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The Red Report: Lindegaard, PIK, Kiko and Country or Club?

Sid Wednesday, November 24, 2010

 Welcome to the sixth issue of The Red Report, the round table discussion of all things Manchester United by your favourite United blogs: The Busby Way, Stretford-End, Bangalore To Old Trafford, ManUtd24, and Red Force Rising. Unfortunately this week The Busby Way have had some technical issues. If we are able to fix them we will include answers from The Busby Way as a later amendment. This week we discuss a potential new player; take on the contentious topic of PIK and debt; consider Kiko's progress; and we try to settle the club vs. country conundrum.

We kick off this week by discussing a potential new signing. Rumours have been rife all week with reports of a new goalkeeper. Both David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard have been heavily linked, with the latter seemingly very close to signing. Here's what we think about our potential new Dane:

Doron | Stretford-End: Who am I to judge a player I’ve never seen play before?! It seems very very likely he’ll be joining us and from what I’ve read it seems he’s a solid player. I don’t believe he’ll be signed to replace Edwin, I think it’s more likely he’ll be replacing Kuszczak (who seems to want out). If Lindegaard does prove to be good enough to challenge for the number one shirt then great but I think when Edwin does decide his time is up, another goalkeeper will be signed to replace him (whether that does prove to be De Gea or someone more experienced like Buffon, we’ll wait and see).

Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: The transfer hasn’t been confirmed yet, but looks very likely to happen though. but I don’t think Lindegaard is good enough to our no. 1 GK, and i doubt he’s been bought to be our first choice GK, he’s a good GK, but just not good enough to be replace Van der Sar, but I might be proved wrong also. His rise from obscurity has been meteoric, he was an unknown even in his Denmark when he moved to Norway, but since then he has been exceptional and has rightfully earned a move to bigger club. I’m sure we’ll see another GK sign for us, probably going by the rumors it will be De Gea.

TG | ManUtd24: While I haven't seen Lindegaard in action, I'm pretty excited to see what he could bring. Former Watford scout and Norwegian Tor-Kristian Karlsen has seen plenty of him and kindly agreed to fill me in on the stopper, with his views posted on the blog earlier this week. I hope he can settle in quickly and be given a chance. I'd hate to dismiss him as a no.2 already. And I thought Schmeichel's attack on his fellow Dane was needless, to be honest.

Alan | RedForceRising: I have personally never seen Anders Lindegaard play so it would be remiss of me to make any sort of judgement, but I think it fair to say that opinion amongst him is split - even amongst former pros. In an interview with Beyond the Pitch, United legend, Peter Schmeichel, dismissed United's interest in Lindegaard by saying he didn't believe the rumours for one minute. He then went on to talk about the qualities needed to be United keeper and the experience he think was required to be United's number 1 keeper. This would seem to indicate that he didn't believe Lindegaard had those qualities, but Schmeichel didn't directly say so. However, I think Schmeichel does have a point that even at 26, Lindegaard doesn't have the experience of paying in a top league or much big-game experience. One could even argue that UNited's other goalkeeping target, David De Gea, has already more experience being Atletico Madrid's main custodian and having played in an Europa League final. Time will tell, but I believe Eric Steele believes Lindegaard has the potential to be a keeper at United. Whether he will start regularly or provide cover remains to be seen. I'm quite certain this will see Tomasz Kuszczak leave the club though.

Kyle | Stretford-End: Everything I've read seems to suggest that the Lindegaard deal will likely be concluded this week. There's a good chance that by the time this edition of the Red Report is published the deal will have already been announced. I've never seen him play, and it's been a bit of a mixed review from what I've read. I know Eric Steele has scouted him quite a few times now and must've liked what he's seen. However, it seems that until a year ago he was struggling for first team football. That's fine, he's a late bloomer. As long as he is top quality now, that's fine. He recently made his debut for Denmark, which is promising. There seems to be a lot of positive reviews about him now. Reading the great Peter Schmeichel claim that Lindegaard isn't good enough is a bit worrying, but I'll wait until I see him play for United to judge. Regardless, it is nice to see United making moves to fill the void that may soon be left by Edwin van der Sar. I think this may be Van der Sar's final season, especially with David De Gea also reportedly on the verge of joining United. I'm also thinking that Kuszczak may leave to be first choice somewhere. This is all speculation though. When January rolls around I look forward to welcoming Lindegaard and seeing what he's capable of.

None of us have physically seen him play so if he signs we can all form our own proper opinions then.

As we know, our club is riddled with debt that doesn't seem to be getting any it was a big surprise this past week to hear the PIK loans had been paid off. This topic splits opinion amongst fans but here's what the Red Report team think:

Alan | RedForceRising: The latest episode of Glazernomics has once again shown how much we distrust the family who currently own the club. As fans, we should be happy that some common sense has finally prevailed, but instead we are questioning where the money has come from to pay off these Payment In Kind loans which had recently reason to the eye-watering interest rate of 16.25%. Make no mistake - this was not a kind-hearted gesture by the Glazers. Just pure business sense. Left unpaid, the PIKs would have snowballed to a staggering 600million pounds. They have done this to save themselves a lot of money and they have not done it with their own money. Time will prove me right, but I know the Glazers are never going to pay a single cent for the privilege of owning Manchester United.

