The Mailbox reacts to a thriller at Anfield (and a Milner let-off) with some wonderful whataboutery. Also: Brentford, strikers and, obviously, Ole…Get your mails in to theeditor@football365.com

Karma for Kompany


So it’s gonna be a talking point that Milner should probably have got a second yellow…he should.

But before y’all get outraged I want you to cast your mind back to a couple of years ago same fixture but city at home. Liverpool are breaking away on the halfway line and Kompany slides in two footed as the last man and takes out Salah, his feet are high with studs showing. Rather than a straight red for a professional foul by kompany it’s just a yellow. Last man. Studs showing. Shin high tackle which does not take the ball. Salah also spent 3 weeks injured as a result of the tackle, telling you that it wasn’t a weak tackle.

That too was some terrible refereeing which saved city in that match as they would have played the remaining 60 minutes with 10 men.

Was the milner decision a bad one, yeah I’d say so. But just remember you’ve been the beneficiary of some very lenient refereeing before by a referee who was from Manchester….

Lee

Super Salah

Mo Salah is a world class player. He needs to be more selfish with the ball in front of goal and just go for goal more often. The strength, speed of thought and control for the second goal today was beyond anything any other player in the league can achieve. Too often he abandons a run and looks to find a pass in a congested box. We have seen that type of goal from him before against Napoli, Spurs and Everton but my word that was breathtaking. Maybe 12-15 months ago there was talk of Salah being too selfish and that Mane spat accentuated the idea. Pundits really got on his back over it but maybe we should expect a player of his brilliance to be selfish for moments of beauty like that.

Jamie, Eire


Liverpool 2-2 Man City – 16 Conclusions 


Anfield reaction


A weird old game because we were the second best team throughout but can somehow feel a bit disappointed to not take all three points.

In the first ten minutes Man City were settled into a very deep low block and I thought we were going to kill them but after that they came out of their shell. I wondered if Pep did that to suss out how we were going to attack or if he just wanted to weather an early storm and not lose it in the first ten minutes.

The remainder of the first half was watched through clenched fingers. We were appalling and disjointed; nobody could complete simple passes, nobody could hold onto the ball and then Silva danced through our entire team and nearly set up Foden to score. Why on Earth were City trying to sell Silva in the summer? Their most influential player today.

In the second half the pressing got a bit higher up the pitch and it allowed us to threaten. Salah’s ball to Mané was outstanding and made the finish pretty simple. Despite taking the lead we still looked sketchy. I would have been tempted to switch to a 4-2-3-1 with Salah up front so that someone could’ve been more defensive to support Milner because he was on toast all afternoon and Man City kept finding joy down his side. As a side note it’s a minor miracle he didn’t get sent off.

Salah’s goal is why he’s basically in a class with Suarez, De Bruyne and a few others as the, “not Messi but f**king epic at football” gang. Goals that good really deserve to be winners.

Today the midfield looked poor for the most part. Keita probably should’ve taken part after Jones’ performance in the first half. Henderson was very poor on the ball today and didn’t offer too much. Fabinho really ought to have won it for us at the death.

Alisson probably should’ve been man of the match. He made two or three crucial saves at 0-0 which kept us in the match. The quality of Salah’s goal and assist means he got the plaudits but City would’ve already run away with the game were it not for his positioning, decision making and shot stopping.

Minty, LFC

…As a Liverpool fan, I’m disappointed that we let two leads go. As a football fan, I loved every second of it and couldn’t give to figs about the final score. It obviously being the second half (the first half was utterly dreadful).

A couple of random thoughts I had during the game:

1. Milner should have been sent off. Seems bizarre that VAR can’t interfere in those situations.

2. FSG need to give Mo whatever money he wants. Simply the best player in the premiership at the moment.

3. This season is going to go to the wire. Chelsea, Liverpool, and City all seem very evenly matched. Man Utd could also get involved too if they replace their Geography supply teacher with an actual football manager.

4. Rodri’s game saving block on Fabinho was ridiculous. The rollercoaster of emotions I went on during that passage of play could only be replicated by drugs.

Oliver, London

…I’ve just taken a breath after that.


There is nothing better than seeing two high quality teams really go at each other…. I love City/Liverpool games.


What a game by both sides.


Salah…. jesus wept, what a goal(and assist), unbelievable, destroyed them.


The balls on City too, not something they often get credit for but they’ve got fight in them, that clearance by Rodri….heartbreakingly good.

