Mazuma Stadium

Carabao Cup, 4th Round

Wednesday 23rd September ‘20 @ 7.45pm

No ‘live’ TV coverage

After a particularly damning ‘SKY Surrender Sunday,’ Steve Naïve takes his charges to the humble surroundings of Morecambe by the sea this Wednesday, for Round four of the Carabao Cup.

Our hosts currently ply their trade in League Two and have had a similar start to their more illustrious visitors. After a morale boosting late 2-1 win at Cheltenham on the opening day, they got absolutely battered 5-0 at home to Cambridge United on their second outing. Sandwiched between these league fixtures was a 1-0 home win in the League Cup vs Oldham, courtesy of midfielder, Aaron Wildig.

We have a bit of recent history with the Lancashire side, having met them at their place at a similar stage in the (then named) Capital One Cup in 2013. On that care free plague-less evening, United ran out 2-0 winners with late goals from the Brothers Grim (I mean, Ameobi) having been second best for large periods of the match. These were the dark days of Pardiola; but with a tactician like the current incumbent, I’m sure this time around, it’ll be a much more of a stroll in the park (cough).

United travel to the North West having made proper arses of themselves on Sunday. We knew that Brighton would attempt to press and pass us to death. I mean, that’s what they did at St James’ last season; only their profligacy in front of goal allowing us to spawn a point, that day.

So, what does Bruce do this time? ‘Ah well, y’know, Andy had a mint game last week. I just couldn’t drop him etc etc.’ Look pal, this isn’t a Sunday League team you’re running. You don’t go 4-4-2 versus this lot. Surely, last season must have shown you that? You can’t keep the same formation as last week, just so you can include your mate.

Ok, we know Steve’s not exactly a student of the game, but my second major gripe is: attitude. I suspected from the off, we looked in bother. When the ball went immediately back to Fede, and he fucked on with it, before losing it cheaply you could see our visitors were at it, whilst we were (at fucking best) going through the motions. About 60 seconds later they had a pen; and it already felt like ‘game over.’

I said last week, I’m happy to give praise, when warranted, but the boot is squarely on the other foot this time around. No one came away from Sunday with their heads held high, but where are our senior players when the chips are down? Shelvey? Our alleged captain, Lascelles? Strolling around, looking pissed off, twisting at the ref and getting booked for stupid challenges ain’t leadership. It’s the very opposite of that, lads. So, again we cast our eyes again towards the manager. As a player, he was your archetypal 100%-er; a proper ‘heart on your sleeve’ type of centre back. You’d have thought that such a disgraceful show of lethargy would be a piss boiling anathema to him? Or is he just happy with the easy life, here? A pint in The County, walking his dogs on the Town Moor. Ah, this is canny.

Put it this way, Steve the player would’ve been a nano second behind his puce snecked, Scottish manager in reading a half time riot act at such abject surrender. And it wouldn’t have been pretty. What about Steve the Manager? I’d be completely embarrassed if I was him following this Brighton debacle. After over a thousand matches doing the same job (below averagely), and more money than God, does he even give a fuck anymore? Well, I’m only one punter, but I’m suspecting not.

Going back to this Wednesday; if we play anything like last last week v Blackburn, we’ll struggle. If we enter the field of play with the same lack of idea, plan and mindset as Sunday, I think anyone could beat us. Including, someone nicknamed ‘The Shrimps.’

He’ll make a load of changes and I’d imagine we’ll bumble our way through. But, to be honest, we ain’t gonna win anything with this owner / manager combo. However, it’d just add to our embarrassment if we went out here, so I’d rather we progressed. This season, like many under Ashley, is merely about survival. Plain and simple.

Nick Clark