Could Man Utd slip into mid-table obscurity under Ole?

Date published: Monday 8th April 2019 8:35

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United

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Worried for United
As it’s getting closer to the end of the season and more and more rumours are coming out about the futures of players etc, As a United fan I can’t help but think the years of poor performance are slowly coming back to haunt the team. If you go through the rumours there are likely to be as many as six players sold from the current squad if you include players coming to the end of their contracts in the next year or two it looks even more bleak. I’ve compiled a brief list below looking at the current squad.

De Gea – contract running out next season, efforts to tie down to a new contract have came to nothing. Do you sell this summer if he doesn’t sign a new contract or possibly lose on a free a year later?

Bailly – if he’s not injured he’s generally a liability, rumours linking him with Real Madrid would be well to get rid and recoup as much money as possible.

Paul Pogba – Mino Riaola will be looking to move Pogba on sooner rather than later for his next payday, coupled with recent flirting with Real Madrid can’t see him being around much longer than another season or two max.

Sanchez – less said about this one the better, United apparently looking to sell for 50m if they could get rid of him for free it wouldn’t be a moment too soon.

Mata – rumoured to be leaving on a free for Barcelona. Never fully suited to United but would be a useful squad player if he remained.

Lukaku – agent has just recently been talking about the possibility of him moving in the non too distant future, if United fail to get Champions League this season or next wouldn’t be surprised to see him move on.

Herrera – plays for the shirt, should probably be captaining the team in my opinion and looks like he’s going to be leaving on a free to head to PSG further poor management from United if both him and Mata leave without recouping any money for either.

Valencia – leaving on a free at the end of the season, probably the right decision as his form has been on the wane.

All in all that leaves the possibility of eight first-team players (hypothetically – and possibly others I’ve forgotten) leaving United and they’re all first-team players. It’s a huge void to fill in the team as these players leave and you can have all the money in the world but if you’re not competing for trophies it’s going to become harder to attract star names.

I think if there is a failure to qualify for the Champions League which is entirely possible it represents a worrying future for United and with Ole as manager does he have the pulling power of say Guardiola, Klopp, Zidane etc?

Hopefully I’m proven wrong but I’ve a real worry my beloved team may soon slip into mid-table obscurity in the coming seasons.
Andrew (hoping I’ll eat my words in the next season or two)


Watford did not ‘prioritise’ FA Cup
Interesting article by Matt Stead about Watford getting to the final and also pushing to be the best of the rest but I have to take the last point to task:

‘But by refusing to prioritise, Watford have reimagined the boundaries faced by every average but brilliant side.’

Surely the way Watford approached the cup this year proved they were absolutely prioritising the PL in the early part of the cup run and reverted to focus on the FA Cup once they reached the quarter-finals and already had 43 points in the bag.

Taking changes from the last PL game to the FA Cup game – the early rounds looked like this:

3rd Round – 11 changes

4th Round – 11 changes

5th Round – 6 changes

It could be argued that they then shifted priority – helped by the fact that a trip to Man City the week before the quarters was a hiding to nothing. They made seven changes between the win at Leicester (which took them to 43pts) and the defeat at City – they promptly changed nine players for the QF off the back of two weeks’ rest.

So great squad rotation at this point to prioritise a game they could win over one they were always likely to lose – it is only this week that we see Watford’s 1st choice XI in both the PL and FA Cup – just 2 changes made after the Fulham win.

Watford’s success is to be lauded but let’s not pretend they have created a new formula for success here – they did exactly what every mid-table PL side does in the early rounds and changed the whole/majority of their side – if they had lost to either Woking, Newcastle or QPR there would have been a massive shrug of the shoulders from all concerned. The luck of the draw simply meant that their ‘reserves’ didn’t come up against a stronger team in the early rounds and had a fixture list that helped rotation at a key time.

