Tag Archives: doom

Que Sera, Sera

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The recent Champions League QF between Liverpool and City proved to be a bit of a conundrum, didn’t it? Whilst the eventual result spared us the possibility of the idiot neighbours being crowned Europe’s finest for at least another year, it’s left us with the utterly nauseating prospect of the scousers winning it. What a charmed life they lead in that competition. It doesn’t matter that they remain a completely unremarkable side if you discount Salah’s heroics this season; somehow they’re in the semi-finals again drawn against sodding Roma.

I do have to give Liverpool fans some credit though as they routinely treat the Champions League with the reverence it deserves. Although the ‘famous European nights at Anfield’ legend is teeth-grindingly irritating to all of us who’ve been force-fed this mantra over the years, they genuinely believe it to the extent it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s been repeated so often that it’s now accepted as fact and actually bears fruit for them on a regular basis.

Despite being one of the cringiest things I’ve ever seen, you can’t deny that pre-organised ‘coach welcome’ thing they did against City worked an absolute treat. Flares going off, missiles thudding against coach windows, loads of singing… it was nothing like as sinister as was subsequently claimed but it was more than enough to put City off their stroke. Whilst my natural inclination would be to steer well clear of anything so staged and contrived, part of me at least respects the fact the scousers can still rouse themselves for such occasions.

Hypothetically speaking, say if United were ever inclined to put on a similar show, do you reckon we could still manage it? I have my doubts. The days of Roma and Leeds getting legged all over the forecourt seem a world away now. If the Liverpool team coach turned up for a Champions League tie at OT there’d be more chance of them getting ambushed by selfie sticks and autograph hunters than a hail of bottles and cans.

If you think I’m exaggerating here then just cast your mind back to the recent Seville home game and ask yourself, ‘would Anfield have been so deathly quiet?’ Would it bollocks. The uncomfortable truth is they can still do it when required whereas we’re reliant on a couple of hundred J stand barmies clad in garish bobble hats and Adidas Originals to generate any kind of atmosphere.

Due to deadlines and time constraints, I’m writing this pre-match so I’ve got no idea what happened at Wembley against Spurs last weekend. Given you’re reading this a week later, the players have either been revelling in self-congratulatory bullshit on Instagram all week or they’ve been keeping a very low profile having neglected to turn up once again. Quite honestly, I’m struggling to care either way about the bunch of frauds at present. Whatever will be, will be…

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This team do my head in. Just as you manage to convince yourself that they are making some progress and have moved beyond that 4 years and counting spell of looking like a disinterested rabble, they go and turn in that West Brom performance. All the good vibes and positivity generated by that Lazarus-like comeback in the derby obliterated in the space of 90 stupefyingly predictable minutes. It’s just so completely typical of them, the utter bastards.

I dunno. I suppose I’m as guilty as anyone of trying to accentuate the positives under Mourinho but you can’t continue to excuse afternoons like that. It was flashback to what was witnessed week in, week out during Van Gaal’s 2nd season. Quite simply, we should have moved beyond those kind of results by now. It’s all well and good producing a stirring comeback to beat City, but it means nothing if you hand them the title by failing to show against rock bottom relegation certs a week later. It’s just embarrassing.

My hope for the summer is that Mourinho just goes for it. No doubt we’ll spend big yet again but I’d be more encouraged if he concentrated solely on shipping out some of the deadwood. Fuck that, actually just bin ALL of the deadwood. Let’s face it, if we don’t challenge for the title next season (which we evidently won’t, because we’re still capable of losing at home to West fucking Brom) then Jose will end up falling out with absolutely everybody and getting sacked anyway. This is his last season coming up, so he may as well just go all out now rather than continuing with the never-ending re-building job he’s currently embroiled in.

If it were me, I’d start by asking the goalie if he wants to stay. If he doesn’t, then I’d shake his hand, wish him all the best for the future and drive him to the airport. He’s been an absolute star and has already suffered enough. I’d then bin every fullback at the club – the dreamy Dutch one, the rubbish Italian one and both of the failed winger ones. Smalling and Jones will be placed on the transfer list with immediate effect; Eric Bailly gets to stay with the proviso he stops being injured.

Fellaini should get the remaining few weeks of his contract cancelled for having the cheek to turn down a completely unmerited new deal. Seriously, who the fuck does he think he is? Pogba gets to stay on the condition he parts company with his agent and endeavours to become the player we all know he could be. Mata, Herrera and Matic are permitted to remain at the club, mainly due to the fact it would be foolish to get rid of the entire playing staff in the space of a single transfer window.

