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Haha no worries. I actually saw your reply days ago, meant to reply the day after, and completely forgot until now :(
It's crazy, but somehow top 4 is actually still alive thanks to Citeh and Arsenal being kind of useless. As long as we win our remaining matches and the two don't play out a draw we're in the top 4. Leicester is going to be a HUGE challenge, but our fate is mostly in our own hands.
The Tottenham match was just shameful though. Fully agreed on that. LvG is delusional, and I can't wait to see the back of him. Twice now he's stumbled on the formation everyone has been shouting for since day 1, and twice now it's been our most effective setup. If he was kept for next season I'd be willing to put money down on us starting in a different formation. He just seems to hate what works.
If we don't get Mou (with Poch seemingly off the table) we'll be lucky to make the Europa league next season. Our squad is actually really good for the most part, and we're just missing some stardust sprinkled here and there IMO, and that's what makes this all so hard to accept.
He's still regularly replacing FBs. Can't say I understand why he doesn't just make the right choice for who to start in the first place. On that note I have to mention though that I've been impressed with Valencia since he came back. He doesn't run up like crazy anymore, but he's far smarter on the ball than he's ever been.
I was so excited to see Young finally on the pitch again, then he got deployed as a lone striker, looked lost in a completely unfamiliar role, and I guess he got dropped because of it because he hasn't played since. Just wtf is LvG thinking...
Fosu-Mensah is quickly becoming one of my favourites. Pitiful that we fell apart after he came off against Spurs (just soooo pitiful), but man, he will be some player. We might just have a real golden crop of youngsters here with Rashford, TFM, Martial, Pereira if he ever gets a chance, Memphis if he ever adapts, and Lingard if he learns to finish. I know you see Lingard as more of a squad player, but I'm so impressed with his off the ball movement and ability to ghost into space. He just needs to learn how to put the ball in the back of the net! Arrrggghhh!!! If he does that then he'd be a monster of a player.
I also can't wait for the season to be over. How sad is it that the first time I felt like I was really watching United this season was that match vs Everton? One game all season so far, and th season is almost over. Unbelievable. The nightmare NEEDS to end. We're too big a club to be this poor.
But still, that match was just so good (the match, not the performance over 90 mins). We weren't great for the full match and we backed off Everton too much, but when we did attack we looked convincing for once. The interplay between Rashford, Martial and Lingard was mesmerizing, Rooney played very well in his midfield role (that clearance off the line!), and Fellaini was a BEAST. My personal favourite moment was when Lingard and Rashford backheeled each other the ball and Lingard sent Rashford clear on through. That bit of play took my breath away.
Poor match for TFM, but the penalty was harsh. I hope it doesn't mean he gets dropped, because he's too good for that.
What'd you think of the match?
Now, like I said above though, I don't think we're necessarily that far off from where we need to be, at least in terms of the first team picture. I agree on the players you picked out for needing to go (hard to admit it about Mata because I really like him, but he's just not doing enough to justify his inclusion in the team), so we definitely need some more depth. I'd also like to add Rojo too. He just isn't good enough in either of his roles to justify being here. I would keep him if we don't sign anyone to play CB and LB, but only in that scenario. The key positions I think need a real upgrade are:
ST: We need an experienced striker like Ibra. Someone who won't be around for too long, but can help Rashford and Martial develop so they are ready to shoulder the burden afterwards.
CM: We need one CM maaaaybe. Fellaini was massive against Everton, but he needs to be performing like that week-in, week-out to make us think he is good enough to face the best. We need a partner for Herrera and Schneiderlin. Before we sign anyone though, I would like to see how Pereira fits into a midfield 3 with them, because he's exactly the kind of midfielder we need to balance them out. Rooney, as much as I dislike him, has been really good in that role, but he's too old now especially in football years vs his actual age. TFM looks destined for the midfield, but he's more likely to replace Schneiderlin than play alongside him I'd say.
RB: Like striker, someone old and reliable to bridge the gap between now and TFM and Varela being ready. Darmian doesn't look like being that player for us. I'd like to see TFM in midfield, so that leaves Varela and Darmian. Probably need one more.
CB: The one position where we well and truly need a upgrade IMO. We have great players in those other positions who are just too young to be relied on right now, but at CB we need about 2 players bad. Blind is a not a one-size-fits-all solution at CB, and with Jones and Rojo both hopefully being sold we need some more numbers. McNair has seemingly disappeared, and I don't know how Blackett has been doing on loan. I'm hoping to see Tuanzebe get a chance some time so I can really judge him, but even if he's a revelation like Rashford we still need some CBs. 1 first choice CB to partner Smalling (Laporte or Stones, Hummels on current form would be ideal but he wants to win trophies so no chance of him joining us right now lol), and an aggressive CB for squad depth. Blind can cover for Stones/Laporte as a ball playing CB, and we need a physical one to cover for Smalling. Someone with some controlled aggression like TFM would be ideal IMO.
I agree it's make or break time. We can't pull a Liverpool.
We weren't convincing by any stretch of the word, BUT WE DID IT!!!! Rashford to the rescue again. I have to admit, I was really concerned when he looked injured late on. Thankfully he seemed okay after.
