United’s Transfer Saga

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Even out here in Tampa having read and studied the David De Gea transfer situation and thought about it quite a lot, it seems to me that the whole point has been missed on the transfer of David De Gea.

Real Madrid as it widely known is short of money. The TV rights in Spain are being shared out a whole lot more fairly.

Ed Woodward rejected one offer from Madrid earlier in the summer and those at United grew increasingly annoyed with their public chase of the goalkeeper without putting in another bid that was serious until deadline day.

Florentino Perez wasn’t really in a great place to make a big splash in the transfer window as Real Madrid were not in a position where they could spend big money. Or, at least, the kind of money that United wanted, which is why the offers, when they did come, were so insulting. As Perez had made the promise to buy a Galactico every year, he had to be seen to go after De Gea, and hoped that he could try and force United to sell on the cheap on the very last day of the window.

Is that befitting behavior for a man in charge of running one of the biggest clubs in the world? No, and with the statements he has come out with after the deadline closed, we’ve seen the measure of the man. I wouldn’t be surprised if his days as president are numbered yet again. He may have attempted to play a clever PR game but it’s blown up in his face and he has shown his hand where Manchester United offered to contact UEFA and he refused. Finally DavidDe Gea has signed a four year contract, so obviously he has seen through it as well.

At United I was a little concerned to see us spend so much on Anthony Martial. I’ve been a firm believer that we should give one of our kids coming through a chance but I think with the transfer window closing, the club chose to take a gamble on the young player.

The jury is out on Martial – I know some people will be excited with his goal against Liverpool but let’s remember Memphis Depay got off to a great start. I just hope that these two signings don’t end up being positions in the team that could just as easily have been filled by a Ross Barkley, Harry Kane or James Wilson.

We will just have to wait and see… very interesting.

Elite Camp In Annandale

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The Gordon Hill Elite ID Camp comes to Annandale United Football Club, Virginia, USA.

Gordon held a four day Elite ID Camp from Thursday August 13th to Sunday August 16th with over 100 players in attendance between our U9s and U18s Boys.

“It was an unbelievable experience for all of these boys to see Gordon’s understanding and knowledge of the game, personal character and technical expertise and how he was able to communicate his vision of what he was looking for from every single player,” said Trevor Parker, Director of Coaching.

“As a young boy I watched Gordon Hill, he was my favourite player and when out on the local pitch or with my team I constantly tried to play like him. Fast forward to 2015, what a great man and a great coach! The players of Annandale soaked up his passion, understanding and teaching of the game. I have been around football all my life and this was four days of fantastic football for our youth and all of our coaches” said Bo Amato, Technical Director.

Annandale United FC will continue this relationship with Gordon, assisting with the coaching when our 16s, 17s and 18s Boys travel to Orlando over Labor Weekend for the Disney Soccer Showcase.

Gordon will then travel back to Virginia In December to run his 2nd Elite ID Camp, focusing on improving all of our players techniques and also looking for players to take to England next Spring and Summer 2016.

“I very much enjoyed my time up in Virginia and was very impressed with the set up they have at Annandale,” said Gordon. “As everyone knows, I am passionate about the future of these young American players and it is encouraging to see the work being done. I look forward to working more with them in the future and, using my work with Chesterfield, hopefully presenting some with an insight into the English game.”

A New Season!

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 08.55.21A new season is here already and I wanted to share a few thoughts on Man Utd’s summer.

Bastian Schweinsteiger has been a great player and has been saying all of the right things about joining United. But talk is cheap. What happens if, all of a sudden, he gets injured, and struggles to perform on the pitch?

If he’s not producing it then it doesn’t matter what he says or how many nice pictures he takes. I can’t take anything away from the player that he has been. He gave everything for Bayern Munich and had such a fantastic and wonderful record there. But the second you get to Old Trafford, I’m no longer interested in what you did before. I’m interested in the future and knowing what he can give our club going forward. Look at van Persie. He said all the right things when he was at the club but now he’s in Turkey, where is he held in highest esteem? Probably Arsenal – I’m already hearing people saying he was a one season wonder at United.

I admit I’m concerned about Schweinsteiger’s injury record but he starts with a blank page at Old Trafford and as I always do, I will see what he does on the pitch here.

Familiar problems

Adnan Januzaj has a big year in front of him. He had a good breakthrough year and got a lot of criticism for not reaching the same standards last season. I’m not sure he’ll be a good centre forward but it’s a big year, whether he goes on loan or stays at United.

It’s like Harry Kane, who will have a lot of pressure this year. There has been talk of United moving for him but I would wait some time. We don’t know much about his reliability – is he as good as a Suarez?

