This is going to be a fun week. Contribute with mails to email@example.com
Good job I navigated to Football365 this morning or I would never have found out the score from last night’s match. I don’t read papers or watch television, you see.
Chris, SAF Stand
Reason for Man United fans to be cheerful
In response to Conor, as a United supporter I’ve actually found something to look forward to which I have never looked forward to before…… The International break! Less than two weeks to go. Get in!
How to fix Man United…
I’d say from last night that Mourinho hasn’t lost the dressing room. The players seemed to care and to be putting in a shift.
He does seem to have lost the plot. Whether it was some sort of petulant attempt to show how poor his options are, playing Herrera in a back three was just mad. The shambles around the substitution of Herrera also seems to have been missed, where Jose seemed to realise that Jones was injured and be gesturing for Herrera to stay on and wanting to change the substitution, but just not getting his message across probably sums up the night.
Can we also just dispense with this myth that De Gea is the best in the world right now? He is a Shay Given. An undeniably brilliant shot stopper, maybe even the best shot stopper in the world. However, surely he has to carry some of the blame for the fact that United’s defence has been a shambles for years. How long do we praise him for doing so well behind such a shambles before asking whether the shambles is in fact partly his fault. One of the jobs of a goalkeeper is to organise the defence. When De Gea arrived he had the formidable experience of Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra in front of him, who didn’t need a whole lot of organising. Last night summed it up. Someone, I think it was Lindelof, played a nigh-on suicidal back pass. De Gea pulled off a save, shouted at no-one in particular then accepted a high five from the offending defender. Schmeichel would have torn the defender a new one same with Jones losing Kane, same with all those set-pieces where we’ve looked like no-one knows who’s marking who. United fans and pundits sing De Gea’s praises so much, it has become an accepted fact that he is one of the best in the world, that everyone reacts in shock when time and again he is overlooked for major individual awards.
Could it be that the blessed St. Dave the Save is part of the reason that every defender we’ve signed in the last five or six years seems to have gotten worse since we signed them?
Anyway, back to fixing United. Firing Mourinho right now would fix nothing. first the club needs to put in place a DoF and a modern recruitment team. That team should agree parameters with the board for the next manager and begin drawing up dossiers on potential replacements. Woodward is a financial whiz, and should concentrate on what he does well. Appointing managers and signing players are clearly not strengths.
Give Mourinho the rest of the season, short of the unthinkable happening and relegation looking a possibility. Sounds ridiculous, but we’ve taken three points from nine, are shipping goals and struggling to score, if that carries on things will look pretty bleak pretty quick..
Replace Jose with a manager identified after a proper evaluation process headed by a modern professional recruitment team. Begin the process of rebuilding the squad in a coherent manner knowing that should a future managerial replacement be needed, it will be someone with similar values and style to the outgoing manager, negating the need for wholescale player changes.
When it comes time to appoint a new manager, the board need to resist the nonsense from much of the press and former players to appoint someone with ties to the club on that basis alone. If the DoF and board feel that Carrick or Butt are ready to step up, then great. But I’d rather bring Gerrard in than Giggs just at the moment. The tribalist BS needs to stop. Sir Matt Busby had played for City. Managers aren’t players.
The Emperor’s moth-eaten clothes
Embarrassing. Not just because it was Spurs. Okay. A bit because it was Spurs… To be fair I find it hard to shake off the impression they’ve made on me over the last 30 years or so. United always rolled them over. (Apart from that game with Prunier centre half) It was a given. Like beating Villa. It just happened. But this is a very fine Spurs side that seems organically grown somehow. Certainly in Premier League terms. Objectively, it seems more admirable than Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea because they are not just throwing money at it. Relatively speaking anyway. The players are not just very good, but they are great ages too, and the core seem to have been there for quite a while now, with sprinkles of astute additions that for the most part improve the side and add something extra. Who would have been shocked if Real Madrid had broken the world record this summer to take Harry Kane to Madrid? Not many. He is that good. Yet he stays at Spurs, on far less money.
