Ten Hag sack? Man Utd have had a better season than Arsenal. Or is that ‘bumwash’?

Editor F365
Erik ten Hag kisses the FA Cup while Mikel Arteta wins nothing
Erik ten Hag kisses the FA Cup while Mikel Arteta wins nothing

Man Utd won a trophy and Arsenal did not. We have lots of views on both clubs in a Mailbox that is an absolute belter.

Send your views on any subject – not just Arsenal or Man Utd – to theeditor@football365.com


Trophies trump league position
At the end of the day in 50 years people won’t celebrate the time you finished second (as Arsenal fans repeatedly told Liverpool fans when we said finishing a narrow second to City was an achievement – it’s not really, it just feels like it is because it’s bloody hard )

Ignoring finances (because the cups are laughably not worth it financially for PREM teams) which is worth more? Winning a trophy or finishing second?

It’s objectively the trophy. Do you think anything does an open top bus parade carrying round a big number 2? They don’t. Don’t get me wrong it doesn’t mean you had a bad season because Arsenal clearly didn’t but the goal of football is to win trophies. You didn’t win any, and United did so they have literally won more than Arsenal this year so they did have a better season.

League position only matters more when your position is 1. Any other league position is beaten by every trophy (not counting Charity Shield since it’s basically a pre season friendly ) if you think I’m wrong ask yourself would you rather finish second 10 seasons in a row or win the FA Cup 10 seasons in a row. If you’re picking 2nd place you’re objectively delusional. Winning nothing is never ever better than winning something.

It’s like arguing almost winning £50k is better than winning a tenner.

As a Liverpool fan I get it, and perhaps now Arsenal fans understand why we said it’s so difficult for so many years. But it is incorrect to think winning no trophy is better than winning a trophy.

To prove I’m not just an Arsenal hater, United had a better season than Liverpool as well because FA Cup is better than league cup. To suggest otherwise is silly.


But Arsenal > Man Utd
Winning the FA Cup is better than 4th place. Winning the League Cup is better than 4th place. Winning the Community Shield….is not.

As a Utd fan, I would definitely admit Arsenal had a much better season. They challenged for the league until the final day, played some pretty good football throughout the season and will almost certainly be second favourites for the league next year. A couple of good signings could actually be the difference.

Utd have a shiny new cup that I am very pleased about. It is a silver lining of a season that was really painful to watch other than a couple of games. Given that it is unrealistic to expect much more than 3 or 4 quality signings if Utd were to have a perfect transfer window (that has never happened), we’re still going to find it hard to step up to get back in that top 4 and ultimately challenge again.

Top 4 is not a goal. It is a stop on the destination of winning and Arsenal are closer to that destination than Utd or anyone else for that matter. What Arsenal have done particularly well is build consistently from year to year rather than the Utd mentality of thinking they can just get there next year despite all the problems they don’t solve.
Jon, Cape Town (accountants may well prefer top 4 so feel free to let them decide what you should enjoy most)


Different people have different opinions shock
I know Villa fans who would have preferred we won the Europa Conference League rather than getting top four. I know Villa fans who are happier that the top 4 spot was secured. That’s all you really need to know.

You’re welcome,
Gary AVFC, Oxford (Yes yes,.. the ECL isn’t the FA Cup, but the point remains).


Is it a generational thing?
I must Scattergun back at a few, mainly Seamus, because there is probably a generational and definitely personal and club-by-club difference here that should be explored and I’ll use a recent and distant point of reference with a 3rd party team in the United/Arsenal, FA Cup or top 4 discussion.

Love the retort Seamus and some of it is of course true;

  • Players love top 4 = generally means more money if you had a decent agent when negotiating a contract.
  • Mgmt staff – likely same as above, but entirely dependent on the owners and incentive plans in place
  • Accountants and shareholders – of f**king course they love top 4, they are the MAIN BENEFICIARIES
  • Sane and ‘not in denial’ fans though – that’s where I disagree and will expand.

I’d guess that fans of an older vintage would prefer winning a Cup Trophy than top 4 because of the majesty of the FA Cup experience from the first round you entered through to the final, the actual one-off memories that it creates and coming from a time when football wasn’t about Net Spend tables, xG league positions, Fandom of players over clubs, transfer window winners, Football Manager mentality attempting to replace real-life, etc.

Conversely, I’d guess the young tween/teens would prefer the top 4 because that’s how football has changed, and the culture has been reconditioned to predominantly prioritise money and balance sheets and perceived long-term advantage over actually winning anything other than the league and CL. The media is massively to blame, amongst other societal phenomena but that’s a longer discussion.

Remember my key point is that a top 4 finish is only as good as the season that follows, that seems to have been lost on Seamus.

