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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Red Devils Retain Top Spot, Gunners Overcome Big Game Blues & Man City Triumph At Newcastle

Manchester United retained their top spot in the Premier League till midweek as they beat Sunderland 2-0 at Old Trafford thanks to a brace from league top-scorer Dimitar Berbatov. It was a frustrating display from the Red Devils, who despite creating so many chances & dictating the game, failed to convert most of the opportunities that came by. The Black Cats, who were without key players Danny Welbeck & Lee Cattermole, never seemed to be in the game & ultimately paid the price. Man United will travel to play Birmingham next on Tuesday.

How The Rivals Fared This Week

In another big game, Arsenal overcame Chelsea 3-1 in the London derby to send the Gunners upto second place in the points table. Song, Fabregas & Walcott all netted for the Gunners before Ivanovic grabbed a consolation goal for the Blues. Arsenal now are 2 points behind league leaders Man United, who have a game in hand.

Man City, who travelled to St. James' Park on Boxing Day, beat Newcastle United 3-1 courtesy of a brace from club top-scorer Carlos Tevez alongwith Gareth Barry. England striker Andy Carroll continued his good run this season as he grabbed the only goal for the Geordies. Man City are currently on joint 2nd spot, behind Arsenal on goal difference.

Rafael Van der Vaart inspired Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-1 win over Aston Villa at Villa Park through his double strike for the London club. Marcus Albrighton threatened to split points but it was Spurs who took home 3 points at full time.

The current top four league standings are as under:

Man United - 37 points

Arsenal - 35 points

Man City - 35 points

Chelsea - 31 points

The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week: Arsenal

Player Of The Week: Luis Anderson

That's all Folks!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

In A Nutshell: Boxing Day Game, VDS To Hang His Boots, Park To Miss Out January And More...

Well I'm back - I haven't been able to write in the past week due to excessive workload, but with Christmas here, I have finally found time to write again! I wish all the readers of the blog a very Merry Christmas!

In this week's feature, we have a brief look at the game against Sunderland on Sunday, Sir Alex's decision on Edwin & much that happened at the club in the past week...

United Face Black Cats On Boxing Day

Manchester United face the men from Wearside in what promises to be a exciting encounter between two old friends' sides - Sir Alex Ferguson & former Red Devil Steve Bruce. In the league game earlier this season at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland dominated but stellar defending from the Red Devils saw them gain a point at full time.

However, Sunderland have played quite well this season, the highlight of their run so far being the 3-0 rout of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. The Black Cats have the fearsome trio of record signing Asamoah Gyan, Darren Bent & United on-loan striker Danny Welbeck upfront, with the midfield comprising of the likes of Cattermole, Henderson & Malbranque backed by a solid defence. Though in-form Danny Welbeck misses out on the game, Sunderland are a threat & shouldn't be underestimated. I hope United goes for the kill & grabs 3 points from the game to stay on top this New Year!

Big Dutchman To Retire At End Of Season

United's legendary goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar is all set to retire at the end of the 2010-11 season, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed this week. The Dutch stopper, who turned 40 this year, will hang up his boots to make way for new signing Anders Lindegaard & long time deputy Tomasz Kuszczak (if he stays).

Speaking to the press about VDS, Sir Alex said - "To be playing at our level at 40 years of age is amazing. You can only do it if you’ve got the structure of mind that Edwin’s got to be able to programme himself and train the way he does. He’s phenomenal, he truly is. He’s an outstanding man."

Park Major Absentee During Next Month

Midfielder Ji-Sung Park will miss out on seven games to be played in January, as he will be away on national duty for South Korea in the Asian Cup next month. The Korean has been in sublime form this season, scoring six goals this term for the Red Devils. But his presence should be minimally felt, with the possible return of young Tom Cleverley from loan & star winger Luis Antonio Valencia from an ankle injury in mid-January. Park will retire from international football after the Asian Cup, in a bid to extend his career at Old Trafford.

New Date For Postponed United-Chelsea Clash Announced

Manchester United's visit to Stamford Bridge last week was cancelled due to heavy snowfall in most parts of England, but the game has been rescheduled to March 1, which happens to be a midweek game. However, it will fall amid a series of away games as United travel to Marseille (23 February), Wigan (26 February) and Liverpool (5 March).

