Gill promises investment as Reds aim to close Barça gap



Manchester United’s thumping defeat to Barcelona on Saturday night threatened to spoil the Reds’ victory parade through the city today. Even so around 150,000 lined Manchester’s streets for the party, which celebrated a 19th domestic title, if not the European Cup. Yet, as United’s supporters delight in another Premier League triumph – the 12th of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford reign – questions have inevitably been drawn of the club’s ability to compete at the very highest level. A level to which Barcelona set a new standard on Saturday night.

Indeed, the manner of Barça’s victory at Wembley was so overwhelmingly superior that United’s response cuts to the very heart of the club’s place in Europe’s hierarchy. Runner-up in Europe’s elite competition is no shame, of course, but the gap between United and the best is evidently far wider than hoped. The question of whether United can close that gap is one to which supporters will look for answers over the summer.

The Catalan giant’s success is based on a straightforward two-sided strategy; build the most productive youth academy on the planet, while investing heavily in the transfer market. Indeed, while six of the starting team at Wembley were trained at La Masia, Barcelona’s much-lauded academy, the club has also invested hugely in the transfer market over the past decade, while also baring the largest wage bill of any football club.

In response United has only two options: plan for immediate needs and work towards a better tomorrow. In this United’s historic strategy is not wholly different to Barça’s, with the Reds seeking to augment lavish spending with talented youngsters trained at Carrington. More recent austerity has seemingly curbed the club’s net transfer spend at a time when the academy is producing a relatively limited crop of first-team-ready youngsters.

In this both United’s chief executive David Gill and his club manager offered hope and a prescient warning today. Gill, a staunch supporter of the Glazer regime which has drained around £400 million out of the club in the past five years, hinted at heavy investment this summer. Meanwhile, Ferguson warned that Barcelona will continue to enjoy a structural advantage if the Football Association continues to control youth development policy.

“It will be a busier than usual summer this year,” Gill told MUTV, with United set to confirm deals for David de Gea, Ashley Young and Rafael Varane in the coming week.

“I will be going away at some point in June and be back for the start of our tour but I will be on with player stuff for the next few weeks I am sure.”

The question on most fans’ lips is whether Gill and his paymasters will sanction heavier spending on proven talent, in addition to youth’s promise. After all, while Barça has produced a rash of outrageously talented players from La Masia, the club also spent around €90 million on Danni Alves, Javier Mascherano, Eric Abidal and David Villa in recent seasons. That figure does not include the €65 million largely wasted on Zlatan Imbrahimovic in summer 2009.

Whether United’s response is more ambitious than the aforementioned De Gea, Young and Varane is as yet undecided. After all, while uncontested newspaper reports speculate at heavy summer investment in addition to that trio, recent history suggests otherwise. Gill’s assertion that his summer will be “busier than usual” could yet be another of the executive’s empty platitudes.

Meanwhile, United continues to invest in youth development, although there has been scant reward in the past decade. Of the current first team squad only Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson have emerged from the academy in the past decade; an embarrassing return relative to Saturday’s opponents.

Of course this season’s FA Youth Cup winning side may yet produce rarefied talent to compete at both domestic and European level, although precedent suggests that it is unlikely. United’s two teams to reach the Youth Cup final since the ‘class of ’92′ – 2004 and 2007 – has produced not a single first team regular at Old Trafford, let alone a talent to match Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

It is a failure Ferguson blames on the FA’s regulatory framework for youth development in England, especially the so-called 90 minute rule. The regulation stipulates that Premier League academies cannot take on boys that live more than 90 minutes drive away from the club’s base at Old Trafford.

“People have to understand the mechanics of the industry we are working in,” Ferguson said today.

“We are only allowed to coach youngsters for an hour and a half, they [Barcelona] can coach every hour of the day if they want to. That’s the great advantage they have got. It is a fantastic philosophy.

“We hope that in years to come our coaches will be able to spend more time with young kids, to teach them the basics, the technical abilities and the confidence to keep the ball all the time. We are good at it, but not as good as Barcelona at this moment in time. It is a wonderful challenge and we should always accept a challenge.”

Yet, any revision to the rule will bring no immediate reward as United continues to look abroad for the best in world youth talent. Of the Youth Cup winning side seven hailed from the Greater Manchester area, while the other four were brought in from overseas. The trend may yet swing towards ever greater global imports as the club seeks to circumvent FA regulations.

More to the point, despite the talented youth team, none will immediately augment United’s side. If the gap between United and Barça is to be bridged than Gill’s wallet will be in repeated use over the next two months. It was, no doubt, a conversation pondered as United’s victory parade idled past the crowds today.

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  • sheesh

    Good article, Ed. Puts our transfer strategy into some perspective. It’s not enough to have a squad that is just about good enough to succeed at domestic level. Barcelona have set a new benchmark that all the top club sides in Europe will have to aspire to.

  • Steve

    I have heard a few people say Varane has outstanding potential. As does De Gea, but please not Ashley Young. Let’s see us go all out to bring in Modric. I would even take Tiote from Newcastle to add a bit of bite to the team, as long as a quality playmaker was purchased. If we aren’t going to do this then let’s get Tunnicliffe and Pogba brought into the squad sooner rather than later.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    sheesh said:
    Good article, Ed. Puts our transfer strategy into some perspective. It’s not enough to have a squad that is just about good enough to succeed at domestic level. Barcelona have set a new benchmark that all the top club sides in Europe will have to aspire to.

    As good as Barcas youth program obviously is… it’s still a bit fortunate, that they’d have 3 of the top 5 in the world in the team at the same time… it’s similar to our class of 92… as much luck as good training.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    you get a crop like that once every fifty years if you’re lucky, we’re due our next lot in fourty years time

  • herbie simms

    Do we need Ashley Young? Yes Varane is a class player and he is only 18 years old. I would promote Ravel Morrison. He is a class player and also 18 years old. I would bring in Douglas Costa to replace Scholes. I hope SAF has a rethink about Young and pushes for Alexis Sanchez instead, especially if he wants to be in the same class as Barcelona.

