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The Ole Out Brigade
I stupidly dipped my toe into Twitter after the United v PSG last night. I left Twitter a couple of years ago because I found the discourse ugly as people tap away their fury’s shrouded by anonymity but last night I couldn’t help but take a dip in the shark infested waters. I wanted to see what was being said. I really wish I hadn’t.
#OleOut. As I scrolled through the inflammatory comments I was struck by how short people’s memories are, driven by immediate success. I found myself wondering whether these United fans remember how abject we were when we last faced PSG in the Champions League less than two years ago? A team consisting of average players who couldn’t dream of getting anywhere near this current starting eleven. I imagined that these same fans who are now calling for Ole’s head were also lamenting the average nature of our squad two years ago.
I thought United were really quite good against PSG last night. They controlled large parts of the game, they created numerous chances and the game should have been put to bed early in the second half, but that’s football. The stark contrast to the home game two years ago at Old Trafford where PSG bullied and battered us at a trot. The smash and grab in Paris was wonderful but lucky. This season we deserved our win in Paris and, although PSG deserved their win last night, United played far, far better football than we did two years ago.
United have seen a slew of managers come and go since Fergie’s retirement, failing under the intense scrutiny in Salford. The shortsightedness of immediate success needs to stop. Ole has overhauled our average squad with quality in increasing depth. The consistency still isn’t there but the team is beginning to find rhythm on a more consistent basis. The fight and hunger from the team displayed last night was something that has been devoid in the soul of the club since Fergie left. And the football under Ole at times is actually really bloody good. It’s a young, exciting team with the ceiling not even in touching distance. Ole deserves credit for his incredible work; rebuilding this squad with minimum fuss, restoring an identity and instilling a hunger and fight in the team.
Klopp’s and Guardiola’s marauding teams set an abnormal precedence the last few years and its easy to romanticise United under Ferguson but United fans aught to remember how Fergie’s team were often built on a combination of grit and beauty. Ferguson’s United would often find themselves grinding out ugly wins at Ewood Park before blowing away Newcastle at Old Trafford.
Since the last January transfer window (only Ole’s second proper window to overhaul the squad) the results have gone like this:
Those are very good numbers. This season, United had two weeks off and one week preseason. They played one friendly before our opening day defeat to Palace, who had played three games already, and United were still clumsy and tired come the mauling from Spurs. Since then we’ve beaten some very good teams, ground out some wins and lost by fine margins.
Ole is doing a terrific job. There is still a long way to go of course; in my opinion the squad still needs a right winger, a long term clinical striker and a centre back. Solskjaer had said it’ll be a bumpy few years with ups and downs and that is exactly what we’re experiencing. It isn’t too dissimilar to Klopp’s first two years at Liverpool, it took them a while for everything to click into place but when it did, it was sickeningly awesome.
I believe the potential of this young squad is enormously thrilling. I enjoy watching them. They’re like a gangly foal at times but you know that they have ability to become a champion race horse. The future is bright, it’ll just require some patience and belief. I wish those inflammatory United fans on Twitter would enjoy the journey and stop demanding the destination. The team needs our support not lamentations.
Hold onto your horses
I have written before claiming that there are many reasons why Ole needs to go. But he’s also done just enough (if only by a whisker) to be given more time. It’s a tough call and there’s merit to both sides of the argument. A club like Chelsea or City would probably have sacked him by now specially with Pochettino available in the market. But United have also tried a bunch of supposedly world class managers so I can understand the cautious approach to making a decision on managerial change.
That being said, I think F365 has become too reactionary when it comes to Manchester United. Something F365 regularly accuses other sites of. But hey, I get it, F365 gotta make money too so a little clickbait is necessary but please get off your high horse.
The match against PSG was nowhere near a disaster and United have suffered many a humbling even under Ferguson. The truth is that they played well for large portions of the game and with a little more clinical finishing, the result might have been totally different and that alone shows that Ole did not get the tactics wrong for the game. Sure, United fared much better with a back 3 against PSG but they also got embarrassed in the league with a back 3 in multiple matches. Who’s to say the result would not have been worse had United played a back 3?
