Man Utd ‘bargain’ deal for Everton star is ‘madness’; Grealish ‘all day’ over Rashford for England

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Man Utd transfer target Jarrad Branthwaite
Everton have dismissed United's 'unacceptable' Jarrad Branthwaite bid

Man Utd should steer clear of a deal for Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite in the summer, while it’s Jack Grealish over Marcus Rashford ‘all day’ for one Mailboxer.

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Why do Man Utd want Branthwaite?
It’s not entirely clear why Man United would be so heavily in for Jarred Branthwaite. With Varane leaving United are left with five centre backs in the squad but only one who is left footed, Martinez. The Argentinian is far and away the best of that five and the only guaranteed starter.

With one of Lindelof or Maguire likely to be sold, Evans presumably taking up the squad training role he was meant to have, and Kambwala still young and untested, the club are going to need to sign two centre backs over the summer. They need a first team starter on the right to replace Varane and a left footed back up to Martinez for rotation and in case he gets another season long injury.

There is a reason why left footed defenders cost more. They’re aren’t that many really good ones and putting right footed players on the left severely hampers the teams ability to play out from defence as passing angles are diminished. With limited cash available and at least three other signings required elsewhere in the squad you’d think the big money is going on a right footed starter to partner Martinez then try to pick up a left footed understudy on the cheap.

As even a bargain deal for the left footed Branthwaite is £50m why even chase him? Lloyd Kelly on a free makes perfect sense, as does the right footed Todibo from INEOS owned Nice. Branthwaite at possibly £60m is madness. You could argue that he could play alongside Martinez but then you’ve got the same issue that two right footed players gives you.

Also, I’ve watched a fair bit of Branthwaite play this season and whilst he is very good he does have a slight tendency to panic in high pressure moments. He’s young and that’s understandable but at the same time I can’t help but see a bit of Phil Jones in him. Hopefully I’m dead wrong on that point (wouldn’t be the first time) but also hopefully United don’t spend big money on young defender who doesn’t have an obvious place in the first team.
Dave, Manchester


The Slot Rationale 
In response to Simon’s ‘free pass’ mail about Slot. First of all I would say it’s a gamble, but so would any appointment be. There is no Jurgen Klopp equivalent waiting in the wings, as there was in 2015. But his record stands up pretty well, especially compared to some of the Chelsea/United candidates.

Cambuur – helped the club go from 14th to 3rd. Reached the Cup semi-finals for the first time in their history

AZ – Earned 2.11 points per game in the Eredivisie, the highest of any coach in the club’s history

Feyenoord – Reached the Europa Conference League final. Won the League last season. Won the cup and finished second this season.

Is he a guaranteed success? No. But he’s won a league title anat least you can see the logic.
Mike, LFC, Dubai


My thoughts on the main men 
I quite enjoyed the premise of Matt’s previous email, so thought I’d give it a go:

Guardiola – It’s going to be the swansong, isn’t it? I bet Man Utd fans everywhere are hoping so – the only thing Fergie has over him now is longevity. Undoubtedly one of the greatest ever.

Arteta – I don’t think he’ll ever reach Pep levels, but does look the real deal. Has done an phenomenal job with Arsenal. He makes big calls, sticks by them, and more often than not gets them right.

Klopp/Slot – Klopp will be sorely missed by the league, but with his (and soon to be Guardiola’s) exit from the league, maybe we can get some feisty rivalries going again. Enough of this mutual respect! Hard to know what to make of Slot, but Liverpool do usually get this recruitment malarky pretty spot on most of the time.

Emery – Just seems incredibly good at his job. If Villa can keep hold of their best players (I think they will) and improve the squad (I think they will), they’ll be pushing top four again.

Postecoglou – An enjoyable style of football, but doesn’t seem to enjoy Spurs being Spursy. First manager to leave his job? I hope not, but it wouldn’t really surprise me to se him go.

Poch/? – Cannot for the life of me see what Poch has done to warrant the adoration he gets from the media. That being said, he did seem to manage some sort of cohesion out of the clusterf*ck that is Chelsea towards the end of the season. There’s a lot of criticism for Chelsea sacking him, but wasn’t it ‘mutual consent’? Maybe they’d, understandably,  just had enough of each other. I’ll wait to see the business of the summer before passing judgement on Chelsea.

Howe – If everyone could look past who owns a club (we never used to care!), it’s a real shame that Man United kicked them out of Europe. I hope it doesn’t break up a very promising team.

