Keep your mails coming to theeditor@football365.com.

 

A team of Ole’s making
Strong keeper, commanding central defender, inspirational attacking midfielders, creating chances… things that we have not possessed simultaneously on a pitch for a very, very long time.

I won’t accept yet that playing badly and winning is anything but that, but knowing you’re second in a pressure cooker of a season, it’s starting to gel, and finally, there was a good team performance more than individual brilliance to beat a good Villa team.

If (and it’s a huge if) we are in the reckoning at the end of this season, I believe we will have a team of players, and a having a manager who has actually been there as a player (who provided the inescapable single defining moment of Utd success in the modern era and ) one hopes it can only be an advantage to get us over the line.

Best of all it’s starting to identify Ole with a team of his making, and not mostly inherited and that’s what we’ve needed since he was appointed last Feb. More manager, less caretaker. Players fighting for their positions with only Bruno, De Gea and McGuire & Rashford nailed on starters..long may this continue.

If he can get one of either Pellistri or the incoming Diallo to bring balance to the right and give a genuine right sided threat, it could be the set up for years to come…but right now that seems like a nice problem to have.

Way to early to think of anything beyond where we currently are, but at last progressive steps by a club written off in November.

In the real world though, there’s nothing I would love more than to be screaming to an adjacent scouser in the visiting end, so please everyone stay safe and take all the precautions possible to get us back into the stadiums and bring back the real thing football is missing.
Chris, Utd. (We’re not joint top. We are second because we surrendered to Jose…)

 

I dont understand why some United fans dont think OGS is good enough for the job.

Granted, he arrived with not the most stellar managerial career to that point.  But he only arrived as caretaker, so that was fine – he then won a few games in a row and put a smile on peoples faces.  You can argue whether he should have got the job full time at that point, but I cant see it was wrong to at least give him a go.

Here we are, essentially 2 years later.
United put a good second half to good use last season and got to 3rd.  So far this season, United are equal on points with the league leaders after 16 games.  We havent been CLOSE to that for quite a while now (basically since Ferg).  We’re playing good football, and we’re actually enjoyable to watch.  Players are starting to improve in positions, and the team are learning to play together better.  There’s better competition for most places on the pitch.  And the players are finally playing for each other – did you see every single member of the squad go to Bailly for his last minute block vs Villa ?  Thats proper squad morale.

Ok – I understand we didnt make it out of our Champs League group when we really should have done.  But even Ferguson took a while to learn his way in Europe – it was only after going out a few times after drawing 0-0 away that he changed plan and didnt want a 0-0 draw away in the first leg.  Ferguson didnt win the Champions League until his 5th time of asking, after 13 years at the club.  Remember that night at the Nou Kamp ?  No, not that one – the one when Romario and Stoichkov showed us how to play football and Barcelona educated us 4-0.  It could have been 10-0 and not shown their superiority properly.  Ferguson had his downs as well.

But United are on an upward curve.  OGS is moving us in the right direction.  And yet, its apparently not good enough because it hasnt happened yesterday and today.  What about tomorrow ?  Our squad is as good as its been for years, its young and we can still add to it.  The mind drools at the difference the next big signing could make, if he even had half the impact of Bruno.

So we could have got Poch – he’s never won anything, zero, nada.  So why would he necessarily be better ?  Cos he did quite well elsewhere ?  What like Jose ?  But he didnt work out for us…..  Or Ancelotti – but he’s 61, and if you want a manager to build for the long term, do you want to start with a 61 year old ?

We’re closing the gap.  Not so long ago we were MILES adrift of City/Liverpool.  I’m not saying we’re on their level just yet, but we’re getting a damn sight closer.  Ole is doing a damn good job and it looks like most things are pointing in the right direction together now.
Ben, MUFC (OGS gets stick for DVB, give him time. Yet not as much stick elsewhere for the twice as expensive Pepe, Havertz, etc – consistency pls gentlemen)

 

Wow. Did not expect the Ole Out Brigade to be piping up in the morning mailbox!

I don’t know if Lee Panton and I were watching the same game; I thought Matic was an especially inspired substitution, sent on with the specific instruction to kick the lumps out of Grealish. And it worked a treat, with special mention to the cheeky thumbs up he gave Michael Oliver for the yellow card he finally earned after 3 c**tish fouls. Any fan who doesn’t appreciate the s**thousery required for success in the Premier League is clearly detached from reality. Dan James coming on was a tactically astute sub as well and did help to stem the Villa tide on the led by Matty Cash, although he definitely needs to adopt a pass first mentality if he wants more minutes.

