Mikel Arteta and his ‘sackable offence’ in the Mailbox

Matt Stead

Is time up for Mikel Arteta? He dominates a Mailbox that also takes in Man United. Send mails to theeditor@football365.com


Ba dum tish
Well, at least we’ve got the Mickey Mouse trophy off our plates and can now focus on a title challenge.
Jay (AFC. Tier 4)


Arteta out
I’ve tried to be supportive of Arteta. He is the coach of a club that has been appallingly run for over a decade and deserves relegation. He has shown some positive signs and has made a few mistakes.

But he bought that keeper. And he played that keeper. From the first minute of Europa League that he played he looked like a 15-year-old that had won a competition.

He is comfortably the worst player I’ve ever seen in an Arsenal shirt. And we’ve had a few.

And yet Arteta picked him for city in the quarters. That is a sackable offence. Got to go.


…There are three managers currently being grouped together and comparisons always being made. I personally don’t think that should be the case, all three are facing very different set of circumstances. The three managers in question are Mikel Arteta, Ole Gunner Solskjaer, and Frank Lampard. I get the comparison, they are three individuals promoted above their rank. The truth however is, they are all facing very different sets of challenges.

Frank Lampard for example has been heavily backed, overly backed, the fact that his team is ticking along nicely, means expectations are being met, and there is no reason to back out from the experiment. He should however launch a serious challenge this year or next. Ole was clearly not backed, but is also achieving, so there in really no need to fire him when he is over achieving, considering the disaster that backroom staff if.

Mikel Arteta however, is under achieving. I don’t care how you slice and does it, but Arsenal are floundering. They are in free fall and beating Ole shouldn’t be a reason to keep a job. I think he lacks the command the likes of Solskjaer and Lampard can command from a dressing room. Another sign is, at the close of the window, Arsenal fans were happier than Man U fans. I don’t know if they have had a tough schedule, but I don’t think they expected to be 15th. Based on results alone, Arteta should not be managing Arsenal anymore, and somebody needs to be fired at Man U, because if Chelsea and Arsenal can pull of the signings they want, and your team can’t, somebody needs firing.
Dave (Was Arteta a good player, wasn’t he the one that took a pay cut to join Arsenal?), Somewhere


Foden, though…
I won’t talk much about Arsenal. We are terrible and besides AMN and Gabriel, when your three best players are Martinelli (45 minutes), Emile Smith-Rowe (25 minutes) and Balogun (13 minutes) in a match, you have to worry. The worry is that Arteta can’t see this, he can’t see the massive improvement your team gets when young hungry players drive some impetus into a squad rather than Willian, Xhaka, El Neny, Ceballos, Mustafi, Kola all struggling to put two passes together week in week out. Infuriating.

What I wanted to talk about was Foden. What a player he is, he has the best technical ability of any current England prospect by a mile, he has phenomenal ball control, vision, passing range. He can shoot, he has pace, he can dribble and I’m pretty sure I saw him pressing and tackling. He is an all round midfielder and is easily one of the best midfield prospects in the world right now.

Which begs the question, why doesn’t he start more? City have been struggling in the final third (for them at least) while the defense is solid. Five starts in the Premier League for someone who I think should be a starter for any of the top teams in the Premier League seems strange to me. Does he have fitness issues? Is Pep being careful with his career? I don’t understand when Gundogan, Silva and even De Bruyne aren’t tearing up any trees why he can’t be getting a consistent run of games.

I’m not going to go down the road of he should move, because who better to learn from than De Bruyne, I just want to see more of him so he can finally bring some technical class to our rather stale midfield.
Rob A (Foden, AMN, Saka, Rice, Bellingham, Sancho, Mount, Grealish, Reece James, Greenwood, Rashford, Hudson-Odoi, Tomori, our future is very bright) AFC


Man United: The reality
Why don’t you wake up and smell the sh*t that you’re shovelling? Utd will not suffer a colossal fall.

Beating a promoted side 6-2 can never be a reason to suggest a title challenge. Villa beat Liverpool 7-2 and no-one suggested they would be in the mix…oh wait, scratch that, the media probably did suggest another ‘Leicester’.

Utd are going in the right direction in the table thanks to a good run while other early pace setters fall away. Liverpool are clearly head and shoulders above the rest even with some key injuries. City have recovered somewhat but last season seemed to buckle under the pressure of having to chase, unlike Liverpool the season before, even though they did fall just short. I think this season is a big test for Pep and his reputation to see if they can mount a challenge.

Man Utd seem to be much closer than they were last season and it shows in a better squad depth, competition for places, more confidence and better, quicker incisive passing. And they seem to be cheating by having one player contribute a lot of goals and assists – why don’t other teams do that to? (they do – really?) For me, Fernandes is not only a fantastic player, he is also the type that improves those around him – maybe that’s cheating too but I’ll take it. Are they heading for a massive fall? No, they are going to have little setbacks every time they lose which is inevitable as they are not the finished article. The media will interpret the next loss, very likely at home to a team the media decided we should brush aside, as a massive fall. If you want to believe the media that goes from week to week yo-yo-ing from contenders to mid-table dross then that’s your problem and you either don’t watch the team with your own eyes (i guess I’m lucky being in SA that we get all the games on TV without having to sell a kidney) or you’re a “neutral” making conclusions based on a media article or highlights just to bait the dumbest fans into a reaction.

