How the Shaw, Wan-Bissaka narratives cloud our judgement

Date published: Friday 14th May 2021 2:27 - Editor F365

Shaw F365

Keep your mails coming to


Ole must learn how to use his squad
A deserved win for the scousers and their fate is largely in their own hands now – well done (through gritted teeth). Rather than focus on the events of the game as you have all covered in depth, I want to raise a serious concern that Ole has not learnt a crucial lesson from the end of last season.

The only thing I will mention that others have also said is how stupid it is when teams do that stupid goal kick with 2 defenders on the edges of the 6 yard box. Even more stupid if you do it against a great pressing team with that being probably their biggest strength right now – nice of us to give your strikers some confidence for your crucial run in, you can thank us later. Or don’t.

Last season when footie returned, Utd (and many other teams) had the same problem of facing 2 to 3 games in a week. This is not a new problem. Last season it was thrust upon teams and they happily accepted the challenge to get back to playing. This season they also knew from the start that it was going to be a more condensed season and anyone still in cup competitions was going to have this situation.

My point? Ole can complain about not having the same squad depth as City but so can everyone else in the league. Liverpool and Leicester in particular have had crippling injury lists for large chunks of the season, other teams have also had Covid outbreaks to deal with and have had to utilise their squads. The lesson Ole has not learnt is that the fringe players, Amad, Shoretire, Bailly, Williams, Tuanzebe and a few more cannot be expected to step up for games when they’ve barely played. Also, a team like we played against Leicester is always going to struggle as they haven’t played with each other in games – it’s the same as happens to England in friendlies when they change the whole team at half time and expect the fringe players to be able to prove themselves in a team of other fringe players. While this is no excuse for the Liverpool loss, I feel that had Donny and the players above got a handful more starts and 30 mins off the bench instead of 3 or 4 mins a month then they might be up to speed to be able to step in and the over-played first XI who play every game would not have looked as far off the pace as they did against Liverpool. Let’s not forget that they also looked well off the pace against Roma but their arrogance and below par performance was hidden by the fact they went through in the two-legged tie.

Last season Ole lost 2 semi-finals with the overplaying of XI players the biggest factor for me. This season he has a better and bigger squad and only has one final to lose and nothing left to do in the league other than possibly lose second spot yet he still relies too heavily on mainly XI players. Remember the other similarities with last season too – in the games we played with a much changed XI (as on Tuesday) we still brought on those forward players that supposedly had been rested. If you’re going to rest them then don’t even put them in the matchday squad. They should be at home. Resting.

Let’s just take Donny as an example. Clearly he was bought to play for the first team and not one for the future as some of the other arrivals might be. Across a full season with games coming thick and fast utd have played 58 games. Donny has played 14 games from the start with only 3 starts in the league. Fred, meanwhile has played 41 games from the start. I actually like Fred despite some big errors he’s made but surely Donny should have eaten into his game time so that we at least knew at this point whether Donny was a decent footballer or not. Donny should have had a run at some point of at least 5 games from the start to show what he can do. Now we sit at the end of a long season with a load of fringe players who we still don’t know if they are good enough to make it or not.

A squad needs managing, you don’t rest your first XI, you need to make sure each individual has a rest at some point in the season and by resting the key players for one game here and there you have very little impact to the overall team performance. It’s also good to have slightly different personnel and ways of playing to keep opposing teams guessing.

Learn your lesson Ole, the board are not going to buy 6 new 100 million pound players for you and even if they did, would you learn to rotate or just bench the ones these replace and overplay the shiny new toys?
Jon, Cape Town (Ole is still doing a great job, improving the team and the playing style. Apart from trying to win silverware this season, next season may be the first one he’s under some real pressure to improve on this one).


Well that was more like it…
Let me start by saying a big thanks to Arsenal for giving LFC that extra little shot of adrenalin going into last night’s encounter when they managed turnover Chelsea on Wednesday.

Would we have had the same performance and outcome if we had played when originally scheduled ? ….part of me thinks not.

The table doesn’t lie – Man U have been the better team than Liverpool this season.

However Liverpool still remain the better team in my mind, particularly when considering players returning that have missed most of the season.

Comparisons of best 11’s are always subjective, but it is clear to many that Liverpool possess superior quality in the defensive aspect of the game and I include defensive midfield in that.

Out of the 6 positions (goalkeeper / back 4 / DCM) you can only really construct a case for Shaw and Maguire to be included from Man U.

Shaw has been great this season, better that Robertson, but Andy has suffered slightly by not having the best centre half in world football playing inside of him.

Maguire may well be selected alongside VVD in the conversation on the best centre-halves but he’s not the better left sided centre half out of the two.

