Wednesday, 31 December 2008

FLOM'S YEAR IN REVIEW!--2008, THE YEAR FOR MANCHESTER UNITED!















































































Incredibly, the only major trophy United did not win in 2008 was the FA Cup (Who cares about the Super Cup). So successful we were this past year that tales will be told to our great grandchildren of how EVDS saved all spot-kicks against Chelsea in the Community Shield such that the scoreline read an emphatic 3-0 victory.
Tales will be told of how Ryan Giggs scored a title winning goal on the last day of the season to win us our 10th league crown. Hilarious tales will be told about John Terry who slipped at the most crucial minute of his life to literally hand United the European Cup. And of course big tales will be told of how United travelled to to the Far Eat to conquer the world.
2008 was a fantastic year for Manchester United and all who are associated with it.
It was the 50th anniversary since the tragic Munich air disaster and the day was rightfully honoured on Feb 6. From then on, it was destiny that shaped our season. Paul Scholes got the goal that enabled him to play in the Champions League final. We won the league on the last day of the season to make it perfect 10 for Sir Alex and one less than the Scousers.
The Busby Babes worked fate in our favour and we lifted the giant trophy for the third time.
In the year 2000, after our victory in the Inter-continental cup, United was ranked the strongest club in the world. Eight years on and United are officially the world's best following our victory in the World Club Cup.
If I wasn't shading tears of joy, I would go on and on about the year we have just had. It certainly is the most successful year this club has seen to date given the level of modern day football and I'm thankful that I have lived to enjoy every minute of it! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SIR ALEX AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

BERBA TO THE RESCUE--BUT...MAN UNITED VS MIDDLESBROUGH REVIEW!


So United create close to 30 chances but take a painful one--whatever happened to destroying opponents. Nonetheless, United did get the job done--Dimitar Berbatov lashing home the only goal of the game after 69 minutes.
Now firstly, I was not impressed with Sir Alex's squad selection as I thought that Anderson and Nani each deserved at least a place on the bench. For the first time in quite a while, United's bench looked depleted. The only 'game changers' we had were Paul and Ryan. Thankfully, they did change the game for us.
Secondly, and more worryingly, United are not scoring with a frequency that defines the club. For the fourth time in 5 games, we win 1-0 and yet these are supposed to be the games in which we compensate our impotence in front of goal earlier in the season. Cristiano Ronaldo is trying too hard to score and yet goals came his way last season even when he didn't want them. He had half a dozen chances in the first-half but still couldn't find the back of the net. His contribution last season means that unlike most wingers, he will be judged basing on how many he scores and that is going to affect the rest of the players on pitch as well. His body language when he was being substituted told a lot. He was already fighting a battle with Pogatez on pitch and was unlucky not to win a penalty--not surprising as this was the same ref who denied him a clear spot-kick when Distin knocked him out in the FA Cup quarterfinal last season. The boy should watch his head as he's just 23 and there are many more years for him to....well...score goals.
Ronaldo wasn't the only culprit yesterday as Vidic, Berbatov, Carrick, etc all missed good chances. Park went one better and helped himself to a miss of the season contender. He was lucky that the linesman flagge him offsside. I'd like to see Carrick improve his accuracy in front of goal and without taking a second touch on the ball. If the goals are shared out ore evenly then Ronado might just get rid of one or two man markers.
I'd also like Berba to be in the 6 yard box more often to tuck away goals such as the one he put away yesterday. It was an important goal and I daresay, his most important for us so far. Those are 2 big contributions for 2 wins over the festive season.
Then of course it seems that our defence has come of form finally as we have now gone 7 games without letting in a goal in the league. If we keep it up at the back, then 1-0 wins might just do!

Monday, 29 December 2008

THE SEASON STARTS HERE--MAN UNITED VS MIDDLESBROUGH PREVIEW!


As I had already blogged here, I missed the Boxing Day fixture as I was away on a small holiday but it's quite a shame to read that Wayne and Ronaldo were for the 100th time guilty of vviolent conduct during the game at the Britannia Stadium.
Somebody has got to do something to those lads otherwise we could be in for a couple of needless suspensions. Rooney has today come out to suggest that he does not lose his temper as often as we people think and I'd like to believe him, but I don't think a committte like the one that handed that ban to Evra would sympathise with him if the FA actually get to review the incident. The two recently survived punishment from UEFA and the FA respectively but for how long shall this go on. I've always stressed the role played by technology in the modern game. Future opponents for instance can grt their hands on such videos and work to frustrate the player in question so as to force a red card from the ref. Do not be suprised for instance if Mourinho uses such tactics to have it his way when we met them in the CL. Hopefully Sir Alex will take note!
Anyhow, for us the season starts here. Manchester United have it in themselves to go on from here and lift the leage title even when they are 3 games behing their rivals. William Hill has installed United as title favourites ahead of their game against Boro at OT and that should go a long way in explaining the potentiaal of this team. It's a congested fixture list for us next month but again this is the part of the season when the real Manchester United steps up. We have not yet hit our highest gear and yet at the half-way stage, we are within touching distance of the summit. That should give us the incentive to drive in full speed to the finish-line. If there is any motivation that Sir Aex or the players need, it's that their failure will almost certainly hand Liverpool their long awaited title--and that is what Sir Alex set out to halt so many years ago!
We do not have Rio for now so I guess Evans will deputise while O' Shea will again deputise for Evra. Berbatov should start ahead of Tevez, though the latter should never be left on bench for over 70 minutes. I wish to see Anderson play central midfield more and more as he knows how to do it best.
Regardless of the team put out, we have to win this to start the long journey back to the top of the league--where this football club belongs!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

HAH! SO MUCH FOR JET-LAG!


I was away on holiday so I missed our game against Stoke on Boxing Day. I was grateful to learn that in the end, we got all 3 points and my word, weren't they important. Tevez got our goal thanks to a bright pass from Berbatov. Anyhow, many pundits didn't give United a prayer following their escapades in Japan so hope that was a good 'right-back at you for them.' More on all that when I recover from this holiday hangover.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

WHEN VIDIC GETS SENT OFF IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, DOES HE MISS A PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURE BECAUSE OF THE RED CARD?--ANOTHER CASE OF INJUSTICE!


