Category Archives: The Goldbridge Blog

Manchester United Players to Blame – The Goldbridge Blog

“We mustn’t lose to Chelsea” was the last sentence from my last blog. Unfortunately Chelsea didn’t just beat Manchester United at the weekend, they annihilated us. I’ve heard some United fans saying the score didn’t reflect the stats and if David Luiz gets a red for his challenge on Fellaini then it’s a different story…. Well if Robert was my mums brother he’d be my uncle. And don’t get me started on stats. For those of you who’ve had the misfortune of playing me online at FIFA you’ll often here me moaning in defeat, “this has not been a four nil game and I’ve deserved something out of it” Well trust me. United’s loss to Chelsea was not one of those scenarios.

Like the derby against City United were very lucky to go in at half time with the score they did. Two nil to Chelsea flattered us and I don’t think anyone would have argued if Chelsea had scored at least one more. We were outclassed, out thought and most surprising and humiliating of all for us fans, outfought. One hundred per cent effort and concentration should be an absolute given for any player fortunate enough to wear a Manchester United shirt. The fact that is now an attribute we desperately require is a sad and damning indication of just how bad United’s current plight is.

Do I blame the manager? No. Do I blame the players? Yes. David Moyes was always the wrong choice as a Manchester United manager and I’ll never entertain any discussion that maybe he wasn’t that bad. To be frank it was like leaving KFC in charge of your chickens. Moyes arrogantly destroyed the structure of the club by dismissing all of the successful backroom staff and then put a cherry on top of the rubble that was the United empire by buying Fellaini – the one purchase that strangely enough is still undermining everything we try to do on the pitch three years later.

Then came Van Gaal. Arrogance and idiocy are a lethal cocktail but Louis had the mix down to a tea. Clueless in his efforts to impress a slow and methodical European style of football on to the fast paced Premier League, Van Gaal drowned in his own nonsense. However, his legacy, like that of Moyes, is one that is damaging the club today. Signings such as Di Maria, Rojo, Darmian, Schneiderlin, Memphis and others have at best been flops and at worst have enabled the club to fall perilously behind our rivals.

Jose Mourinho picks the team and I can’t defend selections such as Fellaini but when you scratch the surface of the problem at United the obvious issue every time is the players.

As a squad it’s not good enough. Like a beached whale, United’s playing squad is bloated, out of it’s depth and going nowhere fast. Yes it would be easy to single out a Fellaini, Rooney or Memphis and lay the blame on individuals, but I think we’re past that. United’s problem is a far greater one and like most major issues in life, it’s a culmination of a number of things.

One, we’ve bought consistently badly over the last three years. The financial cost is sickening but the damage all these signings have had on the club is the weight that’s sinking us. Our squad is top heavy with failed signings. All of us could name five, some of us can comfortably go higher. To have that many failed players taking up squad places, stealing oxygen at United is criminal and it’s a legacy Jose has had to inherit. Add in to that the so called “senior pros” who have presided over the disaster that has been the last three years at Old Trafford and the restoration process moves from difficult to daunting. Rooney, Young, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Carrick, all senior pros at the club, all on big wages, all part of the last three years of failure and all for differing reasons part of the problem.

So when fans start looking for someone to blame, and after three years blame is the right word, it’s the players where the buck has to stop. Over half our squad is not good enough and that is the job Jose Mourinho faces. There’s no quick fix. It’s going to be a long process. But to blame him for the failings of the last three years is wrong.

How long will it take? How long is a piece of string? The easy solution for Mourinho was to come in, sell half the squad and bring in his own half. But when has that happened in football? This isn’t FIFA, it’s real life. It’s going to take time, maybe two or three transfer windows. But have no illusions, the players have let us down. They earn thousands of pounds a day to live the dream at our club and they are abusing it.

By Mark Goldbridge

Manchester United must beat Chelsea

Manchester United are just an expensive Stoke City, Mourinho is no better than LVG, United parked the bus at Anfield….. The list goes on and all I’ve got to say to the above is let the haters hate.

In fact, let’s welcome it. Because in reality all that’s happening is a futile attempt to deflect scrutiny of the haters own failings. In the case of Liverpool, that they’ve been exposed as a side lacking imagination and creativity when a side doesn’t give them the space to do what they want. For the press, that their determined effort to undermine our manager and champion the new boys of Pep, Klopp and Conte isn’t gathering pace. And for other rivals it’s plain old fear. Fear that United are within touching distance of every single one of them despite a mediocre start to the season.

What did I think of the Liverpool game? It was a bit like foreplay. There were really positive parts and there were things we could have done better. But it will all be for nothing if we don’t progress south – against Chelsea.

So does that mean the Chelsea game is a must win? I think it’s unfair to put that pressure on a United side that has a pretty horrific record at Stamford Bridge – only two wins in the last sixteen games. Add in to that the media meltdown and hype around Jose’s return and common sense would suggest this isn’t a game Chelsea can afford to lose. But it’s a game United really could do with winning.

Another point and another battling performance with plenty of heart and commitment wouldn’t be a terrible outcome. However, with Arsenal and City both having very winnable home fixtures this weekend even a well earnt point at Stamford Bridge will see us drift to seven points behind the leaders – not an insurmountable amount but still a healthy gap for two major rivals to have at this time of the season.

Without question four points from Liverpool and Chelsea is exactly what United should be targeting if they want to get back amongst the title challengers. Some might say it’s a big ask from arguably our two hardest fixtures of the season but the way the seasons gone so far we need that sort of boost. Two draws whilst not a disaster, isn’t quite enough, especially after the costly two points we let slip at home to Stoke. But football is an odd mistress and there’s a world of difference between another ground out nil nil draw and a six goal thriller where both sides share the points. So to totally dismiss a draw against Chelsea at this stage would be unfair when it very much depends on the circumstances come six o’clock on Sunday evening.

The positive is that I’m sure Jose Mourinho will go with the intention of taking all three points from his old employers. He’s got more than one point to prove to Chelsea and if he can pull it off it would be the perfect catalyst to kick on and have a great season.

What we mustn’t do is lose.

By Mark Goldbridge

Manchester United’s time to silence the Scousers

CLICK HEREWriting this week’s blog I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in a very dark and lonely place – and I’m not talking about Liverpool’s trophy room. I’m talking the international break. There’s no doubting the international break is a long hard slog. But unlike Liverpool’s twenty six years without a title win, it will come to an end. So hang in there and stay strong.

Seriously though, my advice is to surround yourself with positive things – short video clips of Slippy G costing the Scousers the title always cheer me up – and the international break will be over before you know it. But it’s Liverpool, as you may have guessed already, who are featuring strongly in my thoughts this week. Like a painful little pimple on the backside they are a constant irritating thought that threatens to erupt in to something far bigger this month. October may not quite be a do or die month for United but if it goes wrong our season will be in serious need of life support.

From the mocking tweet the United Stand twitter account received from the official Liverpool account a few weeks back to the constant goading from giddy Liverpool fans, there’s a growing optimism amongst those red scousers that this is the year they will finally knock us off our perch. And what better way to do that than to beat us at Anfield a week on Monday. Am I concerned? The honest answer has to be yes. I hate losing and I really hate it when United lose to Liverpool. So to come away from Anfield with nothing will be a huge kick in the nuts. And just like a kick in the nuts the pain will linger on for a long time after.

Do I expect us to lose though? That’s the big question. And to that I say a defiant NO! We are Manchester United. Yes we’re going in to a pressure cooker environment. Yes this is the Scousers annual Anfield cup final. And yes I’m sure the referee will be desperate to give the biased media exactly what it wants, penalties to Liverpool and Jose’s head served up on a plate so they can stick the knife in some more. But I said it in the summer and I’ll say it here again. United need to build a siege mentality. We need to start fighting and believing and proving the haters wrong. And what better way to do that than to go to Anfield and win.

Can we do it? Yes. Will we do it? Football is a funny old game and we’ll need more than ability to win there. It only takes a weak referee to undermine a good performance but we must go in to that game standing tall and ready to fight from the off.

Which brings me on to my second Liverpool irritant this week. First of all I want to say a huge thankyou to all of you who voted for us in the Football Blogging Awards because The United Stand has made it to the final in two categories. The final will take place LIVE on YouTube on November 17th from Old Trafford and there’s nothing we’d like more than to be stood up collecting an award and thanking the people who really matter – you the fans. But we’re up against it to be honest. And worst of all we’re up against it from Liverpool accounts. Liverpool accounts twice the size of us who will most likely be crowned winners at Old Trafford…It’s enough to make you throw up.