  • squigs

    In fairness the three players you refer to were 6-7 years apart.

    Ajax have constantly produced brilliant players for near 40 years, it is not impossible.

    • Josh

      Exactly. For our Acdemy to be producing players at the current rate is not really acceptable, though the current Youth Cup team obviously looks promising.

      In terms of purchases this summer, I sincerely hope we don’t go for Ashley Young. He’s not particularly young (pardon the pun) and I don’t actually consider him to be all that good, though clearly Fergie is a better judge of player than I.
      Aside from Young’s quality (or lack thereof) I’m not sure we need a player like that at all. Midfield is obviously the most pressing concern.
      I can’t see Sneijder turning up on two accounts. Firstly I think he’d cost too much and secondly, with Rooney playing so deep I can’t see where he’d fit in.
      I’d love to see Modric at United. He passes the ball well, is creative and could fit straight in.
      Saturday proved just how far our midfield has to go, as if we didn’t already know. I’ve defended Anderson on numerous occasions (on here – to much chastisement at times) but I’ve well and truly given up on that now. Gibson is so clearly lacking United quality it’s embarassing, and Scholes has obviously now retired.
      I am excited/intrigued as to what Cleverley can offer. I’ve always rated him but I suppose it remains to be seen whether he can provide at the top level.
      At the moment I think it looks fairly grim, midfield wise, though I still maintain that we’re only a couple of decent CM’s away from being top quality again.
      I just hope Fergie is ready to invest in someone suitable for the starting 11 and not merely a squad player. One of the problems at the moment is that we have too many squad players.
      Anyhow, excuse the rant.

  • dingleberry

    perspective … we are english champions and lost to the worlds best team (containing 2 of the greatest players ever in messi and Xavi) in Champs League final. Unless we actually buy Xavi, Iniesta and Messi I dount think it matters who we bring in, we wont be as good.

    Love to see modric as scholes replacement, maybe rodwell as hargreaves replacement. but i doubt we have the money.

  • SKW

    Ashley Young is not going to add anything. The wings are not the problem. We need central midfielders who are creative and can attack with the ball at their feet.

  • bman

    The closest replacements for the old, attacking Scholes have to be Pastore or Sneijder. Sneijder’s a known quantity, Pastore has youth and potential going for him. Either would be around £30M though I’m sure, at least.

    For the left side there are some decent options out there, but I think we should go for Dortmund’s Kagawa. He’d be relatively affordable, and really looks good. Again, very young with lots of potential, but he’s looked aced playing for both Dortmund and Japan before he broke a metatarsal. Hazard’s the big name in this position, but I’d be more than happy with Kagawa, and he’d probably be cheaper than blasted Young.

    For more central midfield quality, less attack-minded, Modric is obviously class but I also like the look of Pjanic at Lyon.

    For strikers, I like both Benzema and Aguero for United — both are big strong direct strikers, but both have lots of class and technical quality too.

    I’m sure four players is too much to hope for, but how about the following:

    Pastore, Benzema, Kagawa, and Pjanic. Pastore would be a big £30M signing, Benzema close to that as well. Kagawa and Pjanic I think you’d get for 10-15M each, maybe even less? If you figure we’d probably get 20-30M from selling Berba and others, and we’d probably end up with a substantially lower wage bill, I don’t think that’s actually financially absurd. Including De Gea it would be a net spend of about 60-70M, plus wage savings which might be even more important. Not that much given all those players are in their early 20s, we’ve a huge bag of cash in the bank, several cornerstones of our team are retiring, and Barca just made us their bitches before a global audience.

    • http://damiangarside.com Damian Garside

      Love the last part of your last sentence.

  • bman

    Fuck’s sake, we’d get all those players I suggested for less than we got for Ronaldo — to put it in perspective.

  • http://none ian

    I think that you miss the target by a margin Ed. We are competing at the very highest level. But Barca are a truly astonishing team, with the gap between them & all other teams in Europe probably wider than has happened since Real’s great side of Di Stefano et al. Probably only Real are superior of the rest. I suspect that the quality of the raw material -working class kids who have spent hours from the age of four kicking a tennis ball in the streets- is higher than in Greater Manchester. Much more important the quality of the coaching is light years ahead; basically with an empathis on skill at the expense of winning. I could not distinguish the way the Youth Team played from the teams of 20 or 30 years ago. That can be changed; it will take time; it will not occur under SAF. Yes Barca have top quality players in every position -we have played O’Shea, Gibson, Bebe, Owen, Obertan, Evans & Scholes (a different case)- they might be artistic but they are like a well-oiled machine. Everybody plays the same role -& knows exactly what to do-in every match, Hercules or Real.
    It is very difficult to criticize a club’s policy which has bought Ronaldo, Nani, Hernandez & Smalling in recent years. Saturday made clear,even if it was not transparently clear before, that Giggs, Carrick, Fletcher & Park are way short of being good enough in midfield. For God’s sake, SAF must know we need a top quality defensive midfielder; Busquets is the model; he makes nearly as many ACCURATE, FORWARD passes as Xavi; I doubt Rodwell or any other English born player can do that. Pogba looks the part but he has a very long way to improve. Has anyone seen M’Vila play regularly?
    If we want significant improvement then a world class creative mid-fielder is a must, whatever the price????? I share the doubts about Sneijder. If it were not for City, Fabregas could be on the radar; if Nasri does not sigh a new contract he would definitely significantly improve the team. If we have £30 or £40m to spend, let’s not waste nearly half of on Asley Bloody Young.

  • triggs

    The following deals appear all but finalised: De Gea, Ashley Young and Varane. I think these are promising signings and definitely add to the squad. Young’s assist stats are far in excess of Valencia’s at Wigan. With quality players around him, I think he could be a really good addition to the squad. Just think who he’s replacing in the squad: Obertan and Bebe. If we hold onto Berba, I think Young playing off Berba would work nicely as a second choice attacking partnership.
    However, we’ve not yet addressed the key problem of signing genuine midfield quality that is ready to control games as of now. Now that Scholes is gone, I expect a bid for Modric, yes he’ll cost circa £35M, but his wages will be far more affordable than Sneijder’s. Excellent replacement for Scholes in my opinion, but I think Levy will make it as difficult as possible for us to sign him. Plus Chelsea and City will also be sniffing around him.
    Modric quotes that have surfaced today: “I’m happy at White Hart Lane – my status is great, the fans like me and I do have everything I need. But then again – when you experience playing in Champions League, you want to keep playing in this tournament.”
    In a perfect world I’d like us to bring in a defensive midfielder too, but if we don’t – I would be happy providing Varane, Cleverley, Tunnicliffe and Pogba with the opportunity to get more game time.

