The Wonder That is John O’Shea-John of All Trades

When Johnny goes marching down the wing,
O’Shea! O’Shea!
When Johnny goes marching down the wing,
O’Shea! O’Shea!
When Johnny goes marching down the wing,
The Stretford End are gonna sing…
“We all know that Johnny’s gonna score”

The wonder of John O’Shea, according to thousands of Manchester United supporters, is that he is somehow a United player.  If they had their say he would play about 4 games for United.  However, so far he has managed close to 400.  Yes, that is not a typo.  In fact John is 30th on United’s all time appearance list, and by the end of next season he should pass the likes of Bruce, Beckham, Law, Crerand, and Stiles.  Yet in 20 years hardly anyone will remember John O’Shea.  Certainly he will not be joining the likes of Schmeichel, Solsksjaer or Ronaldo when fans will look back on the Sir Alex Ferguson era.  Yet John O’Shea has lasted at United for 12 years.  He made his debut after the treble season and was lauded as a versatile and very talented defender.  The future of United.

And John has played a big part in that future.  He has (so far) 4 league medals, 1 FA Cup medal, 3 League Cup medals, and even a European Cup medal (unused substitute, he did play in the loss to Barca a year later).  That is an impressive medal haul.  Especially for a player so many consider to be utter shite, useless, and at fault for most of United’s problems.  When in doubt blame John O’Shea.  Whenever he plays and we fail to win or just give up a goal, someone somewhere will point out that he was to blame in one way or another.  If he was Scottish (like with Fletcher a few seasons back) fans would point out his nationality as the reason he gets picked.  Or that he is Fergie’s illegitimate lovechild (yes, I heard that one, said only partly in jest).  So, just how the hell could such a shit player manage close to 400 games at United?

Seriously, how?!  He has no proper position at which he excels.  And he has played everywhere, and by that I do mean in every possible position.  He has played all across the back line.  He has been a winger, both sides, a central midfielder, hell he has played up front as an emergency striker.  And of course, you not need ask, he has put on keeper gloves and even made a save.  A jack of all trades, and a master of none so it would seem.  He has rarely been first choice anything when everyone was fit.  Yet, since 2002-03 season he has managed to average around 40 games per season.  Managing close to 50 in 5 of those seasons.  So he is not a Scot, does not looks like Fergie, how then?  How the hell did this ideal example of mediocrity manage close to 400 games and counting for United.

The answer to that question is fairly simple.  And in short its because he is one of the most important United squad players.  Yes, he is, shut up.  When first choice defenders and midfielders are healthy and John does not start he is usually on the bench because he can cover for almost any substituted player, and in days of  of 5 on the bench that was even more important, it gave the manager more choices elsewhere.  He can not only do it, but does it well most of the time.  John O’Shea is rarely the best player on the pitch, but he is also usually far from the worst, though in many United fans’ eyes the latter is almost always opposite.  No matter how well O’Shea plays there will always be a section of United fans who will refuse to see it.  At best they’ll admit that he wasn’t shit for a change.  However, while John lacks the flair or the charisma of some other players he is usually stable, dependable, and solid.  Yes, those are not attributes that fans salivate over, but we can’t have a team full of Nanis.  A John O’Shea is a vital and necessary part of any good squad.

He solves so many problems for the gaffer.  A player injured, not a problem, “number 22 come on down!”  Someone needs a rest?  Sure, “here’s Johhny!!!”  Need a change of formation or tactics?  “Mr. O,shea, a call for Mr O’Shea!”  Johny on the Spot he should be called.  As I mentioned he plays anywhere asked.  And not just in emergencies for a few minutes.  When pretty much all of our central midfielders were out in the winter/spring of 2006 he and Giggs run the centre of the midfield for several games, and they were quite good at it.  A big part of our 10 game unbeaten run that lasted till Chelsea showed their dominance that season at the Bridge.  And there are times when he does not play for weeks and then is asked to slot in for an important match because someone gets hurt. He does well and contributes.  You never hear a word of complaint from him.  He never asks for a raise, never for more games, is hardly in the news.  Always loyal.  Does what he is asked to do and goes home.

Of course his detractors will say that he has no reason to moan.  That he should be grateful that he is even allowed to train with the first team…  They will never be convinced.  But we all have our prejudices.  Hardly anyone noticed how poor Evra has been for a year.  But Evra has become a fan favourite, so it took quite a while for him to get some stick from the United faithful.  O’Shea on the other hand is usually the first one blamed whether he deserved it or not.  Now that Fletcher is no longer the fan favourite for “shit” (as one United fan told him to his face at Carrington some years back), its all usually on just O’Shea.  Sure we have a good laugh at Obertan and the Homeless Wonder, but they hardly play and no one really takes them seriously.  O’Shea on the other hand is a vital and long standing member of the squad.  In a couple of weeks he will be 30.  In a few years he will retire.  And if Fergie is still around, it will most likely be as a United player.  This summer we might have two testimonial games, one for former Captain Gary Neville, and one possibly for Paul Scholes.  According to tradition John O’Shea has earned himself a testimonial match.  Though I do not think that one will be a sell out full of tears of sadness and chants of gratitude for such loyal and good service provided for the club.

And that is unfair.  No he should not be remembered on the same level as one of the greatest midfielders we ever had, or possibly our greatest RB and a passionate United supporter.  But we should remember and be thankful for what he truly was (is still).  A solid player who always did his best at any time, at any position, without a word of complaint.  He like so many others who did, could have gone to some other club and would be almost guaranteed a starting place in his favourite position.  He could be Captain of some club, not just a stand in for some Fa Cup game twice a year.  It would have helped his career, he could have made as much money elsewhere and he might have become the Captain of his country then.  But he stayed, grateful for every chance.

He is quiet, unassuming, both on and off the pitch.  Not many back pages are filled with his pictures.  Or many tabloid pages.  And he most likely will leave quietly.  Even though he deserves better.  We have rarely been thankful when it came to John O’Shea.  Yet John had some great moments for us.  That game at Arsenal, with Roy, Gary and Viera.  When Ronaldo got his brace and Johny went marching down the wing.  That was a great game.  Or when we were struggling to keep our points lead and regain the league title in 2007.  And Scholes was sent off, and we prayed for just a point in those dying minutes at Anfailed.  And then Ronaldo took that free kick, and O’Shea……!!!!  And less than two months later, when we were losing to Everton, and the league was slipping away.  He popped up and got one, and we went on to win and to win the league.  That season we all joked how great a striker he was.  He scored 4 league goals on just 5 shots.  80% conversion rate!

