Club Focus – Man Utd – Festive cheer arrives in Manchester

With the first signs of Christmas decorations going up around the Arndale Centre, the Manchester air is full of good tidings.

Earlier this week, the Glazer family announced plans to stump up £220m to pay off the controversial PIK loans which helped Manchester United accrue huge annual losses of almost £80m last year.

The PIK loans were totting up interest at an incredulous rate of 16.25%apr and added further steam to the anti-Glazer brigade’s claims the Americans were grossly savaging the club coffers to help fund their takeover.

In an apparent gesture of goodwill, not to mention good housekeeping, the Glazers will now wipeout the PIK loan, thus reducing the huge interest payments which have proved such a drain on the Reds finances since Malcolm, Joel, Avi and Bryan bought United back in 2005.

The more cynical Reds are viewing the pay-off as nothing more than a propaganda mission, with questions about where exactly the money has surfaced from to foot the bill. Nevertheless, without the burden of the PIK loans it goes some way towards the club posting healthier monetary sums next time around.

The festive cheer does not end there. Sitting under Sir Alex Ferguson’s tree will be a goalkeeper shaped present in the form of Danish stopper Anders Lindegaard, who will arrive at Old Trafford from Norwegian club Aalesund in the January transfer window. United scouts have long identified the 26-year-old as the heir apparent to Edwin van der Sar’s custodianship once the Dutchman decides to call it a day.

Sir Alex Ferguson will however hope that United’s time of giving stops in-house. Last time out the Reds shipped more points away at Aston Villa with most of his side looking like they’d indulged in an extra slice of Christmas pudding a month premature. With Chelsea beset with injuries and wobbling by picking up three points from a possible nine, the run-in to the festive period provides United with a good opportunity to exert some real pressure on the Blues – starting tomorrow at home to Wigan.

The Latics resemble United’s Tiny Tim of an opposition, having defeated them in all eleven of the competitive meetings between the two – including home and away 5-0 stuffing’s last season. Roberto Martinez’s side often flatter to deceive with their current standing of 17th belying some of the talent in their side. United were lucky to escape from Villa Park with a point, and Ferguson will hope his defence return to their scrooge-like best to shut out the dangerous Charles N’Zogbia and Hugo Rodallega.

Up the other end, Ferguson is set to welcome back Wayne Rooney for the first time since his contract debacle back in October. The England striker has been short of form, fitness and goals so far this season, but after recovering from an ankle injury and undergoing a successful rehabilitation at Nike’s training facilities in America, United’s talisman is back and should at least make the bench.

Apart from the long term absentees United have no fresh injury worries and all is in place for them to finally string some results together and gather some momentum in a season which has started and stopped more than Rudolph’s sleigh.

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