Man United legend Paul Ince labels club a 'total mess' and 'laughing stock'

Simon Peach 21/08/2018
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Paul Ince believes former club Manchester United are a “total mess” and becoming a “laughing stock”.

Tensions have bubbled just under the surface for much of the summer at Old Trafford, with such issues coming to the fore in the wake of Sunday’s 3-2 humiliation at Brighton.

United have backed Jose Mourinho amid renewed speculation over his future, but the manager has made his frustration clear about executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward’s failure to significantly strengthen his squad.

Questions over Paul Pogba’s happiness also remain, especially after agent Mino Raiola’s cryptic comments on Tuesday, and former United midfielder Ince has called for all at the club to get their act in order.

“Other clubs and fans are having a field day at the minute, seeing what is happening at Man United,” Ince said.

“They’re becoming a laughing stock and falling behind.

“They finished second last season, and will probably make the top four this year, but is that what they should be striving for? No.

“Realistically, their goal should be to win the Premier League. But they just cannot compete with Manchester City or Liverpool at the minute.”

United face a tough test against Tottenham on Monday night, and Ince fears they could find themselves falling even further behind, but he does not believe Mourinho should go.

“Should Mourinho leave? No. Should Man United as a club get their house in order? Absolutely,” he said.

“That’s the whole lot, from the top down, Ed Woodward, Jose Mourinho, Paul Pogba, everything is a total mess.

“You would never have seen this going on with Sir Alex Ferguson as manager, especially not playing out in public.

“I could see why it would be playing on the minds of supporters that this season might end up like the Chelsea 2015-16 one.”

Mourinho was sacked midway through that campaign and Ince believes the United manager’s style of football “doesn’t suit the club and never will”.

Former England international Ince also called on Pogba to clarify his situation and agent Raiola to “grow up” after taking aim at United great Scholes on social media for questioning his client’s leadership at Brighton.

“Hearing that Mino Raiola has criticised Paul Scholes is an interesting one – who is he to criticise him? He was an unbelievable player, and a leader despite the fact he didn’t speak much,” Ince said.

“I appreciate that times and mentalities have changed since I was a player, but the fact is the agent’s job is to get a player a club and make sure he’s happy – not to get involved with what pundits say.

“I doubt it will bother Scholesy much. He’s a pundit paid to give his opinion, but Raiola needs to grow up and stay out of it.”

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Man United remain committed to Jose Mourinho while Mino Raiola defends Paul Pogba

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Jose Mourinho's position as United manager is under scrutiny.

Under-fire Jose Mourinho retains Manchester United‘s full backing, but the post-Brighton fallout continues after Paul Pogba‘s agent Mino Raiola referenced the midfielder’s potential exit in an attack on Paul Scholes.

A frustrating summer in terms of preparations and transfer business led the United manager to forewarn of a “difficult season”, with the Portuguese highlighting the first few weeks as a particular challenge.

Mourinho’s men opened the campaign with a 2-1 home win against Leicester, but their first Premier League away game ended in embarrassment as Brighton triumphed 3-2 to intensify scrutiny on United’s players and manager.

Odds on Mourinho becoming the first manager to leave their post tumbled in the wake of the shambolic south-coast display, with former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane mooted as replacement.

PaulPogbaManUnited

“Why would we discuss him when there is no job available?” a senior United source said when Zidane was mentioned as a replacement for Mourinho.

It is understood that Mourinho retains the full backing of the club’s hierarchy, who entered the season confident that the so-called third-season syndrome will not take hold this term.

Yet the United boss clearly has work to do with his players in the wake of the Brighton loss, which led to a report that disillusionment is growing in the dressing room.

Pogba’s happiness is the most hotly-debated topic and was fuelled by his agent Raiola’s cryptic comments as he hit out at Scholes for questioning the France international’s leadership qualities when captain at Brighton.

“Some people need to talk for fear of being forgotten,” he wrote on Twitter. “Paul Scholes wouldn’t recognize a leader if he was in front of Sir Winston Churchill. @paulpogba

“Paul Scholes should become sports director and advise Woodward to sell Pogba. Would be sleepless nights to find Pogba a new club @paulpogba”

While defending his client amid criticism is understandable, Raiola’s reference to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward seemed gratuitous, as did his talk of finding a new club.

Barcelona are widely-reported to be interested in the World Cup winner, but United are understood to have no intention of selling a player that returned to Old Trafford in 2016 for a world-record fee.

It was recently reported that Pogba was so unhappy that he has informed Woodward of his desire to leave, with the midfielder exacerbating such talk by saying he would get fined if he really opened up about his happiness.

Contentment appears an issue across the board despite United’s season being at the embryonic stage.

Unsettled Anthony Martial was fined for returning late following the birth of his second child – something that got under Mourinho’s skin, just as United’s inability to improve his squad has.

Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant arrived this summer, but the United manager had hoped to add a centre-back and an attacker before the transfer deadline.

HarryMaguire

The former was a priority for the United boss, but a number of options were unavailable, such as Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire, while others came with prohibitive demands from clubs or agents.

The awful display at Brighton of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof – two Mourinho signings – did little to quell the debate, leading former captain Gary Neville to say Woodward should have backed the manager’s judgement.

“The minute he gave Mourinho a contract extension in January, he had to buy him centre backs,” he told Sky Sports.

“(Toby) Alderweireld and (Harry) Maguire would have been good options. If it costs £120 million, that’s what you have to do.”


Neville believes this has been a “messy” fortnight from a board perspective, with the image of stony-faced Woodward getting widespread attention after the Brighton defeat.

“It was a show of frustration but that also could be interpreted as another show of dissent,” the former United right-back added.|

Woodward is understood to have gone to the dressing room, like normal, with non-executive director Michael Edelson after congratulating their Brighton counterparts on Sunday.

Mourinho was away doing post-match media duties, as he tends to be when United directors come to the dressing room, but Woodward is sure to be tuned into his next media appearance previewing Monday’s trip to Tottenham.

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Man United and Real Madrid legend David Beckham to receive UEFA award

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David Beckham is to receive the 2018 UEFA President’s Award, European football’s governing body has announced.

The former England captain has been acknowledged for “outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities,” UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said.

Ex-Manchester United, Real Madrid, Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Beckham will receive his award in Monaco later this year.

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