Solskjaer playing a blinder over Pogba and Man Utd’s shortcomings…

Date published: Friday 19th July 2019 9:46

Send us your innermost thoughts for the afternoon Mailbox:…


Ole knows
Over the past few months we’ve seen a ton of mails telling us how bad Man United are. About how they can’t sign players; about when they do, they end up paying over the odds for them; about how their board is disconnected from the rest of the club; about how inept Woodward is, and the effect thereof. I read mails about this being the worst United squad, with a clueless manager. I myself have my doubts over Ole, but here’s the thing –

From the outside it seems to me that Ole is fully aware of the shortcomings of his club. Yet he doesn’t go on the warpath like say Mourinho did, he accepts it and moves on. Solskjaer has a clear plan of what he wants to do with the club, he is bringing in people who also understand his vision.

He appears to have a plan for Pogba too – “Look mate we think you’re a real player, and we value you between 150 and 180m. Madrid only think that you’re worth 110m. If they can’t see your value, we’re more than content to recognise your real value. We’ll build the team around you.” Pogba feels more valued all of a sudden. Hell, even Lindelof is a completely different player.

All I’m saying is maybe wait for results before we start saying United will compete with Everton and Wolves; that Solskjaer looks thick; that United are the laughing stock.

What I’ve learned in life is that you write off Man United at your own peril.

What I’ve learned too, is that some managers function because of, other managers function regardless of.
Wik, Pretoria, LFC

Wrong target
God, that Alex Keble is a cynical bugger, isn’t he? His write up on United, Arsenal and Newcastle not being interested in success smacks of either some sort of agenda, why pick on those clubs in particular?, or perhaps some personal issue with those clubs. Surely the clubs floating in mid-table semi-permanently would be more deserving of his ire?

I was particularly unimpressed with his description of Solskjaer as a ‘yes’ man while also being a fan favourite, which is undeniable but he says it like it’s a bad thing. Does Alex really think that Ole wouldn’t give his left testicle to win the title next year? As a United fan I am not in the same boat as Alex on United’s recruitment so far this year, we’ve bought young players with promise, not enough of them so far but it’s better than Jose’s policy of buying 28 year olds with a couple of good years left if you’re lucky. Arsenal may be tightening the purse strings this year but what would Alex prefer? Another Leeds United who spend far beyond their means? Look how that turned out. I would rather see clubs who work like Tottenham than Man City, good manager, existing within their means and building a team rather than spending billions over a few short years.

Every club in the Premier League (and other leagues) have owners or senior executives whose job it is to worry about balancing the books but even those ‘non-football’ people are smart enough to know that on pitch success brings higher revenue. When Newcastle were fighting United for the title there were Newcastle shirts everywhere, loads of closet fans who put more money into the club and a successful club will attract far more sponsors and investors. United have marketed themselves incredibly well and are close to being the richest club in the world, despite a drop in success on the field, I can guarantee that everyone in the club is yearning for better football and more success, it can happen in parallel with managing the money, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Paul, Man Utd

Klopp’s glass ceiling
The article on “Klopp’s motivational powers” on this website took me back to a conversation I had, that I only remembered after reading the article, the power of writing I guess, or maybe the power of cerveza?

Living in a multicultural city, I was having an in-depth chat with my new German, Dortmund supporting friend back in October 2015. He knew how much I loved Liverpool and he was genuinely pleased for me that Klopp was coming to my club, he told me that I would love him. I found that strange as I knew Klopp parted ways (was sacked?) with Dortmund after a very poor final season but I didn’t know the full details of the whole situation.

I inquired whether the fans, club or Klopp had the issue, I really didn’t understand how the split had happened. If my Dortmund friend really loved Klopp, why wasn’t Klopp there any more?

He explained to me that things had just run their course. Klopp asked so much of the players in every single match, the energy was so high and when they finally toppled Bayern in the league but then they also realised they couldn’t beat them or any other team in the Champions League, the energy just drained. The glass ceiling was unbreakable, they had reached their peak and all the players knew it.

That is the challenge Klopp has this season. He needs to instill in these players that coming second to City isn’t the ceiling. As great as last season was, now is the time to achieve more.

He needs to set out to do what he told everyone on that first press conference – “We have to change from doubters to believers”
Jimmy (Pogba wouldn’t get anywhere near a Klopp midfield with Milner in it) Spain


Net gains
OK I’ll admit the headline is slightly misleading and refers to net spend rather than the headline transfer spend that we all usually recognize but it was still somewhat surprising to me and thought I’d share my finding with the good readers of 365.