1 point off City. We can make top 4 still, didn't think it possible when we were hemorrhaging points, but here we are. Not much to say about the match though. We were average, and City was average, but we managed to score. That was pretty much all there was between us. Smalling was really lucky not to get sent off, but we were also unlucky not to get a penalty, so the decisions got balanced out IMO.
I think it's time to play Mousa-Fousa (saw that in a comment and it stuck with me haha) over Carrick. Carrick has just been underwhelming for too many matches in a row. If he's performing at that kind of level right now, then what's the point of starting him? He's not bossing any matches, and he won't get better, so why not give the position to a young guy who may not be quite as good right now, but would quickly improve. Plus, he has seemingly limitless potential and he's from Ajax, so how bad could he really be on a technical level?
What's it been now, 3 matches in a row that LvG replaced both FBs? Memphis must have really slipped out of favour for him to not be getting any chance to play. I'm just glad that there are legitimate looking reports that Mou signed a pre-contract with us. I've had quite enough of LvG.
Valencia quite possibly looks worse than he did before. His electric pace is gone, his positioning is as bad as always, and his decision making is still rash. I almost hit my head off my keyboard when I saw him trying to win the ball from Clichy at the halfway line. That's literally the same move Aguero scored on us from a couple derbies ago. He doesn't look anywhere near good enough to play for us right now, especially since his crossing is still non-existent.
It's an interesting situation where an agent like Mendes would have so much power at the club. On the one hand, he represents some of the biggest names in the game, so if the relationship stays good we have prime access to some top, top players. But if things go sour then suddenly our position is quite disastrous. At the moment though, it's like you said, do we really have a choice? I don't think so.
Yeah I'm definitely excited by the prospect of Zlatan in the PL. It's the perfect league for him, character wise. Plus, he's a great fit for what we need right now. I'm 100% behind this potential signing.
Rashford has looked good on the right. He's another curious case like Martial where he seems equally comfortable on the wing as he does inside the box. To me, I see Martial as more of a long term fit on the left and Rashford as more of a ST just comparing the two head to head, but I think the best way to utilize them would be in a free-flowing front 3 where they can switch up positions at will. They should be able to do so with Lingard, but for some reason only Lingard and Mata really interchange their positions. Anyway, both seem better suited to playing as strikers, but I think Rashford has the better instincts for the position so he gets the nod from me over Martial for now.
Memphis probably would shy away from cutting inside, but that could probably be coached away. It would probably have a lot to do with confidence too. If he can use his raw pace and power to beat his man on the right a few times and deliver some great performances, then he'll cut inside more even though it's his weaker foot due to the self-belief he'd build up. If Memphis was played on the right, and he made the position his own, he'd be perfect for that free flowing front 3 that Martial and Rashford would thrive in. He could slot in anywhere across that front 3 to give the other 2 the freedom to pick their place.
Interesting point about Blind. I guess we could say that with a team of top drawer quality, Blind wouldn't necessarily be a CB or a CM, but more of a utility player. If he isn't first choice, and I'm finding myself agreeing with you that maybe he shouldn't be, then he doesn't necessarily have to be a CB or a CM, or a LB for that matter, but just a great option to have on the bench and in the rotation.
In terms of your signings:
RW - Griezmann has been playing pretty much exclusively as ST hasn't he? That would make him quite good for a fluid front 3. He looks better and better for us. I don't think Lingard is nothing more than a squad player though. For his age, he's woefully inexperienced, but I like his instincts and decision making. I don't want to make any final decisions on him until I've seen him for another season or two. Besides, he's an academy boy and I really want to see him succeed lol
ST - Zlatan, definitely, with Rooney shipped off.
CM - I'm not sure if we'll ever get Pogba back, but man what he player he's become. Definitely the dream signing. I don't know much about Renato Sanches, so no opinion there. I still like Rode, and I'm more than annoyed he barely gets to play at Bayern while Xabi Alonso starts pretty much every match despite playing at pretty much a Carrick level. I love Lars Bender, but he's too injury prone. Granit Xhaka is a really good player, but unfortunately he's got discipline issues. Guendogan looks like he might be leaving Dortmund, so if we could get our hands on him that'd be amazing, though unlikely. Kroos is rumoured to be a target of ours, and he's one of my favourite players so I'd never say no to him. Kroos, Schneiderlin, Herrera? That sounds like a fantastic midfield to me. If we got Pogba to play ahead of Schneiderlin or Guendogan to play ahead of Herrera, that would be a world class midfield.
Agreed on CB, though I would hope Young isn't sold. Aside from my bias towards him, he is one of those players that actually gives a damn about the club and doesn't accept defeat. We need players like that around. Plus, he has been good whenever he's played in a more advanced position.
I like that squad you've laid out. It's got a really good balance of youth and experience. What would you do with the other two out of Rashford/Wilson/Keane? Would you loan them out, or sell them? I'd probably try to loan both the "others" out for now and try to fit them all in when Zlatan, in this hypothetical situation, leaves. The versatility of Rashford and Martial would be key in getting everyone ample minutes.
Mou loves his 4-2-3-1, so I don't think we'd see a 4-3-3 from him TBH. Schneiderlin looks like his kind of player, so I expect to see him getting minutes in the double 6. Pogba beside him, if we were to somehow sign him, would probably be the way he goes IMO.
