Top four is now a ‘pipe dream’ for ‘toxic’ Man Utd under Rangnick

Is the top four out of Man Utd’s reach under Ralf Rangnick? Why are Arsenal so hated? Plus, Everton, Jack Wilshere and lots more.

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Rangnick’s Reds are giving me the blues
Apparently, F365 have the worlds biggest hard on for Ralf Rangnick, and by all accounts he is a right-thinking guy. But in almost any sphere of management, knowing the right thing to do is only a small part of the job. Getting the message across, solving problems of miscommunication, motivation, performance, and discipline and ultimately delivering results are are what every manager is measured against. Do you know of any area of work where a manager who is brought in gets a pass after 6 months of under-performance because their teams were not good enough or couldn’t follow their instructions? People who have the ideas but can’t deliver usually stick to consulting, rather than management.

It’s a popular theme to compare Rangnick’s performances with Solskjaer’s last few dire results. But wouldn’t it be fairer to compare their first few weeks? After all, both were brought in as interim managers, and both apparently had ambitions of becoming full time managers. Who inherited a better squad? Who delivered better immediate impact? Who got the team to play more cohesively, and effectively?

The F365 article by Ian Watson suggests that it’s the players who are at fault for ‘not being able to follow Rangnick’s system’. Really? You actually think Ronaldo, Cavani, Rashford, Sancho, Fernandes and co have an ability problem? Just take a few seconds to think about the careers of these players, and what they’ve done so far, and their individual professional history and track record.

Despite my better judgement, I’ve now sat through 3 games in the past 7 days. I feel like I’ve been banished to the Punxsutawny of football, watching the same game over and over again. Start brightly, miss a few chances, but score in the first quarter of the game. Continue to create and miss a few more. Concede in the second half. Lose shape, motivation, energy. Enter Elango around 73 minutes, and Lingard at 80 mins. Barely trouble the keeper in the second half. Call me sentimental but I much preferred the Solskjaer model of bad first halves followed by roaring second halves, and goals galore.

Every time United did well in the past 3 years, it was put down to individual brilliance. Has Ole magically stolen their brilliance on his way out of Old Trafford? There seems to be a narrative that Rangnick’s United are better, but unlucky. I’m not sure what better means. The pressing is still ad hoc, the defensive organisation has not improved. Many of our goals are counter-attacking goals. Dalot gives the impression of being better on the ball – he dribbles well, but his crossing is dire most of the time. There’s no improvement on set pieces at either end. We had all 11 players back in our box defending a corner against Southampton, so there was no out-ball.

Perhaps United’s brief to Rangnick should have been clearer. As an interim manager, you shouldn’t be attempting a root and branch overhaul of the style of play. That kind of thing takes longer, requires a pre-season ideally, and players need to believe that its a long term project, not something that’s likely to be jettisoned by the next manager in 6 months time. Rangnick really needed to fix the defensive midfield and organisation off the ball, and let the team do what it was already good at doing under Solskjaer – scoring goals and converting chances.

Ole had his chance, and ultimately paid for poor performances. I don’t think Rangnick has been any kind of improvement. He has played only 2 teams in the top half of the table – West Ham and Wolves. Barring the games against Burnley and Brentford, in the latter of which we clearly rode our luck, we’ve had draws or narrow wins against half a dozen teams at the wrong end of the table. March will be a brutal month with City, Liverpool, Spurs, and Atletico. I will be more than glad to eat my words, but top 4 is a pipe dream for Rangnick’s United. Even if Arsenal, Leicester, and Spurs self destruct, West Ham and Wolves will step up.

Meanwhile, despite my better judgement, I’ll probably sit through a few more groundhog games.
Ved Sen, MUFC


The dressing room is toxic…
They were a “team of individuals” under José. They were a “team of individuals” under Ole. They are a “team of individuals” under Ralf.

At some point, we’re all going to have to admit that this dressing room is toxic. Standards have been allowed to drift for so long that I don’t think they will ever return.