You’re not letting players discover themselves. To me it’s the same old, same old and try as I might, I never end up really encouraged by what I see. And it’s so difficult because I keep banging the same old drum… On the training pitch I practice what I preach by encouraging young players to enjoy the game and try different things… while I’m away in the US, I always hear the same noises about how encouraged everyone is about the state of the game in the UK, but I go back for months at a time and realise nothing really has changed. It really is upsetting.

Could Bale be the right man for United?

Gareth has had some stick but I think he’s done a great job over in Spain. He’s suffered abuse from Spanish fans who don’t like him and it’s been unfair. I’ve seen a few Madrid games where he has been isolated and almost frozen out of games by their own players but he’s done as well as he could be expected to.

On the left hand side he would be a phenomenal signing, but what price do you pay? He’s rarely injured, he’s tremendously fit, and has so much talent. When you hear of the money we are looking to pay for some players, I don’t understand why Bale hasn’t been the number one target, and why he wasn’t first choice when we brought in Di Maria in the first place.

Gareth might not want to be seen as a failure in Spain but I don’t think that he would be if he left. At this point I think it’s probably safer to bet on him staying at Madrid.

I also wanted to share with you information of a product I’ve been working on over the past few years.

‘Cool Kapz’ will revolutionize comfort for console gamers. In recent years consoles have developed their controllers to become more ergonomically sound for customers but for serious and dedicated gamers that’s only half the battle.
After long periods controllers can become hot and uncomfortable, causing breaks or interruptions in play, often at crucial moments.
‘Cool Kapz’ changes all that. These smooth, comfortable and customisable accessories fit snugly on the tip of the analog sticks of your controller to help control hand and finger temperature. ‘Cool Kapz’ are made with the most tehnologically advanced silicone materials in order to provide comfort for long periods. They fit perfectly on your controller and can be used with other accessories, providing no obstruction and only enhancement to your game play.

Is The Money Talking?

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 16.35.28It is eight years since David Beckham signed for the MLS side LA Galaxy from Real Madrid and it will not be news to anyone reading that the Los Angeles team have just announced their signing of Steven Gerrard on a free transfer from Liverpool.

This comes a matter of months after Frank Lampard ‘signed’ for the new franchise on the other side of the country in New York, a move that has seen its fair share of controversial headlines since.

I will go on record now as saying that I am the first to admit I have seen a rise in the quality of the football in the MLS in the last eight years but is it reflective of the money spent? Has the quality of football really improved that much?

Everyone knows what happened with Beckham, he came with a lot of razzamatazz, talk of a $250m five year contract and speculation that a whole array of stars would follow. That never happened the way we thought.

Beckham annoyed a few with his loan spells back in Europe although it was a little understandable, as a professional desperate to play for England I could understand that patriotic urge. He needed to be in a spotlight and a competitive arena that demonstrated he still had the quality, and his injury while on loan at Milan in early 2010 was devastating for him.

Thierry Henry was arguably the biggest name to follow and he did okay for New York Red Bulls but was clearly not the player we had seen at Arsenal. Other players like Robbie Keane have come and done a good job but he was hardly of the profile of Beckham or even Henry.

Let’s forget about the money for a minute and look at the players making an impact on the game, raising its profile and paving the way for others. Gerrard comes over with his reputation as a fabulous player in his career but nobody can be fooled that he is not the force he once was, he is long past his peak and going in the wrong direction, and so coming over on a huge payday has to raise fresh question marks over the MLS going in the wrong direction.

LA has a lot of sport going on and the Galaxy are still in the process of trying to establish themselves… they won’t fold, the MLS won’t do an NASL in the short term, but we’re still in a process, and it’s a process that doesn’t show any signs of advancement when players like Gerrard are coming to the league and getting huge wages. It’s not sustainable.

Look at the Lampard situation with Manchester City. It’s a farce and clearly looks like some manipulation of the rules. The only ones to lose out are the fans in New York who have been sold false promises but the underlying message is the damaging one, worse than money – a club, or franchise, in the US can still be used as a plaything by a European club. If you allow yourself to be treated in a certain way then you only have yourself to blame.

Manchester City do have a tradition of their own but this modern incarnation of them is not familiar to those of us who grew up watching and playing with and against the likes of Franny Lee. Before their takeover they were a small, proud club making their own way. The point I’m making is that by now I might have expected teams in the MLS to provide good competition for the likes of the old Manchester City, a mid-table Premier League side, but the standard is no better than the Championship.

Add Gerrard and Lampard to the equation and I have to wonder if the ambition has gone the other way, if the MLS is content to be viewed as that graveyard for Premier League players to retire that people seem to dismiss it as. Where’s the ambition?

