Erik ten Hag is getting a lot of criticism in the Mailbox after Manchester United’s defeat to Brighton with Andre Onana and Marcus Rashford also coming in for stick. Plus, Match of the Day is not fit for purpose, Mo Salah should only be sold for £500m and more…
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Just rip the band aid off
So how’s Ten Hag doing?
The great saviour, the tactical genius, the man with a plan, the man with rules who demands respect.
I’ll tell you how, absolutely terribly. Possibly the worst manager we’ve had since Fergie.
For all the promise, the excitement, the expectations, he’s delivered precisely nothing. We’ve gone backwards despite the massive backing that he’s had with the players he wanted and the coaching team he wanted.
Name 1 successful signing? I only want one.
Casemiro? Well he was suspended for a third of last season and started this like he’s about 40.
Martinez? Half a season wonder who can’t complete 90 minutes anymore.
Antony, well erm no.
Mount, well I think he was injured a lot last season and we never expected that he might very well be a bit crocked.
Onana? Needed a new keeper, but 50 mill on him?
Rasmus might be ok but pointless when our wide men like Rashford havnt got an assist in them.
Eriksson? He’s just a crap Mata.
For all that he proclaimed to be, having a pattern, a system, tactical genius blah blah blah, oh how foolish you all were again. We play exactly the same way as we did when wreck it Ralph was here. There is no improvement, keep telling yourself there is.
We overpay for players because the great manager has zero knowledge of anyone and then, we stick them on ridiculous contracts. Hag wanted these players, so we should see improvement, but we don’t. Where is this system? Where is this pressing, this control?
Casemiro/Eriksson? Might as well have kept Fred/McTominay because we still lose every midfield. We’ve got Casemiro for another 4 years!
Martinez and constant crop Varane? (Varane not Hags signing) but might as well have kept Maguire/Lindelof as at least they don’t get injured doing up their boots and, are we really any noticing better no better without Maguire.
Rashford is awful, he does it all the time, plays woeful for years, still gets picked for PR, comes to wanting a new contract, plays ok for 4 months, gets a pay rise and reverts back to being shit again. Utds most over rated player in history.
The Brighton result was no surprise, it was expected. A side who lost their entire midfield and manager in the summer, had their best striker on the bench and Welbeck started, just ripped us to pieces without breaking a sweat.
But of course, it’s the Glazers fault. The Glazers who allow 100’s of millions in transfers every summer, sign players you all champion and the manager you all wanted, yes, of course, it’s the Glazers fault.
Barring a miracle, Bayern will destroy us and I’m not even convinced we’ll get a result at Burnley. Hag won’t change, it’s insanity.
It’s a matter of time, he’s going to be sacked, be it after Burnley or after Christmas, it’s going to happen. Just rip the bandaid off now while we still have a chance of a top half finish.
Hugo, you all know I’m right.
Man Utd to finish outside the top half?
Ooooh, whisper it, shhhh, are United not only going to miss the top four, but the whole top half?
Good side Brighton, agreed, but that was an absolute humiliation wasn’t it? The atmosphere inside Old Trafford similar to that of the moon. Shhĥhhhh.
People keep mentioning the size of Hojlund; granted he’s a big guy, but he’s all head isn’t he? Massive swede on the Dane, you could say!
And then Danny Welbeck scoring too; not something you see every season.
Oh well, those of us on Merseyside are enjoying it, even if United fans are not.
Just to let you know.
Love Anon (still too shy to give my real name x)
Excited for Man United’s 6 game UCL campaign
United fans been giving it the big un after making top 4 after a billion plus spent, including a few hundred million under Erik Ten Solsjkaer. In a season where everyone barring City and Arsenal took a year off. Well lads, I tell you what, it’s time to get super duper excited to watch super Erik and his band of merry reds taking on Europe’s elite, at least for the 6 games they’ll have in the competition. Time for the rest of us, that is. United facing Bayern away next week, can’t wait.
Early days, but does anyone think Onana is a bit shit and is quite an expensive basket to put all the eggs in?
Poor Man United
Such a ridiculously frustrating and disappointing performance today. TH mixed it up a bit by playing a MF diamond but we never got close to Brighton.
