We need some football to move on. So come on Huddersfield. Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Fun money fact
I had a long mail about the money dominance but forgot to send. Anyway the most interesting fact:
In the 98/99 transfer window, United spent £45m. That is more than 11 teams spent in this latest transfer window (Southampton, Bournemouth, West Brom, West Ham, Stoke, Palace, Burley, Newcastle, Brighton, Swansea and Huddersfield) despite all the riches to be found in today’s Premier League. In that season, Arsenal came second spending just over £10m and Chelsea third spending £27m and Leeds in fourth with £8m. I’m not going to give you everyone’s transfers but you can see the big picture…
Rob A (getting stats on 90s is hard) AFC
Why we should embrace Man City dominance
There are a few positives given City’s dominance of the Premier League…
1. It will force United, Chelsea and the chasing pack to focus on winning most of their other games which means attacking football. Honestly, Jose attacks the other teams far more because we have no choice but to win. It forced him to attack Arsenal as compared to being defensive against Liverpool.
2. City playing swashbuckling football should show future and upcoming coaches that football can be won by dominance, by elegance and by attacking your way out of trouble. That’s better for the game. That’s better than the percentage football that coaches began to adopt explaining means to the end as the reasoning.
3. Watching attacking football is far more fun than attrition based battles. It is glorious to see that again in the premier league. Arsenal, Liverpool, City attack with far more abandon than the other teams.
4. Coaches hopefully realize that playing to their strengths is more important than just nullifying opponents.
5. Teams have to invest to get the best attacking players to come to the Premier League. We see some stars and some glorious skill.
6. As a trickle down effect of one team dominating the league, we see more teams take the cups and the champions league super seriously. We see more English teams playing better in the champions league resulting in better calibre of talent.
If a dull defensive team starts to dominate football and a league for a few years then football is in trouble.
Sudarsan Ravi (Romelu is a bitcoin. Good one day. Bust another. Depends on his form and our anger)
City are just jammy b***ards
All those writing in to defend City, saying they are a ‘fantastically well run club’, of course they bloody are, they have unlimited cash. I would have a fantastically run house with no debt and a fleet of cars etc if I had billions to spend whenever I felt like it. Getting the crap out of the way, City are the best team in the league at present, of that there is no doubt and anyone saying otherwise is in denial. The issue many have, myself included as a United fan, is that it’s a similar story to the original Jack Walker at Blackburn one, albeit on a hugely deformed scale. I have no problems with the fact City outplayed us on Sunday, I have no major issues with the fact that City have spent far more money than anyone else over the last few years and that is now paying off but don’t pretend for a second that it is through years of hard work or fantastic club stewardship, it’s a big fat injection of cash, nowt more, nowt less. People will point to the sponsorship and commercial deals that are now in place, how do they think they were put in place? Buying in the best commercial team of course – sheesh.
Someone in this morning’s mailbox stated that football lost its soul years ago and all the big clubs are businesses, true but I take personal pride in the fact that my club got there through, funnily enough, years of hard work and fantastic stewardship. United were up for sale in 1989 for £10m, now we are reputedly worth about £2.5bn and let’s not forget that our ever so lovely owners brought not billions in cash but hundreds of millions of debt into the club. There is a big difference.
The bottom line is that whoever plays the best football, scores the most goals and wins the most games deservedly wins the league but any City fan, or other ‘neutral’, wants to re-write history they can bugger off. City are where they are through buying the best players, the best facilities and getting the best manager, paid for by billions of pounds from their owner’s pockets, not through a careful building job over many years. It matters not to the history books, who will only list the winners of the competitions but it doesn’t change the facts. Speak to any self-made millionaire and ask them what they think of lottery winners, jammy bastards will probably be the response and that, in a nutshell, is City.
Paul, Man Utd
Alex is kinda right. Yes United and Liverpool have dominated the league in the past which was down to having well run clubs, excellent managers and a massive fan base which existed well before their periods of dominance. Yes United have always spent money (as have Liverpool who spent almost as much as United up until a decade ago) and it does seem unfair to have a pop at City for doing the same.
However, what is happening here is a cataclysmic shift in not only the amounts of money spent, how it is spent and who spends it but what it means to be a football club.
Firstly City have limitless money. You could say they are limited by FFP but you only have to look at PSG signing Neymar and Mbappe to know that FFP stands for financial fair play in name only. United and the rest of the English League are limited (with the possible exception of Chelsea but who knows what’s happening there?) by the money they make. Now I’m not going to jump up and down and shout about how United exploiting their brand to push ahead of other teams is incredibly fair and right but the fact is that it didn’t give us as much of an advantage as what City have got, we are still limited.
