Time to think again about United

Popular opinion has it that the current Manchester United side is one of the worst that Sir Alex Ferguson has assembled in the Premier League era; it’s a criticism repeated often throughout the season. Think back to the late goals conceded against Fulham and Everton early in the season, or the draw at home to West Bromwich Albion, or the much publicised inability – until recently at least – of United to win away from home. Each perceived failure has bolstered the belief that United’s current position owes more to poor quality competitors, than the Reds’ high quality performances. This team, it is said, is not a ‘great’ United side.

But is it that simple?

On 29 November 2010, Barcelona delivered one of the great performances in the modern era against their biggest rivals – Real Madrid. In a match containing 11 world champions, the last two winners of the Ballon d’Or, and the last two managers to lift the Champions League, it was Barcelona who delivered a scintillating performance of skill, imagination, and five unanswered goals. It was genuinely imperious from a side that has won every major trophy entered in the last two years. Moreover, Barcelona is in a fourth consecutive Champions League semi-final and is on course for a third consecutive La Liga title.

Barcelona is the benchmark – not only the success that the club has achieved under Pep Guardiola, but the manner in which it has been achieved – by playing some of the consistently best attacking football seen in the last twenty years. Barça has an incredible 84 points from 31 league games this season, scoring 85 goals and conceding just 16. True greatness.

Ferguson’s latest incarnation, as Didier Deschamps recently pointed out, may lack the ‘stardust’ of previous United sides, and it also lacks the fantasy of a side containing Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andreas Iniesta and David Villa. But can greatness be defined in other ways?

Certainly, a cursory look at the statistics makes for some interesting reading. United has scored 70 goals in 32 league games this season. The United side containing Cristiano Ronaldo scored 80 in 38 games in 2007/08; the treble winning side of 1998/99 also managed 80 goals. In statistical terms at least, United’s current attack is comparable to those famous teams.

United’s home record in the league this season reads 15 wins from 16 games, with 42 goals scored and just nine conceded. And while much has been made of United’s away form, only Arsenal has picked up more points on the road this season. In the Champions League, United has conceded just three goals in 10 games, and none in five away games. The side also remains unbeaten. In fact, United has only been beaten on four occasions this season in all competitions.

Of course, many of the performances this season, particularly away from home have been average at best. Think back to the games at Sunderland, Birmingham City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and worst of all, Liverpool. It is, of course, possible to recall equally dire performances from United every season. It is also true that on many occasions United has dug deep to secure draws or victories when it seemed unlikely – wins at West Brom, Blackpool and West Ham United spring to mind.

True, when compared to the artistry of Barcelona, the current United side looks humble but perhaps its qualities can be defined in other ways. There is something heroic about the way United has seemingly defied the odds this season. The late winner with ten men at home to Bolton Wanderers, or equally later victory secured against Wolves, the stunning goal to win the Manchester derby, and the victory at home to Chelsea on Tuesday.

On Tuesday Chelsea started well, and like many teams this season, made United look uncomfortable. However, United not only scored first but having conceded an away goal Park Ji-Sung scored within a minute to seal the victory. A perfect microcosm of United’s season.

And all this has been achieved despite a plethora of injuries, poor performances and off-the-field problems. Rio Ferdinand has been dogged by injuries, meaning he has only started 21 games in all competitions this season. Antonio Valencia has missed much of the season after a sickening ankle injury. And at various times United has managed without a dozen players, and recently only had four fit defenders to choose from against West Ham.

While some have excelled, others have suffered poor seasons, including Darren Fletcher, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and, until recently at least, Rooney. And with Rooney’s contract saga, bans for Ferguson and the former Evertonian, it has been a turbulent season off-the-pitch. The drama serves only to prove United’s character.

Herein lies the point about greatness – it comes in different forms. While there is greatness in defeating Real Madrid 5-0 in one of the most complete team performances in a living memory, there is also greatness in a team whose sum is more than its parts. There is greatness in Messi, Xavi and Iniesta but also in those less valued; Antonio Valencia, Dimitar Berbatov and Nani, whose collective effort has elevated United’s performances. There is also greatness in longevity: Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar, who defy age each week.

But most of all, there is greatness in the manager. Ferguson has worked with better individuals but has moulded a unit as strong as any he previously created and a tactical system that highlights the team’s strengths and manages to overcome its weaknesses.

Of course, United hasn’t won a trophy yet and if the team ends the season without silverware nine months of endeavour will have been for nothing. But it is also true that this team stands on the verge of something we can truly call great.  While it would be a different kind of great to Barcelona, it would be equally special.

