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The new Fletch
Whilst not giddy with optimism for the season ahead, nor am I downbeat about United’s prospects, but I would like to take a moment to talk about the young man currently holding our very sketchy midfield together; Scott McTominay.
When he first came into the side, seemingly as part of some bizarre point scoring exercise by Jose, I didn’t think much of him. He wasn’t quick, he wasn’t overtly tenacious, didn’t seem a wonderful technician or a graceful, Carrick-lite passer of the ball. There were no obvious strengths to this young man. Then, with each passing game, he got steadily better and I realised that I’d seen this before.
16 years ago, Sir Alex introduced a young Scottish midfielder into the Manchester United first team and my mates and I were perplexed. Often shunted out to the right flank, he too lacked searing pace, wonderful technique or incisive passing ability. What on earth did Fergie see in him that we didn’t? As always, Sir knew best and we were fools as a few years later, Darren Fletcher was a key part of the squad. Never the star, not even necessarily in your first XI, but almost always starting the difficult away matches, he became a really important part of the setup and proved my, and many others, initial doubts wrong through hard work, application and tactical discipline. If it weren’t for unfortunate illness that blighted his later career, he’d have made many more appearances for the club.
I expect McTominay to follow in his footsteps, relying on a lack of weaknesses and hard work rather than abundant natural ability. We’ll have flashier players, ones that sell more shirts abroad, but like Fletcher, I think he’s a cult, terrace hero in the making. Could probably do with signing him some help, mind…
Lewis, Busby Way
Cash for clicks
The latest to chime in is Pogba’s brother. If the story dies out for a few days, the next rent a quote is wheeled out.
This says to me, along with all long running transfer “sagas” is that there is something within the image rights of the player that allows their image and name to be used in generating clicks.
It’s the same with Neymar and many others. It appears to be dead, then it chirps up again. Is there anyone out there who has an insight into the image rights contracts for players and what it demands and entails?
I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a clause entered into certain players contracts that allow the use of their name to generate online advertising revenue.
Happy to be proved wrong, but as with all contracts in football, no-one really knows any of the detail, which will always give rise to conspiracy theories. I mean, who believes Alexis Sanchez is on £500,000 per week?
Fat Man (Add Alexis Sanchez, Man Utd, Neymar, Pogba – this mail is clickbait gold!)
When is a trophy not a trophy?
Yesterday I wrote in about whether the Community Shield and the Super Cup should be considered “major honours”. In rereading the afternoon mailbox, it occurred to me that there is one point very few people have mentioned (including me 🤦♂️):
The Community Shield allows 6 substitutions per team in 90 minutes. This makes the competition different, and more “friendly-esque”, to any other trophy competed for in European football. Not only is this different from the UEFA Super Cup, it’s also different from the other national equivalents in Germany, France, Italy and Spain. So, despite what I wrote earlier, there is actually a pretty strong argument to class the Community Shield a friendly, if you are so inclined.
Personally, I still think the Community Shield should be counted and taken seriously. In a parallel with the transfer window deadline, even though England are on their own and everyone else does it differently, I think those rules make the most sense; everyone else should align with best practice. The Super Cup would have benefited from having 6 substitutions, and the vast majority of fans would have preferred to go straight to a shootout on 90 minutes (by the time we left the stadium last night, it was around 1:30AM local time).
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
…I don’t think Liverpool and their fans are being disingenuous when they count their trophies and leave out the Community Shield.
Reasons why Community Shield is not counted but the Super Cup is:
I. Community Shield:
a. It allows SIX subs during normal time, and hence it is more of a friendly than a competitive match.
b. It goes to penalties right after 90 minutes, again just like a pre-season friendly.
c. Just a few years ago, it could be a ‘shared’ trophy in case of a tie. That’s just weird.
d. It also allows a non-winner of a trophy to enter in it. If its a one-off match that gives out a trophy, at least it needs to be between two Champions. Make it PL winner vs the Championship winner if all domestic trophies were won by one team.
e. They themselves call it a shield, and not a trophy to differentiate whats real and whats not (Ok, one this one I am joking… but only a bit)
II. Super Cup does none of the above making it a proper football match with the same competitive rules that are worthy of any final.