A World Cup winning keeper. Solid. Attacking full backs/wing backs, quality central defenders. Eriksen, Alli, and now Moura to add penetration and pace. Pochettino’s heart seems in the project, and its palpable. I think a title at Spurs would mean more to him than three at United would if he made the switch. That’s admirable. Like a game of Championship Manager 01/02 when you can choose any team to manage, but you want a challenge because it will mean more. Pochettino likes a challenge and its difficult not to admire that and respond to his passion and loyalty.
But my original point…embarrassing. I dont know what game some of the pundits were watching having heard their remarks post match. Gary Neville seemed to credit United for working hard! Ok they were woeful against Brighton, but this is Manchester United. Working hard should be the absolute minimum in every game. At any club for that matter. There was no creativity to speak of. A couple of chances that came about, but not through any design or pattern of play it seemed. The defending for the second goal was as bad as you’ll see. No defensive shape, no cohesion or communication. No leaders! Not one. Shaw can hold his head up. Beyond that I’m struggling. So the praise they got was astounding to me. It’s also incredible to me that Jose praised the performance. The effort. Considering hes lambasted players for far less. Saying the third goal killed the game. The second killed it. Arguably the first one did…
It looks to me, with his applauding the fans at the end that he’s trying to keep them onside. Call me cynical, but appealing to and praising their loyalty in an attempt to prevent them from getting on his back. Manipulation is what that is. Don’t be fooled. Emotional blackmail. Why United fans applauded at the end is beyond my comprehension. Maybe because Jose was right there, yards away, and they felt obliged. Like when a drunk uncle sings at a wedding and it’s terrible, but you give him a clap because he’s right there. I have no sympathy for him. He has bought poorly, and I can’t think of one player who is better now than before he arrived at the club. Which is a poor reflection on his coaching skills. Yes I’m aware of his track record with trophies, but that seems of a different age now. Football has evolved and he has not evolved with it. No style, no creativity, no flair, no guile. At Manchester United? Have we come to accept this? And now even the things that Jose is renowned for, organisation, functionality, hard to beat, now even these things are absent. 0-2 down with half an hour left and you bring on Lindelof and Fellaini! Come on. I’m not jumping the gun here. I’m not reacting to two defeats in the opening three games. I’m saying that the manner and the approach is not acceptable. It wasn’t last season either. Limping to second place, that might sound a bit entitled and arrogant, but that far behind City, is not an achievement. Certainly not playing that brand of football played to get there.
The club are forgetting who they are if they are accepting this dross. The fans are forgetting. There’s no identity anymore. A marketing manager with a financial background is in charge of football matters! Can people not see that this is not right? Who’s calling it out? Who will if the fans don’t? Blind loyalty will only damage the club. The emperor has no clothes and someone needs to say it. At most, if he does have clothes, which he made a point of making at his press conference (three Premier League titles. Respect. Respect. Respect’) they are moth eaten and tattered now. Just like the uncle’s suit at the wedding.
Cruel that may sound, but he can’t live off of the past. Wenger at Arsenal showed that. But at least Wenger’s sides got you off your seat now and again. This is dirt to watch. Dirt! We can’t just let the captain of the ship sail the club towards an iceberg and say aye aye captain. Full steam ahead! That’s not loyalty. Loyalty is to the club, and if someone is hurting it, they need calling out. This is Manchester United. Being competitive and playing an attractive style of football should not be mutually exclusive.
As for the United ‘fans’ taking selfies with a Spurs player who just walked off the pitch having inflicted run around us like traffic cones, at your own ground? I’ll leave it at, you should be f**king ashamed of yourselves!!! Because if I say anymore I won’t stop. Good luck to Spurs. United will continue to disappoint under Mourinho. That’s not a maybe. Next time it happens, and it WILL happen. Please don’t applaud the team or the manager off the pitch because they ran around a bit. Remember the standards that this club had not very long ago (but at the same time very..very long ago) have some respect for your club. And for yourselves too, selfie boys. Your behaviour reflects on all of us.