It just saddens me to see it go like this, moving forward with no real progress, particularly after such a wonderful year for US Soccer with the World Cup in Brazil.

Jurgen Klinsmann has done such a fantastic job despite the problems that exist in the infrastructure of the sport which I have written about plenty of times before but I don’t think that the adequate and appropriate advancements are being made at club level to support the progress at international level.

At least Beckham has shown some dedication to the American game by the plans to re-invest in a Miami franchise (although that has gone quiet) but if anyone had said to me that the biggest news in the North American game eight years after David Beckham signing would be David Beckham buying a franchise then I would have been a little disappointed, as I am.

I don’t blame Steven, that’s the nature of today’s player, you have to accept where the money is being offered, but I’m just disappointed in the Galaxy and MLS – it seems like a backward step and makes me wonder if anything has been learned from the spending of all of this money.

I was on the RetroUnited.com podcast as usual last week. You can listen to it by visiting the website here.

From Player To Fan

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 17.18.56We all know that Manchester United provides a unique platform for any professional to test themselves on. It is unlike any other club. I would like to think that every good professional wants to win every single time they’re on that pitch; many accept that winning isn’t always possible, but there are that select few which still feel that is the standard they should be aiming for.

If your career at Old Trafford is successful it is more than likely that you have that attitude. Of course, with the best will in the world you can’t win every single game. At United, though, there is the expectation from the media to do so.

They recorded their fifth win on the trot at Southampton. The first of those wins came after a number of references to the start David Moyes made as manager and how Louis van Gaal wasn’t doing much better. Monday’s win has got some ranking them outsiders for the title.

I’m not going to write or say anywhere that I think United are favourites for the title but let’s have a look at the way the entire league has been effected in the last few weeks. People have talked about the money spent by Louis but has he provided something money can’t guarantee? The team spirit on display in the recent wins seems to suggest so. Yet that hasn’t fooled anyone into believing United are playing at the level they should be (and maybe that’s a good thing going into Sunday’s game).

It’s not just United, though. I look at the other nineteen teams and maybe there’s only Everton consistently playing at a level I expect. All teams have a wobble and we’ve even seen that with Chelsea’s trips to the North East. Mourinho’s team are still favourites but their results have opened the door to a number of teams – and yes, United are among them – to think they can have a realistic challenge for the league.
You can see a mile away that United are playing a far quicker style of football under Louis than they were under David. That much is obvious. He’s been braver and bolder and his direction is one he hasn’t faltered from. Okay, so it’s been rocky to say the least, but he has persevered with it and seems to be getting somewhere. There have been patches of good football against the so-called lesser sides at Old Trafford and this is what we’ll be hoping to see more of. Essentially what we want and need to see is the run of good results start to generate momentum and confidence.

Raised expectations are only natural. Manchester United are a national institution and, as I say, a special case. Their expectation is to be at the top of the table and eight points at this stage shouldn’t be a lead they should be scared of. Supporters will hear Louis van Gaal describing United as the best club in the world and they can start to believe it again; the players will hear it and know they have to start performing like it again. And the media people will wonder if his actions speak louder than words – well, he was able to convince Angel Di Maria to sign, and as I said, he has the strength of character to believe in himself.

Still, in spite of those elevated expectations from others, I hope that come what may, the assessment of United’s season is based on the circumstances within it. When we came up from Division Two in 1975 nobody knew what to expect; we finished third and it still serves as a great annoyance when I’m reminded about it because we could, and maybe should, have won the league that year. That said, we knew that from where we had come, third was more than anyone could expect. We exceeded even our own expectations even though we were confident in our own ability and scared of no-one.

United’s aim and expectation for the first year was to get back in to the Champions League and that looks as if it was a realistic hope based on what we have seen so far. If they are able to get into one of the automatic qualification positions then all the better. Perhaps the greater challenge for Louis van Gaal has been restoring the identity to Manchester United and slowly but surely, they’re getting there.

How’s Your Luck

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 15.34.05First of all, sorry it’s taken so long to update my website. I’ve had a busy time recently which culminated in spending Thanksgiving weekend in Disney World in Florida.

Alright for some? I wasn’t there to see a mouse or ride on any roller coasters, though, I was working. One of my young teams were participating in a tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex which is on the Disney property and I must say that the facilities were immaculate and top class. I don’t say that lightly.

We didn’t win, but as I always tell the kids, it’s not always about winning when you’re young. It’s about developing and learning. I know it’s easier said than done, I would be inconsolable even if I lost a kick about when I was a kid. You have to learn and improve and overall, our time there was a fantastic experience.

