Sunday, June 27, 2010

The crying game: Germany send England clowns packing...

Was anyone that surprised by England's pitiful display against Germany? IF you were then you really have been wearing rose tinted specs, because frankly, it was a hammering waiting to happen.

The 4-1 final score was England's worst ever defeat at the World Cup finals, but the truth is, it flattered England because it could quite easily have been six or seven. England really were that bad.

Right from that first game with the USA, the warning signs were there for all to see. Capello was too rigid when stubbornly sticking to 4-4-2. Worse still, the Italian pushed Gerrard out onto the left wing where he is less effective. Joe Cole was the obvious choice to play wide left, but he was largely ignored and you have to wonder if it was another case of the manager being stubborn. In ingoring the calls for Joe Cole, Capello stuck to his guns when going against the wishes of John Terry, the media and public; it is one thing being single minded, but being pig-headed for the sake it and ultimately making the wrong calls reflects badly on the Italian.

In the wake of what was a pathetic performance, the soul-searching has begun in earnest. Questions are being asked, the introspection will not let up, because today the Germans gave England a serious beating.

Personally, I wasn't at all surprised about today's result, because it was coming. I don't take any pleasure watching England lose, not a bit of it. Nor do I blame the players, well not entirely, but they are accountable all the same. I'm fairly certain the England ladies football team would have defended some of the German attacks more professionally than their male counter-parts.

Perhaps in future, our pathetic all too often jingoistic media will think twice before bringing up the war and that 5-1 win against Germany; but why do I get the feeling we won't stop hearing about goal-line technology for the next forty years?

England's problems run much deeper than blaming the officials and until we start getting the basics right, we will continue to be also-rans and in all probability a laughing stock on the biggest of stages when it really matters.

Ultimately, Capello must take the blame for what happened today and England's awful World Cup displays - the Italian has to go - and the sooner the better. Capello might well be a great club manager, but international management is all together a different matter. England played like clowns today and the ringmaster is to blame.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An important signing that will make a difference...

It isn't often that I receive an invite to join something worthwhile, but that certainly was the case earlier this week, when an email from oi-fa.com dropped into my inbox.

Chances are many readers of this blog will support the Green & Gold campaign as well as MUST - if that is the case, you should definitely join oi-fa.com.

So what exactly is oi-fa.com and why is it important to United fans? Oi-fa.com was borne out of frustration, it has been created by football fans'; its aims are to prevent and do something about heavily leveraged buyouts of the likes we have seen at United and Liverpool.

Until the Glazers' took over the club, United were cash rich - but we are now the most indebted football club in the world - quite simply, something has to be done to safeguard the future of our beloved club.

Oi-fa.com intends to lobby the FA and the government in a bid to get something done about clubs like United who are in such a perilous financial state.

In a bid to provide an overview of the financial mess facing all too many of our clubs oi-fa.com have collated the financial data and presented the figures in an excellent at a glance comparative table:
Get the facts and figures

What you can do:
Sign the Petition
Get Involved
Have your say

This blog is promoting oi-fa.com and its aims, because we believe in the principle of the fans' having a greater say in how our clubs are run. Clubs like United should be run for the benefit of the supporters and not for greedy businessmen who have no interest other than furthering their own financial gain at the expense of the football club.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fergie's Transfer Target List: #3 Wesley Sneijder...

It remains to be seen who Ferguson will buy this summer - according to the manager the transfer market is inflated and there's little or no value. Having seemingly lost out in the race to sign Joe Cole - who is available on a free transfer (so much for no value) United are now being linked with a £20m move for Wesley Sneijder.

The Inter Milan star left Real Madrid 12 months ago for just 15million Euros. The Dutch ace went on to win the Champions League plus an historic league and cup double under Jose Mourinho.

It seems unlikely in the extreme that Sneijder will follow Mourinho and return to Real Madrid. The question is, would Sneijder fancy moving to Manchester? What could United offer the Dutchman that he hasn't already got in Milan? Could United even afford Sneijder?

