Archive | March, 2012

The Next United Manager

30 Mar

I think the vast majority of fans would want Fergie to stay on until he decides the day, after his achievements and the pleasure he has given United fans over the years this should be a given. However I often get asked who I think the next United manager will be and who I would like. The next United manager I expect will be Jose Mourinho I believe the special one has told friends in the media of his desire to take charge of United but would prefer not to take on the position immediately after Fergie calls it a day. However I doubt he would turn the opportunity down if offered the position.  He fulfills much of the criteria he is a proven winner, certainly in the top 3 best managers in the world, and has experience of managing big clubs and some of the biggest and best players in the world. After Busby resigned United went through a number of different managers but none of them before Fergie had a proven winning record of trophies Dave Sexton won the FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup with Chelsea was the most successful and achieved those 6 years before joining United.

Since then United have grown in to one of the biggest and most successful clubs in the world with the club embracing the globalised era. When Fergie first joined United he was known to go up to players and say, “big place this”, the club nowadays has grown out of all recognition, as have the expectations. I think Fergie was being serious when he said he would struggle taking charge of the club for the first time today. The criteria where the special one doesn’t fit the requirements are the brand of football he has a history of playing, his short-term outlook where he builds clubs through buying players rather than think long-term and develop youth which has been a critical factor of United’s ethos over the years. He also has tended to fall out with the owners of most of his previous clubs. Moreover the way he conducts himself as a man and a representative of his club isn’t the United way. I will not always defend some of the things Fergie does but he has enormous respect in the game, I cannot say the same thing about the so-called special one who I feel would embarrass the club and fans and probably create wider divisions amongst fans.

You may have guessed Jose would not be my choise, ideally I would go for Pep who I think carries himself well, his teams play great football and encourages youth, people say why would he leave Barca but managers rarely stay at clubs any length of time nowadays. Although the negatives to his appointment are considerable, his lack of experience he has only managed Barca and their B team and the duties of a coach at Barca are limited compared to those as a United manager.  He also took over a great team so how would he cope building one or when things go wrong, how would he cope with his lack of knowledge of the premiership and the media etc.

The modern-day thinking is that managers struggle to motivate players if they stay at a club any length of time as the players have heard it all before so many times. It is interesting to see how Fergie keeps motivating players such as when we were losing at HT to Blackpool many thought Fergie  would let  rip with the hairdryer instead he said to the players you’ve got us in to this mess how are you going to get us out of it. He went to each player for how they were going to change the game in favour of United and wouldn’t move on until he was satisfied with each answer. It is this desire to win and the ability to change tactics and keep players motivated which makes Fergie so rare.  While I like and rate the likes of Moyes it would be difficult to believe he has the drive or ability to turn players in to winners or keep that desire going inside players. Harry Redknapp is a good manager but in 30 years of management he has won one major trophy the FA cup. There are lots of good managers but very few winners.

I doubt the next United manager will last more than 5 years at best, the pressure will be considerable and it will be interesting to see the funds which are made available. Fergie has obviously made it a priority he does not want to be remembered in the way that Busby was by leaving the next United manager with an ageing team and little in terms of youth coming through the club. Fergie will leave the next United manager some of the best young talent in the world and the manager will not face power struggles with senoir players in the way post Busby managers did or recent Chelsea managers have.

I think tradition is important, things usually become traditions if they have benefits, United should always play great attacking football, they should encourage youth and they should be the leaders on how to conduct themselves on and off the field, role models. The manager is obviously a critical figure in achieving or ignoring these objectives!


Mind Games

28 Mar

Mind games effect can be over-stated, I have major doubts Keegan’s outburst was the major factor behind Newcastle losing the title. And mind games are happening every time anyone communicates, it seems they only become critical when the media says that these are mind games and then fans watch to see what happens the next few games. Having said that there are certain occasions it is obvious to all that what certain people are saying is directed at attempting to upset or rather cause players/managers/fans to question certain things resulting in them asking questions they would not usually ask or make decisions from doubt.

When it becomes clear that this is the objective though the pressure is placed not only on those who the remarks are aimed at but the person who is making them. He enters a dangerous arena, if you want to use the media to put pressure on another and it backfires it can and has destroyed championship challenges in the past. It is difficult to deny that Rafa’s rant had anything but negative side effects on his team. Rafa’s remarks had no affect on the United management and players but Liverpool’s results certainly suffered, good management takes pressure away from players bad management makes them more aware of factors outside football and that concentration and relaxed way of playing is broken.

City with Mancini are trying to do it through payment of ex players, Vieira has obviously been given the role to attempt to unsettle United players but can this work? It takes the heat of Mancini as it is directed to the player, however you cannot really hurt people when things are going well, it just bounces off and you feel stronger as your confidence isn’t weakened how can it be? What have United players got to question? They are playing good football on top of the league, winning most weeks while City have dropped a pretty impressive lead, and continue to drop points and players who were dynamite early in the season such as Silva are looking relatively average at the moment.

