Are post-Abramovich Chelsea going the same way as Man Utd after Fergie?

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Chelsea owner Todd Boehly and manager Thomas Tuchel. Credit: PA Images
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly and manager Thomas Tuchel. Credit: PA Images

The Premier League opening day Mailbox ponders whether Chelsea are repeating Man Utd’ mistakes. Also: Haaland, predictions, Ronaldo, and plenty more…

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Are Chelsea going the Man Utd way?
If the last 10 years have taught me anything as a united fan, it’s that no manager or players can make up for the lack of organisation structure. Its been like hiring a bunch of coders from Google and Meta and then appointing a successful evangelist the product manager.

And I haven’t kept up much with the ongoings at Chelsea this summer but it’s bringing up some repressed memories of United’s first season after SAF and Gill.

There are non footballing brains running transfers. They unsuccessfully chased around targets all summer and now seem to be panicking at not having done enough and are out trying to close whoever they can sign (unfortunately our incompetence meant that signing was Fellaini – u are still better off – YET). We also lost a lot of defenders on free at that point btw (Ferdinand, Evra and Vidic iirc) but it was going to be completely fine cuz we had smalling and jones.

I wouldn’t wish what United fans have gone through on any club so I really hope this turns out differently for you. Maybe you guys can sign Ronaldo

�� Credit: PA Images
�� Credit: PA Images

Akshay (Maybe Ten Haag knows a tactic that doesn’t need CMs)

While the rest of us argue about top 4 and relegation in the Premier League, the only story in football this year should be the Barcelona strategy – probably best described as ‘better to burn out than to fade away’. They are struggling to register players, struggling to pay their existing team’s salaries, and have decided to ‘spend spend spend’ by mortgaging their future up to 25 years ahead. It’s a frightening scenario for anybody that really cares about the club. The one clever aspect is that it broadens the base of people who don’t want the club to fail. But sooner or later, this house of cards is going to tumble. Laporte is betting the house on getting the Super League going, with Barcelona at the heart of it. There’s really no other way this plays out well for Barca, unless the next Messi turns up and keeps them at the top for 10 years. Lewandowski, Raphina, and co won’t take them to Champions League domination, good players though they are. This could end up being a high speed train wreck, because Laporte doesn’t want to take his foot off the accelerator, despite the cliff fast approaching.
Ved Sen (MUFC), London.


Ronaldo issue
To the left, to the left, everything you own in a box to the left…
So, the Neviller thinks Man United should bend over backward bend over drop their trousers and allow Ronaldo to f*ck them over. Because the little baby wants to play in the champions league playground and is throwing his toys out of the pram. Because Champions League scoring record. Because Messi.
We’re now told Ten Hag, the Man United dressing room, and even the tea lady is sick of Ronaldo hanging around like a bad smell. Hmm, if only there was a sucker willing to take him off our hands…
But alas, Ronaldo is running out of options. It doesn’t help that he’s fashionably late to the preseason schedule. And he leaves early like a boss. Like Gnev2 said he’s running the shop and everyone is tired of his sh*thousery.
So where do we go from here? Should Man United just terminate his contract? Or should we place a £25m price tag on him? But there are no takers…
If anyone has a solution, I’d love to hear it.


Here we go: Football365’s season predictions for 2022/23 as Liverpool v City splits us


Mug’s game
With everyone else mailing in their predictions for the season ahead, I thought I’d give it a go as well.

Until I remembered that, back in January, F365 printed my mail where I confidently stated the following about new Tottenham signings Kulusevski and Bentancur;

“Personally, I think both will struggle, and can’t see them making enough of a contribution to securing Champions League football.”

So on second thoughts, I’ll not bother.


Liverpool sixth
On the eve of the new season, predictions have been raining in but most people have been speaking as if next season just continues on where the last left off. You’ve mentioned yourselves how there was a ’21-point gap between Spurs and Liverpool’ last season. Are you aware this doesn’t carry over between seasons and every team starts with 0 points again?

People also predict that because team X has signed player Y the team must be better and if they lose players the team must become worse. Ask Man Utd fans about how it went last year when they signed 3 highly sought-after players to add to their team that finished 2nd. We’ve all seen enough PL seasons at this point to know football doesn’t work like this or else it would be too boring to watch. For example, the 4 teams finishing in the top 4 has only stayed the same from one season to the next once in the last 14 years.

A much better way to predict what will happen is to look at a team’s managers past record at other clubs. They all go through their own boom-bust cycle that saw them leaving eventually. So based on this, my big six predictions:

1) Man City: Contradicting everything I’ve said about boring predictions and managers boom-bust cycles, Guardiola always jumps ship before it starts going wrong after he stayed one year too long at Barca. Expect much of the same & a roughly similar points total to last year. Also, their expected points (xP) based on expected goals (xG) per game over the course of last season was so much better than anyone else’s its hard to look past them again.

