Tweets of the Week: MUFC dressing room drama

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Now he’s back in the TV game, Gary Neville can tweet freely and he was busy this week, answering fan questions, addressing dressing room leaks and Liverpool’s official twitter account getting rowdy with a supporter’s account.

Meanwhile, ex-City midfielder Paul Lake had a few choice words for Yaya Toure’s agent.

 

…then news broke of players apparently disagreeing with Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw post-Watford

…while Neville didn’t take kindly to Liverpool not taking kindly to a United fan’s group tweet…then Jamie Carragher got involved

TWEETLETS

There were birthday wishes for everyone’s favourite six machine Chris Gayle while rugby hero Sonny Bill Williams went cruising round his local supermarket with his daughter…

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Arsene Wenger's 20 best Arsenal signings

Who do you think has been Wenger's best signing?

Do you agree with the selection?

Has anyone been missed from this list? Are the players in the right order?

Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

1. THIERRY HENRY Without a doubt the best piece of business Arsene Wenger has ever done. From failing to score in his first eight games to becoming the club’s all-time leading goal scorer, there’s a reason why Titi is called The King’. 2. PATRICK VIEIRA Joined the club with Le Prof in 1996, Vieira was a vital cog in midfield throughout his career. Not only did he win the double with Arsenal in his first full season, the Frenchman scored the opening goal against Tottenham in the North London derby, captaining the club to become ‘The Invincibles’. 3. EMMANUEL PETIT Petit’s partnership with Vieira in the middle of the park was one of the many strokes of genius that Wenger made. Originally a left midfielder, Emmanuel was converted into a defensive stalwart; and he completely bossed that position in his three years at Highbury. 4. MARC OVERMARS Despite his constant injuries, the Dutchman always delivered whenever it came to stepping up to the plate. He scored against league leaders Manchester United to put Arsenal six points behind with three games to spare, and then a brace against Everton to win the title in 1998. Overmars also got the all-important opener against Newcastle United during the FA Cup final which led Arsenal to their first double under Arsene Wenger. 5. FREDDIE LJUNGBERG Freddie’s best form came to life during the second-half of the double-winning 2001-2002 season, scoring 17 goals in all competitions. He scored vital strikes against the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool in the league, as well as the second goal against Chelsea during the 2002 FA Cup final, which coincidentally made him the first player to score in two consecutive finals. 6. ROBERT PIRES Voted by fans as the sixth greatest player in Arsenal’s history, Pires played a crucial part in The Invincible’s era. Forming a dominating attacking partnership with Ashley Cole and Thierry Henry on the left-side of the pitch, Robert scored 14 goals and notched seven assists that season. It’s a shame his last match in Arsenal colours led him to be substituted for Manuel Almunia after just 18 minutes during the Champions League final against Barcelona, when Jens Lehman was sent off. 7. ROBIN VAN PERSIE Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Van Persie carried the club on his shoulders during his eight years in a Gunners jersey. His last strike for Arsenal not only made him the top scorer in 2011-2012 season, but also the club’s eighth highest record scorer. 8. MESUT OZIL At £42.5 million, Ozil is Arsenal’s most expensive signing. The ‘Assist King’ has been an integral cog in the midfield since his first day at the club. Last season saw him tally Thierry Henry’s record of 20 assists in all competitions, which won him the Arsenal Player of the Season Award. 9. ALEXIS SANCHEZ The Chilean’s transfer was a bargain. His first season at the club saw him win Arsenal’s first trophy in nine years and finish the season with an impressive 25 goals in all competitions. 10. JENS LEHMANN The German stopper played every single game of the 2003-04 season and kept a record 10 clean sheets during the 2005 Champions League. Noted for leaving his position and coming out of the box to intercept passes, mad Jens’ most famous moment of ridiculousness was when he was sent off against Barcelona – being the first player and only goalkeeper ever to be given his marching orders in a Champions League final.