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Comments

  1. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Analyse it any way you like… this is NOT a very good team.
    What it DOES have, is some excellent grafters… Park, Fletcher, Evra, Rooney, Rafa… and a lot of world class experience… Giggs, Scholes, Rio, VDS… and a manager, who is simply legendary in his own time… in 20/30 years, Ferguson will be talked about in hushed tones of reverence, as if he was King Arthur himself, some won’t believe he really existed at all… 25 years in charge, more titles and cups, than the shelves of the British Library could hold… nonsense!
    But for too many of Uniteds games this year… win or lose… fans have been bored to death… and that is NOT Manchester United.
    Having said that… in 20/30 years… no one will care how… they will just remember that this United team won another treble… assuming we win… and that’s the point… if we don’t win, this team won’t be remembered at all.

    “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.”

  2. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    It has been a funny old season, I’ve been as critical as anyone of United’s performances this season, and rightly so I say. Even though the goals tally looks as good as it has at our best, we still haven’t put out inspiring performances for the most part, and even when we’ve won games we’ve looked like we were pushing our luck (last couple of games excepted). You have to wonder about Valencia though, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his return from injury has coincided with Rooney’s return to form. Who knows? Maybe if he’d been fit all season we’d be walking away with the league title by now, we can only speculate.

    There is a certain amount of credit due to Fergie though for instilling such an unbreakable team spirit and determination, pundits have been going on about it all season, but there is a definite “never say die” attitude to this team which shows in the amount of times this season we’ve won without playing to our best, or come back from the death to snatch points, and even if it’s not the “United way”, it’s still to be respected. My main hope is that if this season does end successfully, it can act as a springboard to similar or greater success next season, but ideally with the performances to match.

  3. Bill says

    Greater than the sum of their parts.

    Will win ugly.

    But have started to put their best form together when it really matters.

    Would rather have that than look really good all season and fail down the stretch.

    Will be interesting!

  4. eddieTheRed says

    I would not like to see Barcelona become the model for United to follow; Barca are wonderful at certain things; short pass & move game, closing down, interchanging positions, etc.., but they play in a joke of a league with only one serious competitor.

    United in comparison is a much more rounded team, accomplished in all facets of the modern game, able to play any number of different styles of football to suit the situation or the opposing team; and of course United plays in the most fiercely contested league in the World.

    Barca is also the world leader in diving, harassing referees, feigning injury and if Cadena-de-la-Sur is to be believed: accomplished in the use of performance enhancing drugs as well.

    God forbid United should ever end up like them, so please don’t compare the greatest team in the world of the last 20 years with one that falls short on so many counts!

  5. bman says

    The PL now is a much tougher league than the PL in 98-99, and a much tougher league than the Spanish one. You can only be judged on results.

  6. squigels says

    The Premier League is not a strong league at all. It’s a competitive league with no one outstanding side. Look at the nominees for player of the year this year in comparison to previous winners if you do not think the individual quality has not fallen markedly.

    The criticisms about Barca harassing referees is certainly valid but they would would probably win the premier league by about 20 pts if they were in it.

  7. says

    There is NO chance of Barca winning the league by such a wide margin in England at all Squigs!! La Liga is a joke league and their two clubs are frauds in the way they are all doped up with the funds that the other sides are starved of. In Alves, Busquets and Iniesta they have three of the world’s worst divers – certainly a big taint on their abilities.

    Back to our team, we only need proper ball winners and we will be fine. If Carrick has someone with more energy and oomph to tackle much more then he will be the player we know he can be. We are sorted at the back, we have fabulous wide players, and frontline to compare with any. So, we really are not that bare in terms of personnel.What has happened in some matches especially in the away matches is the poor deployment of players. At Liverpool we were unlucky with injuries to Rio and Fletcher and then Vida suspended.
    I don’t care what anyone says: if we win the league this season then this is another GREAT United side. It means we have always won the title DESPITE the departure of any talisman. That is a feat.

  8. squigels says

    Regarding La Liga, Spurs were knocked out by Real 5-0 on Aggregate, no English team would do that to Spurs and Real are 8 pts behind and have a squad depth that would put any premier league team to shame. Is the same diving taint applicable for players who play in England or in a red shirt as Nani, Rooney and Hernandez are as bad as well.

    Good teams play to the edge of the rules. A great example is the New Zealand Rugby Union team led by Richie McCaw bend the rules every game to an amazing degree. It’s why they are so hard to beat and they are masters of getting away with it, absolute masters. It doesn’t take away from the fact they are good players but also they will take any bit of rope a referee or match official is prepared to give them. Cristiano Ronaldo did for us for years. Its my opinion that Iniesta going down easily does not taint the fact he is a magnificent footballer.

    The premier League has an awful lot to answer for regarding financial fair play so you should direct similar criticism towards the Premier League for allowing what has gone on. It is every bit as bad as Spain.

    Do you really any of the current midfield would have got into the best United teams? If you saw Carrick or Gibson playing for Sunderland or Wolves you wouldn’t look twice, Keane and Scholes they are not.

