Archive for the ‘Manchester United’ Category
As former Manchester United and England legend Bryan Robson told me in a recent interview: “Manager’s are judged on the signings they make, not just on results.”
Later the same day while filming a TV interview with Ron Atkinson – the most successful manager to occupy the Old Trafford hot seat in the era between the formidable reigns of Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson – I could not help wondering ‘What might have been for Big Ron if he’d been allowed a little more time?’
Atkinson, of course, was the man who took Captain Marvel to the Theatre of Dreams. One of United’s best ever signings. He also delivered two FA Cup triumphs and never finished outside the Top 4, recruiting the likes of Frank Stapleton and Remi Moses and giving Norman Whiteside his debut before his 17th birthday.
Big Ron also took United into the UEFA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup, where the Reds narrowly lost out in 1984’s semi-final against Juventus. That European campaign included a 3-2 aggregate win in the quarter-finals against a Barcelona side featuring Diego Maradona.
The 3-0 second-leg triumph against Barça overturned the Catalans’ 2-0 win at Camp Nou and still ranks as arguably the greatest night ever at Old Trafford. Robson scored twice before Stapleton clinched an unforgettable victory. As Atkinson proudly recalls: “Even to this day, bearing in mind some of the things United have done since, people still say the atmosphere that night transcended anything they can remember. It was unbelievable.”
More than 30 years later, the memories are part of United folklore and the relevance of a subtle Bryan Robson tribute to Big Ron is worth taking note of when judging today’s top flight managers.
Louis Van Gaal is the new king of the mind games. That’s my verdict on another remarkable twist at this fascinating World Cup.
Holland’s elimination of brave Costa Rica in a Krul penalty shoot out will go down in football folklore as a dose of Dutch courage.
With the final place in the final four at stake this was the match to decide who plays Argentina in the semi final.
And underdogs Costa ignored all the odds with another incredible performance that denied the Dutch . . . Wesley Sneijder twice hit the woodwork and goalkeeper Kelvor Navas had the game of his life.
There was even a crucial save from Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen to keep out Udena in a pulsating final few minutes of extra time.
Then came the real drama when van Gaal sent on substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul right at the end – purely for the penalty shoot out.
The Costa Ricans remember had scored 5 out 5 penalties to beat Greece in a shoot out in the previous round.
But this was a master stroke by the Dutch manager that clearly unsettled the opposition – and Krul joined in the mindgames by telling each penalty taker he knew where they would be aiming . . .
It worked as Krul made two saves and guessed right with all 5 penalties.
This has already been an unbelievable World Cup – but we’ve never seen anything like this before.
And Manchester United fans have joined the Dutch celebrations as they relish the prospects when Van Gaal takes over the Old Trafford hot seat in a few days time.
Argentine overcame the challenge of Belgium in the night’s other quarter-final.
Higuain scored the only goal when he struck early. And for once the South Americans did not rely on their no.1 Messi to get them over the line.
That means both semi finals will be Europe against South America.
Argentina against Brazil was the final the bookmakers predicted
– but can Germany or the Dutch make history and become the first European side to win the tournament in South America.
The Dutch certainly believe if anyone can mastermind that Van Gaal can.
The future is orange! With Klopp again rejecting United, Van Gaal will be new supremo at Old Trafford and Giggs the apprentice!
There will be a genuine buzz of excitement at the Theatre of Dreams on Saturday when Ryan Giggs starts what I confidently predict will be another glittering chapter in his remarkable career at Manchester United.
It will be his first match as player manager and this is not good timing for visitors Norwich City who are in for a torrid afternoon because I have absolutely no doubt that the United stars who drastically underachieved under David Moyes will be bursting to prove themselves.
Following the inevitable sacking of Moyes four matches before the end of the club’s worst ever season in the Premier League, Giggs is a hugely popular choice to take charge – albeit in a caretaker role at this stage.
