Archive for the ‘Manchester United’ Category

We all remember the goal that announced a 16 year old, Wayne Rooney to the wonderful world of football and as that ball nestled in the goal of David Seaman fans, pundits and players alike all began dreaming of what this English sensation could go on to achieve but a decade on from that afternoon on Goodison is Rooney really reaching the potential his talents deserve?

Sir Alex Ferguson delivered a warning to his striker after the Scouser missed another penalty against Bolton Wanderers at the weekend, with the Scotsman declaring “Wayne had his moments but he can do better really,” And you really would find it hard to disagree with the Red Devils manager.

At the age of 26 the world of football really has to stop viewing ‘Wazza’ as the ‘boy wonder’ that exploded into our lives ten years ago and to a certain extent, Rooney himself has to stop seeing himself as this teenage starlet and start playing with an air of maturity because it is hindering the volatile England international, especially when you consider that at the age of 25 Maradona had single handedly won the World Cup with Argentina and Bobby Moore achieved the same feat.

Rooney has experienced it all in football and now Fergie is looking for the former Everton striker to consistently step up and be the leader that his Red Devils side needs, much like the way Ronaldo and Messi do in La Liga, the former Aberdeen boss is desperate for his ‘superstar’ to have the same application and impetus that the two previous Ballon D’or winners consistently have in every 90 minutes.

In the run up to the European Championships Wayne Rooney has to ask himself one question and that is ‘Does he want to be the best player England have or does he want to be deemed one of the world’s greatest players?’ He definitely has the talent to be the latter.

If you want to let Rooney know about me then find me on Twitter @DanielTBlazer

You know those pages on Facebook that clog up your news feeds? Annoying aren’t they. Usually pointless advertising and spamming of my own personal social media space (an oxymoron if ever there was one), however in amongst the adverts making me feel inadequate about my manhood (why these are on a Fifa banter page, god only knows) but one fan asked a question that got me thinking, ‘Who is the best left back in the Premier League?’

Firstly let me say, Ashley Cole is not going to be considered because my twenty year plan to make Cheryl Cole/Tweedy my wife will be ruined if she reads this article about what a wonderful left back he is/was.

Jose Enrique appears to be one of the bargains of the season so far at £6 million, with the Spaniard being key in Liverpool only conceding 18 Premier League goals this season, which is only bettered by Manchester City (16). The former Newcastle United player has defended with maturity and attacked with force, encompassing everything the modern day full back is about, however Enrique is yet to make his international debut which is surprising given his form and Spain’s supposed shortage at left back.

Leighton Baines, arguably the most consistent left back over the last two years or so which has started to earn the defender recognition at international level. The former Wigan Athletic man has an attribute that hasn’t been seen in a left back since Roberto Carlos and that is his ability from dead ball situations, which has proved invaluable to Everton with the likes of Louis Saha making Emile Heskey look prolific.

Neil Taylor has been one of several positives from the Premier League new boys Swansea this year, the Welsh outfit have been a great addition to the world’s best league. The Wales international has it all, the pace, the calmness when under pressure and the attacking tendencies; admittedly at 22 the former Wrexham defender isn’t the complete package but given a season or two at the top level and rumours such as the ones linking him with Arsenal will, no doubt be a common occurrence.

Admittedly I started this article thinking there were going to be five or six decent left backs but clearly I’m mistaken.

Overall, you can’t overlook consistency and Baines has been a solid performer for two seasons now. Although the Englishman may not have the Spanish flair or the ability to reach the levels Neil Taylor can, at the moment you can’t look past the Everton man.

Let me know who you think is the best or just give me advice on how to make Cheryl Cole mine on Twitter @DanielTBlazer

Something is missing at United –What Manchester United side under Sir Alex would have ever nearly thrown away a 3-0 nil lead? Yeah, you can argue City are world class but this is the same manager that orchestrated the famous comeback in the Champions League against Bayern Munich.

The Old Trafford reality is catching up with Jones –Phil Jones is currently in a torrid run of personal form. With the own goal against Newcastle as well as a couple of bad games before, the Englishman can now add this thriller to one of his worst games. The centre half had been receiving plaudits left right and centre since his big money to United, and quite rightly so, however the defenders form as of late has been shaky, unreliable and costly. Whether it be the adrenaline coming to an end after his move or we are just seeing the real Phil Jones, either way these performances most stop being a regular thing if he is to reach his potential.

