So as we are about to enter the joys of Christmas, its been an eventful past seven days: Michael Owen scores a brilliant hat-trick on German soil and then gets dropped; The club was left stranded with just one fit defender; We then go and send our collective gold, frankincense and myrrh to Chelsea in the form of a loss to Villa; and it all ends with the feverish speculation of a Far East consortium buying out our ever popular American owners and Ryan Giggs being crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Just another week in the life of Manchester United Football Club!
I wanna start with Owen, because ive been banging his drum for weeks. I was so pleased with his goals against Wolfsburg. Many of the most ardent Scouse-hating United fraternity wish him to fail but slowly he is even converting these lot. It was a hat-trick of a predator. Now i love Roo, and i am taking a shine to Mr Berba, but neither of these two can finish like this boy..erm...man! We know the question with him will always be fitness, but at the moment (touch wood) that does not seem to be an issue. He showed that if he plays up top that he still has what it takes....which is why it was so frustrating to see Fergie revert to type and drop him against Villa.
I have a lot of respect for Martin ONeill. He is definitely near the top of my Post Fergie Era managers who could take the position. He has built a Villa side who are skillful, industrious and entertaining...a good blend of power and finesse. So my heart dropped when i saw our formation and team when i got into the Theatre at 4.30pm on Saturday. Two defensive midfielders with one up top?? Now i know Villa deserve respect, but this formation really played into their hands. We had too many players in a narrow defensive mode which was always gonna allow Young and Downing the space on the flanks to cross the ball into their powerhouses in the middle, and low and behold this is how they won the game. Now i am not an advocate of United playing 4-4-2 every week. Sometimes it is vital to play 4-3-3 and even 4-5-1. However, when you have your three main strikers fit and available it makes no sense in expecting Giggs, Park or Valencia to make up the second striker when we attack.
I will always trust the manager and his decisions but the simple truth is he got it very wrong on Saturday...but that's life! You could argue in his favour that had Carrick, Valencia and Park played better and that Fletcher didnt look as spooked as he did playing right back, that we would probably have got some sort of result....but we didnt. Lets hope for a more convincing display against a confident Wolves team.
The week ended with red tops going crazy about a 'mysterious Chinese billionaire' who has got six of his billionaire mates together to put together a billion pound bid to see off our billionaire American owners. Ive already read comments from United fans on their interweb portals claiming that this is 'great news' Somehow i cannot fathom this. In the years that the Glazers have run the club we have won three consecutive Premier League titles, been to two European finals winning one of them, and seen us collect World Champions titles, European and World Footballer of the Year crowns...a run of unrivalled success. I understand how the infamous 'debt' that the club carries is worrying to many, but not to me. If you owned a house worth £200,000 and you managed a down payment of £50,000 (lucky in this day and age!) leaving you with a £150,000 mortgage would this seem so unreasonable? Not if your earnings, assets, etc covered the bills. The Glazers have a £700 million debt that is currently very serviceable. They own the club and therefore the clubs profits are tied into this, meaning that the ratio from earnings to repayments is about 8%...which is NOTHING in business terms. Compare this to Liverpool whos ratio is closer to 30% when they are being successful.. playing in Champions Leagues and competing in the Prem...now THAT is something to worry about, especially with their current standing.
I cant help but feel that there is some odd xenophobia going on when many talk about the Glazers. We dont like Americans owning our English institutions...but a Russian? Yeah thats fine. A Chinese guy who we know nothing about but says he is a die-hard red and has been to Old Trafford twice? Yep thats all cool. YOU PEOPLE NEED TO THINK WITH YOUR HEADS! As i said before, if you are uncomfortable with the fact that United are a global company now, then there is always FC United down the road to take you and your family back to supporting a grass roots team. I will reiterate what i have said before. I do not care who runs United. What i care about is that the Manager is happy (Fergie has done nothing but praise how the Glazers allow him to 'just get on with it') and that they back the team in the transfer market allowing us to compete for the biggest prizes. They have ticked these boxes. I dont care that Malcolm Glazer is an ugly fucker..id rather him than an oil baron playboy like Chelsea have who could drop his whim in a second. And lets be perfectly honest. If they ever were in need to sell the club due to financial pressure would they really have a problem doing that?
My season ticket is £600. It went up £16 from last year. I can live with this. However if i supported Arsenal or Chelsea i would be paying over £1000. If the Glazers really wanted to mug our wallets i think we would be seeing them force us to pay the 'going rate' that the Londoners do...and we all know it has nothing to do with a North/South economical divide! They could also sell the rights of the stadium name for a pretty penny. But currently we do not play at the 'Mars Bar Theatre of Dreams' thankfully. But it would be a simple option for an owner wanting a quick buck to pay the debtors. I have zero love for the Glazers..for they are not Mancs..but they are just doing what Martin Edwards did to United for many many years...and yes..he was/is an Englishman. Interested in making his bank account value a tad larger. Its always better the devil you know than the devil you dont. Be very careful what any of you wish for.
Finally, Sir Ryan of Giggs won the Sports Personality award last night. Of course, the large non English contingent interested in MUFC will probably think nothing of this but it has always been a big deal in the UK. Ive been delighted how many have already vented their spleen that us United fans rigged the vote...i will admit i rang in twice! But these are the same who say he shouldn't have won Player of the Year last year, despite the fact that it was voted for by Giggsys fellow non-United playing professionals. Whatevs! The man is deserving of the award. He is a hero. A legend. When we are all dead the name Ryan Giggs will still be remembered in the same vein as Duncan Edwards, the holy trinity of Best, Law and Charlton, the managerial genius' of Busby and Ferguson and our modern day King Eric. He will forever run down that Old Trafford wing in our minds..feared by the Blues and loved by the Reds. We will NEVER forget. He will ALWAYS tear you apart...again.
So once again we wake up to a bit of a PR disaster this morning as we learn that the plug has been pulled on signing the youngster dubbed Little Kaka. Im gutted about this.
Much has been made of the young Serb Ljajic. Never before has a youngster had such a build up to joining a club, but that is the way it sort of works at United. Every deal is scrutinised in the press and to be fair, United do a lot of initiating this hype. Plenty of pictures have been released by the club over the past 12 months of Ljajic training with the first team...Ljajic cuddling up to Berbatov and Giggs at Carrington...Ljajic with a United shirt...the usual fandango that goes on when a team tries and sells to its fanbase a new player that we knew little about before last January. Youtube has been battered by hits of fans (like myself) desperate to see his skills. Im even part of a facebook group that has been following his individual development at Partizan this last year. But now, in the flick of a switch and a garbled club spokesman statement the deal is now dead.
