Friday, 31 October 2008

MY THOUGHTS ON THE WEST HAM GAME!


So a win it was. Manchester United got back to winning ways on Wednesday night with a rather comfortable 2-0 victory over West Ham United at Old Trafford. First things first, Ronaldo did take his goals very well and what about that for an assist from Berbatov--despite his weak stats in terms of distance covered, he is has pulled off something for the journalists to write about in each of the games he has played for United so far.
And for those who were questioning Ronaldo's failure to celebrate the way he was doing it last season, hope you saw the first goal!
Now for some reason, Manchester United has been rather 'kind' to their opponents on pitch this season. Most of the points we have dropped, we have been in a winning position, and then felt sympathy for our opponents such that we give them a tarmacadised highway back into the game. Sir Alex had every reason to blast his employees for 'taking their foot off the gas' in the second half--I mean how can a mistake that cost us a victory last Saturday be repeated 3 days later? Had we gone in 1-0 ahead at half-time, we would probably have ended the night with a point! Such is the complacency that cost Arsenal points in their North-London derby even after leading 3-1 and 4-2! What happened to the ruthlessness of Manchester United--the kind that got us that record 1-8 win away from home?
The fact is, we cannot afford to play the game in bits for the whole season and come even close to emulating the success of last season. Hope the lads have taken in that!
And then I'm not so sure that Rafael da Silva is good defensively! We are inj footbal's modern era and more will be recognised for their attacking potential but the game is built on defence. It's why many have praised the lad without highlighting his suspect defending. He's still young though, so I won't skin him....as yet!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

ALOT ABOUT THE WEEK--MAN UNITED VS WESTHAM PREVIEW!


Well a lot has been written in the papers this past week, following Liverpool's victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and United's draw with Everton. Apparently many a Scousers cannot help but think that this is their year! Well frankly, much as I do not like picturing any other club but United lifting the league title, I have never actually imagined the Dippers as Champions. I mean, if they actually win it, then it's true, WE ARE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS BEFORE ARMAGEDDON! Currently, I just can't imagine both United and Chelsea having bad seasons so that Liverpool finnish top.
That aside, Sir Alex reckons that the victory Liverpool earned was the perfect result. Now we all know who he considers as title rivals.
There is a lot of Gabriel Heinze talk in the press about luring Ronaldo to Madrid. The dirty defender however denies every bit of it. Now I find that too vague to comment about!
The other day, Ronaldo was voted by his peers as FIFA PRO Footballer of the Year--all I can say to that is that waay to go Ron--I actually did not think he would win this award becuse I thought that he was the most hated player even amongest his fellow proffessionals--but don't blame them, it's abit embarrasing not to award the Portuguese anything because nobody was close to him last season.
Tonight we play West Ham and quite simply, we have to win. We cannot afford to drop points at home at least. So West Ham and Hull should be put away at whatever cost. Michael Carrick should return so I hope Berba can get cleaner balls to him, and Ron should finally recover from that ankle operation excuse. I'm getting sick of it. So here's to victory! Cheers!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

A KICK IN THE TEETH--EVERTON VS MAN UNITED REVIEW!


Just when you thought that United were going to put together 10 wins, this happens: Everton 1-1 Man United! It's not the worst result we could have got from there because we could have actually been beaten but in a weekend where we get to see Chelsea and or Liverpool drop points, it should have been a win at all cost.
A masterful first half display was followed by a horrendous second half for United and a spirited fight-back from the Merseysiders.
Rio had one or two moments of madness and thankfully we did not pay for both! Our man in form, Rooney, it seemed, took the whole affair too personal as he was once a blue but it is now always a red! It has to be said, the one positive I took out of this game was Wayne's badge kissing! It showed more than anything else his commitment to the Manchester United cause--and that is a kind of player you want to see in your team.
The timing of this fixture was rather, well, unfair if you like. United are the only member of the big four who were in action yesterday. The rest get to have an extra day off to kill the CL hangover. Interestingly, this was as early a kick off as it could get--morning time in many parts of the world!
It's now a five point gap between us and the summit--that should be of no worry as we are not yet 10 games into the new league season. It however does give us plenty to do in the coming month! Cheers!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

DIMITAR FILLS RUUD ROLE--MAN UNITED VS CELTIC REVIEW!


