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Pogba palaver Since Ole has taken the wheel there’s been a lot of looking backwards, particularly at the Fergie days, and trying to recapture a supposed “United way”. Whilst some see this as a promotion of youth and others as playing cavalier, attacking football, the one unifying theme I see from Sir’s time is the idea of the dressing room above everything. That you must have a group of players that have a collective spirit, a willingness to put themselves on the line for the good of the cause, where the team comes above any individual. Team spirit and a strong dressing room were, probably more than anything else, the driving force behind Ferguson’s greatest teams. How did he react when a player got too big for his boots, as Paul Ince did? Or when they began to damage the morale of those around them, like Keane or van Nistelrooy? They were shipped out, unceremoniously. The team over the individual, every single time, no matter how good the player.
The United dressing room in 2019 seems, from the outside at least, to be an absolute shambles full of preening individuals. If we are intent on rebuilding the club, sorting this out should be priority number one. Which leads me to the player who should be top of the list of any departures (well… possibly after Sanchez), Mr Paul Pogba. I’m glad you “want a new challenge” if it means you’ll get the hell out of the United dressing room. This is speculation, as I don’t have a fly on the wall camera, but it seems to me like the guy is an absolute cancer to team spirit. Sir, as ever, had the perfect term for it; Big Time Charlie. And the man had Pogba’s number from the get go and I’m convinced Fergie’s instinct for this kid being a total arse is what led to his departure for Juventus in the first place.
If you think I’m being harsh, look at this performance in the first leg against PSG; a man who wants to be a leader getting himself petulantly sent off when he thought the tie was lost. Read the quote that leaked out of the training ground after Jose was sacked; “he f**ked with the wrong baller” whilst offering high-fives. There is absolutely no doubting his talent, he’s one of the best of the world 25% of the time, but he’s a terrible influence and I think he’s most rotten of the rotten apples.
If Real or Juve are willing to offer us our money back, I’d rip their hand off. The sooner he’s gone, the better. Lewis, Busby Way
…In a round-about way I’m going to get to why Pogba is worth 150m and football as we know and love is dead. United and Pogba are reflections of each other, both have potential to be up there with the best but both seem to be distracted by the commercial side of the game.
Pogba the footballer: He is the complete midfielder; I don’t think there is anything he isn’t capable of in defence or attack. He physically has everything needed – he’s strong, fast, great engine, vision, balance, technique etc., but struggles with consistency/focus. As an attacking midfielder he is capable of brilliance, of unlocking the most stubborn of defences with a run/pass/shot but for whatever reason (couldn’t be arsed or just frustrated by being surrounded by shit) struggles to do it consistently.
He’s a fantastic player and on his day can be the best player on any pitch (with the exception of Messrs Ronaldo, Messi, & (my pick) De Bruyne).
Pogba the money maker (Hopefully someone who works in marketing, or understands this better than I, can elaborate further): This is where I think his problems stem from, Pogba is the most marketable player United have, he’s comfortable in front of a camera, dancing, dabs, clothing, YouTube etc. (remember United unveiled him in a video dancing – imagine Keane/Stam/Vidic being unveiled like this?), the only marketable competition he has is probably Rashford or Messi Lingard. I can’t see people rushing out to buy/sponsor Man Utd merchandise/noodles with Phil Jones’ face painted all over it. Pogba is a footballer and an “influencer” (I’m not sure what they are either but they seem to make a lot of money somehow).
Mourinho made the following comment on Pogba at the World Cup “I think the World Cup is the perfect habitat for a player like him to give [their] best. Why? Because it’s closed for a month, where he can only think about football. Where he’s with his team on the training camp, completely isolated from the external world, where they focus just on football, where the dimensions of the game can only motivate. “During a season…you can lose your focus, you can lose your concentration… In the World Cup… You are in the group phase, you go to the last 16, to the quarterfinals, to the semi-finals, to the finals. This feeds the motivation. This feeds the concentration of a player.”
When the distractions are removed, Pogba proved he is a fantastic player but as long as he’s a superstar first and a footballer second he’ll never consistently show become the player he can be; the player who helped France to win a World Cup, the player United bought from Juventus & the player Alex Fergusson sold not because he didn’t see his potential but because he didn’t like his agent.
