Southgate is the man to reinvigorate Manchester United

Date published: Tuesday 13th November 2018 2:24

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Buy-back clauses
I have almost certainly written about this before, probably in response to Arsenal selling Gnabry off previously, but your Former Premier League article has thrown this issue into further light.

Why the shuddering f**k don’t Premier League teams use buy-back clauses more in their outbound transfers?

It’s worked great guns for La Liga teams either for commercial purposes or for squad development (Morata and Carvajal right off the top of the head for Real Madrid) and when it comes to young players who don’t get enough game time at the big clubs (Sancho, Suso, Gnabry etc etc) it makes all the sense in the world to sell them for <£10m and then have a buy-back of about £30m if they become stars.

Everyone wins. Would Wolfsburg have accepted something like that for De Bruyne? Everton for Lukaku (ok, with a buy-back of about £50m)? Almost certainly.

It looked like City had got with the programme when they sold Iheanacho, but then they go and stuff up the Sancho deal. So what gives? Is it tradition? Some throw back to gentleman’s agreements (like Arsenal having first option on Cesc)? Or is it a legal thing (like when Liverpool just told Arsenal to jog on after triggering Suarez’s release clause)?

Anyone know? Because it quite frankly makes Premier League clubs look like utter morons on a frequent basis and with the Bundesliga welcoming all the Premier League’s youngest and brightest who can’t get game time (in a more dignified manner to how Prem teams kept pinching young Spanish players in the 00’s) it clearly makes sense going forward.
Tom, Walthamstow


United being sh*t is a completely separate issue
No, Dino, Seoul. Just no. The question should absolutely bloody-well not be “why haven’t United gotten the same return on their investment?” – that has absolutely nothing to do with it. United are perfectly entitled to waste their money however they see fit because they generate it all in legal means (whether you like the sponsorship or not is another matter). United being sh*t is a completely separate issue, and has nothing to do with FFP and everything to do with poor football. The money that City and others are wasting is not their own. Financial Fair Play was brought in to force (ha!) clubs to run as sustainable businesses and act responsibly, not only as football clubs but as employers as well.

The very fact that the owners of these clubs are having to inject their own money into them just further proves that they are not being run in the spirit of these rules. We’re not talking about a super fan donating money to the club he/she supports as a gift, we’re talking about people who have a vested interest in the public appearance and financial performance of the business, and the continued circumvention of the rules to keep them afloat. And these constant injections of cash from the owners just further proves that they are not complying with FFP – if they were complying with it then they wouldn’t have to cook the books. They are cheating, per se or otherwise, and outside investment means exactly that – from outside the club, and not the company that owns it. Now, if ADUG were just coercing their non-affiliated friends to donate then that would be another matter, but they’re not. They are all in it together, and they’re all breaking the rules.

The fact that City and others have worked out deals with FIFA to get around the fact that they have broken the rules is the big problem. It’s this kind of rule-bending that has caused the problem in the first place; the rules and relevant punishments were made perfectly clear to every club in the world, so the question we should be asking is: why haven’t the clubs that have blatantly broken the rules repeatedly been actually punished for their transgressions according to the rules of the game? Where is the incentive to follow the rules if you can just cut a deal and carry on as normal?

Again, City are playing good football, sure, but they are doing it with players and facilities that they can’t actually afford. They’re emblematic of the current age; they want to skip the hard work (i.e. actually building something over a number of years through natural growth and progression) and chuck money at it instead. They want the shortcut and they want it now. The simple fact is that if City’s owners decided to walk away now – even if they didn’t pull out all the money they’ve invested personally, and just wrote it all off – even if they gave it away to the fans for free, the club would not have the financial resources or revenue streams to stay in business unless another extremely wealthy benefactor took over and continued to prop them up. That’s the point of FFP, and that’s the point that everyone seems to miss, because Pep Guardiola is a brilliant manager who has got his team playing very well.
Ted, Manchester


Time to rest Matic
Dear Editor,

For too long has Mourinho believed in the ‘untouchable’. I cannot see how anyone in this present Man united squad could be considered untouchable, maybe David De Gea aside. However he is a goalkeeper, and one of the very best.

