Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Posts Tagged ‘Manchester City’

Always look on the bright side of life

Posted by hakanrylander on October 24, 2011

I have to admit that it’s not easy to see the bright side this particular Monday morning. But after a desperate search I’ve been able to find some positives. One of which might even be important.

Bryan and Avram

1. The Glazers were present at Old Trafford. Hopefully they were as shocked as the rest of us. The result is an indication that in the long run it makes a difference if you pour lots of money into a club or take lots of money out. If this became clearer to our esteemed owners, something good might actually come out of yesterday’s defeat. It’s conceivable that they could speed up efforts to reduce debt by listing the club on the Singapore Stock Exchange, or think twice before taking another £100 million or so out of the club.

2. Mark Clattenburg had an excellent game. Referees often get less credit then they deserve, especially when your own team has been heavily beaten. Full marks to Mr Clattenburg. I couldn’t spot a single serious mistake.

3. Coleen looked colourful at Wayne’s 26th birthday bash at Wings Chinese restaurant last night. City stars Gareth Barry and Joe Hart were also attending. Wayne looked less than cheerful.

4. Chelsea lost to QPR, which reminds me of this gem.




Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

They saw that the stone was rolled away

Posted by hakanrylander on February 13, 2011

To compare Wayne Rooney’s goal against City with the resurrection of Christ is of course totally ridiculous. Still, it’s an indication of the quality of the finish and the ecstasy of moment that you even consider using such an analogy (helped by his stylish celebration).

It remains to be seen whether this really marks the return of Rooney as a world-class performer. I certainly hope so, but apart from the goal the signs yesterday were, in fact, not too encouraging. He played an important part in the build-up to the first goal and worked his socks off as usual, but this still wasn’t the Rooney of 12-18 months ago when there was great anticipation every time he got the ball.

I think City deserved a point, maybe even three.  For much of the game it seemed that United’s most effective plan was to just give the ball to Nani and hope that he would produce a moment of magic. Full credit to Nani who again confirmed his remarkable transformation from erratic fringe-player to lynchpin. 

A special mention also to Chris Smalling who has been eased in gradually by Ferguson. This was by far his most difficult game so far and he handled the pressure to perfection.

But this game will not be remembered for the accomplishments of Nani or Smalling, but for the moment when Rooney, for a few seconds, gave us all the feeling of rising above mortal constraints.

Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports, Player Analysis | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Four conclusions from Burnley and City

Posted by hakanrylander on January 20, 2010

1. We have defensive problems. Not surprising given the continued absence of Vidic and Ferdinand. Even so I feel that a back four of Neville/Rafael, Brown, Evans and Evra should be strong enough for most games. But Burnley (with a dreadful away record) were often given a lot of space and created quite a few clear-cut chances, and we were lucky that they didn’t manage to convert a couple of them. I also believe that a lack of understanding between Evans and Brown gifted Tevez the winner. They both went wide to cover the cross but if one had stayed in the middle Tevez would hardly have been left with a free header.

2. Wayne Rooney is too isolated. Against City we used the 4-2-3-1 system that I prefer, but Anderson didn’t provide enough support for Rooney through the middle. Rooney did well, particularly towards the end, but he can hurt the opposition more if given more support. Fabio Capello seems to agree.

3. After three brief appearances I’m already optimistic about Mame Biram Diouf. Most of all because he gets into good positions. Should have scored, though, when he got a free header with minutes remaining against City.

4. It was good to see a MotM performance from United old-boy Chris Eagles. He had a couple of decent games for United, but in the end he didn’t quite manage to become a first team regular. It was obvious that he really wanted to make an impression in this game, and he did.

Posted in Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Debt Also Rises, II

Posted by hakanrylander on January 8, 2010

The start of a new decade calls for the long-term view. And whether you like it or not, long-term sporting success in today’s football depends more than anything on – money. Thus my pessimism.

