The Guardian’s Paul Doyle made the following preseason prediction last Friday :
Club most likely to part company with a once-great manager who’s failed to evolve? MU Rowdies. Gaffer-turned-goofer Lord Fergie apparently believes the ideal replacement for Ruud van Nistelrooy – the club’s top scorer last season – is not Fernando Torres, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or David Trezeguet but … Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose finest moment came, like Fergie’s, in the last century. And as for the ongoing midfield shambles, only treating nasal damage with cocaine could be as costly and ineffective as hiring Michael Carrick to replace Roy Keane.
(knowing me, knowing Roo, Saha!)
How convenient then, that Fergie’s United ran riot Sunday over Fulham (a club, not so coincidently, helmed by virtually everyone’s — apart from Doyle — choice to be first to face the chop, Chris Coleman, he of the war with Steed Malbranque). From the Telegraph’s Tim Rich.
With the Premiership season one game old, it is time to stop worrying about the relationship between Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. The way they sliced Fulham apart is proof you do not need to like a team-mate to play with him.
In the numbing aftermath of England’s defeat by Portugal in Gelsenkirchen, the relationship between Ronaldo and Rooney was assumed to be beyond salvage, but yesterday it still seemed robust enough.
“We have been proving that all summer,” said Rooney, who insisted he had always got on well with Ronaldo. “People say things who don’t know the pair of us and we let our football do the talking.” That he – and Paul Scholes – will have to miss Manchester United’s next three matches must be unbearable when Rooney is in this kind of form and he confessed to feeling “devastated”.
The devastation was nothing compared to that which Manchester United inflicted on Fulham’s defence which, four down after 20 minutes, resembled Pompeii after Vesuvius. For all their fitness regimes and a game against Real Madrid in pre-season, their manager, Chris Coleman, might just as well have warmed up for the fixture by organising a pub-crawl around Putney.
Chelsea opened their defense of the Premiership crown with a clinical 3-0 drubbing of Manchester City. After a talismanic performance by Michael Essien, the Independent’s Sam Wallace isn’t alone in wondering how Jose Mourniho will find the requsite playing time for one of his more heralded new acquisitions.
Mourinho said the only problem he has his with Ghana international is trying to control his instinct to cover every blade of grass, “because then I won’t have him in the areas I need him”. He also promised that Essien would not be dropped after this performance.
Which makes you wonder where Ballack fits into a midfield that looked a lot more coherent than in the 25 minutes he played at the Millennium Stadium last week. The injured midfielder was presented to a rapturous crowd at half-time and perhaps there was a subliminal message in the rogue pitch sprinkler that soaked him: not everyone here can see a role for the captain of Germany.