Posts Tagged ‘Manchester United’

Alex Ferguson Calls Time on Career

Ferguson

The most decorated and greatest ever manager Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of the season, 26 and a half years since his appointment to Manchester United in November 1986. The news that a 71-year-old is retiring shouldn’t be as big a shock as it is but Ferguson never alluded to retiring at all during the close of the season and even was actively planning for the next season. In his last program notes – against Chelsea – he said, “This team of Champions is not going away, we are here for the long time!” unfortunately, when he used the term ‘team’ he didn’t see himself in it.

Ferguson will leave United after guiding them too 13 League Titles 2 European Cups and 5 FA Cups. But his most outstanding achievement is his longevity. A week is a long time in football and Alex Ferguson has been at the helm of Manchester United for well over 1,300 weeks. Compare that to current Spurs’ manager Andre Villas-Boas 39 weeks in charge of Chelsea and you can begin to appreciate the time dedicated to United Fergie has given.

He came to the job in November 1986, Manchester United were 19th (out of 22 teams in the league) and it was 20 years since United last won the league, the club always hailed itself as one of the best in the country but at the time couldn’t back it with trophies during that period. Ferguson adamant to change set out a challenge for himself; the challenge was to make Manchester United the best team in England once again. It was something he achieved in 1993 when United won the inaugural Premier League title and were champions of England for the first time since 1967. But Ferguson’s drive, fire, and ambition was bigger than this. To be the best team in England you can’t just win the league once, you have to dominate and dominate he did. 10 years in to the re-branding of the top flight of English football United won it seven times. But Ferguson’s success didn’t stop short at the league, Fergie added to league successes with five FA Cups, two European Cups four League Cups an Intercontinental Cup and a World Club Cup.

Ferguson’s proudest hour came in Barcelona in 1999. Trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 90th minute United scored two late goals and completed one of the greatest comebacks in European history. But this mentality wasn’t a once of for Fergie’s team, it was something he instilled into all his sides and late winners have been a hallmark of United under Ferguson and it certainly wasn’t coincidental. Fergie added a second European Cup in 2008 when his United side headed with Ballon d’Or winning Ronaldo won 6-5 on penalties to Avram Grant’s Chelsea. This second European success confirmed Ferguson as the best manager of all time as some critics questioned his sole European success. Ferguson has since had a stand named after him at Old Trafford and a statue outside of it also.

fergie stand

Of course Ferguson’s tenure is not just at Manchester United, his first step into management was with St Mirren a role that eventually led to him getting the Aberdeen job where he would make his name. At Aberdeen he won three league titles and a couple of SFA Cups too, his first title with Aberdeen meant for the first time in 15 years a side other than Celtic or Rangers were crowned Champions of Scotland. Ferguson also made it aware that his talents weren’t restricted to Scotland winning in Europe twice, the Cup Winners Cup and The Super Cup. He also had a spell with the Scottish national side when he stepped in after the untimely death at manager Jock Stein.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s honours list: fergie treble

Premier League titles – 13
European Cups – 2
Fa Cups – 5
Scottish First Division – 3
Scottish FA Cups – 4
English League Cup – 4
Scottish League Cup – 1
European Cup Winners’ Cup – 2
European Super Cup – 2
Community/Charity Shield – 13

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Is The Title Race Over?

Robin van Persie rounded keeper Tim Howard twice and only scored once. Despite this uncharacteristic flaw in the flawless character that RvP is United managed to overcome the traumatic experience and beat Everton 2-0. With that win Manchester United extended their lead at the top to 12 points with just 12 games to play.

Is it all over? Well considering what happened last year, United collapsing within a month despite holding an 8 point gap over their city rivals, it is likely that the title is still there for United to through away. Were lessons learnt? Did the young Smalling, Rafael, Cleverley, Jones, and Welbeck learn enough from last seasons experience? United fans are praying that they are as the most optimistic of City fans are clinging to the thought that United could blow a commanding lead two seasons in a row.

