The real problem with Harry Maguire. And other mails…

The Mailbox pinpoints Man Utd’s mistake in signing Harry Maguire. Also: Roy Keane, and why we should cheer the f*** up over England. Keep your mails coming to


What’s really wrong with Maguire
I’m seeing a lot of back and forth between fans and pundits alike about Harry Maguire with nobody actually discussing what the problem is. Putting it down to he’s not fit mostly, which is pretty hard to swallow if you actually look at the type of mistakes being made, performances etc. It’s not Harry Maguire’s fault he’s pretty much a victim of circumstance. It’s Manchester Utd’s fault and here’s why.

They bought him not having a clue what type of style they where going to play in and not being up to date with the current formations and systems that are winning trophies in major tournaments over the past decade. A complete lack of having their finger on the footballing pulse at board level which continues to this day, hence the current cluster. I don’t know if it was sheer lack of knowledge or if it was arrogance that they thought they knew better but this Utd team was doomed before it ever got going. Buying players suited to completely different styles and ways of playing. (Wan Bissaka, Maguire, lindelhof, mctominay vs donny, sancho, pogba, Mata, lingard, martial) Then you add in the front three of ronaldo, greenwood and Rashford who have a more it all revolves around me style. Ronaldo warrants that as he is one of the greatest to ever do it but the other two at 19 and 23, who do they think they are? But that’s another story. My point being there’s three different styles in that squad. You’ve got the guys that suit the low block, guys that are good in possession based teams and then you have the show ponies that need a team to carry them defensively. A complete mess. Every player in the squad should all suit the same system more or less or what are you trying to achieve?

A prime example of systems and personnel type being a massive reason for form is Liverpool last year. Liverpool with van dijk, pen teams into their own half as van dijk allows them to do so. Thus allowing them to dominate games from start to finish. When the great centre back crisis of 20/21 happened at Liverpool they first persisted with that style with Nat Phillips and Rees Williams who would be in a Maguire mould and the teams form plummeted. Then klopp noticed this, dropped the line deeper to suit his players and used the pace and individual brilliance of the front three to win them games, steadied the ship and went back up to finishing 3rd. Went into the market and bought another cb. Not in the Maguire mood but more in the Virgil mould. Big, fast, good on the ball and is great in duels. Easier to do if you know what you are looking for and why. Utd have the same problem, they cannot keep varane on the pitch as his injury record suggested. But you honestly need two of similar abilities, you need a Batman and robin. Matip and Gomez are savagely underrated due to Virgil but are very good defenders in the Virgil type mould. Utd have varane and maybe Bailly in a raw sense but the rest are the wrong type. If you look at Ferdinand and vidic as Utd fans like to do you could argue vidic wasn’t the fastest but vidic made up for his speed with being great in the duel, nobody really got past him, a stopper so to speak. A luxury Maguire, lindelof and the like do not have.

Modern football is fast paced in attack but even more importantly massively on the front foot in defence. If you look at the great teams of the modern era, Barcelona, Bayern, Liverpool, Man City. They all play on the front foot and press, hunting in packs, being aggressive in their defence. Their back line higher up the pitch to condense the space and allow the greatest chance of winning the ball back quickly. If the lines do get broke, they have centre backs with the pace to recover well as that is the risk of playing the aggressive high line. Each team has a different way of which they do this tailored to their strengths but the fundamentals are the same.

So then you look at Harry Maguire and the teams he was consistently good for. Played for Sheffield United, Hull and Leicester. Sheffield Utd, sit deep and absorb pressure. Hull, sit deep and absorb pressure. And Leicester when Harry was there, sit deep and hit vardy on the counter.

Harry Maguire is fantastic at sitting in his 18 yard box blocking shots and clearing headers. NOT standing on the half way line having to win individual duels with strikers one on one and certainly not any over the top ball foot races. This is not me bashing Harry, this is fact.

So Manchester Utd buy Maguire and Wan Bissaka. Who came from a pressure absorbing team in Crystal Palace under Hodgson as well. Then wonder why they are not front foot defenders when they try to push the line further up the pitch.

The problem for Harry is Utd won’t win anything playing park the bus football as the elite teams have evolved past that. England essentially threw away the biggest opportunity to win a trophy since 66 playing negative defensive football in order to shield certain defensive frailties, instead of being brave and on the front foot with a back 4. You play three centre halfs when you do not think you have two that can cut it right? It’s strange that England and now Manchester Utd are having to play back threes when both are littered with attacking talent. This is why Maguire looks better for England than he does for his club and why Englands attackers look worse for England than for their clubs. It all gets papered over for England as they usually molly whop the weaker international teams anyway but then come unstuck against a modern playing team such as Italy all while having better players on paper.

