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What is the United way? Firstly I don’t understand this “United way” claims. Manchester United didn’t have tiki taka or any unique playing style. I doubt any United fan can even mention anything specific that only United did that nobody else did, in terms of playing style of philosophy.
The policy under SAF was to attack but that is a common theme for most top teams and SAF did love playing wingers, but so did others. Also SAF occasionally defensively game planned and sometimes setup the team to hit opponents on the break (especially those brilliant Arsenal sides). Basically SAF was brilliant coz he setup his teams to maximize the players he had.
Our essential problem has been that we picked terrible managers since his retirement. Moyes was incompetent, LVG was too defensive and a relic from the past and Jose seems to have lost whatever he had made him win titles at Chelsea, Inter and Madrid (he seemed incapable of fixing the defense or looking dynamic on offense). Most people knew Jose would last 2-3 years, but many just assumed he would win something and assemble a great team before he goes. Failed on the first thing, but he did get in some good talent.
Currently Ole has taken the offense off the leash Jose put them on, empowered the younger players and Pogba to play with freedom and it seems to be working. He also took the hard decisions of benching Lukaku and Mata and picking youth (not an easy call). After a long time watching a United game is fun and not a chore.
That being said, we know very little about Ole as I doubt he has had the time to implement any detailed attacking philosophy, luckily we have until the end of the season to see how he does. We will find out about his ability to gameplan for opponents when we play the top teams in the CL and PL. Spurs was a nice start, lets see if this continues. I doubt any United fan expects him to win all the games against the top teams, however if we seem to have a competent strategy (which involves attacking) and hold our own, most of us will be thrilled. Jarron, MUFC
Jan the man Great to see Jan Bednarek get recognition for his performance against Leicester in your team of the week. He was monumental and the key reason why we came out with 3 points rather than 1 (or 0). However, I would disagree with your implication that he hasn’t been good up until this game. He has been by far and away the best centre-back in Ralph’s revolution, on a consistent basis. Indeed, he isn’t especially fast but he is the dominant old school centre-back we’ve needed in amongst the technical but not physical Stephen’s and Yoshida’s of the world (and Mark Hughes’ favourite, the downright abysmal Wesley Hoedt). The whole of the fanbase has been unified in their praise for him for the past 6 matches and he’s made himself undroppable. As you state, at only 22 this is encouraging for the future. We’ve signed some absolute turkeys in recent years but at £5million he’s looking a steal.
And to think Hughes didn’t fancy him… Jon, Southampton
The kids are alright Inspired by your teenagers article I thought I’d extend this to the Championship. I’ve cheated a bit (I consider 22 to be a baby) but all these players are permanent (not a Premier loan in sight) and are first team regularos. For those not watching another bonkers season is in full swing in the Championship and the rumour mill is well and truly grinding. Highlights being available on Quest (a channel which one assumes should be endlessly repeating fare like Knightmare) have decreased visibility this season but all of the below will be filling click-bait articles for the next fortnight!
GK – Bailey Peacock-Farrell (22) – Leeds no. 1 is already a full international with Northern Ireland. A few mistakes over December and an injury to his understudy have led to Leeds searching a more established Premier keeper this month but he’s certainly promising.
RB: Max Aarons (19) – Spurs and Arsenal are supposedly lining up £15m bids to sign and then loan back the Norwich right-back. All the attributes for a modern attacking full back but it’s his composure in defence that really set him apart.
LB: Lloyd Kelly (20) – At 6ft 3” he looks like a centre back but has excelled at Bristol City on the left. Again blessed with pace and physicality he’s supposedly high on Liverpool’s radar.
CB: Chris Mepham (21) – Already a full Wales international Mepham, as all Brentford player’s must be, is assured and confident on the ball. Southampton’s top defensive target pips his 21 year old CB partner and England youth international Ezri Konsa in this team.
CB: Joe Rodon (21) – Another Welshman who has broken through at Swansea. A ball-playing centre back who even looks like John Stones!
CM: Daniel Batty (21) – No relation! There are not many young players able to hold their own in the centre of the midfield in this division but Batty has done well in Nigel Adkins’ improving Hull.
CM: Eberechi Eze (20) – QPR’s no. 10 has attracted admiring glances from Spurs and Crystal Palace this season. A lovely player to watch who can glide past a man and set to be England’s next tug-of-war (with Nigeria) once Declan Rice puts everyone out of their misery!
RW: Jarrod Bowen (22) – The inspiration for this team and the player most likely to break the £20m barrier. A left-footed right winger who likes a shot (think Arjen Robben) his 13 goals have alerted Leicester to a ready made first teamer.
LW: Matty Cash (21) – Really a right winger but has played at full back and even central midfield at Forest so I’ve shunted him in here. An all action player ready to chase and win the ball has a decent return of 5 goals and this will likely make him a favourite of new boss Martin O’Neill.
