Hope and despair

May 1, 2012 Tags: , , Reads 86 comments

Scrutinising Sir Alex Ferguson’s team sheet for the first time shortly after 7.15pm on Monday night many Reds were reminded of that old John Cleese jibe. You know the one about it not being the despair, but the hope that he could not stand. Mercifully, for those fans suffering under the strain of the Premier League run-in, all hope was swiftly killed by Sir Alex’ selection. Not for the first time supporters can be thankful to the great man, although far from the manner in which many have become accustomed over the past 25 years.

The team selection was, after all, patently absurd to those who stood in bars or on terraces and observed, mouths collectively aghast, as the Scot sought to meet Manchester City’s vibrancy and athleticism with a quartet of players unfit for the task. Fortunate, then, for those desperate to end the pain of hope that Ferguson should compound his irresistible urge to tinker by moving United’s better players around, or indeed, out of the team altogether.

What amusement Sir Alex must have found in deploying Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ryan Giggs and Park Ji-Sung – each of whom was so undercooked for United’s biggest game of the season that it was unfair to expect anything less than sub-par performances. How the Scot japed when dropping Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck, or shifting 33 goal striker Wayne Rooney away from the deeper position in which he has flourished this season.

Except the joke was all on supporters who gathered in the hope that United could stop City’s oil-fueled juggernaut for this season at least. It quickly turned to despair.

It is hard to point the finger of criticism at players – it is not the United way. After all, many of these players were placed in an impossibly difficult position.

Smalling was drafted in as an emergence centre back following Jonny Evans’ injury against the Toffees last weekend. The former Fulham defender has suffered with injury recently, starting a league game for the first time this year at Eastlands. It was hardly the youngster’s fault, but Smalling’s rustiness was exposed repeatedly on the night, not least by Vincent Kompany’s 45th minute winning goal.

With one enforced change in defence it made little sense to willingly foist another upon the team. Jones has suffered a nightmare run-in, with injuries and a dramatic loss of form hampering the teenager’s progress in all of the three positions that Ferguson has deployed the 19-year-old.

In truth Jones was a bizarre choice at right-back, selected apparently for his height, but displaying all the ‘headless chicken’ qualities that had fans mocking comparisons with the late, great, Duncan Edwards. Shouts of “Duncan! Duncan!” rang around one bar packed with more than 500 Reds on each occasion Jones’ first touch was heavy, and the second was inevitably a tackle.

Meanwhile, Rafael was dropped after one poor performance in the past three months – that against Everton last weekend. In truth it was the kind of slack defensive show that Ferguson’s favourite lieutenant Patrice Evra has descended to on an almost weekly basis.

Yet, the United manager’s odd team selection didn’t end with the back-four. In midfield Ferguson drafted in both Giggs and Park – two players who have between them produced zero stellar performances this season. The Welshman is a genuine legend in an era when that superlative is greatly abused. But, it is a painful truth to admit that the 39-year-old has also suffered, by some considerable distance, his worst ever season in a United shirt.

Good job for those still burdened with hope, Cleese might add, that Giggs was made to “run up and down the bloody touchline” by Ferguson – the very the role United’s manager admitted four years ago that the Welshman could no longer perform.

And if Giggs’ 75 per cent pass completion rate was not wasteful enough, then Sir Alex followed up the Welshman’s inclusion by deploying Park – a player whose one-time epithet of ‘three lungs’ now looks embarrassingly wayward. Thankfully, the former PSV player only touched the ball 17 times – falling over more often than not, those of a crueler persuasion might add.

Unfortunately, Park’s direct competitor Yaya Touré made four times as many passes, as the Ivorian stamped his undoubted authority on the match.

Elsewhere Rooney was moved from the ‘hole’, disrupting a vibrant and productive partnership with Welbeck, and forcing the Scouser to plough a very lonely furrow up front. Meanwhile, United’s most productive player in recent months, Valencia, was dropped for the supposedly more defensively secure Park. It beggared belief.

Yet, none of this really mattered compared to the style in which United played; negative, scared and inhibited. This too was not the United way, and it was becoming neither of players nor manager to perform in fashion that yielded not a single shot on target all night. It was the first time that United had stooped to that particular low in more than three years.

In truth, although Ferguson had vehemently proclaimed otherwise pre-match, United sought nothing more than parity with City and paid a stiff penalty. Ferguson’s team got the defeat the selection, tactics and attitude fully deserved.

Patently, the Scot did not trust a midfield pairing of Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes that had been over-run by Everton the weekend before. With good reason – Scholes’ 37-year-old legs looked their age against the Merseysiders for the first time since the midfielder’s reintroduction to the United team in January. Carrick, outstanding all season, retreated into his shell.

On the night the pair simply could not cope with City’s energy, even if the pass completion ratio was at more than 90 per cent. That neither player made more than 50 successful passes tells a more pertinent story though. Carrick has exceeded 100 numerous times this season, but was unable to exert any control over proceedings on Monday night.

If parking the bus was designed to gain United a point then fans can ask whether the Reds genuinely held a contingency plan? After all, Valencia did not enter the field until the game was almost up, while Ashley Young saw just six minutes of action. United’s caution, as Roberto Mancini astutely observed in the aftermath, was the side’s undoing. City simply wanted victory more.

Little wonder that Ferguson was apoplectic on the sidelines. But it is not unfair to suggest that his ire was directed inwards, and towards neither Mancini, nor the officials. The Scot’s team selection universally backfired, while the tactical approach has brought little bar condemnation.

Moreover, failure at Eastlands simply compounds the real problem this season – United is likely to lose the Premier League title not solely because of double-defeat to City, but through dropped points against Blackburn Rovers, Everton and Wigan Athletic. In each United was exposed both by the opposition and outrageous complacency. The team has proven itself simply not good enough to play with conceit.

The words of a spoilt generation, some will argue. But few Reds want a return to, say, the 1980s when United was subservient not to City, but Liverpool. Yet, this is the doomsday scenario prompted by such comprehensive defeat.

As more than one observer mused today, City’s victory and probable title win could be the springboard for a period of domination. The club will be able to strengthen from a very healthy position, removing any dead wood and unwanted distractions, while leveraging Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth to acquire almost any player available.

Meanwhile, United is quite obviously playing catch-up, with Ferguson at the very limit of his almost limitless power to extract far more than the sum of the parts from his squad. When the greatest manager in the game’s history also makes calamitous mistakes, as he did on Monday, everything falls apart.

City’s victory may be a portent of things to come. United has lost 11 times this season, while exiting four cup competitions at an early stage. It is likely to be United’s first trophyless season for eight years. That glorious run is to Ferguson’s eternal credit during an era of Glazer-inspired parsimony that has eroded the squad’s quality-in-depth.

Nobody should question Ferguson’s ability, but his choices on Monday were proven disastrously wrong. Unfortunately, the talent available is such that United no longer has a margin for error.

And if – it still remains an “if” – United is to end the campaign without silverware then the nightmare scenario of Liverpool, City and perhaps even Chelsea each claiming glory at home or abroad will remind supporters of a certain generation that the club has no divine right to victory. There is no shame coming second as long as there is a strategy to compete.