Sneijder has been linked to United several times over the last few seasons, but so far nothing has come of it.

Verdict: Unlikely.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

United fail to land Joe Cole: A new transfer low point?

According to the BBC, Manchester United will NOT be signing Joe Cole this summer. A senior club source has reportedly confirmed that Ferguson will not be recruiting the out of contract England midfield maestro.

Last summer Ferguson failed to make any serious moves to find a long-term successor to Paul Scholes. Wesley Sneijder would have been the perfect choice, but United didn't even attempt to sign the Dutchman and Jose Mourinho snapped him up for just 15 million Euros. Inter Milan went on to win the Champions League, as well as a domestic league and cup double and Sneijder was at the very heart of it.

Barcelona exposed glaring weaknesses in United's midfield 13 months ago in the Champions League final; since then it has become crystal clear that the engine room is in serious need of attention.

Owen Hargreaves has so far failed in his attempts to regain full fitness following a dreadful run of problems with his knees. Anderson, hasn't fulfilled his early promise and Michael Carrick has fallen down the first-team pecking order, so much so that reports have suggested the player is up for sale.

Ferguson is still having to rely on Scholes and Giggs. Giggs was more consistent than Scholes last season, but there's no doubting the importance of the veteran midfield duo.

Ferguson's problems are not restricted to midfield; there are serious issues up front, in central defence and in the goal-keeping department.

However, when a player like Joe Cole comes on the market and he's available on a free transfer, you have to ask why it is that United will not be making a move to sign him.

Questions need to be asked and answered, especially if Joe Cole ends up signing for Manchester City. Could it be the case that United cannot even meet wage demands of targets like Joe Cole? If that is the case, it will mark a new low for United and the supporters who would have loved to have seen Joe Cole in the red shirt.

If on the other hand, Cole wants to stay in London for whatever reason, then there's no much United can do about that.

Worryingly, reports also suggest Vidic could soon be joining Real Madrid and with no signs of any proven quality replacements arriving United could well be heading for big trouble this coming season.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rooney is England scapegoat: What next another mock hanging?

Here we go again, the build 'em up, knock 'em down tabloid press are at it again and this time the target is Wayne Rooney. There was bound to be ramifications following Rooney's ill-advised, heat of the moment rant at the TV cameras the other night immediately after that bore draw with Algeria. But it was just that, a heat of the moment blast at those England fans who'd booed the team off the pitch.

The England fans didn't boo the team while they were playing, and even if they had, the Vuvuzelas would surely have drowned them out, but as soon as that dreadful game came to its sorry conclusion the fans let-rip and you can understand that given how shocking England were on the night.

Personally, I can totally understand the fans' getting frustrated, even if booing is unlikely to instill any confidence in the players who appear to be on the floor. But there are mitigating circumstances, because England have been nothing short of shocking at the World Cup.

What is particularly disappointing is the tabloid press targeting Rooney; the News of the World today claims that so called England 'insiders' have labeled the United striker as a 'prima donna'. It is hard to believe that in the space of just three weeks the United striker has transformed into a different character from the one who played so well for his club all season. You could call Rooney many things, but a prima donna just doesn't seem right.

But then again United fans won't be too surprised about this turn of events, because it is entirely predictable; it happened with David Beckham after the 1998 World Cup when Hoddle was the England manager. Beckham was sent off in the round of 16 knockout tie with Argentina, the game ended in a draw but England went on to lose on penalties. Beckham was targeted by the press and blamed for England's failure; it didn't take the lynch mob long to string up an effigy of the player outside a London pub. What chances of a repeat performance if England are eliminated later this week?

If anyone should be blamed for England's pathetic performances then surely it is the manager. If Rooney or anyone else isn't pulling their weight then it is the manager's job to sort it out. In the same circumstances you cannot imagine this happening under Ferguson.

