Mails: Who are the next Keane and Scholes?

Date published: Thursday 22nd September 2016 2:57

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Where are the ‘normal’ central midfielders?
I realise that the game has clearly moved on in the last 20 years but I want to pose what I feel is a valid question. What is wrong with and why do we rarely see just a standard central midfield partnership nowadays? Why are we always expecting a defensive covering midfielder, with a number ten, and a left central false number 8 semi-attack minded but with defensive capabilities midfielder, yadda yadda yadda, you get my drift. What is wrong with a standard central midfield pairing? Not specifically defensive midfielders or attacking midfielders, just central midfielders? Where have these guys gone?

Keane and Scholes for example. The best midfield partnership that I have personally ever witnessed. Both of them ‘central midfielders’. No nonsense ‘this or that tiles’, just central midfielders. I guess that Keano was more defensively minded than Scholesy, but that said, his role wasn’t to be a defensive midfielder. They were an out and out, straightforward, central midfield pairing. And they were both effective and excellent.

I therefore ask why United couldn’t utilise such a partnership again? In my opinion Pogba is not a number 10. He’s a central midfielder. Ander Herrera? Central midfielder. I think that a partnership between these two could be hugely effective with a wealth of energy and more importantly, composure and ball-playing ability. If in some games you need someone a bit more combative then throw a Schneiderlin or a Mop-a-top into the mix, but generally why not base our central pairing on positivity rather than caution? Anyway, just a thought.

Finally back to the potato in the room. I firmly believe that we won’t see Rooney in the starting line-up this Saturday against Leicester. I bloody well hope not at least. Last night was another truly laboured and lethargic display against opposition (apparently) not in the same class. I do feel sorry for Rooney though. It’s never nice seeing the demise of a once-great player especially when they are in the spotlight as much as Rooney is. There are many players whose careers can be discretely phased out but unfortunately for Wayne his profile won’t allow this. It’s like a racehorse breaking its leg. They will usually be discreetly put out of their misery behind the confines of a tent away from the vying eyes of the public.

With Wayne, it’s like dragging the horse along the ground to the front a of a packed grandstand for a public execution in front of a shotgun-wielding firing squad. He’s been a great player and servant to us over the years, so when he is finally phased out let’s hope that it can be done to leave him with some dignity and a fond legacy of what he achieved for us.
Al (centrally-trained defensively-minded left-sided right-footed false no 10 attacking midfielder) Williams


Rooney is done. Full stop.
Watching Rooney last night was reminiscent of the Chelsea versions of Shevchenko and Torres and the United version of Falcao. Rooney, like the other three listed, was once world class. Never Balon d’Or, but top 10 in the world in his position for quite a long time. Not any more, though, he’s done. No repositioning is going to fix this, there’s no ‘best’ to get out of him, he’s done.

It seems to be a modern phenomenon that great players (Kaka is another example) seemingly become ordinary overnight. Perhaps it’s the pace of the game now. Whether it’s injury or Father Time catching up with them, their legs just go and it takes their confidence with it. When the body can no longer do what it once did, the mind starts to question everything.

It’s as sad as it is infuriating to watch him play now and I hope by the time the season is over he’s realised it and makes the move to MLS. I’m sure we’d let him go for free if it means shifting the wages off the books. Thanks for some wonderful memories, Wayne, I was there for your debut hat-trick and it was special, the 2008 team was the best side I’ve seen us have, but your days dining at the top table are over.
Lewis, Busby Way


Rooney has played way too much football
Back after the shambles that was the Iceland game, I wrote the following, unpublished words on Wayne Rooney:

The thing we have to remember with Rooney is just how long he’s been around. Having broken into the Everton team at 16, he’s had the weight of expectation for club and country on him ever since. In a few months, he turns 31.

Whilst 31 is a young age for someone to retire unless they’re injured, playing regularly in the top flight at 16 is even more rare. He’s had a 14-15 year career already. Had he started at 20, you’d expect him to be done by 35. His legs are gone, even though on paper he’s still got a few years left in him.

The three months (where’s that gone!) that have followed have done little to change my mind. In fact, he’s backing up my argument with his abysmal form and now more United fans seem to be agreeing than not.

I think he’s definitely been over-footballed – incredibly he’s played in at least 25 league every single season since 2002/03, which is a pretty excellent record. What would be great is if he just held his hands up and admitted that he was knackered, instead of coming out and saying how he hopes to be a part of the World Cup squad in two years time. The way he’s playing he’d be lucky to be involved in the next set of internationals, except for the fact Big Sam is smitten with him!

Remember in the summer when Wayne and his son laughed at Memphis for attempting an overhead kick? Well now that’s all of us every time he tries a basic 10-yard square pass. And it’s pretty sad, actually.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


Jose just doesn’t look happy anymore…
Remember that time José came back to Chelsea in 2013 and said he was ‘The happy one’? Well he did look very happy that day. And that season, he was in quite jovial mood a lot, calling his team ‘a foal’ and such. They didn’t win the league but he made the media believe that was OK.

