Cristiano Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world today. It is said that the Man United players all begged Sir Alex Ferguson to sign him after he embarrassed them in a friend preseason fixture versus Sporting Lisbon. He proved to be a remarkable signing and even in his debut match against Bolton, he introduced himself to the Old Trafford faithful as someone special by tormenting the hapless Trotters with his endless stepovers.
Ronaldo continued to develop year after year. Initially labeled a one trick pony with no end product, the youngster spent countless hours on the training pitch to improve his crossing and shooting. That hard work soon paid off as he began creating more opportunities for his teammates and scoring more goals himself. His goalscoring tally increased year after year and he even managed to bag an incredible 42 goals despite mostly playing on the wing. Cristiano Ronaldo also forged a potent partnership with Man United’s other young talisman Wayne Rooney, and between them, they plundered Premier League title after title, cup after cup and trophy after trophy, including a famous UEFA Champions League title in Rome in 2008. So when the young maestro declared his intention to leave Man United for Real Madrid, Man United fans the world over were understandably dismayed.
Sir Alex Ferguson himself said that no one in the world could replace Ronaldo, so rather than trying to find someone to perfectly fill his boots, the team would try to find a strong alternative while sharing the workload Ronaldo used to do himself. In the end the Red Devils chose to sign Ecuadoran Antonio Valencia. Though Valencia did not have the fearsome strike rate of Ronaldo, he was a hard worker and an excellent crosser who produced scintillating displays of his own on the right wing. Ronaldo’s departure also saw fellow Portuguese winger Nani finally begin to fulfill his early potential. Nani grew from strength to strength, becoming Man United’s chief assist maker as well as developing into a regular scorer from midfield. Man United has won two league titles, a Carling Cup and have been to two Champions League finals since Cristiano Ronaldo departed. While the brilliant Portuguese winger might be missed by his former teammates, the stats suggest rather otherwise.
19:18. Every Man United and Liverpool fan knows the significance of those two numbers. It was in 1986 that Sir Alex Ferguson, merely Alex Ferguson at the time left Scotland to take charge of Manchester United Football Club. He soon declared that his goal at his new club was “to knock Liverpool off their f**king perch” to stunned television reporters. Many pundits thought his comment inane, laughable and utterly impossible. Liverpool, at the time, was a force to be reckoned with both on the domestic and international fronts.
In the first year of the Premier League however, Man United made their mark by winning the 1991-1992 title. Liverpool fans were understandably outraged by the supposed usurpers from Manchester who stole the title that rightly belonged at Anfield from right under their noses. That first Premier League title was built on the backs on defensive stalwarts Pallister and Bruce and as the seasons progressed, Alex Ferguson would bring key players to the club who would continue to leave indelible marks on Manchester United’s history.
Chief among these soon to be Man United legends was the Frenchman Eric Cantona. Cantona was signed from Leeds United in 1994 and spent 5 years at Old Trafford. In that time he won 4 league titles and two FA Cups. The incredible impact Cantona had at United drew much derision from the Liverpool fans who proudly unfurled a banner stating “Come back when you’ve won 18” referring to their 18 League titles. Cantona’s imagination and artistry made him a fixture in the Man United lineup and a fan favorite. Despite his unquestionable skill though, he was always something of a maverick as was evidenced by his kung fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan during a match, which resulted in his missing virtually a whole season due to suspension. After Cantona’s retirement, other players took up right where he left off.
Peter Schmeichel, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt kept United on the winning path despite criticism from popular pundits. New signings such as Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham pushed Man United to an unprecedented treble of Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League in 1999. Ruud van Nistelrooy, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic have played a key role in helping Man United win their 19th league title in the 2010 – 2011 season. So today we congratulate Sir Alex Ferguson on achieving his dream of knocking “Liverpool of their f**king perch.” And to those Liverpool fans who might be reading we say “Come back when you’ve won 19.”
It was the outspoken Jose “Special One” Mourinho who coined the term “untouchable” in the context of modern day football. The then Chelsea manager was referring to an elite group of players who formed the spine of his recording breaking team. At the time, John Terry, Didier Drogba, Petr Cech and Frank Lampard were all mentioned and Mourinho made the claim that if any of these untouchables was fit, he would definitely start.
