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2011/12 Premier League Preview Part 2

The second part of my 2011/12 season preview will focus solely on Manchester United and the likelihood of success in the EPL and ECL.  I briefly went through the top five or six teams in part one and have predicted that City would finish second, Liverpool third, Arsenal fourth and Chelsea and Spurs fighting it out for fifth.  Obviously nothing is written in stone and injuries, bad luck and poor player form could derail the best of teams, but I do believe that when one looks at things closely enough, Manchester United are not only better than last years club, they look capable of running away with it.

After the top six teams, the league is overflowing with talentless clubs loaded with rubbish players and managers (excluding Brucey and a few others) and determined to bore us to death with their perpetual and terminal strategy of parking the bus and long direct ball-itis.  They aren’t even worth writing a few lines about.

United have gone through a lot of turmoil and dishonest management over the years but thanks to Fergie, they remain a threat on the pitch and fully committed to owning the English Premier League (with the best premier league betting odds).  Last year they played average if not disappointing football and still won the league by nine points.  This year they add three great young players and possibly more to come and only seem better than they were a year ago.

Yes City bought Aguero and Clichy and are loaded with talent but they still do not have the belief, consistency and experience to really wrestle the title from us unless we suffer from some crippling injuries to major players of our starting eleven.  Obviously losing a Rooney a Nani or a Chicharito for an extended time could derail our hopes because these players are vital to our success.  However, all teams suffer injuries. What we can almost guarantee is that our manager will rotate accordingly, keep players fresh, focused and determined while never allowing complacency, arrogance and over confidence to dent the squads chances of a repeat.

Unlike City, United are a team and not eleven individuals trying to be a team.  We have no cancers on our team like a Balotelli or Tevez who seem only interested in what concerns them with little regard for the team and community they represent.  United may be going through Hell because of their present ownership but as long as Fergie is running the ship, expect the team to dominate the league despite having some key weaknesses and question marks.  At the end of the day

The differences between Manchester United and Manchester City are class and pedigree.

So if we are to win another EPL title, what are the concerns or weaknesses the club have to fix?  Well, to be honest, in order to win the EPL for a twentieth time, the reality of the situation dictates that United really do not have to do much in order guarantee success.  More of the same is required.  Do we need to upgrade our central midfield play by buying a player or two in order for victory to be ensured?  No, not if winning the EPL title and domestic cups are our only concerns.  Frankly, we are good enough as is.  But yes, we must address that major weak point to the club when it comes to winning in Europe.  Right now we are good enough to possibly make the semi-finals and even the final with lucky draws but are we better than Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?  My feeling is we aren’t.

Possibly Bayern can be beaten although with Neuer in goal for them, that has become more difficult than it was last season or two years ago when we somehow found a way to lose to them.  But Barca and Madrid are an entirely different kettle of fish.  These are not clubs, they are all star teams, juggernauts and so laced with star appeal and potential as well as exceptional coaching that I honestly do not feel we have a hope in Hell of presently beating them in meaningful cup ties.

Forget the just played exhibition match in Washington where we hardly saw the ball all evening against a weakened Barca but still found a way to beat them.  Hell, Chivas beat them 4-1 the other day.  Meaningless games say nothing.  European Cup Finals say it all.  And for me United are as good as their last game played in Europe.  That I believe was a 1-3 humiliation at the feet of the Mighty Barcelona.  Not a lesson was learned from three years ago and not a player changed in the midfield to ensure us a better outcome.  For us to beat Barcelona when it matters, we must ensure that Xavi and Iniesta do not have time on the ball and when our midfield has the ball, they actually hold on to it and do something with it.  That is why we need not one but two central midfielders of world class caliber.

All the talk lately has been about Wesley Sneijder and whether he is or isn’t what we need?  I say he is part one of a three part plan in beating the Spanish giants.  Part two is finding a world class holding midfielder or box to box player who can control Barca’s duo as well as instigate a strong counter.  For me Modric or Schweinsteiger are obvious choices but unavailable ones.  Sneijder paired with either Carrick or Fletcher is an improvement but not the solution.  Unlike many, I have faith that Sneijder can come over here and adapt to our style despite being more suited to a Mourinhoesque 4-2-3-1.  Fact is this player isn’t world class because he isn’t adaptable.  I’ve seen him play across the midfield for Ajax, Holland and Inter and he is versatile.  Hell he’s Dutch and technical skill and versatility are part of the Dutch DNA.

Sneijder will not woo us with his defensive game but then again, neither did Paul Scholes and both Xavi and Iniesta are not world class due to their defensive capabilities.  What Sneijder can do is help us instigate counters, offer up world class balls to our strikers, score the odd goal himself and really upgrade our set piece potential.  That alone improves our chance against Barca but smothering Xavi and Iniesta still needs to be Plan A.  Only an in your face physical and speedy midfielder like a Roy Keane type can really do that job.  Good luck finding him I say.  The third part of the plan is Fergie needs to upgrade his coaching staff and or at least his strategy and tactics for facing these types of teams. Not easy when you are a frugal and stubborn old Scotsman.  We need to forget about 4-4-2 in Europe as well, we need to abolish that awful sagging back zone defense that gives away possession and the midfield to skilful players.

United should win an unprecedented twentieth EPL title this year because they are the best team with the deepest roster and best manager in England.  Of this I have no doubts unless we lose Rooney or a few others due to injury, then all bets are off.  How we do in Europe really depends on whom we sign, if we sign anyone before the deadline. Let me emphasize the fact that a Sneijder and Carrick midfield will not be good enough.  Sneijder and either Modric or Schweinsteiger would put us on par with the Catalans but then again, I cannot see us dishing out 75 million to get Sneijder and either of those two players.  So until we do, expect a repeat of what happened last year, but with a little more youth and vigor to our side.

De Gea will be good but will he be an instant hit?  I don’t think so.  Jones will be as good as Smalling but right now neither of those two are on the same level as Rio and Vidic and so a healthy Rio will help us go far.  Nani, Valencia, Young and Park will give us quality and depth on the wings and our forwards are top class and go six deep.  For me LB is a concern because one would have to be wearing blinkers not to notice how poor Evra was last year.  Anderson has improved but still, he is not the answer in midfield and neither is Carrick, Fletcher, Cleverley, Gibson or Giggsy.  A solution must be found.

