How can Solskjaer prefer Fred to Van de Beek?

Date published: Thursday 11th February 2021 2:15 - Sarah Winterburn

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Fred the Red is the issue here
A few seasons ago Pep referred to Tottenham as ‘the Harry Kane team’ which really pissed Poch off, and was probably unfair. United are ‘the Bruno Fernandes team’ and there is no question about that. This is evident because when Bruno isn’t around, things don’t really work in the opposition half. What he does is run around the pitch, get the ball from whoever has it, and forces things. It’s also why he gives the ball away as much as he does. Now Ole has decided that when he rests Bruno he’s going to play Donny in that role, but it’s quite obvious he doesn’t fit there. Whereas Bruno likes to go looking for the ball, Donny prefers to find space, receive and pop it off quickly. It’s why he’s looked best when playing with Mata.

This isn’t a defence for Donny, he really hasn’t been very good, but to place the entire creative burden of a team with inconsistent attackers on him is very harsh. Even at Ajax, Ziyech (who we undoubtedly haven’t seen the best of either) and Tadic were the main creative forces. Donny has to play with Bruno, not instead of him. It doesn’t help that behind him is Matic, who when he’s good looks brilliant, but when he’s bad, reminds me of Lurch from Addam’s Family, wandering around the pitch gormlessly, and more importantly, Fred. F**king Fred man.

I don’t understand how Fred consistently gets by without any/much criticism. He is to me, the worst player in the first 11, and that is some feat when you have De Gea, and those two clowns at CB playing every game. What does he actually do, apart from run around a lot and occasionally recover the ball? He can’t pass, he can’t shoot, he can’t beat the press, he always leaves his man free in the box, he regularly kills our attacks by playing the ball back to the defence when we’re literally camped on the edge of the opposition box, he can’t use his right foot, and most importantly, he is so so so stupid. Every time he’s chasing an opposition attacker my heart is in my mouth because he’s so likely to give away free kicks/pens in dangerous areas. Honestly, watch him, he’s not quick enough so he usually sticks out a leg or clips a heel, puts his hands up in the air like he hasn’t done anything, when it’s quite clearly a foul.

I thought after his idiocy cost us against PSG, we wouldn’t see him as often, but somehow he’s fooled everyone into believing he’s some form of defensive midfielder, when he doesn’t protect the defence or contribute to the attack. Yet Ole keeps picking him. Now I love Ole, and I want to see him succeed more than anything, because he’s one of your own. But, based on how he sets out the team in every big game (and even cup ties at home to West Ham), he’s only making it harder for himself by playing Fred all the time. He looks ok when he plays with Pogba, because like Bruno, Pogba is the only other United midfielder opposition teams worry about. McTominay is starting to cause problems for opposition defences as well, but never when he’s playing so deep, because once again, not a defensive midfielder.

So what is the solution? Would playing Donny in the double-pivot help him and the team? I’d say so, considering he’s so tidy with the ball, can beat the press, can play quick one-twos, and most of all he’s intelligent. Will Ole do this? Of course not. He has his core of trusted players, and United are a team not tactically well drilled, or defensively organised enough to for him to feel comfortable experimenting. We’ve also (largely because of Bruno and Rashford) somehow found ourselves second in the league, so there is even more pressure for the team not to slip away and regress, and he’s playing it safe. This system sort of works, so he sticks with it.

Bruno mentioned something quite funny a couple of weeks ago when asked about practicing free kicks. He said him, Shaw and Telles stay back after training to work on them, and Fred sticks around for fun. Even the players don’t take him seriously, so why should we?
IP (Should’ve signed Partey when we had the chance)


Maybe lay off Klopp now…
Given what we know now about Jurgen Klopp, and what he has been going through in his personal life of late, and the absolute heartbreaking news that his mother passed away, and even worse being that he couldn’t attend his mother’s funeral on Tuesday, maybe it’s time to ease up on all the ‘meltdown’ and ‘mask slipping’ patter.

We often forget that people in sport are humans and that they have a life outside of sport. Dips in form or behaviour don’t always have to be sport related. I remember in Steven Gerrard’s autobiography he spoke of the criticism he faced when his form dipped, yet unbeknown to fans, his parents were going through a messy divorce. There’s not doubts been lots of similar stories.

Klopp’s behaviour in the interview after the City game was labelled “embarrassing” and it was discussed if ‘the mask was slipping’ from rent-a-gob cretin Craig Burley, as if alluding to Klopp’s personality being an act. There’s another interview after that game were Klopp says it’s a “tough time for everyone” but there he is telling the team and fans to believe. When you know what you know now it’s heartbreaking to see, and I’m sure he wasn’t just talking about football.