Lack of leaders at City – 1-0 down and a man down after twelve minutes against your fiercest rivals in arguably the world of football’s most prestigious cup competition should rile up any footballer. However without the commanding presence of Yaya Toure and even the often criticised Gareth Barry; City, for all their world class skill didn’t have that leader, that captain to steady the ship…it could be a long month for City without Yaya.

Defence really is the best form of attack – At half time Roberto Mancini took off Adam Johnson and David Silva for Stefan Savic and Pablo Zabaleta to avoid ending up on the wrong side of 6-1 but in the end they probably were unlucky not to earn at least a replay, something that at half time, seemed more unlikely than a Martin O’Neill wearing a suit.

Chris Foy is a United fan – He has to be. He helped Stoke beat title rival Tottenham Hotspur and now he has sent off Vincent Kompany for a tackle that would have got a “take a bow son” off Andy Gray against the Red Devils greatest rivals. Fergie really has worked his magic in the transfer market by securing the signings of Howard Webb and Foy in the middle of the park.

Rooney will 110% be leaving United – He kissed the badge. He’s off. Fact.

Loan signings are cheating.  I mean how can Emmanuel Adebayor transform Tottenham Hotspur’s season and perhaps in the long run cost his parent club Manchester City the Premier League title?

For all of the praise the Premier League receives for being the best league in the world, it is fundamentally flawed in that it allows loan deals internally within the same league.

Jamie O’Hara last season joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan from Spurs and was a major influence in keeping Wolves in the Premier League. When the tenacious centre midfielder joined Mick McCarthy’s side were languishing in 19th position and eventually avoided relegation by one place and one point. Although you can’t say single handedly that the Englishman pulled Wolves from the brink but you could definitely argue that would have David Edwards and Karl Henry impacted as much in the middle of the park as O’Hara did?

Birmingham City were the team to take the unwanted final place back in the Championship but not because Wolves squad was better than theirs it was because Tottenham Hotspur’s reserves were. How can Spurs influence both ends of the table?

If you can’t loan out players between one Premiership team and another, then league’s such as the Championship are the next best option. The benefits of sending the likes of Adebayor, Jamie O’Hara and Yossi Benayoun out on loan to the lower leagues of English football are huge. Players of clubs such as Cardiff, Bristol City and Watford would learn and gain so much from having players who have Champions League, Premier League and World Cup experience within their team.

At a time where the gulf between Premier League and the Championship is currently criticised as being too big of a step up, surely an influx of experienced international footballer’s within the lesser ranks of English football will help bridge that ever increasing gap?

If we ban in the Premier League surely you’d have to prevent loan deals to teams with the same tournaments too? Adebayor couldn’t join Real Madrid, Quaresma couldn’t join Chelsea and Tevez couldn’t join AC Milan on loan (If the rumours are true). However we would expect Andy Carroll to score for Liverpool before we see a swift decision made by the footballing bodies.

The conflict of interests between loan deals is massive and yet in an era that has seen Serie A basically closed down due to match fixing, the most obvious form of ‘influencing’ games is a legitimate rule within football.

Overall if the rules were to change and internal loans were banned, the team that would benefit the most is Sunderland…as they’d get to send Nicklas Bendtner back.

In football, the line between success and failure is littered with ‘ifs, ‘buts’ and ‘maybes’. However, what is now crystal clear is that Arsenal’s youth set up has definitely failed.

We assume every season that Arsene Wenger will let loose another batch of the next best things onto the League Cup, and every season we throw the usual clichés around about the next Pélé. The fact is that every season it is another eleven players from all corners of the globe we are talking about and suddenly we forget about the previous season’s Carling Cup entertainers. The false pretence in the media among fans and the world of football that Arsenal are only second to Barcelona when it comes to the best youth set-ups is, quite frankly, laughable- especially when you compare it to arch rivals Manchester United.

Sir Alex Ferguson, on a yearly basis, jettisons a boat full of young players that are deemed surplus to requirements at Old Trafford. These players then surface to do the job for other top football clubs.

