Manchester United as Blockbuster and Ten Hag playing a dangerous game

Date published: Thursday 4th August 2022 3:58 - Editor F365

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag

Manchester United dominate the Mailbox but we also have more predictions and a really passionate defence of Dean Henderson.

Send your mails to theeditor@football365.com because this is your page.

 

Manchester United = Blockbuster
If we were to buy you, what are you thinking? I mean, a number. What are we talking about here?”

“50 million.” Replied Reed with unwavering eye contact.

The CEO who was dressed expensively from head to loafers looked at the men wearing flip flops and was struggling not to laugh. They left without a deal but the upstarts wouldn’t only have the last laugh, they would devastate and destroy the company that derided them.

The casually dressed men were Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph, the founders of Netflix and the eventual executioners of Blockbuster Entertainment. That meeting took place in 2000 when Blockbuster were the kings of home entertainment and Netflix were the new kids looking to disrupt the industry. Today Netflix is worth around 100 billion dollars. As for Blockbuster, they have one store left globally.

That’s a great story you might be thinking but how is that pertinent to the football365 mailbox? Well in July 2009 Alex Ferguson and Manchester United were the Kings of English Football, they’d just won their third Premier League title in a row and had been to back to back Champions League finals. However trouble was on the horizon. Their City rivals had recently been taken over by businessmen with virtually limitless funds and they’d used some of that cash to secure former United player Carlos Tevez.

Not content with the statement signing City decided to put up the now infamous poster of Tevez which was in City blue and read ‘Welcome to Manchester’. Sir Alex Ferguson was incredulous and mocked City as ‘noisy neighbours’.

Fast forward to 2022 again and City have won 6 Premier League titles and are building a dynasty under the guidance of Guardiola. City have surpassed United as the richest club. As for United we haven’t won a Premier League title for 9 years and we have a player almost as irrelevant as Blockbuster…Phil Jones.

Tomorrow I will release a 2nd part where I delve in to the reasons for this demise and why arrogance can be deadly in the face of innovation.
Mason Wild

 

Ten Hag is playing a dangerous game with De Jong
Many eyes will be on United this weekend to see whether Ronaldo plays at all. If him leaving early last week was “unacceptable” then he definitely can’t start but you’d want to drop him entirely if you were the manager wouldn’t you?

That said, most United fans will probably be concerned (at best) that McFred is likely to be the midfield again. I suggest this will be the first thing our annoying fan base (hater base most of the time) point at when we fail to beat Brighton again. Whilst I agree that this is likely to be an issue, I will not be joining them in condemning the club for this still being the case this season.

Every briefing we seemed to get from the club or the mystical “club sources” tells us that the manager is trusted and is being backed. The manager himself has admitted he wants a midfielder but it must be “the right one”. It’s clear at this point that he’s referring to De Jong. From what we can see, United have done everything to get De Jong this summer, having agreed a fee with Barca. That the deal has not got over the line as yet is more down to Barcelona and their absolutely incredible financial situation (and the gamble of their summer transfer business) than to Murtough or Arnold cocking up in some way. You could ask why they haven’t moved on to other targets but that just brings you back round to Ten Hag’s insistence that he wants the right man. Whether it’s reality or not, the image that United are portraying (as is Ten Hag) is that the manager is being backed and he will only pursue the right players and will wait for them to be available or develop other players.

Now I happen to agree with that stance. Whether or not it is what is happening is up for debate but United have had a scattergun approach to recruitment since Fergie left and it hasn’t worked. Wishing for United to move on to other targets just because they are available is just doing the same thing over again – it’s not going to work. United wasted £1 Billion in the Woodward era. I’d like to see us spend half that in the Arnold era and clear our debts. I applaud United trying not to waste money, it makes a bloody change.

However, this will give Erik Ten Hag an enormous short-term issue if De Jong stays at Barcelona and especially if he ends up at Chelsea. The club have waited all summer for him on Ten Hag’s insistence. We are continually told that the club is confident that they can get De Jong signed. This is presumably because Ten Hag has communicated with De Jong and De Jong has said he will come (provided he gets his money). If Frenkie stays at Barcelona then we’ve got another Fabregas situation where our new manager has been jerked along by a player all summer. Any replacement signing will then be known as the next Fellaini. That’s a blow for Ten Hag but at least you can see it from De Jong’s point of view, loving life in Barcelona and loving the club as he supposedly does.

