Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Fergie has had to play Rooney on the left wing too often, this in part is because Rooney could do the job arguably better than anyone else in a 4:3:3 formation. With Ronaldo gone, Fergie needs to find someone who can attack and defend from a wide position because as we saw in the Champions League final United's midfield crumbled, one player who is currently up for grabs and one who could do a great job down the left flank is Royston Drenthe.
The combination of Evra and Drenthe would provide United with a solid left flank, what's more the Real Madrid star can play left-back too, this is an area where Fergie has been lacking in quality options... On the opposite flank United could well have Valencia and Da Silva.
IF Fergie can make United stronger across the midfield it will give the manager more scope and flexibility in his attacking options, he could switch to a 4:4:2 formation safe in knowledge that he has players who will give 100% commitment in all areas of the engine room.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Wayne Rooney has laid down his intentions for the season after revealing he wants to play as a central striker. The United star was often shifted out to the wing last term as Sir Alex Ferguson used Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez down the middle, but with the pair gone, Rooney now sees himself as the man who can take on the goal responsibility.
Rooney grabbed 20 goals in 39 starts last season, while the season before he managed 18 goals in 39 starts, but this season the former Everton man is hoping to contribute more and fulfil his true potential.
United will have to bolster their squad, with a winger - probably Antonio Valencia - and a striker top of Fergie's wishlist, as it seems a good Premier League bet that even a pumped up Rooney firing on all cylinders won't get anywhere near the 104 that Ronaldo (72) and Tevez blasted in two seasons (34).
It's a huge void to fill for the champions, but Rooney is confident, with a little help, he can fire United to more glory in the coming season.
"We've lost two key players and obviously I hope we can get a few players in," Rooney told The Times. "Between them Cristiano and Carlos scored a lot of goals for us last season and the season before, but I would like to think I'm capable of filling that gap.
"I've said before that, if I can play in my right position, I'm capable of doing that.
"I want to play in the position where I feel I'm best.
"A lot of people think I'm best as a centre forward. To play in a Champions League final and to play week in, week out for Manchester United is a privilege and it's something I'm very lucky to be doing, but I don't think playing on the wing I can express myself as much as I like to."
Sunday, June 28, 2009
In the wake of Ronaldo's move to Real Madrid, it would appear the last thing United need right now is another slow forward. The previous summer Ferguson signed Berbatov, as skilful as he is, his lack of pace is a rather obvious weakness. The champions have just sold one of the strongest runners with the ball in the game, conventional logic dictates that in a bid to retain a measure of continuity it is of paramount importance that Ferguson finds a striker with similar strong running qualities coupled with goal-scoring ability to augment his severly depleted strike-force.
As the search for potential replacements goes on, United supporters' attention has naturally been firmly focused on who will replace the World Player of The Year, the name of Huntelaar has been cropping up in reports linking him with a move to United, after just one season in Spain we are told the former Ajax striker is up for sale, which could be viewed as damning if it were not for the fact that reports also claim Florentino Perez has thrown a hissy-fit when sanctioning the sale of Madrid's Dutch contingent en block.
Like his team-mate Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Huntelaar isn't blessed with pace, but his goal-scoring record is pretty impressive, however, unlike his fellow countryman most of his goals were plundered in the relatively poor Dutch league. Hutelaar's goals-scoring record in the Champions League and on the international stage isn't anything to shout about, he's not a regular starter for the Netherlands.
On the fact it, despite his goal-scoring record in the Netherlands it would appear Huntelaar is not the right option for Ferguson right now, not when you factor in Berbatov and his lack of pace.
If Fergie makes a move for Huntelaar, despite whatever reasons the manager gives it will be the wrong move from a squad point of view. Fergie could play Berbatov and Huntelaar in the same starting eleven, but the lack of pace would make it easier for opposition managers' to plot against United from a tactical perspective.
Quite who will score the goals this coming season for United is a good question to ask, at this juncture we are no nearer answering that question, but it is one that many fans will be asking for the remainder of the summer.
At this moment in time Ferguson and United stand accused of failing to plan ahead in the event of Ronaldo and Tevez leaving. The latter was wholly avoidable – but the fans accept Ronaldo's move was inevitable. Failure to plan and act decisively could well cost United very dearly this coming season.
Despite the latest claims I cannot see United being outbid by Arsenal on this occasion, however, the player might prefer London over Manchester, there's also the rather obvious French connection and so we cannot dismiss this story out of hand. As ever on such occasions there's no direct quotes - so watch this space for further developments...
On a separate note, Scott over at Republik of Mancunia is running a summer competition...in between scanning all news sources for updates on transfers you might want to trundle over for a look-see..
ROM Summer Competition
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Costa, recently dubbed the new Ronaldo in some of the tabloids, was invited for a 20-day trial at Carrington so that Sir Alex Ferguson could run the rule over the slightly built 18-year-old. However that idea has been met with contempt by his club, who believe the Brazil youth starlet has nothing to prove. Their president Duda Kroeff said: "We have said to them [Manchester United] that this will not happen.
"Douglas is not at the stage where he would go through such a situation."
Douglas along with Santos winger Neymar and Palmeiras striker Keirrison have been tracked by several of Europe's top clubs over the last 12 months and the starlet is believed to have a 21 million euro buyout clause lodged in his contract which runs until 2013.
