Too Far

What happened last night was sick. The reaction on Twitter was even sicker. Ed Woodward’s Cheshire home was targeted by between twenty and thirty Manchester United ‘fans’, who lit flares and let them off in the direction of the home. Luckily, no one was home. Despite what you think of the job he is doing as executive vice-chairman of United, and he is doing a woeful one, it is beyond malicious and evil to attack his home in such a way.
Woodward is married with two young daughters. Twins. What might have happened if he or his wife were home and opened the door to see the commotion and received a flare into the face or into their home where it could have caused more damage? Would those fans have been happy if Woodward or his loved ones received physical harm or life-changing injuries? Unfortunately, probably.

Recently, at Old Trafford, chants have been sung around the ground calling for the Glazers and Woodward to be put into a burning bonfire. The snapchat video that the perpetrators stupidly uploaded had the caption, ‘Ed Woodwards gonna die.’ While it is perfectly fine to be riled up and sing chants about the demise of the succubus of a once great club, to actually go to his home and try and spread terror and cause harm is beyond the pale.

Manchester United released a statement condemning the attack along with a host of sports journalists. The sick reaction came from United ‘fan’ accounts run by xenophobes, bigots and guys looking for reactions. All of us United fans know who these accounts are so I don’t need to name names but I have reported several accounts and will do more later. They have lamented the fact that no actual harm came to Woodward and his family. These fans from far corners of the world and dark corners of the web, along with those thugs from Manchester, will never be true fans of the club. If they think it is bad now, what would they have done when City relegated us in 1973? When a former Manchester United hero scored the winning goal with a backheel? They wouldn’t have done anything because they wouldn’t be fans of a club in the bottom half of the table.

If United continue to fall, which I don’t think will happen, these fans will be gone. Hopefully, though, they will be found by the club and the authorities and banned for life. They took the stance against our vile owners too far. Now the sympathy is in their court instead of the suffering fans. Thanks for that.

United not on Target

The only thing you absolutely need to know from last night’s game is that Manchester United manages zero shots on target from a possible 12. A dire stat to take away from a mediocre game of football. Despite patches of link-up and individual brilliance from Mason Greenwood, Brandon Williams and Tahith Chong towards the end of the first half, United were on the back foot for most of the game. Indeed, if Doherty hadn’t fluffed his clear header and Raul Jimenez had struck the ball an inch to the left then United would be put out of their misery. Wolves will have to travel to Old Trafford for the replay, something they won’t relish despite being the better team. Which team of Ole’s will show up? The confident, almost cocky attacking wave?; the unsure youthful squad that look like conceding at any minute?; or the team that showed up last night, full of indecision and a lack of quality in the final third?

I am a staunch supporter of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He should be afforded the time allotted to the previous two managers. He comes in for unfair criticisms from pundits and tweeters alike (Robiv Van Persie). He is giving youth a chance and selecting a team each week that are United through and through. There are mistakes being made by players and an indecision in attack that can be frustrating for us fans but there are chinks of light in the darkness.
Here are some talking points from the goalless draw.

Romero up for the game

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Romero in control

A pinpoint save to stop an almost certain goal has solidified Romero’s position as the best back-up goalkeeper in the world. This begs the question: Would De Gea have saved that shot? And should Romero get a chance at the first spot?

Williams should start

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Williams gives chase

Watching Williams tear down the wing in search of a ball that should have but never came was frustrating to watch. However, it was indicative of the lack of service United have received from left back in the years since Shaw’s injuries. Shaw offers more of a defensive quality and Williams needs to stop sliding in the box. However, if Romero and Williams start against Man City in the league cup on Tuesday it will show progress on Ole’s part.

Who’s in the box?

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Chong beats his man before being taken down

Ashley Young, of all people, was putting searching and stellar crosses into the box last night. Daniel James arrived late for one and nobody was to be seen. Greenwood seemed to be coming out to the right to collect the ball and leaving the box empty. While he and Chong linked up well on the byline he should leave the winger do his job and make life difficult for defenders in the box.

Another clear penalty!

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Wolves fan Paul Tierney

Another game and another clear penalty not awarded. Williams does well to recover and get in front of a clumsy Dedoncker only to be tripped up right in front of the ref. Again, if that was anywhere else on the pitch it is given as a foul. I thought the ref had a good game to be fair but that was a glaring mistake. The less said about the VAR decision as well, the better.

Doherty wasteful

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Doherty goal ruled out

United got away scot free last night. A brilliant save, Doherty bottling a free header amid woeful defending and Jimenez rattling the frame of the goal at an almost impossible angle meant that the Red Devils live to see another day. How was the Irish international afforeded a free header so close to goal at such a crucial stage in the match? The defence is vulnerable in these situations.

Rashford should have scored

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Impact sub Marcus Rahford

There’s no way around it; Rashford should have put that chance away. Ole he former super-sub has shown his knack for picking substitutes that may pay off. Pereira nearly scored against Arsenal the other day and Rashford hit the post with the help of a deflection. He really should have hit it straight away.

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Man of the Match

I could be extremely picky and mention Greenwood and Dalot being wasteful with the ball and the fact that once again Harry Maguire was muscled off the ball in the middle of the park but a clean sheet and a draw at the Molineux, a stadium where we have not been so lucky in recent times, can’t draw too much criticism. Obviously, Twitter was on fire with calls for Ole’s head and a new manager but once again, the problem is the Glazers and Woodward. The players mightn’t be the best but they are what we have at the moment. All eyes on Tuesday night at the Theatre of Dreams. GGMU.

