Matic for £40m? Xhaka doesn’t look too bad now…

Date published: Tuesday 27th June 2017 11:40

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Not convinced by Nemanja
How is signing the 2nd best holding midfielder of a 2 man holding midfield of the current champions supposed to propel us to overtake them? Matic is average at best. Forget the money, he is nowhere near the quality of player United need to be signing!
 Raunaq (um?), Delhi


Soo…are you telling me United are willing to pay 40 million for a soon to be 29 year old title winning, Champions League experience having player as opposed to paying 50 million for a soon to be 24 year old title winning, Champions League experience having player? The former club of said 29 year old will be replacing him with a soon to be 23 year old title winning, Champions League experience having player for less money than they’re selling him for. Guys, what am I missing?


It was interesting reading the mail from Dave (I think I even convinced myself there, MUFC) about Matic yesterday, I don’t disagree with his assessment of how he would fit into the team and what he would enable our other players to do, but where I do take issue is with the potential price. Paying anything like what Chelsea are supposedly forking out for Bakayoko is just madness. If the story on this very website was accurate, and we are paying £40m for the guy being replaced by a younger, cheaper, arguably better player then it will be a terrible deal. We were teased with stories of Fabinho and Renato Sanches over the weekend, but it sounds like neither of those were ever really in the frame, which is a disappointment in itself.

It just seems that our transfer business is more than a bit farcical these days. We tend to get one signing done pretty early (Lindelof this time, Bailly last year), tricking us fans into thinking we’ll be a bit more efficient but it’s always the same pattern. Every year we get linked with a bunch of unrealistic names – usually Bale, Ronaldo, Neymar – this time it’s Mbappe, Griezmann, and Kane. There’s the usual “primary target”, the identity of whom is regularly argued about in the media, that takes an absolute age to get over the line, and for whom we almost certainly pay over the odds (possibly Morata this year, Pogba last year, Di Maria and Fellaini as well). Then we’ll get consistently linked with a lower-profile player for months on end, being told that it’s virtually a done deal, only for nothing to materialise – this year it’s Perisic, but before it’s been Gaitan, Sneijder, and Strootman. And of course there’s the signing we make because all of our other options turn out to be dead-ends – this year that seems to be Matic.

I don’t understand what the problem is; identify the players, ascertain the asking prices, pay it. Done. Why is that so hard? There’s no point us quibbling over the price; the mere fact that we’re interested bumps the price up, and we always cave in to the demands in the end (when was the last time we got a really good deal on a player?), so we should just cut the nonsense negotiations – which we’re clearly no good at – and pay the money.

Don’t get me wrong, we could still have a pretty good transfer window, I just wish it wasn’t so much like pulling teeth waiting for it to get done. If we get any of our supposed striker targets (Morata, Belotti, Aubameyang) then I’ll be pretty pleased. I could take or leave Perisic to be honest, Matic isn’t my first choice but would be fine (except the price), and I’m pretty happy with Lindelof. If we go into the new season with at least three of those four then I think we’d be capable of achieving a top three finish, knock-out phase of the Champions League, and a cup win – realistic goals, I think, and anything more than that would be a bonus. Just get the bloody transfer business done and dusted before the tour starts for a change!
Ted, Manchester


In response to Dave (I think I even convinced myself there)’s mail yesterday, all I can say is wow – that was a real glass-half full conclusion to draw about Matic.

You are correct sir, Matic did indeed play 35 league games for Chelsea in a season where they won the league. However he also played 33 games for them the season before where they finished 10th, you forgot to mention that. Context is important.

Based on that I don’t know how you come to the conclusion that Kante was the benefactor of Matic’s presence (Kante seemed to do OK without Matic at Leicester the season before). In fact I would say it’s literally the opposite, Matic was made to look like a decent midfielder by the fact that he was playing alongside Kante, especially since according to the wizards at WhoScored Matic’s individual season rating went from 6.98 from the disaster season for Chelsea to a whopping 7.01 in the season where they won the league. A whole 0.03 rating points. Considering his individual improvement was negligible, it’s pretty obvious what drove Chelsea’s progression.

For the 40 mil price rumoured, surely you’d be hoping that that player brings more to the table than a couple of seasons worth of prem experience and being more mobile than Michael Carrick (especially seeing as though Utd hardly lack midfielders who could be described as “being a big, strong s**thouse”).