United now owe something like £700m to banks and hedge funds. This in itself need not be too much of a problem. Normal companies often have huge debts without this being particularly alarming. But there’s a crucial difference. Normal companies have debts because they’ve borrowed money to invest in machinery, factories, real estate or whatever. And these investments bring, or are at least supposed to bring, revenues that help pay off the debt. Football clubs also do this. When Arsenal invested in a new stadium their debt rose significantly, but so did their gate receipts on every match day.

United’s debt, on the other hand, is virtually not investment related at all. It was taken on only to finance the Glazer take-over. In effect, the club is paying lots of money every year for the privilege of having new owners. In the year to 30 June 2008 the interest payable was £69m. Most of this money could otherwise have been spent on investments in players, ground improvements etc. Similar sums go to waste every season.

And by a complete coincidence a United manager, for the first time in living memory, finds no value for money in the transfer market. I believe the sad truth is that the board no longer supports Ferguson in the transfer market the way they used to when we signed Robson, Keane, Ferdinand and Rooney. Not a big problem in the short-term. I don’t see any desperate need for big signings in January. But in the long-term there’s no way we can keep up with Real Madrid, Chelsea or City without being prepared to pay big money for top players.

The only solution that I can see is that someone is prepared to pay enough money for the club so that the Glazers can leave with a healthy return on their investment. The sooner, the better.

Posted in Financial, Manchester United | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Quote of the Day

Posted by hakanrylander on November 17, 2009

“In a speech in Abu Dhabi last week, Garry Cook, the chief executive of Manchester City, told assembled guests that “people were wrong in saying that City are just a club from Manchester”. It was now, he said, “a club of the world”.

“The Peter Kenyon “Paint The World Blue” award for marketing bull***t has its 2009 winner.

Matt Dickinson, Chief Sports Correspondent of The Times.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Four months at City make Tevez consider retirement

Posted by hakanrylander on November 14, 2009

It took Carlos Tevez little more than four months at Manchester City to become completely fed up with football.

“It’s complicated, there’s my family, the desire to return to Boca Juniors, but I think about it. It crosses my mind to hang up my boots if we win the World Cup, although I have a contract [with Manchester City] until 2014,” he said.

“I’m a bit tired of so much football, so much football. I want to enjoy my family a bit. I’m very keen to stop and get a bit of calm. I’ve already won a lot. Living for football has saturated me.”

Compare this to the Tevez we remember from Old Trafford (or indeed West Ham) where he became a crowd favourite thanks to his energy, passion, work-rate and commitment. To be fair, the quotes don’t make it 100% clear whether he’s just talking about international football. But the main reason why he left United (apart from the money) was that he wanted to play more football!

Even apart from Tevez there seem to be plenty of opportunities for Mark Hughes to practice his man-management skills at the moment. Robinho appears to be angling for a move to Barcelona. It was a long time ago since Micah Richards played anywhere near his huge potential. And most people thought that regular first team football would improve Wayne Bridge but he seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Do we get more added time when we need it?

Posted by hakanrylander on September 22, 2009

Following the controversy surrounding the amount of time added in the derby, the Guardian today publishes an interesting study that they claim shows that United benefit from an imbalance in the amount of stoppage time added to their matches.

The Guardian has looked at all of United’s league matches at Old Trafford since the start of the 2006-07 season and discovered that, on average, there has been over a minute extra added by referees when United do not have the lead after 90 minutes, compared to when they are in front. In 48 games when United were ahead, the average amount of stoppage time was 191.35 seconds. In 12 matches when United were drawing or losing there was an average of 257.17sec.

In 2006-07 United were winning 15 times on entering stoppage time and referees added an average 194.53sec. In the four games when United were not winning there was an average of 217.25sec. The following year the disparity was greater, Opta’s figures showing an average 178.29sec added when United were winning and 254.5sec when they were not. Last season it was 187.71sec compared to 258.6sec.

At first glance I’m unable to find any fundamental mistakes that the Guardian has made in this study. Could any of the, undoubtedly numerous, statistical experts among our readers help me prove that the newspaper’s findings are crap? Or do we actually get some preferential treatment at home?

