Monday, August 30, 2010

Rodwell in Carrick out?

With the summer transfer window about to slam shut and with Fergie still no nearer solving his central midfield problems, the latest transfer gossip suggests United could be about to test Everton's resolve with a £10m bid for Jack Rodwell. According to reports, Michael Carrick will be offered as part of any deal.

Rodwell is a rising English star who looks to have a genuine chance of making it at the very top. Assuming there is some truth behind this rumour, a lot will depend on how much Everton need United's cash right now, and of course would David Moyes fancy Michael Carrick as a replacement?

Carrick has become a bit-part player at Old Trafford and he'd probably jump at the chance to play more regularly; that is he would if Everton were willing to match his wages...

Rodwell would be a good addition to the United squad, but who would he replace in the current United team, Scholes or Fletcher? Rodwell can play anywhere down the middle, either in midfield or at the back, and of course Scholes is still United's main creative force.

You have to wonder where Rodwell would fit into the big scheme of things; would he be viewed as a Roy Keane type and if so, does that mean he'd be seen as a replacement for Fletcher and not Scholes?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fergie launches PR offensive over Rooney and Bebé but doubts persist as United stroll to easy win...

So then Wayne Rooney finally broke that scoring hoodoo against the Hammers on Saturday, the goal when it arrived came from the penalty-spot after Ryan Giggs was brought down inside the box by Jonathan Spector.

Rooney's penalty was well struck, but there looked to be an element of doubt in the player's mind as the United striker checked his stride on the run up as he changed direction, in so doing sending Robert Green the wrong way. Yes, Rooney scored, but the manner in which he took that spot-kick was very unusual.

Contrary to what Ferguson said after the game, Rooney didn't play that well, at times he looked sluggish and off the pace as he done over the last few months.

Nani and Dimitar Berbatov added further goals, both were spectacular. Nani's came about five minutes into the second-half following a mazey run by the Portuguese winger before he crashed home a stunning left foot drive that gave Robert Green no chance.

Dimitar Berbatov scored with twenty minutes remaining on the clock following good link up play between John O'Shea and Nani, whose cross found the Bulgarian unmarked on the edge of Robert Green's six-yard box. Berbatov lashed home a spectacular waist-high right foot volley and once again Green had no answer.

Not long after scoring, Berbatov, was wrongly substituted by Ferguson - it should have been Rooney who made way for Michael Owen.

Berbatov must be wondering what he has to do, because clearly there appears to be different rules for different players at Old Trafford - even when he's been the pick of the strikers, as he has all season to date and Rooney hasn't been at the races, it's the Bulgarian who continues to be the fall guy.

Ferguson praised Rooney's work-rate after the game, but his words of comfort for his star striker are to put it politely unconvincing.

The United manager is quite obviously sticking with Rooney in a bid to play him back into some sort of form, but time waits for no man and so do not be surprised to see the former Everton star being taken off or left out of the starting line-up if we do not see a rapid return to form.

It was all just a little bit too easy against West Ham, but United will more than likely face an altogether more serious examination in the next three fixtures against, Everton (away), Rangers and Liverpool at home.

While Berbatov was once again the pick of the United forwards, Scholes was in charge in the engine room and the Hammers had no answer. Scholes was the man of the match again and long may it continue.

Meanwhile, in other news and following the leaks coming out of Carrington about new signing Bebé, the club have been briefing journalists about the circumstances leading up to United shelling out £7.4m for a player who they could have signed for nothing just a few weeks ago.

According to the latest spin, the club are doing tests on the player in a bid to improve his core fitness amidst rumours that the 20-year old is out of his depth.

Bebé's former club reportedly initially inserted a €3million release clause in his contract, but after "watching him train" in pre-season friendlies, the club renegotiated with the player, and subsequently raised the release clause to €9million. Well, these reports conflict with the rumours coming out of Carrington about the player whose touch and fitness have been questioned. The gossiping about this transfer will only stop when and if Bebé comes good...watch this space.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rooney facing Fergie axe if his form doesn't improve and quickly?...

Following the loss of Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, United have had to more or less totally rely on Wayne Rooney to score the goals. The former Everton striker scored 34 in total last season, it was an amazing return for a forward who hadn't previously been prolific for United.

Rooney had a fantastic season, but it all turned sour in the knockout phase of the Champions League when he sustained an injury against Bayern Munich in March and he hasn't scored since for either club or country.

In the summer Ferguson moved to strengthen his forward options with the addition of Javier Hernadez. The Mexican has great potential and his arrival will almost certainly push Michael Owen down the pecking order. Fergie can also call upon Kiko Macheda who suffered with injuries last season.

But the man in form at Old Trafford right now is Dimitar Berbatov. The situation is this: Berbatov's name is currently the first on Fergie's team-sheet. With question marks about his form, Rooney is no longer guaranteed his starting place. Last weekend, we were told Rooney didn't travel to London for the Fulham game because of a 'stomach bug' - there's no reason at this stage to question if that was the real reason. However, the pressure is very much on Rooney to re-discover his form and to use a Fergie phrase 'there's no question about that'.

It doesn't actually matter who scores the goals, as long as United win and everyone including Rooney is doing their job for the team.

