This morn Mr Rio Ferdinand must have a small demon sitting on his shoulder..
And all the time that little devil is whispering in his ear that his career is over as he knows it..with the curse of a back injury that will slap him round the face everytime he feels he is fully fit. But demons are there to be exorcised..
The news that Rio's back issues have resurfaced are a bitter blow for us. I have eulogised previously how Ferdinand is United's most important player in many respects. His doubters have always slandered him at every opportunity, but the truth is without him we wouldn't have half the trophy haul that we've been privy to the last 8 years. He has been immense, and rightfully so should be Gary Neville's heir apparent. But now that's all in question.
The news is that Rio is to be used in the same capacity as Giggsy to allow rest time between matches. So that means lighter training, less overall games, and a rigid approach to his back, as Sir Ryan has to do with his hamstrings. Giggs has proved that with the right management, that you can take a reoccurring, debilitating injury, and play on successfully. I'm sure there is the right fitness plan out there for Rio...but there is one MASSIVE hitch..
For Giggs, the ability to make an 'impact' comes with the brilliance of one dribble, a run, a cross, a pass, a goal. Even last season when he was named Player of the Year, many of us at Old Trafford would laugh at the old master, as he would have the second half of a genius, which was almost like clockwork preceded by a first half of complete anonymity. At half time we would say "God, Giggsy looks shot!"..only for us to be happily eating our words at full time. It was a script we still follow today.
But with Rio this cant happen. His performance criteria is the polar opposite of Giggs. One bad first half will almost definitely lead to us shipping goal after awful goal. One mistake will be highlighted as brightly as one piece of skill from the Welsh Wizard. The pundits on Sky and Match Of The Day would slaughter him..and then slaughter him..and slaughter him again, with every multi angled replay they could salivate over. It would not be pretty.
Of course the exception to the rule is Ledley King. Here is a player, held together by gaffer tape, gets wheeled out onto the White Hart Lane pitch on a trolley, and then hits a consistency that 99% of Prem defenders only dream about. King does little training, but Harry Redknapp knows what he gives his team. My concern is that at a club like ours this just wont work.
Fergie has been here before though..twice in fact.
The injury problems of Paul McGrath, coupled with his desire to drink Manchester dry at every opportunity, led to his hasty departure. McGrath was arguably United's most talented defender of the 1980s. Quick, responsive and a monster in the tackle. He could also sweep around the park as a defensive midfielder, as he often did..he was Roy Keane before we even knew who Roy Keane was. His successors in Bruce and Pallister were excellent players, but they were not in Paul McGrath's individual class. He was twice the talent that either 'Dolly' or 'Daisy' were. But in the end, his knees gave out. And Fergie recognised that you cant build a defense on a player who is there one week, and on the treatment table the next. As the story goes, McGrath went on to other clubs, picking up a PFA Player Of The Year award after his herculean performances for Aston Villa..where they still talk about him in the same way we talk about..Roy Keane.
The other example is when Fergie thought Jaap Stam was finished. Now yes, we all know he wrote THAT book, but the manager proclaimed that it was for football reasons and a massive bag of Italian swag that convinced him to sell the Big Dutchman - a decision he now admits he got very wrong. Stam had lost a yard of pace after a serious injury. Fergie didn't hang around. Stam was off without as so much as a handshake. The boss waits for no one.
So it makes me wonder what will happen with our Blessed Rio. To me he is the greatest United centreback i have ever seen. He is almost irreplaceable in Ronaldo measurements. We have signed Chris Smalling..a very Rio like player..but i get the feeling he is going to be more like a Wes Brown! ..and we've already got one of them. Coupled with the uncertainty of Vidic's future, these will me hugely worrying times for us in the next twelve months. I can only see Rio retiring from international duty post World Cup to give him any shot at longevity.
