Mails: Sanchez is just the new Rooney for Man United

Date published: Friday 16th February 2018 2:27

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Pogba = Gerrard
Watching the pantomime of Pogba vs Mourinho unfold reminds me of Gerrard under Benitez. Gerrard was arguably the greatest midfielder of his generation (cue howls of rage from Frank Lampard fans and Joey Barton). However under Benitez he got shunted out to the right wing to make space for Alonso and Mascherano. While this limited his play, it gave the team more balance and the team performed at a far higher level than when Gerrard was paired with either of them in the centre of midfield. Pogba poses a similar problem for Mourinho: play to the strengths of your most talented player or play a balanced team? Mourinho clearly prefers the later and it’s up to Pogba to decide whether he is willing to do a job for the team in search of club glory or be a primadonna.
Oliver, London

More from Planet Sport: The future stars of tennis. (Tennis365)

Pogba v Mourinho part II
I think Alex kind hits the nail on the head with Pogba and Mourinho playing him out of position but really this is par for the course for Mourinho. I can’t think of another manager who cares less about what a player’s best position is than he does about where he can play him to get the best out of his ‘attributes’. Pogba’s big, fast, strong and mobile – that’s predominantly what Mourinho sees and that’s all he cares about. He’s got a history of shunting players around to the supposed detriment of their ‘best position’ – not that I necessarily buy the argument that just because someone makes a name themselves in a certain role that’s necessarily where they should always play – and I don’t see his hand being forced any time soon. Add to that he’s a bit of a stubborn git when it comes to being told where he should play his players and I’ve no doubt he takes a certain pride in moulding players in his image.

That said, Pogba’s talent is undeniable and it does seems fairly apparent that playing so deep for United and France doesn’t allow him to show it that often. It’ll be interesting to see who blinks first – Mourinho or Pogba – and you can be damn sure he’d play wherever the fun he wanted if he was at Real or PSG.

Time will tell I guess.
Simon CFC


Juan Mata in a midfield three?
Since it’s Friday, the day where silliness gets a pass, here’s a (ludicrous, unworkable) tactical suggestion to help Messrs Mourinho and Pogba: a midfield three of Pogba, Matic and… Juan Mata.

Wow. Crikey. What mind magic is this? Well, here’s the kicker: stick Mata in deep, behind Pogba on the left and Matic on the right. You have Pogba in his apparent favoured role, free to attack and cause merry chaos up top. You have Matic focused on the defensive side higher up the park, in theory preventing Utd’s issue of sitting too deep and inviting pressure. (Also, Matic is a lot more creative himself than he seems to get credit for.) And then you have lovely Juan, the gorgeous conduit, fulfilling his destiny as the impish conductor, nay CATALYST, of this stale giant.

Up top you have one less attacker to rotate – and can perhaps stick Lingard out right, keeping his game-affecting instincts on the park. For my money, a fluid three of Martial, Rashford, Sanchez, Lingard would cause more damage than what they have now with Lukaku an ever-present.

At the back you continue to have a reckless mix of old, unsuited, and quite shit. Plus De Gea.

There are zero holes in this idea.
Doug (donate 1% of your stupid ideas to the Mailbox) Glasgow


Sanchez the new Rooney
In Alexis Sanchez we have signed the south American Wayne Rooney. It’s already been picked up on how much he’s disrupted the teams play by moving Martial out of position and wandering into Lingard’s territory with his all action style seeking out possession of the ball. This situation is no different to Rooney in his last couple of seasons with us, this includes the wages he held us ransom for which was possibly the only reason why he warranted a place on the teamsheet.

You would’ve thought we’d learnt our lesson but we’ve just handed Sanchez at the age of 29 a 4 year contract for an obscene amount of money. What does this mean for future plans for the squad whether they’re external recruits or talent promoted from youth? With his wages and influence on the team I can only see a hindrance to the likes of Marcus Rashford, Andreas Pereira, Angel Gomes and supposed acquisitions like Griezman (or whoever is looking for an improved contract!).

This isn’t a criticism of Sanchez himself, he’s a supremely talented footballer who’s grasped the opportunity for a big pay rise as anyone would do; he just isn’t a good fit for us and I just don’t get the logic behind his signing? Our best performances this season have shown there wasn’t much that needed tweaking, if anything I felt as much as our left side was talented it was becoming predictable. Call me old fashioned but I was screaming out for a right sided winger who could carry the ball forward and have enough guile to cut back and shoot or cross inside the far post because let’s face it Lukaku isn’t likely to get on the end of them so it’s not worth the effort of getting to by-line to cross from there.

The answer surely would’ve been Riyadh Mahrez who has earnt his opportunity for the next step up; no disrespect to Leicester who were Premier League winners with him but Mahrez only has to look at the example of Cristiano Ronaldo going from Man U to Real Madrid and what he has achieved since. It’s becoming apparent to me the Sanchez signing was to get one over Guardiola and City and the board boasting about shirt sales and social media trends is quite frankly embarrassing on par with those who gloat net spend over sporting success.

As much as it pains me to say it, Klopp has a plan and it has been apparent as far back as when he signed Mane even though I’ll admit I did raise eyebrows at the time. He has since signed players to fit his high press system, his signature style and it is starting to pay dividends.

