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I just thought I would send a short mail with the letters of ‘LVG’ in their incorrect positions. Just because it seems appropriate.
Let’s flush the ‘Dutch turd’
Carrick in midfield, Lingard in the number 10 position, Mata on the left, Young up top condemning Martial to stay on the wing, welcome to Mad King Louis’s tactical masterclass!
The only reason we were level after 70 minutes was because four times in the first half, Mensah had to come to central defence to cover for the inept Blind and an equally disappointing Smalling. It’s telling that as soon as he went off, we went down faster than a hooker in Amsterdam.
I have been very supportive of this Dutch turd but it’s now time to get rid.
Western ‘brackets are not necessary after a loss’ Armo Shalik
…An utterly shambolic performance last night against a very good Spurs side. This game was a clear indication of how far Spurs have risen and how much United have regressed.
In days of old, Spurs would have folded and allowed United to run riot after that opening 20 minutes. Not this Spurs side, though. This is a team with the capability and mentality to challenge for the title for years to come. After a lacklustre opening 20 minutes, they galvanized themselves and comprehensively beat a United side that cannot even be described as functional.
Forget five Spurs players who could walk into the United team. Bar De Gea and Martial, United were inferior to Spurs in every position.
This was a game where all of United’s flaws were ruthlessly exposed.
Despite dominating for the first 20 mins, United did not manage a single shot on target. There was no width in attack, which can be directly attributed to Van Gaal’s insistence on playing Mata on the right.
The look on Mata’s face at half time was one of bewilderment and frustration. If there was a picture that encapsulated LVG’s reign, that would be it. Even his own players are confused.
Young coming on for Rashford made sense as the poor lad was so out of the game, he might as well have stayed back in the hotel. However, ignoring Martial and playing Young up top is, far and away, the most ridiculous decision LVG has made in his United tenure.
I could go on and on (defensive solidity is a myth; relying on an 18-year-old defender to hold the fort etc) but surely this has to be the final nail in the coffin for LVG.
The biggest problem is, even if Pochettino had played Kane wide left, Eriksen up top, Lamela through the middle and Alli wide right, United would have still got beat.
It is simply not good enough, and it has not been for a while now.
Good night Louis. Enjoy your retirement.
Ming Kiat, Singapore
…Granted I’ve never been paid money to be a manager of a football club, but I feel I know a few things, one of them being, play players in their correct positions and make obvious, logical choices.
Over the last two years, we’ve seen Van Gaal make a wide array of horrible decisions when it comes to our lineup.
Here are a couple of things I feel might have helped us over the last 2 years:
Never have tried three at the back and claim it was your philosophy, that philosophy didn’t last long.
Play Di Maria in his correct position, he was never a striker.
Don’t play Fellaini as a No. 10 or a striker (or at all really)
Give Schneiderlin and Herrera a consistent run of games as CM, it made no sense when either of them had a good game they’d be gone from the line-up next game.
Play Mata, (the guy who won two consecutive player of the year awards at Chelsea as a No. 10) at No.10
Give Januzaj a run of games on the wing, he’s young, young players make mistakes occasionally but he has too much talent to be wasted.
Football really isn’t that complicated, Van Gaal has stifled this team’s creativity under the guise of his ‘philosophy’.
I don’t care that United have most likely missed out on the Champions League, I care that I have to watch them playing uninspiring football when any idiot can see ways to fix things.
…A striker, two wingers and an attacking midfielder on the field for United. The striker and attacking midfielder play from the wing, while the wingers play through the middle.
Louis Van Gaal’s strategy is to make really weird decisions so that if by some miracle it works, he looks like a genius. Too bad they never work.
Countless questionable decisions. A boring philosophy. Players playing out of position. A delusional love for players like Rojo and Fellaini. Fans begging for change. Surely Van Gaal won’t be here next season?
Fosu-Mensah’s pretty good though, hey? So there’s that.
Gaaavie (United should sign Tottenham), Cape Town
…So you’re getting overrun in midfield. You decide to make a change at half-time. That change is to put Ashley Young on up front. You have either lost your marbles, inhaled a bag of glue or you are Louis Van Gaal.
Bring on the Mou.
Congrats to spurs. Well deserved.
Garey Vance, MUFC
Where’s Man United’s right side?
I loved your article on dead-heading the Iron Tulip. But there was something that came on my mind when I say that Opta image. United severely lacked an outlet on the right side. Their attacks were so one-dimensional that Spurs did not really need to press that high, they just needed to run back to their right side and make sure Walker did not overlap. United’s attacks have been left-sided for a while (circa 3 months). All they needed was a top team to expose them.