The fact of the matter is that as you get older you feel the aches and pains more..and for a sportsman like Rio that is the beginning of the end. Lets just hope for us and him, that when he does wear that red shirt, that he can do his reputation and ambitions justice
When you are on your knees and there is no where to turn, its very easy to grab out to the first person for comfort
Football finance don and general cash geek Keith Harris is the man that the United fraternity have reached out too. A man who has brokered many a takeover. A man who seems to know everyone that you need to know in this business. His little black book is squeezed with names who are more wealthy than we could ever imagine...or is it?
Harris' latest call is for all of us to boycott the club. To boycott games and to turn our backs on the cash cow of Old Trafford
"Getting the money together is the easy bit" says Harris. "If enough people - and I'm talking about thousands - stop turning up to matches and do not renew their tickets then that does it. The supporters have to hurt the Glazers in the pockets. They have to be prepared to take the pain of not watching their club in order to achieve long-term gain. It's a big ask, it's a risk, but that is what must happen. The Glazers are thick-skinned and seem impervious to protest. They will not be impervious to enormous drops in revenue."
They are very big words and very big asks.
You see..if i could clearly see that the path to a post Glazer era laid in the fact of simply chucking in your season ticket and watching United from the comfort of my sofa on the box, then i would sign up yesterday.
But its not the truth.
The fact is that if the base of the clubs fans who turn up in all sorts of inclement weather to watch a team in red decided that they were not going to do that anymore, we would have a Theatre of Dreams full of 78,000 football tourists...and The Glazers would be none the wiser or bothered. That is the truth.
I would rather we kept our tickets..and THEN not showed up for games. An empty stadium will have more of an impact. The reason why we all launched this green and gold campaign was to be vocal and SEEN. A boycott would only make us invisible and insignificant.
Harris proclaims that getting the cash together is the easy bit...oh really? Well lets see the colour of your money! I'm not into all this Red Knights stuff. Either put the cash on the table, or stop the pretence. If this turns into a huge game of United Texas Hold Em Up poker, then the Glazers hold all the cards and they don't buy a bluff.
What we need to do is to actually devalue the product of United..and you don't do that by 'hitting them in the pocket' with a flimsy statement of mis-intent. Firstly you wear your Green & Gold. Secondly, you stay away from 'official' MUFC merchandise. Thirdly, you make as much noise..whether that be with your mouths, your blogs, your twitters or your forums. And fourthly, those of us to have the privilege to go to OT every week...we should sit on the floor outside the ground on Sir Matt Busby way, awash in the colours of Newton Heath, at every game..protesting the way that Martin Luther King did..or the way Gandhi did..peacefully..forcefully..telling those that matter that they cannot win but they can only change. WE are not GOING anywhere. This may sound overtly political, but this is as political as football gets! This form of protest has defeated both racism and tyranny..I reckon it could topple a family of Fat Cat Billionaires
Bar all that, we could all just go for a pint in one of Old Trafs many boozers and sing about Scousers, Bitter Blues and iconic number sevens.
The point is that until a bone fide buyer is found, and that entity has a plan with the fans for the disposal of the Glazers, i am NOT turning my back on United. I will protest til I'm old and grey if i have to. I will wear the Green & Gold with pride. But continued peacefully, attention grabbing events will always outshine gimmicks and hollow statements.
The G&G army has only just begun to fight this fight..there's plenty of legs left in us.
The Evertonian surrender may well mean that we have given the South London Gazillionaires all the space they need to stop us winning title number four in a row and leap frogging the Scouse menace to number nineteen.
But that's for us to wait and see.
The thing it did prove to me was that Dimitar Berbatov is all but finished at Manchester United, bar a Nani-like resurrection to save him from a condemnation to a transfer to a half decent Spanish team..or Tottenham Hotspurs.
As the game went, Berba didn't play that badly. He took his goal well. Held possession with confidence, and skipped away from the nasty midfield of Everton on several occasions. But the result itself, coupled with the performance and the side and tactics Ferguson picked told a much much bigger story..and one we probably already know the script of.
