He Cost Us F—king Zero. He Gave Us Lots of Goals (and the League Cup).

When Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced that he had signed with Manchester United, I figured he’d be good for a few great goals, a bunch of arrogant quotes and, a whole lot of moments where he came up short, thereby confirming the long-held belief that he couldn’t play in England.

I was right about the first two things. As for the third thing, I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

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Morgan Schneiderlin Never Had a Chance.

Morgan Schneiderlin’s Manchester United tenure came to an early end when he went to the place where many United stars go when their careers don’t turn out the way they had hoped. On Thursday, the French midfield maestro joined Everton in a £20 million deal (potentially rising to £24 million). But did he ever really have a chance at Old Trafford?

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UFC at MSG.

“It was very, very, very, very, very hard,” Dana White said when asked about how long it took for the UFC to get into New York. “It took a very long time – longer than it should have.”

Too bad I’m not still living in New York. It would have been nice to see the show if, for other reason, than to bring things full circle. That and seeing Conor McGregor in action.

New York Lifts Ban on MMA Events.

Well, New York state has finally legalized professional mixed martial art events. The big news came yesterday, as the state assembly, where many prior bills have gone to die, finally passed it by an overwhelming majority. Without long-time opponent Sheldon Silver around to stop the bill from reaching the floor, the bill easily passed with bipartisan support.

… And only six years after I wrote my master’s thesis on the battle to lift the MMA ban in the state. Can’t say I didn’t get some mileage out of the whole thing:

Some fighting to legalize mixed martial arts in NY.

Suit Challenges Ban on Mixed Marts.

Judge Narrows Challenge to Ban on Mixed Martial Arts.

Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery While Watching Manchester United Matches.

“De Gea passes to Smalling, over to Fellaini, he gives it to Carrick, back to De Gea, over to Schweinsteiger, who holds it… holds it…. holds it…”

Seriously, this Simpsons clip essentially illustrates the divide between the vast majority of the soccer world and Louis van Gaal. While everyone else (including United’s biggest corporate sponsor) sees a boring, impotent team that can’t break down a third-division team at home, van Gaal sees his philosophy at work.”We can improve but how many chances have Sheffield United created? Nobody is talking about that,” he said after the game, a 1-0 victory for United after a stoppage-time penalty gave the team its best scoring chance of the day. Maybe the reason why no one is talking about it is because United shouldn’t be giving up any chances to a team 47 places below it in the English football standings. But hey, how about those possession stats? 71 percent! That’s a C- at most schools. A much higher grade than United deserved for its poor showing against Sheffield.

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“A Season in the Red”: How David Moyes Beat Himself Before Chelsea, Everton, Man City, Liverpool (and a Ton of Other Teams) Did.

“He is a modest man who has a lot to be modest about,” Winston Churchill reportedly said about political rival Clement Attlee. Of course, Attlee got the last laugh, defeating Churchill in the 1945 parliamentary elections, but the (possibly apocryphal) put-down lives on in political lore.

Churchill’s quip was on my mind as I read A Season in the Red, by the Guardian’s Jamie Jackson. The book, which was released this month in the United States, chronicles all of the various missteps and mishaps from David Moyes’s disastrous 10-month stint at Old Trafford. The book, which covers both Moyes’s ill-fated tenure, as well as the first year of Louis van Gaal’s reign, is written primarily from the perspective of the press corp covering the team during that tumultuous two-year period following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

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When the Going Got Tough, Di Maria Got Going

In the end, Angel Di Maria’s only positive contribution to Manchester United’s history might be that he made other, less-heralded #7’s like Michael Owen and Antonio Valencia, look not-so-bad in retrospect. Oh, and he did score a ridiculous goal against Leicester City that was voted “Goal of the Year” by the Premier League. That was pretty cool.

After that, there aren’t many nice things to say about his time at Old Trafford.

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The Forgotten Man

He’s the first Manchester United player to score 20 goals in his debut season since Ruud van Nistelrooy. He was a vital part of two title-winning teams and scored many important goals along the way. He especially had a knack for scoring against Chelsea. Since joining United in 2010, he’s scored in four of eight league matches against the Blues and has netted against them in the League Cup, F.A. Cup, Champions League and Community Shield. Some players are born to score goals, and this guy could do it with his feet, his head, the back of his head, and even with his face while falling down. Last season, while on loan, he made six fewer starts than Radamel Falcao yet still managed to score more than twice as many goals as the Colombian “hitman.”

And yet, prior to the start of Manchester United’s pre-season tour, it looked like Louis van Gaal had completely forgotten about Javier Hernandez. Indeed, as recently as April, van Gaal was dismissive of the forward who has scored 59 goals for United in 154 appearances (1 goal every 2.6 appearances- not bad when you consider 68 of those 154 appearances were as a substitute). “Chicharito’s future?” he asked rhetorically. “I have already sent him away once. When you score a goal, as he has just done for Real Madrid, are you suddenly different? I don’t think so.”

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