Archive for the 'Green and Gold' Category

21
Oct
10

Deconstructing Rooney’s Statement

Rooney writes out another statement regarding the need for lower carbon emissions

Rooney writes out another statement regarding the need for lower carbon emissions

Wayne Rooney’s statement was delivered to the world’s press yesterday with the sort of fanfare usually reserved for general election results or the announcement of who’s been voted off the Xfactor. Within minutes of Rooney releasing his excuse, sorry, reason for wanting to leave Manchester United, millions of United fans around the world were analysing every word, sentence and nuance to see what exactly was going on in the mind of the player formerly known as a fan’s favourite.

While it’s quite obvious Rooney didn’t sit down in front of his Macbook and write the statement himself before emailing it to the press, it’s obviously the crux of why he wants to leave- at least in public.

So what did Rooney’s statement tell us? Well he wants to leave that much is certain but are the reasons for him leaving valid? Looking over the statement fully, it seems as though Rooney’s memory and argument is just a tad selective to say the least.

It begins…..

 
 “I met with David Gill last week and he did not give me any of the assurances I was seeking about the future squad.
I then told him that I would not be signing a new contract.
I was interested to hear what Sir Alex had to say yesterday and surprised by some of it.
It is absolutely true, as he said, that my agent and I have had a number of meetings with the club about a new contract. During those meetings in August I asked for assurances about the continued ability of the club to attract the top players in the world.
   Here seems to be the main argument, in fact you could say it’s the only argument Rooney is making, that United cannot continue to attract the top players. Well that would indicate that in the past United have attracted the world’s top players, yet is this the case?

Looking back over the past six years, since Rooney joined United, the players who’ve come to Old Trafford have not always been the best in the World, but have more often than not grown into that bracket. Some of United’s best signings during this period have not necessarily been ‘stars’ as such-although they certainly are now.

Fergie’s most astute signings in the period since Rooney joined United were arguably Edwin Van Der Sar, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic who went to Old Trafford for a combined fee of around £14.5 million and United had little competition for their signatures.
United have spent big money on the likes of Anderson, Nani, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and of course Dimitar Berbatov and there’s no denying that these players were all sought after but were they considered among the ‘top players in the world’?

Anderson and Nani were seen as potential future stars, while Carrick was a highly thought of England fringe type midfielder whose £18.6 million fee left many feeling United had overpaid slightly. As for Hargreaves, he certainly was considered a top midfielder but even before he went to United, his injury problems were well documented. As for Berbatov, he was a shining star in the Premier League and the noisy neighbours were certainly interested, but it’s questionable as to whether he was really considered one of the world’s top strikers. He was probably a rung below the likes of Rooney, David Villa, Samuel Eto’o and Fernando Torres as being one of the truly top strikers in world football. Of course there was also a certain gentleman from Argentina who arrived, but the fact he was signed on a loan deal from West Ham or whoever the fook owned him, speaks volumes as to his standing in world football at the time.

The point I’m making is that since Rooney’s arrival United’s signings have often been ones that will grow in time, or players who aren’t quite attracting the rest of Europe’s elite but are still capable of doing a good job. Rooney’s argument that he wants to leave Old Trafford because he doesn’t feel the club will ‘continue to attract the ‘top players in the world’ is slightly flawed as United often don’t really go for the very top players.

Fergie has been bitten once with Juan Sebastian Veron who was considered one of the world’s best midfielders and came with a price tag that seemed to underline that fact to the tune of £29.1 million. However Veron’s time at Old Trafford was something of a disaster and he ended up leaving for just over half that fee, mainly due to Chelsea’s reckless spending in the early phase of the Abramovich era.

When Rooney claims its anxieties over the ability of the club to attract the world’s top players which is making him leave, it’s as though he wants Fergie to change his whole transfer policy and suddenly start bidding for big name players. Let’s not forget even a certain Cristiano Ronaldo was not a real star when he arrived at United- in fact I along with more than a few other fans were disappointed when we learnt it wasn’t the man now known as ‘Fat Ronaldo’ that was signing.

If Fergie had gone out last summer and spent £40 million on the likes of Joleon Lescott and Emannuel Adebayor would that have convinced Rooney of United’s ambition? Perhaps a £45 million bid for Zlatan Imbrahimovic would have made the scouse striker stay. The only problem with any of those signings is they’d arguably not improve United’s team one iota and been a complete waste of money, but hey at least it shows ambition.