...And we're right back out of it lol. Not quite, but this was a big result against us. I'm not even surprised anymore to be honest. Pretty much expected us to take a giant leap backwards after our run of good results.
Mata, just wow. How on earth can a player like him get such a pointless double booking? He looked in great form recently too. This loss has to be 100% attributed to his stupidity here. I hope that whoever gets deployed in his role does a good job so that he can earn his way back rather than getting it by default. This was not what we needed right now.
And is it just me, or did Carrick really look his age that match? His passing looked uncharacteristically sloppy to my eye, though haven't checked the actual stats, and after seeing Schneiderlin and Herrera for a few consecutive matches in the central midfield, Carrick's inclusion looked like we'd attached a ball and chain to our midfield. The mobility, fluidity, and balance was just gone.
On that note, I wasn't so sure about throwing on Schneiderlin. Even a man down we still had chances to score, so I would have brought on Fellaini. He gets a bad rep, but we had literally no aerial prowess from the midfield forward and we needed someone who could contest high balls with the West Brom giants. Not only that, he also draws attention due to his size which could have left some extra space for the others to play through. Not sure what his fitness levels were like, but if he was on the bench he must have been cleared to play. With 15 minutes to go I would have thrown him on.
I think what we really missed most though, aside from an 11th player obviously, was Varela. Darmian is just not good enough in an attacking sense. He doesn't fit the possession style we try to play. Darmian is more of a Chelsea FB, and if Mou comes in I could see him being first choice for him, but for our current style Varela is who we need. It's too bad he was feeling overworked. In hindsight, I would have played Fosu-Mensah in his place, but I can't exactly argue with the decision to go with Darmian at the time because it made sense to play our first choice RB.
Memphis unfortunately didn't really impress me today, but I won't hold it against him. It's hard to play against a defensive team a man down and chasing the match. I did think he should have been brought on much earlier though. This was not the kind of match for Rashford. Once Mata got dismissed this became a dog fight, especially in the second half, and Rashford is just too inexperienced for that. He looked lost to me on the pitch. Memphis should definitely have been brought on much earlier in his place, even as early as the start of the second half IMO.
I don't really have any expectations for this season anymore, so anything we do manage feels like a bonus. That's why I'm not as pissed as I'd normally be about a performance like this.
Now, if we can win the derby we'll still be in a good place to make top 4, but it's looking unlikely again. If, and that's still a huge if, we can make top 4 over City, that would be like Christmas come early for me. If Pep had to play in the Europa League in his first season it would be hilarious.
Definitely unacceptable to be behind Mansheiky in terms of our youth facilities. It's partly why I would be so for Loew being involved in our club. He was one of the contributors to Germany's restructuring of their youth setup, and he could work wonders here. But like you said, it's also very important for the DoF to embody the principles of the club. Loew has some overlap in that regard, but he wouldn't be the same as someone like, say, G. Neville. I dunno, it's tough choice that position. In terms of CV, Loew is my number one choice. In terms of fit, G. Neville. That's all pretty moot though until we know whether or not Loew and Nev would even be up for it lol.
Yeah LvG does seem to have a penchants for the absurd. The horny line got me laughing harder than his dive simulation though. I totally understand what he means, but it's also quite likely that it was made super awkward in translation. Mata's sheepish smile beside him was just the icing on top. Like "yeah, he really does tell us to be horny. Don't judge us please".
I agree with you on Memphis and Martial's positions being LW and ST, I just don't think they're quite ready for that yet. Martial just seems to lack the killer instinct of a striker right now. He needs someone like an RvP to learn from IMO. If we could bring in someone like Zlatan for a season or two, I think that would do wonders for his development. As it stands, his best quality is his dribbling, and ST isn't the best position to make use of that. Memphis on the other hand is still too inconsistent for my liking. I have to note though that I've found his decision making to be vastly improved recently. If he could be more consistent on the ball he'd be ready IMO, but not quite yet.
I'm curious to see how he'd fair on the right though. From the right he doesn't have to cut inside to get on his stronger foot, so he'd be able to use raw pace more frequently than his dribbling, which I think would suit him better for now. He wouldn't be a real goal threat from the right, but I mean he doesn't score with any consistency from the left anyway, so it's not a big deal. Plus, it might make him more appreciative of playing creator which could be good in the long run. He is still good enough on his left foot to cut inside and play some quick one-two's to get into good positions, so he would still be a dynamic threat. I can honestly picture him playing a role like Douglas Costa plays, and he's been nothing short of world class this season.
Yeah that is a bit of a problem with the youngsters. They are too good to ignore, but not quite good enough to be relied on yet. I think we need to look at some short term solutions for some of these positions. Just to throw out some names to elaborate on what I mean rather than listing the necessarily best options, if we could sign Zlatan, Evra, and Ribery/Robben (I hate Robben, but age wise he fits what I mean lol) I think that would be ideal. They're good enough to make an impact in the short term, they can teach the youngsters, and at their age they need rotation to give the youngsters minutes. I think that's the best way to proceed.
