Mails: Would Man United sold XI win the title?

Date published: Thursday 7th April 2016 2:21

Paul Pogba Manchester United 2011 Football365

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Blaming Joe Hart a little
First-time contributor. Last night during the Man City game I must have been the only person watching that thought Joe Hart was at fault for the first goal. As captain of your club that has just gone 1-0 up in a major European game away from home, why would you play the ball short to a player (who at the best of times is sketchy on the ball) instead of boot it up. He has got to be the worst keeper at game management. He does pull off some great saves, but more often than not he is the reason that City concede a majority of their goals. The only reason people don’t realise is because of the media love-in he gets for being England’s number one. If Man City manage to get rid of Joe Hart and sign someone with the game management skills of a Neuer (easier than it souunds) it would go a long way to sorting out a visibly low on confidence defense.

Is it just me that sees this from Hart? He is possibly the weakest link for England going in to the Euros and it’s a major shame Butland will miss out.


…Has any blame been attributed to Hart for the shambolic goal last night? Nope. He should never have passed to Fernando who wasnt even on his toes. Oh but he’s English…totally blame the dodgy foreign.
Baz, Dublin
We really do get so few mails from City fans…
If City go on to win the Champions League the next mailbox will include four anti-Wenger diatribes, several Liverpool transfer strategies and a couple Utd fans talking about the ’99 final.

I know is City fans are a quiet bunch but do we contribute so little to your ‘clicks’?!
Alex, Bermuda


Team of the season?
Apart from the full-backs and maybe goalkeeper, does anyone have a different Team Of The Season then this?

Kasper Schmeichel – Solid

Glen Johnson – Some might say Bellerin, but GJ has been solid for Stoke and has his fair share of assists this season. Credit where it’s due.

Wes Morgan – Captain of the No.1 team. He’s in.

Toby Alderweireld – Defender of the season full stop.

Charlie Daniels – Not many people’s choice but that’s cause not many people watch Bournemouth in the flesh week in, week out like myself. Without doubt the best LB in the league this season.

(Now no debate whatsoever forthcoming as to the front six surely?)

Rihad Mahrez – Goals, Assists, Skills to pay the bills.

N’Golo Kante – Total midfielder. Could intercept a heat seeking missile from North Korea heading to the White House.

Delle Alli – Revelation.

Dimitri Payet – We’ve got Payet, Dimitri Payet, I just don’t think you understand. We being the PL. Lucky us.

Harry Kane – Top scorer. Done.

Jamie Vardy – Player Of The Year.

Manager – Claudio Ranieri. Obviously


Wenger turned down Payet but stuck with Walcott?
I just knew that Wenger had ‘nearly signed’ Payet. However, passing on him on the grounds of ‘inconsistency’ seems strange, given that Wenger was continually shoveling huge amounts of wages into the pockets of perma-crocks like Diaby and Rosicky. In terms of inconsistency, was Payet really worse than, for example, Walcott (who is still waiting for his breakout season, 10 years after joining), Ramsey (one good half-season in nearly seven years)? Also, surely the point of Wenger’s so-called ‘genius’ is to make inconsistent, erratic players like Payet into consistent Premier League players?
Matthew, Belfast


We always defend our own: that’s football
I disagree with Paul Murphy’s mail this morning. From a footballing perspective, which is what the article is about, Suarez is one of the, if not the, best footballers in the world. Yes he’s a bit of pr*ck and probably a complete ar*ehole to play against, but the reality is he is a footballing genius with undeniable skill. Someday I hope to meet him, have my photo taken with him, maybe even get a signed jersey…One can dream…

What makes this email easy for me to write is the fact that I am a Liverpool fan. Surprise surprise. It’s also no surprise that Paul is a Manchester United fan, hence his clear distaste for Suarez and the reference to the Evra apology.

The fundamental flaw with both Paul’s and my own email is that the overwhelmingly majority of football fans are one-sided and biased, defending their team to the hill whilst screaming blue murder at opposition. Whether it;s Suarez, Cantona, Terry, Costa, Giggs, (now there’s a real scum-bag….) or if they’re racists, spitters, biters, the outcome is always the same.. If said player is an integral part of the team the fans will find a way to ignore his actions and continue to support him. Fact. There are some exceptions to the rule (i.e. Johnson, Diouf) but these were never integral players in their teams.

This is football. Some players are scumbags, some fans are scumbags. As Alan Sugar so eloquently put it, if half them were not professional footballers they’d be in jail.

