Assured, Confident and like ‘The Old’ United
An encouraging performance at the Hawthorns this afternoon saw three goals, three points and three Englishmen on the scoresheet. Goals from Rooney, Jones and Welbeck saw United regain 6th place on goal difference from Everton as the side look to build momentum. The game failed to match the drama seen in last season’s 5-5 draw, but it was not without controversy and turmoil.
A Broken Manchester United
Broken. That’s the one word that sums up Manchester United right now.
There’s a lot that’s broken. The fans’ faith for one. After Saturday’s game against Crystal Palace, there was a new sense of belief. Rooney had signed a new contract, scored a lovely goal and the team seemed to want to play football. That hope, that incredibly small glimmer of hope, was shattered into a thousand pieces last night when Gianluca Rocchi blew the final whistle in the Karaiskákis Stadium.
Many fans, myself included, saw last night as the point of no return for David Moyes. The team, sauntering around the pitch, failed to close down and challenge an Olympiakos side who, albeit incredibly good at home, should never have posed a threat to a team like Manchester United. The problem is, they did. Manchester United made Olympiakos feel like they were the team to be feared.
The last point has been one of the major issues all season, repeated over and over again by bloggers, journalists and pundits. The fear factor has disappeared. The only team, this season, who have seemed remotely scared of Manchester United were Leverkusen, and look what happened. The fans were blessed with a rare, exciting performance under David Moyes.
The defeats against Newcastle, West Brom, Everton and so forth exemplify this. Something needs to change.
I think I speak for the vast majority of supporters when I say that last night really hurt. Just like breaking a leg, watching your favoured team collapse in front of you is painful.
The players look like they have given up on their manager and last night felt like a message. The Champions League was the last straw for Manchester United fans to clutch at and Olympiakos got to it first to help them take their own victory sip. Even Van Persie, normally as relaxed as they come, vented a bit of frustration after the match, stating that other players were getting in his way and were hindering his game. Whether this was a dig at Moyes’ tactics or at his teammates, it’s not exactly clear, but it shows how low the morale is in Manchester United’s dressing room.
Sacking Moyes now seems like the easy way out. I wrote a piece after the Swansea defeat in the FA Cup on this very website asking for fans to stay behind David Moyes and support him whilst he is here, but I would be lying if I said that, since then, the thought of him leaving hadn’t crossed my mind.
Getting rid of Moyes before the West Brom game would certainly go against everything the club has said over the past year about giving the new manager time. The lack of eligible candidates to replace him is also a problem. Many have suggested Heynckes. Unfortunately, the former Borussia Mönchengladbach striker has retired from football after leaving on a high and would be foolish to taint such a perfect ending to a managerial career by helping Manchester United try and reach 5th in the Premier League.
The only realistic and eligible option is Hiddink, but with the club, barring a miracle in the return leg at Old Trafford, already on its way out of the Champions League, there is really nothing left for an interim manager to play for. Whether the club gets a Europa League spot or not is not something many Manchester United fans care about and, let’s be honest, it would probably hinder next season a fair bit.
If Moyes is to leave, the summer is the best time. The season will be over and other managers will be more willing to leave their current clubs and try and be the one to turn things around at one of the greatest football clubs in the world.
Moyes is not entirely to blame for this season’s failures (Elijah’s very good piece from a week or so ago analyses how problems at the club go a lot deeper than just the manager), but it does seem like the Scotsman has come in and become some sort of Wreck-It Ralph. The lack of Fix-It Felixes out there means that all we can do is hope that Moyes manages to end the season on a good vein of form and let the club analyse this season with plenty of time to make a level-headed decision in the summer.
They say patience is a virtue. Well, it seems now has come the time to become very virtuous.
Points off Palace ahead of a Grecian Adventure
There was a pleasant return to winning ways for David Moyes and Manchester United this evening as the team won away from home for the first time this year. Goals courtesy of Van Persie from the spot and Rooney on the half volley ensured that the team jet off to Athens on a high.
#83 The Wolf of Wayne Street
During this week’s episode of the Can They Score podcast, we discuss the two performances vs the London teams before moving onto the sensitive subject of Wayne Rooney’s new contract. Finally, we discuss the two upcoming games against Palace and Olympiakos whilst hoping that this week’s podcast can bring some joy amidst the doom and gloom surrounding the club at the moment.
Rooney new contract: A costly mistake
It leaves me feeling angry and confused that the proud nation of France is so often cruelly stereotyped as too willing to cave in to strong willed aggressive personalities with unreasonable demands. Context be damned as judgments are laid down condemning the ease with which Robespierre, Kaiser Wilhelm, et al imposed their will on the Gallic populace. How sad then that my pod-brother Frenchy has backed Manchester United to act in just such a fashion. How can such a talented young football writer possibly support signing up to five more years of the Rooney Stretford circus? He’s wrong. Here is why.
Rooney new contract: Keeping your best asset
If you really don’t want Rooney to stay at the club, I suggest you stop reading now and head over to Tom’s piece on the matter.
Many will agree with Tom and will refuse to accept the reasons why Manchester United have decided to give Wayne Rooney, more commonly known by haters as “The Evil Scouse Backstabber”, a new contract. However, I know there are some out there who will understand why the current Premier League champions, currently lying in 7th and 11 points behind 4th, want to keep one of their most important players.
#82 Bad Boyes for Life
During this week’s episode of the Can They Score podcast, we once again review David Moyes’ tenure at Old Trafford after another disappointing display at the Britannia Stadium. Dissecting the team, tactics and post match press conference- this week’s podcast gets down and dirty with all the questions hanging over the Scotman’s head in recent weeks.
Can Juan Mata Make a Difference This Season?
In comparison to their frankly comical display in the summer, Manchester United’s transfer activity in the January window was positively professional. There were no inside leaks, no rushed loan offers and no unaffiliated lawyers trawling around Spain looking for a decent central midfielder. Instead, United’s sole piece of activity was the acquisition of Spanish playmaker, Juan Mata.
#81 Hakuna MATAta
Although Mata’s arrival may not of ended all of United’s worry, this week’s episode is at least somewhat more optimistic about our on the pitch prospects after confirmation of Juan Mata’s miraculous move to the Theatre of Dreams. Looking at the opportunities his arrival may bring, this week’s podcast is suitably suited to the transfer deadline day hype that will be bombarding your screens over the coming days!
Digging deep for a vital 3 points
A Boxing Day win added to every United fan’s festive cheer but Moyes will be far from pleased with the overall performance of the players on show. The positives? United dug deep and showed good character to come back and earn a 3-2 win. The negatives? The midfield looked as leaky as ever and defence was far from perfect as two sloppy goals gave the home side the league.