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Ahoy there,

I was hoping to spend this newsletter reminiscing about my stunning trip to watch Barcelona Femení in real life, but then I remembered that while I was away feeling 24/7 joy and fun in the sun, I still found time to catch a few bitter comments from Man Utd manager Marc Skinner on my Twitter feed and it's only right that you, too, get to enjoy his misfortune.

So while I fulfil my duty of keeping you up to date with the freshest Skinner antics, I'll park my account of Catalonia for another day. For the time being, here's what you can expect from today's newsletter:
  • The problem with crying wolf
  • Horrible mistakes which turn out great
  • Tips for football managers
  • How to define 'swag'
  • ...and loads of other good stuff!!
Thanks for tuning in legends, have a great week 🀘🏼


No Problem for Me

You might remember Manchester United manager Marc Skinner from such embarrassing moments as setting security on critical fans and throwing his runners-up medal on the pitch after losing the FA Cup final.

Well, things have been tough going for him lately. His side finished second in the league last season, and this time around they've already lost sight of the top of the table, trailing third-placed Arsenal by seven points. Manchester United fans are calling for his head, but fortunately criticism hardly touches a man like Marc Skinner.

"You’re always going to find a stat to make me look bad," he said, after his decision to take off Nikita Parris on a hat-trick on Sunday was questioned, "that's no problem".

Clearly, he's not a man who lacks self-confidence. On some level, you have to respect it, but every so often it leads him to waffle on about nothing in much in a very entitled way. And the problem with being a serial waffler is that, after a while, people stop listening to you.
With less than half an eye on the world of football as I was enjoying a feast of sun, sea and cervezas last week, I saw that Marc Skinner had been mouthing off about Continental Cup qualification and thought 'here we go again, it's only Marc Skinner doing Marc stuff'.

The last time Man Utd came face to face with the impossible task of having to qualify in a tournament, Skinner came up with a load of bollocks about allowing smaller teams to compete in order to enhance the 'breadth and quality' of the competition. This is a nonsense way of saying that it would be easier for you, the competition organisers, to lower the standard of opponents than it is for me to raise my team's game to meet the challenge in front of us.

So imagine my reaction when I read that Skinner said this about the Continental Cup:
"We did everything we could to qualify from the most difficult group and I feel hopefully the right decision is made and it doesn't scold Manchester United."

Skinner, it seems, has a warped sense of cause and effect. Sometimes you do everything you can and it's enough. Other times, you do everything you can, and Manchester City's everything is better than yours.

Man Utd were drawn in Group B, which Skinner dubbed "the hardest group in the land, by the way", as though it were a Legend of Zelda side quest and not the first round of the League Cup. Fine, it is the only group in a competition fought between the top two tiers which comprised exclusively WSL sides, but that's football, you gotta be the best to win things.
Unfortunately for Skinner, Manchester City were the best in Group B, but there remained a chance for United to qualify as one of two best runners-up. Tottenham Hotspur were the best of the second-placed teams, bagging ten points after winning three matches and losing on penalties after tying with Arsenal.

With nine points, Man Utd were next on the list for a lifeline into the quarter-finals before "a horrible mistake" by Aston Villa manager Carla Ward turned Skinner's world upside down.

This January, Swiss defender Noelle Maritz joined Villa from Arsenal. Ward couldn't wait to put her shiny new toy into action, bringing Maritz on as a substitute in Villa's 7-0 Conti Cup thrashing of Championship side Sunderland. The problem is, Maritz competed in the cup for the Gunners earlier this season, making her cup-tied and ineligible to represent Aston Villa. D'oh.

For a while, there were whispers that Villa might be eliminated from the competition altogether for the gaffe, but luckily the FA decreed that instead Villa would only be penalised for the result affected by the admin error.
Sunderland suddenly found themselves top of the group as their 7-0 defeat was converted to three points, but it was okay for Villa, as they could still qualify as the best runners-up... leaving Marc Skinner's team out of the competition for a fault that had nothing to do with them.

