Sunday, 28 September 2008

MAN UNITED VS BOLTON REVIEW...A CASE OF THE RETURN OF CRISTIANO RONALDO!


Manchester United finally reproduced the form that won them so many games last season in a 2-0 victory over North-West rivals Bolton yesterday. The scoreline however does not tell the whole story as United dominated Bolton almost throughout the entire game. With goals coming from Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, it was a case of more of the same from last season as one or both usually got on the score sheet.
The talking point of the match was and is the penalty that was awarded to Cristiano Ronaldo after he was challenged by Ricardo Gardner in the box. Now in all honesty, Rob Styles was conned by Cristiano as the Bolton defender won the ball cleanly. In fact, it was the offensive player looking for contact rather than the defensive player. But again, when you hear what Fergie had to say about the decision, you realise that Styles indeed owes us a lot of legitimate penalties that he has waved away over the years. Just last season alone, Styles did not give United any penalty out of the 4 legitimate ones in the crucial fixture against Blackburn at Ewood Park. So that was one back.
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney took his goal so well that it left me wondering if he has had most of his best games off the bench for United. For the many times he has come off the bench in a game we were struggling in, Rooney has either provided the assist or scored the goal. Just to point out a few examples, the FA Cup game against Pompey in 2006 in which he came off the bench to score 2 goals, the FA Cup game last season against Aston Villa in which he inspired a 2-0 victory--getting a goal for himself as well. It was however good to see Fergie taking the bold decision of leaving Wayne, Nani, Giggs, out of the team. It certainly gives us the impression that nobody is assured a place in team. Paul Scholes will do better off the bench than if he starts --and that was proved yesterday. Bring on Aalborg!
The other bit of news to rant about was that we have QPR at home in the League Cup 4th round. Not bad huh!

Friday, 26 September 2008

MAN UNITED VS BOLTON PREVIEW...15TH VS 16TH!



According to many a United faithful and crucially to Sir Alex Ferguson, United's season has only just began. The manager feels that his side has improved over the last three games and is easing into top gear as we head into the third month of the new league season. In his pre-match press conference today, the Gaffer praised the display put on by the lads in our emphatic victory over Boro in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.
Now I do not know to what extent Fergie has winded up his players for the next game but for all I know, we shall be way behind our rival if we do not make the most of this home game. To be precise, a defeat, will leave us 19th in the rankings going into October. There is a famous saying that Manchester United always do things the hard way, but the way I see it, there is no need of making it any harder. Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher have talked about going on a 10 game unbeaten run, and it has to be said, it is such a ran that salvaged our blushes last season. Something of the sort is expected so as to make up for our sluggish start.
TEAM NEWS
United are virtually at full strength--only that now we do not know which XI is our strongest. Michael Carrick and Rodrigo Possebon are the only out field injury concerns. Foster and Kuszcack(SP) are both sidelined which means young Ben Amos will be EVDS' deputy tomorrow. Cristiano Ronald0 will start his first League match for United since May and Dimitar Berbatov is expected to lead the attack supported by Wayne Rooney and or Carlos Tevez.
Owen Hargreaves is one of those players geared up for the game as his father supports Bolton. He could win himself a lace in the midfield especially if Fergie heeds to my call about the ineffective Paul Scholes (of late). Garry Neville should keep his place on the right while Nemanja Vidic returns from suspension. The boss has told Ryan to keep it central for the season (which could be his last) so we might as well never see the Welsh wing wizard running down the wing again. It cannot be bad at all as we all saw how he performed in that role on Tuesday night.
Bolton on the other hand have a couple of players returning from injury and suspension so they should be at full strength. Fergie has already pointed out the aggressive and unsporting behaviour of Davies, who did to Gael Clichy what Pogatez did to Possebon last Saturday. Gary Cahill and Smolarek return for Bolton.
PREDICTION....4-0 to United.
Our impressive record at home last season is one of the reasons as to why we went on to clinch the title last May. Here's to hoping that we kick off that form tomorrow! Cheers!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

UNITED VS BORO IN PICTURES!







One should be more interested in seeing just how terrible Pogatez's challenge was. It was, for lack of better words, ATTEMPTED MURDER!

MAN UNITED VS MIDDLESBROUH REVIEW !


