An opinion poll was recently encountered in one of the myriad Manchester United fan groups on Facebook posing the admittedly interesting question as to who has been the best manager of the Red Devils since Sir Alex Ferguson retired nearly a decade ago. Now read on…
Perhaps being a little trigger-happy, this corner immediately plumped for Jose Mourinho. On the not unreasonable grounds that he was the last one to bring a trophy to Old Trafford. A few of them, in fact. That said, he ended up being treated shabbily, just as were David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and Ole Gunnar Solksjaer during the wilful and planned destruction of the club by the gombean Glazers and their sycophantic lapdog Ed Woodward.
Just wait until you see, it was announced today that American Football legend Tom Brady’s marriage was just sacked, no doubt the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will give their fading star a nice pocketful to soften the blow. And it wouldn’t take Einstein to figure out where the dough will be ponied up from.
Anyway, a more nuanced appraisal would indicate that, already, Erik ten Hag’s stewardship is, even at this stage, shaping up to be better than any of them. Right, so there will ultimately be a judgement on trophies, but, even already he has things in much better shape.
Take the first couple of matches out of the equation – anybody is entitled to a settling in phase – and he has begun to sort out a ramshackle defence, in other words got rid of Harry Maguire, got the team playing the United way, fast, accurate counter attacking football and, most significantly, has a zero tolerance policy for player bullshit.
If there was to be one criticism of the boss’s reign so far, it has to be his relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo. From the off here, the No. 7 was wrong to react as he did against Tottenham. But, ten Hag should have been making more use of the magnificent forward.
However, it would appear the men have patched up things. One would hope so, because the player still has plenty to offer. Mind you, it would appear that the coach has more players than Ronaldo to sort things out with.
For you see, being around iconic superstars doesn’t turn you into them automatically. Something which I’ve no doubt United’s new Brazillian winger Antony was rather sternly reminded of after Thursday’s game against Sheriff.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with displaying abundant skill, and we are all wowed by a bit of trickery. But football, and especially at the highest level, is a results business, not an entertainment one. That’s only for the rest of us.
Antony might think he’s of similar ilk to Ronaldo, not likely, yet anyway, but, until there’s need to ready the trophy cabinet, he, like the rest of them – including the manager – are very much on probation.