The journey started at 4.30am which is earlier than anyone should ever be made to get up at. After a quick enough flight from Manchester to Amsterdam for the connecting flight to Norway, we finally paid attention to the fact our destination airport was Sandefjord, not Oslo. It was fine, there were shuttle buses outside… but they didn’t leave for another two hours. Instead of getting a bus to a train station we just waited an hour for a £20 bus that took us straight to the city and the hour and a half journey was a good opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep.
Upon getting on the bus we learnt that Sir Alex won’t be with the team on Sunday as he has other club business to attend to. Your guess is as good as mine, although naturally all our thoughts go to Fergie hanging back in Manchester to convince Robin van Persie that we are the team for him. I read an article on the way here from an old Manchester Evening News by Stuart Brennan. The story goes that he’s a United fan, which seems very hard to believe when you read some of the stuff he comes out with. I can only assume his nonsense is a result of him swinging so far against United bias to appease the Evening Blues readers. Or he is just a blue. The headline read “Why Robin van Persie would be crazy to pick Manchester United over Manchester City”. There are arguments for and against him joining either club and most sensible fans, whether red or blue, can see these. Despite the headline, Brennan didn’t present even one reason why van Persie would be “crazy” to pick us, but claimed City were favourites.
The van Persie transfer would be a big risk for United given his injury record. Last season was the first in his career where he managed to play in more than 28 league games. That is pretty shocking. Given our financial state, you don’t want one of your top earners spending all their time in the treatment room. We saw how costly Nemanja Vidic’s absence was last season, with us eventually losing the title on goal difference, so it would be good if this season we can keep our best players fit. If he signed, van Persie would be one of our best players, without question, but will he ever recreate a season like last one? I doubt it. If there are funds available to pay a top salary, then that should go towards paying a top class midfielder, but if we do sign him, I obviously won’t be disappointed!
Tomorrow we will see Vidic back in action for the first time since December and I cannot wait. Whilst I think Jonny Evans, who is currently recovering from an operation, had a great season in Vidic’s absence, there really is no replacing the Serb. For now, he will partner Rio Ferdinand in defence, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Evans and Chris Smalling are back in contention.
I am most excited about seeing Shinji Kagawa in the flesh for the first time though. Having not spent much time watching German football, I’ve only seen bits and pieces of our new signing. He looked decent in the Far East part of the tour, with nice feet and good vision. You don’t get to be one of the best players for the German champions without having something about you.
Watching Brazil against Belarus at Old Trafford last week, I got to see the likes of Neymar, Marcelo and Oscar (and Lucas Moura for a few minutes). Neymar was a joy to watch but Chelsea have seemingly got themselves a great player there too. They’ve also added Hazard to the mix, whilst Arsenal have landed Podolski, probably Cazorla and possibly Sahin. Bringing in players like Kagawa isn’t just to try and match City’s challenge but see off the teams below us too. Let’s hope he lives up to the hype.
Off to sample what Oslo has to offer now but I will be around again tomorrow to give thoughts on the game. @r_o_m will have more regular updates.