Season review and ratings 2011/12



Barely 12 months on from the glory of a 19th league triumph the season has ended in disappointment on five fronts: beaten by Manchester City in the Premier League, knocked out of two European competitions at a premature stage, and defeated early in the domestic cup competitions too. Trophyless for the first time since 2005, Manchester United’s players and staff will depart for their summer holidays with much to ponder.

While a year ago bold terrace chatter was centred on how to match Barcelona after a Wembley chasing that lives long in the memory, the mood among United’s support today is of a far lower key. Defeat to Roberto Mancini’s City may have come by the narrowest of margins, but it is hard to argue with the conclusion. After all, for large parts of the campaign Sir Alex Ferguson’s side flattered to deceive; results achieved seemingly not through stylish football, but the force of the manager’s will.

Yet, the campaign began in such positive fashion – defeating City in the Community Shield at Wembley, running up a cricket score against Arsenal at Old Trafford, and securing eight league victories on the bounce before defeat. Ferguson’s side played some delightful football in the process, with Tom Cleverley and Anderson weaving pretty patterns in the centre of the park.

It didn’t last of course, with Cleverley injured at Bolton Wanderers in mid September, before City spanked United for six the following month. Ferguson’s side recovered, but the spirit of adventure was broken as the manager led a re-think of United’s open, attacking strategy.

Then, Anderson succumbed to injury once again, along with a dozen other first team players, leaving Ferguson to field Park Ji-Sung and Rafael da Silva in central midfield in the calamitous 3-2 loss at home to Blackburn Rovers in December. Old Trafford’s physio room has never seen anything like it.

Through the winter United ground out results, facing down an injury crisis of Biblical proportions while remaining in touch with Mancini’s outfit. Indeed, while defeat at Newcastle United sparked talk of another form of crisis, United secured a remarkable run of results post-Christmas that first ate in to City’s Premier League lead, and then put clear blue water between the clubs. It proved a false dawn.

Meanwhile, in Europe Ferguson had seemingly believed all the post-Wembley talk of surpassing Barcelona and sent out a scratch side to face Benfica at Estadio da Luz, securing a fortunate draw in the opening Champions League group clash. It proved to be a pattern though, with United taking to the competition with such conceit that a group exit was thoroughly deserved. Benfica and FC Basel are not among Europe’s elite, but Ferguson’s side was taught the hard way that the opponents had earned more respect.

The disastrous exit from the Champions League was compounded by a horrific triple knee injury to captain Nemanja Vidić during United’s defeat in Basel that appeared to sum up a season of injury calamity.

Ferguson, though, was not to be turned from his course, treating the Europa League with the same disdain as its bigger brother. Ajax was surpassed despite the Dutch side’s bright performance over two legs, only for United to be thoroughly humiliated by Athletic Bilbao. Committed, technically gifted, and adventurous, the Basque side was everything United was not. So much for conquering Europe, the Reds were relegated to the continent’s third tier.

Meanwhile, back at home Ferguson used the Carling Cup not to blood youngsters as many had hoped – with Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison drawing particular attention from supporters – but to offer minutes to fringe players including Park, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen. Defeat by Crystal Palace at Old Trafford followed in November in a match where Ferguson fielded nine internationals – as slipshod and muddled performance as any this season.

In the FA Cup United beat City at Eastlands in January, but only after the Blues’ captain Vincent Kompany has seen red for a crude lunging challenge. United’s 3-2 victory told only part of the story though, with City dominating much of the second half despite being a man light. If anything while United progressed, City ended the match with renewed belief. The Reds welcomed Paul Scholes back into the fold in what proved a pivotal day.

Then, in the fourth round United travelled to Liverpool amid the storm created by Luis Suarez’ racial abuse of Patrice Evra. Liverpool’s Andy Carroll inspired battering of United’s callow goalkeeper David de Gea won the home side victory as United tumbled out of the FA Cup for another year.

Two weeks later Ferguson’s side met the Merseysiders again, this time at Old Trafford in the Premier League, and this time with Suarez and Evra meeting for the first time since the Uruguayan used the word “negro” seven times in a race-inspired tirade of hatred. After United secured victory Evra danced for joy in front of the Liverpool striker, who had refused to shake the United captain’s hand.

With Ferguson’s side out of four cup competitions the schedule was surprisingly light in the spring, allowing Scholes to find imperious form alongside Carrick in central midfield. Ferguson’s defence stopped leaking goals, and Danny Welbeck formed an impressive partnership with Rooney in attack. Antonio Valencia was simply dazzling in attack.

Yet, the good form couldn’t last and much of what would come to pass in April and May bore the old signs of complacency. Defeat at Wigan Athletic was, quite literally, unprecedented; throwing a two goal lead away against Everton simply criminal.

