Is this a vintage Manchester United team?

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I keep on hearing that the Manchester United team that won their 19th title earlier today isn’t a vintage team, that we only have to look back a couple of years to the team that included Ronaldo and Tevez to see a better side.

I’m not convinved that this is the case. The 2009 team was obviously a successful side, but was it better than the current one?

I think it is fair to say that it had better individual talent in it with Ronaldo and bigger names with Carlos Tevez, but that could have overshadowed it’s weaknesses.

I believe the current side is actually a better team, the team now wins games rather than an outstanding contribution from one individual doing the business. In other words, Ronaldo papered over the cracks of the 2009 vintage.

When Ferdinand and Vidic play I believe the defence is stronger than 2 years ago, they have youngsters like Rafael coming through as well. In midfield they have Park and Valencia adding workrate and guile to the side, they now have Giggs pulling the strings in the centre. Up front they have Rooney, the leagues top scorer in Berbatov and the little genius, Javier Hernandez.

With the obvious exception of Paul Scholes, I believe that nearly all the rest of the 1st team players from 2009 are now better footballers than they were 2 years ago. Even Anderson.

The only teams I see in Eurpoe that are better than Manchester United are obviously Barcelona and maybe Real Madrid, would Ferguson’s team fear anybody else?

Are any Italian sides better? I don’t think so. German or French teams? Again, I don’t see it.

They are without a doubt in the top 3 sides in Europe for me, and one of those 3 sides is talked about as being possibly the best club side ever. So if this is a poor United side, it is a hell of a good, poor side.

And congratulations to United, they were my tip to win the league at the start of the season and fully deserve their 19th title.

Surprise, Surprise, Red Knights pull out!

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So the inevitable has happened and the Red Knights consortium has dropped it’s plan to make a bid for Manchester United with yet more borrowed money.

According to reports the Glazer family recently turned down a £1.5 Billion bid from a middle east consortium. One thing that is clear is that the current owners value the club in the region of at least the quoted price, and as the Red Knights said they would only pay a reasonable price, that rules them out.

Seriously though, what did the fans think the RK’s could achieve? For a start they would have had to borrow the cash to buy the club, no different to the Glazers.

Second, they are businessmen first and foremost, so if they had managed to gain control any future decisions about the club would have been purely financial ones.

And they would have had a far larger debt to service than the current owners. So form your own conclusions to how that would have turned out.

I’m no fan of the Glazer family myself, and don’t approve of the way they earn a large wage out of the club. But what are the alternatives?

You can go on protesting all you like with your green and gold, but the reality is that unless a rich businessman (and he went next door) comes along with a few billion he wants to spend or waste, nothing is going to change for the foreseeable.

Magnificent Spurs

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Another magnificent performance from Spurs has put them in pole position for the 4th champions league spot and has reopened the championship title race.

Their 2-1 win over Chelsea, coupled with Man City’s 1-0 defeat to Man Utd has seen Spurs go 4th with a 2 point gap to nearest rivals, Man City.

It also puts Man Utd just a point behind Chelsea and in with a chance of putting pressure on their title rivals, Alex Ferguson owes his old mate Harry Redknapp a drink or two for this one.

On these showings, if Spurs get 4th place, you’d have to say that they have well and truely earned it. After last weekend’s results when Man City thrashed Birmingham 5-1, Spurs were 4 points behind City (with a game in hand) with fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea looming, their prospects didn’t look good.

Spurs have now proved to everyone that they are capable of mixing it with the big teams, and Saturday’s results has nicely set up the Man City V Spurs game from Eastlands on 5th May as potentially the decider for 4th place.

Chelsea are still favourites for the title at a best price of 8/11 with Sky Bet. Manchester United can be backed at 11/8 with Sky Bet, William Hill, Totesport and Bet365.

Spurs are now 8/11 for 4th with William Hill, Man City are 6/5 with the same firm.

Fergie Fuming, and I don’t blame him

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I’m quick enough to condemn managers, and especially Alex Ferguson, for what I believe to be harsh criticism of referees and their assistants (or linesman, as I would call them), when they are looking for a scapegoat for a bad performance or for picking the wrong team, etc.

