The evil stats on Maguire, Man Utd in heavy decline, Solskjaer losing grip

Harry Maguire was signed to be the leader in the Manchester United defense and he has not yet convinced the fans of the club that he is worth £80million. What a fee to pay for a player that has experienced three relegations with Hull City and Wigan Athletic, been playing under seven managers in the passed four seasons and not really yet made his mark 100% at international level.

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We all know that England came close to a World Cup final with Maguire in their mid, but they failed in that Semi-final v. Croatia, and didn’t either bring home the bronze being defeated by Belgium. Not able to win against Holland in the Nations league semi’s and of course bringing home a bronze medal in a penalty shoot out against Switzerland, but in all England should win against the Swizz any day of the week.

At Leicester City both Claude Puel and Craig Shakespeare had to leave their jobs, depending on Maguire as a leader in defense, not really being able to win those key battles and run the back four with confidence and the leadership needed to be a top class defender, talking Champions League final material. That is what you pay £80million for, not a mediocre Premier League defender.

Maguire has “eaten” five managers in four seasons counting Steve Bruce, Mike Phelan, and Marco Silv at Hull, Craig Shakespeare and Claude Puel at Leicester City, and those stats don’t lie, and the £80million defender has never been part of a team higher than 9th in the Premier League, and struggled with relegation at Hull City and Wigan Athletic, also relegation fear at Leicester City.

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One other act to look at is that Maguire also have been in teams that are often seen losing form and going on long and poor runs during a season. And his habit of ending in relegation battles might be a scary act to look at, often being the player in those teams to be holding the leadership in defense.

Not at all a bad defender, but in real a player that has not yet managed to jump those hurdles that a top class defender needs to jump, with the demand and expectations shining through at Old Trafford.

When building a winning team at the level you like to compete and win, you need a fine mix between players previously being winning those trophies you like to get your hands on, if you don’t have that experience you have to find it, and again a few talents from your own ranks and a steady group of players that are able to play two games a week without getting injuries.

Easier said than done, but not all managers in football have the abilities of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp and to see OGS in competition with them is a bit unfair as he is not equipped to be in that league of managers. Sadly Manchester United fans are totally lost in their talk of football, as they alse were 50 years ago seeing the same scenario appearing when Sir Matt Busby left his job and as Sir Alex moved upstairs.

This is a copy tale of what happened back then and the story looks to repeat itself. Wilf McGuiness and Frank O’Farrell both failed, not winning domestic trophies, impatience and decline was not dealt with in the right way, Tommy Docherty, at that time a proven manager, took the party down to the 2nd tier.

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When Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down six years ago, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Robin Van Persie and Patrice Evra were all on the wrong scale of 30 and with Marouane Fellaini being the only summer signing, totally unexpected, and not a player that in any way could replace Scholes, who was a player that never got replaced.

Manchester United were always a 4-4-2 team under Sir Alex, and the partnership up front was a very vital part of that formation. It’s a pattern that we seldom see in today’s game with teams adapting to other styles and in the last six season no one has won the Premier League playing 4-4-2 anymore.

Leicester City, Manchester City and Chelsea are the winners since 2012-13, and they are performing totally different and the same to be said about Liverpool, but it’s really not the system in itself that counts, the players are.

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Jose Mourinho demanded money to be able to build, but with fans turning against his buys Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, and also against him, after taking the team to an FA Cup final and ending runners-up in the league, winning away against Juventus you start to think, are they all insane and totally left out of reality.

We have seen major clubs like Manchester City, Leeds United and Blackburn Rovers being relegated to League One level, something we thought was impossible, and when you see what type of players Manchester United are linked with at the moment you get scared seeing Mandzukic and Maddison being lined up, both are so far behind Lukaku, Sanchez and Pogba in ability, so you start to get scared. Maddison has not yet made his England debut, needs at least 40 caps before being on a level close to Pogba, so we just have to wait and see.

OGS is flirting with different systems and to mix that with changes in a line-up is like going to war with yourself. He is acting as a novice at the moment. if you have players dominant as he had at Molde you can do this, but with a team full of reserves and youngsters it’s a failing project.

Stay thru to your system, slot in players when you get injuries, don’t move your best players around. If you do as OGS has done now, you start thinking is this really Manchester United and how can anyone be allowed to destroy a team in this way. We just have to wait and see what happens, but this is not going forward in the best way possible, despite Man Utd still being in all competitions going forward.

The forgotten Kidd on the block, vital in both camps, Manchester United and Manchester City

Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guaridola, Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini all are seen as great managers, but to be great you need some assistance, and few have been better in that role than Brian Kidd.

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Eric Harrison got most of the credit for the class of 92, and full credit to him. Sir Alex has been given the praise for how he nursed forward the likes of Gary and Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham, but few have talked about Brian Kidd’s importance, back in those early PL winning days at Manchester United.