The top 4 finish might be great for Arsenal – you get to a semis or final, lots of memories, bit of cash for your accountants and shareholders and you build from there. OR, you might be humbled and crash out, stink up the league because of the extra commitments and end up back to square one, pie on your face from your playground bullies, with zero lasting memories that you enjoy recollecting. We just don’t know right now and we can’t.

For what it’s worth, I wanted Arsenal to win the league because I at least have respect for the club and fondly enjoyed the rivalry.

I’d also posit Arsenal fans are so averse to the FA Cup and love the top 4 trophy because they’ve two decades of only winning the FA cup and I assume are bored of it, plus Champions league has never been won and qualification is a bit rare post-Wenger AND you hold the consecutive top 4 trophy record – it’s your trophy and you want it back, I get it.

Likewise, under Fergie, not qualifying for the Champs league was never a concern and taken for granted and the post Fergie concerns are far greater than qualifying for a tournament where we just make up the numbers. My favourite memories post-Fergie have only been the cup runs ending in wins with the odd champions league run/random game distant seconds. Europa was sweet because we had a chance and did win. CL qualification, meh, we were never ready so it was always a prayer and just a reason to attract and acquire more mercenaries – and so it proved.

On to the example and genuine question regarding Top 4 vs. FA Cup – I’m seeking a Newcastle fan here of a vintage that lived through the Keegan ‘Love it’ days, in particular. Spurs fans would suffice at a push.

Q: In hindsight, would you have preferred to have won the FA cup last year or stuck with top 4 finish?

  • You didn’t get out of the group and it’s over before Christmas (more honourably than United though, I should mention).
  • You didn’t really improve the squad with all that extra lure and money because injuries happen and everyone is allowed to improve in the summer, not just the top 4 in England surprisingly.
  • You stunk up the league position relative to the year before
  • And you have literally nothing to show for it (beating PSG in a single group game perhaps? – wish there was a group game victory trophy)

Whereas with the FA Cup, you would have won an actual trophy and forged a lasting memory to cherish. I won’t remember our mediocre CL campaigns in the future but always remember the trophies.

So, instead of going all child extremist and saying everyone must feel this way or they are insane, it would be interesting to hear what people think from teams who don’t win trophies regularly, or really ever.

Everyone is different, remember, some people just like a bit of simple missionary, some people like to be bound while someone shits in their mouth. Life offers a spectrum of choices and views, it ain’t always red or blue.

Final point & prediction – If by some miracle ETH stays and does semi-decent, F365 will see dwindling ad revenue from their click-bait, Hail Mary ‘reports’ on what’s happening at United and will prey that Arteta or Slot are doing shit so they can pivot to Arsenal or Liverpool doomsday click-bait. (heads-up, won’t be City, because no one cares and they don’t pay the bills).
Moses (mononym is the way)


There’s so much Arsenal bumwash
It really is remarkable the absolute torrent of bum wash that comes into the mailbox regarding Arsenal. It probably happens with most clubs, but I’m an Arsenal fan, so I notice it more.

First, there’s the raging deluge of chocolate water that comes from Griffin. The walking, writing, dicktionary definition and poster child for the concept of stopped clocks being right twice a day. And that’s only because he contradicts himself, so by law of averages one of his positions must be near(ish) the truth.

Then we have Monday’s email from Calvino. Sack Arteta? The choco water sluice gates are wide open now. When you’re even contemplating holding the same views as Rio ‘the merk’ Ferdinand you need to question your life. We should sack Arteta if he can’t beat the best PL side ever, one that has had more money spent getting to this pinnacle than any other team in history, and was champions of Europe this time last year? What planet are you living on?! You know what will happen if we do that next season, City will have sense and install him as Pep’s successor. And instead, we will appoint… who exactly?

Next is the assertion that Arsenal is ‘in the final stage’ whilst other teams are in transition. Erm…. No. We have one of the youngest average ages in the entire PL. So, we have a lot of room for improvement. Also, Liverpool and Klopp got a pass this season based on having to replace their midfield. Pretty much exactly like we did. Last season we had Xhaka and Partey. This season it was Rice and whomever Arteta could lay hands on to go next to him. We replaced our ‘whole midfield’ also.

These midfield issues played a significant part in us not winning the title. Arteta was weirdly lambasted for his team selection against Villa. Firstly, we battered Villa first half, and it was only a sequence of wayward finishing that meant we weren’t coasting. Secondly, and quite clearly, in the second half we were gassed.

Arteta, I suspect, didn’t play Jorginho against Villa because that game was sandwiched between two quarter final CL legs against Munich. You only get 70 mins max these days from Jorginho before he looks like he’s running in concrete boots. No way could we play Jorg for three 90 minutes+ in quick succession. So, the team selection was what it was because we really didn’t have other viable options.

