What now Erik….?

Published: Monday, 30 October 2023

Ok. When I called him Erik ten Months it was a little bit harsh, but it was an obvious one wasn’t it? And after the weekend capitulation to City - by far the worst PL derby performance by any Utd team - I might not be too far out.

I haven’t got anything else to add about the derby. It seems as though everybody has now caught up with what I’ve been saying for months so what’s the point?

The only question left is how long has ten Hag got?

He hasn’t presided over a mess that he inherited as some claim - he’s created one. £410m spent on bang ordinary players - most of whom can’t even get in his starting line-up. It’s a shambles. ‘Hojland might turn out to be a good player’ I can hear you saying. I agree - but for £70m he needs to be a good player now. Utd can’t afford to wait.

I said recently that Brighton wouldn’t take any of Utd’s starting X1. I stand by that. Which team would? Certainly not one of the current top four. And here’s another thought - what are the players that ten Hag has bought worth now? Antony? Mount? Onana? Casemiro? Martinez? Dubravka. Even Hojland based on what we’ve seen so far. Would anyone pay £70m for him?

Remember, last summer ten Hag spent a record busting £220m. At the time he said ‘if you want to compete at the top, you don’t have a choice’. At the top? Unless things change dramatically Utd will do well to finish 8th. If Newcastle beat them in the Carabao Cup this week ten Hag might be lucky to survive. There’s a lot of anger out there now, although the class of ‘92 continue to give him an easy ride. I don’t agree with Jamie Carragher often, but he’s right when he says the guys would‘ve destroyed Mourinho - or similar - by now.

Clearly the job is too big for ten Hag Clearly he’s lost his players. Clearly his ‘game plans’ are nonsense. Does he really believe that Utd were ‘toe to toe’ with City in the first-half? Clearly he’s deluded if he does. That was City’s easiest three points of the season. Brighton made them work harder. And Wolves. Even Sheffield Utd gave them more of a run for their money.

Regarding ten Hag’s point that you’ve got to spend record sums to make the top four. Really? Across two transfer windows Newcastle have spent a little over £200m. Two windows. Again - Ten Hag has spent £410m and taken Utd nowhere.

And then there’s Villa. Last summer they spent £55m. It was £15m the previous January. For that Emery has taken Villa from 17th to the cusp of the top four. Andy reckons they can finish there, but even if they don’t, a place in the top 6 is certainly achievable. And I’m no johnny-come-lately as far as Emery is concerned. I’ve always said he was harshly treated at Arsenal, where I think he did a terrific job. The problem was that he made himself a comedic character by keep wishing us all ‘good ebening’. That’s changed now. And he’s getting long overdue credit in our country.

Emery has been in charge of 35 league games at Villa and celebrated a full year in charge at the weekend. He’s taken an average of two points per game from those 35 matches. The only other PL managers to have done that are Fergie, Mourinho (twice) Ancelotti, Mancini, Guardiola Pellegrini and Klopp. They all went on to deliver titles of course. These are exciting times for Villa.

So it’s not so much the spend - it’s how you spend. And what sort of atmosphere a coach creates at a club. You can tell that players at Newcastle and Villa would run through brick walls for their coach. That’s not the case at Utd where the tin pot tough guy has lost his silly fight with Sancho and had to back off from his scandalous treatment of Maguire. Both battles cost him dressing room support.

His players look bored. They’ve heard the same tedious post-match routines too often and are fed up taking the blame for ten Hag’s mistakes. There’s nothing new here - these are things I’ve been saying for months. As a side issue - name me a Dutch coach that’s been a success in the PL. 🤷‍♂️.

One last thing from Sunday. Those Utd fans that thought it was clever to taunt Haaland with cries of ‘Keano’ should be ashamed of themselves.

We all know what they're referring to. Haaland isnt a fool - so does he. I’ve said before - that assault from Keane on Haaland’s dad would’ve led to charges had it been committed anywhere other than a football arena.

It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen on a football pitch - something for which Keane has never said sorry for. In fact, he stands by it.

This is what he said in his book remember ‘I’d waited long enough. I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think) Take that you cunt’. Nice.

In the eyes of some Utd punters this is all part of the Keane ‘brand’. It elevates him to legendary status in their minds. It shouldn’t. It was an act of pure malice. The ball was nowhere near Haaland when Keane hit him. It was a disgraceful assault. Years later it would comeback haunt Utd when they wanted to sign Haaland junior.

Keane was a terrific leader at Utd and did more good than bad. The night he hauled them to a CL final in Turin, knowing he’d miss the game, he was awesome. But the Haaland incident shouldn’t be celebrated. Nor referenced in the way it was Sunday. Certainly not when the travelling City fans behaved so well during the tributes to a true Utd leader and legend - Sir Bobby Charlton, who never once disgraced his club.