Arsene Wenger is the perfect interim manager for Man Utd…

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Wenger to United
Ther is only one option. One man who can bring us into the top four…Arsene Wenger. It would be worth it to get Arsenal fans all riled up + he is a brilliant manager who the players will respect and listen to. It seems like a no brainer to me. Short term gains for both manager and the club.


Ole papered over the cracks
For a big club, United have a decidedly small club mentality – very, very small club. By that I mean setting up a proper management system to ensure that decisions are made within a framework that has been mapped out to a vision.

Saying we want to play ‘the United way’ is not a vision or strategy, especially as there is no way to define that. Ole tried by frequently making cliched statements hailing back to the ‘spirit of ‘99’. United haven’t moved on.

Fergie is partly to blame because his incredible success meant the club didn’t have to move forward with the times. It got lazy. His god-like presence meant no one could challenge him and the club atrophied while he was bringing in the trophies.

Smaller clubs like Brighton and Brentford are showing that having a structure in place, a vision for the club, an ability to buy players that fit the system – and budget – can bring success, so surely at United’s financial scale the same should be true. Their success is manager independent.

Liverpool don’t have the mega millions of United, Chelsea or City and once FSG learned the game, have proven that putting a solid management team, Director of Football, player acquisition, analytics and physio team in place success is possible. Ajax have consistently punched above their weight, losing their best players and rebuilding on a significantly smaller budget. While ex-players might be involved they have all taken courses, training and learned their trade before moving up – not parachuting someone in to recover the ‘feel good’ factor.

All this hype over who the next manager might be overlooks the dismal state the club is in behind the scenes. A great coach will definitely improve the quality of the team, getting more out of the existing and overpaid talent. But the idea a Conte was not a good fit because he wouldn’t play the ‘United way’ shows bankrupt thinking from a club with huge financial resources. With no structure United are going to make the same mistake again. Pochetino is a good coach but does he have the nous to push United to set themselves up properly? I don’t think so. Levy pulled all the strings at Spurs and we know who pulls the strings at PSG – and it isn’t him.

None of this is helped by the former Sky analyst Neville who has turned in his electronic football tools for Pom poms, praising the lacklustre coaching of Ole and his team – fending off Souness’s jibes that United needed to bring in a defensive coach by saying Ole has Mike Phelan – who is stunningly still there.

There might be a ‘new’ manager or ‘getting rid of the old’ manager bounce but without major changes in their overall structure United are doomed to repeat this failure.
Paul McDevitt


…Thought I´d chuck in my two cents on the Ole situation. First off, I think United´s fans deserve some credit for never lowering themselves to abusing him. In a world where there´s a constant rush to judgement and everyone is angry all the time, it was refreshing. I hope that doesn´t come across as condescending but there it is. Secondly, Ole comes across as a thoroughly decent man. He always protected his players despite one horrendous performance after another, he clearly absolutely loves Manchester United and, did have some minor success; the second-place finish (with all its caveats), Europa League final etc. Some good players were brought in on his watch too.

Where things fall down is the use of those players. Expecting Wan-Bissaka to be a wing raiding full back when he was signed for having been a tackling machine at Palace while leaving an attacking FB on the bench; not playing Sancho, the Van Der Beek fiasco, the impulsive resigning of Ronaldo (though who´s to say that was Ole´s doing). It was quite obvious for a very long time he didn´t know how to get the best from them, in spite of the previous minor successes. It´s been noted over and over how United´s players won games in moments while lacking an over-arching plan. The lack of specific strategy coupled with Ole´s sad surprise when Maguire said they lacked belief after the Liverpool mauling leads me to believe that he really did believe in the players – that they had the ability to win the league. All those comebacks before things REALLY went downhill indicate that at times, they believed almost as much as him.

