Friday, 27 May 2016

Press Release: José Mourinho Appointed Manager of Manchester United (OFFICIAL)

MANCHESTER, England--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- (NYSE: MANU) José Mourinho will take over as manager of Manchester United from the 2016/17 season, signing a three year contract with an option to stay at the Club until at least 2020.

José, 53, has managed at the top level of European football for over a decade and in that time has won league titles and cups in four countries (Portugal, England, Italy and Spain), as well as winning the UEFA Champions League twice – in 2004 with FC Porto and in 2010 with Inter Milan.

Announcing the appointment Ed Woodward, said:
“José is quite simply the best manager in the game today. He has won trophies and inspired players in countries across Europe and, of course, he knows the Premier League very well, having won three titles here.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome him to Manchester United. His track record of success is ideal to take the Club forward.”

José Mourinho said:
“To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game. It is a club known and admired throughout the world. There is a mystique and a romance about it which no other club can match. 
“I have always felt an affinity with Old Trafford; it has hosted some important memories for me in my career and I have always enjoyed a rapport with the United fans. I’m looking forward to being their manager and enjoying their magnificent support in the coming years.”


Monday, 11 January 2016

LVG's United could learn a thing or two from the Passion of Patrice!

Yesterday (10th January) marked the 10 year anniversary of the signing of Patrice Evra, one of Ferguson's, if not United's, greatest ever foreign imports. The club's social media team decided to commemorate the former United man (and eternal United fan) with a blog post highlighting his top 10 quotes, including this one:

As much as this was simply a nice quote that best summarised the individual's passion and love for his former club, I couldn't help thinking it something more - a timely message to the current manager and players clearly struggling to understand the "weight of United's history" by continually playing a dull brand of negative football! The fact this image was posted just over 24 hours after the end our embarrassing display against League One's Sheffield United in the FA Cup - a lacklustre 1-0 win in a line of poor performances that relied on a 90th minute Wayne Rooney penalty - was incredible poignant, as though @ManUtd was being managed by Patrice himself as a not-so-subtle reminder to the club's current representatives of their duty.

As well as being a highly skilled full-back who won it all in his eight year's at United, Evra was a passionate red, brought in by the great Sir Alex, who knew what it meant to were the shirt with pride and the importance of representing a club of such magnitude at the Theatre of Dreams. Something that can't be said for our latest crop, who are seemingly sleep-walking through every game without a modicum of passion. Paul Scholes, another United legend and former teammate of Evra, actually spoke out after the game, noticing how "bored" the players looked on Saturday. Would a team full of passionate United player's, playing under a manager who was equally proud to be leading Manchester United, ever be accused of such a thing, as well as playing "negative football" with an "acceptance" of simply  getting through games unscathed rather than playing with honour and dignity? Never.

It's currently a very sad state of affairs at United - one that calls for a proper red like Patrice Evra to slap some sense into our over-paid 'stars' and remind them what it means to be a "red devil".

Monday, 4 January 2016

Ashley Young - 2015/16 season review

Ashley Young played a vital role in last Saturday's win at home to Swansea, providing Martial with the assist for our all important opener - our first goal in four games - while constantly causing problems for the Swansea defence with his excellent crossing in the second half.

For any readers of my blog you should know by know that I am a massive Young fan, especially impressed with his remarkable turnaround from the terrible 2013/14 season when many thought his time was up. To prove my love of the winger I was asked to put together some thoughts on how he's performed so far this season by fellow United blogger the Republik of Mancunia. Agree/disagree? Feel free to comment below...
Given how well he performed last season, this has been a strangely underwhelming season for Ashley Young. Our most impressive outfield player in the second half of the 2014-15 campaign, Young has found his opportunities in midfield limited due to the arrival of Memphis and Martial, while the signings of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger signalled a new reliance on the holding midfield system that naturally reduces the need for a wide player. Even though he’s playing regularly in the side at the moment this has been as defensive cover and therefore we’ve only seen glimpses of the rejuvenated Young we enjoyed so much from March to April of this year. Quality players playing out of position and having their creativity suppressed? Pretty much sums up United under Van Gaal! For me he is still the most naturally gifted winger at United, which I suppose has worked against him given the rigid system Van Gaal plays. However, unfortunately, you still fear that he is just as able to commit yet another ludicrous dive for his embarrassing collection as he is to whip in a peach of a ball. 
All in all, I’m happy to see the lad still demanding a place in the side amongst the big money signings that have been brought in over the last 18 months. His miraculous turnaround – from scapegoat during the David Moyes era, to outplaying and displacing £59.7million Angel di Maria while securing a £120k a week contract at the start of the season – certainly deserves to be rewarded. Unfortunately, given the restrictions presented by the current system, his chances of impressing again as he did last season are massively reduced and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go at the end of this season.

