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Jul 162013

Much ado about nothing thus far in the rumor mills. United seem to be interested in everybody but the new pope to solve the club’s squad problems. The biggest speculations concern United’s need for a midfield General. Moyes seems to have dithered over Thiago Alcantara too much, but the wily Scot clearly had doubts about the veracity of signing a 22-year-old and piling too much responsibility on his shoulders. At any rate, Alcantara has signed for his agent’s brother, Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich and may yet end up sitting on Bayern’s bench as he did at Barca.

Will Barcelona sell Fabregas after also flogging Thiago? It does seem far-fetched, but with Barca repeatedly lusting after Wayne Rooney and Wayne being told he’s more or less #3 in line if RVP or Shinji get injured, it looks like the club would like it if Wayne put in a written transfer request.

It does look like Moyes will pull the trigger and acquire Marouane Fellaini. Although the Belgian lacks pace, he is a true physical competitor, a fine tackler and will give us the kind of aggression we’ve missed in midfield since Roy Keane exited. Why we need a 29-year-old Leighton Baines at such a high price is beyond my comprehension. I would personally prefer a much younger Emilio Eyzaguirre of Glasgow Celtic.

Alternatives to Fabregas? I like Erik Lamella of A.S. Roma or Javíer Pastore, who seems to have sat on Paris St. German’s bench all last season. Then there’s Joe Kinnear’s favorite Yohann Cabaye of Newcastle United. The clock is ticking

Singha All Star XI 1-0 Manchester United
In spite of all the negative gobbledygook doing the rounds about “Moyes’ Disastrous Debut” (The News of the World), this one seems to have been pretty rewarding in the educational stakes for the club’s new boss. Teeratep Winothai: may make history for becoming the first scorer in the new Manchester United era but his 50th minutes goal, when he wrong-footed our third-string goalie Ben Amos, saw the Singha All Star XI captain being booed more than complimented by a local, but fiercely partisan pro-red devils crowd in the 65,000 sellout Rajamangala National Stadium, all of whom seemed to sporting United replica regalia.

A humid, broiling 97 Fahrenheit and a squad debilitated by both injuries and permission from the club allowing most international players to take their sweet time about returning to the fold did not help, either. Nine players short, missing David de Gea, Shinji Kagawa , Nemanja Vidic Nani , Chris Smalling , Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young, United, nevertheless, muddled through. Although there was one more injury when Alexander Büttner limped off in the first half with a tight hamstring “It wasn’t a brilliant result,” Moyes said after the match, “but I’m more pleased with the way they kept going. We gave one or two young players an opportunity. It was certainly a good fitness workout.”

United’ looked disjointed. Danny Welbeck, childishly desperate to impress after a poor previous season, tried in vain to execute step overs, dribbles and backless, most of which went comically wrong. Atypical was a shot that wobbled past the Thai team’s goalie Narit Taweekul’s right post as the striker fell over. like a pratfalling comedian. And with Tom Cleverley and Anderson unable to make more than a handful of accurate short passes, little seemed to go right beyond the sweating off of pounds.
A star was born in Bangkok, however. 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj, a sparkling blonde ethnic Albanian from Belgium showed wonderful skills. Quick-footed and a superb dribbler, Januzaj looked unfazed and bright-eyed despite taking fair amount of jostling and stick from the Singha defense. Comfortable in the slot behind striker Danny Welbeck in the spot usually taken by Rooney or Kagawa, Januzaj shone before getting leggy on the hour mark. “If he continues to play like that he’ll get more chances,” said Moyes.

63 minute in,United brought on Wilfried Zaha, Phil Jones and Jesse Lingard. A very sexy debutante, Zaha came closest to scoring for United as he speedily left defender upon defender in his wake, zigzagging hither and thither before dipping left and firing a beauty which easily beat the goalie Taweekul before hitting the right upright. Minutes later, a snake-hipped Jesse Lingard picked up a fine Giggs through-ball, beat two men easily before scuffing a shot at the keeper.

Thus, all in all, although it was no masterpiece, Mr. Moyes has surely learned a thing or two about what he has at hand and exactly what he needs to bring in,

Ivor Irwin

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