Monday, 30 November 2015


Ferguson vs Van Gaal
Ferguson  started as a manager at the edge of 32 years at East Stirlingshire. He was quickly snapped up by St Mirren where he won the Old first division title. Aberdeen came for him and the rest is history. The tables below show his achievements at both Manchester United and Aberdeen. At Manchester United he took time to settle but after winning his first trophy in 1990 and the second the European cup winners cup in 1991 against Barcelona  his star started to rise until his retirement as a Manchester United manager in 2013.
The table below shows his achievements but success is not measured only with trophies but his ability to create a team, protect his players from media and dressing room harmony. Ferguson was known for his hairdryer treatment of the players but the players never reported him to the media except David Beckham.
To Ferguson the team came first before the player. No player was bigger than the club and if it means selling the player for the sake of dressing room harmony he would do it. Jaap Stam tried he was sold immediately to Lazio.
David Beckham tried and immediately he was on his way to Madrid.
The table below summarizes Ferguson Achievements at both Aberdeen and Manchester United.
SPL (3)
1980, 1984, 1985

1982, 1983,1984,1986,1986


Manchester United
Premier League (13)
1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013

1990,1994,1996,1999 and 2004

League Cup (4)
1992, 2006, 2009, 2010

1999 and 2008

Louis Van Gaal
He is one of the most decorated managers of the game. His playing career started at Ajax Amsterdam and ended at Az Alkmar.
He started his management career at AZ as an assistant then he moved to Ajax Amsterdam also as an assistant.
He was appointed the Manager of of Ajax in 1991. The period 1991-1997 is one of the most successful time of Van Gaal.
His Achievements at Ajax were phenomenal.
In 1992 he won the UEFA CUP, in 1993 the KNVB CUP.
The Eredivisie titles followed in 1994, 95 and 96.
In 1995 he won the the Eredivisie title unbeaten.
Ajax European football dominance was also witnessed during this time.  In 1995 he won the European Champions League against the defending champions AC Milan. 1996 he lost the Champions League final against Juventus.
It should be noted that most of this trophies were achieved with homegrown players from the Ajax Academy. Players like Patrick Kluivert,  Edgar Davids came later to dominate football.
It was no surprise when Barcelona came calling.
At Barca he won two la liga titles and the Copa del Rey but a clash of personalities with his players caused him to move in may 2000.
An unsuccessful stint as Netherlands coach and a second return to Barcelona followed. The second stint was worse and he had to cut short his contract in mid-season.
In 2008 while managing AZ he surprised many by winning the Eredivisie.
A successful stint as the Netherlands team manager followed. Now he is at Manchester United.
Playing style
Van Gaal style is about dominating possession until an opening arrives. This leads to so many sideways passing and passing backwards. Some critics have called the style ugly because it does not allow individual brilliance. It has also been argued his style is too rigid and creating chances for scoring is minimal. His rigid structure has always lead to clash with players especially Rivaldo at Barcelona where Van Gaal wanted to use him as a winger but Rivaldo preferred to play centrally.
But it has been fruitful if you consider the number of trophies he has won down the road.

Team building as compared to Ferguson
Van Gaal is credited with giving youth a chance just as Ferguson used to do. He has discovered football gems such as Xavi Hernandez at Barcelona, Thomas Muller at Bayern Munich and many more.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Sir Alex Ferguson

A four part series looking at some of the Best Managers in Football history. Is Alex Ferguson, Guardiola, Mourinho or Van Gaal my all time Favourite??
Sir Alex Ferguson
The most successful manager in the Premier League history and also in British Football. He started his career young,  32 years.
By the time he joined Manchester United in 1986 he had a well  proven track record. He had won the Scottish Premier League with Aberdeen, that's is 1980, 1984 and 1985. This was an achievement considering the Old Firm stronghold of the league in Scotland.