But if he goes to Chelsea then that’s a huge blow to Ten Hag where the club has backed him, agreed a deal for the player but the player has said no. You can argue about Champions League, yada yada yada but that’s not been an issue in United signing players before and he’ll be going to Chelsea where Tuchel is a fairly safe bet to be sacked before the World Cup starts, having limped to the end of the season last year. That’s reputationally damaging to Ten Hag where he doesn’t have the pull he thought he had, particularly if he can’t convince a player he developed to come and play for the biggest (not necessarily the best) club outside of Spain.

I don’t think it will be terminal for Erik has he seems a decent coach (I really like him, I hope he stays for a long time) but he’ll be reliant on McFred – as his predecessors were – in a season where at least 5 other teams have better midfielders and forwards. There will also be question marks on his ability to attract the top players to the club. Whilst most fan anger at the moment seems to be against the club itself, the decision to pursue De Jong at all costs is Ten Hag’s. There’s only so much McFred the “fans” will put up with before they turn on the manager.

I am looking forward to seeing who he develops at least!
Ash (Iqbal maybe?) Metcalfe

 

Eleven Hag
I miss my brother Brian immensely. He passed far too young. And now I don’t have a Man Utd fan to annoy and harass with Liverpool’s brilliant performances of late. The world will never be right unless LFC has a legitimate MUFC to compete with. I fear Ten Hag will have to turn it up to Eleven Tag if there will be any competition this season. And I am sure Brian agrees. (Although he probably doesn’t).
Sean, LFC, Roseville, Ontario

 

Somebody has a lot to say on Dean Henderson
Hi F365, I often like a lot of what you guys write about, it is very mature and well meaning, but then you go the opposite way and overreact at apparent scandal and get everybody to spazz out uncontrollably about “reprehensible” conduct and stuff. I’m talking about Dean Henderson. Praising the curmudgeon Danny Mills should have been your first clue that you were barking up the wrong bush, but I get it, let’s be hysterical, and point the finger, especially after all the goodwill the last few days about the state of women’s football, but yeah, too much of that needs to be countered with TRAVESTY type of emotion, I get it. Balance between love and hate needs to be maintained, it truly does.

Dean Henderson just spent a year sitting on his arse, a year that he believed he absolutely would not be sitting on his arse. Yes, stuff like this happens, but he was fearful that he might end up spending the year sitting on his arse but was reassured that he wouldn’t be, so he TRUSTED the manager and the club and stayed put. He ended up spending the year sitting on his arse. A year ago the guy tried to take his life in his own hands but he was made promises, urged to keep the faith, believe in the big picture. The choice of a goalkeeper is not the same as the choices of an outfield player. It is very easy to see how likely it will be if you’re going to play or not, it’s not the usual cycle of 10 players being changed and refreshed, it’s one guy between the sticks who will likely be the goalie every game. All clubs do this, it is very very likely that only one keeper will play, being the sub goalie is often just being on standby, being the 3rd choice goalkeeper is like a wildcard thing, it’s probably never going to happen unless there are crazy scenarios. There ISN’T much competition. The first choice is the utter favourite, the second choice will barely ever play, and 3rd choice will NEVER play unless it’s something really random.

Goalies generally know what they’re doing with their lives because of the way things are done, if they don’t want to be second choice they’ll get the hell out of there, unless they’re happy with the odd game. Henderson did not want to be second choice. Goalkeepers are the simplest position to pick in football, they very rarely get rotated, emphasis on VERY, keepers know this better than anybody. A second choice knows that they will probably never get their chance, a 3rd choice is basically just around to have a laugh on the training ground. If somebody doesn’t want to be second or third choice anymore they are better off jumping ship. Henderson decided he didn’t want to be second choice, but was reassured that even though he was, he’d get more of an opportunity. I’d venture he was already abit skeptical about “maybe being number 1 sometimes”, but was assured that would be the case enough of the time. It wasn’t, and it obviously pissed him off. He didn’t want to stick around and be considered by Ten Hag as being good enough to keep around, only to find out that rotating keepers isn’t in his DNA either so he’d just spend another year of a short career stagnating away.

These managers are like “wow, I have two great goalies, think of the possibilities”, only to never explore the possibilities and stick to the status quo. A few years ago every club seemed to start acquiring two great goalies for one position, but the attitude to keepers will never change, there can be only one and the others are only ever there in case the least exerted player on the pitch gets fitness issues, which won’t happen. A keeper needs to break their fingers for another keeper to get a chance. An established number 1 can be in a truly rotten run of form but never lose their place the whole time.

