Bizarre Love Triangle (Spurs P2)

img_20180827_2255193

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)

True Faith

United: Love it or Leave It

© 2018 Simon Andrew Moult / Moultymedia. Many thanks for your support.

Advertisements

Shell Shock (Spurs p1)

Seconds after kick off against Tottenham last night, it all looked like it was going to be ok. From kick off Tony Valencia had the ball wide, he sent it forward, Lingard jumped to nod the ball onto Fred and Fred’s attempt went wide of the post. It was a signal of intent from a player and team that needed to come out and show something after the disaster at Brighton. Mourinho made six changes, back came Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Herrera and Matic and we were led to believe they would probably line up in a 4-3-3 but Jose kept everyone on their toes; Ander Herrera started more defensively, Pogba alongside Matic in midfield and we’d clearly be demanding a lot of Valencia and Shaw for the width. Jesse Lingard started as part of a front two with Lukaku. It seemed like a positive and confident statement from a manager knowing his team would be under the lens, but then you might well ask yourself, when aren’t Manchester United under the lens.

 

Sixteen minutes into the first half, it all looked like it was going to be ok. With Spurs in possession the ball found Danny Rose who made an instinctive pass back to his keeper, the pass was too short and Lukaku pounced, taking it round Hugo Lloris but with an empty net to aim at the United number nine sent the ball agonisingly wide. It looked odds on a goal but Spurs escaped. There was enough evidence early on to show us that there would be no hangover from last week’s trip to the seaside. The players seemed to believe the breakthrough was coming and because they believed, the crowd believed, and the crowd fed the players and United flowed forward in ways we hadn’t seen too often under Mourinho. Nemanja Matic broke up a Spurs attack on the edge of the United box, Pogba looped the ball into the air towards Luke Shaw and Shaw played a lucky one two off a Spurs man’s leg then found Jesse Lingard and continued his run down the wing for the return pass; Shaw’s cross found Romelu Lukaku but the shot was sent into Hugo Lloris.

Fred seemed to pop up everywhere, Lingard was excited, Shaw had purpose, Matic was sensible; dare I say it even Paul Pogba seemed to be doing his job, there seemed to be only one way this was going to go. United were doing enough surely, it would come, wouldn’t it? The fact United were unable to find the net during a 20-30 minute period in which they were very much on top was a concern. The fact that Lucas Moura had become more present in the game and therefore increasingly annoying, was a concern. Ander Herrera received a yellow for giving the Brazilian his full attention and David De Gea’s kick out only just cleared his head, Matic had the ball mugged off him when he wanted an hour with it, Dele Alli would have got a shot away if it had not been for Chris Smalling denying him the opportunity. Spurs had apparently soaked up all they were willing to and now saw chances to play into the game. Lucas Moura again threatened to put Spurs ahead going like a ferrari with Phil Jones for company. Jones made contact and was lucky the official wanted no part of it, Moura was knocking on the door and would not be denied all night. United continued though, Fred curled an effort wide, he then went on to set up Pogba for a shot which Lloris saved; Matic’s effort from the return cross looked as if it was going to loop into the net but it didn’t. There were signs of this becoming a game for either side to take hold of, but as the clock ticked into the last 15 minutes of the first half there was no sign of the carnage that was to follow.

 

When Tottenham appeared in the second half it was as if they believed they had withstood everything United had, and having gone in level at the break when they could have and should have been behind, they were now going to push on and see what they could get. Harry Kane fizzed a shot or a cross into the danger area, De Gea might have been aware that Lucas Moura was ready to pounce and got a hand to the ball flicking it clear but just over the head (again) of the Brazilian. Lingard looked to attack into the Stretford End as both teams looked for the advantage and thats where this ends as a contest.

 

The visiting side made the breakthrough; Dele Alli was found in space and when the ball hit Chris Smalling and went out for a corner, everything United had built about to be taken apart. Harry Kane’s looping header in the 50th minute looked like the simplest thing in the world. United had kept him largely silent up to this point and I dare say Phil Jones thought he had done his job but the World Cup golden boot winner backed off Jones and sent the ball into the net beautifully. David De Gea and Romelu Lukaku could only watch and United were one down. Within 2 minutes and 12 seconds later Lucas Moira got the goal his quality display deserved but unbelievably and undeservedly, United were two down.
From a United point of view it now became about asking questions of Spurs and seeing if we could get ourselves a goal. Whenever that occurred, if indeed it could, would determine what we could get out of this game. Unlike the Brighton game when United never even looked like recovering from the shell shock, at Old Trafford on Monday night they did keep their heads high. Phil Jones was hauled off injured and was understandably frustrated by it, Lindelof came on as his replacement and we all collectively hoped that other Victor would turn up; the one that looked half decent in his displays for Sweden and not the one that was had on toast in against Brighton. Matic came off and Fellaini came on, perhaps surprising some who might well have wanted Rashford in the hunt for goals. Ander Herrera had already been sacrificed to see what Alexis Sanchez had to offer.

