Mails: Why Zlatan is perfect man for United

Date published: Wednesday 25th May 2016 10:26

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Weirdest part of Jose at United
I can’t picture Jose managing a team in red. He’s a blue/white guy, Everton seems perfect for him.
Paul, color coordinated as f*ck


And here comes another twerp…
Currently can’t sleep so, naturally, thinking about Mourinho’s impending takeover at my club. Trying to work out if there’s anyone I hate more than he in football and realised there is one fella that grinds my gears even more: Rui Faria.

Had forgotten all about that little twerp. Odds on him not coming with? 5000/1 roughly? Well if Leicester can win the lea… Who am I kidding.

For fu*k’s sake.
Wubblepig (I’m already Ruing this decision…I’ll see myself out), Twickenham


Three defensive-minded managers in a row?
So with Mourinho replacing Van Gaal the Red Devils have replaced a manager their fans disliked for his boring tactics with…a manager known for (successful) boring tactics.

De Boar made much the same point in the media recently adding that they also both share a dictatorial style.

On its own the Mourinho appointment makes perfect sense as Mourinho = at least one season of trophies and should prosper in a league known for terrible defending. If he keeps it tight at the back it won’t be hard to get that goal at the other end for an endless string of 1-0 and 2-0 results.

What is odd is when you look at the pattern of Post-Fergie managers: Moyes, Van Gaal, Mourinho. Three defensively inclined managers in a row. Seems like the directors there haven’t really thought about the club tradition in their appointments. Gets you feeling a bit cynical about modern bloody football as it seems the directors are either ignorant of traditions/fan desires or they just don’t care.
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide


Let’s predict next season’s top ten
Mourinho, Pep, Klopp, Conte, Wenger, Pochettino, Ranieri – Can’t wait for next season, perhaps the toughest one to predict till date. Here are my top ten:

1. Man City
2. Man Utd
3. Chelsea
4. Arsenal
5. Liverpool
6. Tottenham
7. Leicester
8. West Ham
9. Everton
10. Southampton

P.S – Good luck Jose, thank you for the memories.
RD (CFC), Mumbai


This would be lovely
I would cut my own arm off with a butter knife to see Mourinho make John Terry his first United signing…
Jim Bob, LFC (obviously)


Zlatan is the perfect solution
So, if the BBC’s to be believed, it looks as though Zlatan’s on his way to Old Trafford. If so I, for one, strongly disagree with Matt Stead’s sentiment that ‘pursuing Ibrahimovic is little more than a short-term vanity project’. Nobody wants to see a striker in the 20-28 age bracket come in – even (not saying it could happen) Aubameyang – for this would render the (presumably sole) striker position occupied for the next 4-10 years (in theory, at least), thereby leaving Martial and Rashford’s opportunities limited to the bench, or playing out wide, too long. That having been said, we can’t be reliant on those two alone to lead our attack, yet; not if we’re seriously expecting to challenge for the league and beyond.

So, somebody who’s just coming off the back of a 50-goal season (50!) – but who will probably only have a couple more seasons left in his legs – seems the perfect solution. If Rashford and Martial are patient, they can learn from this titan for a couple of seasons, still rack up plenty of starts, and then have the rest of their careers to lead the line from the (still tender) ages of 20 and 22 respectively. Meanwhile, we finally have a player who can help us regain that long-forgotten ‘fear-factor’, the demise of which has been so often touted in discussions of our recent failures.

If I were a centre-back there are still few strikers I’d like to play less than Ibra. He’s not just a flat-track Ligue 1 bully, either, with 11 in 11 for Sweden since 2015, and 5 in 10 in Europe for PSG this season. Yes, those wages are insane, but then we’re not paying a transfer fee. Hopefully this is what Mourinho’s thinking, as it would also display the sensitivity to youth that we’re all hoping for. (For what it’s worth, I’ve long been a fan of
his, and was gutted we didn’t go in for him after Fergie’s retirement. Although, his treatment of Carneiro was abhorrent in every way, so I’m not filled with the enthusiasm I would’ve been then).

No idea what to suggest about that defence, though. Let’s hope Raphael Varane hasn’t watched Match of the Day since 2013.
Lewis, Cambridge


…There is a lot of talk about the possibility of Mourinho stunting the development of players such as Rashford because he will not get enough minutes. But it needs to be recognised that whilst players need games to develop, they also need proper rest and recovery time or there is a risk of burnout and fatigue. Football is littered with players who were exciting youth prospects but overutilisation led to a career filled with injuries or unfulfilled potential.

One name springs to mind when I think of Rashford – Michael Owen. Owen arrived on the scene in similar circumstances and of course went to France 98 around the same age that Rashford is now. Between the age of 18 (his first full season) and 25, Owen featured in an average of 50 games per season (this includes club team starts, internationals, sub appearances and times when he was in the match-day squad but didn’t get on) and scored an average of 25 goals per season. However, after 25 until the end of his career (he retired at 33) he only averaged 20 games per season scoring an average of seven goals per season. Obviously players will play less when they get older but the difference is astonishing.