Premier League Team of the Decade

It has been an interesting decade in the Premier League. United’s power was waning from the beginning only to crumble so emphatically and powerfully over the last five years. City seemed to be the ones to take their place at the helm of English football, but they never looked consistently convincing. Chelsea and city traded titles for a few years before Chelsea almost followed suit directly behind United in plummeting down the table. Arsenal and Tottenham both came so close in 2016 only to solidify their reputation as perennial underachievers as Leicester surprised the world and were crowned champions. Liverpool have been looming dangerously close to securing their first league title in almost three decades. As United’s star dimmed, Liverpool’s shone brighter. Coming close with Brendan Rogers in 2014, they finished second once again last year in a title race dominated by themselves and City. This year they seem to have already wrapped things up. It is hard to see anyone catching up with them. City are suffering from their third year slump. Leicester are the closest of the two but their unimpressive loss to City the other night and their hammering by the leaders shows that it is Liverpool’s to lose.

Everybody has their own opinions on who should be in the team of the decade. Lists are compiled and torn apart in pubs and sitting rooms all around the globe. Here’s mine for you to rip to pieces. I’ll try not to let my love of Manchester United shape my opinions too much.

Goalkeeper – David de Gea

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Big Dave

Recent calamitous blunder and his slow decline over the last year after carrying a failing Manchester United side on his magnificent Spanish shoulders for almost the whole decade aside, de Gea has to be the top keeper of the decade. Not only is he an aesthetically pleasing keeper in that he is acrobatic and kept so many games alive using his feet, but he definitely kept United in the top half of the table in the years prior to his complacency.
For the whole of the decade he has had to contend with constantly changing defensive partnerships in front of him due to injury and lack of consistency. He is, for me, the Premier League keeper of the decade.

Right Back – Cesar Azpilicueta

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Azpilicueta

This is a bit of an odd one. I suppose it just my team of the decade but it is odd considering he has never really grabbed headlines or been in any of the PFA teams of the year. However, he is as solid as they come and has been in the Chelsea side every year since he joined in 2012. He is captain now since the departure of Cahill which shows his development over the years. He won the title twice with Chelsea and has survived three different managers. He is one of my favourite players from rival teams but I hate seeing him play against United. Proper footballer.

Centre Back – Vincent Kompany (c)

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The Belgian Wall

What a fucking animal. If I was one on one with Vincent Kompany I’d probably just pass him the ball and step to the side. “Work away, Vinny kid!” An absolute beast of a defender but his absolute banger last year can never be forgotten.

Centre-Back – Jan Vertonghen

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Eriksen’s Nemesis

I actually struggled to think of a partner for Kompany. Ferdinand and Vidic had a great start to the decade but the decline of United was fasttracked by the demise of their partnership under Moyes. John Terry had a good run of it but Vertonghen pips him to the post for me. He’s solid, strong and can tackle. He is let down by dodgy goalkeeping behind him but he is a big part of the reason that Tottenham were so strong for so long.

Left Back – Leighton Baines

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Baines

The third member of Oasis has to be a cult hero of a left back. I’ll never forget his free kick for against Newcastle. He may be winding down towards the end of his career but that free kick, and his many important displays for Everton over the years have ensured he will be remembered as one of the greats.

Right Mid – David Silva

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Silva

Every generation of football fans has that one player that just seems to have it all. They obviously have the talent but the almost photographic memory of knowing where exactly to put the ball at your teammate’s feet while still knowing exactly what is going on around you is unmatchable. David Silva possesses this talent, and along with his penchant for scoring goals and making fools of defenders, he could be the best player that the league has ever seen. He spent all of his prime years here and is fininshing up at the end of this season. It seems fitting that he be on the team.

Centre-Mid – Kevin De Bruyne

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Poor man’s Paul Scholes

What an absolute talent. It sickens me to put this many City players in my team of the decade but by God is De Bruyne the best of the bunch. He is still only 28, but his talent was obvious from his time at Chelsea. Perhaps he needed time to grow, or a manager to show faith in him at the time. He is tenacious and technically gifted beyond belief. He also has an anger in him when his team isn’t playing well that allows him to access another level above any opponent, leaving them trailing in his wake. He is the assist king and scores peaches for fun. Magnificent bastard.

Left-Mid – Eden Hazard

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Hazard

Probably the most unpredictable player in this team. Hazard could go several games without doing anything of note and then burst onto the scene of a game and run the opposition ragged for ninety minutes. He terrorised Liverpool for the duration of the decade and it seemed as though the ball was glued to his feet. I remember reading something that a teammate of his said that he would be pure crap in training all week and then go and dominate the game on Saturday. He deserves a chance in Madrid and his place on this team.

Centre Forward – Sergio Aguero

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Agueeerrroooooooo

I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the Argentinean’s last minute strike to win City their first Premier league title in 2012. Following on a live score app because we didn’t have Sky Sports at the time, I had to wait until Match of the Day that night to hear Martin Tyler’s infamous ‘Aguerrroooooooo’. I hated him so much for years for his constant scoring against United but despite my obvious bias, he has to be the best striker in the Premier League over the last decade. I’m all about consistency and longevity. If I was making a ‘Best of all-time Premier League’ he might have more competition for his place, but he sits at the top of this list.

Striker – Jamie Vardy

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Vardy

Jamie Vardy has been having a party in the Premier League for the last five years and it ain’t stopping any time soon. He has been in the top scorers list for the last four years in a row and with 17 already this season he is bound to beat his best haul of 24 by a country mile. It’s not just that he scores goals, though. He absolutely loves scoring them and celebrating them in front of opposition fans. This year he danced like an eagle in front of Crystal Palace fans. Crystal Palace are nicknamed the Eagles. He is the king of shithousery. All other pretenders to the throne, like Ander Herrera and Andy Robertson can only hold flickering candles to his name. Chat shit. Get banged. It’s……….Jamie Vardy.

