Tag Archives: Stretty News

Tantrums, Papers & A Bit Of Trash Talk: MUFC September 2011 – Present

Originally posted on Stretty News.

There are all sorts of reports in the press this morning of potential moves and transfers that we could see at Old Trafford in both January and next summer. It’s something we haven’t seen in a while, and talks of a ‘crisis’ are now everywhere since the 6-1 loss to Manchester City.

Many are saying that there could be an exodus over the next couple of transfer windows in order to trim back the deadwood, slash the wage bill and give Sir Alex an opportunity to revitalise and reignite the squad. Anderson, Owen, Rio Ferdinand, Macheda, Diouf, Gibson and Kuszczak could all be shown the door, with Eden Hazard linked to join the club in a £22m deal next summer to spearhead the new-look midfield. There’s also talk of Milos Krasic joining from Juventus, or even a big-money move for Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik – linked to the club since he burst onto the scene in Serie A in 2008.

We haven’t even mentioned whispers of a move for Philipp Lahm to plug the hole at right-back, or talk of triggering the buy-back clause in Ryan Shawcross’ contract at Stoke. It could be a big summer in order to play catch-up with City.

We’ve seen from the last few games that an off-form Rooney can be pivotal in the team, and affects everyone. A big hole in midfield is there for all to see, with there being a large void where Paul Scholes used to be. We can’t blame everything on a lack of midfield, and we can’t moan that the poor performances have nothing to do with it, but at the end of the day, we still have absolutely no chance of filling that midfield with the current crop we have in our squad.

There was also a report this afternoon that Ferguson is ‘past it’. The man who has been in charge for 25 years, overseen several transformations in his time, won 37 trophies and titles, and he still isn’t good enough anymore… Funnily enough, this report has been utterly ripped into and destroyed by not only United fans, but football fans too. It’s ridiculous that it was even written about and considered.

We’ve seen a great start of the season surpassed by a dominant City side, and a few injuries and egos causing issues in the dressing room. We need to sort this as soon as possible, before this season is remembered as the one City became the dominant side.

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The End of the Road for Rio?

Originally posted on Stretty News.

So for the second Champions League game running, we see Rio Ferdinand omitted from the squad and he will play no part in tomorrow’s game with Otelul Galati.

This comes after rumours appeared of offers for Rio to play in the MLS, most notably with Chicago Fire, and even a few whispers of a comeback to Upton Park, with West Ham supposedly making a cheeky loan bid.

Does that indicate tha Fergie believes he may be ‘past it’? Or is this reminiscent of the Tottenham philosophy with Ledley King, and keeping one of our best defenders fit for crucial games?

Personally, I think it may be the sign that Rio is close to either leaving the club, or retiring. I believe Fergie may choose to keep him as a squad player, like that of Gary Neville, but equally, he can be used in necessary situations.

We have two of the best young English defenders in our ranks, in Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Equally, we have Nemanja Vidic who will built a steel curtain if he needs to to sop the ball passing him. The continued interest in Raphäel Varane after the signature of Phil Jones was confirmed shows that Fergie was, and is still shopping around for a world-class young central defender. Obviously, with Varane’s move to Real Madrid, it won’t be him, but there’s still plenty of rumours floating around.

Rio was affected by his injuries last season, and seemingly this is still affecting him this season too. Writing him off would be the wrong thing to do, but not catering for a team without him could be catastrophic. Our defensive frailties have been displayed over the last few weeks, and therefore strengthening is needed. But who knows if, or even when that will come….

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How Norwich Really Did Show Us Up

Anderson scoring United's first goal

Originally posted on Stretty News.

This weekend saw my first league game of the season, against Norwich. The four hour journey up on the supporter’s coach in the brilliant sunshine made for a great atmosphere upon arrival at Old Trafford, but what we saw during the 90 minutes was a very lacklustre United, with something completely missing.

We blamed no Rooney for our poor display against Basel, but I’d go as far as saying that the weekend’s game was in fact worse than our midweek performance. We’re not a one-man team, and Wayne doesn’t make such a difference to our team that he turns us into world beaters, but he sure does put in a shift that all the other players don’t.

It says a lot when our best player at the weekend was a defender – Phil Jones put in an absolutely sterling performance, and his tackle in the second half having slipped and chased back Steve Morison before scissoring the ball and smashing the ball away before he pulled the trigger. Sublime.