In today’s world of congested fixtures and overbooked match schedules, most managers have adopted a rotation policy regarding their first team players. More emphasis is placed on using the squad as opposed to the starting eleven. Players are moved in and out of the starting lineup in order to keep them well rested in the hopes that they will survive till the end of the long turbulent season. While Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has rotated his side frequently, it seems Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic are the only two players who are not subject to the rule.
The importance of Rooney and Vidic to the Man United cause is clear for all to see. Rooney has scored 9 goals in 10 games this season, in addition to serving up a few assists for his teammates. So important is Rooney to the team that he has been twice played in central midfield, rather than his customary striking position in order that the team would not lose his creativity and drive from the middle of the park. Vidic has been absent for the majority of the league campaign so far, but in his absence the Man United defense has become as water tight as a wet sieve. It is only since the captain’s return that United have been able to string together two consecutive clean sheets – away to everton and at home to sunderland. Vidic was also missing from the 1-6 mauling that Man United suffered at the hands of Man City earlier this year. Are Rooney and Vidic untouchables in the Man United starting 11? Are they fixtures in Fergie’s tactics? Fans can only hope they are, because without them the Man United team is a mere shadow of what it is when they are both playing.
Though Man United only sits in second position in the Barclays Premier League table at present, the team has made one of its strongest starts to the Premier League in its history. Brilliant tactics from their manager Sir Alex Ferguson, in addition to strong performances on the field has left the team well placed to retain its crown come May. So who has been the most impressive of the Red Devil’s long list of outstanding performers?
Wayne Rooney would likely be the immediate choice for most persons. The Man United forward has already bagged 9 goals so far this season and has chalked up a few assists as well even at this early stage of the campaign. His tally includes back to back hattricks at home to Arsenal and away to Bolton which is link up play has been magnificent. The striker’s goals have dried up a little of late however, as mounting injury problems has seen Sir Alex Ferguson deploy Rooney in a creative center midfield role rather than as the spearhead of the Man United attack. One reinforcements arrive though, Rooney is expected to pick up right where he left off – bulging the old onion bag.
Out on the left and right wings, Ashley Young and Nani have also made strong starts to the season. Young’s displays have been particularly impressive as he has fitted in seamlessly into a new team and new stadium, while Nani has continued his excellent form from last season – serving up assists and goals in virtually every match. Man United approach their opponents with emphasis on width and the tricky wingers have been tormenting the opposition so far this year.
Despite the excellence of Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Nani though, the majority of Man United fans feel that young Phil Jones has been the most outstanding performer this season. A mere 19 years old, the lad plays with the confidence, composure, intelligence and swagger of a seasoned veteran. His versatility has seen him play in central defence, right back and central midfield. Wherever the young Englishman has played, he has coupled defensive solidity with attacking drive and looks a bright prospect for the present as well as the future.
The Barclays Premier League is widely regarded as the best professional football league in the world. The league’s high global reputation is due in part to the stars who ply their trade in England as well as the overall competitiveness of matches. As such, the demand to watch Premier League matches, and in particular the fixtures of defending champions Manchester United is very high around the world.
Major television broadcasting companies such as ITV, Sky and the BBC dominate the local market in England, while FSC and ESPN have established strangleholds on the North America, Asian and Caribbean market. In England, residents have to pay a pretty penny to see their favorite teams play even if just on the telly and those who travel abroad to the United States are often surprised at the ease with which American citizens are able to view televised matches.
Despite the popularity of televised matches, more and more persons are turning to the internet to feed their need for football. Video coverage of Man United fixtures, Arsenal fixtures, Chelsea fixtures and Liverpool fixtures are in especially high demand, as might be expected of the tradition “Big Four” clubs. This demand, coupled with the difficulty of watching matches in England has seen the rise of many live streaming websites. These websites, which broadcast the matches live on the internet has become a thorn in the flesh of the television companies who view them as nothing more than video pirates. The websites are well loved by the everyday Joe however, as these websites are usually free and produce streams of very high quality.
In addition to the live streams, internet savvy fans have also taken to watching football clips on well-established video sites such as youtube, or on football specific video sites such as Soccerclips. Fixtures from top teams such as Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are especially easy to find. If you are a fan of the English Premier League and find yourself unable to watch your favorite teams on the television, the very matches you desire might just be a click away on the internet.