Yes, we should have closed out the game much better, but this is the 4th game at the end of the festive fixtures, so I am gonna cut the boys some slack and gladly ride Lady Luck while she’s on our side. Also, I am well aware that we are nowhere close to the finished article, with opposing teams getting too many good quality chances every game that more ruthless teams/strikers would be putting away. But credit where credit’s due: looking at our last four league fixtures (Leeds (h), Leicester (a), Wolves (h), Villa (h)) over this congested period, who would have thought we would have 10/12 points in the bag! Say what you want about Ole the P.E. teacher but in my book, he passes the eye test, and things have been looking up ever since he took over, and it looks like he has the complete backing of the players.

In other news, thoroughly enjoyed Ryan Collins’ snarky email. No surer sign that we are being taken seriously again than when we start ruffling some feathers again!

Finally, to all the other United fans urging caution, I say, just let loose and enjoy the ride. It’s been 8 long arduous years since we have been anywhere even close to the position we are currently in. There’s probably a less than 1% chance that we actually go on to win it this year but please let me (and let yourself) indulge in my/our flights of fancy — these jets haven’t been warmed up in a while. To bastardise a famous quote, ‘tis better to have thought of winning and lost, than to have never entertained the possibility of winning. I for one am relishing the egg on my face at the end of the season when we eventually finish outside of the top 4.

This is the most alive I have felt with regards to football in a long long while, and what a way to start off 2021. Happy New Year to all, whatever your allegiances are!
Yong Yao, Singapore

 

Following Manchester United’s victory over Aston Villa, the usual complaints about Manchester United receiving preferential treatment surfaces again.

The problem with this claim is that it is often incoherent because it is unclear as to who exactly is actually supposed to be culpable if the allegation is in fact true.

Is it Manchester United themselves? If so, this would indicate that the whole league is corrupt and would in my view render watching the sport a waste of time. Also if this was the case, it would be very surprising that Uniteds best league finish since Ferguson retired is 2nd.

Is it the referees? If so, the question would be why are the referees helping Manchester United? Again if it is because Manchester United are paying them to do so, why watch the sport and invest so much time and emotion into it?

Or is it that the referees are incompetent? If this is the case, then why is there such frustration at Manchester United? Surely the frustration should be levelled at the referees rather than the team benefitting?

Now here is my opinion and please do remember that it is just my opinion.

The referees are not corrupt and not incompetent. In all sports, it is natural for the referees to slightly favour the bigger teams over the smaller teams. This is not unique to football nor to Manchester United within football.

For example, Liverpool would much more likely get a favourable penalty decision at home vs Sheffield United than the other way around by virtue of the fact that they are a bigger team. I don’t have any stats to back this up because it is an assumption.

However the main reason that people think that Manchester United receive preferential treatment is because Manchester United are a lot more likely to make better use of a mistake than other teams.

Let me give you an example. Lets say that Manchester United are playing Brighton and are awarded a 90th minute corner which should have been a goal kick and then they use the corner to score the winning goal – everyone moans that United were unjustly victorious and lucky etc. Yet it may well be that in the same game Brighton might have been awarded two corners which should have been goal kicks both which didn’t result in goals.

My next point is that when Manchester United win without any controversy, no-one is interested in any decisions that went against them in those games. For example if United win 3-0 but are unfairly denied a penalty, no-one cares.

Finally, the team that attacks with more threat is more likely to get favourable decisions. To get a penalty, you have to make your way into the opposition box in the first place. So for example if United have on average 3x as many touches in the penalty area, they are 3x more likely to create a situation which could result in a penalty award.

I think too many fans of opposition teams spend too much time thinking about Manchester United and would be better served just enjoying the title race. Its far more entertaining this year compared to last year’s runaway title.
Mustafa Rashid (Manchester United fan, London)

 

Fernandes the penaty merchant
Now I have been completely dumbfounded how fernandes has been getting anything like the positive attention he’s had of late. Every game I’ve watched, which has been most, has mainly involved him playing through balls straight off the pitch and taking 35 yard shots that bounce once and go straight to the keeper.

But I’ve now come to realise he makes an extremely valuable contribution in a brand new role – the penalty merchant. Playing in the same space as a support striker/false nine, the penalty merchant takes advantage of var by concentrating solely on winning and scoring penalties. Through doing this the penalty merchant can rack up some impressive statistics , fooling people into thinking the pm is actually contributing to other aspects of the game.