Now Rob A writes in saying that we were disappointing in the cup competitions. Say what? A young team goes for its first foray into the CL, wins its group, wins in the last 16 on pens to a decent Porto side (not the walkover typical jingoistic commentators would have you believe) and narrowly loses to Bayern in the Quarters who themselves showed how good they are against Madrid. That’s pretty good. We did lose in the third round of the FA cup. To Liverpool, who as noted, have been handy this season. We also should and could have won that game but it’s a one-off cup tie and these things happen (see the cup final – perhaps City should now sack Pep also?). A 3-1 loss in the other cup to West Ham is a shame but hardly earth shattering.

People really need to get some perspective on how difficult it is to be robots and win like a City-esque machine. Our only truly bad performances this season, for no real reason, came against Fulham – as stated by Arteta immediately after we dropped points to them.

So, on balance, a really very good season. We are right up there, developing, and pushing the best all the way to the line. I’d love us to win some trophies, obviously, but in elite sports the margins between trophies and second place are so slim that sacking Arteta for not delivering a trophy would be insanity. Just look at Klopp. Nine years. One PL and one CL and a series of near misses. But, apparently, he is an all-time PL great.

What are the targets for next season? Given it’s an international tournament summer it makes it harder for everyone to perform full-scale squad renovations as time is limited and the transfer market roundabout doesn’t operate as effectively. We’ve got a lot of players to shift.

Soares is out already so that’s 100k/wk of wages available. Ramsdale, Tavares, Tierney, Elneny, Lokonga, Partey, Patino, Vieira or ESR, Marquinos, Nelson, and Nketiah are all on the chopping block. The tricky one is Gabby Jesus who I think we all like but it’s difficult to have our second highest wage earner making 10–20-minute cameo appearances from the bench. Realistically, it feels like 240k/wk could be better spent. I’d like us to keep ESR, but Arteta seems uninterested in him, so it appears to be between him and Vieira. One stays and one goes.

Looking at that, we could need a reserve keeper, a decent and young CB or RB as cover, a top-quality replacement for Partey, another decent CM as cover, a good sub for Saka, and a striker. Plus maybe a couple of young squad players to get some minutes in the smaller games. That’s a lot to evolve in one short summer, and probably isn’t feasible, but it shows how far there is for us to go. If we could solve all those issues, then we will be in great shape.
Josh, AFC, Dubai


Just let Erik ten Hag be the Man Utd manager
This has a few good points but having 15 plus different defensive partnerships at the back does not help build consistency. Especially when you bring in a new goalie, I remember when DDG started he was dropped for the back up GK, for some reason the the Utd GK is one the hardest position to play it has swallowed some very good GKs.

We cannot also run over the facts that Utd have had many more bad suspect VAR call this season whether it been the EPL or the Champions League run. Games have been lost because of these calls.

Am not sure where this has come from that most do not back ETH – most fan polls want to give ETH a the season ahead with a proper strategy above him.

Newcastle and Chelsea are the perfect example of the turmoil around the sale of the club, Newcastle went from having a good season under Steve Bruce to when the takeover was going ahead to them being in a relegation battle, with Chelsea they lost the stability of the Roman ownership.

Since Sir Alex has left ETH has been as or more successful then the other previous managers at Utd (after Sir Alex) and they did not have the process of a takeover, injury crisis and other external factors.

Since ETH has taken over the transfer window have been horrible, thinsgs have taken too long where the imbedding period of a preseason has gone. There has been a a significant amount of money spent however this ain’t ETH’s fault. With a good footballing structure around him we could probably decrease that reasonably by a good 30 to 50 percent.

As much as Evans has been a good standard player (this year) we all know that Kim min Jae was who he wanted and would helped with a style of play.

As of attack I have never seen any team have one 1st team striker. I know Martial was there but we know what history he has with injuries. I do suspect that the board were going use Greenwood until the backlash which make sense with lack of back up for Hojlund.

The one thing I don’t understand is why Reguilon was sent back especially with both LBs being injured or are injury prone. Was ETH promised a striker on loan like Werner but people above couldn’t get it done. It also made no sense loaning that young Spanish lad in both windows. Was Sir Jim trying get money from somewhere or was more sinister reason behind it.

Even Ole got Ighalo on loan in January!

ETH has proven he can win things and can get this team to top four with the noise around him but if he could just focus on being the manager we think could genuinely push for the Premier League.

Even Pep, Klopp, Arteta haven’t had to deal so much drama around their clubs, even with the 115.

Even Sir Alex wasn’t as successful as ETH has been in his first few seasons.
Josh Jancey

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Man Utd should not care what the fans think
It’s Manchester United we’re talking about so the ridiculous speculation and conjecture surrounding the manager’s job is by now expected. There are plenty of fans who are p***ed off with the club and its new management because they think Ten Hag should stay or they don’t like the possible replacements or they just don’t like the lack of an announcement, but most of the current narrative seems to be coming from people not associated with the club who are manipulating the official silence for their own ends.