So if United matters to you, and The United Stand matters to you, please please please take the few seconds to vote on the links below. It’s going to take a huge effort to pull this off but like Mourinho’s United we can do this if we pull together and give it everything we’ve got. Every vote could be crucial so please take the few seconds to cast YOURS! If you’re on Twitter just click the links and tweet the vote tweet in both categories to cast your vote.

Twitter Vote Links
Best Club Account CLICK HERE
Best Fan Channel CLICK HERE

And if you’re not on Twitter please click the website link and cast your vote for us through there – just hit the drop down menus for “Best Football Club Blog” and “Best Video Club Blog” and vote United Stand.

Website Voting Link CLICK HERE

WE ARE THE ONLY UNITED ACCOUNTS IN THOSE CATEGORIES SO IF WE DON’T ALL VOTE WE’RE BASICALLY HANDING THE AWARD TO LIVERPOOL AT OLD TRAFFORD….

Mark Goldbridge the Forest Fan

They say never feed the troll and by writing the below I guess I’m doing just that. However, there seem to be a few “super reds” determined to spread lies about me, and more importantly destabilise The United Stand, so I thought I’d feed the troll with so much truth it chokes.

It’s a sad state of affairs that it’s always Manchester United fans who are determined to cause trouble and try to shut The United Stand, especially when it’s sole purpose is to be an independent fan channel where fans can really say what they think about the club they love. When we started the channel we never anticipated just how severe the infighting and hate was amongst some United fans. Without doubt we have some of the best football fans in the world but as with any large group there’s a vocal minority determined to ruin it for others.

I’m not naming names – I don’t know most of them – so where their hate and disdain for something that has only ever been an outlet for United fans to share their views comes from I don’t know? But what is clear, is these people are absolutely determined to shut us up. Why? I could speculate and say they have their fingers in other outlets that would benefit from a United fanbase with no United Stand in it? Or maybe they just can’t stand the look of my aids victim face and would like to repeatedly kick my alien head in – just a sprinkle of the torrent of abuse I get from fans of our own club whom I’ve never met, spoken to, or given them reason to dislike me for, other than present a show that talks about the club we all apparently love…..

Which brings me nicely on to one of the main reasons for writing this piece. Apparently I don’t support Manchester United. Some Columbo detective types have been trawling the internet and old tweets – I don’t know whether to be proud or worried that there are actually people out there spending hours of their time researching me but each to their own, some people spend hours every week watching Jeremy Kyle – and they’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a Forest fan….

I say Columbo types but that’s undoubtedly doing a major disservice to the cunning raincoat wearing American sleuth. These so called whistle blowers are actually showing all the investigative skills of Dot Cotton in a coma. Because the harsh reality is that the Forest connection doesn’t come from a fake photoshopped website post from 2014 that I apparently wrote…. it comes from a video where I mentioned quite openly my past connection with the Nottingham based club.

So you admitted you’re a Forest fan Mark? I hear the handful of people who will actually read this article cry – one of which will be my Gran – and that’ll be the Alzheimer’s kicking in. No I’m not a Forest fan. The Forest fan angle is just the twist the haters want to spin to try and discredit The United Stand. To which I’d quickly like to make this point. I’ve always been vocal that The United Stand is the fans channel. Obviously as the presenter I am the main face of the channel as things stand – no pun intended. However, I’ve made no secret of my desire to take a step back in the next couple of years. Like any decent football team it’s important to freshen things up with new talent and leadership and that is the vision for The United Stand. So if these dissenters think that by discrediting me they’ll achieve their true aim of silencing an independent fan channel that’s sole aim has always been to give football fans a voice in a football world dominated by money and greed. They’re in for a shock. The United Stand is here to stay. It’s never been about me and it never will be. So many people have and continue to contribute to making this channel what it is. Some of them you will know and some of them choose to keep their names out of the public eye. But their efforts and dedication to the cause are immense.

“Stop dodging the subject you fraudulent Forest Fan and get to the point!” I hear my Gran cry – the other four readers have given up by this stage. Well the point is this, and I apologise for those who watched the video a few months ago and have heard all this before. I grew up in Nottingham. My Grandfather, from whom my passion for football was born, idolised Duncan Edwards. Not because he was born a Manchester United fan but because in the fifties a side emerged that even in a time before television captured the imagination of a nation. A young side comprising the best youth talent from around the United Kingdom was making history. Because of that innovative, new and exciting approach to football many new United fans around the country were born and many many more would be drawn to the club in the immediate aftermath of the Munich tragedy. Although as my Grandad always said, they would never get to see play the fantastic talents the club lost that fateful day.

