Keep your mails coming to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Red tinted conclusions from the Manchester derby
Here we go:
1. The derby clearly showed the gulf in class between these sides, both on the field and off it. Maguire looked like a player worth half his transfer fee, and at fault for the goal that unravelled United’s tactical plan for the game. On the other end, Ruben Dias looks like a steal and is surely the long term successor to Kompany, both as a leader and a defender. He sits right next to Van Dijk in that ‘elite CB’ category.
2. Is it just me, or did City play a bit like peak Barcelona yesterday? Their CB’s spent way too long passing the ball among themselves,near their box and no amount of Utd pressing got close. Their move to stretch the Utd forwards and create space in the middle for KDB and Gundogan over and over again was art, pure and simple. Utd tried their best, but City were on a whole new level. As a fan of the side in red, watching the team in blue was equal parts thrilling & terrifying.
3. F365 were spot on when they said Utd needed a new CDM in the Jan window. Matic just doesn’t have the pace anymore, and McFred are very similar in their interception style to stem the tide against teams that attack like City. The fact that Utd started bypassing their midfield in favour of long balls from the 1st half itself was because both of them had to stay back to help the defence. A top quality CDM like Fernandinho or a younger Matic would’ve been priceless.
4. Rashford for all his running, has been awful in the box the past few matches. Goal aside, his decision making in the final third has been poor. He got lucky with that deflected goal against Wolves, but his overall play has been a bit off. Maybe it’s because he has shifted to the right, or he needs a break, or he gets that extra attention from defenders, it looks like he is being run into the ground. Atm, the only (competent) right/left sided attackers at Utd are Martial,Rashford and Greenwood. Being made to rotate across that front-line every alternate match along with the tactical changes that come from playing with a striker like Cavani, must not be helping Martial and Rashford’s rhythm at all.
5. Which brings me to my next point, Ed Woodward and the inaction. It seems the one thing the Utd board is good at, is NOT striking when the iron is hot. OGS got the job due to results against the top 6. This year, results prove that the top 6 have figured out their tactics to nullify Utd, and sooner, rather than later, the Utd style needs to evolve. Getting a top quality right winger and a decent CDM is more crucial than ever. Diallo, just 18, still doesn’t have the paperwork to complete his move, and there are no signs he will be good enough to even feature for the team soon, let alone play enough minutes to sufficiently contribute. What are they waiting for?
6. Ohh and onto Pogba. How much of his new position on the left is due to Raiola’s comments on his contract situation? Pogba didn’t have the raw pace or a target man upfront to make a genuine contribution to the match. But he did put in a shift, play in some nice passes, and show off his ability. I am starting to really like how OGS is getting Pogba to play to his potential (if only to maximize his resale value to ship him off in the summer)
7. Utd losing wasn’t a bad result btw. We’ve definitely had a bit of luck go our way in the close wins at Villa and Wolves. Hopefully, this loss will not let complacency creep in and keep the players hungry for next couple of weeks. Until the next loss and a subsequent knee jerk reaction and calls for a new manager obviously.
8. I think everyone saw what a top class coach with world class talent can do. But for Utd, the very best thing to do is keep patience with OGS, and allow him to rectify the failures of previous managers/Woodward. So far, Utd are doling out a fortune for players that are surplus to requirements weekly; Romero~70k, Lingard~100k, Jones~75k, Rojo~80k and a wantaway Pogba~290k. That’s about (uses elementary Maths) GBP 30 Mil/year!!! Or about a sixth of their annual wage bill. Just getting these players off, and selling Pogba should generate a potential transfer windfall for the next transfer window. Do I trust Ole to spend that money right? On present record, just about.
Sarthak (Why did Pep have to torment us United fans not once but TWICE? First with Barca, now City)
Trent, Fabinho, and Liverpool’s centre-back problems
I’ve seen a few opinions flying about regarding Trent Alexander-Arnold’s form, the need for defensive reinforcements or otherwise, and what have you.
I think it’s all related. Trent’s defending has never been his strong point. He’s usually offered so much going forward that it hasn’t mattered. The last couple of weeks seem to have been very different however.
