All posts by Jason Bowditch

Supported United since the days of the yellow and green Sharp Jersey! Looking forward to Jose taking us back to the glory days of old. We're stepping in the right direction. Exciting times! Come on the lads!

Ibrahimovic Could Leave Man Utd Early

There’s been wide spread reports that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could leave Manchester United before the end of his contract following complications with his injury.

Zlatan has done exceptionally well to recover from a potential career ending injury at the tail end of last season. Ibrahimovic recovered ahead of schedule from his cruciate ligament injury; however, he’s still suffering from some long term effects of the injury which is keeping him side-lined.

He is said to become available to play again from mid-February. However, with there being little left on his contract, it’s rumoured that he could be offered an early release to pursue the next phase of his career. Teams in the Chinese Super League and MLS being the most interested in the legendary striker; their season’s both start in March.

Personally, I think it’s unlikely he will want to leave Man Utd at this stage as there’s a reason he decided to resign for Man Utd whilst taking a big pay cut to do so: It’s his best chance of winning an unlikely Champions League medal.

If he does end up leaving early then we do need a winger this month as either Martial or Rashford would step into the Number 9 role with Lukaku.

Would you be happy for Zlatan to move on early, move Martial/Rashord to a Number 9 and bring in a winger? If so, which winger? If not, when and where would you play Zlatan?

Young French Star Signs Professional Contract

Aliou Badara Traore has officially signed his professional contract with Manchester United.

The 17 year old Midfielder, who signed for the youth set up a month ago, has now put pen to paper and signed his first ever professional contract.

Head of Youth Nicky Butt had this to say: “Aliou is a tremendously gifted young player and we are all delighted to see him sign his first professional contract at Manchester United.”

“Aliou will naturally need time to adapt, but he has an exciting future ahead of him and we are all looking forward to seeing his performances for the Under-18s in the second half of this season.”

Traore was eligible to sign a professional deal on turning 17; he didn’t hang around as his 17th Birthday was only yesterday.

Aliou will be partnering Gomes, who has also recently signed his pro deal, in midfield for the U18’s as they develop through the ranks to the first team. They will likely be playing together this weekend against Sunderland U18’s in a Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

The young Frenchman is a first team regular for the U17’s and has captained the team on a few occasions. He has a bright future at the club and has got the staff excited as to what he can offer. Here’s what U18’s coach Kieran McKenna had to say on Traore in December:

“He is a really powerful midfielder who likes to run box to box. He is very strong technically and is improving all the time.”

“He’s a nice man and his English is improving. He’s settling in well with the boys and has taken to the club really well.”

He’s an exciting prospect and has been likened to a young Paul Pogba. I cannot wait to see some of this exciting youth make its way into the first team set up. Jose simply has to take a chance on the youth, the will surprise him!

Griezmann Sets New Wage Demands

According to a reported interview between an Old Trafford insider and the Sun: Griezmann has increased his wage demands since last summer; from from £290,000/week to £400,000/week.

Griezmann is currently on £125,000/week and has reportedly moved the goal posts for his wage demands after observing what other stars have been offered over the last six months. United were set to make him the joint top earner alongside Pogba, however, if he does get the wages he wants he’ll be one of the top five footballer earners in the world.

Here’s what was said by the Old Trafford Source to the Sun:

“The goalposts have moved significantly since the first attempt to sign Griezmann.”

“The package offered last year which was agreed is now a lot less than what he wants next summer.”

“It might be too much even for us to afford. The club is desperate to sign him but it is an awful lot of money.”

“His people are making different demands which the club might be reluctant to give in to.”

You’ll notice that not figures were mentioned in this snippet, so the £400,000/week figure could be pure speculation from the Sun. However, if we were offering him £290,000 last summer and the goal posts have ‘moved significantly’ from last summer, you’d suggest that £400,000/week can’t be too far off.

£400,000/week is a lot of money. However, it was only last season were we paying the then 34 year old striker Ibrahimovic £367,000/week. It would mean breaking our wage record to get our man, as well as paying the £89mil to trigger his release clause. I think negotiations will knock the wage down slightly, but as Mourinho says; if you don’t pay the money, you don’t get the player. Would a player receiving this sort of wage unsettle the dressing room?

