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United face a tricky trip to St. Andrew’s on Tuesday to play a Birmingham side that surprisingly lie in 17th place, just two points off the relegation zone. Surprising because in their last six games they have taken points from City, Spurs and also beaten a stuttering Chelsea, whilst only conceding three goals in this time. Considering Birmingham have conceded just four more than United all season, it hardly bodes well for a high-scoring encounter, particularly given United’s lack of success on the road this season.
Sir Alex faces another one of his former players this week in the shape of Alex McLeish, who seems to be one of the few Premier League managers who avoid constant speculation regarding their future. He has built a team that first and foremost is hard to break down, and so it is no surprise that Birmingham’s most influential players this season are mainly in defence.
A lack of victories against teams who are considered Birmingham’s mid-table rivals has been their main downfall so far this season, with draws against Wigan, Villa and the Scousers-how funny is it referring to the Scousers as ‘mid-table’ -to name a few. But it is the big games where Birmingham have stepped up, losing only once to a top 7 team this season, so it would be no surprise if Tuesday’s game was one that will be decided by a moment of genius, a mistake or maybe even plain luck.
The fact Birmingham have only two points more than West Ham- albeit having played two games less is quite a staggering statistic as the Irons have seemed like a club in disarray for much of the season while Mcleish’s men are still thought of as a fairly well oiled machine.
United meanwhile remain unbeaten this season, but have taken only nine points from a possible twenty one on the road. United haven’t lost to Birmingham in their last 23 meetings, and seem to be nearing their best as the New Year approaches. Obviously as soon as the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve United transform into a juggernaut of free flowing, free scoring football that lasts until May and it seems this could be the toughest game they will face prior to this marvellous occurrence.
Ones to watch
Birmingham are one of the few Premier League teams that are genuinely a team unit with very few standout ‘stars.’ Alex McLeish has moulded a squad that’s strength often lies in its ability to support one another and work as a real team. Unlike some teams near the bottom, where it’s a case of relying on Rodellaga or Carlton Cole or Dempsey to have a good day to provide the points, Birmingham seem to have a lack of ‘stars’ but an abundance of quality, hardworking players.
So which players should United be wary of or need to keep quiet/ overcome to turn what looks like a certain draw into a definite win?
Liam Ridgewell has performed well at both ends of the pitch for Birmingham, scoring three goals and helping to keep six clean sheets. He has constructed a solid partnership with fellow centre back Scott Dann and so whoever plays up front or indeed at the back for United will have to work hard to get the better of this man.
Former United stopper/blunderer Ben Foster has produced a number of excellent displays that United fans always knew he was capable of, and has shown that he still loves United by keeping out City and Chelsea in the same week. The major errors he became famous for at Old Trafford seem to occur far less frequently and on current form you could argue that he is pushing Joe Hart very hard for the England no. 1 jersey.
Another player who has stood out is former Aston Villa midfielder Craig Gardner, who is also the club’s top scorer with four goals. This makes him the man to watch from United’s point of view as Birmingham’s inconsistent strike force shouldn’t represent much of a problem to the defence, even if Fergie decides to rest Rio or Vidic. Birmingham’s most distinguished player, Alexander Hleb could return after a month out with a hamstring injury, otherwise they are at full strength and fully rested after their match with Everton was postponed.
Naming a possible starting 11 for Tuesday’s game is anyone’s guess, as Fergie will surely rest one or two from the Boxing Day win over Sunderland. Darren Fletcher and Nani will most likely come into the team having missed this game, while the only definite absentee will be Park Ji Sung who has left us for several weeks to captain his country in the Aldi Cup. Over-30’s Rio and Giggs may struggle to play two games in the space of three days, and Fergie may use this match as another chance to give The Little Pea more football after mostly watching from the bench as Berba hit 7 in 3 games and Rooney continued his ‘comeback.’
