Pogba is the Man Utd ‘fancy stuff’ Solskjaer must avoid

Date published: Wednesday 19th May 2021 2:41 - Editor F365

Keep your brilliant mails coming to theeditor@football365.com.


Paul ‘fancy stuff’ Pogba
I’m full of praise for the job OGS has done, but we’re going to have a big falling out if he persists with Pogba. How can you justify him? Can’t play centre mid. Doesnt bring the numbers rashford does to left side of attack, cant play where Bruno plays. Every criticism OGS had of the team summarised Pogba – over playing, too many flicks, playing to the crowd. And yet he’ll get picked again. If someone can explain why he appears undroppable it’d be much appreciated.


City frauds
City losing again yesterday just further highlights how laughable the comparison between United ’99 and the current City team is.

United went unbeaten between Dec 98 to the end of the season.
In comparison City have lost 5 times since March. That United team lost 3 times over the entire season.

From Dec to May they played :
20 PL games
8 FA Cup games
5 CL games

33 games unbeaten over a 5 month spell. The pressure, intensity and strength of opposition increasing week after week until it climaxed in the Nou Camp.

In the CL they beat an Inter team containing Pagliuca, Simeone, Zanetti, Roberto Baggio, Ronaldo and Zamarano.
In the semi they beat a Juventus team containing Conte, Inzaghi, Deschamps, Zidane and Davids.
In the final they played a Bayern side who had also just won the league and cup and were attempting to achieve a first ever treble. They were the best Bayern team in 25 years.

In the FA Cup United faced Liverpool in the 4th Round, Chelsea in the quarter final and Arsenal in the semi final who were the current PL and FA Cup holders and also on for the double double. I’d even argue that the Arsenal team of 98/99 are better than this City team.

City’s achievements pale in comparison.
In the FA Cup they played Birmingham City, Cheltenham, Swansea and Everton before losing to Chelsea

In the CL they beat Borrusia Monchengladbach, Borrusia Dortmund and PSG in empty stadiums.
They won 21 consecutive games in all competitions which is a great achievement but again it was wind assisted by their billion pound squad playing shattered teams in empty stadiums. I’d struggle to remember who they beat in that run. I know they were gifted a late winner against Villa with a goal so controversial that the FA changed the rules the next week so there wouldnt be a repeat.

There is no comparison between the 2 trebles. United achieved theirs in an era before oil money warped competition. The 99 treble contained some of the greatest games in football history ( Barcelona 3-3, Arsenal 2-1, Juventus 3-2 ) Mammoth battles between heavyweights slugging it out in the white hot heat of battle in front of packed feral stadiums.

I repeat, City have lost 5 times since March. They have the luxury of resting their entire team in big PL games because they have bent the rules and threatened governing bodies who dare to oppose them. There may be another team to compare to the United 1999 achievement but I can safely say this City team ain’t it.
Robert Melia

FEATURE: The ‘worst’ Premier League XI of the season


Rank shithousery
Bit of scorn in the mailbox this morning about football fans having the temerity to go and support their football team after being forcibly removed from what, in some cases, will have been a lifetime of routine, family togetherness and sense of community on account of a global pandemic.

Obviously one way to look atit and argue against it is to open up the match going fans vs armchair supporters discourse which has been raging on for the best part of 20 years. And sure, there’s something to that.

But ultimately, what it does is expose the helplessness of football fans who are in effect forced to choose between supporting their football club and opposing their owners. It’s easy to be unified in protest when we’re all locked out of stadiums and forcibly removed from the teams we support. It’s less so when you’re being forced to choose between that and what in sme cases may have been part of your life before you could even remember. Pouring scorn on fans who went to support their football team last night – not the owners, not the superleague, just their football team – is absolute, rank shithouse behaviour.
Simon, London 


Be nice…
I’m going to bite with that email from Gussy and say he’s right, I agree. I haven’t sung those songs about Liverpool for a very long time, for good reason. We live in times where inequality and poverty have become reality for vast swathes of the population in this country. Our #10 spends his spare time campaigning to help those less fortunate to help feed vulnerable children. I’ve felt for some time that these songs are now inappropriate. I get that many will feel its a laugh, light-hearted banter based on stereotypes, but the truth is that it’s people joking about an issue so acute that our star forward now dedicates his spare time trying to solve it. And it’s hardly specific to Liverpool, either. The whole country is going through problems related financial pressure. It could be time that we start to show a bit more self awareness. Most people are no more than 1 or 2 interrupted pay packets away from destitution, and they’re the lucky ones. And yet we’re all laughing at each other for that. Stinks really, doesn’t it…


