Month August 2010

Month August 2010

Window shuts with Reds still short

August 31, 2010 Tags: , Opinion 52 comments

The transfer window has shut after one of the quietest periods in recent memory, with Manchester United’s activity symptomatic of the Premier League. Yet, United’s investment is also increasingly emblematic of the Glazer family’s ownership of the ‘world’s biggest club’. It’s a strategy that has left United short of quality both domestically and in Europe.

Indeed, United will exit the transfer window with just 24 players, including perennially injured Owen Hargreaves, on the Premier and Champions League ‘A’ list, supplemented by a further 10 players on the ‘B’ list. The ‘B’ list can be expanded at any point, with unlimited players under the age of 21 from United’s reserve and youth teams permitted.

This was, according to Sir Alex Ferguson and his immediate boss chief executive David Gill, to be the season of youth, with United’s academy produce supplemented by acquisitions Chris Smalling, Javier Hernández and Bebé at a cost of just under £25 million.

Early season fixtures have clarified the position: this is, in fact, to be the season of enduring experience, with hope that United’s younger acquisitions from abroad will develop at a more rapid pace than, say, Zoran Tošić and Ben Foster, discarded from the squad this summer.

The investment strategy, dictated by the owners’ increasingly strained financial position and the pressing need to pay down debt, essentially leaves the club with the same squad as last season, Hernández being the player closest to regular first team action of the new acquisitions.

United, of course, went close last season, taking Chelsea to within a point of the Premier League title. Yet inconsistency in the team’s performances were exposed in seven domestic league defeats and an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of arch rivals Leeds United. The Carling Cup was of little consolation.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of United’s campaign – certainly for Ferguson – was the club’s exit at the quarter final stage of the Champions League. The Scot has now, with more than a hint of revisionism, blamed the defeat on bad luck, while ignoring Bayern Munich’s outstanding first leg performance and stirring late Old Trafford comeback.

Ferguson, the realpolitik pragmatist, is hardly likely to say anything else, especially armed with the knowledge that investment will not match United’s spending of previous eras when the Scot broke the British transfer record on five separate occasions.

Thus the Scot dismissed fears of financial hardship, declaring the market to hold no value, while telling fans, with more than a hint of condescension, that they didn’t really want a big name signing anyway.

It’s a claim that both ignores the team’s immediate needs, assuming the goal is to compete on four fronts, and the market dynamics this summer where value is in fact to be found everywhere.

In terms of United’s squad, the most glaring omission is in central midfield where weight of numbers hardly compensates for the fact that Paul Scholes has still not been replaced. The midfielder’s early season form will not mask this reality when the Champions League begins in mid-September and Scholes must rest.

United, as Ferguson has already noted, is short of goals from central midfield and will operate without an attacking midfielder playmaker in either 4-4-2 or 4-3-2-1 formations that the Scot is likely to deploy this season.

Ferguson needs Anderson to discover his fitness and best form quickly. It’s almost two years since the Brazilian could claim to own both. The Scot must also draw Michael Carrick out of the year-long slump that has robbed the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder of far too many key assets.

Then there is the Hargreaves question. The player will surely never play for the club again, leaving Darren Fletcher as the club’s only genuine tough-tackling defensive midfielder. Suspension, injury and burnout hold a constant fear.

United has acquired defensive cover in a sensible move by Ferguson, whose side suffered in that department at times last season. Smalling though is no experienced campaigner, leaving United’s manager reliant on Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic’s fitness remaining on a more even keel than at any time in the last 18 months.

Up front Ferguson has an embarrassment of riches, assuming Rooney rediscovers his fitness and form permanently. Hernández’ acqusition will, hopefully, reduce the burden on United’s talisman.

Michael Owen will rightfully be restricted to a bit part role, while Dimitar Berbatov’s early season promises much. But few supporters will now count on the Bulgarian to maintain it throughout the season.

In wide areas Nani and Antonio Valencia – eventually in the Portuguese winger’s case – boasted outstanding seasons last time out. Each will offer an attacking threat from wide that is equal to almost anything on the continent. The replacements, Ryan Giggs, Ji-Sung Park and Gabriel Obertan offer adequate cover.

Yet Ferguson enters the season with more questions hanging over his squad than is comfortable. Certainly more than at the height of United’s success.

