Thursday, July 31, 2008

Reports claim Ronaldo set to demand Real Madrid move...Fergie's transfer plans in turmoil?

According to the very latest news on the future of Cristiano Ronaldo, the player will travel back to Manchester next week and his agent has been quoted saying that Cristiano is still dreaming of a move to Real Madrid and it's "non-negotiable".

If Ronaldo does eventually move on then Fergie's transfer plans could be in turmoil given that any selling clubs will know that the club is cash rich and players like Berbatov will cost several million more. What's more, Arshavin who could potentially fill any gap left by Ronaldo but he looks set to move to Spurs. If United have anything about them they will make a move to delay the Russian moving to the North London club at least until the future of Ronaldo is finalised.

Unlike last summer, United have dithered in the transfer market and if they lose Ronaldo and they don't sign another top class forward then the Reds chances of winning more silverware next season will be significantly diminished.

There's no doubting Fergie has planned on retaining Ronaldo at all costs, this in itself was a huge gamble, let us hope it comes off for the manager in what will probably be his final season in charge of the Red Devils.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Calderon revelation on Ronaldo proof enough that Madrid are guilty of tapping?

According to Ramon Calderon, Cristiano Ronaldo is set to hold talks with United next week; given that this news comes in the wake of United's tapping up allegations presented and rejected by FIFA, is it not strange that Calderon was the one who delivered news of these Ronaldo talks to the big wide world? I mean, how the hell does Calderon know that United and the want away winger are set for talks unless he's been in direct contact with the player's agent or indeed Ronaldo himself?

Clearly, FIFAs inaction on this issue has given Calderon yet more confidence that his club can ride roughshod over all. Calderon and his club have a brazen disregard for rules and will stop at nothing to get what they want. However, it's looking increasingly likely that Ronaldo will stay at United which is great news for the club.

United having a little difficulty selling season tickets?...

With only a few weeks to go before the big kick-off as the new season approaches and coming off the back winning the Champions League and the Premier League it seems incredible that the Reds have yet to sell all their season tickets, but that is the case as the club have been reduced to informing their supporters via mailshot that they have a "limited number of one year season tickets" available. The exact number of unsold season tickets remains unknown at this juncture.

However, this news has to be set against the backdrop of the ever increasing cost of watching United with many long-standing supporters being forced into giving up their prized season tickets. I personally know of fans who have followed the club for over 20 years who will not be renewing this season.

While United have been undoubtedly successful on the pitch under the Glazer regime, it has come at a cost for the club and its supporters. United are still massively in debt with the banks and supporters will continue to be on the sharp end of ever increasing match-day price rises. The most expensive season ticket costs £980 and it's a further £48 for Cup games.

News of the clubs marketing blitz comes as no great surprise and the club remain way out in front of their nearest rivals in terms of season ticket sales. It cannot be ruled that some of the fans who have given their tickets may well still attend some United games on an occasional basis. United are in the enviable position of having a huge number of supporters to call upon, which partly explains why the club have been able to get away with recent price hikes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rodrigo Possebon set for big things at United?

United ended their summer tour of South Africa at the weekend when seeing off the challenge of Portsmouth in the final of the Vodacom Challenge Cup when running out 2-1 winners. The match itself was another exercise in going through the motions in preparation for the real thing, Chris Eagles missed a bag full of chances before finally slotting a well taken second half goal and before that Tevez had missed a retaken penalty, but he too made amends on 63 minutes. Defoe scored a decent consolation goal on 90 mintues to the make scoreline look respectable, but in truth Pompey were well off the pace.

While Ferguson had been denied the services of players who'd taken part in Euro 2008, it gave the manager the opportunity to have another look at some of the club's younger players. We all know about Jonny Evans and Fraizer Campbell, both of whom had excellent seasons while on loan Sunderland and Hull respectively, what to do about the future of these two players this coming season will no doubt be taxing the United boss. My gut feeling is both could be sold and the same can be said of Chris Eagles, the talk is that he is expected to join Burnley this week for just £1m.

As far as Evans is concerned he really looked the part for United in his early appearances, but last season before being shipped off to Sunderland he did not do as well for the Reds, albeit in a limited number of appearances and of course Vidic and Rio stand in his way as far as the first team central defensive slots are concerned.

Campbell had a fantastic season for Hull, but from what I've seen of him for United on tour he hasn't quite lived up to expectations. In order to get the best out of Campbell, it could well be the case that he needs to paired with an out and out target man - and course United do not currently have a target man, unless you include Louis "wooden leg" Saha.

