The Red Report – Episode 8: New teams, Evans and the ill-fated World Cup bid



Welcome to the eighth issue of The Red Report, the round table discussion of all things Manchester United by your favourite United blogs: The Busby Way, Stretford-End, Bangalore To Old Trafford, ManUtd24, and Red Force Rising.

This week we welcome United Youth to the Red Report team as we take a look first at new Premier League teams, then Jonny Evans and we finish by discussing the World Cup bid results.

Since the Premier League’s induction, many teams have won promotion to the top tier of football for the first time. Out of these teams and those that were relegated but didn’t return from the 1992/93 season we all share which of the ‘new’ teams we’ve enjoyed watching or playing the most. This topic was due to be very apt since United were set to face Blackpool yesterday for the first time in the Premier League – that game will now take place at a later date.

Yolkie | Stretford-End: How can you really look past Blackpool? Blackpool are the romantics choice, surely? Like Burnley last season, only with a more effervescent manager; a little like Neil Warnock in terms of outspoken lower league managers, but infinitely more likeable. It’s nice in this era of parachute payments and identikit stadiums for some teams to buck the trend and succeed.

Blackpool are only 12 points off United after 15 games; that isn’t meant to sound patronising, it’s a huge testament to them and a poke to the eye of those who suggested they would struggle to meet Derby’s low total of 11. The reason they haven’t been humiliated is because they have a unity and a togetherness that wasn’t ruined by Holloway with the pre-season additions.

Chudi | The Busby Way: I will have to go with Derby as their games with us in 07/08 show essentially what can happen to a promoted team in the league. At Old Trafford we hammered them 4-1 but at Pride Park they dug in and could have nicked something if not for Ben Foster.

That match for me also showed the nature of Cristiano Ronaldo’s character, he tied and tried but couldn’t get anything from a resolute Derby team but when he finally did score his celebration was great, it was like he was saying try as you may, I will get you eventually!

Derby provided entertainment that season, their games tended to be high scoring affairs even if most of the goals were against them!

Doron | Stretford-End: I think my favourite of the promoted teams was Watford in 99/00. They are technically my local team so the fact I could go and watch the Treble winning side was a big factor in making them my favoured team. Other reasons include the fact that despite being utterly useless, their fans never once gave up and enjoyed every moment of the Premier League campaign; they signed Nordin Wooter; and they beat Liverpool on the opening day of that season!

I did enjoy Derby’s first season in the Premier League in 96/97 only for Paulo Wanchope’s wonder goal at Old Trafford as a total unknown player on his début. There is something very admirable and special about Blackpool this year, likewise it’s easy to forget that Fulham were a very small club when they got promoted too.

Nick | United Youth: You don’t get much more clichéd than ‘breath of fresh air’ but the promoted sides this season really have been. It’s just hugely refreshing to see teams playing for wins, playing decent football, really going for it against the elite rather than settling for trying to stifle teams and pick up draws. Admired Hull for the same reason a couple of years ago, although the Phil Brown factor ultimately eroded that admiration…

Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: My favourite team so far has to be Blackpool, there are two reasons for that. One is their boss Ian Holloway, his comments and quotes are brilliant, there must be more managers like him in the game!

The second reason is their attitude of playing attacking football, no matter the opposition, very brave for a team that just got promoted, considering they were placed 19th in League 1 5 seasons ago. With the players they had, I didn’t think they could survive, but they have shocked me and I think most of the premiership with their results! I really they stay up!

TG | ManUtd24: It has to be Derby County for all the wrong reasons. In the season of 07/08, they were relegated two months too soon, in March, picking up only one win in the season. I recall Paul Jewell had some sort of barren run where he hadn’t won a game in 27 attempts. 27! They came – and went. Hardly a whimper. They did, however, nearly pull of a shock victory over Manchester United at Pride Park. We scraped home as eventual winners in the end, but we were definitely given a run for our money. They were a laughing stock, which was why I enjoyed them so much. Come back again County, we’re all missing the great gift of three points!

Alan | RedForceRising: Over the years, there have been several newly-promoted clubs who have caught the eye. I especially like clubs who have come to make a real fist of staying/playing in the league and don’t just “park the bus” when they play away from home. However, if asked to name just one, it would have to be Middlesbrough when they re-joined the top flight in the 1995/96 season and bought a certain Brazilian by the name of Juninho. The attacking midfielder was absolutely fantastic to watch and carried his team on many occasions. The following season, Boro brought another Brazilian, Emerson, to the Riverside stadium, as well as “silverfox” Fabrizio Ravanelli, who had been a striker at Juventus!

Their final position in the league that season does not reflect it, but Boro created some really good moments of football that season.

