They Cancelled Eldorado

man-utd-chief-ed-woodward-1005548Wanting to leave United should NOT be the deciding factor in becoming Captain.

We need One Choir singing from  One Hymn sheet not an out of key Choir Boy!

Enough soap opera. They all represent Manchester United and need to remember that.

It’s a tale as old as time. Big money movies, small screen soap operas; men in suits think they have a winning idea, they stick loads of money in it, make it look more glamorous than anything you have ever seen, they really stick the full weight of the machine behind it; so convinced are the men in suits that this is going to win everyone over and make a connection. But it the grand plan doesn’t connect with people! Do you know what happened next? Flop! King Arthur, flop! An English soap opera set in Spain, all the glamour, who cares about anything else! Well the BBC cancelled Eldorado.

Manchester United is the latest soap opera to hit your screens; the disconnect between the board and the manager and arguably the players has been rivotting or painful to watch and much like Manchesterford’s finest, Acorn Antiques, we have had key players failing to follow the script. At least Victoria Wood’s world within a world was funny – what’s happening at Old Trafford is not.
The he said, they said, he said nonsense shows no sign of going anywhere and I’d rather not discuss it but I will because it’s indicative of what is going wrong at Manchester United.
Last week, James Cooper goes on Sky Sports reading a statement; United are “insensed” at rumours of a bust up between Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho, “they are telling me there was no bust up” says Cooper who then goes on to suggest that idea is “nonsense” and that the “relationship between the two is good”.
For his part Sun Journalist Neil Custis was of the opinion that this was an attempt to “knock down” a story under orders from the United press office. The journalist seems to suggest that if James Cooper had spoken to Custis before going on camera armed with the red tinted defence, the story may well have been different. Neil Custis stood behind his story, the rift is clear and present; manager and midfielder are at odds.
Jose Mourinho takes to the microphone at his Friday press conference and tells the press not to make up lies. Jose is pretty clear; there was apparently No fight, no exchange of words, no problems at all. Jose cannot say enough nice things about the world cup winner and captain of his team; “I cannot demand more from him, I cannot ask more from him I want him to play well, I want him to play for the team.”
In days gone by if there was a sniff of a story and our manager gave that kind of reponse, the story would have died and we would have all been able to concentrate on the football but we are in different times. When Jose comments on the HUGE news that David De Gea is committing his long term future to Manchester United he says “it was a collective situation involving the player, the agent and Manchester United. The agent didn’t create a war to achieve his objectives. He respected the club, he respected the player.”

 

Jose might well have heaped praise on his captain, but in praising his goalkeeper and the conduct of the agent (Jorge Mendes, by the way, who also represents Mourinho), he also managed to park a double decker bus at the door of Paul Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola. This ability to aim a verbal laserbeam with pinpoint presicsion in this way was a thing of beauty in one respect becuase i’ve always wanted to believe Paul Pogba wanted to be at Manchester United specifically and that his head was being turned by the agent. I’ve supported Manchester United long enough to know that I’m naive in this respect but I never want to lose this naivity; representing Manchester United should mean everything to anyone lucky enough to do so. So I want to believe it means the world to Pogba, and I want to believe that because he’s ‘one of our own’ it means as much to him as it meant to players like Paul Scholes or Denis Irwin, players for whom contract negotiations seemed to be the player asking the chairman for a pen.
The fact that Manchester United told the world they were angry is a giveaway that there is something to know, but the manager does not need to get on with a player in order for them to do a job . Sir Alex and Eric Cantona may have had the arm round the shoulder relationship but Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex did not. Rooney told the Telegraph in 2015 “it’s not just me who has had a fall out with Alex Ferguson. I think many players have. Some have left some have stayed”, this after it was revealed by Rooney that he spoke to his manager about looking for a move if Sir Alex’s plans no longer included the striker. When the issues are no longer repairable, and say, a football boot is kicked in the face of our poster boy, poster boy is soon in Madrid doing keepy uppies in the sun or Jaap Stam signs for Lazio and looks very happy about it… not.
No one is bigger than Manchester United and while they represent that shirt they have my support because I want to believe that they know what it means. I want to believe we are singing one song, from one hymn sheet.

On Sunday quite a few of the choir boys were off key and instead of being cancelled the soap opera was commisioned for another week of episodes. It was within their power to put it all down, regardless of the issues, everyone had said the right things and the team had the ability to fire a message to Neil Custis, James Cooper, Kevin Palmer, everyone; IGNORE THE SOAP OPERA IT IS THE FOOTBALL THAT COUNTS.
There is no distraction from the tension now because on the pitch we were poor. Defensively we switched off. Ashley Young stepped up to shadow Solly March but backed off him, he found enough space to find Murray, with a flick of the boot Brighton were a goal up and questions were being asked of Viktor Lindleof. Within minutes it was 2:0, Gross with the corner, United failed to fully deal with the danger and Duffy finds the corner with a strike better than it has any right to be. United very quickly not just on the ropes (the back four certainly were) but in danger of being out for the count before the half time break. This fear was realised with a 44th minute penalty; Eric Bailly brought down Pascal Gross who took the penalty and may well have been lucky given that it struck De Gea’s legs, next week that bounces to safety perhaps but on Sunday it put United 3:1 down. Forgive me for not focusing on the positives because I couldn’t find any.