I was thinking who I could compare this to in order to illustrate the point further and one name popped into my head, possibly given his current links to United – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Zlatan appears to be like a fine wine, getting better with age, so how do his stats compare to EMO’s? Well, between the age of 18 and 25 Ibra featured in an average of 32 games per season, scoring an average of 12 goals per season. After that point until now he has featured in an average of 43 games per season, scoring 32 goals per season. I think I am right in saying this season has been his best in terms of goals and assists and he is 34, a year older than Owen was when he retired.

In total, Owen featured in 477 games and scored 220 goals (0.46 goals per game) whereas Zlatan has featured in 616 games and scored 368 goals (0.6 goals per game) and is still going strong. Obviously there are other factors to consider and some players may simply be more injury-prone than others, but this highlights the very real danger of relying on young players to play too much at a young age. It helps to explain why Rooney has found it more difficult to have an impact recently, as he has played a lot of football. Whilst he has been relatively injury free, his output has dropped and he is now having to change his game to compensate.

So people (club managers, international manager and fans) clambering for young players to play every game should weigh up short-term benefits against long-term gains. Give young players time, don’t play them every game or heap pressure on underdeveloped shoulders and you might get a full and healthy career out of them.

Zlatan to United is a perfect fit. He and Rashford can shoulder the burden between them, ensuring both candles continue to burn bright for some time to come.
Garey (stats from soccerbase) Vance, MUFC


Thank you Ben McAleer
Fantastic piece by Ben McAleer this morning, comparing Mourinho’s potential transfer targets to United’s current squad.

It’s nice, for once, to see an article like this where realistic targets are discussed. Being a Man United fan and reading about Ronaldo’s return (every f*cking summer), Neymar, Bale and so on is really, really boring. These transfers will not happen – why would any top, top player leave their successful team for a frankly farcical United?

The players in Ben’s article are reasonable targets, and I think if United did sign one of the two defenders (probably Stones, see the point about Neymar et al. in relation to Varane), Andre Gomes and Ibrahimovic, United’s team would look like real challengers.

I don’t think Matic is as important. With a proper centre-back in the team over Blind, he could provide decent cover for defensive midfield. Ben’s point about Andre Gomes being absolutely unlike anything United currently have is absolutely true: we haven’t had a good ball-carrying centre mid in what feels like forever. Lastly, while I am sincerely hoping that Rashford continues to be given opportunities under Mourinho, if José didn’t sign a striker this summer I would be truly questioning his sanity. A club looking to challenge for the title should not have Rashford, Martial and Rooney (?) as its only striking options. Ibrahimovic is 34; if he can perform for two seasons, Rashford will have time to develop without the pressure of leading the line, and with one of the world’s best to learn from. Rashford will need a bloody rest from dragging United into games single-handedly at some point!

This ended up being a longer mail than I expected, so to sum up – thanks Ben for providing some interesting reading about United targets rather than the red-top click-bait we’re having to endure currently.


Bamford is awful though…
It’s true, Mourinho does give young players a chance. But that is all they get, one chance. Make a mistake, as young players will often do, and that’s it. Publicly castigated, dropped from the team, and probably sold too. Younger players are used as a tool to demonstrate his will and power, but without upsetting his first team. As for the idea that he would have been happy to blood the like of Kane and Alli, I have to disagree. Kane’s first appearance for Spurs saw him fail to score a penalty – he would have been Lukaku’ed out of there in the blink of an eye. And Alli? If someone at the club signed young Dele, Mourinho would have bitched and moaned about the lack of money being spent, the lack of great new signings, and how unfair it is to expect him to compete with such a terrible squad.

The man is poison to the careers of most young players. The best defence of his record with youth is his Porto team, and that was a long time ago and a very different Mourinho. Now, he is too wrapped up in himself and his own achievements to risk anything other than buying the best.


Already excited about Manchester derbies
The 15th June. The fixtures for next season’s Premier League will be announced. I always count down the days until the announcement. I couldn’t tell you when The Euros starts – even though it is a very exciting time for my beloved boys in green – but yet I yearn for fixtures, a sheet of paper with games on it. Ridiculous?

As a Liverpool fan, I scan frantically for the big ones – United and Everton. But this time, I will be looking first for the Manchester derbies. Who remembers the first Manchester derby last season? 0-0. Barely a shot on target. G Nev claimed “The first half was probably the best 45 minutes I have seen anywhere in the Premier League this season,”. It may have been interesting from a tactical point of view but as a spectacle it was complete crap.