The attacking midfielder, who can also play on the left, has played less than 20 first-team games for Gremio, but he did star for Brazil at the South American Under-20 Youth Championships in January and finished the tournament as Brazil’s second top goal scorer with three goals.
His agent Cesar Bottega, who is no doubt rubbing his hands together at the prospect of his client being touted around Europe's big guns, is unsure whether United will be willing to match Gremio's buyout clause for a player, who scored on his first-team debut last season.
However Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid are also interested in Douglas, whose club are currently playing him in the reserves so as not to burn the youngster out.
Real Madrid are going to sign Frank Ribery, they have already signed Ronaldo and Kaka - and quite probably David Villa too. The stories linking Valencia to Real are not quite in the realms of Gary Breen to Barcelona - which has to go down as arguably the most far-fetched rumour of the last decade, but it is silly nonetheless.
Wigan signed Valencia for an undisclosed fee, so if United make them a reasonable offer then they should accept it because frankly no other leading Premier League club appears to want him.
We all have our own opinions of relative worth and the views that I have personally canvassed suggest a fee of around £6m-£8m would be fair. United being United will eventually probably agree to pay three times that, but should they? Personally I'd call Wigan's bluff and give them a take-it or leave-it over.
Valencia will not provide an answer to United's goal scoring problems this coming season, he is unproven at the very highest level, signing him will be a gamble - the last thing we need is another Djemba-Djemba - the club has enough journeymen players' at it is.
United should only be shelling out big money for those who the manager believes will definitely improve the quality of the squad; the jury is very much out on Valencia.
Last week in the wake of the stories linking United to stars like Ribery and David Villa I posted that the club should forget about these two players' and concentrate on finding the next Ronaldo or David Beckam. One week later and United are indeed being linked to the next Ronaldo in the form of Gremio's Douglas Costa - that is the way forward for the champions.
Costa could arguably be more of a gamble than Valencia, given the language barrier and his age, added to which the Premier League is quite physical, however, reports suggest he could go on to be a truly great player, no one is saying that about Valencia apart from those who are looking to sell him.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
According to reports, United have been monitoring Costa for 12 months and were urged to sign him last summer. If Fergie decides to make a move for the Brazilian any deal will be subject to obtaining a work permit for the 18-year-old, the transfer fee could be as much as £21m.
While Costa looks like a really skilful player who will no doubt do very well should United conclude a deal to bring him to Old Trafford, the question of who will score the goals next season remains a big one. Lyon's Benzema has reiterated his desire to stay in France for a further 12 months, but money talks and so we shouldn't rule out another potentially decent signing. It is worth pointing out that Benzema only scored 17 goals last season, that's just two more than Carlos Tevez, but unlike the Argentine he was his club's first-choice striker.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Speaking live on Sky Sports News Kia Joorabchian confirmed that talks between United and the player's advisors' ended on Friday night after it emerged that the Argentine wanted more time to think about his future and United's offer of a five year contract.
Kia Joorabchian said that in the end the two parties agreed not further talks and that the deal collapsed by mutual consent. Joorabchian also hinted that Tevez may well feel aggrieved at his treatment given the club has had two years to secure the player's long term future.
Clearly United are in a hurry to sort out the squad for next season but fans will want to know why the club couldn't have made their offer to the player earlier. United are now looking to sign not one but two world-class strikers, which is going to be very expensive indeed.
Questions should be asked of David Gill regarding his future if United do not fill the void left by Ronaldo and Tevez. The fans accept losing Ronaldo was unavoidable but there's no excuse concerning the Argentine.
Fergie will find it difficult to find another striker who will consistently give 100% week-in, week-out. The fans will be especially disappointed about this news, and sensible observers will likely concur the player has been treated unfairly by Fergie and the club who only came up with a long-term deal at the death. Chances are Tevez will sign for Manchester City and with Ferguson now short of two top strikers the club could be heading for a goal-scoring crisis next season.
Manchester United are to blame for the mess they find themselves in, and they will now likely pay a high price with prospective selling clubs raising the price of any would be transfer targets knowing that the champions are desperate.
The player's representative Kia Joorabchian has confirmed that United decided to pull the plug on talks after it became clear Tevez and his advisors wanted more time to think about offers on the table. United wanted a decision after making what has been described as a good offer, but clearly the new five year contract offer has taken too long to materialise.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Carlos Tevez is understood to have ruled out a move to Liverpool, but Manchester City and Chelsea remain in the frame to sign the striker. The 25-year-old has been informed of the bitter rivalry between United and the men from Merseyside and is unwilling to face the repercussions of a switch to Anfield.
But his future is still up in the air despite the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to make the Argentinian's two-year loan a permanent one at Old Trafford. Fergie could lose Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid as early as next week after the two clubs last week agreed a world-record £80million transfer.
The Spanish football giants are insisting on owning 50 per cent of Ronaldo's image rights, which will help them recoup their transfer fee and huge reported weekly wage of around £150,000 a week which Ronaldo is expected to pick up. With the impending departure of Ronaldo, Ferguson wants to secure Tevez to a long-term contract at Old Trafford and wages of over £100,000 a week are believed to have been offered to Tevez to bring him in line with top earners Dimitar Berbatov and Rio Ferdinand.
