City & United: An Email Exchange with Seán O’Sullivan

I know most United fans are absolute clowns, but I’ve managed to find a few on Twitter who are anything but. One of them is Seán O’Sullivan: a witty, only slightly arrogant fan who offers great insight into all things United. You should follow him on Twitter. We recently had a conversation via email about City and United which I’ve reproduced below.

ROB POLLARD: How do you assess United’s season?

SEAN O’SULLIVAN: It was like a Sunday evening – technically part of the good times, but whilst enjoying it; you’re sad about what’s ending.

From a purely footballing standpoint, it was pretty ace. We were never, ever going to top the drama of how you lot won it last year, so pissing it was the next best thing. Particularly before Christmas there was some ludicrously entertaining football where United seemed to win 3-2 every other week, and when that got boring, 4-3. Eventually the defence stopped playing like drunken idiots, which was almost a shame as the attack – lead by the dreamy Robin van Persie – seemed capable of scoring whenever necessary.

Fucking away the FA Cup by playing half the regulars against Sunderland 2 days before Chelsea, so we could win the league by 11 points instead of 8 or 9, was a tad annoying, and the Madrid defeat was galling for many reasons, but anyone calling a year where United win the league anything less than a great year is something similar to a coiled spunt.

Drawing 5-5 at West Brom from 5-2 up was a disgrace, mind. Good riddance, Fergie.

RP: Where do you need to strengthen this summer?

SOS: Central-midfield. Following that, centre-mid. Then a midfielder who plays in the centre. (Also at least one winger and a left-back).

The good news is that Moyesy (Moysie?) appears to have noticed that Michael Carrick is the equivalent of Britain in World War II before the Japanese decided to invite the Americans to play. The bad news is he doesn’t appear to have noticed that our wingers are universally awful. Zaha should breeze into the team and he’s about 12. Some non-mental tattooed Dutch “defender” competition for Evra would be nice, and we’re pretty much sorted everywhere else – our ‘keeper is ace, our right-back is ace, our centre-backs are mostly ace although the young’uns are teething and the oldies are getting a bit too old, and our main striker is very, very ace.

I’ve longed for the day that we’re good enough to fuck Rooney off and having Kagawa makes us just that, although noises are that he wants to stay now. Arse. I’d been fantasising of a straight swap with Mata.

Does winning the league in the way you won it last year make a trophyless season easier to take? If I was a City fan I’m not sure I’d be bothered about winning the league for another 3 years, I’d be too busy watching replays of it. Fucking QPR.

RP: To be honest, I’ve seen way more trophyless seasons than I have trophy-laden ones, so I’m weathered to it anyway. I know what you mean, though, the exhilaration of the year before did take time to subside, and I actually think that played a part in our troubles this season. There was an air of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ about us.

It was an incredible way to win the league and surely will never be topped in terms of excitement. It seems typical that if we were ever going to win it, we’d do it in such dramatic circumstances. City never – even after huge investment –  do anything the easy way, but it’s just the way I like it.

SOS: Are you a tad concerned about the summer signings thus far? Good and all that they are, but from the outside looking in there seems a wee bit of short-termism about them. Panicked response to a lacklustre campaign or the missing pieces of the puzzle?

RP: I’m happy in the sense that we’re improving in the areas we need to. Last season we had no ‘Plan B’. Mancini experimented with 3 at the back as an alternative to his favoured 4-2-3-1 but it never really worked. 4-2-3-1 is a good formation – we won the league and played some great stuff with it – but it is narrow, and if you’re struggling to break teams down, which we did this season, then you need something different. The season before, we had the old bring-De-Jong-on-and-push-Yaya-further-forward tactic which worked really well, but even that wasn’t available to us this year. The game away at QPR was the classic example for me: we had all the ball but they figured out how to stop us, and we didn’t have any idea after that. 

The Navas signing addresses that problem. He plays right out wide, has lots of pace and likes to take players on and put crosses in. We simply didn’t have that last season. I’ve always liked the look of him, and wanted us to sign him in 2010 but we never made a move.  Hopefully his arrival means we can now offer a different kind of threat and give teams more to think about.