I can hand on heart profess that the only reason I support United is because of my Grandad. If he hadn’t been so passionate about the club and how it rose from the ashes of tragedy to greatness there’d have been no influence on me to mould me in to the United fan I am today.
Mark Goldbridge the Forest Fan…

But what a reason to support Manchester United. Some support them because they’re born in Manchester or because they saw a United game and fell in love with the club. Some like Alex, support them because they fell in love with David Bellion – or it might have been Beckham? I support them because my Grandad idolised Duncan Edwards and the Busby Babes.

It’s not a competition though and that’s where I believe a lot of this hate comes from. Some of the criticism of The United Stand comes from those who believe they are superior over those of us who aren’t from Manchester and don’t go to games. Personally, I’ve never been in to fan superiority, mainly because it’s total nonsense to suggest a fan from Manchester matters or feels it more than one from Essex or Australia. I agree that nothing compares to watching football live and our match going support, especially the loyal away support, is undoubtedly the best in the country. But to say you’re a better fan because you go to games is ridiculous. I know fans who go to Old Trafford every game simply to wine and dine clients. The reality is it’s what’s in your heart that matters not where you park your backside.

So why after all of the above do some fans say I’m a Forest fan? Because they want to discredit me and by association The United Stand, is the short answer. They took something I openly discussed with our viewers in a video a few months ago and have twisted it to try and bury the channel.

To repeat that truth I spoke in that video a few months ago. I’m from Nottingham, my Mum – a United fan – and Dad – a Chelsea fan – don’t ask – separated when I was seven and on the weekends when I used to go to my Dad’s he started taking me to Forest games. We’d never been before and when he married again I didn’t go again. But for a few years in between we used to go quite regularly. I’ve asked him about this and his explanation was that he knew I loved football and it was something to do when we visited at the weekend. Like I said above, you can’t beat live football and as a young boy I got to see some great players in that couple of years.

Amongst those games I saw the likes of Gazza, Waddle, Hoddle, Lineker live. I got to regular witness one of the greatest manager’s that ever lived in Brian Clough, and I saw some things I never ever want to see again.

The late eighties wasn’t a particularly family friendly environment at football matches, the mood was edgy and quite often there was trouble. Most of the games I went to were at the City ground – Forest ground – but the FA Cup mattered in those days and when it came to an FA Cup quarter final between United and Forest at Old Trafford near my birthday I begged my Dad to take me. He obliged and I experienced a day I’ll never forget. My first visit to Old Traffford. We arrived late because of traffic but the atmosphere, the old Stretford end with the Wonderfuel Gas logo along the top. It was amazing for a young boy to experience and whether you crave the good old days or revel in the fact we’ll never go back to the hooligan culture, I have to say the atmosphere was nothing like we’ll ever see again in football grounds. The edge was slightly taken off the day by a Garry Parker goal for Forest in a one nil win but the bonus was a semi final against Liverpool at Hillsbrough.

I grew up with a few Liverpool fans in my class and even back then my dislike for them ran deep. So the prospect of going and watching Forest knock them out was one I was looking forward to. Of course what I would actually witness from the Forest end of the ground was a tragedy that no football fan will ever be allowed to forget.

People often ask what do I remember of the day and if I’m honest alot of it I try not to, the ground was on lockdown for what felt like a couple of hours afterwards and having front row seats to the horror that was unfolding in front of us was something I’ll never forget. Of course the tragedy is all about the people who lost their lives , their families and the people of Liverpool. But there were thousands of people in the ground that day, many of which weren’t from Liverpool, and I’m sure every single one of them carry round those memories with them to this day.

So that’s my Forest connection. I don’t support them. I was lucky enough to go and watch them for a few years in the late eighties and I don’t regret those opportunities. The last time I went to a Forest game was 1989. I continued to grow up and live in Nottingham until I was nineteen and never once went to watch my local team play again, despite a number of my school friends being Forest fans and going down their most weekends. United were and are my club and that will never change for the reasons stated above.

Let the haters hate. Let them photoshop websites declaring me as something I’m not. Let them produce old tweets from two years ago where I was winding some Forest and Liverpool fans up about how the old European cup between 1970 and 1985 was so easy it was like winning the Auto Windscreens cup. The truth is what is written above.
For those who’ve been asking about the Forest fan comm
ents I hope the above explains it. For those who think I am a Forest fan I look forward to attending the Oscars in February and receiving my award as best Actor. Because to spend the last two years talking as in depth and passionately about United as I have with all of you would take acting skills of epic proportions.

