Mails: That was Jose Mourinho’s perfect game plan

Date published: Sunday 29th October 2017 1:12

Keep those emails coming to…


Some (more) Manchester United vs Tottenham conclusions
1. That was the perfect game plan for today’s match and it worked like a charm. Spurs today were reduced to playing like we had against Liverpool, only we were more clinical today than Liverpool were that day. Small margins but a big difference.

2. Deli Alli was so subdued almost all game, and that’s where I think Spurs lost it. Young getting in his face in the first half meant that he had to dial back the intensity and, in so doing, meant he was off form. He had that one chance in the second half but wasn’t quite sharp enough to take it – if he hadn’t had to ease off would he have converted that? Probably.

3. The goal came from what looked like the only long ball that Lukaku won all game, but he picked the right moment to do so. Before that he was cutting a frustrated figure and Spurs were effectively marking him out of the game. My main criticism of him was his movement, or lack thereof. He was too often static or waiting for the ball the come to him, making it easier for the defence, and that is something he needs to work on – hopefully this is something training alongside Zlatan will improve.

4. Mkhitaryan had another poor game, though he did perk up a bit the second, and managed to create a couple of chances. Lingard was a noticeable improvement on him, which I think speaks to how poor he’s been lately.

5. I thought the back five worked pretty well actually, and wasn’t as defensive as it first appeared. Some of Bailly’s long passes weren’t great, and Jones got a bit mixed up a couple of times but it was mostly good. I wouldn’t want to play that formation in every game, but that could be a winner in the bigger games.

6. Matic and Herrera were very good in midfield, Matic especially. Considering they were outnumbered, they screened the defence well and both had success getting the ball forward too. We will still be improved by Pogba coming back but we are ok for now.

7. For any Spurs fans still unsure of the importance of trophies in football, I refer you to Harry Winks’ interview before the game. I’m paraphrasing but “I would love to win a trophy – any trophy with Spurs.” Still, I hope you enjoyed this week’s journey.

8. The weird trend of whichever of Martial and Rashford scoring when they come on as a sub continues. It’s odd and not sustainable long-term I fear, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

9. We now have the chance to secure Champions League progress from the group with two games to spare in midweek so, the defeat to Huddersfield excepted, this October has been excellent so far. There’s a long way left to go but I’m enjoying this season far more than last so far.
Ted, Manchester


On Lukaku
For a guy who doesn’t assist a lot, he assists a lot.
Shivam, MUFC (Lukasist)


Words like fighting spirit, self belief, character get thrown around easily and too often by managers in press conferences. More often than not, it feels like they wanted their teams to possess that because for the viewer it never is clearly visible.

It took a bunch of English kids to play an unbelievable match in the world cup final for me to see and understand character, belief and spirit on display. 2-0 down and then to come back and score 5. Thats amazing and stuff of champions.

I watched the semi finals in the stadium. Spain have a strong defence and were very comfortable repelling wave after wave of attacks. They were positionally strong and didnt seem ruffled. They went 2-0 up and played a counter attacking game and felt in control of the tie. Jose would be proud.

The final started off similar with 2 goals up and then the war of attrition. However, the english wingers ripped them apart. In Hudson Odoi, Sessegnon, they had two warriors who kept pushing and rattling the spanish with their speed and penetration.

Foden is already a star in our part of the world. It reminded me of Zidane in the world cup final. To play like he did despite getting a lot of attention on and off the pitch is amazing. His performance reminded me of Zidane in terms of impact in a final and it was fitting that he scored the third goal and finished off the fifth.

I wish and hope that these fearless kids go on to great things.
Sudarsan Ravi


What an incredibly unenglish performance. To come back from 2 goals down against a very good Spain team to eventually thrash them 5-2, really was quite something. Mabey one of those root and branch investigations actually found something? Ten years on it seems St Georges Park is starting to pay off the investment.

As an aside considering the success of the junior sides this summer/autumn perhaps its time to rename the senior side the U30s? Might relieve a bit of pressure, actually go and win something.
Only half joking.
TGWolf(Young Pride)THFC


On Martin Tyler’s puns
I’m really quite worried about the dramatic increase in truly awful puns being trotted out by Martin Tyler, et al. It seems that it’s now obligatory for a woefully bad pun to be crow barred into the build up before the ref can blow his whistle.

As I groaned again following the aforementioned Tyler’s spectacularly pun-tastic “they haven’t got Kane, but they’ve got the Dane” before the Utd Spurs game, it struck me that maybe they’re aware of just how bad they are, and that’s become part of the joke (aka the ‘Lineker’s jokes on MOTD’ theory).

