Tag Archives: Manchester United

David Beckham’s Retirement

David Beckham has announced that he will retire from soccer at the end of the season. He has had an excellent career, which most people forget because now he is more well-known for his off-the-pitch celebrity activities than for his footballing. In his honor, here is a link to the highlights of the 1999 Champions League final, one of the most thrilling matches ever. Both Manchester United goals come in the aftermath of Beckham corner kicks, and the first corner is set up by a lovely pass from Beckham to Gary Neville.

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Thoughts on Bill Hader Leaving Saturday Night Live and Endings in General

Bill Hader announced this week that he is leaving Saturday Night Live at the end of this season. While I got into SNL at the tail end of the Will Ferrell/Chris Parnell/Tracy Morgan-into-the-Tina Fey/Amy Poehler/Maya Rudolph days, Hader’s generation (Andy Samberg, Kristen Wiig, Kenan Thompson, with Jason Sudeikis and Fred Armisen having been there a bit longer) was the one that I connected with the most as a fan, and now that most of it is gone, I feel a keen sense of loss that isn’t just tied to the show, but is also tied to the forthcoming transition in my own life into a tenure-track (and thus explicitly long-term) position. It is like the fun times are over and it’s time to go into a settled, middle-aged life of bourgeois despair. I haven’t watched the show regularly this season after the first few weeks because the new cast members just didn’t have enough verve to fill the gap left by Wiig’s and Samberg’s departures at the end of last season, and now that Hader is leaving my guess is that I’ll watch it even less. There’s still a lot of talent on the show, and the new cast members have certainly been getting better, but somehow it no longer feels like it’s mine. Endings are always also beginnings (and it feels like there have been a lot of these that I care about lately, most notably the retirements of Sir Alex Ferguson and Paul Scholes), and I feel like I should be excited for mine as one would think Hader is excited for his (he’ll have more time to work on his thus far promising film career), but it just makes me feel old.

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Brief Thoughts on Sir Alex Ferguson’s Retirement

I woke up this morning to the news that Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to retire from his position as Manchester United’s manager. I have been a United fan since 1991, so I have never known the club without Ferguson, and it will be odd not to have him in charge. His amazing, unequalable record of success is well-known, and I am not going to repeat it here.

But I will say that I don’t think this day is a day of tragedy for the club like some are making it out to be. Ferguson had to retire sometime, and it is better for him to do so a year too soon than a year too late. Also, the young players that United currently have in the squad (who now already have the experience of winning the league), combined with veterans such as Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney (whose tensions with Ferguson can now be a thing of the past, which will be a good thing for Rooney and the club because now he can stay at the club), and (still!) Ryan Giggs, plus the veterans in defense, ensure that United have the potential to continue their unparalleled success.

Current rumors have Everton’s David Moyes becoming the new manager, and I would be happy with this decision because he is a good coach who does not hog the spotlight and would put the club first. The other major candidate, Jose Mourinho, is an excellent coach, but also brings a circus atmosphere with him and might be too much of a distraction. I would also be happy with a lower profile hire, such as an assistant coach who knows the club well, or Giggs as player-coach, or someone who has connections to the club and coaching experience elsewhere like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

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Manchester United’s 2013/2014 Change Strip

The design for Manchester United’s 2013/2014 change strip has been leaked, and you can view it here. I love United, but I must say that this is an ugly, ugly shirt. The blue is fine, as this has been a traditional color for United change strips and they wore it against Benfica at Wembley when they won their first European Cup in 1968, but the lumberjack flannel shirt pattern is atrocious. The black also clashes with the blue because they are both darker colors–almost any other color (yellow might be decent) would be better than the black even though black is the club’s secondary color. I would much prefer a simple blue shirt with the same design as their primary red ones. It would also be neat to have a green and yellow change strip as an homage to the club’s original colors. They used this color scheme one year in the mid-1990s and I have thought about purchasing one of these shirts used, but the design is marred by the ’90s garishness that was all too common in the footballing world.

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Back in the Saddle

I haven’t posted in several weeks because I am currently on the job market and have had several interviews that have taken up all of my non-teaching time. However, my life should be a little less crazy in the near future, so I’ll be able to get back to my normal routine of posting a few times per week.

Here are a few brief thoughts on subjects that have been kicking around in my head recently:

1. I just finished teaching Zadie Smith’s White Teeth in my Literary Criticism and Research course, and it struck me during my re-reading of the book just how much it is a response to the Rushdie Affair. Millat and his fundamentalist Muslim friends go to an anti-Rushdie protest midway through the novel, and then the Affair is never explicitly mentioned again (in fact, even during this episode Rushie is not mentioned by name). But the final third of the book is devoted to the conflict between science and religion, with Millat’s group KEVIN and Hortense’s cabal of Jehovah’s Witnesses on one side and Marcus and Magid on the other. Of course these two narratives do not have to be nearly as much in opposition as public discourse in the United States claims they are, but the Rushdie Affair and its portrayal in White Teeth illuminates how when one side (the religious fundamentalists) forces the dialogue to be black or white, one must choose sides, and that the correct choice is to be on the side of freedom of speech and rationality.