As I always say, I’ll talk United with anyone. I have no issues with anyone. And I certainly don’t spend my live hating on people. Life is too short and hatred clouds your judgement.

Thank as always. Mark Goldbridge

Jose Mourinho to Manchester United latest

Will Jose Mourinho become Manchester United manager this summer? Some fans are certain that whether Van Gaal scrapes 4th place or not Mourinho will be taking the Old Trafford reigns this June and United will begin the resurrection to greatness we all crave.

The confidence of these fans is to be admired – although I suspect they’re staking their reputation on a 50/50 outcome and hoping for the best – because simple business sense suggests Van Gaal will be sat on his rear end for another 38 games next season.

Why? Because the numbers are stacked firmly in his favour and ridicule the notion that a deal has already been agreed with Mourinho. No agreement will be made until United’s top 4 status is determined.

And it’s that top 4 position that will decide whether we become the next Liverpool and fall in to oblivion over the next few years, or we get back on the top table where we belong. The worst case scenario for Woodward and Van Gaal, not necessarily the fans, is a failure to secure 4th place. The loss in gate receipts, prize money and commercial deals would see a revenue drop of at least 30 million pounds. In addition to that Woodward would also be forced to release his friend Van Gaal to save his own skin, who with a year left on his contract would cost a further 3-5 million if reports on his contract are to be believed.

35 million pounds down and with no Champions League football it’s only at this juncture we’d expect Woodward to go cap in hand to Mourinho. Whether Jose would relish the opportunity of taking over a club absent from the world’s top football competition that will struggle to attract the world’s best players is another matter. However, the offer of a 10 million pounds a year contract over three years and a 150 million pounds transfer fund should persuade him. And we the fans would get the appointment many of us crave.

But what if Van Gaal does manage to salvage 4th place? Suddenly Ed Woodward’s wallet isn’t feeling so light. No 30 million loss for missing out on the Champions league, no need to pay 5 million to fire his great friend Louis, and no need to spend 10 million a year on the fans choice Mourinho. 4th place from Van Gaal saves Woodward at least 45 million straight away. So why at that point would a shrewd businessmen like Woodward and the Glazer’s decide to sack the man who’s just saved them so much money for a man who will demand they spend a whole lot more? Not forgetting Van Gaal will have also delivered them a nice end of season trophy in the FA Cup.

The short answer is they won’t. Jose Mourinho may be the overwhelming fans choice and 30 years ago that may have counted for something but today football is 100% about money. And that money talks a lot louder than you or me. The harsh truth is Mourinho is highly unlikely to become Manchester United manager if Van Gaal secures Champions league football.

Which leaves the true victims in all of this, you the fans, suffering again. Do you choose Champions league football and another season of Van Gaal, or do you sacrifice it and hope the club are forced to sign Mourinho?

Personally, I go for the latter option. Short term pain for long term gain.

Just beware the so called “In The Know’s” spouting the dream of Top 4, an FA Cup and Mourinho coming in June. It’s not happening.

By Mark Goldbridge

Would you sacrifice top 4 to get rid of Van Gaal?

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Two steps forward two steps back for United

Manchester United and Paula Abdul. Who’d have thought that would ever be the opening line to our blog? But as the late great Abdul once sang, “two steps forward two steps back” is very appropriate when discussing Louis Van Gaal’s reign at United. Unfortunately, in this instance, opposites don’t attract.

The cold hard truth is, like Anderson in a takeaway queue, United fans are losing patience fast. And who can blame them? Yes Lingard has missed four golden opportunities in the last two games and Martial should have done better with his chance in the first half against PSV. But on the flip side of the coin, how many saves did De Gea make against Watford last week and who could seriously say PSV weren’t good for their draw on Wednesday night? As for the Fellaini substitution, Van Gaal can absolve himself of blame all he likes and blame results on poor finishing but he is solely responsible for that disaster. Love or loathe Fellaini in a United shirt – it’s got to the point now where I have a sick bowl beside me in preparation for his arrival – it’s universally accepted that Fellaini was found out months ago. Mourinho cut down the tree last April and teams have been drilling holes in his game ever since. Bizarrely, Van Gaal seems unable to grasp this truth and has been trying to replant the “felled” tree ever since. It’s dead Louis! Sell it for firewood and move on.