FIFA and UEFA will claim that Nemanja Vidic is representing UEFA and therefore his red card in Japan should be transferred to his European domain. It's a questionable decision that because Vida will never miss a League game after getting a red card in Europe. Worse still, it's a competition that Inter Milan is not participating in so is it fair? Now we know that the FA has something in common with UEFA or is it FIFA?
Meanwhile, Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has wasted no time in playing mind-games ahead of the clash with United at the San Siro in February. Apparently to him Ibrahimovic is a better player than the footballer of the year, C. Ronaldo. All I can say to that is that it's quite unfortunate that's coming from him. Somethings are just too embarrassing to utter--I mean who would have complained if he had said that Ibra is better than Dong Fanghuzo?
Then there is the bit of wanting Wayne banned for the challenge against Aalborg especially given that Essien was banned for 3 matches for serious foul play when he was manger of Chelsea. Somebody tell the Special one that there is a difference between accident and intent and it's easy to see that on T.V! Maybe he quite hasn't got the English very well.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

IT'S OFFICIAL--MANCHESTER UNITED ARE THE BEST CLUB SIDE IN THE WORLD!--LDU QUITO VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!




Was there really any doubt? Manchester United are officially the best club side in the world. United hoisted the trophy after overcoming LDU Quito in the final to complete a year of tremendous achievement.
Firstly, (and as usual), the bad points.
What the hell was Vidic thinking elbowing an opponent? I mean after watching Wayne Rooney kicking an opponent in the semi, we now have Vida as a culprit. That makes it 4 games in a row that a United player is going into the papers for alleged violent conduct. To be fair to him, he's not the kind who will do what he did as often as Wayne will but that was utterly unnecessary and my word it could have cost us the title--who knows, it might still cost us the Champions League this season as he will definitely miss at least one game (Inter away), or even worse, UEFA could extend it to three! If Brown is not fit by then, Wouldn't like to imagine the likes of Ibrahimovic or Adriano against Johnny Evans. The boy is good but a slight detail could overwhelm him. Anyway, that's to worry about in the future.
Performance-wise, the lads put on a great show and I was happy to finally watch a game this season when we haven't lost concentration. Long may that continue. If Rafael can play in a game of this magnitude and not be fazed by it, then I believe that we have got an alternative first choice right-back.
Wayne did well upfront--especially when he was on his own. It was a well taken goal and nobody jumped higher than me when that went in. Their goalkeeper was having a blinder until then. He deserved every award he got. Ronaldo did just about enough to see us home. It was is pass that led to our goal and he kept the opposition busy defending so that they attacked us less. I thought that Tevez was unlucky not to score and not to finish the game. He's certainly up there with the best players in the world and I pray he stays at United till he grows white hair! EVDS did his job well. He kept out all that was hurled at him and he certainly gets a 10 from me. If he can pull off such saves at his age, then we might as well sign him on for another 4 years!
The challenge of adjusting back to British time is on for our players as we travel tomorrow to prepare for our trip to the Britannia stadium. It's a marathon for our players. There is hardly room for rest, but that's the sweat you have to break if you want to walk by your trophy cabinet and view the The League, Champions League and World Cup in it!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

AND NOW THE FINAL--LDU QUITO VS MANCHESTER UNITED PREVIEW!


By the turn of mid- January, Manchester United will have taken part in up to 8 different tournaments (I regard the Community shield as one too). It will be quite a shame if we do not lift at least a trio of those trophies on the back of a season we've just had. We've already won the Shield but we lost the Super Cup in alarming fashion. We've got the Carling Cup in our sights and the Champions League can still be negotiated. Unfortunately for us, the league is now more tightly contested and that is why we've got to make our games in hand count. So why not lift the CWC so as to get the feeling of success mid-way the season. I feel that this victory will spur on the players to hunt for more titles in the new year.
We did just about enough to see off Gamba Osaka but I feel that we need to defend better if we are to overcome Quito. If I were Fergie, I would change little of the team that won the semi. Anderson, I feel merits a starting berth. Unfortunately he wont! Gary will be replaced by Rafel and I'd hope that Wayne and Tevez lead the line as they will surely give the opposition something to think about--a combination of power, skill and vision. I'd like to think that Carrick and Scholes cannot be paired in the middle as they both do the same job. One of the two should start with the other coming off the bench. Fletcher however has taken to the mould of Carrick as he looks to pass the ball more rather than win it back for us. Though he has plunged in vital goals for us because of his attack mindedness, it has left us short of a holding midfielder. That has accounted for many of the gaols we have conceded. It's why I prefer Anderson to start as he's hardly bothered about scoring but rather can win the ball and pass it just as good as any of our midfield lads. Park should and will start as he's got that lucky charm about him--United is hardly defeated when he has started--it's why Fergie says leaving him out of the CL final was Fergie's hardest decision.
Anyhow, enough of the squad selection, United have got to get their act together and make our journey to Japan worth it!

Friday, 19 December 2008

THE FINAL HAS COME TOO EARLY FOR UNITED--UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16 DRAW REVIEW!


Well wouldn't you just know it! I blogged earlier on in the preview for this draw that United could take on any other side in the draw but Inter Milan. Much as the lads from Italy are a beatable side over two legs, many factors are going to work against United such that it will be one of their biggest achievements to see off Jose's Inter at this stage.
Ideally, Inter by Feb will be almost certainly Champions of Italy for a fourth time in 4 years and so their focus will be solely on this tie. Secondly, it's the Jose Mourinho X-factor. Here is one man who knows exactly how to beat Manchester United. If there is one manager whom Fergie respects because of his tactical knowledge of the game, it's Mourinho. It's why he never got into mind-games with him whilst at Chelsea. He left that to Wenger and Benitez, and the two only know best what they got from the arrogant Portuguese's dictionary of insults!
Their tactical discipline might just be the difference as I'm quite confident that this tie will be short of plenty of goals. It's going to be more like the 2005/06 season when we played Milan and lost both legs narrowly. United have not shown the kind of tactical discipline to win difficult games so far. In fact, I can only point out our victory over the Bitters as our only show of tactical discipline. So many times this season, we have conceded goals due to lack of concentration so that's another another area of worry.
I'm not saying that the tie is way beyond United as we certainly aren't pushovers ourselves. But what we have to do is something like the we sorted out Barcelona at the Camp Nou and mix that with how we played in the return leg of the semi at home--all in one game! We've certainly ever done that and the reward was big. That was the only time we beat Chelsea in the league under Mourinho. Darren Fletcher scoring a memorable goal and my goodness what a contribution he'll make if he lives up to his big-game player tag. This time would side with Fergie and start him!

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LAST 16 DRAW--PREVIEW!


