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There was a lot of criticism of Ed Woodward in yesterday’s mailbox about his handling of United’s current woes, in particular, his refusal to sack Van Gaal. I believe, depending on who you think should be the next United manager, Van Gaal’s continued employment is actually a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Van Gaal is the right man for United, so let me explain why he has not been sacked and why it’s good that he hasn’t.
I have heard many a rumour and much speculation about various things happening at the club. It basically boils down to a split, of sorts, in the boardroom, on one side you have Sir Alex Ferguson’s group which includes Sir Bobby Charlton and David Gill, and on the other, Ed Woodward. Essentially, you could simply say ‘The Giggs’ camp and ‘The not Giggs’ camp/person. Both camps would, for the time being at least, prefer Van Gaal to remain as it suits both parties agendas.
Firstly Ferguson. Ferguson wants head boy Ryan to get the job but realises that, at this moment, it’s a hard sell. After all, he has three problems, if Van Gaal is sacked Giggs would’ve been part of two failed managerial regimes and this problem can only be solved if Van Gaal remains and wins something this season, so for that Van Gaal needs to stay. The next hurdle can be called the ‘Mourinho problem’. Arguing for Giggs to get the job ahead of Mourinho would be like arguing that the club doesn’t need to sign Luis Suarez because they already have Will Keane. Ferguson need his old pal to find himself a job, until then, Van Gaal needs to stay.
The final problem is with the fans. There is very little support from the Old Trafford faithful for Giggs to be the next manager. However, this is a problem that Ferguson can try and fix. It requires a campaign using the media, in particular the written press, to push Giggs propaganda into the heads of United fans. This was a tactic used when getting David Moyes the job in the past. For around eighteen months before ‘the Chosen One’ arrived United fans were told over and over again by pundits, ex-players and journalists how Moyes was Fergie MkII and how much of a natural fit he was for United. So when he was appointed, instead of having an angry/bewildered reaction like John Nicholson had, United fans welcomed Moyes with open arms while fans of other clubs laughed.
The British press will always champion the poor, downtrodden British manager over one of those nasty foreign types, even if it is Mourinho, so it’s easy to enlist their help in the #giveittogiggsy campaign. The campaign is under way. Last week started with a story of an unnamed ‘senior figure'(Ferguson) claiming that Giggs will be the next manager. This is designed to put this idea out there for the fans to mull over. Then two days later comes a carrot, Gareth Bale would be keen to play for his idol Giggs(because of course he wouldn’t want to play for Guardiola or Mourinho). Then on Saturday morning came the claim that Giggs has been taking match day training and making it more fun, Yay! The timing of this reveal was to coincide with a handsome home win over a lge One side where after, Giggs, not Van Gaal, would take the credit and the propaganda machine would have lift off. Unfortunately for Ferguson, Giggs and Neil Custis United were total plop once more, oops. Even so, this tactic will still take a while to take effect, so until then Van Gaal needs to stay.
So onto Woodward. It is said that Ed really doesn’t fancy the idea of Giggs being manager, so much so, that he doesn’t even want him to take the job on an interim basis as it’ll only fuel the #giveittogiggsy campaign. You can see his point. After all Ed’s job is on the line if the next guy’s a failure. So my understanding(rumours I’ve heard) is that Ed has accepted that Van Gaal is not the right man and is actively looking for a replacement. Unlike the last two appointments every possible candidate is being considered, which takes time. Ed is contacting all candidates, finding out which ones want the job and are available and then he’ll make his decision. I believe Ed would ideally like to keep Van Gaal until the summer and then make the change. The list supposedly includes, Allegri, Blanc, Conte, Guardiola, Pochettino, Simeone and, of course, Mourinho. Because of the Giggs situation he doesn’t want Van Gaal to go until he has his man lined-up.
So you see, if you don’t want Giggs or Mourinho as United manager then it’s probably best if Van Gaal stays, at least, for a little while longer. If you do want either Giggs or Mourinho then hope for an embarrassing defeat to Newcastle tonight and a drubbing at Anfield on Sunday because no matter what the politics are at the club such results will almost certainly force Ed’s hand.
