Labour United’s manager continues to please new fans despite fractious issues in the dressing room. Can they pull
together for the big match at Copeland, asks BERNIE EVANS
FEW will argue the point: Labour United are having a difficult season and time is running out.
The knives are again out for the manager, Jeremy Corbyn, and, as some would have you believe, longtime fans are apparently deserting in droves.
The good news is that thousands of new supporters have turned up recently, giving United one of the largest support base in Europe.
But there is no denying the team is in trouble. It hasn’t exactly been a bowl of roses for the manager from the start.
While his tactics, always focused on attacking from the left, appeared to go down well with many of the fans, he has been able to regain the impetus lost by his predecessors.
Previous managers concentrated on less of the left-wing approach and looked for more play down the middle or right-wing.
Indeed, there was some success with this until supporters realised this was a game foreign to them and voted with their feet.
Potential managers who favoured maintaining this more conservative style lost out to Corbyn. His approach was criticised by many, especially some of the leading players, who appeared unable to adapt to tactics other than those which failed in the crucial matches.
How can fans forget those awful results in 2010 and 2015? But it is the players who are out there in the field and they claimed they could not win unless they chose the tactics.
Revolt was inevitable. It came, of course, last year; Corbyn had definitely lost the changing room.
However, Corbyn’s been in the game for 40 years and has learned a thing or two. Despite the players putting forward one of their own as a rival manager, Corbyn had the backing of the supporters.
The truth is, they like his tactics. Attacking from the left is, as they see it, a game-changer. It will bring results which will transform, rather than tinker, and that’s what many, especially the younger ones, like.
It’s gone quiet in the dressing-room recently but no-one can afford to relax, especially with the important game coming up in Copeland.
Labour United’s form has been abysmal of late, with the last match in Richmond Park — admittedly, never a ground United like to visit — a near-disaster, losing to a rival team with no form at all!
Now they are up against it, with the opposition scenting victory. Failure to win in Copeland will reinforce the calls for the manager to go and it’s certainly not going to be easy for Corbyn.
The opposition will concentrate on what many see as United’s achilles heel, defence. The insistence of United’s manager on playing down the left means defence is always a problem, especially when they play in this particular part of the country.
Strong resistance from the right will undoubtedly be the opposition’s tactic, and perhaps, lead to Corbyn stepping aside. Much will depend on the role of the manager himself. Will he lead from the front and will he be able to galvanise his players?
Defeat could be inevitable for United unless they all pull together. The manager’s opponents are predicting relegation already. They point to his confusion over priorities and doubt whether he sees a future in Europe. They insist he needs to strengthen the squad, teaming up with rivals to secure victory wherever possible, rather than sticking to his long-held principle of attacking from the left.
Perhaps they have a point, as the Green team are led by managers with many similar views to Corbyn. Would some co-operation with them, rather than any of the others suggested, help to keep the manager in his job? Wars are not decided by one battle.
A season is not determined by one match but an awful lot is hanging on the Copeland result.
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