Friday, 25 July 2014

The New Arrivals - Marc McNulty

This week on A United View we will be hearing about each of United's new arrivals from the fans who watched them last season. Each day we will be hearing the reaction to losing a player and getting an idea of what we can expect in the coming months.

Next is John Maxwell, one of the duo behind TELL HIM HE'S PELÉ a site focused on showcasing the very best writers and commentators to promote an outstanding level of insight and analysis to the Scottish lower leagues. For many Blades this was a go to site when we signed Stefan Scougall, providing insight from the 5 Things We've Learned from match reports and of course his place at the top of the list of the Tell Him He's Pele 25 Superstars of the Lower Leagues.  You can follow them on twitter @telhimhespele

With McNulty yet to pull on the red and white stripes in pre-season, this preview will be a useful guide for Blades fans so we know what to expect when he's fully fit.

Marc McNulty

It was always certain that Marc McNulty would leave Livingston in Scotland's second tier, but the question remained as to  how much would he prosper in a more demanding league and without the service of playmaker Stefan Scougall.  The second part of the question is now redundant with McNulty joining Scougall at Bramall Lane, but the first is as relevant as ever.

Who Sheffield United have signed is a natural predator who plays to the strengths of his game.  McNulty's finishing is as accomplished as any to have graduated from the Scottish lower leagues in recent times, with a knack of leaving a goalkeeper stranded as he finds the corner of the goal with an uncanny regularity.

McNulty's play is all about efficiency.  There is no obvious flair to his game, even if he has the technique for it.  From coming short to pick up the ball from midfield, to spreading the ball wide into the path of an onrushing midfielder, everything is calculated in order for him to time his run into a goalscoring position.  Like Scougall, McNulty carries the ball with his head up and suits a side who will pass short and cut back to the forwards.

That position can be from anywhere within 20 yards to goal.  It doesn't matter the angle or the spin on the ball.  If McNulty cannot strike the football on the bounce for a first-time half-volley into the top corner from the edge of the box , then a simple trap sets him up exquisitely.  The majority of his goals were outrageously accomplished finishes that would leave the goalkeeper stranded, such as the banana shot from inside the box against Queen of the South.

Of the 24 league goals scored by Marc McNulty in his last two seasons at Livingston, nearly two thirds of them were executed with just one touch; the rest of his goals needed no more than two to score.  Only three of those goals were penalties, with McNulty assuming responsibility for taking them toward the end of last season.  On each occasion he shot to the goalkeeper's left and above the goalkeeper's stretching arms.

McNulty's biggest weakness is a lack of aerial prowess and stature to play with his back to goal.  He doesn't have the physique to compete with six foot-plus centre-backs, nor the searing pace to race beyond a full-back, but he makes up for that with wonderful technique and a cunning to be in the right place at the correct moment.

In a team with reliable service from a variety of angles he will thrive.  In that sense, he is the perfect accompaniment to Stefan Scougall.  

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The New Arrivals - James Wallace

This week on A United View we will be hearing about each of United's new arrivals from the fans who watched them last season. Each day we will be hearing the reaction to losing a player and getting an idea of what we can expect in the coming months.

Next up is esteemed Tranmere blogger and podcaster Paul Harper (@PaulHarper82 on twitter) who is editor and presenter of Total Tranmere . I was delighted to guest on the podcast ahead of a Blades v Rovers match; a game sadly not to be repeated this season.

Paul took a quick break from his comprehensive coverage of Rovers' pre-season to offer up his opinion on James Wallace.

James Wallace

There is no doubt that James Wallace has got the potential to become a very good midfield player. Unfortunately, injury halted his progress in developing that potential during his two year spell at Prenton Park.

He first arrived at the club for a loan spell for a couple of months at the end of the 2011/12 season and helped keep the team in League One at the end of a difficult campaign for Rovers.

During that temporary spell, he looked a very promising player. A dynamic, energetic midfield player who enjoyed getting forward but could also do the defensive side of the game too and that led to then-manager Ronnie Moore signing him up permanently for the following season and making him club captain.

In the first three months of that first full season, he was excellent. He led by example with his all-action performances, giving 100% commitment and that desire to win every ball probably led to his long-term injury lay-off.

In an FA Cup game against Chesterfield, he took a heavy touch and dived into a tackle and came out worse and had to endure over 11 months on the sidelines.

And to be honest, since his return, which was actually a goalscoring return away at Coventry, we didn't see a great deal of him due to further injury issues and a suspension after a red card on New Year's Day at Wolves.