To neglect the fact that Brian Kidd was alongside Sir Alex Ferguson as his assistant manager at Manchester United from 1991 to 1997 is like telling a lie, and before that being in charge of youth development at Old Trafford, going as far back 1988.

Brian Kidd was, to the dislike of Sir Alex, tempted to become Mr. 1 at Blackburn Rovers, and jumped at the chance to be the main man at Ewood Park. A club at the time seen as a title chaser, but in decline, needed to get back to their winning ways with Kidd seen as the ideal man, but he didn’t last long getting the sack a year later.

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Kidd then had spells as an assistant and coach at several places, being seen assisting people like David O’Leary at Leeds United, Sven Göran Eriksson for England and Harry Redknapp with Portsmouth, he also had a brief spell at Bramall Lane with Sheffield United before moving to Manchester City in 2009.

He started to work with the youth players at Manchester City as he had done at Manchester United almost 20 years earlier, moving up the ladder and seen as part of the management team when the first Premier League trophy was won with Roberto Mancini in charge.

Brian Kidd has been the real “continuity” at Etihad while managers have travelled, he has been the one “bridging” it all together. Kidd was on the block during the years of Manuel Pellegrini  and brought on with Pep Guardiola, said to given more importance in the build up to that first title winning season under Pep, after the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss had struggled in his first season in charge.

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So far Brian Kidd’s role at Manchester City has seen him lifting four Premier League titles, and of course several EFL Cup wins and FA Cup trophies being part of his collection. His three years at Leeds United faulted with a semi-final in the Champions League, so he has been close of that trophy earlier as well.

The fact that he had left Manchester United when they lifted the Champions League trophies and missing out on that title while at Leeds United, makes it probably a big goal to still be part of the plans at Man City when they this season will make a serious attempt to bring that Champions League trophy to Etihad and fulfill an amazing collection of trophies, though having an European Cup winners medal from his playing days at Manchester United can of course be of comfort.

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Brian Kidd had a respectable career as a player, scoring goals on demand for Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton in the top flight of English football. He also had a spell in the NASL with Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Atlanta Chiefs, being seen as one of that leagues best players during his days “over the pond”.

He scored a goal in that “iconic” 1968 European Cup final v. Benfica, actually happening on his 19th birthday, seen as a real “Busby Babe” born i Manchester and being there alongside Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law, actually being Law’s replacement in the final as the great Scot missed out.

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Brian Kidd made the full circle when he returned to Manchester United and building that great bridge between the era of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson being vital for both men in his player and assistant manager role.

Going more than 50 years back in time and in all those years being involved in the game getting his ideas through to some of the greatest managers in the modern game is quite unique. The amazing paths of Brian Kidd is not be faulted and might or should be given more credit as some of the greatest managers in English football made their success with Kidd as their assistant, so all in all you can say that it was all up to that Englishman to give the advice that won them all those titles.

The most fascinating in this story is the fact that he has been coaching and playing for Manchester United, Manchester City and England, and that he in a sense has made the English coaching story a bit brighter as most experts describes those foreign managers as influential, but as they have come and gone, Brian Kidd has been around, at least that is the case at Manchester City.

Did they ever prepare for life without Sir Alex Ferguson, looking back on his last season in charge

Sir Alex managed in a strange way to get the results needed to be the manager that no one could touch, and in his last season at the helm Man Utd stayed top of the league from November until the final day of the season.

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Despite losing on three occasions at Old Trafford and two times away, no one complained. The season was a real disaster in the Champions League losing to Real Madrid as early as in the round of 16, but winning the group stages might have been enough to convince the fans.

Manchester United had to see defeats against Chelsea both in the EFL Cup and the FA Cup at an early stage, and in a way being helped by the fact that they didn’t have much disturbance going into the finals of the league and push for the one title that counts the most.

Manchester United have two titles in the Champions League from before, and to win it again would always be bonus, but in all not really important if you are out of the race in the Premier League. Sir Alex never faulted the Premier League, he either won it or ended runners-up in his final years.

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You need to be in the Premier League title race to be a manager at Manchester United, if not you are “finished”. That is the “song” written on the wall. To see Man Utd on top in the rivalry with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, could also be enough, of course not dropping down to a 7th place as was the case for David Moyes.

Sir Alex had in his winning season a total of 50 players involved, with of 25 them appearing in Premier League action. Strangely only three players played more than 30 games, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and Robin Van Persie. To win the league with so much rotation should not be possible, but it happened. Sir Alex even switched goalkeepers seeing understudy Anders Lindegaard playing 10 games while the first choice David De Gea had the gloves in 28. To see so many players involved in that achievement was just phenomenal.

