Saturday 24 November 2018

Our season is over and it's not even December

I simply do not know where this is going to end. It's November - barely a third of the way through the 2018-19 football season - and Manchester United's campaign is more or less already over and done with.
After 13 games, we're seventh in the league, closer to Cardiff City than we are to Manchester City. 21 points - six wins, three draws and four losses. A negative goal difference having been knocked out out the cup by a second tier side amidst the wreckage of a season that has hit the rocks and is sinking fast. You would have to go some to be worse than David Moyes, yet this is United's worse start to a season in 30 years, and the only two sides we've played of any considerable stature are Chelsea and Manchester City. Seven points off fourth, out of the Carabao Cup and with about as much chance of winning anything this season as me becoming the new Brexit secretary. One trophyless season is a major disappointment for any United side - two in succession is borderline dereliction of duty. We've still got the FA Cup to come, but as we somehow saw in Turin, you can get lucky and shithouse your way to a win in a one off game. The league is the bread and butter. The league title is what we all want. There was undisputed progress last season as United's second placed finish was our best since Ferguson. It seemed to lay the bedrock of a campaign that was make or break for the manager. With City already cutting an unstoppable swathe through the league, we're sandwiched between Marco Silva's improved Everton and Eddie Howe's upwardly mobile Bournemouth. Leicester and Watford are hot on our heels. A reminder that it is November. It's not even Christmas yet - the first trees are only just going up - and we've got nothing to play for. Already.

It also would have taken some doing to outdo Moyes' successor Louis van Gaal when it comes to somehow managing to reach similar levels of stifling, strangulating and soporific football. It's ironic that during the Dutchman's darkest days in the Old Trafford hotseat, the same set of fans who had to sit through the sleep-inducing s**tshow that was Saturday's goalless draw with Palace were actively and unashamedly singing for Jose Mourinho. Such ironic hubris. So desperate was that 2015 winter of discontent, the quick fix of Mourinho seemed the only obvious solution to the mess.

As we all know, LVG paid for the pragmatism with his job. Surely the man many - if not all of us - wanted as his replacement cannot survive beyond this season, barring a miraculous upturn in form. There may have been different faces on the dugout and on the pitch, but the dynamic was eerily similar. This was a performance and a result straight from the Louis van Gaal copybook. It was a case of deja vu.
Indeed, this could have been any one of the many moribund Manchester United messes from the last few years. The personnel may have changed with the club in a seemingly permanent state of flux - from Moyes to Mourinho via LVG and Giggs - but United remain out dated, out of touch and out of ideas. We're so far behind not just City or even Liverpool, but even any club in Europe with the vaguest idea of what direction they want to go in and what type of club they aspire to be.
 Much has been written about the way the club is being run and the fact we're rotten from top to bottom. All I would say is that if there is anyone - anyone - out there who can possibly still be behind the manager, then ask yourself this: what justification can there be for keeping him here other than the obvious one of the ineptitude of the hierarchy. The board have made three poor managerial appointments so can we trust them to get it right this time? You can't see it.

On the eve of the game, the manager claimed United could break into the Premier League by the end of December. The top six by May - never mind anything else beyond that - is quicky looking like nothing more than a pipedream.

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