Ole is a ‘genius’ too, AWB solution at Man Utd and more mails…

Editor F365
Aaron Wan-Bissaka Man Utd

Get your mails on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Man Utd or anything else to theeditor@football365.com…


Not perfect but…
…No United fan or pundit can realistically say this United side is the finished product, in games we look nervy, we dont keep the ball well enough and we play in spells. And all that blame goes to OGS. However, what does always get overlooked is, that if a team reflects its manager then clearly OGS has some serious metal to him because our away record is ridiculous and the number of points we win from behind is almost double the next best team. The team has a positivity we can turn it round and heads dont drop.

The media has their narrative – Tuchel brings on Kante and he’s a genius, OGS brings on Matic who sets up Lingard and not a mention of being tactically astute. Uniteds subs impact games because OGS keeps the squad morale high and engaged. Lets not knock it, its not something every manager can do as United are well aware of over the last few years.
King Kong Bundy


Man Utd will only improve…
This is just a a short mail to say that, United are playing poorly at the moment. Our players have not yet gelled and that fluency that comes from working together day in day out is not yet there.

We’re still winning, we’re only off the top of the table due to goal difference. In the past it has been said that the clubs that become champions are the ones that still find a way to win when things are not going well… I think we will only improve as time goes by and that is an exciting prospect.
Simon Manchester (Despite that I still think Chelsea will win this season – but there will be great games and contests along the way)


Let’s just be absolutely clear about this, West Ham are a very good team. If they had Antonio on the pitch, they would have scored more than the 1 goal that they got. Having said that, United should have scored more.

I don’t know why Ole’s subs are being criticized. Pogba was lazy in the second half. West Ham were playing on the counter and Pogba was consistently giving the ball away in dangerous areas. I was actually surprised that Ole had the guts to haul him off. The game is not as easy as replacing a defensive player (McFred) with a forward midfielder. Just look at Tuchel. Control the ball and someone will pop up to score eventually. Removing one of McFred would have meant Pogba in the center again and leaving United really vulnerable. The substitutions were spot on, given the squad. Matic is far better on the ball than Fred but only when the other team is more likely to camp in their half.

Without Rashford and partially Martial, United seem to have lost that little bit of extra pace to break with speed. I agree Wan Bissaka needs to be given time off. Probably best to bring Dalot in the Carabao Cup and take it from there if he performs well. Overall, a good performance against a good team away from home.
Hassan (Day of Redemption for De Gea and Lingard)


You underestimate Solskjaer
Lionel makes some interesting points in the morning mailbox, but you see, you guys underestimate Ole far too much, “none of these players have the character/energy levels to press from the front”. Now, they are many things wrong with claiming Greenwood lacks the energy levels or that Fernandes lacks the character, but did you ever think, maybe it’s an order from the coach?

Remember that time when Ole said he discusses his tactics with his father and everyone was mocking him? Well, his father brought up a very genius idea,  ‘if the teams don’t want to come out, why don’t you let them come at you’, you know when you are discussing something with your 5 year old daughter, something she doesn’t really know much about but she just brings up a genius solution you didn’t think about, that is it.

So, instead of pressing a team like west ham that don’t want to come out in the first place, united leave them until they advance to the middle third, here, gaining possession becomes advantageous, as under false security, they have advanced up the field and left spaces behind, so through passes can find runners in behind and goals can then be scored. Go back and watch games from last season, this plan has borne fruits against stubborn opponents like burnley and sheffield united; while you are at it, notice that against teams that want to come out like chelsea, city and liverpool, united have pressed high from the off, that is also as Ole wishes.

As for Daniel, I am not sure what to say, Fred is very important, f365 should do an article to tell you why, the statistics should be there for all to see, if I were to tell you, it will lengthen my mail, Mctominay played an absolutely amazing pass that led to the equaliser, he is already a brilliant CM capable of everything just as Ole likes it, but he lacks one very important thing which Matic has in abundance, forward passing. From his showings this season and especially yesterday, he has been working on that, and if he can adds that to his game, then United should be looking for a DM to partner him as he will be the first name on the team sheet. If that is what you have to say about Wan Bissaka, then I am not sure which game you were watching.