Let’s pretend Fellaini was still effective for a moment though. Is that really how United fans want their club to play? That when things aren’t going to plan in the first half of a game we immediately revert to the Fellaini slow build up, high ball option in the second half? To be blunt – like United’s attack – it’s championship tactics and that’s where Fellaini belongs. That may sound harsh but name me a side in the Premier League that would have him in their first team? Sunderland definitely, Newcastle maybe? Other than that I’d argue that none of them would. The game has moved on since his Everton days and the truth is he’d struggle to make the match day squad of City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool.

But let’s not lose sight of the real issue. It’s not Fellaini’s fault. My gran supports United and if she was offered the chance to play up front for her club I’m sure she’d jump at the chance – chronic arthritis permitting. So we can’t blame Fellaini for being picked. Van Gaal is paid to make these decisions and like a carwash attendant who uses a brillo pad to wax a Ferrari, it’s him who is responsible for the issues we face right now.

Amazingly, a win at Leicester will put us top of the league though. And with two winnable home games and Bournemouth away to come that would give us a massive chance of being top by Christmas Day. With that in mind it’s surely very hard to be LVG out if that becomes a reality? Of course the flip side is, by the middle of December there’s a good chance we’ll be in the Europa League. Unforgivable when you look at the Champions League group we were placed in.

Personally I think both scenarios are highly likely. Which brings us back to the start. Two steps forward two steps back. I suspect I’ve stumbled upon the name of LVG’s United legacy? Or another one might be “How to make winning painful”. Let’s wait and see.

Manchester United Christmas Number 1?

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Michael Buble sings Christmas providing some festive ambience and Manchester United top of the league. A very idealistic view of Christmas day afternoon in the Goldbridge household but two of those scenarios should become a reality – And to give you a clue which two, I’ll struggle to roast a chocolate finger on my gas fire let alone a chestnut.

Starting with Watford away this Saturday lunchtime, Manchester United have a run of five games to Christmas Day that really should see us top of the league way before we all settle down to watch the Queen’s speech – Spoiler Alert! Apparently it’s a good one this year and involves lightsabers and an army of bad ass corgis.

Back to United top of the league though, stay with me on this one I’m not light headed from an early binge of mince pies and babycham. Watford away, Leicester away, West Ham home, Bournemouth away, Norwich at home. Those last three fixtures have to be nine points straight away no matter how poor the football might be under LVG. We already know West Ham are without Payet but even so West Ham and Norwich at home has to be six points for a side like ours. Then Bournemouth away shouldn’t pose any problems – they’re struggling like John Terry in a spelling test adapting to the Premier League. On top of that they’ve lost a couple of their best players with long term injuries.

So nine points are in the bag straight away – he says with all the confidence of Stevie Wonder on a tightrope. Moving on to Watford at the weekend, as harsh it may sound it has to be three points. With the players we have compared to them anything less than a win is a failure. Yes Watford are well drilled but let’s not start making excuses, they’re one of the favourites to go down and we should be challenging for the title.

That means twelve points from the next fifteen and leaves us with the Leicester game the week after next. Admittedly Leicester are doing very well but we should be looking to go and win. Especially after the disaster of last year. Yes I can hear fans saying “Don’t be so optimistic” and “Stop jinxing us before we’ve kicked a ball” but to those fans I say this. Remember who we are. We’re Manchester United and we should one hundred per cent be looking at these games and saying anything less than maximum points is a missed opportunity a club like ours should always be grasping. With Arsenal playing City in these next five games and United only two points off the top, if we do what we should do and win the next five we’ll be where we be like Shakin Stevens in 1985 – Christmas number one.

Of course the funny thing will be if the football doesn’t improve and we grind out five dire one nil wins and remain near the bottom of the league when it comes to chances created. Personally I’d still be happier than an Arsenal fan in fourth place. Van Gaal won’t be sacked, he’s here for another year and a half and even if the football is bad surely it’s better that we win that way? The way I look at it is if LVG improves the style of play great, if he doesn’t and we keep winning then he’s like a bag of revels – sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s coffee. But ultimately he’s got a shelf life and he won’t be here in two years.

So let’s buck the trend this Christmas United. Let’s not be in a giving mood. Because if we do what all know we can do it will be a very Happy Christmas sat on top of the tree. With no Angel….

