Month July 2011

Month July 2011

Macheda double may not save Reds place

Ed July 15, 2011 Tags: Opinion 12 comments

Federico Macheda admitted, after his smartly taken double against New England Revolution on Wednesday night, that he is glad to be back at Manchester United. The 19-year-old Italian striker suffered a nightmare goalless loan spell at Sampdoria last season in which i Blucerchiati was relegated from Serie A in the most traumatic circumstances. Yet for the all the teenager’s promise his has been a frustrating fledgling United career; one that may well not take off this season given the competition in Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad.

Aside from doubts about Macheda’s raw ability at the top-level – a perceived lack of pace has not been resolved – and the youth’s immaturity as professional, Macheda is at best fifth choice for the coming season. After all, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez are now established as Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice strike pairing, with the Scot likely to use Dimitar Berbatov in rotation and Michael Owen as an impact substitute. Indeed, Owen has claimed that Ferguson will deploy the 31-year-old former Liverpool player more often in the coming campaign.

It is a level of competition that leaves Macheda fighting with returnees Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf for a place in Ferguson’s planning this season. That all three left on loan only to return in exactly the same squad position says much for the wealth of options that Ferguson now possesses at Old Trafford.

Should United fail to secure at least one high-profile central midfielder this summer, Ferguson is also likely to pack midfield next season – as the Scot often did away from home last campaign – in the knowledge that it is by far the Reds’ weakest part of the team.

Still, Macheda says he has learned much from his chastening experience in Italy – a move the Italian had pushed for and must now live to regret – and realises that the grass is rarely greener away from Manchester.

“I am very happy because I had a difficult six months,” admitted the former Lazio player, who scored no goals in 16 appearances on loan last season.

“I am not scarred by it. You learn a lot from bad experiences. I couldn’t wait to get back here from Italy, even though it is my own country. There is a different mentality in Italy. They don’t see young players like they do in England. They don’t. I grew up as a man. I have another mentality now. When you leave Manchester United, go somewhere else and come back, you realise just how different it all is. It is better to work really hard and I hope to stay here.”

Yet Macheda faces the very real prospect of intermittent appearances in cup competitions followed by lengthy spells in United’s reserve side if he remains at Old Trafford. Ferguson has seemingly told Welbeck that the 20-year-old England player will be a member of United’s squad for the forthcoming season despite Sunderland’s continued interest.

Diouf meanwhile, following an almost equally disastrous loan spell at Blackburn Rovers last season, will be sold if there are any takers. Inconsistency may well leave the Senegalese striker in the same position as Gabriel Obertan; on the fringes and unlikely to ever get a lengthy run in Ferguson’s side.

If the choice comes down to Welbeck and Macheda for a fifth spot in Ferguson’s striking roster this season then it is no easy one for the Scot to make. Each of his young strikers offers much. After all Welbeck had an excellent start to the last campaign with Sunderland, only for injury to break the striker’s rhythm. Six goals in 26 appearances tells only part of Welbeck’s campaign on Wearside, in which he started many games wide left for Steve Bruce’s outfit.

Yet it is Macheda who has the real eye for goal, evidenced by the Italian’s smart double against Revolution at Foxborough’s outstanding Gillette stadium on Wednesday. If Ferguson retains Welbeck it will be for the youngster’s flexibility; yet it is Macheda that offers the match-winning eye for goal.

The question now is whether the kid, who burst onto the scene with a dramatic winner against Aston Villa at Old Trafford two years ago, can rescue his United career. Others – in particular Giuseppe Rossi and Gerard Pique – have gone on to build outstanding careers despite promising starts at Old Trafford that failed to materialise into a starting place. This fact points to a move away if Macheda is to progress in the coming year.

Indeed, even if the youngster continues to find the net in pre-season Macheda will find himself on the outside come the start of the Premier League season in around a month’s time. Much as the Italian has now realised, as many do, that life is far from rosy away from the Old Trafford family the brave decision may be to push for a loan move away.

