Tag Archives: fellaini

Mistletoe and Whine

Northampton Town v Manchester United - EFL Cup Third Round

As December arrives, the run of victories needed to signal that progress has been made is still proving maddeningly elusive. Form-wise, it’s exactly the same story as it’s been for much of the last 3 seasons – we win a couple, draw a couple, then there’s a demoralising defeat. Then the cycle starts again. And again. This team never gets as far as turning a corner as it appears destined to go round in circles indefinitely – we’re stuck on a merry-go-round of mediocrity.

One of the curious managerial ticks of Mourinho, besides the booting water bottles and getting himself sent off, is the fact he’s always treated the league cup with an almost unnatural level of respect. Walking away from OT after the West Ham league game last Sunday, the frustration of another draw was compounded by the surety that we’d batter them 3 days later. If only those brief outbreaks of free-flowing football witnessed in the Europa League and EFL Cup could be replicated in the league, eh?

Not a chance. The latest brace of squandered points again came courtesy of the team’s recently acquired habit of conceding within the last 10 minutes, this time directly as a result of Marouane Fellaini’s untimely introduction at Goodison Park. As I’ve stated a number of times previously, and I don’t say this flippantly, the bog-brushed Belgian is football’s version of the Ebola virus. He is a menace and he is dangerous.

Quite why Mourinho, like Moyes and Van Gaal before him, seems to view Fellaini as some sort of trusted lieutenant remains a complete mystery. With his first touch of the ball he passed straight to the opposition, with his second he stuck out a leg and gave away a penalty, then with his third he passed the ball straight out of play. This was the sum total of his contribution having presumably been sent on to add some composure and help see the game out. Composure? I honestly wouldn’t trust him to make a cup of tea without setting himself on fire. I’m not even joking.

If we’re looking for reasons why we continue to struggle, then one needs look no further than the fact that this clown has now racked up 100 appearances for Manchester United. I honestly have no idea how he continues to feature at all. Is he really, really good in training or something? Does his contract stipulate that he has to play a certain number of games? Does he possess incriminating evidence regarding the sexual predilections of an unnamed Glazer family member? Am I missing something? Just… why?

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Since January is fast approaching, it’s fair to assume that we’ll be active in the transfer market again in search of defensive reinforcements – this despite Ed Woodward stating unequivocally at the fans’ forum a couple of months back that there would be no new additions until the summer. Rojo, Jones and Darmian continue to look like disasters waiting to happen, Smalling and Shaw are forever injured… the only one who I’ve any real confidence in is Eric Bailly and of course no sooner is he back from injury, then he’s off to Gabon for the African Cup of Nations.

Antonio Valencia appears to be another Mourinho favourite despite being routinely average week-in, week-out. This is another part of the problem. Because his colleagues are so consistently error prone, journeyman trundlers like Tony gain an unmerited significance in the greater scheme of things. It’s a nonsense really, that an unspectacular winger who was initially moved back as emergency cover has now made the right back berth his own. Quite simply, he’s nothing special. He’s a great athlete, he diligently runs up and down, he makes tackles and he attempts crosses. Jesus, we may as well sign Micah Richards if being merely perfunctory is deemed acceptable.

Instead of signing another 2-3 players in January, it would give me more pleasure if we avoided spending altogether and instead binned 4-5 off the wage bill who are going absolutely nowhere at OT. Memphis, Ashley Young, Schweinsteiger, Fellaini… that’s just for starters. Let’s just get rid and start again. We can persevere with the remaining lot, try and drum some sense into them and if cover is required, farm the youth and reserve teams and let’s see who we unearth. It would be a gamble, obviously… but I’d rather see youngsters given a chance as opposed to bang-average senior pros who don’t have any future here beyond the end of their contracts.

Admittedly, there’s an element of ‘cutting your nose off to spite your face’ in this, but why not? For the last 3 years we’ve had a steady influx of new faces each transfer window and it’s got us precisely nowhere. We’ve spent about £300M at the last count and for what return exactly? We’re on our 3rd manager in 4 years, we aren’t playing any better and the squad is still littered with crap players. Enough’s enough.

It doesn’t matter if we finish mid-table because the way things are going, we’re going to finish mid-table anyway. What’s the point in finishing 6th and qualifying for the Europa League again? That’s doing us no favours whatsoever this year, if anything we’re at a disadvantage given how participation affects preparation time for league games. I genuinely think it would work to our advantage if we resisted throwing money at any further stopgaps, and instead focused on clearing out the dross whilst waiting for proper targets to become available in the summer.