Anderson has recently shown that his pie-eating days are behind him, and given he was taken off after an hour on Boxing Day could indicate that Fergie is prepared to unleash him again on Birmingham. However given the fact that United will play 4 games in the space of 8 days, changes are certain and so Fergie may choose to fully utilise his large squad and give games to the likes of Obertan, Smalling or even Jonny Evans.
With the weather cold enough to make even fat Newcastle fans keep their tops on it was scarf and hat time- although definitely not snood- at Old Trafford as United took on Sunderland.
Boxing Day fixtures are usually happy affairs for United with the Sir Alex Ferguson’s men taking all three points in the last seven games they’ve played on December 26th.
In fact if we’re going to go all stat-crazy then it’s worth mentioning United have won a staggering 15 of their last 16 boxing day games, so Christmas hangovers are a thing of the past at Old Trafford.
With the in-form Danny Welbeck and midfield driving force Lee Cattermole both unavailable for the Mackems it was a game, if we’re honest you’d always fancy United to win.
United have been inspired at Old Trafford this season, and went into the game on the back of five straight home wins in the EPL, while Sunderland had only won one game on the road- the awesome 3-0 demolition of Chelsea.
With Nani and Scholes out, Fergie went with a midfield of Giggs, Anderson, Carrick and Park with Rooney and Berbatov up front. The back five of VDS, Rafael, Vidic, Rio and Evra is without doubt United’s strongest and Sunderland were always going to struggle to penetrate it.
So what did we learn from United’s comfortable 2-0 victory over Sunderland, other than it’s now so cold even Mickey Phelan has stopped wearing shorts and Anton Ferdinand must have nightmares about trips to Old Trafford?
1. Anderson is the greatest player in the history of world football. Okay so I may be doing a bit of Gareth Bale type over-exaggerating but the stocky Brazilian is fast becoming the name on every United fans lips.
The term ‘barnstorming performance’ was in danger of becoming the exclusive property of Darren Fletcher but such has been Anderson’s displays of late, that he’s now overtaken Fletcher as the one midfielder who has to start. Against Sunderland he picked up where he left off against Arsenal and Blackburn- dominating the midfield with tough tackles, sublime passes and driving runs. If a shot that hit the bar had of gone in then it would have been a 10/10 performance rather than a 9/10 one.
The looking the one way and passing another which he first treated Old Trafford to in the 4-0 demolition of Arsenal a few years ago, was used with aplomb to set up United’s second goal and is now number one in the list of tricks being tried in the playgrounds of Manchester. Probably.
If Anderson carries on like this we’ll have to change the dog’s name from Wazza to Ando, as like Chicharito at the beginning of the season, Anderson is getting everyone at Old Trafford buzzing and could well hold the key to a 19th title.
2. Rafael. Do I need to say more? It seems every time I write one of these articles, Rafael’s greatness is mentioned and it’s happened again. The other Brazilian in United’s line-up is having the season we all knew he could do as unlike some United youngsters, nearly every fan I spoke to at the start of the season believed he was good enough to make it. Going forward Rafael is Evra-esque and his defensive game, while not perfect has come on in spades.
When Patrice Evra is in danger of being the second best full back on the pitch then it’s quite possible I’ve died and gone to heaven.
Rafael is now United’s right back, no matter how much I love Wes Brown, the time for change is over. Rafael Da Silva is the one.
Poor Phillip Bardsley must’ve felt like he’d entered the seventh circle of hell as both Park and Rafael gave the poor Salfordian no respite down United’s right side.
When he went down and signalled for the physio, 70 odd thousand fans held their breath as he’s one player United need not just in the busy Christmas period but for the rest of the season.
3. Park is going to be missed. Remember the energy of the 2007/08 side when the likes of Rooney, a certain Argentinean and Owen Hargreaves covered so much of the pitch it was often as though United had an extra man? Watching Ji Sung Park giving his all over the last few weeks has reminded me of that time- especially when he’s backed up by Rafael. Park has recovered from his World Cup hangover to become one of United’s most impressive players. It’s not just energy the South Korean brings but also important goals, and an underrated high level of skill. Park has the ability to get himself out of trouble with quick feet when needed and is always an option for someone looking for a red shirt to pass to.
