Sunday, 26 June 2011

LONG MAY THE SUMMER CONTINUE!



I pride myself in being a unique Manchester United fan; if you share my sentiments then that makes two of us. Many fans can't wait for the season to kick-off because they just can't stand a week without watching United.

I'll be the 99999th person to admit that I also find it difficult getting around a week when United are not in action so the 12 week or so break in the summer should be hell for us but for me, it only applies when the Old Trafford cabinet is empty. I'd like to hold on to the trophy in that cabinet for as long as possible because United gives their fans a heck of a roller coaster ride to glory---you 'throw up' so much that by the end of the ride, you can't possibly get enough of a rest before it all starts all over again.

Last season saw us win our record 19th league title. We played all of 60 games and lost just 7; Naturally that stat would point to to walking all over opponents but it was far from it. It was a topsy-turvy ride between August-May; In that time, I lost my voice thrice (Liverpool, Blackpool, Bolton), needed a medical heart test (West Ham) and spilled very expensive beer (vs Wolves at home).

You see, for a few of us, when Manchester United take to the pitch, its close to a matter of life or death. Watching them play is not the hobby it is for many of their 300 million fans across the world. It's a case of literally watching how your future will pan out; (I know its superstitious---but aren't we all?) A win means things will work for the better; a draw stagnation and a defeat I dread to thin of it; ultimately all these amalgamate into success or failure at the end of the season.
For instance last season was a wonderful success. I don't care what the press writes about it but the stats and facts show that the period between 2007-2011 is the most successful era in the club's history!

So much as I'd love to see the lads back in action on the pitch; I think my heart is enjoying period of recovery so I'm not complaining. Not ready yet to start pulling my none-existent hair out of my head (its still growing) and look! My nails are pretty chuffed too about the holiday. They've finally recovered from that complete clear-out on New Years Day at West Brom; conceding a second half penalty after Gary was lucky not to have seen red and given away one himself; then Hernandez edging us ahead before we struggle to see it out.

Yup! Not ready yet! Long may the summer continue!
I'll do a transfer wrap when the manager puts away his cheque-book in the meantime, follow us on facebook.



Cheers!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

THE SILLY SEASON SO FAR


You might wonder why this blog has gone AWOL since the football stopped. Well the answer is simply that yours truly only really sits down to blog at done deals. The silly season doesn't really interest him. It's disgusting to be linked with all sorts of players from all walks of life in the name of journals making money to see them through the summer.

That said though; Manchester United were always going to be in for a busy summer in the transfer season---not least because of the humbling experience a Wembely. That Neville, Scholes and EVDS called time on their careers further created an urge to rebuild the team. Not that this is new to Sir Alex (who could soon be Lord Alex) as he has built four Manchester United teams. True Reds will agree that the manager has the full backing of fans and as such afford him all the trust to make the right decisions that should see us party like its '99 every month of May.

As far as players who are nailed on to be at United next season; Phil Jones seems to be the one absolutely confirmed deal. According to the press and twitter, we've got a gem. He better be one; I mean he's cost twice the fee Real Madrid dished out to sign Mezut Ozil! Ashley Young is another name that we should be singing next season. The player cancelled his wedding, flew out on holiday, and is expected to complete his transfer on his return. Given the nimbus clouds hovering over Ryan Giggs, you feel that it was a safe signing by the manager. David De Gea should replace EVDS in goal but since he's not interested in talking about the move, I'll do him a favour and leave it at that.

The silly season is not just about players arriving as you might be aware that John O'Shea, Wes Brown, and Darron Gibson could be playing for Sunderland or some sort of EPL side next season. It's not until I actually heard of this that Fergie's rebuilding plan finally sunk in. These are players who we've known to do a job for the club wen called upon without ever complaining about a lack of first team chances. It remains to be see if we shall get new players from our squad who can assume the same responsibility.

It's very likely that the manager has one big signing left to pull out of the hat and personally if I were to pick that person, it would be Alexis Sanchez. Many will point at Wes Sneijder to patch up central midfield and replace Scholes but I'm not having any of it when we're on the brink of landing another Cristiano Ronaldo. I've seen the boy play for long and I think he's that good---probably better (YES I SAID IT!) It speaks volumes about him that Barcelona---a team that could still win a treble next season without him---are also patiently lining up for him. I'll be gutted if he picks anyone over us.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

2010/11 MANCHESTER UNITED SEASON REVIEW!



Manchester United ended the 09/2010 campaign just a point behind eventual winners Chelsea so you can imagine the pain the players and fans went into the summer with. Arm chair viewers were adamant that United wouldn't win any major trophy again until they replaced Ronaldo and Tevez---who had left the season before.
However Sir Alex saw no big difference between the EPL champions and us and bar a little more discipline from one of our players, we would easily have gotten past Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Lyon in the semis to book a place in the final in Madrid.

In came Javier Hernandez, Chris Smalling and Bebe---all who were relatively unknowns. Perhaps the Mexican arrived with a more synonymous reputation than his colleagues as we'd got a glimpse of him at the World Cup in South Africa. Smalling and Bebe (who the manager signed on instinct) were seen as players for the future.

