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Champions League Final Preview: Manchester United vs. Barcelona – Can United Upset The Odds?

To quote famous American sportscaster Marv Albert, it has come down to this.

After 59 matches and more than 5,000 minutes of football, the last and most important match in Manchester United’s 2010/11 season is little more than 24 hours away.

Any season in which you win the Premier League title, and a record-breaking one at that, is a very good season, but one match stands between this campaign being just very good and it being great.

This current United side might be considered more very good than great alongside those that have come before it, but if they can topple the team considered by most as the world’s best tomorrow night at Wembley, there won’t be any question about the greatness of its accomplishments.

Few and far between are the matches in which you will see Manchester United as an underdog, but that is the case as United face Lionel Messi and Barcelona in a Champions League final chock full of hype.

It wasn’t the case the last time these two met, in the 2009 final in Rome. In that forgettable encounter at the Stadio Olimpico, United went in as reigning European champions and favorites and promptly started brightly, threatening Barcelona’s goal multiple times in the opening 10 minutes. Then, Barcelona struck through Samuel Eto’o with their first substantial move of the match, and United never recovered as Barca went on to win 2-0 and crush United’s hopes of a repeat.

Fast forward to the present, and Barcelona are the world’s best team with the world’s best player and play the most beautiful football on the planet, according to many, and there are more than a few people who utter the words ‘invincible’ and ‘unbeatable’ when speaking of Pep Guardiola’s side.

Whatever your opinion, whether it’s in line with the above, you don’t care for them or the hype that surrounds them, or whatever the case might be, the bare fact is that United are indeed up against it tomorrow.

However, contrary to somewhat popular belief, Barcelona are not invincible, and they are not unbeatable, and it is unwise for anyone to discredit United’s chances to win before a single ball has been kicked.

So how is that this United team, a team that a fair share view as one of the poorer title-winning sides in the Premier League era, can beat mighty Barcelona when the Ronaldo-led United team were overrun two years ago?

A large chunk of the answer lies in the previous sentence. Selling Ronaldo to Real Madrid in a world-record deal after that final defeat in Rome wasn’t exactly addition by subtraction, but Patrice Evra was spot-on when he said last week that United are a better team now than they were with Ronaldo. It might appear a strange thing to say, especially with Ronaldo coming off of a season in which he scored an astounding 40 goals in La Liga and more than 50 in all competitions, but it’s true.

So much has been thrown at United this season, but the unparalleled teamwork and togetherness has seen the team through to this point. Sure, there is a marquee, world-class name in the side in Wayne Rooney, but this season has proven that so many are ready and able to step up when needed, from the fresh-faced Mexican who’s stolen the hearts of United fans worldwide (and many a neutral, it seems) to the veteran Welshman who continues to keep Father Time at bay, from the Portuguese playmaker who’s made a huge leap this season to Park, who lives for matches like the one that lies ahead.

Barcelona’s stars need no introduction. There’s no secret how talented Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Pedro, and the team as a whole are. We’ve seen what they’re capable of on any given day.

But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Look at what United have been up against this season, in terms of injuries, in terms of the bumps they’ve encountered, in terms of controversies and adversity, and how they’ve passed every test thus far to reach this point. Sure, this is the biggest test of the season by far, but don’t think for a second that United will be lacking in preparedness, in readiness, and in belief.

And if there’s an opportunity to learn from the past, here it is. When Barcelona struck first in Rome, there were 80 minutes left, but the game was over from that point, because United didn’t know how to react and recover. Momentum changed, confidence was irreparably broken, the wind was completely knocked out of United’s sails. Overall, the last 80 minutes bordered on nightmarish, and one can only imagine the devastation in the dressing room afterward.

Many of those who were in the starting lineup for United in that defeat will be in the starting lineup tomorrow, and if Fergie’s comments are any indication, you can be sure that they’ll be spurred on to ensure that a repeat of Rome doesn’t happen.

