Mails: This Man Utd squad could finish as low as eighth

Date published: Tuesday 30th July 2019 9:55

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Man Utd are screwed without any more business…
As a United fan the lack of signings we have made this summer is making me very worried. If we go into this season with the current squad I really don’t understand how it could be any different than the year just gone.

At the end of last season we were atrocious. Awful. Dreadful. Toothless. Spineless. Leaderless. The squad was and is in need of a complete overhaul. We needed a centre half, right-back, two centre mids and a genuine right-sided attacker. I would be delusional to think that all of these positions would be addressed but I thought that we had learned our lesson from last summer of trying to cut corners and not listening to the football men at the club and go out and get replacements and offload some of the deadwood in the squad.

Instead what we have so far is one of the aforementioned positions addressed and a promising player in one of the only positions that we were pretty well stocked at. We have got rid of very little of the deadwood and we are basically going into the new season with the same players and squad that has failed the fans over the last five years. We haven’t even replaced Herrera yet. Young players like Greenwood look like prospects but a club the size of United should not be relying on the performances of a 17-year-old. Even Messi at that age wasn’t a regular.

It is like the entire hierarchy at the club suffer with amnesia on June 1st of every year and forget entirely what happened the previous year because its the only way I can justify what is going on at the club. If we do not bring in two to three players and get rid of some of the more cancerous players in the dressing room I really fear for us and realistically we could finish as low as 8th. It’s like the new kits have duped everyone into thinking this is a new beginning but I guarantee the same dross will be served up to us that happened last year. A promising right-back and a bit of extra running in pre-season isn’t going to fix that.
Oisin, Dublin (It’s weird how Man United always win all of their pre season games. It’s as if they have absolutely no bearing on the real football)


A Manchester United Local Boys XI
OK. Transfer silly season lumbers on and every minute of inaction makes me yearn for the start of the new season. But until then, to pass a bit of time, I’ll see if I can initiate a new mailbox game: Best team of local boys done good. Criteria is simple enough – a starting 11 of players born in, or near to the city/town where the club is based.

I’ll kick things off with a Manchester United Local Boys XI, in a very un-United 4-3-3.

GK: Jack Crompton, b. Hulme; United have not been blessed with an abundance of local goalkeepers, but in the post-war years Crompton won an FA Cup and League title as Matt Busby’s team began to establish domestic dominance.

RB: Gary Neville, b. Bury; Obvious choice.

CB: Bill Foulkes, b. St Helens; Stalwart defender of the Busby era, Munich survivor and fourth highest appearance maker on the all-time list. Seemingly made of granite.

CB: David May, b. Oldham; Maysie’s seen as a bit of a joke figure because of his over-the-top celebrations at the Camp Nou back in ’99, but he stepped in for Steve Bruce seamlessly for the title run-in of ’96 and was immense in the successful defence of the title in 1996/97.

LB: Roger Byrne, b. Gorton; Busby Babe and double-title-winning captain before meeting an untimely end at Munich.

DM: Phil Neville; b. Bury. Because you can’t have Gary without Phil!

CMs: Paul Scholes, b. Salford and Nicky Butt, b. Gorton; Obvious choices, Scholesy and Butty are as Manchester born-and-red as they come.

WF: Brian Kidd, b. Collyhurst; He’s very much a City man these days, having seemingly burnt his bridges at Old Trafford, but he spent his most successful years in the red half of Manchester, which includes netting in the ’68 European Cup final.

CF: Marcus Rashford, b. Wythenshaw; Rashford running on to through balls from Scholes? Oh yes! He just needs to learn to put the ball in the net more often.

WF: Dennis Viollet, b. Fallowfield; Munich survivor and the club’s all-time leading scorer in European competition right up until Ruud van Nistelrooy came along, I believe.

Not a bad team, I think. I’d be interested to learn of other teams’ local heroes. I’d imagine West Ham would have a pretty good team, as would Newcastle. Whereas Celtic fans could just reel off the entire ’67 team!
Lee, not from Manchester


Is the transfer market being scuppered by Brexit?
There are a couple of economic reasons that may explain the slow transfer market from British teams this year. It seems all teams are on a bit of a slow down compared to previous years and I wonder how much Brexit might impact that.

For starters, we have the exchange rate at close to 1-1 Sterling to Euro. Combine that with the inflated transfer rates that British teams are given because of the TV revenue and maybe there’s a reluctance to spend this year.

Outside of the money, we still don’t know what the status will be for any player bought. Easier if they’re non-EU, but then they usually meet the criteria for a permit due to their ability and playing on a national team. What we don’t know is what the position will be with EU players. At the moment they are able to travel and work without any restriction. So we tend to see a good deal of movement with decent, but maybe not ‘exceptional’ (or at least are in the good potential bracket).

