Showing posts with label Casemiro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Casemiro. Show all posts

Steady progress under Erik ten Hag amidst uncertainity over club ownership

Erik ten Hag clearly over achieved in his first season as manager of Manchester United by finishing third, winning a trophy, reaching finals of the FA Cup and an extended run in Europa League filled the club’s coffers. United were also helped by the self-implosion of rivals Liverpool and Chelsea last season, who in turn have spent big in the summer. While City were imperious, Arsenal have spent big on Rice, Timber, Havertz, Raya. Competition just got even difficult this season. New rule proposed by FA to consider exact time of ball being in play to calculate stoppage time will mean more lengthier ending to both halves thus sapping up energy of players further, ultimately resulting them in playing 3-5 more matches per season.

Erik ten Hag got his man in Andre Onana to replace United's player of last decade David de Gea. Onana will be able to start attacks, come forward lot more to be like sweeper keeper and this risk taking will inevitably result in few errors leading to cede advantage. ten Hag has changed a very reliable goalkeeper after just one season like Guardiola did at City with Joe Hart. Like Guardiola, for ten Hag also this would be the hardest decision he has had to take. Beware Claudio Bravo the replacement of Joe Hart cost City the title! Onana will need time to settle in to pacey Premier League but he has already worked Erik ten Hag at Ajax will mean he knows what the gaffer wants. Already in pre-season he conceded a goal when opposition team chipped the ball over him to score. Schmeichel, van der Saar and de Gea have been three outstanding keepers for the club in last 30 years and will take enormous effort to try to match their accomplishments.

United stuck to their guns in negotiations with Chelsea for Mason Mount and finally got their man on 4th bid. Mount will eventually replace Eriksen who seemed off-pace after his return from injury last season. Also, there is more goals in Mount which will reduce the burden on strikers. His movement alongside right inside channel will mean new avenue of attack, leading to creation of more chances. This is an excellent acquisition by United. To top it Erik ten Hag decided to hand him the iconic #7 jersey, hoping this does not weigh him down. United do need to have a backup for Casemiro as they have looked most vulnerable in his absence. Sofiyan Amrabat is being mentioned as a possible addition, will be a good boost.

United did not pursue Harry Kane due to difficulties in negotiations with Spurs and this transfer could have protracted all summer thus disrupting the focus. Instead signed a potential in Rasmus Hojlund who just turned 20 this February for a significant investment. This is a welcome change from signing older forwards from Falcao to Weghorst. Last such signing was Anthony Martial and Hojlund will not end up like him due the coach that Erik ten Hag is. Hojlund has more physical presence, runs in the channels, holds the ball better than Martial. These attributes bode well for him, thus the expectation for him in initial years at United has to be lower.

Bruno Fernandes has officially become the new club captain and Marcus Rashford signed a new deal to extend his association with club he joined as a kid. United have done well to agree sale of Telles(€4m), Elanga(€15m), Kovar(€9m), Fred(€15m), Iqbal(€1m), undisclosed fee from Savage, Bishop, earning from transfer of Chong(€1m) to Luton Town. Approximately €45m with futures of few players yet to be decided like Maguire, van de Beek, Henderson, McTominay, Martial etc is indeed good business. Would have liked Kovar to be number two keeper with Heaton but United have got first right on his next move and proceeds from sale to any other club. 'McFred' era is finally over. Credit to Fred to have always put in 100% effort.

Following the strategic review of the club by Glazers last November to initiate a potential sale, and conclusion of few rounds of bidding no definitive response has come forth from Glazers. MUST and 1958 group both have planned protests for the season opener against Wolves. MUST statement reads "The Club feels like it is being held hostage by the Glazer family". Despite this uncertainty of takeover, backlash over Greenwood future, FFP rules that limit spending, United have done two other positive things: Agreeing a long term £900million deal to extend the partnership with Adidas two years in advance which might help to infuse some more funds for this summer’s transfer if contract duration can be prolonged, and created a players lounge area to give instructions to players before matches after similar requests from van Gaal and Mourinho were declined earlier. Club under Richard Arnold, John Murtough and Erik ten Hag have been working within the system to gain maximum for the club which fans can relate to with appreciation. Having got a good foundation last season here is hoping United to close the gap with City and Arsenal even further.