Of course, it will take far more than belief and togetherness to take down Barcelona. It can already be conceded that they’ll have a higher percentage of possession, but United must minimize how much Barca are able to make the most of that statistical advantage and maximize our own opportunities. United have had their struggles defensively this season, but there isn’t any margin for error for such in this situation, and that also goes for the opposite end. United can’t be afraid to create opportunities, because as they showed in Rome, all it takes is one chance to turn a game on its head. At the same time, opportunities don’t need to be created at the risk of allowing Barcelona to hit back on the counter or take back possession for another elongated spell.

Another key for United is something I’ve made mention of to in previous comments. When Arsenal came back from a goal down in their 2-1 win in the first leg of their round of 16 tie against Barcelona back in February, one key was their fearlessness about being physical, about battling for the ball, being physical within reason to put Barcelona under pressure and prevent them from completely controlling proceedings like they do with most. United need to set the tone and do that early on to show that they’re there to play, not to sit back and be awestruck spectators.

Also, there’s something to be said for the fact that, despite the match being in England, there’s not nearly the kind of pressure on United as there was two years ago, when we went to Rome with so much expected, so much at stake. On the other hand, despite Barcelona’s attempts to downplay their role as undisputed favorites, the predictions, the odds, and opinions say otherwise, and the pressure is on them to perform, to live up to all of the lofty expectations that have been set.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t any pressure on United, because United’s stature makes for automatic pressure, irrespective of the scope of the match. But the same weight of expectation is not there, and not having that can translate into a performance of a lifetime, and the doubts that so many have about United’s ability to not only go toe-to-toe with Barcelona, but to beat Barcelona, can be turned into motivation, that extra flame that drives United to perform above and beyond anyone’s expectations and win.

This is normally the part where I’d insert a prediction, but there won’t be one. Instead, I’ll close with five simple words, and you can make of it what you will: Champions aren’t crowned on paper.

745 Comments

745 Comments

  1. Grognard

    June 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    @Owen: And you need to grow up, find a girl and movce out of your mom’s basement.

  2. Traverse

    June 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    @Karl: Fuck all, unfortunately.

    Our only hope is a mega rich Die Hard United fan buys the club from the Glazers for say $2bn, and is willing to sell it off to the supports groups in the form of yearly memberships and see almost no return.

    150 quid each on say 170,000 members (barcas numbers fr 2009) is only 25.5mil a year. The club can run on the money it makes, but if the new owner only took back that membership fee, it’s take 75 years to pay him back!

    Even if it were 200quid a year from 300000 people tats 60mil and would still take 34 years!

    So to recap. Fuck all.

  3. Moscow is my heaven

    June 1, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    @Grognard: Since I have my United blinkers on, I will never his aspirations. It is just a big blow to see us unable to attract his sort of talent.

    @Karl: There is nothing we can do. I think we will have a better idea in 2017. If there is a boycott of tickets, they will be rapidly replaced and Gill will simply ignore any protest and point to our 19th title as proof that the Glazers aren’t detrimentary. Cancers are not easy to be rid of mate. Complete remission (fan ownership) is uncertain and quite unlikely. Our prognosis looks pretty poor, as our amazing revenues mean the Glazers cling on to us in order to maintain their lifestyle.

  4. Grognard

    June 1, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    And the beat goes on. The Mafia was never this strong.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110601/ap_on_sp_so_ne/soc_fifa_election

  5. Karl

    June 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    @Traverse: This is sad.
    What about taking Grognard’s approach and somehow force the club into liquidation? Can’t you then buy the trademark and start rebuilding afresh? I mean, if this means the club going down a league or two to ensure the supporters get ownership then surely it will be worth it?

  6. [OPTI]Madschester United

    June 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    @Karl: Liquidation is dangerous… look at Portsmouth – they almost ceased to exist last season.

    The problem lies with valuation of clubs. How can United be worth $2,000,000,000 when, as Traverse points out, anyone purchasing the clubs would never make a reasonable return without robbing the club of it’s ‘natural’ profits. But I guess that is what happens when Capitalism meets Sports and Business-men meet fans… different objective and priorities. ๐Ÿ™„

    @Owen: United is just a football team, playing a game that really does not matter. Remove all sports from this planet and nothing would change… it’s a luxury and we all know it. Still, I greatly enjoy a fancy steak every once in a while and United is my favorite meal ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Moscow is my heaven: Totally agree. Neuer chickened out… baaaaahk-baaaahk…

  7. Andrei

    June 1, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    @johnsom33: “FIFA honestly makes me sick. Its time the big boys(England, Germany, SPainโ€ฆ) pick up their ball and go home. I find it ridiculous that the footballing super powers get pushed around by small insignifigant footballing countries. The big FAโ€™s font need fifa, but FIFA desperately needs them.”

