Keep your mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
A touch of the Zizous about De Bruyne
Of all the wonderful, majestic things that Zidane did on the pitch, what stands out in my mind most about him is the steely unbreakable confidence he had in himself. There was just something about the way he carried himself, that screamed “I am the best player on the pitch” in an authoritative, but completely unpretentious way. There were no words involved, as he seemed to generally work silently on the pitch. It was all about the confidence with which he did everything, whether it be a pass, a pirouette, or a shot. It seemed to force even the other players on the pitch to stop for a second and take in the sheer quality of the player. And this would be the case regardless of the caliber of opposition he was up against.
I’ll whisper it quietly, but Kevin De Bruyne gives me those same vibes when I see him on the pitch. He has that same authoritative aura, which is not transmitted vocally, but simply the no nonsense and single minded manner in which he goes about playing his game. He sprays the ball around, and carries it with an air of defiance, almost challenging others to stop him. As an example, take that goal he scored against Arsenal last season at the Emirates, where he just completely leathered the ball first time from a cross into the box and smashed it in off the underside of the cross bar. That authoritativeness and complete confidence in his technique to pull that off.
To clarify, I am not saying KDB is as good as Zidane, because he is not. Zidane was almost a deity on the pitch. KDB could potentially ascend to such a position, but not yet. It is more a case of, KDB gives me that same vibe when I watch him on the pitch, when it comes to mentality, that I used to get watching Zidane.
What a player. I love you Hendo and Mane, but KDB is the best player in the Premier League and deserves the PFA Player of the Year Award.
I agree wholeheartedly with the mail from James, Galway about how Solskjaer is a little under-appreciated and a step up from the dross of Van Gaal and Mourhino (although I did like Van Gaal – he won us a FA Cup for the first time in a long while, he just got scared of attacking after Leicester beat us 5-3). I sometimes also wonder why Ole is given less respect as a similarly inexperienced manager of a big club in Frank Lampard but it’s probably mainly due to being in the utd hot-seat.
However, I feel the difference in points between Solskjaer and his predecessors has a lot to do with one of the most expensive players in the world being injured for two thirds of the season. With Utd’s lack of creativity pre-Fernandes, Pogba was a crucial part of the team even if he didn’t showcase his talent every game. Fred and McTominay did a great job of shielding the defence and our strikers also did a good job of scoring despite a lack of creativity behind them but Pogba undoubtedly would have turned some of the draws into wins just for the fact that he would have kept Perreira or Lingard on the bench (and sorry Ted, if Gomes can’t get a few more appearances ahead of those 2 then he can gladly go and ply his trade somewhere else – we just hope it doesn’t end up being a Pogba-esque mistake) Solskjaer has tried many youth players off the bench, in Europa and in the cups – Williams and Greenwood took their chance, the others know they need to improve. Better hyped players than Gomes have also failed to take their chances.
Utd’s current squad, 1st XI, and way of playing are better than any period since Fergie left. I’d go as far to say we’re also better than the last 2 or 3 seasons under Fergie – especially that last one where we were absolute pants – Fergie did have some sort of cheat mode enabled. We’re more exciting to watch than those last 2 or 3 seasons but no-one can over achieve in terms of points like Fergie.
So yes, we may end up with a “poor” points total this year, but we might make top 4, might win a trophy and will almost certainly go into next season with a much better squad than we have started around the last 10 seasons. I’ll take that.
Jon, Cape Town (Jose out)
Doing the Glazers’ work
I’d like to draw your attention to one aspect of Solskjaer’s management style which I believe is working out well for United. He never ever criticises a player, and publicly always talks about how great the player is and how important they are to the United cause. This isn’t going where you probably think its going. I’m not talking motivation. Rather, I’m thinking market value. Lukaku was always spoken in glowing terms, till he went for 70m plus. Alexis Sanchez “will surprise you” according to Ole. Now Inter may want him, and tbh, any number would be a positive for United, but Solskjaer’s comments will certainly not devalue him. Pogba has never been described in anything but as a huge asset to the team, despite the spats with his agent. If one of the clubs were to come in for him, there’s no sign that United want him to go. Compare this with previous managers who have seen hordes of players leave for nothing, or significantly below market value (with the possible exception of Schneiderlin!). Or even the attitude of Guardiola or Mourinho, who make their displeasure with certain players very public. Quite apart from anything else, it gives prospective buyers great leverage in the negotiating process. Leroy Sane for 55m? That’s a steal for a player definitely in the same league as Sancho. We all know that Lingard and Pereira may soon be surplus to requirements, and De Gea may have reached the end of the line. But the tactic being used by Solskjaer will at the very least ensure that United recover more value from these players than the club might have done in the past. It’s also a reminder that the managers utterances of support aren’t necessarily a sign of a long term future at the club, mind you. I seem to remember that also being a Fergie tactic. He’s learnt well.
