The annual United Rant Fantasy League takes place once again for the 2013/14 season – once again using the ‘official’ Premier League game at fantasy.premierleague.com. Last season Rant editor Ed placed 2,309,652th – so just about last. He’s confident that he’ll make the top one million this year!
Manchester United’s Premier and Champions League lists, confirmed on Tuesday, include Scottish captain Darren Fletcher, with the 28-year-old seemingly on the verge of a return to first team action this season. However, £7.4 million Portuguese misfit Bébé misses out on European action as Sir Alex Ferguson named his squads for the first half of the season.
Fletcher has not appeared for United since 22 November 2011, and played just 10 times last season after taking an extended break from football. The Scot is recovering from a long-term affliction with ulcerative colitis, although there is no date for the midfielder’s return to the first team. Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson was able to include Fletcher in both squads – due to his ‘home grown’ status – without impacting on any other player’s place in the squad.
The Scot has appeared twice for United’s Under 21 side this season, with Ferguson reporting Fletcher has gained weight and strength over the summer.
Meanwhile, Bébé – Tiago Manuel Dias Correia – has remained at the club this season after United failed to find a loan spell for the player. The former Vitória de Guimarães player will be available for domestic duty in the unlikely event Ferguson calls on his unique services.
Bébé spent last season on loan with Besiktas in Turkey, although a knee injury curtailed the season to just a handful of appearances. In the meantime Portuguese police continue to investigate the deal – a transfer in which more than 30 per cent of the fee went to agent Jorge Mendes.
United’s European party includes a 25 man ‘A’ squad and eight on the ‘B’ list, although Sir Alex can add to the secondary list at any point proving the player meets UEFA’s criteria. Players are eligible for the B list if born on or after 1 January 1991, and if they have been registered with the club for two years without interruption.
Meanwhile, Premier League rules demand that United registers a 25 man squad – United’s is 24 strong – with no more than 17 players who do not fulfil the ‘Home Grown Player’ criteria. Home Grown players are those who, irrespective of nationality or age, have been registered with an FA affiliated club for three seasons prior to their 21st birthday. Under 21 players are those born on or after 1st January 1991, and United can include any number over and above the 25 man squad limit. Phil Jones, for example, is not included in United’s 24 man Premier League squad, but is eligible as an Under 21.[table id=20 /]
Manchester United’s commercial team launched the club’s investor roadshow on Thursday ahead of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in New York this August. The team, comprising chief strategist Edward Woodward, commercial director Richard Arnold, and operations head Michael Bollingbrook, is meeting potential investors in Asia, Europe and the US ahead to drum up interest in the flotation ahead of pricing next week.
In a performance of undoubted woodenness, total lack of charisma and no little bluster, the trio kicked off the tour that the Glazer family hopes will prompt investors to pump more than $300 million into
club family coffers.
- The United team claim that revenue growth will come from retail and commercial sectors in the future
- Bollingbroke repeatedly stresses that Financial Fair Play (FFP) will benefit the club – presumably concerned that UEFA’s flag-ship programme may not have teeth
- Woodward says that deal with General Motors is “a world record” shirt sponsorship – it’s put at anywhere between £25 and £54 million per season by the press
- Woodward says that commercial revenue could account for more than 50 per cent of total revenues inside three years – it is currently around 30 per cent
- Bollingbrooke says historic net player expenditure over 10-15 years is £20-25 million – it is, of course, substantially lower during the Glazer regime
- “We are giving guidance at the moment,” says Bolingbroke, “that the current transfer period could result in net expenditure nearer £40 million
- “Matchday is our annuity business,” says Woodward – United not taking the fans for granted then. Much.
Join fellow Rant readers for another year of Fantasy Premier League. Based on the official Premier League competition, the United Rant League is available at fantasy.premierleague.com with the entry code 385741-103613.
Last year there were hundreds of players, with Paul Khauli taking the glory on the final day. Entry, as ever, is free.
Sir Alex Fergsuon’s Manchester United will face Everton at Goodison Park to open the new Premier League season after the fixtures for the 2012/13 campaign were unveiled Monday morning. Last season’s runners-up will face David Moyes’ Toffees, Fulham and newly promoted Southampton before August is out as United aim for a 20th English title. The opening day is scheduled for Saturday 18 August, but Ferguson’s side is more likely to take up one of the televised slots either on Saturday lunchtime, Sunday afternoon or Monday night.
The first home tie of the season will bring Fulham to Old Trafford in August, with fixtures against Southampton, Wigan Athletic, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur before the end of September. However, the draw offers Ferguson’s side a tough looking run-in, with fixtures against Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea in the last two months of the season, including a potentially decisive fixture with Roberto Mancini’s outfit at Old Trafford.
Champions City begin the title defence at home to newly promoted Southampton, Chelsea visit Wigan Athletic, Arsenal start at home to Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur play Newcastle United, and rank outsiders Liverpool, under new manager Brendan Rodgers, visit West Bromwich Albion.
