The Mailbox reacts to ‘completely f*cked’ Liverpool, the return of Man Utd, Mudryk to Chelsea and more…

Liverpool players look distraught Credit: Alamy
Liverpool players look distraught Credit: Alamy

Man Utd are starting to play like the real Man Utd again, Jurgen Klopp doesn’t know how to solve Liverpool’s problems, Mudryk chooses Chelsea over Arsenal and much more…

Get your views in to theeditor@football365.com

 

What a win for Man Utd
A few observations from the match.

  • Wan Bissaka was quite solid and did decent going forward. He dummied the city players on a couple of occasions at least. Of course, there are many reasons why the team spirit is strong right now. You can see it rubbing it off on the whole squad. He’s been gaining in confidence and performance standards. Great to see competition. I was really worried we’ll miss Dalot knowing that Shaw is playing centre back.

  • Casemiro misplaced a few passes, and I felt that the game was a bit fast for him sometimes. He was better in the second half and what an interception to prevent Haaland from scoring. Good experience for him to play games vs the likes of City, Liverpool, Arsenal, etc as those played at a very high tempo in the premier league.

  • What an impact from Jamie Taart. Ummm I mean Garnacho. I love that he is also resilient with all the talent he’s blessed with. Working under Ten Hag from such a young age will be great for his career.

  • Bruno and Rashford – great leadership and drive shown by the whole team but esp these two.

  • How many times did we see City players go down on the slightest push or a strong tackle. They were desperate.

  • Wishful thinking but I would love it if Haaland fades away like an old denim (ala Jose Antonio Reyes – RIP) and Rashford goes on to achieve great things (aka Ronaldo). Haaland is too talented though I know.

  • KDB is still the soul of the city team. He might still be carrying Belgiums energy into the season. I know Lukaku is.
    I don’t know the rules but surely Rashford made an impact for Bruno’s goal from an offside position. It shouldn’t have stood but I’ll take it. Don’t these things balance out in the end anyway? But the momentum this win could bring would be invaluable.

We shouldn’t be thinking about the title right now. The squad is thin and we’re a couple of injuries away from being down to bare bones. One game at a time. That has to be the way and it was impressive to see Bruno emphasize on that and not getting carried away. There’s just been many bad years to take a run of 15-20 games and say we’re back. Another step in the right direction though and Ten Hag looks like exactly the coach we needed.

Pep’s substitution sparked the game into life and Ten Hags settled it. Great battle between the greatest coach (currently) and a coach potentially on his way to greatness.
Ruben, MUFC (Canada)

 

Well, what can I say, that was the first time in a long time United actually felt like United and backed it up with a win after falling behind in a big rival game. I would say the first time since the start of the 2017-18 season, in Mourinho’s 2nd season at the club, where United weren’t exactly directly challenging for the title (Given City were scary good that year and got 100 points that season) actually look like that kind of team again as a comfortable Top 3-4 Premier League team & potentially the next best thing in the league. Its a young team full of energy as well, but players like Varane & Casemiro are 29 & 30 years old respectively, something to be mindful of.

Yes, there was a BIG element of luck when the equalizer went in for 1-1, even I thought ‘Yep that looks pretty offside’, but I initially thought in real life that Rashford already touched the ball. However, even in the Fergie days, United did get a stroke of luck now and then in some big games (E.g., Owen winner against City in 2009, John O’shea winner at Anfield in the last minute in 2007 & winning a penalty against Spurs in 2009 in the 5-2 that kickstarted a crazy comeback). There are probably a few more in there but have to make your own luck sometimes. I have sympathy in that regard for City, as it seemed to shock them when the Referee counted the goal, but if Fernandes did shout to Rashford to leave it, then good communication & intelligence for Rashford to leave it. However, and truthfully, Football rules have been a bit messed up since VAR was introduced back in 2018.

