Here are pictures, exclusive to Stretford-End.com, of the Manchester United open training session in Chicago. In attendance was our newest contributor, Kyle, who was able to rub shoulders with some of our heroes just days before our first pre-season friendly.
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Manchester United defender and England captain Rio Ferdinand has slammed stories that suggested Owen Hargreaves is set to announce his retirement this week. Ferdinand, who was using the social networking site Twitter, was bemused at the origin of these rumours. Hargreaves made a single appearance last season in the 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the back end of the season. His previous appearance was against Chelsea in September of the 2008/09 season. Many fear that the injuries will take their toll on the former Bayern Munich man, who had audaciously been linked with a return to the England setup before the World Cup finals in South Africa.
Manchester United are heading back to the USA hoping to take advantage of some of the country’s recent heightened interest in the sport; just as Stretford-End.com works on introducing a new correspondent from that side of the pond. As United hope for a strengthened stranglehold on the commercial market in America, Yolkie took time to welcome our new features writer, Kyle, before he gets to see the club he loves in his own country (Kyle, that is, not Yolkie).
I blogged last week about the immediate future of Manchester United and how I believe that in the short term at least the rabid incoherent demand for a “marquee signing” seemingly on the principle “it proves we have money” is unnecessary and a little short sighted. I still believe that; but the newest setback to Owen Hargreaves has highlighted the fragility of a football players career and with arguably 4 of our first team players entering what is surely likely to be their last season at the club, thoughts inevitably returned to the required long term investment, the size of it, and just how badly the Glazers are financially taking apart the club.
Despite being one of the best left backs in the world and one of the most consistent performers in recent seasons for United, ex-French defender Lillian Thuram has called for a life time ban for our number three after his conduct as captain was called into question at the World Cup finals in South Africa. Evra, along with Malouda and Anelka were harshly criticized for their actions following Anelka’s criticism of the inept head coach Raymond Domenech. Anelka was sent home, whilst Evra and Malouda were left out in their final group game, a 2-1 loss to host nation South Africa. Lillian Thuram is France’s most capped player ever and was a fine fullback for Les Blues over the years, whilst performing constantly at a high level in Serie A for Parma and Juventus – however, is there a tinge of double standards from Lillian?
One year ago, Manchester United sold Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez left the club after refusing terms on a permanent deal. Though fans can lament Antonio Valencia and Dimitar Berbatov squandering chances at Ewood Park, or Mike Dean’s suspicious refereeing at Old Trafford against Chelsea, it would be commonly accepted that losing the best player in the world probably cost United a point or two. Now, with the new season drawing near, the sight of our rivals losing players from their squads while we seem relieved to hold onto Vidic (at present, at least) shows that standing still might actually be the best way forward in next seasons Premier League title race.
So, there you go.
Pure shambles, but if you’re a Manchester United fan, short of winning the World Cup, yesterday’s farce was surely the best case scenario.
No United scapegoat and even the strongest attempt to deflect attention cannot divert it away from the abject failure that was on show – chief culprits being Gerrard and Lampard, later revealed by German coach Low as being targetted due to their lack of positional discipline.
Wayne Rooney has come under harsh criticism in recent England matches after failing to find the back of the net, criticising the travelling England fans for booing, slammed for being unfit and not ‘really caring’ about the team. Rather than singling out Rooney, the most talented footballer in the England squad, I would be focusing on England’s poor ball retention, rigid tactics and lack of imagination.
I’ve kept pretty quiet recently on the events occurring down in South Africa, however I wanted to address the situation now that England have qualified for the last sixteen. Rooney’s World Cup campaign hasn’t even got started yet and I would look at a certain inspirational Roberto Baggio as proof that you don’t need to blow the group stages away.
It can’t be blamed on the manager, it can’t be blamed on the goalkeeper this time, and despite best attempts, it can’t blamed on Wayne Rooney, the diamond in the manure infested national side. Fabio Capello has indicated he will consider a system change to boost England’s chances of progression, but to get the best out of this group of 23 he will have to make a switch in personnel.
Manchester United kick off their 2010/11 Premier League campaign against Championship winners Newcastle United at Old Trafford on August 14th. United opened the 2000/01 with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle, with Andy Cole and Ronny Johnson getting on the score sheet. The next game sees United up against Europa League finalists Fulham and then at home to West Ham at the end of the month. United then face back to back games against Merseyside opposition, with United traveling to Goodison Park on the 11th – a ground where United were well beaten last term – and then host Liverpool at Old Trafford on the 18th.