Category Archives: Manchester United

Noise about Moyes. Has this window really been a disaster for The Red Devils?

 

Back again – told you I’d be a bit more frequent with these. I was going to write another one before the turn of the window, but the RT/favourite monsters are out in force at this time of year – and they really enjoy the feeling of smearing egg on someone’s face.

The transfer window had plenty of winners and losers, as it always does. The winners: Spurs, Everton, Cardiff, Southampton. The losers? A more subjective debate…; Newcastle, Sunderland and Manchester United are the names you’ll see mentioned a bit more.

It’s Manchester United I want to dissect, though.

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Moyes got his man, in the end.

Tweets: Manchester United.

@Guardian_Sport: Manchester United inquest begins after David Moyes era opens in farce.

@waldron97: Unprofessional panic buy with Fellaini, shows they couldn’t acquire top targets otherwise they would have got him earlier for £23.5m

@ZcottAFC: Like an Italian mafia movie. The Godfather dies and the son takes over, but nobody respects him.

@TomKirk_:  The issue is how they conducted their business rather than who they ultimately signed. (i.e. declared interest in 7+ players).

The frustration continues throughout twitter. On deadline day ‘#MoyesOut’ was trending for around an hour between Arsenal’s unveiling of Mesut Ozil and the first signs of movement at Old Trafford.

So, the core of this blog post: Am I the only person who thinks Manchester United had a good transfer window?

Throughout July & August I maintained my stance on Moyes, and on Manchester United; it was something along the lines of:

For me, the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson and the welcoming of David Moyes is all the disruption the club needed – the backroom staff were restructured, the players have been unsettled and the board room has had a shake up. Bringing in new faces would only bring another issue: footballing anxiety: Will I play? Am I still in contention? Does Moyes want me? 

Furthermore, on reflection, David Moyes is still trying to dissolve the legacy of Sir Alex, and try and put his stamp on a Championship winning dressing room. He’s toyed with 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, and a flat 4-5-1, all with mixed success. Moyes couldn’t complete his business early because he hadn’t spent sufficient time with the squad. So he did what anyone would do in his position, blank cheque book and a big club… He went for a player he’s always liked: Cesc Fabregas.

As the window continued and players still hadn’t signed – the media spotlight was shining on him, fan pressure mounted and there was a club-wide concern when the fixture list was announced.

Sunday. September 1st. 2013. Moyes’ third game in charge.

By this stage, we’re starting to catch a glimpse of the Moyes footprint. The initial set up of 4-2-3-1 lacks impetus, Liverpool take the lead and they’re looking comfortable. Moyes takes a jump to 4-4-2(4-4-1-1). The attacking threat intensifies – there’s clarity in the tactics. Full backs are overlapping,

Carrick is sitting deep and protecting the centre-backs, Welbeck is running off Van Persie and keeping mobile. Wingers are attacking Wisdom and Enrique.

It’s at this point, 3 games in, that you see a target area: Moyes has his wingers hugging the touchline – further spread than how Sir Alex had them – but Liverpool’s tight-knit midfield of Gerrard–Lucas–Henderson is proving too much for Carrick-Cleverley to handle, to adapt Man Utd will need a physicality to protect Carrick. This match was a turning point for Moyes because he came away from it with a priority; A ball winning midfielder.

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Image from the game – An example of the midfield battle, look at Liverpool’s 3: All swamping Cleverley.

On deadline day, he had two targets for the CDM position. 1) Sami Khedira, 2) Marouane Fellaini. He had a deal on the table of Ander Herrera, and he was interested in the left-back position, though wasn’t prioritising it. When the Baines deal collapsed, I believe he was happy to continue with Evra for the remainder of the season, the Coentrao deal smells like an agent called him and highlighted his availability – it was a last-minute pounce, so no surprise it didn’t come off.

I then went back to twitter, re-spoke to a few of the fans mentioned above. There was another key area: Manchester United’s Academy has failed to deliver for a few years – there’s a longing for their very own Jack Wilshere/Raheem Sterling. – Moyes has done some under-the-radar signings of young players, and bolstered the resource of the academy. Long term strengthening.