Ferguson Achievements in Scotland

SPL (3)
1980, 1984, 1985

1982, 1983,1984,1986,1986


This achievement was unprecedented considering the team he was with. In winning the 1983 European Winners Cup he CV was greatly enhanced. The European cup didn't come on a canter, he had to beat Real Madrid of all teams in the final.

Manchester United
The early years were full of frustrations as the performance of Manchester United didn't match the fans expectations. This is the time Fergie first tried with a youthful team, the first of Fergie Fledglings. Success would eventually come starting in the early 90’s with the second Fergie Fledglings and dominance of the English Premier League. During these years, Ferguson had to rely on the Manchester United youth players,  the class of 92. This is what used to set him aside as compared to the other Managers. His ability to use home grown talent rather than buying established talent. This does not mean he didn't buy, notable players he bought included King Eric Cantona. Cantona revolutionized how Manchester United played and he is considered the man who brought Manchester United back to the map. Other notable signings include Andrew Cole, Dwight Yorke and Ruud Van Nistelrooy,  Peter Schmeichel.

As the game changed Ferguson had also to change. This started with the acquisition of Chelsea by Roman Abramovitch in 2003. This means Chelsea were buying more of the talent in the market. Ferguson experienced his first trophy drought from 2004 to 2006 winning only the FA cup during this season.
This means he had to change tactics snapping up Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon, Wayne Rooney from Everton. They were bought when still young and by the time they blossomed up in 2006-2007 Manchester United dominance had again started. This period is one of the most successful period in English football.
As well as winning the Premier League three times in a row, they won the champions league in 2008 and also lost to Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

Ferguson Achievements at Manchester United

Manchester United
Premier League (13)
1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013

1990,1994,1996,1999 and 2004

League Cup (4)
1992, 2006, 2009, 2010

1999 and 2008

Is he the best Manager of all time? Next I will be looking at Pep Guardiola. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


KE-[C:G.Phon.Mobi] TV Blast:250x250

The Bbc sport in its match report had said Man United had inflicted a total humiliation on Arsenal. Going ahead to say it was the worst defeat of Arsenal since 1896.

The guardian  reported that this was a relegation day for Arsenal and that Man United were gleefully unsparing as they illustrated  all the weaknesses in the ranks of the opposition who could no longer be taken as members of the elite.


The question now is what happened to that squad of players who completely demolished Arsenal at Old Trafford?

 Five players that played that day are still at Old Trafford David De Gea, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young.

I am going to look briefly at the players who started that game and have since left.


He showed so much promise when he arrived from Porto in 2007. Confident with the ball and an eye for a killer pass he was considered the perfect replacement for Roy Keane. All of his talent was on display in the 2007-2008 season where he played a pivotal role for Manchester United helping them to win the Premier League and the Champions League against Chelsea in Moscow.
He was still an integral part of Man United in 2008-2009 season guiding them again to another Champions League final but they lost to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. He won his second Premier League title. 
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Something to note was his tendency to drift out of the game especially in the second half.
It is this tendency and weight which eventually took toll on him and he left United first for a loan stint at Fiorentina and then he was sold to International  Brazil.

Tom Cleverley
Loan stint at Wigan where he impressed convinced Ferguson he was now mature for the big stage and boy did he perform in this game against Arsenal. He and Anderson were the fulcrum as Manchester United dictated play against Arsenal. He never really produced another eye catching performance, maybe because his form was curtailed by frequent injuries or he was not cut out for Manchester United.
He now plies his trade at Aston Villa after Van Gaal deemed him surplus to requirement.

He came together with Anderson from Porto in 2007. A highly talented and gifted player his only weakness was over elaborating and decision making. Just as Ronaldo had started at Man United with so many footwork, Nani started the same and most of Man United were hopeful he will become a team player. His game was not entirely that negative like this goal he scored against Tottenham (I think his first premier league goal).
As a successor for Cristiano Ronaldo he never fulfilled his potential but he had his best moments most notably against Arsenal. In this game he was in his imperious best even capping of with a goal.
He was loaned to Sporting Lisbon and later sold to Fenerbahce in Turkey.

