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Manchester United 2014 Review Part 1.

Manchester United’s last twelve months will be remembered as unremarkable for a club that had enjoyed unparalleled success, year after year, under Sir Alex Ferguson.

A turbulent year that saw United have three managers, players coming in and players going out, The ‘transition’ period of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal’s ‘revolution’, Ryan Giggs’s promotion, retirement, and promotion, one manager calling the dreaded enemy Liverpool the favourites, another beating them. Fans who have had to endure the worst year in the club’s illustrious recent history, who also had to put up with the ridicule that came with that, but followers who never stopped cheering on the team, home and away, through the good but mostly bad times.

Twelve months in which United were unable to finish the season in the top four of the Premier League, therefore failing to qualify for a place at the top table of the Champions League for the first time in some fan’s living memory. A period in which detractors of United enjoyed twisting the knife into a wounded club, and enjoyed all the pain it caused to the real fans.

In part 1 of my review of the year, I will share my thoughts on the period from January up until the end of the 2013-14 season.

The New Year started ominously for Manchester United and the manager David Moyes.

Sitting in a lowly position in the league they lost three matches with the same scoreline 1-2 within the first seven days. Starting with a loss away to Spurs, a home defeat to Swansea, which meant they were out of the FA Cup in the 3rd round, and lastly losing to Sunderland in the 1st leg of the league cup semi-final, eventually exiting the competition in a penalty shoot out.

The mood was lifted by the record signing of Juan Mata from Chelsea. The Spaniard, Chelsea fan’s player of the season for the previous two years, arrived at Carrington training ground by helicopter. The fee of £37.1 million, seemed a little excessive for a player that had been left on the bench by Chelsea coach Mourinho for most of the season. Having said that, here was a quality play maker, and a signing that gave under pressure Moyes some respite. The downside of Mata joining was that he was cup tied for the upcoming Champions League knock out stage matches.

Over the course of the next two months United would lose to Chelsea and Stoke City, draw with Fulham and Arsenal, but even worse was that both Liverpool and Man City came to Old Trafford and both won with the same scoreline, 3-0.

In between that terrible run were the matches against Olympiakos in the last 16 of the Champions League. Falling to a 2-0 defeat in the first leg in Greece, United faced an uphill struggle in the return leg at Old Trafford. Needing to overturn the deficit by scoring at least three goals. The team put on a performance reminiscent of the European glory nights of the past under the floodlights of the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Robin van Persie was the hero of the match by completing a brilliant hat-trick as the reds won 3-0 to seal their place in the next round.

However, elation was soon reduced to deflation, as news came of an injury to the team’s star striker. Van Persie, who picked up an injury in the match, would be facing a lengthy time on the sidelines. A huge blow to United and especially Moyes, who had the added problem of trying to beat Bayern Munich in the quarter finals of the Champions League.

Something clearly was not right at United. The fans started to voice their feelings, even going as far to hire a plane to fly over Old Trafford during the home match against Aston Villa, which displayed the message “Wrong One – Moyes Out”

But United ran out 4-1 winners that day, and Moyes told the press afterwards that he still had the support of the fans. Which clearly he hadn’t.

The team’s Champions League journey, where Moyes had enjoyed his best run of results, came to an end with defeat by Bayern Munich over the two legs, 2-4 on aggregate. Pep Guardiola’s team had given United a lesson in organisation and teamwork. They had too much quality over the two matches. Without the goal threat of van Persie, United didn’t really stand a chance.

The remote possibility of bringing silverware to Old Trafford had gone, which prompted calls by the fans, and the media alike, for Moyes, and more importantly United, to be put out of their misery.
The final straw for Moyes came with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of his former side Everton at Goodison Park, two days later the club announced that the ‘Chosen One’ had been sacked.

When it was revealed that Moyes had been chosen by Ferguson as his ideal replacement back in 2013, a lot of head scratching followed, but everybody to a man, and woman, stood behind his appointment. I believe that it was a step too far up the management ladder for Moyes, who had been at Everton for 10 years but won nothing. He lacked the experience for such a huge task at arguably the biggest club in the world. I do have a little sympathy for his situation, but not too much, as his pockets bulged with a sizeable £5 million in compensation. Not bad for ten months of suffering, not by him but by the fans.