Hope, they say, is no kind of strategy.

What may save the club’s season, at least domestically, is the failure of United’s rivals to improve key areas. Chelsea essentially replaced like-for-like in swapping Joe Cole for Yossi Benayoun, while Ramires will add much-needed quality at the base of Carlo Ancelotti’s three-man midfield. Perhaps the biggest victory for the Italian is the return of the truly outstanding Michael Essien from injury.

Meanwhile, Arsenal has strengthened in central defence but failed to acquire a goalkeeper, which will surely cost Arsène Wenger points this season.

City, being City, will surely fall short of the Premier League title as £130 million worth of new acquisitions bed in.

In Europe though Barcelona has done outstanding business, replacing the ineffective Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the Spanish goal machine David Villa. Javier Mascherano is surely an upgrade on the hopelessly overrated Yaya Touré.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid has also found real value in recruiting the brilliant playmaker Mesut Özil, along with Sergio Canales and Sami Khedira for little more than €30 million.

The activity during the window points to a tight race domestically, where Chelsea must be considered favourites. A probable knock-out round exit awaits United in Europe.

For the owners that scenario remains economically acceptable. After all, United was the biggest grossing club in the Champions League last season despite the early exit and revenue is the Glazer family’s only concern.

Fans might just think differently come may.

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Cleverley completes Wigan move

August 31, 2010 Tags: , Shorts 21 comments

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has completed a move to Wigan Athletic on a season-long loan deal. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson had previously said that the midfielder, 21, is too good to loan out. However, Cleverley will now spend the next year at the DW Stadium under Latics manager Roberto Martinez’ guidance.

“Tom is a very exciting young player and we are delighted he his coming to us,” said Martinez.

“He can play in a number of positions and will provide us with some good new options, and add great competition to the squad.

“We have been watching him for some time and feel he is the right sort of player to join our squad; young, hungry, desperate to play for the club in the Premier League and to grow with us.”

However, the move comes as something of a surprise following Ferguson’s previous declaration that the midfielder would stay at Old Trafford this season.

“He is an exceptional young player in terms of his ability to play a variety of positions,” Ferguson said in early August.

“He is such a talent, we must keep him. He showed at Watford that he’s a goalscorer from midfield and we need that. He has outstanding qualities.”

However, Cleverley did not make the squad for United’s three Premier League fixtures to date despite performing brightly on the club’s pre-season tour to Canada, USA and Mexico. United also failed to secure another creative midfielder in the transfer window, although Anderson – 13 goals, one for United, in 155 career games – is due to return in late September.

Cleverley will join Wigan’s battle against relegation this season in preference to a move to Bolton Wanderers. While Owen Coyle was keen to bring the England Under-21 international to the Reebok, Wigan’s ability to offer Cleverley football every week appears to have been the deciding factor.

The player scored 11 goals in 33 matches for Watford last season.

W@nker of the Week: Stan Collymore

August 30, 2010 Tags: , Just for fun 32 comments

Talksport’s Stan Collymore, the former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool striker, has created a post-career reputation as a modern day ‘shock jock’ whose outspoken opinions influence the 1.7 per cent of radio listeners that tune into the station each week. Hardly new but this week the wife-beating dogger labelled Ryan Giggs a cheat.

Following Manchester United’s 3-0 victory over West Ham United on Saturday, in which Jonathan Spector clearly fouled Giggs for the penalty that enabled Wayne Rooney to break a 13 game goalscoring drought, Collymore made the accusation on his Talksport show.

During the match the Welshman cut inside former United player Spector, who dives in and takes the legs of the 36-year-old winger. Referee Mark Clattenburg had no hesitation in awarding the spot kick.

However Collymore disagreed with the referee, accusing Giggs of simulation.

“It’s [the Spector challenge] brushing somebody, now to brush somebody is one thing. To knock somebody over in mid-flow and therefore cause an infringement is another.

“If there’s a Manchester United fan who can honestly tell me that Ryan Giggs was impeded, and impeded sufficiently to knock him out of his stride…?” asked Collymore on his Saturday evening show.

“It wasn’t a penalty, I’m telling you [the challenge] didn’t [knock Giggs over], it wasn’t a penalty.”

“If we keep giving these soft penalties, players are going to keep doing it [diving], it becomes a snowball effect. It makes it more difficult on referees.

