Manchester United 2 – 0 Wigan Athletic: Frankly Vulgar Matchday #2

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There are very few photos in existence that show the new chairman of The Football Association, Greg Dyke, looking this happy.

 

These big showpiece FA events are about as much fun as watching a ‘classic’ (e.g. a repeat) edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and generally about as memorable as the last thing Justin Bieber tweeted (incidentally his last tweet was this: “WE ON A BREAK!! #restandrelaxation – #unlessIhitthestudio” – I’m sure historians everywhere will be scrabbling to note that down for posterity). 

Today’s Community Shield match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic at Wembley Stadium wasn’t much of an exception. A few old guys (who on this occasion looked a bit like the Chuckle Brothers) shuffle past the players offering weak handshakes, presumably just before being ushered to a euthanasia booth somewhere. Then the national anthem (that po-faced hymnal to our pointless monarchy) is sung, not by the fans, but by some opera singer who thinks she’s at the Super Bowl. If you happen to be on Twitter when one of these things starts brace yourself for the only actual legacy of the Olympics: a barrage of somnolent “jokes” about when Emeli Sandé will turn up to belt out that bloody Professor Green song

The actual match was decided by two goals from Robin Van Persie, underlining just how important he will be to ‘Man Yoo’ as they get ready for a post-Rooney future. The first, a languid header sent past Scott Carson just inside the right-hand post, was a typical example of his superb technical ability and his ghostly accuracy. The second which came just before the hour, was a scrappier affair. After some neat build-up play from United, Van Persie received the ball on the edge of the Wigan area, dropped a shoulder and shrugged the ball past Carson with the help of a deflection off James Perch. 

Looking at the starting teams I had a masochists excitement when I saw that Phil Jones and Grant Holt would be having what can be described as a fugly-off with each other. Such a clash would not be out of place on a mud-sodden battlefield during the Wars of The Roses, given the mutual, lumbering Englishness of their styles. Alas the promised confrontation never really arrived, principally because Wigan (unlike Holt’s former team Norwich) have not yet adjusted their game to get the best out of the big lad. 

New look Wigan are a very different prospect from the silkily doomed side managed by Roberto Martinez last term. Owen Coyle is building a side as British as getting savagely glassed on a freezing August evening in Leeds City Centre after a big night of binge drinking. His approach is typified by summer signings like Holt, Crainey, Perch, Carson and Barnett. Pick of the bunch is young James McClean, freshly arrived from Sunderland,  an Irish pugilist who specializes in running in straight lines and pushing people, qualities which ought to lead to great success for him in English football’s second tier. 

In fact, Wigan’s best chance of the game was created by McClean, who fired the ball dangerously across the six yard box after Smalling misjudged a long pass from Crainey. The cross/shot couldn’t be met by Holt, when only a touch would have plundered a cheap goal for the Latics. Set-pieces, long balls and looping crosses, nothing too fancy for Coyle and Wigan. 

United’s win was merely whelming. 39-year-old Ryan Giggs started here, still astonishingly pert and wiry, still urbane in his passing and movement, still inevitably amongst the best players on the pitch almost every time he plays. Ostensibly this is good for United, but it is also symptomatic of their weaknesses in midfield that their best player in that area (beige pass-o-meter Michael Carrick aside) will be 40 in November. It is actually difficult to imagine United not having a crap midfield, and even more difficult to imagine a player as accomplished as Cesc Fabregas taking touchline orders from new assistant coach Phil Neville. 

These pronounced weaknesses in midfield are a gnawing problem that David Moyes will have thought about long before the short period on either side of half-time when Wigan’s tinpot midfield was on top of United’s.

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David Moyes and Malcolm Tucker (above) have never been pictured together. Coincidence?

 

 

With the amount of opprobrium and obloquy that surely lies in wait for Moyes this season I almost expected his shirt to be blood red, prepared for all the knives and arrows that will be aimed at him, waiting for the first inevitable slip-up. As soon as that first fuck up comes I fully expect some clichéd American army guy (played by Stephan Lang) to appear at any moment just to fatuously utter in Moyes’ ear: “Davey, you ain’t in Kansas anymore.”  

Right now he is the mini-Ferg, the diet-Ferg – same stripey tie, same gum but will there be the same results, the same relentless ability to win that characterized real-Ferg? A look of distinct discomfort was briefly visible on Moyes’ face as he lifted his first trophy, before he returned to looking like a slightly healthier Malcolm Tucker. 

