It’s Man Utd heavy this morning. Keep sending your thoughts to email@example.com.
Man Utd vanity
Winty was bang on – United won’t win this league this season. Most sensible people would recognise this. She was probably also right that United won’t win the league with that defence, that manager and THAT Executive Vice-Chairman. I certainly would suggest all those statements to be true.
Thing is, only a truly blinkered United fan would believe that United should be looking for an immediate title shot and there are oh so many reasons.
Despite a few positional weaknesses and weirdly balanced midfield, our first team is ok. We’re definitely capable of beating top sides on our day and we may yet look more comfortable against Champions League opposition than the all out defence the bottom 12-14 provide in the Prem (with notable exceptions and yes that’s where a United currently sit). But they can’t play every game and when one is missing, particularly one of the front three and Bruno we struggle seriously to break teams down and end up being susceptible on the break. We genuinely have zero top notch replacements for any position except goalkeeper (where the first option may not be great). Donny might help a bit but any sort of injury crisis and we’re screwed. So if only because of the playing staff, any sort of sustained title challenge is likely to take some time as the squad is built.
This won’t happen quickly. The club has rightly been looking to rebuild our youth setup and there are some signs that this is about to show benefit to the first team. Can’t stand Ed Woodward but credit it where it’s due, and this seems to be an increased area of focus which will hopefully allow us to build squads more sustainably in the future. However, as we’ve seen from Woodward’s statement this week – “we’ve only signed one first team player but look! We’ve signed a whole bunch of youth players, we’re so sustainable” – this is currently being used as a distraction from his inability to bring players into the club and possibly even a reason not to sign players now.
I’m actually quite happy with the club taking a sustainable approach and bringing in young players and the right older players. It’s certainly refreshing given the large sums spunked on the wrong players previously. Unfortunately, because the Glaziers net investment has been -£89M (or something) since Fergie left it’s clear that we could actually afford to do a little bit more if the Glaziers weren’t extracting money from a club they borrowed loads of money to buy, so the sustainability argument from the hierarchy isn’t about preserving the club but preserving the pockets of its owners, who have just brought in the best ever QB and TE for their NFL club despite them being approximately 500 years old and retired respectively. It’s clear from their ownership of Tampa Bay that they know more about exploiting the assets of a sporting business than developing on field performance so whilst the new United strategy is a good one (though not exactly ground breaking), the vanity of the owners ensures a ridiculous marquee signing is only just round the corner.
On the subject of that vanity, it’s another reason United are not close to a title challenge. Yes we’re an historically big club and have won a shed load in the past. But that actually means bugger all. So when United talk about not signing players because the structure are not suitable for the “prestige” of the club it makes me feel physically sick. Other players and managers must be thinking “what a bunch of wankers”. The Reguilon clauses were not appropriate for United but that had absolutely naff all to do with the prestige of the club, we just aren’t desperate to fill the left back position. If we were we’d have just paid more money to negate the need for the clauses. So Ed please stop coming out with ridiculous stuff like that and “Man Utd is like Disney Land”. It’s just embarrassing. We’re a goddamn football club with a proud history, and our supporters probably feel the same way about United that other fans feel about their club. The only difference is we have more fans because we have been relatively more successful and marketed ourselves extremely well. Until you came along and started talking rubbish.
So Ole will probably not win the league with United but other managers won’t either under the current conditions. What does seem to be happening with Ole though is that the structure behind the team are going in the right direction. I think if a United do win the league again in the next decade we’ll look back to Ole’s tenure and think that’s probably where it all began. However, without significant changes in the way me manage footballers as assets we won’t be able to compete. For instance, look at the number of players who will not be regularly playing for us this season who are still at the club – Rojo, Jones, Lingard etc. These guys need to be moved on with minimum fuss, release them if you have to. But because the owners are tight, we won’t be able to do this. In Fergie’s day wantaways like Pogba would have been moved on without thought to the bottom line – look at Beckham, Ince, Stam. I sincerely believe that it’s the owners that prevent these changes being made.
And finally, for gods sake, can we please start agreeing fees with the club before we negotiate with the player?
Pogba’s lethargy, Rashford’s inconsistency
I don’t really want to wade into the Ole debate, but I do want to give some opinions on United players. Before I get into this I should say that I know why this site and its writers have defended Pogba in the past; Souness’ constant jabs at Pogba do sometimes require a closer look. I get that and I respect that, but to me, I would still happily see him go.