Unlike last season, Rooney's regular starting place is under threat because we now have serious competition for places and that's exactly how it should be.

There was a feeling following that injury in the away leg against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, that Rooney was rushed back too soon. If the same thing happened this season, then surely there's no reason why the manager should rush his star striker back into action.

Later today United face West Ham United at Old Trafford. Rooney has been pencilled in to start, with Everton, Rangers and Liverpool on the horizon now would be a good time for the player who scored 34 goals least season to rediscover his touch in front of goal.

If you fancy a punt on Manchester United vs West Ham United, then check out the latest betting odds.

First goal scorer odds:
Wayne Rooney 4.00 (3/1) Eurobet.com
Dimitar Berbatov 5.00 (4/1) Eurobet.com
Chicharito 5.00 (4/1) Bet365.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Coaches have 'misgivings' about Bebe...alarm bells ringing?

Well, well, well, so according to a report in today's Guardian, United's reserve team coaches are so disappointed with new £7.4m signing Bebe that they don't know when he's likely to be fit enough to play for United; even at this very early stage you begin to wonder if there's any real prospect of the Portuguese striker ever playing for the first-team.

Over the last few months in between making digs at big-spending Manchester City, Fergie been carping on about lack of value in the transfer. Those lack of value comments could well come back to haunt Ferguson, given he's admitted he'd never seen Bebe play before splashing out £7.4m.

At a time when the United manager is reportedly low on transfer funds, supporters will be wondering what the true motives were behind this move. Apparently, United have beaten off interest from Real Madrid and Benfica - at least that's one theory - but why didn't the club move for Bebe before he signed for Vitória Guimarães on a free transfer a few months ago, in so doing saving £7.4m?

There's no suggestion from this blog that anything underhand has gone on, but you have to wonder if this transfer will be the subject of a future investigation due to the amount involved and the circumstances leading up to it.

Perhaps Fergie has been led down the garden path by his 'old friend' Carlos Queiroz, and maybe the United manager thought he was about to sign the next Ronaldo; but when he first came to the club, it was very obvious he was destined for stardom - sadly it appears to be an altogether different scenario for Bebe...at least it does judging by the vibes coming out of Carrington.

To end on a positive note, at least United beat the 'Elite squad' aka Manchester City reserves last night when winning 3-1, thanks to a brace from Macheda and one from Cleverley, but the Reds played a very strong team, one that was made up of first team players including, Rafael, Anderson, Neville, Brown, Smalling, Gibson and Carrick.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Kamikaze" jibe falls flat as City issue wake-up call to onlooking Fergie...

Anyone who saw Manchester City's three goal destruction of Liverpool last night will no doubt have been slightly shocked and surprised at how easy it was for Roberto Mancini's team.

Following last weekend's opening day clash with Spurs, questions were asked of Mancini's tactics: playing three holding players simply didn't look like the right tactic and the City manager was accused of being over cautious by some observers.

But having signed James Milner and by bringing in Adam Johnson on the right, City carried a much greater threat from both flanks and Liverpool had no answer. Wherever you looked City had more power, even Steven Gerrard was coming off second best in the 50-50 tackles.

The media as well as our own great illustrious leader have been openly questioning City's buying policy: Last week Fergie set his gun sights on City with a well aimed jibe questioning what he described as "Kamikaze" buying, but against Liverpool last night it was City's young English players who really took the eye.

Joe Hart, James Milner, Micah Richards and especially Adam Johnson stood out. Following what can only be described as a pathetic World Cup showing, you were left wondering what on earth Capello was thinking of when he omitted Johnson from the squad and equally as bad he didn't select Joe Hart.

Ferguson was at last night's game, he was sat alongside former Sunderland manager Peter Reid. The United manager would have been present to take a personal form-check on Liverpool, but going off the hammering dished out to our "old friends" he will have learnt little as surely the Merseyside Reds will not play as poorly as they did against City. However, there's a well used adage that says 'you can only play as well as you are allowed to'; City simply did not allow Liverpool to play, not at least where it really mattered. The match stats didn't look too bad from a Liverpool perspective, that is they didn't apart from the only stat that really counted - the final score.

City's performance against Liverpool will have sent alarm bells ringing at every top club in the land, because there was no weaknesses to exploit. City look especially strong in midfield and as far as United are concerned this is the biggest area of concern. No way will Scholes and Fletcher be able to cope against City's muscle in the engine room. When United play City, you can forget any notion of Fergie deploying a 4-4-2 formation.

Fergie will have to go like for like and select 4-3-3 or 4-5-1, but whatever formation the United manager selects there must be a very real danger the Red Devils will still end up being over-powered in the engine room just like Liverpool and of course Fergie doesn't have a Steven Gerrard in his squad.

It is very early days, but just two games into the new season and already it looks like Mancini has found the right blend of power, pace and skill, if so, it is a wake-up call for not only Liverpool but for United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fulham good value for point as United get lucky...

