Reuters Soccer Blog
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When Alex Ferguson declares he is happy with his squad for the season remainder, it is time for Manchester United’s Premier League title rivals to start worrying.
The busy Christmas and New Year period is often important in the Premier League, as fringe players are called upon to help negotiate a sea of fixtures which put managers under increasing pressure.
With the worst of it now over, United are beginning to emerge from the pack.
Their recent wins over West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City might not have oozed confidence or screamed ‘champions’ but the results will have worried Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Ferguson rested some key players in both victories, instead letting the likes of Tomasz Kuszczak, Gabriel Obertan, Darron Gibson and Javier Hernandez stretch their legs.
Football fans are very forgiving types – if my football club were a person I’d have stopped speaking to it a long time ago.
Pretend for a minute you are Manchester United and Wayne Rooney is your best mate. He swears undying loyalty to you – it’s a friendship that will last forever. Then suddenly he tells you you’re basically not good enough for him and that you should get lost.
Well, what an extraordinary twist this is: Wayne Rooney has agreed a new five-year deal with Manchester United and is staying at Old Trafford after all. Here’s the club statement:
Wayne Rooney has agreed a new 5 year contract to stay at Manchester United until at least June 2015.
The agreement follows intensive discussions between the Club and the player’s representatives and means that by the end of his contract Wayne will have been a Manchester United player for 11 years.
In eight months Wayne Rooney has plummeted from “the best player in the world” to a substitute against West Bromwich Albion and his current position on the Old Trafford periphery will need to be sorted out very soon.
Manchester United’s fans — and their American owners — do not expect the England striker to be warming the bench, particularly when the player says he is fit, even if manager Alex Ferguson says otherwise.
Anyone tempted to suggest Wayne Rooney’s minor groin injury might give him a nice rest before the World Cup would be wise to fire up their copy of the Mathematica GraphMonkey iPad app* and first try to factor in one of the great immeasurables of English football — Rooney Recovery Time.
Rooney Recovery Time is comparable in its unfathomability only to Scotty’s estimates of how long it would take to get warp engines back on line as the Enterprise hurtled towards a collapsing Lime Dyson sphere*.
Has Alex Ferguson got lucky or did he see something in Nani that nobody else could?
The Scot has always stood by the Manchester United winger despite his extremely unfavorable comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo and on Sunday against Arsenal all the pieces appeared to fall into place for a player who has flattered to deceive.
Around the world referees are forever criticised by fans, players, managers and the media but an Uzbekistan official has managed to buck the trend, receiving an unusually warm welcome after being named Asian Football Confederation (AFC) referee of the year.
Fans at Tashkent airport blew horns and trumpets to celebrate the return of Ravshan Irmatov, a candidate to referee at next year’s World Cup, after he won the award for a second successive year.
Thursday update: Nothing to do with this incident, of course, but worth noting that Ferguson has been banished to the stands, receiving a two-match ban and a fine of 20,000 quid for the comments he made about Alan Wiley in October.
So, the FA has decided to get tough with the United boss. Are they right to do it? Read the full story here.
Much has been said and written about the verbal jousting between Rafael Benitez and Alex Ferguson and at the moment the Scot is losing both on and off the field.
But despite a squad packed to the rafters with players under the age of 25, United fans are hailing the evergreen talents of a 35-year-old left winger and eagerly anticipating the return of a reliable Dutch keeper three years his senior.