    Our frontline is magnificent when everyone is preforming but this wasn’t the case for months Re: Rooney, similarly the excellent Valencia has been injured for 5 months. I’m not disagreeing they are good players but we haven’t needed them which would suggest we haven’t had as much top quality opposition. Our squad is good they haven’t had to play particularly well.

    I have to ask.

    Do you think we would have won league titles with our best player not preforming?
    The only example I can give in recent years was 1997 and that team was derided as a poor league winning team. This is similar.

  9. says

    Squigs,
    Real and Barca have their own TV deals. And that has led to them impoverishing the rest of La Liga. In the PL, United can compete with City and Chelsea while the TV revenue is shared properly. I can’t believe we are having this argument to be honest.

    I would have Carrick in most United squads over the years. He has a fantastic range of passing that is grossly underrated. By the way, he also back to his ’07 and ’08 seasons best of winning balls without throwing himself all over the place. Gibson is another matter – he is also not a starter.

    When is it important for a player to perform? Early in the season like Nasri and fade away later, or at the business end of the season? I would have the latter and Rooney is doing just that. ’97, we were coming to the end of an era as Bruce and Cantona left later that summer.

    Spurs got thrashed by Madrid because that idiot Crouch got sent-off. If they had played at the Bernebeu with 11 men they might have lost but they would not have been thrashed.

  10. squigels says

    Owners

    Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayan (Manchester City) £20bn
    Lakshmi Mittal (QPR) £17bn
    Alisher Usmanov (Arsenal) £8bn
    Roman Abramovich (Chelsea) £7.4bn
    Liebherr Family (Southampton) £3bn
    Joe Lewis (Tottenham Hotspur, £2.7bn
    Denis O’Brien (Celtic) £1.87bn
    Stanley Kroenke (Arsenal) £1.85bn
    Glazer family (Manchester United) £1.53bn
    Bernie Ecclestone (QPR) £1.4bn

    A list of then ten richest owners in English Football, you are criticising Barca and Real who are fan owned clubs for exploiting their success and not living off an artificial wealth.

  11. says

    What the heck are you talking about now?
    Barca is one of the biggest frauds in the world. They are just as bad as Real but try to pretend they are above board and do things right. How much in losses did they post last year? It is their attempt at looking ‘bigger and better than other clubs’ that turns me off them. All these rubbish at being owned by fans is just nonsense. It helps that the laws of the land there allow them to get away with murder.

    Real Madrid make Enron and the Vatican look like kindergarten schools when it comes to falsehood. Am sure you know how skint other La Liga teams are while Barca and Real spend squillions on players who sit on their benches. This was the case many years ago when Berlusconi doped his Milan teams with funds while Juve bought referees; the other teams in the league suffered subsequently and Serie A are still paying the price to date. It will happen to La Liga soon.

  12. Ted says

    Calvino said:
    I would have Carrick in most United squads over the years. He has a fantastic range of passing that is grossly underrated. By the way, he also back to his ’07 and ’08 seasons best of winning balls without throwing himself all over the place. Gibson is another matter – he is also not a starter.

    So what? he did a decent pass at Chelsea, but Giggs did the really difficult bit with great control under pressure and a smashing pass.

    No better pass than Rooney’s the other night to Giggs, but no one is jizzing their kex about that are they!

    “Carrick coming back to his 07/08 form” it was 3 or 4 fuckin years ago for fucks sake.

    Like the boy said, if he was at Villa or some other numpty outfit, you would’nt look twice at him. Good players have other clubs interested or may be get a game for their country, he gets neither.

    Nuff said.

  13. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    Calvino said:’97, we were coming to the end of an era as Bruce and Cantona left later that summer.

    Not meaning to be pedantic Cal, but Bruce left United in the Summer of ’96, a year before Cantona retired.

  14. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    I agree with Cal… Barca play fantasy footy in a league that panders to the “el classico”… diving, and ref baiting is so prevalent, because Barca and Real are crucial to the Spanish league, and they know it… I’m not saying the league is fixed, (although you need to ask, why those two teams are allowed so much financial favouritism)… it all leads to an undeserved reputation… they’re big and important clubs, because Spain and the league NEEDS them to be big and important, and that’s why they’re allowed to run up debt, without fear.
    Then there’s the hypocrisy… accusing English clubs of plundering their kids… that they’ve plundered from elsewhere…
    Barca and Real have more technique in their teams, but also consider how they’re allowed to show it… in England their players would get kicked from one end of the pitch to the other… not saying that’s right or wrong, but, let’s be honest… Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and co, might not play with the same verve and freedom, when they face the likes of Cattermole, Barton, Shawcross, Essien, Dunne, Parker, etc, week after week.

    “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.”