With 12 games to play the gap between United and City could be as much as 17 points before the two face each other in April, or if City have an upturn in form and United have a complacent two months the gap could be dwindled down to just 2 or 3 points. But United, especially with Ferguson in charge, rarely make the same mistake twice. Fergie said that if it wasn’t for the opportunity to move 12 points clear he probably would have made 7/8 changes to his side; resting players ahead of the Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

(Worst case scenario for City fans would be 30 points behind United before the derby. With the best case being that they would be 6 points ahead. Although these scenarios are so unlikely it probably isn’t worth passing a second thought on them)

The difference between United this year and last is evident in their big games, last season United dropped points to all their rivals (competitive and historical) bar Arsenal. This season they’ve only dropped points too Tottenham (4) winning all their other big matches. The impressive points haul by United in these big games comes down to one summer signing. Robin van Persie. van Persie has scored 6 goals in 7 of these matches. An impressive return and exactly the reason why Fergie was desperate he didn’t end up with title rivals City. So with these extra points coming in United have managed to pick up three points when previously only one would be their reward. If this continues in the remaining 12 games, it would be impossible to look past United winning the league, despite it only being early February.

Bookmakers Paddy Power and Bet Fred have already paid out punters on United winning the league with the latter doing the same last season only to have to pay out twice when United gave up their 8 points lead with a month to go.

The Premiership Enters Winter

The premiership is well under way and it has been as competitive and entertaining as ever. Chelsea got off to a flying start that sees them sit top of the table after nine games. Champion’s City had somewhat of a stuttering start but plenty of late goals has seen them move up to third place. Manchester United rest between them a point behind leaders Chelsea and ahead of city rivals on goal difference. Last seasons overachiever’s Newcastle see themselves in 10th at this early stage and notorious slow starters Everton find themselves in 5th early on. Newly promoted Reading and Southampton are finding the step up tough as both are in the relegation zone. Big spenders QPR are currently last as Mark Hughes’ tries to bed in his new high earners.

 

Chelsea got off to a marvelous start and new signings Eden Hazard and Oscar have been shining lights. With the emphasis being on attack rather than the defensive style that won the Champions League, Di Matteo will be pleased with how his team are adapting to this new style. Juan Mata has also been a shining light the tricky Spaniard has caused problems for every defensive he’s faced this season. Chelsea may be found out as the season goes on though With Fernando Torres still struggling, not having a goal scoring striker may become costly. David Luiz is also a liability. Every game that John Terry has missed through suspension Luiz looks more and more of a threat to his own goal than to the oppositions.

Manchester City have been reliant on the late goals of Edin Dzeko although the striker hasn’t made much of an impact when giving the opportunity from the first whistle. This may result in the striker leaving in January. This would mean that City would only have 3 world-class strikers instead of four -poor them- but with Balotellli prone to do anything and with no one sure where Tevez’s heart really lies City would be best of trying to keep the Bosnian happy. However, City’s season will be decided with how they deal with Yaya Toure’s departure during the African Cup of Nations. They struggled last season and let an 8 point lead slip in his absence. City have signed players to cope with this situation but Jack Rodwell is nowhere near the class of Yaya.

Manchester United have been involved in some of the most exciting and controversial games of the season and having played some tough fixtures compared to their nearest rivals will be very pleased at only being a point off the top. However, United will be wary of the fact that they have had to dig deep to get wins going behind in no less than six games – of those six games then went on to win four – but United are United and you can never write them off, in matches or in championship races.

Everton have finally had a good start to a season. Often on kicking into top gear after Christmas, Phil Neville joked that they were going to have their Christmas party in august. Well whatever they did, it worked. Felliani has proven to be a handful this season and despite not being the most stylish player he certainly is effective. Baines and Pienaar have also worked a good partnership down the left hand side which, as a partnership, is only getting stronger.

QPR have being worrying disappointing. They spent big money this summer and were aiming for a top half finish. But the problem with signing so many players and throwing around stupid money has proven costly as the players signed clearly aren’t familiar with each other and some seem more keen on picking up their pay check on a Friday rather than preforming on a Saturday. Mark Hughes’ job is under threat and if performances don’t improve soon he’ll be out of a job before Christmas.

What Next For Robin Van Persie?