Far too easy to play through, half of them were sleepwalking, and we didn’t do enough with the ball. Reminiscent of the loss last season, and the players look like they have already played a full season, plus it feels like we weren’t set up right. Is it too much to ask for some intensity? Don’t give 100% and you’ll get punished against good sides, Brighton deserved the 3 points and we have a hell of a lot of work to do.
Bring on Bayern eh? Massive performance needed. Pick it up ffs and make that this season’s nadir.
Garey Vance, MUFC
Ten Hag IN
Guys, I think I speak for all non United fans when I say that I am very much Ten Hag IN. All hail the second coming of Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer.
Nothing special about Man United
I want to preface this by saying that 1. this is insanely long and 2. though I’m speaking as an Arsenal fan who thoroughly enjoys criticizing United for any reason, what I’m about to say is intended to be mainly constructive (but also…yeah you guys suck and it’s fantastic). I’m speaking from experience as Arsenal were pretty terrible in recent seasons and have had similar issues. I’ve thought this for awhile now but the Brighton match has really nailed in for me the idea that we shouldn’t expect United to contend for at least a few seasons and potentially much, much longer. The club and its fans are far too deluded to allow them to fix their issues which are myriad.
Let’s start with the squad itself. United’s attack is currently built around what I consider to be the limited talents of the wildly overrated Marcus Rashford (“overrated” is kind of the overall motif here btw). Good but not great scorer – 77 league goals in 243 appearances AKA “slightly better than Theo Walcott” (look it up) and never 20 in a season which I really don’t ever expect him to get. He pretty much can’t do anything else – not great at beating his man; not a good passer/crosser; no vision/ability to link/play off a striker/others; no help defensively whatsoever…I mean this has been true for years and he’s now 25 and the senior attacking player at United. You can try to say “he’s about to enter his prime” and we haven’t seen his best seasons but a player who starts that early is the player they are going to be at this point – he’s played over 350 senior matches. Hate to break it to United fans but the rumors are true – Marcus Rashford is just a child-feeding, slightly-more-affluent-man’s Walcott.
If he continues to be United’s best attacking player then I can pretty much assure you that my thesis will come true for awhile yet. That’s a lot of pressure on Holjund – if he even realizes this is actually his expectation cause it doesn’t seem like the club/fans do. If they’re going to go anywhere anytime soon he needs to come good – at least as good as Rashford but ideally even better – and do that quickly. If he doesn’t even pan out at all – let alone become world class – only the United front office will be able to solve the problem as it will be beyond the personnel. Given everything going on that is clearly somewhat of a nightmare scenario.
Now, let’s talk about Bruno. Actually, let’s not really talk about Bruno because even United fans have railed against his deficiencies all over this mailbox. It was on display for Brighton’s third goal. Watching the play in front of him the entire time as the guy he should be picking up scores to absolutely wrap up the loss for his team. Brilliant. Exactly what you want from the captain of Manchester United Football Club. He and Rashford – who is far too selfish (as a footballer) – are both examples of players a bold and ruthless club would have recognized they needed to move on from and honestly there’s an alternate reality where United has competent executives who could realize this, sell those assets for good value and reinvest for the many parts they need.
This could be an entire email in itself but – even assuming Holjund pans out – when you look around the first XI (not to mention squad depth) their backline could use quality on the right and is getting old on the left. They need to invest in attack on the RW for obvious reasons, their two best central midfielders are old and need to be replaced soon if not now. I mentioned last season that United paid massive money for a player in Casemiro who might not even last two full seasons and it’s already starting to look grim. Not sure it was a prediction as much a manifestation of basic scientific knowledge but either way I’ll pat myself on the back for being right-o.
Which brings me now to the idea of Manchester United as a club – from the Glazers to the fans – and specifically this article. I think Ten Hag recognizes the mire he’s gotten himself into – much like LVG, Mourinho et al before him – and I do agree that United historically (I can only speak on recent, post-SAF history though the article indicates this is somewhat of a repeat) has not “afforded” managers the opportunity to build upon any sort of vision or plan given the mess going on above them. But the issue stops there – the idea that it wasn’t “earned” by successors of Matt Busby and SAF is and has always been, with all due respect, a load of absolute f***ing horses***. How can they capitalize and prove they earned an opportunity they were explicitly also never given? Why is the onus on the manager to match some abstract sense of inherent greatness that apparently is embedded within the very foundations of Old Trafford as opposed to the club fully committing itself to actually being great?
