Watfords’s Title Hopes Suffer Setback

Related image

Domestic football is back after two weeks of the Nation’s League/United Nation’s/Legion of Doom group games. This new format will be a blight on our intake of Premier League action this year but at least United’s players might actually play well for their country! I joke, I joke.
Mourinho has always been a master of using his press conference’s and post-match interviews to draw the attention away from a poor performance. He did so yesterday, going on several rants about the media and Rashford’s playtime. He has been under a lot of criticism and pressure lately due to Pogba talking to the media. If a player spoke to the media like that in Fergie’s time he would have surely been shown the door. Nevertheless, the game has changed and the rest of the players seem to be not openly disrespectful.

Today’s game against Watford was an important one. United had to build on the impressive 2-0 away win against Burnley before the break. There was no Rashford this week due to his red card in the previous match, so it looked like Martial would get a chance to impress as a substitute. Pogba played supremely for France against Germany and United fans were wondering why he couldn’t do the same for them? Calibre of player? Desire? Relationship with the manager? All three, probably.

The match started off in promising fashion with Lukaku coming close only to be stopped by former United keeper, Ben Foster. Quickly, though, the first half turned into a Watford special. They constantly threatened the back four. Smalling and Lindelof held true but the threat remained everpresent in the first thirty five minutes.
The match was turned on its head when Lukaku used his stomach to push the ball into an empty net from a delflected Ashley Young cross. Two minutes later, Big Mike Smalling scored a peach of a volley from close range. His haircut might be suspect but his finishing was not.
All in all, United could be happy with the first half, successfully defending and scoring alike. Mourinho looked jubilant when Smalling’s goal went in which is always nice to see.

The second half started the same way as the first, with Watford quickly settling in and getting a hold on the game. This time they didn’t let go. Their constant pressure culminated with a fine Gray goal in the 65th minute. Others would have followed but for the fine performance of Fellaini on the edge of the box clearing wayward crosses. Young played well on the left.
Pogba had a much freer role in the first half which allowed him to play his flowing style of football. Watford pressed higher in the second half and, especially after they scored their goal, upped the pressure for the full forty-five, meaning Pogba wasn’t allowed as much time on the ball. As well as this, his teammates weren’t showing for him as much as they should.
Martial came on with twenty minutes to go and made little impact bar a close chance.

Watford came dangerously close in the 93rd minute, DeGea repeating his first half heroics with an absolutely brilliant save from a close-range header. He really is United’s best and most consistent player. He’s also in my fantasy team, so thank fuck for that.
United were lucky to come away with the three points but that’s two wins on the trot. Hopefully the performance will be better in the Champions League opener against Young Boys this week.

Top Three Performers

De Gea: Many impressive saves as usual but the two close-range stops, one from the ground and one from a header in the last minute show us once again how valuable De Gea is to the club.

Fellaini: Two good games in a row for Sideshow Bob. In all seriousness, he made some extremely important tackles and assisted the second goal. Fair play.

Young: The absence of Luke Shaw worried a lot of United fans, for the right reasons. Young played well today in his defensive capabilities, crossing in the ball for Lukaku’s goal also.

Honorary Mentions: Lukaku had a good game up front, bagging another goal and making an impressive backtracking run in the dying minutes to stop the Watford counter-attack.
Gray up front for Watford always impressed me when he was at Bournemouth, and he played well today too, finishing well for his goal and holding the ball up well.

An Uncertain Start

Image result for manchester united crest

It has been an awkward beginning to the season for Manchester United. A winning, if slightly shaky, start against Leicester gave us three points off the bat which was unpleasantly followed by two losses on the trot; a 3-2 embarrassment against Brighton and a 3-0 hammering by Spurs. The 2-0 victory over Burnley over the weekend gave the fans some hope and restored some of the faith in the players and the manager.

The two losses, to Brighton and Spurs respectively, were tough to watch. United seemed to be nervous in the back line for the whole of the Brighton game. The goals we scored were a penalty and a good piece of situational awareness by Lukaku, which gave some of us hope for the Tottenham game. That obviously didn’t pan out as he missed in front of an open goal after rounding Lloris brilliantly. The French goalkeeper was still absolutely steamin’ after he was caught drink driving. What a lout!
All jokes aside, the first half of the Tottenham game was OK. We attacked well and created opportunities, some of which should have been put away. That’s right, Rom, I’m talking about you again. Don’t @ me. However, within ten seconds of the restart, the defenders who had played so well in the first half, fell apart and allowed two easy goals past them. The third goal was painful to watch, especially as Moura eased past Smalling, who had played well by my estimations in the first half.
Following this loss, Twitter was abound with calls for Mourinho’s head and for Woodward to be burned alive at the stake.  Many fans wanted him gone immediately and for someone with a more attacking style of play to be instated. Others wanted all the fans’ total backing of the manager and the players. It was vintage Premier League era views on the value of a manager and how high his success rate should be.

