Man Utd might have a strategy worth trusting this time…

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Man Utd might have a strategy worth trusting this time…

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This Woody is no hero
United supporter’s hackles are going to shoot up rather than rise here, because it’s a City man writing, but bear with me.  This is not an attack on them but, rather, an attempt to explain why talk of title challenges and major squad overhauls is, and continues to be, premature.  And why that has been the case, from an outsiders pov, from before SAF left.

Does anybody remember this from David Moyes in 2014?

“I think we’ve played a very good side and it’s the sort of standard and level we need to try and aspire to get ourselves to at this moment in time.  I think we need to play better.  We’re needing to come up a couple of levels at the moment and we’re not quite there”.

Of course you do.  As well as the scandal and furore that ensued.  He was talking about City after the derby at OT where we won 3-0.  How dare he even suggest that the World’s Biggest Club were below the Noisy Neighbours?  There was far worse said than that mind, and not just from supporters.  So-called ‘top’ football journalists were aghast as though he’d just punched the Queen in the face.  What planet was Moyes on?

Thing is though, six years later, and he was right, wasn’t he?

So, what’s changed since then?  Er.  Nothing.  United still ‘need to come up a couple of levels’ to be anywhere near City or Liverpool.  And the single and only reason they aren’t?  Two words.

Edward Woodward.

He’s the constant at United that, ultimately, may mean they don’t win a major trophy again for years.  Why?  Because he has zero interest or experience in building a title-challenging squad.  He is, on the other hand, a genius in marketing.  So, whilst the likes of Ted, Manchester and Garey Vance (amongst others) can not only and quite clearly point out the squad weaknesses, but also realistic potential signings to plug those gaps, he wants to sign Galactico’s.

The United ‘brand‘ is so strong worldwide that all he needs to do is keep signing the odd marquee player whose SM profile is huge and it’s job done.  It does two things.  Firstly, it tells the world ‘we’re still at the top table.  Look who we’ve just signed’.  And, as long as he can keep doing that then the advertisers keep coming back for more with big bucks and so the cycle goes on.  It’s the marketing equivalent of the click-bait crap that Mediawatch (rightly) calls out every day.

The pattern is clear.  You had Pogba, then it was Sanchez, then Bruno.  There have been others, but you get the point.  At the time of writing, here we are again with yet another with another ‘worldy’ in Sancho.  What are the odds he’s one of only two signings in this window?  How many players are STILL there that the majority of Utd fans would’ve happily driven to Heathrow for free years ago?

And still no DoF.  Because, in Ed’s world, he doesn’t need one.  That’s why he’ll end up paying through the nose (again) for the likes of Sancho instead of buying the 2020 equivalents of David Silva, Aguero or Jesus (I cite City players only because I don’t know enough about other PL team bargains).  His goals are achieved and Neil Ashton (and shame on you Ash btw) will tell Neil Custis the next ‘exclusive’ to print.  What he won’t do, and never has done, is improve the squad.

When is the last time United spotted, and signed, a prodigious talent that the rest of us were blissfully unaware of?  Name just three in the last six years?  Not academy graduates, genuine previously unheard-of prodigies.  What’s happening with the scouting department?  Arguably, b*gger all.

If any 365ers can tell me how United will be anything but ‘top-four trophy’ winners whilst Woodward is in the chair, then I’d be genuinely interested in hearing it.
Mark (Would I be out of order in suggesting that Arsenal have been doing the same thing, but on a lower budget?) MCFC

 

Man Utd might have a strategy worth trusting…
, as typical as the over reaction to any decent winning run or win against a big team or young player scoring a goal or any flippin penalty given or not given..

Man utd weren’t beaten by a bunch of cheats or by their own individual errors. They were beaten by a team who is just better drilled, more established at playing together and playing for each other.

Some of utds passing was brilliant and a lot of Sevillas was too. Utd just need to be able to sustain pressure for longer periods of time and to get better at creating more clear cut chances rather than relying on individual brilliance. Sevilla defended as a team and didn’t give utd time to shoot on many occasions. You don’t win games just through creating the most chances or getting the most penalties, you still have to beat the oppositions game plan.

