Like everyone else I wasn’t sure what to expect from Gareth Southgate’s team. It’s no secret that I have concerns about the growing number of foreign players in the Premier League so I was wondering how that would effect England’s performance, considering their weak showings in recent tournaments.
It’s fair to say they exceeded everyone’s expectations. It wasn’t always pretty but Gareth instilled a unity within the group. We wait to see if they can grow from Russia or if hat was a peak.
It was then back to Old Trafford where the smiles almost immediately became frowns; defeat at Brighton and then at home to Spurs exposed all the familiar problems we’ve seen at Manchester United. It was as bad as we’ve seen them and I admit that it gives me big concerns about how far they can go under Jose Mourinho.
I always had reservations about him being the right man for the job. Now I genuinely worry that he has lost the dressing room. There have to be serious questions asked about his man-management.
There’s been a lot of talk over signings. United brought in Fred. It’s too early to judge but will he turn out to be the upgrade we need in midfield? Is he really significantly better than Herrera? The priority should have been a defender. And of course that leads us on to the theme of who has been in charge of the transfers this summer.
The cameras panned after the games to Ed Woodward and he has been a man more heavily featured than executives at other clubs after United’s controversial summer.
It worries me as much as it seems to most fans that there are non-football people in charge of making football decisions and so I find the talk that the club are going to employ a director of football very interesting indeed. How effective is that a title? Too often we see people employed in that position as someone who immediately threatens the manager’s position.
I wouldn’t lose any sleep over Mourinho not being United manager but the idea of there being another power struggle seems like the last thing the club needs. If they get it working like it does over at Bayern Munich then it would probably be the perfect thing the club needs; so long as the man they get in charge is someone who truly understands the club’s identity and heritage.
The club have been willing, and patient, with the likes of Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho since 2014. Four years is a long time to allow people to try and carve their own identity into the club, even if it’s a relatively short time in the life of a football manager. It’s about time Manchester United started looking like their old selves again. That being said, it could be just as tricky an appointment as getting the right manager has seemed to be.