Having said that, I know LFC fans and ex-players alike wanted to win the community shield this year desperately, so did Klopp, and so did I… Why!? Because it’s a match versus our current rivals who we have some bad blood with in the recent past and I wanted to win it even more after I remembered the way the City players sang the mock version of Allez Allez mocking LFC. (And they call us Unbearables)
And finally, remember all the tweets and whatnots when Man Utd fans were singing gleefully that they now have 45 major trophies after they won Europa League a couple of years ago, one more than Liverpool…? And today magically they want to include the Community Shield as a major trophy? A bit disingenuous that don’t you think?
Nikhil, LFC, Chicago
Watched the UEFA Super Cup and was impressed not necessarily by the officiating – we are the same species and generally have the same flaws, specifically 2 eyes too close together to see a player kick a ball 70 meters away and also be able to see the receiving players position at the exact time of kicking said ball! – dumb rule.
I thought the ref was really calm, let the game flow and was not over sensitive to the physical nature of the men’s game compared to the women’s game (one of the big fears of most men who play the game that argue against women officials).
The big difference I noticed was how less aggressive the players were towards the Ref, and that was good to see. The swearing was certainly less apparent towards the ref and although (Azpilcueta to name one) some players initially went to over react – as players do (the immature little babies) – when will they work out the Ref will NOT change the decision – they then stopped themselves once they remembered it was a women ref and reverted to trying to look intimidating by standing over the ref (yes you Azpilcueta) and saying ‘HOW’ repeatedly, hahaha that was wonderful.
Just goes to show you footballers are excused all the time – heat of the battle boll*cks to excuse acting like animals – control yourselves you bunch of slack jaws!
I believe we should use more woman as referee’s – the standards will be similar, certainly won’t be any worse than the men ref’s after seeing the Super Cup – but finally – maybe – we have an answer to the endless disgusting abuse and intimidation of ref’s that blights the game.
And the comments about keeping up with the pace of the game – are you for real, the ref from the Super cup looked fitter than a lot of the men ref’s i have seen at the top of the men’s game. There are difficult decisions in every game and both men and women get them right and wrong – no difference – roll on the women refs, make all those immature, abusive players and fans just SHUT UP and let the rest of us enjoy the game.
Joe (played and refereed games – just get on with it and stop complaining you bunch of moaning basta*rds – is that why men get the grumpy tag!)
Champions League for champions?
I’m not sure where I saw it now but apparently some people think the Champions League should only contain domestic champions. There are several issues with this idea. Can you just imagine the number of ridiculous thrashings? The New Saints, Welsh champions, just (as I’m writing) got beaten 9-0 over two legs by Ludogorets, champions of Bulgaria, in Europa League qualifying. Imagine them coming up against Barcelona or Man City or Juventus. There would be a long period of this before eventually the money from the Champions League meant that the clubs from smaller countries had invested and improved enough to compete – which is good for these nations that often don’t even get represented beyond Europa League qualifying. However then comes another issue: The New Saints are already very dominant in Welsh football, and it’s the same for many other smaller nations, so that one Champions League team would get richer and richer and increasingly dominate their own league. This is effectively why in the major leagues the same few teams are always in the Champions League and all this would do is create a similar lack of competition in smaller leagues.
This is rather hastily written so if you find any major flaws in my argument, feel free to let me know. Or if you just disagree entirely.
Bit late to this but I’ve just seen a replay of the penalty incident last night and the dive from Abraham and I was appalled.
I appreciate the law is in place that it was not a clear and obvious error and that’s why it wasn’t overturned, but this rule has done and will set a dangerous trend in modern football. It will encourage referees in doubt to blow their whistle and let VAR finalise the decision. Which is fine if they come to the correct decision eventually. If VAR cannot correct a decision on the basis that there is the slightest contact then it has set a dangerous precedent for more terrible decisions that will decide vital football games.
Since when has common sense completely been removed from officiating? I can accept a referee making an incorrect call on a split second decision but I can’t accept ‘specialist’ referee looking at every angle for two minutes and still making an incorrect and laughable decision.
This isn’t the football that I grew up with and loved. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t got many other interests so I’m stuck with it, but football is slowly becoming more and more santised and being drained of emotion and drama and it’s painfully sad to watch.
Might start going fishing on a Saturday afternoon instead (nothing to do with the fact United are shite)
Peter Chapman, MUFC
…Seamus’s idea from yesterday’s mailbox is very similar to something I’ve been boring a few people with recently in relation to VAR but unfortunately I think he might just underestimate the tribal nature of all of these “football specialist” sub-consciously adjusting their opinions based on either allegiance (think Lawro) or enmity (think Mourinho). The 70% limit he proposed before being able to overturn a decision would help combat this but it would still be liable to some form of corruption.
