Four things Ole must change at Man Utd…

Date published: Wednesday 22nd September 2021 3:00 - Editor F365

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

We have put together a second Mailbox on Solskjaer and co. Get your mails in on any subject in to…


Four things Solskjaer must change…
Rather than engage further in the debate on Solskjaer’s competence or lack thereof, I@ve thought of a few things I’d like to see him change that I think would be beneficial but aren’t beyond what a ‘PE Teacher’ could accomplish.

  1. Make proactive substitutions – It’s pretty obvious when the team is struggling, it happens fairly often after all, but Ole has a tendency to wait before making subs by which time the opposition have usually scored. It feels a bit ‘rabbit in the headlights’ sometimes, like he can’t think of how to change the game so he just doesn’t. I’d like to see subs made to earlier to take control of a game rather than as a reaction to conceding.
  2. Have contingencies in place – He gets a lot of stick for not having a robust tactical plan but I don’t really have issue with that, however it would be nice to have contingencies for when the worst happens so the team doesn’t fall apart. So for instance  when we get a player sent off in an away European game there should be basic plan in place for the players to fall back on. Just simple stuff like full backs stay narrow, wingers drop back 15 yards, defenders look for the striker on the break. Similarly if we’re not winning a game with 5/10 minutes to go there should be a plan for getting that goal, all big guys into the box and overwhelm with crosses or whatever, just something.
  3. Rotate more – Ole definitely has his favoured first 11 and sticks to that as much as possible often regardless of the opposition. This is frustrating because it means his other players get very little game time and can’t ever quite capture match sharpness meaning when they do play they look laboured and disjointed. There is also an issue of exhaustion, he plays Bruno, AWB, Maguire, Rashford no matter what, even with injuries. We’ve seen from all these players periods when they look dead on their feet and they’ve become ineffective and the team suffers. Giving Bruno et al a rest once every 5 or 6 games I think would help massively across the whole season and move the team closer to a squad of first team players rather than the pronounced split between starting 11 and bench/reserve.
  4. Play youth more – this is a similar issue to rotation in that his squad management isn’t great. United currently have a very strong crop of academy players who are already at the stage where youth games aren’t enough to develop further but aren’t strong enough for a regular place in the first team. The only way to develop these lads into first team players is to give them minutes, by this I don’t mean getting the odd 10 minutes at the end of a dead rubber. He needs to start these lads once in a while or at least give a decent 30 minute sub appearances, using the EFL cup in the way that Klopp and Pep do would help with this.

Dave, Manchester


Just sell Henderson…
Dean Henderson has looked physically small and absolutely bang average every time he’s played for Man United.

Forget a January loan, let’s just sell him.

He makes a lot of noise in the media without backing it up on the pitch. I don’t remember Van Der Gouw saying he should play instead of Schmeichel.

I’d have De Gea every day of the week.
Silvio (good to hear Souness calling out Halfway-line Harry on the weekend) Dante


Spurs malaise
To the editor

It seemed churlish to complain after a 9 points from 3 games start to the season, but it was fairly clear to see that the summer had done nothing to reverse the significant issues at Tottenham from the Wolves game onwards. After back-to-back 3-0 loses perhaps timing is better to complain now. And unfortunately the issues are numerous and many difficult to fix in the short term.

