Whilst it is not quite the end of the season for us yet, with West Ham’s relegation being confirmed yesterday, it would be wasteful not to reflect back on the Hammers demise.
After all in their league games against us this year, their performances summed up their whole season which just has not been good enough for Bobby Moore’s old team.
Count your minds back to our 3-0 win over the Hammers back in August, where we comfortably won our second league win of the season. It was a good performance by us and it was a great way for the boys to bounce back from their scratchy performance at Fulham where despite being ahead twice we failed to win drawing 2-2 after Brede Hangeland powered in a late header.
Of course without wanting to disrespect Fulham – whose performance on the day derserved at least a point – we had a great chance to seal the game but Nani dissapointingly missed a penalty that would have made it 3-1 minutes before Hangeland scored.
We started the game pretty well with Nani forcing Rob Green to tip a powerful strike onto the bar. Nani was definitely trying to make up for his penalty miss the weekend before. Finally after several close shaves, we took the lead with Wayne Rooney holding his nerve with a penalty after ex-Red Jonathan Spector had fouled Ryan Giggs.
After half time, we came out quickly and finished the game off. A great ball from Nani found Dimitar Berbatov at the back post to put us ahead. Berba doing the business, acrobatic ally volleying home to score his 3rd goal of the season – in what of course was going to be his best season at Old Trafford.
Not long after Nani got his goal, which was fitting given his performance. His strike was a thing of real beauty, cutting inside his marker after a flowing move before burying the ball past poor Robert Green. With 15 minutes left, Sir Alex Ferguson made changes handing Chris Smalling a home league debut in place of Jonny Evans as we comfortably saw the game out
Whilst Avram Grant’s side would not have expected to get anything from the game, his team showed some worrying signs in the defeat at Old Trafford that would sum up their season. Whilst Scott Parker worked hard in midfield, West Ham just did not have enough quality where it mattered most and after a good showing in the first half Carlton Cole slipped back into Nemanja Vidic’s pocket after that.
Fast-forward to April to our reverse fixture at Upton Park which we spectaculry won 4-2, with a comeback victory that’s become a Manchester United trademark so to speak. In what was an early kick-off, West Ham started the game brighter and were 2-0 up thanks to two Mark Noble penalties which Tomasz Kuszczak could not nothing about.
Taking a 2-0 lead into half time, Hammers fans could not have been happier as with their team struggling at the bottom of the table, this was just the kind of result that they had been dreaming of. Sadly their dream turned into a nightmare as we spectacularly turned the game on his head by scoring four times in a 19 minute spell.
Yes we were somewhat lucky in the first half that Vidic was still on the pitch after he escaped red-cards for fouls on Cole and Demba Ba, but in this game there’s the old saying that you make your luck. That’s exactly what we did and we certainly took advantage of it.
To be fair it was a game that West Ham should never have lost, but the way in which the team battled back was something spectacular with Rooney stealing the show grabbing a 14-minute hatrick. A brilliant freekick made it 2-1, before a brilliant turn and shot gave us the equaliser. There was a sense of predictability after that and before our fans could even think that we’d be ahead soon, we were.
Somewhat harsly perhaps Matt Upson was adjudged to have handled a Fabio cross and Rooney did the business lashing the penalty home much to the delight of his teammates. With us now ahead for the first time in the game, Grant’s side just couldn’t live with us and minutes later Javier Hernandez clinched the game stabbing in a Giggs cross-shot.
Whilst it had been a great win for us and a game that sumed up our season in that despite being againgst the odds we got the job done, it was a demoralising result for the Londoners. Grant’s side would go onto lose five games out of their next six with yesterday’s defeat at our neighbours Wigan finally confirming their relegation after a 6 years in the Premiership.
That thrilling game at Upton Park was just one of many games in which Grant’s side surrendered a lead and one in which the team just couldn’t live with the opposition when the going got tough. Yes Parker was missing that day but the rest of their squad have not been good enough. Unlike the last time West Ham were relegated in 2003, this time there can be no excuses from their fans.
It’s staggering to think that in between the league games between the sides, we lost 4-0 to the Hammers at Upton Park in the Carling Cup. Looking back at the game then, it was probably the highlight of West Ham’s season which sadly for them was to turn very sour indeed.
With the Hammers moving into the Olympic Stadium in 2012, their relegation yesterday confirmed that our visit to Upton Park last month will be our last league visit to the old ground.
Despite us having some bad-times at Upton Park in 1992 when we lost 2-0 whilst going for the old Division 1 title and in 1995 when Ludek Miklosko somehow stopped us winning the league from Blackburn Rovers, it’s a ground that we’ve come to know quite well down the years.
It shall be intresting to see what happens to West Ham next year as it could be a while before we visit them again. With a squad that’s likley to see major-changes over the coming months, despite moving into a new stadium they could have dark days ahead.