Ten Hag – Surely Man United can’t have the same injury issues and we’ll all finally get to see if Ten Hag is the coach he claims to be, or if the injuries where indeed an excuse. Man United getting rid would be a very worrying sign that the club hasn’t learned from it’s past mistakes. You don’t have to look too far up the table to see that ‘success’ often comes from the allowance of a blip-season, or two!

Lopetegui – If Paqueta doesn’t end up in prison, and Bowen and Kudus stick around, they could really do some decent things in the league. Those three behind a proper striker could be sexy. No Europe will be a blessing.

Glasner – I don’t think it’s fair to the players, nor very realistic, but I’d love to see what Glasner could achieve with a fully fit, Olise, Eze and Mateta next year. He’ll do fine. Early season push for Europe to eventually fall away and finish 12th

De Zerbi/? – I may be in the minority here, but I think de Zerbi is over-rated. He does play lovely football and he had a wonderful first season, but things weren’t going so great by the time he left. Maybe that first season had a lot to do with the work of those previous.

Iraola – I like this guy a lot. Not even 100% sure why. He has Bournemouth playing good football and just seems very likable.

Silva – I have a real soft spot for Fulham – I think it’s the stadium – and I really hope he can stick around for a while. Things seems to be progressing nicely under him.

O’Neil – Has proven a lot of people wrong this last year. It’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it going. I’ll throw him down as the first manager to lose his job next season.

Dyche – A hoof-ball specialist is often how he is portrayed, but he’s a lot more than that. He knows his stuff and will slowly help Everton back to where they belong – floating around mid-table obscurity year after year.

Frank – A marriage made in heaven. There’s the feeling that both Frank and Brentford would struggle were they ever to separate. Nobody wants to see that.

Espirito Santo – Almost a non-entity. I have no opinion on the man. I like Forest, they’re a bit mad, but I reckon it’s they’ll go down (if one of the fellas below can prove they’re ready for the step up).

Maresca/? – A real shame Maresca seems to have gone. I can understand the allure, but I always find it a little mercenary when a team gain promotion and the manager decides to bugger off to ‘better’ things. Hard to know what to make of Leicester’s chances before someone new is appointed – they’ll probably be fine.

McKenna – Delighted that he’s committed to Ipswich. Clearly a smart fella and it’ll be very interesting to see how he fares with the huge challenge Ipswich have next season. I think they’ll really struggle, but through no fault of the man in charge. I hope I’m wrong.

Martin – Another fine young coach, but may need to move away from his favoured style of play if he wants to survive against the bigger/better teams in the Premier League. A battle for the wooden spoon awaits. Again, hoping I’m wrong.

FA Cup vs League Positions 
The current debate between Cup Success and league positions got me thinking. I suggest that we’re often conflating 2 things. Do fans want a cup or a higher league position (short of winning the league)? This is a legitimate debate and you can vote for or against. However, for a manager, does cup success make you a better / more successful manager? I think evidence would suggest not. Let me illustrate.

The first thing to note is that the FA Cup is usually won by a ‘big club’. 17 of the last 20 FA Cups have been won by Man United (2), Man City (3), Liverpool (2), Arsenal (5), or Chelsea (5). So for clubs of this stature, this is not out of the ordinary. But more importantly, consider the last 3 FA Cup Winners – Man United, Man City, and Liverpool – and let’s see who they had to beat to win the FA Cup. This year, United beat Wigan, Newport, Forest, Liverpool, Coventry and City. I make that 2 games that anybody would consider tough, with no disrespect to the other clubs. Last year City beat Sheffield, Burnley, Bristol, Arsenal, Chelsea, and United. That’s 3 games at the top end of the league. In 2022, Liverpool went past Shrewsbury, Cardiff, Norwich, Forest, Man City, and Chelsea. Again, 2 tough games. Yes, cup games sometimes throw up great upsets, but really on average these top teams have to win between 2 and 3 hard games to win the FA Cup. Usually these games come in the second half of the season when clubs are fighting for multiple trophies, so it also depends on priorities, injuries, and sometimes the schedule. You have to think about whether City’s Premier League celebrations played a part in their performance in the final.

