Not all Reds are rosy

Um … what is going on at Manchester United?

I wrote a while back about Luke Shaw, about this on again off again relationship he has with Jose Mourinho. Back in December I thought that while Mourinho was praising his form and suggesting he could be a part of greatness, he was merely talking Shaw up for a transfer sale. Then when the January window passed and Shaw stayed, I thought I was wrong. But it appears that Shaw is not in his manager’s good books. Replaced at half time in United’s most recent game, he has been called out by his manager again.

There are those in the Manchester hierarchy who are concerned with the slightly erratic behaviour of their manager. Now, in this day and age, that kind of psychological behaviour and tricks that Mourinho was famous for in his younger days no longer works – as he found out at Chelsea – and players really want to have a sense of where they are with their manager, not having him speaking in parables. You don’t need to go further to look at a manager like Sean Dyche. Dyche is straight-talking, speaks his mind, praises the effort of his players, or criticises them collectively instead of singling them out. Mourinho? No one can really get what he’s all about.

Even the star players are flummoxed. Paul Pogba’s form has been erratic of late, with manager questioning him and praising him in the next breath. No one yet knows if Pogba and Alexis Sanchez can play together, but even the latter is said to be struggling at the club. This is not really much of a surprise really, because you don’t really need to place doubt in the mind of a team. It appears as if Mourinho thinks these sort of mind games take the heat of his players, and gives reporters something to write about instead of the poor form of his players, but that is all in the past now. Instead the team is under a cloud of darkness thinking “What is he really on about?” and we have seen time and time again that doubt fuels poor form.

Is Anthony Martial staying? Who knows? Is Marouane Fellaini moving elsewhere? No reassurances about his future. And Shaw? There are many who believe Mourinho’s treatment of him leads to bullying. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shaw, at some point, files for unfair dismissal against Manchester United. Now, you don’t have to be dismissed to be able to do that, you can resign based on the untenability of your position because of the treatment of superiors. There is plenty of evidence for Shaw to put forward.

And Mourinho? It all went downhill from the time of Eva Carneiro.

Transfer Scraps and news around the league

So how do you think Riyad Mahrez’s first day back at Leicester went? Awkward…?

The 2016 PFA player of the year rejoined training after handing in a transfer notice after interest from Manchester City during the January window. It is easy to see how both would have liked the other. Mahrez plays with amazing pace on the wing, and would have completed the speed of Sane – the two might have been the Mancunian equivalent of Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, and in Manchester City, Mahrez would have had a club that offered the kind of football he wanted, instead of languishing in mid-table after the surprise win of the Premier League title. Unfortunately it was not to be though. There are official rules about players speaking with other clubs but instead it would be easier if clubs made their approaches officially instead of through agents – who then leak their comments to the press. If Manchester City had gone direct to Leicester, they would have immediately known that the transfer would not have gone through, instead of leaving the Algerian disaffected. Is it fair that Leicester suffer for the stirring?

Mahrez joins a list of players to never have made it across to the other team, but at least it is better than Peter Odemwingie’s attempt to force a move – driving and plonking himself at the doorstep of the club in an attempt to force a move. Wonder what he thought on the drive back?

Leicester are a team that found it hard repeating as champions and Chelsea, last season’s champions are finding just exactly the same thing. It is one thing to be out of Europe, to have few matches to play, and then win the league on the back of a strong team with few matches to play. But when the next season rolls in, the extra games to play can really take its toll on the squad and then fatigue and negative attitudes set in – precisely the slump that Antonio Conte is experiencing now.

Will City, the Manchester boys in blue, suffer next season under the expectation of having to work to defend their title while being involved in a heavy European season. God forbid what would happen if they win four titles – having to defend four would decimate not just the squad, but the wallets of the owners!

The transfer window is closed and still Alexis Sanchez is making headlines for Manchester Red, this time joining a list of players who have received suspended sentences for tax fraud. Will Sue Barker be using it as one of the questions on A Question of Sport in years to come?

And what would one make of Jay Rodriguez? The West Brom and England player is facing a charge of racism for something that was said between him and Gaetan Bong. He is protesting his innocence, but when you pinch your nose and say something that makes someone else take offence, it doesn’t look good …

Arsene Wenger suggests that English players are good at diving. I suggested yesterday that perhaps they go to ju-jitsu classes. Perhaps next on the agenda should be ventriloquism lessons, so they can grit their teeth and utter what they want without being caught by the cameras. Or VAR!