Manchester United strolled into the fourth round of the Carling Cup yesterday for the first time in three seasons, beating Prem side Boro on the way. Christiano Ronaldo marked his return to the starting line-up with a headed goal on 25 minues off a Ryan Giggs corner. Personally I feel that Ronaldo is under-rated in the air. It's why he steals off defenders and poaches one or two headed goals occasionally. The goal was , in more ways than one, similar to the last one he scored for United last season--a sublime header past Cech in the Champions League final. Adams Johnson briefly put Boro level mid-way through the second half but old head Ryan Giggs was at hand to capitalise on slack defending to chip Jones and restore United's lead. Luis Nani capped a fine performance with a late third goal that was, well, another gift from the Boro defence. The game though was marred by a horrendous challenge by Boro captain Emmanuel Pogatez on the young Rodrigo Possebon. Not only did he deserve a red card, but a ban as well. The pictures on the Internet showing his evil act remind me of the fate of Arsenal's Eduardo da Silva who, unlike Possebon, broke his leg. We have certainly been lucky in that respect as our mercurial Brazilian has not had any break in the leg. Such injuries can be career threatening. One might fear to engage in a tackle for the ball after being through the pain of a serious leg injury.
On a brighter note, it was nice to see a handful of lads make their bows for the club--as far as first team football is concerned. I'm sure that goalkeeper Ben Amos could not believe starting in a team with Ronaldo, Giggs , Vidic... Danny Welbeck led the line upfront, just infront of Ronaldo and it has to be said--he was one of those whose performances made the ticket a worthy purchase. Possebon was at his usual calmness alongside Anderson, who the boss claims is finally 'back' from the Olympics. It was even sweeter to see Manucho make his first team debut as a late substitute. What he did in his 8 or so minutes on pitch was enough to send me smiling on my way to bed. This guy could be the first real African hit that Fergie has signed. If given the chance, I personally fell that he can make as big an impact as Dimitar Berbatov. Time will tell. On a whole, it was nice to get such a win under our belts as we last won a game in August. Good to score more than 1 goal in a game since Wigan on the last day of last season. Long may it continue! Bring on Bolton.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE A SLOW QUIET DAY, CECH MAKES THE JOKE OF THE DAY...HA! HA! HA!



Pert Cech claims that Manchester United's attack never at any one time bothered him during his side's clash with Manchester United on Sunday. If you look back in recent history and analyse United and Chelsea games at Stamford Bridge, one would no doubt pick our recent performance as our best since we won there in 2002. United threatened much more than they had threatened in the recent meetings at the Bridge. Cech for his part was lucky that a certain Mr. Carvalho was at hand to block a certain goal from Darren Fletcher and that Rio's shot came off his knee, onto the crossbar. The Czech goalie would have been more embarrassed if Wayne Rooney had got his shot on target when Cech was no where near his goal. He should also remember that it was his inability to hold onto Berbatov's shot that gave Park the license to put United in the lead.
So quite frankly, and to cut the story short, Cech picked the wrong game to utter those comments.
Meanwhile, Tevez has had another go at Chelsea, claiming that they never really recovered from the pain of losing two major trophies to United in cruel style. I wouldn't want to go so much into what he said but he has certainly made more enemies at Chelsea than Ronaldo has. The better news is that he has won himself more fans in Mancunia-the only State that matters.

Monday, 22 September 2008

MAN UNITED VS MIDDLESBROUGH PREVIEW!




The Carling Cup kicks off for us tomorrow, and unlike the 'difficult' game last season against Coventry City, this time, we simply have to negotiate a home tie against Middlesbrough. Wayne Rooney claims that United's hardest program of the campaign is over so I expect that we use this fixture to announce our return to winning ways. Worryingly for United fans, the squad will be weaker than it should have been as Manucho and Rafael have been ruled out with injuries. The Angolan in particular must be dreading the prospect of picking up the same curse that Saha had in his time at OT. Sir Alex has already promised to put out a side that has a mixture of youth and experience--much to the delight of Southgate I suppose. Danny Welbeck will almost certainly start and I only wish that he is partnered by Carlos Tevez--who did not feature at the weekend. Meanwhile, Ronaldo, Nani, Anderson, Neville and Park should be in line for a role as they all need games behind them to get 100% match fit. There is a small history between United and Boro in the Carling Cup---diving, penalty,etc...but I hope we will do enough to negotiate our passage into the next round. We have enough players to see this tournament through, and who knows, it could be as vital as it turned out to be in 2006! So here's to a United victory...Cheers!

...AND NOW THE REVIEW IN DETAIL!


