PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : DECEMBER

December’s football watching began with a trip to Ballymena on the first of the month and a top of the table clash, which Linfield lost 2-1.

Thankfully, the rest of the month did get better, including the following Saturday, where Crusaders were disposed of 4-1.

Postponements meant I wouldn’t be at another match for two weeks, as Linfield drew 0-0 with Glenavon, though it was still better than Crhistmas shopping.

The next match was a bit decent, as Linfield thrashed Glentoran 4-0 on Boxing Day.

The month, and the year, of football watching ended with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield secure a 2-0 win.

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Glentoran

Cliftonville v Linfield

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MANCHESTER UNITED 0-2 CARDIFF CITY 12.5.2019

Ole’s at the wheel, but I think the brakes have been tampered with, or maybe the oil has been tampered with.

That’s the end of the mechanical analogies, that’s all I know about cars.

Both teams had their fate decided going into this match, and it wasn’t what either side wanted, with United missing out on a place in next season’s European Cup, and Cardiff being relegated.

Curiously, I’d been to Cardiff City’s ground twice, in 2014 and 2016, but i’d never seen Cardiff City play in the flesh.

The previous meeting between the sides was a rare highlight in United’s season, a 5-1 win in the Welsh capital in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game in charge, a Christmas miracle.

In the dark of winter, that win gave United hope of better days. Now the weather was better, the mood was now darker, with a run of two wins in twelve games resulting in two cup exits and the end of Top Four hopes.

At least a home match against a relegated side would give United the opportunity to end the season with a win.

Having made a handful of substitute appearances, Mason Greenwood got a first start. A misplaced touch in the first minute of the game was the only foot wrong he put in the game, usually being involved in any decent attacking play by United, having another headed chance after one again sneaking in behind Cardiff’s defence.

In the opening minutes, he made a run in behind Cardiff’s defence and was found by Andreas Pereira’s pass, but his instinctive header was turned behind for a corner by Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

United made a decent-ish start to the game without it looking a matter of time before they scored, the only moments of worry for Etheridge was a couple of long range shots that he easily saved.

David De Gea was forced into more work after a shot from Kenneth Zohore.

Soon after, Cardiff got a chance to take the lead when they were given a penalty when Nathaniel Mendez-Laing was fouled by Diogo Dalot.

I was at that end and though it was a penalty, though United’s players protested. TV footage showed it to be soft, though there was no need for Dalot to make a challenge on a player who was going nowhere, it only invited the referee to award a penalty.

Seeing how United’s final weeks of the season had gone, you didn’t expect Medez-Laing to miss, and he didn’t firing home to put Cardiff 1-0 up.

For once, United actually had a decent response to a setback, with Neil Etheridge being forced to turn around a goalbound Mason Greenwood shot around for a corner, while a counter-attack saw Greenwood hit the side netting with his left foot though he should have scored, a shot with his right foot would surely have done that.

What United needed was an early goal in the second-half. There was one, but it was for Cardiff.

A long throw in, it wasn’t even a good one, saw Josh Murphy get in behind United’s defence to cross it to Mendez-Laing to put Cardiff 2-0 up.

I was at the other end and was closer to them than United’s defence. It was once again another poor goal.

Has anybody scored a good goal against United this season? The vast majority of goals conceded by United this season would embarrass a pub team.

All it took for Cardiff to score was a long throw-in, and it wasn’t even a good throw-in either.

Later in the game. a long punt upfield almost put Bobby Reid through on goal to make it 3-0.

All United could offer in response was a header from Marcus Rashford saved by Etheridge, who also saved a shot from Anthony Martial.

United never looked like scoring. To many times in recent years, a setback means game over, they don’t have the toughness to fight back from adversity.

In truth, United deserved to get something from the game, and didn’t play as bad as the scoreline suggests, it’s just that there was an inevitability where the three points were going once Cardiff went 1-0, and then 2-0 up.

It was a perfect summary of the season – All over the place in defence and no belief up front, as Neil Warnock celebrated his first ever win against United.

The result meant that United finished 6th, though a win wouldn’t have changed things in that regard.

That means if Watford win the FA Cup, the 2019-2020 season will begin in July in the 2nd Round of the UEFA Cup.

If that happens, they’d better draw Ballymena United, Cliftonville or Crusaders. Might as well have something good happen out of this.

It was a season wasted, written off in mid September. It shouldn’t have been that way, it should have been the next step back to the top.

