Mails: Scholes, Giggs and Neville as a team

Date published: Tuesday 29th September 2015 9:48 - Daniel Storey

A varied morning Mailbox, with thoughts on Jack Grealish, a Manchester United coaching team, City resilience, James Morrison, Mauricio Pochettino, luck and penalties…

Anything to add on these or any other subjects? Mail us at


A long (and good) one on Grealish
So the inevitable has happened, and Jack Grealish has committed his international future to England. Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Ireland as we lose a potential mainstay of our national team to his country of birth.

Some of your readers may be slightly bemused to think that a kid with about a dozen senior appearances could cause a huffluff with so simple a decision, but any production line of talent has long ago ground to a halt in Ireland. Seamus Coleman is the last Premier League regular we produced, even though he’s the wrong side of 25.

We’ve now had our pr*cks royally teased by Grealish, who represented us throughout the youth  ranks before turning his back on the Irish setup at the eleventh hour. C’est la vie – I for one am not shedding any tears. Thinking about this from the perspective of the lad himself though, the decision looks a tad iffy. He was basically guaranteed a 100 cap career in the Irish midfield, barring injury problems, and that career would have begun within the next 6-9 months. Should Ireland qualify for the Euros next year, it’s not improbable that Grealish would have forced his was into that squad in time for the tournament.

Contrast the above with the experience Grealish is likely to have in the England setup. The competition for places in much more intense, and one suspects that Roy’s squad for next summer is pretty much set in stone already. Fast forward 12 months, and if he’s still at Villa Park he’ll have to light up the league to force his way in (as opposed to the ease with which Tom Cleverley wandered in having just set foot on the pitch for United).

Looking further ahead, if Grealish does manage to get himself a foothold in the England squad he probably guarantees himself 3-4 tournaments more than he could hope to reach with the Irish side.

However, his chances of winning anything are still almost nil as we all know. Furthermore, the  likelihood is that at least one of those tournaments will be a complete flop and the side will return home with howls of derision ringing in their ears. As he himself will be aware, that didn’t even happen to the Irish lads after their disastrous Euro 2012 showing.

On balance, the lad has increased his chance of international glory from 0% to maybe 10%, while ensuring that the level of competition preventing him from building that side of his career increases tenfold. Playing for the English national team has always had the look of a poisoned chalice to a casual observer, due to the disparity between the hype and the reality. Hopefully, for Grealish’s sake, his decision turns out to be the best one for him when he looks back on it in 15 years’ time.
Keith Reilly, MUFC, Dublin


‘Accusing City of lacking resilience is laughable’
I found it a bit amusing when you get a poor result from man city and you get all these theories, such as a supposed lack of “resilience”. You compared City v Spurs to United.

Well, City were playing away to a top-six team, with only one barely fit and out of form striker, the main playmakers (Silva/Nasri) missing, the entire first choice back five. And yet, while a full strength United were awful against Southampton, City had battered Spurs in the first half.

That’s resilience for you. And the difference was, while City were at the receiving end of two truly awful offside decisions, United were the kind recipient of a free offside goal. Reverse those and injury-hit City would be five points clear.

Pellegrini very rightly refused to make excuses. Just like the away game against United last year, a 4-2 loss with two offside goals against us. City and Pellegrini didn’t moan about it, they went on to win their last six games.

Frankly, accusing a team that won the league in 2012 and 2014 the way we did, calmly winning match after match at the end under immense pressure, of lacking mental strength is laughable.
(MC – 1) Southampton finished close to Spurs last season. 2) City weren’t missing their entire back five. 3) United won. City lost 4-1. 4) If winning the title with *that* Aguero goal is ‘calmly winning match after match’, you need to seek bigger thrills)


West Brom vs Everton conclusions
* It’s a weird coincidence that a West Brom Everton game has made it to Monday Night Football 3 seasons in a row. We had one of Pepe Mel’s first games in 2013/14 (maybe the first?), the Baines/Mirallas penalty last season and now this. Given the aggregate scoreline was 0-0 from the other two I’m pleasantly surprised Sky continued with their investment in this fixture, but puzzled as to why. Seriously, why Everton v West Brom on a Monday night?

* James McCarthy. Seriously. Scousers only appreciate that stuff if it’s done by someone in a red shirt with ‘8’ on the back, Blues do not. Pack it in, or face being dropped for Tom Cleverley/Darron Gibson *shudder*

* Deulofeu was the main man tonight. Great to watch a proper winger terrorise a defence. I said before the game that Duelfuel was the main target given Brunt was at left back and wouldn’t cover well – we need to continue in the same vein v the other lot, because they’ll go with either Moreno (see Brunt) or Gomez.

* It is incredibly frustrating, and a knock to Matrinez’ management of ‘sterile domination’ that we needed to go to the two up top tactic to get the win today – is his vision of Tika Taka doomed?