And that is the rub, of course. Fans fear, with ample evidence, that United simply cannot or will not compete with rivals in the Premier League or Europe. Queue, cynics might add, the soon-to-come proclamations of a belief in youth, the lack of value in the market, or the apparent talent in droves held by Park, Anderson, Michael Owen, Bébé or any other under-performing budget purchase.

But eventually fans will shake off Monday’s disappointment. Slowly, optimism will return, even if the Premier League trophy is paraded in front of Manchester Town Hall on a Blue open-top bus.

Whatever the summer brings, eventually hope will raise its head once again; the despair of Monday night forgotten. Until, of course, the next occasion on which United turns out, without truly turning up. It’s the hope that hurts the most.


dozer - May 1, 2012 Reply

Fergie is suffering from a bit of Wengerism, he overrates his own players. I’m not sure what he’s got against the twins, they’re our best talents and they should be playing more, not Jones.
Fabio is going out on loan, but why? We don’t have enough natural full backs at the club. Evra isn’t getting any younger. Jones will benefit hugely from a loan deal. He’s talented that lad but currently crap.
Young, Smalling and De Gea have done well, 3 buys out of 4 turned out well so far. But where are our midfielders?
Pogba leaving can be a blessing in disguise for our team, the last thing we need is an undercooked midfield player playing more next season. If Giggs and Scholes are on end end of the age scale, Pogba is be on the other. I’d rather he stayed and went on loan, but if he wants to leave, let him go.
Hopefully next season Cleverley will play more, he seems ready and hungry and most importantly, good enough to be given a chance.
My unrealistic expectations are for Anderson to be sold, Jones to be loaned, Fabio to stay and us getting an establised DM, and a upcoming left back. Oh and 4-3-3 please. We lose out to the stronger teams because the battle is lost at midfield. Didn’t we win the champions league with this formation?

Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.

DeadRevel - May 2, 2012 Reply

Rafael and Fabio are both technically better, faster and less prone to errors than Jones or Evra.

This is the truth.

Drew - May 1, 2012 Reply

Completely agree with you mate. United have always, always, always played with a verve and attacking intent that has been the envy of almost every club in the world, and certainly of the clubs in this country. The fact that Ferguson didn’t feel that his team was good enough to compete with City playing that style is depressing enough, but his lack of faith in certain players is even more worrying. He clearly doesn’t trust Rooney to put in a defensive performance in the number 10 role, and like you say, Rafael getting dropped after one poor performance was grossly unfair, particularly with Jones’ dramatic dip in form. What does that say to Rafa? One bad performance and you’re out? And what now for Rooney? In my opinion, he doesn’t quite have what it takes to play the number 10 like Ozil and Silva, but until United get a player of real quality in that position he will have to, but then again Fergie clearly doesn’t trust him in that position in games of real importance. Hopefully people won’t be appeased by another summer of sub-standard performance in the transfer market and ‘making do’…

Denton Davey - May 1, 2012 Reply

Another match dominated by the absence of DarrenFletcherinho. As much as CaptainVidic has been missed, the impact from the enforced-absence of the “football genius” has been much, much greater. Now, rumour has it, he’s going to retire. If UTD sign one player in the summer then it has to be a “replacement” for Fletcher to give drive and bite to the engine-room.

han - May 1, 2012 Reply

anderson should be off loaded
useless lump
park, owen, berba, bebe will also move on
we are severely screwed in the midield area – but thats nowt new
major rebuilding beckons but doubt we have the funds despite being the world’s most valuable club

Rob MacGregor - May 1, 2012 Reply

This team have let us down in the Champions League,against Bilbao,against Crystal Palace and have lost their way.I am not optimistic against Swansea,and certainly not against Sunderland.Even if Newcastle beat or draw with the ‘Yahoos’.
This is the lowest point I have been since we were relegated.
Last chance will be the new signings.Of course I expect there to be ‘No Value’ in the market and other excuses.
Well the future’s not bright,the future’s Glazer and he’s a pain.I hope this team does not have an adverse effect on the manager’s health.They have on the rest of us.

eltricolor2014 - May 1, 2012 Reply

I wonder if SAF would have fielded a more robust team if United only ponied up for Sniejder. Seriously, faults will always be with youngters (Jones, Smalling, Rafael, Evans to some degree) and they are improving but we have such a poor and uncreative midfield. God Bless Scholes but only he could do so much against a City midfield trio and Toure running unstoppable. Still, I thought SAF would have fielded the team that beat City in the FA round in Jan. but as you might recall, City was without Toure in that game. How different would it be with Javi Garcia as defensive midfielder and a Hazard/Cleverly combo up front? It all depends if Glazers are willing to spend the money. They certainly weren’t willing with Sniejder.

Phantom - May 1, 2012 Reply

How we as fans see all this things and Fergie doesn’t is amazing. How did Giggs play 90 mins for the 2nd game in a row while being our worst player? As has been said, he knows City have a better squad and was not confident in taking them on head-on man for man.
The sad part is there is no money to strengthen. He is never really trusted and allowed to learn from his mistakes.Jones has been nothing but horrific in recent weeks. He could even have thrown Tony V at RB for fucks sake. Jones excelled at CB from Blackburn but I cannot recall a game he played there.
If we could sign some players(we can’t), I’d go for maybe a Mario Goetze, an LB that the scouts SHOULD have in mind, M’Villa, and Higuain. Out: Owen, Anderson,Jones(loan),Park,Macheda,Bebe.Almost 0% chance of any of the signings happening. City will definitely strengthen as we know. It’s okay to have hope…

Alfonso Bedoya - May 1, 2012 Reply

There’s a lot of complaining going around… and a lot of finger pointing.

It simply amazes me, some of the stick Ferguson is getting on this site… and Jones??? ridiculous.

Jones is just a kid… one for the future who showed enough early promise to get more games than he’s actually ready for… but I’ve no doubt at all, that in a couple years, he’ll be a monster player for United…

But getting back to Ferguson… the fickle nature of some of the fans here makes me cringe… he’s a cunt, he’s a genius, he’s a senile cunt, he’s a genius, etc…

Go back to the off season, and check out the ridiculous optimism about transfers…

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/232898/-100m-to-rebuild-Manchester-United/... and everyone had heavy wood, how that was going to be spent… then fell into fits of laughter, when all we got was Young, and Jones.

Last year, every one was claiming we overachieved, and we wouldn’t get away with it again… but what do you know??? we’re top again… without any real improvement… that’s down to Ferguson… this team has no business competing with City… and you all expected us to finish second best to them before the season started… so why then, when they beat us 1-0 on their patch, are you all pissing and moaning? You can say Ferguson made a mess of it, if you want… but once again, you make all your arguments with hindsight… most of you expected us to get hammered…

We didn’t lose the title last night… last night should have been an irrelevance… we lost it at home to Everton… but even that isn’t the real issue.

Ferguson has taken this team, which is almost universally accepted as average at best by United standards, and kept us competitive… that is nothing short of a fuckin miracle.