If we ban these puns now, before they get a firmer grip, perhaps we can save the commentators the painful hours it must take on a Friday to think them up and they can do something more worthwhile (like learning to say footballers names in unusual ways: see Phil (Yag-yelka) Jagielka).
Stozzer (no relation to Daniel) Storey, London


Winks plays possession too safe
Man Utd were slow on transition and have difficulty creating opportunities, with
Mkhitaryan and Lukaku starved of the ball. Behind them is Matic, great defensively, but less so attacking wise, particularly if he hasn’t got Pogba to give the ball to. I wonder what his forward completion pass rate was like, and I wonder what % of his passes would usually go to Pogba? Interesting that some cogs need another cog to fit into.

For Spurs, young Harry Winks tirelessly recycles possession, but with barely a forward pass, and very few beyond the first man. There used to be a player called Butch Wilkins. He was also known as “The Crab” because he always went sideways. Spurs didn’t create much did they?
Matthew (ITFC)


Do we over-praise pros?
How do commentators see passes and crosses in particular that were perfect but the man/woman was not there? I have just watched Man U v. Spurs and Ashley Young apparently had a brilliant game where he put in a lot of perfect crosses / switches / passes to no one who was there. I just wonder, playing at grassroots level I was taught to look for a mate to give it to. I know where the perfect position is, but what is the point kicking it there when no one can get to the end of it? Why is that complimented constantly in matches by commentators? It just promotes shitness I think.

Same game. Throw ins. Man U’s Antonia Valencia never put it right over his head. That is penalised in my league. Also players never really ask for where the ball went out to the linesman and throw it in, in a wrong position after skipping to their preferred one. At grassroots this is never acceptable (depends on the ref though, but if he is a stickler to rules, you are bollocksed).

Does that annoy anyone else or just me?
Gary, Guangzhou,


Still ABU365, sadly
‘There have been many suggestions this and every other week that this site is somehow collectively anti-Manchester United and pro-Tottenham. Sorry but no. We are pro-football and we are not disappointed that United won this match; we are disappointed that it wasn’t an awful lot of fun.’

Yea right. Say it long enough and you may just believe it.
E Ager


Aesthetics is all about position
I recall a thread of mails a few months ago with regards to the aesthetics of football, and the visual pleasure connoted by certain techniques and motions of players. Sublime first touches and exquisitely executed full volleys etc. comprised all but the totality of the mailbox’s admiration.

However, I do believe that the aesthetics of football are more suited, in a certain sense, to be appreciated under a more abstract light. In other words, whilst I gauge and may fully enter into the sentimental admiration of specific pieces of skill and technique, I am more disposed to admire the general role of a player, and their impact on the game in a sense beyond their individual skill, goals or assists.

For example, closely observing a quality deep lying midfielder must be one of the most satisfying aspects of football viewing. These players are so admirable not for their individual magnificence, though they are obviously not entirely exempt from possessing outstanding technique, but rather for the wider and more considered impact upon a game. Causally speaking, the distribution of a team’s deep lying midfield player may be considered the most vital in controlling a football match.

Each pass, if intelligently considered by the player, may be definitive. These players are genuinely maestros, and bare inexpressible effects upon matches, manifest in the totality of their minor contributions, as opposed to goals or assist tallies.
John, Perth, (Hoping this doesn’t drown in the Spurs v UTD knee-jerk mails) Gooner


If we beat Huddersfield 3-0 I’ll look like a knob
I’m writing this before Liverpool v Huddersfield kicks off, and I’m prepared to make myself a hostage to fortune. That’s partly because the result and even the performance don’t matter that much. What’s really disappointing following last week’s shambles, and Klopp’s apparent recognition that some players had reached a point of no return, is that they are back in the starting lineup.

We have a string of matches coming up where, although I’m not taking any results for granted, there’s an opportunity to try a new system and give youngsters a chance without asking for all kinds of trouble. God knows, there are barely any regulars who could have cause for complaint if they had to sit a couple out and watch someone like Ben Woodburn take their place.

How does Klopp see this working? Players play shit; you call them out; you pick them again and they’re awesome?

So if we beat Huddersfield 3-0 I’m going to look a knob. But thinking beyond the immediate term, it’s unlikely to be a corner turned. Those players will be shit again before long, and the potential alternatives will still be wanting for experience. Meanwhile, the well of patience in Klopp will continue to dry.
Neil, LFC

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