Category Archives: manchester united

Fantasy Guide: Third Edition- International Break Review, Part One

The international break is always a wearing time for fantasy managers. With often five or more starters making long stressful journeys overseas to play in pointless friendlies or, even worse, semi competitive qualifiers, the prospect of an injury crisis mounts without players ever earning fantasy points. However, for close observers these games can act as vital indicators – key factors in transfer decisions and substitutions.

A Few Fantasy Premier League Notes:


Gary Cahill the goalscorer- On the occasion of his first competitive start, Gary Cahill opened the scoring for England with an effort from close range. Interestingly, that goal was actually atypical of Cahill, more often than not his strikes are from long range, that opening day sucker punch against QPR an obvious example.


Rooney’s continues to pick up momentum- Wayne Rooney is fast becoming a must have fantasy player. With five goals in three Premier League games, he is the league’s second top goalscorer and is showing no sign of a drop off. Two against Bulgaria merely served to underline his classy displays of late – only a fool would leave him out.

Van Persie scores four- It’s difficult to know how much to read into this given that the opponent was San Marino and the final result 11-0. However, Van Persie will nevertheless savor his four goal haul; the striker has struggled for consistency over the league’s opening weeks. With the transfer window concluded, the sense is that Arsenal are ready to move on from August’s horror show, and maybe even start churning out a few wins. Any pick up in form is likely to be a function of Robin Van Persie goals, especially if new signings Benayoun and Arteta bed in well.

Park Chu Young scores three- Arsenal fans desperate for encouragement will have been relieved by Young’s performance here. Three goals in what is technically “The World Cup” is not to be scoffed at, even though the opposition was Lebanon. Young represents a fascinating, if perhaps risky, option up front.

Part Two coming after the second round of international fixtures.
In the mean time, enjoy the rest of our fantasy coverage.

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Time For England To Forget Messiahs

To ask English football to learn, is usually to ask too much. In the cycle of perpetual misfortune,¬†England have carved themselves a comfortable little place – one festooned with cushions, lights and running water by the very men and women who pray for better everyday.Wayne Rooney and Jesus Christ have a lot in common. Both are featured in best selling books – Rooney’s albeit, of a more recent publication – both have faced trials and tribulations, births and resurrections and both at one point or another have offered hope to a group of disciples, disillusioned with the current state of things.

Both are messiahs. Just as Jesus rose, quickly, stealthily from anonymity, Rooney did too. Rooney scored, Jesus preached. The parallels are there for all to see, the overlap between the lives of two seemingly polar opposite characters.

But then again, it isn’t really a shock that comparisons have been made. Religious undertones are an ever present in modern day football reporting – symptomatic of the way religion has been used to articulate the feelings of fans, players and clubs over the last century.

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Manchester Sends Out A Remarkable Message

Somewhere, an Arsenal fan just hanged himself. The malaise which the Gunners have slipped into over the past couple weeks was one that most saw coming – a function of questionable transfer business and an unfortunate series of injuries.

However, to concede eight goals, even at a venue like Old Trafford, is an unprecedented feat of self destruction. If he stays, Wenger better make sure he hasn’t got plans for Thursday nights anytime over the next eighteen months.

In many ways, playing in the Europa League is more manifestly demoralizing than not participating in Europe at all. Every week critics are reminded that their favorite punching bag dropped down a tier or so – just look at pre Kenny Dalglish Liverpool…

For all the goals and excitement, Sunday was a somber day of football. On the East coast of the US at least, all that happened was engulfed in the surreal atmosphere of a New Jersey hurricane, one which managed to deny this writer his fill of Premier League action. Moreover, the nature of North London’s demise was anything but pleasurable. What was once a set of closely fought fixtures began to gravitate towards the farcical – Roy of the Rovers stuff from Edin Dzeko but just the opposite from Arsene Wenger…

Both Spurs and Arsenal will seek comfort in the other’s annihilation – Tottenham fans pointing to the six goal margin, Arsenal ones to the White Hart Lane venue. Neither set of supporters can take much solace in their teams’ transfer activity though. If Harry Redknapp plans to replace a clearly unsettled Luka Modric with Scott Parker then, possibly, Park Chu Young won’t be labeled the least able replacement of the summer.