We could have done with him on the pitch at the end of last season, but unfortunately another injury lay-off meant that was not possible. His presence on the pitch, I'm sure, would have kept Tranmere in League One.

He was offered a new deal with the club, and had he signed then I would have been happy. When fit, he is an excellent player. But can you keep him fit for long enough for him to have enough of an impact? There are huge doubts about that.

Because of that reason, a lot of Tranmere supporters weren't overly disappointed when he left the club to join Sheffield United.

He is certainly a good player, but at Tranmere, with a small squad, we can't afford to have a player who might not be available for large parts of the season. And with him never having played a full season, it is still a massive unknown as to whether he can do that.

I wish him well and hope that he can remain injury-free and enjoy success in his career because there is no doubting his ability.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The New Arrivals - Craig Alcock

This week on A United View we will be hearing about each of United's new arrivals from the fans who watched them last season. Each day we will be hearing the reaction to losing a player and getting an idea of what we can expect in the coming months.

Today we hear the views of Peterborough United fan and sports journalist John Verrall. From being one of the driving forces behind Standing On The Glebe (a Posh blog and podcast), to writing for Here is the City, Give Me Sport and, John's unbiased viewpoints are the antithesis to other Peterborough views United fans may have been exposed to last season. 

You can follow John on twitter @JohnVerrall and here is his view on incoming defender Craig Alcock.

Craig Alcock

Craig Alcock’s Peterborough United career will always be remembered fondly, but there is a feeling that he never quite achieved his potential at London Road.

Alcock remains one of the best defensive full-backs I have seen in my time supporting Posh, but that was largely the problem for him.

He became second-choice in his favoured right-back position, because Posh demand their defenders to attack.

It meant that Mark Little was often chosen over him and Alcock became criminally underused. He found it difficult to displace Little in the team because of his attacking prowess, but he was a far superior player in every defensive aspect of the game.

In the one season where Alcock regularly played at right-back, the 2012/13 campaign, he was a star and very few Championship players enjoyed facing off against him.

In-truth, after that campaign the former Yeovil man’s formed tailed off slightly – he simply isn’t as capable at centre-back, due to a lack of height, or at left-back, although he is still competent in either position.

Alcock rarely gets beaten by skill – he is tenacious in the tackle, reasonably quick and reads the game expertly.

But, in the end, he paid for his versatility. Worryingly Nigel Clough has already stated that 
he sees his reliability in a number of positions as his strength, but he must be utilised in his preferred one to get the best out of him.

If he is, there is no doubt he’s good enough to play at this level and potentially the level above. On a free-transfer, he could well turn out to be one of the signings of the summer, even if he doesn’t take as much acclaim as others do. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The New Arrivals - Chris Basham & Harrison McGahey

This week on A United View we will be hearing about each of United's new arrivals from the fans who watched them last season. Each day we will be hearing the reaction to losing a player and getting an idea of what we can expect in the coming months.

Next up is Chris Walker, Blackpool fan and blogger whose work in highlighting the Oyston family's financial shenanigans, before the mainstream press got hold of the story, showed the power of fans and bloggers in the social media age.

You can follow Chris at @onedavebamber and read his musings at - fascinating reading at the moment at a time when Chris and his fellow fans have every right to be concerned at how his club is being run and with huge concerns over what the future holds.

Amongst the exodus of players from Blackpool this Summer, two players have arrived at Bramall Lane. Here is a Blackpool view on Chris Basham and Harrison McGahey. 

Chris Basham

Chris Basham's arrival at Bloomfield Road came only days before Blackpool took to the pitch for their sole Premier League season for a reported £1m from Bolton Wanderers. He made his debut as a substitute in the opening day 4-0 win at Wigan, but his impact was limited during 'Pool's foray into top flight football with strong competition and injury keeping him out of the side.

Despite relegation to the Championship and some notable departures in midfield, Basham still failed to hold down a regular first team berth under Ian Holloway. When called upon, he would do himself justice, but without ever earning Holloway's trust and even when deployed, it wasn't always in his preferred central midfield role.

Basham's versatility has perhaps been his biggest problem during four seasons on the Fylde coast, often being asked to fill in elsewhere in midfield, or at right back or even centre back when injuries and suspensions have needed covering. Typically, when the first choices in these roles were available again, Basham would find himself back on the bench.

