Mails: The player Wenger’s replacement must build around…

Date published: Friday 11th May 2018 1:47

Keep your mails coming to


Granit solid
I’ve recently been far too consumed with work to be able to comment on Wenger leaving and anyway, others have said better what I would have done.

What I’d like to add though is that whoever ends up taking over next season will actually be building the team around a player who everyone seems to have overlooked. Granit Xhaka is a far better player than he has thus far proved. Ramsay goes through form then injury, Ozil has his flaws and the strikers will have barren droughts but will mostly be pretty awesome.

Xhaka needs a foil, and getting rid of Wilshere and replacing with a combative defensive midfielder would be the best way forward. Maybe even Wanyama? Whoever we get I don’t think we should neglect or overlook Xhaka as he may just turn out to be the kind of player that everyone will be questioning why we ever doubted him.

Anyway, it’s my birthday and it’s my opinion, so there.
JazGooner (#Allegriin)


Jose’s ploy
As a Man Utd fan last night’s game was as enjoyable to watch as a w&nk with sandpaper….. but Jose is being very clever.

It has been obvious for a long time that no one was catching Man City. Jose is making sure united finish as far as possible behind City this season for two reasons:

1. Bigger transfer budget in the summer
2. If we close the gap points wise next season he can claim credit for it

It is now easy and popular to call out United’s style of play but the first 4-5 games of the season they were sensational to watch and then came that game in Anfield, the first true test of whether Jose had changed his approach but he left every united fan disappointed. He reverted to his default defensive style.

In hindsight a point away to Liverpool this season looks a good result but I think it diminished the players confidence, Jose admitted to his Man Utd squad I don’t think ye are good enough. We never recovered. The confidence and swagger was wiped clean and self doubt set in.

Jose will win trophies but his United team will never be remembered or loved or feared. I feel he deserves to see out his contract but the board need to be brave and appoint a manager who has philosophy to entertain and attack when the time comes.
Paul (Dublin)


…Trying to understand those that are saying Mourinho has done a good job, saying he’s steadied the ship, saying we have made another leap of improvement. I get it, football is a results game and the league table says we are 2nd. But let’s look a little deeper into this season and the job Mourinho has done:

– Currently 2nd behind our City rivals – with 1 game to play we are 19 points behind.

– After spending the majority of the season in the top 4, with 1 game to play we are still only 8 points ahead of 5th place when at one stage looked like we’d do it at a canter.

– Our most expensive ever signing looks completely lost, juggled responsibility all season, and is half the player of the one prior to joining.

– We’ve played a right-footed, 32 year old winger at left back all season. Our only out-and-out left back has started a handful of games and looks by far the better option in the majority of them. Next week? Benched or not in the squad at all.

– We’ve lost to all 3 promoted teams, Newcastle, Huddersfield and Brighton, all of which have glorified Championship squads at best and have done remarkably well this season to survive.

– We went out to Bristol City (mid-table Championship side) in the League Cup. No more needed here.

– We went out of the Champions League to Sevilla over 2 legs, not winning a game in either. Let’s put this into more perspective. Sevilla are sitting in 7th place in La Liga with 2 games to play. They have lost 14 games, 2 fewer than they have won and have a goal difference of -10. Only 6 other teams in that league boast a worse goal difference.

– Our latest young superstar from the academy who burst on the scene 2 seasons ago looks absolutely woeful and shot of any confidence or any natural ability with a football at all. I wouldn’t even say he is a quarter of the player he was when under LVG.

– This is going to be a ramble as I’m losing patience with my list. We’ve played roughly 50 odd games this season and not once has anybody (particularly Mourinho) known his best team, his best formation, his best centre back pairing, his midfield duo/trio, who plays out wide? Do we even play wide players? What’s Mata’s role? Why is Herrera suddenly starting games when he was benched for the majority? Why doesn’t Lindelof ever play 2 games in a row? Why did McTominay get manager’s player of the year? Is Mctominay absolutely sh*t scared of playing the ball forward in case he doesn’t win MPOTY next season? Why are we trying to get Martial out the door when he is clearly one of the most talented players in the league? What is a Daley Blind? Why are we not playing our best centre back because ‘he isn’t fighting for a World Cup place’!?

Can somebody reply to this with the things Mourinho has done well? I’ve left out at least 10 points here to counter that.
Joe, MUFC/LOFC (Lost all patience)


…As most people will know, each team gets a base amount of money for being in the Premier League and then it gets increased with each league position achieved.

I think Manchester Utd should offer to pay back some of that money. Achieving 2nd place but playing most of the season like a team in 16th is just not on.
Jimmy (You don’t always get what you pay for) Spain


Worst United team in living memory?
Unless you’re under the age of 5 or have the memory of a goldfish, the answer is no.


Reds reality check
Amidst all this talk of Liverpool only being a couple of players away from dominating the league and knocking that Bald Fraud Guardiola off his perch, has anyone else noticed how they’re 4th and 25 points behind them?
Simon, London


Without Man City…
Ben B suggests that without Man city in the league, Man United would have won the league and been the worst ever to do so. That’s not actually true ..yet.

Technically because United won a game against Man City, you’d need to take those three points away from your total, which would them only one point above Spurs going into the final weekend.

