THESE days, you have to get in fast if you want to laugh at your rivals’ misfortune, lest your chuckles turn to ashes in your mouth.
No sooner had we started yelling at Eduardo’s diving, for example, than we were having to defend our own supposedly unsporting behaviour vis à vis Messrs Rooney and Fletcher. Then, barely hours after the sensational news broke about Chelsea’s FIFA transfer ban, we had our own case to contend with, as Le Havre disinterred their own complaints about us from last month.
Various Italians are also making threatening noises against us on this front too, and it is beginning to have a troublesome smell about it.
One suspects that United will be cannier about this than Chelsea. If not, it could be a grim winter and summer for us.
Mind you, as one of my more cynical Red Issue colleagues pointed out, we aren’t in a position to buy anyone for the next year anyway, given that the Gimps have stolen all the Ronaldo money – or so it is believed. Besides, do we need anyone?
Not if Fergie is to be taken at his word – stop chortling at the back – that he is “very comfortable” with the squad he currently has. All that could change, if we are to believe two stories that refuse to disappear, namely that both Anderson and – gasp! – Rio Ferdinand might be on their way out before too long.
We have discussed Anderson before, of course, but the Rio scare would have been news to you. Unless you read Red Issue, that is: we had whispers from both United and Rio’s camps almost a year ago that the time might come for him to move on, and we duly printed it last autumn. The thinking was he would still fetch a huge fee, despite his age, which would clearly please the Glazers and Gill.
And what would be in it for Rio? The appeal of “the final challenge”, a last, great Terry-beating payday, and a guarantee against growing stale in his MUFC comfort zone. Only two weeks ago, he even addressed the issue directly, promising that he would never play for another English club but leaving the door open to a continental move.
Then, last Saturday, The Sun ran a splash saying Barca and Real were both interested in him, together with supporting quotes from a Rio camp ‘insider’. I happen to have a very good idea as to who that ‘insider’ was, and what his motivations tend to be – consequently, I wouldn’t dismiss the tale out of hand, as many were quick to do.
If you are a long-time reader, then you will probably be aware that I would not be heartbroken to see him leave, and certainly do not think it would spell doom for our defence. But if the proceeds of such a sale were merely to end up feathering the nests of the Glazers’ credit card suppliers, then even I would baulk at the prospect.
One wonders what Rio’s original mentor, Harry Redknapp, would advise him to do – and of course, the player will get the chance to ask Redknapp himself on Saturday, as the pair will be watching us at White Hart Lane from the benches. I never thought we would be in a position where we are facing ‘Arry in a genuine table-topper but there you have it.
And to think how hard we laughed when we first heard about his doorstep dawn arrest, chuckling to ourselves “that’s the end of him then!”
Ashes in the mouth... which is where we came in, isn’t it?
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