Things aren't currently going to plan in the north west - with Manchester United resorting to bringing Paul Scholes back and Bolton Wanderers struggling at the bottom end of the table, todays game will provide the region with much needed time to shine.
It is with impeccable timing that the TV show ‘Sherlock’ is currently garnering rave reviews, such is the air of mystery and intrigue that is slowly but surely enveloping north west football at this moment in time. Indeed, it would lend significantly to the atmosphere if a sinister mist were to shroud Old Trafford at 15:00 this Saturday. Something fishy is going on and make no mistake, not just in the Theatre of Dreams but across the region as a whole. Suarez-gate and the reactions of Liverpool Football Club in general and, in particular, Kenny Dalglish? Bizarre and unexpected. Roberto Mancini morphing into football’s very own Professor Moriarty, a glint of menace in his eye as he berates officials, opposing players, TV reporters and anyone else who happens to stray into the realms of his manically paranoid lair? A transformation of Jekyll and Hyde proportions when comparing his current tetchy manner to the mild-mannered nice-guy who won so many people over at the end of last season. What of one of the biggest clubs in world football resorting to bringing back a 37 year old retiree to bolster the midfield? Astonishing. And, in a plot-line straight from a Hitchcock novel, the will-he, won’t-he ludicrousness of the Gary Cahill transfer saga? Perplexing and downright strange.
Firstly, an appraisal of the Cahill situation. To summarise, the deal with Chelsea was widely expected to have been completed a week ago. Yet still here we are, seemingly no closer to conclusion with only Chelsea’s word to go on. Stamford Bridge ‘people’ attribute the delay to Cahill’s personal demands. Cahill has rightly remained silent. Owen Coyle continues to claim that a deal is in the offing. So who, in this web of intrigue, are we expected to believe? I fear that a situation akin to last summer is unfolding, whereby the general consensus is that a move is imminent yet, as time rumbles on, such a scenario becomes increasingly unlikely. But surely that won’t be the case? Cahill’s England displays have seen an increase in potential suitors. If AVB doesn’t conclude the deal (and he is surely a far better bet alongside John Terry than the defensively naïve David Luiz?), surely ‘Arry, Alex or A.N.Other will step in and avoid a catfight during the summer? Whoever it is, the deal needs to be concluded swiftly to enable all parties to progress.
De Gea hasn’t been on the press-hack radar for the past few days but it is surely only a matter of time before he drops a clanger the size of Razor Ruddock’s underpants and remedies that little issue.
It has to be noted though that Cahill’s attitude has been exemplary throughout. His displays on the pitch have been as committed as one could expect and he has maintained a dignified silence throughout the never-ending episode. Will he turn out for Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford? I doubt it but what do I really know? Sooner or later there will inevitably be a period of learning to cope without him so why not start it at the home of the champions? David Wheater, whilst at the opposite end of the spectrum to Cahill in terms of playing style, is a reasonable replacement in the team. Nigel Reo-Coker is thriving amidst the current adverse circumstances and has clearly become the leader of the team. And, in the most unexpected development of all, David N’Gog actually looked like a semi-proficient finisher in the recent away win at Everton. Would it be churlish of me to expect two such displays within the same season? Perhaps N’Gog is a secret vigilante; the Premiership equivalent of Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey in the Death Wish movies. In a to-the-death allegiance to his former charges, he plays like a t**ser in 85% of games prior to turning it on against the teams which Liverpool fans just love to hate? Perhaps this really could be a good time to be playing Manchester United after all…
Speaking of whom, what the hell is going on at Old Trafford right now? I’m not naïve enough to jump aboard the lunatic-laden ‘Ferguson has lost the plot’ train but there are clearly deep rooted problems at the club. Paul Scholes will always be in my top-3 Premiership-era footballers but to thrust him into first-team action again smacks of desperation. Is it really the case that a football club of the size and stature of Manchester United do not have sufficient midfield options to prevent them from having to tempt ex-players out of retirement? This decision really does beggar belief and must have led to Mancini and Redknapp dancing little naked jigs of delight under the light of the full moon this week. One thing it has done though is removed the spotlight from United’s other current problems. The Rooney / Ferguson relationship is surely strained and there will be a perverse kind of pleasure taken from seeing how that progresses over the next few months. De Gea hasn’t been on the press-hack radar for the past few days but it is surely only a matter of time before he drops a clanger the size of Razor Ruddock’s underpants and remedies that little issue. And the less said about their leaky defence the better.
So what of the game? Well, if Owen Coyle is cute about this, he’ll bring Bob Taylor out of retirement and the great man will return to the scene of his finest moment in a Bolton Wanderers shirt, netting again at Old Trafford but this time in a 1-0 victory rather than a 1-1 draw. However, should Coyle stick with his current squad, I expect a wounded and depleted Man United to still be too strong and return to winning ways. It won’t be a sp*nking of the magnitude that recent encounters with the top sides have generally resulted in but I’ll reluctantly say a 2-0 win to the Red Devils, the goals coming from the vastly experienced boots of Jesper Olsen and Russell Beardsmore. Though that sinister mist and fishy aroma will linger round the famous old ground long after the final whistle has echoed – I get the feeling that this story has a few more twists and turns before the season is done…
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