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Man Utd are the new Liverpool
One of the main saving graces with Ole has been that United under Ole has been at least fun to watch. But this performance was worse than under Mourinho. The players looked sloppy, flustered, out of depth and devoid of ideas on how to break down the defence.
At the end of the day, it all came down to Ole and highlighted many of Ole’s weaknesses which make him unfit for a club that hopes to be competing for titles. The in game management was poor. Cavani and Fernandes close to each other was not working, while Rashford and Pogba were poor throughout. Yet Ole did not do anything to address these issues by changing formations or making timely substitutes. But most of all was the failure to substitute De Gea before penalties. If I’m not mistaken, De Gea has not saved a penalty in almost half a decade. The moment Ole decided to not make this substitute, he handed the match over to Villareal. And it was all too predictable and easy to fix. On this decision alone he should be fired.
The few chances that United did come up with came through the individual brilliance of Cavani. The long balls and crosses for the most part were poor and at no time did one see any sense of tactics or practised runs to get past the defenders. Martial and Rashford have both gone backwards this season and no help seems coming from the manager. Greenwood has shown raw potential but again, is there a coaching team to help him make the step up like Foden for example over at City?
United’s defence was a disaster. Whereas Villareal barely gave United a look throughout the match, United’s defence looked vulnerable from the get go. A better team would surely have punished them thoroughly as did Roma in the second leg of the semi final. Even with Maguire, the defense has been leaky, without him, it is a catastrophe. Most damning of all is United’s utter inability to defend from set pieces which has cost them time and again this season. The manager must share, if not take the whole blame, for a failing of even the basics.
Not to say that there hasn’t been progress under Ole. He has gotten rid of the deadwood and the recruitment has been much better than past years. However, a) recruitment is not what he was hired for (a DOF should be overseeing that and b) he does not seem capable of helping the club take the next step to title winners.
Manuel Pelligrini won the title with City but that did not stop him from being replaced by Pep. That is the type of tough decisions clubs with ambition must take. You need to have the best and decent or good enough will not do. Chelsea has done it time and again, not sying away from firing managers at the first sign of underperformance. You will see this in their recruitment strategy too. Identify the best and get them the moment they become available. So too have Real Madrid, Barcelona and other elite clubs. Ole is not Ferguson and if United truly have title ambitions they need a new manager. This decision should have been taken much earlier, specifically when Pochettino became available. It is only Woodward’s ineptness that has kept Ole in the job so far.
On to the squad. There are still some glaring weaknesses in the squad. 3 positions that simply need to be fixed this year. First, a top center back. Varane or Jules Kounde would be an ideal fit. Liverpool seem to have already secured Konate and Pau Torres while a very good defender, is still learning and does not have the commanding presence that is needed to make this United defence more stable.
Not sure who they can get as a central midfielder. There remains a paucity of options. Declan Rice remains the most touted name but I remain unconvinced of him. As for the third, Sancho for right wing would be a great addition with a plan to get Haaland next year.
In summary, United should be competing for the title next year. But for that, Ole must go and recruitment must be sound. Without it, there’s no difference between this United and the Liverpool of yore, each dreaming that next year will be theirs but always falling far short.
Does OGS have a playing system?
I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable to make comparisons between OGS’s progress and Klopp’s first two and a half seasons and say Ole deserves a crack at taking United to the next level, as Nitz did in this morning’s mailbox. But the key difference is that it was clearly evident that Klopp could make the squad more than just the sum of its parts. I don’t see any evidence of that from OGS and his staff (but it would be interesting to hear from closer United-watchers who disagree).
Klopp made progress in those years by creating a good team spirit, introducing a consistent style of play that was hard to play against and improving a weak squad incrementally, with good – but not superstar – signings (Sane, Wijnaldum, Matip). These were the foundations to allow the leap to the next level when the big-money transfers for real difference-makers were eventually added – VVD, Alisson and Fabinho (and Salah, but I’m not sure everyone thought that at the time). OGS seems to have made progress by bringing some unity to an already decent squad (fair enough, not to be sniffed at) but also by (already) making the big-money, difference making signings of sought-after players in his first two years (Maguire, AWB, Fernandes). I don’t see much evidence that he has a system that makes the team better than just the individual quality in the squad. Even if he buys another centre back and upgrades Fred, will they become a 90-95 point team and good enough to be in the last eight of the CL on more than a one-off basis?