Against Sunderland Park was his usual energetic self whose link up play with Rooney and Berbatov was excellent. He may not have the skill of a Nani or the pace of a Valencia but that shouldn’t detract from the fact he’s still a world class player.
The seven games without Park, United potentially face when he goes to the Aldi Cup will be a lot more difficult without him in the side.
4. Giggs will -still- tear you apart. Someone needs to check Ryan Giggs’s birth certificate- and no I’m not talking about the drivel City fans used to sing. The reason I think it’s time to check the Welshman’s date of birth is that there’s simply no way he can be 37 years old. Giggs has been one of United’s best players this season and was at his awe-inspiring best against Sunderland.
Running at defenders, using his wide range of skills and picking out sumptuous passes, Giggs was at his very best and gave everyone a reminder of just how much he’s going to be missed when he finally retires.
If Giggs carries on in this vein though, he’ll probably be hitting his best form in 2019 when he’s 45 so there’s no need to panic just yet.
5. Berbatov and Rooney are becoming unstoppable. Although Rooney may only have one league goal this season, there’s no denying that he’s hitting top form performance wise. Wazza looks like the player that helped Ronaldo bag over 40 goals in a season, dropping deep when needs be, leading the line when called upon and showing the sort of selflessness you’d associate with Santa Claus. Had a chip that went just wide of Craig Gordon’s goal ended up in the back of the net then Rooney would have been grabbing all the headlines after the Sunderland game.
As it is an assist for Berbatov’s first goal and an all round excellent performance had many fans and pundits alike noting that Rooney’s back to his best and it’s only a matter of time before he starts scoring.
If I was either Ben Foster or Scott Carson, I’d be very, very worried. As for his strike partner despite being dropped for the Arsenal game, top scorer Berbatov isn’t prone to sulking or tantrum throwing like some of his counterparts across the city. The Bulgarian showed that given the right service and encouragement he’s as deadly as any in the game. Rooney may still be United’s talisman but with 13 league goals, Berbatov is the man most defences are struggling to cope with.
With a heavy Christmas schedule on the horizon for all Premier League teams although it’s nowhere near ‘squeaky bum’ time, the next week or so could well decide the title race.
Although titles aren’t, at least historically, decided in December, with four games in nine days, there’s no denying that it’s a crucial part of the season which could potentially see United obtain a commanding lead.
Sir Alex Ferguson has set his team a target of being top by the end of the Christmas fixtures on January 4th.
Sir Alex stated: “My aim is to try and be top by January 4.
“By that time, the top of the league will have taken shape.
“Maybe, because of the weather, it is difficult to think everyone will have four games. But if we do, and we are top, we will have done well.”
With home games against Sunderland and Stoke and away fixtures to WBA and Birmingham, all United’s festive matches fall under the ‘tricky’ category but there’s no reason why we can’t win all of them.
While a trip to St. Andrews has draw written all over it for practically any club, except Chelsea who lost of course, if United were to take ten points from a possible 12 then it would still be a good return and could well see United stay on top of the EPL.
There’s no doubt though if United are to enjoy a productive New Year, then some of the fringe members of the squad are going to have to prove their worth and this is where United could hold an advantage over their rivals.
The United squad is one of the strongest in the league, with each position having at least two internationals vying for it. Take the strikers for example, with Rooney, Berbatov, Chicharito, the recently returned Michael Owen not to mention Kiko Macheda all available for selection.
Having five strikers is no use to anyone if they’re not of a high standard but all of United’s front men could arguably walk into nearly any Premier League side. Only Macheda who’s still a long way from the finished article and Owen who’s fitness still remains doubtful have question marks over whether they could start for the Reds.
The midfield is one area many United fans were hoping Sir Alex would strengthen in the Summer, with Rafael Van Der Vaart and Mesut Ozil being mentioned so much by many Reds, I actually thought we’d signed them both at one point.