11. SOL CAMPBELL What better way to ignite a flame against your fiercest rival than stealing their best defender – that too, on a free transfer! The ex-England international enjoyed a formidable partnership with either Tony Adams or Martin Keown in his first two seasons, and then an indestructible one with Kolo Toure during the unbeaten season of 2003-04. 12. CESC FABREGAS Joining the Arsenal Academy form Barcelona at the age of 16, he became Arsenal’s youngest ever first team player in 2003. He also became the club’s youngest-ever goal scorer during the League Cup match against Wolverhampton that same year. Although he never won any title honours during his entire career with the Gunners, Wenger built the team around him. The former captain’s return to boyhood club Barcelona was the hardest for Arsenal fans to swallow. 13. LAUREN Joining Arsenal in 2000, Lauren cemented his place as the first choice right-back towards the end of Lee Dixon’s career, and was one of the unsung heroes of The Invincibles side. Despite being blighted by injuries for most of his Arsenal career, he won five major trophies in seven seasons. 14. LAURENT KOSCIELNY One of Europe’s most consistent and reliable defenders, Laurent has been a valuable part of the back four since his arrival from Lorient in 2010. A total of 21 goals to date isn’t bad for a defender, either. It also makes him Arsenal’s highest scoring defender in the Premier League era. 15. SANTI CAZORLA Not only is Santi ambidextrous, he’s also technically gifted. Brought in to fill the void in midfield left by Fabregas and Nasri, the diminutive Spaniard displayed a statement performance in his debut match and has gone on to become irreplaceable – either by dictating play, scoring or assisting. Always with a smile on his face, it makes one wonder if he truly is the happiest man in the planet. 16. TOMAS ROSICKY He may have spent the majority of his 10 seasons injured, but the Little Mozart was a stellar buy from Borussia Dortmund. Producing match-winning performances whenever he played, Rosicky scored some crazy screamers for Arsenal. If it weren’t for his injuries, you could say that Tomas could’ve become Arsenal’s greatest ever No. 7. 17. PETR CECH Considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of his generation, Cech’s price tag came with a legendary status; being somewhat of a cult hero at Chelsea before making the switch to Arsenal. Rarely prone to making errors, the Czech stopper is the most reliable goalkeeper we’ve seen at North London in years. 18. GILBERTO SILVA During his time with Arsenal, Gilberto developed into one of the best defensive midfielders in Europe. His best season with Arsenal was during The Invincibles, playing 32 Premier League matches, scoring four goals and notching one assist. 19. NICOLAS ANELKA Anelka joined Arsenal as a 17-year-old and spent just two seasons at the club. He was a key player during the 1997-98 season, firing the Gunners to their fist double in 30 years, and finished the following campaign – his last at Arsenal - as the club’s top scorer with 17 Premier League goals. His blistering pace and power, at times, made him unplayable. 20. HECTOR BELLERIN Like Fabregas, Hector was brought to the Arsenal Academy as a youth product at the age of 16. Following injuries to Mathieu Debuchy, Calum Chambers and Nacho Monreal, Hector was recalled back into the first-team squad for the 2014 Champions League match against Barcelona. The Spaniard is now the first choice right-back for the club and there’s no sign of him letting go of that spot any time soon.