After the departure of David Moyes, it was left to the popular choice of Ryan Giggs to step up and lead United through the remainder of the season, and to try and end it on a positive note. Once in place Giggs immediately called up the help of his friends from the class of ’92, all except David Beckham and Gary Neville. What a sight it must have been at Carrington to see Giggs, Butt, P.Neville and Scholes leading the training sessions.

The boost in the teams morale showed in the first match against Norwich City, in which a rampant United team ran out 4-0 winners. Poor Norwich didn’t stand a chance in a pumped up Old Trafford. The atmosphere was electric, as Giggs strolled down the touchline soaking up the rapturous applause from the home fans. He also looked the part in his club suit, and had an air of authority about him. Not only did the suit fit, but also the position of interim manager suited him perfectly.

The team played with a new found confidence that day, as they seemed to be released from the shackles that had held them back under Moyes. They went on the attack with a free flowing style that even Giggs would have been proud to be a part of, had he not dropped himself!

Another away defeat to Sunderland brought everybody back down to earth with a bump as that wasn’t in the script. The final home match of the season was against Hull City. A match in which Giggs showed that he wasn’t afraid to put faith in the youngsters by giving debuts to James Wilson and Tom Lawrence.

Wilson responded to his inclusion by netting a brace, and proved that United had another future star in the making. United ran out 3-1 winners on a day which would see Ryan Giggs play his final match in the shirt of his beloved Red Devils. His retirement as a player being announced in his after match speech to the Old Trafford faithful.

The last match of the season was a dour 1-1 draw away at Southampton. A match which also saw the end of three stalwarts of United’s defence over the previous decade. Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra all ending their playing days with United.

United finished a hugely disappointing season empty handed and an embarrassing seventh in the league. There was a feeling of thank god that was over so the rebuilding could begin. The situation the club found themselves in could only improve.

On the 28th of May it was announced that Malcolm Glazer, the patriarch of the Glazer family that owns the club, had died. His sons would continue to run the club.

After the euphoria of Giggs being appointed interim manager, it was still obvious to all that the squad would need an overhaul in the Summer. The biggest question was whether Giggs would be given the ultimate responsibility, or would the club go for a new team manager with the experience in management needed to take on such a big challenge.

Fans were calling for Giggs to be given a crack of the whip, as he clearly had the players support behind him. Realistically though, they knew if the good times were to return to the club quickly, then the appointment of a manager with the personality and knowledge to turn the club’s fortunes around was needed. The hard work had to start again, a new chapter in this great club’s history was about to begin.

The speculation of who it would be was ended on the 19th of May with the announcement that the Dutch national manager, Louis van Gaal, had been offered, and had accepted the illustrious position of Manchester United manager.

The revolution had begun.

To be continued…

Thanks for taking the time to read part 1 of my Man Utd year review.

Part 2 will be available soon.

Miles Dunton | FacebookTwitter


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Players that have been Devils & Villans.

