Man United no better under Mourinho than with Van Gaal

Date published: Thursday 28th December 2017 9:37

Send your thoughts to to keep dragging us all through the week.


A week before the Manchester Derby I got a mail published in which I compared the Premier League with the french Ligue Un. Stating how both PSG and City are leading in a one-horse race if City could open up the same 11-point gap.

Needless to say I need to apologize for I was wrong. The french league is considerably more exciting, excuses-moi.
Stijn, Amsterdam


As soon as Kompany limped off, Newcastle had a chance of getting something from that game.

They proved that, as whenever they did find themselves in the City final third they caused them problems. Aarons had a great chip cleared off the line, Gayle had a header wide and should have shot when in at goal instead of looking for the penalty.

Our tactics were too negative and it took until we went behind to finally go forward.

What did Rafa think was going happen in that game by making it a defence vs attack training session?

Did he think those Newcastle players could keep those Man City players out for 90 minutes?

Think about it, its an impossible task. Especially if you allow De Bruyne all the space in the world.

A 0-1 loss by not trying to score is a lot more frustrating then losing 0-2 if we actually did.

Our big games are to come, but this is another example of just how negative Rafa is with his thinking.

That’s 5 home defeats in a row. One of the worst records in our history.


That was pathetic stuff from Newcastle. Now I get not going full out attack against City but they showed no agression and didnt press a single City player all game.

De Bryune was given all the time in the world.

Made for an absolutely rubbish match.

Cormac, Galway 


On the Virg
1. 75m is an absurd , stupid and disgusting amount of money , SEVENTY – FIVE MILLION

2.Coutinho is definitely off to Barca now , 130m only question is janurary or end of season

3. It does make sense from Liverpool’s point of view , everyone is aware of their defensive deficiencies but importantly they have a lot of young forward talent , woodburn , Brewster , Wilson etc who are or will be knocking on the first team door and need an opening
DL (75m oh my) LFC , Geneva


On Van Dijk signing:

They’ll soon be buying players with bitcoin. 75 million? Look forward for someone paying 20 million for Collins in January!
Ally “Happy it was wet in Bournemouth hammer” Reid


Some will say £75m is too much. But if it doesn’t bankrupt the club and he’s an upgrade on what’s there then it’s irrelevant.

Some will say his form has been poor this season. But ultimately if he replaces Lovren and doesn’t make mistakes leading to goals (since Lovren signed, nobody in the league has made more of these)then he’ll be golden. How many points has Lovren gained for us? How many has he cost us? You’re fixing our biggest weakness, this is a massive result.

All we need now is a new goalkeeper and I will feel like things are starting to look very sexy. If we do replace Mignolet with someone good then I won’t be able to pick a time when our squad was this strong. We have had better first elevens (I’m thinking the season we came second under Rafa) but I can’t remember a time when our front 6 was so hard to predict. And combine that with Clyne, TAA, Gomez, Matip, VVD and Robertson/Moreno and things are feeling like they’re coming together.

Can’t help but feel that the signing wouldn’t have been possible without Klopp. Players want to play for him and believe he can lead them to success (or a big pay day at Bayern Munich…and cups)
Minty, LFC


Before everyone writes in claiming “football’s gone mad (again)”, can I just point out that Liverpool need a bloody good centre back a hell of a lot more than Man Utd needed Lukaku. The whole football world can’t spend six months complaining/laughing about Klopp not spending money on his defence and then complain/act horrified when he…spends money on his defence.

The only person who is allowed to complain about this is Jose Mourinho, who simply can’t be expected to compete with TWO teams who spend striker money on defenders. The poor dear.
Stewart, LFC, Chicago (it’s -19C today, God I miss England)


Most expensive defender in history! Tenner says we’ll make him just as shite as Lovren by March…we’re boss at that!
Krys LFC


