Posts Tagged ‘ Wayne Rooney ’

Have Manchester United Learned From Last Season?

mufc

With Bobby Charlton having admitted that Manchester United made mistakes last season, the question on all football fans lips is- can United learn from the mistakes made under David Moyes and return to the summit of the Premier League?

United fans cringed last season watching United play dull, boring and ineffective football that left them in 7th and without any European football for the first time since the 90’s. David Moyes was an abysmal and embarrassing failure, one United are keen not to replicate. His lack of confidence against the big teams shone through, and his negative tactics and poor substitution decisions left many wondering what Sir Alex Ferguson and the United board ever saw in the former Everton manager. The summer transfer window was truly embarrassing with only Maroaune Fellaini bought in as a deadline day panic signing that saw the club pay far more than he was worth. Fellaini has failed at United, and his attitude of having nothing to prove seems to surmise him as a footballer. It has been rumoured that the transfer failings were down to Ed Woodward’s inexperience and Moyes dithering and panicking over large fees. He still managed to spend over £60m with Fellaini and Juan Mata brought in to revamp the sub-par United midfield. The importance Moyes placed on Wayne Rooney was a further humiliation, as Moyes proved he felt the potential captain was more important than the club as a whole, rumour of Rooney being consulted on all transfer dealings was met with amazement by fans. David Moyes was a mistake that left the great club in tatters and as a result the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic have all departed. United now have few players with real experience and as such it is time for the new to emerge. Continue reading

World Cup 2014: Recap Of Week One

worldcup (easports)

The first week of World Cup 2014 is now behind us, and there has been plenty of talking points and memorable moments. Here is our recap of all the action that has taken place so far.

Thursday:

The opening game between Croatia and the host nation Brazil was the sole game on Thursday, and provided no end of controversy. Croatia had taken a well deserved early lead against a sluggish Brazillian outfit, before Neymar conjured an equaliser out of very little to get the home fans on their feet. Yet they failed to get the upper hand in the contest, until the referee awarded a very controversial penalty to Fred as he tumbled under Dejan Lovren’s presence in the penalty area. Neymar converted, and Oscar wrapped up the 3-1 win with a good finish from outside the box, although there was strong suspicion that Ramires had fouled the Croat player in possession before moving the ball to his Chelsea teammate. The home side were very unconvincing throughout, however.

Friday:

The standard of the officials continued to be brought into question during Friday’s first game, as the linesman ruled out two seemingly good goals for Mexico’s Giovanni Dos Santos in their game against Cameroon. Mexico did eventually get the breakthrough when Oribe Peralta turned in a rebound after Charles Itandje failed to hold Dos Santos’ shot. That was the only goal of the game, securing the win for the lively Mexicans, with Cameroon looking very poor. Continue reading

United Supporters Call For Ed’s Head

File:Old Trafford (262774812).jpg

Manchester United chief executive Ed Woodward would do well to fly under the radar for the foreseeable future, following a summer transfer window which can be fairly described as ridiculous, by Manchester United’s supporters at any rate. Two acquisitions in three months, neither of them high-profile, wasn’t exactly what the fans would have been hoping for, and it must be galling to have been outspent by Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, whose reputation for refusing to spend large sums was spectacularly shattered through the €50 million signing of Mesut Özil on Monday, the same player who was reportedly offered to United at some stage last week. Newly promoted from his previous role as United’s head of commercial operation, Woodward has spent the summer having a rude awakening as he discovers that handling player transfers is a whole new ball game compared to thrashing out sponsorship deals, and that his own negotiation skills aren’t as fantastic as he evidently expected.

Continue reading

Premier League Preview: Jose’s Blues Are The Boys To Beat

mgrs

With the new Premier League season fast approaching, it’s hard to look beyond an old foe of many managers and fans alike from stealing the limelight once the season gets underway.

This summer’s transfer window and indeed all of the summer’s talk has been shaped around three men, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Arsenal’s pursuit of the Uruguayan, Wayne Rooney and his transfer request and Spur’s Gareth Bale who is being courted by Real Madrid.

One team, with the exception of a handful of Rooney rumours, has slipped under the radar as they plan to wrestle back a title that they won back to back in 2005 and 2006, and they have Jose Mourinho back to steer them there. Continue reading

Five Potential Replacements For Luis Suarez

?????????At the end of May I posted an article on Irish News Review about Luis Suarez plotting his exit from Liverpool, but who knew that ten weeks later the Uruguayan would still be in the middle of one of the longest transfer sagas to date.

