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  1. Fantastic article and great I totally agree barckley now could be the next big thing Chelsea have singed players and made them big I look forward seeing Barkleys career go from strength to strength.
  2. Manchester United fans such as myself are not used to seeing our beloved Red Devils being second, or indeed third best, or worse. However, since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, it has been that way. In recent years, United have missed several opportunities to play Champions League football, while the Premier League title has evaded Old Trafford, with the mighty Chelsea, the underdogs Leicester City and even the noisy neighbours Manchester City lifting the trophy. But is this about to change with Jose Mourinho preparing to start his second year at the helm? A Manchester United side with Champions League football to look forward to - all be it due to Europa League glory to get us there - are we about to show that the Red Devils are back in the big time? So far, three new players have arrived - Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic. For me the big price tags compared to last year’s big money deals are going to need to show their worth, but it is still early doors. I'm hoping this may be the year to show our quality, we have took part in an amazing pre-season with positives to take from games against Real Madrid and the noisy neighbours City. It was a good run out against Madrid in the Super Cup, and an amazing opening day win over West Ham despite their new high profile signings - Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and our former striker Javier Hernandez. The team looks stronger, faster and more together than I have ever seen (well, since the departure of Sir Alex). Marcus Rashford is looking more confident with a budding partnership with Lukaku or Paul Pogba who finally seems to be showing his price tag could be worth it. With Luke Shaw returning, he’s looking more like a footballer than a supporter and the players Mourinho says are surplus to requirements are either on loan or have permanently left the club - there could finally be harmony within the United camp. I for one hope so because in that dressing room sits a lot of talent and high profile big money spending but Jose needs to use it in a positive way not the normal way of harshness and rudeness he seems to happy in delivering to players that he thinks don't come up to his level. With the defending champions Chelsea struggling in pre-season and the start of their title defence and the issues surrounding Diego Costa and the squad size, I’m not sure they could mount a defence. Tottenham Hotspur, meanwhile, have discord of their own, having not signed any players as of mid-August and Danny Rose's controversial interview about the team. Then there is Liverpool, who are in a transfer tug of war with Barcelona over Philippe Coutinho. Arsenal have the record of losing the title by February. Alexandre Lacazette is a great player, but they have their own personnel problems, most notably involving Alexis Sanchez. I honestly think it will be a Manchester race for the title with the players signed by Pep Guardiola and the sheer amount of money spent, not to mention the overall quality and City’s average player age now just 25, this will give the Manchester derby a new dimension. I think this is going to be an interesting year for United where failure is not a option and Jose will have been told this. He will know the outcome of failure - we have the players, the history and all the things that come for success. Jose my friend, it’s time to put it all together. All I can say is, take me and the other United fans back to the glory years, show us this is the new generation, and show the house that Fergie built is ready for the next generation of success. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Jose Mario dos Santos Mourinho Felix, GOIH, or Jose Mourinho as he is known to the footballing world, comes with a reputation that, in my opinion, he loves. The arguments with the media, the touchline antics... it goes on like this and by doing all of this he achieved the name The Special One. I would like to ask - why does this nickname persist? As a Manchester United fan, I want to know. Yes, he has brought success and silverware to clubs, but with the majority of teams he has managed, he has spent big, and his tenures have been brief - no longer than three years at a single club, either by being sacked or walking away. I’m sorry but this does not suggest he is a Special One… i would say he is a short-term replacement just for instant success and I’m ashamed to say that my beloved Red Devils are at fault. Jose in my opinion has a lot to learn about man management - his philosophy of "my way or the highway" has seen him alienate way too many players over the years, and he did not come out well from the Bastian Schweinsteiger debacle. Jose is so defensive, no one has really got to see what the players he has helped see - maybe ask Juan Mata, who has started to flourish under Jose at Old Trafford, but his time at Chelsea was not so rewarding. At this moment in time what he is achieving at United is the opposite of what he has done at other clubs - the form that seen him out the job or him being sacked is what myself and other fans are being treated to. So the question still stands - is he the Special One? I always thought this title was reserved for managers and players who have had a longer playing career and managerial career than Jose. But I’m forgetting, of course, that he gave himself the moniker after quoting it in 2004 to the press who of course agreed and effectively sealed it for him through repeatedly printing it. Jose has never been special - with pockets of cash and the best players in the world, anyone could be that special, or just lucky. As a United fan i can’t wait to see him leave and we get a long-term replacement who won’t spend loads of money and sway fans by saying things he doesn't believe - I’m one fan who can’t be swayed. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. After months of speculation Bastian Schweinsteiger has become the fourth of Louis van Gaal's high-profile signings to leave Old Trafford under current boss Jose Mourinho, accepting a move to Chicago Fire. Yet again the Portuguese manager has let another highly-rated player, this time one with true pedigree, leave the club after failing to meet his high standards. Schweinsteiger joins Angel di Maria, Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay, who all arrived with high price tags, in becoming ex-United players. This shouldn’t come as a shock as Schweinsteiger has been frozen out the team since Mourinho's arrival, only being given a few token appearances to keep his fitness up. But with 121 caps for Germany making him the fourth-highest capped player for his nation, 24 goals and a international career spanning over 12 years, why would he be treated like this? Mourinho has shown that, when it comes to player management, he can ruthless. He has clearly shown he doesn't care about a player's past achievement, only the future and what he can get out of them during his tenure over the team. Is Mourinho trying to get rid of the team that his mentor Van Gaal built? Or is he simply "being Mourinho", a manager who in my opinion loves nothing more than to stir up the hornet's nest? Other player should take heed from Bastian's departure with the likes of Sergio Romero, Luke Shaw, Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and even captain Wayne Rooney in the firing line to find other clubs. In my opinion this is clearly a message to the dressing room that no one is irreplaceable. Bastian took to his personal social media to thank the United fans and players, and even Jose, ahead of his departure. Even after all he's been through, this shows the respect and dignity that has made him the player he is. Some have challenged his age saying he is too old for the English game, but I think injuries and the appointment of Jose haven't helped things. He goes with my best wishes and thanks for what he has done for United. Share your thoughts about this feature article on Bastian Schweinsteiger on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  5. Ryan Giggs is a man who needs no introduction – his accolades and achievements speak for themselves. Put simply, he is the most decorated player in football history. During his time at Manchester United, he won 13 Premier League winner's medals, four FA Cup winner's medals, three League Cup winner's medals, two UEFA Champions League winner's medals, a FIFA Club World Cup winners medal, an Intercontinental Cup winner's medal, a UEFA Super Cup winner's medal and nine FA Community Shield winner's medals. Earlier this month, however, the Welshman’s 29-year association with the Red Devils came to an end as new manager Jose Mourinho decided to replace Giggs, assistant manager at Old Trafford, with long-time associate Rui Faria. Welsh born-and-bred, Giggs first played for Manchester City but was duly snapped up by the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson at the age of 15. From there, the winger made over 672 appearances for the Red Devils and scored 114 goals in a professional career spanning nearly a quarter of a century. He also won 64 caps for Wales and captained Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics in London. It was a sad day when he announced he was hanging up his boots at the end of the 2013-14 season, but he remained with the club as he had decided to carve out a career in coaching, which began a year earlier when David Moyes had appointed him as player-coach. When Moyes was sacked on 22 April 2014, after less than 10 months in the job, Giggs took over as the club's interim player-manager, earning himself a record of two wins, a draw and a defeat in the final four games of the season, and after Louis van Gaal was appointed, the Welshman – who turned down an approach from Swansea City – was promoted to assistant manager. Despite many predicting that Giggs would soon clinch the holy grail of Man Utd manager, particularly after Van Gaal was fired, it wasn’t to be as early as 2016 as Mourinho was appointed instead. Now Giggs is at a crossroads in his life as he has decided to leave the club that has had him under its wing for nearly 30 years as he reportedly declined a different job role under Mourinho. Currently not tied to any club, speculation has raged as the likes of Nottingham Forest and Hull City have been linked with Giggs, but as of Sunday 24 July he is still not in any managerial or coaching job. However, in typical Giggs fashion, he has kept himself busy on the pitch and has yet another piece of silverware to his name – the inaugural Premier Futsal League title, which he won with Mumbai as a marquee player. One thing is for sure – Ryan Giggs will always be the beloved number 11 of the Devils that tore teams apart from 1991 up until 2014, and where he will spend the 30th year of a remarkable footballing career remains to be seen, but everyone interested in the beautiful game will be eagerly awaiting his next move.
