Posts Tagged ‘Fergie’

Weekly Photoshop – Fergie’s Media Blackout

15/03/2011

Alex Ferguson always seems to be angry at someone, and this week his ire was aimed at most of the media for the apparent reason that they published what he said.

Of course broadcasting something negative that Fergie has said has its consequences – he promptly spoke to no-one all week. Ridiculous over-reactions aside, it’s only natural that he is this week’s photoshop theme.

Considering there’s been someone else in the news all week for the exact opposite of Ferguson’s actions (i.e. spouting off every day) it seemed right to combine the two…

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alex ferguson media

After various misquotes, Fergie decided it was high time to create his own media channel and set the record straight.

You're either with him or without.

No doubt this will sell bucketloads...

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Plenty more here.

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T.

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Archive.

The Six Pointer – Wounded Challenges, Slippery Slides & more…

07/03/2011

1. Liverpool convincingly dealt with Man Utd yesterday and Dirk Kuyt will never, ever score an easier hat-trick. It was very surprising to see Fergie start with Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick in central midfield – recent history has normally seen him go with three in the middle in big matches in an attempt to gain control and stop the opposition playing.

Neither Scholes nor Carrick are particularly energetic or mobile in the way Darren Fletcher is, but with the Scotsman left on the bench after his shift against Chelsea (he can only do one big game a week)  it meant United were unable to gain a foothold on the game.

As you can see in the Chalkboards below, between them they won only one tackle and the likes of Meireles would consistently run or pass around them.

Only one interception between them too.

The decision to give Carrick a new contract during the week was greeted with some derision but at the same time I don’t think Ferguson considers him a first choice player. He’s not bad against weaker sides and he has long been found out against the best – playing him yesterday was more out of necessity than want.

Still, with his continued mediocrity, Scholes’ potential retirement, Fletcher’s one game a week effectiveness and Hargreaves and Anderson’s consistent injury problems, Man Utd’s midfield will certainly need some work in the summer.

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2. Yesterday’s match could have easily seen two red cards, and probably should have. Carragher went in high on Nani and created quite the wound (see below) while Rafael was similarly lucky to stay on the pitch following his wild lunge on Lucas. There is something to be said for a referee to take into account the situation and the context, but really Phil Dowd made errors in giving both players just a yellow.

Red drawn, yellow given.

Interestingly, Rafael is developing quite a reputation as someone who may not have the temperament (or indeed the positional sense) to go with his natural talent.

A red card would have meant his third in under a year, while he was nowhere near where he should have been when Suarez tip-toed through the United defence for the opener.

Recently Ferguson has seemed to prefer someone more dependable in tough matches, with Rafael being omitted against Man City, Chelsea and Marseilles. It will intriguing to see when the Brazilian next plays again, I imagine he might find himself out of the team for a few weeks.

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3. In the context of yesterday’s result, it is difficult to say whether Arsenal’s draw against Sunderland is a point gained or more likely two points dropped.

Wenger’s team have struggled in recent seasons against Sunderland having won only one of the last six games, so it was always going to be tricky without out several players and against one of the best defences outside the top five.

Wenger had a similar problem to Fergie in that first choice midfielders weren’t available so he was forced to play Denilson and Diaby alongside Wilshere. They can usually get away with one of those in the team but having to play both meant it was one of those days where the team struggled to get going, Wilshere unable to do all the tempo setting himself.

The weight of the other two on his shoulders...

Sunderland were lucky to get away with Bramble clearly fouling Arshavin in the box and a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside but having said that they also had their moments and drew a couple of very smart stops out of Szczesny.

I would think that once Aaron Ramsey has a bit more fitness under his belt, he will swiftly move ahead of Denilson and Diaby in the pecking order. He might not have the same experience but he makes things happen, and in a game like Saturday’s and indeed for the run in, that could be priceless.

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4. Momentum at this stage of the season is key so it’s fascinating to see who is making a move at the bottom end of the table.

Just nine points separate ninth place Newcastle from bottom placed Wigan but realistically it’s looking like everyone from Blackburn downwards are the ones who should be worried.

