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Maguire will be Man Utd’s last summer arrival
A few thoughts from our final pre-season game and for the last few days of the transfer window.
While it’s been a pretty encouraging pre-season for Manchester United overall, there are still a number of real concerns present in the team – in terms of both personnel and style. Our first goal conceded against Milan was due to Matic dithering and losing posession just outside our box – this was something that happened a number of times last season (not him every time, Pogba, Fred and Pereira were also guilty) so it’s a concern that it’s still happening. Hopefully Harry Maguire‘s now-confirmed arrival will help to shore things up a touch – his ability to bring the ball out of defence should hopefully mean that Matic, Pogba & McTominay aren’t picking the ball up quite so deep any more, but that’s more of a wait-and-see than a guarantee.
Another problem is how much we seem to struggle against packed defences. While it’s great to have pacy attackers in Martial, Rashford, James & Lingard for counter-attacking football, they are pretty ineffective against teams that sit in deep. When Milan started to venture forward more there was space to run into and our best attacks came in those moments, culminating in both our goals and a few other chances too. However, when they sat back and packed the defence we were restricted to long shots or running down blind alleys. As things stand, we don’t have anyone other than Pogba who is capable of unlocking a defence, and it’s still not a given that he is staying.
This makes it all the more disappointing that the Dybala deal has gone south. I understand and agree with the reasons for pulling the plug but I really feel that he would have been a welcome asset who could have offered something different. He is undoubtedly talented and very capable of playing on the right of a three, so I was optimistic that he could have solved this problem to a degree. As things stand it sounds like we were right to bin it off; the reported demands of the player and his agent were ludicrous, but that’s what you get when you’re a less attractive proposition than the team he already plays for. At least it appears that Woodward has learned his lesson at long last, just a few years and deals too late.
It sounds like there might be some mileage in the Mandzukic rumours and I think he could be an asset who can offer something different (i.e. an actual target man for a change). The only problem here is the lack of enough creativity in the wide areas. On the left we have Can’t Cross (Martial) and Won’t Cross (Rashford) and on the right we have…nobody at all. Martial will regularly get himself into good attacking positions and either slow things down to a walk, allowing defenders to regroup, or make an ill-advised dart for the byline at which point he’ll just run the ball out. Rashford also gets himself into good attacking positions but too often tries to do it all himself and ends up being dispossessed, with a teammate usually waiting in a promising position. Dan James looks like a promising attacker but he’s not a right-winger at all (not his fault and it shouldn’t be any surprise if they’ve scouted him), while Wan-Bissaka can’t be expected to be bombing up and down the wing, being both an attacker and a fullback, for 38+ games.
So, in the absence of anyone who can actually find a target man with a cross, I fear that it’ll actually open us up to De Gea hoofing it long to the big man, effectively bypassing 90% of the team. Sure, there’s a time and a place, but it seems to go directly against the way we’ve been trying to play in pre-season. There was a story over the weekend about our apparent interest in David Neres from Ajax but, again, I’m not convinced that he’s the answer there, given that WhoScored have crossing down as one of his weaknesses; if you’re going to go for an Ajax player then it would make far more sense to look at Hakim Ziyech, in my opinion, but that’s probably fantasy football more than anything that might actually happen.
As things stand, I remain convinced that Maguire will be the last arrival this summer, with an outside chance of Mandzukic turning up (but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see that one turn out to be nothing too). I think our centre midfield is going to be (disastrously) overlooked, and I genuinely don’t think they even considered bringing in a right-winger. I hope I’m wrong on both counts, but we’ll know for sure in a few days.
Storey with the proverbial nail on head
No, I don’t mean that every single person is reading his article whilst cyberloafing (what? it’s my lunchtime). I of course mean United’s inertia being presented as action.
I think the last two mailboxes neatly sum up the current state of the United fanbase:
“Mandzukic is actually a smart signing”
“Dodging Dybala a shrewd move by canny Woodward and co”
Nothing encapsulates Mr D Storey’s point better than rampant United fans celebrating whatever happens, no matter how objectively bad it appears from the outside.