Was it a coincidence that Spurs found great joy down Utd’s isolated right side? And we all keep on blaming Darmian. When a RB is left to run the whole flank without help from midfielders, the result is unsurprising. Spurs just needed to double attackers on their own left side to exploit the gaping hole. For Pete’s sake, the best teams in the league have the best right wingers.
Leicester have Mahrez, Spurs have Lamela, Arsenal have Campbell, Iwobi (of recent Alexis has been deployed there), City have KDB, West Ham have Antonio.
Man utd seems to be the only exception. It leads me to the question- why was Angel Di Maria sold for f**ks sake? Damned be philosophy, it’s common sense. Lingard has improved in the role but he is not a natural right winger. Mata just doesn’t have the pace for it. Memphis can’t do it because he seems to prefer wrestling to role-adapting. That is why City play Navas when there is no KDB. That is why Ronaldo, then Valencia (he might have done a job today) were mainstays in Fergie’s latter teams.
That is why Roy played Henderson, then Lallana there for the national team while Vardy and Sturridge are on the bench. As easy as it is, its uniqueness and importance are severly overlooked. The Iron Tulip seems to have his eyes closed to the right side.
Nedu (is it a surprise Chelsea’s best player is a right-winging Willian?), Lagos
More pretty depressing thoughts
Well, that was an awful result. While there are still games to play and points available, losing today all but ends any realistic chance we had of making the top four – and deservedly so. We have been awful almost all season long, with one or two brief rays of sunshine in an otherwise stormy sky, so it stands to reason that we should miss out.
1. There wasn’t much between the teams in the first half. Spurs had the better chances (in that they had some), but failed to take advantage of any of them; Lamela really should have got his header on target. Goodness only knows what the score would have been if he had put that one in. United’s failure to trouble Lloris indicated that we were going to struggle to see out the second half at 0-0.
2. Speaking of Lamela, he really should have had a yellow card for diving around the 30-minute mark. His attempt to con the referee into thinking that Fosu-Mensah had pulled him back was just embarrassing. Dele Alli, however, should definitely not have been booked for simulation in the second half. There was clearly contact with Darmian – though it wasn’t a foul – so I think to call that a dive is a little harsh.
3. I’m not entirely sure what Cameron Borthwick-Jackson did to deserve losing his place to Rojo. I know he missed a match or two with injury but he was doing way better than Rojo has been before that, so should have come back in once fit again. I had high hopes for Rojo in his first season but he really hasn’t kicked on and if someone made us a decent offer for him in the summer I’d take it for sure. I can’t see why Barcelona keep getting linked with this guy.
4. Fosu-Mensah has been very impressive since his debut. While there is undoubtedly still plenty for him to learn, he seems like a very exciting prospect. He is fully justifying his place in the starting line-up at the moment, which is great to see – I just hope the knock he picked up doesn’t keep him out for too long.
5. In fact, the game seemed to turn on his departure from the pitch. I’m not sure whether it is a coincidence or genuinely a knock-on effect of his absence but we just went to pot around that time; within eight minutes of him being substitued we’d conceded three times. That 10/15 minutes was some of the worst football we’ve played this year and Spurs duly punished utterly awful defending.
6. I only realised Carrick was playing at around the 70-minute mark. What will likely (read: hopefully) be his final season with us has probably been one too many. His defenders used to say that the critics just didn’t see what he contributes to the team; now he just doesn’t really contribute very much to the team and it’s noticeable. Surely Herrera would be a better option at this point.
7. Kyle Walker is a bell-end. Depay isn’t much better but Walker needlessly started all that nonsense. The end result is that they both just looked ridiculous. I will never, ever understand why it’s acceptable for a defender to be doing nothing but holding an opposing attacker back while making absolutely no attempt to play the ball. Walker wasn’t even looking at the ball at that point, he just had both arms around Depay holding him back – how is that not a foul? I don’t even get what Walker was reacting to, because Depay didn’t appear to have done an awful lot when Walker lashed out.
8. Other than Martial’s dance past almost all of the Spurs defence and poorly placed shot, there really wasn’t any positive attacking from United. Serious work is needed on either bringing new options in or getting the best out of the options we have got in the summer, whoever is in charge.
9. I had been calling for Lingard to get a chance in the first team for a while before this season and he’s done well at times but just lately we’ve seen very little return from his selection. I don’t want to see him sold or anything, but we definitely need competition for that position – there’s just no one else available to push him for his place.
10. I thought Mata was pretty good in the first half, he was all over the pitch and was back defending all the time. Which makes me wonder – why the hell was Mata playing so deep? He is an excellent number 10, so let him play there! It’s a complete waste of his talent to have him playing as either a winger or a very deep-lying midfielder. He’s just one of the numerous players to have been shackled by the consistently negative tactics employed by van Gaal.
