Want Mails on different subjects? So do we. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conflicting emotions on Jose’s press conference
Having experienced Jose’s first press conference, I was left with some conflicting emotions. On one hand, yeah, as a United fan, I was left feeling that that was what we wanted to hear and feel for the last three years, this is who we are, etc. I won’t regurgitate the United propaganda, it felt good, even right (arrogant or not, I don’t care), but we have a leader, finally, someone who looks forward as well as recognises the past, but will build their own team and in his own image, one built to win.
This makes me feel determined, not happy or relieved, but f**king glad because this is the attitude that is required to win at the hyper competitive level club football has gone to, and I’ve missed it as a United fan. I won’t apologise for that to other clubs, other club’s fans want to hate United. But, this is what any team needs to succeed, an identity supplied by the manager, not by history. You hope the two marry, but life doesn’t work that way, we’ve learned that the hard way, a necessary lesson, now it’s time to be cold calculating and ruthless. It’s time for United to evolve.
On the other hand, while Jose has changed, maybe even become considered, his energy levels have changed (from that first Chelsea press conference), I’ve no doubt he’s matured, in the short term at least and become better at working with those around him (players, coaches, not managers), and he recognises that United is a PR company too.
Jose knows he needs to find a team that wins, early and as soon as possible. So you pick a team to win, you pick a team that will beat the under cards, so you go with two forwards in some games, so he’s going to need cover for our forwards, because we will have three not four, Rooney will get games, but he won’t be a guaranteed starter. Martial will continue on the left wing, because he’s so effective there, and we have no one else to compete out there, he’s not fighting for a striking position. Rashford needs to be managed, so the situation looks ideal to me.
Mourinho can rotate, play one or the other, or play two, we have options, depending on the game. Rooney has always needed to be pushed to get his best. Mourinho knew what he was saying and it wasn’t about preparing Rooney to be sidelined, or for Utd fans, he still sees an important and difference making player and wants to motivate him. When was the last time that Rooney had the fear of God in him as a starter, rather than an agent, or weakened manager, and on 300,000 GBP wages, he’s going to know he doesn’t have that marketing position any longer, stay tuned, Rooney will be one of the stories to watch during the year.
Rashford will get his game time too, as will Fosu-Mensah, but first Utd, under Mourinho have to re-establish themselves. So do City, Chelsea and Liverpool, there is going to be a real battle royal for teams to establish dominance. The cure is perspective.
Mourinho’s a versatile manager, who picks teams, and players to win. But hey, maybe he will succumb to the board and Rooney’s wage demands, not Rashford’s potential or even Martial’s, because he’s not a clued in, observant manager, who makes his own decisions, based on systems or the opposition. In other words, trust him, he knows how to win. I think he’s earned that right, let’s see what he can do, now he has youth and money to spend, this era will define Mourinho, and Unitetd, the stakes have never been higher.
England: Stop searching for the Messiah
Reading some of the mails recently makes me think this is exactly why England will never win an international tournament in the near future.
The response to abject failure is the search of a messiah. If only England had a leader that every player would go through a brick wall for, if only a lionheart was at the center of it all, if only there was more heart and less hart…
How many teams this tournament has players that have run the full length of the field to dive into a tackle? As Alonso said, if you are making that tackle, you’ve already made a mistake. The English players and fans alike seem to relish in those mistakes.
The bigger teams have all showed a more measured approach. Wales reached the semis by being a team. Every player has a role, they don’t feel the need to roam from their positions for a big personal moment at the risk of losing the ball, especially in defence.
Terry was the quintessential English player, Rio barked orders, Gerrard was a Roy of the Rovers player, yet England won squat under them. Beckham was arguably a better, and more successful, captain than them. That too under Sven, hardly a touchline screamer.
England doesn’t need individuals, it has plenty, it needs a team. You play to a plan, even if you disagree with it. Louis Van Gaal struggled at Manchester United because Rooney never kept to his position. Once you vacate your position, you allow the opposition space and best players will punish you when they are given space and time on the ball.
