Manchester United's da Silva celebrates scoring against Queens Park Rangers during their English Premier League soccer match in London

The ‘Theater of Dreams’ too quiet for Manchester United supporters

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Apparently the “Theater of Dreams” has not been very dreamy of late.

Manchester United, eager to bring the club in line with the ebullient atmospheres of European clubs, has hired a “specialist” to help provide an extra boost at Old Trafford. The audio consultant, who was present at the stadium for United’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool this past January, is planing to attend another match before the season is out.

The impetus for bringing in the specialist are the nearly 15,000 fans who pack Old Trafford’s famed Stretford End, who have become increasingly crestfallen with the lack of noise inside the nation’s largest stadium. “There were supporters in the Stretford End who thought they had made a lot of noise only for friends in different parts of the ground to say they couldn’t hear them,” a United source told the Manchester Evening News.

The club initially tried to tackle the problem by creating a ‘singing section’ in the newly-named Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. The section was planned to be similar to the ‘Red Action’ section at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. While many may laugh at the idea that United was taking atmosphere tips from group in a stadium renowned for its modern comfort and not it’s operatic noise, the Red Devils were nevertheless forced to scrap the plan due to safety and security fears.

Like most crowd issues in England, it all comes back to the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster. Specifically, United feared that housing fans in the top tier could cause the stand to “flex” during active unifying celebrations like Manchester City’s ‘Poznan’ adaptation. United claim they continue to remain committed to moving away supporters from their current location but the task is proving difficult.

United supporters blame the hushed atmosphere at Old Trafford on the increase of corporate and tourist guests. There’s little doubt that this issue is affecting not only Old Trafford but every major sporting venue across the globe. Rising ticket prices and a slumped economy mean that only those with the deepest pockets can afford to attend a match. And those flush with cash much prefer to sit quietly in the stands with their peacoat buttoned high, legs crossed and silk scarf blowing in the wind. These gentlemen aren’t ripping off their shirts and belting out supporters chants.

But in England the problem is much deeper than snooty and potentially disinterested guests. The problem begins and ends with ridiculously tight security. Yellow Jackets flood the aisles, diffusing any potential for uproar between opposing fans even when it’s harmless banter. Merely standing up at a Premier League game puts you at risk of being removed. Heck, taking pictures with your camera phone can land you in trouble. Banners aren’t permitted to be flown freely and instead must be strategically placed against cement walls.

Fact is, the security at Premier League matches isn’t changing and the atmosphere at Old Trafford will never be like Galatasaray’s Turk Telekom Arena or Red Star Belgrade’s Marakana Stadium. But advancements can be made. And more than anything it’s up to the supporters to band together, figure out the security loopholes and access them. Maybe it’s time United supporters looked to their brothers across the pond in places like Portland and Seattle, where some pretty notable “specialist” lay.

Newcastle’s Krul on crutches after injury in Dutch win

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Tim Krul of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.

Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.

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Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.

Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.

The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.

McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.