Though Sir Alex admits last weekend's postponement perhaps suited Chelsea more than United, with the London side currently struggling for top form, he retains confidence that his side can end a long winless run at Stamford Bridge.

What d'you think of the week's events guys? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

That's all Folks!


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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sir Alex Ferguson Becomes Longest Serving United Manager Ever

Manchester United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson today surpassed the legendary Sir Matt Busby to become the longest serving manager at Old Trafford ever. Sir Alex completed 24 years, 1 month & 14 days of his managerial career at the club to eclipse Sir Matt's record since joining the club on November 6, 1986. Sir Alex has been the most decorated manager in Premier League history, with the Red Devils winning 11 league titles, 5 FA Cups, 2 Champions League titles & the Club World Cup under him. Sir Alex also has a reputation of building great teams - his greatest team would undoubtedly be the one in the season of 1998/99 - when United became the first English team to win the Treble of the Premier League, Champions League & the FA Cup.

I, like my fellow United fans, would like to thank Sir Alex for his never-ending dedication, tireless service & unquestionable loyalty towards our club throughout all these years. May you ever go on for us Sir Alex, and continue to lead the club to glory in the times to come as you have done in the past 24 years...!!!

What are your thoughts on our legendary manager??? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

Like the blog??? You can now follow the blog on Twitter @TC_Sheriff - click here to see our Twitter page!

May Fergie Time Continue Forever!!!

That's all Folks!


In A Nutshell: All That Happened At Old Trafford In The Past Week

As most football fans will know, most Premier League games this weekend have been postponed due to snowfall in the past few days. Considering the fact that there isn't much footy action, there will be no edition of the EPL Weekly Round-Up this weekend. Instead, I present to you all that happened at the club in the past week - which was actually an eventful one! I hereby present you a new blog feature called 'In A Nutshell' -

Sunday Game At The Bridge Called Off

So yeah - despite having a day & a half to clear the snow out of the pitch at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's club officials decided to postpone this Sunday's top-of-the-table clash between Chelsea & Man United. Reason? On 'safety grounds' says the official statement - conspiracy theories anyone? Looks like Chelsea would be celebrating Christmas already (in relief - sigh!)...

United Legend Solskjaer Bids Goodbye To The Club

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who spent 14 years at United (11 as player, 3 in management) & scored 126 goals in just over 300 appearances, has finally left the club for the manager's position at Norwegian club FK Molde (from where he joined United). Ole, who guided the Manchester United Reserves to the Reserves Premier League title last season, bid the Old Trafford faithful goodbye after seeing out his last game as Reserves manager in a 5-1 win over Newcastle this week. The striker, known as 'The Baby-Faced Assassin', was always a fans' favourite during his time at the club & was given a fitting farewell at Old Trafford by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson during the Arsenal game, which was attended by former team-mates Gary Neville & David Beckham. I, like most of my fellow Red Devils, would like to wish Ole good luck in his new venture & would hope to see him manage United some day!

Anderson Pens New Deal To Extend Stay At OT

Apart from all the bad news, this was good news - Brazilian midfielder Luis Oliveira Anderson signed a new four-and-a-half deal with the club as an extension to his current 5-year deal! This means Ando will remain a United player till the summer of 2017. The Brazilian joined United from Porto in 2007 for a fee of £17 million, and had a highly successful first season, followed by a slump in the second & a season-long injury in the third. Amidst all this, there were reports of him falling out with Sir Alex coz of attitude problems & bad behaviour. But this season, Anderson has shown positive signs with a rich vein of form, shedding the tag of inconsistency visible in the past 3 seasons. I hope Ando's good run continues this season & in the times to come!

Scholes Ruled Out Till New Year

Paul Scholes, the veteran midfielder, has been ruled out with injury until the New Year. Till this weekend, it was supposed to be bad news since he would miss out on playing against Chelsea but since the game has been postponed, he probably won't! This also brings the realistic prospect of Michael Owen & Luis Antonio Valencia returning to the first team for the same fixture, which will be possibly played in January. That's the silver lining in this otherwise disappointing weekend I believe!

Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

That's all Folks!