As I just said, United fans seem to be divided into a, “Sack him now’, or a,”Back him until he’s sacked’, point of view. Neither option glows favourably on Mourinho and how he is pervceived by the fans. I would tend to agree with the second option. It is perfectly fine to want a new manager if the quality of football is declining and if the results are against us. However, it is a whole other thing to keep harping on about the manager when certain players aren’t pulling their weight or are in a slump. I do believe that Mourinho will be gone by the end of the season (as I don’t see us challenging for the top 3, especially if this level of play keeps up) but if he isn’t, and if the results are good enough that warrant him staying, then I won’t care. If he is gone and the results warrant him going then I’ll be delighted to welcome a new manager to the club, preferably one with an attacking style. I will not be happy if Mourinho is gone so early in the season because of outcry over the fans due to lack of spending in the transfer market; a transfer market that we trust Ed Woodward with, and who should be blamed.
Despite all this talk about Mourinho and whether he will have a job come the end of this year or the season, there have been some positives in the first four games.

  • Luke Shaw has been trememndous in the last three games for United. He has been bombing up and down the left wing, cutting in and getting the ball in dangerous areas, especially in the last two games. He seems to have responded well to Mourinho’s criticisms last year, and perhaps this success story will be what Mourinho needs to keep his job.
  • Andreas Pereira has had a solid opening to the season. I was delighted that he didn’t get loaned out, and the fact that he is with the Brazil sqaud for the International Break is testament to his prowess in the last few years.
  • Lukaku seems to have found his scoring boots in the last few games, even if he did forget them in the dressing room against Tottenham. Despite that glaring miss, I do hope he continues this run of scoring.
  • Alexis has continued to be the most creative player on the pitch. Even though he does frustrate me with how much he loses the ball, he is always trying to create something. He is a pleasure to watch and I think this will be the season where he starts to produce much more for us, especially with Champions League football back on the horizon.

It has been an uncertain start and it looks like it will get more confusing before we begin to see consistent results. That doesn’t bode well for José but it mightn’t do us fans any bad. We’re so used to success, trophies and accolades that perhaps another year in the wilderness of mediocrity will humble us before our inevitable rise to the top of English and world football. Before I start to go into a Third Reich style speech I will end this brief analysis of our season so far. Our next match is against Watford, who are also not to be taken lightly, especially seeing as they are joint top of the table! A bad result there could bring the Special One’s teetering empire toppling down.

It’s Back!

Image result for premier league is back

Rejoice, one and all! The Premier League returns today with the evening game between Manchester United and Leicester City. This summer has been choc full of sporting action. The World Cup was a fantastic tournament as always and threw up plenty of surprises, while the new system for the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship has given us some of the greatest battles in recent memory. However, when the hurling and the football are finished come September, we will not be facing any vacuum of sport as the Premier League will take its place on our T.V.s and, I daresay, in our hearts.

The hidden beauty of the World Cup is that it shields us from the rancid nature of the transfer window. I, personally, didn’t pay much attention to the window this year, opting to look to the wall until the sweat dropped down my balls. Ah, skeet skeet, motherfucker! Ah, skeet skeet, God Damn. The rumours I did pay attention to, though, I have jotted down here along with reasons as to why they will help or hinder their new team.

 

Arsenal

Arsenal’s new boss, Emery, has brought in a few meaningful signings. Lichsteiener arrived on a free from Juventus while Sokratis (I’m not typing his last name), from Dortmund, joined for an undisclosed fee. Lichsteiner enjoyed Switzerland’s decent run at this year’s World Cup and has been a solid performer for Juventus over the last couple of years. He and Sokratis will shore up the back line with Mertesacker retiring. Goalkeeper Bernd Leno, from Bayer Leverkusen, also signed as Cech, despite still performing well at this late stage in his career, will surely finish up or leave Arsenal in the next season or two. However, have ye seen the picture of Cech? What an absolute unit that man is.

Image result for petr cech beef

“Tell Stephen Hunt I just want to talk about what happened.”

Burnley

Sean Dyche’s men are still unsure whether they will be playing European football this season. They have the second leg of their third qualifying round next Thursday against Istanbul Basaksehir. The tie is tensely poised at 0-0 on aggregate and with Burnley playing at home they will have to be on song to secure a place in Europe’s second-tier competition. They had a phenomenal season last season but unfortunately their first choice and second choice keepers are injured. Nick Pope, who was a star last season, was injured during Europa League qualifying against Aberdeen and will probably be out until Christmas.
Joe Hart has been drafted in on a two year deal from Man. City. Hart has had a torrid few years; losing favour at the Etihad after one too many blunders was followed up by loan spells at Torino and West Ham respectively, both of which ended with, let’s say, mixed reviews. Hart has been remembered at both clubs for his knack for misjudging the flight of the ball or rushing off his line when he doesn’t have the pace he once did. Perhaps Burnley’s defensive set up will help him regain some form.