It literally makes zero sense and this idea that’s consistently thrown out that managers can’t handle the pressure of the Old Trafford hot seat (frankly, the United manager has no more pressure than the manager of Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea) is purely a self-aggrandizing narrative perpetuated by United fans and the sycophantic media in order to keep up the facade of “arguably” being the biggest club in the world. Sorry but that “argument” officially should have died in 2009 when Ronaldo ditched United to go to Madrid – the actual clearly biggest club in the world (followed by Barcelona) – and really definitely should have died when he returned and subsequently trashed the club on the way back out.
The narrative is necessary for United supporters because it explains away why exactly they have won close to f*** all (what a great phrase) when you take away the work of a mere two individuals. It’s required to support the idea that Manchester United are the massive, transcendent club they claim to be and are being let down by managers who don’t have the ability to match the size and aspirations of their employers. How so very unlucky for Manchester United, who have only been able to find two managers befitting the club. Or maybe, just maybe, Manchester United are a more or less a normal club – in fact, maybe even a historically somewhat s**tty and disorganized club – that has achieved sheer numbers in terms of hardware due to the efforts of two highly gifted individuals. This has been bantered about recently but really it should be taken a little more seriously.
When you look closely, the concept that United is some transcendent club that is preordained to only ever achieve glory – the Real Madrid of England, if you will – is really being conflated with the truly transcendent work of two iconic managers who manifest the concept of outliers and achieved anomalous success. Only in a self-serving account would the club’s success be interpreted in such a self-aggrandizing fashion. This dynamic is furthered by the media who have stories to sell. I am not at all making light of what happened as I am trying to make a serious point about the media but overcoming tragedies, particularly in such glorious fashion, like the Munich air disaster add to such narrative. But if you study history or data analysis, you would know that a practitioner of either is likely to look at it more objectively. They would ask themselves “Did Man United recover from that disaster to go on and win the European Cup because they are a great club or because Matt Busby is a great man?” and “Did Sir Alex win 13 of the first 21 Prem titles because he joined a great club or because he was a great manager who did similarly transcendent work with Aberdeen?”
Only the media and the club itself would feel forced to construct a narrative that United’s success is due to some inherently special ethos or aura that pervades the club. Manchester United is obviously one of the few that can deem themselves the tier 1A “biggest” clubs due to the sheer raw numbers – regardless of how they were achieved – but there really is nothing at all inherently transcendent or even especially great about United. It’s a faux concept all dressed up and mired in narrative. And this BS idea that runs through the entire club is exactly what is holding United back and I wonder if it’s the same thing that kept them from achieving anything after Matt Busby until SAF came along.
Instead of just actually trying to be the great club they say they are and doing things properly, it seems United is content to just insist they deserve better because “Manchester United” and it’s always the fault of a dizzying and invariable combination of individuals – whether it be the greedy owners, incompetent executives/managers, players who don’t “understand what it means to wear the shirt”, etc. when things go wrong. Honestly, the Glazers probably just think in the same fashion that most of the fans seemingly do – that Manchester United just needs to find the right individuals who can match the inherent greatness of United and everything will be OK. They are honestly no more complacent than the fans themselves who are by far the most entitled in world football and nowadays seem to always think they are a matter of steps – whether it be one, two , three – from being where they apparently belong.
I’m not sure if Peter Fitzpatrick is a fan himself though as I mentioned the media in general and especially their former players (hi, Gary) blindly help to disseminate that narrative. But the article that he wrote is exemplary – while touching on the problems United have and seemingly have had post-Busby (you would think he is their founder, btw) it doesn’t do so strongly enough and is set up so that if Ten Hag does fail well then he just doesn’t have what it takes to manage United and they’ll need to look for someone who does. However, I really think it’s the phony ethos of greatness the club tries to project that causes all these problems and their fans are absolutely at the forefront of this. When everyone at United realizes that – just as Liverpool and Arsenal have found out and Chelsea are currently – they are ultimately still just more or less like any other club subject to the inevitable ebbs and flows of success then maybe they’ll start to dig themselves out of this mire. I won’t root for it to happen though…or hold my breath.
