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Change the United record
I think it’d be nice if fans, pundits, and the media would get out of this stuck record belief that Man Utd are a counterattacking side. Although I’d say it’s still one of their strengths, Man Utd have not been a counterattacking side for most of the season. Instead they have tried to play a more balanced game against the bigger sides, trying to play more as equals and less as underdogs. This could be seen in the first RB Leipzig game in the CL, the second PSG game, the recent games against Liverpool in the league and cup, as well as some of the other draws against rival sides.
And the strategy has undoubtedly worked if you watch the games and see the way they’re played. Man Utd’s percentage of possession and number of passes is up in most of the big games and the number of key chances being made off the back of possession is a lot higher than it was (for example the Liverpool game at 0-0 where United made two extremely high quality chances while Liverpool made far more numerous lower quality chances). A good example would be comparing the two legs against PSG under Solskjaer’s caretakership with the two group games PSG had against United this year. United were far, far, far better as a team and as an attacking threat in those matches while mixing in a little counterattacking strategy rather than defending for their lives and relying on fortune going for them. Yes they lost one of those games, but that’s got to be an accepted part of trying to be a better, bigger team.
If anything I think being a better team, and playing like a better team ‘should’ has harmed the results against the bigger sides as United are not creating the quick counterattacking goals that they did last year to beat their top 6 rivals. But it appears to be that that’s the process the club is trying to go through: play as an underdog and try and counterattack to win->play as an equal team and try and create chances off their own bat->become a dominant team and outplay the best sides. Now there’s obviously still a long way to go, probably needing to rely on better coaching and a more balanced squad with a few positions needing upgrades (RW over nothing, CB over Lindelof, DM over Fred+McTominay, CF over Martial), but that appears to be the plan.
I personally don’t think we’ll ever make it there without a top coach, but OGS has done an awful lot better than I thought he would, so until he properly fails it’ll be interesting to see how far he can go.
Calum, MUFC, Wokingham
Ole two good players from the sack
All the way from Montreal, here’s my latest observations on Man Utd:
– Ole is 2 good players away from getting sacked due to underperforming. Until united get 2 more quality players (1 quality defender) sacking Ole would make no sense to me. The man is doing a fine job with a team that is neither under nor over performing. A trophy this year would surely give everyone some confidence though.
– Maguire/Lindeloff/Bailly are pretty bad when paired together. Add a Van Dijk/Ferdinand type player in there who can lead and is a positional master, and any of those 3 could improve drastically, but by themselves…not so much.
– Dan James is forcing himself back into the selection equation. How can Ole not outright prefer Dan James on the wing instead of Martial falling around and doing mostly nothing?
– I’ve said it for 2 years: Scott Mctominay is the future.
– Greenwood is still an incredible talent despite a lack of goals. This kid is enduring a goal dry spell, but his positioning, crossing, and even defensive play has been impressive. He can damn sure cross a ball in far better than AWB. Give him time and he’ll be back to scoring every other game.
– Lastly and obviously, United have to figure out hot to be GOOD without Bruno. We can’t rely on one man’s fitness forever, the midfield needs more strength. Not as pressing as an actual qualified defender, but eventually united will pay if they don’t have a suitable backup for the role Bruno plays. Besides that, what a ridiculously great player he’s been. Top notch!
– Ok lastly again, I know it will be for the best of Pogba leaves in the summer, but I will be sad to see him go. This last run of games has really shown what he can be when he plays without headlines. His game is often simple and strong and makes a difference without scoring goals, and is a massive influence when he does rocket one into the net. Idk if all the headlines have been justified, but Pogba is one entertaining footballer to watch when he cares and is on his game. I hope he does well wherever he plays for the rest of his career.
Jamin (jealous of your vaccine rollout) Chaput, Montreal, Canada
Long live Klopp
Dave, LFC might have enjoyed watching LFC beat everyone last season. It was largely agony for me – except when Mo & Ally ran over (to me personally!) to celebrate our second against the OT mob. The number of times we had to come from behind or break the deadlock with a late goal left me more fidgety and less gruntled than a man with a startled leopard on his lap. I did however enjoy the results and the outcome – immensely. And a tiny part of me ‘knew’ that it was our year (yeah, yeah).