Be nicer ffs, the guy knew his options were limited and wanted to go but was told he had more options than he realised, only to find out over the course of the season that he was dead on in his assessment last summer, and he was afraid that if Ten Hag liked him he’d get more promises that never came true.

Let’s just stop being outraged over everything for once, it’s a simple situation of somebody wanting their work like to be more about the work and less about the pay cheque, just on a very monstrous scale. Would any of you leave a high paying unfulfilling job for one that pays less but brings a better life/work balance? And I know, a good employee would never talk crap about their previous employers, but if your previous employers made a big deal that they would give you more satisfying work to do instead of you leaving for a better option and convinced you to stick around but then don’t provide you with the things that they promised when you could be off somewhere ENJOYING YOUR WORK, aren’t those previous employers now a lying shower of bastards? Goalkeeper, as I’ve said, is easy, either your chances are good or they aren’t. He correctly assessed it, they told him he didn’t, he took them at their word, nothing changed. He didn’t want to be number 2. Contrary to Danny Mills’ opinion and the Ra Ra Brigade who are letting him be offended for them, goalkeeper is not an insecure position, you don’t have to fight for your place every week, if you play 10 crap games in a row you probably won’t get dropped, you certainly won’t be taken off during an ongoing game, and if you’re so crap for so long you do get dropped, if you’re the number 1 and you show during training you have your head adjusted back on and you’re ready to go you’ll play whole seasons without anybody else getting a look in. Goalkeepers are either number 1, happy to be number 2 or 3 accepting they are likely never going to play, or not wanting to be number 2 or 3 and deciding to go somewhere else. There’s not a lot to it. Chap didn’t want to sit around, he wanted to go but they said he wouldn’t sit around, he ended up just sitting around when he absolutely didn’t want to sit around.
Dave (Dean Henderson’s agent), Dublin

 

On ickle Citeh
I’ve been following City since the bad old days, or good old days if you’re of a particular Mancunian disposition, and I have to say I’m honestly baffled at the sudden wave of misery coming out from fellow supporters, opposition supporters, and the media since the Community Shield.

I promise I’m not about to do an “oh dear I remember Lee Bradbury/Matias Vuoso/etc it were so much worse like” bit but I genuinely cannot remember when such a fuss was made over the result of a glorified friendly, and how it suddenly means that our new striker is somehow not fit for purpose. Yes, granted, it generally takes players time to get to grips with Pep’s demands, but you’d think this was January and Haaland hadn’t scored once, and not his first 90 minutes after a grand total of 45 minutes played with the team in our whole preseason. The team out there with him have only two preseason games under their belts, Liverpool had four. Why is it then surprising that City were not quite up to it? Why is this sudden cause to declare that we may no longer be a “value bet,” as the famously betting industry-critical F365 suddenly has decided we are?

Is everyone so desperate for us to be knocked down a peg that anything less than godliness suddenly means we’re finished? I can’t figure out any other reason why so many would be slavering over the Community f**king Shield as a harbinger of the end times otherwise.

Bad news for those who are though. It’s not that far back you have to look to find old City here, starting the season a *bit* slowly and things turning out our way in the end. Not like it’s only happened one time either. And we generally get it done without the strikers or the left backs that we are apparently doomed without.

Have fun hoping, kids. Gonna be another good season.
Andrew, MCFC, Queens, New York

 

More predictions
It’s been a while since I wrote in last but I do love the predictions game, so here is mine.

As is traditional, tell me who will win the league.
I think it would be folly to look beyond either Liverpool or City. I think the scales are slightly tipped in the favour of Liverpool as things stand, because I think they’ve got the better balance of squad.

And the rest of the top four, in order. Which nobody ever gets right.
I’ll go City, Spurs, and Arsenal but only if the Gunners can improve their consistency, otherwise it’ll likely be Chelsea in 4th.

Three picks for relegation please.
Fulham, Bournemouth, and Forest. Fulham basically got promoted on the back of Mitrovic’s goals, which won’t come anything like as freely as they did in the Championship. I fear that Bournemouth’s squad is nothing like Premier League quality – I think they’ll struggle to both score and keep clean sheets, which is a bad combination. Forest have spent a massive amount of money on loads of new players, which will surely destabilise/disrupt the balance of the squad. I think Everton, Leicester and Southampton are going to struggle but probably just about have enough to survive ahead of the newly promoted teams.