Fatigue catches up with the best United midfield in a decade

At the London stadium, Manchester United team consisting of midfield trio Casemiro, Eriksen and Fernandes tasted its first defeat to West Ham due to an howler from keeper David de Gea in the first half. Bruno Fernandes ranks the best in Europe in terms of xAG, key passes and shot creating actions. Despite starting well and creating a host of chances the forwards Weghorst, Rashford and Anthony failed to convert any. United lost their 4th away match in last five a staggeringly poor set of results that included a club record 0-7 drubbing at the hands of fiercesest rivals Liverpool at Anfield. Its Liverpool who are chasing down United for the crucial 4th spot for qualification to next season's Champions' League. United are only 1 point ahead with a game in hand and most crucially 3 of the remaining 4 matches are at home to Wolves, Chelsea and Fulham.

Fernandes(54), de Gea(53), Rashford(52), Fred(51), Casemiro(46), Martinez(45), Shaw(43), Dalot(40), Eriksen (39) have been part of United's squad that has played the most games of any club in the top 5 leagues across Europe. Also the age profile of players in their supposed peak around 30's has 9 players: de Gea, Casemiro, Varane, Maguire, Eriksen, Fred, Fernandes, Lindelof, Shaw, Martial. West Ham literally out ran United in the second half and were easily making a run with a shot at goal. It was a terrible sight. Substitutions were needed to be made around 60th minute or earlier to have been effective. This dip in second half performance clearly lays out the problem of fatigue. United need to muster all energy to push for 3 wins now else the season will unravel. Repercussions will include a lower budget for squad overhaul and importantly top players like Osimhen will again snub United for European glory.

United have been playing two games per week on Thursday's and Sunday's since Christmas and thanks to their exploit's in FA Cup and League Cup have played 52 games thus far. Bulk of their scoring has come from Rashford alone. Weghorst for all his effort in pressing hasn't been able to score enough goals while Martial has been injured or lacklustre. Since the last international break Fred has had a reduced participation and Casemiro a dip in form. Erik ten Hag picked Lindelof and Shaw in central defense and benched Maguire, who gracefully came on as a substitute whenever called upon. David de Gea discussing his new contract with United and committing blunders at the same time does not auger well for both parties involved despite public backing from the manager with a claim of most clean sheets in the Premier League this season.

United raised their game to beat Brighton on penalties and reach the FA Cup final. Despite being second best, they were able to contain the seagulls and constantly search for answers with timely substitutes which took to penalties. David de Gea miss read all spot kicks and then came Weghorst to cheekily disturb the next taker who missed the target thereby saving the Spaniard's blushes. Erik ten Hag has been able to bench under-performing players in defence, midfield and not in forward or goal keeping positions due to lack of squad depth. Dean Henderson rebelled against the club to be sent on loan, Heaton and Butland have not featured in any of Cup games either tells a stark tale of United living dangerously, after Newcastle recalled Martin Dubravka who had played in League Cup game. United might have to stop City winning the treble in the final.

Maguire, Martial, Henderson, Telles, Bailly, Tuanzebe, Williams, Jones potentially represent a third of squad that needs to be replaced and fill the empty slots in forward positions. Huge task lies ahead for Murtough and team in the summer. All major deals are held up due to takeover saga which has not concluded except that of Shaw and Garnacho. Likes of Rashford, Dalot who may want even bigger pay check if Qatar become the new owners. This will push the renewals to the summer and add work on top of recruitment. News of Glazers who may yet opt to stay either as majority shareholders in partnership with US Hedge Fund companies or in minority with Ineos bid was a big dampener. Supporters have put their weight behind the Ineos bid to remain apolitical.