I’m not sure what the purpose of this rant is, guess I can see us falling like Gemma Collins through the stage floor.. there’ll be concern from some but it will be hilarious to the rest
Wass (I was against the signing of Lukaku too) MUFC


The only constant is change
With the current rumours of a rift between Jose and Pogba and the former’s inability to find the best position for the latter to make use of his obvious talents it got me thinking…

The most successful long term managers change their team’s playing style and formation to suit the current trends of the game. Fergie had to do it. Check out the different style of play between the 98/99  and the 07/08 Champions League winning teams. Wenger came in and revolutionised English football and was very successful in the 90s/early 00s but he is now too stubborn to alter his team’s playing style to reflect the current trends in the game and thus his multiple talent-ladened teams have under achieved and not won a league for over a decade now.

I think it is fair to say that Jose’s legacy is being becoming more and more aligned with that of Wenger’s – revolutionising the way the game is played and in turn becoming very successful in his early years but also reluctant to change his approach to suit the current trends of the game due to his stubbornness and thus becoming unsuccessful.

Jose revolutionised the game in the 00’s with the Makalele role and counter attack defensive approach but he hasn’t changed that approach since and has carried the same approach to the game with Man United. He is trying to shoehorn talented players into his view of how the game should be played rather than set up the team to make the most of their talents.

I know the Jose fans will say he is still successful and that he won the League Cup and Europa League last year but let’s call a spade a spade and recognise that Man United are about competing for and winning the Premier League and Champions League (and making a truck load of marketing cash in the process).

Ultimately, I think Jose’s legacy at United will be defined by whether or not he lowers his ego and adapts his approach to the current trends of the game in order to become as successful as he was in the earlier part of his management career.
Simon P, Dublin


Get rid
Dear Barca,

Bellierin definitely has Barca DNA – please come take him back.

Honestly, I’m at the stage where I wonder whether Arsenal should just bite the bullet and cancel Jenkinson’s loan and bring him back into first team action.

Bellerin has been stinking the place out all season – he needs to removed from the first team and put up for sale in the summer.

Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Can I just say a hearty congratulations to the four of five British teams that won in Europe this week. Well done Manchester City, Liverpool, Celtic and Arsenal. Did the British Isles proud. And all without conceding a goal.

British football could be back to dominate Europe, wouldn’t that be great?
Stew, London


I have neither the time or the writing capabilities but can someone please send in a long mail on how bloody good Celtic were last night!
Joe, Celtic



Morals in football
I am not writing in because my club, City is being (rightly) dragged over the coals for their 1970’s/1980’s mishandling of Barry Bennell and his victims.

Obviously this being a different time, different era (different club some will say) doesn’t excuse the apparent nonchalance. What I am writing about is, that can any readers of Football 365 over the age of 16/18/21 be surprised at the moral vaccum that exists and always existed at the heart of our football clubs.

In the 2014 world cup finals, 4 pundits stood on the edge of the Copacabana beach pontificating about Louis Suarez who earlier that afternoon had bitten Chellini- only 1 Gordon Strachan called it for what it was, the other 3 were advocating big punishments and being sacked by Liverpool.

Well they didn’t sack him when he bit someone wearing the Liverpool shirt, or when he racially abused an opponent so why would they wearing his national team colours? Only Strachan said that football clubs will not care about any of that because he is valuable to them, he would apologise and get his move to Barca.

City’s ex-chairman admitted to Joey Barton that the only reason he wasn’t being sacked was because he was too valuble.

Everyone knows some stories about players getting away with certain heinous crimes which would result in most people serving time but after being paid off by the player/club the stories disappear.

I’m afraid it will be the same for Child abusers- maybe not now hopefully but previously and going forward it will be.

Aki. ( Steve Fleet is one of the most loveliest genuine men you will ever meet)


Net spend
Lots of emails on net spend in this morning’s mail box…but I only got through to the end of the first one by SS.

The key flaw in his/her analysis is that the business of United, Liverpool et al is football, not trading human beings for profit as if they are stocks and shares. They invest in players in order that they can play. By playing, they aim to generate income through ticket sales, prize money, and lucrative endorsements with official noodle partners (sadly). One would hope their chosen team wins stuff too, obviously…

Income generated from sales is just one factor in that so net spend is (while not entirely unimportant). If a club can make a transfer profit without detriment to the team then great, but it is not the be all and end all that you’d think it is reading the mailbox sometimes!

Given that Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham are three of the most commercially successful teams, boasting about low net spend grates because it is disguising something that is arguably a negative. The biggest clubs in the modern game have all been bold about investing in players to deliver success on the pitch, which in turn generates profits, which in turn means that nobody cares about their bloody net spend.

Clubs are allowed to invest in their squads, and as long as they are investing within their means (so, not doing a Leeds), I don’t particularly care about whether the club I support has a low net spend.
Andy (United)


I feel like we’ve been through this before in the mailbox, but the constant back and forth over net spend, outrageous transfer fees, whether it all matters or not is just completely boring, and also misses several factors that inform the reality of football transfers and economics.