While most football fans were not in the least bit surprised at the way Man United started the 2011-2012 football season, and expected the Red Devils to pick up three points when the Gunners came visiting, no one could have anticipated the massacre that would befall Arsenal. This fixture has always been tricky for Man United historically, but with the summer transfer window having seen United strengthen its ranks with the signings of Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea, Arsenal were unfortunate enough to lose their two most influential players from the previous season – Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri to Man City.
The match began with a sense of dread for most Gooners and on 21 minutes after Danny Welbeck opened the scoring. A few minutes later however, Arsenal were gifted a golden chance to restore parity when Jonny Evans felled Theo Walcott in the box. Newly appointed captain Robin van Persie stepped up to take the spot kick but David de Gea produced a brilliant save to deny the Dutchman. One minute after van Persie’s miss, Ashley Young announced his arrival to the Man United fans but cutting inside from the left flank and curling a peach of a shot past the flailing Arsenal goalkeeper. It was at that moment that every watching fan knew the unthinkable was about to happen.
Carl Jenkinson brought down Ashley Young late in the first half and the talismanic Wayne Rooney stepped up to curl home the freekick. United was deservedly up 3-0 but Theo Walcott scored to send the teams in at halftime with only two goals separating them.
After the break United was rampant. Rooney curled home a second freekick to make the score 4-1 before he sent Nani clean through to score with a cheeky chip. Van Persie got another goal back for Arsenal but Ji Sung Park came on to score United’s sixth goal and Rooney soon secured his hattrick from the penalty spot after Theo Walcott had felled the impressive Ashley Young. Young himself scored another late stunner to leave the Gunners in tatters and the Man United fans joyous. Man United 8-2 Arsenal the score line read. It was a performance for the ages.
Probably the most harrowing of Man United fixtures this season, for United fans at least, was the thrashing the Red Devils received at home from arch rivals Manchester City. The final scoreline – Man United 1-6 Man City – was described by Sir Alex Ferguson, a veteran of 25 years managing Manchester United football club, as the most humiliating match in his entire Man United career.
The result was as shocking as any previously seen in the Barclays Premier League, especially as United were unbeaten in the first seven games and had started the league in scintillating form. Manchester City were top of the league at the time, it must be said, but even so, the fact that United has won their previous nineteen games at home in the league did not bode well for the current league leaders. There were two blue thorns in flesh of the Man United players for the entire period they were on the pitch – the magical David Silva and the enigmatic Mario Balotelli.
Silva had been in sensational for all season, serving up assists to his teammates when not rifling home himself, in addition to dominating midfield play and keeping the Man City machine ticking along. At Old Trafford the little Spaniard produced another virtuoso performance, continuously escaping the attention of a bewildered Darren Fletcher and prompting and probing the United defense for weaknesses. His performance was capped when he scored late on in the second half of the match. Perhap the only person to outshine Silva on the night was the hot tempered young Italian Mario Balotelli. The powerful forward simply had too much for error prone Jonny Evans on the night. After the Italian lost Evans to score the first goal, he succeeded in drawing a foul from flailing young defender in the second half when bearing down on goal. Evans was sent off while United had to play a full forty five minutes with only ten men. In the end, Man City put Man United to the sword on a historical day in Manchester. The noisy neighbors were as noisy as ever at the end of that particular match.
Manchester United football club boasts the largest fan base on earth and it is always a treat to speak with their fevered supporters as the season progresses. As one of the elite clubs in England, Europe and the world, Man United has the honor of playing in the best footballing tournaments against some of the best teams on the planet. For example, Man United are the defending champions of the Barclays Premier League and have been to the final of the prestigious UEFA Champions League final three times in the last four years, though they lost two of those finals to Barcelona FC. Nevertheless, the Man United rollercoaster ride is usually long and exciting each season and begs the question – which Man United fixtures to the fans most look forward to?
At the beginning of each season, Man United usually find themselves taking part in four competitions: the previously mentioned Barclays Premier League (formerly the English Premier League), the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup and the Carling Cup. The Barclays Premier League is globally recognized as the most competitive and prestigious football league in the world. The FA Cup is a tournament steeped in tradition as the oldest football tourney on the planet. And while the Carling Cup is generally regarded as the least of the four annual tournaments and is generally used to blood the upcoming generation of Man United stars, the UEFA Champions League is seen as the Holy Grail for the world’s top clubs, the very pinnacle of club football.
