Thursday, May 31, 2007

Transfer whirlwhind analysed...

The events on the United transfer front over the last 24 hours must have left many a Red scratching their collective heads in wonderment, because United rarely do things quickly and silently as was the case with Anderson and Nani. The deals aren't signed and sealed just yet, so I guess we have to be a bit cautious that something might go wrong, but the very fact that United felt confident enough to make the announcement last night on the clubs official website suggests both players will become United players in short order.

It's fairly obvious that Anderson has been earmarked to be Paul Scholes long term replacement, and according to reports from various pundits who know all about the player the Red's have captured the very heart-beat of Brazil's future engine room.

Then we have Nani, who it appears could have been brought in to replace Giggs, was it purely a coincidence that Giggsy announced his international retirment this week? Did the Welsh wizard think 'hang on, I will have to really pull my tripe out to get a game now?'...

Today the club also announced that the Owen Hargreaves deal is as good as done too. Personally I think this deal is the most important of the three, because I believe the England midfielder will be key to the Red's future and there wont be any issues about the weather etc, whereas there's always that danger that Anderson may struggle to adjust to Manchester aka the rainy city.

It really is a mouth watering prospect having so much talent coming to the club.

For now though us Red's will have to be contented with what has been a great piece of business, because it is so unusual for United to get our deals done early in the summer transfer window. All too often we've been left scrambling for any piece of information on possible new signings, and sometimes as with Ronaldinho we were left high and dry.

The intruiging thing now is what happens next? Because the Red's have already committed to over £30m of new talent and we still need to sign at least one new striker. United will I believe almost certainly offload a fair few players, I'm thinking of Richardson, Heinze, Saha and possibly Smith. IF that happens the reds might be lucky to recoup around £17m - which might then be used to sign another striker.

One player who I personally do not want to see being sold is Johnny Evans, I understand that Sunderland are desperate to retain him and I fear a bid could be in the offing...

United confirm Hagreaves deal....

The news just keeps on getting better and better if you support Manchester United because the Red's have confirmed that Owen Hargreaves will complete his transfer to United at the end of June when he returns from his holiday in Canada. The fee is expected to be around £17m, this latest move takes the Red's summer spending to over £30m. Late on Monday United confirmed they'd agreed to sign Brazilian, Anderson (19), from FC Porto and Portuguese star Nani (20), from Sporting Lisbon. Red's fans will be wondering who is next because it is widely expected the Red Devils will sign at least one more striker...it also begs the question who will be leaving United this summer.....watch this space on that score.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stunning Red's double transfer swoop...

Great news for United fans because the Red's have made a stunning double transfer swoop to sign 19 year old Brazilian playmaker Anderson from Porto plus 20 year old Portuguese wonder boy Nani from Sporting Lisbon. United released the news via the clubs official website, the fees have apparently been agreed in principle. Added to which the club will complete the signing of Hargreaves next week. Looking good.

Why neither Beckham or McClaren provide the answers to England's problems....

I get sick and tired of reading the same tired drivel from the same clueless football writers who constantly blather on about England's failure to win matches and tournaments. These so called 'gentlemen of the press' appear to thrive on building managers and players up and then knocking them down again when things don't go quite according to plan. They finally got what they wanted when Sven got the sack following a pathetic tabloid fake Sheik sting. Now it is the turn of Steve McClaren, he would not have been my personal choice but plenty of the press were happy with the appointment.

McClaren's first act as manager was nothing short of disastrous when he announced he was retiring Beckham from England duty - here again many of the press were quite happy about that decision. Take the example of Martin Samuel who is supposed to be a top writer, but today he has blasted McClaren for recalling Beckham and he's stated that if McClaren doesn't win his next competitive game then he has no future as England manager.


Added to which Samuel is under the illusion that other high profile managers would do better than McClaren given the same squad of players. I for one strongly disagree. No manager on this planet could turn the current England squad into world or European champions. Here's why.

The press write thousands of words about Lennon, Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard telling us all who should or should not be playing, first it was Beckham, but more recently it has been Lampard and Gerrard on occasion.

However, when you look at the England squad as a whole and dissect each department only one has a glaring weakness, a weakness that is so blindly obvious that it is impossible to ignore. That department is the forward line. England do not have a genuine world class number nine. I'm talking about someone like Didier Drogba or an Alan Shearer of old, because if they did England could be world beaters.

So forget about which formation McClaren should use, forget about Beckham too. The real problem that needs solving is finding a genuine world class striker and until that happens England will continue to struggle - and no matter who is the manager the press will also continue to try to pick the team because they know best... The vast majority know sweet **** all.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Graham Poll announces retirement...

So today's big news in the world of football is that referee Graham Poll has announced that he's hanging up his whistle and packing it in. There will be the usual back slapping from other referees, telling us the fans what a great ref Poll was.

As ever the fans will have slightly different views on Poll, supporters of Australia will never forget his 2006 World Cup faux pas when he dished out three yellow cards to Croatian defender Josip Šimunić, for which Poll himself was dismissed from the tournament. Sepp Blatter later stating that if Australia had lost to Croatia then they would have had grounds to demand a replay. Poll had already sent off two players in that Australia v Croatia game, not only that the officials did not spot that Harry Kewell's goal in the same game was offside.

On the domestic scene the high profile referee was involved in another incident, this time in the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Sheffield United at Old Trafford in 02-03. Arsenal eventually went on to win the game 1-0, but in the build up to the goal by Freddie Ljungberg, Poll collided with Blades midfielder Michael Tonge while he was in possession of the ball. The collission prevented Tonge from tracking back to cover the goal scorer...

Some people say Poll favoured the Arsenal and StatsonSport have the stats to back up that claim..
Stats apparently show that Poll favoured the Arsenal...

In my view Poll did little to raise the standards of refereeing in England, which remains as poor as it has been since Jack Taylor retired - our one and only truly great referee.

United summer transfer update...

...so then yesterday it was being reported by the Manchester Evening News that today the Red's would complete the long awaited signing of Owen Hargreaves, 24 hours later and the deal isn't going through and reports now suggest that the deal will be completed next week, when the player returns from his holiday in Canada.

I have to say this news of the delay concerns me slightly as I, and am certain many other United fans, would have liked to have seen this particular transfer saga wrapped up, but now we shall have to wait and see if and when the deal does go through... There is always that slight fear that another club could come in and clinch a deal at the death, as was the case with Mikel, Essien and Robben, who of course were all snatched from United by Chelsea.

You wonder why exactly the Hargreaves deal has stalled for a week.. could it be something to do with the fee, or even personal terms? Whatever it is the fans will want this deal concluded ASAP.

Another player in the news is Gabriel Heinze, who we are told is so desperate to leave that he could invoke new FIFA transfer rules and buy-out his owen contract which would leave him free to choose his next club, the popular Argentine is being linked to clubs in Italy and Spain.

Regarding the search for new strikers, the Red Devils have once again been tentatively linked to Klaas Jan Huntelaar of Ajax, this lad is hot property and there's no way United will have it their own way if indeed Ajax agree to sell the player.

So the search for new strikers goes on and to that end United have been dealt a blow concerning their ambitions to sign Bulgarian hit-man Dimitar Berbatov because it is being reported that he will pen a new deal shortly, thus dashing hopes of him playing for United next season..

I for one believe that the Red's will sign two new strikers plus Owen Hargreaves. However, if things do not go well regarding striker targets, there must be a chance that Saha will be retained and then if that happens United may sign just one new striker and the England midfield star.