“Until [managers tell] players in the dressing rooms, ‘try and stay on your feet’, which they did in my day or ‘we’re going to punish you if you simulate’ [then] we’re going to keep slaughtering referees.

“For me [Giggs] went down too easily.”

Collymore, who repeatedly said throughout the show that Giggs deliberately fell to win the penalty, then goes on to praise a caller who claimed he always stayed on his feet when challenged.

“Good on you lad,” says Collymore

“I want to see you play for Manchester United, not Cristiano Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs.”

Aside from being patently untrue, Collymore’s accusation that Giggs cheated smacks of the bitterness the 39-year-old still feels over the mooted 1995 transfer from Forest to United. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson rejected the wife-beating sexual pervert in favour of Andy Cole, who went on to score 121 goals in 195 games for United.

The saying ‘those in glass houses…’ comes to mind, with Collymore admitting that he beat his then girlfriend Ulrika Jonnson during the 1998 World Cup in France. Perhaps Stan thought that was just good sport?

Later a tabloid newspaper caught Collymore practising the act of ‘dogging’ – performing sexual intercourse in a public area – which is almost certainly illegal indecent exposure under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.

Moreover, the label cheat is one that Collymore has trouble avoiding. The striker, for example, was sent off in 1997 for fighting with Andy Todd as Aston Villa met Bolton Wanderers. Hardly within the laws of the game.

The player frequently courted controversy during a career that never fullfilled its early promise. Indeed, ‘Stan the Man’ walked out on Spanish side Oviedo in 2001, let off a fire extinguisher at Leicester’s luxury La Manga hotel in 2000 from which they were thrown out, and started a fight with Paul Gascoigne during a reserve team fixture between Leicester and Everton the same year.

Perhaps Rant should have been more aware. Later, suggesting that Collymore might not be of the same species as the rest of us, Rant found itself at the centre of the Talksport host’s ire.

“I respect your right to suggest anything you like on football,” Collymore warned Rant.

“But I’d be careful who you call sub human pal. Really careful.”

Faith in youth

August 30, 2010 Tags: Opinion 27 comments

Four matches into the new season and a pattern, to some extent, has emerged in United’s selection and formation. This will, of course, change with the Champions League starting in mid-September but perhaps most startling, despite this summer’s proclamation to the contrary, is Sir Alex Ferguson’s lack of faith in youth to date.

This is not to say Manchester United’s younger first team squad members will not play more frequently as the season wears on. After all, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes cannot compete in the Saturday-Wednesday axis indefinitely. Indeed, last season Giggs started 23 matches in all competitions, Scholes 32, Edwin van der Sar 29, and Gary Neville just 25. None is likely to top that this campaign.

Of Ferguson’s young players – for the sake of argument let’s call first team squad members under the age of 23 ‘young’ – only Fábio da Silva (Community Shield) and Javier Hernández (Fulham) have started for United this season. Neither is expected to be a fixture in the first team just yet.

Jonny Evans, 22, has played in all four matches but with three seasons in the first team its hard to classify the Irishman as a youth.

Of the others Federico Macheda, Chris Smalling, Darron Gibson, Rafael da Silva, Gabriel Obertan, Tom Cleverley and Ben Amos have appeared for a total combined two substitute appearances in the first team this season. Anderson, injured, will not play again until late in September.

Meanwhile Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf have been shipped out on loan to Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers respectively, while Bebé is not expected to feature this side of Christmas, if at all this season.

The pattern was also prevalent in pre-season, with Giggs and Scholes appearing in a surprisingly large number of fixtures in Canada, USA and Mexico as United raked in more than $2 million per match held on tour.

Indeed, the average starting age of United’s team in the four competitive fixtures to date – including the Community Shield – is 28.6, only marginally younger than Chelsea’s pensioners at 28.9.

It is also perhaps surprising, given United’s relatively sedate fixture calendar this side of the international break, that Ferguson has not blooded more of his younger players of whom he spoke so passionately during the summer.

The intensity of United’s games increases markedly in late September, with the trip to Everton preceding emotionally draining matches against Rangers and Liverpool at Old Trafford in which senior players will surely dominate selection.

The strategy, then, is likely to include some of the squad’s younger players see game time in the autumn and winter months, with Ferguson almost certain to rely on experience as the Premier and Champions League reach their dénouement in the Spring.

