Time to shift Man Utd blame as season over after FA Cup exit

VAR is a joy vacuum as Manchester United’s season ends in February. Get your thoughts into theeditor@football365.com.


Time to blame the Man Utd players
*You don’t even get to make snide jokes about only being able to pull a semi this year

*This is why failure to not buy a defensive midfielder is not pa sign Utd pare acting their age .it was letting previous managers choose p players  that led to the likes of Rojo and Darmian, most of us would need Google to remember which manager bought kante for Chelsea or Fernadinho for Siddy..
Buy players that will play regardless of the manager

*This game was another example of how cr7 is a double edged sword.created a few opportunities but missed  several chances and was at times selfish.

*Is Ragnick just Ole in reverse good at starting games poor at ending them.

*I know he in your eyes is the reason for the apocalypse but can you get off your soapbox, with how what these players need is an ironfist,city players like  Walker have had multiple infractions doesn’t stop city winning and with what we know Giggs for now I am amazed he found time to win anything.

*While I’m at it why is it okay for Liverpool to sell their B teamers for 15m and when Utd finally do it with Hoogewerf it’s a sin.

*At this point ending the drought is  more important ,let’s not have another long winded rebuild .I have a feeling we could let Rangnick or anyone of your choice rebuild this rabble and the team still won’t be better than what we have currently….time to stop  hiding behind the manager and blame the players for underperforming.
Timi, MUFC

United season over in February
So a mate of mine who is a Boro fan went to the game yesterday at Old Trafford, seeing him today and know I am not going to hear the end of it regarding the game yesterday…not only did we lose on penalties, but having so done in the worst possible fashion by being so wasteful Infront of goal within the first half and bottling the game as soon as Boro scored the equalizer. The lineup United had was possibly its strongest under Ragnick so far and it’s a bloody shit result and an embarrassing one too.

The finishing has been a problem for the whole season…there is only one player who has over double figure goals (Ronaldo) and even now he is starting to look to getting to his limits. He didn’t play too well yesterday and even missed the penalty as well. One off I am sure with the pen but goes to show even his confidence in front of goal and he DEFINITELY needs someone to play upfront with him. The guy is 37 years old. His agility when receiving the ball is nowhere near as close as it used to be so he can be tackled much easier than before. Basically, his hold up play isn’t good enough and his link-up play with Fernandes is shocking so something in the middle upfront needs to change, it isn’t effective enough. It’s good to see the team playing much better than before, where we are actually keeping some clean sheets now and getting half decent results. But the finishing is atrocious and overall play in final third isn’t good enough. Not too sure what the team were working on over the Winter break in Dubai, but it certainly didn’t look like finishing. Fernandes missing that chance yesterday summed it up

Obviously, yesterday’s game was disastrous, last chance to realistically win a trophy this season and now only Top 4 to play for. Even if United beat Athletico Madrid to get into the QF’s of CL, I just think they will eventually meet a team that are better on paper and on the pitch so no chance there. Long story short, United have become Arsenal of the 2006-2013 era. We are now somehow playing well enough, on a 65:35 ratio (consistent-ish) but still sucking with results in games we should be winning. Frustrating to say the least, but even under Ole we had games like this. The players seem scared of failing when it’s the big occasion there is a hesitation.

Also, we need to start playing Juan Mata more somehow. Rarely loses the ball and understands how to move off the ball in creating space for teammates and his overall touch is superb. Just think a player like him on the right who can create and a player like Rashford in the middle centrally who is quick and can play off Ronaldo in small spaces would be MUCH more effective. Play Fernandes deeper, his link-up with Ronaldo is so poor, definitely some kind of ego clash or maybe they just don’t like each other who knows, but even if they don’t you need to have a manager to find a way of making it work or go with another strategy.

So, the season is practically over in February! Who saw this coming after expectation set from the beginning of the season, it’s safe to say we have bottled it so far!
Rami, Manchester

The ‘common sense’ solution
On the whole, I thought Dave Tickner’s piece on the Man Utd vs. Boro game summed up events very well.

However, I do have to point out something around the Boro goal. Dave says that this instinctively feels unfair; and that even if the letter of law allows for it, we should probably apply common sense and say that’s handball.

