The parallels between Man Utd and Robert Mugabe…

Date published: Monday 27th January 2020 8:25 - Ian Watson

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Glazer Manchester United

Get yourself in the afternoon Mailbox by sending your thoughts to…


Ole’s got this
Following up on my mail last week… I’m not going to pretend that the result yesterday changes anything or should convince anybody of anything. Just as much though, to my thinking, the Burnley game didn’t change anything. Both results were entirely within the boundaries of what this United squad is capable of producing.

The reason that I back Solskjaer is that he is able to influence his team ‘off the back’ of one of their slip-ups, to come out and play the next game as if it never happened. Watch his interviews – clearly the man is stressed out. Yet, he knows that it is necessary to, and manages to keep calm, rational and professional – convincingly a level above the ‘here and now’.

Ole is convincingly in control – the value of this character trait really shouldn’t be underestimated. Most managers can’t do it, but Fergie could do it, and Ole can do it. United managers have to be able to be convincing, especially a manager that is rebuilding the squad from an almost standing start. I would’ve kept Van Gaal for the same reason, but Ole is actually better at this than he was; and his football is better too.

Moyes had a much easier job than Ole – revitalising a Fergie title-winning squad, but he looked like a total fraud from the get go. Mourinho had an even easier job than that, completing the squad building that was coming to fruition under Van Gaal and being afforded the trust and patience of the fans to do so. He looked like a petulant child. Ole has a bigger task than either of them, and the fans are out of patience, so the pressure is massive. Yet, he is sticking to his plan, taking the flack… and he is still Ole Solskjaer. Managing a side to fifth in the league, that is still in all three cups; with a squad that in modern terms is unprecedentedly threadbare and inexperienced.

With this squad, I fully expect games like the loss to Burnley. Especially considering that Burnley are currently in a sweet spot. After their win against Leicester, Dyche explained that the best thing about the result was how ‘naturally’ (paraphrase) his team played. Just like they did against a United side that is adjusting to the Rashford injury, who are at best this season, sporadically excellent and at worst, clunky.

Where I differ from the ‘Ole Out Brigade’, is firstly, in that I don’t blame Solskjaer for the patchiness of the squad. I also think his changes to the squad have been the right ones, both players in and out. That, these changes are being made at a sustainable rate of change; and are benefiting the development of the younger players at United, as well as giving some of the older players a chance to find their feet. This allows a more considered analysis of where new signings are most necessary, and who they should be.

Prior to hiring Ole, the board had gone for the biggest name manager available (Moyes apart!) and given said manager untold millions to spend. Now, they have to back the manager in a totally different way – a new plan.

They have to accept Solskjaer’s preference for gradual, thoughtful squad development. Then, they have to resist the knee-jerk calls from a portion of the fan base to go back to the old plan that lead to the mess they currently find themselves in. They have to resist the temptation to re-fill the squad and wage bill with short-term, white-elephant players like Cavani or potentially, vastly over-priced players like Fernandes (I said potentially.)

Maddison, Sancho, Jiminez – that is the benchmark. If United are not 100% sure a player is that good, then they shouldn’t be spending tens of millions to sign and pay them. Especially when doing so would block a youth player’s path into the side; or worse, prevent United from being able to sign someone that is good enough in the next window.

Even if it means they come seventh. There is no quick fix and believing that there is, is a folly only eclipsed by acting on the misguided notion. We’ve tried that for nearly a decade and it has left us in the shit. So we need a manager strong enough to do it another way, and a board strong enough to back him as he does so. There is no other way.

If United were in 12th and looked like sinking, if the manager looked like he was flapping, I’d be saying different; but they aren’t and he isn’t. So I’m not.

There is section of the United fan base that I have always found myself at odds with, even at the very best of times. This section used to claim with total certainty, that Darren Fletcher was crap, for example. Then they were convinced that Michael Carrick was utter pants etc., etc. They have never known what they were talking about, and they still don’t. They can throw insults about ably. They shout and swear a lot. All the while failing to grasp that doing so does not a cogent argument make. Even if it is backed up with a blurt of contextually irrelevant, skewed statistics.