But yeah, at CB it'd be fine to get someone younger, and CM as well. I do see Fosu-Mensah as more of a CM though, so maybe two CBs? I haven't seen Tuanzebe play yet, but our CB prospects don't look quite as good as the others from what I've seen. If TFM is moved to midfield full time together with Blind then I think we're good at CM. What happens with these two will dictate what we need IMO. Pereira should be Mata's understudy at CAM. It's unacceptable he's barely playing. I don't know what LvG's problem with him is TBH.
So anyway, I think it's very important to give these kids their chances first. Rather than recruiting promising youngsters lets develop ours. They look good enough. To supplement their development and help the first team in the meantime, I would sign a couple experienced players for the short term. After seeing the youngsters, this is what I'd prefer to see. They are just too good not to take the chance on.
Sorry, a bit busy these days.
We really were the biggest joke until this last little run. It was so pathetic though that we lost to Midtjylland and then Sunderland.
I agree with you that LvG kept his job for those reasons. We're playing better now, but I don't think it has anything to do with him in particular. If anything, his influence on the team looks less than ever. Plus, he's been fortunate with how the youngsters stepped up. I'm not going to praise him for Rashford and the others because he's using them out of desperation, not choice.
What I really don't like about LvG is that he's defeatist one week, gets a good result, and then goes back to having a bullish attitude. Wait to go on an extended run of good form before you open your mouth!
Yeah I'm definitely all for the siege mentality. It brings the players, fan, the club in general all together on the same side.
I'm not too sure what Nicky Butt did to really deserve his appointment as Head of Academy. Not sure if he's the one to revamp it, but at least he knows the club through and through. From a romantic standpoint it makes a lot of sense, but I'm not sure if he's the best candidate looking at it objectively.
Don't know much about Berta, but Atletico have been fantastic at signing and selling players so at least from that perspective he'd likely be a big hit. What he's been doing falls in line with the club's traditions. If G. Neville wants to be Mou's assistant, and Mou wants him, I'm all for it. Nev bleeds red and lives the club, plus he has a very good football mind. If Giggs walks away it'd be a shame, but at the same time we need to be cutthroat or risk falling into mediocrity. The big clubs right now get big managers for a few years and then get someone new. There's no reason why it shouldn't work for us too.
SAF as DoF? Honestly, I don't think it's a great idea. First of all, he's quite old and in the DoF position I would want someone with longevity to provide the continuity when managers change. Secondly, we're trying to move past the SAF era and we won't be able to do that by clinging to him. I'm not suggesting we forget our past and lose our traditions, but we need to modernize things and step out from under his shadow. My third reason, and perhaps the most important, is that while Fergie was an amazing man-manager, maybe the best ever, he was a little behind the times tactically in his later years.
Now, a DoF doesn't exactly need to be as tactically astute as the manager, but I still think it's important for it to be someone up-to-date with modern tactics. They need to work closely together with the manager, understand their plans, align them with the traditions of the club, and find players who match those plans. I feel like SAF's presence would be too much of a gravitational pull towards his own style of playing, just because of who he is and what he's done. I firmly believe we need to evolve from his style into something new, and for that we need a new face.
Yeah I get what you mean about feeling a bit bad for Martial. But, I think with this current crop of young players he'd fit in much better. Most of the more senior players looked like they've been missing the hunger, the passion, the *ahem* horniness, but the youngsters have reinvigorated them. Mata looks like a new man in particular. I want to see Martial take over from Memphis on the left (great as he was against Midtjylland, he was nowhere near as good against Arsenal) with the rest of the attackers kept the same.
On that note, I think it's fair to say that Marcus Rashford should be our starting striker at least for now. Martial looks more comfortable out left, and Rooney is part of the past. Rashford has pace, strength, drive, and most of all, real predatory instincts the likes of which we haven't seen since Chicharito was at his best for us. What kind of a player scores 4 goals and gets an assist in his first 2 senior games? Unbelievable. And what I like best of all is that he has the hunger to succeed that Rooney doesn't seem to have anymore.
It's crazy how talented our young strikers look. James Wilson, Will Keane, Marcus Rashford, they all look like the real deal. I feel horrible for Will BTW. In those 5 minutes he was on though he looked really good.
Can't believe we beat Arsenal. What it comes down to, I think, is that we wanted it more, and that's down to the youngsters. That and Arsenal completely failed to take advantage of our makeshift back line. It was great to see Fosu-Mensah get his debut, and Varela has been really good at RB (I'd be tempted to start him over Darmian because he fits the mold of a United RB better). After seeing just how good these players look I'm a little hesitant about Mou. He MUST want to include our youth because they look like future first team players. If it's a requirement of him it won't be good enough because you need to be passionate about it, he has to want to do it himself, if only to make the club happy.
LOL completely agreed on the philosophy. I still have no clue what the hell it is or is supposed to be.
On the bright side, if Midtjylland knock us out LvG must surely be out of a job. Ditto for Shrewsbury. Pathetic display from the team.
Don't worry, late replies are the norm these days. Life is sucking the life out of me... lol
Thanks for the breakdown on Sampaoli. He sounds like a good shout in the future. I like managers that make their players give it their all on the pitch.
Weren't there rumours about Pochettino only leaving Tottenham for either Barca or Real? Saw it somewhere, but didn't look into it. Could have just been some Daily Mail BS.