Jimmy Murphy statue was unveiled in Old Trafford which finally recognises his crucial role in not allowing the club to fold in the immediate aftermath of Munich air disaster of 1958. Sir Matt Busby used to frequently say his best signing was his assistant Jimmy Murphy. Wayne Barton has written a definitive book aptly titled 'The Man Who Kept The Flag Flying' and recently shared the sad news of legendary United fan Tom Clare's passing. #RIPTomClare This comes after the loss of Ian Stirling, the founding member of clubs Fan Advisory Board and liaison officer for Manchester United Supporters Trust. #RIPIanStirling


United can win their first match against Sevilla

In order to reach the semi-finals of Europa League, Manchester United need to make history by recording their first ever victory against Sevilla and in their stadium 43,883 seater Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan. United have drawn and lost two games each against them thus far which is also the record of Sevilla under their latest manager Jose Luis Mendilibar with four games in charge. And one of those duels between the two clubs was in 2020 Europa League semi-final when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the manager at a neutral venue. This is easily a more daunting prospect for Erik ten Hag.

Manchester United are having a poor away record in English Premier League losing three of last five games. While in Europe this season United have faced three Spanish opponents already in Sociedad winning 1-0 away, losing 0-1 at Betis and drawing 2-2 in Nou Camp against Barcelona. This has made fans to mock the draws against four Spanish teams as if United were playing in Copa del Rey!

First leg of the match which ended 2-2 at Old Trafford had United cruising 2-0 till the 62nd minute and Erik ten Hag made three substitutions removing Fernandes, Sancho, Martial that turned the match around. Later Anthony was taken-off at 81st minute to protect him from getting a second yellow. United lost their best defender in Lisandro Martinez for rest of the season through broken metatarsal. At half-time Raphael Varane had to come off. Varane-Martinez have been United's best centre back pairing this season. Both are out of the squad for this game along with suspended Bruno Fernandes and another injured duo Garnacho and McTominay.

Harry Maguire will most likely be paired with Luke Shaw replacing the injured Varane-Martinez. Maguire though getting limited playing time under the Dutchman would have rued the fact as to why he wasn't paired with Shaw earlier, the duo enjoy a good rapport with England national team also. Maguire-Shaw braved a 2-0 away win at hostile Elland Road in February and today's atmosphere would be no different. Diogo Dalot and Aaron wan-Bissaka would be two full-backs taking the heat off young Tyrell Malacia. Similarly Marcel Sabitzer who had a slow start to life at United with respect to number of games played has started to prove himself by scoring those two goals in the first leg. He would be replacing the big void of Bruno Fernandes in midfield and play alongside Casemiro and Eriksen.

For such a crucial match Marcus Rashford will want to play some role and contribute to injury ravaged team's cause. He might even start with United clearly needing to win this match. Rashford alone has scored 1/3rd of United's goals this season and without him United were cruising till 62nd minute at Old Trafford last week is a testament to Erik ten Hag's work. Sevilla will be tipped to target Anthony dos Santos and will the Brazilian who got a goal and an assist for the first time in the same match for United in Sunday's win over Nottingham Forest rise to avoid confrontation and enable another victory? Can Martial score in a crucial match under pressure? Fred's best scoring season at United will be a factor to have him involved at some stage.

To fathom the scale of task facing United, last time Sevilla lost at home in Europa League was in 2016 quarter finals against Athletic Bilbao in extra time and the Spanish national team are unbeaten in 26 matches there! At the same time this season the club are struggling in 13th position in the league table having lost 0-3 to Barcelona and 1-6 to Athletico Madrid recently while they let in unusual 4 goals in two of their group games in Champions' League against Man City and Dortmund. Their current coach Mendilibar, aged 62 isn't as storied in stature as Julen Lopetegui nor Unai Emery.