To be fair to Rooney he’s actually not the first talismanic striker to leave Old Trafford due to a percieved lack of ambition by the club in regards to transfers.
Believe it or not Eric “The King” Cantona actually cited the same reason as part of his decision to retire. This is an extract from Fergie’s book Managing My Life:

 
 
“He [Cantona] was totally straightforward with me. He did want to finish….When I asked him again why he felt that way, he was not as vague as he had been previously and specified two recent trends at Old Trafford that had left him disillusioned. He said he felt he had become a pawn of Manchester United’s merchandising department and that he was not going to accept such treatment any longer. His second complaint was that United were not ambitious enough in the purchase of players. I had a lot of sympathy with him on both counts.” 
Of course there’s a world of difference between Eric’s retirement and Rooney’s desire to leave for greener pastures. After all Cantona wasn’t seeking more money elsewhere, or a club with more ambition, he’d more or less had enough of football and the lack of signing top players was simply one of his reasons. The fact Fergie sympathised said it all, at that time -1997- United hadn’t been ambitious enough in the transfer market. However the signings of Jaap Stam and Dwight Yorke, less than a year later would certainly address that issue.

The reason I mention Cantona’s comment is because it’s worth noting that Rooney hasn’t been the only one who’s had thoughts like that while being United’s star player. However, Cantona was leaving football altogether and was at a club that hadn’t won the CL twice in the past 11 years not to mention the league 11 times out of 18. There’s similarities between the two statements but there’s also a lot of differences, especially in the context of the times they were made.

The final part of Rooney’s statement, arguably is the most contradictory.

 
 I have never had anything but complete respect for MUFC. How could I not have done, given its fantastic history and especially the last six years in which I have been lucky to play a part?
For me it’s all about winning trophies – as the club has always done under Sir Alex. Because of that I think the questions I was asking were justified.
Despite recent difficulties, I know I will always owe Sir Alex Ferguson a huge debt. He is a great manager and mentor who has helped and supported me from the day he signed me from Everton when I was only 18.
For Manchester United’s sake I wish he could go on forever because he’s a one-off and a genius.”
  

If Fergie’s a genius and United have always won trophies under him, then why does Rooney want to leave? Fergie shows no signs of retiring for at least the next few years and as he’s stated himself his health is fine. Had Fergie announced he was retiring at the end of this season or even the next one, Rooney’s statement would make sense, but he hasn’t so it doesn’t.

Rooney’s statement has been seen by some as simply yet another reason why the Glazer family have to be removed, after all, it’s surely the debt they saddled the club with that’s caused Rooney to believe the club can no longer compete. However, while the debt and the interest are a joke, Rooney seems to have forgotten that United are not usually ones for making record-breaking bids for the world’s top stars.
Although, Fergie has been willing to splash that sort of cash on occasion- Rio Ferdinand, Rooney himself, it’s been extremely rare and not happened at all of late.

Whether more will come to light as to how much wages and signing-on fee have dictated remains to be seen but Rooney’s argument that United lack the ability to attract top players, seems a little hollow.
United lacking ambition? As Fergie succinctly put it last night following United Champion’s League win:

“Have I not won 30 trophies?”

 

 

 
12
Aug
10

Ten Things United Must Do To Win Back ‘Our Trophy’

Will we be seeing scenes like this at OT come May?

Will we be seeing scenes like this at OT come May?

With last season’s title race going right down to the wire with Chelsea edging it over Manchester United by a single point every game counted towards the title. This summer has seen a distinct lack of major transfer activity from either club with Chelsea having something if a mini-exodus and bringing in only Yossi Banayoun, while United have made two additions, in Chris Smalling and a certain diminutive Mexican who’s already grabbed a few headlines with the most bizarre Wembley goal since Emile Heskey’s last one. The question is are the new signings enough to bring the trophy back to Old Trafford, just what do United need to do to wrestle the title back from West London and is Dimitar Berbatov ever going to revert back to his headband? Here’s a list of ten things which need to happen for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men to overtake Liverpool in the title winning stakes.

1. More goals from midfield. While many a United fan is quick to point out the deficiencies of Berbatov and even Ferguson has lamented the injury to Michael Owen that robbed United of his services for the business end of the season, the fact remains the midfield did not score nearly enough goals last season. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Nani managed 24 league goals between them, the same amount that Frank Lampard scored. While certain players –Fletcher for example- are not in the side to score goals, while Giggs and Scholes can hardly be expected to hit double figures at their age- it is still obvious United need more goals coming from the midfield department. If Rooney continues to operate as a lone striker –as he did for much of last season- then someone behind him needs to step up. Personally I’d like to see Nani and Valencia weighing in with a few more this time round.