The previous seasons saw two trophies (2016-2017) and the highest post Ferguson League position (2017-2018). 2018-2019 should have built on this and gone to the next stage.

2017-2018 was also the third successive season United reached a Cup Final. You could argue it all started to go wrong with that poor performance against Chelsea at Wembley, a Chelsea team who had just come off the back of a 3-0 defeat to Newcastle.

We could have went into the summer with a third successive season of silverware, looking forward to going for the big prizes.

United got a lot of criticism in 2017-2018, but were never in danger of finishing below 2nd. They beat every team in the League.

There’s something that has become apparent about United post Ferguson, that they don’t finish a season strongly.

The record in April and May between 2014 and 2019 is P 40 W 19 D 9 L 12

United’s record in the Premier League in 2018-2019 was P38 W 19 D 9 L 10

At least they’re consistent.

This run of results includes :

– Failing to beat or score at home to West Bromwich Albion. Three times.
– Failing to beat relegated Hull City, Huddersfield Town and Cardiff City
– Losing 3-0 and 4-0 at Goodison Park
– Losing 1-0 at home to relegation threatened Sunderland

Once, if United were nine points off the top in December or January, you wouldn’t be too concerned as you knew there would be a strong finish to the season.

2014 – Couldn’t get together any run of results to secure European football. We would have been celebrating 30 successive years of European football in 2019-2010, the only English team to do so post Heysel.

2015 – 2nd with six games to go. A run of one win in the last six saw them scrape 4th thanks to Liverpool spectacularly bottling it. 2nd would have sent out a message. The Moyes era was truly over and United were eyeing up the next step. Nope.

2016 – City seemed determined to give United 4th with one win in their last five games, but United weren’t up for taking advantage. They lost out by allowing themselves to be bullied and intimidated by West Ham, a West Ham team who had just lost 4-1 at home to Swansea.

2017 – The worst of the lot, gifting 4th place to Liverpool by concentrating on the UEFA Cup. Though United ended up in the European Cup the following season, they could have done so at the expense of a rival and stifled them.

2018 – Seeing the season out by failing to score against West Brom, Brighton and West Ham instead of building momentum for the FA Cup Final and the start of the following season.

2019 – Grim. Presented a Top Four place on a plate but couldn’t take it. Never looked like taking it. Threw it away.

There are people who say that United are no longer a big deal. That is bollocks. Just look at the media coverage United generate. Just look at the reaction of opposition fans when they beat United.

The only people, it seems, who don’t realise that United are still a big deal are United fans and players themselves.

It’s amazing what a bit of positivity can do. Liverpool almost grifted their way to the Premier League title by sticking a slogan on the side of a bus and made opposition teams believe they were scared of them.

Folks, do you not remember the Summer of 2016? You should know not to believe what you read on the side of a bus.

Liverpool have went from 5th to 8th to 4th (secured on last day) to 4th (secured on last day) to a title challenge.

United fans seem to specialise in worshipping opposition teams. “Let’s be like City” “Let’s be like Liverpool” “Let’s be like Tottenham”

No. Let’s be the best Man United we can be. That’s all we should be worrying about.

The only way United have emulated Charlton in recent years has been Athletic, not Bobby, with their end of season capitulations.

It stretches back to David Moyes complaining about a difficult run of opening games when he should have been saying to bring the big games on.

Positivity and negativity are contagious. Let’s have to good type of contagion.

It’ll take more than good vibes to help United, but Top Four isn’t a closed shop, teams have been interchangeable. Just because you’re out, doesn’t mean you can’t get back in.

Get the players in, get them in early. The Summer of 2018 cannot be repeated.

You could argue that Jose Mourinho took his eye off the ball by appearing on Russia Today during the World Cup, but it would be hypocritical to do so, as Sir Alex Ferguson did punditry for ITV at tournaments during the 1990s.

If the transfer work is delegated, there’s no issue. It clearly wasn’t. We waited for signings that were needed. This should have been the Summer that United kicked on, now they are back where they were in 2014.

As well as ins, there has to be outs. Not only are too many players there long after they should have been, not progressing to the level required, there are players there that are taking up space in the squad such as Matteo Darmain and Marcos Rojo. You probably forgot they were still at United.

When someone is missing, there’s not always options to bring someone in. Not someone who can be brought in that makes you think things will be ok.

It’s not all doom and gloom, away wins in cups against Juventus, Arsenal, Chelsea and Paris St Germain prove that. Sadly, they are the exception. The potential is there though.