Centre Forward – Harry Kane

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Kane

This was my last position to pick and it actually was tough. Kane was the obvious choice but there have been so many exceptional strikers over the last couple of years that I had to think about it. Mane and Salah both could have taken this spot but because I hate Liverpool they can fuck right off. I’d love to put Rooney in here but his peak dipped around 2013 while Kane’s star was just rising. The future top scorer for England is just too good to leave out. Yes, he steals goals from teammates and yes he sometimes looks like he has killed before but Goddamit if he isn’t an exeptional footballer.

Cian Dalton’s PL Team of the Decade

Alternatives and Unfortunates

Of course a team of the decade is going to be surrounded by some debate. If you’re like me you’ve probably just swiped through and looked at all of the pictures. There are a few positions that could be changed around. Also, that midfield is technically superb and full of talented players on the ball but could be ovverun by a side with a bruiser in the middle. Perhaps N’Golo Kante should go in instead of Hazard or Silva, or possibly Yaya Toure could slot in to a 4-4-2 to shore up the midfield and Harry Kane would miss out.

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Lloris

Hugo Lloris would probably be my second keeper of choice but he just makes too many small mistakes over the course of a season for him to beat De Gea to the top spot.

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Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez would probably feel hard done by if he saw this blog post and knew who I was. He is Algeria’s and Africa’s greatest export but his slump when he first joined City was unfortunate. Thankfully he is back on top form again. Well, thankfully in the sense that he’s a great player and deserves the good fortune. Not thankfully, though, because I despise City and all they stand for.

Please let me know what you think of my team of the decade. It was tough to pick but a joy to write about football for the first time in a long time. Keep an eye out for more Rambles in the New Year and different teams of the week from different leagues around the world as I up my output of sports content. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

"But could he do it on a cold, rainy night in Stoke…"

I’ve dabbled in games over the years, going through phases. I might get stuck into a few open world games a year and then watch as my interest slowly fades. I’ll try and play some First Person Shooters with my brother and get slaughtered enough times that I’ll rage quit for another year. Some days I’ll get a sudden urge to buy a Nintendo, crack open a fresh Poke Ball and start another journey. Eventually I’ll forget to keep playing and my poor Pokemon will be without a Master.
There is one game that I’ve always played consistently (not always well) and religiously. Fifas 2002 through to 2019 have been bought, played and well and truly paid for. Starting off on my Playstation 1 with no memory card, myself and my brother would play Fifa 2002 morning, noon and night. Due to the lack of the aforementioned memory card we would get up, immediately start a season of the Premier League or the World Cup and play through until we were knocked out or won the tournament. Normally we were knocked out.
We graduated together along the years, playing every single Fifa game up until Fifa 20, crossing enemy lines by buying the Xbox 360 before coming to our senses and finally settling on the Playstation4. I have a feeling I haven’t played either Fifa 10 or 11 but the rest have definitely passed through our various consoles. This year, though, we didn’t so much hang up our boots as keep them in the year 2019. I don’t have the same desire to play as much as I did in previous years. The new game wasn’t bought and we’ve made do with the outdated version from this year. The love for the beautiful, virtual game was gone. That was until tonight.

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Rooney and Ronnie

Having grown tired of constantly choosing Manchester United and leading them to glory year after year I finally decided to change it up. Fifa ’06 changed the game for one year only as you couldn’t choose any of the top, top sides. You had to earn it. I chose the boys in blue from Merseyside. Rooney was my favourite player and he had come from Everton. They weren’t a supremely talented team but they were solid and looked the best of a bad bunch. Also, Fifa ’06 was an extremely tough game. It was hard to score and easy to concede. That meant that every victory and point earned was a mighty battle won. James Beattie was my new favourite player and Alan Stubbs and Leon Osman became heroes of mine. Everton were my second team. Of course, you’re not supposed to have a second team and United are my true love but I have a soft spot for Everton and Goodison Park. I thought that I might try and find a new team to add to my list of favourites.

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Leon Osman, James Beattie and Andy Johnson.


I delved a division deeper and trawled through the 24 teams for my chosen vessel. Who would I guide through the murky waters of the Championship? Would I go for a team that I didn’t really know or would I go for one of the top contenders for the title? Aston Villa looked tempting but after United drew with them recently I couldn’t stomach it. After much thinking I settled on Stoke City. Tony Pulis’ once rock solid defensive unit had just been relegated when the game came out. A mix of youth, experience and untapped potential lay within their ranks. I felt I could make a winning team out of this freshly demoted squad.

I didn’t really look at the squad before I picked the mighty Stoke. Jack Butland, one of England’s best keepers, manning the goal gave me a solid start. Pieters at left back with Ryan Shawcross and Ashley Williams as centre-halves looked solid. Joe Allen, the Welsh Messi, stood out in midfield. James Mclean and Tom Ince pushed out wide with Benik Afobe heading up the attack. That starting 11 looked promising enough for a Championship side and the bench looked every bit as good.
Saido Berahino, Mame Biram Diouf and Peter Crouch were an odd triplet of strong substitute options. Bojan and Ibrahim Affelay also looked a little bit too good to be on the bench, but we all know what Bojan is like in real life and I don’t fully trust the Barca reject.
All in all, a good squad with a big enough mixture of young and old to see me out to the Premier League in our grand return: Premier League 19/20: StokeBack Mountain….

