Man Utd the ‘plucky underdogs’, Jesus impact and the TODD (Boehly) system

Man Utd midfielder Bruno Fernandes celebrates Credit: Alamy
Man Utd midfielder Bruno Fernandes celebrates Credit: Alamy

Man Utd are exactly where they should be, Gabriel Jesus deserves more credit and the Haaland debate rumbles on.

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Plucky underdogs Man Utd
I genuinely can’t fathom the mindset that Man United fans consistently have. They have this plucky underdog mentality despite spending an absolute fortune year in year out. Zac genuinely expected them to be 2nd-4th in the expectations table?! United coming 3rd is not that big of a shock when you look at others around them.

Firstly, Arsenal came 2nd but were miles ahead of United. The fact that they challenged City and took Liverpools spot in the top 2 was something nobody expected. You mention 8 pundits had Arsenal in the top 4, but how many has them as title challengers. Brighton, Brentford, Fulham, Villa, Newcastle and Bournemouth all definitely exceeded expectations more than United too. I don’t think those are even debatable.

United have done well but this is where they should be. Look at some the players they have; Varane, Martinez, Shaw, Casemiro, Bruno, Eriksen, Rashford. Their spending has been nothing short of a joke with players like AWB (50m), Maguire (80m), Lindelof (30m), Sancho (75m), Antony (100m) not even guaranteed to start at times. I don’t expect much of United most seasons because they just underachieve massively since Ferguson retired, but coming 3rd is defintely not overachieving. United could have finished anywhere from 2nd to 6th and it wouldn’t have surprised me. It seems to happen all the time. One terrible season and then by some miracle you’ll clinch 4th after spending a load of money. Plucky underdogs.
Dion, Donegal


Jesus impact
Catching up a little so this may be too late, but I’m surprised credit wasn’t given to those F365 writers who picked Gabriel Jesus for their ‘most positive impact’ on the basis he “only scored 11 goals” for the club in the PL. While this is of course true, I think some wider context is needed.

Of course, he missed a fair chunk thanks to his knee injury, and while Arsenal coped through it pretty well, his return was welcome once it came. He ended with 18 goals and assists from 26 appearances, which I think is a fair individual return – especially considering a few big chances missed as well.

But not only this, his unselfish play, his style, his ability to actually move (unlike the previous incumbent of the number 9 shirt) got the best out of both Saka and Martinelli – who both enjoyed “career seasons” in terms of goals and assists themselves. Jesus arrived with title winning experience and has turned into a leader of the group, despite his relative youth still. I think his impact was both very important and extremely positive.

And Arsenal finished second remember – closer than we ever got in the years with Aubameyang or Lacazette leading the line. We also scored 27 more goals than the previous campaign, thanks in large part to the fluidity of the attack compared to the way we played previously.

Pope and Botman were both excellent and their impact was positive too, but Jesus shouldn’t be dismissed just because he only scored 11 league goals.
Joe, AFC, East Sussex


The TODD system
Inspired by my love of Its Always Sunny and by the Golden God himself, Dennis Reynolds, I thought of this when I was swimming today. This was inspired by Todd Boehly, who has provided some light relief in light of Leeds being pants:

The TODD System:

T – target players indiscriminately – usually if other clubs have seen them first or if that position is already well-stocked.

O – offer over-the-odds to get your man. Money is no object and you need that player, remember.

D – decline any offers of advice from advisors or your manager regarding transfer fees, dressing room size limits etc.. I’m sure Graham Potter said “stop buying me players”, for example.

D – double down on points 1 – 3 until your squad is too big, unbalanced and somehow still lacks a striker.

Poch will either flourish or be sacked by January – hoping it’s the former.


Drunk on blackout power
Remember when there was the option to have the true commentary audio or the commentary plus fake stadium audio during covid? I was thinking Sky need to step their game up and introduce stadium audio without the commentary.

Mainly because I can’t stand the idea of listening to Gary Neville co-commentate another Arsenal game. The customers pay enough for this to be an option. In fact, customers in England pay a lot to watch every televised Arsenal game. There’s Sky, BT Sport, and Amazon Prime. And then there’s the 3pm blackout… Remember that last second winner Reiss Nelson scored against Bournemouth? Of course you do. The Arsecast podcast did a superb intro with all the commentaries from around the world melded into a movie trailer style that sent shivers up your spine. There’re also some great YouTube montage videos of fans around the world watching the vital kicks in that moment.

