Mails: So, Laurent Blanc for Man United?

Daniel Storey

A lovely variation this morning. Keep them coming to


Laurent Blanc for United?
As I was watching the Chelsea vs PSG game, a thought crossed my mind. Since Van Gaal’s job has been on the line, many managers have been touted as potential replacements, but Jose, Pochettino and Giggs have been at the forefront of the cue. How come no one’s mentioned Laurent Blanc?

Albeit in a weak Ligue Un, Blanc represents a gamble but so seems any of the aforementioned three options. Mou assures instant success but leaves an environment so that Chelsea and Real haven’t fully recovered from. He doesnt even consider youth. Pochettino breeds youth but he hasn’t won anything and for a club of Utd’s stature, it is more than a risk. Giggs is a former player and fan favorite but he has NO coaching experience.

Blanc can manage a team full of superstars as shown at PSG, even his treatment of Aurier shows he is disciplined and uncompromising. He develops youth too, shown by his bringing through of Rabiot, Ongenda, Coman (yes, the Bayern one) and the purchase of Marquinhos and Digne.

Having been a former Utd player, he also ticks the box of someone who knows the club and he got on well with Sir Alex as a player.

You might counter all these by saying he has failed on the European stage but having qualified from the group stage at least in the past 3 yrs, most Utd fans would take that. PSG have loads of cash but United is also f**king rich, and he didn’t spend 250m to exit the UCL to Wolfsburg and PSV. Only Real, Benfica, Barca and Chelsea have beaten them in the UCL in the last 3 years.

He can even perform above budget. Take his former club, Bordeaux for instance. In his second season, he did the league and cup double and since he left they haven’t finished in the top 4 since. He didn’t turn winners to sh*t (Mou, anyone?), he transformed a mid table Bordeaux team into winners for at least a season.

Mourinho may know how to spend huge sums of cash wisely, Poch may play attractive football and blood youth, Giggs may be a former player and a fan’s favorite; but Blanc combines the qualities of these three expertly. United should snap up the French Ranieri.
Nedu, Nigeria


Wanting Hazard out of Chelsea
Mr. Eden Hazard
, with his ‘I’m the best footballer in the playground’ walk. And his perma-wince.

Please leave. We have enough pacey and skilled players, the majority of whom look a lot more interested in playing for us.


And some Chelsea conclusions
* Well, that was rather disappointing. Not a great deal of hope going into the game – PSG were guaranteed a goal and I didn’t really fancy us to hold out for penalties let alone score three- but one can but dream. Chelsea showed plenty of fight but were ultimately undone by two errors on the night and I don’t think there can be many complaints with the performance. PSG look there or there abouts this year and I hope they – like City – can finally push on in Europe.

* If we had had this Diego Costa all season, we would be sniffing around fourth spot right about now. On his game he does the work of two men and I thought last night was his best game of the season. I’m glad he seems to have finally screwed his head on but it’s all rather bittersweet given his dogsh*te form and woeful shape for the first half of the season. Wonderful dummy and finish for the equalizer, shame he’s still mainly held together with PVA glue and angry thoughts.

* Willian was excellent, again. The worrying thing now is he’s starting to look a little to good for us right now. At 27, and with no Champions League next year, I suspect Chelsea may have a genuine fight on to keep hold of him this summer. Was really impressed by Fabregas, Trapp and Rabiot as well. Just imagine Coquelin and Rabiot at Arsenal for a minute. Man, Arsene really should have made a mov…

* We need to talk about Thibaut. Made a couple of smart stops but I’m growing unconvinced of his ability to dominate the box like he did last year. I was screaming at him to come out a challenge Di Maria for the ball in the opening stages and it was only for some grade A last-ditchery that we weren’t behind within 10 minutes. Trepidation has seen him second best to a number of strikers this season and the whispers of ‘Cech would have saved that’ are getting louder.

* This is probably Mikel’s third renaissance season (at least) but tonight was a good example as to why he’s been a great servant but just not quite of a high enough calibre to dominate a midfield at this level. I know that’s no easy feat – few footballers can do this – but he’s a little too sluggish of the mark and indecisive to really disrupt a team of PSG’s quality and in a game when we can’t afford to simply retreat to the edge of our box, he’s found wanting. The ball Lucas played in to Di Maria was a 50/50 in my book and Mikel blinked first leaving the Brazilian to feed the ball for the cross. Maybe I’m being too harsh – he was only on a yellow because he had had to bail the team out earlier on – but I reckon this genuinely was a bridge too far for Mikel and the sooner Matic gets bored of his existential crisis the better.

