In his regular column Wayne Farry looks at a philosophy prevailed, a City in crisis, and an ever-improving win ratio.
We start off this week’s Farry Report at Old Trafford where, late yesterday afternoon, Manchester United dismantled Spurs in a manner befitting Manchester United circa 2008. To say this result was unexpected would be an understatement – the tone among United fans in the lead up to the match suggested that they felt their club might never win any game again, never mind this one – meandering aimlessly through the footballing desert for 40 years occasionally glimpsing oases of victory, but painfully coming up dry. But win they did, and in style. United came out of the blocks with such vim and vigour that hyperbole must be resisted when evaluating the game and the performance. Has Louis van Gaal’s philosophy finally come to pass? Were the scriptures accurate? Finally, winter is over, 10 long years of summer again!!! Not quite all that, but this was a different United to the one seen since pre-season. There was purpose, tempo, accuracy and confidence – things majorly lacking throughout the season up to now. Wayne Rooney appeared to have recovered from his brain injury to get involved regularly in play and actually run at defenders (!!!!) while Daley Blind was a picture of serenity and confidence at left back. Even Chris Smalling, a man usually with about as much composure as a shaken up bottle of Coke, was impressive as he strode out of defence on occasion. Some will of course say, “But it’s Spurs. Shit Spurs, Old Trafford, blah, c’mon.” Fair point, but this Spurs side were unbeaten in three against United coming into this game and would have seriously fancied their chances yesterday. But United prevailed, and in doing so strengthened their claim on the Premier League Fourth Place Trophy. United fans will be delighted, for the performance as much as the result, but up next are Liverpool away. If van Gaal’s philosophy is to really take hold and inspire, there’s no better place to continue that then with a victory at Anfield. Just maybe hire someone to knock out Rooney a few days beforehand, it seemed to do the job this week.
From one end of Manchester to the other where things are bluer than they have been for most of the season. Where do you start with City really? Just when you think they’ve overcome an obstacle they go and create a new one for themselves. They lost 1-0 to Burnley on Saturday and while they were denied a clear penalty at the death, the simple fact is that a team made up of players of such quality like City should be capable of disposing of Burnley with minimal effort. Sadly for fans though there wasn’t even minimal effort, and that’s been the case for the majority of the season. Pellegrini has invested poorly, especially in midfield and defence, recently but City’s squad should be capable of providing more competition to Chelsea than this. It’s difficult to explain, or try to, but it appears that both he and his players just don’t really care all that much. Pellegrini is a fantastic manager, as he’s proved in the past, but is he more comfortable with the underdog, without the millions and millions to spend which he has at City. That may be simplistic but his most successful spells when you take everything into account have been with Villarreal and Malaga. He was incredibly unlucky at Madrid and has won the league at City but their play has been so laboured and stifled, and the players so visibly not concerned that it’s really hard to see a better outcome for both parties than him leaving at the end of the season. Even with him gone though, City have major problems to address. They have the oldest squad in the league with an average age of 28.8 which frankly, given the amounts at their disposal, is just astonishing. They have a relatively small squad too. So that’s just a new manager, new players and a change in mentality needed during the summer. No problem.
I, like many people, like to think I’m right most of the time, but I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong. I think it’s a healthy aspect of human personality. It helps us grow and learn as people. So it’s with a gritted tooth smile that I must admit that I was wrong about Tim Sherwood, and so were all of you. Or at least we appear to be right now. The target of much derision and hilarious Vines after his appointment and subsequent press conferences, Sherwood has nonetheless gotten more out of this Aston Villa team than Paul Lambert managed since the start of the season. I don’t want to admit though that Sherwood is a good manager, because then what does that mean? It essentially knocks all of our football worlds upside down. If he is good, with his clichés, back pats, geezer smile and lost, desolate eyes, what does that make Pep Guardiola? Are triangles even a thing? Did we imagine it all? Are Bayern even that good of a side or are we seeing it through the eyes of those not yet educated sufficiently to Sherwoodism? I’m not sure, maybe there is space on this spinning piece of rock and water for both kinds of managerial “styles”, maybe none of us know half as much about football as we thought. Maybe Tim is the future. After all, 59% really isn’t a bad win percentage.