By Ian Carroll
The good news; we only had one left back on the pitch. That, boys and girls, is progress! The bad news; that left back was Paul Dummett, a man ideally suited to a mid-table third division side (with an injury crisis) It takes a special kind of manager to pick one player for pretty much all of pre-season, then decide that actually, Sadio Haidara isn’t up to the job, and only Dummett will do. As it happens, that special kind of manager is Mr Alan Pardew. In reality, Dummett was no worse than anyone else on Sunday, but I’m still unable to work out any question to which Paul Dummett is the answer.
United lost 2-0 to the champions of England on Sunday, as they did last season. It was far from a terrible performance (in a lot of ways) but the idea that a team plays well whilst having NO shots on target isn’t really one I can get on board with. The best team in Manchester didn’t have loads of chances themselves, but they didn’t need to- they won at SJP without breaking sweat (again) and by the end it was hard not to think that had United scored at any point it would just have annoyed them. That’s not how Alan Pardew saw it, of course.
There were, I guess some positives to take from it- Colback was neat and tidy and rarely gave it away, Cabella (despite the hair) looks lively and Ayoze Perez is really, really fast. On the flip side, the fact that a central midfielder rarely gives the ball away should be a minimum requirement for the job, rather than a novel idea. Colback and Anita might be the most ‘meh’ central midfield ever, we still can’t defend very well and I don’t know who is more confused by the idea of Moussa Sissoko being a footballer- me or him. I want to like him, I think I kind of do like him, but I just don’t know what he actually does. And, worryingly, neither he nor his manager seem to either.
Another negative was some United fans seeming to boo Gabriel Obertan onto the pitch. Now, I’m not going to suggest that Obertan has pulled up any trees in his three years (doesn’t time fly when you’re being bad at football) but if anyone can explain to me (using crayon, I’d imagine) how booing your own player onto the pitch is going to help, then I’m more than happy to listen. Then tell you you’re wrong.
Alan Pardew said some things after the match on Sunday, and I imagine he’ll say some more things this week (in a carefully controlled environment) Nothing of what he did say, or will say, should concern anyone, because nothing the man says ever bears any relation to fact, unless by accident. The club (ie Mike Ashley) have taken a fair bit of stick for their desire to limit media access to the players and manager to the absolute bare minimum. I can see how this looks like another (yet another) attempt to show Ashley knows the price of everything and the value of absolutely nothing, but then let’s consider two things: firstly, most footballers never, ever say anything of any interest whatsoever, and if this new policy of restricted access means that we’ll not hear so much of Steven Taylor talking about bouncing back after a(nother) massive defeat, how much he cares about the club, how he knows how the fans feel etc, etc, then I honestly think I can live with that.
Secondly, if you employed Alan Pardew, what would you do? If this is all part of some elaborate ruse to save the world from such gems as ‘I’ve said all along, since I’ve come here as manager that communication with the fans and being honest is a big part of what I’m about. (he continued) I’ve done that at all my clubs and the information’s important,’ ‘I don’t think we had too much to be concerned about tonight,’ after a 4-0 defeat, in which I’ve no doubt Tommy Docherty would have thought we were lucky to get nil, ‘I’m pretty sure I would have stopped that last goal had I been on the side-lines,’ ‘I thought we was much better, we was much better second half,’ and, of course, ‘I love Shark Bar, me.’ (that might not have been him)
United are at Villa on Saturday. This should be a feast of football, and I can see why BT have picked it as their live game. Get your money on nil-nil.