What Gareth Southgate giveth, Southgate taketh away. Luke Shaw has been called up to the England squad after three good games, which just goes show how little effort you have to put in to be rewarded. It’s exciting that Shaw is back to actually playing relatively well on the pitch, but quite that should get him immediately back in the England team is weird. Contrast that with Ashley Young, who has been dumped from the squad to make way for him. Young, who has worked for a decade to improve himself and reinvent himself for the good of his career and the team, is everything that Shaw isn’t.
Manchester United are a complete joke, part 17,000,000. Anthony Martial is set to sign a new, five-year contract at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho wants to sell him to raise funds, given he has discipline problems and asked to leave already, and because he’s been playing poorly for the best part of two years. Martial clearly has plenty of talent, and with the right manager he could be exceptional. It is not Mourinho, though. Mourinho wanted a collection of adults to win the league this season, instead he has been given a collection of clowns. Ed Woodward will stay at the club indefinitely, and undermine the manager, yet is not replacing him for one he does actually want. So, a player who won’t perform, a manager who can’t get his players to play for him, and a chief executive who makes sure it won’t change for the better.
While it is plain that Mourinho should have been given better support, now he is a dead man walking we might as well cut our losses. The next man could be Zinedine Zidane, who is apparently waiting for United’s call. Given the man United have in charge is Woodward, he can expect to be offered the job some time in 2025, after giving three different, completely unsuitable coaches the job first, each time making them play with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
There’s a story about how United are missing the legendary ess-heel Rui Faria. It has been a bit miserable seeing the idea-free Michael Carrick at Old Trafford in his place, instead of the man who would happily trip over a child if it meant he got to the ice cream van first. Mourinho-Faria was always an enjoyable aggro and snide pairing, now it’s just dull and sad.
FREE LEE GRANT. There’s a story on ESPN about third-choice goalkeepers. Apparently it can be a miserable experience if you think you’re actually decent enough to force your way into the first-team. But if you want to spend your late thirties at a Champions League club, not doing too much, and earn £20,000 a week, it’s the job for you. There’s hope for us yet.
Gerard Pique has said two things. The first is that he would welcome Paul Pogba to Barcelona in the summer, which is nice of him. And the second is that he won’t be coming back to United. It comes to something when an ageing and creaking Pique would still hugely improve United’s defence, but that is the club we are lumbered with now. Still, only almost a full season to get through before we can have some hope for the summer.