I referred to context earlier and if you look at the bigger picture of what really drove Chelsea’s improvement, as well as how Matic performed as a lone Defensive Mid in the 15/16 season, I think Utd fans could do worse than to temper their expectations rather than overblow them.
Ben, Oz (who pays 40 mil for a cog anyway?)


So according to The Telegraph, Matic is Mourinhos third choice for a midfield enforcer.

– First choice was Eric Dier.

– Second choice was Radja Nainggolan.

– Third choice is Matic.


Eric Dier is Phil Jones with better hair and +2 passing

Nainggolan is a 29 year old attacking midfielder who had the season of his life last season, previously barely escaping the 6s out of 10 his entire career.

Matic is utterly beige and 29 in August.

As I have previously written in, I think there are 300,000 reasons a week why Rooney leaving United is highly unlikely, and Carrick has been offered a new deal.

That means that we are virtually guaranteed at some point next season to see a United side containing this absolute pile of bilge:

Matic Fellaini Carrick

I honestly don’t have the willpower to watch that parade of the cloggies ruin 90 minutes of my life.

I have always disliked Mourinho, but Christ, at least previously there was a pretense in his teams that football was allowed to be occasionally thrilling, a glinting diamond Hazard or a iridescent rainbow Sneijder to excuse the Sports Direct soulless eficiency around them.

But look at that shower of hearing aid coloured shit.

They could have had Fabinho and Verratti.

F*** me.
Tim Sutton


Worrying about Jose’s defensive fetish
After the bluster of last summer’s transfer market that suggested that Mourinho was going to get Manchester United to play with the kind of swagger that Manchester United fans expect, any lingering doubt about Mourinho’s philosophy must come to an end upon the apparently imminent signing of Matic. If anyone hasn’t been watching Manchester United play, and I know there are many that do not give a singular flying ___ about them, firstly congratulations on time well saved, secondly, it has been pretty clear that Mourinho is the problem and not the players at his disposal.

How anyone can think that Mourinho is the man to take Manchester United forward in the way we expect after seeing a squad that boasted (last summer) the attacking talents of Rashford, Martial, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Pogba, Herrera, Zlatan and Depay (honourable mentions to Rooney and Lingard?) limp to sixth with a pathetic goal haul of 54 goals for is beyond me. A chance conversion rate of 13% places us 17th in that particular league, sandwiched between the esteemed company of Hull (above on 13.1) and a Sunderland that was ‘managed’ by Moyes. I don’t buy into the “Mourinho needs more time” crap. I didn’t buy it for Moyes, I didn’t buy it for LvG and I’m not buying it now. There has been nothing about the style of play over the last season that suggests that Mourinho is going to allow his players to show off their immense attacking talents, express themselves and have fun. A Mourinho team must always think of defensive solidity before players get such ridiculous notions as scoring into their heads.

And so Mourinho buddying up with a pet from Chelsea typifies this approach to me. Mourinho has bought a 28 year old plodder (apparently for £40m…) instead of making a formal approach for Verratti, 24 – actually the kind of player we should be going for (not that he would necessarily come). This isn’t to say that Matic is a bad player. He’s a perfectly decent footballer, clearly. But if champions Chelsea don’t think he’s good enough, then why should we, at a reported cost of £40m when he is at best a stop gap solution. Certainly I don’t think he will add anything to our squad that Schneiderlin didn’t. Except that he is one of Mourinho’s men and fits the Mourinho mould. I’m happy to concede that perhaps Matic just didn’t fit the way Conte is trying to play at Chelsea so perhaps at Manchester United he could thrive, but after Guy S (rightly) got some stern words from other mailboxers, I would suggest that the real threat to Manchester United’s identity is not the selling of our academy prospects, but buying middle aged (in footballing terms) plodders that don’t excite while plodding along to one man’s defensive fetish.
Daniel (wants to just care about outscoring the opponent) Cambridge


A £40million cog!
Imagine its 2016, replace “Matic” with “Drinkwater” in Dave’s email and think how insane his justifications for a  40 MILLION POUND transfer fee is.

