Category: Manchester United


The Premier League season begins tomorrow, but there will be no Sir Alex Ferguson in sight. Perhaps some journalists, pundits, and fans will be reminded of the late comic, Spike Milligan, who used to end many of his comedy sketches by staring at the camera and asking: “What are we going to do now?”

Winning start | New Manchester United manager David Moyes has already won a trophy, but the real battle is about to begin. (Image | Daily Telegraph)

Winning start | New Manchester United manager David Moyes has already won a trophy, but the real battle is about to begin. (Image | Daily Telegraph)

Fergie may be gone, but the Premier League juggernaut continues, and it appears that the race for the 2013/14 title will be between three clubs: Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.

United are used to approaching the season under intense scrutiny, but this this time the pressure is different, for other clubs will see the Red Devils as a kingdom without a strong leader.

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David Moyes, Manchester United's new manager, has been quick to make his mark on the club's coaching infrastructure (Image | Sky)

David Moyes, Manchester United’s new manager, has been quick to make his mark on the club’s coaching infrastructure (Image | Sky)

As a Manchester United supporter, I was entirely pleased (and not surprised) when David Moyes was appointed the successor to Sir Alex Ferguson. What came as more of a surprise, however, was the subsequent overhaul of the Old Trafford coaching staff.

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Ben Watson's 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Ben Watson’s 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Last week may have seen the first significant news of the football off-season, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Following the retirement of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, and David Moyes’ arrival at Old Trafford as his successor, there has been plenty more big news in the past seven days.

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When the rumours about Sir Alex Ferguson retiring first surfaced on Twitter late on Tuesday evening, sparked by Daily Telegraph journalist Mark Ogden, I was sceptical.

CAPTION | Words. (Image | The Guardian)

End of an era | Some commentators have dubbed Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement the “fall of the footballing Berlin Wall”. (Image | The Guardian)

After all, Ferguson had planned to retire back in 2001, only to recant. The venerable Scot was such a fixture in British football that the thought of him no longer prowling the Old Trafford touchline, while incessantly chomping on a stick of chewing gum, seemed a too absurd a prospect to countenance.

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As another sporting year begins there may be a certain feeling that nothing could top the unforgettable year of 2012, which saw a magnificent Olympic Games, the European Championships, a British Grand Slam winner after so long and much more.

Mario Balotelli | Why, oh why is it always him? (Image | Manchester City FC)

Mario Balotelli | Having once again hit the headlines after a row with manager Roberto Mancini in training, we ask: why, oh why is it always him? (Image | Manchester City FC)

However, there are more than enough prizes to be decided over the next 12 months, some of which are fairly easy to predict, while others remain very much open to debate.

The Armchair Pundits, therefore, has taken a look at the calendar and pinpointed five “sure-fire successes”, some of which are bound to be as controversial as Mario Balotelli and about as likely as Tom Daley being handed his own diving-themed show on televi… Oh, hang on.

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Those fond of a bet or two would have been delighted to know that Manchester City had suffered defeat twice in a row against lowly Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland midfielder Adam Johnson celebrates scoring against his former club. (Image | Daily Mail)

Payback | Sunderland midfielder Adam Johnson celebrates scoring against his former club. (Image | Daily Mail)

It would have been an even more pleasant surprise to anyone brave enough to put money on the Black Cats to make it three 1-0 victories in a row yesterday to find that this was exactly what happened.

Far from playing like Premier League champions, the Citizens were sluggish and the result by no means flattered Martin O’Neill’s side, who had several chances to put the game to bed.

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Spellbinding | Ajax’s two mesmerising performances against Manchester City have put Dutch football back on the map after a long spell on the sidelines. (Image | Getty)

This week in Europe may have turned into the week of the comeback for the English quartet, but there can be little doubt, if any lingered, that the Premier League’s finest are no longer Europe’s dominant force.

Remember that spell when there were three English clubs in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League every year between 2008 and 2010?

At this time, footballing knowledge suggested that the continent had been conquered by Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Well, can you really see that happening this year?

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Sergio Aguero fires past Paddy Kenny to secure Manchester City‘s first title in 44 years. (Image | The Guardian)

The ultimate round of matches of the 2011-2012 Premier League season had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. In this vein, footballing clichés were wheeled out by the bucket load. At Manchester City, it really was a game of two halves, as the league leaders thoroughly pummelled the Queens Park Rangers defence, peppering shots at Paddy Kenny and any other body the R’s could get in the way. 44 of them, in fact. With Manchester United maintaining a 1-0 lead over Sunderland for the majority of the game at the Stadium of Light, all eyes were on the Etihad Stadium. Pablo Zabaleta set the Citizens on their way just before half-time, at almost exactly the same point as Bolton Wanderers completed their turnaround against Stoke City to take a 2-1 lead. QPR were relegated, Bolton were staying up, and City had a hand on the trophy. Surely this would be it from Mark Hughes’ ultra-defensive side?

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One has to wonder whether Diego, or any of his team mates, would accept English clubs’ blanket assertion that the Europa League is not an important part of modern football. (Image | Bleacher Report)

Atlético Madrid won the Europa League last night, thanks primarily to a concerted display of attacking football from Radamel Falcao. The Colombian hit man has netted 12 times in the competition this season, and this impressive strike rate will likely see England’s big guns make a move for the 26-year-old in the summer. Still, if you asked Harry Redknapp, Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, Roberto Mancini or any other manager from the footballing “elite” of this country, they would tell you that the Europa League is a worthless competition. Some may even go so far as to suggest that it ought to be abolished, because it simply “doesn’t matter.” Tell that to the Spanish. And the Portuguese.

The disdain for the Europa League in England is typical of the haughty, arrogant manner in which we judge the various merits and weaknesses of our own competition, which disgracefully extends to the Premier League and nothing else, and that of the rest of Europe. Are we missing something here? The answer is yes. Far from being some sort of mickey-mouse, two bit little tournament, the Europa League is the second most prestigious pan-European competition.

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Andre Villas-Boas was sacked as Chelsea manager Sunday after a 1-0 away loss to West Brom

Well, the inevitable happened again. Chelsea fired a manager. Big deal.

Andre Villas-Boas has looked ready for the chop since Christmas. The youngest manager in the Premier League, in his third season as a manager, sitting in the hottest seat in world football? Working for the most trigger-happy owner in top-class sport with a record of three wins in 12 games? Fighting a losing battle in seemingly trying coerce a group of veteran superstars into his new-age training and tactical methods? It could never last.

And yet, after casting aside numerous more successful managers without a second blink, that trigger-happy owner didn’t want to fire this one.

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