* I can’t fault Guus too much for any decisions last night, maybe for leaving Baba on the bench given how well he played in Paris, but on the whole I’m not sure what else he could have done last night. I was pleased to see him give Traore the nod over Remy when Costa came off- I like him but he’s just not been able to cut the mustard at Chelsea. So little to work with on that bench which says a lot when you consider the fact we had the better part of £70m sat there and at not point did I really want to see Oscar or Matic warming up.

* Last but not least – Eden Hazard. Yeah I mean he was fine, wasn’t he. Fine. Fine is nice and all but when you’re as f*cking gifted as he is with a football and your team really needs you to conjure up some magic sauce, fine just doesn’t quite cut it. I’ve always had my reservations about his commitment to the cause and I don’t believe for one minute that shirt swap bullsh*t wasn’t staged. He’s starting to play like the other 21 players on the pitch owe him something and he’s gone from being able to tough it out to looking disinterested the second someone doesn’t let him play his game. I haven’t got a huge problem with mercenaries – they’re all mercenaries at the end of the day – but it does grate watching professional athletes play within themselves. He better hope Chadli slows down or he’s in danger of coasting himself out of Wilmot’s plans this summer.
Simon CFC


Why no tears were shed for Di Maria
Matt Stead’s piece on Angel Di Maria and his failed time at United seems to level the blame at the wrong man. I don’t think Louis Van Gaal ruined Angel Di Maria’s attempt at settling in. Di Maria could’ve been great, but I’d rather support someone who is in love with Manchester United as I am. Fanciful? Perhaps, but then I am in the small minority of fans who is thoroughly enjoying these last three seasons (almost more than the glory ridden years I’m used to). I digress.

Put Angel Di Maria in this United starting XI/squad and suddenly the squad seems complete and balanced. If Di Maria and Depay were to be first choice wingers, then Mata automatically slots into the #10 role and Rooney and Martial (plus Wilson/Fellaini) seem enough for the single striking position. Put Di Maria in this line up and United almost have the perfect blend of left footers and right footers, (alleged) crossers and cut-in-shooters, etc. My point is that Van Gaal would not have wanted to let go of ADM if he could’ve helped it and it seems all planning last summer (transfers etc) were done with half a hope that Di Maria would reverse his decision (hence the mad dash for a world star in the last few weeks of the window as opposed to the first couple months).

Di Maria was welcomed by the club in all the ways he demanded to be and deserved to be. Fans loved him and begged him to stay till the last day. Yes, Van Gaal fiddled with his positions in the early part of 2014-15 but Di Maria was never going to fit into a system with three at the back, not in his first season in English football.

Regardless, the 3-5-2 was scrapped and Di Maria was then given a go on the wing and in the center where he proved less useful than Young and Fellaini respectively. Despite this too, everyone whispered that it was Young and Fellaini’s positions that were untenable and Di Maria would eventually (last season or this) come into his own and demand a starting spot. He was afforded an infinite amount of time and patience (both of which he ultimately decided not to use) due to his reputation, ability and the number on his back.

Ultimately it didn’t work for one of two reasons:

1) The burglary he never recovered from: it is incredibly unfair for anyone to criticize Di Maria over this matter but I’d like the liberty (admittedly, without any facts if the incident whatsoever) to just say that most lads from Rosario are way tougher. Unfair to say, yes, but it is equally unfair that most common men and women go through similar and worse experiences but don’t have the option of an improved number on millions in a nicer city to just jump to. Sometimes you gotta knuckle down and Di Maria didn’t/couldn’t.

2) the philosophy: Ah the dreaded f*cking philosophy. Let’s forget the exact philosophy and address the bigger issue here: Ruud Van Nistelroy scored over a hundred goals for United but was told to do one as soon as him and the Gaffer disagreed; David Beckham, Jaap Stam are two more players who were relatively more important to United than Di Maria but told do one when they crossed the man in charge. For the same reason, I’m glad Di Maria was told to do one too. THAT’s one of my favorite things about my club: no one is ever bigger than the club (except Wayne Rooney) and the man in charge is the f****** man in charge. This is how clubs don’t become managerial sh*t-holes like the hotseat at Chelsea.

Perhaps Van Gaal wasted Di Maria or perhaps the Argentine had made his own mind up. I feel Di Maria, much like Eden Hazard, would’ve been a player highly capable of the magical but subdued for the majority of the season. We would not have seen the same player that gave his heart and soul winning La Decima with Real or getting to the semi-finals with Argentina. He lacked the commitment; that he still got ten assists in his maiden season of English football is a mark of his quality and, again, he could’ve still been special.