    No, disrespect but you need to wake up and smell the coffee:) Today where it matters most your big boys are relatively small fish further weakened by the financial meltdown and no easy way to get out of the hole. Do you really believe that FIFA was not as corrupt 20-30 years ago when it was dominated the “footballing superpowers”? Only two things have changed since then:

    1. The global balance of power has changed and that causes bitterness in certain parts of the world.

    2. Information is widely accessible and no longer tightly controlled by the corrupt media.

  8. Redrich

    June 2, 2011 at 2:22 am

    @Andrei: And no disrespect to you either, but I do think that a abstention by the more visible leagues from FIFA as it stands now, is a valid form of opposition to the the corruption we see now.
    Your point that FIFA has always been corrupt is pure supposition and cannot ever be substantiated because of the 2nd point you make.

    It seems like you accept the misdeeds, bribes, lies and mono-cratic elections as if the whole world behaves that way.
    If you can smell the coffee it mustn’t be very pleasant then, is it??

  9. Andrei

    June 2, 2011 at 2:57 am

    @Redrich: You are right the coffee smell is pretty rotten from where I stand ๐Ÿ™ As for abstention of more visible leagues it would be valid form opposition if they were in position to do so. See my point #1.

    Sadly, I have to accept misdeed, bribes and lies as facts of life simply based on the premise that big money and power inevitably lead to corruption. I has always been this way and unfortunately it will remain this way. Do you honestly believe that English or Spanish FAs have significantly cleaner record than FIFA or UEFA? And yes majority of the world behaves like this. So called democracy and free and fair elections are reserved to less than 10% of world population.

  10. Lars

    June 2, 2011 at 4:04 am

    @Andrei:

    I agree that the global balance of power in the footballing world has changed (e.g Africa and Asia are much stronger than in previous World Cups), but it hasn’t changed so much that Qatar gets/pays to host a WC. Qatar never has and never will be a footballing nation and it is a total disgrace that we are wasting the greatest sports spectacle on such a non-Footballing nation (not to mention the unbearable weather conditions). What’s next? Sudan 2026? FIFA is more corrupt now than ever and is run by a bunch of fat-fucks who know or care fuck all about TODAY’S football. I thought it was great to have the World Cup in Africa due to their stronger emergence in the last couple of decades…But, Qatar. Really? It makes absolutely zero sense to have the WC there. Zero sense.

    Blatter and FIFA are more corrupt than Khadafi and Bashar Assad… combined.

  11. Johnsom33

    June 2, 2011 at 4:42 am

    @Andrei: I’m not concerned with the corruption I just don’t think every country deserves the same seat at the table. The big FA’s supply all the talent and money. Remove the top 10 countries from FIFA and let’s see how their tournaments suffer. You think companies like sky and espn are spending big money on tv rights so they can watch costa rica play Laos? Of course not, so why should anyone care what they want?

    FIFA has set up a system where they can’t lose. The smaller countries don’t even have a real vote anyway, because they can’t risk incurring the wrath from the status quo. England and Scotland can take a stand because they don’t rely on handouts from others to remain afloat.

  12. Redrich

    June 2, 2011 at 4:47 am

    @Andrei: The IOC got their house in order after a similar expose.
    Sitting on our hands and just accepting that kind of management of our game will do nothing to change things mate. A stand by the visible nations would marginalize this FIFA’s range of power.
    While the dissenting parties organize attractive competitions between the leagues of perhaps Spain, England, Germany, Italy and the USA, FIFA can bumble their way to WC Final of perhaps Russia v Nigeria.

    Now that coffee is fresh brewed mate.