Posted in Academic | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Riverdancing around the living-room: United 4 City 3

Posted by hakanrylander on September 20, 2009

This was electrifying! A wonderful game of football completed by a calm Michael Owen finish after 96 minutes. For me the turning point came during the break when someone in the United dressing-room came up with the brilliant idea to use the wings. In the first half I hardly noticed Ryan Giggs, in the second he was the best player on the pitch. And this was not because Giggs suddenly improved, but because the team started feeding the ball to him. The attacking threath down the wings was intensified further with the introduction of Valencia.

Apart from Giggs, the obvious MotM was Darren Fletcher who continues his remarkable transformation from squad-player to world-class midfielder.

Even though I’m riverdancing as I write this, I feel obliged to point out a couple of negatives. The most important is the difference in the way the two teams reacted to the other scoring. When United scored (except obviously for Owen’s strike) City raised their game and went in search of an equaliser, but when City scored their first goal United lost their rythm completely and were second best for the remainder of the first half. Secondly, and unfortunately, I was again unconvinced by the performance of Ben Foster. He gifted City their first goal and could have done better for their third.

And finally. Yes, I agree with all the City-fans who find it hard to understand how the ref could add more than 6 minutes.

Posted in Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Premier League clubs face difficult transfer window

Posted by hakanrylander on June 29, 2009

The transfer window doesn’t officially open until Wednesday but of course a lot of activity is already underway. The early signs are that the top Premier League clubs are finding it difficult to lure stars from Italy, Spain and Germany. United (Ronaldo, Tevez), Arsenal (Adebayor) and Liverpool (Mascherano, Alonso) are all in danger of losing, or have already lost, star players and are apparently finding it difficult to replace them. While Chelsea are reported to have made a number of unsuccessful recruitment attempts (Pato, Villa). The only exception is City, whose bottomless pockets enable them not only to pay high transfer fees but also offer ridiculous pay-packets such as the reported £200,000 per week after tax to Samuel Eto’o.

The reason for these difficulties is not that the PL is less attractive from a sporting perspective. Remember three out of four semi-finalists in the CL were English. Instead the problem is that the PL is financially less competitive than a year ago.

This is partly because Real Madrid have gone bananas, but also and more fundamentally because of the fall of the pound. Even though the pound has strengthened against the euro in recent months, it is still 11 percent weaker than it was a year ago. This makes it more expensive for British clubs to buy players from euro-countries, and also to pay their wages. Furthermore, the tax rate on high earners (anyone earning more than £150,000 a year) was raised in the latest government budget, meaning that top players (or indeed any first team player) earn more after tax in Spain or Italy compared to England.

This might very well be the summer when the tide turns and more top players move away from rather than towards England. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Posted in Financial | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The unofficial transfer window shopping list

Posted by hakanrylander on June 22, 2009

 United are about to receive £80m for Ronaldo and are therefore linked with just about every top class player in Europe and their dogs. Some of the suggested signings are very tempting but totally unrealistic (e.g. Essien and Torres) while in other cases the fees quoted are very fanciful (Ribery).

The Between The Lines shopping list stays away from the most expensive options and contains just three names:

Micah Richards. Probably the most talented young defender/midfielder in England. Hasn’t played to his potential during the last two seasons but it would be very interesting to see him develop under Ferguson. Could play in central defence or at right-back, but I see him as a future holding midfielder, “the next Patrick Vieira”. Tops my shopping list if indeed City, as rumoured, are stupid enough to sell him.

Robin van Persie. Reports claim that he’s unhappy with the level of ambition at Arsenal. Very skilful and mobile and would work wonderfully with Rooney or Berbatov or both. A bit injury-prone but worth a gamble.

Antonio Valenicia. Impressed me a lot as man-of-the-match against United in January. A fast and direct winger/midfielder who eschewes fancy footwork but can make it look very easy to get past a full-back. Some think he’s overpriced at £18m. I don’t agree.

Posted in Transfer Gossip, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »