Ratcliffe given four problems to solve at Man Utd and Ten Hag ain’t one…

Editor F365
Man Utd pair Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire
Man Utd pair Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire

Man Utd have bigger issues than their manager but there are many, while we also have mails on Spurs, Man City and more.

Send your views to theeditor@football365.com


Man Utd have four major problems for Ratcliffe to solve
It feels like over the last few years we have been in a revolving vortex around Man United and the reasons for why they are so bad (relatively speaking) and what’s needed to sort them out. Given we have no doubt Jim Ratcliffe reads the mailbox I thought I’d do a kind of lessons learnt report for him to summarise the key problems and what he needs to do about them.

This is based on my take of what mailboxers consistently raise and write in about. Readers….do you agree with this…in order of urgency:

1) A core problem is the club has, and keeps handing out massive contracts that makes it really really difficult to both incentivise players and also move them on if they are not very good.

Rashford for example (who seems a nice bloke) is and was never a £200k (probably £300k) level player. No other club in the prem would give out that kind of salary. Add in various other players that you hear about from Phil Jones to Martial and you have players who are not top level who are being paid obscene amounts of money. You cant shift them to make space for others, and in the case of many you end up relying on them for leadership and quality that they just do not possess.

When Man U used to rule the roost they rarely went out and bought the top ready made article, mainly relying on really hungry players who were keen to and ready to step up into superstardom. Lesson: don’t try and buy ready made global stars, don’t pay the highest salaries (get people who actually want to come to the club because of the club), and pay players what they look to be worth relative to others out there.

2) The next problem is the club do not have a defined style of football. You don’t hear much now about flying wingers and counter attacking and high energy chaos. There is just nothing in terms of what the club is trying to do. You get that when you watch the current team – there is no actual style of play and crucially structure that looks to be geared towards consistently performing in a well organised manner.

That comes from the gap left by Fergie and Gill (and Moyes hilariously getting rid of the rest of the staff) and the club not filling it with some kind of Director or whatever that set out the next 5 year (or whatever) blueprint and then supported and directed the next manager to that. What happened as a result was manager driven recruitment based on their own knowledge and philosophy – which has now resulted in a mess of a squad that doesn’t compliment each other (and a current manager that’s just chasing Dutch 1st division players).

This would have helped player and manager recruitment and also structure across the training and matchday pitch. Lesson: Define a medium term structure and style of play to help build towards in terms of manager and player recruitment and development approach.

3) Another problem is the club’s own comms and its ex players in the media, who heap pressure on the club to turn things round immediately. If the club came out and said we are gonna fix this team and its structural issues but it will take 3 years it will create immediate noise but then a window of breathing space to actually make and bed in the fundamental changes I’ve said above.

The club need to tell ex players to shut up and get on board with the message too. Case in point – Arsenal – look at the grief Arteta got but he held of and the club enabled him to get rid of all the players and approaches that were always going to block progress….and look at them now.

Look at their players – instead of finding the next Odegaard (someone who’s struggling to make it at a mega club but is clearly quality and has time on their side), they will try to sign the player (who’s probably 30) who is currently blocking Odegaard’s path into the team. Lesson: Give yourself the breathing space and get the backbone to make the changes needed

4) The final problem that runs through everything is clearly the ownership. United fans will have a better view than me but the owners have ploughed loads of money into the team. What they haven’t done though is invest enough in the club’s infrastructure from a training ground / stadium perspective but also crucially from the perspective of the sporting management and approach.

Yes they have handed out big contracts to managers but they haven’t spend the time making sure the right people and approach were in place to build a sustainable sporting platform. They obviously don’t care as they are making enough money out of the club and that is a shame – not for me as I don’t support them – but it should not take that much effort to get this stuff in place and get the engine running again.

Anyway – that’s my summary of what I read across the mailbox on a continuous cycle every few weeks. Sort these 4 things out and I think Man United “are back” – but I’m sure others may point out other glaring lessons.

You’re welcome Jim


What can Man Utd achieve now?
What a spectacular weekend of Premier League football!!! It was goals galore across all the matches. Plenty of action, drama and top class entertainment.

Only three teams didn’t score this game week. Forest were desperately unlucky not to get a penalty, Sheffield United played the entire second half with ten men. And then there is Manchester United. Three shots, only one on target after scoring three goals in each of their two previous matches across competitions.