  13. Andrei

    June 2, 2011 at 6:21 am

    @Lars, Johnsom33 and Redrich: When I talk about global balance of power I primarily mean military, political and most importantly economical power. What is happening with FIFA is pretty much a reflection of reshaping global economical landscape. FIFA is just a puppet in hands of new emerging powers as it was a puppet of traditional world powers before. Therefore, any open confrontation with FIFA will inevitably lead to the conflict with the powers behind FIFA. And I don’t think that England or Spain can afford this conflict. Let’s take Spain for example. They are unquestionable footballing powerhouse and current World champions. But they are broke as a nation and steadily following Greece, Ireland and Portugal on the road to insolvency. They can ill afford any sort of confrontation with their creditors in Asia and isolation from FIFA would be suicidal for Spanish football. Barcelona are newly crowned European champions and the best team in the world. But their finances are in shambles and the only thing that keeps them afloat and pays player wages is a sponsorship deal with Qatar Foundation that is set up by the Qatar royal family. What do you think would be the royal family’s reaction if Spain walked out from FIFA to wrestle 2022 World Cup from Qatar?

    @Lars: What’s next? Most likely China 2026. They are second largest economy now and I would not be surprised if they were #1 by 2026. I recently spoke with Celso Guiotoko CIO of Nissan and he told me that Nissan projects that China would become their largest market surpassing the US by 2014. China is the largest creditor of both Europe and the US and that gives them quite a bit of leverage. In any conflict with FIFA China is likely to side with Russia, Arab and African countries as they are China’s main energy and commodity markets.

    The bottom line is there are new kids on the block wielding their power in FIFA and unfortunately they bring with them habits that Western nations are not accustomed to.

  14. Redrich

    June 2, 2011 at 6:54 am

    @Andrei: Well, well, well, you have just confirmed what we already know about the global financial markets, and how that trend might effect the countries in question. However please tell us all how this trend can make an impact on how and why FIFA’s voting body find it acceptable to take bribes for WC-awarding-favors.

    The trend in Football is that countries like Spain, England, Italy, German and the US are dominating how the game is played, and are clearly the standard bearers for the financial, ethical and artistic flags that other leagues all try to emulate.

    You think only that Football will have no choice but to follow how the balance of financial power is aimed.
    A very naive and one dimensional thought, that ignores the more important issues such as “History”,and perhaps “Culture”.
    While Qatar greased the hands of FIFA saps, and the Russian mafia put a gun against the head of the same, neither nation will win the WC – or are deserving of it either.

  15. Johnsom33

    June 2, 2011 at 7:03 am

    “Michael has proved to be a top footballer,” said Ferguson. “It is unfortunate that he did not get more opportunities but the form of Chicharito [Hernรกndez] put everyone in the shade and his partnership with Rooney proved invaluable. I am delighted Michael is staying for a further year and we will look to give Owen more opportunities in the new season.”

    If I was berba and I read this quote I’m calling my agent to find a different club. I know he wants to fight for his place but it really isn’t up to him. Chicha is younger and fergie loves his partnership with Rooney.

  16. AndyCR7

    June 2, 2011 at 7:57 am

    FIFA 12 achievements – Score with Fernando Torres!

    ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜†

  17. Karl

    June 2, 2011 at 10:07 am

    @Redrich: I don’t believe his view to be naive or one-dimensional at all.
    Trust me, “History” and “Culture” means shit when there’s money involved. Financial power is the power that controls ‘Everything’ nowadays, including football.
    From Andrei’s comments, I can undertand why US and UK are licking their lips at the prospect of another major war, and why rest of Europe (actually, the world) does nothing but wait for it to happen. Nothing like a good ol’ war to get the finances flowing again…

    If I take our club for example, did any of the boardmembers or major shareholders give a shit about history, culture, tradition, artistry, ethical/moral values, etc. when they approved the takeover by the Galzers? How could they not have known that the club would sink into debt from being the riches to the poorest litterall overnight?
    It did not matter because of the financial gains. In effect, one can say that this was “corruption” by a club, belonging to one of the “corrupt” FA’s, beloging to a bigger “corrupt” world governing body. No matter what governing body the major FA’s will form, corruption will follow. How can the building be pure if the foundation is built on corruption? (refer to all the matchday bribes, player bribes, agent bribes, etc.)

