It’s December, so the matches are flying fast and furious now. After Sunday’s fun, it’s a trip up north for Arsenal to take on Manchester United today in search of a 20th consecutive game without a loss.
Before today’s festivities, I chatted with Brent Maximin of The Busby Babe to get his thoughts on Jose Mourinho, Manchester United’s top four chances, and a bunch of other stuff. I answered his questions too, and here’s what I had to say.
TSF: Answering questions about Jose Mourinho when you’d rather be talking about the soccer: exhausting or dispiriting?
TBB: Yes. Mourinho is a dementor. A joyless hasbeen of a manager who makes everything United-related - watching games, thinking about games, reading about games, writing about games - a long descent into hell.
TSF: Here’s a question about Jose Mourinho. Is his welcome fully worn out, or is there still value in his employment?
TBB: He should have been hired back in 2013 when he may have still been good, or sacked at the end of last season. When he’s at his best (shithousing his way to wins in big games), there are some signs there of the lovable brilliant bastard he used to be. But those instances are few and far between. He hasn’t stopped moaning since the summer, and it’s made the players and the fans alike miserable.
He accepts no responsibility for the state of the team, despite being given money to spend (even if you could make a case that he hasn’t been given enough) and time to implement his methods. The players have to take their fair share of the blame - and god knows there are bigger problems at United that are above Mourinho’s pay grade - but he is the most obvious problem, and arguably the simplest one to solve. At the end of the day, no one is enjoying the football on display, Mourinho hates...well...everything, and everyone can agree that the team is less than the sum of its parts. Sack him and get it over with.
TSF: Of your highly-paid players, who has been most worth the investment? Least worth it?
TBB: David de Gea isn’t United’s highest earner (even though he’s in the top 5 on about £200K/week), but he should be. If recent reports are to be believed, United will have to make him the club’s best paid player if they want to keep him. Which they should, without question. He’s not only our best player, but he’s arguably the only unquestionable world class player at the club in the last 4-5 years.
On the other side of the coin is our actual highest paid player. Alexis Sánchez is broken. You sold us a defective product. I don’t even want Mkhi back. I don’t want store credit. I just want this useless trinket out of the house. Alexis at United is proof that just because a transfer is very, very funny (how I laughed and laughed!), doesn’t make it a good idea. Mourinho has made almost everyone worse, to be fair, but Alexis has been rancid. He looks lost and unhappy.
TSF: Manchester United are eight points off the top four, with the “festive period” rapidly approaching. Do you feel that the holiday fixtures are a make-or-break for United’s Top Four Trophy hopes?
TBB: If Mourinho is still in a job come the festive period, we’ll be looking at a top ten finish at best. If the parasite owners and the incompetent vice-chairman do the right thing and fire him before then, top four should be perfectly achievable by January.
TSF: It took a two goal comeback for United to earn a point at Southampton this past weekend. Did that feel like a point earned or two points lost?
Two points lost. Southampton are awful. But United are so hopeless that failing to beat us cost Sparky his job.
TSF: How much has each of Alexis’ goals in 2018 cost Manchester United? Please show your work.
TBB: I genuinely couldn’t care less about the money. It’s not ours, and we learned a long time ago that the Glazers spending or not spending on transfers and wages has zero impact on what they give back to the fans. Watching Alexis running into one dead end after another on the pitch though, is slowly costing me my will to live.
TSF: Do you expect a lot of squad rotation given the short rest after the weekend?
TBB: According to one report, there is a good chance that the only senior central defender that will be available on Wednesday will be Marcos Rojo, who hasn’t played in several months. Sánchez, Rashford, Lukaku, Bailly, Lindelöf, Smalling, Shaw, Valencia, and Jones are either definitely injured or not fully fit. Young is suspended. Matić - who is slower than wind erosion and has the turning circle of a tectonic plate - is sure to start at center back. Our two best outfield players - Pogba and Martial - may well be on the bench because Mourinho despises the former and still doesn’t trust the latter. I have no idea who will start.
TSF: For Arsenal to beat Manchester United, they must (blank)
TBB: Play to their strengths. Limit Paul Pogba from joining the attack (if he plays), tire and frustrate Martial by keeping him busy tracking his full-back (if he plays), and isolate the makeshift center backs in one-on-one situations against your pacey forwards.
TSF: Finally, care to give a score prediction?
TBB: 1-0 United. Mourinho scabs a win with 25% possession, playing McTominay and Matić in defense and Fellaini up front. Keeps himself in the job long enough to do maximum damage over the festive period, and also hurts Arsenal’s title chances, which makes it more likely that either City or Liverpool will win the league. DOOM.
Thanks to Brent and The Busby Babe for taking the time to chat!