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Poll: Do you support safe standing at Old Trafford?

Ed February 15, 2014 Tags: , , Polls 12 comments
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Safe Standing could come to Old Trafford, with Manchester United reportedly exploring a ‘rail seat’ trial according to fanzine Red News. Rail seats are dual-mode seats that can either be used as a traditional seat, or locked in an upright position with a bar in place to safely support standing fans.

The technology is widely used in Germany, where standing is legal, while Bristol City have recently installed them at Ashton Gate. In the Bundesliga clubs use rail seats both to increase capacity, boost atmosphere during domestic games, and offer supporters reasonably priced tickets.

However, legislation in the UK currently demands one seat per fan in the Premier League, with traditional standing only permitted in the lower leagues and sports other than football. It is likely a change in legislation would be required to allow safe standing in the Premier League, with up to eight Premier League clubs believed to be supportive of the change according to the Daily Mail.

UEFA does not permit standing of any kind in its competitions, meaning stadia such as Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion lock the seats up for Bundesliga matches and down for the Champions League.

The potential increase in capacity in ‘seat up’ mode depends on the ratio of standing fans to seats, with any Old Trafford trial thought likely to begin at 1:1. Some stadia, such as Bayer Leverkusen’s BayArena, operates safe standing with two fans to each installed seat. The Westfalenstadion provides standing accommodation for 27,000 fans.

However, the cost is not insignificant, with rail seats costing up to 60 per cent more per seat to install than the traditional variety. Clubs converting blocks not ordinarily due for maintenance will face a significant additional capex bill, although installations costs could be offset by a higher capacity. Whether the Glazer family is prepared to push for rail seats, fund installation and lower prices is an open and relevant question.

And even if the cost and legislative issues are resolved there is still the emotive issue of standing in England; rail seats may have little do to with the terraces of old, but memories of the Hillsborough disaster remain fresh.

Given the pros and cons …

Do you support safe standing at Old Trafford?

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Poll: how long should Moyes get to achieve success?

Ed December 8, 2013 Tags: Polls 28 comments
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Time, says David Moyes, is crucial to completing a “transitional period” in the post Sir Alex Ferguson era. Moyes start to life at Manchester United has perhaps been tougher than anybody expected, with the Reds losing five of 15 matches in the Premier League to date. Indeed, play the season forward from here and United’s 22 points will translate into just 56 by the season’s end – leaving the Reds somewhere around 8th and out of the European places altogether.

United’s season will surely not be that cataclysmic, but the numbers don’t lie and the Reds will find it almost impossible to win the Premier League from here, despite Moyes’ claims to the contrary after defeat to Newcastle United on Saturday.

In a competitive league it might take less than the 89 points that secured the Premier League over the past two seasons. But should, say, 82 secure the title come May, United will still need a record that reads 19 wins, two draws and just two defeats before the campaign’s end.

In fact fourth place and a Champions League spot might be tough this season – 50 further points requires Moyes’s side to secure around 16 wins, four draws, and just two further loses. To place this in context, over the past decade it has taken 73, 69, 68, 70, 72, 76, 68, 67, 61, and 60 points to secure fourth, with a lower total coming when a runaway winner has taken the league. In other words, it is likely that United will need in excess of 68 points to claim a Champions League place next season.

This begs a question – what is success and failure for David Moyes, and how long should he get for either to play out?

After all, few fans disagree that Moyes deserves time, but there is little relevance in the now frequent comparison to the time it took for Sir Alex Ferguson to achieve success at United – six long years to secure the title. Ferguson took over an under-achieving squad that hadn’t secured the league title in two decades. Moyes, however, secured a job at the Premier League title champions – a club that now boasts the third highest revenue of any club on the planet.

How long should Moyes get to achieve success?

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Poll: fantasy transfer targets

Ed July 19, 2013 Tags: Polls No comments
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It has been a frustrating summer for those Manchester United supporters expecting the club to build from a position of strength. After all, local rival Manchester City has invested some £100 million on four players this summer; a statement of intent in the most obvious, if crass, terms. Chelsea has spent too, while even Arsenal bid more than £30 million for Liverpool’s striker racist Luis Suárez.

By contrast United’s contribution to world economic output this summer has been a modest £1.5 million spent on Uruguayan under-20 defender Guillermo Varela.

True, the club has seemingly chased several targets this summer – Thiago Alcântara, Cesc Fàbregas, and if rumour is to be believed, Gareth Bale and Luka Modrić. United even made an official bid for Fàbregas, with David Moyes confirming the £26 million bid on Thursday, although at a laughably low figure for a player of the Spaniard’s class.

