Tag Archives: memphis depay

Let The Sunshine In

image

What a difference a month makes, eh? It now appears very shortsighted of me to have spent almost the entirety of last month‘s column venting about the team’s penchant for conceding late goals before concluding we were heading towards mid-table. Clearly, this current upsurge in form wasn’t something I was anticipating any time soon… that’s what 3 years of spluttering form under Moyes and Van Gaal can do to a man, I guess. Oh me of little faith…

Instead of the regular kick in the balls, we’ve been treated to a month of football that has been a genuine pleasure to witness. Indeed, watching United has probably not been this much fun since the conclusion of the title winning season of 2012/13. For the first time in god knows how long, I’m looking at league tables and fixture lists again. Going to Old Trafford no longer feels like a chore and I’m actually making eye contact with people who want to talk about the game. Yes folks, this is big!

Realistically, and this isn’t some outlandish reverse-curse attempt, we aren’t going to win the league this season. We’re too far behind and even if Chelsea do implode, there are better placed teams than us to take advantage. The thing is though, it doesn’t even matter. Crucially, it just feels like we’ve got something back that’s been missing for ages. Gary Neville suggested it was arrogance which is taking things a bit far I think, it’s more like we’ve regained a bit of belief… the team and the fans.

The Middlesborough game felt absolutely massive (okay, I know it was only Middlesborough but bear with me) given the manner in which we came back to win in the last 5 minutes. If this team does go on to achieve greatness in future, we’ll look back on that day as something of a turning point. For the first time since Fergie left, falling behind with 15 minutes left provided an incentive to do something about it rather than the sight of heads dropping at the sheer injustice of it all.

image

There was no seismic groundswell where the whole stadium stood as one and willed the team forward or anything, such atmospheres just don’t happen at Old Trafford these days, sadly. But the sense of resignation that has greeted such scenarios over the last 3 years wasn’t apparent as the fans got behind the team, the team continued to press… and ultimately got their reward. Belief. It felt like a breakthrough moment, evidence that the penny has finally dropped and they’re evolving into a half-decent side. Where Mourinho and the team are at right now, they (and we) needed something like that to happen.

Anyway, I’m not getting carried away or anything but it’s all quite encouraging… and yes, perhaps the outlook isn’t quite as bleak as what I suggested a month ago. It’s still a work in progress (how many times have we said that over the last 3 years), but for now we look to have a settled team that’s gaining in confidence and improving by the week. Keep progressing in the cups, push on towards the top four and continue playing football that resembles something like the United of old. If we can maintain this current momentum and there’s a few more moments comparable with the Boro turnaround, then that’ll do nicely for the foreseeable.

It’s now looking fairly certain that this month will see the departures of Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin, two players who have been here 18 months but leave having abjectly failed to have made any kind of impression whatsoever. Harsh on Memphis perhaps, who at least provided some merriment with his gargantuan ego and spectacularly bad dress sense. Schneiderlin on the other hand, doesn’t even possess a personality to take offence at – he’s probably the beigest player to have ever played for Manchester United. The only thing I can recall him doing is looking like a Next Directory model, as I’m struggling to pinpoint a single, standout moment in any of his 47(!) appearances.

It’s hard to credit now that back in the summer of 2015, Memphis Depay was unanimously hailed as one of the brightest talents in Europe. Arriving as a prolific goalscorer from PSV worked well for Ruud, and Memphis came with a similarly impressive showreel and long list of suitors. His signing felt like a real coup at the time but it just never worked out. He didn’t have great pace, lacked a trick and couldn’t cross a ball to save his life. In other words, he was no improvement on either Ashley Young or Adnan Januzaj. Factor in his King of Rotterdam, Big Pimpin’ schtick and it didn’t take long for the realisation to dawn that he was more international class bellend than international class footballer.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace - Premier League

Anyway, it’s no great loss in either case and a move away looks to suit both Depay and Schneiderlin at this juncture. Thankfully, Everton still seem confident in the abilities of both so we should recoup a sizeable chunk of the fees paid for the pair of them. Fingers crossed they’ll go on to be a great success for the season’s remainder and buoyed by this, the scousers will return in the summer and offer us £25M to take Fellaini back too. Y’see? Done and dusted, everyone’s a winner.

Another who may find himself back at Everton in the not too distant future is Wayne Rooney, and hearty congratulations to him on equalling Sir Bobby’s record of 249 career goals for United. It’s been a long time coming for Wayne, as he’s finally reached the milestone about 2 years later than one might have anticipated – a once prolific striker nowadays consigned to a mere supporting role.

Mourinho deserves some credit for how he’s skilfully managed to solve the Rooney conundrum with a degree of sensitivity. Both Moyes and Van Gaal found themselves hamstrung by the fact he was club captain and a seemingly automatic first team choice, playing him despite his awful form and terrified of the implications of taking him out of the firing line. Mourinho meanwhile, played Wayne until dropping him became a no brainer – it was the kindest thing to do.

Rooney must know in himself that his career at OT is drawing to a close, yet I read something this weekend about United having an option to extend his contract by a further year. Do me a favour, as things stand it’ll be a major surprise if he’s still here in August given the fact he’s no longer a confirmed starter. Far from kicking off about it, you get the impression that Rooney is fully aware the end is nigh and is now content to be getting any game time at all. Whatever happens over the coming months, 13 years and all-time leading scorer at the club is an incredible achievement. In this red’s opinion at least, the plaudits being thrust his way currently are richly deserved.