But it shouldn’t have been anything like that. Again, Anderson let the whole team down, and it is becoming more and more obvious that he is the weak link. He may have scored our first goal, but he just didn’t play well enough. He smashes the ball too far in front of his feet, and tries to chase the ball, but it inevitably ends up at the feet of the opposition, leaving us another ball to try and win back. Despite all his faults, Tevez used to do something very similar, but he would always chase the ball back and win it for the sake of pride. Ando doesn’t do anything like that, and just stands and watches. Take him out the equation, and put a more experienced, more skilled midfielder in his place, and suddenly we’re a different team. Look how well we played with Tom Cleverley in that spot…

I was also hugely disappointed with Nani. Now, as many of you will know, I’m now exactly his greatest fan – I believe he’s very selfish on the ball, never looks to pass if a shooting opportunity is there, and goes down far too easily. And I admit, these are traits of the early Ronaldo. But does that make it okay to do it?

His crossing is second to none in our squad, and the whip and curl he can get on the ball is incredible. His passing is also pinpoint, providing he chooses to pass it in the first place, mind you… But this weekend, he didn’t seem to do a lot. We needed to exploit the wings, because Norwich were playing very tight, but at every opportunity we had to go forward, he’d run it just that little bit too far and we’d be stuck in the corners with three yellow shirts surrounding us. It all became a little routine, which as we all know is certainly not the United way.

Got to say though, Park had another cracker – he truly is a great player to have in the squad. He chased every ball, he wanted to get the ball forward, and he worked well with the overlap of Evra. He worked tirelessly on Saturday afternoon, and it really was great to see.

But, as every fan who was at the game will tell you, Giggsy is just in another world. He completely changed the game on Saturday. Before he came on, we actually looked a little out of our depth, and a bit sheepish to try and attack, but when Giggsy arrived, we passed the ball quicker, we played it forward at a much more alarming pace, and we started to run rings around their defence. Funny how Giggsy came on and we scored both goals…

All in all, I was very disappointed in the first hour of the game – we lacked experience or any prowess to actually try and win the game. In all fairness to Norwich, they were a unit, and came at us whenever they could. They closed down very quickly, they attacked well, and they were certainly deserved to take more than a 2-0 loss. They’ll do alright this season.

But we have to shake things up, and hope the international break does us some good. There is a lack of presence in midfield, which as one season ticket holder next to me said, we ‘hadn’t seen since just before Veron arrived’, which is quite true when you think about it. There’s no Keane like figure, or a Scholesy type player to get the ball spread around, and then win it back when we need to. That’s our downfall at the minute.

Will we make a signing in January? Fergie always tries to avoid it, but it really wouldn’t surprise me. Someone like Schweinsteiger would really put us back at the top of the game, but I doubt he’ll sign any big name, purely so the squad stays settled. The Sneijder rumours have already begun, too. But any signing we’ll make won’t necessarily strengthen the squad, but add more depth to it. And that’s just what we seemingly need at this moment in time.

And I really hope I have to eat all 857 of my words come Christmas.

Agree with me? Something else to add? Follow me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309. Or get in touch via the official site feed, @StrettyNews!

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Our Midfield Needs Shape, Not Support

Anderson gets beaten. Again.

Originally posted on Stretty News.

There were a few moments on Sunday afternoon against Chelsea where you’d have found me shouting, screaming and swearing at the telly when we just kept giving the ball away. Anderson was the main culprit – you’d think he was playing in blue the number of times the ball miraculously got hoofed to a Chelsea player.

Even Fletch gave the ball away more times than he should do. Now we can excuse him a little because of his lack of game time, but for the ball to end up with a blue shirt usually isn’t how United play football. Ever.

So it begs the question: What the hell is going on?! Is it the fact that our midfield has no experience left? No chance – Fergie has been bringing through players like Ando, Fletch and Carrick for the last five years to make sure they know how to play big games, and play them well.

Is it the formation we play? Nope – we’ve played 4-4-2 for years, and the new 4-4-1-1 formation was introduced properly last season so Chicarito and Rooney could play off each other. And did we give the ball away this much then? Not a hope in hell. So we can’t blame the fact that the ball keeps ending up with the opposition on the tactics chosen.

Is it this new ball? Penalties galore have been missed this season – I think that’s 10 now in the first few weekends of the season. It is apparently Nike’s ’roundest ever’ ball, but surely that can’t have anything to do with it? It’s technique, not the equipment used. A craftsman never blames his tools.

The only thing I can put it down to is the lack of shape in our midfield. Previous seasons has seen Scholesly drop further back, but attack when he’s needed. This season, the experience of the Ginger Prince has been missed, but playing two very static central midfielders doesn’t help. It means that Anderson, Fletcher, Carrick and Tom Cleverley have to attack from defence, and vice versa. So the natural thing to do is boot the ball 10 foot in front of you and chase onto it. In Anderson’s case, anyway…

And what’s been happening is Wayne drops back, so we play almost a 4-5-1, meaning that he can attack, whilst the two other central midfielders stay and defend when needs be. Wayne seems to be the most experienced in the starting XI this season – something that shouldn’t be happening.