  15. bman says

    Ted said:
    So what? he did a decent pass at Chelsea, but Giggs did the really difficult bit with great control under pressure and a smashing pass.

    No better pass than Rooney’s the other night to Giggs, but no one is jizzing their kex about that are they!

    “Carrick coming back to his 07/08 form” it was 3 or 4 fuckin years ago for fucks sake.

    Like the boy said, if he was at Villa or some other numpty outfit, you would’nt look twice at him. Good players have other clubs interested or may be get a game for their country, he gets neither.

    Nuff said.

    Being selected for England’s midfield is hardly the most credible assessment of a player’s worth now, is it? Carrick is a fundamentally very good player whose form has been poor for the past few seasons — that’s a big enough problem without denying that he was good in the first place, which many people still do.

    As for the PL versus Spain — obviously Barca and Madrid are ace teams, but I think the PL is a tougher overall league. Basically no team, or at most one or two, just roll over week-in week-out as at least half the league does in Spain. FFS, the Barca boys only have to show up to win 3-0, it’s a fucking piss take. I don’t know how people enjoy watching that shit, only matches between the top 2-3 teams are worth watching over there.

    It’s hard to compare players now with 98-98, because even though it’s only a decade ago, strength, speed and physical conditioning have come on leaps and bounds, as has tactical awareness. Basically every team in the PL is now capable of playing a decent park the bus strategy against top sides, and they can keep harrying our players for the full 90 minutes in a way that would have made the match stand out as a “tough battle” for Keano and the lads, but is to be expected every weekend now. Players these days have less time on the ball, and showboating that goes wrong will be punished quickly, so our lads have be trained to be more precise, methodical, and efficient, even the ridiculously skilful ones. There’s less room for impressive mazy runs and that kind of shit.

  16. Ted says

    bman said:
    Being selected for England’s midfield is hardly the most credible assessment of a player’s worth now, is it? Carrick is a fundamentally very good player whose form has been poor for the past few seasons — that’s a big enough problem without denying that he was good in the first place, which many people still do.

    As for the PL versus Spain — obviously Barca and Madrid are ace teams, but I think the PL is a tougher overall league. Basically no team, or at most one or two, just roll over week-in week-out as at least half the league does in Spain. FFS, the Barca boys only have to show up to win 3-0, it’s a fucking piss take. I don’t know how people enjoy watching that shit, only matches between the top 2-3 teams are worth watching over there.

    It’s hard to compare players now with 98-98, because even though it’s only a decade ago, strength, speed and physical conditioning have come on leaps and bounds, as has tactical awareness. Basically every team in the PL is now capable of playing a decent park the bus strategy against top sides, and they can keep harrying our players for the full 90 minutes in a way that would have made the match stand out as a “tough battle” for Keano and the lads, but is to be expected every weekend now. Players these days have less time on the ball, and showboating that goes wrong will be punished quickly, so our lads have be trained to be more precise, methodical, and efficient, even the ridiculously skilful ones. There’s less room for impressive mazy runs and that kind of shit.

    Not so sure about that bman. Ronaldo would still shine in this league, absolutely no doubt.

  17. bman says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I agree with Cal… Barca play fantasy footy in a league that panders to the “el classico”… diving, and ref baiting is so prevalent, because Barca and Real are crucial to the Spanish league, and they know it… I’m not saying the league is fixed, (although you need to ask, why those two teams are allowed so much financial favouritism)… it all leads to an undeserved reputation… they’re big and important clubs, because Spain and the league NEEDS them to be big and important, and that’s why they’re allowed to run up debt, without fear.

    Then there’s the hypocrisy… accusing English clubs of plundering their kids… that they’ve plundered from elsewhere…

    Barca and Real have more technique in their teams, but also consider how they’re allowed to show it… in England their players would get kicked from one end of the pitch to the other… not saying that’s right or wrong, but, let’s be honest… Messi, Iniesta, Xavi and co, might not play with the same verve and freedom, when they face the likes of Cattermole, Barton, Shawcross, Essien, Dunne, Parker, etc, week after week.

    Yeah the proof is in the fact that Barca gets away with a ridiculously small squad. If they had that squad in England, they’d be lucky to be able to field 11 players by March. That shows not only that they’re not getting roughed up as much as they could expect in England (which maybe is a good thing), but that they aren’t exerting themselves as much physically. That also means that they can buy fewer, more expensive players, and focus on an awesome first 11 plus a few lads to sub on when they’re ahead by 5 goals at half time.

  18. squigels says

    You suggest the Spanish league is corrupt and of a poor standard and you moan about Barca and Real for negotiating their own commercial deals.

    In the world of capitalism you don’t help your competitors if you can get a better deal elsewhere you take it. The fact that Americans are buying into premier league teams, is that they themselves hope to do this soon and you can hold me to that. English Football has only had three teams win the league for the past 16 seasons, so ignore the Sky Sports hype saying that it’s an open league.