I do think United at least deserved a result from the way they played & worked overall as a unit, as they were the 100% better team in the 1st half and Rashford should have scored when he managed to run past Ederson. I don’t have much sympathy for City regarding the 2nd goal they let in though, it was bollocks defending and they just switched off after Garnacho turned Ake with ease. Ake & Akanji are clearly the weak links in that team from what I can see. If Dias & Stones were starting together fully fit in this match, City would have probably won that game 1 or 2 nil.

Let’s just all remember this is Pep & City we are talking about here. They have won the title 4 times in the last 5 full seasons in the Premier League from 2017 – 2022 and did so incredibly comfortably on two occasions (2018 & 2021). It’s only January and they will hit proper form from February/March onwards. However, one thing I noticed in some of the City games this season was their lack of energy & creativity they have in some passage of plays. I personally think Foden is one of the most overrated players around, can be so average at times, Sane was miles better than him at City if you ask me. Grealish has his moments, but not consistent enough due to being a wasteman. And not too sure what has happened to Bernardo Silva, as he just doesn’t look interested anymore! I think after this game, Pep will want City to definitely go after Top winger in the summer such as Leao, Chiesa or Gnabry.

Just wanted to give a big shoutout to the team, especially players like Rashford, Fernandes, Shaw, Varane & Casemiro, they are proving to be the real spine & glue of the team and can easily be captain of the team. I have judged Shaw a couple of times in the last 2-3 seasons, but he looks like a proper defender & player now. But the biggest shout out has got to go to Ten Haag, what a bloody turnaround after the first two competitive games of the season. Looked so poor against Brighton and could have lost 7-0 against Brentford back in August. Given City beat United 6-3 just over 3 months ago and looked miles off of them, it’s a remarkable turnaround and has tactically transformed the team but given so many players confidence as well. United are improving game by game and have been especially great after the World Cup. There will be some blips/difficult situations for the reason of the season though, so time will tell how the manager & team deal with it.

I can’t believe I am saying this given I am a huge Ronaldo fan, but it seems like he truly was a big big part of the problem for the squad since re-joining the club. Ronaldo himself now knows it was a mistake coming back re-signing for United, but the club is just as much to blame and didn’t handle it well enough and treated his signing like a Fairy Tale. If he was 31 years old when the club re-signed him, then yes make him the main striker without doubt, but he was 36 years old, and his former teammate (Manager under Ferguson) was the manager of the team. Too much living in the past, It was a shipwreck in that sense and screwed over the team morale & drive. Pogba was also a huge problem as well and another marketing asset, but thankfully was out of contract in the summer. Unlike Ronaldo, who was a serial winner with 30+ trophies to his name and scored 30+ goals per season for last 15 years in a variety of different ways, I really don’t understand what Pogba offered in most games during the 6 years at United from 2016-2022 apart from some decent pointless skill & Hollywood passes. The past is in the past, but I fucking despised Pogba, he was just a toxic, manipulative shrew who never showed up in big games. I cannot recall a time when he was actually good in a big game (Apart from the 3-2 win against City in April 2018). Truthfully In 20 games, Casemiro has already done more than him as a team player.

Ten Haag didn’t have time to manage a high maintenance person like Ronaldo and won the mental battle in the end and simply got rid of him in to benefit himself & the team. He made sure he was always on control and was in a position where he knew he could bench him and get his own way. As mentioned in my previous article that was published, United should keep it simple in terms of objectives. Make the Top 4 in the League & a winning a domestic cup is the realistic priority this season, but who knows what can happen in terms of momentum if United can beat Palace & Arsenal in the next couple of league games…
Rami, Manchester (Also massive lol at Liverpool, Klopp should leave and go manage Germany)

 

Firstly, what a great win for utd, went toe-to-toe with City and deservedly came out on top.

I must admit, I don’t agree with the offside rule for the Fernandes goal. Maybe by the letter of the law it was just about a goal but for me, if an attacker is running on to the ball, even if he doesn’t touch it, he has to be interfering with play. Had Rashford stopped several yards before then it would be fair enough in my book.