Yes we will win the EPL and we might even have a chance at the Carling Cup or FA Cup to ensure us a Double, but that is where it ends.  That would be more than adequate for most but for myself, only beating Barcelona in Europe matters and until that is done, I will consider the job incomplete and my hopes ruined, although I must say, smoking Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Arsenal this season would certainly help.




  1. [OPTI]Madschester United

    August 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Optimism veiled by European realism… refreshing, Grognard (or are you now Van?)

    A two-legged tie against Barca or Madrid would give us 40/60 chances. A final would give us 25/75 chances…

    With Sneijder those chances improve to 50/50 and 40/60, respectively, in my humble opinion, because add another dimension to our midfield.


  2. Moscow is my heaven

    August 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    ‘Can we beat Bayern Munich?’

    I think the answer would be an emphatic YES Groggy! 😀

    • Traverse

      August 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      With flippy flappy Neuer in goal, of course!

      • jos

        August 10, 2011 at 1:49 pm

        Saw him make the exact same mistake last year also when he played in Schalke colors (I think that was either some cup final or Bundesliga’s equivalent of charity shield. Schalke lost that game by 2 goals, both Neuer errors). I think it was against Bayern.

        So even God can make mistakes.

      • Moscow is my heaven

        August 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

        Ouch, that won’t go down too well with Van 😆

    • jos

      August 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Who are Bayern Munich by the way ? 😈 😈 😈

      Manchester United do not fear anything or anyone. I say bring on your Barcas or Reals. We are ready for the fight.

      • Traverse

        August 10, 2011 at 1:56 pm

        Real don’t bother me at all. Bayern cheated their way past us and rightfully got their shit handed to them in the final. We should have won the Champions League that season. That was our big missed chance, not the games against Barcelona. Barca are an exceptional case, but over two legs are completely beatable. Arsenal were cheated out of that this season. We’ve done it before.

  3. Traverse

    August 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I’m hearing that a figure of £32m has been agreed with Inter Milan. It’s now all down to contract. If Sneijder doesn’t sign it is because he wants dumb money. Players like Obertan have been let go to free up extra in our wage budget. We’ve got one of the best wage structures in Europe, and I think the lowest Wages/Income percentage in top flight world football.

    Milan couldn’t turn that down, but hope that Sneijder decides to turn down our contract offer. City matched the bid but Sneijder has no interest in going there, and wont meet with them. Expect Nasri to happen for City before the week is out.

    • Moscow is my heaven

      August 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm


    • 20LEgend

      August 10, 2011 at 11:21 pm

      Respect to Wesley for turning down City (if this is true)…

  4. Stephen

    August 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    We aren’t better than Bayern 😯 Come on Grog take off the German tinted glasses, I have heard it all now. 😆 😆

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      Does he say beyern are better than us?

  5. Jay wire

    August 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    i don’t think Grognard wrote this article.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm

      Too positive?
      Munich comments seems planted too 🙂

  6. RMJ

    August 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I dont necessarily get the Schweinsteiger link to address our box to Box needs…he is indeed is an aggressive attacking midfielder but reminds me too much of gerrard defensively where he tends to loose focus a few times especially last season in some big games (albeit the few bayern games which I saw) …i think Moussa Sissoko at Toulouse is a far better alternative..

    in otehr news..has Kuzzy and Gibson offloaded yet? We will need to offload them to make room for Sneijder

  7. Jay wire

    August 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    @.OPTI-from previous thread.

    I don’t really see how we have been playing a different system. I think we have improved on it. The passing and movement has vastly improved. From February, we have been playing with Rooney deep as something of a false 9. That’s how he’s been playing in preseason. Nani is still playing, primarily wide and still cutting in. The difference is we seem to have rectified the weaknesses eg not pressing consistently, predictable and functional movement. Also the introduction of both Welbeck and Cleverly has resulted in a different look. But the system is pretty much the same. Look at the Blackburn game last season and the Community Shield on Sunday. Exactly the same.

    Also, Sneijder will not play the Rooney role. He’s a “high line” playmaker. He’ll be invading Wayne’s territory. He isn’t the typical attacking midfielder like say Kaka, he is like the mirror of Alonso in the attacking third. But the issue is Rooney loves to drop deep and to be honest, that’s his best role. So Rooney is a “deep forward”, Sneijder is a “high midfielder”. Effectively, they operate naturally in the same territory. Almost duplicating roles(creating chances). This can lead 2 confusion like with Berba in his debut.

    To avoid this and still play the 2 man central mid, either of 2 things will happen. One, Sneijder will have 2 play deep, a role he has not been good at. This is actually the reason the new Inter coach doesn’t want him. His preferred system means sneijder has to play deeper and there are real worries in Italy, that he won’t be able to do that. Two, we could play Rooney further up as a goal getter. This means we’ll have 2 forwards high up with WS in his preferred trequartista role, just behind the forwards. This means we DEFINITELY need a holding midfielder sitting very deep in front of the defence. And there’s noone else besides Carrick who can do that. Either option demands Carrick. So say he gets injured long term, we’ll be screwed. It also means regardless, we are going to have a serious compromise in roles, systems and selections. Any angle you look at it, major adjustments are necessary. There’s no going round it.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 10, 2011 at 4:53 pm

      So Sneijder would give us an added dimension and unpredictability by allowing us to play with Rooney in the hole (without Sneijder) and with Rooney up front (with Sneijder)…. that seems good, no?

    • Tevez

      August 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Playing two strikers and Sneijder as a trequartista isn’t really feasible because it means a diamond midfield and would waste all the wingers in the squad and because we’ve never played without wide men. Playing these three as well as wide men on either side is a horribly naive way to line up and would see the team exploited constantly.

      • gator

        August 10, 2011 at 7:38 pm

        Not without a beast cdm at least.

        • Tevez

          August 10, 2011 at 8:24 pm

          No defensive midfielder could plug the gaps in that team, the midfield is just too open.