After confirming Ferdinand's situation, I can now fully blog my opinions about the game on Sunday. It has to be said, United played by far better than they have in any fixture this season, and but for a slight dip in concentration, could have gone away from Stamford Bridge with all three points. A draw is actually one of the good results one can get at Chelsea as they have this charm that saves them from the jaws of defeat. Come to think of it, we are one point better than last season as we have got a point from a ground we usually drop all three. I mean we have played at Fratton Park, Anfield and Stamford Bridge consecutively and still come out with 4 points, when we could have come out with none, as neither of those places is ideal to visit. Also, it will always be difficult for any team to play 3 consecutive away games in the league. Sir Alex is one of those who knows United through and through and he thinks that Sunday's game is going to drive United on a run that will put most of their title rivals to the sword. There is plenty of truth in that as we now have a relatively simpler schedule when you compare it with what we have had in the past fort-night.
Back to the game... United could have gone into half time 3-0 up as we made the most of Chelsea's fragile start. Fletcher could have scored from close range while Rooney had a half-chance go narrowly wide when Cech was not in goal. Ferdinand(would you believe) had our best chance of the first half as he (somehow) managed to find himself all alone with the Chelsea goalie. EVDS had to be replaced after clashing with Malouda in the box but I was certainly not so disappointed that he went off injured. Van der Sar has been a little bit rusty so far in the league. His judgement when it comes to collecting balls in the air has not been as good as last season and he could have cost us a goal just before he left. Chelsea had one good chance in the opening half to take the lead but Joe Cole shot wide...for some reason, van Der Sar was on his knees when the Cole got his shot off. It was however good to hear that EVDS will be back as soon as next week for the game against Bolton. Kusczack was and is always a good deputy for the big Dutchman. Just like in the May 21 final, United were the better team in the first half while Chelsea dominated the second. Our inability to get a second goal to kill off games is becoming a little bit of a problem. I thought, for a moment, that the game would take a similar script to that of Liverpool--take the lead and then concede twice to lose the game. Luckily for us, Anelka was not up for it (as was the case in Moscow). Mike Riley must have been convinced that he failed to award Chelsea a penalty when EVDS clashed with Malouda because he certainly made his yellow card appear cheap. All a United player had to do was to question his decision to get into the book. As a result, the name Manchester United will have to spend another week around Soho square as the FA will fine the club 25,000 pounds.(I wonder who in the first team earns below that?). The end of last season's fixture was highlighted with Ferdinand kicking a female worker in the tunnel while the CL final ended with Drogba slapping Nemanja Vidic. This time, the game ended with no less drama. Drogba collided with Ferdinand and the former stayed down--needing treatment while Ferdinand walked off pitch in protest--and after seemingly blowing the whistle for a free kick, Riley had to explain that it was actually full time (he couldn't take any more of it, could he?). Quite frankly, the ref was poor and Hackett should start to assess his boys/men as their performance at times does not deem them as worthy recipients to a cheque.
PERFORMANCE
Paul Scholes is one of the better Manchester United players in the dressing room but he seems to have lost a little bit of the plot. He played poorly at Anfield and would have got sent off if he had played the 90 at Stamford Bridge. I was hopping that Giggs would play some part off the bench on Sunday as I think that he and Giggs will help United more off the bench than as starters.
Garry Neville played well enough on his first competitive appearance in 18 months but we could use a little more of his crosses. His speed however could be of concern as he is no different from the other two veterans named above.
Dimitar Berbatov has received some stick for his performance but nobody really expected him to be quicker at United. His intelligence will come to the fore. He hardly kicked a ball in pre-season, so he still has some way to go before being as lethal as he was for Spurs...and one wonders why Berba gets the stick and yet Robbie Keane is yet to even provide an assist in a Liverpool shirt!
Top scorer Darren Fletcher is finally becoming something in my eyes. He positions himself very well and but for the big breasts of Alex, could have scored the winner for United--the Brazilian is the only one who can testify about the venom in the shot he chested away.
And lastly but more importantly, we have a new gem in the ranks. If Johnny Evans can be as solid as he was against some of the best players in the world, then we have nothing to fear about the future if our defence. He did very well in the Champions League against Villarreal but I did not give him a prayer to even start the game. It's a measure of the faith the Gaffer has in him. It puzzled me when Fergie refused to sell him to Roy Keane in the summer but now, we all know why. Evans takes the FLOM Man Of The Match Award. And let me end by apologising for the long article. Cheers!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED AT STAMFORD BRIDGE?


Well firstly, it was disappointing to lose a goal in te last 10 minutes of a match we could have won. For some reason, it's hard for us to keep a clean sheet for 90 minutes. I'm usually ethusiastic enough to give a match report only when we have won so let me spare you the literature and get some issues off my head.
Fergie seems to have resorted to the tried but failed 4-3-3 formation--probably in order to accommodate Berbatov. I cannot understand why because even when he had 4 strikers in '99 he stuck to the more successful and traditional 4-4-2. Having said that, alittle more ruthlessness in front of goal could help us a lot as we are leaking a lot of goals at the back. Ferdinand should have lasted the brains out of Petr Cech with his chance, Fletcher could have made more meaningful contact despite the challenge of Carvalho while Park could have had a hat-trick if he had been a little bit quicker in decision making.
We picked up 7 yellows during the game, hence incur an FA fine but what bothers me is that was Rio sent off towards the end or.....Did he just walk off pitch in protest? Until I find out, I'll not be able to comment entirely about the latest installment of the so called 'Greatest game on earth'.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

CHELSEA VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!