2) Spurs: In Conte’s first season at Chelsea, he led a team built around Costa & Hazard to a title win with 93 points. This came after a slow opening 6 games that left Chelsea in 8th, 8 points behind leaders Man City. Conte has already had his bedding in period at Spurs to avoid these dropped points so I see no reason why his side built around Kane & Son can’t rack up 85+ points next season beyond ‘Lads, it’s Tottenham’.

3) Arsenal: Arteta hasn’t had any previous managerial positions so it’s hard to judge. Last season they were quite consistent but struggled against the other big 6 sides, if this season goes similarly then that may end up in the top 4 as other sides around them run into trouble.

4) Chelsea: Tuchel did 2 years at Dortmund & 2 and a half at PSG, getting sacked with them 3rd place in the league in a one-horse race. I suspect his time may be up at Chelsea, getting sacked mid-season. Chelsea then break out one of their classic records, bringing in a caretaker manager who performs a late season turnaround to nick the final top 4 spot from…

5) Man Utd: Ten Hag has never managed in a 20-team league before let alone one of the top 5 leagues. United to start strongly with some attractive football but to fade as the season wears on, missing out on Champions League football late in the season.

6) Liverpool: Klopp has taken this side far but this will be one step too many. He managed both of his previous sides for 7 seasons & he’s currently done 6 full seasons at Liverpool. In his 6th season at Dortmund, he took them to 2nd place in the league and lost in the Champions League final, sound familiar? At Dortmund he followed that up by spending most of the season bottom of the league, picking up form in February which saw Dortmund pull clear and sneak into the final Europa League spot. The Bundesliga is much more competitive at the bottom so it’s unlikely the same scenario will happen now but we’ve already seen how badly his sides can fall apart 18 months ago & with the World Cup interruption we may be in for it again this season.
Mick, Cardiff


Aribo! Aribo!
Great F365 predictions piece. I’ve a few unpopular predictions of my own:

– Gabriel Jesus will be a flop.

– Man Utd will actually be quite good. Comfortably back in top 4.

– Southampton (and therefore Ralph Hasenhuttl) will be just fine.

…and on that note, Joe Aribo will prove the best bargain. £6m or so (with add ons) is a steal.
Graeme, Glasgow


…Got to love predictions. They are always nonsense and show both why we love football and why you should never bet on it.

Anyways, here goes:

Top 4: City, Liverpool, Spurs (Very glad Conte didn’t go to United), Chelsea, (United, Arsenal for the 6.) (Remember when brackets were a mailbox thing?)

Goldon boot: Salah. Kane has won one golden boot since Salah turned up to Salah’s three. Kane will not bust a gut in the run up to the world Cup or will break. Haaland vs Nunez is interesting in that it will take top billing above Salah vs Kane whilst Salah keeps scoring.

First manager to leave: Frank Lampard will leave Everton the day after the transfer window closes without having won a point. He will blame the clubs transfer activity and his press mates will spend two years claiming it wasn’t his fault and he did the best he could have done under the circumstances. His next job will be at Fulham in 2025.

Champ league winner: Liverpool. I refuse to consider anyone else.

Player of the year: KDB. Isn’t there 5 subs this year? He won’t finish a game so he’ll be fresh as a daisy every game.

Most excited about: Non-league football with my kids.
Alex, South London


…I’ll just reiterate my predictions.

City to win the league, followed by Liverpool, United, Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Fulham, Leeds and let’s say Bournemouth to go down.

Villa or Forest to be the biggest surprise. Or maybe Everton achieving mid table mediocrity with Lampard.

Haaland will get the golden boot, Grealish to get most assists.

Haaland will also have the biggest impact, as hell help them win the CL, followed by Martinez or De Jong (if he joins) at United. Martial or Fred might be the classic “like a new signing”.

Jesus to be the biggest flop.

Biggest bargain is surely going to be Eriksen but Henderson or Lingard will be up there.

PFA player will be Kane or Salah because they are loved.

Tuchel to say bye first

City to win the CL.

Most excited to see United playing good football, and giving kids a chance.

Erling Haaland Credit: PA Images
Erling Haaland Credit: PA Images

Game of opinions
I agree with the view that F365 is on a wind-up with regards to Haaland. Either that, or King simply didn’t watch the match, and decided that no-goals, few touches from Haaland meant that he had been bad or something similar. Either way, it’s basically click bait. (And, as has been pointed out, uses the language of betting, despite the website’s stance.)

Haaland had two big chances and one half chance in an unfit team that wasn’t on his wavelength, while playing against the two* best centre-halves in the league, with one being pretty much the guy you would design if you had to engineer a defender to play against Haaland.

And even against Matip and VVD, Haaland just looked faster, sharper and stronger. This weekend he’s going to run into the Cat-Botherer and Diop, which should be more representative. Nevermind when he ends up bulldozing teams with weak centres. Fear for United or Arsenal (and everyone in the bottom half).

