Could Man Utd have been title challengers under Ole?

Date published: Monday 31st December 2018 9:30

Lovely Mailbox, this. Read it and then send your thoughts to theeditor@football365.com

 

Woulda shoulda coulda
Bl**dy Jose… it may only have been three games but I’m really thinking that had we had Ole (or any other attack minded manager) from the start of the season this United team would be up there pushing for the title.

Our squad is full of quality attacking players (although admittedly we’re still not the greatest at the back) and from what I’ve seen since he took over we should always have been more than capable of scoring three or four a game as is the United way. I know they just put five past Arsenal, but Liverpool did get lucky for the first goal (and the two soft penalties) and gave away the ball a heck of a lot – if only we had played them after Jose left, I genuinely reckon with our new found confidence we would have ended that unbeaten run!
Steve, MUFC (come on 4th place!)

 

Man United fans having fun again
OGS is only three games in. The teams he’s beaten are Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth. Two of those teams will probably be relegated and the other has lost nine from their last 11. The team haven’t managed to keep a clean sheet against any of them. Despite all those goals, United are still eight points from the Champions League places and have little to no chance of making up the ground. Still, this is all I want as a United fan.

For the past six years, bar the odd 3 or 4 week long flurry to open a couple of seasons, seeing more than a 1 beside United’s name on a scoreboard felt significant. The excitement that I used to feel as a fan was ebbed away by Moyes’ fear, LVG’s micro management and José’s bitterness. Following United became a mostly joyless experience, even when the team was successful. Watching United win the Europa League and get back into the Champions League should have filled me with optimism and hope for the next season. Instead, it felt like I was 12 in my mate’s house and his ma told us we were having burger and chips for dinner, only to whip out a sack of spuds and a bag of mince before handing my mate a chopping knife.

The post-Ferguson years have reaffirmed my belief that football is primarily about the entertainment business. Trophies are nice but they don’t matter very much when you literally do not enjoy watching your football team. Believing your team will score more than one bleedin’ goal in a game is more important than the FA Cup or marquee signings. Aiming for the big trophies can wait.

For now, I just want to feel excited about what United can do with a football again and OGS has restored that after three games. I even have United players in my fantasy team again! If the previous managers made success feel like homemade burger and chips to a 12 year old, OGS makes watching United like going to McDonalds instead. Pochettino can come next season and teach us how to make grown-up meals, but I’m more than happy to fill up on Big Macs for the rest of this season. Football is supposed to be fun.
Eamonn, Dublin

 

…After the Spurs defeat I wrote in saying the worst thing at the time was not having anything to look forward to from one game to the next. That has completely changed now.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t think sacking Jose would change much. Whether or not that proves to be the case in the long term remains to be seen but for now it’s clear the players needed him gone. There’s an argument that they deserve criticism for that but at the moment United fans probably won’t care.

The current situation reminds me of Saruman (Jose) taking control over King Theoden (the team), using his minion, Grima Wormtongue (Duncan Castles) to fuel his rhetoric and destroy the kingdom. Thankfully, Gandalf (Sir Alex) and the returning son (Ole) were on hand to rid us of the poison of Saruman and Wormtongue, thus rallying the people behind the King.

Tedious analogies aside, it’s just brilliant to be writing in here in good humour after a United game and I’m already buzzing for the Newsastle game. I think most United fans have no real expectation for the rest of the season and whilst that may be a sign for how low the bar has fallen, that’s fine for now once we’re all enjoying ourselves again.
Conor, formerly of Drogheda

 

…Jose Mourinho was the wrong man. I’ve always said this. But now we know it to be true.

As I type, I’m watching Utd play Bournemouth. We’re currently 1-0 up, but whatever happens in the next hour, I’m also watching Ole breathe life back into a team, stadium and a football club. After three games.

So what the f*** was happening for the last three years?

Under the poisonous one, we stood still. Then we regressed. We had a team of some great players, being played out of position, out of system, and very nearly our of a career.

Fergie was famous for making bad players look great, and everything we won was for the players. Jose made good players look awful, and he won some stuff, but those trophies were his. Just like the titles he kept referring to.

Ole is making this look easy. And it’s pretty easy to take a stab at why. From my sofa (and yes, I’m on the sofa) he seems to be letting this bunch of (actually quite good) players take risks, and make mistakes. And therefore learn, grow, and improve. Simply by letting them have fun – and reminding them who they play for – Ole is making the very same players look brilliant, making our stadium sound fun again, and making our club look like the one we love.

So long, Jose. Enjoy your next three year cycle, and hand back the keys to the trophy cabinet on your way out.
Alex
PS. Pogba just scored. I’m pressing send.

 

…* So that’s three victories in a row in the Premier League for the first time since (checks Wikipedia) April, but it was only Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth ….oh shush. Even if Jose had been in charge and won these games the manner of victory would have been different there would be no early goals, no runs from midfield, no intricate play in the buildup and in at least two of these games we would have had to lump the ball forward in the hope that Fellaini would beat his man.

* Instead I’ve watched three of our best performances in years where the attacking doesn’t start after the opposition has scored, or by some fluke. A welcome side effect is that teams seem to have lost before they’ve gotten on the field we haven’t had that fear factor since You Know Who was boss.

* Ole may in the end not win the Champions League a la Di Matteo,we may still finish sixth or worse his critics like Simon Jordan and David Preece may be proved right, that he isn’t a tactical genius or able to turn a bad run around/crack the whip (only time will tell) however if nothing else he has shown us what we don’t need someone who is overly negative.