Daniel suggests that United are mastering the art of looking busy while loafing about, to some extent he is correct but you are missing the fact Ole seems to have got the board to his way of thinking, young hungry players who will play his brand of high pressing football. Wan Bissaka, Daniel James and Harry Maguire have been brought in and youngsters stepping up like Greenwood, Chong and Gomez really looking the part this United side is coming together quite nicely. We have been written off by all and sundry before a ball has been kicked but write us off at your peril, City & Liverpool may of looked the dogs last season but teams will get the measure of them and it will be a hell of a lot closer than some are suggesting. I think another astute signing in the centre of midfield will give us the balance we need to start forcing out the dead wood and to real crack on this season and give a good account of ourselves. I know pre-season isn’t a fantastic barometer but it’s all I have to go on at the moment so I’ll keep this bit brief, United are unbeaten all pre-season and in the shoot out with Milan the kids showed no nerves banging in their penalties Greenwood even using his weaker foot. So I guess my point is I think United will challenge this season and with a bit of luck might even have a title shot, lets face it under Fergie we were written off countless times.
Paul Murphy, Manchester (yes I do realise that was under Fergie the greatest club manager ever)
I think I disagreed with everything in that article except Dan storey’ name and the definition of cyber loafing .
1st of all we are associated and we bought with no apparent plan , We avoided getting sucked into the Bale/Neymar sagas and sorted out our defense
We are 40/1 and our fans are pessimistic. That just shows everyone is being reaalistic about a team that haven’t won a title in six years
We haven’t shifted the ” great unwanted ” who we don’t want of the 4 players you mention how many are going to play half the games now that Maguire , Wan Bissaka and James have joined ?
“Solskjaer shouldn’t be there despite putting his foot down and avoiding the sort of Debacles we used to get into with regularity like the Dybala signing . If this was last year He’d be signing for 400k a week .So much for a yes man.
We aren’t complete yet ,Need a younger Midfielder ,maybe now that we have bought the phone from Leicester (Maguire) ,We can go back later and get the charger (Ndidi) but these are sensible steps in the right direction give them the chance you would have given them if they were happening at any other club in the premiership.
Daniel Story does make an interesting point about United cyberloafing. But it does beg the question whether it is United itself cyberloafing or simply journalists making up rumors to fill up the pages in off season. This summer alone, United have been linked with 100 plus players. Surely, at least 90% of those rumors were fake. For reporters/journalists to make up those rumors and then accuse the club of not being successful in acquiring those players disingenuous to say the very least.
Paying Harrods prices
I’m sorry but I am going to disagree with Adeel regarding just about everything he said in his “money is no object” piece. He firstly puts Harry Maguire in the same bracket as VVD. Ludicrous. Stating if he plays as well as VVD it’s money well spent. That is a monumental IF. So what your saying is Harry Maguire is going to not get dribbled past in 65 games, score a few big goals, win the champions league and turn Utds defence into the best defence in the league? You’re playing it fast and loose with the VVD comparisons my friend.
Then Adeel goes on to say utd shop in Harrods and pay Harrods prices. What a crazy statement, considering the absolute shambles Utds transfer policy has been since Ferguson. Nearly a billion spent and arguably the furthest they’ve been away from 1st in about 30 years.
Adeel then talks of how Utd are lacking shiny players for their sponsors, except pogba and De Gea. With Utd losing out on sponsorship money to Real Madrid. This has been the fundamental problem at Utd for years and this Utd fan is fuelling it. Utd buying big name Commercially strong players is what has got Utd into trouble! No respect for the badge, big money mercenaries that care only about themselves. A shining example of this is Mane being pictured at a school in Africa that he paid for out of his own money to help youngsters get an education.
On the flip side you have Jlingz starting a clothing brand to promote and help nobody else but himself, forgetting clearly he’s already a multi millionaire. It’s this type of mentality, me me me that has Utd in this slump. He then continues the rubbish by saying Maguire is the biggest English player other than Harry Kane, which is just simply not true.
It is this arrogance and lack of realism that makes Utd fans the most hated club in all the land.
Before the annual official predictions by the F365 regulars, here are some things that are absolutely guaranteed to happen this season, but only if you promise not to take them too seriously:
*Football clubs will realise that if they want to attract new fans, they need to make more information about the ground available before you arrive, and put some signs up when you get there. So many seem to assume that you’ve been there before and know what you’re doing, or make asking where to go or find things quite awkward.
*Someone finally asks an interviewee to explain why they think “it’s so hard for English coaches to get jobs”.