First and foremost, if Fergie does not think this lad is worth £10 million after being able to monitor him closely for 11 months then he is of course doing the right thing. Breaking the poor lads heart now is better than him joining the club with a fanfare only for him to be slaughtered if he does not have the skills to pay the bills. But as a fan that lives and breathes this club like many of the Faithful, you cannot help but feel a little bit duped on the whole saga.
As fans we invest alot of time on the club...its an inconvenient habit most of the time. We read up on every possible transfer. We show a level of interest that is so intense that if we had all applied it at school we would all surely be doctors with lots of letters after our names now. Its a focus and dedication that you just cant buy, or switch on or off. So when things like this happen you do wonder if we should all step back a little. Should we wait for players to do it on the pitch before we pontificate about them? Maybe. Do we let go of our obsession a little so we dont feel hollow disappointment when deals like this collapse? There is a strong case for this.
I remember a few years back when United had all but signed Ronaldinho from Paris St Germain. Then United tried to haggle one too many days on the price (thanks for that Peter Kenyon) and Barca swooped. The rest is history. The cloud did have a silver lining though as we went on to sign a young Portuguese lad to play on the wing. The point is that United do not handle these things well with the press. We know how in Spain that Madrid have the power to manipulate its press in order to openly tap up players but United do not have that luxury over here. Therefore when the orchestrate deals like the one for Tosic and Ljajic, and then sell it so blatantly to the fans..well, its all a bit of a con job. Whats next? Will we dump Mame Diouf before he kicks a ball? Should we be bothered about this French boy Pogba?? We hear how great they are before thay are ACTUALLY great. It makes me feel i should be more cautious on these matters. I once told many how great Manucho was going to be after watching him perform brilliantly in the last African Nations Cup...and look what happened to him.
One thing i will add is that i 100% back the manager. If Fergie thinks he is not good enough then that is fine by me. We all know that he is human and is liable to make mistakes like us all, but he is the one that has taken this club from also-rans in the late 1980s to where we are today. Therefore, i will back him until he one day hands the keys to Old Trafford back to the Glazers. We know that he probably missed a trick with Diego Forlan and Giuseppe Rossi, but we also know that when they did get their chances in a United shirt that they generally flattered to deceive. There will always be players that slip through the net. Lets hope we dont see Ljajic in the future, performing miracles at a Madrid, or marvelling the crowds at Milan. Lets hope that Sir Alex has got this one 100% correct.
I quite like it when Fergie gets the chance to play the kids in alleged competitive matches. But there's always a part of me that defaults to believing that we will lose said match...United can never do it when there is not a lot riding on a game
So the game against Besiktas reverted to my minds type. Despite the loss to the Turkish side i think Sir Alex learned a few things about the players on the fringe..some good some bad.
As far as im concerned i am not the biggest Kiko Macheda fan on the planet. Despite scoring the goal that i described as Old Trafford's most exciting last season, the boy is far from the finished article. I have a big issue with his movement. Either he lacks the mobility of a top striker or he is just plain lazy. In my eyes he does not seem to put in the same work that Welbeck does and this is worrying. I expect mistakes from the young players but i really want to see that burning desire..
Darron Gibson is a good example of this. Plenty of application, but his lack of first team experience is gonna effect his judgement. I do not mind this (as long as that decision making is not too bad!) Its all about learning
It was nice to see Ji Sung Parky Park back in a United shirt last night. He is another one of those cogs in the machine. Not the greatest player on the planet and never will be. However, he gives us plenty of options and that is what its all about.
Anderson is starting to worry me a little. I have no doubt he is an exceptional talent, but he is finding it hard to consistently produce. Last night was a great chance for him to boss a game being watched my millions around the globe. Like Carrick, he seems to be struggling for a run in form. A player of his quality should be making mincemeat out of that Besiktas midfield. But alas, he continues just to plod along..neither being poor or great. If Fergie does get his hands on a creative midfielder sometime soon it will serious effect his chances in the first team.
One player i do love is Rafael..in fact i love Fabio as well! To be so young and yet be so fearless is a great attribute to have in the English game. As i said, i expect young players to make mistakes. It was clear last night that the young full back should have closed down the shot that led to the only goal, but his overall play for me is excellent. They are both two amazing finds and will represent the club for years to come if they can continue this rate of progression. In fact, they will probably save the club £40m in future transfer fees when the day comes to replace a Neville or Evra.
Despite the loss there was one real star of the show last night. The first impressions that Gabby Obertan have left on us are very promising. I will admit to having very little expectations of a player unable to break into Bordeaux's first team last term. However, he has been a pleasant surprise and an antidote on the wing for the hapless Nani. His silky approach reminds of a young Zidane (though that is a BIG comparison!!) Effortless, yet very quick. Could he be United's version of Thierry Henry? I think good things are to come from him. There's a buzz everytime he gets the ball, and he and Evra already have a great understanding.
Last night showed me that we probably need to get our hands on an extra central striker come January, and should let Welbeck and Kiko out on loan to get game minutes under their belts. The two are nowhere near good enough for regular Premier League starts at the mo..it has not gone a miss to the Old Trafford Faithful that neither seem to even make the bench week in, week out.
So yes, we know we have some potential stars in the Reserve team. Whether any will make it in the first team is still to be decided.
The guilty look on Drogba's face sort of says it all....
Its difficult to not just 'go off on one' when you write immediate after a match. My writings are not 'match reports' as some other blogtastic peoples claim to write. They are a reaction to whats just happened on a green pitch. Its not my duty to tell you what has happened..you have Google news for that.
Today, we saw that United are far from being the spent force that everyone on Planet Football seems to think. In fact, the performance level was way above anything i would have expected today. But once again we come out of a Premier League match with huge question marks over refereeing decisions. It is getting boring...dull as dishwater.
Its easy to have 'a pop' at the ref when you lose...we've all been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. But when you are writing up a 'reaction' to a game, it is an emotional response...so here goes. Today we saw that incompetence is sometimes the only way to separate two teams, and I'm not talking about anything the players did. The decision to firstly give Ashley Cole a free-kick for some amateur dramatics (and yes he is an Englishman..who allegedly don't do that...tish!) and then not give a free-kick against Drogba for hauling down Wesley Brown...AND THEN not give an offside for a player who is 6 yards in front of the goal attempting to get his toe on the end of the ball....well.....its all just beyond me. I wont go into John Terry hauling down Valencia for a stonewall penalty in front of the Assistant Referee or the fact that Rooney was called offside early in the game when one on one with Cech, where replays show him clearly onside. Nope..not talkin''bout that. Crap.
