Red Thoughts: Are Manchester United unlucky?

by Red Debate

In his post-match presser after the Arsenal game, José Mourinho said “United must be the unluckiest team in the Premier League”. Is he right? The Red Thoughts team have some opinions to share.

CARL: What he really means to say is, United are the most unfairly treated in the league, but he doesn’t because he doesn’t want to get into more trouble. The refs are not giving us any of the big decisions this season. There’s been a penalty shout in most games that were almost stonewallers and we haven’t got any of them. Then there’s the press, who are going out of their way to cause in-house issues for us. Stirring shit for one club on a scale I’ve never seen before. I watch most managers’ pre-match pressers and this week a large proportion of most of them were made up of the press asking all the managers for their take on the Rooney drinking story. What fucking business is it of any other manager outside his club and national manager? Why do we need to hear what every other manager’s opinion on it is? This story is not half as interesting as it’s been blown up to be.

DAN: I think in some ways we have been unlucky for a few years – decisions not going the way they should from officials, some of whom I honestly believe are actually scared to give the decision so as not to seem biased. Then there is always the fact that because of our reputation, the opposition players genuinely up their game when playing against us – especially at Old Trafford – it’s part and parcel of being the biggest club in England. Every player in the league has grown up watching us be successful, so they go that extra mile when playing against us. Then the press are always very quick to jump on our managers after bad results. Look at last year – Klopp at Liverpool had a few bad results, the press barely batted an eyelid. Pep went six without a win, but the press were still orgasming over his “style” of football. We go a couple of games without winning and the manager’s job is on the line. The press was after Van Gaal right from his first press conference, before we even kicked a ball.

JIM: The referees keep treating us like crap to appease the media, who so frequently vilify us. The media see us as the antichrist of football and the referees have that same perception as a result.

RICK: I think since Fergie left, a lot of big calls and penalty decisions haven’t gone our way. Especially this season. Carl is right about what Mourinho wants to say. The refs need to grow up and treat us fairly. Every week I see a stonewall penalty that we should have had, but not got. Back in the Fergie days, you know he would destroy a ref based on not giving us a decision and the FA couldn’t touch him. Now it seems they are trying to get back at us to try and prove a point. That is unprofessionalism at its highest. These refs need to be held accountable. I’m not saying we would have gone on to win the games that we should have had those penalties in. But they would have made a huge difference.
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It also seems as though every media outlet is on a Man Utd witch hunt. It seems to be the trend for everyone to hate on United because they are so successful. Again, that is very unprofessional and it seems to come from all sources as well. I’ve seen them on both Sky and BT, going on about this crap. And don’t even get me started on the newspaper reporters, who have no ethics whatsoever.

But back to my point, the manager should be able to call referees into question for clearly bad decisions such as not sending someone off, or not awarding a penalty. Off the ball incidents which the refs haven’t seen are now getting dealt with, but in this day and age where a loss costs a club so much money, these referees should be brought in to take responsibility for extremely bad decisions. I’m not talking purely about United games, I mean unfair decisions to all teams. For example Marriner sent off Gibbs instead of Oxlade Chamberlain a couple seasons ago, despite Oxlade Chamberlain telling the ref it was him. I mean that is the height of stupidity.
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DAN: The thing that annoys me is why can’t a manager come out and say that a ref has made a mistake? Everybody makes mistakes in life, but there are certain refs in the league who seem to make simple mistakes almost as if it’s to get their name mentioned. You know, when an official has had a good game, you forget who was the official for the game. But too many think they are the star of the show. But that is no excuse for the amount of chances we have been missing – if you put your chances away you don’t talk about bad refereeing decisions, as they become obsolete because they haven’t cost you the game.