Starting XI: de Gea, Dalot, Shaw, Maguire, wan Bissaka, Casemiro, Eriksen, Sabitzer, Rashford, Martial, Anthony
Bench: Butland, Vitek, Lindelof, Malacia, Fred, Zidane, Elanga, Pellistri, Sancho, Weghorst

United dominate opposition after years in doldrums

Manchester United totally bossed the game with 28 shots 10 on-target against 3rd placed Antonio Conte's Tottenham Hotspur who were also 6-points ahead. Casemiro, Eriksen or Fred, and Fernandes have given United the impetus to dictate the game and set the tempo. Brazilian duo Casemiro and Fred battled against Spurs while Eriksen was brought back in to partner Casemiro after being unwell to totally outclass Chelsea in the first half at Stamford Bridge yesterday to draw 1-1. United for their dominance should have at least scored one goal in 1st half from three clear cut chances created. Casemiro's imperious header sealed a point in 3rd minute of injury time after going behind in 87th minute through a penalty clumsily given away by McTominay. Scotsman's strike in injury time was enough to beat Omonia Nicosia 1-0 in Europa League. It was United's first injury time winner in European competition since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's stunning goal to win the 1999 Champions' League over Bayern Munich. Fergie time is back in the reckoning!

Erik ten Hag has clearly brought back team spirit and sense of purpose with a clear vision of how to play. He has now demonstrated the complete 'control' of footballing side of the club, a trait as outlined by Sir Alex Ferguson as the most important inorder to restore the club back to its glory days. David de Gea has started to come off the blocks to stop opponents from creating a chance while Luke Shaw is re-energised creating a healthy competition with Tyrell Malacia. Diogo Dalot is a constant presense with his keen footballing brain while Lisandro Martinez adds street-fighter mentality missing since Steve Bruce, Jaap Stam and Nemanja Vidic days. Raphaeal Varane is able to balance the unit by organising it to face the threats like a leader by accelerating at key stages to clear the danger that Harry Maguire has not been able to in recent past. Defense has provided a strong foundation and now midfield is starting to dominate and create chances but the Forward line has yet to click to convert the dominance into easy victories.

Four games in nine days: 1-0 over Nicosia at home, 0-0 vs Newcastle at home, 2-0 at home to Tottenham and 1-1 away at Chelsea. Cristiano Ronaldo started in first two games, refused to come on as a sub in the game against Spurs in a clear case of misjudjement on his part, and was rightly suspended by the club for the match against Chelsea. This explosive incident did not disturb the cohesion in the dressing room and the togetherness of the squad was on display in the reaction to scoring the equaliser in injury time. Ronaldo unsettled, Martial often injured, Greenwood remains suspended; this leaves Marcus Rashford as the only fit and proper centre-forward. Anthony Elanga was preferred by Rangnick came on as a sub against Chelsea while Alejandro Garnacho was on the bench but unused as his contract talks have not progressed. United need to play three more games before the World Cup and a further 24 games in English Premier League has to be played after the event in Qatar. United should not be in such a precarious position in the forward department.

United board are constrained by the excess spent of £20 million each on the Ajax duo Martinez and Anthony that will hamper efforts to buy a top striker in January like Victor Osimhen. Osimhen will not leave Napoli in the middle of the season especially when they are on top of Serie A and top of their group in Champions' League including Ajax against whom they scored 10 goals in two games! Joao Felix at Atletico Madrid is not getting enough game time this season due to presence of Greizemann and Morata but Felix is more of a second striker than an out and out striker with a price north of £65 million. Rafael Leao of AC Milan has to be ruled out as he predominantly plays off the left of front three or on left wing. Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig appears to have agreed to join Chelsea next summer. Benjamin Sesko of RB Salzburg remains a promising option aged only 19 which rules him out from being a first team starter in case of injury to Rashford. Jonathan David of Lille is on an upward steady trajectory in last three seasons and carries major goal scoring responsibility for his team. Part of the squad that qualified for World Cup with Canada as winners of their group and scored 9 goals. Approx £40 million is the valuation for both Jonathan David and Ivan Toney; the former looks slightly better prospect than Ivan Toney, 26 of Brentford who already plays in Premier League with a call up for England National team recently.

