Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Premier League season guide 2009-10 - Manchester United

The club

Party manifesto

"British jobs for Brazilian teenagers. 0% interest on debts over £600m. Free chewing-gum for all. No Argentinians allowed in the country."

Fat cats or hard times

United are run by the leprechauns with the pot of gold. Except the pot is on HP and the plan to pay the rates is going up the wall.

Their idea of dreamland

Winning the title to go 19-18 ahead of Liverpool; Rafael Benítez and Steven Gerrard falling out irrevocably over how to pronounce the word "fact"; Carlos Tevez getting injured and, unable to exercise, ballooning to 25 stone by Christmas.

The table doesn't lie

Won the title despite not getting out of second gear. The loss of Cristiano Ronaldo might leave them light on goals, but the defence is the greatest in the club's history. In an alternative universe they are managed by George Graham, and they have cured insomnia.

If they had three wishes

1 Liverpool to get relegated

2 Michael Owen to score the winner at Anfield to clinch the title and relegate Liverpool before kissing the badge and flicking a V at the Kop

3 Electric cars, bio fuels and wind farms make oil production redundant, thus bankrupting Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

What a typical fan says

"Doom! Barcelona tore us a new one in Rome, and we have replaced the world's best player with a geriatrico and a Wigan winger. Liverpool are nailed on for the title. We'll do well to finish in the top four ..."

The players

New kid in town Michael Owen

Prolific in pre-season, United's free transfer from Newcastle is back in his native North-west and keen to make up for lost time.

English passion v foreign flair

Sir Alex Ferguson's sides have always had a strong British and Irish core, and there are nine England internationals at the club. But in his dotage he seems to have developed a Brazilian fetish, a sentence that must be open to no ambiguity whatsoever.

Watch out for

French Under-21 winger Gabriel Obertan will hope to carry on the proud Gallic tradition at Old Trafford. If he is half as successful as William Prunier, Fabien Barthez and David Bellion, he'll be the worst signing in the history of football.

Unsung hero

Un-sung Park. Not so much for his indefatigability and technical prowess, but because without him Nani would play 20 games a season more than he does.

Do not match the ambition of ...

Nani, the world's best young winger who is the natural successor to Cristiano Ronaldo and who makes and scores goals with one devastating sweep of his immaculate right foot. And then he wakes up.

Most likely to date Danielle Lloyd

Being an older-looking 17-year-old than even Benjamin Button helps Federico Macheda get into nightclubs, and his love of the fairer sex has been amply covered on MyFaceTwitter. His limited English ensures he won't know the meaning of the phrase "best to go ugly early".

National treasure

When he isn't keeping the first aid couch warm for his, er, namesake Michael, Owen Hargreaves is an irresistible force: a fusion of unshakeable mental strength and formidable athleticism. England's chance of beating the Spanish favourites without him next summer is almost non-existent.

The manager

Sir Alex Ferguson

Put your medals on the table

That would be like Ron Jeremy slipping his hands behind his head in the shower: Ferguson has won 31 trophies in 35 years.

What's his style?

Has returned to the love of his sporting life, 4-4-1-1, after a zesty fling with 4-3-3. Has a new obsession with concentration, a word he uses almost as much as "youse".

Will almost certainly complain about ...

The BBC; the injustice of having to play an away league game within a month of a European fixture; the BBC; Rafael Benítez's lack of respect; the BBC.

If they want to get ahead they could wear a ...


Worn by those with a sense of entitlement and regal bearing who take the spoils they earn as a birthright. Rather grand, whenever any upstart criticises them they ought to bear in mind their importance to the tourist trade. Recently shown to be twinned with the Emperor's New Clothes during a European state visit, it remains in place despite a double hit from a plundering Spanish Armada.

The numbers game

Years of hurt Zero

Last major trophy Premier League; Carling Cup; Club World Cup 2008-09

Title odds 2-1

Relegation odds 1,000-1

Last season

Champions League Final

FA Cup Semis

Carling Cup Winners

League discipline Yellow 58 Red 3

Top scorer Ronaldo (18)

Fair play league =14th

Points per game

against top four 1.83

against the rest 2.67

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