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Jose and Manchester United: Drawing to a close
There comes a time in any relationship, after the fighting and tears, where you come to the realisation that it is over. Other than a few diehard fanatics (and Gary Neville), I think we can all see that the grand Jose experiment is drawing to a close.
But before we contemplate who next and when, it is my sincere hope that the United board bring in a team of consultants to do a complete analysis of the strategic plan of the club because they are fast becoming like IBM or DEC during the rise of personal computers. Consider these aspects of the club:
Coaching – The last three managers have been woefully inadequate for the job. They were either unable to stamp their authority on the club or their “way” was against everything the club stands for (and we thought LVG was turgid!). Yes, the “brand” was built on success, but more importantly on ENTERTAINMENT. That global awareness and support, and subsequently sponsorship, will decline as that model erodes.
Transfers – Since buying Fellaini for MORE when we could have gotten him for LESS, recruitment has been a shambles. Every transfer window, the CEO seems intent on a “Galactico” strategy which never happens, whilst quality players are ignored or slip through the net. Woodward is simply out of his depth. You need to fall on your own sword as well.
Academy – Since Fergie’s retirement, our academy production line has yielded just three players, none of whom could probably get into any of the top four sides. Even former United players are sending their kids to the City academy. Even if someone makes it to the first team, look at how Mourinho nurtures and treats them. Would any talented youngster even remotely consider United these days?
Owners – Given the future competitive landscape, perhaps United have “peaked” financially and its time to sell at the market top. They simply cannot (or will not) spend money on players like City, Real Madrid, Barcelona or PSG so the long term direction of the stock price is only going one way.
There is no food on the table and the cupboard is bare. That is not just Mourinho’s fault.
Running out of things to look forward to
That was awful. The worst part was that similar to the first 15-20 minutes against Brighton, United were pretty good. Is there a trend developing that they concede a second so quickly after the first? Today, they actually created a few chances in the first half and everything, but simply weren’t clinical enough. Lukaku is the biggest culprit here. Three chances, one an empty net, all missed. Kane, one chance, goal. Oh and don’t forget Lukaku’s very scorable missed chance at Brighton at 0-0.
Incredibly, it’s still August, and I’m now just looking forward to the Champions League draw and hoping for a good run in the domestic cups. I’m fully aware that this is an elitist mindset, but that’s just not good enough for a Manchester United fan. Six points off the pace in August is just alarming.
It’s frightening that I have no idea how this can be amended in any way in the short term. I’m no Mourinho apostle but I don’t think this is as simple as sacking the manager. There are systemic problems at the club that go much deeper than that. Woodward is great at the commercial aspect of things but from a football administration perspective the club has been rudderless. They need an experienced centre half and the squad has no competent right side when defending or going forward.
The major difference to city, Spurs and Liverpool is that everyone at those clubs seem to be working as a collective, where the manager is backed and the players all seem to be on the same page. Everyone at United; owners, board, manager and players just seem to be immersed in their own agendas and totally distracted from their main objective which should be winning football matches.
So for now, we’ve no choice but to ride it out. Because of their European ties, there’s probably not many better games than Burnley next week. But although being a fan isn’t all about winning, having a sense of hope towards something shouldn’t be too big an ask from this club. Right now, that doesn’t exist with United, and as I said, I can’t see any simple solution in how that might change.
Why you can’t just blame the players
A few years ago I began an Msc at my alma mater and a wise old Prof told me that out of the many requirements for academic success, there was one which was not in any prospectus but most important. He said that your supervisors should have goodwill towards you, if they do they will be gentle with you when you make errors and encourage when you make progress.
This is exactly what I feel is missing at United, Mourinho has not displayed or exercised this goodwill towards his players. He has wielded the heavy stick much to often with very little carrots to offer, hence there is a palpable tension in the team leading to errors.
The buck stops with him for the following reasons
1. His players show a distinct lack of coaching that’s why there seems to be no synergy, they generally have to look up to see to pass in this days of the press unless the player is exceptional that is asking for trouble.