United must sign either Jonathan David or Ivan Toney in January transfer window else risk losing top four and repeat last season's mistake when Ralf Rangnick was not allowed to sign a striker as Greenwood was initally suspended late in the window and wantaway Anthony Martial was loaned to Sevilla. Rangnick alerted United to availability of Dusan Vlahovic, Christopher Nkunku, Darwin Nunez, Julian Alvarez. United lost last six away matches to finish 13 points adrift of 4th place scoring only two goals. As Rashford emerged under Louis van Gaal, Mason Greenwood under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Anthony Elanga under Ralf Rangnick, the fans were expecting to see Alejandro Garnacho promoted. The Argentinian was part of 33-man squad in March, 2022 but has not yet played for the senior squad. Erik ten Hag has been consistently picking him in the first team squad but not given game time. Forward line of Rashford, Osimhen, David and Elanga or Garnacho would be the expectation for next season.

United this season have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham at home, losing to City away and drawing to Chelsea away. Good home record is the essential base for a solid finish and eventual title challenge in a few seasons given the high standards of City. Erik ten Hag has handled the situation around Cristiano Ronaldo firmly yet respectfully. United finally have a midfield in Casemiro, Eriksen, Fernandes and Fred to play on their strengths and not take counter-attacking route which was used too often in recent past especially under Solskjaer. Eriksen has no backup as yet and thus the interest in Frenkie de Jong while Donny van de Beek has missed most of the season through injury. Erik ten Hag has seen out a tough set of fixtures in first eleven games, while 20 points and 5th position is the same as David Moyes at this stage of the seaon, the Dutchman has evolved a clear playing style that dictates the player selection and a much better squad to chose from. United are back... but here is the World Cup in the middle of the season and risk of injuries to players that can yet derail the season!

Glazers break the ceiling after #GlazersOut reaches a crescendo

Every new manager of Manchester United barring David Moyes was handed about 140 million to spend on new players. Louis van Gaal brougth Angel Di Maria, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind. Jose Mourinho used it on Paul Pogba, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic(free). Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had Harry Maguire, Aaron wan Bissaka, Daniel James. Same was the expected outlay for Erik ten Hag except for two factors. First was footballing one where six players who came to the end of their contracts left although that freed up the wage bill enourmously. Second reason needs examination of chain of events that unfolded.

During a visit to a local pub chief executive Richard Arnold engaged with fans and answered all questions forthrightly where he disclosed the summer transfer budget to be about 200 million. Having parted ways with outspoken Ralf Rangnick the club decided to discard his suggestions of needing upto ten new players after the loss to Liverpool and ended their interest in targets that belonged to the Red Bull group whom the German had been associated in the past.

United and Erik ten Hag started the window by targetting the Barcelona and Dutch international Frenkie de Jong. Barcelona were in financial turmoil and needed to raise cash to revamp their squad and register them with La Liga who follow more stricter guidelines of UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules. This interest was sustained through out the transfer window despite the player repeatedly stressing his desire to stay with the Catalans. Arnold and director of football John Murtough visited Barcelona and increased their offer from 65 to 75 million to cover the deferred wages the player had been owed in order to complete the transfer. de Jong represents the Barcelona identity in Johan Cruyff mould and from the same Ajax acedemy where he honed his skills. Selling him would have betrayed the ethos of the club and the player was never wanting to leave unless forced. Barcelona meanwhile sold percentage of media rights to raise sufficient cash to not force the sale. United did not get their target.

United had only one new player for pre-season Tyrell Malacia and another two new before the season started in Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez. Having comprehensively lost the opening game of English Premier League to Brighton with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo angling to leave, the club were in disarray. United hierarchy responded by chasing Bologna striker Marko Arnautovic for 7 million and Adrien Rabiot for 15 million! You cannot be serious!! Scott Patterson and other fans wrote to Richard Arnold questioning why the club were on the verge of signing a rascist? United backed off. Rabiot demands were excessive, thank god. Back to the drawing board. Brentford gave United a massive shock with a 4-0 thrashing in just 35 minutes of first half. Fans group 'The__1958' had organised protests against the Glazer ownership of the greatest English footballing institution before the match against arch rivals Liverpool. This time there was lot of media scrutiny into Glazers taking dividends out, not putting their money into the club, increasing debt, lack of investment into Old Trafford and Carrington etc. Something big had to be done to reclaim the focus on football which is a 'results driven business'.