Twenty-four years ago Giggs was handed his first professional contract as a player in the week of his 17th birthday. The Welsh wizard has won every honour in the game and embodies everything the club stands for.
Along with the rest of the superstars born in that famous Class of 92, Giggsy has been mentored throughout by Sir Alex Ferguson, a pivotal father figure who gave all his proteges that burning desire to be the best and overcome all odds.
It is exactly those qualities and his proud Old Trafford pedigree that will make him a successful coach and a key figure in the upcoming era that looks destined to unfold under the new emperor Louis van Gaal.
There are those who believe Giggs already has the charisma and ability to grow into the role of United manager and success on his watch in the season’s four remaining matches against Norwich, Sunderland, Hull and Southampton would strengthen that argument.
But my belief is that future for the Reds is orange!
My sources tell me that Jurgen Klopp was offered the opportunity to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as manager but turned the job down before it was offered to Moyes. Klopp in my view would be a perfect fit for United and now the opportunity is here again, if he could be persuaded to leave his beloved Borussia Dortmund, he would be a manager the fans adore.
His swashbuckling style and engaging persona, along with his proven track record at the highest level make him a dynamic manager who would be an irresistible force at Manchester’s top table. But his heart currently belongs in Dortmund and his statements today appear to rule him out of the reckoning.
“Man Utd is a great club and I feel very familiar with their wonderful fans,” Klopp was quoted as saying in the Guardian. ‘But my commitment to Borussia Dortmund and the people is not breakable.”
That leaves Van Gaal. who turns 63 in August, as the front runner. And clearly the prospect of the Dutchman taking charge after this summer’s World Cup in Brazil when his stewardship of the Netherlands team expires makes him perfectly placed to step in.
The fact that he has already made it known that he is “very keen” on the job at Old Trafford suggests he is confident of being given the nod, even if he has not officially had it already. And that is good news for Giggs because Van Gaal is a manager who always insists on having someone with the DNA of the club within his inner circle.
Like any top manager, Van Gaal will bring members of his preferred management team with him. But expect a role for Giggs. Just how prominent that will be will largely depend on how well he performs in his four matches as caretaker. A good showing will put United’s most decorated player in the rrame for being the new manager’s apprentice and eventual successor.
While United trumpeted Moyes’ appointment as being consistent with the club’s philosophy of long-term planning, turning to a manager in his sixties is not necessarily a short-term fix. Fergie of course remained in charge into his seventies and still has an importance voice in the boardroom. Giggs learning the ropes as a coach under a new manager with a long track record of success who may well take on the role of director of football could be a winning combination designed for longevity.
There will be many arguments put forward over the coming weeks for other candidates including Jose Mourinho and Roberto Martinez, both of whom would do outstanding jobs at Old Trafford. But life is all about timing. And much that I admire both Mourinho and Martinez, everything points to Van Gaal who can add the fact that he has rejuvenated the international career of United’s injured marksman Robin van Persie to his outstanding CV.
My only reservation about Van Gaal is that his management style and abrasive nature will not make him popular across the board. But that did not hold back Ferguson. And at this stage of proceedings Manchester United need a strong manager who will put the club back on their perch at the top of the English game. Not just winning trophies but playing football to be proud of.
Mourinho could have been that man if he had not returned to Stamford Bridge and declared his undying love for Chelsea. While Martinez, who previously turned down Liverpool because in my estimation he wanted the bigger job at United, has now committed himself to Everton. So my conclusion is that unless Klopp has a change of heart, Van Gaal is the man and Giggs will be his apprentice.
Why experts thought David Moyes was the right manager for Manchester United – but Ryan Giggs is favourite to take his job
When David Moyes was appointed manager of Manchester United in May last year it was always a question of how long would he be given to find a winning formula.
The verdict that Moyes was the right man for the job was unanimous when I interviewed a panel of experts including England manager Roy Hodgson on the day the identity of the manager to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at the Theatre of Dreams was confirmed.
