Why Ipswich Town Could Be Dangerous To United

So the third round of the Capital One Cup has drawn Manchester United and Ipswich Town together which will e played at The Theatre Of Dreams, but it may not be as easy as it looks on paper.

If Manchester United were going to draw anyone outside of the Premier League in their cup run, Ipswich may be the least wanted team possible. Commonly known as the ‘Tractor Boys’ the blues are managed by Mick McCarthy and his assistant Terry Connor, who both have had a good career so far at Ipswich. Mick who usually plays a squad rotation in the cup has now suggested he may abandon that option and field his first team, who on there day are a very good side. So this article is going to explore the three things The Red Devils need to get right to win on the night.

Daryl Murphy

At the age of 32 Daryl Murphy only looks to be doing the opposite of the usual football expectations and getting better with age. Last seasons Championship top scorer the Irishman is very good with his back to goal and could course havoc for Blind if he’s at his best. Not to mention his striking partner David Mcgoldrick who is also very good when he is without injury problems. With the partnership of Smalling and Blind growing as each game goes by, they should be ale to keep the Ipswich target man quiet, but if they don’t it could lead to embarrassment at home. The good news for United though is Murphy is still currently injured and may not have regained full fitness by the time the fixture occurs but he has been selected by Martin O’neill for Ireland in the International Break.

Cup Fever & Expectations

As everyone knows you usually can’t guarantee results in the cup, the attitude of the underdog is always sky high because they are playing with no pressure especially if they are away from home. However the expectations of United to win is incredible and if they do not pick up the result the footballing world as we know it will go into meltdown, piling huge pressure on the shoulders on every United player on that pitch, which is why this game might be for the experienced ones.  For the Ipswich fans, if they become a walkover against the reds it will not be a huge issue for their campaign because they’d have travelled 6 hours and will have enjoyed their day out in Manchester.

The Team Selection

With Ipswich finishing in the Play-Offs in last seasons campaign and having a good start to this season they are not a team were United can field a team of youngsters, brining in Ryan Fraser on loan from Bournemouth and Niles on loan from Arsenal they have the pace if needed. To avoid embarrassment, LVG must play a regular first team with youngsters possibly on the bench, this isn’t the opposition to try players out. We really want to avoid another MK Dons.

 

 

 

Why Memphis Can Reach The Heights Of Ronaldo

At a club where so many legends have surpassed, writing history for themselves, there is nothing more exciting to see as a Man United fan then a player that will do anything in his power to create his own legacy at The Theatre Of Dreams.

Dream Chaser. The powerful words inked onto the chest of a young man who replicates that exact phrase, Memphis. We may only be a few games in and judging too early, but if we judge him by the story of his life, he will do anything to make it to the top, beating whoever challenges him.

At four years old Memphis’s father and mother split up while living in a rough village flooding with crime and when Memphis’s mother moved in with another man, Memphis became the 16th child of the house. Before to long his mother’s new boyfriend reportedly gained millions via the lottery and left Memphis and his mother. Left without a father figure, his closest male figure was his beloved grandfather who sadly passed away after Memphis turned 15, adding more emotions to the ones he had from past experiences. His teenage years were tough for people around him, not to mention himself, pushing aside anyone with major authority and it has been said that Memphis was very close to being released from PSV but the blinding talent that was spotted from him always kept him there. Memphis once said that football was a blessing for him, a type of refuge from the crime on the streets, he stated that he ‘did things you were not allowed to do, more than pranks’ but abruptly stopped himself and said he did not want to go into it.

At the age of 21, six years after the pain of his grandfathers passing, Memphis is beginning to start his legacy as Old Trafford’s new number 7 and there is no doubt in my mind that he can live up to the reputation of the historic shirt number. His ambition to be the best is sky high and his single minded approach can be seen that he only has one direction in sight, and that’s to be the best. He’s said to be a very hard trainer, hitting the gym very often much like Cristiano, he also wants to develop himself as a footballer daily, with no respite. His grandmother has said that she feels the sadness that came with the loss of his grandfather will only motivate his hunger to succeed. He also refuses to wear the Depay on the back of his shirt by simply saying his father has not earned it, who he is not in contact with.

With the attitude to want the shirt, the childhood that fuels him to chase his dream and to become an Old Trafford legend, there is no reason why Memphis cannot reach the heights of Ronaldo at Manchester United.

