Could the words “Like a phoenix from the ashes” be uttered by Manchester United players, supporters and financial nerds as the club and current Premier League Champions seem to be on the brink of turning an almost tumultuous season around? Recent happenings at Old Trafford seem to be more conclusive and surefooted than those of the past few weeks and months. Here’s a few reasons why I believe the red half of Manchester can turn this roller coaster of a season into some form of success.
The Gary Neville-Carlos Tevez fourth grade name calling affair rages on in the media and on blogs to the delight of Manchester United fans. Why? Well, involved in this tit for tat spat is arguably (on current form) Manchester City’s best player, most important figure and leading goal scorer. In the United corner stands 43 year old bench warmer and Fergie suck up, Gary Neville. Until next Wednesday’s 2nd leg decider, City fans, players and more specifically Tevez himself will have the untimely annoyance and distraction of this silly little fracas to contend with before the trip to Old Trafford where a 1-0 slug fest will see United through to Wembley. It’s also a match where Gary Neville is sure to not even feature. City fans will want Tevez to put his head down and focus on football, United fans will hope Neville continues his immature behavior and stays focused on doing what he does best, infuriating people. Advantage United.
World class defender Rio Ferdinand is set to make his long awaited return this weekend at home to Hull City. United have delt with a number of defensive injuries this year and have now lost Republic of Ireland international John O’Shea for the rest of the season. Ferdinand’s return comes at a perfect time as United look to break through to the Carling Cup final and will travel to the Emirates to face current league leaders Arsenal next Sunday. The 30 year old Ferdinand’s experience in central defense will be an asset to United down the stretch if he can stay fit. He’ll also want to impress England boss Fabio Capello to assure his spot in the England squad isn’t at risk.
The question When Will Owen Hargreaves Return To Manchester United? was recently asked and Ferguson has spoken of his intentions to include the England International in his 25-man Champions League squad. If Hargreaves can reach the fitness levels he displayed in 2006 at England’s last World Cup, he’ll be a huge asset to Manchester United’s Premier League and Champions League campaign. With Nemanja Vidic due back in a fortnight, the bottom line is that United’s spine is close to being back to full strength at it’s most important time of the season.
For all the doom and gloom surrounding Manchester United recently, the team that’s “on the verge of collapse” will most likely go top of the league this Saturday albeit for a few days if they can see off Hull City from the comfy confines of Old Trafford. The message to rivals and the rest of the league is that if a stuttering United attack can reach the pinnacle of the league even when Arsenal and Chelsea will have 1 and 2 games in hand respectively, then watch out for a full strength United firing on all cylinders.
The £500 million bond issued by the Glazers has been fully suscribed according to reports from the Times Online. What this means besides the revenue coming into the club and although the annual interest bill will mostly be unaffected, is that it does allow some breathing room for United from lenders and strict financial conditions that would have made life difficult for United if they are less successful on the pitch. The money raised from the bonds will go to servicing the debt that was secured against the club.
For now, the sky remains intact above Old Trafford. United supporters will anxiously be seeing out the next few weeks as the club have matches with massive implications on their Carling Cup run and their Premier League title defense. If results go their way, matters will start to look up for the Champions as their season looks poised for silverware.