Things are swiftly grouping together for a climatic last few games and as the old cliché goes, a couple of wins and “you’re right back in the mix” (© every pundit going).

I’m willing to condemn Wigan already to be honest, they’re tough to beat but they don’t win many either. As I’ve written here many times before, draws can be rather useless at times and a team like Blackpool who either win or lose has a far better shot and getting the points needed to stay up.

Almost good enough, but not quite.

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5. Of the teams not in that bottom group, Stoke are looking a little vulnerable. They’ve won just one of their last seven and still have to play four of the top five. They seem to have a slightly resigned air about them at the moment – certainly away from home where they’ve lost their last six (and not even scored in the last five).

The earlier point about momentum is key – they face Newcastle, Spurs and Chelsea next. Fail to win the first one and you could be looking at mid-April before they are favourites in a match, by which time they could be in a much more serious position.

I do think they should be ok, given the cushion they have, but it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see them need something against Wigan on the last day.

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6. Jermain Defoe has only just scored his first league goals in a year. If he fulfils Harry Redknapp’s wish and gets to ten by the end of the season, then it will go a long way to ensuring Spurs finish in the top four again. As it is, the lack of a striker in double figures for 2010/11 may be what costs them. Van der Vaart’s ten goals should complement not lead.

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T.

Season Previews 2010/11 – Manchester United

12/08/2010

Man Utd

Last Season: 2nd + Carling Cup Winners

New Signings: Smalling, Hernandez, Bébé

Key Player: Wayne Rooney

One To Watch: Javier Hernandez

Needs  A Big Year: Rio Ferdinand

Would Quite Like: To keep City in their place while winning title 19 to overtake Liverpool’s record. Two birds, one stone.

Prediction: 1st

Thoughts: Alex Ferguson came mighty close to another league title last season but ultimately fell a point short of Chelsea, which was impressive given they’d lost both league matches against the Blues. Wayne Rooney carried them with his best ever season but the injury he suffered in March meant the Red Devils stuttered to the line somewhat and were pipped at the post.

Not too much has changed at Old Trafford with just three players joining in the shape of Chris Smalling (who was bought in January), Javier Hernandez and unknown striker Bébé for whom Ferguson has paid £7m or so on the back of a Carlos Queiroz recommendation. This last signing is really out of the blue, and considering how Nani and Anderson have turned out, it might be another case of overpaying.

In terms of the other two, Smalling is clearly being groomed as an eventual successor to Rio Ferdinand, though he wasn’t impressive when he played for Fulham last season. Hernandez or ‘Chicarito’ as he likes to be known is the interesting one. He looked very lively in the World Cup and has had a good pre-season. Double figures in goals could well be possible in his first season.

Bebe Man Utd

The last two Queiroz recommendations (Anderson and Nani) haven't exactly been rip roaring successes.

Elsewhere, there appears to be another crop of good youngsters pushing through, which is probably why Fergie hasn’t spent too much this summer. The likes of Tom Cleverley have been impressive in pre-season and should feature regularly as the season progresses.

The defence is solid if a little injury prone with van der Sar, Rio and Vidic all susceptible to niggles. Evans is a capable deputy at centre back however. Evra was one of the team’s best players last season but a question does remain over right back, where you have the same scenario as last season with O’Shea, Neville and Rafael battling it out.

It might be this for England.

Further forward, there are a huge range of options in midfield and attack. Fergie hasn’t named the same side in well over a 100 games and the likes of Valencia, Anderson, Nani, Park, Berbatov, Owen, Carrick, Scholes and Giggs all provide different options at different times.

Nani especially looked to finally be living up to some of his potential last season and Fergie will hope that he can be consistent over a whole season.

But it's more like this for Man Utd.

Really though it all depends on Rooney. The team is built around him now and he responded with his best ever season last year. After a dreadful World Cup (due to lack of fitness more than anything) he will want to bounce back – he looked half decent in the Charity Shield before being a bit rubbish in the Hungary friendly but I suspect the home comforts of Manchester will see another good season.

As ever, United have a pretty good team and if you come above them, you stand a very good chance of winning the title. I do feel Chelsea won’t be quite as good while Arsenal are still a decent keeper away from being true contenders. Ferguson has seen it all before and still has the same determination to win as he did twenty years ago. I think they’ll come top

T.