It's looking more and more like Mou is our next manager. Of course, there have been incidents before where someone looked destined to join our club, only for it to not happen. But this looks too likely IMO. I totally agree with you that if Poch can be signed on after then we should go for it. As long as he wants the job, it should be his. His values align with those of the club, and he really has the look of a manager who could make his mark with the right club and budget.
So, if we assume Mou is coming in now though, what do you think will happen? I have a feeling it'll be a big success TBH. I think he'll appreciate the club's values and culture, and try to uphold them because he has always come across as enamored with the United job. I strangely feel like he might actually settle down here if he comes. But all that is just wishful thinking at this point, and we need to assume that his third season syndrome will strike again. While I like the idea of snapping up Poch after 2 years, I have to be honest and say that if Mou looks like he wants to settle down at United and he adapts to the club, then I'd rather keep him. He has that larger-than-life quality and authority about him that SAF had.
Regardless of how it goes down though, I wouldn't wait until Mou is done to revamp the youth system. We are one of the biggest, more historic clubs on the planet and no manager is bigger than the club. If Mou wants this job then he can't ignore our youth. We absolutely must revamp our youth system. Our youth products are good, but I'm not seeing anyone that makes me think they could be contenders for the title of best in their position in the future. The fact that club legends are sending their kids to City hurts.
I like the structure you've laid out. I think we definitely need to split the CEO position. Woodward is a genius with money, but he doesn't know football at all. I'm not sure if David Gill would want to take up the position again, but if he would then he'd definitely be first choice. Not quite sure who else would be a good fit here, but it should be someone with a background in football.
For the Director of Football, Joachim Low is my number one choice. The guy knows his stuff, and his romantic view of how the game should be played is well suited to such a position, more so than being a manager IMO. G Nev is another favourite of mine for the role.
If we're looking outside those two choices, maybe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? He knows the club, he knows football, and he doesn't seem to have a sparkling managerial career ahead of him at the moment, though he is doing well at Molde again. I think it's important for us to select someone like Low, who can restructure everything and create a new identity for the club, or a former player who knows the club inside and out. Roy Keane might actually not be a bad shout, if he can be a little less confrontational. He won't back down to the manager, he'll make his opinions known, and he's passionate. He's been a bit too "against" us in recent times and he fell out hard with SAF, but if that can be patched up, he's the kind of personality that would be great for the position. It's like when you watch Bayern, and Sammer is the one tearing off the 4th official's head after a call goes against them. That kind of passion inspires the players and the fans.
70m?!?! Ouch. Still, he'd be a top player for us for years and years, plus it'll be good to build a French contingent at the club. France is producing a lot of talented players these days, and with 3 at the club, plus Evra (what a legend, still helping the club even after he left!), to convince them to join, we'll have a good shout at picking up the talented young Frenchmen.
I watch every match. If I miss one live then I find a torrent or I find it online to watch after. I just avoid the score so the match isn't spoiled, which is only a problem when I have to find one to stream lol. Anyway, we've looked so much better these last few games. It's insane how badly we collapsed against Chelsea though. 7% possession in the last 10 minutes? How is that even possible!?!?! Top 4 looked more possible to me with Tottenham and Arsenal in fourth. City has a knack for going on a winning run near the end and ending up near the top of the table. I don't think we'll take a CL spot from them, and Leicester is too far ahead for them to drop out of top 4 unless they implode in dramatic fashion. I've stopped doubting them though, I think they'll win the title. It makes no sense to me, but if they're still top now I think they'll take it all the way.
Now, while we have looked better, I also think that this is the best we'll look under LvG, which would be pathetic if it turns out to be true. Our squad is capable of putting teams to the sword, but 3-0 is our biggest margin all season? We were supposed to be comfortably in the top 4, we were supposed to make a deeper CL run, we were supposed to make deep cup runs, and we were supposed to look better than last season. None of those goals are being met, and LvG has lost the support of the fans. How does he still have a job?!?!
What do you think of our top 4 prospects now after drawing with Chelsea? I think our top 4 hopes are alive, but very barely. If we don't beat Arsenal, Tottenham AND City, I can't see us making the CL next season. If we'd beaten Chelsea I think beating 2 out of 3 of them would have been enough, but not anymore. I don't see our record for the rest of the season being significantly better than anyone above us, so we need to close the distance between us and them by winning the 6 pointers.
If it's true that Mou wrote a 6 page letter to the United board, then I'm all for giving him the job. At the end of the day, it's the players and managers who most want to be somewhere that will succeed IMO necause they will put their hearts in it. They are the ones who will change themselves, improve themselves, so that they can keep representing the badge, and they won't leave until they're kicked out. If Mou is willing to conform to the club's traditions I'd take him over Guardiola because Pep did not do the same at Bayern. Call me crazy, but I think if Mou lands the job managing us he'd set up shop for as long as we'll have him.
Pochettino is a good shout. I really like what he's done with Tottenham, he tries to get young players, and he's proven in the PL. His 4-2-3-1 is very fluid and dynamic, and I like how his forwards play together. It's a very organic looking style with plenty of movement and an emphasis on interplay, and I think with the right funds, backing, and players, he could really create something special. I'd be pretty excited if we signed him on as manager.