It will be somewhere around 11PM in the night when Manchester United players on the other side of the globe, get to know their fate in the last 16 of this season's CL. Having said that, you can bet that none will go to bed without knowing who they face in the unforgiving knock-out phase of the Champions League.
We finished top of our group so logically, we are supposed to have an easy last 16 tie--unfortunately, this season will firmly put an exception to that ideology. There were as many top teams that finished top as there were that finished second in their respective groups.
Consequently, United can meet the likes of Inter Milan and Real Madrid as early as Feb and from an objective view, one would assert that the final has come too early.
The official website recently ran a poll in which fans were asked who they fancied in the last 16. Not surprisingly, Sporting Lisbon came out on top as they are the simplest side we can face in the draw. Real Madrid came second but after last night's press release about Ronaldo, you can bet that many are now hopping that Platini can do them the favour of pitting United against the struggling Spanish outfit--what will be viewed as a chance to settle their differences the football way after many a war of words between the two clubs. More on that after the draw..
Athletico Madrid and Lyon and are the other possible opponents. The Madrid side are definitely the side I want us to avoid as they have the recipe for shock results. They are the mould of the replica for the FC Porto side that won the competition in 2004.
Speaking of that Porto side, we could also be paired with Mr. Jose Mouthrinho! What a match that would be--a chance for Sir Alex to prove himself against Mour in a European tactics game! But I'm sure he wouldn't be looking forward to it. Inter are definitely the toughest team we could face especially when you look at their position in the Serie A. Whilst we shall be trying to make ground in our own league, they could have virtually wrapped up theirs by the end of February. So CROSS YOUR FINGERS LADS! IT'S AT 11.00 HRS GMT

Thursday, 18 December 2008

UNITED IN THE FINAL!--GAMBA OSAKA VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!




Manchester United booked themselves a place in Sunday's CWC final after seeing off J-League outfit Gamba Osaka this afternoon(well it was late in the evening in Japan).
Goals by Vidic, Ronaldo, Rooney, and Fletcher put us into the final against Ecuador's LDU Quito.
Firstly, I was impressed with our attacking play. I think Tevez was a handful for them and I'm beginning to rate this lad even higher than Wayne Rooney! Yes I said it! His turns and passing were top notch today and I'm beginning to wonder where we would be now if his pre-season form was given a chance to continue into the new league season. He had a goal incorrectly disallowed and it was his brilliance upfront that created for us many of our goalscoring opportunities.
It was nice to see Vida score again this season--that's 4 now and you would think that is already enough a contribution for a season from a centre-back.
In almost similar circumstances, Ronaldo got us a second just before halftime and as it has been all season, when the game looked won, United went for a passing vacation. We let them back in the game and although we scored three more afterwards, Gamba were again let in when it seemed we were finally there. It was a shame to concede cheap goals after defending so well in the first half. I'll excuse that to the departure of Vidic. Neville certainly had his best match for the club since returning from injury but he was twice guilty of handling in the box. Luckily for us, only one went punished.
I think that Anderson does merit a starting berth in our team. He certainly does hold the midfield better than Scholes or Fletcher. So the veteran should stick to the pass and the young lad can do the tackling--besides, he does know how to spread the ball forward. Anderson has the ability and experience (can you believe) to get the job done!
EVDS did well yet again. He certainly saved us from Modric and Bently over the weekend and today, he pulled off a couple of outstanding saves that kept us in command of the game. He is certainly worth a new contract!
Now then, what in the Far East was Wayne thinking kicking at an opposing player in a tussle for a 50=50 ball? Sometimes you lose your sympathy for this guy. I mean it's one thing being fast and furious back in England but why travel half-way across the globe to kick the hell out of....?
I mean we were well and truly in a comfortable position so there was no need to show such emotions. He was lucky not to get sent off and Fergie has his hands full as far as calming the temper of England's only star.
And just as I'm about to pen-off, news breaks that Real Madrid have 'landed' Cristiano Ronaldo. Isn't there something else that journalists can feed on or are they just anticipating Friday's CL draw that will pit United against Real?

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT THE CLUB WORLD CUP---GAMBA OSAKA VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!



It has never occurred to me that one day I would post a preview for a competitive game in Japan. Anyhow, United flew out to Japan late on Thursday to take their place in the FIFA Club World Cup. It's amazing how many ABUS(Anyone But United Supporters) have commented about this trip. The likes of Graeme Souness have come out to say that the competition is a complete waste of time. It's amazing that these are the same lads who will cheer on their teams in the CL this season, unaware that winning the most prestigious trophy in club football means taking part in this competition. It's not like United are taking off a break in between the season. It's compelling and besides, it is to me a prestigious competition. Nobody dislikes being a World Champion.
United take on Gamba Osaka and I hear that while we were labouring to win our final on penalties, this team won their CL final against Adelaide United 5-0! That should not necessarily send alarm bells off in the United camp but it should alert one or two complacent heads about the threat that they pose. Everybody wants to claim a scalp of United saw our games are usually harder than the rest. Looking forward to a better game than Saturday's.
Now, it was good news that Rooney was cleared following his alleged stamping in the CL against Aab Alborg but in all honesty, it was an accident. Unfortunately, Ronaldo is now being investigated for kicking at Dawson. Now Fergie has to get his house in order as this could be Ronaldo's second suspension in less than a month. Funny enough, the boss is also fresh from a 2 game suspension. These suspensions could account for how we perform come the end of the season. Somebody should tell the lads to keep their heads --Oh! And the boss too--that's if you can step in his office with such an argument!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

ANOTHER LET OFF FOR THE TABLE-LEADERS--TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR V MAN UNITED REVIEW!