The club needs sorting from top to bottom. Step back Woodward, get a football man in. Swallow your pride for the good of the club. It’s been missing since David Gill left. Get a head coach in who is progressive and contemporary and passionate. Get the standards back. What happens on the pitch matters here.
Great as Kane is, I’d have Pochettino at United all day over him. To try to get those standards back. Never thought id be envious of Spurs.. Christ, how did it come to this! (with all due respect)
Jose only part of the problem
The manager at United might be wrong (he is, and was never the right manager), but Mourinho is very definitely a symptom of United’s problems, rather than the root cause.
This has been coming since the Glazers’ purchased the club in 2005, and every United fan who suggested they should be given a chance, or who happily applauded the later Fergie years while ignoring the PUK loans, negligible transfer spend (United replaced Ronaldo with Owen, Valencia and Obertan in a summer when Robben was available) and sustained underinvestment in the stadium and club, has no cause to complain.
The Glazers need United to regularly finish in the top 4 to make their ownership worthwhile, and the club have spent hundreds of millions to ensure that. But that’s it. Provided United can be sold to commercial partners and broadcasters as part of the European elite, there’s no need for them to actually win anything.
Embarrassing from Mourinho…
For all that’s been said about how Mourinho can’t coach players, can’t keep a club happy, etc. etc. – the thing that stays in my mind after last night was how after he stormed/was led out of the press conference shouting ‘RESPECT!’, the camera pans down to the journos present who are all looking at each other, rightfully pissing themselves laughing.
Would this be the gut reaction had any other PL manager done this? Can you even imagine another manager doing this? That it isn’t at all shocking and definitely absolutely hilarious shows just how crap a situation they’re in with him in charge. How any United fan can stick up for him is beyond me. I’d be absolutely gutted if he was in charge of my club.
Michael, a Scouser in Bucharest
The Jose Paradox
He demands respect but offers none to anyone around him.
He demands loyalty but throws his players and staff under the bus at the first opportunity.
He demands signings but has made more than most of his peers, and certainly more than Poch.
He demands centre backs but has signed two and inherited Smalling and Jones.
He claims tactical superiority but played Herrera at right Centre-Back and then hooked him immediately after the goal.
As a non-United fan, I should be wanting this situation to continue, to get worse even; but I’m so bored and frustrated by the Mourinho show that I would be glad to have him leave now.
What price Mourinho manager of Wolves by start of 2019-20 season?
Dan. London. Bored of Jose. Make it stop.
Chelsea mad? They do okay…
Mr Neville is getting a tad emotional over the travails of Man Utd.
So much so that his judgment seems to deserting him. I’d like to remind him that the ‘Mad Club’ Chelsea as he calls it, has won more trophies in the last 14 years under Abramovich than Spurs, Liverpool and Arsenal combined.
If he wanted to describe a club as mad perhaps Mr Neville should have chosen Valencia as an better example given it appointed him as its manager!
Let’s talk about Spurs
A lot has already been said and written about Utd and Mourinho’s miserable start, so I will try to focus on Spurs performance yesterday.
It was a game of two astronomically distinct halves for Spurs. In the first half they were harried and pressed by a team who looked like they at-least wanted to respond to all the criticism and accusations thrown at them. Spurs first shot on target came in the 38th minute when Eriksen tamely shot straight at De Gea. By that time Rose had shown his rustiness, Alli his selfishness and Lukaku well he was simply being Lukaku.
But the tide started to turn somewhere around 49th minute mark when Dembele and Dier started to control the midfield and Eriksen was getting involved in the game. By the end of the first half both teams had given easy chances to the opposition but Spurs were clearly performing like the inferior one. Spurs had less possession, almost no shots on target (of any significance) and had not created enough openings.