Vieira having failed painfully over his comment on Paul Scholes has either took advice or has worked out he cannot affect United at the moment directly because they are on form, so he is attempting to influence refs and the media in the hope that the next big decision will go against United as the ref and assistant refs remember the media fuss about United getting decisions. I believe this is illegal in the game nowadays probably another reason why Mancini is not saying it but using Vieira.

This again I suspect will only backfire against City and Vieira reading the tweets from numerous non United fans they think Vieira is looking very foolish and if that is the dominant thinking throughout football the next dubious decision for or against City may not go the way they hope. People do not like to be used and manipulated when they find out they are being used in mind games.

To play and win in mind games is not easy, it often works against the person playing them especially if they start them and try to usde the media or officials in the game.

Pleasurable memory

28 Mar

Could you please go in to the comment section and write for about 2 mins on something that gives you a great deal of pleasure and memories of when you have felt this way. Please do not write about sex or anything anyone might find offensive. Before you put fingers to the keyboard go in to the memory and recall the pleasure. Do not worry about spelling, or grammar or anything such as that just explain the pleasure.

Thanks in advance.



Could Past Greats Cope?

24 Mar

A question I get asked perhaps more than most is how well do I think the top players of past eras would get on today? Fergie and many others claim the best players of yesteryear would be great players in any era. Personally I have my doubts about this as I think you can only have so many great players at any one time, the very special ones stand out.

While I cannot conclusively answer the question I can give the reader some tools to analyse the question seriously and be able to give a more informed opinion. I will use the English league as the basis of most of the discussion but the analysis evidence can easily be transferred over to any league. There are obviously advantages and disadvantages of playing in both eras.

Firstly I will state that  the quality of modern-day football is at a far higher standard than it has ever been. In the past decade we have moved towards a global game with the best players from all over the world playing in the premiership, while in was rare to see non-British players playing in the prem during the 50s, 60s and 70s.The first World Class player from foreign shores was probably Ardiles in 1978. Over the past decade we have seen Ronaldo, Henry, Vieira, Drogba, Essien, Cech the list goes on and on and even the so-called average foreign player has lifted the standard unquestionably. Moreover the development of training methods and fitness regimes and medical advances help players to reach levels of fitness unseen in previous eras. The development of squads has allowed players to become athletes of the highest order, previously players were trained to last the season as squad rotation was never an option. If you have ever trained to the peak of fitness you will know it is much easier to get an injury. As a consequence of this each game fans get to see fresh players, much fitter, better prepared with less niggles turn out each week. This increases the level and players have to keep improving or they wont stay in the team or league very long. Having these advantages would almost certainly improve the players of previous eras.

The pitches are superb today and made for football, after a few months in the past eras players had to play in mud heaps, or/and frozen pitches, grass and smooth surfaces were soon gone. The balls when wet increased in weight  up to 20 percent, the boots and shorts hardly comparable to today’s designer technology. Moreover players were allowed to get away with GBH before being booked and skilful players were quite rare as they could be fouled out of games. These factors resulted in the type of play and the reason for the evolution of the long ball and physical demands of the English game and the emphasis on teamwork and work rate.

Perhaps the biggest change has been tactics, Busby’s favourite pre match saying go out and enjoy yourself with little consideration to the opposition is a thing of the past. Today tactics, systems and knowledge of individual players is critical to success.

However a critical factor is that if we look at players they go through eras without a mass exodus, this tells us that players rise to the challenge. And the incremental improvements in the standards most season are something players can and do take on board. Charlton was a top player in the 50s 60s and early 70s. Giggs I would argue has played some of his best football after the age of 35.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player and thought the standard of the game has surpassed him now without reference to his age.

I think however if a player was to be a top player in the 1950s and suddenly  moved in to the modern-day he would struggle, he would be lost, the game is so different but going through a timeline of gradual changes it is easier to adapt and change small parts of the player’s game.

And of course the size of players has changed considerably, a big strong player in the 50s may be seen as relatively small in today’s game. And that would have an enormous effect when he could brush players off with ease and out jump the opposition to find himself unable to do this his confidence would also take a battering.

I have attempted to look from past to modern-day but if we were to take the modern-day player back in time I have no doubt many would struggle. It was a time when men were men, and you had to take it, there was very little protection for skilful players only really your team mates who would protect you if the opposition tried to put you out of the game.

Another critical factor is the culture shock and sense of values, making such big jumps in time back or forward would be extremely difficult to cope with, things change incrementally and people learn to accept them even if they do not agree or like them, being placed in the modern-day game for a player brought up in the poverty years of the war and seeing the attitude of some team mates would be unbearable for some I suspect. Football is about doing things you do each day for years and feeling confident and at ease. If doubts, unhappiness lack of confidence seep in to a player’s game they will lose form.

Players I have no doubt would have made it in any era as a true greats are George Best and Bobby Charlton and would probably have been even better in today’s game than the eras they starred in. However I’m not sure if the likes of Law Moore and many others would have been stars in the modern game. I think the fact we see so many less English Scottish and Welsh players in the top division and so many African’s South American’s non-British Europeans etc is a clear demonstration that most of the players from the past would struggle to get in the premiership today.