While Ferguson’s players bore the brunt of supporter criticism, the manager’s decision-making for once failed to pay dividends. Resting Scholes at Wigan disrupted United’s rhythm, while the decision not to throw an extra body into midfield with 15 minutes to go at home to Everton proved desperately short-sighted. The Reds’ negative tactics and subservience to City at Eastlands was simply not ‘the United way’. So much so, in fact, that it is still barely forgivable. It is on that day that United’s hegemony was broken and City’s long wait for domestic superiority ended.

And so to the final day drama, which almost ended with United as Champions. Yet, in truth, for all the media talk of the ‘finest Premier League season’, it was little more than a remarkable end to an unspectacular United campaign.

Hope will grow in the coming weeks though: that Ferguson will refresh his squad with new faces, and that injured stars will return good as new. Hope always springs eternal. Whether Ferguson and his pay-masters will dash it on the rocks of value is another concern altogether.

Sir Alex Ferguson – so many contradictions in the great Scot’s season. After all, with a weaker squad than for some seasons, and with key positions not strengthened during the summer, United’s 89 point Premier League haul is a fine achievement. Indeed, with an injury crisis to boot, Ferguson has dragged far more than the sum of the parts out of his squad, pushing City’s £500 million team to the very limit. Yet, whether by misjudgment or design, United sacrificed a European campaign during the process – defeat bedded on a dubiously arrogant view of the opponents. Then, during critical games over the final month Ferguson made more mistakes, not least Scholes’ absence at Wigan and the negative tactics deployed at City. Moreover, the United manager is unlikely to address the root cause of his squad’s limitations this summer. The Scot may be reinvigorated by City’s challenge, but unless he is allowed to invest, he will only find next season harder still. 7/10

David de Gea – 39 appearances, 0 goals – it took little more than a game against City in the Community Shield last August for the young Spaniard’s critics to crawl out of the woodwork. Early season mistakes, while 20-year-old de Gea was finding his feet on English soil, were always inevitable. So too was the media over-reaction. Yet, from adversity de Gea found a new strength in the spring, finishing the campaign strongly and eliminating any doubt, at least from those of a more rational perspective, of the youngster’s enduring quality. 6/10

Anders Lindegaard – 11, 0 – had injury not struck just as de Gea reached his lowest ebb, it may well have been Lindegaard, and not the Spaniard, who took charge between the sticks during the run-in. Solid, if unspectacular, Lindegaard could be an outstanding number two. The challenge for the Dane, with de Gea’s quality no longer in doubt, is whether he wants to warm the bench for lengthy periods next season. 6/10

Patrice Evra – 47, 0 – not the finest campaign from United’s experienced Frenchman, but then surely an improvement on 2010/11. Evra’s attacking verve returned in the second half of the season, especially once vindicated by the Suarez verdict in late December. We may never see a return to Evra’s outstanding form of 2008-2010 when the Frenchman was the world’s finest left back, but Ferguson will squeeze at least another season out of the 31-year-old. The question is, is Evra on the wane? 6/10

Phil Jones – 41, 2 – the youngster’s barnstorming start to the season gave way to injury, burn-out and inconsistency at the business end. There is much more to come from Jones, whose natural talent and physical assets mark the former Blackburn Rovers player out as a future star. Ferguson’s temptation to tinker with Jones’ role can’t help though. Needs to hold down a place in one position, but which one? 6/10

Rio Ferdinand – 38, 0 – the veteran’s injury plagued years are now behind him. Who would have predicted it after three season’s of back injuries? And with Vidić injured in December, Ferdinand’s form has been key to holding United’s defence together. Made mistakes, not least in the 4-4 draw with Everton, but a key player this season. 7/10

Chris Smalling – 30, 2 – not the season of progression Smalling would have hoped for after such a promising campaign in 2010/11. Injury, and Ferguson’s decision to shift the former Fulham player to right-back have not helped though. Will want to challenge for a permanent place in central defence next season. 6/10

Nemanja Vidić – 10, 0 – simply outstanding prior to injury against FC Basel in December. How would United’s season have turned out with the Serbian fit? Supporters will, of course, never know. Yet, turning 30 and coming back from a triple knee injury places a large question mark over the defender’s future career. Will miss the start of next season and may never be the same again. 6/10

Jonny Evans – 40, 1 – breakthrough season from the Northern Irishman who has shown such composure first to fill in for Ferdinand, and then take over from Vidić. Gone are the concerns about Evans’ ability to compete physically, and what’s more the Irishman’s levels of concentration have increased ten-fold. Evans’ disappointing performance in the draw with Everton does little more than demonstrate how far he has progressed. 8/10

Rafael da Silva – 18, 0 – it could, should, have been a breakthrough season for the Brazilian. Although Rafael started the campaign on the sidelines with injury, he performed strongly in the spring. Concentration levels were better, and defensively the youngster was far less of a liability. Yet, Rafael’s disastrous performance against Everton was ruthlessly punished by Sir Alex. 6/10

Fabio da Silva – 15, 0 – after finishing the previous campaign in Ferguson’s Champions League final line-up, Fabio’s progress has once again been hampered by injury this season. A loan away, possibly to Benfica, will make or break Fabio’s United career. 5/10

