Red and Write – A Case for the Defence

The Pedro and Otamendi deals hit the Manchester United fanbase hard. After months of replying to the every tweet from the club account with desperate pleas for them to announce the signings of these two players, they have ended up at title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City respectively. The Argentine and Spaniard were seen as the answers to the team’s main issues: centre back and attack. In the past two years, Old Trafford has seen an evacuation of experienced defenders with Rio Ferdinand allowed to leave for free and Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra securing moves to Serie A clubs. In attack, this summer has seen the once talismanic figures of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao leave with little fuss whilst the club record signing Angel di Maria left for Paris in a less quiet fashion. At first glance it appears that there are gaps at both ends of the pitch that United must patch. However, this may not be the case.

Louis Van Gaal’s first season in charge was punctuated by defensive mishaps. The enduring images of the season will be the misguided attempt to introduce 3-5-2, the MK Dons humiliation in the league cup and that comeback by Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. The last of these seemed to have a huge effect on the Dutch manager’s attitude and from then on there was a new emphasis placed on physicality and defensive solidity. United then failed to keep a clean sheet in their next five games until Michael Carrick’s return to the team in November against Crystal Palace. This is where the case for United’s defence kicks in.

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Seven and the Ragged Tiger

SO that was the summer. Falcao went but we expected him to be off, Nani went too but he had been on loan so long you probably forgot we even still owned him.  The pea came back, a bit hairier than I remember him and whilst it’s fair to say the break was in both parties’ best interests I am glad to see it wasn’t a break up. There may still be some United resurrection for  Javier, that is something which Angel Di Maria didn’t need, want, look for or deserve quite frankly; whether he was unsettled in Manchester or unhappy at United (tried engineering a move to the blue lot across the road, did he? Snake), I care not – it nosedived spectacularly for that boy but I do think the new number seven will be fine with standing on the shoulders of giants. For a while it did seem like no one would be good enough, Robson, Beckham, Ronaldo… who could possibly follow that? United saw fit to bring the 7 down a peg or two, in the modern world it was perhaps becoming the Raheem Stirling of squad numbers; too big for its boots, so we cleansed it, with Michael Owen. Then there was the time Tony V was too scared, we gave it to Angel Di Maria – for all of one year. Following David Beckham, Ronaldo? New occupant Memphis might be a little scared, but following that Argentinian piece of work? I’m quite sure Memphis tra la la’d into Big L’s office and said “thanks boss, I can definitely follow that!”

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Get Down and Get With It

GIVEN TO SCORE makes no apologies for joining the thousands of voices that proclaim tonight’s game with Real Madrid one of the most exciting encounters in our recent history, at least potentially. Given the epic build up on television, in print and in fan voice, there’s a chance that it could fail to deliver; but it’s a small chance so let’s just sit back and think of what is to come.

Ronaldo is good but he still shits and wipes his arse. He is still human.

The Manchester United team are saying all the right things, pointing out that we have waited for a night like this since the disastrous European adventure last year. The team let themselves down last year and in voice at least they seem determined to right that wrong. We have long memories, we know how last season’s European failure hurt and we can only hope it was felt by each man in red but further back than that was Munich, Milan, those hurt too.

I know it’s easy to analyse when you are safely behind a notebook. You can be proper brave with a pen in your hand and as I sit here looking out of my window at snow, Madrid feels like a zillion miles away but for those about to step out and attempt to do the business for Manchester United, there’s reasons to be positive.

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Something Special That Way Goes

YOU  knew this day was coming, we all knew this day was coming. and normally we don’t do much on a player when they have left, but allow us to break the pattern if we may because Dimitar Berbatov signed for Fulham Football Club a short time ago. We normally don’t write about departures because by the time they go it’s either Fergie admitting they were not up to the job and they’ve already been on loan for 2 of their 4 year contract, OR they became a proper worldy and everyone and his dog knows they are off…to Madrid.

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Man of the Hour

Has Mark Hughes put the playing career in his rearviewmirror to become a manager that could take the OT hotseat?

SOMETHING became very apparent to me when watching United versus QPR recently, and no it wasn’t how ridiculously awesome I looked in the steward like bright yellow jacket…it was this, Mark Hughes is becoming quite the manager on the quiet (and loud sometimes too, admittedly). He seems to be gathering up experience like a managerial kleptomaniac.

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Obertan Over and Out!

The ball is behind you, much like your United career!

The GTS offices have been buzzing recently, happily getting the site back up and running and enjoying the win over Man Citeh. We got even more happiness coming our way with confirmation of Gabriel Obertan’s departure from Old Trafford.

Obertan, who joined the Premier League Champions from the cutbutter world of French football two years ago, has somewhat struggled to make an impact on the team. That’s putting it politely.

If only the size of his talent matched the size of his head, alas it was not to be and Alan Pardew, Newcastle United manager and top of the GtS christmas card list swooped to buy. Pardew said recently that he has been watching Obertan since he joined Manchester United. Despite that he was willing to part with actual money for Gabriel’s services.

On exiting Old Trafford, Gabriel says that our strength in-depth was a hurdle he could not get over: “It was a bit difficult with the competition and I really needed a club where I could play more games”. That’s French for ‘I wasn’t good enough for Manchester United but Newcastle are a bit crapper and I’ll be good enough to play most weeks if I’m not injured.’

Given to Score would like to wish Gabriel every success in whatever he attempts next, even playing football.