Advantages Always trying to win the United way
Disadvantages Average aging midfield
|Are they fun to watch?|
|Quality of defence|
|Quality of attack|
|Quality of midfield|
|Quality of management|
90% of people who call themselves Manchester United 'fans' have never been to a United game, 75% of those living abroad. United claim to have over 400 million fans world-wide, a global brand that's even outgrowing the extremely lucrative Premieleague. So when the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal hinted at a Christmas break recently because their players were facing burn-out like the domestic fans wallets were, last years rather hypocritical announcement that the Premier League wanted to franchise games around the world and play even more competitive games in the year came as no surprise to hardcore fans. The average age of the pay on the gate Premier League fan goes up one year, every year, now 39. Dads can't afford to take the kids anymore and that is the death nell for English soccer in the long run. Football at the top level is eating itself and the current recession may break the game in half.I think everyone new that if there was a Christmas break the big brand obsessed clubs would immediately plan lucrative friendlies to fill those holes, perhaps why all 20 clubs in principle agreed to this 39th game deal, no real surprise to anyone who follows the game closely, the continuous fire sale to foreign owners killing the games sole and survival chances. These foreign guys are beginning to call the shots now and Manchester United are the ones pulling the trigger for the end of the premiership. There's nothing wrong with each team playing a premier match abroad to promote the game in principal but the idea of a lottery to pick to see which international metropolis gets Wigan versus Reading is just not going to happen, and it's the big four that will be required to represent premierleague.com around the world. When Manchester United devalued the FA Cup to support the World Cup bid in 2004 they manged to field a decent shadow team on FA cup 3rd round Saturday to playa benefit match. Anyway, who cares where their matches are. Is that not where most United fans are?
As we saw with the Miami Dolphins game at Wembley last November this franchising does work financially and stadiums like Wembley will pay for the honor. The Dolphins fans were up in arms about playing the game there but as we know the fans opinions counts for nothing these days when big bucks are involved. This is about hard cash and that's when fans just don't exist. The problem will come here when one game becomes two and then soon you're playing five or six games around the world. They do it in domestic cricket when they hawk home games around the non-playing counties for a bigger gate, again without any consideration for the fans, my county, Northamptonshire, playing a couple of Twenty20 games in Milton Keynes a few years back.If there's more money to be made from the Manchester Devils versus the Liverpool Giants in Hong Kong then that's what's going to happen. But when you have pre-sold Old Trafford season tickets you have to be careful here. I suppose by adding just one game on rather than the current 38 suggest then that won't be an issue-yet. Make no mistake guys, this is not publicity a stunt and they are testing the water for the next stage of the extremely lucrative Premier League. The World League! I say if it aint broke then why fix it.
Although the Glazers have stacked the club with debt I dont think any new owner will do it any different so i dont understand why the protests, especially as United have just won a hatrick of premierships with the Glazers. What does these fans want! Its great news for the City that Manchester City are now competative and there are more challengers to Uniteds crown other than Chelsea.It is noticeable that since the leagues conception in 1990 and all the money being sucked out of the game at the top of the pile on high wages and agents fees a record number of lower league clubs have gone bust in the last 17 years, Portsmouth AFC the latest to face being wound up. The clubs really are being pulled further and further apart in so many ways. The final word on 'PLAN 39 should go to Michelle Platinni, the head of U.E.F.A., who roughly quoted: look You have no English manager for the national team; you have no English players in your league and soon you will have no English games". For once I agree with Platini.
Munich...The Manchester Devils versus the Liverpool Giants aside, last year at Old Trafford the Munich disaster was commemorated. Just like the Munich Olympics disaster shaped the new Israeli state it was the crash at that small Munich airfield in 1958 that's shaped Manchester United Football Club as they are today. A memorial clock outside of Old Trafford has the hands permanently stuck on 3:07; the moment the plane skidded of a slushy runway and into two houses killing 23 on board, including seven players, all the encouragement the players will ever need to play for the shirt. That legend is why Manchester United are the world's biggest club today because 50 years ago the world took them to their hearts in sympathy. Like the Jewish nation have quite rightfully defined themslves by the Holocaust to remind people of their struggle, United have always defined themselves from that crash in Germany and their resilience to rise again, be it Sir Alex in the dressing room ranting them out to that surprise premiership title last year or the fan loyalty that has earned United full stadiums over the years. It's no surprise that since that crash Manchester United have had the best average crowds of all when they have been in the top league, briefly dropping out in the early seventies for one season, probably the second most traumatic experience to Munich, but still bigger crowds than any 1st Division side. Those who know say that 1950s team would have dominated the decade and United may well have won the two of three European Cups. The fact they took thirty years to retain their status as the supreme club by wining the premiership and then Champions league again it shows how rare the sides are that United had in the 50s.