Sanchez was into the action quickly enough, his long ball was nodded down into Lingard’s path, the ball couldn’t settle and the shot went over for a corner but United soon found their way forward again; Fred’s pass across to Pogba sent the Frenchman back a bit to collect and the cross deflected for a corner but the Stretford End still roared. United kept possession, Spurs tried to push out from their area and Luke Shaw kept the ball going in the right direction. Paul Pogba won a free kick which Fred took and sent to the post but Lindelof’s header failed to trouble anyone.

Victor Lindelof was about to answer the question United fans asked when he came on, this was the performance of a man visibly short of confidence, rightfully roasted and shrinking before our very eyes. Jamie Carragher all but wrote his United obituary after the game and when he nearly gifted Spurs a third goal, you can’t really argue with that assesment. Spurs’ Danny Rose had played his own keeper into similar trouble in the first half, Lindelof’s pass back was more central but equally as weak and needed David De Gea to sprint into action. Dele Alli was pushed wide and couldn’t glide round our keeper as he wanted to, De Gea then saved the resulting shot and earned the thanks of a sheepish Swedish defender. If Victor Lindelof is going to make it at Manchester United he is going to have to improve far beyond what we have seen this month. Perhaps in past seasons he would be able to grow into United without the spotlight but this is the way things are currently and he’s getting asked questions in front of a critical audience. It’s perhaps unfair but some will doubt that he can improve. He remains one of our defensive options so he has until January.

It looked unlikely United would be scoring, one move pretty much encapsulated the home team’s evening when Luke Shaw sent ball fizzing goalwards goalwards and Lukaku narrowly avoided making contact with his head. Frequently the ball was in the right areas, Tottenham constantly trying to send it away and United continuing to ask questions. I have the feeling they could have been there on Tuesday morning and still the ball would not have found the net.
On Monday night the final flicker of United hope was extinguished fittingly by Lucas Moura, a thorn in our side all night. Spurs were clearing from a United attack, the ball bounced over Fred and fell for Kane who played in Lucas Moura; Moura accelerated away from Chris Smalling, who did attempt a tackle more in hope than expectation before Moura finished lethally.
A United performance that promised so much and looked for most of the first half like it would deliver, in the end gave us nothing. 3 – 0 is probably unfair, and does not tell the full story of the match but it does tell the story of a football club. There are lots of things to be positive about (Shaw for one) but there are negatives we are all too aware of will not go away and as a football club we will remain under the microscope. GTS

 

skysports-luke-shaw-jose-mourinho_4403441
Mourinho headed straight for Shaw at the final whistle. United’s left back can be proud of his performance on Monday night.

 

© 2018 Simon Andrew Moult / Moultymedia. Many thanks for your support.

When Saturday Comes

United 1 Spurs 0

Line up: Romero, Darmian, Blind, Smalling, Shaw, Schneiderlin, Carrick, Young, Memphis, Mata, Rooney

Subs: Herrera for Memphis, Valencia for Darmian

THERE is something magical about Old Trafford on the opening day of the football season; not because of any kumbayah nonsense about all the teams starting on a level playing field, if that is your bag then this website is not for you. No, the first game of the season is the first time you get to look at the money your manager has spent, what the player looks like in the kit and what number he has been given.

Continue reading “When Saturday Comes”

Tottenham v Manchester United

Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United

GOALS Defoe (1 min), Giggs (25 min), Anderson (41 mins), Rooney (78 mins)
Tottenham: Cudicini; Corluka, Bassong, King, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Palacios; Keane, Crouch, Defoe.
Subs: Hutton for Corluka, Jenas for Palacios, Krancjar for Keane.
Man United: Foster; O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher, Scholes, Anderson, Giggs; Rooney, Berbatov.
Subs: Carrick for Berbatov, Nani for Anderson

Continue reading “Tottenham v Manchester United”