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Man United no longer tastes nice
The only one, in this morning’s mailbox makes some points about Mourinho feeling aggrieved. What does he have to feel aggrieved about because people put pressure on him? I don’t know if you have watched many of his press conferences but he invites this pressure, it’s what he used to become so successful in his first stint at Chelsea.
He is criticized much more than others because as Manchester United manager, who has spent £350m on new players to build his team the teams below him are performing above expectations. Liverpool have pushed on from their CL final defeat. United didn’t get by the last 16. We finished higher in the league but what if Liverpool had got Van Dijk before Christmas last year. I’m not so sure. We out performed Chelsea and Arsenal but they clearly had issues between management and players. United swaggered into the league taking teams apart for fun but then faced Liverpool and decided to play ultra-defensive when we should have been taking advantage. This was a turning point last season.
Maybe the signings made aren’t all his players but it seems like if he had his way our average squad age would be 29. The signing you used to prove the point about Sanchez falls a bit flat, Falcao was a loan deal for one thing so little risk for a one of Europe’s top strikers in recent times, then you have World Cup and Champion league Winner Bastian Schweinsteiger who we signed for relative pittance especially compared to today’s market and Angel Di Maria who was coming off a man of the match performance in the Champions League final, I don’t think any United fans were complaining after these signings at the time however they didn’t work out due to a combination of the team management and the players themselves. Sanchez was brought into a team when Martial was hitting his best run of form (3 goals and 2 assists in 4 games) Martial went on to record one more assist after January. Whose decision was it to crowbar Sanchez into the team at the expense on an attack that was starting to gel? Well that is the person who deserves criticism but I’m sure we would have won the league if we had bought Perisic.
Now I accept each manager will have their own style but the manager should also buy into the club’s ethos and he hasn’t done that, preferring to moan and whine and criticise. The manager should protect his players and help them develop. He hasn’t done this and it infuriates fans when he acts out like that acting as if he is the only one to be missing players due to WC/injuries etc. that nobody’s problems are bigger than his, this stinks of him getting his excuses ready before the season starts. It is a trademark Mourinho move. Set expectations low, get the excuses in early if we have a great season look how I overcame all of these problems. If we have a shocker well you can already see. I said in pre-season the conditions were far from ideal. The man looks out for number one and number one only it creates unrest in the squad, I don’t think even Roy Keane can list 22 players he fell out with.
This season we can more or less play a full team of outfield players signed by Mourinho – Dalot, Bailly, Lindelof, Pogba, Matic, Fred, Sanchez, Lukaku. So how on earth can he moan about the options he has? What gives him that right? However what I see from those signings is that he has failed to address two positions we have had issue with since Fergie’s retirement – LB and RW – yet we have constant rumours of signing CBs, CMs, LWs and STs with the only RW we have really been linked with is a soon to be 30 year old Willian for £60m+ this looks like a short-term manager preparing for a short-term success. Are you beginning to see why he is criticised?
If you buy Pepsi every day and you enjoy it no you should not complain about the colour of their brand that would be extremely petty, but if they completely change the recipe and it tastes different and you no longer enjoy it you aren’t going to keep buying it. That doesn’t happen with football because the affinity is with the club not the manager.
I wouldn’t say he is doing a bad job – he has helped United improve their fortunes and we have tasted success – but that is being horribly diluted by this tasteless Pepsi he is producing for some reason we continue to buy while Mourinho pisses in the vat.
Sorry for the rant but at this stage I just cannot defend that man, now cue him going on to smash the league and make my post look foolish.
Dan, Belfast (seriously I hope he proves me wrong but I can’t look past the same old same old for Mou now)
What is wrong with Joseball
Let me just start with a line from Sudarsan Ravi’s post – ‘Martial blames Jose for him missing the World Cup. But Martial truly did not excel either’. I’m sorry, my man, but that’s factually inaccurate. Martial won the MUFC player of the month award in September, October and January. Jose then brought in Alexis and it all went up downhill from there. Do not try to obfuscate the facts. That’s a classic Jose trick! He’s successfully managed to get people to believe that Martial is a poor player and that he had nothing to do with his slump in form.
I’m happy that a lot of United fans have woken up to the reality of Jose’s tenure. I’m not even bothered by his demeanour and all that. We care about the football and what he does with it. The one thing that grates is how he constantly tries to put down the quality of the team when another progressive manager would have done damage with the same team. How do you have the attacking quality United have and goals/chances are hard to come by? How on earth do you have Bailly but start with Jones and Smalling in an FA Cup final? It’s beyond comprehension.