At this stage of the season, a year back, Chelsea made their way to OT to face Manchester United 3 days after losing their charismatic manager Jose Mourinho. One year on and United travel to Stamford Bridge to face a Chelsea team whose form sharply contrasts with that of United. A lot has been made of the game on Sunday but let me get this off my chest already. Football has never been as straight forward as any other sport, I really do think that United will leave the Bridge with all 3 points. The stats show that Chelsea have given United a harder time in the league compared to any other side but I genuinely believe that the form book will be ripped apart. United have 4 points from a possible start and will equal their record of a worst ever start to a season if they get beaten on Sunday. It's 122 games since United lost 2 games in the league consecutively but given the form of the league leaders, many just cannot see a way back for the Champions tomorrow. We United fans have gotten used to what Christians call resurrection from the dead. Time and time again, United have triumphed against the odds--it's probably why even though we lose on Sunday, one will have to be brave to write off United. A 9 point gap to bridge in September is not exactly what we had in mind for the season and I remain confident that it will not become a reality. Vida and Carrick should be the only absentees for different reasons, so I expect one of our strongest sides out on the turf come Sunday. Ronaldo is back so the excuses might as well take a hike. The question is, WILL THE REAL UNITED PLEASE STAND UP?

THOUGHTS ON THE VILLARREAL GAME...


Well, we failed to get the win again but unlike Anfiled, this was more of a case of bad lunch than poor play. United ran rings round the Villarreal defence but just didn't have that extra element called luck. Carlos Tevez and or Danny Gibson should at least have scored---and of course if were last season, Ronaldo would have put his header away. However, it was not to be--credit to the Spaniards, they did put up a good show of defence and organisation while making few mistakes. Interestingly, we could have lost the game as the Yellow Submarines nearly made use of their only genuine chance in the '90. Thankfully, the post was in for justice. One wonders though if Garry will ever command a starting role in the United back four as his crosses were not like him. Having said that, it was good though, to have him lead the club out as he is Manchester United through and through--he plays with a passion comparable to none. Cristiano Ronaldo finally kicked d a ball for United again and what a reception he got from the fans--one would think that nothing of note, involving him, went on during the summer. It was great that there were no boos from the fans as I find it rather stupid for one to boo his own player. His arrival was certainly a shot in the arm for United as our best chances were created when he came on. He made 2 wonderful defence unlocking passes and got a chance of his own. He'll certainly be up for it come Sunday afternoon when United attempt to halt yet another long standing record in the league. Party Crashers do not need invitation and I'm sure we are not on Scolari's guest list.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

MORE ABOUT THE VILLARREAL GAME...


I've posted a brief preview for the game tonight but here are a few things of note going into this game. Manuel Pellegrini is one of those coaches that commands stability at a club. He has spent 4 years now with the Yellow Submarines and therefore is capable of putting out a side that can leave a venue like OT with a win. If you know how many points they finished above Barcelona last season, you'll know what I mean. Much as we matched each other 3 years ago when United were in transition, it cannot be guaranteed that we shall walk over them this time round. If there is one glaring weakness that they will try to exploit against us, it's the DE-FENCE. Could somebody,... anybody please tell me what has gone wayward with the best defence in Europe? How did Obafemi Martins come to out-leap men of 6ft? How did Danny come to skip past a whole flood of red-shirts to put Zenit 2-0 up? And more comically, how did Liverpool, after spending 5 seasons without scoring against United, help themselves to 2 goals in a single match? Much as the attack may get stick whenever we do not perform, the defence has got to take their fair share of the blame. Many people have compared last season to this--in the name of calming themselves down during this crisis of sorts, but one should realise that even though we started poorly last season, our defence got us points that we should have at least shared with our opponents. Several times we won 1-0 and this went on till our forwards found their scoring touch. We could then afford to conceded. On the contrary, this season, we have been, for most of the time, trying to equalise rather than take the lead. The group is not as hard as it looks as we are the strongest team in the group, but again football has a way of kicking you in the teeth. If we allow the Spaniards to execute that kick, then we might find ourselves looking for points in places that are not OT. Ten points will do but for as long as we remain unbeaten, the greater our chances of winning an unprecedented 4th European title...and establishing a few more exclusive records. SO COME ON UNITED!

MAN UNITED V VILLAREAL PREVIEW...IN BRIEF!


