After a whole week of international football, with mixed results for United players representing their countries, we’re now back to domestic football, at least for another month when there’s yet more EURO ’16 qualifiers and ‘glamour friendlies’ (including Argentina vs Portugal at Old Trafford).
But let’s look at how some of the United players fared while wearing their national shirts. Our captain Wayne Rooney scored a goal in England’s 5-0 against San Marino, then the only goal on his 99th England appearance against Estonia. He’s now on 43 goals for his country, just one behind Jimmy Greaves who’s third in the all-time goal scorers list; Robin van Persie and Daley Blind didn’t have a very good week as they struggled to beat Kazakhstan 3-1, then lost 2-0 in Iceland; Darren Fletcher came on in the last 20 minutes in Scotland’s 2-2 draw in Poland; David de Gea played in Spain’s 4-0 win against Luxembourg, and though he hardly had anything to do, this could pave the way for him to become their no.1 in place of a faltering Iker Casillas; Our Belgian midfielder Fellaini came on as a substitute in a 6-0 win against Andorra, then again in a 1-1 draw against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Other United players were involved in friendlies played all over the world – Marcos Rojo and Di Maria both played in Argentina’s 2-0 defeat against Brazil (in China), while Di Maria came off the bench in their 7-0 win against Hong Kong; Falcao started for Colombia against El Salvador and Canada, scoring the first in a 3-0 win in the first game, and having a goal disallowed in the second one. He looked sharper and fitter, and the good news is that he was taken off in both games; Also worth noting that Luke Shaw put on a man of the match display for England’s U/21s against Croatia.
We now hope that all the players will get back to Old Trafford fit and healthy, to try and push on towards the harder league games coming up in the next few weeks. Seems like Valencia is already out after tweaking his hamstring (hopefully not while taking selfies of himself to send to others).
Looking at this week’s headlines, the main one in England was about Sterling being tired to represent his own country. I don’t see much wrong with that, I’d rather have a player rested when a game is not that important instead of one that pretends he’s fine, then might cost the team points by not being at their best. Remember that Sterling is already ‘carrying’ what is supposed to be one of the bigger sides in the Premier League, and that surely takes its toll, especially as he’s only nineteen (though his club should be more careful in how they use him or he’ll be burnt out before too long). Reading Roy Keane’s new book, he even mentions something similar about Ruud van Nistelrooy, who opted out of a cup semi-final because his knee wasn’t feeling right. Keane couldn’t understand back then how a player can say he wasn’t fit for a game, yet now realises that his own career might have lasted longer if he had done the same at certain points.
Talking about Keane’s book (The Second Half). Having read a lot of it (though not all) in the past few days, you can clearly see that the media sensationalised a few quotes for their own benefit. A story that comes to mind is the Robbie Savage answer phone message one. Keane also mentions trying to sign Diego Forlan and Giuseppe Rossi while managing Sunderland, but those two were obviously not going to make the headlines in the papers as Roy Keane was full of praise for them both.
By the way, how nice was it of Luis Suarez to come out and tell L’pool fans that if it wasn’t for his attitude and ability, they wouldn’t have done so well last season? A player they defended even when he did wrong (more than once), saying that they’d have faltered without him? Apart from the fact that they ‘slipped up’ anyway, imagine if they had actually WON something!
Another story making headlines is ticket prices in England. As I write this, many (including the BBC) are comparing prices of English clubs and foreign ones. As nice as it would be for clubs to listen to match-going supporters and lower ticket prices, I doubt it will ever happen while most stadiums (not all, before a few start mentioning City’s Etihad) are getting full week-in, week-out. It’s about supply and demand, and while thousands of people are still going to the games, the clubs will not find a good enough reason to make tickets cheaper.
Back to United news, Sir Alex Ferguson has come out and admitted that “it was really important that the club bought the players they did, because you need quality at Manchester United, you need the best players.”
Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti has said that Di Maria only joined United for the money, as he was greedy in asking for more at Real Madrid. He even said that the club was not ready to break their wage structure for him! We didn’t even realise they had one, looking at how much their ‘galacticos’ get to play for them. Yeah, I bet Ronaldo didn’t get a massive pay-rise to extend his contract, and Rodriguez is getting less money than he did at Monaco, just because he wanted to play at Real Madrid. Pull the other one Signor Ancelotti (and keep saying what Florentino Perez tells you to).
Looking ahead at the weekend, we have to wait until Monday evening to see United in action again (at West Brom, 8pm UK time). That hurts a bit, as I always thought only mid-table clubs play on a Monday evening in a Champions’ League week. Yet another reminder of last season’s mishaps. At least the players should have an extra couple of days to recover from any jet-lag.
Here’s hoping that United get their first win on the road this season, as there’s then the small matter of playing Chelsea, and the Manchester derby coming up right after… COME ON UNITED!!!