Eat some chocolate. Send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com. Then eat some more chocolate. Then read Winners and Losers at lunchtime. Then have chocolate for lunch.Fair
It occurs to me as a football365 addict on Christmas Day you should really only have that name on leap years. 
Howard

 

Ling…what?
A year ago, if you said that Jesse Lingard was United’s most solidly performing attacker, you would have been institutionalized. Just goes to show that the difference between insanity and genius is 12 months and a bad purchase from Everton.
Henry
Massachusetts, Stateside

 

I said it before and I’ll say it again, the boy is an English reincarnation of Freddie Ljungberg. Funny what a decent run in the side can do.

Forget Lionel Jessie; it’s Jessie Lingjberg (the J is optionally silent)
The Prince 

 

Time to go, Jose
Nope, I’ve had enough; Mourinho can go. That was pathetic, and it’s been largely pathetic since the Liverpool game. There have been odd moments of sunshine but it’s been pretty much grey skies all the way, and now they’re turning pitch black. He just doesn’t seem to care at all, so he might as well just do one. We all know he’s going to PSG sooner or later, so make it sooner and then bring in someone else. Anyone else.

His tactics today were baffling: what the hell formation were we playing? Zlatan as a 10, not Mata. Mata as a winger. Rashford as a left winger just doesn’t work because he won’t/can’t cross. Lukaku putting in no effort at all. Pogba and Matic were playing so deep they couldn’t affect the attacks enough without leaving us vulnerable at the back. It was awful and disorganised and naive.

Today was worse than the Moyes game vs Fulham; cross after cross being sent aimlessly and inaccurately into the box, with no one able to even get a touch never mind have a shot. It was route one bullsh*t and for that kind of investment it has to be better. We have no discernible style, never mind the United way – we just seem to turn up and hope for the best in every sense. Our passes, crosses and shots; our defending; our decision making – it’s all hit and hope. Only Mata seems to show any intelligence, only Lingard seems to have any cutting edge, only Young seems to be able to cross. De Gea is being given no chance for the vast majority of goals and has been propping our defence up all season. We have invested an absolute fortune and we have no composure in defence, no cutting edge in midfield, nobody who can cross on the wings and no one who can bully a defence up front and no obvious of playing. How has this been allowed to happen?

Lukaku, the permanent fixture in this cavalcade of mediocrity simply has to be dropped. All the way. Not bench, not reserves, not first team training. His attitude is disgusting. He is a liability defending set-pieces, not able to deal with the simplest of crosses – to the point where the opposition must be aiming for him now. When Jesse Lingard looks like a more clinical striker than you, you should be dropped. When you assist almost as many opposition goals as you do your own team’s you should be dropped. When you can’t be bothered to press the ball, make attacking runs or even challenge for headers in the box until the 93rd minute, you should be dropped. He is just absolute sh*te and he’s not even appearing like he’s trying to turn it around. £75m for a lazy, slow, weak, just generally sh*t Chicharito.

Merry Christmas!
Ted, Manchester

 

There is a lot of fairly heated debate at the moment about Mourinho’s impact at United and whether we have or haven’t improved. I would like to offer a more simplistic view from a disillusioned United fan: I’m bored.

I don’t mean this in an entitled way and it’s not a reflection of my love of either United or football in general; it really is just about Jose. His style, his demeanour, his antics, his quotes… Everything about the man, at least to me, is thoroughly detestable. When he rocked up at Chelsea in 04 he was fresh and interesting. Arrogant, sure, but he was charming, and there was a glint in his eye that was boyish and cheeky – it’s what endeared him to many, even fans of direct rivals. It’s certainly what started the media infatuation with him.

That charm and charisma is long gone. That glint has morphed into a bitter, resentful and at times hollow look. He appears withered. There is simply nothing enjoyable left about him, and regardless of our four point improvement, his negativity dictates our style of play. It might not be the dark days of Moyes, but that was regression with a squad in need of urgent surgery playing turgid football. This is an excellent squad playing turgid football and it’s difficult to imagine a more daring and vibrant manager sticking 10 players behind the ball against 10 men with hundreds of millions £ worth of talent on the pitch.

As a fan, I like to see united win; we have been rather spoilt in that regard. But not in such ugly fashion with such an odious man at the helm. I would sooner finish third but attempt to play some exciting football than second by ungainly brute force. Unless he changes tack – which seems extremely improbable – I cannot see myself enjoying United until he departs
Wubblepig (I guess I’m saying #joseout which seems absurdly ungrateful, but could anyone honestly say they like him or his ethos at this point?),  York. 

 

I suspect the problem Jose is having is that the players have seen his act too many times and as a result won’t devote to him. He hasn’t built that core of key players who worship him and carry out his wishes but maybe that’s because he can’t. He’s basically got Herrera really bought in (from my untrained eye) but the problem is that he’s not even starting. Mourinho always had Terry or Ramos to play regularly and basically manage the dressing room but I wonder who his apostles are in that Man Utd dressing room. I wonder if his formula is so predictable that the players aren’t really falling on their knees for him because they know he’ll be gone within 18 months. Maybe their not bought in because they feel the only dynasty they’d be a part of is the Mourinho Ego.