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      @Jay wire, all reason i am glad we are not going to spend over 80 million on a contract for Sneijder, Fergie must have some thing up his sleeve

  8. colver

    August 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Jay Wire this is the reader friendly Grognard version 2.

    Agree we are better than Bayern but there is no room for complacency.

    Our best chance is still that someone else knocks out Barcelona because we are just not good enough defensively as a team. Sneijder would improve our ball possession and make us more dangerous on the counter attack against them but we are desperately short of genuine defensive midfielders capable of denying Barcelona space and preventing them from picking out the killer passes. Carrick has shown time and time again that he is not capable of that and while it would be nice to play Fletcher against Barcelona for a change I am still not sure he would be capable of doing a job against them.

    Still I wouldn’t mind taking on Barcelona with the following line up:

    De Gea-Jones, Rio, Vidic, Fabio-Fletcher, Sneijder, Anderson-Young, Rooney, Nani

    Fletcher and Anderson can go for the hustle and Sneijder can ensure the front three get a great service so can cause maximum damage on the counter attack. Hernandez does not start because he cannot hold up the ball and Barcelona are too smart and will catch him on the offside trap more often than not. Besides everyone knows 4-4-2 is suicide against Barcelona. Well except Ferguson that is!

    • Tevez

      August 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      4-4-2 isn’t necessarily suicide if you have the right players. It still allows for two banks of four which, if well-drilled, can be difficult to break down. The problem is you concede the midfield so for it to have any chance of working the team would have to defend extremely deep and narrow – similar to how Inter did when they went down to ten men and progressed. Barcelona would have so much of the ball but as long as the score is even that’s alright. They would have periods of sustained possession and pressure so players would be in advanced positions – Busquets would be looking to get on the ball and both fullbacks would be high up the pitch, leaving two on two if your team is bold enough to leave the two strikers high up the park. Four midfielders who are extremely disciplined positionally as well as being physically competent are required, with the two banks of four being supremely organised as a whole. The two strikers would have to be high quality, dynamic, explosive players to have any chance of making an impact on the game. It can work though if you have all the right tools.

  9. Jay wire

    August 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    On the article, I have to disagree on many issues. Why is City predicted to come 2nd? They’ll be fortunate to achieve that. Chelsea remain the main threat and for them to be forecast for a duel with Spurs for fifth, is a bit misguided. And Liverpool 3rd? I don’t know. It’s going to be a big ask. Arsenal will still make the top 4 and will probably lead the log at some point before their mandatory collapse. City have no chance really of second. I suspect a more disappointing season from them in if league. I mean who in their right mind will sign a fool like Balotelli? There’s absolutely no character or unity in that team. Long may it continue.

    But it’s Chelsea that I’m worried about. They are not being considered much, but they are the team that made the most important acquisition. They got one of today’s most innovative young coaches. I have no doubt that technically they’ll be head and shoulders above everyone and given how he’s been there before as an understudy to Mourinho, settling is not going to be an issue. Very innovative and demands efficiency from his players. Believes in fast, free flowing football and pressing high up. I’m of the opinion they will pose a serious threat.

    But my biggest regret is we failed to compensate for Hargreaves. Let’s not forget that Carrick is only playing a holding role because of the unplanned disappointment of Hargo. It’s good that he has been a success in that role, but what of his cover. He’s been playing nearly every single game since his debut and I think we should have looked seriously into alternatives. If Carrick gets injured we are royally screwed. Without him I see a big problem in consistency and balance. Particularly in Europe.

    • Stephen

      August 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm

      Jay, I agree with that. Liverpool will not finish in the top 4 as they have failed to address the obvious weakness the defence. City will compete but Chelsea will run us very hard again, they are hungry. Arsenal will interesting, if they buy Cahill or Dann and a midfeild player they will be in the top 4.

      • RedTan

        August 12, 2011 at 10:58 am

        Agree, us , Chelseas and the massives to fight it out for top spot come May. Arsenal, spurs and Liverpoll in the mix for 4th spot

        The improved state of other clubs will mean a low points total for the champions. Probably around 80 to 85

  10. Owen

    August 10, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Once Huntelaar was also the best player in world …. 😯

    • RMJ

      August 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm

      he was according to Grog 👿

      • RedTan

        August 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm

        lol @ Huntelaar

  11. [OPTI]Madschester United

    August 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I thought we sold Bebe… but he is just loaned to Besiktas. Either way, the poor kid tore ligament in the knee and according to BBC:
    “Manchester United’s on-loan winger Bebe is sidelined for around six months after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Turkish club have announced” 🙁

    Get well soon, BEBE!

    • Stephen

      August 10, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      Yes get well soon, find some relative form and sign for them on a permanant basis, please do not darken our door again.

  12. Grognard

    August 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    It has just occurred to me that trying to keep my silence and my distance on this blog while writing articles for it may be an impossible chore unless I am able to address some of the criticisms or questions that arise in a friendly and not offensive manner.

    Therefore I have decided to occasionally offer up a post that addresses many of the questions and gripes some of you have regarding my comments per article written. Lets just consider it an article within an article and I will not respond to anyone’s comments after I have posted it. It is there just for clarification. I do not mind if people disagree with my comments but I do mind if my comments are misinterpreted or even worse, used for fabrication or to sling insults.

    For example, somebody claimed that I once said Huntelaar was the best player in the world. Total rubbish. I loved the guy and still do and feel he is a great natural old school striker that is unfortunately too old school for many team’s style of play. At one point I did feel he was one of the best strikers in the game.

    As for my predictions regarding United playing Bayern or Madrid, I stick by those unless Wesley Sneijder signs. Sneijder has the raw skill and pedigree to improve as a team by a considerable amount and his difference in our midfield would give both those clubs fits. Can we beat Barca with him? Yes but as Colver so wisely put it, the need for a defensive midfielder to keep Barca’s Dynamic duo from owning the midfield and doing their damage still needs to be addressed and nobody on this club is good enough to make sure that happens. Perhaps a 100% healthy Fletcher teamed with Sneijder and another midfielder like Cleverley or Anderson (yes your eyes are not deceiving you) might be able to pull it off because the presence and threat of Sneijder’s vision and distribution may force Barca to be a little more defensive minded and cautious rather than laying out their entire arsenal in a full out blitzkrieg like the past two finals.

