Match rhythm. It is the esoteric concept that Louis van Gaal insists a player must meet if he is to perform for Manchester United. Nobody is immune from this rule – players must have a few kilometres on the legs before they can be deployed for close to 90 minutes in the first team. Except, of course, for Marouane Fellaini at Anfield.
Sometimes it is the messenger as much as the message that resonates most. The ranking is up for debate, of course, but there is little doubt that Manchester United’s Europa League defeat at Liverpool on Thursday night was one of the club’s most embarrassing in the past three decades. Paul Scholes knew it, Rio Ferdinand saw it, the travelling United supporters left Anfield certain of it. So what is it, exactly, that Louis van Gaal and his paymaster Ed Woodward cannot see?
The world’s best attacks are now summed up in acronyms. BBC (Benzema, Bale, Cristiano), MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar). They’re catchy and memorable. So what to call the new look Manchester United frontline; the M4 perhaps? Memphis Depay, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata may have finally found a winning formula at Old Trafford – and it’s the Spaniard who is at the heart of a positive attacking renaissance.
It has been a disastrous second season at Manchester United – one that has seen support for the Iron Tulip evaporate at an alarming rate. After spending millions in the transfer market, coupled with some exuberant predictions of success, fans have been incensed by humiliating in defeats to Norwich City, Bournemouth and more recently Sunderland. It is a run that threatens to a ruin a third season in a row. Read More
It was a moment of purest theatre. The sharp crack of a bulging net; the roar of an otherwise subdued crowd; the birth of a new star. Marcus Rashford’s neatly taken goal against Danish side Midtjylland in the Europa League last week was a moment that epitomised so much of Manchester United’s 138 years. The club of the Babes, Fledglings and Class of ’92, now perhaps on the cusp of a fresh, youthfully inspired regeneration. Amid increasing frustration, an early goal for the visiting team, and a missed penalty, Rashford’s side-footed finish meant more than most.
No matter how fans receive the news, Louis van Gaal is often the headline. Twitter, Facebook, the Internet; the Dutchman fills plenty of column inches. And whether it’s a focus on the process, philosophy or the recent bizarre remarks about keeping his players “horny,” Van Gaal is bursting with quotes. The downside is the same regurgitated stories, recycled and reworded with a new angle to keep the speculation-driven media happy. Meanwhile, the headlines shift fans’ minds off the players, who for much of the season have failed their manager and club. Read More
October 2013. David Moyes’ Manchester United side is struggling against Paolo Di Canio’s Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. After an agonizingly feeble first-half defensive display, the Red Devils , in the 53rd minute, find a way back to less-than-deserved parity. Nani, pausing on the edge of the 18-yard box, clips a curling, outside-of-the-foot cross toward the back post. Sunderland centre-half John O’Shea clears the ball, unchallenged, to United’s juvenescent number 44. Eighteen-year-old Adnan Januzaj, unperturbed by the pressures of his professional début, strokes an exquisite first-time, left-footed volley into the bottom corner to propel United into the lead. It was Januzaj’s second goal of the afternoon and proved to be the match-clinching strike.
Ever heard of a short story called “Den lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne”? It’s the Danish title for Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale commonly known in English as “The Little Match Girl.” It’s the tale of a poor girl trying, unsuccessfully, to sell matches on the cold streets of Denmark. Eventually, as the temperature drops, she makes her way to a nook and keeps herself warm by lighting the matches she was supposed to sell. With each match struck the girl sees visions of happier places and times. It’s a story that ends in tragedy as the cold finally claims the little match girl. Read More
There are few certainties in life. Death, taxes and José Mourinho becoming the next manager at Old Trafford are three of them. The Portuguese’s long awaited arrival in Manchester to secure his dream job seem a foregone conclusion, and barring another Ed Woodward inspired screw-up, he will likely take charge this summer. Who needs who more – manager or club – is rendered irrelevant this point; Mourinho will be the United manager sooner or later. But what will his Manchester United look like? Read More
Manuel Pellegrini is headed for the unemployment line. The ink isn’t dry on the Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City deal and the Chilean is out of a job when the Catalan begins work in June. With Manchester City’s last two performances it seems Pellegrini’s players have already checked out on him. It begs the question, with a fine managerial record behind him, where next for the affable Pellegrini; and could an unlikely move across the other side of Manchester benefit all? Read More