 

 

Chris Smalling – The Rise of the Rock

Chris Smalling the Rock

Chris Smalling – The rise of the Rock

Since the days of Ferdinand and Vidic tearing up the Premier League, United have had a huge gap at the back for a no-nonsense defender who will risk everything to protect his goalkeeper between the sticks. Three seasons on from when Sir Alex left us, we’ve been none the wiser to who should fill the gap left by our parted veterans and with a different team selection almost every game, there has been no chance for any sort of defensive partnership forming. But are we starting to see the once huge gap beginning to close?

Since the reds signed Mike (Chris Smalling) back in 2010, there has been many debates whether Smalling was of the calibre that a Manchester United player needed to win titles for oncoming years. With performances not quite occurring consistently enough Mike only increased reasons to criticise with his sending off at the Etihad (Some may know it better as the Emptyhad) but after returning to the first team after his suspension he has become increasingly the better option compared to his fellow teammates. Will this year be the year he silences his critics? Although only two games into the season, Smalling has been in contention for man of the match in both games and his performance was hard to miss when he kept last season’s phenomenon Harry Kane quiet all game.

The partnership of Smalling and Blind has resulted in two clean sheets in two games even when United have a second choice Goalkeeper between the sticks. Is this finally the bond we have been waiting for to carry on the new philosophy? The blossoming of Chris Smalling has even helped secure himself a starting position in the England squad and with the ageing John Terry possibly reaching the end of his days, could Chris overhaul the likes of Terry and Cahill to become the Premier Leagues best centre half?

Although Wayne Rooney leading is our current captain, over the past year Chris’s leadership skills of the back four has increased tremendously, with him showing no hesitation to let his voice be heard and that benefits the team hugely. This year could be United’s time to surprise everyone with leaders like Wayne, Basti, Carrick and Young all being credited for their passion in the dressing room possibly leading the rest of the squad to glory including Chris.

Article Written By Jordan Clarke

Manchester United v Aston Villa Player Ratings Poll

Manchester United v Aston Villa player ratings

Manchester United v Aston Villa Player Ratings – YOU Decide

A fantastic three points away from home for Manchester United v Aston Villa. But who were the United players that stood out for you?

The United Stand is all about YOU! So to get YOU even more involved in our channel and website we want YOUR votes in our Manchester United v Aston Villa player ratings poll. Simply pick your three best performing Manchester United players from the list below and we’ll use your votes in our Sunday Review show LIVE at 9pm on The United Stand Youtube Channel

And if you feel like discussing the game more with fellow reds click here and go over The United Stand Forum and discuss everything United

Who was YOUR Men of the Match (Three votes allowed)

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Manchester United’s Title Challenge Dilemma

Why the remaining month of the transfer window is pivotal to Manchester United’s title challenge?

Manchester United’s title challenge could be decided in August. In the next 4 weeks, Manchester United could be the most active team in the transfer window because even though the Premier League season draws closer, there are still more questions than answers with the team’s make up. With many fans and manager alike suggesting that there are more positions that need to be strengthened and the question marks over the futures of several first-team figures including David De Gea, the departure and arrivals’ lounge could become extremely busy in the coming days.

Firstly, the Angel Di Maria saga has reached its conclusion after his moody teenager like antics when he went AWOL refusing to travel to the Man United US training camp failing to inform his manager of his whereabouts. Di Maria failed to be a consistent performer and consequently was labelled a ‘flop’ by many for not living up to his £59.7m price tag even falling behind Ashley Young in the pecking order for the second half of the season. Although he didn’t have the greatest season, Di Maria has indisputable quality but did not have the temperament or the will power to succeed in the toughest league in world football. A genuinely world class player like Di Maria would leave a void for any club he leaves, so at Manchester United it is no different, his void will need to be filled with a high quality replacement. Van Gaal talked about wanting to add a player with pace and creativity, Di Maria embodied that description but unfortunately even though he may have lived in Manchester for nearly a year, neither his head nor his heart ever seemed to be in Manchester, leaving Van Gaal to find an alternative with similar quality and additional work ethic. Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez seems to be the man for the job. Pedro has 161 goals and assists (98 goals and 63 assists) in 318 appearances at Barcelona meaning he averages a goal or assists every 2 games; he would provide incredible consistency to the team unlike Di Maria’s erratic form. Blessed with fantastic pace, two-footed and like most Spaniards he has exquisite touch and ball control. Nevertheless, the most significant upgrade on Di Maria would be his work ethic, he is renowned in the Barcelona ranks as one of the most hard-working players who would run himself ragged for the team’s sake. Pedro’s arrival is a necessity, as United are lacking creative players with pace and he will add another dimension to the depleted Manchester United attack.