2. A bit more stability in the starting XI. I fully understand that with United chasing honours on four fronts, the need for a large squad and a bit of rotation but surely it’s time for a little moderation. It seems every week there’s a new right back, its 4-5-1 then it’s 4-4-2, Berbatov starts, grabs a goal, then is dropped for the next game, Anderson’s in, then he’s out again, ditto Ji Sung Park. Admittedly injuries and the ages of certain players have to dictate Fergie’s thinking and the days of the man on the street naming the Saturday’s starting XI are long gone. However it could be time to give some players more than just one game in every three, and try and get a bit more cohesion going between certain ones. I’ve said it before and it may sound crazy but unless Rio Ferdinand can get back to proper full fitness, I’d make Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic my starting centre backs for every game. Stability has often been the key to United’s success and maybe a bit more is needed.

3. Give youth a chance. With Tom Cleverly not going out on loan, and the Da Silva twins and Macheda getting a chance both at the end of last season and in this pre-season then could we now see a few youngsters starting more than just the Carling Cup games? Hopefully yes. If United are not going to buy Mesut Ozil- to be honest I don’t think they will- then why not give either Darron Gibson or Cleverly the chance to have a run in the side. After all despite what a certain Scottish pundit may have claimed you can win things with kids. United have bags of experience in every department so throwing one or two youngsters into the mix shouldn’t lead to disaster and what better way for a developing player to learn than to play alongside the likes of Scholes, Giggs or Rooney.

4. Darren Fletcher to raise his game. At first this may seem blasphemous, after all ‘super Daz’ was one of United’s best performers last season, putting in the sort of barnstorming displays you’d associate with Roy Keane. However the reason I think he should raise his game is simple- because he can. While there’s no denying against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, Fletcher bosses the midfield so much he even had Arsene Wenger complaining of his ‘anti-football’- so basically tackling people then- but against lesser opposition Fletcher can occasionally be a little less influential. I know it seems harsh to criticise such a dedicated player but let’s be brutally honest, there are times when his passing can go awry a little too often, and despite what I said earlier about him not being in the side to score goals that doesn’t mean he can’t. His brace against City and his superb volley – or should that be superlative strike- in the home game against Everton show that Fletcher knows where the goal is. I know he’s quality I just feel that if he were to perform against the likes of Sunderland as he does against the top teams, he could well be the difference between second and first.

5. Michael Carrick. This one doesn’t need a Fletcher-type apology or explanation, it’s shockingly simple. He’s got to start performing consistently. Carrick’s been at Old Trafford for four seasons now yet amazingly the jury still seems to be out on him. Three title winning campaigns would be enough to put most players in the pantheon of club legends but Carrick has a knack for going missing when he’s needed most and sometimes making costly errors. The games against Wolves away and Liverpool and Bayern Munich at home were cases in point. While Carrick’s mistakes in the first two may have been academic his failure to deal with the danger in the Champion’s League, then getting caught dilly-dallying on the ball, cost United two goals, and to some critics the tie. While I think there was more to it than just Carrick, the fact that he was dropped from the United side after his similar blunder gifted Liverpool an early Old Trafford lead, may mean that Fergie is running out of patience with a player who should now be hitting his peak not going backwards. If he doesn’t perform well at the beginning of the campaign, I feel it’s time to give someone else a chance.

6. Beat their title rivals. Ok this may sound like the sort of obvious statement you would associate with David Pleat but it’s true. The past two seasons have seen United lose home and away to their nearest rivals. In 2008-09 they got away with it mainly due the fact that by the time Liverpool came to Old Trafford and won 4-1, the title race was all but over. Last season however, even a draw in either game against Chelsea would have been enough to see United win the title for a record breaking nineteenth time but it wasn’t to be. United have usually performed well against their title rivals and there’s no doubt that a man has proud as Ferguson will be looking to regain that tradition this season. Winning against your rivals doesn’t just give you a points advantage it can often help psychologically convince you that you’re the better team and it’s time United took the edge on both counts.