Pogba sells, simple as that and its part of the reason Woody would have stumped up the cash to purchase him in the first place, just like United’s performances on the field do not determine the clubs ability to stay profitable so too with Pogba, his performance on the field does not determine his value, it’s his marketing ability which does, he is a ‘superstar’.
United bought him for about 90m and seem to be looking for 150m in return. Regardless of his performances Pogba’s value is driven as much by his marketing ability which hasn’t diminished rather than his footballing ability/potential. Sad times for football fans.
The game has turned into a sideshow, it’s like WWF with footballs instead of tables, ladders and chairs… I’m going to make a bold prediction, just like wrestlers used ‘call out’ other wrestlers it’s only a matter of time until we start to hear the ‘trash talk’ between clubs, Connor McGregor perfected it and turned an average UFC fighter into a household name, talked his way into a bout with Mayweather and now has >100m and will likely never fight again.
Wrestling used generally have 2 types of wrestlers, heels and heroes, heels cheated or were evil (think the Undertaker or Kane) and gave the crowd someone to boo, Heroes were the good guys gave the crowd someone to cheer (the Rock or Stone Cold)… how dissimilar was this year’s league run in narrative portrayed by the media: the heel City (boo evil Arabs who commit torture) vs the hero Liverpool (yay the good guys ‘destined’ to win the league without any blood on their hands).
Regards, Consumer Dave
…Sure you’ll get a few on this subject but I think United should definitely consider selling Pogba after his recent admission that he “fancies another challenge”.
I think the wording of it couldn’t be more ironic. He wants a new challenge. Let that sink in. He’s at his boyhood club, where they are going through a transitional period, possibly the most testing in their recent history. If he wants a challenge there is arguably no bigger at the top table of world football right now.
This is coming from a player who was the fulcrum of a very patchy and inconsistent side which blew it’s lines at various points last season. He was meant to be the driving force in midfield against teams that made them look average time and again. It’s a fair point that he’s not surrounded by world beaters, but someone of his supposed calibre should be making a difference more often in big (and small) games.
He has the build of a gladiator and the technique to go toe to toe with some of the very best in the world, but his mentality is that of a passenger. Much in the way Ozil can look on another level every 5-10 games, Pogba can turn it on but then doesn’t turn up week after week and it hurts the team.
The problem isn’t just on the pitch but off it and in his head – he’s elevated himself to a position which his performances are just not matching at the moment. He is the obvious option for captain and United must have had him in mind to lead the club forwards in this role. It’s damning to say the least that he cannot be trusted in this position and it’s left to journeymen like Ashley Young to lead the way as the club sleepwalks through games.
As talented as he is, I think he doesn’t have the fight or determination to succeed when the chips are down and I think United should sell him – if the price is right – as that is where hey are at. The chips are down. Reinvesting that money in the right places could be the shot in the arm the club needs, they just need to look to another rejuvenated northern club for the blueprint.
I suppose the silver lining is that with Hazard already at Madrid we needed a long, drawn out transfer saga to fill column inches this summer… John-Jack Wanny (get Tielemans)
…A real shocker. Further to your article on 16th June: Pogba stuns Utd: ‘Time for a new challenge somewhere else’. Can I also just stun the hierarchy at Man U with astonishing revelation that the Earth ISN’T flat. Honestly, breaking news or what? Tim SCFC
…Well well well, after 3 years of mediocrity, social media shenanigans and Jackson Pollock hairstyles, Pogba has decided he needs a new challenge. Translation- I don’t have the capability of turning my career around at United so I want to go and defraud another set of fans by masquerading as a World Class midfielder. I give it 2 seasons before the Madristas boo him and he skuttles off to Juve. An absolute disgrace to the badge. Anyone who feels i’m bitter for him leaving, can read my mail from March 2018.
It’s time for a new era at United, let’s milk Madrid for everything they’ve got and start to build a team of substance. Mason Wild
Reasons for optimism Despite all the doom and gloom, I would think that Man City and Liverpool aside, Man United should feel the most positivity of the remaining big 4 for the next year. Here’s why.
Spurs have been phenomenal over the past seasons but their parsimoniousness will start to catch up with them (yes, I know we said this last year). Kane, Son and a few others are due a relatively lean spell, and Pochettino must be pondering what’s next. Now that the new stadium is up and running, unless some significant investments are made in the team, he will be looking at his options. They’ll do well, but will they improve on last year?