Defensive instability

Perhaps the most pressing questions that need to be answered in the coming weeks are the ones concerning the defence. The majority of the Manchester United fans see the defence as the weakest component of the team even with the addition of Matteo Darmian. In pre-season, the full-backs were one of the biggest positives; Luke Shaw showed why Manchester United splashed big money on him, flying up and down the wing with menace, looking much fitter and stronger than last season. Matteo Darmian, was arguably the best performer, his defence composure and energetic attacking bursts suggest he will be a real upgrade to the makeshift right-back Antonio Valencia. However, genuine concerns remain over the centre-backs. Van Gaal has hinted using Daley Blind as a left-sided CB with his preference of a left-footer playing on the left-side of defence and has started there in every pre-season game. Despite glimpses of Blind showing positional awareness and his ability to build up play at the back, the games against PSG and Barcelona showed why a centre-back is a must if Manchester United are to win the league. The flaws were highlighted for all to see by Ibrahimović and Suarez in the games against PSG and Barcelona. In these games the Daley Blind and Phil Jones partnership looked shambolic at times, showing indecisive communication which gifted the opposition chances and the pair looked worryingly weak and immobile when faced with both the small quick attackers and the larger, more physical forwards. This care is further compounded by the fact that Manchester United have a set of defenders who spend just as much time on the injury tables as they do on the pitch. Last season, statistically United was the most injury-prone team, forced to play Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett and even Michael Carrick in defence at times. So not only is the quality questionable, the durability and reliability in terms of fitness is a huge cause for concern. Rafael already has been through the exit door; Van Gaal clearly wasn’t convinced he had the temperament or the tactical nous to balance his attacking and defensive full-back duties. Another player whose future at Old Trafford is in jeopardy is Jonny Evans. Despite a reasonably successful 2012/13 campaign, Jonny Evans is a player that most Red Devils feel doesn’t have sufficient quality to be at the heart of the defence and last season epitomised exactly why. He looked nervous on the ball, rushed when playing the ball out and his positioning was frustratingly sloppy. Given that Van Gaal didn’t play him in pre-season speaks volumes, the Dutchman doesn’t rate him and he will be shown the door this month if a suitor can be found.

David De Gea without doubt saved the defence’s blushes at times last season making incredible, match-winning saves, and in fact may have clouded the extent of the problem that the club faces at the back in the eyes of the management. The media say that the manager is not looking for a centre-back; however a commanding central defender to provide much needed composure and leadership at the back is needed to assure defensive stability. Solid defences are essential for a title challenge. Chelsea had the best back 5 in the league last season; their ability to close the usually nerve-wracking 1 goal leads down to secure 3 points on numerous occasions was a key component for them to win the league and it is that defensive assuredness Manchester United need to establish in order to truly challenge for the Premier League crown. As Sergio Ramos looks like an increasingly unlikely target with his saga likely to result in a bumper new contract, Nicolas Otamendi could be a fantastic alternative he has a £35m (€50m) buy-out clause and is an incredibly strong defender who was arguably the best in La Liga last season. If Ed Woodward can land someone in that ilk for the heart of the defence in the coming weeks, it would go a long way in helping Van Gaal and Manchester United compete for the league title.

The Goalkeeping Dilemma

Is he staying or is he going? United fans are resigned to losing David De Gea given his long term ambition to return to his home in Madrid, but the question still looms, will Ed Woodward’s tough negotiating stance keep him at Old Trafford for one more season. Right now, there aren’t many if any better goalkeepers in world football than David De Gea, he was comfortably Manchester United’s best player last season and Woodward is right in standing firm for an astronomical fee for a goalkeeper in his final year of the contract, as he is worth that and more to the club. It seems like Sergio Ramos was being used as leverage by Manchester United in De Gea negotiations, but now as the defender looks set to stay as Real Madrid captain, Woodward may well bring another Real star like Gareth Bale into negotiations but he would be equally unlikely to move. Given that De Gea would be playing for the Spanish no.1 jersey for Euro 2016 this season perhaps Woodward and Van Gaal may be tempted just to keep De Gea at any price this summer. However, If De Gea’s head is already in Madrid which seems to be the case, the best option may be to hold out for a fee circa £25m to £30m in order to get enough for a top class replacement. Victor Valdes may well have been a tailor made replacement but his refusal to follow the ‘philosophy’ and play for the reserve team means he has no future at the club and another keeper will have to be bought. Free transfer Sergio Romero, the no.2 goalkeeper at Sampdoria and Monaco, never convinced neutrals with his handling or shotstopping as the Argentine no.1 at the World Cup, so it would be anxious times at Old Trafford if he is genuinely seen as the heir to De Gea’s throne. Jasper Cillessen (£25m), Hugo Lloris (£25-30m), Jan Oblak (£20-25m) and Bernd Leno (£13m – buyout clause) have all been mentioned as potential replacements for De Gea. 3 of them have potential, but only one is ready made replacement that will require no adjustment period, and that is Hugo Lloris, and for that reason he is perhaps the best option. Lloris has proven top quality in the Premier League, he is a brilliant shot-stopper, has fantastic distribution and his sweeper-keeper ability makes him perfect for Manchester United’s defensive high line. Whoever Van Gaal and Frans Hoek opt for, they’ll have to be physically ready for the high intensity, physical English game hence why many have lingering doubts whether the Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cilllessen’s wiry figure could cope with such demands. Every title challenge requires a high quality shotstopper to save key points during a season, Courtois did that last year and Van Der Saar did it for United in the past, a top class goalie is a necessity if Manchester United are to make it 21 league titles.

