Man Utd told to ditch Rice pursuit and use £120m to sign three

Date published: Monday 24th January 2022 10:30 - Editor F365

Man Utd target Declan Rice bends over

Man Utd should look to sign three players for the money they would spend on Declan Rice, while discussion about VAR continues.

Get your thoughts in to


Palace vs Liverpool VAR decision
Firstly, I am a Liverpool fan and had that been given against us, I wouldn’t be happy. However, I do think it highlights a particular flaw in the laws of the game or at least in their interpretation.

Assume that instead of it being the goalkeeper who challenged Jota, it was a defender, no contact is made with the ball and his slide takes him into Jota irrespective of Jota’s movement, whether the ball is in play or under control is irrelevant.  Yes football is a “contact” sport but but that doesn’t extend to taking an opponent out, with or without the ball, the only players who are allowed to do this consistently are goalkeepers, why?

Had it been feet first rather than knees, no one would be arguing.

Firmino on the other hand is offside.
Howard (would have scored a second anyway) Jones


As a Liverpool fan who has watched the penalty incident literally dozens of times, it was clearly an appalling decision. And I found myself wondering if there has been a single instance of a referee looking at the monitor upon a VAR request and not reversing his decision? I don’t remember it ever happening, and you have to consider the enormous psychological pressure any given referee finds himself in here.

I’ve seen the conspiracy theorists out, but whilst I don’t think there is anything quite that sinister going on, there is something wrong with the way VAR is being applied.

And on another note, Firmino was certainly active in the second goal, and that should have been ruled out. How did VAR not spot this? To be fair, no-one seemed to pick it up immediately, but that’s literally his job.

And on the subject of offside (and this is more shooting the shit for the sake of a talking point than anything else), it looked possible to me that Edouard was offside when the ball was played to Mateta. If he was (and he might not have been), then how is he not interfering with play if he uses the advantage of his advanced position to score two seconds later?

This isn’t some desperate Liverpool fan trying to find a way of legitimising the win (mistakes happen, results are skewed all the time for all clubs, so I’ll happily take a lucky win), it’s just something that  I have been wondering for a while now in these situations.
Mat (if you’d offered me second place at the end of January, with a challenge still technically on, a League cup final spot, 4th round at home to Cardiff in the FA Cup, maximum points in a CL group of death and a knockout against Inter I would have snatched both hands off, assumed you were mental and if you can’t appreciate this as a Liverpool fan then you can fuck the fuck off)


Congratulations to Palace, who did a great job and gave us a good scare.I think a lot of Liverpool supporters agreed that it was not a penalty, but it’s up to the referee and VAR and enough has been written about that already.

Regarding Kevins assertion that this was done to keep the title race alive, I suggest that whoever is trying to keep the race alive, starts doing it a bit earlier next year to give us and others a better chance. It may be easier done by screwing over City with a few dodgy calls rather than screwing over the majority of the clubs in the league as well.



Firstly, some questions that you clearly won’t know the answer to but thinking about them might offer some clarity:

  • If this conspiracy in favour of the Big 6 exists, what do the referees and VAR do when Big 6 teams play each other…which team are they supposed to favour?
  • Who decides which team is going to get the rub of the green, when is it decided, what’s the criteria involved in the decision-making process and how is it communicated to the protagonists?
  • If all referees are meant to be in on it that means 22 PL refs are part of this conspiracy plus any newly promoted ones from lower leagues.  On top of whoever is pulling the strings at the PL.  So for however long this conspiracy has been in place (you didn’t specify) none of the dozens of people involved has had an attack of integrity and become an anonymous whistle-blower?
  • Why do some Big 6 teams suffer appalling VAR decisions whilst non Big 6 teams don’t, as evidenced by ESPN (you can google it, save F365 having to link to a different website!).  I’m not going to go through the whole list but a couple of examples: Liverpool and Arsenal were joint bottom on -6 in the tally between favourable and non-favourable interventions last season.  Brighton were on +8 the season before.  If a conspiracy to give favourable decisions towards Big 6 teams exists, how do explain these (and others if you have a look on the ESPN trackers for each season of VAR) discrepancies?
  • On the specifics of yesterday, you do realise that the penalty wasn’t the deciding goal don’t you?  Liverpool would’ve still won the match without it.  Why weren’t Big 6 teams awarded a dodgy decision in the games they’ve lost/drawn so far this season?  Who gets to decide when the bias is implemented and when to let the game reach it’s natural conclusion, what’s the criteria and how is it communicated?
  • I’d like to point to two penalty decisions against Liverpool last season where the fouled player wasn’t getting to the ball when he was taken out and wonder where all the media and neutral fan outrage was about those?