My Dad went into hospital during all this Covid stuff. I thought I might never see him again in the flesh. Thankfully he got out after a week, but my head was in tatters at work until then. I felt absolutely helpless. To think Klopp was going through worse but also having to go in and lift the spirits of his out of form team. Makes me have even more admiration for the man. I couldn’t do it.

People not being able to say goodbye to loved ones really is one of the worst things about this pandemic. It’s easy to forget all these “highly paid” people in football are going through all this crap too, and it’s all a hell of a lot more important than football.
Vinnie Brownlow, LFC, Glasgow


Pundits need to be gentler
I’d like to briefly talk about the unnecessary pressure that pundits – especially ex-players – are piling on to players for mistakes being made in games.

Under normal circumstances, it is fine to pan players for stupid mistakes – it’s what pundits do to justify their expert opinions.

But nobody makes mistakes on purpose – and right now – there is nothing normal about life, and people should not be being lambasted for errors in games.

You have the likes of Ferdinand and Keane who feel personal attacks are warranted against players. These are the same people who would cry when they were subjected to criticism and seem to have forgotten that now.

Mental health is paramount the world over right now, and the pressure on footballers is immense as football is one of the only things that is keeping us going right now.

There needs to be more responsibility in the media for how players are treated by pundits and commentators.
Dougie, a concerned football fan


How to fix Liverpool
In case anyone missed it, let me quickly summarize A believer not a doubter’s mail from the mailbox earlier today.

Fixing Liverpool:

1. Play in CB the 2 CBs they just signed.

2. Ignore Thiago when he’s on the pitch and Liverpool need a goal. But play him regardless and have him keep the ball when they do score.

3. Play Ox, making it Ox, Thiago, Fabinho and Henderson in midfield (as per point 3, Thiago, Fabinho and Henderson are already on the pitch)

4. Play backup fullbacks despite the regular fullbacks being their primary creative options

5. Stop trying to score goals and just score goals (duh)

6. Salah is a Liverpool legend and their most consistent player. So, sell him quickly.
MM, Man United, India (Because football management is that easy.)


Whataboutery to the max
Great point by Mick, Cardiff comparing a once off game that Carrick and Fletcher played to Liverpool using 12 different CB partnerships in 23 league games. Really comparing like with like there.

And yes, Liverpool conceded 7 v Villa and 3 v Leeds but also kept a clean sheet away at Chelsea and conceded 1 unlucky goal at home to Arsenal. Not to mention seasons 18/19 & 19/20 when Liverpool had the best defensive record in the league. 76 league games over 2 seasons (as well as the best defensive record in the CL in 2019) but lets ignore that and use a sample size of two games which were freaks.

Utd conceded 6 v Southampton and 5 v Newcastle in 1996 in the space of 1 week…Schmeichel must be useless so?

Man City conceded 5 at home to Leicester earlier this season with a back 4 of Walker, Garcia, Ake and Mendy.
When they lost to Spurs and went 11th the back 4 was Walker, Laporte, Dias and Zinchenko.
The back 4 last Sunday v Liverpool was Cancelo, Dias, Stones, Zinchenko.
Almost as if it takes a while-even with your best defenders-to find the right blend.
Where would City be with Foden and Gundogan at centre back?
Plenty wrote off Pep after the Spurs game but he came back, with the help of having fully fit defenders.

You also bring up the fact they conceded 4 at the Etihad last season with a full strength defence (when Liverpool were already champions).
No mention of Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Anfield last season?
Or the 1-1 at the Etihad just last November when-in both games-they had actual first choice centre backs playing.
Or the 3-0 at Anfield in the CL.
Or the 2-1 second leg win in the same competition.
Pure coincidence I’m sure.
Ferg, Cork


…The fact you had to go back to the 2009/10 season illustrates how rare losing all your CBs is.

But TWO GAMES! How ever did poor Man United cope. Give your head a wobble if you think that’s a comparison.

Vidic was even back the game after Fulham. And I think you’re conflating two different seasons as Park didn’t even play in the 2009/10 3-0 loss at Craven Cottage but did in the 2008/09 2-0 loss when Ferdinand, Evra and O’Shea were in defence with him – Soccerbase is a wonderful thing!

In 2009/10 Rio made 26 appearances that season and Vidic 33 so having one or both missing was hardly the regular occurrence you claim. Van Dijk has made 6 and Gomez 11 for the Reds this season.

Off course teams are going to have the odd game with players missing in the same position – the key bit here are 3 season-ending injuries.

As comparisons go it’s like going up to someone who has had their arm bitten off by a shark and showing them your paper cut.
Jo (bored talking about this now so however ‘clever’ the comeback I won’t bite) Kent


Oh and about the money…
Dear Levenshulme Blue. This € is a Euro symbol and was used extensively in my email. It denotes the unit of currency utilised by 19 countries in Europe and, crucially, by the popular website Transfermartkt which is where I got the figures from. Hope that helps.

