Saturday 18 November 2017

Huge Neymar offer is no more than hot air

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal
Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal

It's hilarious to see the truly enormous and ridiculous amounts being bandied about as Manchester United's price for bringing Neymar to Old Trafford.

It's even more daft when you consider that Ed Woodward or Louis van Gaal, whichever story you believe, messed up. They managed to let Pedro slip through their fingers for a couple of million.

Call me an old cynic but I'm finding it hard to take the Neymar story seriously.

Jose Mourinho stepped in, bought Pedro and got an instant return against West Brom.

His contribution meant we were talking about a ten-man Chelsea win rather than another worrying draw or even worse.

A day earlier, Manchester United struggled to a 0-0 draw with a very ordinary Newcastle team and couldn't buy a goal. Had they bought Pedro, they might have enjoyed just as quick a return as Mourinho did.

I know we are in the realm of 'if, and buts' with this but I can help but think that what we are seeing with Neymar and Pedro and several other Manchester United targets is spin.


It's no more than an indication to the fans that Manchester United are in there haggling for all the good players when the reality is something very different.

Ed Woodward made his unique contribution to David Moyes ill-fated time at the club and managed to miss every target.

Last summer, Manchester United were left bare in all areas of the pitch by a haphazard approach to recruitment which ended up in the failed Falcao experiment.

I know Van Gaal backed Woodward and claimed he was very happy with the work done but I can't believe that for a second.

Van Gaal only has to look across the city where their rivals slipped another classy defender into their squad last weekend while they dismissed Everton at Goodison Park.

Nicolas Otamendi is a solid buy and bulks up their defence, something Arsene Wenger should be doing too but I've gone beyond debating that issue at this stage.

If Wenger didn't see his problem on Monday night where he was left with a skeleton crew at the back because of problems with both Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, he will never see it.

If he couldn't see the benefits of security at the back in his own team, surely he must see the difference in Liverpool over last season and the fact that they are more solid?

Brendan Rodgers has bucked the trend at Afield and bought some good players this summer and defensively, they look stronger than they have for some time.

Maybe Liverpool's owners learned their lesson after two very poor runs at the summer market and maybe they were prepared to trust their manager this time.

Rodgers has done well to fill out his squad and even better to make his team a much more formidable proposition at the back. He has found a man he can build it around in Christian Benteke and I would be much more optimistic about Liverpool for the season ahead than I was a month ago.

I think he is still short up front and in midfield but Rodgers has a group of players he can work with maybe now we will see his ability emerge through the blizzard of flowery phrases which drop from his lips on demand. Just to refer back to Manchester City's third win on the trot, I thought that Seamus Coleman was my man of the match in that game which is saying something and that's good news for Ireland with games coming up soon.

It does strike me that Coleman seems to thrive for Everton and doesn't do so well for Ireland. My explanation for that is simple enough. He's been playing in a better team at Goodison and his strengths are encouraged, not denied.

Remember, for the first spell of his tie as an international player, Giovanni Trapattoni anchored him in his own half and told him not to obey his instincts.

That kind of thing will drag a player down and I know that myself from my own time playing international football.

If the environment is right, you'll get the best out of your players but if it's not, some cannot just drive on regardless and their form suffers.

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