Alas, his heart wasn’t here which is difficult to accept as a United fan but for that reason specifically, no tears were shed on his departure. In fact, I remember pictures had emerged of him in Qatar a handful of days before United sanctioned the deal officially, so f*** him.
Emad MUFC Boston


There’s a saying in my native language which roughly translates to No matter what happens, the entire fault is his. That seems to be the case presently at Man United, starting from shit football to literally shit; everything is his (LvG’s) fault (which in certain circumstances is accurate). But, Mr Stead, in no way am having that Di Maria’s form after November was his fault.

In an interview after he left United, he had told that Man United was never his preferred destination, and as he couldn’t join PSG in the summer he left Real Madrid due to financial circumstances, he joined United. I remember vividly, in the months immediately after he joined United, there were talks of him going to PSG.

That is football’s equivalent to keeping one foot out of the front door. After the red card against Arsenal, United hit a purple patch and won quite a few games on the go, no wonder LvG didn’t want to change the side, but it wasn’t like he wasn’t afforded chances. He had quite a few substitute appearances in which he was utter dross (over-hitting crosses by miles and catching high balls with his hands).

I admit to the fact that LvG isn’t the type of manager who gives players a lot of freedom (in terms of roaming around or changing positions), but as far as his “philosophy” goes, he wants players not to take risks until the third transition, which in simple words is till the ball reaches the final third, which kind of makes sense, since if they lose the ball they have central midfielder(s) covering a counter attack from the opposition.

Di Maria, more or less (except a few initial matches) played on the wings, or as a number 10, or with RvP at the front which gave him the license to more or less do what he did last night for PSG. All I remember him doing was losing the ball infinite number of times trying to dribble indecisively, shooting near the corner flag and rolling on the floor when anyone touched him (some things never change).

It was like watching Townsend. We can’t blame LvG for a player generally not giving a s**t, and trying to leave from the back door. Hell he stayed in England for a whole year and the amount of English he speaks is a clear indicator of his willingness to stay at Manchester.
Soumalya (probably the Manchester weather didn’t help either) India


No Louis, this isn’t ‘just another game’
I’m afraid LVG is another foreign manager who has come into the Premiership and just not realised the hostilities that abound within England when it comes to football. It’s a big, big part of supporters’ lives. Even mine, because the first, formative third of my life was in Manchester and I ended up as a Manchester United fan. For life.

I’m talking here of his comments that Liverpool are not the enemy (of United) and that they are just another opponent. Right! Good luck with that one, Louis. And then he goes on to say some nice, pleasant things (blah, blah…) but what he doesn’t seem to realise or to know deep, deep down in his groin, is that Liverpool are THE enemy and they have been for decades.

We, United, had a really big game against Arsenal just recently and that is a game that normally gets the blood flowing. But the crowd noise at that game, although loud enough, was a fraction of that of the Arsenal vs Spurs game. Now that was loud and it’s probably because both sets of supporters really, really don’t like each other. And so it is with United and Liverpool supporters. And we’ve got another really big game coming up against Man. City but even that local derby falls short of the excitement and fervour of a United vs Liverpool game. It’s just the way it is. And if both the teams were actually competing for top honours like Arsenal and Spurs are, well the noise at either ground would just be phenomenal.

And so it was in an Australia vs England friendly international some years back under Sven-Goran Eriksson. England fielded a pretty full team at Upton Park in the first half only to be losing 2-0 at half-time. (And we, England that is, played like crap. Absolute crap). Eriksson changed the entire team at half-time and introduced a completely new team of youngsters. Yes, all eleven were changed and Australia ended up winning 3-1 at the end.

Now I doubt if any one of you would realise this but, over here, commentators were calling it a Test Match even though it was friendly. A Test Match, for God’s sake. They were all shiny-eyed and sporting stiffies, doing the glad-handing stuff! It was excruciating. Even people who knew nothing about the game at all (and that’s most of them) were piling crap on me for weeks afterwards as though I’d been on the pitch myself. And so I nearly put my foot through the TV when Sven said a few days later that he had no idea of the sporting rivalry between the two nations, otherwise he would have had his team play differently. Well, Sven, you should have known of the rivalry. You really should.

And you, Louis, should know too.
Jonesey, Melbourne


Where do Southampton go from here?
It would seem as our season is petering out after threatening to soar at a couple of points this season before crashing down in quite an explosion of individual errors and loss of confidence and/or desire (see Bournemouth away, it was difficult to watch).

