Last month I had a proper whinge about our abysmal home form, a moan about the relevance of the FA Cup and ended with a flippant call for Moyes to do something to sort things out. To be fair to the manager, my gripes have certainly been addressed over the last few weeks. We’re now losing away games as well (evidence that we’ve discovered some long overdue consistency of performance) and we’ve been knocked out of both domestic cups. This time out I’ll limit my requests to next week’s lottery numbers and a night with Kate Upton if you’re reading, Dave?
I’m writing this in the aftermath of the Stoke game: another mess of a performance and our 8th league defeat of the season – this one with the added bonus of losing two more centre backs to injury. Despite results getting steadily worse as the season progresses, this car crash of a campaign remains quite captivating… in the same way one feels compelled to gawp at someone with an unfortunate facial disfigurement. It’s far too early to start trumpeting ‘things can only get better’, because the very distinct possibility exists they could get a whole lot worse over the next few months.
The one upside of regular defeats is that they stop stinging after a while. For the last 20 years, a narrow defeat in a game we expected 3 points had the ability to wreck an entire weekend. Not anymore. The blows have become so frequent of late that I’m barely flinching now. City are scoring a million goals per game and look unstoppable whereas we’ve gone shit. To deal with it, I’ve focused on not dealing with it – and I’ve discovered that being utterly impassive is helping immensely. It’s a bit mard, I know and I’ll have to face up to things eventually but in the meantime, don’t judge me. This is just how things are… the new reality. We’re surveying the wreckage of the post-Fergie apocalypse.
Even during these dark times, however – there are days that come along which give you a spring in your step, a fresh sense of optimism and some renewed hope that things might be heading in the right direction. No, not the Juan Mata signing – we’ll get to that in a bit. What I mean is that whatever David Moyes does or doesn’t achieve in future, he’ll always have my eternal gratitude for finally ridding us of that appalling, fat waster Anderson.
Quite how this clown managed to complete 6 and a half seasons at OT will be difficult to explain to future generations. He was constantly out-of-shape, his re-fuelling habits a source of mirth even amongst his own team mates and when he did manage to get himself on the pitch, his performances were frequently dreadful. He didn’t tackle, he lacked the energy and discipline to play box-to-box and his passing was woeful… I’m not even going to comment on his shooting technique. Actually, I will – it was completely shit.
The only time Anderson ever looked like he had a genuine (no pun intended) appetite for any on-pitch physical exertion was during end-of-season trophy presentations when he’d rouse himself from his perpetual stupor and head straight for the cameras, doing that samba dance routine that’s mandatory for all South American ex-pat footballers. That’s the sum total of what we’re going to miss from Anderson – his ability to dance and balloon about the gaff whilst sticking his tongue out. I just hope to Christ he manages to convince Fiorentina that his loan move should be made permanent in the summer so we’re rid of him for good, the fucking fraud.
The departures didn’t stop there. Fabio left for Cardiff, which seems a hell of a comedown for a still young, international footballer who featured in a Champions League final less than 3 years ago. Unfortunately he just never seemed to kick on and find a settled position at United – looking identical, playing in the same position and sharing the same impetuous streak as his brother all counted against him in the end. Wilfred Zaha also headed to South Wales and following his debut, has already racked up the same amount of assists that Antonio Valencia has managed all season. The way our season is unravelling, don’t be surprised if he continues this progress and ends up picking up the PFA Young Player award.
Amazingly, it turns out that Federico Macheda is still on United’s payroll and has now been loaned out for something like the 17th time in his career – this time to Birmingham City. Quite why he was ever given a long term deal remains a mystery – as it was clear within weeks of his career high debut that he was incredibly limited and unlikely to make the grade at the top level. Still, he started well at his new club too, scoring a last minute equaliser in a 3-3 draw – which Wikipedia informs me is his 10th goal in 6 seasons. Prolific or what? If he keeps this up, expect United to bring him back in the summer and reward him with a new 5 year contract.
Moyes signalled the start of the transfer window by stating that although he didn’t expect any significant arrivals, “the number of big players who want to join Manchester United is incredible.” Really? Whether this meant ‘big’ as in ‘good’ or ‘big’ as in ‘tall, like Fellaini’ remained uncertain, but within days we’d actually managed to not completely mess up the signing of Juan Mata. This was something of a shock and surely evidence of a u-turn in United’s thinking. In the summer we didn’t pursue a reputed interest in Özil due to still having hope that Kagawa would prove his worth, but surely Shinji’s legion of internet fanboys/apologists would now concede that he simply hasn’t worked out?
Mata, like Kagawa, is undoubtedly a great talent. Unlike Kagawa, however – he’s demonstrated the ability to adapt his talents to the demands of English football. If Moyes has lost patience with Kagawa’s failings and come to the conclusion his future lies elsewhere, then I at least applaud his decisiveness. One of the obvious shortcomings of United’s squad at present is that there are too many habitual under performers – limited players on top wages and long term deals who are going to prove difficult and expensive to replace. Young, Cleverley and Valencia (the first 3 who come to mind… there are more) need to be moved on ruthlessly and efficiently. Signing a player of Mata’s calibre is all well and good, but it’s only going to start paying dividends when he’s joined by 3-4 more of a similar standard.
It was interesting to note the reactions of certain blue-tinged acquaintances of mine following the Mata signing. It’s fair to say they were a tad miffed by events, with them being so well-versed now in outspending United during each transfer window. One on my radar even attempted to outlandishly claw back some moral high ground by asserting that “City have never spent that much on a player.” This didn’t ring true at all, which prompted me to check and discover that Aguero cost them £38M and Tevez, reputedly as much as £45M. City fans taking umbrage with United’s spending – you have to admire their chutzpah, you really do.
Even more comical was the recent publication of City’s accounts for their financial year ending May 2013. Everything appears to be going swimmingly for ‘the project’: losses are down to a mere £52M and their income is now the 6th highest of any club in Europe, a total of £271M. It’s only when you scratch beneath the surface they reveal this figure includes £143M from sponsoring themselves and another £44M from selling intellectual property rights (again, to themselves.) Unsurprisingly, with this fantasy island income stream in place, they are more than confident of meeting UEFA’s FFP requirements. “Growing revenues and controlled expenses are bringing the club to break even in the immediate future, and profitability thereafter.”
I’m going to presume they edited out the “…LOL, not really!”
Copyright Red News – February 2014