However talks with MSI - headed by Kia Joorabchian, have not gone smoothly and Manchester City and Chelsea have also made contact in a bid to lure Tevez away from Old Trafford. It would be a huge blow for United if Tevez follows Ronaldo out of the exit door, but club officials are confident a deal will be struck with Tevez.
However United are still on the lookout for another forward despite the progression of youngster Kiko Macheda. Macheda burst on to the scene last season with the dramatic late winner against Aston Villa and the Italian is expected to play a bigger first-team role next season.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
In truth, the manager doesn't appear to have a lot of options where established top quality goal-scoring targets’ are concerned, but make no mistake this is an area that will give United fans something to worry about next season if worst case the club fails to find a goal-scorer.
The very latest news suggests that Fergie could be trying to tempt Robin Van Persie with a move to Old Trafford, if there's any grain of truth behind this latest speculation then it has all the hallmarks of a club who are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to fill the gaping chasm in United's forward-line following Ronaldo's expected move to Real Madrid.
It is very doubtful that Wenger would sell to Fergie, but as we have seen recently the Gunners' have been unable to retain some of their players', mainly due to excessive wage demands.
Technically, Van Persie is very good indeed, but again it comes back to the question of selling to one of your biggest domestic rivals - the words "over my dead body" will likely be heard in the corridor outside Wenger's office.
The other day United were somewhat embarrassingly linked to Liverpool's Fernando Torres, we will never know if there's any substance behind these rumours, they are more than likely the figment of an equally desperate news generating media.
One thing is certain, the transfer clock waits for no manager and with Fergie set to return from holiday and looking no closer to filling the Ronaldo void, fans will be wondering what will happen next.
Some supporters have been asking why on earth did United make public their decision to sell Ronaldo, the answer to that question is simple, because with each passing day since the announcement, it is becoming clear that the club may well have taken the view that the player was going to be sold this summer come what may - nothing was going to get in the way of this transfer, not even failure to sign a top quality replacement. If Fergie had such a player and a plan in place then why hasn't it happened?
It looks like the club were resigned to losing Ronaldo and we can all understand that, but the fans will be more concerned at United's failure to put a contingency plan in place, at least it is looking that way at present.
We also have to accept that there's not many players available who are capable of scoring twenty goals a season, so it is going to be a very difficult task, which again might well explain why the club made the Ronaldo announcement without addressing the replacement issue first.
Fergie could soon be facing up to the very real possibility that he might well have to utilise Macheda and Welbeck next season as part of his first-choice top four strikers, my own view is the Italian could cut it, but I have my doubts about Welbeck. Tevez will more than likely join rivals Manchester City and if that happens, it will be very hard to take, and worse still it will give Fergie an even bigger headache.
Above all else and despite the growing desperation, now is not the time to panic buy. United need to find someone who will compliment the manager's attacking options, the champions have arguably one of the world's best second-strikers' in Rooney, but what they don't really have apart from the developing Macheda, is a tall strong pacey striker with two good feet.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Fergie is unlikley to be a happy man when he learns that two of United's biggest games of the season will be played away from home following Champions League dates next season, however, much will depend on the Champions League draw which doesn't take place until August 27th.
The really good news for the manager is that United have three opening league fixtures which should net the Champions maximum points: Birmingham (h), Burnly (a), Wigan (a).
27 August 2009 - CL draw date
PL Tottenham v Man Utd, 15:00 12-Sept
CL Matchday 1: 15–16 September 2009
PL Man Utd v Man City, 15:00 19-Sept
PL Stoke v Man Utd, 15:00 26-Sept
CL Matchday 2: 29–30 September 2009
PL Man Utd v Sunderland, 15:00 3-OCt
PL Man Utd v Bolton, 15:00 17-Oct
CL Matchday 3: 20–21 October 2009
PL Liverpool v Man Utd 2009 24-Oct
PL Man Utd v Blackburn, 15:00 31-Oct
CL Matchday 4: 3–4 November 2009
PL Chelsea v Man Utd 7-Nov
PL Man Utd v Everton, 15:00 21-Nov
CL Matchday 5: 24–25 November 2009
PL Portsmouth v Man Utd 28-Nov
PL West Ham v Man Utd, 15:00 5-Dec
CL Matchday 6: 8-9 Dec 2009
PL Man Utd v Aston Villa 15:00 12-Dec
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
One such potential target has been in the news this week, Inter Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimović, but it has so far been an over-heated transfer market with inflated fees to match following Real Madrid's outrageous spending spree.
In the wake of reports linking Ibrahimović to Spain's top two clubs, Inter Milan have slapped a massive €90m on the striker’s head - he really isn't that good, and if Massimo Moratti is true to his word the big Swedish striker will still be an Inter Milan player when the transfer window closes.
We are told that Lyon's Benzema has no great desire to play in England and that Frank Ribery's price tag is likely to rule out any move for him. So it seems like Fergie will have to look elsewhere, perhaps United could do worse than look closer to home.
One such player springs to mind, Aston Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor, he's young, he's quick and he's quite skilful. Agbonlahor scored just 12 goals last season and 11 the season before last. However, he scored against United and looks like a player who could go on to improve and he works hard for his team.
No one can replace Ronaldo in the short-term, but that doesn't mean Fergie cannot continue to build; signing a young striker with potential like Agbonlahor would be a decent option given the lack of availability elsewhere.