7. Believe the hype and give Chicharito a proper run. I’ve tried not to get over excited about Javier Hernandez, but it’s been about as difficult as liking Ashley Cole as the ‘Little Pea’ shone in both the World Cup and United’s pre-season. Whether he’s banging in screamers against Argentina or using his teeth in the Community Shield, it’s obvious that he’s class and rather than wrapping him up in cotton wool or saving him for special occasions like the nice china, Fergie should unleash him and let him stake a claim for a regular starting place. He’s been compared to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, which is a bit unfair, but if he is going to be another ‘baby-faced assassin’ then he should at the very least be an obligatory substitute coming on after 60 minutes in every game.

8. Improve the atmosphere at Old Trafford. Whether United have money or not chanting and singing is still free- mind you give it time and they’ll probably charge us- so there’s no excuses for having a lack of noise at Old Trafford. United still have the highest attendance in the League, yet at times away fans of a mere few thousand are out-singing 70-odd thousand Reds. ‘We want Glazers out’ is one chant that seems to be heard without any problems but it’s hardly likely to motivate the team. While I’m not saying that shouldn’t be sung, I’m merely stating that the fact remains personally I’ve been a bit embarrassed by the lack of atmosphere at OT at times and think a bit more noise wouldn’t go amiss. United may have only dropped eight home points last season, but if they can get the sort of atmosphere you hear against City going every week, then there’s every reason to feel they won’t drop any. This isn’t something the club should be culpable for, it’s up to the fans and don’t worry I’ve brought plenty of vuvuzelas back from South Africa so message me and I’ll send you one.

9. Take the burden off Wayne Rooney. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It’s a bit like saying score more goals than the opposition or win more games than your nearest rivals, but the fact is, United cannot win the title with Rooney alone. When Cristiano Ronaldo was scoring goals like they were going out of fashion, a large part of that was down to Rooney. Last season Didier Drogba had Lampard to help him out, Arsenal will no doubt have Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas this time round. Rooney needs someone to weigh in with not just their fair share of goals but also assists and being another option that players look for when United are attacking. Berbatov, Hernandez or one of the midfield, it doesn’t matter but when Rooney’s fit and playing it shouldn’t mean that if he has a quiet game so do United. When Rooney’s out, it’s time for someone else to perform; no doubt all eyes will be on Berbatov who came up short against Chelsea and Blackburn last season. Whether or not this will be the Bulgarian’s season remains to be seen, but someone needs to give ‘r Wazza a hand.

10. Play Edwin Van Der Sar in every league game. VDS performance in the Community Shield was yet another in a long list of exemplary shifts between the sticks at Old Trafford. The Dutchman was injured for the beginning of last season and Ben Foster was preferred to Tomas Kuszczak and all but ended both his United and England career with a series of inept displays. A loss away to Burnley and a disappointing home draw to Sunderland came on Foster’s watch, while Kuszczak oversaw the home loss to Aston Villa and the away loss to Fulham- although to be fair the entire defence was injured for that one. Van Der Sar may be 40 but if he can manage the league games and Fergie rests him for the cup ones, he may just be the difference between another near-miss or making United the most successful ever team-at least domestically- in England.

03
Apr
10

Supporting your local team? Does it really matter?

Dave didn't care how rubbish his team were- he'd always follow them.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight, I’m not questioning whether supporting your team matters. Of course it does. That’s like asking whether you should look after your kids, or be nice to your wife-occasionally. No my query is based on the argument that the “we support our local team” mob, are more important, passionate, vocal, better looking, than those supporters who live further away. Being a Manchester United fan, from Manchester- yes there are some of us- but living in London, whenever people realise where I’m from I often hear the same question. “Do you support Man City then?” Usually followed by “I thought everyone from Manchester did.” There seems to be a myth that most United fans are from London or Kent, or Shropshire or anywhere but Manchester. Now my point isn’t to start a debate about how many United fans can actually call themselves Mancunian no it is simply does it matter where you come from as long as you get behind your team- be it United or anyone else.

At Old Trafford there are undeniably a lot of fans from places nowhere near Manchester, there’s the Cockney Reds who make up a significant number of those attending matches, not to mention the Irish United fans of which there are many-usually giving interviews to Sky Sports or MUTV outside the ground. United aren’t alone though in attracting fans from other areas. During my time in London I’ve come across countless Liverpool fans who sound about as scouse as Michael Caine and there seems to be a running joke about Arsenal fans coming from Surrey- before all you Gooners kick off- I’m not saying there’s any truth to it, merely that I’ve heard it a few times.

