New deal for de Gea, but same old manager in van Gaal
De Gea signs new deal, but still stuck with mad van Gaal
David de Gea always expected to put pen to paper. It's the right time, but the wrong club, writes Neil Humphreys.
The Manchester United goalkeeper pulled off the most dramatic U-turn since The Fast and The Furious yesterday by signing a four-year deal with the club.
He's come in from the cold and signed a pact with the most unpredictable Red Devil of them all.
He's handed an undeserving lifeline to Louis van Gaal.
Make no mistake, however many outcomes de Gea might have envisioned for himself, this wasn't one of them.
Read the full report in our print edition on Sept 12.
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Don'ts for de Gea
How the de Gea saga turned out
'Perfect time to play United'
Parker: Rodgers has lost the dressing room
Our analyst tells GARY LIM the Reds boss has lost the confidence of the dressing room
MAN UNITED v LIVERPOOL
(Tomorrow, 12.30am, Singtel TV Ch 102 & StarHub TV Ch 227)
1 Liverpool looked all over the place when they lost 3-0 at home to West Ham. What's wrong with them?
PARKER: When a bit of negativity entered their game against West Ham, Liverpool couldn't deal with it. They didn't know what to do.
When I was playing, if you went 1-0 up against Liverpool, you wanted it to be in the 89th minute, to give yourself a chance.
Against West Ham, when it was 1-0, I thought that was okay. Then 2-0, I wondered to myself what was going on? The 3-0 result tells you something is still wrong at Liverpool.
They can turn it around and call it a blip. But a team like Liverpool can't lose 3-0 at home to West Ham. They haven't got a manager who walk the talk.
They look brittle. You can't say that they have strengthened from last season.
Defensively, they aren't better. The centre halves and goalkeeper have been consistently weak.
And if you take away Philippe Coutinho, who's suspended for this game, you wonder where the improvisation is going to come from.
If you are looking for players to be mentally strong, sometimes you have to look at who they have brought in.
The players have to believe that they can really compete.
2 Would you go as far as saying that Rodgers must go if Liverpool lose to Man United?
I don't think Rodgers is one of those who is going to fall on his own sword. He's always going to have to be pushed.
Liverpool need Champions League football year after year. They need to do something, and make a decision quickly.
When they almost won the league two seasons ago, it was all down to one individual (Luis Suarez).
Last season, Suarez left and Rodgers was allowed to spend. But things didn't happen for them.
3 If you are to point out Liverpool's biggest weakness, what is it?
I don't know if the players can be sure that Brendan Rodgers is going to be there for long.
They probably don't have the belief that he is going to be safe in his job.
Players need calm and stability, they need to know the manager is going to be there for the next game.
4 Do you think getting his record 50th England goal will spark Wayne Rooney to life?
People said he was going to bounce back after his hat-trick against Club Brugge, but that didn't happen.
His last two goals for England, against San Marino and Switzerland, came from the spot. He took 107 games to score 50 goals, and plenty of them came against smaller countries.
Bobby Charlton's goals came against top teams. Rooney needs to start scoring in the big games.
5 Do you think it's a matter of poor form?
He can't play as the centre forward, who is always on the last man, on the shoulder.
Sergio Aguero makes a massive difference for Manchester City. He sits on the edge, creates space for teammates to run into. That's because opponents drop further and further back, as they are scared of his pace. Rooney can't do that anymore.
Where he wants to play (as a No. 10), United have got better players. Will you play Rooney, when Juan Mata is a better player in that position? That's the problem. And he can't do what Memphis Depay does in the wide areas because he doesn't have the change of pace.
6 How do you think the game will pan out?
United will win because, for Liverpool, there is too much pressure on Rodgers. That pressure will transfer to the players, and they will start to feel it. They haven't got a forward to really run behind United's defence, between the two centre halves.
If David de Gea is reinstated into the starting line-up, that will make the atmosphere even better at Old Trafford, and the defenders will be more confident as well.
Man United 2 Liverpool 0
- Paul Parker is an ex-England and Man United defender who won two EPL titles and earned 19 caps.
BY THE NUMBERS
Manchester United have won seven of their eight most recent meetings with Liverpool in all competitions at Old Trafford, losing the other.
There hasn't been a draw between these sides at Old Trafford since March 2000 - they've had 17 meetings since in all competitions.
This Premier League fixture has produced 16 red cards. Only Everton v Liverpool (20) has seen more.
WP's 'A' Team squeaks narrow win
Workers’ Party’s “A Team” in Aljunied GRC was up against relatively unknown People’s Action Party (PAP) candidates, but managed to win by just 1.9 percentage points.
The WP team was made up of Mr Low Thia Khiang, Miss Sylvia Lim, Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Chen Show Mao and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap.
The PAP team had only one former MP — Mr Yeo Guat Kwang.
The battle was so close that even with the sample count, released at about 10pm, the WP team was ahead with just 52 per cent of the valid vote.
WP had won 54.72 per cent of the valid votes in 2011.
But by 1am today, the WP’s lead narrowed to under 2,000 votes. It was so close, word spread that there would be a recount.
There was no relief on the faces of the WP candidates who had gathered at Hougang Stadium.
The final results came in just after 3am, with WP narrowly retaining Aljunied.
The management of the Aljunied-Hougang-Punggol East town council (AHPETC) became the central issue in the ward, with both PAP and WP crossing swords repeatedly.
Aljunied was not the only one that got hurt.
Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan said: “I would say that in WP-PAP match-ups, AHPETC probably had a big role because you see the WP losing ground even in their Hougang stronghold.
“Hougang’s been a staunch WP ground and the fact that it suffered a 4 per cent dip (from the 2012 by-election)... AHPETC must have contributed to it.”
