For many, Sunday is a day spent in the company of family and friends, reading that unfinished book, or watching a new episode of a favourite show. Over at United Rant it’s spent catching up on the beautiful game. Join us, in Rant’s weekly round-up of Manchester United-related news and blogs – Media Digest.
“God knows what is hiding in those weak and drunken hearts”
Former United player Rio Ferdinand has had much to say about Kick It Out in recent days. “We are in a better place now, but there is still work to be done,” said Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, reflecting on the past twenty years of the campaign. But as Jonathan Allsop writes in his blog, there is still a long way to go before racism, sexism and homophobia is kicked out of football.
“It’s clear that we can’t rely on the so-called role models who play, manage, administer and commentate on our national game to set an example when it comes to fighting discrimination in all its forms. Malky Mackay and the League Managers’ Association are the latest in a long line of those whose bigoted views have disgraced the game including the likes of John Terry, Richard Scudamore, Ron Atkinson and Alan Green. And typically the BBC were only too happy to include the fascist Paolo di Canio as a talking head in its recent smugfest celebrating fifty years of Match of the Day. ‘Haha, look at the daft fascist pushing the referee over…’”
“Can’t help myself but count the flaws”
A lot has been written about Wayne Rooney: the brilliant, the stupid, the beautiful, and the ugly. He is the loved one, the hated one, the captain, and the embarrassment all at the same time. The debate stops only until Rooney produces the next best or the worst thing – and then it starts all over again. This time it’s the latter; Rooney’s red card against West Ham United and his perceived lack of leadership qualities – at least those beyond yelling.
Unsurprisingly, it looks like recent events failed to sway any of the camps, either pro- or anti-Rooney. Consider the titles: the Daily Mail leads with “Wayne Rooney is a success story and the haters can’t handle it.” Stretty News strongly responds with “Wayne Rooney: Petulant, pathetic, past his best!” The (anti)hero thinks his best years are yet to come, even if some wish they’d come elsewhere; after all, as that Daily Mail’s article states, once he becomes United’s all-time top goalscorer, he can laugh at all of us.
On the other hand, Jeremy Wilson put it perfectly when he said on Sky Sports’ panel dedicated to Rooney: “I always feel that there’s a simmering frustration that what has been a very, very good career has not quite gone to the stratosphere that you would hope.”
But should that make him a scapegoat? Sam Pilger, writing for Bleacher Report, does not think so, concluding that Rooney deserves more love at United.
“So Rooney didn’t become Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? Deal with it. No other player in the last decade has either, so why single out Rooney?
“Denis Law demanded a pay rise from Sir Matt Busby in the 1960s and was transfer listed, and Eric Cantona, while serving an eight-month ban for kicking a Crystal Palace fan (now that was recklessness on a grand scale), also asked to leave in 1995. George Best didn’t even ask to leave; he simply walked out of Old Trafford without a backward glance in May 1972 by announcing his retirement the day before he turned 26 and fleeing to a beach in Spain. He returned 12 days later.”
However, there’s still a question of leadership – or lack of it. Jim White, in his column for The Telegraph, thinks that United need a new Keane:
“[Keane] was United’s conscience, providing purpose on the pitch, quick to remind colleagues of their responsibilities in the dressing room. For more than a decade his glowering brow epitomised the team’s relentless determination to win… This was a man whose very presence issued constant notice of the standard expected, the merest glance prompting memories of his own unyielding performance against Juventus at the Stadio delle Alpi in 1999. When Keane was around, nobody dared shirk. Where Keane went, everybody was obliged to follow. Such leadership qualities have become only more obvious since they have been no longer available. It is a vacuum which, according to Louis van Gaal, was particularly stark when the new manager arrived in Manchester at the start of this season.”
Oh, and that red card? Could Rooney’s stupidity might lead to something good? Red Mancunian’s Mark Nevin thinks it’s a blessing in disguise:
“It hands an opportunity to Juan Mata to prove that he can be a more effective option than the United skipper in the hole behind the two main strikers. It also moves Adnan Januzaj up the pecking order. We don’t want to see him burnt out, but with so many quality attacking players there’s a real danger of him not getting the game time he needs to continue his development. It also means someone else picking up the captaincy. I suspect, however, that after the three games there’ll be an even bigger question mark over his position as a regular starter and that Van Gaal may be forced to reassess his view of his leadership qualities.”
“I’ll be here giving it my best shot”
Forced by circumstances or not, Van Gaal has already given an opportunity to so many youngsters that it is almost possible to field a team of kids. Tyler Blackett has not only started a few games, but performed impressively too. In the Daily Mail Adam Crafton profiles the youngster, touching on the roots of the player’s dedication, United’s youth policy and Tyler’s professionalism:
“On Tuesday, United players were granted a day off but still Blackett came in, determined to push himself, picking over his performances and organising an extra session in the gym… It is not only his attitude that has struck Van Gaal and his close-knit team of advisers. For a defender, the goals against column is the ultimate measure of success, but coaches have been lifted by Blackett’s distribution. At home to QPR, 97.9 per cent of Blackett’s 97 passes were successful, a better record than any other United player on the day… The defender’s level-headed approach is admirable. His parents must take much of the credit. So too must the United academy, where Blackett first trained at the age of seven.”
Meanwhile, Red Mancunian’s Leo Nieboer contemplates what comes next for Blackett.
“Everything he does just evokes the persona of a really calm chap, you’d trust him to cut your hair during an earthquake. There’s certainly some further development that needs to happen… [but it] can only happen to certain extents depending on the players that surround you… Tyler Blackett is that unfortunate pupil, who has lots of potential and good qualities but can’t utilise it to a full extent because he is surrounded by a panicky and introverted weirdo, or in other words, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling. The lack of leadership at the back makes life much harder for someone who is finding their feet in the Premier League. If pressure were alleviated more competently in defence then Blackett would be able to acclimatize and improve at a much faster rate.”
“Come make a mess of it. Shine!”
When Van Gaal first came to the club, the Dutchman made a promise to turn things around in three months. Even though he later changed the self-imposed deadline to a full year, it’s interesting to see just where the club is three months into Dutchman’s reign.
Ian Ladyman is not entirely convinced with van Gaal’s achievements thus far. In his article for Daily Mail he writes:
“United can look a completely different team within the space one match, never mind one week, and the reasons for this go deeper than an injury crisis… For all the technical quality of United’s offensive players – Herrera in particular looks a fine footballer – United continue to have difficulties retaining possession for long periods. Ferguson used to talk about suffocating opponents with possession but that trait began to slip away during his later years and it’s problem that went on to afflict Moyes’ United and is now causing difficulties for Van Gaal… A team that can look as devastating as any when it moves forward still spends too much time without the ball, despite the endless passing drills that Van Gaal asks his coaches to organise on a daily basis during first ream training.”
The Daily Mail reports that Eric Cantona will be whipped in a film based around an orgy.
Daniel Taylor writes about the possibility of Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to United for The Guardian.
The Republik of Mancunia raised £1,605 for local charity.
The Peoples Person features a clip from Sir Alex’s playing days.