 

Jose’s post match comments were centred around making “too many mistakes” and those mistakes giving “happinness and confidence to Brighton, taken from us” he also told reporters he would not go in the direction of being critical to his players, when elaborating he said that he had in the past been too honest and open and would now only speak about his players when they have had good days.
On Sunday Jose “was not expecting big mistakes” but his captain Paul Pogba told reporters “the attitude that we had is not like we wanted to beat them”, before putting himself first in the firing line for that criticism; “I put myself first, my attitude wasnt right.” Of course, I put myself first could be a staggeringly self aware moment of clarity from our midfielder, but I think he means it more as the buck stops here.
I like the fact that Jose is doing all his negative / realistic work behind closed doors and I like the fact that in the wake of this response another hopefully more succesful shut down will occur but his captain mentioned attitude three times in his Sky Sports interview and the press are quick to pick up on his crumbs that the team was not correctly prepared. Pogba suggests a “big lesson” has been learned after that defeat. United were humbled many times last season, we all had to pick ourselves up and hope for better next time, Brighton clinched survival on the back of our bad day at the office last season in this same fixture.
United have had embarrasments; yesterday shouldn’t have been a big lesson, anyone who needed to learn another “big lesson” should look at themselves in the mirror. Are they really good enough to play for us?

 

We need United players who are going to turn up and try – and collapse on the floor at the final whistle because they are feeling the dissapointment of every supporter. I thank Paul for stepping up and taking the bullet with his it starts with me comments, I agree – it does, but there are plenty who watched yesterday and think he doesn’t give a crap. There are plenty out there who thinks United’s is just the fattest pay cheque and if he’s not taking ours it will be someone else’s. I think Paul makes a good captain, he would have made a better one without all this going on because now it’s reactive not pro-active. I long for the days when allegedly wanting to leave Manchester United was not the key factor it getting you the armband.
We are years away from winning the league but I want to believe that Paul Pogba wants to be part of our rebuilding. There are those that suggest otherwise. I want to believe that Jose Mourinho is part of our rebuilding, there are those that suggest otherwise. Love him or hate him Jose needs the players to do better. But not one person comes out of Sunday’s horror show with any credit, Jose bought the two central defenders that were ripped apart, Paul Pogba is again the focus and off the field is again where the story lies, Ed Woodward shoulders monumental blame too.
The Spanish transfer window closes on August the 31st and United are soon to appoint a Director of Football so the moves Ed Woodward makes next are going to tell us how this soap opera ends – roll credits.
GTS

 

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All That They Have

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.

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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

Part 6

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It’s 81 minutes in and I am watching England players play what is lovingly described as “tippy tappy crap” in search of a goal. I’m sat here thinking that this nonsense feels familiar, the clueless arseclownery sold to us as patient build  up, Manchester United have been involved in that. That dog don’t hunt.

I started this blog to see if it was possible to rekindle love for my national football team; to get involved in the community spirit and see if it was possible to forget club colours and follow ING ERL AND. I’ve found something I was not expecting.

91st minute of five extra and my timeline us going nuts. Every single person on my timeline is reminding me where (take your pick) England player comes from;

Spurs are going to win this game for England.

Here we go, City making sure we are solid at the back.

Great pass from the Spurs lad, the Liverpool lad let it down.

Here’s what I’ve found out: as the going gets tough our club colours come out. Suddenly it’s right to blame Rooney because you “can’t trust a Manc” to do the job, England fans online clubbed together to pay for an early flight home for Raheem Stirling, and only Marcus Rashford is quicker off the mark than Spurs fans reminding you Harry Kane is theirs.

I thought it was just me and the United fans I know. I thought the feeling of apathy was just from us. I’m now of the belief that it’s honesty from me. The other football fans, those I thought were better than me because they left the club colours at the door in support of the nation but it’s all bollocks As soon as they struggle every player gets hung up by their individual club shirt. It’s England pride with Velcro on the back, easiily removed as needed.

I asked a few England fans something as I’ve travelled this country over the last few weeks. I wondered, if they were to get to the knockout stages, would they be tempted to fly out abs support the team? The resounding answer was “No”. I’m told that most of “those in France with England shirts on aren’t there for football, just to fight”. I know this is a huge generalisation and I’m not going to take his words any futher but it’s a perception England haven’t managed to shake so far.

