Author paul

Author paul

Rant Cast 213 – better to be lucky than good

December 9, 2014 Tags: Rant Cast 4 comments
featured image

This week on Rant Cast, Paul and Ed try and keep a straight face whilst discussing United’s convincing win over Southampton, and look back on a slightly better United performance against Stoke.

They discuss Marouane Fellaini in terms that will be more familiar to long-time listeners than the recent praise he’s received, resurrect the reverse-curse-of-the-Rantcast and veer off on a massive tangent about whether or not Wayne Rooney has fulfilled his potential.

Finally, Ed and Paul look forward to United absolutely smashing Liverpool at the weekend, take a load of listener questions, and run a competition to win a really, really lovely mug.


Stream this episode using the player below or listen on iTunes and leave us a review! The podcast RSS feed is available here.

Rant Cast is donationware! If you really love the pod you can always show your appreciation by making a small donation!

Hit us up with any feedback below or follow the pod on Twitter: Paul – @UtdRantCast, Ed – @UnitedRant, Tom – @Teejsound

Rant Cast is produced by Tom Jenkins at TEEJSOUND

Rant Cast 212 – Mauling the Tigers

December 1, 2014 Tags: Rant Cast 15 comments
featured image

This week, Ed and Paul look back on United’s stroll in the park at Old Trafford against Hull City. United completed dominated the game, which saw fine performances from, well, pretty much everyone.

They debate Van Gaal’s “Philosophy”, pragmatism, and the fundamental nature of faith, before taking listener questions and previewing the upcoming games against Stoke and Southamption, Can Mark Hughes’ side spring a surprise against United? Can Louis van Gaal’s side spring a surprise against Southampton?

All this, and probably some more, in this week’s Rant Cast.


Stream this episode using the player below or listen on iTunes and leave us a review! The podcast RSS feed is available here.

Rant Cast is donationware! If you really love the pod you can always show your appreciation by making a small donation!

Hit us up with any feedback below or follow the pod on Twitter: Paul – @UtdRantCast, Ed – @UnitedRant, Tom – @Teejsound

Rant Cast is produced by Tom Jenkins at TEEJSOUND

Rant Cast 192 – the kids are alright

May 9, 2014 Tags: Rant Cast 7 comments
featured image

On this week’s Rant Cast, Ed & Paul look back at the damp squib that was defeat to Sunderland and the testimonial-like victory over Hull City, which featured a couple of exciting début appearances. They also look forward to the season closer at Southampton, talk Ryan Giggs and Louis van Gaal, and do an extra large helping of your questions to make up for the lack listener input last week!

There’s also a brief chat about transfers, and an outline of plans for World Cup Rant Casts.

Also, make sure to stay tuned to the very end of the show to hear details of a contest to win a fantastic prize, courtesy of @TatianaMUFC.

Hit us up with any feedback below or follow the pod on Twitter: Paul – @UtdRantCast, Ed – @UnitedRant.

Rant Cast is donationware! If you really love the show you can always show your appreciation by making a small donation!

Stream this episode using the player below or listen on iTunes and leave us a review! The podcast RSS feed is available here.

Rant Cast is produced by Tom Jenkins, TEEJSOUND


Rantcast 188 – Moyes parks the bus

April 4, 2014 Tags: Rant Cast 19 comments
featured image

In what was ostensibly a good week for David Moyes, Ed & Paul contrive to record their most ‘Moyes-Out’ show yet. It was hard work ladies and gents, but somebody has to do it!

The show covers the win against Aston Villa at Old Trafford, and Manchester United’s brave, plucky, up and at ’em bus parking performances against Bayern Munich. Also on the pod: your twitter questions, a preview of the dead rubber against Newcastle United, and a look ahead to quite how bad the damage could get next week in Munich.

After last week’s overuse of the word “dichotomy,” the word of the week this time around is “conflate”.

Hit us up with any feedback below or follow the pod on Twitter: Paul – @UtdRantCast, Ed – @UnitedRant.

