Date published: Saturday 2nd October 2021 9:02 – Editor F365


Nuno Espirito Santo celebrates with Dele Alli

Nuno Espirito Santo is doing just fine as Spurs manager but it is surely time to give up on Dele Alli; he simply is no longer good enough.

Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com.

Solskjaer’s successor and how we choose our team

Who should United replace Solskjaer with?

Anyone, really. United won’t win anything with Solskjaer, so just gently leading him away behind the woodshed and braining him with a shovel is a medium term win whoever comes in.

But the answer is clear.

Ernesto Valverde.

Loves a 4-1-4-1, kept a decrepit Barcelona alive and winning titles, 57 years old and unemployed.

Easy, done.

But I want to talk about Brentford and Fulham and how we choose our team to support.

Having grown up in the home of the quinoa Waitrose&Spencers hummus Chiswick it’s so good to see two deeply nice clubs becoming a constant in top level football in England. They are both hugely welcoming stadiums to visit as a fan, now.

But when I was a child, a group of my friends and I went to Brentford for their last home game of the season. It was a meaningless game with no consequence, Brentford were mid table in league 1 and they were playing someone bland and pointless like Gillingham or Man City.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the Brentford manager had thought “f**k it” and played 4 strikers and the game was end to end pinball funtimes.

My friends and I were painfully middle class shy and polite 11 year olds, but got completely caught up in the game and the atmosphere and started singing and banging the advertising boards in time and the crowd around us joined in and as an 11 year old that’s a transformative experience. Feeling like you’re having an effect on literally tens of people? While making a noise? Get in.

And then two stewards came up to us, and told us that “ We don’t behave this way at Brentford”, that we were upsetting other fans and that we were asked to leave.

So f**k Brentford (sorry Natalie), Brentford can shove it.

The next season we all went to Fulham, watched an early league cup game on a cold crisp evening, a tie that went to penalties taken right in front of us, Fulham won, we crowd made all sorts of noises we’d never even dreamed were acceptable in public and we were all smitten.

That’s my origin story!

What’s yours

Tim Sutton (United will win nothing with Solskjaer)

Trust the process

Lot of extreme reaction in the mailbox in the last couple of days. Is Ole an elite coach? Possibly not. Is Ole a good one? Definitely and he’s certainly done a lot better than what could have been expected from the likes of Ancellotti, Benitez and many others in the league.

Ole has come in and helped fix the structure at the club when everything was in shambles. He has built a team that, if DM issue is fixed, can, with minimal investment, be title contenders every year, for the next decade. He has helped players like Shaw improve, even when coaches like Mourinhi and LVG failed to do so. He took a team last year that desperately needed a DM, a centre back and a winger, and led them to second place in the league. Under him, United is playing more exciting football than we have seen in almost a decade and has on multiple occasions, upstaged elite managers like Guardiola, Klopp and others.

Yes, there have been failures. Bad run of forms. Matches they should not have lost. Particularly the Europa final. But then again, the great Alex Ferguson”s teams flopped in the CL quite a few times.

All of this is not to say Ole is an elite manager. Ole has done just about enough to keep his job until now. Until this season, he has achieved all that could have been realistically expected of him (Europa Final being an exception). The new season has just started and he has only now got a team of players that can actually be considered title challengers. Ole is how we got to this point and he deserves the opportunity to see if this is his limit or is he made of sterner stuff.

Other than Klopp or Guardiola, there’s no guarantee anyway that whoever United hires instead will be a success. So let’s trust the process and not demand rash decisions which we may later regret.

Adeel (I did pick Ole over F365 darling Arteta any day.)

Expectations

I agree with Jerry’s binary football fans and I would add that the default state for many fans is anger.  They’re angry before any football is played and they’re angry with the slightest deviation from how they think the game should go.  There can be no extenuating circumstances, no reasonable excuse for why a bad thing just happened. “Bad thing that happened” now apparently includes playing badly and still winning the game.  Getting told that a last minute goal from the striker that you bought and played in the game is somehow rescuing you.  Ferguson got praised for it, it was one of his notable qualities, but it’s now longer good enough.