In recent weeks United have employed three central midfielders. This has coincided with United playing their most devastating football of the season, culminating with wins at both The Emirates and The San Siro (and that stadiums never full, unless they play Man United!) 4-5-1 has become the new 4-4-2..a formation once hated by United fans but now quite favoured..its all about results. Scholes has looked rejuvenated with two enforcers next to him. Michael Carrick has stepped up several gears since the start of the season, and Darren Fletcher is just a freaking monster of a footballer now (why he is not being mentioned as a potential Player of the Year is beyond me) The formation has also allowed Nani to find his mojo, and has also given life to both Park and Valencia. And the cherry on the cake is a certain Mr Rooney, who has been playing like he was born on Krypton, and eats whole sheep for breakfast. As a United fan its been building to a crescendo these last few weeks to top class form..
..and then Everton happened.
Well..what actually happened was that we played two strikers. And rather than doubling our potency, it thoroughly diluted it. I have banged on soooo much about my lack of conviction that Roo and Berba can be a pair. It is now obvious to all that they cant. Even the most important man in all of this (a certain knight of the realm) has been sitting the Bulgarian nailed to the bench..a stark admission when we all know Fergie is desperate to prove he hasn't bought a £30 million flopster.
Previously i have criticized Wayne Rooney with all this Berbatov malarkey, and i haven't changed my mind..i still feel that its all a question of chalk and cheese..they simply don't go together..so for that they must BOTH take the blame. The main difference though is that without Berba, Roo has proved he is the real deal..a potential heir to Ronaldo's 'greatest player in the universe' crown. His form has been electric..and that's with him playing up front, all alone, the boss of himself. No strike partner to spin off. No checking to see anyone else's runs. Just him. Responsible for his own goal tally.
Berbatov on the other hand has gone backwards the last six months. He started with great verve this season..it all looked like he had settled to the challenge at hand. But a couple of dodgy injuries, and he looks like that rabbit in the headlights of last season again. Its just not good enough for this club. Seba Veron had similar problems over his two years at United, and as soon as the manager got a half decent bid he was shipped out.
That is what is going to happen to Berbatov.
If Rooney can stay fit, then we have a chance at European glory and a shot at the Prem. If he doesn't we are done for. I accept that at this junction. We are still suffering the effects of losing Ron and Tev, but there are promising signs from many players, and maybe just a signing or two short of top gear. But i no longer see where Berbatov fits into the plan long term. Yes he will be used this year. His wages and shirt number dictate that. But once Sir Alex has had enough he will put the player out to pasture. Villareal or Fiorentina are calling gently on the breeze. He is no spring chicken. If you sign for a massive club in your late twenties then you have to hit the ground running. So far Berba has barely got into a trot. He is the king of languidity yes, but his perceived lack of effort will be his epitaph at Manchester United. And with that he will take his seat in the 'strikers graveyard' that we used to mythically speak of in the 1980s, as do Gary Birtles et al..all failed to settle on the biggest stage of all.
I will be desperately disappointed if Berbatov fails and goes. I was delighted at his signing. But for me he was the fourth piece of the strike jigsaw puzzle formulated in 2008...Ronaldo, Roo, Tevez and the Spurs striker. But alot has changed. That strike force is obsolete. Its 2010 now, and United are moving in a different direction..
..and i feel that like two ships in the night, both us and Berba shall just pass silently in the dark. A brief dalliance that will be forgotten just as quickly as it happened.
This last week i was asked by The Observer newspaper to give my opinion on several subjects regarding the beautiful game. We talked about Manchester United, the state of English finances in football clubs, the Glazer's ownership, and the Green & Gold campaign. Anyhow, it was all filmed, and currently resides on The Guardian's Football page...CLICK HERE
Here is the videos for all the VFT3 readers. The first is the main topic video with myself and other pundits. The second is an edit that they sent to me, with just yours truly rabbiting on.
T'was all rather fun!
Have a watch and leave a comment
The team picked to put together this piece for The Observer were the guys from 'The Rebel Alliance'..all top blokes! Have a look at their website..they are 'fan culture' nuts!..so of course they fit in well with us footie fans.