Phillip Bardsley, Fraizer Campbell, Kieran Richardson and John O’Shea all ply their trade with some distinction at Sunderland. Guiseppe Rossi is one of the most sought after strikers in this transfer window after years of consistently dominating the scoring charts for Villareal; another former United youngster excelling in La Liga is Gerard Pique, three times winner of the Champions League at only 24 years of age. Consider this host of names, then think about the ones I have not yet mentioned, having barely scratched the surface of United academy graduates enjoying fruitful careers around the globe. The likes of Jonathan Greening, Robbie Savage, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake and Ryan Shawcross, and that’s just counting the players who failed to make the grade at United. What about our beloved David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and Paul Scholes; the list seems never ending. With Arsenal, the standout names are David Bentley, Ashley Cole and Steve Sidwell; I suppose you can also consider Fabrice Muamba and Jermaine Pennant, who is finally starting to show his worth. Nonetheless, could not Spurs, West Ham, Chelsea and even Fulham boast half a dozen decent youth players? The lavish praise that the Gooner’s youth set-up receives is not warranted when one considers the number of players who have excelled in life after the Emirates. Yet outside that iconic picture of Butt, Scholes, Beckham, Giggs and Neville as trainees, the Old Trafford youth system doesn’t earn as much credit as it quite deserves.

United’s loan deals speak volumes, with Danny Welbeck a huge success at Sunderland and Federico Macheda deemed accomplished enough for a loan move to Serie A outfit Sampdoria. While in North London, Arsenal loaned out Henri Lansbury and Aaron Ramsey to Championship sides Norwich City and Nottingham Forest respectively, and Kyle Bartley to Rangers.

It would be foolish to continue without a mention of Jack Wilshere, one shining example of a player who has thrived under the Wenger way and come out the other side triumphant. Wilshere began his training as a nine year old and is now on the verge of something special, but one shining star doesn’t allow you to forget the Sanchez Watt’s, the Quincy Owusu-Abeyie’s and the Justin (or even Gavin) Hoyte’s of the footballing world; the success of players after their respective spells at Arsenal and Manchester United speaks for itself.

There is clearly something wrong with the Wenger method with regards to youth development. The Frenchman arrived at an Arsenal that had produced David Rocastle, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Paul Merson, Michael Thomas and Kevin Campbell. All the aforementioned players became established first team regulars for the Gunners, having come through Arsenal’s youth system. Yet if you compare this to the starting line up of the Gunners’ final Premier League fixture of the 2010/11 season against Fulham, only Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere can claim to have gone through the Arsenal youth system for a substantial period.

The praise Arsenal receive for such players as Cesc Fabregas is excessive. Wenger and his team do deserve credit for seeing something in the 16 year old Barcelona academy graduate, but Wenger merely polished a rough diamond. Fabregas was already a great prospect after the Spaniard’s training at La Masia. The crux of this debate is clearly very straightforward, unlike Man United, who produce players tirelessly and see them go on to find success; Arsenal merely take players, young players, who have had their footballing education and give them a platform to showcase their talents- Robin Van Persie comes to mind.

Football is a game graded on success, and since Arsene Wenger’s appointment in 1996, Arsenal’s Youth and Reserve teams have won a total of nine honours combined, whereas Manchester United have won 33 titles and various other accolades. These numbers tell the same story as at senior level. Arsenal play attractive football, but have a fairly empty trophy cabinet; perhaps the opposite could be said of the Red Devils, as they continue to defy the critics and win football’s major trophies. The bedrock of the teaching at Man United seems to instil a winning mentality, something Wenger just doesn’t understand how to do with his approach.

I may have been too harsh on Arsenal’s most successful manager, I mean, ultimately the players are in control of their own success on the pitch, whether they be up-and-coming stars or experienced footballers. At Manchester United, the influence of the experienced footballers upon the youngsters who have come through over the years has been huge, and why wouldn’t it be? Fraizer Campbell, Kieran Richardson et al would have grown up watching Ryan Giggs and co, true professionals playing at the highest level of football for their whole careers; who do Arsenal have? The Thierry Henrys, Patrick Vieiras and Tony Adams have come and gone, and since those Arsenal ‘legends’ have departed, the Gunners have lacked experience, they appear to be crying out for a talisman, someone who lives and breathes Arsenal in the same way John Terry does for Chelsea, Steven Gerrard does for Liverpool and Rio Ferdinand does for Man United. Ryo Miyaichi, Emmanuel Frimpong, Henri Lansbury and so many of the youngsters, who are coming through the ranks and hoping to break into Wenger’s first eleven won’t have that calm and assured head to ease the transition, instead they have fellow young professionals who are still finding their own way in the beautiful game.