United agreed a fee of 70 million with Real Madrid for their Brazilian central defensive midfielder Casemiro with the player present in the stands during the match against Liverpool. Reputed Spanish football expert Graham Hunter speaking to Off The Ball said this might result in Real not winning La Liga such is the importance of Casemiro to that squad. Following the win against Liverpool, United went back to Ajax to persuade them to sell Anthony whom Erik ten Hag had coached to become a full Brazil international. 84.5 million fee was accepted by United which shows the degree to which the manager believes in the player and the club backed it up. Worlds best wingers have mainly come from Manchester United with Geroge Best, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo or Brazil with Garrincha, Jairzinho, Rivellino. Sir Alex Ferguson chased Ronaldinho. Anthony becomes United's first Brazilian winger finally. United ended the window with spend of 226 million second only to Chelsea under new ownership and signed keeper Martin Dubravka on loan from Newcastle United to provide competition for David de Gea. 

United had lost seven consecutove away games a feat which had not occured since mid 1930's and now managed to win two back to back away gaimes against Southampton and Leicester by a single goal with same starting XI that does not include Ronaldo, Maguire, Shaw. Arsenal the only team with 100% winning record to top the table presents a real test for Erik ten Hag's team. Casemiro and Ronaldo came on as substitues in last two games and could start against the Gunners. Anthony would eventually start on the right wing while Jadon Sancho switches to the left; either of these would be vying to wear the coveted #7 shirt after the tenure of Ronaldo ends. Goal scoring record and adaptability of Ronaldo will also result in him being included in the starting XI which looks like: de Gea(GK), Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Malacia, Casemiro, Eriksen, Fernandes, Anthony, Ronaldo, Sancho

Five of starting XI have been changed in first transfer window itself of Erik ten Hag, massive. Lisandro Martinez has already won United's player of the month award, Malacia had Salah in his pocket in his first game for United, Eriksen spraying the passes from the deep to push Fernandes into goal scoring positions, over to Casemiro and Anthony now for 'o jogo bonito'. Without head of recruitment United under Richard Arnold seem to have come to grips with the situation by changing their response by accepting feedback and listening to genuine fans. From van Gaal, Mourinho to Solskjaer it was the second summer transfer window which deeply dissapointed. Win always gives a breather to correct and Arnold has time till next summer to prepare and learn from past mistakes.

Erik ten Hag cracks the whip

Erik ten Hag stamped his authority by dropping Ronaldo, captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw for the crucial do or die match against Liverpool at Old Trafford. He clearly stated the reason to drop Maguire and Shaw was to "want mobility and agility" in defense. Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as the latest centre-back pairing combined well with full-backs Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia to produce one of the best defensive displays in recent memory despite giving a goal away. Arrivals of Ibrahimovic, Lukaku, Cavani, Ronaldo had stunted the game time of Martial in particular and Rashford but the duo were given their chance on Monday night to combine for the second goal. Entire team were proactive and took the game to Liverpool in stark contrast to previous two games as revealed by the distance covered of 114km vs just 95km in earlier matches.

Scott McTominay covered the pitch with thought and restraint while Christian Eriksen sprayed the passes. Elanga had a wonderful chance to open the score but hit the post. Not to be detered Jadon Sancho received the ball in crowded penalty area and reversed his movement to out do the marker and slot in a direction pointed by Captain for the day, Bruno Fernandes to score. Old Trafford erupted in joy. Liverpool then upped their game and domintaed the rest of first half. After restart Anthony Martial replaced Elanga on the left and his weighted pass found Marcus Rashford who might have been just off-side and beat the keeper to make it 2-0. Liverpool scored with 9 minutes left to setup a finale but United's high spirit tended to that and even enabled a triple substitution of Ronaldo, van de Beek, wan Bissaka for Rashford, Eriksen, Dalot in 86th minute.