While I still have my worries as to whether the current central midfield has enough truly world class players in it to take on the likes of Barcelona, there’s still enough quality to overcome most teams. Fletcher, Carrick and Anderson are on their day, capable of dominating any game. There’s also Ryan Giggs who can be deployed in a more central area if needs be. With Park, who’s available for the Sunderland game before he departs for the Aldi cup, Nani, Obertan and Bebe not to mention Giggs, then there’s enough players to cover the wide positions certainly against the likes of WBA and Stoke.
Another concern surrounding United’s starting XI is in the central defensive positions, mainly the absence of either Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic. While Chris Smalling has exceeded many expectations, Jonny Evans has had something of a torrid time of late and can no longer be trusted on current form. Admittedly the best way to help the youngster get over it may be to throw him back in the mix- but he’s looked so out of sorts lately I’d actually prefer to see either Smalling or Brown replace Rio or Vidic if one of them is rested.
United look much frailer at the back when Ferdinand isn’t there, I’d even go as far as saying he’s more important to the defence than Vidic- although only just. Despite Vidic wearing the captain’s armband, Rio is the true organiser at the back and he does a job that’s second to none in marshalling his defensive troops.
As for the full back positions, well with Evra the Da Silva twins, not to mention Brown and O’Shea, there’s enough there to cope with the fixture congestion- who knows Fergie may even give Gary Neville his 500th League game, although I’m not to sure now is the time for nostalgic generosity.
Things aren’t looking quite as rosy at United’s rivals; Chelsea skipper- the lovable -John Terry recently questioned whether his side have the strength in depth to cope with the busy Christmas period.
Terry said: “In the past we had a big squad and could rotate and put other players in, we don’t have that now, we have quite a young squad and it’s time for everyone to stay together like we always will.”
Carlo Ancelotti has been quick to play down Terry’s statement- shades of Capello in South Africa- claiming the Chelsea squad is in fine shape. The results speak for themselves and no wins in the last five games, gives credence to Terry’s observations.
Arsenal- Chelsea’s opponents on Monday- have their own problems to contend with- none of which have been helped by the more vociferous among United ranks. Arsene Wenger was quick to rubbish Nani’s recent claim that it was only Chelsea and United involved in the title race. Only a week earlier it was Evra upsetting everyone at the Emirates by claiming Arsenal were a “training centre” with few title credentials. Wenger would do well to worry about the comments of his own players before worrying about those coming from Old Trafford.
Future Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas claimed his team were ‘scared’ following their recent defeat at Old Trafford and with Chelsea winning the last five contests against the Gunners, scared is the last thing Arsenal can afford to be.
The only other real title contenders are our friends from M11, who have tricky trips away to both St James’s Park and the Emirates over the next 11 days. City seem like a club in disarray despite being in third place. With the on/off Carlos Tevez saga, Balotelli doing his best to endear himself to everyone in world football and the recent home defeat against Everton, all is not well in the house that Sheikh Mansour’s money built.
The fact that Arsenal play both Chelsea and City means that at least one of them are guaranteed to drop points over Christmas and with a bit of luck it might even be all of them.
The notion that there are no easy games in the Premier League anymore may well be true, but there are ‘easier’ games and the four United have over Christmas would certainly fall into that category.
With the United squad in fairly decent shape- bar long-term victims Valencia, Hargreaves and a short-term problem to Paul Scholes, a set of winnable fixtures and good recent form, there’s every reason to hope this could be a very merry Christmas at Old Trafford.
United face Sunderland on boxing day in a game that can no longer be taken for granted as an easy fixture. Sunderland currently lying in sixth place in the Premier League have already taken two points off United at the Stadium of Light being one of only two teams in the EPL to prevent the Reds from scoring- the other being the bitters of course.
Steve Bruce has made some inspired signings -both permanent and on loan and must be commended for getting the best out of players some may have even doubted were Premier League quality.
Take Titus Bramble for example, many scoffed when the former United skipper signed the defender for a mere one million pounds- some harsh critics labelling it one million too much, but Bramble has been in good form playing his part in helping the Black Cats into the top six.