Alex, I was with you up until you likened Ole to Klopp. Those were mostly good points but the thing about Utd is that there isn’t really a distinctive style of play. Unless you count being really uninspired and then suddenly an individual doing something great as a style. I also think this season has been something of an anomaly in that Utd have been able to come back a lot after being behind and – much like when a superhuman season from De Gea made a large contribution to Mourinho’s Utd finishing in 2nd place – I don’t think it’s sustainable.
I’m #OleIn because I don’t think he’s the manager to beat Man City to the league title. If Utd fans are happy with a contented squad, the odd final and battling for second or third place every season then he’s the man for the job.
Even if you’re Ole’s biggest fan, surely next season is all or nothing isn’t it? Because after losing a final and finishing second in the league, only winning a trophy and mounting a respectable title challenge can be considered progress.
Miserable Man Utd
It’s been a while since I wrote in/got published on United, but last night’s miserable showing has compelled me to vent. Sorry in advance.
For the record, I have been #OleOut all season. I don’t think he is the man to take this club forward, at least no further forward than he has so far. He is tactically inept and seemingly refuses to learn from his mistakes: we have to be the worst in the top European leagues at defending set pieces; the only thing that spared us from a McFred midfield was Fred not being fully fit; he needlessly burns out players who are key to how he wants to play, ignoring expensive alternatives who are desperate for games; and despite what his reputation is, he really does not trust the youth he’s lauded for championing. I just don’t see any evidence at all to make a case for his continued management of the club.
There are basically three ways of winning: you are disciplined, work hard, and grind out results, even though it may not be pretty; you play expansive, high-risk football that might result in losses but will be great to watch; or, the eutopia, a blend of the two, where you play expansive football but show the discipline to see out results. If you’re winning trophies, fans will generally forgive the style for a while (Mourinho). If you’re playing brilliant attacking football, fans will generally forgive a lack of trophies for a while (Klopp, pre-last season), and if you’re doing both then your fans are delighted and you’re Manchester City. Right now, United are managing to find a way to combine the worst attributes of the first two: not working hard or grinding our results, and not playing expansive high-risk football, and – worst of all – not winning trophies. I cannot remember the last game in which we played well for the whole 90 minutes – the best we can do is a good 45, usually after we’ve gone behind.
For me, the most damning indictment of Solskjaer’s reign is “his” team. Last night, only four of the starters were signed or debuted by Solskjaer: Wan-Bissaka, Bruno, Cavani and Greenwood. In fact, the starting 11 was mostly made up of players signed or debuted by other managers: Ferguson x1, Mourinho x4, and van Gaal x2. Yet during his tenure, Solskjaer has signed ten players (Maguire, James, Wan-Bissaka, Fernandes, Ighalo, Van De Beek, Telles, Cavani, Pellistri and Diallo), and gave debuts to two of those on the bench (Henderson, Williams). Granted, Maguire was unfit to play but there was around £180m of Solskjaer signings on the bench, and who only featured for a maximum of 5 minutes. So why exactly should anyone buy into the suggestion that we’re two or three players away from a title push, when most of his previous signings don’t get a game?
The problem is that, despite £279m of signings (according to Transfermarkt.co.uk), only four of those 10 are good enough to start when it matters. The use of, or rather lack thereof, van de Beek has been baffling. The decision to spend upto £35m on a kid with less than 5 senior appearances to his name, in a position that hasn’t been properly strengthened since Ronaldo left, and then to barely play him is infuriating. To gain a reputation for championing youth and then ignore it repeatedly until your hand is forced by injury (Henderson, Williams, Tuanzebe, previously Gomes) is ridiculous.
After the crap churned out last night, I would rather the team that faced Wolves played instead. At least there was something enjoyable about the way the younger and squad players performed in that game – and they even bloody won the game! The main change that needs to happen this summer is Ole being replaced by an actual football manager. But, like F365 says, it won’t happen. Next year will be more of the same: dropped points to relegation candidates, dropped points to top four “rivals”, an ignominious exit from at least the CL, and nothing like a title push. I would also not be surprised in the slightest to see us sign basically nobody (except apparently Heaton on a free) prior to the Euros, if we even sign anyone else at all. What a time to be a United fan.