TG | ManUtd24: When Bloomberg's Tariq Panja broke the news on Monday evening, many were asking "Is this good news or is this bad news?" The answer to that remains unclear; paying approximately £220 million of the debt sounds like good news, but many raised alarm that the money could be coming from the club. That was found to be inconclusive, so fans should remain calm again. Heck, this might be a step in the right direction. Although, note that I'm crossing my fingers...

Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: I’m usually clueless when it comes to all this financial news, but when I first read that the Glazers were going to repay 220m of our debt, I was happy to say the least. But then questions about where they got the money to pay off this loan come about. So in end all we got was even more confusion. And with Glazers surely going to keep their source of the money a secret, I guess we’re back to square one. The Glazers have themselves to blame for all this mistrust and this will continue on till the club is sold. I don’t think there is anything the Glazers can do that can pacify the fans; they’re just slowly running out of time!

Doron | Stretford-End: This may turn into a little rant from me but I’ll try and keep it simple and brief... ...I consider myself some kind of a realist. I understand the situation the club is in and I’m more than aware who owns the club. I don’t support the Glazer family and how they go about their actions for one minute. I’d like nothing more for them to be out of our club but the unfortunate reality is a sale is unlikely, no one truly has the money it would require lying around in this current financial climate. The anti-Glazer or LUHG or UAG movements are all fantastic but it irks me that they appear to have installed immense amounts of pessimism into people. I feel like United fans are no longer allowed to be happy with anything that goes on off the pitch. So this week we learn that approximately £220 million has been paid off or something to that effect. Firstly, the Glazers took NONE of that money from the club as many cynically predicted; secondly regardless of where the money came from this was likely to be a positive move; and thirdly I shall explain why... ...I’m no financial expert but to me, there was only one way that this could have been a bad move and that was if this debt associated with PIK loans was paid off by a new loan for the old one at a higher interest rate. As we all know the PIK loans are at a shockingly high (16.25% i think) interest rate. The likelihood is that yes it is a new loan for an old one but even if the new loan has interest rates at 11% the club will still be saving some money each year – which of course is important given all the repayments due. I guess in time we’ll find out how this debt was really paid off but for me there is nothing negative about it. It’s a positive move even if it’s just a baby-step in the right direction. We’re stuck with the Glazers for the immediate future so rather than complain and moan about everything – continue the protests but for once in a while just take a step back and realise that a good thing is allowed to happen once in a while!

Kyle | Stretford-End: I'm not a financial expert. I'm terrible when it comes to anything involving numbers. There has been a lot of negative talk about this, but this news seems positive to me. Maybe I'm missing something. It seems nearly a third of our debt was eliminated and apparently no money was taken from the club. It seems the worse case scenario is that the Glazers took out a new loan to pay it off, and if that was the situation the interest rates are likely far less. Even then, it's not an ideal situation, but decreasing the amount of interest owed seems to be a positive. There still seems to be a lot of pieces missing, but so far it seems positive. In the coming weeks and months I'm sure the details of this news will become clearer.

Ownership and debt is a very contentious issue that has split Red fans in recent years. There is no right or wrong answer but it seems that the latest developments are more positive than negative.

Our third United topic is another player debate: Kiko Macheda is a young prodigy, his name has been familiar for over 18 months now and despite his age people expect fireworks every time he plays. Has he stalled or are we being unrealistic in our expectations?

Kyle | Stretford-End: I think Kiko has the potential to be a brilliant player for us. His strike against Villa was pure class (their fans must hate him by now) and reinforces that he is a capable finisher. I've seen some criticism of him lately, but it's important to remember he's still only 19 years old. He still has a lot of developing left to do. That said, he is not yet to a level where we can play him as the lone striker and perhaps he never will be. He's always seemed to work best with a partner up front. He was a bit quiet against Wigan, be he was up front alone and hardly getting service. Sir Alex kept him here this season because he has something to offer; we saw that last week against Wigan. With more experience he will gain consistency. We all need to remember the glimpses of brilliance he's shown us. I have no doubt that we'll soon be seeing that on a more regular basis.

Doron | Stretford-End: I’m a massive fan of Kiko. Before that Villa goal I was already taken aback by his performances for the Academy and Reserves. The frightening thing is that he only just turned 19 at the start of the season, he’s still a kid. This of course means we have to be patient. He will make mistakes, he will have bad games and he will learn a lot. His talent is unquestionable though and it bugs me that he gets more stick than he probably deserves and worse still, some people are writing him off already before his career has even started properly. The thing that infuriates me though is how he is used. Playing him alone in a Champions League game as part of a rotated line up where he’ll get no service cannot help him. He always seems to get used in games where other players are rested and as a result he is given scraps at best to feed off. I wish we’d see more of him alongside Berbatov and Rooney in particular as he’s a very clever player. We saw that last year at home to Spurs, he came on and had a brilliant impact in that game when he was surround by the strongest other 9 outfield players at the time. There’s a lot more to come from Kiko, patience is key.

Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: Kiko’s development since his emergence against Villa with that spectacular goal has been disappointing, he’s not really lived upto his initial promise. Everyone expected him to take the premiership by storm, but two seasons on, he’s yet to score a goal when he’s started a game, but unfortunately most of the game that he has started he’s been asked to play upfront on his own, a role he just seems to suck at. He’s still only 19, so he’s got loads of time on his side, but he must be vary that Welbeck and Diouf have been very impressive on loan in the premiership, while Hernandez has already shown how good he is. And with Will Keane and John Cofie showing a lot of potential, the competition for a first team spot is just going to get tougher next year. And Kiko must really step up and fulfill his great potential. He’s a brilliant finisher no doubt, but the physical side of his game really needs improvement, I think he needs a loan to a premiership club and playing regular football to continue improving.

TG | ManUtd24: I've always been a fan of his, even before that goal against Aston Villa. What was remarkable to me is that he developed faster than I could imagine. However, he needs to keep both his feet firmly on the ground - with youth comes naivety. He's 19, and although that's not quite reflected with his looks, he still has a long way to go and will improve and develop further. He will find it difficult playing regularly for the club, but having said that, it's best he stays put rather than being sent on loan.

Alan | RedForceRising: He reminds me a bit of Pippo Inzaghi in that he is slow and is often offside, but can really find the target. His goal against Villa was a rocket and it was vital. I have a feeling that Kiko thrives in big moments and needs the adrenalin rush to get his game going. Whenever he starts a game, he just seems to go into auto-pilot and cruise along. He is in desperate need to go out on loan, but Fergie felt the club needed to keep a foot on him", meaning that he wasn't mature enough yet and that was probably a good move. Kiko can have a future at the club, but needs to play with urgency from the first minute and needs to learn how to improve his all-round game, because football consists of a lot of other things being done right, before the ball can be put in the back of the net.

We all can recognise Kiko's talent and potential, let's hope he fulfils it.

As per usual we decided to look at a non-United topic. After another dire session of midweek international friendlies a few Premier League clubs got angered over club vs. country politics. As fans, where do we stand on club vs. country?

Doron | Stretford-End: Very simply United > England. There was once a time when I was a kid, 12-15 years ago when I was so excited when England played. The ‘old’ Wembley had a history and the team played with passion. It was almost exciting! Today though, it’s a political mess of egos. The FA are as corrupt as anything and the England team is in its image. The thought of cheering someone as nauseating as John Terry or Steven Gerrard is not for me. It would be nice to see a successful England team who played good football and fulfilled the potential that the ‘Golden Generation’ had as individuals but I’d rather watch the United Reserves away at Bury Reserves over an England game at the present the song goes “World Champions twice, once more than England, World Champions twice”

Siddarth | Bangalore to Old Trafford: Well I can’t really comment on this topic considering India don’t have much of a football team, and for me United are pretty much everything in football. So for me Club is greater than country any day, but then the pride to play for one’s country and wear the jersey on the pitch is something club football can’t ever provide, so it comes down to the player finally what he wants.

Kyle | Stretford-End: For me, it has always been club > country. While visiting my aunt in England as a child I was introduced to Manchester United. In the United States I had never been properly introduced to football, and so United was my gateway to loving football. I obviously grew to support the United States national team, but Manchester United came first and it has always remained first. I've received a lot of hate for picking United over my country. I've been slammed for being unpatriotic, but there's nothing I can do about. You love what you love and you can't force yourself to change that. United is my biggest passion in life, and in a way has become my purpose in life. I chose to pursue a career in sports journalism hoping to one day cover United. My national team will always have my support when there are internationals, but United will always be my first and biggest love.

TG | ManUtd24: It's always United > England although I hate when people say that. I support England passionately and every two years, whenever they play in a major competition, I find myself swept up in jingoism with the rest of the nation. I'm still hurt by Lampard's non-goal against Germany! Not sure why United fans have to go on the defensive all the time, too. One thing I hate is, with many of our players representing the national side, their hardly 'scum' right? I've never quite enjoyed watching England play friendlies though, mainly because our players always seem to fall foul of them. But, United is always #1.

Alan | RedForceRising: A no-brainer for me. I love my country, but I follow my club's success week-in-week-out. Manchester United is a big part of my life and I even try to catch reserves and academy matches whenever I can. It might seem unpatriotic, but it's the truth. Just about the only thing I'm concerned about during International matches and competitions is that Manchester United players don't get injured and that the cameramen spot some fine-looking female fans in the crowd. Amen. Club>Country

 Best of the blogs:
Stretford-End | Extending The United Family By One
Bangalore to Old Trafford | Rise of Rafa
ManUtd24 | Anders Lindegaard's Progress Over The Last 18 Months Has Been Meteoric
RedForceRising | Loan Watch: Video Of Welbeck's MOTM Performance And Goal

That concludes another Red Report for the week. Hopefully this edition keeps you entertained until next Monday. Were always open to hear from you so you can catch us on Twitter:
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But don’t forget to check out our individual sites if you think we have missed something, as it is likely at least one of us will have covered it there:
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