This time, however, Macheda will achieve much by remaining in England, as Ferguson had pushed the youngster to do last January. In the winter window West Bromwich Albion failed to solidify an initial interest in taking the player on loan amid reports that the youngster had pushed hard for a return to Italy. It’s a mistake that the newly mature Macheda is unlikely to make again.

“Macheda’s finishes were first class,” said United manager Ferguson after Macheda’s strikes against Revolution.

“He is special. At 19 years of age, we still have great hopes for him.”

It is now up to the player to take his chance.

Wasters FC

Ed July 13, 2011 Tags: Just for fun 21 comments

Kieron Dyer’s imminent transfer to Queens Park Rangers suggests a question: has there ever been a player who has taken so much out of football but given so little back? Dyer, reportedly earning £83,000 per week at West Ham United, has played just 30 games in four years at Upton Park. He cost the Londoners an extra £500,000 per year in ‘image rights’ on top of a £6 million transfer fee.

In this spirit Rant has put together Wasters FC. An outfit not of the worst players in the history of football but those who took so much, with so little in return.

Contributions from: @brannigan84 @Fino76 @Jebbster1975 and many others.

Wasters FC – Owner: Malcom Glazer. Chair: Sepp Blatter. Manager: Brian Little

Stuart Taylor, Goalkeeper: Taylor, the standard-bearer for reserve goalkeeping – has played just 69 league games since turning pro in 1997.

Marco Boogers, right-back: so depressed after being sent off for West Ham against Manchester United that Boogers disappeared for two days leading to the now infamous Sun headline: “Barmy Boogers Living In A Caravan”.

Jonathan Woodgate, centre-back: perennially injured, cumulative transfer fees of £30 million, wages in excess of £80,000, and just 120 games in the past eight years.

Winston Bogaarde, centre-back: sat out a four-year, £40,000 per week, contract at Chelsea, playing just nine games in the process.

Asier del Horno, left-back: £7 million transfer fee brought him to Chelsea, 25 failed games later and the Spaniard was sent home. Last seen at lowly Levante.

Andy van der Meyde, right-wing: sent off on début and that was about as good as it got for the Dutchman, who played just 20 games in four years for Everton.

Tomas Brolin, centre midfield: retired aged just 29 having last played for Hudiksvalls but it is the three horrendous years at Leeds United that the podgy Swede is best ‘remembered’ for in England.

Kieron Dyer, centre midfield (c): see above!

Paolo Future, left-wing: played 60 games for seven clubs after leaving Atletico Madrid in 1993, including a disastrous spell at West Ham in 1997. Nine games, no goals and few fans.

Freddy Adu, striker: better than George Best, quicker than Pélé, more skillfull than Diego Maradona… older than Nelson Mandela … and last seen playing for Çaykur Rizespor in the Turkish second division. Still made millions from Nike sponsorship.

Denílson de Oliveira Araújo, striker: once the world’s most expensive player. Last three clubs: AO Kavala, Xi Măng Hải Phòng, Itumbiara. No Rant hadn’t heard of them either.

Bench: Chris Kirkland, Alfonso Alves, Harry Kewell, Steve Marlet, Jody Morris, Franny Jeffers, Hugo Viana, Sergei Rebrov, Bosko Balaban …. and so many more!

Pressure now on Hernández to deliver

Dan Bowman July 13, 2011 Tags: , Opinion 3 comments

While the focus of Manchester United’s summer for many supporters has been the search for the ‘new’ Paul Scholes, Wayne Rooney’s hairline or even how to pronounce David de Gea, for Javier Hernández it may well be how to match or improve on a fantastic début season at Old Trafford.

The Mexican, who scored 20 goals in 45 games last season, arrived with little expectation but announced himself on the biggest stage with a fortuitous goal against Chelsea in the Community Shield. The goal proved a sign of a season to come.

Yet, after the bright start Hernández – Chicharito – struggles with the Premier League’s physicality, especially in United’s disappointing 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage. It said much for the player’s quality and determination to improve that Hernández reassured Ferguson with a magnificent finish away from home against Valencia to seal an unconvincing win in September.

