Archive for July, 2007

Cantona

Posted on July 27, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   2 Comments »
Cantona
Eric Cantona Career stats

Manchester United would never be the same again after Salford’s favourite Frenchman entered Old Trafford. Eric Cantona’s signing was probably the bargain of the century, £1 Million from bitter rivals Leeds (and at the time English Champions) was a stroke of genius.

Eric Cantona’s time in France was overshadowed by moments of sheer madness that gave him the reputation of a rebel. His comments about the French Football Federation and actions like throwing a ball at a ref when a decision went the other way raised question marks about his sanity. The French footballing public are a fickle unpassionate bunch of people. They cheers on les blues only once they have achieved a respectable position within a major tournament. So no wonder they didn’t always take to the unorthadox Cantona. He announced his retirement from Nimes and football in 1991 at the tender ago of 25.

Cantona: 92/93

In the early part of the 92/93 season, United had found goals hard to come by losing on the first day of the season to Sheffield United 2-1. Cantona had visted Old Trafford with Leeds earlier in the season when United put two past Leeds (Bruce and Kanchelskis the scorers) but it was a phone call with Howard Wilkinson with which Cantona’s future was to be decided. Legend has it that Wilkinson gave Alex Ferguson a call to discuss a potential fee for Denis Irwin. Alex Ferguson dropped into the conversation about Eric Cantona and he must have nearly fallen off his chair when Wilkinson was open to offers. So in November 1992 Eric Cantona signed for Manchester United and was about to embark on the most influential career a foreign players has ever had in football.

His debut was against City in a 2-1 win over Manchester’s third team and his first goal came against Chelsea two weeks later, Cantona had certainly arrived. His creative flair and genuis combined with his influential arrogant nature was the missing piece of the puzzle for Ferguson’s team. Cantona had an immense presense about him and the Old Trafford crowd took to him for this.

United went on to win the league title for the first time since 1967. It was a huge weight off the shoulders of the club and many put this win down to the inclusion of Eric within the squad. United had some excellent footballers, Ince, Giggs, Sharpe, Kanchelskis to name a few but there was something missing from the side and Eric filled that void.

Cantona: 93/94

The following season United achieved the domestic double, the first time in the clubs long and rich history. With the addition of a young Roy Keane to the side United went from strength to strength and flourished even further under the watchful eye of Alex Ferguson. This season marked moments of genius from Eric but also gave us a glimpse of his volatile nature. Cantona was dismissed in a 2-2 draw with Swindon for stamping on John Moncur and then a week later against Arsenal for a nothing challenge on Tony Adams. He returned in style with two goals in the Manchester derby.

Cantona received the players player award for 93/94, a great tribute to his skills and goals in that season. The season was rounded off with Cantona scoring two goals in the cup final against Chelsea (who had been United’s bogey team that year). Memories of Cantona in a red and white wig kissing the FA Cup will live long in the memory. For the record, this was one of the best United’s side I have ever seen and would have gone much further in Europe if it wasn’t for the foreigner rule.

Cantona:94/95

The season that United ended up with nothing will be remembered for Cantona’s kick on an abusive fan at Crystal Palace in January 1995. United where on course having beaten Blackburn the weekend before, with Eric getting the winning goal from a Ryan Giggs cross. However, it all changed after the 2-2 draw with Palace. United had goal less draws against Leeds, Chelsea and Tottenham in the title run in towards the end of the season. Surely if Eric Cantona had been avaliable for these games United would have received an extra six points from these games.

His jump in the crowd received a vast amount of critcism from all parts of football and the media. However, i’m sure there where many player who understood the reasons for this moment of madness. When black players had bananas thrown at them, when footballers personal lives where subject of violent and offensive chanting. Should a fan be allowed to say anything to a player? Cantona obviously didn’t think so.

United lost the league and FA Cup to Blackburn and Everton respectfully. The summer of 95 was a hard time for United fans as we saw three players leave the club. Three major players that where a massive part of the side. We also where reminded daily that Cantona was about to walk out on United and read stories like the famous one of Alex Ferguson chasing him around Paris on a motorbike. However, the next season would show the world what Alex Ferguson, Manchester United and more emphatically what Eric Cantona was made of.