CF: Neal Maupay (22) – The league’s top scorer with 15 is the latest gem uncovered by Brentford. A former French youth international who uses his pace and strength to devastating affect coupled with a nasty streak to ruffle opposition defenders. Was linked as a possible Tammy Abraham replacement at Villa before the Bee’s quoted £20m.
CF: Che Adams (22) – Birmingham’s talisman has always been a handful but has managed to add goals, 13 already this season, to his game. Big, strong and fast he’d be ideal for any struggling top flight club Dan, LTFC
Ozil v Emery Regarding the whole Mesut Ozil v Unai Emery saga; I think the big issue is that Emery is not a man-manager. He does not know how to handle the big names in world football. This was made evident when he was in charge of PSG and could never really gel with Neymar. The Brazilian was a contributing factor as to why the manager got the sack.
I am not saying that it should come to a ‘me or him’ scenario for the club but I do feel like Arsenal should put their foot down and demand that Unai Emery and Mesut Ozil come to a compromise before the end of the season. This situation is not helping anyone.
If it doesn’t work out, get rid of Mesut Ozil (or if everything really goes t*ts up, Unai Emery) in the Summer. But until then, both parties should work out a scenario where we can get the best out of the player we are paying 350k a week.
Personally, I think it is ridiculous that Emery does not play our most creative player. Not even on the bench when fit. This, by the way, has been echoed by his team-mates who, post match, even said that we were crying out for some creativity during the West Ham game.
Anyway, we’ll see…. Malcolm, AFC
I’m not a massive follower of French football but wasn’t a big issue of Emery’s time at PSG the fact that he pampered to the ego’s too much? It seemed like Neymar etc ran the team more than Emery. Perhaps Emery’s treatment of Ozil is him reacting to this, not wanting to make the same mistake twice. He’s trying to emulate the togetherness, team-ethic of Sevilla rather than the ego-driven collection of individuals at PSG. Spence Gooner
Sometimes I think I watch a different Arsenal than everyone else. Arsenal were a joy to watch? Not in the last five years at the least. I mean, if you think that joy is watching your players pass the ball around outside the opposition’s box for five minutes and then hit a long shot into row Z then sure, joy. If you think getting Walcott on his way in a counter attack only to suddenly forget how to kick a ball and then fall over is joy? Emery is in the job 6 months, give him a chance to change things because it looks like we’re heading in the right direction. Oh, and Torreira, a 22 year old playing his first season in the Premier League who’s been a revelation so far is good but not good enough? Get a grip.
We seem to make our minds up about players and then we just don’t question them for the rest of their playing days. Ozil had one great season, he’s been rotten the whole of 2018 and so far this season he’s had one good game against Leicester. People talk about him being our most creative player but to be honest that just highlights the problem Arsenal face right now – he’s not that creative and we don’t have anyone better. He needs to leave Arsenal because £350,000 per week should buy you a really good, consistent player.
We bemoan player power yet we get our pitchforks out when a manager stands up to their players. If Ozil wants to justify his wage and play consistently with a team built around him then he needs to improve his performance first. A player that you can’t sell who earns £350,000 per week but doesn’t contribute to the team is not an asset, they’re purely a cost and its up to Ozil to change that. SC, Belfast
Arsenal boss Dear MC,
Understandably, not every Arsenal fan is going to agree on how we should view the manager at the moment. That said, the problem with insisting that we be patient with him and support him or “f*ck off” is that he’s not giving us reasons support him.
He’s ostracized the two most talented midfielders at the club. Ramsey is leaving for free when we could have gotten something for him last summer – its been clear since August that the manager doesn’t rate him. Nobody is taking Ozil off our hands with that salary, so why depreciate a useful asset?
The manager’s record in the transfer market isn’t anything spectacular. This is the same man that signed one of his ex-players from Sevilla while he was at PSG (Grzegorz Krychowiak) then proceeded to bench him and tank his career. He’s clearly only interested in less talented/workmanlike types that’ll follow his instructions to the letter – which in turn means that Arsenal will become a less attractive destination for the most talented players.
Arsenal is creating less and conceding more. We approach games against teams like West Ham (no disrespect) as if we’re the smaller team. Outside of building from the back and the connection on the left between Iwobi and Kolasinac, we can’t identify any consistent progressive tactical approach. During the 22 game unbeaten streak, the team probably played 6 impressive halves and Ozil and Ramsey were involved in 4 for those but they aren’t starters. Yes, the current squad might be flawed and devoid of “his” players but at a bare minimum, the manager should be maximizing what we have an he’s not doing that through what seems like a combination of misplaced pride and tactical cowardice.