I can see two main reasons for this. Firstly, with both van Dijk and Joe Gomez missing the defensive unit is a lot slower. Gomez’s recovery speed is excellent, so he could cover for Trent more effectively. Joel Matip has a bit more positional sense so he helps a bit in that regard. But on that one basic point Trent has less help than he did last year. Secondly, part of the strategy used to be that when we have the ball, Fabinho would drop in from the base of midfield to make a third defender and allow the fullbacks to bomb on. With him already playing at centre back, that obviously doesn’t happen any more. Henderson could do it to a point, but that’s not his natural game, nor is it Thiago’s, Wijnaldum’s or even Milner’s.
As a short term strategy to turn our form around, we need to get Fabinho back into midfield as soon as possible. For that we need a stopgap signing at centre back, as even if you throw Phillips and Williams at it, we’d still be vulnerable if either of them got injured too. I find it hard to believe that there’s nobody in Michael Edward’s little black book that could do the job, it’s just about if the money is right. If we want to retain the title, then FSG might have to eat an unexpected outlay.
Pierre, LFC, Bristol
What other moments would Twitter have made worse?
I’m sure we can all agree social media started off as a fun, frivolous and rather simple means of connecting with friends.
Now, well, it’s a simmering cesspool of hate and a constant reminder of and exposure to the worst human beings you can imagine.
With that said, how do you think Twitter would’ve reacted to football’s most talked about moments from before it existed? No doubt it would’ve made them spiteful, joyless occasions.
For instance, having lit up Euro 2004 Manchester United make Wayne Rooney the most expensive teenager in history.
How would Twitter have perceived of his debut Champions League hat trick?
Arsenal fans would’ve backed in Jose Antonio Reyes (rest in peace) to be the better player; so to would Liverpool fans re: Milan Baros; all and sundry would’ve derided the opposition as farmers, so it doesn’t really count, and suggested that the goalkeeping for all three goals was suspect; I’m sure someone would’ve said that though United scored six, Fenerbahce’s xG was actually 11…
Let’s have some fun!
Harry Maguire isn’t tired…
I haven’t written into the mailbox for a while, but Aman’s mail coaxed me out of my shell. And I would say that he had a point, that is until you actually look down that list of most minutes played, and in second spot you have Maguires opposite number in the Semi Final – Ruben Dias.
Bear in mind that Dias is still just 23, and playing in a new league, his imperious form and solid partnership developed with Stones is even more impressive.
I’m sorry, but it’s not because Maguire is tired. He’s just not very good.
Martin Todoroski, MCFC
Klopp, rants, Benitez and penalties
In reply to Ferg Cork (Corcaigh Abú).
The Benitez facts rant was in 2009 i think, 11 years ago. My memory may be failing me as i age, but i distinctly remember the narrative at the time was that Benitez “fell” for a Fergie mind game by reacting with his prepared facts. But i could be wrong.
It’s really just banter, don’t take it too personally and become an affected victim. I know Klopp didn’t rant.
In regards to the FACT that United have gotten more penos under Ole than Pool have under Klopp, one could point out in return (thanks to Ved Sen) that Pool have won more penalties in the whole of the premier league era than United.
Do you see us whinging?
In regards to VAR proving we probably should have had more penos before VAR, i am alluding to the fact that this conspiracy theory about refs favouring United is not new, its nearly 30 years old. So it’s possible refs were reluctant to award us penos pre VAR in fear of being seen as complicit in the grand penalty conspiracy.
Kiki, Cork (Manchester United)
Poor Ferg is getting wound up about penalties, rants and facts when he should relax a little and just consider this opinion:
1) Klopp was whinging that Utd have had more penalties since 2018 than Liverpool have had, trying to hint that the big, best team who attacks most, should get more penalties.
2) Klopp never looked at the wider picture and seen that Liverpool have actually had MORE penalties than Utd over the Prem era, despite Utd clearly being a very attacking team winning multiple league titles, and prone to being fouled alot.
3) Klopp clearly targeted Utd in his little whingefest, because they play Utd next. This is pretty much proven because City and Leicester have more penalties than anybody since Klopp joined Liverpool. Klopp has Utd in his head because they play them in less than a fortnight.
It was a calculated rant, and Ole called it correct.
Gary B (Liverpools style of play with tonnes of crosses leads to less pens, simple as that)
How many times have we to say this…do a little research!!!
“United have gotten more penalties since Ole took over in 2018 than Klopp has since October 2015.