Without Rooney, and Scholes, and our defence we are a shit team… SHIT!!!

But you lot go ahead and point your pudgy little fingers at Rooney,(26 goals)… and Jones,(18 years old)… and Ferguson,(tied for top with 2 games left, with this squad of geriatrics, and average talent)… if it makes you feel better…

shuddertothink - May 1, 2012 Reply

Alfonso, I agree about where the title was not so much as lost, but where Man Utd’s grip on it was loosened. It’s home form. The City result was a freak result and this is being said by a City fan, just a weird freak result. But, Blackburn at home, Everton at home, Newcastle at home were results that could and should have been avoided.

In the last 9 years the team with the best overall home form has gone on to win the Premier League. It’s at home, where Utd have been, at times, complacent that the league was lost.

It wasn’t lost in last nights game, which was always going to be a tough game. It was lost amid the slackness and the complacency of the Blackburn defeat and the 4-4 last week

Will - May 2, 2012 Reply

Have to agree. Jones is copping some rather unfair criticism. He was the great new hope only a few months ago. I think United have done OK this season in the league given the age of the squad, both at the bottom and top end. I would be interested to hear United fans in a fortnight should City blow it and we pick up the requisite 6 points.

Tourettes at the KOB - May 2, 2012 Reply


opinions will still be the same, major investment is required if we are to keep up with the council house tennants.
Another scenario, is that that city drop points at Newcastle, then we manage to fuck it up again by not winning at Sunderland! watch and wait !!!

Will - May 3, 2012 Reply

True. Opinions may stay the same at heart, and I agree investment is most definitely required, still I can’t get on board with this vehement reaction: I’m soft I guess!

shuddertothink - May 1, 2012 Reply

This is an excellent piece, Ed. I think you gave it exactly the right tone.

There is an awful lot that could be said about United’s medium to long term strategy, not a lot of it would be overly positive.

If you have say 3 needs in the squad that could be filled with purchases in order to compete, what would those needs be in your opinion? Or, is it more than that?

I was almost stunned by United’s lack of intent to, if not attack, then at least be better in keeping possession, pressure the opposition. I have never seen you guys play like that in a Premier League fixture before, so passive and an almost shy acceptance that the opposition were superior to yourselves. Very Strange

sheesh - May 1, 2012 Reply

To be fair, Alf, I think you overstate the extent of what we have ‘achieved’.
Let’s face it, it’s been a poor season for the top teams if we’re talking about the standard of football. Arsenal and Chelsea have been average and only got their acts together later on in the season. Tottenham over-achieved and then, predictably, collapsed. Yet these sides are still far better than the rest of the dross in the league simply because their squads are still ahead of the lesser sides. Liverpool have stood still under Dalglish.
I think we did well in spite of our injuries but having that experience to just hang in there has probably made a difference between battling for the title and scrapping for top 4.
As I said last night, I believe City would have won the league much sooner had Tevez not kicked off and had they not had problems with Balotelli.
Newcastle are one of the few teams that have genuinely impressed me this season. They’ve shown a lot of character in terms of winning when not playing well but also playing some really good football in other matches as well.
A season where City (could) end up winning the league, Chelsea win FA Cup and/or Champions League, Vermin could win the FA Cup to go with the League Cup – whilst we could end up with nothing. Look at our own performances in those competitions. That’s a poor season, right there.

bman - May 2, 2012 Reply

Yeah I agree with that, Alf. also, Carrick and Rooney were both excellent last night, it’s ridiculous to say they weren’t. Maybe Rooney less so towards the end, but by that stage our formation was pretty improvised. He was keen, penetrative, hungry in the first half, just had no support. Bu when you look at our midfield: Giggs, park, and Scholes had no right being there, they are the simply because there’s no one else. Literally no one else, except Cleverly, but perhaps he was crocked since he didn’t even make the bench.
I feel like I’m usually contradicting the majority on here come the end of the season in terms of how many players we need, but now it really is dire. No midfield reinforcements last year, when I was we’d get at least one. Then Fletch has to quit, then clevery gets injured for the whole season, then Ando proves once and for all to be worthless, then Pogba decides to fuck off. I looked at that line up last night, and we were a team held together with string and sticking tape.

bman - May 2, 2012 Reply

TBH I don’t even care that much if we win the league somehow now. city are the best team, everyone knows it, and they’ve proven it in both our league matches. Winning now would feel like winning on a technicality, and would be a damning indictment of Mancini, because that team is clearly less than the sum of its parts, their squad should have left ours in the dust.

This season we’ve gone from being “weak for a Utd side” to being fundamentally broken in midfield. Barca thrashed us twice with their midfield dominance, and we’ve done nothing to fix the situation. Now these season any decent team in Europe with a strong midfield and a decent manager has us completely figured out. We’re like Arsenal — we place well in the league, but come the big games you know the top sides have their number (less so this season because some of the other top sides in the PL are equally flawed in key areas).

I can accept not winning things, I can’t accept the club just going to shit without making any serious effort to save itself while 40-50 million quid a year is pissed away on debt, or even more.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - May 2, 2012 Reply

the last half an hour was horrific, between mancini making fergie look like a cunt on the touchline, rooney visibly giving up, fergie again slumping into his chair looking out of ideas in a massive game, pointless phelan next to him yawning, us trying to build up a head of steam and yet not being allowed out of our own half, or even out of the corner for what mustve been about four minutes, their players fucking laughing and joking with the subs as they take throw ins,at no point were they put under pressure, we’re gone and they know it, they battered utd in every way except the scoreline, which they’d already done at ot

Herbie Simms - May 2, 2012 Reply

Sorry but SAF is to blame for the tactics he used in the game against Man City. The whole world is talking about that! Yes I agree he has down a great job with an average team and put us again at the top of the league. But he has made some very bad team selections throughout the season and if it was not for this, we would have already won the EPL by now. There is no excuse to be 8 points clear at this point of the season and then go and blow it all. This is unheard of at Man United, I will not accept this and its time for SAF to retire. Okay, SAF is now saying that he is going to spend heavily this summer on new players. Well if thats the case, I will give him another season in charge because I know he wants to win another Champions League title before he retires and the players he intends to bring in, we will be very strong come next season. But the question for me still remains. At 71 years old, can he get his team selection and tactics right to produce a team that can win trophies? Has he or is he slowly losing his touch? Time will tell. We can still win the EPL as there is more drama to come.

uncleknobheadforfucksake - May 2, 2012 Reply

too much stick for giggsy, fergie hung him out to dry, he’s not been a proper winger since about 2004, especially not a 433 one who’s gotta quickly get up and support, he’s a scheming creative sort now, and he’s still our most creative in the middle of the park, passing stats have never mattered with him cause he tries clever stuff that our other bland side shuffling players couldn’t dream of

Murfinhio88 - May 2, 2012 Reply

Would really love to know what fergie has up his sleeve for the summer.. I mean our midfield options at the moment consists of Carrick, Scholes(37, out of contract in the summer), Giggs(39), Fletcher(Ill, possibly retiring), Anderson(Injury prone, fat, not very good at football), Cleverly(Injury prone, unproven), Pogba(Leaving), Park(Declining, struggles to keep posession and his balance) and Jones(Three sheets to the wind).. And supposedly only 25 million to spend!! Midfield could be a barren place next season.. Transfer window always fills me with hope though, despair can wait until September the first..

