Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dazed and Confused

"Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a superstar, never bargained for you.
Lot's of people talking, few of them know
Soul of Man United, was created in midfield!"

This has been the sad song sung by my Manchester United brethren since the close of the transfer window. United fans worldwide, feeling exposed by the retirement of the deity that is Sir Alex of Ferguson, were crying out for that big money signing that would act as a statement of intent - confirming the Red Devils are still the big boys on the block. After all, Manchester City finally succumbed to Roberto Mancini's sage advice and retooled in the off-season. And Chelsea brought back 'The Special One.' It was vital that we responded in kind.

And we did...kinda...sorta.

Despite being linked with everyone from Cesc Fabregas to Kaka to Avala legend Tome Divljak, United closed their transfer activity by parting company with $27 million for the signature of Moyes' favourite Toffee Marouane Fellaini.

And the outcry that followed was immense...with more vitriol thrown at Moyes than chemical weapons in Syria. 

Now I'm not going to defend the shambolic nature with which we managed the transfer window. At times it seemed as if the good folk running the Labour party were providing strategic direction at Old Trafford HQ. From the very public courting of Fabregas, to the Spanish 'imposters', the initial ridiculously low bid for Fellaini and Leighton Baines to overpaying Everton with seconds to go before the window expired. It was a public embarrassment. Considering the club is under new management with Moyes and Woodward, hardly the stuff that instills confidence in a very demanding supporter base. 

However...the outcome on the playing field is perfect. 

Our greatest weakness over the past number of season has been midfield, something that's been on the agenda since the retirement of Rampaging Roy Keane. Seba Veron had all the skills, but couldn't quite adapt to the pace of the Premier League. Anderson has bitten off, quite literally, more than he can chew. Djembe Djembe would have been great if his on field performance wasn't as ridiculous as his name. Owen Hargreaves was made of porcelain, and Darren Fletcher shit himself, leaving Michael Carrick the uninspiring constant over the past few seasons. 

The arrival of Marouane Fellaini was exactly what I wanted. Fellaini is a proven Premier League and international performer - an all action presence who can mix it up physically, but who also has the capacity to play great technical football and score goals.

Since the transfer deadline expired all I keep hearing is 'he's not a United player'. I couldn't disagree more. He's exactly what we need. Not that I wouldn't have minded a Mesut Ozil or Bastian Schweinsteiger. But if it's about addressing a weakness in the team, Moyes has done it. 

Let's break this down.


David de Gea might not be the best keeper in the EPL right now, but he's certainly in the conversation. Any flaws he might have can be negated by the fact he's only 22 and has tremendous upside. With wanting to sound like a real homer, I think in de Gea we have the future best keeper in the world.


The backline, when fit, is rock solid. Vidic and Ferdinand, ably supported by Jonny Evans, make up the best centre back troika in the league. Evra's return to form and Raphael's continued improvement make for a pretty deadly fullback pairing. They might enjoy going forward a little too much, but they still bring more to the table than they take off. And in Jones and Smalling we have two young guns who can fit in anywhere across the backline. The defense is deep, versatile and very talented.


Up front there's RVP - the best striker in the Premiership. Rooney might be a fat, balding former granny shagger...but he's still capable of 20 goals a season. Welbeck has proven himself to be, at the very least, Emile Heskey 2.0 (I can't believe I convinced myself that this is a high compliment). And Chicharito is a great ace up the sleeve - the perfect super sub.


Michael Carrick continues to anchor the middle. I've been his biggest critic over the years, but will grudgingly concede he's a steady presence who makes few mistakes. He doesn't win many games, but he'll lose fewer. Fellaini can now partner with Carrick in front of the defense. This releases much of the tackling burden from Carrick's slender shoulders and allows him to concentrate on excelling as the boring steadying presence with his passing. Meanwhile Fellaini brings a physical authority and some much needed muscle that has been sorely lacking. On the wings we can choose from Valencia, Young, Nani, Zaha or Adnan Januzaj - who I've seen little of but has impressed me. Cleverly is decent but far from the finished article. And Giggs should be available to support the seconds in the League Cup, as well as supporting the players wives. All in all this is a pretty impressive and deep group.


The key to bringing this all together, and the reason we didn't need an additional big money splash it the transfer market, is Shinji Kagawa. It seems that Moyes is the only man in football who doesn't rate the Japanese international. Forget other game changing attacking midfielders...we've got one.