As a manager you can win the Champions League in May and by September you can have people openly declaring you should be sacked because you lost a league game against the current champions and an away game against Juventus.  What are your expectations of a football team?  Do you expect them to win every game?  No, surely you don’t, so why do you get so angry and extreme when your team loses a game that you could probably expect them to lose?  Ask any sane Arsenal fan if they expected to beat City or Chelsea and you should have gotten a confident no.  They were missing a raft of first choice players and they’re not got enough to really challenge those teams yet anyway.  So why the uproar when those expectations are met?

Teams win and teams lose.  Teams go through periods of good and bad form.  If you’re a good team you do more of the former than the latter and that should be good enough, holding an expectation of consistent perfection is unrealistic.  As a great philosopher once said “If you want the rainbow you’ve got to put up with the rain”.

SC, Belfast

Portugeezers

Heenal Rajani asks if any PL club has had as many Portuguese (5) speakers as United did. At the risk of turning up the obvious, Wolves, in their last game on Sunday. Sa, Semedo, Marcal, Mourinho, Podence.

They further had Neves come off the bench, but only after Podence had left, but then also had Trincao and Fabio Silva unused subs. Pedro Neto is currently injured.

Against Spurs last December, they actually had 7 in the starting line up, using three not named above.

The wonders of connections and mild corruption.

KC (seriously, they modelled a kit on the Portuguese home kit)

Heenal Rajani, Utd fan, Canada, the answer to your Portuguese-speakingest team enquiry is Wolves… obviously.

Andy (MUFC)

In regard to Heenal Rajani’s question on the number of foreign language speakers on the pitch at the same time.

The match the other night isn’t even the first time Man United have had that many Portuguese speakers on the pitch at the same time. Back in 2008/09 United had 7 Portuguese speakers on their books: Ronaldo, Anderson, Nani, Fábio, Rafael, Manucho, and Possebon. In the League Cup 3rd round match against Middlesbrough that season Rafael, Nani, Possebon, Anderson, and Ronaldo all started. Manucho also came off the bench, but both Ronaldo and Possebon had both been subbed off by that stage.

As for the most, the Arsenal squad of 2002/03 had 9 native French speakers: Vieira; Pires; Wiltord; Lauren; Henry; Cygan; Clichy; Touré; and Aliadière. Seven of the nine were on the pitch for 3 minutes during the 1-1 draw with Man United that season (Cygan replaced Ljungberg on 82 minutes, Pires went off for Bergkamp on 85 minutes).

I don’t know if that’s the most, but I think it’s likely to be pretty close.

Jerry

Nuno is just about on track

As a Spurs fan I must admit I’m growing rather tired of the relentless negatively. The ridiculous, unwarranted and ill-conceived critique from people who frankly are talking a load of guff is getting a bit silly now. We are, and have been for some time now, a top 6-7 club. We simply over performed with Poch. With hindsight letting him go was an error (in my opinion) and it will take time to recover in what is an extremely competitive league.

Off the back of last season, a poor year admittedly and then the Kane saga, aspirations will certainly have been to aim for top 6 this year and hopefully a cup run.

Did our new manager inherit a project with a lot of work to do? Yes.

Will it take some time? Yes.

Have the majority of our opponents strengthened in the meantime? Yes.

As it stands Spurs are mid table after some mixed results and performances – despite what you may read there has been some decent play at times this year – it hasn’t all been woeful. We are essentially one win away from where we realistically should be at this stage and we are still in the cups. Our star striker seems (slowly) to be recovering some form and our new players are also bedding in (and no longer stranded in South America).

If performances have not improved as we approach Christmas then fair enough, give it to Spurs with both barrels and any pressure on our manager would be warranted.

But until then, some perspective wouldn’t go amiss.

That is all.

Dave, Berkshire Spur.