Marlon - May 2, 2012 Reply

Can’t believe how much stick fergie is taking. ‘time to retire’. you’ve got to be joking. Firstly, who is better for man utd? People say the choices he made were wrong in the city game, but the stats tell a different story. city had 26 crosses – only Kompany connected with his cross. Aguero – their top scorer – did not have a shot on target. Whilst we did not have a shot on target (can’t defend that) we had a few breaks which were wasted on bad decision-making. Had we gone 4-4-1-1 as we have this season it would have been man for man against city. How many of those battles do we win? At best you can say its a lottery – who scores most. Fergie did not want to leave what had become our game of the season to chance.
This season he has largely played 4-4-1-1, but whenever we have lost it has been because our midfield being overrun. Any time we have played 4-5-1 I can’t remember a good performance, but I think we have won most of them and that is what we needed against City. It was not the time to plant a flag and show off. We needed a result and were one mistake away.

There were some odd decisions in terms of personal – park had not played for 6 weeks, jones’ second half of the season has been poor. Valencia is our most reliable player, in terms of offensive production and defensive diligence. With Giggs, he has experience and that touch of genius as our best substitute for an attacking creative midfielder. But whenever he plays, I feel like the team is carrying him – not something this team can afford – he does not track back or contribute defensively, so maybe not a starter when our game plan was to counter, not dominate.
Smalling hadn’t played for 4 weeks, but what choice did he have, between him and jones I know who I trust.
So with that formation, who else can you play?
Maybe bring in Rafael, but Jones showed his value for this game – we faced 26 crosses – clearly he aerial battle was an important one. That we only lost one justifies his selection.
In midfield, bring in Valencia for Giggs. Can’t see a downside to that. Sure no one has Giggs’ experience but his pace would have been great on the counter, and his stamina in closing down players would have helped. For Park, literally the only option is cleverley. He is clearly not match fit though as Fergie has been so reluctant to use him and as we remember from the start of the season, defensively atrocious. Not sure how much we can blame Fergie for trusting Park, Giggs and Jones – three players who have always performed when it counts for Fergie.

For the future, things are not so bad. Our youngsters have gained a lot of experience this season and will be better next season. If our yardstick is City I suppose they have less room for improvement (isn’t that depressing) as their squad is largely mid to late 20’s and their younger stars have already had full and impressive seasons elsewhere. Yes they will now have the confidence of champions (I may kill myself) and the understanding between them will grow but ( I got nothing). They will also spend loads of money.

Anyway, i’d be surprised if Giggs and Scholes stayed for another season. Fletch may or may not retire, Berbatov is leaving, as will Pogba, Park and Owen. Hopefully Bebe won’t come back. Personally, I want anderson to stay. He (still) has potential, but like cleverley will never fit a 4-4-2. And Vidic will comeback, which will be huge. Not the injury we needed when breaking in a new 19 year-old ‘keeper.

I think the future has to be 4-5-1, 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 – whatever you want to call it. Carrick has impressed in the holding role this season, and if Fletch doesn’t return will need a partner from the transfer market (ando will never adapt). For our creative midfielder we could let anderson and cleverley have a go, put Rooney there or sign someone. Can’t see the money for two top players being available and we need a DM much more, even if Fletcher returns.
With only one up front, we don’t need to replace Berba and Owen. Welbeck, Rooney and Hernandez is enough – if we want a fourth, promote someone or keep owen. Our defence is sorted for the future – we have a very talented young back five available. If fergie is going to continually play evra every game then a Fabio loan is necessary – but would it be so bad to play him sometimes?

I think after our recent injury problems over the last couple of seasons, maybe look at the backroom staff. Yes, things happen, but you can minimise the chances of them happening and deal with the result better. I don’t think Hargreaves was lying (even though he went over to the dark side) when he said his injury was mismanaged. A fit squad seems half the battle these days.

In terms of formation this season Fergie has been hamstrung since our injuries hit. He started the season playing anderson and cleverley and the two CMs in a 4-4-2. Crazy. playing two attacking midfielders as your centre mids. And the result was as expected. Goals galore at both ends. We were allowing the most shots in the league. Since the injuries, he has stuck with 4-4-2 as whenever he experimented with 4-5-1, it was an obvious case of square pegs in round holes.

The renaissance under Scholes has been impressive, but only because (up until Everton and city) people forgot about last season and decided to let him have space. This will not last.
So we need a top CM to be bought and maybe a few utility players to fill out the squad (in midfield and attack).

The experience Evans has gained over the season is invaluable as you never know when Rio will get an injury and Fergie is already managing his appearances to one a week – not ideal if you want a stable back four playing twice a week chasing 3 trophies (no one cares about the Carling Cup). If you look at a utd 1st xi that could be playing in 5-10 years, outside of the centre of midfield,the future looks strong:
De Gea (20) Rafael (21) Evans (23) Smalling (21) Fabio (21) Valencia (25) Anderson (23) Cleverley (22) Nani (26) Rooney (26) Welbeck (21). And then there is also Jones (20) and Hernandez (23) and excluding our youngsters in the reserves and academy. So there is huge reason to have hope for the future. All we need is one or two great CMs and we are sorted.

Between unloading all of the contracts this summer and our standard transfer budget we should be able to manage at least on world class player. I know there is hate for the Glazers (I’m on that bandwagon) and whilst they have not poured money into the squad, we spent about £40 million net last year, only our second season at +£30 million (the other was in 08/09 under the glazers).

98/99 was our first year spending more than £5 million net (player value inflation I know). Looks like they have learnt from their first two years in charge (see below) and Ronaldo aside the spend has been good considering the success the current squad was having.

98/99 26 Title
99/00 16 Title C.L. win
00/01 -8 Title
01/02 29
02/03 27 Title
03/04 13
04/05 21
05/06 1 1st Glazer Year
06/07 4 Title
07/08 27 Title C.L. Win
08/09 34 Title C.L. Final
09/10 -65 Title C.L. Semi
10/11 14 Title C.L. Final
11/12 38

There is money and they are willing to spend.

Ed - May 2, 2012 Reply

Marlon – thanks for the essay. So if its not Fergie’s fault, and the Glazers are such wonderful owners, and everything is rosy with the playing squad, why did we get dumped out of four competitions early, and will likely lose the league to our closest rivals?

Marlon - May 2, 2012 Reply

Thanks for twisting my words. We were very unfortunate with injuries this season, with our captain and our best Cm from 2009- present out for the season. That’s before you consider the various injury crises we’ve had this season. We saw what happened to City without Yaya and Kompany for just a few games.
And yes, without the Glazers debt we could easily spend £60 million + per season, but I think there is something to be said of having a club philosophy, but its useless if you abandon it as soon as a challenge come along. Like I said we have a lot of good young players. This year was a transitional year where we blooded a young keeper and promoted some young talent to the 1st XI and lost a handful of experienced players. We could have handled that without the injuries.