Arguably, however, the real turning point in Hernández’ season was the fantastic double against Stoke City at the Britannia in October.

“There was a game that really made me realise that I could have an interesting season. It was the match against Stoke City in which I scored twice,” concluded the 22-year old striker in May.

“Throughout the match, I felt perfectly at ease in the game. I felt like I had been playing for Manchester United for 10 years. Thanks to my team-mates, I could express myself freely on the pitch. I think it was the pivotal game in my season. I will remember it all my life.”

From a position of strength the Mexican dislodged top scorer Dimitar Berbatov in Sir Alex Ferguson’s starting eleven and scored vital goals in both league and cup competitions. In total the 20 goals allowed Hernández to  join the great Ruud van Nistlerooy in reaching the landmark in his first season at Old Trafford. van Nistelrooy went on to score 150 goals in 200 starts for United.

The immediate challenge for Hernández is to overcome the real risk of burnout so early in his career. Chicharito has been subjected to a grueling summer after a first physical season in England. First the late finish to the campaign against Barcelona at Wembley and then a highly successful Gold Cup campaign with Mexico, in which Hernández netted seven times in six games.

The striker stood out throughout the competition, despite the arguably poor quality of opposition. In the process Hernández won player of the tournament; an outstanding accolade regardless of the competition.

Ferguson will be thankful that Chicharito was left out of Mexico’s calamitous Copa America for a fear of burnout. The Mexican football association is equally protective of its star asset. The extended break afforded to the player before he joins his club compatriots in the USA for their summer is also welcome. Ferguson is no doubt extremely hesitant to overuse the nimble Mexican on this media exercise.

The scene is set for Hernández to carry his impressive summer form into the new season, although Ferguson has a plethora of options available to allow the Mexican ample time recover full fitness.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle for Chicharito to now overcome is the clichéd ‘second season syndrome’ – other players have broken in to United’s first team only to fade away.

In fact Hernández could find no greater motivation than in the squad itself, with Michael Owen, once the darling of world football, now little more than Old Trafford squad filler aged just 31 Old Trafford. Hernández has a similar playing style to a young Owen – a game built on playing off the last shoulder of the last defender, matched with deadly pace. Perhaps Ferguson’s real love for Owen is to school Hernández in the fine art of finishing.

Regardless of that particular theory, the coming season remains the biggest test of Hernández’ resolve to date. Teams across the continent will have improved their understanding of United’s potent striker.

“I do not rest on my laurels. I want to do even better next season. I want to help this club to make history,” added Hernández after collecting the Supporters’ Player of the Season award in May.

Ferguson and the supporters can only hope his game has improved too.

Sneijder on the cards as the ‘V’ word comes into focus

Ed July 12, 2011 Tags: , , , Opinion 40 comments

What defines value? A simple noun that has become a pseudonym for the Glazer era at Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson’s protestation over the past two summers – since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure to Real Madrid in 2009 – centred on the word. Value, said the Scot, was absent from the transfer market. Value, he insisted, is the United way. Forget the six occasions on which United had broken the British transfer record; value was now the sole moniker with which the Reds approached the market.

Supporters cried foul of course. Value has always had that ephemeral quality. Here in Javier Hernández, Mesut Özil, Rafael van der Vaart – Sneijder himself – Nurin Sahin and many others. Gone, some might say, in a half-a-dozen ringers brought to Eastlands, and Fernando Torres acquired so expensively by Chelsea. Add Andy Carroll, Bébé and £18.5 million Stuart Downing to that list.

What then to make of United’s apparent £35 million offer for Wesley Sneijder, the brilliant Dutchman employed by Internazionale. He is, after all, a player who led Inter to a famous treble 12 months ago and Holland to the World Cup final. For the quality Sneijder possesses the Dutchman is, arguably, cheap at the price.

Yet there is something unsettling too, exciting though the potential transfer is. Why, if Sneijder is the player so admired by Ferguson, did United not acquire the 27-year-old when he left Real Madrid just two years ago? Hungrier, younger, more dynamic in 2009; one wonders whether Sneijder is the same player after a relatively mediocre season with Inter over the past year. This question is especially pertinent given Inter paid around £20 million  less for the player.