Not a single “bad” performance from any player.

City clearly had the better chances in the first half, Liverpool were much better after half time. It’s games like this you see Henderson’s value.


Alisson made a couple of great saves and was probably the difference between City winning and the draw, Ederson not being able to make the same sort of difference cost City.


Silva was close to the best player on the field, he always seems to go under the radar slightly.


Foden was unplayable at times, to Milner’s credit he was less influential in the second half(And Milner shouldn’t have been sent off unless every single foul has to be a yellow now).


Matip’s passing through the lines was excellent(again).


Jones was anonymous the first half, but was one of the best in the 2nd.


It was a great battle on the left between Roberterson/Mane and Walker/Jesus

Not many games get me this excited.

2 best teams in the league? 2 best teams in Europe? Based on this game…. yeah, definitely.

Liam


Premier League winners and Solskjaer (plus other losers)


Where are all the strikers?


A bleak weekend morning picking my fantasy premier league team led to a startling conclusion – there are no strikers anymore.

This evening I figured out that of the 24 goals scored this weekend, just 6 were actually scored by strikers.

Ilheanacho – 1 (unreliable, never in the team)

Vardy – 1 (OK, quality striker)

Hwang – 2 (who?)

Martial – 1 (see Ilheanacho)

Watkins – 1 (first goal in about 8 months)

Strikers in this league in general are so poor at the moment.

So you’re forced to pick Lukaku and/or Ronaldo and they either don’t start or don’t turn up.

In contrast, a brief list of strikers from the heyday of the 1999/2000 season reads:

Hasselbaink, Zola, Fowler, Owen, Shearer, Cole, Yorke, Phillips, Dublin, Sheringham, Wright, Ferdinand, Solskjaer, Anelka, Henry, Di Canio.

Imagine having to pick a few of them! It would be quality carnage every week on FPL.

Now it’s between Chris Wood and Solomon Rondon.

Please, someone bring back the strikers.

F Collins, London

Ole in or out?


Despite my best efforts to educate an impressionable mind, my son has chosen Manchester United as his team, and so we have watched many recent games together.

Watching them play against Young Boys was a genuinely odd experience. For the first 20 minutes, United looked lively and impressive – if they can keep this up, they might go far. A red card later, and the illusion was broken. Each substitution made them worse, more defensive and increasingly likely to concede. Change the first eleven, and then all planning goes out of the window.

Against Villarreal, even though they managed a trademarked Ronaldo late winner in Fergie time (reminiscent of a wrestler hitting their signature finish) – it doesn’t matter. The amount of improvement needed all across the pitch renders qualification from the group meaningless. Play like that against better opposition, and they will be hammered.

Yesterday, match reports across several platforms talked about a lack of a playing style where players know what is expected of themselves and those around them. The result is unstructured opportunism – occasions flairs of individual brilliance are isolated and nullified by more organised and disciplined opposition.

When he arrived, United needed motivation and belief, which Ole supplied in the faith that his players were still first class. That steadied the ship, but time has moved on, and the waves are getting higher.

In the Young Boys, Villarreal match and Everton yesterday, I am convinced that Ole picks what he believes is his best 11 and then tells them to get on with it. No more guidance is given. Substitutions are a last resort at a maddeningly late stage of the day – but after all, Ole has already chosen his best 11, and he has faith, what more is to be done?

The danger here is that Ole’s slide into mediocrity will infect the team dynamic. Agents will be jostling at the elbows of their prized players that pastures new would offer managers and systems that allow for their individual talents to express themselves (and earn the agent a slice of a transfer fee).

They will lose the players because they don’t see a medium-term vision in which they look good playing and winning things.

There is a conversation to be had about the support Ole has received from the club. No defensive midfielder could be found in an offseason when many teams would have taken deals below what they might have previously accepted to balance their budget. They bought van de Beek but apparently have no plans to use him. He thinks Fred is a football player.

Sacking a manager should be done with a definite idea of who you would replace them with and why. What would the new manager bring that is lacking or has been lost? It should be the sign of a club with ambition looking to improve themselves.

For United, sacking Ole has a more survivalist nature. If they don’t, they will slide down the league, out of Europe and the Pogba’s and Ronaldo’s will move on. This needs to be done and before the Winter break.

So get your shopping list written early, as the best bargains go quickly.

