Mails on Woodward, Everton, Pep and so much more…

Date published: Wednesday 12th February 2020 9:43

Thanks for a fine crop of mails. Keep them coming to


Woodward has bought no long-term solutions…
Ian Watson raises an interesting question in his article about United’s summer business: ‘When was the last time the Red Devils identified and signed a striker who was a sustained success for any period longer than a season or two?’ I actually think you need to expand that question out even further, to: when was the last time United identified and signed anyone, for any position at the club, who was a sustained success for any period longer than a season or two?

Certainly not in managers, with nobody lasting longer than a couple of years. We’ve lurched between managers of disparate styles and reputations in the intervening period and, while the Solskjaer plan is certainly quite well known, it’s again vastly different from anything that has come before it since Fergie. And then there’s the coaches, where we have a mixture of Ferguson’s staff and players, some of Van Gaal’s, some of Mourinho’s and (as far as I know) none of Solskjaer’s own unique picks.

Not in goalkeepers, either, with De Gea still undisputed first choice. Perhaps there was no need to bring in genuine competition (which is debatable in itself) and perhaps you could class Romero as a player who has been a sustained success, but even then it is only in a back-up capacity.

Defenders? Really quite clearly not. Wan-Bissaka and Maguire may go on to be mainstays of the United defence for years to come but half a season is too early to tell. Bailly has been a disaster because of a shocking injury record and inconsistent form, Lindelof is patchy at best, while Shaw combines both those aspects. It’s telling that probably our most consistently good defender this season is Brandon Williams.

Midfield has been an absolute joke. I don’t think you could get close to describing Pogba’s time at United as successful, while even Herrera – who many argue was United’s best midfielder – was never an indisputable first choice under any of his three managers. Then there’s Fellaini, Matic and Fred, all of whom have gone through periods where you just don’t know why they are playing. Further forward, Mata has had periods where he looked brilliant but, like Herrera, has struggled for consistent starts, only once breaching 30 league starts in a season.

So Ian is absolutely correct to question the thinking behind United’s recruitment but the importance of signing a striker is really just the tip of the iceberg. As we saw with Lukaku, whose form in Italy does nothing to overwrite the absolute dog dirt performances he regularly turned in for United (regardless of his goal tally, his all round game was appalling), it doesn’t matter who you put up front if you don’t create good chances for them, so signing good players behind said required striker is of equal importance. There’s nothing in the Woodward era to suggest that they are even remotely capable of remedying this problem, so I expect it to be another window of ineptitude and inaction. If Ighalo gets off to a good start then I wouldn’t be surprised to see him signed up as the sole attacking option, with mooted moves for Dembele, Sancho and Grealish all failing to materialise.
Ted, Manchester


Hailing Carlo
Ken, Ireland wrote that we should not yet judge Everton based on the last 5 games that they have won because those are the matches that they were supposed to win anyway. I disagree. Under Marco Silva, we could not manage to win when we were supposed to win, but we lost when we were supposed to lose. We would certainly have lost to Watford after trailing 0-2. This is why he was sacked.

So, I’m quite happy with what Ancelotti has done so far. It’s early days for sure. And the next few games will be tough. But for now, I will settle with getting points that we are supposed to get.
Nick, EFC


…I see your point, however you have to take in the following:

Prior to Ancelotti’s arrival, how many away games have Everton won under their last two managers?
Prior to Ancelotti’s arrival, how many times have Everton come from behind to win a match under their last 2 managers?

Basically Carlo has done in 10 games what his predecessors failed to do over full seasons.

I mean, I can’t still take it in that he’s our manager. With all the excellent articles about him and Everton on F365 at the moment, you see plenty of pictures. However, I see the picture and the title and I think that they haven’t included a photo of the Everton manager to match the story, then I realise, holy fuck Carlo is our manager!

We are Evertonians, we take what semblance of happiness we can get and Carlo just makes things seem lovely. Even though it’s still mostly nail-biting with that idiotic mini-T-Rex between the sticks.
Fat Man


Thanks for Pep perspective
Another really balanced piece by Sarah W today regarding Pep or as some idiots refer to him the ‘fraud’.

Completely rational thinking is fast becoming a rarity within the sport i love so much. I do believe i know the one of the main causes of such stupid statements like Stan’s and the fault is at the door step of FIFA sports, it has ruined a entire generation and poisoned another. No longer can footballers be appreciated for a performance or run of form, instead they wait for FIFA to announce their ratings. No longer can we give credit in defeat, instead we get “bottler” or “loser”.