In closing Kevin, all teams have decisions that go in their favour and decisions that go against them.  You’re going to remember the ones that go against your team and forget those in your favour.  Similarly, if you believe there’s a conspiracy then any contentious decision that supports your argument will be leapt upon whilst the countless ones that don’t suit your narrative will be dismissed.  Refereeing decisions can be flawed and it’s incredibly frustrating but it’s the same for all teams and talk about Big 6 refereeing bias is simply baseless unless you can perform some kind of analysis of all contentious decisions and point towards a trend that they were awarded in favour of Big 6 teams.
James Outram, Wirral


Dear all,

Just for the record, I’m not a Palace or Liverpool fan, my season ticket money goes to a different Premier League club, but the letter from Ed Quoth The Raven about the, shall we say, controversial penalty in that game raised a really important question: had it been, say, Christian Benteke who’d collided with the Liverpool goalkeeper in the same way, how many people seriously think a penalty would have been given, VAR or no VAR?

Similarly, if I can take you back to the Wolves-Manchester City on December 11th, Jon Moss awarded a penalty when the ball struck Joao Moutinho in the armpit, a decision thoroughly castigated on Match of the Day. I also find it very hard to believe that the same decision would have been made against Kevin de Bryne, for example.

If there is bias, it’s probably unconscious, but it really is about time some questions were asked, because confidence in refereeing standards strikes me as being at an all time low.

Paul Quinton, Wolves


I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, we desperately need a time limit for VAR decisions/recommendations. 20 seconds should be enough to identify a clear and obvious error by the referee, and that’s what VAR is supposed to do.  Maybe we can start with 30 or 40 seconds and see how it goes? Every single pundit and retired referee agrees that, after at least three full minutes of deliberation, the final decision to award Liverpool a penalty on Sunday was wrong. That’s just the latest incident to be added to a very long list. Who’s ready to front the campaign?
Eagle in exile near Athens in Greece


What a January for Liverpool, eh?
Dear Editor,

Just wanted to send in a brief note on what has been a remarkably successful January for Liverpool. It’s well known that we have struggled at this time of year under Klopp – likely as a result of coming off the heavy Christmas schedule which does not sit well with our over-reliance on a core of 8-9 key players. Could it be, in fact, that losing some of those key players has forced us in to a rotation that has meant fresher, hungrier legs were on the pitch?

Missing Mane, Salah, Thiago, Keita, Alison (occasionally) and Origi (not a starter, but was expected to pick up the forward slack), we’ve seen some decent performances from Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Jones and Kelleher (esp. against Chelsea). Minamino has chipped in with a goal. Fabihno has become an unlikely goal scorer. And of course Jota has been excellent.

This was long pegged as the time we would suffer most and you do miss those players obviously, but FA Cup 4th round, Carabao cup final, 7 points from 9 (inc. a good result at Chelsea), 14 goals scored across 6 games. Credit where it’s due. This has been a great month for Liverpool.

One other thing – so important to get the win yesterday with City dropping points. Before this weekend our chance of the title I would say was 2%, now maybe it’s 2.5%. Win that game in hand and we might be going to the Etihad with a bit more to play for, who knows eh?


Liverpool midfielder Fabinho celebrates

Footballers and Value
Huge result yesterday in the race for the Top 4, what a bit of a dampener to be saying that after we were all buoyant hoping for a title challenge oh well, but that is not why i penned this mail this afternoon.

In response to Rich from Cambridge about value for money he does have a strong point, if we look at the top 10 most expensive transfer of all time you have Neymar, Mbappe, Coutinho, Joao Felix, Griezmann, Grealish, Lukaku, Dembele, Pogba and then Hazard, Ronaldo (to Juventus) and Bale all of equal value apparently, now how many of those moved to their new club and you could argue made them better in terms of challenging for the Champions League?

Gareth Bale is the only one in my mind who could hold that title, we all know the ending to his Madrid story but the beginning was outstanding, he has been a key cog in helping them lift some major silverware and the Champions League (multiple times i must add), whilst the other players you could say they did contribute to league titles but when we talk PSG we cannot really talk league titles since with the rare exception they go on to win their league like clockwork, Coutinho, Griezmann and Hazard have certainly not hit the heights they were expected to especially for their fees, Grealish and Lukaku are far to early to call after just over half a season, Pogba has shown flashes but again value for money probably not and finally Ronaldo moved to Juventus to help them lift the Champions League which they did not, value for money? well in a way yes due to their stock price and the merchandise sales so maybe more value off the pitch than on.