Without wasting any more lines of space on this blog, let me just say that Manchester United need a win! I cannot remember the last time we went 3 weeks without winning a game but that will repeated if we fail to beat Villarreal and then let the form book have its way on Sunday. The return of Christiano Ronaldo should be a major boost but then we are fast running out of excuses. Home game, Strong team, WIN NEEDED!

APOLOGY

I've been quite busy for the last week or so and thus unable to closely follow the events concerning my beloved Manchester United. In my absence though, I 'heard that we were beaten by the Dippers, largely due to our own bad luck. Well the law of averages states that we had to lose to them some time---the more reason as to why we should look with optimism to Sunday s that very law suggests that Chelsea cannot win at home forever. Before that, we have the small matter of negotiating a Champions League fixture at home to Villarreal. Here's to a win for United. I've got to get back to work. Cheers!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

NORTH-WEST DERBY: LIVERPOOL VS MAN UNITED PREVIEW!


It can be such a boring time this period called 'International break'. It's why the posts have not come by in numbers of late but crucially, its why I am looking forward to Saturday on a Thursday. This weekend sees us make the short trip to Anfield--a ground that has, of late, provided a happy outing for United. The Dippers last beat us on their own pitch in the league in 2001. We are beginning to get into the habit of picking up 3 points every time we go there so Saturday should not be of any concern...OR IS IT? The Scousers will know too well that this is the season in which Manchester United can dethrone them of the title 'most successful club' in the league. Their cob-webbed titles won in an era of little or no competition are still pushing them above closest rivals United...but not for long! It could be that Fergie has put his retirement to 3 years from now because he reckons it's the time he'll need to finally 'knock Liverpool off their ***** perch! Besides rallying behind any other team to win the league but United, the Merseysiders know that ending their abysmal record against the reigning Champions will go a long way in maintaining their status as England's most successful...
Team news: United will still be without CR7 who is still completing his rehabilitation programme. Owen Hargreaves is however expected to be fit while Luis Nani has completed his remaining 2 match ban(he has been on form for Portugal so I hope he carries that form to United). Anderson missed Brazil's qualifiers so it remains to be seen if he will feature while Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick might just be fit enough for the bench. The biggest team news however should be if Dimitar Berbatov will start alongside Wayne Rooney for his debut--personally I do not see why he shouldn't.
Liverpool on the other hand are expected to be without Fernando Torres and Stevie Gerrard. Dirk Kuyt and Robbie Keane are therefore going to lad their attack. It's a tough call for any team to play Liverpool away, Villareal and Chelsea away in 8 days--but Manchester United is a team that has been in this situation many times... so we fans expect nothing less! COME ON UNITED
Prediction:1-2 to United. You should never expect anything else from this blog other than a win for United.

FERGIE HAS A GO AT KEANE.....TACTICALLY ASTUTE!


After hearing reports that Gerrard and Torres will struggle to be fit for the high noon clash at Anfield, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson must have have set out looking for the next 'big' thing at Liverpool that will worry his side come Saturday. Asked by the The Sun which transfer surprised him most, the fiery Scott cleverly pointed out the transfer of Robbie Keane to the Dippers as one that raised his eye-brows. Whilst it is synonymous to the world that the transfer of Robinho to Manchester City was the transfer joke of the summer, Fergie has opted to go for Robbie Keane for what I may look at as obvious reasons. He has been in management for over 25 years and should therefore know how to use the press in his favour. This news, despite being rubbished by the player in question, will go a long way in unsettling the Liverpool camp--especially if it is Keane and not Torres that leads the Liverpool attack on Saturday. Much as he risks a backlash from Keane, the Irishman might be the only one up for it as he will get a vote of no confidence from his colleagues. It's going to be fascinating to see how this turns out, but Fergie usually wins the battles he starts...Keegan and Wenger and lately Benitez will know that!

KAKA MAKES THE WRONG CHOICE.


For all his attributes, AC Milan sensation Kaka has got it wrong as far as naming who he wishes to succeed him as World Player of the Year. Whilst everyone is entitled to an opinion, it will be foolhardy not to give CR7 the credit he deserves. The Madeira magician achieved more than what Kaka achieved last season to collect the award and so he should be light years from Lionel Messi. Messi also crucially failed to win any silverware for Barca last season, so that should go a long way in deciding who eventually gets the vote. Football legend Diego Maradonna has already criticised the Argentine sensation for being 'too selfish'. Ronaldo only had that tag in his first 2 seasons at the club but he has learnt that it is sometimes better to create for your teammates than go for glory. Such is the edge that Ronaldo has got this time round that it is hardly a debate as far as who is the best player in the world at the moment. Kaka should have kept it a secret to himself as his view is clearly out of order. It's a shame he is Brazilian.

