Using Arsenal’s fixtures to pinpoint Emery’s exit…

Date published: Thursday 13th June 2019 9:52

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Fixtures out, Emery out
Gadzooks – Arsenal have a terrible run of matches to start the season.

Given we’ll still be waiting on Holding and Bellerin to return, I can’t see us putting any sort of run together until November.

And as this is Emery’s last year of his contract, I reckon he’ll be fired after a thrashing from City at home in December – so he would have started against City and finished against City.

Vieira and Freddie in the dugout come May?
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


In defence of Ashley Young
I know it’s fashionable to treat Ashley Young as totemic of Man United’s mediocrity since Sir Alex, but I feel like we’ve all gone overboard. Sure, Young isn’t a great right back – mostly because of his questionable positioning. But let’s just cast an eye over his career (or his wikipedia page!) Started as a promising right winger for Watford, switched to Villa and played on either wing, contributing goals and assists regularly. Second highest assists in the League in 2007-8 and the only outfield player from outside the big 4 to be included in the team of the year. Moved to United and played primarily on the left wing as an inverted winger. Scored twice in the 8-2 against Arsenal with his trademark goal from the left wing. Since then, has played on both flanks in attack and defence for United and had a few decent years. Sure he’s not the global elite player we all wish he was, but the guy has tried his best in whatever position he’s been stuck in. I’m betting he didn’t ask to play right back. Hasn’t made a fuss, been a good captain, and clearly cares for the club and the arm band. And certainly not the least, I’ve seen him after a game at Old Trafford spend almost an hour signing autographs and taking selfies for fans, on the same day when Di Maria barely glanced at the fans before hopping on the bus.

I get that he’s past his prime and probably shouldn’t be our first choice right back. But he’s a pretty good utility player who could put a shift in on either wing and wouldn’t expect to be playing every minute or every game. And especially at a time of transition, with a large number of players set to move out, players like Young would be key to sustaining the dressing room culture and focus. Like it or not, he’s our senior statesman and we need players like him to hold together what is likely to be a bunch of new, young players who will all be getting used to the club.
Ved (Culture IS the DNA) Sen


Short-term approach doomed to fail
Interesting to see all these articles and advice to United regarding their team – either needing a boatload of signings or, in the case of the afternoon email, a boatload of exits (which didn’t quite make sense as a riposte to the signings article – not quite clear what happens to the void.

In many cases there are comparisons to Liverpool – that United need to buy like Liverpool did last year in bringing in a world class central defender and goalkeeper.

What it ignores is the work Klopp did with the squad he inherited. No moaning, no transfer requests. Just trying to find time (without a pre-season) to coach the individual players, improve them, give them a team plan within which to work, to work out who were the ones that will fit in the short term, medium and long term. Then, replace one or two players, get a pre-season under way, and get them all working to the longer term team strategy. Finally, bring in some world class players who would raise the standard of the whole team.

No one thought Salah, Mane or Robertson would be world class. Nor that Firmino would be so integral to Klopp’s master plan. Or that he would be willing to see the world class potential of TAA. This all happened BEFORE the truly big splash.

In Liverpool’s case, it could be said they were willing to give Klopp the time because they hadn’t done much in the prior ten (or more) years. Whereas for United, their dominance was still relatively recent. Hard to not want to jump back right away. But now, after Moyes, Van Gaal and Mourinho, it is clear there has been no plan – only the thought that they were always just one or two big spends away from the top table.

I thought Solskjaer might be able to do it, when he got on that winning run of games. Not making United great, but at least building a foundation of what could work in the short term – giving the players a plan, working on improving them bit by bit, so they could take that year to build back up. While I suspect Solskjaer may still be thinking that way, it is clear the media aren’t and with the media pushing them for big name hires, it will create a groundswell of United fans baying for blood. Get rid of Shaw and those other wastrels. Bring in Bale, Koulibaly or De Ligt – regardless that they would want Champions League football or at least a top manager and a team that is incredibly competitive.

Right now, United wanting/needing/being pushed to be a Premier League contender for next year – and not building for the longer term – will be there biggest downfall.

Of course, they could do a City. But City wasn’t just about spending big. When they put Txiki Begirstain and Ferran Soriano in place, it was to build the club up properly – and then bring in Guardiola as the final piece of their jigsaw. Who are their equivalents at United?
Paul McDevitt


…Lots of talk about who’s coming in at United but I agree with Al LFC that they need to display a similar urgency shipping players out. If anything, I’d argue its a far bigger concern. Its not about who in the squad was most responsible for the shit show of a season we just had, its about making a statement to everyone watching that what happened was unforgivable. Heads need to roll and they need to roll without sympathy.

I think many United fans wouldn’t shed a tear if half the squad was sold, but for that to happen there needs to be an incentive for any of the rubbish players to actually want to leave. There are only 3 reasons why a player decides to switch clubs before their contract expires – it’s either to play more, to earn more, or to win more. Different players prioritise different things, but at the end of the day, if you don’t feel you’re playing enough, earning enough, or in a team matching your ambition, you’re likely to want to push through a move. And that’s the problem at United, none of the deadwood have an incentive to actually want to leave.

Take the chuckle brothers. Both earn 130k p/w – comfortably double the next best offer they’d get if either left. Both would be good players for mid-table teams, but neither would receive genuine interest from teams regularly competing for honours. Both still get plenty of game time with both playing around the same number of games last season as they’ve averaged over their (embarrassingly long) United careers.

So if you’re a chuckle brother, Rojo, Ashley Young, Matic, Lingard, ..(ill stop now before I name practically the whole squad), why would you give up the prestige of being at one of the world’s biggest clubs, just to move to a smaller club where you’ll still play a similar amount but for less money and with a much lower chance of winning something.