But why would a club pay money at the now massively inflated rate, with an even bigger hit due to the current exchange rate only to find the player may not be eligible to work/play come November?

Brexit might also be a factor in players not wanting to move. Clubs may be scouting, but having no luck or agents looking for an expensive ‘Hard Brexit’ clause on contracts. Again, why would you move to GB if you may be stuck without a work permit and not allowed to pay?

Of course it might be like the mailbox has been quick to point out and that it’s the incompetence of owners or lack of ambition of managers.
Carl, Dublin


Liverpool need to protect Joe Gomez at centre-half
I’ve always found squad rotation and squad management one of more interesting administrative aspects of the football season. For instance, I once read Alex Ferguson used to plan his squad management several games in advance and knew clearly who was going to be playing against who over the upcoming calendar months, just like a chest grandmaster planning multiple moves in advance.

One of the contributors to the mailbox on Monday made the point that Joe Gomez was both first-choice centre-half and second-choice right-back (and maybe even left back). Now, while Jurgen Klopp clearly knows more about squad management than I do, I do think this raises an interesting dilemma for Liverpool.

The preferred centre defence partnership for Liverpool is clearly Van Dijk and Joe Gomez. However, let’s say he has to deputise as a right-back in 10 games of a season. That means, Liverpool are without their first-choice centre-back pairing for 1/4 of the season and Liverpool play with an inferior centre-back in his place. The problem is two fold therefore – 1. Although Van Dijk is there, the overall pairing is weaker and 2. The individual replacing Joe Gomez is weaker.

The problem could be even worse for two further reasons. Firstly, Joe Gomez is so good, he be comes de facto first-choice right-back as well and ends up staying in that position longer because, you know, his back-up at centre defence is more than capable of deputising so, overall, Liverpool’s defence is better off with Gomez at right-back. Secondly (or fourthly), Joe Gomez ends up plaguing in an arguably less important position for the team, given the way they play.

We saw this same thing play out a few years back at Chelsea with William Gallas who eventually demanded to play CB and then left after threatening to score own goals. I’m not saying that Joe Gomez will do this, however Chelsea first-choice centre-back pairing was at least as good wtihout Gallas (Terry and Carvalho).

Why am I saying this? Well, it’s all to make the point they Liverpool are mad to go into a season without protecting their position with regards Gomez and ensuring he plays at centre-back in all but the most dire of circumstances. Liverpool should surely prioritise securing either an upgrade at right-back or a reliable young deputy rather than having a back-up plan to deprioritise the role that one of their outstanding players in a crucial piston and rely on his versatility to help then out.

Can you imagine Guardiola saying “I’ve got Fernandinho so if Stones/Otamendi gets injured I’ll just move him back”? Sure , he can do a job, but there is no way Guardiola would rely on moving such an important cog in his machine (albeit I accept the money available to Man City makes buying a £50m full back easy).

It’ll be interesting to see how Liverpool fare if they go into the season without either greater strength in depth at RB or CB as they’re surely going to struggle.


ZZ Flop?
As managerial sack races go, this would be unthinkable 2 months ago, but having spent 300 million, and publicly feuded with his most expensive player, Zidane now goes into the season on the back of a 7-3 drubbing against local rivals, which included going into half time 5-0 down. He’s had Ascencio go off with a long term injury, a demotivated Bale to deal with, and apparently an overweight Hazard and most recently a spat with his President regarding the release of Bale. In a season where Barcelona and Atletico have strengthened significantly. Do we think ZZ will last the season? And how much of the earlier success was the impact of other-worldly CR7, as opposed to great management by Zidane?
Ved (Barca beyond Messi will be interesting, too) Sen


We don’t understand how footballers think…
This Gareth Bale business and the reaction to it – JN’s in particular – I think shows just how little we understand about how footballers think.

As fans, the most important thing to us is the glory of the team. That makes sense as we identify with the team, not the particular players, so that’s where our priority lies. It’s the only way we can ‘profit’ from the game.

When it comes to players however, their first responsibility is, unsurprisingly, themselves. I’ve heard that in the footballer community, status is measured in this order:

1) Salary
2) Personal accolades
3) Trophies

This is horrific to fans, but when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Trophies bring status and achievement, sure; but it’s diluted across a team, and doesn’t have any ‘real world utility’. Wages on the other hand bring both status *and* real world utility. Being paid £500k per week is far far higher on a player’s priority list than a medal not only because of greed, but also because it essentially shows that they are ‘winning’ at football. It’s the ultimate ‘trophy’ if you are an individual player.

When you understand that players think in this way, a lot of their seemingly weird behaviour makes a lot of sense. The success of the team is no higher on their priority list than the success of the company you work with is on yours – it’s great, and you benefit from it, but all in all you’d rather ‘get yours’.

