Saturday, 28 July 2007

Lost in Translation..?

'IT'S MY LEMSIP'.. Evra tackles the queue in the chemist
It's probably safe to say that the Far East trip was a success, culminating in yesterday's 3-0 win over Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals. The football displayed in the 6 goal romp against Shenzen reminded me very much of how we played against Roma at OT in April. Granted, the level of competition is almost incomparable, however, it was our use of the ball and movement that is most pleasing, probably to most United fans.
I'll be honest and admit I have been more eagerly anticipating the arrival of Anderson but seeing Nani in action has already convinced me that in the young Portuguese winger we have a real "United" player. His goal in the game against Guangzhou was something a little bit special.
So too, was Lee Martin's drive. Chris Eagles hit a pretty similar shot in the previous game but I think Martin's was a little better only because Eagles already had momentum on his side. Lee Martin is a player I've wanted to see in action since I saw him playing in a game for Rangers and he displayed some blistering pace. Having said that, the way both of them played in the games has filled me with optimism.
Now it's back to Olde England, where Fergie and Manchester United will now have to bite the Tevez bullet and face the media full on. Am I losing the plot or are United currently an insignificant piece of the equation? The issue of Tevez's registration is still very much up in the air and it is this that is being studied at the High Court. One day Tevez was going to move on, and this situation would surely have cropped up at any time? The fact that it is Manchester United means of course that the figure being quoted ranges anywhere from £20m to £38m.
It will also be very interesting to see how the Heinze situation develops when Fergie can say they've spoken..
Ah the English season, how you are welcome!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Top 5 things amusing me in the world of football (yesterday - delayed blog)

1) An article I found while looking up what was actually said between Keane and Vieira in the Highbury tunnel in February 2005. The Times reported, at the time, "Keane had won the game before a ball had been kicked". Aside from our annual doomed trip to Fratton Park I can't remember many more games like that. Perhaps the Scholesy 500th game against Liverpool last October. It was written in the stars he'd score in a win, Scholes has that thing about him. Legend. I'll talk about you later.

2) Mido.. £6m.. Come on Brucey mate, they saw you coming!

3) Quite low but still on the chucklemeter, Liverpool fans thinking one decent signing in Torres will somehow mask the catastrophic asbence of premiership winning calibre players throughout their team, bar one.

4) The possibility of ol' Bernie taking over Arsenal. This is comical two fold - a) Arsenal fans saying "I'd prefer it if Bernie took over because it's right the club is in British ownership" - chuckle material considering Wenger may as well have relocated L'Arse to the South East of France, prime location considering his reputation for 'nurturing and discovering' young talent (a list that commonly includes, among others, Adebayor despite a CL campaign and final appearance) - and b) Because having watched Sky Sports News and hearing a couple of Bernie's mates waffle on about how he has no interest in football whatsoever and indeed quotes along the lines of "if there was a kickabout in my garden and the world's top stars were playing, I wouldn't be interested", and "I would never invest what Roman has at Chelsea", especially when you consider it took Chelsea £250m of playing talent added to a squad already in the CL to put a serious competition against Fergie's boys, it makes it all the more pleasurable to witness the amazing Arsene's fall from grace in time for his completely surprising move to Spain next year.

5) Finally, if not exactly rib tickling, it does deserve a minor mention. Mr Robert Fowler, Liverpool legend, now agrees to sign for Cardiff. Oh how the mighty have fallen. I can't imagine that would happen to any of our current legends. Possible exception being Scholesy, I'd admire him getting a few games for Oldham. I'm sure they wouldn't mind it either. One last word on the matter - from BBC - But his representative George Scott revealed Sydney were unable to compete financially with the other offers for Fowler. "The only thing against them is that Robbie is a Premiership player and he is used to Premiership money," said Scott. Used to Premiership money.. but not used to Premiership performances since 2001, eh Mr Scott?

Friday, 20 July 2007

Where are they now?

Okay, this is a highly un-original source of entertainment but I'm going to try and put an original twist in here. Rather than the lame old "I wonder what Paul Parker is upto these days" or "what happened to Norman Whiteside??" (although on request I will endeavour to search) I'm going to investigate what happened to all those "the next Ronaldo (Brazilian)" or cult heroes from my generation. This could include Tommy Svindal Larsen but will not begin with such.

First up ->Adailton.

Oh yes. The great enigma of my teenage years. Retrospectively it was a quite foolish journey but I was telling anyone who listened that I'd just seen the best player ever. I remember it well, my dad was watching Eurosport and gave us a yell. Brazil's U20's were playing who I believed at the time (and for the next 10 years until I did research for this blog) were Belgium. It turns out it was the Korean Republic, which could go someway to explaining my horrible mis-judgment of Adailton's potential talent. Still, he was wearing the famed number 10. So they must have seen the same as I did, right??

In this game he appeared to be like a 16 year old prodigy against a bunch of 5 year olds - I seem to recall that he flicked the ball up from a standing position and bicycle kicked it into the goal. Simply put, he was dazzling. I've never been so dazzled. Remember, these were days fresh AE - (after Eric) and the signing of Teddy Sheringham did little to whet the appetite.

Excited teenager that I was, feverishly anticipating the next installment of Championship Manager (97/98, my mate still swears by this one to the extent it's edited every year for a new season!), just so I could sign Adailton. Needless to say he disappointed. And editing him to make him play better does not make you feel better. Then in 1998 Parma signed him - hooray I thought, Channel 4's Football Italia would keep me in regular contact with my new idol. This was a false dawn, and he was shipped out on loan and eventually permanently to Verona via a similarly unsuccessful loan period in Paris. By all accounts he didn't flop in Verona and the fans hold him in quite sentimental regard. For English fans I would use Middlesbrough's romantic association with Juninho as a comparison. Genoa then signed him last summer (by which time I was hoping we'd sign Kerlon - do I ever learn?) and had a relatively successful debut season there, helping them achieve promotion to Serie A, which some nice person has decided to document on youtube. However I think he's a bit fond of his video effects so I'd advise epileptics to stand away.... now. Next season sees Adailton have his final 'big crack' at Serie A (that is, unless he is transferred again).