Kyle | Stretford-End: I actually love Blackpool this season, perhaps solely because of their manager. You have to admit that Ian Holloway has personality, and that’s something the Premier League lacks. He’s not afraid to say anything and his interviews are actually worth watching. A nice change from the likes of the like of Arsene Wenger complaining at the Emirates. It’s actually more than just the manager though. Blackpool came up with Newcastle and West Brom last season, and while we were very familiar with the other two the Seasiders were something genuinely new. It’d be easy to write them off, but they’ve shocked everyone this season. Blackpool are currently 12th in the Premier League and even on points with Liverpool, who they beat earlier this season. No one gave them a chance, but they’ve come to play and I have an incredible amount of respect for that.

Some great suggestions – it seems that already Blackpool have a made a really positive impression this season.


This weeks player discussion is Jonny Evans – what’s going on and what does is future hold?

Nick | United Youth: Found myself at the centre of bit of a twit-storm regarding Jonny during the West Ham game. Defended him at half-time when I felt he was unfairly being scapegoated, and although he did his best to make me look ridiculous with his second-half showing, I stand by what I said. No issue with people criticising his performances, as it’s impossible to deny he’s massively off-form right now and his defending for the third and fourth West Ham goals on Tuesday was cataclysmically bad. My issue is and has been that too many people have been too quick to write him off after the first dodgy spell of his short career, too quick to forget how impressive he’s been in the past. He’s got a big challenge ahead to rebuild his confidence and regain the manager’s trust, but he deserves the opportunity to do so given the ability he’s previously shown. We bemoan the lack of young players coming through, so when we do get a good’un, we need to stick by them through rough and smooth. It’s rarely plain sailing, especially for young defenders, and I’m confident he’ll come out of the other side of this slump and live up to Sir Alex’s description of him as ‘the future of MUFC’.

Alan | RedForceRising: The reaction to Jonny Eavns’ poor run of form has been very strong, but nothing that has surprised me. Football fans, myself included, tend to be very fickle-minded and have selective memories. Fans are way too quick to promote players to that status of “demi God” and even quicker to reduce the same players to the levels of “useless” and “should be sold in January”. At the same time, I believe that it’s fair to give credit where credit is due and to criticize where’s it’s correct too, BUT as supporters, we should be fully behind the player to turn things around. So yes, Jonny Evans has been poor, dire and maybe even shit, recently, but he has been very good in the past two season and he has the makings of a top class defender.

It’s been quite baffling to see Jonny Evans so poor in winning his defensive duels. He’s not showing enough desire, quickness of thought or physical strength to win those little battles you have to win in the box and they have resulted in goals being conceded. However, he has been very good in the past and has been good in high-profile, high-pressure matches, so he just needs to sort himself out and the fans should be helping him do so, not asking for him to be sold.

TG | ManUtd24: I’m convinced Jonny Evans will go a long way in his career. I think it almost pathetic that fans can go out of the way and say some discouraging things about their own players. But, hey, these things happen. I wrote about Evans for the blog this week and the response was positive – on the site and especially on Twitter. Evans’ problem lies in the fact that he simply lacks confidences. Furthermore, he needs to improve his game. Aerially, he isn’t the best and is quite hesitant, not too mention that he isn’t too fond of getting ‘physical’, well from what I’ve seen anyway. But he’ll develop and improve. I have no doubt about that.

Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: Jonny has gone from Hero to zero in a matter of months, rather unfortunate, but that’s how bad his form is right now. He’s been struggling to cope with Physical opponents and is getting pushed around like a ragdoll, something that shouldn’t happen with a CB.

Having said that, it’s incredible that people are actually considering the notion that he must be sold, have they forgotten how good he was last season! Supporting him is what we should be doing, and I’m sure Jonny will comeback from this stringer than ever, and the same people will be hailing him as an excellent player!

Doron | Stretford-End: The reaction to Jonny Evans’ bad form has been ridiculous. The guy is 22 years old, has had a superb start to his career as a footballer and now is suffering his first (potentially worryingly long) dip in form. Yes, there is only so long a dip in form can be tolerated but common sense must prevail.

Centre backs not only take longer to mature and learn the position but they have different challenges from other players. Their concentration has to be much sharper and just one poor performance can really knock confidence in a much bigger way than other positions. Just because Jonny has so far done well in the first team, it doesn’t make him immune to poor form. We as the fans should be backing him and hoping he can pick himself up – rather than jumping on the media bandwagon. The abuse Jonny got from some fans was totally out of order and embarrassing.