Irrespective of any machiavellian plots, the general consensus is Ronaldo's exit was inevitable; it was only a question of when and not if. However, United are now having to face up to the harsh reality of having to quite probably sign two top strikers - because if they don't then who is going to score the goals next season? It is hard enough finding one world-class forward, two is a very big ask. Atononio Valencia will NOT provide the answer to the goal scoring question, so let us get that one out of the way right now.
The future of David Gill will I confidently predict come under intense scrutiny in the coming weeks, because the United CEO is the man who is charged with negotiating and completing any new deals. Gill's failure to address the Tevez situation earlier is indefensible, not only that but given the club were aware that Ronaldo wanted leave and they do not appear to have done much about this by way of preparation for his exit could well leave United with some very expensive egg on their collective faces.
The fans should not accept the argument that United could not have done more ahead of the Ronaldo news breaking - take the example of Real Madrid - they signed not one, but two world class strikers' in the space of a week. It comes down to poor planning by United.
We have to accept there's a limited number of possible replacements, but this only serves to highlight the club's total neglect and frankly appalling treatment of Tevez, because while the Argentine won't score as many goals as Ronaldo, his presence would ease United's task this summer and Fergie would be able to retain a greater measure of continuity.
Money in the bank from the sale of Ronaldo is no use without a squad that is capable of challenging on all fronts next season. The transfer clock is ticking for United and David Gill...
Sunday, June 14, 2009
We have been told that David Gill has been given a list of potential targets, the United CEO will work his way down that list from top to bottom - the fans would dearly love to know the names on that list but it's a fair bet that the two Frenchmen are listed highly. At the foot of the list you can also bet that Atonio Valencia's name figures. Question: Why is it that only Manchester United are being linked with the Wigan midfield star? Could it be that he's not rated highly by the elite clubs?
The worry is that Fergie could be about to sign another average player, United paid a lot of money to sign Nani who has under-achieved and at times seems incapable of delivering a final ball.
It could be argued that labelling Valencia as a another expensive flop is grossly unfair, but the lack of suitors is concerning, what's more in time honoured fashion United will more than likely pay over the odds again. The only reason United will end up offering silly money for the Ecuadorian is because Wigan are aware the club is cash rich and the champions almost always pay over the odds - but we are not in a bidding war with any other club. If Wigan sold Valencia to just about any other Premier League club barring United they'd receive half the fee they are likely to prize out of United.
Some United fans are demanding that the manager should be given all of the £80m they will eventually receive from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, but that money will be paid in instalments leaving the manager probably looking to sign players on similar "easy-terms'. Despite the nonsense in the mainstream media about this "world-record fee" Fergie's hands are to a degree tied, which is why I have been saying the Ronaldo deal is a bad one for United, but it was always going to happen at some point.
With players of genuine quality looking unattainable, you do wonder if now is the time for Fergie to follow the lead of Arsene Wenger by refusing to be held to ransom for unproven players.
What is the point of blowing £20m on any player who will not significantly improve the squad? Granted, there will be many who with some justification will point out that the Gunners' haven't won a trophy since 2005, but the Arsenal manager continues to produce competitive teams that consistently finish in the Premier League's top four.
Perhaps now is the time for United to change the club's history of spending big every time the cheque-book is opened, but this route is a dangerous one and it should only be taken if the manager has total confidence in his ability to deliver that crucial top-four finish at the end of next season. If Ferguson were to take this route, it could be argued he'd be doing it for the longer-term good of the club, if he were to do so it would more than likely be at the expense of more silverware in the short-term.
Such a change would also incur the wrath of many trophy hungry supporters who want to see every penny spent on team-building. Then there are the Glazers' debts, now reported to be a staggering £699m - no supporter can be happy about this and those who advocate spending every penny of that £80m do so in part because they fear where Ronaldo's transfer cash will end up.
It is doubtful Fergie will care too much about concerns over the club debts, given his history of support for the Glazer family. Nonetheless, there's a strong argument for keeping your powder dry until the right target becomes available.
It would be wrong to follow Wenger in all aspects of his transfer dealings, the Frenchman has a remarkable record of near balancing the books, unlike the Gunners' boss Fergie will and should go out and spend big when the need arises, there should be no debate about signing top quality players, but the question remains will Fergie manage to do that this summer and in the event of them being unattainable for whatever reason what will the manager do?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Come the season end the United manager must have known he was going to lose his star player; the man who he's built his team around, the one who has carried United over the last three seasons. Ronaldo is irreplaceable in the short-term, but Manchester United have a history of recovering from setbacks when losing star players.
However, this time it's different, when United sold David Beckham to Real Madrid they did so because they were happy to do so, it isn't like that with Ronaldo.
Ronaldo didn't just score goals; his blistering pace carried a threat that made opponents weary of pushing too far forward, in so doing leaving themselves exposed to United's counter-attacks.
The common consensus among the fans is United need to move on, but the really big question surrounds the manager' is Fergie set to call it a day? A lot will depend on David Gill and his cheque-book because if the champions cannot secure the services of a twenty goal a season striker then it is quite difficult to see where United's goals are going to come from; last season most of United's goals came from four players and it looks like Ronaldo and Tevez will soon be history. The combined total from last season's goals excluding the top four scorers was just fifteen.
