The Mailbox can’t fathom Manchester United’s attraction to Graham Potter – and their manager isn’t the problem anyway. Also: more reasons the Red Devils can beat Liverpool; and praise for two Scottish sides…
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Potter isn’t the answer
NUFC’s recent defeats have absolutely sucked to watch, but it’s not really disappointment in the losses. Newcastle United win when they punch above their weight through effort, grit, fitness and physicality. Given our fixture and injury lists (not to mention Tonali’s suspension), there has been no opportunity to give any player a rest in so, so long. We’ve made a 17-year-old an integral part of every one of those defeats, ffs. Watching the same tired players march out every three or four days to give everything, then make a mistake from exhaustion has been painful more out of pity than indignation at the defeats. As a supporter I see it as just another one of the bad times I’m well accustomed to, except I reckon it’ll be shorter. There doesn’t seem to be even a hint of blame for Eddie Howe in the city, but I do wonder whether over-training has contributed to that injury list.
The Ratcliffe-Potter-Ten Hag rumors, though, are fascinating. I have a deep hatred for MUFC, so grains of salt all around, but very little of this makes sense to me. Manchester United’s problem isn’t the wrong manager. I’ve said many times here that ETH is failing, but I’m convinced that the real problem is the squad, at least half of which is disinterested, unable or unwanted. Graham Potter knows a sh*t-ton more about football than I do, so maybe he’s got a bright new formation that would give this squad a consistent way to play and provide tactical advantages. Or maybe he just wants a job, and the MU job pays better than most any. But surely, he must expect to fail. Even Mourinho wasn’t big enough for that job and those expectations, and Potter has, iirc, two and a half seasons in the EPL. That’s an Eddie Howe-level flyer. If Ten Hag could assemble a new squad, I think he’d do rather well. But I’d bet that none of MU’s players is as worth as much as what the club paid for them, and that’s a huge problem that means he’ll never get the time. And neither will Potter.
Chris C, Toon Army DC
Four more reasons
Lots of good reasons but i got 4 reasons of my own, in a nutshell:
– lfc’s midfield is nascent. The prior lynchpin #6.5 alexis is out with studs thru his muscle (thank you sheff utd!), and the backup hasnt clicked. Endo looks like he’s running thru mud and his decisions seem to be like youtube at 0.75 playback speed.
– main center forwards are not exactly on fire. Nunez blows hot and cold, just like Man U do. Cody Gakpo is generally decent, but can be invisible.
– CB issues: it’s saying something when the first choice CB is 32 yr old Matip. Ibou Konate looks good, but sometimes makes mental errors and has missed a number of games due to injury. Quansah and Gomez are similarly prone to mental errors.
– high chance of upset in such fixtures: even when Man U were ruling the roost, they were toppled by their kryptonite… world beating star… Danny Murphy… more than once.
i’d be really happy with a single goal win. Tonking Man U, if it even happens, would just be nice icing on the cake, to the real cake of winning the EPL. And if Man U really got tonked, ETH may be sacked and a new manager brought in. Not sure if i really want that, as an lfc fan. 😈
Gab YNWA (I hope i’ve reverse jinxed this … fingers crossed 🤞🏻)
While the hammering of United versus, say, the other United may be unfair, there appears to be some revisionism in claiming that United’s transfer strategy has been mostly good.
It’s one thing to go through each player and claim that they were good (last year) but not factor in what problem they were trying to solve.
On the one hand, the transfers were for players they had a more realistic chance of bringing on board than a player like Kane or Bellingham. Sure, United can pay hefty fees and wages, but they aren’t a destination club at the moment. On the other hand, they bought a lot of square pegs of round holes.
Problem one. United has made many ‘statement’ acquisitions over the last ten years, some of which were no different. You also have to question why some of those players were not sought after by other top clubs with similar requirements. For example, several clubs desperately needed midfielders but weren’t pursuing Mount. It’s not because Mount is a bad player but because he likely wasn’t a fit for what they were looking for. For United, it seemed more about the fact they could still buy a reasonably big-name player.
Problem two. Short-termism. It’s one thing to bring a player in to fill a hole short-term, but United has done this time after time – Ronaldo, Zlatan, Cavani, Falcao, Weghorst. The list goes on. Erikson falls into that category, and Evans most recently. It’s revisionist to say Casemiro was a great buy last year, but we all knew his legs were getting older, but he is only 31. It’s just that asking him to fit into a high-line pressing team isn’t going to work – if that was Ten Hag’s plan.
