McFred is now ‘integral’ at Man Utd, Arsenal, Bale, West Ham and…

Editor F365

Are Fred and Scott McTominay now ‘integral’ to how Man Utd play? Plus, Arsenal decisions, Gareth Bale and West Ham’s bubbles…

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We need to talk about Fred…
Can I be the first to say that Fred is Man Utd’s best player?

Actually he’s not but he is 2 things. Firstly, he is our most improved player who keeps getting better every season – at this rate he’ll be a dead cert for the Ballon d’Or when he’s 40. And secondly, he is our most missed player as the drop-off (6.95 from who scored) is most notable when we have to replace him with Matic (6.59). It is debatable who our best defenders are (although I’ll tell you if you like) but whoever you choose there is not such a mammoth drop off as to when Fred or McTominay (6.96) are not available – I won’t list all our defeneders scores, they are all very close together except the mighty Phil Jones.

McFred has developed from a necessary defensive cover to a leaky back 4 to an integral part of the team that allows our mavericks to perform (or not perform) by linking defence and attack plus still being required to protect our still leakier than should be back 4.

Great win yesterday but how the hell do you manage to conceded 2 goals in a minute to such a poor team? Eternal hope would put that down to the weather, experience though says its utd just showing how far they still have to go.
Jon, Cape Town ()


The same people that said Ole was let down by these players are the same people that expect a manager (only 10 games into his reign) managing in a new league-came in mid season-did not bring in any new faces- coaching the same Judas*-players to win all his winnable premier league games(as if the premier league has many of those gimmes)-all the while- him trying to effect a new style of play and keep a lid on all those dressing room unrest brought about by previous regimes mistakes.

We have suddenly gone from a team that doesn’t have any clue on how to fashion a clear cut chance against bottom half teams to a team that consistently misses the most big chances- We even create “tap in” chances something we only thought was a remit reserved for only City and Liverpool. Being humble has never been a trait I would associate with many of our fans-but atleast not calling him a fraud (@John,Dublin) would be a start for someone who has reminded us that Fred “maybe”/ indeed is a football player from Brazil.
Yusuf,Kampala (Lindelof playing a one-two pass and move to start/create that Fenandes goal assisted by Sancho is my highlight of the season-good signs of our brave new world)


Let’s talk about…Bale…
I saw a replay of Bale’s bicycle kick goal against Liverpool in Champions League final, maybe it was just me who didn’t appreciate it at the time but my word what a goal on the biggest stage.

I think what Bale achieved after leaving Spurs is completely unappreciated. Big goals in big games, won pretty much everything in Spain and not to mention his role in the Welsh national team.

Is there other players out there that left England and achieved as much?
Paul (MUFC) Dublin


Why are West Ham forever blowing bubbles?
I was watching the start of the WHU game the other day and I decided to look into the blowing bubbles thing. It seems so, well, unmanly to me. West Ham fans have a reputation for being East End geezers, yet before each game, they sing this twee, slightly tragic song (then like my dreams, they fade and die) whilst rainbow laden soap bubbles prettily (and apparently ultimately tragically) float on the air.

It seems so utterly out of place.

Yeah, I know, tradition and all that. I mean, Z-Cars, ffs.

So I thought I would get a-Googling, and apparently there are a couple of theories about how it started, but the prevalent one is this:

The song itself originated in early 20th century Broadway show called “The Passing Show”, which I suppose at a stretch could sound like the description of a football match. Anyway, as the story goes, there was a player called Billy Murray who played for the local Park School, and he was nicknamed “Bubbles”, and his headmaster, Cornelius Beal, took to singing the song whenever Murray was having a good game.

So to summarise, the senior teacher at the school that Murray (Bubbles) went to, would sing “I’m forever blowing bubbles” when Murray was playing.

Obviously, if this happened today, the social services would be involved instantly.

Beal was a close friend of the United manager, Charlie Painter, who liked Beal’s use of the song, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Apparently, in 1999, 24000 West Ham fans took out their little bubble bottles and blowers and set a World record for blowing pretty bubbles in the air. That is both brilliant and hilarious.

I love the fact that all these East End geezers sing this dainty, cutesy song. Says a lot about how clubs are so intertwined with their history, even if it does look a little out of place in 2022.

That’s it. Thought it was worth sharing.
Mat (can’t seem to log-on any more. I am being forced to open a new account so probably won’t bother. The Reddit boards will be partying tonight. Their mums might let them stay up late and eat sweets)


Awful Arsenal decisions
Some rare support from an opposition fan for the awful decisions Arsenal seem to get week in and week out.  Minty, LFC points out that perhaps Arsenal player’s aren’t liked by refs or haven’t worked out how to cosy up to them to curry favour.  Sadly that probably isn’t beyond the realms of believability which in itself speaks volumes about the referees in this country.  Of course they are all human and most of us might find it hard to objectively referee a player who is constantly chipping away at us all game, calling us all sorts of names and generally being a right pain in the ar$e.  I can think of past and current players who are like this but even as a partisan Arsenal fan I can’t think of too many of our players who have that chippy nature and would be obviously dislikable. Other’s will point to Xhaka obviously and I think he’s simply judged on past reputation every time he steps on the pitch now, but this Arsenal team is hardly dislikable as people.  Can we imagine Michael Oliver thinking ‘that Martinelli has got right up my nose today, he does this all the time I’ll teach him a lesson’?  I just don’t see that side of it being a factor.  But at least that would be far more excusable for refs than giving favourable decisions to players who give them ‘bantz’ during the game or a signed shirt at the end of the season.

