This clusterf*ck of a season will only get worse if Mislintat leaves

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Mislintat was the one bright hope
If Sven Mislintat leaves, Arsenal are screwed.

Going into this season, we faced two possible scenarios – getting back into the top 4 or slipping into mid-table mediocrity. We now face the latter option.

The club is skint. I don’t know given the ticket prices but we now know we can only sign players on loan.

Given those financial constraints, you face two options – sign big names, whose best days are behind them with little sell on value in the hope they’ve got one season left in them to propel you back into the top four, or bank on signing young players with great potential that can help get us moving in the right direction.

Before his long lay off, Mavrapanos looked very promising, while Torriera and Guendozi have also had bright starts though may have been overplayed. Apparently this trio was the work of Sven. It’s these kinds of signings we need to make given our current predicament over the shortermism of signings like Lichtsteiner aimed at plugging a here and now hole.

Sven was the one bright hope in what is proving a clusterf*ck of a season.

I sincerely hope Arsenal have a rethink.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Versatility of footballers
To the Editor

Straying away from common topics, Trent Alexander Arnold’s injury got me wondering about a quirk of versatility of footballers.

How is it that there are so many instances of right-footed players playing at Left-Back, albeit temporarily, but not a lot come to mind when thinking of left-footed players filling in at Right-Back. Whereas on one hand, we have had Milner, Clyne, Glen Johnson, Ashley Young, Cesar Azpilicueta, Danilo, Jon Flanagan, etc and the list goes on, on the other hand, all that comes to my mind is Gael Clichy. I am pretty confident Andy Robertson would definitely do a great job if filling in as an emergency RB, and Moreno can play at LB for Liverpool now.

It doesn’t just apply to RB. Not too many left-footed centre backs come to mind playing on the right of the centre. However, again, many right-footed ones play on the left.

I was wondering if there are better examples that come to mind, whilst also an explanation why this is driven this way. If we can have inverted wingers and forwards in plenty, why not at right back?
Airit, Warsaw, (grinning at the responses to Alberto Moreno at RB), LFC


Irreplaceable XI
Love Jonno Schmonno’s idea of a priceless or irreplaceable XI. Here’s my crack at an XI of players who did prove virtually irreplaceable when the time came (and one that obviously will):

4-3-3: P. Schmeichel; Cafu, Stam, Hierro, Maldini; Makelele, Vieira, Xavi; C. Ronaldo, Ronaldo, Messi.
Alistair Gilmour (Solskjaer In), Glasgow


In response to Jonno McSchmonno priceless 11, I too had this thought around this time last year. My submission from my team Arsenal would have been a certain ‘Mesut Ozil’, as he has been by far the most mecurial and exciting player that I’ve seen at the Emirates over the past 10 years.

A year on, it’s good to see proof of the ‘writing your own cheque’ technique to be an effective method in modern day footballing performance.
Henry (Chill, it’s a blip, AFC) Innes


Jonno McSchmonno was wondering who might be irreplaceable, but I think he’s missed the mark a bit. Being irreplaceable isn’t just about being the best at what you do, it’s about who you are, where you are, who your potential replacements might be, and a host of other factors. With that in mind, here’s my PL Irreplaceable XI.

GK: David de Gea. Enough has been said about him already, you all know the reasons.

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka. First off, his replacement in the Palace squad is Joel Ward. That should be enough on its own, but he’s also a homegrown talent who burst into the first team out of nowhere and looks like he has no ceiling to his potential. Who could Palace get in if he left? Nobody half as good, most likely.

CB: Virgil Van Dijk. For all of Jonno’s reasons this morning. The man is a titan walking among mortals.

CB: Phil Jones. Because God help us all of there’s ever another of him. (I couldn’t think of another real choice.)

LB: Andy Robertson. Tough choice here, no stand out candidates, but the intensity and energy he has brought to Liverpool was what set the tone for their remarkable run to the CL final last year. There may be better options out there, but we all know how much Liverpool love a cult hero.

CM: N’golo Kante. Humble, brilliant, almost unique. As a player, a person, a role model, an employee, Kante is special.

CM: David Silva. There are other creative players, sure. There are bigger, stronger midfielders. There are other players equally as beloved of their clubs and fans. But are there others with all of those? I’m not so sure.

