Man Utd fans are suffering from a Liverpool-like self-delusion

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Man Utd empathy

I am a Liverpool fan. Have been since about 92 ish which is when I started watching football.

That means until last year the only Liverpool I ever knew, was the sometimes nearly men living on past glories and the occasional cup win. Sound familiar?

I had seen the club spend large amount of money on players which were average or worse. I’ve seen us tempt players with massive wages because we had nothing else to really offer beyond the odd cup. Getting more familiar?

I’d seen us play great attacking football but win nothing and watched as negative managers from the continent gained success in cups.

I’ve seen a heralded takeover by American owners (Hicks and Gilette) turn out to be nothing but a box of empty promises and bad finance.

I’ve seen manager fight with the owners (Rafa Vs H&G) and I’ve seen a lower tier (sorry woy) manager appointed to work on a shoe string budget. I’ve also seen a club legend brought in to steady the ship (Dalglish) and calm the disgruntled fans (who still believed the club was a giant despite years in the wilderness.

We got incredibly lucky twice. One when FSG bought the club because despite missteps every now and then they’ve largely been good for the club and then again when klopp was appointed. without those two things I don’t think we would ever have stopped being a cup team living on our past.

I’m saying this because nobody understands the current mindset of United fans better than a Liverpool fan because you’re going through all the same stages we did, the parallel is uncanny. I won’t speak for every fan but I constantly lied to myself about the state of the club and also the pulling power and weight of the club based entirely on history. You are doing the same.

Its a brutal truth that you need to accept, you’re not the club you were. You can be again, but right now, you’re not. Its difficult to see all this when you’re stuck in hazy glow of the past but trust me when I say how you see your club is not the same as how EVERYONE else sees it. I’ve been there, I know how tightly that self delusion grips you.

This is why you couldn’t bully Dortmund, a club whose model is selling their best players. In the past that transfer would have been easy. This is why you have to pay extortionate wages to persuade people to join or stay. You have to offer these things when the club cannot offer trophies or even competing at the tippy top.

You’ve already had a lot of false dawns and there will be many many many more. You will lie to yourselves more about who you are now by thinking about who you were then. You will tell yourself that players are signing for the glory of the club and not the salary in the bank. You will convince yourself that this year is the year, only to find yourselves struggling to make champs league.

I’m not saying any of this to gloat. Its a painful fantasy in which your living, I know because I was there. I’m saying this because the minute you accept reality, it gets less painful. Maybe you’ll be rescued like we were. I hope so because despite being rivals I respect the achievements of United but they already seem like a long time ago.

Accept reality and stop telling yourselves that you’re still the club you were and then you can support the club you are. Accept who you are now because until you stop looking backwards, you cant possibly move forwards.


Mission ‘Eradicate Dier’

Enough already

I have acquired a new habit. I read every F365 article about either Tottenham or the England team right until I arrive at the mandatory Eric Dier bashing paragraph. Needless to say, I don’t get to finish many reads.

Seriously though. Eric Dier is an England international player with 43 caps, several while serving as England captain. He has averaged 40 games per season, and his team has not finished below 6th position while he has been there. Granted, Spurs won naught in those years, but they came close to winning both the Premiership and the Champions League. It is difficult to argue that Eric Dier was the reason that Spurs couldn’t break through that glass ceiling, yet when I read all those biased F365 articles, I get the feeling that Dier is responsible for everything bad going on in the world today, including Donald Trump, COVID19 and Ellen DeGeneres.

Eric Dier struck the decisive penalty that gave England their first ever World Cup shootout win. I dare not think what shit storm he would have received had he bottled it, like many an England hero has done before him. He is as honest a professional as they come. He gave 180 minutes for Spurs in two days, bagging the MOM award against Chelsea – where he again buried his penalty strike. Yet, if I read F365, it’s like this never happened.

Now, Dier played against the top ranked Belgians (let’s just ignore them) and conceded a penalty. Unless the F365 writers have been living under rocks for the past couple of years, you have seen that penalties are as common as Mesut Özil no-shows these days. That’s not to say that he is impervious to mistakes, but if Dier has made himself worthy of being the premier F365 scapegoat, I wonder what you lot make of the 20 times more expensive refrigerator affectionately known as “slab head”?

F365 seems to be on a mission to eradicate Eric Dier’s career. A weaker player might succumb to pressure like that, but Dier knows his worth – and his club and international managers knows this too. Their opinion is somewhat more valuable than that of a couple of sorry sports writers. Nevertheless, it would be nice if you could shape up and pay Dier the respect he deserves.
Sincerely, Stein (Norway)



This past weekend, Le Bron James led the LA Lakers to their 17th and his 4th NBA title.

James has now won the title with the Miami Heat (2), Cleveland Cavaliers and now the Lakers.