I also love the alternate theory that their confidence took a collective knock when they weren’t instructed to go and kill off Liverpool when our defence looked horrendous. If Mourinho is gone at the end of the season I’ll smile to myself and hope that was the truth.

Can imagine him taking the Portugal job in the summer and then taking the credit for any success and blaming his predecessor if they fail.
Minty, LFC

 

Hypocrite
I’m not a United or City fan, and while I would prefer a more even league from a financial standpoint…(shrugs).  I can say I’m not a Jose fan.

When he makes his complaint around the unfairness of City does he think statistics and facts aren’t readily available to shine a blinding light on his hypocrisy?

Prior to joining Chelsea I’m pretty sure he was angling for the Liverpool job while actively slagging off the Chelsea megabucks project.  Then he got the job.

According to Transfermarkt in his time at the Blues he spent roughly 150m, the rest of Liverpool, United, Arsenal, City and Spurs spent about 250m. Of that collective spend  Liverpool came close to Jose’s at around 100m, but the rest?  Spurs 80m, United 50m, City 20m and Arsenal 5m.

Fast forward to now and City sure have spent a lot over the last 2 seasons.  About 270m, but United under The Special Whinge have dropped about 240m, Chelsea 130m, Arsenal 70m, Liverpool 40m and Spurs 30m.

The way Jose goes on you’d think the difference would factorial.  But it isn’t.  In his years at Chelsea he spent 50% more than his nearest rival, but City are ‘only’ spending 12% more than theirs since Jose arrived at United.

This is typical Mourinho who cannot stand swallowing his own medicine, particularly when the shoe is on the other foot, none of his table grapes are ripe enough.

Where am I going?  Jose is a hypocrite of the highest order which makes his attempts at manipulating the situation very hard to bear. Burnley didn’t draw at United because City have spent more, Burnley drew at United because they played football well enough to.
Dr Oyvind, Earth.

 

United need a winger
Watching United rely entirely on Ashley Young (and occasionally Juan Mata)for decent delivery yesterday made me think back to the last time there was an actual winger at the club. Probably Nani.

Martial and Rashford are great options in the left but they’re always going to look to dribble infield.  Mata (and Pereira if he comes back) will look to come inside onto their stronger foot before crossing) and both Mkhitaryan and Lingard are better in the middle. I would’ve liked to see what Memphis could do on the right, where he wouldn’t be able to cut in all the time.

Griezmann is a great player but he’s not a winger, likewise Asensio, Bale might but he’s broken. United aren’t being linked to any pure wingers and I can’t fathom why, it’s not like they’ve got Rose/Walker/Mendy that can give them width. Young can, Shaw might be able to but you can’t rely on them every week. United have made their bed with Lukaku so they need to do something to get the best out of him. They should be looking at Gelson Martins, Gonçalo Guedes (though that ship has likely sailed), Felipe Anderson (if he recovers) and players of that ilk. Lucas Moura could be worth a try if PSG want to flog squad players. 
ThaiWolf (or kept Zaha), HK

 

Following Liverpool and Arsenal into obscurity
So we seem to be following Arsenal and Liverpool into PL obscurity game after game. As not only have we conceded this league title, there just doesn’t seem to be any indication of wresting the title back any time soon. Severely depleted squad, yes. But a common factor in all our performances after the first 2 months, seems to be little to no chemistry between our front players. I do firmly believe all training ground exercises under Mourinho are based on how to defend and then simply asking the attackers to find goals as this team doesn’t seem to favor any attacker’s strengths. There is no sleek interplay, no telepathic communication between players as they all seem quite surprised at the position they are in and more worrying the positions their teammates are in.

I keep wondering about how horribly we handled the post-SAF transition and all the evidence is in the performances and the team producing them. They don’t seem to have any particular strengths but obvious weaknesses: crossing, passing in the final third, lots of players playing out of position or converted positions. Its appalling how come December, the only real solution seems to be buying more players, specifically attacking positions but all the while having to accept they’ll be playing in a Mourinho side, which means even if we somehow manage to con someone like Dybala into signing for us, wouldn’t make much of a difference because at the end of the day we simply will not play to their strengths. I am fairly certain the upcoming winter transfer window will be disappointing, as there won’t be any BIG signings and even if we did wouldn’t halt the rot. I remember how at the start of December, I assumed City’s pretty football couldn’t stand up to the strains of the fixture list and a more solid Utd unit would surge forward. Wrong on both counts.
Aditya

 

Almost
Can we start considering Burnley worthy of a 16 conclusions?
Damien(This is an acknowledgement of Burnley’s achievement through the medium of jest, not an entitled request of more from something that’s already free)Quill

 

Time-wasting
I believe there was a good post about time-wasting and how effective it is these days, well after watching the second half of United v Burnley, I think at some stage the law-makers need to have a think about it. Personally I cannot see a single downside of two 30 minute halves, where the clock stops when the ball is out of play.