Naturally Spurs would Spurs it up on the final day, but at least it would be an half exciting last weekend with everything still to play for.
Matt “Pedant” L, London


Worst second place, best fourth?
While Ben may be wrong that this is the worst Man Utd team in living memory, he did prompt me to wonder if there has ever been a worse 2nd-place team in the top flight.

Similarly, has there been a better 4th-place team than Liverpool this season (if that’s where they finish)?
Will ( *)> Graham


What does a manager actually do?
It’s always fascinated me that we readily accept the theory that a manager makes or breaks a team. One moment teams like Crystal Palace look dead and buried under De Boer but they suddenly become better in all departments under Woy.

What does a player look for under a manager? Apart from a little direction, tactics and a thumbs up what else does a manager offer? Doesn’t the player, who has been playing the game since he was eight know what he’s supposed to do on a football pitch?

Simple stuff like ‘track your man’, ‘don’t turn your back on the ball’ and ‘jump’ seem to come and go with a manager rather than player. Does anyone have an explanation here?

Are players really a bunch of dumb jocks? We always talk about thinking footballers and intelligent footballers. What are they really? And moreover, how stupid are they?


Hands off Targett
Dear Tim Sutton, Just a reminder that Matt Targett isn’t yours. In fact, I think we’ll need him back very shortly to fill a Ryan Bertrand shaped hole.

Yours Sincerely,

Jon Tucker, Southampton


Super Steve
The ever brilliant love letter has highlighted a true unsung hero of sports broadcasting. Fully recommend any listen to his Magic Sponge episode where he highlights some of the real issues of being a lower league player/manager/player-manager. Brilliant raconteur with a one-of-the-lads vibe. Recently did an excellent job of putting Sol Campbell in his place about being snobby and self-aggrandizing.

Claridge and Clem are some of the only lower league experts in sports media and we are all the richer for them.
Joe, Midlands


Franchise farce
After perusing your list of landmarks and records, out of curiosity I went and had a look at the “All Time Premier League Table”.

It genuinely took me a minute or two to realise that Milton Keynes Dons in 23rd place with 316 PL games against their name isn’t a typo.

Surely, surely to goodness this history should be attributed to the actual phoenix club that replaced Wimbledon FC, and not to the new franchise that their then chairman set up somewhere else?

It just feels outrageously unfair to me that a club, acknowledged even on their own club website as having been formed in League One in 2004, should simply inherit the premier league record of a club they completely uprooted.
Terry Hall, Switzerland (the petition for AFC Wimbledon to be named on the All Time Premier League Table starts here…)


Permit to park the bus
You could tell that last night’s game meant nothing by the fact that United’s team bus arrived on time and unscathed.


TFI Friday
This last set of Premier League fixtures seems the dampest of squibs, unless you’re in the business of keeping tabs on records to be broken, so let’s have a non-PL Friday loveliness list. Ready? Me too.

1. Kit launch season is slowly coming upon us. I know that slightly-differently-coloured-to-last-year bits of overpriced shiny material shouldn’t be exciting, but it is. To me, at least. For a comprehensive list, try this.

2. Fortuna Düsseldorf’s return to the Bundesliga. For the last 15 years, they’ve lurched chaotically between the top and fourth tiers of the German league system like a drunk on an escalator, either charging determinedly upward, or teetering on their heels for what seems like an age before crashing messily and painfully backwards. It’s good to have them back.

3. Kilmarnock’s barnstorming revival under Steve Clarke, harnessing the power of Youssouf Mulumbu and – to a larger, older and far less mobile extent – Kris Boyd to great effect.

4. Jeff Stelling always referring to Kenny Deuchar as “the good doctor”, or quipping that “Sally will be happy!” whenever Kevin Webster scored.

5. Fan group stickers on street furniture and in stadiums. Nothing more curious than seeing a lamp-post or railing with a sticker proclaiming the one-time presence of, say, Steaua Bucharest or Rosenborg fans. Best display I’ve seen was at the away fans’ bar at Slovan Liberec. One entire wall was plastered with thousands of stickers from tiny local clubs they’d played in the cup, to massive teams dating from their occasional, brief forays into Europe. It struck me as a lovely way of acknowledging the people who had, for better or worse, given their time, effort, money and heart to come to a small Czech city to watch a game of football, and how many people of differing backgrounds and cultures had traced these same footsteps.

6. This lovely interview with Mandela Egbo about life at Borussia Mönchengladbach.

7. The resigned hardiness of Brechin City fans this season.

8. Being kept up to date on the goings-on of other clubs by people writing in to the mailbox. James in Japan, Matthew’s Norn Iron Premiership title race mails, that Luton Town season review; I love this stuff, and I know lots of other people do too. I know you guys always say you can only print what you receive (obviously!), so to fans of smaller clubs: don’t be shy! There’s an audience for your thoughts!

9. Coventry are in the League 2 playoffs.

10. All the playoffs are on TV. Saturday night, pub, with mates that have forced me to watch more than my share of Premier League dross, but I do it because I care. It’s payback time, boys and girls. Can’t wait.

Whoever you’re supporting this weekend, have a good one.
David (Sky Blues up and Zbrojovka down?) Szmidt, Brno, Czech Rep.

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