Solskjaer is a Champo boss hiding behind Man Utd’s youth

Date published: Tuesday 3rd September 2019 2:29

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Manchester United

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Ole Gunnar Solksjaer‘s dirty little habit
As a reasonably disinterested spectator of what’s going on with Manchester United, I think it’s quite interesting to see the whole ‘is Solskjaer as promoter/developer of youth?’ thing play out. But I also think it’s important to differentiate between promoting and developing young players and just playing them for the sake of playing.

One of the things I’ve noticed about OGS’ 9 month nostalgia tour – especially over the last 15 games or so when things have started to go badly is his willingness to throw on untested kids to run around for the last 15 minutes or so when Utd are chasing a game they have invariably played badly in and failed to create chances in.

This isn’t developing young players. It’s hiding behind them.

This isn’t providing young players with an opportunity to grow and learn in a cohesive team. It’s throwing them on as a shot to nothing knowing that ultimately the good will it engenders means you won’t get blamed.

We all talk about how great it is that he’s giving someone like Mason Greenwood a chance, but it reminds me a lot of what Mourinho said about Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud ahead of the Utd games on the first game of the season – it’s also an implicit message that it’s not his fault.

I don’t think this is healthy for a club with ambitions like Man Utd and I don’t think it’s particularly healthy for the young players either.

Man Utd might have young players who one day will be good enough to play at the top end of the Premier League, but at the moment they have a Championship manager hiding behind them.
Simon, London. 


Man City hate
I’ve wanted to write about this for a while now. I finally get the chance today. Even if it doesn’t get published, I’m sure at least one person will read this.

It’s about the whole issue with Man City’s money…or Owners…or country, whichever one you fall under. I can’t believe people still believe Man City bought their way to top. You mean having a very good manager with a wide variety of tactics, having a structured recruitment policy where the right players are brought in and being patient are not big factors in them being the best team in the league?

Liverpool paid over 70 million on VVD and did the same for Allison, yet they recruited well and are not trying to buy the league?
Man Utd have spent a sh*tload of money trying to fix their team but I guess you can’t term it under ‘buying the league’ because it’s not working out for them.

Yes Man City spent a lot of money when Pep initially came but have you noticed they only buy the players they NEED. Yes they have payed big sum for certain players like Rodri, Walker… Ederson. It’s because they know these are the players they NEED!. Liverpool did the same.

Spending loads of money doesn’t make you win a league or a cup. There are other factors involved.
Nelson, Lagos


Can’t use the “mental health” card everytime
In response to John Collins, WWFC, London,

2 points to raise:

First point, I am believer of good mental health and wellness. As a father of an autistic child, I do feel its importance deeply.

But, as importantly, it cannot be used as a ‘get-away’ card, especially to agitate a transfer demand. Has he been certified to be clinically depressed?  Does he has an actual history of mental illnesses? Oh, and was he in the correct state of mind and health when he signed to contact to join LFC? Otherwise, it will become a new weapon by players and agents to agitate a move. Similar to the ‘slavery’ comments during the Fabregas transfer saga.

Second point, I find it weird some people conveniently forget that professional football players have a professional contract to adhere to. Similar to an employment contract. Right now, it looks the only solution to this contract issue is to replace them with a pay-per-match model. Players get paid for every match appearance and partial for every appearance less than 45 mins. Bonus for goals scored, clean sheet and team bonus for certain cup milestones and actually winning a cup. Players who aren’t happy or aren’t performing, can leave on their own to a club willing to pay them as such. After all, this is the gig economy. Whyshould football not follow suit? Especially since paper contracts are becoming worthless other than maintaining resale value.
DJ, Singapore


With respect to John Collin’s email from this morning I don’t really think he knows what he is talking about.  Bobby Duncan is now on his third club in just over a year.  He left City to join his ‘boyhood club’ and did quite well at the U18 level.  That good spell got him added to the first team for the summer where he was given some opportunities but at his age, he was always going to be playing U23 at Liverpool. Despite never featuring in his age group at international level, Duncan (or very likely his agent) feels that he should be in the Liverpool first team (ala Jadon Sancho) and at the first sign he wasn’t, he agitated for a move.  When a suitable offer did not arrive, the club decided to hang onto him which caused his agent to lose his mind.   None of this screams club failing to deal with mental health but rather an agent guiding his client wrong.  Duncan for his part is now going to Viola who have 5 forwards between the ages of 18-21 who as of right now are more advanced in their development than Bobby Duncan.