Kind Regards,
DD, MUFC, Manchester


Man Utd and Mugabe
This idea from the Man U fans and football analysts that somehow Ole is not to blame For the current state of Man U but Woodward and the Glazers is seriously flawed and laughable. Kinda reminds me of how Zimbabweans initially blamed their country’s malaise on Mugabe’s lieutenants and not Mugabe. When nothing improved they then turned around and blamed Mugabe and said he was limiting his lieutenants from making the needed reforms to improve lives. We all know how it all ended with a coupe on Mugabe.Now the same people are now worse off than during Mugabe’s time. My point is no-one is clean in this mess, the entire system is rotten and until proper restructuring and removal of some people Man U will be getting worse and worse and the fans and pundits will need to find new people to blame.
Im a LFC fan and i am enjoying all the drama.
Carlton, Perth (LFC – I’m a Zimbo, example is a personal experience)


Fergie’s role
I was just catching up on the mails from the last few days after a camping trip when I saw Fergie being dragged into the discussions to explain the current state of ManU.

Oh boy! I started going through it expecting that finally someone has connected the dots together but was met with disappointment. One Calum, Scotland even went to state that Fergie was just an employee. Well, my friend you couldn’t be more wrong.

To understand the current state you have to go back to the days when the Glazers where nowhere around and the role Fergie played to get them in. The majority shareholders (Magnier and McManus) of Man U at that time entered into a dispute with Ferguson regarding the infamous Rock of Gibraltar. This snowballed into a power struggle where the duo went to the board to have Ferguson removed but failed!

Ferguson had rest of the board’s backing and also had his family members running various aspects of the club, he could essentially walk out with all the players and staff.

So guess what Magnier and McManus did, they walked out the door and let the Glazers in while Fergie was holding it for them! It was a win for Ferguson but not for the club. He was always more than a manager but this underlined it. He kept running the club the way he wanted, fans were happy as trophies kept coming and Glazers were happy as money kept flowing. They had no interest (and still don’t) in the running of the club which was completely controlled by Ferguson.

Eventually when Ferguson left, Man U lost more than just a manager or a coach. They lost the person who was running the entire football club.

Selecting David Moyes was hardly 10 percent of everything he needed to do to hand over his job! He left a power vacuum which was quickly filled by undeserving people who are now holding on to it.

Now, there are a number of ways of looking at above sequence of events, you be the judge on how much blame rests on his shoulders but for me, he has been the orchestrator all along.
Tariq (Ferguson is like Sergio Ramos), Sydney


Give Klopp a break
So what exactly is the point of the winter break if your going to shoehorn cup replays in there?

The FA explicitly told clubs they were forbidden from playing lucrative friendlies during the break to ensure the integrity of the 2 weeks was observed, so how is it they themselves approve competitive fixtures to take place during these 14 days? Could it be that they are only actually paying lip service to the welfare of the players?

Klopp is right to do what he is doing and it’s absolutely perfect that it has happened after a fabulous, pulsating, good old fashioned cup tie. This way the FA will not be able to simply sweep away their incompetence. They have already made a farce of the Carabao cup with they’re decision to force Liverpool to play two games in two days. They treat the players like cattle. Klopp is the best thing to have ever happened to players, he has no fear of the consequences of his actions in protecting the players. He has done more for players than the players union has achieved in 20 years. Little wonder his players adore him.
Dale (what exactly is the point of a players union anyway?) Marlow


In’t that nice?
Well as Jürgen said, a draw was the minimum Shrewsbury deserved. So congrats to them, their team and fans were brilliant. Yes, it should only have been a free kick and not a pen, but you win some, you lose some. And they might have scored from the free kick anyway.

At the end of the day we are still in the competition, and it was great to see the Shrewsbury fan’s celebrations, young and old. Every club/fan desires such, so fair play. And on a positive, I can go to another game. Obviously not what the manager, players want, but they are big boys, it’s their own fault, they’ll just have to deal with it. And Shrewsbury also deserve such a financial benefit and who’s to say what might happen yet with their belief and vociferous backing.

As for us we move on, and now think only of West Ham.
Mike Woolrich, LFC


Another chance
Thought Shrewsbury were excellent after conceding the second today. Definitely deserved to comeback and played quite well.