Of course, Ferguson retained Paul Scholes in his squad over the past two years. Yet, the now retired Scholes has not started 30 Premier League games for the Scot in six years.

Ferguson did not mention Sneijder in a remarkably open press conference in Boston last night but the heavy recognition of United’s requirement for quality laced the Scot’s comments. In the midst of a youth-driven evolution of United’s squad, value, it seems may be cast aside.

“We try to look ahead, we try to make sure we have an influx of young players coming through to replace the older players,” said Ferguson.

“We’ve been well aware of the need to replace Ryan Giggs. And with Gary Neville , Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar leaving, we were well aware that we were going to have to replace them at some point.

“So the work we’ve done in the last few years has been centred around that. The big problem, of course, is how do you replace somebody like Paul Scholes?  It’s very, very difficult. If you bracket four of the best midfield players in the world, Scholes would be there along with Xavi and Iniesta.

“How will we overcome it? Maybe the next few weeks will help us in that respect. As they often do at Manchester United, maybe somebody will emerge out of the youth team or one of the young players emerges. It would be impossible to get another Paul Scholes, but if we can get a player along similar lines in terms of the quality of his passing and vision, then yes we’d have to do something.”

If that fourth player in Ferguson’s quartet of midfield quality is indeed Sneijder the acquisition will transform United’s midfield. The party now touring the United States includes just Anderson and Michael Carrick as recognised central midfielders, with Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverley providing potential support.

Yet the economics are truly eye-watering on any deal to bring Sneijder to Old Trafford; a point fans might do well to remember until the Dutchman is sitting beside a beaming David Gill, signature pen in hand. The £35 million transfer fee will be augmented by a salary not less than £200,000 per week, or £10.4 million per year.

Even if United knock Sneijder down to those wages it will represent a significant pay cut for the player and a total investment of more than £80 million over a five-year contract with the club. With Sneijder 32 at the contract’s end, and therefore commanding little resale fee, one wonders where the deal sits in Ferguson’s characterisation of value.

Indeed, United’s decision to pursue multiple targets this summer is unlikely to have ended, despite Ferguson’s apparent admission that Samir Nasri has slipped through the Scot’s fingers. Label it ‘mind games’ perhaps, but Ferguson’s assertion that Arsene Wenger is “brave” to make Nasri wait out the final year on the Frenchman’s contract is more than a little cheeky.

“I don’t think he’s coming to United. That’s all I can tell you. I think he’s agreed to go somewhere else,” added the Scot.

“Maybe he has to stay at Arsenal, also. That’s a possibility. That’s a decision [Wenger] has made. If he stands by that decision it’s a brave one. I’m not sure the Arsenal directors will enjoy that one, but it’s possible.”

United had remained confident of luring the Frenchman to Old Trafford up to and beyond faxing a £20 million bid to Arsenal three weeks ago. This for a player available for nothing in 12 months time. Some reports even suggested that the club is countenancing acquiring both Sneijder and Nasri this summer.

It’s a proposition that brings the question right back to the issue of value and what it means.

United Rant on the net

Ed July 11, 2011 Tags: , , Shorts 2 comments

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Poll: Nasri or Sneijder?

Ed July 10, 2011 Tags: , , Polls 60 comments

Question most Manchester United supporters and the majority will say that the club’s priority this summer is to acquire a top-class creative central midfielder. With Anderson having failed to blossom into the attacking talent once displayed at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup and Darron Gibson never good enough to make it at Old Trafford many pundits claim that Sir Alex Ferguson will spend this summer. It’s a feeling strengthened by Paul Scholes’ expected retirement and move into coaching.

However, Ferguson’s reported first choice Luka Modric of Tottenham Hotspur will not be allowed to leave White Hart Lane this summer. Could Arsenal’s Samir Nasri or Wesley Sneijder of Internazionale be the cherry on top of the icing on a decent transfer window for United to date? Neither will come cheap, in terms of transfer fee or wages, but each has the quality to improve United’s central midfield in the coming season. Only time and the Glazer family’s desire to spend millions of their hard pilfered cash will tell.