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rival Rendezvous: Battle On The Bridge

Manchester United visit East London to play title rivals & defending champions Chelsea this Sunday in a bid to secure their first win at Stamford Bridge since 2002. On this occasion, I talked to Rahul - a Chelsea FC fan, the author of the blog 'Holiday Blogger' & a very dear friend of mine - regarding his thoughts on the game, the return of Lampard & Ashley Cole, the new kids off the block & all that's cooking at the Bridge...

1. Starting off, what are your pre-match thoughts on the Chelsea vs United game? Last season, Chelsea completed the league double over us which proved crucial to the Blues winning the title by a point...

Rahul: Chelsea vs Man Utd clashes have always been the most special fixtures of EPL as the the top two English teams go head-to-head with each other. As you rightly said, Chelsea did complete the league double over the Red Devils last season and I'm sure they would do the same this season too! No doubt United will try their best to register a win at Stamford Bridge since 2002.
Another interesting fact is that "The Red Devils have not beaten the Blues at Stamford Bridge during the Roman Abramovich era." With key players back in the team and an added "home' advantage, I'm quite sure Chelsea would clinch all the 3 points tomorrow.

2. Chelsea have won just once in their last 7 league games. What d'you think is the reason?

R: Probably the absence of key players due to injuries, release of big names and some poor management errors have been responsible for the slump so far. However, every team faces off-form periods which causes it to lose their confidence & a decline in morale. But I'm glad to say, Chelsea marked the end of 'gloomy days' in the second half of the game against Spurs, for sure!

3. Manchester United have been unbeaten in the league this season, though their away form hasn't been the most impressive. What are your thoughts on United & who has been our best player this season according to you?

R: United's unbeaten form would surely end this Sunday. Seven teams have a better away record this season than United, who have drawn six in seven. So all the odds are against United for the moment.
On a comical note, the best player so far is Wayne Rooney! He's been instrumental in United failing in its endeavours & I hope he's gonna help Chelsea at Stamford Bridge too! However to be honest, Park Ji Sung has really raised his game this season and he's a potential threat in the fixture tomorrow. On the other hand, Man Utd are considered the favorites to win the title this season as they are already at the top of the table with one game in hand.

4. This summer, Chelsea released big names like Ballack, Deco, Belletti, Carvalho & Joe Cole while Ramires & Benayoun have come in. Do you think that Abramovich has invested less than what's required?

R: No, I don't think so. Chelsea have a great team even after releasing those big names. Though this decision has affected the team to a certain extent, I feel the quality of the Chelsea bench remains supreme & we could beat any football club on Earth! Moreover, Ramires has been more than a useful player so far to the club and I'm waiting for Benayoun to get healed asap.

5. Chelsea's most important players like Lampard, Terry, Drogba & Ashley Cole are back from injury. Will that help in Chelsea revive their title defence?

R: But obviously! Lampard & Ashley Cole are superb play-makers. Lampard along with Essien in the mid-field can root out any mid-field battles! Drobga, the top scorer last season has a lot to contribute to the team and the captaincy of Terry is instrumental for the English Champions! Combine these four together, the title is ours for the taking!

6. There have been a lot of rumours about Carlo Ancelotti getting the sack in view of their worst run in the past decade. Do the fans still trust him?

R: Yes, we do. It's not easy to be a Chelsea manager. The feat he achieved last season, which was his first season at Chelsea, can't be undermined. Carlo Ancelloti & Roman Abramovich have made it clear that the contract will be honoured. So all those are not more than just rumours.

7. Abramovich recently said that he intended to make Chelsea self-dependent through reliance on the young kids off the Academy block. So who are the new kids you think are the ones to take Chelsea forward?

R: Josh McEachran, Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini, Gael Kakuta, Jeffrey Bruma & Patrick Van Aanholt are already made their way to the first team, though all are not from the Academy. Todd Kane & Ben Sampayo, both excellent right backs, Bobby Devyne, Clifford and many more youth players have excellent potential to take Chelsea forward.

8. Favourite Chelsea vs. United game?

R: I have been following the EPL since the last 2-3 seasons only. So I have to say the match at Old Trafford
last season was my favorite.

9. Favourite Chelsea player of all time?

R: (1) Lampard

(2) Drogba

10. Who will win the league this season (if not Chelsea)?

R: Arsenal.

