sport news RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: Manchester United have shot themselves in the foot by ... trends now
Losing on the pitch, taking leave of their senses off it. If anything could quite capture the turmoil, panic and sheer irrationality at Manchester United, it was their decision yesterday to ban a number of journalists. Naturally, they missed their target and the point.
If this latest debacle serves as proof of anything it is that this is a once great club fumbling in the fog.
But we knew that already, just as we know there is disillusionment among the playing staff. We know because we hear it from sources at the club and beyond and have done for some time.
Those stories this week of a fractured dressing room, which prompted the ejection of toys and reporters from the Carrington pram, were new updates to an ongoing theme.
That they were delivered by credible and respected journalists means they can be safely trusted — the cohort includes reporters who have been around the club for many years.
Manchester United banned several major news outlets from attending Erik ten Hag's press conference on Tuesday
United did not allow either Sky Sports' Kaveh Solhekol (left) or ESPN's Rob Dawson (right) to attend Tuesday's press conference, ahead of their match against Chelsea at Old Trafford
The club were angered when the journalists had failed to contact the club prior to publishing several stories
They will know players, staff, agents and hangers-on and the journalists are well aware that United are not United.
That doesn’t make the club unique — look to a struggling team and you will find a tense mood and a few outliers. Look to a successful squad and you will see a player unhappy that he is not part of it.
That is natural. That is life in the furnace, in football and sport, in newspapers and broadcasters and life in general.
The ban was put in place by United's communications director Andrew Ward
But United’s manoeuvre in the face of journalistic criticism is very much the last refuge of the desperate. It is an act of paranoia. It is the wafer-thin armour of a club that wishes to evoke the muscular spirit of Sir Alex Ferguson — ‘youse are all f****** idiots’ — but their illusion left with him. It is the behaviour of a club no better at plugging leaks than manager Erik ten Hag is at stringing together wins this season.
His employer’s point in all of this is what we might