Posts Tagged Sir Alex Ferguson
Blackpool/ Ian Holloway
Ian Holloway must be a man with an inhumanly high self-esteem and if he added a bit of ambition to this spirit, I sense Blackpool could become a much better team than its potential currently shows and I hope they avoid relegation. The Tangerines meanwhile will make for a purist’s favourite as they play football for the gallery, even if it backfired hard in a good number of matches. #Jolly
Sir Alex Ferguson
Love him, hate him, two things are sure with this wily old Scotsman, frequent success and a loyal customer to the chewing gum industry. Despite the familiarity in the Old Trafford atmosphere having been at the Manchester United helm since 1986, Sir Alex will do what needs to be done in order to keep the trophies coming and that’s how the Red Devils eclipsed arch-rivals Liverpool to become the team with the most league titles (19); like we did not recognise him as a legend already though. Writing of doing what needs to be done, there’s a third thing you can be sure of with SAF… the hairdryer treatment; testimonies abound! #Wine
The Gunners did all in its power to extend an unenviable run of years without a trophy… and succeeded *ticks seventh year*. Arsenal only has itself to blame for winning nothing this season and unless Arsène Wenger stops being emotional about the matter, a lot of the great talents at the club will never attain greatness at the club. #Drought
The Portuguese tactician once again proved his prowess from the bench by winning the Copa Del Rey against Barcelona and breaking Real Madrid’s six season jinx of not going past the Champions League first knock-out round; going as far as the last four. It never was going to be easygoing at the Bernabeu and I sense two more seasons there would see Mourinho mould himself into a tactical legend. All that said, the Portuguese of course wasn’t going to let the season go by without a dose of touchline bans as well as “all eyes on me” and “me against the world” rants; encapsulated in the four El-Clasico encounters at close season #Journeyman
AC Milan/Massimmiliano Allegri
The Rossoneri may have been embarrassed out of the Champions League in the first knock-out round by debutantes Tottenham Hotspur but they handled affairs back home and ensured FC Internazionale’s run of four consecutive ‘Scudettos’ came to an end, thus earning some respect for the coach Allegri as well as a season’s worth of local bragging rights while at it. #Resurgence
His 16 goals in the Europa League so far; a record already for most goals in a single season in either European Cups (Opta Sports), certainly served FC Porto well in the Portuguese side’s run to the final and in my opinion brings the 25 year old Columbian out of the shadows of the imposing Hulk; his Brazilian strike partner at the club. #Potent
BV Borussia Dortmund
The high competitiveness levels attained by the Bundesliga makes Dortmund’s league triumph very laudable. More so making use of a young, skilful team in dethroning perennial title favourites Bayern Munich, Dortmund now must prove to the rest of Europe; though without Real Madrid-bound Nuri Sahin, that not only the Bavarians can perform well on the big stage but for now, it’s always good to see a team other than the usual win. #Refreshing
How many hat tricks was that again? Five hat-tricks in one season; this season, is just lethal stuff! Too bad this form still was not enough to get Bayern Munich the German league title though 27 goals in 30 league matches should serve a good enough personal consolation for the striker. #Vain
Perhaps Real Madrid’s best performer this season through his assured play in defence and later on in midfield, his importance to the team became most glaring following an underserved red card in the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against arch-rivals Barcelona… the Catalans went on to score two goals afterwards and virtually seal its place in Wembley that night. #Gibraltar
Called upon on too many occasions to rescue Real Madrid, Casillas proved his class as a reliable goalkeeper time and again. #Reliance
Thanks for making Arsenal the butt of yet more disheartening jokes after letting slip of the Copa Del Rey trophy from the parade atop the Real Madrid winning train… we know the rest. #Slipshod
Not to say he is him but this is a bit how Jose Mourinho started… I’ll keep my eye on his teams and currently that’s FC Porto that he has guided to the league title and Europa League final in lethal, record breaking fashion; being the third youngest manager to win the Super Liga at 33 years, guiding FC Porto to amassing a massive 80 out of a possible 90 points in the league complemented by a run of 16 league matches won… all without any previous managerial experience? #HotShot
Queens Park Rangers
This very financially stable club has gained promotion to the most viable financial league in the world and I’m looking forward to QPR matches next season especially the London derbies. #Royal
Fernando Torres – Liverpool FC/Chelsea FC
He never should have been taken to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa having just recovered from an injury then but Vicente del Bosque chose to and El-Niño unfortunately had an overall campaign to forget. That poor form spilled into his early season at Liverpool from where his heart no longer resided, for whatever reasons and when Chelsea came with its ludicrous £50m bid for the Spaniard; despite his poor form up till then, the Reds gladly obliged. What followed was an even more farcical goal drought that lasted about 900 minutes over 13 matches and ended with some help from the heavens. Somehow, even at Chelsea, I still feel Torres would jump at the first offer from a Spanish club.