  6. Legendary United States goalkeeper Tim Howard is back on the other side of the pond following his successful spell in England, making his much-anticipated Colorado Rapids debut on Monday in his return to the MLS and keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against the Portland Timbers. The 37-year-old joined the Timbers this summer after wrapping up his 10th season with Everton. “I will remain an Evertonian for life”, an emotional Howard said as he left Goodison Park to return to America. Howard has had what you can call a career to be proud of. Born in North Brunswick, New Jersey, he got his break playing for his hometown club North Jersey Imperials, and after just 6 games he was drafted to the MetroStars after goalkeeping coach Tim Mulqueen saw his potential. On the 18th August 1998, Howard made his professional debut for the MetroStars with a 4-1 win over Colorado, and before long, silverware and personal accolades followed, including the title of MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2001. In 2003, none other than Sir Alex Ferguson came calling and, as much as Howard wanted to stay in the States, he knew that the chance of playing for Manchester United would never come again, so he joined the Red Devils as Fabien Barthez’s successor. While at United, he made an immediate impact by helping his new club to the 2003 Community Shield, then went on to lift the FA Cup at the end of the season and the League Cup two years later. When Edwin van der Sar then joined Man Utd, Howard lost his place to the experienced Dutchman and decided to try his luck elsewhere – in 2006, David Moyes saw his chance and signed the American on loan. It didn’t take long for Howard to know that he had found his home, so he put pen to paper on a permanent deal in February 2007, and would remain for nine years. During this time he became a Toffees fan favourite and even scored a goal in a 2-1 defeat against Bolton Wanderers, when a wind-assisted clearance saw him beat Adam Bogdan. Howard became just the fourth goalkeeper in the Premier League to score a goal, but as testament to his great character, he refused to celebrate it, calling it “cruel” and “embarrassing” and saying he felt for his opposite number. On the 19th February 2016, Everton manager Roberto Martinez confirmed that, after a knee injury, which saw the goalkeeper lose form and confidence, Joel Robles would be the new first-choice stopper at the club. Despite fans’ disappointment, this would be Howard’s role till the end of the season, and they would be even more upset when, on 20th March, Howard announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season Howard’s career has been nothing short of remarkable, with over 605 appearances and 108 international caps for his nation, including a bronze medal against Canada in the 1999 Pan American Games third-place playoff and some incredible performances in the 2014 World Cup. Its safe to say that Howard has always felt at home at Goodison Park and, in his goodbye address, he said: “This will always be my team, my club”. Whether or not Howard will return to Everton in the MLS off-season once the Toffees have a new manager in place is to be seen. However, it’s safe to say that the MLS’s gain is the Premier League’s loss, and I’m sure Howard will end his career as fantastically as it started and progressed.
  7. Unless you’re a staunch Manchester United fan who keeps an eye out on the academy and reserves, you probably wouldn’t have heard of Marcus Rashford’s name this time last year. Now, you’d have to have been living under a rock not to know who he is. The Red Devils academy graduate, Manchester born-and-bred, has been given a new contract which will keep him at Old Trafford until 2020 on a rumoured £20,000-a-week deal. Rashford’s rise has been nothing short of sensational, not so much knocking at the door as smashing through it. Born in Wythenshawe, Rashford began playing football for Fletcher Moss Rangers at the age of five and joined the Man Utd academy system at the age of seven, where he quietly but thoroughly learned the ropes away from the public eye. Success is often based on the finest of margins and, on 25 February 2016, what began as yet another unfortunate setback for then-manager Louis van Gaal turned into the beginning of something incredible for Rashford, Man Utd and even England. Rashford was a late addition to the starting line-up for their Europa League round of 32, second leg tie against FC Midtjylland after Anthony Martial was injured in the warm-up. Even though he was seen as a prodigious young prospect, few could have predicted his explosion into the first team – he marked his debut with two goals in the second half of a 5–1 win. In the process, Rashford became Man Utd’s youngest ever scorer in European competition, beating a record previously held by none other than George Best. Predictably, he was plastered all over the newspapers the next day, but things would only get better for him as he then made Premier League debut against Arsenal three days later. Rashford again scored twice, and even provided the assist for the other goal, in a 3–2 home victory, making him the third youngest scorer for United in Premier League history after Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck. Success in Europe and against one of the club’s traditional championship rivals were two boxes swiftly ticked off, and Rashford duly followed it up with another addition to the portfolio – the winning goal against bitter rivals Manchester City on 20 March, his team's first away league win over the Citizens since 2013. If 2016 has so far been a great year for Rashford, May is without a doubt the standout month. On 16 May, he was named in the provisional England squad; 11 days later he became the youngest Englishman to score on his debut when he netted against Australia; on 30 May he signed a new four-year contract with Man Utd, and 24 hours later he was confirmed as one of the 23 Three Lions players to play at Euro 2016. The positive comparisons are coming thick and fast, with people noting how an 18-year-old Michael Owen was incredible for England at the 1998 World Cup, while Wayne Rooney lit up Euro 2004. Will Rashford be among the standout players for the Three Lions – and possibly the whole tournament – at Euro 2016, and following on from this, will he become Man Utd’s next big thing? Watch this space, because his future is certainly bright.
