Man Utd are being managed by Mr Burns, and other mails…

Date published: Friday 11th December 2020 9:24 - Ian Watson

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Man Utd

Keep those mails coming to….

Ole is Mr Burns
There is a classic episode of The Simpsons entitled, “Homer at the Bat”. In this episode Mr Burns is assembling a team to play the rival town’s nuclear power plant in a game of Softball. In order to ensure the win he enlists the services of several high profile MLB players at that point in time to replace his employees in the team, including Daryl Strawberry, one of the best in the league.

Through a series of unfortunate events all the players except Strawberry are unable to play in the game. There is a scene in which Mr Burns, as manager of the team, decides it is ‘up to his managerial skills’ to turn the tide of the game. With Strawberry at bat he simply shouts, ‘You! Strawberry! Hit a home run!’ to which Daryl replies, ‘Ok, Skip!’ and proceeds to hit a home run. Mr Burns, pleased with himself, turns to Mr Smithers and says, ‘I TOLD him to do that!’ which is then heralded as a brilliant strategy.

Ole is Mr Burns, Strawberry is Fernandes/Cavani etc and telling him to hit a home run is subbing them on to help rescue a game that United are losing.

Later in the game Mr Burns recalls Strawberry to be replaced with Homer due to the current pitcher being left handed just like Strawberry. Burns proclaims that he is ‘playing the percentages’ and ‘it’s what smart managers do to win ball games’. Strawberry retorts that he has hit 9 home runs, to which Mr Burns tells him that he should be proud of himself and to hit the showers.

Again, Ole is Mr Burns and this is him bringing a player off despite them needing goals to win a game that United are losing.
Curtis, Belfast, LFC (Homer is Matic)


Solskjaer still the man
Yes, we haven’t played the best football most of the time this season.
Yes, we are not consistent.
Yes, it’s frustrating to watch as we know the level these boys can play at and what they can achieve.
Yes, we should probably have gone to the next round in the champions league but we did have the semi finalists and finalists PSG in our group.

We are 4th in the league and yes some hard fought wins from unnecessary bad positions.
But it’s been a tough start to many top teams. Should we beat Man City the weekend we 1 point off the top team.
Not bad at all id say.

Ole should be given time just like Sir Alex was. Let’s also not take away from some great coaches in the league in the likes of Pep and Klopp.

Unfortunately most top class coaches wouldn’t make it at United because so much is expected of the club and players that a patch of bad form gets all the write ups and with United fan base they always in the spotlight. Good money for media.

Go write about your opinions about Arteta and Hasenhuttl or Bielsa or what ever other team and you know your articles wont get the same attention they do now.

These managers mentioned above are great and love to watch them but sadly, they would get the same treatment as Ole is getting should they coach at united in the future. From the same people who want ole out and replaced by some of these.

Every team plays to win. Some play just to stay up in the toughest league in the world, some to finish in Europa positions, some play for champions league positions and others for the Premier league title.

Unfortunately we live in times of instant answers, instant success and lack the patients to see out hard times only to miss out on something great if only we believed a little longer, weathered the storms and held on in tough times.

Most of us couldn’t coach a junior league team and yet we have the solutions for one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Just as Klopp has credited Rogers for the great work he had done at Liverpool to help them where they are today, perhaps Ole is that for united, getting the culture back, the pride to want to play for this club back the players who want to be their like Bruno. Doesn’t have all the right tactics or the mentality to push them over the winning line but he is getting united going the right direction.

United’s time will come…

READ MORE: Dissecting Man Utd’s off-the-record reasons for optimism

Quick fixes
Whilst, of course, there should be questions asked of Ole’s tactics and the team’s performance. I think that there are some deeper problems that, as a Liverpool fan, I see some parallels with our own barren period. Whilst it feels like a mammoth task, there are some quick solvable issues that will put Man Utd in a much healthier place.

Firstly, get rid of the sense of entitlement based on the history of the club. Admittedly, most of this comes from the media, but there is no denying the influence that pundits have on fans’ perspective. With the likes of Scholes, Keane, the Nevilles, Ferdinand and even Michael bloody Owen harping on about how players should be giving more because ‘this is Manchester Utd’.

The reality is that, in footballing terms, the Manchester Utd of the Fergie era doesn’t exist any more. Much in the same way that Souness – Rodgers era Liverpool were not the European juggernauts that they were in the 80’s – despite Phil Thomson and co spewing the same nonsense. 99% of players don’t give a t*ss about the history of a club. Herein lies a big problem with Solskjaer. he puts too much focus on the DNA of the club. To solve this, Solskjaer needs to change his tone and come up with a few soundbites to reflect this shift. Much like Klopp did with his quote – “all the clubs in the world have a big history if the present is not too successful.”. Make the players accountable for the present.

