Man Utd flop is not the only Ajax 2019 hero struggling…

Editor F365
Donny van de Beek Ajax Man Utd

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It’s not just Donny
Watching Juventus vs Porto last night something struck me. Where was De Ligt? 75m of a defender signed in 2019, sitting on the bench for a must win Champions League match. He has only 40 odd appearances since signing for Juventus?

So I wondered how is Frenkie De Jong getting on at Barca? Again signed for 75m, signed in 2019 and again only 50 odd appearances.

Chelsea recently signed Ziyech from this famous Ajax champions league team of 2018, I know injuries and change of manager may not have helped but he has 15 appearances this season?

This brings me to Donny Van De Beek – currently stands at 13 appearances for United but yet the media are making a song and dance about the lack of appearances he has made? Who knows how this media attention has affected VdB’s confidence or impacted how he has settled in living in Manchester. Why is the spotlight not being shone on  De Ligt, De Jong and Ziyech or their clubs for spending big money and not playing them?

Man Utd’s signings must be held to a different standard than everyone else? This is why so many of our previous signings have failed? The scrutiny a player is under at united is different? If you are a striker and do not score 20+ a season it is a failure e.g Forlan vs Van Nistlerooy. Even Pogba is held to a different standard? If he never left and came through the youth set up, the media would be saying how great he is and how the united academy has produced another world-class player but sign him for 90m and he has to score 20 plus goals and win games on his own.

Donny may not be the right signing for United or he just needs time to settle in… maybe a good preseason to figure out how and where he can be used in the team? But I wish the media would just give him a chance before writing him off. Chelsea wrote off De Bruyne and Salah too early and look what happened.
Paul (MUFC) Dublin


Man Utd keepers…
First of all, it’s hilarious than an Ipswich fan from Switzerland is trying to school me on United goalkeepers when I literally worked at Old Trafford and watched both VdS and De Gea live for years.

Secondly, I made sure to emphasise that it was my opinion, and if Tom stopped frothing at the mouth for a second, he would realise the point of the mail was to say De Gea needs to be replaced.

I think his blunders in the beginning and the last couple of seasons make people forget how good De Gea actually was. Just off the top of my head I can think of five performances (Madrid UCL, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool, and Everton in the league) where he was so good you had to scratch your head and wonder whether he was surrounded by a forcefield. Hell, even Edwin himself said, and I quote, “nobody makes saves like De Gea.”

Now he clearly hasn’t played in as many big games as PS and VdS, and Schmeichel always showed up in big games. But let’s talk about Van Der Sar. Go watch the goals we conceded in our last three UCL finals – he slips for the Lampard goal in Moscow, let’s in a near post goal in Barca’s first attack in Rome (which until that point was a game we were in control of), and then lets Messi score a grasscutter from outside the box right in the middle of the goal. I’m not trying to make VdS look bad, he was the perfect keeper for that team, but he fucked up kind of a lot.

The reason his mistakes weren’t as memorable and frequent is also because of who he had in front of him. Schmeichel had Bruce, Pallister, Stam, Johnson or Berg. Edwin had Rio and Vidic in their prime. Dave has had Jones, Smalling, Rojo, Maguire, Bailly, and Lindelof. These are not the same. With Edwin and PS you felt safe because they were good, and the defence protected them. With De Gea you felt safe because you knew despite the defence being shit he would protect us. He was the most important player in that team and without him we would have collapsed.

Once again, none of this was the point of the original email, but I’m hardly surprised it was taken out of context considering the comprehension skills of some of the readers of the mailbox. They were all keepers I loved, but I just think DDG at his absolute peak was better than the other two. That is my opinion, not a fact.
IP (Do I even have to mention the three POTY on the bounce)


Bored, bored, bored, bored (of Liverpool injury talk, so here’s some more)
I’m so bored about hearing how Liverpool’s injuries at centre back have ruined their season. Lindsey’s email this morning tipped me over the edge although to be fair, it was hardly the worst of them and she acknowledged a lot of what I’m about to repeat (feel free not to bother reading this). Yes, it’s unfortunate but it’s their own fault that it’s impacted on the rest of the team, it didn’t have to be this way. Firstly, it’s terrible planning to sell Lovren and not replace him when you already know Gomez and Matip are injury prone. The only unexpected injury was Van Dijk but then if you play him for 90 mins of every game all season for 2 years, nature of how the injury happened notwithstanding, are you really that surprised when he gets injured? You took a huge risk and can’t moan about it afterwards when it goes wrong. Lindsey mentioned how unlucky it is to have all 3 of your senior centre backs go out injured and yes, that is unfortunate but how about I dunno, having maybe 4 or 5 senior centre backs instead like other teams do.