But Mourinho likes to play percentages and this time it was United whose number was up. The one chance Kane properly got, he dispatched it in the corner (the only place where De Gea couldn’t reach). 133 seconds later a disastrous decision came to bite Mourinho back. Herrera playing the whole Stretford End onside which resulted in Moura dispatching the ball to make it 2-0. It was still not game over as United had shown in the past against City and Palace, but this is a team lacking in cohesion and under tremendous amount of pressure facing two of the league’s best center backs. This was not meant to be and when Lucas Moura scored the third it was well and truly open season for all the pundits.
Credit should also go to Pochettino as whatever he said in the half time had worked wonders within 10 minutes and the play was much more decisive, accurate and effective. He has made Spurs look like a team which believes in the method and style and has full confidence in his manager. Team with that kind of belief also tends to possess the self-awareness to correct its course of action when all is not going well.
Lucas Moura was excellent from start to finish and showed why he was rated by Pochettino. It took half a season but he is coming well. He looks humble and relieved to be playing and getting minutes on the pitch. Trippier had an average game (that header was entirely Kane’s making), Rose looked short of match fitness and Dier was simply okay. Dele Alli needs to sort out his decision making. I know full well that he is young but those absolute top players are at the top because they fared well in these kind of situations at exactly the same age as Alli. Being young is an excuse presented too often by the English media.
Pochettino’s away record at top six read 13 out of possible 60 points before this game but this would go a long way in cementing his reputation. It is one thing which he needs to rectify, then only they will be in the hunt for the top spot come April and May. Anyway, the title race seems a bit more interesting this time around. I would be hoping Man City would get the competition it deserves.
Abdul (Ginger DeBruyne, oh wouldn’t that be KDB himself)
Spurs weren’t even good
Disappointing to only see moaning united fans in the mailbox and no pieces on the impressiveness of spurs’ second half performance. If that had been Liverpool, we’d have been calling for them to be given the title now but I’m not too upset because we just won 3-0 at Old Trafford.
But maybe it’s because it wasn’t really a fantastic performance. Nowhere near the heights we’ve seen over the past couple seasons and perhaps that’s the most damning thing for united. Aside from Lucas, no-one was brilliant in that game and yet found a way to win by such a margin.
But now we have to worry about proper opponents in the form of Watford…
Why would Poch leave for United?
The continued theme of Pochettino to United inevitably reared its head again last night.
I can understand the reason behind it; he’s a fantastic coach, young and progressive in his thinking. The players at Spurs love him – even the likes of Rose have to have the utmost respect for him bearing in mind the player he was pre-Pochettino. United are a huge club, top three in the world. It’s a coming together that the press and United fans are tightly squeezing their genitals and hoping from foot to foot, over.
However the frequent refrain that Pochettino ‘deserves this stage’ is one that raises my eyebrow. Are Tottenham, this Tottenham, with Europe’s best training facility (there is a reason the like of England and Brazil don’t use Arsenal’s anymore), a third consecutive CL campaign, a squad filled with outrageous talent, and a matter of weeks from moving into one of the world’s most impressive stadiums, such a lowly club?
If this was Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, a club who have made incredible steps in the past decade but who have a ceiling that stretches beyond the foreseeable future, and by that I mean the facilities, the fan base and the stature which is incomparable to Spurs, I would say that it makes sense but we’re not. Bournemouth, again, as much as I admire both Howe and the club, are a long way off competing in the CL, having a 62000 seat stadium, or having the infrastructure that Spurs do.
I’ll add that I only chose Bournemouth due to the fact that Howe had previously been linked to Arsenal and Everton, and isn’t meant as arrogance.
Perhaps the reason Pochettino is happy at Spurs, despite the constant media speculation, is that he is being given the time and capacity to achieve something he simply won’t get at Old Trafford. Perhaps he prefers coaching a happier, better squad of players, each of whom are converts to his way of coaching.