With Manchester United playing Aston Villa at Villa Park this Saturday, I thought I would take a look at the players who have turned out for both teams ahead of this weekend’s clash.
Jimmy Rimmer.
Manchester United: 1965–1974 App: 45 (1 sub)
A Lancashire lad, Rimmer joined Manchester United as a schoolboy in 1963, turning professional two years later. He spent eleven years at Old Trafford, chiefly as Alex Stepney’s understudy. He was a substitute in the 1968 European Cup final and received a winners medal despite not getting on the pitch.
With Stepney ruling between the sticks. Rimmer only managed to play 46 times for United in total. In 1973 he went to Swansea City on loan and impressed as first-team goalkeeper, enough that Arsenal signed him from United in February 1974, eyeing him as a long-term replacement for Bob Wilson. He stayed until 1977 when he enjoyed a spell of six years at Aston Villa.
In 1982 Villa reached the European Cup final, but Rimmer was injured after only nine minutes and had to be replaced by the young Nigel Spink. However, Villa beat Bayern Munich 1-0, meaning Rimmer became the second player in history to get a European Cup winners’ medal at two different clubs, despite the fact that he only played in one match.
Paul McGrath.
Sport, Football, League Division One, 31st August 1987, Manchester United 3 v Chelsea 1, Manchester United's Paul McGrath
Manchester United: 1982–1989 App: 192 (7 sub)
McGrath moved to Manchester United in 1982 when Ron Atkinson was the manager of United. In his formative years he was used in midfield but as time progressed he became a standout center half. He won the FA Cup in 1985 when United defeated Everton at Wembley and was even named man of the match, a match that was remembered for the first red card in an FA Cup final with the sending off of his defensive partner Kevin Moran.
When Alex Ferguson took over from Atkinson in 1986 the drinking culture began to rear it’s head, at the center was McGrath, and that’s when things began to take a turn for the worse. McGrath, due to chronic knee problems and alcohol addiction, was offered retirement along with a testimonial, and a substantial financial package by a frustrated Ferguson, as the manager believed that McGrath’s best days were past. In the end Aston Villa bought him for £400,000 in 1989.
McGrath went on to play for the Villans until 1996, making over 250 appearances, and The Republic of Ireland, in which time he cemented his place as one of the finest center half’s in the country.
Dion Dublin.
Manchester United: 1992–1994 App: 6 (11 Sub)
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson bought Dublin for £1 million on 7 August 1992, fighting off competition from Chelsea and Everton. Dublin was something of a surprise purchase for United, after Ferguson had tried to sign Alan Shearer from Southampton but lost out to Blackburn Rovers.
He must be one of the unluckiest players because after hitting the highs of scoring a last minute winner in United’s first Premier league victory against Southampton at The Dell, his world came tumbling back to earth, as he suffered a broken leg against Crystal Palace in a 1–0 win at Old Trafford, which meant he missed the next six months.
In his injury absence Fergie bought Eric Cantona and the rest as they say is history. And it was history for Dublin as United won the league that season for the first time since 1967. He failed to make the 10 Premier League appearances required to automatically gain a title winner’s medal. However, he was given a medal as a result of special dispensation from the Premier League, meaning the late goalkeeper Les Sealey was the only major first team player not to get a medal.
The following season after only making a handful of appearances he was sold to Coventry City for £2 million pounds doubling the amount United had paid for him. He later joined Villa in 1998 and stayed there for six years.
Peter Schmeichel.
Manchester United: 1991–1999 App: 398
Bought by Ferguson for an absolute bargain at only £500,000 the great Dane won everything possible at United including five FA Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and the UEFA Champions League. No wonder Alex Ferguson described his purchase of Schmeichel as the “bargain of the century.”
Named the World’s Best Goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993. The season United won the inargrul Premier League in 1993, he kept 22 clean sheets. He rapidly built a solid defensive unit with Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister as his two center backs. His huge frame intimidated strikers as they would try and shoot past him only to see the way blocked by him making himself as large as possible, looking like a huge starfish, to block their attempts.
Schmeichel ended his Manchester United career on the highest note possible, when he and United won the Treble, the FA Premier League title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, in the same season. He captained the side in the absence of suspended Roy Keane in the Champions League final, which happened to be his last match as a United player. So important was he to United that they struggled to find a worthy successor until the signing of David de Gea more than a decade later. Schmeichel left United to ply his trade in Portugal with Sporting but returned to the Premier League with Aston Villa in 2001 for a season.
Eric Djemba-Djemba.