And my last point, you should find out what Ole has said about Pogba’s assists this season. But beyond that, did it really seem to you like an odd choice for a team that wanted to win that a player with a good record as Lingard since the start of the second half of last season was brought on to replace a tiring winger when his team where in search of a goal? When Matic came on it became clear Ole was going for an away point you say? You forgot to add “to me” and to remove “for all to see”. I don’t deny that the defensive work rate of Lingard and the game reading ability of Matic gave united extra solidity and balance but I am sure Ole ordered Lingard to stay in between the lines and put in Matic for his ability to find teammates with fantastic line breaking passes. That happened soon after, here individual quality comes in, does he dribble past his man and create for Ronaldo, does he score himself, does he give it to Bruno to do the job, as far as the coach is concerned, that is all his business. It’s okay to criticise Ole, but at least, make it fair, he deserves that much.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

Man Utd won despite the bad luck
No doubt there will be a lot of mails on penalties in the Utd game but I’d rather like to gloss over that and pick up on some other points that will get less coverage…. I just can’t not talk about the penalties first though, sorry….

Luke Shaw was unlucky but unfortunately for him and utd that is a 100% clear cut penalty by the rules. All that is annoying is the use of un-natural position as having arms behind your back is also un-natural.

Ronaldo appeal no.1. Pretty clear cut for me and most others including Dermot Gallagher. I think what cost utd was a great con by the defender. He raised his arms as if to say I’m stepping away, before he made that heavy contact and he did not pull out at all. Very sneaky. The later penalty appeal also looked very giveable. One of those that had the ref given, VAR would not have over-ruled. Ronaldo may have been going down before contact but that does not make it not a foul (see Pogba foul given on Zouma earlier in the half).

So, all in all, Utd were unlucky on all 3 of these and despite that managed to win what on paper was a relatively tough game (and the goal conceded was bad luck too with that massive deflection – not to say West Hams chances didn’t warrant a goal though). A narrow win could so easily have been comfortable but was nearly a draw.

And weirdly, even as a utd fan after all those decisions, I still feel like the penalty decisions being made this season are the fairest they’ve ever been. Last season was quite painful and previous years were far too subjective. It is getting better…

On the actual football. Utd were a little lethargic early on but did kick into a higher gear after going behind. Frustrating for it still to take a goal to get them going for yet another comeback win. Encouraging however that they can play like that and to keep the away run going.

The biggest concern that they need to solve is the number of cheap giveaways and brain farts such as Maguire dribbling along the byline towards his own goal to present the hammers with a good chance to score. The passing at the back has improved but sometimes you do have to put a boot through it and concede a throw or a corner. For the possession and control utd had, we should have restricted the hammers to a few pot shots from outside the box. Instead, we did allow them much better chances than we should have done. It feels that all 4 of our defenders have great individual qualities, they are just not as disciplined or cohesive as just about every other defence in the league. I know AWB will be labelled as a defender who can’t go forwards for many more years but I have eyes and have seen how much he’s improved there already. The media also took a long time to realise Shaw was good as it was easier to copy-paste the same story. I realised it before his leg break. McFred also seem to lack that cohesion and discipline. Minor improvements to these issues could make major differences to our goals conceded column. This can only happen gradually but with the quality of Varane added it finally looks like we might see some improvement here where there has been none for too long. It is quite a stretch to think Varane can improve McFred much though, that might rather need a blank cheque.

I was also impressed to see De Gea come out of his six yard box to claim the ball once. I think he’s starting to learn off his competition.  A long way still to go on that though Dave but you’ve learnt to save a penalty so there’s nothing stopping you now buddy.

I thought Pogba was immense. His ability to hold onto the ball and get away from 2 or 3 opposition players hanging onto him was great.

Good to see Lingard get redemption for his blunder last week too. It would be great to have Sancho in form on the pitch, Cavani off the bench and more solidarity at the back. Utd are looking good but need that little bit more to challenge.

In conclusion, a hard won 3 points despite the bad luck that will do the confidence a world of good.
Jon, Cape Town (one thing ignored on utds loss last week was the plastic pitch. While not an excuse for losing, it is a big home advantage and I think other teams may drop points there too).


