Tag Archives: paul pogba

Tired of Waiting for You

I’ve long since lost all patience with the collection of mercenaries and pretenders who comprise the bulk of the club’s current playing staff. There’s a handful who are still tolerable, but the majority are a complete waste of space who simply don’t merit their exalted status as United players. Fair play then Ralf Rangnick, for seeing through the facades and challenging some of the bullshit emanating from the changing rooms at Carrington. 

If Lingard is requesting extra time off and Martial is declining to play, I’m content that this information is out in the open. Call them all out and remove privileges until they are earned. Ole used the softly, softly approach and that didn’t elicit any response so I’m all in favour of Ralf trying something a little more robust. I strongly doubt it’ll have much effect, but it’s reassuring to see all the same. The last person who employed such a tactic was Mourinho and we all know how that ended up.

The main positive of the January window was the departure of Martial, even if this only proves to be temporary. It didn’t take Seville very long to realise what they were dealing with; indeed it only took 3 games for them to rule out the possibility of a permanent deal in the summer. It’s all so predictable. Guaranteed that he’ll be back for pre-season with all the enthusiasm of a disconsolate Labrador, raring to underperform for his 5th manager at the club. There’s not a hope of a another football club being daft enough to offer this fraudster £250,000 a week so we’re stuck with him for another 2 years at least. 

There are too many players, senior pros included, content to pick up vastly inflated salaries without giving enough back. Pogba is the prime example, the recent Madrid game once again highlighting his innate shortcomings when placed under the slightest pressure. He’s an absolute disaster of a footballer. Showboating against a tactically deranged Leeds team means nothing if you can’t show up days later for a game of genuine significance. I’m not picking on him here, there’s no vendetta. I’m just sick to the back teeth of seeing the same wretched performance each time he faces an opponent unwilling to give him a dozen touches on the ball.

The presence of ponderous Paul has helped to cultivate the myth that Fred is a decent player, whereas in reality he’s at the same level Eric Djemba-Djemba was 15 years ago. There’s no doubt that Fred is a nice lad, always tries his best and never forgets his Mum’s birthday – but worthy of a place in United’s midfield? Give over. He’s even got a burgeoning fan club on twitter now thanks to a few people who have been going long enough to know better. Being Brazilian, a decent human and not being Pogba does not mean he’s good enough for United. I’ve seen enough to know this for a fact. 

Another one with a weird fan club is Cavani, based on half a dozen games last season when he appeared to be motivated at the prospect of playing for the club. Considering he’s spent the entirety of the last 15 years based in Europe, it’s no coincidence that he only developed homesickness once he arrived at United. It’s the same nonsense that enables Pogba to spend 3 months pissing about, sorry “rehabilitating” in Dubai whenever he fancies it. Lingard being given time off to get his head together? He’s 29 years old with the personality of a hyperactive infant. He needs a stronger dose of Ritalin, not additional holidays. 

Perhaps the most startling loss of form this season has been Marcus Rashford, a haunted figure now in comparison with the confident young player of 2-3 years ago. It’s not just that his development has stalled, he’s literally gone backwards. The body language speaks volumes and he has the look of someone who’d rather be anywhere else other than slogging away up front for United. My mind keeps going back to his almost meltdown in the Europa League final last year. Desperately looking towards the bench hoping to be substituted whilst Ole dithered, stuck for which cards to play with penalties looming. 

Clearly, something is not right. This was supposed to be the year in which he kicked on after playing for most of last season carrying a variety of ailments. I don’t buy the theory that his off-pitch interests have interfered with his football development either. Anyone can see that he’s got half a dozen people managing the carefully crafted, St Marcus the Role Model thing – he’s certainly not dreamt that up himself. Something will have to change quickly though. His contract runs until the end of next season with the option of an extra year. His PR team might be looking for alternative employment if his career takes him to Watford or Brighton next.  

Last week’s derby perfectly encapsulated the disgraceful state of United at the moment. Misfiring strikers (those who can be arsed to turn up), a midfield incapable of keeping possession and a quartet of Championship-standard defenders. I was giving Ralf credit for sussing out Wan Bissaka as the weakest link a couple of weeks ago following his extended absence. But no, he’s back in the team again for some unfathomable reason. City had an absolute field day against him, targeting him relentlessly with his team mates blissfully ignorant as to what was occurring. 