AM: Christian Eriksen. The man is a phenomenal creative force for Spurs, and given the financial constraints under which the club is operating, replacing Eriksen would require unearthing another diamond in the rough. And even then it’d probably cost £40m or more. Maybe not totally irreplaceable, but damn close.

LW: Wilfried Zaha. As with Wan-Bissaka, who could Palace get in to operate at that level? Plus homegrown status, club legend, their abysmal win record without him… May as well just name him Chairman.

CF: Harry Kane. He’s one of our own. No Dybala or Alcacer will ever top that. Even if he wasn’t possibly the best striker in the world, he’d still be irreplaceable.

RW: Riyadh Mahrez. Irreplaceable for Leicester, that is. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think Rachid Ghezzal is ever going to fire Leicester to another title.
Harry, THFC (imagine a team of Phil Jones)


Jonno McSchmonno, City do and will miss Fernandinho when he leaves/retires. Immense.
Jon (Kane must stay, although Eriksen is my other shout as a must stay), Lincoln


Not necessarily the XI most priceless players in world football, but those who I would argue are irreplaceable for their respective clubs. So…:

David De Gea

Hector Bellerin

Virgil Van Dijk

Harry Maguire

Ryan Sessegnon

Aaron Mooy


Ruben Neves

Wilf Zaha

Harry Kane

Felipe Anderson
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite



United way? The Busby way
Hello,I am a bit late to the conversation probably. I was busy.

We usually make a wrong correlation between philosophies and playing styles. Playing styles are more grounded to situations and tactics. Philosophies are based more on values or how a coach visions a way of approaching how football should be played. Should it be aggressive or dominating or safe etc.

So aggressive sides can be counter-attacking but also can a reactive/defensive side too. No philosophy is better than the other its how you put those methods to practice that the differences usually arise. In some sense, a club does have a way of playing football but not a style of play. For man utd its about being aggressive and relentless. Ferguson in my opinion when appointing moyes thought Moyes would build a stable squad of his vision of how the man utd should play. One can probably say his situation was like mourinho’s as he couldn’t make the most out of what was given. I still think that 13-14 squad was strong enough to contend for a european position but moyeseyball was not something the entire squad actually were on board with. The squad was brought upon a different mentality, which asked for more adventure in games and less worrying about pragmatic concerns. That’s why after ferguson left, with his coaching staff too, the philosophy became a relic, probably to found in the fans, the academy and other scouting processes (Shout out to the women’s team, they are really aggresive when they play). That’s what Gary Neville was trying to say. A united team likes to take risks as a priority, to be adventurous and it may come in varied playing styles. So Gary, in my opinion was right. He was merely echoing what Ancelloti said when he was to be appointed the Bayern Munich manager that United had lost their identity.

It is embedded in the tradition and it is within every united fan since the busby years. It is within the academy and also the successful graduates. It is in the expectations from the club. Look at what happened to moyes. He became unfavourable because of his dire crossing football, looking to keep it safe. Look at what happened to van gaal and mourinho. Conclusively, it feeds into the players as well. They expect to play with a different set of attitude and ideas from what the manager espouses. The standards of the club once set by matt busby were brought back to life by ferguson, where under him the success is so enormous, the ‘environment’ where football thrives is already established. Being in a stable environment is crucial to any footballing side and that is exactly what moyes, van gaal and mourinho couldn’t create based on their philosophies. Mourinho was close to doing that but he didn’t make the most out of his own buys. It is being done by pep, klopp and poch at their respective clubs.

So this ‘environment’ is what is crucial to any football club. To bring in Moyes, van Gaal and Mourinho was meant to change almost everything that stood about united (i hope we get the white shorts back for the home kit. Absoutely disgusting and anger inducing choice this season ) even the philosophy. To change something so drastically which is embedded within the club is an impossible task. Mourinho’s sacking is the result of that as he was actually trying to bring in players on short term basis and not long term as the board expected (although the board itself is at fault for not getting the right candidates. Bad recruitment policy. Why would they give mourinho an extended contract when he couldn’t adapt to a different philosophy?). That’s why Ole was brought in. There is no doubt it was a decision made from the interests of Sir Alex, who himself unearthed the treasures of the busby way.

So finally, the point is that a footballing philosophy is rather traditional and based in values, deeply held ones in the form of identity and that helps build an environment around the club and when every structure echoes those values then it becomes a stable environment. Ole and co are trying to build that, the united way of course.