So today it is leaking that a proposal has been put from the money men of the Premier League to all its clubs about reformatting its structure for the qualifying of the last Champions League spot. That reform would be centred around a play off tournament to be played at the end of the season between 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th, structured similarly to the Championships play offs for the third promotion place.
This would be an amazing opportunity for every team from Spurs to Bolton Wanderers, opening up the opportunity for maybe an extra dozen teams to some how find a back door into the world's premier club competition. It has allegedly received support as it would 'spice up' the end of the season, very much the way that it does in the lower leagues. But lets be honest..its a vile way of creating more money spinning games..playing more teams..getting another big marquee game at Wembley and an exercise in making more money by Richard Scudamore..much like his '39th' international league match idea. Its abhorrent in my book.
It would bring disgrace on our country's league. A total bastardisation of the spirit of competition and fair play. As a supporter of a Big 4 club it may sound obvious that i would think these things..but do we really want a team who sneaks into seventh to then fluke their way into the Champions League and then be one of teams that represents our nation on the biggest stage? Ive got nothing against a team like Fulham..but i think they should have to earn their right into the tournament and not get a one off situation to beat a better team (and i mean that as a 'better' team that gets more points than them..not an elitist comment!) Yes if they get enough points to come fourth, id applaud them and be happy for them to play in the monster tournament next season, but to come seventh and do it is just wrong.
The thing that stinks is today we sit here with a team like Portsmouth, on the brink of financial disaster, and what we are saying to a number of clubs who may not be that much better off than them that if they play more games, spend more cash and make an extra push for a few more points that they can play in the biggest tournament...dangling the carrot of success in front of teams that just don't deserve it and making them spend further money to try and achieve it. It destroys any idea of natural order in a league format (which rewards those that do the business over thirty eight matches)..it is only based on Scudamore's greedy ideals, trying to create events in his business to generate more cash for HIS coffers at the risk of the existence of some of our countries oldest football clubs. Rather than address the very real problem of too many games. About clubs' mental financing. About debt and about the stupid 'fit and proper persons tests'..all things that desperately need addressing..we have a situation where the Premier League are trying to play commercial roulette again. And the gamble? Creating several more Portsmouths.
All this will lead to is the creation of a European Super League. And i for one would call for it immediately if this mad idea of play offs goes through. For me its about the competition..the sporting challenge. Yes a Euro Super League would be a huge money spinner for its participants but the idea of watching United play the elite in the world EVERY week would be an appetizer id jump for! For us to dilute the Premier League as this plan would do would totally devalue it as a competition, so whats the point of taking part in it? In fact, this idea that it would be more exciting...its total trash..the season would be over NOW in February!..as those in the 1st to 7th positions consolidated their positions rather than battle it out til the end. Why should Spurs, or Villa, or City improve? They can just meander into their comfy top 7 placing and then go for it in a cup final. Rubbish.
Lets hope that Scudamore's clap trap ideas don't prematurely destroy the heart of English football. He has the greatest domestic league product on the planet in his incapable hands, and he is getting very close to dropping the ball. He will lose his biggest clubs to a new challenge and he can then be happy crowning Tottenham or City as his champions every year. It will create a huge gulf that will never be bridged. And if he gets his way, it will be the death of the greatest league in the world..
The mourning and grief will all be down to the blood on one man's hands.
The Champions League semi final first leg of three years ago was one of the most nerve jangling games i have ever been to. On the night United won the game 3-2, with Rooney scoring at the death. A match of high drama billed as the battle of the best two players on the planet..who now ply their trade as team mates in Spain. Kaka won the fight with two knockout punches despite Ronaldo's constant jabbing, and was crowned World Footballer of the Year.
However I do not remember this game for Kaka. Like many fans i have a taste for the technical, and despite Kaka shining on centre stage over the tie, it was United's deficiencies in the two games that i remember, and the performance of one old Milanese midfield general in the centre of the pitch.