Check out RoM's other reviews here:

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

How Louis van Gaal's anti-United philosophy is poisoning the club

If it wasn't obvious already prior to yesterday’s game against Chelsea - United’s ninth goalless draw of 2015 and our eighth winless game in a row - something is not quite right at United, and it hasn't been for a while.

Van Gaal watches on as United fail to win for the eighth consecutive game against Chelsea. Image via Mail Online.

Louis van Gaal has epitomised everything that has gone wrong since Sir Alex left in 2013 - the anti-United, if you will. During his first season in charge we saw glimpses of brilliance while the fans (and board of directors) were content with the fourth-place finish that saw us re-enter the Champions League. We were also fooled into a sense of giddiness as the likes of Angel di Maria, Falcao and a host of World Cup stars were brought into the club, with spending exceeding £250million+ and rivaling the buying patterns that so many United fans have ridiculed Chelsea and Manchester City about. However this approach hasn't worked at all and in reality, given the sort of manager van Gaal is, it was always destined to fail.

His ultra-defensive style has hindered our progression as a team - sucking the attacking spirit out of the side with his insistence on playing slow, unimaginative football - while the grotesque level of financial backing, something no manager in United’s history has been granted so early into their term, has proved to be a waste given his poor utilisation of certain individuals who appear suffocated in his rigid formations.

In addition to the above we are seeing the emergence of a new van Gaal that is becoming more familiar than the cool, calm manager we thought we were getting in the summer of 2014, as his petulance sees him regularly divert the attention off his sides' poor results by placing it all on his theatrics in the press-room. In the days of social media dominance he, and to a greater extent the proud club he is representing, has now become the butt of many an embarrassing meme.

Of course it doesn't really matter if he is pleasant and polite in interviews, or whether his behaviour during press conferences (storming out for no reason and unjustifiably demanding apologies from the media instead of discussing football) is atrocious. All that matters is that he backs up this arrogance with wins. Only the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson were able to get away with such behaviour, yet van Gaal, as much as his sterling reputation would suggest otherwise, cannot.

Even yesterday, after a spirited performance against Chelsea, he was at it again, complaining of media “lies” regarding him leaving United rather than addressing our current form. Given that he is indeed still the manager of this club, the reports of his imminent sacking are perhaps entirely untrue, however maybe he should focus more on the facts that matter, i.e. the ones that are justifying such rumours.

Since United’s last win (away to Watford in November) we have been knocked out of the Champions League and convincingly displaced from the top four, dropping to sixth, behind by Tottenham and Crystal Palace in the league. Another defeat at the hands of Swansea in the first game of 2016, with wins for West Ham, Watford and Stoke City, will see us drop to ninth in the table. Given the lack of imagination in front of goal that has dominated our performances throughout 2015/16, it is exactly what van Gaal's United deserve.

Image via the Guardian
Judging by some of the videos/images from the terraces after yesterday's game it seems as though the fans are still divided in their feelings towards van Gaal. One video showed the die-hards in the Stretford End chanting "Louis van Gaal's red army" at the end of the game in support of the manager, while some fans were spotted (bizarrely) holding 'Jose Mourinho' scarves during the game (above).

Personally, I'm in disagreement with both sides. Van Gaal has never had an army playing for him at United, merely a collection of players he has tried and failed to forge a unique style from, while Mourinho is a man accused of committing virtually identical crimes to van Gaal in alienating his players and losing the dressing room, while showing zero integrity and responsibility, at Chelsea. Is this really the man we expect to outperform van Gaal, restoring a sense of pride and passion in our performances?

One thing is for certain though: van Gaal has utterly ignored the simple principles laid down by Ferguson and Busby before him; never stop advancing and always fight to the end. Instead he favours his own failing 'philosophy', and therefore must leave.

His slow, academic style does not suite the culture of the club, the players he has inherited, nor the expensive stars he has recruited. Therefore his unwillingness to consign to the ‘United way’, while thinking his egotistical approach would turn United into winners, has instead turned us into a laughing stock.

From his unimaginative anti-United style of football played on a weekly basis, the undignified manner he carries himself in the press room, and the hundreds of millions he has spent - Van Gaal has never been, and will never be, a United man. And with every game and every disappointing, unfamiliar performance that goes by he continues to poison the proud, great legacy that has been built buy the proud, great leaders of the past.