  • Ashish

    The fact of the matter is that United could have Sneijder and Modric playing in midfield and could have STILL lost against Barca last Saturday.

    Two seasons ago,when Barca were due to play Inter,everybody expected Barca’s progression to the finals to be a mere formality but due to the superior tactics of Inter they went through instead of Barca despite the latter having the better team.

    Ever since Queiroz has left,United have been lacking that extra edge tactically and our 2 assistants haven’t been able to plot tactics as effectively as Queiroz did.

    Which may explain precisely why United were able to beat Barca over 180 minutes three years back.

    Also the way Mourinho organises his teams to nullify Barca’s threat is in my humble view,the only way to stop this Barca team.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Real Madrid having the edge over Barca next season.

  • sheesh

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    As good as Barcas youth program obviously is… it’s still a bit fortunate, that they’d have 3 of the top 5 in the world in the team at the same time… it’s similar to our class of 92… as much luck as good training.

    What you’re saying is true and, as someone on here said, Spanish teams get to pick the elite youngsters from all over Spain and they’re not restricted like we are with this stupid 90 mile rule (or whatever it is). As Fergie said, the Spanish coaches get more time with the youngsters as well.

    With these sorts of conditions, however, who’s to say that Barcelona couldn’t go and produce another batch of youngsters that are almost as talented as the likes of Xavi and Iniesta?

    I’d say it’s probably more likely for something like that to happen in Spain than in England because Spanish players are technically better than English players. Same with Latin American players No wonder clubs like United have such a focus on finding South American players.

    That aside, there’s no getting away from the fact that Barcelona have set a new benchmark in terms of how the game should be played. The only way other clubs are going to compete is by investing heavily in transfers in the short-term and for there to be a total overhaul of the academy system in the long-term.

  • vlad

    i wonder… do Barcelona usually loan away talented youngsters from La Masia, to Hercules for example?

    Do they regard it as a decent way for boys to mature or do they give them a 1st team chance?

  • sheesh

    edit – double post

  • sheesh

    Barcelona midfielder Xavi has revealed that he was tempted to move to Manchester United earlier in his career, according to the Evening Standard.

    The Spanish World Cup winner is an intrinsic part of a Barca midfield that won the Champions League is stunning fashion against Manchester United.

    And after tormenting United, the maestro says he was close to joining the club sometime ago.

    “There was a long time when I genuinely thought about accepting United’s offer and moving to Manchester,” Xavi told the London Evening Standard.

    “I needed a change of scenery and things were not going well for me at Barcelona. I have always felt a real attachment to English football and Manchester United would be my club in England.

    “The truth was that for a long chunk of my career, when it looked like I was the successor to Pep Guardiola in midfield, I was made to feel like an outsider, a bad guy for taking over from the legendary captain.

    “We are not good at handling change here. The new guy is sometimes looked at like the bad guy. What made the difference is that I’m as stubborn as a mule. I thought about going to United but I dug my heels in.

    “I was obstinate and I said to myself ‘I need to prove myself here’.”

    *Cue crywank*

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    alright bored of reading all this shite about how good barcelona are and how they hammered us and their supposedly amazing football that we should copy even tho its not us and these amazing kids and all the other shite

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    sheesh said:
    That aside, there’s no getting away from the fact that Barcelona have set a new benchmark in terms of how the game should be played.

    This is something I keep hearing… “we should all aspire to play like Barcelona”… just my opinion, but that is complete horse shit.
    Can you imagine 2 Barcelonas facing up to each other… fuck me… could the game of football get any more boring?
    I personally think Ferguson had the right idea… have a go, and see if you can get after their defense… people here such as Cal, think we should have packed the midfield, parked the bus, and HOPED to knick a goal… in other words, combat Barcelonas tippy-tappy possession, with defensive dreck… where is the entertainment?
    I keep hearing crap like, we could have had Modric and Sneijder and fuck knows what, and still been taken to the wood shed by this “greatest team of all time”… again I say bollocks… if we’d have had better players in midfield, a more experienced striker, and the confidence and composure to use our own possession better… we could have beaten Barcelona…
    Ferguson says the challenge now is to beat Barcelona… given the right players, I think he can do it… but he has to go back to the REAL United… not this half-arsed nonsense he’s been playing about with for the past 10 years.
    Some will think I’m mad… but I think the team of 99 could have beat Barcelona.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    You are mad!!!

    Only if that team had Keane/Butt/Scholes starting with Scholes closer to Cole in a 4-5-1. If they are set-up in a classic 4-4-2 Keane or Scholes would have been sent off as they would have lashed out in frustration.

    By the way, we have Rooney so we do not need a replacement for Paul Scholes..

  • sheesh

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    This is something I keep hearing… “we should all aspire to play like Barcelona”… just my opinion, but that is complete horse shit.
    Can you imagine 2 Barcelonas facing up to each other… fuck me… could the game of football get any more boring?
    I personally think Ferguson had the right idea… have a go, and see if you can get after their defense… people here such as Cal, think we should have packed the midfield, parked the bus, and HOPED to knick a goal… in other words, combat Barcelonas tippy-tappy possession, with defensive dreck… where is the entertainment?
    I keep hearing crap like, we could have had Modric and Sneijder and fuck knows what, and still been taken to the wood shed by this “greatest team of all time”… again I say bollocks… if we’d have had better players in midfield, a more experienced striker, and the confidence and composure to use our own possession better… we could have beaten Barcelona…
    Ferguson says the challenge now is to beat Barcelona… given the right players, I think he can do it… but he has to go back to the REAL United… not this half-arsed nonsense he’s been playing about with for the past 10 years.
    Some will think I’m mad… but I think the team of 99 could have beat Barcelona.