My take on VAR is this:
I like the idea of VAR, I like the immediacy of VAR in rectifying mistakes ‘in match’ but I do not like the delay or occasional fine margins that VAR relies on to make their decision. So instead of trying to completely re-invent the wheel, why not just put a clock of 15 seconds on any VAR intervention? That’s 15 second that each of the 3 VAR officials would get to review the incident and a simple 2-1 majority of ‘clear and obvious error’ would be enough to overturn the on-field decision.
The ref (and assistants) gets a single split second to view an incident and until recently they were expected to (and usually did) get the vast majority of them correct. By allowing the 3 separate VAR officials a relatively short time limit, one that is still significantly longer than the ref gets, to determine if the ref made a mistake is in my mind the fairest solution the main gripe of VAR while still maintaining the authority of the on-field officiating team.
Stick a countdown clock up on the big screen inside the stadium (or spoken by the announcer in the style of a NASA launch) and you might even have a bit of craic with the whole thing.
Kerry Culchie (Nothing to see here)
Afternoon Guys. Long-time read etc.
The reason I’m writing in is following Dave, MUFC, Leeds’ email around mental health and the issues with the wider community, and in particular, his point that the individual plays a big part in pulling themselves out of a hole. Speaking from experience, it’s easier said than done, I get that, but sometimes all you need in life is a change ,something new to provide a new bright spark to help you out when you most need it.
I can’t recommend enough a book called “When To Jump: If The Job You Have Isn’t The Life You Want” – it’s not a pretentious self-help book, just a series of stories and anecdotes from people that have done what a lot of us wish we had the balls to do, but often don’t due to societies constraints. Reading it allowed me to make my own small, initial jump into something new, and it honestly has given me a whole new outlook on life. It’s not the sole answer, but if you feel ‘stuck in a rut’ it might just provide a tiny bit of inspiration, and who knows what that seed could become.
None of us deserve to be unhappy. Have a great week guys.
A very different fan experience.
Reading through mails today and got to the finale regularly and today actually occupied by EdQTR. I was rapidly scrolling down through this mail when something caught my attention. Farsley Celtic no less. A team based on the outskirts of Leeds a 20 min drive from where I live. I briefly followed Farsley for a few years until my 18 year wait for a season ticket at my beloved Reds came good.
Roundabout this time Farsley had ridden the crest of promotional waves. This over-achievement had brought with it ground and other regulations which cost. For a club getting attendances of 100 plus this was an Icarusian Paradox. In 2010 they went bust because they lived the dream of reaching for the stars but flew too close to the sun and were expunged from the leagues to Hades or whoever that lowest league sponsor was. This is my story anyway.
Last Friday I went to Anfield and watched Liverpool v Norwich with all the attendant hyped commercialism and general shite that now comes with top flight footy. Some great football nevertheless. Only to notice the next day on the internet that Farsley were back in the Northern Premier League. Still awake?
*THEN POGBA ATE MY HAMPSTER*
Are you back? Anyway my first Farsley match in years last Tuesday v Southport. I found my old and now musty blue scarf similar to a Citeh scarf really except it was fabric and not an unrecyclable polycarbonate. Driving with all windows open to refragrence the talismanic neck garment ready to meet an old friend. Had they changed?
The intimidating Thostle Nest ground name has sadly gone. It is now The *Citadel*. Wooooo! Oh and they no longer play in blue but green and white hoops which actually makes some sense but ruined my dress code.
I stood for the entire match with a die-hard Southport fan from CleckHuddersFax (the Yorkshire hinterland) chewing the football cud for 90 minutes learning from someone who knew the league inside out. We chatted and laughed together behind the dugouts whilst eavesdropping on the manager’s Pearl’s of Wisdom of the “‘Ave it” kind and berating the poor Liner constantly. I was in it!
Farsley were beaten 3-0 in a fiercely competitive match. It was very much 10 personal and very physical battles as opposed to the very tactical games of Premiership chess that is often served up. No Airs and Grace’s. I counted 4 lost balls (the ground is on a windy hill) and 3 retrieved in game time. Two very different game experiences. Both very enjoyable in their own ways. That’s it really. Oh and of course “There’s only one F in Farsley”.
David LFC/FCFC (do I get the finale spot?)