This match ended 2018-2019 for me. I’m beginning to think that Linfield’s 5-1 win over Cliftonville would have been a better way to bow out in terms of football watching.

Now, it is all about 2019-2020 for me.

It’s looking like Kyle McClean won’t be part of Linfield’s plans after signing a one year deal with St Johnstone. There’s no definitive statement that he won’t be back on loan, but the wording of both club’s respective statements to the deal suggest he’ll be playing his football in Perth next season.

He will be back at Windsor Park this Summer though, with St Johnstone and Motherwell visiting for Pre-Season Friendlies. Good in terms of preparation for Europe, but a bit rubbish in terms of groundhopping and travelling.

Linfield’s European game(s) will be part of a busy July of football watching, hopefully. I’ll be heading to Dublin over the July Holidays, so i’ll be looking to catch a few games while there, as well as doing all the touristy stuff.

As part of that, i’ll be keeping an eye out for any English or Scottish teams playing games there on the Saturday that i’m there.

I’m already making plans for the July Holidays in 2020, as i’m hoping to be in London on the weekend of 11th/12th when the Final will be at Wembley.

I’m primarily over to do all the touristy stuff, but if there’s a friendly on the Saturday, I might pop along to that.

I’ve also got a random urge to head to Mainland Europe at some point in March, but it’s just an idea at the moment, nothing planned.

This week saw the launch of the Unite The Union Cup in November between Linfield (as Irish League Champions) and the 2019 League Of Ireland Champions.

I would have thought the end of our season would have been better to schedule it with the weather being better, but it would be up against Semi-Finals of UEFA Cup and European Cup, which might not be appealing to broadcasters, which is fair enough.

I’ll wait and see what the arrangements are, but I hope to go to this, though the matched will take about three weeks with every player getting booked or warned by the referee demanding that a Trade Union Representative be present when doing so.

Other potential Linfield trips in 2019-2020 will come in the Scottish Challenge Cup. Ayr and Stranraer away if we get a Scottish team.

If we progress and can draw non Scottish teams, I think Waterford will be one of the League Of Ireland representatives. A return visit having gone there last year is very appealing.

While I was in England, Cliftonville beat Glentoran to reach the UEFA Cup. I feel for Glenavon, being screwed out of a European place by a system which rewards mediocrity. No amount of high scoring games will change that.

For me, 2018-2019 is over. Scouseageddon didn’t happen but the alternative wasn’t much better.

Now we’re relying on Tottenham to make things bearable. Tottenham, I know.

If you believe in omens, i’ll be at a concert on the night of the European Cup Final, just as I was last year.

Randomly, I got a programme for a Documentary Festival taking place in Belfast in June (didn’t order it and don’t remember being on a mailing list)

I had a quick browse and there’s a film about Maradona, so I might go to that, as well as a short film about a match between Bohs and Shamrock Rovers.

United wise, i’ll be hoping to do a midweek match in November. The last time they were in the UEFA Cup, I did a Thursday-Monday double header which was great, but not something i’d want to do every year. We’ll wait and see.

I’m off to hope Spurs save us all (We know they’ll be unbearable if they win, but Piers Morgan and Scousers having a meltdown in one go is too much to turn down), dream and scheme a possible trip, and pretend that I care about the UEFA Nations League.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November 2018’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

It didn’t get much better the following Saturday, as I headed back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The weekend after, was a double header, the first of which was a first trip to The Brandywell, to see Linfield take on Institute. The next day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

The following weekend, it was yet another trip to Windsor Park, but finally a home win, as an Andrew Waterworth hat-trick saw off Cliftonville.

My football watching for the month ended with a midweek trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on BSC Young Boys in the European Cup, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October’s football watching began at The Oval, to see Linfield get a win over Glentoran.

That was then followed by Newry City’s first League visit to Windsor Park since 2011, and we were treated to a hat-trick from Jimmy Callacher.

That was then followed by two road trips, firstly to Clandeboye Park, where Linfield suffered their first defeat of the season, and then to Stangmore Park, where Linfield came from behind to beat Dungannon Swifts.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

I didn’t have to wait long for some football action in September, with Linfield taking on Ards on the first day of the month. I would have to wait a while for a first goal of the month, as that match finished 0-0.

The goals flew in during my next match, as Linfield beat Warrenpoint 5-0, before taking in Northern Ireland’s first ever UEFA Nations League match, a 2-1 home defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The month ended taking in three further Linfield matches, home wins against Dungannon Swifts and Ballymena United, as well as a draw at Coleraine.

