Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - A Cultural Analysis of Manchester United by Soren Frank
As a new Premier League season begins Manchester United, arguably the biggest football club in the world, begin the defence of their record-breaking 20th league title. But this season is different. It is the first Premier League season without Sir Alex Ferguson. The next chapter has begun but for Manchester United the past is full of highs and lows of almost unbelievable Hollywood-esque proportions, a history that is superbly captured by an avid Danish Manchester United supporter, Soren Frank, in his intelligent and thought-provoking book, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – A Cultural Analysis of Manchester United.
The book traces the history of the club from its humble beginning in 1878 as Newton Heath through the success and ultimate tragedy of the Munich air crash in 1958 that took the lives of so many of the so-called ‘Busby Babes’ who were considered by many critics at the time to be the best club team in Europe. The disaster left manager Matt Busby the unenviable task of rebuilding Manchester United almost from scratch. He managed not only to achieve this but in 1968 become the first English club to become champions of Europe by winning the European Cup, and with it cement their global popularity with the likes of Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and the flamboyant superstar, George Best.
Unfortunately, this Man Utd team would only stay together for a few more seasons and by 1973/74 season Busby had moved upstairs, Charlton retired and by January 1974 George Best had played his last game for United. Ironically, in the penultimate game of the season it was a goal from Denis Law who had swapped the Manchester red for the sky blue of City which relegated the Red Devils to the second tier of English football and the lowest ebb in their history.
Manchester United bounced back after just one season but never quite returned to their previous position as top dogs. That is until the arrival of a young Scottish manager in 1986 who had made his name with Scottish league and European success with Aberdeen. Alex Ferguson would go on to supersede the achievements of Sir Matt Busby and become the greatest club manager in English football; the pinnacle of which was beating Bayern Munich with two late goals to crown Manchester United champions of Europe once more; and with it win an unprecedented treble in 1999 of FA Cup, Premier League & Champions League.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants is a unique thematic history of Manchester United from the club’s creation as humble Newton Heath in 1878 to its status as the world’s greatest football brand with excellent analysis of particular games, the highs and lows, and particular player profiles of some of the team’s greatest players. The book offers an interesting account of how the very the essence and soul of the club has given strength in its ability to rise from the ashes, its commitment to youth and propensity for an adventurous style; and in doing so, Søren Frank examines and discusses what sets Manchester United apart in regard to football philosophy.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – A Cultural Analysis of Manchester United by Søren Frank is published by Bloomsbury Hardback Price: £20.00
With the first weekend of the new 2013/14 Premier League football season completed, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea already find themselves in the top four. Chelsea played same amazing ‘pass and move’ football as Jose Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge to a rapturous reception. They cruised past Steve Bruce’s Hull City and played some sublime football, especially in the first 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Manchester City played some great football, equal in measure to how poor Newcastle were, as Manuel Peregrini took charge for his first Premier League match as City romped home 4-0 in a game that should have had even more goals. Newcastle looked disjointed, deflated and probably heading for another relegation battle, while David Moyes had a winning start as his Manchester United surprised me with a comfortable 3-1 victory away to Swansea.
Tottenham made hard work beating this season’s whipping boys Crystal Palace with the help of a dubious penalty decision. Yes the ball hit his flailing arm. But how intentional was it? Liverpool put on a solid team display without the suspended Luis Suarez, against a battling Stoke City under new manager Mark Hughes. Hughes appears to have the unenviable task of getting Stoke to play a more attractive style of football – on the ground rather than long ball and through the air – but without any money to spend to transform the side that was left to him by the outgoing Tony Pulis.