* In saying that, Everton are showing a pattern of results which bodes well for the derby – for people of both persuasions! Against good teams expected to beat us we’ve played with a great intensity that has seen us give two bloody noses (Saints (A) and Chelsea (H)), against teams we’re expected to beat we’ve struggled unless we’ve been behind (Watford (H) and WBA (A)) – so if you believe the narrative we’ll either give a bloody nose to a better ‘ranked team’, or struggle to stick the knife into vulnerable opponents [I am very aware I have omitted two 0-0s v Spurs and the Swans and a humping by Citeh].

* Back to tonight and I’m still amazed of the stick Rom gets. Yes, he should be in the box more because he’s deadly there. But he also needs to link the play. Therefore, Naismith and particularly Barkley need to get in the box more (if we want to utilise GDs early delivery more)

* I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times but no matter how good Barkley is; he has a really annoying habit of losing his mind when dribbling

*Rom will be the top scorer in the league next season, and if Stones and Barkley are still there, then it will all be worth it (i.e. we’ll finish 4th)

* Unfortunately, I feel both Naismith and Kone are impact subs and struggle when start – they will both be rotated endlessly based on good sub appearances – Bobby, leave them both on the bench v that lot

* First time Everton have won from 2-0 down in the league since that game v the Dons

* Short Version: Without Berahino, WBA are done for

* Long Version: WBA looked good on the ball and Morrison is a fantastic player, but ultimately the conservatism of the coach and the ambitions mean that there will a glass ceiling. Yacob, Brunt, Morrison and Saido would ease into an XI of a club trying to break into the Europa

* Funes Mori is a like for like replacement of Alcaraz
Matt, EFC, London


James Morrison: He gives you something
Just wanted to send in my praise for West Brom midfielder, James Morrison, this morning.

What a player he is. It is such a shame that he couldn’t do more with his football career because he has some excellent natural talent and, even in defeat yesterday, his performance was outstanding.

Having not watched a lot of West Bromwich Albion games in the last few years, I will definitely be doing so to watch the lad play.
Malcolm, AFC


Pochettino: It’s not luck
While am generally ambivalent towards Mauricio Pochettino and his Hotspur side, I do feel that Charlie, THFC, Somerset has done him a bit of a disservice.

Charlie writes “Last season, Pochettino stumbled upon Mason and Bentaleb as a serviceable midfield partnership, more through luck than judgement. This season, he has stumbled upon Dier and Alli as a combo, and they both look totally at home at Premier League level”.

I don’t claim to know what happens at Tottenham’s training sessions, but I am fairly certain that the manager will be there in some capacity, evaluating his players and, if you like, using his judgement to determine whether or not they are ready for the first team.  In the event of an injury crisis, I would expect the manager and his coaches to be working with the deputising players to get them up to speed.

Over at Crystal Palace, we have had team selections that have made fans go “eh?”, but the real explanation is similar to that at Spurs – the manager is simply applying what has been worked on in training, rewarding players who have trained well with playing time.  There is, I will concede, an element of luck when two players come together as well as Mason and Bentaleb, or Alli and Dier, but it’s more likely something that has been worked on extensively in training.

At the start of last season, Iain McIntosh made the point on Guardian Football Weekly that Pochettino’s biggest obstacle at Spurs was that there were a lot of players who had become multi-millionaires without having ever really worked for it, or without winning very much.

This meant it was harder to foster a spirit of togetherness and tireless work ethic required for the Poch pressing game, which he’d used well at Soton by appealing to the chips on the shoulders of the players who’d dragged themselves up from League One.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven (Alli & Dier > Ali Dia), CPFC the Glaziers, Notts


One-eyed on Rooney to MLS
I remember around the time United last won the Champions League my mate saying to me “we’ve probably already seen the best of Wayne Rooney. With the build he’s got he’s only going to become more slow and useless”. He’s an Arsenal fan and biased in the extreme, but he has a knack for making long-term predictions that come true (as well as taking a hundred quid or so off me over the years) and I have to say it’s time we all accepted that it was true. You can’t deny that Rooney is an exceptionally talented individual but he’s always been a street footballer that made it big and Moyes nor LVG or any England manager (apart from Sven, but Rooney really was just that good in 2004) could do what Sir Alex mostly did, which is to help him apply his talents on an 11 a side football pitch at the highest level.

I think Wayne Rooney has had to play far too many high pressure football games in his career and combined with his build it’s clear he can’t keep up. There is no way his goals are going to fire us to any titles and it really looks as though Mata, Herrera and Martial are flourishing and the priority in United’s future attacking play (right now we’re too unstable to unleash it – LVG gets criticized every week but he’s doing the right thing) so really the only reason we’re keeping Rooney is that he’s too expensive to sell. He became bigger than the club (can we all ignore Ferguson’s vanity projects for a moment – great manager but clearly a nob and Rooney getting paid more than him was definitely the real reason he left) and now we’re stuck with him.

