Fred: Man United’s ‘best’, or just another Djemba-Djemba?

Date published: Wednesday 28th November 2018 12:03

Rockin’ Robins
Mediawatch raised an eyebrow at Andy Dunn’s claim that Jose Mourinho ‘needed this Fellaini goal more than most in his long and decorated managerial career’. As Chief Sports Writer for the Daily Mirror, he really ought to be able to name about 100 more important goals scored under the Portuguese.

But that paled in comparison to Neil Ashton’s take for The Sun. As ever, this was the first game of football he has ever watched, and his reaction is accordingly extreme.

‘It could turn out to be the Mark Robins moment.’

Unless Jose Mourinho stays at Manchester United for the next 23 years and enjoys an unprecedented level of success and trophies, this will absolutely not ‘turn out to be the Mark Robins moment’. It is far more likely to turn out to be little more than what it was: a stoppage-time winner by Marouane Fellaini at home to Young Boys in a Champions League group game United didn’t actually need to win.

But no, Fellaini’s strike was ‘the type of goal that saves managers’ jobs’. This despite there being no claim before, during or after Tuesday’s game that a goalless draw would have seen Mourinho sacked.

Still, we should expect no better from someone who wrote back in August that Mourinho, ‘a shell of a man’, was ‘done as a manager’. Three months on, he’s the next Fergie.

Right in the feels
‘It could turn out to be the Mark Robins moment’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, November 27, after Manchester United beat Young Boys 1-0.

‘It felt like the Nou Camp in 1999 all over again’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, November 7, after Manchester United beat Juventus 2-1.

‘It feels like there is no way back from here’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun, August 22, after Manchester United lose 3-2 to Brighton.

It feels like a) we all need to calm down a bit, and b) Neil Ashton only has one way of starting an opinion piece.


One last thing…
Oh, while you’re here, Ashton also tells us:

  • Old Trafford is ‘poisoned, sick to the back teeth of these half-hearted displays’.
  • ‘There is a lack of the conviction, adventure and urgency we usually associate with this club.’
  • The players ‘just don’t want it enough’.
  • And ‘it was desperate out there’.

But yes, this really ‘could turn out to be the Mark Robins moment’.


Not on the same page
How good was Fred on Tuesday then?

‘The £52million buy from Shakhtar was United’s best in the first half, fizzing one early shot just over and curling another inches wide.

‘Covered a lot of ground, and was eventually replaced by Pogba after an hour, as Mourinho sought more invention to unpick the Swiss defence’ – Phil Thomas, The Sun.

‘It is probably a bit uncharitable to compare him with Eric Djemba-Djemba, the midfield misfit brought in from Nantes 15 years ago. Just yet, anyway.

‘Even so, those unflattering remarks will soon be heading this way.

‘You have to wonder whether Fred will ever be seen again after he was hauled off and replaced by Pogba’ – Neil Ashton, The Sun.

So he was either United’s best player in the first half, or the next Eric Djemba-Djemba? Glad we’ve cleared that up.

Also, Fred’s STAR MAN RATING was 7, with no United player given a higher mark. Not even Marouane Fellaini, whose 7.98 rating on is rounded down to a 7. Obviously.


Get with the programme
Neil Custis joined his Sun colleague at Old Trafford, and is rambling on about how the club’s programme talks ‘an awful lot more about the past than the present’.

‘It is all smiles, all drama, all joy – none of which you will find at Manchester United right now.’

Hold on, haven’t only Manchester City done better since he was appointed?


Agenda inequality
‘Manchester United greats are embarrassing themselves with Jose Mourinho agenda’ – Manchester Evening News‘ Samuel Luckhurst, November 28.

‘Pot calls kettle black’ –, November 28.


Literally not on the same page
‘Mourinho kicked wildly at a crate of drinks bottles…’ – Mike Keegan, Daily Mail, p.76.

‘Down on the touchline, he tentatively kicked one crate of drinks bottles’ – Chris Wheeler, Daily Mail, p.74.


No alarms and no surprises
Manchester City played on Tuesday, by the way. They drew 2-2 with Lyon, and Jeremy Cross gives us the lowdown for the Daily Mirror.

‘Guardiola produced no major surprises in his team selection, feeling no more than the need to tweak what was a well-oiled machine.’

At least one person saw Raheem Sterling in central midfield as an obvious call then.

Mind you, Cross also did the player ratings from France. And he gave Sterling – ‘unusual midfield role, looked lost from the start’ – the lowest mark of any player: 5. Lovely.


Wy, oh wy?
Charlie Wyett has done awfully well to get interviews with Filippo Inzaghi, Pierluigi Casiraghi, Francesco Baiano, Francesco Graziani and Antonio Di Natalie in a piece on Mauro Icardi for The Sun.

It is just a shame they decided to unnecessarily use a scantily clad picture of his wife – hardly discussed by Wyett – with a caption describing her as both a ‘dish’ and ‘Icardi’s girl’.

Mediawatch had to double-check, but it really is 2018.


Hughes line is it anyway?
‘Mark Hughes calls for VAR to be introduced after Southampton are denied goal in draw with Watford’ – MailOnline, November 11.

‘Mark Hughes annoyed by VAR after Southampton Carabao Cup exit’ – Sky Sports, November 28.

Mark Hughes, in pretty much every sense, just cannot win.


Recommended reading of the day
Sachin Nakrani on Sol Campbell.

Sam Borden on Chapecoense.


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