We’ve come to a point where we need to define what our objectives are for the reminder of the season. We are already out of the Carabao, almost out of the Champions League (I’m more certain of us losing to Bayern even if the other match ends in a draw).

Only the FA Cup to look forward to because we don’t look like we will end up anywhere near the top six, forget the top four in the league. The top three are all world class, Villa, Spurs and Newcastle all better than us. Chelsea despite their position are actually playing well but just not been able to eke out results. Brighton are comparatively better and by the end of this run of matches till Dec end, we will surely see ourselves well below them. So what is the objective for the reminder of this season?

I don’t want ETH to be sacked, I really liked what he did last season but our away form has still not improved and our home form has also gone for a toss. He is not helping himself, there seems to be no pattern or style of play and we are certainly not playing anything on the right foot. How many of our fans are actually confident that we can beat Chelsea this midweek. I’m definitely not one.

Is SJR coming in and if so when? Will ETH last the season? If he doesn’t do we have a replacement? Should we look at bringing in players in the Jan transfer window?

All in all this season is gone just like all these last 10 years.
Vasanthan Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India


What if Ange managed Man Utd?
When I watch games I often wonder what exactly makes one player better than another or one team better. We may think we know. We get ‘insight’ from pundits and ex-players and the often smart breakdown from people like a Michael Cox, Jonathon Wilson et Al. But while watching a game…

After watching the City/Spurs game it is clear a lot does depend on the manager. Giving players the confidence and trust to make decisions many managers would decry that, over time, allows players to fully utilize their latent skills.

Holding the ball a little longer to be able to play through the opposition or controlling the ball to play out from the back and retain possession to slowly apply pressure on your opponents.

It also requires players willing to do the hard work for as long as they are on the field.

We saw the same from Newcastle.

Both Spurs and Newcastle suffering large injury lists and with player missing through bans (albeit Spurs having the advantage of not playing Europe in midweek) continuing to confound the experts by winning points.

But we also saw the hard running from Liverpool and Arsenal on the weekend – not just sitting back on their laurels.

And then we once again saw the performance of United.

For whatever reason Ten Hag seems incapable of instilling the confidence and trust for his team to play at the higher level his players should be capable.

It’s why we see players dramatically improve or flounder once transferred.

Are United fans wondering what-if they had hired Postecoglou instead of Ten Hag?

Postecoglou deserves huge praise for giving everyone of his squad the feeling they can play to their best. And many, if not most, are repaying him.
Paul McDevitt


Wasn’t Pep sticking up for Arteta?
I think you got the Arteta comment a bit backwards, in the 16th conclusion.

Pep’s saying he won’t make a comment like Arteta has – because the League will fine him for it, like they have Arteta.

By doing so I think he’s actually standing up for Mikel – by agreeing with his assessment of incompetent refereeing.
Stijn (PSV is on 14w/14g in Netherlands) Amsterdam


Liverpool have their own Onana!
​After that madness of a game, I realised Liverpool found our very own Onana!

In Caohmin Kelleher, we have a keeper that is limp wristed, limp footed and induces panic every time the opposition attacks. Every Fulham attack resulted in a goal. I thought that was prime Real Madrid.

Kelleher used to be good – penalty saves, going all the way in Cups, etc. This season, it was all about spills, letting easy goals in, almost screwing up our Europa – EUROPA! – run. There was talk he wanted to leave for game time, though the way he is playing, I don’t know what team he will get into.

There are at least 2 – 3 more games to endure til Ali comes back. I’ll be watching games between my fingers til then.

Never buy keepers with weird names.


Still trying to figure out what’s so brilliant about a goalkeeper taking a short goal kick and passing it to the right-sided centre half, who then passes it to the right back, who passes it back to the right-sided centre half who returns it to the keeper, who then passes it to the left-sided centre half, who passes it to the left back, who then passes it back to the left-sided centre half, who returns it to the keeper, who then hoofs it upfield and loses possession. Anybody? Then you must love watching Spurs.
Guy Thomas, Breda


Why do Liverpool hate Spurs?
Good grief, what is Liverpool fans’ issue with Spurs? Yet another sarcastic message this morning putting Spurs down, this time by Aiden, Lfc. Some of this stems from the Diaz goal incident (not Spurs’ fault at all) and the fact Spurs had the gall to score a last minute winner against them. It seems to me that the likes of Aiden simply cannot handle any other team getting any sort of praise instead of Liverpool.