Meanwhile, rumours of a bid for former Red Cristiano Ronaldo persist, however unlikely. Indeed, executive vice chairman Edward Woodward insists that United’s transfer budget this summer is effectively unlimited, with the club ‘prepared to pay £60 or £70 million on a player’. But do you believe the new chief exec will make good on the promise and bring in major signings this summer?

Will United spend big this summer?

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Poll: Is Moyes right to disrupt United’s coaching set-up?

Ed May 30, 2013 Tags: Polls 49 comments
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“Ferguson and United’s hierarchy had anticipated a smooth transition behind the scenes following the 71-year-old’s retirement,” said Mark Ogden the Telegraph’s Manchester correspondent  on Thursday. Yet, David Moyes introduction to the Manchester United hot-seat has been anything but smooth, with Ferguson, his brother Martin, the chief  scout, and three senior coaches leaving the club this summer.

In addition to Moyes, the Scot’s Everton assistant Steve Round is set to join United, while Toffees veteran Jimmy Lumsden, goalkeeping coach Chris Woods and scout Robbie Cooke could yet join the Reds before the new season starts in August. Meanwhile, former United defender Phil Neville may also be seen at Carrington next season.

The rapid-fire changes impose Moyes’ will on the United coaching set-up, potentially reducing the risk of Ferguson’s long-shadow inhibiting the new man’s work. But does the significant disruption also carry a risk? After all, in losing Ferguson United is now devoid of 26 years of experience. His key lieutenants Mike Phelan, Rene Meulenstein and Eric Steele have been part of 28 United campaigns in aggregate.

Is David Moyes right to disrupt United's coaching set-up?

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Poll: has the campaign been a success?

Ed April 10, 2013 Tags: , Polls 22 comments

Despite Manchester City’s victory at Old Trafford on Monday night it will still take something of a shocking slump for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side not to take the Premier League crown this season. Indeed, with the campaign winding down, it has by any count been a “successful” year. After last season’s disappointment, the Blue half of Manchester is now firmly in its box.

Yet, there have been huge disappointments too. Defeat to Chelsea on both Carling and FA Cups stings, while Sir Alex’ side has seemingly not yet recovered from Real Madrid’s victory in the Champions League.

The campaign’s narrative has also turned – from boisterous attacking flair in the autumn, to a far more conservative outlook post-Christmas. Neither do the stats lie: United is just a single point better off than at this stage last season, while Ferguson’s team has scored less and conceded more in the Premier League.

So, with the season almost over, do you consider it to have been a success?

Has the campaign been a success?

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Poll: can United win another treble this season?

Ed January 20, 2013 Tags: , , Polls 25 comments

With Manchester United top of the Premier League, through to the knock-out stage in Europe and into the FA Cup Fourth Round, Sir Alex Ferguson believes his side could seal trio of trophies this season. Mirroring the 1999 ‘treble’, says Ferguson, is possible due to the depth of resources now available at Old Trafford.

“We want to be involved in everything. We’ve got all three trophies to go for – and we’ve got the squad to do it,” said Sir Alex Ferguson on Saturday.

“It’s absolutely ­brilliant for everyone connected with Manchester United. We have got the excitement of going to Real Madrid in the Champions League and them coming here. We’ve got Fulham in the FA Cup as well after winning our ­replay against West Ham. And if you go back to the year we won the Treble, we had a Cup replay against Chelsea and ­another one against Arsenal.

“The squad is looking very strong at the moment with players coming back in. It’s a period of the season that could be crucial to us if we can keep our momentum going. These are big opportunities for us – and we don’t want to miss them.”

Certainly, Ferguson’s team is ahead of many pundits’ expectations after failing to secure any silverware last season. Ignominiously defeated in Europe, usurped domestically by Manchester City and knocked out of the FA Cup by Liverpool, 2011/12 is a season many supporters would like to forget.

But could this season match United’s greatest ever with three trophies heading back to Old Trafford in May?

Can United win another 'treble' this season?

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Poll: is Tom Cleverley worth it?

Ed October 14, 2012 Tags: , Polls 31 comments

The Mirror reports ;that Tom Cleverley is negotiations with the club over a new five-year contract that will net the midfielder up to £80,000 per week. If signed, the new deal will be the second contract offered to the 23-year-old in little more than a year, earning Cleverley around £20 million over the deal’s lifetime. It represents an eight-fold increase in wages in around 18 months; by any stretch, spectacular financial progress.