One player who has done his chances of securing a long term future at Old Trafford no harm is Rodrigo Possebon, the 19 year-old Brazilian was signed in January and he really does look the part. I'd go as far as saying that I haven't personally seen a better midfield prospect at United since Paul Scholes emerged - though they are not similar in playing style. Rodrigo, is taller than Scholes, he's quicker over five yards and has an excellent range of passing and he can score goals too. Very much like Scholes though, I'm not sure about his ability to tackle.

Apparenly Rodrigo speaks English well and he has an Italian passport. Do not be surprised if you hear a lot more about Rodrigo Possebon over the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

United set to switch targets after Levy's 'brinksmanship' backfires?

According to the latest transfer speculation United could be about to drop their reported interest in Dimitar Berbatov due to his club Spurs slapping a £38m price tag on the player's head.

The Bulgarian has been at the centre of a public spat between Ferguson and Daniel Levy the Spurs chairman who has verbally attacked the United manager following some quotes in the press about the Reds' reported interest in acquiring the striker.

Then over the weekend dubious media reports surfaced suggesting that both AC Milan and Barcelona are would be bidders for Berbatov, but now it's claimed that there's no serious interest apart from that of the Red Devils, which turned out to be a likely, if predictable, scenario that I'd put forward. Friday's view of the situation

In making this spat public, Levy appears to have made a huge miscalculation because again as I predicted on Friday, United could be about to drop their interest in the Bulgarian and instead they could make a move for Roque Santa Cruz.

Over the last few weeks there's been a number of stories which have suggested that it was only a matter of time before Bulgarian signed for United. The origin of these said reports is presumably at the centre of Levy's case against the Champions on this issue, which he presented to the Premier League recently. Whatever the outcome of Levy's accusations, Berbatov may well be unsettled - again this is a claim which is being made by Levy, but nonethelesss it's quite difficult to see how Levy's brinksmanship is going to pan out.

Let us not forget that Berbatov turned down United before he signed for Spurs and reading between the lines the main reason he wants out now is to be more successful, which is presumably why he wants to join the Champions.

Spurs will hopefully come to their collective senses and realise that it's a case of now or never, because they stand lose out on a potential £10m-£14m profit. If Berbatov isn't sold to United this summer he will turn out to be a depreciating asset, which is why I'm sticking to my prediction that sense will prevail and the Bulgarian will eventually sign for United, be it soon or next summer.

United have had enough of Levy's brinksmanship

Saturday, July 26, 2008

United to pay silly money for Tevez...

Here we go again it looks like United could be set to pay silly money to sign a player, this time it's Carlos Tevez. If we are believe what the papers are saying the Reds may have to break the British transfer record to sign the Argentine on a permanent basis, the talk is of a £32m deal. Which is totally ridiculous if true.

If United did not agree to pay this staggering fee, no way would any other club come even close to matching £32m. United have a history acting silly with the cheque book.

We signed Veron for £28.1m from Lazio when there was no other serious bidders, to compound matters United also gave the Roman club our centre half and they didn't pay us a penny for over two years - this after United paid cash for Veron.

We broke the world record transfer fee for a defender for Rio Ferdinand when Leeds were on the financial knees and heading for administration - we could have surely signed him for a lot less.

United and their negotiators only have themselves to blame when agents of the selling club takes advantage of the Reds' generosity - it you act daft with the cheque book then you cannot complain when others take advantage of you.

The fact the Reds are to complete this permanent siging is good news for the club and the player though, money issues aside that is. The size of the reported Tevez fee may well explain why United have not made any other moves in the market. I actually posted some weeks back that we shouldn't be surprised if Tevez is the only big deal this summer. Make no mistake though, if Ferguson does not sign a new striker following our Champions and Premier League glory he will be livid. On top of that IF and it's a big IF Ronaldo is sold, then do not be surprised if Fergie quits this summer, again I have been punting this line for several weeks and hold firm with that view.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Capello embarrasses FA over pension top-up plan...

It's no use pretending, Fabio Capello is here primarily for one thing and that is to top up his pension plan which is what I posted when he was first appointed by the hapless FA. Earlier today it was revealed that the Italian had let it slip that the 2010 World Cup would be his last tournament, not surprisingly and in response the FA issued what amounted to a damage limitation statement which will be seen for what it is.

Few if any fans will blame Capello for his stance, the England job is easy money, it's a bloody good earner, it's a chance to earn a few million quid for managing an average international team for a handful of games each year.

However, while we can agree that this is a very good deal for the Italian, on more than one occasion he has mentioned the lack of English players in the Premier League, he says it is only 35%, whereas in Serie A it's more like 72% where Italian players are concerned.