The Six Pointer – Cheap Managers, Poor Teams & more…

15/03/2010

1. While most teams tend to roll over at Old Trafford, you occasionally harbour hope for someone to pull a surprise. Fulham however are not one of those teams (in contrast to their good home record against Fergie’s side) and Saturday was another comprehensive defeat thanks in no small part to Master Rooney again.

The last six seasons has seen Man Utd P6, W6, F18, A3 vs Fulham at home while Rooney now has 32 for the season and a maximum of 13 games to beat Ronaldo’s 42 in 2007/08. Next week sees a big game vs Liverpool but given the way Rafa Benitez’s team is playing, I don’t see anything other than a Man Utd win.

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2. Drogba didn’t do much but scored twice. Chelsea not at their best but won 4-1. Just another regular day at the office at Stamford Bridge. With three easy home games left (plus a tough one vs Villa), whether they win the title will come down to whether they can improve that shaky away form.

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3. At this stage of the season it’s all about wins, by whatever means necessary. Arsenal left it very late to beat Hull, but as 7amkickoff pointed out, it was somewhat inevitable given Hull have conceded the most last-minute goals this season while Arsenal have scored the most. Given that Hull were down to ten men after George Boateng’s red card (more on that in a mo) it was no surprise Nicklas Bendtner bundled in a flapped save from Boaz Myhill with 92 minutes on the clock.

It was a fair result all things considered as Wenger’s side were in control for the majority of the game, Hull’s only shot on target coming from Bullard’s penalty that should never have been.

The officiating was particularly poor in this game and helped make it more a struggle then it should have been. Firstly, Vennegor of Hesselink was a clear yard offside when Campbell climbed all over his back and Phil Brown is spouting his usual nonsense if he thinks that was a clear goalscoring opportunity – the only reason the Dutchman was ahead of Sol was because he started offside.

Watch me get you booked.

Secondly, the persistent fouling from Hull was allowed to go on for far too long. Boateng was booked for poking Bendtner in the eye while Bendtner was mysteriously booked for being poked in the eye by Boateng. Odd one that. Dean Marney (I think) somehow escaped a yellow for a filthy sliding tackle on the touchline while Boateng was then sent off for a second yellow after a hatchet job on Sagna’s knee.

Quite how that wasn’t a straight red I’ll never know, but at least he won’t be able to appeal it. Oh and before anyone says he isn’t, Boateng is a bit of a dirty player – this was his second red card in a month. He also got sent off twice on 06/07.

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4. Phil Brown, you can’t say it hasn’t been coming. Perhaps it was time to part ways at the end of last season, with Brown having kept them up (solely because Newcastle were so inept) but having lost the dressing room following that team talk. As it happened Hull persevered with him into this season and the result has been another struggle.

To be fair to Brown he did what he could considering the resources available to him but given there has been more than one long winless run this season the timing of his departure is a little strange. Eight games to go does not leave an awful lot of time for a successor to make their mark but luckily Hull are currently just three points from safety.

Brian Laws Burnley

Cheap.

The interesting thing will be whether they do a Burnley and bring in a cheap Championship level manager in anticipation of relegation or spend that little bit more on someone quality who can keep them up and then push on next season.

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5. Does anyone want 4th spot? Spurs are winning the games they need to for now but I still think it will all unravel when they face the three title challengers in consecutive weeks in April. Man City are too inconsistent under Mancini while Aston Villa are doing their best to throw it away. They in particular have probably the most settled team and experience from last season yet seem reluctant to risk going for victories in tight games. In their last nine they’ve drawn 0-0 four times. Gambling on extra attack to force a win in just two of those games would have yielded more points even if they’d lost the other two. Something to consider going into their last ten.

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6. If Sunderland hadn’t conceded any of their goals in the last-minute, they would be riding high on 41 points and not worrying about relegation. After a start which promised so much, it appears more rebuilding work will be needed in the summer by Steve Bruce.