Enough about that though. On the balance, utd should have gone in at half time ahead and ultimately won through wanting it more and creating the better chances by some distance over the 90 mins. City are still an amazing team and the benchmark but they just seem to have lost their hunger. It’s as if they just expect to win regardless of what their opponents do and I’m not sure that type of arrogance will be easy to shake.

Garnacho has a really bright future ahead of him. He’s the type of player utd managers of the past would have ruined but he’s at the right place now. Would be great to have Sancho back so Garnacho doesn’t get over used.

Also, the media seems surprisingly quiet about what it means for Maguire when Shaw is preferred. Both Maguire and Lindelof available but Shaw gets the nod. Well done to Shaw for looking good in the centre of defence though. Now with Varane and Martinez available Shaw should move back to.his normal role. Maybe E10H is the type of manager that would be able to either convince the board to cut their losses on Maguire or somehow manage to get a decent transfer fee for him.

I’m also pleased to see AWB and the new AWB on the other side both had good games. Utd have a squad with cover in most areas of the pitch, hopefully making summer transfer activity less desperate and more targeted than years gone by.

The only negative is for utd to now be a point off City. in reality it’s a big positive but I’m not looking forward to the media talking us up about being title contenders when clearly we aren’t. Going in the right direction for sure, may well have a shot at one of the cups this year and small improvements to the squad could put us in the conversation for next year. Top 4 in the league still the goal though. At this level, small improvements are very difficult but momentum is massive.

This is not the first time utd have momentum and feel good factor post Fergie but it’s the first time it’s combined with a squad that looks pretty decent compared to anyone in the league and a manager who seems to be able to man manage, coach, say the right things and pick the right tactics.

This utd is unrecognisable from not long ago, even from the first couple of games of the season.
Jon, Cape Town

 

Can anyone tell me why Haaland wasn’t playing in the Utd-City game today?

What? Oh.

I was watching the United – City game in a gym in the southish of the country and when the winner was scored I believe everyone there who was also watching celebrated to a greater or lesser degree, including myself.

I really don’t think City are supported by anyone, which makes their figures released last week showing they generate the most revenue from their fans of any club in the world a real mystifying mysterious mystery. I expect they sold three shirts in Dubai for £100 million each, completely fairly.

I mentioned this in the comments and was told there are plenty of City fans in Manchester, so I went and had a quick look for tickets at the Etihad for City – Tottenham this Thursday. There are tickets available in three quarters of the stadium for a top 6 game in four days time.

The City fans must all be busy that day.

I’m very glad that United look like becoming a side to fear and hate again, because Arsenal, Liverpool and United fighting it out to be actual deserving champions is so much better for the league than City and Newcastle fighting it out to be the best cheat bloodmoney club in the land.
Tim Sutton (Mitro hattrick against Newcastle come on)

 

Massive win for United.

Closest to Fergie’s United in a long time. Even getting the decisions – cause he was defo interfering with play. But that’s the luck you get when on a roll.
Paul

 

I don’t think that either Akanji or Ederson would have gotten to that ball before Bruno even if Rashford didn’t make that run and that’s what made the referee give that decision but I am not here to talk about them.

Manchester City have got serious issues and it seems Guardiola is overlooking them. Most obvious one is their over reliance on Erling Haaland. He is a brilliant striker but they most certainly are arguably the most predictable side in the Epl right now. All they do is “pass to Haaland” which has worked so far but one thing about this lovely league is that they find you out and teams have certainly gotten the code to stopping Haaland – Suffocate him and try as much as possible to stop Manchester City from creating.

Brentford, Southampton and Liverpool have used this tactics to get good results against them and other good teams will copy them. I think it’s time he drops or limits Haaland’s playing time, they are very unpredictable with Alvarez leading the line. When Alvarez plays, the De Bruyne’s, Bernado’s, Foden’s see others and pass to whoever is best positioned. There were many opportunities for De Bruyne and the rest to shoot or find another player but it just had to be Haaland.

Manchester United were brilliant tho. Sticked to their tactics and got something from it, they don’t have the firepower to go toe to toe against City – only Arsenal can do that currently. Everyone did their job and they look like a team now.