Linfield v Ards

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

August began for me with the opening game of the 2018-2019 season, as Linfield travelled to Mourneview Park to take on Glenavon.

My next match was in the Scottish Challenge Cup, taking in Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers during a short break to Edinburgh.

Upon my return, it was back to Irish League football for me, with successive trips to North Belfast for Linfield, against Crusaders and Cliftonville.

Glenavon v Linfield

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JULY

2018-2019 began for me in the middle of the World Cup, giving England v Sweden a miss to head to Wilgar Park to see Linfield start their pre-season against Dundela.

The following weekend, I headed to Dublin for a short weekend, taking in a match, Shelbourne v Drogheda United.

After that, was a ground being visited for the first time, Breda Park, to see Linfield take on Knockbreda.

That was then followed by a trip to Newforge as Linfield continued their pre-season preparation with a friendly against PSNI.

Dundela v Linfield

Shelbourne v Drogheda United

Shelbourne v Drogheda United Photo Album

Knockbreda v Linfield

PSNI v Linfield

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WHEN SATURDAY COMES – JULY 2012

England are at the European Championship, with Ashley Young on the cover of When Saturday Comes confidently predicting that England will do better than they did at Euro 2008.

He has good reason for his optimism, as England failed to reach Euro 2008.

There is a review of the recent Scottish Cup Final, where Hearts beat Hibs 5-1, including a feature on 102 year old Hibs fan Sam Martinez, who says he hopes to see Hibs win the Scottish Cup before he dies, with their drought now at 111 years.

In Northern Ireland, Linfield won their sixth double in seven years, to some apathy from fans, with one fan arguing that history will be a lot kinder to David Jeffrey in the future than it is now.

To cover the full length of the UK, we then move to Wales, where Cardiff City fans are upset at an attempt to rebrand the club, including a change of colours by Vincent Tan.

At Aston Villa, there is an article on the future of manager Alex McLeish, whose time was believed to up when he celebrated a draw at home to Stoke.

Match Of The Month is the Championship Play-Off Final between Blackpool and West Ham, two clubs aiming to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

There is also review of the season in all three divisions of the Football League.

On the continent, Serbia’s Cup Final was held outside Belgrade and ended up in a riot, while Auxerre have been relegated from France’s top flight.

LINFIELD 5-1 CLIFTONVILLE 23.4.2019

Linfield should ask to play Cliftonville at home on 23rd April every year. This decade has already brought wins in 2011 and 2016, and 2019 brought another three points, in the most spectacular fashion of those three wins.

Linfield went into this game on the back of a 4-0 defeat against Glenavon, which though didn’t ruin the mood during the trophy presentation, it was unwelcome.

Linfield made changes from that game, reverting to close to the eleven that saw them through the final weeks to secure the title, the only two of note that were missing were Gareth Deane and Andrew Waterworth, with Conor Mitchell coming in for a League debut, while Michael O’Connor came in for a start, while Stephen Fallon and Kirk Millar came in for Andrew Mitchell and Joel Cooper.

Cliftonville’s interest in trophies ended in January, which resulted in Barry Gray being replaced as manager by Paddy McLaughlin.

McLaughlin’s start looks decent, with seven wins out of ten matches. I could be cynical that four of those wins came against bottom six teams, plus it is really hard to assess wins against Coleraine and Crusaders, who are seeing out the League season.

They did beat Glenavon, which is something that Linfield haven’t done in their last three matches though.

Whatever your take on Cliftonville’s form, they had momentum, which is handy as they aim to get ready for the UEFA Cup Play-Offs.

Even though the result wouldn’t affect either team’s position, they both had reasons for winning. If Linfield avoided defeat, if would be the first season since 2011-2012 that they didn’t lose at home to Cliftonville. Cliftonville wins at Windsor Park have been far too common in recent years.

Another one, would represent a change in fortune against Linfield this season for Paddy McLaughlin. His previous three games as manager of Institute have seen 0-3, 0-5 and 1-4 defeats.

It felt like a County Antrim Shield game, such was the sparseness of the crowd. I even helped myself to a padded seat in the second-half. If I hadn’t seen such riches ………

It wasn’t that surprising, with the trophy presentation already taking place.

The protocol was that it should have taken place after this game, but having it against Glenavon was the right choice, though I think TV might have had a say (No complaints there) as a Saturday afternoon made it easier for families to attend, and people would have longer to enjoy the celebrations in an afternoon than an evening.