So Fergie – he’s made some mistakes over the season but no more than usual. We usually don’t have injuries like this though. I think he’s done a good job with the players available. Maybe he could have foreseen the Fletcher problem in the summer, but much of that depends on what the player is telling you about how he feels. I also think he has an eye on retirement with this squad. In three years the young squad i Had above will all be mid-20s and entering their prime. He knows he’s a tough act to follow and he’s trying to give his successor a young strong squad, which requires giving young players experience – or we could do a City and spend 500 million on the squad. It is a case of papering over the cracks, but I think he would of pulled a title of without the injuries and more importantly there is an end game to all this papering.
So a couple of signings, our young players with a year of experience at United under their belts and providing our medical staff get their act together, I have no worries about underperformance for next season or beyond, at least until Fergie retires.

For losing it all, i’m gonna blame injuries (doesn’t matter how deep your squad is, you will miss your best defender and CM). Carling Cup (who cares?) but complacency, playing a young squad – can you blame Fergie for that? In the FA cup against Liverpool away (a side that have become a cup team) without our best defender and rio our best CM, no nani and no rooney, they beat us with a goal in the 88th minute. Fine margins.
The CL was like a slow motion car crash. I guess if there was something I blame Fergie for it is his team selection in Europe. But in his defence, he was facing a very strong challenge from our biggest domestic rivals in the league and he made it a priority – it almost worked. I imagine he thought we would get through, but I doubt he would have believed we were going to win this year and no one remembers the team on 2nd place.

In the PL we almost did it. 4-2 up against Everton. 2 goals in the last 5. If there is complacency and arrogance in the squad that can only be layer at the manager’s feet. It was more telling in the Europa league where our CL finalists looked a bit above it all – apparently being outplayed in every game didn’t wake them up.

So basically I blame injuries and retirement plans. And we need to sign a CM. Or two

Can’t believed how many excuses I made for Fergie, but he has earned it.
The only thing I am disappointed in is that he always says how much he wants to win the Champions League more, and then doesn’t take it seriously.

DeadRevel - May 2, 2012 Reply

Ed, your essay was longer than his, so I’m not sure why you’re whinging.

Ed - May 3, 2012

DeadRevel – I don’t care about the length. I just didn’t get what his point was aside from: 1) Fergie does no wrong, 2) the Glazers have done no harm, 3) all the players are great.

Stacked up against early exit from four competitions and probable loss of Premier League title to City it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. It was all just bad luck? Perhaps the FA has conspired against us? Perhaps the fucking stars were aligned the wrong way?

Marlon - May 3, 2012

Ed I don’t think Fergie does no wrong – but who will do better for us right now?
Do you really think without the Glazers Fergie would be spending £60+ million a year on transfers? Or if we didn’t have the Glazers we wouldn’t have signed Ronaldo? Or let Tevez go? These were decisions Fergie made.
I didn’t say all our players we have right now are great, I said the future would be great because we have got some top class youngsters – and when you incorporate them into the team you’ll get a transitional year or two – but its in the Clubs DNA. If we went and signed 5 world class players these guys would never get played and would be wasted talent.

And I still can’t believe how much you can ignore me saying INJURIES. FFS I didn’t even say that was bad luck – I blames it on the medical staff.

It seems to me you are determined to only see negatives in this team.

Marlon - May 3, 2012

*meant sold Ronaldo

DamnedUnited - May 2, 2012 Reply

For the last 4-5 seasons, we have always had injury problems towards the midpoint of the season. When we lost the league to Chelsea in 09-10, weren’t we playing with Carrick and De Laet in the back at Fulham?

This injury crisis has become all too familiar and inspite of Fergie’s tinkering and chopping and changing, the crisis always rears its head. Statistically, it just cannot be a coincidence. You mentioned the backroom staff. Something needs fixing in this area.

At the start of the year, Jones, Smalling and Cleverly were playing extrememly well but Fergie started pushing Jones and Smalling all over the back line and midfield and my fear was that they would lsoe form or get injured soon. It happened anyway. Now Fergie might be doing it to get them to be more versatile but I dunno, it can be frustrating to watch.

Marlon - May 2, 2012

Agreed. Right now Arsenal are ‘that’ team, but were are definitely giving them a run for their money.
Jones being moved to CM is due to a lack of depth and injuries at CM I think rather than future versatility. I can understand them both being moved between RB and CB though. At the time Rafael was injured so they had to fill in, and yet they are both natural CBs.
It’s true though that with all Fergie’s tinkering he used to always highlight the importance of having a settled back line. We’ve had anything but this year (Evra aside of course).

Gabagool - May 2, 2012 Reply

A sad but very true appraisal of Monday’s game.
Apparently Eden Hazard was at the game watching, who do you reckon he’s gonna sign for now? Not that shite in red I’ll bet.
If we don’t spend money in the summer and being in some real quality I honestly think we’ll be fighting for a top 4 spot next year, we dodged a lot of bullets this year and won’t get away with it again.
Oh, and Park should NEVER play for us again.

Marlon - May 2, 2012 Reply

As for signings I’d like to see Kagawa from Dortmund or Belhander from Montpellier as a creative midfielder. Another left winger seems sensible so Rodriguez from Porto or Munain from Bilbao although Ayew from Marseille might be more likely with his ability to play as a CM as well. As a DM Martinez from Bilbao or M’Vila from Rennes.
I think we can manage three from that list for less than £50 million, get £10 million from sales and we have a similar picture to last summer.
Personally, I don’t think Munain or Martinez will come. The competition for M’Vila will see us outbid. Kagawa is on his last year of contract so he looks likely for less than £20 million. Ayew has the advantage over Rodriguez in terms of utility and so would be better value at £15-20 million. So we just have to pray Fergie can fish a DM out of nowhere.

19 and Counting - May 2, 2012 Reply

Commenter said:
A sad but very true appraisal of Monday’s game.
Apparently Eden Hazard was at the game watching, who do you reckon he’s gonna sign for now? Not that shite in red I’ll bet.
If we don’t spend money in the summer and being in some real quality I honestly think we’ll be fighting for a top 4 spot next year, we dodged a lot of bullets this year and won’t get away with it again.
Oh, and Park should NEVER play for us again.

Fergie got the team selection wrong for sure. How many games have Giggs, PArk and Smalling played in the last few months? And to leave out Valencia and Welbeck and perhaps AY who have all shown great form? No, we sat back and gave City the title. We should have played our best 11 from the get-go and went at City. If we would have lost so be it at least we gave it our all. FErgie went with experience and the guys who have done it for him before…but the past is the past and it’s time to move on.

sheesh - May 2, 2012 Reply

There’s a thread on red cafe where they ask what it is phelan actually does. Apparently he points at things and pops balloons…and there i was thinking he was good for nothing.