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Jack Butland

I can already see some future problems. While there are some technically gifted players in the squad, Fifa’s fitness levels are ruthless. It is quite an old squad too and I’m going to have to raid the youth of the Premier League if I am to have any chance of not petering out straight away. I shouldn’t think too far ahead but I am fairly confident that I will get promoted somehow this season. How will I get on in the world’s most competitive league while probably still relying on Joe Allen and Charlie Adams?? I mean, it’ll be a bit of craic, anyways.

Every Tuesday and Thursday I will update with how my squad is doing and how I am faring on my road to the Premier League with an aging Stoke side in World Class difficulty. I have decided to try parts of the below challenge. A top four finish will be difficult but with the great Mr. Manager on the case I’m sure it will be fine.

Interesting….

David Beckham v Greece, 2001 (Two Red Heads)

Two red heads, one blonder than the other, bobbled up and down on a patch of green grass. A white Umbro ball passed between them. They both wore Manchester United jerseys adorned with players names across the back. Keane, 16, on the back of the older boy and Beckham, 7, on the younger. The ball sailed high, bounced off walls and flew between feet. Nothing else captured the attention of the two quite like the great Manchester United, but more importantly, the football. Every evening, they and the other children on the estate gathered in one big group to play ‘World Cup’, or ‘2 v 2’. The object of each game was similar enough in that one or two people would eventually be crowned the winner. The only real loser was the poor fella picked to go in goal if there was an uneven number.
The sitting room window was cracked open a fraction, just enough for the young lads to hear how the match was going. In the centre of Midlands Ireland, where the English nor soccer are that popular, two little ginger boys had a fascination with the beautiful game. England were playing Greece in a crucial qualifier match for the 2002 World Cup. It was sink or swim for the Lions. Of course, the boys didn’t know all of this. They knew that Beckham was playing. And if Beckham was playing, there was a chance he would take a free-kick.

In the dying embers of the game the referee blew his whistle for a seemingly innocuous foul on Teddy Sheringham. The usual protests were made by the defenders but the ball was already in Beckham’s hands. Despite being flanked by Sheringham and Scholes on either side there was still no doubt as to who would take the free. Beckham and his stubbly head transfixed their gazes. His ever changing hair styles were always iconic. This particular barnet was no different.
He placed the ball on the grass and took several steps back. During his trademark run-up and swing of the arms time seemed to stand still for the brothers. They were rooted to the spot, eyes boring into the TV, knowing the other was there and ready to erupt if he scored. His boot connected with the ball and every eye in the stadium, pubs, bars, sitting rooms all around the world and a little garden in Westmeath was glued to its flight. It dipped up and over the wall, fooling the keeper into moving an inch before realising it was out of his reach as it landed almost perfectly in the top, left-hand corner. The net seemed to nearly burst with the power and accuracy of the free-kick.
The stadium erupted. England were through to the World Cup. Beckham ran towards the corner flag and stopped suddently, taking up that now immortal stance with outstretched arms. His two doppelgangers followed suit in Mullingar, jumping and leaping into the air and striking the exact same pose over and over with excitement.

Back in the midlands, less than a minute after running riot around the garden and celebrating the enemy’s goal, the boys were trying to recreate the strike. They must have stayed like that for hours; taking it in turn to be DB7, the greatest deadball striker they would ever see. In that moment they were him and would always be him. Always in that garden, loving the beautiful game and each other.

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Another Exciting Summer in Manchester

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything about Manchester United. Laziness, lack of confidence and lack of material are some excuses I could use. The fact of the matter is, when the club is in the turmoil that it is in it’s tough to write anything without sounding pessimistic and defeatist. When the club you’ve loved for as long as you can remember seems to be going down a dark path from which it will be tough to return it is not easy to write match reports and reviews on news and gossip. I mean, in all honesty the club is too far down the dark path and it will take years of patience and rebuilding to get to where Manchester United should rightly be, but maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world. Anyways, I’ll be writing more about United and hopefully this season will be better than last season at least. Even if United are in a tough spot and we, the fans, are having a hard time feeling sympathetic for seemingly uninterested players and a board that is leeching money from the club, the prospect of a quiet summer concerning Manchester United will always be a foreign concept.

Timely Transfers

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With the announcement of Wan-Bissaka extremely close amid leaked pictures of the star and his management team signing his contract, and the announcement of Daniel James from Swansea a few weeks ago, it seems that Ole and the team are moving in the right direction.
However, the fact that not one player has been sold and the surfacing of articles and videos featuring United stars Pogba and Lukaku admitting they want to play elsewhere and face ‘new challenges’, is extremely negative.
I think we can all appreciate that in the modern footballing world and especially concerning Manchester United, transfers are no longer cut and dry. Agents will look for more money from bigger clubs, as will the selling club, especially if they know United have the money. Sometimes players will flirt with United to get a bigger deal at their preferred club, which really pisses me off when I see it happen. I’m going off on a tangent here, but United’s transfer policy over the last six years, if not ten years, has been dreadful.
I must admit that these transfers of young players, James from Wales and Wan-Bissaka from England, bode well for the direction of the club. While Pogba and Lukaku may be petulant and under-performing, the club needs experienced players to help the new young lads through, and I’m not talking about Ashley Young giving Bissaka training tips on how to play right back.
With Bruno Fernandes poised to join Liverpool one day and us the next, and another truckload of midfielder’s names now dumped onto the bag carousel that is United’s summer transfer list, who will be signed and will anyone leave? Will these timely transfers be enough to boost United and keep Ole in the job?

