Whether it is, “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back” or “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” there is definitely a divide among Manchester United supporters.
The 2017-2018 campaign has seen the Red Devils of Manchester secure the Community Shield, EFL Cup and if they win Thursday’s home match against Rostov FC land themselves in the final-eight of the Europa League. While that does not sound like the worst of seasons, especially after what has happened in the past few years, fans are still upset and want more.
In the Premier League, Manchester United have found themselves in 6th place for months and, for some supporters, the lack of movement up the table is crippling. With a club the size of the Old Trafford outfit there are bound to be fans on both ends of the spectrum and we all know that it is difficult to please anyone 100% of the time.
These fans have been happy with the results so far this season as a whole, but are willing to admit that it could be better as they have seen some matches that could have been better. They have trust in Jose Mourinho and think that United are in a building phase that is much different than that of previous unsuccessful managers, Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes. These supporters are looking at the big picture and believe that, from-a-far, the United of today is a closer representation to the club of old. Manchester United have an identity back and even the fans are singing about “being into something good”.
These optimistic fans are the ones that were waiting patiently for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to slip into form early in the season once he had the trust of the manager. As painful as it was to watch such an exciting player waiting on the bench for his chance, deep down these patient reds knew that it was just a matter of time.
Last week, Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have seen a red card a few times in the match against Bournemouth. In the second half Zlatan’s elbow struck the face of Tyrone Mings and as a result of the play, miraculously, he escaped a caution and second yellow. Upon a replay it was revealed that the Swede was retaliating for Mings stepping on his head a few moments before. The next day the FA reviewed the play and Zlatan was given a three-match ban for violent conduct. For the optimists, it is the chance for Ibrahimovic to take a few days rest and recharge for the final push of the season and will be a solid chance for Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford to lead the line.
When looking through the lenses of the optimistic fans the glass is always half-full and chances to improve will happen and eventually be taken. The remaining Premier League fixtures will provide chances for Manchester United to move up the table and hopefully land themselves in the important Champions League spots. While the optimism is flowing there is still the chance of winning the Europa League, meaning there are still two routes to cement their badge into the Champions League, where many believe it should be. While the 2nd option of climbing up the league table seems to be a tricky challenge, fans are still, clinging on, hoping for a run of results. The last time that United endured two draws and a loss, they then went on a run of eight wins. If that happens again the optimists will be certainly excited.
Optimism is not a bad thing to have after a few years of struggling lack-luster performances but like many things in life there is still another side to the coin. For every optimistic Manchester United fan you are bound to find a pessimistic one. With a few clicks on Twitter, or your favorite social media platform, you are bound to find a significantly less optimistic supporter. For these fans, enough is enough and 6th place is not where Manchester United belong. The club has simply drawn too many games that it should have won and now is facing the grave that it dug itself.
The pessimistic fans cringe every chance they see a team sheet, in fear that Jose is setting the team up for failure before the game begins. Right or wrong, complaints fly out about the winger options or who is playing at right-back. With as much stress and pressure that these fans place on the game, you would think they would spare themselves the trouble and simply watch it.
For pessimists, Luke Shaw, has no way back from the depths of Jose’s dungeon and he will be likely sold in the summer (Shaw did make a spot start against Bournemouth on March 4th). These fans are the ones that claim that Marouane Fellaini should not be wearing a United shirt, as it was a mistake that saw him purchased in the first place. Pessimistic fans write the games off before they even begin simply based on the team selections and looking at match-ups before they even play out.
Paul Pogba is a familiar target of the pessimistic fans, who suggest the player has not lived up to his hype, despite the face Jose Mourinho suggests, game-after-game that the Frenchman has been the best player on the pitch. While he may not be getting the goals and assists that the Red Devils are in need of, it is hard to deny that he is making a difference. Nonetheless, the pessimistic bunch are making their cases known.
While the perspective of these supporters is not wrong and at times, they are simply offering a realist vision of the current state of affairs, it can be difficult for the under-informed or new fans to find balance. Being a supporter of such a large club can be exhausting when even within a group of a team’s supporters there are a huge number of contrasting opinions.
While there are definitely two sides to Manchester United supporters this season. there is definitely more talk about regarding the club itself than in years past. They have a manager, in Jose Mourinho, who is not afraid to speak his mind, and world-class players, who have the ability to get people on their feet.
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Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line
The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.
The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.
Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”
The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.
Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.
Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.
From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.
Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.
Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.
Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.
This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.
But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.
In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.
Is a Luke Shaw for Danny Rose swap deal a no-brainer transfer?
Shaw and Rose have both struggled at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively, this season.
It looks as though Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw will be leaving Old Trafford this summer. The BBC report the England international will seek an exit after his latest stinging criticism from Jose Mourinho.
