(Photo, Wikimedia Commons)
A few days ago, I wrote a lengthy piece about Manchester United and its woes. I wrote of upcoming loses to Sunderland, MK Dons and Burnley.
Thinking that I was harsh, I went back and deleted MK Dons. It seemed impossible to lose to a small team, and by a score of 0-4 no less.
Of course, in retrospect, I looked prescient. When Man U loses to Burnley I will look like a genius.
That is not my goal in life. I tried to explain in previous blogs that the trouble with Man U is more than just the coach, or the need for players, or for a new CEO.
The problem lies with a club that has lost direction and does not know what to do anymore. It is the equivalent of the inmates being let out of prison and wandering around lost in the nearby village.
I guarantee you the club will lose to Burnley this weekend. It is impossible to recover from such a humiliating defeat as happened on Tuesday evening.
There’s a scene in “Hoosiers,” the movie about an unheralded basketball team playing for the state championship. The team arrives for the big moment and in practice, the coach, played by actor Gene Hackman, does something interesting – he goes to measure the hoop.
“Ten feet, boys,” he tells them.
Meaning, the basket is the same height for them as it is for the other team. In other words, the teams are equal.
In football, the goal mouth measures the same. MK Dons know it, obviously Man United does not.
The humiliation at MK Dons sent shockwaves in the Man U offices. This is like the New York Yankees losing to the Renton Bluejays.
It simply does not happen.
The rot within Man U is greater than one coach or a few new acquisitions to fix. It is a rot that starts from internal confusion and frustration at where the team heads.
The pre-season tournament in the United States hid these defects, but once the real season started, the disease could ot be covered by a band-aid.
Man U is a team struggling to right itself and this cannot happen until players decide what to do with their playing – and if they can work together as a team.
Louis van Gaal can say the following to the team: “I’m only here to be your manager. You’re the ones in charge on the field. If you want to kick this season away, that’s your privilege, but you’ll face the firing squad as much as me. You’ll be humiliated as much as me. I may be fired, but if you stay and continue in your ways, your careers will be blighted for ever. You must decide what you want to do – keep playing like children in a playground, or grown men who are hungry, driven, determined and anxious to work together as a team to make this work. I can’t help you beyond giving you strategy and telling you how to make your playing better. This is not about me. It’s about you. You decide.”
On Monday, when Burnley will gloat with victory, the music in the Man U dressing rooms will finally be faced.
Good luck, gentlemen!