The mark of a good player is how he picks himself up from a dip in form and confidence. The response to this challenge will say much about the future of Jonny…

Kyle | Stretford-End: There is no hiding that Jonny Evans has suffered an massive dip in form this season. This is not the same centre back who performed so admirably against the likes of Drogba in seasons past. Sadly, many fans have forgotten the performances Evans had the past two seasons and are now calling for him to be sold. His form is clearly suffering right now, but all of us have seen the talent that he has. It’s hard to remember that he is still young. At the age of 22, he has a long career ahead of him. There is no doubt that Evans played a big role in our elimination in the Carling Cup at the hands of West Ham. Fans must be more patient though. It’s sad to see so many calling for Evans be sold when we’ve seen in the past he has the ability to be a fantastic defender. Evans has struggled this season and very well may be the reason for a few unnecessary goals, but if we just stay patient he’ll rediscover his form and show us why he has a future at Old Trafford.

Chudi | The Busby Way: Jonny Evans is undoubtedly going through a rough patch but there has been a massive over reaction. He is young, couple months older than me so he has years to go and at his age consistence is a problem for many pros but some of the stuff I’ve seen said is crazy. Had a guy on my site say ‘he should go and die somewhere’, I wanted to nut the guy (through the computer screen keyboard warrior style of course!)

The problem is that he needs games to get his confidence and performances back up to scratch but do we risk this in the first team? He has accepted that he has been playing poorly so maybe a spell in the reserves could help?

Yolkie | Stretford-End: First thing’s first; Jonny is a top class defender who will go on to have a great career, of that I’m convinced. You don’t lose natural ability and he has it in abundance, however it’s been clear – painfully so – that his form is very much dependent on self confidence. In 08/09 he was part of a team that was piling clean sheets up and he took that confidence into bossing Drogba in our 3-0 win. After the criticism for his performance at Everton last season – a little unfair for one bad game, I thought – he seems to have let that get to him and brought it into this season.

It’s not helped by Smalling’s instant settling; maybe Evans would benefit from a loan spell in the second half of the season to help him re-discover his touch. I still think he has a bright future at Old Trafford because it’s not like Sir Alex doesn’t display incredible patience with players.

No one can really explain why he’s going through such a poor patch but we all want to see him pull through and come out of it. He is a talented defender, yet I think we’re all cautiously aware that this is a bit concerning.

As per usual we decided to look at a non-United topic. Quite simply, the World Cup bids for 2018 and 2022 – good, bad, fixed, corrupt…?

Chudi | The Busby Way: As United fans it’s common to see the stance United >>> England but I implore you to find a person that isn’t disappointed that we didn’t get the World Cup. I was looking forward to getting to a couple games but Russia is a def no no for me.

Qatar is a strange choice as it was named as a high-risk venue but still won but I wonder how the weather etc will affect the tournament. Air-conditioned stadiums are being touted and whilst that is the obvious answer how will it affect player performance?

In terms of the actual decision, it is a disgrace. England were clearly the best option but factors that were beyond the power of the campaign caused England to lose. David Beckham is a football superstar, add to that the Prime Minister and the future king of England and that should have pushed our bid clear so to get just 2 vote is a shambles!

Doron | Stretford-End: I personally was surprised that England lost the 2018 bid – I was even more surprised by the fact England managed only two votes. I remember Euro 1996 very well and whilst the passion for the national team seems to have waned, staging a major tournament was great fun.

Maybe England’s bid had too much of a celebrity sprinkling of stardust over it. We as a country are obsessed by ‘big names’ and celeb culture – not something FIFA were necessarily looking for. We probably just over-estimated how good the bid actually was. I’ve no doubt the media and the Panorama programme didn’t help. At times we’re our own worst enemy. Why the English media would ever publish anything that would put the bid in jeopardy is crazy – of course the reality is, like celeb culture, shocks and scandals sell.

England’s bid itself was good. The passion for football in this country is without a doubt huge. The stadiums are great and many are set to be redeveloped. It’s a shame that the heroes of 1966 will be unlikely to ever see a World Cup back in this country.

As for the winners – well the common theme is money. Both Russia and Qatar have plenty of time to make sure they put on a good tournament. Blatter has always tried to take the World Cup to new frontiers which is admirable but there is always a risk associated with that. Certainly no one wants a repeat of the dull football witnessed in South Africa this summer just gone by – even if the tournament was coordinated very well. The main concern with Qatar in 2022 is of course the heat – football in 100 degree temperatures will not be good to watch. FIFA will have a lot to answer to should these tournaments fail to live up to expectations.

Yolkie | Stretford-End: Despite the obvious hints of untowards behaviour and corruption, I kind of agree with Alex Thomas at CNN who suggested the over the top reaction to not getting it might be a bitter reaction down to xenophobia.

Do I think Russia and Qatar are the right countries to get the tournaments? No; both are ridiculously overpriced destinations for the average fan and they have climates that take in both extremes; it won’t be conducive to good football, I’m sure. Lessons should have been learned from South Africa; not that the country or continent for that matter did a bad job but the tournament was pretty poor, smacked of making a political point.