    Cleverley and Sneijder make a major difference to our midfield. I am unashamed in saying that I have already jumped on the Cleverley bandwagon and I see a young Scholes in him without the constant back passes. Sneijder would bring that world class touch and delivery to our midfield which for me would be enough to beat both Bayern and Madrid. Make no mistake about it, regardless of personal bias and the obvious dislike and bitterness by many of you for Bayern, they are formidable outfit with 6 world class players in their starting line up while Madrid has as many if not more. Adding a Sneijder would really help a great deal.

    Now let me say a few things about Neuer. Yes he had a supreme screw up this past weekend and it hurt his team greatly but the fact remains he is one of the top three keepers in the world (for me he is #2 behind Casillas who also generally has a few clankers over a season) and the reigning German Player of the Year. He is human and he does make the odd mental mistake as do all keepers. Physically and technically though he is superb and there is no doubt in my mind he would never had allowed that cross to reach the head of Lescott and would EASILY have parried that shot by Dzeko. And that has nothing to do with me holding on bitterly to the fact we never went after him. I know he had chosen to stay in Germany and I am fine with that. Also, this does not mean I am down on De Gea. I am not. Time will be given to this lad to prove that he is closer to Schmeichel than he is to Ben Foster. A lot of pressure in your first game in England and I’m sure he was nervous and tentative. For now, all is forgiven.

    Now regarding my predictions. JayWire especially seems to think I’m full of it and all I can say is that I am willing to wait and see what the season tells us. I bet he is already regretting his comments about Arsenal as they look destined for 5th or even worse as it looks certain that Fabregas and Nasri will be gone. No way does that team finish in the top four without at least one of them. Chelsea is still feared by many and maybe they should be based on history, reputation and pedigree but age is a major modifier and dissension has yet to rear it’s ugly head as it seems to do every year at Stamford Bridge. A new manager is one thing, while a miracle worker is another. Unless Chelsea makes a few significant signings before the deadline to freshen up things, I cannot see how the club from last season is going to be that much better when others around them have made significant changes and improvements and they have done nothing. If they were to sign Modric then I would change my views.

    City is to be feared regardless of the influence good or bad of Balotelli. Mancini is a very competent manager and lets face it, the club has loads of talent and depth. I do believe they will get their act together and finish second. Liverpool is also improved but their back four still does nothing for me and although they will score a lot of goals, defense will be their undoing when it comes to being a title challenger. I predicted United would win and I stick to it and with even more confidence. Adding Sneijder and playing Cleverley as much as possible will guarantee it. Somehow though, I think they still need to make a decision on Berbatov but perhaps that will wait until the winter transfer window as there may be concerns about Chicharito and this strange but serious concussion he suffered.

    I hope that clarifies some of my earlier comments and helps many of you better understand my mindset. I may not always be right and I am definitely controversial but the fact is at least I have the courage of my convictions and am willing to share them with all of you. Nobody’s perfect but at least I am trying. Now l just hope we have football in England some time in the near future.


    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm

      You’re a little too serious now, since you moved into “management” 😀

      And are you to be referred to as “Van”, “Van Wilson”, or “Grognard/Groggy/G’snizzle”? 🙂

      • RedDevilEddy

        August 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm


      • Grognard

        August 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm

        Actually mate, I was always serious. And my real name was offered by accident. I’m still Grognard or Groggy to all of you although calling me by my real name is fine too. Cheers.

        • RedDevilEddy

          August 10, 2011 at 8:19 pm

          Can I call you Van Der Wilson? Or just Wonder Wilson? 🙂

        • RMJ

          August 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm

          van “Wilder” wilson…perhaps :mrgreen:

          gud to see u live’n’kickin’ grog…but me thinks u r starting to become too sensitive about criticism on da blog mate

    • Lars

      August 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      Welcome back Groggy…you are such a tease!! (unfortunately there is not a kissy-face emoticon to insert here)

      • RedDevilEddy

        August 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm

        Yes there is: 😳

        That’s how I kiss 😆

    • Stephen

      August 10, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      You and Scholes back passes is a falacy and somewhat odd. When the Ginger Prince was 21, the same age as Cleverley mate he was too busy sticking 14 goals for us that season, not back passing.

    • johnsom33

      August 11, 2011 at 12:51 am

      I still think your delusional when talking about Bayern. That team simply isnt on our level. Barcelona are the best and we are second, Real Madrid is the only other club that is actually on our level.

  13. RedDevilEddy

    August 10, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I just love the rain! I wish I lived in Manchester 😐

  14. naomi pepah

    August 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Love MU so muuch especially Jonathan Evans the best bek player ever!

  15. Jay wire

    August 10, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Quite frankly you need to take a more mature, non paranoid way of viewing things and responding. Number 1, I didn’t even know it was you who had written the article. The author initially was presented as Ian, but I think it was then rectified a few moments ago. Don’t take everything so personally. And if I or anyone should disagree with your opinions, it’s because we disagree with your opinion. Not to mock or for personal vendettas. I don’t agree with your season predictions because I’m not you, not because I think you’re “full of it”.

    • Grognard

      August 10, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      I wasn’t being sensitive. I just wanted to clear up misconceptions and fallacies. As for being too sensitive, that’s me and it’s my cross to bare. I do not respond and am staying away from debates so that I can give guys like you a break and allow you to molest and criticize my efforts without reacting the way I normally would like to. So don’t kick a gift horse in the mouth or would you prefer the old JayWire kicking Grognard back? 😀

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

      Last time i asked the poster to show some maturity I got a ban. Please bring back the old article writers this blog is sliding

  16. 20LEgend

    August 10, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Good article Grogy…its good to have you back…

    I agree that Sneijder will definately add an extra dimension to our midfield, but we definately need another midfield enforcer. In a 4-4-2, Sniejder will most likely play with Carrick. While I agree with a number of posters that this formation, in theory, leaves us exposed, having Sneijder in there will also mean that we will hold possession better.

    I will use the 07/08 season as a reference…we had Scholes and Carrick in midfield, generally played with 2 upfront, and we two wings (Ron + Giggs). The key difference was that we held posssesion really well. Now, Sneijder is not going to play as deep as Scholesy did, but I think Carrick will play deeper than he did that season.

