Mails: Pogba has all the tools to be better than De Bruyne…

Date published: Thursday 11th October 2018 9:06

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Pogba can be better than De Bruyne
Really interesting question posed by JazGooner (Vela, Joel Campbell etc..) in Tuesday’s mailbox about players we like that others don’t.

First off I can’t understand why anyone would not like Paul Pogba. I watch every Utd game I can and the man is a beast. Admittedly he has been inconsistent, but he has the tools to be better than De Bruyne IMHO. He has everything as an attacking midfielder that Kevin does and more. He can pass long or short with both right and left, great skilful feet and dribbling ability, strong as an ox, good in the air, can take free kicks and weighs in with goals. Anyone doubting him is a fool. Or Souness. Or both.

Another player I loved who I thought was unfairly pigeon-holed was Andy Carroll. I thought he was an awesome footballer, and when he broke on the scene with Newcastle he looked a very good centre forward, with good feet and a great shot, as well as being ridiculously good in the air. Unfortunately Allardyce turned him into a simple battering ram and his game was based mainly around flying headfirst into opposition goalkeepers, though occasionally his quality would shine through as per his fabulous goal against Palace, or his over-the-shoulder volley against West Brom. He was much, much more than a battering ram, until people convinced him that’s all he was.
Phil – MUFC

In reply to JazGooner, one player that always comes to mind (and I really wanted him to succeed at Man Utd) was Nani. I remember there wasn’t really a lot of excitement when we signed ‘The new Ronaldo’ but I always thought he was going to be a world beater when Ronaldo left for Madrid partly because I thought he was living in Ronaldo’s shadow.

I always had a soft spot for him even when it became clear he wasn’t going to reach the heights of Ronaldo. He is by no means a bad player and I think he was moved on too soon by David Moyes in 2013.
He bagged a load of assists in the 2010/11 season which helped us win the league title and I thank him for that.
Amass,Tema (That assist for Rooney’s overhead kick in the Manchester derby will remain with me forever) – (The deflected cross?! – MC)

Are Stretford Enders really behind Jose?
Hoping to add a slightly different take on Jose Mourinho…

One thing that is often referenced is that Mourinho retains the full support of the ‘Old Trafford faithful’ (weird phrase if you ask me). This is because fans at the game applaud him, sing his name and generally try to be supportive. In my mind, as a season ticket holder of close to 20 years, this is misleading.

Firstly, and this is just my personal opinion, but booing or criticising your own team during the game is absolutely pointless. It won’t motivate them to play any better, so is counterproductive, and is actually just a really weird thing to do (think Jonny Nic wrote an article on this very website a few years back about this). Imagine spending £100 (cost of ticket, transport, couple of beers and a bit of food – rough estimate) just to boo people?

Anyway, my actual point (yes I am going to get there eventually) is that going to the match is only a part of the joy of match day. I am sure many people can relate, but having turned 30 this year, I find it harder and harder to meet friends and family as regularly as I would like. This is a simple reflection of work, children, people moving away etc., but it does obviously make it harder than when you are in your early 20’s and can simply post ‘Pub?’ on social media on a Tuesday before having a great night out. So, going to the game is about far more than seeing United win. It is about meeting people beforehand for a drink, catching up on their week, holiday etc., talking tactics, fantasy football, maybe even betting tips on the way to the ground. Then once I’m in there, I want to enjoy myself! I do this by singing and generally trying to be supportive of the team. There is no single right way to enjoy football (although there are definitely WRONG ways to enjoy it…), but for me and my friends/family this is what we turn up to do.

The effect of this is that, despite many of us having strong doubts about Mourinho from the day of his appointment, we will all sing songs to support him, cheer as he walks down the touchline, and generally come across as fan boys, when the reality is far more grey. I wonder if this is helping him seem more popular with the board, and therefore harder to sack, than he actually is (although the idea that the United hierarchy give a single f*ck about the fans is laughable)?