But, wait a second. When that moment happened I was in England (still in England) in a household that pays for Sky Sports, BT Sport, and Amazon Prime. And yet, I didn’t get to see it live. I actually listened to the audio commentary on the Arsenal website, which was still enjoyable as they had unsung hero Nigel Winterburn doing the most biased co-commentary.

Some people will be saying I should have just forked out for a VPN and another subscription to either beIN Sport (noooope), or NBC, or whatever. Sure. Let’s all spend more money. Still, there would have been plenty of fans in England who couldn’t get tickets (and that’s most of us) who will have watched on illegal streams. By now it should be obvious I’m talking about the gang who’ve been sentenced to years in jail. I’m not here to defend the character of any of those guys. But, let me just say that the Premier League are holding the English fans to ransom over seeing their teams play.

They are a fxxxing “criminal gang”. They extort us and still deny us with the ridiculously archaic 3pm blackout. It’s their equivalent of early 20th century American prohibition. What did they think would happen? When Luton are playing in the Premier League next season do you think any of their fans will prefer to watch it on TV or be in the stands seeing it in the flesh? The answer is obvious. The Premier League are greedy cxxts.

And, I’m sorry, but, if your team can’t fill a shixxy 20,000 stadium because Sky are showing your game then maybe you don’t deserve to be in the top tier.
Simon, Norf London Gooner


Haaland has improved City
Please can someone explain clearly how Haaland has made City a worse team, are we not conflating the principles of adaption with deterioration?

They may not score 5 every game now, but winning everything in sight just seems to say to me that the team is not worse, it has varied it’s strengths.

I surely hope the responses are not about “look at the points totals of other seasons” because, chaps, nothing has remained equal, nevermind all things remaining equal, from year to year.

The team is imperious, with a Plan A and B that are both deadly options, that is not a sign of a team declining in its abilities and/or cohesion.

Yes, I do want Mount, throw in Rice alongside Casi, and 5 of the midfield and forward 6 are 3 Lions starters or subs, not sure why but I love the idea.
Manc from SA (So, make it happen fellas, or I will. On Fifa.)


Haaland has not improved City
So Andy, I look silly because I ignored the adaptation period and the tinkering.  You don’t specify what the adaptation period and tinkering were but to add some context:

First half of the season: Drew 3, Lost 2

Second half of the season: Drew 2, Lost 3

Although to be fair 2 of those second half of the season results were after winning the league*

But even accounting for those, there’s barely any difference.

Then, as you’re such a fan of context, if we analyse this famous 12 match winning sequence we encounter the following nuggets:

Haaland failed to score in 33% of these matches

In one of the matches that he scored it was a 90th minute icing on the 4-1 cake

In another of the matches he scored a winning penalty that would’ve been statistically scored 75% of the time by another player

That’s half of the title winning run that him not being there wouldn’t have changed.  A few of the other games he scored the second in a 3 or 4 goal victory but I concede that a second goal can be a settler so I’m not going to argue the toss there.

I think it’s safe to say that (in the PL at least, for now) Haaland has not improved City.
James Outram, Wirral


Only three things are certain in life.

Death, taxes and Sevilla winning the Europa League.
James (Chelsea and Fleet), Gravesend


Jose grace
I’m sure Jose will take defeat with grace and dignity. And will never, ever, EVER blame the retaken penalty.
John, Chicago


Roma boss Jose Mourinho shouts at the fourth official Credit: Alamy
Roma boss Jose Mourinho shouts at the fourth official Credit: Alamy


Pen camera angles
I’ve never heard/seen a discussion on the camera angles TV channels use for penalty shootouts. Why don’t broadcasters use the camera behind the taker instead of the one from an angle at the halfway line for the live feeds? They only use it for replays. It seems this camera would provide a much better experience to the audience – more immersive, much clearer picture of where the ball is going, for instance. Is there a reason we don’t get this?


Shirt numbers
The numbers 7, 8, 9, and  10 are all available at Liverpool at the moment. Has that ever happened before?
Scott, LFC Toronto

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