The thing is this, Capello was aware of this imbalance before he took the job - if he had serious reservations about the lack of English players before he took the job, then why did he accept it? By harping on about the lack of English players, it could be argued that Capello is making excuses in anticipation of failure.

It is to be hoped that some good will come out of Capello's griping - it won't be another World Cup win for England that much is for certain. This is not a popular view, but I personally believe the FA, UEFA and FIFA need to do something to restrict the numbers of overseas stars in the Premier League. Every English team should have a minimum of four to five English players.

United set to move for Santa Cruz?...

There's been a lot speculation linking the Champions to Dimitar Berbatov, much of it has centred on the likely fee, that was until Spurs chairman Daniel Levy reported Fergie and United to the Premier League for attempting to unsettle their leading striker.

Levy called Ferguson a hypocrite when making comparisons to stories linking Ronaldo to Madrid - in truth it's a poor comparison as United have been subjected to a media barrage of daily stories claiming that it's only a matter to time before the Portuguese star joins the Spanish club, but the United manager was quoted in the press saying that he believed Berbatov will sign for the Reds. Ferguson has hinted that he did not give those quotes to the media. Whatever the truth behind Ferguson's quotes Levy has gone off on one and it remains to be seen if Spurs will decide to sell.

Perhaps now is the right time for United to drop their interest in Berbatov, because there are some nagging doubts about his suitability for the Champions. For one thing, rumour has it that the Bulgarian sulks if things are not going his way and he's not exactly blessed with blistering pace. It isn't all bad though as the Spurs striker is brilliant on the ball.

However, with Levy throwing his toys out of his pram it could give United cause to review their target list and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we start reading more stories linking United to Blackburn's Roque Santa Cruz over the next few days. If nothing else it might make Spurs realise that United are not willing to budge on the transfer fee for Berbatov.

For the record, my money is still on the Reds capturing Berbatov this summer, but don't rule out a very early arrival for Santa at Old Trafford.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

United's 'top target' to be sold 'on the cheap'?

According to The Sun, AC Milan and Barcelona could be offered Dimitar Berbatov for a 'knockdown' £25m. This because Spurs are reportedly unhappy about United's apparent interest and presumably their unwillingness to be held to ransom for the Bulgarian, it's been reported that the North London club are holding out for £30m for a player who we are told they do not want to lose.

I personally cannot see Barcelona or AC Milan paying anywhere near £25m for Berbatov, I'm actually less than convinced there's any firm interest from either club, the Sun's story contains no quotes and it smacks of transfer mischief-making.

My money is still firmly on the Bulgarian becoming a United star this summer for not more than £24m.

Fergie's striker promise conundrum...

It might well be the summer but nonetheless the Reds continue to dominate the sports headlines, today like just about every other day over the last few months, there's plenty to talk about with reference to all things United. Here's a brief summary of the news so far:

Real Madrid's Guti became the latest beckon of light to suggest that Ronaldo moving to his club would be a good idea - he would say that wouldn't he? Somewhat bizarrely, Carlos Tevez pushed his head and his luck above the parapet when appearing to agree that Ronaldo should be allowed to join the Spanish club when saying "every player wants to play for Madrid" - this is not the time for this kind of honesty Carlos. Hopefully, sooner or later the penny will drop with Madrid and they will realise that their tireless pursuit of Ronaldo is over, at least for this summer at any rate.

Paul Scholes has hinted that he has two more playing years left at United; the Ginger prince has also let it be known that immediately after the Moscow Champions League Final was won he commiserated with just about every Chelsea player. Unlike his manager Scholes believes that Chelsea will be United's nearest challengers in the coming season - privately Fergie will be thinking the same, but he of course enjoys prodding our rivals with a sharp stick. Earlier in the week Fergie questioned how long Chelsea's ageing squad could go on, Scolari didn't respond, but no doubting Mourinho would have questioned the age of Fergie, Giggs, Scholes and Van der Sar.

On the subject of age, Fergie has also been talking about the sacrifice that Rooney has made for the team when hinting that the England striker's role needs to be more clearly defined - given all that United achieved last season on the pitch, it raises the question exactly why Fergie felt it necessary to even mention this. We are left to assume that Rooney has voiced his concerns about this so called "sacrifice", possibly following calls from Capello to increase his goal tally, or could it be that Rooney has grown a little tired of being continually over-shadowed by Ronaldo?