MAW, LA Gooner
MOTD isn’t fit for purpose
Went to the Spurs vs Sheffield United game today. Absolute limbs in both ends for all the goals and for me an end to a game that I’ll remember forever with my boy, like the last minute (undeserved) winner 17yo Andy Turner scored watching with my dad 30 years ago against Everton (also 2-1)…
Every one of the 60,000+ souls that watched this game will remember it as the Peter Bankes refereeing disasterclass, complete and utter unparalleled incompetence. How on earth is this guy a premier league referee?
This was a game with only a couple of challenges of incident and the bloke handed out about a dozen or so yellows and a ridiculous red.
For those unaware, most of the game was spent watching Wes Foderingham pretending to be injured, time wasting or actually being injured. When he pretended to be injured for 5 minutes in the first half, 3 minutes time was added on by the 4th official which didn’t even cover his goal kicks. He took so long he made Ben Foster and Nick Pope blush. Then because he handled outside the box in the first half and got a yellow it meant he had a free pass from another yellow for the rest of the game!
So what do MOTD cover? They don’t look at the clear amd obvious foul on Maddison for a penalty, nor the foul on Foderingham in the second half which got a yellow but meant he had stitches. This ref put in an all-time shambles of a game and he doesn’t merit a critique on MOTD? Should this not be something that is covered in this plain digestive biscuit of a show? Even when (hilariously) the opposition manager singled him out in his post match comments? I mean the ref gave two different decisions for two balls being in play at the same time for goodness sake!
The weirdest decision of the lot was when Sheff U had a free kick, the defender played it between Son’s legs, Son then played it and won the ball back, and started attacking. What did Peter Bankes do? Well he decided to do two things – he blew for a free kick for Sheffield United, and booked the Sheffield United player! The whole ground could not comprehend what on earth was going on.
So these things are what you want to see again but instead you need to fact-check based on how extensive your Twitter / X network is, because MOTD need to let Danny Murphy, Shearer and Lineker talk about incredibly boring matters – as interesting as when an uncle arrives and told you they went M5, M4 and A34 and about the funny rainstorm near…
Anyway – when we got the winner, Maddison was on his back, pretending to have cramp and needing treatment whilst laughing his head off! Also not on MOTD – but what a legend! Mark Chapman picks this stuff up!
It’s time (sorry not sorry) to put Lineker and co in the bin and revamp this tired show.
Dave, (Arsenal away next..) Winchester Spurs
You will get plenty of emails from Spurs fans today, great result, frantic match and lots of time wasting. I was at the game and the real event was very different to the version shown on MoTD.
How Paul Heckingbottam has the nerve to complain about anything after that result is hard to fathom. Of course it is disappointing when you have tried every nefarious route available to ruin a game and run out the clock and you didn’t get the result you wanted, that is only human. But come on, blaming the referee (who was poor) has all of the makings of a classic diversion tactic.
Let’s be clear, Sheffield United wasted time from the first minute, they had a goalkeeper who was daring the referee to send him off for time wasting (having initially been booked for handling outside of the area, not time wasting which was the version reported in some parts of the media). 5 minutes to change a goalkeepers contact lens? Every time a Sheffield player was about to be substituted, the said player fell to the ground, wounded and needing treatment before being helped to the sideline (thus taking two minutes) …..three times! Cramp in the 63rd minute? (not an injury by the way referees, it is a fitness or time wasting issue).
You can’t seriously complain that the referee added on 12 minutes at the end of the match, it could have been 24, quite how he only found three in the first half is a mystery. I do wonder how on earth an adult referee can fall for what is such a series of blatant breaches of the rules, call on trainers when a player is brushed and falls to the ground, especially with the emphasis on time wasting that we supposedly now have. I really think we need to see a player sent off for time wasting (i.e. the second yellow card) and then have the PGMOL support the referee of this to actually mean something. Not to mention the managers who complain about players having to play the full 90 minutes (when they have five substitutes) and throw in lazy lines about player welfare.