Chelsea

Chelsea also have a new manager this year. Maurizio Sarri, who made Napoli serious contenders in Italy over the last three years, has brought in some exciting signings in the form of Jorginho, from Napoli, and Kovacic on loan from Real Madrid. Kepa, the new keeper from Athletic Bilbao, was bought to replace the loss of Thibaut Courtois, the gigantic Belgian, to Real Madrid. However, a part of me thinks that Sarri might be clinically insane, as he also bought Rob Green from Huddersfield. There is no doubt that Green is a good keeper, but at this extremely late stage in his career he must be pinching himself. Who can forget his gaffe against the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup?

A lot of keepers make mistakes in big games, including De Gea in this World Cup, but Green had also made many mistakes domestically. Perhaps he’ll be used in the F.A. Cup and he’ll shine. Who knows? I do. He won’t.

Liverpool

The Scousers played the most attractive football in the League last year. The partnership of Firmino, Mane and Salah was a a joy to behold as a football fan and a horror to witness as a Liverpool hater. Klopp is still at the helm and I can’t wait to see what mad antics he gets up to on the line this year. Every time his team comes close or is pinning the opposition defence down, he makes a face at the crowd as if his team is on a roll and he just won a free-in from the 21 in the All-Ireland final.
They’ve made some great signings this summer, most notably Fabinho from Monaco and Keita from Leipzig. However, I think their best signing will be Shaqiri, who spent the last few years languishing at Stoke. He proved he can do it on a rainy night in Stoke and he proved in the International Champions Cup over the last few weeks that he can do it anywhere, He’s a special talent for such a little, blocky man.
They also signed Alisson from Roma as Klopp finally realized that his keepers were shite. Although Liverpool did put seven goals past him against Roma last year. So…yeah. Best of luck ye pricks!

Man. City

Guardiola and the rest of the blue wankers have finally added Riyad Mahrez, 2016 Premier League Player of the Year, to their squad. See, I can’t even write as descriptively as I want when I’m talking about Man. City. Liverpool was a stretch and a half to write about but Man. City get nothing but hatred from me.
I know that United fans get a lot of slack for being from anywhere but Manchester. That is true. The brand has grown and enveloped the whole world. Some fans know that we have to hate City and that that game is the most important of the season, no matter the standings, but I’ve always hated City. Reading up about United when I was young, I found out that City and Denis Law, our former star striker, relegated us to the second division with a FUCKING BACK HEEL GOAL in 1974. I still remember reading that and just wanting to get sick. Then there was a period in the 2002/03 season, I believe, when City and Robbie Fowler beat us 4-1. Tough times. Dark times. But good for them, they got Mahrez. Shitheads.

Manchester United

The majority of United fans are angry and frustrated with the way the transfer window has gone this summer. After an initial increase in activity just before the World Cup it seemed that Woodward and Mourinho just put the feet up and went back to choosing which young stars to send out on loan.
Diogo Dalot signed from Porto. The young Portuguese national (Portuguesan?) has been praised by sports sites all over the web but I can guarantee you that only a small handful of them knew who he was before he signed for United. I didn’t. And I’m one of the feckin’ best! Hopefully he can be a good back up for Bailly, if the African is fit. Oh, God I hope so.

The marquee signing was of course Fred from Shaktar Donetsk. The Brazilian didn’t see any action during the World Cup but did look good in spots against Madrid in the International Champions Cup. He will be effective in the middle between Matic and Pogba, if Pogba doesn’t go to Barca. If he isn’t, just don’t @ me. How good was his announcement video, though?
The best bit of business that Mourinho did, however, was to keep Andreas Pereira at the club instead of sending him out on loan for the fiftieth time. He excelled in midfield during our friendly matches and just looks like a complete attacking midfielder. Here’s hoping he can deliver.

Wolves

Wolves are going to finish in the top half of the table this season. They destroyed all in their path last year to comfortably win the Championship, with just a little help from Chinese owners, super agent Jorge Mendes and high calibre players such as Neves. They have added Moutinho and Rui Patricio from Portugal to their impressive squad, as well as Boly to shore up their back line and Afobe to continue scoring goals. I know that it takes time for new players to gel together but when one of those players, Patricio, is the starting goalie for the Portuguese national team, then you know he will fit in to any club. Watch this space.

It’t tough to know who will finish where this season but I can’t look past City as eventual winners for a second year in a row. Chelsea have added wisely to their squad so they will be in the top four. Liverpool have also added wisely but their ability to fall short is amazing and hilarious. Arsenal have not added enough firepower for my liking and will finish outside the top four. I would like to think that United will be in the top two again, and hopefully the gap will be closer this time. We will see. Anyways, get excited!

 

 

Transfer Shmansfer

We’re at that weird part of the summer where transfer rumours are splashed onto every back page but no real football is being played. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a vested interest in the G.A.A. have been spoiled, especially with the hurling. However, for sole fans of the Premier League, watching your team play against the Madrid reserves and barely scrape by is not that enjoyable. Yes, Mourinho, I know you read this blog and that was aimed at you. Don’t @ me.
That’s the reason that I sometimes write about home or about personal stuff, because I can’t for the life of me bring myself to tell ye what I think about the latest shite rumour to come out about United and their transfers. Oh, we’re getting Neymar and Messi, and Ronaldo’s going to come back to us the year after? And then Mbappe is joining us too? Unreal, man, great news. Fuck right off and stop spamming my Twitter feed with that shite. I want to see Paddy Power jokes and the odd gif of a dog being cute. I don’t need your thoughts on a transfer that is never going to happen. I’ve been stung before and I know what I’m worth. I am fierce. I am the night.

