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Scolari will ignore Ferguson's old tricks

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Phil McNulty | 09:56 GMT, Wednesday, 23 July 2008

London

Sir Alex Ferguson at least had the decency to let Luiz Felipe Scolari unpack his bags and get his feet under the table at Chelsea's luxurious Cobham training base before trying to get under his skin.

Scolari has probably seen and heard the rather obvious psychological warfare Ferguson tries to inflict upon his fiercest rivals - and to be fair it was not a bad first effort from the old master.

Chelsea, apparently, are creaking a bit. Ferguson does not know how many more miles are left in those ageing Chelsea legs. He does not see where there will be a big improvement this season.

And - for good measure - he is not even sure about Scolari's command of the English language.

You can just see Ferguson sitting behind his desk holding up "Irritate Chelsea" check-list saying: "Yep - that just about covers everything."

They are the first shots of a very phoney war and a salvo Scolari will brush aside, and might even be flattered by.

It is the oldest trick in Ferguson's well-thumbed book and one he only reserves for clubs that might actually cause him some serious bother when the season gets under way.

This is the same sad old deteriorating Chelsea that lost the title to United on the final day of last season, and were just a John Terry penalty kick away from beating them in the Champions League final in Moscow in May.

While it is foolish to pick too many holes in Sir Alex's footballing arguments, one very swift check on the possible first-choice line-ups next season suggests they both average out aged 28.


Sir Alex Ferguson


And while we are at it, as someone who sat 10 feet away from Scolari in his first Chelsea media conference, Sir Alex should know I found his English not just passable, but excellent.

It is all good knockabout stuff - a sure sign that serious Premier League combat is about to start.

It allowed Ferguson to resume some sort of normal service after what should have been a glorious close season, basking in the fantastic achievement of winning the Premier League and Champions League, was over-shadowed by the posturing of Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid.
If United add Dimitar Berbatov, which it is assumed they will, and keep Ronaldo they will have a peerless array of attacking talent.

And Chelsea, as yet, have not pulled off the big headline signing many expected - although it appears Real Madrid's Robinho is lined up to fill that role.

Deco is not a guarantee. He struggled latterly at Barcelona, although he showed glimpses of his class at Euro 2008, while Jose Bosingwa is untested in England.

This is where the Scot's words do carry some substance.

But Ferguson will know, when the mind games are removed from the equation, that he has been presented with a dangerous new adversary in Scolari and that Chelsea will be his most formidable opponents this coming season.

They cannot, and will not, be dismissed or taken lightly.

And this is exactly why Ferguson chose to try and land a few early blows - albeit blows Chelsea will have seen coming from a very long way.

Scolari does not look like the sort of man to back down in the face of Ferguson's challenge, rather like Jose Mourinho before him.

Ferguson will be satisfied to have got his revenge in first by suggesting Chelsea might just be past their peak - but the fact that he chose to try and drive in the stake so early should be a source of satisfaction inside Stamford Bridge.

And I'm sure Scolari's English is up to formulating a suitable reply.

Let battle commence.


Comments

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  • 1. At 12:40pm on 23 Jul 2008, thewelshboycott wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 12:44pm on 23 Jul 2008, Andy Thelwell wrote:

    Right enough, it's all just mind games and I don't foresee Scolari getting too worried about this kind of stuff.

    In other news, the article on the BBC website seems to suffer (and this is by no means for the first time) from almost non-existent Editorship.

    I refer to this article:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/7520773.stm

    It starts off talking about Fergie's comments about Chelsea, and ends up talking (I guess) about Wayne Rooney's relatively quiet season last year... with no link whatsoever between the two. Now, we all know these articles are constructed using some kind of 'building block' technique, but surely the unique way the BBC is funded can buy us some proper editing?

    Bah!

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  • 3. At 12:45pm on 23 Jul 2008, Bury are Fantastic wrote:

    Fergusson's so called 'mind-games' are pathetic.

    Apparently, he doesn't see where there will be a big improvement from Chelsea this season.

    To be fair, i don't think there needs to be a big improvement. Chelsea lost out by two points last season and if you removed the silly end of season errors that gave Bolton and Wigan last minute equalisers at Stamford Bridge then Chelsea would have won it.

    This year sould be just as close but I see Chelsea winning the league in 2009.

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  • 4. At 12:49pm on 23 Jul 2008, Isaac Hunt wrote:

    For once I agree with Mr McNulty. Fergie is become transparent and starting to look silly. He is the greatest british manager ever, he's not a one club one trick pony. He has proved time and time again he is the master but he is starting to believe that he is the psych master. Wrong. This will be pinned to the wall in Cobham and used every day to fiire up the Blues.

    Chelsea did without their African players for a large stretch of the season due to ACoN and injury. Any team would mis Drogba, Essien and to a lesser extent Mikel and Kalou for six weeks.

    The defence was decimated for large patches of the season with Cech, Carvalho and Terry missing for long stretches.

    And by how much did ManU trounce Chelsea - oh yeah, two points in the league and a layer of paint in the CL.

    He knows Chelsea are the team to beat, he knows they have the squad to fight on all fronts and possibly the manager to take them forward. I notice he isn't winding up Arsenal or Liverpool - what does that tell you?

    Let the games commence.

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  • 5. At 12:49pm on 23 Jul 2008, benwiggy wrote:

    Post 2 is right in his comments about http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/m/man_utd/7520773.stm.

    What a bizarre article - it just launches into Wayne Rooney and you have to guess who it is talking about...

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  • 6. At 12:50pm on 23 Jul 2008, Andy Thelwell wrote:

    Oh, and by the way... I would re-think that 'average age' thing.

    Goalkeepers should really be disregarded since their ages can vary wildly compared to outfield players, and Van Der Sar has 11 years on Cech.

    And no way will Gary Neville be a sure-fire first team player next year, in my opinion.

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  • 7. At 12:55pm on 23 Jul 2008, War Baby wrote:

    .
    Yet another dose of hypocrisy from Ferguson.
    .
    Real Madrid musn't publicly make any reference to Man Utd players, but it's OK for Man Utd to make comments about Chelsea's.
    .
    Ughhhhhhhh.
    .

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  • 8. At 12:57pm on 23 Jul 2008, Howard Nurse wrote:

    To (2) thellers and (5) benwiggy
    Sorry - one sentence was accidentally taken out of the story when the link to Phil's blog was added in. It was a technical glitch and the sentence about Wayne Rooney has now been restored to the news story.

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  • 9. At 12:57pm on 23 Jul 2008, DougCoglan wrote:

    Are sports journalists incapable of holding a debate with managers? This wasn't released as a statement - it was during a press conference. Why can't any journalist pull him up on his nonsense? It's the old pals act all over - pathetic.

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  • 10. At 1:00pm on 23 Jul 2008, swissc07 wrote:

    If Mr McNulty, it is so obvious to you that Fergie is going through his wind up manual by the numbers, why are you taking the great effort to defend Chelsea with your stats and figure's, don't tell me your also under Darth Fergie's mind control.

    Scolari will enjoy it, why has he come to this league, although he will bring plenty to the party with his own brand of culture and experience, there seems to be enough samba masters stepping up and backing him.

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  • 11. At 1:04pm on 23 Jul 2008, "We Won the Football League Again, ThisTime on Merseyside". 06-07 Champions. wrote:

    This is a load of rubbish. Stop reading too much into it. He's said that Chelsea don't concern him. Why should they? We're double champions and with Berba, I think our attacks will be even more devastating than seasons gone by. He's said that the team may not have as much room for development as a younger team. Again a fair comment. He also said that the experience the Chelsea players have may be vital in a big games, but you conveniently forgot to mention that. He's speaking his mind, stop analysing and let him get on with it.

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  • 12. At 1:05pm on 23 Jul 2008, dependabledennis-606_must_stay wrote:

    Yep, it's that time of year again folks!

    The time of year when good old Phil starts to show his anti United colours.

    Anyway, just have a quick look at the new Chelsea boos; how long is it since he was in a day to day managers job? This is where he will need all the help he can get from his back room team. I agree that it would be folly to simply dismiss Chelsea, far from it they will be in the top two again, but Fergie has seen it all before and I think the new man at the Bridge will not be ready for what is about to come.

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  • 13. At 1:05pm on 23 Jul 2008, Dan wrote:

    People forget that last season Ferguson correctly predicted that Chelsea and not Arsenal would be United's main title contenders come the end of the season, when Arsenal were well ahead of them in the league.

    United have talented young players to cover their key older players while Chelsea have brought in the likes of Deco in a bid for short term success.

    It's still much too early for mind games - I think Ferguson might just be proved correct.

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  • 14. At 1:07pm on 23 Jul 2008, goalie_up_front wrote:

    I think perhaps the point has been missed if you just focus on the Chelsea playing staff. What SAF is doing is trying to draw comparisons between his young and developing team and Chelsea's squad - he is saying, my team will be better this season, I don't see how Chelsea are going to be able to improve.

    The mind games here are a little more subtle than people are making out (agreed they are not Derryn Brown). He is placing that doubt into Scolari's head that perhaps he needs to think more about 2009-10 season and bring in some younger players to be able to compete. Maybe it will cause a distraction - who can tell. I don't see it harming Manu to make the comments but perhaps it will make Scolari think a little. That's all SAF needs - we saw from last season how minor things make a massive difference to who is remembered as the winner and who is forgotten as the loser.

    G_U_F

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  • 15. At 1:08pm on 23 Jul 2008, ComeOnFergie aka COF wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 16. At 1:09pm on 23 Jul 2008, thom wrote:

    To an extent Ferguson must have been aware that what he was saying would have some effect on Chelsea. However, his fundamental point is something that I've been saying (as a neutral) for the last month or so: If Chelsea don't bring in some younger talent, there's a fair chance they won't be able to get ahead of United.

    Most of Chelsea's best players are aging; getting worse. Most of United's best players are barely 23.

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  • 17. At 1:12pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Spot on Phil, you would think that he would want to wind down his career with dignity but you know what they say about leopards and their spots. BTW Cloughy, Sir Matt and Bob Paisley were all greater managers than Lord Surly, they did it with limited budgets and small squads. Winning shed loads of trophy’s when you can outspend all your rivals and have the financial clout to lobby the English governing organizations to get you way all the time isn’t the same in my book.

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  • 18. At 1:15pm on 23 Jul 2008, Bebe Face wrote:

    The more time goes on without them winning the league, scousers are just getting more and more bitter. Last week it was a rant about United unsettling other players and now this! Why don't you do an article on how Philip Deggen is going to be the catalyst for Liverpools first title in over 15yrs?

    Fergie is only having a laugh. All you rival fans are, as usual, taking the bait. He is the master whether you lot like it or not. Manager of the double winners and architect of over a decade of trophies. LEGEND

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  • 19. At 1:16pm on 23 Jul 2008, LondonsFinestClub wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 20. At 1:17pm on 23 Jul 2008, BestSpam1979 wrote:

    I doubt either Fergie or Phil will take the others mind games personally. They'll get on better, I think, than SAF did with Wenger, or Rafa did with Jose.

    If anything, Fergie's comments are more to wind up the rival fans than his peers, because his peers know what he's up to!

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  • 21. At 1:20pm on 23 Jul 2008, U11846789 wrote:

    Going to waste a lot of time on this petty stuff again BBC?

    For most fans, the Top 4 of the PL can go and hang.

    Let's see more coverage of the rest of the league please.

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  • 22. At 1:21pm on 23 Jul 2008, duri wrote:

    mind games or not Man u will be even better this coming season. will be no slow start this time thu. U can talk all u like about a point here to bolton or point there to whoever. u live on the ifs and we live on the wins. even if we dont win this year,still no one can take away what we have already won . if u say next season,then,there's always next season AND for everyone!

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  • 23. At 1:21pm on 23 Jul 2008, dazzlingdublinblue wrote:

    Who talks more sense, Fergie or Sepp Blather?

    Yes of course Chelsea are getting too old unlike the Peter Pan of Premiership managers.


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  • 24. At 1:22pm on 23 Jul 2008, Bebe Face wrote:

    Haha Bossed it in Moscow?? We should have been 3-0 by half time you fool! Granted you had the better of the second half.

    "lucky old fart"

    I doubt 10 league titles and 2 european cups are all about luck.

    You are the lucky ones. If it wasn't for Roman who'd be in league 1 now with Leeds and playing Rotherham and Millwall!

    Shame that kids in the 90s never grew up wanting to be the new John Spencer or Kevin Hitchcock did they!? A few yrs success and you are getting above your station. Glorified Blackburn that couldn't even fill the stadium for Jose's last CL match - yep, MASSIVE club.....

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  • 25. At 1:22pm on 23 Jul 2008, Happyloman wrote:

    I honestly think these sort of mind games are pathetic. But i still think that Ferguson is right. Every year every team has unlucky injuries, suspensions, players missing for some reason in every team, Scotspur so listing all the players that chelsea missed through the season is pointless because it also happened to Man U and all the other teams in the Premiership. People forget about Man U start to the season and how poor it was, for them to win the season from such a poor start is quite incredible. So if this season they don't have that poor start it could be as clear a finish as the 07 season. And yes chelsea have some very good players but as you all know players tend to peak at around 28-9 yeah there are exceptions but generally they do. And alot of the chelsea first team have passed this bracket and are starting to get worse. Yet Man U first team are mostly below this bracket and will be getting better opening the quality gap between the two teams even more. Ronaldo, Anderson, Nani, Rooney are all under 24, so who is denying that they will get even better. Yes Chelsea are good and they have the money to replace the players but the players they have at the moment are on the down. Ballack, Terry, Drogba, Deco etc. So even though it might seem a pathetic mind game, i personally think that he has got a valid point.

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  • 26. At 1:22pm on 23 Jul 2008, LondonsFinestClub wrote:

    Fergie having a laugh now but he will retire a loser.. mark my words...and Chelsea will send him packing. So get on one of your expensive ponies Sir Lucky and spend some time with your missus. Scolari must think that he he is dealing with some old fart who is bitching about losing his Bingo book, I mean PORTOGUESE defensive coordinator

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  • 27. At 1:25pm on 23 Jul 2008, LondonsFinestClub wrote:

    Whens Ronaldo leaving, Hurry up Fergie!! Robinho is waiting to join the blues.

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  • 28. At 1:26pm on 23 Jul 2008, Bebe Face wrote:

    You might wanna change your name mate cos you aren't even LondonsFinestClub. Thats goes to a team with a HISTORY of winning things...Arsenal.

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  • 29. At 1:27pm on 23 Jul 2008, Sparkys kneecap wrote:

    So pathetic NickHolt that its got you all riled up! Yeah surely didn't bother you at all?! lol!!

    In fact all of you are getting riled up again over nothing and the master strikes again!!

    londonsfinestclub, sir lucky? Really? 2 European cups, 10 premier leagues and 4 FA cups lucky? Dream on boy!

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  • 30. At 1:28pm on 23 Jul 2008, Sparkys kneecap wrote:

    It's Portuguese mate. You should learn how to spell that really considering you had a manager from the same nation for 4 years.

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  • 31. At 1:29pm on 23 Jul 2008, ajmy06 wrote:

    It's interesting to see, after Scolari refusing the England job in part because of the British media, just how protective and sychophantic the media is being about Scolari.

    He won with Brazil (with that team, surely not that difficult) and did a decent job with Portugal (again, not that difficult).

    Let him prove himself first before we start to fawn over him!

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  • 32. At 1:29pm on 23 Jul 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    My own view is that Ferguson is obviously trying to underscore a weakness in Chelsea, but he also knows they will be their closest rivals.

    Despite his remarks about the age of the squad, there is still real quality in there and they will still have a point to prove after the disappointment of last season.

    United, rightly, will be favourites to claim the big prizes but Chelsea will be a massive force - and Ferguson knows that.

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  • 33. At 1:31pm on 23 Jul 2008, Bebe Face wrote:

    Seems that Fergies mind games have wound up the simple Chelsea fans....they've all collectively taken off their Burberry caps and are now stratching the Tesco gel outta their hair.....

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  • 34. At 1:31pm on 23 Jul 2008, Happyloman wrote:

    I agree i hate Arsenal, but they are definitely london finest club. Before 2000 how many serious trophies had chelsea won.

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  • 35. At 1:31pm on 23 Jul 2008, getridofglazer wrote:

    Go on Fergie get them wound up b4 the season starts ! U've seen off so many managers in the past - now for Scolari, Benitez and Wenger by the end of May 2009 !!

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  • 36. At 1:32pm on 23 Jul 2008, thelovelyhotspot wrote:

    Totally agree #21. its a couple of harmlass, insignificant little comments. Mcnulty you must lead a very boring life to care let alone write wasted words on this, take a holiday mate.

    it seems the whole country is only a fan of 1 of the big 4, as this is all that is ever reported. why does antone personally care about these stupid all star teams who have ceased to have any link with their local communitys. The PL is a disgusting franchise.
    BBC stop parping to the PL by reporting on it all year round, and give it a rest. There are so many other great sports going on at the moment, comment on those instead.

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  • 37. At 1:32pm on 23 Jul 2008, Dan wrote:

    "Fergie having a laugh now but he will retire a loser.. mark my words.."

    Yes, a 10 time Premiership, 5 time FA Cup and two time CL 'loser' (at least).

    Your entire club has won the league. what 3 times in the last 100 odd years?

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  • 38. At 1:36pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Lord Surly is an AMAZING manager, between post 29 and post37 he's won the FA Cup again! lol

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  • 39. At 1:37pm on 23 Jul 2008, fourfootedchallenge wrote:

    The average age thing is massively flawed. First Neville?!? One game last season, far from being a sure 40 games cert this season, especially following Wes Brown's sudden improvement. Plus United's midfield is rotated quite a bit. Anderson and Nani clocked up 38 and 37 appearances in their début season last season.. Which is more than Hargreaves and Scholes with 28 and 24 appearances.

    So Brown, Nani, Anderson for Neville, Scholes and Hargreaves, and the team suddenly has a lot younger average age.

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  • 40. At 1:39pm on 23 Jul 2008, Happyloman wrote:

    I support Brighton. But i love watching Man U all star team as they make the sport look so beautiful, why have people liked watching brazil so much in the past. I agree i would like to see more stories on other things aswell but don't criticize people for watching talented players, you have to remember that football is an entertainment and people should be able to support the club which they find most entertaining whether it is a big or small club.

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  • 41. At 1:39pm on 23 Jul 2008, Nate23 wrote:

    McNulty you really write some drivel. There are no clever mind games going on here. Although obviously SAF's comments have hit a nerve with you.

    He was asked his opionion and gave an honest answer: he feels that Chelsea won't improve much because of their average age but said they were an experienced squad.

    He said he felt the bigger threat was Liverpool and Arsenal and he was actually very complimentary about Arsenal saying that their achievements weren't recognised enough. His views are perfectly sensible and valid.

    I think its poor reporting, even the headline is slightly misleading. The only games being played here are by you journalists who are understandably bored because there's not much going on.

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  • 42. At 1:40pm on 23 Jul 2008, Dan wrote:

    "Lord Surly is an AMAZING manager, between post 29 and post37 he's won the FA Cup again! lol"

    Yes, well I dare say you tend to lose track of all the silverware after a while.

    It is 5: 90, 94, 96, 99, 04.

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  • 43. At 1:41pm on 23 Jul 2008, tiredofit wrote:

    You need a bit of luck to win anything but you need a lot of talent to win the Premiership. It often boils down to how you use it; look at the Pool?

    We'll see come the day. Whatever happens - it won't be boring.

    It's good to see the football hungry diners eating the top chefs pie!

    C'mon you reds!

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  • 44. At 1:41pm on 23 Jul 2008, MadMancHatter wrote:

    To bluedefence in post 17,

    You claim that Clough, SMB, and Paisley were better managers than SAF cos they did it with smaller budgets.

    First of all i would wager that of the budgets at the time SMB and paisley probably had some of the biggest around.

    Secondly while SAF has had a massive budget to use at Man U, that has not always been the case throughout his managerial career, at Aberdeen he won 8 domestic trophies (3 premier division trophies, 4 Scottish cup successes, and 1 league cup) on top of that he won 2 European trophies. This makes him the most successful manager in Aberdeen's history.
    He also won the first division with St. Mirren.

    His list of achievements at every club he has been at is enough to make most people recognise he is one of the best managers Britain has seen. He may not be the greatest that is up for debate but claiming he hasn't done it on a budget is a poor argument against him.