Man Utd and the managerial problem
Here’s my two pence the morning after the night before.
You can truthfully spin this any way you want. Depending on your how much you like OGS.
- Ole Lost the final over a GK missing a kick. OGS In
- Ole didn’t change the game after the goal or extra time. OGS Out
- Ole didn’t have the depth. OGS In
- Ole relies on individuals rather (I think all teams do personally, look at Liverpool this year, Real Madrid previous years. Its a team game, but some individuals take you over the top, after all isn’t that why they are “superstars”.) True. OGS Out
- Ole is dealing with a backlog of a horrid transfer policy for which we are still feeling today. OGS In.
- OGS tactics were dodgy and emery got it right (also not true but emery won so say lets say yes for the argument). OGS Out
Orrrrr … you can sum this up one way. The problem with spoiled united fans is winning and the acceptance that really and truly until the money dries up/doesn’t come in as much as it used to (without Covid being a reason) nothing is going to change. Doesn’t matter how diabolical the performance is, or how good it is. I read in this morning’s mailbox coming in pro Mourinho? that one baffled me. Truth be told Man Utd are okay. Been playing for champions league football rather than the league, Europa league and cups over the champions league. Fan’s outrage is fine, part of the game and what makes it wonderful. But chill out. You’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary anguish when you realise you care more than the people at the club do lol. Hold the L also.
So after the final and the morning mailbox I have decided to chirp in with my review of the whole thing.
Starting with the build-up. I think OGS showed a fair bit of arrogance and disrespect to the EL, talking about using it as a springboard to bigger and better things. It came across as if he thought he and United were too good for the EL, but while they were there they may as well win it because why not. Yet go to Emery’s interview and you see this final was everything to him and Villareal, and in both cases this translated onto the pitch in my opinion, with Villareal just wanting it more.
Now onto the game. I think Emery outsmarted OGS in his game plan, he knew United had the better players, he knew their strengths and weaknesses, so from the offset it appeared that their game plan was to even the tie as much as possible, hence getting to penalties when it is 50/50. OGS meanwhile, seemed very reactive to the situation and unable to change the tie, which is noted by his not using any substitutions. Now, some have pointed to the bench and said what could he possibly use? But for me, there was easily over £100m of talent sitting on that bench, which cost more than the entire squad of Villareal (credit morning mailboxer), so to say what could he do either points to terrible recruitment, or an inability of OGS to make better use of those players and integrate them better into the squad (a combination of both most likely).
Onto United’s setup. I was surprised to see that Rashford was shoehorned into the team, with Pogba dropping back into one of the holding 2 despite playing better recently on that left side. In essence, OGS’ plan was get as many attacking players on the pitch as possible to challenge their defence. Funnily enough in doing so meant there was absolutely no realistic way to change the attacking lineup from the bench when things needed freshing up, think of the damage Greenwood could have done coming off the bench on the 70th min against a tiring Villareal backline. Instead all the attacking players were exhausted by that point too. For me, this is a lack of tactical consideration and foresight on OGS’ part.
In essence, people talk about United came really close to winning this tie but for a penalty (and what a great shootout that was by the way!), but in reality it should have been dead and buried before 90 minutes ended, and a more tactically astute manager would have made it so.
Now in response to some morning contributors:
- Man United have the best penalty takers around? Bit of an odd claim to make literally the day after you lose a penalty shootout.
- Complaints about the Mourinho-style approach of Villareal? You seem to be under the guise that this was a game between two equals. That united squad cost close to £400m, whereas Villareal’s cost £100m. This was not a game between equals, so Villareal did exactly what they had to to give themselves the best chance of winning.
- Lack of a bench – perhaps if OGS trained his players better to play in this team that bench would have been more suitable. If VDB hadn’t been neglected all season he could have sat quite well with McTominay in the two, leaving Pogba on the left and Rashford on the bench – thereby giving options to actively change the game. Players also wouldn’t be run into the ground if he utilised the squad better.
- All the diving and complaining by Villareal players and the ref bought it? Bruno Fernandes (I need not say any more).