I haven’t written to F365 for something like three years now but this Liverpool deal for VVD has given me cause. When we were linked to him for 70M during the summer I simply accepted the fact the sum was what both clubs valued him at. But now that it’s actually happened a feeling I did not anticipate came over me: sadness. Sadness because in my view, my club has paid 75M for a player likely not worth more than 30M. But more than  anything it dawned on me like it hadn’t in the summer that VVD is now the seventh player we’ve signed from Southampton in very recent years after the said player has had a decent/good season or two. I’m frustrated (to add to the sadness) that my club doesn’t seem to have the acumen to put together a scouting network that can be alert to the talent of these players before rival clubs get them. Why is it that Leicester, a club without the resources that LFC have had for decades now, can discover Kante, Mahrez, and see the long term potential in Albrighton, and get the best out of fading stars like Rob Huth but LFC can’t? It’s downright embarrassing for the club to keep going to the same club every season to buy players. I don’t know about others, but this has me cringing. It’s LFC saying, for the whole world to hear, “We are shite at grassroots recruitment. And not only that, we took so long to react to the changing landscape of football both on and off the field, we need to rely on another club to do our scouting for us instead of, you know, saving hundreds of millions by doing it ourselves like a modern football club should.”

While I believe we were lucky to get a manager of Klopps level at the time he joined, he’s not really doing it for me anymore. His treatment of Sakho (funny how LFC can totally cut off a player for missing or being late to a training session but show 100% support towards a racist player) our best CB and getting rid of him while putting all of his eggs in one basket is idiotic. I honestly believe with this 75M we could have have gotten two top centre backs. But in his arrogance, what he wants is what he must get. In his arrogance one player can some how solve the overall defensive coaching problem at the club. Cos his Klopp and big showy hugs matters more than actual coaching (seriously, I wanna slip into the skin of our players sometimes and tell him to F off with his hugs. I’m a grown man goddammit! Get your hands off my shoulder!). I’m going to predict VVD will be no better than what we have already and this transfer will go down as another mad moment ala Carroll. LFC look desperate right now, a club that missed the opportunity to gain 21st century greatness by spending when it’s wrong, not spending when it’s right (or in the right way) and not scouting or building a proper youth system when it’s proven to work.


No more excuses
I am as thrilled as any Liverpool fan at the news of us signing VVD4. Klopp and his defenders have been rightfully criticised for conceding soft goals and he has for most part defended his players. He has insisted that buying for buying sake isn’t his style. Not all were convinced at the fees paid for Mane, Salah and the Ox. It’s safe to say that Mane and Salah have shown completely worthy of the prices paid for them. Ox on the other hand is beginning to show that he could send Henderson further down the pecking order.

I know a lot of people will be questioning the fee paid for VVD4, but I am completely backing the manager to bring out the best in him. Klopp now has no excuses.
Taz (except Mignolet)


Mourinho is doing closer to a bad job than a good one
Sorry, Chris Wilson, but you’re talking absolute hogwash there. “…people ignore that Guardiola has not only spent more than Mourinho since they both joined but has inherited far, far better…” are you having a laugh? That BS has been peddled all season long. First off, I would love to know which players you think are leaders in our squad, or what the point of pace is without end product, or which of our strikers is a goalscorer that doesn’t need an open goal or to face a minnow-level opponent to score (how many goals against our rivals has Lukaku scored again?)? And I am dying to know where this supposed creativity is coming from, considering our best creator is probably Ashley Young! None of the issues present under van Gaal have been solved.

While Guardiola arguably did inherit a handful of better individuals – Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling and Aguero – Mourinho didn’t exactly inherit a team of no-hopers; De Gea, Martial, Mata and Rashford weren’t exactly a bunch of nobodies when he took over. What Guardiola has done to great effect is to get them to gel using a style designed specifically to suit their abilities, and has galvanised their team spirit and confidence. Furthermore, Guardiola also inherited a defence containing Kolarov, Clichy, Sagna and Zabaleta, so it’s not exactly like he was handed peak Barcelona or anything. Furthermore, the difference in spends between City and United is negligible (in football terms); the difference is that City have recruited efficiently and sensibly and, more importantly, with a clear plan in mind. We, on the other hand, have continued our scattergun, “whoever we can get” rather than “who we actually need” approach, and ignored infuriatingly blatant holes in the squad.

One of our most frequently used defences this season is made up of four Ferguson-era players, and includes two 32 year old converted wingers, a gurning perma-crock, and a guy who can only make five yard passes with his right foot and doesn’t know how to mark at set-pieces. Mourinho insists on playing with width and getting crosses into the box, yet we haven’t recruited a single winger in three transfer windows. Our best defender has barely played all season, and is unlikely to feature for at least another two months, yet the only talk of defensive transfers is Luke Shaw’s potential departure. Not only that, but £60m+ of recruitment is regularly found either sitting on the bench or in the stands (Lindelof & Mkhitaryan), which is a catastrophic failure in either scouting or player management.