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  • 45. At 1:44pm on 23 Jul 2008, Pantryboy wrote:

    Maybe Ferguson should be concerned about how his Man United team maintain their standards.

    Chelsea have been pretty consistent over the past four years - it only due to a massive improvement by United in the last two that has seen the dominance change hands.

    So the question is: How, with a possibly unsettled Ronaldo, an ever-declining Paul Scholed and Ryan Giggs, an over-rated and grumpy English forward, are United going to sustain the momentum built in the last two years?

    How many of the players will suffer the same 'we've made it' attitude that saw them fail to really build on the success of 1999.

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  • 46. At 1:45pm on 23 Jul 2008, N Porter wrote:

    Why does it matter what Chelsea or Man Utd win? It means absolutely nothing as they have both attempted to buy success. Where was Ferguson's interest in Berbatov when Spurs unearthed this gem? Now he has proved his worth Ferguson's attitude is 'we'll have him'. And how come Rooney didn't come through the United Academy instead of at Everton? Everton produced his talent and, again Utd's attitude was 'we'll have him now'.

    It reminds me of kids delving into a toybox, and the big bully kid nicking the best toys off the rest. Anybody can achieve success this way - as I said, it means absolutely nothing.

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  • 47. At 1:46pm on 23 Jul 2008, thelovelyhotspot wrote:

    Sorry #40 disagree. the PL and especially the big 4, lack serious ethics, which are destroying the whole essence of sport. Sport is about competition and drama, this has been destroyed with the PL.
    Too amny people are sucked into this whole corporate rubbish, by waching and buying shirts u are making fat cat Yanks who have no interest in sport richer, as well as very questionable shady indivduals with terrible human right records richer as well.

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  • 48. At 1:46pm on 23 Jul 2008, philiv01 wrote:

    Ah come on boys and girls, Fergie is simply playing the (mind) game he knows and loves. Its nothing personal to Scolari who is a big boy and will probably raise a rye smile and step up to Fergies challenge.

    It all adds to the flavour of the Premiership and all you ABU's out there should be glad that there is someone as outspoken as Fergie out there to spice up your otherwise 2nd place lives.

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  • 49. At 1:47pm on 23 Jul 2008, ramesh kudva wrote:

    Mind games? They haven't even begun. Watch when the likes of Benitez and Wenger join in. Mind games are no more than a laugh-a-minute provided by clowns in between the elephant and big cat acts.

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  • 50. At 1:49pm on 23 Jul 2008, bopalula wrote:

    It's all irrelevant anyway. Arsenal are the team with most room to improve and they will. That will leave CFC and MUFC fighting over second place before the beginning of May.

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  • 51. At 1:52pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Yes MancHatter, I take your point he did well in Scotland, don't want to be pedantic but I thought he won 1 European trophy with Aberdeen and 3 with Man U. Maybe he is totting up the trophys as we speak! Having said that it wouldnt be like his Lordship to re-write history would it? The first thing he said after the Moscow final was “ lets get something straight before we start, this was not a LUCKY win” hey ho.

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  • 52. At 1:53pm on 23 Jul 2008, Seagullaway wrote:

    #40, I too support Brighton, however, I agree with #21 and #36. The PL will again be contested by 2 clubs as it will continue to be indefinitely in my opinion. It's all very well to want to be entertained by the best players but surely there needs to be some element of competition as well. I now follow the Championship and lower leagues which generate far more interest. Increasingly I'm turning to other sports in the UK as well - some of which actually involve British competitors

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  • 53. At 1:56pm on 23 Jul 2008, Hookers_armpit wrote:

    Are you writing Everton off already Phil?
    What sort of fan are you?

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  • 54. At 1:56pm on 23 Jul 2008, MadMancHatter wrote:

    To 51,

    It depends on what u count as a trophy he won the cup winners cup (25 years ago this year), they went on to win the european super cup against hamberg (in december i think) - so i guess it depends on if you count the super cup as a proper trophy.

    And i guess luck is all relative - would chelsea have said it was lucky if they won instead of united - i doubt it very much.

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  • 55. At 1:57pm on 23 Jul 2008, Alex wrote:

    I am fed up with the constant reporting of 'mind games'. For top professionals, it does nothing as I imagine most of them do not even read the papers/watch the news. Scolari will probably just have a laugh about it as he knows Chelsea are more than capable of beating United and vice versa. I suppose in this day and age the media are constantly on the look out for a story.

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  • 56. At 1:58pm on 23 Jul 2008, dickieroyalistic wrote:

    Hahahahahaha... I love it! Old Fergie starting up with the mind games already!? Life in the old dog yet... Hahahahahahaha... C'moooooooon... Surely you all agree this is tip top stuff from the old Scot??

    Chelski and Scolari should take HUGE satisfaction from Fergie's comments. He obviously thinks that United could be in a spot of bother next season when it comes to chelsea... They would've won the champs league if JT hadn't ballsed it up and they lost the title on the last day of the season! Now, to go with the already incredible quality of depth in the Chelski squad they've got a flipping great manager too!

    If I were at the top I'd be fearing Chelski most of all.

    By the way, Deco'll walk this league... Can't beat true class.

    Also,

    Stevie coppell's magic, he wears a magic hat... And when he saw the championship he said I'M HAVIN' THAT!!!!

    BLUE ARMY!

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  • 57. At 2:10pm on 23 Jul 2008, arsenalmissbergkamp wrote:

    Phil McNulty has written a decent article firstly and people need to calm down. At least 2 or 3 people flip out when the man releases an article everytime.

    However I don't agree with you Phil. I think Sir Alex would take a shot at anyone who took over a potential rival for his crown. In my opinion Chelsea won't be the same as they have in Scolari an International man who never really stayed for too long at anyone club in his career. I reckon they might have had their last real push last season and I think they haven't done very well in the transfer market so far. An un happy Lampard would't be as good as he was as well. Although I have to say for me to write them off now is just stupid. I guess we will never really know until the season is under way.

    Also as an Arsenal fan although I appricate his acknowledgment that we had a unlucky season I never feel comfortable recieveing compliments from Man Utd...

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  • 58. At 2:11pm on 23 Jul 2008, Pirlo-vision wrote:

    Although I agree with the Guardian's starting XI predicted for Chelsea, the side they've gone with for Man U is a little off target. For a start, Wes Brown is likely to start more games at RB than Neville and, if Ronaldo departs, Nani is likely to take his place. Anderson is likely to see a lot more action this season than Scholes, thus reducing Utd's average age to around 26. And, if Foster makes a good impression on Fergie, expect this figure to topple even further. Utd are a considerably younger side than Chelsea.

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  • 59. At 2:12pm on 23 Jul 2008, Dan wrote:

    "#40, I too support Brighton, however, I agree with #21 and #36. The PL will again be contested by 2 clubs as it will continue to be indefinitely in my opinion.."

    Last season it was contested by 3 clubs. The only reason why there's 'more interest' in the lower leagues is because teams from the higher leagues get relegated. There's big fish and smaller fish in every league - It pretty much has always been thus.

    Many people would say the Premiership is one of if not the most exciting football league in the world.

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  • 60. At 2:15pm on 23 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    It's the same old guff from Fergie.
    If he wants to say these things, he's entitled but it won't make a blind bit of difference.

    Fergie knows the main weakness with Chelsea last season was Grant.

    Grant has been been replaced by a much stronger and all round superior manager and Fergis is naturally worried.

    As for our team not improving, Boswinga and Deco alone surely can't be seen by any right minded person as making a team worse.

    We'll do ok.

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  • 61. At 2:18pm on 23 Jul 2008, Lennonisagod wrote:

    I don't think Feguson's arguement has any substance behind it. While Utd have not added to their squad, Chelsea have signed both Deco and Bosingwa- greatly improving the side, particularly at right back. Ferguson is resting on his laurels at the moment, especially if he does not acquire Berbatov and his own right back.
    I don't think that Man Utd took into account the impact that the injuries to Drogba and Terry last season had on Chelsea's title challenge. With Ronaldo looking set to miss the start of the season I can see Chelsea building a reasonable lead by the end of October.
    Ferguson has a lot more to worry about than Scolari- so keep your damn mouth shut you douche.

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  • 62. At 2:18pm on 23 Jul 2008, Captain Malcolm Reynolds wrote:

    Another odd blog from Phil.

    He speaks the truth, something that everyone can see for themselves and it's just plain mind games.

    Yep.

    Can i roll my eyes yet?

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  • 63. At 2:19pm on 23 Jul 2008, GetahunFergie wrote:

    Kick Ronaldo out and let Berbatov in. We're gonna rock the PL again and then shrug over the Scousers.
    I never thought Fergusson would deliver United. But he has been such a masterpiece. What a coach!!

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  • 64. At 2:20pm on 23 Jul 2008, Laurence wrote:

    It is more relevant to calculate the team age without the goal keepers.

    If yo exclude the 37 yr old Van de Sar then surely Man U has a much younger team.

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  • 65. At 2:25pm on 23 Jul 2008, rseman wrote:

    Portaloo - Spurs hardly unearthed Berbatov - bearing in mind he scored and hit the post against Man United in the Champions League for Bayer Leverkusen in September 2002 before he even registed on Tottenham's radar.

    Ferguson actually thought about buying him before Spurs ever put an offer in but he decided not to - perhaps put off by the price tag I think. So it would be ironic if he was to buy him now because he would have been a lot cheaper then.

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  • 66. At 2:25pm on 23 Jul 2008, Weallfollowunited wrote:

    From what i've read, all he's said is that Chelsea haven't really improved from last season, and looking at their signings its fair to say they haven't. They still have a great squad and i'm sure will be challenging for honours but they've not improved.

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  • 67. At 2:25pm on 23 Jul 2008, Lucky Sevens wrote:

    To thelovelyhotspot:

    While you may be right in saying that the big 4 lack ethics, you must take into consideration why...

    It is also true that they do have a habit of buying everybody else's best players instead of creating there own, but there are two sides to this story:

    Take wayne rooney for example, united paid near 30 million quid for him, and that 30 million has been pumped into everton, making them a much stronger team than they were with one star player (rooney). They are a much stronger team than ten years ago and some of that is due to the over inflated transfer prices they can extort from the big clubs. so to say the rest of the premiership is struggling, is i feel a little wrong.

    Secondly, to the big four. i hold my hands up and agree they are guilty of buying success, but that isnt always a bad thing. if chelski hadnt had the hundreds of millions of investment, then it would be down to the likes of liverpool and arsenal alone to challenge man utd. also, the big four buy the best players for a good reason - they want success. if they all stopped buying the best tomorrow, it was be like saying, "we only want to be a mediocre team and aren't bothered about competing. you may hate the big four, but even you must concede that the most part of last season was exciting to watch.

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  • 68. At 2:27pm on 23 Jul 2008, cyber wrote:

    From the reaction on this page of the simple chelsea fans, Fergie shows he is still the master and untouchable. I cannot wait for Fergies next blow to see how they make us laughg with their reaction. After all, Chelsea are a small club who have been English champions as many times as Huddersfield Town, won as many FA cups as Wolves and have a worse Euro record than Nottingham Forest!

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  • 69. At 2:29pm on 23 Jul 2008, The Ghost of Solid Snake wrote:

    lgarrod

    "It is more relevant to calculate the team age without the goal keepers.

    If yo exclude the 37 yr old Van de Sar then surely Man U has a much younger team."

    No it's not, you're just using this because Chelsea's keeper is 11 years younger than United's.

    We all follow United

    "From what i've read, all he's said is that Chelsea haven't really improved from last season"

    Nope, he's said Chelsea will not mount as much of a challenge, in fact Arsenal and Liverpool will be on par with them. That's what he said

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  • 70. At 2:29pm on 23 Jul 2008, cyberryan87 wrote:

    I agree its the same old guff from Fergie, but it keeps him happy and who actually cares what he says? People get so worked up over nothing. If he had came out and called all the Chelsea players idiots who haven't an ounce of talent between them then fair enuff, but he was just having a bit of fun. I am a Liverpool fan btw, so its not like I have any loyalty to the big fool.

    The BBC's love of Scolari, particularly the writer of this blog, puzzles me. Everything I read on here atm is basically setting Scolari up as the Oracle! I have no doubt that he is a good manager, but his record is not that good. Ok he won the World Cup, which was an achievement no doubt. However when you look at that competition it was hardly the toughest competition ever. I mean even the German team that just reached the Euro 2008 final were better than the team that Brazil beat in the 2002 final, indicating how much actual competition the Brazilians had. In club football he has never done anything great. For me his exploits with Portugal are far more noteworthy than any of the rest of his achievements.

    So lets all just calm down. There are far more interesting things going on in the world of football than Scolari atm.

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  • 71. At 2:30pm on 23 Jul 2008, hunk4hire wrote:

    Pulling for Chelsea, Phil? Fergie's playing mind games!! Oh dear! I guess the Utd double last season got to you, did it?

    Did somebody gag Scolari? He's as free as anyone to have his say if he wants. One of his predecessors at Chelsea wouldn't or couldn't keep his mouth shut for 5 minutes. Did you complain about that, also?

    Fergie is actually correct. Barcelona was pleased to get rid of Deco, both Lampard and Drogba want away and if Drogba goes, it's bye-bye Premiership, irrespective of whether they bring in Robinho or anyone else. I see Liverpool coming to the fore and challenging Utd and Arsenal's young guns are a big danger.

    Chelsea will be 4th at Christmas and Scolari will spend the New Year in Rio after getting a late night phone call from the ever impatient Abramovich.

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  • 72. At 2:34pm on 23 Jul 2008, GetahunFergie wrote:

    This year (2008/2009), I think Rooney will outshine and make us forget the little brat from Madeira.

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  • 73. At 2:35pm on 23 Jul 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    To evilspindoctor...nice try that. Almost as obvious as Fergie's mind games though. Strictly neutral as you well know.

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  • 74. At 2:39pm on 23 Jul 2008, thelovelyhotspot wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 75. At 2:43pm on 23 Jul 2008, Captain Malcolm Reynolds wrote:

    Comment 66, that's exactly right.

    But shhh, you're not allowed to say that because then Phil's non-blog would be rendered pointless.

    You naughty boy.

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  • 76. At 2:44pm on 23 Jul 2008, rchrdav wrote:

    The difference between the clubs age wise is that United have younger cover for all the older players, this younger cover is experienced and has won the league. Chelsea dont have this. What SAF was talking about young players naturally improve season on season players that are at their peak or past it will not improve. They start to go down. Most of Chelsea players are at this peak and may start to go down and where are the replacements.
    The same reasoning is why he said that Arsenal will challenge this year, a lot of the younger players will improve as they get older. Arsenals problem will be that some of their experienced players have left and they have to keep the Louis Saha of the south fit.
    He said Liverpool would compete to be polite though.

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  • 77. At 2:44pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    No one would ever question Ferguson is a successful manager, but the thing that disappoints most about him is the fact that he wins and loses with very little dignity. The other great managers all had or have dignity, I recall Cloughy berating any player he thought had tried to cheat or abuse a ref, with Fergy it’s the complete opposite. Like others on here the I agree greed of the Premiership and the closed shop at the top does make it a less interesting league having said that I will attend games and watch it on the tele so like many others I am feeding this cycle of greed.

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  • 78. At 2:44pm on 23 Jul 2008, Hargo A Go Go wrote:

    Believe it or not Phil (if I may be so bold), Fergie achieved exactly what he was trying to; he got people like you talking. Do you think he was actually trying to unsettle someone? No. It's not as if he came out just talking, he was responding to questions that were being asked of him and gave his honest opinion while knowing it would kick preparations for the season, from both teams, into high gear. The fact of the matter is, he was also telling the truth, Chelsea are old.

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  • 79. At 2:47pm on 23 Jul 2008, santista02 wrote:

    Ferguson's so called mind games or him answering a question posed by a reporter which in turn is reported by others seeking to fill their bi-line schedule.

    Too much is written into what is said at this time of year and I think Fergie has more fun with the press than he has goes at other teams.

    He is not alone either.

    In truth what really is being reported here is we (reporters included) want the season to start, or at least to have some activity to report, which sadly so far there has been very little!!

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  • 80. At 2:51pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    post 74 agree with most but point 7 add Man City, no one has produced more home grown talent than them over the past few years.

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  • 81. At 2:51pm on 23 Jul 2008, OP wrote:

    absolute nonsense Phil. Scolari will be drawing up his resignation as we speak. He will realise that SAF is being entirely serious and that he should go now, there is no point.

    Honestly what a silly article. Managers will always ignore their rivals/contemporaries comments.

    And it isn't even as if SAF is saying Chelsea are rubbish, he is just saying that they are a known force rather than a developing team like Arsenal who could surprise you. Chelsea are not suddenly going to push on to better things as their players get better, as most are at or past their peak

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  • 82. At 2:55pm on 23 Jul 2008, thelovelyhotspot wrote:

    sorry 80 fogot to metion them, but now they have a foreign owner in place what are the odds that he will cease to care about the clubs academy, as it will waste him money. Much simpler for him to just poach youngsters from other teams from now on.

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  • 83. At 2:59pm on 23 Jul 2008, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:

    Of course Ferguson got people talking. That's what he wanted - and it is what we want as well.

    I was not condemning Ferguson for what he said, merely pointing out that it was a familiar tactic - which it is.

    I will be fascinated to see what Scolari's response is if he is asked about it. How he reacts (or doesn't react) might put a marker down for how the battle will pan out during the season.

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  • 84. At 3:00pm on 23 Jul 2008, redforever wrote:

    Much ado about nothing, once again when Phil McNumpty is involved.
    I am a Liverpool fan so have no reason to come to Fergusons aid, but this is all nonsense.
    1. He was asked, as he always is pre season, what he thinks of Chelsea for next season? He answered. Was anything he say outrageous? He pointed out that the team is getting older, very true. The addition of Deco doesnt help. McNumpty says they would be the same average age. hardly, Van Der Sar adds one year to the Man United average alone, and as another commentor noted Gary Neville is not a likely regular for them this year.

    2. Scolari may well have had a good command of English in his well rehearsed press conference, but what Ferguson was pointing out was that this is his first season in England and he may come across some challenges with the language. He has previously managed Brazil, all players speaking Portuguese and Potugal, ditto. He now manages Chelsea with many languages and in England, you dont see that an issue or two might arise Phil?

    3. Ferguson is starting his mind games And according to Phil, Scolari will be immune. He does he know this? I reckon Scolari will bite like a hungry fish once the season gets going. Wait until the first Chelsea, United match and then judge whether Scolari can cope with Fergie. How can McNulty make this assumption?

    A few people have taken a pop at Fergie for saying stuff about Chelsea. He is asked questions by journalists, he is in the pay of Man United. Therefore his options are :-
    a) play dumb and refuse to answer questions about all his opponents, which will result in the press giving him a roasting everyday or,
    b) answer the questions and ensure that everything he says is in support of the goal of his club, which is to win trophies.

    For those of you who think he should be more balanced, I should ask you to listen to anything said by Kenny Dalglish, Phil Thompson, John Aldridge or Jan Molby about Liverpool. They love Liverpool, they say anything they can to make us seem better and opponents seem weaker, and they dont even get a salary from Liverpool anymore.

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  • 85. At 3:01pm on 23 Jul 2008, Windsweptltd wrote:

    How come Fergie's opinion rated as the top sports story this morning on various the BBC Sport media channels?

    Personally I'd have thought the lead story would have been Christian Olsson pulling out of the Olympics. Oh but wait, that's a factual story about something that isn't Premiership football, and Premiership football gossip always tops the bill at the BBC Sports unit. How many radio soprts bulletins begin with "some player's agent says something", even in the summer months? At least the dreadful "Rumour Mill" on R5L got canned.

    I remember 50,000 people turning up at Winchester in 2006 for the Motocross of Nations and the only mention it got on the BBC was on the travel news. And last weekend thousands of people descended on Llanidloes in mid Wales for the World Enduro Championships (think WRC on two wheels) and that didn't get any BBC coverage at all despite being the first UK round for nearly a decade. And what about major partipation sports like netball, hockey, cycling, triathlon? Way down the agenda if reported at all.

    I don't doubt that football is Britain's most popular sport and the Premiership the most popular league but why does Premiership gossip, speculation and opinion continue push out genuine stories about other sports? Can we licence fee payers have some proper sports news, please?