This means that City face no consequences for cycling their players in and out like nobodies business. United have spent a lot of money on players in the last couple of years it’s true but the volume of players City have bought up has been staggering. They’ve almost spent more money since their take over than United have in the entirety of the Premier League era. No other club in the league can compete with that ability to constantly improve and tweak their squad. We can say Fergie did it but there were more than a couple of seasons where he was outspent by rivals (including Arsenal surprisingly) so that level of advantage wasn’t there. With the current ownership and lack of FFP rules City will dominate.
The other issue is that City are no longer just a football club – they are many football clubs that a part of a larger consortium. Melbourne City, New York City and others are all part of the this larger collections of brands. United and Arsenal, despite their insane marketing drives remain as independent companies (albeit run by hideous businessmen). It wouldn’t be fair to say that United are BrewDog to City’s AB InBev as the Glaziers own Tampa Bay, but it helps to illustrate the point that City’s brand dominance could potentially translate into further dominance on the pitch.
The sad thing is that this will eventually create a league like Scotland where only a special manager and an extreme set of circumstances can break Celtic’s grip on the title. In that example, Rangers effectively cheated to keep up and are only just getting over the fallout. United have already resorted to Mourinho, seemingly abandoning the old principles of proactive football for the reactive ‘pragmatic’ style.
All that said City are bloody good side and fun to watch. Ok they’ve been winning 2-1 of late but how many 2-1s and 1-0s have the champions of yesteryear managed? I fully believe they will get to 100 points in the league this year and seriously challenge for the Champions League. But at what cost?
I don’t expect any sympathy for United or us United fans, we’ve benefited greatly from the conditions which allowed City to be taken over. If you’re happy that City are topping the league with style over Jose then I can understand. But don’t miss the bigger picture, it’s not a good one for the Premier League.
Ashley (will City fans moan when the majority of their own supporters aren’t from Manchester) Metcalfe
…In amongst all the comments to and fro about whether City should be criticised for their monetary dominance, people are typically ignoring the bigger issue in favour of scoring points off rivals. I think we can all agree that over decades of history sport, including football, has been cyclical, and that dominant teams tend to come and go.
The big difference now with City in particular, but fundamentally all state-led billionaire owners, is the scale of the dominance. Yes, back in the day Arsenal, Wolves, Huddersfield etc dominated, mainly through tactical innovation. Liverpool dominated, through a mix of tactical innovation, managerial genius and deeper pockets used cleverly. Then United came along with even deeper pockets and business brilliance, capped with (and it hurts to say it…) managerial genius and a big dose of fortune in a remarkable group of young players at the same time.
But City’s owners are doing something different. All driven by the fact that, unlike any other owners in English football history, have unlimited, state-backed money. They have no shareholders to report to, no requirement to take on external debt, and no reason to ever worry about things like return on investment or how to pay the bills if they spend silly money or wages on a player. This allows the City Football Group to go up, down and across the football supply chain to lock in their dominance in a way United, Liverpool and the rest could never do……the City Football Group now own or have significant stakes in clubs in New York, Melbourne, Yokahama, Montevideo, and Girona. They are linked with expanding even further into owning new clubs. This gives an unparalleled ability to dominate, quite aside from the ability to throw money, unchecked by anything such as financing concerns (e.g., Arsenal or Tottenham’s requirement to fund new stadiums), at training facilities, youth recruitment and anything else that puts them on a pedestal above other teams. They’ve taken the argument over conflict of interest or player ownership and turned it on its head, as the Frank Lampard debacle from a few years ago shows neatly.
Personally, if a club were going to have the fortune to have a billionaire buy them and be successful, I have no issue with it being City. But as a football fan more generally, I find it amazing that people aren’t seriously worried about the long term implications of the City Football Group’s approach and what this could mean for competitiveness in our league.
City’s team really didn’t cost much more than United’s
Quick question r.e. the Alex message from yesterday’s mailbag. He said City’s starting XI was £426m which is so significantly incorrect that I can only assume he was looking at euro values but even that would be £375m at the current conversion rate.
Either way, City’s starting XI was about £352m. If you swap out Herrera for Pogba (£61m less), according to his calculation that would have put United at £343m or effectively a negligible difference. If Pogba had come in for Lingard, United’s team is nearly £20m more according to his figures.
Here are the accurate figures (or something close to them):
De Bruyne: 54
They are just ambitious
I may be late to the party on Alex’s email regarding City’s money, but I find it odd that investing to improve a club causes such furore in 2017.
Alex is outraged that City invest to have the best facilities, develop young talent and pay their office staff well, (while many clubs fail to pay the living wage).
The only difference I see between City and their contemporaries (Man Utd, Chelsea and my own team Arsenal), isn’t that these rivals do not have the resources to compete, it’s that the billionaire owners of these clubs choose not to invest to the same extent, and/or care too little to impose such high standards throughout the club.