Bruce has also helped get the best out of Anton Ferdinand who’s career seemed to be heading on downward trajectory this time last year.
There’s also the two Mancunian loan signings of Nedum Onohua and Danny Welbeck who’ve somehow catapulted themselves into the England reckoning in a matter of weeks. Welbeck in particular has looked like one of the best strikers in the Premier League, while new signing Asomoah Gyan has slotted into the Sunderland side almost as easily.
The problem for Sunderland has been consistency- just take a look at their away record for proof -one win on the road- coming rather bizarrely at Stamford Bridge, while Wolves and West Brom have beaten them, as for Newcastle, well for the sake of decency lets not even mention it. Okay why not -they got trounced 5-1!
Sunderland may have only one win away from home but they’ve also grabbed useful points at White Hart Lane, Anfield, Craven Cottage and Ewood Park. It’s safe to say if you’re a betting man Sunderland away is not the first game you’d be looking to put on your accumulator.
Last season’s game saw the sides draw 2-2 as Darren Bent stunned United with a long range finish early on, while Berbatov equalised with a sublime overhead kick. Then Ben Foster did his best to put the final nail in his Old Trafford career by allowing Kenwyne Jones to beat him to what should have been a fairly routine punch-out.
United however rallied, aided by a Kieron Richardson sending off, and a wayward Evra shot found its way into the back of the Sunderland net via a wicked deflection off Anton Ferdinand- cue lots of camera shots of the on looking Rio trying to look sympathetic yet pleased.
So what can United expect from such an unpredictable team? The key to victory could well be decided by three head-to-head battles, although with a tricky away trip to Birmingham only two days after Sunderland’s visit, it’s difficult to predict just what team Sir Alex will go with.
Ones to watch /key battles
Darren Bent – With five goals in the last six games Danny Welbeck has been Sunderland’s most prolific player, however due to his status as a Manchester United player he won’t be lining up against the Reds so it will no doubt be left to Bent to spearhead the Mackem’s attack. Bent shouldn’t be too worried though as with 24 League goals last season and seven this season the occasional England striker is one of the Premier League;s most consistent scorers.
With Asomoah Gyan also banging in goals this season Rio and Vidic can expect a busy afternoon. Despite it being unlikely that Rio can play two games in four days, I’d be highly surprised if Sir Alex doesn’t pick his two best central defenders to cope with such a lethal Sunderland attack.
Jordan Henderson- With Lee Cattermole suspended- again- the pressure will be on Henderson to try and put his mark on the middle of the park. It’s been a stratospheric rise for the youngster going from almost unheard of, to England International and proposed United target in a matter of months. While he wont be winning any beauty contests, there’s no doubt that the 21 year-old may well be heading for greener pastures if he keeps up his impressive displays.
Henderson reminds me a little of Michael Carrick and while I don’t expect them to go head-to-head as such- I imagine either Fletcher or Anderson will be given the task of keeping Henderson quiet- I expect Carrick to give the young upstart a lesson in passing.
Craig Gordon- Unless you’re Amish – in which case how the hell are you reading this?- you can’t fail to have seen the greatest save in the history of Association Football which took place in the recent Sunderland game against Bolton. Gordon endured a difficult time when he first arrived in the North East not helped by a over-inflated £9 million price tag and a shoddy defence in front of him. Now though the £9 million Roy Keane spent on the Scottish stopper looks like a bargain. With Wayne Rooney searching for his first goal from open play since 1987, if Wazza is going to get on the score sheet he’s going to have to have his finishing boots on to beat Gordon. If Berbatov starts then he’s going to need a Blackburn-type performance to add to his eleven goals this season.
With two wins, two draws and a loss in their last five games, Sunderland are hardly in top form but as they shown at Stamford Bridge and in this fixture last season a below par performance by United could well be exploited.
