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Manchester United
May 30, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/30/2009

There has been an elephant in the room all season. It was easy to ignore it while United were winning and throwing silver cups over their shoulders back onto the pile. Now we must face up to the reality. The team has not put in a really good performance all term and finally we have been shown up for it.

May 25, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/25/2009

Watching Phil Brown pick up that microphone and sing like a drunken uncle at a christening then reading he and his chairman are “mates”, I couldn’t help but think some people are just made for each other.

The great goatee himself will be back at Old Trafford next season and will probably give his half-time team talk in Lou Macari’s fish and chip shop, possibly wearing a hairnet and trying to up-sell haddock. I can’t wait.

May 18, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/18/2009

I have no interest in the statistics. If I loved numbers I would have become a mathematician, or Carol Vorderman. I love football and I lament that on Saturday we did not see a great game of it. No matter, for only the fifth time in English football history a team has completed a hat-trick of national championships. This latest team of Alex Ferguson's, despite its lack of consistent flair, must now be placed alongside the greatest the nation has produced.

May 16, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/16/2009

Religious doctrine states that pride is a sin, worthy of damnation and an eternity in hell. The dictionary is a little bit fluffier about things but even so, Pride looms large on the horizon this weekend.

May 11, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/11/2009

You always have to worry if it's been a full moon and City are coming to visit. Perhaps the hairs will not have receded in time before they take the field. Fortunately, the only beasts unleashed at Old Trafford were those of Berbatov and Tevez and the Bitters were left looking like lemons again.

A decent run of results for the blue half (third?) of Manchester left them with every right to expect a performance from their team and the chance of overhauling their total from last year. The Blues I spoke to before kick-off intimated they would be "happy with a draw". Knowing that we wouldn’t be I began to feel more confident.

May 9, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/09/2009

I am fed up of hearing about the "four stonewall" penalty appeals. Let's share some hard facts. Twice now Chelsea have been eliminated from Europe and launched vitriolic attacks at the officials in charge. On both occasions the referees in question, guys trying to do very difficult jobs under intense pressure, have received death threats from Chelsea fans. Anders Frisk retired immediately and Tom Henning Ovrebo was snuck out of the country under armed guard. Clearly, this is unacceptable.

May 7, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/07/2009

Heroes. Every single last one of them. Do not for a second underestimate the significance of this result. United are in only the fourth European Cup final of the club's history and what is more, we are there with a bit of swagger too.

Welcome back Cristiano Ronaldo, with this guy and Rooney in such blistering form I shouldn't imagine anybody wants to play us right now. Having lived so much of my life watching United not get this far, to be in a second final, in such quick succession, is simply dizzying.

May 3, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 05/03/2009

There is a terrible air of gloom around the North East at the moment. It is hardly St. Tropez at the best of times but all four of their major teams are in serious trouble. The fans of the region deserve much better than what has been served up for them this season. I always expect one of the teams in the bottom three to put together a Herculean run of results in the last few games and save themselves. It has happened enough times for this expectation to be reasonable. See West Hams controversial late run or even Brian Robson's West Brom for further reference. What is more, seasoned United watchers, for the last few years, have circled this game on the fixture list and written the word banana-skin next to it.