Simon of Whitegate (Brackets)

…There seems to be a lot of negativity towards OGS in the mailbox recently. I hope this is just frustration and not actual animosity to a tremendous and exemplary club servant.

Lets re-cap some of his recent achievements as manager and their contexts:

1. He took over a squad festering in negativity with all sorts of toxic dynamics going on: Player power issues (here’s looking at you Pogba), executive decision making disconnected from the needs of the clubs and several under-performing players

2. He cleared out the deadwood (remember Fellani?) and put in place a sensible recruitment strategy. Very few of the players he has signed are flops.

3. We no longer get spanked by the big teams.

4. Our away record

5. And the most important one; he has objectively demonstrated year on year improvement.

The last one is the key point. I think a sensible approach we can all adopt is instead of frothing at the mouth every time we don’t win 5-0, how about we accept that OGS has a ceiling, and the club are likely to hold onto him until he reaches that ceiling. This will most likely be this season. If he doesn’t genuinely challenge for the title, as opposed to just finishing second, or have a serious stab at the Champions League. then I would imagine the club will probably be looking at other managers to get them a better return on their recent outlays.

Let’s enjoy the fact that we have a genuine club legend who is probably in the final chapter of his tenure as our manager, who has restored a lot of fun to the team that has been sorely missing and will leave the squad in a far far better shape than he received it.

OGS, you took us to the promised land as player but you may not be able to get us there as manager. Thank you for at least getting us to the gates, which is a whole lot better than your four predecessors.

Samwise (you make me happy when skies are grey…) MUFC

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts to drawing with Everton


…Not a ManU fan so not really vested in this, but…

Resting Ronaldo and Pogba is possibly sensible as ManU have a large squad, etc, although you’d view Everton in the “tricky” category.

Bringing them both on, and Sancho (I know Pogba came on later) when you’re 1-0 up seems pointless if you’re resting them. Bringing Ronaldo on for Cavani when Cavani is lacking game time and he seemed to be doing ok seemed a bit pointless as well. And if you’re doing the sub, surely, giving Greenwood (who was looking dangerous) game time in the centre would appear to be a smart move, and if it allows the unsettled Sancho to settle on the right (the position you bought him for), that might be good too.

On the same theme, Pogba in centre midfield is generally awful, and against actual midfielders doubly so. He’s a useful (if slightly luxurious) left attacking midfielder. Straight swap for Martial, sure…McFred substitute, not so much. If you want to up your possession, the Dutch kid who never gets a game would surely be a better option.

That in game management was so poor, it was almost Southgate’ish.

Matthew (ITFC)

…I really gave it a good shot to get the mailbox away from being about Manchester United.

Why is it that fans from India and Africa always seem to be pro-Ole? Does he look like a cricketer or something? Is Solskjaer hilariously Swahili for “willybum”?

Common sense wouldn’t be knowing that Valencia and Tottenham publicly and I’m certain any other top level club privately tried hard to appoint Valverde and he turned them down. Common sense would be knowing that even if none of them had, Valverde would still be a perfect fit for United, and available for free whenever.

His record at Barca was excellent despite all the crap that we now know was going on, and despite being flooded with star players he felt he didn’t want or need.

Similar to Pochettino he will be waiting for the job that he wants, and similar to Pochettino there’s a high chance that United shooting their lame duck of a manager is what he is waiting for.

Similar to Pochettino, he won’t wait forever.

Can we talk about why we support who we support now please?

Not you Garey

Tim Sutton (United will win nothing with Solskjaer)

…Come on F365, can we have an amnesty on these infuriating Ole emails, day in, day out? They’re getting longer and more and more deranged with every day. It’s making the mailbox, normally an enjoyable feature, very irritating.

Regards

Andy

The most important thing to note is that the fans of the other major clubs want Ole to *stay*.

Says more than enough really.

James

Bees buzzing


Has there ever been a more obvious everyone’s second team in the premier league than Brentford. Scrappy little nobodies and enjoying every minute of punching the big sharks on the nose. Love it, and long may it continue.

Regards,

Liam.

….Following the question about the club with the most number of players from a country outside the UK, it struck me while watching the game between West Ham and Brentford the number of Scandinavian players in the Brentford team.

A quick look at their squad show a total of 10 players of Nordic origins with 7 from Denmark including Sorensen, Zanka, Racic, Norgaard, Rasmussen, Bidstrup and Jensen. Plus Thomas Frank the manager. Incredible

Kwame Williams, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

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