2. I don’t believe his excuse that a Harry Maguire or Alderwereld would have stopped all this, if all your defenders at are making the same mistake, there is a deeper underlying problem.
3. His signings are not more miss than hit. And he keeps changing tactics and players that it disrupts the team.
4. There is growing attacking football revolution with emphasis on attack being the basis of a good defence and he is beginning to look and sound like a coaching dinosaur.
5. Lastly I can’t see what he is building, the attack look painfully bereft of guile, midfield is not creating enough or shielding enough and the defence looks startled without coordination. All this into his third year as coach with millions spent, am sure he can hear the bell tolling.
Dare Omoniwa, Ibadan, Nigeria
…I’m sure you’ll get lots of mails from United fans sucked in by the Mourinho act at the end of the game, shifting all blame from Mourinho for that one. Somehow, these fans have fully bought into his cult and will believe his propaganda over their own eyes. While all parties at United deserve a share of the blame (including the board and the players), absolving Mourinho of most of it is ridiculous.
So can you please put this mail next to any that absolves Mourinho of any blame. Because it was Mourinho who:
– Went with the 3 at the back, despite not having enough CBs available that he could trust. Why use a system you don’t have the players for.
– Went with Herrera as a CB, after dropping one £30M CB from the squad entirely and leaving another £30M CB on the bench.
– In fact, after building up Bailly so much in preseason, dropped him entirely from the squad (he did not even travel with the team) as a show of confidence, just to make a petty point to the board. And he then expects undying loyalty from the same players.
– Brought on Fellaini instead of Rashford when chasing the game.
– Dropped Martial from the squad entirely, not even leaving him as an option, further alienating him from the team.
– Set up the team such that despite having attackers and a midfield worth £260+ million on the field, their best chance was created off a Tottenham mistake.
– Had no wide options on the team (Pereira dropped, Lingard pushed central) to take advantage of Spurs fullbacks pushing on. This is made worse by the fact that he made Alexis Sanchez the highest paid player in the league while completely ignoring gaping width issues the team has had for years.
– Shows little ability in coaching the expensive players he has bought, has alienated half the squad he is bound to for the season and has shown no signs of letting the ghosts of the transfer window rest, despite it being over 3 weeks into the season now.
The fact that this has turned into a very public Mourinho v/s Woodward debate is very telling, when this really should have been settled behind closed doors. It very much feels like Mourinho is getting his excuses in early and is taking the fans for a ride by turning this into a manager vs club battle.
All that being said, I do have to thank Mourinho for picking Herrera at CB. Watching him pull out of a challenge in such a cowardly manner for the second goal gave me more joy than I’d like to admit. Enjoy “he’s a b*stard but he’s our b*stard”, United fans.
Falooda in NY (At least Mourinho didn’t remind United fans how he constantly used to beat them in his post match conference this time)
Would you join Manchester United now?
The post mortem of that defeat was conducted in 16 conclusions. And yet I’m still hearing arguments about how despite the current situation, United can still attract the very best of talent. And I cannot understand for the life of me – why would any young talent join United in this current situation!?
If I was a young football player who was talented enough to be noticed by big EPL clubs and astronomical sums of money are being associated with my name – would I be interested in chasing the big money and move to a club where I could earn $300000 a week at the possible risk of not enhancing my skills or reputation? The risk of not knowing whether the current manager of the year will use me or care about my growth and how I can contribute? Or would I be interested in joining a club for lesser money but knowing that the ecosystem around me will force me to become a better player and perhaps even the best regardless of my paycheck? Or if possible – could I earn that much AND still become a world beater?
If you answered 3, City are probably the team for you (Messrs Walker and Sterling to testify). If you answered 2, probably Atletico or Dortmund is for you – this isn’t a crack at their wage bill but rather their youth development and respective managers. And if you picked 1 – Jose wants a word with you.
Look on the bright side
On the positive side, Luke Shaw was good.
