Manchester United and an eerie similarity with the Simpsons’ decline

<span>Photograph: Darren Staples/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Darren Staples/AFP/Getty Images


As Football Daily blearily doomscrolled through the usual nonsense on Social Media Disgrace TwiXer over our cornflakes this morning, our attention was momentarily piqued by a clip from the latest season of the Simpsons. Now, we all remember the golden era don’t we? Mr Plow, Marge vs the Monorail, Flaming Moe’s, Who Shot Mr Burns, Lisa on Ice … in fact, pretty much anything and everything from the 90s. Classic, heady days that created moments deservedly ranked among the best ever. But it’s all been downhill for a long time. The voices are off, the animation doesn’t look right, the writing trapped between trying too hard and not trying enough. Of course, there are still moments of brilliance – just enough to keep hope of a return to that long-lost genius alive but simultaneously making the stodgy inconsistent fare served up these days feel that much more disappointing by comparison.

In unrelated news, Manchester United lost again at the weekend. A Friday hat-trick of gongs – player of the month, manager of the month, goal of the month – was followed by a Saturday hat-trick of gifts for Bournemouth, who were pipe-and-slippers comfortable in their 3-0 win at Old Trafford. And before riffing on United’s pain, it’s worth mentioning that in danger of being overlooked in all this has been Bournemouth’s fine display – and their form of late. Andoni Iraola arrived in the summer billed as the master of organised chaos, and initially only really got half of that across to his players. But after finally tasting victory in late October, the Cherries have been on a tear, winning five and drawing one of their next seven, and look destined for a top-half finish.

For United, though, it means their all-competitions record this season reads P23 W11 D1 L11. Most XG tables, if you go in for these things, have them in the bottom half of the Premier League, Erik ten Hag increasingly gives the impression of being at a loss as to his best team, a January clearout is on the cards, and a certain amount of solidity on the road is being undermined by defensive calamity at home. Not the ideal time, then, to receive a Big Cup visit from a Bayern Munich side stinging from their own harrowing weekend, a 5-1 pummelling at the hands of Eintracht Frankfurt.

United need to win and hope Copenhagen and Galatasaray draw in the other group game to keep their European hopes alive. Bayern are already through but Thomas Müller promised his team will “tap into our anger” after their Bundesliga battering. “I know this team can perform really at high levels and it’s not that we did it three months ago,” cheered Ten Hag on Monday lunchtime. “No, we did it last week, so I know we can do it.” And if they can’t, there’s always Anfield at the weekend …


“Basically, I played my whole career with a brain tumour” – former Liverpool and Leeds defender, Dominic Matteo, tells Sam Dalling about how he lost his memory, hitting rock bottom with a gambling addiction, and his road to recovery.


Kevin De Bruyne flying the Millenium Falcon back to Alderaan? [Friday’s Football Daily]. We have to go back to 1977 for obscure contemporary cultural references? Seriously? As the cool kids say today, Jesus wept” – Mike Wilner.

I had to smile at Ed Taylor’s letter of 8 December – ‘Aston Villa fans should get ready for a heady few years, followed by a long spell of remembering how good they used to be’ – my dear Mr Taylor, you have perfectly described this aged Villa fan’s experience of the last 55+ years” – Nick Broomhall.

I bet I’m not the only reader disappointed that Grimsby owner Jason Stockwood wrote a sensible article on succession planning and the new Grimsby manager rather than on The Hat and The Liar” – Dan Levy.

Send any letters to Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Dan Levy, who gets a copy of Reign of the Lionesses, published by Pitch Publishing. Visit their brilliant football book store here.

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