The season’s first derby is at Eastlands on 8 December, while United travel to Liverpool on 22 September, visit Chelsea on 27 October and host Arsenal a week later on 3 November. United also faces a busy Christmas and New Year period with fixtures against Swansea City, then Newcastle United on Boxing Day, West Bromwich Albion, and then Wigan Athletic in the traditional ‘hang over fixture’ on New Year’s Day.
United’s last home fixture of the season, possibly the final game in Red for Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, brings Welsh side Swansea City to Old Trafford, before United conclude the campaign away at West Bromwich Albion.
By then United will hope to have secured the Premier League title, although few will bet against more last day drama. And on balance Ferguson will be pleased with the fixture split, which offers neither a hugely tough start to the campaign, nor the worst possible conclusion.
The Champions League draw takes place in Monaco on 30 August, and while specific European destinations are yet to be unveiled, United will face fixtures away from Old Trafford after five of six group games – traveling to Liverpool, Newcastle, Chelsea, Aston Villa and City after European games .
With just two months until the season opener United’s schedule already looks packed. The Reds start a summer tour a month today, with two fixtures in South Africa against AmaZulu FC and Ajax Cape Town, one in China with Shanghai Shenhua, and one in Norway against Vålerenga.
Players not competing in the European Champions are due to report back for training on 1 July.
August – Everton (A), Fulham (H)
September – Southampton (A), Wigan Athletic H, Liverpool (A), Tottenham Hotspur (H)
October – Newcastle (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A)
November – Arsenal (H), Aston Villa (A), Norwich City (A), QPR (H), West Ham United (H)
December – Reading (A), Manchester City (A), Sunderland (H), Swansea City (A), Newcastle United (H), West Bromwich Albion (H)
January – Wigan Athletic (A), Liverpool (H), Tottenham Hotspur (A), Southampton (H)
February – Fulham (A), Everton (H), QPR (A)
March – Norwich City (H), West Ham United (A), Reading (H), Sunderland (A)
April – Manchester City (H), Stoke (A), Aston Villa (H), Arsenal (A)
May – Chelsea (H), Swansea City (H), West Brom Albion (A)
Domestic Cups (all tentative)
Capital One Cup Round 3 – 26 September
Capital One Cup Round 4 – 31 October
Capital One Cup Round 5 – 12 December
FA Cup Round 3 – 5 January
Capital One Cup semi-final (1) – 9 January
Capital One Cup semi-final (2) – 23 January
FA Cup Round 4 – 26 January
FA Cup Round 5 – 16 February
Capital One Cup final – 24 February
FA Cup Round 6 – 9 March
FA Cup semi-final – 13 April
FA Cup Final – 11 May
Champions League Schedule
Matchday 1 – 18–19 September
Matchday 2 – 2–3 October
Matchday 3 – 23–24 October
Matchday 4 – 6–7 November
Matchday 5 – 20–21 November
Matchday 6 – 4–5 December
Round of 16 – 12–13 and 19–20 February, 5–6 and 12–13 March
Quarter-finals – 2–3 April, 9–10 April 2013
Semi-finals – 23–24 April, 30 April – 1 May
Final – 25 May (Wembley Stadium, London)
Manchester United supporters might be forgiven for welcoming yet another highly rated youth prospect to Old Trafford with a grudging nod. After all, while United’s policy of hoovering up the very finest youth talent, especially creative midfielders, is a prudent one, the here-and-now also matters such is the shambles of the Reds’ central midfield at times in the past two seasons. Yet, another ‘prospect’ it is, with confirmation that Brazilian-born Belgian teenager Andreas Hoelgebaum Pereira will join the club 1 January 2012, the day he turns 16.
Pereira, an attacking playmaker who can be deployed in midfield or as a shadow striker, will join from PSV Jugend, Eindhoven’s academy side, for nominal compensation. The player has agreed a three-and-a-half year deal with United.
Starting out at KVSK Lommel in Belgium before moving to PSV aged nine, Pereira has developed a reputation as one of Europe’s finest youth talents. He has been reportedly contacted by most of Europe’s leading clubs and played in the Nike Manchester Premier Cup this summer.
“I am an offensive midfielder, a real 10,” Pereira told De Telegraaf.
“Setting up my team mates, scoring and a good shot are my qualities. PSV knew that I was talking with some clubs and they respected my choice. I had some doubts but at the end Manchester United is my dream team to play for. I have been a few times to Manchester United to have a look. I got a tour and spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson. Being a 15-year-old, to talk with such a man was great.”
The 15-year-old is the son of Marcos Pereira, a retired Brazilian striker who played in Europe for BSC Young Boys, Mechelen, Sint-Truidense and Royal Antwerp. Indeed, Pereira senior appeared alongside Phil Bardsley, Eddie Johnson, Souleymane Mamam and Dong Fangzhuo for Antwerp in the 2003-4 season.
Junior’s team-mate Zakaria Bakkali was recent linked with move to Manchester City, although his signature is equally sought-after. Bakkali won this year’s Manchester United Premier Cup ‘Most Valuable Player’ award. It was a tournament whose final was played at Old Trafford of all places.