Some of the criticism of Moyes has been beyond harsh. All things considered, you need to respect that he’s retained Rooney – that he’s working towards getting Kagawa back to fitness and that he’s discovered a tactical problem and spend £27,000,000 to solve it. I expect a much more active window from Manchester United in January, until then the fans need to fulfil Sir Alex’s final wishes in charge: Get behind the new manager.

All-in-all, it’s been a sensible transfer window for a club that has a little bit of rebuilding to do. Man Utd are still competitive in the Premier League and there is no real expectation in the Champions League. The club are set up for the elusive top four finish and an ‘under the radar’ season. The more Moyes is out the spot light, the better. Any manager coming in would have had rebuilding to do. Three seasons will be the barometer of Moyes as a manager at this size club, not one transfer window.

#MoyesIn

A mention to Jamie Keating – Jamie has helped me complete, edit, and provided fan-based ideas for this blog post. He’s a Manchester United fan. If you enjoy this blog, give him a follow. 

Over and out.


Traditions making way for a new a generation in football, a round up;

My last blog piece was written quite a while back now, and for that I need to say sorry. Since my last one I’ve got a new job, and a new flat too. It’s been a busy time. I’m writing this in a rather informal notion, so excuse my disregard for proper sentence structure or journalistic skills. It’s more about opinion, and for that – I want to see responses.

In football terms, Arsenal appear to have turned a corner. Those who follow my twitter-feed (see top) will know I was cautious about ‘counting chickens’; as the form and ability of the opposition was as questionable as the Gunners themselves. As it stands, a thumping win at Stamford Bridge and topping their Champions’ League group thus far, I believe as long as Arsenal are in the top five come January they’ll finish in that lucrative top 4 spot. If they’re smart enough to strengthen well, I even think 3rd place is do-able. With that thought in mind, I’ll stick to my prediction from my transfer blog in Summer;

Manchester City – Champions.
Manchester United – 2nd.
Arsenal – 3rd.
Liverpool – 4th.
Chelsea – 5th.
Tottenham – 6th.

Though, I must admit, Tottenham have been relatively impressive; I just think the further they go in the Europa League, the more it will harm their chances.

Thursday/Sunday seasons can be cursed for any side. Liverpool and Spurs could swap places; I do firmly believe Chelsea will fall behind but it will see a major haul in personnel at the club for the 2012/2013 season.

Back to Arsenal, and my worry is in their ability to do transfer dealings. Wenger won’t want to halt the growth of his young stars, but he needs some star quality. Mikel Arteta has been good, as has Ramsey and Song. Three solid players, but a Hazard type of character would really shake up the team – Mind, so would Arshavin if he found form. Though how is Arsene supposed to justify buying another CM when he already has arguably seven/eight possible suitors? It’s very hard to justifiably strengthen a side full of good, but not Ballon D’Or, players.

Next I want to talk about the Championship strugglers; Doncaster Rovers. With a lack of funds and an inability to compete on their field, they have invested in a new look strategy with the help of one of football’s real pantomine villains;

Willie McKay – I know you know the name, and now you’re thinking: “Wasn’t he that… uh… um… Hmmm.. He knows Redknapp, doesn’t he?”, Well McKay is a football agent, and perhaps would of the most media watched of them all after the police and political enquires into his transfer involvement with Jean Boumsong, Benjani and Amdy Faye. Most notably; “The Steven’s Enquiry” in 2007, which was the fall out of his arrest, and subsequent house raid as police investigated alleged corruption in football, all at the time Harry Redknapp was at Portsmouth, the club Amdy Faye then played for. For McKay, with current clients like El Hadji Diouf and Joey Barton, he’s always going to be interesting.

Willie McKay (right) at Doncaster Rovers last week.

Doncaster Rovers have hired Willie McKay on a 2-year deal in the role of ‘Transfer Consultant’; an advisory role. This is perhaps the most interesting story of the late-2011.

‘So what does that mean?’ – Basically, he is in charge of any ins and outs in the club and, with his various contacts in football, he’s got a fantastic plan up his sleeve to generate income for Doncaster. It’s a short-term plan with a long-term goal.