I'm not as excited about Conte. I'm not a fan of two striker setups, and that's what he prefers. I like the way he sets up his midfield and defense though. 3 in the back is not a hopeless style and can work quite well, but I'm not sure how great it is against the very best sides. It seems to have come up lacking whenever a team with 3 CBs faced an equally or more talented side. Allegri switched to a standard 4 man defense and went to the CL final with, if I remember correctly, a pretty similar looking team. Could be wrong as I can't remember who they signed that summer.
Sampaoli I'm the least familiar with of the bunch. I know Chile has done well under him, but I'm not too familiar with his tactics. Can you break it down for me if you're familiar?
I'm not sure if I'm as doubtful of Guardiola's ability to put together a team. I find his tactics more suspect myself. Yes, he did inherit fantastic players, but he seems to have a good eye for talent and his teams gel very well. At Barca he got rid of the older guys and built on the young up and comers. At Bayern it's harder to say how big his influence was because he really inherited more players (Boateng, Neuer, Lahm, Alaba, Mueller, Martinez, Robbery, who are all central to his team, and he wanted to build around Kroos but couldn't because of wage disputes), and because the board mostly handles transfers. I'm not sure how much he impacted those signings, but if it was his choice to sign Coman and Costa, then he needs to take a bow for that. Those guys are tearing it up.
But yeah, his tactics? They don't work so well against the big teams. His possession play took the world by storm and nobody had an answer for it, but since moving to Bayern his track record against the bigger teams has been sensationally bad. His sides seem made for bulldozing small teams week-in, week-out, but with some good tactics they are easily countered. This season looks a lot different because he's changed his tactics really significantly, but there are still familiar weaknesses defensively. Plus, it can't be overlooked that Bayern boasts the best all-around GK in the world, a minimum top 5 CB, arguably still the best RB in the world, and the clear-cut best LB in the world. Boateng just got injured, so let's see how resilient his tactics really are defensively, because it's almost harder to not have a great defensive record with those players than to have one.
Attacking-wise I've found his tactics impressive this season though, no doubts about it. His team will exploit weaknesses you didn't even realize existed and will rip you apart in any way required. Hell, against BVB they played long balls over the top through Boateng because that was the best way to hit them. A Guardiola side. F***ing long balls over the top! Ludicrous! lol
I'd agree our spine is better than Citeh's. We also have players that would surely suit his tastes better and that he'd love to work with in the 3 you mentioned (Martial, Memphis, Pereira) plus Lingard (Pep loves Mueller), Blind and Herrera. I'm sure he'd also love to work with those 3 in particular. I also think he'd make a really great CB out of McNair. Citeh don't have nearly the quantity of "Guardiola" players that we do.
Also, 2 more things that count in our favour. Guardiola chose Bayern, IIRC, because the club values mirrored his own. United is THE club in England that matches the Barcelona/Bayern type. Our club is a family (players, fans and managers), our heroes are revered, we love to bring through youth, (we're red) we're a traditional club, and we have a long history. The other thing that counts specifically against City is that Guardiola said it might be 2 years before he manages in the PL. Granted, it could just be an attempt to take the focus off Pellegrini losing his job, but everyone and their mother knows that if Pep quit Bayern today, he'd have either the City or Chelsea job tomorrow if he wanted it. The only clubs he'd have to wait for are United and Arsenal. I feel like it's either us or the Gunners he chooses, but I can't pick one as being more likely than the other.
Yeah I definitely agree we need a cleaning out. Ed Woodward is a freakin genius when it comes to getting sponsorships, so he definitely should be kept on board to handle the financial side of things, but the man doesn't know any football. DoF is the answer. Every other top club is doing it, and we need to follow suit. Sammer has done an amazing job at Bayern, and we need someone similar.
I fear the Glazers will never leave. Not unless we pull a Leeds. Too much money in the club, why would anyone want to relinquish their hold on it?
The Newcastle match wasn't bad. Shaw is definitely being missed. Rodriguez in midfield is actually a very interesting prospect. I also think he could do very well there. In a box-to-box role he could be a revelation. Another option, and this should only be considered if Memphis really does end up flopping, is to play Rodriguez and Shaw as a rotating wing partnership. Both are capable of playing as wingers, and both are great FBs. They could interchange freely and cover for the other, plus they should be capable of some great interplay. It would be a nightmare to play against. I won't lie, it's a tactic I've wanted to see implemented for years lol.
Seriously, we should sign Laporte. We need a CB, he's top of the line, and Bilbao really aren't that hard to deal with. The club knows the process now. Give the player the money to pay the release clause, pay the tax, and they can't say anything. No negotiations necessary.
Liverpool was a mess of a match. Glad we won, but also somewhat disappointed we didn't because I couldn't help but feel that LvG would have bit the dust if we'd lost against 'pool. Short term pain for long term gain. Oh well.
Yeah it really sucks that we've seen the right qualities but never together. 4-3-3 would definitely be the way to go if we were full strength, and I really like your lineup, but right now I think we should be looking at replicating the 3-3-3-1 (or rather an unorthodox 3-1-4-2) vs Swansea (yes I realize I just bashed 3 in the back above lol) with a personal tweak I'd like to see. BTW more on this later because I wanted to ask something.
