Saturday, June 10

Updated: Things Ed Woodward Is Doing To Harm Manchester United

In rough chronological order:

1. Summer 2013 Chasing Fabregas, Bale and Ronaldo like a fucking schoolgirl. Neither came.

2. Briefing journalists Not only chasing these players, but - rather embarrassingly - chasing them publicly via constant briefs to the media. He's calmed this since, but not by much.

3. The Moyes Sacking 'David, you're no longer needed here.' 'Yeah, I know. I read it in the papers yesterday.' Disgraceful.

4. The Rio Sacking Telling one of United's greatest ever centre-backs he wasn't getting a new contract IN THE ACTUAL DRESSING ROOM.

5. Selling our soul Do we really need to sponsor a fucking tractor in Japan? Argh. Stop. It's enough.

6. Summer 2015 Chasing Ramos and Neymar - oh, and Bale again - like a fucking schoolgirl. Neither came.

7. Saved by the Fax Machine Acting Phil Mitchell all summer, telling Madrid they couldn't have De Gea unless we got whoever else in return, only to transform into Ian Beale at the last minute. De Gea was going, but for Madrid's late fax.

8. Christmas 2015 The worst December in United's history. Not a single win. Every fucker knows Van Gaal simply does not get United and must go - but Woodward was clearly too scared for his own rep as the sacking CEO.

9. The Head of Academy Farce After a belated, supposed year-long search to find the new head of United's youth academy, Nicky Butt gets appointed. The same Nicky Butt who was there all along.

10. Jose, Jose, Jose If you're going to appoint Jose Mourinho, fine. But the level of speculation has been endemic - a Mourinho trait - so why not tell him to calm the fuck down out of respect for Van Gaal and his players?

11. The Special Cunt But if you're going to appoint Jose Mourinho, then you really don't get Manchester United.

12. The Griezmann excuse Ok, we had Griezmann in the bag. He decides to stay at Atleti at the last minute, and our public excuse is that we cooled interest cos replacing Ibra is a higher priority. Nah, mate, no-one's buying it.

13. The 25% Summer 2017. Jose wanted four. Ed got three. Whatever way you smoke it, Ed failed.

Saturday, May 20

Jose Mourinho Will Never Be A Manchester United Manager

Update: I wrote this BEFORE Jose's embarrassing Souness rant in the match programme (shame on whoever let that slide) - does United's public reputation of integrity no favours at all.

And BEFORE he didn't walk around Old Trafford after the last home game of the season to thank the fans for their support.

Original: I didn’t want him. I didn’t think he was a Manchester United manager. The mould of Ferguson and Busby, every commandment they established, in my opinion, he barely resembled one.

And I almost started to like him. Come Christmas, United were playing the way United should, the scandal circus was still in check, he knew all the right things to say, particularly that winning comes with entertainment… he just got it.

And I still want him to stay for years to come, simply because we can’t keep restarting every other season and – whether we win the Europa League or not – the style of football has improved, that 25-game unbeaten run showed great restraint and he doesn’t half love a second season.

But come May, I’ve realised that although he does get United, he is Jose Mourinho. And not - and never will be - a United manager.

Day 1:
His agent leaks the news to legitimate press he was coming to United literally one hour after LVG won the cup final. Just classless - and there’s no way Jose didn’t know about it.

The Mid-March Top 4 Wish-Away:
The chief excuses for prioritising the Europa League over Top 4, when we could have gone for both, are the fixtures pile-up and the injuries.

“We’ve played a complete Premier League in five months,” he said on Friday. “And we had four big injuries. Imagine if we had Zlatan, Rojo, Young, Shaw. We’ve played every match possible minus the FA Cup semi-final and final.”

He’s not wrong. We’ve only ever played 64 games in a season once before and the injuries came to two of our best-performing players (well, Zlatan and Rojo, at least) at the worst possible time.

However, Jose has been wishing away Top 4 since mid-March.

Then, we didn’t have so many injuries - ok, Zlatan was suspended for three games (one of which was already gone) - but, having just beaten Rostov to progress to the next stage of the Europa League, Jose proclaimed: “We have a lot of enemies… It’s difficult to play 12 o’clock on Sunday… We will probably lose to Middlesbrough.” Wait, what?

Sure, the FA don’t help English teams in Europe (you’ve known that since 2005, Jose). Sure, Ferguson was known for pulling out the old “enemies” line now and again. But one thing he would never do is actually predict a loss - even in jest, that’s one Jose step too far.

Yet, this was only the beginning of what was Jose tactfully putting all his eggs into one Europa-shaped basket, long before the injuries to Zlatan and co.

After (somehow) beating Middlesbrough, Smalling and Jones did get injured in the international break. But there we were, now 5th in the table, four points behind 4th, 11 games to go and with two games in hand.

But there Jose was, telling the media in his pre-match press conference ahead of our next game at home to West Brom: “In 15 days’ time, maybe the Premier League is not important for us. Maybe it is.”