Just imagine a 4-3-3 formation with Carrick and Fellaini anchoring the midfield, Kagawa operating ahead and RVP, Rooney and Welbeck up front. Or a 4-5-1. Carrick and Fellaini once again at the base of a triangle with Kagawa. Two traditional wingers (Valencia and Zaha ideally) on the flanks bombing forward and crossing for RVP. This gives you the tactical flexibility of Rooney on the bench, with the capacity to change up any game.

When I think of all the options I'm excited enough to let Samuel L Jackson talk me into opening up a new Bet365 account with a lazy hundred on the Devils to repeat. We won last season by 11 points for goodness sake. And that was with half the team perpetually injured.

Unfortunately though David Moyes is in charge...and Kagawa has been handcuffed to the bench. I don't know if he lacks imagination, tactical nous or just plain balls, but his safety first approach that guided Everton to multiple sixth places won't win us the title. Heck, with Ozil at Highbury and Spurs reloaded it might not even get us Champions League qualification. 

The performance in Europe midweek was refreshing, and provided a blueprint for how good Manchester United can be this season. Now Moyes and his charges face their toughest test to date - the Manchester derby.

Come on you Reds!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Give it back

I just read that Lance Armstrong is returning the Bronze medal he 'won' at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Does this mean disgraced former Eels coach Ricky Stuart has to give back the wooden spoons collected under his watch at Parra???

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Losing my religion

I had my first experience with Catholic schoolboys on the weekend…and it was simply thrilling.
To be perfectly honest I was probably a little naïve going into the encounter, not really knowing what to expect. But after forty odd minutes of stimulation I was completely hooked. To say that it altered my persuasion forever is probably a little hyperbolic, but it certainly left an indelible imprint on my psyche.
To provide some context I’ll freely admit to experiencing extreme disillusion recently. I have put a lot of time, passion and faith in my existing relationship with little repaid. My loyalty has been severely tested, the damage inflicted almost irreparable.
And so it came to pass on a sunny Sydney Saturday afternoon that I made my way to the oval behind a prominent local Catholic school. I was accompanied by two very close friends, Mr. Pussy and Flex. Their presence and the ensuing camaraderie should have calmed my nerves and instilled some confidence. Rather it only served to heighten by fears and misgivings, adding yet another layer of confusion to a troubled soul.
What was I doing here? I asked myself this question over and over. Did I really belong? Would I enjoy myself? Or would the more experienced participants see right through me, and immediately spot the imposter, the fraud, the outsider?
I allowed myself a moment to enjoy a last swig of Heineken, a roadie taken more as an act of self-posturing than a real thirst for alcohol. But the cold brew did serve to drown out some of the butterflies flitting nervously in my stomach.
As we finally marched onto the oval to join the rest of the group, and I saw my first glimpse of those muscular, athletic, young men, I knew I was in the right place.
Welcome to schoolboy rugby folks, and the marquee match-up between St. Joseph’s College (Joeys) and Riverview!!!
(Editor’s note: get you mind out of the gutter people. This is a sports blog)

What stuck me first was the size of the crowd. Two grandstands at capacity and the standing area around the fence a least three deep. This was easily comparable to most Sydney NRL matches. Keep in mind the Seconds were still playing…with kick-off still 20 minutes away!

It wasn’t just the size of the crowd, but the quality of the noise it produced – loud and coordinated. It seemed that they had been studying tapes from ‘English Premier League’s Greatest Hits’, all the way down to belting out a wonderful rendition of ‘You’ll never walk alone’ and ‘Glory, glory’. With eyes closed and ears pricked you almost felt transported off to the hallowed grounds of Anfield or Old Trafford…almost.

Then there were the players. These ‘kids’ looked like pro’s, carrying themselves with a swagger that belied their teenage years. Indeed Riverview’s hulking number 5 looked like he’d been repeating the Higher School Certificate for the past few years in a desperate bid to remain in the fifteen.

Eagerly anticipating kick-off we spied a rowdy group of fifty twenty-something’s on the opposite end of the field, all resplendent in tuxedos. Was this some secret society, a Masonic initiation, or something more sinister, like the party scene in ‘Eyes Wide Shut’? None of the above sadly, just an enthusiastic group of Riverview lads celebrating their fifth reunion come to cheer on their alma mater. Earlier that morning we spotted them enjoying a breakfast of barley, wheat and hops at the Hunters Hill Hotel and by the sounds of it they continued on with that diet of sustenance throughout brunch and lunch.