I was disappointed that some fan organizations at Man City requested the minutes silence at that comemeration game to be one of those ghastly minutes applause, fearing a few fans would shout out and boo in the silence. If I was a City fan I would be fuming at that suggestion as I don't think any City fan would have disrupted the minutes silence for the 5oth anniversary, as it was Manchester people who died that days as much as it was United players. As expected the City fans were respectful and went on to earn their first double over United in 37 years in 2008 with an excellent and well deserved 2-1 win. The last time City scored two to win at Old Trafford was the Denis Law game when the ex-United striker sent them down playing for city.-The Current Team-
United miss Ronaldo and his free-kicks and I can't recall a better hitter in the Premiership since Beckham, although for the all-time kicks, Roberto Carlos's was the best for me. Ronaldo running in to strike a dead-ball is like a fast bowler approaching the crease, Christianos' foot wrapping around the ball like a seam bowlers fingers gripping the seam, able to swing it either way with the right amount of 'cut' to hit the stumps, Ronaldo treating the post like the batsmen bat, trying to beat the edge. It was just a beautiful thing to see as the ball popped up and over the wall, moving left then right, before finding the mathematically perfect axis of the top corner. Jimmy White would be proud of that amount of backspin and masse` swerve! But, I suppose, without fleecing the fans for all they are worth you can't afford to have talent like this in the English league for much longer. One reasonRonaldo went to Madrid was to avoid his 40% tax here.Another star performer for United was Tévez , of course, his industrious style similar to Rooney, making quite a few keepers pick one out of the onion bag when they weren't expecting it, such are the angles the Argentina can strike a ball from.. Tévez is a real 'sniffer' of the ball like Beardsley was and was United`s best signing since Ronaldo. Having a face like a bulldog chewing on wasp helps, too, as he really can concentrate on his game and not the cameras. There's no better forward in the premiership today that can get so tight on a defender in and around the 18 yard box and yet still give and take rapid passes to feet, his one-twos a devastating weapon in the premiership, but sadly for Citys benefit now..
The midfield isn't settled yet with Carrick unfairly sidelined to accommodate Park in that contested holding role and with Scholes back and Anderson playing some great stuff it could cause ructions next season. It should be adieus for the likes of Park Je-sung and the useless Darren Fletcher for me but no sign of that. I always felt Park had a lot of energy but no real end product and was only ever a stock gap to shift shirts in South East Asia to make his transfer money back. That was certainly the case with Uniteds Chinese striker Dong Fangzhuo and it was also the case with Manucho, Sir Alex Ferguson's last African signing, previous ones in Quentin Fortune and the hopeless Djemab-Djemba, not exactly encouraging. Some of the older fans are saying Djemba was a worse signing for United than Ralph Milne! Now that is saying something. Reports are good from the timely Africa Nations Cup on the striker, including a typical African style top corner lash, Uniteds shirt sales in the African zone maybe not the driver here. To pay whatever million they did for him, sending him off to play Greek football because he hasn't got a work permit isn't very encouraging.Gigg's seems to go on forever and surely hold the record for domestic medals for many years to come. Ryan passed the appearance record of Sir Bobby Charlton's club record this season of 759 games (Bobby also the top scorer with 249 goals), and with 'Scholesy' in forth place, perhaps testament to the loyalty Sir Alex Ferguson demands from his players. It's also nice to see Gary Neville almost back to fitness, he sitting in fifth in the all-time appearance list. Sir Bobby looked frail in the season and early onset Parkinson's a possibility, the way he shakes and slurs in public now.
I still think Rio Ferdinand is over-rated internationally and Woodgate would make a much better England centre back if fit. Rio, like many players Alex bought in, seemed to be suspiciously over valued at the time and I think one day soon Alex is going to be bought down by a whistleblower for some of Uniteds 'iffy' practices over transfers. Alex's stubborn streak, succinctly demonstrated over the refusal to talk to the BBC after the Panorama exposure of his agent sons 'alleged' dodgytransfer dealings, will be his comeuppance. Fergusson's strength is his longevity, like Sir Matt Busby a 24 year long spell as boss, that long run meaning continuity and trophies at United. Incredibly, United have had only seven managers since the war. Most clubs have that many a decade in the modern game.-Current Squad-
1 GK Edwin van der Sar
2 DF Gary Neville (captain)
3 DF Patrice Evra
4 MF Owen Hargreaves
5 DF Rio Ferdinand
6 DF Wes Brown
7 MF Valencia
8 MF Anderson
10 FW Wayne Rooney
11 MF Ryan Giggs (vice-captain)
13 MF Park Ji-Sung
15 DF Nemanja Vidic
16 MF Michael Carrick
17 MF Nani
18 MF Paul Scholes
22 DF John O'Shea
24 MF Darren Fletcher
29 GK Tomasz Kuszczak
47 FW Danny Welbeck
23 Jonny Evans
Premier League (including (Old) First Division) titles: 161907-08, 1910-11, 1951-52, 1955-56, 1956-57, 1964-65, 1966-67, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, 2006-07
(Old) Second Division1935-36, 1974-75
-Cups-FA Cup: 11 (a record)
1909, 1948, 1963, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1990, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2004League Cup: 2
1992, 2006FA Charity/Community Shield: 16 (12 outright, 4 shared)
1908, 1911, 1952, 1956, 1957, 1965*, 1967*, 1977*, 1983, 1990*, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007 (* joint holders)-Europe-
European Cup / UEFA Champions League: 21968, 1999
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: 1
United We Stand (fanzine)
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