The rise of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling has seen our flanks gain extra pace and extra width, but can leave us exposed to counter attacks. Which is when our static defensive central mids come into play, which is very clever and very shrewd tactics from SAF. But it won’t work forever, and Chelsea seem to be the first team to have properly exposed that. Mata and Bosingwa played beautifully together at the weekend, and that’s why Chelsea’s total shots were much higher than ours. (No pun intended, Mr Torres.)

What we need is some solidity in midfield. Anderson seems to be a starter this season, as did Cleverley till Kevin Davies thought he’d take his hacksaw of a leg to another player. Ando is naturally a very attacking player, so put him in front of Carrick or Fletcher – both of whom play quite deep and get the ball forward via other players. That way, we’ll be playing more of a diamond midfield, giving us more depth, and a better dynamic to get the ball to our front two.

And if all else fails, let’s get those Sneijder rumours reignited.

Agree with me? Something else to add? Follow me on Twitter – I’m @Adam9309. Or get in touch via the official site feed, @StrettyNews!

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What A Difference Three Months Makes…

Originally posted on Stretty News.

It’s been a long time since I was last here, typing for Stretty News – nearly three months, in fact. Since then, we’ve seen the transfer window close, the Premier League season begin, and this week sees the start of the Champions League. So what’s happened in the last three months then?

Well, in actual fact, not a lot. We toured the US, we signed a couple of players, and we’ve played a few games to kick off the season. Doesn’t sound like a lot when it’s written like that, so let’s get more descriptive.

We toured the US, picking up thousands of fans along the way, and showing America that ‘soccer’ can be played to a standard where you are in awe of every kick of the ball. We signed three world-class young players, all of whom have started their United careers in the way of future legends, showing every team in the Premier League why we’ve won 12 PL titles. We’ve also played four games in the PL – dismantling Bolton, running circles round West Brom, and putting three past a very mediocre Spurs. Oh, did I not mention the total destruction and annihilation of Arsenal’s ‘youngsters’ – whose average age was in fact actually older than that of United’s?

At this point in time, we really do look unstoppable. We’re playing with a hunger and a drive that hasn’t been seen at Old Trafford for a very, very long time. Some say this could be the foundations for Fergie’s greatest squad. Others have in fact stated that this could indeed be the team to beat the mighty Barcelona. Most United fans are, however, waiting with baited breath, just hoping and praying that this really could be the year.

We’ve settled very quickly into the Premier League season, but so have the blue half of the city we call home. It’s looking like Manchester will hold the top two clubs in the land – certainly if this pace continues. Chelsea have started slowly but will almost certainly pick up once Villas-Boas begins to tear that ‘auburn’ hair out, and John Terry finally stops throwing his toys out the pram and gets on with playing for a team that quite rightly is regarded as a top two club.

But what about the Champions League? Come Wednesday night, that music will start to play and goosebumps will be across the necks of United fans up and down the country.  Benfica are looking lively so far this season, sitting second in the Primeira Liga with 10 points from a possible 12. There are plenty of players that could cause United problems, especially bearing in mind we’re playing away. The Estadio da Luz becomes a cauldron on European match nights, and can become more fiery than the inevitable flares we’ll see in the week.

As a club, we’re knows to always strive for more, and never rest on our laurels. This season, the wave of high morale could drop at any moment, and leave us floating back to square one, and we know full well Fergie won’t allow that. I mean, everyone knows hairdryers and waves don’t mix well…

I’ll be retiring that water analogy right now – I apologise profusely…

The point of this article though, is that we can’t measure quite how far we’ve come so far this season, because we’ve just continued exactly where we left off last season. Yes, we were picked apart by a Barca team widely regarded as one of the greatest football teams of all time, but look at the success we had domestically. Look at the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Chelsea.

Measure this team on how well they’ve become one. They’re a unit, not eleven nutjobs running round the pitch. They’re at the top of their game, and right now, they can only continue to grow, impress, and continue to become a wonderful team to watch.

Agree with me? Want to make your own opinions heard? Contact me on Twitter via @Adam9309, or via the site’s official account – @StrettyNews!

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Dimitar Berbatov: Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

Originally posted on Stretty News.

The Clash recorded this iconic hit in 1981. Ironically, the year Mr Berbatov was born.

Our £30.75m Number 9 looked set to be leaving the club after the Champions League Final defeat against Barcelona at the end of May. Having been left out of the match squad, rumours swamped the internet that he’d left Wembley early and was angry and upset with Fergie, and with the club as a whole. Rumours later denied by both club and player.