TRIBUTE TO RYAN GIGGS


Ryan Giggs has established himself as one of Manchester United's all time greatest ever players. He has stuck to the club since the age of 14 and in effect has become the leading appearances holder for Manchester United, overtaking Sir Bobby Charlton in the Champions League final. The club has already given him a Testimonial(back in 2003) to celebrate his career at Manchester United. A Ryan Giggs film has been documented to mark his achievements and commitment to Manchester United. Details of the movie premiere are at the official website. It will however be soon sold as an official DVD. It's great to see that the effort and commitment of this TRUE RED has not gone unnoticed. Ryan defines Loyalty in football, and for as long as players like him exist, I will not buy into this nonsense of 'Loyalty is a thing of the past.' Football has a way of rewarding the good guys... for Ryan, I can bet that his achievements at United will never be matched...at least not any time soon. He will for long be looked as a United Legend--A TRUE RED!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUTV


Well given that this blog is entirely dedicated to Manchester United, the occasion cannot pass without me wishing the club's own Satellite TV station a happy 10th Birthday.Every United fan appreciates the fact that we have a a channel that will follow every United game regardless of the level of competition. So the Congratulations go to all those that have seen days at the station since September 1998. Lou Macari, Paddy Crerand, Haley McQueen, Mandy Henry, David May, and the like. It's great to have you as Manchester United fans and analysts. Cheers!

THE WAYNE ROONEY SHOW!


Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney put on a hell of a show as England FINALLY got one over Croatia. However, that is not the point. Prior to the game, the self-proclaimed 'messiahs' of football(or is it pundits), led by Collymore had gone as far as asking Mr. Fabio Capello to drop the 23 year old as he had managed just a handful of goals for England in 4 years. It's quite a shame that such words can come from Englishmen who know it well that Rooney is among the FEW World Class players that any England manager can call on. The player and Lampard for instance had come out to remind the nation that Rooney gives far more to a team than just goals. It's why Sir Alex has never dropped him and it's why Capello, because of his football brain, will not drop him...and what a time he chose to silence his critics. Whilst the plaudists will go to Baby Theo Walcott for a memorable hat-trick, Capello and any other that have brains as good his, will know that Wayne put on a self-less and effective performance that ultimately undid the Croats. He more or less had a hand in all the goals scored and even got one himself. What England got from Wayne last night is what Manchester United get from him every week. The lad is actually not a striker but a playmaker. One should have noted that before Walcott scored his first, he was England's worst player on pitch. Wayne's ability to create for his teammates and turn games for them is what he should be judged upon. But what the heck, if England does not want him, United does and always will. Besides, UNITED>ENGLAND!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

MIKE PHELAN: NOT A BAD CHOICE AT ALL!


Amidst the Berbatov saga, yours truly was among the many that did not take note of the appointment of Mike Phelan as the second most powerful man in Manchester United's on-pitch affairs. This should have surprised many as popular understanding was that Fergie would go for a travelled/foreign assistant in the mould of Carlos Queiroz. The gaffer has decided to go for one who is already on terms with the system at Old Trafford as Phelan was first team coach since 2001. Whilst I'm not all that moved by the appointment, I have to admit that Fergie did well to opt for stability rather than radical change. A new assistant would take time to be accepted by the players as he might be one of radical change. On the contrary, Phelan is well informed in terms of how the Manchester United machine is run as he has been part of it--both as a player and a coach. Mid-season is never a time to have radical administrative changes at a club. Just look at Chelsea who changed managers in the middle of last season--they never recovered from it all season and resultantly ended a promising season empty handed. Ryan Gigs has come out to praise Fergie for his choice, so that should go a long way into justifying his abilities.

Friday, 5 September 2008

THE MANCHESTER QUESTION--CITY OR FOREVER UNITED?





























