Tag Archives: bastian schweinsteiger

Keep On Keeping On

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At last! Finally, we’ve done it. The day the naysayers said would never arrive has arrived. Hours upon hours of careful planning, hard work behind the scenes and some inspiring moments of individual brilliance has paid dividends. No, I’m not talking about Red News reaching its 30th anniversary, I’m talking about us no longer being 6th. Win? 6th. 20 games unbeaten? 6th. Draw? 6th. Get beat? 6th. Not any more. Now we’re 5th. Bask in the glory, my friends – this day has been a long time coming.

It’s been a crazy busy last few weeks with games arriving so fast that it’s all passing by in something of a blur. The schedule gets even more congested from here on in with 9 (nine!) games currently scheduled during April. It’s reassuring to note Chris Smalling has allayed concerns about players suffering needless injuries by taking out Phil Jones in England training. At least now there’s less risk of anyone else picking up accidental knocks if Jones is watching from the sidelines on crutches.

Last month also saw us win a trophy and delightfully, cause the ABU nation to suffer a collective seizure by doing so virtue of a wrongly disallowed goal. Although this happened in the first half and Southampton only had an hour to come back from this gargantuan injustice, from that moment on the script was already written. Now I was genuinely perplexed as to why it shouldn’t be offside when there was someone clearly stood 3 yards offside, but apparently they changed the rules about 5 years ago so that you’re only off if the ball is played directly to you. Whaaat? Well I never got that memo, did I? Anyway, suck it up Craig David, Matthew Le Tissier and Jim Bergerac.

Zip up your Fjallraven, jump in the Volvo, slap on some Roxette and head to Ashton IKEA… it looks like we could be going to Sweden! Now Europa League participation normally holds about as much credibility as a David Moyes motivational speech, but it suddenly looks quite appealing now a potential trip to Stockholm is on the horizon. The only problem is I think I’ve only got 1 credit due to being a perpetually skint, semi-retired part-timer. 10,000 tickets is a minuscule allocation for a European final, so the application has gone in for Anderlecht as it will for the semi should we get there. Why oh why didn’t I apply for St Etienne? That’s gonna come back to haunt me, that one.

If we do make it to the final, then it’ll make a fitting finale to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s stint in a United shirt… and may help persuade him to curb his nomadic predisposition and give us another year. Admittedly, I was sceptical upon his arrival but he’s been an absolute godsend in a season where we’ve struggled to score goals. He’s been United’s top player this season, impressing as a leader and instilling a bit of arrogance and swagger back into a squad that was devoid of personalities prior to his arrival. No, Jesse… I’m afraid sticking your tongue out and practising elaborate goal celebrations doesn’t make you a personality, it just makes you look a dickhead.

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If you weren’t an Ibrasceptic previously, then you are probably one of those incredibly smug Zlataphiles who have spent the last 6 months telling everyone, “I told you so.” Congratulations, give yourself a pat on the back. The thing is, when the rest of us were saying, “not good enough” a few years ago, it was with good reason. United had Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo terrorising all of Europe back then, and I’d argue Zlatan wasn’t at their level. He’s only proved himself as a stopgap signing in a vastly inferior set up years later. A harsh assessment given his stellar contribution this season, but we still desperately need to find the player who’ll take us above and beyond where we are at right now.

One hoped that Zlatan’s arrival would curb us of our tendency to struggle at home against packed defences, but it remains this team’s Archilles’ heel. Our overall record this season is decent, with only 3 league defeats all season, but this is pockmarked by rage-inducing home draws when facing utter dross. Stoke, Burnley, West Ham, Hull, Bournemouth recently – each should have been routine home victories. Those 10 dropped points would have had us safely ensconced in the top four now, rather than still sweating on CL qualification.

