Robbo 10: W**kin Frankel - Click On My Face To Listen!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Welcome to the Real World

While many were marking the 50th anniversary of Match of the Day last Friday by trawling through gloopy memories of days when it felt like more than two clubs might win the League, two things stuck out like sore thumbs. Firstly -  and as a man very sure-footed about which way he swings I can say this without fear of innuendo - wasn't that Alan Hansen a dishy-looking fella back in the day? Two, Hansen's equally confident assertion that 'You'll never win anything with kids' rang down the decades.

Well, I've won a few things with my kids: nothing tangible but it's opened the way to a few conversations with idle young Mums in the park that I wouldn't have started otherwise. Since my two have got older I've stopped hanging around them swings - you get the wrong sort of reputation.

But it's seems poignant on the morning after Manchester United were thrashed by MK Dons (a football team and not a middle-range gentleman's outfitters) 4-0 to ask whatever happened to United's production line of junior talent.

This morning Louis Van Gaal must have walked on to the training ground like a farmer who wakes up to find he's left the door to the coop wide open. All them pretty little chickens torn to shreds.

Okay, it was the League Cup, and Van Gaal predictably put out the B team, complete with a few children from the youth squad. The way they played, though, you'd think this was the Z team. Arsene Wenger does the same thing in this competition and never gets so utterly demolished by the lower ranks. (He tends to leave such humiliations for first team away fixtures).

Van Gaal insists this wasn't a shock for him. Presumably when he puts his fingers in a light-bulb socket he feels nothing. I'm sure it was a huge shock to Angel Di Maria. And don't be fooled Man U fans - just cos he called Angel doesn't mean he'll be supplying any divine intervention. Yes Di Maria has a lot of qualities but resurrecting the near-dead isn't one of them.

And actually, even by today's standards I would have thought £60 million for a talented but inconsistent winger seems a helluva lot to me. Adam Johnson would've cost a tenth of that.

There's one person in the country who I'm sure is finding it hard to resist a chipper little whistle as he trots down to the paper shop this morning: David Moyes. Oh yes, when LVG tells the press 'we're in a rebuilding process' I'm sure the Gollum-faced Chosen One nods sagely and mutters 'Good Luck with that one'.

Van Gaal has a track record of starting badly in his management role - Bayern nearly sacked him after three months before he turned it round. But this is altogether different. The Dutchman has not just been charged with turning around a huge oil tanker - he's first got to haul the bloody thing off its side and stop it gurgling gunk all over Old Trafford.

The back three so beloved of the manager is obviously going to take years to bed in. He's forgotten that he's given this new formation to a set of predominantly British centre-backs, who have always formed part of a pair. Indeed Jonny Evans played like a man who couldn't count past two last night. (Although I expect another impressive Arsenal striker on loan might have changed that when he made it 3-0. Arsene has Afobe and Campbell and still Sanogo's first in the queue?).

Of course, Welbeck and Hernandez aren't going to be starting many games ahead of Mata, Rooney, RVP and Di Maria but it makes you wonder what Van Gaal has in mind up front. You could see the 3-5-2 operating like Holland's in the World Cup, with Van Persie in the same mode and Di Maria doing a Robben impression. That would be the longest-faced front two in football history of course.

It would leave Mata prompting a la Sneijder and Rooney, the ever-flexible Rooney, being pushed one way or the other to accommodate these game-changers. It's evident that United's squad is going to be puddle-deep this season but if an understanding can be built between the forward players then they might just bring enough firepower to offset the glaring almost Brazilian sized holes at the back.

(By the way, I should of course have given MK Dons the credit they deserve after a fine performance. But one, the name still sticks in the craw of an old traditionalist like meself - 27000 fans would disagree I'm sure - and two, whether they like it or not, the story is how shit United were.)

But the fact is Van Gaal has not started well - far worse in fact than Moyes - he hasn't so much hit the ground running as hit the ground digging. And he may have a lot more of that to do before he find where to put his foundations. At least Moyes, theoretically at least, had an established first choice back four to pick.

And you know for all the glory of his tenure, I'd still lay much of this at the door of Alex Ferguson. When you hand on a torch to the next man it's best that the torch still burns brightly, rather than it sputtering away cos someone's just pissed on it.

Fergie did of course win the Premier League in his last season. That he did that is more miraculous than Liverpool's almost championship last season, or Sunderland's great escape. The reins he handed to Moyes were slippery as hell. Van Gaal hasn't even found where Moyes left them quite yet.

But, given that Alan Hansen's tenure at Match of the Day coincided with years of relentless and to most of us bloody irritating years of United dominance, this bleak period in Old Trafford's history is very welcome.

Yes, United fans, this is what it is like to be a regular supporter of a football club. You hope to goodness that your young local players might arrive fully-formed into a senior eleven and lift your struggling regulars to heights undreamt of. You hope that you too can win something with kids, that a Beckham and a Scholes, a Giggs and hell even a Neville are lurking in that youth team.