For example, when Kroenke took over at Arsenal the club played the most exciting football in Europe, were unarguably the biggest team in London and were on the cusp of moving to a new stadium. Had he shown any ambition in the years since the club would be amongst Europe’s elite, instead they’ve slipped to second tier.
When Sheikh Mansour purchased City the growth of football as a business was in full flow, and the best way to grow club (brand) in this market is to be successful on the pitch.
Alex’s argument seems to be that such efficient competency isn’t fair on the competition. Across Europe it’s long been true that a small number of elite clubs operate on a different level, we can hardly criticise a club for not only having the ambition to join this group, but to raise the bar once more.
We shall definitely do this
If the League Cup gives us an all-Manchester final – could you please refer to the trophy by its old name of the Milk Cup as this would greatly amuse me?
Compliments of the season and all that.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
If my auntie…
Ok, my disclosure – I’m not a Manchester United, or A Man City fan, but had to write in reply to Sean Peter-Budge’s frankly hilarious email about City’s late goals.
Given that Man Utd were renowned for ‘Fergie-time’ goals, I thought I would have a look into how many there really were. I didn’t have to look far, as the man himself spoke about them at the recent opening of Salford City’s stadium. In 26 years in charge there were 166 last minute goals scored. That equates to over 6 a season. Many of these would have been late winners, or to grab a draw. Hell, even one of the most memorable nights in Utd’s history was thanks to two goals in injury time.
The point I’m making is that, yes, the margins are fine at the highest level, but the best teams do make a habit of scoring important goals when it matters the most. That’s kind of what makes them the best teams.
I’m not really sure about the point you are making with the Utd Vs City game to be honest. ‘City beat Manchester United 2-1 by virtue of a Otamendi goal, Lukaku fluffs late chance to tie it’. Yes, that’s what football is. Taking chances or missing opportunities. And if my Auntie had a d….
Why are we questioning Klopp?
‘Klopp has made 59 changes to his Premier League starting line-up this season – 20 more than any club in the competition, and already five more than they made in the whole of last season. The addition of European football to the calendar obviously complicates matters, but is the German over-egging the pudding?
‘The proof will be in how those who return to the starting line-up against West Brom on Wednesday fare. Coutinho has scored four goals and assisted two in his last two starts, while Firmino has scored three and assisted one. But has their potentially unnecessary weekend rest disrupted their rhythm?’
Is the German over-egging his pudding? Liverpool are fourth ahead of Spurs (who a few weeks ago were the subject of articles talking about tiredness of players) and within touching distance of Chelsea (lost at the weekend after ‘just’ two changes from their midweek Champions League game – were key players Hazard and Morata tired!). The answer is no.
But has their potentially unnecessary weekend rest disrupted their rhythm? Well, it never happens that players have a week between games like, you know, sometimes weekend to weekend so why is this any different? The answer is no.
I could go on. I was surprised at Klopp’s decision (of course!) but I accepted it, I watched the game and I am rational enough to see that we had more than enough without those two players starting to win. Crucially, Liverpool didn’t lose points against Everton because of their selection; they lost the points because of a brainless defensive decision (again). Can Football365 and all other media outlets and fans stop fanning flames (for days and days!) on every decision made by every manager? No wonder they don’t last long these days: one minute they’re flavour of the month and the next they are really questionable and the worst thing since sliced bread.
It’s tiring the level of absolute outrage and dismay and questioning and hate and garbage spoken that occurs on a daily basis.
You could probably include this mail in the garbage spoken part!
More terrible decisions
As an Albion fan the worst decision in recent years has to be not giving Tony Pulis a ‘thank you but goodbye’ as soon as the season finished in May. Pulis had done a decent job for two years righting the wrongs of a string of terrible decisions made after losing Roy and Dan Ashworth to the FA in quick succession (Pepe Mel and Alan Irvine still rankle to this day), but it was clear as day at the end of last season that his time was up. One win the last 12 matches, eye bleedingly bad football and a fanbase who had become audibly disillusioned with life under him. He had steadied the ship but the time had come to bid farewell, he’d leave with some semblance of goodwill from the club and more importantly for him a reputation bolstered by taking Albion into the top ten. We would have a summer to prepare, source a manager who can bring a better style of football and sign the players to match. So what does the Brains Trust in charge of our club do? … They give Pulis a new contract.
A look at our form this season shows how awful a decision this was. We’ve had half a season where the fans haven’t wanted him there, the players didn’t look like they wanted him there and even the man himself didn’t want to be there anymore (have a look at his pre/post match interviews in the last month of his reign and tell me they aren’t the words of a man preparing for the sack). Then of course when we finally give him the bullet it’s late November, all the good managers are taken and the only available candidate is Alan effing Pardew!