So my opinion is Harry Maguire can be a good centre back for a defensive side but he doesn’t fit the more elite teams way of playing.

In summary Utd are snookered until replaced and England need to start picking stones Gomez timori and white as their potential 2 starting cbs. All comfortable in a back 4 sitting higher up the pitch and all playing for huge clubs with massive expectations. ( Liverpool AC Milan Man City Arsenal).

Finally, Harry isn’t bad he just plays for a club who haven’t a clue what they’re doing and if they have ambitions cannot really afford to play in a style that’s going to suit their captain. Not Maguires fault more so Utds for exposing him by not knowing what they where buying or why. I may be wrong of course as what would I know right? But that’s what it looks like to me. But I’ll let Gary Neville tackle the real problems at the club like how the players interact on social media.


The New Manager Checklist: Every new boss’ first five tasks


The Man Utd media circus.
Everyday there is some new depressing/negative/insulting news regarding Manchester United. the players, the staff, the owners or the coach. So let’s get into it.

Roy Keane: His comments about Maguire were a fine example as to why Keane is irrelevant, a hypocrite and overall a moron. The last person anyone should give a crap about is a guy who:
– Broke a man’s leg as vengeance
– drunken behavior and thrown out of the national team
– thrown out of his club for being a dickhead
– multiple punches and fights here and there.
– More Suarez in nature than Cantona. An all in all a bad human.

Being good at football once upon a time doesn’t make you invincible. He is a little man with a little ego and nowhere to go and no current talents other than be an Alex Jones/Joe Rogan/TrumpOnTwitter type. I would love it if someone just straight up called him out on his bullshit.

So when someone like that criticizes you, its better to either ignore or give it back to them. Would have respected Maguire if he stood his ground rather than fall back, but I understand as a captain he has to be safe rather than bold.

The Manager circus: Ole may not be an elite manager, we get it. No one is arguing much. But the way the media has thrown a human being to the dogs is mental. Everyday there are atleast 10 new articles regarding who will replace him, who the board has contacted etc etc. And all news outlets including F365 are doing this on a daily basis to get clicks, with snidey or rude comments that are disguised as banter. Its okay for fans to do it as its a part of our banter. But imaging waking up and seeing your face plastered on every newspaper talking about how you will be fired daily, who will replace you, how you are worthless or talentless.

But when a manager expresses his troubles or depression, the same F365 (and others) will write down pretentious articles about how managers shouldnt be hounded and how mental health is important. Ole may not be good enough, but he is giving his 200%. Like cleverly at United. The man will be fired/resign when he has to, but til there is no proof, media outlets should have the decency to not transcend into this

The United board: CLueless, indecisive and have no idea what they want. Continuously feeding into the media frenzy and not having the decency to make a decision one way or another. Disappointed in them.

Overall, it’s been a depressing few weeks to see so much negativity surrounding the club and everyone involved. Defeats and bad form is acceptable and part of the ups and downs of being a football fan. But the amount of hate, disrespect & negativity is not something I am enjoying anymore.



B-Rod to Man U
I’ve seen a few mails recently regarding Brendan Rodgers’ time at Liverpool and would United take him bla bla. I’m actually not really sure about Brendan in all honesty. I think first and foremost it has to be said that he got the Liverpool job far too early in his career. I mean come on he won the playoffs with Swansea, finished 8 9 or 10 somewhere like that and then got the Liverpool job. Let’s be honest he must have been pinching himself and you can actually imagine him doing that can’t you lol. I can’t really put my finger on it with him, he displays signs of a fantastic manager but somehow always seems to f*ck it up when glory is within sight (Celtic aside) The run we went on to put us within touching distance of the title, but then he crumbles with the tactics in the Chelsea game. Ok slippy stevie but anybody with half a clue about football knew exactly what JM was going to do. Let’s not forget that Chelsea team wasn’t anywhere near their strongest as they had atletico in the CL semi that week. Then he had an absolute shocker of a start to the next season but had lost Suarez and also was without sturridge for the majority of games. A lot of people forget this but he then took us on another long unbeaten run and displayed his tactical noise by switching us to a 343 using Sterling as a false 9 and had got us in a position where if we had beaten United we would have gone in to 4th. Mr Mata had other ideas and I think the week after we got spanked by a very average arsenal side 4-1. He then does all of his other silly things like the affair, the teeth etc etc which people will always point to and ridicule because he actually hasn’t really done anything as a manager. He didn’t even have a decent rangers team challenging him in Scotland. He even got out thought by tactics Tim and a Villa side that would go down the following year. He didn’t finish the job of finishing 4th with Leicester, twice! He just always seems to fluff it at the final hurdle and can never see the job through. Actually, yes give him the United job tomorrow.
Ryan, Liverpool


Cheer up
As soon as I saw the headline ‘Southgate is learning nothing…’ on your letters page I knew the mail would be from Matthew, ITFC.