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  • 86. At 3:01pm on 23 Jul 2008, Kuca79 wrote:

    I completetly agree with SAF, but if you take the edge of Utd CR, I am almost certain that Chelsea will win, but with or without CR, Scolari is another ball game and if Manage to stabilish a good relation with the player then SAF be ready for a chalange, Intensity wise there will not be a better league then the Premier

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  • 87. At 3:03pm on 23 Jul 2008, Notorious Enigmatic Red Devil AKA Wookiee wrote:

    I'm unsure as to why this has even been written Phil. Its quite obvious to anyone who watches footy whats going on here. Does the football lovbing public really need you to spell it out for them.

    I think your right in what you have said, Chelseas squad is still one of the best around. However your reasoning on average age is flawed. Take Giggs Scholes and VDS out of our team, which we should expect as Fergy has said Giggs and Scholes will be used sparingly and he fully expects Foster/Kuszack to challenge Edwin, and I think you'll find our average a lot lower.

    I fully expect Chelsea to be BIG rivals this season, as will Arsenal surprise everyone again. Liverpoo I'm not so sure of, as I expected them to sign some better players. But rest assured we won't let it be taken off us without a fight!

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  • 88. At 3:05pm on 23 Jul 2008, chelt10 wrote:

    Just a few points to make here -
    I think reporting ferguson's comments in this way will always inevitably make them sound like 'mind games'. it keeps interest online and in the backpages. (i mean, how much nonsense is written in the transfer gossip sagas every day?) most of the points ferguson makes are valid, but they are only his opinions; the bottom line, however, is that the mind games don't win the trophies, the teams do. in the same way that the ifs and the buts ultimately don't win anything, and neither does the 'next-season-we'll-have-you' mentality.

    And just to enter into this meaningless argument, for those who get a little confused with history and statistics:

    ferguson has won 5 fa cups, 2 league cups, 10 leagues, 2 european cups, 1 cup winners cup, 1 european super cup, 1 intercontinental cup; that makes 22 trophies in his 22 years as manager

    chelsea have won 3 leagues, 4 fa cups, 4 league cups, 2 eufa cups, 1 super cup, and being generous, 2 2nd division titles. that makes 16 trophies in their 103 years of history.
    Just a minor point, but worth bearing in mind before people mention luck, greats and history.

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  • 89. At 3:06pm on 23 Jul 2008, The Truth Is Out There wrote:

    Scolari is a hugely over-rated manager. He won a World Cup coaching a Brazil team that any living human being could have coached to a world cup. SInce then, he has taken a highly gifted Portugal side absolutely nowhere.
    Add to this Chelsea's ill-advised policy of completely restocking with big names this summer a la Real Madrid, and they will not win the league this year.

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  • 90. At 3:08pm on 23 Jul 2008, Lucky Sevens wrote:

    To: thelovelyhotspot

    I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one, you make a good arguement and i respect your views on why the premiership is dull. however, here is my ten reasons as to why i love it

    1. it will be won by one of the big four, true. but who's gettin relegated, who's gettin in uefa, who brought in the wrong manager, who bought cleverly, who is most improved? the premiership is more than just who wins it.

    2. i have already argued this point, big clubs do buy the best players. i would love to see my team field a bunch of kids to give them chance to develop properly. however, i also wanna see my team win, and to win you need the best players

    3. your arguement lacks evidence. All the top clubs have big links with local communities. i do however think they should dig into their pockets a bit more to help out the grass routes of the game. i would agree that some of the top four teams have "over-hyped foreigners", but utd have a good history of fielding english players: neville, brown, scholes, carrick, hargreaves, rooney - all first team regulars (when fit)

    4. the owners of clubs dont come into it. like it or not football is big business, so it will attract some "shady" characters. for the average fan, football is about what happens on the pitch and not behind the scenes. i'd love it if every football team was owned by some whiter than whiter rich person, but truth be told, that person doesnt exist. and if teams were all owned by the fans, a club would be successfull based on how rich the fans were. so while i agree there are some dodgy people in the game, i ask you to find a better scenario

    5. premier league about profit - true, but to be profitable, you have to be successfull, and to be successfull, you have to play good football

    6. not true, i prefer to watch match of the day lol. seriously though, some people may buy into the sky "crap" but that doesnt mean we all do, dont lump all premier league fans in the same boat

    7. you cite middlesborough as an academy club, what about west ham, man city, everton, and indeed man utd. the reason academy players dont generally make it is because they simply dont have the raw talent to begin with. its a sorry state of affairs, but its not the big clubs fault that english players by nature aren't the best in the world. look at brasil, a country with no money to invest in grass roots game, but still produces the best players... explain that one for me

    8. priced out. as you know i'm a man u fan. i earn relatively low amount of money, yet can still afford my season ticket along with my other expenses (house, car etc...). the fans that argue your point are usually fans that seem to forget inflation exists and that clubs cant chrage the same for tickets as they did forty years ago. as for merchandise, the average shirt cost £10 more ten years ago than it does now

    9. i do agree completely with you here, how can it be fixed?

    10. footballers bland...??? i'd say they are a load of primadoners but certainly not bland. who can forget the arguement between ballack and drogba in the man u vs chelsea game at the bridge. two passionate players argueing over who can do better for their team. Ronaldo, amazing talent, quick on an off the ball, and lethal in front of goal. steven gerrard, tireless and very talented. there are some very very talented players in the PL, some of whom can turn a game and truly excite a crowd. they do get paid way too much though!

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  • 91. At 3:09pm on 23 Jul 2008, redforever wrote:

    Phil McNulty, you should quit your job as a journalist. Every one of your blogs, is predicated on utter nonsense. Furthermore, 50% of the comments made on them are better balanced and smarter than the blog! Your audience is smarter and more prescient than you are!

    I'll be fair and say you should give yourself one more try at writing something worthwhile, and if you cant, then quit.

    If EVERYTHING I did at work was as useless as your work, then I would ahve been fired years ago. So think yourself lucky.

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  • 92. At 3:10pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Phil, your article was current and topical and judging by the number of responses a subject worthy of discussion. You have no need to justify yourself to anyone. I responded along your lines to the story as posted on the Manchester (United) Evening News web site this morning but even though I said nothing disrespectful my post did not pass the vetting. Congratulations to the BBC for letting the football fans of the UK have their say.

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  • 93. At 3:22pm on 23 Jul 2008, Red_Red_Devil wrote:

    Phil, you're over-reacting as are most of the English press. But if you're going to react at least speak to one of the main points Fergie was making:

    With many of Chelsea's players all close to 30 or over 30 (Ballack, Lampard, Drogba, Carvalho, Anelka, Schevchenko, Pizzaro, Deco, Cudicini) there is not much room for them to improve. How many of Chelsea's first team are 25 or younger? Mikel, Kalou, Bosingwa.... Who else?

    At Man Utd, Rooney, Ronaldo, Anderson, Nani, Tevez, Vidic, Foster and Fletcher are all 25 or younger. Hargreaves, Carrick and Evra are all 27 or younger. With the exception of Neville, all of Utd's senior players (Scholes, Giggs and Van Der Sar) will be replaced in a year or two by a younger member of the squad who is already playing first team football with Utd.

    Can the same really be said for Ballack, Lampard, Carvalho at Chelsea. Who will replace Makelele for example?

    So when Fergie says that there is much less room for improvement at Chelsea given the ages of key members of their squad he is absolutely right. The vast majority of Utd's squad have another 2 or 3 years before they reach their peaks. The vast majority of Chelsea's sqaud are either at their peaks or have passed their peaks.

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  • 94. At 3:30pm on 23 Jul 2008, reasoneddebate wrote:

    thelovelyhotspot

    No disrespect intended, you clearly have strong views on the Premier League. As that old saying goes, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it".

    However, it begs the question of why you watch it if you hate it so. Or if you don't, why you feel the need to comment on it. Personally, I don't like Eastenders, so I just don't watch it, or go onto Eastenders blogs (if such things exist).

    Seems very simple to me.

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  • 95. At 3:34pm on 23 Jul 2008, DaveyCooper wrote:

    Yet again, another non-story by the BBC. Ferguson taunts Scolari, mind games, Scolari takes a swipe at Ferguson. Is this the best you can do for journalism? I know that you have a lot of space to fill, especially during the close season, but you do need a certain level of quality. You are the BBC, you are supposed to set the standards, not adhere to the standards set by the tabloids.

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  • 96. At 3:35pm on 23 Jul 2008, RichMase wrote:

    Why don't you and Big Phil get a room, Phil?

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  • 97. At 3:36pm on 23 Jul 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Red_Red_Devil

    Your post is far from complete.

    You have missed out the Chelsea players in the 25-30 bracket. The likes of Cech, Terry, Cole x 2 and Essien. Not a bad selection on which to base a team I would say.

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  • 98. At 3:37pm on 23 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    Hunk4hire, you say that lampard and Drogba want away so it's bye bye title.

    You could be right.

    But then your saviour, Ronaldo seems desperate to get away so it's all swings and roundabouts.

    If Ronaldo left it would leave a devastating hole in your team. Now, I know you have a fine team but please don't make out you wouldn't badly miss him, because you would.

    As we would miss Lampard and Drogba.

    But what if we got Robinho and kept the other two?

    I don't think Utd would get so lucky as last season and we would simply brush them aside.

    Maybe Fergie thinks likewise and that is why he is boring us all with his usual predictability.

    It looks to be an interesting season ahead.

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  • 99. At 3:42pm on 23 Jul 2008, JVSJVS wrote:

    Phil has already shown a weakness by pandering to Lampard whose sense of loyalty to the badge he spent most of last season licking, is clearly non existant..... Lampard is a carpetbagger and that's fine, they've been seen at the Bridge before ( hi, Cashley) but don't expect the faithful to put up with the false shows of loyalty...... I can hear the chants now and I'll bet you can too Frunk.

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  • 100. At 3:43pm on 23 Jul 2008, collie21 wrote:

    I reckon Scolari is one of the most overated managers at this point. He is long past his best. He has already resorted to trying to destablise Ronaldo by telling him to leave Man U. So he was in effect the first to set the ball rolling. I would agree in Principal that Chelsea are probably at their peak while United have acres to improve on if the young guys continue to learn. but then there are far more interesting stories in the league behind the top 4 other than what 2 old fat guys think about each others clubs and players... Mine's a Cheval Blanc Fergie if you don't mind.

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  • 101. At 3:46pm on 23 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    Well at least Frank has been decent enough to stay with Chelsea for a decent amount of time before peeking elsewhere.

    Shame the likes of Ronaldo are not willing to repay Fergie and Utd for all they've done for him.

    Still, that's life.

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  • 102. At 3:53pm on 23 Jul 2008, Abs_manutd wrote:

    Probebly is mind games but Fergie mite b right agian. If they dont keep Lampard or Drogba (or both) they mite finish 4th.

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  • 103. At 3:59pm on 23 Jul 2008, TurkishWaiter wrote:

    I think that this was somewhat of a smokescreen, and the real target of any 'psycological warfare' was Arsenal.

    "Who is to say that it would not have been closer if Arsene Wenger had kept his players fit?"

    The comments regarding Chelsea were a little too direct, brash and uncharacteristic of Fergie. While provding clear 'Headline' comments, which trump the more subtle comments about Arsenal.

    The quote regarding Arsene Wenger is worded cleverly. It was a follow up of a comment regarding Arsenal losing infulential midfield players mid season.

    The quote suggests that Wengers control of the injury situation could have been handled differently("if Wenger had kept his players fit?"), by preventative measures or squad size/quality. I see this as a clear inditement of the off-season activity at Arsenal; rather than add strength and depth to the midfield which suffered over the long season, they have lost two key players, and replaced them with two young unproven players.

    Over analysed I know, but Fergie has a deserved reputation as a shrewd 'mind-game' player.

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  • 104. At 4:02pm on 23 Jul 2008, Koftanaw wrote:

    Dear Phil McNulty
    Are you a representative or spokesperosn of Scholari to write such an article. It can be anticipated that you are in love with Scholari or Chealsea or the rich owner from your early blog. I am not sure if you have clear idea how good Scholari will be in club football and then you mentioned his English language several times as if the language plays the football. If you are sort of journalist, then be free and cover fairly. Or let you tell us on which club your money is on......
    SAF may be playing mind game and we all shared our opinions. There are guys who clealry support Chealsea and put their ideas forward and we did the same. Plus the neutrals. You came now and started to lecture us about your knowledge of the detailed tacticsl of Scholari including his command of English mentioning that you sat next to him during press conference... Laughable.


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  • 105. At 4:02pm on 23 Jul 2008, norniron_pete wrote:

    It's a bit daft to argue that a side that came so close to three trophies last year will have gone from the peaks of their careers to "too old" within the space of three months.

    I would imagine that Ronaldo's antics this summer will have a more significant outcome on the coming season than Chelsea's average age. United wouldn't have won anything last season without Ronaldo, and even if he doesn't leave his actions are bound to have a detrimental effect on the team spirit at United.

    I agree with Ferguson on one point - Arsenal were unlucky last year and seemed to suffer from the shock of seeing Eduardo's leg broken - even the big tough Schmeichel needed counselling after witnessing something similar. I think they'll be back strong enough to finish second this year, with United in third and Chelsea as champions. And Real Madrid to knock United out of the Champion's League, with Ronaldo scoring the winning goal.

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  • 106. At 4:03pm on 23 Jul 2008, jcooper02 wrote:

    phil, you on one hand tell us "there is a lingering feeling chelsea have made a huge gamble"

    and yet explain that scolari is also up to the challenge.

    please explain.

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  • 107. At 4:05pm on 23 Jul 2008, JVSJVS wrote:

    I agree with SuperDad..... that Ronaldo is a pup and I suspect he has lost the Old Trafford jans, but remember he has been there 5 years and that period has seen 1 Champions League and 3 Premierships 1 League Cup and 2 Charity Shields...... hardly days of darkness ..... dear old Frank has been with Chelsea 7 years but the haul of silver is nothing like as impressive even thoughth eperiod is 30 % more..... argueably Ronaldo has achieved, or been part of achievements that Frank can only dreamn of... and now he's off with 10 times the cash........

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  • 108. At 4:11pm on 23 Jul 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    JVSKVS

    Don't know why I'm bothering really but Ronaldo has 2 league titles just like Lampard.

    Lampard also has a Charity shield and an FA Cup as well as 2 League Cups.

    And we all know how close the Champions League was.

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  • 109. At 4:19pm on 23 Jul 2008, hill16 wrote:

    In response to Phil McNulty's piece on "Fergie's mind-games", why is it that everytime the great man says something, it has to be mind-games? I mean his comment on Jose's achievements not been bettered is valid in my opinion. They are also an ageing team. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. He was asked a question and he answered it. To put words in the man's mouth and dress it up for your own gains, yes you Mr McNulty, is sad really. Also in response to your opinion on the outcome of last season's Premiership and Champions League outcomes. Un-like Chelsea, United were brilliant all season long not just the last two or three games and played football more superior to anything Chelsea could muster. But surely the facts speak for themselves, UNITED ARE 2008 DOUBLE WINNERS! FACT!

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  • 110. At 4:19pm on 23 Jul 2008, I dont want a display name wrote:

    ". . . he is not even sure about Scolari's command of the English language"
    That's because with his command of the English language Ferguson's in no position to judge . . . and no, I'm not joking.

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  • 111. At 4:19pm on 23 Jul 2008, JVSJVS wrote:

    Dear Blueburns,

    Iwas responding to the earlier comment that Frank had been at Chelsea longer and therefore had somehow contributed more to the team achievements than Ronaldo had at Old Trafford... as you point out, Chelsea achieved less with Frank over a longer period and truely, close ain't good enough by a long way.... ask Arsenal or even look back at 50 years at the Bridge without a title.... it's winning that counts and the notion that this somehow isn't the case is a disease that that plagued British sport for decades...
    " What do you call the runner up ? "
    " Er,,,,,,,,,,,,, Loser "

    Frank may have the same number of Prem medals as Ronaldo but surely we want Chelsea to have the same number as United ?


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  • 112. At 4:21pm on 23 Jul 2008, goleooo wrote:

    oh dear, here we go again...playing the old fart's match of words...
    Who cares! Enough of this ridiculous geezer who is constantly degrading the beauty of the sport by his low moral and unfair actions and words.
    It is obvious the old fart is furious that his team is falling appart and is desperately trying to add fuel to the fire by disturbing the other teams balance.
    He fears Chelsea and he knows it because he got lucky lust season to finish ahead when Chelsea was putting up a fight worth winning any trophy in the world.
    Very Well. Fergie the more you speak, the happier we will be to see you eat those words of yours, and dig a whole at the Bridge to hide. The time for this old fool is up. He once was a respectable manager, but age has forced him to lose his mind. Time to clean football!

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  • 113. At 4:25pm on 23 Jul 2008, ILoveTheNHS wrote:

    So the mind games have already started! I think Ferguson's got a point to a degree, but we all know he's up to his old tricks. It's all a bit unnecessary, but I think there's a part in all of us who love it really as it spices things up as we await to hear what Scolari's response will be.

    You have got to, in some ways, admire Ferguson's guts to do it because firstly, it's so simply put by Ferguson yet has the potential to spark off a war of words and secondly, all it's going to do is fire up a very talented Chelsea squad and manager to want to beat United even more.

    The wily old Scot certainly doesn't shy away from tough competition and that has to be admired too.

    Ding ding, round one.

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  • 114. At 4:25pm on 23 Jul 2008, JVSJVS wrote:

    Goleooo must be having his afternoon E..... Sorry mate, the word to describe Chelsea's efforts last season is " inadequate" now grow up

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  • 115. At 4:31pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Despite the fact that Fergy wont talk to the BBC, the BBC and especially MOTD hero worship all things Man United and above all Fergy. Yet the minute anyone breathes a word against the “surly one” all the arm chair reds are up in arms. Here’s the bottom line, Fergy has said he will retire in 3 years, he has also said he wants to overtake Liverpools 18 English titles, United stand on 17, so thats 2 titles in 3 years required by United. Fergy knows United are a good side and dodgy refereeing aside they were deservedly Premier League Champions last season, but he will also know that without the “slave” they would have won nowt. The “slave” wont be available for the first couple of months at least and when/if he does come back will he be the same force has last season? On the basis that he appears desperate to leave probably not, Fergy also knows that without the early season shenanigans at Stamford Bridge last time out Chelsea would have won the Premiership, this over the hill team has not lost a home game for 4 years, they will be stronger next season and Fergy knows that. Arsenal punched above their weight last season and Liverpool don’t have the strength in depth, so he obviously knows it Man U and Chelsea again. If his verbals translate into a single point come May although it reflects very poorly on him it may just help is pursuit of glory.

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  • 116. At 4:37pm on 23 Jul 2008, davser wrote:

    Collie21

    You called it absolutely right.

    Scolari has been at the mind games all summer trying to unsettle Ronaldo by telling him Madrid comes along once a lifetime.

    Rubbish and he knows it. If madrid want a player they'll keep at it especially one as marketable as CR.

    Scolari has had the equivalent of Fergie being based at Stamford Bridge all summer bending the ears of Chelsea players.

    Good on Fergie to start getting his own back.

    Phil McNulty - if you couldn't see that you are in the wrong profession.

    It's bleedin obvious mate!

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  • 117. At 4:39pm on 23 Jul 2008, archpad wrote:

    Didn't Scolari start the mind games first when he urged Ronaldo to move to Real Madrid, knowing that he was going to be the manager of Chelsea?

    Of course he wants to reduce the main opposition's challenge to the title. I don't think this point was missed by Fergie.

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  • 118. At 4:41pm on 23 Jul 2008, thelovelyhotspot wrote:

    #94
    thanks its a pity the bbc dont agree with ''I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it", as for some inane reason they delated my post #74.

    i no longer watch the PL. Last season i got dissulutined, and stopped following it with anything like as greater interest as I had done before. Now this summer I have become totally annoyed by it, and have tryed to avoid following anything to do with it at all. However the reason why I comment, is because even if you do not want to follow it, it is still rammed constantly in your face. The media over cover it far too much, this almost annoys me more than the premier league itself. I just do not understand why people are so engrossed with it now, surely it is must be boring after a point when you know what is going to happen. Sport to me is about a competative edge and evrybody being in with a cahnce of winning. I love footabll but I hate what it has become, this is why I reluctunatly hvae decided to stop watching it.

