Could Manchester United be 25 points better off with some decent coaching from Ten Hag?

Date published: Wednesday 29th June 2022 3:40 - Editor F365

Erik Ten Hag will bring his cones to Manchester United

It’s a question. As is ‘did Manchester United just have two great managers?’ The Mailbox is fascinating as ever.

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Coaching beats transfers
Many commentators (including some at F365) have had a field day about Man United’s problems over the past few months. No opportunity is spared in battering the reputation of the club. And that seems to have continued into the summer transfers. Apparently United are likely to end up mid table unless they can throw a quarter of a billion at De Jong, Antony, De Ligt et al. But I’m going to make an outrageous suggestion here – this United team, with a few marginal tweaks can be comfortably 25 points ahead of where they are. This team have played for most of this season in a tactical and emotional vacuum. Their confidence has been systematically stripped. Not a single player has been coached into improving his game. And the club has been treading water in terms of any kind of long-term project.

Ten Hag still represents a risk, but I think he will give this team a huge lift even without signings. Simply by bringing discipline and tactical clarity, and a system of play, and the hands on attention to detail, most players will find an extra 25% or more. You can already see players working on their physical conditioning, and how desperate they are to make a good impression. Solskjaer was a good motivator but a limited tactician, and Rangnick was a disaster. I’m inclined to save some of the articles I see (including on F365) just to see how their tone changes if it turns out that McTominay, Fred and Maguire are actually pretty good players in the right system. Or if Mejbri, Garner, Laird, or Garnacho are brought into a tactically aligned system. Lets talk in six months shall we?
Ved Sen, MUFC


Is it payola?
If we needed any more proof that agents and money rule in the world of football M’lud, I present the case of Man United buying Tyrell Malacia, a left-back from Feyenoord.

United already have Luke Shaw and Alex Telles, plus the returning Brandon Williams, competing for the Left Back position. None of them world-beaters, but not complete duffers and there are other priorities in the skip fire at Old Trafford that need money chucking at. So why allocate precious transfer budget to Malacia?

Well, it just so happens that he shares an agent with Frenkie de Jong who, in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last few weeks, is the Number 1 transfer target for United. So they buy a good but not outstanding player (that they don’t need) in a deal which will drop a nice healthy bag of cash into the agent’s pocket as a ‘sweetener’ for helping to get the de Jong deal through.

But it’s all OK, because us mug punters will still keep paying the usurious fees for Sky and BT to fund this nonsense.

To be honest, it makes me sick.
Roger Andrew (pensioner getting sick of the stupid waste of money that we could use so much better) MUFC


Transfer system is fundamentally broken
While browsing the news on Dembele seeking a pay-raise from Barcelona to extend his contract despite not playing that much, it really dawned upon me how broken the Bosman system is and how this all affects the paying fans.

Today, player power has reached a new height and this truly does not bode well for the paying fans. The fundamental issue that needs rethinking as I see it, is that on the top end of the player scale, it is no longer a merit based system that justify the wages. While we used to have players negotiate massive wage increments on the basis of a good season or two, clubs today are forced to negotiate increments just to maintain the asset value of the players on their books. It seems players have finally wisened up.

Dembele will be offered a new contract because Barceona isn’t in the position to write off a 60m euros asset off their books. It really hardly matters that he hasn’t been playing much over the last couple of years. Especially if he turns up a few times a season, or post timely photos of his gruelling training regime on instagram.

This becomes a real problem not just for clubs that are held at ransom perpetually as 50m players become the average going in the market, but more profoundly for the quality of the game and the fans that are funding this ultimately.

Without a merit based system in place, players are unlikely to be sufficiently motivated in delivering their best, and will naturally gravitate to milking the sport and living up in their lifestyle – With football merely a part time after thought. I think we are already seeing elite players representing such mindset.

While clubs are often derided for greed while fans pay an unsustainably increasing cost to enjoy the sport, we are really looking at it all wrong. In a world where most clubs are massively unprofitable while their injured players rake in millions, it’s clear to see where the issue lies.

It’s high time that football goes through a thorough reform to tackle the unsustainable greed that permeates through the system. And that really begins with taking a closer look at how player power can be better managed.
Gabriel, Singapore (Gone are the Nevilles and Carraghers)


Manchester United fans need to roll with the punches
Ryan asks the question why does the media feel the need to paint United with a bad light all the time now?

