As is now traditional here when United play the (snigger!) ‘Super Eagles’, I salute the entire mass of the Crystal Palace Irish Supporters’ Club. Top of the morning to you, Murph, and I do hope you and your bicycle are well.
He and I were still young men last time Palace turned United over at Old Trafford, in a match become legend because of a painted bedspread.
Funny how little old suburban Palace have so often been present at some key ‘United-in-crisis’ split-badge moments. Poor Frank O’Farrell getting sacked in 1972 after a Selhurst thumping; the almost-lost 1990 Cup final that ended up saving Fergie’s career and ending Jim Leighton’s; the 1995 Cantona kung-fu and subsequent semi-final Keano Contretemps; and, of course, the ‘Ta-Ra Fergie’ watershed. Will Saturday one day prove to have been some sort of ‘moment’ in the Ole/United relationship?
United lost 2-1 that 1989 day as well, although they arguably had less cause to feel a bit robbed back then than they do today. A series of extraordinary refereeing decisions on Saturday has allowed many positivist Reds to argue we can dismiss this as an unwarranted blip, and that the car is still heading in the right direction with Ole at the wheel.
Well, perhaps — although you’d hope the car would have gathered a bit of pace by now. United were as slow, unimaginative, and over-deliberate as at any point in the post-Fergie era. And what a woeful lack of creativity, to be struggling to get a shot on target well into the second half against a well-organised but clearly limited team.
If United cannot find the wit within their ranks to break down this kind of well-coached yet perspirational, rather than inspirational, opposition, then we are in for a long weary season. The midfield is still not up to the task, after all these years of such obvious problems; and in Pogba and Lingard we have a crucial duo who have spent the last year disappointing us all.
Lingard hasn’t scored or even assisted a league goal in 2019, yet is still a first choice pick. Pogba — infuriatingly hit ‘n’ miss with his showboating passes on Saturday — spent the summer clearly expressing desires to be elsewhere. Thus we now have the unedifying sight of Ole being Pogba’s weekly press conference supplicant, begging him to stay, not least because we have so little else in our stockroom.
No wonder, then, that noises are emerging from O.T. about Ole “being allowed” to spend the Lukaku proceeds come January on a new midfielder. How very generous of our insect overlords. It also seems they haven’t noticed that a season can be over by January, if you haven’t sorted your midfield out in August.
But rest assured: that genius de facto director of football, physics graduate Ed Woodward, must have taken all this onboard into his master plan. Remember, kids; thanks to SuperTed, we can supposedly ‘do things in the transfer market that no-one else can do’, if I am correctly recalling the old presspack briefing line.
(And, to be fair, that’s true: no club in recent times has shown such outstanding ability to waste money so spectacularly as United have on the likes of Sanchez, Rojo, Di Maria, The Armenian, Uncle Tom Cobbley, etc etc...) Meanwhile, September 2nd’s deal deadline is just around the corner, when we finally get to see if any of the threats/promises from Europe about taking away more of our supposed assets are well-founded.
Thanks to a handful of racist morons on social media, Paul Pogba has had the collective club arm around his shoulder this past week, instead of the kick in the crotch his general surly indifference surely deserved. Will Real swoop, and do we really care?
As for Sanchez and Rojo, we are so desperate to get rid that we would pay for the privilege. Actually, in Sanchez’s case, that might prove to be literally the case, as no-one wants to pay all the misfiring Chilean’s ludicrous wages. Ludicrous wages agreed to by SuperTed, the transfer genius, of course. One does wonder what sort of cockamamie equations they teach them on physics courses these days. Perhaps Ed was a quantum specialist, where seemingly impossible things happen all the time, as once famously befuddled even Einstein. It passeth all understanding, as does Woodward’s continued expensive employment.
Off to Southampton next, the club that beat then-Third Division Palace in the 1976 Cup semi-final. If only we’d played Big Malc’s side at Wembley that year instead of Bobby ‘Offside’ Stokes’ crew. Then again, with Palace’s record of causing us mither, maybe we got off lightly...