PS: Liverpool were horrendous against Brighton, it was as if Manchester City were playing Norwich. Mitoma, March and Caicedo were great.
Caicedo is a great footballer, he was brilliant. I think Man United should sign him as an Understudy to Casemiro.
Joe Praise(Nigeria)

 

The case against Haaland
Yep, City are genuinely a worse team with Haaland.
Warren (just stirring the pot and increasing the heat)

 

Offside call in Manchester derby
Since the entire universe is getting ready to lose their collective s**t over the non-offside call in the Manchester derby, I thought I’d try for a dispassionate analysis of the incident.

By the terms of the law, since Rashford doesn’t actually play the ball, the question is whether he was “interfering with an opponent” by “clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent.”

The ball was close to Rashford. But did he clearly attempt to play it? Watch the video closely and you’ll see that Rashford briefly retracts his left leg, getting ready to play the ball, before he sees Fernandes coming and lets it go. That’s the crux. Should that be deemed “clearly attempting to play the ball,” and does it “impact” Ederson?

Everyone will have their own opinion on this. By pulling back the leg, he’s making a clear move, but since he never follows through, can it be said to be an attempt?

It’s a hard case, and depends on whether in this situation you want to favor the defense or the attacker. My own personal view is that it should be ruled offside. By retracting his leg, Rashford forces Ederson to concentrate attention on him. Whether it’s a “clear attempt” is fuzzy, but I think any reasonable keeper would read it as something he has to react to. That’s an impact, and I think ruling the play offside would be consistent with what the law is trying to do in this case.

On the other hand, in general you want to favor the attacker, so I can see how you might want to go the other way.

Football, bl***dy hell.
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA

 

Looking forward to Garey Vance’s conspiracy theory for Rashford’s offside goal. I hope it includes the words Howard and Webb.

Perhaps F365 can do an article on what the actual fuck the offside law is as clearly none of us plebs know.
Alex, South London

Manchester United players celebrate their equalising goal against Manchester City Credit: Alamy
Manchester United players celebrate their equalising goal against Manchester City Credit: Alamy

Apropos to nothing, I thought Rashford was offside. As soon as he kept running and crossed paths with Bruno it became clear he was interfering with play. But how long has it been since we got a decision in our favour Anyone? Anyone?

And in other questions:

1) what was Pep’s secret plan? Become LVG and pass us sideways to death. More of this please.

And finally,

2) who remembers when people laughed about Klopp’s 7 year itch and how the team had come to the end of their cycle based on a pattern of declining xGA and xGF? Who’s itching now?
Garey Vance, MUFC

 

The more I watch the premier league the more I’m convinced I don’t understand the laws of the game (and I’ve watched this game now for 19 years). Handballs, offsides, fouls, pretty much everything now.

How can you in any explanation tell me that the Defense is not reacting to Rashford’s position? How? If I’m a defender and I have one player in front of me, I know what to do, I know who to focus on. If I’m a defender and I have two players in front of me and both of them look like they could pick the ball, it’s a totally different scenario and it affects my play.

The worst part for me is the lack of transparency. In the NFL the referees explain the decisions straight away in the stadium on the loud speaker. You might not agree, but at least you know what the referee is thinking and the reason why he has given the decision. In the NBA, you can access the match reports of crucial calls in the game with video evidence. In the premier league no explanations during or after the game. No reasons given. Nothing. Complete silence. If the referee and his assistant have a conversation about a call, then we deserve to know what they were talking about and how they arrived at that decision. Shocking!
Damola Bremen

 