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Beckham vs Man Utd

16/02/2010

The business end of the Champions League starts this week and one of the best ties will be Man Utd vs Milan and the return of David Beckham to Old Trafford. Perfect excuse for this week’s Guardian Photoshop theme then.

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beckham milan man utd

Ever the faithful lieutenant, the Neviller knew exactly what to do when Sir Alex said 'Give Becks a nice welcome back'.

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Lots more to be found here, it seems everyone likes to have a go when Becks is involved.

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T.

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Archive.

Weekly Photoshop – Old Trafford Injury Time

01/10/2009

Hello once again, it’s Thursday which means it’s time for the weekly Photoshop effort on a topical theme. Following the Manchester derby, this week it was injury time at Old Trafford. Or to put it another way, if Man Utd are losing at home, the game goes on until they win. Simple.

To be fair I had no problem with the amount of stoppage time that had been played against City, but there have been loads of occasions in years gone by where you’ve seen five or six minutes go up and thought “Really?!” With this in mind I went for the following:

The concept of injury time at Old Trafford has always been a rather surreal one. You never know what will happen.

The concept of injury time at Old Trafford has always been a rather surreal one. You never know what will happen.

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Funnier ones here.

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T.

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Archive.

Season Previews 09/10 – Manchester United

13/08/2009

man-utd

Last Season: 1st plus a Carling Cup win, Champions League final and FA Cup semi final.

Say hello to your new teammates: Michael Owen, Gabriel Obertan, Antonio Valencia

Close the door on your way out: Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Frazier Campbell.

Predicted star: Wayne Rooney has it all set up. A central role should be his at last and he’ll now be the key creative outlet following Ronaldo’s departure. He undoubtedly has the talent to score 25 goals in all competitions as well as hand a bucket load of assists, it’s just a question of can it all fall into place.

This is my town now.

This is my town now.

Needs a big year: Antonio Valencia. Mr Ronaldo’s shoes are big ones to fill and Valencia is no 42 goal a season man. Indeed he only got six last season, but he has enough pace and skill to get into double figures at a team like Man United. I think the fact that no one expects him to be as good as Ronaldo means there should be less pressure on him. He has plenty of Premier League experience so should slot right in. I could add Michael Owen to this section too. Everyone seems to have written him off and while he will spend time out injured at points in the season, he will get at least ten goals if not 15 in all comps. For a free transfer you can’t really argue with that.

One to watch: It looks like there’s another crop of talented youngsters coming through the Old Trafford ranks and the likes of Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck, Darron Gibson and the da Silva twins should provide plenty of interest and talking points over the course of 2009/10.

To me, to you.

To me, to you.

What they want to happen: Title number 19 preferably with Liverpool in 2nd again.

Nightmare scenario: Ronaldo’s transfer sees them drop all the way to 4th as they struggle to replace his goals and influence.

Plan A: With C-Ron gone it looks like it will be back a traditional 4-4-2 this year. The defence is solid and picks itself and Evra and Rafael will provide support down the flanks. Carrick will sit and playmake while a variety of options will compete to play alongside him. Valencia will have much less of a free, roaming role compared to Ronaldo and his job will be to feed Rooney and Berbatov with the latter playing further forward.

Plan B, just in case: Bring Owen off the bench and play it into the six yard box.

Predicted finish: 1st.

Why? So how come I think Man Utd will win their fourth straight title despite losing their best player? I’m not entirely sure to be honest and I’ve changed my mind quite a few times whilst writing these previews. The top four will be very tight but I believe Fergie’s men have the most solid base in their defence. A measly 24 goals were conceded last season and this included a record run of thirteen straight clean sheets. If you don’t concede at all in 24 of your games, it puts a lot less pressure on the attack who thus need to find just one goal.

Ronaldo dug them out of many a game but Rooney is capable of providing a similar level where week by week he finds a way of breaking through a stubborn defence. Owen is an interesting gamble and should prove a match winner on several occasions. If you think Tevez only got five league goals last season, then Owen will certainly beat that. As mentioned before, several youngsters were beginning to make a mark last year and Ferguson seems quite happy to go with the three experienced strikers plus Welbeck and Macheda in reserve.

Owen fears a merking.

Owen fears a merking.

