Man City’s Real meltdown offers further proof that Kevin De Bruyne is overrated…

The Mailbox reacts to another ridiculous semi and another Man City bottle job in the Champions League. Even Kevin De Bruyne cops it – but Pep Guardiola bears the brunt.

Get your views in to in time for the afternoon mailbox…


KDB overrated, City bottled it
For many a mail over many a year, I have been making the case that Kevin De Bruyne is an overrated, luxury player who persistently underperforms on the biggest stage.

And now you are starting to hear the pundits whisper it ever so gently. Viewpoints that were considered fringe madness are actually coming to pass. You hear them question the prince with “ he doesn’t have those standout moments” and “he doesn’t dominant big games BUT he is still a top player”.

You can convince yourself that assists against the fodder in an overwhelmingly superior team are evidence of greatness, or you can look at the reality that this guy just isn’t in the same conversation of your Modric and Kroos types.

Manchester City have bottled this season. It’s a massive capitulation. Forget magic of football. This is the cold, hard reality of a bottle job.
Jamie, Eire


No City swagger
So having just watched another man city collapse in the champions League again something struck me.

They had a 1 goal advantage which became a 2 goal advantage but city didn’t have that confidence and swagger that they have in the premier League.

In the premier League most teams capitulate to city before the game even begins, and city know it.

But in Europe city always look nervy and unsure. Like the new kid in school. And I think that’s part of the problem. In the premier League they’re the biggest fish in a smaller pond taking into account recent success, finances, playing staff.
In Europe though, they’re an average fish up against much older, more experienced and more confident sharks.

Even with a two goal deficit Madrid still looked like a team who believed they would go through. Even though they’d been awful for 90 mins.

If guardiola wants a champs league trophy with city he’s gonna have to give them that confidence and swagger that they have in the premier League, because this is three years in a row when City should have tasted success in Europe and went home early.

And every year that city don’t win it cements the idea that maybe guardiola only ever won it because he just happened to be in charge of one of the greatest teams in history, with one of the greatest players in history and they already had one under their belt from rijkaard prior. Was pep just lucky enough to land in that Barca team? Certainly looks that way.

Guardiola and Manchester City succumb to their most ludicrous Champions League exit yet


…How in the name of s**t did this game happen. It was literally so ludicrously boring for about 89 minutes. It was like a textbook game where Pep exerted full control over the game and then next thing you know the world collapsed in a black hole of absolute f**king chaos.

I don’t watch a whole lot of Spanish football but am struggling to understand why Camavinga doesn’t start for Madrid. He is so fast and sexy I really liked the look of him. I feel like he did the job i’d like Naby Keita to do. He was the best midfielder on the pitch tonight and I felt he looked great in his short cameo against Chelsea too.

Let’s be Frank for a second. This Real Madrid team is no joke and I’m definitely going to be nervous about playing them in the final. I don’t think they ever know when they’re dead and I don’t think there’s a scoreline you can achieve against them that would make you feel safe. In addition they’ve already won the league so they have 3 weeks to do nothing but to prepare for the final. Perhaps it’s the gift and the curse but for a manager like Ancelotti I bet he can do a lot with that time.

Did anyone else think De Bruyne had another poor showing in another big game? He’s not at the level of Ozil but he does often seem to disappear in big games. Benzema and Vinicius were both well marshalled but City didn’t really show a great deal going forward to kill off the tie. Even the Mahrez goal looked more like awful footwork from Courtois rather than a good goal. The bigger question though is when the chips were down who in that team had the balls to stand up and be counted? Did Man City actually have a shot on target in extra time? I think they totally collapsed under the pressure which is pretty underwhelming for a £1bn football team.

Where do Man City go from here? I’m sure another £100m will be spent to try and complete the sportswashing project but questions need to be asked of the transfer policy in general. Why was Grealish the priority when he’s added so little and why is Fernandinho still being relied on in so many key games. Why did City spend the summer trying to bin Bernardo Silva when he’s been their best midfielder all season. It feels a bit like they’re making weird decisions Year after year but the sheer amount of money they have to keep throwing at the problem ensures some level of continued success.
Minty, LFC


Sympathy for City
Never thought I would be ushering these words but City have been hard done by.

Don’t get me wrong, my preferred opponent before the game kicked off was definitely Real Madrid because I am tired of the sight of Guardiola and City but over two games, City were the better team, Madrid just had the better individuals. Ref had me yelling at the TV as well mind you, not even remotely consistent.