I could go on about this subject day and night, but i wont. Just one more point. His decisions for some of the bookings were also crass...what exactly was Drogba booked for? Oh yes..getting a foot in the chest from Jonny Evans. A foul by the Chelsea man but not a card. It is all just borderline shambolic rubbish and soaked in ridicule. But lets not use it as a smokescreen for a defeat as it is not worthy or needed.
It is the best United have played this season, though Fergie proclaimed after that it was not as "it was a defeat" The midfield has not run so efficiently since last season. Darren Fletcher was described by Jamie Redknapp (on Sky Sports) as "the most improved player in Europe" I totally agree. His energy is vital to us. The boy has truly earned a place in the heart of the United fanbase purely from his application and his big pair of youknowwhats in his shorts. He is now our dog of war. Anderson also grew in confidence through the match and fought hard. Carrick...well...im not 100% on him at the mo. He has had three tremendous years at the club, but if Hargreaves gets back fit and well, he is the one that loses out at the minute...that's life.
Rooney looked isolated at times on his own but he worked hard. His link play was good but not wholly effective. Id have liked to have seen him start wide left and let Owen have a go through the middle. As some of you know im not from the school which think Roo must start right up top every match. Its very easy in hindsight but Giggs did not do enough for me today and Roos muscle wide would have added to Chelsea's woe.
Overall i am equally as delirious about the performance as i am gutted about the defeat. Chelsea have been excellent recently but i think we have shown that if you get in and about their midfield that you can hurt them. I'm sure they will drop points over the Christmas period and give us an inch back at them. If we can get up that level of intensity every week then we will be very close to a fourth straight league title. I am very buoyed by what i have seen today.
Fergie said afterwards that the players were "sat in the dressing room wondering is it is all worth it with refereeing like that" I think that that injustice may just serve us well in weeks to come. We always play well when we think the world is against us. Its the Manchester United siege mentality.
Its never over in November. Our best is yet to come. Glory glory.
There was a ton of 'football tourists' in the stadium. The name given by the Faithful to worldwide fans that manage to get a ticket on these sort of nights. The guys behind us screamed for 'G Nev!'repeatedly (as they seem to think Gary Neville is nicknamed) but didn't know the words to 'Take me home United Road', so it sort of just turned into a random screaming affair rather than a good ol' Manchester singalong. Bizarre really.
That aside, the oddness in the stands was reflected on the pitch. I was interested to see if all the hype about Akinfeev was justified. The Ben Foster nightmares of the last few months have heightened the call for a new keeper when the hardwired battery in Van Der Sars retro body finally fails. Well, the Russian boy didn't disappoint. He was simply stunning.
A number of top class saves in the second half must have left Fergie salivating. At ten million quid for a 22 year old the temptation to land him before the World Cup must be great. But the manager has great faith in Foster. I get the funny feeling that he is still leaning towards the England man as Edwin's future successor...something that will not leave me sleeping well at night!
The game itself was mental. United dominated in virtually every part of the pitch. CSKA looked dangerous from the counter attack in almost the first few minutes but nothing that special. Their first and third goals were a result of some soft defending, and like it or not, Van der Sar should have done better with both, failing to anticipate two shots close to his body and somehow not getting a touch on either. Big fail. The second Russian goal was a sweet move and the impressive Milos Krasic rounded the Dutch keeper and finished with aplomb. Expect to see him plying his trade in the Prem next year.
United's first goal was taken well by Michael Owen. The expectation on him from the fans is greater than on any other player on the pitch when he plays...yes even more than on Rooney. We all have this ideal that every chance that falls to him he should finish...because..because he is Michael Fricking Owen! Its not really a great reason is it? But Ive got great confidence in him. I'm dying for Fergie to start him more. Our second was well taken by Scholsey, who had an indifferent performance in the centre again, but nailed his header into the top corner. And Valencia's goal? Well...a bit of Stretford End luck id say.
The other flash point was the Darren Fletcher 'Im Not Fcuking Ronaldo' moment, when the ref booked him for a dive. It was a blatant penalty, and the manager has called it "the worst decision he has ever seen". Yes, it was that bad. The trip was right in front of us. We didn't even think there was a decision to be made!
Special praise needs to go to Gary Neville..ahem...G Nev! who rolled back the years and seems to be on a diet of some magic renaissance juice, or something at the moment. It was a brilliant right back display, and Glen Johnson should fear greatly for his England first team spot. If Nev can play like this week in week out, he will be on the plane to South Africa, mark my words. I am surprised as anyone to see his performances this season. He is a man of steel and thunder. Bloody hell, can you imagine Becks and Nev playing together again at a World Cup! No one would have bet a penny on that. Obertan also looked useful with his cameo, and Valencia worked hard all night on the wing. On the downside, Nani was once again an absent mess. If he was a cat he surely is on life number nine now.
So the knock outs are but a formality now. I pray for Real Madrid. Bring them to the Theatre please.
Manchester United have been nothing but mediocre of recent. Therefore, we will be beaten at Stamford Bridge next Sunday..mark my words.
Now some United fans may find those words hard to stomach, especially as they come from a person that gets to twenty five games a season. But i like to call things honestly. Its not being a pessimist, in this case (which i am at times) Its just a reality check.
United have been average at best this season. I think some of our creative play has been as attractive as ever, but our final ball this term has been shocking. Delivery from the wide areas is almost non-existent. Valencia has shown glimpses and I'm willing to reserve judgement on him this year. Nani, as we know, is a bag of fcuked up crap. I cant wait to see the back of him. I was so excited when he joined..i could see the talent he had. But the boy has mental problems. His brain and his feet simply do not have any relationship at all. He is the football version of our banking system.
Rooney and Berba must be incredibly disillusioned by the service this year. For me, the Bulgarian has come on alot since August. His workrate has improved. He is even celebrating goals (sort of!)Rooney has not excelled yet, but you always have faith in the Scouse boy. I also think there is great things to come from Michael Owen. He looks sharp. His movement is impressive. But the supply line from the midfield has been woeful. In fact, the protection of the defence from midfield has been crass too! I think we can see where the problems lie at the moment
Michael Carrick and Anderson seem to have one good game, where things click and they boss opponents, and then one game where they cannot find a decent pass between the two of them. Both end up looking knackered after about the hour mark, and this leaves the defence vulnerable to counters and the attack isolated. The only player in the central position that seems worth his Red Devils status is Darren Fletcher (God! I never thought id be saying that just a few short years ago!)
Now we all know we cant wait til Owen Hargreaves gets his boots back on, but i feel that we should not be relying on him. We know he is a colossal player, but the boy has been out for so long that it would be unfair to pin all of our hopes on his dodgy knees.