United went into this afternoon's clash with Fulham hoping to avenge two league defeats on the spin at Craven Cottage, it looked as though they might just do that when Paul Scholes scored after just eleven minutes with a trademark power-driver into the bottom corner from fully 25-yards out. The opening goal came about following a neat lay-off from Berbatov on the edge of the Fulham penalty area. It was Scholes's 150th goal for United and he won't have scored many better; the Ginger Prince became only the tenth player in the club's history to score 150.

However, after the first 15 minutes Fulham fought their way back into the contest and they had the better of the remainder of the first-half. On 30 minutes the West London club spurned two excellent chances when Dickson Etuhu was denied by Edwin van der Sar - but truth be told and as good as the Dutchman's blocks undoubtedly were, the home team should have been on level terms.

Peter Walton had an afternoon to forget, first he booked Atonio Valencia when he scythed down Etuhu, but minutes later the referee allowed Danny Murphy to get away with an identical tackle on Paul Scholes. The referee's performance will no doubt have angered both manager's following a catalogue of errors by the official.

The second-half started pretty much like the first, with United gaining a degree of control, but without ever seriously threatening Stockdale in the Fulham goal.
Chicharito partnered Dimitar Berbatov up front in a four-four-two formation; the young Mexican striker looked sharp and his passing was crisp, but he found it difficult to make any impression around the Fulham penalty area against a well drilled home defence. While Fulham were quick on the break, they almost always had sufficient cover at the back and much credit to Roy Hodgson and the new manager Mark Hughes for retaining the continuity which saw Fulham reach last season's Europa League Final.

As the game went on, United didn't really look like scoring; Chicharito had two efforts on goal in total, one in either half, but neither troubled Stockdale, while Berbatov had at least forced the Fulham 'keeper into an early first-half acrobatic save. Berbatov was once again the pick of the United forwards, but he needs to improve his finishing.

As the second-half went on the home team pressed United back and the visitors were extremely lucky to get away with what looked like a good shout for a penalty when Vidic was guilty of shirt pulling. United had another lucky escape when Zamora was through on goal, but the England striker pulled his shot wide of the target when he should have pulled the ball back.

While Scholes was playing well and being busy as ever, United looked vulnerable to the counter-attack, especially down Fulham's left flank. The decision to play John O'Shea at right-back didn't look like a particularly good one as the Irishman was guilty of wasting possession on a number of second-half occasions, when he opted to lump the ball down the middle, invariably, over the heads of Chicharito and Berbatov.

United's luck eventually ran out when Damien Duff somehow found his way around Patrice Evra, the former Chelsea winger played in Bobby Zamora who pulled the ball back to Simon Davies and he crashed home a well deserved equaliser on 57 minutes.

From that point on it was fairly obvious Fergie had to do something to change the pattern of the game as United were finding it difficult to break down Fulham. In a bid to do something to alter the flow of the game, Ferguson replaced the hard-working, but ultimately ineffective Park with Nani, who it has to be said didn't do much better.

Chicharito was trying to play on the shoulder of the last defender - but the ploy wasn't working; the Mexican looked much better when he dropped deeper and linked up the play, but on too many occasions it was a case of either being in the wrong place or else the service simply wasn't good enough - truth be told it was a combination of both and so it came as no great surprise when Ferguson eventually made a double substitution when sending on Giggs and Owen for Valencia and the Mexican.

United eventually started to take a measure of control when they forced the home on to the back foot. Vidic had two headers from corners, but neither troubled Stockdale. But eventually United's pressure paid off when Hangeland scored an own goal from a Nani corner.

Just minutes later United were awarded a very dubious penalty by Mr Walton following a 'hand-ball' by Damien Duff, but Nani failed to convert the resulting spot-kick as Stockdale made an excellent save, but United's Portuguese winger should have done better.

United went on to pay a high price for Nani's penalty miss as Hangeland atoned for his own goal when he powered home a headed equaliser as the clock was running down. Vidic will feel he should have done better as not for the first time, the marking in the United penalty area left a lot to be desired.

The draw was a fair result and United can have no complaints.

Rooney to miss Fulham, Van der Vaart update...

The Premier League weekend action continues today with United travelling to Craven Cottage where Fulham won three nil last season. The Red Devils have been rocked by the news that Wayne Rooney hasn't travelled to London having reported in sick on Saturday morning, the club has yet to confirm the player's absence.

Rooney is struggling to find his form and there are concerns about his lack of goals having not scored in any competition since last March against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Ferguson insists the goals will start to flow again once Rooney gets into the groove, hopefully this latest setback will be prove to be nothing to worry about.

While Rooney is a fabulous player on his day, he's been blowing hot and cold and the man in-form up front for United is Dimitar Berbatov; every cloud has a silver lining and in this instance we could see Chicharito starting in place of Rooney. Michael Owen will also come into contention for a starting place and it would come as no great surprise if the former Newcastle striker gets the nod over the young Mexican hit-man.

Meanwhile, in other news Van der Vaart has denied that he's issued a come and get me plea to Manchester United. Reports in the English media on Friday attributed quotes to the Real Madrid star which made it pretty clear the Dutchman fancied a move to Manchester United. The latest transfer speculation suggests Van der Vaart could be among four players who are surplus to requirements following the appointment of Jose Mourinho and reports in Spain claim the Netherlands international won't be moving to another Spanish club.