Let's just put it this way, we failed to win our most important game of the season. Sir Alex and the boys knew too well that Liverpool and Arsenal had earlier dropped points and so it was down to us to punish them for it. Unfortunately, and yet again, we've let the leaders have it their way. There are not many weekends when all our rivals will drop points so this was a mega-let down. It's true are quite a difficult team to beat these days as they have cost our other rivals points but that cannot explain the sloppy football on show yesterday. I personally lost count of the miss-placed passes from our lads. In fact I can confidently assert that save for the goalkeeper, every other United player had a miss placed pass to his name! It quite embarrassing on many occasions. We are the European Champions and so we have to give a good account of ourselves more consistently.
To be fair to the lads, Gomes had a blinder for Spus (after emptying his stock of howlers). But we did not do ourselves any favours in restricting ourselves to occasional attacks. It's only fair to say that Spurs had as many clear-cut chances as we had. In fact, EVDS was, in many ways, the hero for us today. He pulled off at least 3 world-class saves to keep us level.
Much as it was nice to watch an away game without having Ronaldo booed by opposition fans, the lad is not doing much to help United's cause of late. I wonder if the marking has got tighter on him but he is the only player allowed to roam anywhere on pitch given his free role. That should be enough to get him going. I think he's so busy collecting awards that he can't concentrate fully on the game. World Soccer magazine has also honoured him and we're anticipating that top FIFA prize in January. Could all this be getting to his head? To be fair to him, it's hard to be what he was last season and he's still young but I wish he could diversify his style a little bit as he's becoming too predictable. It was wise of him to let Giggs take that free-kick and it nearly paid off.
Now I do not understand why Fergie has stuck on to Fletcher in the middle. The lad is, to me, strictly for big games. That was the situation earlier on the season. I would like to see Anderson play more in the holding role as he is the most natural in that position. There is no point in having Fletcher doing the ball spreading as we already have Carrick and the lad is not good at tackling too. (Rather, he does not want to tackle).
Then, it hit me hard to see Fergie take off Tevez and yet the lad was a consistent thorn in the Spurs defence. Park was tired and he should have gone off. Tevez clearly was compensating for Berba's immobility upfront. He was the tormentor in chief and I thought that he linked up well with Ronaldo especially in the first half. Surely Giggs was never going to do the running and hustling that Tev was doing. It was for me, a poor substitution. It should have been Park off, Giggs on. Of course the result now leaves us in a delicate position. It surely is down to how bad our rials perform. But again, when they do poorly like yesterday, we should take the chance!
We play in mid-week in the Club World Cup and it has to be said, the opposition is quite formidable. Pachuca are the side that will give us a hard time. But that will only be if we get to the final next Sunday.
Anyhow, the game is on Thursday at 10.45 Universal Time. It's kind of great to be United fan this season. Even when there is no mid-week football, our club is in action! We are guaranteed 2 games a week--and in some incredible venues..now, it's Tokyo in the YOKOHAMA STADIUM!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

THE MOST IMPORTANT GAME OF OUR SEASON---TOTTENHAM VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!



The club, Manchester United has already played the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Man City,but Sir Alex Ferguson has branded today's fixture against Spurs as our most important game of the season. Ideally, those are not the kind of words we fans would like to hear as our squad is somewhat depleted going into this fixture. Berbatov--a player who will get stick from former fans--is doubtful but at least I can bet my shoes that he will play today! Wayne Rooney is suspended and so is Patrice Evra. Brown is still out injured and Carrick has a 50% chance of sitting out. In short, it may not be the side that anyone of us would pick for a game. Spurs have already cost Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool points so something does tell you that they will know how to get the job done. They've got this pacy counter-attack that I think will provide for an entertaining game--the question is shall we come out on top?
United do have a good record at White Harte Lane but last season, this was one of the grounds where we dropped points.
The main issue however is that we fly to Japan on Sunday and will therefore fall another game behind come next weekend. Fergie feels that if we go to the far East when we have dropped points, it will dent our title hopes come the new year as we shall be far behind our title rivals. I buy his view and so should all United fans. The fans who will make the journey to the capital should cheer on our lads as though it were the CL final as I think that this game could define our season. Come on United! GOOD NEWS THAT EVDS WILL BE AROUND FOR ANOTHER YEAR!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

UNITED EASE THROUGH TO LAST 16 BUT...--MAN UNITED VS AALBORG REVIEW!




As expected, Manchester United did win their CL group and will therefore go into next Friday's draw as a top seed and play the second leg of their knock-out tie at home.
Now firstly, it was disappointing to lose our winning record in Europe against such opposition. Then, it was disappionting to lose goals the way we did. On a whole, our defense is the one element that does not look as good as last season. The goals conceded in the Carling Cup against Blackburn and yesterday should go a long way in exposing our frailties. Much as it was not that much of an important game, United must be aware that in the modern era, technology plays a part in how teams approach games. Any coach can use a video of one of those games and plot a coup--much to the team's astonishment. I'm particularly worried for our right-back slot as even Rafael may not be able to stand up to big and pacy forwards who may want to impose themselves. Much does depend on how fast Wes Brown can return as he was the unsung hero of our Double act.
John O'Shea does not give the slightest hope as far as replacing Evra is concerned for the next 5 weeks. His height is an asset and I think it's better he stays back and lets Rafael do the marauding. The games coming up in the next few weeks are not difficult but the opposition are the type that can take their chances. That brings me to another area of concern. This season, United have already created enough chances to win the league but unfortunately, we have taken few. I thought that the price tag was a little heavy on Berba's head so that could explain why he has not been putting chances away. So Tevez should find it easier...well it seem that may not be the case afterall. Tevez could have one the game for us within five minutes. He had 4 very good goalscoring opportunities last night but only took one--which to me was the hardest. Credit to him, he does create most of them for himself unlike the Bulgarian but the bottom line is that neither takes them. He looked very composed infront of goal against Blackburn and that is the composure that we can only hope for going into the weekend's game with Spurs. It' gonna be a hell of a tough game for us!
Now the draw for the last 16 is going to be the most fatal in he history of this competition. I 've already put my money on a tie against Real Madrid but can you believe that we can still play Inter-Milan! Mr. Jose has already accounted for a United exit in Europe so I doubt He'll be doing us any favours if we draw them. Ideally, the easiest tie on paper can be a tie with Sporting Lisbon--Oh How I Wish!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

VIDA TO THE RESCUE-- MAN UNITED VS SUNDERLAND REVIEW!




HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!



If there was one negative that I can pick from yesterday's fixture, it is that I lost my voice! It's one thing playing against a team with 5 aacross the back and it's another playing against one that has 11 across the back. Sunderland came to OT quite simply looking for aa point--and waht better chance does one stand at geeting it besides defending. Thank goodness for Vida's presence of mind to be at the far post!
Interestingly, a good number of tabloids are branding the win as a 'lucky one'-- I mean even Stevie Wonder could see that it was Sunderland that were lucky to come off the park with only a goal conceded.
PERFORMANCE:
It must have been too small a game for Darren Fletcher as he had no ideas when the ball came to him. He couldn't have come off sooner.
Rafael continues to do just enough to merit his place in the starting line-up. He does have this attacking mentality that gives us an alternative. He crossed the ball yesterday from the right numerous times. One would be forgiven for thinking that he was playing wide right!
There was nothing wrong with our defence yesterday quite simply because nothing was coming their way. Fergie has revealed that he played Vida upfront in the second half as there was nothing hurting us at the back--I mean Sunderland was that pathetic!
Van der Sar did well in Central Midfield--passing it up to the strikers at every opportunity.
Carrick has re-invented himself. It seems he has developed the confidence to shoot from range. It's no coincidence that he was our player of the month of November. He has scored a couple in the recent past and my word hasn't that paid off for us. It was his low drive that beat Fulop and crashed off the upright. Vidic benefited with a close range tap in in the 91st minute. What a relief! The celebrations were as vigorous as those witnessed when Anelka failed to beat Van der Sar from 12 yards in Moscow!
The win does keep us in the title race. Our title rivals had all won going into this fixture and that meant that we couldn't afford any slip up.
If we beat Spurs next week, we shall have given ourselves a staring point when we return from Japan. Unfortunately, we shall have to do that without Rooney and Evra. What luck!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

KEANE-LESS SUNDERLAND VISIT THE THEATRE OF DREAMS--MAN UNITED VS SUNDERLAND PREVIEW!


