Keep those lovely mails coming in to email@example.com…
Twist, of course…
The answer to Will Ford’s article is very obviously ‘twist’, as a Manchester United starting lineup has no business containing two defensive midfielders. Against anyone. Scott and Fred are neat and tidy, but neat and tidy wins nothing important. This functionality has affected other areas of the team, seeing Pogba play as left wing forward when he should be picking out runs from deep, and Rashford being completely ineffective out on the right. Get a proper defensive midfielder, and the joys of a Jorginho-Kante-like midfielder combo could be ours. Which brings me unto which positions should be transfer priorities for United this coming summer. Here goes, in order of importance:
Right wing forward – here’s the only position in which we have absolutely no natural, which is a real travesty. For comparison, Chelsea have 3. Daniel James is incapable of anything but headlessly running very fast. Greenwood is a centre forward. Rashford is a left wing forward. Pogba is a midfielder. I say, pay whatever is required for Sancho ffs.
Defensive midfielder – For a top team, one is usually enough. Two is an admission of weakness, and an invitation to the opposition to cum onto you. If Ndidi is unattainable, there’s a certain bloke up at the Amex. Scott + Fred in one human body. 35 million. No brainer.
Central defender – Lindelof is a decent footballer, but aerially and physically weak. Maguire is, well, an oil tanker. Bailly is very prone to costly brainfarts. There are noises around Pau Torres. Here’s hoping he’s a better player than the last centre back we signed from villareal.
A centre forward is not needed for now, in my opinion. Cavani, Martial and Greenwood as options should be sufficient for next season. Committing scarce resources to this venture at this point would be like signing a Mata when you already have a Rooney and a Kagawa in the team. Or signing Sanchez when Rashford and Martial are present. If Cavani leaves, teach Greenwood how to head a football and stick him up there.
Olu Omoloso, Lagos (I’m in love with this Chelsea team, and the Jorginho-Kante axis is why. They’re a joy).
Man City vs Chelsea…
Pretty interesting to compare the mailbox’s reactions to Man City reaching the Champions League final – which brought venom and vitriol – and Chelsea achieving the same the following day which was greeted with a polite golf clap. I get that everyone has anger towards City because of the investment of the owner – you all shouted about it in your angry emails. But if you’re angry at City for this, then surely you must also be angry at Chelsea too??
If you actually look at the amount of money which each club has received from their owners over the past 5 years. It shows that Chelsea have received £440m of direct owner investment (the most in the league) compared to Man City at £142m (6th between Brighton and Wolves). And before anyone says ‘yes well that’s what City officially declare but they use “sponsorship deals” as a way to funnel in extra cash’, that was literally the point of the CAS investigation which found that “Manchester City FC did not disguise equity funding as sponsorship contributions”.
There seems to be a weird hypocrisy whereby City are the lightning rod for owner spending, even though Chelsea are worse “offenders”. Btw I have no problem with Chelsea’s spending personally, I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of the situation. I guess part of this is tall poppy syndrome, and part of it is recency bias. But I think a large part is due to conflating the much higher spending in the early years of City’s current ownership which was required for City to bridge the gap from mid-table to consistently challenging for the title. But that gap was bridged long ago. Now City are less reliant on owner spending, and are now benefiting from the inherent inequalities in football which keep those at the top in the money, and therefore maintains their status at the top. I think that’s what’s referred to as “earning it”?
In conclusion: City have become everything we always hated, but it’s better to be inside the tent pissing outwards. Meanwhile, the mailbox needs to update its opinions to reflect what’s actually happened in the last 5 years. I bet you’re all still dead excited about this hot new prospect called Jordan Ibe…
Glazers are not the only ones
So Rob, London thinks: “No-one else’s owners take money out of their clubs and override their managers’ choices” – really?
You not been watching Newcastle then? Or Blackpool? or Blackburn Rovers? this sort of shit is not just confined to the PL you know, or Leeds under Ken Bates? who famously boasted that he’d not put a penny of his own into the club – paraphrasing but it’s close enough.
Do you really think that all the other 91 clubs are owned by people who don’t take money out and don’t have some overall say in what goes on? Not all of them will have this issue but most will. No idea how long you’ve been watching football but the team I support went through a stage where the chairman (the ownership of the club always seems to have been a bit opaque at the time) allowed the manager to send the club into a debt of £100m+ and ultimately League 1 by letting the manager spend what he wanted.