Leif Sward - May 2, 2012 Reply

I can understand the team selection even if I am disappointed by it. Might be wrong but I also think that, weirdly, the one fixture a week program has not helped us. Our squad is so used to being involved with fixtures thick and fast and players rotated every game that when it came to making a tactical change to the first 11, the players were just not sharp enough physically or mentally. I don;t know if more regular game time would help Park stay upright mind…

19 and counting - May 2, 2012 Reply

If its true that Pogba is leaving and fletch is retiring, then I can’t see how Fergie can continue to make excuses for not buying central mfs and spending some serious cash to get them. Surely this has to be the summer where he finally overhauls the middle of the pitch, no?

Alfonso Bedoya - May 2, 2012 Reply

Commenter said:
If its true that Pogba is leaving and fletch is retiring, then I can’t see how Fergie can continue to make excuses for not buying central mfs and spending some serious cash to get them. Surely this has to be the summer where he finally overhauls the middle of the pitch, no?

Apparently, the self centred little cunt still hasn’t decided…


Nick Ahmed - May 2, 2012 Reply

We have LOST EIGHT of the last TEN games when PARK has started….cheers

Nick Ahmed - May 2, 2012 Reply

Barcelona 3 – 1 Man Utd 1…Basle 2 – 1 Man Utd…Liverpool 2 – 1 Man Utd 1 (FA Cup)…and last night City 1 – 0 Man Utd….

In each one of these games Fergie has started Giggs and Park and it has never worked! Seriously, Park is the worst player I have seen play for us in the last 20 years. I just cannot understand what Fergie sees in him, having a great work rate is all well and good but you need to actually be able to play football to go with that! He is lucky to be playing in the premiership altogether, but to be playing for MANCHESTER UNITED..words fail me, how can he be good enough, he cant even pass the ball without falling over. And when he and Giggs start you know Rooney is going to be isolated all game. As soon as you see them in the starting lineup, you know exactly what kind of game its going to be, how many more BIG matches do we need to lose with Giggs and Park playing. Someone please show Fergie these stats as he needs his head testing if he thinks these players work in big matches..got what we deserved..cheers

danniitronix - May 2, 2012 Reply

Alfonso Bedoya said:
Apparently, the self centred little cunt still hasn’t decided…


beat the cunt up

uncleknobheadforfucksake - May 2, 2012 Reply

hehe, have that ed

DeadRevel - May 2, 2012 Reply

“There is no shame coming second as long as there is a strategy to compete.”

This is what I believe too.

And it’s why the spending (or lack of) the Glazers allow this summer and next summer are far more important than a 1-0 loss to City.

Ed - May 3, 2012 Reply

DeadRevel – anybody who tells me that United will somehow miraculously buck the market and succeed without spending is talking crap. Take a mix of the data analysis done in Soccernomics (v1 and V2 that’s just been published) together with data done by that Scouse rat Paul Tomkins (admittedly a good analyst/author despite being Scouse) and just get an 89% correlation between transfer spending and success and a 72% correlation between wage spending and success. The variance is luck and good management. Ferguson consistently over-achieves. Not just my opinion but in the data. But the gap between quality of the squad due to (relative lack of investment) and Fergie’s ability to over achieve is shrinking.

Just1n - May 2, 2012 Reply

danniitronix said:
beat the cunt up

Why? You can see why he is torn.

A team running out of ideas and top personnel vs a team unbeaten in there league going through an upturn of form and blending talented youth with experience.

danniitronix - May 2, 2012 Reply

Just1n said:
Why? You can see why he is torn.

A team running out of ideas and top personnel vs a team unbeaten in there league going through an upturn of form and blending talented youth with experience.

he’s been torn for about a year. i don’t blame him for fucking off since fergal hasn’t played him and given him any confidence that he features in his big plans but this dilly dallying is taking the piss.

if he buggers off, maybe Taggart will realise his mistakes. if you are not going to spend the cash, play the youth – don’t bullshit yourself and the world.

we wld have rather have seen pogba on the pitch that park on monday.

park is the past, Pogbastard is the future!

sheesh - May 2, 2012 Reply

So when is this float on the Singapore stock exchange going to happen – if it ever will happen?

han - May 2, 2012 Reply

i’m sure the gimps will sell to some rich fuck off oil baron from the middle east who are sold on the idea of competing with those qatari knobs – just need to market it in the right way and i am pretty sure some camel shaggers will take the bait and invest 1.5 billion and buy the club

bman - May 2, 2012 Reply

The annoying thing is we don’t need to be owned by any billionaires, the club prints money. It should be perfectly capable of competing with Barca, Madrid, and any sugar-daddied club on the basis of the massive fan base, a fan base accrued through hard work and winning things.

steggo - May 2, 2012 Reply

The first to exit Old Trafford at the end of season should be that useless seat warmer Phelan.

Herbie Simms - May 3, 2012 Reply

Its no shame coming second and yes SAF will be spending much more than last season. He has admitted that he has to strengthen his midfield and defence and he is looking to bring in another striker. David Gill says the money will be made available. Gill goes on to say that it is important that we advance in the Champions League. We lost millions by not advancing out of the first round. They do not want Man City dominating things next season, money is being made available. As I keep hearing about Guardiola replacing SAF when he retires but from inside information, David Moyes is the favourite. And yes, it is time for Mike Phelan to go!

Alfonso Bedoya - May 3, 2012 Reply

Commenter said:
Its no shame coming second and yes SAF will be spending much more than last season. He has admitted that he has to strengthen his midfield and defence and he is looking to bring in another striker. David Gill says the money will be made available. Gill goes on to say that it is important that we advance in the Champions League. We lost millions by not advancing out of the first round. They do not want Man City dominating things next season, money is being made available. As I keep hearing about Guardiola replacing SAF when he retires but from inside information, David Moyes is the favourite. And yes, it is time for Mike Phelan to go!

Oh fuck off Herbie, with your “insider knowledge” bullshit… you know fuck all… the fact that you say,(without any apparent irony),”David Gill says the money will be made available.”… proves it… he says the same shit every year.

“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.”

brianofnazareth - May 3, 2012 Reply

Alfonso Bedoya said:
Oh fuck off Herbie, with your “insider knowledge” bullshit… you know fuck all… the fact that you say,(without any apparent irony),”David Gill says the money will be made available.”… proves it… he says the same shit every year.

Ha-Ha!! Still got it Alf….

shauno - May 3, 2012 Reply

I have to be honest and agree with bman I will find it very difficult to continue supporting United if it goes the oil baron route. On so many levels I just think it’s wrong. city and Chelsea fans can bury their heads in the sand as much as they want they are owned and buy into a bunch of horrible bastards. From a personal point of view and considering Manchester’s socio-economic history with its social and working class inspired governance the idea of bowing to these human rights abusing oil barons just makes me sick. I mean you only have to read blue moon to get an understanding of how drunk and dizzy some of them are on the money and potential success and the need to overcome a bitterness you can understand why they are burying their heads in the sand but still its very worrying. I just want United back to being self sufficient and sustainable. I don’t mind an individual owning United but just a ‘normal’ one? Or is it asking too much to find a rich man with a conscience?