Of all the outfield players, Matic, has been almost ever present and it vexes me to understand why. When he first arrived he looked like a proper commanding midfield general. In recent times he has looked anything but that. He has been ponderous and slow to release the ball whilst in possession, often loosing the ball to opponents who will nick the ball off him whilst he dwells on it.

Out of possession he is passive and lacks aggression. He will take 5 touches on the ball when one or two will normally do, then the ball will ultimately go sideways.

Compare that with the actions of his predecessor, Michael Carrick, in possession – a true first touch out of his feet, head up and a quick pass forward. End result United played quicker with Carrick in the team. United’s build up in so slow now and much of the rests with Matic’s decision making on the ball.

There have been many players in United’s squad who have got on the wrong end of Jose due to their form and rightly so.For some reason Matic has been spared, despite the fact that he has been poor all season. Resentment may grow within the squad at the preferential treatment. I think it is time Matic is benched.


Going into the international break is a perfect time to ponder those difficult questions, so here are one or two that I was considering as I distract myself from the fact Norwich are top of the Championship, and Ipswich are bottom.

In the unlikely event 2 teams go through the season unbeaten, let’s say Man City and Liverpool, who would be the Invincibles? Naturally the Champions would be the Champions, but the other team unbeaten could reasonably claim to be invincible. Can you have two invincible teams in a league season?

Now here’s the kicker. What if Man City and Liverpool go unbeaten, but secure plenty of draws, and Chelsea win the title but lose one game. Arsenal drew 12 in their invincible season, plenty of seasons since have seen higher league winning totals. So Chelsea are the Champions and the two teams in second and third place are Invincibles? How does that even work?

Honestly, here I am, brain the size of a universe, and I’m considering questions like that. Answers on an electronic postcard.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool


Wright defending Sterling
Hi Mailbox,

I’m not on Twitter or other similar Social Media outlets — but if I was, I would be asking Ian Wright how his support both now and in the summer for Raheem Sterling correlates with him taking a wage from the S*n.

So can someone on Twitter ask him please?  Unfortunately he is in a minority with his calling it out for what it is with Sterling (media vilification campaign likely based on racism) however to continue writing for the S*n he negates that support.

In my opinion, he should use his column in the S*n to highlight the S*n for their racist campaign, or he shouldn’t be writing for the them any more.  It would be good to see what his point of view on that is, so like I say, please ask him, Mailbox.

Kieron (PS Oh and send his answer in to the Mailbox if he engages with you please as I won’t see it on Twitter!)


Southgate for Man Utd?
Everyone knew Man U would struggle post Fergie but I don’t think anyone expected the fall to be as pronounced as struggling to make the top 4 on an annual basis with such an expensively assembled squad looking like they don’t train together, or at all. Plenty of people are enjoying it as I enjoyed Liverpools fall from a dominant 80’s but why is it so?

Other than a transfer policy that seems to have gone from a youth first approach (which can be hit and miss) to buying the finished product regardless of age (which is also hit and miss and a truckload more expensive), it seems to me that the weight of expectation at Man Utd is a big factor that holds the team back. Players who can do it at other clubs (Veron, Forlan, Di Maria, Depay, Sanchez, Mhkitaryan etc.) just can’t perform at Man Utd under the expectation to win every game. Expectations need to be revised.

It reminds me a lot of what England players have been through over the years. Southgate for Man Utd?
Jon (Cape Town, actually being an Englishman I’d rather Southgate stays where he is and carries on the good work. Man Utd job might be a poison chalice for a while)


About Jose
It bizarrely seems very popular these days to defend someone by using their exact failings as reasons not to judge them. Rami, London somehow uses Utd’s rubbish defense as Jose’s get out clause, how can he win with such rubbish players who don’t know how to defend? He had better players he didn’t need to train before! I’m sorry but he’s the manager of a football team, its precisely his job to either buy better players or improve those he has.

