Two games in and two straight defeats! Not what we were really expecting was it? In both games we’ve played with a lack of energy and creative edge. Some of how the team has been set up has puzzled with questions as to the selections of three defensive midfield players in the team and an absence of creativity and penetration up top.
I’m as disappointed as the next Mag but although there has been a lot of work and money invested this summer, such was the appalling state of the squad, there is still much work to be done. We know Anita down the flank doesn’t work and Dummet isn’t an adequate performer at left-back. Gayle is struggling badly up top on his own and Rafa’s try of Diame up top with him against Huddersfield didn’t work and Perez looks a shadow of the player who made such an early impression following his arrival from Tenerife. A banned Mitro gets better with every game he misses but it is true some defenders at this level will need to have their cages rattled to create space for attacking players and he might be able to do that. Defensively as well, we have conceded three really bad goals and that can’t go on.
These are very early days for Rafa and we need to be patient. I’m of the view that Sissoko needs to go but I’ll leave that to Rafa’s judgement as to whom, when and for how much. The money he brings in has to be invested in a left-back, a winger and a striker. It is gratifying to hear the club’s name connected with players in all of those positions.
I think it will be a healthier atmosphere around United (not to mention benefit the payroll) when the likes of Riviere, De-Jong, Tiote and Saviet are moved on.
What we need to do however is not turn into fannies and make Rafa’s job any tougher than it is now. Our support has been galvanised by Rafa’s decision to commit his future to our club and we have to think in the longer term and understand that once Rafa gets the players he needs, the team will click and we’ll make the progress we all want. This man is one of Europe’s best and he knows what he’s doing. I have 100% confidence in him.
That’s not to say the last two games haven’t been disappointing, of course they have but supporters have to see the big picture and understand Rafa is building something at United for the long term. This isn’t Pardew, Carver or McClaren being badly found out. This is Rafa Benitez taking a club to pieces and putting it back together again. It’s going to take time but my confidence in him is unshakeable. We will be promoted this season.
There are two assignments for Rafa and the team this week when we face Reading at SJP and travel to Bristol City for an assignment against The Robins. It would be great to see the team click at some point over this week but similarly I’d like to see some movement in the transfer market and the players brought in who we are linked with and those who have no future at United being moved out of the club. This is going to be a long, hard season but as we reflect on two sobering results we have to realise this is about the whole season and not just some opening games when Rafa has not yet brought in the players he wants, moved on those he doesn’t want and got his message through to the players about how he wants them to play.
Saturday’s game saw the debut of new fans’ group, Gallowgate Flags and I don’t think many would disagree that the display they have organised through donations from supporters was an astonishing success. I have been going to SJP for 40+ years and I have never seen a display like that in all of that time. The Gallowgate has never looked better. The response from supporters, the media and importantly the club has been gushing and people are keen to see all of this happen again.
Of course it was extremely depressing that fellow supporters should steal over £1000 worth of flags (around 80 in total) and it doesn’t wash that people thought it was okay to take them – there were incidents when some supporters in the process of stealing flags more or less threatened the organisers of Gallowgate Flags and in one case decided to smash a pole when he was challenged about taking a flag. They weren’t young daft kids taking them, I challenged one middle-aged fan who I’ve clocked as a long term season ticket holder ripping the flag off a pole. He should know it’s a small world and I know where he works. If you know of anyone who stole a flag let us know and we’ll pass details onto the Police. Don’t give me that grassing crack – that’s all Charva shite.
For all of that, there may be some who stole flags who might be reflecting on robbing from their own supporters and depriving the team of future displays and it is to be hoped they take up the offer of the amnesty offered by The Back-page and just hand them in there, no questions asked. The lads in The Back-page will get them back to Gallowgate Flags. If you are reading this and you took a flag then 90% of fans felt you pulled a real prick’s trick. But you can redeem yourself by bringing them back and not be a twat forever.
I know the people behind Gallowgate Flags and they were gutted at what happened at the end of the game but the display and the response of supporters has encouraged them to continue. Sure, they will need to really look at how they manage how they organise the displays otherwise if this is repeated the whole thing will not be sustainable. We would all lose a lot if that happened. However, as I understand it, there will be more news this week from Gallowgate Flags about what happens next.
Gallowgate Flags still needs donations to continue and you can help by sticking what you can in the pot.
This is going to be a really busy week for us at true faith. We’ll have match previews, match reports and two issues of The Special out as well. We may have something of a surprise in store for you as well. As well as that, our resident Pod Squad will be opining on matters of a Black & White nature as well.
Remember if you want issues of The Special e-mailed into your in-box, just register to receive them here.
They are absolutely FREE and find themselves into the in-boxes of thousands of your fellow supporters from the Tyne to Timbuktu (no exaggeration).
We also have the true faith SUMMER SPECIAL available for you too. Just click on the image below and it’s all yours. As ever, all completely FREE.