But which of the pair would you, the fans, prefer to grace Old Trafford next season? To aid the decision here are some  facts, as Rafael Benítez might add.

Samir Nasri

Age – 24
Fee – c£25 million
Wage – £120,000 per week
Total financial commitment (five years) – £56.2 million

2010/11 statistics (all club competitions):
Games – 50
Goals – 17
Assists – 4
Shots – 108
On goal – 50
Pass completion – 88 per cent

Wesley Sneijder

Age – 27
Fee – c£35 million
Wage – £250,000 per week
Total financial commitment (five years) – £100 million

2010/11 statistics (all club competitions):
Games – 38
Goals – 7
Assists – 7
Shots – 148
On goal – 44
Pass completion – 85 per cent

Poll: Nasri or Sneijder?

View Results

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Reds go west for fitness and fame

Ed July 8, 2011 Tags: , , Opinion 5 comments

Manchester United’s players head to the United States on Monday, with five matches in five cities over three weeks ahead before the squad returns at the end of July. In between Sir Alex Ferguson’s players will build fitness at Nike HQ and join sponsors in a rash of commercial events across the continent. As ever the search to ‘break America’ continues as football’s popularity grows in the land of Gridiron.

In part the tour is serious preparation; United will meet increasingly difficult opposition, while spending a week training Nike’s superb centre in Beaverton, Oregon. The campus will be familiar to Wayne Rooney at least, who spent a week away from prying eyes last November recuperating from injury, and escaping the tabloids as the fall-out from the player’s October Revolution and Hookergate continued.

Indeed, facilities right across the US are routinely praised by Ferguson; it’s a far cry from the days when the player’s return to United’s old training ground The Cliff overweight and the off-season meant two extra days drinking. The squad then toured Scandinavia before rounding off pre-season with a couple of random home friendlies against lower-league opposition.

No longer and Ferguson’s players will have been rigorously tested at Carrington this week for fitness levels and body fat, among a lengthy check-list of key indicators drawn up by the club’s backroom staff.

“I’ve got to say football has moved on from the point where you’re going on country runs. You can extract the same amount of fitness from short football sessions, particularly when they’re more football-related,” former United player Gary Neville told FourFourTwo.

“You find now that flogging players on long runs, those old days are gone. In terms of being a football player, it’s more suited and something that is better for the player. Times move on. I wish I was in the peak of my career but my time has gone. At the end of the day, I wish I was there in some ways but, with the current state of my body, I’m glad I’m not!”

Aside from fitness pre-season tours are increasingly used by Ferguson to assess the developer of the club’s younger players. Although none of last season’s FA Youth Cup winning side will join the tour this time round, plenty of fringe reserve players will. Danny Welbeck, returned from Sunderland and Tom Cleverley, who spent last season at Wigan Athletic, will both feature prominently in the US. It is also possible that Reserve Player of the Year Oliver Gill, Robbie Brady, and Oliver Norwood will also feature Stateside.

“The tour always provides some of the younger players with a chance to impress,” says Jonny Evans, who will himself want to impress after falling down the pecking order at Old Trafford.

“My brother Corry got the opportunity to go last year, as did a few of the other younger lads, and it gave them a lot of confidence for the new season. We all really enjoyed the tour last year and it’ll be good to go back again.”

Interest will also be high in United’s summer acquisitions, with Ashley Young joining the tour from the start. The £15 million winger will benefit from Antonio Valencia’s absence at Copa America and a chance to establish his presence in Ferguson’s first-team thinking. Young will also discover, perhaps for the first time, just how widespread United’s support has become in the US.

However, Ferguson’s other multi-million buys, Phil Jones and David de Gea, who each played in this summer’s Euro Under-21 tournament in Denmark, have been given an extra week off by Ferguson and may join the party in Oregon next Thursday. de Gea’s absence may offer Danish goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard an opportunity, with Tomasz Kuszczak likely to leave the club this summer.