But elite sport is about more than just belief. Teams need direction. Players need to know what to do in specific moments besides believe in themselves and that was his great shortcoming. People like to hark back to swashbuckling Fergie sides but he was above all a pragmatist. It just so happened for a long while he had possibly the greatest midfields ever in Giggs, Scholes, Keane and Beckham. But Fergie was not averse to having Ji Sung Park man mark the opposition´s creative players. In short, he knew how to win and used all the tools at his disposal to do so. Klopp likewise. The attacking chaos is built on a midfield of solidity. Mourinho ditto, before he lost his mojo. It confuses me when folks say Conte wouldn´t fit United. Why? Because he plays wing backs? Because he wins everywhere he goes? He demands control of his team? Strange to say the least. Also, the coaching staff with about 5 minutes of experience between them is weird. And what does Darren Fletcher do? Seriously.

All in all, Ole did the job to the best of his ability, it just so happens his ceiling was lower than many people would have liked. Keeping him in the job for so long was stupid and probably a little cruel if we are being honest. You´d hope the next person who sits in that scalding hot seat knows what they´re in for.


Manager criteria
Poor Ole was always chastised for not being an ‘elite’ manager, so thought I’d try and create a more objective classification system to have a more fact-based discussion around his replacement:

· Current Elite manager – someone who’s reach a Champions League final and multiple League titles in the top divisions, having won one at least of those in the last 3 years (very small list – Pep, Klopp, Tuchel, Simeone, Zidane, Flick, Allegri, anyone else?)

· Ex-Elite manager – Same criterion, but hasn’t won either CL or League for more than 3 years (e.g. Mourinho, Benitez, Luis Enrique, Van Gaal, Ancelotti). A recent win will naturally transfer you back to current Elite, but few make that jump. Winning does seem to be a habit.

· Potential Elite manager – Won League titles recently, but no CL-final (e.g. Conte, Ten Haag, Christophe Galtier, Sarri, Rodgers and Gerrard depending on how you see SPL?)

Vast majority of course don’t fit above, because they manage teams with little chance of winning. For the rest, you can simplistically (they do overlap a little) divide them into:

· Philosophy manager – Generally, play with a clear philosophy/ attacking style (e.g. Hassenhuttl, Howe, Arteta, Frank, Farke)

· Opposition manager – Not as adamant on philosophy/ style, and more on how counter opposition (e.g. Dyche, Allardyce, Lampard?)

Key takeaways:

· Elite managers can theoretically come from either philosophy or opposition managers (see Mourinho, Benitez, Simeone, I’d argue even Tuchel a little), but there seems a clear bias towards the former now. Of the current top 3, City and Pool have had majority of their recent success from the philosophy manager (e.g. Pep, Mancini, Klopp). Chelsea have largely had success via the opposition manager (Mourinho, Ancelotti, Conte, Tuchel)

· Pochetino really should be considered potential elite, but screwed up his chance with PSG last season to actually win a title

· Conte is considered elite, but his terrible CL record holds him back in my books

· Flick will likely drop into Ex-elite soon – was it really wise to go manage Germany so early in managerial career?

· Understandable why Ten Haag/ Conte are widely pursued, but not sure why Galtier isn’t higher on top teams’ lists, incl. ManU

Thoughts on the criterion?
Jay B, CFC


Man Utd mediocrity
Not that long ago I wrote in advising United fans to accept the fact that they had slipped into mediocrity because continually thinking they’re still one of the greatest clubs in the world is hurting their progress.

I’m pretty sure nobody agreed with me then and maybe that because of how I phrased it so let me rephrase the discussion.

United fans need to adjust their expectations.

You can’t go into every season expecting a trophy or title challenge because as you should have seen by now – you’re not ready for that.

I don’t even think the manager or executives or board are the problem, least not the main one. The big problem is playing staff, you have so many players who not just don’t care about the club but actually outright publicly disrespect it, with their words, their actions and their performances.