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Manchester United yet to see best of suffering Pogba

Adam Digby 22/09/2016
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Pogba has failed to shine so far during his second spell at United.

What do you get for €109 million? It seems the answer depends on who you ask, particularly as the Paul Pogba who is currently struggling to adapt to life back in the Premier League appears to be a very different – and vastly inferior – player to the all-action midfielder who dominated at Juventus last season.

His return to Manchester United after four years in Turin has not been as smooth as he, the supporters, his agent or Jose Mourinho would have hoped. Simply put, the Frenchman is looking increasingly frustrated as he fails to make the same impact in red as he so often did in those famous black and white stripes.

The possible reasons are plentiful, but there may not be a simple solution to them. That world record transfer fee is currently weighing heavily on Pogba, the criticism and analysis of him undoubtedly magnified through the context of him now being the most expensive player in the history of the sport.

“He was a very talented young player, I played with him and I knew how good he was,” former team-mate Paul Scholes said recently. “For that sort of money, you want someone who is going to score 50 goals a season like [Cristiano] Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi. Pogba is nowhere near there yet.”

First of all, it must be noted that the ex-England international’s statement undoubtedly misses the point that the fee is related to two factors that have little to do with on-field production or an ability to score goals like that duo of superstars. The vast and seemingly limitless potential of the 23-year-old means United paid a premium for the player Pogba could be in the future rather than the one he is today, while his hugely popular image can be marketed worldwide by the club’s relentless merchandising machinery.

But Scholes is not the only former player to slam Pogba in recent weeks, with Jamie Carragher making some particularly scathing criticisms after the derby loss to Manchester City. “For a central midfielder in a game of that magnitude, it was one of the most ill-disciplined performances you will see in the first 40 minutes,” the retired Liverpool defender said on UK tv. “The only way to describe it was like a kid in the school ground. The best player in the school. Does what he wants, runs where he wants.”

However, it was another ex-United man who truly got to the real issue, as a strong case was made for Mourinho to opt for a three-man midfield rather than continuing with the 4-2-3-1 he has deployed since taking charge at Old Trafford. “He’s not someone you would play in a midfield two,” Phil Neville noted. “You don’t want him to be disciplined.”

And there it is, the ultimate answer to what kind of player he is. It is a lesson neither Antonio Conte nor Max Allegri needed to be taught at Juventus, but it is one that has so far failed to be learned by either France boss Didier Deschamps or indeed Mourinho. Pogba, while clearly gifted with technical ability, power and athleticism, is almost exclusively available to deliver those skills from the left of a three-man midfield.

Perhaps that should not be the case, perhaps he should be more flexible and versatile, but wishing he was will not change the reality that he isn’t. It seems ludicrous that he is limited in this fashion, but Euro 2016 showed that Pogba truly struggles even on the right of a midfield three, so much of his impact lessened by being on the “wrong” side of the pitch.

Of course he has played elsewhere, first breaking into the team at Juve as a backup for Andrea Pirlo in the central midfield role of Conte’s trademark 3-5-2 system. That limited him to playing very simple passes and holding a position, providing a reference point for the likes of Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal to run off him while protecting the defence behind him.

As his ability began to shine however, he was soon released from such a shackling task and his ability to break forward but still recover whenever the ball was lost made him a key figure for the Bianconeri. He blossomed when Allegri handed him even greater responsibility last term, charging Marchisio and Sami Khedira to use their immense tactical awareness while Pogba ran free ahead of them.

That is no longer the case with Mourinho in charge, United very much playing to bring the best from men ahead of him in the team, a young core of attacking players looking to deliver the ball to the prolific Zlatan Ibrahimovic. This is very much in-keeping with the Swedish striker’s career, spearheading sides which are built around his talent and often suppressing the natural ability of everyone else in the starting XI.

For now, Pogba is there in a two-man midfield alongside Marouane Fellaini and his impact has been blunted, his natural ability wasted as he is asked to be a holding midfielder. That is something he clearly finds alien, instead wanting to get on the ball, to drive forward and create, both for himself and others.

The 2015/16 campaign saw him register career highs in both goals and assists, the runs from left midfield opening up space to either launch a “Pogboom!” as his powerful shots become known, or slip a pass to the strikers ahead of him. Indeed, if the Portuguese boss wanted to persevere with his 4-2-3-1, there is no denying that Pogba would thrive far more in the band of three behind Zlatan than in the double-pivot role he now finds himself.

Yes he can be frustrating, yes he should be doing more. For all his speed, unpredictability and sparkling personality, Pogba was often guilty of overplaying at times in Turin, but Allegri handled that perfectly too and Mourinho is fully capable of doing the same. However, the latter is also famously stubborn, currently sat repeatedly hammering the most flamboyant of square pegs into the most dour of round holes.

If he wants the best his expensive new star has to offer, then Phil Neville is right. Mourinho needs to remove the training wheels and take off the handbrake. He needs to hand him a freer role and simply let Paul Pogba be Paul Pogba. It’s what he does best.

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