So there you have it, you can sleep easy tonight - that's what happened to Adailton.

As a footnote, eagle eyed researchers among you may have looked up the statistics for that FIFA 1997 World Youth Championship, and note that a certain Mr. Henry was playing and grabbed a couple of goals.

Mr Silvestre was also present for France. And true to form, got on the scoresheet. At the wrong end.

Any requests for a "where are they now?", leave a comment and let me know.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

New shirt, and eggs in the basket.

back in black.. United's new away strip
So thanks to I got the above pic. I wonder if it has the "Go Faster" stripe on the back. Speaking of which, sources say that the stripe is to commemorate the PL champions? Anyways.. It's a nice shirt, been a couple of years since the last black shirt (who can forget John O'Shea scoring the best goal EVER at Highbury).


It seems that Rossi and Smith are on the way out. Now don't get me wrong, I have 100% faith in Fergie's judgment. However, just to play Devil's Advocate.. 2 years ago we let Nicky Butt and Kleberson go. Then Phil Neville. Then Roy Keane. And then we were desperately light in midfield. Given the FA and the PL's apparent desire to make the Tevez transfer impossible I wonder if it would be wise to put all the eggs in the Carlos basket. With sicknote up front, if you take away Rossi and Smith you only have Ole who is a "goalscorer". This is not discounting Dong who is obviously a legend. Hmm.

Quick 06/07 review, player for player (main players)

van der Sar - 7 - Decent season - but perhaps age was telling at the end of the season when a few gaffes were costly.
Neville - 8 - Until he got injured my favourite badge kisser was having his best season since our last title winning campaign.
Evra-8 - The equal of any left back in the country last season. Came on leaps and bounds after coming in for critiscm after signing.
Ferdinand-8 - Rio was excellent last season. There are still moments such as Fratton Park where his concentration can be questioned but his absence was felt in the games where he was missing.
Vidic-9 - 'Drago' as the United players apparently call him has become an instant favourite. Very much in the Brucey mould, and again was sorely missed when out injured.
Carrick-8 - I must have been one of only a few United fans who wasn't sceptical about this signing. When others thought he was going missing, I could see the confidence growing, and the blend ever growing. It will be intriguing to see what happens now Hargreaves has signed.
Scholes-9 - What else needs to be said? The Ginger Prince displayed perfectly why I rate him (alongside Giggs) as the best two footballers in the Premiership.
Ronaldo-9 - Again the subject of very divided opinion - and until Christmas time I was still very much at odds with Fergie. However I'm happy to admit how wrong I was. The final stepping stone for Ronaldo will be consistently performing in the big games next season.
Giggs-9 - Pinning my colours to the flag, Giggs is my favourite player of all time, hero of my adolesence and all that. What he has sacrificed in pace he has made up for in guile.
Rooney-9 - In some quarters people remain unconvinced about his contribution last season. I disagree, he gives 100% every game and doesn't need to be playing well to make a contribution. If Ronaldo is the 1996 Ryan Giggs then Rooney is the Cantona of that era.

Armchair fans - an introduction

'Armchair fans' - there are 90 million of us around the globe, and only 78000 seats for us to occupy every fortnight. I do go to games, but manage only a handful a season, regretfully. However in place of this I've found that travelling and watching United in different locations can have its own charms.

This trend stretches back to my 18th year in 1999. I'd saved up for weeks for my first visit to Old Trafford in the Autumn of 1997 to see United hit 6 past Sheffield Wednesday. Now Easter and summer holidays were invariably arranged around vital European dates late in the season or the first big game of the new season. Such occasions as the relief of Ryan Giggs' last minute equaliser at home to Juventus in '99 (missed by me, gone to the loo in exasperation of Sheringham's disallowed goal seconds earlier), the despair of Mikael Silvestre being destroyed by Raul a year later, David Beckham scoring from 35 yards in Spain against Deportivo in the European knockout stages, and Roy Keane scoring 2 goals at Highbury were witnessed while holidaying on the east coast of England.

Last summer I had decided to blog an account of United's season. It started well but I lost interest around the time of the Arsenal loss at Old Trafford, mainly out of frustration and having the sinking feeling that Chelsea would run away with the title - indeed, the draw at Reading was the last time I posted. Quite clearly I didn't stop following United. But the feeling many United fans had missed for many years had now returned - one of anxiousness, nail biting, kicking every ball, knowing every point was significant in the race against the Jose Boreinho money steamroller. It was far too intense a period to even contemplate putting my own feelings down into the annals of history. With such intense pressure comes some incredible relief in victory as well as the excruciating agony of defeat - and last year I saw more United games on my travels than ever before. Liverpool at home on holiday in the cold cold autumn months in Mablethorpe, the return viewed during a three week stay in Florida (ah the joys of waking up at 7:30am and instantly feeling a nervousness one should not be feeling while on a dream vacation), sat at a Christmas dinner with my partners family - incidently 75% of who are Hammers - when West Ham took 3 points from us at Upton Park, back on the East Coast for another unforgettable European night as we destroyed Roma, and London for the home tie against Milan.

Most true United fans don't begrudge we who were weaned onto the club at an early age, regardless of where we are from. The more disgruntled fans of other clubs do have issues, perhaps feeling a slight self-disdain that their own club does not meet the worldwide appeal of United.