But mostly we should remember him not for the moments when he scored for us.  But for those countless times when he came in, did his job well and went quietly back to the bench waiting for his next chance.  So yes, John O’Shea was hardly the best player for United, hell hardly the best defender, or a leftback, or a rightback even.  Usually there was always someone who was in front of him and most of the time, it was for good reason.  They were better.  But no one, for so long, could do what O’Shea did for this club.  And that is why he has lasted for so long and played so many games.  He was never a United favourite, will never be remembered as a legend.  Hell, he’ll hardly be remembered at all.  But he also does not deserve the stick he gets.  He deserves our respect and gratitude for the long years of loyal service.  Because not many players would be willing to do what he does.  I could compile a long list of players who as soon as they lost a starting place have asked to be sold, we all remember them.  Hell some of them are remembered more fondly than O’Shea is.  Even though they refused to do what the does.  Yet John O’Shea does it, does it well and without a word of complaint.  That is what makes him such a vital part of Manchester United.

And that is why he is still here.  To do a job.  Its not glamorous.  It does not get him much praise or appreciation from the fans.  But one praise he gets is most important of all.  He is still around.  Because Fergie knows the importance of John O’Shea and appreciates his service.  That is why he is still puts on that famous red shirt and has done for so many years.  And that should be good enough for us fans.  This is not someone whom Fergie tried for the hell of it, like Dong, Manucho, or Obertan.  Or some kid who is just not good enough, like Eagles, Richardson, or Gibson.  Or a mistake like the Djemba twins, Kleberson, or Prunier.  No, O’Shea has been at United since 1998, and for good reason.

New Premier League Respect Campaign- An April Fool’s Joke?

To Gain Respect One Must Earn It First

So the motto goes.  Problem with referees is that no matter what you say to them on the pitch you are hardly going to change their mind.  So whether its either “please ref, I got the ball,” or “fuck off ref, I got the fucking ball you blind twat,” the result is likely to be the same.  The ref’s decision is final.  There is of course the school of though about working the referees.  Meaning that if you moan long and loud enough you will get the benefit of the doubt next time, if for no other reason that to shut you up.  I wonder how effective that one is?  I would think that its not as effective as some players believe.  Whether one is respectful or not, its quite futile.  If anything it may just annoy the referee in question.

And players should not want annoyed referees.  Nor should the managers.  I do not believe that the refs are biased, no matter how they appear.  But subconsciously there might be something.  Something that in an instant would make them give a questionable decision against the team they are annoyed with.  Its not a knock on their integrity, its just how human beings work.  A professional referee should of course be above that, but as mentioned, they do belong to our species (its true, they did tests and everything), and are flawed.  A month ago Manchester United visited Chelsea.  And Martin Atkinson had a shocker.  I said this already in the first half.  Before the Luiz non sending off.  United had most of the ball, were not playing physically and in the whole game United were officially fouled 10 times, while the whistle blew 14 times against them.  Now I do not think that Atkinson is a bent ref, but I wholeheartedly agree with Fergie when he said Atkinson was not fair.  He was not.  He sent of Vidic but not Luiz, who could have received 3 yellow cards.  He did not call a penalty on Terry.  And he let several obvious calls go when Chelsea players were fouling United players.  So bent?  No.  Fair?  Hell no!

Martin Atkinson worked the same fixture last season too.  Chelsea got a very soft free kick near the United box, and scored.  There was an obvious foul by a Chelsea player in the area where the ball arrived and because of it Terry was able to score.  Nothing was called and United went on to lose the game by the score 1-0 and then lose the championship to Chelsea by one point.  Is it any wonder why Fergie is not happy with Mr. Atkinson?  To be fair of course, United had their share of favourable calls.  Its not about that really.  Its about the reaction and the new respect campaign that was the result of said reaction.

Fergie got a five game suspension for calling refs shit.  Atkinson unfair and weak, and Whiley (the 2 out of the 5 games are for him) fat and unfit the season before.  And make no mistake, if Fergie does not say this last comment about Atkinson there is no new respect campaign.  So Fergie has a go at a ref.  Now there is breaking news for you!!!  And the FA and the Ref’s association are appalled.  Why?  Was he wrong?  No, only Chelsea fans and ABU’s think Atkinson was fair.  And even some of them will quietly agree with Fergie.  Its not as if the FA and the refs went all out to defend Mr. Atkinson’s performance.  No they just said Fergie should not be saying such things.  And herein lies the problem.  There is no communication.  Now Fergie may have (very likely actually) said all this to deflect from United’s inept second half, but he was still right.  Problem was Fergie has a perfect excuse.  Just minutes after the game he has a microphone shoved into his face and instead of being asked about the tactics, formation, adjustments, he gets asked about the non sending off of Luiz.  So he goes off on a bit of a rant, an accurate one too, and gets five games in the better seats and a private phone line.  And other than shock at Fergie no one from the authorities came out and explained Mr. Atkinson’s decisions.  Mr. Atkinson himself is not allowed to, because god forbid he should explain to the fans why he did what he did.  God forbid we learn how a referee comes to a split second decision.  We don’t want a media fight between the refs and managers or players.  But a nice statement explaining major decisions (such as I did not see the foul, upon reflection I think I got the call wrong, but in the heat of the moment I thought it was the right call, please remember I do not have the benefit of the replay on the pitch).  You know, controversial stuff like that.  A simple explanation and a reminder to all of us that they have only a second to make that call and no replays.  How shocking would that be?  Now of course some see this idea as referees having to answer every questionable decision and if once they do engage in the debate their will be sucked into it.

Terry showing respect

The problem is they are sucked into it anyway, without us hearing from the man who actually made the call.  Now how many of us would love to have Mr. Clettenberg explain that Nani goal against Spurs?  Or why he did not send of Rooney and his elbow?  A simple and short explanation of his point of view and we could move on.  Instead we speculate to this day.  And we wait.  We would still have to wait to find out why Graham Poll waited for a third yellow to send of that Croatian bloke in the 2006 WC, but he wrote a book.  Because of said book we got to find out why John Terry was sent off by Mr. Poll in the 200-07 season.  Right in the middle of the FA’s  last Respect campaign.  Wonder how Mr. Poll felt about that one?  Oh wait!  We know, he retired and told us what he thought of it.  It was a joke.  He dared to send off the captain of England for dissent and stories started in the media.  Mr. Poll was a spotlight whore.  he loved to be the centre of attention.  And what did the FA do, even after Terry admitted to the charge?  Nothing.  They did not back their referee.  And soon after that the respect campaign became a joke, we went back to Rooney, Terry, Cole, Gerrard and others abusing and arguing with the refs.  But apparently Sir Alex Ferguson is the problem.  Players are really an afterthought.