Another Striker: Essential or Luxury?

With Radamel Falcao and Robin Van Persie already gone, it seems that Manchester United are a striker short. Although Wayne Rooney has seemingly been guaranteed a role as central striker, the only other two striker options are Javier Hernandez (who may not be content with a bench role) and James Wilson. Perhaps Van Gaal is satisfied with those 3 striker options and is happy to supplement them with versatile forwards like Memphis Depay, Adnan Januzaj and Pedro Rodriguez if necessary. However an opinion many United fans share is that another striker is worth buying, but is a striker of high quality available? Players like Alexandre Lacazette, Mauro Icardi and maybe even Zlatan Ibrahimovic would be available at the right price, all of which could be potentially great signings, however the marquee names that Van Gaal would prefer like Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Edison Cavani all appear unattainable. The Dutchman teased a surprise signing in a US press conference, whether that surprise is a striker signing is yet to be seen. Going by the reported £150m summer warchest, there is £75-80m left to spend, then a further £75m available from Adidas sponsorship and £45m from the sale of Angel Di Maria. Manchester United have astronomical sums of money at their disposal and given that over £885,000 a week has now been cleared off the wage bill, the money is certainly there to make a surprise big money signing. If a marquee name can be bought in the final weeks, it could transform United from a team playing onlooker to Manchester City and Chelsea’s title challenge to a team being favourites to win the league.

Given the potential loss of two world class players this month in Angel Di Maria and David De Gea, if Manchester United can buy two players of top quality to fill their voids, then it would go a long way into assuring a title challenge is possible. It would be concerning if both are replaced with insufficient quality and the defensive issues are not addressed. However, if Woodward can land a top draw centre-back and perhaps another quality striker with the big money that he has available, a title challenge wouldn’t only be possible, a title challenge would be inevitable.

By Hesham Bilal-Hafiz (@hesham786)

Why are Manchester United Bad at Selling?

Why are Manchester United bad sellers?

Manchester United right back Rafael has been sold to Olympique Lyon for 2.5 million. Or to put it another way. Highly experienced Manchester United right back , only recently turned 25, with a contract that doesn’t expire until next summer, three premier league winners medals in his cabinet, and I repeat, only just 25 years of age. Sold for 2.5 million! Ridiculous isn’t it?

Manchester United are well known for selling players on the cheap but enough is enough. The fees we receive for our players is bordering on the insane. Yes the club is extremely wealthy but I don’t recall free tickets or United tops being randomly handed out to the people who fund that wealth – the fans – so why are we giving our players away for next to nothing? Rather than giving hand outs to other clubs how about getting a decent price for our players and giving back to the fans for a change.

Hull’s right back is 3 times better than Rafael?

Staying with Rafael, let’s compare his sale to that of Hull City full back James Chester – coincidentally another Manchester United youth product. Chester joined West Bromwich Albion from Hull City for 8 million pounds last month and it doesn’t take a genius to establish – a Liverpool fan would do – that Chester isn’t anywhere near the same level as Rafael. So why the huge difference in price?

Contract length? No, both Rafael and Chester’s contracts expire at the same time next summer. Age? No, Chester is actually a year older than Rafael. Wages? Rafael was reportedly on 60k a week at United. Admittedly a large sum but for Manchester United far from crippling – to put it in to context Jonny Evans robs the club of 65k a week.

The fact is there is no logical explanation for Manchester United’s neglectful approach to selling players and the Rafael/James Chester deal highlights that perfectly. Maybe it’s incompetence, maybe there’s something more sinister going? But something is definitely amiss.