…but not too nice
A couple of balanced views in the mailbox about fans holding grudges against former players and how booing them isn’t good form.Before we all go too soft, football should be about entertainment, and sometimes booing is for the pantomime of the occasion. You know, the baddie comes on stage left and we all boo and hiss. Making that kind of noise (well, not the hissing) at a match is sometimes done to unsettle the player, put him off his game – even though it can have the reverse effect – and let him know we didn’t like him leaving our sacred club, not because we hate the bloke and would take a swing at him if we passed him in the street or saw him in the pub.
Of course, that doesn’t allow for the d**kheads who shout out aggressive obscenities at the same time, as they’ve decided to really ‘hate’ him. You hear it at the match and as I’ve matured over the years it winds me up more than it used to. It seems more spiteful, too full of bile, in today’s society, out of kilter with how we all want people to behave. However you don’t hear the content of those shouts on TV, they add to the overall noise at that point but it’s the booing which makes the headline.
So I think we should accept booing isn’t that bad, just part of what makes the game fun, the minor tribalism that adds to the rivalry.
Booing at your own players, or even the whole team at the end of a game, though, that’s a different set of circumstances.
TyA, Essex


The Webster Ruling
I would have expected a longtime mailbox contributor such as Paul McDevitt to be aware of the Webster Ruling + Webster Clause, which “states that any player who signed a contract before the age of 28 can buy himself out of the contract three years after the deal was signed. If he is 28 or older the time limit is shortened to two years”. This is what Andy West was citing in his mailbox submission.

One might even describe Paul writing in to mock Andy’s idea as “silly”, unaware that it is based on a legal ruling which has existed for 17 years, as Spursy…
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


We can’t publish mails we don’t get, Alao…
I read the morning’s mailbox hoping to see someone wax lyrical about Chelsea’s performance last night but F365 with their agenda against us didn’t publish any.

It was a good game and I’d like to ask the mailbox if anyone else has noticed that the 4 goals Chelsea have conceded since playing City away are completely avoidable.

1. Christensen should have just cleared the ball away against City and not try to stop it.
2. Playing from the back against Arsenal
3. & 4. Playing from the back against Leicester.

I’m not a formations expert but it’s what I noticed and I feel Tuchel should work on it

It’s coming home ( The big ears and Eden)
Alao Tunji, Lagos, Nigeria


Big Four not Big Six
It’s time to go back to having a Big Four. It’s never been more obvious that City, United, Chelsea, and Liverpool are a cut above the two North London clubs. Whether comparing the quality of their respective squads, performances, results, league positions, recent trophies, or (if you care about that sort of thing) financial valuations, Spurs and Arsenal fall notably short in each category.
– Ebrahim (because a Big Seven with Leicester is an awkward alternative), MUFC, Seattle


Football fan hypocrisy?!
Recently in the mailbox we’ve had the following: criticism for Harry Kane for being naive enough to sign a 6 year contract. Criticism for Gini Wijnaldum for running down his contract and potentially leaving on a free. Does anyone see the problem here?

It’s not a new thing. Players are frequently criticised for having the temerity to see out the contract they signed, playing for the number of years they agreed to, then leaving. Or criticised for leaving with one year to go, thereby reducing their value. At the same time, players who have several years left are criticised if they ask to leave. “He shouldn’t have signed a 5-year contract then.” “Let him rot in the reserves for the next few years.” etc.

There’s not a greater point here, just the incredible hypocrisy of football fans. Who’d have thought it?
Mike, LFC, London

Harry Kane


Minor but major
A minor point, but in the four added minutes at the end of Man Utd v Fulham last night referee Lee Mason booked Fulham goalkeeper Areola for time-wasting. He then blew for full-time at… 3:58 into added time. Erm…
Peter, Windsor


An update from across the Irish Sea
Wild scenes yesterday in the Irish Cup semi-final between Crusaders and Larne.  The match finished 1-1 and went to penalties.  Tuffey (the Crusaders GK) saved a penalty from Mitchell, but the ref ordered a retake because Tuffey was off his line.  Mitchell scored the retake.   Robinson came up for Larne.  Tuffey made the save but the ref ordered a retake and booked Tuffey for being off his line.  Robinson hit the retake, Tuffey made the save, but the ref ordered a retake – and then booked Tuffey again for being off his line.  So, the Crues ‘keeper was sent-off in the penalty shootout!  That’s what we call Irish League Behaviour.  The third “offence” which produced the second yellow looked non-existent (but that might be my Crues-tinted glasses).  Our refs in Northern Ireland manage to veer between pedantry and laxity.

Billy Joe Burns (one of the Crues defenders) had to put on the GK shirt , with Robinson scoring at the third time of asking.  Larne EVENTUALLY won the shootout 6-5.  Stephen Baxter (the Crues manager), who wanted to take his players off, called it “a sad day for football” and the club is now contemplating legal advice.  The Irish FA (which is the most incompetent of the four UK associations) have backed the ref, of course.   Having been so stringent, it sets a precedent now for future penalties.

Watch this space
PS: This whole “fan power” stuff is going to fizzle out once fans get back in the stadiums, isn’t it?  


Emma Hayes to Spurs
John Nicholson says about Emma Hayes that “doing co-comm work on 5live, she is forensic and quick-thinking in a way that few are. Football is football. It is one game, played by women and played by men to the same rules. The same number of players playing largely the same tactical game. Organising women to play successful football cannot fundamentally be any different from organising men. Even if understanding character and motivations may be different from club to club, the skills needed to do so must be transferable.”