Whatever the reasoning behind Fergie's public declaration of intent to define a clearer role for Rooney the simple truth of the matter is nothing is likely to change very much. The speculation is that United may well sign Berbatov and that the Bulgarian will be deployed as a lone striker - but that's only one of many options open to Fergie. The Reds may well end up failing to sign a new striker - if that is so and assuming we retain Ronaldo; Rooney will carry on sacrificing himself for the team. Rooney does some of his best work outside of the box, his link up play is second to none, so it actually beggars belief that Fergie is even talking about defining a clearer role for the former Everton star. My own view is Fergie is simply paying lip service to Rooney in a bid to quell some minor carping from the player who has been dubbed as Wazza.

Next season will be the same as the last, when the need arises Rooney will give his all for the team, that'll be up front, on the wing and in defence.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fergie reviews chopping list before summer cull...

So United are on tour in South Africa doing their bit to spread the gospel and expand the brand, last night they took on Orlando Pirates in Durban in a game that was at times fairly competitive due to several meaty challenges by the home team. Lee Martin scored a well taken goal to win the match in doing so propelling the Reds into Saturday's final of the Vodacom Challenge Cup where they will probably meet the Kaizer Chiefs who they drew with on Sunday in Cape Town.

Somewhat surprisingly it wasn't a full house in the Absa Stadium with tickets costing between £16 and £3, but those who were there appeared to enjoy the occasion, at least it looked that way via Tinker Telly aka Setanta Sports.

Despite the usual accusations that United are trying to cash-in on these money making summer tours, they do actually serve some purpose as its apart of the pre-season fitness build-up. This summer's tour of South Africa also gives Fergie one last chance to decide which youngsters should be retained and who should be sold on and thanks to the wonders of satellite TV the shop window is very much open for any would be bargain hunters looking to secure those unlucky enough to be deemed surplus to requirements.

Of the players on view last night Frazier Campbell is probably the one who is giving Fergie the most headaches, there's no doubt that the lad has bags of skill and pace to burn, but you do wonder if the manager is feeling some pressure to offload players from the Glazer family - especially given Fergie's insistence that Ronaldo is retained at all costs.

Jonny Evans is another who has shown a great deal of early promise, but I suspect he could be sold this summer along with Lee Martin and Chris Eagles. The trio are good enough to make a good living from the game, but whether that will be in the Premier League only time will tell.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The biggest transfer joke of the summer....(so far)

IF it wasn't for the ongoing Ronaldo to Madrid saga we United fans would be doubled up with laughter at Manchester City whose leadership is every bit as deluded as their supporter base in their collective belief that they really are a big club.

Thaksin Shinawatra had us rolling with laughter when it emerged that his lawyers recently tried to bribe three judges over his impending court case in Thailand, the case has become known as "pastrygate" this after £30,000 was given by way of a bribe to the court officials. The three lawyers have been sent to gaol.

Before "pastrygate" and to the bemusement of just about everyone Dr (arf) Thaksin sacked Sven after what many fans agreed was a reasonable first season and let's be honest, many City fans would settle for taking six points off United, but it didn't stop Shinawatra from swinging the axe. The appointment of Mark Hughes has been greeted with a predictable mixed reaction by City fans. Hughes carries the stigma of being a former United star and for some, it will be difficult to forget that, such is the depth of feeling towards all things United.

Level headed City fans are more opening minded about the appointment of the Welshman, but Hughes will have his work cut out to please the Citizens' and their tinpot dictator.

So what of City's transfer activity so far this summer, well they managed to retain Richard Dunne and that was "massive" for them, the signing of Brazilian Jo could turn out to be "massive" too. However, the biggest joke of the whole summer so far has been the misguided and very public pursuit of Ronaldinho who has agreed to join AC Milan.

The more clued up City fans will have known the Ronaldinho transfer was doomed from the very start, it had all the hallmarks of a club trying to big themselves up - it was a very cityesque thing to do. In trying to sign a player who was never coming, the Blues have left themselves open to allegations they were only on a mission to drive up season ticket sales, it was nothing more than a PR exercise that has resulted in the club looking once more like a laughing stock. And if this wasn't anything but a PR exercise than why was there any need for City executive Gary Cook to go so public about this transfer?

The BBC online sport website has today suggested that City have "lost out in the race" to sign the Brazilian, in truth the Blues were never in this race, they were a non-runner from the start.

Whether or not Hughes be able to transform City from serial under achievers to winners is a good question to ask, the odds must be stacked against that happening. Whatever happens on the pitch Shinawatra and & co are likely to keep us amused for a while longer. What price on City heading the table for the early weeks of the new season only for them to slowly drift into mid-table mediocrity?

Monday, July 14, 2008

"United fans" turning on Ronaldo is the last thing the club needs...

So then who will laugh the loudest when they hear about so called United supporters booing Ronaldo; City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool or Real Madrid fans?

