The Highs And Lows Of Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United Career

7 03 2013

Rooney's Future Is In Doubt

Rooney’s Future Is In Doubt

Highs

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How Do Manchester United Beat Barcelona?

24 05 2011

Saturday is a chance for redemption for Sir Alex Ferguson. Two years ago on that fateful night in Rome, Manchester United succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in a final which has been privately exasperating the manager. Barcelona overran the Red Devils in the centre of the pitch and it has been said that Michael Carrick is only just starting to rediscover that consistency which vacated him after that game.

United come into this match after a title-winning campaign brandished as lacking ‘fantasy’, but perhaps that will put them in good stead against a team who have it in abundance. Trying to play Barça at their own game will generally result in defeat, but with dogged determination, team full of energy and a potent striker, United have a great chance of reversing the disappointment from 2009.

Despite claims that we might be witnessing one of the greatest teams ever in the Catalans, they still have their flaws, and Ferguson knows if he can exploit them and more importantly take their chances, then United are one of the best teams to sit back and play on the counter-attack when protecting a lead.

Busquets Needs To Be Prevented From Playing

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The Rebirth Of Michael Carrick?

7 04 2011

Every club needs a scapegoat. For years homegrown Scotsman Darren Fletcher bore the brunt of the anger of the Manchester United fans and questioned Sir Alex Ferguson’s insistence on playing someone who they felt was not up to the requirements of the club. Gael Clichy and Jose Bosingwa receive the same treatment from their respected clubs, but there is one midfielder at Old Trafford who splits opinion more than anyone; Michael Carrick.

When he signed in 2006 from Tottenham Hotspur for a potential £18.6m, many fans were apprehensive with the price tag for a consistent, yet unspectacular player. However Carrick was the man who helped inspire United to three consecutive Premier League titles and the Champions League in 2008. Playing as a deep-lying playmaker, Carrick was key in sitting deep and intercepting play in a way which Sergio Busquets does for Barcelona, yet his passing meant he was a perfect deputy with Paul Scholes’ injury problems around that time. His form was so good that people were surprised he was not a regular in the England set-up.

Carrick's form has dropped since the 2-0 defeat to Barcelona

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The Curious Case Of Bojan Krkic

10 02 2011

Some players are destined to be great. From a young age they stand out head and shoulders above their peers. Fans know they have a genius amongst their academy, and they count down the years until they see the rough diamond explode onto the first team scene. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Jack Wilshere, Mario Balotelli and Neymar were hotly tipped to be superstars a few years before they even made their first team debuts; or since 13 in Neymar’s case, who apparently was subject to a €1 million bid from Real Madrid.

Bojan Krkic was the player the Culés were anticipating the most after the flattering reviews from his youth team days. Whether this fact is true is dubious, but reports state Bojan scored over 800 goals during his seven-year spell in La Masia. Forget Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez or Thiago Alcantara, this young striker whose father was an international for Serbia, was the prestigious talent who was destined for greatness.

Bojan has scored 28 goals in 154 games for Barcelona.

Bojan has scored 38 goals in 154 games for Barcelona.

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Manchester United Player Focus – Antonio Valencia

16 09 2010

On Tuesday evening Manchester United opened their Champions League campaign with a 0-0 draw against Scottish side Rangers. There were a few talking points, firstly how Coach Sir Alex Ferguson rotated with his squad and made 10 changes to the line-up from the Everton game, bringing up accusations of arrogance and where his priorities lie – with a Premier League clash against rivals Liverpool on Saturday. Secondly how Rangers performed marvellously to frustrate and stifle United with a disciplined defensive performance, which the Red Devils are used to from travelling teams. Questions arose as to how good this squad really is and how they did not have somebody to unlock the tight knitted defence. Unfortunately the headline was not one people will have comfort in seeing.

Luis Antonio Valencia caught his foot in the turf while under-pressure from Kirk Broadfoot and dislocated his ankle, an injury which is likely to rule him out for the remainder of the season. It evokes sour memories for United fans, as only four years ago Alan Smith picked up the same injury when blocking a shot from Liverpool full-back John Arne Riise. The worry is not if he will recovery from the injury physically – thankfully medical advances in football mean the chances are he will recover – it is that recovery from such an injury is fraught with psychological implications. Since his setback Smith has moved on to Newcastle United, but it is fair to say he is not the same player he was pre-misfortune. He is not alone in that.

Valencia Has Made An Impact At Old Trafford

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Manchester United Player Focus – Wayne Rooney

2 09 2010

This summer’s World Cup was meant to be the platform where Wayne Rooney would showcase his talents in front of a global audience, where he would brush aside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and demonstrate to everyone just how brilliant he is. Ever since that goal he scored against David Seaman at the age of 16, Rooney has had the pressure of a nation on his shoulders. He is the one contemporary player who has that unique ability and natural confidence, which very few players from these shores have had since Paul Gascoigne. Although it looks like he will be a target for opposition fans this season after his dreadful tournament, how has the lad from Liverpool developed into the forward everyone longed for?

Last season was the greatest season of Rooney’s career in terms of goals, a season in which his style of play was altered. In previous seasons he had been someone who would look to drop deep and link up with the midfield, somebody to drift around the pitch, chasing teams on the counter-attacks, influencing the game and tempo or perhaps put in a defensive shift when asked to play on the left wing on European nights. His defensive work accommodated the virtuoso talents of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldo’s departure meant his goals needed to be replaced, and the replacement was a source that was not renowned for being prolific. In his five seasons in Manchester, Rooney had only scored 20 or more goals on two occasions. Whilst on the face of it this seems prolific, we have to account for long barren spells the Scouse firebrand so often endured. So how has Rooney morphed into this predator?

Rooney Breaks His Drought

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Manchester United Player Focus – Dimitar Berbatov

12 08 2010

The final piece of the puzzle. That was the term buzzing around Old Trafford on 1st September 2008 after Manchester United concluded the signing of Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur for £30.75 million. The season before was one of United’s best in recent history when they won the double, including their first Champions League trophy since 1999. The strike force consisted of Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, two men who couldn’t play together as they were so alike; we were told. Yet the partnership was perfect, and the players complimented each other with their robust nature, continuous pressurising of the opposition defence and had great chemistry, even if Tevez couldn’t speak a word of English. Yet there was something missing. There was no focal point up top, nobody who surpassed 6ft. This is where Berbatov was meant to come in, to expand the capabilities of the team and to offer new ideas.

In his two years in north London, Berbatov had a very impressive record of 46 goals in 102 matches, and surrounded with better players you would have expected him to exceed that record in Manchester. Unfortunately this hasn’t been the case. In 87 matches he has only scored 27 goals, averaging a goal every three games, which is on average a match more than when at White Hart Lane. People will tell you that stats aren’t everything, strikers these days don’t need to score 20 goals a season and that might be the case, but Berbatov doesn’t seem to do enough to warrant this backing. Indeed he is very much the scapegoat. Things are going wrong, why is he playing?

Berbatovs Had Quite A Few Miserable Days

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