By Mark Goldbridge

Give Roy Keane & Paul Scholes a Break!

Give Keane & Scholes a Break

I love Roy Keane. Yes he’s prone to mindless outbursts that are hard to defend – my personal favourite being the recent one where he said that the tackle on Luke Shaw was a fair one. Quite rightly this immediately earned Roy a one week ban from my United Stand desk. But it’s impossible to stay mad at him for long. Why? Because he gets what Manchester United is. He understands the football we should aspire to and expects every player fortunate enough to wear the red of Manchester United to play with the same passion and desire he did.

He’s also without question the best Manchester United captain of my lifetime, and arguably, any other lifetime. The day he left Old Trafford he left behind a hole so big when you look down it you can see the Sydney opera house. And that hole has never been filled. Regular watchers of The United Stand will know I don’t think the captaincy suits Rooney but comparing Wayne as a captain to Roy is like sending a rusty old tesco trolley to war instead of a Sherman Tank. The truth being there’s no comparison. In fact, when I think about Keane and his leadership qualities one line sums him up “Win. Or die trying”.

So it saddens me that more and more United fans feel the need to take a pop at him and ridicule his opinion. Keane has always been opinionated, it’s nothing new. He’s the same man now he was when he was at United it’s just some fans don’t feel the need to defend him or feel he’s part of our club any more. They’re wrong. Keane is intrinsically etched in to our history and The United Way. He understood it, he was part of it and he continues to preach it. If fans choose not to listen then that’s their loss. Even if LVG gets us playing the United Way – which is possible but many doubt – he’ll never scratch the surface of Keane’s achievements. Roy Keane conducted and led the United way for over a decade.

That’s not to say we should hang on his every word. No one is right 100% of the time and Roy knows a controversial opinion will sell papers. But when it’s United related I listen. Because if anyone knows the way our great club should play and should act it’s Roy Keane.

The same goes with Scholesy. He’s come out in the last few weeks with some negative comments about the current United set up . In short Scholesy wants to see United blast teams away with football that gets you on the edge of your seat and he isn’t seeing that. A view shared by many a fan at the moment but also a view that some fans think isn’t helpful. Van Gaal has certainly allowed Scholesy to get under his skin and he’s publicly criticised Scholes on a two occasions now. But why do fans have to take sides?

Paul Scholes and Roy Keane are United legends. They’ve made their contribution – and what a contribution it was – and they’ve earned the right to pass comment on the club just like any fan has. As a manager Van Gaal should ignore it and do what he’s paid to do, manage Manchester United and make them successful. Arguing with ex players and turning fans against them isn’t and shouldn’t be part of the job description. The bottom line is LVG and some fans are happy with the way things are going and some fans like Scholes are concerned by the football we’re playing. Ultimately surely that’s a good thing? Both sides have one clear aim – Manchester United back on top – and debating the merits of how we’ll get there is the best way forward.

Whatever happens we are Manchester United. The United Way matters and we should never forget that.

By Mark Goldbridge

Van Gaal on the Rocks? The Goldbridge Blog

Van Gaal on the Rocks?

It’s always easy to sensationalise events at Manchester United, especially when the media get involved. A run of the mill home game against Swansea can be hyped up to epic proportions with the right headline – I’m thinking “Shelvey plans to urinate on pitch if Swans beat United”. Feeling pumped up? That’s how the media works and it’s why Sky has been so successful over the years. They can make an end of season dead rubber game between Stoke & West Ham sound like a title deciding El Classico with a well constructed musical montage and the right voiceover – although they quite rightly draw the line at trying to turn Michael Owen in to a credible and interesting presenter. Definitely dodged a tin of grey paint throwing BT Sports under the bus with Owen there.

Back to United though and Manchester United v West Brom on Saturday afternoon is a season defining game and one that really does need building up. In normal circumstances it would be a home banker where three points would be as routine as Arsenal getting embarrassed in Europe. But this year’s it’s different. This year there’s an air of uncertainty round Old Trafford that us fans are finding extremely hard to come to terms with. And Saturday’s performance will go a long way to deciding where that uncertainty ends.

In the Autumn of 2013 David Moyes lost his first league game at Old Trafford two one to West Brom and the scene was set for what would lead to Moyes departure the following April. On Saturday Van Gaal faces a West Brom side that is well organised under Tony Pulis. But more importantly they face a West Brom side that will park the bus far more effectively than CSKA Moscow and offer a very real threat on the counter and from set pieces. In short, United will be tested and any win would be a huge positive.