Insolent Influencers

It’s been an interesting few months so far as followers of Lingard, Rashford, Pogba and Lukaku. The former pair, on holiday together before pre season, posted videos on IG messing around, chanting ‘Beans, beans, beans’, and commenting on the state of their hotel rooms. I personally don’t see anything wrong with this and find the reactions of a lot of United fans disturbing and bordering on highly irrational. I also don’t hold any umbridge with Pogba posting videos of himself and his brothers dancing in their room, or Lukaku posting videos of him dunking on his friends who are too afraid to properly defend against him on the court. While Lingard annoys the shit out of me and Rahford frustrates me on the pitch, the two lads are only having a bit of craic and enjoying themselves. Pogba and Lukaku on the other hand have publicly flirted with other clubs and said on video that they more or less would like to leave. I have lost all respect for the two of them and while that doesn’t mean a thing to them, it shows that they don’t care about the fans.

When was the last time that you heard a player from Liverpool, Man. City or Tottenham publicly state that they would like to play in a different country or face new challenges? Nothing in recent memory, and if they ever do they still hold utmost respect to the club and the fans. Pogba and Lukaku, two main names in the United set up, don’t give a toss about the fans. In fairness to Pogba, he does get dog’s abuse even though he is United’s best player, but to go on t.v., in a promotion for Adidas, nonetheless, and say you need a new challenge when you’ve done sweet feck all is laughable.
The players don’t help their cause with their insolence and the fans don’t paint themselves in a great light when they comment horrible abuse on said player’s pages, but it’s all indicative of the ownership of the club and the way it is being run.

#Glazer’sOut

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The biggest news story coming out of United over the summer has been kept quiet by the club itself. The hashtag started a few weeks ago on Twitter and picked up speed straight away. Every tweet from United accounts and fans I follow has #glazersout afterwards, a testament to the fact that United fans are not happy with the current state of the club. The debt the Glazer’s have given the club and the money that they have taken out is staggering when compared to the money that the owners of other clubs have put in their respective clubs.
It is a fantastic movement that has already caused the stock price of the club to fall. It became highly popular again when one of the club’s owners, Darcie Glazer, took out a loan with shares of the club as collateral. Now, I don’t claim to know anything about finances but from what I read and understand, we shouldn’t be getting as riled up about this as we are. Those shares are hers and it’s like she’s putting her house as collateral for the loan. If she fails to repay the loan the shares are taken off her. However, I understand the anger and rage that formed when United fans heard about this. It is similar to seeing videos of players dancing and laughing when the fans that pay money to wear their names on their backs, go to see them in games and pay to watch them in person and on t.v. are sitting at home in despair at the state of the club. It shows disrespect in a time of great sensitivity in the club.
I don’t understand how the P.R. reps of the club and certain players aren’t taking measures to ensure that players and owners don’t do things that paint themselves in an even worse light.
“Hang on there, Jesse, maybe leave the dancing off until pre-season starts, O.K.? And Darcie, maybe put something else as collateral for the loan until there’s a better public feeling about the Glazers. Cheers, boss, nice one.” Maybe I could get a job doing that. C.S.O. Dalton. Common Sense Officer.

In all seriousness though, the movement is important and even if nothing comes of it, at least the Glazers and Woodward know that the fans aren’t stupid. Two signings and removal of deadwood in the club isn’t enough; we want them gone for good.

Watfords’s Title Hopes Suffer Setback

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Domestic football is back after two weeks of the Nation’s League/United Nation’s/Legion of Doom group games. This new format will be a blight on our intake of Premier League action this year but at least United’s players might actually play well for their country! I joke, I joke.
Mourinho has always been a master of using his press conference’s and post-match interviews to draw the attention away from a poor performance. He did so yesterday, going on several rants about the media and Rashford’s playtime. He has been under a lot of criticism and pressure lately due to Pogba talking to the media. If a player spoke to the media like that in Fergie’s time he would have surely been shown the door. Nevertheless, the game has changed and the rest of the players seem to be not openly disrespectful.

Today’s game against Watford was an important one. United had to build on the impressive 2-0 away win against Burnley before the break. There was no Rashford this week due to his red card in the previous match, so it looked like Martial would get a chance to impress as a substitute. Pogba played supremely for France against Germany and United fans were wondering why he couldn’t do the same for them? Calibre of player? Desire? Relationship with the manager? All three, probably.

The match started off in promising fashion with Lukaku coming close only to be stopped by former United keeper, Ben Foster. Quickly, though, the first half turned into a Watford special. They constantly threatened the back four. Smalling and Lindelof held true but the threat remained everpresent in the first thirty five minutes.
The match was turned on its head when Lukaku used his stomach to push the ball into an empty net from a delflected Ashley Young cross. Two minutes later, Big Mike Smalling scored a peach of a volley from close range. His haircut might be suspect but his finishing was not.
All in all, United could be happy with the first half, successfully defending and scoring alike. Mourinho looked jubilant when Smalling’s goal went in which is always nice to see.

The second half started the same way as the first, with Watford quickly settling in and getting a hold on the game. This time they didn’t let go. Their constant pressure culminated with a fine Gray goal in the 65th minute. Others would have followed but for the fine performance of Fellaini on the edge of the box clearing wayward crosses. Young played well on the left.
Pogba had a much freer role in the first half which allowed him to play his flowing style of football. Watford pressed higher in the second half and, especially after they scored their goal, upped the pressure for the full forty-five, meaning Pogba wasn’t allowed as much time on the ball. As well as this, his teammates weren’t showing for him as much as they should.
Martial came on with twenty minutes to go and made little impact bar a close chance.

Watford came dangerously close in the 93rd minute, DeGea repeating his first half heroics with an absolutely brilliant save from a close-range header. He really is United’s best and most consistent player. He’s also in my fantasy team, so thank fuck for that.
United were lucky to come away with the three points but that’s two wins on the trot. Hopefully the performance will be better in the Champions League opener against Young Boys this week.