Jose spunked £65 million on two centre backs that he now doesn’t fancy. He’s like a petulant child that asks for a new Playstation for Christmas and then throws a tantrum because he now wants an Xbox on boxing day. But we can’t blame Jose for that, he’s just not very good at buying players.

Jose is in his third year as Utd manager so he’s had plenty of time to build a team, especially with the money he’s spent. He has a £95 million worldy midfielder that he can’t do anything with. He has a £76 million striker who he can’t do anything with. He got a worldy winger from Arsenal that he’s turned into one of the worst players in the entire league. He has some of the best prospects in the league that he doesn’t play out of choice but takes credit when they perform better than his multi million pound fancies when forced to play. But we can’t blame Jose for that, he’s just not very good at getting the best out of some of the best players in the world. And Utd fans have the cheek to blame Edward Woodward? How much do you want to spend?

However, the most grievous thing we can’t blame Jose for is that he simply can’t coach players. Coaching to Jose is hanging his players out to dry in post match interviews. Coaching to Jose is spending a year slagging off a seriously injured 21 year old to anyone who would listen and then taking smug credit when the man works his arse off to get back in the team. Utd are a mess on the pitch. They were a mess when they lost to Brighton, Spurs and West Ham. If anyone thinks this crisis is because of losing to City then they’re delusional. Utd are 8th in the league.

I’m tired of Jose walking around like a mardy teenager. I’m tired of every story being about Jose. I’m tired of watching Utd fans develop Stockholm syndrome.
SC, Belfast


Come now Rami.. you’re saying that its acceptable for United to be stumbling around like a first-time drunk cousin at a wedding for 10 years? 10 years of being average simply because Ferguson was the greatest manager ever. United spend hundreds of millions on transfers, hundreds more on player wages and have the highest revenue of any sports team (I think?). And keeping Mourinho, giving him time and more money is the answer?

Though still very rich, Arsenal are way behind United in turnover and don’t have a sugar daddy like Chelsea/City, and yet having just dethroned their own long-standing Emperor they appointed a relatively young manager with progressive ideas, who believes in promoting youth, tactical flexibility and modern coaching techniques and <SHOCK HORROR> Arsenal are doing just fine. The players heads are up, the team spirit is back, the fans are behind the team and creating an actual real-life atmosphere at the Grove and the club seems to be on an upward trajectory.

You can’t guarantee success but you can instill hope, in your playing staff and your fanbase, with a clear plan and a focus on football first.

I actually think there is a plan in place… Man U are facing a summer of huge change in 2019 with De Gea, Martial, Herrera, Mata, Young, Valencia, Smalling, Jones and Darmian all out of contract. Even if some of those re-sign thats a hell of a lot of first team replacements required. It seems like Big Ed is planning to hire a Director of Football, clean the decks with regards to the squad and most likely replace Mourinho in the summer. The new guy can then be given a Breaking Bad-style storage locker full of dollar and a lot of flexibility with wages to turn little Man U’s fortunes right round (baby). Right round.

I hope not, obviously, I hope the rot continues long enough for the giant cloud of smug to fully dissipate and for United fans to emerge blinking into a new dawn as mid-table scrappers.
Alay (hoping for another Moyes, fearing they’ll get Simeone), N15 Gooner


I turn 31 in eight months time, I am a high school teacher and currently experiencing the joys of putting up with hormonal teenagers, marking endless stacks drivel, filling in tax returns and coming to grips with various other facets of adult life.

In her recent article on players being frozen out by their clubs, Sarah Winterburn asked her readers to imagine being Burnley’s 5th choice goal keeper at the age of 31. I did so. It was lovely. Where do I sign up?
Lawrence (early onset mid-life crisis) RSA


View from the bottom

There’s an increasing number of people who are getting bored of the BIG SIX or FFP or whatnot- that’s very clear just from discussion with my mates, or reading the mailbox, and I’m in complete agreement. I support a big 6 team- one that’s doing fairly well right now, but hasn’t won the ‘big one’ for a while, but even I am bored senseless by the tactical analysis of Jose’s body language or Raheem’s showboating or whatever story generates clicks this week.