Notwithstanding his 17 year professional career, this is a significant achievement that has led some to label him one of, if not the greatest basketball player of all time.

Throw in 2 Olympic gold medals, 4 x Finals MVP and 4 x NBA MVPs and its hard to argue against it.

Michael Jordan had 6 NBA titles to his name for context.

“BUT THIS ISNT BASKETBALL365” I hear you cry.

Don’t worry, I’m getting there.

This is something I have often thought about.

Is winning multiple titles with the same team, greater, less than or equal to winning multiple (less) titles with multiple teams.

In the red corner, players like Ryan Giggs, Lionel Messi, Dario Srna and Trevor Steven.

Giggs famously has 13 titles, Messi has 10, Srna has 11 and Steven has 9 (7 with Rangers).

The point here is, while these are all fantastic players, they clearly played for the dominant team of their era.

We will call these Jordans.

In the blue corner, players like Wesley Sneijder, Ronaldo, Diermerci Mbokani, and one Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sneijder has 5 titles with 4 different teams, Ronaldo 7/3, Mbokani 6/3 and Ibrahimovic 11/5.

Lets call these the LeBrons.

Now, for me (is Clive still working!?), the Lebrons show the greatest achievement.

To move clubs and to continue to be successful is incredibly difficult.

Think about it in your own life. Moving jobs, let alone countries is a stressful time, so to repeat your success with different team mates, managers, countries is the bigger achievement for me.

I am not saying that winning multiple titles with a dominant team is not impressive,.

But looking back over a career of a player that’s won elsewhere, is far more satisfying.

No doubt you will all agree and this will be the end of the matter.


Project Big Picture

Reading Captain Kirk’s piece on Project Big Picture and I can’t help but think, let’s get real here. The concept that 14 clubs will vote for Kirk’s proposals are ludicrous – why would they – it’s very disadvantageous to them.

So many people are advocating for the Prem, the FA or even the Government to step in here and beat the nasty Big 6 clubs back into submission but the reality is; they have a lot of power. If I had to guess, I’d say world-wide 90% of people who pay to watch Premier League football is due directly or indirectly to those Big 6 clubs (and maybe Everton, a smidgeon). Most of the others are wonderful clubs but in reality, when it comes to generating revenue, they simply make up the numbers… yet they regularly vote in ways detrimental to the Big 6 (e.g., the rules on subs for this season, the number of games they have to face domestically, etc).

The reality dictates that some concessions and compromise will need to be made (just like UEFA did in order to prevent a break-away league) and most of the Project Big Picture demands seem rather reasonable to me except one: That a few individuals, most of them living overseas, can decide everything about the Premier League. It sounds and feels like a cabal which is not the direction the game should be heading in.

If the power is to be limited to a few clubs, then those clubs simply must be public. i.e., they have to be listed on an exchange with no individual (or individuals in concert) owning more than 20% of the club. This recognises that those brands have the power but also stops the league becoming a cabal like the sports franchises in the US (but even worse).

I wonder how the US, Middle East and Russian owners would react to that stipulation…
Ben (London)


Some magical thinking was evident in the Mailbox this morning, most notably from Graham Kirk, about changing the Project Big Picture proposals. AKA keeping all the nice things we like and getting rid of the things we don’t.

Afraid to say that’s not how the world works and it’s not how social progress is made. Anyone remember Jeremy Corbyn?

The promise of large cash transfers from the Premier League – while not quite as generous as headlines suggest – is the big prize here, and partially reverses a historical wrong. The question is who pays for this and who benefits (both in terms of immediate payments, and structural changes that affect club finances long-term)

There are four main interests at play here.
– The “Big 6” clubs who have global reach, billionaire owners and/or huge revenues
– The “Other 14” PL clubs, who enjoy the financial benefits of being part of the PL, are unlikely to go bust anytime soon, but are aware of the fragile nature of their membership of the elite
– The contenders, clubs in the upper reaches of the Championship, mostly former PL members who see the pot of gold awaiting if they can get back there.
– The rest of the EFL, generally existing on small revenues and at constant risk of financial ruin.

These proposals impact the four groups in different ways. It’s unrealistic to think that any proposals are not going to have a quid pro quo in them – Graham is basically expecting the ‘Other 14’ clubs to change the proposals in a way that benefits them and reduces the benefit for the Big 6. Badly missing the point – the main competition for the other 14 is not the Big 6. The real downside for the Other 14 clubs from this proposal is the fact that some of their revenue is going to be transferred to EFL, and without parachute payments they will have to compete against EFL clubs on a level playing field if they go down.

Indeed, some of the proposals seem declined to placate or buy off the Other 14 to get them to accept the proposals. Including a slight reduction in the chances of being relegated, and the promise of letting three bigger members of the Other 14 join the Big 6 as majority PL shareholders.