This incident did not reignite the respect campaign

And its not what happens after the game, whether or not Babel retweets some silly picture, or what Fergie or Moyes says.  Who cares!!!  Because for 90 minutes I see constant arguing by the players, they question every decision.  I see players trying to get other players sent off by either waiving that annoying imaginary card or screaming at the ref reminding him about a previous decision.  And I have a feeling that by this time next year we will have as much respect on the pitch as we do now.  Because the authorities will not back the refs.  Nor will the media.  The media will moan when the first ref sends off a famous player for dissent.  “Oh no, he destroyed the game, he should have done everything to keep 22 players on the pitch, he thinks he’s important, he wants the spotlight, arrogant ref, is that really worth a sending off, etc, etc,.”  You can see the headlines now.  And soon after that the refs will be told to quietly ignore the abuse, the cheating, the card waving, and we will go on as always.

I noticed something this week.  I was watching the friendly between Germany and Australia.  And while Germany had some shocking calls go against them, especially that joke of a penalty, the German players hardly went after the ref and his assistants.  They made weak protests or none at all, and went on with the game.  Meanwhile Australian players, especially the EPL veteran Lucas Neill was in the ref’s face after every call no matter how obvious.  It was a stark contrast in reactions.  But the Germans were taught that dissent will be punished, while Mr. Neill got away with it for years in England.  How else was he supposed to react?  I watch the NHL and I remember the times when coaches used to throw water bottles and sticks onto the ice in protest, and players went after refs like they do in English football.  But not long ago the NHL instituted a no nonsense policy, and no dissent is allowed.  And the players just meekly go in to the penalty box even after the worst of calls. while the coaches politely ask sometimes for an explanation.  Imagine that.

Rooney, "respectfully" disagreeing

Imagine Rooney or Ashley Cole just walking away after a bad call, or standing quietly while they are being booked for an offence.  Yes its fantasy, but in any other country it does happen.  Unlikely in England of though.  The refs are too weak, the authorities are cowards and the media complicit.  A perfect storm for the first time someone gets sent off.  Now while this month long story about Fergie and Atkinson raged I laughed.  I have no problem when managers speak their minds, even if they question the refs in a manner that Fergie did.  I don’t even have a problem if managers give a bit of abuse to the fourth official during the game.  Its no biggie, the fourth official does nothing anyway, so who cares if he gets an earful.  My problem is that after the game no one will explain to us why the calls were made.  No matter what Fergie said I have my own opinions.  Now being a United fan I think of Fergie as god.  But bing an atheist I don’t really believe in what gods say.  So he could have come out and said that Atkinson had done the best job he has ever seen and I would still think he was utter shite.  I do have eyes and a brain.  So do most fans.  We know that Fergie was trying to deflect.  We only agreed with Fergie about Atkinson, he did not change our minds.  And that is the issue.  Who cares what the managers say after games.  They questions they are asked are stupid, pointless, and obvious anyway, and most of the time the answers are bland, cookie cutter, obvious crap.  A big yawn.

And that is what the new respect campaign will be if the FA wont change.  We all have a good laugh, to this day, at Graham Poll, but he was a very good ref.  And that is how the authorities supported one of its best.  How will they support the next ref who dares to act?  I think in the same way.  In order for this new joke of a campaign to work, before each game the referees must call the two captains and tell them that no dissent will be tolerated, only the captains can speak to the ref (respectfully), no one is allowed to touch or approach closer than 3 feet of the refs, and card waving will mean an instant yellow.  And any break of said rules will mean a caution, or in serious cases a sending off, and then the refs must follow their own instructions.  And afterward the league and ref association must back the refs fully.  And let them speak for god’s sake!  And this must continue not for 3 months but for the whole season and seasons beyond.  And the managers must be given some slack about what they say during the game or after it.  Only then will this work.  because the first time Ashley Cole refuses to come to the ref when called and gets away with it, the respect campaign will be over!!!

Second Manchester United Treble?- With This Lot!?

Will We See This in May?

Can History Repeat Itself?

In 1998-99 Season Manchester United won the famous and dramatic Treble.  The Premier League Trophy, The FA Cup, and The UEFA Champions League.  Oh what a month it was, almost two months actually.  The whole season was dramatic, but the run in was epic.  Our League form was a bit dodgy, we finished with 4 wins and 4 draws in the last 8 matches and the final league table looked close indeed as United won the League by just one point over Arsenal.  It was the domestic and European cup runs that made this an epic season.  A draw and replay in the FA Cup semi final against Arsenal.  And in the replay, that last minute red card, Peter Schmeichel saving the penalty, and that run by Ryan Giggs in extra time.  What a run it was.  I can still see it.  I never get bored of watching it.  Then I see him waving his shirt running towards the bench like a mad man.  We were all mad then.   Then the Final against Newcastle.  Only minutes in and Keane gets hurt.  Fergie puts in Teddy, and he scores one of the goals, and assists on the other if I remember correctly.

Then there was the small matter of winning the ever elusive Champions League.  That epic semi final  against Juventus.  We were not great in the first leg at home and took a 1-1 scoreline to Turin.  Went down 2-0 rather quickly.  Keane got cautioned which meant he would miss the Final if we went through.  And then he made himself into a legend and led the fightback to make it 3-2 and off United went to Barcelona to face Bayern Munich.  The Final itself was rather poor as far as football is concerned.  But oh what an ending.  Every United fan knows what happened.  The next thing we knew United were parading the big eared trophy while the Germans were crying.  Epic.

And we fast forward to 2011.  Till recently according to the media and some of the very optimistic United fans we were chasing Arsenal’s unbeaten season.  Then Wolves happened, and Chelsea and Liverpool, and now this silliness finally has ended.  Hell there were some talking about the unbeaten run in November.  As if it was just a matter of getting though a few easy games to finish the season.  And now we’re approaching April and United are still in three competitions.  So of course there is talk of the treble.  We have two months of football left.  8 league games.  5 CL games, and 2 FA Cup Games to play.  15 vital matches in the space of  8 weeks, with all of those weeks but one seeing us play weekend and midweek matches.  And some run around screaming the treble is still on!