United went in 1-2 down at half time mainly down to some calamitous defending by Heinze and Evra (Vida and Rio were both out), allowing the Brazilian genius to pick us off. But it was Gennaro Gattuso who was the man that dragged his team into the final. He was faced up against Fletcher, who was not the player he is today. And he ran the show. The only reason we managed to spin the first result round to a 3-2 win in the first leg was because Gattuso went of injured..and we then battered the Italians for 30 minutes of Old Trafford pomp.
In the second leg we were destroyed. With virtually a whole defence injured we didn't have the tools for the challenge. Once again their experienced heads of Gattuso, Seedorf and Pirlo danced and snarled their way round the San Siro, and the game was over as a contest in no time. Despite going on to then win the competition, Milan were on their way down..an aging team, whereas for United it was a lesson we needed learn. Of course since that lesson, we have visited the final for both years since that event.
I eulogised after that defeat that if we had had an Owen Hargreaves type player, that we would have nullified Gattuso's dominance, which would have meant Kaka wouldn't have had as much of the ball, which means we may have actually won. Somehow Sir Alex listened to me (!!) and went out and purchased the Bayern player...and success was then ours.
3 years on, and its fair to say that not many things have changed as a whole. United and Milan are still two of the top clubs in the world, and there are some frightening parallels emerging if you are a Red Devil. That Milan side are still being powered by those three midfielders i previously named, but with a different Brazilian starlet at the helm..the prodigious Pato. Add to that the marquee names of Ronaldinho and Beckham, and you suddenly have a very experienced side who have been there, done that and bought the t shirt more times than an over enthusiastic tourist! Milan have also showed signs of good form in Serie A, with the bucktoothed genius playing his best football since his Barca days. And with the prodigal Manchester son of Becks coming home..well it just adds to all the possible drama that may unfold.
The other link to three years ago is the absence of the afore mentioned Hargreaves. His United career is in ruins as his OAP knees start to wave the white flag prematurely. However, Darren Fletcher is a different beast now. he will be vital to the cause in these two matches. It will be the engine rooms that decide this game. Yeah I'm sure a Rooney or a Pato or God forbid even a Beckham may steal all the post result headlines, but this game is about a midfield chess match
That defeat from 3 years ago still stings. Our success since then has numbed that, but I've been waiting for Milan since 2007. This is our time for some vengeance. But the eyes must be on the prize. We must be concentrated on doing a professional job in the San Siro. If we have to be dogs of war on Tuesday night then so be it. I'm not interested in pretty pretty when you are up against an old dog like Gattuso and co. We may just have to kick and scream our way to the next round. Last time we were the young boys, but we've grown up a fair bit since. Our form is electric domestically and we need to somehow transfer that vitality to the European stage
Despite the parallels, this is a different time. Clarence Seedorf said this weekend that we are "outsiders" due to us being light of a Tev and a Ron. Only history will tell the story in the future if the Dutchman was right.
So off to Italia we go! This is officially the start of the business end of the season.
As a Manchester United fan it gets pretty boring reading the continued bile that gets printed regarding the transfer merry-go-round. I used to take a huge interest in it. As a teenager i would buy the tabloids daily and scour through the back pages trying to absorb all the gossip.
Well not anymore. Yeah I cruise NewsNow everyday, but its all very casual.
The main topic of Unitedness comings and goings at moment is our seemingly hen-pecked centre back..the man that has a taste for murder if you listen to the songs at Old Trafford, but doesn't wear the trousers at home..they belong to the sun-kissed loving wife. Yep, I'm talking about Nemanja Vidic of course.
Vidic and Evra were both signed in almost a covert manner when they signed for the team in a January transfer window. None of us knew who they were...not really. And with their first few performances, they looked no better than squad players. Forward six months, they had both settled and started to look like real players.
In those early months nobody could really have predicted what Vidic would become...and that's the ideal foil and partner for our thirty million pound lynch-pin Rio Ferdinand. It has been obvious to see that the success of United over the past four years has not only been fed by the brilliance of Rooney and Ronaldo, but also from the impenetrable wall that these two provided the side. As a team we were always about the motto "if you score 3 we'll score 4" The advent of Vidic and Rio changed all that.