England draw, I have no idea what excuses Woy gives because Sinny puts 10 credits on the jukebox and I’ve got a song to choose coz he’s a diamond. A crystal drinking diamond (get on that for word play).

England march on. Apathy continues. I want them to make me care. England I’m asking you to make me care, in fact like the Stone Roses’ song I choose.. I’m begging you.

Til next time

Part 5

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Somewhere in a North Yorkshire pub, a Welshman is nervous. He’s surrounded by Englishmen so he has every right to be, and the teams are out;

The anthems come, I don’t sing too loudly, stay under the radar for a bit longer, I think, let’s not alert the whole pub yet. The English meekly sang their anthem – the Bale comments regarding a lack of passion seemingly reflected here.

During the game I can’t hold back my patriotic and passionate views, biased views, as always. The banter between me and seemingly 200 Englishmen ensured that the pub was full of laughter as well as the usual noises associated with watching a game with a few pints. The “ooohhh’s” and “aahhhh’s” as well as expletives, of course.

I’m becoming the entertainment now with my quick witted retorts to whatever they threw at me, like a seasoned comedian, Chanting, singing and winding them up as England kept failing to make the most of their chances. I’m louder than the lot of them – one man standing alone against all these Englishmen!

We get a free kick….. everyone is telling me it’s going in, I am adamant it’s too far out…. then……

GET IN YOU FUCKING BASTARDS!

Heard across the whole pub and down the street no doubt. My voice booming in contrast to the silence of the rest of the pub. The half time banter now in full force as people come up to me to chat about the game, about Bale and, with more animation, about Hart.

The second half is the worst of my life!! From the moment the clock started I’m screaming at them to take it to the flag. TO THE FLAG!!! Everyone around me is laughing but mostly nervous about the game and the desperate three points England needed.

When the first goal goes in I’m convinced it was offside, it looked offside. I was drowned though by the noise that the English FINALLY made. They showed passion but only when they scored. I’m lifted in the air, beer going everywhere! I need another drink, there is a feeling now this is going to be a battle on the big screen and a “battle” in the pub.

Towards the end, England are missing opportunities – could Wales hang on like they did against Belgium twice….. could they get that point they so desperately need to qualify to the next round?

And then.

Pandemonium.

OH NO….. a last minute goal was the LAST thing I needed here.The pub goes wild, I don’t even know who scored, I don’t care. I rest my head on the bar and I feel it being patted, hair ruffled, joyful sounds from the England fans scratching my ear drums like a spike has been inserted.  Mobile phones are out and filming the celebrations in the pub and my pain.

Bar staff come up to me to console me, telling me I was excellent entertainment and that I took it all well. A lot of of the lads in the pub, some I knew and a lot that I didn’t, all coming up to me afterwards to shake my hand and pat my shoulder. Their messages were all the similar which started with a “haha we won” followed by congratulating me on making it a brilliant atmosphere and that I was a legend in the bar. A small condolence for the last minute loss but condolences nonetheless. Should I have gone or should I have watched it on my own without all that fuss to endure at the end? I think my little write up has answered that, to have been alone at home and witnessed that last minute goal would have been depressing. At least my attendance at the pub, the 1 against 200 (ish), gave me something to enjoy and something to talk about.

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No Welshman was harmed during the production of this blog

Cheers to Taffinoski follow him @taffinoski – Wales continue on their own journey and this week mine with England came to an abrupt end. I didn’t see the game, you could say my journey went off road. Very much so in fact. Have you ever been to Byker? It’s an interesting place where interesting people live. I couldn’t ask anyone the score, lets just say… the television show Byker Grove was full of shit. It lied to me. Geoff Keegan lied to me!

Part 6 will come when I stop moving. Thanks again to Taff, for now for both England and Wales the journey continues. See you down the road.
 

 

Part 4

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A person has plenty of time to think about things when they are clamped in the front seat space of a mega bus heading to Newcastle. It’s early in the morning, too early to be jovial with passengers who either stare at you and pretend they aren’t, or a driver who doesn’t know how to put you and your wheelchair in the wheelchair space so he just keeps tutting. I CAN HEAR HIM!

I’m sat here wearing more restraints than a law abiding citezen should expect. I mean seriously, if the dude tells me the safeword he can have it and we’ll all go home.

In the days since the last blog, England yobbishness made the headlines and people have become genuinely worried about Wales beating us. England should have got the job done in their opening match, it’s still hilarious to me that they didn’t. They have impressive and exciting players, perhaps against Wales Woy will let them do their thing (or at least bring them off the bench soon enough for them to rescue us).

Life is about goals, having then and reaching them so here are mine ahead of the game with Wales;

Marcus Rashford continues to rule the world.