Youth policy shapes an attitude, mentality and even a perception of a club, and the ultimate irony is that the football world’s ‘Young Guns’ perception of Arsenal is so clearly wide of the mark. What Arsenal actually need is some ‘Old Cannons’.

Bebe has left on loan, after a less than impressive season with The Red Devils. Sir Alex Ferguson surprised the world of football when he signed the forward, despite admitting he had never seen the Portuguese striker play and bought him on instinct when he found out Real Madrid were vying for Bebe’s signature as well. Fergie’s instincts clearly failed him this time around, but for a manager who has achieved so much in the world of football it is surprising how many times the Scot does make a bad decision in the transfer market.

David Bellion

In an era where the French were giving the beautiful game strikers such as Nicola Anelka and Thierry Henry, Ferguson tried his luck with David Bellion. The French forward was signed by Fergie after Sunderland’s relegation for £2 million (compensation), in amongst rumours that SAF had tapped up the former Cannes striker. The Red Devil’s faithful must have been excited by Bellion’s signing if Fergie had gone to all that (illegal) trouble to sign him, but sadly after a handful of goals, mainly in friendlies and League Cup games, the striker left Old Trafford and somehow forged a relatively successful career in France.

Juan Sebastian Veron

Included in such lists because of his extortionate transfer fee, but for me personally I always enjoyed watching the Argentine play (and even on FIFA 11 he still has a lot to offer). However the pace of the Premier League clearly didn’t suit the former Lazio star and Fergie clearly didn’t get £28.1 million worth of quality on the pitch.

Zoran Tosic

“Zoran Tosic gains permit to threaten Ryan Gigg’s place at Manchester United”- an actual title in The Times after the winger moved from Serbian giants Partizan. Not sure how much threat you can make to the Welshman after no more than five competitive appearances for The Red Devils, unless it involves extra-marital misdemeanours and super injunctions.

Massimo Taibi

Replacing Peter Schmeichel borders on impossible, but I think I could have done a better job than the Italian. Obviously ‘that goal’ against Southampton sticks in the mind, but the now nicknamed ‘Blind Venetian’ made more high profile errors against Chelsea and Liverpool; he rather unsurprisingly lasted just one season at Manchester United.

Liam Miller

With all due respect, I’m not sure why Fergie thought good performances for Celtic and Danish club AGF Aarhus mean you can cut it at one of the world’s biggest clubs. The midfielder made nine league appearances in two seasons and I’m surprised the Republic of Ireland international even made that many.

Eric Djemba-Djemba

Signed as the new Roy Keane…sorry I dropped my pen in shock, as I saw the Cameroonian play and that comparison just baffles me.

Kleberson

Brought in alongside Cristiano Ronaldo; how different their careers have turned out. After an impressive World Cup for Brazil, he was seen as a replacement for the equally poor Veron, but two years later and with only twenty appearances, Kleberson left to join Besiktas with his time at Old Trafford even worse than Veron’s (somehow).

Diego Forlan

It is hard to believe that the former Manchester United striker has gone on to become one of the best forwards in the beautiful game, after managing only 17 goals in 95 games during his time in Manchester.

Ralph Milne

Honestly, he is a real footballer. Fergie admits himself that Milne was his worst signing ever, “I only paid £170,000 for him but I still get condemned for it.”

Jordi Cruyff

It’s official, footballing talent is not genetic and that was a real shame for Jordi, whose father is one of the greatest players ever, Johan Cruyff. The attacking midfielder’s time at Old Trafford was a frustrating one, with injuries and his inability to oust Ryan Giggs; the fact that the arrival of Quinton Fortune virtually ended Cruyff’s chances of another contract says it all.