United yesterday played not very well but still managed to put three past Scottish Champions Celtic at OT in the CL. Dimitar Berbatov netted two close range goals and the man of the moment Wayne Rooney bagged one of his his own.
Match evaluation.
It does put us in a wonderful position to qualify--in fact another win and we are there.
Secondly, it was a good outing for many a second team players. Nani got the 90 minutes and so did young Jonny Evans. I admire the way Sir Alex rotates his bulky squads. At the end of the day, nobody can complain of being left out in the team.
Now, Berba has certainly not won himself any favours from ABUs as both his goals were clearly off-side. One would ask,who is responsible for ruling out off-side goals: the ref or the player. Anyhow, United have got in their ranks somebody who will score the many 'easy chances' that went begging last season. Berba has got the instinct of Van Nistelrooy who was always there to tap in that loose ball 2 yards from the goal. His last 3 goals show that predatory instict thatis vital for any set-up.
And then there is a certain Mr. Cristiano Ronaldo who has been trying too hard to be as important to the team as Rooney is. Ronaldo has tried to shoot at goal at times when a pass would be the best option. One wonders whether this boy, even at Madrid will be as good as he was last season. His step over is slightly slower than last season. United might have seen the best of him already. Having said that, we need his presence in the team as his speed is an asset, and the mere fact that he is Ronaldo will send down a shiver down the spine of any opponents.
For some reason, we get to play early on Saturday, while the rest of our rivals play on Sunday after a day's rest!_(*+

Sunday, 19 October 2008

MY FRUSTRATION WITH WAYNE ROONEY!


Well now that everyone in the British media cannot stop praising him, we United fans do not have to bellow it out to the rest that Wayne Rooney is a world class player. I think this a much better time for me to state what has been itching me as regards to England's best player. I was a staunch admirer of Rooney while he was at Everton--not because of his enthusiastic never say die attitude but because he pulled the trigger well out of range--in effect catching the prey at short notice. The point is the Rooney of old did not have to get in the box to score a goal. He actually let fly more often out of the box than when he was in. Does anyone remember that belter that sent David Seaman to the cleaners in 2003? How about that wonder goal at Old Trafford against Newcastle(one second talking to the ref and the next ripping apart the Stretford end net). That same Rooney is the one who appeared for England at the Euro 2004 Championships and netted a 40 yard screamer against Croatia.
So what happened to him? The Rooney of today is a much more accomplished player no doubt but he has most if not all his goals in the box. It becomes difficult to score when you know that you have to beat the last defender to shoot, while it's much easier to score when you only need the ball at your feet to score. Teams these days sit back and wait to hit you on the counter, so it's shots from 30 yards that will get you those breakthrough- as you either hit the target, or get a deflection. Wayne, think about it--especially when the drought comes!

MAN UNITED VS CELTIC PREVIEW!


Manchester United, fresh from battering a hapless West Brom side, will be engaged in a sort of British derby on Tuesday night. United will meet Celtic yet again in the Champions League group sage. Celtic are well known in Europe for heir incredible home record but the same cannot be said of them at home. It is why I would be disappointed if United failed to get maximum points on Tuesday night. Michael Carrick should start after being omitted from the ream that beat WBA on Saturday. The omissions of Tevez and Anderson from the team on Saturday might suggest that they will be fresher for the tie hence the exclusion of Ryan Giggs. United will qualify to the last 16 knock-out phase if they beat Celtic home and away in a double header. Youngvennegoorofhesselink will be missing for the Scottish Champions. With a tough trip to Villarreal coming up, we ought to make it easy for ourselves by putting more points on the board.

WAYNE ROONEY'S ZEAL CAPS ANOTHER WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE!







Wouldn't you just know it, my server once again failed to contact Google Accounts so I couldn't post a preview for the weekend. Anyhow, United did get the job done! Wayne Rooney inspired United to victory over a stubborn West Brom side--scoring in his fourth consecutive game for United. He has a knack of getting form for long periods and then losing it for even longer periods. The stats show that he was as devastating last season in October as he is now, so hope that means one goal in each of the remaining games in October. Many have offered their views about Rooney's form but I personally feel that he will keep his form for long this season if he stays fit. Last season, his pre-season form was stopped by an injury in the opening game against Reading. He returned for October and scored in every game until he got injured again--ending his scoring streak. So here's to the fitness of Rooney throughout the season.
So Sir Alex gave Rafel da Silva his first league start for United, kept Tevez and Anderson out of the team and started the more rested Ryan Giggs. I think that Rafel is good going forward but needs more education defensively. Patrice can help him in that department as he had the same problem when he first arrived at United.
United initially struggled to break down Albion but when they did, Mark Hasely came to their rescue--denying Rooney the opener. No despair as the England International did get his goal just after the break. Berbatov will claim the assist but Wayne had a lot to do before eventually beating Scott Carsson. Ronaldo was put through by Rooney to score his third for the campaign and put the game to bed. Berbatov scored his first league goal for United at the Stretford End and Nani rounded up things with a fourth goal--assisted by...you guessed it Rooney!
So 4-0 it ended but I was not particularly happy as none of our rivals dropped points. Chelsea even scored more than us at the Riverside. The good news though is that next week, one or both of the top two WILL drop points!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