Having tasted PAP-run town councils previously, Associate Professor Tan said voters may have felt it made sense to go back to PAP because of the unresolved AHPETC issues.
“Even in Aljunied, because the residents have spent only four years with the opposition town council, the loyalties are not as strong as in Hougang,” he said.
“When you look at the swing, it was least in Hougang, but quite consistent in Punggol East and Aljunied.”
Prof Tan said that undecided voters were influenced by other factors.
“Given the economic uncertainty, regional insecurities, the feel good of SG50, the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the fact that PAP did try to address some issues over the last four years, I would say that that made people think that now is perhaps not the time to experiment, no matter how tantalising or appealing the idea of a more vibrant democracy is.”
What of the crowded rallies and support on social media?
Inflated, said Prof Tan. But he also said WP did not do that badly either.
“I suppose it’s the gap between expectations and reality that may make WP seem like it didn’t perform well,” said Prof Tan.
“On social media and at rallies, it seemed that WP would do well this time round. WP hasn’t done too badly. The mood fitted it to a tee in 2011.
“This time, the mood suited the PAP.”
At Hougang Stadium, Mr Low spoke to the media after thanking supporters.
“Even with the massive swing, I think the WP did pretty well. I’m satisfied with the performance,” he said.
“I congratulate the PAP for having a strong mandate to continue the fourth-generation leadership.
“What I want to remind the PAP is this: It’s important to build trust between the people and national institutions (like civil service, judiciary and the media).
“It will be a shame if any party politicises such institutions for political advantage.”
Social media did PAP a favour
Of the 28 Workers’ Party candidates fielded in 10 wards, only six made it past the post. What happened?
The Workers’ Party (WP) lost all the seats it contested except in its strongholds — Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC.
Even at Punggol East SMC, which it won in a by-election in 2013, WP lost to Mr Charles Chong, a People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate who was parachuted into the ward.
How bad was it for the party?
In Hougang, a WP ward since 1991, the party saw votes slip to 57.69 per cent from the 62.08 per cent in the 2012 by-election which Mr Png Eng Huat won.
In the 2011 General Election, WP’s Yaw Shin Leong won with 64.8 per cent of the votes.
The lowest it garnered in the ward was in 2001 with 55 per cent of valid votes.
And things were not much better at Aljunied GRC.
WP’s “A” Team, which included party chief Low Thia Khiang and chairman Sylvia Lim, retained their seats but not without drama. (See report on facing page.)
Was it a case of PAP doing well or WP doing badly?
After all that talk of opposition parties making headway in 2011, did it turn out that the swing at that time was because of angry votes against the People’s Action Party (PAP)?
And are voters less angry now, causing the national swing even in WP strongholds?
There are the feel-good factors with SG50 goodies being rolled out and other policies introduced post-2011.
But Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan had another perspective — fear.
“Social media probably did PAP a favour because they were just pointing to a massive defeat for the PAP.
“That probably galvanised the middle-ground voters. The haze is a reminder of Singapore’s vulnerabilities, and these vulnerabilities made it even more important for voters to make an intelligent choice,” he said.
VICTIM OF SWING
While it appears the Aljunied team was hurt by the town council saga, Hougang may just have been a victim of the national swing towards PAP.
In 2011, Mr Low sensed the ground was sweet and gambled big, moving out of Hougang SMC to lead a team in the five-seat Aljunied GRC.
The team included WP’s star player, corporate lawyer Chen Show Mao.
But for GE 2015, the WP leadership decided against risking all even though it attracted a good crop of candidates.
While it was keen to expand beyond Hougang and Aljunied, the party leadership sensed the ground wasn’t sweet enough for a top name from Aljunied GRC to move to East Coast GRC or even Fengshan SMC, where the party was expecting close fights.
Ms Lim had teased voters with a picture of her tucking into a plate of fried oyster or orh luak at a food centre in the ward.
Her “taste of Fengshan — heavenly” comment sparked speculation that she was going to contest in Fengshan.
Instead, WP counted on a vote for blue, whoever the candidate.
In Fengshan SMC, it fielded shipping lawyer Dennis Tan against Ms Cheryl Chan, a PAP grassroots worker of 10 years. WP lost.
In East Coast GRC, WP talked up its team which included team leader Gerald Giam, business consultancy CEO Leon Perera and National University of Singapore (NUS) Associate Professor Daniel Goh. WP spoke of leadership renewal, pointing to the East Coast team.
At an East Coast GRC rally, Ms Lim introduced the team as the party’s next leadership.
The East Coast team also lost.
WP didn’t do itself any favour by dismissing talk of a grand coalition with other opposition parties. It even skipped a second meeting with the opposition parties which were trying to carve out seats to avoid three-cornered fights.
TAKING OWN PATH
In MacPherson SMC, WP made it clear it was unhappy when the National Solidarity Party decided it was also going to contest the seat.
Mr Low himself had said previously that the party was under pressure in 2001 to join the newly formed Singapore Democratic Alliance.
“We built ourselves up and today, after 20 years, we are still talking about opposition unity.
“The Workers’ Party has taken its own path, and I believe that is the path on which we can build a credible party to offer Singaporeans a credible choice. And I think we will continue with that path,” said Mr Low.
Mr Giam put it more bluntly at a rally speech: “The people in Singapore have demonstrated a desire for greater opposition presence. Many of them have come up to us and told us that they want to see a greater opposition presence in Parliament, but not just any opposition.”
The euphoria from 2011 was missing at Hougang stadium last night.
The mood was sombre after supporters received news of WP losing Fengshan and Punggol East.
Hougang MP Png Eng Huat tried to keep spirits up by greeting supporters and shaking their hands with the crowd chanting “huat ah!”.
But the smiles were forced.