So what’s annoyed me this week?

11 01 2014

a.k.a…….So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 24

90. The moral neutrality of sponsors

In 2014 PR guru actually thinks “The nature of Cardiff City” is a sober slogan of sporting endeavour;

Cardiff City.

91. The egotism of pundits

Read this BBC article to see which players Robbie Savage chooses as “The twelve players that aren’t good enough for Manchester United“;

Manchester United: Robbie Savage says 12 players should go

Manchester United must spend £200m if they are to rebuild their squad to the standard that once made sides visiting Old Trafford feel helpless.

United lost for the third time in a row with defeat at Sunderland on Tuesday and I think as many as 12 of the 27 players who regularly feature for them are now on borrowed time.

Blunt United

Wayne Rooney tops the Premier League’s assist-makers this season but he is the only United player in the top 40.

Manchester City, meanwhile, have eight players on the same list

The players are getting shot at by people like me, but they should look at themselves. Are they running hard enough? Are they tackling hard enough? Are they putting the same effort in as they did for Sir Alex Ferguson? These are the questions I’d like to ask them, because they do not seem to be.

The fear factor I had to deal with at Old Trafford when the likes of Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and David Beckham were lining up for United has gone but I think a dozen players should make way as part of the rebuilding job manager David Moyes faces.

Good goalkeepers

There were question marks at first about David De Gea but he has matured into a fantastic Premier League goalkeeper. Understudy Anders Lindegaard is a good back-up. Both should stay.

Changes at the back

Chris Smalling: I am not convinced by him. His passing is not good enough for a Manchester United player. He should go.

Did you know? Smalling has given the ball away seven times per game on average this season and his pass completion rate stands at 80%. Only Rafael (76%) fares worse among United’s defenders.

Alexander Buttner: I’m surprised he is there in the first place. He is not good enough to be a Manchester United player and has not played enough games for that reason.

Did you know? Since joining Manchester United at the beginning of last season, Buttner has completed just two of his 25 open crosses in the Premier League.

Fabio: He is not as good as his brother Rafael. He did not do it at QPR, so what chance has he got of doing it at a club like Manchester United? Not at the level he needs to be at and has to go.

Did you know? Fabio has made only nine Premier League starts for Manchester United since joining the club in 2008.

Rio Ferdinand: He has been one of the best central defenders in the Premier League and a great servant for Manchester United, but injuries and age have caught up with him. There has to be a role for him at the club, but not as a starting member of the first team. I would suggest he joins the coaching staff.

Did you know? United have won only 29% of their league games with Ferdinand in the side this season, compared to 62% without him.

Who stays? Nemanja Vidic can help blood a young centre-half despite his best days being behind him, while Patrice Evra’s experience remains an asset, though defensively he is vulnerable. Rafael and Jonny Evans are in good shape, but Phil Jones must settle into one position soon if he is to fulfil his potential.

A midfield overhaul

Marouane Fellaini: I am not sure what his best position is. He is not good enough to play for United in the middle of the park and not quick enough or dynamic enough to play off the front. He should go.

Did you know? The Belgian has not scored or provided an assist in his past 18 Premier League appearances (eight for United, 10 for Everton), last scoring against Manchester City in March 2013.

Anderson: They paid a lot of money for him back in 2007, but the Brazilian has played just four league games this season. In my view, he has not recovered from the injuries he has suffered and cannot hold down a regular first-team place, so he should go.

Stuck in the middle

“How many of their midfielders would get into a top-four team? You compare their options to Manchester City and I think it’s a given – there are shortcomings.

“They are all good players, make no mistake. What they are not is consistent enough to play for Manchester United.

“Dealing with the pressure and delivering the consistent level of performance is what it takes and I don’t think there is enough of it in that midfield.”

Did you know? Since the start of last season, Anderson has only played 21 times for United (979 minutes). He has completed 90 minutes once in that time (the 5-5 draw with West Brom at the end of last season).

Ryan Giggs: The best Premier League player ever, but if they are going to rely on a 41-year-old to produce the goods next season, it does not say a lot for the rest of the midfielders. He will stay on as a coach and possibly be the next manager, but, playing-wise, he should go.

Did you know? The United veteran has created just seven chances in nine league games this season and has no assists.

Nani: I’m surprised he got a new five-year contract. He has not scored or created a goal in eight league games this season. He’s just too inconsistent and should go.

Did you know? Only five players (Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Young, Robin van Persie and Steven Gerrard) have produced more assists than Nani since he moved to the Premier League in 2007 (43).

Ashley Young: At times, he looks great and scores some great goals, but he’s only completed one league game this season. That says to me he is inconsistent, so what is he in the team for? To produce goals? He has not been doing that enough, so he should go.

Did you know? Despite being third on the list of Premier League assists since 2007-08, Young is yet to register one this season, creating only eight chances in 10 appearances.

Tom Cleverley: Has played in all but four of United’s league games this season, but I am not sure what he contributes. Does he pass it well? Does he score goals? Does he tackle? What does he actually do? He plays for England and I think he is good, but I am not sure what he contributes and, for me, is not a Manchester United player.

Did you know? In the Premier League, 22 midfielders have made 900 passes this season. Six are yet to produce an assist: Mile Jedinak, Jose Canas, Gary Medel, Michael Carrick, Lucas and Cleverley.

Antonio Valencia: I was torn on this one. I am not sure he has ever recovered from his injuries. He had a blistering yard of pace in the past, but I think he has lost it and does not get around the full-back enough. He should go.