Watching their effort and industry in comparison to our sorry bunch was incredibly sobering. There’s not just a gap between the sides, there’s a gaping chasm. The cliche goes that derby day is a great leveller, but none of our team seemed in the slightest bit aware of the fact. Christ, half of them turned up wearing sky blue boots, the utter dickheads. We were embarrassed at Old Trafford earlier in the season but there was no intention of settling any scores or seeking revenge. That last half an hour was an embarrassment. 92% possession in the final 15 minutes. At the very least you were hoping for a two footed lunge resulting in a red card and serious injury. Nope, nothing. 

I can handle losing to them. It’s expected because they’re miles better than us at present. What I can’t accept is the inevitability of the complete capitulation that occurs time and again. No presence, no backbone, no leadership. United can swap CEOs and managers all they want but it’s about time someone held this group of players accountable. Fergie once described the aftermath of the 5-1 as one of his lowest points in football, driving home and putting his head under a pillow. How many of this current lot were mourning last Sunday’s result? Roll on the end of the season, it can’t come soon enough. 

Copyright Red News – March 2022

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Things Fall Apart

I strongly suspected things would go pear-shaped sooner rather than later this season, but the speed and manner in which everything unravelled was extraordinary. Barring 45 minutes versus Leeds and half an hour against Newcastle, United have been uniformly abject since August. The notion we’d reached a new low by conceding 5 at home to Liverpool was quickly scuppered by the most decrepit Derby performance I’ve ever seen in person. For benchmarking purposes, note I was present at both the 5-1 at Maine Road and the 6-1 at Old Trafford. As far as worst ever months go, this is right up there.

Games have resembled car crashes in recent weeks. Ronaldo has managed to pull his teammates from the wreckage on a handful of occasions, but more often than not he’s been a traumatised bystander trying to make sense of the carnage in front of him. Quite what has happened to Shaw and Maguire since the Euros is inexplicable. They’ve not just suffered a drop in form, it’s been more of a plummet from several thousand feet. The level of ineptitude on display from the pair has been staggering at times, rivalling anything witnessed in the post-Ferguson era.

Sadly, Ole is done. There was no coming back from what’s happened over the last couple of months and his departure was inevitable. Functioning football clubs would have cut him loose ahead of the funeral pyre at Watford, but this is Manchester (United) and to borrow the words of Tony Wilson, “we do things differently here”. I said a couple of issues back we would regret that 3 year contract and I take no pleasure in being proved right. If I could foresee that, why couldn’t anyone with any authority at the club? Solskjaer had 12 months left on his deal and flunked his biggest test to date in Gdańsk spectacularly, yet Woodward decided the time was right to offer him a new contract. It’s mind blowing, really.

There’s no ire directed at Ole here. He made some progress in developing the squad and took things as far as he could. At times it looked like his methods were paying dividends but the next setback was always around the corner. Despite numerous encouraging signs and tantalising glimpses of consistency developing, United still resemble a collection of expensively assembled individuals as opposed to a football team. It sounds harsh, but it’s difficult to ascertain precisely what influence the coaching staff has over the players. Solskjaer clearly tried his best but ultimately, that alone was not enough.

The idea of accepting the manager was out of his depth yet still being respectful and supportive of the guy proved beyond some people, unfortunately. As the banner spotted in Bergamo correctly asserted, ‘the rot starts at the top’. Despite being fully aware of this, the risible fancam clowns continued to round on Solskjaer with each defeat leading to a fresh round of insults and oleout hashtags. Monetising the misery and inviting toxicity into what was already an embarrassing state of affairs for everyone connected with the club.

It got so bad that a sizeable proportion of the club’s younger online fanbase declared outright war on the likes of you and I. According to a large minority of twitter gobshites, matchgoers were a major contributor to United’s problems because they were guilty of actively supporting the club. There’s no room for nuance or perspective with these lads. The hardline stance they took was admirably bonkers as even wanting United to win became frowned upon. If you weren’t hurling abuse and hanging effigies of Solskjaer off the Stretford End, you were basically a Glazer collaborator. 