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  • 119. At 4:42pm on 23 Jul 2008, mothersuperior wrote:

    phil obvoiusly takes the side of the underdog (if chelski moneybags could be called a underdog). I would remind you that not 3 weeks ago Phil Hackman from Brazil informed sulky Ronaldo that he should join Real Madrid !!! Not by letter or phone but via the press......is that mind games or just fear that him millionaires will have to face united's more skilful millionaires a fer times this season.

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  • 120. At 4:42pm on 23 Jul 2008, jam tomorrow wrote:

    Very good point or two about Scolari and Ronaldo, has the train left the station yet?ha ha

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  • 121. At 4:45pm on 23 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    We certainly have a few players the wrong side of 30 but the oldest first team player, Maka, has now gone.

    Possibly the most important position for not wanting to carry a player past his sell by date is keeper.

    How old is Van Der Sar?

    There could be trouble ahead...

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  • 122. At 4:45pm on 23 Jul 2008, royalarsenaltilidie wrote:

    As an Arsenal fan im a bit dissapointed. SAF reserves these kinds of taunts only for those he really feels can harm his ambitions.

    There again, ur all underestimating Arsenal and Liverpool, both, as always are serious title contenders. As long as Arsenal can avoid the injuries and get a good run of form, and Liverpool can overcome Bentez's philosophy of 'who needs the Premiership when u can have europe' and 'if u win 5-0 none of u will play next week', both clubs can Push Chelski and Utd to the wire, and quite possibly grab the title.

    Beware Fergy, the best of the red contenders will still manage to get in your way.

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  • 123. At 4:47pm on 23 Jul 2008, royalarsenaltilidie wrote:

    "Possibly the most important position for not wanting to carry a player past his sell by date is keeper.

    How old is Van Der Sar?"

    Now thats just a stupid comment, based of Cech's at times avarage displays last season and rubbish Euro, all adding up to the conclusion that the best keeper in the world isnt quite as unbeatable as it first appeared, Van Der Sarr is quite possibly the best keeper in the league at the moment. Keepers can play to a ripe old age and Van Der Sarr aint done yet.

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  • 124. At 4:50pm on 23 Jul 2008, Red_Red_Devil wrote:

    MrBlueBurns:

    The Chelsea players you mention (the two Coles, Essien Cech and Terry) usually all play alongside the likes of Lampard, Ballack and Carvalho in a starting XI. So who in your current squad would come in to fill the shoes of Lampard, Ballack, and Carvalho?

    At United Nani and Giggs rarely play on the same starting XI. When Giggs does retire, Ronaldo, Nani or Park can take his place on the left. Its same with central midfield where scholes, hargreaves, carrick, Fletcher and Anderson never start together. So when Scholes does leave, Utd have two or three younger options to fill his void. When Van der Sar (who is 37) leaves we have replacements in Foster and Kuszczak

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  • 125. At 4:51pm on 23 Jul 2008, Ryunis wrote:

    I think that this time it's Chelsea's season and Fergie knows it, Chelsea were just as good as Man Utd last season bar two points and a penalty miss after hitting the woodwork twice, despite having Terry, Drogba and Lampard injured for large chunks of the season.
    By the law of averages Chelsea should pip United to the title this season, plus Ronaldo isn't going to have a pre season to get himself as fit as he needs to be to maintain the excellence of the previous campaign

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  • 126. At 4:54pm on 23 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    Van Der Sar is nowhere near the best keeper in the league.

    he most certainly had the privilege of playing behind the defence in the league. Lucky him.

    He was far from convincing last season.

    As for Cech, he looked average last season but considering what he was coming back from I wouldn't worry too much about that. He made one bad secision in the Euros and all of a sudden planks like you think he's rubbish. Van Der Sar didn't look too hot in the Euros but had a better team in front of him.

    Did Seamans' howler against Nayim make him rubbish? No. So stop your nonsense.

    Van Der Sar is past his best by some way and proper Utd fans recognise this.

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  • 127. At 4:54pm on 23 Jul 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    'Mind games'? Don't make me laugh. Ferguson is not some psychiatrist but some self important manager who says what he says to get press coverage.

    Mind games indeed. People give far too much weight, credibility and respect to what are remarks made in response to a lazy hack wanting to have a back page headline in a quiet period.

    Incidentally, Chelsea have just beaten Guangzhou 4-0 in a pre-season friendly. Where is the BBC report as they seem to be reporting on other teams pre-season games?

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  • 128. At 4:56pm on 23 Jul 2008, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    Red_Red_Devil

    Alex, Mikel and Kalou come to mind.

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  • 129. At 5:28pm on 23 Jul 2008, goleooo wrote:

    JVSJVS no worries m8t! I am grown up, but I also like sportmanship. It might help if you look it up on the oxford's dictionary what it means. While you are at it, send a copy to fergie too...it seems the old fart has forgotten what loyalty to the sport, sportmanship, respect mean.

    How I wish Mourinho was around to make that old fool eat his words. HOpefully Scholari will do the same thing. Such a shame even the ManU fans are not the same anymore, so blind and boring. Can't even share a drink with people like you anymore, since you get on the defensive right away. It's a sport mate a beautiful sport, and this old fart is just making it ugly.
    No player is great than the club, and no club is greater than the sport! So there will always be ManU without Fergie or babyboy Ronaldo, and there will always be football without ManU!

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  • 130. At 5:29pm on 23 Jul 2008, bogsdollocks wrote:

    I think that it's time that journalists started giving the likes of SAF and others a hard time in Press Conferences. It seems to me that SAF is untouchable and will only accept questions from hacks that are 'safe' and Physcophantic.

    I for one am delighted that on Match of the Day I don't have to put up with his red nosed smug face anymore because he's boycotting the BBC because they gave SAF a hard time in some dim and distant past.

    No Queiros, who will do the interviews now? Who cares?

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  • 131. At 5:31pm on 23 Jul 2008, mardi12 wrote:

    average age 28? its all coz of the difference in age between the 2 goalie's. van der sar is 37 and cech is 26. goalie's shouldn't even be counted. + u have to can't pick ur own line up and get an average age. what about the subs and reserves?!

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  • 132. At 5:49pm on 23 Jul 2008, Mancun Ian wrote:

    royalarsenaltilidie says "As long as Arsenal can avoid the injuries and get a good run of form," they can possibly grab the title

    Well based on that Stoke can win the league, just need to avoid injuries and if they can win every game then I think they might just have a chance.....

    I do agree with your comments re Van Der Saar though - he's past it and far from being the best keeper in the league.

    With regards to SAF, he is merely stating an opinion which the media have then hyped into "mind games" because they have nothing else to write about and they have exhausted their "transfer gossip" stories to the maximum.

    If my work was as in-accurate as the reports in the daily papers I would have been fired by now, but of course as a sports journalists you simply have to imply that a "spokesman for the club" or "source" provided you the information. (is "source" simply "Dave at the end of the bar near the ground" who had an opinion?). Of course the clubs don't mind these pointless stories - what other brands can command 10 pages in every UK paper for absolutely free?

    I am not a ManUtd fan - and I do love football, just tired of the pointless unfounded stories that are regurgitated every summer (Gerrard, Lampard, Berbatov, Ronaldo to name but a few)

    PS What started as a mild mannered quip has now developed into a rant about the lack of quality of sports journalism in the papers, and it's not just football affected.


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  • 133. At 5:59pm on 23 Jul 2008, Sackeyprince wrote:

    Mind games? What mind games?
    This guy is old and probably will go on a walking-stick before the season ends. He's shaky because the guy that does his work has left to honour his country's call.
    I've been in football long enough to know that the only thing that matters, beside pre-bla bla..is when the ref blows the kick off and final whistle.

    Chelsea are old eh? (kiss my teeth), nonsense...

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  • 134. At 6:02pm on 23 Jul 2008, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    I am not British so you may forgive me but I think that Scolari speaks better English than SAF. Whatever SAF peaks does not sound English to me, with all respect to the dialects you have in the uk. As for mentioning age, I always tought that SAF would stay clear of that subject.. But then I was wrong.

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  • 135. At 6:04pm on 23 Jul 2008, M wrote:

    Hey Phil, Chelsea fan are you?

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  • 136. At 6:12pm on 23 Jul 2008, SenorBiggles wrote:

    Call me a cynic, but sounds far more logical that Fergie's comments and mind games are directed at Man U Fans and not Chelski/Scolari at all. Is SAF trying to convince Man U supporters that this season will be just as good as the last, even though their star 40+ goal midfielder apparently wants to leave, or at best is going to be out of action until October, and that it's quite possible that MU won't be signing any recognised stars to strengthen the squad before the season starts. ....My prediction: The knives will be out for the Glazers by late September. ....Mind you, I could just be trying to unsettle you.

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  • 137. At 6:17pm on 23 Jul 2008, The Professor wrote:

    "But Ferguson will know...that Chelsea will be his most formidable opponents this coming season."

    His comments didn't infer that he thought Chelsea weren't formidable opponents. It was merely that he didn't see a lot of progress given the number of over-30's at Chelsea. Then he said not to underestimate Arsenal or Liverpool, probably on the basis of the number of under-30's at each club.

    I think this is slightly amateur journalism. Ferguson often resorts to kidology, true. But you may have noticed that he employs it when he feels it's necessary. As he's gotten older, there have been changes - for example last season, when he said that Arsenal didn't deserve to lose the match against United. I believe he was being honest (and it's easier to be honest when in a winning position). It appears Ferguson is comfortable with his squad, and the challenge posed by Chelsea. So much so, that he has said what he has said. It isn't the 'same old' routine'. He's expressing confidence, that's all.

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  • 138. At 6:21pm on 23 Jul 2008, Sackeyprince wrote:

    RE: 4. At 12:49pm on 23 Jul 2008, scotspur wrote:

    For once I agree with Mr McNulty. Fergie is become transparent and starting to look silly. He is the greatest british manager ever, he's not a one club one trick pony..................................................................

    To think that your comment is up here is a show of the simple fact that the internet revolution is sickening. Fergusson the greatest British manager? You're so foolish football gods should curse you for life.
    There is a certain name: Bill Shankly, wikipeda it up, hell google it up....

    Chelsea finished? Thats the typical birtish man's attitude. Arrogant and foolish. He did the same thing when Mourinho was here, and in The Special one's first season he made Mr Alex look like an idiot in Old Trafford.
    The reason why he's yet to leave Manchester United is because he's scared. Scared that he might never achieve anything outside that club. Mourinho has won domestic and European cups, moved to another club, proved his worth in the first year, helped the team break countless records, made unrecognized players MVP's.

    All he's doing now is trying to sway the press from the simple fact that there is war in his camp, Ronaldo is leaving...that's your problem, not Chelsea. Deal with your house.

    Prove himself my @$$. Does he have a better midfield than Chelsea? They just thumped Z. Pharmaceuticals 4-0..!

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  • 139. At 6:35pm on 23 Jul 2008, The Professor wrote:

    Minus Goalies (as Van Der Sar and Cech aren't going to change much):

    Brown(28) Ferdinand(29) Vidic(26) Evra(27)
    Carrick(26) Hargreaves(27)
    Rooney(22) Tevez(24) Ronaldo(23)

    Average age: 23.2

    Bosingwa(25) Terry(27) Carvalho(30) A. Cole(27)
    J. Cole(26) Essien(25) Ballack(31) Deco(30) Lampard(30)
    Drogba(30)

    Average age: 28.1

    Plus, note not a single over-30 player in the United outfield first team, versus 5 in Chelsea's.

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  • 140. At 6:40pm on 23 Jul 2008, Cruyff Wannabe wrote:

    Ferguson does make me laugh.

    I suppose he didn't mention that he's 7 years older than the chelsea manager?

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  • 141. At 6:46pm on 23 Jul 2008, manuteflonmon wrote:

    djconnell - how on earth have you calculated United's average age?

    BTW you have only included 9 outfield players.

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  • 142. At 6:51pm on 23 Jul 2008, Ji-Sung Parks cousin - 19 wrote:

    It's funny how you journos didn't even know the guy well enough to know he spoke english only a matter of weeks ago.... but all of a sudden, you know him inside out and know just how he will react to SAF's mind games.

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  • 143. At 6:59pm on 23 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    I think that Ferguson is talking straight for once. Sometimes it's just mind games, and once in awhile he's dead honest. This is Ferguson being honest.

    I think some of you guys, and the sports media, and so on, are dazzled by Chelsea over the last 4 years and think we're going to see the same Chelsea. There are many reasons why Chelsea are not going to be Chelsea this year.

    (1) Mourinho and then Grant were exceptional managers, especially the former, and worked miracles.

    (2) Scolari is a gritty defensive minded coach who is built for tournaments, has no experience of the best league on earth, and Abramovich will hate him from about October when he realizes Chelsea were better to watch under Grant than Scolari.

    (3) Chelsea have lost their most important player, Claude Makelele. Deco is no kind of a replacement. Essien will have to play that role, and could be just as good, but losing Makelele will hurt Chelsea.

    (4) Chemistry won Chelsea 2 Prems, not just money or star players. Mourinho was the king of it. Scolari won't have it. It's the hardest thing in the world to bring star names together, and the other big 3 have a massive upper hand in that they are stabilized and have consistency and don't have anyone in the upper management telling them to play a certain style.

    (5) The players have still not forgiven Abramovich for dumping Mourinho, and now Grant, despite their success.

    Chelsea will finish 5th this season. Ferguson will turn out to be right. Liverpool and Arsenal really are the main challengers for the Premier League. He knows it. He will start his mind games with them when the season really gets going. He is writing Chelsea off in complete honesty, and so am I. Phil is a nice guy. No disrespect to him. But he was a bad choice for this job, and Chelsea will fall by the wayside.

    Spurs, Everton, Man City, Villa or even Newcastle, will shock the world and finish 4th. I'm gonna take a wild guess and say Spurs. Second choice, Man City.

    Chelsea may also finish 6th or 7th. This is not wishful thinking. This is an honest prediction. Wait and see how the season unfolds before you lambast me and call me crazy.

    Fox Elipsus

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  • 144. At 7:02pm on 23 Jul 2008, fergaljpc wrote:

    Fergie has no right to critisise anyone especially somebody with international credentials like Scolari's. You can't just buy your way out of it like Fergie has in the past. I do wonder what would have happened if during that whole Beckham, Ronaldihno merry-go-round transfer saga, where 'dihno could have ended up at United and Ronaldo would then have gone to Barca.

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  • 145. At 7:03pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    Sir Alex is clearly afraid of what Scolari could do to English football. Has Sir Alex ever won a World Cup? Obviously he is afraid of the fact that Chelsea may sign Brazil International Robinho therefore freeing up more money for there acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo. Another thing, SAF has proven himself to be a hypocrite once again.

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  • 146. At 7:04pm on 23 Jul 2008, remarkableChelseaFC wrote:

    SAF is playin mind games hes trying to put Scholari off n i can see Chelsea winning the league in 2009, i mean u all saw how close the champions league was, manu still aren't the better team - no proof - it just happened to be raining so john terry slid n missed, he regrets it enough, if i was him i would wake up every morning thinking of that miss (in the newspapers which i just happened to walk past n read)

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  • 147. At 7:04pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    There are many good teams in the Premier League. Especially with the new signings that the Spurs have initiated. I wouldn't be suprised to see a change in the top four. But you cannot rule Chelsea FC out though.

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  • 148. At 7:07pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    Foxelipsus..are you delusional? Chelseas most important player was Claude Maekele? are you kidding yourself? what about ballack and lampard? I think you as well as Ferguson are thinking out of your arse.

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  • 149. At 7:10pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    djconnell was afraid to put scholes oshea giggs park ji sung or neville on there..even though they are not starters, but who says deco will start at chelsea? or if drogba will even be on there team.

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  • 150. At 7:10pm on 23 Jul 2008, M wrote:

    Sackeyprince -

    Bill Shankly's list of honours pales in comparison to Ferguson's. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

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  • 151. At 7:10pm on 23 Jul 2008, oxshottphil wrote:

    Speaking as a neutral, does anyone really care what Ferguson says or thinks?

    Being more than twice the age of the average Chelsea player, he should be very careful of casting doubts over people's abilities after reaching a certain age, expecially when dementia is common amongst his age bracket.

    He should have more than enough to focus upon at Old Trafford, bearing in mind his star player doesn't even want to be there, he openly admits that his fiery import from Everton is playing in a role needing better definition, his most dependable and long serving squad members are also a little long in the tooth and will not be around for much longer and he is looking to another primadonna to lead the line, in the absence of anyone else to perform that function.

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  • 152. At 7:10pm on 23 Jul 2008, redandblackT-Save 606 wrote:

    Ferguson trying to get under the skin of a World Cup winning coach.sad,pathetic and slightly humourous.

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  • 153. At 7:13pm on 23 Jul 2008, M wrote:

    I also forgot to add that he has achieved success outside of Manchester United. I think you need to get on wikipedia yourself.

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  • 154. At 7:14pm on 23 Jul 2008, joe_williams9 wrote:

    People are mentioning Liverpool in the so called 'big 4'. They've a decent chance in the champions league, but in the premiership they'll be way off the pace. Again. 19 years since the last time they won the league title. Teams with 2 quality players don't win championships, Rafa.

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  • 155. At 7:15pm on 23 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    Perhaps I am delusional, but no more delusional than the Special One, who also believed that Makelele was his most important player, and said it several times over his three years at the club. Michael Ballack had a good last couple of months, but to even mention him among Chelsea's best would be premature.

    I could be wrong - they might get 4th or even 3rd - but I'll be surprised. In order for that to happen, one of the top 3 will have to capitulate, because this year Chelsea will be divers, they will be playing for 1-0 wins, they will be tactically immature, and they will be beaten by some of the smaller teams. Scolari may even be gone by xmas, depending on how bad it gets. But Abramovich can never take away his World Cup, even if he takes away his dignity with his own bad decision to hire a man with no European top flight experience whatsoever, much less in the top flight of the toughest league on earth to win, with a "you must win and also play attractive" dogma attached to the contract.

    Scolari's teams have never played attractive football. He's not going to start now.

    Fox Elipsus

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  • 156. At 7:23pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    and who might be the two quality players that liverpool has? id love to see who you dont have mentioned.

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  • 157. At 7:23pm on 23 Jul 2008, semuwemba wrote:

    Alex Ferguson will shallow his words when he retires without a league trophy in the next 2 years. If age was an issue in today’s football, then Arsenal which buys kids on sale (buy 1 get 1 free) would be the best team in the league. Arsenal don’t like spending money and therefore buy their players in charity football clubs. Chelsea FC have got the best defence, best midfield and best squad in the league. ManU have only got an edge over Chelsea in the strikers’ department. So Alex’s comments are from an old man who is already dreaming about Chelsea beating them to the title this season. Chelsea will win the league without any doubt

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  • 158. At 7:24pm on 23 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    PS

    As for all the Liverpool comments, Liverpool have consistently been inside the top 4 with a couple of blips for the best part of a decade, they were much closer to the top last year than before, they have been to 2 Champions League finals and won 1, and believe me Arsenal and Chelsea would trade one of their league titles for that honour. It's fair enough to say that given their lack of superstar names, and their inconsistency, that they are outsiders for the title, and that Man U are clear favourites, and Chelsea (wrongly so) and Arsenal (rightly so) are slightly ahead of them in the odds, but write Liverpool off at your peril. They are going to win the league one of these years, and Rafa has what it takes. The problem is, Man U at their best are a seemingly unstoppable proposition.

    As for only 2 star players, well, Javier Mascherano, Jamie Carragher, Xabi Alonso would make it into any team on earth, and could straight-swap with Hargreaves/Essien, Rio/JT and Scholes/Lampard without losing any real quality.

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  • 159. At 7:24pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    they only made it to the champions league final 2 years ago...you can never count out liverpool

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  • 160. At 7:27pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    i have to agree with foxelipsus on this liverpool matter. i take back the delusional comment fox...and deem it to joe_williams...ridiculous to say liverpool aren't a worry at all...mate..figure it out

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  • 161. At 7:28pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    liverpool are on the right track to do some damage with signings lyouthful talent. Torres has already proven his worth this year on the pitch and with the signing of Deggen, Rafa has the right mindset and is on the right track.