Then the following year, Chelsea won the league. Easily. But in the second half of the season something started to go wrong. Like Harvey Dent, he started to turn from Gotham’s…I mean…Chelsea’s white knight into a miserable, destructive lunatic. Chelsea still won the league, but they had the hard work down by February.

We all know what happened last season. The games were horrendous, Chelsea crumbled. Every interview, every press conference, every quote from José was either negative or spiteful. There were no smiles. No happy José.

His new job started well, United won three on the bounce. But José wasn’t smiling, on the sideline or in front of the cameras. This was supposed to be his dream job right? Three defeats followed he turned demonic. Everyone deserves to be slated and put down. Everyone feel the wrath of José.

I really liked the José who came to the premier league 12 years ago. The Premier League needed something different with Fergie and Wenger sharing titles for so long. And he was a breath of fresh air. The anti-hero, perhaps. But a very likable anti-hero. He was sneaky, sometimes sly but definitely classy. The José we see now doesn’t seem to love football anymore. Remember the man who ran down the Old Trafford touchdown in glee? He’s long gone.

I’m a Liverpool fan and I love Klopp’s big friendly (but angry when he needs to be) attitude and I hope football doesn’t send our Klopp the same way. José is miserable, he’s destructive and chaotic. Of course, I still think he’s a top coach. But… If he fails at this job… where does he go next?
Damo, Dublin


Storey 4 Man United?
Can you stop Daniel Storey writing about Man United? I don’t know if he’s a fan, but good lord every piece he writes about them is dripping with sugary praise and pre-pubescent fawning.

Some writers, however good, should be banned from certain subjects.
Brad Smith

(He really isn’t a Manchester United fan but he does love, love, love Marcus Rashford – Ed)
No Vinod…Wenger out
I wanted to reply to Vinod (Chicago Red)’s mail this morning about Arsene Wenger where he made these points…

a) Shows commitment to an idea – what idea was this specifically Vinod? You haven’t actually said what the idea was but in business, Arsenal is a business now and not purely a sporting club, not being able to move with the times is due to lack of talent and ideas. This is why you don’t see a proliferation of HMV and GAME stores in the high street any more and which is why Arsenal repeat the same failings every year for the last decade.

b) Believes in principles that transcends to more than a specific number of titles – No, it’s called being very comfortable in a job that he’s paid eight million, or thereabouts, a year to do. Anyone in a no pressure job who is being paid that amount would not just quit, unless they really did have some principles and not just a massive ego like Mr Wenger.

c) Cares about his subordinates (in this case his players) and trusts them – There is a fine line between caring and being too friendly with your subordinates and not having the cojones to make the hard choices. During my working life I’ve encountered many managers that fiddle while Rome burns as they are too friendly with underperforming staff and won’t do the necessary.

d) Is relatively successful by most counts – My answer is Yes and no to this point. To look at it from a distance it might appear that Wenger has been relatively successful and you could forgive the lack of challenging for trophies if it was apparent that everyone at the club, from the owner down, was doing their utmost to enable to club to challenge for success. But they are not. Stan Kroenke has made it clear, with statements that he has made, that he is not interested in whether or not Arsenal win. He owns it as a money making business. He is happy with what Wenger gains for him and Wenger is happy to be paid a shed load to accomplish his master’s bidding.

Wenger is a very well-paid employee of a business. The fans don’t owe him anything, they already pay a load of money every year towards his impressive remuneration package. The club treats the fans as ‘customers’ so therefore the customers expect top class service for the top class prices they pay.

It’s like going to a Michelin-starred restaurant and being served Burger King. You would rightly question your meal but you wouldn’t then accept it because the spokesperson informs you that the chef has been loyal to the restaurant and cares about his subordinates.
Cliff (Wenger out) Mallinder


…I never really got the reason why we should praise Wenger for sticking around so long. Thank you Arsene for staying in a relatively comfortable job where you get the run of the place. Thank you Arsene for the £8.3 million you make every year making you the fourth highest earner in club football despite a decline in performance over your tenure. While I’m at it I’d also like to say a word of thanks to Richard Branson & Rupert Murdoch. So many years of service, thanks for plugging away guys!


Wenger not perfect…but thank you
Just writing in to thank Vinod (Chicago Red) for his Wenger admiration. There will probably be plenty of Arsenal fans writing in to slag him off, and some expressing concern that he is ruining his legacy, but I think, once he retires, it would take monumental levels of idiocy not to regard him as a true great of English football, let alone Arsenal Football Club.

He’s not perfect, in fact he’s not even the right person for the job anymore, but his achievements, and how he’s gone about them are astounding. Great, title-winning football at his peak, the establishment of Arsenal as a (sleeping) giant of the game, a plethora of signings that helped, and continue to help, make the Premier League what it is today. He’s responsible for so many (too many) of the sporting operations at the club, and for all his ‘I didn’t see it’s, he’s generally been an open, honest communicator who has tried to treat reporters and fans more respectfully than many have treated him.