I was a bit surprised when the split games were announced that Games 37 and 38 weren’t switched, so that both Linfield and Ballymena United would be at home on the final game on a Saturday, to make it easier to present it to whoever wins it.

The early minutes of the game saw a lot of Linfield pressure, which was rewarded when a cross from Jordan Stewart was headed back by Michael O’Connor, who was in too wide a position to score, to set up Daniel Kearns to put the ball into an almost empty net.

There may be a dispute (I think it was officially awarded in Joel Cooper’s favour) about a goal against Dungannon Swifts in September, so this was officially his first goal at Windsor Park, as a Linfield player.

Linfield continued to dominate but needed a second goal, especially when Cliftonville had a few shots on goal.

That second goal came from a Jordan Stewart cross where a Cliftonville defender seemed to leave the ball when he should have headed it away, while another stood there to let Michael O’Connor get in front of him to finish.

Soon after, a second for O’Connor and a third for Linfield when he got in behind one defender, flicked the ball past another, made himself a cup of tea, did The Times crossword and then waited for his laptop to update before finishing to make it 3-0.

A game that Linfield fans might have been worried about pre kick-off was now won just before half-time.

If there was any small amount doubt, that was eroded minutes into the second-half when Jordan Stewart dispossessed a Cliftonville defencer, ran circles around the others, before firing home.

It was a good job that he did score, Cliftonville’s defence was so focused on Stewart, they left Michael O’Connor unmarked throughout the whole move, a simple pass would have brought a certain hat-trick.

Cliftonville claimed for an offside against Daniel Kearns, it didn’t hit him. The North Stand chanted “Cheat cheat cheat”, because Cliftonville were on the verge of a comeback to win the game 4-3.

Cliftonville players started to lose their discipline. What was a relatively uneventful game was now a yellow card fest.

A 4-0 lead allowed Linfield the opportunity to make some changes. There were a few youngsters on the bench for this game, Caomhin McGuinness (First League appearance) came on for Mark Stafford, Trai Hume came on for Chris Casement, while Daniel Reynolds, who scored for Cliftonville against Linfield on the final day of last season, came on for Michael O’Connor.

Cliftonville pulled a goal back when Conor McMenamin poked home a Ryan Curran shot. They almost made it 4-2, like the score in November at Windsor Park, when a long range effort from Chris Curran hit the bar.

There was a danger that the scoreline was almost going to be respectable for Cliftonville.

In the final minutes, Kirk Millar gave the scoreline a realistic reflection of the game, finishing after being played through by Jordan Stewart to make it 5-1.

It would be the last goal scored by a Linfield player at Windsor Park this season, and a good way to sign off for the home season. Certainly a better outcome than the previous home game.

With the trophy presentation having already taken place, Linfield players stayed on the pitch for not quite a lap of honour, but an opportunity for fans to show appreciation to the players for their efforts this season.

For me, it would be my last Linfield match of the season, i’ll be giving the trip to Coleraine on the last day a miss. If it’s still on, I write this on Saturday morning and it has been pissing down constantly since I’ve got up.

Glentoran v Institute has just passed a pitch inspection as I write, so a potential fall-out from a postponement was avoided.

Elsewhere, there should be a battle on the last day between Glenavon and Crusaders for 3rd place and automatic entry to the UEFA Cup, but unfortunately the Irish League doesn’t believe in meritocracy, and instead has a Play-Off for the last League place, a reward for mediocrity.

No offence to Glentoran, Institute, Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town, who were all in contention for 7th, but it is an absolute mockery if a team can be in the bottom half all season and qualify for Europe by winning two matches.

My attitude to this has been consistent since it was introduced in 2016, it’s not because Linfield missed out last year. Thankfully, Linfield won’t have to worry about this charade.

You heard it here first, Crusaders will lose the Irish Cup Final because they’ve taken their eye off the ball for five League matches.

One of Newry City and Ards will go down automatically, while the other will face Carrick Rangers or Portadown in a Play-Off. I’ve no preference regarding who goes down, stays up or goes up.

In terms of ins and outs at Linfield, that will probably be dictated by injuries and loans. If Roy Carroll will miss the start of next season, we’ll need a back-up to Gareth Deane. Alex Moore is capable of the role, but he could benefit from another loan, so if we can get a back-up for Deane, I wouldn’t be surprised if Moore went out on loan again.

Mark Haughey missed the entire season through injury, so that situation will need to be monitored if we need another defender to come in.

I was pleasantly surprised that Mark Stafford signed a new contract as I thought he might have wanted to leave due to a lack of games. That means he won’t have to be replaced.