But less than 12 months later the bookmakers have stopped taking bets on David Moyes being sacked, after a nightmare first season in charge, and installed Ryan Giggs as the 5-1 favourite to replace him.
Here is what the experts, desperate to see a British manager succeed in the biggest job in club football, said about Moyes on the day he was appointed:
ROY HODGSON: “I think if someone has got to step into these enormous shoes that Sir Alex has left behind and to work in the shadow of such a great man David is right the man to do it.”
ALAN CURBISHLEY: “I’m sure he’s gong to be a great success and I’m so pleased he has been given a chance.”
TONY GALE” “For me David Moyes is a good manager and will be for Manchester United.”
PATRICK BARCLAY” “If you look at the players he has bought in the transfer market his record is right up their with Sir Alex Ferguson.”
ALVIN MARTIN: ” There is never a guarantee in football. You can be the best manager in the world but if you take over at the wrong time there is always a risk when a new manager is appointed. But I would feel pretty sure that David Moyes is more than well equipped to deal with it.”
Like the experts I interviewed last May, I expected Moyes to grow into the job he was chosen to do by the greatest British manager of all time Sir Alex Ferguson. But the decline under the former Everton boss has been so spectacular that it is now no surprise that the consequences of failure appear to have proved fatal to aspirations of the proud Glaswegian being given extra time in the Old Trafford hot seat.
When former player David May said what so many fans and experts were thinking after another embarrassing 2-0 defeat against Everton at Goodison on Easter Sunday and admitted on MUTV that the new manager appears to be ‘out of his depth’, he was immediately suspended from his role as a pundit on the club’s television channel. But the backlash among fans on social media outraged by May being punished for giving his honest opinion has only fanned the flames of discontent.
The harsh reality, as I predicted in this column a month ago, is that Moyes’ future was destined to be decided when the owners ask themselves how much they are prepared to gamble on Fergie’s successor getting it right.
The smart money is now on Moyes departing sooner rather than later with Giggs being installed as temporary manager while the board consider their options.
Giggs would be a hugely popular choice to take charge – albeit in a caretaker role – 24 years after being handed his first professional contract as player on his 17th birthday. There is no one who embodies everything the club stands for better than the Welsh wizard who exclusively told visionsport TV what he thought about Manchester United in his first television interview back in 1993.
David Moyes & Manchester United | What the experts predicted [VIDEO]:
Why Wayne Rooney is priceless to Manchester United and his diamond studded boots will net one lucky fan a fortune
Wherever you stand in the debate about whether or not WAYNE ROONEY is worth £300,000 a week, the honest truth is that Manchester United could not afford to let their talisman leave Old Trafford.
With the club in transition under new manager David Moyes and facing the real possibility of no Champions League football next season, keeping Rooney on board was a big statement that United still mean business.
In pure financial terms, the £85M cost of keeping Wazza until 2019 was a shrewd investment because the cost of replacing him would have been higher when you factor in both the transfer fee and wages.
When it comes to attracting new stars in the summer the message sent out by keeping Rooney and investing in record signing Juan Mata is a positive one that other top players will appreciate.
In my view Rooney remains truly world class and you have to give Moyes huge credit for revitalising a hugely influential player who had lost his way under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Bought for 18K, worth 150K
The England marksman looks destined to become the United skipper and in the summer he will be hoping to make a big impact at the World Cup in Brazil.
He is a marketing man’s dream and the reality is that whatever Rooney touches turns to gold. One lucky fan is set to net a small fortune by selling a pair of his old boots.
Snapped up for 18,000 pounds at a charity auction five years ago, they are now worth 10 TIMES what a sharp-eyed Manchester United fan paid for them.
The Nike boots were worn by Rooney in a Champions League match. But the reason they are so valuable is that artist Luisa Di Marco turned them into a collector’s item by encrusting them with gold and precious diamonds.