Pereira will join a growing Belgian youth international contingent in Manchester, Marnick Vermijl, Charni Ekangamene and Adnan Januzaj at the club. Meanwhile, United has previously raided Holland for Dutch youth winger Gyliano van Velzen, who stared in the Academy’s run to FA Youth Cup victory last season. United have previously signed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam and Park Ji-sung from PSV Eindhoven.
Here’s some video of Pereira doing stepovers!
… T-Shirts that is, in Rant’s competition to win this fantastic pair of original designs from Live Breathe Futbol. Arguably the two finest players to grace Old Trafford, Best and Cantona have appeared in more than 650 games for United, scoring 262 goals between them. From Best’s dribbling, to Cantona’s ability to ‘open the can’, each is remembered with great affection by United supporters worldwide. While Best was lost to use five years ago, Cantona lives on, bringing his New York Cosmos to Old Trafford in August.
They say football is about the moments ; when Best scored in the ’68 European Cup Final or King Eric struck to win the ’96 FC Cup. To be in with a chance of winning, get involved on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below and tell us about your favourite CANTONA or BEST moment:
- Tweet and let @unitedrant and @LiveBrtheFutbol know about it
- Post a comment on the LBF Facebook page
- Drop us a comment about your favourite Cantona or Best moment below
LBF t-shirts offer a unique take on the beautiful game, with designs that reflect the character and personality of the players. Based in Philadelphia but shipping worldwide, LBF Ts are available for around £15 / $20.
* competition now closed*
Here’s a chance to win a signed Manchester United shirt and one of 20 Old Trafford stadium tours, with United Rant and @BetfairSports! Proving once again that not only does Rant giveth, but giveths again.
In Betfair’s latest ad, United winger Ashley Young takes on team-mates Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra in a very special game of bowling. The trio attempt to floor the ten pins using lightweight footballs, taking on couch potato and footballing wannabe Chris Weber, with the baying crowd betting on their mobiles as to who will emerge as King Pin.
“It was harder than I thought it would be because of the weight of the ball and having to strike it so low over a relatively short length of space, “said Young, who has already provided five assists this season.
“Hats off to Patrice and Berba, they showed unbelievable skills. And all I can say about Chris is ‘he tried his best!’”
Ranters: for a chance to win there’s three ways to enter…
Get involved on Twitter. Simply tweet:
I want to win a signed #MUFC shirt in the @BetfairSports #Stars&Strikes competition http://bit.ly/pwwjOk RT to enter!
No Twitter? Come up with your best video related pun in the comments section below, or on the Rant Facebook page for a chance to win.
To get a free bet with Betfair Mobile and the chance to win more great prizes, check out Betfair’s Stars & Strikes page here!
The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) needs you… to don the Green & Gold of protest and force the Glazer family to use autumn IPO proceeds to rid the club of debt. At least that’s the message of MUST’s new poster campaign, which was launched today. Staring George Best in Lord Kitchener mode, the new MUST poster urges United supporters to revive the spirit of Green & Gold and put new pressure on the ruling Glazer family.
Claiming that the upcoming IPO in Singapore later this year is “victory for the Green & Gold campaign,” MUST wants fans to build a second wave of protest, aimed at pressuring the Glazer family into removing debt from United before it is “locked in” post-IPO.
“Green & Gold was a global phenomenon fought in the areas of media and politics as well as on the terraces. It was an uprising like nothing seen before at OT or perhaps anywhere in English football,” said the group in a statement.
“The bonds actually created more expensive debt and more of it than the club’s previous bank financing, however crucially they allowed the Glazers to take up to £95m in a cash “carve out” from MUFC’s coffers with much more to come over subsequent years.
“So while the bonds were more expensive the Glazers desperately needed the money – their PIK debt was rolling up at an alarming rate and threatening to get out of control and there was no other spare cash in the empire. Such was impact of Green & Gold throughout 2010 however, that the Glazers feared an outright rebellion and had to withdraw their plans to take the carve out money.”
The Glazer family removed the catalyst for protest – the PIK debt – in November 2010 at a cost of £249 million. But with personal debts mounting, and no bidder willing to meet the family’s excessive valuation of the club, Plan B is to enact a partial-IPO of the club in Singapore this autumn.
Yet the IPO is likely to ‘lock-in’ any remaining debt, according to MUST, ensuring the the Glazers – as private owners giving way to a PLC board – will not pay down bond debt from anything other than club sources.
“Effectively at that point they will have taken that money from Manchester United meaning our club (and fans) will have to pay their debt off,” adds the Trust.
“It is the duty of every fan to stand up to protect our club from further un-necessary fees and interest payments.”
This season the United Rant community is holding, for the first time in seven years, a Fantasy League competition. Based on the official Premier League competition, the United Rant league is available at fantasy.premierleague.com with the entry code 288020-112982.
Entry is free and Rant will offer additional prizes for the league winner.