Grab your Free bet ahead of today's Fulham game.

Fulham vs Manchester United: All the latest Manchester United betting odds

Saturday, August 21, 2010

United caught on the hop over Possebon exit?....

Dear oh dear, it has been a very bad week for United on the transfer front; first the much talked about prospective Mesut Ozil transfer to Old Trafford didn't happen, and coming on the back of that debacle the club have seemingly allowed Rodrigo Possebon to announce his own exit without any word from Manchester United.

There was high hopes for Rodrigo Possebon, the elegant young Brazilian midfield maestro looked the part but he never recovered following a poor challenge by Middlesbrough's Emanuel Pogatetz during the third round Carling Cup tie at Old Trafford last season.

Possebon is set to join Brazilian club Santos.

Possebon set to leave United

Fulham vs United: Reds out to avenge three nil mauling...

Manchester United travel to Craven Cottage this weekend looking to avenge two away defeats on the spin at Fulham. The Red Devils will be without long-term absentees, Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson.

Ferguson has confirmed Anderson has been unhappy about being left out of the United starting line-up and there has been suggestions the player wanted to leave the club last season, it remains to be see what will happen when he returns to full fitness, because the Brazilian hasn't done enough to warrant a regular starting place having failed to live up to expectations.

Sunday's match will mark Mark Hughes first home game since taking charge of the West London club and the former City manager will be keen to get one over on his old boss and United in front of the home fans.

In the corresponding fixture last season amidst a defensive injury crisis, the trio of Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Ritchie De Laet were set the task of forming a experimental three-man back-line by Ferguson; the tactic backfired spectacularly as United's makeshift defence failed to deal with Bobby Zamora who led the Fulham attack superbly.

With Nemanja Vidic likely to partner Jonny Evans at the heart of the United back-four, Ferguson will be expecting an altogether more professional performance from his defenders.


Match facts
Sunday, 4pm kick-off.
Venue: Craven Cottage.
On the box: Sky Sports 1

Recent away history against Fulham:
2009/2010
Premier League
Fulham 3-0 Manchester United

2008/2009
Premier League
Fulham 2-0 Manchester United
FA Cup
Fulham 0-4 Manchester United

2007/2008
Premier League
Fulham 0-3 Manchester United

Recommended bets:

First goal-scorer: Dimitar Berbatov looks to be in red-hot form. Back United's Bulgarian striker to be first goal-scorer with odds of 6.50 (11/2) at Extrabet.com

Correct Score:
United to win 2-0 7.50 (13/2) at William Hill.com

Fulham vs Manchester United, see the latest free bet offers.

Sell all the latest Manchester United betting odds.

Quoted odds correct as of 21/08/2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Mesut Ozil, another one who got away - same old, same old...

Manchester United are without doubt one of the biggest club's in the world, but when it comes to attracting the finest players on the market the Red Devils have struggled at times to persuade the really top stars to come to Old Trafford.

Earlier this week Mesut Ozil became the latest big name player to snub United, when instead the Werder Bremem midfield man opted to join Real Madrid. Ozil was one of the few standout players at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and it wasn't surprising that the German had the pick of Europe's biggest clubs. The only real surprise was the knockdown transfer fee, Madrid eventually signed him for just £11.5m, the equivalent of loose change at Eastlands these days.

United have signed some big name stars in the past, but usually when there's been little competition for the said players signature. Juan Sebastian Veron only came to England because of the passport scandal which led to him leaving Italian football. Ruud Van Nistelrooy also joined the club in 2001 along with Veron, but at the time there was little serious competition for the player's signature.

There was one notable exception, because in 1998, Jaap Stam became the then expensive Dutch footballer in history and the most expensive defender in history, when Fergie bought him for £10.6 m. At that time, Stam was the Dutch player of the year and so there would have been many suitors.

While Ferguson may well have missed out on some big name players, he's also dug up some real diamonds. Eric Cantona came to United pretty much as a cast-off; the then Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson couldn't really handle the player, the rest is history...

Then we have the legend that is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the former Molde striker was plucked from relative obscurity and went on to become one of United's all time great players. The same can be said of Peter Schmeichel, the 'great Dane' is without doubt the finest 'keeper the Premier League has seen since its conception.

Despite his problems in the transfer market when chasing down the really hot players, Ferguson has done a remarkable job and hopefully the Scot will continue to make excellent signings. Javier Hernandez looks as though he has the ability to succeed; the fact that the Mexican speaks English is a big bonus. However, for the time being the jury is out on the player known as Chicharito and the same can be said of Chris Smalling who was signed from Fulham.

The most bizarre signing for many a long year has to be Bebe, because Ferguson has let it be known - perhaps unwisely - that he'd never seen the player in action, not even on TV or on DVD. The 20-year-old Portuguese striker was signed for a fee of £7.4m. Bebe, has according to Fergie, been signed purely on recommendation, if that is true, then the United manager must have complete confidence in his scouting staff. It is to hoped Fergie wasn't referring to same scouts who unearthed Eric Djemba-Djemba...

