Transfer Rumor: Who Will Manchester United Sign In the Summer of 08? Robinho, Luis Fabiano or Klaas Jan Huntelaar?

May 29, 2008

Every summer that there’s a major international tournament, a large volume of transfer that normally wouldn’t go through turn into done deals quite quickly. This is compounded by the nearly 50 million pounds shelled out just in the past week or two on just three players- Jose Boswinga for Chelsea, Luka Modric at Spurs and Arsenal’s soon-to-sign Samir Nasri (who is supposed to be the business, but a bit of a diver).

For me, Man United should really be doing better to put Chelsea off from Robinho. I think he’d be a good addition to the side and he would give us that out and out finisher that we currently lack, along with the ability to fit into our fast-paced style of play. He also fits in with this Portuguese contingent that is being instilled in our squad. Robinho hasn’t really developed as an outstanding finisher in Spain, but I think he would be well-suited to the Premier League. Pace and tricks in abundance, I think he would be able to link up much better with our crew than the crap they’ve got going on down at Chelsea.

A lot of people are floating the idea of Luis Fabiano of Sevilla. While there is no doubting the Brazilian’s ability, he doesn’t have a demonstrated track record of success. His stays in French and Portuguese football were both nothing to write home about. However, when he was at Sao Paolo a few years ago he had a real tendency to get involved in scraps and brawls as he really seemed to enjoy winding up opponents. Might fit in well at Chelsea, but I think that he may detract from our style of play a bit. Either way, I’d like to see more of the guy. I would take Robinho over Fabiano though, at this point in time.

Klaas Jan Huntelaar remains a name perpetually linked with United. What else can you say about the Dutchmaster? A slick finisher and a real poacher of goals. He can run at a defense as well, but I can see Fergie wanting to start him off as an impact substitute and then somehow embedding him into the Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez consortium. With three or four different contrasting styles of football running at a defense all at the same time I think we may very well have teams from up and down the English countryside cleaning Hershey-squirts out of their Nike shorts.

Either way, I expect only two signings this summer. One high-profile and the other an emerging player.
Euro 2008 could always offer up another heroic set of performances from players you’ve never heard of before.


Video Highlights: The 07/08 Manchester United Goals of the Year Featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Owen Hargreaves, Nani, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes

May 13, 2008

The end of the season always means a flurry of new lists and commentary where people try to talk up their choices for the best goal of the season. It seems like this year, there hasn’t been much debate about it. Ronaldo’s incredible freekick against Portsmouth encapsulates the brilliance that CR7 has banged out consistently this season. Observe.

#1


You listen to the announcers chuckling and that’s when you realize… that’s all you can really do. Better than Beckham. Here’s what he had to say about it.

#2

While some may not agree, I think that this next one here was the definition of why United won the title: free-flowing football and lethal finishing. Watch this combination from Rooney and Tevez. I would say that their partnership is one of the most interesting and dynamic in the world. After this one, there was no doubt that these two would thrive alongside each other.

#3

Speaking of Tevez, here’s another gem from his performance against Birmingham. The pass from Cristiano Ronaldo is testament to how every attacking player on our team can score and pass at a world-class level.

#4

No goals of the season list would be complete without Wayne Rooney. In off the post for his first of the season.

#5

So now we’ve got Hargreaves against Arsenal. Everybody thought this was coming from Ronaldo, but Hargreaves pops up to score one of the most important goals of the season.

#6

Here’s another Ronaldo free-kick and this one comes against his boyhood club, Sporting Lisbon. Notice how he doesn’t celebrate, a true professional, he doesn’t forget his roots.

#7

Here we’ve got Scholesy’s magic strike to make the difference in the Barcelona tie. We did what needed to be done and ground out a tough, Chelsea-like victory over three hours of high-energy football. Magic stuff.

#8

Nani’s first wonderstrike. A sign of things to come once he sorts out his temperment.

#9

Nani’s second wonderstrike.

#10

Ronaldo knocks the wind out of himself with this one, but this was definitely the header of the season. Incredible stuff.


Manchester United 07/08 Season In Review With Video Highlights

May 11, 2008

The buzz from my Boddington’s is building to a crescendo, whilst the sun shines brightly on a beautiful Pacific afternoon, and this translates into the best time to write up my full Manchester United Season In Review. Let me just crack open another one here.

I am adamant that if last year’s Manchester United would have remained unchanged, we would likely have finished 2nd or even 3rd. The real shining success from this season is a tough thing to pinpoint precisely, but I think Fergie’s astute signings are the main talking point of the season, despite the incredible emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo as a genuine contender for best player in the world. More on him later, but first, let me explain my hypothesis.