I don’t know what this Real Madrid team is made of but holy shit they can score from anywhere at any time. 24 days for Klopp to prepare his team for this Real yet i feel like nothing can prepare you for what they will throw at Liverpool. I cannot wait for the Final. a lot of alcohol will be consumed before, during and after.
Nik (city to collapse in the league now? probably not…), Munich


No sympathy for Pep
I can’t believe what I’m seeing tonight.

No part of my brain can comprehend how Pep thought bringing off KDB in a semi final of the champions league in the bernebeu for anything other than a broken limb was a good idea.

Utter madness again from Pep on Europe’s biggest stage.


…I would give my right arm for Guardiola to be the manager of my club (Villa). I think we all would. He would greatly improve any team he manages.

This loss though, has to go down as me of the greatest defeats for him and his ego. To have spent £100m on Jack Grealish, a player he didn’t need and ignore the blatant requirement for a striker is damning of arrogance of the highest order.

Pundits on TV were praising a style of football where a striker wasn’t necessary. A decent striker and this match would have been settled a week ago.
Ps – don’t take anything away from Madrid. That is a legendary comeback of the highest order.


…He’s still never won it without Messi.

Just saying


…Great semi final!

You have to give City some credit though, for Pep to get them to another CL semi on a shoestring budget is commendable, the owners need to back the poor man!
Paul, Luton


Difference between Klopp and Pep
From a Liverpool fan here: I believe this Manchester city collapses time and time again in the champions league because their manager does not empower them to make critical decisions. He doesn’t trust them. That’s evident in their mentality. Jack Grealish is a player who has taken responsibility his whole career to deliever a result and run at the defenses. Not once in extra time when the whole Madrid team is gassed did he challenge carvajal. He doesn’t believe in himself, he doesn’t believe he’s capable of taking responsibility, and it’s because the manager has them all by the balls. Say what you want about Klopp and mentality monsters, but that comes down to players believing in themselves because their manager believes they are capable of solving their own problems.


Two legs good, one leg bad
Yes UEFA. We definitely need to get rid of 2 legged semi finals. Good call.
Mike, LFC, London


…Whoever is proposing to get rid of two legged champions league ties needs to be fired into the sun.
Dan, Plastic LFC

Champions League ‘festival of football’ plans are yet another affront to supporters


Celebrate good times
Watching the crazy celebrations at the full-time whistle, I’m guessing Madrid won away at West Ham?
Stewie Griffin (seriously Pep, sign a number 9 because this is getting ridiculous now)


Clueless Kev
At work the other day one of my colleagues stated that rugby was the greatest sport ever.

In your face Kevin…
Robbie DFC (Just heading into extra time but hoping for a penalty shootout)


Dear Editor, would you mind publishing whatever draft of F365 Says had been written as of the 89th minute of Real Madrid – Manchester City?

Danny, Austin Spurs


Whatever happens now, this is success
Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Lucas, Can, Coutinho, Lallana, Origi, Milner. On the bench: Bogdan, Toure, Allen, Sinclair, Texiera and Randall.

It’s sometimes easy to forget how far Liverpool have come from Jurgen Klopp’s first Liverpool game. When discussing the fantastic job he’s done, Klopp is sometimes a victim of his own success. He’s been criticised (admittedly by idiots) for “only” winning one league title and one Champions league title as if the expectation was greater than that when he took over. Just look again at that first line up. Look at the bench! Did anyone seriously believe that this is where Liverpool would be now?

A rebuild of that nature would be impressive even if they had outspent their rivals. United and Everton have proved money doesn’t buy success. It takes skill. Liverpool are the 6th highest spenders in England and 15th highest in Europe (gross, not net) during Klopp’s reign. It’s genuinely astonishing that he has managed to turn Liverpool into the side they are today.

He has just steered Liverpool to their 3rd Champions League final (and 4th European final) under his management. That is absolutely remarkable. Only a handful of coaches have taken the same club to 3 European cup finals. In the Champions League era, I think Ferguson and Zidane are the only other coaches to do this. To produce that level of consistency is incredibly hard to do.

Success is easy to get used to so you have to think back and remember the before times. Prior to Klopp taking over we finished 7th, 6th, 8th, 7th, 2nd & 6th. Just to play in the Champions League was an ambition at that point. To make 3 finals in 5 years is success beyond even the wildest expectation.

There was discussion yesterday in the mailbox yesterday about what success looks like and whether only a league cup this season would be a failure. Of course, now, at this point, to be in 2 finals and a point off the Premier League summit, it would be very disappointing. But it wouldn’t take away from how thrilling it is to be a Liverpool fan right now. Yes, as a fan you want to win things, but you also want to play matches that matter. To take part in the big occasions and be involved. Klopp and this Liverpool team have given us that. So whatever happens between now and the end of May, this is a season we will never forget.
Mike, LFC, London


A full season
This may sound a bit pedantic, but with all the coverage about how Liverpool are now going to play all the games possible in a season, surely this is not quite true.