Snowflake has one year left of his three-year contract, and he usually sees contracts out. So, I’m going to assume we have one more season of the affable and charming Dutchman steering the ship. What can we expect from the last season?

I would hope given the money coming-in and the lack of early European football, we can get a solid pre-season in and buy in some quality to replace the expected sales of Mané, Pellè and Wanyama. We will need another striker and central defender as well as at least one creative player to supplement Tadic. I would also hope to see the rise of some of our youth players such as Reed and Seagar, who have really struggled for any kind-of game time under Koeman. I really want to see us do well in at least one cup competition. We have threatened at times during Koeman’s reign but have failed to reach a semi-final. I would want this as a minimum.

Can we “do a Leicester” in the league? I’m not sure. I think consistent self- belief is one of our real failings. We can turn over any club, at anytime, but, like a lot of other bigger teams, we cannot seem to avoid huge drops in form during more than one stage of the season.

Either way I think it will be a more interesting and entertaining season than this one, but I won’t be paying to renew the rip-off £25 membership which gave basically no benefit at all. Cheeky Liebherrs ;).
Jon (his hilarious dismantling of England during Taylor’s reign is now forgiven), Southampton


Managerial bluffers
At the time of writing Steve McClaren has not been sacked by Newcastle, but it seems just a matter of time now. He’s looked out of his depth all season, and after years of being unable to work out if he was over rated or underrated, I think we all finally know which it is. There’s no need to feel sorry for him. He’s an established, experienced British boss, he’s on the managerial merry-go-round, and after a bunch of sypathetic summer interviews where he makes it clear none of it was his fault, he’ll pitch up somewhere else.

It’s amazing how many jobs you can get being a total managerial charlatan. After a certain number of years you just get linked with every job going, unless you actually retire (like Sir Alex) or are Alan Curbishley.

So this got me thinking: apart from McClaren, who are the other managerial charlatans who have faked a career on the Premier League gravy train?

Harry Redknapp – 1 trophy to show for almost three decades of management, yet certain elements of the press would have you believe he was a mix of Bela Gutman, Sir Alex and Pep Guardiola. Has had virtually no success in management, and the one trophy he did win was thanks to massive overspending that almost bankrupted Portsmouth. The only other thing his reputation is built on was “discovering” Gareth Bale (even though he didn’t rate him and wanted to loan him out) and Luka Modric (who he shunted out to the left wing).

Owen Coyle – a classic bluffer, Coyle got the Bolton gig after taking Burnley up (an actual achievement, granted). If you just read the fawning media write ups and didn’t watch Bolton during his time in charge you’d be forgiven for thinking he had brought tiki-taka to the Reebok. Constantly lauded for trying to “play the right way” (which he always mentioned in his press interviews, too), Coyle’s side actually played a brand of hoof-ball, and not even a particularly effective one at that. The Zonal Marking blog famously called him out on it, but it’s amazing it took that long. Can one man – and his contacts in the media – constantly insisting a team is playing nice football actually convince people that it’s true? These days Coyle is in the MLS, having been found out over here.

Tim Sherwood – Basically just Redknapp but without a trophy. He got to an FA Cup final, though. And screwed it up because he didn’t know what he was doing.

Roberto Martinez – Talks a good game, plays attacking football, but cannot organise a defence if his job depends on it (and pretty soon, it will). Well liked for bringing the FA Cup to Wigan, he also took them down. You might say it was bound to happen eventually, but Wigan’s league record under Martinez was often worse than it had been under Jewell or Bruce. He he not won the cup final – in a game that could have gone either way – he would have been forgotten about already. He’s bluffed his way into a great job, and it looks like he’s struggling to keep it.

Who are the other managerial bluffers who keep getting gigs?
David Fox


On Arsenal’s consistency
I’ll put this ’14 years consecutively in the Champs League’ comment to bed in betting terms.

Would you rather win £10 for 14 weeks in a row or £140 on one day and blow it all in a blaze of booze infused glory?

Can get plenty drunk on £140. £10 not so much…….unless you’re a student.
Anthony (10 snakebites please kind sir, keep the change), Kilburn


Oh Harry
“Most of the offers I’m getting at the moment are from far off places in the world where I don’t feel like travelling to at the moment.”

So he HAS had an offer from Newcastle?
Stewart, Chicago


I think people have missed the big football news from yesterday. Emmanuel Eboue is back in the Premier League. I, for one, am now fully on Eboue watch.

My prediction is that when we play Sunderland at the end of April, he will give away a stupid penalty or score an own goal that puts Arsenal back in the title race.
Adonis (we would then obviously blow it the week after) Stevenson, AFC