  18. Owen

    June 2, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I just read Berbatov’s interview at RoM .

    This guy is pure class.Man Utd will never get a player with such an attitude and humbleness.Likes of Tevez and Ronaldo should take inspiration from this person…

  19. [OPTI]Madschester United

    June 2, 2011 at 11:33 am

    @Owen: I agree… that man is CLASS. Not a squeak about his malcontent. Nothing from his agent. No whining like Tevez or public calls to the fans for help.

    Berba is classy. I hope he stays on for another year… We don’t need to improve our strikers anyhow and it worked well this season with three strikers getting 15+ goals…

  20. [OPTI]Madschester United

    June 2, 2011 at 11:57 am

    @Andrei: Do you really think FIFA reflects the nature of power sharing? If so, the US should have been hosting to WC far more often than 1994.

    FIFA is not used by governments to implement political goals. That’s silly talk. FIFA is nobody in the grand scheme of politics — Spain would not be punished (economically or politically) by China if they complained about Qatar.

    FIFA reflects corporate riff-raff (private mega-economies) — putting Coca-cola, McDonalds, and other giants in the hands of every third world person. That’s why we are now seeing a switch in moving World Cups from saturated markets like USA, France, Japan and Germany to places of Corporate Interest: South America, Africa, Middle East, and possibly China/India…. expand markets, increase profits, grow business, or die — the Corporate Mantra fits nicely with the actions of FIFA and the objective of the World Cup (make $$$).

    Football suffers with every world cup… maybe grassroots organizations and clubs can bring back “the Game” to where it belongs: with the fans and players. One can hope…

  21. Traverse

    June 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    @Andrei: I heard an interesting perspective on why FIFA hate England so much the other day.

    Back when Sir Stanley Rous ran FIFA (1961-1974), he organised the 1966 World Cup. Under his reign, that World Cup only offered one place to be split between the CONCACAF, CAF, OFC and AFC. Also, the South American teams believe their players (Pele especially) were allowed to be kicked off the park. In the Semis, an English ref did the Germany-Uruguay game, and a German ref did the England-Argentina match.

    They believe they deliberately set up an England Germany final.

    Now you have to look at the people who are in positions of power in FIFA. These are old, bitter men with long memories. They are people who remember what world football was like for themselves under English rule, and hold a grudge against England.

    Joรฃo Havelange tool over from Rous on an anti England ticket, and hand picked Sepp Blatter as his successor.

  22. Traverse

    June 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    @Traverse: Sorry, don’t know what games I’m thinking of. It was England/Portugal and West Germany/Russia.

    But yeah. World football hates us because 45years ago, some guy you’ve never heard of possibly made a WC difficult for South American teams, and didn’t give loads of money to developing football worldwide.

    45 years ago.

    We hadn’t been to the moon yet, the Vietnam draft was happening, Nixon is 2 years off becoming president, Martin Luther King and JFK are 2 years off being assassinated. This is how long ago this shit was sown.

    But everyone at the top of FIFA is in their eighties, and remember not getting money off an English run FIFA. It’s gonna be another 20 years before all these old bitter cheats are gone, and maybe then we can start rebuilding FIFA. Think it’s going to be any better under Platini in 4 years?

    Guess again.

  23. Grognard

    June 2, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    @AndyCR7: We would have better chance of scoring with Anderson these days.

  24. Vignesh

    June 2, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    If Gonzalao Higuan is supposed to be available for 15m ..why can’t united sign him ??? Nasri is another one …a proven top talent !!

  25. johnsom33

    June 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    @Traverse: did you hear that from Tim Vickery?
    Hes the only one I ever heard say that. It really is petty to hold onto a grudge for so long.

  26. Moscow is my heaven

    June 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    @Vignesh: Fergie never buys from Madrid. It’s one of his many eccentric behaviours in the transfer market. Sneijder and Robben come to mind. Plus, I doubt that United of all clubs would get the fair price you mentioned.

    Higuain would be an excellent purchase if Berba does in fact leave.