The stones that make the boots unique were set by Embee jewellers of London using 31 carats of black diamonds, 10 carats of white diamonds and the number 10 is made from rose gold. The laces are dipped in gold and finished with diamonds on the ends. And both boots are signed by Rooney.
If the boots are not sold in the next six weeks the owner plans to put them up for auction at a sporting dinner on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix on May 24. Meantime. check out my video report below filmed at the fabulous Boulters Terrace Bar http://boultersrestaurant.co.uk
With alarm bells ringing for the Premier League, it is not just Manchester United affected by champions’ slump under Moyes
RIVALS CHELSEA, Manchester City and Liverpool may be enjoying the first season of the Premier League without Sir Alex Ferguson dictating the agenda at Old Trafford, but the honest truth is that David Moyes’ failure to keep the red flag flying high is not simply hurting Manchester United – it is damaging the world’s richest league.
This season’s unprecedented decline of Manchester United has already affected the Premier League’s global brand to such an extent that chief executive Richard Scudamore has warned fans around the world will switch off if Moyes fails to stop the rot. Make no mistake this is no exaggeration and it is the financial implications that will ultimately focus the attention of United’s owners the Glazers when they decide what direction to take in the summer.
While fans of other clubs may be enjoying the champions’ meek surrender of the Premier League title, the alarm bells are ringing loud and clear for the League’s administrators who fear the financial consequences if United’s slump continues. And that puts the spotlight on the Glazers, who – whatever the fate of Moyes – must soon decide whether to invest many millions on a huge rebuilding programme. The alternative will be to check out and sell the club to someone with deeper pockets or risk damaging the value of their asset.
The cost of United’s worst ever season in the Premier League is already being counted. Speaking in South Africa on a promotional tour, Scudamore conceded that the global popularity of the Premier League will wane if United continue to toil. “It’s a double-edged sword. When your most popular club isn’t doing as well, that costs you interest and audience in some places,” declared Scudamore. “There’s lots of fans around the world who wish Manchester United were winning it again, but you have to balance that off against, generally, we’re in the business of putting on a competition and competition means people can compete.”
The English champions are currently seventh in the table, 18 points adrift of leaders Chelsea and facing the prospect of no European involvement next season, unless Moyes can rally his troops to knock out the holders Bayern Munich in the quarter finals of the Champions League and then go on to win the competition.
On current form there is more chance of Ferguson coming out of retirement to take over as England manager at this summer’s World Cup. Nothing short of such a miraculous turnaround by a United team embarrassed by biggest rivals Liverpool and Manchester City in the past fortnight, will persuade the doubters that Moyes was right to be appointed the Chosen One.
Meantime, Moyes faces the first public show of discontent by fans at Old Trafford on Saturday with a group of fans planning to fly a plane over the stadium during United’s match with Aston Villa trailing a banner: ‘Wrong One – Moyes Out’. Such is the groundswell of anger and disappointment circulating the Theatre of Dreams that even Sir Alex Ferguson will not be exempt from criticism if United take too long to re-discover a winning formula.
And it is not just about winning, as Sam Allardyce is discovering at West Ham, where fans booed the Hammers after they beat Hull City because they are tired of the boring style of play being served up at Upton Park. The Academy of Football was built on playing the beautiful game the right way – and the same rules apply at Manchester United. where fans will not tolerate mediocre football whatever the results.
Moyes is without doubt a talented football manager. He proved that at Everton and impressed the greatest British football manager of all time when he was anointed by Sir Alex as his successor. The immediate problem he now faces is time. How much time will he be given to re-build and find a winning formula? But there is another factor that may ultimately prove even more decisive – and that is money. When it comes to the crunch how much are the owners prepared to gamble on Moyes getting it right.
Do they stick with blind faith in Moyes and back him to the hilt? Do they start again with another candidate, or do they cut their losses now and sell out to the highest bidder? How well United fare in the upcoming Champions League showdown with Bayern will inevitably have a big influence on how the club’s owners view both the question of time and money for their current manager.