Notwithstanding that I normally agree with Johnny on most things, and appreciate his egalitarian mindset, this is, I believe, a fundamental fallacy of a lot of the current football media. Having grown up on Championship Manager and Monday Night Football, reading blogs like these vaunted pages and Zonal Marking, and of course, watching a lot of football, while even occasionally playing the game, we convince ourselves that we truly know football. We understand the tactics and key buzzword terms, and so can have spirited debates about whether the new diminutive Belgian (or Colombian) enganche’s abilities in the hole are enough to merit a place in the team or whether he’s too lazy to play the gegenpressing style his manager desires. It helps that when ex pros talk about the game, they put it in fairly straightforward language for us (although we then turn around and accuse them of not knowing enough about the game which they excelled in).

As a result, we’ve come around to the thought that football management isn’t one that ex football players are necessarily any better at than any old bloke with a passion for the game and attention to detail / love of a dossier. We see the successes of the likes of Arrigo Sacchi, Maurizio Sarri, Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, Brendan Rodgers, and Julian Nagelsmann and believe that if only we dedicated ourselves to football rather than whatever we chose to do, we too, may have made an excellent football manager. But like in nearly any other industry in the world, this rose tinted view of how we’d like the world to be just isn’t true, in two key ways.

The first is that other than in a few very rare, accordingly high profile examples, most excellent managers were excellent players. The few world class managers that weren’t international players themselves generally played professional football or came through the youth academy of a top professional club. Nagelsmann was U17 captain of 1860 Munich, Mourinho played for Rio Ave, Benitez came through the Real Madrid academy and played third division football in Spain, Rodgers was signed by Reading after playing international youth football for Ireland. Even Sarri, the banker, trialled at Torino and Fiorentina. Notably most of these careers were curtailed early due to injury (recall Brian Clough) which gave them a head start on their peers in their management careers.

Which brings me to the second key fact which in this case holds true for every world class manager in the game today – they have all been involved in the professional game for a long time. Some transition from playing for a decade, where they learn about the structures of the modern professional football club and how management works, much to the chagrin and contempt of today’s Intelligent Football Media, the footballing equivalent of a chief technical officer becoming a CEO – transitioning from a technical role to managing those technical people and others – others go via scouting or working as assistants in the top clubs (Villas-Boas, Nagelsmann) or work their way up slowly from the lower leagues (Sarri, Sacchi, Graham Potter), with many (Mourinho, Rodgers, Benitez) doing both. It’s not enough to just know the game at a surface level, one has to be involved in elite level professional football for a long time before one can become a master at football management.

Now, while Emma Hayes is undoubtedly a wonderful manager of Chelsea FC Women, it’s not enough. That’s not to say that she can’t become a wonderful manager of Chelsea FC Men or Tottenham FC Men, just that she’d need to do a few years (a decade) as a scout / assistant coach of Chelsea FC Men, or a player (obviously can’t), or work her way up from the lower divisions. Furthermore, this would actually give her the best chance of succeeding. If Lampard, beloved by the club and owner, gets hounded out after delivering an FA Cup final, fourth place and two knockout stage champions league football campaigns, a relative nobody (compared to Lampard) in men’s football terms simply wouldn’t get the same patience.

I’m aware I’m attaching too much seriousness to what was largely a hypothetical raised to prompt us to consider our biases, but there you go.


I see John Nicholson (or is it Jonny Nic, he can’t seem to make up his mind) is continuing to troll the world by becoming a pure parody of himself.  His mantra remains the same, take a controversial but not in itself necessarily bad position then commit so fully to it that any sense and logic is well in the rear view mirror.

This week – Spurs should appoint Emma Hayes.  Jonny knows full well that 1) it isn’t going to happen and 2) suggesting it will be enough to get the Neanderthals spraying digestives across their living room.  It isn’t a bad idea in itself – there is no reason a female manager couldn’t be a success in men’s football and it will need to be suggested for a while before anyone is brave enough to do it.  So far, so good.

But now, onto the trolling.  Suggesting that she should be appointed because Daniel doesn’t want to do it is completely facile – the same argument is true for Jonny, me or indeed Jair Bolsonaro to get the job.  But the true trolling mastery was inserted quietly into the middle – that Emma Hayes might now want the job (quite possible) but brilliantly ‘might feel it’s a big step down from where she is now’.   It’s not.  Jonny knows it, I know it, everyone knows it.  No matter how right on you are, being manager of Tottenham men’s team is a step up from being manager of Chelsea’s women’s team.  In a perfect world maybe it wouldn’t be (actually it would, as in an ideal world chelsea would be in the Conference at best but I digress) but it is.  It’s a chance to manage a huge club in front of 60000 fans in a magnificent stadium every week.  Hopefully, Graham Potter will still agree it’s a step up from Brighton.
Phil, London


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