Ryan Giggs – 33, 4 – undoubtedly the legendary Welshman’s worse campaign in a United shirt, with a series of worryingly poor performances in central midfield. Gary Neville retired once the performance levels dropped below the acceptable. Giggs, by contrast, has taken another year’s contract. 4/10

Park Ji-Sung – 28, 4 – Park’s United career will now be defined by the calamitous inclusion in Ferguson’s selection for the derby at Eastlands in April. The South Korean hadn’t started a game in four months and it showed, with a performance of mediocrity bordering on the embarrassing. Good servant though Park has been it is hard to define his enduring value to United. 4/10

Michael Carrick – 41, 2 – Carrick’s finest season in a United shirt since 2008, with the Geordie outstanding in the centre of midfield after returning to Ferguson’s team in November. Near perfect pass completion stats, with a positive distribution that bust many a myth. Held United’s midfield together at times. Rant’s player of the season. 9/10

Luis Nani – 40, 10 – another positive season from, at times, the most frustrating player in Ferguson’s squad. Brilliant and wasteful in almost equal measure. One goal in every four appearances is acceptable from one of Ferguson’s key attacking players, with a strong assists contribution too. Yet Nani has not progressed from an excellent 2010/11 campaign. 7/10

Paul Scholes – 21, 4 – there’s no doubt that Scholes’ return to Ferguson’s squad in January came at the right time for club and player. Shorn of so many midfielders, Ferguson’s was an act of desperation amid tight budget concerns. Yet, matches against City and Everton aside, Scholes has been outstanding for Ferguson once again. Rolled back the clock, although unlikely to repeat the feat across a full campaign next season. 8/10

Ashley Young – 33, 8 – a productive season from the former Aston Villa man, who has contributed some outstanding goals and far better set-piece distribution than in previous campaigns. A very public row about diving was unfortunate, as was a severe mid-season dip in form followed by injury. Young is a quality player, but probably not the signing United really needed last summer. 7/10

Antonio Valencia – 38, 6 – Valencia’s exclusion from Ferguson’s line-up for the April derby was simply inexplicable given the Ecuadorian’s outstanding spring form. Valencia’s may be an old-fashioned form of wide play amid the prevailing taste for inverted wingers, but it’s certainly effective. Must be one of the first names on Ferguson’s team sheet next season? 8/10

Tom Cleverley – 15, 0 – such a positive start to the season for the youngster seeking his breakthrough campaign at Old Trafford. Yet the promise was shattered at Bolton in mid-September when Kevin Davies’ late tackle put Cleverley on the sidelines for six months. Could not break into the first team when returning to fitness. 5/10

Darren Fletcher – 10, 2 – another illness hit season, with the Scottish captain taking a long-term break from the game in a last-ditch bid to save his United career. His long-term condition is such that he may yet be affected once again, even if the midfielder makes a first team return as hoped next season. 5/10

Anderson – 16, 2 – the burger-eating Brazilian brought hope, for about a month, that after nearly five years at the club he would finally justify the €30 million transfer fee. Sadly, Anderson is always an injury waiting to happen and missed much of the season once again. Likely to be given yet another chance at Old Trafford though as Ferguson seeks to make the best of a small summer budget. 4/10

Wayne Rooney – 43, 34 – it comes to something when Rooney scores more than 30 goals in a season, yet was not United’s best player. It’s not that Rooney hasn’t been outstanding at times – he has excelled in a far deeper role – but there was also inconsistency of performance. Critical to United’s chances next season, assuming he hasn’t come to realise the scale of the ‘other’ Manchester team’s ambition. 8/10

Javier Hernández – 36, 12 – a difficult second season you say? Well, yes, although there are plenty of caveats for the diminutive Mexican striker. Last summer’s Gold Cup, followed by injury on pre-season, and further spells on the sidelines have not helped Chicharito’s rhythm. Neither has Rooney’s partnership with Danny Welbeck in attack. There’s plenty more to come from Hernández, but he needs to improve his all round game. 6/10

Dimitar Berbatov 21, 9 – what a sad end for the outrageously talent Bulgarian, who has been ostracised for large parts of the season. Having scored more than 20 league goals in the previous campaign many hoped that the former Tottenham Hotspur would put any lingering doubts about his United role behind him. It wasn’t to be, with Ferguson seemingly losing trust in the striker. 5/10

Danny Welbeck – 39, 12 – breakthrough season for the England international who formed a fine partnership with Rooney in attack. Welbeck’s all-round game, vastly improved first touch, and awareness have catapulted the Longsight-born striker into Sir Alex’ first team ahead more celebrated rivals. Needs to improve his finishing if he is to become a striker of the very highest class. 7/10

Tomasz Kuszczak – The Pole in Goal spent another season of slavery on the Old Trafford sidelines before departing on loan to Watford in January.

Ben Amos – four games in a frustrating season for Amos. Must seek loan football elsewhere next season.

