One Mailboxer has named seven steps to improve Man Utd, while another thinks fans should just accept a top-half finish this season. Plus, Arsenal musings, Neville vs Jordan, refereeing, Chelsea and more…
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Jose Mourinho was right all along…
Is it just me, but does every week, and shambles that passes at Manchester United just vindicate many of the things Jose Mourinho said while he was there?
He claimed that getting them to 2nd was his biggest achievement, well given they’ve only managed that once since (in a season where other candidates suffered inept management and serious injury)
He clearly felt the board weren’t up to the job and downed tools after they wouldn’t sign Maguire (who they signed the following season anyway)
He has remarked on Shaw being unable to think for himself, had no time for Pogba or Martial.
We had one of the greatest managers of the last 20 years, paid him a small fortune, then proceeded to ignore everything he said, and four years later we’re even worse to watch, and still have 10 of those players in the squad, with a number of them still being regular starters.
It’s a total shambles.
How to fix Man Utd…
OK, there has been a lot of shouting about United in recent Mailboxes; fair enough, we have been proper sh*te the last couple of games, even considering some of the rubbish we played last season.
I’ll start by saying that I don’t for a second think that every player is awful, or Ten Haag is a fraud – there is plenty of talent in this team, not title winning, but certainly competitive.
Unfortunately, we are constrained by the dreaded narrative, and therefore, the United hierarchy need an outsider to come and fix it, and who could be more of an outsider to the Glazers than a United fan!?
So, play the below XI, I’m pretty sure none of them will ever get injured, suspended or need a rest, and we will almost certainly win our next 36 league games (unfortunately we will still balls up the cups, but hey ho, one step at a time!).
GK: A brick wall – we always compliment top goalkeepers as being akin to a brick wall, so stop playing stupid human imposters, and build and actual wall (will need to be on wheels to move at half time)
RB: If we can clone a sheep we can clone a younger Gary Neville, possibly even genetically modify him a chin
CB: Martinez – look, I’m a short a*se as well, so I want him to succeed
CB: Need to make up for the lack of height? Tyson Fury it is then. Will also help with whipping the other players in to shape (at points of the season, other points he can double down as a second brick wall)
LB: Shaw is being criticised for being too slow, so I reckon Usain Bolt, fanatical United fan, would jump at the chance to fill in
DM: De Jong because I am almost certain he both wants to join us and will be amazing
CM: Paul Scholes, no need to clone him, even in the twilight of his career he could control a game
CM: A literal black whole, which will suck the life out of the opposition, and give us a sense of nostalgia about the good old days of McFred
LW: Rashford, I don’t care if he is crap now, I still love him and nothing will change that
RW: Running out of ideas now, maybe put Foden out there? He wouldn’t have to relocate and knows how to win at Old Trafford
CF: Mbappe seems open to having his head turned, and PSG are probably skint (need to fact check that), so a cheeky bid of around £5m should do it
There, solved it.
Jack (Honestly think the Glazers would struggle to construct a brick wall, so this team might not materialise) Manchester
I have to admit I’m a bit confused by a lot of the contradictory comments from Man Utd supporters (in general / on social media etc). On the one hand, there is a lot of desire to re-build, fix the club from the top down etc etc, and yet. on the other, there is so much frustration at the poor results and performances on the pitch. And this isn’t just the average Twitter fan, but even “sensible” pundits like a certain G Nev.
You literally cannot have it both ways. There needs to be a realisation that this season is essentially a write-off. Accept a top half finish as being a “good” outcome and just left Ten Haag start creating a team to play to his philosophy. If that means Ronaldo sulks on the bench all season and he plays a bunch of teenagers, then so be it. But you can’t keep expecting to randomly buy expensive players with no strategy and hope that somehow they’ll all be great on the pitch together.
Rob, Surrey (smug Brentford fan)
The problems at United are fairly obvious. People point at the attack but they are feeding from scraps. The creative side of midfield is fine too. Neither of these departments are great but they’re certainly top 4 level.
No, the issue is defence and leadership, and that includes both keeper and the ability to protect the back four.