 

Everything Must Go: The People who Relegated QPR

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It’s not Arry’s fault. Honest guv.

Incompetence. Greed. Laziness. PR disasters. And thats just Jose Bosingwa. In a mere two seasons, QPR have stunk the Premier League out good and proper. Tony Fernandes has been left hanging from a branch like a bloated, beaten piñata, gleefully smashed by agents, managers and players. Today, Frankly Vulgar delivers it’s damning personal judgment on some of the people have contributed to this sorry, sorry mess. 

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These two are probably less full of mirth right now.

Park Ji-sung

Park is what I imagine Europe’s capital cities were like in April 1945 – a fucking wreck. He isn’t so much a footballer as he is the remains of one. Gone is the big game gyro, Fergie’s go-to-hustler, his oxymoronically offensive shield. I remember watching Manchester United rout AC Milan 4-0 at Old Trafford. Park was the best player on the pitch. He smothered Andrea Pirlo, suffocated him, running him down into the pitch to the point where the Italian was entirely anonymous. It was a masterclass.

Watching Ji trot hopelessly around Loftus Road, misplacing five yard passes, having to make every second touch a tackle because he can no longer trap a ball, well, it would be sad – if he hadn’t cost the best part of £5 million. The only optimism to be found in watching Park these days is that he actually proves the existence of the afterlife – he has become a ghost.

Verdict: Due a trip to the glue factory.

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As Esteban looked into Mark’s eyes, he realised he had only one question: What the fuck am I doing here.

Esteban Granero

Since Euro 2008 football has had a distinctly Spanish flavour. Tiki-taka has become a layman’s term. Fat, balding men with wheezy voices across Britain have had arguments in pubs about whether the Spanish style, the Barcelona piquancy of pressing and passing, is ‘boring’ or not. Well, regardless of its robotic bloodlessness, its a style that has until very recently been dominant.

I imagine Mark Hughes thought Esteban Granero would bring some of this confidence, this metronomic ability to terminate the opposition through a sheer tonnage of sideways passing, to QPR. In defeat against Manchester City and a draw to Chelsea, Granero made a positive impression: here was a player with pedigree, technique and awareness; an aristocratic footballer. Unfortunately what Granero lacked was balls. The man is a eunuch. As soon as things went sour at QPR this season Granero downed his tools. He started to mope around the pitch, unable to pass the ball without a sort of restless, tempo-sapping vacillation about the way he did it. He’s a wallflower.

Verdict: If Blanche DuBois was a Spanish footballer.

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I’m actually amazed the good people at Soccer Starz thought Hoilett was good enough to justify being turned into one of these.

Junior Hoilett

David ‘Junior’ Hoilett is what some of my friends would refer to as a ‘sideman’. A wasteman. A dick. Last summer most QPR fans would have had young Junior at the apex of their transfer wish lists. We were giddy when he actually did sign – pacy, tricky , a provider of goals with an eye for the spectacular and he was young. Under 30. Not a big name but with the right management he could be.

We should have been questioning why he came to QPR when he could have played in front of 50,000 at St. James’ or played Champions League football in Germany with Monchengladbach. The player who turned up at QPR was pathetic – fat, slow, lazy and uninterested. Another player treating the club as a kind of money teat to suck on. You can see it on the pitch. It means fuck all to him. The biggest insult I can pay him is that Shaun Wright-Philips is a better footballer than him.

Verdict: Chubby Little Loser.

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The Loftus Road turf wasn’t very receptive to Rob Green’s overtures.

Rob Green

Temporary unconsciousness, extreme agitation, lethargy, functional blindness or paralysis, completely unrealistic responses to the challenge of events, strange reversals of life-long patterns of behaviour – these are the symptoms of Rob Green Syndrome (RGS). Those who suffer with RGS should avoid situations that involve high stress or pressure. If you think you are suffering from RGS call 999 without hesitation. Even if the symptoms of RGS disappear whilst you are waiting for an ambulance, medical professionals advise that you should still go to hospital for treatment.

A friend of mine supports West Ham and insists that ‘Greeno’ is a very capable keeper. Well if thats the case I would like to know where on earth he has been hiding for the last 9 months.

Verdict: Shell Shocked.

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Chris tries to work out what the biggest animal he could kill without a weapon is. Experts at Frankly Vulgar have calculated that it could be as large as a Polar Bear.