Lovely lasting image of most United players ripping their medals off immediately upon receipt last night. “These losers’ medals are for LOSERS, not for me!” they seemed to be thinking, behind thunderous and definitely not Hazard-like expressions.
Against Solskjaer’s many failings and weaknesses, the one fairly constant positive he is credited with is some variation on “lifted the mood / connected with the squad / good man-manager.” But is this true? There were some indications last night:
- Bruno now looks like a total prima donna, “me first” all the time, spends games hassling refs rather than contributing, knowing he will be indulged by Solkjaer (and to be fair he’s earned some indulgence).
- Pogba still contributes virtually nothing, relative to expectation and profile – is he any better thanks to Solkjaer’s supposed “arm around the shoulder” approach than he was while being monstered by Mourinho?
- Many in the first XI clearly undroppable, many on the fringes clearly unwanted. I can’t imagine that creates the wonderful squad harmony we keep hearing is Solskjaer’s primary legacy.
- By contrast, the hemming and hawing around the keeper situation has probably ill-served both of them. Solskjaer’s best quality (i.e. that he’s a club sentimentalist) is most strongly revealed in his handling of this situation – as is the cost of that approach. A more tough-minded and/or autonomous manager would just make a call.
- How many times this season have we heard him say “we haven’t shown up?” – ok, that happens to all teams occasionally. But when Klopp, Pep or more recently Tuchel are put in that position it quickly becomes a one-off, not a recurring theme as with United.
The net outcome of all this is that the radioactive Mourinho mood has been flushed, to be replaced with – what? A nice environment for favorites, a place where indulgence seems to be more important than challenge, hollow public positivity, a blanket of supposed “intangibles” that conceal or distract (for some) from the glaring coaching failures and the true gap with top English and European teams.
Can we just take a step back
United fan here. Just sending this in, in the hope that the majority of readers are sane and it appears in the mails page as a kind of “normal, well-adjusted human being” take.
Football is great fun. Sometimes maybe good sometimes maybe shit. Watching last night was like watching the Top 4 get consistently Mourinho’ed in the mid-2000’s and still just have no idea how to break down two banks of four. Clearly Solskjaer had no back up plan for Emery sitting back, crowding out Fernandes, allowing Wan-Bissaka to have the ball and breaking in numbers when mistakes were made – almost like no lessons were learnt from getting Mourinho’ed back in September.
I was disappointed they lost, but it was also kinda cool. A team from a small town in Spain, with a small budget toppling a global corporate behemoth through hard work and organisation. Cool, that’s definitely what I’m into as an entertainment product. But if you’re reading this and you get in social media and comment sections and start spouting anger and vitriol at everyone because your favourite team lost, please, please take a look at yourself. Sometimes I’m just blown away by some of the reactions, whether it’s the cretinous DMs to Marcus Rashford, or the angry emails on here calling people biased for reporting in a tone that is unfavourable towards a player who you like.
This is a bit of a ramble but I guess I’m trying to ask even one person who’s into this to stop. You’re that lad who is screaming at everyone during an inconsequential Sunday league game and wrecking everyone else’s mellow buzz. You’re the insane opposition player who thinks he’s Vinnie Jones and that that’s impressive. In short, you’re ruining it for everyone. If watching football leaves you feeling angry, ruins your day, fills you with that much hate – I strongly recommend that you get yourself some new hobbies, because watching footie is supposed to fun, with more than the occasional smattering of moving on from disappointment.
Laughing at Man Utd…
Lost to the 7th best team in Spain
Lost to a manager that was sacked by the 8th best team in England
Lost to a team from a city with only 50000 people, not even enough to fill Old Trafford
Lost to a team with only 1 trophy in their history…last nights Europa league
De Gea misses the decisive penalty, if only they had Alisson
Shiraz, Ole IN, Johannesburg
A Villarreal perspective…
I’ve noticed European coaches use the term “suffering” (“we had to suffer”) and there was certainly plenty of that last night. Despite United’s huge amount of possession, I thought the first half went very well – Villarreal kept it tight enough at the back (8-2-0 formation) and managed to have more shots, corners and free kicks than their opponents, getting the goal from one of these chances.
Then during the second half, the gulf in individual quality became noticeable, with United’s possession finally looking like it would count for something, and it did, with Cavani gobbling up a pinball situation in the area. When Emery brought on Coq for Bacca at 60 mins, I thought it was over as we’d got rid of our attacking outlet.