McKay has promised to bring in star names on short contracts, taking unwanted players from big clubs around Europe to put them in the shop window ergo selling them on to a club more befitting of their talent, and he (McKay) will get a cut of Doncaster’s profits. A relatively win-win situation: no? So far, Doncaster have signed Diouf, Chimbonda and McKay has even claimed Zinedine Zidane and Mahamadou Diarra are due to sign in January. Amazing.

So, from one club that’s fighting to keep itself competitive; to another commercially setting the tone in not only domestic, but international, sport. The brand, the PLC: Manchester United. In a previous blog, I expressed how impressed I was that they’ve secured sponsorship of their training kit via DHL – yes, training kit, for £40,000,000. That was enough money to secure the signings of Phil Jones and Ashley Young. In recent activities, Manchester United have now secured Zong as their ‘Official Pakistan Telecoms Sponsor’, their 15th worldwide communications sponsor, in stark contrast to their commercial rivals Arsenal, who have one, British giants: O2.

That’s enough commercial activity for one club, right? Wrong. Manchester United also have plans to launch a Worldwide Social Network, aiming to target, link and give content to their estimated 500 million fans. Man United are positively exploiting their global brand – another business lesson for the competition.

So to my next point, and I’ve been thinking this for a while so I just wanted to get my thoughts immortalised into the black-ink of the internet so when it happens I look like a genius;

Manchester United will ‘franchise’ a football team in the USA.

There are so many different catalysts which are pointing to it, I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but I know football – it seems a commercial and operational feasibility.

In 2003 Manchester United went on their first tour to the USA, the players were able to walk the streets of the busiest cities without as much as an autograph. Now, it’s 2011 and United sell-out the 61,500 strong Soldier Field for their pre-season clash with Chicago Fire.

Manchester United line up on their USA Tour 2011.

American businesses are pushing to be associated with Manchester United. After losing the MLS kit rights to Adidas, Nike (Man Utd’s manufacturer) are using the brand of the Red Devils and the Premier League to propel themselves as the face of the MLS game. Furthermore, American business multi-service providers ‘Aon’ spent £80 million – 4 years ago – to sponsor the United playing uniforms: with 6.5 million fans apparently based in the US. Those numbers explain why the likes of DHL, Audi, Epson and Singha are determined to pay handsomely for association with Manchester United too.

Next David Beckham has admitted this week that he is looking into the possibility of owning a MLS franchise after he finishes playing football. Given his allegiances with Manchester United, it seems a feasible ending. As for where; I could imagine them being based in Seattle (where Nike has their flagship store) or Chicago. Both cities Manchester United have utilised as a base on their US tours. Watch this space.

Next, and tying into the Manchester United universal brand and the USA Franchise Idea: Rio Ferdinand.

The twitter #movement of the England Centre-Back has propelled him to fame; his online ‘banter’ with CNN’s Piers Morgan has got him into the American eye, and he’s one of the most recognised English starts with American fans. Recently, he’s fallen out of favour with Sir Alex in favour of bleeding Phil Jones into the team, and with Chris Smalling and Evans progressing it seems he’s undoubtedly ‘over-the-hill’.

Next bold statement; He will be at Chicago Fire by 2013.

His children are 5, 3, and <1. It seems a good time to move, get them settled into the US life, increase his image and could see him becoming an international ambassador for the English game, as well as Manchester United. Right now, LA Galaxy and The New York Red Bulls are both seen as the two dominant forces in the MLS; no coincidence that these are both teams who have invested in ex-European stars. Chicago, the next most famous US City after the two already named – would love to get their hands on one themselves.

In having Ferdinand in the USA, and Beckham looking to buy a club, a Manchester United franchise is gaining momentum as a feasible idea.

The final big topic of recent times – and this a slight tedious link on from Ferdinand > Old Players getting toward the end of their top flight career – is John Terry.