Manchester United is about making money

“So what?” may be the response of some fans. Well one thing Manchester United have always been exceptional at is selling their brand to their followers at premium prices. Whether it’s the latest Manchester United home kit or your very own Manchester United toilet brush – for cleaning off our latest win over the scousers from your toilet pan – United price high because they know they’ll sell high in huge volumes. Those in charge can go on about sponsorship deals funding the club way more than ticket sales etc but the reality is if you don’t have fans you don’t get sponsors. So why are United so obsessed in bleeding their fans dry but are more than happy to hand out gifts to other clubs for next to nothing?

As many United fans will know, it’s not just the Rafael deal. United have been offloading players for way below market value for years. This year alone we’ve reportedly let Nani (4.25 mil), Robin Van Persie (4.5 mil), Zaha (6 mil) & Rafael (2.5 mil) go for a combined total of just under 17.5 million. 17.5 million! It defies belief! Yes with Nani and RVP there were large wages to take in to account but it doesn’t excuse the fact you can buy one of the best forwards in the world, an established international in his prime, a 25 year old experienced right back and a young English player with bags of potential for half the price of Benteke! It’s not acceptable and it’s awful business sense.

I’m sure if the club were of a mind to explain these deals – I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one – they’d say there were valid reasons for accepting these deals and the club always works hard to achieve the best price possible for Manchester United football club. If fans want to believe that then that’s their right. But ask yourself this. If Arsenal were offered Rafael, Nani, RVP and Zaha tomorrow for 30 million we all know they, like every other club in the Premier League & Europe’s top leagues, would snap our hands off. Because 30 million is an absolute steal for all that talent. And we got barely half of that.

Manchester United are happy to sell to rivals

Some might say that the selling market is restricted when you can’t sell to rivals in the Premier League. If fans are still falling for that nonsense then they’d do well to look back at the Welbeck to Arsenal deal last August, or the fact that Zaha went to Crystal Palace, or that we just sold Cleverley to Everton. If a player isn’t good enough in the manager’s eyes then it clearly doesn’t matter where we sell them.

The harsh truth is United are terrible at selling. Something that may not concern a lot of fans but something that concerns me when the club is so happy to charge us fans top dollar.

Comment below or on the forum and give us YOUR thoughts.

Manchester United Season Preview Fan Polls 2015/16

Manchester United Season Preview

Manchester United Season Preview Fan Poll 2015/2016

Manchester United’s season kicks off next Saturday at Old Trafford against Spurs. What can we expect from the season ahead? Has it been a successful summer in the transfer market or do we go in to the season with the same uncertainty as last year?

On Sunday night LIVE at 9pm The United Stand will be previewing the season ahead, and as usual we want YOUR input. So how do you get involved? Well first of all tune in to the show LIVE on our United Stand Youtube Channel Sunday at 9pm. And secondly, we want YOU to cast your votes in the Manchester United season preview polls below

As always your votes will count and dictate how the show goes and give a real Manchester United view on how fans are feeling going in to the season ahead. Where do you think Manchester United will finish this season? Can we win the league or would you be happy with top four again? What are our chances in Europe, presuming we get through the Champions league qualifier? And who will be the player that shines the most in an Adidas Manchester United kit this season? Cast YOUR votes below and have YOUR say on the show Sunday night at 9pm

Mark and the panelists will be having their say as always but The United Stand is about gaging real United fan opinion and regulars viewers will know that this is the channel where United fans have their voice heard. So join us and join in LIVE on Sunday at 9pm

Finalyy, to those who’ve been messaging us about the format for the new season, we’ll still be doing LIVE reaction videos on The United Stand Youtube Channel the second every Manchester United game has finished. As well as our flagship Sunday night LIVE at 9pm review show and Thursday night LIVE at 9pm preview show. With European football hopefully in the bag we’ll also be continuing with our Tuesday night LIVE at 9pm show. So plenty to get involved with on the Manchester United Fan channel that’s all about YOU!

Now cast YOUR votes and see you on Sunday LIVE at 9pm for our Manchester United Season Preview Show

Where will United finish this season?

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How far will United go in Europe?

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Who will be United's Star player this season?

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Are confident LVG can deliver the title in his tenure?

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As of now, has it been a good summer of ins and outs for United?

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What's most important to YOU this season?

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Ed Woodward of Wall Street

Ed Woodward of Wall Street

Ed Woodward – The Woody of Wall Street

It’s that time of year folks! The transfer window’s open and clubs are ready to splash the cash in the biggest, most expensive form of legal human trafficking you’ve ever seen.