The problem I have with this statement, is that we had this exact law that he’s advocating for, for 2 seasons… And my word, did fans and the media bitch and moan when goals like Kane vs. Sheff Utd got disallowed because Moura was tripped and as he fell his hand touched the ball; or West Ham because a defender cleared the ball against Declan Rice’s hand were all disallowed, saying it was unfair to penalise the attacking team for something so obviously unintentional.

We can’t have it both ways. Either you allow accidental handballs or you don’t. Personally, I too was in favour of the old rule that disallows these types of goals. But the reason the law is what it is, is only the fault of fans and media putting so much pressure on IFAB to keep tweaking the law rather than settle on “the common sense solution” that would have seen last night’s goal disallowed.
Paul (Spurs), T.Wells

Is Pogba United’s only world class player?
1 To watch players being paid millions miss chances like they did just didn’t make sense. No amount of logic can justify what happened for 120 minutes.
2 To watch an utterly mediocre keeper (and a team which lost to Blackburn two weeks back) manage to hold United, inspite of multiple howlers, just felt surreal to the point that one realises that United are just incapable of scoring simple goals anymore.
3 Sancho couldn’t last 120 minutes.
4 Ronaldo’s penetrative runs and incisiveness is lost and without it he’s a mere shell of himself.
5 Maguire isn’t right for the team (especially if Varane’s on the pitch). He’s too static. Jones and Bailly are far better options.
6 Pogba is our only world class player in the team (and De Gea when he’s playing).
7 Our most talented forward was loaned out and whatever we are left with will get us nowhere near the top.
8 We actually didn’t buy a single top class defensive midfielder when the team had been crying out for one for the last ten seasons.
9 Most of our youngsters need to be coached better, it’s not just poor planning, it’s poor execution, and it’s gone on long enough. Rashford clearly needs better guidance and needs to develop tactical acumen. Or it could be technical, am not qualified enough to understand the difference.
10 After a long time I stopped caring about whatever was happening during the match, think it’s reaching a point where it felt like it didn’t matter to me anymore. Never thought that day would come.
Saby, Swindon


VAR the joy vacuum
Just about to go to penalties in the Utd game and the commentator says “what a performance by Middlesbrough” I’m sorry! Absolute horse sh!t!

Utd have actually played well tonight and bar some absolutely awful finishing would be 5 or 6 up!

The decision for their goal to stand is also another reason why football is getting worse and worse! Var or no var that is never a goal, the ref bottles it not calling it originally then var bottled it not disallowing it.
If var isn’t for things like this, what is the point of it at all?

I’ve been slowly losing the love for football since the intro of var as it takes the pure joy out of goals etc plus it’s also made refs so redundant it’s unreal! They are not making decisions on field as they are relying on var to make the decisions for them and it’s an absolute joke.

I really hope they either remove var completely or get ex players to be the var refs as right now the incompetence of it is unreal!


Good morning,
I thought I would leave it a few hours before I attempted to vent my feelings regarding last night’s game, for all of F365s assertions that United were their own worst enemy being so profligate in front of goal this still should not detract from the ridiculous decision to allow the Boro goal. Both the referee and VAR deemed the handball accidental, a handball that allowed him to control the pass and cross for the goal, how the hell can that not be deemed gaining an unfair advantage? For all the chances we missed and boy did we miss a hat full, that decision is still the reason we are no longer in the FA Cup and the referee and VAR are complicit in us going out. Still all said and done we really should of been home and dry after the first 45.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


Dear Sir,

If a handball
In a penalty area
But is not observed
By the referee
Did it happen.
Confucius, 2022


Guendouzi = Vieira?
I sort of get the criticism of Arteta.

But my only gripe is that he tends to completely oust players while not offering them a way back into the fold rather than benching them.

But when you look at the two most high profile examples, while I don’t completely agree with how they were treated, the end result is right for Arsenal.

I’d much rather have Odegaard over Ozil and Auba just doesn’t fit into how we play anymore.

The big regret are the pair at Marseille – I don’t understand why Saliba isn’t playing for us this season and I do see the comparisons between Guendouzi and Vieira.

However, does Klopp or Guardiola tolerate poor time keeping or players who turn up when they like?

Arsenal’s biggest player right now is Saka and I like that as he’s the embodiment of where we want to take this club and I’d much rather we sign Sakas over Aubas.

