Benno (@Benglorious):

 

The Bobbins:  A Tale of Trying

King Alexander had ruled Traffordonia for nearly thirty years.  He was much respected by his enemies and beloved by his people because during his reign the kingdom had flourished, and was the envy of the whole world.  Alexander knew that his time as king was coming to an end and, with no heirs, had been thinking long and hard about who should replace him upon his retirement.  After he’d announced that he would be giving up the throne, all the kingdom was rife with speculation as to who the new king would be.  A lot of Alexander’s loyal subjects agreed that Joséph of the White Royal family would be ideal, but others pointed to his arrogance and the fact that he had previously been at war with Traffordonia as general of the humourless Chelsians.

Others pointed across the sea at Dortmundana, where the canny Jürgen had led his people through a triumphant uprising against their sworn enemies, the Bayernets.  Jürgen admitted to being flattered at all the interest in him succeeding King Alexander, but his unwavering loyalty to his people would prevent him from leaving them to accept the crown.

In the end, it was a man called David whom King Alexander summoned to his palace one afternoon to bestow the kingdom of Traffordonia upon him.  David was the mayor of a place called Toffeetown.  Toffeetown was a nice place to live, even though it wasn’t the town it used to be.  The people loved David, and he them.  Under his rule, Toffeetown was neither a success nor a failure and the community accepted this period of benevolence with their natural good humour.

Alexander told his people that David was the man he had chosen to succeed him, and that they should love and obey David as they loved and obeyed their current king.  David was known to the kingdom, and was respected as a shrewd tactitian because of  the various skirmishes that had taken place between Toffeetown and Traffordonia.  There was no ill will towards Toffeetown despite this, as both sets of people had a common enemy: the evil Pudlians.  They were reviled due to their underhand tactics, lack of morals and the disgusting behaviour of their famous spearhead, Louis the Tooth.

David’s first act as king was to bring his fiercest warrior, Mary-Ann, from Toffeetown to bolster his troops.  Mary-Ann was a pillar of Toffetown’s army, as strong as a tree, but many wondered where this chesty warrior would fit in with the army Alexander had left behind.  All doubts were soon dispelled as David’s first battle ended with a treasure-filled victory over the Wigs, followed by an even more comfortable defeat of the Swans of the Sea.  The people relaxed, seemingly secure in the knowledge that Alexander had appointed a worthy successor, one who would maintain their proud traditions.

The Traffordonian’s evil rivals, the Pudlians, soon put the dampeners on the feeling of joy felt throughout the kingdom as they swept aside David’s men.  This was followed by yet another defeat, this time to the Blue Moon clan who lived just across the border.  Spirits were raised again for a short time after a rout against the Levers across the sea, but this was short-lived after back to back losses against Toffeetown and Magpie Castle, both coming on home territory.

A poor defeat to the Sons of Derland ruined the chance of capturing any silverware, and this was followed by an embarrassing loss to the Chelsians, led by none other than Joséph who had switched allegiances from the White Royals after being overlooked for the kingship.  Joséph must have felt some sympathy for David, as shortly afterwards he allowed one of his finest soldiers, John the Killer, to join the Traffordonian army.

This didn’t give the nation the fillip everyone was expecting.  A crushing loss to the wildmen of Stokington and a dour stalemate with the vampires of Craven Cottage preceded a toothless defeat to the lowly Olympians on David’s continental crusade.  Mutterings of his unworthiness for the crown were starting to be heard in various corners of the land, which started to gain volume and momentum after yet another defeat to the Pudlians.  Some of David’s subjects started to call publicly for his head, but he managed to keep the wolf from the door by masterminding a revenge victory over the Olympians to continue his crusade.

John the Killer rallied the troops to claim a decisive and much needed win over the Villains of Aston, but the next opponents would not be so easy to dominate.  The Bayernets had one of the strongest and fiercest armies in the world, and now they stood in David’s way.  A tense first battle saw no quarter given and both sides left with honour intact.  The second battle started well for the Traffordonians, with ageing stalwart Pat Everhard taking the fight to the Bayernets and catching them off-guard.  However, this only angered the Bayernets and they swiftly countered before sending David’s men home, their campaign finished.

Rumours of David’s removal as king were now being touted by even the most loyal of his subjects, and it came as no surprise that he was overthrown after his next defeat, ironically to the people who’d once loved him:  Toffeetown.  Ryan Broslayer was appointed as steward of Traffordonia until such time as a new king could be found to resurrect the crumbling kingdom and restore its former glories.