After the emergence of Chicharito, and the impeccable form of Wayne Rooney, who could blame Sir Alex in leaving him out the final few games of the season? Certainly against Barca – the pace of our front men was one of the only positives we could have taken from the night.

But Berba looked set to stay, after ‘pledging his future to the club’ earlier in the summer – usually the Kiss of Death for any player. His agent seems to know more than he does most of the time, which doesn’t seem right for a man clearly unsettled from the team he longed to play for.

However, reports in the papers over the last week seem to contradict that. Even this morning, the strongest rumour yet of a move to a revitalised Paris Saint-Germain seems on the cards. An opening offer of £10m will be turned down, but what happens if they offer more?

In the last few moments, we’re seeing reports of United and PSG agreeing a fee – presumably more than the £10m reported. But what does it mean for Berba? What does he have to choose between?

In realistic terms, should the form of Chicharito and Rooney continue, Michael Owen remains injury-free, and Danny Welbeck continues to improve at a rate of knots, Berba will find it tough to be starting a game against big clubs. But, after Scholesy’s retirement, there is now no-one left at the club who can do what he can – link up play.

If Berbatov was a central midfielder, he would be one of the best in the world – his skill, first touch, and ability to pass the ball in ways never seen before are second to none. But the fact he’s a striker, who in his first few seasons didn’t tend to score too often didn’t exactly advocate him to the fans. There isn’t another player like him at Manchester United, let alone the Premier League.

He will score goals, providing you build the right team around him. look what happened against Blackburn and Liverpool last season! We stuck him up top, played Wayne and Chicharito off him, as opposed to with him, and suddenly he had the freedom to stick the ball in the net and create chances. He’s still one of the best centre forwards in Europe.

At the end of the day, his contract runs out at the end of next season, so Fergie may find it best to cash in now. He knows all, remember. But expect backlash from United stalwarts – the majority want to see Dimitar stay a Red for as long as possible, and appreciate the skills he offers to our great club.

Agree with me? Think Dimi should go? You can contact me on Twitter via @Adam9309, or via the site’s official account – @StrettyNews!

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The Rooney Rant: Deserved of a Ban?

Originally posted on Stretty News.

Having had loads on my plate for weeks, it’s my first time to get back near a computer to properly write for StrettyNews.com. And I’ve walked in to a minefield.

So, what do we all make of this whole Wayne Rooney debacle? Personally, it’s a disgrace that the media are using him as a scapegoat. Again.

I understand that Wayne shouting expletives at the camera is hardly the greatest example to set to kids, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t condone it in the slightest. However, the fact that within hours of the final whistle he’d released a statement apologising, and has told plenty of sources at the club he regrets his actions, should have led to that being the close of the case.

But alas, the wonderful FA step in again. Having already banned Ferguson for five games, putting him in the stands for the whole of April, they do this to us. Now I’m not saying it is, but strange how the FA have time and time again attempted to screw United’s title chances, isn’t it? Just a theory….

But with Wayne being banned, does this open even further debate? Why, as Stretty pointed out earlier in the week, was Steven Gerrard able to get away with sticking two fingers up to the face of referee Andre Marriner? No investigation, no ban, no apology.

Or how about Manchester C*ty’s Micah Richards, swearing live in front of millions in a BBC interview? No investigation, no ban, no apology.

And then there was one of our own, in Edwin van der Sar. His expletives appeared after saving the penalties in Moscow in 2008. He apologised, but again, there was no investigation, and no ban. If you’re gonna penalise one, you have to penalise them all.

What about Neil Warnock’s alleged comments regarding El-Hadji Diouf? After breaking Jon Mackie’s leg, there was indeed an FA investigation. But no ban, and no apology.

Probably the worst of the lot was Joe Kinnear, in his Newcastle period. His four-letter tirade towards the Daily Mirror’s Simon Bird was publicised across global media outlets. Guess what? No investigation, no ban, and no apology.

Then again, Didier Drogba’s rant to the cameras after the game against Barcelona in 2009 was met by a UEFA ban. So it shows it has been done before.

We’ve also had these useless Twitter bans, notably to Ryan Babel. But surely this is where the use of personal thoughts and ideals come in? When the FA rule the roost, and ban people from having their own views, it becomes an issue.

Bring us right back to Ferguson, and his ban.

Something has to give. You hand out bans to all, or bans to none. Not only is this outing the FA as stuck in the Stone Age, but it also opens the debate to FIFA and UEFA to enforce these rules and legislation’s, and to push for each national FA to make sure this isn’t an issue in the first place.

Starting with goal-line technology.

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