So having given some thought to Liverpool and the success of the club and its transfer policy in revitalizing Liverpool’s performance (and bringing a Champions League trophy back to Anfield) , I thought that I’d look at the net spend for Premier League clubs since Klopp arrived. Now I’m sure there are already 365ers that are rolling their eyes on the basis that its what you spend on new player transfers that counts. This is obviously nonsense, unless you have a bottomless pit of money or are financed by a nation state like City and PSG then clearly what you make from player sales is really important when you look at the budget for buying new players.

So having agreed that players sales and the money from it is important then lets look at clubs net spend since the 2016/17 season (Aug 16) through to the current 19/20 transfer window. Having raided Transfermkt and looked at the transfers of the 20 Premier League clubs, imagine my surprise to find that Liverpool have a net spend which is less than Brighton, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, West Ham, Leicester City, Everton as well as the usual Top six competitors including Spurs post Ndomele purchase and Trippier sale in the current window. In fact Liverpool’s net spend is 13th of the 20 clubs in the premier league. Now I’ll admit Liverpool are fourth in total transfer spend on new players at £390m since 2016/17 but whilst that sounds high the net spend after players sales is only £80m over 4 years. So after selling Coutinho for £130m to Barca, Sakho for £25m to Palace plus many others and despite having invested heavily in Van Dijk, Allison, Fabinho and Keita in the last window, Liverpool have only spent £20m of the owners money each season for the last 4 years. That is incredible value for money if you’re FSG and shows that you don’t need to spend loads of the owners money if you’ve bought in players young, developed them and then sold them on at a profit before re-investing in quality players.

Utd fans give Woodward a hard time but actually he has given each of his managers over £374m (net) over 4 years or £93.5m a year for the last four seasons. So clearly investment isn’t the issue for Utd but rather a football structure, philosophy and an ability to pick young talented and hungry players that you can improve. Not a revelation to many Utd fans I’m sure but it does show you that with a good structure, philosophy, manager and some patience that you can turn things around fairly quickly. The question is do Utd have the necessary patience to rebuild and wait for their time to come again. Equally do Utd have the right people in place to identify that talent and of course the manager to complete the picture. Over to you 365ers but right now there isn’t a director of football, and you suspect that yet again Woodward is buying players given to him by his latest manager. A manager who given the clubs recent form at the end of last season may not be around for longer than the next 12-18 months. Of course with Olly at the wheel we could all be proven wrong or perhaps we’ll find out yet again that money can’t replace good structure, foundations and an established philosophy which guides player recruitment.
Stuart (yes I’m a Liverpool fan)


Peak Saints 
I’m bending the rules slightly in my “Saints Wine Bottle Team” in the Premier League era by including players from when we were on our hiatus from the PL between 2005 and 2012 and in doing so I’m hoping to open this up to non-PL fans.

I’m 28 so my selection might not represent the perspective of the masses. Anyway, enough with the pleasantries. Let’s go with the good old 4-4-effin-2.

GK. Antti Niemi (2002/03). Agile and a great shot stopper en route to the 2003 FA Cup Final. Went on to sign for Portsmouth at the end of his career and was a coach at Brighton a few years ago. Clearly a fan of the South Coast.

LB. Wayne Bridge (2000-01). Ever present in the team and Player of the Season. Later seen on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

CB. Michael ‘Killer’ Svensson (2002/03). Hard tackling, no nonsense defender whose career was sadly cut short by injuries.

CB. Jose Fonte (2010/11). Leader at the back in the League 1 promotion season back to the Championship. Went on to win Euro 2018 and Nations League 2019 with Portugal. Not bad.

RB. Nathaniel Clyne (2014-15). Key player in Ronald Koeman’s side. Went to to make his debut for England in that season and later got bought by Liverpool (deja vu). Which brings me on to…

RM. Sadio Mane (2015-16). Top scorer with 15 league goals but was then sold Liverpool for £34 million (according to Wikipedia) which now seems pretty cheap. Lightning quick and so skilful.

CM. Morgan Schneiderlin (2013-14). Outstanding season in central midfield. Let himself down a bit by agitating for a move and got his way the following summer. In hindsight maybe the grass wasn’t greener after not quite making the grade at United (or Everton?).

CM. Sir Matthew Le Tissier. It would be unfair to narrow it down to a single season. Apologies to Morgan who would need to do all the running…

LM. Adam Lallana (2009-10). Massive season under Chunky Pardew in League 1. 15 league goals plus a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy winners medal to boot. Probably more important to him than his Champions League winners medal won with Liverpool last season…

ST. Rickie Lambert (2011-12). Vital in getting us promoted to the Premier League that season. In the end scored 117 in 235 games and cost £1 million. Ridiculous.