The first time I properly experienced this was with Owen Hargreaves. I know. He did eventually join United, winning the Champions League in 2008 before injury added a shade of disappointment to his stint at the club. However, for years before he joined I was hearing rumours and gossip on the news and the papers about Hargreaves joining. He was a fantastic footballer and I was fully sure he was coming. I would brag to my friends about how he was going to help us overcome Chelsea and once again claim our positions as the rightful champions of England.
I say, ‘we’, and whenever I’m drunk I pump out RA tunes like it’s going out of fashion. Lolz.
Anyways, I was talking shite because the gossip remained gossip and I was slagged to no end, cursing Hargreaves and the media for making a fool out of me. That’s why i write these blogs. For revenge. I’m going to rise to the top, defeating Murdoch and Branson in the final level and bring the media down from within. Nah, I was just too sensitive as a child and would take any light joke as a personal insult. I like to think I am better now and my temper has cooled but my housemates think I’m not a morning person and that I’m a grump. That’s not true. What I am not, is I’m not ready for a full on conversation while I’m trying to eat my cereal. So I’m calling ye out. Tom and John. There’s a fight down Woodlawn way tomorrow on Martha Ave. Bring yere best men and I’ll bring mine. Actually, we’re all very close friends so they’ll probably be the same guys. Is it worth it? Is any of this worth it? Did Tom really drop his trousers in front of those girls in Austin? Did Brian really punch that police horse in the face? We may never know.

I know that I am biased, but I feel like Manchester United get a disproportionate amount of transfer rumours each year when compared to the other big clubs around the world. I realise that Real Madrid and Barcelona and the like do get associated with monstrous money moves with young stars on the rise, but United get everything else. Apparently every Brazilian who has ever played football is moving to Old Trafford after Fred signed. The fact of the matter is that Old Trafford and Manchester United are not that attractive an idea anymore. Since the departure of the great Sir Alex Ferguson, there has been a lack of silverware and the style of play has deteriorated. Mourinho has disappointed me, and while I don’t want to be too harsh, because I know he’s a great follower of my thoughts and quips, he needs a big push in quality this season if he is going to stay on. He also needs two more transfers and needs to stop bashing the players after every game. I also wonder how many more players are going to be associated with United before the window is closed? Wesley Sneijder again, perhaps? That man is going to be retired and living happily in the Dutch countryside when he gets a call from Ed Woodward. “We’d love for you to come and finally join us. We could use your in-swinging free kicks in a big way.”

To answer a few questions from earlier: Yes, it is all worth it; yes, Tom dropped trou in front of a group of girls in a bar in Austin and they screamed and fled; and no, Brian did not punch a police horse in the face. He was simply whispering something into the animal’s ear and they both had a good laugh over the whole incident. They remain friends to this day. Chat ye next week!

That’s All Folks

Image result for that's all folks

So, that’s it. The World Cup is over. Significant others all around the world who don’t have much interest in international football can rejoice. Television sets can be used by members of the family other than the dads and the older brothers. Ladies, ye can now unleash all of the recorded episodes of Love Island upon your fella. He has no argument anymore. You’ve waited it out. You’ve sat in the trenches. You’ve prayed to a God you were never really sure you believed in. Sure, you went to Mass every Sunday but there was always a doubt in your mind as to the truth. Is there a God? Anyways, you’ve prayed to something that this match doesn’t go to extra time. Now it’s your turn. Own it. Milk it.

In fairness, this World Cup has been tremendous. There has been some amount of worldies scored and a surprising amount of upsets. The two Kings of football, Ronaldo and Messi, exited in the second round, while the previous champions, Germany, left us in the group stages. Hahahahaha. I tipped Argentina and Germany to both possibly go on and win the tournament. I was so naïve then, so green. I had forgotten how ruthless international football could be. Still, the big stars for Germany and Argentina didn’t turn up at all. The same could be said for Portugal despite Ronaldo having a stormer of a first game.
It was an amazing World Cup, in my opinion and every World Cup has stellar moments. This one had countless such moments but I was either asleep or working for a lot of them so here are my five moments that made me say, “Wow, this is one of the best moments of the World Cup. I hope someone puts it in a list format on a blog. Wait a second. I could do it. I’m gonna do it.” And a part of me hopes they made you think that too. But don’t even think of starting a rival blog. And don’t @ me.