Liverpool have hit a new low
After the 3-0 dismantling at Brighton I’m chuffed to be looking ahead to 72 glorious hours of headlines on Liverpool’s “new low”…  that is, until we hit an even newer low at Molineux, to be followed by yet newer, lower lows at Stamford Bridge a week on.  Previous new lows were established after a 4-1 farce in Naples and setbacks against the likes of Forest, Leeds, Brentford to name a few.  Many of these lows were met with key opposition stars missing (Ivan toney, Trossard today, Joao Felix next wk).  Well then, these should be the lowest of the lows should they not.  Every low the newest shiniest low.  A new and improved low with extra low bits built in, buttressed by side lows and underlows.  Lows so low you cannot possibly go any lower, until the next low is below that low.  Big Punditry loves the new low, one of the most reliable guarantees of clicks and quips for supporters and opposition fans alike.  But at some point it simply isn’t a new low anymore…  it’s just our level mate
Eric, Los Angeles CA  ( it isn’t only about this misguided fixation on buying unicorn midfielders anymore…  this is atrophy of a once impenetrable ethos, a synchronized downing of tools…  and it’s shameful at the moment)

 

I suggest the following change to the football rules: Any team receiving a straight red card shall have to play the following three games with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in their starting lineup.

That should clean up the game considerably…
Tom K

 

I am at a loss. I cannot explain the shit that comes from this goddamn team. no one cares, no one tries. It is embarrassing.

Klopp era over? Hope not but looking more and more likely…
Nik (down and out), Munich

 

Can anyone remind me if  we played a half way decent game when Henderson and Oxlade started.

Their contribution is ridiculously minimal. No help from them going forward except the one ball from Oxlade to Nunez(ONE?) No press from them and Henderson is the easiest player in the league to play through. Our defense is blamed but they get no cover whatsoever a from the likes of Henderson and increasingly none from Fabino. I guess he is taking his cue from his captain.

I love Klopp for the joy he has brought to the club but he is sooo stubborn. Keeps trying the same formula week in and week out when it is clearly not working out and said after the Brighton debacle that these players did great things before. They did but the game evolves and he sticks with the same game plan which is clearly failing.

How about moving Alexander Arnold to midfield if he is short of personnel there. After all there was that other  midfielder who started in defense and di rather well when moved to midfield (GERRARD) Or start Doak. He may turn out to be the next Owen.

But Henderson and Oxlade? keep playing them and we will end up bottom half of table.
60 year die hard, scouser, Long Beach CA

 

Well that was as abject a performance as you could hope not to see from us. A 3-0 loss and we couldn’t have complained if it had been by 6. We need a new midfield, we need it badly and we need it yesterday.

The season after we won the league there was a period where we lost just about every game possible and looked bloody awful doing it. But the reasons were clear enough. Our injuries were dreadful, particularly in defence and we were trying to make square pegs fit round holes with the substitutes – which was as effective as you’d imagine.

But we knew that when the players came back all would be well again and that’s pretty much how it worked out in the main. Jurgen knew it too and while he was very tetchy and full of excuses, he hadn’t lost hope.

This time though, things are far worse. Sure there are injuries, but they’re not nearly as bad and others have them worse. It’s like half our side got old overnight – much like watching half a dozen boxers getting old in the ring in one fight at the same time. Unlikely but it’s happened here.

Our style of play requires the players to be fit, sharp and on form. If only a couple aren’t then things go to hell in a hurry. If six or more are drastically off their games, with the way we play, then you’re completely f****d basically.

The solution is very easy to identify and very difficult to implement at the same time. The easy bit – buy a complete new world class midfield. Problem technically solved. The difficult bit – buy a complete new world class midfield. There aren’t that many lying around waiting to be picked up.

So if we can’t buy at *least* one world class midfielder, then a solution needs to be found involving much of the existing personnel. Damned if I know how to do that. But that’s not the really worrying bit.

Judging from the horrified look on Jürgen’s face last night, he has *no* idea how to solve our problems without spending a fortune either. And why on Earth are the likes of Jude going to sign for us right now anyway? We’re in a bit of a pickle and no mistake.

Of course, I’m not remotely suggesting getting rid of him, he’s more than earned the right and the time to try and fix this.

But the sneaking feeling persists that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
James, Liverpool

 

Mudryk/United
Since fan reaction tends to be gauged by what a club’s fans on Twitter are saying (just a personal opinion: Twitter is not a reflection of reality), allow this real, live human to let off some thoughts about this.