I believe that neutrals would recognise that the remaining positions are filled by Liverpool players:

Allison > Henderson or De Gea (appalling technique from Henderson for the 4th last night – I’ve looked a number of times but I still can’t see the rope tied to him that meant he couldn’t come outside of his 6 yard box)


Fabinho > Fred / MacTominey / Matic

When it comes to the attacking 5 positions it’s a far closer debate, one that I’m not even going to attempt to go through.

All I would say is that Greenwood looks an absolute worldie in terms of his balance and technique – I fear what he may be able to achieve in a Man U shirt in his career.

The core point of this mail is that without a quality defensive foundation it is pretty challenging to win titles in the modern game – last night’s game clearly exposed that.

If Man U want to bridge the gap to their city rivals in the league then they need to sort their defensive spine out – they need to say ‘Yes Ndidi’ (to which Leicester would say ‘No, not on your nelly’).

City identify a defensive gap and they plug it with Dias who has to be close to player of the season. Let’s see who Man U go for to solve their perceived quality gap at centre-half – will they do a city and pay more but for the right quality or will they do an Arsenal and spend mid-range and not solve the problem ? (Mustafi being the classic example).

Will close now – I have my Man U supporting best man staying over at the weekend and I need to plaster the living room walls with the back pages from today’s papers.

Liverpool will likely fck this all up though by drawing away at WBA or, more likely, Burnley.

Ho Hum
Sparky, LFC

READ MORE: 16 Conclusions: Manchester United 2-4 Liverpool


Full-back bias
Another game against Liverpool, another error leading to a goal from vaunted left back Luke Shaw. Incredibly overrated season that says a lot for what we look for in our narratives. Shaw was a very, very promising left back at 17 that got a big money move to United and lost his way a bit following injuries, then gets overpraised for a passable season – it all feels very Micah Richards in 2011-12.

On the other flank, meanwhile, Aaron Wan-Bissaka just continues to rack up consistently excellent performances without much in the way of appraisal from all but United supporters, saving chance after chance against Liverpool, but has the blowtorch on him for any micro error that wouldn’t even be looked at for most other players.

Fair play to Trent Alexander-Arnold too for responding to the spotlight being on him by over the last month almost single-handedly dragging Liverpool from being completely insipid to just about half decent. True leadership material being demonstrated by him.


Devine Fish
Obviously the Neville commentary around Maguire’s injury has been covered, but a bit of (further) perspective: United’s back 4 last night cost approximately 17 times Liverpool’s. Equivalent injuries would have had United starting with Will Fish and Reece Devine.
KC (4th at best next season) 

Victor Lindelof, Dean Henderson and Fred


What do United fans want?
A question for the United fans, and a genuine one. What do you actually want when it comes to ownership? United over the last 10 years are the 3rd top spenders in the Premier League, only outspent by clubs with very different ownership models to the rest of the league. They’ve spent over £1.2bn on players and haven’t needed to sell players to generate that money, selling only £375m worth. Chelsea by comparison have raised over £875m in player sales.

I appreciate that the Glazers take money out of the club and that United potentially could spend even MORE money than they already are. But the Glazers bought the club to make a profit, as most owners do.

So what do the fans actually want? This is not a dig, its a genuine question. Do you want an owner like Chelsea or City? Where they will happily just throw money at the club and profit is not a major motive? Because as far as I can see every other ‘big 6’ club in England is in a similar position to United. They are run as a business to make money.

So United fans, and indeed any other fans, what is the solution? What is the ownership structure that we all aspire to. Because as far as I can make out, fans want some very professional talented business people to spend their time and energy maximising income for the club, but not make a profit out of it. Is that realistic?
Mike, LFC, London


Reduce Man Utd fan allowance
I’m surprised to see Andy (MUFC) writing back again arguing against doing anything to dissuade Manchester United fans from stopping games from taking place, the morning after Manchester United fans blocked a Liverpool coach with two cars like in some sort of gangster movie and slashed its tires/tyres. Perhaps Andy was hoping that his team would do the talking on the pitch on his behalf, and it didn’t happen, so he felt the need to reply anyway. Shrug. Guess Liverpool didn’t need any help in that regard, eh?

Andy paints a ridiculous strawman argument about expecting United to “form a militia”; I think adequately securing the stadium and adequately coordinating with police so that the risk of these incidents succeeding in preventing the match from taking place is what is expected. I am quite sure that there are literally rules in all competitions top-flight football clubs take part in which stipulate that they have this responsibility. These plans failing can certainly be a police failing rather than a club failing, but the fact that Old Trafford itself was so easily breached suggests that the club is not beyond reproach. I accept that beyond coordinating with the police and making them aware of the situation (threats against the club, social media posts/replies etc) it is primarily the police’s responsibility to actually put that into practice outside the ground.