Cantona:95/96

October 1st 1995 saw the return of the great man against the old enemy Liverpool. It was a fairy tale start for the Frenchman, setting up a goal in front of the stretford end for Nicky Butt. Liverpool played very well that day and Fowler was exceptional scoring two very good goals. At 2-1 down and time running out, Giggs broke through the midfield and was brough down by Redknapp. There was only ever one man to step up and take it. Cantona sent James the wrong way and started his incredible journey from banned outcast to global superstar. The king was back.

Eric Cantona

The start of Cantona’s comeback wasn’t as spectacular as the second part of the season with United losing to Leeds and Liverpool within a week. The second part of the season saw United win six games (including the FA cup final) 1-0 with Cantona scoring the only goal. That is 25 points (the league games obviously) that Cantona helped to achieve with his goals. Also, a late equalizing goal against Q.P.R had rival fans fuming. The Frenchman was back and back in some style.

United won the double for a second time, the first club to do so in the history of the English game. Cantona scored a goal in the 85th minute to give United an FA Cup win. One of the most entertaining and eventful seasons was at a close and the King was back and had come back in some style.

Cantona:96/97

The final season of Eric Cantona’s reign in England was slightly disappointing compared to the previous season. A more fuller looking Eric with a convict style hair cut was on a mission to win the one trophy that had eluded him at club level, the European Cup. To do this United had to get out of the group stage, a stage in which they found so difficult in 94/95. United achieved this after beating Rapid Vienna and Fenerbache. United looked raw and times but the magnificent 4-0 over the team in form at the time, Porto, sent shockwaves through Europe. United where on course for their first European Cup semi final since 1968.

The games against Dortmund where very disappointing. A 2-0 defeat on aggregate against the future European Champions was hard to take considering the amount of chances we created in Germany and at Old Trafford. Cantona came under some critcism for his apparent “jump” out of a tackle which led to the goal in Germany. It was more of a flash flick rather than Eric losing his bottle. For one thing the man may have been flash but you could never doubt he had strength and courage.

His mood at this time could be summed up at the end of the Dortmund game. Walking off, shirt off, towards the stretford end with his head down. Was this the moment that Eric Cantona had decided he had enough? Was this the moment that Eric the King decided to give up his throne at the young age of 30? Ferguson always commented that Eric took a trip to Barcelona in the winter of 96 and never returned the same. Something had happened to Eric the King that made him lose his passion and love for the game.

Eric Cantona conclusion

Eric Cantona was the greatest player to play at Manchester United since George Best in the sixties. He combined power, strength and vision with skill, confidence and influence. He played a major part in developing the English game and the way in which kids play football today. Cantona was loved by the United fans, and rightfully so. He had left Leeds high and dry and saved his best footballing moments for the theatre of dreams. People say he underachieved in Europe, however he only had one full season in 96/97 where we reached the semi-final of the European Cup. Sheringham is still playing the age of 40 because he still has the football brain. Cantona could well have achieved the same height as his replacement and been part of the 1999 European Cup winning side. It’s all if’s and but’s however I believe he still had much to offer United and football in general. Old Trafford will never forget the amazing moments that Eric provided and these great footballing moments will always live in our memories.

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Antwerp Time to Terminate the Relationship?!

Posted on July 21, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

Do not these players come to Old Trafford because of the high level of coaching and technical ability then we send them to a league which doesn’t really register and it is very doubtful their repertoire of skills will be enhanced from the Antwerp experience.

 

When the deal was first struck at least Antwerp were in the top division and it would be a means of helping get players European work permits but that seems to have back fired. Even Antwerp probably haven’t benefited from the deal as the constant changing of players on a short term basis must make management extremely difficult. And building a team is what really matters, let’s just look as some of the problems the players have.

 

The standard of the league and the coaching isn’t set up to enhance their abilities.

 

Short term loan, means they are going in to a club which knows they will only be there for a short time, this wouldn’t be bad if it were just one or two players but half a dozen United players are being sent at one time. How can this help with developing careers or getting the best out of the players – the set up isn’t designed to build a club/team or team spirit.

