Tag Archives: nani

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

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Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money)

fergie book

After a start to the season that proved every bit as testing as the fixture list suggested it would be, United have lurched into what might tentatively be described as ‘a run of form’. The Stoke game demonstrated the extent to which peoples’ expectations have been tempered over the last couple of months – you only had to witness Hernandez’s winner being celebrated like we’d won the European Cup.

The general consensus appears to suggest that Moyes has had a terrible start to his United career, but in reality the team isn’t playing any worse than we did for much of last season. The difference is that last year – through a combination of strength of will and extreme good fortune – we were getting away with it week after week. This season however, we’re being picked off and punished. It’s a simplistic appraisal, I know – but that’s the reality.

United haven’t suddenly become a worse side and only an idiot would claim that our present predicament is down to the change of management. In brutal terms, the limitations of the squad are now common knowledge and teams have sussed we are beatable. It’s not the end of the world, it’s just going to take a while to sort out.

Fortunately for Moyes, most people at OT seem reasonably sanguine about the prospect of a fallow period whilst he gets himself acquainted with the job. Rightly so, too. If a certain amount of goodwill still exists for a pair of clowns like Nani and Anderson after 6 seasons of consistent underperformance, then surely the manager deserves at least a couple of years grace before people start to get on his back?

Nani of course, was the recipient of some grief from the OT crowd following his stinker of a performance and substitution in the aforementioned Stoke game. A few have suggested the reaction in the stands was indicative of the changing make-up of United’s support – the inference being that wigged up muppets have no patience and such wilful insubordination would never have happened in the good old days… which is total bollocks, of course.

Although incidents of individuals being booed aren’t common, they’re not exactly without precedent either. Forlan, Richardson, O’Shea, Fletcher and Carrick (off the top of my head) have all been singled out in recent years – the treatment of Nani has just proven more newsworthy as it’s occurred in a period where the spotlight has intensified due to Moyes coming in and the team looking decidedly out-of-sorts. If Nani wants to guard against similar abuse in future, he simply has to stop playing like he’s missing a brain (tricky, I know) and if substituted, understand that sauntering off pitch in a Neil Webb-style strop is completely unacceptable.

Moyes’ ongoing travails have been a mere sideshow this month, as the real story has been the anything but low key release of his predecessor’s book, the timing of which caused Barney Ronay in The Guardian to amusingly describe Fergie as “the managerial equivalent of the father-in-law from hell”, undermining Moyes with “his continued and undiluted power to fascinate and control.” Moyes of course, would no doubt dismiss such a notion out of hand and launch into an impassioned defence of his mentor. What else could he say? He’s hardly going to admit, “yeah, could do without all this at present.”

It didn’t occur to me to join the scramble for Fergie’s first solo gig at The Lowry but I ended up going down as a good mate of mine was quick on the draw for tickets and managed to grab a pair. I’m fully aware that paying £40 to listen to a bloke being interviewed is fairly unhinged – but once I was offered the chance to go, I didn’t feel I could turn it down. In my defence, it appeared some lunatics were paying £300 a pair on eBay – so despite being a bit of a crank, at least I wasn’t as big a crank as them.

lowry

Any thoughts the event would attract a crowd of thesps and pseuds were immediately banished upon entering the bar – it was packed with so many faces from the match, it was more reminiscent of a United away than a night at the theatre. Denis Law and Albert Kitman were mooching about in the foyer and getting mithered for photos, whilst plenty of CES Security goons were on hand – the fact (gasp!) football fans were in attendance presented an increased security risk, one has to assume.

As well as Albert and Denis, numerous other United luminaries turned out. Moyes himself, Sir Bobby, Capable Hands, Martin Buchan, Mike Phelan… no Woodward strangely – rumours he got confused and spent the night wandering round the Lowry Hotel knocking on random doors are as yet unconfirmed.

In my head I tried to convince myself this might be a proper Q&A, taking the Question Time format where everyone gets to submit a question and a few are selected with a view to stimulating debate and perhaps tease out some new material from the Ferguson archives. Dan Walker even hinted that we might expect rich pickings during his introductory spiel, this was to be Sir Alex ‘up close and personal’ – no cameras, no mics, no press in attendance. Not a chance, sadly.

Instead, to no one’s great surprise, we got an hour of Fergie giving the kind of on-rails interview we’ve seen him do a 100 times before. It was okay and there were a few little bits and pieces to be gleaned, it’s just a shame there was no way he was ever going to deviate from the well-worn script. He wasn’t facing a baying mob of anti-Glazer protestors ready to trip him up or drive him out of his comfort zone, he was sat with a crowd of respectful MUFC loyalists – the very people who’ve hung on his every word for the last quarter century.

As it was, we got a quick run through his career in football with only a few little nuggets that could be considered anything like ‘new’. His favourite non-United player was always Zola; in 27 years he only fell out with 6 players (pardon?!); Liverpool’s record is the yardstick United will always be measured against; and he came up with a great little line that neatly encapsulates the magic of King Eric, “Cantona always made a simple pass look great.” He certainly did.

After an hour, to the strains of The Stone Roses’ ‘Waterfall’ and an inevitable standing ovation, Fergie nearly provided a spectacular end to proceedings by almost walking into a wall attempting a stage left exit. We all received a signed copy of the book to go with the sense of anticlimax whilst the star of the show, presumably, was straight onto a tour bus heading north for the next night’s hometown gig up in Glasgow.

The book itself is anticlimactic too. Anyone hoping it complements the excellent Hugh McIlvanney-penned volume published in the aftermath of the treble season is in for a disappointment. In comparison, Paul Hayward’s effort appears rush-released and thrown together. Whilst it’s all very readable and of interest to any United fan, I found myself flicking back on numerous occasions to check I hadn’t missed a page out due to chapters suddenly veering off-topic or the appearance of an entirely unconnected anecdote. It’s almost stream of consciousness at times – as if Hayward has transcribed the interviews they’ve done and then copy and pasted the most interesting passages. The number of factual errors is also quite unbelievable for such a high-profile work.

Nevertheless, if you haven’t read it yourself yet, it’s almost certain you’ll be getting a copy off Father Christmas in a few weeks’ time. It’s sold thousands upon thousands already and will no doubt continue to do so. Ker-ching! Truth is, it wasn’t even the best autobiography by a legendary, cantankerous dictator released last month. That award, if you weren’t already aware, went to Morrissey.

Copyright Red News – November 2013

www.rednews.co.uk