Robin Van Persie announced earlier in the summer that he would not be renewing his Arsenal contract. This left Arsenal with a decision to make, cash in on Van Persie now or face seeing him leave on a free contract next summer. When Van Persie announced this via his website it shocked a lot of Gunners as they fully expected their captain to sign a new deal. Most Arsenal fans were undecided on how to feel about the announcement at first with many hoping for a U-Turn. But as the weeks went on the Arsenal fans became more and more united in their feelings towards RVP with many feeling they would be better off if he was sold.

Today it was reported that Manchester United, Manchester City, and Juventus all had bids, all around £15 million, rejected by Arsenal, with it being suggested that none of the clubs offered enough to even tempt Wenger to sell.

Today it was also confirmed that Van Persie pulled out of Arsenal’s tour of Asia; the point of no return on staying at the Emirates it would seem.

With three bidders for Van Persie Wenger and Arsenal can be patient when dealing with bids and will probably hold out for no less than £25 million. But will the three bidders return with an improved bid for the Dutch forward?

Van Persie Has Left Some Arsenal Fans Feeling Betrayed

The Prospective Buyers.

Manchester United;

It is no secret that United manager is an admire of Van Persie and it was reported that Fergie told his footballing friends that he is confident of signing last year’s Players Player of the Year. But questions have to be asked whether or not an improved bid would be likely as other positions need more attention than the attacking ones. United fans wouldn’t be too impressed if Fergie blow a large hole in his tight budget signing a striker over a midfielder or left back. At the press conference of new signings Kagawa and Nick Powell Fergie suggested that he was still in the hunt with for one or two more players. He also said that the left back area is at the forefront of his mind, with Fabio being loaned out to QPR and Patrice Evra beginning to tire after five seasons of playing around 50 games a season. The fans ideally would like to see a centre midfielder brought in as Giggs and Scholes can’t be asked to play a full season. Anderson is a constant injury treat along with Cleverley and Fletcher is still not available and may not return to the side at all. This leaves just Michael Carrick as the only senior centre midfielder that can guarantee Ferguson a full season.

Manchester City;

After winning the Premiership last season City will be looking to strengthen again in order to challenge for the Champions League as well as retaining their title. Although it is unlikely that they will return with an improved bid until they offload some players first as City currently have Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, and Roque Santa Cruz as senior strikers on the books. City fans are still on cloud 9 after winning the League for the first time in 44 years. They will be happy to add last season’s top scorer to their squad list especially if Tevez or Dzeko is sold.

Juventus;

After going unbeaten in the Serie ‘A’ last year Juventus are keen to add to their squad as they will be looking to established themselves as a regular Champions League participants for the first time since being relegated to Serie ‘B’ in 2006. However it is unclear whether Juventus will be keen to peruse their interest if Arsenal are insisting on a larger fee. If Juventus are put off by the fee they will probably turn their attentions to Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. Although Arsenal would prefer to sell Van Persie to Juventus instead of league rivals City or United.

Other Interested teams;

As always Paris Saint Germain will be mentioned in a big money move for any player but after Zaltan Ibrahimavich they are unlikely to move for another striker.

The team PSG signed Ibrahimavich from, AC Milan, could be tempted to make a bid, as along with the Swedish man they may also be selling Robinho leaving them with Pato as their number one striker although it may not make sense to risk bringing in injury prone Van Persie as Pato himself has that tag and will probably try to go for either Tevez or Dzeko with the latter being more probable.

Fergie Bits Back At Suarez

Alex Ferguson has responded to claims by Luis Suarez that Manchester United control the politics in the English game.

Ferguson who wants the issue put to bed said of the comments “It’s not going to go away if Suarez keeps on making headlines out of it. It was nothing to do with Manchester United.”

Liverpool boss at the time of the incident, Kenny Dalglish, was sacked at the end of the season and Fergie believes it was his support of Luis Suarez that ultimately cost him his job. He said “I think John Henry has obviously looked at the Suarez incident and felt it wasn’t handled in the right way. I think that must have been part of it. It certainly wasn’t a nice thing to happen, you know.”

The United boss also claims he wasn’t surprised at his fellow countryman’s sacking.

Suarez was banned for eight matches by the FA and Liverpool boss always backed his striker, among his continued backing of Suarez in the media it was also Dalglish’s idea that the Liverpool squad would wear t-shirts in support of their banned teammate.