Thankfully, the later introduction of some new wingbacks and Paco Alcacer helped Villarreal get a foothold back in the game, and (I thought) looked more likely to win it in extra time. But no, the word of the day was “suffering” so it had to be penalties. And what a mad shootout it was!
Something missing from the British coverage of the game has been that two of Villarreal’s best players were missing in the shape of Samu Chukwueze (injured) and Sergio Asenjo (dropped for “cup” understudy) so huge respect for that. I even read a United fan in the mailbox bemoaning their bench, hilariously. We’d happily swap!
I’m so glad that fans were able to travel and enjoy this win with the squad – so many of the players have been at the club for a long time and it was great that Bruno and Santi Cazorla were able to watch their club lift some serious silverware too!
Joe (2 ‘L’s, 2 ‘R’s)
The Scream Game
Was there really an United fan moaning about another team’s tendency to scream and shout and dive and claim penalties if they’re so much as breathed upon? Mate, have you ever watched Bruno? His screams can be heard in space. Perhaps if the Portuguese Ralf Little hadn’t spent the entire match marking the ref and demanding a spot kick, he might have been more influential.
On a more serious note, totally agree with Charlie’s email about Hillsborough and the lack of Justice. It’s a disgrace.
Just a little something about last night…
Marcus Rashford, how shit do you have to play to be substituted? Mason greenwood was the only one who looked like he could do anything and yet he was subbed.
I said to my wife at half time that solskaer would sub greenwood and not Rashford, and that is why they lost.
Every time he tries something, he loses the ball,putting Man U on the back foot all the time.
So 1 question: does an mbe make you undroppable?
And 2 will this continue for England with Rashford, kane and sterling? I think so. 3 undroppable players who will always play despite them being 100% predictable.
kane-shoot every time
Rashford – little rollover and slight change on direction
Predictable England players who the press just can’t stop wanking over. Has anyone ever considered that England players play due to PR pressure?
I mean when you have PR companies being engaged to discredit covid vaccines, I think we need an investigation into their Influence over football.
One more thought, Wolves – are they just a Portuguese creche which hides a circumvention of third party ownership rules? I mean we complain about our kids not getting chances yet here is an agent’s lapdog who is giving chances to Portuguese kids instead. Their away kit is even the Portugal colours. How does wolves fans feel about that?
Have a lovely day
Ahh, I see Stewie Griffin is back with his customary trolling of Arsenal fans. Ok, I’ll bite.
I for one am happy for Unai Emery, he always seemed like a nice man and a capable manager. He did, as I am sure you can remember, get Arsenal to a Europa League final where we were thoroughly spanked by Sarri’s Chelsea. The following season saw Arsenal go 7 league games without a win and after having coasted through the first few games of the aforementioned European competition we suddenly struggled and lost at home to Frankfurt, a team we thrashed away. Emery had lost whatever it was that made him semi successful in his first season. There was nothing to suggest he could stop the rot and he was rightly relieved of his duties. Now, I am not for one moment saying Arteta is a better choice, that remains to be seen, but let’s not pretend that Arsenal would be any better off had Emery stayed.
As for the xenophobia, well, here’s one Arsenal fan who never found that amusing. You may want to look toward the sports media and the god-awful black hole that is ‘football twitter’ to find where that nonsense was conjured up.
A broken record
So you think Ole should go, after the lost final. Your editorial makes the case. But here’s the thing. You have always thought he should go, from the moment he arrived Football 365 have been trying to get him to go. Every win is seen as luck, every loss his failure. Second in the Premiership, not down to Ole, but to others, but where are the calls for Klopp to go, after a worse season than Ole? Where are the calls for anyone else to go, other than Ole? We all see things through lenses, and you lot seem to have an ABU approach. How successful were you all with your predictions? City and Liverpool first and second, either way, sure as heck not United in second. But that is not down to Ole.
365 needs a new manager. Someone to come in and revitalise the old writers or bring in some new ones. Someone who can take hacks who are stuck in a rut and either need a transfer or an arm around the shoulder. A leader that creates a new style of play, that keeps the fans happy with the way they write, as well as the intelligence of the articles.
You know what you need? An Ole.