Before United land at Nike World Campus Ferguson’s squad opens the tour with a fixture in the Boston suburbs against New England Revolution. The 68,000 capacity Gillette Stadium, located 25 miles from downtown Boston, is also home to the New England Patriots American football side in the winter.

Further fixtures against MLS sides Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire follow as United cross-cross the country, racking up more than 8,000 air miles in the US alone. United end the tour first in New Jersey, facing the MLS All-Stars for a second summer in a row, before a reunion with Barcelona in Washington at the 91,000 capacity FedEx Field stadium, home to the Washington RedSkins.

Yet games are only a part of the tour, which is likely to generate around £5 million in revenues for the club. Sponsor-led events are planned in many of the squad’s stops, including Chicago: home of AON. The Glazer family will no doubt note, in the week that Manchester City ‘sold’ naming rights to Eastlands for hundreds of millions, that four of the five stadiums in which United play bare sponsors’ names.

Manchester United announced its provisional travel roster for their five-game tour of the United States, including their match against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, July 13.

A few players, including Mexican international Javier Hernandez, will join the club in the United States during the tour after their agreed leave time.

Squad

GOALKEEPERS: Ben Amos, David de Gea*, Sam Johnston, Anders Lindegaard

DEFENDERS: Fabio Da Silva, Rafael Da Silva, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones*, Chris Smalling*, Nemanja Vidic

MIDFIELDERS: Anderson, Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley*, Ryan Giggs, Nani, Gabriel Obertan, Ji-Sung Park

FORWARDS: Dimitar Berbatov, Mame Biram Diouf, Javier Hernandez*, Federico Macheda, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck*, Ashley Young

* Player will join tour late

13 July: New England Revolution, Gillette Stadium, Boston, Massachusetts

Gillette Stadium, Boston

20 July: Seattle Sounders, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington

CenturyLink Field

23 July: Chicago Fire, Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois

SoldierField, Chicago

27 July: MLS All-Stars, Red Bull Arena, Hamilton, New Jersey

Red Bull Arena, Harrison New Jersey

30 July: Barcelona, FedEx Field, Washington, DC

FedEx Field, Washington

Farewell to old Reds

Ed July 7, 2011 Tags: , , Opinion 28 comments

Wesley Brown and John O’Shea each agreed moves to Sunderland on Thursday, ending more than a decade of the pair at Old Trafford. Between them the players have appeared on more than 750 occasions for Manchester United, not representing the very best players at Old Trafford, but invaluable members of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad nonetheless. With the pair’s departure Ferguson loses not only experience and loyalty but a genuine sense of what being a United play entails.

Brown, 31, completed a medical at the Stadium of Light on Thursday and has agreed a four-year with Steve Bruce’s Wearsiders. The fee, which is officially ‘undisclosed’, will net United £1 million for youth team product. Meanwhile, O’Shea, 30, also completed a move to Sunderland, having passed a medical and agreed a four-year contract with the club. United will earn a fee of around £5 million for the Waterford-born Irishman.

Each has lost his place in the United first team – some might say neither ever fully earned it – with Brown falling out of favour following a well-publicised argument with Ferguson during last summer’s tour of North America. Few players have ever returned from falling foul of the Scot’s ire; that Brown reportedly called Ferguson a “c*nt” cannot have helped the Longsight-born player’s cause.

Despite the breakdown in the relationship between player and manager Ferguson was magnanimous with his praise of Brown today, praising the 31-year-old’s commitment to the cause since his début in 1998.

“He was a product of the youth system and marked himself out from an early age as one of his generation’s most natural defenders,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.

“In his time with us, he certainly became a favourite with the fans for his no-nonsense approach to the game and his infectious personality.

“It’s always the hardest of decisions to let loyal servants go. But life moves on and, unquestionably, Wes will get the chance to make a real contribution to Steve Bruce’s Sunderland and I’m delighted to be passing him into such good hands. Everyone connected with United wishes him a long and happy stay at Sunderland.”