Before the kick-off #GlazersOut protests started from Media centre towards Old Trafford through the Munich tunnel and chants continued throughout the game. Hugh McIlvanney of the Times lamented in 2005 about "supporters are cannon fodder in football’s money wars, virtually guaranteed victimhood."  while Brian Glanville took direct aim at the Glazers "Utterly ignorant of soccer, owner of Tampa Bay Buccaneers American gridiron club, obsessed by the urge to make money from childhood,.. he is the very incarnation of capitalism red in tooth and claw." After the disastrous touting of European Super League by the Glazers who reached out to fans in order to appease them 16 years after their massively leveraged take over, the English media in general have finally woken up. 

Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports started pointing out the reasons for United's downfall despite United being on a 5-game winning streak in last full season under Solskjaer while senior United and ex-Telegraph reporter Mark Ogden said 'diminished status and expectancy is down to the owners' after the humiliating 0-5 loss to Liverpool last October. Failure to conclude the transfer business not just before the pre-season but even after English Premier League has started just highlights the constraints under which Erik ten Hag has to operate. This repeated failure of Glazers is no longer hidden from most of the media nor are they enamoured by lavish signings and wages on last choice players who end up at Old Trafford instead. For once Fans and media are in sync.

Before the match fans paid tribute to players who were part of England's Euro 2022 winning squad Ella Toone, Alessia Russo, Mary Earps and unveiled their latest signing Casemiro. The Brazilian despite his age might be one of the most influential signings United have ever made. He was the lynchpin of the most successful era in Real Madrid's recent history and allowed rest of the team to thrive and elongate their careers. Casemiro was man of the match when Madrid won the UEFA Super Cup and is match fit. Diego Simeone called him out “For the balance of the team, he is without a doubt their most important player.” while Zinedine Zidane brought him into the first team by noticing qualities similar to Claude Makelele with whom he played and won handsome laurels. Murtough and Arnold must be congratulated for having pulled out a coup of a transfer. Martinez and Casemiro fill the void of steely resolve and tenacity to the squad. Casemiro will wear shirt #18 of Paul Scholes.

United did not bow down to super agents in their quest to sign quality players. Ajax holding United to ransome over Anthony and 90 million is too much when their own fans claim 60 million is sufficient. This is especially true as club looks at back-up goal keeper, right back, striker and another midfielder. Erik ten Hag not only made the team run 13.8km which they lagged against Brentford team in their 0-4 humiliating loss but he himself ran with them to demonstrate he is with the team while helping them recover and not merely passing instructions. ETH exploited United's pace againts Liverpool to secure a memorable win and showed remarkable flexibility to change tactics. This is one of the key reasons why fans preferred him over Pochettino. Key now is to string up a winning run of games that includes Southampton and Leicester City.

Do or die against our biggest rivals as #GlazersOut gathers pace

New manager Erik ten Hag lost opening two games comprehensively against Brighton & Hove Albion (home) and Brentford (away) by scoreline 1-2 and 0-4. Team as a whole nor players individually did not demostrate any fight whatsoever. Ronaldo was introduced at half-time in the first match while three substitutions were made in the second where David de Gea was unusally responsible for two of the goals and apoligized for the same. Liverpool with two draws are 15th in the table meet United who are 19th on Monday in the biggest rivalry of English football. Last season United lost 0-9 on aggregate. Last time Manchester United lost their opening three matches it resulted in the change of manager before Christmas, first in 1972 with Frank O'Farrel and then in 1986 with Ron Atkinson!

Disastrous summer of rebuild without a head of recruitment caused this nightmare start with a new manager in tow. Richard Arnold and John Murtough concentrated all their energies on Frenkie de Jong who loves Barcelona not Manchester. Since the departure of Ander Herrera the club does not have a defensive midfielder of repute. Nemanja Matic was inefffective due to his age and Scott McTominay thrust into the cauldron like a youth parachuting over Normandy with only hope to his aid. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who was backed to the hilt never filled this crucial gap having played with Roy Keane and Micheal Carrick. Erik ten Hag started both the games with McTominay and Fred in continuation of previous regime despite signing Lisandro Martinez who could have played in that role to limit the damage. Erik ten Hag has also retained Harry Maguire as captain, David de Gea as goal keeper and wants to retain Ronaldo who scored 24 goals for the club last season. If results do not improve either of these might have to give way.