And if you really love the show, you can always help cover our rising bandwidth costs by making a small donation!

Stream this episode using the player below or listen on iTunes and leave us a review! The podcast RSS feed is available here.

Rant Cast is produced by Tom Jenkins, TEEJSOUND

Rantcast 187 – Aspiring to Football Weekly

March 28, 2014 Tags: Rant Cast 1 comment
featured image

Following the ray of hope that was the game against West Ham United, and the full blown downpour of dooooooom that was defeat to Manchester City, Ed and Paul cover all the stuff that matters in the world of Manchester United, provide some analysis, and ending up spending ages talking about ol’ David Moyesey.

With a preview of Aston Villa and United’s inevitably glorious win over Bayern Munich next week, and all of your twitter questions, this week’s podcast comes to you from opposite sides of the Atlantic. Which is still closer than Moyes and Giggsy sit to each other on the United bench.

Hit us up with any feedback below or follow the pod on Twitter: Paul – @UtdRantCast, Ed –@UnitedRant.

And if you really love the show, you can always help cover our rising bandwidth costs by making asmall donation!

Stream this episode using the player below or listen on iTunes and leave us a review! The podcast RSS feed is available here.

Rant Cast is produced by Tom Jenkins, TEEJSOUND

Rant Cast 185 – We’re gonna win the league

March 14, 2014 Tags: Rant Cast 4 comments
featured image

On this week’s show Ed & Paul look back on United’s triumphant victory over the might of West Bromwich Albion, compliment the genius of Marouane Fellaini and look forward to United lifting the title in May…

Or perhaps not.

There’s a look ahead to the games against Liverpool and Olympiakos, and chat about the investment made in Manchester United by Baron Capital. Finally, there are your twitter questions and all the news that’s fit to chat about on another episode of the Rant Cast.

Hit us up with any feedback below or follow the pod on Twitter: Paul – @UtdRantCast, Ed –@UnitedRant.

And if you really love the show, you can always help cover our rising bandwidth costs by making asmall donation!

Stream this episode using the player below or listen on iTunes and leave us a review! The podcast RSS feed is available here.

Rant Cast is produced by Tom Jenkins, TEEJSOUND

Review: “The Class of ’92”

November 27, 2013 Tags: Opinion 8 comments
featured image

It’s ridiculous, when you think about it. Six mates, two of them literal brothers, the rest of them brothers in all but blood are possessed of a profoundly driven will to win and a deep personal love of a football club. They learn their trade together, bonded forever by their experience, and then they set about winning absolutely everything. How appropriate, then, that the people behind the “The Class of ‘92” have set about making a cinematic documentary out of the story, given that it could so easily be the plot of a perfect Hollywood ‘sports’ movie.

We all know the story of the class of ’92, but we have never seen it told quite like this. We may have had front row seats as it unfolded, marvelling in their triumphs as they gave us most of the greatest moments (and unquestionably the single greatest of all of them) of our football supporting lives, but this is essentially a backstage pass – finally free of the media machine, the film shows them more relaxed than they have ever been allowed to be, in public.

I am deliberately avoiding sharing anecdotes from the film in this review, as for those of us who know every iota of the plot details already, the anecdotes are the draw, and what a draw they are. They are beautifully captured – one-to-one talking heads with each of the players, with some genuine personal moments, and quite a lot of what people mean when they say “banter” in a non-pejorative way.

The dinner table scene, returned to again and again as the story plays out is an absolute joy to behold. I think most of us know that Paul Scholes is secretly funny, and he really is, but Ryan Giggs steals the show. The devil might have all the best tunes, but the Red Devils have all the best lines.

When speaking with one of the Directors, Ben Turner, for this Friday’s podcast, he said that the filmmakers were concerned with ensuring that the story would be cinematic, and accessible and interesting to a non-Manchester United supporting fanbase, as well as providing a deep enough experience to satisfy hardened reds. They are mostly successful; for those of us who lived through the story the first time around, it is nostalgic bliss, and for those unfortunate enough to support other football teams, the film looks lovely and the soundtrack is perfect.

