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Who would Man Utd appoint if they sacked Solskjaer?
I don’t think the ‘no’ argument put forth by Ian Watson in his article carries much water. The premise of the argument seems, at least to me, that Mr. Watson thinks there is a queue of elite level managers who are begging Woodward to offer them the United manager’s position. This is something that I don’t think can be justified in any way. Most, if not all of these elite level managers are already at some other elite, or at least high-level club, and if they aren’t it’s because they have failed in some way at their previous jobs (something Ole hasn’t done conclusively yet at United) and haven’t landed a new jig since. Sacking Ole would make sense only if the benefits of doing so followed by searching and appointing a new manager and then getting his signings done are certain to outweigh the benefits of just asking Ole now which players he wants in the summer and starting negotiations right away (which is presumably why the two new appointments were made).
Apart from the question of should United sack Ole this summer, there is merit in asking who exactly would they appoint in his place? Just like Solkjaer isn’t high on the priority list of the likes of Barca and Madrid when looking for a replacement, I wonder how many elite level managers consider Man United as their first choice. No one is going to commit career suicide by admitting such a thing publicly, but apart from past players I don’t think there would be many. There’s also timing issues. Would any of these potential candidates be willing to abandon their current projects and come to United? The key question therefore is, how many managers are there in Europe who would be willing to come to United at the end of the current season, and can guarantee the PL/CL with this Man United squad without making any new signings? (without new signings because, in theory even Ole would win a major title next season with the ‘right’ signings, so what’s the point of changing the manager). Only if there are actual examples of this, and only then, does any argument to sacking Ole at the end of the season hold merit. What happens from now till the end of the season should not change this line of thinking, given that would constitute less than three months out of the three years Ole has been at the club. So, if we assume Man United have a ‘long-term plan’, the opening line in the ‘yes’ argument shouldn’t be “what’s the harm”, but rather “what’s the point of deviating entirely from the plan, when you don’t even know for sure that it is going to fail”
Also, if you are an elite level manager, who is looking out for options, what exactly does Man United offer that other clubs don’t. I’ve never heard anyone mention this. Not the wages, as there are plenty of clubs that can match what United would pay their manager. Not the squad, which hasn’t come close to winning anything major in nearly a decade, is clearly a work in progress, and even though there is talent in the main team and the academy, apart from Bruno (and maybe Pogba) no one really stands out. Let’s be honest, no one in the current United squad is winning the Ballon D’or anytime soon (especially since we are not even in the CL). Not even necessarily the brand, because how relevant is the prestige of managing a club that won its last trophy 8 years ago? Added to that is the constant and glaring spotlight, so unforgiving that even when you take your team from being 6/7th to second in just over three years at the club (with a whitewash of a transfer window in between), you still have to contend with articles from the media questioning whether you are even worth keeping on. I mean, why would you walk into this situation when you could just go somewhere else? It’s not as if coming to United automatically guarantees success, as a matter of fact, the game would be pretty rigged against you right from day 1 given that you are an elite manager and United ‘should’ win trophies. United also aren’t overpaying their managers or coaching staff last I checked. Let’s also not forget that the past behaviour of the CEO and the Board very strongly hints that they might not be the best in the business, at least in matters of football, which is what you would think, is what every elite level manager would demand as a minimum.
MM, Man United, India
Short memories for OGS
Lot of people still questioning the job Ole has done at United and whether he deserves a new contract. He might not be the greatest manager in world football but its horses for courses, some players/managers just fit certain teams. Moyes who worked wonders at Everton and West Ham never got it. Louis and Jose never got it. Ole is playing exciting football, winning games and giving us hope. Coming 2nd is not a huge failure to a team that won 21 in a row. Even Fergie would struggle against that. People also forget Ole was thrown under the bus in the summer by Woodward. Their closest rivals improved upon their already superior teams: Liverpool bought Jota and Thiago, City bought Dias, Ake, Torres, Chelsea spent £260m and United got a free Cavani no one wanted, a spare left back and a midfielder they didnt need.
United are two big name signings away from challenging, the age of their squad is perfect and if the board can back United to get a truly world class centre forward and a centre back the way those teams around them backed their manager then Ole’s appointment will have been near perfect from the ageing sh!t show he took over.
Play to the whistle
We are now between 27 and 30 games into the worse post war season. Hopefully it’s the last season before the post-covid period begins although it looks like the Europeans don’t want to take their medicine so we might have a season or two to go. I’ve found daily, crowdless football quite frankly tortuous. In tyring to find some interest in it I have taken a look at the Prem Table as we go into the last quarter of the season, to try and see who has what to play for. And there is very little. If the league stopped today, then based on points it looks like most teams are pretty happy with their lot.
