Tag Archives: zlatan ibrahimovic

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

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In Through The Out Door

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Hello again. Been quite an eventful summer, really – and that’s before you even mention the football. Indeed, the Euros seemed to pass by as a bit of a non-event as the fallout of the Brexit vote took hold of the national consciousness. For the first time in decades, politics became the main talking point across the country for about 2 weeks, before the release of Pokémon GO gave people an excuse to chat about something else instead. Personally I’ve no issue with people crashing cars and walking off cliffs catching cartoon monsters on their smartphones, it’s certainly a more interesting spectator sport than watching England.

Since winning the FA Cup at the close of last season, United have undergone a bit of a transformation. I’m not referring to the new manager or recent signings either, I’m talking at boardroom level. Ever since the evening of Saturday 21st May, Ed Woodward has been doing a very good impersonation of someone doing their job competently. Van Gaal was quickly relieved of his duties, Mourinho appointed seamlessly and potential signings have been identified and completed within a matter of days. Compare this to the mess 3 years ago when one was left with the impression that Moyes wandered into the Old Trafford without having the foggiest who or what was needed to make improvements.

I’d hesitate to use the phrase ‘breath of fresh air’, but having Mourinho installed at long last does feel like a clean start. How long that feeling persists remains to be seen, as we’ve been here before when Van Gaal arrived and brought similar positive vibes into the job with him. Right now, however, I’m feeling quite content… he’s making all the right noises and it’s all been ultra professional and low key so far (as low key as someone so obviously box office can be, anyway.)

What’s proving very obvious even in these early days, is that appointing Mourinho has put United back at the very pinnacle of being able to attract players again. One senses that this summer we’re not hamstrung by the fact the manager isn’t an indecipherable lunatic, instead we’ve got more of a regular lunatic who despite being hard to please, might just turn out to know what he’s doing. Crucially, Mourinho needs this just as much as we need him at this juncture – his reputation was dented by the fallout at Chelsea and the United job offers him a shot at redemption on the biggest stage.

The other ego landing at Old Trafford this summer is Zlatan Ibrahimović, a man who previously rivalled José for the title of biggest bellend in world football, (obviously all that’s forgotten now they’re ‘our’ bellends.) Quite honestly, Christ knows how this one will work out. On the one hand, it’s got Falcao-style disaster written all over it. He’s too old, we’re not good enough to support an immobile, non-tracking striker and he’s capable of looking absolutely average with alarming regularity. On the other hand, if you can ignore all this and dare to dream for a moment, it could just prove to be a stroke of genius.

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United have lost that once innate ability we had to brutalise absolute dross – the sad truth is the likes of Southampton, West Brom and Swansea no longer fear us. We desperately need to get that back if we’re going to be challenging for the title any time soon. In Zlatan, we might hopefully have signed the ultimate flat track bully – someone who will clean up against journeyman defenders and start making us hated again. If he can score 20 goals, wind people up, get sent off 2 or 3 times and transmit a bit of arrogance back to the dressing room (Eric Cantona arrogance, not the ‘I’ve got 5 Lamborghinis’ type) then he’ll have done alright.

Talking of the dressing room, has there ever been a more depressing spectacle than the team bus getting bricked outside Upton Park at the end of last season? I’m not talking about the Danny Dyer-alike bottle chuckers either, I was more appalled at the sight of 20 adult men on board, cuddling each other and taking selfies mid-bombardment. Now as much as I would have gained immeasurable pride if they’d jumped off the bus and steamed into them, I’m aware that probably wasn’t a very realistic proposition. But lads, seriously, you’re representing Manchester United here. Cower a bit, keep your heads down by all means, just try to refrain from shrieking and posting OMG! reaction videos on Instagram.

The other big dawg who looks like he’s set to rock up at OT imminently is Paul ‘Poggers’ Pogba, a mere snip at ONE HUNDRED MILLION POUNDS. I suppose this figure will produce a fair amount of seethe within the AMF community, but quite honestly, who cares any more? In simpler times, I can remember my mum being appalled that Bryan Robson was earning 3-4 grand a week. The amount of cash pouring into football now means that silly numbers like the Pogba fee no longer hold any meaning. We live in an age where Watford can reportedly turn down £30M bids for Troy Deeney and Palace and West Ham are bidding £25M for players. The game is now awash with so much money, the people in charge literally don’t know what to do with it.

In any case, given Pogba’s age, the fact he’s a Raiola player and his oft-mentioned desire to play for Madrid at some point, there’s a very reasonable chance United will be seeing most if not all of their money back in 2-3 years. One suspects he’s being sold this move on the premise that he’ll be off again after a couple of seasons and this is just another step towards that. That’s how Raiola operates and always has done. At least his machinations won’t come as a surprise to United this time out, considering they experienced them first hand in 2012 when Pogba upped sticks for Juventus in somewhat hazy circumstances.

Finally, a couple of wishes for the new season. Can we ensure that none of this Icelandic slow clappy nonsense infiltrates the ground, please? Let’s leave that to Crystal Palace, eh? Also, I’m praying that some mind-numbing variant of the Will Grigg’s on fire song hasn’t already been dreamt up – it’s already well past its sell-by date but it’s kind of inevitable that some bright spark will try and introduce it. You managed to resist vuvuzelas, so you can swerve this too. Don’t let me down, reds.

Copyright Red News – August 2016

www.rednews.co.uk