Mails: Why aren’t Man United signing World Cup successes?

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What England really needed

What England supposedly needed to compete:
-Players with great technical ability
-Fewer foreign players in the Premier League
-A winter break
-A world class manager
-A “root and branch” review

What England actually needed:
-High balls into the penalty area
-A failed Middlesbrough manager

It goes to show that perhaps you shouldn’t dwell too much on the “meaning” of seven matches, over a four-week period, every other summer. After all, the German and Spanish models don’t look too clever now, do they? And what would we have said about Germany and Spain had Higuain (2014) and Robben (2010) taken their chances in those finals?
Matthew, Belfast

And so he starts
It seems to me that the pick him/drop him debate over Sterling might be joyful to behold for the sake of learned and informed debate, but anyone worried about whether the groundswell of public and tabloid opinion will have any effect on whether he plays or not, you should remember one fact: There are two people on this planet who decide whether a fit Raheem Sterling starts a game – Messrs. Southgate and Guardiola.

On current evidence, both seem to agree about Raheem’s contributions on the pitch, and neither seems to give a flying one what other people think. Which is rather lovely.
Steve (If football’s coming home has anyone made up the guest bedroom?) Los Angeles

Some pertinent World Cup questions
1) How different might things have been under Sam Allardyce?

2) Is tiki-taka really dead? Or were Spain’s attacking players just not incisive or effective on the day, and lacking an actual manager to implement a Plan B?

3) Was the unselfish Lukaku dummy vs. Japan a turning point – evidence of a selfless team ethic – that will ultimately win Belgium the World Cup?

4) Is Harry Maguire the most improved footballer or all time?

5) Has anyone ever won three consecutive World Cup penalty shootouts?

6) How much are Belgium going to miss Meunier against France?

7) In order for football to hypothetically come home, England would have to marry their traditional aerial and set piece prowess with fluid, modern, skilful all-round play and the ball on the ground, and make no defensive mistakes. That’s impossible, right?

Don’t be ashamed of pride
I think John Nic’s article has pre-emptively tackled a lot of the accusations that Adam made in his mail yesterday morning about F365 becoming the S*n, but I just wanted to add a few more.

1. You can be left wing and patriotic – it’s a myth of the right that you can only be patriotic if you’re right wing. The issue with being patriotic and left wing is that we’ve (England and Britain) done some pretty awful things in the past and present. Many of the English and have had the weird experience of feeling uncomfortable with my country’s flag. I’d always seen it predominantly flown at EDL rallies, amongst the worst football hooliganism news stories and was aware of its prominent use in the 80s in attacking ethnically Pakistani and Indian communities.

That said, during this world cup I’ve seen it in a positive light for the first time I can remember. I watched the quarter final in Brixton and as we all poured out chanting and dancing into the street there were white, black, Indian and Asian men and women chanting the same song, many wearing the same England kit and holding up the same flag.

It’s tougher to use the England football team as a rallying point for racism if your starting 11 contains Young, Trippier, Lingard and Sterling (although the S*n shows they can still do it and there’s clearly lots of progress to be made). For the first time in ages, I feel I can enjoy being an England football supporter wholeheartedly as it doesn’t seem associated with exclusion in the same way as previously. That is a really exciting thing.

2. The idea that F365 shouldn’t celebrate England’s progress in the WC because some despicable individuals resort to domestic violence is almost beyond parody. Supporting a team that is also supported by idiots is unfortunately something you can’t escape whether it’s your club, country or political party. That doesn’t mean you should never support anything. Domestic violence is also not a uniquely English issue, should F365 boycott the WC entirely because of this fact? Surprised this point needs to be made.

3. Most of F365’s writers are English (MC please correct me if I’m wrong). It therefore follows that they should be quite excited about England progressing further in the WC further than at any time since 1990. We’re (English readers of the site) are so excited about the team both because of their success and the shifts in the presentation/feeling around the team and it’s management that I’ve poorly tried to explain above.

This is something to be celebrated, not sneered at. If I was on this site and an Irish/French/Scottish/Welsh/any other writer was doing a piece expressing their excitement about their side’s progress I’d relish the chance to share in their excitement and point of view. In fact, one of the most brilliant things about following many of the podcasts I’ve been listening to is hearing and sharing in the excitement of other countries’ fans and taking their opinions on England.

I spent the latter stages of the Euros supporting Wales and will always support the home nations when they play – I feel it’s sad if you can’t enjoy another person’s excitement without having to belittle it.

In short, this is an exciting time to be an England fan. If you’re the type of person who can get on board with supporting your own nation or someone else’s once yours has gone, please come and join us. We’d love to have you on board!
A surprisingly proud Englishman, London

Mourinho should be using our list
You could just call the piece “Five players Jose Mourinho should buy but won’t because he didn’t play with them elsewhere”. MUFC fans can only hope and pray that the continuing links to Willian is the new Sneijder or Bale guff.

Even in your list, Pavard sadly hasn’t been linked to Man United, despite being an obvious candidate. He’s tall enough for Mourinho to like him, versatile across the back four so can step in for any of our existing 6258 central defenders or our 1 functional right-back. Fast, strong crosser, defensive upgrade on Valencia. What’s not to love? Would be a damn sight cheaper than getting Alderweireld and Alex Sandro.

And given the obvious weakness on the right wing and the seeming reluctance on Woodward’s part to pay for anyone not named being craved by Man City, could you please push the Pavard to MCFC stories? Good ole’ Ed could be forced into action then!
Dev (Pavard in the red half on 9th August) Sengupta, Singapore.

Glorious revisionism over Toulon 2014
Reading Mediawatch, it’s strange how Charlie Sale remembers the Toulon Tournament of 2014. I remember it differently. I was published on your very own mailbox saying:

“Although it would explain England’s performance in the Toulon tournament under the gentle guidance of Gareth Southgate. This is an invitation youth tournament and in this year’s version Young England were particularly awful despite boasting many seasoned premier league footballers. But what stood out most was that Jack Butland between the stick would constantly be yelling these pearls of wisdom at his defenders whenever the ball was within 30 yards of the goal:

“Stop the cross, stop the cross”
“No penalties, no penalties”

And so on ad nauseam every single match! I assume that this was under instructions from the coaching staff? Are the players really so bereft of sense and intelligence that they need to be constantly berated with the obvious?”

The other thing I distinctly remember was desperately needing a goal against very lowly ranked opposition, getting a free kick around the halfway line, and instead of putting the ball in the mixer (with a team of young tall athletic young men), we timidly passed the ball back into our own half as if playing for a draw. Which we duly earned if I recall correctly. Strangely no amount of me screaming at the screen seemed to affect our tactics.

Fast forward four years, and I think it’s fair to say no-one has been more pleasantly surprised as to just how well Mr Southgate seems to have improved and blended a decent bunch of individual players into a pretty great team. I tip my hat to him.

But there was absolutely no hint of that at Toulon 2014, let me assure you.
Collin Hack

Brendan gonna Brendan
I would just like to express my thanks to Brendan Rodgers. In the midst of a huge footballing week, Brendan steps up and delivers 110% Brendan to make sure Brendan is the story.

We will never forget you Brendan!

Short and sweet
Hello keep updating me about Manchester United news.
Nangiro Fred
(MC – Here you go)

A final reminder
Thought you might want to let you’re readers know as a ‘heads up’ in case they’re interested..

England play Croatia in semi final of World Cup, this Wednesday. 7pm k.o.

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