Firstly, generally the cost of players is amortised over the course of their contact, so a player tends to cost £X million per year over the course of their contract. It’s generally not as simple as the way it is reported in the media, because it just isn’t as glamorous. The actual spend of a given transfer can change depending on when a player is sold. There’s an excellent video on YouTube that covers this off pretty comprehensively, using Angel Di Maria’s Manchester United stay as an example.

Secondly, the concept of net spend, and also the prices clubs ultimately pay for players, is surely just relevant to each club. Manchester United don’t particularly need to be concerned regarding net spend, because their revenue is absolutely massive. I’m not arguing the merits and de-merits of it either way, but I don’t think their business model is too much concerned about making large sums of money back from player sales. Of course they want a sensible return on an asset, but they also don’t rely on it as heavily. For someone like Tottenham, this is more pronounced as they don’t have the revenue that Man Utd do, so have to maximise income elsewhere.

This then also informs the prices clubs pay for players as well. Manchester City and Manchester United spend a hell of a lot on players, I’m certainly not arguing that they don’t, but the same players being bought by another club would not cost as much – selling clubs know that these clubs can pay more, and so they will.

I’m actually boring myself now talking about it – apart from using it as a stick to beat opposing fans, and occasionally putting a club’s achievements into perspective, why do we care? Maybe it’s because I’m neutral and don’t have my club’s identity riding on it, but why does it really matter? Surely we follow football for the 90 mins, not for the accounting?
Martin, Brighton


David Morris – I’d never shout at you, so here’s my take on why the net spend thing can be seen as a bit of a cop out.

Various other mail box contributors have mentioned the business side of professional clubs and why net spend is important in that regard.

Fine – no argument.

But when we talk about how much a manager has spent on a team – how much he’s earned back is essentially irrelevant. If I sell my car for £5k and buy a new one for £7k…I’ve still spent £7k on a new car. Now, the actual cost to me in real terms is decidedly less than that  – there’s not a £7k hole in my bank account. But I still spent £7k on a new car.

You say: “Surely one must take into account players sold and bought when deciding how much a manager has spent on his team?” I think when assessing how much money a manager or a team has spent it’s to give an idea of the ( laughable I know ) value assembled for the money spent. Again using the car analogy: I sell my car for £5k. I buy a new car for £6k. Turns out the new car is really only worth a grand and it dies off after a year. Is it OK because my net spend was only £1k so I’m where I should be? Or have I in fact spent £6k on a sh*tbox?

The reason we talk about transfer fees is to look at the value obtained ( performance against cost I suppose ). Just my opinion though.

To be honest though, the money in football now is almost an abstract concept. The price of teams at the top end is essentially irrelevant.
Doug, AFC, Belfast


People seem to be getting very high on their hobby horse these days on both sides of a fruitless argument. Ah yes, the beauty of Net Spend (© Liverpool F.C. 2002). The two arguments seem to be:

1) Aren’t we great, we’ve achieved all this and hardly spend anything overall; and

2) You guys are idiots, Net Spend is a made up thing to account for your failures.

To debunk both myths is rather simple in my view: both are right. You’re arguing with each other over two different things. Person A is arguing about the financial acumen of the business administration of the football club. Their point is that the club has been financially savvy in their transfer dealings, and they are correct to say that from a business perspective they have done well.

Person B is arguing that, irrespective of net spend, you’ve still had a significant expenditure to get to where you are. Their point is that it doesn’t matter where your money came from (killing rival oligarchs, corrupt US conglomerates, ripping off a rival team for an above average player), you’ve still spent a lot of money. And guess what, they are correct too – the club has spent a lot on players regardless of where that cash came from in the first place.

I verge towards preferring the 2nd opinion, mainly because I think “Net Spend” is also an indicator of high attrition i.e. you buy and sell a lot. This opens an interesting counter to 2) which is that the club could only spend a lot on players because they’re also selling a lot. However, I think that should be seen as being unable to get a settled team or making lots of poor transfer decisions before you make the right one. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing, or an indicator that the manager has done anything particularly special.

Anyway, can we all just agree that some teams have better financial control than others, and that actually it doesn’t mean the manager is a genius at all? Great, thanks.
Alex, (That’s that cleared up then….until the summer), Ayr


There is one simple reason net spend is often derided – it can mask what amounts to negligent transfer activity on the part of a manager.

If we refer to the big sales of both Suarez and Bale for their respective clubs and who was purchased ostensibly using those funds, on a net spend basis the amount invested was very low. However, can any fan of those particular clubs claim to have been happy with the way those funds were spent? I doubt it. Therefore vast swathes of cash were ultimately wasted and unless you’re one of the oil clubs, this has an impact.

This is not to denigrate the measure completely, it can serve to highlight particularly good squad management which, currently, Klopp looks to be pulling off.
Andy (MUFC)


Solid idea
When you get to a certain age, you have to retake your driving test to ensure you are not a menace to other road users.

Following Martin Keown, Johns’ Barnes & Aldridge’s comments on Danny Welbeck and Liverpool’s “striker problem”, can we please introduce some sort of test that ex pro’s must pass before being paid to give their opinions?

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