In light of Traffordonia’s failures under David’s rule, both the Pudlians and the Blue Moon clan were vying for control of the kingdom.  Both were longstanding rivals of Traffordonia but had been kept well subdued, for the most part, by Alexander’s dominance during his reign.  He’d actually claimed the kingdom from the Pudlians many, many years ago and had instilled in his subjects the need to never let the evil Pudlians rule again.  With this in mind, the Traffordonians were secretly supporting the Blue Moon clan in any way they could, barring treasonous acts.

For a long time it seemed that the Pudlians, marshalled by their talisman Stee-Gee, would be the ones to claim total victory.  This would lead to a repeat of the dark days, spoken of by elders in hushed tones.  However, calamity struck Stee-Gee on the battlefield as he slipped at a crucial moment, allowing the Chelsians to administer a telling defeat to the evil Pudlians, crushing their hopes and allowing the Blue Moon clan to swoop in and take the crown.  The Traffordians grudgingly accepted the lesser of two evils as their betters, and swore fealty to the Blue Moon clan as their rightful rulers for the coming year.

Ryan Broslayer’s tenure as steward came to an end after the Blue Moon clan’s ultimate victory.  The highly-decorated Louis Vangelis took over the reins in Ryan’s stead, but kept him on as his right-hand man.  What happened after that?  Well, that’s a story for another time.  However, Traffordonians know deep in their hearts that the day will come when it is they who will be ruling once more, the balance will be restored and all will be right with the world.

 

The End

 

Tom (@Tom_McGhee):

So it’s all over; another roller-coaster ride of thrills and excitement, culminating in a ‘down to the last day’ scenario and one more title. Oh UNITED? Why didn’t you say….

Got to be honest, I’ve already repressed most of this season (expecting it to come back to me in senility and those lonely nights in the home circa 2040) and as such, the review is going to be somewhat slap-dash; for the regular readers (who am I kidding? ‘Reader’. And thanks Dad) I know this lack of professionalism will shock and dismay you but hey, if fellas earning £200000+ a week can do it…

August 2013: Sir Alex who? A 4-1 drubbing of Mighty Swansea and a 0-0 draw againts the all-consuming genius that is Mourinho?! Business as usual then lads.

N.B If we were Liverpool, we’d’ve started singing ‘We’re going to win the league’ about now.

September 2013: Little bit of a speed-bump September; alright we got hammered by City, but it wasn’t 6-1 and yes, we did also lose to Liverpool but these things happened in the Fergie era – it’s a team in transition! We beat Palace for chrissakes. The West Brom thing was probably just a one-off freak result. And just look at us go in Europe!

October 2013: See? Beating Sunderland and Stoke is nothing to be sniffed at (See also: draws against European heavy-hitters ShakhtarReal Sociedad).

November 2013:  Victories against Fulham and league-leaders Arsenal put us right back in the hunt and Cardiff away is never easy. Megalolz at Fellaini in Europe – what a signing he’s turning out to be – but 5 against Leverkusen away is just the tonic we need. Now we’ll turn the corner.

December 2013: Four wins and a draw. Yes, defeats at home to both Everton and Newcastle do seem to be a negative but Dave is really trying and I’m sure we’re just not seeing his vision. Buy a gun just in case.

January 2014: Oh THAT Sir Alex. Sweet Jesus. Still, take that Wales. Oh wait. Beginning to think David isn’t the tactical super-genius we thought.

February 2014: Set new world record for number of crosses. Take this as a positive. And if you ignore the defeat to Stoke and the draw against Fulham, not a bad month – I mean, we drew with 4th place winners Arsenal. That Olympiakos thing was just West Brom all over again. Oil gun on daily basis now.

March 2014: Magnificent vengeance against the mighty West Brom, and we continue to lure Liverpool & City into thinking we’re not even trying to win the league and really stick it to Villa who, once again, are challenging for worst thing ever. What goes around comes around as Olympiakos get their just desserts at OT and we make the last eight.

April 2014: Get knocked out – comprehensively – by Bayern; I don’t think its hyperbole to say it was the biggest shock since sliced bread. However, now we’re rid of the tiresome distraction that is CL, starting to think Moyes is leaving it a bit late to make that final charge – mathematically, it seems impossible.  In other news, Moyes sacked. Hand my gun into police – won’t be needing it now. Relative unknown Ryan Giggs made interim boss, smiles all across the land.