I don’t think any player at any level could be accused of “not wanting to win” – everybody wants to win. But what we know for sure at this stage, is that this group is not hurt enough by not winning. There is no personal responsibility being taken. Even our so-called captain spent midweek pointing fingers at the attackers for not executing, rather than looking at his own deficiencies – of which there are too many to mention.

We’re not going to finish Top 4 this year. We don’t deserve to. There is a rebuild coming this summer. As sure as night follows day, United will make a balls of it. We won’t finish Top 4 next season either.

There’s no point in hoping for a proper footballing operation to be installed any time soon. All I can hope is that the Glazers take a cost-effective approach to getting back to the top – appealing to their fiscal motivations.

It’s obvious that this squad of United players has too many bluffers (Keane, R., 2019). Let’s get Erik Ten Hag in this summer (not Pochettino) and build a team around homegrown and U23s who actually understand what it means to play for United and actually want to be here – Garner, Hannibal, Levitt, Mengi, McNeill , Elanga, Galbraith, Chong, etc. Hell, even Donny might come good under his old manager.

Will we finish much any higher than the 6th or 7th we’re headed for this season? Probably not, but at least we will be fun to watch and actually likeable again.

The fans have a short fuse with supposed £80m defenders making amateur mistakes, but Tuanzebe or Mengi learning their trade beside Varane? Garner matching the intensity and effort of McTominay, but with a little added quality? Dalot and Williams showing ambition from full back? Elanga and Sancho running in behind defenders off either wing? That is something we can all get behind.

It would be a fresh start and essentially offer us a free hit next season. Do we really think a 38 year old Ronaldo will be motivated by a crack at the Europa League? He might not even be here. Pogba, Cavani and Lingard certainly won’t.

By accident or design, we are set for a huge clearout of players this summer. I pray that we see a return to some aspect of the “Manchester United way” and look to our academy to build a new team rather than waste a load of money by being terrible negotiators. Again.
James (more chance of me growing wings and flying to Old Trafford tbh!), MUFC


Line up for United vs Brighton Game
Will be going to my first game to Old Trafford for 6 years against Brighton on Tuesday, so it will be interesting in seeing how Maguire plays in the flesh (Please for the love of all United fans don’t play). Some players today against Southampton were simply outclassed and with a lineup on paper of that quality getting outdone by Southampton on several occasions in that 2nd half, it makes you wonder if some players are cut out for playing for the team week in week out:

Proposed Line up vs Brighton:

GK: De Gea
RB: Dalot
CB: Lindelof (Been our most consistent defender this season yet dropped?)
CB: Varane
LB: Telles (Greater technique for crossing)
CDM: McTominay (Actually puts in a shift)
CM: Pogba
CM: Fernandes
RW: Sancho (Looks like he is showing his potential)
LW: Elanga (We need someone working harder off the ball)
ST: Ronaldo (Bring on Rashford as impact sub)
Rami, Manchester


Rangnick is the worst of the post-Fergie managers
Sorry, are we sure that Dalot is a better attacking option than AWB? That lad is absolutely muck. Ole was 100% right about that.

Have to say, I really believe that Ralf is the worst (and most tactically inept) of the post-Fergie managers. He is dreadful – is it too late to beg Carrick to come back?
David, Atlanta


Sympathy for Varane…
Wonder what Varane thinks when he goes to sleep at night. After winning 4 Champions League and a World Cup he has to now play next to Harry Maguire…
Shehzad Ghias, MUFC, Karachi


Holy smokes, Everton…
I have absolutely no idea where that came from.  None.

Credit to Frank.  Credit to players (all were great but a special mention for Alex Iwobi with an inspired performance.)  Credit to our coaching staff dealing with set pieces.  I could go on and on.  I don’t want to go too overboard here but that was the Everton that we’ve been dying to see.

Lastly, credit to the fans who went to the match.  That’s as loud as I’ve heard Goodison in, well, I can’t remember.  I think it made a big difference.
TX Bill (even Rondon almost scored a worldy) EFC


Jack Wilshere
I was there that night against Barcelona. I saw the game that defines Jack. And I know the cynicism. But he really was that good. He could have been something so very special. But then injuries. And then injuries.