Jesse Lingard should be congratulated for his remarkable upturn in form but warned about his conduct off the field and tested for undiagnosed ADHD. Lukaku gets to stay on condition he practises basic passing and trapping a ball over the summer. Martial should be binned for looking permanently miserable and having a very irritating fan club on social media. Marcus Rashford to be offered a new deal on the condition he gets himself a girlfriend who’ll make him realise spending 18 hours a day in Lingard’s company is not only mentally exhausting, it’s also affecting his development as a functioning adult.

I’m done with them for now. See you in August.

Copyright Red News – April 2018

www.rednews.co.uk

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Mistletoe and Whine

Northampton Town v Manchester United - EFL Cup Third Round

As December arrives, the run of victories needed to signal that progress has been made is still proving maddeningly elusive. Form-wise, it’s exactly the same story as it’s been for much of the last 3 seasons – we win a couple, draw a couple, then there’s a demoralising defeat. Then the cycle starts again. And again. This team never gets as far as turning a corner as it appears destined to go round in circles indefinitely – we’re stuck on a merry-go-round of mediocrity.

One of the curious managerial ticks of Mourinho, besides the booting water bottles and getting himself sent off, is the fact he’s always treated the league cup with an almost unnatural level of respect. Walking away from OT after the West Ham league game last Sunday, the frustration of another draw was compounded by the surety that we’d batter them 3 days later. If only those brief outbreaks of free-flowing football witnessed in the Europa League and EFL Cup could be replicated in the league, eh?

Not a chance. The latest brace of squandered points again came courtesy of the team’s recently acquired habit of conceding within the last 10 minutes, this time directly as a result of Marouane Fellaini’s untimely introduction at Goodison Park. As I’ve stated a number of times previously, and I don’t say this flippantly, the bog-brushed Belgian is football’s version of the Ebola virus. He is a menace and he is dangerous.

Quite why Mourinho, like Moyes and Van Gaal before him, seems to view Fellaini as some sort of trusted lieutenant remains a complete mystery. With his first touch of the ball he passed straight to the opposition, with his second he stuck out a leg and gave away a penalty, then with his third he passed the ball straight out of play. This was the sum total of his contribution having presumably been sent on to add some composure and help see the game out. Composure? I honestly wouldn’t trust him to make a cup of tea without setting himself on fire. I’m not even joking.

If we’re looking for reasons why we continue to struggle, then one needs look no further than the fact that this clown has now racked up 100 appearances for Manchester United. I honestly have no idea how he continues to feature at all. Is he really, really good in training or something? Does his contract stipulate that he has to play a certain number of games? Does he possess incriminating evidence regarding the sexual predilections of an unnamed Glazer family member? Am I missing something? Just… why?

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Since January is fast approaching, it’s fair to assume that we’ll be active in the transfer market again in search of defensive reinforcements – this despite Ed Woodward stating unequivocally at the fans’ forum a couple of months back that there would be no new additions until the summer. Rojo, Jones and Darmian continue to look like disasters waiting to happen, Smalling and Shaw are forever injured… the only one who I’ve any real confidence in is Eric Bailly and of course no sooner is he back from injury, then he’s off to Gabon for the African Cup of Nations.

Antonio Valencia appears to be another Mourinho favourite despite being routinely average week-in, week-out. This is another part of the problem. Because his colleagues are so consistently error prone, journeyman trundlers like Tony gain an unmerited significance in the greater scheme of things. It’s a nonsense really, that an unspectacular winger who was initially moved back as emergency cover has now made the right back berth his own. Quite simply, he’s nothing special. He’s a great athlete, he diligently runs up and down, he makes tackles and he attempts crosses. Jesus, we may as well sign Micah Richards if being merely perfunctory is deemed acceptable.

Instead of signing another 2-3 players in January, it would give me more pleasure if we avoided spending altogether and instead binned 4-5 off the wage bill who are going absolutely nowhere at OT. Memphis, Ashley Young, Schweinsteiger, Fellaini… that’s just for starters. Let’s just get rid and start again. We can persevere with the remaining lot, try and drum some sense into them and if cover is required, farm the youth and reserve teams and let’s see who we unearth. It would be a gamble, obviously… but I’d rather see youngsters given a chance as opposed to bang-average senior pros who don’t have any future here beyond the end of their contracts.

Admittedly, there’s an element of ‘cutting your nose off to spite your face’ in this, but why not? For the last 3 years we’ve had a steady influx of new faces each transfer window and it’s got us precisely nowhere. We’ve spent about £300M at the last count and for what return exactly? We’re on our 3rd manager in 4 years, we aren’t playing any better and the squad is still littered with crap players. Enough’s enough.

It doesn’t matter if we finish mid-table because the way things are going, we’re going to finish mid-table anyway. What’s the point in finishing 6th and qualifying for the Europa League again? That’s doing us no favours whatsoever this year, if anything we’re at a disadvantage given how participation affects preparation time for league games. I genuinely think it would work to our advantage if we resisted throwing money at any further stopgaps, and instead focused on clearing out the dross whilst waiting for proper targets to become available in the summer.