Our early 2000’s team blew pretty hard despite the presence of some bigger names and some success on and off the field. The Van Nistelrooy years stand out to me as an era of poor signings that, while they may have been skilled players, didn’t fit into the United system and the likes of Seba Veron, Kleberson, Djemba X 2, Diego Forlan and Liam Miller all proved to be floppish. While I’m not doubting the ability of some of them (namely Forlan and Veron, Miller is still shite though, Djemba has dropped off the face of the earth) these were the wrong types of signings.

The players that Fergie picked up this year all added a different element to the team, without detracting from our overall style of play. Each of the players are extremely dynamic and while regular readers will know my thoughts on Nani (who I think needs more composure to compete at the highest level) each of these four have played a key part in United’s campaign, thus far. While I’m on the topic of Nani, he did singlehandedly deliver three points early on in the season for us in the match against Middlesbrough. While his actions the other week against West Ham were not the type of football I like to see played at United, the lad obviously has the skills to pay the bills. He needs to spend more time soaking up advice from top pro’s like Giggs, Scholesy and Ronaldo in order to reach that level of maturity and composure necessary to compete in the big games. Look at what happened to Rooney this year, Nani needs a dose of that. But watch this video as testament to Nani’s gamebreaking ability.

Oliveira Anderson has provided something unique for United this year- an element of the unexpected. In retrospect, he was our mystery player this year- nobody knew much about him coming in. People had seen a bit of Nani and people more or less knew what to expect from him. Anderson was a different deal altogether. I expected the young Brazilian to come in and act like, as one of my readers predicted, “THE creative midfielder.” Anderson adapted quickly to the pace and hard-hitting nature of the EPL and he shined as a box-to-box midfielder with vision and guile. Like Tevez, he possesses a low center of gravity and this makes him hard to knock off the ball and also gives him the ability to creep up on opposing players and quickly snake the ball from him. He was much more defensive and mentally aware than any of us predicted at the start of the season. While he finished goalless, his contribution was telling in that other teams still haven’t quite figured out how to deal with Anderson. He will wear a United shirt for many many years.

Somebody’s put together a little Anderson tribute here. I think it’s fitting. Give it a look.

As a Canadian, seeing Owen Hargreaves take to the pitch in a United uniform always fills me with pride. Watching this good old boy from Calgary AB out there kicking ass in the name of Man United is one of the greatest pleasures I have. I admire the man’s commitment and professionalism and while he grew up playing for Bayern, he brings the grit and get’er-done mentality that Canadians bring to everything they do. He is our ambassador to England and the Premier League and I think he is an excellent example of the type of versatility Man U have lacked in previous seasons. He is Phil Neville times three. All the versatility and ability to slot in basically anywhere, but he brings free-kicks and hard, lazer-guided tackles to the fore whenever he steps over the white lines. Hargreaves delivered the points at Arsenal and while he was hampered by injury all year, Hargreaves stepped up when he was called upon. Something that can do every Canadian proud.

This will go down as one of the greatest United freekicks of all time. I was shitting myself when he scored this one. These three points made the difference and Hargreaves fucking delivers.

And now, we’ve got Tevez. What more can you ask for from a player? While he isn’t a 30 goal a season man in the vein of Torres, old Michael Owen or Ronaldo, him and Man United formed a symbiotic relationship this year. Manchester United has brought out the best in Carlos Tevez and Carlos Tevez has helped Manchester United get better. Everybody said that him and Rooney were too similar to succeed and that turned out to be one of the talking points of the season. Him and Rooney are similar, and contrary to predictions, it made them a better strike force. They can track each others runs expertly and both can drop deep, while both can play as out and out strikers. Tevez’s versatility is one of the things that allows Man United to play the free-flowing attacking game that we all know and love. He is short, stout, and has the heart of a lion. It’s an honor to watch this man go to work in the service of our team. He is on course to be a Man United legend and I have a feeling that he’s a favourite in the dressing room.

He has a habit of scoring important goals. Case in point:

Now that I’ve addressed my four reasons why we won the title, let’s get to the season’s other main talking point- THE EMERGENCE OF CRISTIANO RONALDO AS THE BEST FOOTBALLER IN THE WORLD. I will argue it with anybody. Nobody plays the game like this guy and what he accomplished this season helped him break the bank, win the the title and shock the world. Over 40 goals from a right-winger is absolutely unprecedented in English football and I will also defend my theory that Ronaldo is blurring the lines between midfielder and striker. He alternates a Jeckyll and Hyde-style double-bill as a winger and old-fashioned center forward, scoring goals for fun and making opponents trip all over themselves. Always labeled as a one-trick pony thirty seconds away from a shampoo commercial, Ronaldo grabbed the team by the scruff of the neck and delivered the goods. This guy is the one who will sell “soccer” to America, not David Beckham. People in North America want to see goals and they want to see exciting stuff. Ronaldo plays football from another planet and the Glazier’s know that he is their best chance at selling the game to the North American audience once and for all. That is why this guy is going nowhere.