Under Paul Ince, and later Barry Ferguson, Basham did manage to make himself almost a mainstay of the side, but once again never in a set position and rarely in his favoured (and best) role as a central midfield battler. As a result of his constant position changes, Basham is a hard player to fairly judge. Ask most Blackpool fans about him and you'd be hard pressed to find many who will mourn his departure, but whether this is a fair appraisal is open to debate.

Certainly, when being asked to fill in as a wide midfielder, or as a right back, Basham could look a little unwieldy. He has strong physical attributes and can look an imposing figure, but when required to produce on the ball, he could come up short. A gangly figure, Basham's control and distribution could be better, and these weaknesses were often exposed when he was filling in out wide.

However, to criticise him for this could be considered harsh given he is clearly not suited to playing these positions, yet has done so time and time again and without complaint while at the same time giving his all; a lack of effort is never something of which you can accuse Basham. The likeable Geordie is a player who oozes commitment and when utilised correctly, can be a very effective person to have in the squad.

Basham's best performances came in the centre of midfield, combined with creative players around him. Basham would break up play, get up and down the pitch, and lay the ball off to those more able to carve out goal scoring opportunities. It may be an unheralded role at times, but it is one Basham has shown he has the ability for at Championship level, when provided the opportunity.

Dropping down a level to League One should see Basham shine. He can mix it with the best of them and with more creative players alongside him, Basham should become a key cog in the machine, and also is one who has the experience of coping at a higher level were Sheffield United to win their long overdue promotion back to the second tier of English football.

Harrison McGahey

Following Basham on the journey to Bramall Lane is young centre back Harrison McGahey. A rare product of Blackpool's notoriously poor youth setup, McGahey broke into the side for the final four games of last season on the back of an injury crisis at Bloomfield Road. At the time, the Seasiders looked nailed-on certainties to drop to League One following a catastrophic collapse in the second half of the campaign.

McGahey made his debut in front of the Sky cameras at home to promotion-chasing Burnley, and for an 18 year old, did not look out of place. Indeed, had McGahey struggled in that match, interim manager Barry Ferguson had the option of dropping Chris Basham back into the centre of defence, but McGahey impressed enough to keep his place in the remaining three league games. Good performances in a draw at Brighton and surprise win at Wigan, which ultimately saved ‘Pool’s season, saw McGahey’s star quickly rise.

With survival virtually secured going into the final day, Blackpool turned in an after the Lord Mayor’s show type performance at home to Charlton with a spineless 3-0 defeat. This game showed how raw McGahey is and that he still has a lot to learn, but he was far from the only culprit that day and had shown enough promise for everyone to assume a competitive contract would be offered to ensure his future remained on the Fylde coast.

Quite how Blackpool have let McGahey slip through their fingers is a mystery and despite rumour and counter-rumour, the exact details are yet to emerge. Nonetheless, it is symptomatic of the ongoing mismanagement of the club that a young prospect was allowed to leave for a team a division below, regardless of the attraction of Sheffield United and the greater potential they probably hold. The common theory is that a derisory contract offer was tabled and swiftly rejected, at which point the Blades spotted an opportunity and acted decisively to claim his signature.

An upcoming tribunal will determine what fee has to be paid and there is an odd juxtaposition of on the one hand Blackpool demanding a sizeable sum, yet on the other hand effectively placing a low valuation on McGahey with a meagre contract offer. Taking that into account, it’s hard to imagine Sheffield United having to cough up too much and with McGahey’s potential it should be a wise investment.

It’s doubtful that McGahey is ready for regular first team football just yet and the hustle and bustle of League One could require some time for him to adapt. Anyone expecting Harry Maguire Mark II may be disappointed; while Maguire has had a strong build ever since emerging on the scene at Bramall Lane, one feels McGahey could still do with bulking up a little to cope with the rigours of professional football.

However, if managed correctly and Nigel Clough shows patience with McGahey to ease him into first team football, he certainly has the potential to carve out a good career for himself. Thrown in at the deep end of a chaotic Blackpool, a lesser player would have floundered and had his confidence destroyed. McGahey showed a maturity to handle such extreme circumstances and he is undoubtedly a big loss for the Seasiders.

Monday, 21 July 2014

The New Arrivals - Jamal Campbell-Ryce

This week on A United View we will be hearing about each of United's new arrivals from the fans who watched them last season. Each day we will be hearing the reaction to losing a player and getting an idea of what we can expect in the coming months.

First up is Stu Brothers; Notts County fan, former editor of The Notts Blog and now keeping the Zine Scene firmly alive in the digital age with Black & White Fanzine. A great follow on twitter @blackwhitezine Stu is going to tell us about Jamal Campbell-Ryce. This piece was written shortly after the move to Bramall Lane was announced and feelings were still somewhat raw.