I wonder in what light Manchester United fans find Ryan Giggs, golden boy of the club and the most ‘decorated’ player in the PL’s history. I suppose it’s OK he spent over a decade f*cking his brother’s wife. After all, look what he gave to the club…
Dazza, LFC, Dublin


‘Bad people can be good at stuff’ shock
Luis Suarez can ‘never be considered the world’s best while being a nasty racist cheat’. The most moronic statement I’ve read in the mailbox in sometime, and as you might it agree, there’s been plenty of competition.

Wagner was virulent anti-Semite and had all kinds of links to Nazism. Now I’m no classical musical aficionado, but from what I hear he could write a decent opera/symphony.

Roman Polanski had made some fine films, many would say he is a great film-maker. He’s also up on some nasty nasty charges, which there is no need to get into here.

John Lennon was by all accounts a bully and a terrible misogynist. And yet, I still think White Album is canny good. Many others do also.

I could go on and on and on with examples like this.

People tend to be able to separate art from the artist, and judge it on its own merits. When it comes to sport though, and football in particular, this doesn’t tend to be the case. The fact that most footballers are working-class kids who’ve become very rich and successful is a massive factor in this. Good old class snobbery, these oiks getting above their station. But that’s for another day.

Luis Suarez is a brilliant, brilliant footballer. Luis Suarez has acted like a complete sh*t. Both are okay. Both are factually correct.

I genuinely can’t understand how people can’t get this.
John Lawless


…You can’t argue that Suarez is not the best player in the world because he’s a d*ck!! Being a d*ck has nothing to do with how good you are at playing football.

Did Djokovic lose his title of best tennis plyer in the world after his comments re: women recently? No he did not. He just proved he’s also a d*ck!

Did Ronaldo miss out on the Ballon D’Or for a few years because he won’t let his son meet his mother? Did he f*ck. He’s just a d*ck but you have to acknowledge he’s very good at playing football.

Do we say Johnny Cash couldn’t write a song or sing in tune because he was a racist?

I loved Suarez at Liverpool. He was amazing. I will probably never see a better player play for Liverpool in my lifetime.

I do however acknowledge that he is a racist. His behaviour was despicable and disgusting. He brought shame on the club and the fans.

We should never forget that. But we can’t sit here and say he’s not the best player in the world because he’s a racist. That is just silly.

I know it pained F365 to write a piece like that about a racist. They would much prefer to write that piece about an absolute gent but their job is to write about football and if they aren’t writing about Suarez challenging for the title of best player in the world then they’re not doing their job correctly.

Also Paul – read the article again – and focus on this quote ‘While the many controversies that follow him should never be ignored, nor should his undeniable talent’.

F365 specifically mention that we should not ignore his previous actions. What more do you want? Will we just ignore the best player in the world right now?

Will we pretend that he doesn’t exist? Or should we acknowledge that he’s the best player in the world (or close to it) but question the content of his character?

Forever knowing that he is a despicable human being who can play football as good as any other person today.
Gough, LFC, Dublin


Oh do shush on Suarez
Not sure who’s rattled the cage of Paul Murphy, Manchester, however I have to defend F365 here. Whilst I understand and somewhat agree with his point of lauding someone who’s probably not of upstanding moral and ethical conduct, F365 clearly reference that very point by saying he is the ‘continental Jamie Vardy – in more ways than one’.

This is quite clearly a reference to his questionable character. The article is about his sheer brilliance mixed with being a complete c*nt. That’s the brilliance of Suarez whether you personally like him or not. And that’s the point.

To go off on a tangent to discuss, in detail, what a dick Suarez is not required at this time. It’s been done before and will be done again the next time he bites/racially abuses/kills someone.

Relax and have a nice day.
Glen / Spur up North \


Should Vardy be allowed to move on?
This is partly in response to Paul Murphy in this morning’s mailbox but also a point I’ve been considering a few weeks with the increasing profile of Jamie Vardy.

First of all, racism in any form is wrong. Deplorable. This should be beyond debate.

What isn’t as clear cut is whether a person should be continually tagged for their previous wrongs when commenting on their achievements.

I think it is easy to pass judgment upon Luis Suarez as he is serial offender. And even though Jamie Vardy, whatever you think of him generally, has the one racism ‘incident’ against his name, this should not be written off.

My point is that, Football365 have stated that it will continue to point out the racist incident every time they or other people laud his achievements. Is this fair? Just because Vardy has had an amazing season, should his moral deficiencies be highlighted more than if his season was similar to last?

