The problem with Pochettino taking over at Man Utd…

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The problem with Poch
Gary Neville absolutely nailed it in his comments after the game at Wembley. The gist, which he put across very forcefully, was that no manager ever EVER again should be allowed to come into Manchester United and begin implementing a personal “philosophy”.

His reasoning was that this approach has led to a period of time where the club has allowed itself to be pulled from from one manager to another, each trying to implement styles of play that don’t necessarily gel with the fabric of the club, or with the managers that proceeded them. This might work with the majority of clubs who are, to a degree, “blank slates” which managers can shape in their own image, but it doesn’t work with clubs like Barcelona, Ajax, and United who have time-tested identities within them that run deeper than individual managers, and which are extremely hard to change.

OGS, by contrast to the “philosophers” that came before him, has simply come in and returned to policies which fit perfectly with the fabric of the club – something which may seem obvious with hindsight, but which also takes a great deal of humility and sensitivity, as well as an innate understanding of the environment which perhaps only an ex-player could have (hence why the likes of Barca massively favour ex-players as their managers).

The beauty of this approach – demanding that managers fit the club, rather than the club fitting to managers – is that it does away almost completely with the notion of “transition periods”. The bedrock remains fundamentally the same, but the man in charge changes to freshen things up a bit and give a shot in the arm.

This is why I have such a fundamental problem with the idea of Pochettino taking over.

He doesn’t only come with his own “philosophy” – he also comes with a whole new team of coaches support staff that are in effect a club-within-a-club. The sales pitch to him supposedly would be the opportunity to “mould the club in his image”, but that’s precisely what hasn’t worked with our last 3 managers. We all tell ourselves now that this is because they were all in some way a bit rubbish, and that Pochettino would be different – but I’m not sure. Moyes, LVG, and Jose were all great managers before United, all of whom had, like Poch, gone into other clubs and completely transformed them. However we never stop to think that it is perhaps that “transformative” ability which is precisely what led to their failures. United aren’t a club that need “transforming”, they need continuity. Pochettino could easily be the latest in a string of excellent managers trying to bash a square hole to fit his round peg, if you will. He may have great ideas, but they need the right environment to flourish.

Anyway, whether the final solution is OGS or someone else, hopefully the moral of this period will be Neville’s one. It’s not a “great” manager Untied need, it’s a humble one. One prepared to work within an existing structure, not create his own. One prepared to work with existing personnel, not sack them and replace them with a bunch of cronies (if Phelan gets sacked AGAIN at the end of this season I will completely despair). And one, fundamentally, prepared to reinforce the ways of the club, not change them


No honeymoon period
Great performance from United but also great response from Spurs, they pretty much over-powered united in the second half. Probably, what Spurs did in the second half is what I think Ole is expecting from his Utd side in terms of possession and attacking transitions. Now De Gea’s master positioning has given United the edge and the tactics employed by the coaching staff in the first half did the necessary damage, I feel there’s still space for people to come to the conclusion that it’s still a honeymoon period. I would agree with it to the extent that it reflects in the results and especially pogba’s form. Yet, i do think that in a fundamental sense of how a side starts playing football, the honeymoon notion is b******s. Having 6 wins in a row is not based on just a feel-good factor.

It was clear after 60 minutes that the players were tired in terms of pressing forward and taking the game to spurs. It’s obvious because under mourinho utd were not prepared for having such a work rate. It was mostly low-block defending. To have your players do that and to have Lukaku come, in the later stages to play as he did under mourinho, is not honeymooning. Its called game-planning. Its about having a disciplined attitude towards a style of play and when that style of play doesn’t work, you retort back to that which would keep you in the game, pragmatically. It is all about how a team agrees with a way of playing football that brings everyone in together for the better interests of that vision. They play not for one’s own fancy of how they ‘feel’ but mainly about how they play their part in that vision. Everybody in that squad agrees with the vision because they see their abilities to be fulfilled in a way that contributes to the team. Now, I have a differing opinion on pogba’s form because i still think he fancies it to play in that position but I still think as a player due to his potential he deserves to be free. When he gets old and loses some of his abilities he’ll definitely add some new aspects (regista role). So even if results are in utd’s side they are just accidental outputs. The real output is in team cohesion and this is exactly what was needed out of solskjaer. This is exactly what utd were missing in mourinho in the third season because he just couldn’t make players buy into his vision. The obvious reason being that he wanted players in the market who were better than them. So on such a basis how do you bring trust?

He almost distrusted his defense to do the job. There was no sense of being cohesive and our attacking transitions were disturbed because of that. Now look at our defense. We look like we have a structure to support our attacks. This is one of the big reasons in providing cohesion to the team and carrying out in-game tweaking also not the kind of reactive tweaking mourinho did against newcastle, juventus, southampton etc. although these were deservedly won. What Ole has done is also give us a stable xi missing under mourinho in the third season. I can easily make the assertion that most of the utd fans don’t ‘worry’ about the results because we are all in tune, in unity with the process. That’s where the feel-good factor comes from. So it’s not infatuation based on results, its a feeling of responsiblity towards a certain way of playing football which is embedded in the traditions of this football club and to have to recognize that as a united fan is not honeymooning but it is more like homecoming.

So to say that its a honeymoon period is a blatant lie, peddled by liverpool fans who are insecure of having a 7 point lead at the top, projecting their giddiness onto us (couldn’t help myself, sorry). To not have that notion also doesn’t make me feel giddy because I understand what the structure is like. I knew we were going to struggle against newcastle and we did but still we won that match because we kept to our standard gameplan. This is the united of old (of fergie of course).

Also, Ola has now got a good chance of becoming a permanent manager. I still think more work needs to be done. This match was won on fine margins and pochettino is still the best candidate. How he got those spurs players playing in the 2nd half is brilliant.