Rooney hasn't become a demon in the last three weeks, and contrary to what the tabloids would have us believe, he is not the exorcist. The fact is England are failing and Capello has been unable to get the best out of his players, what's more, the Italian has been guilty of making many squad and team selection mistakes.

If anyone it to blame it is Capello.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rooney knackered, Capello IS clueless Mike Bassett: England all at sea on rudderless ship....

As far as England are concerned, the World Cup has been a mind-numbing experience so far; the opening week hasn't exactly been riveting, but Capello's team have given us two of the most woeful performances of any of the participating teams.

Earlier this week Kaiser Franz had the temerity to suggest that England have regressed under the stewardship of Fabio Capello - it is hard to argue with the German legend, following the dross served up by the Italian manager and those tasked with the job at hand.

As ever, there has been a great deal of blind optimism in relation to England's chances of winning the trophy they last won 44 years ago, and not even that damp squib of a performance against the USA in the opener dampened expectations of the media and your average Johnny England fan.

But if England were bad against the USA in that 1-1 draw, they were much worse against Algeria last night in what turned out to be another bore-draw, only this time there was no goals.

With little to shout about following Robert Green's howler of a goalkeeping error against the USA, and with nothing to get truly excited about, the media speculated when we'd see the competition's first 'surprise result': 'pre-tournament favourites' Spain provided the answer, when losing to Switzerland. Then in the second round of opening group games, Germany lost to Serbia. Just perhaps England had a chance after all? At least that appeared to be the common consensus among pundits and the English media.

There's no doubt these 'shock results' fueled supporter optimism, well at least it did if you're daft and you believe everything the media tells you in relation to England.

There's rarely a shortage of blind optimism where the England team is concerned: I'm sure it stems back to the days of the Empire when much of the globe was coloured pink, but blind optimism it is all the same.

Capello's honeymoon period had to come to an end at some point; in some ways, it's a great pity it has taken until now for it to happen, perhaps it if it had happened sooner then the clowns who run the FA wouldn't have been in so much of a rush to remove that get-out clause from the Italian's contract?

Capello's management during the World Cup has been akin to that of Mike Bassett, the spoof England manager in that hilarious comedy "Mike Bassett, England manager".

Agaisnt the USA, the Italian selected Robert Green, who it emerged is the goalkeeper who made the most mistakes in this season's Premier League. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Italian gambled when selecting Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King - both were plagued by injuries throughout the season; selecting the pair of them was a disaster waiting to happen.

Capello also made the major mistake of playing Wayne Rooney in just about every friendly and for the duration of most games - this at a time when the United striker needed resting, and for what reason? Rooney wasn't playing for his place in the side, he had nothing to prove to anyone. Rooney had a great season, scoring 34 goals in all competitions, but his last goal for his club was back in March against Bayern Munich. Sadly, injuries took their toll and so it was a disappointing end of campaign for the United striker and the club.

Ferguson had little option but to play Rooney in most games because there's a lack of fire-power at Old Trafford right now, but that wasn't really the case as far as Capello and England were concerned - there was plenty of other options.

At present, Rooney has the touch and subtlety of a rapist - he could have quite justifiably been substituted - but then again so could half of the England team that faced Algeria.

Nonetheless, this blog repeatedly warned that Rooney is in serious danger of suffering from burn-out; in fact we warned that the last thing Rooney needed this summer was the World Cup.

From a United perspective and being selfish, Rooney needed a damn long break from football. There has to be a serious danger that Rooney and United are going to suffer next season - which is why Ferguson needs to pull his finger out this summer and sign at least one quality striker. Hopefully, Javier Hernandez will prove to be that man. The manner in which the Mexican took his goal against France will have given everyone connected with the club a degree of optimism - let us hope it isn't unfounded...

So what else has Capello done wrong so far at the World Cup? Where do you start is a good question to ask.

The England manager played the captain out of position against Algeria: Gerrard was easily the pick of a bad bunch against the USA, but against the North Africans he was dispatched to the relative sanctuary of the left wing. Baffling.

