Loan and International Roundup – May 3-4
Posted by nickogs20 on May 6, 2008
As Febian Brandy crowns his League One title-winning loan spell with the winning goal in Swansea’s final game at Brighton, it’s disappointment all round on final day for United’s Championship contingent…
Swansea had long since been confirmed champions but Brandy’s impact from the bench enabled them to lift the League One trophy on the back of a victory. Febian came on with quarter of an hour left and combined with fellow substitute Shaun MacDonald just four minutes later to give the Swans all three points. Roberto Martinez, his manager for the last few months, has already expressed a desire to take Brandy on loan again next season as Swansea make the step up to the Championship, and although the diminutive forward has not started as many games as he would have liked, both he and Sir Alex Ferguson appear happy with how the loan spell has worked out so far and a season in the Championship would appear to be the ideal next step in Brandy’s development.
On Sunday morning, another four of our loanees harboured hopes of following in Brandy’s footsteps and achieving promotion. Hull were already assured of a playoff place and were hoping to sneak into the final automatic promotion place. Fraizer Campbell‘s side needed Stoke City to lose at home to relegation-threatened Leicester, a result that would have allowed them to move up into second place with a win at Ipswich – themselves still in with a chance of making the playoffs. As it turned out, neither side went away happy as Stoke held on for the point they needed while Hull went down 1-0 to a late Alan Lee goal for the home side that ultimately proved to be in vain.
Campbell was starved of service and has a disappointingly quiet match, in contrast to his good mate Danny Simpson, who had a fine game at right-back for Ipswich. Crystal Palace’s win and a point for Watford were enough to leave Ipswich agonisingly one point short of a playoff place. The good news for Simo is that Sunderland, Birmingham and Wigan are all rumoured to be interested on taking him on loan next season and offering him regular Premier League football. It’s hard to imagine United doing anything but encouraging him in that direction, although with the links the three relevant managers have with SAF, we can’t be wholly sure of the legitimacy of the reports. Hull will of course take part in the playoffs, with a two-legged semi-final against Watford to come over the next 10 days. We’ll have updates on Hull’s (and Fraizer’s) playoff push over the next couple of weeks.
With Crystal Palace and Watford nabbing the final two playoff places, that also meant disappointment for Lee Martin and Darron Gibson as Sheffield United and Wolves also missed out (the latter cruelly on goal difference). Both players missed their teams’ final fixtures with knee and ankle injuries respectively, in many ways summing up both of their loan spells. They – along with Simpson, Brandy and Kieran Lee, an unused sub yet again for QPR – will return to United in the next few days for the last few weeks before the summer break. Michael Barnes‘ season is also over, more to come on his situation in the next day or so.
That leaves just two more loanees still with football to play this season. Jonny Evans was part of the Sunderland side that lost 2-0 to a Bolton side scrapping for survival, a result that angered manager Roy Keane. It’s unlikely Evans’ status as a prime transfer target for Keano this summer will have been affected however (especially as the Ulsterman could not be faulted for either Bolton goal). The Black Cats host Arsenal on the final day of the season (this Sunday). Meanwhile, somewhat under the radar is Manucho Gonçalves, the Angolan frontman signed in January from Petro Atletico who so impressed at the African Cup of Nations earlier in the year. We’ve not covered his loan spell at Panathinaikos largely because he hasn’t been getting a sniff of a game out there, but after a goal in early April against Larissa, Manucho got a start in the Greek capital club’s Super League playoff match against Panionios this weekend and responded with a brace (see the goals here) to give his side a crucial away win (one which puts them level with AEK Athens at the top of the standings). Couple more games to go so we’ll monitor his progress – talk is he’ll join up with the squad for pre-season in July, fingers crossed on the work permit.
Finally, a brief international interlude to update on Robert Brady‘s participation in the Euro U17 Finals in Turkey. Ireland kicked off their campaign against France on Sunday and Brady started promisingly as the Irish took the lead, but a muscle twinge forced him off ten minutes into the second half and he could only weatch as the French levelled and then cruelly snatched the win two minutes into injury time through Alexandre Lacazette. You can read an interview with Robbie reflecting on that match and the two matches still to come on uefa.com.