Problem three. The wrong characteristics. It’s clear that some managers buy players not just for their skill but also for their temperament. Or move them out if they have the wrong culture for the club. Look at how quickly Pep got rid of Joao Cancelo while Klopp deep-sixed Sakho. Not United. United’s best player is also one of the sulkiest. Yet Ten Hag chose him as club captain. We can argue about how much being a captain matters – but it does matter in the dressing room. So, are United so desperate they are willing to overlook the player’s character and attitude? Even Onana has a checkered past; he was Banned for accidentally doping, getting into a bun fight with his international team manager, and ending his international career. He was only at Inter for one season and didn’t play the entire season. Is it any wonder he is a bit flakey?
So yes, Johnny Cupcakes, you can go through all the United acquisitions one by one and make out they were okay and made sense at the time unless you dig a little deeper and realize they were not what United needed.
Framing Ten Hag
As many esteemed contributors to mailbox have recently been noting: football is moving well past sports coverage and into entertainment coverage. I blame kids, or the internet or something. Anyway. Narrative is key. These firms shape the narrative, push the narrative, often profit from the narrative through betting and so forth. Let me give you an ETH example, as someone who is happy to be patient with United.
ETH will be given Ole’s squad, a huge warchest of 360m to invest and 2 years later will have lost as many as he’s won. It would be lunacy to consider keeping him.
ETH will be given Ole’s squad, minus Greenwood. He will be able to replace DDG, replace Ronaldo with an unproven 20 year old and sign a winger from his old team. Luke Shaw will miss 90% of matches, and remain the only LB. Oh and get two random loan players in because United are so skint. How do you think he’ll do two years later?
Because both are true. ETH has basically not been able to play the actual football players that more than half of his massive spend was on. Would it work with them? Are they good signings for what he’s trying to achieve? I have no idea. You have no idea. Oh wait, other than Antony, we can all agree he falls into the Pepe/Mudryk type big signing.
ETH is managing, largely, the same first team footballers Ole had, without Ronaldo, Greenwood and DDG. Oh and Sancho, but ETH gets blame there. He isn’t managing a team of footballers that cost 360m to bring in.
So which is true? Only one narrative sells, so which do you think?
…As a football fan, it’s not easy to support your team while also remaining objective on how well they have been playing. Calvinho isn’t wrong to say there is too much media attention on Man Utd and nonsense about firing ETH. But that’s also because we’ve been piss poor this year, which has allowed the pundits to get their say in. We’ve only played well vs Chelsea and Everton this year, Bournemouth was a result that had been coming for a while and we deserved it.
Sure, we’re in front of Newcastle and only 3 points behind Spurs in the table. But performances have been poor and we are lucky to have this many points (winning vs Wolves, Fulham, Brentford for eg). We’ve also been outplayed by Newcastle, City, Spurs and Arsenal and lost more at home than the whole of last season. Watching our games, there’s no semblance of an identity in our game and we struggle to create chances.
(Don’t even compare CL, we were in a group with Copenhagen and Galatasary, not Milan, PSG and Dortmund FFS. And we still ended up with less points than Newcastle)
Sure we’ve had injuries and situations, maybe even more than others. But that shouldn’t excuse the performances we’ve seen. Spurs are still playing the same way despite losing their playmaker and midfield, Villa have maintained their form despite not having 3-4 of last year’s XI. Even we had injury issues (plus this whole takeover business) last season but still did well.
It’s clear we have regressed this season and are not playing well. As fans we can only cheer harder for our club and hope performances will improve. Otherwise, more Bournemouths will be around the corner.
I for one, would really be happy with a 1-0 loss on Sunday, okay fine make it 2-0!
I never thought I would be saying this 15 years ago. Also I’m firmly in the ETH in bracket, due to you know injuries, and also a little bit of meh nowadays. My bro has even stopped bothering, but I do care most of the times, if it’s more than 2-0 at ht then I would head down to the nearest pub and maybe watch something else.
Oh and I think the fact that Liverpool are top of the league and still playing like this is indeed a sign of champions.
God it’s similar to Arsenal
Oh well 🙁
Hank, MUFC Bombay
…Just a couple of thoughts: We haven’t talked about Liverpool being top of the table, because it literally happened a week ago.