There was a confirmed departure this month as Bastian Schweinsteiger finally admitted defeat with his saintly charm offensive and packed his bags for the MLS. What a strange character he was. I don’t wish to sound all Brexit but I expect more Teutonic arrogance from my German sporting icons than you ever got with Basti. When Mourinho told him it was over I would have had more respect for him if he’d flounced back to Bavaria rather than forlornly hanging around Carrington helping to put the cones out. I know he was only being professional and he probably is a bloody nice bloke, but I just found it all a bit false.

Finally, huge thanks to AS Monaco for knocking City out of the European Cup and ending the possibility of them ever winning it for at least another 12 months. I’m aware that getting past Bayern, Barca and Real was going to be a very tall order indeed, but those recent-ish Liverpool and Chelsea victories have taught us that it’s very possible for the underdog to scrape through and claim an unlikely triumph. Although we can no longer celebrate their trophyless anniversary each 28th February, at least we still have this little nugget to cling onto until the true football order is restored in Manchester.

Bitter? Moi?

Copyright Red News – April 2017

www.rednews.co.uk

Beyond Belief

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Despite a mixed bag of results on paper, there’s no disputing that last month’s testing run of fixtures proved quite… umm… testing. It was an absolute horror show at times, and proved that early season predictions that some sort of renaissance was underway were well wide of the mark. At the moment, United look to be heading towards mid-table rather than mounting a title challenge. The team is all over the place and we look a mess. Rather than settling in, instead (as many predicted) Mourinho has started to lash out.

During the 27 years of stability under Fergie, we managed to swerve most of the crises that befall other football clubs. Dressing room dissent was dealt with swiftly, underperforming players were removed and any established cliques were abolished. There was no going back for those who’d served their purpose or who fell below the standards he imposed at the club. It didn’t matter if you were Jim McGregor or David Beckham, upset him and you were history.

As supporters, we were complicit in this too. Fergie could get away with making unpopular decisions because of his longevity and his track record – he just wasn’t questioned by the vast majority. (It might be worth adding that I’m talking purely about football decisions here, given that he was rightly called out on his support for the Glazers and his indifference to the wider issues pertaining to the 2005 takeover.)

Post-Fergie, it’s a very different script at Old Trafford nowadays. It started with Moyes, continued with Van Gaal and now a few months into his reign, we’re seeing it with Mourinho too. The minute there’s a few bad results or questionable team selections, the spotlight falls on the manager and his whole tenure is called into question. In other words, we’ve headed down the same path as every other set of dumbo football fans across the country.

The players in place now are a mixed bag that have been brought to the club by 4 different managers, as well as a couple that were reputedly signed by Woodward alone (presumably on the advice of others.) As a group they have failed to adapt to changing systems and appear to lack any kind of team spirit or pack mentality. Despite containing several self-proclaimed ‘big men’, they are soft-centered and crumble under the slightest pressure. They lack bottle, leadership, fight and initiative – it’s a toxic mix of has-beens, maybes and never gonna bes.

Add to this the fact they’ve now successfully seen off two managers whilst absolving themselves of any kind of culpability. I’m aware that Moyes is the John Major of football and Van Gaal was well past his sell-by date – both deserved to go – but this all increases the players’ sense of entitlement and demonstrates their expertise in passing the buck. Enough is enough on that score. If there’s a problem within that dressing room it’s with them as a group, not the new manager. If Mourinho decides the way to proceed is naming and shaming a few in an attempt to get a reaction, then he should be applauded. If they don’t like it, then they can find a club that’s more tolerant of half-arsed mediocrity.

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The camera-friendly, ‘just happy to be here!’ mentality is probably best summed up by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who Mourinho was quick to point towards the exit door within a couple of weeks of taking the job. We’re constantly reminded by his friends and ex-colleagues what a great guy he is, and how they’re disgusted at his treatment, yet what has Bastian actually done here over the last 18 months other then pose for selfies and post self-pitying, #sadface missives on social media? Good riddance to him when he does finally get off his sizeable backside for a similarly underwhelming stint at the Seattle Blue Sox, or whoever else is daft enough to hand him another contract.