The game itself was a cracker, albeit one-sided. The Riverview boys were too big and strong, the aforementioned number 5 making some wonderful runs, busting through tackles and carrying the ball forward like a young Ewen McKenzie. They easily controlled the ruck, dominating both field position and possession.

Unlike the tepid Wallabies display that same night, Riverview put on a show worthy of the game allegedly played in Heaven, going for tries, not kicking for goals. Running rugby with crisp passes out wide and clever off-loads into great hands was the order of the day. Each time Joeys turned the ball over defense swiftly turned into attack. Riverview quickly spread the ball out wide and the big winger (number 14) easily brushed off defenders as he speed down the touchline, doing his best Jonah Lomu impersonation.

In the end Riverview won deservedly, 45-20. Yet despite watching their faithful come up short the home crowd was phenomenal all the way through to the final whistle.

Our only disappointment was discovering, all too late, that alcohol was available for purchase. To quote Mr. Pussy: “Free entry and parking, a great crowd and beer. You’ve gotta love the Catholic education system!”

Despite the experience I can’t say hand on heart that I’m a rugby convert now. The All Blacks mauling of the Wallabies brought me crashing back to reality. But Joeys vs. Riverview will definitely be part of an annual pilgrimage now.

Friday, August 16, 2013

EPL - three things to consider before kick off

The sporting merry-go-round has come full circle, with football fanatics ready to jump on board amid kick off for the European football leagues.

Whilst the English Premier League (EPL) might not be the best league in the world, it certainly is the most popular...a by-product of Manchester United, the most famous sports brand in the Cosmos.

Now that I've firmly attached my colours to the mast I'll get on the with job of previewing the upcoming EPL, in particular the three most intriguing unanswered questions.

1. Trading Places: Two of the most successful clubs in Britain face two of the biggest headaches imaginable. In the red half of Manchester new manager David Moyes is facing his first test in the big leagues, battling with want-away Wayne Rooney and his c#nt of an agent Paul Stretford. Rooney, the fat, balding former granny shagger, is disillusioned at the prospect of spending the better part of the season peeling oranges for Robin Van Persie. Liverpool Football Club face a similar battle of wills, with Brendan Rogers desperately trying to convince Luis Suarez to stay at Anfield, offering an unlimited supply of human flesh and a lifetime membership to the KKK as sweeteners. 

The whole situation has only one logical resolution - swap 'em. Just the mention of it has the capacity to completely break the Internet. The unintentional comedy would be on a scale not witnessed since One Nation candidate Stephanie Banister claimed kosher food was okay because Jews believe in Jesus Christ - remarkably managing to offend both religions simultaneously whilst trying desperately to pay them a compliment. 

The 1983 comedy classic Trading Places featured Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis' chest all at their absolute peak. Murphy and Aykroyd, two antagonists from completely different worlds, experience life in each others shoes. Hilarity is the outcome. Trading Rooney for Suarez would deliver similar results. Imagine Rooney, the Everton boy who conquered the world with United, celebrating in front of the Kop after a winning goal. Or Suarez, salivating each time Nemanja Vidic walked past him in the dressing room. 

Let's make it happen.

2. Break a leg: The darling of the EPL last season was unquestionably Gareth Bale. The Welshman single handedly dragged Spurs within a pubic hair of Champions League qualification on the back of some thracking (thumping crackers) winning goals. 

Recently Bale's stock has been sky high...with Real Madrid reportedly offering in excess of 100 million as a transfer fee. More remarkable than Bale's firm thighs has been Spurs even firmer stance that he's not for sale at any price. It's about time someone stood up to Madrid, and Spurs chairman Daniel Levy seems to be the right man for the job.

Of course it could go pear shaped very quickly. Whether it's pounds, dollars, Euros or drachmas, 100 million is a sh#tload of dosh. And Bale's price certainly isn't going to get much higher. If I were a Spurs fan (heaven forbid), I'd be praying to the God's of Stephanie Bannister that Bale doesn't tear his achilles, cruciate ligament or anything else that could see his value plummet faster than Detroit's credit rating. 

Take care of yourself Gareth. 

3. Russian Roulette:  One of the worst kept secrets at the back end of last season was the imminent return of Jose Mourinho, aka the Special One, to Chelsea. Mourinho was sick of battling the Madrid management, fans and press. Chelsea Czar Roman Abramovich was tired of constantly hosting exit interviews with managers who actual won European trophies for his club.