Bébé – spent the season on loan with Besiktas, where the £7.4 million misfit first suffered a serious knee injury and then was consigned to the reserves after a breach of team discipline.

Paul Pogba – much vaunted French midfielder is set to leave United for pastures new after failing to break into the first team this season being offered a lucrative contract at Juventus.

Michael Owen – United’s resident oxygen abuser has picked up another year’s salary. Well earned for being Ferguson’s in-house tipster.

Federico Macheda – another frustrating season beset by injury for the Italian youngsters. Will either be sold or loaned away during the summer

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  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Overall, I think those figures are fair enough… wouldn’t give Nani a 7 though… I think he was rubbish when we really needed him.

    “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.”

  • Spider

    Nani wasn’t rubbish when we really needed him. What could he do against City? He never received the ball in a decent position. A couple of times he broke into their half, only to realise he had no support. He was very good in the first half of the season. Wouldn’t argue with 7/10.
    Giggs can still play a role, but not starting in central midfield. He’s useful coming off the bench to help break stubborn teams down – his contribution helped against Blackburn away.
    I don’t know what will happen with Park. He’s barely needed now but they will be reluctant to sell him when he’s used in practically every publicity campaign. I don’t want to lay into him when he’s clearly a good professional and works very hard, but his first touch just isn’t United standard.

    • DamnedUnited

      Rooney, Scholes and Berbatov are the only ones in the team who are good at one touch football. And Carrick too, when he can be bothered to pass forwards with one touch.

  • marlon

    Hmm. Giggs had 2 goals and 9 assists in 25 PL games. I would agree with the 4/10 for his 2nd half of the season though. He managed to stay fit in the depth of our christmas injury crisis and so we had to overplay him and at his age, I think he was exhausted and didn’t have the fitness for the rest of the season. I think a similar thing would happen to Scholes over a full season.

    Also, you have to remember, Carrick/De Gea aside all of our players had seasons significantly interrupted by multiple injuries. Its no surprise then, that those two became two of our most consistent performers this season.

    I could live with another under-par window if we could just stay fit.

  • MIllzerr

    Quite harsh on Giggsy there. He had an average first half to the season in my opinion, but yes he did have a quite poor second half to the season, with the Blackburn game and in particular the Sunderland game being the exceptions. He contributed with 11 assists and 4 goals in all competitions, which is not bad for a guy that appeared 33 times, 11 of which as a sub. Saying all that, I would still have only given him a 5/10.

    Yes, Neville did retire when his performance level dropped significantly. Personally, I thought he was at that low level of performance for well over a year before calling it a day. To say “Gary Neville retired once the performance levels dropped below the acceptable. Giggs, by contrast, has taken another year’s contract.” is extremely harsh in my opinion.

    I’d also like to point out last season wasn’t Scholes’ best. He retired, then came back months later in outstanding form. Maybe all Giggsy needs is a rest. At least that’s what I hope.

  • Herbie Simms

    I agree in reference to Ashley Young. What was the logic in buying this player? This was not the player to strengthen our midfield but he is a quality player.

    • Daniel

      I think you mean to ask what was the logic in buying Young and no CM/CAM. There’s no question that Young’s signing was necesssary, just not as necessary as improving the central midfield. We only had Valencia, Nani and Park as wingers. 3 wingers aren’t enough and we always use 2 wingers on the pitch. It’s especially not enough when you consider Park’s poor first touch and Valencia’s propensity to get injured with his lunges forward.

  • 19 and Counting

    Commenter said:
    I agree in reference to Ashley Young. What was the logic in buying this player? This was not the player to strengthen our midfield but he is a quality player.

    It’s water under the bridge so we have to move on. I actually don’t think we’d be losing much if Nani were to leave and AY was our main guy on the left. As long as we used that money to upgrade our central MF – which I don’t think SAF will do now that Scholes is staying.

  • David Finnegan

    I really have to disagree with Carrick being named your player of the season.
    All this talk of his “Stat’s” is a smokescreen.
    Of course his pass completion rate will be impressive when the vast majority are 10 yard sideways and back passes.
    What are his stats for tackling? Shooting? Heading? Distance covered? I very very much doubt those stats are as impressive.
    When has Carrick ever grabbed a game by the scruff of the neck and taken control?
    The games when Scholes wasn’t there where the ones that Carrick failed to make any impression at all.
    As far as I can see, Carrick needs at least 10 yards of space around him and 3 touches to even make his 10 yard sideways passes.

    • Nemesis

      Finally someone talks sense about Carrick. Well said. 10yrd passes sideways or backwards will give anyone great stats.How many passes opened up the opposition

      • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

        Nemesis – snore! Another that can’t be bothered to check whether he’s actually talking sense.