Fergie built his team around Ronaldo; players like Rooney were shifted around to fit into a tactical plan that was based on the World Player of the Year's pace and power. So it isn't just that Fergie is set to lose his most potent attacking force, he is quite probably going to have to completely rebuild his attacking strategy with a new tactical plan that may or may not include a new striker who posses similar attributes.
If the manager feels he no longer has to the tools to do the job, then he might well reflect that going out as a Premier League winner is a better alternative to going out as a loser.
United really would be in a mess if the manager went this summer, but it is going to happen at some point in the not too distant future and it will need to be addressed. Do not be surprised if Fergie retires in the next two or three weeks, but if he does quite who would replace him is a good question.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Many fans want to know who made the decision to sell Ronaldo, some reports suggest it might have been the Glazer family, others say Ferguson made a promise to the player twelve months ago stating that he could leave if he was still unhappy at the season end, the latter is fast becoming the popular view.
Neither Fergie nor the club are ever likely to reveal the real truth because they will be charged with misleading supporters, many will have bought replica Ronaldo shirts in the last few weeks and some may not have renewed their season-tickets if they'd been aware of the facts.
Moving forward, United need to regroup and it is to be hoped that Fergie has a plan, because if he was aware that Ronaldo might well leave along with Tevez then he is facing nothing short of a striker crisis.
So who are the players on Fergie's radar? The reality is Franck Ribery is unlikely to become a United player; he is hot property and like or not, the truth is despite often being labelled as the "world's biggest club" the champions have rarely been able to attract stars at the very top of their game from the continent.
Veron only came to Old Trafford because of a row over his passport in Italy, Cantona wasn't a big star before he arrived at United and there were no other serious bidders for Van Nistelrooy. United actually stumbled upon Ronaldo in a pre-season friendly, it was players like Gary Neville who persuaded the manager to sign him.
So given the fact that United are unlikely to solve their striker problems this summer, what does Ferguson do next? Do not rule out retirement, it is a very strong possibility.
Fergie has a massive problem on his hands because he isn't looking for just one world class striker, but quite probably two. The best he can hope for is to sign unproven Atonio Valencia, again there are no other serious bidders - not even Manchester City want him as far as we know. United might end up with a Real Madrid cast-off like Huntelaar, other than that I'm personally at a loss to suggest which big names might fancy a move to Old Trafford.
It could take United years to reach another Champions League final, and I do not expect Fergie to be in charge when it next happens. United's best hope for the future is to find the next Ronaldo or David Beckham and make them into the players that they became, the club can justifiably say they can do that probably better than anyone else, at least they have done under Ferguson.
Finally, to the fools who say United had to accept £80m, if United end up trophyless and out of the Champions League the season after next that £80m will look like the bad business it surely is, though we have to accept that maybe Ferguson had no choice but to allow the player to leave. There is however no excuse concerning the Tevez debacle; United, Ferguson and Gill look to have made a complete balls of that one.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Talk of replacements will be resolved one way or the other over the coming summer weeks, what we do know is United could well lose Carlos Tevez later today which if happens will compound the self-made problems faced by Ferguson.
Perhaps selling Ronaldo was inevitable given his long standing wish to join the Spanish club, but Fergie had always maintained the player would remain at Old Trafford for the next few seasons. Manchester United have never sold their star player before he reached his prime - make no mistake whatever the out of touch mainstream media say about the club being unable to refuse Madrid's advances this is a sorry day for United.
Supporters will have mixed feelings about selling Ronaldo, the most delighted will be fans of rival clubs who will know that United will be much less of a potent threat next season.
Some short-sighted United fans will say good riddance to Ronaldo, they do so while conveniently forgetting all the great things he has done in the red shirt and it begs the question what they will be saying at the end of next season, because in one foul swoop United have handed Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal the initiative before a ball has been kicked; truth be told Ronaldo has carried United over the last few seasons.
It remains to be seen what Fergie will say about the sale of Ronaldo. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the manager resigned over this issue, then again very little should surprise us where big money deals are concerned.... As for Ronaldo the sensible United fans will wish him well because he has wanted this move for quite some time.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
If Ronaldo is sold before United sign a replacement transfer fees for any potential targets will rocket because the selling clubs will know the Reds are cash rich. If United are even considering selling Ronaldo they should have already secured an agreement for his eventual replacement, it is to be hoped that has already happened if the worst case scenario comes to fruition.
Worryingly for United supporters, conflicting reports from Spain claim that Real have sent their club doctor to assess the player, and depending who you believe they may well have opened negotiations with United over the future of their star player.
Florentino Perez has gone on a charm offensive in bid to oil the wheels of negotiation, this follows on from his witless predecessor who was about as subtle as a flying axe last summer when he attempted to bulldoze a deal with United via the media but without actually bothering to contact the club as far as we know.
Interestingly, Perez has stated that his club will not pursue their reported interest in Franck Ribery after Bayern Munich issued a hands-off warning, however, Madrid are a club who do not take no for an answer and so we have to take the newly appointed President's words with a rather large pinch of salt. The question is, if United refuse point-blank to sell Ronaldo this summer, will that be the end of the matter - can pigs fly?
At the same time as Perez was sending out conciliatory messages, Real's general director Jorge Valdano has been telling a different story when claiming the two clubs are already in negotiations...
The concern from a United perspective is that the club has not denied the latest reports; it doesn't mean that it will happen, but we cannot rule it out. It remains to be seen what Ferguson's reaction will be, it is difficult to see how the manager could agree to the sale of his star player given that last summer he said he wouldn't see Real Madrid a virus.