If Schweinsteiger is such a proud professional with a burning desire to play football, then he would have listened to what Mourinho was telling him and done what 99% of other footballers do in such circumstances. When informed they’re no longer part of a manager’s plans, most players simply instruct their agents to find them another club. All this nonsense about him loving United is just posturing. The only thing Schweinsteiger admires about United currently is the enormous pay cheque he picks up at the end of each month.

As Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and his cronies at Bayern Munich are so appalled at poor Basti’s plight, then rather than bitching about United and Mourinho, why don’t they pick up the phone and ask him to come back? Exactly. Of course they won’t – because they aren’t that stupid or deludedly sentimental. It’s exactly the same reason Klopp will never hand Gerrard another contract at Liverpool, despite him hanging round Melwood like some sort of lovesick ex-boyfriend. Bayern knew Schweinsteiger was finished 2-3 years ago, the same everyone else in football. Well, everyone except Manchester United, rather embarrassingly.

Finally, like me you’re probably still trying to get your head round the fact that Donald Trump has won the United States presidential election. A power hungry, bad tempered xenophobe running the free world. Scary stuff, eh? Never fear though, as this could actually work to our advantage. Okay, so the end of the world might now be inevitable during our lifetimes, but if he does push the button, at least it could be next May with Liverpool poised to win the title and City in the Champions League final. Keep your fingers crossed…

Copyright Red News – November 2016

www.rednews.co.uk

Get It Together

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For the first time in weeks, right on cue, the sun has decided to make an appearance today. So rather than spending my time productively, making a serious attempt at tidying up the garden (a job that has been pending since the end of last season), instead I find myself stuck indoors writing this. Meanwhile, just a few miles south of here, thoughts are with the editor and his good lady who’re nervously awaiting the imminent arrival of Barnstonworth Chilton Jnr – the firstborn, rightful son and heir to the Red News empire.

With baby already over a week late and his birth now coinciding with this mag’s deadline, it’s debatable whether or not you’ll be reading this on the first day of the season. If this mag has appeared at the Spurs game, then it’s taken a superhuman effort from the Ed (and his incredibly understanding wife) to publish on time. I swear, if Barney actually had hair, it would probably have fallen out again this week.

Anyway, since we’re now in August it’s time for football again, so let’s get down to business. As anticipated, we’ve been reasonably active during the transfer window with new faces arriving and old faces ummmm…. departing. It’s farewell to (oh ffs) Nani, the man who lit up Old Trafford on numerous occasions but spent much of the last 8 seasons making a solid claim to be the most brainless footballer to have featured in Manchester United’s recent history. Bearing in mind his signing coincided with the arrival of Anderson back in 2007, that’s quite an impressive achievement.

Nani had all the tools to succeed but the most well-developed facet of his game was his extraordinary ability to make spectacularly poor decisions. Of course he was able to wallop one in from 30 yards every 3 months, but in-between we had to suffer his bad days which became ever more frequent as his confidence drained and our patience slowly evaporated. Fenerbahce will suit him well providing he gets off to a good start and keeps the loonballs who support them onside, though he’ll soon be hot-footing it back to the sanctuary of Sporting Lisbon if he meets their disproval by not contributing a great deal whilst drawing a sizeable salary.

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Joining him in Istanbul is Robin Van Persie, following a three year spell here in which he performed majestically for 12 months before taking Fergie’s retirement personally and nosediving into a long-term sulk/slump/injury hit decline. Despite leaving us short of out-and-out strikers, his departure is probably for the best as it’s difficult to see how his fortunes would’ve improved with Rooney a guaranteed starter. RVP was a funny one though, in that I could never properly warm to him in much the same way I struggled to accept Teddy Sheringham as one of us.

Although both seemed delighted to arrive here, I never managed to shake the feeling they were just opportunistic Spurs/Arsenal players looking for a shot at a couple of quick medals. It’s a ridiculous assertion I know, with 99% of footballers being glory-hunters with no genuine club affiliation, but seeing him ballooning about on an open-topped bus and kissing the badge just seemed so utterly fake considering he’d spent the previous 8 years in North London.