So like an old couple reuniting when they realised no-one else would sleep with them, Jose and Roman are back together. But it does beggar the question:

What happens to Jose when they inevitably break up again?

The first time was tumultuous, but the Special One managed to escape relatively unscathed. Indeed his departure and the subsequent game of management musical chairs played at Stamford Bridge has painted Roman as a clown. 

Methinks the Russian oligarch won't take too kindly to playing the fool a second time around. If I were the Special One I'd be investing some rubles in a safe house...just to be sure.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The half year mega blog

There’s been much turmoil and upheaval in Australia’s leadership ranks. It started a few years ago when performances started to dip, leading to distress amongst the Aussie public. A review of the current structure was detailed, a few people were knifed in the back and a new leader was anointed.

Much was promised.

Sadly the new leadership brought different rhetoric but the same, if not worse, levels of underperformance. Community confidence continued to wane, and some very public displays of ill discipline didn’t help matters. It all came to a head recently when the incumbent was sacked and an old favourite drafted in to right a sinking ship. All this occurred in the face of the most testing of times for Australia.

Welcome to the Australian cricket team folks!!!

There are some positives on the eve of the Ashes for all Aussie fans. Whilst David Warner’s physical approach to the opposition has seen him relegated to an interchange position for NSW in the State of Origin decider, the Aussies do have a savior ready to step up to the mark.
Introducing Israel Folau!

Immediately after mesmerizing the British and Irish Lions in his international debut, Folau received a text from new head coach Darren Lehman to see if he’d be available for the Ashes, slotting in at first drop. Folau responded he’d be happy to help, only after joining Orica-Green Edge at the Tour de France. Unfortunately Le Tour conflicted with Wimbledon, where the Aussie punter was forced to sit through another Sam Stosur meltdown and Bernie Tomic promising much but delivering little. I’m sure Izzy could have made the quarters at least.

Sadly it’s not been such smooth sailing for Mark Webber, who recently announced his retirement from Formula One to race Porsche's at Le Mans. Obviously Mark feels he can handle a German car much better than he can handle a smiling, blonde Kraut in a one piece jump suit. Needless to say everyone in F1 is struggling to keep a grip on things, with more things blown at Silverstone than the shower block in a maximum security prison.

The Socceroos certainly didn’t blow anything as they qualified for their third World Cup in succession. They did make hard work of the final qualifying match, until Israel Folau Josh Kennedy scored a late winner. It’s going to be party time in Brazil next year!

It was party time in Rio at the recent Confederations Cup, where the host nation dismantled Spain three zip in the final. The Maracana exploded in unbridled joy as goals from Neymar and Fred inflicted Spain’s worst defeat in 18 years. La Roja hasn’t looked that toothless since the Spanish Armada crashed against British shores.

To be fair to the Spanish footballers they would have been exhausted by the final. A World Cup title sandwiched between two successful European Cup campaigns…just thinking about it makes me tired. And with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes out of the picture following Operacion Puerto there was nothing available to offer that additional pick me up.

It wasn’t just Iniesta, Pique, Xavi and co. that hit the wall. After securing his eighth French Open title Nadal met his match at the first round of Wimbledon. Maybe grass is the only ‘supplement’ that doesn’t sit well with Spanish athletes.

LeBron James didn’t need any supplements in leading the Miami Heat to back-to-back NBA championships. He just needed a little faith and some divine intervention. And so it was to be. Jesus Shuttlesworth (aka Ray Allen) knocked down a buzzer beating three to keep the Heat alive in Game 6 before finally conquering the resilient San Antonio Spurs in one of the best finals in recent memory.  

James copped a lot of flak from all pundits following his decision to join forces with Wade and Bosh and take his talents to South Beach. After seeing LeBron lead the Heat in points, assists and rebounds, and perform as their primary defensive stopper, its Wade and Bosh who should bear the brunt of vitriol. Miami doesn’t have a ‘Big Three’. They have LeBron James. He has carried this franchise over the mountain-top, not once but twice.