The other key contention point seems to be not taking off Fred earlier. I agree with that view but the only replacements that Ole had were Pogba and Donny, each of whom would have made the defense more vulnerable. At 1-1 and against a team with a wealth of attacking talent, keeping on Fred was a calculated risk but as with all risks, they sometimes backfire.
Which brings me to the far more pressing issue that United needs to address. They still need a striker; Martial is not always the most clinical finisher and none of the United forwards are savvy at heading the ball from a cross. Cavani works as a stop gap solution but they need a long term replacement soon. The centre midfield department is the biggest weakness that has still not been addressed. Fred and McTominay are nowhere good enough as first choice. And let’s not talk about the issues in other positions most notably center back and right wing.
Results under Ole have been good but not great. The recruitment could have been better but that is not all Ole and in fact, it is far better than under previous managers. Under Ole, United has taken small steps forward. Yes, that is not good enough but until United can sort out its recruitment, I’m not sure that changing the manager would improve results by much.
Leave Ole alone. He’s brilliant.
Looking at it from the outside – good team wins a few games, sometimes loses a game against a good team, sometimes loses a game against a team worse than them. Sometimes the manager gets things right, sometimes he gets it wrong. Ratio of good to bad ends up pretty high up the table (Man Utd look ok in the table to me).
A controversial view, but maybe OGS isn’t a tactical genius every time they win; and isn’t completely clueless every time they lose? But is instead, you know, a normal manager? Not in the top rank, maybe – there’s a strong argument the team should be better given the time and money he’s had, and maybe the good:bad ratio should be higher – but not a complete disaster either. The knee jerking after every game is getting a bit ridiculous.
Tim Colyer, Chelsea fan, Singapore
As a fan of the other mob in red, I stifle a grin whenever mailboxers or my United mates defend Ole. I truly believe you would need to venture half way down the Championship to find a set of fans who’d be happy to swap for him. Maybe.
The scary thing is, I really also believe that it wouldn’t cost any more to run United well, and have them competitive at a level that matches their commercial size. I’ve thought that for a while…so why don’t they just do it?
In response to Morgan and Russell, they are already trialling AI technology that doesn’t require chips to be inserted in parts of peoples bodies or anything like that. It uses markers that feed back into a program that determines the exact point of contact the player makes with the ball and then uses 11 markers on the players bodies to determine who is closest to the goal. It won’t be absolutely perfect but it will be completely consistent and almost instantaneous and could be sent to the refs watch.
This was trialed at the Club World Championship last year and was declared a success, apparently it takes about 2 years to develop and other companies are working on similar software. I suspect, like goal line technology they will be asked to go through a bidding process and demo it in the next year or so. I genuinely think this will solve the offside issue.
Everyone is bored of hearing solutions to the other problems afflicting VAR so I will just say:
– Go back to a high bar for VAR overturning decisions
– Change the handball rule back to whatever it was previously (technically not a VAR problem)
Graham Kirk, Sunny Tier 3 Manchester
Grealish & diving
Having read your Grealish Diving article, I wanted to add a few more thoughts to it.
I can sort of buy the argument that players need to go down for the ref to spot the foul; Ollie Watkins probably would have got one at the end there if he’d have gone over when Ogbonna touched his shoulders (which he probably would have ballooned over, judging on his night up to that point). But that argument can only really apply when there’s real tangible contact on the player and, of course, if the ‘offense’ is commited in a dangerous position.
Grealish’s dive was about 35 yards out near the touch line. And of course there was no tangible contact either. There’s one thing being ‘clever’, but that incedent was just outright, cynical cheating for the sake of cheating and it is really quite pitiful. Fornals got a booking for it. All for no net gain for Villa. Complain about VAR decisions all you like but your team were conning the referee all game. You even got the world’s softest penalty from another piece of exaggeration.
