Thank you for your Ole mails. Now watch some football and send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lies, damned lies and statistics
I reckon Sam Hobbiton was fishing very purposefully with that mail this morning. To be fair, he used some excellent bait, and I doubt I’ll be the only one to bite, but here goes:
First of all, no *reasonable* United fan is expecting a title challenge next season. Most of us recognise that the squad is still young, and that the club is still very much in a transitional phase. The next step should be getting into the top four a bit more comfortably, coupled with a decent cup run or two (and maybe even winning one). Given time, the hope (dream, rather) is that Solskjaer lead the club to a league title. He very well may not, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Secondly, if you’re going to talk about each manager’s record in the league, leaving out the stats from Solskjaer’s time as caretaker-manager is disingenuous to say the least. I haven’t done the math, but I would imagine his PPG would improve dramatically. It’s very convenient to be selective about stats to prop up your argument, and it’s not like those games aren’t relevant to his overall tenure at the club.
Lastly, if fans aren’t allowed to be excited about their team finally looking better, and playing better football than they’ve seen in years, maybe we should all just pack it in. It could easily all end in tears, but for now, I actively look forward to watching United games again, and I’m going to enjoy that feeling while it lasts.
DJ, MUFC India
…Well Sam, I love how you’ve cherry-picked Ole’s record. Why not expand it to span his entire tenure? Perhaps you don’t like the fact that he’s now third (all-time) in win % for United managers? Why not then compare his record to ‘Jose’s record after his second season’ or ‘LvG’s record in his second season’? Just compare his record as manager with the rest. Simple as.
Then too, you conveniently overlook the ‘small’ matter that David Moyes took over the reigning champions who had a serene dressing room, while Ole took over a mutinous dressing room that had a number of mercenaries as well as players who had just had enough of The Toxic One and wanted out. It had deadwood accumulated over years of mismanagement by the aforesaid LvG and Jose. So much deadwood that despite the fire sale last summer, the coming window could see at least six more sold – while still holding on to a couple of dead weights to “make up the numbers”.
Ole has had a salutary effect on not just style of play, but the culture of the club. Our purchases have been excellent, the dressing room is finally united and the players are far fitter. Remember the running stats from Jose’s time in charge? Look at them now. Are United the finished article? Nope. But for the first time since Fergie left, the squad and first team (particularly) are in better shape today than they were when the manager took over. You can’t say that for any of Ole’s predecessors. Moyes left us in worse shape within months, LvG worsened things and then Jose set alight what was left of the house.
Ole will certainly finish higher up the table than David Moyes managed. Indeed, he’s likely to finish in the CL spots and higher than all barring one or maximum two seasons in the post-Ferguson era.
That’s the issue with cherry-picking your points – anyone with more than a rudimentary knowledge of events can just pick the argument apart!
…Do you think you kind ladies and gents at F365 could ask Sam Hobbiton to rewrite his email with the correct stats from Solskjaer’s managerial time in charge at Man United, rather than doctored, selective ones? I’m sure he’ll be embarrassed by such a mistake and will rectify it urgently.
What’s that? Sam refuses to use correct stats and figures? Well, Solskjaer’s points per match as Manchester United manager actually come in at 1.88, well above both Moyes and LvG.
Now, I’ll also do the decent thing and point out to Sam that stats don’t actually tell the whole story (he’s obviously not aware), and ignore quite important things like, the team actually improving. I’m not saying we’ll win the league next season, but only looking at average stats (false ones at that, tut tut Sam) really don’t take in to account a team getting better which really makes them quite useless.
…Ah Sam. Comparisons without context. A lot of solid reasons there that Ole is crap alright. You cannot just brush off the fact Moyes took over a winning team albeit that brought different challenges. Ole took over a team where morale had plummeted and the make up of the squad was unbalanced. Also the two squads in general were completely different. Not that I’m comparing them but sure didn’t Klopp and Rogers have a similar record after a certain number of games in charge.