Secondly, the off-record leaks from Ed Woodward and ‘Senior Players’ still evidently remains a problem. The quicker the leaks are rooted out, the better. Telling Woodward to f*ck off might be difficult, but finding which players are going to the press and telling them where to go should be simple enough. If Coleen Rooney can do it…

Or they could just sign Harry Kane.
Den Norris


Did United fail Pogba?
Did Manchester United fail Pogba? I should start by declaring I am not a fan of United and very much not a fan of Pogba, this question was just something that come up in a pub discussion recently from someone who is a United fan.

Mourinho signed Pogba, didn’t work out and Pogba threw his toys out the pram, succeeding in getting rid. The assumption is Pogba didnt like him and downed tools, at least the assumption in the discussion was this. So Mourinho is gone and a chance to go big, sign a top top manager to really push back to the top. They get a temporary manager, Pogba is great playing reasonably well and looking like a player ready for when they sign a permanent manager. They then give the woefully unqualified cheerleader the role full time and things don’t go so well… what does that do to Pogba on a human level? It doesn’t show ambition, the signings since aren’t that of a team trying to push to the top (some exceptions) rather than a load of money chucked around. So why would Pogba not push to leave? I know the argument of he’s paid x amount so should suck it up, but being somewhere you aren’t enjoying when you can get paid similar elsewhere kind of negates that.

I’m not saying Pogba should be absolved of all blame, or that he hasn’t failed that club in how he’s acted when he could have been the one driving the club forwards. But it seems like he thinks of lot of himself and wants to be winning trophies, and United just seem to be content with average.. I won’t bore with the examples of other players throughout the years who we could attribute to potentially having done the same, but just a thought and a different way of looking at the situation.
Aaron (just a reminder, I dispise the bloke so is in no way a defence of him)


Case for the defence
Few retorts to the email sent in by Andy Suggitt.

Yes,you can point out Utd conceded only 3 more goals than Liverpool last season but(ironically)it should come with an *. Liverpool conceded 21 in 31 until they clinched the league and then conceded 12 in the last 7 games.
This included 4 against City the night Lpool were applauded onto the pitch as champions and 3 at home v Chelsea the night they lifted the trophy.
Utd were under pressure to get the top 4 till the very last minute of the last game of the season against Leicester and STILL conceded more goals than a team who won the league with most games to go in PL history and had slightly switched off.

Your centre back cost more than VVD,Matip and GOMEZ did COMBINED.
Your right back COST ten times what TAA,Robertson did COMBINED.
Your left back Luke Shaw cost 3 times our 2 full backs did COMBINED.
Also the Liverpool defence has had the best defensive record in the PL 2 seasons in a row.
Not to mention the best defensive record in the CL in 2019.

You can spin things anyway you want to suit a particular narrative.
Ferg, Cork (Waiting for the Alisson price to be thrown at me in the afternoon mailbox)


Alternate insanity
I watched Tuesday’s game in the front room of my German neighbor, who as a fan of Bayern Munich spent the game telling me about the various strengths and weaknesses of the Leipzig side and how well coached they are from a young age at Salzburg before moving to Leipzig.

At half time I actually predicted a 3-1 scoreline, whereas my neighbour didn’t think we’d score in the second half. To come so close in the last few minutes with the almost-own goal was frustrating, but just desserts for our calamitous defending. As Merse cockneyed on Sky… you can’t give a team a 3-0 advantage in the Champions League. What were we thinking at the back?

Anyway, my points are twofold:

In an alternative reality, if you swap the results from United’s away games against Paris and Basaksehir, then finishing third actually looks ok. Imagine, we lose 2-1 away at PSG in October, and win away at Besaksehir (as expected) 2-1. Same home results, and same Leipzig result away from home this week. Actually most people would look at that and say, “fair enough… third in the group to last season’s finalists and semi-finalists.. not too bad”. It was the hope from the PSG game that screwed us.
We desperately need more coaching expertise. I saw a mail on Wednesday decrying Carrick, Phelan and McKenna. I don’t completely agree… McKenna was promoted by Mourinho so can’t be that bad; Phelan was assistant to Fergie for 5 years and Carrick trod the well-worn path from dressing room to coaching staff. But I do think Ole needs to learn something from the evolution of Fergie’s coaching staff through his career with the club. Fergie had SEVEN different assistants (counting Queiroz as only one, despite two stints in the role). Queiroz and MacLaren in particular were credited with freshening up Fergie’s approach and being instrumental in the success enjoyed in the key Fergie years from 99 onwards. I’m not saying we should fire Phelan.. but we certainly need to add some fresh ideas to the coaching (any ideas will do at this stage…).
My German neighbour dried my tears whilst talking to me about Leipzig’s “efficient gameplan”. He was right except the last 20 minutes. But his point stands: why the hell can’t we coach the team to have some semblance of a strategy in such a big game, and to learn from our mistakes at the back?

Ole has still got some credit in the bank for me. But if he doesn’t learn from these lessons and add more expertise to the coaching staff then we’ll continue doing the same things and expecting different results. Which I do believe is insanity.
Texas Red.