It's a bit of a wonky fix, since Sunderland are unlikely to have earned those three points on the pitch, while Villa's mistake has actually made their path to the title easier, without rivals Man Utd standing in their way.

Hard luck, Skinner. It might help to remind yourself of two distinct benefits of this injustice:

1) Another learning to add to the Marc Skinner Manual of Football Management. If you win all your games, you'll qualify no matter what happens elsewhere. This applies in every competition across the globe!
2) When you do eventually get the sack, you will easily be able to play the shoulda woulda coulda injustice card ad infinitum.

πŸ’ͺ🏼😑 'And I would've won the Conti Cup too, if it weren't for that meddlin' Carla Ward!!'

Swag 'n' sweethearts

Carla Ward isn't the only Women's Super League manager who has absolutely no patience when it comes to giving new recruits their first go on the pitch. Emma Hayes was at it this weekend, taking advice from the Marc Skinner Manual of Football Management and taking off Lauren James eight minutes after her second goal set up a shot at a second successive WSL hat-trick.

Both her goals were, obviously, fantastic. For the opener, she linked up again with Lionesses team-mate Niamh Charles, who fired in a rapid cross which she struck first-time into the top corner, hardly even looking, without so much of a rotation of her hips. The second, by LJ's standards, was a much more average affair, another first-time strike, a half-volley, from the edge of the box into the bottom corner. What a fucking freak.

Hayes was prepared to face the wrath of LJ by taking off the young player in the midst of a red hot streak, but keeping James humble was only a fortuitous side-effect of the change, which intended to see how the world's most expensive player would fare in her Chelsea team.
Let me be clear about this. She might have cost €450,000, but the one thing you need to know about Mayra Ramírez is she's a certified G. That's right, I'm talking about swag, and Ramírez has got it in spades. Don't ask me to explain it, just watch her play football and you'll know what I mean.

What I liked about Ramírez when I watched her help Colombia to the quarter-finals of the World Cup last summer was that she works crazy hard and is hella tenacious. Many of the YouTube compilation highlights which have been published since her arrival was announced consist of her winning the ball back just by pressing high and being a giant pain in the arse. I can't wait to see what she does in the Women's Super League, and how her presence in Chelsea's attacking outfit might bring LJ on even further.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old academy product Aggie Beever-Jones has signed a fresh contract, presumably to adjust her salary to reflect that she's gone from absent loanee to the club's second-highest goalscorer, after Lauren James.

The forward, who can only be described as the WSL's Littolest Sweetie, said: "It's amazing, I haven't stopped smiling to be honest. This is my childhood club and to continue my journey here is a really exciting time."

Beever-Jones, who has scored five goals in eight league appearances so far this season, is now tied down until 2026. Sam who?

Quote of the Day

“I do not drink often but when I do, I make up for time. I am like an animal. I kicked off with the police officers. I was a bit of a bitch." this is what Claire, mum of England and Manchester City superstar Phil Foden, told police as they nicked her for assault during a vibrant evening out in a nightclub. In an incident which has since been described by Claire's defence lawyer as "a storm in a teacup", Claire was handcuffed on a caravan holiday in Wales, a precious break from her home life, in which her disabled son needs round-the-clock care.

After a few tequilas and a bitta kareoke, Claire thought it would be a laugh to knock the cap off the head of a man named Paul by bashing the peak. She then walked across the dance floor, picked it up and put it back on his head. In court, she later described this as "her party trick".

But the doormen weren't in a party mood and misinterpreted her efforts to put the cap back as Claire swinging for Paul. The court agreed that this was stupid and cleared her of assault. Sadly, though, they couldn't ignore the body cam footage of her subsequently telling police to "fuck off" as they cuffed her for a crime she didn't commit.

Fortunately Phil Foden makes the £100 she was fined every five minutes, and Claire definitely got the last laugh in court. I think there's something for Marc Skinner to learn here. Sometimes, in the face of injustice, you've just got to be a bit of a bitch.
Enjoy today's newsletter? Please pass me onto a friend! I'm sure you've got loads and I bet plenty of them would love to hear about Claire's girls weekend antics.

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