Man Utd are much improved but when you watch Liverpool play well and see how fluently they can play, how they can dominate the opposition, how many leaders they have on the pitch it is clear to see Utd still have lots of work to do.

I think we’re close to City (partly as they have gone backwards a bit) and might give them a run for second but can’t see Liverpool not winning. As much as I would “love it, love it” for Liverpool to drop a shit-load of points to give us a chance, it is more likely that they’ll get better as their players return from injury while the chasing pack take points off each other in the fight fot champions league places. Unfortunately, there’s more chance of Utd suffering another drubbing like the one Spurs dished out to us than of us pushing Liverpool close.

Klopp turned Liverpool into a title winning side relatively quickly and even the best football manager ever, SAF, took longer than Klopp to win his first Utd title. Give Ole a chance, whether he gets there or not, he’s definitely getting us closer and letting us enjoy the ride. Get real people.
Jon, Cape Town (Actually on the farm in the Free State on the Lesotho border for Christmas soaking up the sun and the beer, thanks for asking)


Why are you p***ing on our chips?
All those Liverpool fans writing in about how United fans should not get their hopes up about winning the title, who exactly hurt you? Oh that’s right. It’s the decades you spent looking at our titles with tears in your eyes.

But seriously though, why do you guys have to be such party poppers? It’s been almost a decade now since we had a team that was fun to watch and still in contention for the title circa Christmas. Sure, there’s not much between at least eight sides in the table and Liverpool may well push past second gear and walk away with the title.

This United team is still a work in progress and the jury is still out on whether Ole is a good enough manager for a team with title aspirations. We have major weaknesses at centre back, Central midfield and possibly right wing but hey, the season’s not been half bad. On the annual league table, United are only third behind Liverpool and City and sure this team has all the potential to crash and burn. But isn’t this rollercoaster exactly what sports is about?

My advice: Take a chill pill. Supporting a sports team is not really the most rational habit nor is it supposed to be. So let others enjoy how they want and stop telling others what emotions they should be feeling. Cheers!
Abeel Abid


Bruno: Not yet
I have to take exception with Bruno Fernandes being named United’s greatest ever January transfer in your list earlier today. There’s likely a bit of recency bias with that pick, but to be honest, he’s still not quite earned that tag (at least for me).

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Bruno. In less than a year, he’s already arguably the club’s best post-Fergie signing, and captain in all but name. The impact he’s had on this team has been utterly incredible, and the stats are frankly ridiculous. But I would still have to put both Evra and Vidic above him as things stand. Those two came in for a relative pittance each, and after initial struggles, established themselves as mainstays in one of the stingiest backlines in Europe. And they went on to win pretty much everything over their United careers.

Of course, Bruno still has time on his side. And the rate he’s going, he’ll likely pip either one or both of Vida and Evra to top my personal list. I just hope there’s some silverware along the way as well, cause god knows the man deserves it.
DJ, MUFC India


Three or four more
United were the top performing team over the last 14 games of last season. I hoped they would carry on where they left off this season but sadly they reverted back to their inconsistent ways.

However, last Christmas we were a mile away from the leaders. With a game in hand, we are just 5 points behind Liverpool. I don’t think we will win the Premiership this time as Liverpool still look exceptional but we will end up in the top three.

We will challenge with three or four more quality players.

It would certainly help us if Mr Woodward handed over negotiations and scouting to a Director of Football who knows the game.



Big Sham
To answer Ed Quoththeraven’s question from yesterday afternoon’s mailbox about recruitment from a Newcastle perspective it was…let’s go with poor. He went full on ‘Mark Hughes at QPR’ and tried to sign as many big names as possible, regardless of current ability or consideration of how they’d fit into the team.

Mark Viduka (relegated), Alan Smith (relegated), Joey Barton (relegated), Habib Beye (relegated), Caçapa (one of our worst ever players) & Geremi (legs had gone before signing) were all released on free transfers. Only two of his signings, David Rozehnal & Jose Enrique, actually recouped transfer fees with only Jose Enrique and Joey Barton contributing on the pitch. Add in giving 4 points to that 11 point Derby team and he wasn’t as harshly treated as history would lead you to believe.

Moving on to TX Bill’s excellent mail, amen brother. Newcastle, West Ham and Everton all have in common this misconception that our clubs should have kept Allardyce and we should be “careful what we wish for”. I’ve typically found this as rank hypocrisy, given that it usually comes from fans of big 6 sides who feel Allardyce deserved a job at a big club, with the obvious caveat that it not be their club. So my question goes out to the mailbox: fans of Champions League clubs, would you have ever accepted Allardyce as your manager? And does anyone believe he would have performed any better than Hodgson at Liverpool or Moyes at Man Utd if he ever did get a top, top job?
Kevin, Nottingham


F**k Rodgers
Your top 10 managers? Are you serious? 1 and 2 complete agreement. However – Where’s Brendan Rogers?! He should be 3rd! How is Ole ahead of him? Nuno!?? What!!

For that matter – Lampard, Mourinho and Guardiola should be nowhere near him?! Leicester are second for God’s sake. Leicester are flying in Europe. Leicester’s budget compared to others.

I can only presume this is a mistake? It was weird enough you made Brendan Rogers the highest loser for last season after Leicester (LEICESTER) finished 5th but they are second now. Can you rewrite the article now I’ve pointed out you have forgotten him please?



(Sorry but Leicester were tenth in a 2020 table. Not good enough – Ed)