Some of my thoughts were mentioned on the RetroUnited Podcast (which you can listen to by going here) but I just wanted to share my views of Manchester United’s own development so far this season.

They’re getting there. And that’s because their manager is a born winner, too. United have slowly improved over the last few weeks, to win their last four games. They got lucky at Arsenal but didn’t they earn that luck? It’s been a horrendous time with injuries. They did okay against Chelsea and against City until the sending off but it still felt like some way off being the United we know.

That will hopefully come in time, I want to see the return of the days when United go into those big games taking the game to the opposition and I know Louis – he’s a man who wants to play attacking football. It’s good to get points on the board and I want to be encouraged but I also don’t want to get carried away – we’ve played well in patches in our recent home wins but we’ve got to remember they were against Palace, Hull and Stoke.

Stoke were a bit more resolute – as you would expect they would be when Mark Hughes is back to Old Trafford – but, for me, still a little fearful. Maybe that’s a good sign, that the fear factor is returning to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, but for me I think those recent results were just as much about the inconsistency of our opponents as our own quality. However, things are looking up.

It will be a Dutch reunion on Monday when United go to Southampton and I for one am looking forward to an entertaining game of football. Anyone who has read my autobiography will be aware of my love for the way that Dutch coaches and players like to play and even though Southampton have had a little dip recently, I think Ronald Koeman will approach this game relaxed and wanting his team to attack.

There will be some of the fear factor – there always is whenever United roll into town, and it’s growing once again – but let’s remember a few months ago the Saints were most people’s choices for relegation. It should make for an open game.

Win or lose, we’ll still be some way off knowing any concrete ideas about how United will fare, but just as I tell my young players – it’s about the journey just as much as the destination.

Derby day re-cap

Last week I spoke to my ghost writer Wayne ahead of the Manchester derby.

Despite United’s loss I feel justified in all that I said! You can read it at this link or read the content below.

Manchester United legend Gordon Hill says that his old club’s best chance of success in this weekend’s derby could be the apparent loss of the ‘fear factor’ that Manchester City had built up at the Etihad.

City lost 2-0 at home to Newcastle in the League Cup this week and the former Reds winger nicknamed ‘Merlin’ believes that the momentum generated from that result, coupled with United’s late equaliser against Chelsea, may count in his old club’s favour.

“City always look like a team that can produce good performances at home but if you look at them this season, they appear to have lost the fear factor at the Etihad. The seed of doubt has been planted and that could be something we can take advantage of,” insists Hill.

Additionally, David Silva and Yaya Toure picked up injuries against the Magpies and are slight doubts for the game. Hill says the pair are crucial to the Champions style of play. “Everything goes through them,” he says. “They are the two most important players in their system. And, potentially, how much better can they get? This City team is the finished article, you know what you’re going to get, they’re at their peak.”

The cliché, of course, is that form goes out of the window when derby day comes around, but most clichés are derived from regular occurances and it’s a theory that Hill subscribes to. “This is one of the biggest derbies in the country so all bets go out of the window. As is often the case, you’ll probably see a stalemate with them cancelling each other out, or a real cracker of a game,” he says.

Hill has been passionately vocal about wanting his old side to succeed over the last twelve months, notably on the podcast that accompanies this website and also in his book which I was honoured to ghost write. One needs only merely ask the question about how United should approach the game and Gordon appears insulted that it should even be questioned.

“On the podcast I said that we should go with whatever style is a winning style but the bigger point is that Manchester United should always go into games looking to win them and particularly in matches like this. It does not suit Manchester United to sit back, we saw that last season, this club is built on attacking football and trying to win football matches and that’s what we should be doing on Sunday,” says Hill.

The philosophy of the new manager Louis van Gaal has been put under the spotlight in recent weeks following the use of a long ball game at West Brom. Gordon’s points on that are covered in the podcast but he extended on that to say he hopes that the Dutchman is building a clearly defined first eleven.

“We’ve seen the sport involve into a squad game. When I was at the club everyone knew what they were getting when Manchester United came to town and that’s why we sold out everywhere and that’s why the atmosphere would be so feverish. The famous Manchester United were in town,” explains Hill. “Nowadays you might still get a packed out crowd to see a player who’s normally a substitute for the reserves, so is the feeling still the same for those who get to see them? You can see from the calibre of players he’s brought in – from a superstar like Angel Di Maria to a fabulously gifted and under-rated worker like Daley Blind – that Louis looks to be building an established first eleven, a team that says ‘We are Manchester United’… at least, that’s what it seems like. And I hope that’s what he’s doing because that’s what I would love to see.”