Current top 10 earners in the world
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If he gets the wage demands he’s after, he’ll be the third highest paid player in the world outside of China; behind Messi and Neymar. There are many United fans out there that are already sceptical of Man Utd signing Griezmann on his current form, this certainly will not help. I still really want him at United, and I hope and believe that Man Utd and Griezmann can meet in the middle somewhere.

What do you think? What wage would be acceptable to you, or do you think we should be looking elsewhere and not even attempt negotiations?

Bale Rumours Resurface – Madrid want £85mil

No transfer window would feel complete without speculation of Gareth Bale to Man Utd. Bale is back from his calf injury and scored a goal in Madrid’s game in the Copa del Rey match last weekend and a further two goals in the first half of this evening’s match against Celta Vigo.

As we are all well aware Bale is an injury prone player, especially since he’s been at Real Madrid. As a result of his injury record and Madrid trying to free up funds for summer spending; it’s been rumoured that Real Madrid are looking to cash in on Bale for £85mil. In today’s market, I think he’s well worth it.

My theory on Bale’s injury problems are based on a number of factors. Playing at Real Madrid he’s playing in a team with Ronaldo; a player he was being compared to and was the player he was supposed to be replacing in the longer term. This is an almost impossible expectation, but the work ethic of Ronaldo means Bale needs to work that little bit harder. With Bale putting in the work in the gym, I believe he is putting too much strain on his body making him much more likely to pick up an injury. This is a problem he will not have at Man Utd, therefore will pick up fewer injuries.

The other aspect is the spoilt fan base that dislike Bale for reason’s only Madrid fans will know; this also puts pressure on Bale to perform, work hard in training and the gym. This will not happen at Man Utd as our fan base would embrace Bale as we’re crying out for someone of his skillset and class.

This transfer is being seen as possible this month by some fans and the media: However, with Bale’s resurgent form, Madrid maybe reluctant to let him go or be tempted to move the goal posts to a higher valuation. They’ve done it before!

I would take Bale at £85mil. He’s in great shape, works hard, he’s aggressive and is Premier League proven. At £85mil, I think he’d be a great addition and I believe he’ll have the freedom to play football and not be required to over-exert himself in the gym keeping up with the world’s best player.

Would you take him? Have your say below!

Man Utd & Arsenal Lead Chase for Fred

Manchester United are one of the front runners for the Brazilian midfielder Frederico Rodrigues Santos AKA Fred.

Fred currently plays in Ukraine for Shakhtar Donetsk in Central Midfield and has a host of teams after his services this month. He’ll reportedly cost around £30mil, and for his ability in today’s market would be a great bit of business.

He’s 24 years old, left footed and plays on the right hand side of the midfield. He has excellent touch, an eye for a pass and enjoys bringing the ball forward. He rarely plays in an advance role like a Number 10, but has played a few games this season as a Defensive Midfielder.

The major concern which needs to be improved is his disciplinary record, which I believe Jose will be able to manage out of him. So far this season he has already received nine yellows and a red card (two yellows): In the last five matches he’s picked up six cards. Despite him picking up cards for fun, his defensive contribution is actually one of his strong points. Positionally sound, he simply loves to tackle; maybe that will be more of an asset in the Premier League with cards being handed out less frequently and players generally diving less.

The other strong points to his game are his key passing ability, long shots and dribbling. Through watching Shakthar in the Champions League I’ve noticed he is good at set pieces, can actually cross the ball and is accurate at shooting from just outside the box. His aerial ability is almost non-existent, but with Fred positioning himself just outside the box he is good at picking up second balls, followed up with an accurate shot or pass to set up the next attack.

There is a slight stigma to signing him however: Fred has been banned for drug doping in the past for taking the banned diuretic hydrochlorothiazide. The ban was extended to worldwide football back dated to 27 June 15; the ban finished at the start of this season.

