Ratcliffe given stupid idea by Custis before Sun journalist rages at ‘ignorant’ Manchester United player

Editor F365
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Erik ten Hag of Manchester United
Time to go back to The Cliff, Erik

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been given one genius idea for free: take those ‘pampered’ Manchester United players back to where journalists can watch them easily.


Cliff hanger
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is not short of ideas in terms of how to fix Manchester United. He might well need a few more actually good and effective ones, but ideas in general are not something he or his Ineos team lack.

But Neil Custis, presumably still pitching for that role at The Athletic he so desperately craves, has offered a genius little nugget to help. And because he is a middle-aged journalist who was around when a) Manchester United were really good and b) newspaper journalists were really relevant, his idea is obviously to bring back something which worked in the ’90s.

Looking to the future, here is a radical tip for Sir Jim if he wants to save cash and get United back to the top…go back to The Cliff.

Mediawatch must have missed the point when ‘radical’ became a synonym for ‘really completely and utterly stupid’ but do go on.

United’s old training ground which still exists, albeit in a rather dilapidated state.

Sounds perfect. Pretty much exactly like the Etihad Campus.

Get the modern-day stars – who require the most up-to-date technology, pitches, pampering and a swimming pool to get the best out of them – to toughen up.

Show them where Sir Matt Busby laid the foundations of United’s success – and Sir Alex Ferguson built an empire.

Funnily enough, Manchester United have tried this before. And it was because someone else could not quite get over the idea that things which worked about two and a half decades ago were no longer applicable.

Back in April 2019, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took his players to The Cliff for a training session to, in the words of The Sun at the time, ‘give his pampered stars a “reality check”‘. They were hammered at home to Manchester City the next day, with the players reported as being ‘baffled’ by the trip and Solskjaer recounting ‘old stories’ from his own career.

“It is not a big surprise,” Solskjaer said of his line-up being leaked hours prior to kick-off. “We were training at The Cliff, it is quite open there and the neighbours can see.”

Indeed, as The Sun said at the time:

While exuding a certain charm, Sir Alex Ferguson moved his players away from The Cliff in the late 1990s – and to Carrington, now called the Aon Training Complex.

Fergie believed the facilities weren’t up to scratch at The Cliff and was far too exposed to the public – and therefore press.

Ah, that’d explain why Custis wants them back there. If Ferguson reckoned the place wasn’t ‘up to scratch’ last millennium then there is no reason why Manchester United should not base their future around it in 2024.

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Return of the Mc
Custis is not quite done believing the world should revolve around him and his ilk. Another part of his column in The Sun concerns that chief vexation of any football journalist: Players Not Stopping In The Mixed Zone.

IN 25 years of covering Manchester United there have been several highs and lows from the after-match mixed zone area.

A truly phenomenal opening line, to be absolutely clear.

But Saturday was something else as the players, bar Jonny Evans, snubbed multiple interview requests that used to be granted with no problems by greats like Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney.

At one point, Scott McTominay just walked through ignoring everyone, before coming back off the team bus so that he could ignore everyone again.

This time on his return from the dressing room he carried a Budweiser box, inside of which was a ghetto blaster booming out music.

Scott McTominay should be everyone’s new favourite player.


Pot, meet kettle
That above anecdote is made all the better by the online version of Custis’ column including a recent article he wrote about Ferguson handing him seven ‘downright unfair bans of varying lengths’ during their time working together.

At one point he describes the Scot as a ‘middle-aged man having a hissy fit’. Ryanair and the SJA awards want a word.


No way, Jose
The top story on The Sun website is somehow not Manchester United being told to return to The Cliff, but is instead Jose Mourinho turning down a Chelsea reunion and heading to Fenerbahce. And this headline warrants some examination:

Jose Mourinho ‘agrees shock return to management’ as Chelsea legend closes in on job with European giants

First of all, they are obviously quoting no-one. That is – somehow – pretty standard practise at this stage but does still need to be pointed out every now and again.

But second, can a club who has never won a European trophy of any kind really be described as a ‘European giant’? Especially when the club in question is between LASK and Maccabi Tel Aviv in the UEFA club coefficient ranking? Feels a bit weird.


‘Right,’ said Fred
Mourinho accepting a new managerial role is, in itself, not quite big enough news to dominate the headlines. So some Manchester United obviously has to be sprinkled in.

‘Jose Mourinho to be reunited with ex-Man Utd star he ‘never wanted’ at new club’ – Daily Mirror website.

‘Jose Mourinho risks awkward reunion with one of his ex-Man United players as he prepares to join Fenerbahce – having once claimed he ‘NEVER wanted to sign’ the midfielder at Old Trafford’ – MailOnline.

‘Jose Mourinho set for awkward reunion with Man Utd star he ‘never wanted’ at Fenerbahce’ – Daily Express website.

Those are a selection of the takes, which focus mainly on Mourinho’s opinion of Fred. And each grab that ‘never wanted’ line from a story in The Athletic which was published in October 2019. Each link to The Athletic, but weirdly not to the story in question.

Perhaps that has something to do with this being the only mention of Mourinho and Fred within.

In the end Mourinho got Diogo Dalot, Lee Grant, and Fred. There are claims Mourinho only acceded to the Brazilian midfielder, who came at a cost of £52 million, because he felt the alternative was no midfielder at all. United insist Mourinho did want Fred.

What a dreadful coincidence that each of them appear to have made the same mistake.


Sesko clubcard
A wonderful example of this genre from the Daily Mirror website

How Arsenal could line up with Benjamin Sesko as RB Leipzig star says yes to transfer

…in which we are told that Arsenal could line up with Benjamin Sesko up front in the exact same team Arsenal used all season, just with Jurrien Timber at left-back too.

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