Gary Neville has constantly said that Pogba is United’s only world-class player, that the team should be built around him, and I disagree. This is a broader debate on what makes a player world-class but to me it when a player is in the top 3 of their position in their league and top 5 in the world, for at least two or three seasons. Ergo, KDB is world-class, as is Salah, as is Mane, as was Kante and so on. In my opinion, Paul Pogba has never been that, even while he was good at Juventus. Does he have the talent to be? Yes, but then again so did Hatem Ben Arfa. There seems to be too much required for Pogba to have a good game: the opposition must give him time on the ball, another player must be there to do his defensive work and worst of all, it seems to depend too much on his varying mood to affect a game. To compare to KDB, who in theory possesses the same kind of skillset, there is no comparison. KDB slots and changes positions by will or by manager demand, always looking for a way to be dangerous. In his post-match interview last night he said that even when he has bad games, he has to try and find a way to help the team. That is not Pogba’s attitude. Pogba plays with a kind of lethargy that in my opinion does more harm than good. He seems to insist on receiving the ball to feet and waiting for an opposition player to arrive at his back and then try to turn him, instead of playing the quick pass that will hurry and move an opponent. It bugs me, and that’s before you take into account how little he offers defensively. And that’s also before the sideshow that is his agent. He can be a great passer and chance creator, but is he good enough to be carried on the way there? No one carries KDB and no one carries anyone at Bayern. In the cases like Ronaldo or Messi it is because it was really worth it not to tire them out, but they’re also forwards, they can get away with it more.
Next is Rashford. He is an academy player so gets more time, but he is already entering (if not kicking the door down) the realm of being debateable. I watch almost every United game, and even though his goal reel looks fantastic, Rashford is too rarely a constant threat in games. When I watch Liverpool, even when one of them doesn’t score, Mane and Salah are a near constant threat to the opposition. Even in games where he scores, Rashford is so rarely a menace beyond his pace. Some of this may be tactics but it’s more than that when you watch him consistently; he looks disinterested for large parts of games, if not whole games. He should be looking to constantly make things happen, to constantly ask questions of opponents and how they plan to stop him, but he doesn’t. The same can be applied to Martial although he is starting to rectify that a bit more. There are too many games where they both decide to be good, or are completely accepting of playing bad. And too often, they seem to both do this together. If both had an attitude of “okay, I’m not having a good game but maybe I can do X,Y and Z to help the team”, then the team wouldn’t suffer as much for this inconsistency. It was always said that both were young, both didn’t get on with Mourinho, both need to play their best positions but now we are getting past that time. City have proved that positions only prove a certain amount about a player; how many positions have Sterling, KDB, Jesus, B. Silva and Gundogan played?
Van de Beek to me looks like he should be in Pogba’s spot for ability and also energy, and a CDM signed. Lindelof has gotten a lot of stick lately but it’s fair to me; I never liked him because he doesn’t seem to actually want to defend. Full backs can get away with this, a centre back can’t. It’s one thing to dominate possession and do less defending, but a centre back should always be perfectly fine with having to do some defending. Defending makes him nervous and it’s a problem. The forward lines numbers obscured things last season, but they need to learn to be dominant and a constant threat and asset to the team, regardless of whether Sancho is signed. I should point out that the vast majority of United fans I know never expected a title challenge this year, but those things can be improved.
Woodward the forcefield
Having read f365s media watch piece on Neil Curtis defending Solskjaer, I feel compelled to get this off my chest. It bothers me that what I am about to write is so obvious, yet still needs pointing out.
The issue with Manchester United, and yes I can hear you now as you say (which one?), but bear with me because the myriad of issues that the club has, all stem from this one, and it is an issue that many Manchester United supporters fail to grasp. It is that The Glazers and Ed Woodward do not prioritise success on the football pitch over success as a business. As you read this please don’t dismiss that as conspiracy theory or pessimism or cynicism. It is something very evident if you just open your eyes to the reality.
I think this is hugely important for Manchester United supporters to absorb, as it goes to the very core of what is rotten at the club. Football supporters in general, of any club, tend to begin with the premise that the hierarchy of the club want what the fans want. The best staff possible in all areas and departments, that will enable the best possible chance of winning, or at least being competitive, depending on the size of a club and its resources. Ambitions are relative to a clubs size generally speaking. So as one of the biggest and wealthiest clubs in the world, why do Manchester United have an ex Cardiff and Molde manager at the helm? It is because it is not the priority of the clubs owners and hierarchy to make Manchester United the best they can be.
Manchester United as Gary Neville said should, and are capable (if they wanted to) of recruiting the “best in class”. A director of football for a start. Woodward has been “looking” for one for how many years now? Do some Manchester United fans believe that he cannot find a qualified dof? Or is it more credible to believe that a dof of say, the calibre of Edwin Van der Saar and the incredible job he has done with Ajax, would simply be a threat to Woodward and the Glazers. Why would they want a football man who is experienced and qualified and proven to come in and point out that they have done, and continue to do, an atrocious job, and that addressing what needs to be done is going to mean having the Glazers, Woodward and Judge step back from their comtrol in football matters, and relinquish control to the dof. They do not want to do this. That is why they have not appointed a dof, and even if they do in the future, it will most likely be a puppet yes man to try and create a facade that they are doing the right things to progress matters on the pitch.