I could forgive how often we got beat when woy was in charge or Liverpool because as much as it pained me to admit it – we were a shit team filled with mediocre players. United aren’t. It’s a team filled with players with trophy cabinets, international caps, European experience – and talent. So what’s the problem? They are the problem. United has become a place were players go for the money with little to no expectation of actually winning much

United need to slowly replace every player in the squad with the exception of the young players who have time to change.

For that reason United fans need to accept that for 5-7 years they’re going to be mediocre team which struggles to make top 4 while they revamp everything.

Until fans remove that pressure of expectation you’re gonna repeat this cycle over and over with no success


Other managers who won’t boss United
Well “Dave (Chris Hughton’s available), Dublin” you asked who we want to see get the United job who won’t get the job, i have two candidates and both are out of work right now so they could be good for a short interim spell.

Candidate One: Mark Hughes

Now Mark Hughes has previous Premier League experience and he “knows the league” but even better he is a former Old Trafford midfield/forward maestro, he even left United and came back after a trip to Barcelona and Bayern Munich so why not a third time but as manager? Then to top it all off he has never been relegated whilst in charge of a club in the Premier League so you have basically saved your season right there as you can guarantee you will not be the richest Championship club and may not have to battle Newcastle for that crown next season, it is a no brainer surely now.

Candidate Two: Steve McClaren

What can we say about Steve, well he is a former England manager and he has won trophies those being the League Cup with Boro and the Eredivisie with FC Twente, then to top it off he has United DNA due to working as an assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson and in that first season they won the treble, coincidence? yes, extremely so but the more i think about this the more i think Sir Alex would endorse this move, oh dear what have i done
The Admin @ At The Bridge Pod

United got many things wrong, but not that
Martin, YNWA, describes Solskjaer as “balancing his foot on the wobbly trapdoor” because the Board meeting was held on Saturday night, but no announcement was made until Sunday afternoon. He goes so far as to describe it as “fairly pathetic”.

I have an issue with this description. The United Board have made many mistakes, but taking their time over something like this isn’t one of them. This isn’t Football Manager. This is real life, with real implications for real people.

The decisions being made by the United Board will have tangible effects on people’s lives. Those people deserve for time to be taken over decisions which will have huge impacts on them and their families.

In addition to this, it’s quite frankly ridiculous to think that Solskjaer found out that he was sacked at the same time as the rest of us. He didn’t spend half of Sunday “balancing his foot on the wobbly trapdoor” because he knew he was being let go, probably from Saturday night. What was happening Sunday morning, was working out the details as much as possible. Like everyone else, Solskjaer has employment rights and he and the company must come to an agreement around what he is entitled to.

Other members of staff, including the coaches and players, will also have had to have been informed what was going on.

Solskjaer was very well paid and that undoubtedly shields him and his family from a number of the negative impacts of losing his job. However, that doesn’t mean the guy should get a phone call in the middle of the night telling him he’s been sacked and that it’s going to be all over the news in 5 minutes. He deserves time to have a talk with his family to let them know what’s happening, before the football media descend on him.

The wants of the news hungry public pale into insignificance next to someone having to tell their family their entire lives are about to be turned upside down.


Soccer in the States
One thing the article on US football rights misses in the talk of the rights is why football is becoming far more mainstream, and how many Americans don’t want to be associated with their national sports.

Football is gaining more popularity as a childrens’ sport. American football, ice hockey, and lacrosse have terrible head injury stats. Parents don’t want to risk their kids having brains resembling Swiss cheese. Football is relatively safe. Watch football with your kids so they don’t play a more dangerous sport.

Football isn’t a socially tainted sport. The Premier League is seen as socially “progressive” – lots of different nationalities playing in the team, taking the knee against racism – in a country where national sport ownership is very conservative (see Colin Kaepernick) not to mention a machismo (viewership that has plenty of Trump supporters). This is a sport that Democrats wearing cardigans can watch while eating their porridge with chia seeds.

Finally, being able to watch sport without incessant adverts – what a $#%ing relief! The Super Bowl has ~15-20 minutes of actual playing time in a game that lasts 4 hours.

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