    Well done, Alf. You’ve completely missed my point. When I said that Barcelona have set a new benchmark in how the game should be played, I was referring to the way they dominate and bully teams – which, funnily enough, is something we used to do. I’m not saying we need to copy their exact style of play (although we could learn a thing or 2 from them about ball retention).
    “I keep hearing crap like, we could have had Modric and Sneijder and fuck knows what, and still been taken to the wood shed by this “greatest team of all time””
    Who on here has said anything like this? Come on, start naming names before people accuse you of making shit up.

  • http://none ian

    No-one is saying we should aspire to play like Barca; under SAF we never will. What we are saying is that we should learn a lesson or two from them. Have full backs who don’t suffer from oxygen deprivation & brain seizure when they get in the opponents box. Have a defensive midfielder like Busquets who protects the back four, supplements the front five, is always available & passes the ball forwards. Have world quality in midfield. Have the wingers make a bigger contribution than just staying on the whitewash. How much of this do you disagree with Alf?

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    I didn’t miss your point Sheesh… and quit taking things personally ffs…
    Just because I quoted YOUR post… you just happen to best represent the point of view, (that many share), that I take exception to.
    I don’t think this Barcelona team is as good as everyone else seems to think, and I don’t particularily like the way they play.
    They gave us a right good hiding… absolutely… but any team with 3 of the best players in the world… and a few other good’ns as well… is likely to do that.
    I happen to think they’re very beatable… and I think we could have done it… if we’df have had a better midfield and a better striker.
    And for the last bit…
    “Posted by unregistered user: Ashish
    The fact of the matter is that United could have Sneijder and Modric playing in midfield and could have STILL lost against Barca last Saturday.”
    But it’s not just him… and it’s not just here at Rant… the vast majority seem to be in love with this Barca team… I don’t get it… and I hope I never do.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Blog Commenter said:
    No-one is saying we should aspire to play like Barca; under SAF we never will. What we are saying is that we should learn a lesson or two from them. Have full backs who don’t suffer from oxygen deprivation & brain seizure when they get in the opponents box. Have a defensive midfielder like Busquets who protects the back four, supplements the front five, is always available & passes the ball forwards. Have world quality in midfield. Have the wingers make a bigger contribution than just staying on the whitewash. How much of this do you disagree with Alf?

    Oh fuck off… you’re not saying anything I haven’t already said.

    In fact I’ve gone a lot further and claimed we could have beaten Barcelona with a better midfiled.

  • herbie simms

    Do you think also that the main problem could be that SAF is still playing that sixties style football? This is 2011 and the style of football has changed since the 1960′s. Its the style of football that Barcelona play that makes them a great team. Arsenal play that one touch football and if their players were a lot tougher, they would win something.
    Speaking of Ashley Young, I hope it is true that he now wants to join Liverpool. SAF can put that 16 million on someone that will really add quality to the team. Its good to hear that Gareth Bale is showing some interest in a move.
    Maybe 25 million for a natural left footed winger. It would make more sense to go for Bale instead of Young!

    • mongoletsi

      // Do you think also that the main problem could be that SAF is still playing that sixties style football? //

      No. Are you on crack? Actually, are you Andy Townsend in disguise?

  • bman

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I didn’t miss your point Sheesh… and quit taking things personally ffs…

    Just because I quoted YOUR post… you just happen to best represent the point of view, (that many share), that I take exception to.

    I don’t think this Barcelona team is as good as everyone else seems to think, and I don’t particularily like the way they play.

    They gave us a right good hiding… absolutely… but any team with 3 of the best players in the world… and a few other good’ns as well… is likely to do that.

    I happen to think they’re very beatable… and I think we could have done it… if we’df have had a better midfield and a better striker.

    And for the last bit…

    “Posted by unregistered user: Ashish
    The fact of the matter is that United could have Sneijder and Modric playing in midfield and could have STILL lost against Barca last Saturday.”

    But it’s not just him… and it’s not just here at Rant… the vast majority seem to be in love with this Barca team… I don’t get it… and I hope I never do.

    Come on, you have to admit that they are a wonderful side. There’s a lot to admire about them: they win and they win in some style.

    But I agree with you that they’re not unbeatable. Unfortunately our team happens to match up against them particularly badly. It’s not just the quality of the teams that count, because of the players we have and the way we are set up to play, I think we have a tougher job against Barca than teams like Chelsea and Arsenal that are otherwise inferior to us.

    But Rooney’s goal, terrific as it was, also showed that they’re really not at all watertight at the back, and in fact they’ve conceded a lot more goals than us in the CL this season.

    I think even if we’d had certain players (Modric, Sneijder whoever), Barca would still be better than us in a series of 10 games, but they’ve been playing together for the long time, and they have the magic combination of a “golden generation” of home grown players plus vast amounts of money to keep them and buy top class talent.

    Put it this way: Barca’s wage bill is about £240M, which is about £100M more than ours. Barca spent about 70M euro on Ibra (including Eto as a makeweight) then offloaded him after a season for a 50M loss, and bought Villa for 40M at the same time to replace him. Put’s our Berbatov situation in perspective, dunnit?

    People go on about the magic of Barca, and they do play some magnificent football. But everybody conveniently forgets that the team depends on spending money that would make City blush.

    The thing that’s annoying is the way the Spanish league is designed to funnel all the cash to Barca and Real, is this going to lead to a permanent Barca-Real domination of the rest of Europe, since the leagues in other countries either bring in less money (e.g. Italy) or divvy up their spoils much more evenly (e.g. the PL)?

  • Ashish

    I doubt whether any opposition team can beat Barca by fighting fire with fire,calling a spade a spade,and by playing attacking football.

    There is practically no team capable of beating Barca at their own game.

    The fact that Barca didn’t even feel the need to cheat their way to winning against Utd showed just how poor Utd are…..unlike against Real Madrid in the semis.

