Welcome to another one of my Rowlesy’s Ramblings. I hope you’ve all had as good a week as possible during lockdown. I wouldn’t say we are closer, per se, to football resuming but that has still not stopped continual, optimistic talk of ‘Project Restart’ and, the more habitual, Manchester United speculation from hitting the back pages.
Let’s get straight into dissecting some of the stories from the past week and I will give my personal views:
Manchester United will not be signing Timo Werner
RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner has been abundantly clear this past week that he could be moving overseas when the next window occurs. Speaking to Sport Bild, the striker admitted, ‘a challenge in a foreign league would appeal to me, rather than a move to Bayern’.
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) May 1, 2020
Cue Manchester United’s name added to the equation by default.
Some of your ears will have pricked up at these words, arguably rightly so. After all, Werner is a versatile forward, relatively young, pacey, can finish and has a release clause roughly in the region of £50m. ‘Why would United not be in the running?’ you might be asking.
The answer to ‘why’ could be that this just feels like United do not hold a categorical interest in Timo Werner.
My understanding is that, as mentioned last Monday, Jadon Sancho is firmly United’s main target this summer, by the same token Werner is that to Liverpool.
Personally, I can totally understand that and not hold too many grudges. After all, for as formidable as his play has been in Liverpool’s forward line success, Roberto Firmino only has 8 league goals this season.
This reminds me of when Robert Lewandowski ran down his contract at Borussia Dortmund and we were thrown into the mix alongside his eventual employers Bayern Munich. For me, United are mentioned to merely keep the rumour mill ticking over and Liverpool and Werner is another for the ‘worst kept secret’ category.
I believe United will be in the hunt for a striker however, with Sancho an absolute priority, my gut instinct is United will retain Odion Ighalo as it’s ‘easier’ to pull off and I have absolutely no qualms with that.
Marcos Rojo’s lockdown violation confirms what we already know
I understand how mind-numbingly painful this lockdown and virtual cabin fever can be. These are truly difficult and unprecedented times for a lot of people but that did not excuse United target Jack Grealish going to a party hosted by former team-mate Ross McCormack then crashing his car a few weeks ago. It certainly does not excuse United defender Marcos Rojo from being filmed smoking and playing poker with friends in his homeland.
In case you missed it, Rojo’s brother Franco uploaded a video of the footage to his Instagram before a hasty deletion. If Alexis Sanchez’s loan to Inter could be described as ‘not going to plan’, Rojo’s, back to former club Estudiantes, has been an unmitigated disaster- only starting one match before COVID-19 hit.
If the plan was for Rojo to impress back in Argentina, it has been nothing but a spectacular failure. Even though the stupidity from Grealish has left United undeterred in their admiration of the Villa skipper, this indiscretion from Rojo is only likely to push him further out of the exit door.
Rojo is, in no way, shape or form, in Solskjaer’s plans for the future and, if anything, is now a symbol of how poor United’s post-Fergie and pre-Solskjaer recruitment had been.
Before Rojo did his cruciate ligament, there was a fleeting glimpse under Jose Mourinho of the levels he could have been capable of. Sadly, he has never threatened those levels since.
I suppose the writing has been on the wall when your so-called highlights reel at the club involve: an out of court settlement for bottling a neighbour, somehow inexplicably being below the harmless Juan Mata in United’s red card totals (irrespective of how many reckless two footed tackles escaped uncarded) and posing proud as punch for an Instagram selfie in rustling up the most burnt to smithereens piece of toast you’re ever likely to witness.
Rashford for Ballon D’Or?
Like Rojo, Matteo Darmian’s spell at United can be best described as ‘undistinguished’. Going from ‘next Gary Neville’ comparisons, I mean they did have black hair and played right-back, to United cutting the cloth and selling Darmian to Parma for a loss wasn’t what many had in mind when Louis Van Gaal brought him to the club.
He has, however, mentioned something which grabbed my attention today and not just because of my love for Marcus Rashford:
Darmian has boldly claimed that Rashford could well reach Kylian Mbappe’s level and then win the much coveted Ballon D’Or, which recognises the best footballer of that calendar year.
As remote as it seems, given the duo’s unrelenting powers, there will be a time, one day, when Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi hang up their boots. Father time hits even the greatest, but who will be the next cabs off the rank to compete against one another for the prize?
Eden Hazard has fallen away somewhat after a hellish beginning to life as a Madridista. In the immediate, can the likes of Salah and Mane be ruled out? Probably not.
After that, I think you would struggle to look beyond so-called ‘generational talents’- the likes of Mbappe, Sancho, Frenkie De Jong and I would certainly add Rashford to the mix.
Given the trajectory he is going and if he steers clear of the back issues which rudely curtailed his season, I would confidently have predicted he could have threatened the 30 goal mark this season.
People have drawn up comparisons between Rashford this year and when Cristiano Ronaldo exploded from 2006 to 2008. I think that may be a tad premature but one thing is for sure, we have a hell of a player on our hands.
Future Ballon d’Or winner? We shall see. If anything, it will show we will be back at the top.
Safe standing trial should be welcomed
Granted, my only knowledge of safe standing extends to taking in United under 23s matches at Leigh Sports Village, but on the face of it, news that Old Trafford will be trailing safe standing has got my unequivocal approval.
If the atrocities before us have taught us anything, it’s that the match day experience should be safe and there have been huge advances over the years to ensure this.
That being said, all seater stadia can be detrimental to the atmosphere and an accusation often labelled at Old Trafford over the years. The club have recognised this, not only with the singing section firstly but now this trial.
It will be interested to see how it is incorporated into the match day experience but I think we can all agree that the majority of fans will be in unison with this and anything to enhance the OT atmosphere should be embraced. It will have a throwback feel to that section, in a modern game of technological advances.
Hopefully we will get developments on when football can safely resume soon.
In the meantime, stay safe and healthy, reds.