So what to do? Well, its clear to me that the manager MUST spend in January. Maybe not excessively as the popular press would love him to do, but on players that give us an extra option or two. Luis Alberto Suarez has been mentioned recently. The captain of Ajax is only 22 and has scored 95 times in 167 games for club and country. However, he would cost around the £30m mark. But he is equal parts lethal hitman and intelligent provider. This video shows all that:
Whatever happens in January, i feel that transfer ban or not, Chelsea are streets ahead of us this season. I feared that Drogba was up for a big one this year and i was right. The striking monster has looked unstoppable at times. When he plays well, Chelsea win. I also think that despite their 'aging' midfield, they are imperious at the moment in these positions. Lampard, Ballack, Essien, Deco, Joe Cole...its pretty scary just saying that all out loud! Their defence, like ours, is the same old same old. However their defence seems solid at the moment despite their two recent defeats, whereas ours seems to have paper thin confidence issues, as Vidic continues to have the recurring Torres nightmares, and Rio wants to win an Oscar for Best Director or something. Worrying.
So yes, i think we will fluff our lines at Stamford Bridge. In all honesty we are not in a position to beat them this coming Sunday.....but funnier things have happened
I think there is little doubt that we would all love the opportunity to spend the Ronaldo war chest of money for Sir Alex. It would be a pleasure. We would all pick a David Silva here, maybe a David Villa there. Some would plump for precocious talent such as Alexi Sanchez, or Douglas Costa. I would love any of those guys!
But at the moment ive got my scouting eye on one less fashionable player
Two years back i felt that United needed a 'big man' striker. A sort of Emile Heskey, but not completely shit. The comparison with the Villa player may well have given the ghost away as to whom im interested in! Well, two years ago that man was Dean Ashton. I crowed on about him day and night to my friends. Its not the fact that United essential need a big traditional striker, as we do not really play like that. However, it would be nice to have the option! The game at Anfield yesterday proved this. There is nothing wrong with employing a striker that can link and hold up play. A certain manager of Manchester City used to do it splendidly for us. But we have never had a power laden striker since Mark Hughes. We've had talisman like Cantona and Sheringham. We've had predators like Van Nistlerooy and Andy Cole. And we have had the flair merchants like Rooney and Dwight Yorke.
But i really want United to have that OPTION..just the possibility
Well two years on, and despite Dean Ashton scoring a magnificent overhead kick in front of the Stretford End that left Fergie and us drooling (he received a standing ovation for his goal), his career appears over after a shattered ankle. So the search starts again for big man, but with very good feet to match. Amazingly we only have to look as far as to the bloke occupying Ashton's old role at West Ham
For me, Carlton Cole is the most improved striker in the Premier League in the last 12 months. When he was at Chelsea they thought he had the talent to lead their frontline for many years to come. After sending him out on several unsuccessful loan deals they rightfully changed their mind. Good feet yes. Hit a barn door from 10 feet no.
A year ago i would not entertain the sight of Cole in a United shirt. But over time i have (and am still) changing my mind. His short cameos for England show a player that oozes confidence, skill and power. And his strike rate for a poor Hammers side is respectable. I wouldn't bring him in to be the primary striker at United, but assessing what we already have in Rooney, Owen and Berbatov, the squad is crying out for a fourth addition to the striking positions. Yes, Macheda and Wellbeck may be those players in the future, but the Manager's selection this season provides evidence that he does not see that as an option yet.
How good could Owen be feeding off a player that held the ball up well? Berba and Roo do not function well doing this. How interesting would it be to see a midfield three with wingers and some power up front. For a club like United it should at least be an option, but today it isn't. There may well be a premium to pay for Cole as he is English, but the bill would be well short of £20m. We could plump for Wolfsburg's Dzeko, but with the player nationality quota coming in i do not think it would be too clever.
Carlton Cole may not be the big name we all crave post Tevez & Ron. But football is sometimes about function. Functionality is what lost us the game against Liverpool and Burnley. It is the reason we lost the Champions League final to Barca. Im not saying lets lose our beautiful style of playing. Im just saying lets add a bit of power to it, allowing Berba and Roo to do all the fancy tricks and flicks.
He may not sell bucket-loads of shirts, but he could be our missing link.
Most disappointing thing about the match for me was that we allowed them to be more aggressive than us. Rio and Vidic looked shite scared of Torres. In fact, Ferdinand's challenge on the Spaniard for the goal was both weak and pointless. Ive defended him alot recent weeks but not anymore. He has to stand up now and be counted. He is a senior player and must improve his form.
Vidic also looks way short of his best. His first yellow was never a card but the ref had no choice for the second.
The score does not flatter Liverpool's performance on the day. Their midfield engine room out worked Carrick and Scholes..we just dont look like the same side without a bit of muscle. Owen Hargreaves will walk straight back into the team if he can stay fit. Maybe Fergie was right to sit on the £80m treasure chest and see how things pan out. The ginger genius is not good enough for these huge games anymore..im thinking David Silva? Modric? Players that will add that killer pass.
It appears the Scousers have the hex over us at the mo. We had no spark when going forward...i dont think we had a proper shot for 70 minutes. Roo looked like a player coming back from an injury and Berba's first touch was not as good as it can be. Only United player that can come out of the match with any credibility is Van Der Sar, who looked like a thousand Ben Fosters.
We have now let this pretty average side back into the title race, but more importantly it is an incentive to Arsenal to catch the pack. Todays performance was very much like the Champions League final against Barca...just a lack of energy and crispness. I accept that we will lose games through a season, but this performance will leave a bitter taste on the end of the tongue for a little while.
Dont you just hate football sometimes....im off for a good cry.
The team was finally in a silverware ascent after decades in the doldrums. Liverpool's grip of all things trophy-like was slipping, but there was no doubt as to who still held the bragging rights. As United experienced relegation in the 70s, the Scousers were going out in their own merry way winning multiple European Cups and any other competition they played in. They were the best. Were.
In 1994, Liverpool still felt they were the best. The cabinet was packed full of their glory. They felt that it would only be a short time that they would be on top again. We had Eric Cantona, but they had the 'Spice Boys'...Fowler, Redknapp. McManaman et al. They had also nabbed a certain young teenage talent, who had trained with United's youth academy...his name was Michael Owen. The future looked bright. So in good football tradition, they unveiled a makeshift banner to 'rub it in' a bit more. All that needed to be added was a pound of salt to the open wound.
The banner unveiled by Kopites that day is the stuff of legend to the Faithful now. It read the immortal phrase:
"Au revoir Cantona, come back when you've got 18 titles".
Well now its time to come back.
2009 is as equally important to us Red Devils as 1994 was. It has taken a mere 15 seasons to catch up with a record that, as a child i was told, would never be caught. United now have parity with Liverpool. Now the challenge is for who can get to number nineteen first.
