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The United Way (yeah I know, sorry)
In response to John Nic’s article about The United Way – I can’t speak for other teams, but Man United absolutely do have a “way” and I’m a bit sick of people claiming not to recognise this. Playing attacking football, bringing through youth prospects and giving them a chance to breathe, playing for the glory of the game, taking a chance on flair and inspiration, working your balls off and not boring the other team to death. Attack attack attack.
It’s nothing to do with ferguson. The “way” was set by Busby back in the day and has been the template/ethos for what united fans aspire to see from their team. Fergie just brought it back.
It’s not about formations, or even results – there are many different ways to skin a cat, and the game is ever-evolving, but there should be a general spirit in which the game is played. Dave Sexton was fired for being boring even though the team were reasonably successful – we don’t want to see dull defensive football ever. It may be fine for other teams but it feels dirty when we do it.
Van Gaal played sideways all the time and never took a risk? Out. Mourinho had us sat in our own half, scared of our own shadows and playing counter-attack football against Sevilla? Out.
But some of Fergie’s teams were boring and defensive, I hear you say? Yes they were, and many united fans hated him doing it – that semi-final against barcelona had loads of fans up in arms for the shockingly defensive approach, despite the result. When united played 4-5-1 Queiroz ball, whole sections of the crowd shouted 442 and attack attack attack.
Personally I was pleased to finally bring an end to the Fergie era – I loved the man, flaws and all, but the team ground their way to that last league title, had been grinding it out for a while and I was looking forward to see what someone else would be able to do with them. Careful what you wish for etc.
So I’ll take any manager that knows what he’s doing and I long for innovation, as long as the manager’s prepared to have us play attacking football, bring kids through and give us something to get excited about.
Dan Wardle (MUFC since 83)
Ole up, not out
Granted his time has been limited but, in that time, Ole has shown transfer market nous, a strict adherence to making decisions that are good for the long term but will cause short term issues (I’m all for clearing Sanchez and lukaku without replacements on these grounds), good tendencies to bring lads through the academy and strong desire to stick to the principles of the club. Counter-balanced against those qualities are some terrible tactical decisions. All of this suggests to me that he would be perfect for the director of football role. Push him to that posting and appoint a quality manager. Everyone wins – a Manchester United legend stays in the club and is thanked for his service, fans have their director of football and some comfort of a football person that “gets it” and a world class manager is appointed who still has to work within the Ole managed framework.
Kevin de Bruyne
Have to take a little bit of umbrage with Dave saying that if De Bruyne didn’t set up so many goals he wouldn’t be any good, and loads of other players can setup goals by being able to play incredibly accurate, weighted passes.
It’s a bit chicken and egg, but if there were so many other players capable of doing it, then they would be doing it. He’s consistently top of the assists and key passes charts for City so it’s not just that he’s playing with other good players otherwise Silva, Sane, Silva, etc. would be just as prosperous.
Is he the best player in the world? Probably not.
Is he top five in the PL? Almost definitely.
The guy is good.
Strength of the Premier League
I saw you mention this in Winners & Losers, and have seen many mention it season after season, but can you give me an example when the league was a good league, and not a weak one? Every year someone says that the league is not a strong one, but give me some objectivity!
Nick in Woking
I think I did read Dave MUFC questioning if Liverpool have actually played well at all this season last Friday, then I just looked at the league table and smirked to myself like the slight weirdo I am and forgot about it.
But having seen someone feel the need to unnecessarily stress themselves out by shooting a few facts back at Dave, i’d probably just add that these things concerning standards are all relative. In comparison to their own standards over the last couple of seasons maybe LFC have only been so-so, par thus far. But in comparison to United’s? Well they’re like Brazil 19 f*ckin 70.
Penalty for foul on Chilwell?
I’m not a Leicester fan and ultimately don’t really care but I think it’s very harsh to say Chilwell dived yesterday. Surely you are allowed to get out of the way of someone about to boot you really hard in the leg.
Crystal Palace and Grantham Town
*Crystal Palace’s win on Saturday was their fourth consecutive victory over Burnley, with the Clarets last beating the Eagles during the Frank de Boer interregnum. This brought the sides level on points in midtable – incidentally Manchester United are ahead of them both on goal difference, making it three bang average sides on 18 points.