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  • 162. At 7:36pm on 23 Jul 2008, Sackeyprince wrote:

    RE: 28. At 1:26pm on 23 Jul 2008, That boy Giggsy, he's won it 10 times wrote:

    You must be, of all men, most miserable.... Banking on glory. Your 'boss' is shitting in his pants, having nightmares, ensuring that he diverts the attention from the fact that he's lost one key man, and another boy will follow suit...and hoping he has the same luck that that's followed him last year.
    Mark my words, you have been cursed, and it'll manifest this season...

    Stay, bank on glory..if you were any sensible you will realize that this article is about the present....

    Idiot..

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  • 163. At 7:43pm on 23 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    Thanks bcity. I hope Liverpool can pull in another major striker before the window shuts. Now that they are keeping Alonso I think they should wash their hands of Barry. I rate Xabi higher anyway. I know it sounds crazy to say that Chelsea won't finish in the top 4, I know how unlikely that is, and that's why I said it - it's a controversial opinion and nobody can see how it is possible, but I have this very strange feeling that everything will go wrong at Stamford Bridge this season. There will be a huge fallout too, Scolari may get fired, and you never know, Abramovich may even end the season washing his hands of the club. We will see. I have a bad feeling about Chelsea.

    As much as it's Liverpool's time to win, and Man U are obviously the clear favourites by a mile, I have this weird feeling that everyone are underestimating Arsenal *again* and that is a very very bad idea.

    And to everyone that is dissing Ferguson: he is now the greatest manager in the history of British football. He single-handedly clawed British clubs back into European contention after our ban in the late 80s, he's won 3 European titles, not 2, and he's won *more Premier Leagues than the rest of England put together*. He keeps getting older, and his teams keep getting better. He is an absolute legend and every one of us just wishes that we could have had SAF at our club, and that our team could have played like they have played, for so long, at such a high level.

    Arsene and Jose also deserve a lot of credit for being geniuses, and Rafa too, for pulling Liverpool out of also-rans into contenders and heavyweights again, but no-one will likely ever have the longevity and sustained success in this country that Ferguson has. At this point, it doesn't matter if he is right or wrong, because his CV is the strongest on the planet, and it doesn't take a miracle worker to win the World Cup (and Brazil were *very* lucky to get by Belgium, England and Turkey in 2002, never outplaying any of them), but it does take a miracle worker to win the Premier League.

    Scolari? Not a chance. Much respect to Phil. Nice guy. Premier League? Don't make me laugh. 4th place? If he's lucky, or better than I think he is - he might get 4th or even 3rd. My prediction stands.

    Chelsea = 5th.

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  • 164. At 7:45pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    whos the idiot?

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  • 165. At 7:46pm on 23 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    PS I'd like to clarify, I'm not an Arsenal fan, but that Arsenal fans might be the only club that would rather have had their own manager than Ferguson. Because Wenger may not have won as many leagues, but nobody has ever brought such sheer beauty to the English game before Wenger.

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  • 166. At 7:47pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    the only problem that i see with arsenal is there lack of a mid field. unless they acquire someone soon they are going to have a rough time. With Hleg and Flamini out, there is a void the mid field. Cesc can't do it all.

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  • 167. At 7:47pm on 23 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    Re: 164. At 7:45pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:
    whos the idiot?

    Answer: Roman Abramovich :) - anyone who fires Jose Mourinho has to be out of touch with reality.

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  • 168. At 7:50pm on 23 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    You're right, Arsenal will have a huge task trying to replace their lost stars. I see Rosicky and Nasri coming on really strong and more than replacing Hleb, and Van Persia and Eduardo back, no problem up front with Adebayor, but my question is, who for the holding midfielder?

    Wenger says he will make one more signing and this will be crucial. I think he needs Marcos Senna. I think that will tip the scales in their favour. They could end up 4th or out of touch with the leaders, but the thing is, everyone expects that, and everyone expects Chelsea at the top or close to it, and the way I see things working out, the hype is all misplaced, and Arsenal will be there come the season's end (hopefully so will Man U and Liverpool and we'll have a thrilling three horse race), while Chelsea will shock the world and fall by the wayside. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but time will tell.

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  • 169. At 7:57pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    Yes. Manchester is unstoppable right now. Ferguson has made all the right moves, but don't you think he is more worried about Tottenhm or even West Ham this season?

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  • 170. At 7:58pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    If Dimitar stays with the Spurs they have a really good chance of finishing in a top spot. They made several good signings this transfer period.

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  • 171. At 7:58pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    Yes but Mourinho also made comments a few years back that there was no place in the Premier League for players like Cristiano Ronaldo. :)

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  • 172. At 8:02pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    Cristiano made everything possible last season. Mourinho's criticsm of Ronaldo made him lose some respect for Mourinho.

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  • 173. At 8:11pm on 23 Jul 2008, Arctic wrote:

    I sometimes wonder why people give any credence to comments supposedly made by managers. Most of this stuff is quoted from tabloids, and if you believe anything you read in a tabloid.. well I suppose everything on the internet must be true as well.

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  • 174. At 8:12pm on 23 Jul 2008, matchboxmaster wrote:

    St.Mirren 1974–1978
    Domestic competition

    Scottish First Division:
    Winner (1): 1976–77

    Aberdeen 1978–1986
    Domestic competition

    Scottish Premier Division:
    Winner (3): 1979–80, 1983–84, 1984–85
    Scottish Cup:
    Winner (4): 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86
    Scottish League Cup:
    Winner (1): 1985–86
    Runner-up (2): 1978–79, 1979–80
    European competition

    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
    Winner (1): 1982–83
    UEFA Super Cup:
    Winner (1): 1983

    Manchester United 1986–
    Domestic competition

    Premier League:
    Winner (10): 1992–93, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08
    Runner-up (3): 1994–95, 1997–98, 2005–06
    Football League First Division:
    Runner-up (2): 1987–88, 1991–92
    FA Cup:
    Winner (5): 1989–90, 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99, 2003–04
    Runner-up (3): 1994–95, 2004–05, 2006–07
    League Cup:
    Winner (2): 1991–92, 2005–06
    Runner-up (3): 1990–91, 1993–94, 2002–03
    FA Charity/Community Shield:
    Winner (7): 1990 (shared), 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2007
    Runner-up (5): 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004
    European competition

    UEFA Champions League:
    Winner (2): 1998–99, 2007–08
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup:
    Winner (1): 1990–91
    UEFA Super Cup:
    Winner (1): 1991
    Runner-up (1): 1999
    International competition

    Intercontinental Cup:
    Winner (1): 1999
    Individual Awards

    FA Premier League Manager of the Year:
    Winner (8): 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2002–03, 2006–07, 2007–08
    FA Premier League Manager of the Month:
    Winner (21): August 1993, October 1994, February 1996, March 1996, February 1997, October 1997, January 1999, April 1999, August 1999, March 2000, April 2000, February 2001, April 2003, December 2003, February 2005, March 2006, August 2006, October 2006, February 2007, January 2008, March 2008
    LMA Manager of the Year:
    Winner (2): 1998–99, 2007–08
    LMA Manager of the Decade:
    Winner (1): 1990s
    UEFA Champions League Manager of the Year:
    Winner (1): 1998–99
    UEFA Team of the Year:
    2007
    BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award:
    Winner (1): 2001
    BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award:
    Winner (1): 1999
    IFFHS Club Coach of the Year:
    Winner (1): 1999
    Football Writers' Association Tribute Award:
    Winner (1): 1996
    Mussabini Medal:
    Winner (1): 1999
    World Soccer Magazine Coach of the Year:
    Winner (3): 1993, 1999, 2007
    Professional Footballers' Association Merit Award:
    Winner (1): 2007
    Onze d'Or Coach of the Year :
    Winner (2): 1999, 2007
    Other awards

    BBC Sports Personality of the Year Team Award: 1999
    Laureus World Sports Award for Team of the Year: 2000


    Fergie knows a thing or two about winning. He also knows a thing or two about how to handle the press and opposition managers. He has a very good point...United's team (best players - Ronaldo, Rooney, Ferdinand, Anderson) can improve more than Chelsea's team (best players - Drogba, Lampard, Ballack, Terry)...deal with it.

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  • 175. At 9:11pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    yes but does that give him the right to down other teams?

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  • 176. At 9:14pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    oh yah and im glad you know how to navigate wikipedia..lol...u know anyone can post anything on that site?

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  • 177. At 9:14pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    and just to let you all know, fergie doesn't even take the pitch when the team practices
    ..his former portuguese assistant ran most the practices and he is now gone...what now?

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  • 178. At 9:31pm on 23 Jul 2008, Limboblo wrote:

    Arsenal must be at their most relaxed self considering that Fergie's mindgame is in the meantime aimed at Chelsea's new mentor. We will just wait and see whose legs still possess the mileage required to contain Arsene's youthful mean machine against their (Manu's and Blues) 28-year average players.

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  • 179. At 9:33pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    ill take experience over youth any day

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  • 180. At 9:38pm on 23 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    FoxElipsus, I have read and heard some nonsense in my time but you surely take the biscuit.

    Please tell me your on the wind up.

    You can't actually be serious with your deluded comments.

    As for the age thing, AC Milan won the odd half decent trophy the season before last with a much older team than ours.

    This age thing is dull. A bit like Fergie was known to be at school. And that, my friends, is a fact.

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  • 181. At 9:42pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    i agree maldini is 39! 39 years old and a top defender in Serie A. With age comes experience with experience comes wins. who won the club world cup?

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  • 182. At 9:43pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    i agree with some of what foxelipsus says..but not that maekele was the heart and soul of chelsea

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  • 183. At 9:45pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    Whats funny about this whole blog is that i am a very big fan for Manchester United. I just don't like the idea of SAF talking trash like that...prove it on the pitch..you know?

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  • 184. At 9:59pm on 23 Jul 2008, Oneway86 wrote:

    So much bitterness, its pathetic.
    Ferguson has got people wound up which is what he wants. However, he was probably stupid for the way he decided to go about it. At the end of the day Chelsea will be up there come the end of the season. I don't think it will be any other than the same top two that finished 1st and 2nd last season. I don't think Arsenal and Liverpool will be that far behind but the strength in depth in Chelsea and United's squad is unbelievable. Liverpool are signing players who have never even been heard of and who knows how they'll turn out. But Benitez's track record suggests some could be on the way out of the door come end of the season. Arsenal are a young team so they are a couple of years off winning the league. In saying that, you can't write off Mr Wengers team.

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  • 185. At 10:05pm on 23 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    i agree Oneway86. I think people need to stop focusing on whos gonna with the league before it has even started...furthermore no one is talking about the other teams besides the "big 4" like tottenham, west ham, new castle...these are all big clubs who have had some big signings. You can't rule them out either.

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  • 186. At 10:06pm on 23 Jul 2008, Marcos_Garcia_SP wrote:

    This type of comment on Chelsea team which is a sort of criticism made by Sir Fergusson in his press conference is only fuel for Scolari to thrash Man United in this season.
    All alives during the premier league will see it.

    Marcos Garcia
    São Paulo-SP
    Brazil

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  • 187. At 10:31pm on 23 Jul 2008, redforever wrote:

    A couple of people have had a bit of back and forth over who the best manager ever is. Ferguson or Shankly? Paisley would have to be there for me, but anyways.
    I am a Liverpool fan, and I say that if Liverpool had had Ferguson for the past 22 years, I am sure he would have equalled or surpassed what he has achieved today with United. I for one wish he had been.
    Shankly did something special, really creating a big club out of an average on. He also made a big step in changing how the team played, mixing quality, skillful players with strong ones. he made European trophies a priority and brought us to the brink of glory. It was Paisley who really pressed the GO button though, and he also re-made the team two times after he inherited it.
    Ferguson has achieved a monumental amount with United, and while they have always had the benefit of the big crowds, it was him that turned that advantage into a great team. To my reckoning he has re-built his team distinctly 4 times since then, and got success with every re-incarnation.
    His achilles heel has been a failure to transfer domestic dominance into European success. He went a long way to remedying that last year, with the help of Carlos Quieroz.
    I am going to say that it breaks my heart but Ferguson has earned the top spot.

    You still have a job Phil?

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  • 188. At 10:44pm on 23 Jul 2008, niggle_m wrote:

    Is it just me - i make Chelseas average age to be 27 (based on games actually played last season plus Deco and Bosingwa). If Kaka or Robinho come in that may actually reduce the average age slightly. i haven't included Frankie though as i can't see him staying... However i am fairly sure Didier will stay.

    Name FirstName Age Dob
    Cech Petr 26 20/05/1982
    Cole Ashley 27 20/12/1980
    Tery John 27 07/12/1980
    Carvalho Ricardo 30 18/05/1978
    Bosingwa Jose 25 24/08/1982
    Cole Joe 26 08/11/1981
    Essien Michael 25 03/12/1982
    Ballack Michael 31 26/09/1976
    Deco 30 27/08/1977
    Kalou Solomon 22 05/08/1985
    Drogba Didier 30 11/03/1978

    Average 27

    i think that from the above only arguably Drogba, Ballack and Deco have seen their best days (and could all have one more great season) and most of the team (6) are at or approaching their peak age of 26-28. Kalou is only 22 but is most likely to lose his place if someone else comes in.

    By the way, United do have some great young players but Utd have had to rely on youth whereas Chelsea can afford to buy players at their peak. Also young players can be more inconsisent (witness the last third of Arsenals season). Without Ronaldos 30 goals from last season UTD would have struggled to win anything and Fergie knows that.

    Expect one moody inconsistent and absence strewn season from Ronaldo before he finally heads off to Real. Also it will probably be one season too far for Utds old guard of Giggs, Scholes, Van der Saar and Neville. Add in post CL winners fatigue too! All of which means that it is probably quite optimistic for Utd fans to believe they will be challenging Chelsea and Arsenal for the League next season.

    I expect to see Utd sitting in third or forth at christmas some way off the pace and bozo reds fans calling for Fergies head....

    You heard it here first!

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  • 189. At 11:19pm on 23 Jul 2008, Artychoke wrote:

    It should be remembered that Scolari "fired the first shot" by reputedly telling Ronaldo to leave United.

    I'm sure though, he was only thinking about the player and not who he played for.

    Sure!

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  • 190. At 11:27pm on 23 Jul 2008, cldntgiveatoss wrote:

    SFA's success comes with a good number two at his side!

    On his own and left to his own designs, he has signed some players who failed to shine, more than what have been a success.

    But being manager of a big club with a massive support from everywhere in the world but Manchester can't be easy, especially having to buy a team instead of bringing players through (applies to Chelsea, L'pool and Arsenal too).

    Last time in Manchester went to game at Old Trafford. No atmosphere, especially when United went 1-0 down and eventually lost to a half empty stadium who rushed out to get their coach home. Previous time in Manchester, saw City play. What an atmosphere and what a joy the mancunian accent and sense of humour from Manchester fans watching their team.

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  • 191. At 11:32pm on 23 Jul 2008, BestSpam1979 wrote:

    Scolari tells Ronaldo: "Leave Man U for Real"

    Fergie's revenge: "Chelsea have aging squad"

    If that's the worst off-pitch damage SAF can do to Big Phil, Chelsea's fans have little to fear!

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  • 192. At 00:04am on 24 Jul 2008, facebookgod wrote:

    This is an incredibly heated debate. I'll start of by saying I'm a Utd supporter, but I'll do my best to remain unbiased in my comments.
    Ferguson is merely pointing out that he feels Arsenal and Liverpool will be stronger than Chelsea. Now that is highly likely. I'm by no means saying Chelsea won't be challenging for the title, however I see stronger team morale at the other top 3. Even though Arsenal have lost Hleb, and Liverpool have their board problems. Also Ronaldo's commitment should not lightly be questioned.
    He has always wanted to play for Real and made no secret to that, but he wants to win. He wants to be the best. I'd still bet he's still the first one in and the last one to leave training.
    And Ferguson knows everyone at OT. From the cleaning ladies down to the new kids. He binds them all together. Wenger and Benitez also know their clubs through and through. And I believe Scolari will in time, but that requires him to have the time.
    On the age issue, Utd do have the advantage in both youth and experience. Scholes was incredibly influential when he played, and I feel he spread the ball around the pitch and saw amazing through balls better than anyone. Giggs started well last season although I feel his days are over now and Neville is now an unknown quantity (I know this might seem to defeat my argument but keep reading!)
    But the real experience comes from some of the younger players. Ferdinand, Hargraeves, and Brown are all young, but have played in a winning team for years (as you could argue with the Chelsea players), but they can still improve greatly.
    And Utd's youth, Ronaldo, Rooney, Nani, Anderson, Tevez, have also played regularly in a winning team. Chelsea's youth haven't.
    Now onto the Scolari v Ferguson debate. If one of the most successful, experienced managers is not allowed to express his opinion on matters of a teams ability, then who is? And to those comparing it to how he reacted to Real these are too completely different issues. Real were trying to unsettle the player in a bid to get him so sign, maybe for a cheaper price. That was business at work. Ferguson is making a sporting comment about sporting ability. Which he and every other manager is entitled to do.
    Now I know Chelsea fans already adore Big Phil, but there is no evidence to suggest that he is going to be a top manager at European Club level. A world cup is indeed impressive, and by no means an easy feat with any team, but now he will be up against a style of football he has never played against. The EPL is unique. What can be said for him is that his style will suit Chelsea, but not their fans (unless they're winning in which case they won't care about how they play!). What will decide it for him will be how he gets his team to bind, and how influenced he is by the Chairman. Now there were reports he would have to sign a Russian player, although I don't think that has happened. If it had I think it would have undermined his authority on his team. To stay competitive the team must remain uninfluenced by the board. The players need to know who their boss is. At Utd Ferguson is the boss, and the moment he is not would be the day he leaves. The Glazers know they know nothing about football so they leave that well alone, and are shrewd business men.
    So Ferguson is in the better position, with more ridiculously more experience in the competitions he's entering than Scolari.
    As I have said Chelsea's success will all boil down to him (no-brainer?)!
    And for the Chelsea fans on here arguing that they were equal to / better than Utd last season this bits for you. You completely out played us at the bridge. Our performance was poor and was well restricted by you. But in the CL final we were dominant in the first half. Then we got sloppy and let our technical game slip in the second. Unlucky Terry slipped? Unlucky that Edwin slipped and a lucky deflection went to Lampard. There are plenty of lucky events in football. You capitilised on yours, as did we. Just happened ours was at a luckier time! And throughout the season Utd were more consistent with far more stunning performances (expect the same again). Arsenal also played lovely football, but were slightly outplayed by Utd in both league matches (and didn't even bother turning up in the FA Cup. Shame because that was set up to be a corker of match!). What worked for Chelsea is that they re-built team spirit very quickly after Jose. They got on with the job. They need that again to challenge.
    Liverpool will certainly have that, and arguably they have a better team than Chelsea, not man for man, but as a unit.

    Arsenal's youth have to step up and be consistent, but with Wenger you'd expect them to.
    And Utd have to get the balance between using the 'retiring players' of Scholes, Giggs, Van der Sar and Neville, with the new boys of Nani, Anderson, and Foster. So they're should be a slight improvement from Utd this season as the 'retiring players' won't change much, but the youth should. And even though Cristiano will miss the start of the season (he did that last season and Utd missed him then), Park will have his chance to show his qualities there.
    Chelsea will stay similar to last season. So they will be in the hunt, but they do need to look towards building their next team.
    Liverpool should be greatly improved (painful to write that!). They have got the quality players and once they work consistently as a team they will be a bigger force.

    So I'd say this is my order for these 4 as I see it now. Starting with who will finish lowest :
    Arsenal: Although they will continue improving over the next few seasons and will become strong challengers
    Chelsea: A blip could happen that costs them due to the Russian, or they could draw too many matches. I honestly think the latter will happen
    Liverpool: Will have their best season for years. Their team will click even with Rafa's rotation policy.
    Manchester Utd: Ronaldo will not score 40+, but will still be as influential. Tevez will still be as tireless and Rooney will finally make the step-up. The mid-field will be bossed by Scholes, with Hargraeves tidying up. Nani will start a lot more than Giggs. And defensively Utd have no problems. If Gary can't make it back Brown has shown himself to be a good player (now with 2 CL medals!) and Simpson could also slide in there. Van der Sar still shows no signs of his age getting to him. Indeed it seems to be making him better. But if it does Utd have to keepers that have a proven Premiership tack record. Its the depth of the squad that will win it for them again.

    Utd are the team to beat. As Champions it should be as such. But it will be much closer this season. 5 points to separate the top 5 (How good would that be?). I expect either Man City or Tottenham to be in there.