We drew that game 0-0 - Zlatan was completing his last match of suspension, Ben Foster was having one of his dickhead ’I’ll-show-them’ moments and goalscoring has perhaps been our biggest flaw all season - but you’ve got to question Jose’s despairing mentality in and around these matches.

Come early April, having just beaten Sunderland away 3-0, we were still 5th, still four points behind 4th, now eight games to go and still with a couple in hand. Yes, there were nine games this month, but at this point, the squad was big enough to cope.

But there Jose was, telling the media in his interviews after the game: “We want to fight (for Top 4) until it’s mathematically possible.”

“Mathematically possible”? “Mathematically possible”?! Zlatan, who opened the scoring, said: “We will do everything we can to get into Top 4.” See the difference?

The “mathematically possible” shtick was repeated all throughout April. Then, the big injuries to Zlatan and Rojo came, and any resemblance of a Top 4 basket was chucked down the chute for good.

We still beat Burnley and nabbed a tactical point against City. We had a couple more tough aways coming up, but we were one point - one point! - behind 4th, five games to go and one in hand. All we had to do was beat Swansea at home. We could probably even afford to lose away to Tottenham.

“We have to put everything in the Europa League,” said Jose, ahead of the all-important game against Swansea. “We will prioritise Europa. We want to win a trophy.” Wait, what?

Lucky to be 1-0 up at half-time, our tempo in the second half was questionable. Almost as if Jose told them to “prioritise” their energies for the Europa League semi-final first leg four days away.

But don’t prioritise their energies, or even attempt to kill the game as early as possible, and maybe we don’t regret our rotund 37-year-old 31-year-old handing Swansea a fatal free-kick with 10 minutes go.

Was Top 4 over now? No, not “mathematically”. But according to deceptive Jose, it was. And the rotund 37-year-old 31-year-old struck again - twice - to derail us against Arsenal and Tottenham.

Jose has looked to blame the big injuries, but he started gambling in mid-March, long before we were in the shit. Back then, we had not-one-but-two golden chances to get into the Champions League, but he knew the fixtures pile-up was coming and took an unnecessary risk. It’s just shit.

He probably hasn’t managed the squad well enough - why have Zlatan and Pogba played so many games? Why let three go mid-season without bringing anyone in? Why not, like a true United manager, test Tuanzebe and McTominay earlier in the season? Or in any one of those nine games in April? Especially, when Bailly got injured against Swansea (due to overplaying) and full-back Darmian is preferred over centre-back Tuanzebe?!

But aside from that, telling the media that your players are tired? That we’re only going to fight for the Europa League with an incredible chance of Top 4 still there? Do we really believe he’s telling them any different in the changing room? How can his defeatist mentality, not affect theirs?

Maybe, back in mid-March when he started to wish away Top 4, he believed he couldn’t trust his squad to achieve both. Maybe he just wanted to show everyone how selfish The FA are by not rescheduling our fixtures.

Either way, he’s the manager of Manchester United, and his pessimism stinks.

Trust Issues:
By the end of LVG’s reign, he was probably debuting as many kids as possible just to get on the right side of the fans.

But we all know what happened last February when, with Will Keane injured three days before against Shrewsbury, we had to put an unknown 18-year-old striker on the bench for our Europa League tie at home to Midtjylland.

Anthony Martial gets injured in the warm-up, and we have to start him.

Would Marcus Rashford have happened under Jose Mourinho? Not a chance in hell. Will Keane probably wouldn’t have happened under Jose. He’d have forced Mata upfront, should Martial have got injured.

And his record of promoting youth this season just hasn’t been good enough. The moment he snubbed Tuanzebe to play Darmian out of position against Swansea after Bailly got injured said absolutely everything.

He mentioned there has to be a “right moment” for youngsters to get their chance earlier in the season, but this is Manchester United, and subbing on Timothy Fosu-Mensah every other 90th minute is borderline offensive to what this great club is about.

So is giving debuts to players like Tuanzebe and McTominay in meaningless games, and although Tuanzebe was more than impressive handling Sanchez against Arsenal, the shackles were clearly on him going forward. Not to mention he was playing at full-back.

He claimed in his first ever press conference that he ‘wanted to play young players’, but weeks later he loaned out Pereira, Varela and Borthwick-Jackson, and kept Memphis, Young and Darmian.

Maybe this season is more about making sure we get back to winning trophies and into the Champions League than developing youth, but what if Tuanzebe doesn’t start any Premier League games next season?

“My Brain, His Body”:
I was going to write about how appalling it’s been of Jose to publicly attack the players when things haven’t been going well. But, in fairness, everyone he’s criticised - Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones - have all responded fairly well.

Actually, maybe not Smalling, as his fuck-ups against Arsenal and Tottenham proved.

But there have been times when Jose has crossed the line’s line, and the time he said Shaw was playing with his body, ‘but Jose’s brain’, went too far. It was straight bullying, no matter how much Shaw has done to irritate him.