There’s no doubt that any successful team is going to attract fans from outside its home city. Some of it may be due to the time you start watching football. If you haven’t got a dad who drags you along to games from an early age- as was the case with me and I always thank my lucky stars he didn’t support City- then you may like a team you see on the TV and start an affiliation with them. A case in point was around seven years ago when I spent a summer ’working’ abroad in Crete. There were several lads around my age- early twenties- working out there who all supported Spurs. These lads were from a lot of different areas- Slough, Chingford, Bromley, wherever, yet for some reason on that island when I was there, Spurs seemed to be the most popular team amongst my fellow ’workers.’ One day, I asked one of them why he felt this was the case, as to be honest I didn’t feel Spurs would have been that popular as Arsenal had always been more successful and many of the fans were not from that near Tottenham at all. He told me the reason he started following them, when he was around 8 or 9 Spurs had Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle and Gary Lineker playing for them, so he’d seen these players on the TV and found an instant appreciation of them. That’s what had made him follow Spurs and there’s every reason that other people his age may have had a similar experience. That made perfect sense to me, after all one of my friends who lives in Twickenham recently told me her two young boys argue over football, the older one -he’s ten- follows Chelsea while the eight year old follows Man U.

For United there does seem to be a big number of ‘out-of-towners‘, arguably because of the success the team has had, or maybe going back further to the days of Busby and the legacy he built. For whatever reason United do have a lot of fans from outside Manchester of that there can be no denial. Personally I used to find myself getting a little annoyed when I was younger and I’d hear cockneys- or anyone from south of Birmingham really -at Old Trafford. I’d create nonsensical ideas in my head that they were ‘glory hunters’ that were stopping real fans getting tickets. My attitude has changed a lot over the years as I’ve come to realise that not only is it irrelevant when it comes to supporting the team, whereabouts you’ve travelled in from but also that the main attribute most of us want from our teams fans is to get behind the players on the pitch– what accent you’re doing that in has no importance whatsoever.

Another factor which actually made me respect fans that travel from further a field to come to Old Trafford, was a story a bloke from Essex told me once when I was working in a pub there last year. George- that was his name, and probably still is- was born in Blackpool but moved to Essex as a baby with his family. His dad was a United fan- like mine- and had encouraged George to do the same. Despite living in Essex for forty years, he’d always remained loyal to Man U. He told me of his last trip to Old Trafford, a mid-week game against Wigan, he’d got the train up there but missed his train back as it took him longer getting out of the ground than expected. The next train wasn’t until the morning so he’d had to get a coach, it was raining heavily- as it always does in sunny Manchester- so him and his mate had sat on a coach that took about 8 hours to get back to London- where they had to get a train to Essex- in soaking clothes. The point is, he’d gone through a lot of bother, and expense- travelling had ended up costing him about £75 just to watch a pretty run-of-the-mill game at Old Trafford. Was he a true fan? Of course. Did he have every right to be there as anyone else? Certainly. Had he spent more than a lot of people to get there? Absolutely.

Many fans who travel from afar have to spend a lot more money than local ones, my trips to Old Trafford have decreased over the past three years, as it becomes more and more costly to make the trip from London- not to mention getting time off work or missing Uni. When I’m in Manchester it’s a lot easier to get to the games-obviously- but also the offer of a ‘last minute ticket’ that a mate might have can be gratefully accepted, while a trip to a match commuting from London often takes planning of a military nature.

There are those that would argue you should support your local team- tell that to people from Chester- that anything else is just glory hunting, however after some years of thinking this may be true, I’ve realised that this idea is as outdated and egregious as Gerry Francis’s hair. As the Green and Gold campaign has shown at United- and I’ve seen many of these scarves lately in London- it’s not where you come from that matters it‘s who you support.

24
Mar
10

Why Sir Alex should go all out for Buffon

Buffon loved Tatton Park on November 5th

News that Juventus may be willing to sell goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has already sent the rumour mill into overdrive with speculation that his destination could be Manchester. Both Manchester United and Manchester City have already been linked with the Italian number 1 as reports claim the ‘Old Lady’ is ready to part with one of her favourite sons. Although it has been suggested Buffon would only leave if Juventus were to fail to qualify for the Champion’s League, with the Turin club currently occupying sixth place in Serie A, that is becoming a distinct possibility.

