Manchester United need to recalibrate and target Neves, Tielemans, Toney for transfers

·14-min read
Manchester United should target Ruben Neves and Youri Tielemans Credit: PA Images
Manchester United should target Ruben Neves and Youri Tielemans Credit: PA Images

Manchester United are not a Champions League club anymore and need to adjust their sights. Why not Neves? Why not Tielemans?

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Manchester United are not a Champions League club anymore; adjust.
Long-time reader (since 2006), published Mailboxer (4x) – thought I would wade in with my opinion with regards to the current stupidness happening at Man Utd…

I feel the club needs to just pause, and recalibrate. There has been a shift at the top of the PL table. Man City and Liverpool are light years ahead. Then Chelsea, though Spurs have and continue to close the gap. Slightly below are probably Arsenal. Manchester United are below that. How much below? We will find out.

The point being, I don’t think the penny has dropped with the club. We aren’t a UCL team anymore. Probably not for a couple of years, at least. Accept it. And this delusion manifests itself in our transfer approach this summer. We simply cannot attract the FdJs of this world anymore. The top class players, who want to compete in the UCL, do not want to join us. Why are we continually trying to go up against the top sides in Europe for the best talent? We will always lose! That’s what has happened this summer. Why waste the entire summer barking up the FdJ tree, when someone like Neves is (in theory available – albeit for a large fee, £50m-£60m) available? He can sit and dictate, strong tackler, mobile, passer, and can chip in with goals. He is tried and tested in the PL over a number of years. None of the top teams in Europe or PL are looking at him? At what point have ManUtd decided that:

1) He isn’t better than McFred

2) ManUtd is above players like him?

This just boggles my mind that these players haven’t been signed yet.

Same question for the likes of Tielemans, Nunez (Wolves), Bissouma, Boubacar Kamara, Ivan Toney etc.. The list can go on!

ManUtd just need to accept they’re second rate. Start looking for value in the FTSE250 of the transfer market. Signing players that have something to prove in the game, want to become better footballers, and work hard should be signed. Not the Varanes, Ronaldos, Pogbas who will come for huge wages, and not much else.

It is looking like mid table, AT BEST for us this year.
Formerly known: HP, London


Do Manchester United let Ten Hag come in with a new broom?
Thought I’d combine some sarcasm and hindsight to explain Utd’s current shambolic state.

Utd have a goalkeeper who only ventures off his goal line to go as far as the six-yard box to take goal kicks. Utd also have a captain who is not renowned for being the quickest human on the planet. The back four are also pretty prone to one or two brain farts per game. So, what’s the ideal way to nullify their weaknesses? Play out from the back, WFT?

It’s great to have a manager with ideals but there has to be an element of playing to your strengths. Admittedly Utd don’t have any strengths at present. Oh f*ck, what was the point of this mail…

On the other hand, at least he has a philosophy, maybe it’s time to stick with that and discard the players that can’t grow into it – isn’t that what Fergie was given the time to do – he inherited a shambles that included a lot of talent within it. While figuring out which players can adapt and which can’t we can sign players that can…oh wait, let’s rather just bid for a bunch of random players while we keep the back door open for Frenkie even though he’s weighing up Chelsea or staying at Barca.
Jon, Cape Town


Ten Hag needs time? Really?
You could give ETH all the time in the world and he would still fail, United’s problem goes beyond him. The Glazers are a mystery to me, they do tend to spend the money but it’s how the go about it that’s the problem, they love big names to spend big sums on even if they aren’t working out.

When Rangnick was appointed, I felt sympathy for him, I told a friend of mine, a fellow United supporter that I hoped he would succeed but I didn’t expect him to. Why? Well, there’s a level of complacency among the players and knowing the coach isn’t going to be there at the beginning of the new season no matter the nature of the results, why would they try to impress him or strive to learn a new style? A lot of them don’t like the style and after the first couple of games had reverted to their normal selves. The board could’ve still made the same arrangement but kept the *interim* part away from the public (including the squad) and his job would have been way lot easier, but well…..