Where to begin with his latest miserabilist, factually inaccurate offering on England and Southgate?

Firstly, Albania are third in our group, have beaten Hungary home and away, and most of their players ply their trade in Serie A. Admittedly, they’re hardly Brazil and their over-ambitious approach played into our hands, but they’re certainly not San Marino or Andorra either. If it’s so easy to beat teams like them 5-0, why was the last time they conceded 5 or more goals in a game back in 2007, when they were reduced to 9 men against Romania?

Secondly, we did not play with a back 5 and 2 holding midfielders, however much half the country seem to believe we did. It was a 3-4-3, as employed by Tuchel at Chelsea, utilising James and Chilwell in exactly the same way, with Phillips and Henderson playing the Jorginho and Kante/Kovacic roles. It’s funny how no one seems to accuse Tuchel of being too defensive. Matthew seems to have missed the evolution of the full-back/wing-back’s role in recent years. Reece James was one of our most potent attacking threats and if he really believes Henderson was playing a holding role, then he must have been watching a different game to me.

I went to my first England game in 1991 and that first half was one of the most promising 45 minutes I’ve seen in that time – we pressed high and with intensity, passed and moved excellently, and carried plenty of attacking threat. To call it defensive or cautious is simply ludicrous.

Finally, that Matthew genuinely believes Southgate should have started an U20s team in a game we needed to win to secure World Cup qualification says it all really. Could you imagine the reaction if he’d done that and lost?!

The strangest thing is that the only time I can remember Matthew sending a positive mail was after the home draw with Hungary, in which England played an extra attacking player, but produced the worst, most disjointed England display for some time. So, basically, what it comes down to is Matthew thinks Southgate is clueless because he doesn’t pick the exact line-up and formation that a keyboard warrior in Ipswich thinks he should, regardless of whether we play well or win or not.

And Badwolf, we get it, you don’t rate Southgate either. But crediting Kane’s return to form to Conte, when his only Premier League appearance for Spurs under the new manager was a 0-0 draw against Everton when he didn’t have a single shot on target, is a stretch even by your own standards.

Cheer up guys – I remember Taylor, McClaren and Hodgson’s reigns all too well and this is a great time to be an England fan. Be careful what you wish for and just try to enjoy it.
DF, Essex


Only one spot available
What have Grealish, Foden, Sako, Mount, Bellingham, Sancho, Greenwood, Rashford, etc all have in common. Great young English prospects you could say, we have to listen to pundits all over the media telling us this is the next superstar alternating through all of them. They all have great talent and are exciting attacking players but the problem is if Southgate continues to play seven defensive players against world giants like Albania there is then only one spot available because irrespective of form Kane & Sterling start and usually finnish every game.

It is hard to criticise the manager after a world cup semi final and Euros final but in both tournaments the draw opened up very favourably, in the world cup England won 4 lost 3 the best team they beat was probably Columbia on penalties. In the Euros the best team they beat was the worst German team I have ever seen. Southgate has made England hard to beat but they are generally dull as dishwater to watch. There is great talent highlighted above but I am afraid they wont combine to make England an excitlng attacking force with “only one spot available”.
Dave IOW.


Small, far away
I think I’ve sorted this Celtic vs PSV thing.

Celtic look bigger because they’re closer. PSV look smaller because they are far away.

Hope that helps.
Pierre, (Counting up league titles in a 2 team league seems reductive), Bristol


…In response to Graham Simon’s letter about Celtic being bigger than Ajax and psv I started thinking about how people measure this.

There’s a couple of things I think are worth mentioning in this debate.

1. The actual size of the supporter base (measured in number of global fans)
2. The size of the club’s effect on football (measured in trophies)
3. The size of the club’s financial power (measured in ability to bend the rules and give uefa the finger)

But even within these things we have to consider more, is it fair to compare Celtic with psv in terms of fan size when Glasgow has a local population double that of Eindhoven? Point 1 seems a bit silly to compare for any two teams unless they’re from the same city.