Having written all this I’ll probably awaken to news that Van Gaal has signed a new five year deal!
Why doesn’t Fergie get more stick?
Just a quick one as have wrote in before on the same subject (without getting published).
Why isn’t Fergie getting more stick for his part in this mess?
I love the man but it seems to me he still has a lot of power behind the scenes and by all accounts chose Moyes as his successor which has set the club back years. Reports from some reputed United fanzines also suggest that he has been very vocal in not wanting Jose to replace LVG. This, coupled with the terrible squad he left behind – yes I get they were champions but for someone who knew they were retiring the squad he left behind had so many holes in it – and the fact that both himself and Gill left in the same summer really has tarnished his legacy. He talked for years about how important leaving a solid foundation was but from what I have seen he has contributed to the club making the exact same mistakes that Liverpool made in the early 90’s.
For someone I love so much for what he accomplished during his years as manager, I find myself increasingly bitter towards him
Killian (Love to see Cantona as Manager) MUFC, Dublin
We’re not all d*cks, honest
Can I just say not all United fans are whiny little entitled sh*ts like seemingly most who populate the mailbox, yes LvG’s football is turgid and slow and boring but compared to our time under Sexton it’s positively Barca-esque, going all Emo doom and gloom over a loss to Norwich, try sitting through a six nil drubbing from Ipswich with no shots on or off target then maybe you can shed a mascara tinted tear. United as a team needs a massive injection of positivity which at the moment cannot be provided by captain cheeseburger Rooney, play a fluid front 3 of Memphis, Martial & Lingard some pace and youthful exuberance without captain drop back and give me the ball. Summing up it could be a lot worse, suck it up and see what happens, the adage about being to big to go down can be used regarding United, to big, to rich and to successful to let setbacks keep them down, they will be back and unlike Liverpool in the 1980’s are equipped to do it.
Paul Murphy. Manchester
It could be worse…
Having read and listened to Man U fans complaining of the 2 1.2 season demise (still in the FA Cup and still with a slim chance of fourth)
i have to say my patience is wearing very thin. As Leeds fan since 1967, i can honestly say what you’re going through now we would gladly accept and so would 95%
of other football supporters. Unparalleled success for 25 years followed by three lean years where you still get to attract one of the top managers can can spend £250m on players
At Leeds we have an ex-Rotherham Manager in charge, what seems like a befuddled dodgy Italian as owner, and not enough money to spend 1% of what Man U have spent.
So i saw this with all the greatest respect in the world – get over yourselves – you’re no entitled, you were just lucky enough to have the best manager English football has seen and
he stayed in charge for over 25 years/ Welcome to the world the rest of us inhabit.
Gordon (die hard Leeds fan, who dies a little bit more with each result)
I know we have like 100 strikers on the books but, and let’s be brutally honest, how many do you see being at the club next year? Balotelli should never return. Benteke is seemingly at odds with Klopp’s methods. Sturridge is Mr Glass. Origi has done OK at best & Klopp has yet to see Ings play. Not really any names that demand to be kept on that list (for the record, I’d keep Sturridge only for the fact he’d obviously get fit at another club and it would kill me inside).
So that’s where Berahino comes into this. A lad who’s quick and a decent finisher? Can do a job out wide? Does actual centre-forwardy things like running channels? Yep, we could use a lad who does all these things. And given he’s barely played and his reputation’s a bit damaged (wrongly, but that’s people for you) you’d imagine he wouldn’t cost the earth even with the English premium. Plus, at 22, he’s at that age where a striker can really make a massive leap if they have the right coaching behind them.
Or buy Messi. I hear he’s good.