Man City – clear champs. No one even competing with them.
Man United – top four trophy, a win over their league winning rivals. Nil nils for anyone around them. A goal in open play once every 4 games, 5 of the 20 dirtiest players in the league for fouls, the league’s best at making the referee aware that someone breathed on them. The Ole effect in full flow. Give him tenure.
Leicester / Chelsea – top four, possibly with a nose bleeding West Ham nearby. If West Ham didn’t win another game they’d still be happy.
Liverpool – shitter of season. The rest of the season is about playing themselves into form for next season and possibly a truly ridiculous and undeserved yet somehow totally on brand European Cup run.
Everton, Spurs, Villa, Arsenal – where they expect to be or are aiming for. Spurs have had a couple of lucky seasons but are reverting to the mean. Fredonomics.
Palace/Leeds – probably not relegated and not bankrupt. Good season.
Wolves – Would like to be in that same mix as Spurs and Everton but a couple of key injuries that no one is allowed to moan about now as it was lucky that they weren’t injured not unlucky that they are. That’s how in game collision injuries work right?
Soton, Burnley, Brighton – maybe would like to be higher but not relegated and not accidently getting near European football so all fine.
Newcastle/Fulham – there’s still time…
WBA – Took the Big Sam option with plans to stay up but looking like they earnt it.
Sheffield United – who knows, with more subs maybe they’d be able to rotate their way out trouble.
It looks like Newcastle and Fulham will eying each other, Wolves would want to be higher but avoiding Europa qualification wouldn’t be the end of the world and of course Liverpool.
During the Schumacher dominance of F1. Murray Walker was asked why he finds it interesting. He said because there’s always a battle somewhere on the track if not at the front. Chelsea have changed manager so they’ve at least done something, but how can we still have a quarter of the season to play and 16 of 19 teams are just happy with their lot? (Discounting whoever is in first because first is first.)
What a pathetic league when it wants to be.
Alex, South London
About a year ago I wrote a very poetic mail on Bobby Firmino’s greatness, his ability to create space, involve players, bring out the best of Salah and Mane, be the creative fulcrum of Klopps machine.
Like a lot of things when you write the email it changes. Since then Bobby has been on a downward slide and Liverpool’s form with it. We say Liverpool have been found out and I think they have but drilling down I wonder is it specifically Bobby and the Bobby-trap that has been sussed out.
What is clear to all is that the counter press in its current form is easily defended against and countered at will. But light has appeared at the end of the tunnel with Jota playing in tandem with Mane and Salah up front, the creativity, the interplay and unpredictability of Liverpool’s attack is showing signs of reemergence. All three can play across the front line, all carry a goal scoring and a creative threat, and with a rebuilt spine behind them Liverpool may be an actual football team again. City are so far ahead of the pack now I don’t see us challenging them without a serious, prolonged uptake in form but we look like we might be challengers again.
Where does this all leave Bobby Dazzler. Klopp clearly loves him and he has a role going forwards undoubtedly but I wonder if now he will turn into the 4th member of the front three, a specialist against counter attacking teams or operating as a 10 in a 4-2-3-1 when required.
In my email previously I said I thought Firmino was Klopps Cantona (said by others as well) but I’m starting to wonder if he is our Mark Hughes and that the next step of our evolution sees him on the periphery.
The REAL problem with LFC
Like so many other Liverpool fans I was distressed and baffled by the rapid deterioration of the reigning champions. There were numerous theories, some better than others, trying to make sense of the situation. I was reading a recent article that claimed Liverpool players ‘hated’ the new training centre in Kirkby when the lightbulb inside my head lit up. LFC was doing okay despite losing VvD and Gomez during the first half of the season. The sharp downturn in form started only after the players moved to the new training centre. Fact.
Since moving to Kirkby, their home results belongs more to a team facing relegation battle than a reigning champion.Things that are not right with the team seems to get amplified whenever they were playing at home. Fact. Freakish bad luck with injuries. Fact.
All this point to one REAL reason behind LFC’s current trouble; Kirkby’s fengshui is horrible.
Laugh if you want, but many Asian businessmen believe the position of your office door alone can make or break your business. Please go get a good fengshui master to take a look at Kirkby before it s too late, Jurgen.
Or, maybe just sign a CB earlier next time.
Kok Yee from Malaysia
Well I’m all for a nicer mailbox and when Mark T dropped a potential for a list I was all on, so here are my answers to his questions.
What are people looking forward to most when we are allowed to watch games live?