Nice segue to what will be the highlight of the 2013 sporting calendar – Stage 18 of the Tour de France (Thursday, 18th July). This is the 100th Tour, and to celebrate this milestone the organizers have developed the most challenging course to date. Lots of mountain stages, including the dreaded Mont Ventoux. But the real headline is L'Alpe d'Huez. A 172.5 km stage that includes a 13.8 km climb at an average 7.9 per cent, with 21 hairpin bends…which will be climbed twice!!! Pack an esky full of EPO and get onboard because climbing L'Alpe d'Huez twice has never been tried in the 99 previous Tours. This stage has the capacity to kill many a riders hopes, dreams and testicles.

Dropping out of contention has been a regular theme at the Parramatta Eels in recent seasons. Horrible recruitment, poor form, back luck with injuries and some unusual coaching choices have conspired to leave the once mighty (really???) Eels reeling year after year. This season Ricky Stuart took a proactive approach to right the ship, going Rains of Castamere on half the squad. Like Sir Walder Frey at the Red Wedding, Stuart broke bread with his players before unleashing an ambush that left many a career assassinated.

Across the equator another coach was busy rejuvenating a once proud club. Brendan Rogers had mixed success leading Liverpool FC through another mediocre season, but there were some positives to draw on, especially the form of Brazilian Philippe Coutinho. However the big question remained ‘whose name was in the preseason envelope? Sadly it was never revealed, but in an exclusive interview Luis Suarez claimed he was extremely disappointed to have not been named. He really sunk his teeth into this season, and certainly bit off more than he could chew being Liverpool’s primary goal scorer and creator. Hopefully he can get that bitter taste out of his mouth before pre-season!

He’s not the only one with a bitter taste in his mouth. Croatian sports fans were thwarted at the European Water Polo Championships, with Jug Dubrovnik suffering in the final at the hands of Crvena Zvezda. Zvezda was crowned the new king of Europe (it’s been a long while since I’ve been able to say that) after winning a thrilling battle in front of 4000 fans. The crowd created an atmosphere never before experienced at water polo. It was a fitting end to a fantastic season.


Friday, May 17, 2013

To the faithfully departed

I see a red door and I want to paint it black
No colours anymore
I want them to turn black
(Paint it Black, The Rolling Stones, 1966)

It’s been a week since the sun set over Old Trafford and Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably the greatest manager in football history, called time on an illustrious career. This piece has been a week in the making, but I’m still in mourning so please forgive me if I seem a little irrational. 

After twenty six years - the majority of my life - at the helm of the world’s greatest football club, Fergie (as he’s affectionately known by the Red Devils) is reaching for his pipe and slippers and retiring to the drawing room for a final snifter of port.

Over the past week I’ve scoured countless blog posts, podcasts, newspaper articles, fan comments and the like, all eulogizing the great man and his remarkable feats in English football. You know what I’m talking about – 13 titles, 2 Champions Leagues, 1 Cup Winners Cup, blah, blah, blah. He’s got more trophies than Kim Kardashian’s got extra pounds in her arse.

I’ve been praising Fergie – live, online, and in my dreams – for the best part of two decades. But now is not the time to flatter. Now is the time to race for the toilet before I sh#t my pants in an absolute panic.

Because Sir Alex Ferguson, Fergie, Sir Alex, Sir, The Gaffer, is being replaced by…drum roll please…David Moyes. That’s right folks, a footballing deity is moving out, and an angry Scotsman who has never won anything significant since the St Patrick Under 15 B’s, is moving in.

The terraces at Stamford Bridge, Anfield, the Emirates and Etihad Stadium have just been crushed under the weight of thousands of fans hitting the deck and rolling around uncontrollably, doing their very best David Luiz impersonation.

“How’s your mother?”
“I’m afraid she’s on her way out”
“We all are. Act accordingly”
(The Departed, 2006)

Fergie’s retirement has been a ticking time bomb since 2001, hanging over the club like a Frenchman’s guillotine. As each and every year past it seemed less likely that he’d ever hand over the keys, despite this concept defying the laws of God and men. Was Fergie secretly making trips to the Cronulla Sharks to elongate his life? Did he have Lance Armstrong’s medical team on speed-dial? Had he ordered a life-long supply of deer antler spray online? Does copious consumption of wine and whiskey really lengthen the lifespan?  

“Who the f#ck are you?”
“I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy.”
(The Departed, 2006)

Welcome David Moyes…the other guy. If he’s not permanently sh#tting his pants for the next few months while waiting to take charge he’s either a cybernetic being or he’s on a permanent diet of dry toast and chamomile tea.