        • Andrew

          Agree. Look up the stats before you cane him ffs

  • 19 and Counting

    Commenter said:
    I really have to disagree with Carrick being named your player of the season.
    All this talk of his “Stat’s” is a smokescreen.
    Of course his pass completion rate will be impressive when the vast majority are 10 yard sideways and back passes.
    What are his stats for tackling? Shooting? Heading? Distance covered? I very very much doubt those stats are as impressive.
    When has Carrick ever grabbed a game by the scruff of the neck and taken control?
    The games when Scholes wasn’t there where the ones that Carrick failed to make any impression at all.
    As far as I can see, Carrick needs at least 10 yards of space around him and 3 touches to even make his 10 yard sideways passes.

    Yep I agree David. Carrick gets way too much praise for me and only looks good when he has Scholes next to him or we’re not playing a big side – remember how he fared the last 2 times we played Barca? And I don’t believe he was playing when we were smashing teams like Arsenal at the start of the season, was he?

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      19 and counting (and others) – well it’s an opinion. But if you want to throw the old “sideways and backwards” charge at me, I’ll throw back facts at you. Would serve you well to check them.

      • Andrew

        Boom. Cop that

      • Andrew

        Boom. Cop that.

    • DeadRevel

      Carrick has been brilliant this season.

      Dont think there was anything between him and Evans though tbh.

      Whenever United have played well as a team, Carrick has been more aggressive going forward too. I reckon his relative ineffectiveness when attacking is down to the poor quality and age of the other midfielder – Giggs, Park, Scholes, ando.

  • Anantax

    Great article!! I agree with every bit except (surprise surprise) the Michael Carrick part. It is his best season as a ManUtd player – agree. He is much improved – agree. Does he deserve player of the season? I would beg to differ

    As a midfielder, 2 goals and 3 assists is not that great of a return. Even Giggs, which arguably as you rightly said had the worst season of his career, probably has better stats than that!

    I would vote Valencia for best player this season.

  • David Finnegan

    Ed,
    He doesn’t even feature on the Sky Sports Prem Stats.
    granted, the stats you give say his tackle success rate is 94% and pass completion rate is 90%. I dont doubt you, but I cannot find that figure anywhere else.
    The stats on Carrick also seem to confirm that 2/3 of his passes are either to the side or backwards.

    According to Sky Sports
    Tackle
    Cabaye Newcastle 111 70%
    Dembélé Fulham 107 75%
    Parker Tottenham 106 71%
    Figueroa Wigan 105 70%
    Allen Swansea 102 73%

    Passes
    Williams Swansea 2474 85%
    Modric Tottenham 2394 88%
    Arteta Everton/Arsenal 2303 91%
    Yaya Touré Man City 2288 90%
    Rangel Swansea 2162 84%

    I dont think Carrick is a bad player, per se. I just always feel uncomfortable when so much time is spent talking about a players stats.
    We never discuss Scholes stats or Rooneys or Valencia’s (at least not to the extent Carricks are)

    What frustrates me the most about Carrick is that he seems to lack the belief that he can control games.

    But as you say, its all just opinion.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      David – my data is all OPTA.

      • David Finnegan

        Ed – Cheers, must have a gander, cos I was surprised by some of them. But I’m afraid I will still have to disagree with you about Carrick. I just dont think he is ever going to be the influential player we need him to be.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    ’19 and counting’ carrick didn’t play in the 8-2 but he played the next week in the 5-0 at bolton and kept his place from there, he played his best football in october-december, before scholes turned up

    he’s obviously had an excellent season ffs

  • DeadRevel

    Oh, & Carrick DOES control games. He just doesn’t do it with violent tackles and lots of ‘War Face’ gung-ho, all action English bollocks.

    He is the mild-mannered Geordie metronome.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    “He is the mild-mannered Geordie metronome.”???

    FFS…

  • Herbie Simms

    Antonio Valencia was named player of the season for Man Utd. He won all three awards. His picture is in the newspapers with his three trophies. At the awards, David Gill said that targets have been identified and money has been made available for SAF to buy players to strenghten the squad.

  • Anantax

    I second the ‘let’s not rely too heavily on stats’ argument,

    I might suffer from availability bias, but if I remember the key games for us and which ones of our players stood up to be counted with either a key assist or key goal or key tackle I hardly remember Carrick.

    Even Giggs, who I agree is having a bad season, had that late winner against Norwich, and a couple of key assists in other games.

    Scholes, who only came back halfway, had more key moments. with him in form we definitely controlled games

    Carrick is much improved. And a central piece of our midfield. But when we need someone to crack open defenses, or calm us down, or control the tempo, I dont remember him doing too many of those (disclaimer again that I might only remember more recent games)

  • Will

    More or less agree with all the above. A really good assessment of United’s season.

  • Charmingman93

    Liked the ratings, though you were imo a bit too harsh on Rafael, maybe a 7, I think this is definitely his breakthrough season, he’s not leaving on loan like his twin Fabio is he? He’ll definitely be on SAF’s team sheet. I’d have given De Gea a 7 also but I can see a 6, but I just give him 7 because he kept us in so many games, even ones we lost by a small margin (like both bilbau games). And if Alex has the money as David Gill said, maybe this is some hope?