Arsenal’s combined purchase of PEA and Lacazzette for £100m look like deals of the century in retrospect, with the starting price for almost any recognised player now at £50m. But behind that Arsenal need a big rebuild and don’t have the funds for one. Ramsey will be sorely missed, and Ozil seems to be reaching the end of the line. A couple of good central midfielders and the odd defender aside, Arsenal can’t be too happy with most other positions.
Chelsea are in all kinds of trouble. A new manager, a transfer ban and the loss of Hazard, with the last probably being the most significant. As we know you can’t replace a magical footballer even with 3 ‘very good’ players and get the same results. And Hazard has been fundamental to the Chelsea cause. Still, Chelsea may be forced into making the most of that famed youth system and this may be the making of a golden generation. But with a new manager, it’s still a massive risk. (Ironically, the manager known to do wonders with young, unproven players, is one Arsene Wenger.)
Which brings me to United. Yes, the season was a shambles, and yes, a huge rebuild is required. But most United fans will settle for a comfortable top 4 finish, and a season of good, productive football. Ed ‘Pot Noodles’ Woodward may be at fault for a lot of things, but his commercial successes ensures that a transfer budget of between £200m and £250m should be there for OGS. And if Pogba and Lukaku want to leave, United should definitely recover another £220m from their sales. That budget looks good enough for (even on the basis of the absurdly quoted sums in the tabloids), Harry Maguire (80m), Wan Bissaka (50m), Tielemans (40m), Longstaff (25m), James (15m), Bruno Fernandes (60m), Joao Felix (100m) and Nicholas Pepe / Mousa Dembele (50m). Now, this doesn’t mean we’ll get these players, or that United can successfully execute that many deals with the current structure, nor that these players will all settle in and kick on. But the point is that Solskjaer has put in a set of principles around youth, and putting the club first, and United have also been clearing a lot salaries (Fellaini, Herera, and potentially Sanchez, for example). So United fans can at least look forward to a fresh start with a young and exciting talent rather than the jaded millionaires who can barely be arsed to get out of their bedroom slippers on matchday.
Also, United’s advantage in the transfer market is the number of players who haven’t worked out for United but have market value of some kind. For example, Bailly could be offered in part exchange for a central defender.
Oh and I absolutely love Rashford but if it is true that he’s looking for 300K/ week as reported after a season where he didn’t make it to the top 25 list of goalscorers in the Premier League, he needs to be shown the door. Ved (Here’s to fresh starts) Sen
I love Lamp-ard Unfortunately I agree with skinnyman that the fans probably would turn on Benitez for little to no reason. But such a shame we should be looking at the best options available for the club, we are at a big big crossroads as a club and we need it to go right with the competition from wolves, Everton and maybe Leicester. I love Lampard the man is a club Legend, well spoken, well educated and just seems like a stand up guy and when he was on the pitch for us he always made it feel like we had a chance, no matter who we were up against his performance and professionalism never wavered. He was my hero growing up, and I really hope if he does take the job he gets given the years he will need to implement the plan I hope he has. And who knows with Cech upstairs as sporting director maybe we will finally see some sort of direction as a club with two highly intelligent club legends in the hot seats. Build an identity to go with the ruthless trophy winning machine this club has been for the last 15 years. Aaron. CFC. Ireland.
Shining a Lamp on hypocrisy Good morning, thought I would touch on the British press and the differing reactions to 2 managerial appointments if I may. Firstly my team United, when Ole was taken on the general consensus was the job was to big for him, then when he went on that run it was mmm! perhaps he might do okay then the slump, no we told you to big for him. On to the Chelsea job, Frank 1 job Lampard is being touted for the role as the perfect candidate, tabloids, Talksport etc telling us Frank is the perfect fit Mr Chelsea the perfect guy to bring through the kids due to the recruitment ban. Now Ole is trying to bring through youth as well as buy young hungry players at United, he has a vision on where he wants to go and hopefully will get the backing needed yet he is looked upon as out of his depth but Mr Chelsea who has had even less managerial experience than Ole is the perfect fit, I don’t underst… oh hang on he’s English so that’s okay then.