Here’s a few highlights from this season to whet your whistle. I’ll have a full bio and review on him coming up in a few days.

The other main point worth mentioning is our defense. The central partnership of Rio and Vidic has been absolutely unparalleled in recent memory and the two will be operating in tandem for almost a decade, they’re flanked by Wes Brown, who finally emerged as the top player we all knew he was (particularly in the second leg against Barca), and Patrice Evra- a more complete version of Roberto Carlos. These guys and Van Der Sar are the unsung heroes of the season. Like they always say- offense wins games, defense wins championships.

And that’s exactly what our boys did today. Ryan Giggs scoring to put the icing on the cake as he matched the all-time appearance record for the team is a story that you just can’t make up. I think you can’t forget how important it was that Chelsea slipped up against Bolton when it mattered most. That gives us the big mo’ going into the Champions League Final.

Drink up United fans- it’s been a long season and we’ve delivered the goods.

Bring on Moscow.


Video Highlights: Manchester United Thrash West Ham 4-1 And Take a Giant Step Closer to the EPL Title

May 3, 2008

After getting up at about 4:45 in the morning, hungover as shit, I managed to watch one of United’s most complete performances of the season. The game was never really in any serious question after Ronaldo pulled off that sickening run to open the scoring. Which sickening run you ask? This sickening run.

If the videos go down, click here and you can watch them all at 1000 Goals.com

The next goal was really more Hargreaves doing, but Ronaldo was right place- right time and managed to stay onside the entire time. Credit to him. His 40th goal of the season. Incredible. What is it? If he scores like 5 goals against Wigan he becomes Man U’s all-time leading scorer in one season? Something like that anyway, I don’t know the specifics, all I do know is that only Brian Law and Ruud Van Nistelrooy have scored more goals than Ronaldo in a season and he’s a winger ferchrissakes.

Then we come to Tevez’ screamer. Absolutely wicked. This guy is probably the best person you could ask for to lead your line in tight games at the end of the season. Tevez may not score 50 a year, but the 15-20 that will score will be made up of some of the season’s most important goals. Check this-

Then we’ve got Michael Carrick’s effort. A true Michael Carrick goal if I’ve ever seen one. He’s been a really give-and-take player this year, putting in a handful of inspiring performances, but most of the time you forget he’s even out there. Face it, the goal was lucky and didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Celebrations were limited as Carrick was scoring against his boyhood team.

This brings us to the unfortunate scenes from Nani. I really think this guy is out of his depth at the moment and I am now 100% certain that he lacks the composure needed to succeed at the highest level. Some people (commentators included) thought he played well against Barca. I didn’t. I thought he screwed up pretty much every move he became involved in and you can tell that he wants to do it all himself. This is a guy who grew up training alongside Ronaldo and he has to sit and watch all of the press and attention Cristiano is getting and I think it makes Nani want to be the front page player even more. I’m not saying the guy isn’t talented, I’m saying he lacks composure. He can’t finish and when he pulls stunts like he did today, he doesn’t realize how embarrassing it is to the team. I think that the Euro this summer will mature him and he’ll come back next season a better player.

After having watched both Anderson and Nani all season, I have to say that Nani is probably the better offensive player, but Anderson is much more complete. His battling presence is always helpful and I haven’t seen him have too many bad games. Anyways, bring on Wigan next weekend. I will be supporting Newcastle whole-heartedly on Monday.

We’re THIS close, guys.


Complete Match Highlights as Manchester United Defeat Barcelona 1-0 To Ensure an All English Champions League Final

April 30, 2008

My previous post today had just Scholesy’s goal. This one has the full match highlights. If it goes down, check this link.


Apologies for not being in English. Although this does sound like a good language to rap in.


Video Highlights: Moscow Looms Large As Manchester United Defeat Barcelona!

April 29, 2008

YYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We did it!

We fucking did it.

I swear to god the ambulances must be busy in the greater Manchester area right now… The tension in that game rivaled that of England-Argentina 98 and that was the precise match that made me a lifelong football fan. This is one for the record books and one for the ages. Probably the nerviest 94 minutes of my entire life. Nobody thought we could hold a 1-0 win, but we did it. We fucking did it.