Position is even more important in international football than possession. You can talk formations all you like but England never really had any shape in any match. Everybody ran for the ball or a tackle or a shot at the edge of the box, nobody was waiting for the moment. Everybody wanted to be a hero.
As boring as it is, a player like Carrick who keeps the ball and recycles possession can control the tempo of the match. You can see how valuable a player like that can be when an entire team is running all over the place like headless chickens.
So, Mark noble for England?
Shehzad Ghias, MUFC
Pitches ain’t sh*t
The main areas for me are really simple – technique and coaching.
Still in this country, when age groups hit 11 the players are instantly placed on full size pitch. The reason this is madness is an 11 year old is unlikely to be physically developed enough to handle a 90 minute match on a full size pitch, plus it promotes poor footballing ability by widening/lengthening the area of play and the distance between teammates.
This stunts the development of close control which is only really redeveloped at a later age, by then it’s too late to have any real impact. Also, the playing positions of players is heavily dictated by their physical attributes and not their footballing ability. My brother started his footballing “career” as a centre back because he “could kick the ball the furthest” and myself as a goalkeeper because “I was the tallest”.
This leads me onto the next point, coaching. The numbers are pretty damning when you compare amount of coaches in this country versus Germany/Spain/France/Holland and ludicrous when you compare how much it costs to get a license. I was lucky that I worked for a company that sponsored me to achieve this.
This leads to a lack of qualified individuals leading teams and when a volunteer is faced with the prospect of managing a group of young people, the primary objective is usually to have fun and the easiest/quickest way to achieve this is to win.
This leads to scenarios where a player is placed at centre back because they can kick the ball far away and the tallest player being selected in goal – its a quick fix to try and guarantee success ASAP.
However, none of players are learning anything. Kick it long, route one football which very rarely reaps rewards against better opposition. People pointed at Leicester playing route one but it was a swift counter attacking game built on a well drilled and disciplined defence. In rival countries, players do not play/train on full size pitches until they’re 14, sometimes 16. And we wonder why they have better, more skilful players who are equally adept attacking as well as defending.
The ideal scenario would be to emulate Germany – when they were knocked out of the group stages of Euro 2000, all the clubs were brought together to ensure that the national team never suffered this fate again. Quota’s were put in place for academy and German players in first team squads (and no cheating the system with “homegrown” players like Fabregas is in this country) and increase dramatically the amount and skill of their coaches.
And what has happened since that is a sustained, improved level of performance. After the anomaly of being runners up 2 years later in Japan/South Korea they crashed out again in 2004 at the group stage, recent major tournament achievements reads as such;
2006 – 3rd
2008 – Runners up
2010 – 3rd
2012 – Semi finalists
2014 – Winners
2016 – Semi finalists, potentially favourites to win
Its a really simple fix the size of pitches, make it easier and more accessible to become a coach in this country – the league quota scenario will be insurmountable i feel due to the fact the Premier League has no need or desire for the England team to do well as they are a separate entity.
This is why we will never be better than a mid range team.
It’s okay to be fickle about a manager
Aravind alluded to a Man United supporter from his country being a hypocrite because he was against Jose before and now appreciates Jose.
Let me clarify. Aravind, it’s called accepting some one to be part of your club and supporting them to be successful. I can imagine that some Chelsea fans or you probably held A4 sheets since you believed “you and your half assed” opinions were more important than Chelsea football club and their success.
You are not more important than the club. I didn’t like Jose one bit before. My club has chosen him to be the manager. I will be objective in my assessment and if he does good then I will appreciate him. If I don’t agree with him, I will still support him because undermining him does not help. The club is more important than me.
I could call your attempt to share hints as an approach clearing lacking balls but that could be my half assed opinion too.
Oh, so fractions are fine now?