Did you know? Only three players (Stewart Downing, Morgan Amalfitano and Ahmed Elmohamady) have completed more open crosses in the Premier League this season than Valencia (16).

Who stays: Michael Carrick’s consistency makes him indispensible in this current squad. Darren Fletcher is a quality player if he has overcome his health issues and I want to see what Shinji Kagawa can do, as he is proven at a top club in Borussia Dortmund. Wilfried Zaha should be allowed to prove he belongs at the top level, while Adnan Januzaj clearly does.

A tweak in attack

Javier Hernandez: Does not perform well consistently enough when he starts games. He is a good impact player but is no Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Who stays: Strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are the only world-class players in the United squad, while Danny Welbeck offers an alternative option.

In conclusion

United’s slide boils down to the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson’s genius more than the shortcomings of new boss Moyes.

The players they currently have are not bad players, they are just not United players. For Ferguson to win the league with this squad last season shows just how special he was.

The 15 who should stay

De Gea, Lindegaard, Rafael, Evra, Jones, Evans, Vidic, Carrick, Fletcher, Kagawa, Zaha, Januzaj, Rooney, Van Persie and Welbeck

In the past, the average players at Manchester United had world-class ones to pull them along. Beckham, Keane, Scholes and Eric Cantona got the average players into positions to win league titles.

Some will now question Moyes, but I’d be questioning myself if I was a player in that dressing room.

It will take an awful lot of money to rebuild this United squad, but I still think the former Everton manager is the one who can do it.”

Savage’s analysis may be correct – he should know what he’s talking about, he wasn’t good enough for United – but he’s hardly best person to be airing the faults of fellow footballers in public.

Let’s cast our minds back to September 2003 to see how he dealt with public criticism………Wales have just failed to beat Finland at home so mystery begin to shroud Wales’ certain path to the European Championships. Step forward John Benjamin Toshack……..

“Among those who saw fit to criticise were John Toshack, a former player and manager – for one game. He claimed that Wales were “lulled into a false sense of security” and that they could have won with “more ambition”.

Manager Mark Hughes, who has exceeded all expectations – including his own – in turning his nation from a tin-pot outfit to a respected, well-drilled unit, is more disappointed for his staff than on a personal level.

“Perhaps people have been waiting this long to have their say,” said Hughes as he considered Wales’s first competitive defeat for two weeks short of two years.”

Robbie immeadiately hated Toshack for his temerity. The bad feelings festered until they reached their apogee; “The Fried bananas affair”….

When I think about the cosy chat I had with John Toshack after he became Wales manager it makes me feel sick. “It’s a fresh start,” he told me. It wasn’t.

When Mark Hughes left I did a hot-headed interview, saying I thought Gary Speed and Brian Flynn would be the perfect people to take over and not Toshack. I was nailed by my own comments.

I was in his first squad, for a friendly against Hungary in February 2005. I had just moved to Blackburn, and I was also ­struggling with a groin injury, but I still turned up because I was desperate to show him my commitment to Wales.

Under Sparky, no expense was spared on Wales duty. There would be about six or seven menu choices. It would be good, healthy stuff, but there would still be a king’s feast waiting for us at mealtimes.

Walking into the dining room at Toshack’s first get-together, I stopped in surprise. There was nothing on the table. I looked at Giggsy, and he looked at me. We sat down at this empty table, and it was like being in school. The waitress came in to take our order. Plain chicken, no sauce. Or spaghetti ­bolognese. Fried bananas or rice and ­broccoli.

I wanted chicken with gravy, but we weren’t allowed. I looked down at this plate of dry chicken, one veg, no gravy, fried bananas – and then I followed the habit of a ­lifetime and acted out of instinct. Up went the white tablecloth as I pushed back my chair and crawled under the table.

The lads were laughing but trying not to let Toshack see, and I started my hunt. “Where’s the veg?” I called out. “Maybe there are some sauces under here.” I could see Toshack’s face, and he wasn’t amused.

“Is there a problem?” he almost snarled. “My chicken’s dry, and there’s no gravy or sauces.” “Ah,” he said. “You should have used your initiative and put the bolognese sauce on your chicken.” I could not believe I was having this conversation.

The get-together ended early for me, because I had a groin injury and went home. Before the next Wales squad was announced all the talk was about me becoming the new captain. I never saw what was coming.

The phone rang early one Monday morning. “Hi Robbie, John here. I’m just letting you know that I’m going to try something different. I’m not selecting you.”

I could feel myself boiling up inside, and I then made a fatal mistake. “You can stick it up your arse,” I told Toshack. “I’m retiring now.”

I had made it so easy for him. There was an agenda. I wasn’t in the squad because I was such a big personality and I was an influence on people. There was no other reason.

The bad feelings became a feud…..

Savage launches attack on Toshack (Mar 2005)

…..that kept going…..

Savage blast for Wales boss (Jun 2007)

….and going…..

Savage attack on Toshack (Sept 2007)

…..and going…..

Savage attack on Toshack (Oct 2007)

……and going….

Robbie Savage in new blast for Wales boss John Toshack (Mar 2008)

…….and going…..

Savage’s fresh Toshack criticism (Jun 2009)

…….and going…..

John Toshack must quit as manager says former Wales international Robbie Savage (Sept 2010)

Even though Savage harboured a six year grudge against someone because they made a valid criticism – a criticism that your humble author and a select group of friends also made – he still expects us to take him seriously as a football analyst.

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