The Glazers have a forcefield that largely protects them, and that forcefield is Ed Woodward. He takes the flak, and happily I imagine considering what he gets paid to do so. He appoints a manager that was a legendary player at the club, knowing that fans will be slower to turn on him, thus creating a buffer between him and the abuse thrown his way. I’m not even going to talk about lack of players signed, poor negotiation skills in identifying and signing players in critical areas (centre half) as these are just symptomatic of the one real issue. They do not care. Once Manchester United is just competitive enough to be high profile enough to continue to be able to acquire profitable sponsorship deals and sell merchandise globally by the truck load, that is enough for Woodward and the Glazers. It is, always has been, and always will be so. As long as they own the club. So the premise of football success as an ambition by the owners is a false one. That is why we do not have a director of football, an elite manager, and quality players in all areas on the pitch. The club has the resources to get them, but servicing debt, interest repayments on loans, and paying dividends to the owners who continue to milk the club for personal financial gain is far more important. So if you really want to support Manchester United, stop buying jerseys, stop buying merchandise. Boycott purchases of club sponsored goods. Relinquish season tickets. Hit the Cancer that is the Glazers with the chemotherapy that is needed. Starve the cancer of its energy and vitality. Money! Sometimes supporting the club means killing its disease. Don’t confuse supporting the club with supporting the Glazers.
Of course sadly this won’t happen. There are too many softcore fans happy to buy the kit and not think too deeply about it. Some of them are the very people who then ask “why are we not signing players?” The scale is too large to try and mobilise the amount of people needed to implement the real attitude shift needed by supporters. The organisational task is too great to get the masses of Manchester United supporters to realise what is really needed. People can’t fathom that those at the top of a hierarchy within a club could not care about that club, but this is the reality. This is the case. They are traitors to the clubs standards and ideals. To its past, present and future. “Treason doth never prosper” wrote John Harinton. “What’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”
(A mentally and emotionally exhausted Manchester United supporter, one game into the new season)
Comparing Ole and Klopp
Sorry about the long one but for gods sake, I know there is all doom and gloom about united and yes the whole club is in a poor state of affairs from top to bottom with Mr Woodward appeasing share holders rather than fan base but the team united have got is nowhere near as bad as some say, if you look at the team Liverpool had in 2016 and the difference 3 years have made due to good signings and an excellent manager is kind of mental, United are in a lot better state than that shower was. The below is taken from players that played the most over the season (Liverpool 2016 team and Man United 2019 team)
2016 – On apperances
Clyne, Milner, Lovren, Matip
Wijnaldum, Can, Lallana
Coutinho, Firmino, Mane
Subs: Henderson, Origi, Klavan, Lucas, Karius, Sturridge, Moreno
Top 3 goal scorers: Coutinho 14, Mane 13, Firmino 12
2019 – On apperances
Wan Bissaka, Maguire, Lindelof, Shaw
Fred, Matic, McTominay
Martial, Rashford, James
Subs: Greenwood, Pereira, Williams, Fernandes, Mata, Lingard, Romero (Pogba, only played 16 games)
Top 3 goal scorers: Martial 23, Rashford 22, Greenwood 17
Looking at those two sides who would you say was worse? Klopp took over some utter dross with goalkeeping, defensive and attacking problems yet 2 years later he’d created champions league winners and a year later league winners. United last term had a manager who is so far out of his depth it is laughable (he has been managing for 9 years, Lampard and Arteta maybe unproved but that is an actual excuse when they do badly, Ole isn’t unproven he’s just poo), the team needs to have an actual playing style, the players are there, they are good enough, they just need a direction to go in. Just looking at the top 3 goal scorers, how does a team with 2 strikers/wingers with over 20 goals in a season not be considered dangerous.
The only stark difference between those 2 teams is the midfield, how Matic, McTominay and Fred are the 3 midfielders with the most league appearances shows that they needed to improve it, they have, Fernandes is a class above all those players, Van de Beek (Dawsons creek theme tune pops into my head every time) is also a significant upgrade on what was there and Pogba not getting minutes due to “injury” should change (this shows that Ole can’t get the best out of players or can’t be bothered to try).
I know everyone goes on about how Maguire needs turning signals, that Lindelof is just poor or that Shaw needs to learn how to put down his knife on fork but these players were consider some of the best talent in the premiership when United bought them (not Lindelof but the other 2 is a fair point) and “they have turned into a waste of money now”, yet they were the 3rd best defense in the league last season, give em a break.