*A lot of the talk heading into the games mentioned Palace having taken only one point from the previous 15, but given they had played four of the best teams in the country (and drawn with the Arsenal), it was a bit of a false representation, just as how their results prior to that run had seen them elevated to the European places. Looking at the overall picture now and seeing the Eagles in 11th, I don’t think anyone finds that especially surprising.
*This felt like a proper, old-fashioned Palace win: a thinned squad of players putting their bodies on the line, scrapping for everything and working incredibly hard, albeit with a bit of riding luck at times. On the first point, Andros Townsend played through an injury and was seen applying an ice pack after he was substituted, and Scott Dann got hurt in the first half and carried on for about another half an hour – an incredibly brave move for a player whose last few seasons have been blighted by serious injuries. Though Vicente Guaita made some tremendous saves, Palace were fortunate to profit from Burnley’s terrible finishing – Chris Wood wasn’t the only one who had an off day but his dreadful shot on goal with Dann in a heap on the ground stood out among the profligacy.
*James McArthur had a great game. He epitomises the hard working style Roy Hodgson favours by contributing at both ends of the pitch. He can play through balls to start attacks but has positional discipline to help shield the defence, and on Saturday even found himself in the right place at the right time to make a goal line clearance.
*Having struggled to play his natural game within the rigid structure of Hodgson’s system, Wilfried Zaha followed his impressive performance against Liverpool with a stellar showing against Burnley. He and Patrick van Aanholt combined well down the left and made mincemeat of Ben Mee, usually a very reliable defender. Zaha opened the scoring, adding to last week’s goal and continuing add quantitative data in support of the hard work he has been doing drawing defenders away from others.
*Matt Woosnam wrote for the Athletic that this is the time for the Eagles to kickstart their season if they’ve any genuine ambition of reaching the European places. Having previously been in a position where they had a run of five fixtures against the only five teams above them in the table, their next seven games are all against teams below them in the table, starting with the game against Bournemouth tomorrow night. Still, if there’s ever going to be a time when Crystal Palace will go on a run of defeats, it’s when they’ve got a run of games they’ve a realistic chance of winning.
*The freezing fog enveloping my home town stopped me from going to Grantham on Saturday, though the game started as scheduled. However, it was abandoned after an hour; as the hosts were losing 2-1 and down to ten men, they were perhaps fortunate that the game was called off for poor visibility. That was the seventh home game in the 145-year history of Grantham Town to be abandoned part-way through, simultaneously managing to seem like not very many and quite a lot.
Euro 2020 draw
The draw for Euro 2020 was held on Saturday, although it wasn’t much of a draw as so much of it was pre-ordained, “gerrymandered”, if you will, owing to this pan-European cities nonsense from Michel Platini, as well as the (Let’s protect the Elite) Nations League. International tournaments have become so bloated that they’re actually running out of countries that can host them! I don’t envy being a travelling fan, finishing third in a group, then having to wait for other groups to finish, before arranging a last gasp trip from somewhere in Ruritania to Glasgow or London. Platini is currently banned from football for ethics violation and the minute that was decided, anything dreamed up by him should have been thrown out along with him.
Hat-trick scoring defenders
I don’t mean to be a pedant (except I kind of do) and correct you, but as one of the most obscure facts I know, I feel I must.
The most recent top flight hat trick scored by a defender was in 2003 not 1986 (as mentioned in winners and losers). It was also on Merseyside but by Steve Watson for the blue side.
Small mercies for the toffees.
A Hertfordshire XI. A mixture of brute force, calamity and injuries. Vincent isn’t a Centre Back but seemingly noone else from Hertfordshire is either.
GK – David James
RB – Dean Austin
CB – Gareth Southgate
CB – Vinnie Jones
LB – Kenny Jackett
CM – Tim Sherwood
CM – Harry Winks
CM – Jack Wilshere
LW – Ashley Young
RW – Adam Lallana
ST – Iain Dowie
Shout outs to Luther Blisset, Ian Walker, Paul Robinson (the other one) and Chris Eagles who are unlucky to miss out.
Sorry to piss on Dave, Caterham’s chips
But he can’t have Luke Shaw or Declan Rice in his Surrey 11 because Kingston Upon Thames isn’t in Surrey.
Sorry for being a pedant and turning this into countyboundaries365.