Everyone keeps crapping on about the similarity between Moyes coming into United and Fergie’s appointment in 1986. So let’s break this down:

Same, same

  • Admirable job in a smaller club punching above its weight – tick
  • Hard as nails – tick
  • Crazy left wing Scotsman who doesn’t abide ‘Big Time Charlie’s – tick
  • Mutual hatred of Liverpool Football Club – tick

But different

  • Fergie at Aberdeen won 3 league titles (breaking the Rangers and Celtic duopoly for the first time in 15 years), 4 Scottish FA Cups, 1 European Cup Winners Cup and 1 European Super Cup. Pretty impressive resume
  • Moyes at Everton has won NOTHING. I know the big clubs dominate, but this season Wigan won the FA Cup, and Swansea won the League Cup. Even Portsmouth won the FA Cup during Moyes time at Everton, and they’re now playing in the Vauxhall Conference…or something like that
  • When Fergie arrived at Manchester they were a club verging on crisis, with a losing culture only eclipsed by their well documented drinking culture
  • On Moyes first day as Manchester United gaffer he’ll be taking charge of the English champions and his first game will be the Charity Shield
  • In 1986, Fergie’s first season, the coaching merry-go-round didn’t exist the way it does today. And Champions League qualification, with the attached financial incentives, wasn’t on the cards
  • In 2014 David Moyes will be stepping into the hot seat knowing that the expectation is to win. Period. If anyone disagrees just look across the road and see what happened to Mancini after delivering City their first trophy since Moses parted the Red Sea

The moral of the story is the gap between 1986 Fergie and 2014 Moyes is the size of Tom Cruise’s nose…f#cken massive. And that scares the crap out of me.

“Keaton always said, ‘I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him.’ Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Keyser Soze.”
(The Usual Suspects, 1995)

Over the past 26 years, fear of Fergie has been built up to almost mythical proportions. During his reign of terror Sir Alex has scared off many pretenders to the throne, most famously Kevin Keegan, whose brain imploded on live television whilst his Newcastle side was busy giving away a 12 point lead and the Premiership. 

Arsene Wenger permanently looks like he’s got his period. But in his early years (aka before Arsenal was rubbish) he really got under Fergie’s skin. Now he resembles a French poodle with a Scottish boot up the rear end. In 2009 Rafa’s famous Fergie rant coincided with Liverpool’s demise. Jose Mourinho was a valiant foe but left British shores to battle continental opponents, and it’s only fitting that Roberto Mancini got the arse whilst Fergie is still in charge. Adios amigo. If I’m heading out the door so are you, you cocky powder-blue scarf wearing frog eater.

“The only thing in this world that gives orders... is balls.”
(Scarface, 1983)

Not only has Fergie battled the best managers in Britain, he’s also stared down some of the fiercest footballers on the planet, usually on his own training ground. Bryan Robson, The Great Dane, Steve Bruce, Paul Ince, Nemanja Vidic, Eric the King and of course Roy Keane, the hardest of hard men. 

What made Fergie so great was his ability to channel their fury to avoid any internal disruption and unleash that power on unsuspecting foes. Keane could easily have been a locker room cancer with his antics. Under Fergie’s guidance he unleashed his celtic rage on his enemies. Cantona was well known to be a club house nut job before joining United. Only Fergie could turn this loose cannon into a precision weapon – that’s not meant to be a jab at arsehole Crystal Palace fans.

“Paulie may have moved slow, but it was only because Paulie didn't have to move for anybody.”
(Goodfellas, 1990)

Over the past week one of the critical comments about Fergie is his lack of a signature footballing initiative, like Pep’s tiki taka that defined Barcelona's recent era of dominance. But there’s one constant that everyone agrees on, and that’s ‘Fergie time'. Fergie didn’t change football. Fergie changed time itself. When the 90 minutes was up it seemed that Fergie had an innate capacity to slow down or lengthen stoppage time just enough that United could sneak in a winning or equalising goal.

“Fredo, you're my older brother, and I love you. But don't ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”
(The Godfather, 1972)

David Beckham
Jaap Stam
Ruud van Nistelrooy
Roy Keane
Paul McGrath
Jim Leighton
Paul Ince

The list of players that have crossed Fergie in some way shape or form is long and distinguished. But the outcome is the same...the club moves from strength to strength.

The only player left standing after taking Fergie head on is Wayne Rooney. Although judging by recent events Rooney is on his way out of Old Trafford and into the closest Pie Face. Personally if I were him I’d stay indoors on a rainy Manchester day lest he be hit by a bolt of lightning.