Schweinsteiger’s shocking treatment, making him train alone and away from the squad for four months - allegedly because of something Ed ‘Ian Beale’ Woodward mentioned to Jose over Schweinsteiger’s lack of effort in his first season - was so bad, Jose admitted to regretting it.

And Martial simply should have been told that his squad number was being taken from him. This was poor.

The Pain Barrier:
When Marcos Rojo injured his knee at home to Anderlecht, he went down… then carried on playing for another few minutes, before colliding again, going down in agony and off with a stretcher.

Now he’s out until January.

Why did Rojo play on? Could it be because he had Jose’s insanely ridiculous warning about playing through the “pain barrier” in his mind?

Maybe there is a “cautious, cautious, cautious” culture at United, as Jose said, in this day and age where “you don’t have to go for a scan every time you get a knock”, as Roy Keane said.

But trying to force players back from injury is clearly one dangerous game, Jose.

The Top 5 Stupidest Things He’s Said:
1. “We will probably lose to Middlesbrough.” Where the Mid-March Top 4 Wish-Away all started…

2. “It was his body with my brain.” Fuck off, Jose.

3. “You should talk about Wayne’s record today and tomorrow 24 hours and then finish.” Even for the rotund 37-year-old 31-year-old, that’s harsh.

4. “This club is for the best managers.” A subtle dig at Moyes and LVG… on his first day.

5. “The new football is full of Einsteins.” If the Einsteins (football pundits) annoy you, Jose, just pretend you don’t even care.

Tuesday, January 10

When Marcus Rashford Beats Wayne Rooney's Record

Rooney. Firstly, an exceptional footballer. 249 goals in his United career is a phenomenal achievement. The hat-trick on his debut, the City goal, the dive for the penalty that beat Arsenal's unbeatables. He hasn't looked after himself well enough to equal Sir Bobby's record in sooner than 543 games, although at age 31 it's still incredible, but there is no doubt - he is one of United's greatest ever players. But... I was more happy that Marcus Rashford scored a brace on Saturday than I was Rooney meeting the record. It's not that he questioned our ambition in 2010 - after we replaced Ronaldo with Valencia and Obertan, he was probably right to, at least privately - but that he handed in a transfer request, actually prepared to join City. SAF was forcing him out in 2013, probably because he saw the decline of a player who wasn't taking care of himself and was so far removed from the world great he could have become. This time, his transfer request wasn't official but he was ready to leave again, for the oil money again, at Chelsea. More than anything, though, this, for me, is what it comes down to: at age 79, will Wayne Rooney be sitting in the directors' box at Old Trafford watching someone else break his goal record? Hell no. Because he doesn't really love United and he never really has - especially since that original transfer request. There is no bond with us fans, as United has only ever been a trophy-filling job to him. This is a quote from Ander Herrera: "I feel very appreciated by the United fans and want to give the love back to the fans that they give to me by giving everything. I know what Manchester United means, I know what it means to the fans and I try to make them proud." When has Wayne Rooney EVER said anything like that? He may be captain, but there is a disconnect between many genuine United fans and Rooney. Those in Calcutta only see the stats. He's an Everton fan - and I have no problem with that - but he's got no actual affection for the club he plays for and, to me, you need that if you want to be considered a legend. The way we love Eric, Giggs, Scholes, Solskjaer, Charlton himself. When Wayne Rooney becomes United's all-time leading goalscorer, I'll be impressed, but a little sad. When Marcus Rashford beats that record, 12 years from now, I'll be so fucking proud and happy.

Thursday, December 1

Albums Of 2016 - No. 15 to No. 1

1. Frank Ocean 'Blonde'

2. Bon Iver '22, A Million'

3. Glass Animals 'How To Be A Human Being'

4. Klangstof 'Close Eyes To Exit'

5. Band of Horses 'Why Are You OK'

6. Frightened Rabbit 'Painting Of A Panic Attack'

7. Drake 'Views'

8. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam 'I Had A Dream That You Were Mine'

9. Santigold '99 Cents'

10. Jamie T 'Trick'

11. Daughter 'Not to Disappear'

12. Michael Kiwanuka 'Love & Hate'

13. Explosions in the Sky 'The Wilderness'

14. Lonely the Brave 'Things Will Matter'

15. David Bowie 'Blackstar'

Albums Of 2016 - No. 30 to No. 16

16. Car Seat Headrest 'Teens of Denial'

17. Whitney 'Light Upon The Lake'

18. Radiohead 'A Moon Shaped Pool'

19. Mutual Benefit 'Skip a Sinking Stone'

20. Animal Collective 'Painting With'

21. Yeasayer 'Amen & Goodbye'

22. Billie Marten 'Writing of Blues and Yellows'

23. Bloc Party 'Hymns'

24. BRONCHO 'Double Vanity'

25. Bat For Lashes 'The Bride'

26. Weezer 'The White Album'

27. Kanye West 'The Life of Pablo'

28. The 1975 'I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It'

29. Twin Peaks 'Down In Heaven'

30. Lady Gaga 'Joanne'