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Charmingman93 – Rafael played 18 games. Bit hard to give him a high score on that basis. Which is basically my personal rule with all numbers… contribution across entire season.

  • Tom

    Carrick is a good footballer who looks extremely comfortable against average sides
    Just not able to step it up when pressure is applied ie anfield , wastelands, Bilbao , barca etc

  • sheesh

    Hey Ed, are you going to do any more podcasts even though the season has ended? The last one was pretty good.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      sheesh – we’re doing one more this week to wrap up the season, and then I think two or three for the Euros.

  • marlon

    No way this was Rafael’s ‘breakout’ season. He is the 1st choice RB because he is the only RB. Think that all of his problems relate to his judgement and so would be helped by more game time, so he needs to stay fit.

    Was interested that Fergie vehemently defended his medical staff at the awards dinner. Is it just me who draws parallels to the others he defends (Glazers).

  • 19 and Counting

    Ed said:
    sheesh – we’re doing one more this week to wrap up the season, and then I think two or three for the Euros.

    Ed, I really hope to hear from you and Paul on your United INs and OUTs list on this week’s pod. Can I count on you?

  • Herbie Simms

    We need to buy experienced and proven defenders, not all these youngsters with potential. Why do you think Man City are attempting to buy 28 year-old Robin van Persie? Because he is proven and experienced. Now Kagawa at 23 years old is young but already an experienced world class talent in the German premier division and at 7 million pounds he would be an excellent buy for United. Hazard at 18 million is another. With 25 million, we can solve our midfield problems. Now with the departure of Berbatov, we can buy a sriker and a defender for 25 million. Thats 50 million for 4 players and we still have Cleverley and Scholes for cover. I would like for SAF to buy a natural left winger and use Nani as a cover for Valencia on the right wing. I do believe that Nani is not 100% comfortable on the left side and he struggles sometimes. So I’m looking for 5 new quality players. 70 million should do it. Man.City will spend three times that much, so will Chelsea. I see now that Man.City, Arsenal and Juventus are interested in Douglas Costa. He is now in the Brazilian National Team. We could have bought him last season for 12 million. Whats his value now? Come on Fergie, lets get the cheque book out.

  • marlon

    Ed said:
    sheesh – we’re doing one more this week to wrap up the season, and then I think two or three for the Euros.

    Can you give us your take on the Giggs to succeed Ferguson thing:
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/oliver-holt-column-why-ryan-giggs-834703?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      marlon – I’ve no idea about Giggs as a coach, he certainly doesn’t have any experience even at reserve/junior level and I don’t believe he has his ‘A’ badge yet either. But more than that one of the reason’s Guardiola was so successful at Barca was not only he’s clearly a briliant coach but they have a philosophy that runs through the club. Coaching, technique, tactics, playing philosophy is the same at all levels. Also everybody has very clearly defined roles – directors, director of football, coaches.

      This is not the case at United, where there is not a United philosophy and Ferguson is a dictator who then delegates out task. So, as an excercise in theorising, would United appoint Giggs to take over as the dictator, or alter the structure of the club/management processes?

      • Marlon

        Would imagine a dictator – the article mentions scholes and neville as assistants. He’d need a lot of support. Do you really think some reserve experience would be enough? Its not like we’ve got the players Barca did.

        On our philosophy, I’ve seen lots of reserve/u 18 coaches saying that behind the first team there is a philosophy that runs through the other levels. Maybe Giggs would bring it through

        • DeadRevel

          Giggs always seemed like the lest likely to go into management to me. and I lost all respect for him after the tabloid stories. He’s not a United manager.

          Even Neville is too old school for my liking. His prejudice against ‘foreign’ influence is concerning.
          His punditry / ‘analysis’ is so overrated it’s unreal. Just goes to prove that people value strong opinions over actual intelligence.

          Solksjaer is a much better idea. Looks like a modern coach always eager to learn. If anyone is going to ‘do a Pep’ for United it’s him.

  • 19 and Counting

    Commenter said:
    We need to buy experienced and proven defenders, not all these youngsters with potential. Why do you think Man City are attempting to buy 28 year-old Robin van Persie? Because he is proven and experienced. Now Kagawa at 23 years old is young but already an experienced world class talent in the German premier division and at 7 million pounds he would be an excellent buy for United. Hazard at 18 million is another. With 25 million, we can solve our midfield problems. Now with the departure of Berbatov, we can buy a sriker and a defender for 25 million. Thats 50 million for 4 players and we still have Cleverley and Scholes for cover. I would like for SAF to buy a natural left winger and use Nani as a cover for Valencia on the right wing. I do believe that Nani is not 100% comfortable on the left side and he struggles sometimes. So I’m looking for 5 new quality players. 70 million should do it. Man.City will spend three times that much, so will Chelsea. I see now that Man.City, Arsenal and Juventus are interested in Douglas Costa. He is now in the Brazilian National Team. We could have bought him last season for 12 million. Whats his value now? Come on Fergie, lets get the cheque book out.

