Despite a mixed bag of results on paper, there’s no disputing that last month’s testing run of fixtures proved quite… umm… testing. It was an absolute horror show at times, and proved that early season predictions that some sort of renaissance was underway were well wide of the mark. At the moment, United look to be heading towards mid-table rather than mounting a title challenge. The team is all over the place and we look a mess. Rather than settling in, instead (as many predicted) Mourinho has started to lash out.
During the 27 years of stability under Fergie, we managed to swerve most of the crises that befall other football clubs. Dressing room dissent was dealt with swiftly, underperforming players were removed and any established cliques were abolished. There was no going back for those who’d served their purpose or who fell below the standards he imposed at the club. It didn’t matter if you were Jim McGregor or David Beckham, upset him and you were history.
As supporters, we were complicit in this too. Fergie could get away with making unpopular decisions because of his longevity and his track record – he just wasn’t questioned by the vast majority. (It might be worth adding that I’m talking purely about football decisions here, given that he was rightly called out on his support for the Glazers and his indifference to the wider issues pertaining to the 2005 takeover.)
Post-Fergie, it’s a very different script at Old Trafford nowadays. It started with Moyes, continued with Van Gaal and now a few months into his reign, we’re seeing it with Mourinho too. The minute there’s a few bad results or questionable team selections, the spotlight falls on the manager and his whole tenure is called into question. In other words, we’ve headed down the same path as every other set of dumbo football fans across the country.
The players in place now are a mixed bag that have been brought to the club by 4 different managers, as well as a couple that were reputedly signed by Woodward alone (presumably on the advice of others.) As a group they have failed to adapt to changing systems and appear to lack any kind of team spirit or pack mentality. Despite containing several self-proclaimed ‘big men’, they are soft-centered and crumble under the slightest pressure. They lack bottle, leadership, fight and initiative – it’s a toxic mix of has-beens, maybes and never gonna bes.
Add to this the fact they’ve now successfully seen off two managers whilst absolving themselves of any kind of culpability. I’m aware that Moyes is the John Major of football and Van Gaal was well past his sell-by date – both deserved to go – but this all increases the players’ sense of entitlement and demonstrates their expertise in passing the buck. Enough is enough on that score. If there’s a problem within that dressing room it’s with them as a group, not the new manager. If Mourinho decides the way to proceed is naming and shaming a few in an attempt to get a reaction, then he should be applauded. If they don’t like it, then they can find a club that’s more tolerant of half-arsed mediocrity.
The camera-friendly, ‘just happy to be here!’ mentality is probably best summed up by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who Mourinho was quick to point towards the exit door within a couple of weeks of taking the job. We’re constantly reminded by his friends and ex-colleagues what a great guy he is, and how they’re disgusted at his treatment, yet what has Bastian actually done here over the last 18 months other then pose for selfies and post self-pitying, #sadface missives on social media? Good riddance to him when he does finally get off his sizeable backside for a similarly underwhelming stint at the Seattle Blue Sox, or whoever else is daft enough to hand him another contract.
If Schweinsteiger is such a proud professional with a burning desire to play football, then he would have listened to what Mourinho was telling him and done what 99% of other footballers do in such circumstances. When informed they’re no longer part of a manager’s plans, most players simply instruct their agents to find them another club. All this nonsense about him loving United is just posturing. The only thing Schweinsteiger admires about United currently is the enormous pay cheque he picks up at the end of each month.
As Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and his cronies at Bayern Munich are so appalled at poor Basti’s plight, then rather than bitching about United and Mourinho, why don’t they pick up the phone and ask him to come back? Exactly. Of course they won’t – because they aren’t that stupid or deludedly sentimental. It’s exactly the same reason Klopp will never hand Gerrard another contract at Liverpool, despite him hanging round Melwood like some sort of lovesick ex-boyfriend. Bayern knew Schweinsteiger was finished 2-3 years ago, the same everyone else in football. Well, everyone except Manchester United, rather embarrassingly.
Finally, like me you’re probably still trying to get your head round the fact that Donald Trump has won the United States presidential election. A power hungry, bad tempered xenophobe running the free world. Scary stuff, eh? Never fear though, as this could actually work to our advantage. Okay, so the end of the world might now be inevitable during our lifetimes, but if he does push the button, at least it could be next May with Liverpool poised to win the title and City in the Champions League final. Keep your fingers crossed…
Copyright Red News – November 2016