The push-up bras are out in force, the make-up is being applied and skirts are getting shorter by the minute.
With Edwin van der Sar’s retirement now officially confirmed, expressing an interest in the upcoming vacancy seems to be fair game and some of the likely contenders have begun flashing some leg in the hope of catching the attention of Sir Alex. For them, there’s not a whole lot to lose. A few non-committal words of glowing praise about how huge a club Manchester United are and how anyone would be hard pressed to turn them down are basically a shot to nothing. If it goes well you could be at a club regularly challenging for Premier Leagues and European Cups and if it doesn’t go to plan, you may end up with a consolation prize of a much improved contract and a pat on the back for your curious brand of loyalty to the cause from your current and hopefully more appreciative employers.
That may explain the rationale behind Pepe Reina’s comments about leaving Liverpool for Old Trafford. Since arriving at Anfield, the Spaniard has shown an uncommon understanding of what the club means to the Liverpool fans and by extension he is fully aware of the uproar a move up the M62 would cause. On the other hand, Reina is a notoriously competitive character. While at Liverpool he will give everything in pursuit of success, but if silverware looks unlikely to be won in the near to medium term, there’s every chance there’s more to his flirtation with Man Utd than mutual ego-massaging. That said, in the interests of not letting the truth get in the way of a good story, the British press gave his comments a distinctly United centered slant and his actual comments were a little less treacherous than the average Red may have heard. Certainly, he doesn’t want to waste away at a stumbling Liverpool for the best years of his career, but equally a likely destination seems far from decided. He told a Spanish radio station:
“I think it’s hard for me to come back to Spain to play. I think my place is in England – and right now that is with Liverpool. It’s hard to see me returning to Spain. Barcelona and Madrid are the two teams you would aspire to in Spain and that’s impossible. Edwin van der Sar is hanging up his gloves and people say that Arsenal are looking. I can’t do or say anything; I renewed my contract with Liverpool last year. But what a player wants, logically, is to challenge for titles.”
Whether or not he ends up in Manchester remains to be seen, but he would almost certainly be a huge hit at Old Trafford.
Elsewhere, having seemingly lost some ground in the flirtation stakes, Hugo Lloris has given a strong indication that he will be leaving Lyon at the end of the season. The French international has been voted best goalkeeper in Ligue 1 for the last two seasons and a place between the sticks for one of Europe’s giants would be a fitting platform for his talents. He also got in on the United brown-nosing, but that’s arguably because he needs to make up ground.
“Manchester United? It is a great club but I cannot say anymore. We will wait and see what happens during the summer. I might play abroad but I do not know where,” he reportedly told the Mirror, although if he did say this, it’s largely been ignored in the French sporting press.
Lloris may eventually end up at Old Trafford, but it may not be in time for the new season. He’s still only 24 and Fergie is unlikely to take a risk on a player who will cost a lot. He is an excellent goalkeeper, but as yet not the finished article. His shot-stopping and handling are generally top class, but he is prone to misjudgments both in when to come for crosses and how he decides to come for them.
There’ll be a lot more shameless flirting done before the vacancy is filled, but don’t be surprised if neither of these candidates gets the job.