Booing your own players was at one time a very Cityesque thing to do - no more. I always thought that United fans were above this level, seemingly not because according to today's news, it has been reported that some United supporters were singing anti-Ronaldo songs at a reserve game last night.

Those websites promoting selling the player need to take their share of the blame too for this reaction.

Here's a question for any numpties out there. Who knows best, Ferguson and the United players like Rio or the boo boys and **** stirring websites? Answers on a postcard...

Is Berbatov really worth £10m more than Samuel Eto'o?

Reports claim that United may well have agreed up to £24m for Dimitar Berbatov, who Spurs signed for just £10m. We have been told that it's a take it or leave it offer. Let us hope that is so because there's no justification for paying silly money for a striker who is seemingly only wanted by the Red Devils - there are no other serious bidders. United may well have been alerted to the news that Samuel Eto'o is reportedly available for just £15m. Like Berbatov, Eto'o comes with a certain amount of baggage, but for just £15m could Fergie be tempted?....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Is Berbatov really the right striker for United?

According the player's agent, Manchester United want to sign Dimitar Berbatov this summer, just like we reportedly wanted to sign him in 2006 before he moved to Spurs. So after two relatively successful seasons playing for the North London club, it seems that the Red Devils have rekindled their interest in the Bulgarian. It actually beggars belief that Berbatov chose Spurs over United, given Tottenham's lack of success over the last 20 years.

While there's question marks about the Bulgarian's choice of clubs, there's even more questions about his suitability to lead United's attack. Many observers say that he's more than a bit lazy, added to which there's been suggestions that he's prone to sulking - nothing particularly unique where footballers are concerned.

But what of his playing attributes, what exactly would Berbatov bring to the United squad that we don't already have? Certainly not pace - the Bulgarian would probably come third in a sprint with Rooney and Tevez. What Berbatov does well though is link the play around the penalty area, he's probably the best in the business in this respect, but Rooney also excels in this area.

When comparing United's existing strikers, Berbatov probably has more presence given his stature and he's certainly much more composed than Saha, for whom the exit door will surely beckon once the Bulgarian is signed.

Like Cantona before him Berbatov has that ability to find that killer pass, and like Eric he should thrive at Old Trafford, especially in the Premier League, but it will be interesting to see how well the Bulgarain does in Europe.

The only major stumbling block is the fee, quite why United should go beyond £20m is hard to justify, given that no other European club is likely to come anywhere near that valuation. Spurs, being Spurs will try to fleece the Reds and let us not forget them letting it be known via sources they'd have accepted a lot less for Carrick once the deal had been done for £18m....

Potential line-up and food for thought for Fergie on selection issues:

.................... Van der Sarr...............

Gary Neville (Brown).....Rio.....Vidic.......Evra

Ronaldo (Nani)...Hargreaves (Carrick).....Anderson (scholes)......Tevez (Giggs)

.............Berbatov (Manucho).......Rooney

That team has the potential to win the lot again next season.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

£30m transfer talk rages over top target...

Manchester United will no doubt be preparing to have their collective trousers pulled down by Spurs for the Reds top summer target Dimitar Berbatov. According to the latest news Fergie has sanctioned an opening bid of £20m, but Tottenham supremo Daniel Levy will demand at least £25m plus a player, or £30m cash. The North London club stand to make a £20m profit on the deal if it actually goes ahead. It's doubtful that Spurs manager Ramos will fancy being burdened with our very own one legged striker "Long John Silver" aka Louis Saha.

News of the proposed transfer comes as no surprise really, it's long been thought the Bulgarian would likely be the Reds only big signing this summer. Assuming that United are prepared to be shafted by Spurs over the fee I expect the deal to be pushed through. There shouldn't be any serious competition for Berbatov as the only other potential bidders are Liverpool but they appear to be cash-strapped.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The slow tick-tock of the transfer clock....

It's been a long wet summer so far for United fans with still no positive news on incoming transfers. But we are the lucky ones; we can at least bathe in the afterglow of becoming Premier League and Champions League winners - just think how it must be for Chelsea fans. They will in all probability lose their star men in Drogba, Lampard and possibly Essien too.

We have our own concerns over the "slave" that is Ronaldo. Word has it that Fergie has been practising his hairdryer technique in preparation for their first face to face meeting. It's unlikely to be a full on nose to nose frenzied attack, but Ronaldo is likely to suffer third degree burns from being singed round the edges by the man from Govan.