Aaron Wan-Bissaka – A solution
I have to say I really don’t get the recent surge of complaints about AWB in the right back position for United.  The clamour for Dalot to start clearly ignores Dalot’s previous performances – sometimes excellent going forward, sometimes decent defensively but as prone to lapses in concentration as Wan Bissaka is.

The issue with AWB from most people seems to be his perceived lack of attacking threat.  The fact that he is constantly compared to Alexander Arnold is ridiculous – TAA is not normal, he is not a normal top level full back, his attacking contributions are incomparable so to measure this facet of AWB’s game against him is disingenuos at best.

What you do get with Wan Bissaka is exceptional reading of one on ones, unparalleled ability to nip a toe to the ball and win it back when it is seemingly not possible, good covering of runs (usually), interceptions and excellent pressing / closing down.  I have heard it mooted that he could be moved to CB at some stage but this ignores the main flaw in his game – which is not his crossing – he tends to switch off when the ball is on the other flank and wingers and midfielders are often able to breeze in the meet crosses with him trailing 5 yards behind having not grasped the danger.

Which leads to something that I would try if I was Ole – take Fred out and move AWB to a holding midfield role in the true Makelele sense of the role.  Not to imitate Kante who is a magnificent footballer in every sense and another one-off who others really can’t be measured against.  I mean in the proper Makelele role where the sole purpose is to cut off attacks in the middle of the park, drift over to support or cover the full backs and lay off 5 and 10 yard passes to the other midfielders who can then take the ball forward.

While I don’t believe he would be a world beater in there because of some of the current limitations he seems to have he could be an excellent screen in front of the back four, cover for the full backs when they move forward and would be an upgrade on Fred in that position, more of a physical presence, quicker and vastly superior in the tackle.  I would definitely give it a go because his defensive attributes are excellent when faced up directly with an opponent and that is something he would encounter more in a CDM role rather than at full back where so much of the game is about covering when the ball isn’t on your flank and getting forward.
Mangor United, Belfast


VAR balances out
After huge plaudits last week, VAR decided to even things up this week and had a shocker in the WHU/MU game.  Whilst an advocate for it, my biggest concern was that referees would abdicate their responsibility and hope that VAR would make the decisions for them, unfortunately those operating the system are reluctant to call their mate out and support their errors more often than not.

The first three mails this morning all referenced Martin Atkinson, what I couldn’t find was the one from West Ham fans bemoaning the non award for AWB wiping out Soucek (possibly off side?) when Atkinson awards a free kick to Utd, presumably for Soucek falling on Wan Bissaka.  This and the three Utd claims were all upheld by the VAR.

I try to be as impartial as I can be (as if) and always ask myself, “Would I want that if it was my team?”

Soucek – absolutely.
Ronaldo (1) –  the defender puts his leg across him and impedes his progress, penalty.
Ronaldo (2) – whilst I haven’t seen close ups of this, the defender does appear to put his arm across and pull him back, penalty
Ronaldo (3) – the art of running requires each leg to progress ahead of the other, he plays the ball with his left foot and the right leg doesn’t move whilst his weight then takes him over- dive!
Shaw – harsh but the ball strikes the arm, penalty.

So the VAR got two (imho) right and three wrong, yet all the criticism is for Atkinson who did the same without the aid of cameras.  Strangely (not really), the MOTD pundits agree with me, who’d have thought that, a couple of ex pro’s coming to different conclusions than somebody who’s never played the game!
Howard (put Lawro in charge of VAR – LFC cakewalk) Jones


Tactics Tom
When Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea I remember hearing that he wanted a Barcelona in blue. Well what he’s got at the moment is more like Big Sam’s Bolton than Barcelona.

I mean look at what his second half line up was yesterday. Three cbs, three midfielders, none of whom would ever come close to being a number 10, then two up front, both over 6 foot.

Then look at the goals as well. 2 goals from set pieces (that’s definitely Big Sam like) and a deflected long range shot.

Dont get me wrong, his tactics are effective, but they’re boring. Look at the players he’s got in the squad. Callum Hudson-Odoi can’t seem to get a game. I can’t see Zyiech playing in his preferred 11 either.