Capello also selected Emile Heskey to partner Wayne Rooney. The big man played a part in the opening game when 'laying on' Gerrard's goal, but the tactic of lumping the ball down the middle hasn't worked. Worse still, there's zero creativity in the engine room. If Frank Lampard isn't breaking late into your opponent's penalty box, then he isn't worthy of a starting place - and of course England simply haven't been creating any chances and so Lampard is an unaffordable luxury.

The teams that have shone so far all have a play-maker - someone who makes them tick when going forward - someone who can open the door: Germany have Mesut Özil (are you watching Ferguson?); Uruguay have Diego Forlan (he couldn't control your regulation Premier League ball but has seemingly tamed the dreaded Jabulani); Brazil have Robinho and Elano; Argentina have the brilliant Messi; England have Joe Cole but Mike Bassett, aka Capello, has seen fit to leave him on the bench.

If there was an award for the most technically inept team, England and Capello would be in with a good shout of securing the trophy, they are that bad.
If, as expected, England come home with their collective tails between their legs then Capello should be sacked.

Before a ball was kicked I predicted England would be on the first plane home following the first knockout round. It looks like I was being too over optimistic, perhaps I'm becoming a Johnny Englander? ;0)

Monday, June 14, 2010

United in transfer trouble due to lack of funds....

Prior to the World Cup kicking off this blog warned that the transfer alarms should be ringing within Old Trafford, but there's no sign of any proven stars arriving at this juncture.

Following a stop-start season with injuries we warned United fans that Rio Ferdinand's days could be numbered, sadly, the England captain sustained a new injury and as a result he will miss the World Cup because of knee ligament damage.

Then we come to Nemanja Vidic and it's bad news as far as the Serbian is concerned too. According to his agent, Vidic wants out of Old Trafford, but here again, no one should be surprised, given some of his antics in the last 12 months.

The question is, knowing Rio Ferdinand's days could be numbered and knowing about the possibility of Vidic handing in a transfer request, what has Ferguson done about it? It is reasonable to ask has the manager has done anything at all, apart from sign Chris Smalling from Fulham - a player who was plucked from non-league obscurity a couple of years ago.

If Vidic leaves and Ferdinand does not fully recover for several weeks (if at all), then Ferguson could well be starting the the season with a new centre-back pairing, in fact that will almost certainly prove to be the case.

Even without the central defensive problems, the manager needed to buy at least three top quality proven stars; the manager's shopping list should have included a striker, a play-maker and a central defender. You can also a 'keeper to the list, but while Van der Sar is still at United, the matter isn't so pressing.

The truth is, Ferguson knows full well what the problems are, but his hands are seemingly tied due to lack funds.

So there's very little chance of Ferguson signing any proven quality this summer, not unless Joe Cole opts for a move up north, the problem being according to reports, his family want to stay in the London area.

Cole is available on a free transfer, just like Michael Owen and then today we hear that 32-year-old Raul could also be on Ferguson's radar. Signing Cole would be good business, but as good as Raul has been, it would surely be a very short-term signing.

When United were knocked out of the Champions League, Ferguson hinted he would embark on a squad rebuilding mission, but since then the manager has dampened the fans' expectations when saying there is likely to be just one more signing. According to David Gill, Ferguson has money to spend, but no one is actually sure how much.

Whatever Gill says, actions speak louder than words and no amount of spin will convince the fans' that the manager is being backed with sufficient funds until we see firm evidence with the arrival of some real quality, but will it happen given the owners huge debt problems?

The Glazer family are in debt to the tune of £1.1bn; the family also own the Tampa Bay Bucs and like Manchester United, the NFL outfit are not spending big and as a result they are really struggling.

United fans won't be that surprised to learn that according to reports, Bucs fans are turning their backs on the Bucs and waiting lists for season tickets are a thing of the past - demand is being driven down because the team is sinking.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

If you support United DO NOT renew that season ticket...