Top Three Performers

De Gea: Many impressive saves as usual but the two close-range stops, one from the ground and one from a header in the last minute show us once again how valuable De Gea is to the club.

Fellaini: Two good games in a row for Sideshow Bob. In all seriousness, he made some extremely important tackles and assisted the second goal. Fair play.

Young: The absence of Luke Shaw worried a lot of United fans, for the right reasons. Young played well today in his defensive capabilities, crossing in the ball for Lukaku’s goal also.

Honorary Mentions: Lukaku had a good game up front, bagging another goal and making an impressive backtracking run in the dying minutes to stop the Watford counter-attack.
Gray up front for Watford always impressed me when he was at Bournemouth, and he played well today too, finishing well for his goal and holding the ball up well.

An Uncertain Start

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It has been an awkward beginning to the season for Manchester United. A winning, if slightly shaky, start against Leicester gave us three points off the bat which was unpleasantly followed by two losses on the trot; a 3-2 embarrassment against Brighton and a 3-0 hammering by Spurs. The 2-0 victory over Burnley over the weekend gave the fans some hope and restored some of the faith in the players and the manager.

The two losses, to Brighton and Spurs respectively, were tough to watch. United seemed to be nervous in the back line for the whole of the Brighton game. The goals we scored were a penalty and a good piece of situational awareness by Lukaku, which gave some of us hope for the Tottenham game. That obviously didn’t pan out as he missed in front of an open goal after rounding Lloris brilliantly. The French goalkeeper was still absolutely steamin’ after he was caught drink driving. What a lout!
All jokes aside, the first half of the Tottenham game was OK. We attacked well and created opportunities, some of which should have been put away. That’s right, Rom, I’m talking about you again. Don’t @ me. However, within ten seconds of the restart, the defenders who had played so well in the first half, fell apart and allowed two easy goals past them. The third goal was painful to watch, especially as Moura eased past Smalling, who had played well by my estimations in the first half.
Following this loss, Twitter was abound with calls for Mourinho’s head and for Woodward to be burned alive at the stake.  Many fans wanted him gone immediately and for someone with a more attacking style of play to be instated. Others wanted all the fans’ total backing of the manager and the players. It was vintage Premier League era views on the value of a manager and how high his success rate should be.

As I just said, United fans seem to be divided into a, “Sack him now’, or a,”Back him until he’s sacked’, point of view. Neither option glows favourably on Mourinho and how he is pervceived by the fans. I would tend to agree with the second option. It is perfectly fine to want a new manager if the quality of football is declining and if the results are against us. However, it is a whole other thing to keep harping on about the manager when certain players aren’t pulling their weight or are in a slump. I do believe that Mourinho will be gone by the end of the season (as I don’t see us challenging for the top 3, especially if this level of play keeps up) but if he isn’t, and if the results are good enough that warrant him staying, then I won’t care. If he is gone and the results warrant him going then I’ll be delighted to welcome a new manager to the club, preferably one with an attacking style. I will not be happy if Mourinho is gone so early in the season because of outcry over the fans due to lack of spending in the transfer market; a transfer market that we trust Ed Woodward with, and who should be blamed.
Despite all this talk about Mourinho and whether he will have a job come the end of this year or the season, there have been some positives in the first four games.

  • Luke Shaw has been trememndous in the last three games for United. He has been bombing up and down the left wing, cutting in and getting the ball in dangerous areas, especially in the last two games. He seems to have responded well to Mourinho’s criticisms last year, and perhaps this success story will be what Mourinho needs to keep his job.
  • Andreas Pereira has had a solid opening to the season. I was delighted that he didn’t get loaned out, and the fact that he is with the Brazil sqaud for the International Break is testament to his prowess in the last few years.
  • Lukaku seems to have found his scoring boots in the last few games, even if he did forget them in the dressing room against Tottenham. Despite that glaring miss, I do hope he continues this run of scoring.
  • Alexis has continued to be the most creative player on the pitch. Even though he does frustrate me with how much he loses the ball, he is always trying to create something. He is a pleasure to watch and I think this will be the season where he starts to produce much more for us, especially with Champions League football back on the horizon.

It has been an uncertain start and it looks like it will get more confusing before we begin to see consistent results. That doesn’t bode well for José but it mightn’t do us fans any bad. We’re so used to success, trophies and accolades that perhaps another year in the wilderness of mediocrity will humble us before our inevitable rise to the top of English and world football. Before I start to go into a Third Reich style speech I will end this brief analysis of our season so far. Our next match is against Watford, who are also not to be taken lightly, especially seeing as they are joint top of the table! A bad result there could bring the Special One’s teetering empire toppling down.

It’s Back!

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Rejoice, one and all! The Premier League returns today with the evening game between Manchester United and Leicester City. This summer has been choc full of sporting action. The World Cup was a fantastic tournament as always and threw up plenty of surprises, while the new system for the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship has given us some of the greatest battles in recent memory. However, when the hurling and the football are finished come September, we will not be facing any vacuum of sport as the Premier League will take its place on our T.V.s and, I daresay, in our hearts.

The hidden beauty of the World Cup is that it shields us from the rancid nature of the transfer window. I, personally, didn’t pay much attention to the window this year, opting to look to the wall until the sweat dropped down my balls. Ah, skeet skeet, motherfucker! Ah, skeet skeet, God Damn. The rumours I did pay attention to, though, I have jotted down here along with reasons as to why they will help or hinder their new team.