On this occasion I am totally with Fergie. I watched the game and I can’t see any reason whatsoever why the assistant referee missed the clear off-side for Drogba’s winning goal.

Sometimes a run is that well timed it catches the assistant out as well as the defence, or the decision is influenced by the colour of the first shirt the assistant sees, in short, sometimes you can understand why a mistake has been made.

Not this time, I can’t see any reason for this, it is just purely and simply an incompetent decision. And it could have decided the league title.

With regard to the incident of Martin Olsson’s dive last Sunday, and the subsequent comments in the week after, it was no surprise to see referee Mike Dean turn down a couple of strong penalty claims today, from both sides.

When I heard about Olsson’s comments and that Dean was doing the Man Utd V Chelsea game, I had a feeling it would have to be a stone wall penalty for Dean to give one today, and so it seemed.

With Alex Ferguson still on a two match suspended sentence over the Alan Wiley insults earlier in the season, I wonder if the FA will let Fergie’s remarks go this time.

Chelsea the big losers

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As a result of Sunday’s 1-1 draw away at Blackburn, Chelsea now find themselves 3rd favourites in the Premier League Betting at a best price of 11/4. Manchester United are Even money favourites, followed by Arsenal who are 5/2.

Chelsea’s plight is still in their own hands, but only just. When they win their game in hand (away at Portsmouth on Wedensday) they will be 1 point behing United on the same amount of games played (Man Utd currently have played 31), they then visit Old Trafford on 3rd April, Arsenal are home to Wolves that day and will be looking to capitalize on their two rivals clashing.

For a side looking to win the league Chelsea didn’t really convince me against Blackburn today, I thought at times they lacked urgency and also didn’t ever look like scoring after Rovers equalised in the 70th minute. They huffed and puffed a lot, but never created a clear cut chance.

If I were a Chelsea fan, which I’m not, I wouldn’t be too convinced after that showing.

Manchester United looked more the part against Liverpool, and with Arsenal looking more solid at last, you would have to think it is more between these two at the moment.

United have the know how to finish the job from here, this is the time of the season when they have historically put their foot down and pulled away.

I can’t see them pulling away this season though, as it looks like going down to the wire. The big concern for them though, is an injury to Rooney as they don’t have the squad cover they had this time last year.

Arsenal have impressed me a lot lately, they have a more steely look to them. They are picking up the neccesary points without looking at their best, thats the impressive part, that they are finally grinding out results.

On paper Arsenal’s last four results look routine. But if you look at them more closely they struggled to finish off West Ham and Burnley at home, needing late goals in both games to finally finish the matches off.

They were awful at Hull, playing against 10 men for the whole of the 2nd half, they needed an injury time winner from Bendtner to complete a lucky 2-1 win.

The result which might have gave them the most belief must have been the 3-1 win over Stoke, again with two 90 mins plus goals. With the injury to Aaron Ramsey occcuring in this game, Arsenal really had to dig deep to finish it off, and I believe if they go on to win the title they will look back at this game and say that is where we turned it in our favour.

Premier League Winner Betting

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Manchester United went back top of the league with an easy 4-0 win over Hull City. United have been slightly cut in the online betting, and are now a best price of 11/4. Chelsea are still 5/6 favourites with most online bookmakers.

Remarkably I haven’t heard Alex Ferguson moaning about anything yet. Oh yeah I forgot, they won.

The main problem I would have with backing United though, is their over dependence on Wayne Rooney. If he where to get injured its hard to see where the majority of United’s goals would come from.

Up front Dimitar Berbatov has looked far from convincing, while Michael Owen has had limited chances, but when given one has failed to take it.

Paul Scholes looks on his last legs and hasn’t chipped in with his usual quota of midfield goals, leaving Carrick, Fletcher and Anderson to try and fill the void. Which they can’t do.

Ryan Giggs no longer plays out wide leaving Nani, Park and Valencia to provide the width, it’s hard to see where any creativity is going to come from with these three.