I will of course be keeping you up to date with all the latest news and transfer gossip over the next few weeks while the summer window is open for business.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Have United screwed up again on talent spotting?

What do the following have in common: Dimitar Berbatov, Arron Lennon, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe? Yes, that's right they all were signed by Spurs, and the three Englishmen were signed relatively inexpensively, which belies the often used argument that top quality young players from this country cannot be bought cheaply...

Carrick as we know was eventually signed by United for a ridiculous £18.6m - once the signing was complete sources close to Spurs let the media know that they'd have accepted a lot less for a player that they'd signed for only £2.75m. So United had their collective trousers pulled down again over the fee by paying a hefty price for not spotting / acting on Carrick's potential earlier...

Move forward to the events of the last seven days and Spurs have signed yet another young British player in Gareth Bale, the transfer fee could eventually go up to £10m. Ok this time the fee isn't cheap, but have Spurs once again put up the cash to sign a player who may well prove to be good value. In signing Bale Tottenham have backed their manager who in turn has had the nerve to back his own judgement on a very good young Welsh player.

I'd actually argue that Spurs did the same with Michael Dawson - who by the way is another player like Bale who was linked strongly to United before eventually signing for the North London club.

With question marks hanging over the future of Heinze, who is tipped to leave this summer, it raises further question marks about United's ability to act decisively in the transfer market when such obvious young talents like Bale become available, because if indeed Heinze does go this summer then it leaves the Red's with only Patrice Evra and maybe Silvestre for the left back slot, but Silvestre is tipped to leave too.

Has Fergie cocked it up again by not signing Bale? Time will tell, but there has been suggestions coming out of Old Trafford that Fergie believes Bale will be a winger - this has all the hallmarks of an excuse actually.

Smoke and mirrors aside, Ferguson also needs to sign two strikers, as Saha is expected to be turfed out and of course there's the long-winded transfer of Hargreaves to complete - which has gone strangely quiet.... perhaps there's issues over cash being avialable to the manager, and perhaps that is the real reason United didn't try to sign Bale?

Will the Glazers back Ferguson in the summer transfer window or not?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Beckham set to return to England fold and rightly so..

David Beckham's name looks set to be included in Steve McClaren's next England squad, this after being discarded and treated shabbily by the then new England coach. The decision to axe Beckham was nothing short of a disgrace as the former United star had done as much, if not more, for his country than any other player over recent times.

What's more Beckham wasn't axed for purely football reasons, rumour has it that the decision was based more on off the field goings on, ie the circus which surrounds the player - this too was insulting to the professionalism of the player who has given his all on the pitch for United, Madrid and England.

England fans will no doubt welcome back Beckham and rightly so.

Friday, May 25, 2007

United 'up for sale' again as Glazers get it all wrong...

According to the Daily Mirror the Glazer family are looking to invite offers to buy the club - which has predictably been denied by a spokesperson for the family.

The story goes that the Glazers have now realised what many of us realised from the start, which is that this deal was doomed to failure, because fundamentally the Glazer family were borrowing too much cash to purchase the club - in short they couldn't afford it and the club cannot afford the ludicrous £62 million annual interest payments which have been heaped upon the club.

What is more the Glazers wrongly believed that there was huge untapped wealth just around the corner, that too hasn't materialised.

I for one seriously doubt there will be many interested buyers, I mean who can afford to pay the Lions share of $2billion to purchase a football club?

United to offer Saha and £27m for Berbatov?..

Nothing ever surprises me with United when it comes to being stupid with cash, but if the Red's are to offer £27m + Louis Saha in exchange for Berbatov as The Sun are claiming today then , yes, I will be slightly shocked.

However, let's not forget we offered Leeds £30m for Rio when the Yorkshire club were on their knees and were in no position to turn down half that amount. United could have also captured Carrick for a fraction of the fee they eventually paid to Spurs when his old club West Ham had been relegated - if only United had done their homework and identified the player earlier...the same will apply to Berbatov if this story is true because once again United will have paid a hefty price for not spotting a player who fits the bill earlier.

It is almost as if Fergie needs to see these players prove themselves in the Premiership before he will take the risk - with Berbatov he has been around for a while and he's a proven international and so surely our backroom team have enough gumption to spot that the lad had a bit of class and was worth taking a punt on? But yet here we have Spurs - a club with less ambition and cash spotting good players earlier than United, it really isn't good enough when you think about it.

Clearly United's scouting system isn't up to the job - Ferguson has lost some of his ability to identify players, the signings of Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson add weight to that theory.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Champions League winners bus for sale!

I've had this photo mailed to me and I was wondering if anyone can think of any suitable suggestions as to what to do with it...

Send your suggestions to me...

Will the treble ever be done again?...

Going into this year's Champions League final in Athens, many fans and pundits have been musing over the fact that both the Merseyside Reds and Milan were not champions in their own countries. Liverpool finished some 21 points behind United while Milan finished 33 points behind Inter Milan, what this says about the Champions League has been debated since the composition of the final was known.

Clearly the two competing teams in this year's final are great at knockout football - which is what Mourinho has been saying about Liverpool for some time. Others have stated that it will be nigh on impossible to win the Champions League and the Premiership in the same season.

One of the main reasons that both Liverpool and Milan knocked out United and Chelsea respectively this year is because both finalists were able to rest key players. Milan rested the whole of their first team ahead of the semi final leg at Old Trafford and a further six players ahead of the second leg in Milan. Liverpool rested star players ahead of their clash with Chelsea. The English and Italian clubs were only able to rest players because they were so far behind their domestic league leaders.

So there is no doubt in my mind that the final in Athens was fought out by two teams who are nowhere near being the best teams in Europe - but unlike some - I have no problem with the name of this competition, unlike the many carping Liverpool supporting traditionalists. There's also no getting away from the fact that the present format is much harder to win than its predecessor, because in the current guise of the Champions League it has never been won back-to-back. The Champions League remains the premier knockout club competition that much is also true.
However, it does beg the question will the treble ever be completed again?

Champions League final: Liverpool undone by ultimate predator and Jesus

They do say football is a funny old game - and with some justification going off the Champions League final in Athens, because after forty two minutes few would have given Milan much of hope getting revenge for what happened two years ago, such was Liverpool's domination until that point.

The Liverpool players were quicker to the ball all over the park, while the Milan players looked to be ageing and going backwards by the minute. On-looking United fans will have been scratching their collective heads wondering if this was the same side that took the Reds apart so destructively in the San Siro in that semi-final.

But then on the stroke of half time Milan undeservedly took the lead when Inzaghi deflected a free-kick into the corner of the net giving Reina no chance. Liverpool will be cursing Milan's good fortune, but Inzaghi had gambled like the very top predatory strikers do when he followed in that free-kick.

During the half-time break on ITVs coverage, Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish said that the fact his team were one down was good news, because 'they'd have to go for Milan', it was the kind of bizarre logic that had you wondering if Dalglish was pissed.

When the game restarted, Milan made more of a fist of it and Liverpool's domination wasn't what it was in that first half, as tiredness gradually took its toll. Liverpool were then given fair warning of what was to follow later when Inzaghi was wrongly judged to be offside when put through clear on goal - it was a real let-off.

The killer blow came late on in the game when Milan scored a goal of genuine quality, the move started deep in the Italian's half and after several neat passes the ball found it's way to the feet of the outstanding star of this season's Champions League - the brilliant Brazilian Kaka - he in turn found the predatory feet of Inzaghi who'd once again timed his run to perfection, quite what game Jamie Carragher was playing at only he knows. Inzaghi finished with the coolness of a man who is now only second to the famous Gurd Muller in the goal scoring stakes, it was a goal fitting of the occasion and the game's only true highlight. Kuyt scored what turned out to be a late consolation goal and Gerrard spurned the Red's best chance from open play. It wasn't to be.