So my point is that supporting a manager within the ground does not necessarily mean that you support them outside of it. Wider point though, do others feel that the result of the game is less important than the actual experience of the day? I guess this will be much truer lower down the table/leagues, and I’d assume fans who go to more games will be less bothered, given the regularity with which they attend matches.
Jack (Has Stewie Griffin written in about Emery and I’ve missed it?) Manchester, Stretford End


Mourinho can motivate
Saby’s email got me wondering – if everyone believes that Mourinho is incapable of “improving a player and/or taking a player under his wing and giving him advice” – does that mean that Messrs Lampard, Terry and Drogba became legends inspite of him during his Chelsea tenure? And I’m genuinely curious about this. Much can and should be said about Jose 2.0 and Jose 3.0 but I always felt that Jose 1.0 did have that ability to motivate a squad and player above what he was currently at. I seem to remember Lampard and Drogba explaining how Jose would constantly encouraging and motivating them to raise their standards – was I imagining those interviews? And when he won the treble with Inter – he did so with the squad playing at a higher level together. A quick look at the career trajectories of Pandyev and Milito seem to suggest that Jose had a lot more to do with that victory.

And in response to the wonderful idea of a draft, in the US, it’s usually college level athletes that are drafted and once they’re drafted, they usually more often than not have an obligation to join the team that drafted them (I’m happy to stand corrected). Otherwise you’d have everybody refusing to join the likes of Cleveland Browns or Phoenix Suns. Applying this to transfer windows wouldn’t work unless this basic rule is also enforced – can you imagine Jack Grealish or Jaden Sancho being told that he’s been drafted by Tony Pulis? I’m sure they’d just laugh and sit tight and wait for Liverpool or City’s transfer window to open so that they can sign for more money and get to work with Klopp or Pep.

On another topic, Steven Chicken’s brawl room article is the funniest article I’ve read since the days of Pete Gill’s Whingers and Loners. It started off well and then I thought he had lost the narrative by time he came to Puel and Hughes (I was expecting brief paragraphs about Hughes offering hand shakes and then biffing people about when they’re rejected) but he does manage to steer it back by the time we get back to Javi Gracia.
Would have liked to seen Mike Dean be the referee for this one though.


…There’s been an unhealthy trend in recent mailboxes that I feel needs addressing – which is the tendency to trash a person’s entire career based on what they’re doing now. Naturally, I’m talking about Jose. Now, anyone can see that Jose did a terrible job in his last season at Chelsea, and whilst it’s early in the season, a reasonable judge could come to the conclusion he’s doing a bad job at Utd.

But to then argue that he’s always been a bad manager who only ever won via the chequebook, never developed players, was never at the tactical level of Klopp, Pep, etc. – I’m sorry, that’s just plain wrong. List of players that Jose has improved through coaching? How about Lampard, Terry, Drogba, Carvalho, Gallas, Ferreira, Essien, Deco? It’s tempting to think these players were always brilliant, but before Jose most of them really weren’t, and many of them become among the elite defining players of their generation because of Jose’s coaching.

At his best, Jose Mourinho was one of the best coaches of all time. That he isn’t now (and part of me finds that a very sad thing) doesn’t change his past.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan (duh), Singapore


Attack, attack, attack
Saby MUFC – ‘I would always play with Martial, Lukaku, Sanchez, Mata and Rashford and try and fit in the rest. Unless we attack and risk it we’re risking further humiliation in the upcoming matches.’

Mourinho might be an ‘dinosaur of a manager’, but even he would draw the line at a circa 1920 style 2-3-5. Imagine how scared McTominay would really be holding that fort down…
Dru, MUFC (Brrap Brrap Pew Pew)


Why a draft would never work
In reply to DC, BAC’s email from yesterday, staggered transfer windows have not, can not and will never work in Europe.

The draft system works in US because:
1. It is a closed market system. All players come from same college system (NCAA) and can only go to the teams in one league. Players can also only move between teams in the same league.
2. Everyone has complete and perfect information. All possible draft picks are known by every team. All teams know the entire pool of players available.
3. There is zero incentive for either club or player to wait till the end of the draft. As the draft choices are limited (and everyone knows everyone involved), the incentive is to be “selected”. Salary caps mean there is little benefit to negotiating wage when you are picked by a team as a rookie.

It is quite literally the opposite in Europe.
1. Players are recruited from all over the world and can go to any league in any country. You are not just competing against other groups of teams in the same league, you are competing with teams in different leagues in different countries.
2. There is no concept of perfect information, the teams are not starting off the same level footing. Teams have different budgets, different scouting networks, different wages, etc. It is impossible for clubs to know the full pool of players any other club might be considering and vice versa.
3. There absolutely is incentive for players/clubs to wait till the end. From a players point of view, they would rather see if they can get a bigger offer from better teams later in the window. Waiting a week is meaningless if it means you can earn more and play for a bigger team potentially. From a clubs perspective, they can always reach out to the player/his agent and let them know of their interest before their window officially opens.