DeadRevel - May 3, 2012 Reply

My thoughts exactly. It’s a cancer to the game and a cancer to life, but the media just glosses over this because City beating United is a better story than moral bankruptcy.

I wouldn’t even mind more equality in the game, wage caps and the like. But to go the other way and reward clubs for their ineptitude, greed and almost psychopathic ind sets towards the idea of fair play is disgusting.

shauno - May 3, 2012 Reply

I’ve never really looked into how Bayern run things? They appear to maintain a level of success in a sustainable way with a good fan base.

DeadRevel - May 3, 2012 Reply

Tim Vickery discussed the ideals and problems of social-style football clubs in S.America. He also touched upon St Pauli and Bayern in Germany. Interesting stuff.

I just can’t believe that people are allowed to take over clubs and drain them of resources. It verges on criminal to me.

I have a feeling if we don’t spend this summer the anti-Glazer movement will kick in again.

shauno - May 3, 2012

In my opinion it would be more credible if the anti-Glazer movement changed track to lead with its main aim of fan ownership. I just don’t think any one person should be allowed to own such an important piece of infrstructure such as a football club. I understand that clubs have historically from day one been owned and financed by individuals. But many of them whilst backed by business men were built by communities. The clubs belong to the communities. United and city belong to Manchester, they are Manchesters assets. I have no problem with partnerships that involve corportions that turn a profit directly or indirectly for the corp as long as it provides advancement for the sport and the community and is legal and proper. It has to stop or something seperate needs to break away under seperate governance. Could you imagine an invitation to regions to apply to enter a new league outside of the FA tier system that aims to put right all thats wrong. I’m dreaming but wouldn’t it be great!

DeadRevel - May 3, 2012

It would be good to see, unfortunately the people who can make this decisions are motivated by greed. City for example would have no interest in this because it would hinder them.
This means players would be given the option of playing for clubs that adhere to regulated leagues with a focus on pure football rather than economic power, or play for a club like City which will simply offer any player 10x the amount a regulated club could offer. If United opted in, but City didn’t, our club would probably be ruined within 4/5 years.

Most people prioritise self-interest over equality. This is why socialism doesn’t work and free market capitalism rules the world. It would be nice for football to lead the world into an era of financial equality…. but I don’t see that happening in my life time, and I’m 24.

Marlon - May 3, 2012

Football wouldn’t be leading the way – the NHL (Ice Hockey in N. America) already has a salary cap system. For them it is $60 million – and then they have a maximum player wage and minimum wage within that system. The cap size is reviewed each year. Oddly they also have a minimum salary level that a club must pay if they want to compete in the league. That would be odd in our system with promotion/relegation etc.

Also i think it could happen in football if most big clubs agreed to it. Arsenal would love it, Roman wants Chelsea to be sustainable on its own, United Madrid and Barca are all in serious debt as are most in the top 5 leagues. As far as I know Italian clubs have some serious debt too. Bayern are OK but they are always saying other clubs should be like them and work within their financial constraints.

It would have to be UEFA wide for CL at least. There would be a few players who would got to far east, middle east etc. for money, but I think the money would still be good enough for the best to stay in Europe, at least when in their prime (can’t blame them for having a retirement bonus).

DamnedUnited - May 3, 2012 Reply

If United’s bought by a Middle-Eastern tycoon, I will stop supporting the club.

shauno - May 3, 2012 Reply

Interestingly, in my life time I’ve witnessed a rise, fall and rise in socialism and communism so anything is possible.

bman - May 3, 2012 Reply

Unfortunately it’s hard to see how fan ownership could ever possibly happen for United now. The Glazers aren’t going to let go for any less than 1.5 or 2 billion, which is far too much money for thousands of fans to come up with and come up with a manageable ownership structure.

bman - May 3, 2012 Reply

I mean, to put in perspective. £2 billion would require 1 million fans to pony up £2k each.

Stevie D - May 3, 2012 Reply

While I accept Fergie makes some strange selections at certain times, I’m trying to justify his selection to myself:
1) Perhaps Fergie played Jones ahead of Rafael due to the physical threat of City. They did score from a set piece, so ultimately his worry in this regard was not totally unfounded. Smalling, who has played quite well at right back this season, obviously had to play in the centre, so Jones was the only other physical defender we have who could play right back. Also, Rafael has had a few stinkers this season, not just against Everton like some people are pontificating, so perhaps Fergie thought there wasn’t much difference between Jones and Rafa so he went for the more physical.
2) Giggs v Young: Surely I can understand him playing Giggs. Despite his current form, he’s a man for the big occasion. Ashley Young, however, has had a very hot a cold season. Given the choice between Giggs and Young in a massive game…..I would probably take Giggs, seeing as he hadn’t really started any games lately and was relatively fresh.
3) Rooney lone striker – He’s played that role quite well for us in the past. We only needed a draw. Why not pack the midfield where City are so dangerous? Wellbeck could be an impact sub then if things went wrong….
4) Park over Valencia….well I can’t justify that one!

We played for the draw. We kept it very tight for the whole game. Although we didn’t offer much threat, City didn’t really have any chances. So Fergie’s tactics worked quite well really….excluding a sloppy piece of defending from a set-piece which led to City’s goal. Fergie’s biggest mistake on the night was perhaps not responding to going a goal down sooner than he did.

minde - May 3, 2012 Reply

fergie and glazers bit by bit ruining united completely, i can see in about 2-3 years we becoming the new liverpool – unable to get into top 4, if nothing gonna be done with them (glazers and fucking judas fergie – he sold united to those american cunts)

DeadRevel - May 3, 2012 Reply


shauno - May 3, 2012 Reply


SKW - May 4, 2012 Reply

It’s a thin margin.

If it was 0-0, and we kept the title, people would be hailing Fergie a genius. After all, one header is all that separated the teams.

But before I get blasted, let me say United are clearly a team in decline, and their panicked grasp has slipped from the trophy. We don’t drop points in sweaty bum time, but we have this year, and that’s because our manager has papered over the cracks of a very ordinary side that has tanked — yes, tanked — in just about every important match this year. Chelsea will roar back next year. Arsenal will be better too. And City? They will win it and still buy players.

We’re in decline, and we need to face up to it…

19 and Counting - May 4, 2012 Reply

Commenter said:
It’s a thin margin.

If it was 0-0, and we kept the title, people would be hailing Fergie a genius. After all, one header is all that separated the teams.

But before I get blasted, let me say United are clearly a team in decline, and their panicked grasp has slipped from the trophy. We don’t drop points in sweaty bum time, but we have this year, and that’s because our manager has papered over the cracks of a very ordinary side that has tanked — yes, tanked — in just about every important match this year. Chelsea will roar back next year. Arsenal will be better too. And City? They will win it and still buy players.

We’re in decline, and we need to face up to it…

It’s going to get harder and harder to win the EPl and all of the top clubs will strengthen – even Pool supposedly. And let’s remember we also want to do well in the CL. So it would be suicide imo if we didn’t bring in some quality players this summer. SAF knows and Gill knows it but we’ll see if the fudns are available and if these quality players want to come to OT.

