Ralf Rangnick gets his first Mailbox mauling after Man Utd draw…

Date published: Thursday 9th December 2021 8:56 - Editor F365

Ralf Rangnick takes charge of Man Utd.

We have one mail tearing into Ralf Rangnick for playing Oleball and another praising the new Man Utd manager for his approach to the Champions League draw with Young Boys.

Send your innermost thoughts on any subject to theeditor@football365.com


Same old Oleball
I hate being the devils advocate, but since every reporter and pundit has been jerking this Ralf Rangnick guy off since day 1, I don’t mind. How was that not Solskjaer football. They didn’t press, there was no system of play, it was simply, a get out there a enjoy yourselfs lads football.

Apparently the godfather of modern football, cannot beat the PE teacher’s performance?It looks strange, Atleast beat the breaks off Young Boys, before loosing to a premier league club, but the fact they struggling, doesn’t bode well. The fact some of the faces at the dugout are there maybe indicative of the problem, but godfather should have been able to correct it. Man U should be 3-1 down at this point TBH.
Man U simply fired Solskjaer to hire another pretender.

I knew it was fraudulent the moment they put Klopp and Tuchel as students of the man. Anyone can tell the difference between Klopp and Tuchel football. One is organized, the other throws the opposition to many problems to solve and handle. I personally think he gave coaches the opportunities, and 3 of them have risen to the top, but its not the driving force of the philosophy. The reason I say this is, I look at for example Barcelona, tikitaka under Guardiola, 600 passes in a game, Xavi is their coach now, it’s going to be the same consistency. Atletico Madrid, their identity as the hard boys in town, hire a hard ass manager and stay consistent. Arsenal they play sexy football, so hire a manager who promises that. Bayern, keep it in house and try to get the best out of former players, have been successful for 8 years. Dortmund, have to sell so rely on Bayern buying players.

So Man U have gone from a hard nosed, PFM coach, to a purist, to a negative football man, to a positive football man, to a purist again. Why didn’t they go for a happy fellow who can actually coach. Hell, even Ole won by an aggregate of 8-2 in his 2 matches in charge. How is Rangnick still getting a pass.
Dave (At least Ole blew the brakes off the opposition, Rangnick can’t win a second half), Somewhere


Chapeau, Ralf
Just had to write in this morning to say what a brilliant and ruthless piece of work by Ralf Rangrick last night. He could have arranged umpteen practice matches to run the rule over those fringe players, but he didn’t. He put them all on the same pitch at the same time, in front of 73,000, with nowhere to hide and pressure on.

What did he learn? That Dalot and Telles are far more dynamic that Shaw and Wan Bissaka. That Shaw is a one-trick pony that is capable of the occasional good cross but ultimately chugs up and down the left like a tugboat. That Wan Bissaka is a no-trick pony.

That Jesse Lingard should have looked liked Maradona given the team he was playing in and the team he was playing against. He didn’t, and reverted to back to his old MIA self. He’s fooled 4 managers since Fergie, I suspect that Ralf won’t be next. His future is being average on Tyneside.

That the kids are alright, but need to be blooded individually with the 1st team. That Matic and Mata’s time is up. That the rest bar Greenwood are decidedly average and should be looking over their shoulders in January.

In short, if that was a view to a cull, then Ralf engineered a lesson and learned more in 90 minutes than Ole still hasn’t figured out in 3 years.

Chapeau Ralf Rangrick, chapeau! It’s been about time!

And he didn’t lose!


Premature evaluation
It’s amazing how one game where Dalot and Telles played has signified for some the end of careers of AWB and Shaw.

How do dozens of games whereby Shaw and AWB have proven themselves to be way better than their understudies be trumped by one solitary game? Not only that, a 1-0 win at home to the powerhouse that is Crystal Palace who also had a couple of players missing.

Shaw has been poor this season (as have most of the team including Dalot and Telles previous outings) and for a long while Utd fans have wished AWB has competition for his place so that he can also be spurred on like what happened to Shaw when Telles first came in. AWB and Shaw are still our best full backs but I hope they don’t get straight back in the team and that this is exactly the kick up the ass that both needed to realise that they have no god given right to put on the red shirt.

