Poll: is Tom Cleverley worth it?

October 14, 2012 Tags: , Polls 31 comments

The Mirror reports ;that Tom Cleverley is negotiations with the club over a new five-year contract that will net the midfielder up to £80,000 per week. If signed, the new deal will be the second contract offered to the 23-year-old in little more than a year, earning Cleverley around £20 million over the deal’s lifetime. It represents an eight-fold increase in wages in around 18 months; by any stretch, spectacular financial progress.

Cleverley has become a regular in Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side over the past two seasons – injury permitting – and scored a spectacular goal at St. James’ Park last weekend. The midfielder has also become a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s England team, starting against Sam Marino at Wembley on Friday night.

Yet, with just 21 games played for the club – 15 starts – ;and two goals scored, the England international is still in the very early stages of his Old Trafford career. Farmed out to Leicester City, Watford and then Wigan Athletic, Cleverley still has much to prove at the highest level. ;In reality the ;Basingstoke-born player still has much to prove too, being, for example, just two year’s younger than Lionel Messi and vastly less experienced.

Is Tom Cleverley worth £80,000 per week?

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Poll: should United buy before the window closes?

August 28, 2012 Tags: , Polls 49 comments

Manchester United’s activity in the transfer market is over for the summer, with the club having spent more than £40 million, rising with potential bonuses, on a quintet of new players – Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Büttner, Ángelo Henríquez and Nick Powell.

At least that’s the claim made by Sir Alex Ferguson at the weekend, who told reporters that United “definitely won’t be buying anyone else, that is for sure. There is no movement I can tell you about, to be honest with you. There is only a few days left now until the deadline and that will pass quite quickly I would imagine.”

Indeed, with United having spent the £40 million budget ‘guided’ during the summer investor roadshow, few expect additional acquisitions unless there are significant movements out of Old Trafford before the transfer window closes on Friday. Dimitar Berbatov, Federico Macheda and possibly even Nani can be expected to leave the club permanently or on loan.

Ferguson has strengthened United’s attacking resources considerably, with Kagawa and van Persie having already impressed, and brought in cover for Patrice Evra with Büttner. However, some fans have expressed disappointment that no new central midfielder has joined the club this summer – an area long-held as the weakest in Ferguson’s squad.

The question is should United spend more to bring in additional players before the window closes.

Should United buy before the window closes?

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Poll: how should United approach the summer transfer market?

May 3, 2012 Tags: , Polls 60 comments

In the aftermath of defeat to Manchester City on Monday night, Manchester United could end the season trophyless for the first time since 2004. That is unless Papiss Cisse and his Newcastle United colleagues do the Reds a favour this coming weekend, while the Reds emerge victorious from games against Swansea City and Sunderland.

But in a season where Sir Alex Ferguson’s side has lost 11 times, and exited early from four competitions, questions will be asked about United’s quality whatever the conclusion to the Premier League title race.

Critics point to a degradation in squad quality over six years of ownership by the Glazer family, with the club having spent more than £500 million on interest, debt repayment and associated fees over the period. At the same time rivals such as City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona have invested heavily in the market, on both transfer fees and wages.

Indeed, net transfer spend since the Glazer takeover is approximately £7.50 million per season – significantly less that United’s rivals at home and abroad, save for Arsenal. Meanwhile, United has slipped to 12 in the global sports pay scale, behind the aforementioned quartet of rivals, accoring to industry analysts Sporting Intelligence.

There is mitigation. Some fans will point to the £38 million net spent last summer on Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones as proof of United’s investment in youth. While others point to United’s extensive injury list in the current season, or the ‘potential’ of many younger players within the squad during a ‘season of transition’.

The question is where does Ferguson go from here? Spend big in order to compete with the very best at home and abroad, or trust in the current squad and transfer strategy to regain former glories?

How should United approach the summer transfer market?

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Poll: Will United win, lose or draw at City?