Seeing McTominey stay on the pitch in the Leeds v Man U game showed once again that different players are refereed differently in this league.
On many of these strange Arsenal decisions I’ve seen people fall over themselves to attempt to justify it within the laws of the game, and in most cases you kind of can do that if you really want to because so many of the rules are subjective.  The problem Arsenal fans have with it this season is we seem to have the full weight of the laws thrown at us at every opportunity, no second chances, no benefit of the doubt, no leniency, no final warning – whereas we see all of this more gentle refereeing given to opposition players week in week out.

I’m well aware that all fans will think their team is the most hard done by in the league and the refs are specifically out to get them, and we all probably close our ears to the noise of others because we’re only interested in our own team and we’re certainly not interested in listening to opposition fans grumbling about decisions that might have gone in our favour in a game but I really can’t think of too many where Arsenal’s opponents will say Arsenal got away with one there.  From memory I think Watford complained about a potential block before Smith-Rowe’s goal, Newcastle thought there was some holding at a corner and West Ham will complain about the Coufal red/penalty but Moyes had no complaints on it.  I’m prepared to be bombarded with tales of injustice in games involving Arsenal this season if readers want to unload – but right now it is every single game Arsenal have a very debatable decision not go their way despite plenty of precedent in other games that it was the wrong decision.
Rich, AFC


There’s an analogy management consultants use to demonstrate organisational structure called the five monkeys analogy that I think explains what’s happening with Arsenal.  It explains how historic behaviour continues even though nobody currently involved has any idea why they’re doing it.  Things have always just been done that way.  Look it up if you want, it’s too long to write here.

Arsenal’s problems date back to the birth of the Premier League, David Dein, Arsene Wenger and xenophobia.  Arsenal and David Dein in particular were blamed for breaking away from the old league and creating the Premier League.  Everything that has been said about Arsenal from that point on has to be seen through that lens.  The men who have the power over officiating were once the men who had the power over everything and that’s down to David Dein in their book.  All of English football’s very English woes were put on Arsenal from then.  Too many foreigners?  Wengers fault.  First team to play all foreigners?  Arsenal (it wasn’t, it was Chelsea).  Fancy football, tactics and nutrition?  Bloody French Wenger!  “If God had wanted us to play le football in the le sky, he’d have put le gazon up there”.  But then they hated Brian Clough too.

The Premier League was 30 years old on Sunday, David Dein and Arsene Wenger aren’t with Arsenal any more.  Bloody foreigners are everywhere now.  Every team has data analysts and nutrition experts.  Every team tries to play at least a little football now, even Burnley.  Arsenal are still targets because they always have been and they always will be.  Michael Oliver has no idea why he always looks to shit on Arsenal, he just knows that it’s what you do.
SC, Belfast


I think this has gone on long enough and its time to take off the tinfoil hats. No, Arsenal do not receive unfair treatment from refs. They get the same crappy treatment and poor decisions as the rest of the league.

We are pre-disposed to remember bad things happening to us, it’s a survival mechanism. You will notice, react to, and remember bad things happening to you much more than if they’d happened to others, and definitely more than good things happening to you. Arsenal having a few decisions go against them recently does not mean you are being mistreated, just that you can only see what’s happening to you. We all do it to some degree. I’m still convinced the FA are biased against United because of a decision in 2006! Rooney and Scholes both got 3 game league bans for getting sent off in a pre-season friendly in Amsterdam which is still preposterous to me. However I also recognise that I’m being irrational and that the FA are generally just bad and make lots of mistakes

Anyway, Lukaku needs to play on the right with instruction to run in behind. He has never shown any ability as a target man and he doesn’t have the deftness of touch to be a fulcrum that attacks develop around. Tuchel will have to change formations if he wants the best from him, he needs a strike partner and the freedom to drift right to link up with the full back.
Dave, Manchester

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku puts his thumbs up

Romelu Lukaku
Here’s my take on the “Lukaku situation” as written about by Ian King on Monday afternoon .

Lukaku came into the side that had just won the Champions League and was reportedly earning far more than the rest of the side , at the very same time three Chelsea players were currently negotiating new contracts , club Captain Cezar Azpillicueta , Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen.

We can discount Christensen in this as he’s merely going down the tried and tested “I’ll sign soon ” method of running down his contract so he can move on for big bucks  and to be honest is no great loss .

However ,  Azpillicueta and Rudiger two players absolutely crucial to Chelsea’s Champions League winning campaign are then not given the same treatment as new toy Lukaku and it seems to this day that Chelsea will be losing at least one of them because of it .