At the end of what was a pretty good game the Liverpool stars were generous in their assessment that Milan had won deservedly. Steven Gerrard stated that Liverpool will be back and he might be right. However, moments earlier at the final whistle Kaka had removed his shirt to reveal a t-shirt sporting the message 'I belong to Jesus'... on-looking United fans will have no doubt also said a quite thank you to the Lord for sparing us a sixth Liverpool win on the night. Special mention too for Alan Hansen when he said 'I'm 100% confident Liverpool will win'...as I said earlier in the week, that was the kiss of death if ever there was one.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Shambolic FA threaten legal action over 'rip-off' cup final ticket touting..

The FA are threatening legal action over the sale of unauthorised FA cup final ticket sales, over concerns that fans may have been 'ripped-off' by touts. This news (PR offensive) is of course entirely predictable given the shellacking that the FA have taken over the allocation of cup final tickets to both United and Chelsea.

Both clubs received just 25,000 tickets for the final, with a further 17,000 going to club Wembley and then another 23,000 going to the FAs own football family - and it is here where much of the problem lies. The FA talks about giving a reward to people up and down the country who 'give up their time' for the game - the fact is this is an out-dated tradition that needs to be scrapped. Having spent a lifetime in amateur football playing and then managing juniors I know that the people involved at those levels do not do it for reward - they do it for the love of the game.

Most of those 23,000 tickets should have been allocated to the two competing clubs, because it is the fans who follow these clubs who need to be rewarded. In continuing this out-dated tradition the FA have created a touts paradise, it is a mess of the FAs own making...

In making this statement of intent to act on the sale of unauthorised tickets the FA are being seen to 'do something' - but there's no mention of the rip-off price of burger and chips, which cost a shocking £8.50. Clearly when it comes to ripping-off the fans the FA are in a class of their own.

Further to which reports claim that the FA have been told that the New Wembley isn't fit to stage a Champions League final because of certain issues, another cock-up?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pundits analysis of FA Cup final is flawed...

I've been slightly amused by many of the reports following the FA Cup final, because nearly every report that I've read has suggested that Jose Mourinho out thought Ferguson on tactics. That wasn't the case as the possession of the ball was fairly even as were the chances created and so no side can claim to have dominated the game on a tactical level.

The best description of the game was that it was a stalemate that was eventually won when Drogba converted Chelsea's best chance of the game - if only Giggs had done likewise when he was presented with United's best chance earlier, instead he only half connected with the ball which led to much controversy when the ball eventually crossed the line off Cech.

As I mentioned after the game perhaps Fergie could have played with two up front, but then Chelsea might have dominated midfield - which did not happen despite what the revisionist media are implying.

Liverpool over confident about Champions League prospects?

The Merseyside Reds are going for their sixth Champions League/European Cup win on Wednesday in Athens when they take on AC Milan in a re-match of the final two years ago.

Liverpool will feel that their name is on the trophy having knocked out the holders Barcelona and Chelsea.

Alan Hansen the BBC pundit and former Liverpool skipper says he's 100% confident that Liverpool will triumph - could that be the kiss of death?

Confirmed: Bryan Robson to manage Sheffield United

The news that we brought you yesterday has finally been confirmed, Bryan Robson the former United and England skipper is set to become the new manager of Sheffield United. Good luck Robbo.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Shrimps make Super Sam a happy man....

According to those who saw the game, the Conference play-off final between Exeter City and Morecambe was a hell of a game, which was eventually won 2-1 by former United hero 'Super' Sammy McIlroy's Morecambe. The result means the Shrimps have been promoted to the football league for the first time. Busby Babe McIlroy manager of the Shrimps was clearly delighted with the win when he said "It ranks right up there with the FA Cup finals, World Cup finals and managing Northern Ireland".

Bryan Robson back in management game?

According to the latest news former United star Bryan 'Robbo' Robson could be set to takeover from Neil Warnock at Sheffield United where he will link up with another United legend Brian Kidd.

Robson has been out of football since he left West Brom, and like Kiddo the former Red's midfielder and England captain remains hugely popular with the Red Army and I'm certain everyone will wish the pair well for next season.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Brazilian striker Alfonso Alves linked to United.....

So here we go on the summer transfer speculation merrygoround and for the remainder of the summer the Red's will be linked to just about every half decent striker going.

One name who hasn't as far as I'm aware been linked previously is prolific goal scorer Brazilian Alfonso Alves who plays for SC Heerenveen, this season the 25 year-old bagged 34 goals from just 31 games. His previous clubs include Malmo FF and another Swedish side, Orgryte IS.

Alves has been linked to Chelsea and it remains to be seen whether or not Fergie will press home his reported interest in the player. A lot will depend on what money is available to spend.

The Brazilian joins an ever growing list of potential summer sigings which includes the following names: Michael Owen, Jermain Defoe, Mark Viduka, Darren Bent, Fernando Tores, Samuel Eto'o, Jan Huntelaar and Dimitar Berbatov.

My personal verdict on this latest transfer link is: Possible.

Summer transfer speculation hots up: First United signing in the bag?

According to the latest news United are about to capture long term transfer target Owen Hargreaves in a move that will cost the Red's around £17m.

Here at United blog towers, we believe Hargreaves will be a great signing, because unlike some of Fergie's more recent signings like Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson, Owen is the real deal, he's an all round midfield player who has a great engine, he can also pass, tackle and score goals.

If United want to go one further next season and win the Champions league then strengthening the midfield is vital, the same applies to the forward line. United also need to sign not one, but two strikers, as it's likely that Saha will be sold due to his almost always constant injury status. United do not want to be in the same position as they found themselves in last January when they were scratching around for strikers like some mid-table second rate club. The big question is, how far does the Glazers ambition stretch in terms of giving the manager the spending power required to match and keep up with Chelsea?

New Wembley same old FA Cup final disappointment...

After so much build up and anticipation to this first Wembley final between the top two sides in the country, it actually came as little surprise that the game was something of a damp squib, because like previous FA Cup finals at the old Wembley they often are.

The first half, apart from a couple of chances for Wayne Rooney (United's best player along with Scholes) was fogettable at best. The second half was marginally better, the big problem was that both Fergie and Mourinho were scared of losing and so both started the game with effectively one striker up front in Rooney and Drogba respectively. Ferguson had both Smith and Ole on the bench, he could have thrown down the gauntlet to Jose and started with one of them alongside Rooney, but instead he went with a more cautious 4-5-1 as did his opposite number. Fergie was probably fearful of the recent Milan mauling where once again United allowed the Italian's to dominate midfield, hence the decision to pack the centre of the park.

No doubting both managers would agree that they weren't there firstly to entertain but to win the cup, but the Reds have been winning and entertaining all season long - Chelsea have been winning as they always seem to, by just doing enough.

As the game went into extra time, you knew it would likely be settled by one goal, it was, but not without a fair degree of controversy as Petra Cech appeared to bundle the ball over the line after an effort from Giggs. Ferguson claimed that it was a goal and that the referee wasn't ideally positioned. The United camp also claimed perhaps with some justification that Steve Bennett had been affected by Jose Mourinho's pre-match comments, as the decisions did seem to go the Blues way...and rather unusually Bennett spoke prior to the game hinting he'd keep on top of certain issues...