If you’re Liverpool, then you may choose to shop in the Championship for the likes of Bogdan from Bolton, or buy the player everyone but you, your friend, or your other friend have heard of, Joe Gomez.

Manchester City are apparently pleased they’ve just spent £49M on a 20-year-old hippy-crack, truant. Proving that money can buy you a quick headline, but can’t buy you happiness, history or … Fabian Delph apparently.

So with Southampton once again looking to sell off half their team, replacing it for the price of a Freddo bar, and Newcastle, surprisingly investing (I know weird right?) How have Manchester United faired?

Now, dear old Ed Woodward, CEO of Manchester United, has had a bit of bad press in recent times. In the reign of David Moyes he was labeled a ‘failure’ and ‘inept’ because somehow he managed to pay £28.5M for Fellaini, which in hind sight was, give-or-take a few million here or there, about £28.5M too much.

Juan Mata was brought in to try and save the car-crash of a season we all had to endure under Moyes. But after a hefty outlay, all United and Ed had to show for their efforts was a few bruised egos after a certain scouser (I don’t name names) fell over a banana skin one day, handing the Premier League back to our noisy neighbours.

Ed was beaten, bruised, flogged in the streets, chastised, ostracized, victimized, and, some people even made some mean memes of him. But he licked his wounds like a tough alley cat, and started to get to work with his new partner in crime, Louis (Van Gaal).

The dynamic duo quickly established who they wanted to bring in and set about aquiring Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Angel Di Maria, Radamel Falcao in a spending spree so lavish, it would have only been made more expensive if they’d paid off Sepp Blatter to f*** off out of FIFA and asked Mario Balotelli to organize a firework party for their troubles.

At that point, Ed looked to be a hero, a man of the people. ‘He signs who he wants’ was the cry of many a United fan. What a difference a year made. But for all the spending, it didn’t quite work. Di Maria was expected to reinvigorate the team, but instead performed like a lame horse stumbling towards the final furlong, and as for Falcao, the so-called ‘deadly striker’, he was about as prolific in front of goal as Joe Allen.

So, the doubts crept in again, and up to the start of this summer, United fans around the world were once again wondering ‘Will we sign anyone good this summer? Please let us sign someone good this summer!’

Most United fans if they’re honest were having wet dreams over the idea of Bale coming to United, or a reunion with Ronaldo, a man who ‘loves United’ so much he begged to leave for Madrid. But Bastian Schweinsteiger, did anyone see that coming? Anyone? Surely Woody couldn’t do that could he? Could Woody do it? Yes he woody well could!

I’ll openly admit, I was skeptical of Woodward’s skills, but when Bastian Schweinsteiger was announced to sign for United, all I can say is I lost about 5% of my body mass. Don’t ask me how, it just happened. I am now a #Believer.

Now there’s talk of a statue, a knighthood, his own television programme, the Stretford end being named ‘The Ed Woodward Stand’.

Which, when you look at all the evidence goes to prove one thing folks. Doubt Ed Woodward at your peril. Madrid, the Woody of Wall Street is coming for you, and he’s taking your Ramos.

by The Drawty Devil

Manchester United Striker Options

Manchester United Striker Options

The Manchester United Striker Hunt – Who should Ed Woodward target?

With the departures of Radamel Falcao and Robin Van Persie and upwards of £75m still left to spend, Manchester United are almost certainly in the market for a top striker to guarantee 20+ goals a season, the question is, who will that player be?
Emerging strikers

Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette (£30-35m) name was up in bright lights last season after a sensational season, finishing Ligue 1’s top goalscorer with an impressive tally of 27 goals in 33 league games. He is blessed with jet-heeled pace, can play anywhere across the front line of attack, he loves to dribble past defenders and has proven himself to be a clinical finisher. Even though only 5ft 9, he is still physically strong almost built in the ilk of Alexis Sanchez, he is more than capable of handling the physicality of the Premier League. However, the 24-year old never scored more than 15 league goals in a season until last year, taking out last season’s stats; he only has scored 28 goals in 125 appearances. So given the touted £30-35m price tag he may be a risk; it is yet unknown whether he is a one-season wonder or just a late bloomer who is hitting his peak?

Harry Kane (£50m+) is a similar story, in August 2014, you would probably never have heard his name if you weren’t a Spurs fan, come May 2015, the whole of Europe knew of his name. He boasted one the best records in Europe, he scored 30 goals and notched up 5 assists in 39 starts, an outstanding return. Aged 21, if he can be hitting those figures, especially playing in the most competitive league in the world it seems he has huge potential. Nevertheless, after having a signed a 5 year-contract only this season, he would demand an astronomical fee of beyond £50m, which is extortionate for a player who has had one stand out season. Then again, he could be a gamble worth taking just like signing an 18-year old Wayne Rooney for £27m was over a decade ago.

