Following his inaugural season, it seems slightly rhetorical to enquire, as Naughty by Nature did all those moons ago, who’s down with RVP? Fittingly, almost poetically (well, at least if you’re an accountant) our number 20 bags a hat-trick to secure title number 20. Forget Justin Timberlake’s recently-released musical namesake, this season at OT truly has been “The 20/20 Experience.”

Albert, in the continued absence of Fabio, please ensure that RVP switches squad number to 21, since it appears to augur well when he dons the number of the title we are pursuing. However, a word of warning; At a measly £24 million, whilst you can’t beat him for all round economy, we mustn’t grow too Reliant (on) Robin moving forward, lest the three wheels fall off.

After all, we certainly can’t be overly-dependent on young Danny when it comes to the decisive matter of filling the onion bag with genetically Nike-fied onions. Not that I complain if Welbz starts, since it constitutes one less headache when mulling over who (or rather, who not) to back as first goalscorer. And I got to thinking; If Pele was prolific on the pitch, yet used Viagra off it, conversely does Welbeck’s impotence in front of goal signify he gets a hard-on from a gust of wind? Ah well, “touch wood” he relocates his scoring boots during the summer. Perhaps he could borrow a pair off club ambassador, Mr “It’s Andrew, you know, hard to believe it’s not Andy” Cole.

Then, there’s the curious case of the right-hand side of midfield; has “That Boy” bequeathed an irreplaceable void, or even worse, a curse on the right-flank at OT? Whilst all his successors were destined to underwhelm comparatively, it appears that Ronaldo’s absence is progressively being felt in the very position he abandoned. The narcissistic bugger would have it no other way, I suppose.

Take Valencia, for example. His has proven the most baffling downturn in form. Even at the peak of his powers, he could appear rather one-dimensional, but he had mastered with aplomb that solitary dimension of beating his man on the outside and serving up a sumptuous cross. However, having seemingly lost a yard of pace, and a whole heap of confidence (oh how I’ve missed his boyish smile,) Antonio has gone from the proverbial one-trick pony to the less preferable none-trick Toni. A good night out at Panacea with the players could literally be the “cure-all” here.

Alas, the other right-wingers haven’t provided Fergie with a big enough selection headache in this berth. The Young vs Nani dilemma can be respectively encapsulated by the following; Consistently mediocre vs inconsistently majestic. Take your pick, gentlemen. I’d always opt for Luís Carlos Almeida da Cunha, but then again, Nani second to the ball by a nanosecond effectively ended our Champions League campaign. Plus, whilst Nani used to be in Ronaldo’s shadow, he now just appears to be a shadow of his former self at times. I spotted a forlorn-looking Nani exiting Rosso solo following the parade. He appears decidedly malcontent and destined to depart over the summer.

The solution; summons Zaha (could Fergie have possibly saved the best til last with this signing?) from his Palace made of Crystal, and let the brilliance which saw his coronation into the Championship Team of the Year banish the ghost of Ronaldo past. Or at least, suppress the ghost til Cristiano sees sense and strolls back to his spiritual Stretfordian sanctum. The Second Coming of C(h)rist. Which prompts the following adapted ditty; “Vuelva Ronaldo, Vuelva Ronaldo, likes Iberian ham, but not as much as Spam.”

Meanwhile, the nANDO’s love affair persists. That’s not to say Anderson’s obese. He isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, nor trouser waistband for that matter. It’s just that his penchant for Piri’d poultry seemingly continues to outweigh his propensity to shift a few spare pesos and become the player we all implore him to be. What can one say? He evidently just loves “livin’ la vida Ando.” I look forward, as I’m sure we all do, to reading the annual press release on sometime between late July and early August (you can often set your summertime clock by it) proclaiming “this is Anderson’s year,” the year he’ll finally realize his undoubted potential, by now a promise more oft-repeated and seemingly vacuous than Audley’s guarantee to become the heavyweight champ of the world.

As far as Rooney is concerned, is he still at the club? The testicles on him; he’s been distinctly lacking in form, fitness and fire all season. The former isn’t an issue, as form is temporary, but the latter two prove more problematic and indicate that it’s time for him to go. I do suspect Sir Alex’s public line that Wayne isn’t for sale might purely be a ruse to ensure that more pound notes are extracted from whichever club is willing to deal with him. After all, not many are afforded the opportunity to cross Fergie once, let alone twice.

Whilst I’m at it, it’s been decent of Patrice to humour us by sporadically indulging in a spot of defending this season for the first time since his ill-fated summer of 2010.

Back on a more positive note, Chicharito re-sent Birds Eye frozen petit pois sales soaring in Manchester once his own Eagle Eye returned inside the 18-yard box. Love that little fella. And that post-goal celebratory “C” sign he throws up is the nearest thing football has ever had to Tupac’s infamous “W” Westside gesticulation. Lil’ Pea, the goalmouth gangsta.

