We knew the knives would be out following the Tottenham defeat but I felt a very real sense of togetherness and pride. Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer for that sense to swell within me after a 5:0 victory where United have literally played the opposition off the park (Arsenal 8:2, Ipswich 9:0, City 5:0) and it feels bizarre that such a stirring comes after a loss but that’s where we are. We got a performance to be proud of; if any of Lukaku’s chances go in it’s a different game. On a different day at the very least we’re either a goal up thanks to Rose’s back pass or we’re level seconds after Harry Kane’s superb header found the net.
“I wouldn’t be worried if at half time we were winning three nil, at half time the result should be three nil, three one, two nil, we were so so so much the best team in the first half”
“When you play the way you play, when you create what you create, when you miss the chances that we missed… at half time everybody was frustrated but totally convinced that we were going to win the match. Even with the unexpected two nil, the way the team kept playing until the third goal arrived. My message to the players has to be a positive message and I’m really happy, humbled, by the way the supporters reacted to the boys.”
It seems that most of United’s support that night were reading the same script; Jose spending some time applauding the Stretford End was the moment we needed. It felt like a turning point. It felt like a man thanking the core support for staying to support him and the team, despite all the questions they probably had, all the confusion they all felt, and all the anger they wanted to direct somewhere. Remove yourself from the he makes more money, I need more money, I want a centre back he won’t let me have one BS ; take away all the drama and we have a defiant manager and fans willing to stand with him.
There is no brainwashing involved here. We know Jose isn’t perfect, the rational amongst us aren’t saying he’s the messiah but the issues aren’t all down to him so pardon me for thinking that men in ties in the boardroom should shoulder as much if not more blame than a coach who seems to have been crucified for at one point believing there might be a United player in Victor Lindelof. This week I’ve heard from our own fans that the board were correct not to sanction moves for any of the players Jose wanted and Victor is one of the poor sods they always mention. Perhaps in another team in another season he would have been able to acclimatise in the shadows but he’s shown a weakness and it has been exploited. If opposing players are cash strapped students, Victor Lindelof is the broken cash machine that keeps paying out. When they get so much joy from him, our opposition will continue to ask questions of him. He’s been crushed in front of us, and as much as the staff will shield him, he’ll have to improve in front of us too.
Publicly though, Jose is refusing to put that weight onto Victor’s shoulders. When asked about him, Jose built a wall;”My team played so well and strategically we were so so so so good and you want to try and transform this press conference in a situation of lets blame the guy.” before going on to ask the media what they wanted from a Jose Mourinho team;
“I’m sorry, you have to tell me what is the most important thing because I don’t know. When I win matches I come here many times and you are not happy that I won matches and you say that the most important thing is the way of playing. You need to make a decision because I need to know from you… if it is to play well or it is to win matches, play offensively or for a certain result.”
When the press asked him what went wrong on Monday night, he asked them if they had seen the goals. What else can he say. They asked him if he knew what his best back four was at this moment in time, Jose’s answer here too was direct and to the point; “No.” He did then elaborate on the partnerships he’s had to mix and match, Lindelof and Bailly, Jones and Smalling, there is a suggestion that Rojo comes back into the side as soon as he is available but Jose is working with what he has available.
Some would suggest that Jose cannot be trusted with the money, but that idea is alien to me. It suggests that a manager is clearly no longer able to make purchases, try them and move them on if they don’t fit in as expected. Every manager makes what turns into a bad move transfer wise, for every Eric Cantona and Ole Solskjaer there is a Nick Powell, Jordi Cruyff, Adnan Januzaj, Garry Birtles.
SIR ALEX FERGUSON SIGNED BEBE for crying out loud!
The United board have to back him now, they should have backed him in the transfer market. Offering a manager a new contract and telling him they don’t trust his ideas for new signings is bizarre but this circus is what we are all having to deal with now. For his part I think Jose’s reaction has been outstanding. He went over to Luke Shaw and he applauded the fans, Jose knew the cameras were on him and yes it was done partially with that attention in mind because it put him with us. He’s not been shy in laying the blame for the lack of new signings right at Ed Woodward’s door, he spoke the words, we saw the action and now it feels as though he’s standing on our side of the picket line.
“My message was the same as the supporters”, said Jose afterwards, “the message that the supporters gave to the players was my message, was the same.”
Jose told the media he was happy with the attitude of his team and he was (mostly) correct. He was full of praise for the fans and he was correct there too; “Goals are an amazing vitamin, or an overdose of fatigue.” The players are with him, the majority of fans are with him, the board are backing him (now), in reality this could be an uneasy truce, I’m sure some journalists will continue to right sentences about insiders and use phrases like “it is believed” but I want to believe we are United.
“One thing we know”, says Jose, “the team is United”.
The bizarre love triangle continues, the results will come. GTS
(if you want more, try these from the archives)
© 2018 Simon Andrew Moult / Moultymedia. Many thanks for your support.