Next up, how do you solve a problem like Di Maria? Well it looks like you try and flog him to PSG… with his likely departure not coming a moment too soon. I’m hard pressed to recall this clown contributing anything since his goal at Leicester last September, and he’ll rightly go down in history as United’s biggest ever transfer flop. Talk about a letdown… a couple of scallies climb over his fence and wander round his garden last winter and his entire entourage start pining for the green, green grass of Paris. Paris ffs! Fantastically cultured city and all that but Jesus, if he thinks Prestbury is rough just wait ’til the race riots kick off over there again. The guy’s a complete waste of space and I hope he enjoys playing in front of 4,000 people away at Nancy-Lorraine on a Friday night, the absolute fraud.

Anyway, never mind yesterday’s men… it’s all about the latest influx of red-shirted gladiators now. First up is Memphis Depay, announced at the end of last season and already earmarked to be played out of position due to a lack of Rooney back-up. Memphis looks every inch your archetypal, modern day footballer… it’s all £1,200 Louboutin trainers, 4 grand iPhones, eccentric sunglasses and jeans with massive holes in. By comparison, new right back Matteo Darmian appears almost disappointingly normal. Whereas Memphis seems intent on adopting the look of a bisexual rap artist (which he carries off with some aplomb to be fair), Matteo is the image of Neil from The Inbetweeners.

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The big name arrival this summer, who fingers crossed proves a more successful acquisition than either Di Maria or Falcao last term, is Bastian Schweinsteiger. Bavarian warrior, midfield general, lederhosen aficionado… he seems an absolutely perfect fit – the player we’ve been in dire need of for at least 5 consecutive summers. As it is, he’s 31 now, so the days of him rampaging round the field for 50 games a season are probably behind him. If he can stay fit for half of those though, he’ll prove invaluable and a much-needed, experienced older-head for any high-stakes, big-game encounters we face over the coming seasons.

Next up is Morgan Schneiderlin, who sounds like he could be German, but is in fact French. He’s had a bit of a strange career trajectory has Morgan, having played only 5 games for Strasbourg before leaving at 18 to join Southampton. Since then the poor sod has been stuck there for 7 years, only rising to prominence after being called-up to the France squad just prior to last summer’s World Cup. Then, as you may recall, he threw a bit of a strop as the club began selling all their best players. His career has been a bit of a slow-burner then, but 25 is a good age to sign an international midfielder who’s got plenty of experience in English football. Long term replacement for Carrick? Let’s hope so.

The final piece of the jigsaw (thus far) is Sergio Romero. Snapped up on a free following his release by Sampdoria and our latest attempt at signing an Argentinian footballer who won’t turn out to be a complete dick. There’s history there with him and Van Gaal as Romero was in net during Louis’ successful spell at AZ Alkmaar. Presumably he’s just been brought in as cover for De Gea following the falling out with Valdes, assuming the goateed one remains here and hasn’t been shipped off to Madrid at the last minute.

All in all, I reckon we can be reasonably satisfied with what we’ve seen to date. Worryingly however, the one area in which we needed strengthening the most is still to be addressed. Last season proved that Jones, Evans and Smalling can’t be relied upon to remain injury-free for any length of time, so it’ll be a major surprise/minor catastrophe if we don’t see a new recruit in that position before the end of the month. If anything, despite the lack of a striker to replace Van Persie, the squad looks a bit top heavy to me at present. Mata and Herrera especially must be uneasy about their prospects when you consider both the increased competition for midfield places and the fact Van Gaal didn’t seem entirely convinced by either throughout much of last season.

As for Van Gaal’s preferred line up, all shall be revealed over the coming weeks. In the meantime, let’s just try and get some points on the board without resorting to lumping the ball up to Fellaini…

Copyright Red News – August 2015

www.rednews.co.uk