Kris, LFC, Manchester
The point of being a football fan
In response to Tom, Port FC, Thailand,
My view has always been that football gives us something to which we’re emotionally connected, but without any real world consequences. The usual cliché of comparing football (and almost everything else) as a “rollercoaster” is actually very apt. I think that a fundamental part of human nature is that we’re addicted to emotion, both good and bad. One thing I hear a lot in relation to depression (without wanting to get into a debate about it or possibly offend anyone) is that people “feel nothing”.
Football gives us our emotional ‘fix’, allowing us to invest as much as we want, giving us highs and lows like real life, but without the real world costs of things going poorly. I don’t think anyone would argue (with the possible exception of Man Utd fans) that things would get very boring pretty quickly if your team was guaranteed to win every game. What would be the point? You can see this in most forms of entertainment; movies, TV and books allow us to emotionally connect with the characters and we are emotionally affected, however slightly, by what happens to them in the story. Shows like Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor are a clear examples, with fans enjoying choosing their favourite and investing time and emotion in their fortunes.
To bring it back to football (sorry for the rambling), as an Arsenal fan, our FA cup win in 2014 was one of the sweetest trophy’s I’ve seen us win because of the ‘drought’ that came before. To the same point, if we were to win the title this season I can only imagine it would feel much better than, for example, Utd’s third win in a row in ‘08/09. To be clear, I’m not saying that every fan should be happy regardless of how their team is doing, I’m saying the opposite; people enjoy football because they can expect both happiness and unhappiness throughout their football supporting lives.
It seems to me, then, that it almost doesn’t matter which team you support and which league they’re in. Each team has their own expectations which dictate the fan’s highs and lows with all teams experiencing over-performance and underperformance. This is obviously why Norwich fans are fairly content to be 15th but Chelsea fans are vastly unhappy at being 14th.
TLDR: Each team has its own expectations and supporters of all teams can enjoy football despite the league or position they might be in the football pyramid.
Tom, Port FC, Thailand’s missive on what football fans get from the sport hit quite close to home for me. It’s a question I’ve asked myself for a long time. And the answer is obvious. Like Tom I supported United throughout the Premier League era and was accused of being a glory hunter, a winner picker and a Johnny-come-lately. There may well have been something to that originally but then what can you expect of a 10 year old from a rugby playing family who is surrounded by United supporting classmates and Cantona- mania?
Over the years my knowledge and interest grew to dyed-in-the wool, honest to goodness support before, around the age of 30, I noticed that a) Sir Alex’ wasn’t investing in the team, b) there were no genuinely exciting players left in the squad and most of all c) it was getting pretty damn boring. This was followed by my own emigration to Oz and then Moyesball, which was superseded by Louis Van Ball. All of it turgid, uninspiring and deathly, deathly dull.
I can say now, with a wiser head, that what caught my imagination originally was the flair, the speed and the excitement of the game when Sir Alex’ team played attacking, sometimes breathtaking football. I don’t understand the “win at all costs” supporters. They don’t get three points when the team win. They don’t get a financial bonus when Utd are crowned champions. United don’t give you all a medal. In fact the lowly supporter gets sweet FA from their PL club except higher ticket prices and increasingly disinterested players. Rooney may clap at you after the game but does anyone really believe that’s anything more than PR? He certainly doesn’t seem to be screaming out that the fans are being short changed by the ticket prices and quality on display at the moment.
Unless your livelihood is professional sport then professional sport is basically an entertainment. It can be unpredictable, infuriating and dramatic but it is, at the end of the day, just an entertainment. I haven’t seen a United match since September. Every time I check the scores and see 0-0 at half time or full time I thank god I didn’t bother taking the time to watch it.
For Leicester and Arsenal supporters these are perhaps the most exciting of times. I wish them well. For United fans – well, what else is on?
Great email from Tom (Port FC Thailand) – the man got it spot on showing why supporting a team is about much much much more than winning.