In the same way that Football365 are on record as saying that the brilliance and good form of a player does not write any moral wrongs and doesn’t “answer the critics”, surely it is also true that this brilliance does not worsen the crime? If Vardy was struggling for form or fitness, would the racism be used a stick to beat him with further then? I don’t think it would, certainly not by the reasoned writers at Football365.

I am not defending Jamie Vardy and there is a distinct undercurrent of menace about him. But I also believe in second chances and at some point he should be allowed to move on, providing there is remorse and no repetition.
Beano, Kent


Selling Vieira helped Arsenal to 2006 CL final…
This is going to sound weird but I don’t think Arsenal would have got to the Champions League final if Vieira had still been at the club in 2006.

The reason is that with Vieira in the team, we would never have left it to the last day to finish fourth.

That Champions League run was built on defensive solidity and was our insurance policy against not finishing fourth. I think we managed 10 clean sheets in a row in the competition leading up to the final. Wenger’s teams have been capable of safety-first football but they normally don’t bother with it despite the fact the 2006 Champions League run and our last successful run in 1994 was built on such an approach.

In many ways nothing sums up better what Arsenal has become than that season. We didn’t go all out for the Champions League because we wanted to win the thing. We did it because we were afraid of the final ramifications of not being in the Champions League the following season.

It’s this that annoys the hell out of gooners that just want to support a football club again. Wenger apologists quote the club’s financial progress, seasons in the Champions League – I even saw one at the weekend try and claim Wenger’s win percentage means he is the equal of Fergie.

Deep down every Arsenal fan knows we are being sold a pup. And now our fan base is split into three – those that admit it, those that realise it but don’t want to say anything and those that are in denial but secretly know the truth.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Some Tottenham What Ifs
Plenty of these for Spurs, but here are the most obvious:

– What if we’d had the vegetarian option before West Ham in 2006?
– What if Redknapp hadn’t decided he was going to manage England?
– What if we’d bought some actual players, rather than Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen that January?
– What if Bayern had done the thing that it seemed impossible not to and WON THE SODDING FINAL?
– What if AVB turned out to be as good as he should have been?
– What if Bale had decided to stick around?
– What if we’d listened to the not-inconsiderable number of #PochOut morons last year?
– This one is the scariest: what if we hadn’t given a chance to a young Harry Kane?!
Alex G, THFC (finally on the right track though; all’s well that ends well eh)


One big Chelsea What If
The biggest What If for any Chelsea fan like myself has to be…What If it hadn’t been raining in Moscow that night and John Terry didn’t slip and his penalty had gone in, he would have won us our first Champions League and under Avram Grant of all people, who may have gone on to the best manager in the world, maybe.
Mike Clewer


Some Manchester United What Ifs
As a long-time reader and first-time contributor, I found Alex AFC’s mail pretty interesting and accurate for that matter regarding Arsenal however if you ask me, I’d have been inclined to add ‘Not selling Bendtner!’ (lolz).

I then got thinking about my beloved United’s ‘Big Ifs’ then I realised that we were arguably the most successful British club in the past 15-20 years and there was a lot to be thankful for which other clubs could only have dreamed for (Class of 92, Ferguson, Treble, Ronaldo etc.) however some moments do stick out over the recent years that still get at me despite the glory years of recent past.

In no specific order:

– What if we signed Ronaldinho – apparently he was on the verge of signing after The 2002 World Cup but Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona got in the way and the rest is history. If he had signed for United we would probably reinforce our ‘pulling power’ to sign big names and perhaps won another Champions League.

– What if Tomasz Kuszczak hadn’t got sent off late in the FA Cup (Quarter Final) in 2008 resulting in Rio Ferdinand going in goals and United subsequently losing 1-0. Chelsea who were at their peak got knocked out that evening and United would have undoubtedly gone on and won the Cup and complete the Treble again! (We settled for a Title and Champions League double only in 2008/2009).

– What if Nani wasn’t sent off vs. Real Madrid 2012/2013 at OT when we had the game in control – please see above, the less I think about it, the better my heart rate. We would probably have pushed on with Fergie’s last big shot before losing to Bayern Munich in the final.

– What if we sold Rooney in 2010/2013 when he threatened to leave – keeping all views of his form and ability now aside, we would have got a healthy amount (£40 mill PSG reported) and perhaps gone on to get a Benzema or Falcao (pre-injuries) and pushed on for more success and got rid of the problems and tribulations that he brings to the squad till this day!

– What if we never signed Bebe? – Probably (should) have signed Van Der Vaart who then went on to set the Premier League on fire at Spurs.
Please also apply same ruling to messrs Anderson, Kleberson, Young, Zaha, Fellaini, Rojo etc. etc. Gosh, we have had some stinkers!