– just the fan atmosphere, that euphoria you get when your team go on the counter attack or get a dangerous set piece, edge of your seat feeling and that sense of togetherness when you all sing in unison
Which football ground would you most like to visit?
– Thought id stick to the U.K. here but honestly I’d love to just visit as many non-league grounds as possible, I love that vibe you get from a non-League game and the grounds just have a totally different atmosphere compared to the EFL grounds in my view.
Which player/team will be a pleasant surprise package at the Euros?
– Can I say Italy? I’m sensing Italy, they aren’t favourites, in fact a quick google shows they are 8th in the betting to win the tournament, but their squad has such a good blend of experience and youth, and the player I’d say to keep an eye on is the Hungarian Dominik Szoboszlai.
Which youth player at your team excites you?
– So many at Chelsea have made the step up in the past season and a half, but for the ones that aren’t playing in the Premier League just yet, I’d choose Marc Guehi and Lewis Bate
Which player (past or present) is my guilty pleasure?
– Many love him, Dimitar Berbatov, when he played he was truly incredible, the reason I shouldn’t like him is because he played for United, Spurs and Fulham, all seem as rivals to Chelsea, local or not, but I love him
Alan Smith and Martin Tyler: Waiting for Good Times…
Great piece about the rise of the ‘Fan TV’ commentator, and the joy of listening to Alan Smith commentating on a NLD. I wonder whether TV producers have seen the rise of things like Arsenal Fan TV and thought they want a piece of that. Remember those ‘Fan zone’ co-commentators they tried? I disagree about accepting G Neville on United or Carra on Liverpool. I can’t stand it — it’s too biased, too much like you’ve stumbled on MUTV by mistake. Everything is seen from the United perspective, no matter what. And Martin Tyler has achieved the rare goal of making every fan think he’s biased against their team. He’s been a great servant but I think it’s time for him to hang up the Sheepskin coat. Him and Alan Smith are just so downbeat it’s painful. Tyler can barely bring himself to shout ‘And it’s Live’ with any enthusiasm. In his defence there’s a game every 4 hours it seems.
For me, Clive the gold standard will always be Clive and Andy — Andy Townsend still pops up on 5live, and perhaps it’s because he never played for one of the (historic) big clubs, he can wear the coat of Neutrality well. Ditto Pat Nevin. (sorry Chelsea fans, i’m not having a dig)
The feature on the rubbish Alan Smith commentary (as a Chelsea fan I couldn’t help a mini goalgasm myself) reminded me of the Gary Neville goalgasm(s) that accompanied Chelsea’s champions league title. Now the barca goalgasm was a true ‘gasm. However, the minigasm in the final was set to a backing track from Martin Tyler of: “Nothing as possibly bleak as this… DROGBAAAAAAA (Neville minigasm).. they’ve pulled the rabbit out of the hat again, can you believe it.. Chelsea will just not let go in the champions league…the man for the big occasion, the big man”It was perfect commentary, summed up the despair before the goal, the crazy run to the final, Drogba’s god-like cup final record. And forever endeared those two commentators to me and forever associated them to the moment. Great commentary sends chills and can hype up the theatre of the moment so much that to have it ruined like for the lamela goal is a huge shame. Anyway no real point to this mail, just a reminiscer and gratitude to the great goalgasms. As heinous as he turned out to be, Andy Gray’s Gerrard commentaries were also truly brilliant.
Maheta Molango – Those 12 seconds
Dear Mailbox Editor,
I was delighted to see your take down of the tabloids over the appointment of Maheta Molango as the PFA Chief Executive. I was one of the 1,500 or so Brighton fans to he is one and only goal at the Madjeski Stadium that glorious, sunny Saturday in August. Having just reached our seats as the game kicked off due to the long queue for food we saw the ball hoofed up the pitch and put back into Reading’s net by Molango. In our excitement at seeing Brighton score our food that we had queued up for for so long went flying. It felt worth it as we’d uncovered a gem of a striker who would fire Brighton to glory, or so we thought. Sadly, that was not the way it worked out. I’m glad he’s got this job as he will be able to refund us for the hotdogs!
PS very happy to see Robert Sanchez has been called up for Spain. He was playing for Forest Green and Rochdale in the past two seasons. That is some step up.
Half a goal…
Murray mentions half a goal in the morning mailbox. This got me thinking about gambling when you bet on 3.5 goals or over. What does this actually mean? Why not 4 goals or over since you can’t actually score half a goal? Is there any logic behind it or is it just an exceptionally annoying quirk?!
Jamie Bedwell, Cheltenhamshire