On a different note, has De Gea ever saved a penalty?
Ved Sen, MUFC.
Gomes and Firmino
I’d like to address a couple of points brought up in the mailbox recently if I may. Firstly Ted’s point regarding Angel Gomes. Although it’s disappointing to lose what looks like a promising youth product, I can’t be only one to have noticed the few minutes he has played he’s been a bit turd. So many attacks broke down going through both him and Chong. They may come good but they both clearly not ready hence the lack of playing time. I mean even the (according to you) below average Lingard and Pereira have managed to score/assist at least 1 goal Each. Besides an Angel playing for the Red Devil’s. It’s not going to work out 😂
Finally the question what does Firmino do. Doesn’t score enough but He holds the ball up well, bring others into play and his teammates love playing with him. He’s central to the way his team plays.. Ladies and gentlemen I present to you Emile Heskey 2.0
Good to see the discussions on what Bobby Firmino does appear again in the mailbox. As Oscar Wilde said the only worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
One of the reasons I like reading the mailbox and F365 is it doesn’t appear to have an editorial line in the same way as some papers. If a writer likes a player they can write that they like a paper. When Bobby first signed for Liverpool F365 published two articles, one saying his workrate, pressing and interception stats demonstrate the player far beyond his goal scoring and another taking the exact same stats and saying who wants a busy bee without the goals. Pretty sure that happened if you can find the links Ed.
I’m a Liverpool fan and I don’t care how many goals Bobby scores. In the same way I dont care how many assists Henderson gets and I don’t care how many times VVD gets dribbled past. That’s not their jobs. Their jobs are to win football matches. Bobby makes Liverpool win football matches.
Salah is the fastest liverpool player to 50 goals next to Bobby. The players next to him have won 3 golden boots in 2 years. His goals this season in the prem have only come away from home. No scoring the 5th and 6th goal at home like City strikers. And all the other stats which show that this Liverpool team are more than quite decent.
Would I prefer it if he scored more? Sure, but I’m not going to prefer the opposite am I? I’m not going to claim Bobby’s the Real Ronaldo of strikers. But he makes it all happen.
And he has some f*cking white as teeth.
Alex, South London
Gomes isn’t up to it
Is Ted really going to complain that the on average the youngest team in the premiership who’s current 1st 11 only has one outfield player regularly over 30.
Is he really complaining that Utd aren’t giving more game time to Tuanzebe ,Levitt and Garner, who have had the misfortune of being injured frequently when an opportunity to use them has arisen ( Tuanzebe is injured till September as we speak having been injured most of this year).Is he going to play Williams, over a still 24 year old Shaw just to pad stats at a time when the goal posts have changed and a lot of pundits of fans now see getting top 4 as the main measure of success this year.
If he is so fixated on Chong and Gomes as a solution ,can he go back and watch them loose the ball frequently and be virtually absent in Europa league games , resulting in 427 mails from disgruntled fans that they never play again.
Does Ted realise that before Gomes was the flavour of the month in the U 23’s that role has been held by Harrop as well as shit and shitter ( Lingard and Perreirra) . Harrop who you had a similar groan about two years ago ,is still not first choice at Preston.The role of number 10 ,was aso this season at various times shared with Pogba (got injured didn’t care and Mata (usually too slow in the premiership now.If Gomes wasn’t outstanding in Europa i struggle to see what he could have done in the premiership which is actually a higher standard .
If the current opportunities being given aren’t good enough, players are welcome to try other options like LIverpool were the manager, didn’t watch their greatest achievement and who have done a marvelous job with Ben woodburn or Phil Foden, who is only getting starts 3 years after . Chelsea and Arsenal have been okay but haven’t utilised youngsters that much more.The coach in the end must do what benefits the team ,not just one fan with a number 10 obsession in row 34 B
Chong and Gomes had a similar choice,They got similar amounts one decided to stay and try and fight possibly go on loan,the other decided to try his luck somewhere else I wish them both luck.
Where next for West Ham?