The question of whether to continue supporting the team AND by default the Glazer regime, has perplexed and divided supporters since the Florida based family takeover of United in 2005.

United fans' have argued among themselves about the merits of supporting the team or staying away. Two sets of supporters emerged following the takeover, those that walked away and those who would 'fight from within'. Until the 'Green and Gold' campaign was launched, the 'fight from within' was in serious danger of withering out, but now with the support of MUST together with over 159,000 members the 'fight from within' is very much alive.

However, the question of whether to renew those season tickets, and in so doing continuing to support the Glazer regime will be all the more vexing following last night's excellent edition of Panorama.

Into the red exposes the problems facing the Glazer family and their business affairs in a way that should deeply concern anyone with United's interests at heart. The Glazers' are '£1.1bn in debt', contrary to David Gill's statement last week, Panorama claims sources close to the owners have confirmed the family may well use United to pay off their PIK loans.

United are in a complete financial mess and it is entirely down to the Glazer family. Personally, I haven't given the Glazer family a penny since 2005 I implore others to follow the lead of those who have walked away. If you continue to support the Glazers' you are by default prolonging the day of reckoning for the owners.

I have been following United since 1969 so I know how hard the decision to walk away will be for many like minded supporters, but the greater interest of the club going forward is more important.

UPDATE: This could be very good news, if it proves to be true; reports claim less than a third of season ticket holders have renewed.

Glazers's on the rack?

Monday, June 07, 2010

24 years of Fergie transfers: The good, the bad and the indifferent...

The summer transfer window is open, but it doesn't look like Ferguson will be spending much money due to the dire financial situation at Manchester United, whose owners are £1.1bn in debt.

With little or no money to spend, now seems like a good time to analyse Fergie's spending during his 24 year reign as United manager.

The table below does not include players like Phil Neville who cost the club nothing and was allowed to leave on a free transfer. In some cases the transfer fee was undisclosed, therefore the totals cannot be replied upon.

In certain cases we have stated the player was sold prematurely, but Ferguson's judgement has proven to be totally vindicated in most cases - with the glaring exception of Gerrard Pique who is blossoming into one of Europe's finest defenders.

The table also confirms what many Manchester United supporters know, that is Ferguson is a great manager when he's given freedom to spend in the transfer market, but he hasn't always got it right when splashing the cash; players like Veron and Berbatov have divided opinion on their respective worth - what isn't in doubt is the vast transfer fees.

Ferguson cannot be blamed for paying over-inflated transfer fees - he doesn't negotiate fees or sign cheques - but, it could be argued there have been instances where the manager could have identified his targets before our rivals', as was the case with Spurs in relation to Michael Carrick and Dimitar Berbatov.

Looking at Fergie's net spending, if you take away the £80m the club received from the sale of Ronaldo to Real Madrid last summer the figures look a lot worse. However, the manager's job is to win prizes and Ferguson has won 23 major honours, excluding one-off finals like the Charity Shield, Inter-continental Cup and the Super Cup. Ferguson has a transfer deficit of just over £152m, but set against this is the 23 major honours the club has won during his time at United; that's £6.6m per trophy, many fans would surely agree that's a price well worth paying and it is partly why Ferguson is the most successful British manager ever - up and until now the manager has been given sufficient funds to do the job.

Transfer fees rocketed towards the end of the 90s, but when you look back at some of Ferguson's early buys, the relative value of players like Cantona, Solksjaer and Schmeichel are nothing short of remarkable - what would those players fetch in today's hugely inflated transfer market?