LJ (I feel fine) Oleland


De Gea… Meh
David De Gea is a good goalkeeper. David De Gea has won UTD more points in the last 2 years than most UTD players combined. However, despite the fawning from pundits his performance yesterday was no more than ‘solid’, not spectacular, just solid. He sure as hell didn’t win UTD the game as the narrative seems to have become. Despite what Lee Dixon or De Geas chief cheerleaders at SSN will tell you, he didn’t bag UTD the 3pts. His positioning was good and as usual he showed some great reflexes. However, as seems to be the norm now, the hyperbole surrounding him doesn’t reflect reality. None of his saves were outstanding, his command of his area was ‘meh’ as usual … as for being better than Peter Schmeichel … not even close. Look back at his saves yesterday and consider if he have conceded any of the many shots Spurs smashed straight at him, you’d have to have say (unless you work one of the major broadcasters) that it would have been a goalkeeping error. De Gea didn’t win UTD the game, Spurs attackers peppering the ball straight at De Gea like he was being punished for losing a game of Wallie in the playground – was the reason UTD won that game. (Or more accurately – Spurs lost it).
David Moore


The new Rioch
History says Unai Emery will not be Arsenal manager come 2020.

We could finish sixth and have fewer points than last season and that still would not be enough to for Unai to lose his job at the end of the season if he can demonstrate some signs of improvement.

But it’s his treatment of Ozil that makes me think his days are numbered.

Arsenal have had four managers in the time I’ve been a gooner and all three of his predecessors have encountered similar situations to that which Unai now faces.

The key difference is the way the trio treated these players. While George employed the service of Champagne Charlie Nicholas to deliver Arsenal’s first league cup, and Arsene Wenger waited until the end of his first full season before selling the Merse on, Bruce Rioch thought he could get away with falling out with the man who would go on to become Arsenal’s record goalscorer – Ian Wright Wright Wright.

While George would go on to deliver league titles, the Wembley Double and European silverware over almost a decade in charge, while Wenger would enjoy more than two decades as manager, Bruce was sacked after a single season in charge.

I can see Unai following suit.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Same old Arsenal
Good attack, terrible defence, weak centre, capable of a good run, poor against the best teams (apart from Spurs), 5th place.

Where’s this brilliant transformation I keep hearing about?
Oliver Thompson


Deflection or delusion?
Neil Warnock seems to have found a tactic that works, and Cardiff may well be one of the most compelling teams to watch between now and the end of the season.

I don’t mean that in a footballing sense, of course. God no, they’re absolutely awful. But their half-furious-Nan half-thumb manager has jumped on a train marked ‘Deflection’ and the breaks are temperamental at best.

Colin dipped his toe in the water last week, when a rant about Liverpool lacking class (over not making Nathaniel Clyne choose Cardiff over a clearly better gig at Bournemouth?) allowed him to quickly brush over defeat to Gillingham in the Cup. He must have been delighted with the results, because this weekend saw him attempt a backward summersault from the top platform. Did he pull it off? Well, how much focus has there been on his not-unsurprising attitude to Brexit, and how much has rested on what it says for Cardiff’s survival prospects that they can so dismally fail to beat the league’s worst team? Nailed it, I’d say.

From having a pop at another club to telling the rest of the world to go fuck itself in the space of a week is a monumental dialling up of rhetoric, and it begs the question: where is he going to take us next? Upcoming visits to Newcastle and Southampton look like ideal opportunities to find out. At the current trajectory he’ll be questioning jet fuel’s ability to melt steel beams before Valentine’s Day. God only knows what he’ll say if they lose to Fulham in April. Here’s hoping we find out.
Will (To hell with the rest of the world, but visit Malaysia) O’Doherty


People’s clubs
Dino Dino Dino… I’m sure I won’t be the only one to utterly shoot down your argument that fans have no ownership of a football club. I mean it’s clear and obvious rubbish.

Historically football clubs were set up for factories and communities as a way of bringing them together. Many teams were set up as work clubs and staffed almost entirely by employees. At that point the club instantly belonged to the community and the fans.

Over time those fans alone have grown the club, and have contributed hugely to its size, history, and standing within football and the world as a whole (I use no particular club as an example it’s relevant for almost all of them).

As football has grown in popularity the clubs themselves have grown and capitalism dictates that people make money from something which is popular, supply and demand. Football itself grew exponentially in the 70s and 80s in this country largely down to its success on a global scale. It continued to grow until the premier league turned it into the single most marketable sporting franchise in the history of the world.

And we are now at the point the where clubs are bought and sold as any major company would be throughout the world. There is simply nothing we can do about that. However we do not have to accept that they are now mere toys of capitalism. They are not. The internet has rendered the local community fan largely irrelevant to the very biggest of clubs, but that doesn’t mean we should claim that they have no rights of ownership over a club (in a non legal sense)

We, as fans, must ensure that the community links remain strong. My own club Arsenal do amazing work in the local community and as a result are a massively important part of islington and surrounding areas. This should neither be forgotten or underestimated.

When people such as Mike Ashley buy a club they also buy into the community and as a result has a duty of care to ensure that the club remains a vital part of the town or city. If we take Dino’s attitude to ownership then the clubs are we once knew them will disappear forever.



Stick to football
I think John Nicholson missed the point why many, including myself, don’t want to mix football and politics. Firstly, football is escapism from the mess currently going on. Secondly, if I want an insightful view on the current political situation I would go to where there are intelligent writers in newspapers or specialised political websites. I have zero interest in John’s view as it is as informed as mine. Everyone is entitled to a view, just we really would prefer you wrote about what you have knowledge in.
David (it’s similar to certain musicians or actors pushing their political view as well) Morris

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