Sunday, July 09, 2017

Out with the old and in with the new...

It's been quite some time since the old blog last fired up; over three years actually. I haven't been in prison, honestly, but at times watching United during that time has felt like serious hard labour. Unlike going to gaol your sentence doesn't eventually come to an end when you're a lifelong follower of the world's greatest and the 'biggest football club'; United like to call themselves that don't they? Or should that be 'we say'?

So much water has passed under the United bridge, so much that I'm not going to try to cover it... because it would take me 3 years. Instead, we look forward to the future. From now on it will be Manchester United and Jose Mourinho 2.0 (two point O).

Like many rabid United fans, I was satisfied with United ending the season with 3 'trophies' - boy did we make hard work of it though? But that's the United way, isn't it? It pretty much always has been. Sure, we enjoyed some great spells under Fergie, when he was the Laird of Old Trafford and the Premier League. So yes, we have pretty much owned the PL at times. Alas, no more.

So what can we look forward to sans Wayne Rooney (more on him shortly) and new striker Romelu Lukaku? For starters, plenty of goals one hopes. Far be it for me to kick a man when he's down, (my name isn't Alan Shearer), but if one man cost United automatic Champions League qualification for next season (via our league position), it was Manchester United's top goal scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic because by common consensus he should have scored a lot more goals.

Zlatan is of course out injured and with no contract offer on the table, his United career might be over, but then maybe not as the latest news suggests the club might offer him a short-term deal in January if he regains full fitness. And this blog thinks that's a good idea.

When news of Lukaku's transfer broke, I was a bit surprised, because I was thinking that United were going to sign Morata from Real Madrid; a player who I think would have been almost the perfect choice. When I use the term 'perfect choice' there are some questions about Morata's goal scoring ability. But Morata is very good at finding space and bringing others into play which is exactly what you need in a 451 system or in any variant of. Jose Mourinho is a 451 man; he rarely plays two out and out strikers - not unless he's chasing the game.

When it comes to goal scoring, Lukaku has a very good record and his shot conversion rate is higher than any of the recent United striker options. So, hopefully, United's failures in front of goal will be a thing of the past. It's the rest of Lukaku's game that might be a cause for concern. To that end I read an interesting critique on the Everton striker, it was written by a long standing Evertonian, who went on to write that the Belgian striker divides opinion among the Goodison Park faithful (always a worry IMO), and in his opinion there's a 70/30 split (with 70% being in favour). The author of this piece was and is a Lukaku fan. And while he valued the player's goal scoring ability, he raised some serious questions about his ability to control the ball and not lose it; his ability to cast off the shackles of a tight marking counter attacking team and in such games he can be totally anonymous. Nor is Lukaku good at creating his own space to shoot. These are not my views, but the views of a fan who has watched Everton from the Goodison Park stands for over 20 years. Granted they are the views of just one fan, but he's a Lukaku fan. So to me at least it made for an interesting read and I look forward to seeing how Lukaku does under the glare of the Manchester United spotlight.

As I write this blog post, Wayne Rooney is on the verge of what will be an emotional return to his boyhood club. Everton are the team he has always supported, he joined the Merseyside club as a youngster and went on to achieve so much for the Toffees and then so much more with Manchester United. I wish him well. He has served United and Everton well, I just hope he doesn't come back to haunt us in future United vs. Everton games.

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