No longer can a player be lauded once Messi, Ronaldo or some other player in a completely different environment, playing a completely different role, in a completely system exist. And now the Ex-pros and media know this and play up to this with knee jerk headlines and short term principles. This “brand” of football intellect and rational, coupled with deviant that is social media, has rendered the wider football community dense and without a understating or appreciation for the sport, commitment and achievements that make it so beautiful. It’s all about sensationalism and ex-pros would rather give us a controversial take rather than a genuine insight using knowledge they have garnered through their own careers, because the majority of fans under 40 have “done it all online mate” and they don’t need or want your insight, they want abuse or banter, something you can put in a meme for the “big W bro”.

I owned a barber shop and watched an entire generation (x2) talk about players in terms of speed ratings “nah hes not better hes only 77 and xyz is 81” and now everyone refers to positions as CDM or CAM. its infuriating and this extends to adults and again ex-pros on social media would rather talk about FIFA20 or in FIFA20 lingo than their actual careers!

Anyway at least I’m in my safe place on F365.
Luke (32 BTW not that old)


Why do Brits get the worst TV deal?
Okay, ingratiating (annoying) grovel first. I’ve been a follower of F365 since the emailed, analogue Danny Kelly days, which definitely ages me. Hey, I can even remember going to the Billy Liddle testimonial at South Liverpool’s ground (sadly long gone) and watching rnc The Little General Ferenc Puskas play in that game.

I’ve only engaged with the mailbox once and wasn’t published (your loss). Can’t even remember what made me write (probably the wine. Sorry people, don’t really like the ale, probably my age ).

But, Is it just me who wonders why all our F365 friends and family around the world have access to EVERY (English Premier League, and as much as I hate the acronym I’m going to use it, EPL game, either free or for a smallish fee when we have to either a) spend a fortune on BT and/or Sky or get a VPN and watch the games illegally?.

I’ve no problem with the rest of the world watching the EPL, the more the merrier, and in fact it provides a perspective on the game in this country that would likely be otherwise difficult to get or completely ignored. (There’s a ‘but’ coming).

But, I’m not stupid, I know the arguments about the Saturday 3 o’clock embargo, how the game’s all about money and merchandising, club profit maximisation etc.

Still why do we put up with it. Why do we put up with the rest of the world (good luck to them) being able to see all the EPL football on TV or laptop, tablet, phone, when we can’t? Don’t get me started on the TV coverage of the FA Cup.

And now, Dick Masters (thanks Johnny Nic) is talking about streaming for the REST OF THE WORLD but not the UK. The level of arrogance and complacency in that objective is outrageous. He couldn’t care less about you, the UK football watching public never mind the real fans who have the kick-off times screwed around so much that no-one knows when a game is on until the TV companies announce it. If you don’t or can’t get to the game it’s taken for granted you will continue to bow at the BT, Sky altar as humble supplicants,and accept the hugely expensive small crumbs you are offered.

All hail the money god!

You know what to do.
GT (LFC, maybe next year will be our year) Somewhere close to home


Bielsa, Allardici and managers prepping troops
I’ve just done my annual re-watch of Band of Brothers, and can’t help wondering if Bielsa might be the Lt. Sobel of Easy Company.

In Band of Brothers (and reality) Lt. Sobel commanded and absolutely thrashed E-Coy through training – only beyond the best was good enough!

They were superb, but when it came to the real deal (wargames/exercises/not getting your lads killed) Lt. Sobel showed himself to lack nerve and have habit of overworking his lads and mistreating his subordinates. So they snapped and he was removed.

One he was removed, and replaced with a more ‘everyman, easygoing, yet just as dedicated,’ officer, E-Coy became one of the all round outstanding units of WWII.

I initially laughed at the TalkSport caller who wanted Big Sam to take over from Bielsa, but thinking about it it makes sense.

Bielsa has thrashed these lads into supreme form and focus, but clearly they can’t carry out a full season of what he wants – similar collapse 2x seasons in a row after wonderful starts.

Big Sam is a proven manager with simple tactics and motivational techniques – get him in there, simplify what’s going on, concentrate on winning whatever the means, and every chance we’ll end up seeing the best of what Bielsa was coaching, much as Ranieri brought out best of what Pearson had taught.