For starters we know the leaks that came out just before the FA Cup about Ten Hag being sacked came from a Chelsea reporter. It appears he got his info from Chelsea who got if from one of the candidates they were interviewing for their vacant manager job. Then we have McKenna and his management leaking stories along with Ipswich leaking opposing information. Also there is the Athletic pushing a story about the season review still taking place and no decision being made, but no idea where this information is coming from. It’s all very messy.

What we know is that all the senior club management including Ratcliffe and Brailsford and Wilcox met in Monaco two weeks ago. Following that meeting the club started to interview other coaches. To me this sounds like the season review took place at this meeting and they decided to replace Ten Hag, why else would they explore other options and why would they begin that process if they were not sure that a suitable replacement was available. The Dutchman has also said publicly the season review has already taken place.

As Ten Hag is yet to be sacked this leaves a number of possibilities. The club are yet to agree who his replacement should be. The club have chosen their new manager but are negotiating and finalising the deal before announcing. The club have changed their minds due to the FA Cup performance and the swell of fan support for Ten Hag.

To me the latter of these seems the least likely. This is an experienced and analytical team INEOS are putting together, one game won’t changed their minds and I don’t think they really care that much about fan opinion. Especially considering how fickle that support is (twitter polls last week had Ten Hag to stay at 30%, now it’s 70%).

I still expect a new manager to come in and the delay is more likely down to due diligence than anything else. If Ten Hag was to stay its probably because a deal couldn’t be reached with the preferred candidate or that person is still in a job and can’t leave at the moment.

Also that swell of fan support can f*** right off. I’m happy that fans are supporting the manager, I’ve been defending him for two years and don’t mind if he stays. However, those fans and especially high profile ones who are spouting ‘all proper United fans want him to stay’ and ‘the true United supporters are behind him’ need to cut that shit out. You don’t speak for me or anyone else, don’t you dare judge my love for my club because I disagree with you, or because I’m not capricious enough to suspend logic after the manager wins one game. Honestly the number of ‘open letters to INEOS’ over the last few days is f***ing embarrassing.
Dave, Manchester


F365 needs to stop picking on Man Utd and Man City
Mel, as you say “It’s almost like fans of other clubs don’t really care about the existence of City and couldn’t be bothered to develop a rivalry with them”, perhaps these fans don’t actually want to create a rivalry with City because, as Arsenal and Liverpool fans discovered, it didn’t get them very far, did it? Why would you create a rivalry with a team that just crushes your dreams?

Perhaps that’s why the United fans were crowing about Arsenal, rather than City, they know they were incredibly fortunate to get City on an off day. Besides, when a team finishes 31 points behind you, in 8th position, they aren’t much of a rival, anyway, as United used to say about us, twenty years ago.

I haven’t been reading much of Football365, recently. As IG pointed out, “14 of the first 15 articles or features all referenced Manchester United – either the club, manager or players – in the headline.” Why would I want to read all that? It goes further, Lee (not THAT one) asks “F365 – seriously? Please admit your disgusting bandwagon-jumping bias.” This addresses yet more poor ‘journalism’ referencing United taking an unnecessary kicking.

Personally, for me, the recent pile-on speculating about the legendary ‘115’ was utterly unnecessary because it’s ALL just speculation and reporting the drivel that terrible websites like ‘Football Insider’ etc, are saying (I mean, who gives a shit what the Everton CEO from eight years ago is saying?). Nobody knows what’s going on with that and if F365 had any remaining vestiges of integrity, they’d state that and then wait until we find out the final outcome.

F365 has recently taken to referring to itself as the “formerly good website, Football365”. You know what? They’re not wrong .

If I’m honest, I really don’t expect to see this published. Football365 really needs to up its game because at the moment, it’s not good enough.

Levenshulme Blue, Manchester 19


One Premier League club has upgraded
Reading Mike’s ‘Downgraded managers’ letter, it gave me that most worrying of football fans’ feelings for my own club – optimism for the future.

Unlike the clubs mentioned, West Ham have moved early to secure a good coach with an impressive track record in Lopetegui. Incredibly, Sullivan has managed to create what looks like a solid structure with the club’s real star, Tim Steidten, directing transfers and policy from above, leaving the coach with his clearly defined remit – coaching the players provided.

All this was done before the season has officially ended and with Tim’s signings underway to give the whole team the full pre-season to shape them into a coherent unit. Full marks to Sullivan who doesn’t get the credit for the way he has run the club the last few years.

But, of course, football being football, this is just as likely to blow up straight away next season and we fire Lopetegui within 2 months and bring back Moyes to avoid relegation. But for the summer at least, I will enjoy the optimism of supporting a well-run club.