To those that criticise Williams and Greenwood. What are you smoking? Both are incredibly talented and very inexperienced. If you have higher expectations of a forward player who has already matched or beaten the teenage records of Rooney, Kidd and Best then you need to take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. This was Greenwoods breakthrough season and Williams breakthrough half a season. Utds front three are far from the finished article but have amazing potential and I would agree with other mailboxes that their development might be boosted by the added competition of a more established forward player – Sancho would provide the competition but not necessarily the experience to learn from.

Criticism of goals conceded by individual errors is also mis-directed. We now play much more possession based football than at the start of the season yet we are naive to the counter attack that was previously our only game plan. Sevilla, with slick and accurate passing were always going to be dangerous if we committed too many bodies forward and we were rightly punished for that. Without a VVD, Vidic or Rio in defence, we need to protect ourselves from the counter attack more.

Yes, we are a few players short in the squad, but we are still improving which is much better than the constant 2 steps forward and 2 steps back that we have had in previous years. Recent signings have been good, we have got rid of some players that were not part of the future, we just need to continue on this route.

Who knows who we will sign, I’m not getting carried away with the tabloid BS that had us already signed Sancho just as we had already signed Haaland for way more money than he eventually went for. In seasons past I had full trust of Fergie, I’m now beginning to trust Utd actually might have a strategy worth trusting.
Jon, Cape Town (glad the transfer window should largely be overshadowed by actual football being played) 

 

Sign him up…
If the rumours coming out of Italy are true re CR7 then it’s not a bad shout for Man Utd to sign him up. Marketability, media attention, improving first team in a position they desperately need. It ticks all the boxes.

What a buzz that would be going into the new season.
Mark O’Doherty

 

Never hearing the end of it
Remember when United fans (and supporters of other clubs) were very much concerned with “If Liverpool win the league, we’ll never hear the end of it”?

I’m not going to go meticulously through the mailbox, but it seems what supporters of other clubs should actually have been worried about is the success story of United finishing 3rd because we’re sure as hell not hearing the end of that any time soon.
Rob, Brighton.

 

The final tier 2 manager rankings
Ladies and Gentlemen. Boys and Girls.

I have returned from my mailbox sabbatical to bring you the final, definitive and comprehensive Premier League Tier 2 Manager Rankings. My previous submission on these rankings caused quite the stir and conversations were had over a full week, which is exactly what we should all strive for, to encourage constructive conversations on football.

So without further ado, here are your FINAL tier 2 manager rankings.

1. Mikel Arteta
Nothing has changed on this front. Arteta is the only manager in our tier 2 rankings to have won a trophy this season, and rightfully takes his place at the top of the pile. He has visibly given Arsenal renewed belief and purpose, and surely looks to have a plan to take the club forward in the future. How effective these plans turns out to be, we will find out next season. He will need to improve on Arsenals 8th place finish next season, of that there is no doubt.  For now, however, he has earned his top spot on these illustrious rankings, with added bonus being he has not spent a dime on the squad to achieve his FA Cup victory. Also, his dead eyes are hauntingly mesmerizing.

2. Frank Lampard
Lamps retains his 2nd place spot on these rankings. Similar to Arteta, he gets a lot of credit in the bank for not having the chance to make any signings of his own, and has managed to get Champions League football for next season despite a poor 2nd half of the season. The FA Cup Final was, in essence, a battle between him and Arteta for top spot in the manager rankings, and he lost out. There will be a lot of pressure on him next season, having made big signings now, to deliver a trophy and improve on the 4th place finish next season, perhaps even challenge the top 2. My personal favorite Lampard moment of the season was him losing the plot against Liverpool on the final day and getting triggered by Klopps assistant coach yammering away. Fun times.