Which club will be a pleasant surprise?
This is a hard question to answer because I don’t think any of the newly promoted teams are going to survive, and I don’t know that any of the teams who stayed up last year have made strides significant enough to surprise us. I’ll say Villa, because I think they are the team mostly likely to significantly improve on last year’s 14th place.

Who will win the Golden Boot?
It’ll probably be boring and be one of Salah, Son, or Kane. I’ll go for Salah.

Which new signing will have the greatest positive impact?
If he can score for Arsenal like he scored against Arsenal, and keep up his pre-season form, then I think it will be Gabriel Jesus. However, at City I never really felt he was a striker, so it remains to be seen whether he’s the man they need to lead the line.

And which one will turn out to be a massive flop?
I think Forest have brought in too many new players, and probably overpaid for quite a few of them – so take your pick there. Leeds’ purchase of Brenden Aaronson at nearly £30m stands out as a risk too, but I will probably say the wooden spoon goes to Everton for paying £20m for Dwight McNeil.

Who will be the biggest bloody bargain?
I think the obvious candidates are the freebies, so Manor Solomon, Ivan Perisic and Christian Eriksen look like good bets to me. In terms of the ones that cost a fee, I’ll go for Nick Pope at £10m or Joe Aribo for £6m.

Who will be named the PFA Player of the Year?
If he’s top scorer then Salah, otherwise De Bruyne.

First manager to leave their Premier League job?
Given that Watford are no longer in the league, that removes the obvious choice. So, either Marco Silva or Steve Cooper, but I’ll plump for Cooper just because of how much he’s spent this year.

Pick the Champions League winner.
Could this be PSGs year? Probably not. I’ll play it relatively safe and say Real Madrid.

In five words, tell us what you are most excited about this season.
United playing better football. Hopefully.
Ted, Manchester

 

…Two days to go !

I’m going to try and put a different slant on my predictions, just for the sake of variety.

Due to so much football I am going to predict a larger than usual blighting of key players across many clubs . Nobody likes to see the best players not playing but this season I’d wager it’s even more likely.

Here goes then, in a random order.

Player of the year : Trent A.A. which will also lose Southgate his job after the World Cup through not picking him . His all round game is maturing nicely and he is on target for balón d’or territory .

This and good luck will see Liverpool become Champions .

Although City have the financial advantages I’m predicting they’ll lose the spine to injuries . DeBruyne , Díaz ,Kalvin , Haaland , Silva all crocked for long periods and teams being courageous against them.

In the same vein , I’m predicting that neither Arsenal nor Spurs will make the top four ! Though that is a tough call to make , all three of Chelsea , United and West Ham will finish above the two north London teams .

Ronaldo will track back a little and finish loads of chances made for him by Sancho , Bruno , wing backs and most of all Cristian Eriksen , who , on a free , can be ‘bargain of the season’ and most assists at United . Imagine Greenwood in that team ! Is he behind bars ? This 5’,9“ Argentine may be seen in the defensive midfield role ( a la Mascherano ) protecting Maguire and Varane depending on the opponent . Allowing a 4-1–2-3 by Ten Hags Erik.

Best British manager will be between Brighton and Newcastle , Moyes’ preferred playing style is not on a par . Hence Potter ought to be a shoe -in for next England manager .

If only there were a top six in La Liga , though for the umpteenth time in my life here the ‘big two’ will bash it out , losing break away goals to tiny teams in tiny stadiums . Xavi Hernández’ Blaugrana for the league title , Spain are my shout for the Qatar World cup too . But with Portugal , Holland , Argentina , Brazil , Spain , Germany , France , England and Denmark I think we will see some top notch knock out contests with OCB / rízzla paper thin differences . Young player of the tournament, well Pedri of course . Hoping Ansu Fati can play a big role too .

Should be a good Christmas here if that happens. Onwards !
Peter . ( who are England’s back up scorers if Sterling and Kane aren’t scoring ? I’d go Foden as a false 9 ! ) Andalucia

 

…As the pre-season predictions roll in, it’s striking how similar many are. City win, Liverpool second, rest of big 6 battle it out and Fulham, Bournemouth and another down seems to be pretty consistent.

But, surely this season is ripe for shocks. A world cup half way through, a jam-packed schedule for teams in Europe, the top TWO selling star attackers and the rest of the league picking up big talent from across Europe. I’m not saying it will happen for sure, but due to the uncertainty, it’s got to be more likely than ever we see a LeiCEster-esque run from someone. Would most likely be someone like West Ham, but could even be Brighton or Villa – with shrewd signings in the latter and a top manager in the former. But a stacked league down to about 10th may mean more upsets and condense things further and mean these teams may be looking at a top half finish find themselves in a European battle.