Jamal Campbell-Ryce

Jamal Campbell-Ryce has made me quite angry. It's not so much the leaving Notts County, it's the manner in which he has done so. Footballers are little more than mercenaries at the end of the day and by now we should all be at ease with that. At the end of the day these people's careers have a short shelf life so of course they're going to chase the pound signs. But did we as a club – or Shaun Derry as a human being – deserve better from a player so shambolic until the final months of his deal at Meadow Lane?

That word shambolic, as any reading Notts fan would attest to, is putting it lightly. To put a number to how many games passed Jamal by would be to court insanity. Countless blind alleys ran down, strikers inundated with over-hit crosses, or defenders left to deal with limp deliveries that couldn't even get beyond the first man – this was the Notts County career of Jamal Campbell-Ryce for so long. A performance under Chris Kiwomya at Tranmere Rovers will take some beating if anyone is to put in a worse shift in our club's colours. I swear I saw him fly through the air, as if he tripped over his own laces, with no one within a good ten yards of him. If the gaffer had said after the game that he'd been on the ale on the bus ride to Birkenhead, it wouldn't have come as a surprise at all.

But it all started quite well for Jamal, eventually. The start to his time at the club began with him injured on the sidelines (Keith Curle, the genius) before he found his way onto the Boundary Park pitch for his debut. Sparking into life not too long after coming on, he sprinted half the length of the field before his mis-hit delivery (oh the irony) sailed over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

He was one of the bigger disappointments of the post-Keith Curle sacking toxicity that took us from play-off candidates to mid-table also-rans. We can only hope we never have to endure a time like it again – players with a cob on for months on end because their soft touch of a manager had been given the elbow. Chris Kiwomya should certainly never have been appointed – but his treatment from the likes of JCR, Dean Leacock and Andre Boucaud was a disgrace. Few Notts fans will ever forget the night JCR trudged off the field after 20 minutes one evening because he didn't like the booing he was receiving from Preston North End fans? We were the home side. There was only just over 300 travelling fans even there! 

Shaun Derry and Greg Abbott on arrival took a sledgehammer to the Notts squad upon their November arrival. Out were the likes of Yoann Arquin, Danny Haynes and Enoch Showunmi. Had Jamal joined them, very few stuffs would have been given. 

It's still quite early in the season and there's a new buzz phrase going around Nottinghamshire. You see apparently we don't call players bone idle anymore – we call them “not Derry's type of player”. Jermaine McGlashan, Craig Westcarr, even our own Mustapha Dumbuya have had this label attached to them. Jamal Campbell-Ryce however is the epitome of “not Derry's type of player”.

But by the turn of the year we were finally able to appreciate just what it was that saw Keith Curle bring him to the club. Seemingly out of nowhere we had a player with an end product. His individual brilliance to open the scoring at home to Bradford on New Years Day will rightfully be looked back on as a high point in a too-often disappointing campaign.

Given the form he was showing by the end of the season, I'm gutted we've lost him. We had a genuine menace. It's only a few weeks since he in fact put in one of the best individual performances I've ever seen as he set up Jimmy Spencer for two goals, and scoring a brace himself as we came from two goals to beat Port Vale 4-2. The impact he had for us going forward is considered a massive part as to why we're still a League One club. Less heralded though was his usefulness defensively, offering us a great outlet to run the ball out of our own third to take the pressure off a tiring defence.

So given the great faith shown in him by his latest managers after so much mediocrity – what right did Jamal have to preach about wanting to be paid “what he deserves” by our club, and via the local media no less? 

When you look at the course of his two years at Meadow Lane, claims that he “deserved” some kind of ludicrous increase in pay is just absurd – a claim I can have absolutely no respect for. Even more so when you consider Derry's words in an interview with The League Paper with the season just completed: 

“These players have to take a very close look at themselves in the mirror this summer. They have to say ‘Hang on, have I done everything – absolutely everything – to warrant being called a success?’ And if they’ve got high standards, they’d have to say 'Probably not'.”

Words that should most certainly have been heeded by Campbell-Ryce. I can't imagine anyone will remember fondly the entirety of his Meadow Lane career, a time mostly spent surprised that he was still here at all! We're of course grateful for his turnaround in form and where it landed us next season, but for him to think a move to Sheffield United on good money is something he deserves is quite staggering.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Reasons for optimism

With less than a month to go to the start of the new season and I am feeling good about the way things are shaping up at Bramall Lane. At this stage last season, David Weir was barely a month in the job and making rare forays into the transfer market. There was desperate optimism around the Weir appointment and the signings he was making. Enhanced hope for better after a stumbling end to the season and a passionless play off exit. 