Suarez’s comments may have come of a surprise to many after new Liverpool boss, Brendan Rogers, said it is time for Suarez to move on and for the whole issue to be consigned to the past.

Ferguson was speaking in Durban, South Africa as United kicked off their pre-season with a 1-0 win against AmaZulu.

Suarez Blasts English Football Politics

The Liverpool striker has claimed that Manchester United run the politics within the English game and that was the deciding factor in the Evra race row. He stated “Within Liverpool, many people were convinced that Manchester politics was behind the Evra episode.”

Suarez speaking to Uruguayan TV also suggested that the ‘Evra episode’ was created to ban Suarez he said “In fact, I think it was all arranged against me again, as it had happened with the punishment.”

Speaking of English football politics he said “In England, Manchester United has this political power, and you have to respect that and shut your mouth”.

Suarez was handed an eight match ban after being charged with racial insults towards United left back Patrice Evra and was also fined £40,000.

 

Suarez may want to be more careful in his next interview as he may find himself in more hot water with the FA.

 

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The Premiership: Last Day Scenarios

Another Premiership season has come and gone but there is still a lot to sort out in the final round of fixtures this Sunday. Here are all the possible scenarios for the key battles.

The Title Race;

The Title race will go down to the last day, with both Manchester clubs still in with a chance to lift the title. Manchester City are firmly in the driving seat and a win against QPR at the Etihad would crown them champions for the first time in 44 years, but any slip up from City will give United the chance to retain their Premier League crown who still have a tough job to do themselves against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Another and more unlikely scenario is if both sides win but Man United match Man City’s score and win by a further 8 goals. A scenario that not even United fan’s could dream up.

Prediction;

Both sides to win.

Winners: Manchester City, Runners Up: Manchester United

 

The Champions League Spots;

The last guaranteed Champions League spot is still up for grabs, with three teams still in the hunt. Arsenal, Tottenham, and Newcastle are still looking for that last guaranteed spot. There is still a chance that fourth place could get one of the teams a place, in the best placed play-off round, but that place would be taken away if Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in the final of the competition itself. Arsenal’s destiny is in their own hands and a win away at West Brom would assure them an automatic spot in the group stages in next season’s Champions League. If Arsenal fail to win, Tottenham would have to beat Fulham at White Hart Lane in order to leap frog Arsenal. Another way and less likely scenario is if Arsenal lose by two goals or more and Tottenham at least draw against Fulham. Newcastle have to rely on both Arsenal and Tottenham to lose (or Tottenham to draw) for them to take the last guaranteed spot. Newcastle also have arguable the trickiest task as they face Everton at Goodison,a must win for Newcastle.

Prediction;

Arsenal to win, Tottenham to draw, and Newcastle to win.

3rd: Arsenal, 4th: Newcastle, 5th: Tottenham

 

Relegation;

Wolves and Blackburn may already be relegated but who will join them?

Bolton Wanderers currently occupy the final spot and must beat Stoke at the Britannia Stadium. If they do manage to win against Stoke it would mean QPR would have to get at least a point against Manchester City. This scenario would mean that both sides would be level on points but QPR boast a better goal difference and Bolton would have to win their match by at least 7 goals. Aston Villa are mathematically still in the relegation battle but for them to be relegated they must lose and there to be a 17 goal swing in Bolton’s favour. QPR would also need to win against Manchester City for Aston Villa to go down.

Predictions;

Bolton to draw, QPR to lose, and Aston Villa to draw.

18th: Bolton Wanderers, 17th: QPR, 16th: Aston Villa

 

Other unsolved battles;

Only a point separates Everton and Liverpool, in the favour of Everton, and bragging are on the line as Liverpool will be keen not to finish behind their Blue neighbours. Swansea and Norwich will be battling it out to be crowned the best of the promoted sides. Both have preformed above expectations this season and are locked on 44 points with Swansea having the better goal difference.

 

Fixture List:

Chelsea v Blackburn

Everton v Newcastle

Man City v QPR

Norwich v Aston Villa

Stoke v Bolton

Sunderland v Man United

Swansea v Liverpool

Tottenham v Fulham

West Brom v Arsenal

Wigan v Wolves