Adam Dennehey – @ADennehey87
Transfer blow for Man United as £13m difference could stop the deal for Portugese star
Bruno Fernandes transfer to Manchester United at the risk of collapse
The transfer of Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Lisbon is at the risk of collapse with Sporting Lisbon holding out for £55million, according to Portuguese station TVI24 (h/t Metro).
The 25-year-old midfielder has informed the Portuguese club of his wish to move to Old Trafford and has already agreed on personal terms with United. Sporting are unhappy with United’s opening offer of £42m, which is £13m short of the Portuguese club’s expectation.
United’s offer contains a number of add-on clauses that can eventually take the deal to £60million. Sporting, however, deem the conditions improbable and are seeking a greater fee upfront.
Sporting are unwilling to drop their asking price as United have failed to include a player in exchange as a part of the deal.
The Portuguese side were willing to accept a lower fee had a player been included. However, neither Andreas Pereira or Marcos Rojo were willing to move to the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Fernandes played in the 2-0 loss to arch-rivals Benfica in what could be the player’s last match for Sporting.
The Portuguese club have demanded a minimum of £55.3million as a guaranteed payment. They also expect United to include bonuses that are more achievable.
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Sporting will have to pay 50% of the sell-on fee to Fernandes’ previous club Sampdoria and will look to get as much as they can from United.
Man Utd agree on contract terms with midfielder who could be signed for £51m
Manchester United have reportedly agreed on terms with Bruno Fernandes
Manchester United have reportedly agreed on terms with Portuguese star Bruno Fernandes. (h/t Sun)
The 25-year-old has played 25 times for Sporting this season and has scored 13 goals and 10 assists. (h/t Whoscored)
United were to make their first formal offer for the player. It is being reported now that the deal has already been agreed upon. (h/t Sun)
It’s claimed that Fernandes has been offered a deal nearing £100,000-a-week at United.
The signing of the Sporting skipper should provide the United midfield with numbers and an attacking impetus.
The midfielder has an £85million release clause in his contract but Old Trafford bosses have been working to drive the price down. The club were also open to offering two players to bring the price down. (h/t Sun)
Fernandes was part of the Portuguese squad that won the UEFA Nations League in 2019.
He has won 19 caps for the Portuguese national side and has scored 2 goals since making his debut in 2017.
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United next play Manchester City in the second leg of the Carabao Cup semifinals at the Etihad on Wednesday.
The Red Devils trail 3-1 from the first leg as they aim to get to their first final under Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
Man United veteran snubs extension and demands immediate transfer
Ashley Young rejects one-year contract extension offer
Veteran star Ashley Young has rejected a one-year extension on his contract at Manchester United. (h/t Sky Sports)
The 34-year-old’s contract at United expires at the end of the season and the player looks likely to leave in the summer. Inter Milan are said to be interested in securing Young’s services (h/t Sky Sports).
Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is keen to keep the player at Old Trafford. Young is one of the leaders in the United dressing room and has the versatility to play in multiple positions.
Antonio Conte has been a long term admirer of Young and even tried to sign him when he was at Chelsea. Conte is ready to offer the play an 18-month contract at Inter with a considerable pay rise.
Young joined United in the summer of 2011 and has gone on to make 261 appearances for the English giants.
He took over as captain from Antonio Valencia at the beginning of this season.
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Young is keen on moving to Inter immediately rather than waiting for the summer (h/t Daily Mail). He has been left angered by United’s refusal to sanction the deal in January.
United are in the midst of an injury crisis and losing Young would deal a harsh blow to whatever little chances we have this season.
Man United to enter head-to-head battle with Arsenal for this £19m-rated MLS wonder kid
United and Arsenal to fight it out for Atlanta United forward Ezequiel Barco
Manchester United and Arsenal are interested in the signature of MLS wonderkid Ezequiel Barco. (h/t Daily Star)
The 21-year-old winger, who plays for Atalanta United, has impressed since his move to the MLS from Independiente in 2018. Barco has made 59 appearances for Atalanta and has scored 9 goals and 9 assists. (h/t Whoscored)
He won the 2017 Copa Sudamericana with Independiente and scored in the second leg of the final through a penalty as the Argententians prevailed 3-2 over Flamengo.
Both Manchester United and Arsenal need midfield reinforcements in the January transfer window and Barco would be a good signing for either club.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer needs additions in the midfield with Paul Pogba and Scott Mctominay out injured. United also sold both Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera in the summer and failed to replace them. Barco can score and assist and be the creative spark that we need.
The 21-year-old has represented the Argentinian Under-20s, 9 times and has scored 2 goals. (h/t Whoscored)
Atlanta value Barco at around £19m, which would be a snip in today’s market.
With the likes of Inter Milan, Sporting Lison and AS Roma also interested in the player, United must move quickly to secure him if we want to avoid a bidding war.
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With the player’s contract running till 2022, Atalanta hold the aces in any negotiations