Copyright Red News – January 2017

www.rednews.co.uk

Advertisements

Get It Together

bastian

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.

pimpedmemphis

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.

Neil

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

Stormy Clouds

Luke Shaw

As the years go by and the faces change, United never seem to lose that innate ability to make things difficult for themselves. Any thoughts of ending the season on a high have been obliterated in recent weeks, as it only took Carrick getting injured and Rooney dropping back into midfield for old problems to re-emerge. After 3 defeats on the bounce, that period of 4 games when everything clicked during March and April now resembles more of a blip than a season-defining eureka moment.

Although Van Gaal has delivered a return to the Champions League, everything points towards another summer of extravagant spending and further squad upheaval. Back in August, Falcao and Di Maria were the 2 genuine big dawgs brought in yet both have proven spectacular flops. Young and Fellaini meanwhile, despite appearing to have no future here, each end the season as deserved first choice starters. Whether that’ll still be the case at the start of next term remains to be seen, but their upturn in fortunes highlights the futility of making predictions and the absolute minefield that is squad preparation and planning.

As well as the gruesome twosome of Radamel and Angel, the other major disappointment has been Luke Shaw – the £30M wunderkind who is currently looking about £25M overpriced. If you’re being kind, you can focus on the mitigating factors of his age, his inexperience and the constant injuries he’s suffered all season. Worryingly though, on the rare occasions he has featured, I’m hard pressed to recall very much that marks him out as anything special. At all. When I look at Shaw, he makes me think ‘John Curtis’. Playing for United just smacks of too much, too young for him at present – he’d be better off being taken out of the spotlight and trying to get his mojo back out on loan somewhere.

Another one who’s had a tough time of late is Adnan Januzaj, the fleet-footed, ferret-faced great white hope of the Moyes era who looked a genuine contender for about 15 minutes last season. This year, Adnan has been relegated to the dubious role of ‘comes on with 20 minutes left and gives the ball away repeatedly’ – it’s got to the stage where he knows it and everybody watching knows it too. Like Shaw, he looks like he’d benefit from a year away learning his trade elsewhere. He’s clearly not good enough to be starting games, and he’s not making any kind of impression during these brief cameo appearances. Whatever we’re doing with him currently doesn’t appear to be working, which suggests a re-think might be required before his career at OT stalls completely.

Still, as the arrival of Memphis Depay demonstrates, at least we’re doing our ‘business early’. You can’t pick up a paper or watch 5 minutes of SSN without being reminded how important it is to ‘get your business done early’… as if signing players in July or August is a completely catastrophic idea, tantamount to enlisting Harry Redknapp to oversee business on transfer deadline day. I have no idea about Depay. He’s got loads of tattoos, which means he looks like a footballer and he’s apparently got a bit of an attitude problem, which means he also acts like a footballer. Add in a 10 minute highlights reel on YouTube showing him tormenting the likes of NAC Breda and Go Ahead Eagles, and you’ve got all the evidence needed to suggest we’re onto a surefire winner with the lad.

An immeasurably pleasing sub-plot of the Depay capture is the news he was Liverpool’s chief object of desire this summer. Apparently they’ve been courting him for the last 18 months(!) and on one occasion, the player was even blessed with a papal visit from the great man himself, Brendan Rodgers. One can only imagine the cringeworthy introductory spiel he was subjected to, “I see you as a precious orchid, Memphis… I want to nurture you and nourish you.” Little wonder he opted for Old Trafford the moment big Louis strode in and slapped his balls on the table. Naturally, Rodgers was quick to refute any interest on LFC’s part, flatly denying reports to the contrary. This despite PSV recently going on record stating that Liverpool were in regular contact and talks had taken place between club and player. Oh dear.

What then, do we make of Van Gaal’s first year in charge? All season I’ve tried to remain positive, convincing myself we’ve been making progress in the face of setbacks that were to be expected. But truthfully, the last couple of weeks have been as grim as anything witnessed under Moyes. LVG himself hasn’t shown himself up as the barking, strutting mentalist some anticipated. He’s proven himself to be more of a chilled-out entertainer during his TV spots and press conferences – tersely avuncular as opposed to passionately unhinged.

There have been numerous occasions this season where we’ve looked in dire need of some sort of direction from the sidelines, particularly as we’ve struggled with the ability to change tempo and chase late goals. Once upon a time that would have been Fergie’s cue to start prowling the touchline, seeking out an instant response… which he found, more often than not. Van Gaal, almost disappointingly, appears to have taken a vow of stasis in such circumstances. Ryan Giggs easing himself off the bench with his hands in his pockets then waving his arms about a bit just doesn’t seem to have the desired effect.

If we’re assuming another half-dozen new faces arrive and a handful exit the club, that leaves United pretty much where we were at the start of this season. Another £150M down, players attempting to settle into English football and a manager still experimenting with his best formation and starting XL. At the moment, it’s acceptable because 4th represents steady progress after finishing 7th last year. Any failure to challenge for the title next term though, and LVG might be struggling to call on the goodwill he’s being afforded at present. Put another way, it’s doubtful whether many will tolerate a 3rd consecutive season of transition.

Anyway, that’s me done. See you back in August for more idle speculation, poorly judged opinion and juvenile bitching. Hugs.

Copyright Red News – May 2015

www.rednews.co.uk