There was talk before the game on the Sunday Supplement about United being “desperate” to keep hold of van Gaal; I don’t think there can realistically be any reason for that to be the case. While his use of young players is obviously a plus, it’s literally the only good thing about his time in charge. Everything else has been completely underwhelming and massively under-achieving. He doesn’t deserve to see out his contract and should be replaced at the earliest opportunity – not because of this match but because of the season as a whole.
The real victory
While my heart doesn’t want to accept that Spurs can be this consistently good all season and still miss out on the title, I can take the most beautiful solace of having recorded evidence of Tim Sherwood having to grit his teeth and begrudgingly voice over a piece of footage explaining how Erik Lamela has become a wonderful Premier League footballer. Totally in spite of him.
Just beautiful stuff.
Sean, THFC, Dublin (Lads, It’s Tottenham)
Leicester = Dean Gaffney
Obviously for the most part I’m thrilled that Leicester are so close to winning the title and think it would be great for the league and the sport in general. However the bitter resentful Arsenal supporter part of me can’t help but begrudge them their success. It’s like we’re a good and well known actor but haven’t had a serious and critically acclaimed role for 12 years now. We’re talented but we always just miss out on the big roles to slightly more talented actors like Di Caprio and Hardy (Chelsea and City). However this season Di Caprio is in jail and Hardy’s in rehab. Therefore everyone thinks we’re a shoo-in for the lead role in for Christopher Nolan’s latest guaranteed Oscar Winner. However after a number of impressive performances in pantos around the country earns him a role in the West End for which he receives a Laurence Olivier Award, the big Christopher Nolan role ends up going to Dean Gaffney. You can’t begrudge him the success and there’s no doubt he deserved it. It’s also obviously extremely entitled of you to expect the role, but you just help feeling like you’ve missed a massive opportunity and that you might not get another one for a long, long time.
Maybe Dean Gaffney is harsh. Martin Freeman is probably a lot more appropriate.
Vardy = Henry
Vardy is the closest thing the EPL has had to Thierry Henry since he left for Barca nearly a decade ago. Look at both his goals yesterday, and so many others this season; he’s lightning-quick, deceptively strong when one on one with a defender, and Vardy has shown a few times this season that he is a master of opening his body to curve a shot into the far bottom corner from the tightest of angles. Also, how many times has that first goal been scored this season – perfect long-ball (‘Hollywood pass?’) from Drinkwater from his own half to Vardy, who then only has the goalie to beat thanks to his pace and strength.
They’re actually going to win the damn thing, aren’t they?
Andrew M, AFC, (Football, bloody hell), Australia
Predictable weekend for Leicester
Another clean sheet
Another game closer to the title
Another week when the team they are playing are denied a strong penalty claim. I know referees buying into the ‘Leicester fairytale’ was discussed last week but we had another example of it against Sunderland.
I’m sure Leicester fans will disagree with what I’m about to say but even those with the bluest-tinted spectacles would say the three claims in the last two games were 50/50 decisions. On that basis they would have drew with Southampton and probably drew with Sunderland today meaning only a three-point gap to Spurs. I know every team can moan about ifs and buts, but they have had some help over the past few games at least.
This isn’t a dig at Leicester, I hope they win the League and I’m sure they will, just shows how everyone is getting carried away with their success, seemingly even the officials.
Origi > Martial
Due to his recent excellent performances that excel his years, does this mean that he is now worth £70m like Martial??
Scored more goals than Martial and currently looks the more complete player.
Ed’s weekend thoughts
Monday morning mailbox and me, going together like a horse and marriage.
* We won a game! The Canaries came into this game off the back of a hard-fought win over Newcastle United, and would have fancied their chances against Crystal Palace. Fortunately for me, my team came out on top. That said, I hope Norwich do enough to stay up, largely because they have actually got on with the job of trying to survive in the Premier League rather than becoming a three-ring circus of a sh#tstorm like the three clubs below them.
* Nothing shows how messed up this Palace win was quite like the fact they prevented Aston Villa from being relegated.
* As with last week, Palace played quite well but rode a bit of luck. A penalty could have been awarded to City, but I don’t think there was much in it. Delaney and Jarvis came together, with Jarvis off balance before the contact, so it looked worse than it was when Delaney out-strengthed ™ him. The Palace man didn’t put an arm out, it was a bit like an ice hockey check where a small but energetic forward goes to hit a hulking defenceman but only ends up bouncing off him.
* The Guardian have pointed out it was Palace’s old guard who led the way, which is probably why they awarded man of the match to Mile Jedinak. The BBC, by way of contrast, gave it to Pape Soare for the way he kept Matt Jarvis quiet.
There was also redemption of sorts for Wayne Hennessey, for whom the game served as his season in microcosm – he produced some world-class saves but also dropped an easy cross.