P.S. A f365 article on managers who laid the ground for their successors would be interesting.
Calum, Scotland


The ‘nearly’ goal
In response to Ollie about the best non-scoring moments, this thunderbolt by Jamie Carragher in his last game..

I was in the Kop End (my first visit!) right in line with the shot and everyone there was looking around giggling with tears in their eyes after it all thinking the same thing… “We’d have all f**king died if that had gone in!”
Aussie Dave in Manila


…For people of a certain age, there is only one answer to Ollie’s (can people please include YouTube link…) question “what’s the best non-goal you’ve ever seen? A cracker ruled out, or one of those “that would’ve been amazing” moments?

Chris Waddle’s shot from just outside the centre circle in the semi final of the World Cup, against West Germany. Every time I see it I’m willing it in. This article captures the moment perfectly.

Oh and since you asked nicely, it’s at 2:50 on this video:

Bill, Aberdeenshire


Loving a rival player
Graham (Norf London) asked which rival players we secretly admired. As a lifelong LFC fan, Man United’s dominance of the 1990’s was hard to endure. But the sliver lining on that cloud for me was Paul Scholes. I’d watch Man United games hoping they’d lose (of course), but mostly just to see him play. Absolutely extraordinary. The vision, touch, passing range and the shooting. Loved him, but it was tainted by the badge on his shirt. Made me feel a dirty inside, but couldn’t stop watching. He was my football porn. Even now, if you asked me to choose between Stevie G and Paul S in their prime, I’d have to think about it. A lot. That’s heresy I know, but that should give some indication as to how much I rated him. Also secretly admired Cantona’s swagger, but never loved him like Scholes.

Dennis Bergkamp would be the only other that comes close; didn’t love him as much, but it wasn’t as tainted either.
Colin (confessing makes me feel dirtier) M, NZ


…Graham Simons asks which rival player we secretly loved. I can look no further than Paul Scholes.

This love has been slightly dampened because I don’t like him that much as a pundit but he was a one club man, totally loyal to Man Utd and my goodness he was a player. The way he could pick passes of all varieties was magnificent. He is one of those players who stats simply can’t do justice to; you had to watch him orchestrating to know how amazing a conductor he was.

But the thing I loved most about him was his sheer bastardery. Loved a two-footed challenge, looked like they could go in a book by Roy Keane called, ‘Make football great again’. He had this incredible innocent look when a referee would be brandishing a red card like he couldn’t believe something was wrong with smashing someone studs up at the knees.

I think I hated him at the time but looking but now it was hate cloaked in love. I wish he’d played for us.
Minty, LFC


…Great question posed by Graham the Gooner. One player who I’d always loved and desperately wanted to come to the Premier League (hopefully to Liverpool) was Zlatan. I wanted him to come here and ram all the comments and newspaper stories of “hes a flat track bully in inferior leagues and will never be able to do it in the Prem” down everyone’s throat. He eventually did come to the Premier League, to Man United…. I was gutted but happy at the same time, finally going to see one of my favourite players week in week out and I secretly hoped he’d bang them in while at the same time hoping united got beat like 4-3. It was only fleeting but while he was here and fit to play he was his majestic/mercurial self and dispelled the myth he could never do it on a cold wet Wednesday night in Stoke. I wish he would’ve stayed longer in the league and I’m sure a lot of United fans do too.
MickT (back in the day I also had a soft spot for Andrei Kanchelskis) Liverpool


…In response to Graham in Norf London, I will come right back and say Van Persie. It makes me feel so very dirty to say it but my word, I had it bad to see him in white at the Lane.
Jon (off to take a shower), Lincoln


Almost strike partnerships
Best strike partnership that never was? Maradona and Van Basten. Best Premier League version? Cantona & Shearer.
John, Chicago


Don’t diss David
I have to take umbrage with your assertion that David Luiz is ‘certainly not as good as his honours list would suggest’. How has he not been as good as a player who won what he won? He’s been an important player for some of the best teams in Europe over the course of his career, as they have won leagues and cups, including the Champions League. He’s not Djimi Traore ffs. If you want to put an asterisk on his CL triumph because Chelsea maybe rode their luck a little bit, then as an Arsenal fan I’ll be only so glad to apply the same logic to the whole squad.
Paul (don’t even get me started on the lack of Andre Santos)

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