It's quite incredible that these days, it takes a multi-millionaire to raise a club's profile and win it more columns in newspapers. In the week that was, Thaksin Shinawatra sold his Chairmanship of Manchester City to The Abu Dhabi Group--minutes before the close of the Summer transfer window. In a frantic five minutes,in which most of us were keeping up to date with the Berbatov situation, the Bitters made a host of bids that even Vicente del Bosque in his time as manager of the Real Madrid 'galacticos' would have been embarrassed to make. Making moves for, among others, Robinho, David Villa, Fernando Torres, Fabio Cannavaro and Kaka did beat the story of Henry to United to the title of transfer joke of the month. More still, the Citeh-zens wanted to hijack Dimitar Berbatov from the grasp of United in the same way they had stolen Robinho from under the nose of Chelsea. The new owners of the club have certainly given the lazy journalists a field day. City is now being talked of in the same breath that one mentions Chelsea and Manchester United. A certain phrase that is usually sang at the start of the season was uttered again--'breaking into the top 4'. One wonders what City has now that the current 4 top clubs don't. If anything, there is a load of things that the top clubs, especially Manchester United, have that City don't. Ryan Giggs has come today to criticise the Citeh twarts of their shite history...beg your pardon, THEY DO NOT HAVE A HISTORY. It really does speak volumes for a club like United to go play in South Africa, Nigeria, America, Asia, India if you like, and still maintain capacity crowds in each of those parts of the world. One wonders how many Manchester City fans are outside Great Britain. I personally live in East Africa but I can confirm that the number of City fans in this part of the world can be counted using five fingers.
Actually, the likes of Newcastle United have more fans here than the Bitters. City fans should have learned from Chelsea by now that it is history and not money that makes a club a force to reckon with. United for instance only had to recall the heroics of the 1968 European Cup winning side to match that achievement 40 years later. They had the inspiration from the Munich air disaster on the 50th anniversary to win the cup they would have gone on to win more than 3 times in their careers. Citeh should simply take a leaf from Chelsea and start building on a history that they can refer to half a Century to come--but until then There is only one team in Manchester and the people of New Zealand know it!

RONALDO PLEDGES PROFESSIONALISM--WAS THERE REALLY ANY DOUBT?


After securing the services of Dimitar Berbatov, we can now say that Mr. CR7 has a merchandise competitor at Old Trafford. The soon to be named World Player Of the Year has had his fair dominance in terms of shirt and merchandise sales at OT. Ronaldo should be clever enough to realise that 'this competitor' will also take the lion's share of the fans' chants--something that he has also dominated at the Theater of Dreams for the past 2 seasons. After pledging his short-term future to United, the media went about spilling comments that he was not going to be as committed to United as before given that his desire to leave was not granted. For the second time since committing to United, Ronaldo has made it clear for all that he will honour the Manchester United shirt as always and give his all on pitch. If ever there was one player who thrived on competition, it's got to be this Madeira magician. He claims that his desire to leave United for Real was because he had won all there was to win for United. One gets the feeling that he only wanted to depart because there was nothing left to compete for at United. He also makes it clear that he wouldn't have desired a transfer if we had lost the Champions League final. Ronaldo will be fueled by the arrival of Berbatov to re-reinstate himself as the most important player at United. He will also want to maintain his value and status as he makes his entrance into the Bernabeau. United might just see a better Ronaldo this season. FRIGHTENING!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

SOME THINGS THAT WENT UNNOTICED OVER THE WEEKEND


Now that Dimitar Berbatov has completed his transfer to United, we can now afford o catch up with what we may have skipped as all our senses worked to the good of one name. Louis Saha completed his transfer to Everton. I was first of all surprised to learn that his goal tally for United was 42 goals. That is without doubt incredible given that he spent more time on the surgery bed than on pitch. It is a testament of what a lethal finisher he can be IF HE CAN REMAIN FIT. To be fair to Fergie, he had given the lad all the time in the world to prove his fitness but it was never going to be. I did not even bother searching for the sale price because I'm one of those who will not complain if he was given away for free. He will do well to play a dozen games for Everton this season. By the way, how did he pass his medical?
The other bit of news that must have gone unnoticed was the Carling Cup third round draw. Now we were embarrassed last season to get knocked out at the first hurdle by a lowly Coventry City side. This season though, we have one of the Premiership's mean boys n Middlesbrough--coming to Old Trafford in more expectation than hope. It will only take one slight temptation of playing an understrength team by Fergie and the press will have another field day at Old Trafford. After dominating the league for the last couple of years, domestic Cup success here and there will not do us any harm.

DIMITAR BERBATOV IN PICTURES AND SMILES!
















The Official Manchester United website has released pictures taken in those final seconds of the transfer window that saw United get their man! Take a look

ITS BERBATOV! DIMITAR BERBATOV!