Clearly, there are problems in key areas that need solving. Spurs have yet to be vindicated in their purchase on loan of Emmanuel Adebayor, while Arsenal continue to toil in their quest for a central defender. In certain Manchester nemeses, no such weaknesses are apparent.

Rather than expose new signing David De Gea, Manchester United’s supposed “crisis” at the back resulted in the delivery of an ominous message. Jones and Smalling are both in Fabio Capello’s England squad for qualifiers coming up next month – two savvy buys by Ferguson, more proof that the Scotsman will never let his team grow stale.

Danny Welbeck too has made waves, now tied as the league’s second most prolific Englishman, the academy product is just a hat trick off teammate Wayne Rooney. His rise over the last seven days has been remarkable, unfortunate then that he was omitted from the England squad due to an injury

Across town Manchester City’s depth comes from money rather than development, with new acquisitions like Aguero continuing to shine brightly, and old ones like Dzeko just starting to. Their attacking fluidity is reminiscent of Arsenal at their best, though the support which Fabregas and Nasri never had at The Emirates is provided by a healthy backbone of Toure, De Jong and Kompany.

City may have taken multiple tries to get to the top, but in the end their hit and hope approach to market usage has trumped Arsenal’s measured and conservative one. Perhaps the success of Mancini, Sheikh Mansour and Gary Cook is indicative of the modern game – the long term rewards that City’s money will bring should stretch out farther even than Wenger’s infamous six years.

At the Etihad Stadium, City are poised for a shot at greatness. They have well and truly out muscled their adversaries. No longer will Spurs catch them at the death to claim Champions League qualification, no longer even will Arsenal worry them in pursuit of prizes yet grander.

And in that truth, there is sadness. Call it nostalgia if you will, but the destruction of two teams once celebrated is one not worthy of jubilation. Many find joy in others’ misfortune – the Germans even have a word for it – but no matter how many goals Manchester racked up, there was never going to be any happiness about Sunday’s striking bonanza.

Samir Nasri Adds Fuel To Derby Fire

When Manchester City were taken over by Sheikh Mansour on September 1st 2008, we could feel the tectonic plates of football shifting. With City’s takeover, a new era of football in England began, one which would clearly go some way to changing the guard in the upper echelons of the English game. 

All of a sudden there was a new player in the Champions League qualification race, a team determined to dethrone the legendary big four, determined to match and then surpass their rivals achievements. From day one of the new ownership, Manchester City have been actively trying to forge themselves a place alongside English football’s elites, the signing of Robinho was just the start of an almighty revolution. 
It took City more than a year to finally begin competing for the Champions League place that they had so craved, 2008/09 proved to be a year of transition more than anything else, early talk of silverware was soon washed away by a wave of mediocrity. 
In 09/10 the Citizens continued to fight; under the stewardship of first Mark Hughes and then Roberto Mancini their rivalry with neighbors Manchester United began to intensify. First to ignite what was a bristling rivalry, was an epic 4-3 loss at Old Trafford which sowed the seeds of Mark Hughes departure, prompted fits of delirium from United supporters everywhere, and had every known reporter sitting in front of a TV with their stopwatches going…
Later that same season, with Mancini at the helm, City clashed with United again, this time in the Carling Cup. Rarely had a League Cup semi final been as hotly anticipated as this one, both United and City dearly wanted to win, and a two-one victory at Eastlands for City had set the tie up for a brilliant second leg at Old Trafford. Again, a late Red Devils show helped Fergie’s team to prevail, as a Rooney header early in stoppage time sent United to Wembley, and City to another trophy less season. A year later though, City would finally have their revenge.
 It is difficult to put into words the pain felt by supporters of Manchester City throughout their long, long barren spell. Watching their rivals, year after year, parade trophy after trophy through the streets of Manchester must have been a chastening experience, one that produced much frustration; frustration that was soon to be released. Victory in the FA Cup semi final of 2011 was the first major achievement of the “new City.” The noisy neighbors had finally broken down the Old Trafford door, and let the dog out to urinate on the lawn to boot. A win over Stoke a month later in the final confirmed the ending of an era, as City at last claimed that sought after trophy. Additionally, qualification to the Champions League just days earlier meant that the men from Manchester could finally count themselves as part of Europe’s elite. 
However, for all their battles in the league, cup competitions and in the stands, we have never really had a true Manchester transfer tug of war. Yes, Dimitar Berbatov was briefly in line to figurehead the City revolution, but the lateness of City’s bid insured that there was never any destination other than Old Trafford that was feasible for the lanky Bulgarian. Carlos Tevez as well, left United to join City, but he was never directly sold, the Argentinean joined the Sky Blues as part of a bizarre contractual permutation far too complicated for any honest football fan to claim they understood fully. Even Yaya Toure, who came out after signing for the Sky Blues to denounce United, was never as clear and important a target to United as he was to City. 
In Samir Nasri though, we have finally found our transfer battle, one that could become so fierce as to warrant mention in the history books mapping this ever growing rivalry. Nasri is the type of player needed by Manchester United, a versatile creator capable of playing on either wing or through the middle, just the man to provide the Devils with the innovative spark they so lacked last season. For City, the signing of Nasri would represent a statement of intent, a coup large enough to give them a realistic chance of Premier League success, and to insure progress to the latter stages of the Champions League. 
What transpires in the next couple of weeks between United and City, will give us a realistic idea of where City lie in Manchester’s monumental power struggle, for the first time a player will have the opportunity to publicly turn down United for City, an opportunity to let the entire footballing World know that the Sky Blues mean business. 
If United and City needed anymore motivation to beat each other, then this latest battle will provide it. Those two have already locked horns on the playing field, and now their perpetual struggle has been translated to the transfer game as well.