Ben Hulston - May 4, 2012 Reply

This season has raised two interesting questions for me

– What in the heck do our scouts actually do
– What in the heck do our medical team do

Why can we not do like Newcastle, and sign absolute quality for rock bottom prices? Why are the players who are injured, not fully fit when they come back, or seem to be out forever? Part of me is NOT convinced that our medical team is doing everything they can. I just am not convinced at all. We can’t be getting this many bad injuries, especially recurring ones.

If I was Fergie, I think the first thing I would do is look to get new conditioning coaches, new medical team with leading edge technology to support, and rip out some the scouts and replace with new ones, especially in continental Europe.

Then, this summer, I’d be looking to bring in

– Combative, driving midfielder. Nasty attitude, flexible, strong, and technical good, Javi Martinez fits the bill here. I’ve only come to love him more since he wound Ronaldo up at the weekend. Fellaini would be my second choice, tied with Cheik Tiote. I would promote Tunnicliffe into the first team.

– Pacey, explosive creative midfielder. Eden Hazard would appear to fit the bill. Shinji Kagawa is a player I’ve liked since the last world cup. I’d love to get Thomas Muller, but that’s dream talk.

– Full back (preferably flexible, preferably young) – Possibly Nate Clyne?

So we’d be spending big this summer, then, and try and keep the side fit with the new medical team, and get the scouts to earn their money and unearth some absolute gems a la Vidic, Evra, Hernandez.

danniitronix - May 4, 2012 Reply

Ben – I agree with the above. I’ve been ranting my arse silly for months about how utterly incompetent our medics and scouts are. Dong, Manucho, Bebe, Anderson, ffs.

DeadRevel - May 4, 2012 Reply

Well done. You just mentioned 4 players who haven’t made the grade. You’re a clever cunt aren’t you.

If United had bought Cisse he would have cost 15MIL and you lot would be whinging that he didn’t cost 30MIL and isn’t ‘world class’.

DamnedUnited - May 4, 2012 Reply

I think its more down to the other clubs pouncing on United targets once the scouts express interest.

Until a few months ago, no top club feared Newcastle and so let their targeted players alone thinking they wouldn’t be that good.

But that said, it is depressing how only three immediately brilliant signing have been made in the last 6 years. (Evra, Vidic and Hernandez). More needs to be done.

shauno - May 4, 2012 Reply

Evra and Vidic were definately not immediate brilliant signings.

Bill - May 4, 2012 Reply

Newcastle have done really well in the transfer market in the last 12 months or so for sure.
Our signings over the last few years, lets review them with a mark out of ten:
Valencia 8/10 – 17 mill – HIT
Owen 5/10 – Free – MISS
Obertan 4/10 – 3 mill (sold to Newcastle for 3 mill) – MISS
Diouf 4/10 – 4 mill (sold to Hannover for 1.5 mill) – MISS
Smalling 8/10 – 8 mill – HIT
Hernandez 8/10 – 7 mill – HIT
Bebe 3/10 – 7 mill – MISS
Lindegaard 6/10 – 2.5 mill – HIT
Young 7/10 – 17 mill – HIT
Jones 7/10 – 17 mill – HIT
De Gea 7/10 – 17 mill – HIT
Scholes 9/10 – Free – HIT
Signings fall into 3 main categories – big money/marque i.e 20 mill+, established 10-20 mill & gamble 0-10 mill.
Of the gambles Hernandez, Lindegaard & Smalling were really well scouted, we knew what Scholes was capable of and the rest have pretty much been failures. Owen did what was expected of him but is too injury prone to be counted as a success.
Of the middle of road signings, all have been a success. The last major marquee signing was Berbatov and before that Hargreaves. They both haven’t lived up to their billing so perhaps this explains why we don’t spend big.
This summer we could get a 20 mill midfielder plus two players who are out of contract, worth about 10-15 mill but we will only have to pay less through compensation ie Clyne and Hoillet. Sigurdsson might be available for under market value due to the strange way his home club do business.
Will be interesting!

Urval87 - May 4, 2012 Reply

To me, aside from the City defeat, the Real vs Bayern game was a much bigger reality check. The speed of the passing and the overall level of play in the game was truly astounding. While watching, I was sadly resigned to the fact that this United squad cannot play that level of football.

Surely now, unless we wish to completely give up on the Champions League for the next few years, we must add quality to the squad —- I don’t care where it comes from, whether through big names or bottom fishing. More Rooney level players need to come in quickly.

Bill - May 4, 2012 Reply

List of United transfers going way back. Very good website:


Interestingly for the last three years the net spend has been as follows:

2009/2010 = +64mill
2010/2011 = -10mill
2011/2012 = -37mill

So a net spend of around 20-25 mill could be accurate to balance things up since the Ronaldo transfer – 3 in, Berbatov out and possibly Park. Criminal really considering how much money United generate a year!

jameses - May 4, 2012 Reply

Ben – Doubt he’ll rip out some of the scouts.. the chief scout is his brother.

Sometimes wonder whether fergie thinks he’s bigger than the club

Matt - May 4, 2012 Reply

really good comprehensive read. before i get onto to anything football related though, why ARE United constantly referred to in the singular? “united is”, “united has”, “united plays” “united turns out”?

sorry, it just got to me!

Ed - May 4, 2012 Reply

Matt – because United is a singular. Are there multiple Uniteds in the clause of the sentence? Am I referring to more than one United in the sentence? There’s this weird thing in England where we create collective nouns for a singular entity. Just because there ARE 11 players in a team, doesn’t mean there IS any more than one team!

It’s not correct, but its repeated even in quality newspapers.

If its ‘getting to you’ it’s because of your poor use of the English language, and habitual misunderstanding of the difference between singular and plural. I don’t blame you though, your miseducation is entirely the government’s fault. Any government.

“Sir Alex Ferguson IS a man”
“Manchester United IS a football club”
“Nani, Phil Jones and Wayne Rooney ARE footballers”

Stevie D - May 5, 2012 Reply

Oh Lord, let’s not begin a debate on the poor use of the English language in the North West.
Lets just stick to footy!

Ed - May 5, 2012 Reply

Stevie D – sorry, can’t help myself sometimes!

sheesh - May 6, 2012 Reply

Commenter said:
If United’s bought by a Middle-Eastern tycoon, I will stop supporting the club.

Fair enough, but you might be on your own mate. If you ask which would be more preferable, the owners we have now with some rich arabs i know i would prefer the latter. That’s the way many football clubs seem to be heading – except ourselves.

han - May 6, 2012 Reply

sheesh said:
Fair enough, but you might be on your own mate. If you ask which would be more preferable, the owners we have now with some rich arabs i know i would prefer the latter. That’s the way many football clubs seem to be heading – except ourselves.

the time to stop supporting united if anyone could contemplate the thought would have been when the gimps took control and several years of leeching haven’t diminished support in any real form, so if some rich mid east family wish to buy, they are more than welcome because it will mean funds galore
football is a business, plain and simple
we are all mugs

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