So I agree with the notion that Blatter is trying to leave behind a legacy of breaking down barriers; not in itself a bad thing but that has overtaken the desire to see a good tournament on the pitch instead of a political breakthrough off it. I’m not saying this as a disgruntled England supporter as, being honest, it didn’t really bother me that we didn’t get it. But in terms of the best infrastructure and set up, logically, I felt the England bid was the best.

Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: A very funny decision for me, I don’t know what the people at FIFA were thinking but this is a disgraceful result. The three best bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, England, Australia and U.S.A got a total of only 6 votes between them?!

Especially hard on England considering they had possibly the best bid possible, it’s sad that 22 people have the power to decide where the biggest sporting event of the world gets held, and they expect it to remain corruption free?! How could Russia win it if there was no politics involved? Only solution I think is to change the voting system, otherwise corruption will just be on the rise!

Kyle | Stretford-End: Being an American, I too was left disappointed by the chosen World Cup hosts. Last week I made it clear that I was club > country, and that is still very much the case, but I didn’t want the tournament here just for the sake of it. Another World Cup in the United States could have done incredible things for the sport. The 1994 World Cup served as a platform for soccer to grow in this country. As part of the bid the MLS was born and since then the game has steadily grown in popularity. With a good, strong fanbase already established in this country, having the 2022 World Cup would’ve been massive for the game. It would’ve escalated the popularity in this country to a whole new level, just as it did in 1994. I still questions FIFA’s decisions. From a technical standpoint England and the United States seemed the best choices, and instead Russia and Qatar were selected. It’s certainly disappointing, it’s a blow for the growth of the game in my country, but it’s time to move on. Maybe United will do their summer tour in the US for 2022…

TG | ManUtd24: Obviously I’m gutted – but I’m quite looking forward to watching Russia and Qatar host the competition. It’s always a good thing when a ‘new’ country does it, although England are long overdue holding one simply on the basis that, as Sepp Blatter says, they are the ‘motherland of football’. Franz Beckenbauer said that England can host the Cup ‘tomorrow’ if they like because they have everything; the fans, the stadia and anything else that falls in with infrastructure. Anyway, although Qatar and Russia have problems to address, I’m sure both will do a great job. Best of luck to both of them.

Alan | RedForceRising: Anybody interested in knowing more about FIFA should read the book, Foul!, by Andrew Jennings and then you won’t be surprised when the country with the best technical bid, as well as best commercial bid – England – doesn’t make it past the first round.

I’m sure Qatar will do an excellent job in terms of facilities and infrastructure, but hosting such a large event with a global audience in that region is just begging for trouble and security risks.

I’m less enthusiastic about Russia hosting the World Cup and find it difficult to accept that FIFA have awarded the World Cup to a country with notoriously racist football fans. Then again, FIFA “don’t do” racism.

Nick | United Youth: It was almost as if Blatter and co. woke up on Thursday, finally realised how untouchable they are and gave up any pretence of fair play or ethics. We all knew FIFA was corrupt as hell, but in picking Russia and Qatar, it’s almost as if they were saying ‘yep, we are corrupt as hell, what are you going to do about it?’ whilst laughing manically and racing to the nearest bank with briefcases and brown envelopes in tow.

I’m very much a club > country guy but loved the idea of having a World Cup on our doorstep. No disgrace that England didn’t win 2018 with some strong alternatives, but to only get two votes (one from our own guy, one from one of the Panorama 3 presumably trying to show it had no effect) given the obvious strength of all aspects of the bid is a farce and shows that applying in the first place was a complete waste of time, and that we’ll never host the event unless there’s massive change at the top of FIFA. The decision to award 2022 to Qatar meanwhile is breathtakingly obscene and has seriously damaged the credibility of the tournament. Might not be a popular view but I just hope the 2022 event goes tits up in a big way – it might be the only way things get changed.

What’s done is done, but even so…it’s still baffling to try and explain just why the English bid did so poorly.

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Best of the blogs:

The Busby Way | Could Barcelona Have Done That To United? I Doubt It
Stretford-End | United Poised For Huge Player Investment
ManUtd24 | In Defence of Jonny Evans
RedForceRising | Video: Goals From Welbeck and Cleverley in Loan Watch Summary
Bangalore To Old Trafford | Silver Lining To Defeat
United Youth | Loan Round-up, November 27-30

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That concludes another Red Report for the week. Hopefully this edition keeps you entertained until next Monday. We’re always open to hear from you so you can catch us on Twitter:

Follow The Busby Way
Follow Stretford-End
Follow Doron
Follow Kyle
Follow Yolkie
Follow Bangalore To Old Trafford
Follow ManUtd24
Follow RedForceRising
Follow United Youth

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But don’t forget to check out our individual sites if you think we have missed something, as it is likely at least one of us will have covered it there:

The Busby Way
Stretford-End
Bangalore To Old Trafford
ManUtd24
RedForceRising
United Youth

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