Before I get into anything concerning the preview, let me just add my voice to the millions of United fans who have expressed their dismay at the FA. Patrice Evra has been fined 15k and banned 4 matches for the incident involving him and the Chelsea groundsman after the penultimate clash between United and Chelsea last season. Well, quite simply, the FA just can't stand United lifting the title again this season. We all know what that can do to their market overseas. But what a shame! I'm one of those who believe that the Chelsea groundsman was racist towards Evra and therefore I would back him all the way. Evra's retaliation could not and should not have warranted a 4 match ban! mean--even throwing a coin back in the crowd has been deemed as a lesser offence. I wasn't so much in for the title before as I know it will be a tough call for any team to repeat success like what United had last season. But know I'm more eager to put the 18th over the FA to show them that they'd probably have to ban our entire team from the league before we can stop winning the title---to market their league.
Anyhow, United host managerless Sunderland today at tea-time. OB Roy Keane has left and so we can only feel sorry for the Black Cats. However, managerless teams have this tendency to play even better than when they had a coach. United had better be wary of that as it could cost us dear. Scholes won't play so Fletcher comes in. Evra collected his fifth yellow of the season last Sunday so he sits this out. I expect O'Shea to come into that department. Fergie knows best who to choose for the right-back slot. This one of those games where it cannot hurt us if we use the so called Fantastic 4 all in the same team. But that would be too extravagant if you ask Fergie. It's Sunderland and then Spurs before we fly out to Japan for a tournament that, well, makes it look like pre-season already! Here's to 6 points before departure! Chao!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

CARLITOS TEVEZ SPITS IN THE FACE OF A BLACKBURN SIDE THAT DIDN'T LOOK COOL--BUT DOES GARRY NEED A TESTIMONIAL?


What a hit!
Last night,Manchester United quite simply slept past Blackburn Rovers to ease through to the Carling Cup semi-finals. Carlos Tevez was undoubtedly the star of the show as he thumped 4 past Blackburn. The Argentinian has certainly reminded OT of what he is capable of (as though we had forgotten). Yesterday, we saw the burst of energy from a man who has been itching to get some football under his belt all season. He worked tirelessly as a lone striker but still managed to get his name on the score sheet 4 times. If Sir Alex's headache of selecting his forward line-up had eased, yesterday, his head must have taken a major knock. Carlos Tevez was quite simply, the Man of The Match--End of that story.
Now to more concerning issues--Blackburn scored 3 goals against us at OT. The same virus that attacked us when we were 4-1 up against Hull attacked us when we were 4-1 up.I wonder what happened to the spirit of beating teams 8-1 if they were too bad on the day. Somehow, these days we tend to feel sorry for our opponents when we go 4 up. United should learn that these opponents would not feel sorry if we were in their shoes.
Then there is the big issue of our captain fantastic--Mr. Garry Neville. Yes, he has been a legend at the club and a loyal servant since his childhood--but there comes a time when one must quit. Garry was poor in Central defence--I don't even know what he was doing there--but even when he has played in his right-back role this season, he has been just as poor. To be fair to the rest of our defenders, It is Garry who was at fault for all of Blackburn's goals. It will be quite a shame if we fans ignore his dip in form and try not to blame him. In this era of football, mistakes can be costly. I don't want it to take a major catastrophe before we give the lad a rest. Sure he can play games like Wednesday, but be sure that every Premier League manager now knows what to tell his players when they see Garry in the side. I wish he could pass on his knowledge to the young Rafael who can make more use of it than he can. Scholes makes his game look easy and that works to his advantage. Giggs has given up the running down the left wing and that has worked in his favour as well but as a defender, Garry may not have either option as he specialises in a territory where speed is key for opponents.
Andersson had a blinder of a game but only he knows why he didn't open his account for United. He was heavily involved in a move that I think produced one of the best team goals scored at the Stretford End since I was born(I'm not very young mind you!)
The bad bit about this win is that we now have two mid-weeks less in January as we try to look for a gap in which to play what will be by then 2 Premier League games in hand!
I say we take it one game at a time.
Next up it's Sunderland at home. We can't help it but pile more misery on Keano!

Monday, 1 December 2008

UNITED SEND SH-ITTY DOWN THE DRAIN--MAN CITY VS MAN UNHITED REVIEW!


Well wouldn't you just know it--after all the yap yap yatta yatta from the Wastelands throughout the week, United embarrassed their neighbours in their own backyard. What a performance. Don't get deceived by the scoreline, it could have been worse for the dippers. United played City well off the park and it just serves to explain how much work City is left with before they can start comparing themselves to a team that currently shelters both the League and the European Crown at OT.
City stepped up the pace in the second-half but that was down to Ronaldo's sending off.
It was nice to see Wayne get his 100th goal as I think it was playing on his mind for quite a bit--now we can see a more relaxed Wayne going for goal. Berbatov for me was the difference upfront. There is something about him that gives us very many options upfront. He held the ball upfront very well and that allowed us more opportunities. He was simply Berbatov! Carrick and Fletcher did well enough for me to neutralise the threat of Wright Phillips and Robinho.
Now, there is this kid called Rafael da Silva. What a performance! To walk into a hyped derby game and play more comfortably than senior players is testament to the ability of this boy. His forward runs were giving us an alternative upfront and he nearly claimed an assist. The more he plays, the more we ignore his defensive frailties. This is a lad who believes that the best form of defense is attack. This time, it might be Wes Brown who will be bitting his finger-nails as Rafael matures The right back slot is in good hands for some time.
I have been quite disappointed at the way we have defended in the past. Last season at this point, we had let in very few goals. This time however, it has been quite different. Vidic and Ferdinand have now kept it tight for 5 games in arow--long may that continue.Benjani has always found a way past Uniteds defence--even when at Pompey so the fact that he was restricted to no goal yesterday was testament to how well we defended.
Ronaldo's red card will rule him out of the Carling Cup but who said we needed him there in the first place? United have now got past the hardest part of their season. It's time to engage gear 5. Oh and Southampton away in the FA Cup is not so bad afterall! Cheers!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

SPARKY THINKS THAT IT'S GOING TO BE AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS--WHAT A SHAME!