Well it is of course.  Anything is possible.  But looking at our possible fixture list its rather improbable.  I would say highly unlikely!!!  I would be very happy with just one trophy, ecstatic with two, and pretty much delirious and completely mad if we did in fact win all three.  Our destiny is of course in our hands and while we still have Fergie leading United I would not count anything out.  However right now, and until we actually win anything I am an avowed skeptic.  Perhaps I have misplaced my red tinted glasses somewhere but i just don’t see it.  I would love to be so very wrong but a number of factors make me think that I unfortunately will be right.  Of course it does not take a sage to predict that we wont win a treble seeing as it happened only once in English football history.  So I am not putting myself out there.  But as each game approaches, when taken one at a time, the hope returns, yes we can get a result today.  And of course each game takes us one step closer.  We are the closest to a record 12th FA Cup.  Only two games to play in that.  And a semi final win would be that much sweater as it would mean that we could go on singing our noisy neighbour’s favourite song till at least the end of February.  That would make me very happy.

Then there is the League.  8 games left.  Away trip to West Ham, Newcastle, Arsenal and Blackburn.  Home against, Fulham, Everton, Chelsea, Blackpool.  Not easy, but it could be worse.  At home I fancy us against anyone.  And away we have actually won a couple of games this year so despite our very poor away form all is not lost.  West Ham, Newcastle and Rovers are all winnable matches.  And depending on the table a draw at Arsenal might be enough.  So the league itself, despite our very indifferent form the whole season, is quite achievable.  And winning that coveted 19th and knocking teams of perches would be special indeed.

Finally we come to the last part of the treble.  The Champions League.  Fergie wants one badly.  He wants to be up there with the other top European managers and win it 3 times.  He wants 5 European trophies altogether.  We don’t have an easy draw, but hell, it could have been worse.  Chelsea wont be easy, but without Luiz and Atkinson we will have an easier time.  And we did show we can play them well, if only for 45 minutes.  If we do go through then either Shalke of Inter await.  Shalke are a decent side, but no one is giving them a chance against the Milan team.  After the Benitez fiasco Inter have found their form and are chasing their local rivals for the Serie A title as well as fighting for the CL.  They wont be easy.  They are last year’s winners after all.  But they are not invincible.  And as with any cup game, anything can happen.  So we do have a shot to go to Wembley for possibly the 4th time in one season.  And then there is just the small matter of beating either (in all likelihood) Real Madrid or Barcelona.  Start paining the bus.  But seriously, as I mentioned, its a cup game, anything can happen.

Looking at each of the 3 competitions separately we do have a decent chance to win each of them.  Unfortunately they can not be separated.  The games will all be with 2 or 3 days rest, there will be considerable travel.  It will be an exhausting run in.  There will be no time to celebrate a victory because preparation will have to start for the next game.  It will be mental.  We can win the treble, but by mid April we can just as easily be pretty much out off all three competitions.  We could do an Arsenal.  And what worries me more than anything is United itself.

Yep, we can be our very worst enemies.  First and foremost there is the squad.  Well, it simply is not good enough.  We are leading the league by default.  And those who protest this should remember how it all looked at the end of October.  Not that it will diminish the joy of any trophy, but hardly anyone picked United for greatness this season.  Even many of the more level headed United faithful.  While Fergie was talking about value in the market we all we screaming for players as Ozil, Khedira, van der Vaart and others went elsewhere for basically peanuts.  Most agreed that we needed midfield help.  On top of the weakness of the squad we have not been spared injuries.  Several very important players have been out for sometime.  Valencia, Rooney, Ferdinand, Park, Fletcher, Nani.  And now our area of strength and depth is tested as many of our defensemen are hurt.  Against Bolton we had 5 defenders fit.  Only one, Evra, was a real first choice.

United throughout the season have been criticized for their lackluster play.  Our shocking away form, our poor displays at home, lack of creativity.  A defence that was one of the best in the world now looked ordinary.  On top of that individual players went from great to average, or from good to poor.  And last but not least there were times when our team selection and tactics could be questioned.  Sure there was the odd Blackburn game, or  Arsenal in the FA Cup when everyone went from scratching their heads to mea culpas for questioning the genius of Fergie.  But mostly it was blah.  Now we may still win trophies, hell, we may win more than one this season, but this team will not be remembered as a great team.  As far as trophy winning United teams go, this one will be quite low on the list.

And there is a reason for the very average displays and lack of the usual United attacking flair.  We’re shite.  Yep, this team is quite poor.  But its not all bad in terms of talent, on paper we’re not as bad.  However the form of some players has been shocking.  Our defence has overall been ok.  We have looked dodgy at times but its not the defence’s fault.  A couple of seasons back Edwin broke the record for minutes without conceding a goal.  It went something like 1300 minutes without conceding.  And during that time he made about 20 saves.  Less than two per game.  This season, despite a couple of dodgy moments he has been one of our best players in several games.  `And I still maintain that its not the fault of our defence.  Yes there is the form of Johnny Evans, who has been simply shocking all season.  Age has finally caught up with Gary to the point that he retired.  And Evra has been quite poor by his very high standards for a year now.  In my opinion Fergie burned him out last season and he still has not recovered.  He looks so disinterested at times.  But the rest have been good.  Vidic has been a rock, he and Rio, when fit, are still the best CBs in the world.  Smalling has been a revelation.  The twins have shown great improvement.  O’Shea as reliable as ever, anywhere he is played.  Brown hardly played, so one can’t fault him for anything really.

So our defence has been good overall.  Our forward line on the other hand is a strange one.  Hernandez is looking like one of the buys of the season.  Berbatov finally started to look like the player we hoped he would be.  He leads the league in scoring.  Of course there were some shocking surprises.  Micheal Owen got injured…  Wayne Rooney.  What a season eh?  He started extremely poorly, and it went downhill from there.  Got hurt, wanted to leave, got kicked by Scholes, signed a huge contract, finally came back, and was shit.  And kept being shit for sometime.  And Fergie kept picking him.  I suppose  its understandable considering how important he was last season and now that United have invested so much money into him it would not be good business not to play him.  But at times I wondered what the hell is he doing on the pitch.  Especially when one considers that at times it came at the expense of either Berbatov or Hernandez who have played well for most of the season.  But Rooney improved, he even had a few great games.  However I still have not seen the Rooney of last season.  Overall though our forward line has been pretty good.