    1. RVP is not a defender.
    2. Kagawa will ocst 12-15m and Hazard likley 25m.
    3. Berba may stay if a good offer doesn’t come in.
    4. Nani will not be ‘cover’ – he starts or he leaves.
    5. 70m? You’re in dreamland pal.
    6. The Glazers have the chequebook and not SAF so that’s that – hope I’m wrong.

    • shauno

      Kagawa has met with SAF already reports state today. I think thats a done deal. Hazard is on his way to city I reckon. Oh and Toure is being pimped out by his agent. Apparently he wants a new challenge? Extreme muppetry and silly season beckons!

  • http://damiangarside.com Damian Garside

    The thing about Carrick is that we will never know how effective he would have been at orchestrating a game with a Toure or de Jongh player alongside him: a player whose boundless strength could have provided a springboard for Carrick’s passign game to flourish.

    And why not: we all know the answer to that question: no value in the market (especially in central midfield). Which is why I would give Fergie a far lower score than the really charitable 7 he gets from you Ed.

    • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk Ed

      Damian – believe me I changed Fergie’s score about 5 times. 1) he’s squeezed far more out of this squad than anybody else could. 2) He’s made some awful mistakes, but in summer transfer strategy and tactics/substitutions/team selection

      • http://damiangarside.com Damian Garside

        This intrigues me: you changed the score four times! So what was the range (I expect it was 6-8, hence you settled on a 7)? Or was there a moment when his selection for the City game of the greatest little player ever to sell credit cards for United (`Aye the wee laddie can do a great job for us on Toure’)tempted you to go below 6. Or maybe even (Oh the blasphemy of it!)to go below 5?

        For me, judging Fergie’s performance after this monstrous F-up is liking being asking to judge the merits of a painting where the artist accidently pushed his fist through the canvass.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    We need to buy experienced and proven defenders, not all these youngsters with potential. Why do you think Man City are attempting to buy 28 year-old Robin van Persie? Because he is proven and experienced. Now Kagawa at 23 years old is young but already an experienced world class talent in the German premier division and at 7 million pounds he would be an excellent buy for United. Hazard at 18 million is another. With 25 million, we can solve our midfield problems. Now with the departure of Berbatov, we can buy a sriker and a defender for 25 million. Thats 50 million for 4 players and we still have Cleverley and Scholes for cover. I would like for SAF to buy a natural left winger and use Nani as a cover for Valencia on the right wing. I do believe that Nani is not 100% comfortable on the left side and he struggles sometimes. So I’m looking for 5 new quality players. 70 million should do it. Man.City will spend three times that much, so will Chelsea. I see now that Man.City, Arsenal and Juventus are interested in Douglas Costa. He is now in the Brazilian National Team. We could have bought him last season for 12 million. Whats his value now? Come on Fergie, lets get the cheque book out.

    FFS Herbie… quit making up nonsense.

    This Kagawa lad will cost more than £7mill… and if you honestly think Hazard will only cost £18mill… you’re a nut…

    And if you think we’re going to spunk anywhere near £70mill… you’re completely insane.

  • http://twitter.com/dosdamt Ben Hulston

    If we sign Hazard for £18m** I will punch myself in the nutsack* and post in on youtube

    *nutsack will not be visible

    ** if the Euro collapses in value yous can get te fork if ye think I will

  • DeadRevel

    No Carrick in England team… no Rio. No Cleverley…

    But there is Terry, Milner, Barry and Parker.

    Sigh. I thought Hodgeson would actually be decent manager. Well maybe he’ll pull something out of the bag. :/

    • vlad

      oh but that only means less injuries

      • DeadRevel

        Yeh… or they go to the olympics.

  • DeadRevel

    The reason we don’t buy proven players at their peak is because we can’t afford them. Simple.

    But there are players out there who are talented enough, just havn’t been hyped by the media. HOPEFULLY Kagawa falls into this category.

    Cisse for example would have been perfect for us this season.

    If United sort out their scouts (and medical staff) we might be ok.

  • DamnedUnited

    Hazard looks like a combo of Nasri and Tevez. I’ve had enough of watching selfish play when Ronaldo was here (at the expense of Beckham no less).

    So please, no Hazard.

    • DeadRevel

      I take your point, but something tells me you wouldn’t say no to a Ronaldo return….

      • DamnedUnited

        Wouldn’t say no to it, but it wouldn’t drag me to Old Trafford. Or fill me up with enthusiasm about watching United.

        Anyway, is Ruud gonna get a testimonial at Old Trafford sometime?

        • DeadRevel

          Hopefully soon…. as long as Ruuuuuuud donates the proceeds to the Manchester United Transfer Foundation.

  • shauno

    King Kenny SACKED!

    • DeadRevel

      I know…. I’m gutted. They might actually challenge for top 4 now. :(

      • shauno

        Yeah that did cross my mind. In all seriousness this may be the start of Fenway putting the foot down…new manager, stadium generally getting the shit together BOOOO!

