Erik ten Hag will be sacked as soon as Manchester United are ‘mathematically out of the top 4 race’ unless he shows Red Devils fans ‘great football’. Plus, a Liverpool fan gets excited for the Europa League, Harry Maguire, new age football, repetitive debates and more…
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A balanced email on Erik ten Hag
Here’s my attempt at a balanced email on ETH:
To his credit:
– finishing 3rd and winning a trophy last season was nothing short of a miracle given where Rangik left us.
– this poor start to the season from Man Utd may be partly down to the unavailability of Sancho, Antony, Malacia, Shaw, Wan-Bissaka, Diallo, Maguire, Mount, Varane, Amrabat and Mainoo. No other club could sustain 11 players being out (see Pep’s comments about being in ‘big trouble’ with five players out at City).
– My main concern remains style of play. ETH talks a lot about being an attacking side, great in transition etc. However what we see is a continuation of previous themes – complete inability to link up defence and attack, and a constant reversion to lobbing balls up to Rashford. Where is the good football??
– We all blame the Glazers to an extent, but the manager must have a significant role in new signings. This summer was a disaster. We simply didn’t need either a GK or a Mason Mount. Hoiland may well become a legend but we desperately needed a finished product up front, and instead we bought youth/potential. We didn’t buy for the positions we really needed.
We have to see something from ETH very soon – either some great football or a few wins in a row. Otherwise he’ll be gone as soon as we are mathematically out of the top 4 race, and I won’t complain.
On a separate note, I’m excited for the future given that Mainoo (18), Pellestri (21), Garnacho (19), Hannibal (20), Hoiland (20) all look great prospects.
Excited for the Europa
I wrote in towards the end of last season about how Liverpool needed to accept where they were and embrace salvaging any kind of European football after a tricky season.
Pleased to report that with the Champions League kicking off and Thursday fast approaching, the anticipation remains undimmed. Not specifically because it’s the Europa League (though I do have a soft spot for that magnificent trophy), but because I love the European football – I was pleasantly surprised to not feel too miserable when the Champions League kicked off last night.
Obviously we want to be in (and eventually win) the Champions League and that’s the primary focus for this year. But there’s a real opportunity of doing something joyous here. Not saying we will win it – I assume Sevilla will win it, but I would hope for a deep run into the competition. With that in mind, I would love to see Liverpool use a strong team tomorrow – I expect the defence will remain unchanged from Saturday, would like to see Endo in action again, maybe Elliot from the start – and also not weaken that front line too much.
On a side note, the astonishing job at Brighton feels like it reaches another significant milestone with European football arriving tomorrow. League one to Europe in a little over a decade while constantly having to replace and replenish the squad. They also got a peach of a group. With the side they have and the way they play I expect the aim is for consistent European football, and they too have a good shot of going far this season.
On top of that you’ve got West Ham looking strong and riding that Conference league wave, and, finally, the chance albeit slim of Xabi Alonso bringing Leverkusen to Anfield (one we’d all love to see, as long as we win!)
Ignore the ‘Thursday night’ banter, let’s go all in.
Notorious BIG United
Never understood any Utd fan who lovingly describes their team as the ‘biggest in Europe’ as something to be proud of. I agree with you pal, in terms of support and financial backing (apart from the cheat team), so well done, your teams still a tad shite, but hey you’ve got a bigger fan base to be shite for.
Speaking as an LFC fan, last year I thought the cycle was coming to an end, ah well, it happens, we’ve done great. As you say, lot of fanfare for two major trophies in four years, but it’s nice to celebrate the big things isn’t it? Lord knows you crowed on about the League cup win last year.
Yep. Cassimero for 60 million for one good season is a great bit of business, and not all an indictment of how short sighted the owners are.
Utd aren’t rock stars though, they’re N-Dubs, playing to selling out crowds due to nostalgic reasons, despite the fact they are bewildering terrible.
Enjoy the next twenty years awaiting a major trophy.
David (Here be brackets) Molby, Shrewsbury.
While Calvino is right that United are still a big club, he manages in one of his many, manym surely unnecessarily many paragraphs to sum up where they’ve been going wrong over the last few years. When he says:
“I think I’d rather Cas from CL winners Real, than 30 yo Endo from almost relegated Stuttgart. Plus, I guess United will just have to hope Saudi can give us £40M for our crocked Brazilian DM like they did with you guys.”
He correctly identifies that Manchester United fans care more about how famous a signing is, than how good he will be for them, and that Manchester United, unlike their traditional rivals in England and Europe, are absolutely bobbins at selling players, or even getting rid of players who are surplus to requirements. Until they fix both those problems, I don’t think United will be dining at the top table any time soon.