It’s an odd relationship to footballers we have. For when I say I love Jack Wilshere, a man I’ve never met and know nothing about besides the beauty of his left foot, most fans reading this will know the feeling. They’ll have their footballers that give them the warm fuzzies.

So I love Jack. But no. He shouldn’t get a contract. He’s been with us for months and if his quality was there, he’d have had one already. We had no midfield for the Burnley game. And he still wasn’t deemed good enough. That beautiful left foot hasn’t been able to do enough for years. It’s a tragedy of injury and broken potential.

We only have 16 games left. No cup ties against lower league opposition for him to come in to. No cruises against europa league minnows. And no premier league game we can coast through. We have four midfielders for two positions. Some of them are even good. And spare minutes are better spent developing Sambi, a player who will be important for us in years to come. Jack can, and by most accounts is, doing the arm round shoulder ‘hey Bukayo, here’s what been a young footballer can be like’ thing at the training ground. He doesn’t need a contract for that. And to lock him in to one, to not play him, robs him of whatever offers he may have.

Nostalgia and love are potent. Heady mixes of what was and what could be. But sometimes you got to let it go.
Robert G

Why are Arsenal so hated?
Ash asked why are Arsenal so hated. I’m not sure that they are universally hated but I will say this the team I used to hate playing against the most (Burnley) was replaced recently by arsenal.

Not because I think arsenal are an incredible challenge or I fear we will drop points or the stadium is intimidating. No. I don’t like playing arsenal because it’s some of the worst football I’ve ever seen.

Paelladyce should be crowned the new anti football because his tactic of defending at all times and hoofing aimlesslessy to a speedy striker while simultaneously non stop fouling probably has Sean dyche analysing video tapes to work out how arteta does it for 90 mins every week.

I dislike watching arsenal games so much that even though Liverpool usually win I don’t watch the games. In fact arsenal are the only team that I refuse to watch because of how turgid, boring and frustrating they are to watch. In thought the fa cup games might change that but instead we saw the exact same style (or lack thereof) and tactics and what’s worse y’all celebrated a 0-0 draw like you’d actually won the cup.

This is just one man’s incredibly subjective opinion but arsenal play the worst football in premier League, la Liga, bundesliga and serie a. What makes it worse is that arsenal used to be one of the world’s benchmarks for what attractive football looks like, and they sold their soul to the same devil Jose is the right hand man for just to get the same 4th place trophy that they used to achieve with verve under Wenger.

The post Wenger era is only showing what a superb manager Wenger was as he was clearly punching way above his weight every year with arsenal AND looking good while doing it. Something Michael is unable to do unless he gets out his necromicon and summons the dark master every 3 minutes.

Again, just my subjective opinion. But you did ask.


Ash asks why Arsenal are hated so much? The answer is (for me) an easy one. There’s a big chunk of self entitled fans who think they have a right to be great. Every Arsenal player who is decent is ‘the greatest player in the league’. Every average player is ‘not worthy of the badge’

Arsenal TV is a great example and ‘Specs’ is another.

That isn’t to say all Arsenal fans are like this, but the ones that appear in front of the cameras often are.

It’s the reason Liverpool fans used to get piled on. But they have the team and manager to match their arrogance right now.

Success brings jealous hate, arrogance just brings hate.
Rob G (don’t worry the hate my club is receiving eclipses everything and we are loving it)


The mail by Ash saying Arsenal are hated is just bizarre. We are no more hated than United, Chelsea or Liverpool. In fact, we are probably less hated. Pundits and media aren’t out to get us. They praise us every chance they get. We got a lot of stick at the start of the season and a lot of praise when we’ve done well. It’s not rocket science. You say that we get rid of troublemakers and people are still accusing Arteta of being the problem…Did you have a think of who might be saying he’s the problem? It’s our own fan base. I’m not fully sold on him either but I’m happy for him to have another season as it’s a huge rebuilding process. I find it absolutely mental that every single fan base thinks that the refs and media have an agenda against them. It’s worrying that people think like this. I do agree we have had some weird decisions against us but it’s not because we are hated. If that were the case we wouldn’t have had so many in our favour either. You say that other fans were revelling in our misery but everyone does the exact same when United or Liverpool lose. Spurs are constantly laughed at. Why do people think it’s only aimed at their clubs? Even if you go further down people laugh at Newcastle and Everton constantly, and West Ham before that. Get a grip.
Dion, Arsenal.