NameINOUTVerdict
Alex Notman 0.25Sold prematurely
Anderson15 Jury out: reports suggest could be sold
Andrie Kanchelskis0.65 Hit: Great signing, one of the most exciting wingers in the last 25 years
Andy Cole68Hit: One of Fergie's finest signings
Ben Foster1 Miss: Too many high-profile gaffes
Berbatov31 Indifferent: United would be lucky to recoup £15m - divides opinion
Brian Carey 0.25Sold prematurely
Brian McClair0.85 Hit: Good signing, but many fans would have preferred McCoist at the time (HOF)
Carrick18.5 Indiffferent: Fergie forced to over-pay massively, could be sold according to reports, his worth divides opinion
Dan Higginbottom 2Sold prematurely
Danny Wallace1.2 Mediocre: Eyebrows were raised when first signed
David Beckham 25Priceless hit: Sold on the cheap following bungled transfer
David Bellion2 Miss: Did not take opportunity
David Healy 1.5Sold prematurely
David Jones 1Sold prematurely
David May1.4 Mediocre: Won more medals than Alan Shearer
Denis Irwin0.625 Hit: Hall of Fame
Diego Forlan7.5 Indifferent: Divided opinion - but scored some important goals
Dion Dublin12Mediocre: Eyebrows were raised when first signed
Dwight Yorke12.52Hit: One of Fergie's best ever signings
Eric Cantona1.2 Hit: Hall of Fame
Eric Djemba-djemba3.51.3Disaster: A complete waste of money
Fabien Barthez7.8 Indifferent: Failed to live up to expectations, too many gaffes
Fraizer Campbell 3.5Sold prematurely
Gary Pallister2.32.5Hit: Glittering career with United (HOF)
Gordon Strachan0.50.3Indifferent: No doubts about star qaulity, Leeds got more out of him
Graeme Hogg 0.15Sold prematurely
Henning Berg51.75Hit: Proved to be useful if relatively expensive defender
Jaap Stam10.516.5Hit: Fergie made huge mistake when offloading big Dutchman to Lazio
Jasper Blomquist4.4 Indifferent: Dogged by injuries
Jim Leighton0.750.2Miss: Pressure was too much for the 'keeper known as 'Dracula'
Jon Greening 2Miss: Did not make grade, good business getting rid
Jon Spector 0.5Sold prematurely
Juan Veron28.115Disaster: An engima, great for his country failed miserably in England
Karel Poborsky3.52Miss: Failed to live up to billing
Keith Gillespie 1Sold prematurely: Never given chance to shine, sold as part of Cole deal
Kleberson5.92.5Disaster: A complete waste of money
Lee Sharpe 4.5Hit: Loved by the fans, but lost his way at United.
Liam O'Brien 0.25Miss: Mediocre signing
Mark Hughes1.81.5Hit: United legend
Mark Robins 0.8Sold prematurely
Micky Silvestre4 Indifferent: Good squad player, but made too many mistakes
Mike Phelan0.75 Indifferent: Mediocre player
Nani15 Improving: Emerging from Ronaldo's shadow
Neil Webb1.50.8Miss: Rarely recaptured his previous club form
Nemanja Vidic7 Hit: United could more than double their money if sold
Nicy Butt 2.5Hit: Local lad done good (HOF)
Ole Solskjaer1.5 Priceless Hit: Hall of fame
Owen Hargreaves17 Gamble gone wrong: Injuries, injuries and more injuries
Park4 Indifferent: Useful squad player but nothing more
Patrice Evra5 Hit: On the road to possible legend status
Paul Ince17Hit: Became known as 'Big Time Charlie' and for good reason
Paul McGrath 0.4Hit: Hall of Fame
Paul Parker2 Hit: Hall of Fame
Peter Davenport0.750.75Miss: Couldn't cut it at a big club
Peter Schmeichel0.55 Hit: United's best ever 'keeper by common consent (HOF)
Phil Bardsley 2Sold prematurely
Pique 5Sold prematurely: Could prove to be Fergie's biggest transfer mistake
Ricardo0.15 Miss: Wasn't up to playing for United
Richardson 5.5Miss: Excellent piece of business
Rio Ferdinand30 Hit: Grossly over-inflated transfer fee, excellent buy nonetheless
Ronaldo12.880Hit: Hall of Fame
Ronny Johnsen1.28 Hit: Plauged by injuries but secured his place in club history in '99
Rossi 5Sold prematurely: Good money for an unproven striker
Roy Carroll2.5 Miss: Bag of nerves
Roy Keane3.75 Hit: Hall of Fame
Ryan Shawcross 1Sold prematurely
Saha12.8 Miss: 'Sicknote' reportedly given to Everton on a free
Smith76Bad buy: United did well to recoup £6m
Steve Bruce0.8 Hit: Hall of Fame
Taibi4.52.5Disaster: One of Fergie's worst buys
Teddy Sheringham3.5 Hit: Took over from Cantona - earned his place in United's hall of fame
Tevez100Hit: United paid price for not securing his future
Tim Howard2.33Indifferent: Good business unfulfilled potential
Valencia16 Hit: Looking good
Van Nistelrooy1911Hit: Great signing, but had to go following major fall-out
Viv Anderson0.25 Hit: Was beyond his best when he arrived but did ok
Wayne Rooney20 Hit: On the road to legend status, Hall of Fame assured
    