Inspite of Liverpool's shocking destruction of us at Old Trafford last year, the fact is we still won the league. We can never irradicate that defeat. Many thought it was the turning of the tide..the passing of the baton back along the M62 motorway. The day that Liverpool turned up in United's backyard, to stomp their old, nearly forgotten authority on us...Rafa wasn't crazy at all..he was a genius!
Only a few months on since that day United have indeed claimed title 18, and have been to a second consecutive Champions League final. Liverpool totter on the brink of disaster after a string of defeats. They have an uphill task to qualify out of the Euro group stages, and sit below Sunderland in the league table. Benitez has stuck a noose around his neck, and has asked Sir Alex if he has got the skill to be the final executioner. Sounds all very dramatic? But it really is of the Spaniard's making. This is his screenplay. He wrote his fate.
A win for United would be a huge step toward title number 19. It may only be October and there will still be so much football to play. But would a crushing defeat be the final straw for Gilette and Hicks?
Tomorrow marks the day when we can return to Anfield to answer that banner of 1994. There will be no beachballs from us. However, there will be a cacophony of masks worn in honour of that banner. And those masks will be of one man:
The genius French Number 7 they left an open invitation for to return when his club met their challenge.
We still sing Eric's songs today. And that FACT is the biggest answer we can give the Scouse in response to their hollow bragging back in the 90's. We stepped up to the impossible challenge. Eric started the (beach)ball rolling.
So lets all become Eric for this game. It is a historic day that nobody in football thought would be possible back in 1994..certainly not me! We may win, lose or draw at Anfield on Sunday, but we should still celebrate the fact about how far the modern day Manchester United has come.
We all stood downstairs by the televisions before the game. This was because the game from Villa Park was being shown live. A bit of pre match entertainment we all thought. The game was exciting. Every heroic tackle by Villa's defenders was greeted with a cheer as if it were Rio or Vida. We felt the anticipation as Freidel made important saves. Surely it couldn't be? They were not going to lose AGAIN?
The final whistle led to joyous clapping and cheering, and a brief scream in the name of Martin ONeill. I wondered if one day we would be cheering ONeill as our manager. Who knows. We all skipped up the stairs to our seats. We were ready for a mauling.
United played some excellent stuff in the game. The passing was crisp and accurate. Giggs and Valencia owned the wing positions. It was the first time that Valencia truly showed what he MAY have to give to United. Strong, powerful and quick. Always willing to take his man on. Super un-nani-like. It was no surprise when we took the lead after Michael Owen cleverly deflected his header of Zat Knight. We were ready for a mauling.
Valencia's goal was excellent. Some good link play by Owen set the Ecuadorian off. He played a neat one-two with our skipper Nev (making a rare start) and the boy finished with aplomb. At 2-0, we were ready for a massive massive mauling!
But it never came.
Some of our passing was golden. Carrick and Anderson generally dominated the middle with the ball at their feet. However, it was a crude combination of a lazy Anderson tackle and a weak clearance from Nev which gifted Wanderers a way back into the game. Fitness has never been an issue at United, but it seems to be at the moment. The Brazilian midfielder in particular seemed to go from all action in the first hour, to totally on a different planet for the last half hour. I vented my spleen at him as he half hearted put a leg out to stop the Bolton player as he drove forward in the play that ended with a goal. It is not acceptable. Yes Neville made a mistake with his clearance, but Anderson just let him go...it reminded me so much of the Champions League final, as Iniesta skipped past him. He needs to sort that out, or he will be playing second fiddle to Owen Hargreaves very very soon.
We had to batten down the hatches as Bolton did their best 'Crazy Gang' Wimbledon stylee impression and sent high balls into the box. Thankfully it didn't work...just! A win is a win, and we all clapped the two teams off the pitch. Then..the scores came up on the board
Sunderland 1 Liverpool 0
The place went mad for 5 seconds. We then all skipped down the stairs to ground level, talking about what a great couple of hours it had been!
In the end Bolton will feel they could have had a point, but probably didn't deserve it as Megson admitted after the match (very big of him) It was promising to see the team playing some good football. All we need is a few additional goals now and we will be flying. Whether we will be entirely ready for a war at Anfield next week is still yet to be seen. The Scouse will be licking their wounds after 'Beachballgate' and they always play better against the big teams. Plus I'm sure they will unwrap Gerrard and Torres from the huge balls of cotton wool they are currently wrapped in to try and grab the points.
We know that United V City is the real Manchester derby, but Us V Liverpool is the true grudge match...the Super Classico of English football. And it is only a week a way.
The previous few months of footie banter have involved one topic that all United fans have an opinion about. The sort of opinion that is akin to a Marmite debate. Love it. Hate it. That subject is about who needs to wear Van Der Sar's pants when he is permanently unavailable
For me, it had to be Ben Foster. I defended him vehemently. Told people to wait and see. I told people about his former career as an outfield player, and how this made his kicking game amazing. How he tactically understood the role of the back four, and of course, his boundless confidence in his own ability.
Well its fair to say i have egg all over my face. Thank you Ben.
In the ten matches Foster has played for United this season he has unequivocally gone from almost defo United and England number one select, to sticking his reputation and career on the proverbial scrapheap. Its almost unimaginable to think how far his stock has fallen in just a couple of months - like he has gone into some unpredicted recession with a Wall Street crash around the corner and an economic goalkeeping depression to look forward to. He has absolutely blown 'it', whatever 'it' maybe.
Frankly I am shocked, but i shouldn't be surprised. He will be yet another butterfingered merchant in a long line of Post-Schmeichelist players who have failed to live up to the pressure of producing week to week uber-performance standards. Think Fabien Barthez, Think Mark Bosnich, Think Massimo Tiabi...actually don't!
The boy has talent I'm sure, but for me he is more Robert Green than Edwin Van Der Sar. If Foster was at a West Ham, his odd mistake would not get highlighted in the way it does at United. I watched Green concede a goal on his near post against Liverpool the other week, and all i heard was how great Torres was for scoring the toe poked smash and grab. No criticism was levelled at the keeper, despite the fact that he should of had the basic of 'covering the near post' within his remit that day. So for Foster's sake, maybe he should go to a team outside the big four, that is if he has true World Cup ambitions.
I think he has blown his chance at United now. SAF traditionally has had no record of patience with keepers in the past so why should he start now? The only worry is i do not see a glut of marquee goalies plying their trade around the world at the mo. Once upon a time there would always be 6 or 7 number ones who you would admire from afar, but i cant think of any at the moment. I would not be surprised if Fergie goes for an aged, experienced trooper, as he did when he nabbed Edwin from Fulham. Someone who has been there and done it already. Has that experience vital to playing at the highest level every week.