    In terms of beating Barca, I don’t think this can be done with a 4-4-2. We will need to play a 4-3-3, or some variation of it.

  17. [OPTI]Madschester United

    August 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

    why was the redrants fantasy league taken down?

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      I’m in!

  18. [OPTI]Madschester United

    August 11, 2011 at 10:11 am

    This is the best I have read on the so-called Wesley Sneijder transfer Saga: Part Deux.
    😆 😆

    • Lars

      August 11, 2011 at 10:27 am

      The transfer window is a fickle whore…It needs to be open for TWO weeks, that way I won’t have my heart toyed with and every deal would be done in a timely fashion. Hopefully Sneijder will make up his mind for good and either sign or not sign; I can live with either option.

      In other transfer news:
      Cesc to Barca (~£35M) and Nasri to City (~£23M) are pretty much done deals. Supposedly most of this ~£60m will be reinvested in the squad…Which in Wenger terms means buying French associated, no-name, pre-teens (or Tijuana crack-whore look-alikes [Gervinho]). Out of spite he should also play Nasri and Cesc in the Champions League tie against Udinese.

  19. jos

    August 11, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Now this should incite some “healthy discussion” here:

    Charlton himself narrowly missed out on becoming Manchester United’s All-Time Players’ Player in a vote including nearly 30 legendary players in the book ’19’.

    The result will shock many as Bryan Robson came out ahead of Charlton, George Best and Eric Cantona, while current world class superstars Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo hardly merited many votes at all as the United greats tended to vote for players who had immense influence off the field as well as on it.

    Mind it…. Its Manchester United “Players player of all time”!

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

      Makes sense that Ronaldo and Rooney are not in there, since their careers (a return?) are not complete yet.

      Don’t judge a stone until it lands.

  20. Jay wire

    August 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Tevez. I agree that 4-4-2 is not suicidal against Barca. In fact any formation works because at the end of the day it’s still 11 v 11. Formations are just structures or frameworks within which tactics are employed, so it will work if we play it right.

    My take is really different from yours(which though defensive, works). What we need is something akin to a 4-4-1-1 with Rooney behind Hernandez. Barca’s main play is based on utilising space and particularly through the middle. They train in crowded space(sometimes placing objects within a 6 by 6 area) to master ball control and passing in tight spaces. That’s why they can easily pass to a double marked player right in midfield and still get away with it. So they tend to all concentrate in a very small space, Iniesta,Xavi,Messi and Busquets, all in the middle,effectively outnumbering the opposition in midfield, regardless of formation. They tend to get very narrow like that. The fullbacks offer the width and that’s why you’ll find Alves suddenly in acres of space out wide.

    That’s how they play. So if we employ a 4-4-1-1 , when not in possession Wayne drops deep to add to the midfield and pressures Busquets, Anderson picks out Xavi,and Nani/Valencia moves in field and marks Iniesta. Carrick, keeps an eye on Messi’s runs. Young on the left, moves further up in anticipation of a break. But also to press the defenders.

    And this is the key to everything. Pressing high. We’ll need at least 3 players pressing their defensive middle zone i.e Pique-Puyol-Busquets. So that’s a deep Rooney pressing Busquets, Young advanced pressing .Pique and Hernandez harrassing Puyol. And with a highly mobile duo of Anderson and Nani/Valencia sticking close to Xavi and Iniesta,the passing channels would be a little uncomfortable for them. So being pressured from the back, their defenders will look for an outlet in Busquets who will be marked primarily by Rooney. And for him to support his pressured backline, he’ll have to drop deep so that their one touch short pass football can work. When he drops deep, Wayne keeps in touch, giving him no rest, and he’ll look for Xavi as an outlet and Xavi will need to drop deep because of Busquets’ limited range and preference for short passes. And where Xavi goes, Iniesta follows so he’ll also drop deep to offer an outlet.

    Effectively, the pressing forces M.I.X. Barca’s dangerous trio, out of our half or defensive zone. And because they don’t believe in long aerial balls,the whole team has to “congregate” deeper. However, I don’t suggest a man marking form of defence. The examples are based on the zone that each player occupies. Barca are highly adaptable even during the game. When they figure out that you’re man marking, they suddenly switch positions and roles and it’ll bring confusion. So the idea is to “defend my zone” regardless of who comes into it. Our players can also switch positions and defend the zones in which they “visit” and so forth but strictly maintaining a structured zonal defensive shape.

    • 20LEgend

      August 12, 2011 at 12:23 am

      Jay Wire, you make some really astute points about putting pressure on Barca’s midfield trio using a 4-4-2.

      Given the personnel that we have, I thought this was possible too. For this reason, I too was glad that we started with a 4-4-2 against Barca in the final.

      The problem that I saw in the first hal was that we often got into positions where we could put pressure on Barca, however, our attacking structure was completely out of place. This resulted in Hernandez being isolated upfront.

      The points that you make about our forwards dropping deeper to press the Barca midfield are valid, but just as important is putting pressure on their back four. Whenever anybody presses the Barca back 4, they tend to panic.

      I love the Chicooney combo, but I just dont think it will work given the personnel we have in midfield. It may work if we have a player like Essien (or Hargo pre-injuries) in there, but even then, the Barca movement is terrific.

      For mine, 4-3-3, with Rooney, Nani and Young uptop, and a 3-man midfield with Fletcher, Carrick and Sneijder would be ideal.

      I know that Rooney is far better playing in the hole, but against Barca, it has to be a 3-man midfield.

  21. Jay wire

    August 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Our back 4 on the other hand, needs to maintain a high line, with very little space between them and midfield. David Villa is the Emperor of offsides, so no worries there. With a high line defence, we’ll be able to force them into their own half, provided we perfect our high pitch pressing and offside traps. So if they go wide, with either fullback, they’ll have very few infield options and will be isolated. So even if they escape the congested midfield, they can’t do it in numbers and whoever passes the midfield filter will be immediately screened by the defensive filter with Carrick, free roaming.

    It doesn’t guarantee victory but it makes their dominance extremely difficult to achieve as well as giving us a chance in possession.