    MUFC are our love but the Premier League is not the promised land especially not the pale imitation of the past 3 seasons.

    The fact is that English clubs have sugar daddys suggests English Football’s finances are far from rosy and the fact clubs need millions and billions invested into them suggests that they can’t make money. In the case of previous owners such as Thaksin at City and Aleksander Gadymak who are actual criminals show corruption in football is at home as well. Read into what happened at Portsmouth as people should be thrown in jail such was the widescale money laundering and fruad. Clubs here can run up debts without fear and international criminals can pass a fit and proper persons test administered by the FA.

    Regarding Barcelona they also beat teams in Europe including English sides regularly. They are the best team in Europe by an absoloute mile and some of these attempts to belittle sucess are somewhat naive and somewhat jealous. Despite their poor finances they can still go out and buy the likes of David Villa, the types of players pre-Glazer we would have been after as well. If the losses are made buying players rather then interest payments I will live with it.

    They are sluggers in the Primiera Liga, the likes of Racing Santander could kick people just as well as any premier league team. People who think Stoke and Bolton would hold them to 0-0 draws are more hopeful then anything else.

  19. bman says

    Ted said:
    Not so sure about that bman. Ronaldo would still shine in this league, absolutely no doubt.

    Yeah, but Ronaldo is famous for being an incredible athlete as well as a footballer – he’s stronger and faster than most other players.

    The other thing that occurred to me, is that part of what makes Barca so great is their intense pressing game. When they do lose the ball, they tend to get it back very quickly. But that’s obviously exhausting, there’s no way they could do that every weekend, let alone twice a week, especially with their small squad. Because La Liga is a doddle for them most weekends, they don’t have to bust a gut, and get to save it up the Champions League or a game against Real.

    For us, a game against any of the top 7 or so PL teams is a likely a tough prospect, but there’s probably only 2 or at most 3 Spanish teams that Real and Barca need to make an effort against. And then there’s several teams that give you a very tough away match, like Bolton, Stoke, Fulham. It’s not just that Barca and Real rarely lose — they rarely fail to WIN. that’s the sign of an easy league.

  20. bman says

    squigels said:

    Regarding Barcelona they also beat teams in Europe including English sides regularly. They are the best team in Europe by an absoloute mile and some of these attempts to belittle sucess are somewhat naive and somewhat jealous.

    Barca’s record in Europe the past few years is not really any better than ours, and substantially worse than their record in their home league. The draw and lose fairly often in Europe, relatively speaking. The difference is that they can keep more juice in the tank for the later rounds, because most weekends back in Spain are a doddle for them.

  21. squigels says

    But our record is substantially better in our home league as well, it’s the champions league it is a higher standard you won’t find anyone to argue that. Re the squad depth Barca and Real are subject to a 25 player squad rule, English teams are allowed the same but can count u 21 players outside the cap. 18 year old youth players shouldn’t count as squad depth.

  22. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Squiggs… Real and Barca can have their own telly deals, only because they’re allowed to… and that’s the point…

    Why do the other teams in Spain allow it?

    In England, the whole league share the telly rights, and none of the teams wants to give up any of their share, and see the big clubs fuck off on their own… and that’s the way it should be…

  23. says

    Real Sociedad? Honestly Squigs, I do give up here. I am not jealous of Barca simply because I do not support any team in their league. EVERY season, my priority is for Utd to win the PL. When we do that am satisfied. I have no obsession with the Champions League neither do I think it is the barometer of a great side. Competing in it regularly is though and we have done that in the last 10 years bar one poor season in ’06.

    Barca are hypocrites. That is what I can not stand given how much grief they give Madrid hence I am with Mourinho as he starts to chart all the bad decisions that go in favour of Barcelona match after match. They dope their team. How can they post losses and still buy Villa? And by the way, Valencia were on the cusp of going burst the other season. One other team can not pay their players wages. the PL refuses for clubs to negotitate their TV deals because that is the fastest way to wreck competition. there is NO competition in La Liga. You think there is? Your choice.

  24. squigels says

    Christ almighty 3/4 of the premier league made losses last year. So all of them should not be allowed to buy players

    You seem to think that due to the tv deals, clubs operate on a level playing field and thats just absolutely false. Manchester United play out of Manchester and sell 75,000 tickets per game. Bolton and Wigan don’t. Football is not a fair game. English football’s financial difficulties are every bit as acute.

    You could go the route of American football and share revenues but the big boys will never allow it.

  25. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    FFS Squiggs, operating in the red is one thing, running up the sorts of debt Real and Barca do, and STIIL being able to spend the way Real did, on Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema… the only English clubs that do that are the Renties and the Bitters… and they’re spending their billionaire owners money.
    And level playing fields?… are you really comparing stadium seating differences, to tv revenues?