If Kyle McClean’s loan isn’t made permanent, we’ll need a replacement there.

I’d expect Marek Cervenka to return to his parent club at the end of his loan.

I’d expect to see Cameron Stewart to leave at the end of the season. It’s hard to see him getting many games. He’d be a handy option off the bench, but it’s probably best for both parties to part ways. We’d need another forward in that case, mainly as a third striker, as back-up to Andrew Waterworth and Michael O’Connor.

In terms of loans out, i’d expect to see Caomhin McGuinness, Ryan Strain, Daniel Reynolds and Brandon Doyle getting loaned out.

Pre-season wishlist, all away, ideally to grounds I’ve never been to or haven’t been to for a while, so any of – Moyola Park, QUB, Sirocco Works or East Belfast.

I wouldn’t mind one last trip to Tillysburn Park before Harland and Wolff Welders move to a new ground in 2020.

Would hoping for Stanraer or Ayr United away be too ambitious?

I’m heading to Dublin in July, the only confirmed match while i’m there is Bray Wanderers v Limerick, though there may be a UEFA Cup tie for Shamrock Rovers and/or St Patrick’s Athletic while i’m there, while i’m keeping an eye out if any English clubs announce friendlies.

Off to Old Trafford in a few weeks for Manchester Untied v Cardiff City. Now, I enjoyed making a weekend of it when United were in the UEFA Cup in 2016-2017, but it’s not something I want to repeat.

If Watford win the FA Cup, the 6th place team in the Premier League enters the UEFA Cup in July, so i’m already trying to get a ticket for Ballinamallard United v Manchester United on Thursday 25th July 2019.

2019-2020 will hopefully end for me in July in London. I’ll be making the most of being off for the July holidays by planning to go to London. I’ll chance getting a ticket for the European Championship Final, but i’ll hope to take in a Pre-Season Friendly on the Saturday before I head to Brighton for a few days. That’s the plan.

If I do go anywhere in the Summer of 2020, hopefully it will be after witnessing Linfield win the League for the second successive season.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 16.4.1988

Terry Butcher is the cover star of Shoot as he makes a timely return from injury, with Euro 88 just around the corner.

As you open the magazine, Adrian Heath tells Shoot of his dismay at being singled out as a scapegoat by Everton fans when things don’t go well.

Cover star Butcher uses his column to declare he was back from injury, and that if he came through Rangers match against Hibs unscathed, he will be aiming for an England recall for the friendly in Hungary.

Butcher also defends his manager at Rangers, Graeme Souness, who has faced press criticism for a tackle he made in a European Cup tie against Steau Bucharest.

The Football League celebrates it’s centenary with a 16 team tournament at Wembley decided by the highest scorers in each four divisions. This competitions gets a four page profile.

In sponsorship news, England have signed a deal with Trebor Extra Strong Mints.

Bobby Barrett and his brother Lee get a full page feature as the lucky winners of a competition to travel to Turin to meet Ian Rush, and then see him in action for Juventus against Pisa.

In foreign news, Jean-Marie Pfaff is in dispute with Bayern Munich after they blocked him moving to Manchester United.

Another player in contract dispute, but possibly leaving rather than joining Manchester United is Norman Whiteside. Bryan Robson uses his column to say that such a departure would be a loss to United, amid rumours that Juventus want to sign him in a swap deal for Ian Rush.

St Mirren manager Alex Smith hits back at those who say the Scottish Cup holders are in crisis, by saying they will be back stronger than before.

With Euro 88 on the horizon, Shoot does a four page profile of Republic Of Ireland, with David Kelly warning John Aldridge and Niall Quinn that he is planning to keep them out of the side after a hat-trick on his debut against Israel.

Trevor Francis tells Shoot that he is not finished, at the age of 34, have left one Rangers (the Glasgow one) for another (the West London one) due a lack of games.

Despite being in the Second Division, Manchester City manager Mel Machin predicts his side will become the Liverpool of the 1990s. City’s main star is Paul Stewart, who says he gets embarrassed at being described as a million pound player.

A player worth a quarter of that is Leroy Rosenior, newly signed by West Ham, and off to a goalscoring start, gives an interview to Shoot.

Also off to a goalscoring start is Brian McClair at Manchester United, set to be the first United player in 20 years to score 20 league goals, but tells Shoot that he doesn’t consider himself to be a goalscorer.

The magazine ends with a full page on PFA Award winners John Barnes and Paul Gascoigne.