Dirty City, Salah vs Torres, Benitez, Rangnick at Man Utd and more…

Are Man City dirty? Will Rafa Benitez get sacked? What will Ralf Rangnick achieve in six months at Man Utd? Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com


Rafa won’t get sacked…
Well, that happened. Everton received the humbling we were expecting, albeit with a very ‘Evertonesque’ period of effort and application. I was going to attempt a bastardised 16 conclusions but Matt Stead did a good job of summing up. Where I’d differ is that I don’t think Rafa will get sacked. I can’t see where the next manager would come from.

We’re essentially going to be shopping at Netto for players for the foreseeable and we’re not attracting top managers if we do that. Coax Graham Potter from Brighton? Give Rooney a crack? Give it Big Dunc until the end of the season? There’s a lot of answers to questions no-one’s asking. The essential fact is we’re on relegation form and we need to steady this ship, sharpish.

The game was poor, and I think the imperious Liverpool didn’t even play especially well, but they didn’t need to. The players need to look at themselves and make the connection that when we could see them making an effort (after Gray’s goal until HT and for the first 5/10 of the second half), the fans were firmly behind them. That effort level is the minimum expectation from here on out. It was toxic inside Goodison at times last night but if we turn in a similarly limp showing on Monday against Arsenal, it’ll get that bad again.

Time for some of these players to have a reality check and realise that when we say Nil Satis Nisi Optimum, it’s not a slogan, it’s a prerequisite of playing for the club.
Joe M


Everton woes or just woeful?
I decided to wait untl the morning to write this as anything i wrote last night would (rightly) be un-publishable.

Rafa must go. ASAP. Hes not the only problem but he is a significant problem. Basically the same squad were 6th-7th at this stage last season. The board must be pruned significantly too. Brands must go, far too many duds. Bill Kenright undoubtledy loves the club but has to go.

Of our current squad its hard to  really say how many are fit for purpose. Purpose being top half/challenging for a CL place. I’m not utterly delusional and suggesting breaking into the top 3. Thats set for probably a long time to come.

So who do we have?

Pickford. Much better keeper than the haters will ever give him credit for. Apparently he injured VVD so he is just the worst keeper ever.
Godfrey, very good youngish defender.
Keane, solid, not amazing but generally solid.
Mina, very hit and miss. Can be excellent, often makes mistakes too
Dacoure, genuine class
Allan, very good, solid midfielder
Townsend, are we seeing the real Townsend now after an early purple patch? Too early to judge
Grey, probably our best player at the moment.
Richarlison, very good, too prone to silly tackles but head and shoulders above Rondon
DCL, need him back ASAP

All the rest either not good enough or too old.

Biggest disappointment to me is Digne. Was brilliant maybe 18 months ago. Has dropped off the planet in terms of performance.
Seamus Coleman we all love but he is just too old now. It happens.

Injuries happen but a squad with at best 9 players good enough is never going to compete at the top half. Yes DCL is a massive loss but when his replacement s just awful it says a lot.

So in conclusion Rafa out UNLESS he drops loads of the woefully underperforming players and gives youth a chance. We all know he wont, I look forward to seeing Rondon starting upfront continuing his blistering form of 0 goals and 0 assists.

God its depressing. Can we go back to talking about Covid?
Steve Limerick Ireland

Current Man City side or the Arsenal Invincibles?
Look I get it’s all subjective and people will take joy out of different things.

If you genuinely prefer this City team to the Invincibles team then that’s fine but I’ve never held up the number of goals a team scores as any great indicator of how interesting they are.

Mourinho’s Chelsea team scored a heck of a load of goals and George Graham’s team of the early 1990s also scored goals aplenty – winning the league with only one defeat and battering Liverpool 4-0 as champions in 1992.

And I loved George Graham and his team but they were never as fun to watch as Wenger’s and that’s just my opinion.