PS on a completely different point, if footballers don’t want to be role models – it’s simple – don’t take the advertising and sponsorship money.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Stop normalising and diminishing rape
Urgh. It’s hard not to feel compelled to write in on such a sensitive subject, despite resisting the temptation to do so.

Firstly, anyone using the ‘law’ as a guide to morality or even for the fundamental basics on right/wrong need to be reminded of the pitfalls of doing such a thing. History has taught us time and time again how the ‘law’ – which is somehow, supposedly, used to provide justice – is massively flawed. Segregation, the holocaust, slavery….all legal in the not too distant past.

So anyway, back to the point – which apparently seems to be more about the job a rapist should be able to do (once they’ve either got off scot free or served minimal time) over anything else. Well, firstly, that should not be the point. The point is that there is a completely wilful neglect for society to recognise the impact this type of behavior has on the victim and the ramifications it has on the people close to them.

If you’ve not suffered abuse yourself, or not been close to someone who has, this is where you need to consider some empathy. So many opinions and judgements get made before even considering the true impact of the actions involved. Throwaway comments and thoughts given with zero consideration.

The argument of rehabilitation is a very grey one, in my eyes. Some crimes carried out….well, they just don’t deserve the chance to rehabilitate, but that is hugely complex subject left for another day. The narrative of ‘well, people deserve the chance to be rehabilitated and reintegrate with society. It’s 1 mistake’ is a very very dangerous stance. It ignores the wider problem and sends a very dangerous message to everyone, especially males. If it’s hard to understand, imagine your mum/wife/sister/daughter had been raped. That individual (victim) has to live with that for the rest of their life. There is a long and arduous path to come to terms with that and most never do. The psychological impact is devastating. That bleeds out into family/friends and the shockwaves are huge and forever lasting.

So, yes, please – as difficult and grotesque as it is – try to put yourself in the victims shoes or imagine it’s a loved one close to you. 5 years down the line you see the offender. Whether the offender served time or not will not be of any comfort here. Remember, any custodial sentence (which is unlikely) will be pretty light and that gets halved anyway. It’s not justice. So this person. They’re a footballer, they’re adored by fans. Paid pretty handsomely. They’ve been put through a rehabilitation programme and they’re such a good boy now. They’re doing fairly well, matter of fact. All’s well that ends well, eh.

No. This is all wrong. Even if it’s not a high profile job. You may see this person in a supermarket, in an office…..it’s still the same mentality, it’s still the same issues. What I mean by this; behave like a total and utter piece of dog sh*t and, really, it’s ok. You get another shot. All the focus is on the perpetrator and the impact (good or bad) it’s having on them. Madness.

What kind of message is this to dish out to society? There are a lot of grey areas with crime, with law and the like. This will always be a debate. But…..

Rape or sexual abuse, physical & emotional abuse are not grey. Regardless of what someone has been through, there is no justification for this type of action. Jeez, someone mentioned manslaughter this morning. Now, that is a broad spectrum. Even murder, it can often be grey.

It’s indicative of society that a football club can even consider saying, nonchalantly, the line ‘oh, it’s for footballing reasons’. It all boils down to ‘it was only a bit of rape’. It may not be getting said out loud and I’m sure very few, if any, would admit this in a public forum. That’s the undertone though. Diminishing the crime.

Anyone advocating for rehab, rapists as high profile footballers and second chances need to take a good long look at themselves. What message does it send to your son/brother/pal and, even more importantly, what message does it send to any females out there?

The education needs to be more compelling, more impactful. For young and for old. Understanding the true destruction these types of crimes have, that’s the starting point. Then a ‘zero tolerance’ stance to rape/sexual assault is lot easier for everybody to comprehend. Still have perpetrators? Ok, how about a punishment fit for the crime? You know, many many years behind bars with life long conditions upon release. How can anyone justify short term punishment for the offender when there are life long consequences for the victim?

The justice system is heavily flawed. Massively, in fact. Society, however, can do better. Using the existing system as a basis for your view is, at best, misguided.

The victims seem to get lost in all of the subsequent conversations. Without them being the centre of the discussion, the concern, the person that needs support and protection; what conversation is even being had?