Paul (Eintracht for the CL! – Auf geht’s Frankfurt), Germany


Come on Watford
The BBC really did make the wrong decision on which game to broadcast live this weekend. I sat through utter tedium yesterday on the TV, and I am listening to a thrilling game today on the radio. As soon as Jesus scored yesterday inside a few minutes, everyone knew the game was over. City would hog the ball, pass backwards, go to the full back, pass in field, pass to wing, go back inside, switch the play, then pass back again and recycle. Apart from the goal and Sterling’s late chance, I can’t remember them doing anything with the ball at all. How massively boring, but I suppose credit to Brighton for being organised. Didn’t Bayern supporters get fed up of a lack of excitement under Guardiola? Perhaps that’s why there were so many empty seats at Wembley on Saturday… Following Walker’s first-half incident which I felt was a red card, is the only way to de-rail City is to go what Mourinho did successfully when at Madrid when Barcelona were at their peak: to play a physical game and get stuck in?

I’d rather see teams be fearless of criticism of playing less than perfect football against them and to witness actual excitement rather than a procession of stale inevitabilities (despite Sterling and Walker who add flair and dynamism in amongst the general highly effective tedium). Unlucky Wolves – thanks for all the actual excitement and well done 5Live for their brilliant coverage as usual, but I know who I’ll be supporting in the final. C’mon Watford and save football for us.
Rich (when’s that FFP investigation against City happening?), Cambridge


Wembley has ruined the FA Cup semis
Matt Stead’s piece on Watford is awful. No insight, no back story about the Pozzo family. Just the usual statto type rubbish which internet football writers bombard the public with, which essentially means very little. Rafa would love these facts I guess. Do readers now go to the schoolyard or park or pub and discuss the fact that Watford are the first team to maybe finish in the top seven and reach a cup final outside the big four or big six or whatever?

The semi finals have been ruined by Wembley stadium. The Saturday game bored me to tears for the five minutes I tuned in. I was only dazzled by the advertising boards flickering on the sidelines. I don’t have BT Sport so watched the goals from Sundays game go in on twitter postings. The magic of the cup eh. I’m sure the beeb are delighted with their choice of match. Wasn’t it obvious which game would be more exciting?

Glad to get that off my chest, thanks!
Baz, Dublin


Why don’t the referees lay down the law?
I usually mail in later in the week because it’s better for my ego, being published on Monday…could it be?

But I was watching yesterday’s Everton – Arsenal game and the ref was harassed constantly. Then I watch the summary of Barca and Atleti and same here.. even after said ref gave Costa a red for doing EXACTLY THAT.

Anyway, I have a question.. I’ve played waterpolo for 15 years of my life, at some stage at a semi-pro level. Before the game, the referee comes to the dressing room to set his boundaries and check if your nails are short enough.

As he does that, most referees have a little talk with the squad.. something along the lines of;:

“Hey guys, happy to see you all here, lovely afternoon, let’s have a good clean game…
Remember, you only speak to me when I address you first, are the captain or coach..
Otherwise, I warn you once, then it’s an exclusion, don’t tell me I didn’t warn you…”

Generally, unless emotions run REALLY high nobody says a word to the refs. If and when you do, you get send to the sinbin and you are penalized for 20sec (generally the duration of one attacking play)

Now I have two questions.. first, does this not happen in football? Does the ref not come to dressing room? If so, why the hell not?

And two, would it help to do so?

Genuinely interested to hear your thoughts.
Stijn (Ajax on top again!!) Amsterdam


Dortmund really have cocked this up…
I follow the Bundesliga as closely as I follow the EPL, Dortmund being the team I support, with La Liga close third. Now, for some time I have known Dortmund have a shit keeper, and a shit defence. Roman Burki has got to be the worst stopper plying his trade at a top European side. How the hell can a supposed upgrade end up being worse than the individual they replace? He leaks more than Niagara falls, but the one vulnerability I knew deep down but hoped wouldn’t be exposed was…