The ones who got away:
Karim Benzema
Ronaldinho
Wesley Sneijder
Mesut Ozil
Alan Shearer (his biggest mistake ever...)
Paul Gascoigne (...ditto)

United's next match:
Sunday, 4pm kick-off.
Venue: Craven Cottage.
On the box: Sky Sports 1

Recent away history against Fulham:
2009/2010
Premier League
Fulham 3-0 Manchester United

2008/2009
Premier League
Fulham 2-0 Manchester United
FA Cup
Fulham 0-4 Manchester United

2007/2008
Premier League
Fulham 0-3 Manchester United

Fulham vs Manchester United, see the latest free bet offers.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Message to Fergie: Please stop talking about other clubs

Fergie has spoken out against what he has described as the Premier League's 'Kamikaze' clubs; for the sake of clarity and to dispel any element of doubt, to you and me that will be Manchester City and Chelsea. Well, in the unlikely event that Fergie has forgotten, one of those club's torpedoed United in the title race last season by taking all six points off the Red Devils en route to becoming Champions. Chelsea also won the FA Cup with manager Carlo Ancelotti, who was new to the Premier League.

The United manager quite rightly pointed that money alone cannot buy success, but under Jose Mourinho who was backed by Roman Abramovich's millions, the West London club had by far the better of things in terms of winning silverware and in the head-to-head battles against United. Clearly, the tens of millions thrown at building the Chelsea squad has paid off, at least on the pitch any rate.

As for Manchester City, the time to judge their buying will come; it is far too early to predict how this season will pan out, but make no mistake Mancini has several players who Fergie would like to have in his squad.

United should let their football do the talking on the pitch, after all, you don't get three points for sniping from the sidelines, but you can end up with a serious amount of egg on your face if you are proven wrong.

By repeatedly pontificating about City, Fergie is in serious danger of being accused of being obsessed by our local rivals - when all true reds know, it is the opposite way around.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Berbatov shines, but it's Scholes who dazzles sorry Newcastle...

IF Andy Carroll had taken Newcastle's early goal scoring opportunity it could have been a very different story, but having done the hard bit by losing his marker Nemanja Vidic, the giant Geordie headed wide of Edwin van der Sar's goal. From that point onwards there was only ever going to be one winner and it wasn't last night's visitors to Old Trafford.

Newcastle had started with just one striker up front; in contrast, United had two up front, so in theory, the visitors should have had an extra man in midfield, but it certainly didn't look that way as the Red Devils went on to pretty much control the engine room.

Last season's Championship winners had no answer to Paul Scholes who was in majestic form: If you give good players time and space more often than not they will punish you. Against Newcastle, Scholes, was at his impish best; United's veteran midfield general was always available for the short pass and more often than not he found his man. Despite having two combative hatchet-men in midfield in Alan Smith and Joey Barton, Newcastle had no answer to Scholes.

The main beneficiary of United's domination was Dimitar Berbatov, his strike partner Wayne Rooney showed one or two nice touches, but clearly he's not quite 100% match fit and that's why Ferguson eventually replaced him with Chicharito who was given a standing ovation by the Old Trafford faithful when he entered the action with thirty minutes remaining on the clock.

But it was Berbatov who stole the show up front; like Scholes the Bulgarian was pulling the strings, but from a more advanced position. Berbatov had opened the scoring in the first half-half with a well taken low-drilled effort that gave Harper no chance; it seems churlish to point out that United's number nine was aided by the faintest of touches by Enrique in the build-up, but taking nothing away from the former Spurs striker who went on to have a very good game.

Darren Fletcher made it two-nil four minutes before the break with a snap-shot and quick turn inside the Newcastle penalty area following an incisive run by Patrice Evra. The game was effectively over as a contest from that point on.

With twenty minutes to go, Ryan Giggs came on when he replaced Nani and he scored the goal of the game following yet another superb pass from Paul Scholes, the Welshman wasted no time as he struck the ball first time, arrow like, into the corner and once again Harper had no chance.

New signing Chicharito looked very lively and made some very good runs, but Valencia and Nani weren't on the same wavelength. United's Mexican striker could turn out to be one of the buys of the season if he settles quickly, there's no doubting he looks the part.

As for Newcastle, they need to improve, but there's worse teams in the division and so they will probably be okay once they get going.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Man United v Newcastle a home banker?...

In theory Manchester United shouldn't have a problem brushing aside the challenge of newly promoted Newcastle United, but football is rarely easy to predict and so tonight's match could be closer than many pundits are predicting.

United need to win to keep level on points with Chelsea who thrashed West Brom 6-0 on the opening day of the Barclays Premier League. Whatever happens in tonight's clash at Old Trafford, we can expects goals from both teams.

The Red Devils will be without long-term injury stars, Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves and Anderson. Alan Smith will be desperate to make an impression against his former club providing he passes a late fitness test.

Recommended value bets:
Any time scorer odds:
Darron Gibson 6.00 (5/1) William Hill
Nemanja Vidic 9.00 (8/1) William Hill
Andrew Carroll 6.00 (5/1) William Hill
Kevin Nolan 7.00 (6/1) Bet365

Latest comparative odds Manchester United v Newcastle United

Free Bet deals

Quoted odds correct as of 16/08/2010.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fergie and Wenger clash over home-grown rule...