I feel empathy for Foster, but i have little sympathy. This was always gonna be the making or breaking of him. Its just sad that he didn't have that extra vavavoom when he got his wondrous chance.
The reason why i sit and write these words today is in response to his comments made after the West Ham game. You know..that game where he was so polite as to score two goals in front of their fans only to put his hand up, say sorry and proceed to embrace the East London boys in a proverbial fluffy cuddle. Ah bless them all. That's how football should be....
Actually, it is all smoke and mirrors
Mr T has come out in these comments, and taken the opportunity to have his final swipe at Manchester United. He has turned the whole situation about the transfer of his flesh and bones to Man City on its horrible head.
The hoar said:
"I've decided not to celebrate my goals out of respect to West Ham. They were my first club in England and, in my heart, part of me will always be a Hammer,The professional part of me was really pleased with my first City goals at home but, personally, I would have preferred to beat another club. In the derby against United I had also decided not to celebrate our goals but, after the bad treatment I received from the supporters that day, I have changed my stance on that. If I score in the next derby then I am sure that I will celebrate."
Well thank you very much Carlitos. Your lack of understanding about the situation shines for all to see. Of course, the United haters will love this (and lets face it your new fan club fit this profile) You are a populist. You will say whatever it takes to please those paying your wages. You are the worst kind of prostitute. The one that smiles with glee as you take your money for your acts of filth.
Im soooooo glad he has finally come out with this. I was waiting for it so much. Neutrals have pointed the finger at us (United fans) for treating him bad, but respect is a two way street. If West Ham and their simpleton stance on "honour" and all of that stuff, want to clap Tevez for taking points of them (that may end up relegating them?) then that is their choice. Im sure they are all writing letters of gratitude as we speak.
So for the last time Tev, goodbye. You have bastardised every run you ever made for United. Every goal you ever scored. All that passion you wore on your sleeve was just a paid act. You make us feel dirty
Im so glad i boo-ed the f$ck out of you last week. Slag.
There is alot of bravado spoken when the subject of our football team's home is mentioned. The title 'Theatre of Dreams' (dubbed by Bobby Charlton) was once embarrassingly mentioned by fans in the late 1980's. The two words 'theatre' and 'dreams' were a million miles away from hooligan England in those days, where the reality was standing behind taller than man fences, getting sopping wet from Manchester's latest rainstorm, and maybe drinking a Bovril with a meat pie accompaniment. It was no visit to a theatre, and the only dreams we felt were a wish to beat Liverpool twice a year, and maybe end up with an FA Cup. Not such heady, dreaming days...
2010 marks the one hundredth anniversary of Old Trafford. One hundred years of Manchester United owning the keys to the doors. During that time it has been bombed by the Nazis, rebuilt from the ashes, then extended and expanded many times over stacking the stadium's build high up into the heavens. It stands above this Greater Manchester borough like a work of art. Modern engineering meets architectural beauty. It shelters all seventy six thousand, two hundred and twelve of us in perfection as we sing and dance and scream, like a pack of tribal monkeys. It truly is a theatre that puts on the most fantastic performances of dream-making wonder.
My first game at the ground was a (now defunct) Full Members Cup tie versus Everton. I was ten years old and just getting the football bug. The game was awful. I sat there with my mother, not really feeling 'it'. Then, in the last minute of the match, Gordon Strachan popped up out of nowhere, buried the ball and stole the game for us (remember, Everton were the bigger better team then!) It all clicked in my head at that moment. I understood everything.
Subsequent years passed, and i would make the two hundred mile coach journey to Old Trafford countless times, staying with our Mancunian family in the Tameside area. As i got older i would go to games on my own. In 1993 i was a sixth form college boy of 17. I would sit outside of the turnstile from 10am, five hours before kick off..these were the days that you simply qued up and paid at the gate. The earlier you got there, the better your choice of viewing. On those concrete floors i would make friends with whoever was sat with me..we were only united by our team and not our race, religion or demographic, but it superseded cultural matters. We understood everything.
I still get that Old Trafford buzz as a thirty three year old. The one i got as a kid. Without being too introspective, all of those joys we let go of as we pass from child to adulthood are relinquished without a second thought as well allegedly mature. We forget what it was like when we were more innocent. Going to Old Trafford ALWAYS reminds me of those times. That breathy excitement i felt as a kid. That trigger lives in all of us. We just need something to flick that switch. We let go of too much as the years pass. Muscle memory dictates that we should not let go of everything.
I personally hope United never leave Old Trafford. In a time where Liverpool are planning to bulldozer down Anfield, and Arsenal have turned the Art Deco masterpiece of Highbury into a block of flats, I hope our home stands as a reminder of the history of the club and our achievements in the sport of football. It IS a work of art. Because works of art are supposed to invoke something in you. An emotion. A memory. I am one of the lucky ones that get to feel that every couple of weeks or so. I sit in tier three, and i am a child once again. I'm not prepared to let that go. Not in this lifetime.
So thank you dear old stadium. Thank you for all the things i have witnessed within your boundaries...that Gordon Strachan goal. Neil Webb volleying in from 30 yards as we destroyed then champions Arsenal. Roy Keane scoring two on his home debut versus Sheffield United, and sliding on his knees directly in front of me. Ruud Van Nistlerooy beating the whole Fulham defence on his own to score a wonder goal. Slamming seven past Roma. Rooney's last minute goal to slay Milan. Scholes' blockbuster to beat Barca. Macheda's last minute curler against Villa. Our dramatic five goals in twenty minutes last season against Spurs. Owen's amazing second of beautiful clarity versus City. Thanks for all of it.
Happy birthday dearest Trafford...you may well have been Old for a long time now, but you are sure to outlast all of us.
This week in England, its been all about Adebayor, and that "kick in the face" and that "kneeslide after doing the 100 metres in 10.07 seconds" Fans and pundits alike have not stopped going on about it, for it is the sort of incident that feeds pub-talk
This weekend sees the possible return of Carlitos Tevez to the Theatre. The stage on which he was much adored (more that Ronaldo) and where he shed blood and sweat for the cause. However, we all know how it ended up. He is now a Bitter Blue, albeit a very well paid one.
Tevez has stated that he expects a good reception if he plays. I think he is wrong.
I do not hold any personal grudge against the man, but i am partisan. Former players have left United and come back the following season to rounds of applause. Just recently when we hosted Arsenal, when Micky Silvestre's name was read out as a sub, the stadium warmly clapped its collective hands (rather than the boos that were reserved for every other Gooner) Andy Cole always got a great reception at OT, as did Bryan Robson when he would lead out Middlesborough or West Brom as manager. United legends or players that gave many years of service always get a pat on the back from us (bar maybe Paul Ince)
So should a player that played 22 months for us get a great reception?