Well it had to be at the last minute. Arsene Wenger has had a reputation of making last minute wonder deals minutes before the close of the transfer window. I was kind of glad that Fergie borrowed a leaf from him and did not give up till he had a signature on those dotted lines. Dimitar Berbatov is a class signing who needs no introduction to any defender in world football. I was personally amused at the events that unfolded before midnight and I thought I should share with you what I experienced.
11.00PM-Man United are yet to complete the signing of Berbatov but City have entered the race with a 36m pound bid. Courtesy of that new rich prince owner. Shit!
11.10-News reaches me that Robinho had earlier passed a medical at City. What the f***?&!
11.15-Berbatov is at Carrington but City officials are waiting for him at the Manchester Airport. May the real slim Berba please stand up!
11.29-United have sent medical test papers and registration to the Premier League as City make another outrageous bid for David Villa. Reports suggest that Mark Hughes apparently fainted when he heard of the Brazillians' arrival.
11.35-I learn of news suggesting that Madrid have also entered the race to sign the Bulgarian International.
12.00-After a while of waiting without any news, the Breaking news finally gets rollin. Dimitar Berbatov has passed a medical at Old Trafford and will sign a 4 year contract for 31million pounds.
12.15- Its not yet midnight in England but it is looking ever-likely that we have got our man despite late attempts by City and Real Madrid.
After digesting all that this morning, I kind of realised that Chelsea were the biggest losers of all. Peter Kenyon had spent the entire weekend in Madrid trying to finalise the deal to bring Robinho at Stamford Bridge--but it seems he will be coming back empty handed. A certain so called rich prince won his battle with Shinawatra(Sp) and immediately sent the cash splashing all over Europe. Forbes has already rumoured him to be 4 times richer than Abramovich. More interestingly is that City are Chelsea's next opponents in the league.
For United, the Premier League has officially started. A striker within the ranks who is capable of making us forget Ronaldo---what a get! Our new no.9 is not injury prone! Hurrah! Bring on the dippers!

Monday, 1 September 2008

TRANSFER DEADLINE DAY/ MONDAY ROUND-UP

Even after losing the Super Cup one-off, it was a somewhat good weekend for Manchester United. We had a relatively kind Champions League draw and then watched all our rivals drop points in what should have been easy fixtures. Chelsea, to start with, should have done away with a Spurs side that is out of sorts and yet to click. Truth be told though, the Rent boys usually come away with noyhing from this fixture so it was not such a big surprise--infact,the only preson who seemed surprised at Stamford Bridge was Scolari.....he'll get used to it! Liverpool on the other hand showed again why they cannot be without their captain. Fernando Torres limped off early in tghe game and is not expected to feature when the Champions visit the wilderness on 13th September. Ferdinand must be disappointed with the news as he did enjoy pocketing the little Spaniard. It means now that despite our slow start, we can go as far as top of the table if we do not bottle it with our game in hand against Fulham. That aside, there is news of the return of Ronaldo at the end of this month---not bad news at all (well that is in case you are ABU).
The most important issue to rant about today however, is the transfwer deadline day. Nobody at United needs to be told the problems that lie ahead in case we fail to land that finisher upfront. It is a case of now or never for Gill and Sir Alex. Interestingly though, the press is more optimistic than Fergie that Brebatov will be a red by midnight. The arrival of Pavulychenko(sp) means that Spurs will onl;y do good business if they let the Bulgarian join United. For now though, we can only look at the'BREAKING NEWS ' bar and hope(for he inevitable). Cheers.

MANUCHO DEBUT ROUND THE CORNER.....HURRAH!


The Manchester Evening news website recently run a story about 'forgotten' Manchester United signing Manucho Conclaves. The striker has finally been granted a work permit and is just about doe with his rehabilitation following his metatarsal injury. Many did not realise but he was part of the team that had the 2008/2009 squad photo. His performances at the Africa Cup of Nations did impress most people and more still, we do have a bit of a problem with height amongst our strikers. He should be the solution to that as he is well into the 6 feet margin. Our attaching play could do even better with a striker who can hold up the ball (as Rooney and or Tevez make their way form the defence.) So here is to seeing Manucho soon on pitch!

JUST THE ONE GOAL AGAIN...ONLY THAT THIS TIME IT WAS NOT ENOUGH


It actually took me some time to digest the defeat on Friday that cost us another European trophy. United played like shite. It was actually one of our worst performances-certainly up there amongst the worst I have ever seen. The problem, as every newspaper is pointing out, is the lack of a goalscorer--a clinical one that is. Forget the Kaizer Chiefs, we failed to score in our first competitive fixture against Portsmouth in the Community Shield. It was not so much of a bother as we went on to win it via penalties--which are fast becoming another of our weapons. The opening day of the new league season found us with just the one goal to show for all our rest in the summer. It ultimately proved costly as we dropped 2 points. The game at Fatton Park was no different as we only managed the sole goal that thankfully won the game for us. At this point, I thought we would simply manoeuvre and come good in due course--as we did last season. Nemanja Vidic has come out to label the defeat to Zenit as a wake up call for United--I agree with him. While last season it was okay to win by the odd goal till around September, this season it is not okay! For the simple reason that we are not holding out like we did last season. We barely conceded a goal at the start of last season but now, we have already shipped in 3--an average of a goal a game. If this is to go on then we do need an extra finisher to ensure that we score more than we let in...and then of course hope that the league title is not decided on goal difference.