My point (which I thought was fairly robust) was to counter that of Dave Manchester who sought to imply that Liverpool were in the same spending arena (and maybe on a higher level) as City because Liverpool spent a lot of money twice. To reiterate, City have spent over €50m (50,000,000 Euros) on 12 players (11 of whom are still at the club, not that that has any bearing on the point) whilst Liverpool have spent over €50m (50,000,000 Euros) on 3 players. That seems to me to indicate that Liverpool aren’t on the same spending level as City. Feel free to explain where I’ve gone wrong.

The point about the subs bench was, again, pretty obvious. That City can boast a bench containing €217m (are we good with how these figures are presented now?) of talent is surely indicative of a team that can better cope with a raft of injuries than one with a subs bench containing €78m of talent.

Again, Dave Manchester was trying to imply that Liverpool spent as much if not more than City on players and therefore couldn’t possibly use injuries as an excuse for a less than stellar performance. I simply brought the facts to the table.

Do you know what’s Trumpian mate? Claiming ‘FAKE NEWS’ whenever anyone brings up some inconvenient truths that don’t fit your worldview.
James Outram, Wirral

P.S. How are we gonna fund our future title charges? Dunno, maybe John Henry can ask the Boston Red Sox to sponsor a training pitch for £400m (400,000,000 pounds)


Suspend football until fans can return
I make this statement because I believe it is lingering at the back of the mind of everyone in football – from the club owner’s and boards to the fans themselves. Hell, if a pie had a mind – it too would say football needs fans.

When the post-pandemic football first came about I was excited to watch football, period; but slowly an apathy grew which I at first attributed to the lack of fan noise or “atmosphere” as we like to call it. Then I realized the very top clubs and broadcasters (caveat being I’m a Manchester United fan) added a somewhat delayed but still effective stadium fan sound for television viewers – it did the trick for me but I also felt like I was watching my mates play FIFA on PlayStation 2 where reaction sounds are somewhat delayed.

Having seen Liverpool lift the title at the beginning of the pandemic and thinking to myself: “How empty must their victory feel? They’ve finally done it (and deservingly so) after 3 decades and yet they don’t have their fans in front of them to share this with them.”. I can’t help but think that I would feel that Manchester United (or any other club’s squad and manager) would feel the same sense of futility if they won a trophy without the fans cheering them on and celebrating it with them.

Additionally, I believe there are some players that are mostly motivated by the spectacle and the crowd. Imagine Ronaldinho, or Tiherry Henry being expected to perform at the top level with no crowd to please? Imagine a Roy Keane, a Jamie Carragher, or a Gennaro Gattuso being expected to play with the same gusto without the noise, chaos, and passion surrounding them – thick in the air. I get it, they are professional footballers but let’s not take away the subtle edge that fans give them. I would bet my left bollock that Liverpool would have kept their long unbeaten home record if there were fans in the Kop – Klopp thrives on atmosphere, motivation, and generally bombastic type of football.

This is why I believe we are seeing such inconsistent results across the board in the EPL and the rest of Europe – the players are basically playing training matches for clubs to fulfill the revenues that will keep the industry alive and people in their jobs while we wait for all this pandemic stuff to blow over.

To be honest, this mail has no real point to it besides re-iterating the fact we all see in front of our eyes. We are distracting ourselves watching training games of football while we wait for real football to actually return in it’s full glory….and boy will it be glorious!!

Football needs fans.

Mandisi (somewhat satisfied MUFC football fan)


Stop writing about the Sky Six
Another great match, another pile of articles saying how the big six club is failing.

Nothing about one of the greatest matches in FA Cup history, nothing about the commitment and drive of each team, no, the Sky 6 club made lots of mistakes and that’s all we can take from it apparently.

Here’s a news flash, SO DID EVERTON!!!

The writing on this site now is so biased toward/against Sky 6 clubs that it’s just making it like a kids cartoon. Even earlier in the season there were some great balanced pieces you could read as an adult. Now following new recruit Dave Tickner (pretending to be Stewart Lee), as we get to the business end of the season, it’s all about clicks.

It’s not big or clever, it just shows you are no different to any other site. As a reader of over 10 years, F365 is now as banal as anywhere else on the web.

Absolutely no credit to the winner of last night’s football feast, just a bunch of whining maggots doing their best to generate clicks.

Fat Man

(I can exclusively reveal that Matt Stead was going to write about Gylfi Sigurdsson in detail on Tuesday night before it got batsh*t mental and the 5-4 made the Jose Mourinho line hard to resist. He did keep some flattering lines in there – Ed)



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