Brown has always been one of the most naturally gifted English defenders; a home-made Rio Ferdinand whose talent was only ever limited by injury. It is no disservice to say that had it not been for one of the game’s most lengthy injury records Brown could have amassed more than a century of caps for England, and not just 23. He would surely have also made more than 500 appearances for United bar for frequent trips to the treatment room.

The player earned rave reviews for early appearances at right-back, including the 6-2 thrashing of Brondby in Copenhagen during the treble-winning season, but it was at centre-half that the defender was at his natural best, offering the Reds acceleration over 20 yards, a fearless competitive streak and perfect timing.

“It was disappointing not to have played as much as I could at Manchester United over the last couple of seasons so just to know that I’ll be back in, playing, I’m focusing on that really and looking forward to it,” said Brown.

“Last season, I couldn’t get into the team and that was frustrating but that’s football and you move on. Sunderland is a big club and Steve Bruce was a big factor coming into it. That’s what it came down to really. When I was younger, I used to watch Steve and I’ve known him a bit as well so it was fine. I know a couple of lads who have been here and they say it’s a wonderful club and I thought this was the place for me to come.”

Brown will join former Reds Phil Bardsley, Kieron Richardson and Fraizer Campbell on Wearside, together with O’Shea. United midfielder Darron Gibson is also wanted by Bruce, although Sunderland baulked at the midfielder’s opening salary demands during negotiations. Together the trio were the subject of a £12 million bid in late June.

Meanwhile, O’Shea arguably has never possessed the same natural talent as Brown but won over United’s supporters with a vibrant début campaign, largely at left-back. The popular chant of “Johnny marching down the wing” began during O’Shea’s early years at the club that promised so much but rarely delivered in subsequent campaigns.

O’Shea’s versatility undermined his attempt to earn a regular first-team place, while also offering the Irishman a longevity at Old Trafford that bemused many fans. The player appeared across the back-four, in central midfield and even in goal during more than a decade at the club.

“John has been a solid, consistent part of Manchester United’s squad for well over a decade which goes to show the fantastic pedigree of player we have signed,” claimed Bruce on Thursday.

“He is a wonderful professional both on and off the field and his wealth of experience and versatility will be great attributes for us. I’m delighted with the players we’ve been able to secure ahead of the new season.”

Allowing Brown and O’Shea to move on for relatively modest fees is part of an unwritten Old Trafford policy of rewarding loyalty with minimal barriers for the players involved. The reward: long-term security at Sunderland that would not have been available at Old Trafford.

Supporters and ex-colleagues will wish the pair the best, while room has been made in Ferguson’s squad for younger players to come through.

MUST / Reds in Business summer meet-up

Ed July 7, 2011 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Reds in Business (RiB), the business network exclusively for Manchester United supporters, is holding a summer event at Lancashire County Cricket Club, Friday 15 July. The event will bring together fans for the Lancs versus Northamptonshire day/night 20 Twenty fixture at Old Trafford Cricket Ground and Rant can offer readers 50 per cent off the normal hospitality package.

RiB, fronted by MUST CEO Duncan Drasdo, is a free network for United supporters to facilitate  fun and rewarding business relationships. The summer meet-up, with exclusive use of LCCC’s Trafford Suite with private, is a chance for RiB (and MUST) members to build potential business network contacts but mainly just for fun with fellow Reds.

Lancs normally charge £60 for this hospitality package but Rant readers can get a discounted rate of £30 using this code: RIBT20RANT

For more event information, including details of the package, and to book tickets: http://ribsummer2011.eventbrite.com

Adiós Carlos: Tevez in numbers

Ed July 6, 2011 Tags: Just for fun 20 comments

Carlos Tevez has, for the second time in six months, demanded a move away from Manchester City. In December the pint-sized striker blamed the poor relationship with club management; yesterday the 27-year-old has begged to be closer to his family. Cynics might claim the lure of another signing on fee is strong in the scar-faced one. Rant couldn’t possibly comment.

Carlos Tevez in numbers