ABOUT THE RETURN OF HARGREAVES AND CARRICK.







It has been a rather boring weekend as we have not had another installment of the incredible series that is the English Premier League. I'll be the first to admit it, I spent the weekend counting the number of channels that I have on pay TV. Now I'm almost certain that many football fanatics spent the weekend, not exactly counting TV channels, but say pretending to like golf, Tennis, Formula One, or even Darts! Reason being that I and probably a couple others do not read much into International break! I mean what is the point of watching England playing at home against Khazakstan(Sp)? I mean one has to have an teacher of European Geography to know where certain countries are located on the globe. At least I can say I know a quarter of Europe just by name and yet you can blindfold me and put me in Mersyside and I find my way to Lancashire.
Anyhow, we United fans were blessed to hear that Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves will be back in action as soon as next week. It's great news as we have been lacking in midfield options since the departure of Paul Scholes, Rodrigo Possebon, and the two maestros in question. Owen, in particular, has been on and off since his transfer from Bayern because of a tendinitis problem. At this rate, don't rule him out in breaking Louis Saha's injury record at United!
Carrick's vision and passing has made him one of the more important players to have in the team so it will be a major shot in the arm if he makes into the starting line-up next weekend.
Before I sign off, I heard that Manchester United players saved England's blushes yesterday...not for the first time eh!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A CASE FOR EDWIN VAN DER SAR!




As I blog for the 100th time on this blog, I opted to give the honour to United's Number 1, Edwin van Der Sar. The big Dutchman was signed by Alex Ferguson after the 2004 season as a replacement for the error prone duo of Tim Howard and Roy Carroll. United had, since the turn of the new Millennium failed to find a suitable replacement for legendary goalkeeper Peter Schemichael. The great Dane did leave big shoes to fill after falling out with Sir Alex.

When Jose Mourinho arrived in England, he let be known that a good keeper can win a team 15 points over a league season. Not that Fergie did not know this but, it was quite difficult to find a good custodian at the time. He had already been disappointed by Fabian Barthez, who had arrived with an impressive CV(conceding just 3 goals at the '98 World Cup and pulling off crucial saves at Euro 2000). The Frenchman, it seemed, had signed a contract with Thierry Henry instead of signing one with Manchester United. Henry barely had a game against us without netting one for himself--even when we had the Gunners hit for dead with 6 of the best at OT, Barthez ensured that Henry at least made it to the score sheet. I've always wondered why Fabian chose to take goal-kicks with his side-foot against Arsenal till I learnt of this 'contract'.

And so the drama went on Roy Carroll (who couldn't grasp a ball) and Tim Howard (whose legs were caught square most of the time).

The signing of EVDS from Fulham proved to be the most significant at United in 2005 as he was, unlike his predecessors, more experienced. At the half-way stage of that season, many a journalists were already drawing comparisons between him and Schemichael. Last season, the Dutchman was part of a water tight defence that won clean sheet after clean sheet. Even when the goals were not flowing upfront, his crucial saves won us many points as we won many of our opening games with a 1-0 scoreline.