Another of United’s great strengths is the ability to beat poor teams with no fuss, home and away. They failed to win just one game against the bottom twelve last year I believe and that was the opening game against Newcastle United. If you think that their record against the other members of the big four could actually be improved then you begin to see why it’s not unfeasible a fourth successive title is on its way.

The chequebook is apparently closed for the summer but I would be surprised if no one came in, though perhaps it won’t be until January. In any case, every year people think Ferguson is finished and Man Utd will step aside for someone else and nearly every year they are proved wrong. I’m happy to tip them for another and as the old adage goes, if you finish ahead of them you’ll probably be Champions yourself.

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T.

Weekly Photoshop – Howard Webb

25/06/2009

Egypt’s favourite referee this week. Howard Webb made a bit of a boo boo in the Confederations Cup game between Brazil and Egypt last week. Late in the game Webb gave Brazil a corner before changing his mind to a penalty having consulted his linesman looked at a replay on a TV monitor (it was a handball to be fair). Kaka converted it for Brazil to win 4-3 leaving Egypt not very happy. Another team/manager he’s managed to annoy joining Harry Redknapp, Poland and Fergie.

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Another big game, another poor mistake. Howard always does it his way...

Another big game, another poor mistake. Howard always does it his way...

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The rest can be found here, including a rather similar idea to mine (which has usurped it it seems)…

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T.

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Older stuff here.

Seven To Replace Number Seven

18/06/2009

Right, there was only so long I could keep the Spurs badge as the first thing you see when reach the blog – time for some new posts. Since we last wrote, it seems the great primadonna himself is on his way to Real Madrid for the princely sum of £80 million.

Ronaldo practices his amateur theatrics...

Ronaldo practices his amateur theatrics...

Just who will Man Utd buy to replace the tantrums, the diving, the stepovers and the occasional 40 goal seasons? Let’s take a look at some potential replacements.

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1. Antonio Valencia – Wigan – £14-18million

Valencia

Valencia

Last season: League – 31 games/3 goals.

This is the most likely deal to go through just due to who the selling club are. Valencia has impressed at the JJB though perhaps doesn’t yet score enough (or indeed assist with only five last season). It appears some move have already been made to sign him but if I’m honest I’m not sure he’s good enough for a team like Man Utd. He is only 23 so has plenty of time to improve but Wigan will have done very good business if they get £18m for him.

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2. Karim Benzema – Lyon – £30million+

Benzema

Benzema

Last season: League – 36 games/17 goals. Champions League – 8 games/5 goals.

The highest rated French player still playing in Ligue 1. Benzema has scored 54 goals in the past two years and would be a great addition up front. Pacy, strong, good with both left and right foot as well as decent in the air, he could add the pace that has been lacking from Utd’s forward line in the past few years. He’s still only 21 so has yet to completely fulfil his potential. I could see him forming a terrific partnership with Rooney or indeed Berbatov and he could well follow in the footsteps of Utd’s last great French number 7. Needless to say, Lyon chairman Aulas would drive a hard bargain as usual.

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3. Sergio Aguero – Atletico Madrid – £40million+

Aguero

Aguero

Last season: League – 37 games/17 goals. Champions League – 8 games/3 goals.

The youngest player to ever play in the Argentinian league, Aguero has starred for Atletico in the past two years. Maradona’s son in law has formed a great partnership with ex-Utd striker Diego Forlan and is capable of plenty of assists to go with his goals. At 5’7″ he probably lacks the power that Ronaldo brought to the side and he make take time to adapt to English football but he has the ability to produce the unexpected. Still only 21, his age couple with his buy out clause means it would take big money to prize him from the Vicente Calderon.

4. David Silva – Valencia – £20million

Silva

Silva

Last season: League – 19 games/4 goals. UEFA Cup – 3 games/1 goal.

Silva is a less obvious choice and may be someone to target if Valencia isn’t signed. A diminutive winger/number 10, he was an important player in Spain’s Euro 2008 win before ankle ligament damage meant a truncated 2008/09 season. Tricky and creative with a sweet left foot, aged 23 he can still improve. He is another who maybe too slight for the Premier League but at the same time if Rafa Benitez is after him, why shouldn’t Fergie try and gazump him. One of the cheaper potential targets too, given Valencia’s financial troubles.

