Manchester United are woeful at association football and Newcastle game was just further evidence of it – The Warm-Up
Manchester United are horrible at football. Truly horrible. And they need to start again. Jurgen Klopp is having a moan again and there is nothing wrong with that to be fair. Also, Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski are not up for a World Cup every two years. Finally, it has been a bad year for football – the year, it has been argued, its mask finally slipped.
Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo gestures during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on December 27, 2021
Depending on your chosen source, Manchester United’s playing squad is worth between £780m or just a smidge over £1bn. They are – apparently – the second most valuable squad in the world, sitting just behind that noisy lot Manchester City.
They are broken. And a change of manager won’t - and hasn't - fix it. Gary Neville crystalised the issues in his fiery half-time comments during their first-half disasterclass against the Magpies.
"There's no pressing, there's no urgency and the basics of the game are not there,” began Neville at half-time while working as an analyst for Sky Sports.
"Every single battle they've lost. It has been a really poor performance and not one single thing has gone right as a team. They've not done one single thing right and there's not one single player can go in at half-time and say that they’ve done their jobs or done themselves justice."
This is not just a team without an overarching philosophy, this is a collection of players lacking – to go full Roy Keane here – the requisite desire and hunger to compete with a historically poor Magpies side.
Neville would go further, calling United a bunch of whinge-bags.
“[You need to do] the basics of the game properly, which is win your battles, go in for tackles properly and show a little bit of urgency.
They are a bunch of whinge-bags. I'm not going to go into the names. But, honestly, they are whingeing at each other and their arms are up in the air and they are complaining about everything.
“Honestly that is absolutely shocking out there and, to be honest with you, they got the last manager the sack and they'll get a lot of managers the sack if they carry on like that. It's only 45 minutes but they've got to sort themselves out because that is massively below what's expected.”
And he went at them again at full time after Edinon Cavani emerged from the bench to salvage a draw.
“That’s not what Ralf Rangnick has come in to do at Manchester United. That was a mess,” added Neville.
“The two centre backs were absolutely atrocious from the first minute to the last. It’s devastating for the younger players in the team that the two best players [Bruno Fernandes and Ronaldo] are running off at the end and whingeing.
“They have to be the father and the grandparent in the team. They should have a go but also put your arm around [the younger players].
Bruno is whingeing all the time. The two players at the front who can carry that team have to be there when your teammates need you.
“The attitude and the basics just aren’t right. I don’t think they are all together at this time.”
This United team – put together at great cost – need, alarmingly, an overhaul. A fairly complete overhaul. The sorry state that United find themselves has been years in the making due to a complete lack of direction at director level. United have signed lots but have they signed well? On this season’s evidence it is a resounding no. And to fix it, they may have to start again.
‘It's not right!’ – Klopp hits out again
Cards well and truly on the table – the Warm-Up is a fully paid up member of the Jurgen Klopp Loves a Moan club. The guy *loves* a moan. It must also be said that Klopp loving a moan should not necessarily be seen as a bad thing. It is literally his job to protect the interests of his club and one of the methods he uses to do that is to moan.
Sometimes he has a point – on fixture congestion – and sometimes he doesn’t – it was windy. So at the moment, Klopp has a point. The amount of games professional footballers are asked to play is, to be generous, troubling. And the circumstances under which they are being asked to play the festive round of matches this season – under the cloud of another Covid-19 wave in the UK – is far, far, far from ideal.
Here he is on the fixture congestion.
"We wanted to play on Boxing Day, we could have played on Boxing Day no problem at all. It was because of Leeds obviously, the situation there. But then to play the 26th and 28th is just not right. I think you can find solutions for that. It's not that difficult to play in a slightly different way, 26th (then) 29th, where's the problem, some teams are doing that."
Now this fixture congestion is compounded by that fact that teams could be without a serious number – the specifics are unclear – of players due to Covid and still be expected to fulfil their fixtures. This *can* put an inordinate physical strain on those players who have not fallen foul of Covid. One way to address the current weight of physical expectations on players is to revert back to allowing five substitutes to be used per match.
"[This] is the best league in the world, most intense league in the world is the only league in Europe and maybe the world, I don't know, we still have three subs."
It is a fair point.
‘Impossible!’ – It is a no from Mbappe and Lewandowski on biennial World Cup
On the subject of asking players to do too much: the biennial World Cup. It does not have support from players, coaches or fans. Yet, it is still – perhaps – in the offing.
Anyway, the latest duo to state their aversion to this terrible idea is Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe.
"I'm not a fan,” began Lewandowski.
We already have so many games to play, and so many tough weeks - not only matches but preparation for the season or for big tournaments.
“It is impossible for the body, and for the mind as well. If you want to play football longer than 10 years you need a break. It's impossible to play the World Cup every two years. To get high performance levels it would be very difficult."
That seems fairly resolute. And here is Kylian Mbappe:
We already play 60 games a year and there are already a lot of competitions. We are happy to play, but when it's too much, it is too much. If you want to have quality, you have to allow the players to rest.
“In my opinion the World Cup is the World Cup. It's a special thing because it's something every four years if you want to keep that special.
"You saw [how] I talk about it, people talk about it, about the best team, the best competition in the world. If you have it every two years it can start to be normal to play the World Cup.And I want to say that's not normal, that's something amazing, something you play maybe one time in your life."
Also resolute. Can we just get to the point where everyone agrees this is a bad idea.
2021 has been a weird year – it has, given all that has happened, blurred the time continuum. A lot of stuff has happened in the world of football – a lot of it bad – so here is Miguel Delaney, in the Independent, to remind us all of what an utter moral vacuum the beautiful game has descended into.
It was, in so many ways, the year the mask slipped. The naked greed of the Super League plan threatened to change the face of the sport, before Lionel Messi agreed to become a face of Qatar. Saudi Arabia finally succeeded in taking over Newcastle United, and so many Premier League players hid their faces in refusing to take the vaccine. Even one of the positives, which was England’s socially-conscious squad reaching the Euro 2020 final, was spoiled by the crowd issues at Wembley.
It is one Ben Snowball – fresh from an 11-day holiday, don’t tell Klopp – bringing you all the latest from another stacked day - sorry Jurgen - of festive football.