I believe this has unsettled the squad when a fool can see the worth of those two players.

Lukaku was doing OK , no more and no less , up until the club fined him for the unauthorised vanity project interview he gave to Sky Italy where he complained about the system and not playing as much as he’d like and wanted to return to Inter.

Imagine the dressing room then when Rudiger and Azpillicueta are denied their worth and Lukaku , on a king’s ransom comes out with that self aggrandising nonsense.

Since he’s been fined , he’s been absolutely awful , beaten in a foot race by centre halves ,  traditonally the slowest members of a team , shrugged off the ball like a twelve-year-old child by Brighton’s Marc Cucurella who looks like he’d be five stone wringing wet and shown himself to have the anticipatory instincts of a brick getting to the ball later than Cinderella on most occasions

Tuchel has , in turn , played him week in and week out , possibly to make the point with the board that if you’re going to sign a marquee player it may be best if the marquee wasn’t his shirt size .

Lukaku , in my humble opinion is not trying , he’s certainly not trying like his hero Didier Drogba tried or Costa or Torres or even Werner tries , he’s doing the littlest amount he possibly can , sulking like an entitled child , he’s Chelsea’s Pogba , strolling through his contract .

Tellingly the one game where he did actually manage to get his enormous frame off the ground to head in a goal was the one time this season that the owner Roman Abramovic was watching , it was still a reasonably turgid display but far improved on what we have become used to.

In my opinion Lukaku has decided Tuchel is the problem and was showing Abramovic what he can do when on his game.

However , you would have to be a complete idiot to back Lukaku over Tuchel and only an idiot would think otherwise and that’s leading us back to Lukaku again.
Mark K


Two negative articles on Lukaku? What would Nick Miller say?

Hard to disagree with either, except that they fail to draw the obvious conclusion – Tuchel should simply drop Lukaku. Chelsea had their one period of playing really well when he was out and Havertz and others played as a false nine with lots more fluidity. At the moment it looks easier to teach Havertz to shoot than it does to reengineer the whole system (which is pretty effective, especially when not missing all the wing backs) to accommodate a player that doesn’t fit well. Lukaku can be a very effective impact sub and/or play when we need to counter attack more. This is something Tuchel needs to add to his armoury – great manager, but both in Paris and now at Chelsea he seems to struggle when it comes to make a tough decision to drop a star player for the good of the team.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, Singapore


Russian money
As I write this, the uk government is rushing to impose sanctions on dirty Russian money and individuals in the uk. These are wide ranging powers.

How long before Roman and his band of Chelsea mercenaries start getting targeted?

I know it’s easy to say “football is different”, but it’s really not you know.

Suspended from the league and CL?

In the spirit of global democracy (and my love of Spurs), I’d have to say I would support that.
Paul, London


I won’t be the only one I’m sure
John, Dublin (spot the simpsons joke….David, Atlanta) I can guarantee that Ralf Rangnick will definitely not face Donny Van de Beek out for revenge!!

(Adopt Scottish accent) More ‘Cannae play that week then Donny Van de Beek’
Coxy (Agree that RR hasnt played anyone of note but not much he can about that)


Why you should be watching the EFL
Oxford won 4-0. So did Bolton. Wycombe and Cheltenham re-enacted the final fight from creed and decided defending is for the weak. I was listening to the Wycombe game, went to the toilet, came back and 3 goals had been scored.

Maybe go watch your local team every once in a while. I don’t think you’ll regret it.


To Mihir…
…well, obviously!! Duh.

Still, if it gives you comfort….hopefully, they’ll have the lovely, consoling arm round the shoulder for you, come the end of the season…

Just trying to help
Levenshulme Blue, Manchester19

PS. BTW, I thought I could let this go but I can’t. It’s still hard to reconcile the scale of the Spuds cheating on Saturday.

Lads, if your laces are so continually coming loose, literally just before you take a free kick, wear boots with Velcro, instead.

If you’re unable to decide who to kick the ball to from a dead ball situation, move out of the way and allow the player who was always going to take the kick in the first place, eventually, to do so.

If you are sooooo much in pain, try moving off the pitch to allow your medical team to treat you because you must have been in absolute agony, otherwise.

Try to move about a bit more, when the keeper is waiting to take a kick because it’s not nice that it’s your fault that he gets the yellow when he’s timewasting.

When diving again and again, just think of the ref developing repetitive strain injury on the wrist, gesturing for you to get up. There’s only so many times he can do that, during a match before inflammation will set in.

When your manager ignores the players rolling about in such agony, to bring on a substitute who is not replacing you because your manager knows you are not injured, think of the kit man, having to work so much harder, washing those shirts.

Harry, when feigning injury, just think of those poor souls who don’t watch you that often, they MIGHT be worried that you really are hurt…?

Honestly, it’s time to put down the Wolves and Everton Handbook on How To Waste Time During a Football Match, it really is.

Sage advice from Levenshulme Blue, huh?