But as Hansen said, it doesn't really happen. Not twice any road.

So (barring spending 131 million quid in two months) Welcome to the Real World, Angel.





48 comments:

  1. Great read and honestly true, struggeled against a poor machem side as well !

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  2. Not a Man U fan, and I enjoyed the result, but probably a blessing in disguise. The League Cup is a massive waste of time IMO.

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  3. Yup, yup, Robbo. Noticed van Gaal, in his recent comments, has increased his timetable for changes to take effect from 3 months to a year. Presumably, it will be up to a decade come December...

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  4. Good stuff Robbo. It'd bring a tear to many an eye if it weren't so fkn funny, at least temporarily.

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  5. United were relegated once before and came back stronger than ever and I'm sure they will do so again.

    Loving it.

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    1. they're a year late though. Relegation was in '34 and '74

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  6. 100% agree Robbo. It's been really pissing me off how Fergie seems to have escaped any blame for the shit pit that Utd find themselves in. Criminally neglected the squad for years. The fact that he managed to win the title just forced me to respect him - the squad was still plainly shite.

    Not sure that Utd have ever had a production line of talent - take the class of 92 out of the picture, and there aren't too many other players that you could name that have come through the junior ranks at Old Trafford.

    The money that they've spent this summer has been ridiculous. 27mil for Shaw, plus wages of around 150k a week. Spurs bought Dier for 4mil and he'll be on about 20k a week. Is the gap in quality between them that great? Utd have never really done scouting - just hoovered up the talent from other teams, then made them look ordinary. Although they did sign Bebe - that was some good scouting.

    They'll spend their way out of it though. The cunts (sorry Bells).

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    1. it's time though innit. Busby Babes, Fergie's Fledglings and Van Gaal's ……blank……...

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    2. Van Gaal's Valetudinarians.

      Their confidence is shot now. Even the good players think they're shit and the best thing got must if then would be s new start elsewhere, not that they're going to get much choice in three matter.

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  7. Well said as always, Robbo. I agree with Noel that Man Utd will (over)spend their way out, though.

    Maybe they'll buy Cosmin Moti, a defender who saved two penalties and scored his own to win a Champions League tie.

    http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28962031

    No, wait, he'd be giving up Champions League football for Man Utd. No chance.

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  8. Top stuff as ever, Robbo. I think a lot of the blame lies with the Glazers (and the Purple Faced Scotsman (PFS) for going along with it). For years they stripped £50m a year or more out of the club to pay for them buying it. The PFS went along with it (probably for a big bung), and squeezed all the results he could out of an ever thinning squad. PFS retires and a lot of chickens could be seen coming home to roost.

    A lot of Man U fans (the "real" green and gold brigade) saw this coming a long time ago.


    Jedi

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    1. But here's the thing: United have still spend ridiculous amounts. It was just wasted. Ashley Young and Phil Jones cost what, 30? 40 million between them?

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  9. Good to see consistency from the Gooners. Scrape into the CL group stage again, player sent off in each game: dirty and lucky.


    Jedi

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  10. Great Blog as always Robbo. The PFS obviously took the hair-dryer with him. Yes, I know it's only the League Cup but it was the manner of the defeat that was so shocking - losing 1 - 0 with a scratch side against inspired defending/keeping is one thing but the poor defending and ball retention would have been unacceptable for a Sunday pub side let alone a team that likes to think of itself as the the greatest club in the world. Can things get any worse?

    Spider

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    1. Yup. If they don't make cl they risk losing the shirt deal. That would leave them in deep doggy doo doo financially.

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  11. I blame Paul Scholes, they'll be alright as soon as he comes out of retirement, his absence is the #1 reason for their demise.Well that and Fellaini. Well that, Fellaini and Moyes' tactics. Well, that, Fellaini, Moyes tactics and the shower of shit they signed in the last five years. Well, that, Fellaini,, Moyes' tactics, the shower of shit signings and the ageing Rio, Vidic and Evra, and the curly haired twins; Shit and Injured. Well, that, Fellaini,, Moyes' tactics, the shower of shit signings, the ageing Rio, Vidic and Evra. the curly haired twins; Shit and Injured and the injuries to RVP and Carick and the clueless Cleverly.

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    1. It all started to go wrong when giggsy shagged his sister in law. Kharma.

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  12. any more podcasts with your pal Andy Smart?

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  13. BREAKING NEWS: German artist buries 30 gold bars worth £10,000 on Folkestone beach. Gold rush ensues.

