“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