 

Watching Eagles and David Jones after coming back from NEC and playing in the Dutch top league the improvement seems obvious and both have been very complimentary of their time in Holland unlike I would suggest the many who have played for Antwerp who have remarked it as “Time Served”.

 

Surely we should be attempting to further develop the player’s technical ability and understanding of the game while they still have that passion to learn.

 

Sporting Lisbon have helped us buy Ronaldo and Nani against stiff opposition but I’m not sure there are many positives which can be named from the Belgium club, and perhaps they too would be glad to end the close ties with the Red Devils!

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Tevez is the Right Man

Posted on July 13, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   2 Comments »

A number of supporters seemingly are questioning whether Fergie has made the right decision in going after Tevez. Claims have been made that he isn’t a natural main striker, he is too similar to Rooney, they will get in each others way, we will lack height up front and therefore limited the available options and teams may find it easier to defend against.

I confess I find these remarks puzzling and wonder how many people who are saying them are regular visitors to Old Trafford. United’s forward line is based on pace and fluid movement, some have labeled it total football one player moves in to the others position/space and the other takes his position. Moreover Giggs has often played either as the main striker or has played with Rooney with considerable success.

Both Rooney and Tevez can play as the main striker, or play in the hole or play wide, more than likely during every game they will play in all these positions as Ronaldo changes wings or moves inside, it must be at best very difficult to mark and at times impossible. When you have the attributes of Rooney Tevez Ronaldo Giggs (I wont say too much about Nani and Anderson just yet) they have the pace, skill, strength, vision, and work-rate to attack and make a system work.

Rooney and Tevez can work back and support the midfield if required and link the play, if we were talking about two Saha’s or Ruud van Nistlerooy’s I would accept they would struggle to play together but the same cannot apply to the above.

I am not saying the players will gel immediately, they will need time but what can stop them?

Tevez 3 Times South American player of the Season, he has demonstrated he has the ability to fight and pull a team up from the boot straps when it is playing poorly. The pace and physical nature of the premiership don’t worry him and he has adapted to different systems and the English weather.

TEVEZ’S GOALS

Year Team Games Goals
01-04 Boca Juniors 75 25
05-06 Corinthians 38 25
06-07 West Ham 26 7
04 Argentina 35 7
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Jose Mourinho is losing it already

Posted on July 11, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Chelsea   No Comments »

Apparently, United are already under pressure having spent heavily in the summer on transfers. Who could come out with such a comments? Maybe Arsene Wenger who see’s himself as a careful purchaser of players? Nope. Maybe Rafa Benitez trying to take an early swipe at Liverpool’s main rivals? Nope. It comes out of mouth of Jose ‘I’m speaking out of my arse’ Mourinho.

Mourinho brings a lot to the English game in terms of personality, tactical knowhow and charm. However, he does speak a whole lot of nonsense at times. Does he forget the vast amount of player he has bought who have underachieved at Stamford Bridge under his management? Firstly, last summer he brought in Shevchenko and Ballack which a) upset the balance of the team and b) underperformed significantly in the race for the title. Who should be blamed? The players have obviously been hit hard by the media but does anyone blame Jose? No. Mourinho has the ability like Fergie and like Clough to ‘blame everyone else’ but the way his sides play football doesn’t always allow for such an arrogant attitude towards football.

Mourinho believes he is the wind up merchant and is starting early, but to be honest nothing will get past Fergie. Fans get irate and wound up over what rival managers say all the time. I’m more bemused than annoyed in regards to this story as I can’t believe a manager would leave themselves so open to being a hypocrite.

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Football Needs United to Succeed!!!

Posted on July 08, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

It is clear by Fergie’s signings that United will once again attempt to win trophies by playing attractive attacking football. The only other premiership club which comes in to this category will probably be Arsenal, but it is difficult to see them making a serious challenge next season.

Football clubs usually emulate teams which win major trophies, wingers left the game after Ramsay’s wingless wonders won the World Cup. Liverpool dominated in the 70s and 80s and did so most of the time by playing clinical rather than attractive entertaining football. Chelsea a club renowned in the 70s for their flamboyant style have adopted a win at all costs mentality under Mourinho which isn’t pretty to watch but certainly effective.