    Translation: Ozil was wandering along the beach he was considering purchasing when he realized he had a hole in his pocket. Since he had only dropped about five minutes worth of his salary, he didn't bother picking it up.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-surrey-28967848

    (Figures based on £7.28m salary divided by 42 90-minute matches in 2013-2014 because I'm too lazy to dig up the actual minutes, which would make it more like four minutes of salary, assuming he trains for free, earns no bonuses, etc. And this, folks, is why math--and Google--is so useful.)

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  14. Well Champions League group , on paper at least, looks pretty OK for us - though I am sure that's probably what Louis Sans Goals thought about their Capital One trip to the Dons.

    Anyone know who Man Poo got in CL draw? Oh wait, my mistake .....

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  15. Conversation overheard at UEFA headquarters:

    Reporter: Who will replace Sepp Blatter?
    Crony: Better not tell you now.
    Reporter: But isn't he going to stand down at some point?
    Crony: My sources say no.
    Reporter: So he'll just die in office?
    Crony: As I see it, yes.
    Reporter: Sooner or later?
    Crony: Cannot predict now.
    Reporter: Will he help clean up football before he dies, at least for karma's sake?
    Crony: Very doubtful.
    Reporter: So we'll continue to have the same broken, corrupt institution we've come to despise?
    Crony: You may rely on it.
    Reporter: Oh for f*ck's sake, what is this world coming to?!
    Crony: Reply hazy, try again.

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  16. Well a little bit early today but as nobody is out to play this afternoon, it is nearly wine/home time so have a good weekend everyone.

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  17. Chelsea striker Fernando Torres is to join AC Milan on a two-year loan deal.
    ---------------------------------------
    Good bye Nando. You could've left as an all time PL legend, instead of a fifty million pound flop, you prick.

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    1. what are you bothered about? He was alright for the scousers. You lot sold a bill of goods to Chelsea. He couldn't even get in the Man U team today.

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    2. I know, just still pissed about the transfer request with 2 hours of the window to go. On that note, good luck and good bye to Daniel Agger. Injury and error prone, but as loyal a player a club could hope for in this day and age.

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    3. What's Agger going to do-do-do now?

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  18. Man U definitely improving. They're now drawing with Premier League opposition.

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    1. yeah, another good point, they're on a bit of a run now.

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    2. A few more like that and they might just stay up.

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  19. Well, one goal I thought was offside, one fine, and Tim Howard handled about a yard outside the area but wasn't called. All in the first three minutes. Welcome to Everton v Chelsea...

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  20. This game destroying my FFL week. In a moment of madness I made Coleman captain, only for him to let in 5, including an own goal.

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  21. Hm, take away those first few minutes where I wanted to switch it off, and Everton 'only' lose 4-3. Plus, The Special One said, "It was wonderful for everyone watching - but not for me." If that doesn't equate to some kind of moral victory, I don't know what does.

    Maureen's quote reminds me of James "Grim Reaper" Roper's line in "The Great White Hype," when describing how it felt when his opponent was knocked out by his left, instead of the right he'd foreseen: "It's like I painted a picture of the Mona Lisa, and forgot to put the breast on."

    Jose won 6-3, but he forgot to put the breast on.

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  22. That Chelsea match eh?

    Not a great start to the season for vale. As long as they do better than Colchester United, -the least entertaining team since the Spanish inquisition toured southern Europe with their unicycle fire juggling act-I'm happy.

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    1. No one expects the Spanish inquisition unicycle fire juggling act...

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    2. I certainly think it's about time for a blog specifically about Chelsea, Robbo ...! 3 successive wins and all that goals ... They'd need a little bit of curse, you know ...

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  23. Our least 3 games against spurs total a combined 12-0. Now only of we don't get blown away by villa at home next, I'll be happy.

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  24. The way I see it, we're gradually improving: 5-0, 4-0, then 3-0. Season 2016-17 will be ours.

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  25. Van persie, di maria, Rooney,Mata,falcao,rojo, LvG. Got to take them seriously I think.

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    1. Blackett, Jones, Evans? Maybe not.



      Jedi

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    2. Blackett and Evans won't be around much longer. Back four will be Rafael, Rojo, Jones and Shaw.

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    3. If you can keep from crying as they come forward, you might be able to defend against them.

      If you can avoid laughing at their back 3, back 4, back 5 (delete as appropriate), you ought to be able to score against them.

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  26. Don't turn around, Man City - Der Kommissar's in town (wuh-oh...)

    Hey. Somebody had to go there.

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  27. Somebody wake up Robbo and tell him the Boro have signed a Dutch kid named Yanic Wildschut from Heerenveen or Benvereen or somesuch.

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    1. For you younger folk that might not get the reference:
      (WARNING - this video contains polyester)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wj5dfw4sNow

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    2. The Wildshites? Areny' they a family of heavy Guinness drinkers?

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  28. Falcaio has arrived in Manchester on a private jet. Tom Pope has arrived in Bolton in a MKII Cortina.

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