2. I bought two new suits in preparation for my interviews and have been thinking about how they relate to the presentation of myself as a person, and as a part of this preoccupation I have been noticing other people’s clothing much more than usual. Last night I was at a party and was so intrigued by someone’s shirt that I asked to feel it even though I had never met the person before! I like the concept of putting a lot of care and consideration into building one’s wardrobe, but usually I am too lazy to actually do this.

3. Danny Welbeck really needs a goal, having only scored once in the league this season. He’s been getting a lot of playing time recently and is often in the starting lineup (today he came on as a late substitute against Fulham, and this kind of usage will probably become the norm now that Wayne Rooney is fully fit again), but has been unable to take advantage of these opportunities. His overall play has been decent, but as a striker his lack of scoring is glaring. The team hasn’t been suffering from Welbeck’s drought because of the presence of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (and perhaps van Persie’s presence has thrown Welbeck off his game a bit, though that is no excuse). It is clear, however, that when he gets the ball in scoring positions he is thinking too much–his lack of goals is in his head. He’s one of my favorite players, and should have a long and successful career at United, but really needs a goal so that he can stop thinking about it and continue with his development.

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Books Acquired Recently: Holiday Edition

My family exchanged gifts today rather than on the 25th. Here is a list of all of the books I was fortunate enough to receive:

Bechdel, Alison. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For. Boston: Houghton, 2008.

I read an article in the New Yorker about Bechdel earlier this year and decided that I wanted to check out her work. I look forward to reading through the comic strip that put her on the public radar.

Eagleton, Terry. The Event of Literature. New Haven: Yale UP, 2012.

I don’t always agree with Eagleton, but I enjoy his work because it is at the very least thought-provoking. His latest book sounds interesting.

Glimcher, Mildred L. Happenings: New York, 1958-1963. New York: Monacelli, 2012.

I am very interested in the New York art and literary scene of the 1950s-1960s, and this book documents how artists of the time were stretching the boundaries of what “art” could be and how it related to performance.

Jones, Hettie. How I Became Hettie Jones. 1990. New York: Grove, 1997.

I’ve done writing about Jones’s ex-husband, Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones), and, as I mention above, I am interested in their artistic millieu, so I’ve been wanting to read this memoir for a while.

Jones, L.H. The Jones Second Reader. Boston: Ginn, 1903.

This book is one of my grandfather’s old school books that he kept until his recent death. I am honored to have it in my possession.

Marshall, Ian. Class of 92: The Official Story of the Team That Transformed United. London: Simon, 2012.

I became a Manchester United fan in 1991 as an eleven-year-old, just before their greatest generation of players began taking the pitch. I am very excited to read more about their time before they broke into the first team.

Shaw, Lytle. Frank O’Hara: The Poetics of Coterie. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2006.

As I’ve written here before, O’Hara is one of my favorite poets, so I acquire books about him rather compulsively.

Swartz, Ted. Laughter is Sacred Space: The Not-So-Typical Journey of a Mennonite Actor. Harrisonburg: Herald, 2012.

Swartz is an actor whom I have met and seen perform several times. As a side note, Herald Press’s headquarters was in Scottdale, Pennsylvania for its entire history until just recently. I was shocked when I looked at the copyright page and saw that they have moved.

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Thoughts on Chelsea-Manchester United: Reds Lucky Yet Deserving

Manchester United’s 3-2 win at Chelsea today involved some beautiful soccer and quite a bit of controversy in the second half. Here is my take on the three crucial officiating decisions midway through the second half when the match was tied 2-2:

1. Branislav Ivanovic’s red card for taking down Ashley Young was the correct decision. Young was clear on goal and Ivanovic was the last defender. He made his tackle from behind and got the man, not the ball. The referee’s decision to give him a straight red is mandated by the rulebook. Kudos to Ivanovic for realizing that he was in the wrong and not making much of fuss before leaving the pitch.

2. Fernando Torres’s second yellow card and subsequent sending off was harsh, though it could have been prevented if Torres did not have a deserved reputation for diving. The referee was in a bad position, and from his angle one could see how it looked like a dive because there was only slight contact from Jonny Evans.  It certainly looked like Torres embellished a bit from any angle. I do not think he deserved a card, but again, it was Torres reaping a bit of what he’d sown in the past. I suppose this sounds like blaming the victim, but I would rather have referees err on the side of punishing diving too much rather than too little. These two decisions by the referee are ones that rarely get made (even the correct first decision); I was glad that he had the courage to make them, and wish that more referees would.

3. Javier Hernandez’s game-winning goal was clearly offside. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

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