Manchester United: Where do we start?
We sat down with Hesham Bilal Hafiz (@hesham786) to discuss all things Manchester United...
So firstly, what did you make of the West Ham game this past Sunday?
Hesham: Didn’t watch it live but from the full highlights I’ve watched it was abysmal. Midfield was as stale as it looked on paper, I knew that we couldn’t run with the same luck we had v Leicester. We played poor then too and got away with it with the same side. Rashford’s recent diabolical run up front is a big issue now that Ole has put so much faith in him.
It’s only 6 games in but there already seems to be alarm bells ringing at the club. Where do you see United’s season heading?
Hesham: Said this early but it does genuinely rely on luck. Ole's gambled with kids as our squad depth by selling attackers and midfielders with no replacements bar Dan James. If we get lucky with injuries (which doesn’t seem to be the case as of now), Top 4 is a long shot but a possibility if the players can get used to breaking down low block sides. Against the Top 6 sides they’ll probably be best actually because they play on the counter well. If Pogba and Martial get any more serious injuries, this could easily be a 10th by Christmas scenario. The teams below are seriously confident about overtaking us.
There have been a few fixed reviews regarding Ole. United today released record revenues today amongst other things. How much of the current problems are down to the manager? If any?
Hesham: The problem is definitely not solely the manager. The problem does indeed start with the Glazers and Ed. They care about the commercial element of the club over the footballing side, it’s embarrassing that a competent football director to put that direction in the hands of someone capable has not been made yet. I think every other PL club one. That would solve transfer woes massively and give the manager proper football men in the highest positions. Ole of course has shown some naivety though. Constantly trusting Mata and Matic over the youth he promised looks quite cowardly from afar especially from his earlier promises. Whoever’s idea the English-only recruiting was is also silly, there are players outside this country in Europe who have dominated but are still young for instance Aouar, Ndombele, Havertz, Felix etc.
What can Ole and United do from now until the end of season? The Glazers and Woodward don’t appear to be heading anywhere at the moment. So what can Ole do to salvage this season? RE Woodward and co: Any words on today’s investors call? Woodward appeared to suggest the club’s requirement model is ‘correct’
Hesham: He’s got to trust the kids. Lampard despite his tactical naivety at least has shown faith in the young players over experience and fans of a club can get behind that. Ole's got to be flexible and overlook old trusted heads and develop methods to beat lesser sides, maybe trying Pogba at no.10 again. If the model isn't correct, the club are severely handicapped until the hierarchy changes. The club can’t go anywhere without a sporting director. If he means buying young players with potential sure we can get behind that, provided it’s not a British-only recruitment policy.
There has been talks of a new contract for Paul Pogba. Right move? And do you believe he will sign?
Hesham: Would be a pure miracle if he does sign one with the intention of actually staying. If he does renew, I’ll still be hesitant it could just a temporary pay rise similar to how Coutinho and Bale left.I don’t think he will sign personally, he gave the club a chance to buy world class players around him and he’s still playing with the same mediocrity in midfield every week.
On new deals, what did you make of the De Gea deal? Right call?
Hesham: Yeah 100% the right call. Think we can’t do much better than him. Hopefully the last year was just a slump in form, his game v Leicester showed that he’s still world class when the focus is there.
What’s your thoughts on Marcus Rashford at this moment in time? Seems to be struggling for form and is seemingly losing the support of the fans? Is he truly United’s future?
Hesham: I think the big contract has come too soon and it’s gone to his head. Now he needs to be taken down a peg and needs to be dropped for a few games by Greenwood so he knows he’s not untouchable, that will make him up his game, real competition can scare anyone. This year is his chance to prove he’s the future or not, if he doesn’t get 20 goals this year, think it’s then time to no longer consider him a starter for future years.
Do you believe selling Lukaku and Sanchez has now proven to be the wrong decision?
Hesham: Nope both sales were 100% reasonable. The problem is more down to the fact no replacements were signed, that’s what leaves us light in depth and quality. Lukaku was still a goal scorer regardless of how ugly he was to watch at times.
Finally then, do you believe United will make the top four?
Hesham: No, not for me. The squad is far too thin. Think it’ll take Top 4 to get out of sight before Ole’s naivety makes a turn for the better too. Could be an early exit for him irrespective of public backing.
If Ole misses top four, do you believe he will keep his job?
Hesham:Depends how bad the damage is.If it’s a near miss he will stay. If we are miles off, then he could be a goner.