Jose’s biggest issue, in my opinion, is that he sees the game in the most archaic of ways. He sees the team, not as one, but as attackers and defenders. This is why the attack is disjointed and chance creation is limited. This is also why De Gea faces an absurd number of shots. Sevilla, anyone? When we attack, the defenders sit back, the full backs do not overlap, there are no runs from midfield and the box is not overloaded. The result is that our cross-and-nod game does not even work. I remember a Sevilla player saying that Man United score goals “by accident”. Ouch! Jose simply does not know how to organise attacking systems. This is also why Jose loves experienced players. This is why he went for Sanchez and now he is chasing Willian. He loves players that can think for themselves on the pitch and organise attacks with limited input from the manager. Other elite teams score as a result of choreographed moves and routines. You saw Sterling and Salah score the same kind of goal a few times last year. United just shift the ball around until the “accident” occurs. Too much space between players when United attack. No compactness or compression which leads to slow and predictable build-ups as the ball has to travel long distances. The player on the ball has limited options and then the back pass or the forward punt are the most attractive options. It’s not even rocket science. It’s just painfully obvious.
Defensively, we don’t press the ball. This passive defending means that our opponents are able to get shots off as we only wait to get the ball when they lose it, instead of actively hunting it down. It’s no surprise that we fail to create chances and De Gea’s xG stats are high. Oh and we score very few set pieces for such a tall team! Compare all this with Man City and Liverpool and then you realise how outmoded United are.
I was optimistic about the Faria/Carrick thing until I heard Jose speak about teaching Carrick and have him “adapt” to his style. Jose’s ego won’t even allow him learn from someone else. He has refused to adapt his football and man-management to the times. Let’s be honest with ourselves…it’s probably not going to change. Jose knows this and is getting his excuses in early. All this said, I’d be glad to be proven wrong 😉
Chuck (Apathy describes the mood)
Fans do have right to style
The Only One in this Morning’s mailbox makes two points that I think can be refuted. Firstly, United did relatively well when compared to City because City has such an amazing season. If finishing 19 points behind the leaders, losing a winnable Champions League tie and losing the FA Cup final, constitutes doing well for a club like United, then yeah, sure, they did well. They also scored less league goals than all of the top six except Chelsea which leads nicely into the second point.
In relation to the style of football Mourinho employs he says if ‘you like and buy Pepsi all the time, it doesn’t give you the right to moan why the brand colour is blue.’ Well, to continue with that analogy, fans are buying the Pepsi but they are not enjoying it. There was an article way back on F365 from can’t remember who, but the gist was fans don’t have a right to demand a certain style. I wrote in then to say, and I’ll repeat it now, that this is absolutely false. To take it to the extreme, no fans means no sponsors means no money means no club. So I would say fans have every right to demand to be entertained when they pay hard earned cash to watch the side.
Do the players have some responsibility too? 100%. But it is literally Mourinho’s job to make them a team that plays well and by well I mean exciting and entertaining but, it’s just not in the man’s nature. Even his first Chelsea side was functional, but they had Drogba and Essien in full on beast mode and Frank Lampard scoring almost every week. United are – sorry, were – used to winning in style. Can’t blame them for wanting that back.
Jose is no longer an asset
Valiant attempts from Utd fans to defend Sir Jose. Doesn’t wash with me, I’m afraid.
His treatment of players, fans and media is well documented but ultimately it is unacceptable. I appreciate he’s an easy target for the media but it genuinely staggers me that the hierarchy at Utd haven’t intervened. Win at all costs? Short term, maybe. No chance United will tolerate his attitude long term.
He has had success and there’s no doubt that he’s a good coach but I genuinely believe the Premier League would be a better place without him. And unless he bucks his ideas up I suspect that will be sooner rather than later.
Mourinho is forever Chelsea
All this talk about Mourinho and whether or not he’s good for United is so odd to me. I have to remind myself that he’s the manager for United literally every time I see any report or article about him. I only ever see him as a Chelsea manager.
I’m not writing this to antagonise anyone, it may be due to my underlying dyslexia, but I genuinely feel this way. I get this about other managers and some players too. Mark Hughes was managing Stoke for a bit. Is that right? Crazy.
I wonder if anyone else has this? Just me? Ok then.
Liverpool fans have PTSD
Tickner’s analysis is technically correct: there is no reason (bar an extreme injury crisis) that Liverpool can’t win the league. They have the players, they have the manager, the have the positive “atmosphere” around the club and the confidence within it from their performances against 100-points City. But please pardon us fans for being overly cautious.