There is always the narrative of ‘poor old little Sheffield United’ and they aren’t the first team to do it, but what are they supposed to do? The answer is ‘whatever they can, within the rules’. And if they do insist on cheating, don’t blame the referee.
Having said all that, with the result in the end it was a brilliant way to end the match. Well done Richi for battling on.
Rob (not that one, but I accept that I am slightly biased)
PS – MoTD didn’t even show the penalty Spurs should have had in the first half – VAR? don’t get me started on that…..
Saudi Pro League on – eurgh – US TV and Other Topics
Here’s something to brighten your weekend: the SPL is now being broadcast in the US on Fox Sports: it’s Al-Raed-Al Nassr on FS2 right now, opposite NUFC-Brentford on NBC. I’m sure it’s the result of a really cheap deal, and anybody who saw Fox’s World Cup coverage knows they don’t have the slightest concern about sportswashing. Still, it turned my stomach a bit. That said, CR7 fans old enough to choose the cable package aren’t necessarily a big demographic.
Eddie Howe described the victory as “difficult”; I’d describe the performance the same way. It may be charitable to us, but I have to believe Thomas Frank had a lot to do with our difficulty stringing three forward passes together. Brentford’s system was initially designed to deny us space and time, and changed to continue to do so. We’re more talented now than we were last year, but we’re not gelling yet. We need new ideas on the pitch.
I thought Craig Pawson had a ropey match. Early doors, he seemed to let the Bees take a whole lot of bites at Newcastle ankles. I’d have called Yoanne Wissa’s foul on Schär a red, meself. He swung that elbow backward just when he knew Schar would arrive. It was at best reckless, I suspect it was vicious. In the second half, I’d say on balance that we got away with more than we deserved. Perhaps we benefited from Pawson’s conscience. Wilson’s disallowed goal was chalked up on the NBC television feed’s graphics, but I don’t know if it was ever actually on the scoreboard at SJP. It gave the impression that Pawson had allowed the goal, but then properly paused for the VAR check. If he called the foul first, which his gestures after the call seemed to suggest, that’s actually very good refereeing.
Mark Flekken’s caution was nearly as funny as TAA’s was (I mean, as it was until that game ended). Was he still complaining about the correct, if somewhat academic and technical — it’s hard to see what Gordon might have done with the ball besides win a cheeky corner — penalty call? Something about the way Callum Wilson took the penalty? In his head, how did he imagine that going? Wilson’s caution was even funnier; entirely deserved, but that kind of sh*thousery always brings a giggle. Anthony Gordon’s simultaneous yellow wasn’t funny at all. We’re five matches in and he’s courting a suspension. Lad needs to get a handle on himself, hur-hur.
I admired the way that Erik Ten Hag dealt with an all-mouth, no-product Cristiano Ronaldo last season. But I find the way he’s handled Jaden Sancho far less convincing. Sancho’s statement was certainly problematic, but sending him down to train with the U18s has led to a lot of “it’s hard to see a way back for him” reporting, and there’s no way that’s good for the club, even if they want rid. As an admittedly hostile outside observer, I have to wonder if maybe Sancho didn’t have a point. Just like he did at the start of last season, Ten Hag is finding wins hard to come by. Perhaps a return to the tough guy act seems easier than finding new ideas on the pitch with a squad he must find immeasurably frustrating, however much fault he bears.
Jeremy Doku terrifies me. He’s going to make Trippier and Schär look like they’re made of paper. Thank god he didn’t start our narrow defeat at the Etihad.
That Luton Town kit remains class. Shame it’ll be the badge of a season like this one seems likely to be.
Chris C, Toon Army DC (Does anybody find it odd that a man as soft-spoken as Eddie Howe has built possibly the league’s most sh*thousing squad?)
I would not sell him for less than 500 million pounds. F*** off to anyone who would whatever. F*** off.
He’s our genius.
Ian, LFC Hartford, CT USA
Phew, that was a tough first half for Liverpool. Results better than performances so far. Can’t figure out if we’re a bit rubbish or a really good squad that needs time to gel.
Aidan, Lfc (maybe just ropey in defence but otherwise top 3 material)