3. Brendan Rodgers
I received some valid criticism last time on my rankings for not including Rodgers in my Tier 2 Manager rankings, and I think it is fair to say I should have had him in there. New entry Rodgers slides into 3rd place in the Tier 2 Manager rankings, having taken Leicester to a 5th place finish, and delivering the pre-season expectation of breaking the top 6. Now, if Rodgers had gotten Champions League football, as the first half of the season promised, he would have comfortably made tier 2 in these rankings, just based on beating expectations. There is a big question mark over the way his team surrendered their top 4 spot in the 2nd half of the season, but some perspective is needed. In hindsight, a 5th place finish is an excellent achievement for his first full season in charge. Spent a bit of money on Perez, Tielemans and Praet, All 3 have played plenty of games this season, and range from somewhat successful to “jury is still out”. Next seasons target should be to maintain a top 6 spot at the bare minimum, and make a deep run in one or more of the cup competitions.

4. Ole Gunar Solskjaer
Unfortunately for Ole, Rodgers inclusion to the Tier 2 Manager Party has demoted him to 4th place, although this is largely of his own doing by being completely outwitted and outplayed by Sevilla on Sunday. Lets go over the facts again. He has spent more money than any other manager since taking over, more than Pep and Klopp, and has yet to deliver a single trophy. It is one of the poorest returns of silverware delivered in relation to money spent of all time. He has the 2 most expensive Premier League transfers of all time in his squad, and barely scraped a top 4 spot thanks to Leicesters generosity on the final day, and Bruno Fernandes’ penalties. I joke though, Fernandes is a great player, and surely without him it would have been an absolute catastrophe of a season for ManU. It is already a disaster though. No trophies and just a top 4 finish for a team and manager with the highest transfer bill in the country should be unacceptable and raise serious doubts about Solskjaer. His players also look completely knackered, and there is potential for devastating injury problems next season. ManU fans are still backing Ole, and will surely be satisfied with another top 4 spot and no trophies next season with another 200m spent, because ‘progress’. More scrutiny is required though, and Solskjaer will be under massive pressure to deliver a League title or Champions League next season, as the ManU fans have us believing that they are ‘the best team in the country’ since the restart. The pressure is firmly on for next season, not only to deliver a major trophy, but to climb the ladder in these rankings.

On a side note, Pep Guardiola was almost demoted to tier 1.5 for bottling it in Europe once again, leaving Klopp alone in Tier 1, but he will be given another season and 300m before such drastic action is taken. Btw one of the highlights of the weekend was Bernardo Silva getting and writing an emoji filled angry rant at them. Brilliant work Liverpool fans, top stuff.

The new season is almost upon us, and we still have the UCL and Europa League games left to enjoy. Enjoy the remainder of the season lads, and I will be back next season with you all to enjoy another ride.

Toodaloo
johnnyWicky

 

ABUPog365
Can already tell was only published to bash Pogba. People just hate him for the sole fact that he’s Paul Pogba and he plays for Man United. Enlighten us what exactly it is you want Pogba to do? He didn’t ask for that price tag. He isn’t the genius negotiator that is Ed Woodward.

He has performed well but peoples attention will always factor into why he doesn’t do this or do that when he’s already done so much. This isn’t a one man game, it’s 11(3). When you have the inconsistent players or chances being missed by forward players or having 5’7 Fred as your DM , you have to question what or rather who the real faults are.

The Premier League is lucky to have several talented midfielders and Pogba is one of them. He is not a failure, anyone who says so is either trolling or forcing the agenda by pulling out stats that don’t matter. Anyone remember Sky posting Pogba’s % of time walking stat? This would never have happened to any other midfielder if they had a bad game or even if they weren’t playing.

People expect him to score worldies and churn in assists every week, anything else is deemed a complete and utter failure. The moment he leaves the Premier League to go back to Italy or join Real Madrid, then only will he be actually appreciated.

The hate is either linked to him being a United player or something else which certain players like him are a target of, I prefer not to talk about that one so I’ll leave it at that.
PS, Nairobi

 

Barca are failing Coutinho?
I was reading the article by Sarah on the top 10 worst signings current record signings, and ofcourse she had to end up at Coutinho and Barcelona (the current transfer laughing stock). But is Coutinho failing Barca or are Barca failing Coutinho?