Also, while on the subject of over-reactions after one game. While I really did enjoy the palace game having not enjoyed the last couple of months of shite, it is very premature to credit Ralf. You could also read the storyline as players get a new manager and so give an extra bit of effort to try and look good to the new man. Isn’t that what happens 1st game every time there is a new manager for any club?

One positive I took was that Elanga got game time and not for the reason you might think. The big positive for that was that we played a young prospect rather than a much older JLingz that has proved he is not good enough for Utd but deserves his chance at West Ham or another club. Let him go.

Other than that, our run of games do give Ralf a chance to bed in his tactics so that hopefully come the end of January we are not looking as dire as we have been and might actually be able to put a cat amongst the pigeons and force a few results that might affect the title race. If we are not comfortably in 4th by the end of this run of fixtures then we’re going to struggle throughout the rest of the season. We now have a 14 game run where we will be strong favourites for every game. 10 wins from that lot will put us in a good position. Much less than that and we’re not going to enjoy the tougher run of City, Spurs, Liverpool, Leicester that follows those games.

Ten wins of 14 from those fixtures doesn’t look too difficult on paper but considering utd would have struggled to beat the dog and duck 2nd team just a week or so ago means it is alot harder than pundits seem to suggest.
Jon, Cape Town (I miss playing for a pub team…. I miss playing… I miss going to the pub…)


Wan-Bissaka to centre-back
I see the Wan Bissaka to positional change conversation seems to have popped up again.

I’m never sure why people keep suggesting that moving a player with good tackling ability but poor positional awareness, reading of the game and concentration levels from a position where tackling ability is useful but good positioning less so. Instead playing him in a position which doesn’t require much tackling but instead requires good positional awareness, reading of the game and concentration levels.

His defensive skill set is the complete opposite of what is required of a centre back. Can we please put this to bed or do we all need to watch him switch off from a cross for the millionth time but doing it standing in the centre of the goal this time?
Mick, Cardiff


The positional change Man Utd would be stupid not to try


…I was going to just write in about Liverpool’s ‘second’ team taking down the Serie A leaders with a calm and measured performance from the teenager Morton and some great performance all around and then read Dave, Dublin, morning email.

But the response dovetails nicely.

First, to why not AWB. AWB started life as a winger.

He wasn’t cutting it, so they tried him out as a full back. Perhaps they were hoping he could become an attacking full back like all four of Liverpool’s FBs have shown recently or the way Ashley Young migrated from winger to full back or wing back. Either way, being late to the FB game his lack of positional sense is telling. He frequently has to resort to last ditch tackles because he is out of position. He often keeps opponents onside and even if he is fast, doesn’t use it the way Walker uses his speed to clean up before an opponent gets into a dangerous position or to attack down the wing. He also seems to hold back too much when he could have intercepted passes – probably because he has been caught out a few times when he has. Almost like he doesn’t trust himself or has lost confidence.

Moving a player to CB whose biggest weakness is lack of awareness and positioning at FB is definitely going to be trouble. Is this supposed to be as a back 3 or back 4? I doubt Rangnick would play 3 at the back – and even then I wouldn’t risk it. Speed is only useful if you know when to use it – not just to keep getting of trouble.

Then last night we saw a Liverpool team with Morton playing totally composed at centre mid. Totally aware of his positioning, getting into the right spaces to receive the ball, seeming to know when to press, spraying the ball effectively. The contrast with AWB, apart from possible skill levels, is that Morton has been coached to succeed in that role where it looks like AWB has been left to learn on his own. Neco Williams and Tsimikas – both the backup FBs – showed better positional sense, constantly getting upfield to support their winger and midfield, stretching Milan, but able to get back quickly to cut off danger and, when necessary tackle.

AWB’s biggest challenge? His price tag. It puts so much pressure on him to look better, be better, attract so much flack from media and pundits. United and Rangnick need to coach him on how to be a better FB before moving him to yet another unfamiliar position.