On the other hand, …oh bollocks
Steve, (ex-Timperley Red), Guelph, ON
Calling for an all-British team to be formed
I was just reading winners and losers, and you rightly pointed out the lack of playing time for Chelsea’s England lads, and also the seeming lack of quality of the English players who do actually get playing time in the PL. But what is the solution?
Call me a dreamer (or insane if you wish), but could we not get an all English, or even an all British side, put together by the FA or some kind of Abramovich-like mogul?
In the FA’s case, perhaps this could be done by adding a 21st team into the league? Or, and this wouldn’t be fair or popular, by only allowing 2 clubs to get promoted from the Championship during one season, and team England/GB being granted a spot.
In this case, Team England/GB would become a defacto premier league side (not being able to be relegated), that can be used by the rest of the countries teams as a place to send players who aren’t currently getting first team action. The team itself could even be managed by various bosses too, so the players get exposure to different tactics etc.
The alternative, which probably makes more sense, is can we not get one of the current PL clubs bought out by someone who wants to the England team win a world cup? Or by someone who simply wants to see English players getting playing time?
I’m not sure which mogul, or which team would be a prime candidate (Southampton perhaps?) but the problem with this scenario is that any team owner will probably want to keep the PL status more than taking a huge risk in putting together an English/British team.
Probably a diabolical idea all in all, but I’m at a loss for what else can be done to get these players the time on the pitch they need, and also probably crave.
Didn’t Leicester succeed without the ball?
In the rush to give out about Rafa’s tactics on Sunday, I think the media and some mailboxers are forgetting how much praise Leicester got for the exact same tactic just 3 years ago.
Newcastle had as many shots on target as Chelsea first half and held their own for a large chunk of the second half. Their plan was undone by a contentious penalty.
Leicester won the league averaging 33% possession. Granted Newcastle had less (I think), but Chelsea spent a large part of the game rolling around which bulks up their possession.
In short, it’s easy to kick Newcastle while they’re down, but don’t forget how ‘great the tactic was 3 years ago.
Anthony “defending Rafa, I feel dirty, Dublin
Blaming footballers for how much they are paid is silly
“in Scotland you don’t look at a player and feel morally disgusted by the money he is being paid.”
Has Johnny Nicholson ever played football at a professional level? Does Johnny Nicholson know how hard it is to be a professional footballer? The world has approximately 7.6 billion people. The premier league with around 500 players in the squads has approximately the top 0.000000065% of football players in the world. In any profession the employees who do better work will get paid more.
I can’t believe he is so condescending. These are people who put their bodies on the line, play to provide happiness and entertainment for others. Put up with sh*t from people they don’t know. Do you have any idea how much they have sacrificed to achieve their dreams?
These guys were probably out practicing and working hard training 5-6 hours a day, spending extra hours in the gym, in their childhood while you were drinking beers and wasting your time. They can’t eat pizza on a regular basis. Why are they not allowed to reap the benefits of their hard work and maximize their earnings from what is an extremely short career? How do you know that they are not contributing positively to society? You hear stories everyday about footballers donating to their villages, building schools and hospitals. Actually helping those in need, while you act as a moral guardian dictating what is acceptable for them to earn.
Even if they don’t, it’s not for you to judge. They have earned it. No one goes around telling you how to spend your money. How would you like it if I told your employer to stop paying you?
You get what you deserve and footballers get what they deserve for their hard work, for being the absolute best at what they do and it’s about time we respect that. I know Johnny is a decent, good person who often brings out a lot of important issues.
However, criticizing good, honest professionals for earning what they do from their own hard work is bang out of order.
Sid, 18, LFC, (Brighton are amazing. I hope they do well this season), Mumbai
Liverpool are hardly 1-0 regulars
There’s been a lot of noise over the last few days along the lines of Mihir’s e-mail, “Relishing the one-goal wins” and a similar reference in Thomas’s.
As a lifelong pedant I feel compelled to point out that Liverpool have won only one game one-nil this year.
No need to thank me.