Looking Back and Looking Ahead…

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The season kicks off on Monday for us, but let’s use this as an overall preview of the rest of the season as such.

Public perception has been that this summer is quiet on the transfer front. In reality it’s not been quite at all. If you add up signings made during last season and during this summer we’ll realize that the club has in fact spent about £25m on players. True they’ve been spent with the future in mind, but they are signings nonetheless, and what we cannot ignore is that hard cash has been put into players. This is not something that we can write off as pure PR, because money has been spent.

This is not to extricate the Glazers from blame; far from it. We would have spent much more in the presence of a different ownership model—maybe even not had to spend because we’d already have had a better squad, but let’s not fantasize now.

But the question worth asking is: has the money been judiciously spent on signings? To answer that we’d need to go off our hunches, and other suppositions. (“Hernandez already looks a world beater!” “Smalling is a bit raw.” “Bebe? Who? £7.4m? Wha—?”)

Take the case of Bebe. My initial reaction was one of confusion. It’s partly owed to the statement from the official website which had him down as a striker. It’s a bit like Arsenal buying another midget who player behind the striker when what they needed was someone who was more lethal and in the box. But subsequent reports and *sigh* YouTube clips of him showed he was more an attacking midfielder who played either on the wing or behind the striker. Much better, then. Or is it? Well, it’s not really the price that bothered me. But the series of events that led to his signing. He was playing in the Portuguese third division, and signed up by Vitoria Guimares only a couple of months ago. By David Gill and Ferguson’s own admissions they were aware of him only a month ago. Add to that he was a Carlos Queiroz recommendation. His last scouting network find was Manucho, and the one before him Nani and Anderson. But the latter duo were already quite well known in various scouting circles. Manucho and Bebe, less so. Again, Manucho is just one data point, and there’s a significant difference between playing in the Angolan league and being snapped up by a Portuguese top division club. But still, the fact remains that Ferguson moved swiftly to snap up Bebe—paying over the odds in the process—just so others don’t get hold of him is rather odd, considering his recent caution in the transfer market, and his pronouncements about the “lack of value”.

In essence he was splashing over half the value of a star player like Mesut Ozil on an unknown. This is not a criticism of our scouting network, but more about a seeming lack of a plan in the mind of Ferguson. It seems he is as capable of falling to the whims of impulse. Yet he talks about caution and lack of value. They just don’t add up.

I am not calling for us to sign Mesut Ozil. From what I’ve read, and heard from media sources, there has been a solid interest from the club, but the complications arise from the indecision by Ozil himself, Bremen’s quandary over playing him in the upcoming Champions League qualifier (and hence, losing value) or selling their star player at the risk of possible exit from the Champions League qualification stage (and losing millions thereby). Also, there are a host of agents, and assorted hangers-on from his entourage trying to act on behalf of him, often without his or his agent’s knowledge.

I’ve said this earlier: I’d like Ozil to come, but if not, I’d much rather see Cleverley get an extended run. I’d like a more assertive midfielder who has the legs to move forward and help in our attack. Carrick is more composed and less dynamic. Scholes prefers a deep-lying role at his age. And Fletcher is better at mopping up and protecting the defence. If we ever needed to sign a ‘finished product’ I’d want someone in that role. If not, then we move on and look forward to the new season.

Ferguson once again decided to have a pop at the fans. To be honest, this sort of news doesn’t shock me anymore. I cringe when I hear it, or read reports and quotes from Ferguson, but it’s evident that he’s bent upon sucking up to the Glazers and showing contempt for the fans. And from here on, I’ve decided to compartmentalize—block the outrageous nonsense he spouts about fans, and focus on the season and his performance during the matches as and when it happens. It’s not about ignoring the ‘pressing issues’ regarding his attitude towards fans, but every time he opens his mouth about supporters, he isn’t going to be unpredictable. Everything I’ve had to say on him about that has been said. Little value in adding to noise, and redundancies. But every football match is new, every performance—win, loss, draw—is a new experience despite the years, and that is always worth discourse. So talking more about the actual football and less about off-pitch is what I’d like to do more of from now on. (Talking about the actual football—what a novel idea eh?)