Back to Liverpool’s win over Milan. Does having their ‘second team’ dominate the Serie A leaders show how much further ahead the EPL is over Serie A right now?
Paul McDevitt


…Dave, Dublin wrote in questioning why Aaron Wan-Bissaka hasn’t been considered as a CB option for Man Utd. This is a question that is often asked in the mailbox, and I can only assume it’s been asked repeatedly by people that don’t watch Utd play that often.

The reason that AWB hasn’t been seen as an eventual centre back is because he has zero defensive or positional awareness. He’s an exceptional tackler and one-on-one defender, but he routinely gets caught out playing too deep in an offside line, he gets sucked into the middle too often for crosses from the left-wing leaving his space open for an attacker to get on the end of crosses, he routinely gets caught ball-watching, and he can’t head the ball.

Easier to train him on pressing high as a wing-back and improve his passing than to completely knock out all the basic defensive errors he makes on a routine basis.

He’s a good full-back for a team who will end up defending a lot, or sitting with a deep defensive line. But for a front-foot team, who need contributions from play he’s lacking. Maybe with some actual coaching from Rangnick and co he will improve, but at the moment it looks like it’s Dalot’s place to lose.
Jim, Irish lost in Vancouver

Chelsea mentality
When you go one goal up after 2 minutes you expect one thing and that is probably the 3 points, but right now that is not the case for this Chelsea side and it is a period where Tuchel’s credentials are truly being tested, however there is a lot more to this than just “Chelsea are playing poorly”, we are currently going through an injury crisis which has left our midfield so weak, as well as a backline of defenders who are not really first choice, the losses of Kovacic, Kante and Jorginho is our first choice midfielders all gone, when Jorginho has played he looks quite tired and then our defence that was so crucial to our squad is missing Chalobah and more importantly Chilwell, it is frustrating but injuries happen in a season perhaps not to this extent but still.

One thing i have noticed with not just this Chelsea side but i would say since 2012 era, the manager who is at the helm makes the same sort of comment in December, last night Tuchel joined the long list in doing so, that comment is Chelsea’s behaviour changes when we go ahead in a game, Rafa Benitez has said a variation of this around December, Sarri called it the ‘mentality’ issue for the squad, Lampard even said similar, i can even remember Antonio Conte being very passionate lets say at losses like these, clearly this is not an issue born out of injuries to key individuals, i am almost convinced that ever since we lost the original spine of Cech-Terry-Lampard-Drogba its been an ongoing issue, perhaps that lack of leadership or players that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and lead by example has contributed to this.

Knockout stage draw is tomorrow, Bayern, Real Madrid, Ajax or Lille will be next up and all of those apart from Lille perhaps are huge threats and could go deep in this competition, however last season when the draw was made we secured a date with Atletico and all expected a swift exit stage left, then went on and won the competition, February is a long time away in football and a run of form and the return of injured players can change everything.
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod

Chelsea forward Timo Werner celebrates his goal

Dream CL draw
City vs Atletico (shithousing everywhere)
Utd vs PSG (‘old’ money vs new)
Bayern vs Chelsea (mixture of brilliance and efficiency)
Liverpool vs Villarreal (hopefully Lfc win)
Real vs Sporting (Spain vs Portugal)
Ajax vs Benfica (Legends)
Lille vs Inter (2 of last 4 teams to choose and Italy can’t play Italy)
Juventus vs RB Salzburg (ditto)
Aidan, Lfc (appears my dream was for other Premier League teams to get it tight and to poorly disguise my motivation in brackets)


Festive football
There’s a throwaway line in an article this week on AC Milan by one of your own at football 365 Dave Tickner. Now I’m sure Dave loves football and that’s why his chosen occupation is to write about it but it does highlight how when paid to watch football matches, journalists don’t quite get it the way those of us who pay to attend do.

Dave writes ” hey had to take on a Liverpool side already thoroughly guaranteed top spot and in the midst of the traditional December fixture gluttony of which English football is so bafflingly proud”. Now for Dave I get it, he’s been in the press conferences, listened to managers moan, he’s had to work Boxing Day, New Years Day et al whilst many of us don’t.