Next thing that bothers me, why actually hire him? If he was brought in to analyse the squad and then become some sort of sport director, why then ignore his advice and then ditch him all together. I think he took the Austria job because he knew those above him didn’t like what he was serving and foresaw his future and that’s where the problem lies, United’s owners want a quick fix and weren’t prepared to overhaul the squad and start a complete rebuild. Instead, the club continues to go down the slippery slope and no sympathy for ETH here, he either overestimated his coaching abilities and believed he could work with this squad or he underestimated the problem, either way that’s his cup of tea, he too spoke with Rangnick and decided to go with the United board’s direction.

Did I expect to challenge for shit? No, but I expected improvement and 2 games might seem early but there are still the same team, still ponderous with the ball when attacking, no real purpose, just give it to Bruno or Eriksen and let them create something for our attackers to then make something of and the less said about our defence the better.

How did we start a new season without at least 2 DM? Say we get FDJ, what happens when he gets injured, we return to the McFred combo? This level of incompetence is just through the roof, that we are now looking for basically anybody indicates that we never had a plan B in case FDJ didn’t work out. ManCity might have gone a season without an out and out striker but that part was never a problem for them, a defensive midfielder is probably the most important piece of a team even though they don’t really get much credit but ETH wants to ride a full season without one. Wow. Martinez better works out. Until the Glazers fix the front office, things won’t change or maybe, ETH can indeed do magic.

I’ll just try and hope things get better not that I expect them to be.
(Somebody, Somewhere) in the universe


Let’s talk Manchester United v Liverpool
Two teams looking for their first win. While both teams haven’t started well, one team is better placed than the other.

Liverpool seems to be missing some key players, with Matip and Konate injured. This leaves them with either Nat Phillips or Joe Gomez to partner with Van Dijk, which is not to be desired for Klopp. The Palace game was proof of this.

Nat Phillips is not tracking Zaha, so he’s given enough time to move the ball onto his right foot and place it in the bottom right corner. Liverpool’s defence seemed to be missing Thiago. In not starting Henderson against Crystal Palace, it left them with Milner, who is good but not what he once was and Harvey Elliot, who is still young and arguably better suited on the wing rather than in the midfield. Positives for Liverpool are that they still have stars like Trent, Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Diaz and Salah, who can win you games if you use them correctly.

Now to Manchester United, it seems as though the form of last season has followed us into the transfer window and even somehow gotten worse for the first two games of the season. It seems the players who downed tools in the past under Rangnick have continued to quit the minute they are faced with adversity with Ten Hag’s style. The Brentford game revealed what many United fans already knew about most of their players: the minute they face hardship, they stop trying and then say we go again for the next game.

At Brentford, players like De Gea did not have their best time but considering he is 1/2 of the reason we got sixth last year, he was due a bad performance. Maguire continues to show why he should not be captain, let alone starting.

I feel that the reason why Martinez is getting targeted in games is they know that once they get past him, Maguire usually has not caught up and is easier to get passed. McTominay was rightfully dropped after the Brighton game but was instantly given his role back, which says more about our transfer activity than the manager as he’s the only one who had played as a defensive midfielder when he came on against Brentford. He still looked shocking.

For the game on Monday, I still imagine Liverpool wins comfortably, most likely the same way Brentford won with just non-stop pressure. On the very slightest of chances, I can see United find a way to make It a 0-0 draw on pure magic, but there’s about a 1 in a million chance of that happening in my mind. It all depends on if Liverpool can get their team back fit and playing like they usually do. Or if United can drop players who have not been good enough and follow the plan of Ten Hag and not quit once there is the slightest hint of adversity.~
Max of Whitegate


Random thoughts
I’ll make some random points because work’s been busy, and I need to talk about football with someone. So here we go:

1) PSG has an academy in Vancouver. I just got an email if I want to play soccer. Yes they’re calling it soccer to not confuse Canadians with American Football. Messi is in the middle of the picture flanked by a couple of women football players and then further flanked by Ramos and Mbappe. This must mean that Mbappe isn’t the main man at the club anymore. Or if he is – he needs to know this so that he can push Messi out too. After shoulder checking him on the way to talk to Neymar – this must be it! IS Mbappe going to be adopted by the Qatar kingdom? They must plan sometAs a neutral though – it’s quite fun to watch so much drama at the club.

2) What is not fun though is watching my team Man Utd at the bottom of the table after a disastrous start to the season. I think enough is being discussed on the problems and just because the players aren’t performing – the blame is going from anywhere to everywhere right now. Not defending the Glazers but this team is not that bad that they just roll-over and lose like that. The biggest lack right now is leadership in the dressing room. They were quite good without any crowd pressure and Ole as coach. The most excited I was to see them play since Fergie retired. Can we play them with earplugs or something?