At the time of writing the previous piece I was already resigned to losing Suarez as were a lot of other Liverpool fans. At this stage I’d guess that a lot of those fans wish he had of just left then to save us all from the endless Twitter rumours and all this ‘he said, they said’ that’s been going on ever since. Continue reading

Ferdinand Signs New Deal

File:Rio Ferdinand.jpg

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has signed a new deal according to the club’s official website. The English centre back has enjoyed something of a renaissance over the past 18 months, and his deal marks the first successful negotiation of the Moyes era, which has already begun on an unofficial basis until July 1st.

Continue reading

Is Van Persie Made Of Manchester United ‘Stuff’?

Recent transfer speculation has placed Arsenal star Robin Van Persie in the sights of several of Europe’s top clubs; Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus being chief among his potential suitors. It’s not exactly difficult to imagine why he would want to leave. After all, he boasts only two trophies from his days at Arsenal; an FA Cup medal from 2005 and one slightly less momentous Community Shield from 2004. Arsenal, whose financial model makes sense yet is so far removed from the outrageous wages and expenditure so favoured by world football and the Premier League and thus is failing, are looking more and more like a feeder club to those at the top, rather than one looking to seriously challenge for domestic and European honours.

This speculation has favoured Manchester United to capture the Dutch forward and one of the most recent revelations declares that Van Persie is seeking wages similar to those of Wayne Rooney, if he is to join the Red Devils. While United do have the financial clout to meet his demands, the questions is not can they, but should they.

The thing is, Rooney is 26 and van Persie has three years on him. And while the Dutchman may have a similar amount of playing time, due to several bouts of injuries, the fact remains that the clock is beginning to tick. 28, going on 29 may not be exactly old, but paying such a large transfer fee for an older player can be somewhat of a risk. Take Berbatov, for example, whose £30 million transfer to United from Spurs hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses. It all hinges on whether Van Persie is only getting going, or if this is his peak. There’s no denying that he is an extremely talented footballer. But there are still a number of things that go against him. His injury record, for example, which may or may not be a worry to the manager, who would doubtfully want another Owen Hargreaves. His record too is a little short. He has had really only one great season at Arsenal, though it has to be said, what a season it was. Talisman is a word used often and certainly not sparingly by the press, yet a talisman for Arsenal he was, joining the ranks of a handful of players who managed to score 30 goals in a solitary league season. But he’s only done it the once. Can he do it again? Or has he reached the peak, the summit of his skill and is it simply downhill from here? Nobody can really predict what’s going to happen. Who could have foreseen, for example, Fernando Torres’ remarkable slump into mediocrity?

Then of course there is the wage demand. Sir Alex seems to prefer the type of footballer who comes to Old Trafford seeking to play with and for the best, whose passion lies out on the pitch rather than with a pay cheque. With his rather exorbitant wage demands, Van Persie comes across like a footballing mercenary, (Samir Nasri springs to mind) looking for money rather than a club to be passionate about. Sure, footballers should be able to demand what they feel they are worth, though that opens up yet another can of worms regarding how much the profession is paid these days. United don’t need another like Tevez. Sure, mercenaries are part and parcel of our game, just like diving and whinging is, but United are one of those clubs, like Barcelona and a handful of others, who are able to attract a certain type of player which exhibits a quality possessed by the rarest of footballers – loyalty. Really, he should stay another year and prove himself worthy of the recognition he’s getting. Then again, if Arsenal have any sense, they’ll offload him now rather than have him see out his contract then leave at the end of next season on a free transfer.

United have plenty of talent up front, in the form of Rooney, Chicharito, Macheda, Welbeck, even the much maligned Dimitar Berbatov, who may or may not be on the way out this summer. Should van Persie join then he is just another name taking away valuable playing time from those younger potential stars who need regular games not just to ensure fitness, but one of the most important things a footballer can possess – confidence. Not to mention the small prospect of the financial aspect to this transfer. For wages alone, on a three-year deal, should United offer Van Persie the same £220,000 a week Rooney is on, it would cost the club a little over £34 million. That’s not even including the £30 million transfer fee Wenger is reportedly looking for. And of course the figure rises should the contract extend any further. £64 million is quite a huge investment in a player who will turn 29 by the time the Premier League starts again, who has had quite a number of injury concerns over his career and who has had only one really great season for Arsenal.