Cleverley has become a regular in Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side over the past two seasons – injury permitting – and scored a spectacular goal at St. James’ Park last weekend. The midfielder has also become a fixture in Roy Hodgson’s England team, starting against Sam Marino at Wembley on Friday night.

Yet, with just 21 games played for the club – 15 starts – ;and two goals scored, the England international is still in the very early stages of his Old Trafford career. Farmed out to Leicester City, Watford and then Wigan Athletic, Cleverley still has much to prove at the highest level. ;In reality the ;Basingstoke-born player still has much to prove too, being, for example, just two year’s younger than Lionel Messi and vastly less experienced.

Is Tom Cleverley worth £80,000 per week?

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Poll: should United buy before the window closes?

Ed August 28, 2012 Tags: , Polls 49 comments

Manchester United’s activity in the transfer market is over for the summer, with the club having spent more than £40 million, rising with potential bonuses, on a quintet of new players – Robin van Persie, Shinji Kagawa, Alexander Büttner, Ángelo Henríquez and Nick Powell.

At least that’s the claim made by Sir Alex Ferguson at the weekend, who told reporters that United “definitely won’t be buying anyone else, that is for sure. There is no movement I can tell you about, to be honest with you. There is only a few days left now until the deadline and that will pass quite quickly I would imagine.”

Indeed, with United having spent the £40 million budget ‘guided’ during the summer investor roadshow, few expect additional acquisitions unless there are significant movements out of Old Trafford before the transfer window closes on Friday. Dimitar Berbatov, Federico Macheda and possibly even Nani can be expected to leave the club permanently or on loan.

Ferguson has strengthened United’s attacking resources considerably, with Kagawa and van Persie having already impressed, and brought in cover for Patrice Evra with Büttner. However, some fans have expressed disappointment that no new central midfielder has joined the club this summer – an area long-held as the weakest in Ferguson’s squad.

The question is should United spend more to bring in additional players before the window closes.

Should United buy before the window closes?

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Poll: how should United approach the summer transfer market?

Ed May 3, 2012 Tags: , Polls 60 comments

In the aftermath of defeat to Manchester City on Monday night, Manchester United could end the season trophyless for the first time since 2004. That is unless Papiss Cisse and his Newcastle United colleagues do the Reds a favour this coming weekend, while the Reds emerge victorious from games against Swansea City and Sunderland.

But in a season where Sir Alex Ferguson’s side has lost 11 times, and exited early from four competitions, questions will be asked about United’s quality whatever the conclusion to the Premier League title race.

Critics point to a degradation in squad quality over six years of ownership by the Glazer family, with the club having spent more than £500 million on interest, debt repayment and associated fees over the period. At the same time rivals such as City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona have invested heavily in the market, on both transfer fees and wages.

Indeed, net transfer spend since the Glazer takeover is approximately £7.50 million per season – significantly less that United’s rivals at home and abroad, save for Arsenal. Meanwhile, United has slipped to 12 in the global sports pay scale, behind the aforementioned quartet of rivals, accoring to industry analysts Sporting Intelligence.

There is mitigation. Some fans will point to the £38 million net spent last summer on Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones as proof of United’s investment in youth. While others point to United’s extensive injury list in the current season, or the ‘potential’ of many younger players within the squad during a ‘season of transition’.

The question is where does Ferguson go from here? Spend big in order to compete with the very best at home and abroad, or trust in the current squad and transfer strategy to regain former glories?

How should United approach the summer transfer market?

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Poll: Will United win, lose or draw at City?

Ed April 23, 2012 Tags: , , Polls 65 comments

Following Manchester United’s draw with Everton on Sunday – and Manchester City’s victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers – the Reds’ Premier League lead is now just three points. With just a trio of games to go in the Premier League season the title race could well come down to next Monday’s derby at Eastlands.

Indeed, victory for City will leave Roberto Mancini’s outfit top of the Premier League on goal difference. By contrast, should United triumph at Eastlands Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will require just a single point from matches against Swansea City and Sunderland to secure a 20th domestic league title.

Form and location may favour Mancini’s side, but Ferguson and his experienced lieutenants certainly know how to convert tight situations into victories. Despite City’s infamous 6-1 victory at Old Trafford in the Premier League this season, it was United that took the FA Cup third round fixture at Eastlands in January.

Sir Alex has already labelled next Monday’s match the biggest derby during his 25 year reign in charge of United, claiming that United’s draw with Everton has handed City the initiative. Meanwhile, Mancini has sought to play down expectations at Eastlands by stating that United has already won the Premier League.

But what do you think will be the result in Monday’s derby?

Will United win, lose or draw at City?

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