soccernet blog
Manchester United
March 6, 2012
Posted by Mark Payne on 03/06/2012

There is a great episode of Irish comedy show Father Ted in which Father Ted Crilly is the coach of the ‘over 75s all priests 5-a-side’ football team. His role as coach, in that episode, is heavily inspired by Sir Alex Ferguson, even down to the coat he wears, and it was my great fortune to rewatch that edition shortly after the Spurs match. I noticed some eerie similarities with this year’s United line up.

October 16, 2011
Posted by Mark Payne on 10/16/2011

Perspective is important when assessing anything. Although it is hugely important to be fully involved in the business at hand, it pays to be aware of what happens elsewhere in the world. To be perfectly frank, fans of other sports look at football and laugh their arses off at the diving of our players. It is pathetic, tiresome and damaging to the game. It’s finest exponents play for Liverpool FC.

August 29, 2011
Posted by Mark Payne on 08/29/2011

Manchester United's 8-2 win over Arsenal is officially the match where it became impossible to remain calm about what the team can achieve this season, and it is only the third league game. For years now it has been a stock-in trade of United fans to mock those who over-celebrate in August, “come back in May” we always say. But after a performance such as this you can only shout from the rooftops, and shout loudly.

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.

April 16, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 04/16/2009

Opponents are a little bit like carpets. If you (p)lay them right the first time, you can walk all over them for years. Porto must still be reeling from that 4-0 tonking we gave them in '97 because they were in a very strong position going into this match.

Despite United being wobblier than that rope bridge from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in recent weeks. Porto still couldn’t dominate. United controlled this match and for once, we have a performance as satisfying as the result. We also have a clean sheet for a change. Geronimo.

March 22, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 03/22/2009

Satan has not risen from hell to assume control of earth. No nuclear missiles have been launched by the world's superpowers, nor is there a large asteroid on a collision course with the planet. In short, Armageddon is not here yet, this is not the end of the world. However, United have now served up two pretty stale performances in a week and a mild inquest is in order.

March 8, 2009
Posted by Mark Payne on 03/08/2009

Honestly, I am doing everything I can here. I have stopped reading the newspapers, a brick has been thrown through the screen of the TV and I have managed to block out all radio broadcasts to my house. But somehow this word ‘quintuple’ keeps coming back into my consciousness.

It is not going to stop. With performances like this one we are doomed to the build up for this outrageous trophy bid.

January 13, 2009

The significance of this result cannot be overstated. We have utterly murdered the very team who were short favourites to win the league this year. Incredibly, this was not a particularly classy display from United, but it was more than enough to do the job.

Berbatov was involved in all three goals and after his recent contributions I estimate that he has been worth about 9 points over the last month. That is not £30million but it is important.

December 26, 2008

Manchester United returned from Tokyo as Champions of the world but were nearly taught a lesson in the basics of football at the Britannia Stadium this Boxing Day. United emerged victorious with a late goal from Carlos Tevez in a fractious and ill-tempered local derby with Stoke City after Andy Wilkinson's sending off.

United can count themselves lucky that it was a player in red and white stripes who recieved his marching orders after both Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo had done their best to earn straight reds themselves. Rooney could easily have been dismissed for aiming an elbow at Abdoulaye Faye, which the referee chose to ignore, and Ronaldo could similarly have been punished after kicking out at Wilkinson minutes before the Stoke man retaliated.