As for us Reds fans, many of us are still drunk following on from our end of season success both on the domestic and European front, our daily routines go something like this:

7am: Logged on: Still no news, but Scousers continue to be linked with sh*t players. It's nearly as good as United signing a great player - that is the knowledge that the Scouse barren run sans League title is likely to carry on for another season.

8am: Logged on again before heading to work: Morning updates claim that Ronaldo is going to join Real Madrid. A greasy slimeball from Real Madrid tells a well placed source that Ronaldo has in fact already signed.

11am coffee break: Went for a sh*t and read daily paper and according to reports Ronaldo says he agrees with Blatter that "modern day slavery" should be abolished.

1pm lunch, logged on again: Marca claim that Fergie is having servant quarters built at the bottom of his garden at his Wilmslow home.

3pm coffee break, logged on: Still no news on incoming deals, but Wenger has been linked into Max Mosely sex scandal with sensationalist reports claiming that the Frenchman played role of toe-sucking dominatrix.

7pm logged on after tea: Ramon Caldron tells Marca that he believes there's little chance of Ronaldo signing for Madrid this summer.

9pm nothing on TV so logged on again: Marca claim that not only has Ronaldo signed, but that he's already played three games for Madrid.

11pm Logged on before close of play: Reports claim that Robbie Fowler has signed for Blackburn but cannot believe this story hasn't come from Marca.

Hit the sheets and dream that United have signed a top striker.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ronaldo and Fletcher, to sell or not to sell, that is the question? And are the loonies taking over?

The funniest story I've heard of recently relates to the comedy store over at Eastlands and the ongoing saga of City's owner Thaksin "Frank" Shinawattra and "PastryGate" as the case has become known. Apparently three of Frank's lawyers have been sent to jail for trying to bribe three high court judges over the City owner's impending trial, the judges were given a cake-tin stuffed with £30,000 and told to "enjoy the contents"...

I mean how stupid can one be? Who would be daft enough to bribe three judges especially in such a cack-handed manner - and these lawyers were representing the City owner. You really could not make it up could you? No wonder John Wardle has resigned.

Then today I have learnt that some United fans are for retaining the services of Darren Fletcher who has been recently linked to Everton and at the same time the same supporters would sell Ronaldo to Real Madrid, this isn't quite on the level of "pastrygate", but what is? But nonetheless, I'm completely gobsmacked and baffled. We have the best player in the world in the form of Ronaldo, yet these fans would let him go and keep Fletcher who probably isn't even the best player in Scotland or United's reserves.

On the subject of lunacy, here's a question; Is Sepp Blatter the most war-mongering Swiss citizen ever? His nation have always steered clear of getting involved in fights, but unlike his fellow compatriots the FIFA chief seems to thrive on conflict. So it comes as no surprise that Blatter has waded into the war of words between Manchester United and Real Madrid over the future of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The FIFA chief used the term "slave" when referring to the likes of Ronaldo and his contract with the champions. Given that Ronaldo is one of the highest paid players in the world the term slave seems wholly inappropriate and that is putting it mildly.

Not surprisingly, United have responded to Blatter's unwelcome intervention stating clearly that all contracts are signed with the agreement of all parties. Further to which if players can walk out on contracts at any stage - which is what Blatter seems to be implying, there will be complete anarchy - it would be a recipe for disaster. FIFA recently introduced new rules which stipulate when players can buy-out their own contracts, all of which has already been agreed by the clubs and Ronaldo signed his last contract under those rules.

Blatter would be best advised to keep his thoughts to himself on the Ronaldo situation, his job as head of the world governing body should be to ensure structures are in place to deal with such issues, he clearly shouldn't be seen to be favouring one side or the other in a player tug-of-war such as the Ronaldo situation, but he chooses to do so and so he is perceived as a maverick headline grabbing opportunist who treats FIFA as his own personal fiefdom.

On the futures of Ronaldo and Fletcher, I'd like to know how many Reds fans would sell Ronaldo and at the same time retain Fletcher...their cannot be that many surely? Otherwise the world has surely gone completely utterly mad and the loonies are indeed taking over.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Huntelaar - all that glitters is not gold?...

So why is it that despite Klaas-Jan Huntelaar being linked to any number of clubs and his fawning come and get me to plea Real Madrid recently no one has so far made a move to sign him? No one that we know of at any rate, because for all we know negotiations could be ongoing without the unwelcome full glare of the media, which if so, is no bad thing.

It's not the first time that I have posted on the subject of Huntelaar, I was recently listening to Frans Thijssen the former Ipswich Town star who spoke in less than glowing terms about the ability of his fellow compatriot, in his considered opinion the young Dutch striker isn't that quick or alarms bells have been ringing ever since if I'm honest regarding the prospect of the player arriving at United this summer.

