I think that i am in love again and it feels just like the first time.
I have just finished watching a video of a certain Mister Cristiano Whatshisname playing for Real Madrid in Pre Season. His performance was full of tricks and twists. The custom stepovers. The blistering speed. The original one man entertainment machine. He even scored a goal.
And today, I can truly say for the first time that i am glad that he has gone. It is like when you know that even though your partner is stunningly attractive to all, but you are just bored of her or his ways. The sex is still great, but you would rather not talk to them. They don't give you that chill down your spine anymore.
Yesterday's 'Community Challenge' game has given me much food for thought. Yep, it was just a friendly, and nothing really rides on it. But I just wanted to see United's form and shape in a competitive atmosphere, rather than a stroll round a park in China.
The gloom Sayers of Post-Ronaldo-United (well known as PRU to the medical profession) have led many to believe that a huge chunk of the club's hull has crumbled away into the sea, leading to an inevitable sinking of the ship. But i feel very differently now, after yesterday. The game made me remember what it was like pre-Ron. What supporting Man Utd is actually all about. With 'The Artist Formerly Known As Number 7', things had got predictable...albeit with a silver lining. Set things up, defend well and give the ball to Ron, was the formula United have used for three seasons now. And you will never hear me complain about any of that, as it is now consigned to history, and one day we will speak fondly of those days. ESPN Classic and Sky will show dedication programmes to many of our games and we will all remember what it was like to be ten years younger.
But yesterday, hit an emotion that Ive not had for a while. One emotion that I do not even think has a word to describe it!
It is a mixture of fear and excitement. Of hunger and expectation. But most importantly, it is an emotion which evokes the night in Barcelona in '99. A team (and i mean a real team, not superstar individuals) who are in it together, playing flair football and working hard for each other...in every position. Yes, even Mr Berbatov did a bit of running yesterday, and it was nice seeing the full midfield 4 drop back when needed, which never happened during the Ronaldo era. Now many may say that what i am talking is now rubbish..trash talk. Losing the world's best player and playing it all down.
But I truly love the idea that United are a team of 11 players again, and not 10 + 1.
Watching this pre season I can see what Fergie is trying to achieve. I believe he is going a bit 'old skool' He has spent the last decade trying to change the way United play. He felt we had become too predictable with our all out attacking mind set, that we need to be a bit more savvy, like a chess player setting up his opponent to fail.
But now as we hit the end of the Noughties, I think he sees a massive opportunity to stun the opposition with some classic Back 2 Basics United! We lined up 4-4-2 yesterday...for the whole game. If you are not tactically astute you will believe United play this every week. In fact, we rarely have played it for ages. Why did he set us up like that? Because of our squad personnel. With no Ron or Tev and bringing in Valencia and Owen the balance has shifted. It was a joy to see Rooney and Berba play high up top TOGETHER, pushing up against the centre backs, allowing the midfield four space to operate and push forward (second half, it didn't work as well as it did first, but that is OK)
And this made me swoon!
Now i know we will not play like this every game, but it opened up something inside of me (oo er missus) I loved the days of Ronny Johnsen, Henning Berg and Denis Irwin. Without these types of players we would never have won the treble. I loved the days of having 4 very different strikers in Teddy, Ole, Yorkey and Coley. Now again we have multiple options in this area. I loved it when we played with two wingers who could go wide in tandem, as Kanchelskis did with Giggs..could this happen again with Nani and Valencia?
And that is why I am feeling that 'new girlfriend' feeling all over again that I have not felt in footballing terms since we signed Ruud Van Nistelrooy (not to say I haven't loved her in the mean time all these years, but you know what i mean, dont you?)
2009/10 is going to be a very exciting year with lots of 'getting to know each other' and 'dirty habit' problems. But maybe if we can make it work, it could all end in the perfect marriage, with tons of trophy shaped children. Come to Papa.
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