 

  1. Batshuayi kicking the ball into his own face.

This was the funniest thing I had seen in any sport in a long time. Third game of the group stage. England v. Belgium. The winner would go on to face the harder route to the final but would still obtain the bragging rights. A tense opening half saw us into a scoreless draw at half time. Adnan Januzaj, a player who failed to cement a place in United’s starting XI, stepped up in the 50th minute and unleashed a stunning, curling shot into the top corner, past the fingertips of former child film star of This is England, Thomas Turgoose (look it up). Celebrations ensued and Chelsea player, Michy Batshuayi, picks up the ball and with the intention of kicking the ball with force into the back of the net to show how fired up he is, proceeds to kick the ball and watch helplessly as it ricochets back into his fucking face. See for yourself.

 

 

  1. Mbappes lightning pace

The second round clash between France and Argentina was probably one of the best matches of the whole tournament, just behind the group game between Spain and Portugal. It ended 4-3 in favour of the frog bastards, obviously, as they won the whole thing, with Argentina scoring a late goal to make a French dominated second half more exciting. Kylian Mbappe scored two important goals and made his mark on world football but his turn of pace to get the penalty to open the scoring was frightening. He left Rojo in his dust and if you look at it in slow motion, he actually turns around mid run, puts is hand in his shorts as if to get something out of his pocket for Rojo, then pulls his hand back out and gives him the middle finger. Rojo, enraged, rugby tackles Mbappe to the ground, shouting, “Fool me once, shame on you!” Frightening times.

 

  1. Pavard’s bending beauty

I didn’t know who Benjamin Pavard was before this World Cup and I won’t lie to you when I say that if he stays at Stuttgart I won’t know much about him afterwards, but after a brilliant, consistent tournament he can almost be sure of a starting place in many of Europe’s elite clubs. His half-volley in the second round clash against Argentina was just outstanding and is probably the goal of the tournament. Bravo.

 

 

  1. Ronaldo’s Free Kick

The game was tensely poised at 3-2 to Spain in the opening game for them and Portugal. Ronaldo was on a hatrick and standing over a free kick in the 88th minute. He had bested De Gea twice already and was looking to provide some magic and rescue a point for his team. He spread his legs about shoulder width apart, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. The sweat was beading down his face, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. The concentration was etched onto his face, almost as if he was preparing for a mondo deuce. And then he kicked the metaphorical mondo deuce into the top right hand corner of the net, a hapless De Gea watching the round turd spin past him.

 

  1. Belgium’s Surprise Attack

 

Image result for wwe

 

In what turned out to be one of the more surprising and controversial events of the World Cup, there was an attack on the French players right after the final whistle. The whole stadium went black. The crowd remained silent, thinking this to be a gimmick by the tournament event manager. Suddenly, the Belgian anthem started playing. The lights slowly began to rise again as a group of about thirty men, all wearing Roy Hodgson masks, appeared at the end of the tunnel. They began to storm the pitch and beat the French players with steel tables, ladders and chairs. Two or three of the Hodgson’s would hold a French player down and another would frogsplash onto him, all the while gesticulating at the crowd. Jim Ross was doing guest commentary on the tournament for some reason I haven’t made up yet and said of the incident, “Bah Gawd, they just broke that man in half!” Eventually, the group removed their masks, revealing themselves to be the Belgian team. Vince McMahon and Vladimir Putin could not be reached for a comment. The group is still at large.

 

I hope ye enjoyed this trip to my brain. Don’t worry either, lads, as there are plenty of sports on for the rest of the summer, and then the beloved Premier League is back. Best of luck!

Sit down. It’s time we had the (transfer) talk.

Image result for Fellaini pele

Ladies and gentlemen, step right this way. The Great Fellaini has one last trick up his sleeve. He has managed to trick one more big club into allegedly offering to pay for his services. A.C. Milan are reported to be set to strike a deal with Utd for the Belgian midfielder for three years. By God. Milan might not be the titans of football they were about a decade ago but you wouldn’t put them and Fele together in any scenario. Maybe in a sort of club swap parody of Wife Swap. It would be aired on E4 weekly and we’d get to see Fellaini’s shenanigans in the fashion capital of the world. Oh, the afro possibilities!

As a seasoned Manchester United fan I now approach the summer transfer window with disdain. Sure, I look at the rumours and say, ‘Jaysus he’d be good’, but I never actually believe. We’ve been linked with so many notable names over the years that it’s hard to pick the best/funniest one. A report went around last year we were going to sign Neymar for over $200 million. Fuck off. We were linked with Owen Hargreaves for so long that I initially didn’t believe he played for us until weeks into the season. Granted, I think I turned 13 that year and had just discovered that girls were a thing. Every summer the ‘Ronaldo Return’, articles start pouring out. I don’t even want him back anymore. Keep the world’s best player (don’t @ me, Messi fans).

Despite all the bullshit and the fact that the World Cup has yet to be played, there seems to be a positive lead, mixed in with a few transfers based on pure conjecture. Let’s take a look.