    • vlad

      Bollocks
      We were better’n Madrid.
      And yes we should ‘Attack, Attack, Attack’.

      We should have let Cleverley learn by playing alongside Paul Scholes before he retired. He could not learn half that at Wigan.
      AFAIK of the ’92 class only Becks was loaned away. Scholes was not loaned, nor was Giggs, nor Nevilles, nor Butt.

      • Ashish

        Well we can only attack only if we have possession.

        I doubt whether Utd can ‘attack,attack,attack’ by just having 30% of the possession……which was the case last Saturday.

        Whenever Utd won the ball back,the players lost possession instead of launching a counter attack.

        When Real Madrid had 30% of the possession in the league game against Barca at the Bernabeu…they had created twice the number of chances compared to Barca.

        • vlad

          We did not have possession because we did not know what to do with the ball, barring Rooney and VDS.

  • Geno

    Can’t say I’m excited about the prospect of Ashley Young coming across to United, although to be fair he can play on the left wing and would be a decent, albeit far from outstanding, squad player.

    If the only business Gill and Fergie do this summer is Young, Varane and De Gea, I will be very worried.

    • mongoletsi

      Don’t worry, sources on this board are adamant we’re getting Douglas Costa and maybe Hulk too.

  • ja

    Last summer Barca signed Villa, perhaps the best striker in the world, world cup winner etc, the finished article. He scores when it matters, ie the conclusive goal last Saturday. United signed Hernandez who could become the best striker in the world, but is far from the finished article and faces 2nd season syndrome soon. Plus Bebe.
    Yes Barca made United their bitches, but that was thanks to management being able to target and sign the best, not hopeful punts, or in the case of Bebe, absolutely hopeless punts.

    The United youth team is full of promise and potential, but every team needs a blend of promise and maturity. Unless Gill signs some proper, mature world class talent, United will remain Barca’s bitches till the Glazers and Gill go.

  • captainhormone

    Blog Commenter said:
    Don’t worry, sources on this board are adamant we’re getting Douglas Costa and maybe Hulk too.

    lol

    • mongoletsi

      I swear I check in some days just to see what Herbie has come up with now :o)

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    The “go with the flow..” crowd are out in numbers!! I shudder to think what some people are in real life if on an internet forum with their hidden identities they can not make up their own minds!!

  • dozer

    Alfonso Bedoya said:

    I happen to think they’re very beatable… and I think we could have done it… if we’df have had a better midfield and a better striker.

    If we’d have had a better midfield eh Alf?

  • Ted

    As i’d already said, with an infinitely worse team than 09′ and Barca being even better, people still seem adamant that we could have beaten them?

    As it is and was then, its apparently against FIFA rulings that any team or any individuals within that team be allowed to carry fire arms onto the pitch.

    Cozz that was the only chance we ever had of getting any kind of result.

    And no doubt Carrick would have complained “they’re cheats, they move to quick” and
    Ferdinand and Vidic would have shot Edwin cozz they faced one way all fuckin night.

    Here’s the science bit. Barca did’nt do anything different than what we all came to expect. They did’nt need to change anything!. It was United that had to make all the changes to stand any chance what so ever. And the proof was in the pudding. We failed miserably and humiliation promptly followed.

    Conclusion.

    Invariably when a class act plays an average team, a good shoeing gets dished out.

    I had warned weeks before about Taggarts lack of tactical nouse, and feared he would go with a formation that would try and “out score” Barca? Absolute fuckin suicide!

    Soon our arses will cool off and we’ll all be able to sit down again, but we’ll never be able to change history, and thats what it is now, history.

  • captainhormone

    Ted said:
    As i’d already said, with an infinitely worse team than 09′ and Barca being even better, people still seem adamant that we could have beaten them?

    As it is and was then, its apparently against FIFA rulings that any team or any individuals within that team be allowed to carry fire arms onto the pitch.

    Cozz that was the only chance we ever had of getting any kind of result.

    And no doubt Carrick would have complained “they’re cheats, they move to quick” and
    Ferdinand and Vidic would have shot Edwin cozz they faced one way all fuckin night.

    Here’s the science bit. Barca did’nt do anything different than what we all came to expect. They did’nt need to change anything!. It was United that had to make all the changes to stand any chance what so ever. And the proof was in the pudding. We failed miserably and humiliation promptly followed.

    Conclusion.

    Invariably when a class act plays an average team, a good shoeing gets dished out.

    I had warned weeks before about Taggarts lack of tactical nouse, and feared he would go with a formation that would try and “out score” Barca? Absolute fuckin suicide!

    Soon our arses will cool off and we’ll all be able to sit down again, but we’ll never be able to change history, and thats what it is now, history.

    top post alf

    oh sorry its ted

    lolololololololol

  • bman

    Ted said:

    I had warned weeks before about Taggarts lack of tactical nouse, and feared he would go with a formation that would try and “out score” Barca? Absolute fuckin suicide!

    I can’t believe there are still people out there who think Fergie isn’t a good tactician. If our team is average and Fergie’s hopeless at tactics, how do we win so fucking much?

  • squigs

    Don’t worry those who sit on internet forum’s with no experience of the game at a professional level often blast the wizard on tactics. We went in half time 1-1, at that point it was going well, we looked to be carrying some momentum. The tactics had appeared to have worked. We all know the result of course but the tactics weren’t at fault.

    We weren’t a good enough team over 9 months not just 90 minutes, in football the best team often wins, that’s just life not tactics.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Ted said:
    As i’d already said, with an infinitely worse team than 09′ and Barca being even better, people still seem adamant that we could have beaten them?

    As it is and was then, its apparently against FIFA rulings that any team or any individuals within that team be allowed to carry fire arms onto the pitch.

    Cozz that was the only chance we ever had of getting any kind of result.

    And no doubt Carrick would have complained “they’re cheats, they move to quick” and
    Ferdinand and Vidic would have shot Edwin cozz they faced one way all fuckin night.

    Here’s the science bit. Barca did’nt do anything different than what we all came to expect. They did’nt need to change anything!. It was United that had to make all the changes to stand any chance what so ever. And the proof was in the pudding. We failed miserably and humiliation promptly followed.

