Manchester United – a team who, since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, are trying to jump off their own fucking perch like a depressed parrot. Even the arrival of a world-class manager and a record outlay spent on talent does not seem to have stopped the rot. In fact, David Moyes’ reign only lasted ten months.
Every false dawn brings hope and a plethora of talent who go on to underachieve at Old Trafford, but is there one player who could unquestionably save the club from a downward spiral that would make Trent Reznor nervous?
Antoine Griezmann is a remarkable footballer. This is a man quoted by bookmakers at around the same price as Leo Messi to win this year’s Ballon d’Or. Granted, both men are well behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the betting, but surely if fate had decided that Atlético and France had beaten Real Madrid and Portugal in the two biggest finals of the year, both of which were incredible tight affairs, it would be Griezmann and not his humble colleague with the greatest chance of winning?
It was Griezmann, not Ronaldo, who won Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016. The Frenchman also took home the prize for Top Goalscorer, despite being shunted around as Didier Deschamps belatedly searched to accommodate all of his best players in one side.
The fact that Griezmann was sacrificed as Deschamps fumbled is no surprise; the Frenchman is one of those talents so pure they can play pretty much anywhere and be effective. There is no doubting that he is most lethal playing up top, but his ability to drop deep and link up with teammates is outstanding and has the vision to play in behind the striker if necessary.
This link-up play could work wonders for United, with the 25-year-old’s use of his incredible footballing intelligence meaning that he can combine with the most average players and make them look good. Particularly handy if Wayne Rooney cannot be shifted out of Stretford.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Griezmann has a great understanding and friendship with Paul Pogba. As we’ve heard so much about, Pogba cost an awful lot of money; if you’re going to get ripped off on a bottle of supposedly vintage French red, you may as well spend a heap more on the cheese they say will get the best out of it.
Imagine Griezmann pulling defenders all over the field, linking up with an explosive Pogba buoyed by his chum’s arrival, with fellow Frenchman Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford making runs ahead. That really does sound like the kind of attack that could worry Europe’s elite defences.
Encouragingly for United, Griezmann has stated publicly that he would like to play with Pogba in club football. With his compatriot having just signed a long-term deal in Manchester, surely this is Griezmann pulling up his skirt a little and giving Ed Woodward a wink? Actually, no, we should avoid picturing Ed Woodward in a sexual situation. At all costs.
If United are to make a move, they should do so sooner rather than later. The forward has stated that he would only leave Atlético should Diego Simeone move on, but the Argentine coach looks to be on his way out of the club in the next season or two, with a recent renegotation of his contract shortening it by two years and speculation of a return to Inter Milan growing.
Supporters of rival sides might dread the prospect of such a genius reinvigorating the flailing Red Devils, but there is no question he would be en exciting prospect from the league’s point of view, and could be the man to put United back on top where fans with little understanding of the cyclical nature of football and life claim they belong.