Now whilst I know of many keepers who are good in open-play, I've seen very few who are good both in open play and in penalty shoot-outs. Edwin is one of those few goalies whom you can rely on in both situations. Among other things, he will be remembered for having kept out all Chelsea penalties in the 2007 Community Shield. It was a bit flattering to win 3-0 on penalties. Last season, he saved a sudden death penalty to win United their third European Cup!
However, given the fickle nature of football fans these days, EVDS has come under criticism for one or two misjudgements of the ball. The equaliser Liverpool got at Anfield against us was largely attributed to him, even though Wes had the last touch.
It is almost as if as soon as he made it clear that this was going to be his last season, everyone finally realised that he was old and past 'his time'. Incredibly, no one would have believed you in May but know there is general unison when the subject of his age is discussed.
Truth be told, the Dutchman cannot defy the laws of age--but even Arsene Wenger(a lover of teens) will tell you that the best goal-keepers are beyond 30 years of age. It's why he kept faith in David Seaman and it's also why he signed Jens Lehmann at 34!
EVDS is the first real goalkeeper United have had since the departure of the great Dane and therefore deserves every vote of confidence he can get. For all his shortcomings, at least I can rest assured that he will never take a goal-kick with the side of his boot to an opposing striker!
I even expect that he will soon be handed a goalkeeping coaching job at Carrington when he hangs up his golden gloves.

ABOUT DEBTS AND UEFA...


The symptoms begin to show slowly but surely It's time we faced the reality that...Our UEFA President is running insane. It could have been due to absence of UEFA Champions League football in midweek but in his boredom, Michel Platini and his board of worshippers threatened to throw out debt ridden clubs from the Champions League. Now, I never thought that I would be ranting business talk on this blog but thanks to the International Break, and more crucially our 'gone nuts' President, I have a word or two against Platini's suggestion but more importantly, in defence of Manchester United.
Firstly, it has to be said, this is all stemming from FIFA 's very own nut head, H.E. Joseph Sepp Blatter. The FIFA President has already expressed his disgust at the number of take overs that the English Premiership has attracted. He is ideally more concerned about the fact that the English clubs have taken over Europe--demonstrated by an all English Champions League final and all English Champions League semi-final last year. Much as I do not have sympathy for England and its position in UEFA, I do have sympathy for a club in England that has been cited as an example of those clubs that will be thrown out of Europe because of a mammoth debt. Manchester United, it has be known, were making bags of money before the Glazer family took control a couple of years ago. They have been, for the past decade, the richest club in Britain and have been vying with Real Madrid as the richest club in the world. United have never put themselves in debt to buy any players and therefore are one of the more financially stable clubs in Europe. The Glazer take over did put United in debt of plus 6oom pounds but as a spokesman put it clear yesterday, United's sufficient cash flow has ensured that the debt is being serviced comfortably. With the club yet to fully realise the total financial benefits of last year's success, and having the largest attendance in Britain every matchday, United are not in such a desperate need to rob the Bank of England.
Now back to our President, Platini might not be aware of how many clubs in Europe operate on debt. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool are some of UEFA's debt ridden clubs...but can anyone imagine a Champions League without any of these names? If it he or she can, then it is true,...WE ARE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS!

Friday, 10 October 2008

WHY RONALDO COULD MISS OUT ON PRESTIGIOUS AWARD.


The FIFA World Player of the Year Award ceremony is less than 2 months away. For the first time since God knows when, the English Premiership can stand out as favourite to land the award given that she produced an unrivaled star in the last campaign in Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has hi,self coveted the award(probably more than he covets the Real Madrid jersey). In any case, it could be the difficulty of winning the award in England that is driving him to Spain. Ideally, it is much easier winning the award while playing for Real than say Manchester United--for obvious reasons.
The season gone past however presents the English League with a first ever genuine opportunity to win the award. The only other time they came close was in 2005 when Thierry Henry was at the peak of his powers--unfortunately for him and his fans a certain Mr. Ronaldinho was at the peak of his powers as well.
Last year, it was believed that the Champions League trophy--more than anything else gave Kaka the edge over his rivals--Ronaldo, in particular, had only helped United win the league and reach the semifinals of the Champions League.
This year, Ronaldo has the Premiership, the Champions League and a range of golden boots to back his name for the accolade. Perhaps the only blemish on his CV for 2007/2008 would be a failled attempt to win the EURO 2008 with Portugal. Hate or love the boy, Ronaldo had the season of his career last year--and it would take some effort to better or even match that season.
However, winning the World Player of the Year has plenty to do with off pitch football as much as it has to do with on pitch football. The Madeira magician has time and time again been on the front page of leading tabloids in England for the wrong reasons. His failure to standout as a role model for young footballers by leading an exemplary 'family' life might cost him an award that he might never get even though he went on to play for another 15 seasons.
Besides the shameful nights out with hookers/call-girls, the Portuguese failed to respond to the simple gesture of at least signing autographs of United fans with terminal diseases at Carrington recently. He majestically walked to his Bentley and drove off! Despite the fact that most of his laurels are won on pitch, he also has the reputation of a diver--which in other words can be called cheating! When one looks at the past winners of the award, you cannot help but fear for Ronaldo because he sorely lacks the respect of his peers. It is why many would still tip the modest, humble and gentle Messi for the award ahead of Cristiano. Having said that, nobody will be opening their mouths in astonishment if Ronaldo does win the award because he has unquestionably lit up world football for the last 12 months!