  1. The manager. We of course have a duty to give Nuno some time. And yet, it seems fairly clear that Nuno was not the right person for the job. His defensive mindset, his lack of tangible success, and his recent failure to kick on with a decent Wolves side provide just three reasons he doesn’t offer much. He was never the tonic the team required after Mourinho’s poison. I suspect performances will get better but I have little hope that he will be the man to really get Tottenham back fighting for the top 4. I’ve been banging the drum for Potter all year – surely Spurs could have tempted him away from Brighton? While it’s still early, can anyone really say that Spurs would have been playing worse under Potter?
  2. Harry Kane. Knowing the perfect moment to sell world class players is incredibly difficult. It takes big balls to sell a player when they are seemingly at their peak. But Spurs have almost certainly missed their moment of maximum return in not selling this summer. As others have said, no-one won this transfer saga. Spurs are left with a player that is probably at least one of uninterested, injury prone, or passed his peak. And possibly all three of those. That is to take nothing away from one of the greatest strikers in Premier League history. But Levy played this extremely badly even if City weren’t willing to stump up £150m.
  3. Midfield. I’m not sure when the last time I saw Tottenham really dominant a midfield. We’ve had backs-to-the-wall wins (e.g. City) and incredible attacking wins (e.g. Man U 6-1). But we’re not dominating in the middle of the pitch. Hojbjerg is a very good player. But his number of tackles and interceptions sometimes mask the fact he’s not a dominant middle of the pitch player. He’s often caught out of position, fancies himself more as a box-to-box player than true defensive midfielder, and as such gives our defence much less protection than one might think. I still love him in the team but he needs a dominant player alongside him. If anyone thinks Skipp is the man to solve this problem then they haven’t been paying attention.
  4. Signings. Contrary to a recent article on this site, I’m not sure the signings have been particularly strategic. Although Romero was much needed. But we are still in the position where we have to play one of Dier, Sanchez, or Rodon when we were told last year that they were either not good enough or too raw. As above, the midfield has a real problem, possibly bigger than at CB. Bissouma is another player I’ve long said would make a huge difference. A new RB was needed and it’s very early days but Royal looks like not much of an upgrade on Aurier. We still don’t have a reserve striker and no-one that can create the type of creativity that Eriksen could has been brought in.
  5. Mentality. To a chorus of mockery from opposing fans no doubt, but there really is a mentality problem at Spurs and the new manager hasn’t changed that. Spursy may well be an actual thing. We were better than Chelsea in the first half but one goal conceded and we visibly gave up. It was clear the moment the goal went in that Spurs would never come back. And not just because Chelsea are good.  Poch did actually fix this mentality problem for a bit – despite not winning things. Spurs regularly scored last minute goals, came from behind to win, fought for the entire match.

So there are big problems here. This squad is clearly top half in terms of pure ability. It’s probably top 6 if you look at the players potential. But Leicester, West Ham, Villa, heck even Brentford and Brighton, seem to be able to extract more from their team.

I’m sure there will be better days but at the moment it’s feeling like it will be a very long season indeed.
Jon L, Kew


Harry Kane
Stevo, I’ll clear up your confusion over Harry Kane. The mistake you’re making is that Harry Kane is not a striker. He’s supposed to be one, he looks like one, it’s his position on the team sheet but Harry Kane is not a striker. Strikers spend at least some of their time in the box.  Strikers don’t pop up playing defensive midfield. If a team needs a striker then Harry Kane is not that man.

Either three managers have all agreed that the “best striker in the world” should have complete freedom to play wherever he wants or Harry Kane does not follow instructions. I’ve thought for a long time that despite his very impressive stats he’s a net negative to Spurs. He leads their assists because nobody else can assist because their striker isn’t where he should be.

He’s not a master of the dart arts either, he’s a genuine danger to opposition players and if football wasn’t so confused about preventing serious injury he’d spend a huge part of his career suspended. The thing he does where he sprints to push his back into a jumping player is disgusting, actually disgusting. Football needs to clamp down on this specific foul (because it is a foul) but anyone who is willing to risk a spinal injury to a vulnerable player to win a freekick (often in his own half) has no place on a football pitch.
SC, Belfast


Why fans should care less about finance…
It’s easy to get sucked into debate about how much money a club should spend on a player. Easy to discuss what a player is worth, how debt will cripple the club etc. But it’s largely a stupid exercise for the average fan for a couple of reasons.

1. Most of us don’t understand football finances. We think we do because we’re told player X cost X amount and is paid X wages but that isn’t really how football finance works. Almost all payment in football is structured over time rather than up front. That’s just one example. See also amortisation if you have insomnia.

2. We don’t have access to all the information needed to give an accurate account of the …. Accounts. If we did…people would not bother reading them because it’s confusing and boring.

The discussion is always about how much a player cost and if he is worth the money. This dominates discussion on signings and wages etc but the discussion SHOULD be two fold –

A. Does this player have a skill(set) that we currently lack?
B. Is this player an improvement on what is already there?

From a fans perspective this is all we should care about really. Ignore the transfer fees, thats just sports media trying to sell us sensationalism. Ignore the wages for the same reason.