    “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.”

  26. bman says

    FFS, I was just looking the Spanish league tables for this year and last. There was a 25 point gap between 2nd and 3rd place last season, and it’s already a 16 point gap this season, so it will probably end up at least 20. TV money has grown really quickly in all the main leagues in the past few years, but because Real and Barca are gobbling up most of it in the whole of Spain, they’re simply taking off to another planet compared to the teams below them.

    When you look at the figures, it’s amazing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deloitte_Football_Money_League

    Last season, Barca and Real between them earned 62% of their entire league’s revenues. That’s fucking ridiculous. For comparison the top two English earners (Utd and Arsenal) together accounted for 26% of the league’s revenues. The third-placed earner in Spain, Athletico, earned only a quarter of the second placed earner, Barca (and the year before that there wasn’t even another Spanish team in whole of the top 20 list).

  27. Youngster says

    I have been following this site for a few months now, and I have to say that I find the articles and posts terrific, so many valid and well thought out opinions from all concerned. When it comes to the quality of this United side, this could be debated ad infinitum. I agree that with regards to the “oft-quoted”, lack of “stardust” comment, I take the point on board. However, when it comes to a team ethic, can you ever recall a team with such determination and “never-say-die” attitude? Bizarrely, this is probably the most “team” team, that SAF has ever produced. Consider it, no Ronaldo, no Cantona, no Keane, no Robson, no one player who the rest of the team can look to to win a game for them on their own. The thing is that every player is well marsahlled and disciplined. As I write these words, even I think, is this the United way? Should we rely on a Best, a Law, or one of the players of the modern era to raise our game and win a match with a moment of individual virtuoso? Or should we be grateful for a team which works cohesively together to produce winning results? Even now, as I recall individual moments of brilliance which have thrilled us all over the years, is there an argument for a team collective or do we prefer the slalom run of Giggs back in 99 to win matches in such thrilling style? Or are we simply happy to win whatever the cost? Maybe I am a bit too pissed and wordy, but perhaps, this is the best ever example of Manchester United working as a team. Whatever happens, let’s all hope for a great result against Citeh tomorrow!

  28. herbie simms says

    Can Manchester United take another step towards an extraordinary unexpected treble? It seems almost impossible, but a victory against Manchester City puts them right on track. There’s no question that this team does not compare to the ’99 treble winning team. The midfield of Giggs-Keane-Scholes-Beckham has yet to be bettered in the Premier League. The fact that 12 years later (and at least five years past their peak) two of those players are still integral to United’s ambitions should tell you all you need to know. But the league title is all but in the bag and United are well capable of beating their noisy Manchester neighbours. So all that really stands between United and a second treble is Barcelona.

  29. Czuk says

    the thing that disgusted me about la liga was that the clubs wanted to stop one match a week being displayed on normal tv. how’s that for money grabbing!?

    not that the premierleague’s any worse in that respect.

    i agree re la liga being ridiculously unfairly balanced… but not re barcelona getting all the calls etc. in matches.

    I enjoyed the article above, I would like to see Man utd play one of the top two spanish teams. i am conflicted between thinking they’d get spanked by either, and thinking that united are better than they appear on paper. I reckon the latter would get proven. Not as technical or anything, but i think if you could compare United would be about as good as Madrid. Not as good as Barcelona, but they are what united were a few years ago.

  30. sheesh says

    It will be interesting to see how much the barcelona – madrid games will take out of the eventual finalists out of those 2. Some people think that barcelona are starting to look a little tired. If we can keep our squad at full strength, having so many options can only work in our favour.

  31. Czuk says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    FFS Squiggs, operating in the red is one thing, running up the sorts of debt Real and Barca do, and STIIL being able to spend the way Real did, on Ronaldo, Kaka, Benzema… the only English clubs that do that are the Renties and the Bitters… and they’re spending their billionaire owners money.

    And level playing fields?… are you really comparing stadium seating differences, to tv revenues?

    what about sponsorship? and at 40 quid a seat at Old Trafford, about 25 home games a season, that’d afford a Rooney a year at least, were transfer budgets to come direct from ticket sales.
    champions league tv revenue
    and lucrative tours to the USA – bolton won’t sell many tickets to Americans on a pre season tour.

    i think the spanish need to sort thier shit out though, though that would probably bugger the league for a while and the liga BBVA would probably not like to see their top two teams uncompetitive in europe.

    I reckon though, if football were to go the American Football route, you’d lose legacies – Manchester United would truly become a ‘franchise’. It wouldn’t represent a power in football anymore, it would just be one of many different coloured shirts.

  32. Victor says

    All this talk of the Premier League being the best league in the world is a joke and quite honestly only media drivel being fed to viewers.