Spurs play out an entertaining draw yesterday and we just get his nonsense mail in (I bet Christmas is fun in his house). Were Spurs lucky? Yes they were but it is only the same as Liverpool being given the softest of fouls when Dias scored for City last week to avoid going 2 down. All teams are going to have to ride their luck against City given how good they are. I can only assume that Aiden cannot handle the fact that Liverpool went there last week and played out what was generally considered to be a very boring match vs what was served up yesterday.


Nice one Pep
​It was nice to see Pep in his post-match press conference say that City didn’t draw due to the referee’s mistake. It was a poor decision, but they happen and we have only ourselves to blame and to examine when asking why we didn’t get the three points. That’s the mentality that carried us to a Treble and 4 titles in 5 years, and starting to point fingers at outside elements like other clubs can only make us worse not better.

We’re not quite at the races yet this year but we’re still going well in the CL and in the title race. Hopefully the last few results will shake us out of the post-Treble complacency that Neville so brilliantly described on his podcast this week, and with the returning De Bruyne and the prospect of the World Club Cup coming this month then it could fire us forward in the same way that a Carabao Cup win is great for settingn up the last part of the season.
Paul, Manchester

MEDIAWATCH: Man City hit crisis point in third while Everton would rather be 18th than 12th


In favour of sin-bins
I read with interest the push to introduce sin bins into the Premier League. I’m hugely in favour.

Two or three years ago, sin bins for dissent were introduced into our “grassroots” league.

It was remarkable – yes, sometimes a team (you can imagine what sort of team) would go down to 8 or 9 players after a major hissy fit – but overall, it worked amazingly with both red and yellow cards reduced.

Expanding this also makes a lot of sense. Specifically, professional fouls, kicking the ball away, and obstructing/standing over free kicks (not retreating 10 yards immediately) would seem to warrant a proper punishment.

There is actually a strong argument to make any yellow card a sin bin – instant justice. The only issue is that we would likely move to a semi-permanent world of 9 vs 10 or some variant. Exciting for attacking, but problematic.

Not to pick on Man City, but a world where Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, etc get to sit out after “innocuous” professional fouls breaking up play in the oppo half finally get punished would surely be good for the game. The same also goes for the likes of Sean Dyche (and dare I say it Eddie Howe) and his more direct methods.

Food for thought – but given the current behaviour of players and managers, something surely has to be done.
Matthew (ITFC)


There will always be new Big teams
The ongoing debate about the Super League and whether or not the rest of the 92 teams would survive/flourish/go under is interesting and, as with all these things, nuanced. There is another angle tho that I don’t see mentioned, and that is the possible/inevitable creation of new ‘Big’ clubs. Allow me a (purely hypothetically-based) ramble:

Let’s say the traditional Big 6 (plus Newcastle) all sod off to join the European Cash Cow League, ignoring for now all the financial issues this would create. At this point in time, you could argue that Villa and Brighton are best placed to take advantage so let’s say they share the league for 3-4 years, almost but not quite becoming a Big 2. Plausible, right?

Then Scrooge McDuck decides to buy an English club. He can’t get one in the Super League because those owners aren’t selling, so he throws a dart at a map, buys Fulham and does a Chelsea, because he wants shiny trophies and has more money than sense. So now we have a Big 3
Smaug then decides he’s had enough hoarding gold in the Lonely Mountain, flies to and buys Burnley. They’re now richer than everybody else and bang! Big 4.

Bruce Wayne loves the South Coast and buys Bournemouth. That Big 4 is now a Big 5. Suddenly, all the trophies and prize monies are shared by the ‘elite’ 5 teams and the rest feed off scraps and the occasional lucky cup run. Sound familiar?

The Super League won’t solve the problem of big teams dominating everything, it will just reset the board and allow new teams to become dominant. Sure, it won’t happen overnight and will take years, but it is entirely feasible (fictional owners aside).

I personally think the best thing to do is say that if you’re playing in a European competition, you’re not allowed to participate in the domestic cups. It’s far, far too late to try and level the playing field for everybody but this way at least gives the so-called smaller clubs a good chance at silverware and European qualification. Luton will probably never win the Premier league, even without the Big 7, but they could very well make an FA or Coca-Cola Cup final, or win it.

Ok, ramble over, back to work. Thanks for reading
Clive (LFC)