Anyone can see that Maguire isn’t good enough for a team with aspirations. As someone here said, he’s not fit to feed sausage rolls to Bruce. Not only is he lacking in the required attributes, he’s a shockingly bad captain. No leadership, no attempt to drive or hold others to account. No responsibility or ownership or pride. Of course, his ability to do this is somewhat limited by him being unable to command the smallest level of respect because he’s always one of the worst players in any 22 that step out. I get that there may a clause that requires him to be picked when fit, but that doesn’t surely require him to be captain. And hell, even if there is, it’s worth the cost to remove it. People talk of a malaise in the camp and he is core to it because other players around inevitably wonder what the hell he’s doing playing.
Then we come to Fred. He looked like he was learning the new role. Then either he’s reverted to last season’s behaviour or has been instructed to be pressing up the pitch. Either is bonkers. He basically serves no purpose.
People blame Shaw, who has to cover these two inept players – it’s nearly always him on the line trying to cover two opponents – and it stops him getting forward as much. When he does, he’s blamed for the others failings. Until those things are fixed though, Malacia’s younger legs and Evra vibes are needed.
We can look to recruitment for bringing these players and others in, and that’s being resolved with staff changes. But, as long as those two remain selected we will be in trouble.
Without a solid and at least passable if not dependable core remain, the attacking players will be feeding on scraps. Some quarters of the fanbase put the blame on them. You can debate the merits of a guy who scored 43 goals with 65+ goal involvements in two prior seasons, or a striker who doesn’t really spearhead attacks, or a midfielder who balloons his chances and gives up possession weakly (and weekly). But they have at least delivered in the past.
Fix the defence first, then worry about attack. I fancy there’s not so much to worry about there.
Seven steps to repair Man Utd
It’s indicative of what a sad state of affairs we are in when Liverpool & City fans appear to be almost feeling sorry for us and are writing in with coherent and non-sarcastic comments, quite correctly (in the main) describing the carnage that is United right now.
I have little to say on the spineless performance vs Brentford. I have nothing intelligent to add to what has already been said in other post-mortems (quite apt considering how lifeless United were).
In my humble opinion, a few things would at least help improve our fortunes:
SAD BUT NEEDED: Release Ronaldo. Nobody can afford to buy him. Get his salary off the books and allow him to choose his own destination. His attitude (even given his desire & effort) is having a negative impact.
CLEAR THE DECKS. AWB, Shaw, Bailly, Fred, Dalot and it could easily be argued; DDG, Rashford, Maguire and McTominay, for various reasons, are not up to the required standard. Time to get rid.
PLAY THE ACADEMY LADS: Iqbal, Savage and Garnacho are the future of our club. Integrate them now. They would get unconditional support from the vast majority of Reds, irrespective of results.
LEADERSHIP: If (as I suspect we will) we are to keep Maguire, take the captaincy off him. We have ZERO on-field leadership. I don’t dislike the lad, but he’s no Captain. Take the weight of leadership off his shoulders and he may get his confidence and his game back.
EARN YOUR PLACE: There are many who should be dropped, but of the ones I’d like to keep at the club, Bruno is at the top of the ‘deserves to be benched’ list. He’s been out of form for months, reaching way back into last season. He’s quality and he cares, but he needs a wake-up call.
RECRUITMENT: Buy the right bloody players. Sterling went for a very affordable 50 Million this summer. He’s a United fan and we weren’t even in for him? Arnautovic, really? Rabiot – I’m led to believe that Juve were thinking of releasing him this summer, but we offer 15 Million? We are linked with Vardy this morning. Another player in his mid-30’s. Crazy. Replace any positions we sell, with young, promising players. Buy a bloody good midfielder. I hope we can get FDJ over the line (though why he would want to join is beyond me) as he is quality. Likewise a striker. Can we get a really good one in his mid-20’s please? A decent right back would be nice…
BACK THE MANAGER: EtH deserves time and whilst I feel he needs to look beyond the Dutch League/team, the board have to back him all the way. I won’t hold my breath.