What has not been good is our midfield.  Particularly our central midfield.  Our wingers are ok.  When healthy the duo of Nani and Valencia can give any defence fits.  They both create a lot of goal as their assist stats show.  We do have a worry with our depth there however.  Giggs is a legend and has been great this season, especially in the first half of the season.  But we can not rely on a 37 year old to save our asses.  Park is Park, not spectacular, but a useful squad player who has been missed badly these past few months.  After that we have no one.  Well we have bodies, but I doubt anyone is counting on either Bebe or Obertan to create a couple of goals in the CL final.  The sooner we get rid of them the better.  I am being harsh on Bebe here as the jury should still be out on him considering, but I wont shed tears if we let him go.  Obertan is just shit.

You know who else is shit?  Gibson.  Yes he has a hard shot.  What?  I finished saying positive things about him.  Though he did have a couple of decent games this season, the rest were either very forgettable of shocking.  I have a lot of patience for players who come from the academy and through the reserves ( I defended Fletcher in 2005 and 06), but I have given up on him.  Not good enough.  Cleverly hardly wore a United shirt but is already better than Gibson.  And Gibson is just a small part of the problem that is our central midfield.  The former fan favourite for abuse, Darren Fletcher, blossomed into a vital member of our squad to the point that many claimed that if only he played in Rome..  However Rome is almost two years past, and while he was very good last season, the same can not be said for this  term.  He has not been shit, but great has has not been either.  He went from our midfield dynamo, the man that brought memories of Keane into mind to being bland and average.  Still, it could be worse.  His name could have been Michael Carrick.

Now I was a great admirer of Carrick and appreciated the little, hard to notice, things he did.  On top of that he was one of the best passers in the league.  When Scholes could not play or was poor no problem, Carrick could control the game.  Now, not so much.  Not in any way as a matter of fact.  His positioning has been poor, tackling bad, he losses possession constantly and the only way he knows how to pass these days is backwards or sideways.  There are times when he reminds me of Kleberson.  Anderson has shown only glimpses of the talent he has.  Then he got hurt again.  So now, on top of relying on a 37 year old to beat fullbacks, we have been forced to rely on a 35 year old to run the midfield for us.  And sadly the great Paul Scholes has reached the time when he is no longer capable of running the game all by himself.  Oh he can still do it from time to time, and even when he is not great he still is better than the shite alongside of him, but its time.  We simply can not rely on Scholes’ genius on a regular basis.

And there is the rub.  Our heart, our centre of the team, our brains, creativity, protection, is not good enough.  That is why we did not record a shot on goal against the Wolves for the last 70 minutes of the game.  That is also why we give up so many cheap goals and why our defence is under so much pressure.  When Scholes returned from his eye thingy in 2006 and we got Carrick all of a sudden we dominated teams again.  Our keeper could have come to the game with a book and our attackers simply flooded the opponents goal.  And it was all due to the two men in the middle of the pitch.  Right now though they are either not playing well enough or simply are not good enough.  And that is what is supposed to win us the treble.

Yes, our hopes and dreams of glory rely on a midfield that is not even in the top 4 in quality in the league.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Paul Scholes, he is a legend, and to me, the best midfielder in the past decade and a half.  I love Fletcher too, had faith in him when not many did, and I still do.  I did fall out of love with Carrick.  And I think that Gibson is not good enough.  And I am struggling to decide about Anderson.  Will he be the next great midfielder for United, or did we buy a Kleberson?  But is this midfield good enough to beat Chelsea twice, or even three times?  Or Inter, or Barca?  We may have to rely on our wide players for creativity and on our defence and keeper to save us.  And that is what worries me this season.  Aside from the silly and premature talk of the treble.  There are big holes in this team.  All we really need is for two players to step up, or buy next summer.  But what important players they are.  Because unless we go back 30 years and start hoofing the ball, everything goes through them.

In the end I am pretty confident that we will win something this season.  Just how much and what remains to be seen.  But it will be a strange season.  Full of worry and controversy on and off the pitch.  And after we celebrate we will be left with more worry.  Worry about the future.  Because as much as Fergie can be a miracle man and one can never count out a team managed by him we do need reinforcements.  And how can we get them when there is absolutely no value in the market even though we have 160 million just sitting there, waiting to be spent.  We know its there, Mr. Gill told us it is so, our owners have assured us.  They would never lie, would they?

Published in: on March 26, 2011 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It Sucks Being A Manchester United Fan- Thank You Glazers

It does suck.  Really it does.  I know what you will say:  “Shut up moron, your club is winning everything under the sun and you’re moaning, you could be a Pompey fan, or Leeds (if you are really unlucky).”

Well yes, I could be.  But not really, and I’m not.  I’m a United fan and yes my team has won 3 League titles in a row.  Won 2 Carling Cups in a row (last less than a month ago), and won the Champions League in 2008, made the final last season.  This season we are in the middle of a fight for another, unprecedented fourth in a row, League title.  The 19th in our storied history, the one that would put us above the hated Liverpool FC and truly “knock them of their f***ing perch” as one great man said.  Last week we have just won a tie against the great AC Milan (3-2 and 4-0 were the results of the two legs, truly historic and a show of domination) and got into the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League.  Wayne Rooney, United’s star is scoring goals for fun (32 so far this season).  Life could not be better.

Except, it could.  Despite all that great, and unprecedented success on the football/soccer pitch I am not all that happy.   Hell, I worry everyday.  In fact, I am almost depressed because of United.  Why do you ask?  Well its simple.  My club is in trouble.  Great trouble in fact.  We had all this success, and in today’s game it means huge financial rewards.  Last summer we sold a player who wanted to go to follow his dream.  We sold him to Real Madrid for record breaking and staggering 80 million pounds.  United’s revenue last fiscal year was close to 300 million pounds.  If it wasn’t for the weakness of the English pound we would be the richest club in the world.  We have signed a new, very lucrative shirt sponsorship, on top of that we are signing many other deals with companies all over the worlds.  Yes the money is pouring into Old Trafford.