But like Anderson at an all you can eat buffet, one plate of food isn’t enough. We need more on Saturday. There’s no escaping the fact that the United faithful, especially the home and away support are growing restless. They’re tired of the uninspiring football. They’re embarrassed that we sit bottom of the league when it comes to chances to created. And they want football played the United Way.

What is the United Way? One follower on Twitter actually accused me in the week of being obsessed with Sir Alex’s reign and stated “The United Way? Don’t you mean the Sir Alex way?” No we don’t. We mean the United Way. It wasn’t a concept born during the reign of Sir Alex, it dates back decades right through our history and exciting football is the key.

So on Saturday afternoon United must entertain. To be precise, LVG must entertain us, Rooney must continue his improvement and United must win. Yes you could argue that if we play well and lose by the odd goal in unfortunate circumstances they deserve a let off. But let’s be honest. If our current Manchester United side play well West Brom won’t get close.

United fans expect Louis. And I for one can’t wait. Come on United!

By Mark Goldbridge

Van Gaal Criticism Unfair? The Goldbridge Blog

Mark Goldbridge

Van Gaal criticism unfair?

A lot can change in a week in the life of Manchester United football club. Last week I was waxing lyrical about how I was 100% certain we were going to beat City and go top of the league, then a week later we’re out of the league cup to Middlesbrough and the #LVGOut army is steadily gathering pace.

And on that point I can officially confirm I won’t be championing myself as the next Mel Gibson/Braveheart of that particular army. There’ll be no rousing of the troops, no chants of “freedom” from the dire football, and no calls for LVG to be sacked from me. I accept the football isn’t great and that we’re highly unlikely to see anything like the fast flowing counter attacking we crave any time soon with LVG in charge. I even empathise with a lot of the more reasoned and structured arguments that Van Gaal isn’t the man for Manchester United. But this isn’t Moyes. And whatever happens under Louis Van Gaal’s reign of power as Manchester United manager, it never will be as bad as Moyes.

We’ll finish in the top four under LVG and we’ll have games like Everton away where for ninety minutes everything does click. On the flip side, we’ll also have results like Arsenal, Man City and Middlesbrough, where even a year in to his tenure things just don’t work out. Yes the reasons behind why we keep having these games where it doesn’t work out – or to be blunt we’re dreadful – is in itself is a concern and regular viewers of The United Stand will know our general stance is that LVG’s style of football is the issue. Put simply, we’re not creating enough chances and it’s not natural to most of our players to overplay the ball the way Van Gaal likes. These are players who want to play the killer pass, who want to put the ball in the box quick and who want to commit the opposition. Unfortunately Van Gaal doesn’t.

And why should he change? Van Gaal is what he is. Those of us who have observed his last decade in management knew his style of play before he came to United so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who employed him. If Van Gaal doesn’t meet our expectations then yet again it will come down to a poor recruitment decision by the board. Like Moyes they should have foreseen what they were getting with Van Gaal. He plays and manages in a certain way. For Moyes we needed a surgeon and we recruited a clown. Similarly with Van Gaal we wanted a magician and we recruited a mathematician.

That’s not to say we won’t have some level of success and I certainly don’t think he deserves the sack or the bad press. Van Gaal never promised to play exciting football the United way. He came here to win things the Van Gaal way and over the last 15 months we’ve seen exactly what that way is. It involves long periods of possession, which means defences are always well set and won’t concede many chances against us, which in turn requires the Fellaini option when we need to chase a goal and use the long ball. I don’t like it and I’ve been vocal about that but the fact United fans expect something else is surprising. This is Van Gaal and this is how he sets his teams up.

Talking immediate concerns, Crystal Palace at the weekend is too close to call. After two losses in a row I expect Palace to be up for this and much will depend on how United respond to the poor show against Boro. Win and everyone will be saying we can win the league. Lose and the #LVGOut army will grow quicker than Brendan Rodger’s ego when he’s looking in the mirror.

As with most things in life, the truth is somewhere in between the two extremes. Unless there’s a big shift in Van Gaal’s methodical approach and reluctance to entertain, his time at Manchester United will continue to be two steps forward, one step back. That will mean stability and strong foundations but it won’t mean exciting football and titles. For a couple of seasons that may not be the end of the world?

By Mark Goldbridge