However, the strategy with some younger players is also confusing. Cleverley’s mooted loan – all but guaranteed as pre-season begun, then ditched as United failed to secure an additional attacking midfielder in the transfer market – is now back on again.

The midfielder today confirmed a loan move to Wigan Athletic, where he’ll certainly play but faces a season-long relegation battle. However, the transfer leaves United overly reliant on Scholes’ continued brilliance and fitness as the club’s sole central midfield playmaker.

Then there is Rafael, whose relegation to the bench in favour of the experienced but essentially limited John O’Shea, 30, is a source of regret for the more romantic of United’s supporter base. After all, it’s hard to envisage Rafael turning genuine promise into fulfilled talent of the very highest order from the seclusion of United’s reserves.

Finally, Macheda, retained despite loan interest from home and abroad, has failed to make even the bench for United’s three Premier League fixtures to date. In his third season with the first team squad, it will surely be impossible for United to retain the Italian’s services next season if he cannot secure 20 matches this campaign.

This is an observation, rather than a criticism. Ferguson, the most pragmatic of managers, is liable to pick whatever side is likely to benefit the club’s cause in only the short to season-long term.

The question is whether the Scot can fulfil United’s many ambitions this season while – as the Scot puts it – ensuring the club’s younger players do not “stagnate” and evntually leave. The fate of Giuseppe Rossi and Gerard Pique looms large.

As yet, it is not at all clear that the two strategies are not mutually exclusive.

Slick Reds ease to West Ham win

August 29, 2010 Tags: , Matches 6 comments

Wayne Rooney scored as Manchester United cruised to victory over relegation-threatened West Ham United at Old Trafford with a vibrant performance. After the disappointing draw with Fulham last weekend, United regained momentum in a Premier League title race that is already beginning to take a familiar shape.

The weight finally lifted and fitness levels creeping towards a sharpness not seen before his injury against Bayern Munich in March, Rooney can now enjoy a new level of freedom from press scrutiny. For the time being at least.

After all, Rooney has traditionally scored in bursts, and with the drought counting now ended, the Scouser is now liberated to fire United towards a strong start to the season.

While United’s talisman opened the Reds account from the spot, Sir Alex Ferguson reserved special praise for Dimitar Berbatov and Paul Scholes, outstanding against Avram Grant’s side, alongside the lively Nani.

“Dimitar and Paul Scholes orchestrated that victory,” added Ferguson, whose side remain unbeaten this season.

“They deserved their standing ovation and Dimitar’s goal was excellent.

“You have to win your home games and we are back on track after dropping those two points at Fulham last week.

“It is too early to say what formation the league is taking at present but the usual suspects are up there.”

Yet the game threatened to fall as flat as the Old Trafford atmosphere in the first half, with United’s possession not converted into goals in front of the Stretford End.

Grant’s side, hardly obdurate in the opening games of the season, demonstrated much of the fight it will need to avoid the drop come May. Rob Green, the much derided now former-England goalkeeper, Matthew Upson and Danny Gabbidon did much to keep United’s attack at bay.

As the half wore on Scholes, the returning Ryan Giggs and Nani on the right wing exerted ever greater influence on the match though. Indeed, shortly after Nani had hit the bar, Scholes found Giggs on the left, with the Welshman far too good for former United player Jonathan Spector, who gave away the spot kick. Rooney duly converted on the half hour.

The Reds doubled the advantage minutes into the second half as Old Trafford finally warmed to the occasion if not the weather. Nani started and finished a smart move, smashing a left foot shot past Green into the top corner. The goal had all the hallmarks of Cristiano Ronaldo; the heir apparent now firmly crowned.

Then the dénouement as Nani beat two West Ham defenders before teeing up Berbatov to score with an acrobatic finish. The Bulgarian, still not without his frustrations, has outshone his strike partner in the early season matches.

“Strikers want to score, but it is Wayne’s performance that we should be talking about,” added Ferguson.

“He was full of life and energy. He worked his socks off. He needs games but the 90 minutes will bring him on.”

“I thought his overall game was much better, he looked a lot stronger and we look forward to him playing for England now and coming back fitter,” added assistant manager Mike Phelan.