It’s not the gags from other club’s supporters over the “Our Year” meme. It is trauma. Repeated trauma.
The EL Final, the CL Final, the Slip, the Inzaghi final, Federico bloody Macheda, Serio f***ing Ramos, Jose Mourinho and Demba Ba. It’s been a lot of emotions to go through. So much so that if anyone sings “Now You’re Gonna Believe Us” before we have all but won it mathematically they’ll probably get their wig split.
Many of us will be quietly singing “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” until the numbers add up. Then we’ll get the calculator out and double-check.
Some rare Hammers optimism
I’d like to talk about West Ham United a minute, if you’d indulge me Mailbox.
Immediately after the club’s signing of Jordan Hugill; for a litany of mystifying reasons best answered with, “because David Sullivan” and toward the home stretch of last season I made a vow to my fellow hammers supporting friend not to bother with any transfer gossip regarding my side as it was all poppycock, nonsense and chicken-feed. Clearly the club weren’t signing anybody they were linked with and instead sold Andre Ayew back to Swansea (and for all intents and purposes not even for a profit) despite us being relatively light in that area of the park – this being the silly season for injuries under Moyes last year. Effectively, I felt that things were never going to change and I would only sit up and take notice when I saw a player in one of those awful posed-photo situations. (You know the ones; contract signing with the pen in hand but looking to the camera, in the “terraces” scarf above head, on the pitch holding their shirt with their name on. etc.)
However, bit but intriguing bit, I returned to the front of the crowds. To gawp at the new men, to allow myself to be wrapped up in the hearsay and dare I say it; allowed myself to be excited once again. Things were, at least on appearance, changing. The club appointed a new manager, a winner, with him he brought his trusted lieutenant as a Director Of Football – something more rational fans have been crowing for what feels like forever. This smacked of direction, vision even, of a plan – something that had been sorely lacking down our way, at the boardroom level.
Then the signings arrived, which were not just marquee names to Sullivan; people he and Gold had heard of once – perhaps on the fleeting Epping night air. These were actual players in problem areas of the team. Two centre halves of good experience (where that word has not become a euphemism for washed-up) one who has captained his side since 18 and remains a young talent.
Two bonafide creative types to compliment the diamonds in the rough we already had last season and cover for the crocked Manuel Lanzini.
So far none of this has felt like the West Ham of the last ten years. Our team had become a joke and a bit of a pariah, frankly, even as a fan you got why. Many of us I know (admittedly amongst myself and friends – I certainly can’t speak for great swathes of the fanbase) were even a little ashamed at times of our club. Of course all the wheels could come off in glorious disaster for schadenfreude loving neutrals and detractors but it feels like finally, just bloody finally we might be heading the right direction in earnest and I can’t tell you how good that feels.
Rob, Colchester (Not sure the yellow socks were the right pick for the blue away kit, mind.)
Excited about the UEFA Nations League
Bizarre as this may sound but I am getting really excited about the UEFA Nations League…
…I am assuming most people will have skipped over to the next letter (message?) but for those of you still here, these are the reasons why;
1. The matches are organised in the September, October and November international breaks. The September international break in particular is usually derided as unwanted given that the Premier League has just got started. Instead of friendlies in there, the first round of the Nations League will take place – much more interesting;
2. For those of you not gripped by the draw, England are in with Spain and Croatia. Their first match is home to Spain and the second away to the team which beat them in the semi-finals of the World Cup… what’s not to like?;
3. The format of the competition means that one of England, Spain or Croatia will go forward to the finals tournament in June and one will be relegated… talk about your knife edge;
4. Germany, France and Holland are in the same group… again one will be in the finals and one will be relegated;
5. Wales are in with Republic of Ireland and Denmark in a tasty looking group in League B (one will be promoted and one relegated);
6. The format means ‘lesser’ nations will be able to play actual football rather than putting 10 behind the ball and trying to avoid a shellacking. For example, League D Group 3 is Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Malta and Kosovo. Now, I ain’t no hipster but if that don’t get your juices flowing you ain’t no friend of mine! Hell, even Scotland (in with Albania and Israel) might have something to look forward to;
7. The Nations League also means that the qualifiers for Euro 2020 are condensed into March 2019 to September 2019 (with the playoffs in March 2020). This, again, means that meaningless friendlies will be at an absolute minimum. The FIFA rankings for European Nations will also be more accurate as the ability to game the system will be dramatically reduced.
I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to this. What a contrast to crappy friendlies…
Micki (shame, as I have just retired from international football as well) Attridge
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