Imagine the build-up and hype we are in store for next season. Guardiola v Mourinho. The mind games. The resentment of one another. The hatred of being the loser. Player for player, both clubs are in a poor state. And they may get better this summer with big signings expected on both sides. But who cares? It’s going to be a war between these two. If the Premier league was a Hollywood movie (which it is becoming more and more), then they have just signed Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson to play starring roles. There won’t be any 0-0 tactical battles this season coming, even if we do see a 0-0 – there will surely be box-office managerial scraps.
Damo, Dublin


And the games against Arsenal…
Although I don’t want him at the club I will support him from the moment he signs (as any real fan should do) but thinking about it, there could be one huge positive for us fans to think about (apart from the chances of a trophy haul and return to relevance) – Mourinho vs Wenger. The ‘specialist in failure’ comment was what made me start to actively dislike Mourinho, but I can’t be the only United fan that misses the days of Arsenal vs United being THE fixture to look forward to. At the time of the greatest PL rivalry it was probably a little boring for supporters of other clubs as we were the only two teams that won the league (until Mourinho showed up, funnily enough) but I long for the days of pizza-gate and players whacking each other on the head. It was just so fun to hate the other team – you could tell the players hated each other too.

As long as Mourinho doesn’t act so classless this time around, I am very much looking forward to this fixture having the same importance as it used to. Is anyone else?


Where did all the England players come from?
Interesting discussion in the mailbox about the quality of United’s youth system, particularly the arbitrary decision about who they can claim as having been trained at United. Seems a bit unfair to not be able to include players who’ve we’ve trained but sold because they’ve been deemed to be surplus to requirements at the time (as if Shawcross was better than Vidic and Ferdinand!). Also, which other club can claim to have played an academy graduate in each match day squad over the last 78 years?

I feel like there needs to be some actual criteria not based an unromantic bias against United. How about, for starters, we look at the current England squad of 26 and see where they all spent most of their youth careers? For is there any other point for in us all being interested in other clubs’ academies other than to see how they are helping to provide the talent for our next failed attempt at playing in an International tournament?

The criteria is merely where they spent their mid to late teens. Where he player has moved at 16 the club before and after the move is included. Happy to discuss improvements to this system but I feel like these are the formative years. I haven’t included the club after any moves at 17 or 18 basically because I couldn’t be arsed and that would give United Rooney which is obviously unfair.


Joe Hart – Shrewsbury Town
Fraser Forster – Newcastle United
Tom Heaton – Wrexham/Manchester United

Danny Rose – Leeds United
Ryan Bertrand – Gillingham/Chelsea
Gary Cahill – Aston Villa
John Stones – Barnsley
Mike Smalling – Millwall/Maidstone
Kyle Walker – Sheffield United
Nathaniel Clyne – Crystal Palace

Eric Dier – Sporting
Raheem Sterling – QPR/Liverpool
Adam Lallana – Bournemouth
James Milner – Leeds United
Danny Drinkwater – Manchester United
Fabian Delph – Leeds United
Dele Alli – MK Dons
Jack Wilshere – Arsenal
Ross Barkley – Everton
Andros Townsend – Spurs
Jordan Henderson – Sunderland

Wayne Rooney – Everton
Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
Daniel Sturridge – Manchester City
Harry Kane – Spurs
Jamie Vardy – Stocksbridge Park Steels

So there you go, Stocksbridge Park Steels (1) have got a better youth system than Liverpool (0.5) and Chelsea (0.5) and have produced as many players on the current England team as Arsenal (and Wilshere is probably lucky to be in there). Leeds are the best (3) and United (2.5) are slightly above Everton and Spurs (2). Sporting (1) have done more to help our national team than the top two teams on the Premier League combined. Ouch. Obviously this is based on Roy’s opinion of which players constitute the best England team so there obviously other England internationals.

We could argue for other nationalities to be included (Gareth Bale, Jonny Evans, Iheanacho – actually not him as he was signed at 19) but I don’t care about them, I’m English. I’d like to see this somehow included in the next World Cup Ladder so we can see which clubs are really doing a good job of providing English players.
Ashley (Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend, really?) Metcalfe


Arsenal switching to a 4-3-3?
The recent transfer of Elneny, together with the Xhaka rumour and the persistent links to Kante suggest Arsene is going to change his formation to a 4-3-3, with Ozil moving from 10 to a wing.

When you consider the number and quality of his central midfielders (assuming Xhaka is signed, and irrespective of the Kante signing) such a formation makes sense. This would leave three attacking positions rather than four to fill, with Ozil and Sanchez definite starters. We know that a ‘top, top’ striker is needed but it is also clear that these are in short supply. I could see Sanchez starting up front and a new signing coming in on the wing (someone like Mahrez, James, Gotze, Isco or Mkhitaryan). This approach of a midfield three with Ozil on the wing and Sanchez up front was tried by Wenger, unsuccessfully, at the start of the 2014/15 season. I think we will sign a striker but not of top quality, probably a youngster to be third choice behind Sanchez and Giroud.

Also, notwithstanding the players I’ve suggested and the probable 80 – 100 mil spend, I think Arsenal’s net spend will be nowhere near that. The sales of Gibbs, Jenkinson, Ospina or Szczesny, Cambell and Walcott should conservatively bring in 40 – 50 million pounds.
Fur, AFC, Sandton

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