But let’s take a step back – I’m not arguing only/specifically for a points deduction. If Andy or anyone else can think of a way to disincentivize the fans from trying this again (and again, and again), that might work better than a points deduction, that’s great, because I agree with Andy that it would be preferable to not resort to points deductions. I’m just not sure what that punishment would be, because any financial punishment against the club would absolutely certainly only incentivize this behavior. Just brainstorming here, but what about reducing that club’s fans’ away allocation for subsequent matches (once this is A Thing again)? The point is not ‘let’s try to find a way to take points away from Manchester United’, it is ‘let’s try to find a way to dissuade Manchester United fans from continuing to stop football matches from happening’.

As for the topic of points deductions, I’m afraid you’ve betrayed your ignorance there, Andy. Firstly because there have been other such cases of non-financial points deductions, and they would be interesting to read about. Secondly, in the Sion case, characterizing them as “cheating at football” is terribly inaccurate. The players and the fans did nothing wrong; the club got a points deduction. Sounds familiar?

Finally, I don’t want to digress into politics too much, but people are being/will be held responsible for their failures in the US capitol riots, and not only those who work for the police. I’m not sure how the Tottenham riots are really relevant because its a neighborhood rather than an event/location? I did enjoy you scoffing at my 2011 example of a points deduction and following it up with a random reference to a 2011 riot in London, though!
Oliver (“putting your unpaid intern to work” also makes you sound like a bit of a pr*ck, to be fair) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


See the positive, Roy
Strange chap, wants to be back in management and yet every week complains how a goal is ‘awful, shocking, lazy’. Sorry Roy, did you never concede a goal in a game you played? You got relegated FFS, why didn’t you do something about that? And one defeat is a crisis, need 4 or 5 players, not good enough, worlds apart.  Oh and doesnt like a high five or a hug from your manager after beating a league rival. How about this Roy, maybe you’re the weirdo and not everyone else thinks like that. He gets very boring very quickly.

I appreciate OGS not to everyone’s taste but he takes the positive from everything and is always learning. And Roy actually has a point, just his delivery is so alienating. But the last two games is probably a nice reality check that this team must evolve and add some quality. This summer strengthen the spine with a centre back, centre mid, centre fwd and bring room in from letting go Jones, Mata, Dalot, Perrieia, Lingard, De Gea. That allows three youth team players some game time this year and free’s up a lot of wages for new signings. See the positive Roy.


Schoolboy Ole
Imagine handing your city rivals the league title for the sake of a ‘derby’ that you end up losing. Schoolboy manager mentality, love it.. Take out the £85m tugboat and that crybaby Fernandes (Paddy did you good last night) and I suspect the real lack of quality in your team will shine through. All this talk of progress in a league race which has seen a 30 point drop off versus the last two seasons with four of the three of the top six massively underperforming.

Lastly an honourable mention to GNev who included Marcus Rashford at RW in his team of the season because of “emotion”. Played well there last night didn’t he Gar – what’s your excuse this time?

Next year will be fun 😊
Dazza, Dublin, LFC


Is the PL better this season than last?
Minty, LFC bemoans the collapse in quality in the Premier League as a reason why Man U are second Liverpool might get 4th. Surely, it’s the opposite. 3/4 of the European finalists are from the PL and it should have been 4 if Arsenal had realised what they need to do.

It’s been a mad season which has meant that teams have had to rotate or have suffered injuries but losing to Brighton (very well coached, decent team), Villa (same plus Grealish), Leeds (see Brighton) or Everton isn’t as surprising as it was a few years back. Even the teams down the bottom all have some star players and can bloody some noses. It’s been amplified a lot this year, but the main reason City have been so impressive is that the league now bats deep and there are only a handful of easy games.

Long may it continue, more “shock” results will make the league more congested and interesting, even for us whose team bore the life out of you due our dinosaur manager.
James (Bruce MOTM?! Who voted?!), NUFC


‘Poleaxed’ player tantrums
Players going down ‘poleaxed’, not getting a foul and play just going on around them. Absolutely adore it. You can see their child like brains thinking ‘hmmm been down a while now, nothing happening, cant just get up but I should do something’. Commence, limp, jog and then sprint to spit bile at the ref.

Please please PLEASE let this carry on. Like a 3yr old having their tantrum, just keep ignoring them, they’ll soon learn. Or do what they do in rugby, let physio come on and treat them whilst game carries on. Then the Physio can report back to the manager “yeah nothing wrong with him and he’s sorry he stayed down for 5mins whilst opposition scored.” It applies to everyone but honory mentions to – Pogba, Fernandes, Grealish, Son, Richarlison, Maddison, Mina, Zaha.


Erling Haaland looks like everyone
Erling Haaland looks like a girl my mate fancied in secondary school.
Robert, Birmingham. 


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