Fred will be looking to get back in contention for the World Cup with Brazil and could feel a move to a club like Man Utd would give him more chance of getting noticed and therefore more likely picked. He would be cup-tied for the Champions League, but for £30mil for this young Brazilian would be a great piece of business. He has all the tools to be a success in the Premier League, just needs to sort out his disciplinary record.

£30mil: Would you take him to bolster our midfield options? If not Fred, who else?

Man Utd Board Sanction the Ozil Deal

Manchester United’s board have sanctioned the finances to complete the Mesut Ozil deal this month.

There’s been a lot of speculation that Ozil will be coming to Man Utd at some point, many thought it would be this month. Previous reports stating that Ozil told teammates that he’s going to Manchester United; the Man Utd players giving Ozil a series of warm embraces after the Arsenal vs Man Utd game. It all adds to the speculation that he is destined to join in January.

A few recent events have put major doubt in the deal. The first being that Man Utd have businessmen as owners; why spend millions in January when you can get him for free six months later? Mesut Ozil said of his pride at Arsenal which also raised a red flag, with speculation that he will sign a new contract with Arsenal. This was quickly followed with him starting the match against Chelsea earlier this month which has put major doubt in the deal.

However, fresh reports late last night stated that the Man Utd board have sanctioned the funds to get Ozil this month. Man Utd are set to offer Arsenal £35mil to test their resolve and hopefully put off rival clubs bidding for him. Should this be enough, Ozil has said to want £300,000/week with a substantial sign on fee. Man Utd are open to negotiations.

Personally I think £35mil will be the minimum fee to tempt Arsenal to sell to direct rivals in January. Ozil is currently on £140,000/week at the Gunners, therefore he wants over double his current salary to join Man Utd. I know United are desperate for a quality number 10, but to be held at ransom by a player who is also desperate to move is a little rich.

I want this deal to happen, but Ozil needs to show desire to join by reducing his wage demands. Are you happy with the £35mil fee? If you were negotiating for Man Utd, how far would you come down from the requested £300,000/week?

Jose’s ‘Desire is to Stay’ at Manchester United

There has been a lot of ‘garbage’ in the press spreading yet more fake news about the club we all love. Last night the press published articles scaremongering United fans about Jose’s future at Manchester United. Jose confirmed the news was ‘garbage’. Will the press issue an apology? There’s more chance of Man City filling the Emptihad.

Jose was asked straight away if there was any truth behind the reports in the press. He said: ‘If you want to speak about some news, I say garbage. I don’t find a better word to define… the talk.

He continued: ‘If you want to ask me directly, which I suppose you want: If I see myself next season, in Manchester United. I say; I see myself, and as I told when I arrive, I am going to leave when the club wants me to leave.

I have no intention at all (to leave), my intention is to stay and to work and to improve and to bring the club to where the club belongs. And I want to stay!

I don’t see any reason for not to stay.’ ‘I still have a contract, in fact in the middle of my contract, I’m not in the last couple of months.

My desire is to stay until the owners and the board is happy with my work.

I am ecstatic that Mourinho has once again pledged his future to Man United, as winning managers are scarce in today’s football. All that needs to happen now it for the board of Manchester United to both offer Jose a contract extension, and to back him in the transfer market.

Great news for most United fans!

Man Utd & Man City Chase Barcelona’s Umtiti

The Manchester Clubs go head to head to sign Barcelona and French defender Samuel Umtiti. Both clubs are looking to reinforce their back lines with key injuries to their defences.

Umtiti has a buyout clause in his contract of £53mil. After Van Dijk had completed his £75mil move to Liverpool earlier this month, Umtiti’s buyout clause is looking like value for money.
This is how his defensive stats compare to United defenders:

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Stats from WhoScored.com

He has more successful tackles and interceptions per game than any other Man Utd defender. The only defender with a better tackle to foul ratio is Phil Jones, but Umtiti is more effective at blocking shots.

Having watched a few of his games he is a very strong defender, on par with Eric Bailly. However, he has a tendency to go down quite easily which is a trait of the Spanish Division. The concern is, if you don’t get awarded a foul from going down in the Premier League, you leave your team open to conceding easy goals.