Gary Vance, nice response, somewhat redundant as there has never been claim for ‘The Liverpool Way’, Utd have constantly been boring on about their way for eons. Take the piss for ‘This Means More’ by all means, but get the clubs PR Bullshit right.
Liverpool won’t win the league this year, our midfield is laborious in many games (understandable due to them being entirely new this season) and our forwards aren’t purring.
I’m concerned that Utd will get a result on Sun, mainly because they’re due one, we’ve had our way with them at Anfield far too long. Without Bruno (feelings well known, genuinely the shitest captain Utd have ever had) they stand more of a chance. What I will say is, as much as it would hurt, it will give ETH more time, so keep that to your hearts fellow Utd haters.
He needs another Jan window to really screw this squad up for a couple of years.
More emails please from Calvinhos and Vance, there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing Utd fans trying to talk themselves into relevancy (is that even a word?).
Have a great weekend, sports fans.
David (It’s Citehs title, we know that in our heart of hearts) Molby, Shrewsbury.
Of Alisson or Virgil get hurt for real, we’re f*cked. Kelleher’s regression appears terminal. Konaté is a walking sick note, and Gomez is…Gomez.
Scott, LFC, Toronto
Virgil van Dijk alongside Alisson
Following on from Eric, Los Angeles’ post on Friday morning about US vs UK broadcasters, I would like to highlight this new fad for talking about “Match Day 1” or “Match Day 4” etc when referring to previous matches. Where did this come from suddenly? Seems all the broadcasters have adopted it this season. I’ve even heard my beloved 5Live commentators using it in relation to European matches. I can only assume it’s an enforced initiative from UEFA aimed at appealing to a US audience. You know what though, PACK IT IN! I don’t know when match day 1 was, but I do understand that Player X was booked in the away leg or that Player Y scored at home against Whoever.
Stick your Match Day Numbers up your VAR and set them on fire.
I am prepared to die on this hill.
Phil The Hammer – Norway (We were excellent in the first half of Match Day 6 yesterday)
Perhaps I’m in the minority,
Probably ‘the lowest common denominator’ in tv today is what guides decisions but having just read Michael Cox’s utterly clinical dissection of a typically thick pundit – his namesake Owen, surrounding the Brighton game versus O.M. , I am left staggered how England’s TV football shows have almost never put professional sports journalists on panels or next to commentators.
Peter (Brighton & Hove Albion really are sunlight for the soul these days) Andalucia.
Rangers are magic
Just wanted to write in to say what a great result for Rangers against Real Betis last night in the same city we suffered the heat break in Seville 19 months ago in the Europa league final.
Betis hadn’t lost at home all season and drew with Real Madrid at the weekend.
Rangers had many players missing but pulled off their first ever away win against a Spanish team ,once again carrying the Co efficient for Scottish teams.
A favourable draw could see another deep run. Was great you guys at F365 highlighted our new manager Philipe Clemant, he’s doing a tremendous job after inheriting a shambles that was left by Michael Beale.
We now have a cup final on Sunday. Yeah I know most will be watching the match at Anfield but if we win the cup which is no given considering how Aberdeen always play out of their skins against us we will have real momentum to reign Celtic I’m.
Also really enjoyed Will Ford’s piece on Billy Gilmour. Its great to sew him playing so well and looking like the player who bossed the midfield for Scotland against England at the Euros at Wembley couple of years back.
Although Will his boyhood club was Rangers!
Thanks to all you guys and ladies at F365 for keeping this the best football site which I enjoy every day. Also want to send Johnny Nic my best wishes to him for a full recovery , being a survivor of stage 3 cancer I know how important health is so good luck mate.
And all the best to my fellow readers for Xmas and let’s all hope there’s some cracking football to be enjoyed over the festive period.
Can I just point out how criminal the lack of attention given to Aberdeen for their astonishing victory last night against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Given the difference in scale, this is equivalent to West Brom beating Real Madrid.
I’m not even a dirty Aberdeen fan (I really despise them), but this is a major achievement.
Arteta’s a hoot
I love how funny football is.
I’ve literally just picked myself off the floor, tears of laughter still in my eyes.
Mikel Arteta’s defence to the FA charge was that he didn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘disgrace ‘ – after years living in the English football ecosystem!
And to finish by saying, ‘ good process ‘.
Ha ha ho, omg, I’m off again!
Sheer beautiful genius. Love it.
Hartley MCFC Somerset (on Liverpool being a historically high mid club – do you know they didn’t win a cup until 1965?)