It’s yet to be established whether future penalty merchants need to look exactly the same as Mr Bean too.
Trevor, Kent

 

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A: To avoid the wheels rumoured to be falling off Man Utd’s accidental title challenge in winners and losers…
Keg Breezy

 

A 90’s kid
Just sharing some love-in for Arsenal and United winning this week.

Arsenal back to winning ways
I am a so called 90’s kid, and EPL just doesn’t fit right when 2 clubs,(read:victims of indifferent American ownership) struggle

Looking at how Arsenaland Man Utd won their games this weekend, cant stop feeling a bit deja vu at the manner of these wins.
Arsenal’s win came courtesy of their young academy players, breaking into the first team and playing beautiful football while they are at it. Utd’s win came courtesy of their big names stepping up and contributing when they needed it most, much to the chagrin of rival fans.

Oh and while I send some love in for these 2 teams sparking joy in their fans lives, some deserved love in for VAR. Except for some obvious mistakes, I think the furore has been completely overblown, with VAR now bearing the brunt of fans’ resentment/frustration instead of the referees. Fans of the losing team will always complain and point fingers at others to blame, in this case, its VAR and not the ref anymore.

I think the higher number of goals scored this year is partly due to how efficient VAR has been in identifying fouls in the box on attacking players. Defenders used to get away with a lot of minor fouls/close calls in the box that the referees couldn’t spot/be 100% sure in real time. But with VAR, the risk/reward situation favours attacking players, with replays allowing any infractions to be identified and penalised. This means more attacks, more pens, and more goals. Who doesn’t like more goals? Sarthak, 90’s kid. India

 

Spurs half-time ratings
Half time report plus ratings. Let me start by stating that Leeds should be bitterly disappointed to be 2 nil down and that I’m aware it comes across a bit ridiculous to berate your team for being 2 nil up.

So much mediocrity for Spurs and it doesn’t surprise me that decent chances were carved out that really should have tested Lloris, which brings me onto proper player ratings:

Lloris 7 – the number GK’s get when they’ve not done much in the game and it’s not a problem they haven’t contributed. Should have been tested more.

Doherty 4 – out of position a lot and poor decision making when he has the ball. Really disappointed with his contribution since signing but he’s clearly lacking confidence and has come from a team suited to his style who were punching above their weight. RB still a big problem at Spurs.

Toby 6 – troubled by any movement and pace. Still our best CB but it’s been a sad decline.

Dier 5 – would love to see his individual performance tape of the first half. Just like Toby, easily confused by movement and pace. Been a lot of talk about how much he has improved but, honestly, absolutely average and makes such simple mistakes on a regular basis. Often picking the wrong option for a pass and getting caught between 2 minds. Good at shouting though. Such a shame as he appears to be a standup human being off the pitch; smart, articulate and down to earth. I’m not passing marks out for being a good geezer though.

Davies N/A – just don’t break Covid rules, Sergio.

Pierre 8 – without him we’d be f*cked. He really is the heartbeat of the team.

Winks 5 – doesn’t work for me next to PEH (sorry if the abbreviation upsets that guy who was crying about people using this format. Get a grip, son). Just doesn’t add much.

Tanguy 7 – brilliant on the ball but doesn’t get on the ball enough. That’s a combo of his own (lack of?) desire to run a game and our style of play. Could be a 9 every week in my eyes if our game plan wasn’t to defend 89 minutes of every game.

Stevie 6 – tries hard but had yet another chance he should be burying after a pick out from Davies. Maybe the best of our right mid options.

Kane 6 – tucked a penalty away you’d expect him to despatch. Produced the one real moment of Spurs quality for the Son assist and it was a great ball (but I’m tired of him getting credit for Son’s brilliance. It was the run that made the goal). 6 may also seem harsh but he needs to be docked points for whatever he was up to against Wolves. Literally the worst player on the pitch.