This isn’t a dig at all United’s overseas supporters. Plenty are knowledgeable and dedicated and have followed the club for years. That said, a large number of the idiots spouting utter drivel on social media currently are deluded if they think their opinion counts for shit. Let’s put it this way: I could quite easily declare myself a diehard fan of the Chicago Bulls tomorrow. I could buy loads of merchandise, join online forums and get up at 3am every week to watch their games. I might become quite opinionated and be able to hold my own in conversation after a while.

To be clear, my disdain for the eReds has nothing to do with age, geography or race. Football is a global sport and United are proud to boast a fanbase from all over the world. Everybody is welcome. However, cultural appropriation is a thing too. Even if I dedicated every waking hour to agonising over the fortunes of the Chicago Bulls, would I ever feel emboldened enough to lecture Illinois locals on how to support their team? Not a chance. Because no matter how hard I tried to become an authority on the intricacies of the NBA and US basketball, I’d always be some English dickhead talking out of his arse.

The precise timing of Solskjaer’s departure was irrelevant and targeting him for abuse would have served no purpose whatsoever. At some point in the coming months we’ll see Zidane, ten Hag or Rodgers appointed and that’ll signal the whole cycle beginning again. No matter who replaces Ole, he’ll inherit a similar set of problems due to the serial incompetence of key decision makers at boardroom level. Despite the supposed ‘cultural reboot’ that took place a year ago, there still appears to be a jarring disconnect between the football and commercial ambitions of the club.

This brings me back to the time-honoured tradition of slagging off Paul Pogba. I know, I’m bored of talking about him too and I sincerely hope it won’t be for much longer. Why on earth are the club still offering a new contract when he’s no longer even worthy of a starting role? The fact he’s now holed up in Dubai infinitely (again) comes as no surprise whatsoever. Imagine being so deluded that you still believe the clown will actually start delivering at some point. I have no idea what he offers the club other than the fact he’s a walking meme who’s unfathomably popular with the kind of fan who provides app downloads and endless re-tweets.

The Jesse Lingard situation highlights another case of financial negligence. After enjoying a career renaissance during his loan spell at West Ham, the player’s stock was probably at an all-time high. The club resisted a number of offers in the summer yet now face the prospect of losing him for free. Lingard was never going to start games so what was the logic in keeping him another year to sit on the bench? Is anyone accountable for these decisions at any point? Don’t even get me started on the subject of Donny van de Beek.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. With the club on the crest of a slump, there was media CEO Phil Lynch waxing lyrical about United’s use of fan sentiment graphs to gauge player approval rates. We’ve just shipped 7 goals at home to Liverpool and City and they’ve got analysts checking on the feelings of faceless bots and impressionable kids. Rather than racking their brains and frantically composing damage limiting tweets, the people in charge of the club’s social media would be better advised to read the room and maintain a dignified silence for a couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s better just to say nothing.  

It’s beyond them though. A few hours after Ole’s departure was announced, there was one final indignity in store as the club published a farewell interview with him looking tear-stained and utterly bereft. Hanging a club legend out on view like a discarded zoo attraction. Regardless of whether Solskjaer was a willing participant, it was a terrible idea which did nothing other than sate the appetite of any passing sadists looking for a quick thrill. It’s been said many times over the last few years, but one can’t over-emphasise the level of dysfunction that exists within this club at present. Widespread change is desperately required, irrespective of who’s sat in the dugout. 

Copyright Red News – December 2021

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It’s Been A Long Time

Unless there’s been another government U-turn in recent days, there’s a reasonable  chance you might be reading this sat in your seat at OT. Imagine that, eh? Walking to the ground, buying the mag, reading it pre-match, or going home on the tram, the bog at work… whatever. It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? So before we start I’d like to echo the Editor’s sentiments by thanking everyone for their continued support and for helping to keep Red News going over the last 18 months. 

You probably don’t need telling that most people get their United-related content in a different format these days. Indeed, many consider printed fanzines to be relics from a bygone age. Personally speaking, whilst acknowledging there’s room for the vlogger crowd in the United stratosphere, what they offer simply isn’t for me. I can see the comic potential of an ex-copper doing a passable Alan Partridge impersonation live from his spare bedroom, but I honestly don’t care what him and his contemporaries think about the club. It makes me happy that we’re able to offer a more authentic voice and that there’s still an audience prepared to put their hand in their pocket and support it. 