I never intended to add anything to the preview I have already made for the weekend's derby but a little something has made it necessary that I rant again this weekend.
Speaking at a press Conference ahead of the Manchester derby, Mark Hughes said enough to suggest that: A. Citeh will surely do to United what they did to Arsenal last weekend and
B. The Bitters will surely be as big as United in the next two or three years.
Well how about that for total s**%t! Just to brush aside suggestion A quickly, United have never been an easy team to beat regardless of the opposition. Even the likes of Chelsea are forced to clear off their goal lines in the last second before they can celebrate a victory against us. So if City think this is another team with a whole load of problems in the dressing room, they are in for a spanking!
The second suggestion is rather more sensitive and delicate. It took Manchester United at least two and a half decades of sustained success to be as big a club as they are today. The success in the 50s and 60s certainly did come in handy and all that hard work has made the club what it is today. When I talk about a club being big, I mean having fans all over world--including the less popular destinations of the world. I'm not sure about elsewhere but here in Africa, you'd have to travel the entire length of the Sahara to find anybody clad in sky blue with the words 'Thomas Cook' imprinted on the shirt. In fact, I've been to most of the sub-Saharan countries countries but I'm yet to find a City shirt in any store on sale--I mean even the businessmen know where the money is--and it's not in Wastelands. It will take some kind of sustained success before some fans pledge their lives to such a club. In any case Sparky, I highly doubt you will be in charge when this happens.

Friday, 28 November 2008

IT'S THE CITY DERBY--MAN CITEH VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


United's third away game in 8 days is at the Wastelands. Manchester City have certainly proved themselves as formidable opponents for United in the past few seasons--hence adding more heat to a derby that needs no introduction.

The bitters did beat us last season home and away but all that was forgotten as United went on to have one of the most succesful seasons in the club's history. It must have hurt them, seeing us lift another European Cup and winning the league for a 17th time.

Forget last season, this season, the derby takes on a whole new meaning! Apparently, the arrival of Abu Dhabi has certainly given Manchester's rent boys hope of becoming the bigger team in Manchester. What a sorry lot they are!

Then there is the bit of landing one of the world football's best players in Robinho on the last day of the transfer market. It certainly has helped them as they are leading the bottom half of the table! HA HA HA !

Dimitar Berbatov senstionally chose to play for the red-half at the last minute instead of joining City. It was certainly a kick in the teeth for them--and how I would love it if the Bulgarian sticks one in the back of the net.

A lot has already been said ahead of this clash so I'll spare the verbal diarrhoea for now. What United do need though is a win that will see us pull away fro the immediate pack below us and move closer to the top two.

The other news coming out today is that we have secured a work permit for Torsc(sp). It's good to see that Fergie is still investing in this club--one wonders if he'll really quit in a couple of years as he claims. Chao!

THE WEEK THAT WAS....


I don't think I remember the last time United went on to draw 2 consecutive games 0-0. It spells a lot of 'shite' for a team to consistently come out with such results. So after 'escaping' with a point from Villa Park, United went on to play the same kind of' 'forgiving football' and let Villarreal escape with a draw on their own pitch. Much as we dominated them almost throughout the match, we should have punished them. We are in an era where the scoreline matters more than the performance--so that was disappointment number one!
Then there is the Nani question. This is supposed to have been the guy who replaced Cristiano Ronaldo this season (had the lad gone to Real Madrid). Nani is the only player in our ranks who can come close to whatever Ronaldo can do for United. He has all the skill available to him--the question is, does he have the brains? He did not justify his place in the line-up especially in the second half and I felt that he should have been replaced. I certainly know what Nani is capable of, it's just that he is not really giving it a go. His performace was disappointment number two!
Carlos Tevez is ideally the victim of Dimitar Berbatov's transfer to United. He has started more games on the bench, but I expected that he would at least be the first player off the bench for United. I do not understand why Fergie is constantly playing the other subs ahead of Tevez. I mean even Gibson gets off before him? Tevez and Rooney are as good as midfield players so it wasn't like he would leave the midfield depleted. That was my third and final disappointment on the night.
Otherwise I'd say that we did okay. Referees MUST start protecting Ronaldo as I get the feeling that his leg might just not hold out any longer one of these days. The punishment given to Capdevilla should be warning to those that go diving through the Madeira magician.
It's Citeh this Sunday! Somebody is going home with a bloody nose on the Sabbath!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

WE'VE GIVEN THE LEADERS A BIG LET-OFF--ASTON VILLA VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


It's not often that the so called 'big-four' fail to muster a goal between themselves in the same weekend. One might say that then nobody should feel down as every other team dropped--but Manchester United will. Chelsea were playing (their shite) without knowing that Liverpool was doing the same at Anfield. Arsenal of course were, well, I'm speechless. United on the other hand knew that all their rivals had dropped points before kick-off at Villa Park. It was hurting therefore thatwe were almost fearing to attack the Villains or villagers (call them what you like). There was impressive record that United had at that ground heading into the match--so we all expected something of the sort....well unfortunately, football does not always go according to the form book.
Fergie paired Rooney and Tevez upfront--our starting pair in our very successful season last year--not bad huh! I must say Tevez was not exactly into shape as he wasted a couple of good balls. Rooney himself must be suffering from the 99th goal syndromme--when you get there, you take ages to add on. He had our best chance of the game and only he knows why he had to go for power and I mean POWER! He should have scored.
Ronaldo was not getting any protection from the ref and so that nullified our main route to goal.
Let me save you the verbal rant and just say that it was a frustrating day at the office.
On the brighter note, this might just be a point gained for United. This Aston Villa side is not like the one that put up the white flag before half-time for the last 11 years. Secondly Brad Friedel is one of those goal-keepers that will hardly put a foot wrong when United come to town--so any hopes of a mistake at the other end were as good as absent. And we cannot rule out the fact that Villa themselves certainly could have had the goal they wanted as they had a good measure of shots on target. Credit to the Minister of Defence--Rio Ferdinand and his Deputy--Nemanja Vidic. Agbonlahor has given most defences a terrible time at the office so it was good to come out with a clean sheet.
It's a tough call on any team to play 3 away games in 8 days. We have to fly to Spain and play on Tuesday and then play the bitters away on Sunday. Hopefully it will be week to remember for us. Till then, yours truly is out!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

A LOT ABOUT THE KIDS!