The season we nearly and should have won it, was much more fun – twatting teams up and down the park for an hour or so, then having a ten minute melt-down on 75 minutes, contriving to hold on or hit back harder as the clock ran down. We were much more bang for the buck.
Needless to say I’m happy enough that our demise, eagerly anticipated by many I’m sure, is premature. Watching (nearly) all the minutes of all the games I posit that we were at least the equal of the opposition in our last two league games until poor personal mistakes cost us. Notwithstanding the soft nature of the Leicester free-kick and marginal interpretation of the rules to allow the goal to stand we were pretty much comfortable, as anyone who actually watched the game will attest. Ditto city – no great shakes until we let them be.
I missed (shock,horror) the first 8 mins on Tuesday and so RBL’s attempt off the woodwork. All I got to see was a dominant, confident settled looking team keep a clean sheet, forcing a good side playing at home into mistake after mistake and getting two very significant away goals despite playing our 114th different defensive pairing in only 17 matches. We were lucky not to concede at the end but unlucky not to be well ahead by half time so, you know – swings, roundabouts, that whole playground vibe. It was a massive result in the context of the last six weeks, nothing more…. or less.
There’s no crisis for me, we have played poorly and lost games against bottom of the league opposition and even in those games we’ve created chances, had a bit of hard lines and had pivotal decisions go against us (don’t worry, you won’t remember those things if you only read the potted match summaries that want to ‘sell’ a ‘crisis’).
I don’t know anyone who wants Klopp out although one of my mates isn’t fond of ‘selfish’ Salah (though he’s vowed to change after the last few corkers) and inexplicably another mate has taken against Curtis (is it bad that I want him to get injured just so I can sing ‘Curtis Jones, you’ve been gone too long’ when he comes back?). I myself have vowed to give Keita another season (just for that goal against Chelsea) if he is ever fit again). Liverpool are still at the very top in terms of management, home grown players, home developed players, they have a progressive, productive and profitable purchase and loan policy and, mainly, togetherness. I just can’t wait to see how well we do when we’re not scratching around for a new line-up every week and sustaining a new injury every other game. Yeah, it happens but I think we’ve got some exceptional times to look forward to – ye have been warned.
And if those feckin’ ‘officials’ let the bitters kick us off the park again on Saturday…………..
Viva la Revelation and long live Klopp (big socialist by all accounts ;-> )!
SB (ooh, get me!)
Can I say that Thursday morning’s mailbox was one of the best I’ve read for ages. Congrats to all. Couple of replies if I may.
Ivor Rice and James McClean. I’m ex-Army and have seen active service. I’ve never known of any servicemen/women ‘outraged’ by newsreaders or footballers refusing to wear a poppy. In my experience, it tends to be journalists from the red-tops or others who, equally, have never actually been in a war. Which is rather telling, I think.
Likewise, most ex-Services types I know don’t give a hoot about people choosing to wear white poppies. Quite the reverse in point of fact. If you want to find somebody aching to talk about glorifying war, then the last person you want to speak to is somebody who has actually been in one.
I wear mine to remember the many that have come back minus limbs or sight or hearing or those who didn’t come back at all. And I choose to believe that’s why most of the public do too, but I don’t start frothing at the mouth if I see somebody who isn’t. I could care as much as what that same person has had for breakfast.
As such, could I politely disagree with your view that the poppy “now illuminates the shadier and murkier aspects of your great land?” The England and Union flags are, I think, much more ‘tainted’ and more readily linked to the morons of the EDL and their ilk. Oh, and anybody who thinks they have a right to send death threats and/or bullets to ANY other human being is simply an utter f*ckwit. Anyone who objects to McClean not wearing a poppy doesn’t speak for me. It’s his choice and his right. Further, think of how many times football games are preceded by a ‘minute’s applause’ (because you can’t trust a section of the crowd not to f*ck it up) and contrast that with how impeccably Remembrance Day match silences are observed and I’d say they don’t speak for most football supporters either.