I was surprised when Van Gaal sold him to Arsenal but apart from helping Arsenal win the FA cup he has been on the sidelines with an injury.
He was a good focal point of attack but sometimes he missed so many chances.
In this game he started the scoring and tormented Arsenal throughout. A Ferguson favourite, I always thought he was destined for better things at Old Trafford but I think during Moyes era his performances were a little bit below per just as most of the other players.
If he shrugs his injury problems he can fit well with the gunners.

Patrice Evra, Ji Sung Park left after having served Manchester United well. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015


The last time Watford played Manchester United in the Premier League was in 2007, precisely January 2007. The win for Manchester United that day was comprehensive. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, you guessed right a penalty. A deflected Kieran Richardson shot, remember him, made it two nil after the hour mark. Henrik Larsson got the third just after coming in as a substitute to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
Eyebrows were raised when United bought Henrik Larsson on loan from Helsingborg in early january 2007.

The previous season he had won the champions League with Barcelona after coming in as a substitute late in the game. He set Eto’o for the equalising goal and also set up Juliano Beletti winning goal.
This was one of sir Alex Ferguson masterstroke’s that season. United had not won the league for three consecutive seasons and the media had already said Ferguson was past his best. He should have retired in 2003 as he had planned.
Arsenal had won the 2004 premier League on a canter even managing to go the whole season unbeaten.
Then the Russian money had arrived at Stamford Bridge and young Jose Mourinho was hired from Fc Porto. The 2005 and 2006 premier league campaigns by Manchester United were dismal. Chelsea won on both occasions, infact in 2006 they finished fifteen points ahead of United.

When the 2006-2007 season began the questions on many people's mind were how Rooney and Ronaldo will play together considering Ronaldo's role in Rooney's sending off in the 2006 world cup quarter finals.
But starting from the first game against Fulham  where they combined with deadly effect the fears were unfounded.
So against Watford it was no surprise when they combined for the fourth goal taking Manchester United six points clear and later to the first title in 4 seasons.
Here is how the main media houses in the UK reported.
Despite a slow start, United took the lead through a Ronaldo penalty, but it was a ten-minute second-half spell which gleaned an own goal and one apiece for Wayne Rooney and substitute Henrik Larsson to secure all three points.
Sir Alex made five changes to the team that beat Portsmouth 2-1 in the FA Cup on Sunday, most notably promoting United’s two-goal hero Rooney…..
Gabriel Heinze
Kieran Richardson
Cristiano Ronaldo
Tomasz Kuszczak
Nemanja Vidic
Wayne Rooney
John O'Shea
Gary Neville…… sky sports.

Manchester United have the air of a team in complete control of their own destiny, so a side of Watford's limitations were always going to struggle in a contest their manager Aidy Boothroyd had likened to "Muhammad Ali against Jimmy Krankie"....... the guardian.

Manchester United produced a dominant second half display to see off Watford.
A Cristiano Ronaldo penalty midway through the first half put them ahead after Jay DeMerit had pulled back Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the area.
Watford nearly equalised when Chris Powell's cross hit the post but when Lloyd Doyley deflected in Kieran Richardson's cross it was all but over.
Substitute Henrik Larsson sidefooted home his first Premiership goal and Wayne Rooney scored with a fine lob….. bbc sport.

Let's hope yesterday's win is a good sign for things to come just like in 2007.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Roy Keane Departure

Gaizka Mendieta in action
 Livestream for Watford vs  Manchester united here

Gaizka Mendieta one of the game's best playmakers was the architect of this destruction at the Riverside in 2005.