Grealish’s goal on Monday did prove that he is a fantastic player. Seriously brilliant. So let’s take that as read. With that in mind, can any Villa fans really justify his cheating? Keen to hear your arguments.
Just a mail to praise today’s article about Jack Grealish.
Like a number of others I watched the recent England game against Belgium with a real pulse of positivity over what Grealish (+Foden) could produce against a classy opposition. Great signs.
I want to like you Jack I really do, but your actions when it comes to being fouled just don’t sit right.
When I see you endlessly rolling around after an innocuous contact and sat on your proverbial, arms raised in righteous indignation, it just sours my view of you (he reminds me of the kids on the old Harry Enfield show when he does that (.. ‘No Lou-Lou !’))
Bringing it all together in analogy, his vision and playing ability taste like a beautiful steak, but we are forced to wash it down with something crappy tasting relating to his play-acting (…for me, marzipan – the devil’s earwax)
I agree that the FA review scope currently appears too narrow / blinkered into such matters.
In an ideal world they would also consider whether the actions of any fouled player appear to be proportionate with the impact received – it is clear and obvious to most people that for Grealish and others that this is not the case (Fernandes / Richarlison being others quite high up on that list)
You can see under the current structure of the officiating rules why players go down. However, for the exaggeration of the pain inflicted there is no excuse in my eyes (unless people wish to try to condone the actions of con artists).
People will argue that such an FA approach on individual fouls would be challenging to enact as people for one have differing pain thresholds. My only thought is that they review by reputation over a number of games – eg they could look at the amount of time in games that a player has stopped the flow of the game for a supposed injury only to carry on afterwards – build up a picture of serial offenders in this regard over a number of games. In some cases that could lead to the player being brought in front of an FA review with possible sanction.
If we do nothing, guess what, nothing will change and the sour taste will remain in fan’s mouths.
Hopefully everyone will agree that football is an improved spectacle when the game flows more and my hope is that the FA will have that principle as part of their policing mandate.
People in Spain moaned at Messi much earlier in his career over the number of times play was broken up by supposed fouls on him.
When Messi realised that he could cause more damage to the opposition by broadly staying on his feet when he received such innocuous taps it was a positive step for the perception of his game and his talent.
Does Jack feel that what he is doing currently is of greater benefit to the team than taking the ‘play-on’ approach ? (… and let me say Jack, you are no Messi)
Players should cherish their reputation a little more highly I feel.
In a lot of cases after they’ve retired that’s all they will have (… + a nice house)
Irish tinted glasses…
Fair play to Minty and Kevin for pointing out Kelleher also conceded 10 in 2 games v Aston Villa and Arsenal.
As you both mentioned,the Villa game he was surrounded by youth players as the main squad were in Brazil.Villa got a deflected 4th goal but 4 of the other 5 he may have saved.
Least he didn’t concede 7 I suppose.
The Arsenal league Cup game was insane.
If VAR had been used 2 of Arsenals goals would have been disallowed for offside,Milner made a massive mistake with an idiotic back pass that gifted Arsenal a goal and another Arsenal goal was a 30+ yarder into the top corner postage stamp style.You could have had 3 keepers in goal… it wasn’t being saved.
The Irishtinted glasses is ludicrous.
He is a Cork man(as am I)so it’s rebel tinted glasses anyway(goggle it). Joking aside I also have an issue with people completely writing off Neco Williams on the basis of a handful of a few games.Is he Irish too? These guys are kids.No one knew who VVD was at their age.TAA didn’t get huge praise after his debut at OT in 2017.They are training day in,day out with the best coaches on the planet.Evetything is analysed to the nth degree.Encourage young players,give them time and look at the bigger picture.
Writing him off after he conceded goals surrounded by youth players is just ludicrous.Judge them after they have played 15,30 games with the same back 4,when they have built up an understanding.
Liverpool have had 10 different centre back partnerships this season & have started 3 different keepers…how the hell can anyone build up an understanding when that happens?.