Yes he played a big part in the winning of the European Cup in 2008. That will be remembered more fondly in years to come. On the last day of last season i stood with many others as he was substituted and boo-ed my heart out...this was not a slant at Sir Alex, as the tabloids reported the next day, but we were genuinely sad that we knew he would never wear the red shirt again, and he would probably end up playing down the road for a rival. We didn't like it, so we boo-ed...before screaming and clapping and singing "Ar-gen-tina" "Fergie sign him up" & "Our Superstar Tevez" one more time. It was very emotional. As i left the ground i thought about buying a Tevez shirt from the brilliant bootleg t shirt sellers outside the stadium, but opted not to.
The reason i opted not was that, as i briskly walked up Sir Matt Busby Way, i considered how i would feel if i saw him in a Liverpool, Chelsea or City shirt next season. I didn't like the taste in my mouth. So I looked at the t shirts long and hard, and turned my back, heading off to my car. I would never wear it so why buy it? However, if he was retiring, or going back to Boca or the like, id have paid my tenner and got one.
The fact is Tevez has severed the artery that linked him to us. He wanted the cash cow, he signed his name and skipped into the arms of the Arabians. Fair enough. But I personally want to boo the fcuker out of sight. He means nothing to me now. I will not applaud him if i see him in that pale sky blue rag of a top. I will not clap him if he does a mini lap of honour, thinking the Stretford End gives two shits about him. He plays for one of our biggest rivals now. He has to take it on the chin. I feel more venom toward Tevez than i do towards Ron. We got eighty million big ones for him, and Real were his boyhood dream..plus in Spain, he is out of sight, out of mind..fickle i know. Tevez is here, in our faces. Laughing his head off with all the other mercenaries playing for a team he probably did not know existed a few years ago. That is HIS choice. And it is MY choice to show my contempt at his choice.
So whatever reception he gets on Sunday may well and truly be up for debate still. But the fact is I will scream and whistle in his face, throwing and rotating my red and white scarf above the top of my head. I will sing United songs until my throat bleeds and we will let him know what the red half of Manchester thinks..
Why? Cos i want him to fail and us to succeed. We take no prisoners. Glory glory Man United. We'll never die, we'll never die..
The lyric that Morrissey once sang has so many connotations when framing the picture of a city, ravaged at times by poverty and crime, but also glory and prosperity. After stealing the crown of "Second City"[to London]from the head of Birmingham, Manc Town now has two of the richest clubs in world football.
Growing up, Manchester City were always the poorer relation, and they used to revel in the fact. "Were from the city, you're not" "You eat prawn sandwiches, we eat kebabs (or McDonalds - take yer pick)." "We represent Moss Side and the real Manchester" The blue rhetoric was endless. So the bridge of irony that Arab funded City now pass over is not lost on me in the slightest.
The bags of cash now well and truly stashed at Eastlands has given this derby game a new twist. The luring of Tev (though he wont be there) The snatching of Robinho (Oh he wont be there either) And the swoop for the knee slider Adebayor (that's right..wont be there either I'm afraid) All great acquisitions for a club intent on making a statement. Their destruction of the Arsenal's Ladies team was very impressive, even if the scoreline slightly flattered them. All the same, a win against a big four-ish team is a win.
I cant wait for this game. Old Trafford will be rocking for this. I will be hoarse after the first ten minutes of singing and chest beating. The fact that City can now stand on some sort of parity with us is a disadvantage to them. As the true underdog, they never had anything to lose. This has shown in results that have gone their way in recent memory. In fact, nearly seven years ago, after the birth of my daughter, me and my City loving family had a bet as her first match in this world (6 days after her birth) was Utd v City..the bet was whoever won, she would have to support (no choice in these things you see) Anyhow, the morning of the match i called off all bets. I got the jitters. And lucky for me and her, the Goat got fed (as City used to sing) and they wiped the floor with us and drove us to defeat. She is now as Red as they come, and believes that Eric Cantona was some mythical warrior who strode upon our land to slay all the evil that lay in his path...or something like that..
This is Manchester City's real test. If they win this they really have ARRIVED! My opinion is that they will challenge this season. Their talented ranks dictate this. But for every City fan, there has only been one tie that really matter to them over the years...and it is the derby match. Win, and they will truly believe. Lose, and they may just think that its been all a dream
Well the Champions League is back, and it felt rather good! The tension is so different to a Prem game..it is almost like a different sport!
Anyhow, every game seems to be throwing up interesting debatable issues with concerns with the team. The manager is definitely leaning toward a formation which compliments our game with out and out wingers, something we copyrighted in the 90s. And it seems that his initial faith is in Valencia and Nani to fill these rolls
Last night explained many things about these two players, and most of these facts are already on the table
Valencia showed great promise. He got to the bye-line on numerous occasions. His pace and strength are fantastic attributes, but his crossing leaves alot to be desired. You can see that he has genuine intent..not a show pony in any sense
And talking of show ponies lets talk about the left side
We are only but a handful of games into the season and i want to shoot Nani! The boy has an obvious gift. Pace to burn and a blistering shot. However, he has an addiction to running down dark alleyways he cant get out of. His decision making isn't as so much poor, but non existent. When he doesn't know when to pass or shoot, he merely tries a step-over and then loses possession. I bet Sir Alex does his nut everytime.
I know its probably unfair on the boy a bit..for i am impatient. But i know the game (as we all do!!) If he does not magically sort his brain out, which results in him becoming a totally different player, i think his goose is cooked in a United shirt. I so want him to do well, but he totally does my head in every match. He gives me KieranRichardsonitise. Painful.
At least with Valencia i can see the simple things he needs to improve on, which with time he will. They are not fundamental changes in his football like Nani. I can see Nani going off to a Villareal, like Forlan or Rossi, and doing really well...a place where the pressure is off and his flair will drive everything. He can lose the ball as much as he likes, as long as he gives their fans something to sing about once in a while. They will love his backflips. But in our team, every mistake is under a microscope. It wont be written about but his woefully bad decision not to pass to Evra on a counter attack in the last minute of the match nearly cost us dearly, as Besiktas exploited our left back position and whipped in a ball that no one converted in-spite of out foxing Vidic. I wanted to punch the plasma at that point.
Im not starting a witch hunt on this. I want the kid to do well. But i don't want us to suffer because of it. I do not see Nani driving us to any silverware anytime soon. He is our Ryan Babel. If Fergie does not fancy Zoran Tosic either, i hope the chequebook comes out in January for Alexi Sanchez. He is the answer for the left hand side for me..