And that’s the problem really.  The money is pouring in, but more is pouring out.  No we are not like our bitter neighbours Manchester City, we are not buying 200 million pounds worth of players.  We are not building a new stadium.  What for?  We have one of the best stadiums in the world.  Old Trafford just celebrated its 100th Birthday.  Its capacity is over 76,000 and over the decades it has been modernized, there is no need for a stadium.  United’s matchday revenue is around 3 million pounds per match.  We’re good there.  So where is it going?  Its going towards paying off our debt.  Well not ours, our wonderful owners.

Yes, our great and wonderful owners “bought” the club while having no money.  So they borrowed and borrowed and now our debt is 716 million pounds.  Yes, 716 million English Pounds.  Over a billion dollars.  A football club is in debt for that much.  And through no fault of its own really.  United before the summer 2005 were a PLC, a publicly traded company.  The club made a profit pretty much every season despite breaking numerous British transfer records (yes we bought some great and not so great, expensive players).  The club made profit despite paying very high wages to players.  The club made money despite rebuilding/expanding the stadium on a couple of occasions in the decade plus before the takeover.  It was the richest club in the world.  Then the takeover happened.  I wont bore you with all the financial details, many of you know them (those who do not go to here:  http://andersred.blogspot.com/ its a great blog by a financial expert who writes about United’s current sorry state).  I’ll just give you a quick run down and my view of it.

My view was quite distant.  I am not English.  Not a season ticket holder, I did not own shares of United that I was forced to sell (many supporters did).  The takeover did not really affect me personally I thought.  Before the age of fast internet there was not too much a person like me could learn or get involved in.  I am an old-ish fart and so my computer experience was limited till around 2004-05.  I did not have much time anyway.  So my involvement with United was limited to watching games on television and reading the odd article that appeared in American or Polish papers (was born in Poland and we have decent Polish language press here and from Poland).  I also do not come from a tradition of local, fan owned clubs.  Most people know how sports clubs are run and treated in America, and from what I remember Communist run Poland was even worse.  So I have no natural aversion to some private person owning and running the club I love.  Hell I do not care if he is English, Polish, American, Chinese, or green with pink polka dots.  Matters not to me really.  Well it didn’t, till I got to understand truly what English football culture is about.  So to get back to the story.  I had a rather neutral view of the takeover.

Some American billionaire wanted to own Manchester United.  Oh well.  What I knew of the Glazers is that they owned Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.  Well I did not know much or care much about Tampa, Jets are not their rivals, so whatever.  And the Glazers managed to gain ownership of United.  There were protests.  Thousands of fans protested the takeover.  At first I did not understand why.  When I learned a bit I had some sympathy for them.  Then the unthinkable happened, several thousand gave up their season tickets, boycotted Manchester United, the club they claimed to love, and left.  They formed a new little club.  Football Club United of Manchester.  What?!  How, what happened?  Surely being owned by some Yanks can’t be as bad as that?  Even if they borrowed money to buy the club.  They’ll pay it off eventually I’m sure.  So what it they wanted to make money off the club.  They are businessmen, why shouldn’t owner make some money?  Hell under the PLC the profits went to shareholders in dividends.  What’s so different about this?

Well it turns out, a lot.  There were warning signs.  The first should have been the leveraged buyout.  But then every year United had to show something of their finances to the British govt.  So every year more warning signs.  And it soon became obvious.  Those who protested were right.  The doom and gloom brigade was right.  Each year the debt increased!!!  Yes.  First it was due to refinancing.  Then it turned out that despite paying around 60 million per year in interest and loan payments, United’s debt got bigger and bigger.  Still, somehow it will work itself out.  The Glazers are not stupid, they must have a plan, they’ll do something and get this under control.  it was worrying but let not jump to too many conclusions without all the facts.

The facts came this winter.  It turned out that the Glazers were selling 500 million pounds worth of bonds.  Now that’s not so bad at first glance.  But then they opened up the books, in order to sell the bonds.  716 million worth of debt!  Almost 200 million more than less than 5 years ago when they bought the club.  Not only have they failed to pay any of the debt, it actually fucking increased.  What the hell?  As any person on planet Earth knows, yes its possible.  We have seen some strange financial dealings over the years, and the meltdown proved anything is possible.  Eyes were really opened.

United Protest: Green & Gold Campaign

Yes, those on the fence, those who did not want to believe it, those who worried, but put off worrying to concentrate on the football, finally opened their eyes and joined those whom they called the doom mongers not long ago.  It was easy for many, especially during such great success, to avoid thinking about United’s financial state.  But now only the most deluded wont.  The successful bonds sale put off doomsday till 2017.  That is when the bonds will mature.  The bonds will cost United around 45 million per year in interest.  But where the hell will the Glazers find half a billion pounds to pay them off?  Simple answer is they wont.  But it gets better, there is still the small matter of the other 216 million pounds to pay off.  Those loans mature quicker.  And some are PIK (payment in kind) loans, high interest loans from hedge funds.  So the payments wont be 45 million per annum, but somewhere between 60 and 70 million pounds per season.  That’s just maintenance, without paying off the principal (again, for details I urge you to visit :  http://andersred.blogspot.com/ .

Yep, 60+ million per year, just to service unneeded and unwanted debt without ever seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and United debt free.  Because by now its obvious to everyone that they have absolutely no intention of paying the debt off.  Happy days.  Yes, even the biggest muppets are opening their eyes.  After all where will the money to buy new players come from?  Just how much can the Glazers milk the fans out of?  The ticket prices are already very high.  How many more new sponsorship deals can we sign?  We already, through our success, made as much money as we could, from television and prize money.  What happens when we stop winning?  And we will stop, sooner or later.  No team keeps on winning forever.  What then?  Well then we will be truly fucked.

And fans are beginning to protest and boycott.  Yes, Manchester United’s biggest and most loyal supporters do not wish to give any more of their hard earned money to the Glazers.  The problem is that by their actions they might be quickening the demise of the club they love.  That is what the Glazers have done.  And mass boycott will have far reaching consequences.  But what else are the supports do to?  Wearing Green and Gold  scarves at matches (green and gold were the colours of the original team Newton Heath LYR, when the name was changed to Manchester United in 1902 the colours changes to red and white) and singing anti-Glazer songs can only go so far.  And to be frank.  Its temporary.  Just how genuine a protester will be if he keeps coming back and will be giving money to the Glazers season after season?  Its a problem.  A big problem in fact.