There are a lot of efforts to set the rise of the class of ’92 into the wider context of 1990s Britain, and the sense of youth and optimism that genuinely pervaded at the time. The best aspects of this cultural contextualisation take the form of the soundtrack – heavy on the Stone Roses, as it very, very much should be. The worst come in the voices from outside football. Perhaps understandably, the bits not aimed at hardened reds are the bits I enjoyed least.

I have heard Danny Boyle talk about the sense of optimism in 90s Britain enough not to find it of particular value here, but at least that was not offensive. I found the inclusion of Tony Blair somewhat more dubious. Turner made the point that Blair represents a huge turning point in the relationship between British politics and football, and this is fair enough, but there is something painfully ironic about watching Blair talking about an optimism that he essentially destroyed in throwing our lot in with the Bush regime. Much as documentaries about the optimism of the sixties end with assassinations and the Vietnam war, so nineties optimism ends with Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Class of 92But enough about politics. There is mercifully not that much of Blair. Who wants to listen to him when you can listen to Eric Cantona talking about the joy of seeing the greatest crop of United players for forty years coming through the ranks together? When you can listen to Mani talking about trying to get tickets to the ’99 final? When you can watch the people who wrote the greatest sporting story of the modern age together look back and laugh and tell you what they really think of each other and the people around them?

The Class of ’92 is a wonderful film, it really is. It wouldn’t be quite as wonderful if I wasn’t a Red (but then again, what would?), but there is definitely enough in there to keep anyone with a passing interest in stories of profound human triumph involved. And for those of us who have been with the class of ’92 since rumours of a player who might be “better than Lee Sharpe” started to emerge from The Cliff, the fact that their story has been told with such love and respect makes for an unforgettable 90 minutes. Something that Giggs and Scholes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Phil and Gary Neville know about only too well.

The Class Of ’92 is out in selected cinemas on the 1st December and DVD on the 2nd December.

Dear Sir Alex, Thanks

May 9, 2013 Tags: Opinion 43 comments
featured image

Football serves an odd function – and if you are reading this there’s a good chance that you really care about it. I am endlessly fascinated by what football represents to those of us who become so invested in the outcome of a few men kicking a ball around that it is transformed into drama, beauty, frustration, sadness, joy, love, hate (more’s the pity), escape, togetherness. Family.

Manchester United are often called a family club – a massive global enterprise, at the centre of which, administratively at least, are a bunch of the same people that have been around long enough to remember the first Sir Alex Ferguson title win.

[Of course, United are literally a family club, in the worst possible way, given that the club is run by a family of financial parasites, leeching millions away to line their own nest eggs, where presumably they nest their next generation who will grow up to do a leveraged buyout of a club in a developing market somewhere.]

Like all football clubs, United are also something families share, passed down from mother or father to son or daughter, from your uncle who cares about football when your dad doesn’t, or your best friend’s dad’s wife, since this is the modern age. Football has long been regarded as a place where it is acceptable for men to show emotion, letting out the tears that are borne of a deeper loss, but that manifest in the delight or devastation you experience because of the good or not-so-good kicking of a ball.

Somewhere in this mix, where the human unconscious is given an escape valve for emotions that can’t be expressed elsewhere, profound attachments form. And there can’t be many sporting attachments greater than that between United fans and Alex.

Forget the Sir, not just because it’s a weird relic of the feudal age, but also because it’s a latter day addition, it’s a millennial thing, arriving in time to make a handy three letter acronym for the internet age. Before he was Sir Alex, he was Fergie or Alec, and he represented something to me, to us. He was our family club’s dad.