Two games in and so much is wrong. I fear a very long and painful season ahead…
As a Manchester United fan, my only scant consolation is remembering, in the midst of Martinez’s struggles, that both Stam and Vidic really struggled when they first arrived, and were derided as a waste of money. So was Pallister.
United vs Liverpool
As a City fan, United vs Liverpool is hardly a fixture that grabs me one way or the other. I see it as a product of Shankly and Busby and proof that barely perceptible differences in the West of Scotland class system can make for big differences in personal style and those personalities created cultures at both clubs that pervade decades after both men’s deaths.
But the one next week is fascinating. Who do I want to win?
On the one hand, the default response is unarguable. I want them to be gubbed mercilessly. To quote the great P J O’Rourke, watching United these days is about as entertaining as watching the entire Mexican air force crash land into a vat of liquid nitrogen. There’s a million words that can be written about the debacle of Brentford but at heart, it is incredibly funny and I have to thank Manchester United for cheering up the nation (and the world) in extremely dark times. For a four hours I wasn’t thinking of Kherson, energy bills, the frying planet or poor Salman Rushdie as City won well and the clown show then came on. I am grateful for that.
I am also aware that a very comfortable Liverpool win is by far the likeliest outcome on account of the fact that they are really good and United aren’t.
But there is a bigger picture. As Brentford fans pointed out via the medium of song, ‘you’re going down with the Fulham.’ – nothing is won or lost in August but dropping points against a second relegation contender would help when we inevitably banjax it against the club in 16th place. Again, I wish Klopp wasn’t so good. He makes things so stressful.
Even a draw would be very helpful in that respect, but if United got that, they would – rightly – see that as huge step in the right direction. Even then, giving them a bit of hope before Southampton and Leicester crush it again would amuse us Blues enormously.
Basically, every result is great. Bring it on.
Conclusions from an interesting weekend…
Well that was an interesting weekend of football so here are some conclusions:
* Arsenal fans shouldn’t get carried away – we’ve put in two decent performances but Arteta’s propensity to name the same starting line up no matter what suggests he will continue to play favourites this season. A tilt at the top four is possible but no more than that. I wasn’t expecting any more than this but it will keep Stewie happy or miserable – not sure which as he seems to love being miserable.
* City have already won the league. They’re tonking teams without Haaland getting on the scoresheet – the league is done.
* The idea that United players CAN’T press is a nonsense. Every team – no matter their level – is being taught this. It’s not that they can’t press, it’s that they can’t be bothered.
* While Tuchel had a point about the performance of the ref, his petulance played into Conte’s hands as his sh*thousing got under TT’s skin and his side took an underserved point – well played Conte, well played.
* Graeme ‘It’s a man’s game’ Souness needs to be retired off. Why is he sat in the studio? He never even played in the Premier League and was a rubbish PL manager. His attempt to wind the clock back after a summer in which England won the Euros was just pathetic.
* I actually agree with stopping dropping the knee but I do I think it should be restored every time someone across the game acts like a numpty and incidents should be directly referenced when players do drop the knee – how about doing it next week with the message that the game is for everyone Mr Souness?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
PS – for some reason people do seem to get away with pulling people’s hair on a football pitch. Wrighty did it to Reggie Blinker on 16.09.1996 when we beat Sheffield Wednesday 4-1. Why do I remember the date? Well, it was not only the day Wright hit a hattrick but it was also the day one Patrick Vieira made his debut. The Reggie Blinker incident won a sports photographer an award but no censure for Mr Wright.
I’ve been burned too many times as an Arsenal fan to get too excited, but like most other gooners at the moment, I’m optimistic about our season ahead.
This is not the same team that started last season at Brentford. Some of the football being played is the best since the days of the invincibles. But we now need to start doing it for 90 mins rather than 30 mins. Also, we still need to be careful defensively especially with our new attacking philosophy.
For the way Arteta wants to play, I firmly believe Zinchenko needs to be starting ahead of Tierney. It’s like having an extra man in midfield. So impressed with him.
This is the year Martinelli explodes. We’ve seen instances of his ‘generational talent’ quality here and there, but he seems a completely different player this year. Stronger and faster, he made Fofana look more sunday league than £90m. Having Jesus by his side has unlocked another gear.