If we all grew up knowing that there was a 25 year sentence for rape, that’d be normal and the seriousness of the crime would be recognised. The narrative would be oh so different, wouldn’t it?

Let’s stop normalising and diminishing rape.
Glen, Stratford Spur


Liverpool’s World Cup bonus
Maybe a bit premature, but the slightly annoying sight for Liverpool fans of seeing Salah play yet another 120 minute game to reach the final against Mane’s Senegal made me think about the disruption next year’s World Cup will cause, sitting in a 6 week mid-season break as it does. Assuming a club would rather its players had a nice rest than sweating their way around Qatar and risking injury, it does appear Liverpool will go from the most affected by Afcon to the least affected by the World Cup (of the top 4 I mean – but maybe even the top 7 or 8). There are a lot of permutations still to come from play-offs, but in terms of forwards, Senegal and Egypt play each other, so only one of Salah and Mane will go. Diaz’s Columbia look like they will miss out and Firmino (if he’s still a Liverpool player) may not make the Brazil squad. Jota has to get past Italy in the playoffs. In contrast, all of City and Chelsea’s current forward lines look certain to go, with the exception of Mahrez and Ziyech, who have the African playoffs to negotiate too (and B Silva, if he’s a forward).

If you’ll humour me and agree that the World Cup could have a bearing on next season, these playoff outcomes could be crucial – will Portugal overcome Italy and see Ronaldo, Fernandes, Jota, Dias, Bernardo Silva and Cancelao go to Qatar (and won’t somebody think of Wolves!)? Or will it be Jorginho and Chiesa, assuming someone buys him in the summer? Which pasty LB out of Robertson and Zinchenko will be returning with severe sunburn? Maybe it’s neither if Wales or Austria prevail in that play off section.

And back to Liverpool – of the midfield, only Fabinho and Henderson look certain to go (and the latter maybe not). The rest are either too old, too young or the wrong nationality. Again, substantially all of City and Chelsea’s midfielders will go. As for the defence, apart from Robertson’s play-off and VVD and Allison definitely going – we all know about TAA’s relationship with England, Konate is uncapped, Matip retired and Gomez an outside bet at best. Tsimikas’s Greece did not qualify. Who knows what Chelsea’s defence will look like next season, but all of the current first choice defence will go, even Thiago Silva is still first choice for Brazil. Ditto City if Portugal qualify, except for the aforementioned Zinchenko. I haven’t mentioned Utd, but they look likely to be sending quite a few, again especially if Portugal make it (but in any case de Gea, Varane, Telles, Matic, Fred and the English contingent, possibly McT and whoever they splash the cash on in the summer).

Anyway, something for Liverpool fans to cling to when Mane and Salah inevitably both get soft tissue injuries in the next 3 weeks. But also quite unusual that the team currently second in the Premier League and third favourites for the Champions League look likely to have only six or seven going to a 32 team World Cup in ten months, while their rivals will each potentially be sending double or triple that number.


Manager added value
Calum, Scotland asked which managers added most value to their playing squads, and for me there are two obvious answers.

First, Jurgen Klopp. How much would Trent Alexander-Arnold be worth now? Andy Robertson? Mo Salah? At Dortmund he coached Lewandowski, Hummels, Gotze and others to career highs. He is a spectacularly good coach at pushing mere mortals on into superhuman footballing machines.

Second is Erik Ten Hag. A lot easier to quantify this one as the players he’s coached have actually been sold. So, Donny van de Beek, youth product, sold for a reported £40million. Matthijs de Ligt, youth product, sold for £67.5m. Frenkie de Jong, youth product, sold for £65m. Hakim Ziyech, signed for around £10m, sold for around £35m. Dusan Tadic, signed for around £10m, top scorer and assister en route to a Champions League semi final. Even some of the players away from the first team, like Kasper Dolberg, signed for a nominal fee and sold to Nice for around £20m.

Now maybe a lot of that has to do with Ajax’s stability and standing in the game, and their obvious competency at board and management levels, but when you look at the players in question since leaving Ajax, it’s clear that Ten Hag is adding significant value. And I have no doubt there will be further massive sales sooner or later.

In conclusion, I wish we’d got Ten Hag at Spurs. I’ve been banging that drum since 2019.
Harry, THFC


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