Bottom line: fans may well prefer a cup to a champions league spot, if that was the choice on offer. But that’s not the same thing as saying that a manager who wins an FA cup has proven himself to be as good as one who gets top 4. The latter is unequivocally a harder challenge, especially given the depth of good teams in the Premier League. So a manager who gets to 8th and wins a domestic cup isn’t doing as great a job as the manager who gets to 2nd or 3rd place but goes trophyless, much as it hurts me to say this!
Ved Sen (MUFC)


I am going to try to keep this as brief as possible (I was tempted to send this entire mail in brackets, btw, which is not what I actually call them but I’m in foreign territory here) as this debate has gone on for a shockingly long time even by mailbox standards.

Somehow, this became a “Top 4” vs. “Domestic Cup” debate and, btw, anyone who thinks the Carabao is worth winning needs to be
institutionalized. That being said, I specifically mentioned the word “context” at the very beginning of my retort to Badwolf. He literally and very simply ranked “trophies” (quotations because, strictly speaking, you don’t get one for Top 4 although I imagine it would just be a bust of Wenger made from marble sourced from Highbury) as if there isn’t more to it.

First – yes, trophies are technically the most important thing in the sport. But when we talk about the elite clubs, the main priorities are clearly the domestic league and the Champions league. This is not debatable. This is why I intentionally used the words “mid-table” when referring to United – because the idea the FA Cup would be celebrated as if it were a priority and not a retroactive consolation for an absolute s*** season is a distinctly mid-table aspiration.

Given both clubs have the same main priorities – how much closer did Arsenal get to those priorities? And how much further away did United get? Regarding the latter question, is it really just injuries? Also, if you don’t have adequate backups who can’t prevent you from defending like a relegation side then wtf did you spend all that money on? Is that not a massive indication you are not set up to achieve what we can all agree are by far the main priorities of any elite club? Do you really trust Ten Hag because he set up a decent side for once? Do you really think INEOS is just going to save you? How many question marks does your club have hanging over it – not even starting with who your manager is going to be next month?
MAW, LA Gooner (Unlike Spurs, we’ve doubled down on our intent. And 16-17 was a very weak season in terms of quality from the big clubs plus, since then, Villa and Newcastle have joined the fray. Lastly, it was Spurs. Sorry if these brackets went too long.)


When Arsenal were hoovering up FA Cups between 2014 and 2020 I remember a deluge of Mailbox posters claiming we were small-time for celebrating some tinpot cup which had lost its lustre and was proven by the fact even Wigan could win it (beating Man City in 2013 which feels bonkers now). We we derided for our happiness at winning a trophy, the Celebration Police State already in full operation, and were told to shut up until we were challenging for the Big Boy Trophies again.

Now we run a close title chase and we get drivel from Man U fans who have drunk the Rio Koolaid telling us that actually their season was better than ours. I can’t be arsed to go over the usual stats about league position, goals scored etc, so I’ll just ask this: how happy were you throughout this season?

Because I know for a fact that pretty much every Arsenal fan I know has been bouncing round North London on a high since last August.

So have some perspective and don’t come at us with your nonsense, we didn’t even win and we’re over the moon right now and can’t wait for the new season to kick off so we can go again. And you know what, you’re allowed to be happy too (it doesn’t have to be instead of us), and if you’re satisfied with where your club is and how they performed then woopdedoo good for you, but I have a sneaking suspicion you might not be. But what do I know, I’m just an obnoxious over-celebrating Gooner who is still chuckling at the thought of Harry Kane’s newly Cannon-bedecked mantelpiece.

Happy Friday y’all (or Saturday depending on the vagaries of Mailbox publishing times)


Reply to Calvino…
Calvino, I too am a Utd supporter so I have no beef with you – but you’re so clearly wrong and actually answered your own question, Grealish is ignored because of the successful team that he is in.

I don’t know how old you are but United (and most successful teams to be fair) have had their expensive flops during the Sir Fergie years, but they become the blooper reel of what was mostly a highly accomplished period in our (United’s) history. For every Danilo,Nolito and Bravo we have our own Bebe, Bellion and Djemba-Djemba (so bad they name him twice).

Now the comparison of JG vs Rashord and/or Antony are disingenous because you are not telling the whole story – didn’t Mark Twain say, ” there are three types of lies, damned lies, and statistics”? Statistics tell a fact but not a story, honestly in your heart of hearts would you take the eager and willing worker in Grealish (whenever he started or came on as sub) or this season’s Rashford to the finals? In my hearbeat it’s Grealish all day and I LOVE Rashford!

