THIS summer, thanks to England and the World Cup we all got taken on a fantastic ride, whether we truly believed ‘it’ was coming home or not, I don’t know, but it is easy to be sceptical and game by game all of that went. I wouldn’t say club colours fully disappeared but I enjoyed the sense I felt as I watched England progress. I thought the season’s positivity might some how bleed into the Premier League season and that it might benefit Manchester United.
How wrong could I have been? Well it turns out some people place huge importance on Pre Season, who knew? We beat Real Madrid, and we lost to Liverpool (I think, I can’t honestly tell you, but I remember the reaction to our pre season was in the main quite negative). It felt like we were being written off before a serious ball had been kicked: written off by fans in the same foxhole as us.
I support Manchester United. Not a group of players, not a specific player, not a specific manager. Jose Mourinho is the manager of my football team, therefore he is my manager. The fact that he seems to boil the piss of our rivals is humorous, the fact that he admits that the match-day battle commences at the pre-match press conference is glorious. He makes mistakes, he has made mistakes and he will no doubt make more in the coming season but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anything he has said during pre-season.
We have a football manager in charge of a brand, and it feels as though while our manager and our coaches are on the pitch trying to make us successful on the pitch, he and they are coming up against men in suits, their only job is to continue the success of the brand. It seems as though success on that green stuff is a long way down the list. Not so long ago I did wonder how far I would like us to go to get rid of that brand mentality; maybe losing a few games isn’t that bad, would relegation be that bad? It might well lose us a few of the overseas fans and possibly when the men in suits see that we aren’t flogging much merch in Hoboken and LA then we wouldn’t be beholden to the sponsors in that area and we wouldn’t need to go over there and keep them all happy. Brilliant. So let’s get relegated right? That would solve everything wouldn’t it! Yes, wait…what?
I snapped myself out of that staggering frame of mind pretty quickly once I had followed that thinking through to its conclusion; supporting the self harm of your football club is not the answer.
Jose and his ability to work with those above him will determine whether and for how long he stays at Old Trafford. His ability to work with those in his squad is not as fragile as some might have you believe; Luke Shaw delivered a performance to be proud of on friday night, he has admitted himself he feels free to attack more and be the player Manchester United saw when they bought him. Paul Pogba talks about needing to be trusted to be happy, Jose made the man captain on Friday night and Paul responded with an 80 minute performance to impress everyone. He also spoke after the game about moving on from the world cup victory, and working to get better. If the fact he has a world cup medal in his garage at home is “not enough” and he wants to achieve more, then we want him at Old Trafford. We need the confident Pogba who told Sanchez that he wasn’t taking the penalty, even though “I know what I hear after if I miss!”
Bailly did well, Shaw, Darmian, Pogba even Andreas Pereira, I don’t care why they are performing so well only that they are. If they are doing so to shut Jose up then so be it, Manchester United benefits.
Jose has a vision, after the victory on Friday night he spoke of seeing “glimpses of the football we want to try and play” and how they “dealt with problems as a team”. Leave all the I make more money than you do, board room bullshit out of it; we can be happy.
There’s a way about certain United fans these days that seems to think it’s impossible for anyone to complain about how things are because the ‘bad’ they speak of isn’t anywhere near as bad as it has been in the past. When performances have been bad, and Dad and I have driven away from Old Trafford and he looks at me and says “it’s not as bad as when we were relegated”. For the modern generation of United fans this is a slump, even though it’s not a down period with the drama of the past that’s fine, I’m not sure younger fans need to experience United in the conference leagues in order for their opinions to be seen as valid ones. It’s perfectly okay to moan, but moan when the season starts – and moan when they give you reason.
While there were of course things to work on from Friday night, the team played well, questions were asked of players by the manager and they responded.
“I asked them, give me what you have.”
It’s all any of us ask. GTS