Early Doors

Makes You Think: Van Gaal out of his depth, Rooney captain marvel

Early Doors

Like your football opinions hard-hitting, ill-thought-out and ceaselessly xenophobic?

Good. You're in the right place. Because ALEX NETHERTON is here to SHOUT the FACTS the others don't even have the balls to whisper.

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The season is back, and once again football needs somebody to tell it how it is. It’s not worth listening to the effete European Football Experts, or the thesaurus-bothering, piano-fondling deviants in the broadsheets. They’ll just offer you similes and obfuscation.

Football’s a simple game, a game for true Englishmen, and that needs to be celebrated. I’m not here to pander to egos, I’m here to call a spade a spade, and I don’t care who gets in the way.

I might not be a hip, young gunslinger anymore, but like my friends Adrian Durham, Ian Wright and Tony Parsons, I can cut through the bull and tell it how it is; in football, and in life.

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LOUIS VAN GAAL: IT’S FOOTBALL NOT VOETBAL (WHATEVER THAT IS)

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Is Louis van Gaal just another overhyped foreigner? It certainly looks that way. After all the abuse aimed at the decent, British David Moyes last season, it appears that the middle-class media, in their ivory towers, have been unable to stop their legs trembling for long enough to realise what’s going on.

Here’s a man from the European Union playing three at the back and speaking in borderline-incomprehensible English - is it any surprise that honest lads like Chris Smalling and Phil Jones struggle to follow his instructions? The sooner that Van Gaal gets back to four-four-two the better. This is the English Premier League, not the Spanish Donkey-Killing Championship or the Dutch Windmill-Toppling League.

If Van Gaal is not going to just be another Christian Gross or Juande Ramos - overhyped tacticians who fail to cut it against the demands of passion and desire - then he needs to change things up, pronto. Tim Sherwood should be brought in as assistant manager before he is confirmed as Palace manager. He should visit the Cenotaph, daily, to understand the mentality of the country given the pathetic showing of his own homeland in two World Wars and the 1966 World Cup.

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WAYNE ROONEY: FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY

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There’s one thing right that Van Gaal has managed to get right, though, and that’s giving the captaincy of Manchester United to Wayne Rooney. Rooney, of course, is one of the few players who came through last season with any credit, scoring 19 goals and leading the team to the best of his ability. He started the season in that form, providing a rare bright spot in the team that Van Gaal had hamstrung with his lack of understanding. His goal proved that the skills that he burst onto the scene with at 16 are still very much present, but now he has added maturity.

At the highest echelons of football are names like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and Suarez. Rooney is undeniably a member of the club too: street footballers with incredible discipline on and off the pitch. And with his leadership qualities, Rooney would definitely be the captain of that particular 5-a-side team.

This is the time for Hodgson to take note after Steven Gerrard retired from international football, and allow Rooney - a combination of the English grit of Bobby Moore and Irish determination of Roy Keane - to take over as captain for the England side, too. He will no doubt end up as England’s record goalscorer but will then, as he ages, be able to drop deep into midfield, playing the same role that both Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo play, using his touch, incisive passing and vision.

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LUIS SUAREZ ON COURSE FOR REDEMPTION

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After Luis Suarez disgraced himself by biting Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup, there were a few people who said that he deserved to be banned from football for life, me included. FIFA were also outraged, and banned him for four months from all football activity as a result. At the time, it seemed like the right message.

Suarez had scarred the beautiful game's most attractive asset, and needed to be censured severely. However, it was lovely to see that he had been in touch with the Liverpool squad via text message, wishing them good luck while he prepared for the season in Barcelona, with his new team-mates.

Such an action really gets to the heart of the man. For all the violence and abuse he dishes out occasionally, he is a fundamentally decent man. If you ignore the bad things he does, and simply focus on the good, like writing open letters to fans and giving disingenuous praise to Liverpool and text messages having finally got his long-planned move away, you can see that he is a humble, kind man, who in my mind is already redeemed from the bite. Fair play, Luis. Fair play.

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BERAHINO AND WEST BROM LIGHT UP LEAGUE

It’s galling to see the predictions made from the broadsheets being made, yet again incorrectly. They like their multisyllabic adverbs and emotive, punctuation-laden analogies to describe the match, and they never get it right. Before the start of the season we heard predictions that Sturridge, Aguero and Rooney would be the leading lights of the season.

Yet again it falls to me to point out who is really on course to light up the season. One appearance, two goals, enough said: Saido Berahino. At this rate the young lad is on course to score 76 league goals - and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he manages it, as I predicted last week.

Risen to the bait? Bellow abuse at Alex Netherton on Twitter - @lxndrnthrtn

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