Dortmund can’t defend for shit. I was hoping they would just keep the secret, secret enough to get past Bayern, but football has a way of exposing fakeness, and Bayern exposed Dortmund. It’s hard to explain how Dortmund aren’t winning this league, the football they played early season has gone down the drain. The 1-2 passes, quick, through the line passes, all gone. The inability to handle pressure has got to be the biggest weakness. This has got to be one of the most exciting seasons the league has had since Klopp led Dortmund. I was half hoping RB Leipzig would do a Man City and take over but they have fallen short.
Dave(I’ll watch the highlights of the other European games), Somewhere


Fanmail for the Tractor Boy
Re Tom the Tractor Boys’ mail. Firstly I don’t support Liverpool so by your rules I’m allowed to reply to your mail. But I think I managed to decipher the main thrust of it thru it’s inane ramblings: That Liverpool would be the most ‘hated’ Premier League champions in history. “Everyone” hates them according to you? Does this include their own fans I wonder? Honestly such a lazy narrative. You obviously hate them but haven’t given us a reason why? I look at the title race and I see one admittedly brilliant football team who swat aside all before them. A great manager, brilliant players etc. I enjoy watching City. They also play for a club who effectively also won the equivalent of the football lottery. A club funded by oil money. A club run by people with a history of human rights abuses. And a club currently being investigated for cheating by UEFA and The FA. Yet everyone “hates” the team/club they are competing against for the title? As I said I don’t support either City or Liverpool but I certainly don’t hate a club that is properly run and which isn’t financially doped especially when it’s up against a club that isn’t and is. I know for a fact not everyone hates Liverpool. In fact most of my friends would rather them win the title than City for the reasons stated above. Reasons which are logical and real ones for “hating” a football team.
Derek the Tractor Boy, Austria


…Tom, tractor boy in Switzerland, football existed pre 1992.

Kindest regards.
Adam, LFC, Belfast


…Tom Tractor Boy inadvertently raises an interesting point – that supporting a club is much more polarised than it used to be. None of the teams Tom mentioned raised the same ire that we’re told Liverpool’s title challenge this year had. The country is apparently up in arms in case you missed the memo.

And I say this year, because I don’t remember this level of anger the last time Liverpool were in contention. Same club, similar situation, but more (apparent) “hate”.

Why is this? Well, following on from Daniel Storey’s excellent article a few weeks (months?) back, Tom embodies a very modern football fan, if fan is the right word, for whom supporting a team requires them to “hate” other teams. This wasn’t the case as much before, so other teams weren’t the subject of all the brickbats Liverpool are getting.

And once the narrative takes hold – “yeah, everyone hates Liverpool now” – Tom and the like need to jump on board because supporting their own team isn’t enough.

It’s not Tom’s fault – he’s a product of an environment where there is no room for nuance, where every conversation online is win or lose situation. You can see the effects of this polarisation all around us – just look at the political narrative right now or the weird Twitter rivalries that have sprung up between Spurs and Liverpool fans. Can you imagine if Twitter had been around when Liverpool and Chelsea were playing each other over and over again?

I don’t really know what the solution is, but it’s troubling for football and society.
Will, LFC (whatever happened to The Delgados?)


…In response to Tom, Tractor Boy in Switzerland. Absolute nonsense. That’s looking back in retrospect at those teams. After time has passed and they’ve fallen off their perch. Or they where just good enough, long enough, to build at the very least a grudging respect.

Put yourself back to that time, when they were winning and remember the looks on other fans faces. Try to remember hearing what they were screaming, their repeated hand gestures and their faces, often bright red and distorted.

If you can remember, then you should also remember (It obviously depends on your age) just how much hated was actually out there. Cantonna channeled the spirit of Bruce Lee when he snapped under that hatred and abuse. You can’t tell me it was all about that one “fan”. For myself that was when the abuse a player gets just taking a corner really started to stand out.

By all means remember the good things of the past, but remember things as they where. If you dont you could end up being one of those people that constantly insists “things where much better in my day”. They just miss out on enjoying the good things happening around them while at the same time taking away any responsibility they have for the way things are.
Chris (Cardiff)


C***s Mailbox
Fat Man Scouse, there is a c**ts mailbox.

It’s called the comments.
TGWolf (won’t find me there) THFC

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