It started straight away. Alex came in and replaced ‘Big Ron’, an avuncular, friendly figure (how little we knew…), and he was quite scary. I was nine, so I didn’t have a drinking culture, but United did and Ferguson put a stop to it, making the club professional, hitting some stumbling blocks, but building, always building.

I never lost faith in him, but I was only 12 when there were “three years of excuses” and living exiled in Zimbabwe, climbing rocks and preoccupied with working out if I could design a hoverboard. By the time I really really cared about football, he became the best dad ever, buying Eric Cantona and winning the league in the year I started sixth form college.

Ferguson brought through a whole generation of kids, and the surrogate father bit was given a whole new dimension. Those of the class of 1992 who became the heart of Ferguson’s team must surely be the players with the deepest relationship with him – David became the black sheep, Ryan, Paul and Gary stayed loyal. Little brother Philip was sent to live up the road with Uncle David so he could come back a few years later and tell us it would all be ok.

Then came the knighthood, and with it the passage to grand-parenthood. Cristiano Ronaldo certainly needed a father figure, and another generation removed, Sir Alex became one. We all watched on, as Fergie became an elder statesman, this great manager becoming the greatest of all time in front of our grateful eyes.

Like all families, there was betrayal and tragedy. He sided with the Glazers rather than the supporters, perhaps because he felt it was in the fans’ best interests to act as a buffer between them and us. Perhaps for less noble reasons. Fergie said that if we didn’t like it we could go and support Chelsea. (Or – we could go to our rooms without any supper, as it were).

Like all dads he embarrassed us, not with his bad dancing – the fist pumped goal celebrations were joyous, not cringeworthy – but his ruthlessness could grate on those with a more sensitive bearing. Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistelrooy, the weird goalkeeping blind spot. But as you grow up you learn that your parents aren’t perfect, and nor is your football manager.

I’m in my 30s now, and I try to keep the level of emotional investment in men, with a certain colour top, who kick a football, to a manageable level. But Fergie pre-dates my attempts to do that.

I’m so sad that he’s not United’s manager any more, even though I’m happy he gets to retire. I didn’t cry at the montages or the announcement, but I did cry when I recorded Rant Cast and I tried to list all his positive qualities as a human being. A day later, I realise why that was the trigger for me

It’s because it’s complicated. Fergie has been ruthless, and leaves our club registered in the Cayman Islands. He hurt a lot of people. But that’s not the full story.

There has been so much human goodness – the generosity to those in need, the support to other managers in hard times. He is a trade union man, after all. The thousands of letters of condolence and congratulations, done without fanfare.

And whilst there have been times of apparent obstinacy, and masses of footballing frustration, Sir Alex has brought joy to those of us lucky enough to be United fans that no other club anywhere in the land has been even nearly slightly close to experiencing.

I love my dad, even though he is not perfect, and I love Ferguson, even though he is not either. So, thank you, Alex, for dedicating your life to doing something which has made the fans so happy, so often. It’s been absolutely amazing and I honestly cannot believe that it is over.

I understand that impermanence is the fundamental nature of the universe, but I sort of thought you’d be the exception. I am going to remember the joy you brought for the rest of my life, and the pain will fade.

Most of all I will try to remember a mantra I try to live by, something which gives perspective when that inevitable impermanence shows itself: don’t be sad that it is over, be glad that it happened.


March 18, 2012 Tags: Opinion 19 comments

I don’t actually know what the weather is typically like in Bulgaria, but I’m going to guess that the winters are chilly. And a good job too, because Dimitar Berbatov will have had some practice at being out in the cold; his position in the Manchester United pecking order is a solid fourth choice.

Rooney’s season has been an odd one. Full of output, with – at the time of writing – 20 league goals in United’s chase for a 20th league title, he has suffered from patches of less impressive form, and his all round game has perhaps not hit the peaks of his ability. Whilst he is part of the conversation for the coveted position of “World’s Third Best PlayerTM“, few would argue that he has made it his own.