Huntelaar's club Ajax also failed to qualify for European football next season which is damning considering the size of the club and some of that must reflect on their strikers. The Ajax star was only a bit part player in Euro 2008 too.

The fact that no big Italian or Spanish clubs look to be interested in signing Huntelaar doesn't necessarily mean he's a bad player - because it was exactly the same with Van Nistelrooy as United were the only serious bidders. Nonetheless, I have a concern that Huntelaar could turn out to be a case of all that glitters is not gold.

Has Fergie really snubbed Ronaldo following ankle op?

No surprise to learn that Marca, the unofficial **** stirring press organ of Real Madrid are today reporting that Fergie hasn't contacted Ronaldo following his recent ankle operation.

The claim is that the relationship between player and manager is now frosty. If this story came from another source it might be more credible and of course Real Madrid would love it to be true, wouldn't they? And in any case, how would Marca know if Fergie has spoken to Ronlado or failing that has at least tried to call him as he reportedly did to no avail during Euro 2008?

You can say many things about Ferguson, but stupid he is not, not at least where the future of his star player is concerned. Privately, Fergie will no doubt be livid with Ronaldo given his lack of commitment to United over the last few weeks, but make no mistake the manager realises that retaining Ronaldo is key to the Reds chances of winning more silerware in what will likely be his last season in charge of the Red Devils.

For the sake of keeping up appearances whatever Fergie thinks of Ronaldo, we are unlikely to find out until he publishes another book, until that time it is likely that Ronlado will be welcomed back into the United squad with open arms.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Unlucky number seven for desperate Real Madrid?

The tiresome Ronaldo saga rumbles on with the player undergoing surgery on his ankle today with reports suggesting that he could be out of action for up to six weeks, this on the very day that Real Madrid's unofficial press organ Marca predicted that Ronaldo would become their player. It hasn't happened and it seems unlikely that it will happen this summer with United refusing to (publicly at any rate) admit there's any chance of Ronaldo being allowed to join the Spanish club.

Ramón Calderón, the Real Madrid president tried to mount a brown-nosing charm offensive at the weekend when claiming that Manchester are "friends" of Madrid. Oh really? No surprise that the forgetful one never mentioned the fact that the Reds have reported Real to FIFA for alleged tapping.

The Spanish club have been stirring it nicely from the sidelines, though they have by and large been quite clever when allowing the press to do their bidding for them. Clearly this strategy has failed, because Calderón is now publicly being quoted on the matter, today he has told United that they should be proud that Real want our star player. Does Ramón Calderón realise how dumb this sounds? It's a bit like lobbing a hand-grenade into your neighbour’s garden and then shouting over the garden fence "we are still your friends".

It sounds like Ramón Calderón has become desperate to capture Ronaldo this summer, his club have been sending out very clear messages of intent to their supporters, hinting that it was only a matter of time before the player signed. However, it is looking increasingly likely that Calderón's clumsy big-footed attempts to walk all over United have failed, hence his stupid comments today.

Ramón Calderón and his god awful club need to understand that United are a massive club who do not take kindly to their star players being poached. There is a way of doing things, but as Fergie said recently, Real believe that they can ride roughshod over all. Let us hope that in this case it turns out to be unlucky number seven for Real Madrid and that Ronaldo reaffirms his commitment to United soon.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Queiroz the panto villain set for stage door exit...

According to reports United are about to lose Carlos Queiroz to the Portugal national team, the club's loss is being described by some in the media as a devastating blow. Yet it was the very same media who often blamed the former Real Madrid coach for what was perceived as the Reds negative 4-5-1 tactics. Further to which it wasn't that long ago that 'senior players' were said to have misgivings about his tactics and that 'Fergie has given Queiroz too much power - he is running the show'. Then we were told that Fergie had decided to rest back control of training and tactics from our very own pantomime villain in a bid to bring back order and United's attacking style.

Not that long ago I personally spoke to someone from within the inner sanctum of Old Trafford affairs about the influence of Queiroz. I asked if it was true Queiroz was really disliked by the players and what was his opinion of the man, I was given a "no comment - and that response should speak volumes". You can read into that reply what you will, but it wasn't a denial or a glowing tribute to the man. Unlike many stories you will read in the media, this one is actually true.

So what exactly is the truth behind the influence of Queiroz? My own view is that he has been harshly viewed by many supporters, whenever things went wrong he was to blame and not Fergie - which to me was always a bit bizarre. The manager picks the team, his ass is on the line, and he should always carry the can when it goes wrong.