Vardy gets given a chance. He will score

I still really want Stirling and Hart to play abysmally, they are Liverpool and City players after all… I’m only human and the journey is long. I know I know, yay England… we all love everyone in the summer don’t we?
My mind wanders…. what if Bale scores a hatrick against England and each goal is the fault of some ABU half wit like Hart. I’d allow myself a smile.

It turns out that not everyone is as confident in Wales’ ability to beat England as some in England are. Taffinoski is somewhere in a pub in North Yorkshire, he’s there like a cornflake in a bowl of rice krispies, the only Welshman amongst the English … I can only imagine the horror / joy that will come from his experience of this match.

You, dear reader, don’t have to imagine. I’m on a Metro heading for toon but I can still find a pub before kick off … Taff takes up the rest of the story

I’m already nervous and my prediction was a 2-0 defeat, something which I was trying to mentally prepare for. I was advised not to wear my lucky retro Wales top, this was not going to bode well! A certain defeat was in the offing.

I arrive at the pub an hour before kick off, plenty of time to get a few drinks down and enjoy some banter with friends, some that I hadn’t seen for a while. Everyone was in good spirits as the pub become more and more full. I was rather surprised at the lack of songs being sung by the English fans and I did my best to keep my nationality to myself for the time being.

My friends, a lovely bunch, had kindly spread the word to other patrons that I was Welsh! Cue a few sheep sounds and some light abuse about Wales in general. My retort? I reminded them that I was in Yorkshire and that they were also fond of sheep. 

DOES SIMON FIND A PUB AND WATCH? HOW MANY MANY WELSH JOKES DOES TAFF ENDURE? Find out in Part 5.

Part 3

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Why in all God do they put Harry Kane on the set pieces and why isn’t Jamie Vardy on yet? They are going to lose this I swear and it will be because Woy doesn’t have the balls to make the changes when they are necessary. United just sacked a manager for reasons like that.
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England go a goal up thanks to a free kick dripping in quality and it sparks up England fans there and here. Eric Dier, 22 years old, take a bloody long bow. Wayne Rooney playing in the withdrawn position bothers me but in the run up to the free kick he was faultless. England deserved to have the edge and they eventually do.

Rooney departs for Arsenal sicknote Jack Wilshire. That’s a fucking ballsy move, taking your captain off in the first game of a tournament when you are only a goal up with minutes to go.

I’m ready for everyone to tell me that this England Victory has been built in North London. Harry Kane falls, draws the free kick and heads the ball on the ground all in one moment. There’s a moment Brazil would have been happy with, a sexy pass and move which sadly went nowhere but goes to confirm that England are more than worthy winners here. A second goal would put the cherry on the icing on the cake.

Stirling tries to make it happen, just as I get another tap on my shoulder… one of our lot is wobbling and for some reason he’s apologising. The sound comes back on on the second big television just in time to hear the national anthem belted out by the fans in the stadium. Even I am impressed.

They leave out the verse about scattering our enemies though, naturally.

Minutes to go and the England I know and for the most part ignore, come out to play. They concede, Russia get a point and England have given a load of people hope only to see it snatched away. Again, I can identify with those emotions.

The DJ starts with the England song Vindaloo and Glenn rewrites the lyrics for us:

“AND WE ALL LIKE VINDALOO!

WE’RE GONNA SCORE THE SAME AS YOU!”

Wales top the group. That’s funny.

I’m happy for this blog to chart the journey from Lapsed England fan to once again believer. I want to be the same England fan that cried his heart out when we bottled it in Italia 90, the same lad that idolised Gazza despite the Spurs and later Lazio shirt on his back.

At the end of Day one though, the feeling is mostly laughter: at the disappointment of the England fans who had us winning the competition when Dier scored that free kick. So the journey to rekindle love for the England national side starts from a rather bleh place.

Part 2

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I have to get behind this lot, it’s important for national unity and all that. The staff of my local all have England shirts on and I get the message. There are players I would love at United, most of them have decent hair cuts already so it would make the move to Manchester easier for them.

England expects – some how the public expect them to win the thing. Drinkwater, a premier league winner is not in the squad… Wilshire, this generations sick note is in the squad. Chris Smalling is too. It’s not too long before I start hoping our lads avoid injury and drama. We know what happens when England crash out and it’s down to a United player don’t we? That player gets vilified. Rooney will be ok if England make him the scapegoat – United fans have been ripping into him for a while now. Taken some a while to give him credit, it has.

Woy seems to find him undroppable too. A fun tournament awaits then.

The landlord of my local thinks he has to find a white charger because his phone is white. As that example of phone racism sinks in Harry Kane puts the ball in the net but the whistle had already gone. I’m tapped on the shoulder and told by someone that he and I could beat Russia on our own. I’ve had fewer injuries than Jamie Redknapp and less operations than Jack Wilshire and he’s in France! By that reckoning I should win the balon d’Orr.

Bring on the fireball shots

See you in part 3