I said it last season and I’ll say it this season as long as they get a manager who knows what he’s doing, who has a vision for the team and a playing style all the team can get behind they will be scary, at the moment its just Ole shoving square pegs into round holes and hoping it works. I’m a Liverpool fan and thank god that you keep with this Norwegian child faced moron (thats a bit harsh he’s a nice guy just out of his depth) but when United get that manager who can bring them together then they’ll not only win but start steam rolling again. Poch, Allegri or Sarri (maybe not that one) are all free (thanks F365 for that info) and could do wonders, hell even Sam Alladerici would have more of a chance of winning than Ole.
Oh well, its United so it’ll never happen, they’ll end up missing champs league this season and probably spunk another 100 million on players that could be lions but they are lead by a donkeys.
Rich (I dont wanna wait, for our lives to be over….) Jennings, Hull
Can Ben and his like stop comparing OGS to Klopp.Klopp took over an atrocious squad and has had to sell to buy.He had a squad that included Mignolet,Moreno,Skrtel,Sakho, Lucas,Ibe,Solanke and Adam bloody Bogdan.
He got to 2 finals in his first half season.
OGS took over a squad with an £89m midfielder,the best keeper in the world and an array of attacking talent.
Klopp didn’t spend huge money in his first full season yet Liverpool were serious title contenders up to Xmas when squad depth was an issue.On New Years day 2017 they were 4 points off the top but Mane went off to the African Nations,he got so many injuries he had to play bloody Lucas at centre half. Coutinho also got injured in November and really didn’t start playing again properly till April.They got the top 4 though.
In OGS’ first season he bought a £50m right back and an £80m and they were out of the title race in September but did get top 4.
In Klopps second full season they got to the CL final(despite losing Coutinho midseason) & went the whole season unbeaten at home(they still haven’t lost).
They also lost only 2 league games in that whole calender year of 2018.
We are at the start of the second full season of OGS but he has already lost more home games this season then Klopp has in 3 and a half years.I highly doubt Utd will get out of the CL group stages,never mind get to an actual final so stop comparing the 2.
If anything you should be comparing him with Fergie when he arrived November 1986.
Think the Fergie out banners were on show November of his 3rd full season after a 5-1 defeat to City so at least give Ole till Nov 2021.
PS. Can Utd fans stop proclaiming they are back when they win a few and stop having #OLEOUT trending when they concede a corner.
Chelsea cream will rise to the top
In defence of the Chelsea v the nonsense spouted by Joey (Go on Eze!)
You have to love a muppet like Joey, with his Strawman deconstruction of Chelsea. From a QPR fan, how unexpected.
Let’s take a minute to address his points ‘you have to love’.
Chelsea let Lamptey go as they ‘couldn’t find a place for him’. Well with promising young Englishman Reece James then club captain and stalwart Dave ahead of him, is it any surprise Lamptey CHOSE to leave?
With Nathan Ake the jury is out since, as noted by Joe himself, we simply didn’t activate a buy back. Maybe we have another centre half to bring through, like Tomori – who Joe calls ‘a last option’. Yet one we are confident enough in not to buy back Ake.
Declan rice was 14 I think when we let him go… CHO played 35 times last year, Abraham 34 (15 goals) before becoming visibly shattered, and as for Mount, he featured in EVERY GAME. Yet Joey the Insightful feels Mount may have to ‘weigh up his options’. You’re right Joe, the manager clearly has no faith in him, as shown by him starting first two games this season.
And this is a club who, according to you, Joey, ‘don’t care about young academy players being given a chance’.
Regardless of whether the above was ‘borne out of necessity’ or not, no one can argue they weren’t given a chance. A huge one.
Now they have some healthy competition for places. The cream will rise to the top. Chelsea as a club will improve. As a Chelsea fan, us trying to find a balance between academy players, silverware and new exciting signings is something you have to love.
And as for Joey, a self-confessed QPR ‘fan’, saying ‘yet again, I won’t be supporting them’ – I would expect nothing less. Joey, why would you support your local, superior, more successful rivals ( with far more youth players in England set up than your team – you have to love how my that must stick in Joey’s throat)? Even if marginalised players is a ‘big bear’ of yours, whatever a big bear means here – bugs me that.
Anyway Joey, you have to love a bitter rival who doesn’t let facts gets in the way of their own petty prejudiced views, don’t you?
To answer Mikey CFC.
Sandro Ramirez for Everton. Huge wages. Wouldn’t even make it in League Two. I’m being serious.
Thank you Steve Walsh.
TX Bill (Big match against Palace at the weekend, who’d have thought it?) EFC