Attention and blame was rightly pointed to the Florida based owners of the club, the Glazer family whose leveraged buyout has saddled a profitable club with debt that now stands at 590 million. They have thrown money since Sir Alex Ferguson left but without a clear vision. Mainstream media has finally got the guts to state these facts. But what took them so long? Was it their nationality or amount of money being thrown at the problem. Few of the grievances are listed below:

  • capped spending under Sir Alex Ferguson to 20 million even when rivals were spending more.
  • sold Ronaldo for world record 80 million but replaced them with Owen(free), Obertan, Valencia
  • have not upgraded the facility at Old Trafford since takeover
  • backed OGS, LVG without oversight even SAF esp by not having replaced Scholes and Giggs
  • backed the cult of Pogba over the manager Mourinho and destroyed the culture
  • united reserves relegated in 2018 under their watch
  • failed Moyes and Mourinho in the transfer window
  • commented that club can sustain without Champions' League football
  • earnings call always referenced social media frenzy the club generates but not sound football structures
  • only club owners in EPL to take dividends without putting their own money into the club
  • no fan interaction until the protest by fans over super league fiasco
  • backed the disastrous European Super League
  • not sacked Ed Woodward sooner. To be fair Richard Arnold from his interview appears more frank and sincere.

What was the initial reaction to the loss? United had apparently 75 million of Frenkie de Jong deal to spend and guess who they were approaching to sign - Marko Arnautovic and Adrien Rabiot! Arguement was that de Jong still signs before deadline day and additionals funds of 7 and 17 million coughed up to fill the gaps. Abject lack of big picture is brazenly evident in the decision making echelons of the club. Finally the #GlazersOut movement that got trending forced the club to make an approach for Brazilian midefielder Casemiro who like Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo has won five Champions' League titles at Real Madrid. Madrid were able to break perhaps their greatest midfield trio of Modric-Kroos-Casemiro due to marquee young talent they've signed up in Tchouameni and Camavinga. 60 million pounds with 10 million in add-ons for a 30 year old is still expensive considering that Varane was signed for 34 million pounds at 28 years of age last season.

British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe a boyhood United fan who had even made a late bid to buy Chelsea earlier has expressed a firm interest to buy the club from the Glazers. The NFL affiliated owners who are at the forefront of commercializing sport are not likely to sell their English Premier League assets easily though. United would definitely match and exceed the price Chelsea got i.e., 2.5 billion pounds. What can force the Glazers to sell? Sustained fan protests in the immediate phase or pressure from the independent regulator when its fully functionaing later on. Change of ownership will be bumpy but if they do not take money off the club and invest instead will win over the goodwill of fans slowly apart from having a clear football vision. 

Madrid trio Varane, Casemiro, Ronaldo with ten Hag's signings Martinez, Eriksen all starting will mean captain Harry Maguire may not be first choice starter. His positional sense is suspect and is not adept at playing the high line makes him suseptible to errors that lead to goals. Ronaldo had to be assuaged by the United hierarchy especially given that there was no Champions' League football this season from the opening of the transfer window by signings like Casemiro and still need to add a backup striker, right back, midfielder, leftwinger, goal keeper if possible. Bid for another of ten Hag's favourites Anthony was increased from 60 to 80 million which is huge in itself but to raise it further to 100 million would be insane. Instead would a young and hungry Declan Rice make more sense? Or combination of PSV winger Cody Gapko and Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkov-Savic who both offer physicality that is lacking in United presently. Without Casemiro, United will need to manage Liverpool for now at Old Trafford. #MUNLIV This one match can turn the season around and save Murtough not Erik ten Hag from the sack.

Garnacho, Hojlund, Mainoo

INEOS chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe not only met with all staff and players but also fans forum and community groups to stress the same message...

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