Marouane Chamakh – Arsenal FC
The Moroccan began life at the Emirates on a very good note, nodding in goal after goal but soon enough the English game told on the import from French side Girondins Bordeaux and his glaring inability to make full use of his lower limbs other than for jumping meant he soon began a goal drought and hence lost his place in the first team; especially with the mercurial form of top choice Robin van Persie. He can fall behind the excuse of “adapting to the English game” and the world should oblige him. Looking on the good side, he arrived at Arsenal on a free transfer… #GoFigure!
Nicklas Bendtner – Arsenal FC
Arsène Wenger’s continued faith in the Dane is some way off that God has in mankind but still… such faith is monumental even by human standards. Robin van Persie’s absence early in the season should have been Bendtner’s chance to prove his worth, he did not. A hat trick in the League Cup quarterfinal turned out just a flash in the pan and in the end, his season on loan at Birmingham City remains his most prolific on English soil and considering that the Blues were then in the Championship, says a bit about where he belongs.
Bebe – Manchester United
There’s something about not getting a return on an investment, it pisses one off. £7.5m for a virtual unknown recommended to Sir Alex Ferguson by none other than his two-time assistant at Old Trafford Carlos Quieroz and one would have expected the young Portuguese to at least show glimpses of what future holds for the faithful of the Theatre of Dreams alas, his first season was nothing short of nightmarish.
Heurelho Gomes – Tottenham Hotspur
Reliable safe hands when on his day, those hands prove outrageously calamitous on other occasions and Gomes had a fair share of mishaps in front of goal this season as five goals conceded were as a direct result of his blunder, a couple of others fortunately did not lead to goals.
Having won the UEFA Champions League in 2005/06 (2-1 vs. Arsenal) and again in 2008/09 (2-0 vs. Manchester United), Spanish giants C. F. Barcelona now appear to be favourites to once again reclaim Europe’s most prestigious club competition following the semi-final first leg matches. According to statistics (from Opta Sports) no club has overturned a 2-0 defeat in 15 attempts at the semi-final stage of this competition, a result the Catalans achieved on April 27 against fierce rivals Real Madrid; all the better at the Santiago Bernabeu home of the Merengues.
The result may have been different had Real’s Portuguese defender and a sturdy defensive midfielder of late Pepe not been sent off quarter of an hour into the second half with scores still goalless, albeit it would be biased to let that take the shine off the very well executed brace by Argentine phenomenon Lionel Messi whose second saw him weasel past four white shirts before finally slotting past Iker Casillas for his 52nd goal of the season in all competitions for Barcelona and 36th goal in all his Champions League appearances, which has seen him go past German legend Gerd Muller on the all time top-scorers list.
Meanwhile a repeat of the 2008/09 final is on the cards after the Red Devils finally got two goals past the impressive Manuel Neuer of Schalke 04 in the second half after the German goalkeeper kept his side in the tie with a string of saves in the first half. Barring what happens to any of the teams’ players in the second leg matches, Manchester United stand in better frame to match the ingeniousness of Barcelona. However, it would be very difficult for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to reclaim a trophy it won in the 2007/08 season.
First factor going against United is the unfair fluidity Pep Guardiola’s charges have attained when it comes to team play, which leaves opposition teams either having to play a faster pace game, have at least a 90% completion rate in its passing game and then have a minimum of three players that each can produce a moment of magic from any part of the pitch. There also is going about grinding the game to scrap, not allowing Barcelona the fluidity they have perfected and successfully implemented in a majority of matches in all competitions this season before then going about to win such match.