CBJ is too young to be relied upon consistently right now IMO, and with Young also out we have nobody to play on the left who will help cover for him. Agreed on Fellaini and Schneiderlin being paired as 6s. That was an unmitigated disaster. I also noticed none of them really wanted the ball.
It looks odd, but bare with me for a sec. The back 3 consists of our only 3 healthy defenders. All 3 stay back primarily, but Blind is given more license to dictate play from deep. Schneiderlin plays an almost purely defensive game, filling in holes in our defensive line or shielding the back 3 as needed. Herrera and Fellaini play b2b roles and supplement the defensive line as needed, while Herrera is tasked with bringing the ball forward and dictate play from midfield, and Fellaini gets forward into the box to create space for the other attackers and get his head to crosses.
That's all pretty standard, but now it gets more interesting. Because Blind has the most freedom to get forward of the CBs and he's positioned on the left, he can easily fill in as a LB while Schneiderlin fills the gap defensively, maintaining a strong back 3. Blind stays wide to hold the width on the left, leaving Martial to cut inside to the byline as he likes to do, or try to line up a goal. Memphis plays on the right because he's been utterly useless cutting in onto his stronger foot and shooting, but I think that if he's given create-first instructions he could actually be quite good. From the right, he can maintain width on the right to stretch the defense to create more space in the middle for Fellaini, Martial, Roo and Lingard, and when he gets the ball he can aim for Fellaini at the far post. Rooney plays a 9.5 role in the middle. He's neither a pure 9 or a 10, so we should play to that as a strength. It will keep opponents on their toes if Fellaini bombs into the box and Rooney drops back to line up for a shot. Lingard, for the sake of the argument lets call him a 9.5 as well, plays a very positionally free role. With Memphis and Blind stretching play on the left and right, Fellaini drawing attention with his size, Martial commanding the attention of at least 2 defenders, and Rooney hopefully keeping defenders wary of a long range goal threat, Lingard would pretty much operate in the shadows like Mueller does. He zips around and creates space for others, or pops up where defenders least want him to pop up. His lack of end-product wouldn't be such a big deal, because in my setup here he'd mostly be required to cause havoc rather than actually score the goals. Plus, his versatility allows him to overload any of the attacking areas or cover for a player if they want to swap sides or try a different approach.
That's what I'd do right now. We've played basically this formation before, with a similar game-plan, so I don't think it's impossible to see something like this. Defensively it can be really strong if our players show the right work ethic, and I've been impressed lately in that regard from Martial and Memphis, so I think it should be fine. Thoughts?
Once we are full strength though we need that 4-1-2-3, definitely. LvG is making so many of the same mistakes as last season that I really am starting to suspect he's losing his mind and going senile.
So, back to that 3-3-3-1 we played vs Swansea. Do you think that was, as people are saying, Giggs in charge? I can't see LvG ever giving anyone that kind of control over the team, but at the same time there are too many factors pointing to it not having been him in charge to ignore. First of all, it was one of the exceedingly rare occasions Young started as an attacker. LvG deployed him as a FB before and after that game. It was a very one-off that he started as RW. It was a back 3, which we have rarely used this season, and never, I believe, started in, especially with the players we had available. We had a lone holding midfielder, and 2 b2b CMs, which we haven't seen this season pretty much at all. So many things about this match were such a one-off that it's hard not to consider it as someone else's team, but then again LvG is a control freak. That was also when he was at his lowest point, confidence wise, however so you never know. I'm beginning to suspect, with each passing performance forsaking what we saw that day, that it was in fact Giggs in charge, or at the very least not LvG in charge. What do you think?
I absolutely hate it when that happens. What I've been doing for a while now is ctrl-a and copy before I hit post. Usually there's one problem word that causes your reply not to post. No idea why.
Thanks for the video, it was really awesome. A lot of the FullTimeDevils' guy's points are similar to how I feel. United is the Bayern/Barca of England, and Pep likes those kinds of clubs. LvG has put down the foundation for him to come and build a side that plays his style of football. I think United just makes the most sense for Guardiola if you don't just look at the objective facts of the players/setup/etc available to him and instead look at it from a more human standpoint. Guardiola is a romantic, perhaps the biggest in world football, and United and Liverpool are the only 2 clubs in England that match that romanticism (maybe Arsenal too, but not nearly as much).
That is a good point about Guardiola potentially not being available anymore. I think that can be worked around by just making it very clear that Giggs is the interim manager for now. The club can then be free to contact Guardiola's people and try to work out a deal, which shouldn't be a very quick job considering how many clubs are after him. It should give us enough time to judge Giggs somewhat, because if he is a world class manager in the making, he'll have shown his promise in the first couple months. Even if things aren't working out perfectly on the pitch, we'll be able to see what he's building towards and what he wants to do; his vision, in other words. If we see that what he wants to do is something that can really work, and the players look fully behind him, then I would be for giving him the job over Guardiola.
Ideally, LvG would have been fired weeks ago so we could already see what Giggs can do. The thing is that even though Guardiola is rightfully considered one of the best in the business, there are aspects to what he does that I don't like. He often tries to be too smart, and it doesn't always work out, like playing a back 3 vs Barca. He can be incredibly stubborn about players, like LvG, and he loves to shuffle players around (Lahm in midfield while constantly starting Rafinha at RB, who's at a Tottenham level at best). His setup is ultra attacking in nature, and leaves huge gaps defensively that the right teams can take advantage of. And he's always had players considered among the best in the world at his disposal, so I'm not sure how good he would be with lesser players. The question that comes to mind is: does Guardiola make his players the best in the world, or have his players been the best in the world and has that influenced the idea that Guardiola is the best in the world?
Look at Lucho at Barca. That team won a second treble. Bayern won the treble under Heynckes, and made it to 3 CL finals in the 4 seasons before Pep arrived, and haven't made it past the semi's since. I think he's a great manager, but I think we value him a bit differently. He would be the best fit for us if Giggs doesn't work out, IMO, but I don't think it's the end of the world if we don't land him, as I'm not yet fully convinced of his status as the best in the world after seeing his work closeup at Bayern.
The Swansea match was interesting to me. I'm 100% convinced LvG needs to go though, and that was before that comment. He just seems lost and confused. I liked the formation though. 3-3-3-1 in my eyes, with Mata playing more of a right sided CAM type role and Rooney in more of a left sided ST role, dropping back to make space for Martial to cut in. I wonder if this was Giggs' idea or LvG's? I think LvG wouldn't give Giggs such creative freedom with the team, but it's hard to imagine that LvG though of this setup when he's played such a rigid system all season.
Agreed on Young, definitely. He knows how to tear it up in the PL, and I think he's even more effective on the left, but I like Martial there too. If Martial plays up front, Young needs to be on the left always, because the threat of cutting inside onto his stronger foot gives him much better versatility and makes him a nightmare to defend against. I've been against using him at FB from the start, and it's just astounding that after last season when LvG used him early on at FB/WB then discovered he's actually best as an attacker, he does the EXACT same thing this season. Has he gone senile?
Ditto on Jones too. He needs to develop maturity through experience to become a better player, but he can't get that because he's always injured. He'll be one of those players that never fulfills his promise, like Badstuber. McNair I'm willing to cut some more slack for, since he barely plays. If he gets an extended run in the team I'd be interested to see if his performance level is raised or if it stays the same.
YES! A Director of Football is what I've wanted since Fergie retired. It's exactly what we need with how corporate and business-oriented our upper management is. Plus, a Director of Football ensures that there is a natural progression and retention of club identity when switching managers.
And great minds think alike, because G. Nev is exactly who I want as our DoF too. He knows the club inside out, he embodies what we stand for, he came through the ranks, he knows football, and he ensures our identity is intact regardless of who we sign. Plus, if Giggs ends up being a huge success as a manager, it'd be way too cool to have him and Neville leading the club lol.
Felipe Anderson hasn't made any good impressions on me. I don't think he's fast enough, his close control is good enough, or his decision making is good enough to cut it at a top club. Way too much like Nani, but I think Nani was better on his day. If Nani couldn't cut it, what hope does that leave Anderson?
Mane doesn't convince me either. I look at him play, and I think, how high is his ceiling really? He looks fast, and strong, and direct. He looks like another Valencia. I'm not convinced by him. If he was a 15-20m player I'd say go for it, but at that cost pfffft forget it.
RW I'm not convinced we desperately need right now since we are already out of the CL. If we can find a proper target and they are available for a reasonable amount, go for it by all means. But if not, Young on the right and Martial on the left looks good enough to beat anyone in the PL to me. Our youngsters, Memphis, and Mata can all cover there too. In the summer we definitely need someone if we hope to compete in the CL, but right now for just the league, I think we can wait.
I'd target a CB or a LB, not both. Shaw is injured long term, but he is still our long term LB. Anyone signed must be aware that they are second choice unless they prove themselves superior, so that means (due to Shaw's age) they'd have to either be old or young, nobody near their prime. An older player like an Evra, since I'm seeing that name thrown around a lot, wouldn't be too bad to have an experienced alternative to Shaw and a more experienced leader in the back. They'd need to be reasonably priced though.
For CB we should forget about Stones and his English premium and just go for Laporte. Smalling is developing into a rock of a CB, and we need a playmaking CB beside him. Laporte is it.
The reason I'm saying we should go for one or the other is Blind. If he's seen as a long term CB then we should go for a LB so he doesn't have to play "out of position" to cover for Shaw. If he's seen as a LB then sign a CB. If he's seen as a midfielder though (which LvG doesn't seem to see him as right now) we might need both, but not right now in January. In that case I say sign a LB right now and a CB in summer.
Striker is a tricky one. Rooney has actually looked better these last two games, and Martial is already breathing down his neck to start. I think Martial is better, right now at least, on the left, but LvG is sticking with Rooney. James Wilson could be recalled, like Will Keane was, and then it miiiight be enough? It's hard to say. Nobody we sign, and who would improve us, would want to sit so firmly behind Rooney. Wilson seems like the ideal fit for me, and LvG just needs to give him some more trust.
Actually, if I'm being honest, if we were to play Mata at CAM, Young at RW and Martial at LW like we did against Swansea, then Lingard might be an awesome choice to play ST for us. Mata and Martial are both proven goalscorers, and Lingard's movement and positioning would be an ideal match for their play styles.
We could always use another experienced striker though. It's hard to say haha.