Club Focus – Manchester United – Heard it all before

With no Premier League action during the International break, much of what comes out of the Premier League clubs in terms of news is simply players and managers giving their fell founded opinions on all things football. From the United camp we have had such great pearls of wisdom as Patrice Evra’s new found hatred of Sprite and the colour green to Gabriel Obertan’s various chores around the Carrington training base. Insightful comments these were not.

Some of the talking coming out of the Old Trafford club over this week has not been of a jovial nature with both Nani and Ben Foster venting their frustrations at not being involved as much as they would like with the first team. Foster has struggled to make the bench since the return of Edwin van der Sar, with Sir Alex Ferguson opting for the pole Tomas Kuszczak as understudy. Foster may well feel disheartened following the glowing praise his manager dished out to him pre-season and the fact he has started the last two games for his country looking close to cementing his place on the plane to South Africa. Nani on the other hand has gone even further by saying he feels his career is being mismanaged, complained about not getting a start in the big games and that it is not his own fault he hasn’t hit the heights his price tag would suggest. Interestingly both players have stated that they do not wish to leave Old Trafford.

If neither wishes to leave then issuing comments like this to the media is certainly not the best of ideas given the United boss’s track record of dealing with players who have spoken out against him or the club. Much more influential players than Foster and Nani have not lived to tell the tale. The fact of the matter is that neither of these players have done enough to deserve what they crave. Foster has made too many mistakes in big games to deserve a first team place as although arguably a better keeper than Kuszczak the pole has been nothing but reliable whenever called upon. Nani has frustrated all season – following a promising start with a goal in the Community Shield he has consistently performed badly most notably against Stoke at the Britannia. In the two or three times Obertan has featured since recovering from injury he has outshone the Portuguese. Rumors have been circulating about a possible move to Tottenham for Foster and a loan move to Fiorentina for Nani with these remarks possibly the precursor for both those moves. If they do leave it is sad to say that neither will be missed by the Old Trafford faithful.

They are both clearly concerned about their World Cup hopes but if they want to earn a place in the United squad this is certainly the wrong way to go about it. Indeed Sir Alex has come out this week and stated that modern day footballers do not act in the same way players did when he first got into management, blaming the role of agents. With the case in point the agents may not have had much to do with the comments as it seems that neither is hankering for a new deal or even a move – as they both claim – with the only conclusion that this writer can draw from this whole debacle is that it has nothing to do with what is important – Saturday’s match against Everton.

United have to get back to winning ways after the disappointment at Stamford Bridge and not only that they have to put in a performance with shows they are worthy of lifting an unprecedented fourth title in a row. Much of this season has been blighted by poor performances especially at home and unnecessary problems with the media and authorities. Sir Alex will be in the dugout for the Everton match but is set to be banned from the touchline for two matches taking effect 14 days after the hearing for the comments made about Alan Wiley. Frankly this is something that United could do without and is illustrative of their fortunes in this campaign. All United fans enjoy Fergie’s mind games but many of his comments this season have simply served to put himself and his club in a bad light often seeming unnecessary and simply to gloss over a poor team performance or individual errors.

United have not been good so far this season, but with arguably their best performance of the campaign in the last outing and only five points behind Chelsea with some big games to come at Old Trafford, they are certainly not out of it. What needs to be achieved is that subtle blend of points made on the pitch and silence off it.

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