This manager has clearly run out of ideas, losing control of his players while rapidly tarnishing his and the club's reputation by failing to record a win in 27 out of 53 games in 2015. For someone so obsessed with doing things his own way, van Gaal needs to finally show some integrity, admitting that his philosophy does not work when it involves rejecting the United way, and resign before things go from bad to worse.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Predicted XI | MUFC vs. West Ham United (5/12/2015)

GOAL | David de Gea

DEFENSE | Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Paddy McNair, Daley Blind
As we were for last Saturday's draw away to Leicester I presume...

Rojo is out with a dislocated shoulder, so Blind will continue at LB. Jones is also still out so McNair will carry on in the centre partnering big Mike Smalling. Darmian, of course, will play on the right in defence.

MIDFIELD | Jesse Lingard, Morgan Schneiderlin, Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ashley Young
Now recovered from his brief injury, Lingard has to start again on the left for me. Every time he picks up the ball in midfield he looks bright, energetic and fills us with hope that something decent is about to happen. He's definitely been United's most adventurous player during this rather dreary spell we're currently in the midst of. Now onto the rest of the midfield...

Reader's of my blog will know my thoughts on the one-dimensional, oppressive system that is currently being deployed by the manager - emphasised most prevalently by the constant reliance on the two holding midfielders plonked in front of the back four. Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger therefore will undoubtedly continue their run in that role. As class as they both are I really do wish he started FOR ONCE with only one in the side, ideally operating in a 4-3-3. You can only dream, eh?

In Rooney's absence (ankle) Mata will play in the no.10, and personally I'd like to see Young go on a little run on the left now - although I can see Depay, now recovered from the injury that kept him out of the Leicester game, restored to the line-up.

ATTACK | Anthony Martial
No Rooney so Martial will lead the line alone. Confidentially and successfully one hopes...he's certainly due a goal after the fantastic start he made to his United career having not scored since the Champions League drew against CSKA Moscow in October and Southampton away (on 20th September) in the league!

Prediction | 2-0
I can see us getting back to winning ways in the game at home to the Hammer's tomorrow afternoon. They're awesome start to the season disintegrated and restored itself into the average brand of football we come to expect of them. In addition I'd hope to see a more mobile Martial against West Ham, operating with a bit more freedom thanks to the absence of Rooney.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Predicted XI | MUFC vs. Leicester City (28/11/2015)

GOAL | David de Gea

DEFENSE | Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo
This is the same back four that started during the week against PSV. Jones is sitting this one out due to injury, but even still Blind is steadily growing into the role of centre-back, alongside Smalling, as is Rojo as replacement to Shaw at left back. Darmian will more than likely start his first league game since the Palace draw at the end of October.

MIDFIELD | Jesse Lingard, Morgan Schneiderlin, Juan Mata, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Memphis Depay
I give up trying to reinvent van Gaal's midfield, or suggest that - even in light of the consistently unimaginative football being played and serious lack of creativity produced game-after-game - he finally start playing a different system.

Against a poor Watford side, as he did against the equally poor West Brom, he continued to play the rigid 4-2-3-1 system with two holding midfielders sitting in front of the back four. With all the decent attacking, creative options we have is this really the best option? Or, as is proven in virtually every game the tactic is deployed, is he just suffocating the life and soul out of this once great, exciting football team?

So, although it pains me to say this, Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin (who was awful in the Champions League against PSV) will keep their place because...well...just because. However I would play Mata in the no.10 role over Rooney - who is fast become to van Gaal what Fellaini was to David Moyes. Lingard and Depay, both of whom have looked like the only player's interested in creating chances and trying to score recently, will definitely both start,

ATTACK | Anthony Martial
There is only one man to lead United's attack (quite literally!!). Martial's energy and innovation set him apart, even though most of the time the rest of the team fail to move to the same beat.

Prediction | 1-1
I'm going for the same scoreline that I predicted (and, thankfully got wrong) for the Watford game last weekend. There is currently no stopping Jamie Vardy, who'll look to break Ruud's record and score in his 11th straight league game, however although we've been uninspiring this season there is no denying that big Mike and co. have been extremely sturdy in defense. Add to that the fact that Leicester City have not performed brilliantly against the big teams so far - drawing against Tottenham, Stoke and Southampton and losing to Arsenal - I can see Vardy and Leicester's attack struggling against us this weekend.

At the same time however, I can't see us beating them. So although a win will see us top the table we could end the weekend in fourth fact, if we lose while Citeh, Arsenal and Tottenham win we will be outside the top four since August. To be honest, given the overall quality of football that has been produced by United so far this season, it is no more than we deserve.