Viet Nam News
by Paul Kennedy
I’ve never been to Lurgan. I didn’t even know where it was until recently. It sounds like something you use as an excuse when phoning in sick.
“Sorry boss, I can’t come in today. I’ve got the Lurgan.”
Twenty nine kilometres south west of Belfast in County Armagh, I’m sure Lurgan is a great place.
If a visiting Russian was passing through he may well say: “I’ve always wanted to visit Lurgan because the name Lurgan is an anglicisation of the Irish name An Lorgain. This literally means "the shin”. I just had to see the shin town for myself.”
In July this year a football team from Norway visited and left disappointed, kicked in the shins, losing by two goals to one in the Europa League against Irish League part-timers Glenavon FC, AKA The Lurgan Blues.
Now granted the team from Norway, Molde FC (which sounds like something that may cause you to catch the Lurgan) did win the second leg easily.
No surprise really, especially as Glenavon FC’s goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey ruled himself out because he had to go to a wedding.
Molde, not really a great name in European football, were managed at the time by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the new boss of Manchester United.
Ole got off to a flying start, hammering Cardiff last week and bringing the smile back to the faces of the United faithful but it did make me wonder why arguably the biggest football club in the world would bring in the manager of Molde FC to steady the ship?
Sure he was a popular player and scored some amazing and important goals, but you can write on the back of a postage stamp his managerial achievements in the game.
The cynical may argue he’s not the man for the job, but maybe it’s actually a stroke of genius.
Manchester United is a club in trouble. Since Sir Alex Ferguson left they’ve had five managers (if you count Ryan Giggs’ interim position) and they’ve as much chance of winning the league this year as Glenavon FC have of winning the Champions League next.
There’s a huge gap between them and top spot, they face PSG in the next round of the Champions League and under Jose Mourinho, were playing the kind of football that would make an insomniac nod off.
So why Solskjaer? Is he really the man to save their season? No, he is not. But I suggest his appointment is a good move.
Alongside Ole is Mike Phelan who was Fergie’s number two for many years, and chances are he still has Sir Alex’s number stored in his phone.
What I believe is happening here is Ole is nothing more than a puppet, paraded in front of the cameras to say the right things. A friendly and familiar face United fans won’t dislike. Meanwhile pulling the strings is Phelan, or possibly even Ferguson himself.
When you think about it, the only person good enough really to replace Sir Alex Ferguson is Sir Alex Ferguson, and maybe that’s what United have done, for the time being at least.
Ole’s not going to be afraid to ask his old boss for advice, and he sure needs it.
But the tough task for United now is who do they hire at the end of the season? Who will be the next, next Alex Ferguson?
Mauricio Pochettino is the bookmakers’ favourite and he has done an amazing job at Tottenham. He plays good football, and seems a tough cookie, which is exactly what United need.
Although on current form and league position, a move from Spurs to United may seem like a backwards step, but sorry Tottenham fans, it’s not.
United are a massive club, always will be. The amount of Grab drivers here in Hà Nội who take great pleasure in telling me that’s their team is testament to that and their global following.
But if the next managerial appointment isn’t right then it will be a tough task stopping the rot, and right now the former manager of Molde isn’t the long term choice. — VNS