 OUTIN 
Totals381.155m228.95m 

United going to hell in a handcart with Glazers' at the helm?...

The shocking truth about the Glazers' business empire on the other side of the pond is set to be revealed by BBC Panorama tomorrow night. It is claimed the Glazer family are £1.1bn in debt - £400 more than was previously known. The Glazer family owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and First Allied, a shopping mall company, which according to reports is said to be worth 'next to nothing'.

With interest rates set to be raised to over 16% on a chunk of the Glazer debt mountain, it raises fears that Ferguson will not be given sufficient funds for team rebuilding.


BBC Panorama

Shocking truth about Glazers' debts

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ferguson needs to replace Ferdinand and quite possibly Vidic too...

It was only a few days ago that this blog warned that the Old Trafford transfer bells should be ringing: Ferguson has much work to do this summer in relation to squad rebuilding, however, the manager will tell you differently, when trying to convince us he only needs one addition to his squad. The truth is, Fergie is kidding no one but himself if genuinely believes his own spin.

So for whatever reason, Ferguson is doing his level best to dampen the expectations of the fans', because the club's supporters know full well the manager needs to bring in several proven quality signing this summer; if that doesn't happen, the team that went backwards last season following the loss of Tevez and Ronaldo will just get worse. As sure as night follows day, it will happen.

To compound the manager's problems, Rio Ferdinand sustained that knee injury - one that has ruled him out of the World Cup. No one wants to see players like Ferdinand miss the World Cup, but his injury will have not have surprised United supporters. But football can be a cruel game and Ferdinand won't be the only high-profile player to miss out on this summer's World Cup.

While many supporters will feel sorry for the England captain, there's no room for sentiment when it comes to hiring and firing; managers' need to know when to off-load players before their value drops; in the case of Ferdinand, you wonder if someone like Arsene Wenger would have sold him before he became worthless in the transfer market. A case in point is Kolo Toure, the Ivory Coast star was sold to Manchester City for £12m, that was another piece of shrewd business by the Arsenal manager, because it was good money for a player who was heading over the hill.

The warning signs have been there for some time with Ferdinand, his form has been affected injuries over the last two seasons. It is damning that Capello selected Ferdinand and Ledley King in his final 23 man-squad for South Africa; it was an accident waiting to happen, but the England manager has been lucky in that he was able to bring in a quality replacement in Michael Dawson who should have been selected in the first place. If Ledley King is also ruled out to injury, which is highly likely, quite what that will say about Capello's judgement will be a good question to ask.

As far as United are concerned, Ferguson has signed Chris Smalling from Fulham - presumably as a long-term successor to Ferdinand - to say that transfer raised eyebrows is a massive understatement, because few can see what all the fuss is about. It is to hoped Ferguson's judgement and confidence in Smalling is justified.