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I had watched Mendieta play for Valencia in the early 2000s, leading them to two champions league finals. In 2000 they lost to Madrid and in 2001 they lost to Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout. When he arrived at the Riverside I thought he was looking for his last payout.
His two goals and ability to read the game destroyed Ferguson game plan.
The Manchester United team was undergoing rebuilding especially the defence was to the bare minimum.
Here were the defenders that day..
Van der Sar, Bardsley (Richardson 31), Ferdinand (Brown 87), O'Shea, Silvestre

A central defensive partnership between Ferdinand and O’shea was laughable. Silvestre was a disaster waiting to happen. Phil Bardsley never even managed to make it at Manchester United same as  Kieran Richardson. To make it worse Richardson was not even a defender. He was a winger.
In midfield the great Roy Keane  was missing due to an injury and is the subject of this blog. He was the engine of the team, he carried the team in high esteem but this game led to his downfall at Manchester United. The midfield consisting  Alan Smith, Darren Fletcher and Scholes was to lightweight and couldn't hold the powerful players of middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough midfield had Mendieta, Rochemback and Pogatetz. The strikers were Yakubu Aiyegbeni, a powerful built Nigerian and another powerful player Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
With the defense so light and the Midfield non existent Boro picked out Manchester United and Roy Keane days at Manchester United came to an end, abrupt end.
In the built up to the game he had said he didn't know if he will be given a new contract because he was in the last year of his contract.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Manchester United 4 Real Madrid 3

2003 Champions League Quarter Final .
Teams: Manchester United vs Real Madrid
Venue : Old Trafford, Manchester
Date: Wednesday, 23. April 2003
   Watch live games at
This was epic. Ronaldo Nazario tore apart Manchester United in the first half and early second half. It had been long since I had seen Ronaldo play this way, maybe from his heydays at Barcelona. He had constantly been plagued by injuries especially during his unglamorous stay at Inter Milan. In 2002 he regained some of his form to guide Brazil to unprecedented 5th world cup trophy.
In this game he attacked Manchester United from the word go. Apart from some suspect goalkeeping from Fabian Barthez this was Ronaldo's nite and Beckham's.
The build up by Manchester United to the clash was overshadowed by the fallout between Beckham and Ferguson. Apparently Ferguson in rage after Manchester United lost 2-0 to Arsenal in the FA cup hit a boot which cut Beckham just above the eyelashes. Beckham took it to the media, and he was on his way out Manchester United.
Beckham started on the bench in this game because Ferguson said Solskjaer was the player in form.
He came from the bench to score two goals, one a thunderous free kick which left Iker Casillas rooted on the spot.

How  it was reported by the media.
A high-class hat-trick by Ronaldo ensured a fourth successive UEFA Champions League semi-final for Real Madrid CF after a memorable night of football. If next month's final, at the same stadium, matches the quality displayed tonight by two of the world's most famous clubs then we have much to look forward to.UEFA

 In losing this quarter-final there was still vindication of all that
Manchester United have stood for down the decades. In the closing moments, even the Real Madrid players seemed to believe that Sir Alex Ferguson's side were capable of the two further goals required.
Despite being 3-1 down from the first leg and behind by the same margin here, conviction and flair carried United to a 4-3 victory on their own ground, with David Beckham emerging to score twice as a substitute. The English club, however, could never curb Real Madrid and Ronaldo's hat-trick was. The guardian
 Ronaldo single-handedly wrecked Manchester United's Champions League dreams with a virtuoso display at Old Trafford.
Real Madrid's Brazilian superstar scored a stunning hat-trick to destroy United's ambition of reaching the final on home soil in May.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men won a match liberally sprinkled with sparkling attacking football - but Real went through as United's defensive deficiencies were cruelly exposed again.
To add to the drama of a magical evening, David Beckham emerged from the substitutes' bench to score twice as United staged a late rally.
Ruud van Nistelrooy gave United hope when he levelled Ronaldo's early goal.
But Ronaldo struck twice more early in the second half to ensure Real always stayed tantalisingly out of United's reach.
Iven Helguera's own goal and Beckham's bbc-sport.