In the end the game was settled a very good Drogba goal and United can have few complaints about that. Privately Ferguson would no doubt have preferred to have lost to a good goal rather than losing it on penalties which isn't a good way to end any game.

There will no doubt be further calls for video evidence to be used so as to get these big decisions right but I for one would leave well alone and that is despite the controversy surrounding this hugely disappointing FA Cup final.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Evening News United corrrespondent gets facts wrong over FA Cup record..

Later today United take on Chelsea in the much anticipated FA Cup Final, the Red Devils are of course going for a domestic league and cup double. United have actually won the double three times in the years 1994, 1996 and 1999.

However the Manchester Evening News United correspondent has got his facts wrong here because Stuart Mathieson says that the odds are stacked in the Red's favour because we've always won the FA Cup when we've been crowned League Champions. In point of fact United won the League in 1956-57 but then went on to lose the FA Cup Final to Aston Villa.....oh dear....

Mathieson's FA Cup shocker..

Friday, May 18, 2007

FA Cup Final referee influenced by Mourinho?

Judging by the comments of the FA Cup Final referee Steve Bennett it sounds like Jose Mourinho's comments about Ronaldo and diving have hit home, because Bennett has openly talked about keeping on top of things...

For the sake of football - please stick your cards where the sun doesn't shine Bennett

Bennett infuriated Fergie last January when he wrongly sent off Ronaldo in the Manchester derby, the United winger never touched Andy Cole, but the boy wonder saw the colour red. It was another appalling decision by a poor referee.

The fact is the referee is likely to be the one who ruins the game, and Bennett is typical of many modern refs who wrongly believe that they are the stars of the show, they are not and in my opinion Bennett is one of the worst

Ronaldo's played St Francis of Assisi...

Here's a great little story about Ronaldo's upbringing and this follows on from Jose Mourinho's recent attacks on Cristiano's education, it transpires that the boy wonder went to a good local church school and he even made a fine St Francis of Assisi in a school play...
Local boy fulfils island dream

Following on from this story I have more on this as a very good friend of mine was sat in the family stand last weekend for United's final home game of the Premiership season against West Ham United, he was sat close to Ronaldo's family and while they wont have enjoyed the result, they loved the United fans tribute song to Ronaldo which is based on the the 'Time-warp', the lyrics go like this:

He plays on the left,
he plays on the right,
that boy Ronaldo makes England look shite...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tinkerman bookies favourite to land Man City job...

Apparently there's been a flurry of betting on Claudio Ranieri to takeover from sacked Stuart Pearce. The Italian manager says he loves English football and it sounds like he would relish the challenge at Manchester City, but at the moment he's still employed with Parma and they have two remaining games to play. Ranieri also claims no contact has been made, but he would say that wouldn't he?

The not always on the ball Manchester Evenings News is claiming that the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra could be about to launch his bid to takeover the club - a move which the paper is now describing as 'certain' and added to which Shinawatra and his advisors are overseeing the next managerial appointment...you can sort of understand that, given it is they who will be the new owners. I'd imagine any deal with Ranieri will be agreed subject to the takeover being completed.

I personally have major doubts about Ranieri, during his time at Stamford Bridge he was known to change tactics three times in one half...My prediction is that if indeed the Italian does prove to be the next man in, then Ranieri wont be a City manager for long and the club will eventually bring in another British manager.

Mark Viduka linked to United...

Well I will admit that I didn't see this one coming, because while I rate Mark Viduka in some ways, I'm not sure he's right for United. It isn't that he lacks skill, far from it, but he has always seemed to struggle a bit with fitness problems.

Viduka is available on a free transfer though and just maybe he could turn out to be a shrewd signing, but only if United sign two strikers - which is what I've been predicting will happen for a couple of weeks now.

To sign just one striker and especially if it is only Viduka would be a very unwise move as United would next season find themselves scratching around again in January like happened this year when we fetched in Larsson for three months.

This season we gambled with just Saha, aka sicknote, which has all too often left us short up front with the Frenchman being almost constantly injured.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Man City to appoint Tinkerman as big names turn the Blues down?

IT didn't take Einstein to work out that Louis Van Gaal and Ronald Koeman would turn down the vacant Man City job and that is precisely what has happened in short order. The focus of the media attention now switches firmly onto Claudio Ranieri the dreaded tinkerman who is currently managing another mid-table side in Italy in the form of Parma.
A step forward or backward? Van Gaal's agent knocks back City hinting they aren't a big club...

Police arrest Mourinho following dog row........


File this under bizarre, according to reports Jose Mourinho has been arrested because he's brought his dog back into the UK without it first having the correct jabs for Rabies etc.


Jose and his Poodle are very upset, you can sort of understand it really.....

'Hilario to play up front in FA Cup Final' - Is Mourinho taking the ****?!

The countdown to the first FA Cup Final at the all new Wembley is well and truly ticking down now as as United the new champions (sounds good eh?) prepare to face Chelsea.

According to Jose Mourinho, Chelsea are so short of numbers due to injuries that Portuguese stopper Hilario may well play up front for the Blues, but we know Jose is something of a drama queen and if that happens I for one will be very surprised.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stuart Pearce - a decent bloke in the wrong job?

Now I don't like Man City, I'll make that plain, but I do have a tinge of sympathy for Stuart Pearce who was sacked by the club yesterday. Here's why. Everyone knows how poor City have been this season, their home record has been one to forgot, and it's well documented so there's no need to paint the picture of gloom, though many a visiting keeper could have filled in their free time sketching, so under employed have they been.

From the outside looking in Pearce seems like a decent bloke who might even be too soft to be a top manager. I'll qualify that. As a player he was hard as nails, he took no shit off anyone, he was a leader too. As a manager Pearce took a hard line on certain issues, take for example the Ben Thatcher elbow on Pedro Mendes. City didn't wait for the FA to act, the manager blasted the defender and then he was banned for six games. Highly commendable stuff. However at the same time Joey Barton and one or two others were publicly criticising fellow team-mates, this was a recipe for dressing tensions and unrest and Pearce should have acted to stop it. It didn't stop and most recently Barton said he wouldn't pay to watch City...clearly there was man management issues at the club.

As I understand it Pearce didnt have a proper long term contract, he made it very easy for the club to sack him. Whatever his faults, he seems like a decent bloke who speaks from the heart and one who cared passionately about his job, that much was clear, his all too often contorted face during the game was visual confirmation of that.

On the timing of his exit. We can view this several ways, it could be that the club are doing the dirty work on behalf of the new ownership regime, or it could be that the current owners were not willing to invest any more cash as they'd lost all faith in the manager. Whatever the reasons Pearce will have learnt some harsh lessons and in my opinion in future, if he's got any sense I think he should stick to being an assistant.

On a different tack, it just shows you how completely and utterly clueless some of the British press are, it wasn't long ago that some of these clowns were touting Pearce for the England manager's job.

Van Gaal and Koeman linked to City job - you could not make it up...

Can City persuade Louis to come to the club?

The BBC are claming that City reportedly want a foreign mananger to replace sacked Stuart Pearce, nothing wrong with that, but the BEEB claims that Louis Van Gaal and Ronald Koeman are in the frame. Again there's nothing wrong the Blues ambition but in all honesty why would either of these two high profile managers want to takeover a club like City? I'd be amazed if either was interested, because City have no money to spend.

The talk is that the deposed Prime Minster of Thailand might takeover the club - but will he have enough backing to make City a serious player in the league? I have my doubts personally. This story seems like a cynical ploy to drive up dwindling season ticket sales.

