Welcome back to Rowlesy’s Ramblings on this Bank Holiday Monday. Manchester United returned to socially distanced training as phase 1 of Project Restart got underway. Whether football comes back or not is for another day, so I am steering away from the thorny subject.
Let’s get right into the headline of the piece then:
My Love for United brilliant feature continued with journalist and United We Stand fanzine founder Andy Mitten, published last week. I condensed 45 minutes of interview into an absorbing feature and there was content I chose to save for further articles.
Dean Henderson won’t be back-up to anybody!
Manchester United’s goalkeeping situation was discussed, as Andy mentioned, up to this campaign, David De Gea had been one of his all-time United greats. Quite where De Gea fits into the Schmeichel and Van Der Sar greatness debate makes for interesting conversation. For what he achieved and made possible at the club, Schmeichel perhaps shades it, but De Gea, for me, runs him terribly close even if they are completely contrasting keeping styles.
Inquisitively, I quizzed Andy on what will happen to De Gea and Dean Henderson, the young keeper impressing at Sheffield United and a large reason they are improbably battling United for a Champions League spot.
My understanding of the situation, prior to the interview, was that Henderson seems a man in a hurry and will leave no stone unturned to become number one for both United and England. Some say he is close.
Andy confirmed Henderson is extremely confident but desperate to play first team football and will not settle for 15 games a season at United, even if he is realising his dream. It is a delicate situation – Henderson is only tied until 2022 and De Gea is the world’s best paid keeper. Andy told me something has to give at some point.
When discussing Henderson, he referred to Gerard Pique who ‘got away’ after having the thankless task of trying to dethrone the, at times, impregnable, all-conquering Ferdinand and Vidic. United risk déjà vu striking.
Perhaps the ideal scenario is for Henderson to have one more year in the top flight, then United can reassess where both he and De Gea are at but, to confirm, Henderson will not wait forever.
Andreas Pereira entering the last chance saloon at United:
In this ever increasingly social media driven 21st century, there is no hiding place for footballers. Even the previously reclusive Paul Scholes got lured into this new age and welcomed people into his life through social media.
Andreas Pereira is indisputably not on Scholes’ level and, after a season which has shown he is lacking of the United standard, you would think he would choose his words wisely on social media. In this lockdown period, United have been reliving their goals from the 19/20 season to date. Pereira has commented on the goals he contributed to with the words ‘another assist’. His confidence and delusions of grandeur remind me of Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, who was ritualistically ridiculed with ease.
‘Another assist’, the audacity of that statement, like he is peak Fabregas or De Bruyne. For context, Pereira has the grand total of 3 assists in the Premier League this season. That’s the same as Christian Atsu, Andy Carroll and Jack Stephens, Southampton’s centre back! It is fewer than Djibril Sidibe, Lys Mousset, Anwar El Ghazi and Pablo Fornals. Levels!
As you can imagine, Pereira has been slaughtered on social media. He is 24 now and reaching a critical juncture in his United career. Has he kicked on? You’d be hard pressed to answer in the affirmative. If United want to continue their progression, Pereira should be on borrowed time. Players like him in the past, Tom Cleverley for one, were moved on as they were not good enough.
Considering Liverpool and City are one injury from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ilkay Gundogan respectively, the level of depth in reserve, as well as the eleven, is something United need to upgrade.
Solskjaer has been ruthlessly clinical in his transfer dealings. If that continues, Pereira is in grave danger.
United have ruined their lockdown kudos by suing computer game makers:
Why United, why? You were doing so well! From refunding season ticket holders to providing meals to NHS homes, lockdown had been commendable from a PR perspective.
For United to sue the makers of the Football Manager series for alleged ‘trademark infringement’ is terrible in terms of motive and timing. The club deplores the use of a fabricated logo used in the game, rather than the actual crest.
The makers have, quite rightly, responded that the claimant (United) have not previously complained about Football Manager, and its predecessor Championship Manager, using a customised, artificial logo since 1992.
In light of this current world, there are more pressing issues than this petulant lawsuit. It is embarrassing!
Makes you wonder how PR expert Neil Ashton is going to spin this one favourably.
Revisiting Josh King transfer would be desperation:
Sky Sports reported on Sunday that Bournemouth’s Josh King will be in demand this summer. On paper, you can see why: Contract expiring in 2021, Premier League striker, pace, Solskjaer knows him, played for United’s academy.
King was heartbroken that a return to United was not authorised by Bournemouth. Looking calculatedly and coldly though, it’s a signing which should be left to 31st January 2020. I would’ve taken it on deadline day, but United are in a much healthier position now and they need to kick on having had ample time to devise targets.
For me, King is not in keeping with the profile of the likes of Wan-Bissaka, Maguire and Bruno- players looking to take their games to the next level.
With only 4 goals to his name in the league this season, King has found his level really, nothing more than a decent Premier League player, especially at 28.
Admittedly, not many saw Odion Ighalo as a progressive step, but he has shown his worth.
There are superior options out there and King is probably low down on any list United have drawn up.