Perhaps stung by the protests back in May, United quickly burst into action this summer keen to get essential improvements boxed off early. Whereas previous transfer windows were dogged by lengthy negotiations dragging on for weeks, in late June we woke up to the bombshell news that the ground was receiving a coat of paint. I’m not certain if the contractors used premium Dulux Weathershield or a standard All-Surface Paint and Primer, but nevertheless, it was good to see the Glazers come out answering their critics with a such a bold statement of intent. The leaking roof can wait until next year, presumably. 

To no-one’s great surprise, we also signed Jadon Sancho. It was difficult to get too giddy about this given we all knew it was happening since the process had been ongoing for over a year. The more enticing prospect is Raphael Varane, a freshly minted transfer saga that carries all the hallmarks of a fruitless pursuit that will ultimately lead to him signing a new contract with Madrid. I really want to believe that this one could happen, but I refuse to get excited despite widespread talk of a deal being close. It just seems too good to be true. Excuse the cynicism but we’ve been here before, haven’t we?   

With United being United, we’ve probably got several more weeks of speculation and rumour to endure before it’s possible to assess whether it’s been a successful window or not. Whatever happens, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the changes necessary to mount a serious title challenge this season. Things have improved over the last 12 months, but it’s progression at a glacial pace. Gdańsk showed that we still lack that certain something at key moments in big games. That trophy was there to be won, but in all honesty, Ole fluffed his lines. 

Gdańsk felt like one of those defining moments where we simply had to win. It was a big stage and when Ole needed to be bold and decisive, instead he sat on his hands. Villarreal were a spent force after an hour and the game was there for the taking. He dithered over his substitutions, leaving Rashford on the pitch despite his atrocious performance, mindful of penalties when there was still over an hour of football to be played. For someone reputedly well-versed in the attacking traditions of the club, it seemed a curiously over-cautious strategy against opponents who were clinging on for dear life. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Solskjaer deserves at least another season in charge but what I don’t understand is the decision to award him a new contact now. What specifically has he done to merit that? Surely the prudent approach would be to see how this season pans out first? We’re going to look pretty stupid if United go on to have one of those 3 month cycles where everything turns to shit and they’re sat mid-table at Christmas. The same simpletons lauding “My Manager” now would be squealing for him to be sacked then.

If I was somewhat perplexed by Solskjaer’s new contract, that’s nothing compared to my confusion about the club’s decision to offer Paul Pogba a pay rise. Whichever way I look at this, it just does not compute. Pogba has been back at the club for 5 years now and honestly, how many good games has he had? 10 maybe, tops. 15 if you’re being really kind. If his lordship appeared remotely arsed about playing for United I would try to suspend my disbelief and focus on the advantages in keeping him here, but his utter disdain for the club couldn’t be more apparent. 

We all know his ultimate goal was always Real Madrid, but since COVID and other factors have screwed everyone’s budgets barring City and PSG, that ain’t happening. If him and his agent had any shred of decency he’d happily re-sign with the understanding that as soon as a mutually satisfactory offer arrives – perhaps next year, when normality resumes – he’ll be on his way. Absolutely no chance of that. Instead, it looks like he’ll leave for a cut-price fee this summer or more likely, we’ll have another year of him turning up when he feels like it featuring a prolonged 2 month stint in Dubai over winter, recovering from some mystery ailment that’s untreatable at Carrington. Then he’ll walk away for free, trousering a gargantuan signing on fee and leaving United with precisely zip. Again. 

You couldn’t wish for a tastier first game back at a full capacity OT than Leeds United. Younger readers might not appreciate how ‘lively’ this fixture was back in the 90’s. You always ran the gauntlet at Elland Road and it was a similar story whenever they came here. The first time they turned up after winning promotion in 1990 was particularly memorable as it resulted in the most sustained fighting I’ve ever seen inside OT. Indeed, even my usually placid old man got ejected that day after he suffered a 1970’s Red Army flashback right before my eyes. 

I don’t think either club realised the level of hatred on both sides as I’m pretty certain it was pay-on-the-gate that day. A few hundred of them were dotted round the ground and predictably, they all went up when Sterland equalised which led to it kicking off all over the place. The widespread scrapping took the police and stewards completely by surprise and it was a good 10 minutes before anything like order was restored. Needless to say, every game after that was all-ticket and OT hasn’t seen anything quite like it since. 

Copyright Red News – August 2021

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