– What if Sir Alex ‘held on’ for a couple more years – There would be no Moyes and no LVG (wishful thinking) and most likely a finish in the top three with Champions League qualification and maybe a Cup. In an ideal world, he would have liked to have continued however I reckon If Fergie was retiring in the manner that he did, the lure of being his successor would be the clincher for Pep who was always going to leave Bayern at the end of his contract.

– What if Queens Park Rangers held on? There would have been no Aguerrrrrooooooo for at least another year anyway and MUFC could have escaped with another title. (I’m looking at you Rafael, gifting two late goals to Everton at OT shifting the league momentum to Citeh a few games earlier)

– What if we kept Pogba? – What if Park Ji Sung and Rafael never played in midfield in THAT game which supposedly was the final nail in the coffin for Pogba before he decided to sign for Juventus? What if Fergie with all due respect took a slice of humble pie and played him as he wished?! We would have had the best young talent in Europe and possibly with that, still some pulling power to attract more talent. Oh well…He would have probably gone to Real Madrid for £120 million anyway eventually. Better to have loved and lost than not loved at all.

I’ll go sulk in the corner. We can’t have it all I suppose.
AA7, Glasgow


… Here’s my United version:

– What if Nani hadn’t gotten sent off against Madrid? We were on top for that game and the red was dubious, a yellow at most for neglect
– What if Wellbeck had tried another shot against Neuer, again we would have won.
– What if we hadn’t sold Beckham? Almost certainly we wouldn’t have signed Ronaldo (also, what if we had signed Ronaldinho and sold Beckham)
– What if we had sold Rooney a little earlier (Chelsea the season after Fergie had retired)
– What if Fergie retired in 2002?
– What if having billionaires buying clubs was illegal?
Man United’s best sold XI
I think a lot of us football fans often wonder ‘what could have been?’ when we see some of our former players flourishing with other clubs. Di Maria at PSG, Lukaku at Everton, Fabianski at Swansea… OK maybe some more than others.

Anyway, I decided to put together a ‘Players we have sold that are still playing XI’ for my club, Man U. I’d be interested to see how it compares to other clubs. The only rule is that they have to still be playing, otherwise it’s less of a “what could have been?” and more a ‘best ever team of former players’. So I can’t include Schmeichel because he’s 52 years old and would be rubbish. This is a team that could be playing this season, had we not sold them. So here’s my XI:

GK: Ben Amos

RB: Danny Simpson
CB: Gerard Pique
CB: Ryan Shawcross
LB: Patrice Evra

CM: Paul Pogba
CM: Danny Drinkwater

RM: Cristiano Ronaldo
LM: Angel Di Maria

CF: Danny Welbeck
CF: Javier Hernandez

I’d say that’s a team that could win the league, if a bit weak at the back. Certainly better than our starting XI now.

Obviously this is pure fantasy but I don’t care.

Kind regards
Horse (I know Drinkwater and Shawcross didn’t make any firs- team appearances, but they were on the books and that’s good enough for me and I make the rules) the Horse, Cheshire


And what about Palace?
The question of what ifs raised this morning resonates significantly with me, being a Palace fan it feels like the what ifs are part of the ‘Palace DNA’ that Pardew is so fond of referring to.

The 1990 FA Cup final seems a good place to start, if Mark Hughes hadn’t scored an equaliser nine minutes from time, Palace would have entered the Cup Winners Cup the following season. A competition that Manchester United went on to win and arguably Palace would have had a good run in, finishing 3rd in the league 90/91 being our best ever finish. Who knows what European football would have done to the club at that point and entering in to the Premier League era.

Selling Ian Wright and Mark Bright meant the first season in the Premier League was a struggle, with Palace being relegated on the last day (watch out for a theme here), on goal difference with 49 points (!). We were immediately promoted back but at the end of the 1994/95 season the league was reduced from 22 to 20 clubs, Palace being relegated on the last day of the season, again.

Not to worry though, David Hopkin stepped up in the 90th minute of the play-off final and once again we were at the top table. Obviously this would not last long and relegation swiftly followed. Financial mismanagement put the club in administration and the third tier of English football was beckoning. On the last day of the season (again) though, an 87th minute Dougie Freedman goal at Stockport kept us in the league by the skin of our teeth. A massive what if as for a club in administration, dropping down the leagues would have been even more damaging. We scratched around for a bit in the second tier before a play-off win against West Ham in 2004 gave us another chance at the Premier League. But guess what, last day of the season (see, definite theme), 82nd minute, Jonathan Fortune scores for Charlton making it 2-2 and relegates us.

