I couldn’t post yesterday in the end, so much of below I wrote yesterday morning. That, though, was before the hurricane of drama was Louis van Gaal handing out a few bits of paper.
OK, so the whole thing was fairly daft, exemplified by the priceless expression of United’s press officer who wore the face of a mother handing her demanding son’s drawings to his grandfather. I’m convinced, though, that there was an element of humour from van Gaal with the whole thing, not least calling Allardyce “Big Sam” the entire time.
The way I see it is that on the one hand, yes, it’s faintly ludicrous that he listened to Allardyce, got annoyed and then instructed his backroom staff, whose time could probably best be spent making United a better football team, to draw up some avant-garde arrow based artwork that would upset Michael Cox. On the other hand it was all done in good humour – something that seems to have been ignored because it doesn’t fir the narrative of van Gaal being a bastard – and was vastly more entertaining than say, Nigel Pearson talking about strangling James MacArthur or a lot of managers talking about anything.
This brilliant little piece giving British journalists the lowdown on how to deal with van Gaal offers some clues. One of the points is that you never really know when he’s joking. The reaction to yesterday has had at least one slightly humourless response (I’m not sure I saw van Gaal “desperately defending” anything) and whilst I like everyone else don’t like the football we’re playing at the moment, I’ve got no problem at all with van Gaal taking exception to one of the most irritating and tasteless characters in the game.
Meanwhile on Monday van Gaal was given a week’s extension to respond to the increasingly paranoid and irritable FA that he brought the game into disrepute by questioning the integrity of Chris Foy after the 0-0 draw with Cambridge.
Other the whole thing being a complete waste of time and money – surely a simple reprimand or similar would suffice – it seems a little odd that United would request any more time in order to say what will presumably by the court version of ‘you’re talking a load of old s***’. Van Gaal, dished out the classic annoyed-parent line last week:
“I am not angry. I am very disappointed. I am now for nearly 30 years a trainer-coach or manager and I have never been charged. And still, up to now, I don’t think that I said something wrong.”
I imagine United’s lawyers, on hearing that they were needed, reacted a bit like the lawyer in the Simpsons who gets excited when Apu’s wife, who’s getting a divorce from her husband (otherwise the worst episode ever), asks him if her eight children will affect the proceedings.
Anyway, while the suits figure out the best way to get their client off these trumped-up charges, West Ham defender James Tompkins has come out and said exactly what everyone knows to be the case: that Robin van Persie checked the exact position of his nose before oops-sorry-I-didn’t-see-you-thereing him in right in the face.
Van Persie was ludicrously lucky not to get even a yellow for that, and his swaggering “AND WHAT!” body language afterwards told the story that it was blatantly on purpose. It seems faintly ludicrous how van Persie cannot be charged for that because Clattenburg saw it and let him off, but van Gaal gets charged for having a bit of a moan.
Presumably that means that if Louis van Gaal elbowed Richard Money in the dugout, and the fourth official told him to cool down a little, he wouldn’t be charged for it. Physical assault? No. Referee was against us? You’re a disgrace.
In other news, footballers are still boorish, bovine clowns, as demonstrated by the story nwo doing the rounds about an unnamed United player ‘receiving a sex act’ in a toilet cubicle of a nightclub (God I hate that phrase. ‘Hello, would you like a sex act? Ooh yes please’) and having it filmed on the phones of his infantile teammates.
A “source” (this isn’t f***king Watergate, now, is it) allegedly told The Sun: “They were in the toilets with the doors closed, but other players were filming over the top of the door. It’s disgusting behaviour.The girl has also been told there was someone filming from underneath.”
From underneath?! So a United player, desperate to get a shot of this golden footage, actually lay down on a nightclub toilet floor.
There’s a loyalty that you feel to your club as a supporter which instinctively leads you to believe that your club is, hopefully at least, a little different to others. I can’t say I had our squad down as a group of players who go in for that stuff, but it brings you right back down to earth to realise that a lot of these guys that we hold in such reverence don’t have two brain cells to rub together on a cold day.
You could try to do some deductive work on who it was, by looking at who’s got wives and girlfriends, but then of course you realise that wouldn’t matter in the least, probably. In the end it’s all deeply depressing, frankly, and if the players in question get caught by van Gaal I wouldn’t bet against a steep punishment.
Right, so back to actual football. It’s Burnley tonight at home, a fixture that’s quite well timed for us. Burnley limply surrendered a 2-0 lead to West Brom on the weekend, so are there for the taking even though we will have to keep a close eye on Danny Ings who scored a terrific headed goal in that game.
Speaking to the official website Phil Jones said (in addition to other things that were incredibly boring):
“The manager said in the dressing room after the game that he couldn’t fault our spirit. If we had shown that more in the first half then we might have come away with a victory. But we need to address and evaluate this game. Then we will move on to the Burnley game.”
The key there is the ‘first half’ comment. The players absolutely have to perform with more urgency and cohesion than they did in the first 45 minutes against West Ham. And we need to hop to it because we’re now 5th in the league.
Last time I predicted that Fellaini and Wilson would start against West Ham which they did not. So in light of that it seems fairly obvious that van Gaal will now name an unchanged side.
He’s going to change everything, isn’t he?
That’ll do for now. I’m almost certainly not going to be home in time to do a match report but there’ll be some reaction tomorrow at the very least.