Manchester United were also far of in the race for the title, winning on 89 points, 11 points in front of runners-up neighbor Manchester City. To see Liverpool down at 7th, 28 points behind, Chelsea ending 3rd and Arsenal 4th was of course total satisfaction for the fans, looking at it all as total domination.

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The way David Moyes went about and changed “too much”, “too fast” showed how his staff made in real Manchester United into Everton, ending 22 points behind Manchester City in the next season, and in one season all those fantastic years under Sir Alex had gone into a massive “dipper” and turned the club into a Premier League fiasco.

So how could that happen over night, how could a new manager not have a plan in his drawer that would enhance the work of Sir Alex, and just continue on a path that was drawn up, but as we all could see, David Moyes turned Manchester United into a farce in no time.

It’s not easy to copy big managers and no one has really managed to do so, some managers, such as Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte and Manuel Pellegrini did it themselves, and their own errors became the reason for them being sacked at the places they had earlier made great success.

They all made the mistake of ignoring Premier League activity so much that they found themselves in great trouble, that same thing happened to Brendan Rodgers while in charge of Liverpool. You cannot neglect the most important competition at no time if you would like to survive as a manager at those top clubs, then you are “finished”.

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If you look back in time, you have never seen much of success from people coming in at clubs after a legendary manager. In the 60’s and 70’s you had a great group of of them. Bill Shankly, Bertie Mee, Bill Nicholson, Sir Alf Ramsey, Don Revie, Sir Matt Busby, Harry Potts, Harry Catterick, Stan Cullis, Lawrie McMenemy, Ron Greenwood and Joe Mercer were all legends and long term in charge of their teams,  and only Liverpool can be said to have managed to keep it running at the same level in two decades after the great Bill Shankly had left, using the method of only recruting managers internally.

So what is the key to all of this, of course not to make too many changes too fast and adding players before you get to know the once you have. When Bob Paisley took over at Liverpool in 1974, he just carried on without making any big changes at all. The clubs strategy for recruitment was the same finding talent in the lower leagues, buy them cheap and galvanize them in the reserves a few years and let them into the first team when ready.

Sir Alex never chopped and changed much, not really in the days before winning the first Premier League trophy either, slotting in new players in a relatively slow tempo, not rocking the boat more than needed. It was never a full turnover or changes just for the change.

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The Manchester United fans do accept a defeat or two, if they have been fed correctly, and given the circus they like for a while, and of course to be entertained is a key factor. No one likes to go home from Old Trafford if the team have not put in the shift they should and at the same time getting what they pay for, to see Man Utd win.

For every manager that turns up at the door at Old Trafford it will become more and more difficult, but to see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being the one turning this around, is not a picture you really believe in. Drawing up a list of 250 names, maybe more, you would not find OGS on that list a year ago. To use him as a caretaker, might have been a good idea, but to be fooled to believe that he could go all the way without any proof at all from a past in management, it’s a strange and clown acting strategy.

Manchester United going forward needs to look back at their winning formula, which had a number of key ingredients. A clear identity, a number of players that had great character and also had no other desire than to play for Manchester United, and if they pushed that button, they were sold. A boss that was ruthless and had the lead and final say, and of course the courage to make decisions few or no other would be doing.

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Sir Alex never pushed the “alarm clock” asking for unrealistic funds to buy players without knowing the value of that individual. He also had a vision and thought behind every transfer, and seldom had to buy a player to cover up for bad mistakes in the transfer market.

A problem for Sir Alex in some sense was to find the right goalkeeper, a big struggle in the early days. He managed to make three fantastic goalkeeper signings in Peter Schmeichel, David de Gea and Erwin van der Sar. The seasons before those three and the interim seasons between them became a struggle, with the likes of Les Sealey, Jim Leighton, Massimo Taibi, Marc Bosnich, Tim Howard, Roy Carroll, Fabian Barthez and Chris Turner all being involved.

The goalkeeper problem was a key reason for Sir Alex not winning the league title earlier as this uriaspost never was completely filled before the signing of Peter Schmeichel. Strangely good alternative goalkeepers weren’t found.

While the business of the club is healthier than ever the sporting life looks a bit “thin”, and a club like Manchester United cannot wait on results, that is like waving goodbye to it all as football is “here and now”. At Old Trafford fans should not wait, they should be entertained and see their team win and not find silly excuses if they are not. No fan of Manchester United should accept someone saying they should wait for good results and be patient. It’s like telling kids that this Christmas you will have to wait for presents, as they will not arrive before the next, maybe not then either, maybe sometime in the future there will be presents, but then Christmas isn’t what it should be.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer days at Manchester United looks numbered, despite the opposite said. The way forward is to find a manager that knows how to win trophies, and at the same time acts as he would be a long term alternative for the club.

 

 

 

 

 

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