Son 8 – makes runs constantly. Brilliant run, and finish, for his goal. He could take a shit on the centre circle and I’d still love the bloke.
Glen, Stratford Spur

 

Check your AWB stats
Ved Sen this morning wrote a mail around Neville and has lack of crosses, justifying that AWB could be an attacking RB in this mould, but I would like to take issue with the fact that G Neville was not an attacking RB in this mould. The argument stems from the stat of 182 crosses in 400 PL apps. This sounded fishy to me, so I went to do some digging. Sure enough, PL website lists 400 apps, and 182 crosses (Trent is on 786 so far, for comparison). I wonder, how many does it say he completed prior to 2006, when the league compiled stats in greater volumes? 4. Check it if you like. 4 crosses in 340 games. The remaining 178 came in the 60 remaining games post 2005.
In summary, TAA is currently averaging about 7 crosses a game, because he is very good at it. Neville wasn’t as good, but still knocked in about 3/game (for the time where we have a complete data set). AWB is down on about 2.

And it’s fine abdicating any attacking input in order to be an entirely defensive full back (not really), but not a great time to publish that view when the player in question was at fault for an opposition goal the night before.
KC (financial analyst, check your stats please) 

 

The big VVD miss
Pool are missing VVD’s distribution from the back even more than his defending. The players tasked with filling in for him have not done too bad with the task of defending, but when it comes to distribution, they are no where near his level. In the latest 0-0 draw, there were a number of times where Newcastle had committed men forward and were open for a counter attack, with the ball in Pool’s defensive third and attackers in positions that were crying out for one of VVD’s long passes forward from yesteryear – those pre-assists he so often pulled out of the bag. Instead we had sideways passes, playing out from the back and the slow building through the thirds.
Liverpool’s dominance last season was built on the variety of ways they could break a team down: via the wings with speed and pin point crosses, accurate long balls and killer counters, and the ability to press and play through the middle. They were like one of those Swiss army knives with a tool for every task. Now, with VVD missing, they are without one of their major attacking options. To top it off, TAA is still not back at the level he showed in the last two years (Failing to beat the first man in two dead ball situations against Newcastle! – Definitely not my first choice RB for England, on current form)and Mane and Salah are lacking mental sharpness and look tired (the number of times Mane allowed himself to be wrestled off the ball against Newcastle was unusual for him, given his usual physicality), something not helped by the absence of Jota.
On the plus side for them, the return of Thiago, a Rolls-Royce of a midfielder, will be a lift to the team. I’m not a Liverpool supporter, but still it’s so refreshing to watch a player who always plays with his head up, aware of what’s going on around and ahead of him and who’s natural instinct is to move the ball forwards. I hope he can stay injury free for the rest of the season as IMO we’re privileged to have him in our league.
Rob, AFC.

 

Red pedants
As an Arsenal fan I dislike both Liverpool and Man Utd, so don’t care as long as Tottenham don’t win it, however, you can tell how worried the scouse reds are by the pedantic “you’re not joint top, you’re second on goal difference” or the “yeah well we’re well injured and we’re still top” not to mention the “you always get soft penalties”, let’s be honest, you both always get soft penalties. Being top only matters in May (or July) just enjoy your teams having more points than most.
Andrew goonerabroad Brown

 

Wilder sympathy
Really really sympathetic to Chris Wilder only having 6 (of the now 9) available substitutes for today’s game against Palace. I understand they are affected by COVID, if only there had been a chance earlier in the season to reduce the workload on the players in advance of the inevitable infections the club would face. But alas, dastardly Klopp recognised that his side had had infections already, so other sides must go through all the same pain and play with a depleted squad. After all, Liverpool would be stronger under 5 subs, and Sheff U weaker (is that possible?).
KC (reap what you sow) 

 

Kane the voyeur
Harry Kane is a flat track bully

Just like so many before him.

Dives like Tom daly, feigns injury like an actor, backs into people like a forklift. Has another average game against a crap team and the cocks are out in the media again.

Wank wank, spaf spaff, what is the obsession with this guy? Son is the talent, Kane is the voyeur.
Fat Man

 

Carney backlash
It’s indeed sad to hear of the vile abuse that was directed towards Karen Carney. However, I do not see Leeds United as being in the wrong – I feel they have every right to question her statement publicly, just as she expressed her opinion publicly.

I think pundits should be called on what they say and more importantly what they don’t say. Take the man united old boys club – very vocal, with an understandable bias to their old club. Yet, surprisingly(?) quiet when Cavani says something that rhymes (almost) with Margarita to a person of colour.

No objections that another fella got an 8 match ban for a similar offence, even though he stated that was the form of address in Uruguay society. Not saying I agree or disagree with either Cavani or Suarez, but such silence from the man united “Pundits Club”. Double standards?? Or selective morality??
Heavy-D, Cape Town (LFC)



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