If that match, where he must have been close to the best city player on show, was evidence of his struggling, then I don’t know. Just look at that last chance he had: Adrian spilled a wicked long shot. He did not spill it far, and against pretty much every other player in the league, he smothers that, or gets close enough that there’s no chance of a shot. Haaland was there so fast, and so early, that it seemed like he had to have been two or three yards offside. In. A. Friendly. One that they were losing by two goals, which one random one at 90+7 wouldn’t change.

Honestly, the reason why I think Haaland won’t make that big a difference in the league is because City have already nearly maxed out how many points they’re getting. They’re playing so close to perfection, that any points dropped are already aberrations. And not due to how good they can be.

But failing to improve on that perfection definitely won’t be because Haaland had a ‘bad’ community shield.

Honestly, Ian King, maybe watch the match next time?
Andrew M, Streatham
*And if this comment doesn’t make it obvious I’m a Liverpool fan, so theoretically should be pro the idea of City getting weaker, then who knows.


…I was reading Ian King’s article on City and Liverpool, and have to say I agree and have been thinking the same. I wanted to elaborate a little on my opinion though, and as is the case with both these days, you can’t talk about one without the other. I’ll start with Liverpool.

They really should benefit from Salah missing the world cup, along with a few others. The timing of the world cup has been mentioned, but one thing that hasn’t really is the mentally draining effect tournaments have on players; especially those expected to (or do) make the latter stages. All past players for big teams talk about the concentration required and needing a recovery, and how much they need those few weeks off after a summer tournament. The same for the winners. Imagine winning a world cup, then less than a week later you’re playing Bournemouth away at the start of January. There’ll be mental consequences as well as physical.

Liverpool as a team look more matured and self-confident. I’m not sure Diaz will get the goals Mane did, and I’m not sure how happy Firmino is. It should also be noted that Liverpool made it as far as possible in 4 competitions because last season they could rotate. They’ve now lost Origi and Minamino. They do also have a potential problem in midfield. The main issue for me is the world cup and/ or how many of their midfielders are injury prone. Thiago, Henderson, Fabinho, Kieta all spend time out injured (I won’t even bother with the Ox and injuries), but you could see how a situation like with their centre-backs a few years ago could happen again. It would be unfortunate, but more plausible this season than any other. I still think they’ll win it though.

City have bought a forward, and he will score goals, but I think it will hurt them in big games, which could count against them by the end. The main reason for this is less control of the ball, and with their outgoings. Their midfield playmakers are starting to look a little thin. They have 3 players for the number 8 positions; one is only trusted sometimes now with age and De Bruyne gets injured a lot. Philips won’t deputise as an 8, or at least not in the City system. Grealish is also a downgrade on Sterling: he doesn’t have the explosive pace that’s needed because City mostly play in their opponents final third, and doesn’t have as big a knack for goal. Zinchenko and Jesus both knew the City method, and they are light on full-back cover now too. Foden on his day is a game-runner, but doesn’t as yet fill a position; not fast or intuitive enough to be a winger, not prolific enough to be a wide forward. Haaland is also not as dynamic a presser as any of the false 9 options. They look weaker on paper than in the last few years in my opinion, not stronger.

All in all, the oddest part of all this seems to be Guardiola questioning his own philosophy. These are players who wouldn’t usually fit his system, and despite 4 leagues in 5 years, he seems not to trust it, or at least wants to change it. I’m not sure if he thinks a bit more power and physical size will help him in the Champions League, but it may well cost him the league. I still don’t think this will matter against smaller teams, just the big ones.

Spurs are very interesting for an upset though. They look well stocked everywhere.
James, Galway


Contrived punishment
I’d like to thank Sean, LFC, Roseville, Ontario for mailing in. I love puns and pop culture references at the best of times, but the contrived nature of set up, the lack of shame at doing so all to jam in a play on Spinal tap (that I suspect was thought of long ago, perhaps by someone else) amplified the naffness to eleven.

Sean, don’t think you are not appreciated.
Daniel, Cambridge


Most embarrassing celeb fan
Now normally, I’d let Mediawatch do it’s own excellent thing, but Piers Morgan has been at it again and I couldn’t resist. Firstly, he says in his Sun column ‘he’d rather have rusty nails driven into his flesh than watch the All or Nothing Arsenal Documentary’. Now THAT would make for a great All Or Nothing. Have at it Piers.

Then he says he hates VAR with a passion and ‘hates those who like it even more’. VAR is suddenly going to be a very popular thing at the Emirates this season then.

Is any other team as embarrassed about a ‘celebrity’ fan as we are about Piers? Topical Top Ten F365?
Exiled Gooner (If only you could transfer annoying celeb fans on deadline day)


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