    So heres my Prem run down from top to bottom.
    1. Manchester United
    ------------------------------------------------------
    2. Liverpool
    3. Chelsea
    4. Tottenham
    ------------------------------------------------------
    5. Arsenal
    ------------------------------------------------------
    6. Man City
    7. Portsmouth (Crouch Top Prem Scorer!)
    8. Aston Villa
    9. Sunderland
    10. Everton (Sorry guys! Just think you'll --------------------------------------be unlucky)
    11. Blackburn
    12. West Ham
    13. Middlesbrough
    14. Fulham
    15. Hull (Windass to do a Sheringham!)
    16. Wigan
    17. Bolton
    ------------------------------------------------------
    18. Newcastle (You're not a top club. You are suffering from Sheff Weds syndrome who also thought they were amongst the best. Bye bye)
    19. Stoke
    20. West Brom

    The top 8 will be close. So will the bottom 9. Heres to the what I reckon will be the revival of the EPL.

    So that is my true opinion. And for the future I think Chelsea will fall away, and Arsenal and Liverpool will take over. With Utd it depends on when Fergie leaves and who replaces him.

    And the mind games haven't started yet between Utd and Chelsea! That one was for Arsenal and Liverpool.

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  • 193. At 00:31am on 24 Jul 2008, redsun1 wrote:

    Its all mind games I am sure Big Phil will have his say at some point, as for being to old well who knows and does anybody care!!! bring on the new season thats what I say....

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  • 194. At 00:38am on 24 Jul 2008, smithy144 wrote:

    i dont know why mc nulty is still employed by the bbc he doesnt talk any sense at all! i think fergie is spot on although i think that chelsea will pose a threat this year but not as much as last year! with ballack and deco in the centre they will be a match for any premier league side but still we have younger players such as anderson, nani, rooney, tevez, ronaldo etc who are going to get better and better whereas ballack, drogba, lampard, terry and deco arent! thats all fergie was saying! that their going to be the same strength as last year whereas were going to improve!

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  • 195. At 00:49am on 24 Jul 2008, MarylandRed wrote:

    Can someone remind Fergie his pal, Mourinho, left Chelsea nearly a year ago and Signor Scolari may not be such a numpty as to fall for his provocations. Leave alone Chelsea players, Fergie is getting on himself.

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  • 196. At 01:01am on 24 Jul 2008, tempestteacup wrote:

    It seems to me that the public and media's near-obsession with psychological 'mind-games' in football, and especially those practiced by SAF, is growing to the point when it really is a load of absolute tosh.

    In this case, all it refers to is a candid assessment - right or wrong doesn't matter - by SAF of Chelsea's chances for the coming season. Not particularly complimentary, but then you wouldn't expect it to be, would you, and highly doubtful to have been something he stayed up all night preparing.

    Ever since Kevin Keegan's 'love it' meltdown on TV, the idea that SAF, and to a lesser extent Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho etc., is some kind of psycho-tactical svengali with the ability to push the resolve of even the stoutest manager (or Kevin Keegan) has taken grip on the public consciousness. But if you recall that all Fergie actually said was that teams tried harder to beat United, and that Newcastle's lead at the top of the table was going west anyway, surely it is more likely that Keegan's rant had more to do with the immense pressure he was under anyway? Instead, though, it has passed into myth that Fergie was responsible and since then anything but the most anodyne public statement made by him or others is understood in terms of some vague idea about mind-games. Fun, perhaps, but tosh nonetheless.

    Managers might make public statements to instill team spirit, gee-up their players, deflect criticism from them, or themselves, or whatever, but the idea that any of them believe any others are going to crumble just because they make a few critical comments about their team is ludicrous.

    At their best, managers are a bunch of weirdos with the tics and eccentricities that help them deal with the pressures of toeing the line for their team. And while it may not be the most annoying part of football and its coverage, I do reckon that celebrating those eccentricities rather than lazily attributing every outspoken utterance to some nebulous mental battle supposedly going on would make the whole thing a bit more enriching.

    So there.

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  • 197. At 01:38am on 24 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    Facebookgod, going on and on about how everything Utd was only positive and could only improve and everything Chelsea was negative and could only get worse, you are not too bright.

    You have let your bias make you look like a fool.

    Glaziers are astute businessmen? And Roman isn't?
    Mind you, I suppose they must be quite cute to have bought Utd by placing the whole ever growing debt on the club and not themselves.

    Why is it only Utd players can improve? And how old do you think JT is that he can only get worse?

    As for Ronaldo, he is apparently so professional that even if he doesn't get the move he wants he will give 100% next season. Why won't Lampard? I believe Lampard is with his team-mates as we type. Where's Ronaldo?

    Big Phil has no experience of playing for these trophies? Didn't seem to cause Jose any problems from what I remember.

    Why do the other 3 have stronger team morale? What do you base this on? Arsenal's players don't seem too happy, either wanting to leave or making huge salary claims. Still, I'm sure their Captain can keep the team spirit high. Liverpool I don't know about. They have more trouble with team spirit between their owners. Utd should have a great spirit apart from their best player desperate to go. Chelsea have the usual one or two eyeing up moves that we get every season.

    Why do you only claim Chelsea could have a blip? Is it not possible in your strange mind for this to happen to anybody else?

    Now I am obviously biased towards my club but no-where as much as you. You are an embarrassment.

    Who knows just what the new season holds but you don't have Ronaldo for at least 2 months and that's if he stays. You've also lost your assistant manager who seems to have been highly rated and respected by the staff.

    Like I said previously, Utd worked their socks off and played out of their skins to win the Prem on the last day and the Champs league by the skin of their teeth.

    In my biased view Chelsea looked to be going through the motions for a clueless manager and they have a whole lot more to give.

    Fergie is right to be worried.

    He should have retired after the Champs league final and he could have gone out winning.

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  • 198. At 03:49am on 24 Jul 2008, georgiewusbest wrote:

    Man U are the side to beat-with or without Ronaldo
    preamble to the new season has begun-great stuff

    the rest of the EPL will need to do their best

    Who is Scolari in EPL anyway and Chelsea have another handicap-the owner picks the team-
    Shevchenco - where is he again??

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  • 199. At 05:23am on 24 Jul 2008, War Baby wrote:

    .
    "SCOLARI WILL IGNORE MIND GAMES" screams the headline.
    .
    If only the boring media would do the same ! !
    .

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  • 200. At 06:09am on 24 Jul 2008, Wilbwan wrote:

    I am sure Ferguson is worried for his age, and not the age of Chelsea players. The team is almost the same to the one that took him to the wire in theChampions League and Premiership last year. Have the players aged just after some months? Felipe please talk to Cristiano to go to Real. Ferguson has just proviked you. I like it that you didnt hit back. You are not Jose' of course.

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  • 201. At 06:23am on 24 Jul 2008, willythewriter wrote:

    With so much attacking talent in the offing, and so costly, is Ferguson planning to unload anybody, say that "Wayne in the butt", Rooney. I can see Wayne becoming a second Paul Gallagher; lots of talent but not too bright, and with minimal self knowledge.

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  • 202. At 08:03am on 24 Jul 2008, Blueoverthemoon wrote:

    I think Scolari has given Sir Alex Ferguson's remarks the best response possible. He has completely ignored it . If Sir Alex wants to play mind games he will have to be a bit less obvious than this as I'm sure Scolari has been round the block and dealt with this sort of stuff as a matter of routine.

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  • 203. At 08:53am on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    I think it's hilarious that Chelsea fans are calling Man U fans biased because they say all is smelling of roses and that Man U are the favourites.

    I am not a Man U fan - quite the opposite. And let me say this once and for all:

    All at Old Trafford is smelling of roses, and Man U are the clear, overwhelming favourites for the title. That doesn't mean they will win it. But they are a mile ahead.

    Arsenal and Liverpool are the main challengers because they have the most stability and proven managers. Chelsea are a huge question mark right now whether you like it or not. They could turn out to be world-beaters but I think the odds of that are very low. Any team can have a blip but to say that Man U are anything other than far-and-away favourites to take the title, is bias of the highest order.

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  • 204. At 09:07am on 24 Jul 2008, eggman84uk wrote:

    Sorry for bringing this up again, but how much of our money are you paid for writing this drivel, Phil?
    We all know Fergie likes the old 'obvious psychological warfare'. Probably it's more a case of it's much easier for him to talk about other teams than his own. You offer no personal opinion or insight, just a very long-winded and pointless article referencing a few players, who you conclude may or may not be past their best.
    On another note, when will everyone stop talking about how close Chelsea were to winning the Champions League?? They were hammered in the first half, it could have been 3 or 4 by half time... and that plonker Terry only got his chance because the winker was a cocky prat taking his penalty!

    Sick of (little) Phil, Sick of Chelsea

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  • 205. At 09:17am on 24 Jul 2008, MDWolf wrote:

    McNulty must be full of glee that the new season approaches and his desparation to TRY (and I emphasise the word 'TRY') to belittle United and SAF can continue.

    I can't believe a proportion of my licence fee goes towards your wages.

    tempestteacup had it spot on earlier in his post - it is crackpot journalists such as yourself that overstate and blow out of proportion anything that SAF, or other managers say and do - not the managers/players/fans themselves.

    It seems that with 'journalists' (again, used loosely) like McNulty around, that managers cannot win. Ferguson was asked for an opinion - he gave it - it doesn't matter if it was brash or harsh, it was his opinion he was asked for, and his opinion that he gave.

    If he had refused to give an opinion you'd have still somehow twisted the story to have a dig with a crappy headline such as 'Scolari frightens SAF into silence.'

    Either stop writing rubbish, or ship out McNulty! I'm tired of your biased drivel.

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  • 206. At 09:17am on 24 Jul 2008, Chezdon wrote:

    Eggman - Chelsea hit the post, once or twice I can't remember. Terry had a chance to win it. They did come close you can't deny that.

    What are you paid to do that's so useful then?

    Arsenal don't stand a chance this year with their thin squad; Liverpool will blow it as usual so it'll be down to the "Big 2" again!

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  • 207. At 09:21am on 24 Jul 2008, MDWolf wrote:

    Chelsea hardly have the history to be called one of the 'Big 2'.

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  • 208. At 09:23am on 24 Jul 2008, rchrdav wrote:

    #157 Chelsea have the best defence? That would mean they conceded the fewest goals last season then wouldnt it? Actually that statistic goes to Manchester United making Uniteds the best defence.
    #158 No Way No How would Carragher replace either Rio or JT he is simply not good enough and never has been. As for Mascherano and Alonso both are good players but neother would get onto Chelsea or Man Utd squads. The only player that would get into eithers first team is Torres.

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  • 209. At 09:27am on 24 Jul 2008, MDWolf wrote:

    or Gerrard! I rate Gerrard over Lampard anyday - and he'd also be an excellent replacement for Scholes.

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  • 210. At 09:28am on 24 Jul 2008, eggman84uk wrote:

    Why is it important that you know what I do that you think must be 'so important'? . I'm a teacher, since you asked. Not saying that's a good or a bad thing, but my wages reflect my ability to do my job, and if I was c**p at it, I'd be sacked. Very few people who comment on these articles by Mr McN. seem to say, "Well done, keep up the good work", things of that nature. Just saying that Phil's not very good at his job, and I don't think I'm in the minority. As for Chelsea, they hit the woodwork twice during a good spell in the second half , as I remember. It wasn't a heroic defeat, they were just second best, and had Ronaldo Rooney Carrick and Tevez to thank for not being humiliated. Just because Big JT cried doesn't mean we should think they deserved to win

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  • 211. At 09:35am on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    #208 - your opinions are obviously biased about the other players (Carragher, Mascherano, Alonso), but you're entitled to them and they could be argued, loosely, I suppose.

    However, when you just said Torres was the only Pool player that would start for Chelsea or Man U, you lost all credibility. Gerrard would walk onto any 11 on the planet, everyone knows it. Some rate him the best midfielder the Prem has ever seen. Chelsea were willing to pay a King's Road Ransom to get him to be a blue, but his heart was Scouse and that was that. Lampard and Scholes or Carrick and Deco if you prefer, are a poor man's Steven Gerrard. He is the complete player. Torres and Gerrard not only would start for Chelsea or Man U - they would be 2 of the top 3 players on either team. And that is saying quite something, if you look at those two teams. Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Michael Essien are of the same astronomical standard as Gerrard and Torres. And the chemistry between them is scary.

    Like I said, leaving out Gerrard is a severe dent to your credibility. The others are a matter of opinion. Saying Gerrard wouldn't walk on to Man U or Chelsea is a bit like saying Sir Alex Ferguson is a flash in the pan... lunacy. :)

    Fox

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  • 212. At 09:38am on 24 Jul 2008, eggman84uk wrote:

    Fox,

    Congratulations :)
    That's obviously a wind-up

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  • 213. At 09:40am on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    PS, I'm with you there, about Phil. When several of us comment-submitters can write better football punditry than the paid professional, maybe it's time for him to move on to Darts or Bowls or making the tea for the real writers. We'll do it for free - or for very little. :)

    So by Xmas, maybe two Phils will be out of a job. If enough people respond to say that he's wasting our time with pathetic sensationalism nothing-journalism that makes us queasy, then he'll either have to focus on some real issues and put some real thought into it, or find something else to do. Big Phil, by the way, will be unfortunate to lose his job, because he never should have been given it anyway. Little Phil, on the other hand, has a job most of us would dream about, and can't even come up with something original or with any substance.

    Having said that, if the point was to generate a massive discussion, well, I guess he did his job.

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  • 214. At 09:44am on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    Eggman, I don't think he was winding me up. I don't really care if people genuinely think Gerrard wouldn't walk onto Man U or Chelsea. But he was being serious, doubting the credentials of Liverpool's other star players, mentioning the "big 2" of Gerrard and Torres, and then saying only Torres would actually make the 11 of last year's top 2. There wasn't anything in there to suggest that he was messing around. It should be a wind up, but believe it or not, there are still people who don't rate Gerrard as the creme de la creme.

    Fox

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  • 215. At 09:45am on 24 Jul 2008, northernblue wrote:

    I write as a Chelsea fan.

    In some ways SAF is right: Deco, Drogba, Lampard and Ballack - the attacking impetus of the side - are all over 30. However, I don't think CFC need to show "outstanding" progress to topple Utd next season. Well, firstly the margin between the teams is 3 points and a lick of paint, so we don't need "outstanding" progress to overtake Utd. We need small improvement in one or more of three areas:

    1. Guess how many games JT and Carvalho started together during the first 40 games of last season? 20? 15? 10? No, the answer is 2. Now centre backs get injured and suspended, but if these two can start together for 30 out of 40 games at the start of the season, we will see CFC improve.

    2. Closing out games. We conceded 5 last minute equalisers last season (Everton, Villa, Spurs, Wigan, Bolton) and so lost 10 points. Now this sort of thing happens and next season we will lose games we should have won, etc, but if we can improve our ability to close out games we will win more points.

    3. Stable leadership - we lost it in October. The FAPL results over Jose's last 2 games and Grant's first 2 went LDLD as a result of Jose slowing down and Grant getting up to speed. A further 10 points dropped. A more stable managerial set up next year should see an improvement here.

    So, far from having reached what SAF calls a "plateau", I think we can make significant gains in points by a few slight improvements. If any team has plateaud, it is United (admittedly it is avery high plateau!):

    1. Can Ronaldao get any better? Whereas part of his wanting away is due to the fact that he is a prima donna, deep down I think part of it is due to the fact he wonders how he could possibly improve upon last season's form and rewards. Perhaps he feels it can't get any better for him at Utd and he needs to move on. Furthermore, will his antics have negative reverberations with his team mates, management and fans?

    2. Querez (spelt wrong, I know) has gone and that will have some after effects.

    All in all, I think CFC can easily improve by a few points given what I have said above and I think United can slip by a few points. Roll on August!

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  • 216. At 09:47am on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    And I guess I have to add, I hate to say it, but as an unbiased observer, I thought Chelsea deserved to win the Champions League final by a stretch, and were desperately unlucky. And believe me, for me to be rooting for Chelski on penalties was bizarre even to me, but it reflected how unlucky they had been not to win in regular time. Regardless, history will say Man U were the champions, but had Kalou stepped up instead of Terry, well, the story would have ended quite differently. And Grant would still have been sacked, which was pathetic.

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  • 217. At 09:48am on 24 Jul 2008, eggman84uk wrote:

    You know sometimes you can read something and think to yourself "I hadn't thought of that, very good point, well-made" etc etc. That never happens. Except sometimes from the people who comment on the articles. Rubbish at his job though he may be, a lot of people do seem to read this articles, whether it be because they enjoy them, want to riducule/complain about them, the boss isn't looking... who knows.

    If Phil's job description says 'get as many people commenting on your articles as possible', then he is indeed playing mind games with us all, subtly steering us away from moaning about his rubbishness, and steering us towards the Lampard vs Gerrard *yawn* debate... (see comment 209)

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  • 218. At 09:55am on 24 Jul 2008, Chezdon wrote:

    Why can't you copy and paste? Useless website. I asked because I wanted to know what made you so high and mighty. I feel sorry for the children that have had the misfortune to have been taught by you, Eggman.

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  • 219. At 10:03am on 24 Jul 2008, eggman84uk wrote:

    And what do you do, that makes you even higher and mightier than me?

    Just out of interest, do you agree or disagree with me about the quality of Phil's article?

    If you disagree, please explain :)

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  • 220. At 10:04am on 24 Jul 2008, eggman84uk wrote:

    ps if you don't know how to copy and paste... there's no hope for you, son

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  • 221. At 10:15am on 24 Jul 2008, wilfbroady wrote:

    Usual Ferguson talk of course at the start of the season - on the subject of age , nobody seems to have noticed that he (b1941) is 7 years old than Scolari (b1948)!!!

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  • 222. At 10:18am on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    Gerrard - Lampard is a yawn. I'm ashamed that my countrymen ever partook in such a debate. But my countrymen also doubted the passion and commitment of David Beckham. And also lobbied for Sven to leave after 2 penalty exits to Portugal and an unlucky loss to Brazil all in Quarter Finals. So we could get McLaren. Great choice, England fans. The only bunch that have less of a clue about the England team than the F.A. are England fans, collectively. Pathetic. I count myself among them, but having to hear Sven and Becks taking all that abuse when they were doing a good job, and now look where we ended up without them - it's ironic and makes absolute sense to me.

    But yeah, maybe Little Phil is doing exactly what he is diatribing about SAF doing - saying things that he doesn't even give a toss about, just to provoke a reaction. Maybe we're supposed to detest him. Maybe that's how he's "controversial." Rather than making an outlandish claim and backing it up, he's basically The Sun. All sensationalism and no substance. But that kind of reporting rules the world these days.

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  • 223. At 10:19am on 24 Jul 2008, MDWolf wrote:

    politeNorthernblue - you're right - perhaps it was only 3 points and a lick of paint. And perhaps Chelsea do only need to improve a little to overcome that....

    ..... but I think the whole point of SAF's argument, which seems to have been missed, is that no matter how much Chelsea improve, he believes United will be able to surpass that improvement - got to say that I agree!

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  • 224. At 10:25am on 24 Jul 2008, stevenicolsleftpeg wrote:

    "67. At 2:25pm on 23 Jul 2008, azeb-manutd wrote:
    To thelovelyhotspot:

    While you may be right in saying that the big 4 lack ethics, you must take into consideration why...

    It is also true that they do have a habit of buying everybody else's best players instead of creating there own, but there are two sides to this story:"


    I would imagine the second side to this story was the ridiculous transfer fees that Liverpool paid for Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard? Not to mention Fowler, McManaman and Owen. I hate Utd as much as any Liverpool fan but they produce plenty of players through their youth system which cannot be said of Chelsea who have produced maybe one good player in the last 15 years.

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  • 225. At 10:28am on 24 Jul 2008, northernblue wrote:

    MDWolf359 - understand what you are saying, but really? I know United were sometimes not as good as they were made out to be (Boro, Blackburn, WHUFC) and were running out of steam at the end. But how do they improve on 40 goals from Ronnie and c20 a piece from Rooney and Tevez? Not, I wager, by buying Berbatov and ruining the mix. How do they improve on only conceding 22 (?) FAPL goals? Chelsea were performed at 80% last season, Utd at 95% - we have plenty more gas in the tank, I don't think Utd have.