So with all that in mind, what exactly are we supposed to be looking forward to and why should we be patient? I’m happy to be proven wrong but I don’t see anything about this guy and his loser aura to make me support this trash.
Maybe I’ll f*ck off after all…
Cheers, Idris (Arsenal and Houston, TX).
Ole decision comes down to these questions There has been a lot of speculation about and analysis of Solskjaer and his long-term suitability for the United job. Paul Ince has chimed in again and, once again, it’s total horsesh*t. Personally, I’ve not yet decided for certain either way (I’m about 60/40 at the moment) because I think it’s still too early but, if it was up to me, then the decision at the end of the season would come down to these questions:
Did he keep up the good form? We have a minimum of 19 matches left this season: 16 league, (at least) 2 Champions League, and (at least) 1 FA cup. Cup runs are great but I think it’s fair to say the league is always the top priority for United, while overall game-to-game performances are also of importance (if only to placate the fans). If we can win around 14 (73% ish) of the remaining league games, assuming that we lost the remaining 5 (say, Chelsea, City, Arsenal, Liverpool, plus one more), then we’d finish on 83 points, which would have been enough for the top four in each of the last 10 seasons – this would be an amazing achievement. Even if we only won 10 of the remaining league games then we’d still be on at least as many points as last year. Anything less than that would be a bit of a concern, but we’ll see how he gets on.
How did he bounce back from bad results? Up until now it’s all been going swimmingly; we’ve not been losing in any games and we’ve not even conceded an equaliser, so we’ve yet to see how he deals with difficult circumstances. In some ways, we need this to happen (and I imagine it will within the next 5 games) just to see how he and the players handle it. It’s one thing keeping a winning run going but it’s an entirely different challenge to get back to winning ways after a disappointing result, so it’s important that we get the measure of this before committing to him on a full-time basis.
What was/would be his transfer policy? We might get to see a glimpse of this in the last couple of weeks of January, but it isn’t looking likely in terms of incomings (though there are rumours surrounding players leaving). Probably the closest we will get to evidence here is his input to the board, as he has apparently agreed to provide to Ed Woodward. Hopefully the club will press on and appoint a director of football so that there will be a stronger footballing voice in the boardroom conversations, rather than continuing what we’ve seen up until now. If the club gets this appointment right then the concerns about future transfer dealings are mitigated somewhat.
Who else is under consideration? I understand and agree with some of the names being touted (Southgate, Jardim, Pochettino), but I do have concerns about each of them for various reasons. Plus there’s no guarantee that Southgate and Pochettino would even want to leave their current projects. I would rule out some of the names mentioned instantly (Zidane, Conte, Simeone, Blanc) for reasons I won’t go into here; suffice it to say that they each have something about them or their management styles that I don’t care for. If Ole can continue doing about as well as he is right now, allowing for a reasonable drop-off in results, surely that’s a good enough yardstick by which to measure him. What better evidence for your suitability for a particular job than having actually done the job in question?
Under Ole, I think we’ve been better than most United fans could have reasonably hoped for but we and the board need to take the emotion out of it and look at it in an objective way. He has been brilliant so far but we’ll need to wait until the end of the season to see whether it’s sustainable or if we’re just riding the crest of a wave. In all honesty, I’m leaning towards wanting Ole to get the gig permanently, purely because he is demonstrating that he is a good fit for the team that we have right now.
I’m not saying Pochettino wouldn’t be able to do a good job but I’m not convinced it’s necessarily right for the club. As Gary Neville said after the Spurs game, there would need to be a big culture change at United to accommodate him (in terms of his backroom staff, the way the youth players are trained, the profile of player we’d need to bring in to suit his style, etc.), and then the question is: if we commit to that style, which managers potentially fit that profile in the future? Where do we go from there?
The last three managers have all tried to change the team’s ethos from Ferguson’s time, and yet none of them have successfully managed it. Ferguson’s legacy still remains to this day, even in many of the players that he didn’t sign (Rashford, Lingard, Pogba, Pereira, McTominay were all products of his youth system, even if he left before he could use them). We have first-hand evidence that the style we used to play can still work to some degree, so do we really want to change to yet another different style of football and risk another 2-5 years of transition? Or, do we adapt the plan used in recent times (and, coincidentally, our most successful era of football) under the stewardship of a guy who knows how to play in that way and can clearly communicate his ideas to the players available? My gut feeling right now is that, unless something goes dramatically wrong between now and the end of the season, Ole would be my frontrunner. By a nose. Ted, Manchester
Mailbox fury John from Willamsburg epitomises the problem with our football club! Want to know why there are empty seats at the Emirates?..Because there are many that are like John that have a season ticket and only attend infrequently (his words not mine). He then makes ludicrous statements like “Torriera is good but not good enough”. He thinks Emery bought the players in the summer…wrong again (he had a veto), whilst ranting about the mismanagement of Ozil. Frankly Emery saw what happened when the star player dictated at PSG and has learnt from that. I admit in the 1 game in 5 that Ozil turns up he is a joy to watch – but sometimes I would be as effective on the pitch in my 50s! He hides or sulks or goes missing way too often.
