In a brief piece posted on the club website, stars such as Papiss Cisse and Cheik Tiote along with Managing Director Derek Llambias have responded to claims made by Luke Edwards in the Daily Telegraph earlier on in the week.
You can view the article from Edwards which has caused all of this by clicking here, but the fallout from it is perhaps the most interesting thing. Generally speaking I take everything, positive and negative, written in the press with a liberal sprinkling of salt, but the way United have reacted to this situation has left me asking more questions and has made me wonder now if there is something in these rumours.
The club sent a letter via a solicitor to The Telegraph stating that if the article wasn’t removed then Luke Edwards, and The Daily/Sunday Telegraph in general, would be banned from attending matches at St James’ Park, pre-match press conferences and player interviews. The Telegraph have responded by sticking to their guns and insist their sources are correct in an article which you can read here.
United then had another retort lined up and released an article on the official club website featuring quotes which you can read below. Essentially they all centre around these rumours and dismiss the validity of them. First Papiss Cisse had his say:
“Every player is together. We are totally focussed on Saturday’s game at West Ham and the two games after that. We have a strong bond and we want the best for our Club, our manager and our wonderful fans,” said Cisse.
He added: “We are not happy about recent results. Nobody is happy when they lose, but this has only made us stronger as a group and we will come through this together. There is no divide in the team.”
His words were backed up by Cheik Tiote who insisted that everyone is in this together and that the players must, and will, fight to get out of the situation they currently find themselves in.
The Ivory Coast midfielder said: “We want to let the fans know that all of the players are committed and we are in this together. We will fight to get out of this problem and we know our fans will help us to do that. They are incredible.”
Meanwhile Derek Llambias also used this chance to take a swipe, presumably at The Telegraph, claiming that false rumours are just an attempt to distract the team.
“The Club is determined to turn things around and everyone is working together to secure that goal. It is not helpful when people try and distract the team and the manager with false rumours,” said Llambias.
A lot has been written about unrest in the dressing room, not just by Edwards, so why the heavy-handed approach to the claims? Why not just ignore them? Or even better, why not use them as motivation rather than reacting so publicly? Where is the manager? Where is the Captain? Vice-Captain? Even the stand-in Captain?
At the end of the day these rumours have only gained momentum due to performances on the pitch. If they weren’t so terrible then perhaps they wouldn’t have even surfaced in the first place? Indeed it is only on the pitch where these rumours can be put to bed, and if I was Alan Pardew or the players, I’d be using all of the words questioning commitment and quality of players as inspiration for our game on Saturday.
In fact you could print them out, show the players what people are saying about them – how the French aren’t prepared for a fight, how Colo isn’t bothered, how Cisse is suddenly rubbish – and use it as a team-talk prior to the match at Upton Park.
Just a thought…