What you seem to be saying is that you want the club to be run by an Abramovich type who is happy just to chuck money in and not expect it back – except of course without interfering in who gets bought and sold…Unfortunately football is where it is – we can’t undo the Premier League, which let’s face it was pushed for by your club amongst others in order to increase revenue.
The genie was let out of the bottle years back and the globalisation of clubs such as yours, Barcelona, Real Madrid etc has meant that more extremely rich people see owning a top club as being a way to get extremely richer. If there were to be a buy out of the Glazers, who in the world could stump up the cash? Bill Gates? (maybe not if the divorce is costly) that lovely man of the people Bezos? (you could watch all the games on Amazon for a fee I’m sure). A Chinese or Russian multi billionaire we’ve not heard of? Anyone who comes in now will buy the club in exactly the same way as the Glazers – none of these people will spend their own money it’ll be done through a financing deal loading the debt back on to the club – these are business deals done by business people it’s how the world operates. I suppose you could always get a rich regime to buy the Glazers out – be interesting to see your feeling towards the blue part of the city then. Even Abramovich would probably do the same at Chelsea these days – back when he bought the club I believe he paid £80m – you can’t even get a slow moving centre half for that these days.
The Glazers Part II
How dare those businessmen run this multimillion pound sports corporation like a business!
Don’t they know united? This is a non profit organization created solely for the joy of fans!
The history of united has always been charitable non profit individuals who funded the club out of their own pocket. Great bastions of charity like the great Saint Magnier who simply used his racehorse millions to fund our great club to victory never once removing a single pound from the club coffers! Or like pope John Henry Davies who would never dream of picking the club up on the cheap, changing the name, colours to market the club to bigger crowds!
These glazers aren’t fit to lick the boots of such great men!
As ye sow….
To all those complaining, whining or protesting about the Glazers, remember this; Manchester United have always been at the vanguard of the the crass commercialisation of football: as ye sow, so shall ye reap.
Congratulations to the Posh on a glorious promotion; hopefully they’ll stay up this time. I fully expect an exodus of attacking talent however – Clarke-Harris, Szmodics and Dembelé will probably be in demand.
Finally – I play in a farmers league in France. It is tough. These people spend their days moving bales of hay, cows and machinery. I ran into the local miller on the pitch once; I went flying, he never moved. It was like running into a lump of teak.
These players are country strong and could tear you limb from limb without breaking sweat. Built like an outside privy, the majority of them!
Manchester United is for the people of Manchester
Re Tim, London’s e-mail today he makes a good point regarding the distinction between fans and supporters. However, I think it’s geography that is the key split and at the risk of sounding like a brexiteer I think it’s us (the UK) and them e(veryone else). Part of my whole issue with the Super League is that it’s set up to appeal to the global fan. However, these are our football clubs. They are based in England, they are English football clubs and for foreign owners to buy them, then choose to take them out of English competitions (because that would happen and they know it would) seems wrong. Manchester United is for the people of Manchester (and London chortle) not the people of Tokyo or Berlin.
Now I know the inevitable response to this understandably will be that it’s no different to a business being bought and most of the manufacture taken abroad, but for me Sport still isn’t a business. Yes it is in some ways, but it’s more than that, it’s a cultural thing, it’s vital to the well being of the nation in many ways and that’s why it needs special protection and intervention.
My final issue I have is that by appealing to the global fans the Super League clubs seem to think that they can monetise all the foreign fans into paying for shirts and TV rights. I would suggest that the quantity of illegal streams and knock off football kits available worldwide will not suddenly disappear and everyone will start paying top dollar for this new product. Also, the number of twitter users who seem to follow one footballer from one club and a team from another makes me seriously doubtful that anyone would want to follow Arsenal after a few years of them being bottom. Global fans won’t follow one club, or at least a significant number won’t. Give it 10 years it’d become a Top 10 League only for that reason as they all desert Arsenal or Spurs.
I understand that it is tempting, and fun, to hypothesize and imagine a world not run by “The Capitalists”, as Prabashni put it in this morning’s mailbox. In French, there is an expression for that, “refair le monde”, which literally translates to ‘remake the world’, but more accurately means discussing the world’s problems at length (usually “atour d’un verre”, ie. ‘while enjoying a glass of wine’).