  27. colver

    June 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Apparently we are interested in a Rangers striker, I forget the name but he is East European. Anyway if Berbatov leaves we do not need a world class replacement. Just someone who can fill in as a third striker. Indeed if we buy someone like Young or Alexis Sanchez they may be able to fill in as a supporting striker as well as help out on the wings.

  28. Moscow is my heaven

    June 2, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    @colver: Nikica Jelavic?

  29. Andrei

    June 2, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    @[OPTI]Madschester United: We are essentially talking about the same thing only from different perspective. To me government politics are just an extension of power struggle of global corporation. Do you think that it is in the US oil companies (which are american companies only by the place of incorporation) to bring World Cup to the US over Qatar. They would rather see it in an Arab country like Qatar where their real interests are. Do you think that BP another “British” company by incorporation is interested in having World Cup in England? With their strategic partnership with Russia’s Gazprom? Anyway to your other points:

    “Do you really think FIFA reflects the nature of power sharing? If so, the US should have been hosting to WC far more often than 1994”

    They would if they cared. For example the US cares about Olympics and in the last 30 years they had 2 summer games and 2 winter games – more than any other country. But now when the US is interested in hosting World Cup they have significantly less real leverage plus it goes against global corporate interests.

    “FIFA is not used by governments to implement political goals. Thatโ€™s silly talk. FIFA is nobody in the grand scheme of politics โ€” Spain would not be punished (economically or politically) by China if they complained about Qatar”

    If FIFA is not used by governments then why did Putin and Qatar royal family have such close personal involvement in the selection process? As for China punishing Spain for dissent on Qatar no they wouldn’t. Not directly and not for Qatar’s sake. This is not their style – they are masters of indirect influence and long term perseverance. Though based on my recent trips there we maybe due to see more assertive meaner if you will China. In conversations with people from emerging middle class I’m seeing unmistakable signs of rising nationalism and their calm confidence that they will be the next world superpower sometimes gives me creeps.

    As far as Qatar royal family is concerned they would definitely retaliate by all means possible. This is their new playing ground to express personal egos. They are used to almost unlimited power and can go quite far to wield it. As illustration here is Roman Abramovich’s story. From 2000 to 2008 he was the governor of Chukotka a far east region in Russia just across Bering Strait from Alaska. Out of personal ambition simply to show that he could govern better than those dudes in Kremlin he spent almost $1.5B of his personal wealth to improve region economy and infrastructure. Chukotka definitely benefited from Abramovich charity as now they have the highest birth rate in Russia and vastly improved standards of living, schools, healthcare and housing. At some point he just lost the interest and resigned as the governor of Chukotka though local population really wanted him to stay.

  30. Grognard

    June 2, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    @Moscow is my heaven: I think there is a better chance of Benzema being sold than Higuain who is a fan favorite and more consistent striker who plays well with Ronaldo.

  31. Grognard

    June 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    With all the talk about Modric and Sneijder going on I am wondering if there isn’t a better than normal chance of United trying to get Cesc Fabregas from Arsenal. Apparently Barcelona have soured on buying him probably because they know that there is nowhere for him to play until Xavi retires. And the fact is that Fabregas is tired of playing for Wenger and Arsenal as he sees the club lacking the ambition he feels is needed to win silverware. Too much youth and not enough quality player purchases have made him discontented and I think that now might be a good time to pull off a coup.

    Sure Arsenal and Wenger would rather play Barca at the Nou Camp a hundred times in one year than sell a player to us but then again, if Fabregas makes it impossible for them to keep him happy, they will need to unload him and I only see a few Italian clubs interested in him. I rate him almost as high as Sneijder and way better than Modric so I would at least inquire as to his availability and willingness to come to OT. Far fetched I know, but still, is it that out of the question knowing that he does not want to stay there any more and also the fact that relations between Fergie and Wenger have improved greatly over the past few years.

  32. Grognard

    June 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Eddie for Christ’s sakes mate can you give us a new thread as I am waiting 30 seconds to upload a comment. It’s painfully slow and very frustrating. PLEASE ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. RMJ

    June 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    @Grognard: i have secret crush for fabregas(as a player) and I really empathize with your line of thinking here. if we are able to get him instead of say nasri, i think it would improves us in terms of quality by five folds to say the least. but wenger will probably hold on tooth and nail.

