When Manchester United, over turned Newcastle United’s two goal first half lead, last week, it reminded me of days gone by.
The never say die attitude of the players, everyone fighting till the last whistle, to get the win and the three points on the board. But is this the start of something beautiful, or just another false dawn, of which there have been a few, under Jose Mourinho’s guidance?
Since losing to Chelsea in the FA Cup final last May, United have been constant headline material, for all media outlets. A blatant lack of signings during a summer which could only be described as both disheartening and puzzling, at the same time.
With record revenues, Champions League and Premier League money in the bank (more on that shortly), it would be unbelievable to think that by the time the ball was placed on the centre circle of the Old Trafford pitch, to begin our campaign at home to Leicester City, that the only new recruits would be a nearly retired third goalkeeper, an inexperienced teenager to play full back and a midfielder who has been brought up from the footballing mecca known as Brazil. History dictates that the Samba Stars can be very hit and miss in the Premier League.
Even for a manager whose media appearances are often outspoken, the comments were extraordinary. He confessed disquiet at handing Ed Woodward, the club’s executive vice-chairman, a list of five players for “two new signings” and being unsure if even one of these will arrive by 9 August when the window closes. – Excerpt from The Guardian – July 2018
Lee Grant, Diogo Dalot and of course Fred, were brought in to plug holes in positions that many fans would expected, okay maybe not Lee Grant, but Dalot and Fred a necessity. Even a blind man could see that United needed a central defender. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones started the FA Cup final, leaving Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, kicking their heels on the touchline. Bailly and Lindelof were both brought in by the manager.
Jose paid decent money for the pair but yet when is all said and done, reverts to the tried and not so trusted pairing of calamity Jones and Smalling. Even this season, Mourinho can’t get his head around his ideal pairing. Bailly has been in and out of the team so often that he doesn’t know whether he is coming or going. Lindelof looks like a decent Championship player at best. Always looking nervous on the ball and often beaten to headers in the air.
Jose Mourinho is now three years into his tenure at the club and yet i expect he still doesn’t know his best starting eleven, or formation. The recent defeat to West Ham United, showed that tinkering to three at the back and once again putting square pegs in round holes, will more then likely result in a bad result as opposed to a good one. Now Jose Mourinho has won 25 major trophies in his managerial career. You don’t do this by winging it. The boss has spent a large part of his time weeding out the deadwood, although in my opinion there are still two or three to go. Two trophies, and the Charity Shield, in season one. A second placed finish and runners up in the FA Cup in season two. Progress domestically, yes!
With further backing in the summer, the manager could have really kicked on. Instead he was left to curse the board in public. For all the things I love about Jose Mourinho, his inability to keep his attacks on players to behind closed doors really grinds my gears. If there was one thing Sir Alex Ferguson was good at, it was dishing the rollickings out in the changing room and saving face to the camera.
With things looking to get toxic at Old Trafford, the fans wised up and realised that in fact the villain in all this is not the boss, but the board. Not backing Jose despite announcing record breaking new sponsorship deals has not gone down well with the Stretford Enders. Fans have been very vocal lately despite the manager asking them to concentrate their efforts elsewhere.
“I’m amazed by that response [from the crowd]. I don’t want that, and if I could tell them to not do it, I would, because it is not about me. It is about the football club they love and the football club we represent with honour and dignity.” – Jose Mourinho, after victory against Newcastle United
So now we turn our attention to Ed Woodward. The man who behind the scenes is bringing in all of these new sponsor deals, was also responsible for the club becoming £700 odd million pound in debt. Mr Woodward was the banking advisor on the deal which helped the Glazer family purchase Manchester United and plunge them into the kind of debt that only the Bank of England could get out of. The fact that the board rewarded Mourinho with a new contract and then failed to back him in the market is beyond belief.
As mentioned earlier regarding Jose’s non-footballing identity at present, it seems that behind the scenes is no different. The marketing side is obviously a great income for the coffers, but these sponsors will not stick around if the playing team start to slide out of competitions early and again miss out on the Champions League. Since 2013, United have missed the boat twice, and would have been a third time, had Mourinho not guided the team to Europa League glory. It’s no good being the richest club in the world if all the board are going to do is use it as a piggy bank.
The international break has once again interrupted any momentum in which United could of gathered. A tough fixture list on their return will show us if Jose has got the balls of steel required to lead this team, or if he is just a victim of this “third season syndrome”.
- Chelsea – Away
- Juventus – Home
- Everton – Home
- Bournemouth – Away
- Juventus – Away
Manchester City – Away
Halloween and Bonfire night are fast approaching. Will it be a horror show for United or will there be fireworks on the pitch as Jose masterminds a resurgent team.
Let’s hope it’s the latter. Come on United. Rival fans are mocking us at every turn. Let’s make sure they are left to dry their tears, as the Geordies were last Saturday night. UTFR!