    Also there’s a general misconception with the pressing game. I’m yet to see a side that conducts a full pitch press. Barca press high up with the chief pressers being Villa, Pedro and Messi. Iniesta and Xavi apply their pressing in midfield. Busquets job is interception. He doesn’t have a major contribution in the pressing. It’s like he sends his 5 terriers to ambush the opposition and he stays back picking up the pieces. So the bulk of Barca’s defence and ball recovery is done by M-I-X as well as Pedro and Villa. That’s what was missing for United.

    The pressure in midfield was not because of Carrick’s lack of pressing as some claimed. It was because we had no “terriers” ahead of him. That’s how we solved Barca in 2008(admittedly a different team, but dominant nonetheless). It’s amazing how Busquets generally gets so much credit for doing exactly what Carrick does, yet still less efficient. Take away his 5 terriers and see how overrun he’ll be. Conversely, give Carrick 5 terriers and see how dominant we can be in possession.

    • 20LEgend

      August 12, 2011 at 12:30 am

      Great point regarding the pressing! The pressure Barca apply is to the wingbacks, centrebacks and deep-lying midfielders. This is something we couldn’t do because the 4-4-2 required our forwards to drop into midfeild to track runs.

      When we won the ball, most of our forwards we in midfield, or in Valencia and Park’s case, in the wing-back positions…the only outlets were Hernandez or a pass in-field…

      With a 4-3-3…the 3 front players can maintain a high-ish line…and not have to drop into midfield…

      Completely agree regarding the anology that you have used about Busquets terriers.

    • 20LEgend

      August 12, 2011 at 12:37 am

      I think you do make a great point about the game being 11 v 11…and this is sometimes where teams go wrong against Barca and even us…

      I know Grog often refers to the Chelsea vs. Barca semi at the Bridge a couple of seasons back. This game was a real example on how to play the Barca midfield; with intensity and physicality.

    • Tevez

      August 12, 2011 at 2:26 am

      I’m not saying 4-4-2 is the best way to go, just that it can be used if you have suitable players for that formation which do not fit into other shapes.

      I have a problem with how you have Young pressing Pique from a left wing role as that means no-one tracking Dani Alves which would be an out ball for them. I don’t think it’s feasible to press both Barcelona centre-halves and Busquets without leaving yourself too vulnerable further back. Having the right winger shuttling infield to make up the numbers can work because left back is their only weak and conservative area I can’t say the same down the right. Alves is not a conservative player and giving him space to drive into is never something he will shy away from. Better to occupy Alves and leave Puyol free.

      The problem with Barcelona is in how they achieve four players in midfield while still maintaining width high up the pitch. Busquets holds behind Xavi and Iniesta with Messi starting in a forward position but dropping into a position resembling that of the advanced player in a midfield diamond. It is very fluid, Xavi often drops onto the same line as Busquets while Iniesta often drifts into space between the lines alongside Messi. Diamond midfields have the obvious advantage of four players in that zone – usually a numerical advantage – as well as having a player stationed both between the lines of defence and midfield, and midfield and attack. The problem with just about any diamond midfield is a lack of genuine width, often provided only by the fullbacks. This doesn’t apply to Barcelona which is what makes it very difficult tactically to compete with their particular midfield diamond.

      Teams are generally going to line up two ways against them – 4-3-3(one holding behind a pair in midfield – 4-1-2-3) or 4-2-3-1(the inverse; a deeper pair behind an advanced player – 4-2-1-3). The former has a player stationed in an ideal position to track Messi’s movement deep but has no-one naturally positioned to occupy Busquets. The latter is the opposite, with Busquets covered but Messi free.

      You obviously feel that pressing is the way to go rather than sitting deep but I think either can be used effectively. If you choose to sit deep in your own third the formation becomes a moot point, which is why I mentioned a 4-4-2 can potentially work. 4-2-3-1, 4-1-2-3 it doesn’t matter, the team defends deep, narrow and players occupy space rather than concerning themselves with the movement of opposition players. Let them have the ball infront of you and close out the space between your defence and midfield and between the channels of your defence.

      Pressing is harder. 4-2-3-1 is the ideal, with a natural press which allows you to close down both fullbacks, Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta in deep positions, with one striker splitting the two centre-halves. Preferably, make sure Pique can’t advance with the ball but it’s not practical to have him, and therefore the team, press fully because they have a spare defender. Instead, you take away all their close passing options for advancing the play. Puyol especially is unlikely to carry the ball forward, or be able to do anything significant with it if he does. They only have two passes – square to the other centre-half, or Messi coming to in to receive the ball. Now that is the major problem with the press in this formation. Unless the centre-half follows Messi into midfield – relatively deep in midfield if the rest of the team is pressing effectively – he is free. Generally, it is not advisable for a defender to be dragged so far out of position and it leaves the back line extremely open given how wide Pedro and Villa play. If your defenders stay tight to Messi, Pedro and Villa in keeping with the press, it leads to a centre back being dragged too high up the pitch leaving a back three spread right across the width of the pitch. They will get through that – Pedro or Villa will get through the channels on either side. It is much more feasible to have the centre-half retain his position in the back four. All four defenders will be more comfortable with that and the fullbacks will be more able to stick to the wingers. Messi being free is a problem with no easy solution. Press the rest of the team as effectively as possible and have a striker who is aware and hard-working enough to cut off the angle for Pique and Puyol to get the ball to him. While the midfield is in their natural starting positions there is not much space or a good angle for Messi to receive the ball. Again, focus on Pique as he is clearly the more gifted ball-player.

      The other problem is that teams line up like this against Barcelona all the time, and they have a way of helping themselves get out of the natural press of this formation, where(as you described) Busquets drops in between Puyol and Pique allowing them to spread out across the width of the pitch. This increases the distance for your two most advanced central players to cover in order to close down effectively and either gives them time to come forward with the ball or pick out that pass forward. With Busquets in a centre-half position, Xavi drops deep and Iniesta and Messi naturally follow suit. So they then have three players who can work the ball amongst them into a comfortable position to get the ball forward, coupled with Messi having moved into a deeper area unmarked giving them a passing option and with all the other midfielders having left Messi a larger area to drift around in. And this is the optimal formation for pressing Barcelona. It is very hard to get right especially if they are on song.