Matip had a real stinker and caused most of the problems we had. Not sure why he insisted on passing it immediately to their lads but hope it was just him feeling rusty. Lovren did get nutmegged for the equaliser but it was more his rushing to meet Cummings which caused his issues in the first place. He’s still too rash to be anything other than 4th choice and he should never be trusted to partner anyone but VVD.

Curtis Jones was the main highlight overall. Hard to pick out many others in truth.

Honestly love the idea of those kids that played Villa getting another chance. This time it’ll be at Anfield and they’ve had a bit of experience which I bet they’ll all have learned from. I also think this game was an excellent one to beat any complacency out of the team, even if it wasn’t the proper first team. Reminds everyone at the club what happens if you relax for even a moment.
Minty, LFC


Henderson missed
Well played Shrewsbury. Brendan Rodgers would be proud of that character.

‪The result (and the “invitations”, as Klopp eloquently put it, presented to Shrewsbury) show how important Jordan Henderson is to Liverpool. He doesn’t allow their intensity or focus to drop when he’s on the field.

‪P.S. I fancy watching Robbo v Cummings at Anfield. Proper scrap likely‬


Klopp’s turnaround
Joff, Barton Gooner, Spouting the same tired, nonsensical uttering about Liverpool fans and their love of net spend. Putting the embarrassing tribalism aside, how is it so difficult to comprehend?

When you consider what Klopp inherited, his first Liverpool XI was: Mignolet, Clyne, Skrtel, Sakho, Moreno, Leiva, Can, Milner, Lallana, Coutinho, Origi and the bench was truly shocking – Toure, Allen, Ibe, Bogdan, Sinclair, Vilaca Teixeira and Randall.

To what he has transferred that into Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Mane, Firmino and a much improved bench of Fabinho, Adrian, Minamino, Origi, Matip, Jones, Williams.

This is an incredible turnaround on a very small budget, now I appreciate some players would have been injured but to make a transition like this for all of about £70m is some feat and surely can be appreciated no matter who you support.

As an aside if net spend didn’t matter and we could spend what we like, we would also have Sterling, Suarez and Coutinho to select from, now there’s a thought.
Mark C (bored of blind tribalism)


Cup changes
Since 16 conclusions suggested slight changes to the FA cup, I thought I would have a pop. Scrap the league cup and have a double elimination FA cup where the premier league teams and top 12 of championship (at the end of the previous season) are in the upper bracket. This means 5 wins put your team in the final. If you lose a game, it doubles the number of games to get to the final, thus incentivising winning your matches.

Also, we get to see some “big matches” earlier as all the PL teams wouldnt be drawn against lower league opposition in the early rounds.

Here’s the kicker… to make it fair and avoid replays, go to extra time and pens but play at neutral venues. We could get some hilarious situations, e.g., a Merseyside derby at Old Trafford, Chelsea v Tottenham at the Emirates, a Manchester derby at St. James park.
Ziggy (enjoying every unbelievable moment of this season, and pinching myself to see if it’s real)


Beeb’s boob
Can somebody please tell Martin Keown and co. that the Shrewsbury players are professional footballers, not an under 14s side which has won a competition to play against Liverpool?

‘Oh look how clever he is holding onto the ball when his teammate is offside’, ‘look at how well he controlled that ball’, ‘look at him running’.

Give it a break, you patronising sods.


Bowen next?
Well Chelsea are safely through to the next round of the FA Cup, in classic Chelsea fashion this season, take the lead after dominating the game, make it 2-0 then concede and look fragile till the final whistle, certainly isn’t boring I’ll say that.

In other news, Hull’s Jarrod Bowen looks a special talent, he showed his ability that he has this and last season for Hull, if players like Daniel James, Tammy Abraham, Reece James etc can make the move up to the Premier League then I’m sure Bowen could do similar for a mid-table side, maybe even a top 6?
Mikey, CFC


Now you mention it
Is it just me who thinks that Erling Haaland looks uncannily like that Ronaldo statue (you know the one)

Adrian, Malaysia


More Related Articles