It took Klopp 3.5 years to make Liverpool competitive…now look at them. Maybe john could persuade his compatriot Kroenke to invest the money in the team to buy the quality he craves rather than bleed £3,000,000 plus a year for his ‘advice on internet services’ – I kid you not – this is why he wanted to take the club private so the books are no longer public record. My affiliation? 3 generations before me growing up and Dalston…I’ll leave john to Google where that is! Chris C
You might get quite a lot of these, or maybe others will have let it pass…
But, John from Williamsburg, started his e-mail with an interesting tit-bit. He has a season ticket for Arsenal but lives in the U.S. Fine, I thought, that’s some serious dedication. Then he popped out a couple of supplementary facts: he visits London “infrequently” and seemingly has been to three games this year (one of which was a cup game!).
This got me thinking. Surely, and this is not personal at all, but surely season tickets should only be available to people who are actually willing and able to attend most, if not all, games? I don’t really know how this would be policed, and appreciate it might actually have been a family ticket of sorts (so the seat was always used) but it just seems such a waste of a ticket. Particularly when I’m sure there are thousands of local fans who would love to have a ticket but are unable. Alex, Ayr
A bold prediction… Hey all
To all the LFC haters I have good news for you all, yes we shall drop, we will possibly drop a few points en route to 12 May 2019, and yes we will drop the Trophy when we receive it on 12 May 2019 as we shall need to get used to lifting the “Holy Grail” known as the Premiership Trophy. We have the belief and the game management ability to see this fight through to the end and come out with the Crowning Glory at the end of it. Reading all the FB (facebook) posts with reference to Man U exacting revenge come 24 February all I shall add is let the results speak for itself. Liverpool supporters definitely are feeling the pinch, well I know I am and the CB return cannot come sooner, as Fabinho definitely will be an addition to Midfield in our run up the home stretch. 16 games and counting, a bold prediction, Liverpool will not be usurped and the winning margin could possibly be greater than the current 4 point differential. YNWA for LIFE….Go you REDS!!!!!! CWC YNWA
De Gea’s footwork stems from an obvious background… I’m not sure why de Gea’s leg saves are baffling so many people. de Gea came from a futsal background, and this is a crucial part of futsal goalkeeping (not sure if he was a goalkeeper at this point, but still?). I remember watching United with my friend who played in Portugal at a high level, and she pointed out that his style of play is exactly that of a futsal ‘keeper. Sidenote – playing futsal has an incredible effect on developing and progressing players, and more funding should be put into the sport to help our young players. Plus it’s a lot of fun! Kirsty, MUFC, Manchester
A belated weekend mail on Pogba Excuse the tardy submission, Monday wasn’t kind!
I’ve seen a lot written about how Pogba is benefitting from Solskjaer’s more attacking tactics, but wanted to offer a thought on the importance of off the ball running to his renaissance.
I found myself groaning at the telly on countless occasions in the last year or so as Pogba repeated what seemed to be becoming a party trick – he’d win the ball in his own third, roll his marker and surge forward ten yards, head up looking for the next pass. He would hold onto the ball for an eternity before turning sideways or attempting a dribble in a dangerous central area, losing possession and allowing a counter attack into the space he had just vacated. Midfield pivots going AWOL defensively has always been a particular bugbear of Mourinho’s, and he has never appeared keen to accommodate players with this tendency, no matter how talented (Sneijder comes to mind, as does his tendency to either play Modric further up the pitch or leave him out for big away games in Madrid).
Seeing Pogba mk. 2 in recent weeks makes it apparent that a significant cause of this bad habit was the lack of forward runners. When he surges from midfield under solskjaer, he has Shaw and Young/Dalot pushing wide to stretch the opposition, while Lingard, Rashford and Martial hope straight on their bikes and make a break for dangerous zones around the peripheries of the defence. All of a sudden Pogba has a handful of teammates whose first instinct is to attack space in the final third, allowing him more space in midfield and also giving him options to show off his excellent vision. It’s not rocket science, but it beggars belief that Mourinho was not more facilitative of a player that talented.
One final point – Solskjaer’s tactics have been quite reminiscent of the latter stages of the 2002-3 season, where scholes was operating as a false 9 while Giggs, Van Nistelrooy and Solskjaer sprinted forwards at every opportunity to offer options in behind. I guess what I’m trying to say is – football is finally fun again as a United fan, and I’m already excited for the next match.
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