I wrote in ages ago saying my united supporting mates couldn’t believe that if I had to ditch my beloved Villa for another topflight (yes, I know) team I’d choose someone like Spurs or Swansea for the fact that there’s always a chance they will beat anyone but always a chance they will lose to anyone. That’s what’d make match days exciting. For me it’s simple, being a football fan is all about supporting a team that excites you with their play but can frustrate and elate in equal measure. It makes Saturdays totally unpredictable and fun. It’s why I actually think it’ll be brilliant supporting the Villa in the Championship which is now our level.
Of course my United mates said they’d support Chelsea (pre this season)..says it all really
Stoke. Wednesday night. Raining. Etc.
Congratulations to L. Messi who is quite probably the best player in the world.
But John Nic’s article re Pep taking over at a rich and listing United rather than a rich but organized City got me thinking about these huge stars in the 1/2/3 club leagues of Spain, Germany and France.
How hard is it really to play for a team utterly studded with stars who, apart from 4 games a season, are against entire squads worth less than you?
Would Messi maintain his Spanish scoring rate in England? Or even Italy? Based on the chasm between his club achievements and his national ones, I’d say not. Neymar and Brazil? Not yet. Ronaldo and Portugal? Hah, not even close. Suarez and Uruguay? Err nope (apart from the biting which is remarkably competition agnostic).
For some it might be fun or exciting or interesting that Messi et al score regular hat tricks in 8-0 hammerings but it smacks of playing FIFA on beginning mode to me. It’s gets quite boring quite quickly.
I’d like to see these singing when they’re winning big fish small pond fair weather flat track bully footballers play in some physically harder, more competitively even leagues before blindly blathering best-ever platitudes in their direction.
Dr Oyvind, Earth.
Wayne Rooney: 55th best player in the world
the Ballon d’Or award is it a back slapping for your pal award or is it a serious voting system to award a player who has really played well, not just his best but performed above his station?
because I was gob smacked to see Wayne Rooney being voted in the top 55!
I know footballers are often playing for there respected teams so miss watching there peers live, but how many votes did wayne rooney receive to get a mention in the top 55?
if I was wayne I would be in hiding, as I would be mortified and extremely embarrassed to be on that list, after the poor display this season , and the 2 before that
but i’m guessing wayne thinks its on merit
andy mitch (explains how the torys got voted in )
Thiago Silva: Best central defender in the world
How the f**k is Thiago Silva in the team of the year? HOW???? I understand PSG won the league at a canter and Brazil got to the semis of the World Cup but how is he one of the two best centerbacks on the planet (read Europe) in the last one year?
Greg Tric, Nairobi.
A lucky escape for Spurs
If luck has anything to do with it Spurs must be favourites to win a trophy this season. The number of offside goals, the latest at Watford last week , the non penalty that kept them in the FA cup this weekend, the lack of significant injuries and conversely key players missing playing against them ,the latest example of many being Vardy again this weekend. However, the biggest stroke of luck was missing out on LVG when they were one of the favourites to land him before he joined Manu – how did they get away with that ?
Macca (Gooner going to place a tenner on Spurs to win something to stop the inevitable choke when they do) Herts
Are loans any good?
Interesting point in the FA Cup 16 conclusions by Klopp on youth players. I for one have never understood the loan system completely. Young prospects are sent to far away clubs with worse players and facilities and expected to become much better by the time the come back. Would it not make sense to keep them at a club i.e. Pool where you have first class training facilities and a great squad? I decided to look at my team Spurs and last year we had 17 players out on loan of what I could see from five minutes research. Of those 17 five are at the club currently or to the best of my knowledge, five were sold on or released, and six sent back out on loan, with one player disappearing without trace. It seems that loans did not help the majority of the players as they left the club again immediately afterwards. I believe Poch has done better than most managers at giving young talent a chance, but there are still nine players out on loan. However, most of our exciting first team/ fringe players have been in the same situation. Kane, Alli, Pritchard, Mason, Rose, Walker, Carroll and possibly others have all returned to the club to varying amounts of success. So what does the mailbox think of loans? Are youth teams a thing anymore?
Doctor What (Is this where I put brackets?)