Marquee names

If you ask Manchester United fans which striker they want, the Bayern Munich duo of Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski (£40-50m)would feature very high on most lists. Lewandowski is renowned for being a powerful, deadly finisher; he has scored 115 goals and made 33 assists in 205 appearances, making him one of the best no.9s in world football. As someone who has got 20+ goals a season for the last 3 seasons, he would be a striker who could guarantee Manchester United consistency. Thomas Muller (£50-60m) has often been deployed as a right-sided midfielder or as a number 10 for Bayern and has still managed to rack up 121 goals 69 assists in just over 300 games, a record which puts him in the ‘world class’ bracket by many. Internationally he is used as a striker and has 27 goals in 63 games (including 10 goals in 12 world cup games), there are no doubts both are phenomenal players that would be marquee signings. Considering Bayern CEO Rummenigge said no more Bayern Munich players would move to Manchester United, both would be incredibly likely to pull off unless Di Maria was involved in the negotiations.

Some fans call him overrated, but Edinson Cavani (£35-50m) has been one of the most prolific strikers in Europe. He is the 4th highest goal-scorer over the last 5 seasons with 112 goals, considering he scored 31 goals playing from wide left last season for PSG just shows what a goal-machine he really is. He is a powerhouse, strong in the air and with his feet, when he has played for PSG and Napoli up front he has been lethal, but reports of late suggest Cavani is ‘untransferable’, so United may have to look elsewhere but he would certainly be a great signing. Karim Benzema (£30-40m) is a name that always seems to go under the radar when it comes to praise for Real Madrid attackers. He has only failed to score 20 goals in a season once in the last 5 seasons, bagging 120 goals and 66 assists in 251 games. Aged 27, he is in his prime, he has been a pivotal part of Los Blancos’ success over the last 5 years, he would a dream signing for any elite European team. As someone who is capable of building up play superbly, holding up the ball effectively and a real predator in the box, he is the perfect combination of what Manchester United need in a striker. With tensions already high with the De Gea-Ramos stand-offf, it is unlikely that both Florentino Perez and Rafael Benitez would want to sell such a key asset of their team.
Versatile forwards

If there are not sufficient out-and-out quality strikers available, perhaps Van Gaal should stretch his search to a more versatile forward who can play all across the attack like Memphis Depay. One player that would fit that bill is Marco Reus (£40-50m) from Borussia Dortmund; he has played both as an attacking midfielder as well as further forward for the German club and is considered one of the most exciting players in world football. His record of 86 goals and 51 assists in 207 is a return which encapsulates why he is considered as an elite player. Reus has got a thunderous long shot in his repertoire, this long-range threat coupled with exquisite vision for a pass as well his composure when in on goal, makes him a real asset to any attacking team. Dortmund have a tendency to sell one star player every year, so even though he has signed a contract extension until 2019, at the right price he could well make a move.

Another player that would set the Premier League alight if he arrived is Antoine Griezmann (£35-40m) from Athletico Madrid. Renowned for having sensational technical ability, having the skill and guile to play on the both flanks as well as centrally and being lightening quick, Griezmann has been attracting attention from the European elite like PSG and Chelsea. After scoring 52 in 201 games for Real Soceidad it was last season with Atheltico when he was the 3rd highest scorer in La Liga with 22 goals in 32 appearances that showed the world exactly what he’s capable of doing. Given that he only moved in 2014 and that Arda Turan has been sold to Barcelona it is questionable whether he will be sold, but considering the Madrid club have signed Luciano Vietto and Jackson Martinez, two striking options, again there is potential for a sale at the right price. With Angel Di Maria looking likely to leave this summer, both Reus and Griezmann could be options to simultaneously fill his boots and the striker position as multi-faceted, versatile forwards.

Wildcard hotshots

One name which is often overlooked is that of Mauro Icardi (£20-25m) of Inter Milan. 21 year-old Paulo Dybala (38 goals in 128) got a £32m transfer to Juventus and was rated as one of the best young strikers in Europe after his first full season in Serie A in which he scored 13 goals and got 10 assists for Palmero. However, Icardi who is just 1 year older boasts a superior record, last season he scored 22 goals and got 6 assists in 33 goals and overall has 42 goals in 97 appearances. Icardi is a real old-fashioned no.9, he makes intelligent runs in behind to latch on to through balls, he has the predatory striking instincts to be a top class striker for a Champions League team. Whether Ed Woodward is fixated on a big name striker, for the sake of appeasing sponsors and fans, is yet to be seen but if he wants a striker capable of scoring 15-20 goals a season, Icardi could be the man.