11. On an ending note, what are your predictions on the scoreline of Sunday's game?

R: A 1-0 win to Chelsea!

I express my personal thanks to Rahul for talking to Traffordshire County. You can follow him on Twitter @RahulD08.

What are your thoughts on Sunday's game??? Feel free to comment below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

Red Devils Reign, United Again!

That's all Folks!


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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Man United Go Atop Beating Arsenal, Chelsea Held By Spurs & Troubled Newcastle Win

Manchester United grabbed the top spot of the league table beating Arsenal 1-0 at Old Trafford thanks to a sublime header from Park Ji-Sung in the first half. United pretty much dominated the game throughout & were guilty of missing a number of chances. Rooney, who played the game as a lone striker, was guilty of missing a penalty after Clichy handled the ball inside the box, but it hardly affected the final scoreline. The Red Devils travel to Stamford Bridge next week, with the advantage of a game in hand.

How The Rivals Fared This Week

Chelsea's winless run continued this week as they blew their chances of going atop against their London rivals Tottenham at Whit Hart Lane. Roman Pavlyuchenko put Spurs ahead as early as in the 9th minute but substitute Didier Drogba equalised for the Blues thanks to a blunder by the Spurs keeper Gomes. In injury time, Gomes was at it again when he brought down Ramires inside the box to concede a late penalty but redeemed himself by saving the resultant penalty from Drogba to hold Chelsea 1-1 at full time.

Man City, meanwhile beat West Ham 3-1 at Upton Park - Yaya Toure grabbing a brace to help the Manc Blues retain their spot in the top four.

Liverpool's mixed fortunes were again on display as they went down 3-1 to Newcastle United at St. James Park. Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton & Andy Carroll all netted for the Magpies in what was Alan Pardew's first game as manager since the sacking of Chris Hughton.

The current top four league standings are as under:

Man United - 34 points

Arsenal - 32 points

Man City - 32 points

Chelsea - 31 points

The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week: Manchester United

Player Of The Week: Rafael Da Silva

That's all Folks!


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Rival Rendezvous: The Gunner Perspective On United Vs. Arsenal

Welcome to the blog's new feature called 'Rival Rendezvous' in which we talk to fans of rival clubs regarding pre-match thoughts, their perspective on United & everything else! In the first edition, we start off with three Arsenal fans - Akhil Vyas & Tejaswi of the Arsenal FC blog '11 Gunners' plus another Arsenal FC fan & blogger Amreen...

1. Starting off, what are your pre-match thoughts on Man United vs. Arsenal? Last season, you guys ran us really close at Old Trafford...

11 Gunners: Yeah feeling quite positive, we were outstanding at OT last year but conceded two very silly goals when Almunia was accused of bringing down Rooney and Diaby's OG; so we are confident plus our away record is the best in the league at the moment.

Amreen: We sure did, and I think it's gonna be a close one this time too. We've matured since the last time we faced you'll and it is going to be a much tougher competition this time. Our players have grown and Manchester United no longer remains an intimidating team for us. I'm sure we can face you guys head on, and probably win too :P

2. Who do you think will prove to be the most important Gunner this season?

11G: Well Sammy Nasri is the man on another level at the moment. His playing with freedom and has been
amazing this season so far. He is certainly the key man at the moment but it would nice to see Cesc Fabregas and Tommy Vermaelen back to full fitness too as they are massive parts of our team.

A: Samir Nasri is in peak form, so naturally one expects a lot from him especially since Fabregas isn't around. It was Theo Walcott who stole the limelight last season, I guess it's Jack Wilshere's time now!

3. Arsenal scraped through the Champions League group stages despite scoring so many goals. In addition, Arsenal has lost to West Brom, Spurs & Newcastle at home in the league. Do you think that the defence is at fault apart from the goalkeeper issue?

11G: When you win, they say the team won but when you lose, they blame someone. I think the entire team was at fault. Against WBA and Newcastle, the offensive side of the team were not playing well either and we were very flat. Defeats happen as the league has shown. Others are dropping a lot of points too. I think Fabianski has done well since coming in.

A: We tend to misjudge our opponents at times and take them very lightly, and that's when they strike. Fabianski has improved over the past games, but there's still a lot of homework for him to do.