May 2014: Prepared suicide note in event of Liverpool win. Turned it into party invite where Steven Gerrard’s slip is shown on continuous loop. Season ends with Vidic and Rio leaving (I knew Vidic was going when I saw him sign that Milan contract), hope ensuing vacuum sucks both Cleverley and Young to a parallel world where they aren’t subjected to constant ridicule. Seems unlikely. Louis Van Gaal touted as next boss but at the time of writing, no official confirmation. Thousands of Vines though. So that’s good.

Its quite probable that having read this review, you might’ve noticed some glaring omissions – there’s no mention of the league cup for instance – but this is because I don’t believe in it; either way, feel free to not bring any of them to my attention. Its also highly probable that if you started reading this, you possibly – and justifiably – gave up way before now. If so, you’ve gone up in my estimation.

About the author:

Invented Glass, starred in Miss Saigon for 24 consecutive years.

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Abhay (Ab5Y) :

The unholy has been avoided. Liverpool will go another season without adding to their eighteen league crowns. While this may bring some amount of solace to Man United fans (especially the ones of a certain vintage who have seen the Merseyside team truly dominate English football), it does scarce to ease the pain of a season which to date is the worst United have had to endure in the Premier League era.

What does ease the pain, however, is the tangible hope that the 2013/14 season will go down as a blip rather than a turning point in the history of Manchester United FC. Strong rumours of the impending arrival of Louis van Gaal mean that the fans, and a fair portion of the players (not least a certain horse placenta connoisseur) remain optimistic of returning to their rightful place at the helm of the league table in the coming season. Along with that, there is also the indication that United are keen on buying football players actually worthy of playing for Manchester United, especially in the center of midfield. This is certainly heartening news for those who aren’t entirely pleased with Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini and the soon to be former Manchester United player/personal entertainer and jester to Alex Ferguson, Anderson.

If and when van Gaal takes charge of this Manchester United squad, one can expect a throwback to the heady days of 90s attacking and flair football. Old Trafford hasn’t seen such football, featuring gay abandonment, consistently since Vincent del Bosque’s Real Madrid were the victors in a clash between tactical astuteness and “tactical anarchy”. Since then, Sir Alex Ferguson became decidedly more possession minded in the way he set out his playing elevens. It was a transformation that was largely accepted whilst the trophies kept rolling in. But with two trophyless years since 2011, the return of attacking football in its purest essence will be a welcome sight for those making the trip down Sir Matt Busby Way.

If the hopes of the reported 600 million people worldwide, who claim to support “Man U”, are realized, the 2014/15 season could see Manchester United and Liverpool compete for the title. But unlike the last time it happened (2008/09), this time promises to be the start of rivalry that could last more than just one season.

For starters, there seems to be no danger of Brendan Rodgers going off on a rant about how van Gaal has, or will doubtless have, the FA in his pocket. For the main course, Rodgers also seems to be hell bent on not wanting to exchange his best players for Gareth Barry. For dessert, Rodgers is just a good manager through and through, and not a ‘flawed genius’.

With Chelsea under Jose Mourinho looking set to buy a world class striker in the summer, and Arsenal and Manchester City also almost certain to strengthen in order to build on their numerous positives this season, the fight for the league will be might tougher next season than it has been these past eight months. If Tottenham finally manage to find a manager capable of getting the best out of an expensively assembled squad, and Everton continue their rise under Roberto Martinez, even getting top four will be a sizable challenge.

Yet, barring City, none of the teams in the PL have the same quality in their squad that Manchester United already possess. But while City have a treasure trove of world class players to call upon whenever a need arises, Liverpool have something far more powerful: the call of destiny. Whether one believes in such a thing or not, it is undeniable that Liverpool supporters and a large proportion of their players know and understand the rich history of their club. There is an aura about Anfield, the Liver bird, the kop, the Shankly gates, and everything that goes with that club, that, though dimmed in the past two and a half decades, can still turn LFC into a fearsome and dominating trophy machine. Only Manchester United’s own history and traditions can compare, and hence only United can stop the mayhem that Liverpool will create under Rodgers now that they have tasted blood.

 

Brett:

I did one for ROM on Vidic and then ran out of

 

 

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