Chicharito is, well, Chicharito. He’s a goal machine – in a season where injury prevented a proper run in the team, he looked sharp and effective in patches – his first goal in the 5-0 win against Bolton Wanderers, for example, was a masterclass of how to lose a defender and get on the end of a cross. When it works, Chicharito is an absolutely perfect foil for Rooney, creating huge gaps in defences using the ancient hidden art of “running.”

After a debut season packed full of vital goals and excitement, this season has been slightly less explosive, but still effective – 11 goals, of which several have been absolutely key. Chicharito scored the only goals in 1-0 wins against Everton and Swansea, and the 84th minute equaliser against Chelsea. The Mexican’s build up play has been slightly lacking, although his first touch was much improved against West Bromwich Albion last week. And – whisper it – he seems to be missing the birthplace he shares with Pipo Inzaghi slightly less, being more prepared to spend time in the foreign land of ‘onside’.

Danny Welbeck is that most treasured of players – a local lad who looks like he belongs in United red at the very top of the game. In our slapstick three-all draw with ‘FC Basil’ – if it’s good enough for Gary Neville, it’s good enough for me – Welbeck looked assured and effective as a solo front man in a 4-5-1 formation. But in the 3-0 win against Tottenham back in August he had a very poor game, until he scored, at which point he appeared to turn into SuperWelbz, a version of himself with outlandish powers.

As the season has progressed, few could doubt Welbeck’s contribution to the campaign. So much so that Welbeck is probably Fergie’s first choice of foil for Rooney – although his finishing is still not quite as clinical as we would all like it to be – his nine goals in all competitions reflect a decent return for a player who adds so much to United’s all round play. Chich and Welbeck are very different players, a wonderful asset to Sir Alex Ferguson in terms of versatility, and a challenge in terms of picking the right player for the right game.

Which brings us to Dimi. Ah, Dimi. If I was as good at football as Dimitar, I would not want to be a fourth choice striker. He is an outrageously gifted footballer whose entire United career has been dogged by huge ebbs and flows of confidence, effectiveness and appearances. When he didn’t make the Champions League final bench, I was sad, but not surprised – Berbatov is many things, but he is clearly not an impact player.

He was the joint top scorer in the Premier League last season, but as has been said time and again, those goals came in bursts, and there were long barren periods in between. Berbatov stepped up immensely during Wayne’s calamitous drop in form in the early part of last season, relishing his role as the ‘man’, but his confidence seemed to drain away as Rooney’s returned. Berba did score a hat trick against Liverpool, of course, which you could argue was worth the transfer fee by itself…

That transfer fee – the millstone around Berbatov’s neck for his whole time at United. £30 million plus justified by Berbatov’s talent, and arguably by his vital contributions to a historic season, but he has never managed the consistent contribution expected by players who cost that much. He’s never become a superstar.

The question that interests me here is why? Why has Berbatov never managed to firmly establish himself as a world-beating, first-name-on-the-team-sheet type of player when he is so abundantly talented. He was a star at Tottenham Hotspur, scoring 46 times in 102 appearances, and nudging towards the mythic one in two ratio.

Berbatov was also incredibly effective for Spurs in the Europa league, scoring 12 goals in 16 games. At United, at the time of writing, Berba has 56 goals in 147 games, which is much closer to one in three. In the league for United it’s 48 in 106, which is a very decent output – certainly not one that would set alarm bells ringing. In Europe for the Reds, however, it’s five in 26 – four of which came in the 2008/09 season.

Fergie has completely given up on Berbatov in crucial Champions League games where he has any choice in the matter. The manager has also pretty much given up on Dimi in the big league games too – Chicharito didn’t take too long to be preferred, in a two-man front line, and this season Danny’s been ahead of Chich. Rooney, or indeed Welbeck, will always be a more useful as a lone forward.

I wonder what his relationship with the manager is like. Berbatov has never publicly complained about his marginalised role. If Berba was agitating for a move in the summer, which most of us surely thought would happen given the Champions League final squad, he did it out of the papers.