Kurt Zouma
A lot of back and forth about the Kurt Zouma situation – does he deserve to be suspended, is it really such a big deal, should he be booed, is what he really needs help, etc.

The fundamental thing that people need to get their head around is that  Kurt Zouma doesn’t get paid £120,000 a week for playing football. Football is, in and of itself, a completely useless game, it serves no function other than as entertainment.

So Kurt Zouma is, first and forforemost an entertainer,  and entertainers earn their living based on whether or not people want to watch them, and whether sponsors want to pay to be associated with them (either personally or at club level).

So Zouma is (though the alleged transgression is an order of magnitude less serious) in a similar position to Johnny Depp and West Ham are in a similar position to the producers of the new Harry Potter movie – do you want that person to be part of the “show” you’re producing?

What it boils down to is “how much do people care”. If the West Ham fans continue to boo Zouma every match, I expect he’ll either get dropped or will see out the season in the first 11 and then get moved on. Alternatively, people will move on from it in a few weeks and the furore will die down. I suspect Zouma has done himself irreparable harm in terms of getting personal endorsements, but his footballing career will definitely survive, and probably at West Ham.

For my part – I think what he did is repugnant – and filming yourself abusing an animal in order to amuse your friends is completely messed up. I wouldn’t want him playing for the club i follow again – but opinions may vary.
Andy (MUFC)


Mike & Jeremy’s emails
God I love the mailbox. The discussion points raised are always just fantastic.

I thought Jeremy’s mail this morning was so relevant, so important, and very well put.

Mike’s follow up I largely agreed with as well but I’d just challenge Mike on one point.

The tendency to hang, draw and quarter people for any misdemeanours is not “woke culture”, its “cancel culture”. There seems to be a fictional view being created in the UK that the left are all “woke”, meaning that they will take offense at every little thing, and to do said hanging, drawing and quartering. But it is absolutely not the preserve only of the left, or the “woke”. (As Jeremy points out). See recent examples of Tory MPs saying Jimmy Carr should be cancelled or blacklisted for an offensive joke.

We all need to be more accepting of the fact that we all sometimes do stuff that’s wrong. The horrible stuff should be challenged and punished but let’s just let a few things go, eh?
Joe, LFC, London


TV Blackout
Just wondering out loud, how much of a dip in lower league attendances there was today, seeing that Chelseas game has broken the TV blackout rule which has aimed to protect all the lower league clubs? (Yes, I know it’s FIFA so classed differently, but still…. Big clubs costing lower teams vital revenue, or whatever that argument is)

Yet we all have to miss the first 15 mins of Inter vs Napoli…


Birthday XI
Dear F365

It was my birthday last week, so please publish this as a belated present. I think you’ll struggle to find a better Birthday XI than the 5 February team. Loving the goalkeeper: who after journeymanning his way through the Indonesian leagues has earned his place to line up alongside CR7. But not too fussed since Maldini Snr will keep most people out, and with Gheorghe Hagi playmaking behind that front 3 we barely need a keeper anyway. Corluka will step up to DM to provide a bit more cover, and Sven-Goran will be player-manager from right back (Wikipedia says he was ‘unassuming’ in this position, which suits me fine).

GK: Rizky Darmawan (05.02.1994)
LB:  Giovanni Van Bronckhorst (1975)
CBs: Stefan de Vrij (1992) & Cesare Maldini (1932)
RB:  Sven-Goran Eriksen (1948)
DM:  Vedran Corluka (1986)
CMs:  Manuel Fernandes (1986) & Gheorghe Haji (1965)
LF: Neymar (1992)
CF: Cristiano Ronaldo (1985)
RF: Carlos Tevez (1984)
Alex, 32 years, 0 months, 7 days old.


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