If Ronaldo is to be sold against Ferguson's will it is difficult to see him staying on as manager, it could turn out to be that serious for United. Even if Fergie can be persuaded that selling Ronaldo is in the club's best interest, it is difficult to see how the manager will replace the Reds' top scorer in the short-term.
Ferguson and United are in serious danger of being labelled as hypocrites if they sell the player this summer and they will know full well that replacing a player like Ronaldo will seriously damage the champions ability to compete for the big prizes next season.
Must Read: Ronaldo sold behind Fergie's back?
I for one do not expect Fergie to allow Ronaldo to leave Old Trafford, not unless the manager quits too, but it's fair to say the Scot has surprised me in the past and so it cannot be totally ruled out.
Apart from the fact that I don't actually believe Ronaldo will join Madrid this summer, I have a bit of a problem with talk of Valencia arriving as his potential replacement, because we are talking about parting company with arguably the world's best player in exchange for someone who is unproven, but that won't stop United from paying silly money if the champions reported interest turns out to be actually true.
United are also being linked with Franck Ribery, who is a talented player, but again he isn't in Ronaldo's class - who is? The fact is replacing Ronaldo will be an impossible task, so it’s a no brainer from that perspective. Losing Ronaldo is one thing, but it looks as though United might also lose Tevez and that is totally unacceptable in the view of many fans.
The champions would be better off selling Nani and Berbatov and replacing them with players who will add to the squad. Nani has been an expensive failure. Berbatov flatters to deceive and hasn't produced in the big games - perhaps worse still, his arrival has marginalised fans favourite Carlos Tevez.
Fergie needs to get his act together on transfers this summer because we cannot afford to sign any more expensive passengers.
If Manchester United allow Ronaldo and Tevez to leave this summer they will struggle next season, in my opinion they will do well to finish in the top four.
The 22-year-old has made just three substitute appearances for the first team since his arrival from Partizan at the start of the year, but he has put in sparkling displays for the reserves.
The pacy winger, who was involved in the Serbia Under-21 side in the finals in 2007, is relishing the chance to shine on the big stage in Sweden this time around.
"I can't wait for it to start," he told uefa.com. "It will be a very good experience to play in the championship again and I'm very happy because of that."
"The championship is very good experience for every young player. I have to practice, to get stronger, to get faster, to be better in all aspects and I feel the U21 championship will help me and I can prove I'm a United player."
Tosic, who is a full international, came on as a substitute in the 2007 final and impressed playing out of position at left-back, setting up Serbia's only goal with a typically marauding run in their 4-1 defeat by Holland.
That helped the diminutive wideman seal a move from little-known Serbian side FK Banat Zrenjanin to Partizan before Sir Alex was made aware of his talents and snapped him up at Old Trafford.
Tosic is highly thought of at Carrington and it is hoped he can push himself into the first-team reckoning next season and he's certainly one to keep an eye on at the under-21 tournament this month.
Serbia kick-off their campaign against favourites Italy before tackling Belarus and Sweden and with five senior internationals in their squad they look more than capable of going one better than they did two years ago.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
The video was filmed at the "Spirit of Shankly" end of season party and although the said organisation has tried to distance themselves from the Youtube video following its release, the artist (for want of a better word) was clearly no gatecrasher as has been implied by SOS, in point of fact this looks to be an orchestrated attempt to wind-up the crowd by singing a song that in part celebrates the Munich Air disaster.
IF Shankly were alive today he'd no doubt be embarrassed for his club and their decent supporters. The fans who were celebrating the Munich disaster in this film have brought shame upon their club.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Two big name players, £100m worth of talent if tabloids are to be believed. But every Manchester United fan knows that no player is bigger than the club, and hence so some of them would probably understand if Fergie cashed in on Ronaldo and let Tevez go this summer.
The overriding question is whetheror not United really need Ronaldo and Tevez.
In the first part of this article I focus on Tevez, the underlying points of contention are:
1) Whether or not United really need him.
2) Is he worth £32m?
3) Is he right when demanding more playing time?
In the league this season, United scored 68 goals, conceded 24 and had a goal difference of 44. That was exactly equal to Chelsea and nine goals less than Liverpool who conceded three more goals the champions. So on the domestic front, United weren't the top scorers, and on a European stage, we were nowhere near Barcelona's 105 goals.
#Goals Player / PL Rank
18 Ronaldo - 2
12 Rooney - 10(=6th)
9 Berbatov - 26(=25th)
5 Tevez - 62
4 Carrick - 67
4 Vidic - 82
3 Fletcher - 98
2 Giggs - 133
2 Macheda - 140
2 Park - 148
2 Scholes - 151
Of the 68 goals, Ronaldo scored 18, Rooney 12, Berbatov nine and Tevez five.
That's 64.7% of United's goals from the FAB FOUR.
That's 44 of 68 goals from 4 players. The rest of our squad only scored 15 goals.
The next top scorers are Carrick & Vidic with four a piece, Fletcher (3), then Park, Scholes, Giggs and Macheda all on two.
Tevez has contributed 7.35% of United's League goals, compared with Ronaldo's 26.4%, Rooney's 17.65%, and Berbatov's 13.23%.