Monday, May 14, 2007

United let themselves and the league down...

Let's not beat about the bush here, no way should United have lost to West Ham on the final day of the season - and anyone who'd argue otherwise can answer this question. IF United had needed the points to win the league, they'd have done so with style and something to spare wouldn't they? Well of course they would. The fact that the team went into this game with less than Fergie's 1st choice eleven together with a complacent attitude speaks volumes about our preparation. United wont want to continue the losing habit next weekend at Wembley.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fergie wants revenge for denying United title?

Fergie has quite rightly told the press that he has a duty to the rest of the league to play a strong side today when United, the champions, take on relegation threatened West Ham United in the last league game of the season. Ferguson also hinted that he's not forgotten that West Ham denied the Reds the title in 1994-1995, neither have the fans. Given the circumstances surrounding this game it would then be perhaps best for all concerned if United beat the Hammers today and Wigan win against Sheffield to send the London club down. IF that happens Richard Scudamore the Premier League chairman will be a very relieved man. Anything other than that scenario is likely to result in action in the law courts.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Geordie/Scouser's try to kidnap Michael Owen...

This is quite funny actually and definitely worth watching, it's a poor-man's Max and Paddy. In this video Freddy Shepherd, Newcastle's chairman, hints that Owen can go for £9m this summer and he says that he's willing to carry him back to Anfield.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hacks with personal agendas get knickers in a twist over gentleman's agreement.

Shock horror, the hacks with agendas are coming out of the woodwork trying to get United docked points because Tim Howard didn't face his former club in the recent Everton v United game which the Red's won 4-2.

Martin Samuel hasn't stopped carping about this for about two weeks - we know why, the team he supports could be docked points for breaking Premier league rules. This is the same chap who was advocating a relaxation of the rules because third party ownership of players is ok in other parts of the world. In my opinion this is a very dangerous road to go down, further to which Carlos Tevez is still owned by a third party and that cannot be right either.

Clearly you can have a gentelman's agreement as long as it's not in writing - I'd argue that there has been cases in the past where this has happened and it will happen again in the future, I'm sure it has happened following controversial moves and it kind of makes sense in some circumstances.

However, Samuel is suggesting this is the start of the slippery road to curruption and then tries to justify his arguments by saying look what happened in Italian football, which is a slur on English football that has by and large be free of corruption.

Is is not somewhat ironic that it is this same hack is advocating that it is ok for third parties to own players, which seems far more murky and open to potential abuse?

FA kick Ball where it hurts, as the Blues uncertain future looks set to continue...

So then Michael Ball has been given a three match ban for his spiteful stamp on Ronaldo. Quite right too. His team-mate Joey Barton looks odds-on to join Sunderland, City fans will have mixed feelings about losing arguably their best player. Reading's Steven Sidwell might be a likely replacement.

I think Man City could well find themselves fighting off relegation next season unless something happens regarding the clubs ownership.

Red's fans want West Ham relegated...

I know for a fact that I'm not alone in wanting West Ham relegated, we still haven't forgiven them for helping to deny us the title back in season 1994-1995. Many also feel agrieved that West Ham have blantly broken Premier League rules when signing the two Argentines. Wigan and other clubs involved in the relegation fight want to see West Ham docked points. To save any legal challenges of which there has been talk, it would be best for all then if the 'happy Hammers' get relegated this weekend, best for all except West Ham of course. I'm fairly certain Man United will do the business this weekend and beat the Hammers, but will Wigan save themselves against Sheffield United?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chelsea 0-0 United - a damp squib if ever there was one...

I don't know about the rest of you Red's out there in the big Red universe, but I for one had been dreading this final pre FA Cup Final game at Stamford Bridge for most of the season, reason being there could have been so much riding on this game if United hadn't done the business in our very difficult run-in. IT could quite easily have been the case that United could have needed to win against Chelsea to secure the title. In the end the result did not matter, it was academic as the title was sewn up on the previous weekend.

Let's not forget also that this fixture was re-arranged due to both United and Chelsea progressing in the FA Cup, but again that did not happen and so both clubs were spared facing off in what could have been a crucial title decider.

So onto the game, frankly it was an appalling match, United were pretty much a shadow of the team that has given so many fans so much pleasure this season. There were few attacks from United, save for a second half penalty shout when Eagles looked to be brought down inside the Chelsea penalty area - that was United's best chance. Dong doesn't look as though he's going to be able to rise to United's very high expectations, though to be fair he is only very young.

In truth there was very little to get you excited about this United team and performance, Richardson strolled around as if he was Ronaldo - but he did little to suggest that he should be retained this summer. It was a tired and dull backs to wall performance from a lacklustre largely second-string United team.

Both Chelsea and United fans didn't get value for money in pure football terms from this game - it was as they say a damp squib, the main highlight for the travelling Red's was sticking it up Jose Mourinho - that was priceless...

Running the rule over United's top summer transfer targets...

It's that time again folks, the summer transfer window is nearly open for business, the tabloid press sports pages are full of stories linking all and sundry to United and our rivals.

It's a tricky old time for many fans who will henceforth search every column inch for news of impending summer signings, whether you support Manchester United or Macclesfield Town it is exactly the same, the fees and numbers will of course be different but all fans want to see their first XI strengthened.

So what of Manchester United and their summer spending plans? We the fans were led to believe by the Glazers' spin doctors that there would be an annual spend of £25m on players - there was also talk of an additional one off £20m if a Rooney type of player became available.

However, last summer United reportedly made a profit on transfers, it begs the question what is likely to happen this summer. Time will tell. What we do know is that this week Fergie has let it be known he has identified three targets, he did this without actually naming them.

So the guessing game has begun in earnest. One target is Owen Hargreaves, it's fairly obvious to all that the player is desperate to join United, the transfer fee is likely to be £17m or thereabouts.

Then we come to our striker department, it seems almost certain that Louis Saha aka man in bandages will be sold due to his constant 'injuries', so assuming he goes United will then need two strikers - which is what I expect Fergie wants.

Assuming Saha is sold (we wont get back half what we paid for him - it was ever thus) that will net United £6m. So then if we add that to the promised £25m that will give Fergie around £31m to find three players.

Let's take a quick look at the names who are in the frame, but before I run the rule over the strikers who have been linked to the Red's, I'd like to issue a word of caution to anyone who is wet behind the ears on such matters. It isn't unknown for 'unnamed sources close to United' to indicate the clubs' interest in various big name players.

We have to take these stories with a rather large pinch of salt. One such story appeared in today's Independent, the story (with no quotes - which is usually the way of these things) stated that Red's have been told that if they want Samuel Eto'o from Barcelona, then the fee will be £40m. Clearly that sort of money is out of the question. It was a none story and a good one to print on an otherwise quiet news day... So my advice is forget any notion of Eto'o joining United this summer or any time soon.

Then we come to Berbatov at Spurs, we've been reading rumours of United's supposed interest for several weeks now. The Bulgarian looks to be the almost perfect fit, he can play on his own up front and he can drop deep in the Cantona role. Again the fee is likely to be a big problem. Spurs are a selling club as they proved with the sale of Michael Carrick. The North London club paid £11m last summer to acquire the Bulgarian, they will no doubt want to double their money and United are daft enough to pay it. Verdict: Berbatov is the Red's number one striker target.