This year has been the toughest for both centre-backs. Rio's injuries have been well documented, and the combination of a lack of games and iffy form have been rewarded with the England captain's armband (?!). However, there is still an air of mystery around what is pushing the buttons of the Serb. Whether you believe the stories of Mrs Vidic knocking the big boy for six as she craves the Spanish WAG high life of Posh's former stomping ground, or whether you believe its because Vida and Ronnie used to room together, and at night used to cuddle and talk about their dreams of wearing the white shirt made famous by Steve McManaman...well it matters not.
Vidic's form has been sketchy at best this year. The mysterious nerve injury has left him missing in action, and its clear that the Boss is not pleased by all this..his red nose has told a thousand stories when asked about the player. But honestly i would not be that unhappy if he left. I think he has been a rock for us, but with the emergence of Jonny Evans, and now the signing of the promising Fulham lad Smalling, I think we are prepared to go our separate ways with Him. I still feel that Rio is the most important player in the central pairing. He is the one with the intelligence that dictates all of United's positional play. He is often the one that plays the telling pass into the midfield danger areas...not Vidic. I'm not being blase about Vida. He is great. But there is a deal to be done, and this is it:
Real have suddenly got a sniff of Mr David Villa again. No one understands why he didn't join in the summer. He wanted to go there..they wanted him..Valencia were and still are flat broke..deal done. But a tearful Villa couldn't explain why it fell through, so once again Madrid decided to step on our toes and hijack the £35 million offer we had made for Karim Benzema..and of course..the rest is history. Well after six months it seems that the Frenchman's 8 goals and 3 assists have not made him very popular with the money-men at the Bernabeu (imagine if they had Berbatov!), and now they want the Spanish prodigal son in their side..especially as Raul has finally decided to cut lose and play in America next season..and yep who do you think they want in their Number 7 shirt? Villa is built to succeed Raul, as he already has for the international side.
So it begs the question 'How soon before Real do a Huntelaar on Benzema?'
They want Vidic. Fergie wants Benzema. I can smell a deal.
Whatever you or I think Vidic is worth, or how much Real would actually pay, its the perfect opportunity to strike a trade that would be beneficial for both sides. I think we would have to pay some extra cash on top, but chucking in one of the worlds top rated defenders would make the exchange more palatable. I'm confident that United have a talented enough defensive line already, but Fergie will have targets already in his sights..Palermo defender Simon Kjaer being the latest one on our radar..Vidic mark two. Benzema would be a fantastic addition to the front-line. Michael Owen will be put out to pasture come June as Fergie has shown he has zero interest in him after a good old look. He is young, athletic and powerful, with excellent feet and an eye for goal.
Rooney and Benzema up top? Yes..I'm already sold on the idea.
It has been fairly joyous at Old Trafford in recent weeks. The team have reawakened in perfect timing to the fans finding their collective voice of disdain against the owners. The heat has definitely been turned up at the stadium of theatrical dreaming. Its a welcome change to the mediocre we have witnessed both on the pitch and coming from the Stretford End in the past months.
The day the idea was pitched about the Green and Gold this blog immediately put its weight behind it. Some people were surprised by this as they know my feelings on the ownership of the club. Others thought i was just being bandwagonesque to get a few more readers. Well....no. The reason i backed the idea was that i felt it was the right time to be free of the Glazers. That the Americans were making a mockery of the name they technically own. I felt that it was the correct time for me to take sides..so who to back? The owners or the fans? There was only ever gonna be one choice there.
The Green and Gold 'campaign' (for want of a better word) epitomises what the man on the street can do to show resistance. They are born of the clubs original colours..don't be fooled into thinking history began at the advent of the renaming to Manchester United Football Club (..a name we are no longer called..look at the badge) It surprises me that some fans have now taken this opportunity to voice their strange opinions on the subject...that we are Red and that that colour alone represents us as a fanbase. It makes me feel weird that there are some alleged card carrying United fans out there wanting to splinter away from a cause that only exists to benefit the club, not bleed it dry.