The one singular thing that pleased me most about yesterdays win at the Spurs of Hot was the goal and subsequent performance of the boy Anderson
Many Manc eyebrows were raised when United paid near on £20m for the Brazilian youngster from Porto, but it excited me. Id had a taste of player via some crap Eurosport programme that season before and liked what i saw. A dynamic bustling player..part Edgar Davids, part Paul Scholes. Progressive and cunning. I felt that maybe he could be the flair player we needed in the middle and that he could succeed where Juan Veron had failed.
We all know he has had some great performances in the Number 8 shirt in the past two years, but we all feel he needs to step up this season. No goals for a "player with an eye for goal" is not good enough. We know there's been some rumblings behind the scenes, with Anderson throwing a strop after being left out of the Community Shield team, and alleged fall outs with the Boss, but its all storms in very small tea cups really
His performance yesterday wasn't flawless, but it suggested enough to re-light that confidence i felt in him the previous 2 years. I still feel that by the time he is 23 he may well be the best central midfielder in the world. I hope I'm not jinxing him!! The goal was significant. His technique is such that he should be working the keeper more. Anyone that watches the warm up before games at Old Trafford (yes i am a sad case) will know that his shooting practicing is quite spectacular. Displays of power and an amazing ability to curl the ball, dictate that this boy has a special talent..he nails the ball past Van Der Sar, Foster and Kuszczak more times than any other player before a match..including Wazza. If he somehow manages to transfer this pre-game form into real situations, he will get double figures this season.
So, its a good first showing from our Samba dancing boy wonder. Lets hope he really does sh%t on Fabragas this season, as his song goes that we sing at Old Trafford, from the top of Tier 3
dis·ease (d-zz) n. 1. A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms. 2. A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful. 3. Obsolete Lack of ease; trouble.
I would love England to win the World Cup as much as the next man. To see Rooney dance around a South African pitch with that little golden trophy would be a delight. The feel good factor in England would be immeasurable and we would party like its 1999 (as Prince once sang about)
Us Manchester United fans have been accused of many things in the past. Arrogance correctly being one of those. The one you hear most is how we do not care about the England team (as we used to sing about Ronaldo "making England look shite!"). And in part, this is also true. The river runs deep when it comes to cheering on players that almost every day of the week you wouldn't throw your bottle of Evian on if they were on fire across the street.
That may sound harsh, but it is a huge part of what is the "real" English disease.
And that disease is named 'Apathy'
When England play i always want them to win. But i do not have the same gusto in the lead up to the game as i do with United. There is no silly superstitions. No having to sit in a certain place, wear a certain shirt and pants combo. No nerves. No expectations. As we know England have let us all down on far too many occasions to list here, but the important thing is that those defeats are not the reason for this apathy [towards the national side]
I live my life, like many others, wanting to see the failure of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, et al.(Its called competitiveness!) So therefore I have zero love for Gerrard, Lampard, Terry, and erm...cant think of an Arsenal Englishman...oh! Walcott! Therefore it is difficult to cheer them on even for the National Team. Yes i want them to score. I have been known to say "Great goal Stevie G" or the like, and clapped my hands like an enthusiastic seal (The animal, not the Kiss From a Rose singer)
As i said, i want England to do well.
The problem is passion. For both fans and the players.
It irks me so, when i see players like Steven Gerrard play so casually for England. Why does he not reproduce his Liverpool superhero form for the country? It is probably because he is human, and like the supporters like me..also alleged humans, it is just so hard to get 100% enthused by the English side.
Another symptom of the disease is the way people bemoan the national side. It is painful. If England were an animal, the RSPCA would be brought in due to reasons of cruelty. If the national team were to win the World Cup, Nobel Peace Prize and Grand National all in one year, all people would want to talk about (in this country) would be Becks' new tattoo or about some WAG's new hairstyle. This is another part of the disease. Winning just isn't enough for the English..we love a good ol'soap opera..the ups and the many downs. It is "Eastenders Culture"... If it doesn't taste bad, we get suspicious. If there isn't a villain, its just not pantomime enough for us.
In part i blame the FA and Premier League football for this apathy. The focus in this country is all about club football. We play too many club games. If we had a 32 game season we could actually have time for the England side. The players could have more time together..the same as other national sides do (See South America for examples) We do not nurture and encourage this togetherness. For as we know, any sort of nationalism is frowned upon in today's society, as idiots think it fosters racism or the like. But money is king. So we will continue to play a billion league and cup games a season, and that is where all the excitement will lay.
And being brutally honest i do not mind! I have part of that disease..
I support United. I have never "loved" another team. I liked the way Juve played back in my youth, and also had a fascination with Martin Vasquez of Real Madrid when i was 12, but it was always just one team for me. I had no leanings towards Crystal Palace when i lived in the area, just as i have no love for Lincoln, where i live now. I travel from where ever i am in the country back to my Old Trafford Mecca, come hell or high waters. It is the only football that really matters to me (tho i would watch River Vs Boca, or Barca Vs Madrid, or Torquay Vs Exeter, happily if it were on the telly)
Amazon have dropped a Manchester United album full of terrace chants after an official complaint from Arsenal FC
The song they are directly referring to is the "Sit Down You Paedophile" song, lovingly sang by United fans, too the touchline on visits from the North London crybabies giants, or on the rare occasion that Graham Rix (former Chelsea coach) visits Old Trafford. Arsenal claim the song on the 'Fat Willy: Manchester United Chants' album is "defamatory" against Mr Wenger, despite the chant not actually mentioning any names, or being directly referred to the Frenchman.
"The club will actively pursue getting content removed when it is brought to our attention and will take it on a case by case basis," said a spokesman for the club. It is also thought that Manchester United have also contacted Amazon to give their opinion on the matter.
Amazon commented "Arsenal Football Club has provided us with formal notice that content within the album 'Manchester United Chants' is defamatory in nature and we have, therefore, removed this title from our website. We would not remove a product from our site because some, or many, people find it to be distasteful or otherwise objectionable. We believe it is censorship to make a product unavailable for those reasons."
The man behind the album, Will Robinson, quoted "We would certainly keep it up there because there is nothing defamatory. That track you are talking about is not directed at anybody," Robinson is also a music agent who represents acts such as Tony Christie and the Cheeky Girls. He is also planning to release a Volume 2 of the popular album in the near future. Fat Willy Records has released a number of United inspired tracks in the past.
Manchester United fan since the age of 9 when he saw Norman Whiteside curl the ball into a Wembley goal in the dying minutes.
He is an Old Trafford season ticket holder in the North Stand Tier 3...and cried tears of joy, on his knees with the many in Moscow.
Rob is a contributing author/editor at Man Utd blogzine 'The Faithful'