With nearly £300m spent and 18 months passed, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect all of the following issues to have been addressed:

– We still can’t properly defend even the simplest set-pieces
– We still have no stable long-term options in either full-back position
– We have no actual wingers to play in the wide positions
– We still need a replacement for our semi-retired vice-captain
– We still need a long-term system that the players clearly understand and plays to their strengths
– We still have far too many squad players who don’t offer real competition/benefits to the first team (Blind, Darmian, Rojo) or are left over from the Ferguson days (Smalling, Jones, Carrick, Young, Valencia)

City had a number of weaknesses last season and spent their money this summer on addressing them. They now have a defence that can cope with the loss of not just Kompany, but Stones and Mendy too. They have a ‘keeper who is actually capable of making saves at key times in the game and can compliment the passing style that Guardiola is implementing. They have two extraordinary goalscorers up front, and a midfield that is bursting with creative and attacking talent, to the point where their bench is probably stronger than our first choice. And they’re still looking at strengthening. Money well spent vs money wasted. Sensible tactics vs disorganisation.

So, no; Mourinho is doing closer to a bad job than a good one, trophies last season notwithstanding (if you want to talk about kind draws then look at our cup opponents last season and point out the hard matches) because we just have not progressed from van Gaal. Hell, the Burnley game was practically a carbon copy of the Fulham game under Moyes – the only difference is that we were actually winning at one point against Fulham. Against Fulham: 31 shots, 9 on target, 10 corners, 75% possession. Against Burnley: 23 shots, 6 on target, 12 corners and 71% possession – and four of our players took part in both matches (De Gea, Valencia, Mata and Young)! Now, tell me again how we have moved on from those dark days? Arguably Moyes was overachieving back then because he didn’t get the liberty of a blank chequebook.
Ted, Manchester


The Jose defence
I’d like to take the unusual step of agreeing with Tony Cascarino (to a point) and backing up Jose Mourinho; he does need to spend more money on the squad because we have got too many 7/10 players.

The problem with the current United squad goes back to Fergie’s last side.  There was insufficient money invested in the years between Ronaldo’s and Sir Alex’s departures which meant the key, world class players in the squad were allowed to age without suitable replacements arriving.  This has been particularly noticeable in defence with the loss of Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra in quick succession.  Since that time, we’ve gradually gone about stockpiling good-but-no-great, 7/10 players until we reached the point where, barring de Gea, we had an entire squad of squad players.  Jose seems to be acknowledging this in the transfer market (£75m spunked on the sub 7/10 Lukaku aside) and as a result we now have Pogba and Matic in centre midfield; it’s going to take 2 or 3 more signings of that ilk to put us into a position where we are up once again with the very best in the world.  The difficulty is in landing those players, as they don’t come easily or cheap.

This lack of genuine class also undermines Jose’s tactical plans; I’m not against parking the bus the away from home to the top sides, but it’s never going to work if the passengers on the bus are Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind, and if Chris-f**king-Smalling is the bus conductor.  It’s strange how those tactics were more successful when they involved Terry, Cole and Carvalho, Lucio, Zanetti and Samuel or Ramos, Marcelo and Varane…

We’re a better side now than we were this time last year, and if Jose stays and we back him in the market, I’ve no doubt we’ll be better again this time next year.  Personally, a top draw centre-half in his prime should be the first order of the day, but if van Dijk costs £75m, then Christ knows what Levy will demand for Alderweireld!
Lewis, Busby Way


Pep v Jose
(Caveat: I am neither a Pep nor Jose supporter.)

The summer of 2016 saw both Pep and Jose arriving at Manchester, with fans drooling at the prospect of their teams playing against each other. Now, if we could turn time back and sneakily rewrite the history books by swapping their appointments, it would be interesting to see what both of them could have achieved. Or could not have achieved.

Mourinho recently pointed out that Manchester City are in their own league, buying full-backs for the price of strikers (by the way,with Liverpool’s signing of Van Dijk for £75M, I suspect a snide remark is on the way). So if given such resources, how would Jose’s Manchester City perform in the league? And how would a “poorer” Manchester United team (according to Jose) be performing under Pep?