Buffon is regarded as the best goalkeeper in the world by many and rightly so as his performances over the years have been nothing short of exceptional. It will come as no surprise to anyone that City, with an Italian manager and limitless funds are supposed to be interested in making Buffon another one of their ‘big name’ signings. The price for the 32 year-old is rumoured to be anything between £25-35 million and while that may make many clubs baulk, to the ‘richest club in the world’ it’s merely pocket change, after all City have already spent a combined total of £38 million on gems Joleon Lescott and Kolo Toure so spending less on a player who could actually help prevent goals must seem like a no-brainer.

United on the other hand are nowhere near their ‘noisy neighbours’ in the financial stakes but they may be able to stump up the funds for a bid after all the comments made by their chief executive David Gill recently. Gill, in response to criticism over the Glazer’s ownership of United and subsequent amount of debt the club are now in, has claimed that anything up to £100 million could be available for Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer. Although that figure seems about as likely as a ‘we want Glazers in’ protest at Old Trafford there could be at least enough money to launch a decent attempt to get Buffon.

While City may have a financial advantage over their more successful neighbours they may not have the appeal to lure a player of Buffon’s stature. One thing which may scupper any chance of getting the Italian will be whether they’re in the Champion’s League. After seeing his side crash out of the Europa League-albeit from the sidelines- to Fulham, Buffon may not wish to spend another season facing some of Europe’s lesser known sides. If City do make the Champion’s League they will be in a strong position to tempt Buffon, but regardless of what City fans- or Gary Cook may claim- they are simply not as well thought of in terms of history, prestige, fan base, or appeal as Manchester United are, in Italy or anywhere else in the world. If City are to get Buffon, it will be because he decides that money is the motivating factor-either that or he’s a secret City fan who always wanted to wear the shirt of men such as Andy Dibble, Martyn Margetson, Nicky Weaver and John Burridge.

Another factor which may prevent City even trying to get Buffon is the form of Shay Given. Ireland’s number one has been pretty exceptional since his move to Eastlands and while he may not be as good as his Italian counterpart, replacing him could have a detrimental effect on others in the team. If Mancini is willing to drop players who’ve performed outstandingly for him, who else on the City team would feel safe? It may sound a little bit far-fetched, after all Mancini didn’t buy Given so doesn’t really owe him anything, but even trying to buy Buffon could send the wrong message to the City players. You could argue it would merely keep everyone on their toes, the idea that no matter how well you play you can always be replaced, but in a squad that’s already seen a transfer merry-go-round, not to mention 4 managers in as many years, getting rid of one of your best performers may just ruin team morale and add to the sense of instability.

Manchester United have no such worries about stability with the longest serving manager in the Universe and one of the world’s oldest keepers. While Edwin Van Der Sar would hardly be thrilled at the prospect of moving aside for a younger model, at nearly forty years-old he will surely see the sense in it. Fergie’s problem will not be upsetting team morale should he go for Buffon, it will be actually outbidding his neighbours. The best way for the Scot to get Buffon at Old Trafford will be to convince the keeper to come, thereby making a decent bid acceptable to Juventus. If Buffon says he wants to go to United and they put in a reasonable offer, then it may just be enough to scupper any plans city have regardless of their wealth. Not only would the sight of Buffon at Old Trafford, mean that United fans can again see a lovely headband on display- since Dimitar Berbatov had his haircut- it would also mean that the team would have arguably the best ‘back five’ in world football, some may argue, of recent times. That may sound ridiculous but if they can keep Vidic and Brown returns with some of the form he showed in 2007/08 the defence with Buffon behind them would be a truly mouth-watering prospect for any United fan-and a nightmare for the opposition. Replacing Van Der Sar should be a priority for Fergie, as for me Tomasz Kuszczak and obviously Ben Foster are not the answer, after all the years it took to replace Peter Schmeichel, Fergie may realise that leaving his successor the task of replacing VDS would make a tough job even tougher. One thing Sir Alex will want when he finally hands over the reins is to be able to know that the team he’s leaving behind is in good shape, without an established keeper that may not be the case.

There is one final reason-as if creating the best defence in world football isn’t enough- for Fergie to really aggressively pursue Buffon- to quieten the anti-Glazer mob. The United manager has made no secret of the fact he is a little worried the protests may distract his players, and while I do not agree with that idea- he could feel a real marquee signing would bring about a bit of harmony. If United bought Buffon, for £30 odd mill, could the Green and Gold brigade really argue that the Glazers are not backing the club financially? It would certainly go some way to calming a lot of angry United fans.

From Buffon’s point of view going from arguably the biggest club in Italian football to the biggest in Britain may appeal to him. From a United point of view I certainly hope so.