This season we are riding the crest of an end of season wave that saw an amazing cup run and a surge up the lead. Do we justify the bookmakers choice as favourites, probably not, but there is plenty to be pleased about and the renewed optimism seems justified.

Yet there still seems to be a bit of whingeing and moaning on message boards and social media regarding United's moves in the transfer market. Complaints about the club not demonstrating ambition. A perceived failure to spend any significant money. But what is this ambition that people crave? When pushed it revolves around four issues. Not spending big money on transfer fees, not securing Harry Maguire's long term future, being unable to secure the return of loanees Brayford and Coady, and a perceived weakening of the team,.

Whilst references to game changing money were unhelpful, it cannot be seen as an unlimited pot and the club are clearly assessing where that money can have most impact. In recent seasons we have successfully demonstrated that money and a high wage bill is not a guaranteed way to get out of this division. The exceptions are Bournemouth - who still spent shrewdly and have then established themselves in the Championship - and Wolves. 

Further, if you look at Wolves it was a massively different scenario given the quality of players they were relegated with and the parachute payments. They were able to lose some very high earners, still keep some quality players and then supplement with players who had impressed in the third tier; such as McDonald, Dicko and Clarke. Their funds and wage capabilities allowed them to make attractive offers to players who, in Clarke's case, would well be cast aside this Summer now the job is done. In effect Wolves were able to cripple potential rivals as much as aid their own promotion charge.

But the club has to respect Financial Fair Play. The financial management of the club has come under both internal and external scrutiny and great swathes of cost savings were achieved in the last financial accounts as the club pursued a sustainable financial model. This prudent approach, ensures that the club stands on its own two feet and is not overly beholden to an owner; something many clubs have suffered as much as benefited from. It is also a model supported and praised by the Prince and his advisers.

Detractors amongst our support point to the fact that the Football League have allowed provision within the rules for 'benefactor' owners to finance a club's ongoing losses in League One and League Two. This increases demands for the club to throw money at promotion with no guarantee of success. 

The reality is you cannot throw big money about in League One, how many players move to the third tier for transfer fees above £500,000? Very few, if any. It is all about salaries in League One and alongside spend limits, the club has to be careful not to upset other players and the existing structure. If you throw big money at it and subsidise significant losses this works against a club when promoted.

The Championship rules allow clubs to lose £3m a year, plus a further £5m if paid in by an owner and converted to capital. If that is exceeded, clubs will face a transfer embargo, or a fine if they are promoted. It makes no sense for United or the owners to throw excessive money at the club in League One, or try and bend the rules with sponsorship deals etc. The time, if at all, is when the club is in the Championship and money has a much greater impact.

As a third tier club you need to accept that players come and go. In fact you have to accept that if you are a club outside the Top 4 or 5 in the Premier League. In your squad you have the ones who want to stay and remain loyal, those who use the club as a vault to elevate themselves to higher levels, older players looking for a club to stay and have some security and the young ones happy to develop under good coaches and in a successful and forward thinking club.

In amongst the many factors affecting a career decision, money makes a significant difference. One of the immediate benefits highlighted by the Prince on his arrival at United was the hope that his money will make it easier to retain our young players. Obviously success on the pitch is the key element, career progression within the club helps, yet money is a key differential. 

I am damn sure we will have offered Harry a salary at the top end of League 1 salaries. This will still be within our wage structures and FFP rules. Mal Brannigan has said; "We have no need to sell". Unlike in the past there is no urgent need to generate cash to pay bills or fund Nigel Clough's targets.

Although the sale of Maguire would enable Clough to look at another level of player, giving us further room to manoeuvre in terms of fees and wages, we could let him see out his contract and pick up compensation next Summer. At which point we could be Championship and he might want to extend his contract. 

The alternative is that we receive an acceptable offer, no worse than what we might expect if we kept him to his contract. If the manager feels that could be best used buying and remunerating two or three good Championship/League 1 players then so be it. In all honesty Maguire would have been gone by now without the financial stability brought to the club by the Prince and the move to being a sustainable business.

