Hmmm… nail on head

The truth hurts...

Not that many stateside will care, but today’s Guardian in the UK paints a depressingly familiar picture for United fans ‘looking forward’ to this season. The truthfulness of many of these statements is truly shocking…

Manchester United
The club
Years since a trophy: 0 (Carling Cup, 2006). But three since they last won “their” Premiership trophy.

The bottom line
The ever-popular Glazer family, headed by Malcolm, who made his money by investing in mobile-home parks. Bought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995. Debts currently stand at a trifling £660m.

An optimist speaks
If United finished second without a midfield last season, what will they do with Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes? And attacks will be much more liquid without the constipated presence of Ruud van Nistelrooy.

A pessimist speaks
The midfield has less bite than Shane McGowan, Cristiano Ronaldo’s heart isn’t in it, the fragile Louis Saha makes Darren Anderton seem like Geoff Capes and referees will have it in for Wayne Rooney. Fans chant “La la la la la la la la, Keano!” (as Darren Fletcher loses his 34th fifty-fifty ball).

Manchester United: the movie
It began with some railway workers in Newton Heath having a post-work kickaround. Gold Trafford takes in tragedy (the Munich air crash), triumph (the unique treble of 1999) and disaster (Ralph Milne). Starring John McCririck as Malcolm Glazer, Marshall Mathers as Alan Smith and Peter Kay (who put on two stone for the role) as John O’Shea.

Remaindered by Christmas
You’ve Been Merked: Rio Ferdinand’s Alternative Dictionary. How To Get A Six Pack In Just 40 Years, by John O’Shea.

If they were a sweet…
Ferrero Rocher: A high-class confection traditionally offered to guests at major occasions. Huge international popularity but is all as it seems? The gold wrapping is not even made of foil, there’s a distinctly soft and insubstantial centre and the whole thing is presided over by an ageing ambassadorial figure who some suggest is spoiling everything.

The manager
Sir Alex Ferguson
Touchline type: Chews more gum than a bad kisser; plays his own interactive game that involves Glasgow kissing fresh air every time someone heads for goal; looks at his watch about 474 times per minute.

Fans hate
The persistence with The Scottish Player, Darren Fletcher; tactical tinkering; increasingly peculiar babbling; the ceding of significant responsibility to serial failure Carlos Queiroz.

Will say
“Youse are all a bunch of idiots”

The players
World Cup report
Ronaldo and Rooney played text tennis; Rio Ferdinand was quietly excellent on the pitch and gobbily useless off it; Gabriel Heinze took defeat with admirable dignity; Louis Saha also went to Germany.

Line into McClaren?
Like t’new England manager, Alan Smith is of proper Yorkshire stock and can properly enunciate t’word ‘booger’.

New boy
The acquisition of Carrick shows that, just five years after Juan Sebastián Verón, United’s brief flirtation with galacticism is over and that Lord Ferg hasn’t lost his rare ability to pay ridiculously inflated prices or got over his obsession with Verón-style schemers.

Poll could show three yellows to…
Alan Smith, whose reversion to centre-forward shouldn’t stop up him blundering into tackles with all the subtlety and forensic precision of Leslie Nielsen in Police Squad.

Their Theo
Giuseppe Rossi, 19, an American-born Italian forward with the touch of a Dalglish and the finish of a Rush – when he plays for the reserves.

Key WAG
Colleen McLoughlin, the future Mrs Rooney, is even more bankable than Posh: she shops, presents TV shows, shops, writes a column, shops, shops, models for Asda, shops.

The tactics
Plan A
After an ill-fated dalliance with 4-5-1, to protect Roy Keane and pander to Queiroz, Ferguson switched to his tried-and-trusted 4-4-1-1 last season. Rooney will buzz off the perpetual motion Saha, while Carrick and Scholes should ensure a higher class of ball retention than towards the end of last season. But don’t be surprised by a cunning switch to 4-5-1, with Rooney on the wing.

Plan B
OK, Teddy, get stripped off. Those were the days, eh Fergie?

The ground
Getting there
Train and Metrolink services go to Old Trafford from Manchester Piccadilly. Or park in Altrincham and get the Metrolink.

Being there
The Pamela Anderson of Premiership stadia: vacuous, strikingly attractive and relentlessly in-your-face. Commercialism hits you at every corner. Has an atmosphere that could be cut with the handle of a butter knife. Red Café diners are advised to “Be sure to keep glancing at the door. You never know who might walk in.” Les the builder from Chorlton?

Title odds
6-1

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