Secondly, yes, it has ruined the midfield. But that’s only because Klopp made the choice to do that. He didn’t have to move Fabinho or Henderson back, he could have had them in midfield and kept the balance of the rest of the team absolutely fine. He chose not to, so that’s not bad luck, it’s completely on him. He could have chosen to play Philips (23 years old, not some callow teenager) alongside Rhys Williams as a partnership and let them grow together rather than swapping everything around every week and subjecting us all to this bleating of ‘oh it’s our 37th centreback partnership this season’. I don’t think they’re good enough but then again, that’s a complete failing of your youth system and transfer policy and planning so you can’t complain.

I looked at their team for one of the matches a few weeks ago and actually, it was 9 out of the 11 starters that won them the league, not a patched up team of youth players.

Also, don’t start putting Keita or the Ox in the list of big injuries, they barely play when they’re fit anyway and it looks like Thiago’s injury was actually your best few months of the season and did you a favour so you can take that one out as well.

Anyway, I’m really bored of all the Liverpool mails but now I’ve become part of the problem, sorry.
Sam, London


Liverpool’s collapse

I shouldn’t bite but it is getting a bit tiresome reading justifications for Liverpool’s collapse by comparing it to past title defenses but Man Utd. Those particularly mentioned pour scorn on Roy Keane in 1998 and Rio Ferdinand in 2003 .

Lets just put both of these in context, in 1998 Man Utd were going for their 5th title in 6 years, but for the finger tips of a West Ham goalkeeper it would have been for 6 in a row. In 2003 they were going again going for their 5th title in 6 years.

So when Keane and Ferdinand take about sustained performance and bad champions, that’s the level they are talking about.


Assorted thoughts on Newcastle, West Ham & Man City

  • Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first; Ryan, Bermuda mentioned yesterday that Man City’s spending hasn’t been brought up in relation to their supposed dominance. Despite the several paragraphs that followed I’ll go ahead and assume that the entire mail was tongue in cheek.
  • I agree wholeheartedly with Sam from Stockwell regarding the negative impression being given off about West Ham’s fans. Whenever the line about how toxic the stadium is the one and only piece of evidence that is brought up is the game against Burnley in 2018. To counter that example the in stadium protests started after Burnley’s third goal flew in and thus had no effect on the result. Using that as proof of how toxic their stadium is would be like referring to Old Trafford as a toxic stadium because of that one time a “Moyes Out” plane flew overhead during a big defeat. They both sound a bit silly.
  • A better point would be to gauge the home performance of some clubs based on the age and layout of the grounds. In West Ham’s case it’s well known that the layout of the ground, specifically having a running track between fans and the touchline, harms the acoustics and makes it harder to generate an atmosphere. Meanwhile clubs with old fashioned grounds and steep stands, where it feels as if the fans are swallowing you (such as Brammal Lane) are faring much worse.
  • The mail from Kev regarding Newcastle’s impending relegation yesterday matched my own views so closely I wondered whether I’d mailed in and simply forgotten (especially considering I’m also a non native Toon supporter called Kevin). As many of you concur Newcastle are absolute gash to watch and it’s difficult to think of that changing even if we were to limp over the line. Plus even in the best case scenario of Newcastle staying up what’s to think next season would be any different? Either Bruce stays on to bore us all to tears while gunning for a 0-0 draw every game, or following Ashley’s usual recruitment policy Newcastle swoop for Mark Hughes, Tony Pulis or Nigel Pearson. Yay.
  • Finally on Bruce. It beggars belief that he isn’t even under any pressure from the board never mind still in a job. For context here’s John Carver’s record as Newcastle manager in 2014/15:

P19 W3 D4 L12 Points 13.

Steve Bruce’s post-Christmas league record meanwhile (so ignoring the league cup and FA cup exits to Brentford and Arsenal) is:

P16 W2 D4 L9 Points 10

Bruce needs to pick up 3 points in his next three games just to match the Carver’s record, who is widely recognised as one of the worst managers of this century. I don’t think any further comment is required.
Kevin, Nottingham


Whining about money
I’m so tired of reading about ‘oh x only win y because their (net) spend is b’. As if anyone involved in European football has ever cared about an even competition. If they had there would be a salary cap, a draft – you know, any of the myriad forms of regulation used throughout the world to encourage a diversity of victors and competition more broadly in hundreds of sports.

Hell, even the ‘financial fair play’ rules were geared such that the teams with the most revenue would be allowed to spend the most. Rules as ‘fair’ as free trade agreements are ‘free’.

PSG, City, Real, Juve, Bayern…. they are just playing by the rules European football has had in place for decades. They can hardly be blamed for a system that allows those with more cash to win?