De Gea vs. Ederson (or Bravo or even Joe Hart)
There is no doubt that De Gea is the best goalkeeper in the league, and it is hard to see Pep spending that much on another goalkeeper. On the other hand, Mourinho may, like Pep, dispose Hart and get Ederson. But face it, no goalkeeper is as good as De Gea is in the league now and De Gea is going to make many crucial saves for Pep’s team, just like how he is doing for Jose’s team now.

Valencia-Bailly-Smalling-Shaw-Rojo-Jones-Young vs. Walker-Stones-Kompany-Mendy-Delph-Otamendi-Danilo
Yes, Pep did spend quite a bit on full-backs but if you have been watching the games, Danilo has been sitting on the bench more often than not and I cannot remember when was the last time we saw Mendy on the field. Walker is doing a good job at right back, but Valencia can be good as well. Delph, a midfielder by trade has been making the left back spot his own (at least for now) and you have to credit Pep for nurturing him into the player he is now. On the other hand, Shaw, a £27M purchase, is not even good enough for Jose’s bench. Will Pep be able to nurture Shaw into a decent left back, and will Jose give Delph the “Shaw” treatment? Well, Delph cost Manchester City £8M and who can argue that he is a much better left-back to start with as compared to Shaw? If Pep can transform Delph into a decent left-back, I have no doubt that he can at least do the same to Herrera.

Pogba-Matic-Mkhitaryan-Mata-Herrera vs. Fernandinho-Gundogan-Silva-De Bruyne
De Bruyne is the assist king in the league now. Mkhitaryan used to be the assist king in the Bundesliga. What do you think about Mkhitaryan and Mata playing the De Bruyne and Silva role, threading passes to Martial and Rashford? Choose between one of Pogba, Fernandinho and Gundogan to be your midfield lynchpin. You get what I mean.

Martial-Rashford-Lukaku-Ibrahimovic vs. Aguero-Sane-Jesus-Sterling
Martial, 22. Rashford, 20. Sterling, 23. Sane, 21. Raise your hand if you cannot foresee Sterling and Sane struggling under Jose’s Manchester City. Jose would probably not let them play with as much freedom. On the other hand, Martial and Rashford can be equally devastating like Sane and Sterling, and you would foresee them flourishing under Pep.

Conclusion: Manchester City’s team is really quite good, and there is no shame losing to such a team. The only shame is when you are also purchasing expensive players but deploying tactics like Tony Pulis or Sam Allardyce. I am not saying that Pulis or Big Sam are bad managers, but they have never inherited any team that has an attacking strength similar to that of Manchester United, and that explains their rationale to be defensive. Give them Manchester United and their team is sure to entertain the Old Trafford faithful more than Jose’s team. Jose is right to point out that money helps to build a successful team, but if he is given the Manchester City team, is he able to perform as well as what Pep’s Manchester City team is doing now? On the other hand, if he is given Swansea now, I am very sure that Swansea will survive relegation.

Maybe Jose belongs to the Tony Pulis, Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, Roy Hodgson group. Seeing them inheriting teams fighting for their lives to keep a clean sheet is intriguing, Let Arsene’s Arsenal, Jurgen’s Liverpool, Mauricio’s Tottenham and maybe even Silva’s Watford challenge Pep’s Manchester City.
JMO (Just My Opinion)


Justice for Pards
I am generally supportive of your stance around the general merry-go-round of the same old British Managers getting the same old jobs. However, having experienced almost three years of Pulis you’ll understand I would have been prepared to give Piers Morgan time to get it right as Albion’s new manager.

So, while I would have preferred an up and coming manager such as Derek McInnes, Pardew is winning me over (I won’t speak for other Albion fans) so I think you are giving ‘Pards’ a raw deal nominating him as loser of the weekend almost every week. Yes, the results haven’t been great but the performances are beginning to tell a different story.

So far this season we have had 195 attempts on goal and a quarter of those attempts have come in the last three games!

In typical Albion style we seem to have attracted the world’s only skint billionaire as our owner, so we’ll need to sell before we buy. I would therefore flog Evans for £50m – yes you read that correctly (I’ve just seen the news about Van Dijk) and then get a forward and creative midfielder in and I think we’ll be fine. Simple.

But either way, even if we go the way of Pompey – sacking Pulis was still the correct decision.

Steve Gibson – be careful what you wish for.

Up the baggies

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