He’s good at tackling and very sharp at intercepting through balls. Another slight concern is he turns his back on the attackers too frequently: You lose sight of the opposition and if they dummy a shot or pass you can put yourself out of the game. He’s good in the air and is a very strong player.
I think that the points of concern can be trained out of him quite easily, and he’d learn fast in the Premier League. For a player with his experience and skillset in the current market he’d be good value. If we did go for him we’d likely be setting up in a 3-5-2 formation with Umtiti, Bailly and Lindelof being the future starters.

Barcelona are trying to get him on a new contract with a higher release clause, but are unwilling to match his wage demands. City are currently favourites to sign him in January as they have reportedly has face to face talks with no offers being rejected at this stage.

Would you want to United spend £53mil on Umtiti to strengthen our defence and prevent our rivals from buying him? Our defence hasn’t been brilliant and we rely too heavily on De Gea as my previous article points out; Umtiti could provide De Gea with a little extra protection. A defence with Bailly and Umtiti would be an intimidating prospect and they would leave Old Trafford battered and bruised.

Man Utd’s Defence Must Step Up

This season has had its ups and downs. We’ve progressed a lot this year in comparison to recent seasons. Our attackers are a lot more clinical, less loose touches, winning a lot more and conceding a lot less. However, how much of that is down to the defenders?

This season we have seen save after save from David De Gea, who looks like he’s better than ever before. Having watched all the matches, it feels as though he’s been busier than he really should be in the Man Utd goal. But as good as he is, he shouldn’t be tested as much as he has been this season. Have the defence been doing their bit in defending the goalkeeper, or is all what it appears?

I’ve been researching the stats to see just how good or bad the defence has been this season.

Here’s how we compare to the rest of the top six:

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Stats Calculated from PremierLeague.com & WhoScored.com

In terms of the tackle success rate in the Premier League this season, Liverpool are surprisingly the most clinical; having a 72% tackle success rate which is second only to Bournemouth. The advantage to being clinical in tackling is the opposition are less likely to get through to shoot on goal. Fewer shots on goal will naturally give the opposition less opportunity to score a goal (Common Sense). Manchester United are ranked 18th in the tackle success rate with only 65%. Poor tackling means more shots on our goal which is one of the reasons we’re seeing so much of De Gea this season.

This is backed up by how many saves the goalkeeper has made from the top six. Man Utd sit second behind Swansea, De Gea has saved an average of 3.5 shots on target per match. The other top six team’s goal keepers have been the most quiet during games in terms of saves so far this season. De Gea is not being protected! However, due to his excellence between the sticks we have been one of the best defences in the league.

Just to drive the point home:

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Stats Calculated from FootStats.co.uk

This table shows how many shots our opponent has had against the top six per game. Then shots on target, goals conceded, shot accuracy and conversion rate.

The top five in the table are ranked in terms of shots conceded per game and how many of those shots are on target from 1st – 5th in the league: However, Man Utd are ranked 8th, behind Crystal Palace and Huddersfield. United are having to save more than twice the amount of shots on target from the opposition than Man City, and significantly more than the other four teams.

You can also see our opponent’s shot accuracy: 37.13% of all shots against Man Utd are on target, which means they’re generally getting into better shooting positions than they are against our rivals. It’s starting to seem a myth that our defence is up to standard and it’s being masked by having the world’s best goalkeeper behind them. Only 6.75% of all shots against us have beaten the goalkeeper, which is the second best behind Burnley who have had to make fewer saves than Man Utd.

Our defence must start stepping up as it will continue to result in us haemorrhaging points as already demonstrated against Leicester and Burnley (Conceding two goals in each). De Gea is a brick wall, we all know that: But it doesn’t give our defence the luxury of switching off from their responsibilities!

 

*On a side note, it appears that Liverpool’s defence is actually doing well this season, and it’s the goalkeeper that’s the weak link at the back. Amusing that they have forked out £75mil on a defender; could have spent half of that on an excellent Goalkeeper which has been their problem position this season. Cheered me up anyways, hopefully it does you guys too!