West Ham meanwhile remain rooted to the foot of the table having lost its opening three matches. With games against Chelsea, Stoke City away and Tottenham Hotspur coming up there was more than a touch of gallows humour about the travelling support.

They’ll need it.

United, on the other hand, head into the international break with the mood lifted after the recriminations of last week’s draw. Tougher tests lie ahead, of course, not least an away trip to Goodison Park, followed by Rangers and Liverpool at Old Trafford after the break.

Rooney, fit and now scoring goals, will at last relish the upcoming matches.

Match facts

United: van der Sar; O’Shea, Vidic, Evans (Smalling, 74), Evra; Nani, Scholes (Carrick, 74), Fletcher, Giggs; Berbatov (Owen, 74), Rooney.

Man-of-the-match: Dimitar Berbatov
Attendance: 75,061

Possession: United 54% – 46% West Ham
Attempts: 11 – 7
On target: 7 – 2
Corners: 8 – 2
Fouls: 3 – 5

Reds look to hammer OT visitors

August 28, 2010 Tags: , Matches 99 comments

Old Trafford expects its second victory of the season, with West Ham United in town for this afternoon’s late kick off. The Hammers, beaten twice already, conceding six goals in the process, look prime candidates for relegation, with manager Avram Grant admitting his team is suffering from “a lot of psychology problems” early in the season.

United’s principal selection choice surrounds in-form Paul Scholes who could be rested for the tie. Although with the international break coming up, the ginger midfielder can take a well-earned rest after the Hammers’ visit. Ferguson could draft in Michael Carrick or Ryan Giggs to central midfield alongside Darren Fletcher.

Wayne Rooney, now recovered from the stomach bug that kept the striker out of United’s disappointing draw with Fulham last weekend, will partner Dimitar Berbatov in attack, while Nani should return to the starting line-up in place of Ji-Sung Park.

Ferguson, uncharacteristically critical of his team following last Sunday’s draw with Fulham, is seeking an improvement in both performance and fitness, with several key players close to a return.

“Things are looking up here,” the manager told the press on Friday.

“Rio Ferdinand has trained this week, which was a big surprise to me. He’s made fantastic progress. Anderson is training with the first team and he had a bit of a reserve game of course on Tuesday so that’s really good news.

“We’ve got no injuries from last week’s game. Wayne Rooney has trained all week and he’s back.”

“We’ve always had really good games against West Ham and we expect that again. Obviously we were really disappointed with last Sunday, throwing away two points like that.

“Its uncharacteristic but its early season and I do think some of the players needed the game, the second half of the game dropped. We think they’ll be much better tomorrow.”

However, Ferguson is likely concerned about the form of his central defenders, with Jonny Evans given a particularly hard game by Fulham’s Bobby Zamora. The young Irishman found himself the wrong side for Fulham’s first equaliser and was unable to deal with Zamora’s physical game.

Good news then that Ferdinand is perhaps only two weeks from full fitness having trained with the first team squad this week. Although not able to feature against West Ham, the defender’s progress is speedier than anticipated.

“I must admit he hadn’t done anything football wise when we spoke last week,” added Ferguson.

“Maybe when he read what I said it gave him a bit of a kick. He’s come in and trained all week. He’ll train with the reserves today, and won’t be involved tomorrow [against West Ham] but we’ll try and get him a game in the next two weeks.”

Unsurprisingly Ferdinand’s defensive partner Nemanja Vidic is delighted with the England captain’s imminent return, with the pair having played so few games together over the past year. While Ferdinand has suffered with back, groin and knee problems, Vidic spent much of last season on the sidelines with a mystery nerve complaint.

However, the Serbian has no concerns about adapting to the old partnership when Ferdinand returns after the international break.

“We’ve played alongside each other for over four and a half years so it’s easy to play together, even when you’ve been out for a while,” stand-in captain Vidic told ManUtd.com

“We’ve shown over the years that, as a partnership, we have a good relationship, but we obviously need to reach the right form and you need to play every week to get that. Hopefully we can.”

It’s no concern for today’s game of course, although Evans’ performance will be under ever greater scrutiny.

West Ham travel north having made its worst ever start to a Premier League campaign, with captain Scott Parker admitting he is “dreading” the thought of the trip to Old Trafford. The Hammers play Chelsea, Stoke away and Tottenham Hotspur next, facing the very real prospect of beginning the season with six defeats.