And it is difficult to see Liverpool exciting the masses of English supporters with attractive football under Rafa next season although there is transfer gossip around some entertaining players.

But it is undoubtedly United who football fans will look for entertainment, fans were enthralled last season with our attacking football and with the addition of attacking players such as Nani, Anderson and probably Tevez added to Rooney Ronaldo Scholes Giggs it promises to be the most attacking attractive team/squad which has graced the prem or football for a long time if not ever.

If United do win the title and the Champions League playing total football attacking and destroying teams we can expect many more clubs to follow suit in the future, if they fail, Chelsea’s formation and play could well be the way clubs go.

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Tevez on his way to United

Posted on July 05, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

Breaking news that Carlos Tevez is in talks with United and could complete a deal by this weekend. If we sign Tevez I don’t believe we’ve ever had a more active transfer summer. Tevez will be an absolute fabulous signing for United and I think will work wonders with Ronaldo and Rooney. We really are looking like we can challenge for a number of different honours next season.

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Tevez’s Owners in talks with United

Posted on July 03, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

The owners of Tévez, who remain in talks with Manchester United about the forward playing at Old Trafford this season, have always denied that they gave agreement to the termination of the contract.

Tevez would be a great player for United, I just hope that we can own him outright rather than this third party agreement.  This would allow Rooney to operate from a deeper role and we would have the best attacking talent in Europe.

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Fergie & Ronaldo in Bet

Posted on July 03, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

If Ronaldo doesn’t score 20 goals he will shave his head… if he does Fergie will have to shave his!!!

I can’t image the gaffer with a Vin Diesel look!  If i’m perfectly honest, I think Fergie is mad to sign up to this bet.  Ronaldo who finished on 22 goals last terms is still only 22 years of age and is going to get better and better.  He is unplayable at times!

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Could Manchester United Struggle next Season

Posted on July 03, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

Next seasons squad has the biggest influx of major players I can remember, Hargreaves, Nani, Anderson, Rossi, Evans, Pique, Foster, Simpson, Bardsley and may be another striker and left back as well as a few sales.

Of course the idea is that we can ease the youngsters in for the next couple of seasons while Giggs and Scholes are coming to the end of their careers. However while that sounds great in theory in practice it may be much more difficult as players need games to gain their top form.

Also what system will we play? I have little doubt Fergie will play around with the players in different systems and different players.

Before RA arrived on the scene, sides perhaps could get away with this but with a rejuvenated Chelsea it could cost us the title next season but perhaps the Champions League and the FA cup with a more settled team for the following five years to follow after that.

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http://www.stretford-end.com/forum/

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4-2-3-1?

Posted on July 03, 2007  by Stretford-end  in Man United   No Comments »

Anderson, Nani and Hargreaves – three great signings by the gaffer that will further improve our chance in Europe in the bid to win the Champions League. Hargreaves has been a long running saga and i’m glad that it has finally come to a conclusion, and an expensive conclusion at that. Hargreaves is a good player that will bring a much needed aggression in the middle of the park that was so evidently missing in the San Siro. Of course the gaffer hasn’t bought Hargreaves to play in tight European games, but ultimately that is what was needed in order to free up the attacking talents of Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney and now Nani and Anderson.

Nani is an exciting player and a great addition to the squad but will never get to the same level as Cristiano Ronaldo, and to be fair which players do? Anderson could go on to become one of the best players in Europe and I believe that Old Trafford will allow him to express himself and show what great technical and physical abilities he has. I’m more excited about the Anderson transfer than the Nani one at the moment.

So this leads to the next point that we look like we shall be playing 4-2-3-1 next season as we did so successfully against Roma and so poorly against Milan. I like this formation, and I think it can work, although I am worried about playing Rooney as the target man. Wayne Rooney is one of the best players in the world when he operates from deep and I think would excel even further behind a pacey striker. I understand Fergie’s motives as Rooney, Ronaldo, Giggs, Nani and Anderson are very quick and can operate all across the front line which makes marking them a nightmare. But it is possible to improve that even more by operating Rooney more deeper with Giggs/Nani/Ronaldo on the flanks.

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