The concerns over Rio Ferdinand's ability to continue playing at the top are very real - those concerns could well be compounded if the transfer gossip columns prove to be true, because it is rumoured Jose Mourinho wants to sign Nemanja Vidic.

Ferdinand's days numbered ....

Friday, June 04, 2010

Rio Ferdinand out of World Cup? Another major headache for Capello and especially Ferguson?..

The news that Rio Ferdinand is injured again should not surprise Manchester United supporters, given he spent so much time on the sidelines over the last 12 months. However, on this occasion, Rio has sustained a knee injury and it could turn to be ligament damage, if so, he will almost certainly be ruled out of the World Cup. If that happens it will be disappointing for both the player and England manager.

In a worst case scenario, Capello should be able to draft in a late replacement; Michael Dawson is the most likely candidate. Capello took a major gamble when selecting Ferdinand and Ledley King given both are injury prone. The England manager can solve his problems at a stroke, with the addition of an adequate replacement, but for Ferguson, the problems are potentially more damaging if the injury proves to be serious and the player is ruled out for any length of time.

Ferdinand's club form has undoubtedly suffered due to his constant injury problems, so much so, that now would be a good time for Ferguson to look for a long-term replacement. With little money to spend in this summer's transfer window this latest injury news could just add to Ferguson's growing problems. It could be argued Ferguson should have moved sooner to bring in another first-class centre-back, given Ferdinand's problems and the constant speculation surrounding Vidic. Lucio would have been the perfect choice, but Ferguson allowed Jose Mourinho to sign the Brazilian last summer for just five million Euros.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Cole deal done and dusted?: All quiet on the transfer front...

We are in the middle of what could be described as a mini football hiatus, the biggest news this week (aside from high-profile managerial movements) was England getting on the plane to South Africa - that and Capello's decision to axe, Theo Walcott, aka, the 'Speed-boat without a driver' as he was described by an Arsenal fan last week.

Every day seems like 'Groundhog Day', but what about United, shouldn't Fergie be busy in the transfer market, especially given the World Cup is just around the corner? The answer is, yes, of course Fergie should be busy in the transfer market right now. Sadly, if we are to believe Ferguson, United will only make one additional proven quality signing this summer - it is to be hoped that player is Joe Cole.

According the latest news, Joe Cole will decide his future after the World Cup, but it is inconceivable talks haven't already taken place with his advisers. If Cole has ambitions of winning yet more silverware, then surely there's only one serious option and that is Manchester United.

Fergie definitely needs to sign at least one new central defender plus a striker in addition to an attacking play-maker. Javier Hernandez could provide the answer up front, but he's very much in the Michael Owen mould. The question is, do United need another Michael wen? Personally, I think not.

What Ferguson needed was a different attacking option, an all round striker like Drogba; Benzema might provide something different, but given his lack of appetite for the Premier League, will he come? It's one thing making up shopping lists, but if the manager has no money to spend then it's a pointless exercise, but for sure Fergie will be winging it next season if he only signs Joe Cole.

Finally, spare a thought for our 'old friends' from the wrong end of the East Lancs Road. The Scousers look set to off-load Rafa, like or loathe him, he's not that bad - especially given the lack of obvious replacements. Some Liverpool fans thought they were in with a serious chance of persuading Mourinho to join them. They don't need Jose, they need Billy Graham. It would be funny if our own situation at United was not equally as bad, if not worse.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

'Red Knights' letting Glazers' stew in their own gravy before making bid....

Contrary to last weekend's mainstream media speculation, the much awaited 'Red Knights' bid for control of Manchester United has not been permanently shelved, it has been temporarily put on the back-burner until after the World Cup. Backed by the 'Green and Gold' campaign, the 'Red Knights' will allow pressure to mount on the Glazers' before making an offer, one that hopefully the owners will be unable to refuse.

Last week the Glazers' reaffirmed they will not sell the club: the owners response was entirely expected and predictable.

MUST welcomes 'Red Knights' statement

Fans' urged not to renew season tickets

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