The Premier League's new home-grown rule has certainly left fans and pundits alike confused over the last few weeks: for anyone who hasn't been paying attention, the new rule stipulates that eight of the 25 players selected have to be 'home-grown'.

It's interesting to note that Arsene Wenger is totally and utterly against the rule, which he's described as "ridiculous" . The Arsenal manager says as a result, the Premier League will no longer be the best league in the world - at least that is the gist of his argument, that and it has nothing to do with "top level sport" in this country.

The Arsenal manager also points out that this new rule is driving up the price and in some instances the financial demands of qualifying players: the case of Stephen Ireland has been cited. According to reports, Ireland's proposed move to Aston Villa has stalled due to the player's demands.

Wenger is without doubt one of the most respected coaches in world football and his voice should not be ignored, but seemingly it has been, or least the Premier League haven't taken notice of his views.

The Frenchman also made comparisons with Spain's, La Liga, when stating there's as many foreign players playing in that division. However, on this point Wenger is actually wrong because La Liga has already introduced a similar ruling. (I will be posting more on this subject at a later date).

While most sensible football supporters will take on board Wenger's comments - in contrast, the Manchester United manager appears to be in full support of the new rule: Ferguson says it's a "good thing" and that it "had to happen".

So the question is, who is right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eyebrows raised about Bebe signing fee....

With little money to spend on new players, news of United's latest signing has left pundits and supporters asking what is going on at Old Trafford, because the club has reportedly agreed to pay around £7.5m for an unproven Portuguese striker with no pedigree. 20 year-old Bebe is not an international and he's spent most of his time playing in the Portuguese third division. United have signed the 6ft 2" striker from Vitória de Guimarães.

Fergie signed Mame Biram Diouf in 2009 for an undisclosed fee and after recently telling the media that the Senegalese striker's future was assured at Old Trafford the club has subsequently sent the player out on loan to Blackburn; it remains to be seen what will happen to the former Molde striker. The jury is very much out on Diouf, but it's fair to suggest he hasn't done enough to impress United's backroom team otherwise he wouldn't now be a Blackburn player and chances are Bebe wouldn't have been signed.

The Angolan striker Manucho was another who recently came to Old Trafford and failed and he was subsequently sent packing on loan before being offloaded.

Reports claim United are said to be hopeful of signing Mesut Ozil and the transfer fee could be less than £12m. However, if United fail to land the Werder Bremen star due to lack of cash and Bebe fails to make the grade just like Manucho, then supporters will have every right to ask what the club are doing pursuing unproven players, especially when the club are paying relatively high amounts in some cases - that money could be put to better use...

If it came down to a choice between signing proven quality for reasonable transfer fees, or taking a chance on players like Bebe, then surely the sensible option would be to go for proven quality, but that isn't always the case right now at Old Trafford as the manager appears to be gambling with what little money he has at his disposal.

Bebe could of course prove to be a world-beater and no doubting that is why Ferguson is taking a gamble, but the United manager's strike record has been very patchy of late on the search for new talent with the exception of Chicharito who does look like excellent value.

The ones that got away from Fergie: Wesley Sneijder (15million Euros), Lucio (5million Euros), or Simon Kjaer for £11.5million.

Still available: Mesut Ozil (12 million Euros)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rooney, Berbatov, Chicharito or Owen to finish top goal-scorer for United?

Okay, so you think you know your stuff, right? Then tell us who will be United's top-goal scorer in 2010/11. It should of course be Wayne Rooney or Dimitar Berbatov as they are likely to be Ferguson's preferred starting strikers - but do not rule out Chicharito, because as he showed against Chelsea last weekend in the Community Shield, the Mexican can score from any angle.

I'm tipping Chicharito to score at least five more goals than either Rooney or Berbatov. Until last season Wayne Rooney was not prolific in front of goal and so it will be very interesting to see how many he scores this time around. We have created a new poll which is located in the right sidebar, so let's have your votes on who you believe will be United's top goal-scorer in all competitions in 2010/11.

For anyone who fancies a bet on who will finish up top goal-scorer in the Premier League we will be keeping you up to date throughout the season with the latest comparative odds from http://www.freebetupdates.com. (See the latest comparative odds below).

VCBet are offering odds on Rooney finishing as Premier League top scorer of 7.00 (6/1).

Interestingly, since his goal against Chelsea last weekend Chicharito's odds have been shortening; but if you get on this quickly, Bet365 are still offering very generous looking odds of 34.00 (33/1)

United fans won't be that surprised to learn that PaddyPower are offering odds of 41.00 (40/1) on Berbatov to finish up top-goalscorer.

Quoted odds correct as of 10/08/2010.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ozil set for Barca: Lack of funds costs United again?

So then, it looks like Mesut Ozil is about to sign for Barcelona; it will be no great surprise if it actually happens. But, so much for the reports claiming United were keeping their powder dry until the player ran down his contract; that amounted to the same old tired media bullshit from the usual suspects.

It is inconceivable that the likes of Ferguson, Wenger, Ancelotti, Mourinho and Pep Guardiola wouldn't want a player of Ozil's undoubted talents within their respective squads.