The England Captain is at the centre of a police-led enquiry into alleged racism towards QPR’s defender, and Rio’s brother, Anton Ferdinand. Allow me to just offer me opinion on this, for me, in the trial-by-youtube case it does appear that Terry is saying: “You blind c***”.

However, when lip-reading, the words ‘blind’ and ‘black’ come across similarly, but Anton Ferdinand seems to be aggrieved enough to have launched a formal complaint with the Met Police and the FA.

Following the Wayne Bridge and John Terry fiasco 18months back, I think the FA have had it in for Terry. At the end of the day, the playb0y actions of the Chelsea Skipper put the sport, the reputation of the English game, and the name of football players to embarrassment. Because of this, I think the FA are going to use this Race-Row as an excuse to completely throw the book at him.

John Terry and Anton Ferdinand exchange words.

8-15 game ban; something really serious. I think you’re going to feel half of it for the crime of racism, and half of it for the FA to well-and-truly get him back for the Bridge-gate.

How on earth do you wrap up such monstrosity of a blog-post? I’m not really sure, but I would really love to hear your views on anything I’ve spoke about. So tweet me or comment below.

This was very fun to write, by the way.

Over and out.


“How important we are to England” – Manchester United.

During the tenure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Scot has led Manchester United to 37 honours, has received personal accolades from Manager of the Month to Knighthood, and has been labelled one of the greatest managers of the Premier League era, if not the stand-alone candidate. The success of the club has seen them over-take even the once famous Liverpool.

But today, Sir Alex launched a four-letter attack on the FA claiming the club have been unfairly treated. For anyone who may have missed it;

So, the key quote I picked out from the interview was;

“Maybe they will realise how important we are to England instead of treating us like s***.”

So what does this mean? Is Sir Alex calling for preferential treatment? It certainly sounds that way – but, as the rest of the league may say, doesn’t he already?

This blog post will not be a balanced article of all things United, this isn’t an article about how the league are for or against United. This is 100% just me compiling a range of counter-arguments which dis-prove Sir Alex’s arguments. I.e, he thinks they ‘are treated like s***’, I’m going to show them getting the rub of the green.

In my own opinion, I feel Manchester United have a habit of complaining when justice is served; i.e. The Wayne Rooney incident, swearing into the camera – People seemed to forget that Sky Sports pay Manchester United an excess of £40,000,000 a year, to show their games. Sky’s viewership on a weekend lunchtime is of all ages, and the aggressive nature of Mr Rooney’s actions were unacceptable for a pre-watershed audience. The FA would have been sanctioned by BSkyB, as part of the media contract, to warn players of behaviour on the pitch, and had the FA not punished Wayne Rooney, the FA would have been fined by Sky. Simple as that. Many argued “players swear on-screen all the time” – Yes, they do, but never at the camera, never directed at the viewers. That’s the fundamental difference.

Back to the pressing issue, Sir Alex claims that Manchester United are unfairly treated, interestingly, SJA Sports Writer of the Year; Nick Harris, compiled a report on the findings of @timjtlong (twitter), looking into how the league table would look, had all refereeing mistakes been corrected.

An interesting read, though I’ll be the first to admit there is flaws. For example, that table takes into account that all penalties would have been scored, fair – I guess. However, it does not take ‘momentum’ into account, for example;

Blackpool 2 – 3 Manchester United

Blackpool are leading 2-0, when Rafael appears to trip Luke Varney, BBC’s Sam Lyon describes the incident on ‘as it happens (bbc.co.uk/sport);

“I’m sorry, but how is that not a penalty? Blackpool forward Luke Varney looks to have been cleared out by Rafael da Silva inside the box, with the Brazilian nowhere near the ball, but referee Peter Walton waves the appeals away. Varney is incredulous and Blackpool boss Ian Holloway is incandescent.”

The aforementioned table counts that final result as a 3-3, but one would seriously argue that at 3-0 down United are out of the game.

Same can be said for West Brom 1 – 2 Manchester United; in the first 20 minutes Gary Neville is last man and clearly brings down Dorrans;

This time the words of BBC’s Chris Bevan;

Gary Neville brings down Dorrans as the Baggies man is 1 on 1.