Chris Samba

Chris Samba has all the attributes of a player that an idiot (Robbie Savage) thinks would make a good centre back. He’s just a pretty big guy. He’s also pretty slow, pretty cumbersome and pretty mediocre. Journalists still attribute ridiculous adjectives to Samba – I’ve seen him described this season as monstrous, commanding and imperious. The only thing ‘monstrous’ about Samba is his weekly wage – the joke doing the rounds on Sunday was the he missed that days dire derby suicide pact game against Reading because he dropped his wallet on his foot.

Verdict: Big Man Big Money Big Mistakes

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Stéphane Mbia

Awwwwhh! Bless Stéphane Mbia! Look at him giving his shirt away after the game! To a little kid as well! Look how cute he is on Twitter!

Call me a cynic but if Mbia was anywhere near as good as his tooth-achingly saccharine PR then QPR wouldn’t be looking forward to trips to Bournemouth, Barnsley and Burnley next season. Mbia was an excellent (if Wikipedia is to be believed) defender at Marseille. He has been a palpably below average midfielder for QPR. When Mbia signed from Marseille, Joey Barton was packed off the other way on loan. If you’d told me at the time that Marseille would get the better end of the deal I would have ridiculed you. Shows how much I know.

Verdict: His head is the same shape as a  really big baked potato. Creepy.

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The Samba philosophy.

Samba Diakité

Samba is that kid in your class at school. The quiet one who head-butted the door when he got angry. The one who stuck pencils in his nose until it bled and he started crying. Ralph Wiggum with a dash of the old ultra-violence. That kid.

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Samba terminates another opposition midfielder. With EXTREME prejudice.

Samba Diakité’s QPR debut against Fulham last season was utterly extraordinary. He was on the pitch for about 30 minutes and in that time he made thirteen fouls. You could have made a case for each one of them being a red card. Samba has rarely featured this season and when he has he is just as inanely violent as he always is. Most of his time has been spent taking a few sabbaticals in a attempt to make peace with his (incredibly destructive) inner-self.

Verdict: A Chickenless Head

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Bobby’s one man remake of ‘The Karate Kid’ wasn’t universally popular at Loftus Road.

Bobby Zamora

QPR got seriously fleeced when they paid £6 million for this wanker. Bobby is better at moaning about shit than he is at playing football. He makes fancy dress enthusiast Julio Cesar look like a good PR guru.

QPR faced Reading at Loftus Road in November for what was already a relegation six-pointer. This is what Bobby had to say before the game. How clueless can you get? Also for most of the season Bobby has had a very sore hip. He shows this during games by puffing his cheeks out and rubbing it – just in case we didn’t realise. It was impossible not to know about Bobby’s mythical hip this season – Harry Redknapp never stopped going on about the bloody thing. ‘If only’ Bobby could be fit alongside Remy, then we would have a chance said ‘Arry. No. ‘If only’ we had a manager sensible enough not to rely on a hypochondriac like Bobby. ‘If only’ we hadn’t packed off the superb Heidar Helguson to Cardiff for a pittance. Bobby is half the man.

Verdict: The Walking Dead.

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Jose was delighted to hear from his agent about the contract offer QPR made him.

Jose Bosingwa

Some questions:

1. You’re a multi-millionaire. You have a mono-brow. Why persist with it? Why?

2. How did a player this useless win the Champions League twice?

3. Why did Harry Redknapp keep playing him in the second half of the season? Nedum Onuoha and Fabio are better players and are also, importantly, not Jose Bosingwa.

4. Dear Jose why do you move like a really awkward crab when you shuffle up the touchline?

Verdict: BOOOO-singwa

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Phil Beard in a situation that would make David Brent proud.

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This is exactly how I imagine Tony Fernandes sits in the boardroom.

The Board

It is very fashionable to blame QPR’s predicament on Mark Hughes. He signed the players. He failed to motivate and prepare them properly. He was an awful manager. Nobody seems to blame Harry Redknapp. He ought to get some of the blame as well. With more games and as much money as Hughes he ended up presiding over just as much of a shambles. What both men have in common is the ability to blame anyone, anything, other than themselves. That and not being as good as their buddies in the media make them out to be.

I would call both of them incompetent. Then again, I would say that the board is incompetent for appointing them. Tony Fernandes is an embarrassment, his tweeting is an embarrassment  his comparison of QPR to his shit Formula1 team was an embarrassment and his damaging, destabilising little meltdown was an embarrassment. He might actually be a decent man, a good bloke and all the other things his sycophantic legions of followers say he is. That wouldn’t change the fact that his near two years in charge of QPR have resembled a forced death march towards the Football League.

Verdict: Fresh Meat in a Piranha Tank.