  8. One look at Adebayo Akinfenwa, also known as The Beast and The World’s Strongest Footballer, is enough to strike fear into any opponent. Boasting over 16 stone in his 5’11” frame, he is one of the heaviest and bulkiest footballers in history. Despite his physique making him a fan favourite, he has often been overlooked by football clubs for being too bulky, but today he proved the doubters wrong by making sure of AFC Wimbledon’s victory in their League Two playoff final against Plymouth Argyle. Unfortunately, Akinfenwa won’t be playing for the Dons in League One, the first time they have reached the third tier in their short history – he revealed he would be departing the club in the summer. The cult hero, a lifelong fan of Wimbledon (in both guises), was delighted after the game, telling reporters: "Come on now, there ain't no better way to send off. To see this team get promoted, to score with the last kick of the game, I couldn't even write that. "I said let's complete this fairytale, and that's what we've done. "I'm going to miss this team, I'm going to miss this place but there ain't no better way to leave it. It's about progression, and AFC Wimbledon are getting stronger and stronger. It's what dreams are made of, it's beautiful." And then, the defiant message hitting back at his haters: "All them who said I was too big to play football, come on now, ha ha!" This, alongside his request for football managers to “hit me up on WhatsApp”, is all testament to a man who, despite being famous across the world for regularly being given the highest Strength stat on FIFA games, remains humble, approachable and down to earth. With 160 career goals to his name, the ability to bench-press 28 stone, a likeable personality, a savvy business brain – he created and owns a clothes label called Beast Mode – and a very marketable image, Akinfenwa will no doubt have no shortage of suitors across the summer. One thing is for sure – in a sport where youngsters are regularly released from clubs for being “too small”, “too bulky” or whatever other reason, the 34-year-old has proved that body shape and size are no barrier to carving out a successful career in football.