* Last time Jason Puncheon scored, Steven ‘Stevie G’ Gerrard was still a Liverpool player.
* Norwich’s game was a tale of two January signings. The turning point of the game was when Timm Klose, who has settled in well, went off injured. Palace would have fancied their chances more against Sebastien Bassong. On the other hand, the introduction of Patrick Bamford provided a bit of light relief for the Palace fans.
While at Palace, Bamford barely got a look-in, calling many of us to question his attitude and application – being behind Connor Wickham was one thing, but to also be behind Dwight Gayle, Fraizer Campbell and Marouane Chamakh and you start speculating as to how hard he’s working in training. First, he shanked a gilt-edged chance into the crowd. Then, it was he who failed to intercept Puncheon as he cut across the middle of the pitch.
* Next up for Palace is Everton on Wednesday night, a team we can go level on points with (albeit from an extra game) if we beat. I’m not confident, but what we saw against Norwich was a team capable of being resolute in defence (but Dieumerci Mbokani is no Romelu Lukaku) and causing disorganisation in the opposition.
* Remember when the papers called the England manager a ‘Jack ass’ for not (in part) selecting Jack Rodwell?
* Sunderland have long been susceptible to long balls over the top, especially when Cattermole commits high up the field and doesn’t win the ball. That said, it’s always fun to watch the top, top PFMing of Sam Allardyce absolving himself and putting all the blame on his players’ mistakes, even if the number of different managers who’ve failed to get that team organised means it probably is the players.
* There is a backlash against Leicester, and a backlash against the backlash. I’m inclined to agree with Richard Williams, writing in Saturday’s Guardian, who pointed out that Crystal Palace fans applauded Claudio Ranieri before their game the other week, and stayed to applaud Leicester City off afterwards. Williams pointed out that City are doing it for all of us who don’t support a traditional big club. That said, the City fans’ repeated chanting of “are you watching Tottenham?” felt like an unnecessary exacerbation of a rivalry that doesn’t really exist. Hotspur fans are pinching themselves almost as much as City fans, there’s no need to be tw@ttish about it.
* Timothy Fosu Mensah wears shirt #51. One for the purists there, clearly Louis van Gaal was reading the mailbox last week.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven
This Newcastle side…just embarrassing
Newcastle’s squad has collectively hoisted the white flag. This is probably the angriest I’ve ever been with the team I support. I’ve mentioned earlier in the year that I believe this Newcastle team is not a relegation team in terms of ability, but is the single worst team in terms of attitude that the EPL has ever seen. There have been worse sides in this league, but never a side this gutless.
If Newcastle was getting relegated with a bunch of patronisingly called ‘plucky’ Championship-level players it would be ok. That is not what is happening, these are experienced, talented players throwing in the towel.
NUFC has players who demonstrate in their national sides that they are good enough, but simply can’t be bothered trying in the league. They simply don’t care. Think about this, every player knows that getting relegated means staff cuts at their club. These are guys going in to work each morning, saying hello to the reception staff, the physio, the media liaison and being aware that those guys are getting sacked in a few months if they don’t lift their game. And they aren’t trying. That championship striker who can’t quite make it into double figures in the EPL like he could for his Championship club last year hasn’t let the rest of the staff down. He tried and came up short. Newcastle’s players aren’t bothered to try.
Even looking at the players as purely selfish, it’s baffling. Moussa Sissoko keeps on talking about how he wants to leave Newcastle for a Champions League club and clearly hasn’t got his heart at the club anymore. How hard is it for him to figure out that scouts from bigger clubs are reporting his current performance and professionalism to his prospective employers? Too hard for him apparently. Janmaat is similar, letting slip he wants out of NUFC and now having the suspicion of faking injury attached to him. A nice red flag for any club interested in buying him about his loyalty and commitment. Would you buy him? You’d want your head checked.
Baffling. Why do players in relegated sides give up? They have already damaged their reputation by their performances. Why compound that by acting unprofessionally?
Both Sissoko and Janmaat will try to leave NUFC at the end of the season. Good. But if your club tries to buy them, take that as the first sign your recruiters are incompetent.
Hugo (NUFC) Adelaide
On Hatem Ben Phoenix
After yesterday all the talk will be about Leicester securing a place in the Champions League, which is a phenomenal achievement but in France a guy by the name of Hatem Ben Arfa scored a stunning hat trick and put in yet another world-class performance this time against Rennes, this season he has scored 16 goals in 29 league games, only Zlatan has scored more in Ligue Un, which makes you question why Newcastle let such a top talent leave, he may be 29 and in the past had a questionable attitude towards the game but he has truly risen from the ashes whilst at Nice this season, I would not be surprised to see him at a big team next season in the Premier League or elsewhere in Europe.
Mike Clewer, CFC