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Gini the Genius
Surely Liverpool are not only targeting Thiago to replace Gini. Imagine them two working together against more defensively minded teams. To me Liverpool should do all they can to keep the Dutchman – what he does for the team is stunning in terms of being mobile, impossible to get off the ball and keeping the team transitioning from all angles. If he goes it’ll be another Alonso moment!
I could not disagree with Matt Stead more about Wijnaldum. He’s been a great player for Liverpool, but if he won’t sign a new contract, which is his prerogative, he needs to be sold. Looking at what Bayern want for Thiago, Liverpool could probably expect to receive £30-35M from Barcelona. Allowing Wijnaldum to serve out the last year of his contract and leave on a free only makes sense if you believe he will provide more than £30-35M of value on the field this year. That seems unlikely as he could get injured and Liverpool have many other able centre midfielders. Consequently, selling him to fund other transfers or stadium upgrades makes far more sense.
Obviously, there is no guarantee that a replacement player would be better. However, we should not necessarily assume that they would be worse. Barcelona are the perfect parable of what happens if you don’t ruthlessly manage your squad. I’d be a little sad to see him leave because of his great contributions over the last few years, but I’d wish him well and be excited to see him turn out in the blue and garnet at the Camp Nou.
I don’t see how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can inspire people
It may have been specious reasoning on my part but when the Arsenal manager excused and backed his captain who’d sat down on the pitch after losing to Birmingham and sulked for ten or fifteen minutes, I thought the team would blow their lead at the top of the league and that’s what happened. The attitude of the leadership is surely going to affect group performance in any walk of life.
I don’t see how Ole Solskjaer can inspire people. I don’t see him every day in fairness but neither do I see Klopp or Guardiola every day and it seems clear why they and the likes of Poch and peak Mourinho have players look up to them. His apparent lack of charisma is not the only issue though, Harry Maguire is also captain. I, and many others, have commented on this page about his borderline amateur levels of concentration on the pitch but I have to wonder about if he has the character for the captaincy.
I’ve seen quite a lot of people on Twitter show screenshots of reasonable criticism of his performances from them without tagging him alongside screenshots of them being blocked by his account. I suppose those can be faked but it’d be a weird campaign for people to co-ordinate and there a good few of these. I’m not a qualified psychologist. I can’t say why he did it, at least in a public letters page. I can say though that Harry Maguire felt the need to search what complete strangers were saying about him on Twitter and then pressed the necessary button combination to block several of these strangers from seeing his Twitter account after they mildly critiqued his game. Now we have an alleged incident of him getting into a row with strangers from England while he was away on holiday. What are the odds that altercation *didn’t* start over a comment about United or the England team that Harry didn’t like?
The United manager is the like the American version of David Brent and the captain gets so upset by complete strangers criticising him to their mates, even if he wasn’t supposed to have heard it, that he takes proactive action to cut them out of his life. As United fans, we had a lovely new manager bounce last year, we had a lovely new player bounce this year, a Bruno bounce if you will, but without Sancho (generational talent. EVERY club needs him), a good centre back and a passable midfielder then this season is going to be more drab 1 and 2 goal slogs and another crawl over the line for Champions League qualification if it happens at all.
Man Utd and the nagging exhaustion issue
I just read a good article on The Guardian on Lukaku and his great Inter season and what came as a surprise to me was the number of games they’ve had to play after the restart; 18 games since the lockdown – more than any club across Europe’s top five leagues. Considering that it most of the main players who started these games maybe all these talk of Ole running his players to the ground is a bit too much. Since Inter have pretty much maintained the quality of their play in the matches they’ve played.
Another example is Liverpool with Klopp who has started Van Dyjk in almost every single game since he signed for them and the front and back-line being more or less treated the same,while still accumulating 197 points in the last two seasons while every media outlet still saying they lacked the depth to compete for the title. This comes as no surprise considering that Liverpool poached fitness coaches from Bayern Munich and the aforementioned article which highlighted the fitness conditioning that Conte drills into his players.
This is to say that maybe instead of everyone keeping on stressing on a raft of new signings maybe they could solve this problem in-house since most people agree on Manchester United having the third best starting squad in the EPL.
Defending the defenders
Well that was very long mail from Brian Chung and I guess F365 love to print long anti-united emails <insert editorial rebuttal here 🙂 >. While I agree with some of the points, there is one argument that really got my goat. There is a myth in football based on a quote by Maldini that tackles are for dolts. The only people who really believe this are those whose footballing experience is limited to their living room. Anybody who seriously believes that when you’re up against Zaha, Sterling, Robertson, Pulisic, et al, on your flank, that you can rely purely on positioning and interceptions and ‘reading of the game’ should really stick to playstation football. Let me remind you, as a fullback, AWB’s primary job is to ensure that the left sided opposition forward does not send in dangerous crosses, or cut inside and score. This is what he earns the bulk of his salary for. Everything else is an add on and a nice to have. And AWB is the best in the league at this job. He’s also 22 and has a few years to get better at the other stuff – getting forward and crossing, and working as a defensive unit, giving a shout out to Lindelof when he’s marking thin air with the opposition striker behind him. Please, lets get some perspective. You can count the number of times we’ve conceded goals from AWB’s side of the pitch on the fingers of one hand.