    @Moscow is my heaven: is it me or has Higuain lost a bit of his pace since that injury

  34. johnsom33

    June 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    @colver: Are we actually interested? I only read one article about him but it sounded like his agent was just trying to drum up interest in his client by mentionung Us.

  35. johnsom33

    June 2, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    @Grognard: I agree Fabregas would an incredible signing, as would Nasri. I dont believe for a second that we are going to get either but I think if SAF really wanted to he could get one. Nasri only has 1 year left on his deal and he has turned down numerous contracts offers. The popular belief is that he is waiting to see what Fabregas is going to do, because he wants to play in the Cesc role. So If cesc stays Nasri might consider his options. We could tap up Nasri and tell him to let his contract run out at Arsenal, then sign him next year. I would love that haha.

  36. Moscow is my heaven

    June 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    @RMJ: He was always going to be rusty coming back, but to be honest with you, he is the complete striker. Clinical finishing with either foot, aerial presence, his turn of pace reminds me of a younger Torres, and to end up as the No 1 Argie striker is quite something when you consider he competes with Tevez, Aguero and Milito.

    Real Madrid would be foolish to be let him slip away. But we would be even more foolish for letting him get away for a cut price. Anyway, the strikers department is the least of our worries.

    @johnsom33: Tapping up Nasri sounds like a really good idea actually. We got nothing to lose, and even if we don’t get him, it will be a big embarassment for Wenger and their fans, and further unsettle their key players. I have a nagging suspicion that Nasri does cast envious glances towards his compatriot Evra. Winning trophies will really play with his head.

  37. Grognard

    June 3, 2011 at 4:43 am

    @johnsom33: Whereas I respect Fabregas I have to say I dislike Nasri and as a player he does nothing for me. I think he is rather soft.

  38. Grognard

    June 3, 2011 at 4:46 am

    @Moscow is my heaven: It’s typical that in a year when we don’t need strikers there are so many available but we also must not be tempted in spending on any as we must fill our real needs first.

  39. Traverse

    June 3, 2011 at 11:08 am

    @johnsom33: Yeah, he is a man in the know on these sort of things, being in contact with non English football powers all the time. It really was an eye opening discussion.

    Also, new thread please? This is still a Champs League Final preview…….

  40. Traverse

    June 3, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    In transfer news, twitter tells me that there is a United contingent in the crowd at Velez Sarsfield vs Penarol in the Cupa Libatedores and that we are doing a deal for Ricky Alvarez, a 23 year old midfielder likened to Kaka who Arsenal have been linked with all season.

  41. Moscow is my heaven

    June 3, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I could download a full movie before this page finishes loading ๐Ÿ˜†

    I think Fergie will wrap up the De Gea deal and head off to an island in the middle of nowhere for holiday. When he comes back, he’ll read The Scotsman, and find out Modric has joined Chelsea, Sneijder has signed a new 10 year contract, and Ashley Young has joined Liverpool for ยฃ14 million. Then he’ll see the corner column which highlights the availability of Bebe’s long lost brother. Next morning’s headlines:

    United Make Rags To Riches Dream Come True For Bebeson

    It is surprisingly plausible that this might happen ๐Ÿ™„ ๐Ÿ™„

  42. gator

    June 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    @colver: i think were set on strikers… wellbeck and macheda coming back from loan offer alot. and i take berbas pledge to stay to be true. unless fergi is done with him? i dont think that is the case… and if he does and macheda goes as well i think fergi has a hardon for benzema.

