“It’s not who you are underneath. It’s what you do that defines you,” Rachel Dawes tells Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. The billionaire playboy had spent his evening gallivanting with models in the pool of a high-class restaurant before bumping into his childhood friend. The carefree attitude, he pleaded, was nothing but a façade; deep down there’s more than meets the eye. Dawes’ profound, if clumsy, rejoinder leaves an impression on the man who would become the Caped Crusader.
Old Trafford will see Ryan Giggs running down the wing once again – as dramatic news broke Friday morning that the winger is to copy Paul Scholes and come out of retirement. The Welsh Wizard, whom Sir Alex Ferguson memorably described as a “cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind,” is putting his boots back on as part of manager Louis van Gaal’s desperate final attempt to qualify for the Champions League.
There was just a hint of entitlement in the statement. Understandable, perhaps, from a player who has recently become his nation’s record goalscorer; one standing on the verge of achieving a similar feat at club level. Yet, in declaring that he doesn’t ‘need to fight for his place’ Wayne Rooney, a 30-year-old suffering the third year of diminishing returns, has pushed that envelope a little far. After all, there are now better players in almost every position Rooney might covet, for club and country. It is a critical juncture for a fading star.
Ryan Giggs’ future is one of Manchester United’s biggest enigmas – and there are plenty of questions surrounding England’s falling giant. The Red Devils career-man came through United’s academy to become a playing legend, one of the most famous figures to ever walk out at Old Trafford. So, with such a storied history, what is Giggs’ next move?
So it’s going to be José. If reports emanating from Spain this week are believed the deal for Mourinho to join Manchester United this summer is done bar the ink on the contract. Diego Torres of El País claims that the Portuguese is certain to join the club having already signed a “pre-contract.”
Winter is coming. José Mourinho’s cold stare and stone heart is set to be unleashed on a failing Manchester United squad. The Portuguese will find the basis of a moderate team, although one shorn of almost any world-class talent, despite more than £250 million spent over the past three years. In the place of true quality comes a misfit collection of wasters, shirkers and frauds – or at least Marouane Fellaini, Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones. On the precipice of permanent decline, the club must move on and that surely means another round of change this summer. Old Trafford’s revolving exit calls for these 10 players …
“Never begin to think you know everything. There is always something to be learned.” – Dennis Viollet
Dennis Viollet passed away on 6 March 1999, just a couple of months before Manchester United completed the treble. When Teddy Sheringham and the Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored the crucial goals against Bayern Munich to bring the European Cup back to Old Trafford for the first time since 1968 it’s hard not to think that the dramatic ‘never-say-die’ performance that night in Barcelona was a fitting tribute to Viollet.
Even in the current inflated transfer market, £37.1 million is a lot of money. Juan Mata, Manchester United’s record signing at the time of transfer in January 2014, has not yet justified the fee. While Mata’s class is clear, the Spanish midfielder has failed to become the star man so many expected.
Much has been made over the possible “Liverpoolisation” of Manchester United. United is mounting a desperate challenge to qualify for the Champions League, but with some irony faces elimination from the seemingly winnable Europa League at the hands of the old enemy, Liverpool.
Match rhythm. It is the esoteric concept that Louis van Gaal insists a player must meet if he is to perform for Manchester United. Nobody is immune from this rule – players must have a few kilometres on the legs before they can be deployed for close to 90 minutes in the first team. Except, of course, for Marouane Fellaini at Anfield.