United enter this fixture in good form having won three and drawn two of their last five EPL games, with all three wins coming at Old Trafford. With the in-form Ji Sung Park due to depart for the Aldi cup after the game, there’s no doubt he’ll not only start but will be eager to remind Sir Alex not to forget him while he’s away. Although Sunderland are looking good, this is a game that United should win- especially in the absence of Welbeck and Cattermole.
It’s all becoming a bit predictable whenever United have faced Arsenal in recent years. Ji Sung Park will get a goal, Arsenal will lose the midfield battle, in fact it’s become such a walkover in that department for United that the term ‘battle’ is somewhat misleading.
United’s defence will cope admirably with whatever’s thrown their way and Wayne Rooney will successfully lead the line all by his lonesome. Oh and United will win. Arsene Wenger entered the post match press conference with a weariness to him that must come from the frustration of having to explain why his team cannot make the step up and beat the ‘top two.’ In fact when one journalist asked him that very question – even going as far as to say “thrashed by Chelsea” Wenger looked ready to jump over the microphones and batter him. Instead the Arsenal manager simply retorted- after a long pause and the sort of stare that would make many men apologise for such an incredulous question and ask him one about his glorious ‘Invincibles’ side instead- “you know about football, I don’t need to tell you, you know it all.”
However despite Wenger blaming the football pitch for the latest loss to his old rival, there can be no denying that Arsenal’s record of one win in ten against United, tells you that there’s a reason the Gunners haven’t won the title in six years.
So what did we learn from last night’s game other than some people are willing to be told what to chant while others aren’t? Here’s five things I picked up:
1. Anderson is finally looking like the player United bought from Porto. As soon as Mr Luis de Abreu Oliveira stormed up, chest puffed out in Moscow and blasted the ball past Petr Cech, nearly every United knew what there’d been signs of during that season- Anderson was made for Manchester United. Yet during the last two seasons question marks have been raised as to whether Anderson would ever make the grade. There’d been stories of falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson and rumours that the Brazilian would actually be heading for the Old Trafford exit door. Anderson, picked up from where he’d left off against Blackburn last night with a commanding performance that seemed to dominate the game.
Anderson was simply awesome last night- creating chances, breaking down Arsenal and moving the ball forward with the confidence you’d expect from a Brazilian footballer. Before the game all the talk was of Samir Nasri and whether Cesc Fabregas would start, but after the game all the talk was of the brilliance of the Brazilian.
2. Rio Ferdinand is the difference between 1st and 2nd. Last season the England skipper managed just 12 league games as United missed out on the title by a point- remember that John Terry. This season he’s already managed almost as many and its no coincidence United are top of the league and looking odds on to win back “their trophy”. All the United defence were immense last night and any one of them could have staked a claim for man of the match.
For me though Ferdinand was worth his accolade, Nemanja Vidic may wear the armband but the true leader on the pitch was Ferdinand who on his day is still the best defender in the business.
3. The press don’t know anything. According to reports that I’ve read over the past few weeks, then the likes of Anderson, Ji Sung Park and Michael Carrick are all going to be sold to an alien space monkey from the planet Dairy Lea- okay so I made that last bit up. It seems that Fergie was set for a clear out and the aforementioned trio were top of the ebay list. The only problem is no one bothered to tell Fergie of his imminent sale and it now looks about as likely as Carlos Tevez still being at Manchester City next season. Anderson, Carrick and Park have played important roles in these past few weeks and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
4. Rafael is the right right back. I’ve said it so many times its becoming tedious but I’ll say it again, it’s time to let Rafael Da Silva have the right back slot full time. I’m a big fan of Wes Brown and would love to see Gary Neville make his 400th league appearance this season, but there’s no reason not to play the young Brazilian week in week out. He’s used in the big games so why not the smaller ones? Rafael has been a real breath of fresh air this season, fitting into the defence with ease, marking the greatest player in the history of world football out of the game and bombing forward and supporting the attack like a man possessed. There’s always been the feeling that if United could find an equal equivalent to Patrice Evra on the right side then the defence would be perfect. He may not quite be up to Evra’s standards yet, but there’s no denying Rafael is gradually getting there.