Sir Alex yesterday fielded a Manchester United side that, regardless of injuries, showed one or two hints about about what is to come in the future. For starters, I thought he got the tactics right. Basing on the performance of Rafael in the game at the Emirates last week, he could have been tempted to start the young Brazilian. Credit to him he didn't, for the simple reason that the kid is barely my height(5'9). Stoke's secret weapon is basically aerial, so a lot of height in your team only helps youi counter it. It's why the gaffer selected the Irishman and Carrick and Fletcher--all who are above 6ft. It's no surprise that it was O'Shea who got his head first to one of Delap's long throws. At this point, credit must be given to the groundsman for digging up the pitch at the sides to make it steeper and henceforth make it hard for Delap to perfectly execute his 'assists'.
Jonny Evans is one of our beneficiaries of the Carling Cup but the times he has come in the first team, he has been as outstanding as any other senior player. He was one of our best players in the draw at Stamford Bridge and he did equally well yesterday against strikers twice his size. A rock for the future. Danny Welbeck showed why he is highly rated in the OT ranks with a thunderbolt of a strike that Cappello must have taken note of. He certainly fits the Manchester United grade and should therefore be a regular soon.
Gibson's power is well above his age and his contribution will not have gone unnoticed. United have been drawn against Blackburn in the Carling Cup but the quality of the players coming through the Academy suggests that Fergie should not worry about fielding them in the quarterfinal clash at OT. And then Fraizer Campbell dumped the Scousers out of the Carling Cup and then scored yesterday off the bench. It would be foolhardy to lose such a talented player. At this rate, the national team of England has a brighter future.

NOW THAT'S MORE LIKE MANCHESTER UNITED--MAN UNITED VS STOKE CITY REVIEW!


"It's good that we are making chances though, somebody is going to suffer"

Those were some of the words uttered by Sir Alex after watching his guns create firing opportunities but spurn all as United let Arsenal off the hook last Saturday. In truth, Manchester United has traditionally thrashed at least one team heavily each season they have played under Sir Alex and one can therefore understand the fiery Scott's confidence in the fact that United have been creating a lot of chances. I have been critical of the team recently for letting teams off the hook so easily this term but yesterday, United did not give Stoke a break. A 5-o scoreline is what many fans wanted as an 'apology' for what happened last week and it's exactly what they got--in some style too.
MATCH REPORT
Every time Cristiano Ronaldo stands over a free-kick, the majority of the Stretford End drop their shoulders. Ideally, we are used to the passing success of David Beckham so much so that we expect the lad to at least test the goalkeeper. This season though, the ball has come off the wall more times than the goalkeepers' gloves. So many could have been forgiven for taking off 5 seconds to look at their neighbours for the first time in the match instead of waiting for Ronaldo to let fly(for just 10 yards). The thing with the lad's free kicks is that when he gets them right, they are hard to stop--an inevitable goal at that. And wouldn't you just know it, Ronaldo scored his first goal for United from a free-kick and his 100th came from a free-kick. It was probably the perfect way to score it as it took the entire OT(including Stoke fans) by surprise. The Potters must be cursing their luck as to why Ronaldo got it right on two occasions against them. It was also good to see the Madeira magician re-ignite his goal-celebration zeal that many claim he had lost.
Many might not have noticed but Michael Carrick is certainly getting the feel of finding the back of the net. He has netted twice in the 3 games he's played since his injury. I've always admired an attacking midfielder who can create as well as score himself. If he keeps this up, then we shall reap big from another goal scoring threat on pitch. A well taken goal that, that won us the game before the break and made sure we came out from the locker room with other things in mind rather than a Stoke come-back.
Berba showed great composure and quickness to tuck a pass from Tevez away under pressure from a defender. It certainly does take a little pressure off him as many have questioned his failure to find the net regularly--as if there is anything wrong with creating goals.
It was wonderful to see Manucho make his Premier League debut alongside Danny Welbeck. And what a way to announce your arrival at the big stage--Danny Welbeck is certainly a class act. I've seen this guy and Campbell play and if they can share the goalscoring burden down the years for United, then we shall have Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke re-born! (And I'm not exaggerating). Ronaldo rounded off a memorable evening with goal number 101 to finally give United fans a scoreline they have waited for all season--5 without reply! Long may that ruthlessness continue! It will certainly take us places this season(as if Japan isn't far enough).
FLOM Man of the Match is Cristiano Ronaldo--the channel through which most of our attack was based, and of course for getting his free-kicks right twice in 90 minutes!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

MAN UNITED VS STOKE CITY PREVIEW!

After labouring to break down QPR at OT in the Carling Cup, Manchester Unted return to domestic duty on Saturday. After suffering a damaging 2-1 defeat against Arsenal last Saturday, United will be looking to bounce back with a victory.
For starters, it's kind of good that we are playing on Saturday at 3 o'clock. United fans rarely get to watch a game at that time. We have fared pretty well when we don't play an eaqrly kick-off of sorts. Livepool, Arsenal, Everton were some of the beneficiaries in our mid-week hangovers that needed a little more time to subside. So that should be good enough of an omen. The there is the small matter of Rory Delap's throw ins that hve terrorised almost each one of Stoke's opponents so far. Arsenal are the latest victims. Tony Pulis' side have so far thwarted Liverpool and Arsenal so they know how to handle the big occassions. United's defence that somehow let Bentdner have a field-day last weekend must be up for the high jump this time. Let me hope Vida and Rio are taking notes...
I heard that Scholes will be back for the City derby so that is a boost for us as Hargeaves will not feature for the rest of the campaign. Carrick and Anderson or Fletcher should meanwhile get their act together and support the forwards. I'll leave the team line up for Fergie as I have already given my views on who starts upfront and who takes right back. At the end of it all, I hpe that United do win because WE NEED THE POINTS!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A CASE FOR DIMITAR BERBATOV


The Daily Mail and other Sunday papers have been running a story concerning Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov. Apparently, Sir Bobby Robson is not impressed with the Bulgarian's performance so far. I mean it's amazing how fickle some people can be as regards to the game. It does not surprise me that one of the greatest causes of WW2 was the English press! In England, they people are paid to fill newspaper pages rather than for reporting valid information.
Sir Bobby claims that Berbatov did shite at the Emirates on Saturday and that his one goal in the league is not enough for a club as big as Manchester United.
Well for starters, Sir Alex did not sign Berba solely for goals--but for that extra bit of creativity about him. We have goal scorers at United and that is why we won the biggest double last season. The stats show that United are now finishing games with a record number of attempts at goal compared to last season. Berba has added a lot in terms of creativity. He is already our assist leader this season and if that is what he can add to United then so be it, we'll take that!
It will be Sir Alex and not SIr Bobby that will deal with Berba if he is under performing. Sir Alex is not the kind who will field an under performing player for 9 straight games. It shows there is something he's doing right. This talk of Berbatov being Cantona is what could probably be misleading people. Berbatov is not and will never be Cantona and the vice-versa is true. Berbatov is Dimitar Berbatov--end of story, the fat lady sings!