    Also a sign of England’s soft power.

    If the Premier League is so tough, why do England produce such a small amount of talent that can perform at international levels?

    Overrated, overrated and overrated some more.

    The only reason people say that Barca and Real will not be able to do well in England is that they won’t get away with diving. Well England is also the only place where you can get away with breaking someone’s foot on the field.

    And when you have joke referees like Webb and Atkinson, of course no ‘outside’ team will do well.

    The premier league has been so boring this season, it’s unbelievable. The only reason I can’t watch the Spanish League because its games are too late for me.

    But otherwise with regards to the article, well written, and I agree. I haven’t enjoyed watching United this season, but their determination is something to be applauded. Now let’s hope they reward themselves with trophies.

  33. kramer says

    Blog Commenter said:
    All this talk of the Premier League being the best league in the world is a joke and quite honestly only media drivel being fed to viewers.

    Also a sign of England’s soft power.

    If the Premier League is so tough, why do England produce such a small amount of talent that can perform at international levels?

    Overrated, overrated and overrated some more.

    The only reason people say that Barca and Real will not be able to do well in England is that they won’t get away with diving. Well England is also the only place where you can get away with breaking someone’s foot on the field.

    And when you have joke referees like Webb and Atkinson, of course no ‘outside’ team will do well.

    The premier league has been so boring this season, it’s unbelievable. The only reason I can’t watch the Spanish League because its games are too late for me.

    But otherwise with regards to the article, well written, and I agree. I haven’t enjoyed watching United this season, but their determination is something to be applauded. Now let’s hope they reward themselves with trophies.

    the fuck man, if you hate it so much, why do you keep watching and posting?

  34. Wilson says

    When Schmeichel retired United won the treble. Now that VDS is retiring, may be history will repeat itself and United will win the treble again! C’mon United!

  35. kramer says

    nice post youngster, but i don’t think this team is as good as the 06/07 team. that team also had a steely determination to not lose, and we had several comebacks that season. ruud and keane had left the year before and we looked very lightweight with a young squad. and the team played some astonishingly brilliant football to boot.
    still, this is also a very good team with a great mentality.

    • Youngster says

      Thanks Kramer. I think yesterday’s result proves that you are correct, about the 06/07 team being better as we were pretty spineless and I think that I tempted fate with my post! I feel that Carrick’s wafer thin confidence is the key to our midfield conundrum. Back in 06/07 when he was new and fresh, he was inspiring (think about the 7-1 against Roma), however just as I thought that he was emerging from the nightmare of the 2009 CL final, that sloppy pass yesterday! Let’s hope that he can blossom once more…

  36. Victor says

    In the Middle Ages, new brothels were personally inspected by the King of England.

    FUCK – Fornication Under Consent of the King

    Thank you Britain.

    Sincerely,
    Rest of the World

  37. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Blog Commenter said:
    All this talk of the Premier League being the best league in the world is a joke and quite honestly only media drivel being fed to viewers.

    Also a sign of England’s soft power.

    If the Premier League is so tough, why do England produce such a small amount of talent that can perform at international levels?

    Overrated, overrated and overrated some more.

    The only reason people say that Barca and Real will not be able to do well in England is that they won’t get away with diving. Well England is also the only place where you can get away with breaking someone’s foot on the field.

    And when you have joke referees like Webb and Atkinson, of course no ‘outside’ team will do well.

    The premier league has been so boring this season, it’s unbelievable. The only reason I can’t watch the Spanish League because its games are too late for me.

    But otherwise with regards to the article, well written, and I agree. I haven’t enjoyed watching United this season, but their determination is something to be applauded. Now let’s hope they reward themselves with trophies.

    Pay attention, and quit talking shit…

    No one said Real and Barca wouldn’t do well in the Premier League. In fact they’d probably finish 1 and 2, with the teams they’ve currently got… but they sure as fuck wouldn’t run away with it, the way they do in Spain.

    The real point though… when finances are considered, if the two leagues were combined, beside Real and Barca, I doubt any other teams from Spain would make the top 10… and if Real and Barca lost their privileged status, with their special telly deals, and unlimited credit… they wouldn’t be the top two earning clubs in the world… and in fact would face bankruptcy with their current debt.

    • Victor says

      No one’s forcing United not to do their own TV deal. Infact, I can’t believe how stupid they are in agreeing to what the FA and the rest of the league dictate to them regarding TV rights. It’s none of my concern for Stoke or West Ham to be on an even playing field with United. Their dumb fans don’t even appreciate that. All they ever talk about is how United are being helped by the FA blah blah blah. All of this fed to them by the English Media.

      The same media that glorifies the English League as if its some 9 month long Olympic Event. Sorry. The amount of talent that the Bundesliga, La Liga, Portugal and Italy produce is far superior to that of England. And their players are spread across Europe. Why are only a handful of English players playing abroad? Because they are over rated and too costly.