Also if you have to spend an extra £40 million to get you £90 million Pogba to work then you probably got ripped off on that one too. Makes the Xhaka deal look a lot less ropey now eh.
James Warren


Reading your Gossip, and I know its gossip, and a load of stirring the pot, but one paper this summer has suggested Arsenal will move on.

Szczesny – Transfer/Loan
Ospina – Transfer
Mertesacker – Free
Debuchy – Free
Chambers – Transfer/Loan
Monreal – Transfer
Gibbs – Transfer
Bellerin – Transfer
Oxlade-Chamberlain – Transfer
Wilshere – Transfer
Sanchez – Transfer
Walcott – Transfer
Giroud – Transfer

Ozil and Ramsey – possible transfer targets for others as contract winding down

Broken down, the Daily Mail has reported on all of these departing, only the final two were ‘suggestions’, the others are all apparently ‘happening’.

So, we as fans are to believe that Arsenal are going to sell both reserve keepers, all three right backs (Bellerin, Oxlade Chamberlain and Debuchy) and utility cover in Chambers.  Also, wave goodbye to both left backs, and 80% of their attackers.

13 players the Mail has confidence in departures out of Arsenal.

i) – when did anyone ever sell that many in a summer
ii) – When did anyone buy that many in a summer into one squad as Arsenal will have to in order to replace them all – I think even Man City in early days of Sven and then Hughes only ever signed 7 x 1st team probables in one pre season.

There’s a challenge to fill your mail box on a flat day, biggest team over-hauls in one summer.
Thom, (We all know you have Conor Byrne’s email address, invite him back for his views on Villa) Newport


De Boer-ing? Not at all
Dear Football365,

A bit of Private Eye-style number crunching:

4 – number of consecutive Eredivisie titles won by Frank de Boer, something no other manager has done.

4 – number of managers to take charge of Crystal Palace after winning a top flight title.  Sort of, you could argue two only count half.

First off, and definitely in, is Arthur Rowe, who was appointed manager of the Glaziers (they were called that back) in the mid-60s, having won the league and cup double with Tottenham Hotspur in 1961 – back then it really was lucky for Spurs when the year ends in one.   Malcolm Allison was Joe Mercer’s very influential assistant manager when Manchester City won the league in 1968, so while he wasn’t a manager, he was closer to being one than a lot of his contemporaries.  Terry Venables won the La Liga (hi pedants) title in between his two spells at Palace, so technically counts, but wouldn’t have been at the club in the late-90s had he not previously managed there 15-20 years earlier.

Finally, we come to de Boer.  There is cautious optimism around the appointment, not least because he is talking of long-term plans when he could just as easily be gone in short order.  However, these plans seem to be based around changing the culture of the club, reinstating the path from academy to first team, and (as Jack Pitt-Brooke for the Independent pointed out) reducing the average age of the club.  There are currently two or three players in the system who are not far from making the step up, but de Boer apparently has a list of players aged between 21-24 on the fringes of bigger clubs who he believes could be persuaded to sign.  This sounds facetious but isn’t, but he’s probably had a good look at a few Chelsea loanees who’ve spent time at Vitesse Arnhem.

It seems like there is plenty of goodwill around this appointment, with people looking for positives – he didn’t last long at Inter but did manage to defeat Juventus, which is not to be sniffed at.  The club deserve praise for being thorough in their search for a new manager, and for breaking the streak of gaffers who attract schadenfreude, but now the real hard work starts, in filling out the squad and getting everyone up to speed with his systems.  I don’t claim to speak for all Palace fans but I think many others are just as interested as me to see how he gets on.
Ed Quoththeraven (sponsor < Frank de Boer < new away shirt)


Frank De Boer wants Palace to play like Ajax?

They already do – both are brilliant at getting to cup finals and losing to United.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


One for the old ravers
As the ever excellent Premier League Hall Of Shame meanders towards it’s natural denouement the Watford strip put me more in mind of the cover of Congress’ 40 Miles. A staple of early 90s raves and illustrative of the rides there and back… My ‘crew’ preferred the Cloudburst Feat. Culture Girl version because of the female singer and excellent piano addition.

I imagine there’ll be literally less than a handful of F365 readers who will know and recognise the track / album cover. Now that’s hipster!?
Gregory Whitehead, LFC

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