To play all the games possible in a season, it would surely have to include playing in the Charity Shield, the European Super Cup, and the World Club Championship as well.

Just sayin like.
Pedro’s Moustache


Emery at it again
I only watched the second half of the wonderful second leg between Villareal and Liverpool (Seriously UEFA, focus on corrupt sources of funding rather than the idea of removing the two legged semi tie). I must admit, when I saw Villareal 2-0 up, I felt a certain sense of joy at the idea that Liverpool fans would be birthing kittens as Aidan eloquently put it.

However, as an Arsenal fan (and I am sure I was not the only one), I knew what was coming. Emery was going to let go of the initiative, park the bus, and hope to win in the last fifteen or take it to pens. Even if my assessment of his objectives are wrong, there was little doubt that he was going to stop his team from attacking. It is the kind of mentality and method that has cost him so many big leads or leads to outcomes where even a team like Watford could post 30 shots at goal.

Emery seems like a lovely bloke and I do think his communication methods or language got a lot of unnecessary grief in England. He is also a fantastic manager who understands opponents well. Just that he will tailor EVERY game to the opponent instead of playing to his team’s strengths and imposing their style. Quite the opposite of Wenger who would never tailor his team to the opponent except on extremely rare occasions. But point being, he often lacks the fortitude to take big risks and not tamper with the flow of the game when it is working for him.

Could he have done better at Arsenal or maybe even a Madrid if given time? I think he could, if he had shown more (for the lack of better word) balls or is able to do that in the future.


Optimistic Gunner
Another important win for Arsenal over the weekend has seen some sort of redemption for Arteta and his team. The team was solid and these 3 wins have shifted the momentum onto us after the 3 losses.

We have also secured European competition for next season which if it was achieved at the end of the season would have been a good season by us. It is testament to the progress that we have made that we want more and being in a position to be able to achieve more is huge credit to Arteta and the coaching crew.

What this means for Arsenal is that we can buy better players for the campaign for next year. And with the success of the transfers at the club this season, we would be looking with optimism for the future transfers lined up by the club. Arteta has everyone pulling in the right direction with the culling of players like Auba, Özil, Guendouzi and Co.

The impact of the squad players like Holding, Nketiah and Elneny in particular have also been very impressive. Elneny came into the team and may be undroppable even when Partey returns at least till the season ends. He may not need to be rushed.

Based on this evidence, he and Nketiah should be given new contracts because we would need a bigger squad to compete for next season. One more thing that Arteta needs to learn is the ability to use more of the squad and not just a selected few. He also needs to learn to be ruthless when senior players are not performing. Willian was allowed to play for so long when it was obvious he wasn’t playing very well and now Laca was playing poorly for so long with Nketiah sitting on the bench.

We also didn’t see more of the Hale end products get some playing rime although when the main squad is overall young as well.

These are exciting fans to be Arsenal fans and the journey has been a roller coaster which the whole Arsenal team would benefit from.

That Amazon documentary would be real fun to watch.

Francis (Fully Arteta In) Redheart
Lagos. Nigeria


Game’s gone
First off, I’m an Arsenal fan so I have no skin in the game. Nor am I likely to even if we get 4th.

From my point of view, the problem is the current format of what I still call the European Cup. I long for the days when the only teams in it were the ones that had actually won something. You know, their domestic league.

It meant something.

Now, finishing 4th in one of the top European leagues gets you a seat at the top table. You’re not even the 3rd best team in your country mate, what are you doing here??? You’re champions of what?

I know it’s about money, money and probably a bit more money for UEFA and FIFA, but the romance is dead. I know in the old days of the European Cup the bigger teams still ended up victorious, but at least you got to see some of the so-called lesser teams (well, hear the game on the radio) compete in a meaningful knock-out game over two legs. It had some meaning. And jeopardy for the ‘bigger’ teams.

Now all we have is a bullsh*t group stage where finishing 3rd means you still get to play in the Europa League. Like Arsenal will if we finish 4th. I’ve come full circle.

‘The game has gone’ as someone said.
Stu, Gooner in France (too sad for something clever here)


Commentator’s delight
Sunday afternoon, Leeds will be at Arsenal, any commentator seeking notoriety will be desperate for an opportunity to emulate the classic Brian Johnston cricket quote with … “The Arsenal player’s Holding, the Leeds man’s Koch”.
Eagle in Exile by the sea near Athens in Greece

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