2. While Celtic have certainly had a large effect on Scottish football and they have in the past had some European success right now they’re a laughing stock really. Nobody is scared of Celtic based on their truly woeful European results over the last decade. Whereas psv where in the champs league as recently as 2018.

3. I actually don’t know the financial state of psv but I’d wager it’s still probably healthier than Celtic given Scottish football is not the richest and when they do sell players it’s usually for small amounts.

But this brings me onto another point, some people (a lot really) confuse the fact that being a big club in the past means they’re a big club now. It’s a hard thing to accept that your club has fallen out of the big club bracket but it happens a lot. See notts forest. And I’d argue it happened to Liverpool pretty regularly until klopp.
Celtic are not currently a big club. You are only as good as your last 5 seasons or so in my opinion and so on that basis I wouldn’t class Celtic as a big club. It’s not a permanent status that once attained is always there (see also Leeds United and Everton) it’s a temporary status which is achieved via success and success alone. It’s also why united are tip toeing closer to dropping out of that group, it’s fine saying you have lots of fans all over the world and you have money and success in the past…but that doesn’t give you status now.


…Where is that Captain Pickard facepalm meme when you need it for Graham Simons. Probably tucked away somewhere with his half and half scarf. Celtic & Arsenal? Talk about hedging your bets. There is nothing that I love more than a tedious argument about whose club is bigger than theirs, and whos dad is harder than theirs.

But humour me whilst i get my fishing rod out and cast my line. Ajax is a truly romantic, seminal football Club. Impact on international football? Check Impact on Club football? Check. Even PSV who Graham dismisses as an out right minnow of European football have the right to claim their academy and teams produce the backbone for the most successful dutch sides – that’s before I even consider Feyenoord’s academy graduates and springboard. What is Celtic’s impact on footballing style and philosophy, and Scotland’s international success? Nothing. Nada.

So let’s look at the fanbases first. Average attendance for Ajax is c. 48,000 Celtic is c. 52,000. Ajax have a higher percentage of attendance than Celtic. PSV have an average of 33,000 in a stadium of 35,000.. Twitter following (that seems to be a thing these days). Ajax 1.4m Celtic is 760k. Dwarfed. PSV are around 450k. Couldn’t find anything about shirt sales. Bleacher Report lists Celtic as the 15th most influential club in World football, one place below Rangers, and 6 below Ajax (9th btw). PSV are 5 places behind Celtic. So that’s fans – I can kind of get his argument that Celtic are a “big club” in that respect, however, you need to also consider that Celtics fanbase is predominantly in countries that are English speaking and with a large Irish/Scottish and catholic diaspora. So North America, Scotland, England, Australia and the odd scottish/irish pub where expats congregate around the world. Is that a truly global club? Not really. It’s an incredibly restrictive way of measuring it. A huge global club is Bayern Munich, Man Utd, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, AC Milan. Do Ajax belong in that pantheon of great clubs? Abso-fucking-lutely.

So, a shaky argument based on fanbase aside, let’s look at league trophies. We’ll start with when dutch football became professional – 1954 – anything before that and you sound like a Huddersfield Town or Newcastle fan.

Ajax – 27
Celtic – 32
PSV – 21

Ajax are also arguably participating in a MUCH stronger league – Feyenoord, AZ Alkmaar, FC Twente and PSV have all challenged Ajax for the league title in Recent years. Celtic have strolled the Scottish league because they’ve not had strong opposition until Rangers came back up. Hearts and Hibs can’t even lay a glove.

European Cup success?

Ajax – 4 (last one 25 years ago). That’s excluding their final appearances. European success, and current Europe resurgence blows Celtic out of the water.
Celtic – 1 (57 years ago), one further final appearance two years later 55 years ago, but they lost to a dutch minnow, Feyenoord. Who incidentally, have won more european trophies combined than Celtic.
PSV – 1 (33 years ago). Same number of European cups combined as Celtic.

Ajax’s ongoing success in European football also shows just how much Celtic’s “Hugeness” relies on their history and fanbase, not the quality of football or actual tangible success.