April 23, 2012 Tags: , , Polls 65 comments

Following Manchester United’s draw with Everton on Sunday – and Manchester City’s victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers – the Reds’ Premier League lead is now just three points. With just a trio of games to go in the Premier League season the title race could well come down to next Monday’s derby at Eastlands.

Indeed, victory for City will leave Roberto Mancini’s outfit top of the Premier League on goal difference. By contrast, should United triumph at Eastlands Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will require just a single point from matches against Swansea City and Sunderland to secure a 20th domestic league title.

Form and location may favour Mancini’s side, but Ferguson and his experienced lieutenants certainly know how to convert tight situations into victories. Despite City’s infamous 6-1 victory at Old Trafford in the Premier League this season, it was United that took the FA Cup third round fixture at Eastlands in January.

Sir Alex has already labelled next Monday’s match the biggest derby during his 25 year reign in charge of United, claiming that United’s draw with Everton has handed City the initiative. Meanwhile, Mancini has sought to play down expectations at Eastlands by stating that United has already won the Premier League.

But what do you think will be the result in Monday’s derby?

Will United win, lose or draw at City?

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Poll: Is Ashley Young an embarrassment to United?

April 15, 2012 Tags: , Polls 91 comments

Ashley Young, part-time winger, full-time diver – at least if the last two weekend’s matches are anything to go by. In each game, first against Queens Park Rangers and then former club Aston Villa, Young has ‘gone down easy’ to win Manchester United a crucial penalty. The seventh and eighth penalties Young has won this season.

Last weekend, against QPR, Young hit the deck after the mere brush of Sean Derry’s outstretched hand. True, the QPR midfielder made contact and, as such, a foul was committed, but was it enough to bring the £18 million signing down? Then on Sunday, against former club Villa, Young tumbled once again – this time over Ciaran Clark’s outstretched leg. There was less debate about the merits, or otherwise, of the foul, but Young’s theatrics won him few friends.

Yet, as many have opined on Twitter and other social networks, Young’s behaviour is not the ‘United way’, where diving has never been accepted. Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson took the unprecedented step of admonishing his player in public after the Villa game when questioned if Young was now gaining a reputation for diving.

“Yes. In the last week or two, yeah. I’ve never seen that in him, it’s not a habitual thing in him,” claimed Ferguson.

“He was brought down, he just made the most of it. I think he played for the penalty. If the player decides to put his foot in and doesn’t stay on his feet and read the situation, he has fallen into the situation. But he’s definitely taken him. It was a dramatic fall. He overdid the fall, but it’s a penalty, there’s no doubt about that and I don’t think they can have any complaint because he has taken him.”

Yet, the real question is whether you, the United fan, can accept Young’s behaviour? After all, the winger has earned United goals over the past week at the same time as drawing a rash of negative headlines.

Is Ashley Young an embarrassment to United?

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Poll: will you miss Berbatov?

March 18, 2012 Tags: Polls 5 comments

Dimitar Berbatov is set to leave Manchester United in the summer after both Sir Alex Ferguson and the player’s agent confirmed that the Bulgarian will seek a new club in June. The striker, who has scored 56 goals in 147 games for United, is out of contract in June, although Ferguson has previously stated that United will activate a ‘one-way’ one-year extension to the former Tottenham Hotspur player’s deal. But with no extension yet confirmed, and United seemingly unwilling to keep the 30-year-old’s £5 million per season deal on the books, the striker is likely to start next season away from Old Trafford.

“I had three meetings with (United manager) Alex Ferguson,” said Berbatov’s agent Emil Danchev on Sunday.

“We should accept that he’ll try to build a team for the next three or four years and Berbatov will not be part of this team. Ferguson wants to change the playing style, to implement more speed. I was pleased with United’s position as they said they’ll not oppose Berbatov’s move in the summer.”

On Friday, Ferguson admitted that Berbatov has grown unhappy at the lack of first team football this season, with the 70-year-old Scot leaving the Bulgarian out of United’s squad for matches against Athletic Bilbao and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the past week. Famously, Berbatov failed to make United’s match-day squad for last May’s Champions League final.

“I understand he wants first-team football,” said the United manager.