ST. James Beattie (2002-03). 23 league goals and top English goalscorer.

No subs so just like my 5 a side team… the ref will have to play for us.


Liverpool’s world class talent
Got to love those strawman arguments. In responding to Chris LFCs email regarding a joint Pool/Utd XI not containing any Utd players, Jarron decides to change it to top teams. And then goes on to claim only Van Dyke would interest top teams. I guess it makes it somewhat comforting to know that an arch rival isn’t better than a different top team like, say, Barca or Real or City. Even though ‘Pool tonked Barca!

In reality, you can never do the ‘combined XI’ thing as it is very dependent on how the manager wants the team to play. Jarron is not totally wrong in saying that the Liverpool team were…functional – as in, they play towards a structured game plane – unlike Utd. But it is a bit disingenuous to try and compare to other top teams. What does world class mean anyway? Are there just 11 world class players – one for each position? Can you have 22 world class? Can you have 3 for one position and only 1 for another? And, for PFMs, how does that equate to ‘top top’?

In reality, Robertson was probably the best left back in the world last season. Allison would surely be up there as one of the best keepers. How many clean sheets did he pull off across all tournaments? And I think Mane and Salah would likely be pushing for world class or at least top top status. Trent Alexander-Arnold was also fairly decent and probably the best right back, overall, in England last year. Granted none of the midfield pull up trees, but they do fit the master plan. So no, not likely to get into a galactico/world class XI but then those teams didn’t win the CL either.

In checking Uefa’s CL squad for 2019, it should be noted that it contained 6 Liverpool players. Those above except Salah plus Van Dyke and Wijnaldum. So 4 of 5 of Liverpool’s defence, one midfielder and one forward.

So what exactly is world class, how many are there and how many can any one team really have?
Paul McDevitt


…In response to Jarron’s email regarding Van Dijk being the only Liverpool player who top clubs would want, I absolutely disagree.

Lets start with the goal keeper, Alisson. Now, despite De Geas pathetic form last season, I still consider him to be in the top tier of goal keepers in the world, and superior to Alisson on the basis of him having performed at an elite level for a longer period of time, and this is me at my most generous, because on last seasons performances Alisson is miles ahead. However, besides Manu, Barcelona(Ter Stegen, the best keeper in the world atm), and Athletico(Oblak), every other top team in Europe would upgrade by taking Alisson.

Andy Robertson is undoubtedly the best left back in England, every single other English team would massively upgrade with him. In Europe, despite their recently declining standards after years of excellence, Marcelo and Alba are the standout left backs in world foot ball, with honourable mention to Alaba. Alex Sandro is quality but I would take Robertson over him atm. With the exception of two or three teams, I believe Robertson starts in every other top team in Europe, and improves them.

Trent is still a baby in football terms despite his incredible achievements already. His role in the champions league triumph is absolutely critical, the highlight of course being the 4-0 win against Barca and that special corner. However, he is still raw defensively, and cannot be put above the likes of Carvajal, Cancelo, and imo the best RB in Europe atm, Joshua Kimmich. Still though, in England, he would start in 4 of the other 5 top 6 teams.

Fabinho has a place in any top team in the world, and anyone who can’t see that has not been watching him. He is a beast, and a graceful one at that. As Liverpool fans, we mourned the loss of Alonso and then Mascherano. We now have a world class midfielder who shares characteristics of both those players.

Wijnaldum starts in any midfield in the world too except for perhaps Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City, will argue that all day.

Now for the forwards. Consecutive golden boot winner Mo Salah wouldn’t interest any other top team in the world? Does not “stand out”? Hahaha. Sadio Mane, also golden boot winner and a destructive force of speed, technique, power and skill wouldn’t interest any other top team either? Does not “stand out”? Hahaha. Firmino is a tricky one because he is such a specific type of forward that he is now moulded to Liverpool, and Liverpool to him. However, his quality is undoubtable, and a team playing a false nine system in any league in the world could use him.

Now, where I do agree with Jarron is his praise of Klopp. He is right in that Klopp deserves a lot of credit for his achievements. He doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of spending power Pep has. In fact, since 2010, Liverpool are 6th in the net spend table. The majority of their big signings have been funded by player sales. Manu are 2nd on that list behind man city, pathetic really. Just look at Liverpool champions league winning team and some of Klopp signings. Wijanldum 25m, Mane 30m, Salah 30m, Robertson 8m. These are comparatively tiny transfer fees in the current market conditions and the pay off Liverpool have received from these players. Marcus Rashford recently signed a contact worth 250k+ at manu. Meanwhile, the infinitely superior Mane and Salah are at 150k and 180k respectively. This is the integrity and character that Klopp and the staff behind the scenes have brought back to Liverpool.
johnnyWicky, Toronto.