REX: Unlucky is a very loose term in terms of our performances. If I were him, I’d say we’re not clinical enough to win games. In the league especially, every game we’ve drawn would have been a win for us if we had been clinical enough. Both offensively and defensively. We’ve missed chances to score in games where we should’ve been 5 or 6 goals up by half time, and even when we did score in these games, defensively we always seem to have a lapse in concentration where the opposing team manages to hurt us. Luckily, in games we’ve won, we scored more goals. So both sides of the field need some fine tuning. So in this regard I would say we need to dip into the market in January to get some steel at the back. The makeshift stuff we’ve managed to pull off always seems to hit a glitch at very bad times (late in the game, mostly). So regardless of the refereeing decisions, we need to do some work to score more and close out games when we’re ahead. Even if it means resorting to LVG style football late on, to hold on for the win.
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As for the refereeing itself, it’s almost as if they are intentionally set against making big decisions for United. Whether that’s because of previous times for both United and José, or just payback for all those years of success, I don’t know, but there needs to be an inquiry as to what’s going on. We’re almost averaging a missed penalty a game, especially at home! Something needs to be done because this is getting ridiculous! And if the manager says something, he gets fined or banned! But they need to be called out on their bullshit!

HEMOR: I can’t believe that almost every referee in the league treats us the same way, some just do it more than others. I’m not really surprised as United attract a lot of haters, so does Mourinho. That’s a very bad combo. Apart from not favouring us, they are also quick to favour our opponents, by giving them free kicks after a soft contact or giving a United player a yellow card for a soft foul. After almost every match I always feel like punching the ref. To make it worse, if Mourinho complains, he’ll get punished and also attract more hate.
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FAB: With the FA always keeping an eye on us, Mou can’t simply say that the referees are not treating us right. Every single word that he says will be misinterpreted and a fine or stadium ban awaits him. Yes, it could be about the fact that we struggle to score, but knowing Jose well, he was surely referring to the refs. That’s why I like him, he finds a way to say whatever he wants and saves himself and the team from a ban.

We have always had problems with referees. Now Mourinho at United has just made things worse.

BETS: I can’t believe in this day and age, when the refs earn a minimum of £65,000 and up to £100,000 a year, they are not held more accountable. The Premier League is only refereed by a group called “the Select Group”. They are supposed to be quality controlled by the Professional Match Game Officials Board (PMGOB). This was all started in 2001 when refs became professional. And do you know how many refs have been demoted from the Select Group in all those 15 years? Four! One of whom was Andy d’Urso, who I actually thought was a good ref. And it did not include the dreadful Uriah Rennie, who I thought had been demoted, but who retired due to injury. So there’s no accountability, it’s a joke.

As far as being genuinely unlucky this season, I do think it’s true. Yes we’ve squandered chances and made mistakes at the back but the ball’s just not been kind to us either – crosses just missing by inches, ricochets and rebounds always falling to defenders, hitting the post a lot, teams scoring from their only chance of the game, or players scoring wonder-goals against us, or average goalkeepers just suddenly playing like Gordon Banks … so I do think that despite the refereeing decisions, despite any attitude problems there may be, and despite our poor finishing, we’d still be up there if only we’d had just one or two lucky breaks. Although maybe the team should bear in mind that old Arnold Palmer quote – “The more I practice, the luckier I get”!
COREY: I think Mourinho has not learned a single thing from his sacking at Chelsea, he has come in and blamed everyone but himself. He has publicly criticised players, said it is down to bad luck, and even criticised referees. The only person he has not come out and criticised publicly is himself. Not once has he come out and said, that was my fault.

We have to ask ourselves, when he came under pressure at Chelsea, why did the players not rush to his defence like the first time? Because he lost the dressing room. More so, when it comes to the point of this post, Mourinho is the boy who cried wolf. Every opportunity to attack the refs, he does so. So when United do have a legitimate claim, all the FA see is Mourinho doing his thing again. I want to see Mourinho change his ways.

I want to see him start taking responsibility for United’s poor play. With the amount of star power we have, it should not come down to the ref and whether he calls a penalty or not. Those 3 seconds shouldn’t determine the other 90 mins.
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United simply have not been good enough. Period. Our star players have been poor, we have lacked identity and fluidity. Mourinho is chopping and changing his formations just as much as LVG did. He criticises players and says they are still playing LVG’s philosophy, however he has quality players at his disposal that have never played for LVG that struggle to even make the bench (Micky blue eyes anyone?) There are times when the players don’t know what Mourinho wants from them. Are we a defensive counter attacking team, or an possessive attacking team? Are we playing with wingers or inside forwards? Are players allowed to drift from position, or not?

Until Mourinho starts improving himself, and stops blaming everyone else, United won’t improve. And United will continue to not get any calls, as long as Mourinho continues to cry wolf.

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