I’m hopeful that the team making that run is Newcastle, but our attack looks too weak for now. Maybe we can do it, but I think this season looks primed for a big shock from someone.
James, NUFC. (Brighton top 4, you heard it here first)

 

…I cannot wait for the new season. Leeds signings look good, we have some players back from injury and we have actually signed some senior players. A new left-back would complete the summer.

Hopefully, we can stay up more comfortably this year (I’d take 9th again but let’s get safe first). I see more goals (no more wingers up front), more flexibility in tactics and some decent football. I’d just settle for not conceding 20 goals in a month as well.

Football is game of opinions but I personally see at least five teams worse than us (Southampton, Everton and the three promoted clubs). I also think that Jesse marsch is underrated and with his own side will get us up the table.

Liverpool for the title, Man Utd to finish sixth again and Spurs to win a cup are my predictions.

Good luck to all!
Tom

 

Three points
1. Nobody will be daft enough to bite on the latest drivel from the mythical ‘Barry Fox’, will they? Surely not?

2. Not entirely sure why this esteemed site saw fit to publish Lee’s mail on trans/sport issues yesterday. All very commendable and, of course, quite topical. But what on earth has it got to do with contemporary football? Is there an ongoing issue at a women’s football club that I haven’t heard about? If not, it’s hard to defend F365 from those that allege you print stuff like this and patently obvious nonsense from the likes of ‘BF’ purely as clickbait. I do hope not as I’d like to think you’re above this type of behaviour which you regularly, and rightly, call out in others in Mediawatch.

3. The women’s game moving forward. Quite enjoying this debate on here and just wanted to add something to Micki Attridge’s mail from yesterday. I have two boys of primary school age and, out of the consequent circle of mums and dads we mix with, all but one of the fathers are serious footy fans (Leicester, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal). What I find interesting is that all are looking to attend WSL games when the season starts. And this includes Mums who have previously had absolutely zero interest in the game.

The main reason? The fact that the Euro 2022 games were clearly family orientated and had a distinct absence of p*ssed-up Stone Island-clad knuckle draggers. No tension, no hate. No need to explain to your kids what “F**king C**t” means. No racism. No singing songs about Hillsborough or Munich. No need to worry about wearing ‘colours’ for fear that some chav tw*t will look to stick one on you as you exit a ground. Oh, and crucially, that nobody cares that some of the players are gay. Couldn’t care less, in point of fact.

The second reason is the cost of living crisis we’re in and this is also having a bearing on the parent’s decision to attend WSL games rather than PL, Championship or EFL games.

You have two young kids. Do you take them to a men’s game where the cost, especially at PL grounds, can be stunningly high, with all the negative baggage that goes with it (travel, cordons, searches, segregation, Police dogs and horses etc), or do you take them to a WSL game where you know they will absolutely love the day and you, as a parent, don’t have to worry about the toxic tribalism that, seemingly, cannot and never will be, separated from the men’s game?

Now, this is only a dip into the views of a miniscule number of parents I know and, therefore, means nothing. But I do wonder if there is a fundamental shift on the way? I went to my first game in 1972 and I can still remember the rivers of p*ss flowing down the Kippax and the stench of booze and fags and the certainty of violence to follow. That was the norm then. Still didn’t make it right.

In 2022, I’m not taking my kids to football to learn that sh*t behaviour from sh*t people is either perfectly acceptable or ‘normal’ because it’s in or around a football ground. I want them to watch live football without apprehension, or even fear, and in an environment that is relatively safe. I’m going to suggest that there are an awful lot more football-loving parents out there who feel the same way and I will be fascinated to see how the corporate world, in the UK at least, reacts to this.

Of course, the kind of blokes that attend their children’s Saturday/Sunday morning games and scream abuse at the volunteer refs/line-o’s will be choking on their own bile reading this. Of course they will. They’re PFM’s and it’s all just ‘Bantz.’

Except it isn’t and both this England team AND their supporters have demonstrated perfectly how to win a major tournament. And how to support the team that won it. And how to celebrate said win. Not a fight, smashed window, or drunken/violent arrest in sight.

Fancy that.
Mark (Told you Alvarez was under Haaland’s radar) MCFC

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