    Another point on improvement - last summer we got Sidwell and Ben Haim, so far
    this summer it's Bosingwa (OK, already injured!) and Deco...

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  • 226. At 10:31am on 24 Jul 2008, mr_big_nose wrote:

    firstly, a good article, agree that SAF's comments on Chelsea are there to rile Scolari before the prem starts (excellent pre-season banter). However his comments do ring true in some respects. Chelsea could even win the coming season but you have to look at sustainable success. Chelsea will never be able to mould into a consistent power with the ridiculous turnover of managers and players they have at the club. I think Ferguson knows this, if Scolari doesnt get instant silverware, he'll be sacked and his players probably sold... back to square 1. meanwhile Man u will be getting stonger and stronger.

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  • 227. At 10:35am on 24 Jul 2008, stevenicolsleftpeg wrote:

    "208. At 09:23am on 24 Jul 2008, rchrdav wrote:
    #157 Chelsea have the best defence? That would mean they conceded the fewest goals last season then wouldnt it? Actually that statistic goes to Manchester United making Uniteds the best defence.
    #158 No Way No How would Carragher replace either Rio or JT he is simply not good enough and never has been. As for Mascherano and Alonso both are good players but neother would get onto Chelsea or Man Utd squads. The only player that would get into eithers first team is Torres. "

    Now i may be wrong but didn't SAF try to sign Mascherano the summer he went to West Ham and for Gerrard being such a poor player you would have to question SAF's judgment as he has tried to sign him twice. Probably would've ended up another Djemba djemba obviously.

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  • 228. At 10:39am on 24 Jul 2008, bluewinall wrote:

    Fergie cannot distablise Big Phil. His jibes will backfire in the same way thye did in 2004 with Jose

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  • 229. At 10:53am on 24 Jul 2008, MDWolf wrote:

    politeNorthernblue - my intent was not to argue the point - simply to re-iterate it.

    However, overall I believe United have more stability than Chelsea. How many players have been lured to Chelsea by huge wage packets over the last few years and then left within a couple of seasons because they aren't getting a game or not getting on with the manager/players/setup? How many managers are turfed out because they didn't have instant success? More stability equals a greater foundation for potential improvement in my book.

    Add to that the statistic of pulling through home-grown players. Over the last 3 decade, the 2 most successful clubs, Liverpool and United, have been the ones who have most successfully pulled through home-grown players - this again adds to the stability.

    Do United need to improve on conceding less goals than anyone else? Not particularly. As for Rooney - he could easily improve upon his goal tally by being played more consistently in his preferred role - a fact which SAF has admitted he got wrong by sacrificing Rooney for the team.

    What Mr Abramovich and Chelsea do not seem to realise is that although you may be able to buy some initial success with a hefty bank account and stupid wages - it is ultimately self defeating - especially when you have players demanding to be the highest paid at the club. You cannot maintain that success if your team does not have stability.

    Don't get me wrong - Chelsea ARE a good team - but football's a funny old game, as they say - and no matter how rich you are, you cannot expect to buy instant success and then maintain it by simply throwing money at it or changing your manager because he doesn't produce a trophy with the money you gave him - it doesn't work like that - and SAF himself is the proof - what did he achieve in his first few years at United? Nothing! Would United have achieved the success they have over the last 16 years if he had been sacked. More than likely not.

    Personally, I think the stability has been gone ever since Ranieri was replaced by Mourhino. Don't get me wrong (again) - I thought Jose was (and still is) a class act - but Ranieri built the solid foundation of that team that went on to be successful under Mourhino.

    Until Chelsea achieve the stability and foundation that clubs such as United, Liverpool and Arsenal have achieved, then they will always remain a 'good team' and will never be 'great' - and the sooner Roman Abramovich realises that throwing money at it and turning over managers/players on a seasonal basis is not teh solution, the sooner Chelsea will be able to achieve that status.

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  • 230. At 11:17am on 24 Jul 2008, northernblue wrote:

    229 - Good points and well made. And we've got no class, let's not forget!

    You CAN buy instant success - look at our trophy haul over the last few years, but your points on sustainability are very valid.

    However, I think it's looking at the world through rose tinted glasses to say the most succesful clubs have brought players through the ranks.

    Liverpool were the CFC of their day. Look at the spines of those teams - Hughes/Hansen, Lawro, Souness, McDermott Dalglish/Keegan, Rush/Toshack - all bought at hefty prices for the time. Then you have the Hansen, McMahon, Barnes, Beardsley team - all bought. Indeed, with the likes of McDermott, McMahon, Rush, Aldridge - you could accuse them of not nurturing local talent, but actually letting it slip away from them and that that talent was nurtured elsewhere. It is a complete myth to say LFC built their success on bringing players through - in the days when an international transfer meant Dalglish from Celtic, Liverpool were paying record sums for proven talent and were hugely acquisitive in picking off the cream of talent from sides who had brought players on(John Wark, David Johnson from that talented Ipswich side being great examples). It's all part of Scouse mythology!

    Granted, United had that golden team era of Scholes, Giggs et al, and credit to them for that. But what's the record like since then? No better than Chelsea's - shelling out £20M on a teeneager here and there.
    Tell me one United player to have come through the anks since Wes Brown some 8-9 yrs ago?

    Good run in the Youth Cup by CFC last year...

    You are dead right on managerial T/O, however. It's of Man Cityesque proportions.

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  • 231. At 11:30am on 24 Jul 2008, T J Newton wrote:

    Fox, you again state Utd are miles ahead. How so? What has happened in the close season to make them more than the small amount ahead they were at the end of the season?

    Would it be Chelsea getting a proper manager? Who is proven. You don't have to manage in the Prem to be proven, ask Jose.

    Would it be Chelsea strengthening their squad with a couple of quality players? Especially at right back where we have been so badly lacking in the previous couple of seasons.

    Would it be Utd's highly respected assistant manager leaving them?

    Would it be their finest player by a mile desperate to leave and injured for at least 2 months at the start of next season?

    Please let me know.

    As for Arsenal having a more stable team, how so? The players that haven't left seem to be looking for ways out and they have admitted they are now a selling club. They also have a nutbag as captain which can't help.

    If you think the odds are very low of Chelsea's success you must know more than the bookies cos they don't seem to think so.

    You really are a clown of the highest order.

    Now I must be getting myself ready as I'm off on holiday today.

    I would say it's been interesting but to be honest blogs like this just remind me how dull and biased most fans on these sites are.

    Have a lovely couple of weeks, all. I will.

    Liverpools owners are at each others throats, which is understandable with the credit crunch making things tight for them.

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  • 232. At 11:33am on 24 Jul 2008, RHINO44 wrote:

    Average age of 28?

    Ignore Van Der Sar - he is a goalie.

    Brown, Ferdinand, Ferdinand, Evra, Nani, Anderson, Carrick/Hargreaves/Scholes, Ronaldo, Rooney, Tevez

    Any combination of this team comes out well below 28. In fact 24.8 years (with Scholes it comes out at 25.2 years).

    Where do you get your info from?

    With regards to Chelsea, I can tell you that they will be no better. In 26 years, Scolari has managed the following clubs and countries:

    Juventude
    Brasil de Pelotas
    Al-Shabab
    Brasil de Pelotas
    Juventude
    Grêmio
    Goiás
    Al Qadisiya
    Kuwait
    Criciúma
    Al-Ahli
    Al Qadisiya
    Grêmio
    Júbilo Iwata
    Palmeiras
    Cruzeiro
    Brazil
    Portugal
    Chelsea F.C.

    19 clubs in 26 years - and apart from the national teams, can anyone tell me exactly what the others have done on the world stage? The Brazilian league is filled with players that Europe doesn't want or players that need 100 degree weather in order to look any good. You notice Kleberson is a star out there.

    Complete joke and Scolari will see Chelsea finish 3rd and be gone in 1.36 years - the average length of time he spends at a team and if you take away the national sides, he lasts approximately 1.17 years - how can that possibly compete with Wenger and Fergie having invested in their teams over the past 20 years?

    Chelsea's first team of (again outfield players only): Bosingwa, Terry, Carvalho, Cole, Essien, Lampard, Deco/Joe Cole/, Ballack, Drogba, Anelka

    Does indeed come out at 28.5 years (28 with Joe Cole.

    This is ridiculous journalism built on lies and with an obvious bias. Why has nobody written about Scolari's job hopping - I am certain that if I went for a job with a CV like his, I would be laughed out the building!

    Get it right and make it accurate, rather than stoke fires.

    I also hate the "Chelsea were only a width of a post..............." rubbish that comes out. There was a penalty shoot-out and Man Utd scored more penalties. Therefore they are European Champions - that's it.

    Otherwise, why not also state that Man Utd were a width of a post from winning the league by 4 points, had one of their 30 shots against Blackburn gone in. Bad shooting is bad shooting and you win nothing with it.





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  • 233. At 11:34am on 24 Jul 2008, RHINO44 wrote:

    I meant Ferdinand, Vidic - no wonder I didn't become a journo!!

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  • 234. At 11:48am on 24 Jul 2008, jsfain wrote:

    Ferguson is a dope, time to retire.

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  • 235. At 11:57am on 24 Jul 2008, Bishop007 wrote:

    Well, well, well, sir fergie should look before he leaps. Chelsea is not ageing cos they just have 7 players that are in their thirties in a team of about 25, where as man utd has like 5 or 6 players in their mid thirties in a squad of 18 or 20. so who's ageing??? look at inter and AC milan then u'll be looking at an ageing team. not chelsea... up blues

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  • 236. At 12:04pm on 24 Jul 2008, Only jocking wrote:

    Fergie's mind games - zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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  • 237. At 12:19pm on 24 Jul 2008, Bishop007 wrote:

    ferguson shouldnt try to be a bully. Chelsea only has 7 players in their thirties meanwhile man utd has 5 who are even older. if he says chelsea are ageing, that means in his philosophy, AC Milan are dying yet they always defeat him when they meet in the champions league. up blues..

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  • 238. At 12:42pm on 24 Jul 2008, alphaRossco wrote:

    Please your all very boring with the Fergie bashing.

    Wasn't there a VERY similar article in place when Jose came to the Bridge?

    Ferguson is ofering an opinion and one which has substance. Chelsea are once again buying in players who are past their peaks and are looking for that final golden handshake, speak to Chelsea fans and they call them "legends" in truth they are has beens.

    I'm bored of the Fegie bashing in this country. I AM NOT a Utd fan but i respect their achievments much as I do Liverpool for their reign in the 80's.

    Typical media bull always spinning it round and putting it in a negative light it's adisgrace and especially coming from some pie in the sky idot who's wages WE pay.

    SHUP UP CRITICISING and do something constructive you half wedged half brained fool.

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  • 239. At 12:42pm on 24 Jul 2008, WordsofWisdom wrote:

    For anyone interested here's a definition of mind games:
    "An act or series of acts of calculated psychological manipulation, especially in order to confuse or intimidate. Often used in the plural."

    By extension of the definition, in this context, what is said is not believed to be true (or fully true) nor is it held up as a serious opinion. It's a wind up and boy has it worked well!

    Most fans on here acknowledge this but proceed to try and refute or support the point through aimless argument and pulling up stats on players ages.

    It's tounge in cheek, classic Fergie stirring the pot as the new season approaches.
    But Sir Alex knows he has a captive and gullible audience...starting with Mr McNulty.

    Hook, line and sinker!!!!!!

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  • 240. At 1:00pm on 24 Jul 2008, stevenicolsleftpeg wrote:

    to superdad

    Liverpools owners are no longer at each others throats

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  • 241. At 1:56pm on 24 Jul 2008, Horace wrote:

    Being a supporter of the iron, i dont care for the premiership as it is a sad state of affairs, the lower leagues is where the action is.

    However can i just say from reading this blog and from meeting Man Utd fans in general, that no matter how many these Man Utd fans claim they are the greatest, in my eyes and probably the whole countries eyes, is that you will never be European royalty like Liverpool.

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  • 242. At 2:00pm on 24 Jul 2008, davthered wrote:

    a couple of points to statements made:

    1) Fergies comments are old hat - well they might be but if it isn't broke don't fix it, theres been a long line of managers wanting to copy uniteds success: keegan, wenger, houlier, mouriniho, etc etc but fergies seen them off, Scholari is just another new kid on the block who fergie will eat up and spit out.

    2) Scholari's a great manager - As a fan of brazilian football I admired the team that won the world cup when he was manager, but to be fair a team with flair, pace, power, skill and hunger that the brazilians had, not to mention top world class players eg Ronaldinho, ronaldo,rivaldo etc etc at their peak most people would have won that world cup with that team. What have Chelsea got but over rated has beens, oh and Deco!!

    3) yeah you pushed us close but we hadn't started playing till December and were well off the pace before then, I don't think that will happen this season

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  • 243. At 2:27pm on 24 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    Confidence is everything in football. I think we could all agree about that. Now, I'm not saying what Ferguson said is right or that he went about it the right way, but what is it supposed to say? "My team is not going to do that well this year. Scolari's team will be a great success and will most likely beat us this season" NO. He is backing his squad like any good manager. I see that now.

    At first i thought his remarks were childish, but what would you do? You've got to stick by your squad, make them feel that they are the best, that they are afraid of no oone. All of the clubs are top notch, thats why they compete in the best league in the world. To down any club would be synical. Ferguson can say what he wants. He has the experience and the respect from others to have his opinion not taken lightly and maybe thats why McNulty is making such a big deal about this but you know, McNulty probrably doesn't even look at this blog so why do we keep complaining about him?

    Do any of you coach or play in the premier league? i'm assuming not. So to sit here and bash on Mcnulty or bash on Sir Alex, or bash on Chelsea, your no better then the journo who wrote this article. Does anyone agree?

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  • 244. At 2:54pm on 24 Jul 2008, reasoneddebate wrote:

    Just spotted McNulty's picture on the top right. Does anyone else think he might be John Terry in a thinly-veiled disguise?

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  • 245. At 3:20pm on 24 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    He looks nothing like John Terry you mook

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  • 246. At 3:28pm on 24 Jul 2008, reasoneddebate wrote:

    No? Must just be me then.

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  • 247. At 3:43pm on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    SuperDad - I'm not going to discuss Chelsea or Man United with you, I don't like either team particularly, but Man United is miles ahead. However, while you insult the bloggers on this page and call me a clown for sharing my opinion with your barely-concealed disdain, you only make yourself look bad. Come the end of the season, some of us will be right, and some of us will be wrong, but at least most of us will be able to say that we respected each other without throwing insults around. We're such low, pathetic bloggers, boring, a waste of time, I'm sure, but at least some of us show some basic respect for each other without name-calling. Let's wait for the end of the season, or even mid-season, and let's see what you have to say then. Scolari will be out of a job and Chelsea out of Europe. And please, write off Arsenal and Liverpool at your peril. But then what would I know, I'm just a clown. I wish I could be perfect, like you.

    Rhino - No matter how good United are, and they are pretty out of this world, you will always have to live with the fact that you were outplayed in the Champions League final, and that only pure luck handed you that penalty shoot out. (a) that Terry slipped, and (b) that Terry, not Kalou, took #5. You completely manipulated the players on the field to make Man U younger and Chelsea older. Anelka in the starting 11? Please. But other than that, you're right, Scolari cannot be taken seriously as a top Premier League coach, in fact there is every reason to think his Chelsea will fail miserably. I'm not necessarily wishing for that, although I would like to see another club in the top 4. I just really, truly expect to see that happen this year. 3rd? How about, 5th?

    Fox

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  • 248. At 4:12pm on 24 Jul 2008, sunofnothing1981 wrote:

    It seems strange that McNulty is predicting Scolari will 'ignore' Sir Alex's mind games. Surely pinning his comments to the wall of Chelsea's training ground, and using his mastery of English to formulate a suitable reply would not be an ideal manner in which to ignore something?

    This article doesn't make sense Phil, how can you ignore something by answering it, and pinning it to a wall to motivate your players? Surely these actions are far from ignoring something - indeed, surely they amount to a most definite response?

    I think Sir Alex knows he's in for an interesting season - this will probably be the season Arsenal come good, and Chelsea will also be his main challengers. However SAF has a point, and you can't blame him for exaggerating it - Chelsea haven't really improved their squad atall (Deco hasn't been the same player since he left Porto, never mind last season), and they aren't getting any younger. Man U's big stars are all reaching their peak, whereas those at Chelsea have reached theirs and are now declining - the poing Ferguson makes about them having reached a plateau is the truth, for these players aren't suddenly going to move up a gear for the news season - they've already peaked, and it seems there is more talk about big players leaving Chelsea (Lampard) than arriving (will be interesting if they can get Kaka, but I can't see it happening).

    All in all, SAF seems to be talking sense, albeit in an exaggerated way - Mr McNulty, on the other hand, is not - I still can't get over you claiming Scolari will ignore SAF's comments (and even that is presumptuous, as McNulty knows Scolari about as well as I do), and then providing 2 examples of how he will react to it. Great stuff Phil.

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  • 249. At 4:31pm on 24 Jul 2008, jackiewilsonsaid wrote:

    Hee Hee,
    I'm looking forward to the next couple of years and watching Scolari unravel in front of our eyes.
    Fergie has a glint in his, he will have another notch on his belt just like all the others before.

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  • 250. At 4:50pm on 24 Jul 2008, UKrescueparty wrote:

    As a neutral this is great - when the mind games start, you know the season isn't far away and i can't wait. The premiership should be a cracker this year. To all Man u and Chelsea fans i say this.....make the most of it while you can. You've got a season left. After that, my boys (Forest) are comin for ya :-)

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  • 251. At 5:31pm on 24 Jul 2008, jcedge wrote:

    Chelsea's squad isn't old at all! An aging squad would have players over 33 in it, and Chelsea don't have any! We sold Makalele because he was getting old. It just so happens that a few of Chelsea's players have recently turned 30, but why would that mean that they are less capable of playing football than when they were 29?

    Chelsea are currently in the process of improving their youth setup, and we will start to see the product of that in a couple of years. Until then, this very able squad with some of the best and most experienced players in world football is more than capable of competing with the very best.

    I think we need an extra flair player like Robinho who can create something out of nothing much like Ronaldo does. Once we get someone like that in, we will have a team capable of winning the league. Also, hopefully we can go one better in the champions league (and not draw the final so that who takes the trophy home is decided with the lottery of penalties), because with Scolari and the extra talent we can be better than Man United, not just on par with them.

    It's going to be an interesting season, with two of the best sides in the world fighting it out again. Dream on Liverpool and Arsenal, not going to be good enough.

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  • 252. At 5:33pm on 24 Jul 2008, maldiniforzamilano wrote:

    it is funny that ferguson has a swipe at scolaris english. why does he not give us a conference in portugese. even though he is a successful manager but is still not one of the best. the fact that all he knows is "get it out wide" and defend with 10 when you play a good team (milan, barcelona, madrid) means he is not special enough to be considered up there with the big boys. (delude man utd fans will disagree unsurprisingly)
    i have never been a big fan of scolari either and i think the 2002 world cup was the worst i have ever seen (from 1990 onwards). that is not his fault of course. mourinho is a better manager than him and therefore expect this to be an easier challenge for ferguson than jose was.

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  • 253. At 5:44pm on 24 Jul 2008, maldiniforzamilano wrote:

    chelsea are currently in the process of improving their youth setup, and we will start to see the product of that in a couple of years
    ================================
    with all respect to chelseas youth product, the way the game is going (the english game especially) young superstars are considered the future (ronaldo, messi, robinho) and are bought to become key players as well as marketable players.

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  • 254. At 5:45pm on 24 Jul 2008, jcedge wrote:

    Also, as a Chelsea fan it feels pretty good that when we won the league back-to-back we completely outclassed Man United....and when United won back-to back titles we took them all the way to the wire in two competitions and were extremely unlucky. United fans can gloat all they like, and foolishly disregard Chelsea but it doesn't change reality. The very reason why you all write and say these things is that you feel threatened by Chelsea, just like Ferguson does.

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  • 255. At 5:56pm on 24 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    I honestly don't feel threatened by Chelsea this season. They're a great team but I honestly don't see them winning the league under Scolari.

    Did someone just say Forest? Do you mean, Nottingham Forest, or Forest Green Rovers F.C.?

    I know one of them used to be in the top flight, I can't remember which, because it's been so long! Either one would need more than Abramovich and Ferguson combined to break into the big 4. Maybe in about 30-40 years. Maybe.