Looking at league assists, Tevez fares no better, having made only 3 League assists all season, placing him 9th in United's tally and 109th in the League rankings.
That list reads:
# Assists / PL Rank
10 Berbatov - 2
8 Giggs - 12
7 Carrick - 21
7 Rooney - 26
6 Ronaldo - 31
3 O'Shea - 106
3 Park - 107
3 Tevez - 109
2 Evra - 131
2 Scholes - 164
Player % Goals .........Player % Assists
Ronaldo 26.4%.................Berbatov 18.18%
Rooney 17.65%.................Rooney 12.73%
Berbatov 13.23%..............Ronaldo 10.91%
Tevez 7.35%......................Tevez 5.45%
Being ranked 4th in both % Goals and % Assists simply isn't good enough. Yes, he's competing against some of the best players in the world, but if he wants to command a comparable wage, and his "rights owners" want to command a comparable transfer fee, surly his output in the most important domestic club competition has to match.
There's no use him outshining the performances of Welbeck and Macheda, because he's not being compared to a pair of in-experienced teenagers, he should be matching the output of Rooney at least, as he is so often compared to the man who shares a similar, all-action style.
Instead, he's lagging behind by a clear 10% on goals, and 7 % on assists, which in real terms equates to 7 goals behind and 4 assists adrift.
Those who argue for Tevez, and that he scores "important goals" and is a "vital cog" in the Man United machine, the stats prove otherwise.
The Premier League's statistics house, ACTIM(R), analyse all objective measures of a players game, and rank them accordingly, including stats on ground coverage, distance run, touches, completed and uncompleted passes, shots on target, shots off target, tackles, saves, clearances, headers etc. Interestingly, ACTIM(R) don't rank Tevez inside their top 100 Premier League players, United have 10 players inside the top 100, as follows.
ACTIM Rank / Player Points
4 Berbatov - 586
10 Vidic - 540
11 Ronaldo - 517
15 Van Der Sar - 481
36 Rooney - 423
69 Evra - 369
77 Carrick - 357
78 O'Shea - 356
86 Ferdinand - 343
88 Fletcher - 343
90 Giggs - 342
This shows that Tevez, isn't as effective on the pitch as his team-mates, and even if he is just outside the top 100, he'd be on a maximum of 322 points, a whopping 264 points behind United's most effective player, Berbatov and 20 points behind Giggs. True, he's had a slight disadvantage in the time stakes, but in the big games, when he's had the chance to shine, he's been remarkably, and disappointingly quiet.
No doubt his all-action style endears him to the fans, but the club pays for efficiency, and is usually not very lenient on players who waste chances and don't "toe the party line".
By Vishnu Chari
Friday, June 05, 2009
In a long, drawn out season, spanning 66 competitive games (57 last season), Manchester United should be proud to have only lost eight games in all competitions.
Loses to Arsenal and Fulham away, as well as a double reverse against Liverpool in the league, plus Cup losses to Derby County, Everton, Zenit and a final defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League saw United win a stunning four pieces of silverware from a possible seven.
Many of the 'pundits' hyped-up United in the build up to the Champions League Final, and the very same experts took it upon themselves to find fault with the club, its players staff, skills, strategy, tactics and mindset in the wake of the outcome.
However, if at the start of the season, four trophies had been offered to us, I'm sure the manager, the players and the fans would have taken the deal, especially as it included a record equalling 18th top-flight League title.
There's no denying that United didn't play their best-ever football this season, we played well enough to get the required points, but we never went on a really hot streak of demolishing teams three or four nil.
United played 12 games in which they didn't score (six games last season), 22 games in which they only scored once (23 last season), 14 games where they scored twice, scored three goals in eight games, and in 10 games United scored four or five goals (five games each).
In the games that they did score four or five goals, they only kept a clean sheet on four occasions. That means that more often than not, whenever United scored lots of goals, we needed to score them to win the game because the defence couldn't keep the opposition out.
This shows some really good team spirit, a will to win, the "never give up attitude" that Manchester United are so famous for.
However, it also shows the problems we didn't really address over the season. Last season's double was won on the back of Cristiano Ronaldo's phenomenal success and more than capable support provided by a whole squad of players across the length and breadth of the pitch. The impact of Dimitar Berbatov has been another huge debating point, with many fans suggesting the Bulgarian has if anything made United less of a potent attacking force, because he has often played at the expense of the all-action Carlos Tevez.
This season, Cristiano has understandably failed to reach the same heights, and United have played a squad game, with a more defensive approach, keeping it tight at the back and scoring one or two goals to seal the points.
On many occasions United have been more cautious, less willing to take risks, and played a slower brand of football than in previous seasons. In the final third, we seemed to be less composed and did not convert many of the chances that we created. At times United’s famed free-flow approach to attacking resulted in some awesome approach play and on occasion, some great goals and some spectacular misses. At other times, the side has looked a bit confused, and too reliant on Cristiano to provide the creative spark.
Before Ronaldo was the phenomenal player that he is, United epitomised their name and reputation as an attacking team. Goals came from all over the park, assists came from all over the park - there were infinite routes to goal. That's the kind of football all United fans love to see.
No doubt we like seeing Ronaldo showing off his skills, beating players with pace and scoring goals from all manner of distances and angles, but I’m sure many United fans would rather see their team play a more all round game where everyone is pulling the team in the right direction.