…The idea that the following Liverpool players wouldn’t interest top teams, or aren’t world class in terms of quality and ability, is preposterous:
– Allison
– Trent Alexander-Arnold
– Andy Robertson
– Fabinho
– Mane
– Salah
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland


…Deary me.

On current form…
Name me a LB in world football you would take over Andy Robertson? (and please don’t say Jordi Alba, the auto-response for most… ).
Name me a side in the world that would not take Mo Salah?
See above but for Sadio Mane?
See above but for Bobby Firmino (unlike ‘any’ other striker in football)?
See above but for Allison?

And by the end of next season add Fabinho to that list, and likely Keita.

To say just VVD is ‘world class’ is a little naive.

Yes JK is brilliant, and he signs the right players but he has also developed them while instilling the work ethic. I would love to see the world through those United tinted spectacles of yours.
Paul – looking forward to the football actually starting so these nonsense discussions can be canned.


…I can’t help feel that in providing the answer to a question which wasn’t asked (namely the insistence that ‘we are talking about just world class quality and ability’), Jarron, (Next season should be interesting) MUFC has somehow unwittingly given the answer to the question that was asked, which was about how many United players would get into the Liverpool side: ‘Pool players had a fantastic season compared to their United counterparts and would definitely rank higher.’

Case closed then, eh.
Jonny (Sherlock) Dance


…I’m just imagining Jarron in his bunker. Pin pulled. Grenade thrown. I wonder what the morning mailbox will be like. Just VVD? Oh dear, that’s some seriously rose tinted spectacles.
Rob, Gravesend


What the women’s game needs
People seem to be stressing that women’s football will never work because of the lack of quality. Firstly, there is no lack of quality, i enjoyed it as much i enjoy the Euros or the World Cup, but without the passion behind it (I will explain why). It has taken generations for men’s football to become what it is today. And maybe what we are viewing now is just the start of the women’s football revolution.

Right now, women’s football may not interest me on a daily basis. World cup aside, i haven’t seen a single game of women’s football in my life i think.

Why i watched the world cup:
1) Phil Neville (I’m a United supporter).

2) Hoping England win it (Long time supporter of the England men’s team, so transferred loyalties)

3) The marketing push behind it & ease of access even here in India.

It will take ages of marketing push, sponsorship, creating player images, Nike or Adidas hyping someone like they hype CR7 or Pogba, and finally the quality of football.

Lets be honest, quality of football is a reason many people give, but its a trash excuse. The reason i started watching United, was David Beckham. The reason i support England as an Indian, is David Beckham. How i knew about him? A mixture of the 2004 Euros & his immense branding around the world. He was a god. THAT is why people get into a sport, when they see a person they like and admire and support, and that could be a team very easily. I imagine a lot of people got into the EPL because of Leicesters title win too.

Lot of current & Ex footballers got into cricket with England’s recent world cup win (feel like puking). That is just how the sport/any sport works. Quality is not the reason. If it was, the superbowl is trash & baseball is trash. But the hype machine behind it makes people fall in love. Same with women’s football. Once the hype machine starts rolling, it will happen. It may take a generation, but spend enough time and money behind it, women’s football can become as big as Mens. But i doubt that much money will be put into it, with the reason being:

1. Main audience is – Men. (Thats just how it is, i wish more women loved footie)

2. Women cannot promote mens shoes, socks, jerseys etc.

3. Hence Nike will not have a 100m campaign around them.

4. Money and sponsors count more than quality of football.

These are some simple truths i have learnt working in the marketing and branding industry over the years. Hope it gives people a perspective, its not that the quality of womens football is bad, its just that the big brands are not hyping it up.

Imagine the 90’s/early 00’s ads of Nike, Adidas, Pepsi?? Imagine if those were women footballers escaping a museum, playing on the streets and god knows what other amazing ads, THAT is what will make women’s football progress.

We would all like to believe that the EPL is what it is today because of our love for the sport, our passion and the immense quality. But it is because the billion pounds spent marketing it across the world has shoved it down our throats that his is where the action is. And the quality is there, but 80% of the world would not know about it without the ads and marketing.

When Adidas tells us impossible is nothing , we see Messi in ourselves. Nike makes us believe that Ronaldo is the single greatest athlete in the world (he might as well be). That’s when people start idolizing the players, then the team, then the sport in itself.

I love football more than most things in the world. But i would have never found that love without Beckham ads being plastered all around me, on TV and everywhere i see. Today its Ronaldo, Messi, Pogba etc. Tomorrow, it could well be Rapinoe.
Aman (Wishing women’s football all the best)


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