That is why I am writing this.  Not to bore you with a badly written outline of the takeover and the current situation.  I too am conflicted.  Thanks to some lovely people from Manchester I am currently reading the latest issues of United fnazines (independent United magazines run by the fans not by the club).  And it breaks my heart to read them.  Many of the stories in Red News, Red Issue, and United We Stand deal with the problem of possible boycott.  And they are truly heartbreaking.  Fans who have been going regularly for decades are considering giving up their season tickets.  Many of them are not priced out.  They just can’t go anymore because of the Glazers, the debt, and the modern football culture.  Yes.  Loyal supporters are willingly considering of not attending any more Manchester United games.  And at a time when United are winning.  These are not some jcl glory hunters, but true die hard Reds.  Think about that for a while.  Just how bad does a situation have to get that thousands are considering seriously to leave.

And its all the fault of those gimps from Florida.  These people stayed, conflicted, through the new SKY football era.  They stayed when the Football League changed to the Premiership.  They kept coming even after the atmosphere was diluted by bunch of corporate gimps.  they stayed after the ACS (Automatic Cup Scheme) was announced and implemented.  They kept going knowing full well that to the powers in charge they are not fans or supporters who come to cheer on the team they have loved all their lives, but instead they are costumers only.  To be ignored and milked out of money at every opportunity.  Yes they stayed.  Until now.

Now I don’t know how this will turn out.  I don’t know just how successful the G&G protests will be, whether or not they will do any good.  I don’t know if the consortium known as the Red Knights will be successful in buying the Glazers out.  Hell I don’t know how much better they would be if they did.  I don’t know what will happen at the end of the season, on and off the pitch.  I don’t even know whether or not we’ll be able to beat the hated Liverpool on Sunday.

But I do know this.  I sucks being a United fan.  It sucks that true and loyal Reds have to worry over things they should not.  It sucks that the Football Association and the Football League saw that the Glazers were somehow “fit and proper” enough to own Manchester United.  It sucks that there are no laws preventing there things form happening.  It sucks that in the most successful era of English club football the supporters have to see one club after another go down in yet another financial meltdown, where only relegation, administration, or wind up are becoming norm.  It sucks when so many of England’s historic clubs, large and small are under threat and their fans fear for their existence.  It sucks that an otherwise, a very competent football executive, David Gill, if forced to lie through his teeth when he talks about United’s finances.  It sucks that the greatest football manager in history, Sir Alex Ferguson, has his values questioned by fans.  Yes.  It really does suck.

Finally it sucks that even an inconsequential armchair supporter like me is forced to write this.  It truly sucks that I can’t buy a United t-shirt because that would mean compromising whatever little principles I have.  I sucks that whenever I put on previously purchased shirts I feel conflicted.  And it really sucks that if (as reported) United come to the States for a summer tour i will be forced to choose between the club I love and want to see live, and between those said principles.  It sucks that I have to sit and worry about things that really should not matter to some foreign git like me.

So yes, it really sucks to be a United fan.  For that we all have to thank the Glazers.  So in conclusion.  Love United Hate Glazer.  Green and Gold till they die or the club is sold.

Sir Alex Ferguson- 23 Years at Manchester United

400x400_siralexfergusonnew5

Great Scot!! He's still at it!

Bloody hell!!!  Its been 23 years since Alex Ferguson joined Manchester United.  When I look back over all those years I don’t think I could have imagined such success and longevity from United and its manager.  These days managers hardly last 2 years, let alone 23.  Yet he survived, flourished in fact.  And he did it at a time when football in England was changing.  The great stubborn Scot changed with it.  And he carried on Matt Busby’s tradition of great attacking and successful football, while utilizing the Manchester United Youth Academy.  Yes there were the Cantonas, Schmeichels, Keanes, but United’s greatest success was the coming of Scholes, Giggs, Butt, Neville, Beckham, and now Fletcher and Evans.  And there are more great youngsters on the verge of the first team.  At the same time Fergie was not afraid to pull the money trigger and break English transfer records to bring in the likes of Ferdinand, Rooney, the above mentioned Cantona, Keane, he tried to buy Ronaldinho, Essien, Shearer, Gascoigne.  Anything to win.  That is Ferguson in a nutshell, he wants to win, and he takes pleasure out of seeing his team develop.  And after 23 years, his drive and joy have not diminished one bit.

That is what makes Fergie great.  He’s a winner.  Everyone knows about his great success at United:

11 League titles

2 Champions League titles

1 Cup Winners Cup

5 Fa Cups

3 League Cups

Amazing, and he won his first trophy in 1990, it was not until 1993 that United won their League title, after 26 years of wait.  In 17 seasons United won the English Premier League 11 times.  But people tend to overlook his success at Aberdeen, before he joined United, he broke up the Celtic/Ranger monopoly, the last manager to win in Scotland not with the Old Firm.  In 8 seasons there he won the SPL 3 times in fact, won the Scottish Cup 4 times, the League Cup once and he won in Europe too.  Little Aberdeen beat the mighty Real Madrid in the Final of the Cup Winners Cup in 1983.  He averages one major trophy per season in since he signed with Aberdeen.  That’s not counting the one off minor trophies.  And he did it on his own.  He did not inherit great teams, he built them.  It was always his way or the highway.

Manchester United was in turmoil when he came.  A big, underachieving club that has not won the League title in almost 20 years, a cup here and there was considered a success to the once proud United.  Managers came and went, United were even relegated in the 70’s for one season.  It was a team that had good players, but they could not win consistently enough.  Drinking culture at the club was rampart, fitness levels were low, and discipline was almost nonexistent.  Ferguson did not like what he saw.  Many other clubs tried to sign him.  Arsenal, Totenham, Rangers of the SPL, but he refused.  He went to United instead.  And on November 6th 1986 everything changed at old Trafford.

He set about getting discipline back to OT, he sold talented, but troubled players, and revamped the United Youth Academy.  Success was not coming though.  The team did not perform any better than it did under previous regimes.  But he stuck it out.  And there were rumours of his imminent sacking.  Fortunately those proved to be false.  Then he started winning, and never looked back.  He kept changing the team but one thing remained constant.  United won and won rather regularly.  There were many times that everyone wrote him off.  Most notably in the summer and early fall of 1995, after he sold a few of his most influential players and stuck unproven kids to replace them.  Alan Hansen’s words still make United fans laugh.  That season United won the English Premier League title, and the FA Cup.  I guess you can win things with kids.  It was not different in just 3 years later.  Arsenal, under their new manager Arsene Wenger won the League and Cup double.  United were written off once again, the time of the mighty Gunners came.  During the 1998-99 season Manchester United won the famous Treble.  The League, FA Cup and the European Champions league, followed by two more League titles in 2000 and 2001.