John also brings up Raheem Sterling to point out a crisis the club has with younger players.  Ignoring the Raheem Sterling left 5 seasons ago and under very different circumstances, it’s really not the large body of proof that John seems to think it is.  He also brings up the pockets of racial abuse that Sterling has received, this is in no way a byproduct of the club itself or how he was treated by them.  The abuse was and is inexcusable, but not indicative of the club or the majority of its supporters.

So what is left?  Liverpool has a strong recent history of bringing young players into the first team and doing right by their youth.  Loans are found with an eye on development and young players who do not fit into the team are found homes to continue their career.  The club itself is combining their first team and academy players into one facility showing how they value the youth and the structure around them.

There are two sides to every story, Bobby Duncan is no villain here.  He’s a young kid that may or may not be misguided by the adults that are responsible for his football well being.  Point being, nothing about this scenario screams abuse of a youth player.
Mark, Waterdown (LFC)


In response to John Collins, WWFC regarding Liverpool’s youth conduct and attitude towards mental health in sport, I genuinely appreciate the concern you’re showing here, but I think it’s unfair to judge the club based solely on the Bobby Duncan incident.

This is a player who has downed tools twice (once at City, now at Liverpool) in order to force through a move, this before he has played a single competitive game of senior football. He’s also managed by an agent who is notorious for spurious claims and a napalm approach to transfer aggravation.

By all reasonable accounts, all Liverpool FC were doing was holding a lad to his very well-paid contract unless an offer came along that met their valuation, having mere weeks previously given him opportunities with the first team in pre-season. Hardly torture.

Of course I cannot speak as to Bobby Duncan’s mental health. If he does have mental health issues or problems related to stress, they should be handled sensitively and with kindness. But that is not how his agent (presumably with his consent) went about it, instead manipulating the situation as ammunition against his employers to force through a move. At best, this is publicising a kid’s real trauma for personal gain, at worst this was all an opportunistic ruse and an insult to the many people who suffer from depression and anxiety.

As regards Liverpool’s attention to mental health in sport, they have been highly active in this area and have spoken openly and regularly about their intention to protect all players, youth in particular, from the pressures and anguish that come with being a burgeoning professional footballer. They have counselors available to all players and are known to allow young players time off to travel home to family if they feel the pressures are getting to them. I’d recommend watching “Jason McAteer: Through the Storm | Mental health in football and society” on youtube, a video produced by Liverpool FC, which tackles this very issue in depth.

All the best for the rest of the season.
ShaneO’ (LFC, Ireland)


*Sigh* Ok John Collins, WWFC, London I’ll bite, the first question is on what basis do you consider that Liverpool fan’s antipathy towards Raheem Sterling in any way had “racial undertones”? What we had here was a player who had joined the club as a young boy and who had been nurtured and coached and had some incredible opportunities for a player of that age. He was an incredible prospect (and has proved to be an incredible player) and the response of LFC fans to his leaving was based on two simple factors: (1) disappointment – he obviously felt he was more likely to win things at City (and was and has) and that was particularly galling for a fanbase with as high an opinion of itself as Liverpool; and (2) the actions of Aidy Ward, Sterling’s agent.

For me, the second one is the more pertinent reason. What we had here was the agent of a player going to war with the club (more on that later…) to achieve an outcome for his client. This included making a statement that Raheem Sterling wouldn’t play for Liverpool even if he was offered £300,000 a week. At a time and in a city where there are high-levels of deprivation coupled with a fanatical approach to football, the concept that a player would not play for the club and for the fans helping to pay his extravagant wages was utterly unacceptable. Most local LFC fans would give anything to play for the club and, as unrealistic as it may be, that approach was a huge slap in the face. In no way is there any racial undertones to the criticism (if you think there is then maybe google the reaction to Fernando Torres and Phil Coutinho leaving in analogous circumstances) and to project any form of racism onto that reaction is actually to undermine the frankly excellent work that Raheem Sterling has done to highlight issues of racism in the UK footballing landscape.

So, to Bobby Duncan.  Mental health is a huge issue in society and, most likely, in football. I am not in any way suggesting that Bobby Duncan was not struggling with mental health but it feels crass and unnecessary for his agent to publicise this on social media in a way which opens the kid up to all sorts of scrutiny and the football fishbowl in a way he hadn’t previously been. So why do it? Well the clue is in what has happened since. By creating a very public situation, Saif Rubie has ultimately forced the club’s hands and engineered a move to Fiorentina and a nice pay-day (one assumes) for a player who signed last year and had two years remaining on a contract he signed last year. If Rubie was so concerned for the mental health of an 18 year old kid then why not take him out of the lime-light and get him the help he needs rather than agitating in a public and destructive way for a move to a new country with all the pressures that brings. He also wouldn’t tweet (now deleted) disparaging comments about people with mental health if this was something he was knowledgeable about. Now it’s no surprise to anyone that this agent has previous of doing this (he once described Saido Berahino as being victimised at West Brom) and I think, John, that you need to maybe scrutinise the motivation and actions of people like Saif Rubie before jumping down the throat of the club (as distinct from the media voices you cite – who do have a responsibility to be balanced and measured in their response) and its inner workings about which, I would imagine, you know as little as anyone else.
Tom, Liverpool


“Inviting a challenge”? WTF?
Is this how we’re seeing football now? “Inviting a challenge”? I note that Grumpy Dip, in his final paragraph, notes the defenders doing a similar action is also questionable but is this what we have now and is this to be, “Oh well, that’s the game now. Deal with it.”?

It’s cheating! And it boils my balls.

I’m becoming so disenchanted with European football now. The Spanish and Italians have cheated for years and now, according to Grumpy Dip THFC, it’s an “invitation”. To cheat.

Being English, and having lived in Oz for 17 years, I can see how a sport is played properly. Try watching Australian Rules. Hardest, fittest bastards in the sports world and while they do occasionally kick f**k out of each other, they rarely, rarely, very rarely “invite a challenge”. (Sure, there’re are bad apples, occasionally). But mostly they’re looking at the ball. Not trying to guess where the defender’s foot is! Not with a view to gaining an advantage via cheating. But apparently that en vogue now in the EPL, and completely acceptable, right, Grumpy Dil?

Do yourselves a favour and stream just one game of Aussie Rules. I seriously believe that most “proper” football fans will absolutely love it.

Kindest regards,
Al, Arsenal, Sydney (yeah, I hated, HATED, that Pires dive as well)


Grumpy Dip – THFC

“Final comment, how often does a defender shield the ball out for a goal kick, slow down and invite a challenge from the striker, collapse, and win a free kick? Common method defenders use, do we now call these out for diving?”

Um…yes, just wave play on and if they do that thing where they hit the deck and grab the ball – give a free kick or penalty depending where they are.
Doug, AFC, Belfast


Name checked
Called out by two people in the mailbox, one by name! I’m doing well. If I may be permitted to reply?..

Hello irrational Spurs fans, I wondered where you’d gone. Most mails from Spuds have been considered and level headed recently, but then you two step in and set things straight.

Chris, Valencia – with language manipulation skills like that you should work in politics. “Kane is looking for contact. Contact made, Kane accepts the invitation. It’s not diving, it’s smart play.” …I mean… really? What you have just described there sunshine is a player trying to engineer a penalty from contact with another player. He was “looking for contact” and “accepts the invitation”. Last time I checked football was a contact sport and when a player goes down without being fouled its known as a dive, or simulation. You can dress it up with as many “being cute”s, “making the most of it”s and “smart plays” as you want, but the essence is still the same. Its cheating and it was rightfully called out by the referee and by well over 99% of football fans, with the only ones thinking it was a penalty being those few deluded souls like yourself.

Special mention to Dave, Berkshire Spur, for his “Kane may have been looking for it”.

You guys keep telling yourself that while VAR and everyone with non-blinkered eyes can see Kane diving a mile off.

Before anyone replies with a “Pires used to dive”, thats not the issue here. I am not on a moral crusade against all divers, I was specifically calling out a player who dived at the weekend, was correctly called out for it, and has history of such simulation.

You’re just bitter that we were by far the better team on the day borne out by the stats and by, you know, watching the game. Up the Arsenal!
Alay, N15 Gooner


Juventus lost their first game of the season? What?
Hi there,

I’m not going into the morality or legality of Steve, Los Angeles, thinking that employers should have the right to prevent their employees from engaging in activities or vices that, notwithstanding that they’re not good for them, are perfectly legal. Nor am I going to point out that, given that he’s been a prominent figure in Italian football for the last decade or so, Juventus almost certainly knew that Maurizio Sarri was a heavy smoker when they appointed him.

I just thought it might be noteworthy to point out that Juventus actually won the game that he’s talking about, and therefore using their losing it as a stick to beat Maurizio Sarri is curious, to say the least.
Dara O’Reilly, London


I know we have evolved into a society where facts are just something you make up to fit your point, alternative facts and all that, but the results of football matches are pretty easy to check.

Steve, Juve haven’t lost a league game this season, 2 out of 2, joint top of the table.
Mel – Berlin, Dublin, Athlone Town, HaHoHe


Everyone on the internet is entitled to a degree of anonymity (for better or for worse, as racists on Twitter prove on a depressingly regular basis), so this might be none of my business…

…but is mailbox regular + Chelsea fan Steve, Los Angeles, actually Steven Cohen, former host of radio show World Soccer Daily? ( )

On the one hand, there are 4 million people living in LA; statistically there are probably dozens of Steve’s who support Chelsea. But his forthright opinions and communication style remind me of the good old days of listening to him on WSD as a student in California.

I’ve wanted to ask about this for a long time, but didn’t follow through until his last few contributions. It would be really interesting to find out. (Without dredging up the whole Hillsborough comments thing – water under the bridge).
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland 


Champ Manager
Don’t get me wrong, I think the plight of Bolton is sad one and one that shouldn’t happen to any club, but does this predicament remind you of an Ultimate challenge on Championship/Football manager. Having been deducted points, having hardly any squad and only having a couple of days to pick up any free transfers or loans they can get is quite a challenge. I will be following Bolton this season just to see how they get on, good luck.

Can anyone think of any other real life football situations that would be great/ as difficult to play out in Championship manager?



Sometimes in football the better side loses
Ed Quotheraven, you state that Palace were the better side so deserved to win against Villa even with the wrong decision going against Villa, by your rational then Palace should have got nothing against United after being battered by them and a shitshow by the referee in not awarding Martial a penalty and various other dubious decisions. Sometimes in football the better side doesn’t always win, as a United fan I am coming to accept this fact more and more as the season goes on.
On to United and perversely I am quite enjoying the process from Ole, the shipping out of the old guard and bringing through exciting youngsters he will need 2 or 3 more transfer windows but I for one will stick by him as the Glazers and Woodward are to blame for the situation we are in and not the manager. I have a feeling we will still make top 4 as well as win one of the cups (possibly Europa League) and as a fan I will be happy with that, lets face it we were 2 missed penalties away from having a possible 10 points.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


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