Fred – Shaktar Donetsk

Image result for Fred the red

This Brazilian plies his trade in the Ukrainian league, making people take note of him in the Champions league this year and domestically with his skill and loping through balls. He turned 25 in March (what have I done with my time on this Earth?), and despite not scoring many goals he is a proven provider. It would be interesting to see him sitting in a midfield three of Pogba and Matic, providing Pogba pulls his socks up this season and performs the way he can and does/did for France and Juventus. Fred is only 5’7″, so will be dwarfed next to the two giants.
Apparently this is a done deal, according to Di Marzio on Twitter. Fred will cost 50 million Stirling, providing United get the deal done before he has a stormer of a World Cup. I’m more interested, personally, in the inevitable aggressive dynamic that will develop between the Brazilian and beloved club mascot, Fred the Red. Red Fred has a known violent temper, once coming to blows with Roy Keane over Fred’s performance on the sidelines at half time against Bolton in 2003. That’s the real reason Keano left the club. You heard it here never.

Malinkovic-Savic – Serbia

This is one of the bullshit deals I was talking about. Despite having a great domestic season in Italy and impressing all over the world, United have balked at the price tag associated with the Serbian. An initial bid was rejected and the price tag was set at 87.5 million pound (I have no pound symbol on my laptop so you’ll have to deal with me typing pound every once in a while. Pound pound pound pound). This fee is set to rise into 150 million territory if he has a good World Cup, which he  more than likely will, at least in the two games against Costa Rica and Switzerland in the group stages. Apparently United bid 100 mill in the last few days but Lazio are holding out for the big bucks. Ayyyyy, whaddreyagonnadoaboutihhhhh? Italians.
He scored 12 goals from midfield last season and has a proper footballer’s brain. I wouldn’t mind breaking the bank for this player but I’ll say it now: this deal won’t happen.

Bale – Madrid

This is my dream. This has been an ongoing saga for a few years too with nobody but United fans believing it could happen, me included. So it goes on this year too after Bale expressed displeasure about his lack of game time at the Bernabeu immediately after his immaculate overhead kick that put them in the lead against Liverpool in the Champions League final. According to all the Manchester based papers and fans he is coming to Old Trafford. Probably won’t happen but just imagine if he did. Oh what a sight that would be; Bale running down the wing, putting in a perfect cross for Lukaku to either mishit or bury past the keeper. He literally does one or the other, kinda funny.
I for one would go on the absolute tear around Woodlawn in the Bronx if Bale signed. I’d be dangerous. All we can do is believe this will happen.

Image result for Believe

All jokes aside, the signing of Fred would bolster our title hopes next year, as would the signing of Savic, although I suspect the price tag will be a bit too high. We need two midfielders with the inevitable departure of Herrera and Mata in the next two years, as well as the possibility of Martial looking for first team action. The arrival of Bale could prove disastrous for the continued development of Lingard and with Lukaku back fully fit next season I don’t see a whole pile of game time for Rashford under Mourinho. I personally prefer Rashford up front but Mourinho blocked me on insta so I can’t slide into his DMs anymore. Cheeky.
We need a left back and a centre back. We need more confidence and clinical finishing. And we need to stop losing to newly promoted teams and teams fighting relegation, fucking hell.

It’s important to source your work, so I got most of these tips originally from the United Stand, on Twitter and Youtube. I double checked but they are solid and admit if they’re talking about speculative rumours or fact. Give them a follow and give David Amoyal on twitter a follow too, as he’s the English page for Di Marzio, who tweets solely in Italian. I found that out when I set his page to give me mobile alerts whenever he tweeted and I was rudely awoken to pages and pages of Italian at 4 in the afternoon (night shift).
Any United fans getting annoyed at the team’s progress, or lack thereof, remember it’s still early in the summer and we’ve got the world cup to look forward to. At the end of the day, we’re all just surfing through life (Paul Guerin, smoking fags outside Plassey 49, 2015).

 

Russia 2018 – Putin my bets on!

 

Image result for world cup 2018

 

There’s just under a month to the 2018 Fifa World Cup and my excitement level is rising. The squads have nearly all been announced, bar Japan I believe, who announce their squad on the 31st of May. I think we’re all waiting with bated breath to see who Japan name. Lol. JK.
The world cup is pure, football fan heaven. It’s one month of constant football with a much more diverse group of teams than the Euros. Who can pass up Portugal hammering the People’s Republic of China in 2010, or Ireland coming so close to another World Cup quarter final against Spain in 2002. Obviously, this is another world cup without Ireland and so we have no real dog in this fight. Although we will hope against hope that England have a shit tournament despite following their top teams week in, week out! Aren’t we feckin’ mad?!

So without further ado, I want to just throw out a few predictions and bet suggestions. I don’t even place bets myself, which is the funny thing. I used to do the accumulators the very odd time in Cork. As soon as I’d leave the bookies I’d look at the possible return and think about all the things I could buy with a couple grand. As soon as a team would ruin it for me I’d lament the loss of five quid. So I stopped in the hopes I’d save my money. Instead, I spent and still spend that money on cigarettes and whiskey. From Benson Gold and Jack Daniels to Newport 100s and Tullamore Dew. Comin’ up in the world kid!