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  • 256. At 6:20pm on 24 Jul 2008, jcedge wrote:

    I disagree entirely, I think scolari is a fantastic coach and man manager who's teams play the right kind of football. I'm looking forward to Chelsea being a bit more entertaining! I think we're in with a great chance of winning the league once again.

    Lol about forest. haha.

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  • 257. At 6:30pm on 24 Jul 2008, RHINO44 wrote:

    Re mesage 247 - how did I manipulate the starting 11s? I took out the goalies - granted, but having said that I could easily have placed Foster or Kuszcak in goal to prove my point further, bearing in mind they will be number 1 and 2 soon enough.

    If you want I can give you the Champions League teams where there was Makalele in the team - I've already accounted for Scholes.

    Mcnulty's stats include a United first team with Giggs, Scholes and probably Bobby Charlton in it - only Scholes is first team.

    Can you please tell me where I got the Chelsea starting line-up wrong - Joe Cole instead of Anelka maybe - that is it surely.That still makes them more than 28 on average.

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  • 258. At 6:35pm on 24 Jul 2008, RHINO44 wrote:

    Re message 251 - Fergie never said that Chelsea would deteriorate due to their age. He stated that he doubts that they will improve as individuals at their age - not get worse.

    His point is that he expects players like Ramsey, Fabregas, Adebayor, Rooney, Ronaldo, Tevez, Nani, Anderson etc to improve due to them not being at their peak yet.

    He never made a single derisory comment and didn't even come close to saying Chelsea would deteriorate - he said that they probably wouldn't improve. Who does at 30?

    Everyone agrees with this, surely. It isn't newsworthy - except to McNulty here!

    Headline should read: At 30, you don't improve as a footballer and your prime years are at your late 20s. Shock, horror!

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  • 259. At 7:15pm on 24 Jul 2008, bcity20 wrote:

    When Ferguson gets a new assistant things may change. For the better or for the worse, noone can tell yet. But Ferguson is the manager...he doesn't coach..he's not on the pitch during practice with the rest of the squad..querioz was basically the real coach of the squad. he took the pitch when them. I'm interested to see who the new assistant is going to be. Someone new or someone already in the system....any thoughts anyone?

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  • 260. At 9:20pm on 24 Jul 2008, memyselfandpie wrote:

    Article makes lots of assumptions and ignores the facts. Ferguson always states what he thinks at the start of the season and I can't recall him getting much wrong in recent years.

    Why ignore his observations? Why dismiss them as mind games?

    Phil talks about the average age being roughly the same: ignoring the fact that VDS is 37 and that both teams will rotate; United have a kids like Anderson and Nani that will have improved.

    Chelsea appear a bit stale in comparison, they've strengthened the RB area and bought a midfielder that adds versatility: but he's edging on being past it and his style might not fit in.

    United are likely to improve this year - as yet we don't know how far - and Chelsea cannot compete in those stakes.

    Them's the facts as Fergy and many others see them.

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  • 261. At 01:31am on 25 Jul 2008, cldntgiveatoss wrote:

    Missing the point. SAF is not a good coach. He has had good coaches at Utd when they have reaped just rewards. Unless Utd. get a good no 2 and fast SAF's poor coaching skills will once again come to the fore. Also, with the cost o fuel, will so many be able to afford the long trips to Old Trafford?

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  • 262. At 10:59am on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    ha ha ha. the season hasn't started yet and scolari is already taking his eye off the ball. so he wont rise to the bait eh phil. judging by scolari's reported comments it would appear that squeaky bum time has started early this season. the only thing big about scolari is his ego

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  • 263. At 11:04am on 25 Jul 2008, Singlesensualist wrote:

    Regardless of comments, mind games or anything else, SAF has done the whole of football a great service, and has consistently produced results, I am a lifelong Chelsea fan, having been born and bred there, but it doesn't stop Me recognising quality elsewhere. We had a very good season last time, and I feel Grant should have been give at least one more complete season in charge, but it's a new time and we have to look forward not back. We have a nucleus of a great side, Chech, Terry, Lampard and Drogba, My hope is we start developing or buying in youngsters ( preferably home grown) to learn under these maestros of their positions, and maintain a side that can't compete with the best anywhere. All SAF is doing is saying " we are the best, come and try and compete with us, if all clubs take up that gauntlet, then all football will benefit

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  • 264. At 11:29am on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    bbc sport's chief football writer? you would do well to read comment 263. it puts your childish effort to shame. is may 2008 still hurting you that badly or are you just toeing the party line. if you want to be taken seriously you should not let ferguson's dispute with the bbc to affect your judgement.

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  • 265. At 12:37pm on 25 Jul 2008, jcedge wrote:

    Re Message 258: Fergusson said that he doesn't consider Chelsea a threat this season. Given that Chelsea were United's biggest threat last season, and very nearly took both trophies from them. Surely you understand that for them to no longer be regarded as a threat implies deterioration.

    United won't be much better than last season, they haven't signed anyone so it will probably be more of the same; a very talented squad nonetheless.

    Therefore, I think that Ferguson is wrong to dismiss Chelsea. Chelsea can see more of an improvement that Manchester United, as they have a new manager with a new style; the players starting off eager to impress... therefore Chelsea will probably be starting strongly.

    Granted, players don't usually get any better at the age of 30; but how could Ballack, Lampard and Drogba possibly improve anyway? They won't, but don't need to.

    Also, I love it how people are going to the trouble of going on here to say that the BBC shouldnt be talking about this, and that it's not important. How hypocritical!!!
    It's just picking up on Fergies weak attempt at mind games, which is a perfectly valid point!!!

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  • 266. At 1:28pm on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    comment 265.
    liverpool got a new manager and they've gone backwards.
    they also brought in new players and still went backwards.
    fergie's so called weak attempt at mind games has already drawn in a twitchy response from scolari as well as plenty on here including you. but you're right, chelsea did finish behind manchester united last season, just as they will this season. the three players you state as being chelsea's cornerstone have all expessed their discontent and as such suggests that chelsea,s foundations are somewhat unstable. cheer up, second best is not bad but not good enough for your benefactor. watch out phil, roman is watching you.

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  • 267. At 1:32pm on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    and by the way, chelsea's players will soon tire of busting a gut for empty seats. the least you lot could do is turn up.

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  • 268. At 1:47pm on 25 Jul 2008, rchrdav wrote:

    #211 I have never heard anyone say that Gerrard is the best midfielder there has ever been in the premier league, I would remember laughing at them.
    Not fit to lace Keane's boots, Viera was miles better than Gerrad Scholes still is miles better.
    Yes SAF tried to buy him doesnt make him the best ever.
    If it is any consolation he wouldnt get into Chelseas team either as midfield is their main strength.
    Arsenal could probably use him to partner Fabregas though he might have to learn some positional discipline.

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  • 269. At 1:58pm on 25 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:



    Rhino, maybe I overreacted, but it just felt like you'd tipped the scales, you'd thrown Nani and Anderson on the field when they don't often start, and left Mikel and Kalou and such youngsters out of Chelsea, when they often do. And there was no mention of Neville, who is not only still United's starting right back, but their captain. And Giggsy and Scholesy play a lot. But yeah, maybe I was hard on you.

    I find myself defending Liverpool and Arsenal a lot. Who just said Liverpool have gone backwards? Each season they amass more points than the last - they are on the up. I don't see how you can view that as backwards.

    And finally, rchrdav, there are plenty of people who think Gerrard is the best midfielder the Premier League has seen. He is frequently voted into "best ever Premier League XI"s in publications and public houses alike. Keegan picked him as the best player he's ever seen in the modern game. Chelsea were going to pay 30m for him if he was willing to leave Anfield. Like I said, you may not like him, but saying he's not fit to lace Keane's boots and that Scholesy is miles better is basically like holding up a sign saying "I'm a United fan, and I hate Liverpool, and therefore I hate Gerrard, so please don't take my opinions seriously!"

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  • 270. At 2:27pm on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    benitez once substituted gerrard because the game needed brain more than passion.
    gerrard was probably the most passionate player in the prem but never the brightest. he runs a lot and kicks the ball a long way but never pulls the strings like scholes does.

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  • 271. At 2:48pm on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    liverpool goin backwards.

    benitez takes over, european champions but no threat in the league.
    next season, fa cup but no threat in the league.
    next season, well beaten finalists, no threat in the league.
    last season, nothing and still no threat in the league and their results against the teams above them were laughable.

    there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that any improvement has been made. even their own supporters have given up on the age old mantra that this is their year.

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  • 272. At 3:46pm on 25 Jul 2008, FoxElipsus wrote:

    Once again, those kinds of comments don't even need an answer. Gerrard doesn't play with his brain, and doesn't pull the strings like Scholes, you say. I'm delighted that you can see what football analysts around the world have been missing all these years when they say the exact opposite. Looking at points total at the end of a season is a good way to see if a team is progressing or not. Liverpool are getting their highest ever points tallies. They are moving forward. Will they win it, who knows. There are 3 other brilliant clubs involved.

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  • 273. At 4:07pm on 25 Jul 2008, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:

    Senhor Luis Felipe Scolari and Sir Alex Ferguson are legends in their own right. Senhor Scolari has tasted success with the national teams of Brazil and Portugal. His knowledge of the Portuguese language and culture was a plus point during his previous coaching stints. Sir Alex Ferguson has achieved much during his long tenure with the Red Devils. The two veteran football managers are good readers of the game. One has to wait and see how Senhor Luis Felipe copes with the long English football season with FA and other Cup ties, EPL and CL encounters. Over the decades Sir Alex Ferguson has shown tremendous stamina and a huge appetite for challenges. His hunger for success is phenomenal. Best of luck to the two legendary football managers.



    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

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  • 274. At 5:07pm on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    re:272
    it was gerrards own manager who suggested he plays with passion rather than brain.

    name these so called foot ball analysts and their quotes and how you know their opinions are worth more than mine. you appear to be one of those people who will accept only what suits your own opinion.

    a much better way of judging progress is by your results against the teams that are supposedly better than you.

    liverpools points totals could be as a result of the poorer teams becoming weaker as opposed to liverpool getting better.

    i can honestly say and prove that liverpools points tally from the teams that finish above them are not improving, can you prove that the teams below them are not getting weaker.

    liverpool are obviously better than the teams below them but are making no inroads on the teams above them. fact

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  • 275. At 5:13pm on 25 Jul 2008, ShortImp wrote:

    There's no denying how close it was last season, it could have so easily been Chelsea, but it wasn't, some would put that down to luck and others would say they weren't good enough, which is quite harsh, considering it went down to the last day of the season and they lost out on penalties in the Champions League.

    So this year to avoid just missing out again or losing out on 'luck', Chelsea do need to improve if they are going to be crowned champions, which is what Sir Alex Ferguson was talking about...
    He knows he has a fairly young Man United side (even if the average age disagrees) in which some players are still improving and have not reached their peak and as a team they are going to be even more formidable this season. If things had been different and it was Man United that just missed out instead, there would be obvious disappointment, but still huge optimism in the United camp, with a young talented squad that has a massive potential. And it’s easy to say now but (keeping the same team) I think I would have still backed them to win the title this time round. But they did win anyway, both the Premier League and the Champions League and some say they exceeded expectations by achieving success so early, so with United getting even better, this year the impetus and pressure will be on Chelsea to challenge for the title rather than United defend it.

    But I feel it will only be a challenge, and a slightly weaker one in terms of how many points they finish on compared to United. But I do not think Chelsea are a worse team than last year, if anything they are better having added a few more talents to the long list of world-class internationals and with the addition of a new manager that is proven and well respected throughout the footballing world, who still is likely to be looking to bring in more players. It is just difficult to see the red devils drop many points and Chelsea won’t be able to step up, and eventually keep up this year. However like always they will be up there, and it will no doubt be close for a large part of the season but United will again come out on top, for several years to come.

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  • 276. At 6:14pm on 25 Jul 2008, TAOFIKODUKOYA wrote:

    I feel Scolari shloud avoid the mind games for now and concentrate on building his team and posting an excellent performance in all competitions. We chelsea fans need that.

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  • 277. At 7:04pm on 25 Jul 2008, jcedge wrote:

    I think Chelsea will let the football do the talking. It's what they're best at, not arguing with a miserable little scot and delusional Man United fans such as U7194339.

    Come on the Blues!

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  • 278. At 8:26pm on 25 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    jcedge. if you think chelsea will let the football do the talking what are you doing on here resorting to moronic name calling. fact is, chelsea tried so hard last year and lost out to manchester united in two major competitions. no delusions there. trying so hard and losing out twice has a far more detrimental effect than trying hard and winning. you lot finished the season gutted whereas we are elated. be prepared for more misery and remember who told you. and cheer up, you will always have a chance as long as roman is renting you. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrf.

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  • 279. At 12:10pm on 26 Jul 2008, sunofnothing1981 wrote:

    RHINO44 comment 258
    Exactly right. Whatever Fergie says, those who dislike him will always attempt to twist it into something resembling the arrogance, with with MUFC are supposed to be so liberally endowed.

    The fact is that Fergie did not make any comment which abused Chelsea - he actually makes a very good point, and anyone looking at the matter objectively will be forced to agree with him. The majority of Chelsea's side have passed their peak (which is around 28 for most players; goalkeepers and defenders often last longer), while players in the united squad have yet to reach a peak - his comments are based on the fact that Chelsea appear not to have remedied this situation with any signings.

    It is therefore entirely sensible for him to suggest that Chelsea won't be any 'better', as once a player has peaked he doesn't get better - there is a few years of plateau, followed by an inevitable decline. Thuis is what is happening at Chelsea.

    Incidentally, the Chelsea supporters saying we (Man U fans) feel 'threatened' by them have got it all wrong - I actually hope they are as good this season as they were last season. I absolutely love it when there is a strong challenge, it makes the season exciting, which is surely preferable to having any challenge fizzle out at Christmas. I hope Chelsea and Arsenal will give us a good fight this season - in such circumstances I actually don't mind not winning the title - gutted, certainly, but also buzzing from having had an exciting season. This isn't arrogance, but I got sick of having no challenge, so to see a Chelsea side as excellent as they have been since the last year of Ranieri's reign fills me with excitement and expectation.

    I believe - and hope - that Arsenal also come good this season, something they have been threatening for the last 2 seasons, and something which we all know is going to happen sooner or later. Arsenal have an excellent side, and were very unlcuky with the injuries they had last season, which decimated them at an important part of the season (they were actually more than decimated, in the literal sense)- they never recovered from it. Liverpool, meanwhile, will finish 4th - if no-one challenges them in the way Everton did. Actually, they'll be lucky to finish 4th; I expected more form them in the close season, but unfortunately they haven't strengthened their squad in a way that would see them become real challengers, and I think even Liverpool fans will admit this. Ashame, as I'd love to be fighting it out with Liverpool.

    Whatever, this season will still be great - there are going to be at least 3 excellent teams fighting it out, although I suspect our biggest challengers may hail from North London.

    Looking forward to a great season whatever happens :-)

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  • 280. At 12:32pm on 26 Jul 2008, JackMcMac wrote:

    As one of the oldest managers in the league, I'm not sure why Alex Ferguson would pull this mind game out the bag. Surely he should be trying to advocate the advantages and experiences of age. I wonder how predictable and stale Ferguson's tactics will be this season -especially now the younger Queiroz has left.

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  • 281. At 1:13pm on 26 Jul 2008, Boring Boring Chelsea - only 103 GOALS wrote:

    After everything you've won last season and before, you still can't keep your precious Ronaldo, maybe he's so tired of handling the whole team while others just pick up their wages!
    anyway Chelsea have all it takes to make old Fergie shut his mouth! nuff said:)

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  • 282. At 1:16pm on 26 Jul 2008, redsinexile wrote:

    Why all the fuss? Who cares? I'm sure Chelsea don't!

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  • 283. At 1:28pm on 26 Jul 2008, The unwilling wrote:

    POOR reporting from the BBC... if they had paid ANY attention, Sir Alex merely said that a lot of Chelsea players are 30yrs old and once you hit 30, you don't expect them to improve from then on. Which is true. He said they would be a threat just as much as Arsenal and Liverpool.

    The whole comment was taken out of context by the usual tabloid papers and Phil McNulty bought into it.

    I wonder of McNulty will now admit he was fooled by paper trash-talk? The kind who's reader's average mental age is 7 years old. Congratulations to Sky Sports News for correcting the comments.

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  • 284. At 3:28pm on 26 Jul 2008, A wet windy night in Stoke wrote:

    Brazilian league is filled with players that Europe doesn't want or players that need 100 degree weather in order to look any good. You notice Kleberson is a star out there.
    ________________________________

    What a joke! I don't see Bramble or Robinson playing in the Brazilian league. Jokes a side, a fully locally based Brazillian national side would beat the A - England side 10 out of 10 times. I would put £10 on that. No need to talk down Brazillian football..

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  • 285. At 4:27pm on 26 Jul 2008, jcedge wrote:

    Hahahahaha, brilliant. Delusional AND has an anger problem.

    You obviously U7194339 doesn't realise that other people can have their own opinions.

    Be careful everyone!!! If you suggest that Chelsea (one of the best teams in the world) have the slightest chance in winning the league, you will feel the wrath of U7194339!

    It's fun winding people like you up!!! xxx

    P.S. to everyone else (on both sides), thanks for the debate... I'm off now.
    Should be an interesting season. Hope you all enjoy it.

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  • 286. At 4:56pm on 26 Jul 2008, Hughesaldinho wrote:

    McNulty again...how many times do I have to come on here and read and totally irrellevant and untrue story....I think you should do your research a little better before commenting on the Greatest British boss ever.Must be a tad embarrassing to see Fergie didnt say any of that.

    Also, anybody talking about Chelsea as the big 2 is having a laugh...they might have finished 2nd in both competitions, but they will never be as big as Liverpool or Arsenal....although if Fergie comments on either team, you can be sure that McNumpty will be talking irrelevant nonsense about it on here, so thats something to look forward to.

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  • 287. At 5:51pm on 26 Jul 2008, emsti wrote:

    I dont get why Chelsea will not let Lampard go, it will only reduce their average age.

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  • 288. At 6:39pm on 26 Jul 2008, Red_Nic wrote:

    I think the fact people are even debating such irrelevant and boring quotes or misquotes shows how sh11te a pre-season this has been.

    BUT if i was Scolari i would be focusing on bringing in younger players:

    Cech -26

    Bosingwa - 25
    Terry - 27
    Carvalho - 30
    Cole - 27

    Lampard - 30
    Ballack - 31
    Deco - 30

    Cole - 26
    Malouda -28
    Drogba - 30

    A lot of those are going to slowly deteriate physically and there isn't a great deal of signs that a lot of effort is being made to revamp that, its not far off AC Milan.

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  • 289. At 10:56pm on 26 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    chelsea = johnnycomelately's and just like jcedge, quitters. you couldn't wind your kids toys up never mind offer a justifiable opinion. even that one-armed numpty that used to follow you put up a better fight.
    feel my wrath. Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrf.
    superstars come and go but the might of manchester united continues to set the benchmark.

    watch and weep.

    and by the way, the media will run rings round scolari, they've already got one hand on his shoulder and one in his pocket. taggart will drive him to distraction by xmas, he's already reeled mcnulty in.

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  • 290. At 11:11pm on 26 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    is it true that joe coles fav song is that old george formby classic, WHEN I'M LICKING WINDOWS.

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  • 291. At 00:18am on 27 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    please be warned that although my broadband connection is futuristic, i like my football strictly 70's style.

    so come and av a go if you're bright enough.

    chelsea fans needn't bother.
    Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrf.

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  • 292. At 00:58am on 27 Jul 2008, U7194339 wrote:

    for those of you who can remember.

    wilf mcguiness. nice guy but probably headed the ball to much.

    sir matt again, god rest his soul, done it all but selfish of us to ask him to do it again.

    frank o'farrell, who?

    tommy doc, red army years but couldn't keep it in his trousers and melted in the arms of mary.

    dave sexton. keep the ball lads. ok boss but what do we do with it? i'm workin on that.

    fat ron. tactics? what tactics, just enjoy yourselves while i try and get the dugout moved to the sunny side of the pitch. oh, and stay away from them coloured guys.

    then along came taggart. gets his hands on silver more times than roy rogers.

    remember who told you.

    i'm off now, time to skin up.

    Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrf......................

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  • 293. At 2:23pm on 31 Jul 2008, bravesophia001 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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