I don’t think it came as any great shock that we would fall to defeat at Swansea. Gary Monk has established a very well-balanced team which plays good football and so far as I can see despite having its talent taken from it on a regular basis just seems to get stronger. Given the heights that we have seen our club attain, even in the last fifteen years, suggesting we could do well to follow Swansea’s lead may appear galling to some but the facts are the Welsh side is extremely well-run on and off the park. Are we? I’ll take some convincing.
I’m not sure what we might have achieved with eleven players finishing the game but I do know this – Daryl Janmaat behaved appallingly as a professional on Saturday letting his manager, team-mates and an excellent away following down into the process. It’s not the first time but it should be the last because despite becoming one of our best players, the Dutchman could quickly turn into a liability should he not improve his discipline. Maybe if there was the threat of him losing his place in the starting eleven Daryl might be more predisposed to behaving more professionally but as you know and I do, as soon as he serves any suspension, he’ll be straight back into the side.
Another defeat, another two goals conceded and another header with Coloccini floundering. I don’t think many of us who have been watching this team for the last 2-3 years wouldn’t be able to provide a half decent analysis of our weaknesses and there’s a reason why over the summer every seasoned observer has been insisting central defence is a priority. It’s been encouraging that Mbemba has arrived and he will need time to bed in but whether it is Colo suffering from a lack of any football in the close season or a sign of the waning of his powers but he is getting nowhere near strikers in aerial positions. It’s never been a particularly strong part of his game but in these first two opening games it appears to be becoming more and more exposed.
We were well-beaten on Saturday but if there is any consolation, I honestly believe that had been Pardew or Carver in our dug-out we’d have been looking at a 4 or 5-0 job. Remember Southampton away last season? That kind of thing!
We’ve not seen much of him yet but I do know our new Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic really needs to calm down otherwise the raw passion and aggression, the lad has is going to see him spend a lot of time sitting out suspensions. At the moment, all we’ve seen is a hot-head. If the relationship United had with a certain former No.9 of this parish wasn’t so toxic after the poor treatment he received from Mike Ashley, I’d have thought having Alan Shearer act as a mentor to the ex-Anderlecht man might have had some mileage. Alan Shearer was certainly no shrinking violet and knew how to look after himself but daft, pointless bookings wasn’t his thing and I think our new lad (who obviously wants to show his commitment to the shirt and that’s no bad thing) could benefit from the Lion of Gosforth’s advice. Just a thought!
As today stands The Chronicle has us out of the race for Charlie Austin because of QPR’s crazy insistence for £15m for a player in the last year of his contract. There has also been some talk about concerns about his injuries but frankly, he’s no more or less fit than when last season ended. There are some who might claim the whole Austin transfer story has been got up by the press to maintain newspaper sales or more accurately clicks on websites but that’s way off mark. United has been after him and although I’d never claim to be an investigative football journalist, I’ve heard enough about the lines between agents, betting exchanges and house-hunting to know United have been on the case all summer. Whether £15m is too much or not, I don’t know but it’s another gamble with a season were we attempt to go through another season with Cisse, De Jong, Perez and Mitrovic. We need far more than that. Whoever is leading the recruitment business at United (I know it isn’t any risible football board with Bob Moncur on it) needs to get their arses into gear and make the three remaining required to ensure United has anything like a decent season as others around us have invested as well. When Stoke City are signing players for £12m from Inter Milan you know something is happening in the game. With all due respect to Stoke City!
In my opinion we really need a proven goal-scorer and Austin would fit the bill. I’d love a central defender with a bit of aggression and intelligence but who has some PL experience. I used to dream of seeing Tony Adams in a United shirt but now I’d be content with a Ryan Shawcross or someone of his ilk. These are key positions that need to be filled. On the strength of two games I’d also like to see the club decide to really replace Jose Enrique but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Clearly, we need some creativity in wide positions and whether that’s going to be Thauvin I don’t know but his is the name that appears to be continually repeated. The chatter seems to be about Cabella going the other way and the mood music is that he’s not happy at United. I’d suggest he’s not happy in the Premier League where he appears physically inadequate for its intensity.
We are doing to the last couple of weeks in the window. We might have spent a lot more than we normally do but we’ve still not got enough players of sufficient quality to achieve Ashley’s arget of a top eight and a good go at the Cups.
I must confess I groaned at the news pre-KO that De Jong was missing again through injury. I really do wonder what we’ve bought with this lad. It may be only a knock but Siem has barely muddied his boots for us and many more injuries and we really have to start questioning the judgement of those who decided to bring him to SJP. He was hardly the ever-present at Ajax.
So, there were John Carver and Steve Stone on the SKY Sports sofas on Sunday morning talking but not saying very much. I dislike these frothy interviews intensely. Everybody wants to be someone’s mate and there is nothing beyond the most banal and predictable of questioning as out of work coaches put themselves in a shop window. Carver and Stone are never going to say anything remotely revealing. I’m going to take a wild stab at it and suggest the pay-offs from United they have received will come with all kinds of strings attached and I’m guessing part of the deal with their dough will be the requirement to keep schtum. They won’t be the first to have received a big cheque from United and in return kept their flaps shut. Some of it is quite comical when they pitch to be taken seriously for their ethics.
A couple of questions about their part in Jonas’ treatment at United and the worrying lack of sharpness referred to at Coventry and Cardiff for Armstrong and Ameobi respectively, not to mention the hapless tour of the USA Carver/Stone apparently arranged might have been interesting. Ho-Hum, chummy, chummy banter!
And off we go to Old Trafford this Saturday for a high noon appointment with fear, sorry, I mean Man U. I resisted overtures from our online merchandising operation to do a line in true faith blindfolds but I think this is one I imagine I’ll be watching through my fingers. I’d love to be proven wrong as there’s nothing better than pricking this lot’s bubble but predicting anything other than a comfortable win for the darlings of Devon just seems irrational. A good performance of sorts might not be too destructive.
Then we got Northampton in the League Cup. And it’s at home. Bloody hell!
Edging closer to the departure lounge are Mehdi Abeid and Haris Vuckic. Its disappointing neither had made it but its highly likely both will move to inferior leagues abroad. In Vuckic’s case he’ll go to Rangers in whatever league they play in now and you have to wonder where its gone wrong for these two lads. In any event, I wish them well.
Hopefully, we’ll have some new soon about the new website. We think you’ll like it. We decided we’d rather get it right than get it early so we’ll unleash it upon you when it’s bang-on.
We think you’ll like our match-day newsletter The Special. We’ll have it out again on Saturday morning as some of us head for Man Utd and others for the tell. Just click here to get signed up.
If you fancy it, have a look at our online shop. We’re adding new items all the time. Our intention is to provide items which will resonate with you and say something about our support, the region we all come from and our identity.
We are doing a t-shirt in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the new design features the great man’s famous quote … “what is a club … “
We’d love to raise £1000 through the t-shirts by the end of the season because this is a charity that does fantastic work and is based in our region. If you choose to support our efforts, than you very much.
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Keep On, Keepin’ On …