It must be hard to have that much talent and not be trusted. I’ve heard fans speculate that Berba didn’t want a move in the summer because, somehow, he enjoys the easy life of not playing that often for United and picking up an enormous cheque. I have no way of really knowing, but that just doesn’t sit right with me as an argument. I’ve never really thought that Dimitar looked like he wasn’t trying, just that trying for him doesn’t mean running in the way it does – or, used to – for Carlos Tevez.

“We will be taking up the option on his contract but, having had chats with him, I understand he wants to get first-team football,” said Sir Alex last week.

“It is something we need to consider at the end of the season. For a player of his age and his ability it is disappointing for him that he is not getting first-team football. We will look at the end of the season but until then, he remains at United.”

It is quite unusual for Sir Alex to speak so publicly about a player’s future, and I wonder what that says of their relationship. Certainly the public face of it has always been respectful. Berbatov describes being such a bit part figure in the club as “sad and painful,” but then goes on to talk about the importance of the team as a whole.

I wrote this article not to offer an argument, but to ask aloud the question of why Berbatov’s United career has disappointed, because I just don’t know the answer. I’ve absolutely loved watching the Bulgar ply his trade in red – he’s the kind of player that makes me like football; a magician with the ball on his best days. But maybe Berba’s never had the right assets to be a huge success at United – the capacity to deal with the pressure of the world stage.

Maybe it’s that at United he has only rarely had a team built around him, unlike at Spurs when he was the most important player in the squad. I don’t think it can be that he is lazy – he still seems really popular with the rest of the squad, and surely that wouldn’t be the case if they didn’t think he was a good professional.

Berba’s signing seemed an act of opportunism; a last-minute smash and grab to stop City getting him, so the story goes. If Fergie had his time again, I wonder if he would have decided to save that cash for someone else. Berbatov has been too often the wrong beautifully gifted, hugely talented, option for the way Fergie’s team is set up.

When Berba was signed, Sir Alex made comparisons to Eric Cantona. Sadly many United fans would peg Berba as closer to a different Eric in the pantheon of Ferguson signings. I think the critics are wrong about that, given, especially, Berbatov’s vital contributions last season. But still, he has clearly never reached the heights we would have hoped.

I love Berbatov, but I definitely can’t argue with Fergie’s pecking order. Dimitar makes even less sense in 2011/12 United than he did in those difficult spells in past seasons. I hope Dimi has – and takes – the chance to make some kind of significant contribution before he goes. Even if he does, though, when he leaves in the summer, or even by some miracle after that, the story that is written of him will be that he was at best a disappointment at United.

But that’s not what I’ll remember. I’m going to deliberately and obstinately remember the good times. That thing on the byline against West Ham United, when he crossed to Cristiano Ronaldo; the time he started an epic team goal from left back, and sauntered into the box to finish the move; that time when he scored an amazing overhead kick in the middle of a hat-trick against Liverpool, at Old Trafford; plucking the ball out of the sky and controlling it like he’d received a five-yard Michael Carrick sideways pass; and that glorious 10 minutes in Leeds when Berba pointed and shouted, stood in the right places, and generally did a pretty good job at centre-half.

A version of this article first appeared in Rant Monthly.

Donate to Rant Cast

March 15, 2012 Tags: Rant Cast 15 comments

We really, really appreciate you listening to Rant Cast, our weekly podcast, and both Ed and Paul really enjoy doing it. We’ve done a show almost every single week for the past season and a half, and quite a few the season before that, and of course we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love it.

It’s definitely a fun hobby, but it does take up a lot of (mostly Ed’s) time and a fair amount of (entirely Ed’s) money. We’re setting up this donation button just in case you feel like chucking a couple of quid our way. There’s no minimum donation, and if you’re an eccentric millionaire who wants to set us up for life, that’s fine too.

If you’d rather not, we won’t love you any less. Thanks for listening, and we really hope you’ll continue to do so,