Sometimes it is clear that football fans/journalists, both on F365 and elsewhere, are doing just this. It’s a thought experiment/interesting topic of conversation. Other times it seems like football fans/journalists are trying to have a pragmatic conversation about what can actually be realistically done – in the real world – to make football better, or less worse, depending on how you look at it. It’s great to have imagination to conceive of a better world, but it’s also valuable to have a realistic perspective on what can and cannot be done to change things, how likely or unlikely they are to work, what the consequences of these changes would be.
Following the ESL debacle, and amidst the pandemic, there is a genuine opportunity for football to undergo relatively major change. But that doesn’t mean that any pipedream wish that delusional fantasists (cough John Nicholson) can come true. If anything, the more unrealistic fans and journalists are with their proposals and suggestions, the less seriously they will be taken by government and football owners. They will be dismissed as unrealistic, because they are being unrealistic. This is why I believe it is important to be clear on whether one is making serious suggestions for What Should Be Done Next, or whether one is saying “If I were King Of Football/The World, I Would Do X”. Both are valid things to write about, just helps to be clear which is which. I don’t think John Nicholson has been doing a good job with this, because he comes across (to me, at least) as making utterly-unrealistic-yet-totally-serious suggestions.
Specifically on football ownership, I believe the argument yesterday afternoon is that the Glazers are not the worst possible owners of a football club (because the worst football club owners drive their clubs into financial ruin/bankruptcy and relegation(s)). I don’t think this is a particularly valid argument, but only because the percentage of football club owners worse than the Glazers is pretty low, so I’d make the likelihood of new owners being ‘better’ than the Glazers pretty high. But that is a pragmatic way of looking at it, rather than angrily ranting about Evil Capitalists and how tHe cLuB BeLoNgS To ThE fAnS!!!1!1!1!
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva, Switzerland
Save the Pyramid
Seems like I have ruffled a few feathers in the comments section with some comments about the constant “Save the Pyramid” message in articles on F365.
While I agree it was great, I think a serious discussion around cutting the number of teams and divisions really needs to be had.
While it would be great to go back in time, sport moves forwards. Football is no different.
The players and clubs at the top keep taking up more and more of the TV space, the revenue, the media columns, the revenue from video game licensing etc.
How many articles appear on this site on League One and League Two? Hardly any – and like any online business I am sure this relates to the number of clicks or views a page gets when published. There is just no mass interest in it.
Statista.com tells me the average attendance in Football League Two for the last 10 years is under 5000. Checking figures for the season 18/19, only six of the 24 sides could average attendance over 5k.
In League One, only six could average over 10k, and the league average was dragged up by Sunderland’s attendance figures.
Quick googling shows a club like Fleetwood Town losing 6 million in 18/19. Their revenue averaged just under 6 million in the years 2018 and 2019.
How is that sustainable, with the costs of travel, security, players etc? That is barely a signing on fee for some Premier League clubs – yet the club is expected to finance all of their annual activities from it on effectively a small business revenue.
Common sense would say to split the game into something like three divisions, with 18, 22 and 24 teams. 64 teams in total, each lower division with more teams to increase the number of games and hopefully revenue from attendances.
It also allows for the inevitable increase of matches demanded by UEFA and FIFA over time in the top league.
The next divisions down would probably make sense to split into regions (two or four) to cut down on costs. The steps up would remain with promotion and relegation, but effectively would become Non-League Football.
The old Pyramid unfortunately is stuck in the romantic era, like three month Test Cricket Tours with rest days, the FA Cup actually meaning something and top level footballers running pubs after retiring to earn a crust.
To answer the rest of the questions. Yes, I know the atmosphere is great. Yes, I have been to lower league matches. Yes, I know clubs used to be part of the community and offer a pathway for young players to start in professional football. Unfortunately those days are gone.
Luke (to much time on me hands) Dublin, my heart broke as I read your description of the scene chez
Bambi Lampard. And then I realised, as Frank probably did just a little too late, that it’s a bank holiday week and so the bins didn’t need to go out until Thursday night. Poor Frank – arriving at the job too early, yet again.
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames
Scottish Phil Neville?
Did anyone else go straight to number 50 in the Scotland Euro ladder to see who the Scottish version of Phil Neville would be?
So was I the only one who scrolled down to the bottom to see if Phil McNeville was ranked number 50?
Stu-LFC (anything but the Europa Conference League)