The FA Cup. It’s magic, you know
There you go, that’s how the FA Cup works. As Jeremy Aves pointed out yesterday his Colchester team beats a team in the league above against the odds, leaving him rightly chuffed I would imagine. He then reads a mail on how someone feels the FA Cup is a silly little competition provoking him to write in with an excellent mail on how it can offer respite to what can be difficult league campaigns for teams in lower leagues, and how ‘it just depends what you want from football’.
The footballing Gods look favourably upon his wise words, and in approval dish his Colchester side a plum home tie against Spurs or Leicester. Those of us who still see the FA Cup as a beautiful old competition nod sagely at this humdinger, and hope it’s televised or he gets a draw and a lucrative replay. Maybe they’ll even scrape a win with a Ronnie Radford styled thunderb*stard to be shown in the opening credits for many years to come. They may bloody tonk whoever gets through, stranger things have happened. Until the game is played all you can do is imagine.
My home town side (Cambridge) drew 0-0 with United last season, as I’m sure you’re aware. Best 0-0 I’ve seen in ages, but then I’m biased. As a result of that and the replay they have new toilets, gold ones apparently. Find the FA Cup boring, as is your wont, but for those who can’t see the bigger picture in such stories, I feel a bit sorry for you.
Defending the FA Cup is difficult if the first defence falls on deaf ears. It’s the FA Cup. If so, the second defence will be less persuasive. It’s The FA Cup.
Chris ITFC, Liverpool
I only started following English football closely 10 years ago, so my knowledge of what the FA Cup used to be comes only through interviews and articles. And I get that it’s not what it was. But from this side of the water, it’s brilliant as it stands.
First of all, you get to see grounds you don’t usually see on TV, along with fanatical supporters (close up, too!), muddy pitches, and a general overall this-really-matters feeling. No matter who wins, it’s a crazy, joyful experience compared to the sanitized Premiership. And sometimes you get a cracker (see Doncaster-Stoke).
Then you get the will-they-won’t-they-take-it-seriously business from the top clubs, with all the second-guessing that implies. Best of all is when a Premier League team rest the first eleven, then somewhere around minute 50 realize they might actually lose, and frantically try to get back in the game (see Oxford-Swansea).
And even though the last thing Premier League teams want is a replay, it never seems to stop them from throwing everything at their opponents in search of an equalizer (see Tottenham-Leicester).
The later rounds have their own special atmosphere, too, whether heavyweights meet (last year’s Manchester United-Arsenal quarterfinal) or an unfancied side breaks out (last year’s Aston Villa-Liverpool semifinal). Check the fan sites and podcasts afterwards, and you can see there’s absolutely no doubt how much those games mean to the supporters.
Best of all, unlike the Premier League, it’s actually possible for true outsiders to threaten to win the competition, and even lift the trophy themselves. In the last eight years alone, Portsmouth and Wigan have won it, and Cardiff, Portsmouth, Stoke, Hull, and Aston Villa have all fallen at the last hurdle.
One thing I especially like, and for which we have no equivalent in USA sports, is the blind draw, every round. It allows for a very wide range of games and scenarios, and watching the balls come out is a real old-style pleasure.
As for replays, well, it’s more football. Enough said.
So the FA Cup is plenty wonderful, and although I’m sure it could be better, I’m more than happy to take what’s on offer. And here’s my favorite Cup stat for this year: Arsenal could become the first team to win three in a row in 130 years, and could do it starting three different keepers to boot!
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA
No it’s not
In response to Jeremy Aves, it’s lovely that he enjoys the FA Cup and perhaps, as he blandly puts, “lots and lots” of other people share his enthusiasm. But nowhere near as many as used to. Compare FA Cup match attendances nowadays to 20 years ago. They are down massively. Should that not worry the FA? It’s certainly less money for St George’s Park or the B Team league thingy or whatever daft, Dyke-initiated nonsense they’re working on this week . . . I also think Jeremy is slightly missing my point. I don’t want the FA Cup to go away. I want it to be rejuvenated. It’s the job of that FA to make that happen.