As a fan old enough to remember the chaos that followed when Sir Matt Busby retired, I know that if United get it wrong we could be waiting another 26 years to get back to the top of the English game. And that is a doomsday scenario that would change the football world as we know it. You only have to look at how long it has been since Liverpool last won a League title to see that reputation counts for nothing when you want to be the best.
Personally I have backed Moyes from the start and would still love to see him deliver. But there has to be some positive sign that he has the strength of character to learn quickly from his mistakes. So far United’s resolve to stick with their man has been tested well beyond anyone’s expectations and yet the support he has received is impossible to imagine at any other top club in the Premier League.
Is it really Mission impossible?
With the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern looming many are predicting humiliation at the hands of the European champions. But wouldn’t you just love it if Moyes can mastermind Mission Impossible and defy the odds. All logic suggests it won’t happen and if it ends badly, as even the bookmakers suggest, the media and the accountants will turn up the heat on United’s manager. And yet . . . being the eternal optimist I can’t help thinking that football has a habit of turning up a surprise result when you least expect it!
Wenger reaping rewards for putting faith in Aaron Ramsey when Welsh youngster looked destined for Manchester United
You can say what you like about the durability of an Arsenal side searching for their first silverware in nine seasons. But the Gunners boast one of the standout players of the season so far in Aaron Ramsey . . . and the most successful Premier League manager in Arsene Wenger.
Ramsey, whose career was threatened by an horrific double leg break in February 2010 inflicted by a tackle from Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross, is making the kind of impact that will soon see him being compared to fellow Welshman Gareth Bale if his progress continues.
And you have to credit Wenger for putting his faith in the prodigiously talented youngster, who once looked destined for Old Trafford.
Much has been said and written about the professor stealing a march on his rivals when he pulled off the standout signing of the summer with the spectacular £42.5 million capture of German superstar Mesut Özil.
But just as crucial for the Gunners was the business Wenger did five years ago when he persuaded the Cardiff City youngster to opt for a move to North London rather than the North West.
The Bluebirds’ youngest ever player at just 16 years and 124 days when he made his debut in 2007, Ramsey soon became one of the most sought after youngsters in Europe, attracting interest from Everton and Manchester United.
While United reportedly offered £5 million for him to be loaned back to Cardiff, it was the Gunners who secured Ramsey’s signature when Wenger matched that bid and promised to put him straight into his first team squad.
That crossroads in his career will give an extra edge to the showdown between defending champions Manchester United and this season’s pacesetters Arsenal on November 10. But whatever the outcome, there is no doubt that Ramsey is a player with the world at his feet.
FACT FILE: AARON RAMSEY
:- Born 26 December 1990, he joined the Youth Academy at Cardiff City when he was eight years old.
:- He made his debut for the Bluebirds on the final day of the 2006/2007 season, when he came on as a substitute in a the final minute of a 1-0 defeat by Hull City. He was still 241 days short of his 17th birthday.
:- Signed for Arsenal in the summer of 2008 for £5 million.
:- Made his competitive debut for Arsenal in a Champions League qualifier against FC Twente on 13 August 2008
:- Given his first run out in the Premier League a month later against Blackburn Rovers.
:- His first goal for the Gunners came in a 5-2 Champions League win at Fenerbahce on 22 October 2008, making him the fifth youngest scorer in Champions League history.
TITLE RACE: ROONEY v RAMSEY
While Aaron Ramsey has been the player whose outstanding early form has been arguably the biggest surprise of the season so far, even more spectacular has been the way Wayne Rooney has shrugged off doubts about his future at Old Trafford.
Rooney has a great record against the Gunners, a side he has enjoyed superb form against, ever since he burst onto the scene with that famous strike as a 16-year-old for Everton to become the youngest goalscorer in the Premier League. Not surprising that Wenger and Jose Mourinho both wanted to sign him in the summer. What top manager wouldn’t want to sign him?