Then we get to his argument about the players that Celtic have given us. Almost laughably, the only examples of players Celtic have given us are the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Kieran Tierney and the 1967 European Cup Winning team. Can you not name them? What about recent players? If Kieran Tierney is the only recent example, it doesn’t say much for Celtic does it? Ajax? Frenkie De Jong, De Ligt, Edwin Van Der Sar, Frank De Boer, Patrick Kluivert, Frank Rijkaard, Clarence Seedorf, Marco Van Basten, Johan Cruyff, i mean, i’ll stop now to prevent any further embarrassment. Even PSV can point to giving Ronaldo, and Romario platforms in European football. Memphis Depay, Huub Stevens, Marc Van Bommel, Van Nistelrooy. There are a good number of other players – Feyenoord can boast a better export rate than Celtic.

What makes it all the more startling is that Celtics wage bill and turnover exceed Ajax’s, PSV and Feyenoords with so little to show for it.

F*cking hell. That was tedious. I don’t even care.
Mat, Still laughing, Leeds

Triggered by a YouTube nobody
Can we all give a big shout out to the efforts and dedication to the most pathetic, embarrassing protest in football history. What on earth was that at Old Trafford?

Not only can Manchester United not play football with any amount of style, turns out some ‘fans’ are just as dull. No wonder they sing Ole’s name yet mug off the Glazers, they protest as badly as the team play, it’s a match made in Heaven.

What is even more mental is the “We want our club back”. Why don’t you get it? It is not your club, never has been, never will be. You are a customer, just the same way as you are a customer of Apple or should be of the local Butcher that you ignore for Tesco. You support them whenever you make a purchase, that’s it, deal with it. If you don’t like that then go watch Hashtag United, oh wait, that’s the same thing. You’ll moan about Apple products until they bring out a new gadget and then… you’ll buy it.

In many respects they are not even supporters, they are fans, same way as I was a fan of the Britney Spears video Hit Me Baby one more time. Then she went a bit bat crazy and I stopped being a fan. See it’s easy, don’t like it, stop and become a fan of something else. Football, after all is just a game and there are so many more important things to sort out. Boris is prime minister for goodness sake. Protest that! But please don’t let the guy who organised this one, organise the Boris Out campaign.

Those ‘Protesters’ I use that term loosely as it was hilarious, really need to have a little look at the club that they so called ‘Support’ to see that it is the same people in charge since before some of them started ‘Supporting’ said club.
The Glazers stake in the club was announced in 2003, that’s 18, nearly 19 years ago. Looking at most of those ‘Protesters’, some of them were not even born then and if they were, they didn’t even know what football was. Anybody under the age of 30 (and that’s being generous), protesting to the Glazers that they want THEIR club back, is talking absolute rubbish. At 10 years old, I was playing with sticks and riding my BMX that my dad built for me. I wasn’t savagely supporting a football club and neither were my mates, yet these 20-year-olds are saying they want Man Utd back?

Utd last won the league in 2013, coming up to 9 years and yet we are having young kids shouting they want their club back and enough is enough. Sprawling it with spray paint on their mothers’ best sheets. It is the attitude of the entitled youth of today, something they don’t like and the kick off about it, without really knowing what they are kicking off about. The dummy comes out their mouth, toys come out the pram, “It’s not fair” and they’ll stamp their feet, post utter shit on Twitter where other likeminded, entitled idiots agree with them because they (read it on twitter) have nothing else to do with their lives. Then they’ll all get together, some 20 of them and want to start a revolution. Viva La revolution!!
“Let’s Protest Millions will come, they said so on Twitter.”

At the same time, normal logical people who have more life experience than them in their little toe, sit back with a tub of Popcorn laughing as if it’s a new series on the comedy channel.

How can you possibly protest against the owners when it is the same owners who were there when you started supporting? Quite simple really, they supported them because they were winning, glory hunting fanboys and fangirls. To have the audacity to protest when some of you were not even born to remember the CL win in Moscow or even the last title win is preposterous. Why are you supporting them when it is the same people? Why are you supporting them when you clearly know nothing about the club?

Love Utd Hate The Glazers, but I’ll still support them by going to games and buying tack from the gift shop, maybe a museum tour and of course getting the new shirt for the season. But no, enough is enough.
Stop stealing our money, but here, have some more. #galzersout
Ed’s rubbish at his job, but he hired Ole and we love and support Ole but Ed is rubbish at his job. #edout
The new kit is horrible, can I have it is a Large please.
Can Zukkerberg make a metaverse just for these people please.

I have more respect for Manchester City fans, everyone laughs at them calling it the Emptyhad, but at least their fans are real.
Mike (Fire is lit, chair is comfy, awaiting the backlash with popcorn and wine)

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