If I was Ole I’d be taking a closer look at the defensive coaching. The kind of goals United are conceding are not due to individual ability but more about defensive organisation and discipline. The kind of brain fade that Rio was once well known for. It won’t matter if we buy another expensive centre half, if the defensive organisation isn’t up to the mark. Maguire should be held accountable for some of that – as he’s the senior-most player and wears the armband. He should be the one giving Lindelof the bollocking, before Fernandes. Keeping in mind that United have conceded about a dozen goals from set pieces this year, it really does shine a poor light on the defensive coaching.
And why would we get slaughtered against good attacks when we held off Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and even PSG last season at various games? Brian wants us to not take the Sevilla game as a one off, but he wants to take the couple of errors in that one game, and extend it to all scenarios in all games.
I do agree with the mystery of why Ole has stopped rotating his squad especially after the excellent performances of McTominay, Romero, and Ighalo, when given a chance. Rotation was one of Fergie’s great strengths, and if Ole wants to model himself on his mentor, he needs to show that he’s picked up another trait of Ferguson’s – of being a fast learner.
Ved Sen, MUFC
The rise of the ‘douchebag’ beard
While I appreciate the importance of debating who has the best manager and who had the best season (as Arsene Wenger said: “Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home”), I think we need to focus on a very real issue currently affecting football. That is, the horrendous chin-patch beards lots of players are sporting at the moment – Virgil van Dijk, Mason Mount, and plenty more. I thought I could put up with it until I saw a photo of Rangers’s Ryan Kent earlier on the BBC website, he’s grown his long and looks like a child dressed as a wizard.
The only ‘cultural’ ‘movement’ I’ve come across before to adopt these dreadful beards is 2000s-onwards grunge bands, such as the guy from Nickelback. At least he had the decency to sometimes grow a full goatee, and he presumably only adopted facial hair at all to stop him looking so much like cartoon dog What-a-Mess. Nu-metal had a few too, although Fred Durst’s actually reached up to his lower lip which made it less douche-y, despite being attached to a complete douche. Either way, nobody should be styling themselves on Nickelback or Limp Bizkit.
For Premier League footballers, there’s no excuse. How did it start? Why has it continued? Are footballers so detached from the rest of society that they haven’t realised their beards look terrible? Why haven’t their PR teams got involved? Their heads look like boiled eggs sitting in hairy eggcups.
Dan, (very much ‘grass through snow’ in the beard stakes – still waiting for puberty to reach my cheeks) Hassocks
Academy graduates aren’t ‘free’
As it’s a Friday, and that is traditionally a slow mailbox day, I thought I might be able to slip in a little pet peeve of mine please.
Basically it’s the notion that academy graduates are free. This has become increasingly annoying on social media lately, an example:
Wan-Bissaka + Shaw = £80m vs Alexander-Arnold + Robertson = £8m.
Now don’t get me wrong, any stick to beat United with I’m usually on board. But this simply isn’t true. Topline costs of running an academy come in at around £10m a year for top clubs, at least.
On top of that is development of the facilities – City spent £200m! Liverpool spent £50m in Kirby.
Realistically, let’s look at the last 10 years for Liverpool. Let’s take the cost at £150m – we’ve got Alexander-Arnold, top class talent. But that’s basically it. I know people love to argue look at so and so and so and so. But be realistic, of that first 11 for Liverpool, 10 were bought. Neco Williams and Curtis Jones look great, but are they actually going to make it to regulars? I absolutely hope so, but the jury remains out.
Now you could argue that the academy will pay for itself – through sales of players. But even then it’s not really fair to say that any player is ‘free’, it’s more a case of natural wastage.
Don’t get me wrong, I personally think the academy does great work in the community. It’s brilliant for young footballers and great for Liverpool. I am not for one second against the system, I’m merely against ignoring the costs.
Trent Alexander-Arnold cost at least £50m to develop. Now he’s priceless, and a local lad, and I love it. But please don’t pretend he was free.
That is all, thanks for listening.
Style or silver
The Ole/United debate is always going to be there. Forget that Fergie didn’t win the League every year, and lost in Europe a lot more often than he won, Ole seems to be on a hiding to nothing. If you judge on silverware.I have been following United since 1965, when being from Belfast, it was our pleasure to have George Best as our childhood hero.
Ups and downs, wins and losses, 25 years without the League, etc. But the only time i stopped watching was when Van Gaal and Mourinho were in charge. Sure Mourinho won a trophy, as did Van Gaal, but my God was it awful to watch.
And ultimately that is what football is all about. The Spurs fans will find that out if they win something, but they have played dreadful defensive, backpassing football. Holding up a cup at the end of one match does not make it worthwhile. I have enjoyed watching this United team. There. That’s it. Enjoyed. Liked the bits of flair, the attempts to be creative, the players looking forward rather than back to De Gea.
So he has my vote. If they keep playing good football, that’s enough for me.
Read Minty’s note on Neymar and Messi being trapped for a few extra quid, and found it chilling. We could point to Mesut Ozil and almost say the same. We could also namecheck Alexis and Tevez for losing form after the same, and a host of many others. Yet, one wonders why it,seems a bit different for Ronaldo, the Cristiano. (He’s a bit special, isn’t he?) But we could argue Messi’s case for loyalty.
Besides, at Barca, he’s royalty.
PS: Brian Chung got an earful.
Iyanu, Lagos Nigeria
Burnley and Villa punished
With the Utd. and City games postponed bc of their European games, why can’t Villa and Burnley play each other instead?
Why should they face future fixture congestion?
Brian Clancy, Spurs, Vancouver