The biggest problem at Barcelona is Lionel Messi.

Like a little banana republic holding on to it’s dying dictator who won them independence, Barca cling on to Messi with a religious devotion to the detriment of the club as a whole. It’s almost as though they couldn’t imagine football without Messi.

Coutinho has ALWAYS played well for Barca whenever Messi was not on the pitch. And there-in lies the problem for both Coutinho and Barca. In a years time when Messi, Suarez, Busquets and Pique are finally dropped, Barca will be crying out for an experienced head like Coutinho in their attacking 3rd to aid the youngsters.Make him your “bridging” player

Barca should bite the bullet and ease that old guard out now, accept 2 seasons of mediocrity while making use of the talent they already have on their books, and build for a better Messi-less future. But if the Artur/Pjanic swap deal is anything to go by, that won’t happen any time soon!
Drew (Dublin)

 

Joe Hart
and how Big Joe fits the profile.

My favourite Hart moment was during the World Cup when everyone was lined up in the tunnel clutching the hand of a child for whom this would be the highlight of a lifetime. Enter Big Joe dragging some kiddy along with him whilst beating his chest and screaming “Come On, Come on, fucking come on!!!”, thus terrifying all the children around him, and leaving everyone watching wondering what happened to that nice bloke from Shrewsbury to turn him into such a bell-end.

Ah Joe, don’t ever change….
Bladey Mick (football – it’s embarrassing isn’t it)

 

 

Just a quick gripe, but in the Joe Hart article, we are presented with this assertion regarding this years Champions League: “has accidentally turned out to be far better yet far less lucrative and with far more jeopardy for the biggest fish and thus entirely at odds with the established ethos of European competition”

Far better is so subjective that there’s no point trying to argue either for or against, but I’m not sure where the “far more jeopardy” for the bigger fish has come from. This year’s semi finals have the champions of France and Germany. Last season had the champions of Holland and Spain. 17/18 had the champions of Germany (with the champions of England, Italy and Spain all being knocked out in the quarters). So, unless anyone actually wants to try and argue that Ajax are a bigger fish than PSG (in the here and now, rather than historically), this has actually been the worst season in the last three years for the biggest fish actually being in real danger come this stage of the tournament. But hey, in your crusade to abandon two legs in Europe, write whatever you fancy!
Tom (with barely any pre season friendlies in store for teams, does this mean we still have 3 and a half weeks of nonsense transfer stories to look forward to?)

 

Perspective
Brian from Wexford writes casually that he never cared about Liverpool when United were winning. That’s fantastic Brian but you mention them a lot in your email, trying to pour scorn on last year’s Barca win and also referring to the Atletico match as comfortable for the Spanish side. Sounds like you’re pretty damn interested in them now. Anyhow, Brian also feels that the English exits from Europe proves that standard of the Premier League was poor. Well, do you mind explaining how come four teams from the Premier League made it to the finals of the two European competitions last year?

That must have shown how strong these same teams were. And this shows how weak they are. They were the best and now they’re the worst. Its that simple. I must go online now to see how much it will cost to watch what is truly the best league in the world next season. Of course I am referring to the French League, although after the semis maybe they’ll be the worst. Then I’ll watch the Bundesliga. I wonder if Bayern will win it again…and again. I’m just happy that Liverpool won the Super Cup because that makes them the most Super!

Let’s try not to be so literal guys.
Michael, Ireland

 

Was this the strongest PL ever?
Hi mailboxers,

During the season it was often said that Liverpool were winning during one of the weakest league seasons (which I think was a little bit harsh, to win with 99 points is a great achievement). The riposte I often saw was that this was actually the strongest league ever according to Liveroool fans because four english teams were in the finals of the CL and EL last season. This arguement I found slightly wrong because surely you’d base it off the current season and not the last one.