“It’s difficult for me to guarantee that so it could lead to him looking elsewhere. 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. 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.”

Berbatov’s ‘world-class’ talent has never been in doubt, but the end product has often been called into question, leaving fans and manager frustrated. But will you miss Berbatov when he leaves Old Trafford for the final time in May?

Poll: will you miss Berbatov?

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Poll: do you care about the Europa League?

February 15, 2012 Tags: , Polls 12 comments

Manchester United kicks off the Europa League campaign against Ajax on Thursday, in what promises to be the glamour tie of the round. With 3,000 United fans heading out to Amsterdam it is a tie for supporters, but having crashed out of the Champions League in December, very much second best for Sir Alex Ferguson’s tie. Yet, with United out of the Carling and FA Cups already, the Europa League represents a realistic shot at silverware this season.

Ferguson claims that United will take the competition seriously, with a strong squad heading out of Manchester on Wednesday morning. But what about the fans… do you care about the Europa League?

Do you care about the Europa League?

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Poll: should Evra shake Luis Suárez’ hand?

February 7, 2012 Tags: , Polls 38 comments

Patrice Evra must choose whether to shake Luis Suárez’ hand this weekend after the Football Association insisted that normal matchday protocols would be in place for the Premier League fixture between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime. Suárez returned, against Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, from an eight match ban imposed by the FA for racially abusing Evra in the meeting between the two sides last October.

Unlike the recent meeting between Chelsea and QPR, where the FA abandoned the usual pre-game meet and greet between the teams “in an attempt to further defuse tensions,” Evra is likely to be offered the Uruguayan’s hand on Saturday. This comes just a fortnight after Evra was widely jeered at Anfield, with one fan caught making a ‘monkey gesture’ towards the Frenchman.

However, manager Sir Alex Ferguson recently suggested that Evra should “rise above” any temptation to ignore the Liverpool striker this weekend. “He should be applauded for what he did [reporting Suárez], standing up to it,” Ferguson said last week. “There is no shame for him. The matter is over. He can rise above that.”

News of the FA’s stance comes on the same day Ferguson has urged football to clamp down on racism in the game.

“I don’t understand at all where it’s coming from,” Ferguson told CNN. “This is a moment where we have to take stock and we should do something about it if it’s surfacing again, and be really hard and firm on any form or shape of racism. There have been a couple of examples recently which is not good. In 2012, you can’t believe it.”

Should Patrice Evra shake Luis Suárez' hand?

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Poll: will Scholes’ return be a success?

January 9, 2012 Tags: Polls 16 comments

Paul Scholes has signed up for a (second) final season at Manchester United, with the club having registered the 36-year-old until May. It’s a surprise turnaround for a player who retired after United’s loss to Barcelona in the Champions League final last year.

Fans and pundits have questioned whether Scholes will be a success second time around. After all, the veteran midfielder admitted in May that his ‘legs had gone’. Some have pointed to the player’s return as evidence that Sir Alex Ferguson is being restricted in the transfer market.

Yet, player, manager and team-mates expressed delight at Scholes’ decision to return, after the midfielder made a 31 minute cameo against Manchester City on Sunday.

Do you think Scholes’ return will be a success?

Will Scholes' return be a success?

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Poll: Should Ferguson spend in January?

December 14, 2011 Tags: , , , Polls 63 comments

Manchester United has suffered a December horribilis, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side dumped out of the Champions League, Nemanja Vidić ruled out for nine months after a shocking triple knee ligament injury, and now Darren Fletcher laid-low with a serious long-term bowel disease. While the European loss robs United of glory, and revenue, player absentees ensure Ferguson’s side is weaker for the Premier League season.

Fletcher’s absence means that Ferguson is down to just two fit senior central midfielders, with wingers, defenders and strikers expected to fill the void before Anderson and Tom Cleverley return at some point in 2012. Meanwhile, the loss of captain Vidić leaves United’s manager with Rio Ferdinand as his only experienced central defender. But should the United manager enter the transfer market in the coming window?

Should Ferguson spend in January?

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