Another administration followed in January 2010 and a 10-point deduction left us in a straight head to head against Sheffield Wednesday, on the last day of the season (FFS!) to decide who would be relegated. A 2-2 draw was enough for us and administration was staved off at the last minute by the CPFC2010 consortium led by Steve Parrish. A 1-0 play-off win in the 105th minute against Watford has now seen us back at the top table but forgive a Palace fan for thinking what if as we dangle perilously close to the relegation zone. But surely this is what it is all about, much rather this than the same old 8th to 14th finishes year after year.


More sliding doors…
One of my favourite sliding doors moments goes back to August 2004 and Wayne Rooney leaving Everton. It’s been fairly well documented that Manchester United had no plans to move for him that summer, but their hand was forced when Newcastle (at that point coming off the back of three consecutive top five finishes) had a straight cash £25 million bid accepted. So what would have happened had that bid never came in or Man Utd decided not to match Newcastle’s offer? Given that Everton, his boyhood club, went on to finish fourth that season there’s no guarantee he would have simply joint Man Utd the following summer. Aside from missing out on the development he enjoyed under Ferguson (which arguably removed his flair and made him a more effective team player), would Ronaldo have been afforded the same freedom to develop from a tricky winger to a thoroughbred forward?

On the other hand had a signed for Newcastle I’m guessing he would have joined bright young prospects Dyer, Jenas and Bramble in thinking he’d made it and leaving unfulfilled potential while moving around between mid-table sides while we collectively bemoaned his wasted talent and fantasised about what he may have become.
Kevin, Nottingham


Sell? Why don’t Leicester buy Draxler?
As the season nears its conclusion we are seeing an increase in noise about what transfers will happen over the summer, especially with all the sexy new managers arriving at the big dogs (Man City, Chelsea and United (maybe)), with the rich also-rans wanting to catch-up (Liverpool and probably now Everton), and clubs trying to remember the password to their £4bn bank account (Arsenal).

We are also hearing more regular stories about the likes of Mahrez and Kante leaving us (gossip today). If PSG, Barcelona or Real came in with £30m+ offers, then yes, I can see why those two may want to go (especially PSG, given both have an affinity with Paris), but otherwise why would they or anyone else want to leave? And why would we let them? With a pre-season involving games against Barcelona and PSG, Champions League football, and owners that will now massively increase the wage bill, I can see three to four high-quality arrivals joining to start chapter two of the greatest sporting story ever TM.

So who might they be? They need to be tireless workers, have big hearts, and be an improvement to what we have already.

Players in the mould of Suarez, Veratti or Vidal. OKay, out of reach, but what about Draxler? Still wishful thinking but as everyone’s perception of Leicester as a football team has evolved, I expect (hope?) our power in the transfer market to similarly surprise in the summer.
Phil Bert (of course the real reason to stay would be the Charity Shield) Fox
Football without sound is criminal
Peter G, Pennsylvania – no, just no. Watching football without sound should be listed as a criminal activity. Forget the commentators, crowd noise and atmosphere is imperative to the viewing experience. The cadence created by fans through the ebb and flow of the match is something to be savoured, not muted. Think back to the games you have watched behind closed doors, when you can hear the coach and players shouting at each other. What is the difference between a game like that and the school football matches you played as a youngster? It is impossible to appreciate the raised skill levels without the context of a full stadium making a racket.

There seems to be a growing trend – in London, especially – of showing games in pubs without sound. This has to stop. Football is nothing without an atmosphere. Listening to a commentator droning on is a small price to pay for enjoying the beautiful game in its fullest form. Can anyone tell me they would have enjoyed the Manchester City game as much last night without the cacophonous backdrop created by the PSG fans?
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire


Old School Numbering
Weirdly enough I enjoyed Rob Kingswinford’s email this morning about numbering 1-11 and can relate to it. I took in Sheffield Wednesday v Blackburn on Tuesday night and after the 25th minute where number 5 Glen Loovens got injured for Wednesday a look up at the score board screen told me their numbers for the playing 11 read thus:

1, 32, 15, 23, 36, 33, 20, 21, 18, 14, 45

What this meant was I hadn’t a clue at times who was playing where and who was who due to the fact I don’t know what certain players look like as this was my first time at Hillsborough (I like to take in various games around England). Added to the fact that Wallace, Lee, Lopez and Forestieri are small, dimunitive, dark haired players I often couldn’t tell them apart either. I was definitely wishing for a good old school 1-11 number system to help me out.
Things used to be much simpler.
Jonathan Boal (Groundhopper)

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