ITS THE INTERNATIONAL BREAK--LAZY JOURNALISTS WHERE YOU AT?


Actually, I needn't have asked this question because their names are printed right before every aticle in this week's Sports pages. You just dread the International break when you read crap like Berbatov wants to move to Italy, or Fabio Capello is like Sir Alex Ferguson... /?@%!
Anyhow, apparently Carlos Tevez has been promised a permanent contract at Manchester United by the gaffer. Well he had better get him one because the street-wise Argentine is a hell of a player for us--I mean he even gets red cards while on National duty so many so that Internatinal breaks to him are more lie pubic holidays! Who knows maybe to him UNITED> ARGENTINA. Way to go Tev!
Meanwhile, Carlitos is determined to work for his place in the team as he is no longer assured of his place. I have to say that I like the way Tevez and Rooney have responded to sharing a role in the United team. Come to think of it, this might just be the reason as to why we are seeing Rooney's name on the scoring charts more often. He might just be better than last season...we'll see.
Other than that, it was rather frustrating that this International Break came at a time when I thought that we were beginning to hit top gear. Here's hopping that this break does not affect our form...or worse does not cost us any more players! Cheers!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

THE BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON SO FAR!


Well firstly, I have to apologise for the 'no show' in the past week. My server, for some reason, could not contact Google Accounts so I was, well, stuck! During that time however, United went to Denmark and collected 3 points without losing much sweat. More importantly, Dimitar Berbatov got his first goals for the club--the second, a spectacular volley that was worth celebrating(though he didn't). Then it was the 'small matter' of a trip to Ewood Park--a ground we had not won at since the dawn of the new Millennium. The appointment of Paul Ince as manager of Blackburn made it a more feisty encounter as the lad is one of those graduates from The Sir Alex Ferguson University. Now I never cared much about the physical approach of Blackburn during the era of Mark Hughes because United know how to go about that--what bothered me though was the presence of a certain Mr. Brad Friedel in goal for Rovers. The American always kept his best performance of the season for the visit of Manchester United. In fact, but for his contribution, Ewood Park would be one of those ;happy hunting grounds' for United. We always created the chances, but somehow, they couldn't just go in with this giant of a goalkeeper within the sticks. More painfully, the same colossal figure would be easily beaten by any other team that shot at his goal. So nobody was more happier than me when Friedel changed address to Villa Park. Paul Robinson can be beaten anywhere, anytime--he is the reason as to why we have had good times at White Harte Lane in the past. A certain Brown replaced the former England number 1--and how fitting that it was Wes Brown who got the opener. It's always nice to see Brown score as he is the only true Mancunian in the squad--born and bred in Manchester, for Manchester United. He is certainly worthy of challenging the captain for a place in the starting line-up.
Wayne got the winner and usually three in three is enough to send the English media into a frenzy of praise for their MVP and yet only days ago, they were criticising his 'sacrifice' for United as it was costing him goals (for club and country). Ronney benefited again from a Ronaldo assist but the Portuguese is slowly diminishing in terms of being a fans favourite. His step overs seem to have got a little bit slower and his failure to help out defensively after losing the ball is slowly but surely angering the United faithful. He has a battle on his hands now as United have got Berba! The Bulgarian takes the FLOM Man Of The Match Award for the second game in a row as he did just about everything but score. For once, we saw the hit-man fall back and help out defensively and also complement Rooney's' sacrifice'by trying to bring everyone else in the game. He was not a striker yesterday but rather a playmaker. I think that his performance made United tick--especially in the second half. That is more like it Berba and long may it continue. Off the pitch, United have secured the services of Paul Scholes and Fletcher for longer periods. Paul will do well playing as an impact sub just as Giggs is appreciating his part-time role. Giggs was impressive on Tuesday--getting an assist and linking well with the front two on Saturday--he remains vital for United. United have now picked a credible amount of points from places they dropped them last season, so maybe, this could be one of those years when IT IS INEVITABLE...