So I want to give some perspective on why the Christmas fixture list may be so loved by others. Firstly, I’m an Expat, I won’t make it home this Christmas due to quarantine reasons (or last) but in the usual festive periods I do, where do I go? That’s right, football matches, with my dad and mates I’ve not seen all year. This for so many people is a common theme around xmas time and is why gates and attendances are boosted (particularly at lower league level where the cash is welcomed). Yes, I’m an extreme case being in China but how many people work in offices in London then head elsewhere at this time of year to spend time with family, eat pies, have pints and take in the match? Some may just go to the pub to watch the match with their old man but guess what, that’s money in the local landlord’s till and into the local economy.

It may be a pain in the arse for Dave but I’d ask him to remember this, you get paid for what we pay for. For fans, the people who really matter, there is no time like Boxing Day against a local rival. That’s why we love it.


Ranking managers
I’d love to complain about Klopp not being top, but Moyes genuinely is doing an excellent job at West Ham. I would love it, *love it* to see it last and them get the 4th Champions League spot ahead of Man U. I rather suspect they’ll do a Leicester and fade just at the end though unfortunately. But beating ourselves and Chelsea is no small feat this season and they fully deserved each win too. Moyes has made them a force to take very seriously.

It’s hard not to be seriously impressed by Tuchel as well. With a full pre-season behind him and despite Lukaku being injured a lot, Chelsea are simply a much superior team than they were under Lampard. Lukaku will undoubtedly offer them a different option when fully fit and having someone who can actually finish up front will make a pleasant change for them ahead of Werner.

Klopp has been damn near flawless this season. The defensive crisis last year wasn’t his fault but how he dealt with it was to an extent. He seems to have fully taken on board the lessons to be learned from it all and come back an even better manager. Winning 6 Champions League group games was fantastic and the amount of goals we score is beyond brilliant.

We could tighten up a little defensively and cut out the odd errors but that’s a tiny niggle. Other than that , all I want him to do is to tell the board to give Mo whatever the hell he wants. It’s slightly surprising that’s a conversation that even needs to be had. However, when it comes to players at least, I completely trust our board to get it right. Obviously some of their other judgments can be a bit on the shaky side. But we’re in a fantastic place with our club and manager and I would swap him for absolutely no one.

And as for the 4th place fella, he’s just Pep isn’t he? He’ll win the league or come a very close second this year. He’ll most likely win the FA Cup. And he’ll get to the business end of the Champions League, massively overthink his strategy and do something inexplicable. That’s his style and that’s what he does.

He’s 95% the greatest manager who’s ever lived. The other 5% is a mad scientist who throws different ingredients together once a season in a fashion that makes sense to him at the time but not to absolutely anyone else. And then he wonders why it explodes and goes horribly wrong.

But you’ve got 3 out of the 4 Champions League semi-finalists this season right there, vagaries of the draw permitting. And whatever order you put them in, those 3 are the best managers in the world, managing 3 of the world’s best teams.

The Premier League is alright at the moment isn’t it?
James, Liverpool


Justice for Vieira
When he was announced, I was firmly in the camp best described as: Really? Viera? Really? It seemed like yet another “former legendary player” pick, except one who’d managed indifferently before. Oh, and he wasn’t their legend.

So you’d think I’d agree with Mr Ewens’ mail that Hodgson should have been begged to skip his retirement for the umpteenth time. Oh, and also laugh at the F365 types bigging up the new guy. All because Viera has only taken them (after 15 games) to the same level they were under Roy.

Except that seems to willfully ignore the reasons why everyone thought the Palace job was a bad idea (Palace poisoned Chalice, Sun writers?). Heck, it was one of the first of many that Lampard has ‘bowed out’ of because it looked hard/didn’t live up to the high standard he set being fired by Chelsea.

They had about 11 first team players, mostly old and busted. They had to build a brand new team out of dreams, cobwebs and the money that all the old contracts had eaten up. And they had to try and move beyond pure survival football: a goal which had spelled the doom of the last Palace manager to try.