Without a doubt the most minutes Burnley had in ‘possession’ was waiting for the keeper to place, roll and then ponder free kicks. He was of course booked once, which in all my long years is the only punishment a ref will ever give. Never a second. So it’s not really discouraging. I’d love to see the stats, but I’d wager Burnley ensured less than 20 minutes of football were played in the 2nd half, and the ‘reward’ from the ref was 5 added. Of which maybe 2 were in play, and he blew up BEFORE the 5 minutes, despite a goal.

We can talk all we want about results a club like United should have against Burnley, but the fact of the matter is Burnley have expertly abused the system to ensure football is not played. We all love a giant killing, but I know of very few other sports where inflexibility with regards to rules is so actively encouraged. Diving seems to be getting some addressing, but time-wasting is still the worst for me. Peak Stoke used to have the ball in play a full 8 minutes on average less than other clubs. That’s just an abuse. Credit to Burnley, they’ve massively taken advantage of a weak referee and the rules, but what would be the downside of just stopping the clock?
Ryan (United’s record with Atkinson is terrible. How strange)

 

Massive respect for Burnley and Sean Dyche, easily the best pound for performance team in the Premier League this season. However without trying to sound like a sore drawer Burnley didn’t half waste some time yesterday.

Nick Pope did eventually get booked but he stole significant minutes out of the game on goal kicks and he got more ball bounces in than Michael Jordan. His mates were also kicking the ball away at every opportunity. For a manager that has a holier than thou attitude on most topics, especially diving, I would love to hear his take on time wasting. I am all for gamesmanship but basically cheating is cheating.
Parm, Gravesend

 

Gerraaaaaaard
Trent Alexander Arnold, realising he was about to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool at the Kop end, had a choice to make. He could either score that goal as himself and bask in the glory of himself, Trent Alexander Arnold, scoring a goal for Liverpool at The Kop End, boyhood dreams etc etc or he could do what he’s clearly been doing since he was 6 and pretend to be Steven Gerrard. You can heard it in his head: Geeerrrraaaarrrrd!!!
Brian M Waterford

 

Wenger’s final chance
There is a burning gut feeling haunting me for weeks that this January transfer window could well be Wenger’s last chance in saving Arsenal’s downward spiral.

It’s been years since Arsenal have seemed an intimidating team, and interest levels in the team are continuing to drop. (I have no stats to back that up but I know you’re nodding in agreement).

Assuming we’d miss out on top-4 this season (and that the likely event of Sanchez and Ozil leaving will come true…) which top-flight, world-class footballers can we expect to want to join us next season? We couldn’t seal a deal with a Lemar (or worse, a Vardy) last summer – so who can we hope for next?

The only selling point to a world-class player would be the prospect of playing alongside Alexis and Mesut and battling for a, arguably doable, top-4 finish and Champs League next year.

But assuming both leave, and we miss out on top-4 – I just can’t see anyone notable strengthening the team. And then things will become immeasurably more difficult. Wenger has always put his trust in his current squad and protected them from criticism…

But FFS Wenger, youre probably gone in 1.5 years, just do a Fergie and pamper yourself for some luxury buys. Literally, no one will condemn you for it. Otherwise – we might completely lose our traction towards footballers and fans, or worse – become Liverpool.
– Guy Eyal

 

Boxing Day thoughts
*Man of the match in West Brom 0-0 Everton was anyone who managed to watch the whole thing. As usual, we may be underestimating Sam Allardyce’s work: the current view is that it didn’t take much to get Everton going, but they look a very limited side, and any time they get three points it’s a major achievement. If history is any guide, though, expect some useful January acquisitions.

*Stoke City got a draw at Huddersfield, but they were massively outplayed, and seem no closer to turning their season around. Jack Butland is worryingly erratic, a limping defence looks inadequate, and Peter Crouch is still all they have to offer at striker. Joe Allen has come alive in the number 10 spot, but Darren Fletcher is looking more and more like the later Glenn Whelan every day. Relegation a longish shot, but top half of the table equally so.

*Another somewhat misleading result was Watford 2-1 Leicester. Marco Silva went with a conservative three-man midfield: Tom Cleverley as a number 10, Abdoulaye Doucouré licensed to roam, and Ben Watson sitting deep. He also put Richarlison at central striker, although that changed when Roberto Pereyra came off injured late in the first half. The performance wasn’t terribly improved either in defence or attack, but Leicester didn’t take advantage of some promising situations, Heurelho Gomes made some outstanding saves, and Watford scored two scrappy set-piece goals.

*When Marko Arnautovic came out for the first half with his name spelled wrong on his shirt, you knew it would be a glorious afternoon at the Vitality Stadium. A driving rain, sitters missed on both sides, goalkeeping of the highest and lowest quality, a controversial non-red card, an even more controversial goal, and the all-time record for exactly how far against the run of play a tying and apparently winning goal were scored. What it lacked, though, was a modicum of defence from West Ham United. That’s two matches in a row they’ve conceded three (and against Bournemouth it easily could have been about sixteen). Reboot time, Davey

SOURCE: football365

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