 

Arsenal

Arsenal’s new boss, Emery, has brought in a few meaningful signings. Lichsteiener arrived on a free from Juventus while Sokratis (I’m not typing his last name), from Dortmund, joined for an undisclosed fee. Lichsteiner enjoyed Switzerland’s decent run at this year’s World Cup and has been a solid performer for Juventus over the last couple of years. He and Sokratis will shore up the back line with Mertesacker retiring. Goalkeeper Bernd Leno, from Bayer Leverkusen, also signed as Cech, despite still performing well at this late stage in his career, will surely finish up or leave Arsenal in the next season or two. However, have ye seen the picture of Cech? What an absolute unit that man is.

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“Tell Stephen Hunt I just want to talk about what happened.”

Burnley

Sean Dyche’s men are still unsure whether they will be playing European football this season. They have the second leg of their third qualifying round next Thursday against Istanbul Basaksehir. The tie is tensely poised at 0-0 on aggregate and with Burnley playing at home they will have to be on song to secure a place in Europe’s second-tier competition. They had a phenomenal season last season but unfortunately their first choice and second choice keepers are injured. Nick Pope, who was a star last season, was injured during Europa League qualifying against Aberdeen and will probably be out until Christmas.
Joe Hart has been drafted in on a two year deal from Man. City. Hart has had a torrid few years; losing favour at the Etihad after one too many blunders was followed up by loan spells at Torino and West Ham respectively, both of which ended with, let’s say, mixed reviews. Hart has been remembered at both clubs for his knack for misjudging the flight of the ball or rushing off his line when he doesn’t have the pace he once did. Perhaps Burnley’s defensive set up will help him regain some form.

Chelsea

Chelsea also have a new manager this year. Maurizio Sarri, who made Napoli serious contenders in Italy over the last three years, has brought in some exciting signings in the form of Jorginho, from Napoli, and Kovacic on loan from Real Madrid. Kepa, the new keeper from Athletic Bilbao, was bought to replace the loss of Thibaut Courtois, the gigantic Belgian, to Real Madrid. However, a part of me thinks that Sarri might be clinically insane, as he also bought Rob Green from Huddersfield. There is no doubt that Green is a good keeper, but at this extremely late stage in his career he must be pinching himself. Who can forget his gaffe against the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup?

A lot of keepers make mistakes in big games, including De Gea in this World Cup, but Green had also made many mistakes domestically. Perhaps he’ll be used in the F.A. Cup and he’ll shine. Who knows? I do. He won’t.

Liverpool

The Scousers played the most attractive football in the League last year. The partnership of Firmino, Mane and Salah was a a joy to behold as a football fan and a horror to witness as a Liverpool hater. Klopp is still at the helm and I can’t wait to see what mad antics he gets up to on the line this year. Every time his team comes close or is pinning the opposition defence down, he makes a face at the crowd as if his team is on a roll and he just won a free-in from the 21 in the All-Ireland final.
They’ve made some great signings this summer, most notably Fabinho from Monaco and Keita from Leipzig. However, I think their best signing will be Shaqiri, who spent the last few years languishing at Stoke. He proved he can do it on a rainy night in Stoke and he proved in the International Champions Cup over the last few weeks that he can do it anywhere, He’s a special talent for such a little, blocky man.
They also signed Alisson from Roma as Klopp finally realized that his keepers were shite. Although Liverpool did put seven goals past him against Roma last year. So…yeah. Best of luck ye pricks!

Man. City

Guardiola and the rest of the blue wankers have finally added Riyad Mahrez, 2016 Premier League Player of the Year, to their squad. See, I can’t even write as descriptively as I want when I’m talking about Man. City. Liverpool was a stretch and a half to write about but Man. City get nothing but hatred from me.
I know that United fans get a lot of slack for being from anywhere but Manchester. That is true. The brand has grown and enveloped the whole world. Some fans know that we have to hate City and that that game is the most important of the season, no matter the standings, but I’ve always hated City. Reading up about United when I was young, I found out that City and Denis Law, our former star striker, relegated us to the second division with a FUCKING BACK HEEL GOAL in 1974. I still remember reading that and just wanting to get sick. Then there was a period in the 2002/03 season, I believe, when City and Robbie Fowler beat us 4-1. Tough times. Dark times. But good for them, they got Mahrez. Shitheads.

Manchester United

The majority of United fans are angry and frustrated with the way the transfer window has gone this summer. After an initial increase in activity just before the World Cup it seemed that Woodward and Mourinho just put the feet up and went back to choosing which young stars to send out on loan.
Diogo Dalot signed from Porto. The young Portuguese national (Portuguesan?) has been praised by sports sites all over the web but I can guarantee you that only a small handful of them knew who he was before he signed for United. I didn’t. And I’m one of the feckin’ best! Hopefully he can be a good back up for Bailly, if the African is fit. Oh, God I hope so.

The marquee signing was of course Fred from Shaktar Donetsk. The Brazilian didn’t see any action during the World Cup but did look good in spots against Madrid in the International Champions Cup. He will be effective in the middle between Matic and Pogba, if Pogba doesn’t go to Barca. If he isn’t, just don’t @ me. How good was his announcement video, though?
The best bit of business that Mourinho did, however, was to keep Andreas Pereira at the club instead of sending him out on loan for the fiftieth time. He excelled in midfield during our friendly matches and just looks like a complete attacking midfielder. Here’s hoping he can deliver.

Wolves

Wolves are going to finish in the top half of the table this season. They destroyed all in their path last year to comfortably win the Championship, with just a little help from Chinese owners, super agent Jorge Mendes and high calibre players such as Neves. They have added Moutinho and Rui Patricio from Portugal to their impressive squad, as well as Boly to shore up their back line and Afobe to continue scoring goals. I know that it takes time for new players to gel together but when one of those players, Patricio, is the starting goalie for the Portuguese national team, then you know he will fit in to any club. Watch this space.

