Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could leave but Manchester United need to fix their transfers to make things work. Plus, views on Stevie G and more. Send mails to email@example.com
Can Man United fix transfers though?
While I had gone from ‘give him time’ to Oleout quite recently, the biggest problem at the club is still the transfer dealings so getting rid of the manager is not going to help. We had one good season of transfers that did well for Ole and gave us hope we could build. Before that our transfers hamstrung every manager and since that Ole is also up against it. Here’s the proof: (you might disagree with some of my ratings but I’m expecting agreement on the consensus)
Ole’s first seasons transfer dealings went like this:
Harry Maguire – admittedly over-priced but was a big upgrade on what we had. He seems to have completely lost the plot this season though and cricket stump would offer similar defensive qualities and also be as quick.
Bruno Fernandes – Superstar
AWB – Fantastic player
Daniel James – did a job occasionally, at least we sold him for roughly what we paid
Odion Ighalo – a bit of a miss as we had enough youthful talent coming through.
Overall though that was 3 senior transfers that undoubtedly strengthened the team and have stayed.
Donny van de Beek looked to be a crucial upgrade before he kicked a ball. Now he’s barely kicked a ball.
Amad Diallo and Pellistri, N/A I guess but still around 30 million paid out seemingly for the future.
Alex Telles is another defender who is capable but just not good enough.
Edinson Cavani, has been great but not the age of player a club with any ambition should be buying (ditto Ibrahimovic, Sanchez and Ronaldo)
In hindsight, that transfer season was a complete waste. The only player to make an impact, Cavani, wasn’t in an area we were short of options.
And now this season:
Jadon Sancho on paper looked great. Hasn’t worked out so well but maybe he’ll still come good.
Raphaël Varane looked like the missing link in defence but no-one can make Harry look good at the moment. Also been unavailable too much.
Cristiano Ronaldo, goals speak volumes for him, especially in champions league but what no-one mentions is how few goals Fernandes in particular gets now. He’s gone from top scorer and many assists to purely Ronaldo provider. It really does seem now Ronaldo was very ill thought out. Sadly he might have worked at City as they have strength in defence and midfield which would have meant little expectation on Ronaldo to do anything but score goals.
Added to this, the Pogba saga. He turns up all too infrequently. May well turn a good side into a great side but he’s a luxury player utd cannot carry. Will probably leave on a free to make sure those in charge of transfers look even more incompetent.
Varane and Sancho could come good and make it a decent summer window but we still kept Pogba, bought Ronaldo who we didn’t need and ignored defensive midfield.
If you look at all the transfer windows since Fergie, that first one of Ole is the anomaly in a real shit-show of wastage.
So, as Ole very likely has his days numbered, I have very little hope of any progress until this transfer shambles improves.
Jon, Cape Town (come on England in the T20)
Ole doesn’t know what he doesn’t know
Here’s the thing. As people we know stuff, and we don’t know stuff. The stuff we know we often don’t remember that we know it, then watching University Challenge or some such quiz programme, a question prompts us to remember that, yes, we do know who starred with Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ((Jane Russell). But most of the time we sit watching as Blythe from Christchurch College Cambridge springs into action and knows the answer to a question that we didn’t even understand.
That is the unknown unknown to quote the great Dick Chaney. Until you are asked the question you don’t know if you know the answer.
Ole is now being asked questions that he thinks he knows the answers to, but he hasn’t heard properly. It is no longer about being passive, or active, or playing the United way, or needing to do this or that. It is a question that needs an answer written on a blackboard resulting in an equation that you or I would never understand in a lifetime.
The question is, can he manage the people in the team. Not the team, it is a metaphysical entity (or not, I made that bit up). It is the people. Young men, tall, fit and amazingly well paid who think they are trying their best, but aren’t. Who think they are paying attention but are really looking out the window in the hope that Miss walks past. Who when they do listen, run out on a Saturday for the exam to discover that the teacher was not giving them the right answers.
We have all had them. The nice teacher, the one that chatted and rarely gave out lines or detention, who when you failed tried to sound tough, but you didn’t believe it and said “come on Sir…!”
So it goes. Ole is not the guy, Not the teacher that you worked for because he was great when you did well, but scary when you tried it on. It’s not his fault. It’s life.
Who should win the Ballon d’Or?
We may be back in the footballing ‘perineum’ that spans the gap between domestic football and internationals but please cheer up. It’s also ‘awards season’! Call your dealer, don your finest tux and prepare to fall asleep on the nightbus to Morden in a vomit spattered state having remembered very little of it.
So, who should get the Ballon D’Or…
Firstly, those who shouldn’t:
Jorginho. I don’t buy it. Italy was a team of mostly ‘B+’ players elevated to an ‘A’ by their remarkable team spirit. Jorginho was good, but was he *that* good? Seems to be getting the plaudits for being a bit of a footballing Zelig (one for the film buffs, not the QPR fans). I mean you could make a case for some of the Juve players too, but they flopped hard in both the Champs League and Serie A.
Ronaldo. Clutch at times for Man Utd but now more than ever seems to rely on filling his boots against the weaker teams. Most padded-out top scorer in a big tournament since… Harry Kane, who would be on the shortlist had he not bell-ended his way out of contention (not so much for his sulk, which seems to be part of modern football, but more for a string of immobile, listless performances that made us collectively wonder whether we had been hypnotised like Shallow Hal).
Now for the shortlist itself.
At 5: N’Golo Kante
The embodiment of Tuchel’s Chelsea Champions league run with some utterly immense performances against other elite teams despite the long season. Looked a bit knackered for the Euros and wasn’t around for the Cup of Euro Nations but has been important(ish) for Chelsea as they top the league.
4: Mo Salah
Perhaps the most in-form player of the lot in recent months but merely good at the end of last season, before going full Jedi this season.
3: Leo Messi.
The injury hit start at PSG shouldn’t distract from how good he was for most of the year including the long-range screamers against both PSG and Man City and an excellent goal the Copa Del Rey final. Finally won proper international silverware so all the fangirling CR7 mob – who must be in their thirties by now – can go back to playing Fortnite in their Avengers pyjamas. Was it even his best Copa America though? The difference this time was that his mates turned up. Ultimately winning for Argentina will do more for his legacy than yet another Ballon D’Or in any case.
Clear winner of last year’s phantom Ballon D’Or and probably not his fault if he doesn’t get it this time around. Missed going out of the Champs League due to injury and has played creditably well in a rank Poland team. He’s also been posting peak Messi/Ronaldo-era goal returns albeit for a dominant team in an easy looking league for strikers.
Great in the Euros when it counted – not least the Bergkamp-esque goal against Switzerland – and decisive with a screamer in a tough Nations’ League final. He’s been doing it all year for his club and has looked a cut above. Even his taunting of Vini Jr seems to have paid off.
Could he be the first player to receive the Ballon D’Or in jail though?
Quarantino, Chairman of the Bored, ITFC
PS: Special mention to Kjaer, Rashford, Mings, Mata and Reguilon who would likely be on the list if it was based on, you know, more important stuff.
Fanmail for Barry
My suggestion in response to Barry, New York’s mail playing Fantasy Football transfers with Liverpool’s squad, is that if it were that easy, why are transfer fees even a thing at all?
The embarrassing suggestion of bringing in Tielemans and Traore to replace ‘Milly’, and Rice, Bellingham and Greenwood in subsequent years means this guy genuinely thinks clubs are just going to let their players run out of contract and swan off to Liverpool to ‘cement a dynasty’. Insigne and Dybala are out of contract at the end of year, why not sign them too Barry?
Genuinely one of the most mind bogglingly ridiculous mails I’ve read in years.
…I agree with Barry’s email about Liverpool’s squad depth – their squad beyond their starting 11 is still the envy of all but a handful of teams. However, I found myself laughing out loud by the end of his email when he dreamed of a Liverpool dynasty as they add Mbappe, Haaland, Tielemans, Traore, Rice, Saka, Bellingham, and Greenwood. Guess what? Newcastle fans are saying the exact same thing. As are Man Utd fans…the list goes on.
Perhaps he forgot that Mbappe is going to Madrid, Saka loves Arsenal, Greenwood wouldn’t cross the divide. That most of these players won’t be allowed to run down their contracts and that the model he suggests will continue to be used by Bayern and PSG (who will also pay more and therefore are the more likely destinations for those players)
Are Chelsea producing too many good players?
On my short train ride into work this morning I was reading about Michael Emanalo maybe taking a job at Newcastle and it got me thinking about what he’d done for Chelsea.
I think alongside Frank Arnesen he was a bit unfairly maligned in not producing viable academy players to challenge for the first team. However, what has now been borne out is it’s a clearly a good 10/15-year process to get it all in place and Chelsea are clearly seeing the benefit of that now.
What I was thinking about though is this; Is Chelsea’s academy now a bit too successful? With the likes of Livaramento, Lamptey, Gallagher (I know he hasn’t left the club yet) Guehi, Tomori, Gilmour, Colwill, Ampudu, Musiala etc all out there playing for other clubs or on loan but having their own path to the first team blocked by European Champions / Academy products, we actually seem to be producing too many good players and it’s benefiting the teams around Chelsea now. They pick up amazing players for a steal when they don’t want to sit and wait for their turn and Chelsea don’t really get the benefit.
It’s not inconceivable that Chelsea could have had the England backline playing for them for the next 5 / 10 years in James (Livaramento), Guehi, Tomori, Chilwell but obviously 3 of those players are far too good to sit and wait for Rudiger, Azpilicueta and Silva to leave the club. A midfieed of Gallagher and Musiala? Hell yes but obviously that can’t happen now.
Not sure of my point apart from Chelsea are spitting players out for fun at the moment and it’s likely only going to get better as the standard keeps going up.
Why Stevie G should not leave Rangers
Apparently Stevie G is top of the shortlist for the vacant Villa job. Now, in my opinion, it’s not time to leave Rangers. Stopping 10 in a row for Celtic was absolutely huge, so he’s done well. The opposing view is that it’s been a bit of a sheetshow at Celtic and he’s only won 1 trophy out of 9.
I think he’d be better off winning some more trophies at Rangers and developing his skills there. This isn’t the Brendan Rodgers situation. Brendan had won literally everything and had nothing more to accomplish in Scotland, even though his leaving wasn’t pretty. There’s still plenty for Gerrard to learn and do there.
Equally I’m not all that sure the Villa job is all that desirable. Saucy Jack has gone and a fair bit of money has been invested in the squad already, so there isn’t a lot more for him to spend presumably. Expectations may outstrip reality as it stands, hence the removal of Dean Smith.
For me the desirable position to hold on for is the next Newcastle job. Let Eddie Howe do the hard lifting of keeping them up, starting the building process and then getting fired for not winning trophies fast enough. *Then* step in.
Or Leicester after Brendan toddles off, which will be soon. To United possibly, which as an ex-Liverpool manager is hard to wrap my noodle around. But Leicester are much further along in the process than Villa and quite clearly an attractive shop window.
If, as is commonly assumed, this is all part of building the CV for the Liverpool job when Jurgen leaves (not soon please), then it would be wise to think carefully. A wrong step for that job will absolutely not be fatal, he’s Stevie G after all, but it won’t be hugely helpful either.
*However*. There was no universe in which I thought he was right to go for the Rangers job. Celtic were on a tear, Rangers were nowhere and I couldn’t see Brendan leaving until 10 in a row was accomplished. Rangers looked like a hiding to nothing to me and I thought it was a terrible first step. And it was very clearly not. So what do I know?
Probably only one thing for sure and that’s that Gerrard will think carefully about the next move and it will absolutely be the right one for him. I want him to be Liverpool manager down the line and I want him to have the skills and experience to absolutely smash it. There’s no rush at all. But he’ll get this one right.
And perhaps in my ultimate super happy fantasy land Stevie G the Liverpool manager beats Brendan the Man United manager to the title one day.
Too much to ask for?
Stevie Gee whizz
In these ever-changing times where so little is certain, we have to find moments of reassurance where we can. For example, I just knew, when I read a mail claiming a Glasgow Rangers supporter either hated Glasgow Rangers or had no clue about Scottish football in an attempt at a defence of Steven Gerrard, that the person who wrote it would put ‘LFC’ in their name.