Before the season started I believed the title race would be between Chelsea & Manchester City, with Man Utd just hanging on to third place ahead of Spurs. Last weekend, I saw nothing to make me reconsider. The only change of mind I have is whether Liverpool will beat Arsenal into fifth place. I’m more unsure than ever, as to whether Suarez will now stay at Liverpool or go to Real Madrid. I’ve never believed for one moment he would end up playing for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal. But if Liverpool don’t keep him, they cannot rely on Daniel Sturridge to lead the line as well as he did on Saturday. Equally, I can’t see Arsenal being as poor as they were against an average Aston Villa all season. For the first 10 minutes of the new season, all looked okay at The Emirates. But then disaster struck and Aston Villa took advantage of two penalties to win 3-1 as the Arsenal faithful regressed to booing their team off, again.
Tomorrow evening Chelsea could go to the top of the Premier League as they entertain Aston Villa in the only Premier League game of the day. On Saturday Manchester City should secure a further three points away to Cardiff city; and then next Monday it’s the first big game of the season as Chelsea play their third Premier League match, away to David Moyes’ Manchester United. I still believe Wayne Rooney will be a Chelsea player before the end of the transfer window. But only a fool would agree to sell him in time to make a debut appearance at Old Trafford.
As a football crazy kid growing up in the 1970s, the Home Internationals tournament would excite me as much as the FA Cup final. There would be a school trip to either England v Wales or Northern Ireland, but never Scotland. Which was a shame as that was the big match. The winner of which, more often than not, would lift the Home Internationals trophy. The rival between England and Scotland may well still be there. But in 2013 there is a void as wide as the Grand Canyon between the two teams; and that’s taking into account that tonight’s England squad is very ordinary.
Back in the day, the Scotland squad would include great players from the top English clubs as much as Celtic and Rangers. Clubs like Manchester United and Leeds had more than their fair share of great players that would have been picked for England if they were born south of the border. That is simply not the case anymore. Eddie Gray, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer, Joe Jordan, Gordon McQueen, Martin Buchan, Lou Macari, Jimmy Johnstone, Kenny Dalglish, Danny McGrain, Sandy Jardine, Bruce Rioch, John Robertson, Graeme Souness and Archie ‘wonder goal’ Gemmil come to mind; and before them the likes of Denis Law, Billy McNeill and Charlie Cooke; and thereafter Andy Gray, Charlie Nicholas, Barcelona’s Steve Archibald and the current Scotland Manager Gordon Strachan. The lists are endless. The fact is that some Scottish players still play in England. But not one of the current Scotland squad is a regular for a top four team in the Premier League. Let alone the captain or first choice striker.
Truth is that if the Home Internationals Championship was resurrected as an annual end of season finale, which it isn’t going to be anytime soon, Scotland v England would remain as the focal point for rivalry alone but not a showcase for the best two teams in the competition.
Tonight’s ‘friendly’ game at Wembley Stadium will no doubt be a scrappy, furiously paced game which will have raised tempers once a couple of hard tackles leave their mark. Gordon Strachan will approach the game in much the same way as he did a player, like a Jack Russell nipping at ankles and chasing every ball. Like Strachan in his heyday for Leeds & Manchester United, Scotland will be fast out of the blocks and run tirelessly for 90+ minutes. But if England can control the pace of the game and the midfield, which really shouldn’t be a problem with the likes of Frank Lampard and Jack Wilshire, I can’t see anything but a three or four goal thrashing, especially as Wayne Rooney will want to use the game as a way of proving his hunger and fitness. Any bids on Wayne Rooney to score first & England to win 3-0?
I am itching for the new Premier League season to begin. What an exciting prospect with new managers at all three top teams. David Moyes has the hardest of all jobs in football – to follow Sir Alex Ferguson as he switches from the money-strapped blue half of Liverpool to the red side of Manchester. While Manchester City have replaced Roberto Mancini with the highly rated Chilean Manuel Pellegrini who has had success with Villareal, Real Madrid & Malaga in Serie A. He was Real Madrid manager for just one season where he amassed a total of 96 points, a club record until it was surpassed by José Mourinho in the 2011/12 season. Pellegrini will need to hit the ground running as Manchester City are hungry for more success. Something Jose Mourinho has already stated in the first of many rounds of mind games that will no doubt become a part of the 2013/14 English Premier League season.