Fernandinho I’m less familiar with but, from what I have seen, he will give us more energy in the middle of the park, which is something we need. So it’s great we’re identifying the right type of player. The fee seems remarkably high, though, at £30m. I hope I’m wrong and he turns out to be worth every penny, but signing 28-year-olds for whopping fees, I thought, was a thing of the past for us.

SOS: Can we have Nastasic?

RP: Bloody good, isn’t he? I keep thinking he’s going to have a run of bad games, like most young players do, but with him it’s just not happening. Obviously, it’s only one good season, and he needs to do a lot more to be considered a great player, but the ease with which he was putting in brilliant performances was staggering. It all looks so easy to him. He barely makes last-ditch tackles because his reading of the game is so good. Usually young centre-backs have the raw attributes and develop a good understanding of the game much later, but he plays like he’s got all the experience in the world. He’s actually only played for two season: 26 games in Florence and 21 for us, yet he reads the game like a 30-year-old. He’s a very elegant and classy player, and if he does hit a rough patch, I hope the fans stay positive because he has all the talent needed to be a great City player for years to come.

Will United win the league?

SOS: I’ll bet on it, like I do before the start of every season since I started betting. I’m pretty sure it’s the solitary reason why I’m not in massive gambling debts. I guess we’re finally gonna find out precisely how many points Ferguson was worth, although personally I think he never got as much credit for his squad-building as he should have. It was always about his man-management and his cajoling of the best out of his squads but I think it ignores the fact that he built terrific squads that I think could have done well under most managers. I guess that’ll be tested.

It’s certainly not going to be as much of a stroll as last year but I’ll back us to edge you and Chelsea in the first true three-horse race in a while.

RP: Will there ever be another Scholes?

SOS: Well it’s enormously likely Rob. I mean conservative estimates give the Earth another half a billion years, minimum. Organised football has been around for a little over a hundred. So it’s incredibly likely another footballer of his calibre will come on the scene at some stage. Possibly a cyborg.

Seriously though, of course there will. It’s a reasonably common surname.

Actually seriously though, he was an incredible footballer, and I will miss him. The midfield I grew up watching was Beckham-Keane-Scholes-Giggs. I was also the first lad in my class to finger a bird. Yeah, I had it good.

Do we see Chelsea as a challenge next year? They’ve upgraded manager-wise and they could sign a used teabag to play up front and that’d be an upgrade on Fernando Torres, but they’ve still got quite a few points to make up. Although, just checked, merely three less than you last year. Lol.

RP: I definitely see Chelsea as a threat. It was an absolute circus at their place last season, yet they still finished close to us. I think they have some great players. That Oscar-Mata-Hazard triumvirate is scary, and then you have Cech in goal, who I think is still a fine ‘keeper. Factor in Mourinho’s return, which has really galvanised their entire fanbase, and I think they will be closer to the top next season. If you lot hadn’t rolled over when you played them at Old Trafford, they may have slipped outside the top 4, which could have held them back a little. Pissed me off that did.

SOS: Speaking of managerial upgrades, the word on Pellegrini seems quite good. I thought Mancini was a bit of a myth, although I know the City fans loved him. Upgrade, yeah?

RP: Mancini was great in so many ways. He’s the first manager I’ve known at City with the fire of thousand suns in his eyes – it was more than just a job to him, and I will forever be thankful for that. He was also successful, whether people like to admit it or not. He inherited a deeply imbalanced, underachieving side, leaking goals at a rate of knots. He came in and had an impact straight away. He won two trophies and played some truly great football. His European failure and regression last season meant it was probably right to let him go, even though the fans were emotionally attached to him. He was also cool, good-looking, charming, likeable and a great player in his day.I’ll always respect and like Mancini.

