2560: Manchester United: Could van N
by : Chris Sherrard
However Redknapp will have to go some way to repairing the damage he caused by joining their rivals. He’s been given until the end of the season to save the club from the drop but Dan believes that even achieving that won’t be enough to win over the boo-boys.
“I don’t think he can win them over. Pompey fans are a passionate breed, particularly those from Portsmouth itself. While their shouts of Judas might eventually quieten I don’t think they’ll ever trust him fully. That said Alan Ball managed to get away with it, and he is still greatly respected. I guess Redknapp keeping out of the press for a while might well help.”
Pompey fans will be able to vent their feelings at White Hart Lane on Saturday as they take on high-flying Tottenham but it won’t be until they entertain West Brom at home that Redknapp will be able to gauge the true opinion of the fans. After a strained relationship that ended in spectacular fashion just more than a year ago Dan is concerned that it is only a matter of time before the manager and chairman clash again.
“I think it’s a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. Redknapp and Mandaric are two big personalities with massive egos. They both like being in the press, and they both like the fans to sing their name. Life as a Pompey fan has always been like riding a roller coaster, and I fully expect there to be a few more ups and downs before the end of the season. Let’s just hope one of the downs isn’t relegation.”
Redknapp is under no illusions that keeping Portsmouth in the Premiership is going to be one of his toughest tasks in the game. However Pompey fans have to believe that the once fruitful partnership of Mandaric and Redknapp can blossom again and that they can secure their top-flight status for another season.
One thing’s for sure though, there’s not going to be a dull moment at Fratton Park while Harry’s around.
8 December 2005In the final analysis, Manchester United just weren’t good enough to progress in this season’s Champions League.
Their lack of goals was the primary problem, and, frankly, inexcusable.
It’s not as if they have been pitted against the finest defences in European football at this stage.
This was hardly a vintage Benfica side. This was hardly a terrorising Lille outfit.
These, along with Villarreal, were teams that Manchester United with all its power and resources, should have beaten in second gear.
Yet when they tried to come back from the brink, when they were asked to come up with the goods, they simply couldn’t do it.
How poor and vacant a manner in which to depart from European football.
Everybody now turns their attention on the manager who will come under as extreme a pressure as he has known in 15 years as a boss.
Fergie looked a broken and empty man, sitting on that bench in Portugal as the clock ran out on his team and the sand looked to be sinking through his own managerial timer.
But, far beyond crashing out of European football for one season, Wednesday’s result could have a damaging effect on his empire.
Because where now for some of the club’s established stars who have seen their best days?
Where now for the under-performing, high-paid players so lamented by Roy Keane?
And where now for the club’s genuine star players?
Put it this way; if Jose Mourinho is half the astute tactician that he seems to be, then his hands will be warming with glee at what might be in store.
Because what is it that appears to be the missing link at Stamford Bridge?
A recognised goalscorer with a proven pedigree at the highest level of the game, surely.
And do you think, for all his genuine affection for the club, Ruud van Nistelrooy would not be tempted by an offer of silverware and success under the Mourinho revolution at Stamford Bridge?
Because I do. As much as it would pain all United supporters to see the ace Dutchman depart, what could be done to prevent it?
Chelsea’s power brokers are not stupid. If they want a player, they have every trick in their locker.
A quiet word from Arjen Robben in his compatriot’s ear – ‘Hey, Ruud, don’t you fancy winning something this season?’ or ‘United have nothing but struggles ahead, come over to the fun side’. And so it might go.
Don’t think he wouldn’t be tempted. Footballers, at least dedicated ones like van Nistelrooy, want to pile up as many medals as they possibly can in the course of their relatively short careers.
Honestly speaking, Chelsea will win more silverware in the next few years than Manchester United, such is the rebuilding job facing the Old Trafford club.
Scholes and Giggs must go sooner rather than later. Silvestre is not good enough. Neither is Park or Smith. The list goes on.
Manchester United need to keep hold of the world class players they currently possess otherwise the road back will be even longer and harder.
Van Nistelrooy, like Ronaldo and Rooney, is one of those men.
Lose him, especially if it is to Chelsea, and it’s good night to English football as a genuine competition for the next five or more years.
8 December 2005