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Archive for the ‘Manchester United’ Category

A True Fan

The reaction is always the same – “of course you are” or “figures” or “aren’t all Yanks?”. It’s not easy being an American Red Devil. Well, some would argue it’s too easy.

Manchester United are arguably the world’s largest soccer team, and, inarguably the de facto European team for American fans. They have won eighteen domestic league titles and three European Cups. They have been home to marquee names such as Best, Charlton, Cantona, Giggs, Keane, and Beckham. They boast the world’s highest turnover and are the most valuable franchise in all of sports. So, I can’t blame you if you snicker. I won’t fault you if you sneer. I can’t say I wouldn’t hate me too. It would be difficult not to group me in the prawn sandwich brigade or label me plastic. After all, I am a frontrunner.

When I started following English football in the early 90s, there was one team to support- United. When my great-grandmother, a Londoner, sent me footy magazines as gifts, I eagerly lapped up stories of Giggs, Ince, Cantona, Cole. The pull-out posters plastered on my wall were all of United players. Of course, with U.S. television coverage of international club soccer being limited to Spanish language channels, live viewing of my heroes was next to impossible. I was limited to the three month-old recaps in my transcontinental footy rags. I’ll admit it, I went with the winners.

And despite my efforts to controvert the perceived plasticity (I’ve seen United play in the flesh, both on American soil and at the Theater of Dreams), I’ve been met with the same skepticism. Why oh why couldn’t I just support Reading (like my PSP colleague) or Plymouth or Torquay or Dag & Red or Cambridge United? I’d have so much street cred! Instead I get the smirks. I get the rolling eyes. I get the throat clears. Eh-hem, oh United, real original!

Well come March 25th, I’ll be plastic no more…

MLS First Kick 2010 is not merely the beginning of a new era of Philadelphia fandom or the start of the league’s 16th franchise. No, Philadelphia Union away to Seattle Sounders is the day I, and thousands like me, finally have a vested interest in a soccer team.

I was born in Philadelphia. I live in Philadelphia. I support Philadelphia Union. It has a nice ring to it.

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Pictured: All the starting Right Midfielders

The traditional footy formation is a 4-4-2: Four fullbacks, four midfielders, and two prima donnas strikers (the goalie excluded because, barring schizophrenia, he will always be a 1). The more counterattacking-inclined team may use a 4-3-3 while a possession-based squad often takes the pitch in a 4-5-1. There are endless variations of these three formations, from the 4-2-3-1 “popularized” by Rafa Benitez to the 4-4-1-1 Fabio Capello prefers to better utilize his human conveyor belts: Crouch and Heskey (flicks it on… flicks it on… flicks it on…)

On Sunday, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger sent out a formation the likes of which is rarely seen: Four defenders behind a beehive of six small, fast and skilled midfielders. Now, one might argue that Andrei Arshavin is a striker. But one would be wrong. While Arshavin prefers to receive the ball higher than most middies, he is no front-liner. It’s his ability to carry the ball and cause trouble from the wings that makes him most dangerous.

What makes Wenger’s starting lineup even odder is that it was a home game lineup. No strikers at home? Against a team that is likely to score some goals? Was this some Da Vinci codesque method of showing support for the under-fire master of wacky lineups Rafa Benitez? (more…)

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There has been a lot in the British press over the past week about the shocking level of debt being carried by Manchester United, which currently stands at £700m or $1.114b. That’s right, more than $1 billion.

manchester united's ownership structure in chart form

The Glazers new unorthodox tactical system for Manchester United

Last Monday the Glazer family, owners of the club and proud Americans, announced a plan to float a bond for £500m to address the club’s rising level of debt, although financial experts in London warned that the Glazers’ plan could be “hampered by a glut of similar high-yield bond offerings.”

Along with that announcement came a lot of very distressing details.

First came the news that without the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo the club would have been in the red. Thanks to that record breaking deal of £81m, the club was able to report a pre-tax profit of £48.2m (£26m after tax) instead of a loss of £31.8m. (more…)

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