It’s impossible, with the justified focus on winning now, not to let frustrations colour Arsenal fan’s opinion of the manager. But when the time comes, whether that’s this summer, or three years down the line, he will go down as an indisputable legend. My only hopes are he gets another chance to lift the Premier League trophy (not likely) and he and the board are working right now to ensure whoever is (un)fortunate enough to take over from him has the best possible chance of not doing a Moyes. Monchi/Zorc and one other please. Oh, and that his last act as manager is to knock Stan Kroenke’s ridiculous wig off his head.
Will O’Doherty


…Was originally going to write in about Rooney (because, well, who isn’t?) but after this morning’s mailbox and specifically Vinod’s mail, I felt all warm inside.

Wenger is a personal hero of mine, in the footballing world anyway, because of his commitment and passion for his cause. Sure, there have been many recent frustrations that come with him, not least his stubbornness to adapt to the modern game. Yet in spite of this, we have continually placed in the top four, rising a place in each of the last three seasons. And before anyone jumps down my throat, I am not saying we should settle for fourth, nor that we should be happy with doing the bare minimum, but rather, this accomplishment should be seen for what it is.

In a footballing world where world records are being broken on players clearly not good enough to hold the title of most expensive player, managers who did extremely well last season being linked with the sack after five games, it’s marvelous to see a manager still so consistent and committed to the cause. (Whether you want to put that down as a lack of ambition from the board is another matter) Wenger has maintained a standard [read: brand] of football, while being so frugal off the pitch in order to get the club a state of the art stadium without plunging the club into massive debt.

This might be long-winded, but he point of the argument is that Wenger has not been bad enough to receive the vitriolic feedback that he does, especially from the readers on this site. I just hope that those fans (who would obviously jump back on the bandwagon if a title was one, or even if he leaves this season, will clamor-together to give him a good send off) haven’t tainted this club for him and we can see him move upstairs, because a footballing brain like his only comes around once in a while, and it would be a shame to lose that completely!
Neill, (now to bang on about how great Rooney is…no, no one? That man is stealing a living), Ireland


Beckham: Parasite
Not getting in on the Beckham love-in either. Yes, he was admirably good – mostly for United, still holds the free-kick record in the league (although if Zola came over before 30, it wouldn’t be the case), I liked how he bounced back from adversity, yada yada. BUT since that Greece match he’s held England back. A la Ronaldo these days he took EVERY free kick for England and that’s just arrogance and leaves the opposition prepared every time. Like Rooney these days, he also played regardless of form or injury. The way he jumped out of a tackle against Brazil in Japan in the run-up to their equaliser in added time of the half was disgraceful. The way he had to take every pen as well, despite being naff at them as well. Lucky against Argentina. Missed a crucial one v France. Was he good? Until 2001, yes. Since then he was a parasite on the team who grossly outstayed his welcome and defined the superstar era of image over merit. I’m sorry if you’re in love with him. Get a Heat magazine.
Adam Corbett
Did Leeds make right ticket decision?
Far be it from me to stick up for Leeds, but just to pick up on a point from 16 conclusions and their decision to charge £25 a ticket for the Blackburn game being ‘brainless in the extreme.’

Yes we all want full stadiums but financially speaking, their decision (if you consider only the short term admittedly) made much more sense then that made by QPR to charge £6.70. Based on the reported attendances, Leeds made over £212k on the night and QPR made less than £100k. And that doesn’t take into account that QPR were playing PL opposition so were always likely to sell more tickets.

So a decision not for the good of football, I agree, and maybe not even for the long-term health of the club. But brainless in the extreme a bit harsh.


Recommendations for muck-rakers, please
On the When Saturday Comes website is a review by Ed Wilson of Quiet Leadership, which opens with the following line:

‘The authors of this book – Carlo Ancelotti, Chris Brady and Mike Forde – aspire to something more profound than the score-settling, indiscretions and self-justifications of the typical sports memoir.’

In the hope of starting the Friday fun a bit early (so the responses appear in the morning mailbox), let’s turn this round. Which ‘typical sports memoirs’ are the best reads when it comes to ‘score-settling, indiscretions and self-justifications’? I presume Joey Barton’s new book does this, but of the books to fall into this category, which are the ones to look out for?

Thanks in advance, have you lost weight/done something with your hair etc and so on.
Ed Quoththeraven


Talking of showboating and assists
Going through the mailbox, reading what Jon (great recommended reading on Joey Barton), NUFC, Guangzhou had to say about showboating – I couldn’t help but be reminded of the best piece of skill I have seen in a live football match – something that makes me light-headed every time I think about it.

What’s more it was also a brilliant assist.

Drink in the absolute genius of the man – Dimitar Berbatov

Navpreet (I am pretty sure this has been featured before on F365, but whatever), India
The best assist/goal combo?
I’ll see your best assist/goal combo, fat man scouse EFC. I shall now raise you this…

The absolutely monstrous pass from De Boer on what seems like the longest pitch of all time is incredible. Then the control to bring it out of the sky from Bergkamp, the touch around Ayala and the finish…words fail me. Three exquisite touches.

The commentary is legendary as well!
Mark (ANOTHER DERBY! Bring. It. On.) M32 Blue


This is not bad either…for a parasite
Can we all also watch this Beckham assist to Ronaldo? Unreal.

Doug, Glasgow

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