A RESURGENT MAN UTD BUT IS IT ALL BUILT ON SAND?

A 2-1 victory over Brighton at Old Trafford now makes it, 7 matches and 7 wins for Manchester United caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær. They now sit just 3 points from the top 4 after seemingly being set for a battle for 6th place prior to his arrival. It was clear and obvious something needed to be done when, eventually, the Manchester United board led by football buffoon, Ed Woodward decided to act and sack Jose Mourinho. It was quite a surprise at the time, especially as journalists had been briefed on the Monday that it was business as usual despite the soporific defeat against Liverpool the day before. Even the Portuguese manager had no inkling, which tells me somebody else was leading this situation once the decision was made as Ed likes to leak this kind of news first, just ask David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

POSITIVE CHANGE

One thing is clear as we stand Manchester United are at least in a challenging position, which you could not say before the Norwegian’s arrival, with a key element also being the return of Mike Phelan, who coached at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson. The players have taken on board very quickly the new style in which they are playing, now running themselves into the ground in all their games, something that they weren’t doing for the previous incumbent. There has been some continuity with Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna retaining their coaching roles, not a surprise really as easier to just blame one person, and to be fair in the new set up things are working well. In football if you are winning matches then pretty much everything looks rosy and positivity is radiated, and that is exactly where we are now which is a far cry from earlier in the season.

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

The first three matches under Ole Gunnar were 1-5, 3-1 and 4-1 victories, since then the games have been a bit tighter 0-2, 2-0, 0-1 and 2-1. One thing I have noticed is that despite the upturn in form there are still big issues that need to be resolved at the club. On the pitch the obvious issue is the defence, whilst Lindelöf has improved, himself, Phil Jones and Eric Bailly have shown they can and still do make schoolboy errors at the back that should and sometimes have been punished. Having David de Gea behind them makes them look better than they are. Chris Smalling and Marcus Rojo are injured at the moment but for me they are no better, a commanding centre back is needed in the January transfer window in my opinion as its so obvious where the biggest problem on the pitch is. What has also been noticeable especially in their last 2 wins, Tottenham away and Brighton at home, is that whilst starting strong, they struggle to last a full 90 with the same intensity, without doubt they could have drawn (or maybe even lost in the Tottenham game) because they were sitting back from around 15-20 minutes to go, with no support for a lone striker surrounded by 2 or 3 defenders. This won’t wash as the season comes towards it denouement as they will be punished.

ED WOODWARD IS A BIG PROBLEM

After the David de Gea inspired victory over Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, Ed Woodward was seen going into the United dressing room. For me, I just don’t get this, unless of course its basically just a way to tell everyone, look I was right to sack Mourinho – see how things are going. It is easy to forget that Woodward bottled sacking him after the Newcastle game in October because a journalist ran the story prior to the game, Gary Neville hammered the board and Utd came back from 0-2 to win 3-2. He could even have done it after the Manchester City game, in November, a surrender where 3-1 was a generous score line as it could have been so much worse. But he waited and waited and then a decision was made very abruptly, in my opinion to make Mourinho look like the total villain in a similar vein to the sackings of Moyes and LVG (this time without the leak though). Just a quick reminder Ed Woodward has been in charge of the football operations since the summer of 2013, so has been in post longer than any of these managers. He is a commercial genius but his football nous is still a joke even after nearly 6 years in charge. In my opinion he is an embarrassment to the club on this side and for me he should not be entering the teams dressing room after a league match at this stage of the season, why not just do it in the players lounge instead of the public glare, all about me, me, me I suppose.

DO YOUR JOB NOW ED – PROPERLY THIS TIME!!!

The plan is now for Manchester United to appoint a Director of Football to work alongside whoever is hired as the new manager in the summer. Unfortunately Ed Woodward is responsible for this and judging by his previous footballing work at the club, I personally worry if one will actually be put in place in a reasonaale amount of time, I suppose we shall see. In the immediate though the man the Glazers love, mainly because he makes so much money for them to take out of the club, needs to focus on getting in a commanding centre back THIS transfer window. Yes it will be difficult but United spent just over 70 million in the summer after Ed stabbed the previous manager in the back over his preferred signings, so the money is surely there to make a blockbuster signing. They are still in the Champions League and clearly need stiffening up at the back to make some kind of statement that they can challenge the best teams in Europe. There has not been a lot of noise around prospective signings, the current manager has even said it is unlikely, but I hope that things are going on in the background with the club going back to the old days of just announcing a new signing, instead of it being leaked something is going on, days, weeks and months beforehand. What we have seen at Old Trafford since the summer of 2013 is Ed Woodward’s Manchester United, he is not responsible for everything, but he is in charge of all key decisions made at the club. Make no bones about it he heads the commercial depart superbly, I cannot praise him highly enough for this, but on the football side he has basically been incompetent, that needs to change from now or the decision to sideline him completely to the money making side has to be made. Key times for one of the supposedly biggest clubs in the world, maybe, but not on the football side at the moment.

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