And yes, United’s attacking third comprising an in-form Wayne Rooney with goals and assists paired with this season’s revelation in perhaps all of Europe, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez with his great technique at positioning and not just goals scored but important match winners time and again that have seen him earn himself a starting shirt ahead of Dimitar Berbatov (left out completely in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Germany) can pose quite a threat to the rampaging Catalans.
This is complemented by Edwin van Der Sar who stands stalwart between the sticks, the imposing Nemanja Vidic who is the heart of the Red Devils’ defence and a midfield based more on effectiveness than on flair through veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs alongside Michael Carrick and Anderson with Nani especially and Antonio Valencia most capable of the flair part of the business.
All that said, whichever of the aforementioned midfielders Sir Alex puts in the starting line-up must play like they sometimes have over this season in order to not see Rooney having to come deep just to get a feel of the round leather, a scenario the Red Devils team must avoid otherwise Chicharito would be left isolated upfront and Rooney would have been taken some distance from a range where he can actually cause damage.
It would be the best starting Scholes as he has the ability to achieve a pass completion rate the Barcelona forwards enjoy supply from their midfield while starting Giggs would be a better idea than starting Luis Nani as the vastly experienced Welshman has been more consistent over the season and more so lately than the Portuguese whom one isn’t sure would turn up on match-day. Carrick is also capable of achieving a good pass completion rate but like Nani, one can never know which Michael would turn up on match-day.
Based on this seeming uncertainty in midfield that normally would not be glaring against most other oppositions, United may still just find Barcelona a riddle a bit too hard to sort out.
Seeing the starting XI, it was a little surprise the match at Old Trafford between Manchester United and Rangers of Scotland ended goalless while Werder Bremen’s previous experience in the competition came in handy in the German side’s draw at home to UEFA Champions League debutantes Tottenham Hotspur.
Against the Scots, the Red Devils were just a touch off being lethargic on the night largely thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson’s wisdom to ‘rest’ Edwin Van der Sar, Nani, Paul Scholes (for the love of God, your best performing midfielder?), Dimitar Berbatov (yes, the Bulgarian’s starting to put in performances deserving of the money spent to bring him here…three seasons after!) and Ryan Giggs, who only came on for the last half hour after Antonio Valencia suffered a bad looking ankle injury.
Before the introduction of Giggs, United desperately lacked verve, ideas to slice the visiting defence open; still props should be given for their performance on the night, and apparently the will to win the match as it were. Safe for Darron Gibson’s efforts from long range, it was a near ghastly show-up…near ghastly, it would have been ghastly had Rangers converted any one of its four shots on target.
So what was Sir Alex thinking with his selection for the night, especially in light of Valencia’s (the club now) ease of dispatching their Turkish hosts Bursaspor 4-0. The Spaniards are clearly faring well so far with life after the Davids – Villa and Silva – and former Getafe forward Roberto Soldado looked good in Turkey and rounded up the scoring there.
David Villa got on the score sheet as well for Barcelona that rallied from a 20th minute Sidnei Govou opener for Panathinaikos to see off the visiting Greeks 5-1 at Camp Nou in a match that saw Lionel Messi wreak havoc from right after the opening goal – even though he managed to miss a penalty ten minutes to half time.
Other results saw defending champions Inter Milan, as feared in this post http://wp.me/puIC6-3u found the trip to FC Twente not so rosy though the neutral and more especially the Twente fans will take the 2-2 draw any day. Argentine striker Diego Milito just can’t stop scoring though this time round, he got Twente’s second goal on the night in the Group A encounter. That group remains open for all clubs after an identical result was achieved despite Tottenham Hotspur leading 2-0 after 20 minutes of the match with goals either side of half time earning Werder Bremen a draw at home and a good point earned by Spurs.
Group B saw Benfica beat Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel 2-0 in Lisbon while Olympique Lyon could only manage a lone goal win at home to Schalke 04. Barcelona lead Group D on a healthy goal difference ahead of Danish side FC Copenhagen that left it late before defeating Obafemi Martins’ Rubin Kazan by a lone goal.