“Big, big shouts for a West Brom penalty as Graeme Dorrans latches on to a long ball over the top. He is shaping to shoot inside the area when Gary Neville slides in. Does he get the ball? No. Does get the man? Yes. It should be a spot-kick but referee Chris Foy says no.”

This time, the table allows for 2-2, instead of taking into account the difference 1-0 (scored penalty), plus the sending off of Gary Neville.

Nor does it include the FA Cup, many Liverpool fans remember the 3rd round game at Old Trafford between the sides, where Howard Webb (who incidentally has given Manchester United 5 penalties in 10 matches) awards a penalty for a ‘foul’ on Berbatov when replays showed minimal/no contact.

Additionally, the table does not account for the difference a fair referee would have made to the potential suspension of a player;

Wayne Rooney elbow on McCarthy, should have seen a 3 match ban – Similar to how Alex Song was retrospectively punished for him stamp on Joey Barton, but was not seen. As well as the handball at the Emirates by Vidic  should have seen a 1 match ban, minimum, which would have seen the inspirational defender miss the title decider at Old Trafford with Chelsea. Further more, during: Aston Villa 2 – 2 Manchester United, Nemanjia Vidic scores the equaliser for the Red Devils, before going into the crowd to celebrate, a bookable offense, with the Serbian already on a booking the letter of the law demands he be sent off, as was Piquionne by the same referee vs Everton in Jan 2011, and Robben away at Sunderland for Chelsea in 2006. Pivotal decisions in a season, which are clearly inconsistent in United favour, appear to be so blindly missed.

Vidic celebrating just before entering the Away Section at Villa Park.

And these decisions are just in 2010-2011.

In 2009, Arséne Wenger coined the phrase ‘Old Trafford-ish’. A phrase which I can best define as; “The decisions that Manchester United get when playing at Old Trafford, the type of decisions that aren’t completely in-fitting with the rules of the game, nor are they expected when at other grounds”, after Darren Fletcher made 11 fouls in a match against the Gunners before being booked, then making around 3 prior to being substituted, also Arsenal conceded this penalty;

Watch Rooney’s leg in the slow motion replay, he’s leaving it into the ground, and forcing the contact. Not to mention the fact he’s booted the ball into  Row Z and is never going to get there. As Wenger said; ‘Old Trafford-ish’.

However, that is not the decision Arsenal fans are most bitter about; in 2004, their unbeaten record of 49 games was ended, you guessed it, at Old Trafford in a 2-0 victory for the Red Devils. With the game balanced at 0-0, Mike Riley, who – like Webb (above) had a record of giving penalties – had given Manchester United 7 penalties in his last 7 games at Old Trafford, made it 8 in 8, after awarding a penalty for this;

Make up your own mind if Sol Campbell makes contact.

It is very easy to get carried away in this debate, as a self-confessed Arsenal fan, I do try to maintain un-bias, and I understand there is an element of fortune that goes with any successful side, I just feel the comments of Sir Alex Ferguson can be translated as such;

“Help, we’ve done so much for English football over the last 25 years, and now, this mob from the other side of the City have a lot of money and are buying superstars like they have cheat-codes for Football Manager – we’re the best positioned team to challenge them and if you want this league to be competitive I suggest you help us out to make it so” – Or am I just being really cynical?

To conclude, Manchester United are not unfairly treated, in fact, I believe, had decisions gone a differently last season, and Manchester United not been given the rub of the green like they had been in 2010/2011, they would not have won their record 19th title. Manchester United remain, in my eyes, one of the most favoured clubs in the league.

However, the position that this leaves the FA in is tricky, they have two options;

Sir Alex gives the 4th Official his opinion.

1) Leave Sir Alex unpunished for his comments, but risk sending out an uneasy message to the football world. This action would be viewed as; “Hmm… we accept your point”

2) Charge Sir Alex. His comments are spiteful, and are leading towards the governing body acting upon them. He is playing mind-games with referees and the malicious nature of the comments threaten the integrity of the game.

Time will tell.

….. And let the barrage of Manchester United fans hate messages begin, direct them all to;

Over and out.