So after all that, being just 14th and playing decent stuff that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, while still relying on the likes of Benteke, McArthur and Ayew, is absolutely still laudable. It might still all come crumbling down this season, but I doubt it. And for that Viera deserves some praise. As do the suits that made his squad surgery possible.
Andrew M, Streatham


Man gets prediction wrong
Isn’t it funny when the internet allows you to check things that have been said by journos in the past to see if they tally with what they say in the present….mediawatch says hi.

So onto the Manager rankings by Dave Tickner where he states of Tuchel:

Gets ahead of his equally first-rate contemporaries Guardiola and Klopp on the basis it was slightly less certain that Chelsea would be in the title fight than it was for City and Liverpool to be there.

This would be the same Dave Tickner who predicted Chelsea to be 21/22 champions and Liverpool to finish 4th.

James Outram, Wirral


FB to CB
I think the answer Dave, Dublin is looking for is Cesar Azpilicueta.

He’s made that transition and recently captained Chelsea to the Champions League trophy as CB.

Also, apropos Dave’s comment about Micah Richards, I was up watching MOTD a while back and they had that Top 10 thing on afterwards and it was on fullbacks. Their top 10 was fairly uncontroversial with Ashley Cole winning which I think is a fair shout but they somehow managed to completely miss out Azpilicueta but shoehorn Micah Richards in!

Now i’m having to go back and have a look at their list and it’s actually ridiculous. I think there’s a huge amount of UK bias in there.

10 – Micah Richards
9 – Lee Dixon
8 – Stuart Pearce
7 – Patrice Evra
6 – Kyle Walker
5 – Andy Robertson
4 – Dennis Irwin
3 – Gary Neville
2 – Trent Alexander-Arnold
1 – Ashley Cole

Pearce, Dixon, Richards? Really? All decent players but all fairly limited. Dixon and Pearce gave you grit and consistency for sure but Richards seemed to be done as a player by about 25. He averaged 15 games a season across his entire career and won 13 England caps. That’s not a career of a top 10 premier league full back.

As for TAA, great player for sure but is young and has been doing it for a few years. As much as I dislike Neville or don’t have any feelings about Irwin, they both had insanely long careers and were extremely consistent.

For sure Azpilicueta should be top 5 for me. Averages 34 league games per season for Chelsea, has won everything that is possible for him to win (World Club Cup aside) and for quite a few years was the best full back in the league, nobody got past him. I also think that the gigantic arsed Ivanovic could have easily made the cut too.

Anyway, strange rant aside, does anybody else think other fullbacks should make it in over the above 10
Lee, Hornsey


Rugby leading again
I’m sure many will have seen the video doing the rounds of the ruby ref who gave the opposition ten yards for an opposing player mouthing off at him. Player goes past ref, mouths off again and ref gives another ten yards.

Now I know this was trialled in footie but, for obvious reasons, didn’t work. Well howsabout this then. Mouth off at ref and the opposition will be given a direct free kick from wherever they want…forwards OR backwards. You watch the buggers shut up then.
Gavin King BRFC


Mourning for Milan
I was trying to mail this in right after the game yesterday but work got the most of me.

First of all I’d like to say I’m absolutely gutted about Milan’s elimination from the group stage because a part of me still yearns for them to suddenly transform into the European powerhouse they used to be.

Liverpool were always going to finish as group leaders and Klopp just fooled everyone into believing it was a group of death.They were simply too good and absolutely breezed past everyone in group B. Milan couldn’t even lay a glove on Klopp’s 2nd team. As a Man Utd supporter it was quite disheartening to see a former player in Ibrahimovic made to look like the best (worst?) part of the 71 year old he is by Nat Philips and Konate.

My point is Milan only finished bottom of their group not because they were a trash side but because they failed to do their job against Atletico (who I expected to finish outta Europe
A.J, Fort Bragg N.C (Just wrote in to say I have a soft spot for Milan and dislike Simeone)

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