Just checking in, but it’s interesting to note that after years of making fun of Middle Manager Rodgers’ Nine and Half position, we appear giving Mourinho a pass on the same description.
It seems to show – and this shouldn’t surprise anyone – that being cool is important. Mourinho is cool, or at least he thinks he is and expects everyone else to follow on. Rodgers always exuded the desperate aura of someone who wanted to cool. Nothing is less cool than the wannabe.
Either way, now the in-crowd have taken up non-integer football positions, I can’t wait for Football Manager 2018, where you can adjust you striker’s positioning between 9 and 10 down to three decimal places.
Andrew M, Joburg
Don’t blame the Premier League
We were sh*t anyway.
I was interested by David O’s assessment of the current England malaise until I realised it was more revisionist moo poo about the Premier League and the accompanying influx of foreign players. Excellent performances for England in 86, 90 and 96 it’s true, but if you’re going to include those then you have to include 88 & 92 (bottom of the group stage) and 94 (DNQ). Hell why not go back further into the glory days and look at our record in the Euros and World Cup from 84 back to 68:
1984 – DNQ
1982 – Second Group Stage
1980 – Group Stage
1978 – DNQ
1976 – DNQ
1974 – DNQ
1972 – DNQ
1970 – QF
1968 – SF (3rd)
In 68 we only played one actual knockout game which we lost. We only managed to play at one tournament in the seventies as Moore, Charlton and co. defended their title at the 1970
World Cup. And though the 80s was generally better, despite being unlucky to lose to Germany on penalties in 90 and losing to the “Hand of God” in 86 I doubt we were ever instilling fear into the International players of the day. It’s all very well saying we lost to the winners but at least 3 teams at every tournament can say that these days (possibly even Iceland at this stage). It doesn’t mean anything.
Whilst I agree that the FA needs reform and its relationship with the Premier League is not improving English football in general, our history proves that being not very good in tournaments is the norm for England. We are a country that has managed a solitary trophy- won at home (still better than most) – and just two semi finals on foreign soil (one which we qualified for before the tournament in a home/away playoff). Until we stop blaming an event that happened in 1992 for a pattern that has lasted since the first World Cup in 1930 we will never begin to be able to analyse why we can’t perform at these tournaments.
On a note about foreign players, 9/20 of United’s first team squad in 65/66 were English. While this is higher than the average of the Premier League now (about 1/3) it shows that you don’t need to have English players in the Premier League for England to be great – at the end of that season England won the World Cup and two years later United became the first team to lift the European Cup, complete with Northern Irish George Best. Furthermore, when the Premier League started 69% of players were English. The season after we conceded the fastest goal ever against San Marino and failed to qualify for the World Cup. Pesky Premier League.
Mirroring the current political climate, footballing foreigners are being blamed for problems that have been evident for decades. It’s crazy because, although this may not be a popular opinion I can see bright things for this group of players coming through and there are loads behind them (could do with a decent centre back). The least we can do is to stop expecting them to win every tournament and afford them some patience. And maybe a decent manager. And stop moaning about f*cking headrests.
Oh for fuc…
Key football event this week, oh yes the Euro Semi finals. But wait that cannot be important because you have 6 articles related to Manchester United.
WTF, get your head out of your “Premier League” ass and look around you.
John (there are more important things in football than Man U and the Premier League)
(MC – *Takes deeps breath*
1. The semi-finals are Wednesday and Thursday. We will be covering, and writing pieces on, both.
2. Like it or not, Jose Mourinho’s press conference was the biggest interest event in football yesterday. If you weren’t arsed, don’t read the stuff and certainly don’t bother getting p*ssy about it.
3. Matthew Stead wrote a brilliant 1,400 word feature piece on Chris Coleman yesterday. It got fewer hits than anything on Mourinho. That makes us as sad as you, but that’s also the reality. Go read about Francesco Totti today and prove us wrong.)