A LINK TO SCHOLESY’S GOAL… IT’LL GO DOWN IN HISTORY.

COMPLETE MATCH HIGHLIGHTS RIGHT HERE

Think about it- we kept a clean sheet against the feared Barcelona over 3 hours of competitive football. Beat that Arsenal. Beat that Chelsea. Beat that Liverpool. I dare you. I absolutely goddamned dare you to shut out Barcelona with a makeshift defense over three hours of football. Did we blow them away with attacking flair and trickery? Hell no! We won the English way- we ground out the result and wore our opponents down. We invited them onto us and kept the door shut. The same resolve that beat the Nazis over sixty years ago was on display here. The character, guile and class of the English people was exemplified by this group of seemingly random young men hailing from all corners of the globe. We did it and nobody said we could do it this way, but we goddamned did it.

Who would have predicted that the shadow of a seemingly similar set of circumstances nine long years ago would cast itself over this game in the 13th minute of the game. Paul Scholes, who was denied a chance to play (suspension) in 1999 stood up and took his chance with the calm collectedness that we’ve grown accustomed to from the Ginga Ninja over his entire career. A top player and quite possibly the most understated footballing genius on the planet simply said “Yes, I can” when history called upon him today. He stepped up and made the difference. Player of the game- Van Der Sar or Tevez, it’s a toss-up, but I’d say VDS’ key saves kept this one 1-0… Tevez put in the battling performance that I predicted. The entire defense deserves a lot of applause for their gutsy performance, with Hargreaves, Brown, Ferdinand and Evra putting in season-defining performances. Our back four are the reason why we are where we are. You don’t hold a 1-0 lead over two legs against Barca without one of the world’s tightest defenses. After a lot of disappointment this month, we came out on top and won. I’m going to get some beer and steak. The sun is shining and it’s mid-afternoon here. It’s going to be a wonderful day.

Moscow. We belong there. We’re the best. Let’s do it.


Champions League Preview: Manchester United Against Barcelona at Old Trafford

April 29, 2008

Well, it’s about an hour and  a half until kick-off and this is about as nervous as I’ve been all season. I really think this is our season-defining match coming up here and this is my reason why- we’re in the middle of our shittiest run of form of the entire season. In the past few weeks we’ve dropped more points and put in some of the worst performances I’ve seen since the Van Nistelrooy era. Granted, there has been some unbelievably dodgy referring in the past while, but it can’t be the only excuse. The team has failed to put points on the board when it mattered. As of now, our season peaked when Hargreaves put us ahead against Arsenal. It’s been pretty much downhill from there.

Rooney and Vidic are two big question marks. Vidic’s absence has shown just how important he has become to our team. Ferdinand gets most of the credit, but Nemanja seems to be the one that makes the real difference. He isn’t as error prone as Rio and knowledge that he is guarding the backline seems to give players like Ronaldo, Rooney and Hargreaves the ability to get forward and create scoring chances. That’s been our biggest problem the past few games. If United can go out tonight and create 15 really good scoring opportunities, we will convert two of them and win the game. United have to attack and not leave it to the second half.

The optimal scenario, for me anyway, is for us to snake an early goal and then draw Barcelona onto us, but we will need somebody up front to hold up the ball and wait for the defenders. Barcelona play a real pressure-cooker style of defense with men closing you down on the ball as soon as you get it. In terms of positional sense and man-marking Barca aren’t as good, but they close down well and it seemed to affect us in the last game. Barca will definitely be up for this one, the Champions League is really all they have left at this point.

Ronaldo shouldn’t start up front, he needs to come in off the wing. I think Tevez can really be the game-breaker today. He is the footballing equivalent of a power forward in basketball (albeit he’s about 5″ 8). His presence can upset defenders and draw them out of position. Additionally, he boasts the best ability in the league to go from top speed to a complete stop and he uses this to his advantage in games when he sets the tone. Tevez can Barca a new asshole with his runs and ability to hold up the ball. Working closely in tandem with Anderson, whose battling presence will be required to stifle Barca’s midfield, Tevez will create opportunity for Ronaldo to arrive late in danger areas and play the crucial ball at the crucial moment. At least that’s how I see it anyway.

I don’t see it going to extra time. Worst case scenario is Barca scoring early and then parking 10 men behind the ball. Don’t know if they’d be able to hold that, but I’m also unsure whether we could score two. An early goal will set the tone tonight. I just hope we’re the ones that get it.