I’ll counter this with another question : did you complain when they painted you in a good light for 20 years?

Obviously you didn’t but my point is that good and bad media is part of being relevant. For 20 years United players, the manager and fans boasted on a daily basis about being the greatest team. And now you’ve had a 10 year slide you’re complaining about bad coverage?

Accept that when you boast you make yourself open to mockery when it falls apart. Liverpool had it from the 90s until…actually it’s still ongoing. And it’s largely seen as deserved by many fans because we are seen as a boastful, cocky club with an equally cocky set of fans. People enjoy our defeats.

Liverpool fans wouldn’t let go of our “glorious past” and so people wouldn’t let us forget just how in the past that was. I imagine if United players and fans openly accepted they were a mid tier club now then the bad coverage would probably stop because nobody really enjoys seeing the humble team getting bullied.

I’m not saying United fans should do that. I’m a Liverpool fan and I didn’t do that, but I also rolled with the (many) punches aimed at Liverpool for 20 years and just had to grin and bear it.

Those are your choices. Grin and bear it while retaining your pride in your history or accept you’re mediocre and the bad coverage will stop. Liverpool fans couldn’t accept it which is why so many still enjoy seeing us lose or fail.

I’ll enjoy reading all the angry flames in the comments.


Did Manchester United just have two great managers?
I see Ryan, Bermuda’s “I guess my question is: when will Manchester United just be accepted as a poorly run club whose great years are behind it?” and raise it to “When will Manchester United just be accepted as an average club that has had two great managers?”

Before Alex Ferguson joined Utd they had won 7 league titles and 1 European Cup in just under 100 years. Of these Matt Busby won 5 league titles and the single European Cup. Under Ferguson they won 13 league titles and 2 European Cups. So, outside of Busby and Ferguson, Manchester United is a global superpower football club that has won 2 league titles.

You can get slightly weirder if you want and point out that Utd haven’t won a league title or European Cup without Ryan Giggs in the squad since 1968.

When Ferguson took over at Utd they were behind Liverpool, Arsenal and Everton and level with Aston Villa in terms of league titles. They were one ahead of Sunderland and three ahead of Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle. They had reached fewer European Cup finals than Nottingham Forest, Celtic, Reims, and Steaua Bucharest and the same as Aston Villa, Brugge, Saint Etienne, Malmo, Panathinaikos and Leeds.

It is only recently bias that has the press assuming that Utd will return to the top any time soon. History suggests it is still a couple of decades away yet.
Micki Attridge


Still doing this
Oliver Dziggel asked if using Fabinho ‘with cherry-picked stats is either brazenly intellectually dishonest, or brazenly stupid’. Well here I am to explain. It was used to illustrate that Alex’s contextless PL appearances number for Mahrez (that I was replying to) didn’t tell the whole story of his season contribution. Just as doing the same for Fabinho doesn’t, which is the point. I’m surprised this needed to be spelt out.

And after Diaz signed notice how Liverpool rotated their front three a lot more with him, Jota, Mane, Firmino and Salah all changed around regularly. It’s almost like when you have a strong set of players you can balance out their minutes across all four completions. Especially when you go far in lots of them. And some players may get more minutes in the CL and some get more in the PL.

And City’s third highest appearance maker still being described as just a squad player is some impressive one eyed stubbornness.
Andy D. Manchester. MCFC


Well done Alex Scott
Just like to appreciate the stand Alex Scott is taking. Despite the online abuse she receives every day, she refuses to step away from football broadcasting. Now I’m not one to complain about government inaction – I also believe politics has no place in football – but this just cries out for something to be done. Alex Scott represented her country 140 times. That – along with the titles she won at Arsenal, should be all that matters. I’ll just repeat that. Alex Scott played for England ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY times. More than Bobby Charlton (108), more than David Beckham (115), more than Wayne Rooney (120) and 15 times more than Peter Shilton – who holds the men’s record. Disagree with her opinions on football – fine. You don’t have to like her and I suspect there are tribal Spurs fans who don’t on prinicpal. Fair enough. But if you have tweeted ‘you should stick to ironing’ to her, or any other female footballer, you should at least be ashamed, I would suggest you seek treatment. Either way, you’re not welcome in football.
Graeme Rutherford-Doak


Why John Nich is angry about Brexit
Just to presumptuously explain John N’s motivations for moaning about Brexit and Brexiteers, in response to Michael’s mail.

