Ten Hag sack? Or will Man Utd fan ‘dummies’ stick with him like Ole?

Editor F365
Ten Hag Solskjaer Man Utd collage

Manchester United have absolutely failed in the Champions League and it’s Erik ten Hag’s fault. Will the fans turn against him?

It’s a short Mailbox but there’s plenty to discuss if you want to mail theeditor@football365.com


Ten Hag out
Goal difference in UCL-2. Goal difference in Prem 0. A lot of so-called fans have invested so much in ETH and they want to be right so bad they don’t hold him accountable for nothing. He’s single-handedly lowered the standards at the club. Signed up terrible players to long-term contracts. The similarities to the OLE era are alarming especially the inability for the fanbase to recognize mediocrity when it’s in your face. No leadership on the pitch. No leadership in the dugout. ETH out!

There are so many dummies in the fanbase, I expect it to go the same way as Ole so it looks like we’re stuck with him for another season or so despite the results and performances.


Ten Hag has a lot on his plate
James, Kent, asks why Eric Ten Hag isn’t getting more criticism for the Onana/De Gea swap compared to Arteta with Raya/Ramsdale. Apart from the situations being different in many ways, I think the Onana situation is like the eighth-worst thing about Manchester United at the moment, and, after Mount, Sancho, Anthony and Rashford, maybe the fifth-worst recruitment/man-management problem directly attributable to Ten Hag.

ETH’s general “I’m getting the band back together for one last heist – except you, Donny. Not you.” approach with the Ajax 2019 squad probably deserves a lot of further scrutiny and critique. But it’s just another mouldy tyre on the bin fire, isn’t it?
Dara O’Reilly, London


Ba Dum Tish
A football journalist wrote a piece yesterday suggesting that André Onana is starting to find his feet at Manchester United.

It would do no harm if he found his hands too.

Eoin (a great goalkeeper for the neutral fan) Ireland


Are Arsenal becoming like Man City?
I noted with interest this morning that there were (checks notes) no mails about Arsenal winning on Wednesday night. It does feel nice to be in this secure position of winning and not hearing whining (Stewie, etc).

On that point, I wonder if Arteta has actually fostered an ability to keep a lid on the hype since the excitement of last season. He is tremendously organised and has acute attention to detail, so I wouldn’t be surprised if winning in this low-key fashion is all part of the plan/process. I’ll try not to get ahead of myself, but it does smack of Pep and his functional Citeh sides who no one really notices as they stealthily secure the championship. Damn, jinxed it now. Forget I said that, I’ll get back in my box..

Incidentally, I don’t think I’ve actually watched an Arsenal game this season or last. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan but life seems to be getting in the way and I have built a quiet satisfaction that we’ll kind of be ok. I obviously watch the highlights but seeing as tickets are now like diamond encrusted hens teeth, I am missing out on the physical presence of being there in person. My mates, who I typically took season tickets from at face value seasons past, either have no availability or they’re charging mortgage level prices to get hold of a ticket. Downsides of doing well, I suppose. I also can’t afford the subscriptions or the mandatory pint(s) at my local. Has anyone else found they’ve been watching less football, I wonder?

We may be boring, but if we can continue winning and keep the negs away from actually noticing we are, the better we’ll be for it.
JazGooner, Cobham (6-0 in the Champions League, why not 7?? Boring)


That was not an accident, Son
Jon in Lincoln in today’s mailbox seems to suggest that the Son challenge on Gomes a few years back (when Son was in tears afterwards) was entirely accidental, I remember this incident a bit differently however. Son himself had been on the receiving end of an elbow from Gomes just a couple of minutes earlier and it seemed pretty obvious at the time that he went in cynically and too aggressively on Gomes in retaliation (but to be fair he clearly didn’t intend to actually break his leg).

So Spurs fans on their high horses about Matty Cash should look a bit closer to home first if they’re talking about deliberate challenges and injuring players as an outcome.
David Horgan, Dublin


He did it on purpose!
So I read back all the VAR complaints from the Newcastle game and there is a common theme between those and the recent discussion about what to do with players who tackle dangerously and injure another player.

That theme is intent.

Some people argue “well if his arm moves this way it’s obviously because he’s trying to handball on purpose”
“Look his studs are up, clearly he’s trying to injure him”

There’s only one person who knows the intent of an action – the player. Literally nobody else knows. Intent is incredibly difficult to prove. So difficult that court cases take months or years because they have to exhibit a litany of concurrent evidence to prove it.