Whatever Queiroz did behind the scenes he could not win and even this week some reports have suggested "he knows he will never be given the United job - that is why he will quit". Here again, the media are trying to set the agenda, how do they know who will be appointed as Fergie's replacement?

Whether or not Queiroz believed he would ever become the next United manager doesn't really matter, it sounds like he will soon be history.

In some ways the Queiroz departure will make it easier for any new managerial regime when Fergie does go and the club will receive compensation into the bargain.

No one is sure when exactly Fergie will go, my own view remains the same as it was a few weeks ago, it could even happen this summer, but that is looking increasingly unlikely, there has been suggestions that he could walk out if Ronaldo is sold behind his back. That scenario is also looking unlikely.

What's more we wont have to worry about Big Phil bending Ronaldo's ear about joining Madrid...quite the reverse.

Losing Queiroz is a blow because he has undoubtedly helped with key signings who speak his native tongue and it is to be hoped that the club learn from this. If United are to tap into the finest that Europe has to offer, then we need to have the right people in place who have knowledge, skill sets and contacts. No disrespect, but Brian McClair does not come into that category really - what has he done to deserve such an important and potentially wide ranging role? McClair has already been given another very important job, that of running the kids side of things - and here's the thing, a former local parky is doing a much better job over at Man City...

Only Fergie knows the true value of the work done by Queiroz, but we the fans know is that the United manager is still no tactical genius and this coming season he wont have the luxury of having a panto villain alongside him for everyone else to blame.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Reds transfer raid reports off the mark?

Let's face it other than the "will they wont they" talk surrounding the future of Ronaldo, it's been a very quiet summer so far for United supporters. The hope is that Fergie brings in another top striker and possibly a right-back too.

If worst case Ronaldo is sold - which depending on what hour of day it is and who you believe, it is beginning to look unlikely - then the Reds might have to also find another attacking midfield player, but we all know replacing a megastar is never easy and Ronaldo is the so called best player in the world. As ever, the media have been playing their rather tiresome guessing games when coming up with the usual array of potential transfer targets, one such name is Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Bayern Munich star.

To coin a phrase, the Schweinsteiger link never had any legs. For some reason, German stars tend to stay in Germany, that is apart from the odd notable exceptions like Ballack and Klinsmann before him (Lehmann doesn't count as a star, does he?). Personally, I'd be amazed if this particular Bayern star arrived at Old Trafford this summer, it was in my humble opinion a none story from the beginning.

So who exactly will Fergie buy this summer? Well, he's already strongly hinted that it's likely there'll only be one big deal and that will probably be the addition of Dimitar Berbatov, which if true wont be a bad piece of business, that is providing Ronaldo stays along with the permanent signing of Tevez, it will have been a decent summer.

Personally, I will be delighted if the Reds stick two fingers up to Real Madrid over their clumsy and badly handled pursuit of Ronaldo.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Madrid preparing to hoist white flag of surrender over Ronaldo?

According to Marca - Real Madrid's unofficial press organ - the Spanish club will announce the signing of Ronaldo on July 7th, which is just four days away. If that is so, then things will have to move on rapidly as United's position has not changed. The player is not for sale.

However, today comes the news that any deal could be scuppered if the player needs an ankle operation. However, any surgery is unlikely to keep Ronaldo out of action for long - if this was a serious injury, then he wouldn't have been able to take part in Euro 2008 and there's been no great rush to sort out the injury. It cannot be that serious. So why exactly is it that several reports are today claiming that the deal could be off? It couldn't be the case that Real Madrid are preparing the groundwork for a hasty retreat, realising that all their scheming and undermining will come to nothing could it?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fergie eyeing Colombia's finest?

Reports in Spain are claiming that United and Real Madrid could be locked in a battle to sign River Plate's brilliant young striker Radamel Falcao Garcia, 22. According to the player's agent, Nestor Sivori, the Champions of Europe and Real want to sign the player: "He is being followed by both clubs".

AC Milan are believed to have had a 15 million Euro bid turned down recently, a number of other clubs have been linked including Aston Villa.

Falcao Garcia scored 11 goals for River Plate last season from 27 appearanaces, but at only 5ft 9" United fans will wonder if the Colombian can bring anything new to the squad given that he will be another diddyman striker along with Rooney and Tevez.

Dimitar Berbatov remains the firm favourite to arrive at Old Traffford this summer, but Spurs are reportedly holding out for £30m, which if met will see the North London club trousering a cool £20m profit.

Fergie has also made it clear it's likely that there will be only one big signing this summer. We are left to assume that does not include the permanent transfer of Carlos Tevez, a deal that is expected to be concluded in the next few days.