Spent more than Moyes was ever allowed?! He has been backed the same way all United managers have been backed. Moyes broke his back trying to sign the same players over and over again – Fabregas, Kroos, Bale etc – and ended up with Fellaini. He was just not good at it. LVG was backed and bought Schneiderlin, Di Maria, Shaw, Herrera and Depay for fairly big money. Mourinho got backed to buy Bailly, Lindelof, Pogba, Lukaku and close the Sanchez deal.
Now Ole is hardly the high profile manager you’d expect at a club like United and he is 100% learning as he goes along (not ideal) but who is out there at the minute that is both available and willing to join the club. People talked about Pochettino but he would be another gamble. Won nothing either.
Personally, as a United fan, I’d rather look at the positive upturn in fortunes of late – the unbeaten run and the fact they are still in the hunt for FA Cup, Europa League and top four. And yes the fact they are playing some bit of attractive football is a welcome tonic. The chasm between United and Liverpool is embarrassing but hopefully this consistency can be maintained into next year, the squad strengthened and turn draws into wins to enable the team to be, at the least, a consistent threat.
Now I think about it, you mentioned Kevin Keegan who hasn’t been entertaining for nearly 25 years, so this could have been a wind up.
Let’s look at Klopp’s numbers
Sam Hobbington threw about some interesting stats in the mailbox earlier, hilariously comparing Ole’s points per game (1.75) to Davy Moyes’s (1.73). Now, ignoring the fact that Moyes managed 25% fewer games, I thought it would be interesting to see how Ole stacks up against the current Premier League winning manager – lovely, smiley faced (unless he doesn’t like your interview question or a refereeing decision) Jurgen Norbert Klopp.
So taking Jurgen’s first 64 games in charge of Liverpool (to make a fair comparison Sam), the record is 32 wins, 18 draws, 14 losses; giving a points per game of 1.78. So only slightly more than Ole and Moyes, but below LVG and Jose.
Basically, according to Sam’s logic, if Utd fans start talking title challenges and ‘next year is our year’, things may seem as good as you think.
Garey (DM football genius) Vance, MUFC
…Sam has done something no one has done before; he has made me simultaneously defend Manchester United and agree with Liverpool fans.
You can throw all the stats you want around, but as the Liverpool fans will tell you, there was a time when Klopp’s record didn’t compare very favourably to Rodgers’. There are caveats for and against all four managers in question, but the only question that needed to be asked of Klopp back then and of OGS now is: is progress being made?
Progress comes in many different forms. Firstly is the quality of the squad being improved? Fernandes alone answers that question.
Is the team playing better? Across the season a bit, yes. Since the restart, Southampton notwithstanding, definitely ‘yes’.
Is the team position improving? While it’s not over yet, it’s almost certainly going to be improved, with or without a Champions League spot.
OGS may still come up short (and hopefully he does), but the team is on the ascendancy and that’s all any team needs and most importantly something that never occurred under Moyes.
Big D, Luxembourg
Record after 56 Premier League games:
Jurgen Klopp: Won 27, Drawn 16 Lost 13 Pts 97
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Won 28, Drawn 15, Lost 13 Pts 99
Title winners 22/23: Manchester United?
— Football365 (@F365) July 15, 2020
Chelsea v Norwich thoughts
Thought I would have a rest from dropping in a mail straight after a Chelsea game had concluded, but was surprised not to see a single reaction to the game last night, not one.
Well I did watch the whole 90 minutes and all I came away thinking was ‘a win is a win’, which was exactly what it was, it was not a great game, it didn’t have an incredible goal, a tremendous piece of skill or even a controversial VAR decision, how boring right? But what it did have was Chelsea grind out a victory in a must win game, two games remain and they are of course Liverpool and Wolves, how those will go is anyone’s guess, but I am looking forward to the return of the FA Cup this weekend and also keeping one eye on the Burnley v Wolves match tonight.
Back to the Chelsea v Norwich game, I will keep my thoughts brief and to the point, positives and negatives from the game, let’s go!