I’m fairly confident that we will be relegated this season, and it will be the poison that spread from the first three months of this season that cements it. Thanks to Pulis we have strikers who are either not fit for purpose or have had any attacking instincts coached out of them, a defence which was supposed to be our strength but has been sieve-like, and four defensive midfielders including a supposedly world class Pole trousering £100k a week who has contributed the square root of bugger all so far.
It could have been so different though had the board showed some ambition and imagination back in May, rather than sticking with the safe and steady route, which ironically has been our downfall.
DM (I still dream of Marco Silva), WBA
Blaming Rafa too…
I enjoyed your Top 10 Worst Decisions of the season article, that sort of thing always makes for good tube reading. What I found particularly interesting however, was the point made regarding Rafa Benitez and Newcastle.
Let’s start with a little thought experiment. You’re away from home against a superior team that, despite having slow centre backs, is known to utilise a high line. Do you a) play your technically proficient but slow target man who has been banging them in all year, or b) use the lad with pace to burn who has struggled for goals when given a run out against weaker sides.
If your answer is a, then you’re Rafa Benitez. Let me explain.
Like all teams, when Newcastle were relegated they wanted to come straight back up. After selling Wijnaldum, Benitez found himself with riches that 99% of the Football League can only dream of. So, with all that cash, the backing of a big club and the reputation of being a CL winning manager, what does Rafa do? He goes and signs the best of the Championship. Grant Hanley. Isaac Hayden. Dwight Gayle. All players who can be relied upon for their Championship level skill set.
However…What happens when these players actually do manage to get promoted, and start facing teams with qualities they just aren’t suited to be going up against? Suddenly all these players who, despite being decent footballers, look out of their depth. It isn’t because they lack talent compared to their PL counterparts. It’s because their skills are just more suited to the Championship style of play. Take a look at the likes of Iago Aspas, Juan Veron etc. for continental examples of this kind of situation.
So, in conclusion to all this rambling, I don’t think the Newcastle board are entirely to blame (for once). Rafa has spent decent money bringing in a number of very decent players, but he was thinking short term. He knew promotion was the absolute minimum for the club and his job, so he did what he could to make it happen. And it’s coming back to haunt him.
Jon, Merino is an exception mind you, Nottingham
…Sorry, I can’t let this one slide. I have to say something, again.
Daniel Storey says in the topical top 10 that ‘Rafa is doing his best to squeeze the maximum out of a squad littered with Championship-level players’.
From the outside looking in, that may seem the logical assumption. But he ain’t. Not even close.
Mitrovic has had ZERO starts this season. Zero. Making Joselu our first choice striker is Rafa’s decision. Just because you buy him, doesn’t automatically mean you have to play him week-in, week-out. Joselu went seven games without a goal, yet Mitro is yet to start a single game.
This striker could have been our best choice up front all season long, if he carried on his Serbia form. Yet, he has not been given the chance. We could genuinely have several more points and several more goals and be several places higher in the league if had been playing this year instead of warming the bench.
Shelvey, easily our best midfielder and arguably best player, has not started our last three games. Crazy stuff when you consider the likes of Mo Diame or Isaac Hayden are playing instead.
Lascelles was back fit against Leicester so what does Rafa do, stick him on the bench. Why? If he’s fit, then play him. Lejeune and Clark have been awful.
Paul Dummett has been back fit for a couple of weeks. Our first choice left-back. So where is he? Why has Manquillo not been put out of his misery?
Rolando Aarons, our most exciting young player, has started ZERO league games. Given the fact Ritchie and Murphy’s form has been highly questionable, why has he had no chance to show himself?
Like Mitrovic, Aarons has started one game in the League Cup which he and Mitro both scored. Obviously, this fell on deaf ears.
Mike Ashley can be slated all day long as much as people want as far as I am concerned. He deserves everything he gets. But his failings are not the reason why we have picked up 1 point in 21. That’s down to the manager.
This team of misfits were in the top 5 sitting pretty not that long ago. They are capable of finishing mid-table. Every single person who had a comment to make said so. But since we can’t win a game to save our lives since then, people resort back to Championship-level squad innit?
What does that even mean? Is Burnley’s team not Championship-level? Bournemouth? Brighton and Huddersfield? These seem to be doing just fine.
I will be first in the queue to kick Ashley in the balls if there is any reason to do so, but don’t let that mask over the shambolic decisions Rafa has been making. Having a manager work under the conditions of free-reign, without consequence or criticism is dangerous.
We played against Leicester with a midfield two allowing Mahrez freedom of the city to cut in from the right all night long and destroy us. This is nothing to do with transfer activity, this is diabolical management.
All he had to do was stick Shelvey in there to make a midfield three and at least give us a chance at a result. And why is Shelvey on the bench in the first place?
Let down in the transfer market by Ashley? Yes, definitely
Maximising and squeezing everything out of his squad? No, not a chance.