  • han

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18084454

    i didn’t know of evra’s brother’s death – i’m sure that has affected his general game both with that and the racist motherfuckers at loserpool on his head

  • han

    Commenter said:
    The reason we don’t buy proven players at their peak is because we can’t afford them. Simple.

    But there are players out there who are talented enough, just havn’t been hyped by the media. HOPEFULLY Kagawa falls into this category.

    Cisse for example would have been perfect for us this season.

    If United sort out their scouts (and medical staff) we might be ok.

    there are loads of quality players out there but our scouts have buried their heads up their arses; how can newcastle pick up gems and yet we pick up the likes of bebe, anderfucker, dong, doofus, etc absolute bollocks
    and our medical team need a fucking medical too – too many long term injuries and shit all correct diagnosis leading to continued and prolonged absences after a few return games
    i hope vidic has been treated outside of the OT medical staff who would be more at home working in a vets

  • DeadRevel

    What confuses me is that this ‘youth policy’ is seemingly a product of Glazernomics… but buying shit youth players isn’t going to make them profit in the long run. However, using Cisse as an example.. if we’d bought him hypothetically we could have sold him on at a significant profit but minimal investment. What has age got to do with it?

    It doesn’t work in a football sense and it doesn’t work financially. Sums up our fucking club doesn’t it.

  • Herbie Simms

    David Gill has said there is plenty of money available. When Kagawa’s name first surfaced, the price was 7 million and Hazard 18 million. Since these players have been linked to Man. Utd, other clubs have jumped into the picture and now the prices have increased. What has happened now, Man United have offered 12 million for Kagawa and both sides have agreed, but its now up to Kagawa to make his decision. Man.City have jumped in and offered 25 million for Hazard, and this is how the prices now get higher to buy these players. Man.City are some greedy bastards! They want to buy everybody. What I’ve read, the Glazers are putting up 100 million for players but Fergie is not interested in spending that money because he says there is no value in the market. I also hear that Nani has not yet signed his new contract and Juventus are going to make an offer for him. You talk about Nani, if Nani is not on the right side, you are not going to get the best out of him. And if Young is better on the left side than Nani, then you tell me where should Nani play in the starting team? On the subs bench as a back up for Valencia. Come on, are we trying to solve our midfield problems or are we looking for the same bullshit.

    • Charmingman93

      Have you considered the fact that the whole “There’s no value in the market” is just a giant mind game? Sir Alex would be insane not to spend 100 mil on players if, according to you it has been offered. Also Nani will share the right wing with Valencia and the left with young, there is such a thing as rotation you know?

  • DeadRevel

    The horse pundit has finally fucked off then.

    Goodbye Michel Owen.

  • 19 and Counting

    Commenter said:
    The horse pundit has finally fucked off then.

    Goodbye Michel Owen.

    …and good riddance!

  • Anantax

    Copy pasted excerpts of Martin Tyler’s Stats column at SkySports below…I think this rather underlines the incredibly poor season we’ve had and what a poor ManUtd team this is despite the “89 points”

    Manchester United lost to Basel after being two goals ahead. The last time that happened was December 8, 1984 when they lost 3-2 at Nottingham Forest in the league

    Manchester United’s 6-1 loss to Manchester City was the first time they’d conceded six at home since a 4-7 loss to Newcastle in 1930.

    Manchester United lost twice to Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League; only the fourth occasion in their proud history that they have been beaten in both the home and away legs of a European knock-out tie

    The last time Man Utd scored 4+ in a league game and didn’t win was on December 7 1974 – when they drew 4-4 away at Sheffield Wednesday

  • sidney

    89 points is a more than respectable total, and one we’ve only achieved once before in the Prem, right?
    Thing is we wouldn’t have achieved that amount of points if we’d have stayed in Europe, largely because Scholes can’t play twice a week

  • http://www.newhallmedialtd.com Calvino

    We could so easily have won this title this season if we had a slightly sensible man on the bench alongside Sir Alex. I can’t forgive the bench for two matches at home: The 1-6 loss to City when we could so easily have lost it 1 or 2 nil; the 4-4 with Everton when we led 4-2 with ten minutes to go.

    In those two matches all we needed was to have tightened up shop and held on to what we had. We did not and those games cost us the title. 89 points was huge. Extremely good. And. To hell with all those who say this is a poor United side. The biggest problem is that watching us many times we looked so uncoached. We are so wide open you could drive a coach through our midfield straight into the heart of our defence and onto goal. Awful.

    City had the best squad in the PL by far. Spent the most money and could still only win the title from us on goal difference. Great credit to the team. No other United team has ever had to contend with the spending powers of Chelsea and now City.

  • Bill

    Isn’t it weird that Phelan almost sounds like or has the same letters as Phil Neal. They do the same thing…yes boss! Only England fans from the 90s will get this probably!

  • Anantax

    Curious….how many of you had belief (or at least fervently hoping) that we would ship 8+ goals past the last two teams and thus win by goal difference?