“Bunch of slack-jawed f#ggots around here. This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me.”
(Predator, 1987)

I don’t know how this relates...but it’s a great quote and deserves to be respected.

“Nice guy? I don't give a shit. Good father? F#ck you! Go home and play with your kids. You wanna work here - close! You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you c#cksucker? You can't take this, how can you take the abuse you get on a sit? You don't like it, leave.”
(Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992)

Fergie has never been the sentimental type. Easily enraged, the Fergie hairdryer is as much a part of footballing folklore as the Maracana, Hand of God, or a cevap roll at Bonnyrigg Sports Club.

And whilst Fergie is famous for shielding and protecting his juniors, famously pulling a teenage Ryan Giggs into line before his chest resembled a bear-skin rug, he's not been shy in making tough calls to cut loyal soldiers loose.

Two moments stand out. 1993/94 was Captain Marvel Bryan Robson’s last season at Old Trafford. By this stage Robson was a squad player, usually on the bench and making infrequent appearances. United made the FA Cup final and everyone was banking on Robson making the bench to at least have a shot at a final winner’s medal. Not Sir Alex, who ruthlessly left him out of the squad. In similar circumstances Captain Courageous Steve Bruce was left out of the squad for the 1996 FA Cup final against Liverpool, denying yet another club stalwart the chance for glory in his last club appearance.

“In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.”
Casino (1995)

Whether you celebrate Sir Alex as your patron saint, or your curse him like the devil incarnate, no one can argue he's isn't the greatest winner in football. Each time it seemed that a new challenger would finally take him down - Arsenal’s European invasion, Roman’s rubles or City’s petro dollars - Fergie was there waiting to strike back and bring the Holy Grail to the Theatre of Dreams. In the end…he won it all.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Simply the best

Glory, glory Man United rang around Old Trafford as the mighty Red Devils were crowned champions of England for the 20th time.

Shout out to my brothers and sisters in arms as we once again claim victory: Kum Steve, Koona, the Greek, Sash & son, Rocky, Red Devils in training Stefan and Petar, and all the other followers of the true faith. How many times have we had dirt kicked in our face, only to rise above and smite our enemies? At least 20!!!

There has been much conjecture and debate as to whether this is a truly great United side. Despite closing in on a record point total, and winning the league with a handful of games to spare, many detractors deride this team as being just good enough against sub-par opposition.

Whilst I don’t disagree that the likes of Carrick, Jones, Welbeck and a 40 year old Giggs are no match for Keane, Robson, Eric and Giggs in puberty…this team has one great player that is heads and shoulders above the rest.

Robin Van Persie.

24 million for a 29 year old injured plagued striker who hasn’t won anything significant in his career…money well spent I say. Just ask Roberto Mancini, who as early as December last year was citing RVP as the difference between the Red and Baby Blue sides of Manchester.

So here are 24 reasons why RVP is simply the best:

1. 24 goals this season, equating to a million bucks a strike. I’ll take them odds
2. In case you missed it check out goal number 23 . Some say its goal of the season. Bullsh#t I say – that’s goal of the millennium!
3. He hasn’t bitten anyone #luissuarez
4. He chose to sign for the great half of Manchester over the rubbish half

5. He hasn’t racially abused anyone #luissuarez

6. He scored the fastest goal of the season, the game a mere 32 seconds old against West Ham United
7. Gives a great hug
8. Ensured that we don’t have to rely on Wayne Rooney for everything #fatbastard
9. He’s not John Terry #johnterry
10. Corrected a penalty miss with a hat-trick against Southampton
11. He didn’t get into a training ground bust up with his manager #mariobalotelli
12. Scored against his old club to really stick the knife in
13. He’s not a fascist #paulodicanio
14. Scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory over Liverpool
15. Only player with two hat-tricks this season
16. Has a really simple goal celebration – the airplane. Classic
17. Clinched the derby with a last minute winner from a free kick
 18. His name definitely isn’t in a sealed envelope #brendanrodgers
19. Didn’t turn up on the doorstep of another club without a transfer being confirmed #peterodemwingie
20. Is staying at Old Trafford for three more seasons
21. Scored his first Man United goal with his first ever shot for the club
22. Listened to the little boy inside his head: "I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United."
23. He hasn’t bitten anyone #luissuarez (it needed repeating)
24. Delivered Man United a record 20th title