What’s more, the future’s bright, given the number of consistently-outstanding performers this season:

DDG is beginning to illustrate his true worth, now free from the shackles of pastry-pilfering prosecution, which was evidently weighing upon his mind, if not his slight frame. What with SAF, RVP, DDG and even old boy JSP, is there something in these trifectas of abbreviated initials?

Rafael imperious, and less impetuous, whilst still wearing his heart on his sleeve (as opposed to Suarez, who wears your arm on his teeth.) One mediocre half all season, which stood out like a sore thumb in light of his stellar form, and which he promptly overturned in the second half of the very same game, away at Madrid. I was in attendance at the Bernabéu, sipping on some rather delightful non-alcoholic Mahou, whilst explaining to a friendly Madridista how Don Ron will one day return to his spiritual home. I’d even coherently charmed* the madrileña behind the counter to charge my phone battery during the game, probably contradicting all her stereotypical perceptions of inebriated Englishmen. Right until the moment I got carried away by the enormity of the occasion and temporarily invoked the spirit of Don Juan Tenorio, kissing her hand as a gesture of gratitude for filling my iPhone with juice. She appreciated the gesture as much as, if not less than, I appreciated Ronaldo’s equalizer that evening. That non-alocholic Mahou must’ve been stronger than it advertises.


Phil Jones, who looks equally imposing at both centre-back and centre-mid, reminiscent at times of a marauding Bryan Robson with his surging breaks that pierce through the heart of the midfield, ghosting and girning past players through sheer horsepower and flexible facial features, but admittedly without the finishing finesse in the final third of a primetime Robbo.

And then of course, there’s the majestically-cultured Michael Carrick, a man who large sections of the OT faithful have been confusing with a certain Paul Scholes as of late. I rarely confuse one for the other. And it isn’t even their radically-differing follicular hues which tell them apart for me, but rather their radically-differing abilities to time a tackle to perfection. Whilst most have attributed their renewed appreciation of Miguel to the fact that he now passes forwards with regularity (apparently he only used to pass the ball sideways,) for me the most improved facet of his game has been his tackling, of the sliding, block and interceptive varieties.

Our Players’ Player of the Year has now joined the twitterverse; indeed, “it’s @carras16 you know, it’s hard to believe it’s not @scholesy22” In the virtual world, I think it’ll be rather straightforward to discern that it isn’t in fact Scholesy who’s manning Michael’s account, unless of course the tweets prove unequivocally blasé. Then this dynamic midfield duo might simply be messing with us.

For those Sky Sports subscribers amongst us, the season has played out gloriously against a backdrop of Gary Neville’s mellifluous mancunian musings. If employing a seasoning-based analogy, Gary is more of a good ol’ no-nonsense Salt & Pepper man, to Redknapp’s Spice boy. Two more diametrically-opposed pundits you’d struggle to envisage, both in terms of style, charm and good looks. But beauty is skin deep, as they say, and it’s Gary’s insight into the beautiful game that distinguishes him from the more aesthetically-pleasing panelists. Worth the Sky subscription alone, I’ve often rushed home to sit indoors of a Monday evening to watch the likes of QPR vs Reading just to listen to Gary’s post-match analysis and subsequent weekend summary. Here’s a man who is so patently Red even when feigning impartiality.

On the topic of The Royals, one of the most ironic chants by an away side this year was courtesy of Reading (the key is in the name) during the evening FA Cup fixture, who hinted at the lack of atmosphere inside OT by singing “Is this a library?” Only in the sense that this is where teams come to learn by “taking a lesson from the football taught by Matt Busby.”

For those numerical theorists out there, here’s a mildly-interesting coincidence: So, in the year 2013, MUFC make it 20 English league titles, 13 of which being its latest incarnation, the Premiership. Conversely, MUFC’s 2011-12 players boasting the shirt numbers 20 and 13, Fabio and Ji-Sung Park respectively, both transfer to QPR, who are duly relegated. Your mind blown? No, neither is mine.

Finally, as many zealously pointed out, Fergie saw off yet another adversary, even during his parting year. The Sheikh must have mistranslated the “Forza Mancini” Blue votes of confidence that circulated around Twitter as “Taxi For Mancini.”

Ultimately, I’d like to echo every Reds’ sentiments in thanking Sir Alex and Paul Scholes for everything they’ve done for our great club.

Paul Scholes, M16’s midfield maestro, and a man who has shirked the spotlight to such a degree that even MI6 would have trouble uncovering any proverbial skeletons in the closet.

And Sir Alex: Scotland’s Son, Stretford’s Sir, Success Seeker, Silverware Securer, Scouse Surpasser, Shiraz Swigger, Squeaky Shitter, Spearmint Spitter, Sinatra Singing, Sheikh Spoiling…Sex Symbol. A man eternally etched onto our Red hearts, indelibly imprinted onto our Red minds, and irreversibly inscribed into our Red souls.
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