You’re also right to highlight the fact that huge numbers of Irishmen and women have served the UK in wartime from as far back as the Napoleonic Wars and, more importantly, still do so today. The drunkest I’ve ever been and, consequently, the worst hangover I’ve EVER had, was as a guest of a famous Irish Regiment’s Sgt’s Mess who politely wondered if their English visitors would like to try a quaint old drink called “The Devil’s Spittle*”? The dirty rotten b*stards.
Dave LFC. I read your original ‘Brexit’ mail with bemusement. Then I saw your reply on Thursday afternoon and took the trouble to re-read your first post, but this time ‘knowing’ you’d written it with humour in mind.
Sorry mate. Not having it for a second. But one thing I’d love to know. Given your use of the phrases “engine running out of gas” and “I know go figure” you wouldn’t, by any chance, happen to be one of our Colonial Cousins from across the pond, would you? God, I really hope so, because the irony would be beyond parody.
*If you don’t know, ‘Devil’s Spittle’ is one of the more respectable names for Poteen. Here’s a tip. Don’t ever, EVER drink it!
Mark (Thought I’d gone f*cking blind). MCFC.
Genuinely so confused how Silvio Dante reckons the only reason a team would buy Messi is for commercial value and not for his impact on the pitch. He’s mentioned that Messi hasn’t looked interested since 2017. Funny enough he’s scored 201 goals 229 games since that season. It’s actually ridiculous to think how easily you’re dismissing him. Messi is dropping team and still dropping incredible numbers. He’s not the problem. He’s still scoring the same amount of goals as Ronaldo does but Messi is also having to create the chances for others too. Ronaldo is scoring his goals pretty much as a poacher/CF and there’s nothing wrong with that. I love Ronaldo. But Messi is nowhere near finished. He would still improve any team in the world. The man is still scoring 30 goals a season from CM. His heat maps show this by the way, I’m not exagerrating. There’s no metric that I can find that suggests Messi is not one of the best 5 players in the world. He’s still scoring and assisting at an incredible rate and has been up there amongst the top in terms of take one, dribbles, chances created, through balls etc. The only metric is seems he ever gets judged by is the Champions League though. He’s the second highest scorer of all time and has won it 4 times. The narrative that he struggles in that competition is bullshit. Even in recent years, his performances have been good. He was the best player on the pitch at Anfield but the players around him turned to shit. I don’t think Ronaldo was shit for not winning the CL for 6 years between 2008 and 2014. He still played well. I’m not fickle enough to think that this one tournament a year should define a player. Messi never gets judged on his league titles, while people ignore that with Ronaldo in Madrid. Anyways, I just think it’s so stupid to think that Messi isn’t going to offer your team anything on the pitch anymore. How can you look at his numbers and performances and still say that? He will offer you as much as any player in the world. He’s not going to be a penalty box striker like Ronaldo, but he will still get the same amount of goals and create far more chances for your team.
Dave lfc gives a quite predictable response and I’m surprised you allowed it. I guess you agree with him and he must have spent a long time on that erroneous response.
“Change” can be anything to suit your argument. If your belief is so strong that you are religiously tied to the corporate greed of a super league then you need to take a good look at your core values.
If it was light-hearted then why write it and send it? Then why respond saying it was light hearted, but clearly affirming your belief in the super league? So it was entirely serious. You might want to add a bit of humour next time, otherwise there was no indication of it being light hearted at all.
Just a childish, entitled rant – you get what you pay for
Fat Man (one day you’ll understand)
Footballer names and positions
I was wondering if any footballers have the same name as their position, and, apart from Deborah Winger’s failed trail for Bournemouth, all I could think of is how Rob Holding has missed an opportunity for immortality right there.
Craig Morrison, Athens
There are five fundamental forces that make up our Universe which will always remain present:
Arsene Wenger saying he could have signed *insert name of world class player* before they opted to join another team.