Leaving just Rooney, who it has to be said has excelled in the absence of Ronaldo and Tevez. Who knows how good he might have been by now had Ferguson not continually played him out wide in negative rolls during his early years at the club, wasting his talent and setting his development back years in my view.

Both Arsenal and Chelsea are both to play (on Wednesday) before United’s next game, meaning that Alex Ferguson’s team could be back down to third before they next kick a ball.

Adding to that United’s next game, a week on Sunday (31st Jan) is against Arsenal at Emirates Stadium, meaning the next eight days could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the league title.

Premier League Winner Football Betting

Chelsea are 5/6 with Bet365
Manchester United are 11/4 with Paddy Power
Arsenal are 10/3 with Coral (a £50 Coral Free Bet is available to new customers)
Manchester City are 33/1 with BetVictor

Using the free bets provided by online bookmakers could be a good way to place season long bets such as league title winners. Using this (Matched Betting) method ensures you don’t clog up your betting bank for months on end, leaving it free to be used for football trading.

Saturdays Premier League Betting

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Match Betting

3pm – Manchester United V Hull

Only one game today, and it gives Manchester United the chance to go back to the top of the Premier League, when they take on Hull at Old Trafford this afternoon.

No real value in United today with any of the online bookmakers, they are a best price of 1/6 with Betfred, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power,
Sky Bet and VC Bet.

The draw is 7/1 with VC Bet. And Hull are 20/1 to cause an upset with 888Sport, Blue Square, Coral and Stan James.

Correct Score Betting

A 3-0 win for United looks a good call to me and is 13/2 with VC Bet, Coral and Boylesports.

2-0 to Fergusons men is the favourite at 11/2 with Betfred, VC Bet, Coral and Boylesports. Trading the Correct Score markets could be an option here.

A Hull win could only come in the form of a 1-0 win (and a miracle), that is a best price of 45/1 with Paddy Power.

Gary Neville a ‘boot licker’ and a ‘moron’

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Just what is it with Gary Neville?

For a senior pro who should know better he dosen’t half get involved in some stupid incidents. I’m sure both the FA and Greater Manchester Police are delighted with his latest contribution in the art of trying to blow the lid off a potential tinder box.

Does Neville think sucking up to Ferguson in this manner will get him a new contract?

Not to say that Carlos Tevez isn’t playing his part in proceedings. He didn’t really need to go on Argentine radio and say what he did. Surely a dignified silence, letting his football do the talking (which it did) would have been the better option.

Instead the Police and the FA are bracing themselves for what was already a potentially explosive encounter on Wednesday night, with the intensity further cranked up due to the actions of these pair of idiots.

At least an element of common sense has emerged with Roberto Mancini telling Tevez to put an end to it, Alex Ferguson carried out his usual services to the ‘good of football on the whole’ by opting to not give a shit.

Gary Neville Idiot

Looking at the bigger picture from Neville’s point of view. Was it really that wise to wind up Tevez in this manner on the eve of a big match?

Will the fans thank him for this? I doubt it.

He was warned about his future conduct as recently as last September over the way he celebrated in the league game against City, and was also guilty of a similar incident in 2006 in front of Liverpool fans.

One thing he does have in common with his manager, is that both seem to be immune from FA punishment.

Ferguson gets away with it again!

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The news that Alex Ferguson has escaped punishment (yet again) from the FA over his critical comments about referee Mark Clattenburg’s performance in the game against Birmingham dosen’t come as any surprise.

Apparently the FA thought his comments did not cross the boundary to allege bias or impute the official’s integrity!

Well what a surprise.

Just what does the FA think his comments are meant to mean then? Do they think he was complementing Clattenburg’s performance?

This is yet another spineless response from the very people who are supposed to be upholding the integrity of the game. The fact that the man has a two-match suspended touchline ban waiting to be imposed on him dosen’t seem to bother him or be a deterant.

It completely undermines their respect campaign.

They are sending out the message that Ferguson can just continue to blame officials everytime his team fails to win (which is quite often this season), allowing him to carry on with his systemic intimidation of officials totally unopposed.

Just what he has to do to get the suspended sentence imposed on him I don’t know, never mind a fresh charge.