Ramsey, meanwhile, also has form against United. In 2010/2011, he scored the winner at the Emirates. It came at the end of the season that celebrated his return from his career threatening injury, after signing a long-term contract with Arsenal.
There will be many other potential matchwinners on show next Sunday, with Robin van Persie and Olivier Giroud both hitting the target on a regular basis. But Rooney v Ramsey at Old Trafford will be a fascinating showdown between two players at the top of their game.
HOW WAYNE IS STAKING HIS CLAIM TO BE UNITED’S NEXT LONG-TERM SKIPPER
Manchester United’s new manager David Moyes deserves enormous credit for standing by his former Everton protegee and helping the England striker rediscover his best form. Wayne Rooney looks lean, mean and determined to prove the critics wrong who have been too quick to write him off.
In fact it will be no surprise to see Moyes hand Rooney the captain’s armband, further underlining the new boss’s pre-season insistence that there is no way Wazza will be leaving United any time soon.
With the countdown under way to next summer’s World Cup in Brazil, Rooney has looked in menacing form and is hopefully destined to make an injury-free impact on a major international tournament for the first time. Meantime, he has been United’s most consistent performer and the main reason why the defending champions are still in touch with race for the Premier League title.
Rooney has shown his leadership qualities by lifting his team mates during a difficult start to the season and with Patrice Evra and other senior players nearing the end of their United careers, the case for making him skipper is stronger than ever.
Given the captain’s armband on several occasions by Sir Alex Ferguson,Rooney has already had the honour of being captain for Moyes in the Capital One Cup win over Liverpool.
Meantime, his leadership skills will be needed against form team Arsenal, even if he is not the player who leads United out against the table-toppers.
Manchester United have youth on their side and rejuvenated Wayne Rooney will help David Moyes prove critics wrong!
There has been no shortage of ‘experts’ in the media – not to mention rival fans envious of the Theatre of Dreams – who have spent much of the past two decades predicting the decline of Manchester United. The sudden retirement of the greatest manager in the history of British football and the subsequent appointment of David Moyes as Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor gave the prophets of doom new hope.
With the new manager overseeing the Red Devils’ worst start to a League season since the Premiership was born in 1992, the vultures eagerly licked their lips. This United team is “too old”, Moyes “is out of his depth” and talisman “Wayne Rooney wants to leave Old Trafford” were all the media fuelled chit chat that was the talk of pubs and clubs around Britain and Radio Phone-Ins that feed off the soap opera that surround the beautiful game.
The chatter so convincing for some observers that the majority of non-Manchester United fans – and even a large percentage of the glory hunters who have never even been to Old Trafford – were starting to talk about the decline of the Empire as if it was a fait accompli.
But the delicious reality for United’s faithful worldwide army of followers is that the doom-mongers have once again got it all hopelessly wrong.
The honest truth is that Moyes has skilfully overcome a difficult start to what most people have taken for granted is the impossible job of following in the footseps of Sir Alex.
From the start Moyes has told anyone who would listen that Rooney was staying at Old Trafford and was looking fitter and in better shape than he done for years. With seven goals already for club and country this season Wazza is back to form approaching his best and in the countdown to next summer’s World Cup in Brazil he looks like a player rejuvenated and hungry for a new era of success.
As Ferguson’s “Chosen One” only a fool would write off the former Everton manager after six League matches. While the Reds may currently lie six points behind early pace-setters Arsenal, the gap behind neighbours Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur is just one win and pre-season favourites Chelsea are only four points ahead of Moyes men. There is still a long way to go and the sensational full debut of 18-year old Adnan Januzaj with a matchwinning double at Sunderland before the international break illustrates the real strength in depth of a squad that has been built for longevity.
Yes of course there are a number of experienced, older heads at the club in Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick and the unbelievable Ryan Giggs who hits 40 next month. But the truth is that United have an outstanding nucleus of young stars.