Due to that faltering ambition in the league, Liverpool could soon be in danger of becoming the other club of the Merseyside, a place held by an ever improving Everton that has the third longest serving manager in the Premier League, David Moyes.
The Toffees did very well last season, capping it with two wins in all competitions over Liverpool as it wrestled 5th spot from Aston Villa before losing gallantly to Chelsea at the final of the FA Cup.
And with Jo extending his loan deal for the whole of this season from Manchester City; wise choice, coupled with Louis Saha on the field more than under the knife, Tim Cahill being the thorn he always is from midfield alongside Marouane Fellaini and the return of James Vaughn and fan favourites Mikel Arteta and Yakubu Aiyegbeni from injuries, getting the goals won’t be a problem for Everton.
Keeping the back tight however could be, that is if the club succeeds in keeping Joleon Lescott from the lure of City’s approach all through the summer. Last time, City improved its bid for the fine defender from £18m to £22m.
And if Lescott were to leave, Moyes could find someone else to fill the void left with the money ala Philippe Senderos from Arsenal or from the reserves but either way, you get the feeling the club would come through whatever the outcome.
That cannot be said of Aston Villa which is struggling to keep Ashley Young from lurking suitors while former captain Gareth Barry moved on, but to Man. City and not a club playing in the Champions League as he had advertised all through last season.
Add that to a thin squad of players and 6th place might just be quite a shot to aim at for Martin O’Neill, the burn-out of Gabriel Agbonlahor and Young last season was evident in the destrucitve dip in form plus, John Carew and Emile Heskey; good as they are, do not have age on their side.
That allows a club such as Fulham to take the place of the Villans. Just as Redknapp at Spurs, Roy Hudgson as been able to manage the Cottagers well enough. Same can also be said of Steve Bruce at a new look Sunderland which has seen the arrival of striker Darren Bent, Lorik Cana from Marseille and Frazier Campbell from Manchester United to add to the likes of Kenwyne Jones and Kieran Richardson, hopefully the new era would bring better luck over the season for the Black Cats.
The exit of Emile Heskey mid last season to Villa plus Valencia to Man. United and manager Steve Bruce to Sunderland, Wigan Athletic has itself an uphill task of matching its 11th place finishing of last season.
Over at Upton Park however, Gianfranco Zola can work his relatively young West Ham United side higher up the Premier League cadre owing to a good first season in Premier League management though managing a young squad burdened with a league, Cup and Europa League programme could be the undoing of the London club.
It would be interesting to see how Portsmouth fares this season, especially if it is finaly bought by…you guessed it, a stinking rich Middle Eastern. But all the money comes to nothing when it is not matched with performances on the field of play and manager Paul Hart has a wealth of experienced players at his disposal but a bit more speed and youth would do a lot of good for the south coast club, the loss of Glen Johnson to Liverpool though…not a good sign for an already tired defence.
At Ewood Park, Sam Allardyce looked like he was still getting used to the change of environment from neighbours Bolton Wanderers evident in Rovers’ indifferent form over last season. The exit of Roque Santa Cruz to Man. City can be well managed knowing the sort of manager Allardyce is and he would be hoping his Croatian recruit along with Franco di Santo on loan from Chelsea till January help with issues upfront.
Bolton meanwhile found the ride even harder than Rovers and manager Gary Megson probably is not looking forward to the upcoming season with few key players lost last season and main striker Johan Elmander still getting accustomed to the Premier League after a very disappointing first season on arrival from Toulouse.
Even more disappointing however was Hull City. Then newly promoted, the Tigers were contenders for the Premier League title a quarter games into the season but a severe dip in form saw a reverse in aspirations and it had become a dg fight against relegation which the KC Stadium outfit achieved on the final day last season; a far less reliance on part time preacher Geovanni would go a long way in retaining the club’s Premier League status at the end of this season.
Finally, Wolverhampton Wanderers leads the newly promoted clubs into the Premier League, the others being Birmingham City and Burnley. And really, much cannot be said of newly promoted clubs…Hull were title contenders at the start of last season, by the end they were desperately fighting off relegation.
A word though on Burnley, it took Tottenham extra time to knock the club out at the semi-final of the League Cup last season after three Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Fulham, had failed to do same in earlier rounds.