No, midfield is where they should concentrate on; a long-term replacement for Paul Scholes, and one or two other potentials besides. Lucas Moura or Modric would be nice names to feature on the United team sheet but there are many other young players like young Nick Powell out there, because big transfer fees and solid reputations don’t always ensure value on the pitch. So on the surface, a move for one of football’s hottest talents might be the right one but under that surface it doesn’t seem quite so attractive.

Spain vs Italy – A Battle of the Titans

So it happened, perhaps not quite like many would have predicted but the almost inevitable happened – Spain beat Portugal and now must face off against Italy in Sunday’s eagerly anticipated Euro 2012 final. Undoubtedly it will be a tough match. Italy have already proven they can match Spain blow for blow with their 1-1 draw against the current holders in the group stage. Spain, like Barcelona are the golden boys of football today. Their passing game, footballing brain and build-up play is touted as how the beautiful game should be played. Unsurprising, really, when you consider how many of the players on the national side have come through Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, who have had the tiki taka style of football imprinted on their brains from a young age. They’ve already won the European Championship back in 2008 courtesy of a 33rd minute goal from Fernando Torres, ensuring a 1-0 victory over Germany. But can they retain the trophy they already have one hand on?

Spain are an excellent side, like Barcelona, there’s no doubt about it. In Iniesta and Xavi they possess the greatest two midfielders of the present day, supplemented by the forces of Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and the solid form of Madrid stopper, Iker Casillas. Ever since their elimination from the World Cup of 2006, they began to employ the tiki-taka style, an upgrade of the Dutch total football system, characterised by short passing and plenty of movement around the pitch, complemented with extended possession of the ball. And it has clearly worked. The first tournament following the disappointing World Cup was Euro 2008. Spain won each match of the group stage, went on to claim the trophy and were the highest scoring team, while David Villa took the gong for top scorer.

But they have their flaws too. Tika-taka may sometimes be breath-taking to watch but unless it’s going somewhere then it is somewhat redundant. Ugly football that wins games is more useful than entertaining play that comes up short. We saw this on Wednesday night when the Spanish faced off against Portugal in the semi-finals. Head to head, Spain had the better players, while for Portugal only three players attempted to stand out – Ronaldo, Nani and Fabio Coentrao storming up the wing. But Spain were sloppy and certainly not their usual selves. Several passes went astray, the vision and touch seemed to be lacking and Portugal really should have taken their chance to knock their neighbours out. Spain slowed the pace of their game right down, passing, passing, passing, with the occasional strike on goal. A David Silva move highlights the problems their mentality sometimes brings, and something we have seen on more than one occasion. On the edge of the box in the first half, Silva had the ball on his foot, with the space to shoot at goal, a position he has been in and scored from many a time. Instead, he passed the ball off, and the move petered out. This shows the need for a strong striker up front for Spain, a real presence at the top, a Wayne Rooney, a Didier Drogba. Spain do have forwards, Fernando Torres (who hasn’t exactly been at his best of late), Alvaro Negredo (disappointed thus far) and the skilful Pedro Rodriguez who still has things to learn and who doesn’t always appear supremely confident on the ball. And anyway, Spain prefer to stock the centre and top of the pitch with midfielders anyway. At times in the match against Portugal there were swathes of spaces in front of the Portugal goal, devoid of any red shirts. Spain’s use of the ‘false number 9’, a supposed striker who in reality drops deeper into midfield, usually in the guise of Cesc Fabregas has indeed worked previously. Against France in the quarter finals last Saturday evening it was midfielder Xabi Alonso who grabbed a brace for his country, although it was Florent Malouda and his utter failure to track back which led to the opener, while a fairly soft penalty handed Alonso the chance to net a second, which he duly did. But even the masters of this passing game, Barcelona, utilise strikers up front, to get into the spaces, to draw back defenders or to grab goals in and around the box – David Villa has and will again, Alexis Sanchez who fills in for him while he recovers, the youngster Pedro and last but certainly not least, the unpredictable and supremely talented Lionel Messi.