It can be argued that Saka and Odegaard are yet to really shine yet in the first two games. Imagine the football that will be played by the front four once they shake the cobwebs off.
Finally I’ve always been an admirer of Xhaka. For all the abuse and grief he has been given, every single manager he has played for has felt the need to rely on him as a starter. He showed his class as a box to box midfielder at Euro 2020, and I feel as though this season is where he finally receives the plaudits he deserves.
Glazers and their own money
Ok – so the Glazers are getting a total kicking for their part in the decline of Man United, most of the criticism I get – poor recruitment, scattered transfer policies, doing little to bridge fan relationships, allowing OT to rot etc. However I just don’t get the whole “they don’t put their own money into the club”………. bottom line is that they have spent a huge amount of money on players – and as little as a year ago the fan base were happy with their transfer business (Sancho, Varane etc). Surely most top flight clubs only spend money that the club generate? Why do United fans expect the Glazers to spend their own money? What difference would it make to fans where the money comes from? Now I could see where there might be an issue in selling the club in so far as the amount of debt the club is based on and there could be question marks over future sustainability – but the club has still spent more on transfers than 99.9% of teams over the last 5 years – why does it matter that the money isn’t from the pockets of the owners, it STILL more than anybody else.
Wasteful Chelsea? Don’t worry…
P Didi worries about Chelsea profligacy, no need – by about 14:30 next Sunday you’ll be three up, Dan James will have been sent off along with Roca and you’ll be cruising.
After a disappointing failure to close out the game at Southampton Marsch managed to almost say it was his fault (think he said ‘we’ got it wrong) – after being all bold beforehand and saying that it was important to manage the players in the heat and use subs wisely. After the good use of subs v Wolves (who look a bit lost without Coady falling to the ground holding his head after every flipping defensive corner) he didn’t spot how tired Harrison looked and was slow to change things, still early days and compared with last season we have 3 points more than from the same fixtures
Poor from Brentford Second half, looked like they phoned it in the lazy bastards…
Steve from the Gelderd End Leeds
Neville vs Jordan
In recent years I’ve found myself more often than not referring to Gary Neville and Simon Jordan for the most informed football opinions, head and shoulders above any other pundits.
However, when it comes to United they have polarising views and I’m forced to choose between the two. Neville says the club is rotting from the top down, Jordan says they’ve spent a billion pound on players so they’re not that bad owners.
On this occasion, whilst both points are valid I have to agree with Neville. If you continually employ the wrong people in important roles for the club then you are without question culpable. And I’m not necessarily talking about the managers – van gaal, mourinho, moyes, ETH, all very capable managers. But were they backed the way they should have been? From the outside (and thats all anyones view is) the transfer policy seems to be that the manager has specific players in mind, and the suits cant get any of the deals over the line in time (de Jong, Sancho, Ronaldo, Varane etc all signed without a full pre season integration) or they offer them a weak alternative (Rabiot for De Jong, Diallo for Sancho, Fellaini for Fabregas) or they pay extortionate prices that put the player under ridiculous pressure to suceed (Pogba, Maguire, Shaw, Sancho, Fred,Martial – not one of them were worth what we paid).
Spending money is great if its part of the plan but if its constantly being spent on the wrong players at the wrong time for the wrong price this is what you get!!
F365 stance on refereeing
Not a Chelsea or Tottenham fan but the F365 stance on ignoring any valid complaints about referees is baffling.
Points, titles and relegations are potentially being decided on the strength of awful refereeing decisions with seemingly no action from the FA to address the standard of refereeing.
The odd bad decision can pass but last season and already this season it was consistent and had a real impact on both ends of the table.
F365’s stance of hand-waving it away as ‘boring’ is bizarre.
Re conclusion no 3, yes but I think Romero has inherited his shithousery crown.
In general, all the brouhaha around Conte and Tuchels rather awkward audition for Strictly Come Dancing has masked the fact that, as usual, Spurs were found wanting at another “top six” ground (the Ethiad being the normal exception to this). However rather than just passively accept this they went out and fought for the point, which is a marked improvement.
Aidan Boyce, Wexford