Michael Owen's name has been cropping up in reports, and the Newcastle Chairman has today stated that he believes sources close to the player are touting him around. Freddy Shepherd has also stated that none of the big four clubs are interested and added to which the former Liverpool striker has only played 11 full league games since his move to the Geordies in 2005 which is due to injuries. Once again the fee would be a potential problem. Newcastle paid a massive £16m for the striker, his injury problems must raise questions about the likelihood of anyone matching that figure should the Magpies decide to sell. Not only that Owen is a bit one dimensional in terms of what he offers as a striker. Yes he's got a great goal scoring record, but he's not a target man and he's not from the same mold as Cantona. My verdict, too expensive, not right in terms of attributes. Unlikely.

Jermaine Defoe, another Spurs player and like Michael Owen another fox in the box. Like Owen he's a bit one dimensional. But if you wanted a fox in the box type of player Defoe is a cheaper option. Verdict: Do not rule it out.

Fernando Torres is another young big name player who's been linked umpteen times to United and this week he's let it be known he's a big fan of rivals Liverpool. Torres is an all round striker and he's quick, the problem will be the fee and competition from rivals Chelsea and Liverpool. Verdict: Unlikely.

Dutch scoring sensation Klaas Jan Huntelaar has been linked to several top English clubs and there appears to be plenty of interest, but again the fee and competition will be fierce if his club Ajax decide that he can leave. Verdict: Unlikely.

Darren Bent has been linked to United several times and with his club Charlton getting relegated then he will no doubt be linked again. He's a player who might improve in a better side than Charlton. He's quick and direct, but I'm not sure he's good enough. Verdict: Do not rule it out, the price could be tempting for United.

To recap, pay little attention to potential big money signings, and always remember that the Red's will be shelling out £17m on Hargreaves and so assuming we only have £31m available then it doesn't leave much for two strikers.

Also remember that last summer's acquisitions were funded by outgoing players - so don't rule out that happening again, but this time we don't have Van Nistelrooy to sell, so the Glazers' will have find the cash from somewhere, or will they?????...

It wouldn't actually surprise me if Hargreaves comes in, Saha is sold and then United sign a token replacement, you can read into that what you like. Suffice to say it will be one of the names mentioned above. The Glazers' have to back up their rhetoric with hard cash. If United only sign Hargreaves and replace Saha with a makeweight it will have been a bad summer in terms of strengthening but do not rule it out..

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Watching Liverpool and Chelsea = s*** on the end of a stick?

Former Real Madrid coach Jorge Valdano has accused Jose Mourinho of destroying the beautiful game, at least that is how his comments are being interpreted by the tabloid press. Valdano reportedly said "Put s*** hanging from a stick in the middle of a passionate stadium and people will tell you it's a work of art. Chelsea and Liverpool are the clearest example of the way football is going, very intense, very tactical, very physical and very direct".

Ferguson backing Milan to lift the Champions League trophy..

According to Sir Alex Ferguson, Milan are dead certs to win the Champions League - I'm not so sure. Liverpool might not be up there with the Red's and Chelsea in the Premiership, but when it comes to the Champions League they know how to win games and having knocked out Barca and Chelsea - they will rightly believe that this is their year again. I can see the game going to penalties and if that happens Liverpool will win because they have a superb shot stopper in Reina.

Fergie's comments will no doubt give further incentive to Liverpool, as if it were needed

Fergie makes up with Jose ahead FA Cup Final warm-up game...

Sir Alex Ferguson appears to be making up with rival Jose Mourinho following their recent spat over Cristiano Ronaldo, the Chelsea manager delivered a few below the belt blows about the winger's upbringing. Fergie hit back telling Mourinho that he lacked class. But with the dust settling at the end of a superb title race United are preparing to visit Stamford Bridge for the Red's penultimate league game and Fergie is talking about sharing a bottle or red wine with Jose. How nice.

Regarding affairs on the pitch, United will apparently field a weakened side in preparation for the Cup Final, I have my doubts that Chelsea will do likewise, Mourinho will want to show who is boss before the two sides meet on May 19th in that first Wembley final. Mourinho never misses a chance to score a psychological blow and whoever wins tonight will do just that.

Fergie preparing for Jose love-in

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ferguson fears being outbid by Chelsea....

Fergie has stated that United have targeted three top summer transfer targets, but he fears that rivals Chelsea might outbid the Red Devils. Full story

Monday, May 07, 2007

Gill praises the Glazer family - I'm going to be sick...

Please pass me a bucket I'm going to be sick, because following the Red's title success yesterday, David Gill United's CEO, has been praising the Glazer family - wait for it, because they've given the club stability...ha, ha, ha, but surprise, surprise no mention of the £600m+ debts the Glazers' have heaped upon the club.

Let us not forget that Leeds United this week went into administration with debts of only £35m. The Whites previously had debts of over £100m, a fraction of those at United. It doesn't therefore take Einstein to work out that it wouldn't take much for United to go the same way as Leeds, a bad season or two could bring down the house of cards that is Manchester United under the ownership of the Glazer family.

Let us also not forget that it was David Gill who warned against the Glazer family taking over, stating rightly that it wasn't in United's best long term interests.

The Red's title success this season has been a truly remarkable achievement given what happened last summer. The club did not replace Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and then United found themselves scratching around like a second rate club looking for strikers. Henrik Larsson was eventually brought in but the Red's should haven't have been in this position in the first place. The club actually reportedly made a net profit on transfers. In my view United's title success has been achieved in spite of the Glazer family. Ferguson and his players deserve the plaudits and no one else save for perhaps the fans.

What happened at Leeds should serve as a timely reminder to all, and no one not even revisionists like David Gill is going to kid me or anyone else who can think for themselves that saddling United with £600m+ of debts is a good thing. I can think of many words to describe what the Glazers have given United, stability isn't among them.

United's proliferation of Premiership managers...

Try saying that when you're pissed... Next season, United will have four old boys managing clubs in the Premiership: Keane at Sunderland, Bruce at Birmingham, Hughes at Blackburn and Coppell at Reading. They were all great players in their own right and all were winners with lion sized hearts.

However, the thorny issue of who exactly will eventually replace Fergie was brought up again yesterday as Sir Alex was asked when he's likely to retire. The manager says he's invigorated when he sees Giggs, Scholes and the young players coming in to work every day, but he doesn't know how much longer he will be around. I suspect if the Red's had won the Champions League again, he might have gone this summer. He could still retire this summer, as he'd go out as a winner like Cantona did a few seasons ago.

Of the United old boys Hughes or Keane would be most fans tips to replace Fergie and the latter will now be the bookies favourite. For me however, Keane is still unproven in the Premiership as a manager. There's been countless managers who've been able to get clubs promoted out of the old first division, but not many who've been deemed good enough to cut the mustard at the very biggest clubs. I'm thinking of the likes of Harry Bassett and Joe Royle.

Keane will keep Sunderland up next season, how he deals with the inevitable defeats along the way will form apart of his managerial learning experience. His recent comment that Sunderland would have beaten Chelsea was either tongue in cheek or naive. On a different tack, I seriously doubt Mourinho will be taking liberties with the Irishman on the touchline next season, if nothing else as far as the Black Cats are concerned, that is something we can all look forward to next season should Jose still be in charge at the Bridge.

Back to Fergie and his future, I think the big clubs are fearful of appointing a manager who lacks European managerial experience, this would rule out all of the United old boys. But who would back against Keane pulling it off given the chance?

Evans wants return to United - why the Red's most not sell him...

United's brilliant young Northern Ireland defender Johnny Evans whose just picked a Championship medal at Sunderland and has also won the Black Cats Young Player of the Year Award, has made it crystal clear that he wants to return to United.