A CASE FOR OWEN HARGREAVES




During the summer of 2007, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson splashed out 17 million pounds and signed long term target Owen Hargreaves from German giants Munich. The Enland International was delighted to join United and said that his desire to move to the NorthWest was probably the worst-kept secret in football. Hargreaves however played just half the games of the season--spending most of his campaign in the hospital room giving company to Loius Saha. His tendinitis problem had been bothering him whilst at and kept on recurring month after month at United. He would probably have had a century of caps for England if he was as fit as David Beckham.
Despite his injuries, Owen did play a vital part in Sir Alex's search for the Holy Grail that was another European triumph. The times he played, United were lifted. He scored his first goal for the club--a free-kick against Fulham and then went on to score one of the most important goals of our season--another stunning free-kick that sent Arsenal down the drain and kept us well above Chelsea. United fell into an injury crisis toward the end of last season but Hargo came in and ably deputised in the right-back slot. Interestingly, he had his best game for United whilst playing at right-back in a 1-0 home victory over AS Roma in the Champions League.
He was also part of the heroic starting 11 that won United their third European crown.
This season however has not been any different for Hargoas he has made just three appearances. His persistent knee injury is beginning to frustrate the fans and surprisingly the journalists. It was only last week that we heard reports sugesting that Fergie wanted to get rid of the Englishman--lazy journalism for me!
This week Hspecialistwill visit a specilaist in the USA to try and solve his knee problem.
My take on this one is--we should give him a chance. I mean if Fergie can be as patient as he was with Louis Saha then why not for Owen? He is one of those players who plays with a passion for the club and he has that priceless experience about him as he has played at the very highest level. I trust that Sir Alex will not let go of a player if he still sees value in him so I'm hoping that Hargo makes a return that will silece all his critics for good!

THINKING ALOUD AFTER THE ARSENAL GAME...


So United have failled to register a win against any of their title rivals on foriegn territory--surely it can't be that bad, can it? I mean let the pundits start yapping when we fail to win against them in our ow backyard. Getting a win against Liverpool last season at Anfield does not mean that United will win there every season. A defeat at the Emirates is not something to worry so much about because it's not one of those results you automatically expect.
It's incredible what a result can do for a team in the space of a week. Last week, the press was all over Wenger when his side lost to Stoke City. Some fans even questioned Wenger's policies for the first time in 12 years! And yet after yesterday's result, suddenly Arsenal are out of crisis and can now win the title. The truth is, it's still early days as far as this title is concerned. United have now played all their rivals away from home already and are realistically 5 points off the top( plus the game in hand). That cannot be cause for concern as we still have to play each of them at OT in a period when United are traditionally in fifth gear. So the points gap is not worth talking about anymore.
Now Garry Neville is clearly past his best and there were one or two signs that told so at the Emirates yesterday. It's not that he had an unfortunate hand in Arsenal's goal rather that the impact Rafael made on a substitute overshadowed 80 minutes' work. He already has to contest the right back slot with Brown but I should think that he should be kept out of the fast paced games--such as encounters against teams that play the Arsenal way. Not that Fergie had a choice today as we would have raised eyebrows if the youngster had started.
It will be interesting to see how Fergie handles the whole affair.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

A CASE OF "JUST ONE OF THOSE DAYS"--ARSENAL VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


Manchester United made the trip to the capital after coming away from Parkhead with a valuable point in mid-week. Arsenal, given their problems, was supposed to be a sure three points for United. But if football was as predictable as that, it probably would not have as many fans as it has.
Garry Neville led out United as injury to Wes Brown has left United light-weight at right-back. Otherwise it was the best possible line-up that Fergie could send out to the Emirates. United did start well enough--Michael Carrick firing wide after an indirect free-kick in the box. But for some reason, Nicklas Bendtner kept getting free headers in the box. Vidic and Ferdinand were clearly not up for the aerial challenge posed by the Dane.
And then all hell broke loose--Samir Nasri fired in a Berbatov clearance that, but for a wicked deflection off Neville, would probably have been saved by EVDS.
United should actually have taken the lead earlier. Wayne was perfectly set up by Ronaldo but somehow, he shot wide. It's becoming tricky for him. October has ended and one wonders if it's a case of 'wait for next October'.
But he cannot take sole blame for the result. Nothing came off for anyone. Rooney, Carrick, Berbatov, Ronaldo , Anderson, etc all had their chances to put away but the Arsenal goal was living a charmed life. The second Arsenal goal did kill it for us but one wonders what could have been if we had made it 2-1 a little earlier. Anyways, it was good to see Rafael get his first goal for United--a well taken strike at that! We've had our problems in London, and maybe this was just another one of those "London days".
The result does leave us in an unusual position. It's not often that United are eight times behind Liverpool in the league. It will now take another run of wins to keep us in touch with the leaders till Christmas. Hopefully we shall bounce back in the same way we did after Anfield. For now, it's QPR in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

UNITED REAP BIG FROM WEEKEND--RIVALS WATCH!




Inspite of our very own problems(complacency), I'm glad that Manchester United have been the biggest beneficiaries of this Premier league weekend. Our lads held on firm for a 4-3 victory over Hull City at home. The incredible series that is the Barclays English Premier league is surely not for the faint hearted. Such is the strength of the league that anybody is capable of beating anyone!
Much as we can read a lot into United's failure to beat Hull City comfortably, it's not often that United have come up against teams that will continue to play 4-3-3 even at 4-1 down. You have to give the tigers a lot of credit for their determination to get something out of games.
If Sir Alex is going to scold his players for winning 4-3, then you wonder what Arsene Wenger will say to his lads after drawing 4-4 with Spurs in mid-week and then losing 2-1 to Stoke City(of all teams). What about Rafael Benitez who watched his side easily beat Chelsea last week and then take an early lead against but still come away with no points?
I'm particularly glad that the Scousers have now really invited the doubters for a field-day! The talk of it being their year will now be hushed for quite while. They have been fortunate enough to be leading at this point but it's not just luck that wins titles. At the start of the weekend, I said that I was having trouble calculating how far off United was from the summit but at the end of it, it seems we now have top spot in our sights--if only we had played our game in hand by now! United now need that little bit of consistency to make it to Christmas while still in contention--and when they get there in touch, the result is usually a league title to lift come May!