Image result for messi face meme

Winners: Argentina

It was actually tough to pick a winner, as it is every tournament. My initial thought was Spain. I felt that as this was Iniesta’s last tournament and set of appearances for Spain, coupled with the calibre of their squad, they would eradicate their horror showing from 2014. I then took a deeper look into the squads of Germany, France, Brazil and Belgium and was flooded with more thoughts and suggestions. Then I saw Argentina’s attacking options. Messi, Dybala, Higuain and Aguero are a set of names that will strike fear into the heart of every defense in the World Cup. Argentina’s midfielders boast some quality names too in Mascherano and Di Maria, same with Rojo and Otamendi in defence. It’s not just star power and names that matter though. I believe that this Argentina squad can go one better than last time and win this thing. Although it would be a great laugh to see Messi retire and return again in the next few years. The little drama queen.
They won’t have an easy road to the final though, likely playing Spain in a quarter final, and obviously whoever they meet in the semis and final won’t be easily beat. Croatia will be a tough match in the group stages, especially having to contend with Rakitic, Modric and Kovacic in midfield. But once they can deal with those itches (lol, omg, did I just) they’ll be fine. Place your bets. Argentina to win.

Runners Up: Brazil

Yeah. It’s going to be an all South American final. Don’t @ me. No, do please. I’d love an aul chat about soccer over a creamy pint. Anywyas, Brazil are going to beat all before them and steamroll their way to the final with their youthful, quick, technically and skillfully gifted side. Edinson in goal is solid. Marcelo in full back will make mazy runs and provide for the forwards. Coutinho and Douglas Costa in midfield will tire out defenders and score screamers. And last but not least, Patrick Horgan up front taking frees, over the black spot each time!
In all seriousness, Brazil are coming back in a big way with this squad. Maybe not 2002 good but they will be feared by many teams. Maybe I’m wrong and they’re going to be battered by the likes of Germany, or narrowly lose out to England in the quarter finals but I see them having a long and fruitful tournament.
And I didn’t mention Neymar because I despise him. If he’s fully fit he’ll spend more time rolling around on the grass pretending to be injured than actually playing football.

I know some people, or anybody who reads this, might be thinking I’ve lost my head by not picking Germany. They’re the reigning champions; they’re the number one seed; and they are always clinical in the World Cup. However, I feel they have too many players in key positions that aren’t up to scratch, such as Rudiger, or will only play if they feel like it, like Ozil. I hope I’m wrong, because I like a lot of their players, but I’ll hang my hat out on this one and say a semi-final is the end of their road.
The same can be said for France, in my opinion. Great squad and lost out in the final of the Euros but I don’t see them beating the likes of Germany (not this time around anyways!) or the South American giants.

Image result for harry kane

Dark Horses: England

I actually refuse to call Belgium a dark horse anymore. Belgium can fuck off for all I care. All that talent in the squad and they were beaten by Wales in the quarters of the Euros. Fair play to Wales but Belgium shouldn’t have lost that match. I digress. Perhaps they’ll come good this year but I don’t see it happening.

England is a controversial choice. I personally would like to see them do well and think that they will go far. Most people expect them to be on the early flight home but their squad is young, attacking and have no fear when they are out on the pitch. As a United fan it is good to see four of the squad on the team. As a Premier League fan who watches the games and highlights each week it will be good to see some attacking football on display. Hopefully. And as a comedy fan, it’s going to be fantastic to see Kane try and claim one of Vardy’s goals. Chat shit, get banged, Harry. Chat shit, get banged, indeed.

Of course it is likely that my predictions are going to be completely wrong. I do think I have a good knowledge of the modern game and I don’t think it’ll be too far off what I said, but sure look, it’s a bit of fun. Big shout out to Denmark who knocked Ireland out of the play-offs. Hope ye have a shit tournament and the flight back to Denmark takes ages to taxi when ye land. Pricks.

I’m not going to post that DURT (scraic two Johnnies) from Jason Derulo so enjoy the best World Cup song ever.

 

xoxo Gossip Cian

Thank God that’s over!

Image result for F.A. Cup final

It has been a miserable few days in New York. Thunderstorms and lashing rain replaced the scorching weather we had in previous weeks. I missed the first ten minutes of today’s F.A. Cup final against Chelsea because two pubs were packed due to the rain. After the final whistle went I wished that I had stood on the corner of 6th ave., letting cars splash filthy New York rainwater onto me so I could come down with a debilitating flu and forget the past footballing year.

The first half went by in typical United-under-Mourinho fashion: play the ball around defence and midfield, defend wildly when attacked and possibly let the other team score. Then, and only then, will we attack. You fools! MUAHAHAHAHA. You’ve played right into our trap. Alternatively, and this only used rarely, United could score and park the bus for the rest of the match.
I am a typical bitter United supporter. If the result had gone the other way I would probably be writing an altogether different post. But the fact of the matter is, United played poorly today, the better team won and big players went missing and spurned great chances.