Moving on, I have a lot to be optimistic about this bunch, despite my misgivings about the future. The starting XI is as good as any. Rio’s fitness is a worry, but the rise of Evans is important. This is a big season for our right-back Rafael. Neville is a club legend, but I would honestly like him to sit back and mentor Rafael more. Not since Ronaldo have I been as excited about a new signing, as I have with Hernandez. His eye for goal is something and ability to play on the shoulder of the last defender is something we’ve entirely lacked since the departure of Ruud and, to a lesser extent, Louis Saha. Rooney and Tevez always gave effort, often at the cost of not playing like a classic striker. Rooney has steadily improved every season in his goal scoring tally, but there’s something about Hernandez that will hopefully strike fear in opposition defences. He’s also exactly the sort of striker Berbatov would love.

I have my reservations on the midfield, partly because I don’t rate Anderson enough, and partly because I felt Carrick went backwards last season. I hope Carrick returns to his usual steady self, because it’s a damn indictment of our midfield if a 35-year old Scholes is the best we have.

Anyway, onwards and upwards we go. Hopefully the shower at Eastlands keep up the dreadful form they showed against Spurs.

The preview to our opening match will be up tomorrow.

Till then.

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582 Comments

  1. @Grognard: yup. Couldn’t agree more. I too had heard earlier from reliable sources that United had made clear enquiries to Werder Bremen on Ozil but the problem was his own indecision and preference for either Barca or Real that did it for us rather that our own inaction in the market for Ozil.

  2. @Grognard: Aren’t you the one to put down Fergie very often? I think everyone sees Fergie > Ronaldo so you must have a lot of gall then 😆 😆

  3. @Red Ranter: But let me add to that I don’t believe Fergie did enough to turn his interest. Fergie has the attitude these days that if you aren’t committed to playing for United, he isn’t going to try to convince you. I think this hubris gone wrong and it is hurting the team. Nothing wrong with a little bit of good old salesmanship. It worked for many players we have bought in the past. But these days Fergie cannot see himself being pried away from his vacation time. And quite often the difference between getting a player and beating Barca and Madrid to the punch is in July. Still, not much we can do about it now.

  4. @PissedOffRed: It’s nothing more than media hype 90% of the time. Most of the time Fergie and other managers generally have respect for each other. Sure there are brush ups but that is why they share a bottle of wine after a game. To iron out things like that. Rivalries are concoctions of the fans and the media. The way I see players from enemy teams hugging and shaking each others hands before and after games these days tells me that the real passion and hatred for a rival still sits in the camp of the fan, and nobody else.

  5. @Grognard: Interesting fact is for this January when the tax rate for foreign players in Spain go from 23% to 43%. It’s still much less than UK (50%) but it should relatively level the playing field.

    Ozil right now is getting 80,000 gross (before tax) at Real. At United we would have to pay him 121,000 to ensure it matches his net income after tax. We’re already in a losing situation here.

  6. @Grognard: You bark at people who dare to put down our legend Ronaldo, yet you never mind putting down Neville, Fergie, and other legends as you see fit… I don’t think I was that confusing…

  7. @Grognard:

    You must be joking right? I won’t even start to pull out the Ronaldo stats…his first season and a half Ronaldo was not a whole lot more than a show pony..I’m not putting him down just stating that there was an obvious progression in his game at united. he was a whole lot of step overs and Fergie continually challenged him to improve his game and increase his scoring output…and he turned into the goal machine of recent memory..if you a long time united fan would aknowledge that i’m sure!

  8. @Grognard:

    And this is exactly what I have been saying about the whole Ozil affair..he just chose RM over us..end of…not due to Glazers, lack of status etc..he just preferred Madrid…leave SAF alone on that one…he made his play but Ozil was seduced by the Merengues….end of…he certainly sounds like a confused lad (loving Barca and Madrid?)…kind of like loving Liverpool and United…oil and water….

