I engaged ‘Likely Lads’ mode for today’s football but the report of Jose Mourinho’s demise makes it impossible. Not knowing the score doesn’t matter. Even if United win, Mourinho is getting sacked in the morning claim the ‘ever-reliable’ Daily Mirror. Their line after rivals rubbished the claim is that he’s still getting sacked despite what the club says.
The rivals got their ‘sources’ to claim he ‘retains the backing of the United board’. In doing so, they gave Mourinho a vote of confidence which, as we all know, is one step short of being given the Order of the Boot.
Is it wrong to enjoy the meltdowns and pundits going haywire? Gary Neville spoke sense in his tirade but Paul Scholes contradicted him. The Ginger Whinger is fed up with hearing Mourinho moan about what he hasn’t got. Salford City board meetings must be great with those two contradictory stances.
Neville is ‘angry’ that the board briefed a reporter that Mourinho’s getting sacked in the morning. It’s the ideal time for Ed Woodward to ‘do the dirty’ on the Portuguese. Two weeks until the next game leaves the new man time to familiarise himself with the remnants of his squad. The path of destruction woven through their minds by Mourinho will take longer to heal.
Mourinho is sitting pretty whatever the outcome. If he gets sacked, there’s a £12m present to cushion the disappointment. If not, there’s the knowledge that there is a £12m present hurtling toward him should United continue to underperform.
In all honesty, it would come as no surprise to find out it was his agent who arranged for the story to break. Machiavellian manager requires Machiavellian agent: apply within.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
Some of Neville’s points about the United hierarchy resonate with Arsenal fans. Media briefings by the CEO’s ‘office’ or ‘allies’ are always unseemly, undignified; at odds with the deportment expected of high office. It’s no different from them getting involved in office gossip around the water cooler; it’s not what you expect.
But football is an industry built on gossip. Agents do it to the detriment of clubs so why not expect clubs to engage in gossip as well. Arsenal did over the final two years of Wenger’s reign. Ivan knew he couldn’t win the battle with Kroenke’s directly so engaged with the hearts and minds of supporters. Stoking the fires along the way helped his cause; all with ‘plausible deniability’ as the spy films like to say.
We don’t play until tomorrow, as you know, and for some, that’s a reason to bemoan the fixtures. It’s too short in recovery time, you see, after a five-hour flight. That it’s only about an hour or two short of Wednesday evening to Saturday afternoon kick-offs isn’t registering. It’s not much time because English football never gives players much time to recover. ‘Twas ever thus.
Some leagues positively cooperate with big clubs, giving them Friday evening kick-offs if they play Tuesday in Europe or shifting the following fixtures to Monday’s if they play Thursday. FIFA decrees prevent that from happening this time but it must be on the Premier League horizon, surely?
The cash cow is showing the first signs of drying up though. Only overseas broadcasters saved the day in this round of television deals. Increasingly empty stadia on matchdays isn’t going to bring in more cash for the clubs via the small screen. Embracing streaming non-televised games looks increasingly the way forward.
Early Fulham Team News
The club released team news just now with Aubameyang fit for duty. He and Ramsey will, I’m sure, feature on Sunday. The latter’s situation is disappointing the squad but his own agents recently admitted, his stay at Arsenal is over.
Some say drop him, look to the future. I hope Unai Emery is more pragmatic. Use your best players while they are still available and make them aware that a dip in form will see them getting splinters in their arsenal on the bench. Or they sit on the seat with the torn padding, one of the two.
Will he leave in January? My guess is only if it suits him. This is different from the Alexis situation where it felt like he jumped ship in any direction.
Ramsey reportedly has interest from home and abroad. The latter is more likely to wait until the summer where no fee is involved. The former may choose to act swiftly to save a season. Any fee is good for Arsenal in this scenario, so holding out for £35m isn’t going to work. Someone is getting a bargain.