United sat back and the utter mismatch in pace between Hazard and Jones proved decisive. Jones’ clumsy tackle from behind could have been a red if he wasn’t adjudged to have played the ball, leading Michael Oliver to send Conte into fits of rage by awarding a yellow only. Hazard coolly sent De Gea the wrong way, his questionable man bun/ ponytail flapping in defeat. Chelsea could and should have been awarded an earlier penalty when Matic brought Rudiger down inside the box. Thank you again, Michael Oliver. Alexis Sanchez went down softly at the other end after he was pulled back by Moses. A scrappy first half was capped off by an abysmal, funny if you’re not a United fan, attempt at a shot by Rashford. Despite this, I went into the second half feeling optimistic that a rejuvenated United side would appear to win some silverware.

 

I was wrong. Yes, there was some chances and flashes of quality. The introduction of Martial and Lukaku in place of the disappointing, Russia bound duo of Rashford and Lingard gave some sense of focus and direction. It was too late. Sanchez kept running the ball into impossible areas and despite Pogba’s impressive use of the ball and distribution to the flanks, he spurned United’s best chance of the game. He missed a free header from three meters out. The header was so wide in fact that I thought it was a pass to the onrushing Phil Jones, the earlier villain of the piece.
After scoring the penalty in the first half, Chelsea sat back and defended for the rest. Online, United fans jeered and brandied about the ‘park the bus’ taunt that we have endured for the past two years. The bitter pill to swallow, and something I’m sure we all know, is that if the tables were turned and Rashford had sent Courtois the wrong way then we would have sat through United defending like that.

It’s hard not to feel pessimistic about United going forward into next season. This was the last chance for silverware. Finishing second was not much of an achievement when you realise that Manchester City had a 19-point gap as leaders. Liverpool are contesting the Champions League final, a game against Real Marid which they could just as easily lose or win. Forgetting these petty facts and looking at the real picture is important. Manchester United are still one of the top teams in the Premier League. The record against the top 6 this season wasn’t bad and a final appearance in the F.A. Cup is not to be laughed at. However, they are not a joy to watch anymore. Far from it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Martial and Mata leave the side this summer. Why should they stand being used as last call reserves when they should be on that pitch from the start? Sanchez needs to buck up too and stop blaming officials for him losing the ball.

I had to leave the Storehouse Bar on 23rd st. straight after the match for work and was only drinking coffee due to being on the front desk for the next eight hours. But by God, do I wish I was sinking pints and throwing back whiskey.

Carrick: A Tribute

Image result for michael carrick

Today marked Michael Carrick’s last game for Manchester United. It is fitting that he played his final appearance in the Premier League at Old Trafford, the home of the club where the supreme passer won a fantastic haul of silverware. In his twelve years at the Theatre of Dreams, Michael Carrick won five Premier Leagues, three League Cups, one F.A. Cup, one Champions League, one Club World Cup, one Europa League and several Community Shields, which we all know are the most important. This is obviously an impressive resume for United’s new coach.

Carrick’s final season was cut short in September of 2017 after finding an irregular heart rhythm to be the root of his discomfort on the field in a cup match against Burton. He made the tough but ultimately right decision to hang up his playing boots and put on his coaching boots. Unlike Mourinho and Rui Faria, the assistant coach, who have both never played competitive football, it is fair to say that Carrick has a wealth of experience on the pitch. This will ease his transition into the coaching role. Carrick has also always been an extremely gifted technical player with an eye for the killer pass. His guidance and knowledge of the physical Premier League will help young talents like McTominay and Rashford continue their impressive respective starts to life in the Premier League in the seasons to come.

Please enjoy this video with depressing music. Happy Sunday, you go back to work tomorrow!

Carrick has been a favourite of mine since his arrival at the club in the summer of 2006. As an Irishman, I was wary of anyone who was taking the number 16 after the departure of Roy Keane a year earlier. I had seen Carrick in Match! magazine in an article about his range of vision and passing(Jaysus, Match magazine was unreal, wasn’t it?). Immediately you could see why he was signed. His passing and vision was one thing, but his ability to move the ball out of seemingly impossible situations as well as defend impressively too were more tools at his disposal.
And he could score too! I’ll always remember his two thunderbastard goals against Roma when United demolished them in the Champions League were unbelievable. I watch the highlights of that game every once in a while just to watch Carrick fire two unstoppable shots into the top right corner in each half. He was part of the sensational squad that won the Champions League in 2008 against Chelsea, and was vital in United reaching two more finals in the next three years.

In the last few years at the club, only Rooney rivaled him for composure on the ball and that trademark curling ball to the wing from midfield remained everpresent, even in today’s match against Watford. After Rooney left, Carrick was named club captain, a sign of respect for the man and his achievements at the club. I for one am sad that he did not get more time to play with Pogba this year. Despite Pogba being disappointing, which goes for most of the team, playing another year with the calming presence of Carrick would have greatly benefited him. I do remain hopeful for next season with this current bunch of players, providing they step up and actually want to win games. And with Carrick now providing advice full time from the sidelines, it might be a more attacking style of football we play.

All in all, it is a sad day as the last member of the UCL victors of 2008 leaves the team and the game. Although he is staying in the dugout, we will miss his loping runs and perfect passes. Michael Carrick, we salute you!