  9. @Red Ranter: We have to stop using taxes as an excuse. They aren’t stopping the likes of City from getting who they want. Fact is we are worried about player taxes when the real culprit in all this are the Glazer’s unwillingness to free up the necessary money it would take for a United to enter the transfer market with an attitude of intent instead of caution and trepidation. The Glazer presence and team’s financial situation may also be turning enough players off of playing for us fearing that the club is headed for a meltdown. I personally know that if i were a player, the reason I would think twice about going to United is the glazer’s, the knowledge that Ferguson may retire soon and the fact that it will be tough to get a replacement for him that’s good due to the present ownership. Because at the end of the day money may matter to me but winning is the most important thing and the knowledge that united is no longer aggressive in the transfer market would be a sever warning to me to stay away.

  10. @[OPTI]Madschester United: Ronaldo is super human player and neville is git. Nuff said really. 🙄 🙄 Learn to live with disappointment mate. People don’t all think alike and trust me, nobody will ever make me conform to the Scholes and Neville bandwagon. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!. LOVE RONALDO/HATE FERGIE 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😈 😈 😈

  11. @Don: Oh blow that BS your ass. Show Poney, my coddling. When you want to actually sit and debate seriously with me rather with your thin skinned United bias, then we can talk. As long as you make silly comments about one of the world’s elite players, then you won’t get my respect or attention. You can bitter towards Ronny all you like, I could care less. All I know is when he was playing for us, he was a FUCKING GOD.

  12. @Don: He’s not confused at all. He’s a German/Turkish kid with a mercenary attitude who is looking for a good fit. He wasn’t born in Madrid or Catalonia so one should not expect him to have the kind of loyalty to a team that he might have in Germany. As far as our chances in getting him were, they may have been better had Fergie actually tried harder or even approached the lad and his family and invited them to come to Manchester and give them a tour of OT, have dinner and speak. But none of that was done so in the end the smooth talking snake oil salesmen won the day. At the end of the day it all has to do with the kind of effort you made. Sure we still may have not gotten him but I would be much more willing to live with it having known that Fergie did his damnedest to make it happen, which of course he didn’t.

  13. @Grognard:

    utter bollocks…you must have a short memory when it comes to Ronaldo…we can agree to disagree…it took the boy a good 2 years to develop any consistency at United…I am not bitter towards him at all…I wish he had stayed but he wanted a new challenge..I don’t appreciate the way he went about it but I respect his decision..end of… there are very few things *any* player at United could do/say that would ever make me bitter…do yourself a favor and go check CR7s stats throughout his United career..if you see 40 goals in his first season…I concede and I will definitely blow more than BS….otherwise stop talking through your own ass and check the facts mate…he was not one of the worlds elite players at sporting..that all happened during his time at OT…any United fan knows that and knows it didn’t happen right away..utter bollocks from you mate..

  14. @Grognard:

    dream on about Fergie trying harder…it was not going to happen as soon as he knew Madrid/Barca were vaguely interested…to say Fergie procrastinated is a cop out from the Fergie hating mob…he chose Spain..not for any fault of GIll, Fergie etc..just like Benzema did

  15. Red Ranter – if my time on the blog has come to an end, then I would like it to be in the right way. I never apologised to you for saying I didn’t like you, which I didn’t mean, and which it was inappropriate to post on the blog – so I do apologise now. I know you have been very tolerant, and I respect that – and I thank you for the privilege of allowing me to post here. As I said, I want things to be right, so thank you RR. I know one thing though Red Ranter, you have always been a gentleman in every respect of the word – so thankyou. I have appreciated the blog, although a good few times perhaps you might rightly have thought that otherwise. As Grog and others might testify, I am not the easiest person to get along with when I go off on one. So I have a lot to learn about proper blogging.

  16. @Grognard: I am not saying you have to like Neville. I am commenting on the FACT that you bark at people who criticize Ronaldo, yet you get offended when people bark at you for critizing Fergie and Scholes and other legends.

    Don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house… 🙄

  17. @Craig Mc: Craig what are you saying?What you mean that that your time is up here?Don’t leave the place mate.I like you so much.