Chelsea can have Mudryk. This isn’t me being a “bitter Arsenal fan”. The reality is, in the short-term, we are just trying to create competition in our wing spots and have an option that allows more tactical flexibility given our current striker shortage. Long-term, hopefully he eventually fulfills the potential such an outlay would require to make it worth it. In short, we do not actually need Mudryk (more on this later).

On the other hand, Chelsea are in desperation mode – everything about their transfer business (should I mention their place in the table?) screams that. Chelsea can go ahead and keep hijacking deals from us – that’s fine. In the long term, our strategy – one in which having an actual plan and sticking to it is paramount – is a much more sound course in the long run. Mudryk surely might turn out to be a world class player. That’s always the risk but it also goes both ways. And I won’t be surprised if he does. But even with that said why should we compromise the business principles established by this regime (the ones that have rebuilt this squad to this level in the first place) just to beat a floundering Chelsea to the transfer of a player who CLEARLY has more actual value to them (for PR and pure footballing reasons)?

Not to mention – you claimed to be an Arsenal supporter, have been all over social media acting desperate to get to us then as soon as you actually get permission to move somewhere – anywhere – and no doubt a fattening of your pockets then all of that Arsenal talk is…clearly BS? That’s cool, bro, have fun at Chelsea with your out of depth manager. We’ll be fine with this current squad of players whose dedication to the club can’t be questioned. And if anyone hasn’t noticed, we already have two of the (actual) best young wingers in the world. Total cost? €6 million.

Taking this Mudryk discussion even further, the idea that the decision of a 21 year-old player who 1. has a somewhat troubled history of finding motivation when not in the right environment (it wasn’t until de Zerbi showed up at Shakhtar that he began to fulfill his potential) 2. has never played anywhere but Ukraine, and 3. let’s be honest, isn’t exactly lighting it up Gakpo-style in a clearly less competitive league than the Eredivisie – is somehow going to affect the Premier League title race as much as the knee-jerky, Twitter-reliant, media-wh***ing commentators on the subject are currently saying it will…it’s just insane. I thought this was “Our League”?

Lastly, good win for United. Come back to me with talk of title aspirations when they actually acquit themselves through a tough run of games (seriously, look at their schedule the last 3 months) the same way people are demanding of Arsenal. What – Man U won a title more recently so they have more credibility in the bank? Please.
MAW, LA Gooner (Goal difference/point differential, in any sport, is a better indicator of the truly best teams than pure win-draw-loss record. Lest you forget the WC happened, we are just now about to arrive at the actual halfway point of the season. United’s form will revert to that of a team with a mere GD of +8 halfway through the season. City’s form will do the same – just in the opposite direction.)

 

Arteta patience
I’ll start this off by saying I’m not a fan of the managerial sack culture. But, B CFC suggests giving Potter the same patience afforded to Arteta, and I can’t help thinking the situations are/were entirely too different to compare.

Admittedly Potter isn’t hugely experienced at the top level, but he’s had a good few jobs. For the sake of the email, I’ll point out Arteta took over a club of at least equal stature as his first. He also won the FA Cup in his first season, becoming the only person to win it as captain and manager of the club. Even without the win, he already had an affinity with Arsenal whereas Potter doesn’t have any tangible credit with their fans above the normal goodwill.

From the outside it also feels like Arteta has and will have a bigger hand in the creating and development of the clubs’ philosophy. I could obviously be completely wrong, but given his short time at the helm it feels more likely Boehly is imposing his, at least to a larger extent.

A lot of the ingredients have to be right for the patience to eventually be vindicated and they may well be at Chelsea, but just pointing at the Emirates and using the”give him time, look at Arteta” argument (used a fair bit recently) misses the nuance I guess.

Potter is clearly a talented manager though, who will more likely than not improve Chelsea with time and the fact we’re talking about patience after a few months probably says more about football than him. I just had the time to offer my two penn’orf.
James, Kent.

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