    Conclusion.

    Invariably when a class act plays an average team, a good shoeing gets dished out.

    I had warned weeks before about Taggarts lack of tactical nouse, and feared he would go with a formation that would try and “out score” Barca? Absolute fuckin suicide!

    Soon our arses will cool off and we’ll all be able to sit down again, but we’ll never be able to change history, and thats what it is now, history.

    You got that right.

  • herbie simms

    I brought up sixties style football because 80% of United fans on other websites are saying are style of football needs to change. Well this style of football has won us a 19th title and got us into the Champions League final. I read the Glazers are now only giving SAF 50 million to buy new players. I hope this is just a joke because we will need more money then that to get the right players to fix that midfield, plus a new keeper.

  • Dinkinflicker

    We don’t need to change our style of football, we just need 2 or 3 top drawer players. We’re a team in transition and the fact that we won the league and got to a European Cup final is the result of hard work, character and Fergie’s genius. Plus some fuck ups from domestic competion. We have an excellent platform to build on. Buy a good keeper and a couple of genuinely quality midfielders a la Schweinstiger and Sneijder and we’re sorted.

  • Ted

    bman said:
    I can’t believe there are still people out there who think Fergie isn’t a good tactician. If our team is average and Fergie’s hopeless at tactics, how do we win so fucking much?

    Totally blinkered!!

    Its the vast majority of United fans opinions that this is indeed the worst United team to win a title, mine included. Agreed, last season was all about getting that “19th” title which we achieved, but how we got it tells another story.

    It was by far and away the most topsy turvy premiere league to date with no one team showing any great form, and in the end, it was United who happened to stumble over the line first. We’d take that every day of the week of course!

    But what seriously needs addressing is Taggarts stubborness and his failure to adopt team tactics and formations accordingly. We simply dont have the personell anymore which used to allow us the luxury to go out and “out score” the opposition.

    It was quite shocking to see him a broken man at wembley against Barca, and the realistion that after 30 minutes, though it was 1-1, this was only going one way and powerless to do anything about it.

    Some United fans might say it was little bit of justice for a season that flattered us.
    I’m inclined to totally agree.

    There were numerous occassions when we needed to change our approach, we simply was’nt able to oblige.

    Dippers, Arsenal, City, Barca, to name but a few, all games that we was bent over in.

    None of us should hide behind the “We won the league, reached a european cup final, and if we’d have beaten City in the semi” blah! blah! Cozz no matter how hard you try, you can’t polish a turd.

    Too many times last season, we simply was’nt good enough.

    We should count ourself’s lucky we got that 19th.

    Lot of work to be done.

  • sidney

    We finished the season 6 points off what Chelsea won the league with last year

    So that’s just 2 wins difference

    Normally you’d expect us to win more than 5 away games. 7 is more like it, but our incredible home form made up for it so it wasn’t necessary

    So while this team definitely isn’t vintage, it’s not as bad as some people make out. A lot of the naysayers want to either shit on our 19th parade or make themselves feel better for their own clubs’ failings. None of the top 6 teams put in a stunning season.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Ted said:
    Totally blinkered!!
    Its the vast majority of United fans opinions that this is indeed the worst United team to win a title, mine included. Agreed, last season was all about getting that “19th” title which we achieved, but how we got it tells another story.
    It was by far and away the most topsy turvy premiere league to date with no one team showing any great form, and in the end, it was United who happened to stumble over the line first. We’d take that every day of the week of course!
    But what seriously needs addressing is Taggarts stubborness and his failure to adopt team tactics and formations accordingly. We simply dont have the personell anymore which used to allow us the luxury to go out and “out score” the opposition.
    It was quite shocking to see him a broken man at wembley against Barca, and the realistion that after 30 minutes, though it was 1-1, this was only going one way and powerless to do anything about it.
    Some United fans might say it was little bit of justice for a season that flattered us.
    I’m inclined to totally agree.
    There were numerous occassions when we needed to change our approach, we simply was’nt able to oblige.
    Dippers, Arsenal, City, Barca, to name but a few, all games that we was bent over in.
    None of us should hide behind the “We won the league, reached a european cup final, and if we’d have beaten City in the semi” blah! blah! Cozz no matter how hard you try, you can’t polish a turd.
    Too many times last season, we simply was’nt good enough.
    We should count ourself’s lucky we got that 19th.
    Lot of work to be done.

    Fuckin hell…
    “We simply dont have the personell anymore which used to allow us the luxury to go out and “out score” the opposition.”
    We don’t have the personell for any tactic that might be EXPECTED to beat Barcelona… period.
    Ferguson took a gamble that we might get after their weak spot… their defense… and played to attack… had our midfield been even a little bit more composed with the ball, then we MIGHT… I say MIGHT… have scored again.
    This is my opinion on the game… after the debacle that was the Real/Barca semi. and with the world claiming this was the final everyone wanted, and final of the decade… blah, blah, blah… there was an awful lot of pressure on both managers to deliver a good, honest game… Ferguson is no mug… he probably looked at his team, considered his chances, and thought, “fuck it”… I’ve little chance of beating this lot, and parking the bus, is just NOT the United way… everyone expects us to lose anyway… let’s have a go, and see what happens… at least let’s try and give them a game…
    And the MAJORITY of people were happy with the game… and I say again… we probably would have lost anyway… but… a better showing from the midfield, and I think there were more goals in that game for us.
    Quit riding Ferguson… I think he did the best he could with a hopeless situation.

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    riding?

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Riding…

  • bman

    Ted said:
    Totally blinkered!!

    Its the vast majority of United fans opinions that this is indeed the worst United team to win a title, mine included. Agreed, last season was all about getting that “19th” title which we achieved, but how we got it tells another story.

    It was by far and away the most topsy turvy premiere league to date with no one team showing any great form, and in the end, it was United who happened to stumble over the line first. We’d take that every day of the week of course!

    But what seriously needs addressing is Taggarts stubborness and his failure to adopt team tactics and formations accordingly. We simply dont have the personell anymore which used to allow us the luxury to go out and “out score” the opposition.