Another player which can prized out of Borussia Dortmund is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£20-25m), for the FIFA fanatics out there, he may be most well-known for being one of the fastest players in the world (95 Pace on FIFA 15). Perfect anywhere in a front 3, the player nicknamed ‘The African Neymar’ has scored 42 goals in 95 games and has been a real shining light in the Dortmund team since the departure of Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski. His frightening quick speed makes him incredibly difficult to mark without the ball and makes him lethal when running at back-tracking defenders, shoehorned in a team with a top class midfield; he could be a real asset.

It will be intriguing to see who Ed Woodward eventually buys to fill the striking vacancy, most of the strikers above would be brilliant signings that really could hit the ground running and add 15-20+ goals to the team next season. All the strikers fit the age mould, they have got impressive goal-scoring records and most have the attributes that would suit Manchester United down to a tee. The striker signing undoubtedly will be the most left-field, unpredictable transfer, whoever they do opt for, hopefully they will be the right man for job.

By Hesham Bilal-Hafiz

Sergio Ramos to join Manchester United?

Sergio Ramos joins Manchester United

Sergio Ramos to Manchester United?

Is Sergio Ramos joining Manchester United? A couple of weeks ago the deal looked highly likely and those in the know in Spain state nothing’s changed, Ramos still wants the move to Manchester. But despite United’s amazing success in the transfer window so far this summer, is this a step too far? A fight we can’t win? One thing’s for certain. If Sergio Ramos does sign it will be the biggest blow Real Madrid and Spanish football has felt in decades.

When it comes to player acquisition Real Madrid are the biggest club in the world. Forget finances, fanbases, history, when it comes to getting a player Real Madrid are the undisputed champions. Yes Barcelona give them a run for their money but let’s not fool ourselves that English clubs ever have. If Madrid want a player they get them. Whether that’s through underhand tactics, geography, history, status or anything else, the last twenty years have shown that when Real Madrid come knocking, that door will be opened one way or another.

Which is why this Manchester United transfer window is so interesting. I’ve said before that winter is coming for Real Madrid and Barcelona. The new TV deal will bring so much money in to the Premier League that within a couple of years even smaller Premier League sides such as Stoke and Liverpool will be able to offer the big wages Madrid are paying. But the problems don’t stop there. So greedy have the two Spanish giants become, tying up their own domestic TV deals and neglecting the rest, that they’ve turned La Liga in to the new Scottish Premier League in the sun. Where the same two teams win the league year in year out and the product becomes irreversibly unattractive to potential suitors. The bottom line is the Premier League is the most entertaining brand in world Football and it’s only going to get stronger. Winter is coming and Madrid are going to be left in the cold.

If Sergio Ramos does sign for United it will be the first big nail in the Madrid coffin. Why? Because Real Madrid don’t want to sell Ramos. They can dress it up how they like if the deal actually does happen but if you listen to what’s happening now there’s no escaping the fact that Madrid don’t want him to go. So to be just in this position where we’re seriously unsettling Ramos is a huge shift in power towards United in their quest to be number one. Madrid will be furious, they’re used to being able to dictate things how they choose, and for that alone I congratulate Woodward and Van Gaal for orchestrating this pressure so perfectly.

Of course the deal may not happen? Casillas has left the Bernabeu and the rumour is Sergio Ramos will take over the captaincy. That plus the offer of a new contract should be enough to entice Ramos to stay. But what if it isn’t? What if Ramos is set on leaving? Then we’re in to unprecedented territory. One where Spain’s best defender wants to leave Spain’s biggest club to join Manchester United. Normally it’s United losing their best players to Madrid. So how will this deal play out when the boot is on the other foot?

Much depends on David De Gea. He is the player United have in this game of chess that must be used wisely. Madrid want De Gea and De Gea – naively in my view – wants Madrid. But the tables have turned. If Ramos truly wants to come to United then it’s a very simple situation. No Ramos no De Gea.

It truly is a fascinating tussle and one that’s outcome will say a lot about where Manchester United are in world football and where they’re going. If United do take Ramos this summer then Real Madrid will have to accept winter is coming sooner than they expected and give up ground they’ve held uncontested for so long. If Ramos stays then Madrid should take this as a warning to their inevitable downfall. United aren’t going away and the Madrid empire is crumbling from both sides.

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