Shaw has struggled to win over the Portuguese since Mourinho became United manager. Now it seems the end of the tether has been located and Shaw will make an exit. The 22-year-old, who cost a fee reported by the BBC to be in the region of £27 million in 2014, will not be short of suitors.
Despite his struggles at Manchester United since suffering a horror leg break, Shaw is considered one of the best young left-backs in the game.
The obvious solution should be clear and for Shaw certainly desired. A move to Tottenham Hotspur must be his wish.
Shaw came through the ranks at Southampton and became an England international under the coaching of Mauricio Pochettino. The pair had a special bond and Shaw has confirmed a desire to work with the Argentine again. He wrote in Guillem Balague’s book Brave New World: Inside Pochettino’s Spurs, as reported by Sky Sports:
“I do hope that I can play for him again one day. And I think he really wants me to play under him again.
“He used to call me his son, that’s how good our relationship was. I’ve had lots of ups and downs, but when I was with Pochettino it was only ever up, up, up.”
It is a similar relationship to the one many have suggested Pochettino had with his current Tottenham left-back Danny Rose. That relationship, however, has been in decline. After appearing to suggest he wanted a Spurs exit last summer, and after a battle with injury, Rose has become second-fiddle at Spurs to Welshman Ben Davies.
Rose, originally from Leeds, is known to eventually want a return north and Shaw will no doubt love a move south. There is an obvious solution on the cards here.
Manchester United would love to bring in Rose and finally fill their problem position of left-back. Shaw needs to leave Old Trafford for a fresh start to his career. Working under the man he once considered a father figure could be just what he needs.
Shaw to Tottenham and Rose to Manchester United seems a no-brainer. Time will tell if either move comes off for these two players searching for fresh impetus in their careers.
Jose Mourinho should build Manchester United around Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford returned with a bang against local rivals Liverpool on Saturday.
In his first Premier League start since Boxing Day, Marcus Rashford inspired Manchester United to victory over fierce rivals Liverpool. The 20-year-old’s first-half brace was the perfect way to mark his return to the starting XI, which had been confirmed following an injury to Paul Pogba.
Rashford has been a peripheral figure since Alexis Sanchez joined the club in the January transfer window. But, in arguably the biggest fixture on the Premier League calendar, the England international grabbed with both hands a rare opportunity to impress as United moved five points clear of Liverpool.
There was no evidence that Rashford’s prolonged spell out of favour had affected his self-confidence. His first goal was bursting with skill and composure. After latching on to a long ball from Lukaku, Rashford bamboozled Trent Alexander-Arnold before firing past Loris Karius.
Although his second found the net with the aid of a deflection, once again it was a testament to his sharpness. Despite his limited game time, that’s now 12 goals in all competitions this season for the World Cup hopeful.
Rashford’s stunning contribution will certainly give Jose Mourinho food for thought. The Portuguese has regularly picked Pogba, Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard ahead of Rashford of late, in the attacking trio behind Romelu Lukaku.
While Martial and Lingard have justified their selections, the same cannot be said of Pogba, who at times has looked uninterested. Sanchez too has yet to exhibit his best form in a United shirt since joining from Arsenal.
History has taught us that Mourinho rarely excludes his high-profile players, regardless of form. Had Pogba not been sidelined through injury, it is entirely likely Rashford would once again have been forced to watch on from the bench. Consequently, what transpired against Liverpool might have been a mere fantasy.
United have a proud tradition of producing homegrown players and not relying on foreign imports. Look at the treble-winning side of 1999, whose success was founded upon a British core.
Admittedly, the landscape has changed dramatically in the past two decades. The riches of the Premier League mean a club of United’s stature is able to cherry-pick the world’s best players. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. The club’s identity is sacred and, in recent times, United have been in danger of losing theirs.
The fact that Rashford was not signed for £75 million should not preclude him from being United’s centrepiece. As he reminded everyone in his performance against Liverpool, he has all the talent required to be a fixture at the club for years to come.
However, he needs to be playing regular football. A few minutes here and there will not accelerate his development. On the contrary, it could risk one of this country’s most promising starlets becoming an unfulfilled talent.
Rashford offers United something different from his team-mates. He gets supporters off their seats and electrifies the atmosphere thanks to his blistering pace and trickery, which in many ways is a throwback to the Sir Alex Ferguson era at Old Trafford.
These are qualities not usually associated with Mourinho, who throughout his time in management has always demanded his players to be tactically aware. Rashford is a wildcard, the ace in the pack that can conjure something out of nothing.
Forget Pogba and Sanchez, If Mourinho gives Rashford an extended run in the team, he and United will flourish.
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