Van de Beek at centre-half for Man United? Why not?

Sarah Winterburn

Risky business

‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made same promise to Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri in risky move’ is quite the headline on the Daily Mirror website. And we know that when we start thinking ‘quite the headline’, it will be a Jake Polden special. We admire/despair of him in equal measure.

And what is this ‘risky move’? Well it has already been downgraded to it being ‘apparently’ a risky move by the opening paragraph, at which point the bullsh*t alarms are going off.

‘Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has apparently made a risky move in promising both new signings Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri regular first team football at Manchester United.’

So his ‘risky move’ was to suggest that his two rather expensive new signings might actually play first-team football for their new club. Why oh why did he not play it safe and tell them that actually, they’re a bit sh*t and they will probably never make it? Silly Ole.


REFUSE collectors

Talking of Facunco Pellistri…

‘REVEALED: Man United REFUSED to pay one-off £10m fee to activate Facundo Pellistri’s release clause because of ‘club policy’ – and rejected plea to loan him back to Penarol because he’s going straight into the first team’

A headline of that size can only be the MailOnline, who are more than happy to utterly mislead you into thinking that Manchester United have REFUSED to pay something they should for Pellistri when actually, all they have done is REFUSED to pay the fee in full and will pay in two instalments like, well, most transfers.
Timing is everything
A lesson in how to harness Jadon Sancho clicks from The Sun website as this March feature…

‘Man Utd wonderkid Shola Shoretire has been likened to Jay-Jay Okocha and played for the Under-19 team aged just 14’

…magically becomes this October feature:

‘Man Utd wonderkid Shola Shoretire could be the answer to missing out on Jadon Sancho and plays like Jay-Jay Okocha’

What a Boon.


Better James

‘RYAN GIGGS wants Dan James to step up after Manchester United failed to land Jadon Sancho. The Wales winger’s Old Trafford career looked to be under threat as the Red Devils chased the England wideman over the summer window’ – The Sun.

Phew. Now that move has fallen through, James can get back to *checks notes* not even making it onto a Premier League bench since 45 disastrous minutes on the opening day of the season.


Line up in line is all I remember

Jadon Sancho might not have moved but that has not stopped the Jadon Sancho stories, with The Sun website throwing this classic into the mix:

‘How Man Utd should have lined up if Solskjaer’s transfer targets had landed including Sancho, Grealish and Upamecano’

Excellent SEO work there, chaps.

So it turns out that Manchester United would have discarded Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba in a heartbeat to play Edinson Cavani, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho and Thiago.

But most bizarre is their inclusion of Donny van de Beek, who in reality cannot get into a Manchester United XI even without those new transfers.


Wing and a prayer

Donny van de Beek should not despair at his bit-part role so far because the Manchester Evening News – in their admirable efforts to suggest that the summer was not a sh*t-show after all – have some good news for him:

‘Manchester United summer signing gives Donny van de Beek an extra role’

Yay. Is it as a minder for Facundo Pellistri? Now that would be a ‘risky move’.

No, it turns out that it’s Alex Telles who ‘gives Donny van de Beek an extra role’ because he is an attacking left-back and that means Van de Beek can play on the left wing.

Is he a left-winger? Has he ever played on the left wing? Does he even want to play on the left wing? An extensive trawl of the Dutchman’s career reveals that he once played seven minutes on the left against Utrecht in 2015.

Presumably that’s when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer got the idea for this masterplan, and not at the very second when somebody asked him last week why Van de Beek was not yet part of his starting Premier League XI and he started waffling that he himself used to play “sometimes right-wing, left-wing, centre forward, 10 and Donny I think is one of those that the coach would always love to have in their squad”.

He continued: “He’s a different type of left-sided player compared to Dan James and Marcus Rashford of course. But coming inside there, finding good pockets, making good runs – yeah why not?”

Because of course all good tactical plans start with a “why not?”. Especially when you are trying to pretend that you actually wanted to sign a player you absolutely did not need.

Why not just play him at centre-half? After all, “tactically he’s gone through the Ajax system and Dutch football is tactical”.


Can you dig it?

Headline on the Daily Star website: ‘Kepa Arrizabalaga aims dig at Chelsea boss Frank Lampard after Spain clean sheet’

Sub-headline on the Daily Star website: ‘Chelsea outcast Kepa Arrizabalaga has aimed a sly dig at Blues boss Frank Lampard following his clean sheet in Spain’s 0-0 draw with Portugal on international duty.’

Opening line on the Daily Star website: ‘Kepa Arrizabalaga has aimed a subtle dig at Chelsea boss Frank Lampard following his appearance for Spain on Wednesday.’

Actual quotes from Kepa Arrizabalaga: “I’ve felt confidence, at ease. I think it was a good game and I’m happy with the confidence of the coach. When I’m needed to help on the pitch, I try to do the best possible. It was a game of great intensity. [We had] more control in the first half.”

Sly. Subtle. Entirely imagined.


F365 shithouse headline of the day

‘New signing Cavani already thinking about Man Utd departure’

“It would be very nice to be able to play at Boca one day.”

Shameless international week nonsense.


Recommended reading of the day

Richard Jolly on the issues facing Gareth Southgate

Rory Smith on Argentine footballers running out



Recommended viewing of the day