Spurs legend Hoddle thinks Santo is under pressure

Down a blind Alli

I’m bored. So thought I’d write into the esteemed United mailbox. For the sake of variety, it’s about Spurs or, more specifically, Dele Alli. Soz bout that. It’s also long, just to try and balance it with more non-United content.

In a world where most people (fans, journos and the general media) live and make judgements game by game, I really struggle to come to terms with how there is an odd penchant, going against the grain, to really hold onto some players’ glory days as though that is what we should be seeing now.

We can pick apart Levy, Spurs, Nuno, the starting 11, shape and starting positions until the cows come home but there are key aspects that every professional football player – and any human, actually – can provide when kicking a ball about. Or doing any task in life. That’s effort, commitment and respect to the cause.

Ok, you may not maximise a players ability by playing him in a midfield 3 instead of the number 10 role. Regardless of where you play, to then choose to offer next to nothing (outside of despatching 1 pen in the league) is scandalous. Maybe he reads all the articles that mention this positional issue and believes he’s still the Dele Alli of 4/5 years ago? You know, f*ck it, I don’t like being here on the left of this midfield 3 so I’ll offer ZERO in these areas: shots, key passes, dribbles, accurate crosses, accurate long balls. In addition I’ll offer 8x possession lost and 1 whole tackle*

*actual stats versus Arsenal. Your most hated rivals.

He was awesome, really awesome for Spurs. It was a long time ago though, let’s be honest. Being 25 – or any particular age – is not the foundation for an argument that he should be the same or any better. Many players peak early and many peak later. He’s now been poor for a very long time and most of the opportunities he’s had at Spurs have been in his preferred position. Against Mura – yes, that well known Slovenian powerhouse – he got to play in an advanced role and was dross. Against dross. So if you can’t do it against your enemy from down the road and you can’t do it against what is some of the lowest quality opposition you’re likely to face as a professional, PL level footballer, who can you do it against?

I’m not suggesting he’s completely done. He can possibly do a job, for someone, somewhere else. If you can’t stand out as a key player with a lot to offer (you were captaining your team btw) in what Spurs currently are, then what are you there for? I get it. You don’t pick yourself but you do pick your profession and the amount of commitment you offer. Be rubbish, but be rubbish with some heart. At least.

He can’t be the big fish in a small pond. And he can’t pick up his game, like Le Celso did, when joined by genuine quality. Some media outlets gave him a 7! For scoring a pen? Madness.

The suggestion is Alli will be back to his best in a number 10 role, with more freedom and, what I presume, comes with less defensive responsibility. This is misguided. He’s had opportunities at Spurs many many times over the last few years and not shown any reason why we should believe anything of the sort. Plus, you still have to graft in that role. Unless you are Ronaldo or Messi, you’re not getting a free pass.

He cost us about 20p. We got tremendous value. Whatever we sell him for would make good business. What isn’t good business is giving him 6 league starts out of 6 to the detriment of the team. He needs to be sold in this painful Spurs rebuild.

Why we are spending money on a Beatles tribute act, for a position currently filled by one of the best left wingers in the world is beyond me. Sorry Brian. We’ve got huge gaping holes to address. Alli is a hole. We could have spent the money on Lingard for example and shifted Alli out at the same time. 2 birds, 1 stone and all that.

There’s so much wrong with Spurs and the issues have been there for years and, in some cases, decades. Sonny and Kane have still managed to offer quality during tough times though, so there isn’t an excuse for Dele. He’s like Eric Dier without getting the same grief. For whatever reason. Also, Eric’s fall from grace has nowhere the same stark contrast. Alli went from world level baller to Eric Djemba-Djemba. Dier went from not so dire to dire.

I just don’t get it. My younger Spurs pals (I’m 39) have been backing him for a long time and it’s only this season they’ve come to terms with his shitness. Can everyone else now join the party? Wrapping his plight up in the wider issues of THFC is lazy and weak. He clearly doesn’t have the mentality to make it back to what he was and I appreciate this email is lengthy so instead of individually listing every PL midfielder/attacking midfielder I’d take over Alli, just believe me it’s anyone. Honestly.

Glen, Stratford Spur

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