  9. Monday 23rd May 2016 was the day that many Manchester United fans had been looking forward to for a long time. Louis van Gaal, the illustrious, heralded Dutch manager brought in to try and bring prestige back to the Red Devils after the false dawn of David Moyes, was gone. Just 48 hours after guiding United to their 12th FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley with a 2-1 extra time win, Van Gaal had been sacked by the club two years into his three-year contract. The signs had been there. He had guided United to a disappointing fifth-placed finish in the Premier League in a season when all the top teams crumbled, meaning a meagre Europa League spot next season. The previous season he had achieved fourth, meaning Champions League football, but the red devils crashed out as the group stage after finishing third, and were then embarrassingly knocked out of the Europa League by historic rivals Liverpool. And then we have the £250m he spent on bringing highly-rated class players to the team – Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria and so on – who just didn’t perform or were injured. The latter arrived for £60m but left after a season for just two thirds of the price. On the positive side, his shrewd use of youth team players allowed the club to successfully blood Marcus Rashford in the team, and the impact has been sensational. Despite the positives, Ed Woodward decided that the time had come to stick or twist, and he decided for the latter. Van Gaal had to go, and while many fans were unhappy with how United disposed of him, they felt that the choice was indeed correct. A week of speculation then saw Jose Mourinho, long thought of as an arch-nemesis of United because of his Chelsea past, linked with the Old Trafford club. Nevertheless, it has also been suggested that he had wanted the job for a long time. Now, it is official. The Special One has put pen to paper on a three-year contract at United, and fans are torn between joy at securing one of the top managers in world football, confusion over how long he will remain at the club, and even despair over his past, attitude, and style of play. What does this mean for Ryan Giggs, one of the club’s undisputed legends? The future the assistant boss remains uncertain, with the club not mentioning the 42-year-old in their statement. The Welshman is known to be unhappy at the way Van Gaal was dismissed and is considering an offer to extend his 29-year association with the club. Despite the minute details that need to be ironed out regarding Mourinho’s backroom staff, nobody can deny the Portuguese boss’s track record over the years. As well as his three Premier Leagues with Chelsea, Mourinho has led Real Madrid to the Spanish title in 2012, and guided Porto and Inter Milan to Champions League victories in 2004 and 2010 respectively. In addition, Mourinho has already been linked with a move for Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played for him at Inter. The former Paris Saint-Germain forward, a free agent, told reporters on Thursday that Mourinho "is the man" to bring United "back to the top". Will The Special One be the Manchester United’s saving grace and the answer to Ed Woodward’s post-Fergie turmoil, or will he ruffle too many of the wrong feathers? We will just have to wait and see.
  10. It’s been three years since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, the man who built on Matt Busby’s legacy and made Manchester United the biggest club in the world. Since then they have placed their trust in David Moyes - a disastrous tenure that lasted less than a season. Now Ed Woodward has picked Louis van Gaal to take the Red Devils back to the summit of English and world football. Since Van Gaal’s appointment nearly two seasons ago, the Dutchman has rid the Manchester United changing room of players that Sir Alex put his trust and help built Old Trafford and brought in own dressing room spending a massive £250m. These players, however, have not lived up to their names nor their price tags, finishing fourth in the Premier League last season. On the plus side, it gave them the chance to qualify for the Champions League, and by beating Club Brugge 7-1 on aggregate, it meant they reached the group stage after an uncharacteristic year out. United made a decent enough start under Van Gaal, but slowly they began going down hill with injures to key players most in training You would have to say the LVG ways and methods are not working – they may be too harsh. This resulted in Man Utd firstly crashing out to Middlesbrough in the League Cup after extra time and penalties at Old Trafford (at least it was a round further than the previous year’s defeat to MK Dons). Then the league form also suffered as they dropped points to teams they would usually win. United started their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 loss over PSV Eindhoven followed by a defeat by the same scoreline against Wolfsburg. Things did pick up with a 1-1 draw with CSKA Moscow, a 1-0 win in the return leg with the Russians, and a goalless draw with PSV. It came to the last match day – United had to beat Wolfsburg, but instead they fell to 3-2 defeat to Wolfsburg leaving them 3rd in the group with just 8 points and a stint in the Europa League. Between Champions League games United’s league form also fell, taking them out of the top four. They had made a good run in the FA cup with a 1-0 win again Sheffield United in the third round, by a 3-1 win over Derby County in the fourth and a 3-0 away win over Shrewsbury Town in the fifth. West Ham United gave the Red Devils a tough game in the quarterfinals, which finished 1-1, consigning both sides to a replay. Will United beat West Ham in the replay? With their current form, I doubt it. Van Gaal’s side has also crashed out of the Europa League to Liverpool, our biggest rivals, with a 2-0 loss at Anfield and a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford not enough to secure progress to the next round. Manchester United now sit in 6th with 50 points and Everton up next – it’s a must win if they are to clinch European football next season, but a 1-0 win over noisy neighbours Manchester City has also given them a chance. They sit a point off 4th but need to keep up momentum – with key players making their return (Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia) among others could they be back on the road to success? Since the departure of Fergie, United have not been able to maintain their place at the pinnacle of football, a position that they are definitely capable of, and next season will a big push to reach the summit once more – which may include new management. Could Ryan Giggs be the man to save Manchester United from this crisis and take them to places they were once knew well? Or will it be the Special One Jose Mourinho to save the club? I guess we will have to wait and see.

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