Thomas Wilson



Changing the market
“In the meantime, it’s all about the free transfers, with Eric Garcia, David Alaba, Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero all available for no transfer fee this summer, though we suspect the Argentine will not be the only one who wants a hefty signing-on bonus.” – F365 Gossip.

With so many big players having contracts expiring this year and most clubs in the world having no money, could we see a move to short term contracts with bigger signing on bonuses but no transfer fees as the new transfer market going forward? Players will be able to move more regularly as the contracts would be one or two years, not four or five years and clubs will not need to pay other clubs a transfer fee and a signing on bonus to the player. A down side is lack of job security for the players not in demand. It also gives more player (and agent) power. Not much more (or anything really) to my theory than that so I’ll leave it there.
Ismail Laher, Johannesburg


Savage losing it
I managed to catch the second half of the Juventus v Porto game last night.  I’m glad I did.  Was a game of ups and downs with a fantastic last few minutes.

Whilst Robbie Savage is hardly my favourite pundit or commentator, him losing it during commentary, for me had some sense of charm to it.  Made a change from the banal musings and facts given out during games, and was something enjoyable about him watching and commenting as a fan of football and getting caught up in the game rather than a commentator.

Even the more professional Darren Fletcher got caught up in it at times before trying to get his professional head back on.


European Super League and moron commentators
Dear Mailbox,

In the closing moments of the amazing Juventus-Porto game last night, self-proclaimed ‘football intellectual’ Robbie Savage claimed that this victory would be one of FC Porto’s greatest ever European nights. I’m sure he was a bit excitable but is he also stupid or was this a specific comment to push an agenda?

Porto have won the same amount of European Cups/Champions Leagues as Juventus (2), they can also boast 2 UEFA Cup/Europe League victories, 2 Intercontinental titles, a European Super Cup, and countless semi-final appearances.

This was only a round of 16 2nd leg, albeit a joyful victory, but by no means the massive upset he wants you to think it is.

Now this shouldn’t be so annoying to me as I know Savage is a terrible pundit/commentator, however the soon to be announced Swiss-style Champions League changes will make these type of matches less frequent. Does Savage (and BT Sports) want us to think that the likes of Porto are undeserving of their place in the Champions League, so to further push the ‘big clubs’ from the ‘big leagues’ only playing each other in ‘big games’?

Do me a favour.
Peter A. (And whilst we are on the subject of FC Porto; Mourinho OUT)


Away goals silliness
Loved Eoin Mac Raghnaill’s take on the ridiculous away goals rule in the Champions League. This is especially relevant when Liverpool could possibly go out on away goals tonight after 2 games played in the same stadium.

But what makes it more interesting for irredeemable nerds like myself (and I can’t emphasise this enough: the following it the most football nerd of football nerd observations – it might even be too much for Daniel Storey) is that nobody even knows what the score was last night … technically. Let me explain.

Most (all?) outlets have Juventus winning 3-2 on the night (AET) for a 4-4 aggregate draw, with Porto going through on away goals. But let’s see what the actual Champions League regulations say ( Final warning that this is nerdism at its absolute worst.

“[I]f the two teams involved in a tie score the same number of goals over the two legs, the team which scores more away goals qualifies for the next stage.” So far so good. At the end of 90 minutes, it’s 2-1 to Juve and 3-3 on aggregate. Same number of away goals so extra time is needed.


“If both teams score the same number of goals during extra time, away goals count double”. That’s right: double! It’s in the rules! So Porto actually won 5-4 on aggregate after a 3-3 draw on the night (AET).*

In Eoin’s article he links to a radio phone-in where a fan is ridiculed for thinking away goals count double**. But they do … sometimes … sort of.
Dave (I didn’t even see the bloody game) Lillis, Dublin

* strictly speaking it doesn’t say only “away goals scored during extra time count double”, so it could be that all away goals now retrospectively count double, making it 4-3 on the night and 6-5 on aggregate.

** Oliveira should have a word with the golden boot people too, by the way.


Couldn’t agree more about away goals, especially at the moment. Liverpool are in the laughable position tonight, where if they were to lose 3-1 they would go out on away goals despite both legs being played in the same stadium in front of no fans.

Even post-pandemic though, we should get rid of it. The away goals rule is a relic of the past. It comes from a time when it wasn’t uncommon to win 5-1 at home and lose 4-0 away. Travel time was much longer and less comfortable and players were unfamiliar with the places they were playing, or the teams they were playing against.

This just isn’t true anymore. There’s absolutely no reason why a team should draw 0-0 away, 1-1 at home and then go out of the competition. It’s forever been one of my pet peeves of football and the sooner they scrap it the better.
Mike, LFC, London