    I wonder if we should activate first rights on rossi to keep him from barca ๐Ÿ˜‰

  43. gator

    June 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    alright stats fans and keeper fans. this is a nice comparison of some of the keepers we have been linked with… de gae comes out looking rosy
    link

  44. Grognard

    June 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    @Moscow is my heaven: You said it. First off, I don’t know where Eddie Griffin is but is it really difficult to create a thread or two before you go missing? I assume he has gone on a holiday or is just very busy but still, this blog has had less than a dozen entries over the past two days because it is too slow for people’s tolerance level. What’s funny is that when Eddie returns, he will post three new threads within 24 hours which for me is the exact opposite of taking too lo0ng to publish one. Anyway, still love ya Eddie but please, get your ass in gear and post a new thread…..PLEASE. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Now regarding your comments regarding Fergie. Mate you are beginning to sound like me. You see you are awake and intelligent and have studied Fergie’s MO over the past several seasons and how he does or doesn’t operate during transfer season. I fully agree with you. He will unveil De Gea and then it’s off for a month getting pissed on wine and watching his nose go a different shade of purple in the wine country of France.

    I suppose at 70 and after 25 years of managing this club and just securing our record breaking 19 EPL title, he has earned that right and that break but for me there is no rest until business is done. Other teams do not sleep at the wheel while Fergie drowns himself in sun and wine. Bayern have already made three big signings and Madrid has also made a few. All clubs seem busy right now negotiating and placing themselves in the proper poll positions for the big race to the stars. So what will Fergie do?

    This is not a tournament off season like last year was and like next year will be. When the World Cup is coming up I can understand the reluctance to make any moves and most teams wait until the tournament is over to make their moves for obvious reasons. This off season of course does not carry that kind of delay and like every year, there are a number of big clubs all vying for the services of a dozen or so major players. Sneijder, Modric, Aguero, Rodwell, Benzema, De Rossi, Higuain, Klose, Falcao, Pastore are just some of those names and there are many clubs preparing to go into bidding wars for their talents. So are we going to get another Glazer induced quiet summer? Why do I get the feeling that De Gea and Jordan Henderson will be all we do? Henderson seems an obvious pick due to the fact Brucey and Fergie are chums and that he is interested in Brown and Gibson. Seems to make sense that some kind of swap deal is made which fits perfectly for the Glazer’s as they get rid of two contracts and make room for one without dishing much out in transfer fees.

    If Mourinho gets his wish of Aguero joining Madrid that will make Benzema or Higuain or even both available. Does that mean we would go for one of them? Depends. Depends if Fergie can cut a deal with Spurs for Modric while giving them Berbatov back as partial payment. Modric is no Sneijder but he is a favorite of Fergie’s and if he could get him for a cut price, he may actually have some money left over for Benzema. And you know he would like to have him.

    As for Young and Rodwell and others who have been linked, I am starting to get a bad feeling about them. I honestly don’t know if they fit into Fergie’s plans right now. I think he would prefer it if their price tag doubled or tripled before he showed interest. I mean that’s just his procrastinating way of doing things. To think that three years ago we could have had Sneijder for under 15 million. Now he would cost three times that amount.

    Bottom line is that Fergie needs to get his as sin gear and deal with the obvious problem with the club which is the midfield. Better now than later I say. But instead he will do nothing and then come back from vacation and state the fact he is done with his business this summer, there is no real value out there and that he likes the look of our club as it is. I am tired of feeling like a cynic but then again, all I have to do is look at who is managing this team and who owns it for my cynicism to boil over. I have a feeling this will be yet another underwhelming and ultra disappointing summer. Sometimes I just have no faith and I just do not believe in Fergie anymore or in this team’s ability to buy and attract top players.

  45. Moscow is my heaven

    June 3, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    @Grognard: I love the old man, but as perfectionist as it sounds, he can be so much greater and leave a squad that his successor can deal with. Because, make no mistake, no-one else in the world can make these clowns punch above their weight like Fergie does.

    At his age, a sudden turn in health can occur within such a short time, and while the optimists of today might not appreciate it now, the current squad would be fighting for a top 4 finish AT BEST even under a very good successor if that kind of catastrophe were to happen. What then? Would the Glazers thrash out transfer deals left, right and centre? I don’t think so! Shit would hit the fan big time, and there would be riots in Manchester.

    We need to begin the influx of talent RIGHT NOW to avoid that kind of embarassment, because we have pissed away valuable time since Rome 2009. People need to look at the bigger picture, and if that means I have to start thinking like Darth Grog (dark side of the force :smile:) then so be it. Ambition, not negativity.

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