Anyway, I think that’s me done for 2016. Fellaini, Brexit, Trump… it’s been an absolute stinker. Merry Christmas, everybody.

Copyright Red News – December 2016

www.rednews.co.uk

And Suddenly

mata-herrera

Well who would have thunked that then, eh? The blinding first half hour of the Spurs game, when United emerged with their most memorable passage of play in I dunno how long, followed by an equally impressive opening salvo against Liverpool. Same team, same formation, same level of performance. It’s probably 15 years or more since we went to Anfield and controlled the game, but we actually did it. Turned up, dominated possession, created chances, took a couple and won the match. At one point during that 2nd half, when we were 2-0 up and the sun was shining, I’m sure I was actually, ever so briefly, enjoying myself. It soon evaporated when Sturridge scored and we faced a nervy last 20 minutes, but that’s not the point. For a few precious moments, I had the distinct feeling that United were back.

It’s taken until March for Van Gaal to stumble on his preferred line up and it’s one that even the sagiest of sages couldn’t have predicted back in August – Falcao and Di Maria on the bench with Young and Fellaini full of confidence and justifying their continued selection. Personally speaking, I gave up on the pair of them months ago and was somewhat aghast at the fact Van Gaal was still persevering. Fair’s fair though – they’re worth their place at present. Fellaini is still one of the most ungainly players I’ve ever seen – a professional nuisance who looks alright apart from when he has to use his feet. As we saw when he was at Everton, though – when he’s on form and firing he can be unplayable. The footballing aesthete in me still finds him grossly offensive, but there’s no denying that he’s brutally effective at what he does best.

To counter the presence of Fellaini and Phil Jones (another who seems to spend much of his time on the pitch playing a different sport to everyone else), Van Gaal has finally seen fit to unleash Mata and Herrera in tandem and thus bring about this unexpected outbreak of shekshy football. Juan Mata is ace. He’s just bloody lovely isn’t he? He writes a blog every week in which he signs off with hugs, he explores the Peak District on his days off, he tweets monochrome pictures of Manchester’s architecture and he probably likes kittens too. I mean, if you were, you definitely would, wouldn’t you?

Herrera too is the sort of lad who’s more likely to be found wandering round the Whitworth rather than sparring with Phil Bardsley after too many Smirnoff Ices. Like Mata, he looks a smashing player who’s too often been overlooked this season despite impressing when called upon. Since Van Gaal maintains that players are picked on merit, then surely the last two games have shown that the pair deserve to stay in the side for the remainder of the season? Give them a run, see if the team continues to thrive… and if Fellaini’s elbows are required as a counterweight to their lightweight presence, then so be it. I can live with that – at least we’ve got midfielders playing in midfield now.

The victory at Anfield was topped off, of course, with a wonderful cameo by Steven Gerrard who managed less time on the pitch than he did giving his leaden-faced, post-match apology… in which he apologised to pretty much everyone in existence barring the bloke he actually stamped on. The anguish in Martin Tyler’s voice as Martin Atkinson produced the red card was fantastic. Having spent the proceeding 2 minutes furiously spouting every last cliche he could muster, Tyler could barely conceal his disappointment as his planned narrative for the remainder of the match vanished within 40 seconds of Slippy’s grand entrance.

gerrard

There’s no doubting that Gerrard has been a great servant for Liverpool over the years, but as a truly great player he falls somewhat short of the top tier. His career has coincided with both the era of the overhyped Premier League superstar and Liverpool’s decline from the game’s elite, so consequently he’s been lionised and feted by a generation of fans and ex-players desperate to see a return to their glory years. The Gerrard myth was finally exposed for all to see during last summer’s World Cup, when Hodgson made the glaring error of going with public opinion and making the bloke his captain and thus undroppable.

Contrary to Sky Sports’ legend, Gerrard is anything but a selfless leader of men who continues to inspire everyone around him just by frowning and looking serious. It’s a myth. Instead, I’d suggest that Steven Gerrard plays mainly for himself, and has done for years. He’s got a big heart, yes… but that’s part of the problem – all too often he’s relied on that rather than demonstrate a functioning football brain. The reality is that Gerrard is tactically ill-disciplined and fatally flawed as a genuine top-level player. Talented undoubtedly, but as far as Liverpool and England were concerned, too often a liability when the stakes were high and a cool head was required.