Pellegrini maximizes the potential of every squad he takes charge of. If you look at the quotes from players who have worked for him, they absolutely love him. The job he did at Villareal was nothing short of incredible. I remember when he took over at Real and Sky did an in-depth look at his career and I was convinced then he was a superb manager – the job he did at the Bernabeau and then at Malaga only confirmed that. I’m incredibly excited about the appointment, despite being sad at letting Mancini go in difficult circumstances.

SOS: City have been utterly disgracing the good name of Manchester in the Champions League for a while now. Surely you’ll get out of the group stages next year and bravely bow out in the last 16 like a good English team should?

RP: Put it this way: with Pellegrini we have a much better chance. There’s no hiding from the fact last season’s Champions League campaign was disgraceful from us, even though we had the hardest group by a country mile. We didn’t win a single game. Not one.

How weird will it be without Fergie?

SOS: Nice one, I’d just gone 12 seconds without thinking about Fergie retiring. It’ll be very, very weird. It feels like he should always be the United manager. For the rest of time. Plus another few minutes.

RP: A lot of United fans seemed underwhelmed initially with the decision to bring David Moyes in. Some still feel like a big name, such as Mourinho, was needed to take the job on. What are your thoughts?

SOS: I think it’s safe to say my whelm was pretty undered. I veered between wanting Mourinho and remembering he was a cunt, though the last cunt to manage United didn’t do too bad. If we weren’t going with Circus de José, I would’ve preferred a punt on one of the few ex-Reds with a good management CV in Solskjaer. I can’t possibly say I would’ve liked Klopp without sounding like someone who wears glasses without frames, but Klopp is fucking ace, let’s be honest.

I think Moyes did a very good job at Everton, put me in the camp who rates a manager higher for consistently high league finishes rather than winning a cup, even though as a fan I’d take the latter. And I’ve liked what I’ve read on how he uses data, although I know I’m talking to someone who sees data in football like most saw Phoebe in Friends. A tad concerning is Everton’s record against Liverpool, and the big games in general – 0 wins in 44 away games against the traditional Big Four is obviously god-awful. He played Phil Neville at least two years too long and I can’t quite shake the feeling he’s been hired because he’s Scottish, but still, he should do better than Wilf McGuinness at least.

RP: Rooney seems confused. He asks for big name signings, then hands in a transfer request when said signings take his place. What on earth is going on with him?

SOS: I’m not sure even those of us who despise the Glazers bought his reasoning for his first request, which says a lot. It was about doubling his wages, and he did it, although in return he lost the love of the fans. He’s still popular with the GGMU brigade, who have been encouraged by the noise from the Moyes and Rooney camps which suggests he might now continue to grace us with his presence, but most I know would quite like us to fuck him off and re-invest elsewhere. We did look a bit lost going forward without him at times last year, but if Kagawa was given a real go in that position I think he’d make it his own.

If that’s Moyes’s first call, I might just not pelt him with rotten fruit at the Community Shield.

Will City win the league?

RP: It’s hard to say given the window hasn’t really got going yet, but, sod it, I’ll say yes.

SOS: Predict City’s opening-day XI?

RP: Hart – Zabaleta, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy – Yaya, Fernandinho – Navas, Silva, Isco (*prays*) – Aguero.

SOS: Remember when City lost 8-1 to Middlesbrough? That was well funny. Don’t mention the 6-1 you twat. That wasn’t funny at all.

RP: The 8-1 at Boro was ridiculous on every level: the performance, the fucking ‘Save Our Sven’ campaign, Alfonso Alves scoring a hat-trick, Aliadiere scoring a goal. I suppose when you put Michael Ball, Andreas Isaksson, Darius Vassell and Benjani in the same side, you’re asking for trouble.

And if you don’t think the sight of thousands of arrogant football fans looking on in disbelief as ‘ickle Citeh’ turn up and ram six past their team is funny, I worry for you. David Silva’s pass, mate…

written by Rob Pollard

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2 comments on “City & United: An Email Exchange with Seán O’Sullivan
  1. Pingback: City & United: An Email Exchange with Zac from Man Utd 24 « Typical City

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