4. Favourite United vs. Arsenal game?

11G: Season 97/98 when Overmars scored the winner comes close but it has to be when we won the league there in 2002 when Wiltord got the goal.
To win the title at Old Trafford was very special. It was after 4 years of not winning the league and to beat the champions in their own back yard meant a lot. To go to Old Trafford without Henry and Bergkamp our main strikers and Tony Adams our captain and best CB were all out, yet we still won. The game was played a few days after the Cup final too, whereas Utd had a big rest. To complete the double was vital and was a great end for Adams and Dixon who retired that season.

A: May 2009, Arsenal 0-0 Manchester United; played at Old Trafford

5. Favourite Arsenal player of all time (vs United)?

11G: Patrick Vieira. Played with great heart and played for the shirt. Watching Vieira and Keane was a highlight of that era and the way they both defended their team was stuff legends are made of.

A: Thierry Henry and Gael Clichy.

6. Who will win the title this season (if not Arsenal)?

11G: Arsenal!

A: Manchester United :D

7. And on a final note, what's your score-line prediction for the Monday night game?

11G: Arsenal to win 2-1. C’mon you Arsenal!

A: Arsenal 3 Manchester United 2

I thank Akhil Vyas (Intern, The Mirror, UK) & Tejaswi for 11Gunners (India’s first blog on Arsenal FC!) and Amreen (Bloggerani) for talking to Traffordshire County for this special blog feature.

I'd like to tell the readers of Traffordshire County that we have completed 1000 pageviews in less than 2 months! I, as the author of this blog, would like to thank our readers for their love & support... Hope it continues in the times to come!

That's all Folks!


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Traffordshire County Poll Results Out!

Last month, Traffordshire County started a poll on the blog, asking the readers to vote for the Red Devil they felt had been crucial to Manchester United's title challenge this season. The readers had to choose between Nemanja Vidic, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez, Luis Nani, Paul Scholes & Any Other Player they felt deserved special mention. Readers had the choice of multiple voting here. In all, 23 readers voted during the 20-day poll & we received a total of 49 votes.

United's mercurial winger Luis Nani grabbed the top spot, receiving 56% of the readers' votes, followed by United skipper Nemanja Vidic who received 52% of the votes. Paul Scholes was third with 34% of the votes in his favour.

The complete poll results are as under:

Luis Nani - 13 votes (56%)

Nemanja Vidic - 12 votes (52%)

Paul Scholes - 8 votes (34%)

Javier Hernandez - 6 votes (26%)

Any Other Player - 6 votes (26%)

Dimitar Berbatov - 4 votes (17%)

On a final note, I'd like to thank all readers who voted on the poll.

That's all Folks!


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Monday, December 6, 2010

EPL Weekly Round-Up: Man United Game Called-Off, Arsenal Go Atop With Win Over Cottagers & Chelsea Held At Home

Manchester United & Blackpool turned out to be the only victims of the recent snowfall in England as Bloomfield Road failed to recover in time from a frozen pitch... Newly-promoted Blackpool are the only Premiership club not to have the facility of under-soil heating, as a result of which the match had to be called off... According to some reports, the game has been postponed till mid-January & will probably be played after the FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool...

How The Rivals Fared This Week

Arsenal beat London rivals Fulham 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium to reach the top spot in the league... Midfielder Samir Nasri was in delightful form, continuing his great run this season with a brace against the Cottagers... The Gunners now lie a point ahead of second-placed Man United, who have a game in hand...

Chelsea's woes didn't end this week as they failed to beat Everton at Stamford Bridge... Didier Drogba put the Blues ahead from the penalty spot in the 1st half but the Merseysiders clawed back to finish 1-1 at full-time as summer signing Jermaine Beckford netted a late equaliser...

Craig Gardner salvaged a point for Birmingham City against Tottenham Hotspur as he scored in the 81st minute to cancel out Sebastian Bassong's early strike...

Manchester City grabbed full points at home as they edged out Bolton Wanderers 1-0 thanks to a goal from club top-scorer Carlos Tevez to stay in the top four...

Meanwhile, United's on-loan midfielder Tom Cleverley scored the equaliser for Wigan Athletic against Stoke City as the scoreline stood 2-2 at full-time...

