Here we are then. Relegation zone. Out of both cups. Four defeats in a row. No goals in four. No wins in five. Still haven’t signed any of the 4 players (minimum) we need to stay up. Still no sign of a proven striker. The same mistakes made by the ‘board’ AGAIN. It’s nauseating. It’s tiring. It’s boring.
Being ‘bored’ is in vogue at the moment. Our esteemed opponents this Tuesday are a boring team. They’re actually a boring club. That’s because unfortunately for Manchester United fans, there’s loads of similarities between them an NUFC (hear me out). The Glazers are terrible owners. Rubbish. They’re just not as rubbish as Mike Ashley, Ed Woodward is incompetent, just less incompetent than Lee Charnley. Like Newcastle United, only the bottom line matters, Only the pound (or dollar) impresses the men at the top and the total ineptitude of the managers in question is ignored while disaster beckons as the ‘football’ people at each club are too under-qualified to actually do anything about it.
Manchester United are a farce this season. They were a farce last season in reality but staggeringly got third place largely due to the genius of David De Gea and the ineptitude of Arsenal and Liverpool. That Arsenal have had to be merely competent this season suggests a mass failure of the other teams who have the resources to – including Manchester United. The fact is Manchester United should be the equal of Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG and Bayern Munich. Their fan base, history and financial might gives them the platform to compete on that level. Instead they lie fifth in the Premier League (and are lucky to be there) and are out of Europe’s elite competition.
Louis Van Gaal is almost as deluded as Steve McClaren. Almost. The bloke is an embarrassment. His side are so desperately poor despite the resources available to him. Like McClaren, the game has passed him by. Mark Hughes is a better manager. Good managers these days realise that attacking football and chance creation are necessary to win games. Managers like Van Gaal and McClaren are part of the ‘we created two chances so should have scored two goals’ school of thinking. Tight games with tight outcomes. That’s what they trade on. That’s how they made their careers. The game has moved on. Listening to either of these managers insults your intelligence. Good, proper, football teams know they have to create three or four guilt edge chances to score. How many chances do Arsenal City and Leicester miss per game. Loads. That’s how it goes. Defences and goalkeepers are better than ever before. Watch some highlights from the 95/96 season when we blew the title. Some of the goal keeping you see and defending is laughable. Maybe in the last 15 years, you could rely on having 4 or 5 shots on target a game and scoring three goals. No longer.
Louis Van Gaal is not good enough for Manchester United. I can see it. Every Man Utd fan can see it. Yet the people running the club have done nothing? Sounds familiar doesn’t it.
Therefore it is not only Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley who baffle me. Steve McClaren has won 4 (four) league games from 20 league games as manager and defeat against this sham Man United team would be 4 from 21. There’d be 17 games left to get at least 7 wins and 3 draws. The maths doesn’t work. What at all suggests that Steve McClaren is capable of producing those wins? There is a mountain of evidence to say he cannot. Yet he remains in a job. Bournemouth and Norwich are signings players. Good players. Players that would get in our first team. The clock is ticking.
Like the manager of Manchester United, Steve McClaren talks about former glories as evidence he knows what he is doing. What Louis Van Gaal did at Barcelona in 1997 is as irrelevant (if more impressive) to Manchester United in 2016 as what Steve McClaren did at Middlesbrough in 2001 is to Newcastle United in 2016. Both men have made that argument this season. Both men deserve the sack, neither will likely get it.
Where does that leave us for the game this Tuesday? It’s got to be 0 0. Last season’s fixture at SJP was a shambles. I expect the same here. The game is set up really well for McClaren’s dire football team to sit deep, get to 60 and then counter attack. Man Utd love a bit of sterile possession. The pace and power of Martial negated by being stuck out on the left. Rooney mostly anonymous (though he usually does the business against NUFC). What do we need to do to win? Man Utd don’t concede many and we can’t score, so 0 0 looks a safe bet. However keeping a clean sheet is essential as I can’t see us scoring two.
I normally spend a lot of these previews talking about McClaren should do – but I can’t even do that. He did a lot of things right against Watford. The new formation seemed to be working ( I only listened to it – so I may be wrong) as we created good chances and Watford created very little in the first half, it sounded like it was going OK. Yet McClaren pulled it at half time. Doesn’t he have faith in his own tactics? There’s nothing I can say that I think will win us the game, besides a big old slice of luck. Fact is, if Man Utd play well, they win the game. It’s always been that way really since Robson left – the difference is they used to be good. They’re not any more, we’re just worse. Much worse.
I’d love to see Mbabu get a go at LB and Man Utd’s ropey full backs exposed or at least tested by our flanks. I’d like to see De Jong restored to the side, not because he deserves it really, but Perez is such a good impact player from the bench and De Jong adds a little more stability in the middle in the first half, when normally we don’t cross the half way line. Even if we get a point, does it matter? We need wins, fast. Man Utd are there to be beaten, I just can’t see McClaren getting his fifth win of the season against them. For the first time in years United didn’t throw the game in the cup on Saturday as he picked the strongest team who by all accounts still put in some sort of shift, and we still got beat. Not only is McClaren not good enough, he can’t even fuck up properly.
When Charnley does finally pull the trigger, it’ll be too late.
Follow Alex on @tfalex892
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