5. David Villa – Valencia – £35 million

Villa

Villa

Last season: League – 33 games/28 goals. UEFA Cup – 5 games/1 goal.

The most coveted striker in Europe at the moment having had his best season yet for Valencia whilst also still basking in the glory of being top scorer in Euro 2008. Strong, powerful and pacy, Villa is a complete striker at a peak age (27). Competition will be fierce in the race to sign him and to be honest it would be a surprise if he went anywhere other than Real Madrid.

6. Arjen Robben – Real Madrid – £7-20million.

Robben

Robben

Last season: League – 29 games/7 goals. Champions League – 6 games/1 goal.

A bit of curveball this in light of his injury record but there’s no doubting Robben’s ability when he’s fit. A pacy, direct winger with the ability to go past a man, Robben has always been susceptible to injury but the plus side is that he has Premier League experience with Chelsea. For two years he was a key player in their title winning sides, before Mourinho got fed up with him missing games. Fergie wanted to sign him before he went to Chelsea so what price a cheeky bid now. Still young (25) even though he looks 35 and his price should be relatively cheap given Real’s clearout of all things Dutch.

7. Franck Ribery – Bayern Munich – £50million+

Ribery

Ribery

Last season: League  – 25 games/9 goals. Europe – 8 games/4 goals.

The best player in the Bundesliga and one of the best players in the world. This is the man I think would be able to replace Ronaldo most in terms of goals, determination and overall impact. He can play both left and right as well as behind a striker and has ferocious striking ability, not least from distance. With the fees that Kaka and Ronaldo have gone for his price tag will be big, though if reports are to be believed he already may be too old for United. To be honest I think he’s still worth pursuing, just as out of all the suggested targets he is the one most at his peak. A big game player for a club who have plenty of big games.

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T.

End of Season Reviews – Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Middlesbrough

09/06/2009

Liverpool

liverpool
Where they finished: 2nd

Season in five words: Home draws cost the title

Successful season? Yes, for the first time a serious title challenge to Man Utd was mounted. Consistent, difficult to beat and in Torres and Gerrard, a lethal front two. Ultimately there were too many draws against lower opposition and considering Liverpool did the double over United, they will be disappointed to have finished behind them.

Defining moment: Rafa’s rant perhaps? Whether or not he was right is besides the issue. The draws and poor form that followed are what cost Liverpool the league. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

Player of the year: Steven Gerrard is the obvious choice but credit must be given to Xabi Alonso too. Dirk Kuyt has suddenly turned into a key player with his best season since joining.

Goal of the season: Torres vs Blackburn.

Flop of the season: Dossena was another addition to the long list of left backs who have flopped at Anfield. A bit fat and a bit slow. He did score great goals against Man Utd and Real Madrid though. Ryan Babel hasn’t lived up to expectation, or even come close to doing so.

Highlight: The destruction of Real Madrid was impressive (if not surprising) and having a real go at Chelsea in the Champions quarter final second leg was entertaining (if ultimately doomed). They ended Chelsea’s long unbeaten home league record too. There can only be one choice though and that’s the 4-1 spanking of Man Utd at Old Trafford.

Summer homework: Keep Gerrard but specifically Torres fit and playing together. Don’t sell Alonso, buy a striker, a left winger and possibly a left back too.

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Man City

man-city
Where they finished: 10th

Season in five words: Big spending but poor results.

Successful season? Not really. Expectation was high after a summer takeover and there was enough time to splash a British record fee on Robinho from Real Madrid. Mark Hughes’ side were pretty poor however and for much of the season were towards the bottom of the table. Though recovery was made, via more big money January signings, City won’t be playing European football next year. Domestic cup exits were made to lower league opposition and most of the season was a case of win at home, lose away.

Defining moment: Towards the midnight deadline for summer signings, City announce the signing of Robinho for £32.5million. Having been rejected by Berbatov, with his signing the Abu Dhabi owners announced they meant business. The flip side of this was paying £17million for Nigel De Jong in January when he could have been bought for £2million this summer.