Many will argue that the handball rule needs work. I’m not one of those. For me if you’re handling the ball, on purpose or not – then it is a foul, because you have stopped the opposition from continuing with their movement via illegal means. If you accidentally kill someone (yeah extreme example I know but stick with me) the court doesn’t let you off to continue your life (mostly). You still get punished.

The issue in football isn’t whether or not the handball is passable or not (it’s called football, unless you’re a keeper it’s never passable) the issue in football is that a penalty feels like an unjust punishment for when the ball ricochets off a body part (more on this in a minute) and into your arm. If the punishment were say…a free kick inside the box with a one man wall where the incident happened, perhaps people wouldn’t complain about it as much.

On the subject of it ricocheting into your arm , people always say that’s accidental but I disagree. If I were to throw a tennis ball off the floor aimed at your face, even at high speed, there’s a very good chance you will deflect it with your hand. In fact when this happens to a goal keeper we call it a “great reaction save” it’s not like using your arm after a ricochet is breaking the laws of physics, I’d argue it’s more likely than unlikely that a player could knowingly use his arm after a ricochet.

Would it feel harsh? Of course it does but that doesn’t mean we should allow it. It’s still illegal. You can’t apply rules *sometimes* they have to apply all the time or it’s not a rule.

On the subject of bad tackles , having known a few professional footballers I’ll default to the position that even players like Gerrard never go into a tackle wanting to cause injury (Haaland case being the solitary exception) there’s a difference between causing injury and wanting to cause it and most professionals are aware of how precarious a football career is and wouldn’t want to prematurely end it for anyone. I don’t think there is ever ‘intent’ not even for prickford. So no I don’t believe players should be banned the same length of time as the injury.

If you’re argument is that a player intentionally injured another there is actually a term for that – grevious bodily harm, but I imagine nobody is going to argue Pickford should be going to jail right? So let’s stop the nonsense about intent to injure since that’s actually a crime.


Lower-league football is thriving, actually
Long time reader, first time mailer.

(ahem – Ed)

A response to the most Tory of mails from Nick in Woking:

No one can predict the future, but if I were speculating (and I am) a super league, assuming that the clubs left the Premier League* would shake out something like this:

* There would be a lag between the super league being announced and it actually starting. Probably a couple of years – there’s a lot to be legally done in several countries, exit agreements to be made etc.

* This time period allows the remaining clubs to have an understanding of what any new TV deal looks like for the Premier League, and cut their cloth accordingly. Outside of the big clubs, contracts are rarely more than 3 years and I’d expect there would be some sort of a divorce settlement for the big clubs exiting to make up some of the shortfall.

We then get a Premier League with new big clubs. After all, how do you define a big club? Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Everton..are Spurs AND Newcastle getting into the super league? There would still be plenty of traditionally well supported clubs in the new look Premier League. Perhaps we end up with a quieter, less money orientated top division. I don’t personally see that as a bad thing.

What I can’t agree with is the assertion that there are “too many football clubs in this country – it is unsustainable”. There have been 92 or more professional clubs in England for decades – this is demonstrably sustainable. Many have survived bad ownership, the collapse of ITV digital, a global pandemic and the disastrous EPPP deal.

Oh, and those crumbs we’re supposed to be thankful for? They are there as part of the disastrous EPPP deal. I’ve been reading for years in this very mailbox how having these small clubs knocking about the place is unsustainable and that we should let them fold or kill them off. Because decades of a community football club is of no importance compared to having a super league/getting rid of the 3pm blackout/screwing clubs over on youth development…and yet, most of us still stand.

Football league attendances are good, generally increasing – there’s really no evidence to suggest the current league structure would be unsustainable for the smaller clubs without the big 6. And that’s who you’re talking about isn’t it? You don’t mean Sheffield Wednesday should cease to exist, you mean Mansfield, or Bradford, or Crewe should go.

As a supporter of one of the clubs you’d cheerfully do away with, I promise you I could not give a tuppeny toss what happens at the top of the English football pyramid. Worst case, the Premier league goes bust and we get out of the EPPP arrangements. Lower league clubs will survive, because just enough people want them to. When you don’t have much, you don’t have much to lose.
Jeremy (watch it burn) Aves

*I mean, they won’t right? No way. They want a European Super League in addition to the Premier league and to bin off all cups so there’s less risk if the new league doesn’t take off and less supporter uproar.