The current top four league standings are as under:

Arsenal - 32 points

Man United - 31 points

Chelsea - 30 points

Man City - 29 points

The Weekly Verdict:

Team Of The Week - Arsenal

Player Of The Week - Samir Nasri

[Note: The results of the Liverpool vs. Aston Villa are not mentioned as the game's on Monday night]

What d'you think of this week's results? Feel free to leave your comments below & I'll get back to you right away!

You can follow me on Twitter @AbhinavCJ... In case you'd like to write for the blog, you can contact The Sheriff via email or drop me a line on Twitter...

Less than a week left to vote for the Red Devil who you feel has been invaluable to us this season!!! Check out the poll (top right of homepage) & vote for your favourite player before time runs out...!!!

That's all Folks!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Man United Edges Out Liverpool To Emerge Most Popular EPL Club In India

One of India's leading media houses - NDTV conducted a poll last month (i.e. November) among 43000+ people to find out the most popular EPL club in India... Unsurprisingly, Manchester United was voted the most popular club with Liverpool (surprisingly!) finishing a really close second...

The results of the poll are as under:

Manchester United - 32.2% (14,117 votes)

Liverpool - 31.37% (13,751 votes)

Chelsea - 18.26% (8,003 votes)

Arsenal - 17.17% (7,525 votes)

Tottenham Hotspur - 1% (439 votes)

No mention of Manchester City despite buying such a great bunch of individuals - did anyone expect them to be on the list anyway?! Also didn't expect Arsenal & Chelsea to be behind Liverpool in terms of popularity but then - when we are on top, who gives a damn about them???

Red Devils Reign, United Again!!!

That's all Folks!


Friday, December 3, 2010

In & Out: Heading Towards The Exit Door?

Welcome to the second instalment of the blog's feature on club transfers - the 'In & Out' series!!! In this feature we today look at the players who most fans feel should be heading towards Old Trafford's exit door - either on a permanent transfer or on loan...

First we have a look at the players fans feel that their time's up at the club -

Darron Gibson

Alright - even I agree that he is one of those few United players who can score from outside the box, but the biggest reason that he's on the top of this list is simply coz he's not good enough for United! The Irishman hasn't really improved in the past few seasons even though he broke into the squad two years ago & still struggles to make it to the Carling Cup squad... Once touted to be Scholes's successor, Gibbo doesn't have great passing skills either & hence needs to be shown the door at the club...

Tomasz Kuszczak

This almost looks certain isn't it? The Pole has often proved to be a worthy deputy to the great Edwin Van der Sar with his shot-stopping ability, but he hasn't been able to displace the Dutchman's No.1 status... His capability to collect dangerous long balls from corners & spot-kicks isn't upto the mark either... Last week, United signed Danish international Anders Lindegaard & the club is rumoured to be in talks for a £20 million move for Atletico Madrid stopper David De Gea... With opportunities limited, he should be seeking greener pastures...

John O'shea

More than the eyebrows raised about Rooney's contract, I was puzzled to learn that O'shea had signed a new £80,000-a-week contract that will keep him at the club till 2014... Let me make it clear that I absolutely adore the Irishman coz of his loyalty towards the club & his readiness to play in any position, be it as a full-back or holding midfielder... But post his injury last season, he hasn't been the same reliable player as before & has more than often looked rusty this season... With his popularity rapidly waning among the Old Trafford faithful, O'shea faces a real fight to keep his place in the team...

Mame Biram Diouf

The 20-year-old Senegalese striker scored on his Premier League home debut coming on as a substitute in a 3-0 win over Burnley... Diouf, who joined United from Norwegian club FK Molde (United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first club) in January 2010 has struggled to make a big impact since, which resulted in him being loaned to Blackburn Rovers for the season... Diouf has been impressive till date, grabbing 5 goals this season including a hat-trick against Norwich in the League Cup... But the factor that goes against him is the abundance of strikers at Old Trafford in the form of Rooney, Berbatov, Chicharito, Owen & Macheda... With Danny Welbeck realising his potential & set to be back next season, Diouf may find himself scavenging for games & hence I believe it will be better for him to seek opportunities elsewhere...