Player of the year: Stephen Ireland. The shaven headed maestro was one of the few highlights of a Jekyll and Hyde season at Eastlands. Robinho has shown enough in his debut season (at home at least) to suggest he could get 20 goals next year.

Goal of the season: Robinho’s lob vs Arsenal.

Flop of the season: Dunne and Richards. The former looked slow and prone to mistakes while the latter seems to care more about his physique (ironic given his fat arse) than his positional sense. Oh and Robinho away from home.

Highlight: A 3-0 win over Arsenal was quite impressive in November, as was an early 6-0 battering of Pompey.

Summer homework: Sign a good strike partner for Robinho, get Petrov, Dunne and Richards playing like they did in 2007/08, buy a left back better than Wayne Bridge. Quality not quantity (see strikers).

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Man Utd

man-utd

Where they finished: 1st, Champions League finalists and Carling Cup Winners.

Season in five words: Liverpool equalled, outclassed by Barcelona.

Successful season? Yes. Their record equalling 18th league title was won unconvincingly but at the same time without too much trouble. Liverpool tried hard but didn’t have the experience of closing it out. A record run of clean sheets built up enough of an advantage to concentrate on Europe. Though they reached the final again, Barcelona taught them a footballing lesson in Rome. They won the Carling Cup too.

Defining moment: Macheda against Aston Villa perhaps? The day before Liverpool had grabbed a vital last minute win over Fulham to go top so momentum was with them. United played poorly and were losing 2-1 before staging a comeback in the last 10 minutes. In the last minute 17 year old debutant Federico Macheda, controlled, turned and hit a great winner past Brad Friedel. Momentum restored to United, league title heads to Old Trafford.

Player of the year: Nemanja Vidic was great until the spring and undoubtedly lay the foundations for the record breaking defence. He got found out by some nimble strikers towards the end but overall was excellent. Wayne Rooney had a great season, and Fletcher has pretty much established himself as first choice central midfielder.

Goal of the season: Cristiano Ronaldo’s 40 yard toe punt against Porto.

Flop of the season: Flops in a title winning side? No one really. Berbatov gets another season to prove that he can fit into Utd’s style of play. He hasn’t flopped but he hasn’t impressed that much. Nani is beginning to look like a lost cause though. Van der Sar will be doing well to still be first choice come 2010.

Highlight: Equalling Liverpool’s title record is an overall highlight. Outclassing Arsenal at the Emirates in Europe and Macheda’s goal against Villa were particular highlights.

Summer homework: Make a decision on Carlos Tevez and sign a pacey replacement if he goes. Get Hargreaves fit and playing in the big games.

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Middlesbrough

middlesbrough

Where they finished: 19th

Season in five words: Lack of goals means relegation.

Successful season? No. Despite all the mocking of Schteve McLaren, he usually had Boro pushing the top half and in a cup final or two. Gareth Southgate has taken them further down the table with each passing season. Boro’s problem was selling their best players and not replacing them, and not having anyone capable of scoring on a consistent basis. England’s best left winger™Stewart Downing had a miserable season scoring zero goals, while the less said about Alves and Aliadiere the better.

Defining moment: Losing Mark Schwarzer to Fulham last summer. A big reason why Fulham went from 17th to 7th this year while Boro went down.

Player of the year: Erm, Tuncay was the one highlight suppose. He reminded me of Juninho a few years back where he was the only one trying to keep them up but no one else was good enough/cared enough to help.

Goal of the season: Not hard to choose given there have been so few. Tuncay’s bicycle kick late in the season against Villa wins it.

Flop of the season: When you pay £12 million for someone you exect more than six league goals in return this season. Southgate will be judged by his transfer deals and Alves will go down as one of his biggest errors. Playing Brad Jones over Ross Turnbull in key end of season games was a stupid idea too. Jones is incredibly useless. Terrible hair too.

Highlight: A 2-0 win over Liverpool of all people in February.

Summer homework: Get rid of players who don’t want to be there, sign someone who can score goals in the Championship. Try and get £15 million for Downing from Spurs even though he’s injured.

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T.


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