Some experts say that Fergie has made slight changes to the way United play so as to further the club’s chances of winning the Champions League again, it very nearly worked for the second season in a row and contrary to the reaction in England to the result in Rome, this current squad is as good as any in Europe. The big challenge for the manager is to improve on the achievements of the last three seasons.
By Vishnu Chari
Season Review Part II will focus on the major turning points in what has been described by some as the best Premier League season for many a long year.
Meanwhile, the future of Carlos Tevez will be resolved in the next few days when the player returns from international duty. The latest rumours suggest the fans' favourite will - to the great annoyance of the vast majority of the Red Army - join neighbours Manchester City, who have been linked with just about every big name in the game, but it will take more than Carlos Tevez to turnaround their fortunes.
It's doubtful the Citizens' will come any closer to breaking into the accepted top four English clubs next season - even before a ball is kicked the best they can hope for is a top ten finish.
Money issues aside, we are told that Tevez's biggest gripe is playing fourth fiddle to Rooney, Ronaldo and Berbatov. In the case of the Bulgarian, there is surely no argument among the fans, because the vast majority would select the Argentine in preference every time.
Towards the end of the season following his penalty miss in the FA Cup semi-final, it seemed that just perhaps the penny has dropped with Ferguson, in that he has made a big mistake when acquiring a player who has often failed to show what is required to be a United player.
It isn't the lack of goals or indeed his link-up play - which has been good at times - it is that Berbatov simply does not work hard enough for the team and you can never say about Tevez, quite the reverse in point of fact and of course the Argentine scores and creates goals.
Prior to the signing of Berbatov, United undoubtedly did need to find another striker, someone who would bring something different to the manager's array of attacking options. After a full season it looks highly unlikely that the Bulgarian is going to win over the fans who want to see everyone in the red shirt giving 100%, week-in, week-out.
Berbatov has unfairly been compared by some to Eric Cantona - personally I do not like making such comparisons, what I would say is the former Spurs striker isn't fit to lace the Frenchman's boots.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
However, the really bad news is the Argentine wants to stay in the North West of England; by default that can only realistically mean with either Liverpool or Manchester City. Either scenario will be totally unacceptable to the vast majority of United supporters, one suspects Fergie will be livid too if that situation is allowed to happen, but make no mistake it is a very real possibility.
Mark Hughes has confirmed his interest in signing Tevez and it remains to be seen if the player and his owners will accept what is likely to be a huge offer, because frankly City cannot offer anything but a king’s ransom given there's no prospect of European football and or top trophies (The Isle of Man trophy doesn't count) any time soon.
For their part, despite rumours that Liverpool were about to offer £50m for Carlos Tevez, it seems that they do not have the cash as I suggested was the case on this blog recently; weight was added to that theory this week with the surprise announcement that Gareth Barry has signed for the Citizens. Barry has been on Liverpool's radar for the last couple of seasons, the fact that they've been "blown out of the water" by City says a lot about Liverpool's current ability to complete even modest signings or to match big money wages.
Much to the annoyance of United supporters, it looks as though City will be the most likely destination, because not only can they afford to pay the asking price and silly wages, but importantly the blues can offer a starting place every week which will not be case at Old Trafford or Anfield.
On the wider point of Mark Hughes pursuing what will be deemed as another United transfer target, we the fans will just have to live with it, we don't like it, but the Welshman's first priority is to manage City and any allegiances to his former club went out of the window when he became a rival Premier League club manager.
On a positive note, Tevez will do less damage to the Reds' title winning prospects if he moves to City as opposed to Liverpool - City took six points off United the season before last but it didn't stop the Champions retaining the trophy.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Perhaps Fergie believes that loyalty to one club should be rewarded by allowing them to bow-out at the top and at the club they have stayed with throughout their professional careers, because these days that is a rarity.
The fans won't have a problem with whatever the manager and players decide regarding their futures, but you do wonder if these born winners will be able to live with being bit-part players while they see out the remainder of their time at Old Trafford.
There is an argument that has been used by Ferguson in the past that retaining older playing staff blocks the progression of younger stars in the making - ironically this was the reasoning used by the manager when selling many a big name player to make way for the team that became known as "Fergies Fledglings", one that included the Neville brothers and Paul Scholes. Despite those concerns, my own view is Fergie will remain loyal to those who have given such great service to United, but it remains to be seen if the players concerned will still be here come the beginning of the new season because professional pride is at stake.
United fans will be hoping Ronaldo stays put, but it's interesting to note that Chelsea are also said to trying to sign the Brazilian superstar. In the wake of Carlo Ancelotti's defection to the West London club it has become clear that Kaka has great faith in his former manager; whether or not the AC Milan forward moves to England one thing is clear, that is the bond between player and manager must have been a strong one and once it was broken perhaps it was inevitable that the former World Player of the Year would also move on, especially as he is hot property.
For his part, Ronaldo has recently spoken of the bond between himself and Ferguson, it begs the question will we see both of them leave Manchester United at the same time as looks likely to happen in the case of Kaka and Ancelotti? Fergie went on record stating that he wouldn't see Real Madrid a virus, so it seems highly unlikely the Scot would be willing to sacrifice his star player for any amount of money, so despite the nonsense coming out of Spain about supposed agreements between Ramon Calderon and Jorge Mendes, I personally do not see Ronaldo being sold this summer.