Talking of frowning and looking serious, Ryan Giggs has been doing an awful lot of that this last few months. Now I’m no expert on body language, but judging by Giggsy’s current demeanour, life as a key member of Louis Van Gaal’s backroom staff looks to be about as much fun as attending a child’s funeral. You dutifully sit there listening to the big feller muttering to himself, you watch as he makes notes on his big pad, you offer the odd opinion (which he probably ignores) and then when the clowns on the pitch somehow contrive to score a goal, you get rewarded with a slap across the chops for your troubles.

Now I’m not trying to shit-stir and this is based on nothing more than me speculating, but one is left wondering how long this current set-up is going to last. Despite Ryan never being the most expressive of personalities off the pitch (which I can personally attest to having been resoundingly blanked after letting on to him in the bogs at Cheerleaders in the mid-90s… not that I’m still bitter or anything), he just looks utterly fed up at the moment. Maybe it’s the comedown after playing for 20 years, maybe he was short of a better offer after not getting the manager gig himself, maybe it’s nothing of the sort… but something doesn’t look right.

hotel football

Whatever Giggs is thinking right now, his current job is surely still preferable to debating bed linen and shower fittings with Phillip Neville. Yes, the imaginatively named ‘Hotel Football‘ is now open for business and regardless of the fact you or I are unlikely to ever pay it a visit, it’s clearly going to make a shitload of money for the already minted class of ’92 proprietors. The incredible thing about this venture is that it actually exists. I mean, how on earth did they manage to get away with it? United employ departments full of staff tasked with exploiting the commercial potential of everything in the world yet they somehow miss the fact that a strip of land is ripe for development less than a minutes walk away. It’s absolutely absurd.

Every day as Arnold and Woodward drive to and from work, there it is just standing there…. reminding them, taunting them… it must be eating them up seeing all that money being poured into someone else’s pockets right on their doorstep. Next time Joel and Avi turn up you can bet they’ll be ushered in via Stretford Bridge so they don’t see it. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the next scheduled board meeting, “I don’t care about the fact you two idiots have found an official toothpaste partner in Zimbabwe, what the holy fuck is that thing doing over there?!”

Copyright Red News – April 2015

www.rednews.co.uk

Lights, Camera, Action!

truereds

True Reds – Manchester United Season Review 2013/14 (2014, PDI Media, 109 minutes)

Synopsis: 20 times English football champions appoint new manager and set off in pursuit of further glory. Disappointment ensues.

Genre: Sports/Action/Disaster

Starring: David Moyes

Supporting Cast: Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, David De Gea, Adnan Januzaj, Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata.

***Spoilers ahead***

Review: Appearing to little fanfare at the start of the summer blockbuster season, this baffling movie initially promises a lot but quickly loses focus before meandering along for what seems like several hours. The storytelling is somewhat aimless – interviews with principal cast members punctuate a relentless number of repetitive action sequences and the director relies on a voiceover to make up for a lack of basic plot and narrative structure.

The scale and scope of this production is nevertheless, quite impressive. The film features an expensively hired, multinational cast, many thousands of extras and production took place over 9 months on location around England and mainland Europe. Despite this, the viewer is left with an overriding feeling of grave disappointment. Many of the actors appear guilty of failing to read the script and in a few cases, simply phoning in their performances. Indeed, former star turns such as Robin Van Persie (Robin Van Persie) and Ryan Giggs (Ryan Giggs) quite literally disappear for long periods in the middle of the feature.

Based on the evidence here, rumours that production was beset with problems behind the scenes are probably true. David Moyes fails to shine in his first starring role and unsurprisingly, was dismissed from the set weeks before filming was complete. Moyes however, brings a raw emotion to his time on screen – his range of grimaces, whether used in celebration or rueful contemplation, make for some of the film’s most memorable moments. A nod of appreciation too, for newcomer Marouane Fellaini who provides some light relief amongst innumerable harrowing scenes with his crazy haircut and gift for physical comedy.

Verdict: Avoid. A very poor sequel with a leading man who’s simply out of his depth.

True Reds is not showing in cinemas, though is available to purchase now on DVD.

Copyright Red News – June 2014

www.rednews.co.uk