It will be interesting to see how they come out and play on Sunday. Italy are going to come to win the game and the Championship and will surely be spurred on, both by their own win over Germany and the protracted affair that eventually saw Spain triumph over Portugal, by no means comfortably. Who will win? Italy seem to be riding high at present, almost matching the intricacy of Spain in some of their play. Pirlo works a similar brand of magic to that of Xavi and Iniesta while up front Mario Balotelli is proving himself worthy. And while many in the media will rave about Spain, their deft passing game, their vision, the pedigree of their players, my money is on the Italians.

The Man From Crewe – Who is Nick Powell?

40 yards from goal, the attacker strides calmly, almost lazily, towards the net, barely mindful of the defenders in blue shirts swarming around him. He lifts the ball almost effortlessly, which loops through the air before dipping down into the top corner, the hapless Gillingham goalkeeper flapping at the empty space. Wembley Stadium in May of this year hosted the League Two playoff final, featuring Crewe Alexandra and Cheltenham battling it out for promotion. Crewe went on to win the match 2-0 but the standout moment was surely the Railway men’s first goal after just fifteen minutes, when a skinny yet assured midfielder picked up the ball on the edge of the box, turned and struck on the half volley, sending a shot eerily reminiscent of a particular ginger haired Manchester United midfielder hurtling into the net.

Manchester United is a club run on financial principles quite different to those of their Manchester or London rivals. David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson hold control over the purse strings and the Scot is not one to pay over the top simply to secure the services of a player. Sir Alex usually chooses wisely, as opposed to Chelsea’s £32 million splurge which seems a little over the top for Belgian Eden Hazard or the oft quoted £35 million transfer of Andy Carroll from Newcastle to Liverpool. More often than not, they choose to buy young. Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, the da Silva twins, even Javier Hernandez, were and are all promising young stars with first teams spots at young ages. The club’s most recent signing is Crewe Alexandra youngster Nick Powell, and at only 18 years of age, he’s at a perfect age, fresh from a Crewe academy which has produced the likes of Dean Ashton, Danny Murphy and Neil Lennon. Powell is reputed to be one of England’s most exciting future talents, and the Reds have shelled out in the region of £4 million for his talents.

Speaking to BBC radio, Crewe assistant manager Neil Baker gushed about the young midfielder. “It will take a lot of doing, but he could be the best of the lot. He’s earned it. He’s a special player.” Manchester United’s newest signing swept the board at his former club’s awards ceremony in April, picking up five gongs including both Young player of the year and Player of the year from official and club recognised supporters organisations, following on from his recognition as League One Apprentice of the year in March.

The young man from Crewe is certainly an exciting prospect for the future. Only 18 years of age, he shows considerable footballing awareness, deft touches around the box, and strikes on goal that would remind one of a certain Paul Scholes, with the cool and cheekiness of a player much older than his 18 years. Born in the town of Crewe he joined the youth system as a five-year old, making his first senior appearance at sixteen against Cheltenham Town in August 2010, the second youngest player to do so in the history of the club. Despite failing to score in his debut season he left his mark the following year, doubling his appearances and scoring 14 goals to boot. From August 2011, following his sending off after just eight minutes against Shrewsbury Town his season flourished. The first award came in December and the rest followed, attracting attention from United’s Scottish manager, who personally attended some of Crewe’s games to watch the youngster in action. “We have scouted Nick for months now, he said. “He is an exceptional talent and has been schooled well at Crewe. I’m delighted he has chosen to come to United. He has a lot to offer and we are all looking forward to working with him.” Having said that, his experience at club level has come in League Two, a far cry from the physical battles he will face at the summit of English football. United may consider bulking the midfielder up, similar to David de Gea, who piled on muscle in an attempt to compete on an even ground, and who has flourished having done so. Then again, Powell is quick on his feet and deft with his touch. Ryan Giggs was never the largest of men but his pace ran rings around many a heavy-set defender.

Some Crewe supporters have referred to Powell as the ‘next Wayne Rooney.’ Former Crewe manager turned Director of Football, Dario Gradi, likened the young lad to a different England star. “We’ve had some terrific players at Crewe who went on to play for England, but Nick’s not the same as any of them,” he said, speaking to MUTV. “He does a similar job to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.” Whoever people say he may emulate, one thing is for certain; Powell is his own man, and United have a potential star on their hands.