Hot feet before they even got wet

You’ve got to hand it to Phil Neville.

Brother of the failed Valencia manager Gary Neville, with a grand total of one game of managerial experience, at a club he partly owns (Salford), you can’t have said he was that good. But how did he end up as manager of the England women’s football team? Was it because Ryan Giggs was no longer available? Neville had one game more management experience than his former Manchester United team mate, and it seemed like England were trying to emulate the Welsh Football Association in plucking Giggs out of nowhere to manage the Welsh football team. At least Ryan Giggs is a proven winner on the field. Off the field, well … he is reportedly despised by his own family for his affair with his brother’s missus … but that’s his life out of football and no one is judging.

Philip Neville? Now managing the England women’s football team, replacing Mark Sampson who was fired for his comments around Eniola Aluko, supposedly racial ones. Sampson lasted a few games after Hope Powell left the job, but while it was controversial, at least it didn’t surface until well in the job. Neville? First day on the job, and he’s already in trouble/

Why did the FA choose to appoint Neville despite knowing he had tweeted sexist comments about women on social media? One of his tweets on the account @fizzer18 said “When I said morning men I thought the women would of been busy preparing breakfast/getting kids ready/making the beds”, which somehow seemed to get 3555 retweets and 1858 likes. Other users also mentioned comments in which he joked he had “just battered the wife”.

More worrying, how is it someone wth no meaningful experience, let alone experience in women’s football, was chosen to lead England? In addition, despite the recent hoo-hah about the Rooney Rule, which states the FA should interview one applicant from various backgrounds, this was not the case. Neville was simply appointed manager.

It is difficult to accept there were no black, Asian, minority ethnic or female applicant. How is it possible that the FA could not promote a prestigious job to anyone else from these backgrounds? And how is it that Neville’s lack of record in management qualified him above other candidates?

And how did the FA miss the background checks?

The FA has not had much luck in appointing managers for either the men or women’s team. Mark Sampson’s problems are well documented. Sam Allardyce lasted one game before being caught out by his comments about agents and bungs.

But those short tenures before encountering problems are long in comparison to Neville’s. He has not even got his feet warm in the job and already he is facing problems on the first day of his job. The first day!

Is there a vendetta against him, like there seemed to be with Ryan Giggs? The Welshman’s appointment was similarly troubled by accusations he had not played enough for his country – even old team mate Clayton Blackmore had to defend him by saying it was Alex Ferguson who stopped him from turning up for Welsh friendlies.

Neville has since deleted his Twitter account, but the historic social media comments, which border on the misogynistic and sexist, do not hide the fact that it is seemingly inappropriate for such a man to be managing the England women’s team. Would you had made Hitler mayor of Palestine?

Despite all this, it has been mentioned that Neville will not be charged for those remarks.

Charged? If those remarks were punishable as chargeable offences, then he should have been charged before he was put in charge of the women’s team.

Chargeable, no. Inappropriate, yes. And the FA could have saved itself a lot of trouble by appointing an ex-player from the women’s team, instead of just settling for a high-profile figure.

Too high-profile, it appears.

Slap in the face

Big Sam Allardyce claims to have been baffled by the poor defending at the club he took over.

To be fair though, he can claim to have tightened up the defence. In the four game he has taken charge of, they have only conceded one goal.

But while Allardyce claims credit for his work, he should not forget that the person he replaced, caretaker manager David Unsworth, used to be a player for the club.

In fact, Unsworth was a defender.

Oh well, maybe Unsworth unfortunately doesn’t get enough respect from the club management. After all, he wasn’t aware of the club’s progress of his successor’s appointments.

Discrimination?

Given the strong football rivalries that exist between the Welsh and the English, and others in other fields such as rugby, one might consider it prudent that the Welsh Football Association did not appoint an Englishman for the post vacated by Chris Coleman.

Is it discriminatory to rule out an Englishman for the job?

In any case, what FAW Jonathan Ford mentioned in an interview was:

“We have always favoured Welsh people because arguably the passion is there. Somebody said this earlier, Welsh most definitely, foreign possibly but definitely not English.”

In other words, it wasn’t him that said “not English”, but he was mentioning that someone else had suggested that.

Anything wrong with that?

And just imagine the Spanish football association looking for a new manager: Spanish definitely, foreign possibly, just not Catalonian.

I don’t think anyone would object if Pep Guardiola never got considered for that job.