<Side note – football players are some of the biggest tax payers in this country because they’re all paid via P.a.y.e and so tax is deducted before they ever receive their wages, keep that in mind next time people say they’re overpaid.>

So let’s stop with the “my bank dick is bigger than your bank dick” stuff and focus on whether the players being bought actually help the team or not. It’ll also be a big finger to sky and their ridiculous transfer window sensationalism.

Edinson Cavani

Biggest loser in transfer window

It’s rare I feel sorry for highly successful and rich top athletes, but I do feel a bit for Edinson Cavani after this transfer window. He was absolutely fantastic for PSG, then Neymar showed up, humiliated him with the infamous penalty kick incident and he was brushed aside. Later he moves to ManU, has a very good season, is generally liked a lot and asked to stay. Then Ronaldo arrives taking away his shirt and probably limiting his upcoming playing chances to some cup games and sub appearances.

This reminded me of the earlier discussion in the mailbox about the greatest transfers in the history of football. Some were suggesting Ronaldo him having few great seasons at ManU, bought for cheap and sold as the most expensive footballer in the world which is of course a decent shout. However, as he was a massive success at Real Madrid for almost 10 seasons one could argue selling him was actually very bad business. He wanted to leave, which makes this “coming home” quite silly as “coming home” would make more sense if he had moved back to Real Madrid, but that’s beside the point.

It’s a matter of opinion, but for me the criteria is a) bought relatively cheap b) was major part of club having great success during his time c) sold for massive profit or basically retired at the club and d) if sold, was done at the right time not being to emulate the success and performance at the new club. Three out of four is definitely not bad but I think Kaka is even better. Bought for peanuts as Berlusconi said, brought great success for Milan, chosen as the best player in the world during his time there along many other accolades and sold as one of the most expensive players in the world. I think he held the record for two weeks before Ronaldo showed up for Madrid.  After his move, he faded quite quickly, maybe partly because of injuries so the transfer was timed perfectly by Milan.

There are many other great transfers and honorary mention must go to Coutinho, which makes me bit sad as my mind boggles of the way Barcelona has done transfers in the past seasons. Absolute madness. About 500 millions to Coutinho, Griezmann and Dembele and massive wages on top of that. They will be a case example of poor management for future generations to come and it’s quite an achievement when considering the mad world of sports business.
Matti Katara, Finland


Manchester United and penalties
As a Liverpool fan, I am a bit reluctant to add to the volume of correspondence on Manchester United but I was deeply amused to see the reaction to the penalties that they missed out on against West Ham. United fans were raging on social media and the mailbox about the pure injustice of those decisions. Days later the anger is unrelenting. The horror! The horror!

For the record, I think the penalty calls were iffy and United should have had one penalty, but what really amused me about all this was remembering how United fans react when Liverpool or City fans make similar complaints. We get told to get over it, that we should stop whining, that we have got unfair decisions in our favour in the past, that things even themselves out…it is a long list. Of course it is asking for a bit too much to expect United fans to sympathize with their rivals, but strangely enough all the reasons listed above don’t seem to apply to United when they get denied decisions they believe they should have had.

‘Football fans are hypocrites’ is not exactly an original contribution to the discourse, but I feel we need to remind ourselves now and again how hilarious it is when manifested the way it has over the last few days.

Turiyo Damascene
Kigali, Rwanda


If Ronaldo is being denied “stonewall” penalties then we’ll just call that the game “balancing itself out” for the 5 years of disgraceful diving of his youth.

And before any united fans chime in to defend Saint Cristiano by saying that he got kicked from pillar to post – he did but only as a response to repeated diving like he’d been hit by sniper fire and rolling around as if his legs had been blown off by landmines quickly jumping up with a grin once the decision is awarded in his favour.

All players do it and I won’t defend any of them but some stick out more than others. Ronaldo was one, he’s just reaping what he sowed.


I’d just like to bring the following stats to your attention.

Ajax have scored 19 goals in their last three games. One of which was in the Champions League. Haller scored four times in that game.

The following domestic competition game ended 9-0 and saw 8 out of 10 outfield players get on the scoresheet.

And then there’s suspended goalkeeper Onana, who is suspended till November 4th.

He was caught abusing a substance and during his months long suspension Ajax kept their faith in him, paid his wages and as a reward Onana decided not to extend his contract. Meaning he will probably exit next summer for a free.

That is all, carry on.
Stijn, Amsterdam


More Related Articles