Paul McGrath: Man United look like a team that were assembled for a quid
Erik ten Hag needs to clear out United’s dead wood – and quickly
Everything that is wrong about Manchester United right now was summed up by the hideous green kit they wore at Brentford yesterday.
United are now just a money-making racket - and if they happen to play good football along the way, well that’s great.
If they don’t play good football, well they make money anyway.
The United Board have indulged four managers over the last nine years with £1billion of spending power in the transfer market without any coherent philosophy.
So you get the team that turned up at at Brentford yesterday.
Frankly, it looked more like the team was put together for £1million or even just a quid itself.
Like, what are United supposed to be about now.
Everyone knows that Liverpool simply don’t touch any player who is not completely clued in to Jurgen Klopp’s idea of ‘gegenpressing’.
Anyone going to Spurs knows that manager Antonio Conte will demand every drop of sweat you have.
Where is Manchester United’s equivalent? What do they stand for?
As far as I can see it is just to buy up players – Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo are three examples – to stop Manchester City grabbing them.
Last night was a complete embarrassment to Manchester United football club.
Everyone has said for years that United would win nothing with Fred and Scott McTominay as a defensive midfield partnership.
So why weren’t both replaced during the summer? Instead, last night Erik ten Hag put in Christian Eriksen.
Irish fans will remember him from the 2018 World Cup play-off, when his attacking brilliance destroyed us in Dublin.
But the great Dane is no more a defensive midfielder than I was a centre-forward.
Brentford took the ball off him for their second goal like they were taking sweets from a child.
Now before you jump at me and say men like Fabio Cannavaro and Franco Baresi were brilliant, but small, centre-halves. I know they were, but they played in Serie A, where teams didn’t throw in lots of crosses.
After last night, half the Premier League is going to be licking its chops at the idea of sending their biggest centre-forward up against 5ft 9ins Lisandro Martinez.
He was a brilliant defender for Ajax in recent season.
But again, in Dutch football, there’s no great emphasis on using the forehead of a 6ft 3ins centre-forward.
There certainly is in English football and Martinez has so much to learn – and quickly.
There has to be a fear that Ronaldo will be on the phone to his agent this morning, saying "Get me out of here, no matter what you have to do or where I go.”
Does this greatest of players want to spend what might be the last full season of his career mired in this Manchester mediocrity?
With colleagues who can’t even do the basics, who have no spirit, who don’t seem to realise the status of the club they are playing for.
Manchester United didn’t win an awful lot in my time playing there, but by God we never put in less that 100per cent on the pitch.
That was a given every time we went out on a pitch.
No doubt there will be a panic buy or two now, but panic buys are not the solution.
If I was ten Hag, I’d be going to the United board with a four-year plan tomorrow morning, outlining the players I wanted out of my dressing-room, at whatever the cost, over that time.
And I’d be giving the Board a list of the best players in the world that I want to come in during the life of that four-year plan.
It’s going to take that long, and another shed load of money to turn this around.
What the Board have to decide is whether ten Hag is the man to be entrusted with the job.
Does he know enough about English football. Because to win in England, it is not just about being good enough to beat Liverpool or Manchester City from time to time.
You must have the spirit in your soul and the passion in your heart to go out and fight against the likes of Brentford and Fulham and Southampton.
You remember the old gag, when someone would see a fabulously silky player in action for a French of Spanish club in the Champion League – “Ah, but could he do it on a wet Tuesday in Stoke?”
Well would you trust any of these Manchester United players to win at Stoke right now?
And tomorrow week night United have Liverpool at home. Dear God, watching last night’s match you would be worried about the final scoreline of that game.
But will the game be played in front of a half-empty Old Trafford?
For United supporters, unhappy with the way the Glazer family are taking money out of the club, are talking about boycotting the biggest home game of their season.
Wouldn’t it be something shocking if there were as many gaps in the stands in eight days time, as there were in the United defence last night.
But maybe that it is where it is all heading with Manchester United right now.
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