After the results at the weekend it seems like West Ham are safe for another year; yes they’re only 4 points clear, but honestly I can’t see any two out of Bournemouth, Villa or Watford getting a point a game until the end of the season. So this got me thinking of where they go from here?
For most of the past decade West Ham’s owners have seemingly been aiming for the top 6 judging by their many public statements on the matter. Their method of doing so seems to be spending each summer signing top six cast offs, chasing big name imports and hiring managers on a downward career trajectory in the hope of discovering a short cut to the top 6. Having seen it blow up in their faces once again is there a chance they’ll amend their model this summer?
This summer should be a sobering moment for the owners as to the direction of their club. They aren’t likely to gatecrash the top 6 after one summer of recruitment, much less remain there. Instead, if they could curb their usual instincts, imagine if they structured their playing staff at all levels to play quick passing football and hire managers to fit that mold (basically Swansea and Southampton from 2011-2016). After years of washed up stars treating them as the Florida of the Premier League I imagine it would energise the fanbase to see consistent attractive football under a manager who is proud to manage the club, even if results don’t follow; I won’t use the phrase “The West Ham way”, but it’s been a long time since West Ham embraced the ideals that every fan strives for and could be the only realistic thing to make the London Stadium feel like home. Dare I say it having an actual club identity besides slapping the word London on everything and they may even become more attractive to investors and get those stadium naming rights.
I realise I’m hardly reinventing the wheel here, but this feels like a defining summer in West Ham’s modern history. Keep searching for quick fixes and risking financial oblivion for a slim chance at gatecrashing the elite, or follow the lead of similar clubs who have managed that feat and build towards it.
Kevin (or they could do neither and just keep Moyes in the summer), Nottingham
BBC v Sky
Interesting take from Marc regarding the lack of quality of the BBC pundits. I would much rather sit through three minutes – which I believe is all they get to present and discuss a game – and move on to the next than sit through a longer amount of time listening to inane drivel from anyone regardless of what broadcaster happens to be showing the matches or highlights. I’m sure Shearer and Richards could well be more elaborate and more articulate given more time. Players and managers are now ‘media trained’ which basically means they never say anything remotely interesting at all. Ever. Manager wins = “it was a really difficult game, but I’m pleased with the three points”. Manager loses = ”we have no excuses, and we move on to the next game.” Steve Bruce or Mark Hughes loses = “the referee cost us today.” Everyone = “VAR is bad”. Everyone (correction) = “the rules of the game are bad which VAR exposes as being unfit for purpose.” Everyone = “he’s not that sort of player.” Boring. I rarely bother with Football Focus or any pre- or post-match media.
I watched the Liverpool – Villa game on Sunday, and it was on Sky. Where do I start… Why on earth Sky have the brass neck to charge us actual money for watching their coverage is beyond me. I literally just want to watch the football, and that is it. Why are the views of commentators, co=commentators, pundits, and presenters inflicted upon us? Why do I have to listen to people spout tedious nonsense over the top of a game? Why am I subjected to their views without my consent? Why can’t I turn them off? It really ruins my enjoyment of watching football. If we must have them, then why can’t we vote on who we want to commentate on games for us (if anyone at all)? They are actively ruining the very product they are employed to promote, ironically. If coverage is meant to entertain, why do they persist with this format? Why not just show the goals or the match itself? Before slagging off the BBC too much, the free-to-air matches were the highest viewing figures for a match for some considerable time. It seems like people really aren’t up for paying two sets of fees to Sky and BT to watch football. Perhaps people prefer three minutes of tedium and a first class commentary team for free, rather than lifeless presenters, morose pundits, fawning and sycophantic commentators, adverts, and over-analysis for extortionate prices.
Rich (whisper it, but is football becoming boring? A ninth consecutive title for Juventus and Bayern you say?), Cambridge
I’ve already sent you my disparaging views on the drinks break regarding disrupting the game etc.
Watching the Spurs v Everton match tonight, a scrappy goal followed immediately by a break stopped either team reacting to it.
Both teams and supporters have a view that they may be giants but I do think that the drinks break spoiled the first half.
Biased against everyone
Regarding Logan, Portsmouth fellatio to Liverpool by Matt Stead.
Yes, Matt is clearly overdoing the 44 point gap that the Champions have over the poor, underprivileged team (…..sorry, the team who have spent substantially more than Liverpool…..) and despite having very good form at the moment are still 9 points down on the same stage as last season.
Honestly, get over it, there is no bias, just obvious facts that you can’t appreciate, whilst you cry into your Fergie duvet.