Dara O’Reilly, London
I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with Andy Cole in his defense of Onana in response to Carragher claiming he was only criticising Harry M to score points with the fans.
It is completely wrong for any human being to receive personal abuse from spectators when they are trying to do their job, but for Carragher to come out with a statement like that and take for granted that he has clear insight into Onana’s motivation for simply shouting at one of his defenders is pathetic journalism.
Maguire, in my view, could benefit from developing a sense of humour and a bit of self-awareness. If my mother came out and defended me publicly (because we are all our mothers’ blue-eyed boys) I would, when I had stopped cringing, first give her a private bollocking for humiliating me that way, and then publicly make a joke of it.
He takes himself very seriously, and if his refusal to move to West Ham was genuinely down to the fact that he wanted to be handsomely paid off, then I think we don’t need to wrap him up on cotton wool. Let him enjoy the bench – Carragher, who speaks to Neville (Maguire’s former coach) on a weekly basis, will obviously find empathy easier to come by for a player like Harry when he’s tossing off his opinions to his ghostwriter at the Telegraph, but let’s not blow it all out of proportion. He’s done himself no favours.
New age football
I watched the ac Milan Newcastle match in a relatively quiet pub last night. Just to my left was a table of lads of a good 10 years younger than me.
As the match played out the conversation was a world away of what me and my mates would have been discussing during a game when we were that age.
‘No way is his pace 83’
‘Can’t believe he missed that, his shooting is 77’
‘Pope will be at least 90 next year’
Now being mid thirties I am fully aware of being left behind by a lot of the world but is this now how football is consumed? Do I need to learn this stuff in order to fit in?
Boring repetitive debates in football
God, there are some boring repetitive debates in football. Latest ones include: was Havertz a waste of money, and then of course we have the old classic, can Trent defend, and is net spend important. But the most pointless and onerous one of them all is what is a big club, and which club is the biggest.
Poor old Calvino, clearly a broken man because all pre-season optimism has died as United’s title challenge is in tatters by mid-September, has come to the site to remind us that his club is the biggest of all.
And I am sure he can use plenty of metrics, like social media followers, sorry, “fans”, to arrive at his conclusion, and who knows, maybe by most reasonable definitions, United are the biggest. They have the biggest stadium in the Premier League (with a leaking roof apparently), most “fans”, and have indeed won more English league titles than anyone else, the last one being ten years ago. Leicester’s was seven years ago, to throw in an amusing and petty comparison.
Liverpool have one more major trophies though, and now several English clubs have higher annual revenue than United, despite the seats in the stadium and all those “fans”. Liverpool, also, have conquered the continent more than United, and clearly have much more of a pedigree on that stage.
I think you get my point by now. This debate is pointless and meaningless, and in Calvino’s case, more than a little desperate. I get it. It’s the optimism that kills us. As a Liverpool fan, I don’t think I will ever get over the 2002-3 season (El Hadj Diouff, Salid Diao et al). It broke me and I have never been the same. But when you are citing uncitable things that Liverpool fans supposedly said 15 years ago in order to construct some sort of point, then it might be time to step away from the keyboard. Creating alternative realities about the Liverpool manager – using Chelsea – CHELSEA! – as an example, well, then maybe it’s time to seek medical assistance.
And to top it off, boasting that United got more media attention because they had an alleged sex offender in their ranks than City do…do you get a trophy for that?
Calvino. The only thing that counts in football is winning trophies, so well done on your League Cup win last season. Maybe you’ll win it again this season. It’s probably your best hope. Woohoo.
Matthew (enjoying the Liverpool ride, expecting the wheels to come off at some point)
Fading rock star
- Interesting to hear that Man U are like a fading rock star…I’ll one up that particular reference and compare them to Amy Winehouse:
Being used and abused by people closest to them for financial gain
- On a broadly downward and chaotic spiral
- Routinely turns up and phones in the performance as if drunk or high
- Regularly in the news for their bad behaviour
Did I win the points?
I wonder which two or three politicians are the ones Person McPerson thinks are the exceptions to incompetence. Is it Le Pen, Orban and Erdogan? Am I close?
Just to be clear, in my previous mail when I said, “naively assumed that politicians were incompetent and that he would be able to quickly turn things around in Washington”, the point I was making was not that politicians and political parties are competent. The point I was making was that Donald Trump is even more incompetent than politicians and was certainly not able to turn Washington around. The list of Person McPerson’s supposed Trump accomplishments includes (1) presiding over the “best US economy ever” on the back of the decisions made under the 8 year Obama administration combined with short-term-thinking corporate tax breaks, (2) failed to end the war in Afghanistan, (3) mismanaged the pandemic resulting in huge damage to the country’s economy, psychological health, and millions of people literally dying because of how badly he failed.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland