Man Utd have none of the key ingredients to win a title
Paul Murphy, why exactly are you so sure Manchester United will be back when it has taken Liverpool 30 years to look like they may just win another league title?
There’s bloody good reason as to why opposing teams think officials are intimidated by Old Trafford – Fergie time, that Spurs goal that was way over the line, Rooney’s dive to that broke our unbeaten record.
And I wouldn’t be so confident over that situation continuing as VAR rightly awarded us a goal this season when Aubameyang was nowhere near offside.
The problem you have is that to win the league these days – EVERYTHING needs to run perfectly – you need a top coach, a top team, luck with injuries, an effective director of football and an owner that believes in the club. If any one of these are missing, you’ve no chance of winning the league. And as far as I can see, United don’t have any of these at the moment. It also doesn’t help that City are hoovering up all of the region’s top talent.
I appreciate United are rubbish right now and that hurts but I don’t think United will be back anytime soon – not least because you need a new owner, coach, a director of football and better playing staff to even mount a challenge.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London
Paul Murphy, Manchester seems obsessed with size. Leaving aside the obvious Freudian implications, I thought I’d offer the following observation based on my brief time working in sports media at the turn of the millennium, which largely coincided with what I believe the kids would today call ‘peak Manchester United’, whereby they won three consecutive Premier league titles and a Champions League.
At that time, the club which generated the largest revenues from our content was, by some distance, Liverpool, even in the early-mid Houllier years before the Cup treble of 2001 and later the Champions League win in 2005. Anyone care to guess the second-largest club in terms of revenue? Manchester United perhaps, given that this was the period of perhaps their greatest achievements? No. Arsenal then surely, given this was also perhaps Arsene Wenger’s ‘peak Arsenal’, before that term took on a completely different slant later in the decade? Nope.
It was… Spurs. Yes, the much-venerated Tottenham which in those same years managed zero top-half league finishes, a League Cup win and a couple of FA Cup semi-finals. You remember them, they were managed by the likes of George Graham, David Pleat and Glenn Hoddle; Steffen Iversen and Sergei Rebrov were their top scorers. And they were ‘bigger’ than Manchester United in supporter media consumption.
To be honest I don’t know which club was third biggest as those were the key two, but even coming third in that popularity contest during a period of such dominance isn’t a good look however you view it.
Jonny (I blame the international break) Dance
To Ole or not to Ole
As the debate is raging, thought I’d share my views as a (relatively!) older supporter of United. Not so old that I remember when we were genuinely terrible, but old enough to have some perspective. There is no argument about Ed’s ability to run a football club. He is simply bad at it. When he came in our commercial revenue shot up – because that’s what he’s good at – but it’s been flat for years now, and others have caught up. The things he’s not good at – running a football club – have continued to be poor. But, that’s not his job. His job is to serve up on (presumably) a lovely silver platter about $25m in dividends each year to the ginger offspring of Malcom Glazer. That is the sole task upon which he will be judged by those with the power to judge him. So please stop pretending it matters what you or I care about him, it doesn’t. He will stay. The debate therefore is what to do about Ole.
Keep Ole: I find it hard to judge Ole when he is playing 3 or 4 of Young, Matic, Mata, Perreira and Rojo each week. None of them are remotely good enough for a top 10 premier league side, and I genuinely wonder if they’d make it in the top flight at all. The agonisingly small number of times United have fielded Ole’s team, it’s created chances, kept it tight and had the second best xG in the league. Football cannot be played without a midfield, but that’s how Ole is being judged. The decision to run a tiny squad this year in order to rebuild and clear out deadwood always ran the risk of being caught short, but anyone predicting weeks without the best striker, best midfielder and both full backs would have been viewed as pessimistic. Only City could handle the kind of injuries we’ve seen early this year, so I want to give Ole a chance with his actual first XI.
Sack Ole: Valid excuses aside, I have little idea how Ole wants this team to play. And that is what the coaching part of his job is about. There is no pattern, no consistency and to be honest no sign we’re being coached at all. I don’t believe we’ve scored from a corner since Ole came in. We’re conceding sloppy goals from individual mistakes. On the attack, we’re crossing the ball to a single striker in the box, who couldn’t be worse at that aspect of forward play. The 4231 clearly stifles us going forward, but we stick with it against 10 man defences. Finally, for all Ole’s chat of a pre-season of fitness, we’re the most injured team in the league this young season, almost all muscle injuries.
Long email, but for me you have to give Ole a run of 10 matches with something resembling a first XI before you judge it. No manager could make Ashley Young a world class full back, or make Matic able to turn, or turn Perreira into a footballer. If after 10 matches we look as clueless then absolutely, get rid. But for me, keep him for his positive recruitment strategy, and wait for a truly class, hungry young manager to become available.
Nice piece from Seb about the trials and tribulations of Dele Alli and a poignant reminder why we shouldn’t build kids up to be superstars. We’re all looking for the next best thing, but this obsession with youth to me is inherent in British culture.
Is the desire to build up kids and use them for everything actually killing them?
We user them for political gain (Greta Thunberg), we use them in advertising, we focus on them in every aspect of our lives, infantilising the world so that it is a “safe space” from which kids can thrive.
Dele Alli hasn’t thrived, he’s stagnated, so has Jesse Lingard and many many other “next best things” so I don’t think that the issue is just Spurs related.
Personally I can’t understand the obsession with making the world safer for kids. Where do you stand when squaring off civil liberties against child safety? How much is the responsibility of the parent (rather than the state) or in this case, the England selection policy?
I just think we’re a nation of paedophiles who are obsessed with young kids because our lives have turned out so meaningless. We’re just trying to make other people’s kids lives better, and that, is what is killing them. Dele Alli can’t understand why he’s not the next superstar we all told him he would be yet we created it because of our affinity to masturbate over the achievements of someone elses kids. I think we need to take a long hard look at why we are so obsessed with kids.
Picking an 18 year old for England who has barely played is tantamount to child abuse in my book. He could be on the scrapheap by 23 like Alli, and as a kid that has had many emotional family issues in the past, it’s not going to help his mental health. Just because the rest of our squad is crap, doesn’t mean you should pick the next best things. By extolling the virtues of the next level of kids, we’ve already abandoned the current crop and are putting all the pressure on the new ones, continuing the catch 22.
Time for some tough love for a change
Finally an article which raises the question of Dele’s career. This is a player for whom we still sing his name louder than any other, which is a slight curiosity given his lack of form for two seasons now.
That we do is testament to what we know he is capable of. The evidence of a player with swagger, a tad nasty, goalscoring and marauding could well be applied to Steven Gerrard twenty years ago. There were those of us who thought we’d found that player who does what opponents hate, drifting into space at the pivotal moment to cause ultimate damage. Think Lamapard or Bergkamp – players who’s timing and audacity came to be so synonymous.
But the tailing off has, as Seb says, been due to multiple factors none more so than his role changing. One thing that isn’t mentioned is that it’s Kane’s role which has so impacted Dele. Kane isn’t the same player he was for three consecutive seasons while Dele is.
Kane now drops deeper and deeper. He doesn’t loiter as he once did, and we don’t have overlapping full backs wiping in inviting crosses as we also once did.
If Spurs are to get the most out of a player of rare talent then they need to figure out how to make the team work for him. This might sound like pandering but we’ve seen how ineffective he is in midfield or out wide, and how devastating he is in that deep lying attacking position.
Or, and this might just work, play him as a striker and have Kane deployed behind him. We know he has the finishing ability.
Mourinho the pantomime villain
Great article from Seb Stafford-Bloor with regards to Mourinho’s pantomime villain act. And it really is exactly that. An Act.
I, for one, could never stand the self-importance and self-regard of the self-proclaimed Special One since 2004, particularly having left my beloved United broken beyond repair. He should never have been appointed. But having seen him starring in an advert for some betting firm, I found myself warming to him, just a little bit.
I know online gambling companies are seen as the devil in these parts, and for good reason. But the way he sends himself – and his persona – up shows that he can’t possibly be as much of a bastard as he’s commonly perceived, can he?
You know the ad I’m referring to? It’s set in a version of his mansion and full of subtle touches – the trophy room with an empty case for his Premier League 2006 Winner’s medal, the framed newspaper clipping on the wall with the headline UNITED CLINCH SECOND and the topiary hedge shaped into three fingers held aloft. It was quite funny and knowing. Here is a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously. It’s almost – almost – enough to make me actually LIKE the cunt. But I just can’t!
Tell me I’m not the only one who has seen this advert? It just seemed so very un-Jose. I’ve only seen it once and I can’t be sure I haven’t dreamed the whole thing!
Lee, forever dreaming
Quite simply Jamie,Belfast MUFC (I would take hammerings over dour draws a la Rochdale and Alkmaar), the word dynasty (as per the dictionary definition) relates to a series of rulers or leaders. Shankly, Paisley, Fagan, Dalglish are the series of leaders I was referring to in my mail. Over a near 30 year period they maintained an ethos which brought a huge amount of success (no need for me to list the honours I’m sure).
The anomaly of the Ferguson years is just that. No league title for 26 years prior to his first and none in the 6 since he’s left. 65% of your league titles were won by that (very talented) single manager.
James Outram, Wirral
Alternative winners and losers
Hats off to DC, BAC for his alternate winners and losers, really funny!
Dave (poor Wayne will never leave his mobile unattended), Winchester Spur