The 2001-02 season was said to be his last, Arsenal won the League and Fergie was going to retire.  Fortunately he changed his mind.  And he promptly won the League again in 2002-03 season.  Then came the unbeaten Gunners, and Chelsea FC with their money.  100’s of millions of pounds were spent at Stamford Bridge to help Chelsea win titles.  Which they did for two seasons straight.  During that time Manchester United only managed to win the FA Cup once in 2004.  The team was rebuilding.  In the fall of 2005 there was great turmoil.  Roy Keane, the great Manchester United captain, did a controversial interview on MUTV in which he criticized many of his teammates.  Roy was promptly sacked.  Then United followed it up with getting knocked out of the Champions League stages, finishing last in a weak group.  The sky was falling, out of Europe, United’s League form was poor, the Captain gone, calls for Ferguson to leave were coming from all over the place.  Articles were written, fans made banners and chanted for Fergie’s sacking.  He just went on.  United won the League Cup that season, and gave Chelsea a good run for the title, finishing second.

But more controversy followed.  United only signed a back up goalkeeper and a central midfielder, while selling their best scorer to Real Madrid.  At the same time there was hoopla over United’s very talented but very frustrating Cristiano Ronaldo who became enemy number one in England after the World Cup.  And Chelsea had gone from strength to strength, bringing in even more stars like Ballack and Shevchenko.  Chelsea were crowned champions even before the 2006-07 season started.  United were on the decline, and were going to finish below Spurs or even West Ham, in 5th or 6th place.  Ruud van Nistelrooij was sold after falling out with Fergie the previous spring.  United did not buy a new striker.  “Where were the goals going to come from” was a question frequently asked by football writers and fans alike.  Goals did come, and United went back to winning titles.  Ferguson’s patience with the talented, but frustrating Ronaldo paid off, in the following three seasons the young Portuguese winger/forward scored 23, 42, and 26 goals respectively.  Before that his highest tally was 12.  United won the League 3 times.  Reached two Champions League Finals, winning once in Moscow against Chelsea in 2008.  Another League Cup was added.

And Ferguson keeps going.  Now he says he’s not thinking of retiring.  He wants to go on as long as his health allows him.  He is 67, but his drive, joy for football and dedication to Manchester United has not diminished one bit in the 23 years he has been at Old Trafford.  He still does the famous “Fergie Jig” on the sidelines when United score yet another late goal.  He still has fun.  And that the most remarkable thing about him.  He has fun.  He does not shy away from controversy.  He takes on the BBC, referees, the FA, players, other managers, football writers, anyone who stands in his way.  But he still has fun.  He has made mistakes to be sure, he even admitted to some.  But it would be impossible to find a manager who did not over such a long career.  He sold/got rid of many stars for many reasons.  Discipline, Straham, Ince;  Hughes, Kanchelskis, when he thought the team needed a change.  Beckham, when he thought he was too distracted.  Staam, for writing a few things in a book.  Roy Keane for speaking out, Ruud when he fell out with him.  Yet Manchester United kept on winning, and looked stronger after each loss of a player.  The last one was Ronaldo, a player he did not want to sell.  A player he treated with kid gloves, for one reason, the boy was special.  Just like he treated the great but controversial Eric Cantona.  He too was special.  Time will tell how United will cope with the loss of the world’s current best player.  But I know one thing, I wont be betting against Ferguson and United.

I consider Sir Alex Ferguson to be the greatest football manager in the history of the game.  However I am having a hard time in deciding whom to put as United’s greatest manager.  Another Scot, Sir Matt Busby, took over United in 1945.  The team had no stadium, Old Trafford was bombed during WWII.  Before the war it was rubbish.  Even flirting with relegation to the Third Division in the 30’s.  But Matt Busby remade the team.  Along with Jimmy Murphy he changed the way football was played in England.  He too never shied away from controversy.  He relied on young talented players in and age when it was believed that players should not play for the first team till they are in their mid 20’s.  Busby’s Babes, as they were affectionately called, fielded players aged 21, 20, even 17.  Talent mattered, not age.  He defied the Football League and sought glory in Europe by joining in the European Cup competition.  He too sold/got rid of players on a whim.  It was Busby’s way or the highway.  He built a great young team, already great, but on the verge of even more brilliance.  But it was not to last.  After the tragedy at Munich, when United lost 8 of its players and two coaches in an airplane crash, Matt Busby, after fighting for his own life, rebuilt the team once again.  Just 5 years later United won the FA Cup, two seasons after that a League title followed.  In 1968 Matt Busby finally achieved his dream and won the European Cup.  It was after he left that United fell into dark times.

Those lasted until Alex Ferguson came to Old Trafford.  Both Scots came from poor backgrounds, both were good players, and later great managers.  Both believed in attacking football, and sought glory at home and abroad.  Both never shied away from controversy.  Both believed in youth and the United way.  Whom to pick.  I guess I would have to call a draw on this one.  Maybe with one or the other coming in front in “Fergie Time.”

I am a lucky Manchester United fan.  Just old enough to remember some of the dark days, but most of the time I followed United they were playing under Alex Ferguson.  The trophies came, and they came in great bunches.  It was unthinkable to imagine United even reaching Liverpool’s great domestic record of 18 League titles.  When Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford the tally was 16-7 in favour of LFC.  Liverpool managed 2 more by 1990.  United were still on 7.  Last May Manchester United celebrated their 18th League Championship.  Yes, 18!!!  Unbelievable.  And Ferguson is still at it.  Now some have written him off already, but he keeps going.  Building another team, watching while his great “Fledglings” are slowly replaced by new younger players, and the team remodels itself for a new era.  Hopefully it will be as great as the previous one.  Ferguson met each challenge head on.  Always looking forward.  The day after United won the Champions League he was already talking about the next season and the challenges it would present.  And while he does not, we should, especially today, look back in wonder at the things he’s achieved with Manchester United.  And looking back all I can say it to quote his reaction after Manchester United came back very late in the game to win the 1999 Champions League Final by scoring two goals.

“Bloody Hell!!!”