The season begins on the weekend of August 15 with Arsenal’s visit to Everton the star match of the opening weekend alongside the reverse north London-Merseyside clash between Tottenham and Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Champions Man. United begin at home to Birmingham while Chelsea also start at home to Hull and Mark Hughes takes his star studded Man. City to old club and Lancashire neighbours Blackburn Rovers.
Opening weekend – Saturday, 15 August
Aston Villa v Wigan
Blackburn v Manchester City
Bolton v Sunderland
Chelsea v Hull
Everton v Arsenal
Manchester Utd v Birmingham
Portsmouth v Fulham
Stoke v Burnley
Tottenham v Liverpool
Wolves v West Ham
Following a frenzied summer in the transfer market, Premier League champions Manchester United have boosted its squad with the arrival of talented Ecuadorian winger Luis Antonio Valencia and veteran, well travelled 29 year old striker Michael Owen along with French youngster Obertan.
But it was a frenzied transfer summer and Real Madrid parted with a world record £80m for Portuguese ace Cristiano Ronaldo, before city rivals Manchester City paid £25m for the services of Argentine striker Carlos Tevez.
The major depletion of the United squad as well as the injury setback suffered by midfielder Owen Hargreaves has however left some doubt to the ability of the Red Devils to win a record fourth consecutive league title in 2010.
In come Chelsea that has brought in experienced Italian tactician Carlo Ancelotti and the arrival of Russian Yuri Zhirkov to boost an already strong squad that has the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, the three midfield Michaels and Ivorian forward Didier Drogba with his strike partner Nicholas Anelka who believes title rivals United are a tad bit weaker than last season now that CR7 (now CR9 by the way) and Carlito have left.
Which brings Manchester City into the picture. The richest club in the world (hate it or love it, that’s the fact) have mentioned themselves as serious contenders for the title and why not, Elano may have left for Galatasaray but Robinho, Craig Bellamy, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Stephen Ireland have been joined at the Eastlands by Gareth Barry from Aston Villa, Roque Santa Cruz from Blackburn Rovers, Tevez from city rivals United and former Emirate Stadium duo Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure.
Of course, these players arrived with the cliche of “it wasn’t for the money” but that is discussion for another time. However, City does look like they could challenge for the league title, on paper. In reality though, City could just end up finishing in a Europa League spot.
This is so because of the obvious imbalance in the team evident in the forward line; an attractive line but one that would be very difficult to manage, or more aptly satisfy with Santa Cruz and Adebayor not likely partners while Tevez has joined due to the promise of regular starts when Craig Bellamy and Robinho are around (?).
So maybe Tottenham Hotspur could be the club that would break the hold of the fabled ‘Big Four’ and last season’s form at the end after Harry “Houdini” Redknapp took over the reigns at White Hart Lane shows much promise for fans of the lilywhites that this season may just be it.
It would be even sweeter of it was arch-rivals Arsenal that was displaced from the Four at the end and just as it was at the start of the previous three seasons, Arsenal looks the weakest of the Four and most likely not to finish in the top four.
But just as in the three seasons before, Arsenal could yet go for the title and implode at the crucial stage, or simply meddle with 5th and 6th spot before a late surge sees the Gunners into fourth.
Unfortunately, Gooners may have to wait yet a further season before winning the league title last won in 2004 with manager Arsene Wenger again likely to not spend money in the market; not even half as much as gained in the same market.
The only arrival of reasonable mention at the Emirates is centre back Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax and the French tactician would rather rely on returning players Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky along with the core of the team ala Cesc Fabregas, Russian maestro Andrey Arshavin and (an injury unresistant) Robin van Persie to carry a young side through a gruelling season that once again will involve Champions League qualifying matches.
Arsenal, despite the ever present cloud of doubt, could fare better than Liverpool who have seen Alvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso join Real Madrid while long time target David Villa has become rather too pricey.
Star striker Fernando Torres got a good dose of tackles last season thus reducing his goal return (which however remained impressive to note) but more of those tackles and the work would be left to captain fantastic Steven Gerrard…not the ideal scenario when you’re desperately after a first league triumph in 20 years…and counting.