Hello everybody, I doubt you’ve missed me but it has been a very long time since I wrote anything for Untold. This is mostly because I’ve been busy writing non-football stuff but also because I’ve not really had anything to say.
Like Tony I was initially quite encouraged by the recruitment of Unai Emery even if, like many on this site, I was very sad to see the departure of Arsene Wenger. I decided that this season I would just try and enjoy the football rather than worrying about where we finished or if we might win a cup or three.
After all going to football is so much more than watching your team win, lose or draw. It’s about the experience of being there, talking to people you only see in the ground, catching up with Tony and Andrew and (occasionally) Walter, enjoying a beer or two and the convivial hostess at the Swimmer [steady on. ed]
We lost to Manchester City on the opening day but we played well. We lost to Chelsea away and played even better. Then we had that 22 game unbeaten run and things looked quite bright. We could also see there were problems – we rode our luck in many games – our defense still looked ‘iffy’, but we kept piling on the points.
Then we beat ‘them’ and I thought we might have really kicked on from there and made a top four trophy (lol) ours. Instead we have dipped into mediocrity, epitomized by defeats at West Ham and Southampton, drawing with Brighton, being massacred at Liverpool. We went out of both domestic cups without putting up much of a fight in either.
No matter, we stayed in touch with the top four and fifth looked a given considering the way United had been playing under Maureen. But the introduction of Solskjaer rejuvenated them and now top four looks ominously out of sight (I know mathematically it is possible but there are probably now five teams that are better than us in the league so sixth is where I’d expect us to finish).
No problem however, because if Senor Emery is good at anything he is good at winning the Europa League, our passport to the Champion’s League and football’s top table. Bate Borisov, a team in mothballs since they haven’t played in their league for ages, should be easy to roll over… shouldn’t they?
I couldn’t watch last night’s game but I’ve read the reports and, to quote Aristotle at the feast of the Trojan wives, ‘we were absolute garbage, no redeeming factors’. I’m sure (with Tony and Andrew and I there to cheer them on) the team can still win through to the next round but my confidence that we might actually win the EL is severely dented. Instead of CL football next season I fear we will revisiting ‘empty stadium Thursdays’ again, if we are lucky.
So all I have left to look forward to this season (apart from the company of fellow Untolders) is the miserable fare that this team is serving up under Emery on a weekly basis.
Yes, I know we have injuries – everybody does – and I know we have no money but we still have a potentially excellent squad of players who – with the right motivation and direction – are more than capable of beating most teams in this league and nearly all of those left in the Europa.
That is if the manager chooses to play those players. I agree with Walter that trying to change the way Mesut Özil plays the game of football makes no sense. I might not use him in some games but he adds so much to this team that to leave him behind or on the beach (often with our other only creative player Ramsey) is madness. If it was madness that got results then fine, I bow to the manager’s experience and initiation, but we are rubbish at the moment. Not only are we rubbish we are boring, hard to watch and ineffective.
So actually the only joy I get from football is watching the race for the title as a neutral. We are not in it so I’m rooting for City. Yet when they lose its still fun, given the ridiculous financial doping they have been allowed to get away with.
An English team has to win the PL but I really hope one doesn’t win the CL, especially not City. When Liverpool got dragged back from running away with the league it was fun. When Spurs thought they were back in it only for City to rally, it was fun. I rejoice in any setbacks the top four have (like Chelsea getting beaten 6-0) or Kane and Allie being crocked.
I am reduced to schadenfreude, so low has my team fallen.
At the bottom of Walter’s last article Tony added the following footnote:
‘This article does in some way challenge the slogan that has been on our masthead for some 10 years – “supporting the manager”. In a further article we’ll look at whether it is time to reconsider Untold’s long held position of supporting the club, the manager and the team.”
I am going to pre-empt my Untold colleagues and say yes, it is. Last season much as I saw that the writing was on the wall for Wenger’s reign I (like many others) cautioned that we should be careful what we wished for.
This is Emery’s team now and I don’t like it. He needs support, from us and the board, but he needs to know that we have standards and he needs to meet them.
Walter’s original article is How to kill a player
A third article in this series on reappraising “supporting the manager” will appear tomorrow morning.