– Christian Pulisic looked as sharp as ever, certainly living up to the price tag so far, just hope we do not start putting too much pressure on him to be like Eden Hazard
– Olivier Giroud right now is our first-choice striker, who would have guessed that at the start of the year when it looked like he was off to the Serie A?
– We got a clean sheet, an actual clean sheet.
– We were very slow in terms of build-up play, Jorginho certainly did not look like the player we know he can be in that regista role.
– Zouma and Rudiger as a partnership did not fill me with confidence at all, they looked a bit uncomfortable when on the ball too.
– Low-quality game for the neutral fan, you would have been better off watching Holby City or Amazing Hotels on one of the BBC channels instead.
Mikey, CFC (Todd Cantwell has incredible hair)
Norwich and the alternative stability route
Interesting read by Seb this morning regarding Norwich. When talking about the routes to the promised land Seb mentioned the Norwich way of surrendering and the QPR way of spending.
Those are two extreme ends if the scale and I think that Seb missed a vital one that in the last decade has saw some unfashionable clubs reach Europe then when they have strayed away from these principles back down the division they drop. The stability route.
Swansea City, Stoke City and Burnley.
Swansea and Stoke, whilst be dissimilar in style, they shared many parallels, first time (?) In the top division, didn’t have bucket loads of money to spend, had one particular style of football to play that was echoed throughout the club. Swansea were known for their possession brand of football, Stoke City were long ball merchants but they were good at it.
Those two clubs, during their successful periods, had everyone pulling in the same direction. Once they steered away from that shit hit the fan.
Burnley have done all of the above but they stuck with those principles. Burnley are better than ever.
You can invest all you want or you can surrender on arrival or alternatively, you can stick with what go you there and improve on that particular recipe.
Leeds United will continue the trend next season.
Salary cap anyone?
One would not usually think to look to America for a semi-socialist model of running top level sport – but I think the success of the salary cap in American Football can be instructive here in this whole FFP debate. The main reason for the salary cap is to keep it competitive and give all the teams a realistic chance of being contenders – they know it’s good for the product overall. And indeed if you look at the variety of teams who have appeared in or won the Super Bowl over the past 20 years you will see that it works (the outlier being The Patriots due to legendary coach Bill Belichick / read Alex Ferguson).
Another interesting side effect is that you see teams having to trade their best players at times to keep within the salary cap – players agitate for a transfer if they are not getting paid. Imagine City having to choose between De Bruyne and Aguero; imagine Liverpool having to choose between Salah and Mane! The outcome is that top players are sometimes traded to very lowly teams – superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr (worth a look at his skills on youtube!) was traded from New York Giants to the very lowly Cleveland Browns – it would be the equivalent to Sergio Aguero going to Bournemouth (no offence like!) for example – how much fun would that be??!
One suggestion is that FFP was envisaged to keep upstarts like Chelsea or Man City from getting a seat at the top table – agreeing a salary cap applicable to all won’t stop that from happening. In fact there would be less of a gap to the top 4 / top 6 and gap would be easier to bridge by smaller teams – good management and youth development would play a bigger part as nobody would be able to buy their way out of trouble.
Not from a football manager
Sometimes I wonder if I could have made it as a football manager. I’ve taken Sutton United to the Champions League Final in two seasons on multiple versions of FM like everyone else has. I’ve shouted at the TV as a manager has either made a stupid sub or refused to make the obvious sub. I’ve loudly argued about how to deal with locker room lawyers or spoiled young players who don’t know how good they have it.
Today I’ve finally realised why I’m not an elite manager though. It isn’t my crippling lack of knowledge, experience or expertise. It isn’t because I didn’t catch a lucky break when I managed the local Under 10s.
It’s because if I was in the position of Pep Guardiola tonight, I’d look at the league table, look at the upcoming fixtures and immediately decide that tonight Bournemouth were going to win because it would piss off Moyes, Sullivan and Gold.
Not Pep. Probably.