These four competitions clearly result in the Red Devils matching up against top teams at home and across Europe. On the domestic scene the fans eagerly look forward to title deciding clashes between the other contenders such as Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal while matchups with longtime rivals like Liverpool and Manchester City are something to savor. On the European stage the magic of facing other elite teams such as Real Madrid, AC Milan, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are enough to make any ardent Man United fan crave for these fixtures season after season. It is a difficult call to say any one tournament is the fan favorite, but whatever the cup, the fans always expect Man United to win.
Manchester United is unquestionably the largest and most instantly recognizable sporting brand on the planet. The club has taken various steps in order to maximize the revenue earned from the club’s millions of fans worldwide. One way the board increases domestic revenue from the Manchester area is by increasing ticket prices. The Man United fixture schedule is always highly anticipated prior to the start of each football season for fans and rivals alike. The pull of the Manchester United brand usually results in increased attendance for both home and away matches, resulting in rival clubs looking forward to the visit of the Red Devils.
Home matches are especially profitable for Man Utd as their gigantic stadium Old Trafford, aptly nicknamed “The Theatre of Dreams,” has the capacity to seat 75, 759 people. Old Trafford is ranked as the second largest stadium in England behind Wembley, the third largest in the United Kingdom and the eleventh largest in all of Europe. Despite the immense size, the stadium is consistently sold out for each match due to the entertaining football played, the never-say-die attitude of the team, the legend of manager Sir Alex Ferguson as well as its glittering array of world stars. These factors have seen Manchester United match ticket prices soar above all other Premier League clubs. Despite the greater expense however, the club’s board recognize that the loyalty of the club’s fans and invests heavily in maintaining the high level of play that continuously attracts new fans to its fanbase. Matches against other top teams such as Chelsea or Arsenal, or matches versus fierce rivals such as Liverpool and Man City can also result in extra expense.
For 2011-2012 the cost of a Man Utd season ticket will go up by £1 to cover the government’s 2.5% increase in VAT. The club has also introduced a new price for 16-17 year olds in an attempt to ease the transition to adult prices, while still saving fans in this bracket up to 60%. This year adult tickets will range between £28-£50, seniors and 16-17 year olds will pay half price capped at £20, while juniors will have to stump up £10 to see Fergie’s boys live. So start checking your couches for loose change and recheck the Man United fixtures list to see which matches you’ll be seeing this season.
The Man United fixtures this year provided a mouthwatering early season selection of Man United highlights for ardent Red Devil fans. The swagger with which the English juggernauts started the league was enthralling for supporters and neutrals alike, scoring goal after goal in a rampant display of all out attacking football. A difficult opening win by 2-1 away to West Brom was followed by an impressive 3-0 home win to an ever improving Tottenham Hotspur side intent on qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.
The Red Devils continued the decimation of North London sides with an astonishing 8-2 win at home to perennial title contenders Arsenal, and then travelled to the Reebok Stadium to thrash Bolton 5-0. One of the most important points raised by pundits regarding Sir Alex Ferguson’s new team was the comfort, level-headedness and creativity with which even the young players conducted themselves. Players such as Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Javier Chicharito Hernandez, Phil Jones and David de Gea have all performed with a measured assuredness and confidence well beyond their years. Their youthful vigor coupled with the experience of old stalwarts such as Ryan Giggs, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand has made the team very formidable.
While the aforementioned Bolton victory was impressive in itself, the match was also significant for another reason – the long term injury to young Tom Cleverley. Cleverley’s absence was strongly felt by United, perhaps even more so than the team itself imagined it would be. With Cleverley out, the crisp sharp passing of the earlier games subsided, and the build-up play became more methodical and predictable. Although the Red Devils did conquer another title rival in Chelsea 3-0 at Old Trafford, the signs were there for all to see. The all-conquering juggernaut was slowing down. Tough 1-1 draws away to Stoke and Liverpool sandwiched an unimpressive 2-0 home win to Norwich. The most biggest shock of the season came at Old Trafford on October 23, an unbelievable 1-6 loss at the hands of arch rivals Man City. That was the wakeup call the team apparently needed, as the humiliating loss was followed by two successive wins in the subsequent games. The Man United fixture list presented a difficult start to the season for the champions, but their overall display was nonetheless impressive and does highlight their intent to keep the title in Manchester.