Everyone has their own bias. But even in Liverpool’s case I’d much rather watch Houghton, Barnes, Beardsley and Aldridge than this current lot.

P.S. United have 20 titles which makes them the country’s most successful team – not Liverpool. Arsenal remain third in case anyone’s wondering.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Dirty City 2
Thank you Scott, COYS
for pointing out Man City’s frequent fouling. As a Villa fan I put it down to my bias that every niggly foul was frustrating or I was overthinking it, it’s good to know non-Villa fans spotted it too.

It’s one of the reasons I can’t get on board with City hype. I have really enjoyed watching Liverpool and Chelsea play this season but City leave me cold. It is the arrogance of it all. I’m sure we’ve all played with/against players that are better than us but are also nasty with it. Chris Baker, I’m talking about you. You can’t appreciate their skill while they are tapping your ankles at every opportunity.

Yes, it’s a tactic we all know about but doesn’t make it any less annoying when you finally beat their press and get dumped on the floor on the halfway line.

I will say Pep introducing Grealish when he did was a masterstroke. Momentum was building, the crowd were getting right behind the team and making it hostile for city… Bringing Grealish on changed the focus of the crowd and calmed things down again.

I loved Dean Smith as a man and manager but seeing Steven Gerrard almost seething because he lost gives me the tingles…
Funstar Andy


In reply to the somewhat naive email from Scott, COYS, I actually sent a text to the BBC Matchfeed, last night, stating, “Some curious decision making from the Merseyside-based Mike Dean, tonight” which sadly wasn’t published. Throughout the game, I thought the Villa players had had instruction to absolutely make the most of any contact, whatsoever, from the City players. In fact, one ‘foul’ on Marvellous Nakamba was repeated on MOTD to show that he moved away from Rodri (I think) to give himself the space to throw himself to the floor. My Scouse missus, watching the game, huffed in disgust at it. A mate of mine texted me to vent his spleen at Dean’s repeated inability to see what was actually happening.

Furthermore, this inability to see what was happening wasn’t relaying itself back to City. The corner that Watkins scored from should never have been given due to the shove in the back that caused Zinchenko to concede the corner in the first place, which was dished out by the diving, argumentative cheat that is Ashley Young.

If perhaps Scott could see what’s really happening instead of what he WANTS to happen, then he’d be able to see the bigger picture, that’s all I’m saying.

Oh and by the way, does everyone remember the times when we City fans booed Academy graduate, Shaun Wright-Phillips after his big money move to Chelsea to win trophies? No, neither do I…

Just trying to help
Levenshulme Blue, M19

Amen Simon.

When Leeds played Man City last season, and fluked a 2-1 victory, Fernandinho put in a tackle on Raphinha with absolutely no intention of winning the ball, to prevent a clear breakaway.

The punishment? A yellow card. Raphinha? Spent time on the side lines due to a hematoma. We had to make do without our best player for a number of games because of the cynical way in which Man City play. This makes the Struijk red vs Liverpool even more infuriating.

The perception seems to be that because the big clubs dominate possession, that they don’t foul, but the teams who have to win the ball back do unfairly.

It stinks.
Mat, Leeds


Derby pleasure…
Look, I’m a Liverpool fan, so could spend a while purring about the game itself, but there’s been 16 conclusions as well as a few chirpy mails with more, I’m sure, to come.

Instead I’m going to praise Jon Champion and Ally McCoist. What a joy it was to listen to their commentary. To the combination of clarity, actually knowing and following what was going on, and two men taking simple pleasure in each other’s company. They sounded like they were having fun watching this football game.

No, it wasn’t the football-nerd tactics focused, Emma Hayes-style stuff that I wish we could get, but it was a reminder that this stuff can be good. It can add to the experience.

Amazon, as a whole, have done a really solid job presenting their games, but these two stood out last night, and it makes me sad that they’re no longer in the main rotation with the freedom to talk as they do.

Oh, except the one weird bit where Champion had to do that very fast-talking, American-style advertising of future events. That felt weird.
Andrew M


Salah vs Torres
After yet another wonderful performance from Salah, I wondered who the mailbox think is better: Salah or Torres at his Liverpool prime?

For me, Torres still shades it. He was absolutely majestic at his best with a bit more of an all-round game, but as much as it pains me, Salah is something incredible.

As a secondary question, Salah or Henry? For me, I don’t think I could split them. Forget Messi and Ronaldo, players like that are the beautiful game.


Winning is boring…
I might be peculiar but I get very little enjoyment from watching Liverpool or City in their full pomp.  After Liverpool had 900 shots in the first 9 minutes of the derby it was obvious that Everton were in for a hiding and in the absence of any competitiveness I got the same sense of excitement as watching a preseason exhibition.  All sport is most exciting when there’s back and forth, when two competitors are evenly matched and both just go for it.  Without jeopardy football is boring.

It all depends who you support though doesn’t it?  I’m not going to defend the Invincibles too much but as an Arsenal fan it was the most pant-wettingly excited I’ve ever been with football.  I imagine as a neutral it was so dull watching scoreless draws with Fulham and Newcastle but as an Arsenal fan it was enough to keep the buzz going.  We were on the unbeatable train and every stop where we didn’t lose was enough.  I couldn’t care less if Liverpool score 1000 goals this season because I’m not on their train.

Arsenal fans were thrilled by the goals but also by the last ditch tackles, midfield battles and the dread that it could all end with one counter attack.  The dominance of Liverpool and CIty leaves me with just mute appreciation of the quality of the inevitable goals but little else.
SC, Belfast


What will Rangnick achieve in six months?
Mark asks what do Mailboxers think Rangnick will achieve in 6 months. The short answer is I’m expecting him to bring a greater focus on tactics and teamwork and for the players to know exactly what their role is and how it fits into the bigger picture.

I’m expecting never again to have to listen to a United player say “we don’t know what to do with the ball” after a match with a team in a relegation battle.

What I’m not expecting is for Ronaldo to suddenly become the greatest proponent of gegenpress.

Rangnick, by all accounts, seems to be a bit of a tactics nerd. To be clear, I’m not using that as an insult, I’m saying he seems to be a guy who lives and breathes the tactical side of the game. That’s what United have been missing. At the moment it seems that United are simply trying to survive in each match, until one or two of the forwards produce something out of nothing. The players aren’t going out there with a plan on how to make those moments of magic happen.

Over the course of the six months, we have to be realistic of the expectations. It’s quite possible that United will be in 11th by the time Rangnick officially takes charge. Therefore, an excellent result for United and Rangnick would be to finish 4th. That would require a complete turnaround in fortunes. I would also say winning the FA Cup and finishing 5th is an excellent result. After that, the minimum expectation has to be to qualify for the Europa League, ideally without relying on City, Liverpool, and/or Chelsea winning the Cups.

In the longer-term, I expect Rangnick to undertake a root and branch analysis of everything on the footballing side. He has to be involved in the search for the permanent manager to ensure that whomever is appointed can work with him and that they both have a similar view on what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it. Presumably the ‘consulting role’ title is because any other title would lead to questions about what it is ‘football director’ John Murtough and ‘technical director’ Darren Fletcher are actually doing.

As an aside, given the current discussions on who deserves to be where in the Ballon D’Or list, I think United under Solskjaer shows how over-emphasised individual awards are in a team game. Take Salah, for example. He’s on 19 goals in 19 games this season for Liverpool – would he have scored anywhere near that if he was in this United team? Not a chance. Liverpool don’t simply hope for him to produce a moment of magic, they actively set up situations for him to produce them. Salah is only able to show how great he is because the 10 other guys on the pitch are all working towards allowing him to show it.

PS – I expect the very first thing Rangnick to do is to park in that f~*king spot!


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