Anyway, I think that’s me done for 2016. Fellaini, Brexit, Trump… it’s been an absolute stinker. Merry Christmas, everybody.

Copyright Red News – December 2016

www.rednews.co.uk

Yesterday’s Men

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During his time at Chelsea, every Mourinho smirk, quip and raised eyebrow had the English press pack in raptures. In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a very different narrative being played out now he’s Manchester United’s manager. José is the out-of-touch dinosaur and instead it’s Pep, Poch and Jurgen Klopp getting journalists into an engorged state. That’s absolutely fine. The rush to hand out plaudits and prizes after 6 or 7 games is utterly laughable, as City’s recent coronation as ‘the invincibles’ proved quite succinctly.

When I was a kid, I can recall my old man telling me not to even bother looking at the league table until after 10 games or so. At that point, you get a fair indication of what’s what given each team will have played a couple of tough fixtures so you can properly assess form. It’s pretty obvious stuff, really… but football in 2016 doesn’t care for a sense of perspective or reality, it’s all about hyperbole. As Sparky notes elsewhere in this issue, everything either has to be “the best ever” or “the worst ever.”

The truth of course, is that United are somewhere in-between. I closed last month’s optimism-fuelled column with a note of caution regarding the impending Manchester derby – a wise move given how it duly managed to obliterate the early season feel-good factor within the space of 45 minutes. How very sobering. Even more depressingly, the resultant hangover has proven difficult to shift as we head into a very testing autumnal run of fixtures.

The 1st of these, away at Anfield, was negotiated successfully with the deployment of some vintage Mourinho nullifying tactics. As unpalatable as some might find it, the ‘go for a 0-0 and anything else’s a bonus’ mindset was entirely predictable and executed perfectly. 35% possession would have made Van Gaal wince and despite the lack of chances, in this instance the end result justified the means. With Chelsea and City around the corner, the last thing required was another defeat.

Clearly, a United team being sent out with such limited ambition is going to irritate a sizeable number of people. Mourinho’s willingness to exercise such a game plan was cited as a reason some were against him ever being given the job in the first place – his propensity for negativity being a ‘betrayal of our attacking traditions’ and all that.

Personally, I don’t see a problem. If he was setting us up to bore teams into submission every game like we tried to for much of the last 3 seasons, then I’d be complaining as loud as anyone. But he isn’t. It’s not Southampton at home, it’s Liverpool away… and the result is everything. There have been plenty of abject games at Anfield over the last 20 years, where typically we’ve turned in half-hearted performances and been soundly beaten. The last time we went there and properly dominated them was the 3-1 win back in December ’97 – it just doesn’t happen very often. So all things considered I’m quite content with a single point, thank you very much.

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If Mourinho has discovered that his time as the darling of the English press is over, it’s nothing compared to the mensis horribilis that Wayne Rooney has just endured. Despite the fact that the football watching public have long been frustrated by his fading abilities, it’s only in the last 4 weeks that the cabal of media/ex-pros and managers have finally admitted the game’s up too.

It probably took me longer than most to recognise change was needed as I’ve usually sported a pair of blinkers where Wazza’s failings are concerned. I’ve been content to overlook his leaden feet with increasingly redundant arguments about his effort and work rate – a will to win that was still good enough to craft us an FA Cup winning goal from nothing as recently as May, let’s not forget. The reality however, is that the bad has outweighed the good for months, if not years now.

The ongoing debate about his current/future position has always been skewed by the fact that many people can’t admit the most obvious detail – Wayne simply isn’t a top class midfielder. He just doesn’t possess the requisite touch and passing consistency. The notion that a striker can drop back and influence games from a deeper role as the years take their toll is a convenient one, but how many players have truly managed to achieve this? Charlton, Dalglish and Keegan perhaps… though none of these played in the current era with its unrelenting speed and intensity.

The desire is still there with Rooney, his effort and work rate haven’t diminished despite regular claims to the contrary. The problem is simply down to his declining physical state – he’s just not as quick as he was 10 years ago. The brain sees the pass/anticipates the incoming tackle, but the feet are no longer as quick to react. Sadly, it’s probably just a natural consequence of him doing this week in, week out for the last 14 years.

And for 12 of those years, Rooney has been wearing a United shirt – a key performer during the most successful era in the club’s history. 500 games, 250 goals… yet many will be delighted to see the back of him when he inevitably moves on at the end of the season. Not me. Nor am I joining in with those gleefully revelling in his current predicament and enjoying the opportunity to stick the boot in. Despite the fact his career at Old Trafford seems to be heading to a somewhat ignominious conclusion, he deserves far better than that.

Copyright Red News – October 2016

www.rednews.co.uk