This article was originally published by The Chairman on Football Speak
Follow The Chairman on Twitter @INFTH

Macheda Entering Last Chance Saloon

It is a moment that all United fans will remember forever, one which has gone down in Old Trafford folklore, and helped push Fergie’s men over the line towards title number eighteen. Some commentators weren’t even pronouncing his name correctly at the time, but Macheda’s last gasp winner over Aston Villa in April 2009 was just vintage United.

Since then though, the Italian’s career has entered a bit of a trough, promoted from the reserves, Macheda was only ever able to score a handful of goals for the Red Devils; four in total, two in 08/09 and one last season, to go with one the season before.

This year, the arrival of Chicharito Hernandez pushed the Italian U21 international lower and lower down the pecking order, until Fergie deemed it appropriate to send him out on loan for the remainder of last season. Unfortunately, Macheda’s move to Sampdoria proved ill fated; the young striker struggled for form in a team that was eventually relegated to Serie B. Trying to fill the boots of players like Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini proved too difficult for the one time Old Trafford hero, raising doubts about his future filling in for even bigger stars like Rooney and Hernandez.

Now, Macheda has returned to Old Trafford, and delivered a message of intent, stating his desire to remain with the Red Devils. Whether or not United sign or sell a star striker this summer, Macheda will find it difficult to break into the first team, so the chances he is presented with must be pounced upon.

Ferguson is renowned for his patience, he is always willing to give players second chances at proving themselves, and Macheda will need that second chance. A couple of match winning performances two years ago forced a reputation on the lad that he wasn’t ready to live up to, a reputation which has only provoked disappointment.

Not every player is good enough to consistently perform for United, and Macheda is beginning to run out of chances to prove that he is part of that select few. His turn and shot against Aston Villa was one of the most sensational pieces of skill ever enjoyed by the Old Trafford faithful, but there have been too many missed chances and mishit passes since then; mistakes which have frustrated fans that much more due to the Italian’s early exploits.

Alongside players like Welbeck, Diouf and Obertan, Macheda is entering a last chance saloon; one final, golden opportunity to become a key part of the Manchester United squad. What comes of Macheda’s cameo showings in the opening weeks of next season could end up defining his career, he has reached a crossroads, one direction points to glory the other to mediocrity-probably in Serie A.

As the start of the new season draws closer and closer, Macheda must begin to prepare himself for the challenges ahead, and the battle that looms if he is to force his way back into the first team. As a devoted follower of “Kiko” throughout his Untied career, I hope that he manages to impress, and eventually moves alongside Zola in the pantheon of the Premier League’s Italian stars.

Will Macheda play a starring role next season?

This article was originally published by The Chairman/David Yaffe-Bellany on Red Flag Flying High
Follow David Yaffe-Bellany on Twitter @INFTH

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