so is getting his excuses in early

Dave – there was a good mail over the weekend stating that pragmatism works in a tw0-horse race but not a six-horse race. It’s worth thinking about.

John – United were weekend losers as while Pep was dismantling Stoke after spending £200m – your lot were ‘doing a Burnley’ against an under-par Liverpool side.

S – Klopp can win. The point made about having Firmino Coutinho and Salah on the bench was technically correct but essentially superfluous (thank you predictive text!) as Klopp brought on Ox, Studgy and Solanke. If anything Klopp was a big winner as Jose took the heat away from why Liverpool are not as dynamic as last year.

Brian – I concur, it was an opportunity missed by United.

AS – yes a little harsh on Lukaku as he had very few chances or service.

Paul – don’t loathe Pep, he is building an English Barcelona in double quick time and he should be recognised for that.

Aravind – I think Conte is ‘doing a Mourinho’ despite stating he would not ‘do a Mourinho’. They need Morata back and Hazard needs to step up. Chelsea will be fine. The team is always a reflection of the manager and at the minute Conte is sulky…..

Rob – good stats! Issue is probably allowing Ozil and Sanchez to run down their contracts which puts Arsenal in a terrible position. He should have sold both in the summer nice and early and picked up a few players.

James – it was definitely a penalty for Everton. Maybe the frustration at not winning the game clouds your judgment of the referee ? We are all guilty of that…..

Nilesh – Deeney is a good player and embodies what Watford are I think it’s probably just his age whereby Silva wants someone a bit more agile.

Ant – great win for Palace, typical Premier League gem which is why it’s considered the best league in the world…

Ed – if that win can inspire some confidence Woy can keep them going and they should get out of it but it’s going to be tough.
Ian (I won’t be doing this again, it took way longer than I thought it would…) LFC


Watch this space!
On Sunday a young 18-year-old Brazilian called Mauro Junior scored on his debut for PSV Eindhoven. The last young Brazilian to score on his debut for PSV was the original and great Ronaldo back in 1994. PSV could be on to a good thing here!
Tim Royall GFC