I’m assuming the reason John feels the need to vent about Brexit and its ringleaders because as a result of the choice of 52% of the referendum voters, 100% of the country now has to suffer the consequences – such as the economy tanking, travel and trade being more difficult, and so on. From a broader perspective, the Leave vote gave the green light for a wave of nationalism and populism to infiltrate the Conservative Party, with Boris Johnson – described by Michael Heseltine as a man who sees which way the crowd is running, heads to the front and shouts ‘This way!’ – pandering to the furthest-right, most extreme members of the party. One of the common similarities amongst far-right governments throughout history is corruption, and so it’s proved to be – look at the billions of pounds of public money (i.e, money contributed by all of us mugs via tax) given away in dodgy PPE contracts, the doomed Track & Trace scheme, fraudulent furlough that lined the pockets of bosses and was latterly written off, and so on.

To summarise: Brexit affects everyone in the country. That’s why people who didn’t vote for it are angry.

To address the slightly odder parts of Michael’s mail – if ‘certain cultures’ don’t want to fly a Pride flag, that’s up to them, because they’re not shafting the entire country by forcing their views on others. For an example of religious extremism affecting those who don’t necessarily practise that religion, see the US Supreme Court inflicting an abortion ban across numerous states. Again, the far-right are to blame there, having infiltrated a country with a normally centre-right government.

As for the reference to child grooming – the use of ‘Similarly…’ adds an alarming note to what could otherwise be happily dismissed as a bizarre non-sequitur. Just to clarify, Michael – there aren’t any religions or ethnic groups that demand or promote child grooming. To say ‘They’re all like that’ is not only factually incorrect, it’s pretty much the definition of racism.
Dan, Worthing


Why we’re still angry about Mike Riley
Tom G, you have to realise that it’s the referee’s job to enforce the rules of football? That’s their entire remit. In every football game that has ever been played there’s been consistent rule breaking whether it’s appealing for a throw-in that you know isn’t yours or karate kicking someone in the knackers. So we need the rules enforced and we appoint someone to do so and it’s only logical that we hold that person to task when they fail.

Mike Riley failed so hard in that match that we still talk about it almost 20 years later. He was so cynically played by Ferguson and Utd that it stands out as one of the worst performances by a man doing his job in 20 years of abject performances. We don’t talk about it because Utd were so out of line, we talk about it because they were allowed to be. The idea that the solution to organised rule breaking in the elite level of a sport is to just get the thing over with is ridiculous. I can’t even make a coherent argument against this idea because it’s so stupid. It’s like sending pick pockets to jail but not even arresting bank robbers. If we don’t expect the rules to be enforced then there’s no need for a referee or even rules in the first place.

It’s like some psycho kicking someone in the street right in front of a police officer who does nothing. Emboldened by their seeming immunity they and their psycho mates go on to kick everyone they see for the next 90 minutes, all while being watched intently by the same police officer. Yes, the psycho and his mates are reprehensible but the police officer is derelict in his duty and should be disciplined.

Officiating in professional sport should be about enforcing fairness. That is literally it. The PGMOL’s only concern is protecting the PGMOL. We argue about declining quality of officiating because, despite the introduction of video technology to correct mistakes, the quality of officiating is declining. I can see the mistakes, you can see the mistakes, the PGMOL tells you that the mistakes don’t exist. Where we are is a direct result of unconditional support for referees in order to protect the PGMOL and not an honest appraisal of performance for the protection of the sport. Hopefully that changes now.
SC, Belfast


Who hates Crawley?
Good article by Ian King but one line interested me.

“There is no club team on earth with more fans than rivals”

I nominate Crawley. I can’t think of any real rivals for them. All around them non-League teams with others to concentrate. As a Brighton fan, we used to patronise them a bit and hate them when Steve Evans was there but I don’t think any of us would give them any thought. Apparently they view AFC Wimbledon as rivals but I can’t help but think this is mostly one way and they have other priorities.

Can anyone think of a bigger club without rivals or have I got Crawley wrong?
Dave, Seagull and Rook

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