The Offside Treble: Manchester United hit rock bottom, Super Mario is back and Frank Lampard ends his England career

The weekly Offside Treble is here. In this week's edition, Jen Offord takes a light-hearted look at the fortunes of Manchester United (including an exciting new arrival), the return of the infamous Mario Balotelli and Frank Lampard's big announcement.

Seeing Red

It’s annoying how Manchester United are always the big news, even when they’re being so rubbish!

It has been another big week at Old Trafford, though perhaps not for reasons the Red Devils might have liked. It must have been an emotional rollercoaster for “King Louis” Van Gaal, which started with a 1-1 draw with Sunderland, a result that was anticipated by few.

Still, things were looking up when the quiffed one sealed a British record transfer fee deal of a cool £59.7m for Argentinian winger, Angel Di Maria.

Van Gaal’s ‘world class’ boy wonder, who had stated that Manchester United was the only club he would have left Real Madrid for, might have been regretting his move before the ink was even dry on his contract! In a turn of events that must surely have been even more upsetting than a bird pooping in Ashley Young’s mouth last week, United were decimated by a valiant MK Dons, 4-0… Yes, FOUR-nil.

Football gets boring when it’s easy to predict. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m bored of Manchester United being rubbish ALREADY.

Ryan Giggs and Louis van Gaal avert their eyes as United crash out of the Capital One Cup to MK Dons. Can you blame them?

Ryan Giggs and Louis van Gaal avert their eyes as United crash out of the Capital One Cup to MK Dons. Can you blame them?

 

Why always him?

In borderline surprising transfer news, proprietor of one of football’s most ill-advised haircuts, Mario Balotelli, has this week signed for Liverpool.

The Italian striker was once described as ‘unmanageable’ by Jose Mourinho and spawned oodles of tabloid tales during his time with Manchester City – Liverpool must be missing the drama brought to the table by Luis Suarez.

No words are needed for this particular photo

No words are needed for this particular photo

This won’t be the first Suarez comparison you’ll have seen – Balotelli is known for both his great talent and his troublesome antics on and off the pitch. He allegedly set fire to his own house during some indoor firework bonfire night soiree.

The pair’s Premier League stats do, however, speak for themselves. Suarez scored 69 goals for Liverpool between 2011-‘14 to Balotelli’s 20 for Manchester City between 2010-‘13. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will surely be hoping to again nurture talent that often comes second to character and ego, and possibly sort out his style choices (maybe that’s just me) during his time in Merseyside.

 

I predict a diet

And finally this week, we bid farewell to ‘Fat’ Frank Lampard, who was, confusingly, never actually fat.

Frank has announced his retirement from international football, and by international, I mean playing for England, rather than for whatever pointless MLS club he joined in the States for a shed-load of cash a la Henry and Beckham. He could have seen out his twilight years at a smaller club in the UK, perhaps in south east London, making a real difference to them for a season or two. John Flipping Barnes played for Charlton once, you know!

A product of a promising yet underwhelming crop of footballers in England, it is probably fair to say Lampard’s international career was relatively underwhelming too. Despite 106 international caps, he should probably have been more, well, ‘whelming’. Had it not been for his dysfunctional partnership with Steven Gerard, perhaps he might have been.

Lampard called time on his illustrious England career earlier this week

Lampard called time on his illustrious England career earlier this week

In what sounds like some kind of Wikipedia-joke, as the English side exited the Wold Cup in 2010 after suffering defeat by Germany, Lampard held the record for the highest number of shots on-goal (37) in a single tournament without scoring. Everyone will remember Frank for a wrongly-disallowed goal against Germany during the 2010 World Cup, which lead to the introduction of goal-line technology… and for not actually being fat despite his nickname.

Read more from Jen Offord here!

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