I think there are a few missing the point about our actions..even for it to be suggested that its all 'a bit Scouse' (How dare they!!!) I was perfectly prepared to give the Glazers time to run the club how they seemed fit..I never bought the notion that an Englishman or a United fan would automatically run the club better than them. Xenophobia is a pathetic entity. Now years down the line their tenure is starting to show fault-lines in the surface of Manchester United's good name...so its time for the fanbase to react. Also as i previous said, I'm not prepared to brick windows or run amock like idiots to prove a point. But i was prepared to sing and shout and scream and fly the flag..and that's where the Green and Gold fitted in perfectly.
Like it or not, the colours are having an impact, just as i knew they would. However, i will criticize MUST for missing a trick..i went to their hotel stomping ground before the Pompey game to acquire scarves only to find that they had sold out from an overbearing security guard who was causing more stress than restraint. So like everyone else i had to go to Jack the Lad to pay me fiver. This is not the merchandisers fault. They are business men. I do blame MUST though. They had minimal presence on the street besides some handing out information cards. The time was right to campaign and they missed a trick. However, the idea still thrived..it was just that MUST coffers could have been what benefited..but didn't. Shame. I'm sure a certain Red Knight, or whoever they claim to be could have stumped up for 100,000 scarves. Whatever.
The point though is that it is a great idea, and now everyone knows that we stand there together, at OUR stadium, as a collective. But we are missing one thing..and that's a decent protest song. Ive got no inclining to sing about Malcolm Glazer dying because its hollow. He could be dying as i write this and it wouldn't make a jack bit of difference about who owned the club. It would still be in the same hands. The old ones of 'we want glazer out' are all very nice but not very poetic..rather bland to the common ear. There must be a link there from our past (as the green and gold is) that we could re-ignite in vocal defiance. The Scousers have their Walking Alone somewhere song. City have Blue Moon. Even West Ham sing about blowing Michael Jackson's pet chimp. What do we have? Well yes we have a good variance of United ditties, but the time is right for us to produce a new anthem. We want a fresh start for our club. Its time that we had our own territorial hymn. The challenge is out their for someone to have the bright spark for it.
So the protest will continue. It wont be long until pretty much everyone inside Old Trafford will be in green and gold. I for one will continue wearing my NHFC colours. We will always be red, but it is also the colour of the Glazers brand. And i don't support a brand..i support a football club. One day i will wear my red colours again..but not until we find resolution for those that truly love Manchester United. Identify which side of the fence YOU sit on.
Love United..Couldn't Give a Damn About The Glazers.
Owen Hargreaves was 29 years old on the 20th January
Owen Hargreaves has one more year left on his contract at the end of this season
Owen Hargreaves may well have been the most expensive mistake United have ever made.
Owen Hargreaves may well be the best player that we never saw make it at United
When we talk about making your own luck, Hargreaves must have been a very bad man at some stage of his life..its just heinous how fate has cruelly twisted his career at a time when he could well have been the best player in England, bossing games for United and England..showing Stevie G just how its done. But it wasn't to be.
So the question is now 'what do we do with him?'
His omission from the Champions League squad tells us more than words where Sir Alex thinks Hargreaves is at the moment and what headspace he occupies. Much has been made of his mental attitude recently, due to a couple of remarks made by the manager, but i do not really buy it. Trusting your body physically is difficult after you've been through such a car crash of an eighteen months, but there comes a time when everyone has to say 'enough is enough'
Will we ever see Hargreaves perform at his top level again? I think this is what is holding the lad back. Does he really know that he will never be the same player? Does he think that if he gives it just another week that he will recover something that he may well have lost? Self confidence is a funny thing, but the truth is you could be the fittest man on the planet but with no confidence you are nothing. If the boss detects this about the player he has to do the right thing by the club first and Hargreaves second.