The customary season predictions by the media would have us between 2nd and fourth place in the final league standings as many could not see past the mega bucks of Chelsea and City.
Perhaps the Community Shield should have provided many with a taste of what Sir Alex had in store for them. Manchester United ran out 3-1 winners against Chelsea and our three goal scorers in Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov would provide us with the story of our first half of the season.

ANTONIO VALENCIA;
You're obviously wondering why a player who hardly kicked the ball for us in the first half of the season is part of the story...well that's the point.
Valencia had a wonderful debut season for us and had managed to effectively replace Ronaldo on that right wing for effort if not for quality. His ability to whip in the ball into the box with a single-mindedness is one of the main reasons Wayne Rooney bagged 34 goals for the club last season. He was therefore widely expected to push on this season and the goal in the Community Shield encounter against Chelsea suddenly had us lit up for what was to come in the season proper.
Then, in the most unprecedented of fashions, he breaks his leg in a somewhat innocuous challenge during a European tie at home against Rangers. It seemed like we'd seen the last of him for the season and even though he were to make a return towards the end, just how bad had our season aspirations taken a hit?

Antonio Valencia's troubles is many ways re-invented Nani as a creative outlet for United. We all know he can play on either wing but the stats show that he's better off on the right side. Nani duly took full advantage of the void left by Valencia to score 10 times in the league alone and and provide 18 assists. Quite simply, he was our player of the first half of the season for the simple reason that he made us have a life without Antonio. I happy that his fellow professionals recognised him for this and awarded him the Player's Player of the Year award at the end of the season. Nani didn't show up much for the last third of the season but it's easy to forget that the highs we reached were largely down to his early season efforts.

JAVIER HERNANDEZ;
The Mexican got the second goal in the Community Shield fixture but even then we expected him only to have a minor role in the season ahead. He however caught the fans and indeed the manager's eye for his style of playing on the last shoulder of the last defender. He has a touch of Michael Owen and Ruud van Nistelrooy in him. His crucial double away to Stoke and then the late winner in Valencia in the Champions League must have been the goals that elevated him to first team status. In fact the one stat that does justice to Chicharito's contribution to United's cause this past season is the fact that he has excelled just as much away from home where United have been generally poor all season. Those five away wins in the league were just enough to complement our terrific home form. Hernandez won us the 3 at Stoke, won us the 3 at West Brom, helped win us the 3 at Blackpool, confirmed the 3 at West Ham and stole us 3 valuable ones in the Champions League in Spain.
It's no wonder that he won the prestigious Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year. The fans were clearly moved by his contribution.

DIMITAR BERBATOV
DB9 grabbed the third goal at Wembley in that Shield opener. It led Fergie to reveal that this would be his season. We took the manager's word's lightly given the 2 relatively disappointing seasons that Berba had. But by October, the Premier League had taken note. His 21 league goals must have had something to do with our ending up as eventual league Champions. He was criticised for scoring in bulk and then going on a drought but I guess when you have a striker who scores in the more appealing fashion that Chicharito does, then you need one who will score them in in numbers if it means improving your goal difference. His finest moment came with a superb hatrick against Liverpool at Old Trafford----the first in 64 years to do that. Then he joined the likes of Alan Shearer in the record books by scoring 5 against Blackburn in a 7-1 rout.
He was in the end rewarded with the Premier League golden boot. That he shared it with Carlos Tevez takes some gloss off it but he can take courage from the fact that Carlos's total included five penalties whilst his were all taken from open play.

Wayne Rooney came into his own just about the time Berbatov began to fade and scored the best goal I've ever seen at Old Trafford (edging out Ronaldo's free-kick vs Portsmouth). For all his troubles in front of goal, he got the goal of the season---further proving that class is indeed permanent.

Edwin van der Sar had a fantastic last season with us. It's only sad that his last game for us was a painful experience for us fans. Paul Scholes called it quits at the end as well whilst Gary Neville did it in mid-season. They're all club legends and will be greatly missed. The summer should be about replacing their talents.
Sir Alex will look back and probably admit that this season was the most difficult he's had. That we've been successful in it despite the difficulties further attests to the managerial genius of the fiery Scott. The Antonio Valencia leg break was obviously unwelcome but none of those hurdles shook him more than the Wayne Rooney transfer saga. That he managed to save another player from wasting his talent by seeking a move away from Manchester United was a master stroke of his genius. This team was not given a prayer by anyone at the start of the season but we played 21 league games before we tasted defeat---an incredible feat in a league as competitive as this.

The manager's belief in the strength of the team was rewarded with a League title triumph in May. The next best team was all of 9 points away from a team that struggled to win away from home and a team that many called the 'worst under Sir Alex'. The irony is that this is the team that has claimed that most wanted record of 19 League titles. The most optimistic neutral called United an average team. Given our success, I can only conclude that the rest of the English League is below average and pretty much most of Europe as well!

+CHAMPIONS!+