      The 4-1-2-3 variant matches up less well because there is no player shadowing Busquets. Xavi, Iniesta and Messi can all be pressed but only while they are ahead of the play. When Xavi drops deep alongside Busquets the player marking him cannot track him so deep or he will take himself out the game. Imagine Busquets has time on the ball, Xavi drops off to his right and the man covering just sticks to him like glue – Busquets will take the opportunity to drive forward, taking the player out of the equation and taking advantage of the three on two created with Iniesta, Messi and himself against the remaining two defending midfield players. Therefore, the three midfielders must keep more to their shape and shuttle between opposition players rather than sticking to an individual, closing down the three most advanced Barca players and leaving the deepest player free. Pressing within this system requires outstanding physical attributes to compensate for being outnumbered four to three. This system, therefore, can’t compete with Barcelona’s for dominance like the previous one can, you have to accept that they will control the midfield but the team does not have to sit off them entirely either and it allows for pressing in the right areas. I would argue this is the best way to play Barcelona because it is balanced. It is a big ask to sit off and absorb so much pressure for a full match and similarly it is impossible to maintain a vigorous press for 90 minutes. Often teams start off well against Barcelona pressing high and forcing them into mistakes, but it peters out when they get into their rythm or the team inevitably tire. This offers something in between.

      • Spizzy

        August 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm

        I feel like you guys are trying to beat barca using methods that have been tried and failed spectacularly or when they succeeded, the team that won were accused of being anti football.Mourinho tried the high pressure system and it worked for the first half hour then madrid completely got outplayed and outclassed in the 2nd half.Whenever a players appears to have the energy to keep chasing, barca will simply keep passing the ball between the midfield and defence with no real attempt to attack, just wearing the player down. They know if you keep pressing you’ll eventually get exhausted and come the 70 minute, they cut you open like a surgeons knife.
        Defending deep has worked but you get accused of being anti football and generally, it just doesn’t feel right.
        I propose trying to play them at their own game. Just learn to keep possesion. These are professionals after all not 8 year olds, it shouldn’t take them years to learn to control and keep possesion because if you look carefully,messi is the only player who dribbles or runs alot with the ball, all the other barca players keep it very simple. A simple pass and run into space X 10.
        Play keep ball while moving forward, 4-5-1, nothing complicated. 4 defenders who’s job is it is to defend and 1 attacker whose job is to basically niggle the defenders nothing should be expected of him though.Everyone else should be a midfielder whose role is to ensure all spaces in the midfield and the back are closed, And pressure is applied to the man with the ball. Having these many players ensures that, everyone of barca’s players who’s attacking can be double marked at any one time, and importantly this means none of our players has to try anything overly risky like dribbling past 3 defenders(insert park, hernandez, or any player who was left isolated in the final).
        With this system all players are sure that they have colleagues open for a pass. They should learn to always be open to receive the ball and should learn to go into space. Learn to bring the ball forward, not hitting 50 yard passes to hernandez hoping he’ll be able to outrun the entire barca defence. Which is why I rather like anderson and cleverly, they are two busy bodies and like running with the ball. Not just looking for the quick counter.

  22. [OPTI]Madschester United

    August 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I found a Liverpool fan full of class! Geez! He made me soft in my knees…

    The link is an article from May about United’s 19th title and how it felt to be a Liverpool fan.

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      Great read, the author has an understanding of the game and little arrogance in him self as a writer or the subject matter. I thought the way he viewed the current united squad to be very well put.

      Can we get him as a writer on here please? A few level headed articles would make this a great blog again

  23. 20LEgend

    August 12, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Nice read on the Sneijder deal being “off”…

    I guess we all knew that it was ultimately going to come down to Sneijder lowering his wage demands. This looks unlikey, so as a club, we move on.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 12, 2011 at 1:32 am

      Sneijder who? 😀

      • jos

        August 12, 2011 at 6:52 am

        Now that Scnijder situation is clear, lets get out and get De Rossi from Roma who would be a better fit for us IMO. We’ll save 15m on fee and at least 10m on wages as well. For this 25m lets bid for Mario Goetze who I think will become even better than Scnijder!

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 10:49 am

      Read some news today he has been touted to Chelsea and City. With a city spokesman quoted as saying the cost of the deal for Sneijder is eye watering. If city are saying that , then Mr must be taking the piss with the money he is asking for

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      Seems that after City had their offer accepted for Sneijder, they whispered rich dreams to Sneijder and made him stand firm by his (ludicrous) contract demands to United. City cannot afford him either, but if they can prevent United from signing him, that is their success, too.

      Sneijder who?

  24. KS

    August 12, 2011 at 5:56 am

    I agree with the post somewhat. While we certainly must win the league & the cup — all indicators only seem to point to that — I’d also love to taste European victory again.
    However, I think that winning only the EPL again “with kids”, especially seeing Cleverly & Welbeck grow significantly in stature (at the same rate as Chicarito & Wilshire last year) will be more satisfying than winning the Champions’ league with Sneijder & Modric.

    That’s why so many of us respect Barca — they’re doing it with the xavi’s, iniesta’s & maybe one big name signing (Villa). Not with the ronaldo’s, benzema’s, and kaka’s of the world.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 12, 2011 at 6:03 am

      I like you first paragraph.
      The 2nd one is laughable. Barca have spend 350 million under guardiola AND they have double their wages over the last 3 years — go wiki to see their transfers!

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      Barca spend tons of cash they dont have and are in serious debt. 50 million plus spent this year and counting

  25. [OPTI]Madschester United

    August 12, 2011 at 6:00 am

    I’m bored and cannot sleep: PREDICTION TIME!!!