Most of the proposals seem designed as initial negotiating stances. They can easily be tweaked depending on what the different interests prioritise. Top of my head – to placate the Other 14 you could make PL relegation slightly less likely by having 16th and 17th in the playoffs, not just 17th. Or you could keep some reduced level of parachute payment. Or you could invite more of the Other 14 into the majority stakeholder group. All of these things will play differently to the different interests, so if you are benefiting the Other 14 they’ll need to be some further compensation for the EFL clubs so they accept it (notwithstanding they have a fairly weak negotiating position).

So, yes, tweaks and compromise will inevitably happen. But be realistic about what these might be. I’m personally focused on the prize of increasing PL subsidy of the EFL, but not everyone involved will think the price of that is worth paying.
Richard MCFC


In response to Graham Kirk, I agree there are some good elements of the proposal, but how exactly do they include reducing the Premier League to 18 teams and allowing each of those teams to stockpile players for loan? The blatant power grab is expected coming from 2 teams owned by Americans (the closed shop nature of American sports leagues tend to give team owners a lot more power), but the changes to the loan system seem like a hugely damaging way to keep the door as firmly closed as possible. Premier league teams could dump their best 15 youth prospects into the Championship with mandated playing time, the 4 best to the same team to develop chemistry, and any team who manages to harness this well enough to achieve promotion gets almost half their team taken off them and they’re totally screwed going into a PL season needing to buy a load of players who won’t have played together before.

Actual changes to the loan system which might work: 1) include a right to buy in every loan deal (at a fair price, capped at £10m) and let the player decide where they’d like to play in future, 2) replace all loan deals with purchases + escalating buyback option (the Douglas Luiz to Villa deal).
James (AVFC)


So, in response to everyone expecting Liverpool fans to fall in behind our overlords.


The proposals are a shitty power grab.  They’re throwing money at vulnerable clubs, promising sweetness and light, and buried in there is the power for the big six to amend the rules themselves.  Rules that cover TV rights distribution, streaming, accepting new owners, a salary cap and so on.

It’s a smart power grab, because a lot of the proposals do actually address longstanding issues within the game, and are stepping into the void left by the failure of the government, the PL and the FA, all of whom should also hang their heads in shame if this does come to pass.

I don’t think there’s any possibility of discussing it or amending it to remove the objectionable part because for the big clubs there is one key driver in all this generosity, and that is control.  Without the control the generosity will evaporate.  With the control, well we’ve all seen how la liga and serie A work.
Dan, Plastic LFC


Project Big Picture seems to be the flavor of the day and I certainly think it might be a good idea to help lower league clubs and football as a whole in the country, however I would like to table another idea. Can we please bring back the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. Loved that competition, was always more interesting than the lacklustre UEFA Cup and it only had one team from each country (except for the country’s team who won the previous years competition) meaning you came across more obscure clubs even in later rounds.

More European competition with pure knockout rounds throughout and with lesser known clubs would be more fun than what we have right now.
William, Leicester


These ‘support packages’ are bribes. This is some mafioso strategy adopted by the big clubs.

The 6 heads of the big families come together to consolidate more power.
Dale (Scorcese should adapt this mess) 


Now that the Eye of Sauron has focused on the less successful hedge fund managers in the Premier League, has anyone asked Sean Dyche what his views on the whole thing are?
SC, Belfast



Best CBs

Completely agree with Mikey CFC’s choices for best centre backs per decade in yesterday’s mailbox – the only names I could challenge for the 2010s were Diego Godin and Thiago Silva. It’s too early for 2020s!

However, I think defenders (and arguably goalkeepers) can’t be individualised the way attacking players are, certainly not from a positive, best-of-breed light. Their game changing moments are often clangers, whereas attackers are moments of brilliance. I’ve always figured that goes some way to explain the cynicism of attacking players usually winning all the individual awards in a team game.

Mikey himself said CB partnerships are a different list entirely- I agree. I’d extend that to the full back line (including GK), given their collective achievements. But who’s been best over the decades? The first irst that sprang to mind were:

90s – Milan (best ever?)
00s – Chelsea during Jose’s first spell
10s – Simeone’s Atletico
20s – too early, but Liverpool so far
Graeme, Glasgow 


Bergkamp and Portillo

I can’t let you finish the lookalikes without telling you that Dennis Bergkamp is Beavis. (And Michael Portillo is Butthead.)
Mark Lewis, SWFC


Cannot believe nobody has mentioned the best lookalike ever, the Ballon Dor of lookalikes, I give you Arsene Wenger and Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss
Paul Murphy, Manchester


How has no-one remembered Steve Bruce is the Bird Lady from Home Alone!?!? Easily the greatest look-a-like the site ever found!!!!
Paul (Spurs) T.Wells



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Man Utd fans are suffering from a Liverpool-like self-delusion