If Chelsea fans are happy then fair play, it’s their team and their opinion matters much more than mine. However, I don’t think they’re ever going to win the hearts of the neutrals.
Bernard MUFC


Crystal Palace
It was interesting reading the Sunday mailbox, it really can’t be that often a team who loses 0-3 comes out of a game with the same credit as the team that beat them. Funny old game.

*Actually, there is one fairly regular occurrence of a side being praised for being heavily beaten by a side with far loftier ambitions, and that’s FA Cup Third Round weekend. Under Roy Hodgson, Crystal Palace regularly faced up to encounters with Champions League sides in a manner that was somehow both timid and apathetic, combining the sense that the longer the game stayed goalless the greater their chances, with a habit of conceding early goals. However, things are different under Patrick Vieira. I’ve said on several previous occasions that the return of supporters to grounds would lead to teams adopting a more fan-placating approach, and Vieira embodies this two ways: a greater desire to have possession and attack (balanced with defending), and rallying cries through his media comments. Ultimately Palace still lost, but as F365’s man in Japan said, we’d rather lose 0-3 having tried to get ourselves back into the game than lose 0-3 having played to only lose 0-1.

*Vieira stuck with the starting XI that had trounced Tottenham Hotspur last week, meaning Christian Benteke was preferred to Odsonne Edouard up front, and it nearly paid off early on. Liverpool’s defence, while not makeshift by any stretch of the imagination, was not full strength. James Milner was tasked with marking Wilfried Zaha, the player he once said was his toughest ever opponent; Milner was also sent off a couple of years ago against the Eagles for a pair of fouls on the Ivorian. At left-back, Kostas Tsimikas is a good player, but Andy Robertson is obviously better. Sandwiching an imperious Virgil van Dijk between him and debutant Ibrahima Konate made a lot of difference to both players, but this Palace side is now multi-faceted enough to try different lines of attack.

*Earlier this year, Doc Brown was a guest on the Football Cliches podcast and he drew a parallel between the language used to describe ethnic minorities and the language used to describe football clubs outside the traditional elite. The upshot of it for football teams was that scoring from set pieces is the preserve of “lesser” sides, even though, like most things in football, it is plainly not the case:

*The Eagles more than held their own through this game, but at key moments didn’t quite get the rub of the green. In the first half, Benteke was subtly by cynically tripped by Tsimikas so he couldn’t attack a cross, something that was missed by the officials and not checked by VAR. Even if the penalty Palace might have been given wasn’t scored, there’s always a possibility Liverpool don’t go straight up the other end and score. Later on, the officials don’t think Jordan Henderson wrestling Zaha to the ground is a foul, so play continues and Tyrick Mitchell trips another Liverpool player. The free kick leads to a corner, which leads to Mo Salah’s goal. Edouard managed to get half a step on Konate but couldn’t beat Alisson, in part because Konate was trying (and failing) to grab his arm instead of win the ball by fair means.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, there’s no point being too disappointed about a defeat to Liverpool; as with Chelsea on the opening day, the Merseyside Reds will beat teams by more goals, and Palace will lose other games by more than that. Still, if there was ever a game to use as a rebound, it’s Brighton & Hove’s visit to Selhurst Park next Monday. It’s likely Edouard will get his first start, to see how Albion’s defence copes with his knack for finding pockets of space in good shooting positions.

*The Athletic ran a piece over the weekend about “lighter touch” refereeing, and yesterday, Cristiano Ronaldo provided several opportunities to showcase the new approach to officiating. For at least a couple of his penalty claims, he tried to initiate contact with an opponent, in the style of a basketball player, instead of actually being fouled.

*Elsewhere in officiating controversies, Leicester City were a bit annoyed they had two goals ruled out by VAR because Harvey Barnes was ruled offside and interfering in Robert Sanchez’s eyeline. The MOTD2 panel pointed out that actually, Sanchez was looking a completely different direction. The point that seemed to be missed was that Barnes was stood there in order to prevent Sanchez having a fair chance to leave his line and claim the ball. This is another form of minor cynical play that could probably do with no longer being part of football.
Ed Quoththeraven