  18. Thankyou Red Ranter – you know what I mean! Very much appreciated! Like I said, you are a perfect gentleman!

  19. @Don: I don’t mind the disagreement mate but your choice of words is rather irritating and is rather insulting. First off, whether you disagree with me or not, I never speak “utter bollocks” and I definitely don’t “talk through my own ass”. Clean up your attitude in regards to replies and you and I can have some interesting and stimulating debates. Continue to call me names and insult me and your time on here will be short. You sound like an intelligent fan so I would prefer if you stopped with the insults and allowed us to have debates that aren’t designed to get my temper boiling because if you want a battle of wits and insults, ask other members around here who the King of Arguments is. I take no pride in that but I do know how to articulate my feelings in the nastiest of manners. I’d prefer not to do that with you simply because you do come across as an interesting and intelligent bloke but with a bit of a temper. Well ask around, if anyone on here has a temper and who doesn’t take well to name calling, it’s me. Cut that crap out mate and you and I can have many a good debate. Lets face it, if we all agreed on everything, it would be pretty dull. Yes I have a thing for Ronny and so I tend to intentionally forget his growing pains with the club and only remember his last few years which you have to agree, was a little bit more than show pony quality. 🙂

  20. @Don: I realize that mate but again, it does not mean that I cannot voice my dissatisfaction with him and the way he conducts business. It’s all got to do with personal preferences I guess and we are going to differ on that. Fergie and I haven’t agreed on things for a while now. But that’s why there are rants sites online. So people can bitch, whine and complain about what they would like to see at OT.

  21. @Craig Mc: What’s this about your time coming to an end on this blog mate? Did I miss something? Hope that is not the case because you are a vital member of this blog and like me you are the straw that stirs the drink. Without blokes like us, Red Rants would be a dull place filled with conformist propaganda as opposed to what it is , which is an elite site with smart, questioning minds who are not following the status quo but who offer insight, passion and humour to the day to day news.

    You and i have had our periods of friendliness and bonding and our moments where we were at each others throats but through all of it I for one have always liked you and what you have brought to this blog as well as your passion and humour which is needed when things get a little hot and tense around here. So whatever this is all about, I hope you are not leaving the blog because you are vitally important to it’s continued success. I for one respect you a lot bro so, at the risk of sounding like KC and the Sunshine Band, let me sing out loud ‘Please don’t go, please don’t go, don’t go away’. 🙂

  22. @[OPTI]Madschester United: Yes but at least I get a lot of light and illumination living in a glass house. Beats living in a cave like many Scholes fans. 😉 😉 😀 😀 Fact mate, is that we cannot all agree. We all have our favourites and least favourites and i am one of those who does not care for Neville and can barely tolerate Scholes. It has nothing to do with intelligence or lack of but simple personal preference. And so we will all occasionally argue about players because we are all different. That’s just something you need to accept. No one said it was democratic or fair. It is what it is.

  23. @Grognard: 😆 😆 😆 😆 – thank you so much Grog. It was just a matter of looking back over some of my posts and attitudes, and wanting to learn to be a more well rounded blogger 🙂 . I am learning from Red Ranter what it is to be a gentleman blogger Grog – and to find better ways of expressing the said passion for the game you talk about. We can still state our case Grog, but I am not proud sometimes of a good few of my responses. I must learn to channel my strong views in ways that don’t disrespect others. You know what I mean mate 😆 .

  24. @Grognard:

    I typically don’t use that kind of language..but when attacked I don’t take it lying down…I don’t mind a disagreement but when somebody claims I am blowing BS you can expect a verbal volley in return…just saying … I will gladly refrain from that tone if you agree to do the same…I’m here to talk football with fellow United loving fans…not exchange abuse and demeaning comments…

  25. @Craig Mc: I know how you feel Craig. I too often let the demon in me come out and I am never proud of it because it makes me look and sound childish, which I generally am not. But as you know, sometimes somebody baits us and says something that crosses the line and makes it impossible at times to not get frustrates and mad. I’m working on tempering lessening my outbursts. We all must grow and evolve and so it’s nothing but a positive that you are also seeing things in that light. I’m just glad you aren’t leaving the blog. That would be a real shame and a tragedy for the blog as it needs people like you who bring insight, humour and passion. 🙂

  26. @Don: I totally understand mate so lets chalk this one up to a minor rumble and lets promise each other that in the future, whether we agree or disagree with each other, we will keep things civilized and cordial. No name calling or insults and i’m sure we can have many stimulating conversations and or debates. 🙂

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