    You can’t have it both ways. If our team was crap, then Fergie must be doing something right tactically for us to win the title. If we had a crap team and crap tactics, we’d have been in 6th or 7th place.

    And to say Fergie doesn’t adjust his tactics and formations is just absurd. If anything, he should be criticised for the opposite — he’s constantly changing tactics, formation, and personnel from match to match. It’s been really rare from the past 5 or 6 years at least for Fergie to settle on a fairly constant team and formation as he did in the last few months of this season, and he probably had no choice. First, he lacked the personnel to do anything much differently with his midfield: Fletch was crocked, Hargo beyond crocked, Scholes not up to it, Gibson a peripheral player, Anderson not wholly convincing. In contrast, the only reliably well-functioning parts of our squad, beyond the defense, was the pairing of Rooney and Hernandez and Tony V’s storming return from injury.

    What other tactics could Fergie have tried against Barca given the players he had available to him? People say he should have packed the midfield. With who? Scholes is too slow and would have been red-carded in all likelihood. Fletcher wasn’t fit. Anderson? Maybe, but the Anderson-Giggs-Carrick midfield is exactly the same midfield that got outclassed against Barca last time. So he went with the only other option available to him, hoping the Rooney-Hernandez partnership could come good one more time.

    Our squad is full of crocks, old fogies, and young players who don’t look good enough. Tactics will only get so far, we need real options with quality players.

  • Ted

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Fuckin hell…
    “We simply dont have the personell anymore which used to allow us the luxury to go out and “out score” the opposition.”
    We don’t have the personell for any tactic that might be EXPECTED to beat Barcelona… period.
    Ferguson took a gamble that we might get after their weak spot… their defense… and played to attack… had our midfield been even a little bit more composed with the ball, then we MIGHT… I say MIGHT… have scored again.
    This is my opinion on the game… after the debacle that was the Real/Barca semi. and with the world claiming this was the final everyone wanted, and final of the decade… blah, blah, blah… there was an awful lot of pressure on both managers to deliver a good, honest game… Ferguson is no mug… he probably looked at his team, considered his chances, and thought, “fuck it”… I’ve little chance of beating this lot, and parking the bus, is just NOT the United way… everyone expects us to lose anyway… let’s have a go, and see what happens… at least let’s try and give them a game…
    And the MAJORITY of people were happy with the game… and I say again… we probably would have lost anyway… but… a better showing from the midfield, and I think there were more goals in that game for us.
    Quit riding Ferguson… I think he did the best he could with a hopeless situation.

    “The majority of people were happy with the game”
    Fuck my old boots, that statements straight out of Cal’s stable surely.
    “Fergie thought fuck it, its the only way we can play them”
    Well, thats exactly my point. Its that attitude that cost us any chance of getting something from the game. Nobody said we should park the bus, which is just as well is’nt it? But you don’t need to be Sherlock fuckin Holmes to know that Carrick Giggs and Park were never going to get anywhere them. That was just embarrassing.
    The game was a carbon copy of 09′, United like headless chickens for 15 minutes, then seriously schooled. Fergies words aside that we had learn’t our lessons lured people into thinking there’d be some kind of tactical change, a master plan to at least make life a bit more difficult for them. There was’nt, and we did’nt. So we got twatted again!
    I’m not sure where your happy “majority” were from, can only think they was hundreds of miles from Manchester, cozz the club we all watched it in which was a ticket only venue, was all but empty with 25 minutes remaining. And to be fair, hundreds and probably thousands never made the trip down to london for all the same reasons, and thats because everyone feared the same outcome, the team was no secret, nor was how we was going to line up. All far too predictable.
    It was not a hopeless situation. When your 5-0 down from the first leg and you’ve got to go to the Nou Camp for the 2nd leg, thats pretty much as hopeless as it gets.
    Its never a hopeless case when its 0-0 in a one off game on your own turf.
    It was lost in the tunnel Alf, and as good as Barca are, i point the finger at Fergie for not attempting to even try and take preventative measures against their far superior midfield.

    “NOT MANY MANAGERS CAN SAY THEY’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN A NINE GOAL THRILLER AGAINST THE CHAMPIONS”.
    Forest manager Ron Atkinson after they’d just lost 8-1 at home to Manchester United.

  • bman

    Ted said:
    It was lost in the tunnel Alf, and as good as Barca are, i point the finger at Fergie for not attempting to even try and take preventative measures against their far superior midfield.

    OK then, what should he have done?

  • dozer

    ^^^^ Played Anderson?

    Lol what a useless footballer.

  • Ted

    bman said:
    OK then, what should he have done?

    There really was only ever one option bman, and that was try and stifle their style of play. The only way we could achieve that was to play a defencive 3. Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra. With Carrick and Park In between them and a central 5 consisting of Giggs, Fabio, Valencia, Rooney and Nani. The idea being a congested midfield would allow the cockroach to play the lone striker role working across their back line in tight areas, rather than having to wait to run after 45 yard fruitless long balls. The beauty of that system is that Carrick and Park can actually get chance to read the game, as opposed to chasing shadows all night. The downside being you would be limited to actual efforts on goal, but an option to keep the game alive for as long as possible, then who knows what can happen?

    For 2 finals in a row now, when the ball got past Carrick and Park, in an instant Barca were camped 20 yards from our goal. And that was happening 15 minutes into the game yet again? What exactly was it that we was supposed to have learned?

  • bman

    Ted said:
    There really was only ever one option bman, and that was try and stifle their style of play. The only way we could achieve that was to play a defencive 3. Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra. With Carrick and Park In between them and a central 5 consisting of Giggs, Fabio, Valencia, Rooney and Nani. The idea being a congested midfield would allow the cockroach to play the lone striker role working across their back line in tight areas, rather than having to wait to run after 45 yard fruitless long balls. The beauty of that system is that Carrick and Park can actually get chance to read the game, as opposed to chasing shadows all night. The downside being you would be limited to actual efforts on goal, but an option to keep the game alive for as long as possible, then who knows what can happen?