Manchester United: 2003-2005 App: 27 (sub 12)
The player who was so good they had to name him twice. Djemba-Djemba rose to prominence with Nantes in France. His impressive performances as a feisty and uncompromising tackler for the French club earned him a dream move to Manchester United for £3.5 million in the summer of 2003, signed by Alex Ferguson as a possible eventual successor to the 31-year-old Roy Keane. But in his 18 months at Old Trafford, Djemba-Djemba found it difficult to maintain a period of form, and he was eventually unable to establish himself as a player capable of cleaning, let alone filling, captain Roy Keane’s boots.
Out of all Fergie’s signings this is one that really fell flat on it’s face, and he and the fans were put out of their misery in 2005 when he was sold to Aston Villa for half of what United had paid. He stayed at Villa until 2007.
Dwight Yorke.
Manchester United: 1998-2002 App: 120 (sub 32)
With a smile as wide as the ship canal, and a personality to match, Yorke arrived at Old Trafford in August 1998 from Aston Villa for £12.6 million. At Villa he was a firm fans favourite for his goal exploits. So you can imagine their displeasure when Alex Ferguson came a knocking. The Villa manager at the time was John Gregory, who was famously attributed to saying that he would shoot Yorke if he had had a gun in his office when Yorke asked for the move to go ahead.
He immediately became a huge hit at Old Trafford, and quickly built up a lethal partnership with Andy Cole. A partnership that helped United to the incredible treble in 1999. Altogether he scored 64 goals for Manchester United in 188 appearances. But it will be his telepathy with Cole that put the fear of god into defenders at home and abroad.
Rumoured to have had a fall out with Fergie, about his public private life, he was sold to Blackburn in 2002 after only four seasons. In that time his goals had helped United to win the Premier League title three times, and made sure the team regained the Champions League trophy for the first time since 1968.
Ashley Young.
Manchester United: 2011 – present. App: 95 (to date)
In the Summer of 2011, Manchester United bought Young from Villa for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £18 million. Young had been at Villa since 2007. Ferguson beat Liverpool to the signing and he agreed a five-year deal with the winger. His first season started brightly with assists and goals, which included a brace in an 8–2 victory against Arsenal at Old Trafford.
Young made his debut in the UEFA Champions League against Basel, scoring a headed goal in the 90th minute to help Manchester United to a 3–3. Then a long term injury kept Young out and he struggled to find his form upon his return. In the last couple of seasons he has been accused of diving to try and gain an unfair advantage for the team, and was ridiculed on the internet by his critics.
Under the new management and playing system of Louis van Gaal, Young is at present enjoying a mini revival of his fortunes, and is displaying his defensive qualities as well as his ability to create chances, which has helped the team to six successive wins in the league.
Tom Cleverley.
Tom Cleverley Man United Midfielder 2013
Manchester United: 2005- present (on loan at Aston Villa 2014-15) App: 63 (sub 16)
Cleverley rose through Manchester United’s youth system to become the Reserves captain, and was nominated for the prestigious Denzil Haroun Reserve Player of the Year award in 2007-08. Following successful loan spells at Leicester, Watford and Wigan Athletic, Cleverley made his United debut in August 2011 and was soon a feature of the Reds’ exciting start to the season. But a serious foot injury sustained at Bolton kept him out until October and a further setback sidelined him until February. He was then used only a few times in the at the end of the season and ended the campaign having made 15 first-team appearances.
Paul Scholes’ retirement before the 2011–12 season left an opening in Manchester United’s central midfield. Cleverley had been identified by manager Sir Alex Ferguson as a potential homegrown replacement for Scholes. However that never quite materialised for the player, even when David Moyes took over from Ferguson.
During the Summer with the signings at United of Ander Herrera, Angel Di María, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw & Radamel Falcao, Cleverley found himself on the outside of the Manchester United squad under Louis van Gaal. He attracted interest from many clubs, but chose Aston Villa. Villa made an initial bid of £8 million for Cleverley, but baulked at his wage demands. Everton then came in with an offer of £5 million but that was rejected. Villa revived their interest with a loan bid on transfer deadline day. Following his loan move with just a year left on his United contract, Cleverley admitted that his career at Old Trafford was over.
Miles Dunton.

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Cross roads for Rooney, a puzzle for United?!

By: Guest Writer.

How do Manchester United now utilize Wayne Rooney to achieve maximum impact in light of signing Robin van Persie with a four year contract?

In Rooney’s new book, My Decade in the Premier League he says ” Once I feel I haven’t got the sharpness needed to get away from defenders , I’ll probably drop back into midfield for a couple of seasons .” Read the full story


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