Then we look at the players who will do well with a loan spell either in the Premier League or in the lower leagues -

Jonathan Evans

The Northern Ireland centre-back is just 23 & touted to have a great future at Old Trafford, but his recent form has been contradictory to the above... Evans, who was blooded into the first team last season in the wake of the 'Great Defensive Crisis', rose steadily to the challenge & showed in the absence of Rio Ferdinand that he had all the makings of a great footballer, displaying a sense of maturity unknown to players of his age... But this season, he has made some costly errors at crucial junctures, resulting in the team often dropping points from winning positions... The recent 4-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham in the Carling Cup had some calling for him to be axed from the squad... With summer signing Chris Smalling moving above him in the pecking order, I firmly believe a loan spell away from Old Trafford will do Jonny a whole lot of good...

Federico Macheda

Surprised??? Well I ain't in two minds about this at all! Though he's only 19, he's been used mostly as an impact substitute in the league & as a regular in the Champions League group stage against weaker opposition... Macheda is a magnificent finisher but his off-the-ball movement still requires a lot of improvement, which will come with experience... Fans will be aware of him losing heart in the absence of first-team opportunities & so I think Macheda needs to spend the second half of the season playing at another club where he will get more games...

Magnus Eikrem

The talented Norwegian midfielder, who is also the captain of the Reserves squad, has been a consistent performer in the past two seasons but somehow, a place in the starting XI has continued to elude him... Barring a substitute appearance vs. Wolves last season in the Carling Cup, Eikrem hasn't made the cut despite his good showing in the Reserves... A loan move to a Premier League club may enable him to prove to the manager that he indeed deserves to play at the highest level...

What d'you think guys??? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you right away!

Vote for the Red Devil you feel has been United's MVP (Most Vital Player) this season! Check out the poll on the blog & vote before time runs out!!!

And on a final note, I'd personally like to thank people on Twitter like ManUtd24, Mihir, Doron, Mary, Sarah, Tejash, Mayank, Martin, Mike, Daniel, Mark, Raj & ManUnitedTalk for their opinions on this matter...

That's all Folks!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Second Serve: No Better Time & Place To Lose Than Now!

Let me start by saying I was one of the more fortunate guys not to witness the horrible manner we crashed out of the Carling Cup last night to West Ham... Losing 4-0 isn't something you generally associate with Manchester United, even if it's an away game with a second-string side in the Mickey Mouse Cup!!!

For West Ham United fans (the club is currently languishing at the bottom of the league table), last night will be memorable given the convincing manner they beat us... In a Premier League season that hasn't been fruitful either, the ticket to the League Cup semis will be a breath of fresh air for the Hammers...

I, like many other United fans, genuinely thought that the trophy was there for the taking since rivals like Chelsea, Liverpool & Man City had already been knocked out... But then, I firmly believe that this loss couldn't have come at a better time & a better place... Manchester United's 29-game unbeaten streak in all competitions came to a halt, but thankfully it came in a tournament that Sir Alex has long used as an opportunity to give his fringe players to prove themselves worthy of a place in the first team...

Many fans would agree with me on the fact that the Carling Cup isn't the first priority on our list of trophies... I personally believe that even the FA Cup is more important than it & it's high time we had the trophy back in the cabinet where it has stayed for a record number of times!

Again, Carling Cup draws more than often prove to be a distraction for the players in the wake of more important tournaments like the Champions League... A big club like United has always prioritised winning the Premier League & the European Championship, as a result of which even our fringe players need to be prepared for these games rather than domestic competitions... United are in the hunt for big fish every season & hence it's important that the focus must be in doing well in the league & the European Cup...

Sir Alex spoke to the press post-match & said that 'his players had learnt a valuable lesson' losing to West Ham... There can be no better time to have lost given the possibility of complacency setting in following the 7-1 drubbing of Blackburn this past weekend... This loss should serve a timely reminder to the players that they need to stay grounded & retain the hunger required to win silverware throughout the course of the season...

What d'you think of this??? Feel free to leave your comments below or drop me a line on Twitter @AbhinavCJ & I'll get back to you immediately... You can follow this blog on Google Friend Connect via your Google/Twitter/Yahoo ID...

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That's all Folks!