De Gea cannot organize his defence, Maguire has no idea how to be a captain (but who else then? I know there’s no answer to that either). Bruno has perfectly blended into the Utd way – started brilliantly but now doesn’t know what to do. He’s even not complaining anymore like he was in the 2nd half of the season. Who knows what will happen to Ronaldo. He wants to but apparently no big team wants him, so his ego is clearly dented, and he needs a scapegoat.

Can’t wait to get Martial to get back. He must be the solve and the messiah to lift this team out of their misery. Oh wait we’ve done this before with Di Maria, Pogba, Maguire, Bruno, Varane, Sancho, Ronaldo, De Jong, Vladimir Putin, Jack Reacher, Thor, Darth Vader. Why don’t they get Mike Tyson as their Technical director’s assistant bouncer coach to scare these players. Maybe that’ll work. Nothing else seems to. I’m just kidding and in no way do I claim to know the solution – just wanted to rant.

3) Elon Musk might be the richest guy around but he’s also the most irritating. Trying to seek attention. Latest attempts include – The Heard/Depp Case, Twitter takeover, Man Utd takeover (to get likes my guess is). I’m jealous yes because he’s the richest man. But why him? Why not Greta Thunberg. Money is evil when you don’t have much of it.

4) I loved the end of the game scenes at Stamford bridge. Conte is so entertaining. Can we get a PPV fight between Conte and Tuchel? Any thoughts on if we could make this an all London tag team fight instead? And who would referee such a match? Mike Dean? Surely not Roy Keane? Maybe before the main event we can have Mings vs Souness? If they were the same age – maybe it would be a fair fight. So to make it fair – maybe Gerrard is the referee?

Cheers to randomness.
Ruben, MUFC, Canada


When is a hot take a hot take?
Earlier, I was intrigued when promised 11 hot takes by the mailbox. What I found inside said mailbox was quite disappointing.

“Hot take” is a phrase that gets thrown around all the time, but what does it mean?

In this context, I feel a hot take should meet the following criteria:

1. An opinion
2. That is not widely held
3. And is deliberately provocative/draws attention to itself. You want to ignore it but you’re too angry.

So let’s review these hot takes:

1. “Haaland is going to break every record.”
Not guaranteed, but uncontroversial to say that Haaland will be very good, particularly after the West Ham game.

2. “City’s title already.”
Difficult to argue against. Hardly a hot take.

3. “Arsenal looking like a team.”
‘Arsenal are playing well’ – not a hot take.

4. “Jesus is redeeming Arteta’s football beliefs.”
Arteta is divisive. But a hot take would be more like “Jesus will fire Arteta to his first league title.”

5. “Thought Conte is a psycho but Tuchel trumps him. And not just by a bit.”
Suppose it might provoke Spurs/Chelsea fans but the tone here could be more incisive, antagonistic.

6. “The fraud across Stanley Park is still a fraud.”
Uncontroversial. A hot take would be more like saying “Lampard is a future England manager.” And like most hot takes it would be wrong.

7. “Stevie needs to sort his team out or he’ll be first to go after the fraud.”
Close. “Stevie G. to be first sacking of the season” would do the trick.

8. “Bournemouth are as good as gone.”
Who is being provoked by this opinion? Who disagrees?

9. “Moyes’ last season as a manager in the English game.”
This is a hot take.

10. “Thomas Frank to be United’s next manager.”
Yeah I’ll give him this one too.

11. “Forest are back but f*ck Forest cos they’re Forest”
A provocation rather than a provocative opinion.


As a rule of thumb, it’s not a hot take unless it pisses off the majority of people reading it.



Just stop
Even more boring than VAR is fans moaning about some unspoken decision to rob them of points. Just stop. It is incredibly infantile.
Dan Mallerman


We can’t just stop…
Why is no-one talking about Reece James’s rugby tackle on Son? No attempt to play the ball, no attempt at a tackle, just a grab around the shoulders and a yank. Clearly violent conduct and should have been a red.

How often do players cynically assault another player to stop a breakaway and get a yellow? If the ref had done his job properly there would be no debate about hair-pulling.

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