The worry is that under the Glazer regime, United have been accused of penny pinching, I've lost count of the number of young players who've been either sold or sent out on loan to reduce the wage bill. This was clearly an act of short-sighted madness as far as Evans is concerned, United have been down to the bare bones of late due to injuries and our Kamikaze defending against Milan cost us dearly, without any shadow of a doubt Evans could have helped secure a place in the Champions League final in Athens later this month.

So what will United do if as I expect Sunderland come knocking with a big money offer for Evans? We will have to wait and see.

IF United want to sell a defender this summer then there's other options at the club. Silvestre and Brown to name but two. It would be a criminal act of negligence to sell Evans. You do not win leagues by selling your best young players, Ferguson surely doesn't need reminding of that. We need to build on the best youth the British Isles can muster and not cash in for a quick few quid.

Evans wants to return.

Two fingered salute to those who wrote United off this season..

IT was interesting to read yesterday that Alan Hansen wrote United off again at the beginning of the current season - writing them off is perhaps a bit strong, because the BBC pundit actually predicted that Chelsea would win the title. Hansen wasn't on his own there, many in the media backed Chelsea to win the title for the third time on the bounce. I have to admit that I too honestly couldn't see United lasting the distance, oh ye of little faith. Such has been Chelsea's amazing consistency since Mourinho took over.

The key to United's title success was retaining Ronaldo, he could quite easily have walked away last summer. But once again Fergie pulled out the stops to keep the player at the club, just as he did with Eric Cantona a few seasons back. The Portuguese winger has been nothing short of sensational and his double PFA and Football Writers awards are richly deserved - long may it continue...

One big name former Chelsea player predicted that United would win the title race ahead of his former club, he also predicted that it would be a Milan v Liverpool Champions League final, yes none other than the man of style Gian Luca Vialli got it all right. You do wonder who Vialli is tipping to win the FA Cup Final?

To those who thought Chelsea would win the title we salute you - with two fingers.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Congratulations to Keane and Sunderland, but now we want Evans back...

It's been an interesting season up at the Stadium of Light, few even Mother Teresa AKA Niall Quinn the Black Cats chairman thought Keane would take the club back to the Premiership this season, but that is where Sunderland are heading under the guidance of Roy Keane.

The Irishman has done brilliantly, no one will argue with that, but now he has to build his squad for the big league and his number one priority will be to try and persuade United to sell Johnny Evans to the Black Cats.

If United sell Evans to Sunderland it will turn out to be one of United's biggest ever mistakes in the transfer market because I predict the Northern Ireland defender will be better than John Terry. We must not sell Evans no matter what Sunderland offer for the player.

Chelsea guard of honour awaits Red Devils at Stamford Bridge as United are crowned Champions...

As I posted before today's Arsenal v Chelsea game, it was all over bar the shouting, that game finished up 1-1 and so it is definitely all over now and United have deservedly been crowned Champions.

Chelsea have been outstanding this season coming back from the dead to steal the points on numerous ocassions, but the Red Devils have been even better because we've played more of an attacking game and I think it's fair to say we've been the entertainers whereas Chelsea have been more workman like. To sum up it's been a case of artists and artisans.

United and Chelsea have had bad injuries to cope with, but as Fergie pointed out today, the Blues squad is stronger than United's and has more depth to it. So here again United have done brilliantly because not only have we managed to cope with serious injuries to key players, the club also sold Ruud Van Nistelrooy in the summer and did not replace him.

To beat Chelsea in the race for the title is a remarkable achievement and it is fully deserved. The Blues guard of honour awaits United at Stamford Bridge in midweek.

Quite what will happen in our remaining games with Chelsea this season remains to be seen. United and Chelsea will want to win the league game and the FA Cup final and let's not forget that some of us, me included, would like to see West Ham relegated in our final league game to repay them for denying us the title a few seasons back.

It's all over for Chelsea...

Despite Jose Mourinho's assertion that he's not ready to concede the title to Manchester United, the Red Devils only need to secure a point against West Ham on the final day of season or at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. It is all over bar Mourinho's incessant carping.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ronaldo avenges spiteful City

Cristiano Ronaldo was stamped on by City's Michael Ball early in the Manchester derby, it was a cowardly spiteful act, delivered with the intent of taking out the Portuguese winger, it went unpunished by the hapless referee Rob Styles, who had a very poor game in my opinion.

Justice was done not long after when Ball tripped Ronaldo inside the penalty area and for once the referee got a decision correct and Ronaldo converted the resulting spot kick. The match finished up 1-0 to the Red's and it means City's ended the season at home without scoring again.

A better side than City would have easily done United today, because they looked tired and jaded. Chelsea will probably beat United in midweek, but by then the league title might be decided but United will want to put on some sort of performance ahead of the Cup final.

There's no doubt about it though the Red's are suffering from a Champions League hangover.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Leeds United sold and relegated on the same day...

I find this news ever so slightly incredible. As I posted earlier in the afternoon there was strong rumours circulating to the effect that Leeds United were about to go into administration. The idea being that the club would avoid a 10 point deduction next season by taking it on the chin this season. Which is precisely what has happened, but not only that the new appointed KPMG administrators have agreed to sell the club to a new company which is owned by Ken Bates, who is currently the majority shareholder. I'm less than convinced that the consortiums hovering around in the background who were looking to buy the club will be entirely happy, I can only assume that KPMG have brokered an agreement with the existing creditors for this deal to go through. Leeds have a reported debt of £35m. Could the administrators have got a better deal for the clubs creditors?

As a result of these moves today, it means Leeds United have been officially relegated.

UPDATE: On further investigation, the sale of the club is subject to the agreement of the clubs existing creditors. This sorry saga is far from over....

Manchester derby preview...

So tomorrow United take on City in the Manchester derby, this game means a lot to both sets of fans, but it means even more to success starved City fans because it has been City's cup final for as long as I can remember. They hate United with a passion.

I actually know City fans who'd be happily relegated if they'd taken points off United in the same season, sad but it's true.

I also know a season ticket holder who hasn't seen the Blues score at home since last November... We only need a point tomorrow to more or less secure the title. Which will be another reason the City players will be giving everything they've got on Saturday.

Leeds United set for Administration?...

According to the latest news concerning troubled Leeds United, they could be about to go into administration in a bid to avoid a 10 points deduction next season. It's a sorry state of affairs, you do wonder where it will all end.

When football clubs go into administration, the bank appoints an indepenedent administrator to run its financial affairs, worst case the club can be sold off. A club can only remain in administration for 18 months.

It's understood that there's several consortiums looking to buy Leeds United, one them includes the Leeds United Supporters Trust.


The author who wrote this piece needs to update the graph....

Further reading - Clubs in Crisis

Steve Heighway attacks Benitez - but makes a very interesting point...

Former Liverpool star and academy director Steve Heighway has gone on the offensive after being moved aside from his post at Liverpool, who of course beat United in the recent FA Youth Cup final on penalties.

It doesn't look good when the Merseyside Red's have just won the top youth trophy and then the club removes the man at helm of your academy set-up, but that is precisely what happened and perhaps understandably Heighway isn't happy.

The most interesting comment from Heighway is that first team managers like Benitez should not be allowed to influence their own academy. The thought of Fergie not being allowed to influence his own youth set-up seems proposterous, the same must therefore apply at Liverpool.