Chelsea continue to chase the transfer of Wayne Rooney, and they could certainly do with signing another top striker to join Fernando Torres, Demba Ba & the young and talented Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku who returns to Stamford Bridge after a successful season-long loan with West Brom.
The challenge facing Jose Mourinho is probably the greatest of his career. The level and immediacy of the success he brought to Chelsea in his first spell as manager was phenomenal, winning the FA Cup and the Premier League title twice in three seasons. To achieve similar success he must first sure up a weakened defence and play a stronger defensive midfielder than Jon Obi Mikel. Michael Essien has followed Mourinho back to Stamford Bridge after a loan spell at Real Madrid. I believe the strength in depth with Essien fighting along with David Luiz & Ramires for the pivotal defensive midfielder position will help give Chelsea a stronger, more solid foundation; allowing the wizardry of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata & Oscar to continue to excel as they did under interim manager Rafa Benitez.
I’m surprised Chelsea haven’t moved John Terry on. He is certainly passed his prime and even if Mourinho works his man-management magic on his old captain, he is surely only going to be a bit player at best. Maybe Mourinho still sees Terry as a leader, a cool reliable head and experienced hand, along with Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, among a young squad for the future.
I believe David Moyes and Manchester United will struggle with a post-Fergie hangover this season, and Tottenham will become the top north London side, as Arsenal will look over their shoulders at the on-coming Liverpool, especially if they manage to sort out the Luis Suarez fiasco and offload him to Real Madrid in exchange for cash and a couple of players.
Chelsea & Manchester City will lock horns as they do battle for the Premier League title. Both teams will also want to win the Champions League at any cost; and it may just be their undoing. But as far as putting my money where my mouth is… I have placed my bet on Chelsea. What about you?
If you agree with me, I’m guessing Will Hill football betting today is going to offer you better odds on a Chelsea outright win than if you wait for the inevitable arrival of Wayne Rooney at on the last day o the transfer window.
From Balti Pies to the Biggest Prize: The Transformation of Manchester City
From relegation blues to billions – the story of Manchester City FC’s meteoric rise to power is wonderfully captured in Steve Mingle’s fascinating book From Balti Pies to the Biggest Prize: The Transformation of Manchester City.
Manchester City Football Club is the Premier League’s ultimate success story. The club has gone from euphoric highs to dire lows and back again over the last 40 years; and things do not look like they are going to stop there. Since the season of 1976 there had not been a single piece of silverware and the club flirted continuously with relegation.
40 years later, in the dying seconds of the season, the club snatched the vital points to finally win the championship. All the money and hard work had finally brought glory. The Blues had finally removed the Red Devils from the throne. Steve Mingle’s Balti Pies to the Biggest Prize: The Transformation of Manchester City is a journey through the club’s incredible transformation from the league’s laughing stocks to the country’s most feared team, all told from one ardent fan’s perspective.
The book documents Man City’s life by looking at its high and lows over the last 40 years. It examines how Manchester City’s billions have changed its fan base, team and overall culture and tells the raw and sometimes painful story of a Manchester City fan’s passion for the club
The author Steve Mingle is a qualified Actuary with a passion for Man City. He’s a long-term season ticketholder and the author of two books on the club: Lows, High & Balti Pies: Manchester City Ruined My Diet and Allison Wonderland.
Win a copy of From Balti Pies to the Biggest Prize: The Transformation of Manchester Cityby Steve Mingle
Buzzin Football has 5 copies of From Balti Pies to the Biggest Prize: The Transformation of Manchester City to giveaway.
To enter the competition all you need to do is correctly answer the following question:
Who did Manchester City beat in the last game of the 2011/12 season to win the Premier League title?
a) Newcastle United
Send your entries to email@example.com with ‘Balti Pies comp‘ in the subject line (any other subject title will be not be entered) with your answer and your full address and contact telephone number.
This Buzzin Football ‘Balti Pies‘ book competition ends on 11th September, 2013. The editor will randomly choose 5 winners.
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