Love for Barry
Absolutely loved the references to Barry Sanders in Seb’s article. Being a big Lions fan along with Fulham (I’m a glutton for sporting punishment) I’ll take any opportunity to fire up a highlights video of the great man.

Sad to see that years of pretty much single-handedly carrying the Lions combined with the ineptitude of the Lions Front Office to build any real sort of competitive team around him, contributed to his decision to retire early and deny fans the pleasure of seeing him play. However, as Seb states it was a resignation handled with grace, very much reflecting his humble on-field attitude and he remains a hugely popular figure amongst all NFL fans.

Unfortunately, to make matters worse the Lions  went and basically repeated the same mistake leading to the early retirement of all-time Top 10 Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson just a few of seasons back.

There’s no real point to this mail as it’s not NFL365 (oh I wish there was such a thing) but if anyone with any vague sporting interest has a few minutes to kill, it’s worth typing Barry Sanders highlights into Youtube to witness probably the most electrifying running back to ever feature in the NFL.
Adam, FFC (missing the Champo)


Moyes came in and right off the bat looked clueless
TX Bill, EFC, let me further explain my thinking. Moyes is a competent manager for a midtable club. He plays a defensive style and his claim to fame was an ability to find gems at very low costs at Everton and keeping them safely at midtable without ever threatening to challenge to big boys. Even at Everton he has never won a cup competition. What he wasn’t suited for, was a top team expecting to compete and win things.

I doubt any realistic United fan assumed we would win the title the year after SAF retired. Even the diehards expected that there would be a drop off when we were losing what many of us consider the greatest manager in footballing history (yes we are biased). The new manager would install a new philosophy get in new players and rejuvenated what was an oldish team on its last legs, so people were expecting a drop off and most fans would be fine with a top 4 finish, good new signings and the signs of any competent modern day playing system and some progress over the season.

What happened was Moyes came in and right off the bat looked clueless. Every week during the offseason we read about Ronaldo, Bale and other unattainable signings, while we waited for other more essential signings (like in defense and midfield). Eventually all he did was overpay for his large Everton oaf in Fellaini, who no United fan wanted. (Woodward may very well take a chunk of the blame here as well). To me he resembled someone who was told about the cheat codes in fantasy manager and hence loading his transfer list with dream signings waiting on the cheats, rather than chasing realistic signing. And off course the cherry on the top was him asking Rio and Vidic to watch Jagielka videos (yup that happened).

Basically ask any fan of the top 6 team, whether any of them would want Moyes at their club and I am sure you wouldn’t find a single fan who would want him and that tells you all you need to know about Moyes being totally incompetent at United.
Jarron, MUFC


Not just Ole vs Poch
As someone who briefly met, and praised, Ed Woodward not long after the Schneiderlin/Schweinsteiger summer transfer window, I’ve always felt partially responsible for his subsequent egotism and hoarding of transfer power. So in hopes that he still values my opinion, and reads the mailbox of course, I’d like to point out to Ed that he’s not just currently deliberating on what manager to bring in. He’s deliberating on the installation of pretty much an entirely new first team staff.

Poch, if indeed it’s him, will quite reasonably want to bring his trusted guys with him. As would almost any other manager Woodward may be considering. With the possible exception of the incumbent that is. I can’t be the only one who has rejoiced at the sight of Mike Phelan’s knees appearing once again to signify eight more weeks of winter. Or to see the genuine joy emanating from those Solskjaer/Carrick/McKenna/That Other Guy huddles when we score. A manager other than Solskjaer almost certainly means no more blossoming bromance on the sidelines. And more seriously it means losing the enormous experience of Phelan and the youthful promise of next generation coaches Carrick and McKenna. And whatever the other guy does. Fitness?

Pochettino is, rightfully, the overwhelming favourite right now. But given Solskjaer and Co.’s start, and the not inconsiderable time and expense involved in extracting so much talent from Daniel Levy’s vice-like grip, the idea of keeping faith with the current status quo must surely be gaining traction in the United boardroom. Given such a move would save United 50-70% of Koulibaly’s projected fee, I imagine it’s not been dismissed at the very least. Maybe the recent trend of progressive, timely decisions from United’s Board can extend to appointing a DoF and then allowing the current staff to continue their good work under him. I’m warming to the idea week by week.
Adam MUFC (Ok, i looked it up and it’s Emilio Alvarez, the GK coach, so he can definitely stay!)


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