  To the brainwashed, the unwashed and those who sometimes have difficulty seeing what they watch, going out against Real Madrid without David Beckham was sheer heresy.

To Sir Alex Ferguson, omitting England's captain from the start of the most challenging production to be staged at the Theatre of Dreams all season was pure necessity.

By the brilliant-but-bitter end both the masses and the manager had been proved right, up to a point.Daily Mail
Where were you during this game?
Line ups 
Fabien Barthez
5 Mikaël Silvestre 79'
6 Rio Ferdinand
22 John O'Shea
24 Wes Brown
4 Juan Sebastián Verón 63'
8 Nicky Butt
11 Ryan Giggs
16 Roy Keane 82'
10 Ruud van Nistelrooy
20 Ole Gunnar Solskjær
3 Phil Neville 79'
7 David Beckham 63'
22 Quinton Fortune 82'
1 Iker Casillas
2 Míchel Salgado
3 Roberto Carlos
4 Hierro
6 Iván Helguera
5 Zinédine Zidane
8 Steve McManaman 69'
10 Luís Figo 88'
14 Guti
24 Claude Makélélé
11 Ronaldo 67'
22 Pavón 88'
21 Santiago Solari 67'
18 Portillo 69'
Manager: Alex Ferguson Manager: Vicente Del Bosque

Friday, 13 November 2015



Captain Fantastic 
Venue: Del Alpi,  Turin
Date: April 21 1999
Time : 1945 BST
Line ups:
Juventus: Angelo Peruzzi; Alessandro Birindelli, Ciro Ferrara, Marco Iuliano, Gianluca Pessotto; Antonio Conte, Didier Deschamps, Edgar Davids, Angelo di Livio; Zinedine Zidane, Filippo Inzaghi
Manchester United :
Peter Schmeichel; Gary Neville, Nicky Butt, Japp Stam, Denis Irwin; David Beckham, Ronny Johnsen, Roy Keane, Jesper Bolmqvist; Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole Courtesy the hardtackle

Ryan Giggs was injured while Paul Scholes started on the bench. The Old lady of Turin had surprised Manchester United with an away goal in the first leg from Antonio  Conte.
Scholes equalized late in the second half to give Manchester United hope. The fans were not that hopeful, Juventus were by far the best team in Europe for the past six or so seasons.
This was their fourth successive semi-final having reached the final in the past 3 seasons, losing two and winning one in 1996.
For Manchester United they had never won a game in Italy, so the odds were stacked against them.
Juventus missed the services of Alessandro Del Piero due to injury but they had an able Deputy in Filippo Inzaghi.
For man united fans the first ten minutes were like a horror movie. Every hope they had seemed to evaporate, the chief tormentors being Zinedine Zidane and Inzaghi. The first goal came after six minutes meaning Manchester United had to score to atleast have any hopes of going to the final via penalty shootout.
Inzaghi scored the second goal four minutes later again from Zidane assist.
By now Manchester United hopes seemed dead and buried in the first ten minutes.
There are players who will never give up even if everything seems to be lost they will always have hope. Roy Keane , the captain had now to galvanize his troops or Manchester United be humbled.
What a way to do it but lead from the from. While the fans thought everything was lost the captain of the team still believed in his troops.
On twenty four minutes Roy Keane scored to half the deficit meaning Manchester United required only one goal to head to Camp Nou and it duly arrived from Dwight Yorke on thirty three minutes.
Andy Cole 
As Juventus searched for a winning goal in the second half they left gaps in defence which were later exploited by the best striking trio in Europe that time, Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.
Yorke was clean on goal five minutes to the end but he was fouled, the referee played advantage since the ball rolled to Andy Cole. Cole scored and Manchester United were on their way to Barcelona.
Sadly Roy Keane picked up a booking which meant he would miss the final.