Maybe United aren’t the draw they once were, or maybe Spurs are the draw they once weren’t.
Newcastle feel pointless
Having read the various sides of the Newcastle tactics debate being put into the mailbox in the past couple days, I thought I’d add my own to mix up the Mourinho out mails…
I have no problem with teams playing on the counter-attack, or even defending in numbers against superior teams. As one mailer said, Leicester did this to win the title. The difference though is springing attacks. Newcastle against Chelsea just lumped it up at an isolated striker and hoped for the best. I felt sorry for Rondon on his first home start.
But the most annoying thing is the lack of intensity in any of the play. We don’t press at all, we don’t harass players, we just drop deep and hope they can’t pass through us. Are the players not fit enough or do they just want to sit deep?
The problem with this approach is that the opposition has the ball around the edge of the box a lot. This creates the chance for luck to go against you, dodgy penalty calls, own goals, screamers, you name it. If you defend higher you cut out those options. Notable in one of the early episodes of the Man City documentary that Pep highlights that his full backs playing high means the opposition playmaker/winger is back in his own half, where he’s not a threat… Newcastle allow teams to be a threat.
And it’s not just against the big teams we play like this. Anyone who watched the Cardiff game (where we are better than them on paper) can see we just sit in and hope to score from set pieces and Jonjo Shelvey creating something from nothing.
I know Rafa’s got a dud hand and there aren’t many options. He’s done a great job off the field, united fans and trying his best to sort out some of the chronic underinvestment. But there is a feeling that his tactics are outdated and when he leaves next summer it may not be the death knell that some are suggesting. We might stay up this season but 10th is the ceiling (and we somehow did that last season with a late run, by playing on the front foot!)
I want my team to play to win, and the performance on Sunday made me really sad to watch. When we were forced to attack we scored, so why not try that more?
Remembering Hull 08/09
I read the five flying starts article headline with much glee, but upon reading the article was disappointed to find you hadn’t included my beloved Hull, and our first ever season in the Premier League.
(That would be because you didn’t win your first three games – Ed)
Having been a club for 104 years, and having been touted frequently as ‘the biggest city in Europe never to have top flight football’, one fine sunny day at Wembley, May 2008, following that volley from hometown hero Dean Windass, we finally made it.
The summer was an amazing one – I was doing a temp job for the NHS, and basically spent 40 hours a week pressing F5 on about five different sites, waiting for transfers to be announced.
August finally rolled around, and then it was real. Home to Fulham. The sun out, the stadium full, the dream lived. 8 minutes in, 1-0 to Fulham. Oh no, here we go. But then, on 22 minutes, step forward Geovanni. He received the ball in midfield, stepped in to far too much space, and proceeded to smash the ball in from about 25 yards. Game on.
In fact, nothing really happened until the 80th minute, when a howler from the Fulham keeper allowed Caleb Folan to roll the ball in to an empty net. The crowd went wild. We held on til the final whistle, and the place exploded. Lowly Hull City, winning a game in the Premier League. Lowly Hull City, who I spent years watching flail in the 3rd division, now sitting with a 100% record in the top flight. It was incredible.
The next home game brought us back down to earth – we lost 5-0 at to Wigan.
But following that, it all went a bit mad. We won five and drew 1 of our next 6 games – including wins at the Emirates and White Hart Lane. Both games including Geovanni screamers.
Nine games in to the season, and we were third in the table. It was magical. It was incredible. It wasn’t to last.
We only won two of our remaining 29 league games (it was a long season!) And survived by the skin of our teeth, thanks to a Damien Duff own goal condemning Newcastle to 18th place.
We lost 1-0 at home to Man Utd’s reserve team. Phil Brown grabbed the microphone and was singing on the pitch. It was a very surreal day, but we survived.
It’s been up and down since – FA Cup final, Europa League qualifiers, the Allams. But for one short stint, we were third in the Premier League table.
Rob, Allam Out, Leeds