Author kari-anne

Author kari-anne

The accused

Kari-Anne Reynolds August 24, 2009 Tags: , , Opinion 9 comments

In the euphoric midst of United’s demolition of Wigan on Saturday, fans could be forgiven for failing to notice the director’s box at the DW stadium. There, sat behind United director Sir Bobby Charlton, were several United players. They say a picture paints a thousand words and the image of Michael Carrick, Ji-Sung Park and Oliveira Anderson in their club suits spoke volumes. The three players, who were once considered vital members of United’s first team squad, looked isolated and anxious. Defendants soon to enter the dock might be an apt analogy for the three, who have caused so much debate amongst United fans. How has it come to this? It’s time to take a closer look at the alleged crimes of those now known as ‘the accused’.

Michael Carrick: accused of being an overpriced and inadequate replacement for Roy Keane, his arrival caused much disquiet amongst the United faithful. However, Carrick formed a formidable partnership with Paul Scholes, leading United to a ninth Premier League title in 2007. Carrick’s supporters will also point to last season’s match against Inter Milan as a true reflection of the player’s quality. But it’s a worry that all of the doubts harboured about Carrick when he first signed for the club remain three years on. Here are the charges:

  • Failure to exert any authority even against mediocre opposition (evidence: Burnley away). Few United fans would expect Carrick to routinely dominate against top teams like Chelsea but after three years there has been no improvement in Carrick’s ability to dictate the flow of games
  • Lack of leadership. Carrick is the last person the team can look to for inspiration
  • Lack of goals. He has never scored more than four Premier League goals. In comparison to his English peers such as Lampard and Gerrard, it’s embarrassing.

Ji-Sung Park: few United fans had heard of the South Korean prior to his move to United from PSV Eindhoven in 2005. There was even the suspicion that the player was bought solely to sell shirts in Asia. Four years on and here are the charges:

  • Offers United nothing but work-rate. Park seems incapable of consistently putting in the excellent performances of the standard seen in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona the season before last
  • Lack of goals. Three goals over the last two seasons is not good enough.

Oliveira Anderson: during his first season at the club United fans saw the Brazilian as a potential successor to Paul Scholes. Remember the player’s duels with Gerard and Fabregas the season before last? But Anderson’s development has not gone to plan. He’s clearly very talented but after two years the former Porto midfielder has made limited progress. Here are the charges:

  • Lack of goals. There was hope in Munich but it’s fading fast
  • Lack of fitness. How many games has Anderson looked exhausted after an hour?
  • Poor positioning, movement, and decision making.

The accusation: each is guilty as charged. The verdict: United’s judge, jury and executioner Sir Alex Ferguson holds the answer.

Comfort blankets

Kari-Anne Reynolds August 21, 2009 Tags: Opinion 3 comments

It’s been 45 hours 36 minutes and counting since the smackdown at Turf Moor. Fans may hope to wake up, discovering that Manchester United did not lose to Burnley; that this defeat is as true as a FSW facht. Alas, the bad dream seems to be reality. So what can supporters do to make the pain go away? Reach for the comfort blanket and here are six to keep you going fellow reds:

  • If Fletcher (formerly known only as the Scottish Player) had played, United would not have lost to Burnley because he is the team’s new midfield general. This now familiar refrain seems to have been formulated during the red invasion of Rome last May. But for all Fletcher ‘s improvement, he has never scored more than three goals during a Premier League campaign. Would the Scot really have been able to change the game at Turf Moor? Fletcher is a player who has improved dramatically but a matchwinner is not a label that suits him.
  • If Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were playing, United would not have conceded at Turf Moor. This may be true. Rio and Vidic have formed on the best defensive partnerships in the Premier League but isn’t it somewhat soul destroying that that United can’t win without them?
  • Once Owen Hargreaves is fit, United’s midfield will be unbreakable. We all want to be millionaires but what are the odds?
  • If Antonio Valencia and Dimitar Berbatov had started, United would have won the match. Valencia and Berbatov both started against Birmingham and though United won, neither player produced a performance that set the heart racing When the pair came on as substitutes against Burnley, there was the hope that one of them would produce something magical. But in the fans’ hearts few would have believed they were capable of turning things around. And they were right.
  • Michael Owen will score goals. It used to be a commentators cliché to repeat the argument each time Owen failed to make the England team. United fans must have chuckled at their active imaginations. Now, the Old Trafford terraces recite the same words. It’s not working.
  • Don’t worry, United will buy Silva/De Rossi/Van de Vaart/Sneijder/Ribery/Aguero. Our collective inner transfer muppet yearns for this quick fix, no matter what the cost. So what if the club is £700 million in debt, United need a match winner right now! Then the truth hits like a dagger to the heart; the manager is tight and the club doesn’t buy players over 25 anymore.

And just when the despair becomes overwhelming, hear that faint whisper in the air and close your eyes. It’s the spirit of the Busy Babes. ‘Do not be afraid, we’ve been through worse and triumphed in the end.’ This is United, the most successful team in England. It survived Munich. It’s manager has won 11 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and two Champions Leagues. As comfort blankets go, it doesn’t get better than that.