We all want to see a more level playing field for everyone but trying to bring over the draft system or any type of staggered transfer window system will never work.
Falooda in NY (Hilarious seeing Arsenal grouped with the likes of Newcastle on the back of one season. Back to normal and finishing below Arsenal for ManU again now)


I saw your “What the Big Six Need to Strengthen in January” piece, read the paragraphs on Tottenham and was immediately triggered. Why? Because if I want to hear the reheated “Poch, buy anyone?” meme I need only visit any other crap-site on the internet. I thought, Football365 did proper analysis and commentary (with a hint of banter). In any case, I thought I would demonstrate how those 230-or so words might have been used better…

‘Tottenham were the only team not to strengthen in the summer and while many foresaw doom and gloom, but for a hint of carelessness at Watford, they are within two points of the leaders. That said, the impact of the world cup has resulted in an injury prone-ness across the squad that was not seen in previous seasons with Eriksen, Dembele and Vertonghen all occupying a space in the treatment room.

The treatment room also serves as a road map to Tottenham’s priorities this January.

Many thought Tottenham’s reluctance to sign Alderweireld to a new deal was parsimony on the side of the club but it has not gone unnoticed that the 26 goals conceded in 2016/17 had become 36 in 2017/18 and the 7 already conceded this season and an already identified weakness at set pieces – illustrates that some remedial action in the defence is needed. It is therefore unsurprising that Tottenham were heavily linked with Matthijs De Ligt this summer (to continue their love affair with Ajax centre backs) and the January window may be their best chance of ‘sealing the deal’. The main downside of chasing this player may be any stipulation by Ajax that the player completes the season in Holland.

Solving the Dembele problem is possibly the one that keeps Pochettino awake at night. What makes Dembele unique is his dribbling and ability to beat players. The club might see a ready made replacement in Frenkie de Jong, or Ndombele two players leading the European dribbling charts. However expect both to cost north of £50m presuming both Lyon or Ajax would even come to the negotiating table as the former is chasing a league title and the latter a valuable Champions League place.

Lastly, there is Eriksen – Tottenham thought they had that position solved twice with bids for both Barkley and Grealish only for Chelsea to swoop in and sign the former and new ownership to refuse to sell in the case of the latter. Might they return for Grealish? Maybe. The one player that is probably breathing a sigh of relief is Harry Winks who seemingly has been given the position in central midfield in his (and Eriksen’s) absence.’

I have deliberately omitted a sentence on a Kane replacement because there isn’t one. Poch has to make one of Llorente and Janssen serviceable – and manage with Son, Lamela and Moura.

Also, on reflection, word count is pretty challenging – it would have been good to enhance the defence para with data on winning headers, and games missed through injury. The second para would have been enhanced with the successful dribble data for all the players mentioned and the take on data. Lastly, the Eriksen para makes no sense without forward pass, key pass and throughball data. All of the data was omitted in an effort to make it shorter and read better. In short Journalism is hard.

Cheque is in the post right?



Fight, fight, fight
I’m not sure what’s worse. The fact you’ve resorted to printing an article entitled Revealed: how every PL manager would fare in a brawl’ or the fact I a) clicked on it, b) read it entirely c) found myself engaging in a debate with it (Wagner surely higher! And Howe really wouldn’t be mid table…) Or d) the fact I’m now emailing about it.

You’d think in an international week I might actually resort to doing some work

As you were
Pete, DRFC in exile, Suffolk


…During the brawl, did Jokanović beating up Emery have anything to do with the weekend result or is this random? I hope not, he seems nice enough.
Mamoon S (Diego Simeone & his assistant manager would certainly be a force to be reckoned with)


Easy way to 84 points
The big six EPL clubs (yes, I said 6) are generally expected to beat teams without a seat at their little cool kids table. Collymore’s comments got me thinking; what would be the outcome if a club does exactly the minimum expected of it? That is, it looses all ten games against the other big boys and wins the rest. Such a club would end the season with 84 points.
Starting from the 2013/14 season to last, the team’s final league position would be 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 3rd and 2nd. Doesn’t look bad at all on paper, but would fans accept not beating any supposed rivals for five years for this set of outcomes?
Third paragraph.
Lawrence, CFC (open, close) Abuja

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