    For 2 finals in a row now, when the ball got past Carrick and Park, in an instant Barca were camped 20 yards from our goal. And that was happening 15 minutes into the game yet again? What exactly was it that we was supposed to have learned?

    That side is beyond experimental, it’s just fantasy-land videogame stuff. Back in reality, playing 3 at the back (and not even three central defenders atleast?) is something we have never done, then you’re talking about having 5 wingers running about in midfield? You’re just clutching at straws, hoping that some magical combination will miraculously overcome the gap in quality between our midfield and Barca’s. I mean, at least if you’d suggested O’Shea in a defensive midfield role, he’s at least fucking played there a few teams and been alright at it.

  • Ted

    bman said:
    That side is beyond experimental, it’s just fantasy-land videogame stuff. Back in reality, playing 3 at the back (and not even three central defenders atleast?) is something we have never done, then you’re talking about having 5 wingers running about in midfield? You’re just clutching at straws, hoping that some magical combination will miraculously overcome the gap in quality between our midfield and Barca’s. I mean, at least if you’d suggested O’Shea in a defensive midfield role, he’s at least fucking played there a few teams and been alright at it.

    O’Shea might get a game in your fantasy land, but not in any cunt else’s.
    Its not about who’s been in defence and who has’nt. Evra Vididc and Ferdinand are our best 3 defenders, thats why they’d be there .You may be so dissillusioned to think that a 4-4-2 was ever going to do the trick. Well it failed miserably in 09′, and was even less efffective this year.
    Cloud fuckin cuckoo land!
    Like i said. The total inability to change anything meant we was doomed before we’d kicked the ball.
    And thats humiliating.

    “NOT MANY MANAGERS CAN SAY THEY’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN A NINE GOAL THRILLER AGAINST THE CHAMPIONS”.
    Forest manager Ron Atkinson after they’d just lost 8-1 at home to Manchester United.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Ted said:
    “The majority of people were happy with the game”

    Fuck my old boots, that statements straight out of Cal’s stable surely.

    “Fergie thought fuck it, its the only way we can play them”

    Well, thats exactly my point. Its that attitude that cost us any chance of getting something from the game. Nobody said we should park the bus, which is just as well is’nt it? But you don’t need to be Sherlock fuckin Holmes to know that Carrick Giggs and Park were never going to get anywhere them. That was just embarrassing.

    The game was a carbon copy of 09′, United like headless chickens for 15 minutes, then seriously schooled. Fergies words aside that we had learn’t our lessons lured people into thinking there’d be some kind of tactical change, a master plan to at least make life a bit more difficult for them. There was’nt, and we did’nt. So we got twatted again!

    I’m not sure where your happy “majority” were from, can only think they was hundreds of miles from Manchester, cozz the club we all watched it in which was a ticket only venue, was all but empty with 25 minutes remaining. And to be fair, hundreds and probably thousands never made the trip down to london for all the same reasons, and thats because everyone feared the same outcome, the team was no secret, nor was how we was going to line up. All far too predictable.

    It was not a hopeless situation. When your 5-0 down from the first leg and you’ve got to go to the Nou Camp for the 2nd leg, thats pretty much as hopeless as it gets.
    Its never a hopeless case when its 0-0 in a one off game on your own turf.

    It was lost in the tunnel Alf, and as good as Barca are, i point the finger at Fergie for not attempting to even try and take preventative measures against their far superior midfield.

    Not everyone who watched that game were United fans, you numpty… nor Barca fans for that matter… and if you read the post game reports from neutral press… they were generous in their praise of BOTH teams for giving us a fairly open, honest, and exciting game… no one gave United much of a chance in the first place, and the final result was nothing more or less than what was expected… in fact, most pundits predicted an even more one sided scoreline…

    Whatever… I always love it when armchair know-it-alls get their little peckers out, and try to tell us all that they know better than Ferguson.

  • bman

    Ted said:
    O’Shea might get a game in your fantasy land, but not in any cunt else’s.

    Its not about who’s been in defence and who has’nt. Evra Vididc and Ferdinand are our best 3 defenders, thats why they’d be there .You may be so dissillusioned to think that a 4-4-2 was ever going to do the trick. Well it failed miserably in 09′, and was even less efffective this year.
    Cloud fuckin cuckoo land!

    I think you’re getting really confused now. Our formation against Barca this time round was not the same formation we played in 09, that’s pretty basic to the whole debate.

  • Ted

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Not everyone who watched that game were United fans, you numpty… nor Barca fans for that matter… and if you read the post game reports from neutral press… they were generous in their praise of BOTH teams for giving us a fairly open, honest, and exciting game…

    Of course i forgot! The venue we watched it at was full of bitters and dippers and Renty’s and thats probably why they’d all left? Thats a Cal special.

    The press generous in their praise of both teams for an honest open exciting game?

    I think you’ll find that an open game is when two teams go toe to toe all over the park, not one way traffic. Honesty? Well can’t you be? Exciting? Where was that game, as in 09′ ever exciting?

    When it comes to the post match press, you’ll find the words magnanimous and diplomatic far more appropriate.

    “Armchair fans”

    I bow to your “Big Redness”

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    I see… if they weren’t at Wembley… they don’t exist.
    The losing fans never enjoy the game, but the rest of the WORLD, was grateful that Ferguson didn’t resort to the same horrible shit that Mourinho played… and decided to actually have a go…
    I do appreciate the fact that you didn’t deny, that you think you know better than Ferguson though… 3 at the back… fuckin hell…

    Indeed…

    “Badges, to god-damned hell with badges! We have no badges. In fact, we don’t need badges. I don’t have to show you any stinking badges, you god-damned cabrón and ching’ tu madre! Come out from that shit-hole of yours. I have to speak to you.”

  • Ted

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I see… if they weren’t at Wembley… they don’t exist.

    The losing fans never enjoy the game, but the rest of the WORLD, was grateful that Ferguson didn’t resort to the same horrible shit that Mourinho played… and decided to actually have a go…

    I do appreciate the fact that you didn’t deny, that you think you know better than Ferguson though… 3 at the back… fuckin hell…

    Indeed…

    Massive Red.