An explanation would be nice from United..it was just yesterday that he could be ready by the Milan match, but that all seem like cloud cuckoo land. It is unfair on us to put Hargreaves on such a pedestal, when the guy cant even train fully with the first team. And it is also unfair on him, the expectation that when he comes back that United's midfield will be unstoppable and that he will destroy every team at the World Cup with his superhero engine bossing matters
Maybe its time we all let go?
The question of his contract makes it all the more horrible and grubby. With a year left in the summer do we give him a new one? Pay as you play maybe..well that hasn't really worked with Michael Owen..who it is worth noting is fully fit! Or do we let go a player that we courted so strongly for over a year and literally twisted Bayern Munich's arm to get hold of? His £17 million transfer fee plus his high four years worth of wages could well be about the worst bit off business this club has done in living memory. But my opinion is that without Hargreaves drive in his first season, we may not have won the Prem and the Champions League. Remember his free kick against Arsenal? It seems such a long time ago. His 37 appearances will represent a truly disgusting ratio of 'games vs £' but we will have to take it on the chin.
I still hope Hargreaves proves us all wrong..his road to recovery has been like a soap opera. But the time gets ever closer as Fergie has to decide whether he is worth the number 4 shirt anymore. Its a crying shame. Looks like neither of United's two Owens will be on that plane to South Africa. They both need miracles now..
It may be a bit premature to assume this. But despite my satisfaction at Michael Owen joining our forward line for less than a bag of fish & chips, it seems that his career has now almost come to a standstill, and the door awaits the former Liverpool predator.
We have seen glimpses of his brilliance this year. The goal against City. A Champions League hat trick of great aplomb. But the fact that Fergie wont even start him in the so called 'lesser' games (besides the Hull match!), even with Dimitar Berbatov only operating with one fit knee, its safe to assume he is not the manager's flavour of the month. Now I'm sure Sir Alex would explain this as purely he has a team to pick every week, he picks what he feel will beat the opposition, blah blah blah. But as we all follow the situation very carefully it doesn't take a professor to come to the conclusion that Owen is wasted on the Old Trafford bench.
Many will know i am a fan of Owen and have called for him to be used more. At his age he still has the tools to get goals. But as the season progresses and we see less and less of him, it does make you think that he was probably wrong to sign for us now. As it stands he is still a great asset to the squad from the bench. But he doesn't look happy, as the camera pans over the touchline during games, as he sits there glum. Its a bit of a shame really.
His pay as you play goal bonus laden deal seemed great business for everyone when he came pre-season..however its no good to him if he is not playing, not scoring and we have a player that we cant incentivize with just a few minutes here and there. It does make me wonder what is going on at Carrington. Is there something wrong on the training pitch? Fitness doesn't appear to be an issue. Fergie has said about the difficulty in playing Owen when Rooney is now on fire. I get that. But it still doesn't really help his situation. I bet he thought joining United, playing for one of the giants of world football, that he would get chances galore, score regularly, and be on that plane to South Africa..I know i did! In my eyes, id still prefer Owen ahead of Darren Bent..but as he scores goals for a faltering Sunderland side, and Owen twiddles his thumbs, well, there's no real contest.
So far this season is a marked failure for Michael Owen. He may still have a part to play. But as United show their form in a 4-5-1 and the January emergence of Mame Diouf (who is scoring goals for fun in the reserves) it doesn't look good for the former European Footballer of the Year. I think come the summer, he will be sat on a beach somewhere, watching England take on the likes of Algeria et al, and will probably have his agent on his mobile every five minutes..trying to score a deal with Aston Villa or Everton.
It could have been the perfect arrangement..a marriage of convenience. But like all things that look great on the surface, deep down it was never really going to work...was it? A bit like Notts County getting Sol Campbell and Sven. Wait for all the 'told you so' comments from the Scousers and Geordies that you may or may not know, coming this summer..cos they will be quite vocal if the former boy wonder has to pack his bags once again. I hope there's a plot twist somewhere along the way.
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 now a contributing author/editor at Man Utd blogzine 'The Faithful'