This season will be remembered for the emergence of Jack Wilshere, Gareth Bale and Javier Hernandez and quite rightly so, all three players were in inspired form the whole season and became pivotal to their respective teams achievements. However you can be forgiven for thinking these three players were the only three to play well last season, such was the media frenzy surrounding them. There were several players who finally proved their worth after a couple of poor seasons or finally lived up to their price tag or billing.

Here are my Top TEN most improved players

Rafael (Manchester United)

When Gary Neville announced his retirement there wasn’t a worrying look on United fans’ faces like there is now after Paul Scholes announced his retirement, and that is all due to the improved performances of Rafael. The Brazilian was always renowned for his energetic runs up and down the right hand side flank but his defending left a lot to be desired, but this season saw Rafael become a stronger tackler of the ball and just an all round more composed defender.

Joey Barton (Newcastle United)

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that the former Manchester City player has been instrumental in Newcastle’s successful first season back in the Premier League. The Englishman’s range of passing has been his one stand out improvement, with Barton displaying the ability to find that defence splitting pass either from the centre of midfield or on the right flank.

Ben Foster (Birmingham City)

We all (quite rightly) wrote Foster off after Paul Robinson’s goal kick goal against him in 2007, but the former Manchester United keeper has come back fighting. Foster has been named man of the match on several occasions this season, most notably the Carling Cup final, where he made several world class saves to help Birmingham win the trophy. With the burden of being Edwin Van Der Sar’s under study off his back, the Englishman looks to finally be the goalkeeper we were all promised back in 2005.

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Leighton Baines (Everton)

How Fabio Capello must be regretting the decision to take Stephen Warnock instead of Baines to South Africa last summer, after the Englishman’s inspired season for Everton. The former Wigan defended strongly and looked composed on the ball, however it is his attacking exploits that have caught the eye of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City with the Englishman helping his team’s cause with 11 assists this season.

Samir Nasri (Arsenal)

Major transfer activity is expected at the Emirates this summer but maintaining Nasri’s services should be Wenger’s priority after the season the Frenchman has just had. Outshining captain Cesc Fabregas and making Arsenal fans realise there is life after the Spaniard, Nasri’s goals’, trickery and all round work ethic have made him a joy to behold this season, a different player from the previous two rather mundane and uneventful campaigns.

Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United)

Two years of criticism, abuse and ridcule from the Red Devils faithful, the former Spurs front man has come up with the ‘goods’ without really altering his playing style. Leading the Premier League goal scoring charts for the majority of the season is no easy feat, especially when you rarely start games, but the Bulgarian managed it and despite this is still rumoured to be on the move (how’s that for gratitude).

Johan Elmander (Bolton Wanderers)

The £8.2 million spent by Bolton to acquire the Swede’s services looked better served being spent on Michael Ricketts after a rather bleak start to Elmander’s career. However the beginning of this season saw the former Toulouse striker in free scoring form, including a contender for goal of the season. The goals dried up in the second half of the season but Elmander’s influence continued with his fantastic work rate, as well as forming a successful understanding with striking partners Kevin Davies and Daniel Sturridge.

Matthew Etherington (Stoke City)

The former West Ham United player looked a broken man after admitting to a gambling addiction but Tony Pulis showed faith in the winger and is reaping the rewards this season. Etherington’s crosses were almost as valuable as Rory Delap’s throw ins, with his continual supply of pin point crosses to Stoke’s several aerial threats.

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool)

Funny old game football, the Brazilian was deemed useless and a laughing stock at the end of the 2010 season but 38 Premier League games later Lucas is now the midfield lynchpin. With Steven Gerrard out for a fair bit of the season, someone needed to step into the middle and fill the hole the Englishman left and Lucas duly obliged. With consistent and hard working performances throughout this campaign the former Gremio player has shown former manager Rafael Benitez why he was wrong to play him out of position for a large portion of his tenure.

Stewart Downing (Aston Villa)

The former Middlesbrough player looked to be drowning under the expectations that fans’ and pundits’ alike had for him after a poor debut season. However this season the England international has turned his game around, contributing the level of assists’ and goals’ an attacking winger should, as well as forming a fantastic partnership with fellow Englishmen Ashley Young and Darren Bent in the process.