And seriously, please don’t even try to make a case for Antony – ask yourself, would you rather have spent £20m more for the Grealish ‘flop’ or happier that we paid that much less for Antony? Seriously, it’s not even close.
Shanos, Manyoo, London


Ipswich Town – The long road back 
As F565 noted, in 1982 Ipswich won the Uefa Cup after finishing second in the league for the second year running. This was the high water mark. Bobby Robson left to manage England, and watching Ipswich became like watching a balloon slowly deflate under a series of underwhelming managers – mid-table fodder, to yo-yo team, to mid-table championship, with a short George Burley inspired spike, through a seemingly mandatory Mick McCarthy flagellation, before a nadir was reached with relegation to the 3rd tier for the first time in 55 years under an ex. Norwich manager. A small US private equity firm then took on the burnt remains in 2021 and proceeded to play Football Manager. 20 players left and 16 players arrived in the first pre-season, another manager arrived and then left, and then some young bloke called Paul from Manchester arrived.

Then it all kicked off – 98 points and 100 goals got us out of League 1; 96 points and 92 goals got us straight out of the Championship. The journey cost £4m in purchases and loan fees…and now here we are in the Premier League with a squad of 15 blokes from League 1, and 5 recently exited loan signings who were most appreciated.

Our wage bill last year was just over £200,000 per week (18th in the Championship), and now we’ll be playing against Man U with a well-spent $3.8 million weekly wage bill.

Will we get creamed every week…probably. Can we beat Derby’s 9 points and concede less than 100 Sheffield Utd goals…hopefully.
On the plus side, we’ve been guaranteed £265 million just for turning up (which is nice), we’re instantly one of the top 30 football teams by revenue in the world, and Kieran McKenna decided to stay.

Anyway…happy days…we are back!!
Matthew (ITFC)


The Cult of Us
I was listening to an interesting podcast talk about the media and perceptions, and how despite the narrative that the media is pushing stories onto the people, they are in reality pushing what they view as wanted by their audiences. The increased competition from news media, podcasts, and online coverage means that news organizations have to try to appeal to their audiences and this often ends in hyperbolic or contrarian takes. This, ultimately, is a mirror reflection of society and their wants.

Does F365 and others push stories about getting Ten Hag sacked? Yes. Is that what viewers wanted to read? Yes. Does it make sense to give the people what they want? Yes. Do hyperbolic and vitriolic headlines and articles work? Yes. Does that make it true, valid or reasonable? Not necessarily.

What I find interesting about this in regards to Man Utd is that from various recent polls, anywhere from 70-90% of United supporters want Ten Hag to stay. This begs the question, then who wants these negative stories? That, it would appear to me to be the fans of almost every other team, combined with United fans who can’t resist reading these toxic takes.

Many of these fans may turn and say “Yeah, but it is true” or, “No, that is just my opinion” but I would retort “Is it really? Or are you simply regurgitating what’s been presented in front of you, as it’s known you will devour it and share it as part of your weekly discourse?”

I highlighted the Jack Grealish numbers yesterday as it goes to show that many people would not realize how bad his numbers are, how they are worse than Rashfords and on par with Antony’s, and yet, there are no major opinions about it from the fans, or no push to denigrate him from the media. The media hasn’t informed the people because other stories will be more preferred or likely to be clicked, and the fans don’t know because they haven’t been told, and/or would not care that much anyways.

Today the news media is consumed with the Trump becoming a felon story, and depending on which side of the landscape you consume, it’s either a travesty against justice – while never disputing the facts of the case – or justice served for a criminal. What people will know will be based on what is presented to them, and that in turn will come from what they wanted to hear. It is all kind of sad, and the temperature of it all comes from a deep desire to be heard from both the media selling it, and consumers consuming it.

F365 to me stands out as a site to get and give opinions, unique analysis, combined with both sporting and non-sporting topics, often with some humor thrown in while also delivering football news as its primary function. It’s my favourite website and go-to for reading about football, but also engaging and learning about other topics and different points of view. Ultimately though, what they deliver is what we demand and what they need to peddle to subsist. I hope that what we demand is less toxic, and what they sell is too, but that fundamentally comes down to the cult that is us: The People.


Manager downgrades
On your manager downgrades
, I think Birmingham deserve credit again.For the season just gone

On 9th October 2023, they sacked John Eustace.
6th after 11 games, 2 points off 3rd.

Wayne Rooney came in for 15 games, leaving them 20th after 26 games. 5 points above the relegation zone and and 24 points off 3rd.

They appointed Tony Mowbary who had poor health concerns and had to step down.
Resulting in Gary Rowett returning and ultimately relegation.

Quite the significant downgrade(s) indeed.
Conor, London