Don’t write off Gilmour
Will Ford asks whether Billy Gilmour will be a “Chelsea Casualty in Dead-Eyed Hunt for Glory,” nine months after suggesting that we should all “get giddy over Chelsea’s dead cert.” Gilmour has been injured for most of the intervening time and has just completed an excellent ninety minutes on top of last week’s substitute appearance to suggest that he’ll take back up right where he left off. The “dead-eyed hunt for glory,” i.e. very efficient transfer business over the summer/autumn, has limited opportunities for some players in the squad, but no one who plays Gilmour’s position has been brought in. Yes, he’s behind the “even more brilliant” N’Golo Kante. A nineteen year old with a handful of professional appearances is probably quite happy to develop as backup to one of the world’s finest midfielders.

Most Chelsea fans would probably agree that the likely path for Gilmour will be to gradually move into Jorginho’s current position as a very useful squad player with some unique skills. I’m a big fan of Jorginho and really admire how he’s developed into an important player for Chelsea despite some very unfair treatment from the fans in his first season. His talents on the ball are undeniable, but he does still have weaknesses defensively, even if they’re sometimes overstated. Gilmour, at nineteen, looks like he may have a comparative talent on the ball without the limitations off it. Jorginho probably won’t be satisfied for too long as a squad player and may sadly be moved on in the next year or two- he’s currently behind Kante, Mount, Kovacic and Havertz in the overall midfield pecking order. Gilmour should be ready to step in at that point. Even if Declan Rice is ultimately brought in, that will likely be as long-term replacement for Kante, providing cover in midfield and defence initially. Gilmour’s future doesn’t look in any worse shape that it did nine months ago.

Funnily enough, I wrote a similar message over the summer in response to another Will Ford piece on Chelsea’s pursuit of Havertz, having already signed Werner. The argument in that Ford piece was that Mount and Abraham were all very well for top four chasers, but not title challengers. I argued then, as I do now, that Chelsea’s most talented young players can continue to thrive alongside expensive new signings and that we should all see how things develop rather than write them off at the first opportunity. As Ford himself says in today’s piece, Mount is now an essential piece of the team and Tammy is getting more opportunities than even he probably hoped for. He may ultimately be a squad player rather than a starter, but that will have nothing to do with a lack of opportunities. Ford also mentions the cases of Tomori and Hudson-Odoi, but their situations are more or less the same so far this season as in the second half of last season. Hudson-Odoi clearly hasn’t fully convinced Lampard yet, but having just turned twenty he’s still getting opportunities to do so. Tomori’s case is somewhat more mysterious, but Lampard’s comments on him over the last nine months or so seem to imply that he’s not doing enough in training. Lampard praises Tammy, James and particularly Mount’s work in training at every opportunity, and he’s so far spoken in similar terms about Gilmour’s. As for the other players mentioned, Gallagher and Ampadu, they’re both in the relatively early stages of loans and doing pretty well so far, just like Mason Mount and Reece James were this time two years ago.

To summarise, I’m glad Frank Lampard has a lot more faith in Chelsea’s youth than Will Ford appears to.
Daniel, Dublin


Frustrated by Arteta
I am a big Arteta out person. I don’t understand the give him time thing. We are 15th in the league in December. We are 20th in terms of creating chances. But that’s not what I want to talk about. He keeps saying he hopes we translates our Europa league form to the league. I am usually puzzled. I mean, the opposition are usually sh*t in the Europa league, and most importantly this are different attacking players. Partey is obviously our best midfielder, followed by Elneny. But Xhaka and Ceballos get to play. Two players who are not even premier league standard. I am not going to even bother with Lacazette and William. The truth is that this Job is bigger than Arteta. He solution to our lack of creativity is more crosses. I hope we lose on Sunday, and the one after if he is still in charge. Sometimes you have to burn the house down to build it up again.
Kuf AFC (Can we get Allegri?)

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Racism apologists
He could have used his number – he could have just pointed and shouted ‘him’ but no he choose to use a descriptive of colour – I think you are really missing the point brother – so please go educate yourself – every referee can use a number full stop. Especially when there is Anti-racism slogans everywhere, RESPECT and many other signals to you know indicate that’s not an acceptable descriptor – he didn’t call any of the white players ‘whitey’ over there – no he found an appropriate descriptor – like his number – or I wonder if he might have even used a name – stop apologising for this behaviour – that’s a major part of the problem. Sometimes things have to be stopped dead in their tracks or change will never occur – and for all those apologists just think if everything you did no matter what was judged by the colour of your skin….
Joe (to many apologists – just as bad as the racists)


Griezmann’s stand
Shout out for Griezmann for apparently terminating his ambassadorial role with the Chinese tech company Huawei  For aiding and abetting repression of the Uighurs.
Peter. Andalucia.


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