High fees could be now we are on the other side of the pandemic a thing of the past, i can remember when £30.75m for Dimitar Berbatov was considered a heft fee but that was back in 2008 and times do change, going forward i do expect fees to not hit the £100m mark on such a frequent basis they have in the past 5 years, especially with more players letting their contracts wind down, id go quite the opposite and suggest “Free Transfers” could be the next big trend within football due to the huge signing on fees that the player can pick up by moving on a bosman deal.
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod


Rice conundrum
Had a chat with a fellow United fan about potential/needed signings. He was of the opinion that United should go all out to secure Rice even if it is £120m. I was of the opinion that I would prefer United signed 3 players for 120m but cover more positions so let’s say Neves, Vlahovic, and McGinn. No guarantee United will sign any of them of course.

My biggest fear is that Rice is not as good as the media and pundits are making out. Is there a huge difference between Rice and McTominay?  Will he move united to the next level? Will his signing make United title contenders and competitive in Europe?

Even if he turns out to be everything his potential allows, United need to sign a new center-forward, they need at least 2 more midfielders and don’t forget a new manager.

The next two years are huge for United, get the next manager and 5 signings right it will just be in time as City & Pep and Pool & Klopp could be separating, leaving behind an aging squad and big shoes for the next coach to fill.
Paul (MUFC) Dublin


What IS the bloody point..?
Morning all

Great letter from Rob (COYS). I think he’s really summed up the mood of a lot of Spurs fans in there. You’re not alone Rob – I think we’re all feeling a little bit close to breaking point. I used to dread international breaks, I’m so happy this one is here. Wondering if this very unlikely marriage can work is nerve jangly. Although the transfer window’s impending closure will mean that the noise has only partially been turned down. We’re going to have to put up with a lot of shouty coverage of transfer inertia accompanied by brooding looking shots of Conte.

How did we get here!? How did it come to pass that we’re all feeling like this when we’re a couple of results from being 4th. Are we so famously fickle and hard to please? No, there’s a pattern to our treatment at the hands of ENIC…

Hope and adoration 
There were some lovely years back there. From the point Kane scores that last minute winner at Villa in 2014, we beat Chelsea 5 – 3 on new year’s days and he then scores 2 in the derby in spring 2015 we knew we were on to something special with Poch. A love affair is born. But one where the Argentine is played by ENIC. It ends on a balmy night in Madrid.

Confusion and self loathing
The late summer and autumn of 2019 is confusing. This confusion and sadness turns to some sort of disgust through 2021 as the Portuguese is sacked a week before a cup final, a manager search makes us look stupid and we start to look VERY ordinary in the autumn. So this is what the painful rebuild looks like.

Hope and adoration
Bang. The charismatic Italian walks in and all of a sudden it seems as though the painful rebuild might only last 2 transfer windows IF, IF Levy plays his part. We all know he won’t. Leading us to….

Confusion and self loathing V2.0 = Despair
We know it’s coming. Can someone hold my hand when he walks out?
Andrew, Woodford Green


International break has come at the perfect time for Arsenal…
Yesterday’s result wasn’t a good one but Burnley beat us last season and we were without Partey and Xhaka – leaving Lokonga as our only recognised central midfielder. Our bench was also littered with players I had never heard of – and I do try and keep up with what the youngsters are up to.

January wasn’t a great month with just the one point picked up, just one goal scored and we’re out of both domestic cups.

However, there’s a significant break coming up and by the time we’re back in action we should be closer to a recognisable team.

We also have games in hand over United and West Ham and sit above Spurs thanks to Chelsea’s victory yesterday.

The break couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s for Arteta to use it as a reset where we go again without the distraction of the cups and some players back from the AFCON.

Providing Mikel uses this time effectively, this could yet be a very good season for Arsenal.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Derby situation
Gary Neville has called on Middlesbrough and Wycombe to drop their legal actions against Derby for the good of football in order to help Derby stave off liquidation next month. As a Wycombe fan I would like to tell Gary Neville to go do one.

The background to the story is that Wycombe were relegated from the Championship down to League 1 last season. Just a single point separated Wycombe in 22nd with Derby who stayed up in 21st. The difference in revenue between playing in the Championship and League 1 is several million pounds, a huge amount of money for Wycombe. Staying up would literally have been the biggest achievement in our club’s history.

Derby were accused of financial wrongdoing that season but were docked points for the following season. If they had been docked points for the season where they had actually done something wrong, we would have stayed up.

We were a minnow the Championship with a tiny budget compared to most other clubs. We were non-league until 1992 and don’t have a history to compare with a club like Derby (Clough, etc).

I have no idea of the legal complexities of the case, but why should we not pursue our own best interests with such a huge achievement for our club on the line? If a terrible injustice was done, why should we not try to reverse that? Why should we, according to Gary Neville, sacrifice our own interests just for the good of the game?

If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem. Gary Neville is a rich man and very well connected. Why doesn’t he raise some money to help Derby, or at least help us? Why doesn’t he, with his huge resources and influence compared to us, actually do something instead of lecturing us about doing what’s right for the greater good of football.
Thomas Ewens

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