Top Five Left Back Targets

As we approach the January Transfer Market, there are a number of positions that need strengthening. If Jose Mourinho decides Shaw is not going to be the long term left back and no youth products ready to step up; we will need to bring players in. Here are my top 5 replacements if Shaw is to depart Man Utd:

5: Danny Rose – Club: Tottenham Hotspur – Estimated Cost: £50mil
https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/3452678/manchester-united-ryan-sessegnon-move-fulham/
Danny Rose has been heavily linked to Man Utd since upsetting the applecart at Spurs by saying he believes he’s not being paid what he’s worth. Rose is 27 years old and plays as a wing back. However, like Luke Shaw; Danny Rose is out of fitness and struggling to find form. He’d be rumoured to cost Man Utd in the region of £50mil: Considering we have a very similar player who is four years younger I can’t understand why we’d consider this transfer. However, Rose is a good player; I just feel that there are better, younger and cheaper options out there.

4: Jordi Alba – Club: Barcelona – Estimated Cost: £45mil
https://www.barcablaugranes.com/2016/3/29/11323684/jordi-alba-fit-el-clasico-barcelona-real-madrid
Jordi Alba was rumoured to be considering a bid from Jose Mourinho over last Summer’s transfer window. He stayed at Barcelona under the advice of Messi, however interest from Man Utd and Jose Mourinho has not let up recently. Jose is keen on the Spaniard who turns 29 in March, he’s in the prime of his career with a lot of experience at the top level. He’d cost slightly less than Rose as he won’t have and English Premium or a ‘Premier League Proven’ premium. Even without those additions, he’d still cost us in the region of £40-45mil. Quite expensive when you consider a few other options available to Man Utd in this position.

3: Ryan Sessegnon – Club: Fulham – Estimated Cost: £25mil
This young lad has been all over the press in recent weeks with a move to Man Utd being touted in the January window. He’s only 17 years old and plays for Fulham in the Championship. Mourinho is keen to beat rivals to this very exciting youth prospect. It’s been said that Jose will offer Fulham £25mil and a loan back deal just to get Ryan on the books. He’s a flare player, very quick and can play in left midfield. Ryan has played 18 games as a left back as and 5 on the left wing, he’s scored 4 goals (one hattrick) and made two assists, a first team regular. I think he’s worth the money in the current market. He’s English and will almost certainly be a future star, whether it be as a left back of further up the pitch like Gareth Bale.

2: Alex Sandro – Club: Juventus – Estimated Cost: £60mil
https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/895107/Manchester-United-beat-Chelsea-Alex-Sandro-January-window
Alex Sandro is very hot property at the moment and is widely seen as the best left back on the planet at present. He’s got a hefty price tag attached to him at £60mil, would Juventus want to sell another one of their top players to Man Utd?

Man Utd are now favourites to sign the Brazilian with Mkhitaryan being bait to the Italian giants. Sandro wants to leave, so a swap deal of sorts involving the Armenian could be something that suits all parties. Could it happen as soon as January? If we could do this deal, we should do this deal!

1: Philipp Max – Club: Augsburg – Estimated Cost: £20mil
http://www.bild.de/sport/fussball/fc-augsburg/pep-guardiola-baggert-an-max-54227342.bild.html
Philipp Max is having a terrific season, he’s the joint best in Europe’s top leagues for assists. He’s made nine assists already this season, and as a left back that is nothing short of brilliant. Max is 24 and having only cost Augsburg £3.8mil two years ago, I think he could be prised away for as little as £20mil. He’s good in defence, an excellent crosser and a corner specialist; something Man Utd lacks massively.

Augsburg’s chief, Steffen Reuter, is open to offers for the German and Max could be tempted to move to a bigger club in a bid to be included in the World Cup Squad. I’d be more than happy to have him at the club, and being so cheap we could conceivably buy Max and Sessegnon for cheaper than the other left backs on the list. Man City is the other team that is currently scouting Philipp.

Needless to say, with or without Shaw, Man Utd need quality cover for left back. What order would you put these five players to come into the United Squad? Is there a left back we’ve been linked with that you would rather see at United?

Have your say below.

Have a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!