There have been youth players making the grade at Old Trafford in every season since the Busby Babes made United great. And the current blend of home grown talent and imported youngsters is no exception.
To suggest that United are a team in decline because the players are too old is the biggest misrepresentation of the truth by that unrelenting gang of media hatchet men, self-interested critics and so-called experts.
Moyes could easily send out a formidable United team where the veteran of the team is Wayne Rooney at the ripe old age of 27 and the average age is just 23. And I am not talking about fringe players, for example;
David de Gea – 22
Rafael da Silva – 23
Phil Jones – 21
Jonny Evans – 25
Chris Smalling – 23
Adnan Januzaj – 18
Tom Cleverley – 24
Luis Nani – 26
Danny Welbeck – 22
Javier Hernandez – 25
Wayne Rooney – 27
The following subs have an average age of 22:
Ben Amos – 23
Marouane Fallaini – 25
Wilfried Zaha – 20
Nick Powell – 19 (on loan at Wigan)
Jesse Lingard – 20 (on loan at Birmingham)
Michael Keane – 20
Will Keane – 20
Anderson – 25
Shinji Kagawa – 24
Fabio da Silva – 22
Robin van Persie – 30
Michael Carrick – 32
Ryan Giggs – 39
Antonio Valencia – 28
Ashley Young – 28
Patrice Evra – 32
Rio Ferdinand – 34
Nemanja Vidic – 32
Spending millions in transfer market not only way: Belgian wonderkid Adnan Januzaj destined to become global superstar
When we look back in years to come David Moyes’ first ever win at Old Trafford will be remembered for launching teenage sensation Adnan Januzaj on the road to superstardom.
The record books will show that Robin van Persie scored from the penalty spot to convert a debatable penalty and Wayne Rooney, his injured forehead protected by a padded scrumcap, completed a 2-0 win with a superb free-kick on the day £27 million signing Marouane Fellaini made his debut as a second half substitute.
But it was United’s other Belgian, wonderkid Januzaj who got the pulses racing when he came off the bench and made the kind of impact not seen at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo created similar excitement at the start of his United career.
Just 18 years old and one of the jewels in the legacy left by Sir Alex Ferguson, Januzaj displayed the full repertoire of his dazzling skills, quick feet and tireless running that have already made him a crowd favourite at Old Trafford.
Legendary United talent spotter Eric Harrison, one of the architects of United’s famous class of 1992 that launched the careers of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers, has already gone on record to predict Januzay could be the next Ronaldo.
Harrison told the Manchester Evening News: ‘Januzaj is outstanding and I think he is similar to Cristiano Ronaldo. He can beat people and with Wilfried Zaha, I think there is some outstanding quality there.’
Comparisons with the Portuguese superstar have been evoked by an outstanding pre-season that included a sparkling display in the Rio Ferdinand testimonial. And today’s showing against Palace in front of a global television audience has created a real buzz.
Things in common with Ronaldo don’t end on the pitch. The pair also share the same birthday – February 5 – with Barcelona’s Neymar also born on that day. Another remarkable stat is that Januzaj’s Premier League debut comes 50 years to the date since George Best made his first appearance at Old Trafford on 14 September 1963 against West Brom.
There have been may young stars to grace the Theatre of Dreams and not every hot prospect lives up to all the hype and potential. But Januzaj looks like the real deal and the reality is that new Manchester United boss – unfairly targeted by the prophets of doom in the media who would love him to fail – is a man with an embarrassment of riches.
Wilfried Zaha is another kid capable of becoming a world star alongside established youngsters like Rafael and Phil Jones. With the return of a re-invigorated Nani also on the cards, Rooney looking like a man on a mission in the countdown to the end of season World Cup and van Persie maturing into one of the best players on the planet the future looks as bright as ever at Manchester United.