Now Frank might just go there and do a fantastic job and good luck to him but to be touted as the messiah while another young manager at an even bigger club is not the messiah he’s a very naughty boy smacks of typical jingoistic myopic pro English bias, the type F365 has pointed out time and again. So why not just shut the f*ck up for 5 minutes and let them get on with their jobs and we’ll see who acquits themselves better in the coming season Paul Murphy, Manchester
PL v CL pissing contest Is Edwin Ambrose, MUFC for real???? Did he really say: “You should enjoy the champions league. The most lovely of cups. Its no league title though is it….no” and “as proof” provide what players/managers thought 30 years ago… facepalm.
The thought that United having two more league titles “eats alive” liverpool fans in our finest hour, is something so deranged it could only be muttered by a desperately lost soul clinging to what little solace he has left pretending to ‘have a point’.
Liverpool have TWICE the number of European Cups United has. 6-3… The biggest trophy there is to win in the world. The stuff legends are made of and the biggest stage to prove your worth. And we are positioned to inevitably claim the title for years provided we don’t screw over our magnificent team chemistry.
So that’s that. Objective reality. Imagine a world in which victory over norwich, soton, villa, leicester would be worth more than over bayern munich, barcelona, ac milan, real madrid… Would have to be an Engurland type lost in his own delusion to believe that! Raúl H. García (3 League titles and 2 European Cups in 5 years for LFC now) YNWA-1892
What would Woodland do? I’d like to invite Megan Rapinoe. Jill Ellis and the US national team to watch Gary Woodland win his first US Open at Pebble Beach.
And watch him respect his playing partner, Justin Rose, who still had to putt after Woodland’s win. And learn from that.
He won his first major and watch now he behaved. Don’t tell me you have to “celebrate” your first goal at the World Cup when it makes it 13-0 over a weak side. Don’t tell me you ran over to console the Thai team as an excuse after the final whistle. Don’t look for excuses. You rubbed their noses in it. I don’t have an issue with playing hard, I don’t have an issue with the score. I have an issue with how you behaved.
That’s how you become great.
Thank you. Steve, Los Angeles.
The busiest man in football What with the summer transfer window being open in Europe, most Directors of Football and the like are probably pretty busy this month. But I would argue that the busiest man in football right now is Hajime Moriyasu.
As head coach of Japan’s senior men’s national team, he was in charge for two friendlies earlier this month, against Trinidad and Tobago (0-0, with the T&T goalkeeper making countless outstanding saves) and El Salvador (2-0 win), in preparation for the Copa America. Japan are taking part as guests, alongside the team that beat them in the Asian Cup final, Qatar. Japan start with a match against Chile tomorrow morning, then play Uruguay and Ecuador. Moriyasu’s squad for the Copa America is quite experimental, partly by design and partly by circumstance: many European clubs didn’t want to release their players after the Asian Cup and World Cup, while Moriyasu is also looking towards the Tokyo Olympics and blooding a lot of youngsters.
That’s not all for Moriyasu though. The reason he’s planning for the Olympics is because he’s also the head coach of the national under 20s team, which just had its World Cup. Japan were knocked out in the second round after somehow managing to lose 1-0 to South Korea despite dominating the match, but their performance in the tournament was heartening because of their depleted squad.
The squad wasn’t just depleted because of the senior squad but also because of the Toulon Tournament for the under 22s, which Moriyasu is de facto head coach of as well. They made it to the final after beating England, Chile and Mexico, and drawing with Portugal. The final against Brazil was 1-1 after 90 minutes so it went straight to penalties, and Brazil won 5-4.
On top of all this, Moriyasu gave a senior debut to Takefusa Kubo in the second half of the El Salvador match. He’s widely touted as the next big thing in Japanese football, and he’s been playing really well this season for FC Tokyo. He’s just turned 18 and immediately moved to Real Madrid, upsetting Barcelona as Sid Lowe explains in his most recent Guardian article, because Kubo was in their youth system for a few years until they were sanctioned for breaking rules regarding youth players from overseas and he was sent home.
So this month is a busy one for Hajime Moriyasu, but hopefully by the end of it he’ll have a clearer picture of who’s going to be involved in the Olympics next summer.
Regards, James T, Ishikawa, Japan
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