So is it just sour grapes on the part of Heighway? I don't know the answer to that one but I'd like to hear Heighway's reasoning. One thing I do know is that Fergie has blasted the academy system saying that they haven't worked.

This year's youth cup final was between United and Liverpool, both clubs have an excellent recent history (United more so) of producing home grown talent. The same cannot be said of the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal. English clubs need to get their youth systems right and producing top British talent for the sake of our game.

Ronaldo wins Football Writers Award...

Great news for Ronaldo as he's scooped another top award, this time he's been voted as the Football Writers Player of The Year. Apparently he was a runaway winner. Didier Drogba came runner-up and you have to say he's had a fantastic season too. I'm hoping Ronaldo does the business in our remaining games, but he looked jaded against Milan in midweek.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

United's choice of boots cost them dearly in Milan horror show...

United were on the wrong end of what can only be descrided as a 3-0 hammering in the San Siro last night. The result killed any lingering hope of an all English Champions League final - but many will be happy about that given the history between United and Liverpool.

The Red's performance was nothing short of embarrassing as time and time again they didn't pick up players around the United penalty area. United weren't helped by the absence of Rio Ferdinand, however Vidic returned but looked understandably a bit rusty.

What I couldn't understand was the United players choice of boots/studs. The conditions weren't great, Milan had relaid the pitch for this game, it was perfectly flat, but when the game kicked off it did so in heavy rain.

However, many of the United players couldn't stand up due to water on the pitch, this factor played a large part in the Red's downfall. United had gone one down early in the game to an excellent Kaka goal - though he was left totally unmarked on the edge of the box, before that Van der Sar had to make a good save from Seedorf, then just a few minutes after the Brazilian scored inexplicably Heinze who had already fallen over about three times collected the ball on the left edge of the United box and instead of clearing his lines he played it back to Vidic who then fell over as he tried to clear the ball, the ball wasn't cleared and eventually Seedorf crashed it home. That second goal left United with a mountain to climb.

What followed was nothing short of embarrassing really as United didn't hurt Milan in any way shape or form. Tactically Milan had all the answers as they closed down United time and time again. The Red's best chance fell to Fletcher who was put through by Rooney, but just as the Scot was about to shoot, he slipped and fell over as he kicked the ball and sliced it wide. That was the story of United, sloppy all over the park, falling over like the Keystone Cops, it was a night to forget. Not one player barring possibly Van der Sar can hold up his head.

While United players were falling around, the Milan players were not, I'm not saying that the Red's would have won if they'd chosen the right boots/studs, but I'm saying that if they'd paid more attention to the length of studs then they wouldn't have been falling over and that second goal wouldn't have gone in and Fletcher might well have scored. Getting such details wrong at this level is frankly unacceptable.

Next up it's Man City, the Red's wont have any time for moping we need to win this game or at least take a point, losing the game would be fatal.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mourinho to join Real Madrid?

Ok, I haven't actually read that anywhere else yet today, so I thought I'd be the one to suggest it first. I honestly can see Jose Mourinho leaving Chelsea this summer, especially if they should lose the league and the FA Cup to United. One thing is for certain, there will be no quadruple, at best Chelsea can win a domestic treble. A cup double is the most likely but I'm hoping that United can stop that too, obviously.

Few will have any sympathy for Mourinho if he's booted out, he's upset too many people for that to happen. I wouldn't bet against Mourinho managing Real Madrid next season.

Reina burgled on night of glory - only in Liverpool?

It wasn't all good news for Liverpool hero Reina whose penalty saves helped to take the Merseyside club through to the Champions League final for the second time in three years. The Spanish stopper joins a growing list of high profile players who've been burgled while playing for either Liverpool or Everton.
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Mourinho shows lack of grace after losing, no surprise is it?

Contrary to the views expressed after the game by Jose Mourinho, Chelsea were not the best team at Anfield last night as Liverpool won 4-1 on penalties. The fact is Chelsea blew it last week at Stamford Bridge when they were by far the better team.

Last night Kuyt wrongly had a good goal disallowed and having matched the visitors all over the park, the Anfield Red's deserved to win the game. Not only that Reina proved that based on that performance he's better at saving penalties than Cech. The Chelsea keeper didn't get close to making a shut-out, while Reina was superb, he was on his toes for every penalty. Cech is the bigger keeper out of the two and there's no doubting he's class, but in that shoot-out, Cech looked wooden when compared to the agile Spaniard.

In my opinion Benitez has got under the skin of Mourinho, the Spaniard seems to know how to stifle Chelsea, especially in cup games. Take last night Joe Cole and Frank Lampard weren't in the game much in an attacking sense. But it was that sort of game, it was more about not losing than taking chances and attacking. Mourinho has his faults and one of them is the purists like me will argue that he is at times over cautious. Why didn't Mourinho bring on Boulahrouz and push Essien forward in place of Mikel? Essien did make one late powerful run forward when supplying substitute Wright-Phillips with a great ball which should have led to Drogba scoring, but the Ivory Coast man didn't connect properly. Jose Mourinho has made many crucial in game tactical changes but last night wasn't his finest hour.

We all can recognise Mourinho's fantastic record, only a fool would question what he's achieved. But Jose doesn't do cavalier football, it isn't and never has been his way, and in Benitez he's met his match when it comes to knowing how not to lose games. Both Mourinho and Benitez know how to play defensive football, the Spaniard built his reputation on it with Valencia, so in that respect and especially in the cup games Chelsea have met their match in Benitez's Liverpool.

Mourinho might recall his Porto knocking out United a few seasons back. Now United really did not get the rub of the green that day, Scholes had a perfectly good goal disallowed and unlike Liverpool we lost on the night. What goes around comes around eventually.

I doubt Chelsea will collapse but Sunday's game with Arsenal is going to be very interesting.

Next up though the Red Devils take on Milan in a game that is guaranteed to have many more highlights that we saw at Anfield, because United don't do dour football. Hang on the seat of your pants...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Vidic and Rio both back in contention to face Milan.

Great news on the injury front as both Rio Ferdinand and Vidic travelled to Italy for United's semi-final second leg tomorrow night in the San Siro when United take on the might of AC Milan. Also in the squad is sicknote Saha, which is somewhat surprising.

In tonight's other semi-final it looks to be going really pear-shaped for Chelsea as Ballack has been ruled out of Chelsea's next few games after going under the surgeon's knife back in Germany, which has apparently caused diplomatic issues between the player, his national team doctor and Chelsea. As if that wasn't bad enough Shevchenko hasn't travelled to Anfield for the big game this evening. Oh dear.

CL semi preview: Liverpool v Chelsea - it's like shooting fish in a barrel

Assuming United can manage to somehow pull off a win in Milan tomorrow and in doing so qualify for the final of the Champions League in Athens, then from a Red's perspective, you really couldn't care less too much who wins the tie between Liverpool and Chelsea. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, you cannot fail to hit one of our bitter rivals.

But from purely a football perspective, who would most Red's like to face?
Liverpool are deadly enemies of the Red Devils, the rivalry is intense to say the least. Until Mourinho arrived at the Bridge, 90% of Red's would I'm sure have preferred to face Chelsea in the final, but under the Portuguese they are formidable at the back and so from a football point of view I think a lot of United fans might prefer to face Liverpool. We also face Chelsea in the FA Cup final, neither Chelsea or United would want to lose the FA Cup final then face the same opponents in Athens just a few days later, but it could happen.

I'm fairly certain both Liverpool and Chelsea will be hoping that Milan win tomorrow night.

If I was going to back anyone in the game at Anfield tonight my money would be on Liverpool.

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