Players of Ozil's ability do not come around that often and when they're available for knockdown prices, as a fan, you live in hope your club will sign the said player.

Ozil was one of the few genuine bright stars of the World Cup which makes United's apparent failure to even make any move to sign him even more damning.

Ferguson has little room to manoeuvre in the transfer market due to lack of funds and for that we have to blame the Glazer family.

Rival 'fans' booing Rooney will work for United...

The Johnny Englander boo-boy numpties were at it again at Wembley last Sunday, booing Wayne Rooney's every touch. We have been told the England players can expect to receive similar treatment during the first few weeks of the new season from rival supporters up and down the land. It is all so very tiresome and predictable - but like England's World Cup campaign it is an exercise in futility.

But let's get one thing straight: if you were one of those who believed the media hype surrounding the England team in the lead up to the World Cup then you're daft.
England had no chance of winning the World Cup, only a complete idiot would have expected that outcome; more likely, England would be on the first plane home and that's precisely what we predicted on this blog before a ball was kicked.

Yes, Rooney & Co fell way below expectations and so, yes, we can all understand the match going paying public being upset, but booing the players isn't going to change anything. The FA and Capello should be fair game though - they are the ones who should be on the receiving end. Vote with your feet is our advice.

As for booing Rooney, he's not going to be affected by that; not when rival fans have been calling him a fat bastard ever since he turned professional. Rooney has broad shoulders he will rise above the nonsense; he knows the best way to silence mouthy supporters is to put the ball in the onion bag. Bring on the Geordies.

As for Sunday's Community Shield, the outcome was very welcome, but the final score didn't tell the full story: Chelsea had United on the rack at times, but nonetheless let's take nothing away from the United team. Fergie baffled us all once again when selecting Owen as the second striker in his starting eleven - who would have predicted that? The United manager also started with Jonny Evans alongside Vidic and here again this was something of a surprise. Chicharito got his name on the scoresheet, but he'll no doubt want to forget his first effort on goal that went out for a throw-in. Sunday didn't tell us much that we didn't already know: United won't be that different from last season and neither will Chelsea.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Shield: Fergie must be bold against Chelsea...

United take on Chelsea this weekend in the Community Shield at Wembley, the United manager knows full well the eyes of the world will be focused on the curtain raiser to the new Premier League season that kicks-off next weekend.

The west London club have not been that busy in the transfer market and so we pretty know what to expect from Chelsea - they are powerful in all departments, especially in midfield - and it's here where United could be vulnerable on Sunday. This could well be Paul Scholes last season; the 35 year-old cannot carry on forever and ahead of the big game Ferguson has stated his most creative force cannot be relied upon to play week-in week-out.

United have been strongly linked to Germany's world cup star, Mesut Ozil, but sadly it doesn't look like any deal will happen this summer and so Ferguson will have to make do with what his lot. There will be no Michael Carrick due to injury and reports suggest he's available for transfer should the club receive an acceptable offer. Darren Fletcher is a willing work-horse but he cannot expected to do it all on his own.

Contrary to press speculation Tom Cleverley will not be going out on loan this season - that is he won't unless Ferguson signs a proven midfield player before the transfer window closes at the end of August.

So how will Ferguson approach the Shield clash with Chelsea and can we expect fireworks from United? The answer to those questions will be answered on Sunday, but for now here's our predictions.

Ferguson will probably start with his most experienced players. United will line up with a four-four-two formation with Berbatov and Rooney up front. Rooney needs more game time and Berbatov could yet find himself warming the bench this season with competition for places hotting up - the pressure is on the Bulgarian from the first kick, but Ferguson is likely to give Berbatov a few chances to prove his worth, before demoting him back down the pecking order. Owen will all most certainly be introduced at half-time as a replacement for Rooney and Hernandez will replace Berbatov at some point.

In midfield, we think Fergie will start with Scholes and Fletcher in central midfield and on the flanks it will be Park and Nani (or Valencia).

The make-up of United's back four is less certain due to injuries; the right-back slot could be filled by John O'Shea or Rafael if the Brazilian is fit. Evans will be probably start at left-back with Smalling and Vidic in the centre.

Ferguson will more than likely start with Van der Sar, but he might rotate his 'keepers at some point.

If United are going to take first blood and lay down a marker ahead of the new season, then Ferguson must be bold and he must introduce Cleverley at some point to see how he fares against the best. Ferguson is unlikely to win on Sunday if he starts with anything other than a four-four-two formation because Rooney isn't yet fit enough to lead the line on his own as he often did, almost single-handedly, when carrying United last season.


Star bets:
Anytime scorer: William Hill are offering odds on Vidic of 13.00 (13/1) while Eurobet have Chris Smalling at 13.00 (13/1)
First scorer or last scorer: VCBet.com are offering both Vidic or Smalling at 41.00 (40/1)

If you enjoy a value bet then check out all the latest odds from Freebetupdates.com.




Comparative odds powered by Freebetupdates.com

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Dublin walk in the park amounts to little as United stroll to easy victory...

The Red Devils were in action last night, this time in Dublin where the opponents were a select XI from the Airtricity League of Ireland.

