Fergie’s Afro

This past week saw a return to the domestic scene once again, beginning with a trip to Old Trafford. Manchester United were taking on Southampton, another team enjoying a surprising run of form in their first season back in the Barclays Premier League after an 8-year absence.

I went for a walk around the ground before the match, taking in some different sights to those usually experienced on a matchday. A mask of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson wearing an afro wig in reference to Marouane Fellaini stood out for me. Most of the merchandise and souvenirs available in the official club shops are the same wherever you go throughout the country…replica playing shirts, tracksuits, mugs etc. are par for the course. However, the unofficial stalls located around the grounds usually offer something with a bit more imagination, or at least with a bit more of a sense of humour. The mask of Fergie with the Fellaini wig on top certainly made me chuckle…he just looks so happy with himself…

 

A mask of Sir Alex Ferguson, topped off with a Marouane Fellaini-style afro wig
A mask of Sir Alex Ferguson, topped off with a Marouane Fellaini-style afro wig

 

Once the game got under way, Man Utd looked in control, and Robin van Persie opened the scoring for them, going around the goalkeeper and slotting the ball home after a Wayne Rooney effort had been foiled. Unfortunately, the score didn’t stay that way, with the visitors equalising late on. And no, not at the end I was sitting at…

 

Robin van Persie scores the 1st goal for Man Utd against Southampton
Robin van Persie scores the 1st goal for Man Utd against Southampton

 

Robin van Persie of Man Utd controls the ball on his chest
Robin van Persie of Man Utd controls the ball on his chest

 

The next day led me to Villa Park in Birmingham, where Aston Villa were hosts to Tottenham Hotspur. Not only was it a fairly important match, but it was the only game of the day, which meant it was swamped with media personnel, many of whom may not have bothered had there been something else on.

I ‘doubled up’ with Marc Atkins, another photographer freelancing for Offside. We decided on a our strategy for shooting the match, which was to cover an end each in the 1st half, before I moved to the sideline in the 2nd half to focus on Spurs’ manager Andre Villas-Boas, known for his animated touchline behaviour. Between the two of us, I feel we covered the match well. Marc got the goals and celebrations that happened at his end, along with the incident involving a smoke bomb hitting the linesman. Meanwhile, I managed to  capture the talking points that happened at my end…

 

Ashley Westwood of Villa fouls Lewis Holtby of Spurs with a bad tackle to the ankle
Ashley Westwood of Villa fouls Lewis Holtby of Spurs with a bad tackle to the ankle

 

Jan Vertonghen of Spurs battles with Libor Kozak of Villa
Jan Vertonghen of Spurs battles with Libor Kozak of Villa

 

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas celebrates their 2nd goal and, ultimately, their victory
Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas celebrates their 2nd goal and, ultimately, their victory

 

Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan looks dejected as his side slide to defeat
Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan looks dejected as his side slide to defeat

 

The next evening, I made my way to Merseyside, to cover Everton’s U21 match against Manchester United. This was the perfect chance to fill up on stock pictures of tomorrow’s stars, the juniors who have come through the ranks and are destined for Premier League football in the very near future…

 

Everton's senior manager Roberto Martinez watches the U21 match from the stands
Everton’s senior manager Roberto Martinez watches the U21 match from the stands

 

A grid of stock pictures from the Everton U21 vs. Man Utd U21 match at Goodison Park
A grid of stock pictures from the Everton U21 vs. Man Utd U21 match at Goodison Park

 

The next day was spent in Manchester, photographing Man Utd’s training session and press conference prior to their UEFA Champions League match with Real Sociedad on Wednesday. Having not photographed David Moyes individually since his arrival at the club, I made it my duty to ensure I had the press conference covered (not something I’d usually stay for, depending on the players which are their to talk as well). The training session was held at their Carrington complex just a few miles from Old Trafford, on the outskirts of the city. We were given the normal 15 minutes there, and managed about the same during the presser a few hours later (which was shot at 1/400th sec at f/2.8 at 3200 ISO!!…

 

Robin van Persie speeds past his teammates during the training session
Robin van Persie speeds past his teammates during the training session

 

Robin van Persie talks to Man Utd manager David Moyes
Robin van Persie talks to Man Utd manager David Moyes

 

Man Utd strikers Robin van Persie (R) and Wayne Rooney
Man Utd strikers Robin van Persie (R) and Wayne Rooney

 

Marouane Fellaini flicks a training vest up in the air
Marouane Fellaini flicks a training vest up in the air

 

Man Utd manager David Moyes speaks during the press conference
Man Utd manager David Moyes speaks during the press conference

 

Man Utd manager David Moyes looks concerned during the press conference
Man Utd manager David Moyes looks concerned during the press conference

 

Man Utd manager David Moyes smiles during the press conference
Man Utd manager David Moyes smiles during the press conference

 

The following evening, I made my way back to Manchester for the match. Real Sociedad, a team based in the town of San Sebastian in northern Spain, were the visitors.

In a bid to improve the much-maligned atmosphere inside the ground, a new singing section inside the stadium was being trialled that evening. To warm themselves up for a noisy night, fans marched to the ground with flags and banners before the match. It seemed to work…not only did they keep it going throughout the 90 minutes, but the team also won the match, to keep themselves top of Group A…

 

Man Utd fans march to the stadium before the match
Man Utd fans march to the stadium before the match

 

Wayne Rooney strikes an early shot against the post, leading to Man Utd's goal
Wayne Rooney strikes an early shot against the post, leading to Man Utd’s goal

 

Luis Antonio Valencia of Man Utd battles with Alberto De La Bella of Sociedad
Luis Antonio Valencia of Man Utd battles with Alberto De La Bella of Sociedad

 

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernanez of Man Utd comes close to getting a boot in the head
Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernanez of Man Utd comes close to getting a boot in the head

 

Wayne Rooney of Man Utd lies on the grass as he reflects on a missed opportunity
Wayne Rooney of Man Utd lies on the grass as he reflects on a missed opportunity

 

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