It’t tough to know who will finish where this season but I can’t look past City as eventual winners for a second year in a row. Chelsea have added wisely to their squad so they will be in the top four. Liverpool have also added wisely but their ability to fall short is amazing and hilarious. Arsenal have not added enough firepower for my liking and will finish outside the top four. I would like to think that United will be in the top two again, and hopefully the gap will be closer this time. We will see. Anyways, get excited!

 

 

That’s All Folks

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So, that’s it. The World Cup is over. Significant others all around the world who don’t have much interest in international football can rejoice. Television sets can be used by members of the family other than the dads and the older brothers. Ladies, ye can now unleash all of the recorded episodes of Love Island upon your fella. He has no argument anymore. You’ve waited it out. You’ve sat in the trenches. You’ve prayed to a God you were never really sure you believed in. Sure, you went to Mass every Sunday but there was always a doubt in your mind as to the truth. Is there a God? Anyways, you’ve prayed to something that this match doesn’t go to extra time. Now it’s your turn. Own it. Milk it.

In fairness, this World Cup has been tremendous. There has been some amount of worldies scored and a surprising amount of upsets. The two Kings of football, Ronaldo and Messi, exited in the second round, while the previous champions, Germany, left us in the group stages. Hahahahaha. I tipped Argentina and Germany to both possibly go on and win the tournament. I was so naïve then, so green. I had forgotten how ruthless international football could be. Still, the big stars for Germany and Argentina didn’t turn up at all. The same could be said for Portugal despite Ronaldo having a stormer of a first game.
It was an amazing World Cup, in my opinion and every World Cup has stellar moments. This one had countless such moments but I was either asleep or working for a lot of them so here are my five moments that made me say, “Wow, this is one of the best moments of the World Cup. I hope someone puts it in a list format on a blog. Wait a second. I could do it. I’m gonna do it.” And a part of me hopes they made you think that too. But don’t even think of starting a rival blog. And don’t @ me.

 

  1. Batshuayi kicking the ball into his own face.

This was the funniest thing I had seen in any sport in a long time. Third game of the group stage. England v. Belgium. The winner would go on to face the harder route to the final but would still obtain the bragging rights. A tense opening half saw us into a scoreless draw at half time. Adnan Januzaj, a player who failed to cement a place in United’s starting XI, stepped up in the 50th minute and unleashed a stunning, curling shot into the top corner, past the fingertips of former child film star of This is England, Thomas Turgoose (look it up). Celebrations ensued and Chelsea player, Michy Batshuayi, picks up the ball and with the intention of kicking the ball with force into the back of the net to show how fired up he is, proceeds to kick the ball and watch helplessly as it ricochets back into his fucking face. See for yourself.

 

 

  1. Mbappes lightning pace

The second round clash between France and Argentina was probably one of the best matches of the whole tournament, just behind the group game between Spain and Portugal. It ended 4-3 in favour of the frog bastards, obviously, as they won the whole thing, with Argentina scoring a late goal to make a French dominated second half more exciting. Kylian Mbappe scored two important goals and made his mark on world football but his turn of pace to get the penalty to open the scoring was frightening. He left Rojo in his dust and if you look at it in slow motion, he actually turns around mid run, puts is hand in his shorts as if to get something out of his pocket for Rojo, then pulls his hand back out and gives him the middle finger. Rojo, enraged, rugby tackles Mbappe to the ground, shouting, “Fool me once, shame on you!” Frightening times.

 

  1. Pavard’s bending beauty

I didn’t know who Benjamin Pavard was before this World Cup and I won’t lie to you when I say that if he stays at Stuttgart I won’t know much about him afterwards, but after a brilliant, consistent tournament he can almost be sure of a starting place in many of Europe’s elite clubs. His half-volley in the second round clash against Argentina was just outstanding and is probably the goal of the tournament. Bravo.

 

 

  1. Ronaldo’s Free Kick

The game was tensely poised at 3-2 to Spain in the opening game for them and Portugal. Ronaldo was on a hatrick and standing over a free kick in the 88th minute. He had bested De Gea twice already and was looking to provide some magic and rescue a point for his team. He spread his legs about shoulder width apart, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. The sweat was beading down his face, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. The concentration was etched onto his face, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. And then he kicked the metaphorical mondo deuce into the top right hand corner of the net, a hapless De Gea watching the round turd spin past him.

 

  1. Belgium’s Surprise Attack

 

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In what turned out to be one of the more surprising and controversial events of the World Cup, there was an attack on the French players right after the final whistle. The whole stadium went black. The crowd remained silent, thinking this to be a gimmick by the tournament event manager. Suddenly, the Belgian anthem started playing. The lights slowly began to rise again as a group of about thirty men, all wearing Roy Hodgson masks, appeared at the end of the tunnel. They began to storm the pitch and beat the French players with steel tables, ladders and chairs. Two or three of the Hodgson’s would hold a French player down and another would frogsplash onto him, all the while gesticulating at the crowd. Jim Ross was doing guest commentary on the tournament for some reason I haven’t made up yet and said of the incident, “Bah Gawd, they just broke that man in half!” Eventually, the group removed their masks, revealing themselves to be the Belgian team. Vince McMahon and Vladimir Putin could not be reached for a comment. The group is still at large.

 

I hope ye enjoyed this trip to my brain. Don’t worry either, lads, as there are plenty of sports on for the rest of the summer, and then the beloved Premier League is back. Best of luck!