If reading this wasn’t enough for you to join me in feeling a bit depressed (or ecstatic depending on your allegiances) about where United are at right now, then surely this next nugget will. Smalling has featured more times in a United shirt than Vidic….this was before he signed a 4 year contract extension 6 months ago.
(Still) A concerned fan


…Matt Stead’s article doesn’t go far enough in its criticism of how badly Man Utd’s transfer policy is failing.

The reason Liverpool were able to make a profit on Kevin Stewart was because of the increasingly sweeter deals that the premier league pays its teams. It has jacked up transfer fees for all but clearly hasn’t gone far enough to allow Man Utd to clear players, even notionally, at a profit.
Minty, LFC


…Keep hearing that United haven’t appointed a technical director yet. Someone who knows the united way and who can return the club back to buying young English talent and playing more attractive football. Someone to remove the over paid players or ones who cant control a football and set united up for the coming years…..
They have done this, its only a matter of time (most say Christmas) until Ole moves up and takes that position he is made for.
Steve James


Lucky Liverpool
Ferg, mate, I think if you actually read Lewis’ mail he clearly stated that he wasn’t saying Liverpool were lucky, he was talking about an almost unprecedented, relentless head of steam built up over the course of the season whereby Liverpool never, not once, lost momentum – and momentum is everything in a close title race. It’s been a while to be sure but I definitely remember the feeling of how crucial momentum is when there is a particularly close title race.

Ferg’s reaction to instantly go on the defensive and feel like his beloved Liverpool have been savagely attacked is just so far beyond cliche. The general consensus I believe is that Liverpool had to win this season and their failure to capitalise on their opportunity is going to make it very difficult for them to instantly regroup and come back as strong next term. It will be very difficult for Liverpool to reproduce their form of last season. It genuinely probably won’t be as difficult for City to reproduce their form as they have averaged 99 points over the last two seasons.

Fans like Ferg are the reason why people generally dislike Liverpool; over-reactions, complaints about compliments….it’s all just boring now.
City for the title, Spurs to finish second, Liverpool third and Chelsea fourth. United will struggle early doors but recover in the second half of the season to give hope that the shitstorm may finally clear….
Mangor, Belfast


WWC wonder goal
For those still a bit sniffy about the level of skill at the WWC, check out the 2nd Nigerian goal against Korea yesterday. Nigeria attack and as they enter Korea’s half a sublime pass, that KDB would be proud of, is made to the feet of a Nigerian forward. She runs right onto it and into the box fending off a defender and rounding the keeper in one sweeping move. Just as you think she’s knacked it and both she and the ball are about to cross the back line, she somehow hits the ball with the inside of her right foot and, from an Aguero-style ridiculous angle, it goes in. If you didn’t see it, google it.

Apologies for my ignorance of the names/positions of the players involved. Could fellow mailers oblige?
Mark (Seriously. What a goal). MCFC.


Reading list
Some excellent picks in the summer reading list yesterday. I couldn’t agree more with Simon’s assessment of The Miracle of Castel di Sangro. Read it last year (or was it this year?) and it is magnificent.

I would recommend: Tim Parks’ A Season with Verona. If The Miracle of Castel di Sangro provides a view from inside the club, A Season with Verona is all about the fan. Parks travels with the Hellas Verona supporters to each and every away game, writes about the highs and lows, the players and the league, Italy and football.

Soccermatics: Mathematical Adventures in the Beautiful Game, David Sumpter

Explores the mathematical and statistical patterns of football, from passing to betting.

What’s on my reading list for this summer?

1. The Nowhere Men, Michael Calvin

2. Football in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano

3. Provided You Don’t Kiss Me: 20 Years with Brian Clough, Duncan Hamilton

Almost two months of no football to watch, but plenty to read about.


…Further to the various reading suggestions in the letters, I must throw in a couple of suggestions here.

David GoldBlatt’s The Game of Our Lives is an excellent book about the history of English football, whilst Andrew Jennings The Dirty Game is an extraordinary read about Sepp’s FIFA – not read the David Conn one, but I suspect it is a good partner piece to that.

Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid is a really interesting history of changing tactics and I’m currently working through Peter Crouch’s How to Be a Footballer which is very entertaining.

I cannot however, recommend Kaiser! by Rob Smyth highly enough. The story of ‘The Greatest Footballer to Never Play Football’ is an absolute page-turner and packed with couldn’t-make-it-up craziness. You’ll love it. More to the point, you’ll love Kaiser.
Rob, Bournemouth


…Following on from the suggestion of Mike, LFC, London, a few titles for summer reading that people may find useful.

I’m Not Really Here by Paul Lake

I’d never heard of him before I took a punt on buying this book but it was well worth it. A promising former Man City midfielder whose career was cut short through injury, and the mental toll that placed on him.

Back from the Brink by Paul McGrath

One of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read, but that’s not to say it’s an enjoyable read. Heart-breaking for long spells but beautifully written and unflinching in its account of a very troubled childhood and even more troubled adult life.

Niall Quinn, The Autobiography

I know he seems about as interesting as a creosote covered fencepost but I really enjoyed his book. It’s funny and some of his stories from his time with Ireland were very good, as well as his recounting of contract negotiations with Man City.

Today We Die A Little: The Rise and Fall of Emil Zatopek, Olympic Legend

Nothing to do with football, I just think everybody should read about Emil Zatopek. A fascinating book about one of the all time great sportsmen, his legendary approach to training and competition, and the sad end to a remarkable life.

Unfortunately, I have just realised that the Niall Quinn book is probably the most upbeat of my suggestions. Maybe buy a joke book as well to supplement these recommendations.
Rory D, Leix

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