Playing in the MLS would be great for him. He’d be treating his wife and kids to some culture (ha) getting paid an amount he’d probably settle for and who knows, maybe his international performances might resemble something close to that expected of an England captain (best ever England player? I’d day Linekar, Shearer and Owen were lightyears ahead of him in the striker department alone) which we all want to see, right?

Thanks for the memories Wayne. Will never forget how you played from 2002-2009 and that overhead kick against City was special (worthy winner of best ever premiership goal) but time to move on. I’d say stay and help Martial settle but he’s doing a pretty good impression of you from 11 years ago.
Rikin, Mexico City


Giggs, Scholes and Neville as a United coaching team
I’m not entirely convinced that Ryan Giggs will be ready for Man Utd when LvG retires but I’d certainly prefer him to Ancelotti.

More than Giggs though, I’m intrigued to see how Scholes and Gary Nev fare in management. Nev’s obviously a well-rated coach with England and an intelligent pundit… Scholesy’s punditry is less enlightening but by all accounts he’s got a lot of the qualities required to succeed. A coaching team featuring those three would not surprise me.

Incidentally, it’ll never happen but I’d also love to see how David Beckham would approach the game as a manager. He worked under a fair few of the best (and some bang average ones at Galaxy) and I’d be interested to see which style he favoured.

It’s all just wishful thinking though.
Alex Lancaster


Ramires: A funny one
In response to, Lawless PNE.  Ramires is a curious beast.

He really is a very good player (Easily the best Brazilian CM in English Football), but he has this strange affliction. (and it happens too often, to not be ‘a thing’)

When he has no time to think (e.g. Barcalona away 2012) he does some incredible things, but when he has more than 1 second to think, he is useless. Often passing the ball out of play when finding a team mate would be easier!  His decision making (when he has time) is what really lets him down.
Neil, Surrey


Take penalties from the spot of the foul
While watching the Watford – Crystal Palace match on Sunday, I too like Alex AFC was wondering if there might be a better way to handle penalties than the current system of putting the ball on the spot for any foul called in the box.

Now don’t get me wrong – the call was spot on and credit to the referee for seeing it and furthermore checking his call before awarding it.  However, it DOES seem a little unfair that fouls that far away from goal are deemed worthy of a penalty, which is practically a guaranteed goal, when the likelihood of Zaha scoring or setting someone else up for the goal is a far smaller probability.

Isn’t it further annoying that the standard for fouls is different in the box than elsewhere on the field because referees are reluctant to punish them with a penalty (their only option) that could then so dramatically shift the game?

There is endless debate in the mailbox about whether penalty calls or lack thereof influenced the outcome of games.  I also hate the damage to the integrity of the game when a dive gets a team, again, a practically guaranteed goal.  My suggested solution is to have the pen taken from the spot of the foul.  Further why not make the player who was fouled take the shot?

It might not be so automatic then.  Goalies would save a much higher fraction of those awarded from fouls where a guy gets tripped (or simulates it) as soon as he enters the box or where the player was on the periphery and in no position to have a high probability of scoring.  I realize that part of the game is that a defender has to really be on top of their actions in the box and some credit for the attacker for getting in that position but the punishment should more appropriately fit the crime.
Sean AFC

How about instead of giving the attacking team a spot kick and allowing the designated penalty taker to take it, the penalty is awarded where the foul takes place in the box, and has to be taken by the player that was fouled?

Same rules other than that change, it will still be player Vs goalkeeper.

The only problem I see with this is if the foul takes place somewhere that the attacking player has no chance of getting a shot, like on the edge of the box near the goal line.

Just a thought.

Also, I think the “denying a clear goal scoring opportunity” rule should be changed to handballs (blatant cheating) = red, other = yellow.
Si – not in a brackets mood – MUFC


An odd Wenger statistic
Out of interest I was just looking to see how Wenger’s win percentage as Arsenal manager compares to George Graham (57.53% to 48.91%) and noticed something pretty mental.

As manager of Nagoya Grampus in Japan, Wenger was in charge from December 1994 until September 1996 and oversaw 56 games.

56 games: 38 wins; 18 losses. Not a single draw.

I’m sure something could be inferred about his tactical nous (or lack thereof) from that. I just thought it was pretty interesting.
Greg Benham, AFC


Oh good, another dig when I’m tired and have a cold
Are you sure that was Garth Crooks in Mondays “Me, myself and I” bit in Mediawatch?

That looks exactly like a Daniel Storey piece to me, as I pointed out here, here and said before here.
Johnny Ironballs

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