* And yes I’m thinking of the last three managers. I wrote in a few times supporting Jose’s continued tenure but with hindsight I realise him leaving was the best for all parties. Here’s some context for Ole’s start – he has already got a third of the number of points Jose got this season and if we win Newcastle will already have half as many victories .

Even the eight wins included two that were snatched at the last minute. Most of the rest involved scoring most of the time against the run of play after being bombarded for the first 30 minutes after refusing to show up. Only the Fulham game was comfortable. Southampton sacked their coach because they were embarrassed to have drawn with us.

Another plus is the criticism we will receive henceforth will be more to do with our team under-performing rather than how people perceive our manager’s attitude. I for one am thankful to Jose for the Europa run if nothing else but inevitably he is out because he refused to adapt and his team kept dying on the field from being chicken sh*t.
Timi, MUFC

 

Liverpool can’t sell AND buy the league
Opposition supporters:

Jan 2018 after selling Coutinho for £140mio: “Coutinho is your best player and losing him will make your team worse no matter how much you get for him.”

Jan 2019 after using money to buy Allison and Van Dijk: “You bought the league.”

Pick a side ok?
David (still refusing to believe we may win it) Morris

 

Calm down, calm down…
I understand why everyone is getting a bit ahead of themselves about Liverpool’s title bid. But just for now, can fans (Liverpool or otherwise) and journalists pull back a little on the hyperbole.

Please remember, that a lot of the articles and comments written are relying on either Liverpool continuing their current form for the remainder of the season, or at the very least not messing up much more than their title rivals.

So either we remain close to perfect or everyone else needs to mess up. That is a ridiculously unfair standard to be expected to live up to.

We have not proved ourselves to be able to remain close to perfect for an entire season (yet).

City though, for example, have shown they can go close to perfect for an entire season as recently as last season.

So I don’t fall for the ‘it’s Liverpool’s to lose’ attitude. There is too far to go and too many variables.

It’s not too long since we needed 7 points from 3 games to win but only managed 4 points. If we can get to a similar position this year, then it will be ‘ours to lose’.

Until then let’s just call it an excellent campaign so far, with a great possibility for finally winning the league again.
Joe… it’s the hope that kills you

 

Where’s the bluster?
Is anyone else getting a bit bored with all this “Us? Champions? Oh heavens, no!” from the managers of the top four? I miss the days when the title challengers had bosses who kept their eyes on the prize and would kill their own grandmothers if they dared question their stomach for the fight. When was the last time a manager, asked if their side would go the distance, replied “too right we will! You got a problem with that, pal?”
Martin

 

A long one on entrenched opinions
I have long harboured the view that it must be hard to be a football journalist. There are just not enough hours in the world to be a specialist on every football player in the premiership, let alone the rest of the world. Not while sleeping and having a life anyway.

However football journalists seldom admit to not knowing everything about every football team and every player. Generally opinions are said in a black and white way when of course life and football is very grey. In this I have little sympathy for journalists.

People and football ‘fans’ of course do exactly the same but I begrudge this less as they are not paid and their opinions have less implications.

There are lots of examples of this. I have sent in emails regarding the unwarranted abuse of Jordan Henderson in the past. Let’s face it – If Liverpool do not win against Man City on Thursday the day after original people will write in blaming everything on him. If he isn’t in the team some will still try. His performance is irrelevant. However there are so many examples. The last thing I want to do is start another Henderson debate – his haters are far too passionate. Other examples are sometimes based on outdated info, cliches or sometimes views about the wider world including politics.

Lingard being young. Bailly being good. John Terry still being able to ‘do a job’. Foreign players diving more. Mourinho winning big games. Sterling not having an end product (I would say this is quite a recent development mind). Harry Redknapp also still being able to do a job. Wijnaldum being overlooked when all LFC fans do is talk about him. Hart being a great goalkeeper going through a bad patch. England and their players being not technically good enough. Bellerin being really good when he’s basically a better version of Moreno. Wilshere being good and just needing to stay fit (looking at you Football365 for that last one).

What got me thinking about this is Bailly getting sent off who has been awful for ages but Utd fans still talk about him as easily their best defender. Neville put him in the combined Man U-Liverpool team hilariously. Clearly Smalling has been their most consistent defender for a while but his reputation is permanently scarred by being rubbish for the majority of his career. Not that Smalling can’t be upgraded – he obviously can.

Alan Brazil (clearly the stupidest man in broadcasting) decried Zouma as useless the other day. Now I’m willing to bet he has not seen Zouma play much. Whenever I’ve seen him he’s been pretry good! He is just heavily biased towards British players and an idiot.

It also happens the other way where people automatically presume Brits/Irish are not going to be good enough or just not good enough despite the evidence. The predictably catastrophising reaction to the first Croatia England game being an example. It’s always difficult to prove however I remember feeling uncomfortable with Stead writing a piece on Declan Rice a while back implying he probably wasn’t going to be that good – without remembering that young players get better. This attitude is generally the default for some. Someone wrote Walker-Peters was not going to be good enough the other day in the mailbox. This was after the youngster played against Barcelona! Thank God there are brilliant managers like Pochettino who let youngsters get experience. Some fans would clearly never play any youngsters until all the current players die of old age.

Another thing is where views are clearly nicked from journalists having read something elsewhere. I have loads of times heard things from Jemaine Jenas and the like or read things on other football websites which I read on Football365 days before. So much so it can’t be a coincidence.

Sorry for the rant. I work in an environment where my conclusions and opinions have to be demonstrated and explained with evidence. Anything else is shoddy particularly when discussing real people and their livelihood. I generally think Football365 is pretty good on all this by the way. So well done you.

Good work over the Christmas period and have a lovely new year.
Howard

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