That’s all he said.
It is 100% correct.”
And then he links to a misleading article from Football365 (Shame on ye guys – Klopp’s quote was 2 years(ie under Ole), yet ye agreed with him by including 2 and a half season of which almost half was under Jose)
Ole is about to manage his 76th game in charge of Man U(both temporary and permanent), so against burnley it will be exactly 2 years worth of games(obviously not 2 years worth of time – thanks Covid)
In that time, 75 matches, Manchester United have been awarded 6 penalties this season, 14 penalties last season and 7 penalties the season before. Total = 27 penalties.*
Under Klopp, Liverpool have been awarded 30.
so 100% incorrect.
*5 penalties were awarded in the 17 games Jose was in charge.
Oh and since we are comparing Klopp and Ole, after 38 PL games(1 seasons worth) both had gained 65 points. After 76 PL games(2 seasons worth) Klopp had achieved 137 points. Ole has already exceeded that total(139) and still has 1 game left. Not saying Ole is a better(or even as good a manager) than Klopp. Just stating some correct facts.
Klopp’s next signing(after 76 PL games) was VVD…so maybe the next United signing could be crucial. The difference between taking them to the next level or not.
Shaw against Villa…
So Ved Sen’s latest ‘the lady doth protest too much’ missive harps on about some decisions that didn’t go Man U’s way including one assertion that Shaw should’ve had a penalty against Villa. Assume this is the incident being referred to?
Pogba telling Shaw he needs to dive when touched in the penalty area. pic.twitter.com/X7VELXNJ75
— John Merro (@johnmerro1) January 1, 2021
Where Pogba bemoaned the fact that he didn’t dive. As that’s what they’re clearly instructed to do, enter the penalty area at speed and upon any sort of contact (regardless who initiates it) hit the deck, Pogba showed him how it was done later in that match and earned them 3 points.
Martial tried the ‘boot the ball forward then try to initiate contact before throwing yourself to the ground’ methodology last night but failed, although who knows what would’ve happened had VAR been around.
You may say that penalties are a non-issue due to some selective examples but in a tight season where one team is buying cheap penalties to win matches and a rival struggling for form is being denied in close matches it can make a big difference.
James Outram, Wirral
Teach them young…
I’m in lockdown like the rest of the nation, but it has afforded me some time to make preparations for coaching our squad of under 11’s once things get back to normal. I’m pondering whether I need to teach the kids the art of “buying” free kicks. It struck me after Martial’s dive last night that it would be a disservice for me not to do this, because simulation is now an accepted part of the game. I, naturally, will need to teach them that they should perhaps do this sparingly until they get better at it and should primarily consider doing this when they are in the penalty area. I’ve drawn up 4 specific exercises that include falling without getting hurt (I have an old Norman Wisdom DVD that should help with this), dangling a leg and for the less gymnastic lads, an appropriate “faux” aggressive response to an opponent’s dive. Does anyone else have any other ideas about what I should include in my “gamesmanship” coaching schedule?
Dale (watching too much Man Utd) Marlow
A team of right-backs…
Following the article about KWP, it really is a shame that players like him, James Justin and Tariq Lamptey may never get proper England plaudits due to the depth, age and calibre of right back options.
The national team is so lacking in depth and quality in some areas it does seem unfair that we have so many top class right backs. For no reason at all here is a proposed XI of English right backs:
GK: Kyle Walker – To my knowledge the only right back with experience as a GK
RB: Tariq Lamptey – Takes the honour of being the right back in a team of right backs purely because I am unaware of him playing anywhere else.
CB: Arron Wan-Bissaka – Has the tackling ability and is also 6ft.
CB: James Justin – Part of Leicester’s makeshift back three earlier this season
LB: Kyle Walker-Peters – Has played this role for the England u20s in the world cup winning campaign.
CM: Trent Alexander-Arnold – Because people still think it is his natural position.
CM: Reece James – Played here during his loan season at Wigan.
RW: Matty Cash – Played in midfield before switching to fullback at Forest.
AM: Kieran Trippier – The cultured foreign based player is automatically the slotted in as chief playmaker. Plus no.10s traditionally have scrapes with authority.
LW: Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Can play pretty much anywhere and has often looked better on the left than on the right.
ST: James Tavernier – Has to have the best finishing ability of the bunch.