Grant travels without injured quartet Jack Collison, Zavon Hines, Peter Kurucz and Thomas Hitzlsperger.

Opposition
Team – 451 – Green; Reid, Gabbidon, Upson, Ilunga; Faubert, Parker, Noble, Kovac, Dyer; Cole. Subs from – Barrera, Piquionne, Sears, Stech, Tomkins, Boa Morte, McCarthy, Ben Haim, Spector, Da Costa, Stanislas, Daprelà, Obinna, Nouble.

Officials
Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Assistant referees: Adam Watts & Martin Yerby
Fourth official: Michael Jones

Form
United – WWW
West Ham – LL

Fergie rails against media attacks

August 27, 2010 Tags: Opinion 8 comments

Sir Alex Ferguson has angrily criticised media reports that his surprise Portuguese signing Bebé has already disappointed Manchester United coaches. Several outlets have already dismissed the 20-year-old as a ‘flop’ after the winger was left out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reserve team squad in the past week.

Ferguson says the player is short of fitness, not ability.

Hardly news perhaps with Ferguson thoroughly enjoying a hate-hate relationship with the English media over the course of his 24 years at the Old Trafford helm, although the strength of the Scot’s defence may surprise some on Fleet Street.

In the past week the Guardian, among other media outlets, reported that coaches were disappointed with Bebé attitude in training, precipitating exclusion from the reserves’ Manchester Senior Cup tie with neighbours City.  This comes barely three weeks after the former Vitória de Guimarães player joined United in a £7.4 million deal.

Ferguson says reports are way off mark.

“Bebé is on a programme doing endurance work because his fitness levels are not near the ones we are at,” said the 69-year-old United manager.

“Other than that he has done well.

“I know he has had a couple of vicious attacks on him for why he wasn’t playing in the reserve game but he was never going to be playing on Tuesday. The boy did not deserve that.

“He is a young man trying to make his way in football. They didn’t need to do that. It was a really bitter attack. Ability-wise he is excellent. He is a terrific finisher.

“We have been very impressed with that. It is just the fitness levels he needs to get to.”

Ferguson has left himself open to criticism by signing – at great expense – a player who has never appeared in a senior match above Third Division level on the advice of scouts and not his own judgement of course. But the rush to print the hastily drafted knocking stories is premature, even for the nationals’ sports pages.

After all, the adjustment for a player not long out of amateur football, the streets and going nowhere fast, is likely longer than a superstar joining in a multi-million deal.

That is not to say Bebé will make it at Old Trafford of course, with evidence of the player’s ability scant at best, although better than anything Ferguson had seen before giving the green light to the deal.

Yet for all the jaded pages in the nation’s traditional media, this week’s criticism of Bebé is extreme and – perhaps ever more pertinent – based not on fact but wish-fulfilment. For journalists with little to write about despite the transfer market closing in four days, there is nothing better than a Ferguson-failure story.

The Daily Mail, which never one to let facts get in the way of a good story, called Bebé a “dud,” claiming that “dissenting voices will not be hushed until Bebe [sic] is seen scoring goals.”

Remarkably, after reporting “fans” as the source of apparent frustration with the player, the Mail failed to quote a single supporter in the piece. Not that anyone advocates Mail staff putting in a call to Rant Towers, mind you.

As for Ferguson, the Scot is unlikely to offer any bones to the media hordes any time soon. While the PR advice might be to become more open, stories such as those about Bebé this week make that prospect ever more distant.

The truth is this: Bebé may or may not make it at United. The transfer may indeed turn out one of the most expensive transfer mistakes of Ferguson’s career. There have been many.

It matters little at this stage though. After all Bebé has spent not a minute on the Old Trafford turf to date.

Rant Cast 37 – media war

August 27, 2010 Tags: Rant Cast 7 comments

In this episode of Rant Cast regulars Ed & Paul take a look back at the draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage. We preview the weekend’s fixture with West Ham United at Old Trafford and we discuss the Champions League draw. As usual, we digress – this time into the world of football versus the media and finish on some loan news for Tom Cleverley.

Stream this episode of the podcast using the player below or click here to download the podcast (right click & save as).

We welcome your input – send all feedback to cast@unitedrant.co.uk or comment below.

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