Following an indifferent US tour where results are concerned, United turned on the style winning 7-1 in front of a near full-house at the impressive Aviva Stadium.

Ahead of the game, the fans had been promised both Rooney and Vidic would play some part and the supporters were not disappointed. Rooney didn't manage to get his name on the score-sheet-but he looked to be in reasonable condition following what was a disappointing season end and a World Cup to forget.

The Sun
published photos of Rooney revelling into the early hours in Manchester last weekend and according to reports Ferguson was not best pleased. In the wake of what amounted to a Dublin walk in the park, comes the much stiffer challenge of Chelsea this Sunday in the Community Shield at Wembley. The United manager has promised to give Rooney more playing time in a bid to regain his sharpness, but it might take a few games before we see last season's top goal-scorer back to anywhere near his lethal best.

Vidic looked to be in good nick in Dublin, this time alongside Chris Smalling and it looks as though this will be Ferguson's preferred central defensive partnership, especially if Rio Ferdinand does not regain full fitness.

Ferdinand has been plagued by a succession of injuries and so chances are, from now on, we can expect to see him in cameo roles. The 'England captain' is likely to be a member of the supporting cast rather than one of the stars of the show from now on.

Smalling likes to get forward and it will be interesting to see how he fares against Chelsea this weekend - first and foremost he needs to be a solid defender and if he can forge a good understanding with Vidic at the back, it might well prove to be shrewd business by Ferguson, but, the former Fulham player will be judged on his defending and not what he does in United's opponent's half of the pitch.

Vidic spoke to the media after the game in Dublin and everyone connected with United will have been especially relieved to hear the Serbian defender confirm he's going nowhere this summer following weeks of speculation about his future.

While the Airticity friendly was a typical pre-season workout, it was another opportunity to improve fitness and to give the new boys more time on the pitch with their new team-mates.

It was somewhat surprising to see Michael Owen start, given he didn't go on tour to the US, but the manner in which took United's scond goal suggested he's regaining his sharpness in front of goal and that must bode well for what lies ahead.

Owen was replaced at half-time by the player who could go on to give Rooney a run for his money by eventually becoming the new fans' favourite and Chicharito wasted no time in adding United's third goal of the night with more or less his first touch following another good ball in from the right by Valencia. Chicharito has quick feet and as well as a goal-scorers instinct and from the brief glimpses we've seen so far he could go on to do very well this season.

Valencia stretched United's margin to four with a simple goal and then Park added his second of the night after he'd opened the scoring with a fluke in the opening minutes. The South Korean's second effort was an altogether more impressive goal as it was expertly curled into the top corner giving Rogers no chance.

Jonny Evans, who was playing left-back made it six-nil with a well directed header, but the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Dave Mulcahy who converted a late consolation goal - however, according MUTV match summariser and United legend, Paddy Crerand, it was offside...

Nani ended the scoring from the penalty spot after Chicharito had been fouled.

Ferguson will be absolutely delighted with United's progress this summer thus far and the new players appear to be bedding in well. The one glaring weakness in the United squad is the lack of genuine proven quality in central midfield. United need to find a replacement for Paul Scholes and failure to do so could yet prove to be costly.

Reports claim United are hoping to sign Gremany's star of the world cup, Mesut Ozil, on a free next summer; if true, this looks like a gamble given Jose Mourinho is known admirer - many United fans would surely agree it's better to snap up the Werder Bremen star now rather than risk losing him.

It will be interesting to measure United against Chelsea at Wembley especially in midfield, because the West London club are the bookies favourites to be champions again. It is difficult to argue with the bookmakers looking at the two squads, but with Vidic staying, United will be in a shout providing the engine room can cope and supply the likes of Rooney and Chicharito.

Match Facts:

Airtricity League XI 1-7 Manchester United
Dave Mulcahy 79 Ji Sung Park 13, 63 Michael Owen 25
Chicharito 47, Antonio Valencia 60
Johnny Evans 69, Nani 82

Airtricity League XI: Gary Rogers (St Patrick's Athletic); Brian Shelley (Bohemians), Gavin Peers (Sligo Rovers), Ken Oman (Bohemians) Conor Powell (Bohemians); Ryan Guy (St Patrick's Athletic), Paul Keegan (Bohemians), Shaun Williams (Sporting Fingal), Killian Brennan (Bohemians); Joseph Ndo (Sligo Rovers), Paddy Madden (Bohemians).
Subs: Alan Kirby (Sporting Fingal) for Brennan (h/t), Conor Kenna (St. Patrick's Athletic) for Peers (54), Karl Sheppard (Galway United) for Madden (64), Richie Ryan (Sligo Rovers) for Williams (64), Ger O'Brien (Sporting Fingal) for Guy (70) Dave Mulcahy (St. Patrick's Athletic) for Ndo (70) Ger Doherty (Derry City) for Rogers (70).

Manchester United: Tomasz Kuszczak (Ben Amos 65); John O'Shea, Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick (Darren Fletcher 37), Darron Gibson, Ji Sung Park (Nani 65); Michael Owen (Javier Hernandez h/t), Wayne Rooney (Dimitar Berbatov h/t).

Referee: Alan Kelly (Cork).

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Attendance: 49, 861.

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