*The phrase “Class of 92” will be used far more by the media than the phrase “Salford City”.
*Every division from the Championship to Step 3 will have a team either achieving back-to-back promotions or suffering consecutive relegations.
*Despite not playing as well as he did last season, Aaron Wan-Bissaka will be called up to the senior England squad. Crystal Palace fans forcibly sigh and promise not to get too angry.
*The Football League come to an arrangement that in the event of a club having to withdraw midway through the season, their place will be taken by a team comprising some of the 38 Nottingham Forest players assigned a first team shirt number this season.
*For one journalist, “I’ve not been offered a job I haven’t applied for” will become the new “I’ve not been nominated for a Sports Journalism Award I didn’t put myself forward for”.
*Discussing the latest difference between a decision taken by the Video Assistant Referee and how they wanted the law to be interpreted, one pundit suggests the problem is that the VAR “hasn’t watched the game at the highest level”.
*Following the recent managerial trend, Crystal Palace replace Roy Hodgson with Tony Popovic. Believing they’ve spotted the next managerial trend, Manchester City announce that the successor to Pep Guardiola will be Jamie Pollock.
*After Forest Green Rovers named their new bike stand after a Bristol City fan who complained there wasn’t one last season, the Arsenal explore plans to make a similar move, by dedicating something previously absent from the Emirates to an away fan: the atmosphere.
*In a radical attempt to curb certain fan behaviours, the Football League announce a new punishment: from 1 January 2020 anyone found to have used the phrase “football should be more like rugby union” in discussions about officiating, will be forced to watch rugby union.
What to expect from Chelsea predictions
Two word summary: Cautiously optimistic
Where they’ll finish: 4th. It will be a very tough season ahead, however our squad is quite strong even without Hazard, pre-season we have looked good apart from at set pieces where we have looked surprisingly confused and a little bit poor, but I cannot see anyone breaking into the top 6 and if we know the top 2 are locked in, then it will be a tight entertaining battle for the top 4.
Cup Run: FA Cup Semi Final, it is our competition after all.
Player of the Year: Ross Barkley. If he carries on that pre season form into the new season, stays fit etc I cannot see why he won’t be in with a shout.
Top Goalscorer: A Midfielder, well none of our strikers looked dead set on getting double figures, so I guess one of Pulisic, Barkley or Willian will likely be our top scorer.
Best New Signing (including players you think will sign): Pulisic, This was quite easy as we only have signed two players this summer Pulisic (clearly bought for the Summer due to his loan) and Kovacic, but since he was on loan last season he is hardly “New” to our squad, so Pulisic by default, but what a player he looks.
Breakout Season: Mason Mount, has been talked about for quite a while now and this season looks to be the one he finally shows his talent in the Premier League.
How Long the Manager will Last: All season, for once I feel Chelsea’s manager situation is set in stone for at least two seasons.
Best Goal: Marcos Alonso, love him or hate him, he is going to score a cracking free kick and we will all be amazed by it.
Question for the neutrals?
Last season MOST neutrals didn’t want Liverpool to win the league for various reasons.
A week later when City won the FA cup lots of people, presumably a few neutrals as well complained that football was becoming boring, that the premier league is starting to be like Serie A etc etc.
Will the Neutrals be supporting Liverpool this year if they are in the running?
Or do they want the the Premier League to be another Serie A?
You can ask the question another way, Have Liverpool fans been unbearable this summer?
Regards, Omar (Amazing that Peps antics on the sidelines are bearable to anyone, especially during a friendly)
Newport County documentary
Has anyone else seen the BBC documentary about the fall and rise of Newport County?
Great piece of television on how a community took charge of their local team and brought it back from the brink after it it was wound up some 30 years ago.
This documentary and the quite brilliant Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix really shines a light on the importance of football clubs to their communities and this applies from deprived areas of the country just as much as it does to the country’s biggest cities.
On Saturday week, I’ll make the walk up the Hornsey Road, passing the Eagle, the Tollington and into the Emirates for the first game of the season and as I get closer and closer to the stadium, excitement will start to build as I see the odd fan in red and white merge into a crowd and then thousands of my fellow gooners all cheering us on.
I’m not sure what my point is but I guess documentaries like the Beeb’s underlines the importance of supporting your local club because without the fans – football clubs die. I’m glad Newport is still with us.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London