    1. Manchester United (of course!)
    2. Chelsea (experience)
    3. Manchester City (too much talent for sub-4 position)
    4. Tottenham (better than Liverpool and Arsenal)
    5. Liverpool (will score and concede a lot)
    6. Arsenal (last year with Wenger)
    7. Sunderland (O’Shea-effect!)
    8. Everton (no money, no top 6)
    9. Aston Villa (Albrighton must carry them)
    10. Fulham (normal season)
    11. West Brom (Odemwingie…)
    12. Bolton (who will score for them?)
    13. Newcastle (did they spend any of the 35 million from Carrol?)
    14. Stoke (best team in bottom half)
    15. Blackburn (shitty owners with no clue)
    16. QPR (yay! they survive)
    17. Wigan (they barely survive)
    18. Swansea (good fight, but drop)
    19. Wolves (finally they are taught that shitty footballers belong in Championship)
    20. Norwich (anyone disagrees?)

    • godzilla

      August 12, 2011 at 7:16 am

      1. I think Liverpool will challenge Tottenham. Defense if still suspect but they have added decently to MF and LB.

      2. Arsenal are in trouble but I still think Mata and a strong center half buy might help them put up a better challenge than 6th.

      3. Does it matter after position 6 or even 4 for that matter? 😀

      4. I think Norwich might surprise more than Swansea, though yea tough to see them not drop.

  26. RedTan

    August 12, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Stopped reading after this

    After the top six teams, the league is overflowing with talentless clubs loaded with rubbish players and managers (excluding Brucey and a few others) and determined to bore us to death with their perpetual and terminal strategy of parking the bus and long direct ball-itis. They aren’t even worth writing a few lines about.

    No wonder most people tag united fans as arrogant pr*cks

  27. colver

    August 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    The best chance of beating Barcelona in my view is as follows:

    1. Don’t play a 4-4-2
    2. Pick wingers with skills and pace because your best chance is to attack them on the flanks with pace on the counter attack.
    2. Don’t pick Carrick. Instead pick three hard working central midfielders who can hustle all game long. Carrick is too slow, too passive and incapable of tracking a runner. If you need evidence of this watch both Barcelona 2009 and 2011 and Milan 2007.
    3. Play Rooney on his own upfront. Hernandez is great but he cannot hold the ball up and his passing game is poor. Rooney has the physicality and power to rough up Barcelona’s defence as well as the creativity and intelligence to set up chances for other team members.
    4. Don’t pick Evra. If you are going to go with offensive minded wingers it is essential you have defensively minded full backs who do their jobs properly. It is no surprise that when we beat them in 2008 we had Evra doing his job properly and actually defending as well as Hargreaves in right back position. Sadly Evra is no longer interested in defending and prefers to court attention from the press. We screwed up by not selling him and buying a more solid defender.
    5. Don’t lose possession. The most dangerous thing about Barcelona is they know how to press and if you lose the ball to them it is that much harder to reorganize and that gives them chances. But if you defend with discipline and then make good use of the ball when you get it you can do OK.

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      we could not meet Braca in competitive competition for years to come. I fail to see the obsession with every one.

    • RMJ

      August 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      i agree with most of what you have said but i am different opinion for player selection. our best games against in the past few years against Arsenal when destroying them in Cup games where when we used a 433 or a 41221


      this formation gave us a lot of balance and adequate protection to carrick while enforcing the game through Fletcher and Anderson. park and nani could play narrowly when on defense and gives Rooney interchangeability wih them

      of course this is all based on if and that’s a big if we we meet barca again for a couple of years in Europe

  28. colver

    August 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Don’t write off Arsenal. I’m sure Wenger has some youngsters up his sleeve. And with his experience alone he isn’t going to let himself fall out of the top four. Although I agree the real determinant is how he uses the Fabregas and Nasri money. If he buys a good defender and a decent midfielder replacement they should be OK.

    Shame Sneijder is not coming but we do have a wage structure to consider. Can’t help thinking though that we screwed up by giving Rooney that bumper deal. It sets a precedent to incoming players.

    But I think we should look at a back up signing. While Sneijder is a world class player who would strengthen any team. Positionally I agree a defensive midfielder would be a huge plus.

  29. RedDevilEddy

    August 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    I don’t know if it’s mentioned, but did you guys notice that Nani kissed the United badge after his first goal at Wembley? Fuck all the talk about him leaving, I want the Portugeeze thriller to stay! 😀

  30. Chicharito

    August 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Apparently Pogba is now training with the first team squad, should make the 22 to WBA. Sneijder who?

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

      would LOVE to see him play… LOVE TO SEE HIM PLAY… in a competitive game.

      • Chicharito

        August 12, 2011 at 5:04 pm

        Behold Fegie’s Fledglings Mark11, sit down, relax and make yourself comfortable. Cleverley, Pogba, Morrison, Welbeck, Jones, Van Der Gea….. 😀 😀

  31. [OPTI]Madschester United

    August 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    For 30 million, I can’t help but feel that Arsenal are being robbed by Barcelona. Aguero was 38, Carrol 35, and Torres 50 million.

    I guess, those that blamed Fergie for raising the transfer fees by accepting 80 million offer for Ronaldo, should thank Wenger for accepting 30 for Fabregas… 🙄

    Arsenal are beginning to make me laugh 😆 😆 😆

  32. Owen

    August 12, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Tevez is not wanted by any club…

    This news just makes my day. 🙂

    • RedTan

      August 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm

      I think it is more not being able to afford than not wanting

      Welcome to Manchester city the home of over priced, over paid and unhappy strikers.

      Massive man city more strikers than trophies

  33. colver

    August 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Barcelona are total jerks. Arsenal’s valuation of £40 million was incredibly generous but rather than meet it Barcelona go and splash out on Sanchez and then hope that Cesc will sulk until he gets a move.

    People like to paint Real Madrid as the villains. But it is total crap. They were true gentlemen in their dealings with us. They paid our asking price even though the player wanted to leave so the bargaining power was on their side.

    If we aren’t going to buy Sneijder I hope at least that rather than go with same old same old i.e. Giggs and Carrick and Fletcher we instead try a dynamic midfield of Anderson and Cleverley and give Pogba games.

    • [OPTI]Madschester United

      August 12, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      Barca = El nuevo Diablo!! 👿 👿 👿 👿

  34. RedDevilEddy

    August 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Cleverley given the number 23 shirt 🙂 Happy days

  35. Abu

    August 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    If Sneijder were to come over, what no. would he get? There is only 2 and 26 left for him. I think this shows our intent….

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