5. Wayne Rooney is back to his best. What? He missed a penalty, he hasn’t scored from open play since 1997, he’s scouse. There can be many reasons why not everyone would agree that ‘r Wazza is back to his optimum performance level but I actually believe he’s practically there. The penalty miss aside Rooney was superb last night and if you cast your mind back to the same fixture last year, when everyone was drooling over him, he played just as well last night as he did then. It doesn’t matter who’s scoring for United as long as someone is and no one knows that better than Rooney. The goals will come, it’s inevitable, but in the mean time the performances have been sublime. Last night saw Rooney picking out some wonderful passes, leading the line well and generally looking like one of the world’s best strikers.
The ball from his penalty kick may still be circling the earth’s orbit but Rooney’s contribution last night was everything you could want from him.
Footballers and rap songs are a true match made in hell, going together like Sepp Blatter and the English press. If you’re ever feeling down then putting on Fog on the Tyne by Gazza is sure to have you reaching for the revolver. There’s nothing more cringe worthy than your favourite winger suddenly appearing on MTV “spitting bars” and making songs so bad with rhymes so poor they make N-Dubz look Shakespearean.
It hasn’t just been the ‘rapping’ generation that’s had to endure footballers pretending to be ‘music artists’, any one old enough to remember Manchester City’s last trophy win will tell you that there were some really p*ss poor efforts that the Top of the Pops generation to endure. However as hip hop, r nb and good old fashioned rap have become the musical zeitgeist, footballers have been quick to jump on the bandwagon. There’s also the advantage that you don’t have to be a good singer or be able to hold a tune to record a ‘rap’ song.
So which footballer rap songs have been the worst? Well there’s certainly enough to choose from and thanks to the joys of youtube all of them are easily accessible just in case you feel like torturing the bloke you’ve got tied up in your garage a little bit more.
Here’s my choice for the worst five footballer rap performances in the history of the universe.
5. Asomoah Gyan- African Girls. Before he was scoring and missing penalties for Ghana and becoming part of the Premier League’s most feared strike trio, Gyan inflicted this pile of festering waste on the music world. Its a display of rapping so bad it probably tempted Vanilla Ice to come out of retirement.
4. Paul “Gazza” Gascoigne – Fog on the Tyne. There’s not many men that could rap about sausage rolls- in between munching them no doubt- whilst wearing a multitude of shell suits and performing a dance routine so complex it borders on gymnastics. Gazza delivers his lines like a man in the job center who’s been forced to sing for his giro- which is ironically enough to cover the cost of this video.
3. Liverpool FC – The Anfield Rap. “We’ve got more stars than the cast of Dallas, got more trophies than Buckingham Palace..” Unfortunately the Liverpool players also had less singing talent than Milli Vanilli. Many teams produce rubbish cup final songs but few are as bad this. Only John Barnes would redeem himself musically by rapping on New Order’s World in Motion two years later, thankfully the rest of the squad didn’t bother trying to.
2. Andy Cole – Outstanding. Maybe by putting the word ‘Outstanding’ on the CD cover the music men thought people may think it was a review and buy this. Not only does Cole display the rapping ability of a middle aged pensioner from the cotswolds- recovering from a stroke- his lyrics plumb the sort of depths you’d associate with a drunken nursery rhyme. “United forever whatever the weather”- is a personal favourite. Cole may have been a great goalscorer but this song is the nadir of his professional career- even more than the stint at Wastelands.
1. Ian Wright – Do the Right Thing. This wouldn’t have topped the list if it wasn’t for one reason, while all the footballers on here are either having a laugh or showing a startling indifference to it all, Wright genuinely believes he’s the b*llocks. Technically he sings more than raps- in fact his rapping is merely speaking a few sentences- but technically this should have been banned for offensiveness anyway due to how bad it is. Wright was probably a little bit miffed this failed to reach the top ten, or twenty, or thirty, or forty, while the rest of us were shocked it actually reached 43- if you bought this-shame on you.