Fast forward and this season is a different story. Now that its confirmed that only one English team made even the semi’s of the European competitions (Man U in the EL, everyone else was KOd in CL or EL at QF stage earlier) and then got knocked out, will they admit they didn’t win the strongest PL ever?
By the logic they used previously, no teams making the CL semi and only one making the EL semi, proves how weak of the league was his season, especially when compared to the last few seasons (since 2015/16 , english teams made the finals of at least either the EL and CL im every season, however none made it this season though, even though it was the strongest PL ever apparently).

Personally,  I think that the truth is somewhere in between. This years league was weak but I would say 2011s league was weaker (even though Man U made the CL final that year, they had relatively easy draws – Schalke springs to mind), as was 2016s league (not taking anything away from Leicester though, their league win was and is legendary).

Not trying to upset anyone here (though I know this will probably trigger a few of you), winning the league with 99 points is a great achievement. I just thought it was worth asking the question because their was a lot of discussion about this in the mailbox a few months back.
Izzy

 

Top four trophy
The only thing I will say regarding the Top 4 trophy was that it was utterly ridiculed when Wenger called it as such, with people mocking him. But as with most things with him, he was actually right. And all other clubs who didn’t, would love to finish top 4 and have a chance to get into the Champions League.

So squabble over what is better, an actual trophy or a pseudo one, but admit it, Wenger was right.
John Matrix AFC

 

Man City…
Delusional fans eh.

Ben, York (MCFC) appears shocked that people might consider City to be without the same illustrious history as big clubs like Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool or Everton. Funny that… ignoring your hilarious record of most Second Division titles, of your 19 actual domestic honours (Top League Division Titles, FA Cup, League Cup) 11 have been won in the last 10 years. Sounds pretty recent to me my man. And perhaps something to do with the actual record billions invested in your club by your owners.

I’m not going into your comments on self-sustainability, that’s a whole different argument that I’m pretty bored with, but turns out chucking £50 million at each starting position and £30 million at your backups seems to be a solid strategy.

I do agree you’re not a small team, City won 8 domestic and 1 international trophy pre-financial doping which is solid. You’re in good company with Villa, Wolves, Blackburn and Tottenham there. I mean that without sarcasm.

Enjoy your success, you’re currently one of the best teams in the world. Kudos. I’ll still hope that you crumble and that self-made teams like Liverpool beat you.
Alay, Brighton Gooner

 

Euro knockouts
Reading on the European Competitions being single tie knockout rounds from start to finish, without seedlings, therefore adding jeopardy and excitement to the respective competition; things in particular that strike me:

1) This would presumably mean each match being played in a neutral venue unless he is proposing a Europe wide adoption of the FA Cup (minus replays)

2) If so, this means that the in ground viewing public (aka the “real fans that we are missing from grounds so much due to the Rona”) will not have the opportunity to watch their teams unless they want to pay for travel, hotels etc to mutual venues overseas, therefore the working man he champions so much would have even less chance of seeing huge matches live.

3) As touched on in a previous contributors’ mail, seeding is a normality across many sports. Should we remove seedlings from World Cup and European Championship competitions which are played out at neutral venues to remove “the fixing of tournaments”? They don’t seem broke to me.

As a fan of a team not likely to be playing in said European competitions in the near future you can take my view as being either irrelevant or impartial.

I used to find Jonny’s articles a refreshing view outside of the normal media narrative. They now seem to be deliberately being provocative rather than insightful.

It’s a shame really.
Brian (BRFC)

 

Apologies to JN
Hi,

I hate to ask but can you pass on my apologies to John for my Twitter tantrum this morning. I think he’s probably muted me but I have apologised and explained in two replies. I’d hate for him to think me an unreasonable guy and not be able to contribute to his “F365 Loves…” pieces.

I actually really like his work and think I can contribute to the discussions/issues he raises. Sorry John!
Stu 

 

William Ford…
Someone please tell Will that pointing out that he will support Leipzig as they are the lesser of the two evils doesnt make him look like a good guy, especially when he goes on to dismiss it by saying “At least PSG play nice football”
Dale (it actually makes you look a bit of a…)  Leeds 

 

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