Yet another gap between the players and fans, but guess that’s the way things are.


Why are footballers the only ‘greedy’ ones?
The reaction in some quarters to Bale’s failed move to China did not surprise me. It’s become increasingly common for footballers to be derided for following the money, as though this is a new phenomenon. What I find odd is that we seem to save this financial morality for football alone. We live in an economic system in which the pursuit of wealth is everything. Morality does not enter into that whatsoever. We do not expect CEOs of vast corporations to take up a job at a local greengrocer. We do not expect those in the banking sector to start up small cooperatives to help fund community projects. We do not expect oil and gas billionaires to give it all up and open a windmill. In the entertainment sector, I do not recall ever hearing a demand that an Oscar winner focus on regional programming in the future. It’s almost as though we are conditioned to attack each other, to be critical of working-class wealth, to hate the nouveau riche.

We live in a world that was divvied up by a handful of rich men, where the assets of poorer nations continue to be stripped by foreign businesses while the populations of those countries suffer, where international finance is ruled by Europe and the USA. If you want to be indignant about a person’s earnings, Gareth Bale is a piss-poor place to start. Our ecosystem is being destroyed by greed, no doubt in that. But whether Bale earns a tenner or a million is irrelevant. It’s picking the right fight with the wrong opponent. He is a rich man’s toy. And yes, his earnings and wealth are immoral, given the hideous disparity that exists and the state of life for so many hard-working people. But it’s an inconsequential sum compared to those who are actively engaged in practices that are destroying us.

The newspapers will tell you he’s a greedy bastard. Do they say the same of those who own them? Nope. But they sure do know how to whip up some fervour against the targets they deem acceptable. Our best hope for a real future is to band together, not tear each other apart. And, for all his millions, Bale is still a lot more us than them.

On the subject of millions, I don’t think it’s magical negotiation that has got Arsenal in the position of potentially signing Pepe et al without breaking their budget. The costs will be covered by cashing in on Aubameyang on deadline-day, after an ‘impossible to refuse’ bid from Man U.


We would all take the money…
Reading Jonny Nic’s article on Bale. Sometimes Jonny’s articles are just the stuff and sometime they aren’t. This one made me so angry I stopped reading at ‘pure wanton greed’.

The problem here is Jonny’s not Bale’s. Jonny seems to have created an image of Bale some lad who plays football for the joy, not for the money, not as a professional. By considering a big money move to China, Bale has pissed on his dreams.

Every top-flight professional footballer is a multi millionaire. Every single one. By the time they have got to 30 they are richer than any of us will ever be even with a lottery win. That shit sub centre back at west ham? Millionaire. But if he went to China for a million a week would Jonny write that article? No.

At 30 Bale has one more contract then that’s it. No idea where the next cheque comes from. And maybe China is a sub par league now, maybe in 5 years it’s a lot more respectable and hes like Becks and the MLS. Maybe not, but maybe Bale wants a good pay out so he make sure his kids are set up. And his parents too probably. Hes probably got at least one good divorce in him too. That’ll cost.

Maybe hes got one week to get a move to China as their window shuts 31st July and hes been told by his club hes not welcome. That can be a blow. Maybe his heads not in it and he’s looking for a home, just to feel welcome whilst he works.

Maybe he’s phoned the usual acceptable clubs where he can get paid the acceptable amount of millions to play football. Man Utd said no, not whilst we’re still paying for Sanchez and everyone else said no look what happened with Sanchez at United.

I wonder Johnny, would you take a million quid a week to write about Chinese football for some Chinese football site for the last few years of your career even when you are still half decent?

Course you bloody would.
Alex, playing the lottery like a chump


…Especially if we were miserable
I enjoyed the article this morning on the mind-bending idea that financial security could be a convincing argument for Gareth Bale’s move to China. The one aspect of the article which I take issue with is the failure to properly consider Bale’s current position at Real.

For me, it is pretty unimaginable going to a workplace every day while your boss is telling anyone who’ll listen that he’d rather you weren’t there, and that you won’t get to do your job if you don’t leave. Real have made pretty clear that they want both a sizeable fee and freedom from Bale’s wage bill of he departs, and have apparently expressed a preference that he doesn’t join a champions league rival. This leaves him in an uncomfortable bind – does he stick it out and try to prove his manager wrong (despite the fact that the club have just broken their transfer record to sign a direct replacement in his position), or do you take the one and only road put of town?

From a human point of view, I can understand why he ended up convincing himself that becoming the poster boy for Chinese football was a desirable choice, especially given the soul-crushing nature of the alternative. Add in the possibility that he is interested in living in new countries and experiencing new cultures, and the decision quickly becomes a lot more relatable to the average fan on the terrace.

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