And just for the record, I am also predicting that mop haired Fellaini is going to be the huge success that Moyes wants him to be. United have never found a player to fill the boots of Roy Keane and the new boy from Everton is a different animal. But once again the Red Devils boast a midfield general with a touch of steel who will frighten the life out of opponents – and he has bags of goals in his locker.
Sorry to disappoint prophets of doom circling Theatre of Dreams: Empire will get stronger under ‘Chosen One’ David Moyes
Ever since Sir Alex Ferguson caught the world of football by surprise with his retirement, the clamour to predict the decline of the empire he has built over the past 26 years at Manchester United has been deafening.
The appointment of David Moyes as Fergie’s successor as manager at Old Trafford has been greeted by so many so called experts announcing a shift of power in the English game that there has been public perception that this is inevitable.
The Champions of England were relegated to third favourites to retain their title behind Chelsea, buoyed by the return of Jose Mourinho, and Manchester City, who have brought in Manuel Pellegrini to replace ‘failure’ Roberto Mancini.
The media have revelled in the uncertainty they have gleefully magnified about the future of Wayne Rooney, who remains a Manchester United player and is almost certainly going to remain so for the next year at least – unless there is an almighty last minute merry-go-round before the transfer deadline just 12 days away.
But the reality is this: David Moyes is an outstanding football manager who has the ability and the opportunity not just to keep the red flag flying high above United’s Premier League rivals, but to build on the foundations laid down by his mentor.
As the sorcerer’s apprentice, Moyes can take pride and confidence from the knowledge that he has more right to be called ‘The Special One’ than self-publicist Jose Mourinho because the Glaswegian is ‘The Chosen One’.
Watching and listening to Moyes in action is almost surreal because he is so closely modelled on the man he has replaced in the hotseat.
Once he gets a few more wins under his belt to build on the success of winning the Community Shield against Wigan and crushing Swansea on the opening day at the Liberty Stadium, the doubters will start to believe that this is the beginning and not the end of another glorious chapter in the history of Manchester United.
The next fortnight will tell us a great deal about the destiny of this season’s Premier League because by then we will know who the top clubs have recruited or lost and we will have seen Manchester United play hosts to Chelsea as well as travel to Merseyside to take on rivals Liverpool
Moyes’ opening five matches in the defence of United’s Premier League title also includes a trip to the Etihad to tackle neighbours City. A tougher start it would be hard to imagine. But rather than being a negative this can be a huge boost for the new boss because a show of strength now will silence the doubters and give him the support he needs to build on Fergie’s success.
There is no comparison with what happened 40 years ago when Sir Matt Busy handed the reigns to a young and inexperienced Wilf McGuinness. In those days United had an ageing team in desperate need of rebuilding, despite the presence of Best, Law and Charlton – all in the twlight of their careers.
The modern day United is a club that dwarfs the past because there is a structure in place that has been built on solid foundations, with excellence in every department not least the playing side where talisman Robin van Persie is a majestic footballer at the height of his career and improving with age.
There is an exciting blend of youth and experience with those added ingredients of confidence, self-belief, talent and above all else an unquenchable never-say-die will to win.
There are those who will doubt Moyes’ ability to deliver until he has put trophies in the cabinet. And there are many who will enjoy stoking up the pressure the longer that takes.
But I know that Moyes will succeed because Sir Alex was never going to let anyone fills his shoes who was not going to be the right man for the job. And in surrounding himself with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Phil Neville, as well as his established backroom team from Everton, there is a great sense of stability and continuity. Not to mention that Moyes will always have the support and advice of his predecessor whenever he needs it.
My prediction is that Moyes will not need the time that Ferguson was given in his early days at the club and the conveyor belt of trophies is going to keep rolling into Old Trafford. In fact I expect the new kid on the block is destined to make Manchester United bigger and stronger because he is starting from an unprecedented position of strength for a new manager.
All truly great football managers come from Glasgow and it will not be long before Moyes is seen in a different light by the fans and the media who were calling for what they believed would be a more glamorous big name appointment.