“Don’t get me wrong,” sighed a favourite old colleague as we balefully examined United’s dim final-week prospects yesterday morning. “I’m still glad Ole’s at the wheel. It’s just that he’s driving a sodding clown car.”
A few more bits fell off the comic contraption at Huddersfield yesterday, although no-one in the red-nosed away end was laughing. Especially when the custard pie arrived from Chelsea.
Now we contemplate next Sunday’s meaningless finale, featuring one of the worst-performing teams in the division, who have nothing left to fight for and who’d be happy with just a point. Versus Cardiff.
Alright; such facetiousness may be overdoing it, but only slightly. These players, it would seem, cannot wait to escape the scene of the crimes they have been committing. They will soon zoom off on their globe-destroying jets to various exclusive beaches and villas, from where they will fill their Instagram accounts with vulgar pictures of themselves spending the thousands per hour we foolishly pay them, and doubtless some starstruck idiots will still lap it up.
By rights, they should all be sent to a disused Butlins on the smoggy outskirts of Middlesbrough and left amid the chemically diseased flora and fauna to fend for themselves. With any luck, Luke ‘Pizzaboy’ Shaw would end up eating several of them.
Meanwhile, back at home base, poor Ole will be at the DIY, cobbling together the foundations of a new squad and trying to attract fresh talent to replace any of those Ed Woodward manages to offload from the fat wage bill. One wouldn’t fancy his task.
The club were tellingly sensitive this week over a trivial little story I broached here last Monday, about a Jesse Lingard TV clip being censored. He had talked about the difficulty of attracting stars if we didn’t make the Champions League, and the United press office have been dancing a fandango trying to have the editing reason disguised.
London Sun on Sunday
ran the story anyway, and it made even more sense in context; Ole himself had been forced to rather unconvincingly address the same topic in his pre-match press conference. It’s a sore point, clearly.
Imagine the pitch to targeted foreign stars. “Would you like to join a mere Europa-level team that’s undergoing extensive repairs, with a new inexperienced boss, the infamous ‘SuperTed’ Woodward in charge, run by the non-spending Glazers, and where many of your teammates will be useless/on their way out/plonkers??
It would, of course, help Ole if United were to dispel the ongoing miasma over the ‘technical director’ appointment as soon as the season ends. Or is it ‘sporting director? And hang on; wasn’t it once going to be ‘football director’?
The way this job has been built up, down, and then up again in the nine months since it came onto the agenda under José tells you a lot about the state of Woodward United — it’s all fluxed up.
We reached a new low with the news last week that Rio Ferdinand has been interviewed in connection with this supposed opportunity. There are many, many reasons, most of them legally unprintable, why this idea made me laugh out loud when I heard about it but the journalist involved assures me it’s a serious story.
Thankfully, I am also told he is not expected to be offered the post although, given Woodward’s record for picking the wrong man or wrong moment every time he appoints, I still fear the outcome.
Bigger decisions may yet loom. In part two of this columnar season finale next Monday, we’ll obviously have a look at possible transfers but we’ll also examine the rumbling issue of the Glazers’ potential next move.
Might it be the Sheiks of Saudi or the Sultans of Seattle? And why has ownership come back onto the agenda now anyway? Presumably not, as another colleague grunted, “because they’ll have seen us play; perhaps they’re looking for a tax loss”.
You’ve got to laugh, haven’t you? Everyone else is...