So i’d urge my fellow mailboxers- go and watch your local non-league side.

I’m in Walthamstow so I’m kinda blessed with teams- from the mighty Walthamstow FC, to the new Clapton CFC- both of whom play at the same ground- or there’s always Orient up the road, sitting pretty in 2nd these days. I took my 6 year old girl and my 2 year old boy to see Clapton the other day, cost us a couple of quid each, there was beer, the kids found their mates and ran around behind the goals, it was great. Seriously, the whole Clapton CFC story is very interesting, their away kit has sold 100,000 or something copies in Spain. Check them out.

And y’know, you can be home in 10 minutes too.

At the last international break there was a Non League day- I went down to my mates to see Bromley play- again, another great time! So if you’re bored of the whole top teams winning everything check out your local side- they need the cash, you get to be part of something- and you can have a drink whilst doing so!

Advert over.
Dan, London.


Wolves so far
Hi guys,
Thought I’d drop an email in as a Wolves fan as we enter this international break.
Went to Arsenal with some friends on Sunday, and felt incredibly unlucky to not grab all 3 points. We had the chances but unfortunately Leno had a great game.
It was nice to finish a run of 3 defeats in a row, but the chances at the end of the game left it feeling 2 points dropped showing how far we’ve come.
We encountered a great run of wins the past few months, and as F365 mentioned, things got a bit giddy, so the 3 defeats have been a lesson, and a bit of a humbling.

Draws against Man City and Man Utd have been impressive, but we have struggled to put chances away after sometimes creating plenty of them, which has been Wolves fans only worry this season.
Hopefully a good run towards January gives us a chance to buy more firepower.

It’s fair to say Wolves fans have complete faith in the manager, and the current team. So we’re excited to see what’s coming.

To the Mailboxer talking about Ivan Cavaleiro? He’s a fantastic player. He came back from injury not too long ago hence the substitutions, but he’s certainly a favourite.

Jonny, Wolverhampton (Nuno Had a Dream)


Logs in eyes, glass houses, etc.
Some solid first class rubbish there from Tim. The owners of most other clubs are not laundering their reputations. The Glazers, Fenway, Levy, etc. demonstrably do not care one jot what people think of them. They’re running their business for profit like any other business, people may find that unseemly, but it is not the same as the projects at City and PSG.

Paul says that, as a United fan he’s in a bit of a glass house, but he really isn’t. I’m a United fan too and I have no particular love for the way the Glazer family leveraged debt on our previously debt free club but it is something that happens to businesses all the time and, despite leaving a bad taste for the fans, really isn’t that unseemly.

City belong to the royal family/rulers of a country. For a country to buy and lavishly spend money on a football team, in and of its self, is fundamentally ridiculous (hell, the fact that the UK aims to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid is hotly debated by some, let alone a plaything for The King’s little brother). It would be like if Prince Harry got bored and bought a team.

Except it’s not really like Prince Harry buying a football team, because our royal family is ceremonial, where Sheik Mansour’s family are actually autocratic rulers (his half-brother, the Emir, is also president of the emirates and he himself is deputy Prime Minister). They are autocratic rulers of a state with an allegedly questionable human rights record, to the extent that they have been accused of allowing conditions for migrant workers akin to modern slavery. I know that on paper City have a great recent record of investing in their local community, but the karmic scale is heavily tipped in the other direction.

Paul suggested that you can’t just stop following a club because of these things but, after news stories last week that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was eyeing up buying United (who you may have read about in the news for other reasons) I have asked myself if these things matter enough to stop giving the club my money. The conclusion I’ve reached is that they absolutely would. The fact that I would find it hard and upsetting is a drop in the ocean compared to the harm that the potential owner is trying to distract from. After all, Bill Shankly wasn’t being literal when he said football was more important than life and death…probably.
Andy (MUFC)


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