      All the Premier League is, is a collection of rich clubs with no clear policy on buying talent or developing home grown talent.

      As an Englishman it may be painful for you to hear this, but its high time your government or the FA realizes this and stops pre-occupying itself with banning people.

      And call me a glory hunter, I don’t care. I watch football for entertainment and the English League is far from providing that.

      Let’s see which is the better quality game this weekend. Man Utd-Man City or El Clasico.

  38. says

    Victor,
    go and have a sleep. What will make el classico different from Real V Villareal or Barca V any team in La Liga? please.. No one forces you to watch the PL do they?

  39. Victor says

    Gawd. Can you people come up with any other response than a variation of ‘piss off’?

    Guess what? No one forces you to reply to me now do they?

  40. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    It’s hard to have a discussion with someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, so resort to talking shit instead.

  41. squigels says

    We were poor today, that teams limitations have been shown, no real cohesiveness and proof that any team with a good midfield has a brilliant chance against us.

    Carrick is simply not good enough, two games does not make up for two poor seasons and Scholes seemingly runs the line of being sent off in most games he plays now and I am probably his biggest fan. Think Robbo towards the end of his career.

    Berbatov was poor but at least he was on the pitch, Rooney is on 250k a week and is banned because of his utter stupidity and Ferguson and other players at United should remind him of this.

  42. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    this victor really is a bitter racist cunt isn’t he…he must be an arab or something…hates the english

    mind you so do i, and i’m english

  43. Victor says

    Oh man, I didn’t know I was talking to SAF’s and Gill’s friends on this board. Doctorates with United history and tactics yeah? Don’t know what I’m talking about. LOL.

    And the other guy talking about racism. Yeah man, let it all out. You can’t do it in real life, so bring out any far fetched assumptions on the internet.

    Perspective. You not havz it.

    Bene?

    Now as your traditional parting shot,
    go Fornicate Under the Consent of your future King.

  44. Victor says

    OOPS, I didn’t know what I was talking about,
    its
    go (Fornicate Under the Consent of your future King) OFF.

  45. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Blog Commenter said:
    OOPS, I didn’t know what I was talking about,
    its
    go (Fornicate Under the Consent of your future King) OFF.

    “No one’s forcing United not to do their own TV deal. Infact, I can’t believe how stupid they are in agreeing to what the FA and the rest of the league dictate to them regarding TV rights.”
    That is what you wrote…
    If you need someone to explain to you why, “you don’t know what you’re talking about”… tough… I can’t be arsed… either you’re wum cunt… or just an idiot… you decide which.

    “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.”

  46. Victor says

    Hey dumbass, you’re not the only one who can swear.

    Seriously, any contrary opinion here is met with one or more insults in the same sentence strung together without even making sure they make sense.

    I’m sorry I don’t speak Manchester Thug. This would be a better community if the moderation was a bit better here.

    oops, I forgot, community is not part of Manchester Thug dialect.

    No difference between this and the official Man Utd forum. If the official board is that bad, what hope is there in these offshoots.

  47. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Blog Commenter said:
    Hey dumbass, you’re not the only one who can swear.
    Seriously, any contrary opinion here is met with one or more insults in the same sentence strung together without even making sure they make sense.
    I’m sorry I don’t speak Manchester Thug. This would be a better community if the moderation was a bit better here.
    oops, I forgot, community is not part of Manchester Thug dialect.
    No difference between this and the official Man Utd forum. If the official board is that bad, what hope is there in these offshoots.

    Right… I see you’ve decided… idiot it is then.
    Look mate… this is “Rant”… not “toys r us” customer service… people here speak their minds and argue their opinions… but if you’re going to talk shit, like you did, then you can expect abuse… and if you DO make a tit of yourself, a bit of humility and an “oops, my mistake”, is all it takes to put things right…
    You wouldn’t be the first to find “Rant” too rough for a delicate constitution, and you won’t be the last.
    If you stick with it you might find the banter and opinions to your liking, and a change from the “everything is wonderful” world of other forums…
    and if not… don’t close the door on your fingers as you leave.

    “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.”

  48. Spike says

    “This would be a better community if the moderation was a bit better here. “
    Because we Mods let it flow is the reason why this forum is a good one, go to a La La La Glory Glory Man Utd forum if you want your hand held and ya nose wiped.

  49. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    Blog Commenter said:

    I’m sorry I don’t speak Manchester Thug.

    no you dont, but you speak spastic fucking brilliantly

  50. captainhormonecaptainhormone says

    Spike said:
    and you understand it…. looooolomgcopter

    well, someone has to decipher your bollocks on a daily basis, so you sort of get used to it tbf..

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