Not keeping a talented young player who has spent three seasons developing and impressing amongst his peers at League One level is not demonstrating a lack of ambition. It reflects the reality of football. It reflects the reality of life. We all want to move on in our careers, we all want to feel we are adequately rewarded for our efforts and capabilities. Hell, who doesn't want to and who wouldn't want to move jobs when a higher paid role with greater status come up. Only a fool would never change. 

With one or two exceptions, there will always be someone who wants your best players. Ask Liverpool, or Arsenal, just two examples of big clubs who have struggled to hold on to their best players.

Signings have been described by some as underwhelming, which probably reflects ignorance of the players performances week in week out and unrealistic comparisons with loanees we had last season. Remember how we all got excited about Brandy, on the basis of his performances against us and Cuvelier based on a YouTube video? 

Over the next week or so I will share the lowdown on some of our new signings from the fans of their previous club, who saw their contribution week in week out. In amongst our signings so far, we have signed a player who was a near ever-present in the Championship last season, a club captain of a team that was just outside the play offs last season, a winger who has always worried our fans when we have been up against him and a striker with a good goal scoring record and a bit of confidence behind him.

We had four new signings by the end of the first week of June, we didn't even have a manager at that stage last season. Add in deals for two players who contributed to last season's improvement in form and the addition of Alcock and (most probably) McGahey, the squad and strength in depth is considerably greater. Still some say the squad is weaker, yet we have League One/Championship capability in all positions, with a  depth and flexibility in the squad that wasn't there last season. 

Yes we may not feel that we have as higher quality in odd positions, but this also assumes that Nigel Clough will play the same way, with the same formation this season. Last season was a case of adapting to what we had and making changes over time. Now he has the flexibility to act decisively in the transfer market and mould his own squad to fit what he wants to achieve. I would also say that those positions are not vital to the potential success of the club.

It is clear that the manager has a distinct idea of what he wants and has ensured that a majority of the required signings are in place to benefit from a full pre-season preparing at Shirecliffe and whilst the final piece in the jigsaw is a striker, we have enough in place to start the season and may need to be patient until the end of the window, when other managers' plans are formed and more players are made available. 

United's transfer policy is clear, with a general focus on  recruiting younger players at prices we consider value for money based on their current abilities, but where we feel there is the potential to develop their ability and value. Then they either stay or fly the nest. Like I described earlier, they either supplement the squad or supplement the bank account.

In any transfer dealing sometimes you need a bit of luck. Moreso for the impact of loan players, where the need to hit the ground running and perform at a high level of intensity for a short period is required and many haven't had to perform at that level for some time. Then there is the need to transfer that short burst into longer term consistency if they are signed. Looking back in the past, for every Glyn Hodges there is a Phil Starbuck. 

In Brayford and Coady we had two players at slightly different crossroads in their careers, each with appoint to prove at their respective clubs and both grabbed the opportunity presented at United. In the end that means they are now likely to be Championship bound, but who is to say we won't utilise the loan market with similar success this next season?

Yes we don't want to be reliant on the loan market, and certainly not to the extent Blackwell or Adams were in their reigns, but the fact wemay well be able to pick up similar deals to Brayford and Coady should always be borne in mind. Often, these deals happen much later in the window. The successful end of season also hides the fact that retaining these two players, however good it would be,  is not the be all and end all. 

With Alcock signing the need to utilise important funds and wages on Brayford becomes less of an issue. You don't win promotion based on a quality right back alone and there would be bigger priorities for that cash, particularly in terms of central defence and more particularly up front. Coady took his time to make his mark in the team and to impress and whilst the final months, his qualities were clear, who is to say that Basham or a fully fit Wallace cannot give us similar impetus in midfield? Or even a slightly different role for Baxter or Scougall.

As fans we are often too guilty of looking  back, be it to last season or back 5, 10, 15, 25 seasons. I am as guilty as most. Nostalgia gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling and you would do anything to re-create it. However, maybe the time is to look forward. Trust in the manager and his team. Build on the general wave of optimism, instead of seeking fault and blame. 

Let's not hassle Jim Phipps and Selhattin Baki about signings and when they will happen. Like the Prince's arrival, some of United's best transfer moves, best decisions and best actions in the last 12 months have happened with little fanfare, little media speculation and a great deal of surprise. Smile. Buckle up, sit back, wait and then let's enjoy the ride

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Charting the World Cup - Part 2

With the internet awash with writers offering their opinion on the World Cup, here is another alternative view on events in Brazil, the TV coverage and social media reaction. The 2014 FIFA World Cup in graphs and charts.

You can look at Part 1 here

Double clicking on each graph will expand them to full size for better viewing. Enjoy!